“[C]ampaign disclosure records portray a much deeper financial connection with Merck than Perry’s remarks would suggest.

“Perry’s gubernatorial campaign, for example, received nearly $30,000 from the drugmaker since 2000, most of it prior to his decision in 2007 to order young girls to obtain Merck’s vaccine against the human papillomavirus, or HPV.

“Merck has also given more than $355,000 in donations to the Republican Governors Association since 2006, which was the year that Perry began to play a prominent role in the Washington-based group, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics.”

***

“Gov. Rick Perry’s 2007 attempt to require that girls in Texas be vaccinated against the human papillomavirus, commonly known as HPV, has become a political hot potato. But Dr. Ronald DePinho, the new president of MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, says the vaccine is not just sound but ‘one of the great scientific advances in the history of medicine.’

“DePinho said that as a physician, as the president of a leading cancer research institution and as a father of two young girls, ‘there’s only one path here, which is to support vaccination.’…

“His recommendation for anyone who opposes the vaccine: ‘Visit one patient with cervical cancer in an advanced state.'”

***

“The Gardasil kerfuffle is really just the tip of the iceberg. The ‘crony capitalism’ charge has been made before about Perry’s ‘Emerging Technology Fund’ that served as a sort of slush fund to funnel millions of dollars in taxpayer money to his major contributors. The slipperiness with which he has handled the HPV issue suggests that Perry is willing to be flexible with the facts in covering up his cronyist tendencies.

“Perry’s attempted out on the HPV mandate is that he made a mistake and it was thankfully overridden by the Texas legislature. Whew. Can we just move on? But wait. Why was it a mistake if it was so important in eradicating cancer? Or is it just that he hates getting political heat more than he hates cancer? He also leaves out of his pandering the small detail that he fought the legislature on this kicking and screaming and blasted them for ‘overturn[ing] an order that could save women’s lives.'”

***

“In the extensive clinical studies (on more than 20,000 girls and women) that were performed prior to the FDA’s licensing of the vaccine, the vaccine was 100 per cent effective, a virtually unprecedented result. How safe is the vaccine? No serious side effects were detected; the most common side effect is soreness, redness and swelling in the arm at the site of the injection.

“In summary, Gardasil has one of the most favorable risk-benefit ratios of any pharmaceutical.

“Having spent 15 years at the FDA and having seen regulation — the good, the bad and the ugly — up close, I am as opposed to anyone (exceptperhaps Ron Paul) to non-essential government intrusion into our lives. But some interventions are good. Among those I would include vaccination against childhood diseases and compulsory use of seat belts and motorcycle helmets.”

***

“The Gardasil mandate was an unnecessary government intrusion. As Robert explains, it was not cost-effective, requiring vaccinations for every child at $360 a pop to prevent an infection that (a) may cause a usually non-fatal form of cancer in less than half a percent of women and girls, and (b) can be avoided by abstaining from sex (or, at least, unprotected sex).

“Moreover, the lack of a government mandate would not mean Gardasil was unavailable. It would simply mean that parents, rather than the state, would decide whether the child should be immunized. That is, it would be up to parents to consult their doctors and buy the vaccine for their children if they chose to do so — i.e., to borrow Robert’s point, we would not be encouraging sexual promiscuity by socializing its cost. And while there’s plenty of room for disagreement, a parent might well decide against the vaccine out of a conviction that it would undermine the parent’s encouragement of abstinence from sex. (Personally, I would not consider that a convincing reason to refrain from having my child vaccinated, but I certainly wouldn’t condemn as unreasonable a parent who came out the other way, particularly given the very low probability of infection.)…

“Gov. Perry’s Gardasil order is not trivial. Voters are entitled to weigh what it says about his small-government credentials, whether he really was chastened when the legislature overrode him, whether he grasps that this is not just a process issue, and what motivated him to do what he did.”

***

“This particular attack was an own-goal by Bachmann in every conceivable way. It plays into the anti-science meme with which the Left is trying to festoon conservatism. Her constant invocation of ‘little’ and ‘innocent’ children gives one flashbacks to Hillary Clinton and her tossing the ‘for the children’ mantra about. It was a senseless attack on Perry that played well with a segment of the debate studio audience. But it is one that makes Bachmann look extreme to the majority of GOP voters while making Perry more acceptable to nearly everyone else. If her goal was to take the lead from Rick Perry, something she can’t do even by the addition of all of Ron Paul’s supporters, she chose a suboptimal tactic.

“The real question for Bachmann is, ‘if you had a vaccine that you knew prevented your kids from developing cancer would you support it being available.’ This is all Perry did. His executive order made a very expensive vaccine affordable while at the same time allowing anyone who wanted to opt out to do so. This isn’t progressivism or liberalism. It isn’t even ‘compassionate conservatism.’ It is common sense. In fact, it is exactly what Sarah Palin did as governor of Alaska.”

***

“A Republican source sends over this unusual attack ad Kay Bailey Hutchison’s campaign made — but never released — in her bitter 2010 primary challenge to Texas Governor Rick Perry.”

***

“I would suggest to you that this issue about Gardasil and making it available was about saving people’s lives. I sat on the side of a bed of a young lady in Texas who died from cervical cancer and it had a powerful impact on me.”

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