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President Obama, Stem Cells, Science, and Ideology

We all sympathized with our President the other night during his press conference when that mean man from the Washington Times asked him about the morality of stem cell research adn he described the agony of the decision he was compelled to make.

Of course, I don’t mean that we sympathized with his agony, which, I’m sure, he got over pretty quickly when the accolades from his sycophants and users started pouring in (or even when the certainty that they would entered his soul).

No, it wasn’t that false sympathy we felt for him, but the much deeper sympathy one feels for another when that other is trapped in a moral position from which he cannot escape so he uses it to his advantage. The escape, of course, is always available, but it involves what Socrates called “metanoia,” turning around, repentance.

Yet President Obama, for all his brilliance, was led into this trap by a very simple ploy. He went to school where his teachers reinforced the inclinations toward self-indulgence that his culture sees as a super-high value by performing a metaphysical lobotomy.

Let me explain, because this is not meant to be a slam on President Obama for whom I feel great respect and even more pity. He used the right term to describe his position: it’s “above my pay grade.” And he demonstrated that very clearly on Tuesday night.

The issue was whether embryo’s that would otherwise be disposed of should be used for stem cell research. President Bush disallowed it by executive order and now President Obama has allowed it by the same executive order.

The contention seems to be, based on what he said, that this should be permitted because the stem cells are just going to be disposed of anyway, so why not use them to find cures for Parkinson’s and other diseases. Now, if science were to find a better answer to this issue, that would change the discussion, but he can’t make this decision based on ideology.

I have no great problem with the formal logic of his argument.

I have serious problems with the material logic of his argument. In other words, his categories are altogether inadequate to the task he has given them.

And what are the categories he used to make this decision, or at least that he used to defend it before the nation he leads?

Science and ideology.

I’ll have a great deal more to say about this in future posts, but I have to run right now. Between now and then, think about the categories he’s using. Do you think they’re adequate? Do you know what he means by them? Has he framed the argument in a manner that corresponds to reality? (remember that the primary function of a politician in our democracy is to frame the argument)

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