24 Oct 2006

How Democrats Do Campaign Ads

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The actor Michael J. Fox was born in Canada.

In the middle of a successful career, he had the terrible misfortune to be struck down in 1991, at age 30, with Parkinson’s disease. He retired from a television series in 2000 because of the progress of his disease, but has since produced a television pilot and made guest appearances on programs.

He recently made this video advertisement for the democrat Senatorial candidate from Missouri Claire McCaskill.


In this video, Michael J. Fox is visibly trembling, and he appeals for voter support for McCaskill, who he says “shares (his) hope for cures” through stem cell research. Fox charges that incumbent Republican Senator Jim Talent “opposes expanding stem cell research… (and) wanted to criminalize the science that gives us a chance for hope.”

This charge is, of course, a tremendous oversimplification of a complex issue.

CBC story

Rush Limbaugh reported yesterday:

I have gotten a plethora of e-mails from people saying Michael J. Fox has admitted in interviews that he goes off his medication for Parkinson’s disease when he appears before Congress or other groups as a means of illustrating the ravages of the disease. So lest there be any misunderstanding, we talked about a half hour ago of the commercial that’s running for Claire McCaskill featuring Michael J. Fox on what appears to be when he’s off his meds. I have never seen him this way and I stated when I was commenting to you about it that he was either off his medication or acting. He is an actor after all, and started hearing from people, “Oh, no, I’ve seen him on TV this way, this is how the disease has affected him when he’s not on his medications.” Then the e-mails started coming in saying he’s admitted not to taking them in certain circumstances so as to illustrate how the disease affects people. All of which I understand, and I’m not even critical of that. Parkinson’s disease is hideous.

Let me just stress once again in what I said in closing this out, that I think this is exploitative in a way that’s unbecoming either Claire McCaskill or Michael J. Fox, because in this commercial for Claire McCaskill he’s using his illness in a way to mislead voters that there’s a cure for Parkinson’s disease if only Claire McCaskill gets elected, if only Jim Talent is defeated…

Mr. Fox was allowing his illness to be used as a tactic to trying to secure the election of a Democrat senator who is going to somehow, her election is going to lead to the cure for Parkinson disease via stem cell research because her opponent, Jim Talent, opposes it, which is not true.

Michael J. Fox appears also in essentially the same video on behalf of the democrat Senatorial candidate in Maryland Ben Cardin.


Washington Post story

I couldn’t find on the web the interviews Rush Limbaugh referred to, but I have seen Michael J. Fox appearing recently sans tremors on the television show Boston Legal, and I’m inclined to believe that what Rush Limbaugh’s email correspondents are telling him is correct.

The use of stem cell research as a campaign tactic in the way democrats use it is objectionable, because the issue is always presented in seriously misleading ways.

Avoiding federal subsidies for stem cell research is an example of government neutrality in matters of faith and morals, which liberals ought to applaud. In cases where substantial numbers of Americans differ on the basis of religious conscience, government funding should not be the preferred approach. It is perfectly possible to fund stem cell research privately, and other forms of stem cells besides embryonic can be used in research.

The great promise democrats find in this particular area of research seems to be completely related to Republican opposition to funding it federally. There is no real reason to suppose that any unique opportunity lies in this direction. If it did, doubtless private foundations and private companies would be devoting very adequate resources to it.

Everyone feels sorry for Michael J. Fox’s bad luck in life, but his deliberate and calculated efforts to exploit the sympathy of others, while cynically misstating the issues, represents a low approach to politics, demeaning to the voters and to the process.


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