Editor’s Note: This was excerpted from the May 6 edition of CNN’s Meanwhile in America, the daily email about US politics for global readers. Click here to read past editions and subscribe.
President Joe Biden was between a shot and a hard place. In the end, he chose humanity.
The World Health Organization, countries like India and South Africa, and many within Biden’s own Democratic Party have long called for the temporarily loosening of pharmaceutical giants’ patents on Covid-19 vaccines. They argue that private profits should not take precedence over sharing critical knowledge that could save millions of lives. As America’s top infectious disease specialist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, put it in an interview with The Hill: “I believe we have a moral obligation … to make sure that the rest of the world does not suffer and die, as it were, from something we can help them with and help them prevent.”
Critics argued that throwing open Covid-19 vaccine data would give away trade secrets of US firms like Pfizer and Moderna, establish a precedent and act as a disincentive for companies to chase cures and vaccines in other pandemics. Moreover, they said, the move wouldn’t even speed up the immediate flow of vaccines to a desperate globe, due to the complexity of the manufacturing process.
But in a hugely significant announcement at the World Trade Organization on Wednesday, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai announced the US would support waiving intellectual property rights to Covid-19 vaccines.
Inside the White House, Biden had heard from officials on each side of the argument — the kind of classic dilemma that reaches the desk of the President because no one else has been able solve it. His position was especially delicate since he had promised to share vaccine technology with other countries during his campaign, and he is already being accused of not doing enough to help poor nations get quick access to vaccine stocks.
It was a moment for leadership, and not just because of the terrible human toll of the pandemic abroad. Ultimately, making vaccines more available will benefit Americans, since nobody is safe from Covid until everyone is.
We’ll always have Mar-a-Lago
Donald Trump doesn’t even need to friend anyone on Facebook.
The ex-President’s suspension from the social media network and other sites like Twitter isn’t stopping him from pulling off an extraordinary operation to cement his control of the Republican Party.
Trump ought to be a pariah after inciting an unprecedented insurrection against Congress. Instead, he’s consulting with the GOP about ousting the party’s No. 3 leader in the House — Liz Cheney, who tells the truth about his despotic behavior. No modern ex-President has ever held this kind of grip on his supporters or party after comprehensively losing a reelection. But Trump is not the past of the GOP; he may even be the future. If the presidential primaries were held today, he would certainly easily be the Republican nominee.
Wielding his mystical power over the conservative grassroots, Trump has made acceptance of his lie about a stolen election the price of entry for any ambitious Republican politician. His message is echoed night after night by propagandistic news outlets like Fox News and conspiracy theorists carry the torch for him on social media. So while it is notable that Facebook’s oversight board ruled Wednesday that the firm had been right to ban Trump for insurrectionist rhetoric but needed to decide on his permanent status, the verdict was less important politically.
If anything, the deplatformed ex-President, who spends his days plotting and granting audiences to genuflecting Republicans at his Florida resort, has more control over his party now than he did when he was in the Oval Office.