Taking a position any position could alienate important constituents
SAN FRANCISCO – Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appears to be in a tight political spot over Proposition 71, a bond measure that would provide $3 billion for human embryonic stem cell research in California.
Schwarzenegger hasn’t taken a position on the measure and many analysts believe he won’t. That’s because no matter which position he endorses, he’s sure to alienate important constituents.
The measure promises to be one of the most contentious election issues this year. It pits Nobel laureates, sympathetic patients who could benefit from stem cells and biotechnology interests against religious groups such as the Roman Catholic Church and political conservatives opposed to the research because it involves destroying days-old embryos and cloning.
Already, Proposition 71 is second only to the two gambling-related measures in campaign fund-raising. Supporters have raised more than $8 million while opponents have eked out less than $50,000.
Schwarzenegger has said he supports the technology. His father-in-law, Sargent Shriver, is in the early grips of Alzheimer’s disease, which Proposition 71 supporters say could someday be treated by stem cells.
Sargent Shriver has always been strongly pro-life and this is just another case where the illness of someone is used to hawk stem-cell research. The same thing happened with Ronald Reagan and now Sargent Shriver is being used as the reason. Neither of these men would have had anything to do with embryonic stem-cell technology and it is a betrayal by those around them to use their names in this cause.
Proposition 71 also would fund cloning projects intended solely for medical research. Even though the measure specifically bans funding of cloning to make babies, opponents are still aghast that human embryos, no matter how microscopic, will be created with taxpayer funds.
Sorry, we are not aghast that taxpayer funds will be used. We are aghast that human life will become a means to an end. That by waving the magic word technology it makes it alright to bring about human life in the laboratory and then to kill it. We have really advanced when the killing fields happen in a sterile lab and people are not killed by those in camouflage but by those in white lab coats.
Jack Pitney, a political scientist at Claremont McKenna College, said Schwarzenegger could come out against the measure without touching on the morality of the issue. He could argue that financial support of such nascent science should be left to the federal government and private industry, especially as California’s budget woes continue.
"He could cast this as a finance and process thing, rather than argue against it on the merits," Pitney said.
Gee, don’t you just love Catholics in public life like Gov. Schwarzenegger? Their faith really make a difference. Asta-la-vista, embryo!