Wall Street Journal editorial board skewers Rand Paul

Story highlights

  • The Wall Street Journal likens Rand Paul's thoughts on vaccinations to "libertarian dormitory passions"
  • The Kentucky Republican says he supports vaccines but earlier this week said he's heard of vaccines causing mental disorders

(CNN)Sen. Rand Paul may be blaming the "liberal media" for the recent controversy over his comments about vaccinations, but the right-leaning editorial board of the Wall Street Journal published a blistering opinion piece published in Wednesday's edition on the Kentucky Republican's skepticism.

"He will have to avoid these libertarian dormitory passions if he wants to be a credible candidate," the editorial says, adding that government requirements for vaccinating school children is "a legitimate use of state 'police powers' under the Constitution."
Paul, who's moving toward a presidential bid, caused a stir when he said Monday that he's "heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking, normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines."
    The vaccination debate became the center of a political firestorm this week with potential presidential candidates of both parties weighing in on the issue amid a recent measles outbreak that's linked to Disneyland, despite the virus being eliminated in the United States in 2000.
    New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, also a potential presidential contender, kicked things off when he told reporters Monday that "parents need to have some measure of choice" in determining whether to vaccinate their children, though he personally endorsed the idea.
    Paul said he's also in favor of getting vaccinated, but his comments -- especially as a physician -- lent credibility to conspiracy theories that vaccinations can do severe damage.
    "Mr. Paul is an ophthalmologist, so he should know he was broadcasting misinformation," the Wall Street Journal editorial states. His office did not return a request for comment about the editorial.
    The piece acknowledges that in rare cases vaccines can lead to "deafness, seizures, comas or brain damage," but the Centers for Disease Control says those results are "so rare that it is hard to tell whether they are caused by the vaccine."
    The Wall Street Journal also notes that President Obama and Hillary Clinton also expressed skepticism over the safety of vaccines back in 2008. Both, however, offered support for vaccines this past week.
    "Let's chalk up the weird science of Messrs. Paul and Christie to a lack of information, and we're happy to send them 13 years of vaccine editorials if they want to study up," the editorial later says. The not-so-great measles vaccine debate of 2015 is one of those events that makes us wonder if there is such a thing as human progress."
    On Tuesday Paul tried to clarify his comments, saying he wasn't arguing causation but saying vaccinations and mental disorders "were temporally related"
    "I support vaccines, I receive them myself and I had all of my children vaccinated," he added in a statement. "In fact today, I received the booster shot for the vaccines I got when I went to Guatemala last year."