I read a lot of news. Often my reaction is a somewhat muted sense of “gee, that’s interesting”. Reports of tragedies around the world gain my sympathy, sure (the situation in Israel/Lebanon certainly needs our prayers, but it is obvious that there’s no easy solution).
But it is not quite as common that a news development really frustrates me. When that happens, it is usually because a person or entity in power chooses to do something that I believe to be a very wrong and backwards choice. Such a thing happened today.
President Bush has vetoed a bill to commit government funding to embryonic stem-cell research, claiming that it crosses a ‘moral boundary’ (Read CNN). This may potentially result in thousands of deaths which might be avoided given the right research into curing diseases as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Several years ago, Congress itself had limited the federal funding, but this time around the bill passed in both chambers, with a substantial number of Republicans supporting it as well. Of course, in some ‘moral’ issues it is wise to tread carefully, but this is an area where the potential benefits are just too great to ignore any longer.
This is the president’s first veto, ever. Which is ironic, since hasn’t vetoed a single of the many costly bills passed until now, nor has he done anything to increase funding in order to pay for them. Recently, Professor Laurence Kotlikoff has argued that the US is on the verge of bankruptcy.
It is a good thing to have a goal. And it is good to have values. But for a politician, a sense of reality is also crucial. Bush gets a lot of criticism for his handling of the Middle East situation, some justified, some not. People might think that when this is arguably going so bad, it’s because he’s focusing on running the country, and that he’s doing a good job with that. Neither is the case.