Haley Flip-Flops Into Bachmannland

Ah, there’s another zany new example of what Republicans are doing to my beloved southland:

Remember when Michelle Bachmann gave a lethal injection to her once-formidable presidential candidacy by going after Rick Perry for supporting state-backed administration of the HPV vaccine to middle-school girls? In pursuing the murky but adamant Christian Right opposition to the vaccine as either a Big Government intrusion into parental rights, or a secular-humanist effort to deny God one of His scourges to prevent girls from having sex, Bachmann went off the deep end, particularly when she repeated unsubstantiated allegations that the vaccine had caused mental damage to some receiving it.

The HPV issue has now popped back up in that fine progressive jurisdiction of South Carolina, where Gov. Nikki Haley abruptly vetoed an HPV vaccine bill passed by the GOP-controlled legislature. The bill included both an opt-out option for parents objecting to the vaccine, and a provision putting off its implementation if funding is not subsequently secured. But that didn’t keep Haley from attacking it as ““a precursor to another taxpayer-funded healthcare mandate.” What makes the incident especially interesting is that Haley was an early cosponsor of a similar bill in 2007. She admits she’s changed her mind on the subject, but doesn’t really explain why.

Could Haley’s palpable national political ambitions be a factor? Certainly recent experience has indicated that staying a step or two ahead of the rightward direction of the GOP is a pretty good idea.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.