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Missouri’s Jim Talent: Your typical heartless and cruel conservative

Well at least that’s what you’d think if you saw actor Michael J. Fox’s campaign ad [1] for Talent’s opponent Claire McCaskill, where he pushes for government funded stem cell research.

I’ve no issue with Fox. He suffers from Parkinson’s disease (which is very apparent when you watch the video as he apparently didn’t take his medication for a day [or more?] to show what Parkinson’s is doing to him) and feels extensive stem cell research, funded by the government, might cure others who suffer fro Parkinson’s and other diseases. He’s gone to Capitol Hill several times [2] to lobby for government funding of stem cell research. I also don’t believe, as some do, that Fox was “exploited” – he knew what he was doing when he signed on to do the ad. My issue is with McCaskill, who is once again demagoguing an issue by shamlessly toying with the emotions of voters in Missouri.

She did it before [3] using a tactic Democrats are infamous for using: the race baiting tactic [4]. Here’s what she said before a group of St. Louis elected Democrats [5] back in September:

“George Bush let people die on rooftops in New Orleans because they were poor and because they were black.”

The Senate race in Missouri is a tight one right now, with Talent and McCaskill nearly tied [6] as per the latest Rasmussen poll [7], so I guess she’s pulling out all the stops in an effort to defeat Talent, and doing what desperate Democrats do when they want to win elections: paint Republicans as a bunch of heartless, selfish (and racist) thugs who don’t care about helping the sick and the needy. It’s disgusting, and just one more on a long list of reasons why Claire McCaskill shouldn’t be elected to serve in the US Senate.

Update: John Amato at Crooks and Liars [8] posts an email from a reader who alerted him to some comments Rush made on his program today about Fox:

“I stated when I saw the ad, I was commenting to you about it, that he was either off the medication or he was acting. He is an actor, after all.”

The emailer (named Doug) wrote:

Rush Limbaugh today accused Michael J. Fox, actor and Parkinson’s Disease victim, of deliberately going off of his meds to appear on camera with exaggerated symptoms of his disease for dramatic effect. Fox appeared in a recent Clair McHaskill (D-MO) Senate campaign ad, touting the need for stem cell research. Limbaugh even goes so far as to accuse Fox of faking his symptoms all together.

These emails claim Fox has admitted in interviews that he goes off his medication.” A tireless search of the Internet produces no such record of any interview, or any statement in which Fox has ever admitted or even suggested that he ever goes off his Parkinson’s treatment at all, let alone for the purposes of shaking it up for the television audience.

He conducted a “tireless search” and couldn’t find anything? It took me all of five minutes to find a quote from Michael J. Fox from his 2002 memoir Lucky Man [9], where he admits to making a “deliberate choice” to appear before a Senate subcommittee back in 1999 without medication. Via an excerpt [10] from the book posted on the MJF Foundation for Parkinson’s website (emphasis added):

Snippets of my testimony were featured on several of the nightly news broadcasts. One line in particular from my prepared statement got a lot of play: “In my forties, I can expect challenges most people wouldn’t face until their seventies and eighties, if ever. But with your help, if we all do everything we can to eradicate this disease, when I’m in my fifties I’ll be dancing at my children’s weddings.” I had made a deliberate choice to appear before the subcommittee without medication. It seemed to me that this occasion demanded that my testimony about the effects of the disease, and the urgency we as a community were feeling, be seen as well as heard. For people who had never observed me in this kind of shape, the transformation must have been startling.

I’ve no problem with this, as you can talk about the effects a disease has on someone all day long – seeing the effect it has on sufferers of it is more powerful, and I can understand why Fox would do this. So it wasn’t wrong of Rush to speculate that Fox was off his medication, because Fox has admitted to doing that before. I watched a documentary about Fox several weeks ago where either he or a friend of his (can’t remember which) talked about (him) appearing before that Congressional subcommittee without his medication. I was moved to tears seeing what he was going through.

As far as Rush’s suggestion that Fox may have been “acting”, well, that’s a quote I want to see in context, but I’m not sure even in context that that part of his quote couldn’t be labelled disgraceful. I’ll check the transcript later this evening.

Update II: Just checked Rush’s site. Here’s what he said in context [11] (emphasis added):

Now, people are telling me that they have seen Michael J. Fox in interviews and he does appear the same way in the interviews as he does in this commercial for Claire McCaskill. All right, then I stand corrected. I’ve seen him on Boston Legal. I’ve seen him on a number of stand-up appearances. I know he’s got it; it’s pitiable that he has the disease. It is a debilitating disease, and I understand that fully. Just stick with me on this.

All I’m saying is I’ve never seen him the way he appears in this commercial for Claire McCaskill. So I will bigly, hugely admit that I was wrong, and I will apologize to Michael J. Fox, if I am wrong in characterizing his behavior on this commercial as an act, especially since people are telling me they have seen him this way on other interviews and in other television appearances.

[…]

I must share this. I have gotten a plethora of e-mails from people saying Michael J. Fox has admitted in interviews that he goes off his medication for Parkinson’s disease when he appears before Congress or other groups as a means of illustrating the ravages of the disease. So lest there be any misunderstanding, we talked about a half hour ago of the commercial that’s running for Claire McCaskill featuring Michael J. Fox on what appears to be when he’s off his meds. I have never seen him this way and I stated when I was commenting to you about it that he was either off his medication or acting. He is an actor after all, and started hearing from people, “Oh, no, I’ve seen him on TV this way, this is how the disease has affected him when he’s not on his medications.” Then the e-mails started coming in saying he’s admitted not to taking them in certain circumstances so as to illustrate how the disease affects people. All of which I understand, and I’m not even critical of that. Parkinson’s disease is hideous.

[…]

So let there be no misunderstanding about this. I stand corrected, did not know and had never seen Michael J. Fox in the way I saw him in this commercial for Claire McCaskill. But people have and have seen him say in interviews that he doesn’t take his medications when he wants to make an impression to show people just how horrible the disease is. And it’s true of all Parkinson’s patients. At some point the medication will not work, and the condition will become permanent, and there’s nothing pleasant about it. It’s one of the most frustrating diseases one can have. Pope had it. It’s not pleasant in any way, shape, manner, or form, nor did I mean to implicate that one could easily act it out for the purposes of a commercial.

Better.

BTW, here’s the ad:

Others blogging about this: Dean Barnett [12], Lorie Byrd [13], Anchoress [14]