Wednesday, 20 June 2007

The deja vu veto

Every once in a while, one sees something in the news and thinks, 'Haven't I seen this before?'. That's what happened when I saw the story of President Bush's second veto on the BBC News front page.

Today, Bush wasted his third ever veto on something very similar to the thing he vetoed a few years ago: stem cells.

US President George W Bush has vetoed a bill that would have eased restrictions on federally-funded stem-cell research.

He also issued an executive order encouraging scientists to focus on ways to conduct research without using stem cells from human embryos.

Mr Bush said advances must be pursued in a way "that respects human dignity and upholds our moral values".

The Democratic-led Congress is expected to try to override the veto but is unlikely to get enough votes.

Last time Congress had nearly enough votes for an override — which requires 2/3 of both the House and Senate. Now that it is majority-Democrat, the legislature might — although party politics sometimes keep loyalties cemented in votes — have a shot at overriding the executive. Unlike with Iraq, voter risk for Democrats on challenging Bush is low, too. The bill flew easily through Congress up to this point, but can an override happen?
...the issue may provide the opportunity for the first of a wave of veto showdowns during President Bush's last 18 months in office. "The congressional Republican leadership protected the President for his first six years and kept measures that he would veto from ever getting to the White House," says Thomas Mann, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. "That time is over."

Because his breed of extreme Christianity views anything to do with stem cells as 'immoral', Bush has courted the religious right lobby once again by restricting stem cell research and funding of such research. Back in August 2001 Bush imposed a ban on federally-funded stem cell research.

As a reminder, this is one of the few major issues the majority of the American public actually has a good opinion about. Most Americans are pro-stem cell research, and why shouldn't they be unless they think the little 'snowflakes' — unborn embryos often frozen that are due to be discarded anyways — are some form of unborn life (hint: the unborn part cancels out the living part, they're potential at best but are bound to be destroyed anyways unless used to make babies or, more likely in this case, disposed of or researched).

Can there be life that doesn't in fact live? Is the only way we can fight to defend our freedom to take it away? Those questions would be answered "yes" by many Bush supporters who weld great power with their narrow-minded views of policy on a number of 'moral' and security issues.

Log of Bush vetoes — none of which are positive in my eyes even when he had the opportunity to veto poor legislation that he vowed to nix in the first place! 'The Decider' has threatened to use his veto tens of times, he's very good at instilling fear for his own political aims (think "war on terror").

  • Veto 1
    Date: 20 July 2006
    Subject: Funding for and restrictions on stem cell research
    Public opinion: For the bill
    Status: Long dead
  • Veto 2*
    Date: 1 May 2007
    Subject: War funding bill with Iraq troop withdrawal amendment
    Public opinion: Mixed, on Iraq
    Status: Successor still in the works
  • Veto 3
    Date: 20 June 2007
    Subject: Another stem cell bill easing regulations on government funding
    Public opinion: Affirmative of the legislation's proposals
    Status: Just vetoed... possibility for congressional override if partisanship doesn't rule supreme

    Thus George Bush's war on science with misguided morals continues. Considering how important science is to the modern world — especially the prospect of breakthrough in biology and medicine (see The Economist's cover this week) — this administration is moving America backwards, not forwards.

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