CNN.com covers the story with its usual objectivity:
President Bush on Wednesday vetoed the embryonic stem-cell research bill, his first veto in 5 1/2 years in office. "It crosses a moral boundary that our decent society needs to respect, so I vetoed it," Bush told backers at a White House event. ...
The issue has split the Republican Party, with Bush siding with the Catholic Church and social conservatives against the GOP's more moderate voices. Specter, who recently survived a brush with cancer, was joined by Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tennessee, a physician who argued that Bush's policy is too restrictive.
Ah, the moderation of destroying life. Orwell grimaces. Having played the "social conservatives" versus "moderates" card, let's go for the token celebrity:
Other supporters included former first lady Nancy Reagan, whose husband's long battle with Alzheimer's disease helped draw attention to the issue.
"Time is short, and life is precious," Reagan said before the veto, "and I hope this promising research can now move forward."
And then return for another refrain of moderation versus right-wing extremism:
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, had urged Bush to listen to moderate Republicans and "Americans crying for help" and stay his veto threat.
Uh, so what about the fact that embryonic stem-cell research, the Holy Grail of the Apostles of Scientistic Radicalism, has resulted in zero cures, while adult stem cells, which do not involve the destruction of human life, are producing a large number of cures for a wide range of illnesses. And then there is the dubious history of embryonic stem cell research.
Moderation? How about a couple of other, more fitting "M" words: murder and manipulation. President Bush will be raked over the MSM coals, but he did the right thing, staying true to a policy/ethical stance that is truly moderate and balanced, as this recent article in the Spring 2006 issue of The New Atlantis ("A Journal of Technology and Society") demonstrates, concluding:
The point of the Bush policy, for all its many limitations and drawbacks, is to show that science can proceed without violating human dignity or destroying nascent human life, even if it cannot proceed as quickly and by as many simultaneous routes. The choice it offers is not between science and ethics, but between a devotion to science and health so total that it abandons all ethical limits, and a devotion to science and health balanced and constrained by a respect for human equality and dignity, and committed to a culture of life largely understood.
Opponents of the policy usually avoid taking on that basic ethical principle, and so they have offered up various practical arguments against the scientific utility of the policy: the lines are contaminated, there are not enough to support research, they are causing American researchers to fall behind their foreign counterparts. Being practical arguments, these assertions must stand up to factual scrutiny. And so far, the evidence suggests they mostly do not.
One can make reasonable arguments for a more permissive funding policy; one cannot reasonably claim that the policy is wreaking havoc on American science, or that America is becoming backward because only private dollars or state funds are available for the derivation of stem cells from destroyed human embryos. To make such a claim is not science or even the rational defense of science; it is fundamentalism in the name of science, employing the most unscientific means imaginable: playing with the data to advance one’s cause.
All things considered, the Bush policy still looks reasonable as it approaches its five-year anniversary. It is helping useful science advance without making embryo destruction a national project and without trampling on the deepest values of those citizens who believe (with good rational arguments) that embryo destruction is a grave wrong. The fight over the policy has also shown, sadly, that the self-proclaimed defenders of reason cannot always be counted on to be reasonable themselves.
"Fundamentalism in the name of science" and "self-proclaimed defenders of reason cannot always be counted on to be reasonable themselves." Perfectly put, if I might moderately say so.