Rand Paul makes sense on some issues. In fact, he makes so much sense on issues like drug legalization and civil liberties that a lot of people on the left (myself included) find themselves thinking, “Hey, this guy isn’t so bad!” and almost completely forget about the fact he’s a Republican – or that he has some really, really crackpot ideas that even a lot of libertarians have found to be too much.
Rand Paul’s recent comments about vaccines are akin to Michele Bachmann’s 2012 Republican primary remarks in which she claimed the HPV vaccine could cause children to develop significant mental disabilities. This was par for the course for Michele Bachmann, who quickly exited the field after someone finally explained to her that she had a better chance of praying the gay away than she had of winning the nomination. Unlike Michele Bachmann, Rand Paul was considered by many to be a legitimate Republican candidate, at least up until this:
On Monday, Sen. Rand Paul said that he’d heard of “many tragic cases of walking, talking normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines” — a concern that has not been substantiated despite years and years of scientific research into the topic.
Throughout his comments during an interview on CNBC, Paul maintained, “I’m not arguing vaccines are a bad idea. I think they’re a good thing.” He called them “one of the biggest medical breakthroughs we’ve had,” and added, “I think public awareness of how good vaccines are for kids and how they are good for public health is a great idea.”
It gets worse though. Now footage has resurfaced via Media Matters of where Rand Paul appeared in 2009 on the conspiracy fear-mongering Infowars show with Alex Jones.
In case you don’t know who Alex Jones is, he’s the current leader of the conspiracy media industry. Dealing in stories designed to gin up fear and sell a variety of products, Alex Jones has carved out a profitable base of followers in a niche market. Ranging from stories about plots on how the Sandy Hook shooting was staged or giving airtime to fad diet pushers like Vani Hari (aka “Food Babe”), there probably isn’t an angle he’s not willing to work to make a buck – or even grab some political clout.
Paul raised the specter of big government and “martial law” when talking about vaccines during an August 21, 2009 interview for The Alex Jones Show, as Media Matters Action Network reported in 2010. He said that “the first sort of thing you see with martial law is mandates. And they’re talking about making it mandatory. I worry because the last flu vaccine we had in the 1970s, more people died from the vaccine than died from the swine flu.”
Paul, who was a U.S. Senate candidate at the time, added that he would have taken the smallpox and polio vaccine, but urged caution on vaccines in general, stating: “I say you have to be careful, you have to weigh the risks of the disease versus the risks of the vaccine, but I’m not going to tell people who think it’s a bad idea that they have to take it because everybody should be allowed to make their own health care decisions, and that’s the problem with allowing more and more government.” (Source)
Unfortunately for Rand Paul, this shows the kind of people that he’s really catering to. While they are a very vocal crowd on both the left and right, the rest of the Republicans, Democrats and independents who will vote in 2016 don’t share these insane conspiracy ideas. Rand Paul may have been able to separate himself from his father’s absurdly ideological libertarian purity, but he’s just crashed and burned on his own when it comes to vaccines. As an eye doctor, even with sketchy medical qualifications, he and the rest of the Republican Party really should know better than this by now.
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