Sen. John Kennedy went on Fox News on Thursday to make it perfectly clear that he knows how effective and important the covid-19 vaccines are. He also made it perfectly clear that that knowledge won’t stop him from cravenly caving to his party’s anti-vax fanaticism.
Asked about rising Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations and death rates nationwide, the Louisiana Republican said the best thing we can do to conquer the virus is getting people vaccinated. “Don’t get distracted,” he said. “The issue is the vaccine. We need to spend all of our efforts trying to convince folks that the costs of the vaccine are substantially less than the benefit.”
And then, in an extraordinary pivot, he undermined his own message. “Let me say it again. If you don’t want to take the vaccine, don’t take it,” the senator said.
— PoliticsVideo23 (@politicsvideo23) August 5, 2021
Kennedy’s overall message during the interview was pro-vaccine. “If they told me to take the vaccine, I had to take it by getting a shot in the eyeball, I would. I don’t want to die. I don’t want to see my fellow Americans die,” he said. The senator also tweeted back in December 2020 that he was vaccinated, saying that it was “quick, painless, and easy peasy” and that he felt “great.”
But to then acquiesce to an anti-vax or vaccine-hesitant constituent while at the same time promoting the vaccine is a shameful calculation. Kennedy made his argument — “This is a free country. If you don’t want to take the vaccine, you don’t have to” — at least three times during the interview that covered nothing but the pandemic.
“I am not gonna try to ram it down anyone’s throat, but if I could wave a magic wand and convince everyone to take it, I would do that,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy’s endorsement of not getting vaccinated is particularly dangerous for residents of his home state, where Covid-19 patients afflicted with the Delta variant are filling hospitals to capacity and beyond. One of the state’s biggest hospitals saw hospitalizations increase 400 percent in July, and the vast majority of patients requiring care are unvaccinated. And the chief medical officer at another of the state’s hospitals said their physicians are “no longer giving adequate care” to patients because they are so overwhelmed.
Another bizarre moment in Kennedy’s Fox interview came when the senator, who seemingly prides himself on being one of the folksiest politicians in the country, also made a brutal attempt at humor during the interview by claiming White House medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci’s approval ratings have dropped to the same levels as rapist Bill Cosby.
— Peter Wade (@brooklynmutt) August 5, 2021
We can only hope the senator’s message endorsing vaccines doesn’t get lost in the “folksy” rape jokes and contradictions.