While coronavirus cases are soaring across the United States and exponential, uncontrollable spread of the virus is feared for a third major wave in 2020, having a dinner party under any circumstances seems like a pretty questionable idea. Which is why the idea of the US Congress throwing one for new members in an enclosed dining space drew outrage on social media.
NBC News reporter Leigh Ann Caldwell shared a photo of the gathering on Friday, which was quickly quote tweeted into oblivion by people who were furious not at her, but at the nation’s leaders who apparently feel hosting a large indoor dinner while a pandemic rages out of control is a good idea.
House Dem and GOP leaders are holding respective dinners for new members.
— Leigh Ann Caldwell (@LACaldwellDC) November 13, 2020
Though Pelosi was quoted as saying the event was “very spaced” and ventilation was improved for the event, any large gathering indoors is a bad idea with uncontrollable spread of COVID-19 infiltrating basically every aspect of American society. College football is on the verge of collapse, college basketball is struggling as well and Americans are being asked to pare down Thanksgiving gatherings and avoiding travel in several states as new restrictions on public life are coming back across the country.
Couple that with the advanced age of many people in congress — putting them squarely in the population particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 — and it was safe to say that the image did not go over very well on social media. MSNBC’s Chris Hayes was particularly unhappy.
cancel your precious dinner, you maniacs. my god. https://t.co/6ofrXjqCns
— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) November 13, 2020
Dan Rather wasn’t happy about it, either.
This strikes me as a bad idea, a dangerous idea. It’s also exactly the wrong message to send to America as the pandemic spikes. https://t.co/ZKL6Nk9jq9
— Dan Rather (@DanRather) November 13, 2020
Billy Eichner called it “terrible” and “embarrassing” for everyone involved.
Terrible and embarrassing for all involved. https://t.co/fd8CnAIumL
— billy eichner (@billyeichner) November 13, 2020
Chelsea Clinton pled with government officials to cancel the event.
Please cancel these in-person dinners, @SpeakerPelosi & @kevinomccarthy to keep everyone safe from #covid19 – yourselves, your new members, servers, the Capitol police and all of their families and contacts. And, to show public health leadership. https://t.co/HC1AOYYBgp
— Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) November 13, 2020
There were a lot of good points made about the message it sends about the elite in America and what normal human beings living through the worst health crisis in decades may take from the symbolism here.
This should be canceled and frankly I'm shocked anybody thought having an indoor social meal right now was a good idea to begin with https://t.co/Km89AGBU1m
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) November 13, 2020
This is an incredibly bad idea. And even if they have epic ventilation and no one gets sick it sends a terrible message to people around the country who will reasonably take it as a signal that getting together with family is probably fine. Terrible decision. https://t.co/A5ywQsnUDM
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) November 13, 2020
"I never thought the virus would eat my face" says people who attended the "virus eating people faces" orientation dinner. https://t.co/6MlrdeKYNN
— Elie Mystal (@ElieNYC) November 13, 2020
Covid rules are for the little people https://t.co/wBNwd0kXkm
— Buck Sexton (@BuckSexton) November 13, 2020
Imagine reading this as a business owner closed down for the last 8 months. Special rules for our elites, it would seem. https://t.co/qLSamE7lxg
— Bill Melugin (@BillFOXLA) November 13, 2020
this legitimately looks like the red keep is that what we’re going for https://t.co/wNztmzNh7L
— ☕netw3rk (@netw3rk) November 13, 2020
yet another exhibit for why the dems need new leadership https://t.co/6M2HT1Pby0
— b-boy bouiebaisse (@jbouie) November 13, 2020
Come the fuck on. So many people in public health are working SO HARD to get people to stay safe & not see their families at Thanksgiving, and this is what political leadership does? No cranberry sauce for you, but banquet in a gilded chamber for us. No really, totes safe! https://t.co/RZx6rEwMvA
— Rebecca Traister (@rtraister) November 13, 2020
My parents can’t come for Thanksgiving. My kid can’t go to school. We’re seven months into WFH. But hey… https://t.co/XzhWzmRqkI
— Susan Glasser (@sbg1) November 13, 2020
So Americans should think about canceling thanksgiving – at the request of experts and politicians – but Dems & Repubs want to host a dinner party? https://t.co/K4pskU8fyF
— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) November 13, 2020
this is ludicrous. absolutely ludicrous.
they're doing exactly what health officials are telling the rest of us not to do.
i hate it here https://t.co/8HaHhHncIo
— 🍁Imani Gandied Yams🍁 (@AngryBlackLady) November 13, 2020
I see the Georgia Senate run-off messaging is going to be the usual "We're Democrats, go fuck yourself." https://t.co/ybJ9RJhmjH
— Matt Stoller (@matthewstoller) November 13, 2020
This is a mindblowing failure of leadership. https://t.co/wAxFVkb82q
— Binyamin Appelbaum (@BCAppelbaum) November 13, 2020
don't go to this dinner, you fucking idiots https://t.co/aCWPevr8bU
— Jason Linkins (@dceiver) November 13, 2020
So…do these people listen to any of their own rules ever? https://t.co/8dSUbNS3EZ
— Janice Dean (@JaniceDean) November 13, 2020
There are, quite literally, thousands and thousands more reactions to this image. Many are disbelief, shock, anger, or a combination of those emotions. Hopefully the event goes off safely and no one gets the wrong idea from hosting a gathering like this, but in a year where Americans have longed for proper guidance and aid from their government in a time of crisis without recent compare, this wasn’t a move that helped or made anyone feel better about anything at all.