- The Washington Times - Monday, June 14, 2004

‘No’ on stem cells

The White House yesterday rejected calls from Ronald Reagan’s family and others to relax President Bush’s restrictions on stem-cell research in pursuit of cures for illnesses.

Mr. Bush signed an executive order in August 2001 that limited federal help to financing stem-cell research on the 78 embryonic stem-cell lines then in existence. Because day-old embryos are destroyed when stem cells are extracted, the process is opposed by many who link it to abortion.

Shortly before Mr. Reagan’s death, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry and 57 other senators asked Mr. Bush to relax the restrictions. Nancy Reagan long has argued that using stem cells from embryos could lead to cures for a number of diseases, such as the Alzheimer’s that afflicted her husband. Mr. Bush opposes using embryos for stem-cell research.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Mr. Bush continues to believe that his policy is the right one, the Associated Press reports.

“The president came up with a policy that will allow us to explore the promise of stem-cell research, and do so in a way that doesn’t cross a certain moral threshold that he set,” Mr. McClellan said. “And I think he articulated his reasons for arriving at that decision. And that is his position, and that remains his position.”

Mr. McClellan added: “The president doesn’t believe we should be creating life for the sole purpose of destroying life.”

‘Shared priorities’

President Bush and Vatican officials discussed “shared priorities” in recent talks, a spokesman said yesterday while declining to confirm or deny whether Mr. Bush asked them to encourage American Catholic bishops to speak out more against homosexual “marriage.”

The request by Mr. Bush reportedly was made during a June 4 meeting with Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Pope’s secretary of state, the National Catholic Reporter said.

The weekly U.S. publication said Cardinal Sodano did not respond to the request.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan confirmed the meeting took place, calling it “a good private discussion,” Reuters news agency reports.

“They discussed a number of shared priorities,” Mr. McClellan said.

Pressed on whether Mr. Bush asked for help in fighting homosexual “marriage,” Mr. McClellan said: “The positions of the president and the Vatican are well-known on those issues. … I would just leave it at that.”

A Vatican official told the National Catholic Reporter that in his meeting with Cardinal Sodano and other Vatican officials, Mr. Bush said, “Not all the American bishops are with me” on the cultural issues, especially a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

Reagan’s standing

“What was the meaning of the past remarkable nine days?” Peggy Noonan writes at www.OpinionJournal.com.

“You cannot stop the American people from feeling what they feel and showing it. From the crowds at Simi Valley to the hordes at the Capitol to the men and women who stopped and got out of their cars on Highway 101 to salute as Reagan came home — that was America talking to America about who America is,” said Miss Noonan, who was a Reagan speechwriter.

“It was a magnificent teaching moment for the whole country but most of all for the young, who barely remembered Ronald Reagan or didn’t remember him at all. This week they heard who he was. The old ones spoke, on all the networks and in all the newspapers, and by the end of the week it was clear that Ronald Reagan had suddenly entered the Lincoln pantheon. By Friday it was no longer a question, as it had been for years, whether he was one of our top 10 presidents. It was a question only whether he was in the very top five or six — up there with Lincoln and Washington. An agreement had been reached: the 20th century came down to FDR and RWR.”

Vodka from Mikhail

Few who spoke at former President George Bush’s birthday tribute on Saturday night at Houston’s baseball stadium could keep from joking about the 80-year-old’s penchant for skydiving — which he took up at age 72.

“I just have one question: Why does he keep jumping out of perfectly good airplanes?” said his wife, Barbara.

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev remarked: “George will be jumping, and I will be meeting him on the ground with a bunch of flowers.”

At the landing zone Sunday, he gave his former Cold War adversary a bouquet of flowers, but added something special: a bottle of Russian vodka, reports Joseph Curl of The Washington Times.

Comedian Dennis Miller joked that he hoped to be at Mr. Bush’s 11,000th birthday, when he would “no doubt end up watching you jet-pack up to an airplane.”

Lawsuit barred

Former Rep. Bob Barr cannot bring a $30 million defamation suit against former President Bill Clinton, Democratic political adviser James Carville and publisher Larry Flynt, a federal appeals court ruled yesterday.

The Georgia Republican had charged that the three conspired to smear him by publishing information about his private life as retaliation for his outspoken role in the impeachment proceedings against Mr. Clinton.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said Mr. Barr failed to make his conspiracy claim against Mr. Clinton and Mr. Carville within the three years permitted by law, the Associated Press reports.

As to Mr. Flynt, the panel ruled that Mr. Barr’s claim is barred by the First Amendment because he failed to show that the information printed in a one-time issue called the “Flynt Report” was false or was published with knowledge that it was false.

Signs of progress

“Here’s a quick primer on how to track an economic recovery: When the media fret that the U.S. is heading for a decade of stagnation like Japan, that means profits and investment are picking up. When you hear that profits have risen but we’re stuck in a ‘jobless recovery,’ businesses have started hiring. And finally when the cry goes up that American workers can find only low-paying menial jobs, that’s the tip-off that the economy is booming,” the Wall Street Journal says.

“Congratulations, America, the return of ‘McJobs’ rhetoric signifies that an expansion is in full swing,” the newspaper said yesterday in an editorial.

The ratings race

Fox News Channel drew more viewers for the Reagan funerals on Friday than its main cable competitors combined, Matt Drudge reports at www.drudgereport.com.

During the day, 2,037,000 viewers tuned in to Fox, 1,186,000 to CNN, and 577,000 to MSNBC.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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