Democrats and “wedge issues”

For months back during the 2004 campaign, we heard from media elites about how “BushCo” were using so-called “wedge issues” like gay marriage and illegal immigration in an effort to deliberately divide the American electorate for purposes of winning the election in the fall. The ‘slimy’ GOP would stop at nothing, they insinuated, to keep their power both in Congress and the WH.

Oddly enough (or perhaps not odd at all), you never heard that same crowd complain about the actual wedge issues that were being used by Democrats, like the issue of embryonic stem cell research. Both Kerry and Edwards used it repeatedly in 2004, with Edwards at one point exclaiming that if he and Kerry were elected, “people like Christopher Reeve are going to walk, get up out of that wheelchair and walk again.” It was a classic shameless attempt by KEdwards to try and paint Republicans as people who were “against” curing the sick and the crippled, simply because they were opposed to embryonic stem cell research.

This issue was again brought up in 2006 when actor Michael J. Fox, a sufferer of Parkinson’s Disease, partnered up with the DNC to release a series of grossly misleading ads in key states painting Republican Senators (or candidates for Senate) as being “against hope” because they opposed embryonic stem cell research, which Fox believes may help cure disease sufferers like him. Nowhere was this issue more heated than in the state of Missouri, where Democrat Claire McCaskill took on Missouri’s incumbent Republican Senator Jim Talent. In additon to the Fox ad, McCaskill made it her personal mission to paint Talent and anyone else who opposed Missouri’s fraudulent embryonic stem cell Amendment 2 (which was on the ballot in 2006 in MO) as heartless beasts who were against helping the sick get well, this in spite of the fact that – yes – believe it or not, Republicans have family and friends who suffer from illnesses and disease who they want to see get well, too. They just oppose any scientific attempts at cures that they strongly believe would devalue human life.

Well, the issue has popped up again, just in time for the November elections. Yesterday, Obama’s VP pick Senator Joe Biden had this to say about opponents of embryonic stem cell research:

“I hear all this talk about how the Republicans are going to work in dealing with parents who have both the joy, because there’s joy to it as well, the joy and the difficulty of raising a child who has a developmental disability, who were born with a birth defect. Well guess what folks? If you care about it, why don’t you support stem cell research?”

Biden received a thunderous ovation when he made the remark at a town hall style meeting this morning in Columbia.

When asked for if this could be interpreted this as being about Palin, Biden’s press secretary, David Wade, issued this statement.

“This is a clash of policies not a clash of personalities. We’ve heard not a dime’s worth of difference between the McCain-Palin ticket and the Bush Administration on medical breakthroughs that millions of parents and doctors believe could save lives and transform the quality of life for countless Americans.”

This is an especially moronic attack coming from Biden, considering he’s talking about a woman who gave birth to a child with Down’s Syndrome earlier this year -something she found out about early on in her pregnancy.

Now, Biden, of course, didn’t use the word “embryonic” in his remarks, which is misleading in and of itself because there is a distinct difference in opposing “embryonic stem cell research” and just “stem cell research.” This is another way Democrats try to get people to think that Republicans are living in the dark ages because they supposedly “oppose” all stem cell research. Get your facts right, Joe: It’s embryonic stem cell research. Show a little honesty for once, Senator.

Unfortunately, not only is Biden starting to use this issue in an attempt to divide the electorate and make Republicans look like stone agers on the issue, but it’s happening on a local level as well. Right here in North Carolina in the battle for the Governor’s seat, Lt. Governor Bev Perdue (D) is running a despicable ad against her Republican opponent, Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory, by painting him as “extreme” on the issue of embryonic stem cell research – simply because he opposes it. How did she do it? By using a wheelchair-bound primary lateral sclerosis sufferer who can no longer speak without the help of a special device (emphasis added by me):

In the ads, Sarah Witt of Raleigh says that she hopes stem cell research will help her recover from paralysis. In one version, she says that the Democratic gubernatorial candidate’s support of research gives her hope. In a second version, she criticizes McCrory’s stance.

“When I hear politicians like Pat McCrory say he wants to ban embryonic stem cell research, I ask myself, how can he be against hope?”

Witt is a magazine reporter and avid marathon runner who developed primary lateral sclerosis in 2004, a disease similar to Lou Gehrig’s disease. She helped start the Magnificent Mile, a one-mile race in support of research into a cure.

The ad ends with text that says “Pat McCrory: More extreme than you think.”

View the ad here.

This is outrageous. Not only do you have Democrats again framing the debate again in misleading terms (like Biden did) but then you’ve got other Democrats like Perdue, falsely claiming that Republicans who oppose embryonic stem cell research are against cures, against “hope.” They do this in spite of the fact that there is no evidence whatsoever that embryonic stem cell research can cure anything, and in spite of the fact that there have been countless breakthroughs in the last couple of years with respect to stem cell research that have nothing at all to do with cloning embryos (see here, here, here, here, here, and here for more).

Reasonable people should be able to disagree on this issue without framing it in such a way as to make it appear that their opponents are “against” helping the sick. But, true to form, the Democrats once again have made the hot button issue of embryonic stem cell research a partisan wedge issue by openly accusing their Republican opposition as being out of touch and “against” a research method that they believe has the potential to “cure” the sick – even when no evidence exists to back up their assertions. How many times over the years have we heard this theme on any number of issues? Republicans hate the elderly, are ok with leaving those suffering with AIDS to die on a street corner, want kids to starve, etc. It never ends.

Are you a North Carolina citizen disgusted with Lt. Gov. Perdue’s disgraceful ad labelling Pat McCrory as being an “extremist” who is “against hope” simply because he disagrees with her on the embryonic stem cell research issue? Contact her campaign today (and/or her state office) and let her know what you think.

What’s the difference between principled embryonic stem cell research opponents like Gov. Sarah Palin and Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory versus pro-embryonic stem cell research demagogues like NC’s Lt. Gov. Bev Perdue and Senator Joe Biden? No, it’ s not lipstick. It’s called class.

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