Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is still blaming news organizations for telling people what he said about vaccines during a nationally televised interview, but other than that, last week’s unexpected uproar about vaccinations has largely died down. Some lingering questions, however, remain.
After Paul and Gov. Chris Christie showed inexplicable skepticism on this, even some Republicans were scratching their heads. Specifically referencing Christie, GOP strategist Rick Wilson said, “There’s only one of two options. Either he’s so tone-deaf that he doesn’t understand why saying this is bad for him, or this is a considered political strategy. And that would be even more troubling.”
Even these choices weren’t fully satisfying. If it was, in fact, a “considered political strategy,” it suggested Christie and Paul were pandering to a dangerous fringe. But in Republican presidential politics, where exactly are these radicals who’d be impressed with an anti-disease-prevention message?
[On his radio program on Thursday, Glenn Beck] declared that the current measles outbreak is a “hoax” designed increase government control, which he “proved” by reading from a piece posted on 21st Century Wire.As Beck told it, “if you look at the 102 children in California who have been detected with measles, you look at where they came from, you see that the two cases came from 1) an Amish community and 2) a group of travelers who entered the U.S. from the Philippines. If you eliminate those two sources, there is no uptrend in measles.”
Beck and his co-host said the purpose of the system “hoax” – which major news organizations are apparently in on – is government obedience.
“Do everything you can just to obey the government,” Beck said.
Obviously, the idea of taking Glenn Beck seriously on the issue of public health is silly. Indeed, we already know his claims are demonstrably wrong: “The Center for Disease Control And Prevention has established this as a separate outbreak from the current cases spreading from California. Within this mistaken explanation, Beck got more facts wrong: there was no ‘Filipino family’ that traveled to the U.S. that infected Amish people. Rather, unvaccinated Amish missionaries traveled to the Philippines and brought the disease back to Ohio last year.”
So why care about another discredited conspiracy theory? For one thing, it’s worth keeping in mind that Rand Paul, among other GOP lawmakers, has spent years cozying up to Glenn Beck, treating him as if he were an entirely serious person.
For another, if we’re wondering what would possess Republicans competing at the national level to make bizarre remarks about vaccinations, keep Beck’s nonsense in mind.