Senator Talent's Bonehead Move
Missouri Senator Jim Talent has removed his name off of the Brownback/Landrieu Bill that would outlaw all human cloning. Does that mean he supports cloning for biomedical research? No. He still opposes all human cloning. He wants to promote Altered Nuclear Transfer, he says. Which is fine. ANT is worth researching in animals and pondering as an alternative means for deriving pluripotent stem cells. But there was no need to remove his name from Brownback to do that.
What is really going on, in my view, is politics. He is under pressure from the Stowers Institute (a VERY rich medical research center that is seeking to dominate Missouri politics on the issues of biotechnology). The Missouri media is totally in the tank for an initiative being promoted by Stowers-connected money that would legalize human cloning. His likely Democrat opponent is pushing her support for the initiative. Talent has yet to take a stand on the issue, which may make some sense since it isn't yet on the ballot.
Still, the move was a huge political mistake. It risks alienating his base, the politically potent Missouri pro life movement, which has worked hard in MO to ban all human cloning. And, it won't make him any friends among the Stowers crowd or the biased media. All it did was confuse where he stands on human cloning.
I suggest to Senator Talent that he quickly clarify his continuing unequivocal opposition to all human cloning. Otherwise, he risks losing votes among cloning opponents without any gain from the other side.
Also, read this take on it by NRO's Ramesh Ponnuru, who interviewed Talent. I think Ramesh has it right.