Beset by a public relations disaster, created in part by his company’s own tepid explanation of its cause, Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly redirected the blame to the Biden administration.
In an interview on Tuesday, Kelly blamed President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandates for a revolt among his workforce – which, ironically, the company denied was the reason for its canceling roughly 2,200 flights over the weekend and into Monday.
Southwest blamed the stranding of tens of thousands of passengers across the country on bad weather and issues with air traffic controllers in Florida.
Curiously, no other major carrier reported flight cancellations and delays to the same massive extent as Southwest.
Other observers noted the chaos at the airports ensued almost immediately after the union representing Southwest’s pilots filed for a temporary injunction to block the company’s vaccination mandate. Southwest has said 56,000 employees must get jabbed by Dec. 8.
While the company denied the flight problems on that, one telling image was posted on social media: it was the bright yellow Gadsden flag, with its coiled snake and “Don’t Tread on Me” motto, hanging from the cockpit window of a Southwest jet.
On Tuesday, Kelly shared with CNBC that he in fact opposes Biden’s mandate. But he feels like his hand is being forced.
“I’ve never been in favor of corporations imposing that kind of a mandate. I’m not in favor of that. Never have been,” Kelly said. “But the executive order from President Biden mandates that all federal employees and then all federal contractors, which covers all the major airlines, have to have a [vaccine] mandate … in place by Dec. 8, so we’re working through that.”
CNBC noted that some of Southwest’s major competitors have also implemented such actions.
But the network also pointed out that Kelly told employees last month that he opposes such a policy.
“I do not believe it is up to me, as CEO of a company, to mandate to people that they get vaccinated,” he told the company. “That’s my personal philosophy and my personal belief.”
On Tuesday, Kelly told CNBC that his employees should get a COVID shot, but that they also can apply for religious and medical exemptions.
“My goal, obviously, is that no one loses their job. The objective here, obviously, is to improve health and safety, not for people to lose their jobs,” said Kelly.
The problem for Kelly, however, is that so far it appears Biden is getting corporate titans like Kelly to do his bidding without having to actually do the work himself.
A month ago Biden declared that his patience was worn thin with the unvaccinated and that a mandate was the only way to fulfill his campaign pledge to “shut down” the virus.
Consequently, people across the country, including healthcare workers, are being fired for not complying.
Yet, as the conservative website The Federalist, reported last week, the mandate doesn’t actually exist – so far.
“It’s all a mirage,” wrote Joy Pullman, the website’s executive editor.
“So far, all we have is his press conference and other such made-for-media huff-puffing. No such rule even claiming to be legally binding has been issued yet.”
She noted that two dozen Republican state attorneys general are eager to take on the mandate in court. Yet, “There is no mandate to haul into court,” she added.
“There’s nothing but press statements. Despite what you may have been falsely led to believe by the media fantasy projection machine, press statements have exactly zero legal authority.”
Pullman also suggested Biden is using something called the “emergency temporary standard,” or ETS, to push the mandate rule through faster and without public input.
Still, that process could take six months after the rule is released. Meanwhile, CEOs like Kelly are telling workers to get vaxxed by Dec. 8 or hit the street.
“Who needs the Constitution when you have an American people conditioned for compliance with even wildly outlandish things the screen people insist they must think and do?” Pullman wrote.
“Not even the fig-leaf pose of a pen signing balderdash-filled documents is needed for today’s Democrats. Whatever they say, you do. You have no rights or say in the matter, no possibility for objecting to even them forcibly injecting things into your own body and the bodies of your children.”
“These people believe they are royalty,” she concluded, “and too many Americans are acting like they’re these losers’ serfs instead of citizens endowed by God with inalienable rights, including the right to consent — through elected representatives, not never-elected dictatorial bureaucrats — to rules that restrict our rights, everyday lives, and human dignity.”
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