- The Washington Times - Friday, November 3, 2006

Get it right

In his Monday Commentary column, “Twilight of the best?” Mark Steyn cogently points out that we cannot ask ourselves whether we want the campaign in Iraq or the war on terror because we already have them. He reminds us that the correct question before us is whether we want to win or to lose.

For much of the Cold War, too many on the left — in the mainstream media, in our universities, in the entertainment industry and in the Democratic Party — got the seminal event of the 20th century completely wrong. They saw the United States as the warmonger, aggressor, imperialist and denier of human rights, while they gave the Soviet Bloc a free pass and awarded it moral equivalence.

When the facts were in from the Soviets’ secret files and our own Venona (the U.S. Army’s Signal Intelligence Service, precursor to the National Security Agency), the verdict was rendered: The United States and her allies were the good guys, and the Soviets were the evil thugs.

Now the left is at it again, getting the seminal event of the 21st century completely wrong. While we are in a struggle for the survival of Western civilization, those on the left want us to quit. They pretend that if we walk away, no bad will come our way.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Our country has only one commander in chief at a time, and he deserves our full support in wartime.

COL. FRANKLYN J. SELZER

Air Force (retired)

Fairfax

Michael J. Fox and friends

Maya Angelou once observed, “Oh the holiness of always being the injured party.” The fact that one can find sanctity as well as safety in being a victim explains why Michael J. Fox stars in a television ad running in Missouri and Maryland that accuses the Republican candidates for Senate in each state of voting to make cloning a crime.

In the ad running in Missouri, Mr. Fox, who appears in the grip of a Parkinsonian tremor, endorses the Democratic Senate candidate Claire McCaskill and claims that Sen. Jim Talent “even wanted to criminalize the science that gives us a chance for hope.” The ads on behalf of Maryland Democratic Senate candidate Ben Cardin claim that his opponent, Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, “would put limits on the most promising stem cell research.”

Never mind, as Medical News Daily reports, that Mr. Talent withdrew his cosponsorship of a bill that would ban all forms of human cloning, including cloning of human embryos for research purposes. Mr. Talent has said he is looking for a “common-ground solution” that would ban cloning human embryos for research purposes while increasing funding for research into a technique that could allow scientists to create embryonic stem cells without having to destroy embryos. Doesn’t sound like a criminal act to me.

Similarly, Mr. Steele has said he supports embryonic stem-cell research if accompanied by “some moral compass to guide” it. (Earlier he had compared embryonic stem-cell research to the medical experiments carried out during the Holocaust.)

What’s most interesting about the Fox ads is just how dishonest they are and just how willing the actor is to use the safety of victimhood to indulge in a whopping portion of inconsistency. Indeed, the research program of Mr. Fox’s impressive nonprofit foundation — the single largest private supporter of Parkinson’s research in the country — is more in sync with the views of both Mr. Steele and Mr. Talent than it is with Mr. Fox’s extreme commercial.

The Michael J. Fox Foundation supports both adult and embryonic stem-cell research. New dopamine neurons (to replace those lost to Parkinson’s) can be found in both embryonic and adult stem cells. And some argue that it might be safer in the long run to generate them from adult stem cells since they are less likely to lead to tumor formation.

In fact, most of the funding does not go to stem-cell research but to other scientific opportunities more likely to help more people sooner. Focusing on stem cells to the exclusion of every other scientific opportunity, including those that are closer at hand, would be scientifically irresponsible.

By willfully misconstruing the science, Mr. Fox is playing to a media that he knows is willing to be manipulated by less than forthright scientists who have used fudged and falsified data about cloning success in an effort to obtain funding and silence critics. For instance, South Korean researcher Hang Wook-Su (who fraudulently claimed to have efficiently produced stems cells from human embryos tailored to avoid an immune response) essentially was able to perpetrate his lie in large part because he got a pass from both scientists and the media. Why? Mr. Wook-Su set himself as a critic of the Bush ban on funding embryonic stem-cell research.

Similarly, when stem-cell researcher Robert Lanza reported in a letter published in Nature that he took a single cell from the smallest human embryos (8-10 cells) to a create a full cell line without harming the embryo it was hailed as a breakthrough throughout the media and as a rebuke to the Bush stance. In fact, the embryo did not survive; it was ripped apart to create the cell line. Nature and the media were had because people were less interested in scientific truth than in scoring political points.

It’s OK to be passionate and partisan. And Mr. Fox has every right to campaign for and support candidates he thinks will advance Parkinson’s research. But he is fabricating reality, misstating science and the work of his own foundation for a partisan purpose. Worse, he is smearing the reputation of public officials who have sought to overcome a bitter divide on an issue of critical importance to millions of Americans who wish to keep politics out of science, so that their hopes can remain at the center of its pursuits.

To do so is just as wrong as telling people that there is a breakthrough when there isn’t. Neither will bring us closer to a day when Parkinson’s can be controlled or cured. In fact, because both lead to mistrust and cynicism, it will only make that dream harder to achieve.

ROBERT GOLDBERG

Vice president

Strategic initiatives

Center for Medicine in the

Public Interest

New York

A war veteran is a war veteran

Were Gens. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Omar N. Bradley and Henry H. “Hap” Arnold, who led our armies and Air Force to victory in Europe in World War II, veterans of World War I? Not according to Rep. Alan Mollohan (“Reverse Swiftboating,” Op-Ed, Thursday) because they served stateside in the armed services in World War I. The professional Army disagreed with Mr. Mollohan.

Recognizing then-Capt. Eisenhower’s talents as a troop trainer, the Army denied his repeated requests to be sent to Europe, kept him stateside as a troop trainer and rewarded him at the end of the war by making him the highest-ranking officer of his West Point class. Of course, Gens. Eisenhower, Bradley and Arnold were appointed to lead our Army and Air Force in World War II despite the fact that they were veterans of World War I who had not served overseas.

World War I President Wilson stated it best: Rejecting future President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s request to leave his post as assistant secretary of the Navy to serve in uniform as a destroyer commander in the Navy, he said: “Tell the lad in wartime, one does not serve where one chooses but where one can serve best.”

Everyone who serves in the armed services in wartime, in uniform or out, abroad or at home, is a legitimate veteran of that war. Were Americans more familiar with their history, Mr. Mollohan would be laughed out of office.

SEYMOUR KLEIMAN

Baltimore

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