Now that’s a convincing stem-cell argument by mattsteinglass
March 21, 2009, 4:18 pm
Filed under: Conservatism, Science

Ross Douthat finally somehow arrives at this defense of conservatives who oppose government funding for stem-cell research but don’t try to make such research illegal:

Fighting against government funding for stem-cell research is the equivalent of the Hyde Amendment approach to government funding for abortion: It may not work, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t make political sense. 

Normally when you say a policy doesn’t work, but is pursued for political reasons, that’s not a defense, it’s a condemnation. (Though to be fair I’m not really sure what Douthat means by “not work” here — maybe he just means it won’t be enacted, but it’s politically appropriate to support it on principle?)

But in fact Douthat is right: Bush-era restrictions on government funding for stem-cell research were indeed similar to the various ineffective but politically advantageous stances the GOP has taken on a lot of culture-war issues over the past few decades, such as the abortion “gag rule”, refusal to fund needle exchanges for heroin users in foreign aid (including anti-HIV aid in countries with injection-drug-driven epidemics), defunding UNFPA, the attacks on the National Endowment for the Arts, the Terry Schiavo intervention, efforts to teach creationism in schools, investigations into the President’s sex life, the flag-burning amendment, and so forth. The GOP has not really been interested in serious governance for a long time, and has instead been driven by these kinds of tabloid populist distractions, which are intended to get it re-elected so it can provide its basic deliverables of lower taxes for the rich and less regulation of corporations. The problem for Douthat is that he, a reasonably thoughtful person who isn’t usually a provocateur, feels compelled to devise intellectually viable defenses of political stances that have been adopted for purely mediagenic reasons, and not because they make any sense when implemented. So he seems to wind up contorting himself into a pretzel a lot of the time.


1 Comment so far
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Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language 😉
See you!
Your, Raiul Baztepo

Comment by RaiulBaztepo

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