rorchach.jpgJohn McCain is out with a new ad pledging more federal dollars or stem cell research:

ANNCR: They’re the original mavericks. Leaders. Reformers. Fighting for real change.

John McCain will lead his Congressional allies to improve America’s health.

Stem cell research to unlock the mystery of cancer, diabetes, heart disease.

Stem cell research to help free families from the fear and devastation of illness.

Stem cell research to help doctors repair spinal cord damage, knee injuries, serious burns.

Stem cell research to help stroke victims.

And, John McCain and his Congressional allies will invest millions more in new NIH medical research to prevent disease.

Medical breakthroughs to help you get better, faster.

Change is coming.

McCain-Palin and Congressional allies.

The leadership and experience to really change Washington and improve your health.

Paid for by McCain-Palin 2008 and the Republican National Committee.

JOHN MCCAIN: I’m John McCain and I approved this message.

In the current debate over stem cell research, the major sticking point is over whether or not the government ought to fund new embryonic stem cell research. When you say you support federally-backed stem cell research, that’s generally taken to mean you support federally-funded embryonic stem cell research. Otherwise, you specific the type of stem-cell research you’re talking about–on adult stem cells or cord blood cells, for instance.

That’s what makes his new ad a shocker. He insinuates that he supports more federal bucks for embryonic stem cell research. But the recently drafted Republican Party calls for an outright ban on embryonic stem cell research:

…[W]e call for a ban on human cloning and for a ban on the creation of or experimentation on human embryos for research purposes.

Sarah Palin, too, is on record as opposing stem cell research:

“…[S]tem-cell research would ultimately end in destruction of life. I couldn’t support (it).'”

It all adds up to McCain trying to have it both ways on stem cell research.

He’s already supported legislation to fund expanded embryonic stem cell research that’s been vetoed by President Bush. And yet this new ad mentions only “stem cell research,” rather than “embryonic stem cell research,” leaving the door open to the the interpretation that he supports only non-embryonic stem cells, a position the Christian Right holds.

McCain’s web site is similarly convoluted on this issue:

Stem cell research offers tremendous hope for those suffering from a variety of deadly diseases – hope for both cures and life-extending treatments. However, the compassion to relieve suffering and to cure deadly disease cannot erode moral and ethical principles.

For this reason, John McCain opposes the intentional creation of human embryos for research purposes. To that end, Senator McCain voted to ban the practice of “fetal farming,” making it a federal crime for researchers to use cells or fetal tissue from an embryo created for research purposes. Furthermore, he voted to ban attempts to use or obtain human cells gestated in animals. Finally, John McCain strongly opposes human cloning and voted to ban the practice, and any related experimentation, under federal law.

As president, John McCain will strongly support funding for promising research programs, including amniotic fluid and adult stem cell research and other types of scientific study that do not involve the use of human embryos.

Where federal funds are used for stem cell research, Senator McCain believes clear lines should be drawn that reflect a refusal to sacrifice moral values and ethical principles for the sake of scientific progress, and that any such research should be subject to strict federal guidelines.

Huh? Many lay people would read that and conclude that McCain opposed embryonic stem cell research. Others would conclude that he supports it.

Is it just God-o-Meter, or is McCain making his stance on embryonic stem cell research a Rorschach Test, so that both supporters and opponents believe he’s on their side?


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