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DeSantis: Vaccine McCarthyism


This is the term that Abdul El-Sayed uses to discuss Ron DeSantis’ attacks on anyone behind the vaccines that saved so many lives from Covid and he wonders whether this will backfire on our less than beloved Florida governor:

In his latest stunt, he filed a petition to the Florida Supreme Court to empanel a grand jury to investigate “any and all wrongdoing in Florida with respect to Covid-19 vaccines.” He also announced a “public health integrity” committee as a direct counter to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He follows a well-worn reactionary path: This is pandemic McCarthyism, plain and simple.

In the early 1950s, Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin used his chairmanship of the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations to become one of the most feared men in Washington. It began with the false claim in 1950 that McCarthy had a list of Communist Party members working in the U.S. State Department, and ultimately ballooned into a series of sham Senate investigations intended to smear civil servants, academics, media personalities, and members of the military. McCarthy’s mendacity came to define an era of fearmongering designed to punish and sanction anyone to the left of the reactionary senator.

DeSantis understands now what McCarthy grasped 72 years ago: the devilish power that reposes in the simple act of pursuing an investigation. While masquerading as an objective inquiry for the truth, sham investigations use the taint of the very question of wrongdoing to convict their subjects in the court of public opinion. No justification needed. They leverage the specter of due process to preclude any process at all.

At the time, McCarthy pursued his witchhunt under the euphemism of uprooting “un-American activities.” Yet the irony was that his activities were the most un-American of all: He pilloried law-abiding Americans to silence their speech. And he used accusations of wrongdoing to hide his own.

Ron DeSantis understands this too. Indeed, the most egregious “wrongdoing in Florida with respect to Covid-19 vaccines” has been perpetrated by DeSantis and his administration. He handpicked a surgeon general who would trade his scientific credentials for proximity to power, parroting DeSantis’s pandemic talking points without any apparent scientific justification. The DeSantis administration downplayed the pandemic and the efficacy and safety of the vaccines, validating disinformation to dissuade vulnerable Floridians from taking them. DeSantis well understands that the best way to excuse his malfeasance is to accuse others of malfeasance of their own, evidence be damned.

Will Republicans choose a murderer of the elderly as their presidential candidate? Well, they chose him again as governor of Florida this year so probably, if not this one, then Trump.

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