Now I'm all for taking a good, hard look at the candidates you're faced with. I'll be ripping into Romney on a regular basis. In fact, I openly invite them to take a close look at the primary candidates so we can pick the right one. But it didn't take long for the bloom to come off the rose for this candidate.
Texas Governor Rick Perry (who I've been writing about a lot, I'm realizing. I'll try to fix that someday soon.) has taken heat from certain conservative writers for actions his administration has taken. Over the next few days I'll take a crack at some of the accusations and, in my humble opinion, see if he stands up to the scrutiny. Especially now that he's become the party frontrunner.
First there's Michelle Malkin. Based on the tone of her posts and columns about Perry, you'd think he backed over her dog, put the car in drive, driven over its corpse, and barreled off laughing. Needless to say, she's not a fan.
In February 2007, Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed a shocking executive order forcing every sixth-grade girl to submit to a three-jab regimen of the Gardasil vaccine. He also forced state health officials to make the vaccine available “free” to girls ages 9 to 18. The drug, promoted by manufacturer Merck as an effective shield against the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV) and genital warts, as well as cervical cancer, had only been approved by the Food and Drug Administration eight months prior to Perry’s edict.The vaccine, Malkin goes on to say, was still being tested and its long-term effects were "in doubt." She scoffs at Perry's argument there was an opt-out in place. Politifact offered some information on the opt-out procedure.
The order included an opt-out "in order to protect the right of parents to be the final authority on their children's health care." Perry ordered the Department of State Health Services to allow parents dissenting for philosophical or religious reasons to request a conscientious objection affidavit form. That form, which has been available since 2003, enables parents to enroll their children in public school even if they lack state-required immunizations. It's automatically granted as long as parents provide all required information.Really? That's the big grief with Perry? I'm from California, where a vaccine for whooping cough is now required for students 7-12th grade before they can even walk onto a school campus. Is there an opt-out? Yep. I use Facebook, with a ton of annoying features. You have to opt out of them too.
According to the Department of State Health Service's 2008-09 immunization report, which uses data from kindergarten and seventh-grade students at 1,300 independent school districts and 800 private schools, 0.28 percent of the students filed conscientious objection forms.
Parents must renew exemption affidavits every two years to maintain their validity, according to Allison Lowery, assistant press officer at the Texas Department of State Health Services.
We thought the opt-out form for public-school students proved Perry correct until we learned that not all private schools accept the affidavit. That means some private schools may not allow their students to exempt themselves from any state-required vaccinations. Some 15 percent of more than 1 million Texas girls in fifth through 12th grade in 2008 were enrolled in private schools, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
According to a 2006 Texas Attorney General's opinion: "A private school that does not accept state tax funds is not required to accept for enrollment a child who has received an exemption from the immunizations required by the Texas Health and Safety Code."
Because if they set it up the other way around, no one would opt-in.
Yet Malkin says the opt-out was "bogus," despite the fact anyone applying for an exemption was automatically granted one if their paperwork was in order.
Maybe if I was a mother of three I would be more bothered by this. I suppose I can see her point. But even the Perry campaign has said they realized the policy was a bad one and dumped it.
Perry told an ABC Houston affiliate:
“I obviously made an error in not having a conversation with the people of the state of Texas rather than just kind out of the blue an executive order. There was a better way to do that, I realize that now. One of the things I do pride myself on, I listen. When the electorate says hey that’s not what we want to do. We backed up, took a look at what we did. I understand I work for the people, it’s not the other way around.”He also admitted to a backyard of supporters:
"I signed an executive order that allowed for an opt-out, but the fact of the matter is that I didn’t do my research well enough to understand that we needed to have a substantial conversation with our citizenry..."
A friend of mine and I were discussing this over lunch the other day, and both of us came to the same conclusion. Perry, being, as my friend who I'll call James, mostly cause that's his name, is a "Christian cowboy." He thought that by mandating this vaccine he would be helping keep people--especially children--safe. It didn't really bother James or me. His response, and one I wholeheartedly endorse, was: "meh."
Malkin's not accepting any admission of guilt, or an apology, from Perry.
While Perry and his campaign staff have now paid lip service to making a “mistake” in shoving the executive order down families’ throats, they remain defiant in defending the decree and Perry’s zealous, big government overreaching. From the latest story on Perry’s “reversal” in theWashington Post: “Perry campaign spokesman Mark Miner dismissed the criticism. Governor Perry has always stood on the side of protecting life, and that is what this issue was about…”Couldn't agree more...with Mark Miner.
Don't get me wrong. I love Michelle Malkin.I grew up reading her and learning from her. And I must admit I feel bad challenging her. I'm sure she'd have a brilliant response if she read this. But nevertheless, I think she's wrong. To sum up--Perry vaccine: dumb, but not disqualifying.