Monday, July 18, 2005

A Question for Bill Frist

Mort Kondracke has an important question for Bill Frist in today's issue of Roll Call: "Is he, at bottom, a doctor and scientist dedicated to saving lives, or just an ambitious politician out to advance his career?"

"At the moment," Kondracke continues, "the evidence suggests the latter - that he’s working to peel votes away from legislation that would hasten stem-cell research, and in the process give himself and his party political cover."

Kondracke, who has long backed stem cell research funding and is active on several Parkinson's Disease patient advocacy groups, writes that if the Majority Leader continues to oppose the meaningful stem cell legislation that will come up for a vote this week, it "would not be the first time Frist has allowed his ambition to trump his scientific judgment and put him in league with the ideologues."

Unfortunately, Kondracke does not make outright the point I've been trying to make here since May: while he notes that Frist "bucked the right wing and endorsed federal funding of embryonic research within proper ethical guidelines" back in 2001, he omits mention of the fact that Frist literally endorsed funding the exact same procedure that would be funded under the Specter-Harkin legislation. In a July 18, 2001 press release, Frist listed as one of his "principles" on stem cell research "Allow federal funding for research using only those embryonic stem cells derived from blastocysts that are left over after in vitro fertilization (IVF) and would otherwise be discarded."

But now, apparently, that's "unethical."

The political calculations for Frist are paramount, Kondracke concludes:

"Frist may calculate that even if the House stem-cell bill passes the Senate, Bush will surely veto it and the House will not override the veto. If so, standing up to the right in this case would be a waste of effort and political capital. But this begs the question: When, if ever, will he stand up? Frist has saved thousands of lives as a heart surgeon. He means to save millions more as an advocate for worldwide disease prevention and treatment. Right now, though, he faces a choice: to do what is right and to help millions who might benefit from research he knows is desirable, or to hold it back in the name of personal advancement."

What's it gonna be, Senator?

3 Comments:

At 11:53 AM, Blogger Heiuan said...

"What's it gonna be, Senator?"

Heh...he'll probably come to regret the relationship just like the dude in Meatloaf's song did.

So, now I'm praying for the end of time,...so I can end my time with YOU...

::fades off to the refrain "it was long ago and it was far away and it was so much better than it is today..::

 
At 1:17 PM, Blogger SherAn said...

"...Right now, though, he faces a choice: to do what is right and to help millions who might benefit from research he knows is desirable, or to hold it back in the name of personal advancement."

Personal ambition will trump helping millions every time, signed Bill Frist.

 
At 4:38 PM, Blogger Heiuan said...

For a more serious response, I believe that Sen. Frist has let down his former profession. I feel that he has let down the people of the country with this Faustian bargain he's entered into.

I don't respect him. I certainly don't trust him.

 

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