Some at Alabama rally boo Trump when he recommends getting vaccinated

“It is pretty wild that ‘take the vaccine’ is basically the only thing you could ever expect would get Trump booed at a Trump rally,” tweeted Andrew Egger after this happened last night.

Which is wrong. There’s one other thing Trump could have said that would have gotten him booed — but he’d never say it.

Although Mo Brooks would:

I suppose if Trump had said “Q isn’t real,” that might have drawn some boos too.

Anyway, good for him for making this pitch, doubtless knowing that it wouldn’t be uniformly well-received. “According to two of the sources who have spoken to Trump about this, he has occasionally referenced polling and other indicators—such as what he’s seen on TV—that show how the vaccines are unpopular with many of his supporters,” the Daily Beast reported last week in a story about why he hasn’t cut any pro-vax PSAs. “This has left the impression with some of those close to Trump that he doesn’t want to push too hard on the subject, so as to not ‘piss off his base,’ one of the two people said.”

In fact, as others on Twitter noted this morning, you can see him recalculating as the clip plays out. I think he hoped he’d get a round of applause when he told them to get the vaccine given that Operation Warp Speed was a great achievement of his presidency. But once he sensed that wasn’t happening, he pivoted instantly to talking up the freedom to refuse.

Peter Spiliakos accused Trump of having violated the first rule of “MAGA Vaccine Club” there: “The crowd boos Trump for violating the social contract that says you can quietly get vaccinated but can’t publicly support vaccination.” That’s not quite right. Ron DeSantis has publicly supported vaccination all year and has become the second-most popular Republican in the country while doing so. DeSantis understands the true cardinal rule of MAGA Vaccine Club, which is that you can publicly support vaccination so long as you do everything in your power to reduce pressure on the unvaccinated to get jabbed. He’s taken a strict “no mandates” policy and has been willing to go to court to enforce it, even against private businesses like cruise lines that have an obviously compelling interest in making sure their customers are vaxxed before boarding.

Recommend the vaccine, then fight tooth and nail to make sure anti-vaxxers never need to take it. That’s the DeSantis compromise. Trump’s instant pivot to “freedom” in the clip shows he recognizes the political success of that bargain. Populists won’t hold his pro-vaccine rhetoric against him so long as he’s crystal clear that they bear no social responsibility to get vaccinated. Even though they obviously do, per this oncologist’s depressing op-ed today:

On Aug. 3, I received a call from a hospital that does not have a cancer program. Such calls are routine at the regional referral center where I work. A doctor at the outlying hospital had a patient with metastatic brain cancer. She was unable to walk, and without urgent radiation treatments there was no hope for any meaningful recovery.

Typically, I would authorize a transfer and start that patient’s treatment the same day. But conditions are no longer typical.

My hospital, one of the largest in central Florida, was full of covid patients, more than 90 percent of whom were unvaccinated. We had no beds available. We had paused elective surgeries the previous week and have been trying to control the influx of patients. Our emergency department had a 12-hour wait that day…

I had no choice. For the first time in my career, I had to say no.

The unvaccinated are getting people killed by creating an almost totally preventable strain on their states’ hospital systems. And few states are under strain as intense as Alabama, where Trump was booed last night:

On Wednesday of last week, the Alabama department of public health reported that the state had “negative 29” ICU beds available. They have the lowest share of fully vaccinated residents of any state in the country at 36 percent. The most influential Republican in America paid them a visit last night and begged them to get the shot — and not only didn’t he persuade them, he felt obliged to back off due to the hostile reaction. “DJT is acutely aware of what his audience wants, and particularly mindful of what they don’t want, so this is notable both for the fact that he went there, and that the response likely confirmed his instincts. Given how workshops material from the stage, not sure we see it again,” Liam Donovan said of Trump’s vaccine pitch. I’m not either.

I’ll leave you with this heartbreaking video about a community in Arkansas that’s suffering from COVID due to rock-bottom vaccination rates. The “freedom” refrain is heard a lot here, as if the only proper response to pressure from elites to do the right thing and save lives is to assert your liberty by declining.