Today, President Bush issued the third veto of his presidency on legislation expanding funding for embryonic stem cell research, which recently passed Congress with a bipartisan, overwhelming majority.
Faced with the opposition of nearly two-thirds of Americans, White House spokesperson Tony Snow today attempted to spin the veto as a positive development. Snow claimed that Bush has a “unique and unprecedented role” in supporting stem cell research, and attacked critics for “misstating” the administration’s policies, claiming that Bush was in fact “putting science before ideology.”
In an attempt to drum up support for less potent alternatives to embryonic stem cell research, Snow falsely characterized the science behind stem cell research, claiming scientists “are not even entirely sure about what the possible benefits of embryonic stem cells [are].” Watch it:
Snow’s claim doesn’t pass the laugh test. Contrary to what Snow says, Bush has held a backwards and overly ideological perspective on scientific research. In 2001, Bush neutered the ability of scientists to engage in stem cell research by curbing funding for new embryonic lines. In 2006, he vetoed legislation lifting those restrictions. Even Bush’s top scientists have criticized him for these actions.
Currently, “not a single scientist who is pursuing research on any kind of cell has said that research involving embryonic stem cells should stop.” And scientists have seen potential treatments from embryonic stem cell research for a variety of ailments. The only thing stopping federally-funded stem cell research from progressing is the White House’s insistence on putting right-wing ideology ahead of science.UPDATE: More on the administration’s misinformation here and here.
QUESTION: But is it a way to try to, kind of, counter critics who are…
SNOW: No, because I think what happens is the critics quite often who make those complaints are, whether deliberately or not, misstating the nature of the president’s commitment to stem cell research and paying little or no heed or giving no credit to the president’s unique and unprecedented role in supporting stem cell research.
QUESTION: Here’s one of these critics today, Tony. Senator Clinton said: This is just one example of how the president puts ideology before science, politics before the needs of our families, just one more example of how out of touch with reality he and his party have become.
SNOW: Boy, that sounds awfully general.
You want to read that again for me?
QUESTION: This is just one example of how the president puts ideology before science…
SNOW: OK, stop right there. This actually is the president putting science before ideology.
QUESTION: So are you suggesting there’s a scientific basis for believing these alternatives might be more advantageous than the embryonic stem cell…
SNOW: As I said, what you hear from scientists is it’s — they’re not entirely sure. In fact, they’re not even entirely sure about what the possible benefits of embryonic stem cells is, because, again, they’re notoriously difficult to control.