Jonah Goldberg
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Columnist Charles Krauthammer, who is not only a doctor but also bound to a wheelchair because of the sort of spinal injury Democrats insinuated could be cured with a Democrat in the White House, said it well. This flimflammery was "a cruel deception perpetrated by cynical scientists and ignorant politicians. Its purpose is clear: to exploit the desperation of the sick to garner political support for ethically problematic biotechnology."

And where was the press during this riot of false hope and cruel demagoguery, where politicians were in effect telling sick people they could vote for a cure for themselves or their loved ones?

The short answer is that they were either on the Democratic bandwagon, or they were outside helping push it.

When President Bush was grappling with embryonic stem cell research in 2001, Newsweek's science correspondent, Sharon Begley, warned in a cover story that this might be "a cruel blow to millions of patients for whom embryonic stem cells might offer the last chance for health and life."

In the current issue of Newsweek, Begley now tells us that the technology was always oversold. The notion that stem cells will lead to quick cures and transplants is "more fiction than fact," Begley tells us - now.

The New York Times, in the words of Yuval Levin, formerly of the President's Bioethics Council, "has been tenaciously partisan and frankly dishonest in its advocacy for embryo-destructive research in the past decade." The Times almost never used the word "cloning" and downplayed the risks to women who donated eggs. Now, it points out to readers that not only did the old method have considerable drawbacks but that the task of delivering cures and therapies remains "daunting." But, as Levin writes at Commentarymagazine.com, the Times "sees that the fight may be drawing to a close," so "it's time to put away the word games and speak openly about what has always been at stake."

Who says stem cells can't help regenerate spinal tissue?

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Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the forthcoming book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
 
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