Murder, He Retracted (Tony Snow Eats Stem Cell Crow)

| Tue Jul. 25, 2006 4:00 AM EDT

In the "Whoops! What about the midterm!" category, talking/bobble head Tony Snow was made to eat crow yesterday when he said that in fact President Bush did not, as the New York Times put it, "equate embryonic stem cell research with murder…[and] apologized for his earlier assertion that Mr. Bush held that view."

"He would not use that term," Mr. Snow told reporters, adding, "The president has said that he believes that this is the destruction of human life."

Got that? "Destruction of human life"≠"murder." (And it is a good thing, too, considering that, while governor of Texas, Bush signed off on more than 150 executions.)

Moving right along, let's go back to Tony eating crow.

As of last Tuesday, Snow's parsing of the whole what?=murder issue was thus:

"The president believes strongly that for the purpose of research it's inappropriate for the federal government to finance something that many people consider murder. He's one of them. The simple answer is he thinks murder is wrong."

And well…who doesn't? However, things do get a bit complicated when it comes what the American public thinks of donating leftover IVF embryos for the express purpose of ending human suffering. Because, as GOP pollsters would be the first to tell you, a lot of anti-murder, pro-life, and/or just plain folks are all for research that holds out great hope of ending Alzheimer's, diabetes, Parkinson's, etc. Especially when the embryos in question were slated to be "expired" (as the euphemism goes) anyway.

To that end, On Meet the Press, White House chief of staff, Joshua B. (don't call me John. Or Michael!) Bolten, struggled (to borrow a phrase from the NYT) to explain Snow's characterization:

"It's a very complicated, very, very delicate issue," Mr. Bolten said.

By Monday, a chastened Snow apologized for having "created a little trouble for Josh Bolten…I will go ahead and apologize for having overstated, I guess, overstated the president's position."

Transcript of Snow's life-saving-research-using-discarded -embryos=murder statement follows after the jump.

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Q Can you remind us why the President believes that it is not appropriate to use -- that it is more appropriate for stem cells to be thrown away than to be used, in this case, for medical research?

MR. SNOW: The President -- I don't think that's the choice that the President has presented. What the President has said is that he doesn't want human life destroyed. Now, you may consider that insignificant, but the President has said -- and you have had in a number of cases the Snowflake babies, where some of those fetuses have, in fact, been brought to term and have become human beings. The President believes strongly that for the purpose of research it's inappropriate for the federal government to finance something that many people consider murder; he's one of them.

Furthermore, it is worth pointing out that this government did make available already existing lines -- to sort of get back to your question, there were existing lines. And the most recent figures we have are 2004, but 85 percent of all the embryonic stem cell research on Earth was conducted using those lines. There is nothing that makes embryonic stem cell research illegal; it simply says that the federal government will not finance it. As you know, there are ongoing efforts in some states, including, I think, California and Massachusetts, to use state money for it, and I daresay if people think that there's a market for it, they're going to support it handsomely. The simple answer is he thinks murder is wrong, and he has said.

Q The legislation is going to be -- that deals with thousands and thousands of embryos that will be thrown out, destroyed.

MR. SNOW: That is a tragedy, but the President is not going to get on the slippery slope of taking something that is living and making it dead for the purpose of research.

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