Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) earned glowing reviews for her performance in Monday’s CNN/Tea Party presidential debate. Her perceived finest moment: Hammering Texas Gov. Rick Perry over his (quickly overruled) 2007 executive order mandating that “innocent little 12-year-old girls” in Texas get vaccinated against the sexually transmitted infection HPV. Bachmann didn’t fare as well, however, in her post-debate media blitz, ill-advisedly repeating the cautionary tale of a mother who claimed her daughter “suffered from mental retardation” because of the HPV vaccine. Has Bachmann “jumped the shark” (as Rush Limbaugh suggests) by attacking vaccines instead of just Perry?
Bachmann is sabotaging herself: Bachmann’s odd assertion sounds a lot like the “thoroughly debunked” claim that childhood vaccines cause autism, says Doug Mataconis at Outside the Beltway. And as with the autism “nonsense,” there is no evidence that the HPV vaccine has ever caused anything like “mental retardation.” Bachmann really blew it here, quickly fleeing the debate’s winner’s circle for the fringe camp of “anti-vaccine wingnuts like Jenny McCarthy.”
This is just Bachmann being Bachmann: “News flash: Vaccine luddism is rather widespread,” says Dave Weigel at Slate. And the fact that it’s Bachmann who’s tapped into it is “totally unsurprising,” given her penchant for “endorsing or ‘just asking questions’ about dark theories that she’s overheard.” Really, such claims are just par for the course with Bachmann.
Whatever her reasons, this will cost Bachmann: “I liked Michele Bachmann. A lot,” says Lori Ziganto at RedState. That ends now. I don’t care if she’s “actually cuckoo pants or if she’s just lying and using children and the fears of their parents to score political points,” but this “tall tale” about a 12-year-old absurdly “catching” mental retardation — something you’re born with — tells me all I need to know: Bachmann’s “not very bright” and she’s a “Jenny McCarthyist.” Let’s not forget: “Vaccinations save lives.”
By: The Week, Opinion Brief, September 14, 2011