Michele Bachmann: Pushing the Envelope of Stupid and Scary

Michele Bachmann is a congresswoman from Minnesota who is running for President. She’s one of the favorites of the Tea Party and has been a darling of the conservative press.

She’s also either crazy or stupid (or both). During the debate on the debt limit in July and August she promised to vote against raising the debt limit. She claimed this was the only way to reign in government spending. What she didn’t say was that voting against raising the dept limit wasn’t cutting up the government credit card, it was cutting up the statement after using the card. Fortunately she wasn’t successful.

On Monday night, September 12th, she was participating in a debate with others seeking the Republican nomination and disagreed with Texas Governor Rick Perry over the HPV or Human Papillomavirus. In 2007 Governor Perry signed an executive order mandating the HPV vaccine for 6th grade girls (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend the vaccine for 11 and 12 year old girls) but also provided parents with the opportunity to opt out. The vaccine is critical in preventing cervical cancer, but many oppose it because one of the risk factors of cervical cancer is sexual activity. The opposition fears that by giving this vaccine to girls, it is tacitly giving them permission to be sexually active as teens and young adults. I can’t imagine an 11 year old getting the vaccine and viewing it as a green light to be sexually irresponsible, but that’s their argument. In any case Perry’s decision was one of the few I agree with.

In the debate Bachmann argued against the vaccine and hinted darkly that Perry signed it in return for a campaign contribution from its manufacturer, Merck. Interesting that she didn’t also tell the audience that while she was in the state legislature in Minnesota she voted for mandatory Hepatitis B vaccine, which is also often caused by sexual activity.

OK, so far this is just ordinary politics. Unfortunately Michele couldn’t leave it alone. The next day on the Today Show she claimed that she spoke with a mother in Tampa Bay who claimed the vaccine caused her daughter to become mentally retarded. Of course, we’ve not heard from the mother since.

This is where Michele becomes more than just an annoyance: this is where she become dangerous. I don’t blame her for wanting to be President or for criticizing one of her opponents, but she goes too far when she scares people needlessly. It’s hard enough being an 11 year old girl, and it’s hard enough to be a parent who hopes his or her daughter will be sexually responsible and safe. Parents have to make decisions that will balance their trust and fear and it’s hard enough without added pressure. When Michele Bachmann falsely claims that this vaccine will harm your daughter, it makes a bad situation worse.

Simply put, she’s wrong. She’s giving bad information to a vulnerable audience in the hopes that they will vote for her out of fear. It won’t work (there’s not a chance she will be our next President) but it may cause parents to make bad decisions out of the fear that she perpetrates. I wrote an earlier post on the people who spread lies about vaccines in the hopes that they will benefit. This is just another chapter in that story.

Shame on you Michele Bachmann.

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