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