DeSantis passes the Kool-Aid… to Republicans

Froma Harrop

Ron DeSantis has earned some recent notoriety for casting doubt on the COVID-19 vaccines and attacking the experts who happen to know about them.

“It seems like our medical establishment never wanted to be honest with people about the potential drawbacks,” the Florida governor said in his nasal whine. “So why can’t our medical establishment acknowledge that? Why the deception? Why have they continued to do this for two years?”

The likely presidential candidate now wants a Florida grand jury to probe “wrongdoing” by leading federal public health agencies related to the vaccine. Expect more hounding of the doctors fighting to keep alive the unvaccinated victims of right-wing lies. You can be sure that the politicians got all their shots, the bivalent included.

It’s never been clear what was in it for Republicans to talk down the importance of getting COVID shots and question their safety. But it’s clear what’s not in it for them.

Put bluntly, vaccine hesitancy pushed by the right has been killing off their own voters. Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, who accounted for 41% of all adults, made up 60% of the adult unvaccinated population, according to an analysis released a year ago by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Such reports have led to theories that the surprisingly strong performance of Democrats in the recent midterms is at least part due to significant numbers of Republican voters dying off in the COVID pandemic.

“We estimate substantially higher excess death rates for registered Republicans when compared to registered Democrats,” Yale researchers wrote in a working paper released in September by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Almost all the difference was concentrated in the period after vaccines were widely available. In the summer of 2021, the analysis said, “the Republican excess death rate rose to nearly double that of Democrats, and this gap widened further” by year’s end.

Since December 2020, the U.S. has recorded about 800,000 deaths from COVID. There are obviously a huge number of Republicans in that number.

And so it would seem politically unhelpful for DeSantis to go passing around the anti-vax Kool-Aid. “Drinking the Kool-Aid,” the Urban Dictionary explains, refers to “the Jonestown massacre in which cult leader Jim Jones led his followers to commit mass-suicide by drinking a poisoned fruit drink similar to Kool-Aid.”

Does DeSantis really think he’s owning the libs? He’s definitely amusing many of them. “You know, Darwinism,” an unsympathetic Democrat said in response to his campaign. “Thinning the herd.”

One doubts that few even in the darkest corners of Trumpian paranoia still buy into the anti-vax nonsense.

Since the vaccine was approved, it has prevented more than 18 million hospitalizations and 3 million deaths, according to a Commonwealth Fund report. That has helped save the United States an estimated $1.15 trillion in medical costs. And it kept hospital beds open for patients with other needs — emergency cardiac care, cancer treatments, hip replacements.

It’s one thing for DeSantis to go after the woke stuff, though it included bashing Disney and the cruise industry for running their businesses as they saw fit. Republicans used to frown on government interfering with the management of private companies. They called it socialism.

Well, DeSantis now says he’s forming a state committee to interfere with the expert medical guidance coming from the federal health agencies.

“In Florida, you know,” he said, “it is against the law to mislead and misrepresent, particularly when you’re talking about the efficacy of a drug.” DeSantis should keep that in mind.

And so what is he going to do next to outdo Donald Trump? Find Nazis to dine with?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators website at www.creators.com.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper *

Starting at $4.62/week.

Subscribe Today