A Hard Cell
It may be the first day of summer, but bloggers are hard at work denouncing President Bush's stem-cell veto, sizing up a job offer for Tony Blair, and looking for a missing lake.
A hard cell: President Bush Wednesday vetoed a bill that would have lifted restrictions on federally funded human embryonic stem-cell research, saying, "I will not allow our nation to cross this moral line." Democratic and Republican presidential candidates alike have vowed to lift the ban on funding if elected, and nearly two-thirds of Americans opposed Bush's veto.
Liberals are quick to question W's qualifications as the nation's moral gatekeeper. "According to the president, the United States is 'a nation founded on the principle that all human life is sacred,' " sniffs writer and former Clinton White House aide Keith Boykin. "That's just baloney. Two of the most defining issues of Bush's public life belie his purported belief in the sanctity of human life. As governor of Texas, George Bush presided over the nation's busiest execution chamber. And as president, Bush launched a war that has killed thousands of innocent civilians."
Steve Benen at The Carpetbagger Report looks hard for logic in the "morality" haystack but can't find it: "Bush's guiding principle can't be protecting the sanctity of embryonic life because his policies show otherwise. The president supports, for example, private funding of embryonic stem cell research. He also supports IVF and medical research using old stem-cell lines. It's not just that Bush's policy is wrong — though it is wrong — it's that it contradicts itself." But at Rhymes With Right, Greg, a diabetic history teacher in Seabrook, Texas, makes a distinction: "I'm regularly told that my condition could be cured by means of fetal stem cell research. So let me express my opinion clearly on President Bush's veto. … GOOD FOR YOU, MR. PRESIDENT! ... What this veto does is simply prohibit the use of federal money to facilitate the taking of any more innocent lives for scientific research."
Writer Barbara O'Brien at The Mahablog tries to meet to meet the prez halfway but can't quite go there: "Abortion presents a painful choice, and although I oppose criminalization I understand why people agonize over this issue. But embryonic stem cell research? Particularly when there are boatloads of frozen embryos that will almost certainly be discarded anyway? You're balancing the "rights" of a cluster of frozen cells against sentient children and adults suffering from terrible diseases. I see absolutely nothing 'ethical' in Bush's veto."
Read more about the stem-cell debate.
Help wanted: Tony Blair will step down as British prime minister soon, but don't expect him to disappear from the world stage. The Bush administration hopes to see Blair appointed as special Middle East envoy for Palestinian issues. Around the world, bloggers are aghast.
Cairo-based journalist Issandr El Amrani at The Arabist fumes, "Great — a Bush lapdog with a long track record of anti-Palestinian policy-making sent to negotiate peace." British expat Pamela Heywood at Cosmos exclaims, "Heaven help us! Mind you, I suppose it depends how they define 'envoy'. It's a fancy bloody title for a messenger boy, but I still think it would be dangerous to let him anywhere near the Middle East, given past performance." Adds RickB at Ten Percent, "I know that Tom Lehrer said satire became obsolete when Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace prize, but this is getting ridiculous."
"As Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Tony Blair had his faults, and they were many, but as an ally to the United States we could not have asked for a better friend," conservative Lemuel Calhoon at Hillbilly White Trash concedes. "This is why it strikes me as a bit cruel for the Bush administration to work so hard to set him up for failure by landing him a job which he can not possibly succeed at." But for "the mound of sound" at Rolling Back the Tide of Extremism, failure appears to be the objective: "Why Blair? … He's immensely distrusted and unpopular at home which gives him a great deal in common with George w. Bush. He knows so much about the Middle East that he was invaluable in helping George w. set the whole place on fire. … All things considered, Blair would make an excellent Paul Bremer style proconsul."
Read more about Blair's future.
Susan Daniels is a former Slate staffer. She lives in Amsterdam.