While some are paralyzed by each new release of economic figures, other events in the non-economic world (i.e., life and death) are going largely unnoticed.
The media are repeatedly shocked over the size of stimulus proposals and projected deficits, even as economists have predicted things will get worse before getting better (at least, economists who don’t appear on CNBC). These “liberal” media are perfectly mirroring today’s conservatives, who are not only shocked that the market hasn’t magically fixed itself, but are incensed that President Obama would want to apply a solution somewhat equal to the scope of the problem.
“… the President’s announcement restoring funding for embryonic stem cell research came and went, as if the lives of the sick aren’t quite as important as the projected federal deficit as a percent of GDP.”
Apparently, everyone was happy when President Bush gave $750 billion to banks who now can’t say what they did with it. But when a Democratic president suggests similar solutions yet with more accountability for the taxpayer (the “preferred shares” banks would receive are more like a loan than a bailout), the right screams “socialism” and the media lap it up.
In all the excitement amidst this tiresome sniping, the President’s announcement on Monday restoring funding for embryonic stem cell research came and went, as if the lives of the sick, present and future, aren’t quite as important as the projected federal deficit as a percent of GDP.
The decision means that scientists at the respected National Institutes of Health — and others who receive federal funding — can get back to work on research that could well relieve the future suffering of millions of people from diabetes, Parkinson’s, and other debilitating diseases.
It marks one promising step towards reversing the unprecedented interference of politics in science which “distinguished” the administration of George W. Bush. Ethics surely has a place in science, but Bush’s pandering to groups which can’t distinguish a blastocyst from a baby did nothing to protect human life and much to prolong human suffering.
There are many more such misguided policies from the Bush era to be reversed. The current president could spend an entire term addressing the effects of the worst of them while battling the media and the G.O.P. just to return things to a semblance of what they were when President Bush took office.
The right may fear the nationalization of banks (not because it might not work but, moreso, because it might); and they may fear equal access to basic health care (better that the poor remain sick than medical care be given away for free). But beyond fixing the economic crisis one way or the other, and meeting some of the worst threats the country may face, there is no desire — let alone ability — to remake the U.S. into some new socialist state. Right now, most Democrats would settle for a government which doesn’t hide from crisis and take shelter in blissful ignorance and willful superstition.
As the media amplify the howls of Republicans who have left the field of governing to yell from the sidelines, President Obama may yet stay focused and work to clean things up, as best he can.
Whether or not anyone is watching.