It was just a couple of weeks ago when the New York Times’ Blake Hounshell tweeted that Virginia’s Glenn Youngkin — not Greg Abbott or Ron DeSantis — had “defined the new Republican mainstream position” when it comes to vaccines: the GOP is for the vaccine but opposes vaccine mandates. How or why Hounshell decided to work the word “new” into that tweet is a mystery to us; Youngkin certainly wasn’t the first Republican to forward that idea.

Fast-forward a couple of weeks, and MSNBC has published an opinion piece on why Republicans hate vaccine mandates but love vaccines. It’s all pretty much summed up in the subhead: “Vaccine mandates go against small government? Maybe — but is a pandemic the time to lean into that?”

Opinion columnist Hayes Brown writes:

… as many people have pointed out, the Republican senators who demonize the mandate for the private sector are themselves already vaccinated.

That may seem like another bit of blatant hypocrisy from the GOP. But for a party that’s more notable for abandoning its moral foundations in pursuit of naked power grabs, this rejection of a federal vaccine mandate is actually one of the most ideologically consistent stances that the Republican Party has held in a decade. It’s unfortunate, though, that the party has chosen to find its conservative, small-government ideals only in relation to a pandemic that is still killing 1,100 Americans a week.

The justification for this seeming dissonance, at least in their framing, comes down to personal choice.

How is it blatant hypocrisy when we’re talking about two different things: choosing to get the vaccine and forcing someone else to get it at the cost of their job or maybe even worse?

This is stupid.

Did MSNBC really think they’d owned the GOP with this one?