Bush is the first president to approve federal funding for stem cell research. There are 22 lines of stem cells now available, up from one just two years ago. As Dr. Leon Kass, head of the President's Council on Bioethics, has written, there are 3,500 shipments of stem cells waiting for anybody who wants them.
Edwards and Kerry constantly talk of a Bush ``ban'' on stem cell research. This is false. There is no ban. You want to study stem cells? You get them from the companies that have the cells and apply to the National Institutes of Health for the federal funding.
In his Aug. 7 radio address to the nation, John Kerry referred not once but four times to the ``ban'' on stem cell research instituted by Bush. At the time, Christopher Reeve was alive, so not available for posthumous exploitation. But Ronald Reagan was available, having recently died of Alzheimer's.
So what does Kerry do? He begins his radio address with the disgraceful claim that the stem cell ``ban'' is standing in the way of an Alzheimer's cure.
This is an outright lie. The President's Council on Bioethics, on which I sit, had one of the world's foremost experts on Alzheimer's, Dr. Dennis Selkoe from Harvard, give us a lecture on the newest and most promising approaches to solving the Alzheimer's mystery. Selkoe reported remarkable progress in biochemically clearing the ``plaque'' deposits in the brain that lead to Alzheimer's. He ended his presentation without the phrase ``stem cells'' having crossed his lips.
So much for the miracle cure. Ronald D.G. McKay, a stem cell researcher at NIH, has admitted publicly that stem cells as an Alzheimer's cure are a fiction, but that ``people need a fairy tale.'' Kerry and Edwards certainly do. They are shamelessly exploiting this fairy tale, having no doubt been told by their pollsters that stem cells play well politically for them.
Politicians have long promised a chicken in every pot. It is part of the game. It is one thing to promise ethanol subsidies here, dairy price controls there. But to exploit the desperate hopes of desperate people with the promise of Christ-like cures is beyond the pale.
There is no apologizing for Edwards' remark. It is too revealing. There is absolutely nothing the man will not say to get elected.
Charles Krauthammer is a 1987 Pulitzer Prize winner, 1984 National Magazine Award winner, and a columnist for The Washington Post since 1985.
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