Dems Drop Subject Of Stem-Cell Research
By Sean Higgins
In a fiery speech, he ran down a litany of issues such as Iraq, health care and workers' rights, going well over his allotted 10 minutes and stepping on the other presidential candidates' time.
But as lengthy as his remarks were, there was one issue he never mentioned: stem cells.
He wasn't alone. Barack Obama didn't address the topic in his speech, either. Nor did any of the other candidates present. Stem cells also slipped the minds of DNC chairman Howard Dean and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
What's more, nobody seemed to notice.
"Yeah, it didn't come up," shrugged Robert Asaro-Angelo, executive director of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee. The fact had not even occurred to him until someone else pointed it out.
The issue also went unmentioned during the NPR-hosted Democratic presidential debate on Dec. 4. Instead Iran, Iraq and immigration dominated the debate's two hours.
A few weeks ago this would have been unthinkable. For years, Democrats have pushed the stem cell issue hard, making overturning the White House's restrictions on federal funding a key part of their platform. Yet almost overnight the issue seems forgotten.
The reason is the publication last month of two scientific papers indicating that skin cells can be reprogrammed to act like embryonic cells, potentially eliminating the need for embryonic cells in the first place.
The results were splashed across major papers.
In one fell swoop the politics of the issue shifted, says Ramesh Ponnuru, a harsh critique of the Democrats' stem cell policy and author of "The Party of Death: The Democrats, the Media, the Courts, and the Disregard for Human Life."
"I am not surprised to see that politicians running for office on the Democratic side are talking about this issue less because there is not as much profit to it anymore," Ponnuru said.