Sen. Rand Paul has earned a reputation as one of Congress' more creative conspiracy theorists. In fact, a year ago this week, the Louisville Courier-Journal's Joseph Gerth asked the public to consider whether the Kentucky Republican is "a QAnon conspiracy theorist, an Alex Jones crackpot or a garden variety kook. Or all three."
But the GOP senator broke new ground yesterday, appearing on a conservative media program and taking aim at Biden administration officials in general, and the Food and Drug Administration in specific. Paul said during an interview on OAN:
"These are the people who think we're a bunch of rubes in fly-over country, and they have utter disdain for us. These are the people who would actually limit our access to treatment for Covid. They are, right now, as we speak, limiting monoclonal antibodies being sent to Florida. Too many deplorables, too many Republicans, too many conservatives are getting sick, and so their way to punish us is by not sending treatments and I think it's abominable."
He did not appear to be kidding.
Let's unpack this a bit because, the senator's bizarre worldview notwithstanding, this is incredibly important. Right off the bat, the idea that federal officials are deliberately limiting access to Covid treatments as part of a political scheme to "punish" conservatives is utterly insane.
Reality is far less provocative. As we've discussed, the FDA announced this week that the monoclonal antibody treatments from Regeneron and Eli Lilly should no longer be used. The drugs had received emergency-use authorizations, but because they don't work against the omicron variant, and omicron accounts for 99.9 percent of all Covid infections in the United States, federal health regulators decided revoking the authorization was the obvious move.
Both drugmakers endorsed the policy change, agreeing that the infusion treatments aren't effective against omicron, so their continued use no longer makes sense.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has whined excessively about the FDA ending access to ineffective treatments, but even he didn't go as far as Kentucky's junior senator, who apparently expects people to believe the FDA is conspiring against Republicans.
What's more, it's important to appreciate the degree to which Paul has turned reality upside down. The Biden administration is not limiting conservatives' access to Covid protections; it's doing the opposite, making safe, free, and effective vaccines and boosters available to all Americans — regardless of ideology, party affiliation, or residency in "fly-over country."
If evil, liberal bureaucrats were secretly conspiring to "punish" conservatives, they'd be doing exactly the opposite of what the Biden administration is doing now. If there were an actual plot against the right, we'd likely see the White House encouraging the "deplorables" to turn to monoclonal antibody treatments that no longer work, while discouraging them from taking advantage of vaccines that do work.
But that's not at all what's happening.
Finally, let's also note for context that if Republicans take back a Senate majority in this year's midterm elections, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee — which has oversight authority over the FDA — might very well be chaired by the confused and conspiratorial ophthalmologist who believes the agency is conspiring to punish people who share his political beliefs.
No one would benefit from such a scenario, but it might very well happen anyway.