That Wacky, Wacky Krauthammer
Posted by Michael Cohen
Because I consider it my life's mission to expose the absurdities of Charles Krauthammer, I offer my latest installment of "That Wacky, Wacky Krauthammer."
In today's edition, Krauthammer penned a piece in the Washington Post that claimed among other things the stem cell debate is over . . . and here's a shocker, the President was correct! Who could have imagined such sycophant-like behavior from Charles Krauthammer?
A decade ago, James A. Thomson was the first to isolate human embryonic stem cells. Last week, he (and Japan's Shinya Yamanaka) announced one of the great scientific breakthroughs since the discovery of DNA: an embryo-free way to produce genetically matched stem cells. Even a scientist who cares not a whit about the morality of embryo destruction will adopt this technique because it is so simple and powerful. The embryonic stem cell debate is over.
Which allows a bit of reflection on the storm that has raged ever since the August 2001 announcement of President Bush's stem cell policy. The verdict is clear: Rarely has a president -- so vilified for a moral stance -- been so thoroughly vindicated.
Now, I'm no expert on stem cell research, but any time Charles Krauthammer makes a definitive statement that indicates George Bush was unequivocally correct about anything . . . well my eyebrow curls upward in suspicion. Apparently my misgivings were well placed. According to Susan L. Solomon of the New York Stem Cell Foundation, old Charley is way off base.
It is not true. It is not even close to true. The new "induced pluripotentiary stem cells" (IPS for short) that scientists have now figured out how to make will be powerful tools for scientists studying the mechanisms of human diseases in their laboratories, and there is no doubt that this is an important scientific event. But these reprogrammed cells cannot be used to treat human patients in the clinic, because they were created using genes and retroviruses that can cause cancer in humans. Moreover, even if other, safe ways of producing these new IPS cells are found, no one yet knows the extent to which these new cells will behave like true human embryonic stem cells. Krauthammer and others who are seeking to justify current federal restrictions on embryonic stem cell research would like to think that IPS cells are exactly the same as embryonic stem cells, but they are not.
Now of course Ms. Solomon has a vested interest in saying that Krauthammer is wrong, but if history has taught us anything . . it is that Charles Krauthammer is usually wrong.