'People I Am Officially Pissed Off At' Dept.
I found out about this a week or two ago, but I was just reminded of it (in a tangential, free-association kind of way...don't ask) a few minutes ago.
Damn Mary Landrieu for luring me in with her strong rhetoric and good (for an elected official) looks.
Why is she teaming up with Sam Brownback (who, as a Republican from Kansas, is by definition Wrong About Everything) to ban therapeutic cloning? Human cloning, I can understand. We should absolutely ban human cloning.
But you don't lump it in with therapeutic cloning and ban the whole damn thing!
I've been afraid of a wrong-headed ban on all cloning ever since that lunatic Dr. Seed announced his plans to clone a human a few years back, and now the pretty blonde Senator from Louisiana is coming to ruin our lives.
I'm not going to get into the difference between human cloning and therapeutic cloning, except to say that human cloning is for making Xerox people, and therapeutic cloning is for curing diseases. Heidi Pauken wrote a fantastic article on this last week for The American Prospect. Go read it.
Basically, with regards to cloning, there are currently two camps in the Senate: The Midwestern Republicans-and-Landrieu faction, which submitted the 'Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2003' on 1/29/03, and the Hatch-Feinstein-Kennedy faction, which submitted the 'Human Cloning Ban and Stem Cell Research Protection Act of 2003' on 2/5/03. The former would ban all cloning, period, while the later would ban human cloning while allowing therapeutic cloning research to continue. Both of these bills are currently in committee.
The way I see it, there are four possible reasons why Sen. Landrieu is providing Democratic cover fire for Sen. Brownback on this issue:
1. She is secretly evil and thinks that God does not want us to cure Alzheimer's - Basically adopting the Religious Right's position (not in those exact words, but essentially), she is of the opinion that no matter what the potential benefit, everything having anything to do with eggs and sperm is bad except for straight up missionary-style breeding. I tend to doubt this one, as she is technically for stem-cell research (although she's pretty lukewarm even there, given that "she fully supports President Bush's decision to allow the federal government to participate in research that uses existing embryonic stem cell lines" without bashing him over the head with the fact that his "allowing" continuing research is basically a lie, as the restrictions he placed on such research have essentially halted it). However, I include it because there is a chance she is doing it to appease her notoriously religious constituency, which in this case is just as bad as believing it herself.
2. She got suckered into it - She does not (or did not) understand the distinction between the two forms of cloning, and her staff was not astute enough to clue her in.
3. She doesn't really care about cloning one way or another, and so supported the bill that would give her the publicity of being the only Democratic Sponsor - Just as evil as #1, but for different reasons. As the only Democrat whose name is on the bill, she is one of the first people the media will talk to if it moves out of committee, and the farther it gets, the more exposure she will receive. This theory has the added benefit of dovetailing with the rumors that she is considering one day running for President (in 2008, possibly), as this kind of coverage would help her with the first hurdle any Presidential candidate faces: name recognition. You'd have to be pretty cynical to believe this one, but then, you'd have to be pretty cynical to believe that an incumbant Senator would switch from French kissing the administration to whipping it with a sugarcane lash when the Louisiana runoff system allowed her a second chance to win an election in which the former strategy did not work well enough.
4. She is signing on to a Republican bill for favors to be named later- Banning all human cloning would go over really big in the Bible Belt states that the rest of the Sponsors are from, and so they would most likely have been willing to offer quite a bit in return for making it a more generally palatable "bipartisan" bill. This is not completely unreasonable, but I am hard pressed to come up with something that would be worth selling out on cloning. Yes, the medical potential of this stuff is that big. But perhaps Mary doesn't see it that way. Keep a very close eye on how much pork makes its way to Louisiana in the next year or so.
It's anyone's guess as to which one is the case. Regardless, I have just one thing to say: Mary, baby, come back to me. I'll treat you right, I swear. Don't do this. We can still be happy, baby. We'll forget all about this. Just come back to me, baby.
Just come back to me.