Health

The Republican Right Versus the Republican Center

The IntersectionBy Chris MooneyJul 19, 2006 10:48 AM

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Judging from the stem cell vote, it looks like the Republican right is still predominant, even if there has been some erosion on this issue and a lot of Republicans shifting positions:

In the Senate, 43 Democrats, 19 Republicans and one independent voted to expand federally funded embryonic stem cell research, while 36 Republicans and one Democrat -- Ben Nelson (Neb.) -- voted against it.

First of all, what the heck is up with Ben Nelson? Second, the above vote tally inspires me to include a point of clarification. When I introduced the phrase "Republican War on Science" into the discourse--and it has since gotten around quite a great deal--I never meant to suggest that every single last Republican was somehow "anti-science." I only meant to argue that there was something about the GOP, as presently constituted, which tended to make a "war on science" an inevitable outcome when this party is put into power in the Senate, House, or White House. I think that the current stem cell vote accurately reflects this fact, although technically my analysis focuses on misuse of scientific information itself rather than whether a particular politician supports or opposes federal funding for a particular sort of research (which is what the current stem cell bill involves). Nevertheless, conservative opponents of the current bill defend their position by engaging in a wide range of science abusing behaviors, such as inflating adult stem cells and ignoring the fundamental falsehood about available lines that lies at the heart of the Bush policy. So I think the general point remains accurate.

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