After Republican 2016 hopefuls spent a day struggling to finesse the vaccination debate, the 67-year-old Clinton weighed in roughly an hour before midnight: “The science is clear,” she tweeted late Monday. “The earth is round, the sky is blue, and #vaccineswork. Let’s protect all our kids. #GrandmothersKnowBest.”
— Hillary Clinton, grandma-in-chief, Gabriel Debenedetti, Politico, yesterday
That’s right, folks. Hillary Clinton thinks that the debate (such as it is) about childhood vaccines concerns whether or not the vaccines are effective in preventing the targeted diseases, rather than whether the vaccines can have the side effect of causing autism.
Most people, I’m pretty sure, know that the controversy actually concerns a research paper (published in 1998) that suggested a causal relationship between the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine and the increase in the rates of diagnosed autism in recent decades, a research paper that has long been discredited. But apparently Clinton is unaware of the nature of the controversy and thinks it’s about the effectiveness of the vaccine in preventing measles, mumps and rubella.
Or else she thinks that a cutesy social-media sound bite announcing which side she’s on in this current, high-profile controversy—even a sound bite that misleads about the very nature of the controversy—is a good idea because the subject provides a tie-in with her new status as a grandmother. Discussing the actual nature of the issue would require more than 140 characters and some intellectual input, especially if the statement would provide facts such as that the research study at the heart of the debate has been debunked. So that’s out-of-the-question. The purpose isn’t to persuade about an important and imminent matter; it’s to make a statement about her campaign.