Unlike nineteen Senate Republicans and all but one Democrat, President Bush today stood up to the political pressure of those seeking research funding that they could not obtain from prudent private investors and vetoed an expansion of the unethical practice of embryonic stem-cell research. While this does not make up for his earlier position, allowing it under certain, limited circumstances, he is certainly to be applauded for exercising his veto power to prevent the mad, bad (why can’t scientists obtain private funding?) research that violates codes of medical ethics that have been in place since Nazi testing on the Jews. While President Bush’s relationship with pro-lifers has at times been rocky, we must applaud in unison his political courage in this particular case.
On the other hand, those Republican Senators who supported this bill should be hoist by their own petard, with their votes serving as death knells not only to their Presidential ambitions (Alexander, Burr?, Frist, McCain, Snowe) but also to their attempts to return to Leadership (Lott). As I have argued on this site before, the biggest Republican problem with life issues is inconsistency and fear. This vote makes clear that several members of the GOP caucus either fail to understand the issue, or simply do not care about it. In either case, it is time for the conservative movement to take a long, hard look at itself and realize that simply claiming to be pro-life does not actually make a politician pro-life (Senator Burr!). Conservatives must make a concerted effort to gain control of the primary process and ensure that we have more Senators like Brownback and Coburn and fewer like Frist and Lott.
What’s more is that some Democrats are better friends than some Republicans. Sen. Ben Nelson, even with polls showing him with a nearly-insurmountable margin, was the lone Democrat to oppose the bill. While Nelson would never be confused with a conservative, it is safe to say that conservatives would be better off seeing Ben Nelson reelected than Lincoln Chafee. I would encourage all conservatives to draw attention to Sen. Nelson’s vote as a means of reminding Republicans that there are cases in which Democrats provide viable alternatives. With all due respect to Pete Ricketts, far worse things could happen to the GOP this fall than Sen. Nelson’s reelection.