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Wednesday, June 9, 2004

Our View

Bush’s tribute to Reagan: A rebuke?

When Nancy Reagan appealed publicly to President Bush last month to abandon his refusal to fund stem cell research—"I just don't see how we can turn our backs on this," she said—the president’s reply was cold, crisp, final and quick.


That was then. Now is now, when Ronald Reagan’s death and his final years struggling with Alzheimer’s have unleashed a national wave of grief and sentimental tributes to the man who popularized uplifting political good humor and brought rousing pride to the Oval Office.

On the president’s desk are letters signed by a majority of U.S. senators (58) and nearly half of the House (206) appealing for Bush to abandon his mulish opposition to stem cell research. These are bolstered by additional appeals from a bi-partisan list of former presidents including Republican Gerald Ford and Democrats Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.

But stem cell research, a likely source of relief or cure for tens of millions of victims of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, diabetes, heart disease, spinal cord injuries and other dreaded maladies, is opposed by Bush’s core constituency, religious extremists, who cling to medieval precepts that lack any ecclesiastical justification.

The God they worship never intended the afflicted to suffer or for death from illness to be accepted as untreatable. Medicine and science have been endowed with extraordinary gifts for discovering cures that extend life in comfort.

The president’s obstinacy to stem cell research seems to be more of an outlandish craving for increasing the roster of the bizarre in his policies—the right to preemptively launch wars against other nations, legalize the torture of captives, connive to deny civil rights, develop new nuclear weapons while denouncing other nations’ nuclear ambitions, and abandon protection of the environment.

Given the state of the national bank account, the disarray of global alliances and the uncertainty in America’s domestic prosperity, the president seems intent on leaving a legacy of dismantling a long list of previous policies that worked for Americans.

However, if he persists in opposing stem cell research, and rejects mounting appeals on behalf of humankind, Bush will have shown a repugnant way of dishonoring Ronald Reagan’s memory and the 40th president’s effervescent love of life and devotion to a nation moving ahead, not backward.


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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.