If Only Austin Would Call Me (I'd Set Bush On The Right Track)!
George Bush and his political team in Austin, Texas missed a wonderful opportunity last week to stand tall on principle, please his conservative base, and leave his opponents not only upset but actually floundering. Rather than issue the compromise decision that he did, which, though artfully crafted and presented was really a slap at his base and a victory for his enemies, he could have looked into the camera, held up a dog-eared copy of the U.S. Constitution, and observed that no amount of searching by himself or his staff had succeeded in discovering the clause delegating to the federal government any authority to spend tax dollars on embryonic stem cell research.
I needn’t describe the spluttering and groping for words to which this would have driven those whose yearning for personal immortality has led them to line up at the mouth of Baal’s furnace, children in tow. Of course we would quickly have heard protestations citing other research already being funded by the government,… giving Bush the delightful opportunity to strike again with something like, "True, and I guess we’ll have to turn some attention to that problem now, as well". I suspect that with the long list of targets vulnerable to such a rejoinder which wait in the wings, that particular line of attack, and the entire issue, would have quickly been abandoned. The worshippers of government would not consider it worth the skin they might lose in the fight, especially as there is plenty of private money to finance the research in question.
Even without the perspective which my fantasy requires, Bush should have found his way to making the right call. He has repeatedly been either praised or excoriated (depending on the commentator’s politics) for following in Ronald Reagan’s footsteps in matters of both policy and style since the beginning of his campaign for national office. He had here a chance to do so again, modeling his response to this issue on the Reagan ban of the federal funding of abortion. There, Reagan made a wise public policy call at the same time that he honored his principles, avoiding the prospect of civil strife which may well have been inevitable had the government begun to pay for the procedure with taxes seized from its opponents. Sadly, Bush’s choice will take that risk while both handing his enemies a victory, and thinning the ranks of his friends. If only Austin had called me!
Ah, well. Maybe next time. I’ll sit by the phone.
© Peter E. Hendrickson