Posts Tagged ‘rick perry’

Rick Perry’s not interesting, and I’d hoped and assumed he was pretty much done after the “oops” flub, where his own policies on shutting down government departments didn’t hold his attention enough for him to recall them during a debate. It wouldn’t be fair to annihilate his prospects based on something as human as momentary aphasia, but I wouldn’t have particularly mourned the injustice in this case.

But he seems to still be around, and there’s at least one weapon in his political arsenal which he hadn’t fully deployed until this week. Namely: being unbelievably whiny.

Here’s what he says in a recent, reassuringly low-budget campaign video:

I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a Christian, but you don’t need to be in the pew every Sunday to know that there’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school.

As President, I’ll end Obama’s war on religion. And I’ll fight against liberal attacks on our religious heritage.

Faith made America strong. It can make her strong again.

I’m Rick Perry and I approve this message.

The internet’s been having some fun with this one. I particularly like Lord Perrymort.

The Christian persecution complex that comes through when people say things like this deserves all the mockery it gets, given that Christians have consistently comprised upwards of 70% of the US population, including every president the country’s had for centuries.

Obama’s “war on religion” is something they cry about when he mentions being “blessed” in his Thanksgiving speech, but doesn’t give the Christian god a personal shout-out. Never mind the amount of time Obama and his family tend to spend hanging around Christmas trees at this time of year, or with various other denominationally festive business. He’s still not doing enough to make the privileged majority feel special.

Perry can’t even cite a single non-imaginary example of this supposed war being waged. He complains about the things his kids aren’t allowed to openly do, but it’s complete nonsense.

And there’s some homophobic bigotry thrown into the mix too. Gays serving openly in the military is something to be, at best, grudgingly put up with, but it’s still evidence of what’s wrong with this country that we can’t have some more good old religious repression to keep them in their place.

He followed this performance up in a later interview, where he said nothing of any real originality or value, and Wolf Blitzer pointed out a number of pertinent objections without ever making it obvious that he thinks Perry’s an idiot.

Why are our children not allowed to pray in school? Why can they not celebrate Christmas?

They are, and they can, and it’s pathetic how far out of their way everyone else has to go in appeasing and making room for you before you’ll stop whining about unfair treatment.

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Troy Davis has been awaiting the death penalty since his conviction for murder in 1991.

There was never any physical evidence linking him to the crime, and no murder weapon was found. He was convicted largely on the basis of eyewitness testimony.

Of the nine non-police eyewitnesses who testified against Troy, seven have since taken it back, alleging police coercion and intimidation.

Still, he’s due to be killed in three days’ time.

This is all happening in Georgia. Meanwhile, Rick Perry’s home state of Texas is the place with the highest rate of criminal exoneration based on DNA testing in the country. Perry presides over one of the most thorough and persuasive bodies of empirical evidence that eyewitness testimony is dangerously unreliable and is sending innocent people to prison or to their deaths.

He’s not interested. It’s something he’s “never struggled with“. Nor, it seems, have the judiciary in the state of Georgia.

The attitude that develops among Perry and others in charge of states that mandate the death penalty seems to run something like this:

“The state has the right to murder people it deems guilty of unacceptable crimes; we’re going to take pride in these people’s deaths; and we’re going to deliberately forego procedures which are known to uncover mistakes in the system, and which would almost certainly demonstrate the innocence of men and women whose lives we intend to take.”

I’m not getting into the sticky theological issue today of exactly what “evil” is, but I’d say that’s a pretty good start.

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Okay, no. I’m not actually proposing a direct causative link between those two things; I’m not the Daily Mail. The evidence that proximity to Republican presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann causes life-threatening illness is, at best, hazy and inconclusive.

What has happened is that she has strongly opposed a certain vaccine, which is known to prevent cervical cancer in women, and which fellow White House wannabe Rick Perry attempted to mandate for all girls of a certain age in the state where he was Governor.

The safety of the vaccine is well understood, by a number of scientific bodies which have explored the matter in some depth. Michelle Bachmann, however, reminded us that there’s another side to the story:

I had a mother last night come up to me here in Tampa, Florida, after the debate. She told me that her little daughter took that vaccine, that injection, and she suffered from mental retardation thereafter. It can have very dangerous side effects… This is a very real concern.

An HPV vaccine causing “mental retardation” is entirely implausible and unsupported. If anyone can produce the medical case file from this woman’s daughter which would demonstrate otherwise, there’s a $10,000 prize up for grabs:



The host of the above video suggests that, in fact, Bachmann concocted the entire story for the sake of a talking point. The malice of that speaks for itself, but let’s be charitable and assume she really did have an encounter, much as she described. She may be fudging the details or remembering things in a somewhat more convenient way than they really occurred, but let’s be generous.

What do her subsequent actions tell us about the way Michelle Bachmann sees the world?

There are three possible conclusions which I think we can draw:

  1. Michelle Bachmann thinks she’s doing science. That is, she really believes that – to borrow Stephen Colbert’s phrase – citing a study in The New England Journal of Some Lady I Just Met is a legitimate way to reach valid scientific conclusions. One person told her that this thing happened; ergo, there is a “very real concern”.

    Now, I’m willing to credit Michelle Bachmann with a great deal of ignorance about how science works, but this still seems unlikely. Imagine she’d been approached, instead, by a different stranger, with a similarly compelling but equally false story. Let’s say it was someone whose daughter ate some Gouda cheese, and immediately and as a direct result developed a crippling phobia of her own elbows. Would Bachmann have brought up the “very real” concern caused by this particular dairy product, for the sake of protecting the nation’s children?

    I’m going to suggest that she wouldn’t. I think that, in most cases, Michelle Bachmann would not accept the truth of just any anecdote from a complete stranger, as well as the broad conclusions drawn from it. There must be some other reason why she trumpeted this particular one so vehemently.

  2. Michelle Bachmann thinks the science is on her side. Maybe she understands that this one random woman she met doesn’t prove anything, but believes her case to exemplify a more general truth. It’s just an anecdote, but it’s representative of what’s going on elsewhere. She knows that there is scientific data to back her up, but a personal story is something that people can relate to more easily.

    This also would require a substantial and worrying ignorance about the current scientific understanding of how the world works, but I find it more plausible that Bachmann actually is that disconnected from reality.

  3. Michelle Bachmann doesn’t care about science. She’s trying to score some points against a political opponent, and knows that using the right kind of scary rhetoric, talking about “innocent little 12-year-old girls [being] forced to have a government injection”, will turn her into the morally courageous candidate in the eyes of many Americans who aren’t inclined to think about this in a lot more detail. The science behind the alleged vaccine dangers doesn’t matter to her nearly as much as people’s perceptions of it.

    This is perhaps the most cynical option, but a politician caring less about reality than about their public perception is hardly unprecedented.

My guess is that it’s mostly 3, which may also be powering the delusion of 2. What do you think?

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