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The Sciences

How the HPV Vaccine Splits the Economic and Social Right

The IntersectionBy Chris MooneySeptember 13, 2011 6:16 PM


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I was fascinated by this exchange from the Tea Party debate last night, as reported on by CNN:

Bachmann and Perry squared off on the vaccination situation, with Bachmann saying, "We cannot forget that in the midst of this executive order there's a big drug company that made millions of dollars because of this." She added that a former Perry aide was a lobbyist for the company and asked if the issue was about saving lives or money. Perry responded that the company, Merck, made a $5,000 contribution and said to Bachmann: "If you're saying I can be bought for $5,000, I'm offended." "I'm offended by what happened to all those girls, " Bachmann said of the required vaccination of girls as young as 12 against cervical cancer.

Traditionally, Republicans have managed to be both pro-business and also pro-religious right, despite rumbling contradictions between the two stances on key issues like the HPV vaccine--where a big drugmaker is making money helping to improve people's health, but the moralistic Christian right is opposed. But here the contrast is so strong that you find a right winger making a traditional left wing argument against another politician--e.g., you were bought and paid for by that Big Company. (Hmm, how consistent would Bachmann be in using that logic?) I don't think Republicans today are really the allies of corporate America any more, and I think exchanges like this--and the whole debt ceiling battle, and the shifting of energy companies to support cap-and-trade, and much else--prove it.

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