Abe, what is so remarkable about the statement — other than the reversal of another campaign pledge and another knife in the back to his base — is President-elect Obama’s newfound appreciation for the importance of the legislative branch in resolving nettlesome culture and social issues. He opines:
Well, if we can do something legislative then I usually prefer a legislative process because those are the people’s representatives. And I think that on embryonic stem cell research, the fact that you have a bipartisan support around that issue, the fact that you have Republicans like Orrin Hatch who are fierce opponents of abortion and yet recognize that there is a moral and ethical mechanism to ensure that people with Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s can actually find potentially some hope out there, you know, I think that sends a powerful message.
So we’re still examining what things we’ll do through executive order. But I like the idea of the American people’s representatives expressing their views on an issue like this.
What an eloquent defense of the democratic process — one that might be applied to abortion, marriage, gay rights and lots of other issue that liberals have heretofore bundled off to the courts in favor of “better” outcomes. Wouldn’t that defense of democratic solutions apply equally to all of those topics? Hmmm. I suspect the heartfelt appreciation for democracy will be a bit more selectively applied.
This is politics dressed up as principle. It likely is a tactical effort to put his party in a better political light and force Republicans into tougher votes. But given the advances in stem cell research and the new avenues for non-embryonic stem cell research, I’m not sure the politics plays out as well as it used to for the Democrats.
But come to think of it, he’s an elected official too, so it is not as if it would be undemocratic for him to decide. Is this issue just too hard for him — above his pay grade, if you will? Let’s be positive: legislative decisions generally do resolve hard issues through compromise and debate. That’s a change in approach we can believe in.