Perry Stands Up for Science

Before you get too excited about the headline, let’s make it clear that this happened in the context of Gov. Rick Perry seeking the Republican nomination for president. So while it would be great to be able to say that Gov. Perry has offered mainstream science a sincere Texan bear hug, it’s more likely that his defense of science was commanded by the politics of the day.

This all originates from Monday’s Republican presidential debate.

Gov. Perry has appeared in recent weeks to be locked in a two-man race for the nomination with former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. Many political observers believe part of Gov. Perry’s strategy to win the war against Gov. Romney is winning the battle for the votes of social conservatives against U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, herself not exactly a champion for science.

Which brings us to Monday’s debate in which Gov. Perry was hit hard for his controversial move to mandate the HPV vaccine for girls in Texas. Throwing some of the hardest punches was Rep. Bachmann, who in an interview after the debate said a tearful woman approached her to say her daughter suffered mental retardation because of the vaccine.

Gov. Perry pounced:

“I think that was a statement that had no truth in it, no basis in fact.”

It appears that Gov. Perry has his mainstream science down pat on this one. CBS news reports that according to the Centers for Disease Control, 35 million doses of the vaccine have been given since 2006 with zero reports of it causing mental retardation.

So when the political winds demand it (read: when he’s trying to defend a controversial decision he made), Gov. Perry is all well and good with science. This is in stark contrast with the Gov. Perry who claims there are “gaps” in evolutionary science and that climate change science is a scam perpetrated by money-grubbing scientists. Those other claims — to paraphrase Gov. Perry — have no truth in them, no basis in fact.

It’s sad for the children of Texas that when Gov. Perry says something that is actually grounded in mainstream scientific fact, it inspires a sense of irony. And it’s a kettle-pot moment when the governor calls out another candidate for a loose grasp of scientific knowledge.

Now if only we could get Rep. Bachmann to embrace evolution and climate change science.

2 thoughts on “Perry Stands Up for Science

  1. It’s clear that Bachmann made up the whole story. There was no crying woman. Otherwise I would have to believe that after the debate Bachmann found herself in the parking alone with this fictional woman. Nobody, not a single person, has come forward in support of Bachmann’s story. Not an aide, not a campaign worker, not an audience member, reporter, not a single soul. However, I’m equally sure that Bachmann is an “anti-vaxer,” as just one of many conspiracy theories to which she adheres.

    Bachmann will not back down on the story because she is neither able to distinguish fantasy from reality in her brain, nor admit that she was wrong. People keep making excuses for Bachmann but the bottom line is that she’s a pathological liar and she just makes stuff up out of whole cloth to support her peculiar interpretation of the world. It makes her incompetent, not criminal.

    Perry, on the other hand, is a calculating panderer and it just so happened, for once, that he landed on the side of science. However, that said, I’m also in agreement that the original vaccination order was a good thing, including the opt-out clause. My daughters received the vaccinations. Perry is clever that he can work this issue both ways. On the one hand he can boast that he worked to protect women’s lives (true) and he can say that he made a mistake (not so true) after the order was rescinded. Thus he courts voters on both sides. Well played, Rick.

  2. We should not forget that the Religious Right has another bone(r) to pick with this vaccine. For them it is a free pass for promiscuity because, as you all ‘know’, the only thing that keeps girls from whoring around 24/7 is the fear of contracting the papilloma virus and the only reason to vaccinate them is to remove that barrier.
    Btw, the same argument was used in India by (non-Christian) conservatives. Their ‘compromise’: only boys get vaccinated so they do not infect their spouses while the sluts will still get what they deserve.