PLAYING POLITICS WITH DISEASE
After Reagan's death, the liberals backing John Kerry were in a quandary. They wanted to change the subject from Reagan's accomplishments as president. So they came up with the idea of exploiting Reagan's death by pushing for more federal funding of research on stem cells from created or aborted human beings. This is called embryonic stem cell research. They wanted people to think that such research could produce miraculous treatments or cures for diseases such as Alzheimer's, which Reagan had suffered from.
The campaign was so brazen that columnist Bob Novak wrote that the left was trying to kidnap Reagan in death. The campaign was designed to put President Bush, who is pro-life, on the defensive. Since Nancy Reagan had endorsed embryonic stem cell research, a wedge could be driven between the former First Lady and President Bush. As Novak mentioned, John Kerry was quick to exploit the issue with a speech invoking Nancy Reagan's love for her husband and calling for government to "lift the barrier" on stem-cell research to fight Alzheimer's.
Novak noted that Democratic exploitation of Reagan ignored the fact that, Reagan, not George W. Bush, originally restricted stem-cell research. He explained, "As president, Reagan prohibited working on tissues that were products of abortions. Mrs. Reagan's call last week to end the ban on using embryos reflected broader disagreements with her husband on the issue of abortion." Reagan's son, Michael, says that he and his father always opposed the use of stem cells from human embryos.
The controversy shows how the media can play politics with life and death. Their political agenda was exposed when 13-year-old Mattie Stepanek died from a form of muscular dystrophy, which affects some 250,000 adults and children. It is the number one most lethal childhood genetic disorder.
We found several moving and touching stories about this brave young man, who wrote books of poetry that reached the top of the New York Times bestseller list. But we didn't see any stories about the relatively low level of federal spending on this disease, in comparison to diseases such as AIDS. Consider that National Institutes of Health, NIH, spending on muscular dystrophy is about $40 million a year, compared to $2.9 billion a year on HIV/AIDS. Comedian Jerry Lewis raises more than $40 million a year from private sources through his annual telethons for research on muscular dystrophy.
The Parent Project on Muscular Dystrophy has been seeking what it calls "parity in federal research spending" for muscular dystrophy with other diseases of similar prevalence and severity. It notes that, "Only one disease—AIDS—receives an earmarked appropriation from Congress."
Speeches by Dr. Richard Darling, the founder of the FAIR Foundation, have been strongly criticized—and even disrupted—by homosexual AIDS activists because he draws attention to disparities in funding. AIDS has become the "in" disease, he says. "Support among the Hollywood elite, politicians and the wealthy has become almost a fad." Mattie Stepanek was popular but his disease was not.
© 2004 Cliff Kincaid - All Rights
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Cliff Kincaid, a veteran journalist and media critic, Cliff concentrated in journalism and communications at the University of Toledo, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree.
Cliff has written or co-authored nine books on media and cultural affairs and foreign policy issues.
Cliff has appeared on Hannity & Colmes, The O’Reilly
Factor, Crossfire and has been published in the Washington Post, Washington
Times, Chronicles, Human Events and Insight.
The campaign was so brazen that columnist Bob Novak wrote that the left was trying to kidnap Reagan in death.