Thursday, September 17, 2015

How a GOP candidate should have responded to Donald Trump about vaccines

Posted By on Thu, Sep 17, 2015 at 11:10 AM

click to enlarge You can tell off Trump on vaccines better than that, Carson.
  • You can tell off Trump on vaccines better than that, Carson.

Last night’s marathon GOP political debate had a few highs, and a lot of snoozer lows.

But at the very end, Jake Tapper asked Donald Trump about vaccines and autism. It was a relevant question. Just last year, Trump tweeted: “Healthy young child goes to doctor, gets pumped with massive shot of many vaccines, doesn't feel good and changes - AUTISM. Many such cases!”

Yet, to the horror of doctors, Trump didn’t budge from that position on the debate stage, sharing a story of an employee with a child who was diagnosed with autism after receiving vaccinations. While he didn't preach against all vaccinations this time, he pushed for spacing out vaccines longer, despite the lack of evidence for doing so.

Rand Paul and Ben Carson, both doctors, both shrugged off the opportunity to lay down the law and tried to strike a middle ground, suggesting spreading out the vaccines longer than doctors recommend. At the Upshot, a doctor explains why they’re all so wrong. We’ve written about this issue quite a few times ourselves.

As a former high school debater, I like to imagine how someone would actually respond in these debates if given the policy positions of a Rand Paul, a Mike Huckabee, a Jeb Bush or a Marco Rubio. How would this fictional Republican candidate respond? How would he play to the base? What will make the crowd cheer? What could he say that would get headlines and soundbites the next day?

Here’s my run at it:

“Jake? Jake? Jake!

Can, I throw in a word here? As a fictional Republican candidate, I haven’t been called on all night.

Jake, I’m horrified by what I’ve heard here. This is more offensive than anything Mr. Trump’s ever uttered about weight or appearance or sex or gender. This is worse than casual ignorance on foreign policy – that might cost lives if he’s someday elected president – but, frankly, that’s not going to happen.

But just saying what he’s said today, on this podium, could literally kill kids

The fear of vaccines was based on a lie from a fraud doctor in Britain named Andrew Wakefield, who perpetuated a hoax more insidious and destructive than anything that’s ever fallen from Hillary Clinton’s lips or been deleted from her email server. He’s since been exposed and disgraced, his article retracted and shown for the lie it is. But since then, the falsehood has spread like smallpox – vaccines cured smallpox, by the way – thanks to liberal publications like Rolling Stone, thanks to ignorant Playboy models and liberal Hollywood actors, thanks to a reality TV star who sent out a tweet linking autism and vaccines just last year. He’s on stage tonight. A fear of vaccines have taken hold, mostly in wealthy liberal communities, but with some conservatives too. And you know who’s paid the price? Children.

We talked a lot tonight about protecting human life. Every American understands the moral worth of an infant, and every American should be horrified when those infants die of measles or whooping cough, as they have in Washington and here in California, when we have such an easy way to stop it.  Some of these infants are too young to be vaccinated, and rely on everyone else to be vaccinated. When you don’t vaccinate, you don’t just put your child’s life on the line, you put everyone else’s in danger too.
I still remember coming home from the hospital – let me finish, Jake, you haven’t let me talk all night – and holding little Fictional Republican Candidate Jr. in my arms as he opened his wrinkly eyes. And, Mr. Trump, you think your ignorance, your penchant to sling off tweets because of something you read one time on an Internet forum, is more important than his life?

You can fret about vaccine schedules or dosage, based on nothing but fear or a desire to pander, but in doing so you just perpetuate a falsehood that the vaccines themselves are dangerous. You leave children at risk for disease longer.

Mr. Trump has struggled to name verses from the Bible, though he says it’s his favorite book. If he’s brushing up, he might want to start with Exodus, to see just how deadly plagues can be. We have the modern equivalent to lamb’s blood on the doorpost, but Mr. Trump would suggest you hand your firstborn over to the angel of death rather than put faith in one of the single most important, most heavily tested, medical innovations of the modern world.”

That’s my relatively off-the-cuff take anyway. Suggest yours in the comments.

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