We are all going to die. That's my conclusion from watching last night's Republican debate in Tampa, hosted by CNN and the Tea Party Express. What else did we learn?
Lesson #1: Rick Perry may be a corporate tool, but don't you dare suggest he's a cheap corporate tool. If you want a favor from Texas state government, four figures won't cut it. Five figures, on the other hand…
Mr. Perry's rivals pounced with a vicious fervor on his decision (later withdrawn) to require young girls in his state to receive inoculations against the virus that can cause cervical cancer. During the exchange, Mrs. Bachmann reminded the audience that Mr. Perry's former chief of staff was a lobbyist for Merck, which manufactures the vaccine, and that Mr. Perry got campaign contributions from the drug maker. Mr. Perry said the contribution was for $5,000, adding, "If you're saying I can be bought for $5,000, I'm offended."
But a look at campaign finance reports shows Merck (courtesy of Merck PAC) has donated given almost $30,000 to Mr. Perry in the past 10 years.
Lesson #2: Tea Party debate audiences love the sexy, heart-stopping power of sodium pentothal, pancuronium bromide and the trendy new choice potassium chloride, but they're less enamored of the sexy, cervical cancer-preventing power of Gardasil. Rick Santorum won cheers for his stirring defense of "little girls'" right to get cancer…
It fell to former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, a favorite of many social conservatives, to point out the difference between Gardasil and other vaccinations. "Ladies and gentlemen, why do we inoculate people with vaccines in public schools? Because we're afraid of those diseases being communicable between people at school. And therefore to protect the rest of the people at school, we have vaccinations to protect those children. Unless Texas has a very progressive way of communicating diseases in their schools…then there is no government purpose served for having little girls inoculated at the coercion of the government. It is big government run amok. It is bad policy and it should not be done."
As Matt Stoller suggested, maybe if Perry started calling HPV shots "lethal injection," he could win over the social conservative skeptics.
Lesson #3: You heathens had better find religion. Asked what should happen to an uninsured man who develops a serious medical malady, Ron Paul recalled the good old days…
"But Congressman, are you saying that society should just let him die?" asked Blitzer, to which several voices in the audience cried out, "Yes!"
"No. I practiced medicine before we had Medicaid, in the early 1960s, when I got out of medical school. I practiced at Santa Rosa Hospital in San Antonio, and the churches took care of them. We never turned anybody away from the hospitals," said Paul to additional applause.
Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Tags: CNN, Debates, Florida, Health Care, Mitt Romney, Primaries, Republicans, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, Tea Party, Tea Party Express, Texas