Well, it took him five-and-a-half years, but the Decider has finally issued his very first veto. *sniff!* Our little boy is all growed up!
As we all know, President Bush has stamped his feet and made noises about issuing vetoes many times before -- on serious matters like funding for Iraq, the anti-torture bill, the budget, pensions, the FAA, the ports deal, spending bills, etc. Those have always been empty threats, though, since Bush has been content to skip his constitutional right to veto and instead use his imaginary boy-king power of the "signing statement" to undercut the laws.
But now, at long last, he's found a cause worth vetoing and has finally pulled the trigger. The cause? Stem cell research.
In the most important sense, this is a sad day for the country. The scientific community is universally in favor of stem cell research, which they believe could lead to cures for Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, juvenile diabetes, and on and on. Bush has sent the millions of Americans suffering from such diseases a clear message -- your current state of life is not as important as a five-day-old frozen embryo that's going to be discarded anyway. Or, more to the point, your life isn't as important as the allegiance he has to the Religious Right.
Politically, of course, this is a tremendous gift to the Democratic Party. Public opinion on stem cell research is an overwhelming 2-to-1 in favor, with notorious left-wing lunatics like Nancy Reagan and Bill Frist lending very vocal support. Judging from today's press conference, the White House apparently sees this as a good way to rally the pro-life movement for the fall elections. However, it's clear that pro-lifers are evenly split on the issue, as seen in Orrin Hatch's rather eloquent statement supporting stem cell research and the voting breakdown in the Senate.
In the end, the Democrats are poised to wrap themselves in the mantle of a movement as equally powerful in its rhetoric and rallying effects as the pro-life movement -- something Jonathan Alter has astutely named the "pro-cure" movement. That's not only the right political framing, but also the right thing to do.
Thanks, Decider! I'd kiss you if I weren't afraid of catching the Liebercooties.