Immigration racism and vaccine conspiracies: What we learned about Michele Bachmann during and after Monday's GOP debate
It's been over for Michele Bachmann for some time. Once Rick Perry jumped into the race, there was no room for her on the right as Mitt Romney's main conservative rival. And that was that. With her poll numbers tanking, with the writing on the wall, with key staff stepping down, the dream was over.
Just last month, I could write that Bachmann was "crazy, extreme, formidable." She was on top of the world -- or at least the Republican presidential world.
She's still crazy and extreme, but now she's anything but formidable. Things can change quickly in politics.
And yet she fights on -- and, as she does so, we learn that she's even crazier and more extreme than we thought:
1) During the debate, she claimed that "[i]he immigration system in the United States worked very, very well up until the mid-1960s when liberal members of Congress changed the immigration laws." Actually, that system was deeply discriminatory, as Think Progress notes. Immigration laws passed in 1924, including the National Origins Act and the Asian Exclusion Act, established "a quota system giving preferential treatment to European immigrants," as "the practical effect of these laws was an enormous thumb on the scale encouraging white immigration." This was changed in 1965 with the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, "an act which is widely credited for opening up our nation to new Americans of Asian and Central and South American descent." In other words, Bachmann was advocating an immigration system that excluded non-whites. This is also known as racism.
2) After the debate, she sent out "a fundraising appeal," as the WaPo reports, claiming that the HPV vaccine, already opposed on the right for supposedly promoting promiscuity, can lead to "mental retardation." There is good reason to call out Perry, who mandated the vaccine in Texas, for his connections to the vaccine's maker, the pharmaceutical giant Merck, but Bachmann's claim is completely unfounded, just the sort of claim you can expect from a rampant conspiracy theorist like her. Even if you're suspicious of Big Pharma (as I am), even if you think that some vaccines are unnecessary and possibly worse (as I do, though I'm hardly anti-pharma and consider most vaccines to be essential to good health), it takes a leap into the chasm of craziness to think that this particular vaccine, Gardisil, causes "mental retardation." There may be side effects, of course, as there are with all drugs, but Gardisil would appear to be safe. My conservative friend Ed Morrissey acknowledges this, and Dear Leader Rush actually said that Bachmann had jumped the shark (as if this was finally the last straw).