Tuesday, July 27, 2021


Trumpist America's widespread, deep-seated hostility toward the coronavirus vaccines is undeniable, and it's clear now that it's causing a new surge in infections. Conservative pundits could own this, either arguing that the refuseniks have good reason to put the lives of themselves and others at risk or acknowledging that people on their side have made an extremely unwise choice.

But it's so much easier for them to gaslight us.

The lead article at National Review's website right now is "Fact-Checkers Rewrite the History of Democrats’ Vaccine Skepticism" by David Harsanyi. I'm sure I don't have to tell you that the rewriting is actually being done by Harsanyi himself.

He tells us:
Vaccines do not organically appear from the ether. They are made. And both [Joe] Biden and [Kamala] Harris worked to discredit those charged with creating them.
Harsanyi offers no evidence that Biden and Harris tried to discredit vaccine creators because there is no such evidence. He muddles the distinction between scientists working in labs and Donald Trump working the levers of government as president. Harsanyi writes:
Harris claimed, for example, that even public-health experts who vouched for the vaccine shouldn’t be believed, because they “will be muzzled, they will be suppressed, they will be sidelined, because he’s looking at an election coming up in less than 60 days, and he’s grasping for whatever he can get to pretend that he has been a leader on this issue, when he has not.” Or, in other words, any vaccine produced during the Trump presidency should be seen as unreliable.
That's a context-free distortion of what Harris actually said to CNN's Dana Bash on September 6, 2020.
BASH: But do you trust that, in the situation where we're in now, that the public health experts and the scientists will get the last word on the efficacy of a vaccine?

HARRIS: If past is prologue, that they will not, that will be muzzled, they will be suppressed, they will be sidelined, because he's looking at an election coming up in less than 60 days, and he's grasping for whatever he can get to pretend that he has been a leader on this issue, when he has not.
Harris was predicting that government scientists wouldn't be allowed to offer a true assessment of the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines. The conversation continued.
BASH: So, let's just say there is a vaccine that is approved and even distributed before the election. Would you get it?

HARRIS: Well, I think that's going to be an issue for all of us.

I will say that I would not trust Donald Trump. And it would have to be a credible source of information that talks about the efficacy and the reliability of whatever he's talking about.
Asked whether she'd trust Dr. Anthony Fauci if he said a vaccine was safe and effective, Harris replied:
I think Dr. Fauci has proven, for anyone who's been watching him for years and years, to put the public health of the American people as the highest priority in terms of his work and his reputation and his priority.

Yes, I trust Dr. Fauci.
So she didn't claim that "public-health experts who vouched for the vaccine shouldn’t be believed."

Harsanyi continues:
Biden was no better, ... arguing that [potential vaccines] were “not likely to go through all the tests that need to be done and the trials that are needed to be done.”
Here's a fuller version of that Biden quote, From August 6, 2020:
The way he (Trump) talks about the vaccine is not particularly rational. He’s talking about it being ready, he’s going to talk about moving it quicker than the scientists think it should be moved.... People don’t believe that he’s telling the truth, therefore they’re not at all certain they’re going to take the vaccine. And one more thing: If and when the vaccine comes, it’s not likely to go through all the tests that need to be done, and the trials that are needed to be done.
Harsanyi writes as if this is disinformation totally divorced from reality.
Indeed, neither Harris nor Biden offered a shred of evidence that Moncef Slaoui, who was heading up Operation Warp Speed — or anyone else, for that matter — was being pressured by the administration to deliver an untested vaccine before Election Day....
But they didn't need to offer evidence because the evidence was widely reported on. Here's a New York Times story from October 5, 2020:
Top White House officials are blocking strict new federal guidelines for the emergency release of a coronavirus vaccine, objecting to a provision that would almost certainly guarantee that no vaccine could be authorized before the election on Nov. 3, according to people familiar with the approval process.

Facing a White House blockade, the Food and Drug Administration is seeking other avenues to ensure that vaccines meet the guidelines. That includes sharing the standards — perhaps as soon as this week — with an outside advisory committee of experts that is supposed to meet publicly before any vaccine is authorized for emergency use. The hope is that the committee will enforce the guidelines, regardless of the White House’s reaction....

The vaccine guidelines carry special significance: By refusing to allow the Food and Drug Administration to release them, the White House is undercutting the government’s effort to reassure the public that any vaccine will be safe and effective, health experts fear.
The next day, AP reported:
The Food and Drug Administration released updated safety standards Tuesday for makers of COVID-19 vaccines despite efforts by the White House to block them, clearing the way for requirements that are widely expected to prevent the introduction of a vaccine before Election Day.

In the new guidelines posted on its website, the FDA said vaccine makers should follow trial participants for at least two months to rule out any major side effects before seeking emergency approval. That standard had been a sticking point between the FDA and White House officials....
And it's not as if Trump was making any secret of wanting a vaccine October Surprise. From his Twitter:

And on October 7:
President Donald Trump said in a video posted Wednesday that “no president’s ever pushed” the Food and Drug Administration like he has as concerns mount that the administration is pressuring the agency to quickly authorize a vaccine for the coronavirus....

“We’re going to have a great vaccine very, very shortly. I think we should have it before the election, but frankly the politics gets involved and that’s OK. They want to play their games,” Trump said in a video posted on Twitter. “The FDA has acted as quickly as they’ve ever acted in history. ... No president’s ever pushed them like I’ve pushed them either, to be honest with you.”
Harsanyi writes:
Harris, incidentally, was given numerous opportunities to walk back or temper her claim that the process could be so easily corrupted. She doubled down, promising that: “If Donald Trump tells us to take it, I’m not taking it.”
She said that during the vice presidential debate, which took place on October 7 -- the day Trump, in a Twitter video, boasted about how much he was pressuring the FDA to approve a vaccine before the election. Harsanyi is wrong when he suggests that Biden and Harris's suspicions were unfounded -- and, of course, he truncates the Harris quote to make her seem categorically opposed to a vaccine produced during the Trump presidency. Here's what she said:
“If Dr. Fauci, if the doctors tell us that we should take it, I’ll be the first in line to take it. Absolutely,” Harris said. “But if Donald Trump tells us to take it, I’m not taking it.”
Harris's meaning is obvious. But because bad-faith arguments are all Republicans have, Harsanyi wants you to believe Harris and Biden rejected vaccines that they went on to get as soon as they were eligible, accepting the jabs with cameras rolling, unlike Trump, whom Harsanyi apparently holds blameless. These people lie about everything.

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