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The anti-vaxx style in Republican politics


As conservatives try to preemptively blame anybody but the people actually responsible (i.e. cynical anti-vaxx conservative elites) for the coming wave of eminently preventable illness and death heavily concentrated among Trump supporters, the “cynical” part is worth emphasizing:

Maybe Ron Johnson is dumb enough to actually believe his own bullshit, but most of the conservative elites selling vaccine skepticism to the supporters and viewers they clearly hold in deep contempt know perfectly well that the vaccine is safe and effective. Every time Tucker has an anti-vaxx bullshit artist like Alex Berenson on he knows he’s increasing the chances that his own viewers die senselessly.

There is no question that Tucker Carlson has been vaccinated. The only question is when, and my guess is that like his boss he got the shots even before most nurses and 75-year-olds did. When reporters call him on the fact that he’s obviously urging his viewers to take insane risks he would never dream of taking on his own, he’s developed a trademark intelligence-insulting smirking fratboy stock answer:

Near the end of our call, I asked Carlson if he’d been vaccinated against COVID-19. He paused. “Because I’m a polite person, I’m not going to ask you any supervulgar personal questions like that.”

I told him he was welcome to ask me whatever he wanted.

“That’s like saying, ‘Do you have HIV?’” he said. “How about ‘None of your business’?” He broke into a cackle, like a hyena let loose in Brooks Brothers. “I mean, are you serious? What’s your favorite sexual position and when did you last engage in it?” (This has apparently become his go-to line when asked whether he’s been vaccinated; Carlson offered the same retort to Ben Smith of the New York Times.)

This is, as Megan Carpentier observes, a decades-old Howard Stern gag somebody should probably defuse by just giving a straight answer. But it’s in its own way revealing — the idea that vaccination is a purely personal and private manner makes exactly as much sense as saying that your decision to put down a pint of Knob Creek before driving is a purely personal and private manner. So while it’s cynical, the anti-vaxx snake oil people like Tucker are selling to the Republican rank-and-file also reflect core principles of American conservatism, such as “it’s immoral to let a sucker keep his money,” “I’ve got mine Jack,” “what’s in it for me?” and “you fucked up, you trusted us.”

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