Stem cells and the innocent

While summer heat continues to set records here in California and across the globe, issues in addition to global warming continue to take front and center stage. This week the fight for stem-cell research shared the headlines with other erupting problems. Remembering that California has been leading the way in the fight to fund stem-cell research, the Bush administration continues to confound and embarass the rest of America as well with its 19th century (probably more like neanderthal) approach to the effort to move important medical research forward and thus provide hope and health opportunities for those living now with possibly treatable pain and despair.
When 70% of Americans believe in the need and importance of stem-cell research to crack a series of life-threatening and certainly life-altering illness and disease, this self-proclaimed protector of virtue steps in to say that the moral fiber of this country cannot accept such opportunities. While the world is heating itself up, both literally and figuratively, because of the abject failure of this administration’s leadership in the world and choices in how to use its power, this president had the audacity to reject an opportunity to help those with AIDS, Parkinsons Disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Alzheimers, brain-stem injuries, etc. etc. as morally unacceptable. His statement is worth repeating, if only for its audacity and offensiveness to everyone who knows someone afflicted with conditions that would benefit from passage of such an important measure. His veto statement reads,
“This bill would support the taking of innocent human life in the hope of finding medical benefits for others.
It crosses a moral boundary that our decent society needs to respect.”
The nerve of this man-whose own lies and incompetence have caused the deaths and maimings of thousands of young Americans in Iraq as well as the lives of tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi people. While the President exploits young children at “photo ops” designed to strengthen his support among religious idealogues, the Middle East is collapsing with thousands more deaths of innocent people likely to come. Is he suggesting that only American lives count in all this? The unmitigated gall of a President of the United States to talk about innocent lives, and moral boundaries when he has sat silently for five years while the Middle East has heated up to the powder keg it is today. The embarassment he has created-the leader of our great country, who can only articulate by employing cuss words repeated into an open mike when addressing such complex issues as those reflected in that region of the world today. Is this the best our country can produce to lead us and the world into the future?

A cynic might say that the stem-cell veto is really a political decision, designed to help Mr. Bush and his right-wing allies reconnect with their “base” for upcoming elections; that this has nothing to do with the millions of people who would stand to benefit from the discoveries stem-cell research would make in treating life-threatening and debilitating diseases. That Mr. Bush’s base is more important than the living, breathing, fighting and struggling people who are afflicted right here-and-now with conditions that could be cured or at least managed but for Mr. Bush trying to appease the radical fringe of his radicalized religious base.
If you look carefully at this well-scripted scenario, you identify several other players complicit in this morally bankrupt play as well. Does anyone really think that Senator Frist, who voted for this measure or Speaker Hastert couldn’t put together sufficient votes to override this veto? Of course they could—if they wanted to—they’ve twisted more arms than this would take to play lap-dog to the president and his ultra-conservative cronies many times during the past 5 1/2 years of its administration. But Frist gets to think he’s standing tall by supporting the bill himself and yet appeasing his masters (and possible Presidential electoral voting bloc) by not finding the courage to force an override of Bush’s veto that certainly has little to do with morality and everything to do with politics. No wonder people are becoming so cynical; no wonder so many are shaking their heads in disgust and disbelief. Even in the dog-days of summer, you’ve got to feel some sadness about the state of the world and just how exactly this President and his administration of right-wing fanatics have been able to destroy the real moral high-road that we used to proudly think belonged to our Country. Such sad irony…..even on an over-heated summer’s day.