On Election Day, "D" Is for "Duh"
Did you hear about the politician who didn’t know what she was talking about?
Sure, most politicians at the highest levels of our government don’t know what they’re talking about. It isn’t necessarily their fault; members of Congress, for example, vote on an enormous amount of legislation dealing with such varied subjects that it would be impossible to be an expert on all of it. That’s why they employ aids to do research and gather information for them.
Unfortunately, they also get a lot of their so-called “information” from lobbyists, people whose job it is to get the legislator to vote their way. The wise politician would take “information” from lobbyists with a grain of salt.
But not Claire McCaskill.
Readers might know McCaskill as the Democratic U.S. Senate candidate from Missouri on whose behalf Michael J. Fox made a television commercial in support of a proposed amendment to the Missouri state constitution dealing with stem cell research. Fox (who later admitted to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that he never read the proposed amendment) has insisted that the amendment would prohibit cloning. Recently on “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace”, Ms. McCaskill herself repeated that claim.
WALLACE: Let’s turn to domestic issues. Stem cell research is a big issue in your campaign as it is in several around the country, and it’s particularly true in Missouri because there’s a constitutional amendment on the ballot that your opponent points out would allow some forms of human cloning. You support that measure.
MCCASKILL: I do, but I disagree with Senator Talent’s analysis. As a lawyer looking and reading the measure, it is very clear that it strictly prohibits human cloning.
In fact, it provides a legal framework with sound ethical guidelines for this kind of research, which, frankly, we don’t have in Missouri right now. So not only would it make sure the research could go forward in Missouri as long as it was legal at the federal level, it also will provide a much-needed ethical and legal framework for this research that all of us want in Missouri and, frankly, all of us want in America.
WALLACE: But, Mrs. McCaskill, if I may disagree, the ballot measure provides for something — this gets very technical, but provides for something called — and let me get it right here — somatic cell nuclear transfer, which is a form of therapeutic cloning.
Isn’t that a slippery slope if you get into any kind of cloning at all?
MCCASKILL: Well, the bottom line is you are not going to get a baby out of a petri dish. This measure, which we don’t have right now, strictly prohibits any kind of implantation of any cells in order for a human being to be created. So there is this bright line contained in this measure which we need, all of us want.
McCaskill says “somatic cell nuclear transfer”, Wallace says “cloning.” You say “to-may-to”, I say “to-mah-to”. But what do the scientific and medical communities say? I’m glad you asked.
- The Association of American Medical Colleges has a web site with the title, “Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (Therapeutic Cloning)”.
- Princeton University’s Department of Molecular Biology has a site discussing “Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT), also called therapeutic cloning”.
- On May 19, 2005, Advanced Cell Technology, a for-profit corporation that is trying to make money from genetic engineering and human cloning, issued a press release entitled, “Advanced Cell Technology Expands Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (Cloning) and Cellular Reprogramming Intellectual Property Portfolio”.
- Go to the web site of the medical journal Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology and you can read a 2003 paper entitled, “Cloning animals by somatic cell nuclear transfer – biological factors”.
- The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation web site notes that SCNT can be used for two types of cloning, distinguished from one another only in purpose: “There is a difference between reproductive cloning (use of somatic cell nuclear transfer technology for the purpose of creating a human being) and therapeutic cloning (use of somatic cell nuclear transfer technology to derive stem cells in order to develop therapies to help cure various diseases).”
- The Christopher Reeve Foundation web site has a FAQ page on somatic cell nuclear transfer in which they note that SCNT is “also known as therapeutic cloning”.
So while Claire McCaskill, Michael J. Fox, and the other embryonic stem-cell research bandwagoners would like us all to believe that “reproductive cloning” is “cloning” but “therapeutic cloning” is “not cloning”, the people who actually, well, know about this stuff would disagree with them.
Incidentally, the ideological lemmings over at ThinkProgress.org (the kind of people who say “white” just because someone they don’t like says “black”) have jumped on the “therapeutic cloning isn’t cloning” train. I tried posting a comment containing the above links, but evidently they screen their comments. Who wants to bet my comment never shows up there? Hey, you can’t reason with a true believer. Some people are so predictable.