During last night's CNN-Tea Party Express debate, GOP presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann made the case for personal freedom and parental sovereignty while criticizing Rick Perry's HPV vaccination mandate as governor of Texas. Speaking as a concerned mother, I thought Bachmann rightly scored points by drawing attention to Perry's record on the issue, his questionable fundraising ties to the pharmaceutical company supplying the vaccinations and his efforts to pursue the mandate through executive order instead of through the state legislature.
I went to bed last night thinking that Bachmann had made significant strides in regaining ground she lost in the last debate. But I awoke this morning to find this video floating around the web and couldn't help but think how these few comments will so quickly overshadow any gains she made last night.
In a post-debate interview with Fox News' Greta van Susteren, Bachmann wondered aloud whether the Guardasil vaccination can actually make children retarded:
Slate's Dave Weigel notes that while a woman may have indeed approached Bachmann with her own personal story, it was incredibly irresponsible for Bachmann to air the question on national television before checking with... oh, I don't know... a medical expert?
The CDC has recommended Gardisil, warning that the only verified side-effect has been rare cases of blood clots and an immune system disorder. I'm not doubting that a woman came up to Bachmann and said this. News flash: Vaccine luddism is rather widespread (especially so in some affluent areas where moms listen to Oprah, according to research I've seen from Seth Mnookin), and just because a mother might say something like this does not mean it reflects what actually happened. The fact that it's Bachmann embracing this -- Bachmann, who has a habit of endorsing or "just asking questions" about dark theories that she's overheard -- is totally unsurprising.