Thursday, September 15, 2011

"I'm No Kookier Than Jenny McCarthy" Is Not a Viable Campaign Slogan

The title comes from Instapundit, who, along with several other libertarian/conservative commentators, finds Michelle Bachmann's over-the-top opposition to the Rick Perry's old (and now rescinded and publicly repudiated) mandatory Gardisil vaccinations of Texas girls to be very nearly a deal breaker.
Yeah, there’s a double standard: “NBC Nightly News last night went to some trouble to attack Bachman’s views on the Gardisil vaccine. Fine; but why doesn’t NBC or the other major media perform the same service when anti-vaccine quackery comes from Robert F. Kennedy Jr. or Jenny McCarthy? No mystery here.” But that’s the environment Republican candidates have to operate in. And, really, is I’m no kookier than RFK Jr. or Jenny McCarthy a viable slogan?
I agree.  One can have a reasoned public debate over the value of the Gardisil program.  Some diseases we require school children to be vaccinated for in most states; others we don't.  There is no hard and fast rule about which communicable diseases are serious enough to require a public vaccination campaign and mandatory vaccinations for school.  It will remain a judgment call.

However, Michelle Bachman also apparently signed on to the the general "anti-vaccination" campaign among the illiterati, apparently siding with a woman who accused the vaccine of causing mental retardation (autism?)  in girl vaccinated at 11.

Personally, I fall on the pro-Gardasil side.  The consequences of the disease are high (cervical cancer in women, oral cancers in both men and women).  Best to vaccinate before the age at which likely transmission of the disease from one person to another has started; before kids start having sex (whenever that is these days).  Personally, I think both sexes should be vaccinated.  Both sexes harbor the disease, but women bear the brunt of the consequences.

Why Jenny McCarthy?  Because of her insane opposition to vaccinations in general, based on a now discredited belief the autism is caused by the small amount of a mercury based preservative in vaccines.  In the past year, the evidence for that theory, always sketchy to being with, has fallen completely into disrepute, as the study that the work was based on was retracted by the journal that published it, and the author was accused of scientific malfeasance and had his medical license revoked, which is a whole lot more evil that merely being wrong.
Is Jenny McCarthy directly responsible for every vaccine preventable illness and every vaccine preventable death listed here? No. However, as the unofficial spokesperson for the United States anti-vaccination movement she may be indirectly responsible for at least some of these illnesses and deaths and even one vaccine preventable illness or vaccine preventable death is too many.
Really, there's only a couple reasons to pay any attention to Jenny McCarthy at all, ones identified by Playboy when they selected her as Playboy of the month in October, 1993, and when when they selected her for Playmate of the Year in 1994.

Playmate of the Month, Oct. 1993
Playmate of the Year, 1994

As always, I thank the Rule 5 Wombat for his link on the Other McCain's weekly Rule 5 post.

Rule 5: All politics (or science) all the time is boring, and everybody loves a pretty girl. There are two other points, but they don't really matter...

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