In the late summer and early fall of 2011, Michele Bachmann was riding high. A July poll showed her one point ahead of Mitt Romney and in the lead nationally among Republican primary voters. She won the Iowa Straw Poll in August, finishing ahead of Ron Paul. Bachmann pounded Rick Perry in a September debate with accusations of “crony capitalism” over his decision to mandate use of the Gardasil vaccine (designed to protect against HPV, a sexually transmitted disease that may lead to cervical cancer) among young girls in Texas. Following the debate, Bachmann was interviewed by Greta Van Susteren and made the following comments…
“I will tell you that I had a mother last night come up to me here in Tampa, Fla., after the debate. She told me that her little daughter took that vaccine, that injection, and she suffered from mental retardation thereafter,”
The following day, Bachmann decided to double down on her comments with Matt Lauer on the Today Show…
I had a mother come up to me last night here in Tampa, Fla., after the debate. She told me that her little daughter took that vaccine, that injection. And she suffered from mental retardation thereafter. The mother was crying when she came up to me last night. I didn’t know who she was before the debate. This is the very real concern and people have to draw their own conclusions.
Bachmann’s statements were sufficient for the American Academy of Pediatrics to issue a statement repudiating the comments she made during the interviews following the September 2011 debate.
Rick Perry had his Michele Bachmann moment during an interview Friday on the Steve Malzberg show. The Governor and the host were discussing the church shooting in Charleston when Malzberg asked Perry whether the incident should be referred to as an act of terror. Here’s Perry’s response, starting at the 13:53 mark in the video…
“This was a crime of hate. We know that. Also, there’s a real issue to be talked about and it seems, to me, again, without having all the details about this one, that these individuals have been medicated and there may be a real issue in this country from the standpoint of these drugs and how they’re used.
“I know for a fact being a substantial supporter of our military and our veterans that the Veterans Administration, for instance, is handing out these opioids in massive amounts and then people question, ‘well, why can’t these young individuals get work or why is the suicide rate so high?’
In one fell swoop, Perry managed to alienate the parents of the 6.4 million kids diagnosed with ADHD, and the 3.6% of kids between 12 and 17 receiving antidepressant medication, not to mention the 11% of adults taking antidepressants. He equated use of medication with the drug abuse that led to an earlier arrest of the Charleston shooter, associated pain medication given to veterans with the Charleston shooting and implied an association between medication and the high rates of suicide reported among U.S. veterans.
I liked Perry in 2012. He has an excellent, pro-growth record as a conservative governor in our nation’s second largest state. His campaign blew up when he made a series of gaffes in the primary debates, punctuated by his inability to remember the three government agencies he pledged to shut down if elected. His mistakes at that time were attributed to a lack of sleep or “retrieval failure.”
Given the four years Perry has had to prepare, I’m stunned that no one has done a better job of preparing him to NOT make silly, uneducated comments that make him a target for a hostile media and reinforce stereotypes that the MSM likes to draw of conservatives, especially conservatives from Texas. Perry’s poor communication skills appear more like a fatal flaw than a product of sleep deprivation or a memory lapse.