The Watering Hole, Monday, October 1st, 2012: Pander Much, Mitt?

Romney’s Misleading Mailer (H/T Think Progress)

A thread posted at ThinkProgress on Saturday discussed how a man named Michael Farris, a “highly influential social conservative in Virginia” apparently impressed the Romney/Ryan campaign enough for them to send out the above mailer to potential Virginia voters. Mr. Farris “believes that people can contract “chronic Lyme disease” that must be treated with long-term antibiotics. The Center[sic] for Disease Control says there is no such thing as “chronic Lyme disease” and “long-term antibiotic treatment for Lyme disease has been associated with serious complications.” Farris claims that his wife and seven of his children all suffer from “chronic Lyme disease”

Whether one agrees or disagrees with Mr. Farris’s opinion – and the comments following TP’s article are quite mixed** – one has to question both the purpose and the content of the Romney/Ryan mailer.

Why would anyone running for the office of the Presidency take one person’s unconfirmed story and run a campaign mailer on it? A March 2012 article from realloudoun.com provides some insight, as does roanoke.com. A few excerpts from roanoke.com articles:

“I believe that anybody who’s dogmatic about any side of the kind of controversies around Lyme is speaking prematurely,” said Farris, the chancellor of Patrick Henry College in Loudoun County. “We’re in the early scientific stages of a very important disease that’s affected a lot of people, and I think we need more science.”

and,

“Appointed to lead Gov. Bob McDonnell’s Lyme Disease Task Force, Farris is challenging the state’s medical establishment to take a hard look at the way it diagnoses and treats acute Lyme and its chronic, long-term counterpart — a condition that most infectious disease experts refute outright.
Long a champion of creationism — to the point that several Patrick Henry professors left the college in 2007, claiming his views limited their academic freedoms — Farris is now traveling the state with his task force, seeking input and stirring up doctors.”

Here’s a couple of links to the Task Force’s “final report”.
(Note: A member of the panel as listed in the second link appears to have been misidentified as Michael Cameron MD of Mount Kisco, NY (a few towns south of us.) A google search found a Daniel Cameron, MD, listed as a Lyme Disease expert, with a website called lymeproject.com, which mentions an article published by Dr. Cameron called “Proof That Chronic Lyme Disease Exists.”

Okay, so Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell allowed his old pal Michael Farris, who has no background whatsoever in medicine, to appoint himself as head this “Task Force”.

Now let’s look at what the mailer actually says (of course, you have to enlarge the photo to read the damn thing):

ROMNEY AND RYAN WILL DO MORE TO FIGHT THE SPREAD OF LYME DISEASE – how? See below.

“It’s a serious problem that demands immediate attention.” – Um, Lyme Disease has been given “immediate attention” since the first case was diagnosed a few DECADES AGO.

“As President, Mitt Romney will ensure that real action is taken to get control of this epidemic that is wreaking havoc on Northern Virginia.”


IMPROVE SYNERGY Ensure that government agencies have an open line of communication and work with patients, researchers, doctors and businesses in an objective, comprehensive manner.
– Buzzwords, totally meaningless.
INCREASE AWARENESS Work with federal and state health agencies to support Lyme Disease awareness efforts to help prevent further spread of the disease. Seriously, Federal Health agencies have been supporting awareness efforts since the 1980s. Virginia seems to be lagging quite a bit behind; but then again, Virginia Republicans think that it’s a conspiracy promulgated by the CDC.

(And here’s the real kicker): SUPPORT TREATMENT Encourage increased options for the treatment of Lyme Disease and provide local physicians with protection from lawsuits to ensure they can treat the disease with the aggressive antibiotics that are required.

This is the part that Michael Farris really, really wants. Apparently the doctor who had been treating Farris’s family with long-term antibiotics, Dr. Joseph Jemsek, lost his North Carolina medical license and is now practicing in Washington, DC. Obviously, Mr. Farris couldn’t find a doctor in Virginia who would agree to treat Farris’s family with the non-standard, possibly dangerous treatment that Farris wanted.

The upshot is that Mitt Romney is more than willing to take the word of one nutjob, simply because that nutjob happens to be an influential conservative Republican and friend of Governor McDonnell. This appears to put Romney just one step above Batshit Crazy Michele Bachmann when it comes to believing a single person about a complicated medical issue. Republicans and science simply don’t mix.

This is our daily open thread — have at it!!

**Something weird happened to the thread at ThinkProgress: as of Sunday morning, there were over 100 comments; suddenly, after refreshing the page, all comments were completely gone. I don’t know what Judd did, but people were really pissed off.