“As nightmarish as the pandemic has been – and it is by no means over, especially throughout the rest of the world – we’re now hitting some genuinely exciting milestones,” said Seth Meyers on Monday evening, after the CDC reported half of all American adults had received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine. As of Monday, every American over the age of 16 was eligible to receive a vaccine, meeting a deadline set two weeks ago by Joe Biden.
“It’s a dramatic achievement worthy of celebration, especially considering where we were just a few months ago,” the Late Night host said.
Meyers recapped the Trump administration’s “chaotic” vaccine rollout, in which the former president botched a deal for more vaccines and foisted logistics on to individual states. “The Trump administration had no interest in actually overseeing an effective vaccine rollout,” he explained.
“Biden, meanwhile, secured deals to buy more vaccines, brokered deals between rivals to produce more vaccines, and quickly ramped up a plan to use Fema [Federal Emergency Management Agency] to set up federally run mass vaccination sites across the country, which for some reason Trump failed to do. Maybe because he didn’t know what Fema stood for and was too embarrassed to ask,” Meyers joked, imagining the former president thinking it was the “federal elegant modeling agency”.
The vaccine rollout, along with the passage of Biden’s Covid relief bill, has contributed to an approval rating of 53.4% – more than 10 points higher than Trump’s peak during four years in office. Which is a problem for Republicans looking for a line of attack on the president. “After four years of a cruel, unpopular crazy person who never won the popular vote and never cracked 50% job approval or a 50 degree angle on his spine, Republicans can’t quite figure out how to attack a president who is well-liked and whose policies are popular,” Meyers explained.
The host quoted John Thune, Republican senator from South Dakota, who said GOP messaging wasn’t “as sharp as it should be, because a lot of the things they are doing are things that are popular” and called Biden “relatable and likable”.
“They’re watching Biden like a bunch of prehistoric apes watching man make the first stone tools,” Meyers joked.
Republicans are “used to be unpopular and just having the edge because of our unfair electoral system”, Meyers added, but “they’re genuinely befuddled by a president who’s likable, doing popular stuff, even if it’s obvious to the rest of us”.
On the Late Show, Stephen Colbert also celebrated Biden’s vaccine milestone: all American adults eligible to receive a Covid vaccine, as promised two weeks ago. “It’s a huge contrast from his predecessor, Voldemoron,” Colbert said. “Even under that guy’s most optimistic projections, at this point only a third of US adults would’ve received their jug of government bleach.”
Yet it’s not all good news on the vaccine front: a recent poll of Republicans and white evangelical Christians found almost 30% of each group would “definitely not” get a shot. “Apparently the message, ‘the vaccine is safe and effective’ isn’t as believable as ‘Hugo Chavez and a cabal of celebrity pedophiles stole an election from the least popular president in history in a plot that could only be understood by a man clutching his own pillow,’” Colbert joked.
Colbert also touched on another long-simmering scandal: GOP groups who mass-purchase books written by Republicans to boost sales and land them on bestseller lists. “That’s so embarrassing,” said Colbert. “It’s like when your dad has to buy all of your Girl Scout cookies because your cookies are painfully boring, and blame everything on immigrants.”
It’s “always been a shady strategy”, he continued, but it may have now broken the law: Senator Ted Cruz of Texas is accused of violating campaign finance rules by mass-purchasing his new book with $154,000 of campaign money. “A warning to anyone visiting Ted Cruz’s house: You’re gonna leave with a book,” Colbert said. “Also a warning to anyone going to Ted Cruz’s house: Ted Cruz is gonna be there.”
And in Los Angeles, Jimmy Kimmel pointed to GOP hypocrisy over their criticism for Joe Biden’s first day on the golf course. (Trump had logged 19 golf days by this point in his presidency – “he was essentially a player on the senior PGA tour who occasionally violated the constitution,” Kimmel joked.)
“This is when Trump is most furious that he’s banned from Twitter,” Kimmel added. “The chance to post an almost unfathomably hypocritical tweet criticizing Biden for playing golf one time after he basically spent his entire presidency on the course, and after repeatedly attacking Obama for playing golf. I mean, it’s literally and figuratively teed up for him. But he’s not able to do it.”
Kimmel also touched on the latest surveys finding half of Republican men are unwilling to get the Covid vaccine. “Listen, let’s call vaccine hesitancy what it really is: willful stupidity,” said Kimmel, “and we’ve got a lot of it.”