Candidates for president deserve much scrutiny. Their records should be appropriately vetted. But now that Rick Perry’s peccadilloes have been thoroughly examined, the next logical question is: Are they really that big of a deal?
For Rep. Michele Bachmann, the answer, of course, is a resounding “yes!.” She’s trying to make political hay out of Perry’s “government injections” because that’s how she gets ahead politically. Criticizing a politician for exploiting an opponent’s weakness is like blaming a fish for taking to water. You can’t blame her for trying.
Less obvious is why some conservatives — most prominently conservative blogger and commentator Michelle Malkin — continue to hammer away at Perry over the issue. As Rush Limbaugh conceded yesterday, “… Perry goofed up by using an executive order on the Gardasil … He’s admitted that over and over again.”
While Malkin is correct in terms of the merits of her argument — Perry was wrong on Gardasil — the level of her outrage seems disproportionately high. This vaccination obsession puts her at odds with much of mainstream conservative opinion — including Limbaugh.
There also seems to be a bit of selective outrage.
Back in May, I wrote about Bachmann’s record, noting that from 2001-2006, then-state Senator Bachmann proposed more than $60 million in earmarks. I also noted that the Bachmann family farm collected $259,332 in federal farm subsidies. And I wrote that Bachmann requested a presidential pardon for a convicted drug-smuggler and money-launderer.
This information struck me as newsworthy — but not disqualifying. Still, I don’t recall Malkin (or anyone else) being overly concerned with my revelations. Presumably the death of outrage was explainable based on the assumption that some conservatives figured Bachmann a). wouldn’t make the same mistakes again, and/or b). was the only candidate who could beat Mitt Romney.
One could easily make the same arguments today about Perry (for the record, three months ago, I predicted the HPV issue would be damaging to Perry should he run).
Unless or until someone can prove that there was a quid pro quo with Merck, this looks like as an honest mistake made with the best of intentions. It was no worse than Bachmann’s $60 million in earmarks — and certainly no worse than RomneyCare.
So why the level of outrage?