Another pathetic attempt to take down a top Republican fails
No, not Donald Trump.
Donald Trump has the world’s attention at the moment.
This column isn’t about him.
Since I know this question will come up: most of you know my feelings about El Hombre Naranja. Still, I admit to qualms that Trump has been indicted - as best anyone can tell - for the “crime” of (allegedly) misclassifying a payment in internal business records. Not exactly murder one. Especially since the charge comes from a prosecutor who said he would try to avoid charging armed robberies as felonies.
But forget about Trump for a minute. (As if.) The renewed focus on him makes it easy to forget for much of last winter, Florida governor Ron DeSantis and not Trump was public enemy number one.
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This effort reached (for now) its apex of stupidity on March 21, with a bizarre Vanity Fair article headlined “Inside Ron DeSantis’s Plan to Ride Anti-Vaxxism to the White House.”
Why the DeSantis hate?
Barely a month ago, DeSantis was leading Trump in some Republican primary polls. The conventional wisdom was that if DeSantis could win the Republican nomination, he would have a better chance of beating President Biden than anyone else.
But the media’s dislike for DeSantis really goes back to the earliest days of Covid.
DeSantis quickly understood the science around Covid better than any other political leader in the United States - if not the world. From very early on, he opposed the public health mandarins and their media handmaidens.
He tried to avoid shutting Florida at all, then reopened as quickly as he could. (He also focused on protecting the vulnerable elderly in nursing homes, unlike Andrew Cuomo and other Democratic governors.) DeSantis’s anti-lockdown stance rapidly led to earsplitting shrieking in the elite media. Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin seemed to carry a particular torch for DeSantis.
But DeSantis refused to back down. He insisted that schools open for in-person learning in the fall of 2020 in the face of fierce opposition from teachers’ unions. He rejected mask mandates and even stopped liberal South Florida counties from enforcing them.
Basically, DeSantis did everything that the media and public health experts insisted he shouldn’t. Yet Florida’s age-adjusted Covid death toll is comparable to lockdown-loving California and below the national average.
(It is worth noting that the endlessly rising American Covid death counts are increasingly meaningless. Even more than in 2020 and 2021, most Covid deaths are incidental “with Covid” cases of people at the end of their lives. All-cause mortality is what matters now. But the financial incentives to count deaths as Covid-related - especially the $9,000 funeral payment - remain.)
In any case, woke reporters have never forgiven DeSantis for being right about Covid, and for showing the uselessness of all the interventions they demanded.
They call him an “authoritarian” - a strange word to use for someone who refused to use state power to keep people in their homes or make them wear masks or close their businesses.
Now they have lost their minds about his refusal to bend the knee to the mRNA Covid jabs (calling them “vaccines” at this point is as Orwellian as calling DeSantis “authoritarian”). DeSantis has become increasingly skeptical of the shots over the last two years, and in December went so far as to empanel a grand jury to investigate their manufacturers.
I don’t know what, if anything, the grand jury will turn up. But the approval process for the mRNAs was unthinkably rushed and the shots currently appear to have zero - if not negative - effectiveness against infection. Which is a bit less than the 95 percent their manufacturers originally reported. And all-cause mortality continues to run well above normal in countries that used the mRNAs, for reasons no one has adequately explained.
Vanity Fair isn’t interested in talking about those points. Instead the article speculates, based a single anonymous quote, that “politics, not science” is driving his stance.
I have never talked to DeSantis about the jabs - or anything else. I have no way of knowing whether his stance is principled, political, or a mix. But his insistence on standing up to the media mob on Covid at a time when nearly the entire country, including Donald Trump and most Republicans, supported lockdowns, suggests he will do what he thinks is right even when it is politically unpopular.
But in its effort to demonize DeSantis for raising questions about the mRNAs, Vanity Fair had a problem. The problem is that nobody wants the shots anymore. Demand has cratered in the United States and fallen even further in Europe. Germany, Europe’s largest country, is now giving jabs to about 1 person in 1,000 - per month. Under the circumstances, Vanity Fair could hardly accuse DeSantis of denying the shots to desperate Floridians.
So the magazine took another tack, focusing on Florida’s refusal to recommend the shots for kids:
In March 2022… Florida became the only state not to recommend pediatric COVID-19 vaccines. In a press release, [state Surgeon General Dr. Joseph] Ladapo said the risks of vaccinating healthy children “may outweigh the benefits.” Florida also became the only state not to preorder COVID-19 vaccines for children…
Florida’s stance on pediatric vaccines sets a dangerous precedent, says Peter Hotez, codirector of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development… “There are reasons to have a federal government. To have individual states going rogue really endangers that state’s population.”
Going rogue! Endangering the population!
Florida is indeed guilty of refusing to push mRNA jabs on kids. But what Vanity Fair and Dr. Hotez, who in 2021 wrote that people who disagreed with his views on vaccines should possibly face investigation under federal hate-crime laws, don’t seem to know is that it’s not Florida that has gone rogue.
It’s the United States.
All over the world, countries have stopped recommending mRNA shots for kids (and many healthy adults). Britain and Denmark have stopped giving them to nearly everyone under 50. Last week, even the World Health Organization stopped recommending Covid vaccines for anyone under 18, except for a tiny group of very severely ill children. It wrote:
The public health impact of vaccinating healthy children and adolescents is comparatively much lower than the established benefits of traditional essential vaccines for children.
We now have more than three years of data on Covid in children. We know without any doubt that its risk to healthy children is too low to measure. It poses a real risk only to children who have serious diseases such as cancer, severe genetic abnormalities, or morbid obesity (who are luckily uncommon outside the United States).
In Scotland, for example, 11 children and adolescents have died of Covid in three years. All 11 had pre-existing conditions.
Meanwhile, the risk of clinically significant myocarditis and pericarditis appears to be as high as 1 in 5,000 two-dose mRNA vaccinations in older teens - especially boys. And sometimes the shots can be lethal. Japanese physicians reported last week on the case of a 14-year-old Japanese girl who:
died unexpectedly 2 days after receiving the third dose of the BNT1262b2 mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. Autopsy findings showed congestive edema of the lungs, T-cell lymphocytic and macrophage infiltration… Since there was no preceding infection, allergy, or drug toxicity exposure, the patient was diagnosed with post-vaccination pneumonia, myopericarditis, hepatitis, nephritis, gastroenteritis, cystitis, and myositis.
Once again, DeSantis simply understands science and data better than the his would-be inquisitors.
And once again, history is already vindicating him.
Just don’t expect Vanity Fair to notice. Much less apologize.