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Conservative Political Commentary

Quote of the Day

Lady Liberty

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Among the more graceless left-wing sentiments expressed on the passing of Ronald Reagan were those complaining that conservatives would "cynically exploit Reagan's death for destructive political purposes":
The neo-con neo-fascists in the corrupt Bush/Cheney Inc. junta are wildly out-of-control again ... In Iraq??? ... Well, Yes -- But on another issue too, from which they can cynically exploit Reagan's death for destructive political purposes ... It is shameless!!! ... This time, with a bizarre sort of canonization of Ronald Reagan which is an attempt to create another 1000 Year Nazi-style Reich ... Jeez ... Contact Congress and demand a stop to this insanity and folly ... Next they will be asking us to say prayers morning, mid-day and at night to Saint Ronny!!! ... Jeez ...
In a post titled "and so the exploitation begins," another lefty blogger worries that:
. . . somewhere in DC today, a team of Republicans are trying to figure out how to exploit Reagan's death and the attacks of 9/11 at the same time, particularly at the GOP convention. It's not easy to pull off, but I'm sure they'll think of something.
As I said in an earlier post, our commemoration of Ronald Reagan's life would be but a shallow sentimental exercise, unless in the course of our recollections we learn the lessons of his works. To draw such lessons, we must recollect not only Reagan's philosophy and accomplishments, but also the philosophies of those who opposed his efforts. For example, it is a useful historical lesson to remember that John Kerry vehemently opposed the Reagan military build-up that brought the Soviet Union to its knees. Mr. Kerry and his supporters should not object to our recollection of this historical fact, unless they are now ashamed of their former opinions. We would graciously accept their admission that they were wrong and say every honest word that might mitigate their embarrassment. However, they cannot acknowledge the error of their former opinions because, inasmuch as their opinions have not changed, the admission would apply to their present opinions as well. Thus, to those on the left any recollection of Reagan's life and work, unless purged of its valid historical lessons, appears to be an "exploitation."

While many lefties fret about exploitation of Reagan's death, John Kerry is actually doing something about it. For him, the occasion of the former president's death with Alzheimer's disease presented the opportunity to extract a few cheap political points out of the ten years of misery Nancy endured as her husband was overtaken by the disease:
John Kerry challenged the Bush administration Saturday to relax restrictions on stem cell research to pursue the potential of finding cures for conditions such as Alzheimer's.

. . . .

Kerry, the Democrats' presumed candidate to face President Bush in November, cited Nancy Reagan's efforts to help find a cure for Alzheimer's disease, which debilitated her husband, former President Reagan, for at least a decade before his death last weekend.

"She told the world that Alzheimer's had taken her own husband to a distant place, and then she stood up to help find a breakthrough that someday will spare other husbands, wives, children and parents from the same kind of heartache,'' Kerry said in the Democrats' weekly radio address."

He spoke after an emotionally stirring week during which the nation honored and buried former the former president.
Kerry's suggestion that the Bush administration's very mild limits on stem cell research are blocking a cure for Alzheimer's disease is not only crassly opportunistic, it is also patently disingenuous:
. . . the infrequently voiced reality, stem cell experts confess, is that, of all the diseases that may someday be cured by embryonic stem cell treatments, Alzheimer's is among the least likely to benefit.

"I think the chance of doing repairs to Alzheimer's brains by putting in stem cells is small," said stem cell researcher Michael Shelanski, co-director of the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer's Disease and the Aging Brain at the Columbia University Medical Center in New York, echoing many other experts. "I personally think we're going to get other therapies for Alzheimer's a lot sooner."

. . . .

In part as a result of her friendship with Hollywood personalities Doug Wick, Lucy Fisher, and Jerry and Janet Zucker -- all of whom have become stem cell activists because they have children with diabetes -- Nancy Reagan became interested in stem cells and their oft-cited, if largely theoretical, potential for treating Alzheimer's. Over the years, she has become more vocal on the issue.

On May 8, with her husband's brain ravaged by Alzheimer's disease, Nancy Reagan addressed a biomedical research fundraiser in Los Angeles and spoke out forcefully.

"I just don't see how we can turn our backs on this," she said, in an oblique cut at Bush, who placed tight limits on the field in August 2001 to protect, he said, the earliest stages of life.

. . . .

. . . in contrast to Parkinson's, diabetes and spinal injuries, Alzheimer's disease involves the loss of huge numbers and varieties of the brain's 100 billion nerve cells -- and countless connections, or synapses, among them.

"The complex architecture of the brain, the fact that it's a diffuse disease with neuronal loss in numerous places and with synaptic loss, all this is a problem" for any strategy involving cell replacement, said Huntington Potter, a brain researcher at the University of South Florida in Tampa and chief executive of the Johnnie B. Byrd Institute for Alzheimer's Research.

. . . .

It is not clear whether the recent wave of stem cell support will persist as it becomes clearer that cures remain far off -- and, in the case of Alzheimer's, unlikely.
Stem cell research holds forth a distant promise for generating treatments that might be effective for many illnesses and injuries. However, Alzheimer's disease is not among them. Reasonable people can certainly debate and disagree as to how the promise of stem cell research for curing other diseases should be balanced against its moral hazards. And it is certainly understandable that Nancy Reagan, after ten long years of grief and suffering, would embrace the false hope that stem cells might hold a cure for Alzheimer's. But John Kerry has no such excuse for pandering that "fairly tale".

posted by Bathus | 6/13/2004 11:54:00 AM
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