Friday, February 23, 2007

"Governor Goodhair" Gets Jiggy with Gardasil

In recent weeks in Texas, the GOP governor Rick Perry (AKA "Governor Goodhair" so dubbed by the recently deceased Molly Ivins) got into hot water from mostly his conservative constituent base over his sudden, surprising mandate that all 11 to 12 year old girls get the vaccine for cervical cancer as a requirement for school attendance. The thing is, this vaccine only got approved mere months ago, and it also turns out that the manufacturer - Merck - of the vaccine - named Gardasil - was running a behind-the-scenes campaign to get the usage of the vaccine mandated in various state legislatures. Since there's been such a public outcry against this mandate, Merck has withdrawn its lobbying campaign.

First, it probably shouldn't be a surprise that a pharmaceuticals company runs a behind-the-scenes campaign to get a given state to run its products. Also, I don't necessarily dismiss the idea that these young girls should get vaccinated (but don't you go around saying that I accept the idea, either!). However, to MANDATE it, and to mandate it so soon after it got approved, and to discover that the company that just happens to make said vaccine was instrumental in getting a politician to mandate it is just a bit too much for your average Texas parent to take. The operative word here regarding Gov. Perry is "sellout".

I suppose that it shouldn't be a surprise that a politician has sold out on his constituency. In fact, the bigger surprise probably is when a politician DOESN'T sell out on his or her constituency. It's just that - well, Perry was so obvious about it. Yeah, yeah, he gave the ol' "I was thinking of the children" speech, but we all know that he pulled the standard M.O. for sellout politicians (is that a redundancy?) by implementing as public policy the profitary desires of a company that slipped him a campaign donation.

He also knew that some of his usual critics (liberals, in case you hadn't already figured it out) would be on board with the idea, since they're into socialized medicine and handing over your health concerns to Big Brother and all that. But to risk alienating the base that had stuck by him all these years . . . ! As the previously mentioned Molly Ivins once said, "You gotta dance with the one that brung ya!" So Perry's move comes across as almost foolishly greedy. I say "almost" because he's not up for election for another 4 years, and we don't know yet whether this will hurt his re-election chances. Time will tell. In any case, Perry has his money, and I hope both he and his money are very happy together.

Just so you know, I didn't vote for him. Now you see why!

No comments: