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Posted by on Aug 17, 2011 in Health, Media, Politics, Society | 44 comments

Rick Perry “Walks Back” to His Conservative Base

GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry reversed himself—some say “walked back, I say “ran back””—on an executive order he issued as Texas governor in Feb. 2007, mandating that young girls receive the expensive HPV (human papillomavirus ) vaccine Gardasil, a vaccine against some strains of a sexually transmitted virus that can cause cervical cancer.

A measure that, until last week, he had “staunchly defended … casting it as a ‘pro-life’ attempt to protect women’s health and disparaging objections from social conservatives…” according to the Washington Post.

When Perry issued the order, religious conservatives in Texas were appalled at a measure that they felt would encourage promiscuity among young girls.

After heavy criticism from social conservatives, including a lawsuit attempting to block the order, in May 2007, the Texas Legislature overturned Perry’s executive order, upon which Perry, “[A]t a defiant news conference… chastised legislators for overturning the order… flanked by several women who had contracted the virus, including one who had been raped.”

The question is why did Perry, who claims to be deeply religious, who has such conservative views on issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage and who wants government out of our lives, issue this order?

If he did it to protect the health of young girls, then why is he flip-flopping—calling it “a mistake”— now that he is running for president?

Perhaps some of the answers can be found in a Washington Post article that examines Perry’s close relationship at the time to a lobbyist, Mike Tooney, who was pushing the vaccine and who worked for the vaccine’s manufacturer, Merck, which, according to the Post (quoting Texas news reports):

gave Perry a $6,000 contribution when the issue was being discussed in the governor’s mansion, and it supported a women’s legislators group that pushed for the vaccine as well…

And what is Toomey doing now? Well, he is now “co-founder of the Make Us Great Again super PAC, formed this month to collect and spend unlimited money in support of Perry’s campaign.”

Call it a tempest in a teapot, find some nuances and rationalizations and remind me that “they all do it.” To me this one sorry episode —ignoring all the other reports coming out, all his recent stupid utterances and all my first hand experiences with the governor of my state—speaks volumes of the character of this man and about his competency and qualifications to be President.