John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


What Have We Learned Over the Last Year?

Posted on March 9, 2021

Feehery: What have we learned over the past year since the world stopped because of COVID?

Feehery: What have we learned over the past year since the world stopped because of COVID?

© Getty Images

Here are 6 things:

  1. Lockdowns don’t work: Remember 15 days to slow the spread? Well, since those fateful words were uttered, we have had a year of various efforts to slow down a virus that has an infection fatality rate of less than 1 percent. And what we have learned is that viruses are gonna virus. California, the United Kingdom, Florida and Sweden show the futility of lockdowns. California and the UK locked down airtight, while Florida and Sweden have not. Florida and Sweden have performed better, if you take in the totality of their experiences than either California or the UK.

  2. Politicians love power: This virus gave governors and mayors across the country unprecedented power to close down businesses, pick winners and losers, make arbitrary decisions based on personal pique and come up with fantastical rationalizations to impose their will on a largely docile populace. They loved to be the center of attention (New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy come to mind), they loved to appear to be empathetic, they loved to punish those who dissented, and most of all they loved the idea of compelling citizens to show their devotion to the state (hence useless mask mandates). It won’t be easy to seize power back from the greedy political class.

  3. Experts lack expertise: The expert class has rarely been right but has never been in doubt. It has embarrassed itself by constantly making predictions that don’t pan out, by unnecessarily scaring a huge percentage of the population, by offering contradictory advice on everything from masks to school openings to gathering outdoors (good for violent protestors, bad for Super Bowl partiers). I suppose we should cut them some slack because this is a novel coronavirus, but, on second thought, we shouldn’t. They have been a disaster.

  4. Lockdowns afflict the poor and comfort the wealthy: The last year has been very good for those who don’t have kids, those who can work remotely, those who have a diversified stock portfolio, and those who have a well-stocked refrigerator filled with fancy ice cream. They can do their zoom calls in the pajamas, have their lunch and dinners catered to them through DoorDash, binge watch Disney Plus and Netflix, and they have a great excuse not to visit Grandma. But it hasn’t been so good for those who need their kids to go to school, who lost their jobs in the gig economy, who don’t have any retirement savings to begin with and can’t find a way to make ends meet. Sure, the government has given away some stimulus checks, but that’s not gonna pay the bills in three months. The COVID lockdowns have been an utter disaster for those at the lowest end of the pay scale, but hey, if you have a few million in the bank or better yet a government job, things are just fine.

  5. The media is complicit in furthering the Panic: If it bleeds, it leads. Or in the COVID era, if it coughs, we are off, on another eight stories about how you could die tomorrow, from a virus that kills virtually nobody healthy under the age of 70. I initially thought this was a giant conspiracy to kill the Trump reelection campaign but then it dawned on me that scaring people is awesome for ratings and for clicks (as the CEO of Time Warner pointed out last week). This is now an essential part of the media’s business strategy.

  6. We need to totally revamp public education: It turns out that many, many teachers don’t really care that much about the kids. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the teachers and their unions in mostly liberal enclaves across the country are refusing to go to work because they say that they fear catching Covid from their students. This has put parents in a tough spot. How can I go to work if my kids don’t go to school? Many Catholic and private schools have figured it out because these schools have to cater to their customers, the parents. And so, they have safely opened. The solution is simple. Public money for education has to follow the students, not prop up a useless bureaucracy.

Feehery is a partner at EFB Advocacy and blogs at He served as spokesman to former Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), as communications director to former Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) when he was majority whip and as a speechwriter to former House Minority Leader Bob Michel (R-Ill.).

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