Rush: Bachmann really jumped the shark on Gardasil

posted at 3:25 pm on September 13, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

After my earlier post strongly objecting to Michele Bachmann’s attempt to link the Gardasil vaccination to “mental retardation,” the response has been nearly unanimous among commenters — and as it turns out, pundits too.  The Boss Emeritus, whose rational objections to Perry’s Gardasil mandate threaten to be overwhelmed by Bachmann’s demagoguery, tries offering Bachmann some advice on how to deal with the issue in the future.  Rush Limbaugh, on the other hand, concludes that while Bachmann had an otherwise strong showing in last night’s debate, she “jumped the shark” last night and today by repeatedly using an attack that Rush says deserves “shame.” 

First, Rush defends Perry to some extent on the issue, calling it a “giant distraction“:

If you want to get directly to the “jump the shark” quote and see Rush deliver it, click the image to watch:

If Bachmann’s listening, here is Michelle Malkin’s advice, in part:

After successfully highlighting Perry’s troubling abuse of executive power during last night’s debate, Michele Bachmann risks blowing it with some factually inaccurate assertions.

She’s RIGHT on the principles, wrong on some of the details.

She needs to stay on message and stick with the facts.

The Texas state legislature repealed the order (over Perry’s hysterical objections) before any girl was forcibly vaccinated.

And while individual stories of Gardasil harm may or may not be true (Bachmann cited a mother who thinks the vaccine caused mental retardation in her child while making the post-debate rounds), it’s not the primary case she should be making.

Again: Bachmann is RIGHT on the principles, but it gets dicey citing cases where individual anecdotes need to be vetted before tossing them out on TV. She came dangerously close to using the same demagogic tactics Perry employed in obstinately defending the order even after it was repealed.

The main issue for Perry’s actions were the way he attempted to impose the mandate (by executive order) and the connections to Merck, both of which are fair game. As long as critics both inside and outside the race stick to those points, it’s an effective attack.  If the debate broadens to Gardasil itself as Bachmann tried to do, Perry may not be the only governor who will have to answer questions about Gardasil itself, however.  Pajamas Media’s Bryan Preston reaches into the Wayback machine and discovers the state of Alaska cheerfully accepting federal funds in order to distribute Gardasil for free during Sarah Palin’s tenure as Governor:

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services announced today that an increase in federal funding will make it possible for all Alaska girls ages 9 through 18 to receive Gardasil ®, the vaccine to prevent cervical cancer, at no cost.

Earlier this spring, the department had said it could provide free Gardasil only to Alaska girls who met certain eligibility requirements. Since then, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided additional funds for Alaska to obtain more vaccine. This boost in federal aid will enable more Alaska girls to receive Gardasil. Distribution of this vaccine to providers is just beginning, so state health officials suggest calling providers before visiting local clinics to find out if the vaccine is available.

“We are thrilled that this unanticipated funding will allow us to provide the vaccine for all eligible girls,” said Laurel Wood, Alaska’s immunization program manager. “Although we have no guarantee that this funding will be available in future years, we hope to immunize as many Alaska girls as possible while we have this unique opportunity.”

The Boss Emeritus calls this a “really, really stupid attack on Palin” in an update to the linked post above, but I’m not entirely convinced. In the same post, Michelle argues:

The point is that Perry rushed to mandate the Merck-pushed order less than 8 months after it had received FDA approval. Clinical trial and safety data was extremely limited at the time. And scientific assessments are still coming in about the long-term and synergistic effects of this and other vaccines.

If the argument is that Gardasil was not ready for large-scale usage, then it’s not just about the mandate or the connections to Merck. The same argument against the mandate also apply in this case to taxpayer funding for massive vaccinations, do they not? And in this case, it’s the taxpayers who didn’t get to decide whether they wanted 12-year-old girls injected with a supposedly questionable vaccine at their expense, for a virus that isn’t easily spread through mandated proximity such as school attendance.

It’s not a problem on the same scale as Perry’s, but it’s not an unfair question to raise, either, if Gardasil itself is the problem, as it seems it is for some Perry critics.

Update: Worth noting — Perry actually has received nearly $30,000 from Merck over the past decade. Also worth noting — that doesn’t put Merck in the top 200 of Perry’s donors during that period. Seriously.

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