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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    ‘Rushing’ to judgments

    “”Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot.””

    It seems that Limbaugh is constantly out to prove that the aptly titled book by Al Franken about the talk radio blowhard is an understatement. Never one to err on the side of the reasonable, Limbaugh has come to be known for his inflammatory speech, hypocritical views and wildly successful radio show.

    Limbaugh has outdone himself once again, combining his penchant for indecency with his demagoguery (as well as lack of soul, brain, heart, etc). In his attempt to officially cement his place in hell, he criticized Parkinson’s disease patient Michael J. Fox for “”exaggerating the effects of the disease,”” suggesting that his “”moving all around and shaking”” was “”purely an act,”” adding the debilitated to his long list of groups to attack.

    The comments came in response to an ad for U.S. Senate candidate Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. in which she is endorsed by Fox for her support of stem cell research. In the ad, Fox is visibly shaking due to the effects of Parkinson’s. The Republican incumbent, Jim Talent, is opposed to stem cell research.

    According to the National Institute of Health, research in the application of stem cells has the potential to cure many diseases and conditions, including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s disease, spinal cord injury, stroke, burns, heart disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

    Limbaugh is blinded by his own partisanship, and his attack is solely based on Fox’s support for a Democratic candidate. He claimed that Fox is a celebrity using his disease for the nefarious purpose of getting Democrats elected. But Fox’s support is not based on partisanship. He supported Republican Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania in 2004, not because of his party affiliation, but because of where he stood on the issue of stem cell research.

    Is Fox’s endorsement of candidates who will support research that could possibly provide a cure for his crippling condition an illegitimate goal? In a word, no.

    That is not to say that stem cell research is not a political issue; it’s just not a political issue for Michael J. Fox, for whom it’s a life-or-death issue.

    Ironically, Limbaugh’s personal pugnacity has only given more exposure to the issue of stem cell research, as well as increasing the visibility of McCaskill and her stance on the issue for Missouri voters.

    Unfortunately, the debate over stem cell research is filled with misinformation and assumptions. So what are stem cells and what do they mean politically?

    First, stem cells are like the repair cells of the body, unspecialized cells that can give rise to specialized cells. Second, they are able to multiply over long periods of time, something that more specialized tissue cells cannot do.

    The two types of stem cells, embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells, differ in that embryonic stem cells can transform into all cell types within the body while adult stem cells are limited to growth as the tissue of their origin. Basically, embryonic stem cells are more flexible.

    According to the National Institute of Health, the combination of flexible cells and rapid cell regeneration anywhere in the body is what has scientists so excited about the prospects of embryonic stem cell research to cure the problems of degenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s disease.

    Yet in July, President Bush brought down his first veto in a 5 1/2-year presidency (compared with George H.W. Bush’s 44 vetoed bills in four years) on a bipartisan bill to expand research into what could be one of the most important medical advances in decades.

    Why? Stem cells are not derived from eggs fertilized in a woman’s body. Embryonic stem cells are the product of fertilization clinics and Petri dish scientific work. When embryonic cells go unused, they are disposed of as anything else, thrown away. Why not make use of something that is just being thrown in the trash for the benefit of those suffering?

    Michael J. Fox should be able to advocate for something that affects him so severely. To suggest that partisan politics is behind something so life-altering, as Limbaugh does, is ignorant at best. Specter said in July, in reference to the president’s position, that those who opposed Columbus, locked up Galileo, and rejected anesthesia, electricity vaccines and rail travel, “”in retrospect look foolish, look absolutely ridiculous.””

    Looks like Limbaugh’s getting a head start.

    Shurid Sen is a senior majoring in political science. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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