President Obama somehow sparked controversy over the weekend by saying that parents should get their kids vaccinated against measles, while New Jersey Governor and presidential hopeful Chris Christie thinks there ought to be "choice" and "balance" on the issue (well, he thought that several walkbacks ago). Later on Monday, other presidential hopeful Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told CNBC that he personally loves vaccines, but that parents should be free to not destroy their children's brains with them because vaccines have always been voluntary (no they fucking haven't):
"I've heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking, normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines. I'm not arguing vaccines are a bad idea, I think they're a good thing, but I think the parent should have some input. The state doesn't own your children. Parents own the children, and it is an issue of freedom."
If this batshittery sounds painfully familiar, it's because nearly the very same insanity essentially disqualified Michele Bachmann from the last presidential race. This time around, though, it looks like Republicans are staking out an anti-vaxxer-friendly "freedom" position on vaccines that allows them to be "big fans" of them like Rand, but also to keep the government's dirty mitts off of them. At Tuesday's Republican House Leadership Press Conference, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) was asked if there should be a federal law requiring vaccines, and he rolled out the new safe ground:
"Well, I don't know that we need another law, but I do believe that all children ought to be vaccinated."
Well, some anti-vaxxer kids are spreading measles through Disneyland like a viral schmear on the everything bagel of America, so yeah, I think we do need another law.
What Boehner has done is to leave every GOP presidential candidate wiggle room to consolidate and pander to an anti-vaxxer/reflexively anti-Obama crowd by disagreeing with their diseases, but defending to the death their right to spread them.
Democrats, meanwhile, have graciously been ceded the pro-science, pro-vaccine space, which Hillary Clinton snatched up with glee on Monday, tweeting:
They haven't necessarily earned that higher ground, though, as no one, not even the president, has actually said that we need a federal vaccine law to respond to the measles outbreak. Whoever gets around to doing that will be scoring the big victory here, and also, by the way, be doing the right thing. If you don't want to vaccinate your kids, that's fine. Just don't send them to school with mine. Update: Known tough guy Chris Christie spent Tuesday ducking the reporters he had scheduled himself to talk to, and Rand Paul tried to deny what he said about vaccines crippling healthy young brains:
”I did not say vaccines caused disorders, just that they were temporally related – I did not allege causation. I support vaccines, I receive them myself and I had all of my children vaccinated.”
That remark is revealing a marked lexiconical weakness among newscasters who have reported that Paul says they were "temporarily related,"so allow me to use it in a sentence: Rand Paul's vaccine batshittery is temporally related to his temporarily viable presidential candidacy. Paul also staged the worst photo op since Mike Dukakis drove a tank:
That's not the most desperate part of this, though. That would be Paul begging for retweets to show he's not a crazy person: