It was really just a matter of time before Republicans tried to turn around President Joe Biden’s “Neanderthal thinking” criticism and embrace it as an honorific.
During a Thursday morning appearance on the Fox Business Network, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) suggested the president’s recent comments—aimed at Texas and Mississippi for shedding their statewide mask mandates—should be seen as a compliment.
Earlier this week, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves—both Republicans—announced that besides repealing their statewide mask mandates, they would reopen their states “100 percent” and lift all capacity limits.
“We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease because of the way we’re able to get vaccines in people’s arms,” Biden reacted on Wednesday. “The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking that in the meantime everything’s fine, take off your mask, forget it.”
Airing a clip of Biden’s remarks, Fox Business anchor Stuart Varney asked Blackburn to react, wondering aloud if she felt her home state was also “guilty of Neanderthal thinking.”
Perhaps in a nod to Trump supporters adopting Hillary Clinton’s “deplorables” knock during the 2016 campaign, Blackburn went all-in with embracing the title of an extinct human subspecies now often used colloquially to describe uncivilized or unintelligent behavior.
“Stuart, we were called ‘Neanderthals’ when I led the fight against the imposition of a state income tax in Tennessee,” Blackburn said. “Do you know what I did? I started the Neanderthal Caucus!”
“Neanderthals are hunter-gatherers, they’re protectors of their family,” the pro-Trump senator continued, describing the extinct pre-Neolithic species in the present tense. “They are resilient. They are resourceful. They tend to their own. So, I think Joe Biden needs to rethink what he is saying.”
Oddly enough, and somewhat related to Blackburn’s embrace of the Neanderthal, the ultra-conservative lawmaker has also publicly stated that she does not believe in evolution.