Obama's carefully crafted cloning self-contradiction fits perfectly within the duplicitous argument underlying a longstanding bill, pushed in Congress by promoters of "embryonic stem cell research," that would specifically legalize cloning human embryos so they can be killed for their stem cells.
In the last Congress, this bill (S.812) was sponsored by Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California and Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah. It is titled the "Human Cloning Ban and Stem Cell Research Protection Act."
This bill does not "close the door" to human cloning any more than Obama does.
What it would do is legally redefine "human cloning" so that whether "human cloning" takes place is not determined by whether you create a human being who is an exact genetic copy of someone else, but where you put that human being after you have created him or her.
"The term 'human cloning,'" the bill says, "means implanting or attempting to implant the product of a nuclear transplantation into a uterus or the functional equivalent of a uterus."
But why should lawmakers care if somebody, somewhere, sometime implants "the product of a nuclear transplantation" into a machine designed to be "the functional equivalent of a uterus?" Only because "the product of a nuclear transplantation" is in fact a cloned human embryo -- and if that cloned human embryo is implanted in a uterus or "functional equivalent of a uterus" it might not die -- the fate the bill mandates for it at 14 days -- but might instead progress through further stages of human development and grow as old as, say, Orrin Hatch or Dianne Feinstein or Barack Obama, all of whom once enjoyed the formerly universal human experience of implantation in a uterus.
In a March 8, 2007, Senate floor speech introducing the bill, Feinstein accidentally revealed the political rationale behind the duplicitous language of clone-to-kill advocates.
"Despite disagreements over various types of biomedical research, there is near unanimous agreement that scientists should not create human clones," she said. "That's why this legislation will make it a crime to clone a human being, or attempt to clone a human being by implanting cells that result from nuclear transplantation in the uterus."
But, then, why make it a crime for the scientist? By Feinstein's logic, only a uterus can make a clone.