in a Petri Dish
August 15, 2001
Maren L. Hickton
Swirling in a halo of religious rhetoric, Bush offered a
conflicting decision to allocate $250,000,000 of taxpayer
money to fund continued research of an estimated 60 lines
of stem cells, according to counts by the NIH, extracted from
destroyed embryos around the world. In his televised speech,
which some politicos lauded and others decried, most did agree
on one point: Bush clearly broke his campaign promise to block
federal funding of this research. How worthwhile this taxpayer
investment will be is another story.
The resident at-large, from a "working vacation" in Crawford,
Texas, stated that, "Embryonic stem cell research is at the
leading edge of a series of moral hazards." But, Bush continued,
"...we should allow stem cell research on these  existing
stem cell lines, where the life-and-death decision has already
been made." In the final analysis, Bush compromised real hope
for cures by essentially deciding to cut the research in half:
He will give scientists his blessing to experiment with existing
uncertain colonies of stem cells from destroyed embryos, but
will not allow the extraction of stem cells from numerous
other frozen embryos that are expected to be more viable and
will otherwise be discarded. According to Bush, "This allows
us to explore the promise and potential of stem cell research
without crossing a fundamental moral line by providing taxpayer
funding that would sanction or encourage further destruction
of human embryos that have at least the potential for life."
In other words, now that that line has already been crossed.
If there is any reason to mix politics and religion, this
is a perfect example: It's a great way to delude people.
This is what happens when you have a President who is slumping
in the polls. A President who claims he is a man of Christian
principles, unless of course those principles begin to conflict
with public approval ratings. Time for Bush's political code
red, which is to divide and unite: Distract the public with
what has the potential to be an emotionally divisive issue,
such as this research, win empathy by feigning personal conflict
when he really made this decision a month ago according to
press reports, and then construct what appears to be a popular
In his struggle to up the poll numbers that he claims he
disregards, this construct is just another one of Bush's familiar
PR schemes of creating a melodrama where he casts himself
as the hero of a promise and then does nothing. No different
from his centerpiece campaign promise of saving our dilapidated
school system where he promised to "leave no child behind."
Nothing. No different from "fixing" Social Security and Medicare.
He fixed these programs all right; there's little money left.
No different from when he ticked off a list of patient protection
measures he enacted in Texas during his debate with Gore.
And now? Threats of vetoes with a similar national Patients'
Bill of Rights and working back door deals to derail this
legislation. No different from promising along the campaign
trail to improve the standard of living to military men and
women, then closing bases and promoting expensive phony missile
defense tests. No different from appointing himself as savior
of an alleged energy crisis which suddenly seemed to disappear
the second the Democrats assumed poll-position in the Senate
and energy exploration of a different kind began.
As part of his current plot, Bush welcomed and engaged interested
parties around the world from a diverse group of religious,
scientific, and potential beneficiaries of stem cell research,
all of whom Bush claimed influenced his "agonizing" and "prayerful"
decision. And what do we have? We have ended up with nothing
more than a yellow light decision in front of a blastocyst
in a Petri dish and another one of Bush's infamous stall-committees,
headed by none other than Dr. Leon Kass, the leading biased-conservative
bioethicist from the University of Chicago, whose essays include
such subjects as, "Babies by means of in vitro fertilization:
Unethical experiments on the unborn?" Another 80s-vintage
Bush appointee from the decade he never left.
Is this research going to go anywhere with Bush's generous
outlay of our tax dollars? Don't count on it. The research
will be slowed with restrictions attached to federal monies
unless and until the medical community, businesses, the media,
the public, and most importantly - Congress, all wake up and
realize that the man called Bush is nothing more than an architect
of political baloney with an IQ that is approximately the
current temperature in Texas.