About a month ago, Alex Berenson -- described by The Atlantic as the "Pandemic's Wrongest Man" -- appeared at the latest Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) and made predictable comments about vaccines. The rhetoric was forgettable.
But as we discussed soon after, what was far more important was the conservative audience's reaction: the fact that many Americans were voluntarily forgoing safe, free, and effective vaccines was cause for celebration among many CPAC attendees.
A day later, Jake Tapper showed Dr. Anthony Fauci a clip from the event and asked the celebrated immunologist for his reaction. "It's horrifying," Fauci said, making no effort to hide his frustration. "I mean, they are cheering about someone saying that it's a good thing for people not to try and save their lives."
Alas, the macabre celebrations didn't end at CPAC. NBC News reported late last week on an Alabama fundraiser headlined by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.).
“You lucky people here in Alabama might get a knock on your door, because I hear Alabama might be one of the most unvaccinated states,” Greene told the crowd, prompting cheers and applause over the state's low vaccination rate.
The right-wing congresswoman's remarks generated news coverage in large part because Greene went on to suggest President Biden's "police state friends" could be greeted with guns if they show up at their homes asking about vaccinations.
And while that rhetoric from the Republican was indeed unsettling, it was also jarring to see and hear Alabamans celebrate the fact that their state has one of the nation's lowest vaccination rates.
This is also, incidentally, a state where infections and hospitalizations have grown rapidly in recent weeks.
Watching the Alabamans cheer and applaud awful news, I was reminded of floor remarks Senate Republican Conference Chair John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) delivered last week, arguing that he's heard the talk about the right extending the pandemic by balking at vaccines, but the senator prefers to blame the left.
"Republican elected officials have gone out of our way to encourage vaccinations," Barrasso claimed. He added, "It does seem to me that Democrats have utterly failed to communicate a clear message to get the American people vaccinated."
I wonder whether John Barrasso has thought about having a chat with Marjorie Taylor Greene.