Bush denies promise of stem cell research, will of the people
The president again has vetoed legislation to lift restrictions on embryonic stem cell research.
WHITE House spokesman Tony Snow audaciously denies that President Bush's executive order encouraging stem cell research that doesn't involve human embryos had anything to do with his second veto of a measure lifting federal restrictions on embryonic research.
Such is the disdainful nature of an administration that refuses to recognize public will on myriad issues from the war in Iraq to global warming.
Bush's empty gesture, which Snow dressed up as a "big breakthrough" in an area for "robust research," most tellingly comes with no new money. It does not allow researchers to do anything they can't already do and merely requires health officials to push paper from agency to agency.
Members of Congress aren't walking away from the fight. While Democrats concede they don't have the votes for an override, even with Republican support, they will continue with legislation, attaching it to must-pass bills.
Still, it is unlikely that federally funded research into potentially life-saving treatment for Parkinson's and Lou Gehrig's diseases, diabetes and other illnesses will advance until Bush leaves the White House.
In rejecting stem cell legislation for the second time, Bush stands largely isolated on the issue. A majority of voters and members of his own party, who sent him a similar bill last year, support the promising work.
Indeed, a majority of couples with stored embryos from fertility treatments -- people who have the most intimate investment -- say they would be willing to donate unused embryos to stem cell research rather than see them destroyed. The measure would have allowed them to do that.
Nonetheless, the president cleaves to his hard conservative base, some of whose members oppose not only the research but the clinics and treatments that give couples with fertility problems a chance to have their own children.
Bush's intractable stance magnifies the issue for the 2008 presidential campaign, with Democratic candidates in support of studies. Republican contenders, however, are divided, with Arizona Sen. John McCain and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani generally in favor, and others, including the ever-mutating Mitt Romney, against.
Recent studies have shown possibilities in stem cells derived from placentas, amniotic fluid and skin from mice, but embryonic cells, almost all scientists say, hold the most potential for treating and even curing devastating diseases and conditions.
Bush has allowed use of federal funds on embryonic lines derived before 2001, but those were few and some were contaminated by mouse cells. Though research has been continuing with private donations and other funding, progress will be slow without the heft of the federal government.