Friday, March 13, 2009

Joe Trippi, you don't speak for me

Democratic political consultant Joe Trippi has penned an op-ed praising Barack Obama.
23.6 million Americans suffer from diabetes. And, for all of us, Monday was an important--and emotional--day. President Barack Obama signed an executive order lifting the nation's ban on funding research on new embryonic stem cell lines. With it, there is new hope for millions of diabetes sufferers, including me, as well as millions more suffering from other debilitating diseases.

Well Joe, I am one of those 23.6 million Americans, and let me say this as clearly as I can - you do not speak for me. I agree President Obama's actions on Monday stirred emotions, but my emotional reaction was not hope - it was dismay.

Let's start by clearing away the lie that surrounded the ceremony. There was no "ban" on embryonic stem cell research. There has never been a "ban" on embryonic stem cell research. There was, however, a ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. This was changed in 2001 by President George W. Bush, who announced that federal funding would be available for research involving the currently available embryonic stem cell lines.

You see, in order to get embryonic stem cells, you have to destroy an embryo. Former President Clinton apparently doesn't know what that means, but a human embryo is, in fact, a human being at its earliest developmental stage. In order to get the stem cells for research, you have to extract them from the embryo, thus destroying it and ending a potential life. Even the former President, a supporter of the policy, recognizes that people would not approve if they understood it:
If it’s obvious that we’re not taking embryos that can - that under any conceivable scenario would be used for a process that would allow them to be fertilized and become little babies, and I think if it’s obvious that we’re not talking about some science fiction cloning of human beings, then I think the American people will support this.

Obviously, that's the problem. These embryos could have "become little babies" - instead, they're being destroyed in science labs.

That, of course, is where George W. Bush's "ban" came into play. Bush was actually the first President to make federal funding available for embryonic stem cell research. What he did, however, was limit the funding to the currently available stem cell "lines." That is to say, there were pre-existing stem cells from previously destroyed embryos, and federal money could fund research on those, but federal funds could not be used on any more lines, thus preventing taxpayers for paying for embryo destruction. Bush's policy was opposed by those on the left who wanted no restrictions on federal funding, and by those on the right who wanted no federal funding for any embryonic stem cell research. But it was a serious and defensible policy.

Reasonable people can differ on the level of protection that those embryos warrant, but it is not debatable that it is an early stage human being which is destroyed to extract those cells. The President is, as usual, condescending and dismissive to those that disagree with him. At the signing ceremony, President Obama** said, "In recent years, when it comes to stem cell research, rather than furthering discovery, our government has forced what I believe is a false choice between sound science and moral values. In this case, I believe the two are not inconsistent."

Well, they are if one of your moral values is not destroying human embryos in medical experiments.

Many, if not most, Americans are profoundly disturbed with the idea of experimentation on human life at that level. I'm struck (as so frequently happens) by a line from C. S. Lewis' brilliant essay, The Abolition of Man: "what we call Man's power over Nature turns out to be a power exercised by some men over other men with Nature as its instrument." I am not willing that my condition be treated at the expense of using human embryos, human life, as raw material for science experiments.

Barack Obama not only wants to do that, he wants me to pay for it. Joe Trippi thinks that that's a great idea. I disagree. Joe Trippi wants to thank the President. I want to tell the President, "No, Mr. President. Not in my name, not with my money. No."



* - There is no good polling available, largely because of the profound obfuscation inherent in the media coverage of this topic.

** - Keep in mind that this is a man who refused to support a law that would require that babies born alive in the case of improperly performed abortions actually be cared for as live human babies, because of the "burden" that would impose on the abortion provider.


H/T - Jonah Goldberg

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