Michelle Bachmann has run an admirably uncompromising campaign, but her appearance on Fox News became a disaster when she said this about the supposed effect of the sort of vaccines Rick Perry tried to mandate (with an opt-out) for Texan teens:

Bachmann said last night on Greta that a woman came up to her after the debate, crying, and said that her daughter had been given the Garadsil vaccination and as a result had suffered mental retardation. Bachmann says that Perry shouldn’t just be given a mulligan on this because there are significant consequences to the decision he made to mandate Gardasil.

I'm sorry, but...are you kidding me? First of all, who walks up to a total stranger and starts unloading about their daughter's "mental retardation?" And who turns around and goes on television to announce this breathlessly to a national audience whom you are trying to persuade to support you in a long-shot bid for the White House? And why in the world is this sort of anti-vaccine hysteria - which was whipped up by the left-wing Lancet magazine - seemingly a grave concern for so many conservatives?

(I'm going to agree that Rick Perry's efforts to mandate the administering Gardasill were ill-conceived, and heavy handed, but for all the strenuous denunciations you hear about this issue, you would never know that Perry rescinded his order, and no one ever received a dose, at least not because the Republic of Texas told them to. That's right. Perry (1) made a decision, (2) received a lot of blowback that convinced him he was overreaching and (3) reversed himself. Isn't that we supposedly want our leaders to do? Isn't that what we wanted Dems to do before voting on Obamacare?)

Bachmann has developed an unfortunate reputation for credulously repeating misinformation. At this point, you have to wonder if rival campaigns are paying people to make flakey claims to Bachmann in hopes that she will, in all sincerity, repeat them over the airwaves. What an embarrassment.

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin shows how to make the vaccine/crony capitalism connection without bringing up autism, "mental retardation" and other fringe-y matters. Of course, the length of Malkin's post proves the difficulty of making this argument in the rapid-fire setting of a debate or a TV appearance. That's why it was such a mistake for Bachmann to keep expanding on her point, rather than sticking with the basic (bad) facts: that Gov. Perry was trying to make the vaccination of pre-teens mandatory when the vaccine had been on the market for less than a year. It calls into question Perry's claim to be a small government superhero. These sort of mandates add up, one by one, until people spend more and more time and money complying with "feel-good" mandates rather than making intelligent choices for themselves. Stick with that and you've got a good line of attack from the Tea Party right. But move beyond that to Jenny McCarthy territory and you are literally surrendering the intellectual high ground.

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