Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Bush's Madame Curie Moment

It's hard to picture the President in a lab coat, but the White House today is giving him credit for the newest advance in stem cell research.

Reacting to the news that scientists have succeeded in reprogramming skin cells to mimic embryonic stem cells, a Presidential adviser tells us today,

“This is very much in accord with the president’s vision from the get-go. I don’t think there’s any doubt that the president’s drawing of lines on cloning and embryo use was a positive factor in making this come to fruition.”

If the way to encourage advances is to thwart scientists' work, Bush should take his place alongside Madame Curie in the annals of medical breakthroughs.

"My feeling is that the political controversy set the field back four or five years," says James Thomson, who led a team at the University of Wisconsin in discovering human embryonic stem cells in 1998.

“I really don’t think anybody ought to take credit in light of the six-year delay we’ve had,” says Sen. Arlen Specter, a Republican sponsor of the bill Bush vetoed in July 2006. “My own view is that science ought to be unfettered and that every possible alternative ought to be explored.

“You’ve got a life-and-death situation here, and if we can find something which is certifiably equivalent to embryonic stem cells, fine. But we are not there yet.”

Americans like Nancy Reagan and Michael J. Fox will be elated to learn about the new research, they are not likely to be hailing George W. Bush as a benefactor of mankind.

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