I have seen a lot of cynical shit when it comes to the way that conservative politicians and media whores manipulate their fucking ignorant followers, from the Cadillac-driving welfare queens to drug hysteria to birtherism and so very much more. But I cannot wrap my head around the exploitation of fear and the selfish hyping of ideological division behind the right-wing campaign against the Covid vaccine. It’s nonsensical on a health level and on a basic reality level, and for the majority of us who know that the only way to finally be out of the coronavirus despair is with herd immunity from the vaccine, it’s unforgivable.
Prior to the election of Joe Biden as president, Donald Trump, his ass remoras in the GOP, and the conservative press bottom-feeders were all about how awesome the Covid vaccine was gonna be and how it was gonna be available to everyone. Here’s Trump in an interview with Sean “Frankenstein-Shaped” Hannity on June 25, 2020: “I think the vaccines are coming along great…I think it will be even before the end of the year, we’ll have a vaccine. We have great companies, and we’re totally mobilized. Military is doing it. We’re ready to go. As soon as they have it, we will be distributing that all over the country.” Nothing but enthusiasm and hype.
In August 2020, at one of his endless, hedonistically self-aggrandizing daily press conferences, Trump preened, “We are investing in the development and manufacture of the top six vaccine candidates to ensure a rapid delivery. The military is ready to go. They’re ready to deliver a vaccine to Americans as soon as one is fully approved by the FDA. And we’re moving very close to that approval. We’re on track to rapidly produce 100 million doses as soon as the vaccine is approved and up to 500 million shortly thereafter. So we’ll have 600 million doses.” If we have 600 million doses, that means he was expecting everyone to get the vaccine.
I mean, Jesus fuck, in December, after the election, then-Vice President Mike Pence, prior to being the target of a literal lynch mob, spoke in his usual squeamish biblical tones about the vaccine: “I think every American can be proud that we are just a matter of days away in this whole of America approach, to delivering a safe and effective vaccine unto the American people.” You got that? A “whole of America approach.” Not “minus the fucknuts who all of a sudden are raging against science.”
And it wasn’t just Pence that was all about celebrating what Trump hath given unto the pleading masses. At their own press conference in November, Senate Republicans were braying about how amazing it was and how Democrats like Andrew Cuomo were being dicks for saying they didn’t trust the Trump administration’s ability to distribute the vaccine. John “The Easy Joke Here Is ‘Bare Asshole'” Barrasso of Wyoming exclaimed, “This is something to celebrate. This is a success for the world to turn to America and say, ‘You have done it and you have done it right.'” Iowa’s Joni “I Take My Anger Out on Pig Nuts” Ernst agreed, saying, “I do want to give a shout out to the Trump Administration for making this possible by thinking outside of that box on making sure that we can deliver those much needed vaccinations quickly to the American people.”
And as for health care workers, many of whom are now resisting getting vaccinated? Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar was clear that they should be at or near the front of the line: “As important as doctors and nurses, it’s the janitors, it’s the orderlies, it’s the aides, everybody who are providing that kind of help that make the system in the hospital, the nursing home, what have you, work and are just as important, if not more often, than everybody else to make sure they get protection also.”
It was fucking nothing but celebration, back-slapping, and joy. Sure, they used language at times like “Everyone who wants a vaccine will be able to get it.” And, at the time, when the number of people who didn’t want to get vaccinated was at around 33%, Trump wouldn’t say a bad word about antivaxers when prompted by Laura Ingraham on Fox “news” back in August. But even with that, no one in the mainstream media was saying the crazy shit that’s going on now, with the bizarro theories of government control and forced vaccination in order to scare people away.
Instead it was all positive, forward-looking, and ambitious. At an HHS event in December, when Trump was still in office, one of the doctors there, Bruno Pettinaux, said pretty fucking clearly, “I look forward to also taking this vaccine when my turn comes, and I highly encourage everyone to seriously consider being vaccinated when the opportunity arises.” And he didn’t even get flooded with death threats after. I mean, for fuck’s sake, even Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson, who has become the loudest antivax dick in the Senate, said in December, “Operation Warp Speed was brilliant. We need to celebrate vaccine development, but it still won’t be available to every American for months.” Yeah, he was anticipating, not dreading its availability.
What I don’t get is that the right, especially the evangelical right (which is wildly anti-vax), talks all the time about “miracles.” Well, you know what? The Covid vaccines are a goddamn miracle, a scientific miracle. And I don’t use that word lightly. When the vaccines were being developed, the researchers were hoping for a 50-60% effectiveness against Covid, which would still have been a game-changer. Instead, the Moderna and Pfizer double shot is over 90% effective, which shocked everyone. Yeah, it’s a fucking miracle, and it’s a tribute to the amazing things that humanity can do, across administrations, across parties. It’s this generation’s motherfucking moon shot and everyone involved should be gleeful. This one thing wasn’t fucked up by the Trump administration. They should be out there braying like just-fucked teenagers about how incredible it is instead of hiding in the shadows from the irrational forces that they helped unleash. It’s a miracle. You wanna bring the invisible sky wizard into it? Fine. Say that God inspired everyone who made it and gave them the abilities to do it. There. God make the vaccine. Fucking happy?
We know what this is about, and this gets back to that incredible cynicism I started with. Obviously, it’s about the right denying the Biden administration a win with Covid herd immunity. Obviously, it’s a craven ploy to keep the nutzoid evangelicals and the conspiracy fucked-heads on edge and pouring money into the coffers of whoever exploits them. And if a couple percent of them die, well, shit, that’s just the price of lying about freedom.
If we had a sane ex-president, this could all be solved. He would be out there talking nonstop about his amazing triumph in getting the vaccine done so quickly and how everyone should get it instead of whining about the election. But Trump is not sane. And, truthfully, neither is half the nation anymore.
(Note: Yeah, I know. “Not all Republicans.” But, you know, it ain’t Democrats scaring people away from the vaccine.)
Editor’s Note: This essay originally appeared on July 15, 2021 on The Rude Pundit, a website featuring commentary by Lee Papa. It was reproduced here with the consent of Mr. Papa.