The Substance in the Style on Stem Cells

I remember when President Bush made his announcement about the ban on federal financing of embryonic stem-cell research. He held an evening address, at his desk, and took the time to explain some of the science, present the opposing arguments as he saw them, and explain his decision. You can think what you like about the man or his decision, but that’s a stark contrast from President Obama’s cheering-crowd press conference, yielding photographs of him leaning off the stage to lay hands on the paralyzed Representative Jim Langevin.
The difference extends to substance. Bush offered an actual compromise position (as much as those who opposed him might have disliked it): He increased (I believe) funding of adult-stem-cell research and permitted funding of research on stem cells that had already been removed from embryos. From Obama, we get promises:

Mr. Obama pledged that his administration will write strict guidelines for research on stem cells taken from embryos. “And we will ensure that our government never opens the door to the use of cloning for human reproduction,'” calling the practice “dangerous and profoundly wrong.”

Why not have those guidelines ready for presentation at Monday’s announcement? Why not actually put into place anti-cloning policy at the same time that he opened the door for federal funds for the destruction of embryos?
The answer, I suppose, depends on how cynical one is.

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msteven
msteven
12 years ago

Right on Justin.
The difference was the President Bush made an effort to acknowledge both sides of the issue and Obama made a celebration of overturning the decision as if a lawyer had just set free his innocent client. Just as you said, the distinction is clearly in style over substance and celebrating political gamesmanship in lieu of the reality of the situation.
This is not unique to Obama as GWB’s “Mission Accomplished” PR stunt was tacky without the hindsight of what occurred afterwards. Taking that into account it may have been the worst political PR stunt in history.
In this case, Obama and his team obviously felt that making a big deal of doing this would be politically favorable. What a shame that is.

Patrick
Patrick
12 years ago

Which one’s not like the others?
1. Mr. Obama pledged to end the system of pet project earmarks in spending bills.
2. Mr. Obama pledged that his administration will write strict guidelines for research on stem cells taken from embryos.
3. Mr. Obama pledged to put all legislation that he supports online for public viewing for 72 hours before he signs it.
Well, he hasn’t broken one of those pledges yet. Give him time…

rhody
rhody
12 years ago

Jimmy’s probably the most pro-life Democrat in Congress. I’m stupified that people are sore at his support for expanded stem cell research.
Will he be put on wafer watch like Kerry as a result?

Andrew
Editor
12 years ago

The fact that the President completely ignored the recent breakthroughs that have been made in creating stem cells from adult cells in his announcement doesn’t inspire confidence that this is a truly science-based decision. Of course, as we’ve seen in his handling of the financial crisis and his cabinet appointments, President Obama isn’t exactly a detail guy.
But since this is being trumpeted as a restoration of science, what exactly is the scientific basis for the claim that embryonic stem cells are likely to produce actual cures that reprogrammed adult stem cells won’t?

Monique
Editor
12 years ago

“The fact that the President completely ignored the recent breakthroughs that have been made in creating stem cells from adult cells in his announcement doesn’t inspire confidence that this is a truly science-based decision.”
Yes, that was my thought as well, Andrew. A little update on recent developments in the field was in order before this decision was enacted.

Roland
Roland
12 years ago

Someone please correct me if I’m wrong but did scientist find a way to use some stem cells from another cell line from pigs or chickens or something like that?
I’m racking my brain but the gist of the story was that they were able to recreate what they needed along the lines of stem cells without using human embryos.
I wish I could remember exactly.
Anyway, why should Obama care about human life if it doesn’t help him get re-elected in 2012? Just remember, to a socialist, there cannot possibly be enough people to adore The Chosen One.

Andrew
Editor
12 years ago

Some tests are being conducted on animals, but the final goal is make it possible to take cells from an adult human, turn them back into stem cells, then turn those cells into the needed for a particular therapy. Researchers have successfully turned adult human skin cells back into stem cells.
Here’s an update that recently appeared in the Washington Post.
A major advantage to using reprogrammed adult stem cells in treatments, as I understand, is that it solves the problem of tissue of rejection. If you transplant cells from one person to another, even if the cells have the right function, the tranplantee’s body still treats them as foreign tissue and attacks them. If on the other hand you could take a patient’s own cells, make them into stem cells, and then into the cells needed for a treatment, there’s no rejection problem to solve, because the patient’s body will accept tissue that’s from his or her own body.

Roland
Roland
12 years ago

Andrew,
Thanks for clearing up that cloudy day in my head!

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