Politics

House Republicans Backtrack After Briefly Forgetting That Trump Says the Vaccine Is Good Now

Jordan, wearing a mask over his mouth but not his nose, types on his phone as he walks through the Capitol
Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan at the Capitol on Oct. 21. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

On Dec. 19, Donald Trump told an audience at an event with Bill O’Reilly in Dallas that he’d gotten a booster shot of a COVID-19 vaccine. Some of the people in the crowd booed, and the ex-president took guff in the following days from some his supporters, many of whom reject the vaccine and believe that public health responses to COVID are, at best, hysterical overreactions being driven by know-it-all liberals. Trump frequently takes that position himself but, per his remarks at the event and other comments that O’Reilly made later, is annoyed that he’s not getting enough personal credit for the vaccines having been developed under the auspices of his administration.

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Initially, the backlash against Trump’s statement mostly took place in the far-right, more overtly conspiracy-oriented part of the MAGA world, with his critics including Jan. 6 organizer Ali Alexander, QAnon guy Ron Watkins, and Infowars proprietor Alex Jones, whose site, I never tire of writing, has aired accusations that NASA is running child slavery colonies on Mars. The most mainstream-ish figures to express disappointment about the vaccine endorsement were probably cartoonist Ben Garrison and social media content farm pundit Candace Owens, although Owens said it wasn’t Trump’s fault that he was wrong about the issue because he’s too old to do his own research online.

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But! On Dec. 30, the Twitter account run by the House Judiciary Committee’s Republican minority posed the following question: “If the booster shots work, why don’t they work?” The ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee is Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, a hardcore MAGA guy who, for better or for worse, is part of the elected Republican mainstream. His committee’s tweet highlighted a confrontation between the MAGA value of being dismissive about COVID and the MAGA value of defending anything that Trump does or says. It was a test of whether the movement has become too big for Trump to direct unilaterally.

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The result of the test was that the Judiciary Republicans account swiftly deleted the tweet in question after it started getting circulated. A spokesman for Jordan did not respond to a request to clarify his position on vaccine efficacy over the most recent holiday weekend. Donald Trump: still No. 1!

As to why the Judiciary Committee GOP caucus was posting about the vaccine effectiveness issue in the first place, a perusal of its feed shows that it’s adopted the increasingly standard Republican approach of prioritizing the production of anti-Biden, anti-“lib” social media content above all other governing-related activities. Here is one of its latest retweets, for example:

Conservative jurisprudence at its finest!

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