DUSTY RHOADES: Are Flu Shots Now a Conspiracy, Too?
I tell you, folks, it's plumb discouraging.
I've said on several occasions that the problem with doing satire these days is staying ahead of reality. I make up something that's so absurd that I assume people will realize it's a joke, and then suddenly something comes along that makes that absurdity look positively normal in comparison.
Until recently, though, I thought I was doing a decent job of staying ahead.
Not any more.
You may recall that last week, I talked about the rejoicing on the Right over the fact that America wasn't getting the Olympics in 2016. Folks like Glenn Beck, Michelle Malkin and Rush Limbaugh were dancing a spiteful jig because President Obama had lobbied to bring the Olympics to Chicago (which, despite what the wingnuts may tell you, really is part of America. Just like Hawaii). If Obama wanted it, their "reasoning" went, then it must be a good thing that it didn't happen.
I went on to suggest that, since Mr. Obama had recently signed an order forbidding federal employees from texting while driving, then obviously the thing for any good tea-party patriot to do was go out there and text away behind the wheel. The absurdity there was that anyone would actually think that it was a patriotic idea to do a dangerous thing because Obama said not to. It was a joke, I swear it.
Little did I know that they really have gone that crazy. As Exhibit One, I give you the de facto leader of the Republican Party, Rush Limbaugh.
Mr. Limbaugh recently pitched an epic hissy fit on his nationally syndicated radio show over, of all things, flu vaccine. Seems that El Rushbo got his rage on because Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius had done the unthinkable: She'd gone on TV and said that it would be a good idea if people got vaccinated against the flu.
Now, to any reasonable person, this would make sense. After all, the new strain of H1N1 flu is a nasty critter. The family and I had a mild brush with it ourselves, and I can certainly tell you we wish the vaccine had been widely available a couple of weeks ago.
Not Rush, though. He blew a gasket at the very idea. "Screw you, Miss Sebelius!" he shouted on the air. "I'm not going to take it precisely because you're now telling me I must!"
It should be noted that nowhere in any of Miss Sebelius' statements recommending the vaccine did she use the word "must," nor is there any suggestion in any public pronouncement that vaccination should be mandatory. The actual Sebelius quote is: "We strongly urge parents to take precautionary steps. Flu kills every year, and we've got a great vaccine to deal with it."
But apparently, even the suggestion that a swine flu shot would be beneficial to children, coming from an Obama appointee, is tyranny on the same level as the massacre at Tiananmen Square.
"It's not your role, it's not your responsibility, and you do not have that power!" Rush sputtered to a version of Secretary Sebelius that appears to exist only in his head. "How are they gonna make me take it if I refuse to take it? Who the hell do these people think they are?"
Umm ... actually, Rush, public health is actually part of Ms. Sebelius' role and her responsibility. It's the "Health" part of "Health and Human Services." But again, no one is "making" anyone do anything. You want to risk getting the swine flu, have at it, and I wish you joy.
But you folks can see my problem. You have a major leader of American conservatives going on national radio to holler at the top of his lungs that he's not going to do something that no one is trying to make him do.
You have a prominent Republican leader going completely ballistic because a member of the Obama administration "strongly urged" parents (a group to which he does not even belong) to get flu shots for their kids.
How do you even begin to parody these people?
Dusty Rhoades lives, writes and practices law in Carthage. Contact him at email@example.com.
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