Monday, October 15, 2007

Redneck Rash redux

Posted by Chris Haire on Mon, Oct 15, 2007 at 7:28 PM

We all know Al Gore said he invented the Internet.

Some of us may recall Gen. Wesley Clark claiming that he believed in time travel.

Well, here's the thing: Neither Gore nor Clark made the statements that have been attributed to them.

Well now we can add an unnamed U.S. House Homeland Security Committee official and comments that he or she made regarding the need for staffers to visiting NASCAR races to get vaccinated for Hep A & B, the flu, diphtheria and tetanous. As you know, the comments provoked a bit of an uproar, but truth be told, nobody, at least according to any report or document that has been released so far, indicates that anything of the kind was said. In fact, it appears that all of this was either a failure in reading comprehension by N.C. Rep. Robin Hayes (R), the man who kick-started this controversy, or a blatant attempt by the Tarheel State legislator to turn voters against Democrats.

See, these staffers were conducting research at medical facilities near Charlotte, N.C., the site of the Bank of America 500, and Talladega, Fla., the site of the UAW-Ford 500. Yes, they visited the tracks in question, but they were also studying if medical facilities in the area could deal with a large scale emergency at either racetrack. Nobody suggested that staff get vaccinated simply because they were going to attend a NASCAR race. Here's what House Homeland Security Committee Chair Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) had to say:

Thompson said the immunizations are commonly recommended for people working in hospitals, holding centers and similar locations.

"Since committee staff members are visiting hospital and other health-care facilities available at or near these venues, including areas where groups of people are detained before being transferred to other off-site facilities, I believe that the recommendation (not requirement) that our congressional staff receive these same immunizations was sound," Thompson said in a letter responding to Hayes issued Wednesday.

"I am sure you would agree that providing immunizations to personnel involved in public safety is good public health policy, and there is no need to exclude staff from taking the preventative measures that the public health community recommends -- regardless of why and where mass gatherings are taking place."

Of coure, very few — both the public and the media — actually make any sort of significant note of what Thompson said, instead choosing to focus on Hayes' manufactured controversy. The politics of the two-minutes hate continues.


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