By now you've probably heard that scientists have discovered an elegant way to create the equivalent of embryonic stem cells (ECS) without having to create - and destroy - embryos. They just reprogram some skin cells and, voila, bypass all the controversial stuff. The long-promised miracle cures are still a long way off, if they're coming at all, and ECS research still has its boosters, but it seems pretty clear that stem cells have been decoupled from the abortion wars.
Still, there has been one amazing breakthrough. Thanks to stem cells, journalists are finally growing backbones.
At the 2004 Democratic National Convention, Ron Reagan Jr., the acclaimed dog show emcee, tried his hand at being an infomercial snake oil barker. "I am here tonight to talk about the issue of research into may be the greatest breakthrough in our or any lifetime: the use of embryonic stem cells," Reagan announced. After listing numerous diseases and injuries it could cure, Reagan delivered the pitch: "How'd you like to have your own personal biological repair kit standing by at the hospital? Sound like magic? Welcome to the future of medicine."
"Wait! There's more! Order your Biological Repair Kit in the next seven minutes, by voting 1-800-D-E-M-O-C-R-A-T, and you'll receive a second repair kit at no additional cost, as well as this amazing two-in-one steak knife that can cut through your dignity and still be sharp enough to slice this tomato! Operators are standing by."
OK, I exaggerate. But the tone wasn't far off.
Reagan wasn't alone, either. Then-vice presidential candidate John Edwards proclaimed in 2004, "If we do the work that we can do in this country, the work that we will do when John Kerry is president, people like Christopher Reeve are going to walk, get up out of that wheelchair and walk again."
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) announced a few years earlier: "We must not say to millions of sick or injured human beings, ŒGo ahead and die, stay paralyzed, because we believe the blastocyst, the clump of cells, is more important than you are.' ... It is a sentence of death to millions of Americans."
Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), outraged by conservatives seeking to inject religion into politics, nonetheless proclaimed: "Mr. Speaker, the National Institutes of Health and Science hold the biblical power of a cure for us."
Cure for what? Cure for e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. And soon!
How soon? Very soon. Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) promised that "we stand on the brink of finding the cures to diseases that have plagued so many millions of Americans."