A View From The Handbasket

Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Dartboard update
Posted by neros_fiddle at 9:17 AM
Upon further reflection (and, one imagines, an uncomfortable conversation or two), Tony Snow has decided that the President doesn't really think using blastocyst-Americans for stem-cell research is murder after all:

Q Tony, not to bring up last week's news, but the issue of whether embryonic stem cell research is murder came up yesterday on "Meet The Press." You said, I believe, last week that some people regard this as murder and the President is among them.

MR. SNOW: Yes, well, I --

Q Does he believe this is murder?

MR. SNOW: I overstepped my brief there, and so I created a little trouble for Josh Bolten in the interview. And I feel bad about it. I think there's concern. The President has said that he believes that this is the destruction of human life.


But the President certainly does not oppose the promise of pluripotency. The President certainly does not oppose stem cell research. But he does find -- he does have objections with spending federal money on something that is morally objectionable to many Americans. I will go ahead and apologize for having overstated -- I guess, overstated the President's position.

But on the other hand, I think it's also important in this particular case to keep in mind that when it comes to stem cell research this President was the first to allow the use of embryonic stem cell lines, and he has supported -- more than any other President in American history -- research into embryonic stem cell research, and also shares the goals that Senator Frist and others have talked about, which is unlocking the possibility of pluripotent cells.

Q So the President does not regard this as murder?

MR. SNOW: He would not use that term.

Q And the corollary question that's emerged on Capitol Hill and elsewhere is, if it is murder, do you then shut down in vitro fertilization clinics?

MR. SNOW: Well, as you know, they're not the recipients of federal money. We're talking about the use of federal money on things that are morally -- that some people consider morally objectionable and some do not. It's one of the reasons why, as you know, we've allowed states to make their own decisions. And a number of them have, in terms of assigning states resources for use in embryonic stem cell research.

Salon asks the obvious question:

Say what you will about Snow's characterization of stem cell research as "murder"; it offered moral clarity, even if the president and his supporters weren't willing to take it to its logical conclusion. Now? It's slippery slope time, and Snow's construct has the White House sliding right down one. Perhaps somebody ought to ask Snow this today: If it isn't appropriate to outlaw things that "some people consider morally objectionable and some do not" unless those things are done using "federal money," then how can the GOP advocate a federal ban on gay marriage or limits on internet gambling?

Meanwhile, Condi goes to Beirut and offers soothing noises:

As Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice touched down in Beirut yesterday on her Top Secret visit, bombing in the city miraculously halted for a few hours, a sure sign of the close collaboration that exists between the United States and Israel.

Rice told her Lebanese counterparts that she was "deeply concerned about the Lebanese people and what they are enduring." She brought blankets to prove it.

Yet, we aren't so concerned about the plight of the Lebanese people as to interfere with pressing business:

The Bush administration is rushing a delivery of precision-guided bombs to Israel, which requested the expedited shipment last week after beginning its air campaign against Hezbollah targets in Lebanon, American officials said Friday.

The decision to quickly ship the weapons to Israel was made with relatively little debate within the Bush administration, the officials said. Its disclosure threatens to anger Arab governments and others because of the appearance that the United States is actively aiding the Israeli bombing campaign in a way that could be compared to Iran’s efforts to arm and resupply Hezbollah.

After all, we can't let a little human suffering (of fully-gestated brown people, rather than lily-white "snowflake" embryos) get in the way of the President's "leadership moment" (hat tip to Billmon for this gem):

White House aides have said they consider the Lebanon crisis to be a "leadership moment" for Mr Bush and an opportunity to proceed with his post-September 11 plan to reshape the Middle East by building Sunni Arab opposition to Shia terrorism. Yesterday Mr Bush cited the role of Iran and Syria in providing help to Hezbollah.

The utter incoherence of the administration's Middle East policy is laid bare in the above quote. So, Bush's post-9/11 plan is to "build Sunni Arab opposition to Shia terrorism"? First off, it's rather odd that an attack by al Qaeda, a Sunni terror group, would inspire Bush to recruit Sunnis to go after "Shia terrorism." Further, toppling Saddam's secular Sunni regime and replacing it with an Iran-friendly Shia government is a curious approach to furthering this plan.

But beyond all the quibbling about how we've put Iran in the catbird seat by winning the Iran-Iraq war for them, one has to wonder how encouraging and arming Israel in their quest to punish Lebanon as much as humanly possible for the sins of Hezbollah is supposed to convince Sunni Arabs (such as, say, the democratically elected Hamas government) that they need to help us fight Shia terrorism.

Do they have mulligans in darts?

UPDATE: Here's the inevitable result of Bush's folly.

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