I suppose I'm happy that Sen. Frist has come out in favor of stem cell research, but I'm not quite ready to jump on the Frist back-patting bandwagon yet, like the NYTimes is:
The Senate majority leader, Bill Frist, deserves credit for moving gingerly toward a more expansive policy on stem cell research.
Because it's pretty obvious to me what's going on, and the Times only hints at it:
Mr. Frist is thus in some danger of alienating a powerful segment of the Republican political base. His stance will also put him at odds with President Bush, who is threatening to veto the measure, but it may enhance his appeal to moderates if he decides to run for president.
It's a look-at-me-here's-my-token-independence-issue move. When critics say that Frist is in the pocket of the president, Frist can say that bucked his own party on the stem cell issue because it's good policy and dammit it's the right thing to do.
But let's give him credit for some smart politics, I guess. Stem cell research is an issue that the left is just going to win one of these days, because the American public is overwhelming for it, as polls have shown pretty consistently. Even republicans are mostly for it. And the people that were opposing stem cell research are going to look like idiots in retrospect.
But this is contemporary American political discourse for you. A guy takes a position that happens to be popular, obvious, and intellectually honest, and for some reason he's singled out for praise. It kind of reminds me how you give your dog a special treat when he learns to take a shit outside instead of on the carpet. Good boy, Bill; that's a good boy.