Dr. Ben Carson speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, March 8, 2014.
Michael Reynolds/EPA

The voice of reason in the GOP field?

After Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Rand Paul stumbled badly in response to vaccination questions yesterday, it was hard not to wonder: will anyone in the Republican presidential field step up and set them straight? BuzzFeed pointed to one unexpected voice with words of wisdom.
Dr. Ben Carson, a prospective Republican presidential candidate, said Monday people should not be allowed to refuse vaccines on religious or philosophical grounds.
“Although I strongly believe in individual rights and the rights of parents to raise their children as they see fit, I also recognize that public health and public safety are extremely important in our society,” Carson said in a statement to BuzzFeed News.
Carson said diseases of the past should not be allowed to return because of people avoiding vaccines on religious or philosophical grounds. “Certain communicable diseases have been largely eradicated by immunization policies in this country and we should not allow those diseases to return by foregoing safe immunization programs, for philosophical, religious, or other reasons when we have the means to eradicate them,” Carson said in the statement.
Nice job, Christie and Paul. The guy who thinks America is like Nazi Germany was the voice of reason in GOP presidential politics yesterday. Great.
Fortunately, Carson wasn’t entirely alone, at least as far as his party’s concerned. Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), hardly a moderate and a fierce White House foe, said yesterday President Obama is right to urge families to vaccinate children.
“The elimination of preventable diseases has been one of biggest success stories over the past 50 years. We shouldn’t discount it, because it has made a significant impact on public health.” Burgess, an obstetrician by trade, said yesterday. “As we saw at Disneyland, there’s a risk for those who choose to go unvaccinated.”
On a related note, I saw some reports yesterday that President Obama, as a candidate in 2008, “pandered” to anti-vaccination groups. This, naturally, was great news to much of the Beltway media, because it meant the “both sides are always to blame” principle could credibly be applied.
But Michael Hiltzik reported late yesterday that those reports about Obama were mistaken. In fact, the truth is largely the opposite – anti-vaccination activists spent 2008 angry with Obama.