Rick Perry says a lot of crazy shit, but the most interesting piece of Perry stupidity that I’ve seen is what he tried to do with the HPV vaccine in Texas. Perry mandated that all sixth grade girls in Texas be vaccinated with Merck’s Gardasil vaccine in 2007, a decision that he’s only now walking back.
Providing HPV vaccine for those who can’t afford it, and educating parents and children about the benefits of the vaccine are both positive, progressive policy steps. Mandating vaccination for a disease that can only be sexually transmitted is certainly something any real conservative wouldn’t support. But when Perry’s friends at Merck told him to jump, he jumped as high as he possibly could, and was only stopped when the state legislature voted overwhelmingly to overturn his executive order.
This, rather than the aw-shucks, gun-toting bullshit, is the real similarity between Bush and Perry. Perry’s HPV vaccine extremism is of a piece with Bush’s Medicare Part D extremism. Providing a drug benefit to the elderly is something liberal and moderate policymakers could support. Doing it by creating a market with hundreds of different, confusing plans, and not using government buying power to buy drugs more cheaply in volume were just another kiss for big pharma. The cherry on top was that there was no plan in place to pay for Part D — Bush and the Republicans completely abandoned any pretense of fiscal discipline when they rammed Part D through during a midnight, arm-twisting vote.
Just as with Bush, the raw evidence of anti-conservative corporatism will be ignored by true believers and the DC mancrush media because Perry talks a good game, looks good in a suit, and occasionally shoots a gun.