When John Kerry is President? Elmer Gantry redux?

Drudge is reporting that John Edwards – to his everlasting shame, if it is true – has announced that: ‘When John Kerry is president, people like Christopher Reeve are going to walk. Get up out of that wheelchair and walk again’…

I expect no one in the mainstream media will write the story on this and they’ll pray with the fervor of newly-baptised Evangelical Christians that Mount St. Helens will erupt or another celebrity murder takes place to wipe that quote off of Drudge’s screen.

If Edwards said it, he is the most shameless demogogue in the modern political era. And if Kerry doesn’t denounce it, he’s not far behind.

Let’s say it one more time: The Bush Administration was the first administration to provide federal funding for stem cell research. There is NO BAN on stem cell research. There is no BAN on embryonic stem cell research within the private sector, there is a restriction on the use of federal money on embryonic stem cell research which moves outside of those lines already established in 2001. President Bush is NOT against science. Christopher Reeve did not die because of any policy of the Bush administration. He died because a pressure wound, common to paraplegics, became infected and even modern medicine, with all of its near-miraculous developments, could not prevent the infection from taking over his body and his strong and very brave heart. He died because he took a horrific tumble from a horse 9 years ago and sustained injuries that would surely have killed a man a decade earlier. Would embryonic stem cells have saved him? We don’t know, yet. We do know they would not have saved him this week, nor next, nor next year.

I’ve read news accounts of people who have lost the use of their legs and who are now walking thanks to the use of stem cells taken from their own nasal cavaties. A progression that developed on Bush’s watch! Oh, my. Demagogue that, Mr. Edwards. If you said what Drudge reports…you’re just a bum.

UPDATE: I like Jim Geraghty’s remark at The Kerry Spot I wonder why Edwards didn’t also promise that when John Kerry is president, people like Rodney Dangerfield are going to get some respect.

Deliver us, Lord.

RD: What’s your position on embryonic stem cell research?

Reeve: I advocate it because I think scientists should be free to pursue every possible avenue. It appears though, at the moment, that embryonic stem cells are effective in treating acute injuries and are not able to do much about chronic injuries.

Having always respected Christopher Reeve as a straight shooter (as demonstrated in this Reader’s Digest interview. (Hat tip, Thomas Galvin) I wonder – reading his honest words – if he would appreciate the Kerry/Edwards campaign’s attempt to use his demise like an emotional sledgehammer of disinformation as it implies (oh, it implies) that Mr. Reeve’s tragic death (or his nine years in a wheelchair) were caused by the policies of George W. Bush. I’m still stunned by Edwards’ remark, and having heard the tape of him saying it, I now find him despicable where previously I’d only found him feathery. I am quite certain that we won’t be seeing Dan Rather or Tom Brokaw mentioning it on their broadcasts. There will be no AP headlines on his remarks. No glowing notes by Nedra Pickler. Scott Lindlaw will not likely be filing a report. Al Franken will quickly change the subject and pretend that such grasping demagoguery never happened.

A quick poll of my Democrat friends and family suggests that I’m not the only one who finds the whole episode both repulsive and profoundly telling. As one of them said to me today, “Dana Reeve should just smack him, good and hard.”

Can you imagine what (justifiable) howling and righteous indignation we’d be subjected to by the mainstream press, had a Dick Cheney or a George W. Bush made such a bone-headed, insensitive and exploitative remark while campaigning? There is an old saying: Class tells. Lack of class tells, too.

About Elizabeth Scalia