Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Personhood Theory is the Real Issue in Schiavo

The Terri Schiavo debacle did not arise in a vacuum. For years, the bioethics movement has strived to deprive some people of their moral worth, based on not yet developed or impaired cognitive capacities. The danger of such thinking is becoming crystal clear, as I demonstrate in this article in National Review Online.

Jesse Jackson on Terri Schiavo

"This [Terri's dehydration] is what happens when law is not tempered with mercy."

Monday, March 28, 2005

John Leo Gets It

John Leo sees how important the Schiavo case is to the future of moral medical practice and our belief as a society in the sanctity and equality of human life.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Why Many People Still Don't Know Basic Schiavo Facts

The Terri Schiavo case has been one of the most media saturated stories in recent times. And yet, many people, apparently, still don't know the basic facts--even news reporters. This was brought home to me strongly today in three different manifestations.

First, I was a guest on Fox and Friends this morning. Fox News sent a car to bring me into San Francisco to do the show. The driver was very friendly and asked me what I was going to be interviewed about. I told him and he said, "Why don't they just let the husband decide?" I replied, "Well, some people think that a man who has lived with another woman for almost ten years and has two children by her, has lost the moral right to make these decisions." The driver was shocked. "He has? Why haven't I heard this before?" I replied that it had been reported in some outlets and far less in others. "Well, that's different," he said. "He should give her to her parents." I doubt he was buttering me up, since there would be no tip involved. But it was clear that the driver thought he knew a lot about the Schiavo story but really knew very little.

Then, when I was at Fox News waiting to do my "talking head" shtick, I watched a live spot from the hospice where Terri is dehydrating to death. Asked why the courts thought Terri would not want to live, the reporter said that several of her FRIENDS had come forward to say she told them she wouldn't want to live in this condition. Of course, that was just plain wrong. NO friends have come forward saying that and at least one has stated Terri would want to live. Those saying Terri would want to die are all very tight with Michael Schiavo, e.g., Michael, Michael's brother, and Michael's sister-in-law. When a news reporter can't even get one of the most basic and important facts about this case right, how can news consumers be expected to know the truth?

Finally, during the afternoon I was at a party. I met a very nice married couple, and as we were chatting they found out I have advocated publicly in support of the Schindlers. Both frowned deeply told me they were worried about the feds getting involved in their end-of-life medical decisions despite their having written advance directives. I assured them the government would not interfere with their decisions and that besides, Terri did not have a written directive. "She didn't???" both husband and wife said, their jaws dropping in unison. And once again, as we discussed the case, their attitudes toward those defending Terri's life softened as they learned the real facts.

What are we to make of this? I think for many people who are not news junkies, stories like the Schiavo case become so much background noise. But, since there is no way to avoid the story, certain impressions sink in. Thus, the media's constant incomplete description of Michael Schiavo as merely "Terri's husband," made the driver think Michael was a loyal and steadfast husband like the driver perceives himself to be. The people I met at the party assumed that because the court found she would not want to live, that she must have had a written advance directive. Of course, none of this excused the news reporter.

The same probably applies to me with regard to the Peterson murder case. I TRIED not to pay attention. I really did. Yet, I know a lot about it because it was a constant presence--or, maybe I just THINK I know a lot about the case.

And this gets me to the importance of creating the first impressions people receive about a public controversy as an essential aspect of successful public persuasion. But this post is long enough already, so we'll deal with that subject one insomnia-ridden night.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

And Now: Jesse Jackson Against Terri's Dehydration

Jesse Jackson has publicly urged that Terri Schiavo be allowed to live. Ralph Nader, Jesse Jackson, unanimous consent of the United States Senate, half the Democratic Caucus in the House of Representatives. Clearly: This isn't a right versus left controversy, this is a matter of casting aside human rights in favor of dehumaninization.

Forgive Them Lord: They Know Not What They Do

This is an awful truth: Barring the unforeseen, Terri Schiavo is going to die. She has now been without food and water for so long that even if she were rehydrated, her organs might be so damaged that she would not regain her health.

How are we to act in the face of such a profound injustice? Many are feeling deep anger, fury, even hate. Some are tempted to act on these feelings. They must not! All of us must resist surrendering to the cancer of recrimination and embrace what Lincoln called the better angels of our nature. Moreover, giving vent to rage would not save Terri and would only reinforce the slanderous beliefs of those who are emotionally invested in seeing Terri's defenders as merely an irrational mob.

The better approach at this awful moment--the RIGHT approach--it seems to me, is to simply be in solidarity with Terri and her family.

For those who are Christian, during this Holy Week, the Lord showed the way. Pray. Pray for Terri at this, the time of her death. Pray for those doing this to Terri, "for they know not what they do." Pray for Terri's family that they find the deep peace that is beyond human understanding.

Torah and the Psalms offer much wisdom as we read of those being persecuted unto death who found wisdom and solace in the face of lethal societal rejection--which is precisely what Terri is experiencing.

Readers who are not sectarian but generally spiritual, I ask you to turn to that Source you perceive as governing life and seek solidarity with your dying sister at the level of the sublime. Contemplate what she is experiencing, be with her in your heart as she moves into whatever comes next.

For those without metaphysical beliefs, perhaps deep reflection and sober analysis are the right responses.

However we empathize with Terri and her family, our actions must always be, as we have the ability, centered in love.

And then, once Terri is gone, let us mourn her passing and always remember her sweet face as we strive unceasingly to create a society where all human life truly matters.

Friday, March 25, 2005

How The Internet Made the Schiavo Case an International Story

There have been other food and fluids cases almost identical to Terri Schiavo's. And these people had higher capacities. For example, Robert Wendland could roll a wheelchair down a hospital corridor and yet, a hospital ethics committee thought it was A-okay to dehydrate him to death. Wendland made news, but nothing like Terri Schiavo did. Why? Think: Internet. I explain.

Personhood Theory: Why Contemporary Mainstream Bioethics is Dangerous

I participated in an on-line debate for Court TV yesterday with Florida bioethicist, Bill Allen. We mostly discussed Terri Schiavo. But we also got deeper into the context in which the Schiavo case is being played out, that is, the idea that some of us are not "persons" based on cognitive impairments. Note, that Dr. Allen agrees with my worry, that personhood theory would not only permit Terri to be dehydrated, but harvested for organs, assuming consent. To say the least, this undermines universal human rights. Here is an excerpt. The entire debate can be found here.


Wesley Smith: Bill, do you think Terri is a person?

Bill Allen: No, I do not. I think having awareness is an essential criterion for personhood. Even minimal awareness would support some criterion of personhood, but I don't think complete absence of awareness does.

Wesley Smith: This is my big problem with modern bioethics thinking. Personhood theory is very dangerous. It says that being human in and of itself is not morally relevant. It means that some of us have lower worth than others of us. Indeed, there is some advocacy in bioethics of being allowed to do organ harvesting from people in PVS. THIS ISN'T HAPPENING, I STRESS. But it shows where personhood theory leads. Frankly, I see it as the end of universal human rights because it means that we are not all intrinsically equal.

Bill Allen: Well, Wesley, if awareness isn't a defining criterion of personhood, then on what grounds or basis do you attribute personhood? What is a person without awareness?

Wesley Smith: I think being human in and of itself should be the relevant criterion. Under personhood theory, not only are people like Terri denigrated as non persons, but so too for some, are newborn infants, who are not self-aware. Peter Singer of Princeton comes to mind. If Terri is not a person, should her organs be procured with consent? And consent from Michael?

Bill Allen:...Yes, I think there should be consent to harvest her organs, just as we allow people to say what they want done with their assets.

Rubber Stamping Terri's Dehydration

When Congress directed the federal courts to take a fresh look at the Schiavo case, it was to be "de novo," that is, to relook at the evidence with a fresh eye. Yet, Judge James D. Whittemore looks to have been more of a rubber stamp.

For example, the federal courts were to determine whether the clear and convincing evidence standard had been applied to determining Terri's desires. Remember, all we have are hearsay statements from Michael, his brother, and his brother's wife. Also, Michael told conflicting stories to different courts. When he wanted $, he told a malpractice jury Terri would live a normal lifespan. When he wanted Terri dead, he said she urged him not to let her live in her present circumstances.

Yet, rather than look at the evidence itself--which is what a de novo review is supposed to do-- Judge Whittemore states, "The state judge applied the heightened clear and convincing evidence standard in determining her intentions, as permitted by Cruzan and in accordance with [statute # omitted]."

UNBELIEVABLE. Judge Greer stated he applied the standard so I find he applied the standard. That is not a de novo review! The sense of profound injustice in Schiavo only continues to grow.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Ralph Nader and Wesley J. Smith Joint Press Release on Terri Schiavo

Ralph Nader and I have issued a joint press release urging that all lawful efforts be made to save Terri Schiavo's life.

Terri Schiavo Receives Less Justice Than Condemned Murderer

I was asked to weigh in on the Schiavo case by an on-line publication called To The Source, which is sent to tens of thousands of pastors around the country. I focused on how Schiavo, like an executed prisoner, is going to die because the state, through the courts, have so decreed. Yet, when new evidence is found, a murderer receives greater access to justice and the benefit of every doubt, unlike this innocent, disabled woman.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

New Blog You Should Check Out

Janie Siess is an attorney extraordinaire who represented the mother and sister of Robert Wendland. She fought a five-year legal battle in California to keep his feeding tube from being taken out--even though he could roll a wheelchair down a hospital corridor. She has started a new blog, in the wake of the Terri Schiavo debacle. She has seen the heart of the beast. Check it out.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Normalizing Infanticide

With the Netherlands openly practicing eugenic infanticide and in the process of preparing to formally legalize the killing of babies born with disabilities or terminal conditions, we find media in our own country looking on the act with utter non judgmentalism, or even approval. Here's my take.

Monday, March 21, 2005

How to Solve the Schiavo Question of Rehabilitation

I have been watching the TV interview programs on Schiavo and note that there is a conflict among the medical experts as to whether Terri can be improved with therapy. Some say yes. Others say no. But this doesn't have to be a case of doctor said/doctor said. There is a simple way to find out for sure: Allow Terri to have one year worth of intensive rehabilitation by a team of the parents' choice. After the year, we can see where she is. That would settle that issue.

Still, even if she can't be improved, there is no reason to force her to die by dehydration. She is a fully human and equal person. We shouldn't treat people that way when we can't be sure that she would want to die by dehydration.

Terri Schiavo Not Out of Woods

The remarkable events of the weekend has heartened me tremendously. Not just because a law was passed that might save Terri Schiavo's life. (Actually, I am not very optimistic about that. This case has become part of a larger power struggle between the judiciary and political branches of government that I fear will culminate at some point down the line in a constitutional crisis. Thus, I think the federal judge may not want to step on state judges' toes.) What I find so beautiful is that the life of one helpless, disabled woman is so important that her future became the intense concern of the entire country and its highest leaders. Whichever way this turns out, I think that testifies to something quite remarkable about the American character.

Brit Bioethics Panel Calls for Reproductive Cloning

Further proof of my assertion that cloning is about far more than embryonic stem cells and will not long remain in the Petri dish comes now from the United Kingdom, in which a Parliamentary bioethics panel has suggested that reproductive cloning be permitted, such license to include the creation of designer babies and sex selection. The panel also opined that it would be perfectly splendid to implant human embryos into animals for research.

As I keep saying, the Science and Bioethics Establishments have become highly radicalized and ideological. They perceive cloned unborn human life as fodder, a mere commodity. Self restraint is not in their dictionary. They force society to place reasonable moral limits on biotechnology, and then without a hint of irony gripe that such actions are "anti science."

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Legitimizing Infanticide

There is a campaign underway to make infanticide seem normal and a legitimate medical procedure. The latest example is this puff piece in the New York Times (registration may be required), non-judgmentally "profiling" a doctor who kills disabled babies in the Netherlands. This follows hard on the heels of the Los Angeles Times publishing a pro-infanticide column by "ethics expert," the notorious Peter Singer of Princeton, and the New England Journal of Medicine publishing an apologia for killing babies written by two Dutch infanticide doctors. I'll try and expound on this disturbing trend sometime next week.

Schiavo an Issue of Human Rights, not "Faith versus Science"

Fox News published this article under a misleading headline, e.g., that the Schiavo case is about "faith versus science." The article itself is fine, as far as it goes, but the headline writer got it all wrong. Schiavo is about the fundamental right to life of a profoundly disabled woman. It is a case where the judicial branch has been obsessive about process and dismissive of simple justice. It also may be a strong indication that the hegemony of the "bioethical consensus" reached among those within the Bioethics Establishment, is (hopefully) coming to an end.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Schiavo Travesty

The pulling of the feeding tube of Terri Schiavo is a travesty and a case of the law's addiction to process over humane justice. But this killing--if it is finished, remember she has twice been here before--is not being done behind closed doors. It is happening in the glare of the media in front of tens of millions of people who hopefully won't forget this heartbreaking experience. And maybe, hopefully, they will begin to pay close attention to what is passing for wisdom in bioethics and biotechnology and begin to "push back" against a foreign utilitarian ideology that, in my view, is being imposed by the elites on the backs of regular folk. To be trite, I hope people are finally going to say, "I'm mad as hell and I am not going to take it anymore."

Has Terri Schiavo Sparked a Counter Revolution?

Too much going on, too fast, to post on Schiavo at this point. Anything I wrote would quickly be obsolete. But I am hopeful that a counter revolution has begun. For years, I have believed that the only way to win these bioethical debates was to yank them out of the ivory tower and place them where they belong in the public square. That may, at last, be happening. I am most encouraged.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Another Defense Against Import of the UN Vote Bites the Dust

Pro cloners are now saying that the UN Vote in the General Assembly is not binding, and hence, is not important. But as Austin Ruse told me, almost ALL UN actions are declarations or non-binding resolutions, including the Beijing Platform for Action, the Cairo Program for Action, Rio Agenda 21, etc. There is no getting around it: The international community is now overwhelmingly on record as opposing "all forms" of human cloning since "they are incompatible with human dignity and the protection of human life."

Why It's So Hard to Kill Terri Schiavo

I have never seen so much energy expended by so many people to make one poor, helpless woman dead. Yet, despite it all, Terri lives! The key question is why? At a time when people who are far less cognitively disabled then Terri are dehydrated to death in all fifty states with nary a peep of protest, why is it so hard to put Terri into her grave?

I think the answer is severalfold. First, the videos posted on the Internet "humanized" Terri. She was no longer seen abstractly as somehow an "other," she was an "us," a sister, a daughter, a friend. Second, killing is best done in the darkness. With the Kleig lights of publicity burning brightly in this case, it became much more difficult for those in power with a conscience to just sit back and watch. Third, people are no longer buying the notion that her death by dehydration, if it comes, will necessarily be painless (as I wrote about some time ago). Finally, the Schiavo case marks a big sea change. People used to be content to just allow the "experts" of bioethics to decide these matters. Now, that is less true.

In the end Terri may live or she may be dehydrated to death. But I think (and hope) that the days of meek obedience to the "bioethical consensus" are over.

The United Nations Opposes "All Forms" of Human CLoning

The vote in the United Nations General Assembly is a strong statement on behalf of maintaining morality in biotechnological research and medical applications. This is my analysis, which was published in the Daily Standard.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

It Ain't Only About Embryonic Stem Cells Anymore

Awhile back, in National Review Online I wrote about a Washington State Senate Bill that would permit human cloning and the farming of cloned fetuses. Chuck Colson picked up the scent in his popular Breakpoint commentary which is read by millions of people. Soon afterwards, I discovered a nearly identical bill had been put in the hopper in Minnesota, which was subsequently duly noted in NRO's blog, The Corner.

Now, the cloning companion bill (HB 1268)has been introduced in the Washington House. There are some minor differences, but as the French say, "plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose." True, the House bill would establish an institute similar to that created in California's Proposition 71 to watch over the research to ensure it remained ethical. But given that the institute's members would only be cloning proponents--no biotech skeptics need apply--such a provision would be more veneer than substance. There are also other additions designed to make it appear that the cloning and embryonic stem cell research would be conducted ethically.

However, at their cores, both the House and Senate bills would permit cloned fetal farming. Like the Senate, the House bill would explicitly permit human cloning. And, like the Senate bill, it would also permit cloned fetal farming by prohibiting the "cloning of a human being," while defining the concept politically (instead of biologically) as implanting the cloned embryo in order to bring about the birth of a cloned baby. Thus, under both bills, if the purpose of cloning and implantation is the gestation of a cloned fetus for use in medical experiments or body part harvesting, no law would be broken.

It is telling that New Jersey has already legalized cloning and gestation through the ninth month. Moreover, NONE of this year's crop of state legislation intended to legalize therapeutic cloning would place outright bans on implanting cloned embryos into real or artificial wombs. Not one.

This can only mean that there is a design and a purpose behind these proposals. The movers and shakers behind these bills want access to cloned fetuses when, technologically, they can be created. In other words, it ain't just about embryonic stem cells anymore.

What a story! Yet, it is goes unreported by the mainstream media. Which raises two crucial questions: Why are journalists ignoring such an important development in the cloning controversy; and, what do the cloners intend to do with their broad cloning and gestating state licenses?

Saturday, March 12, 2005

UN Votes Against All Human Cloning

The General Assembly of the United Nations has voted overwhelmingly against all human cloning. While "The United Nations Declaration on Human Cloning" is not binding, it is an important statement that all human cloning is "incompatible with human dignity and the protection of human life." The Declaration also recognizes the enormous potential cloning has to exploit women. The spinners are already trying to downplay this event, and the media are all but ignoring it. But as I point out in a forthcoming column, this is a very big deal that will have ramifications both domestically and internationally for years to come.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Scripps Howard Refuses to Permit Fumento to Tell the Truth About Adult Stem Cells

Yesterday, I linked an article written by Michael Fumento, which noted that a potential cure for juvenile diabetes using adult stem cells is not being funded by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, even though the technique cured mice with late stage disease.

Fumento wanted to follow up with a "Part 2" commentary. But, it appears that somebody doesn't want this truth widely disseminated. According to Fumento, his syndicate, Scripps Howard refused to publish the article, based on it allegedly being a "diatribe." What? Fumento's tone is utterly reasonable. The facts about which he opines are indisputable. Indeed, SCIENCE DID publish the study demonstrating that adult spleen stem cells completely cured mice with late stage juv. diabetes. Despite this amazing success, the JDRF DID refuse to fund human trials. Finally, the JDRF DID fund Proposition 71, which created a right to therapeutic cloning, to the tune of about $2 million. Yet, even IF that technology EVER becomes an effective treatment for juv. diabetes, it is at least a decade or more away.

This raises an important question: Is the JDRF most interested in finding a cure for juvenile diabetes or in promoting embryonic stem cell research and therapeutic human cloning? Surely, this is a topic worthy of being explored by a knowledgeable pundit. And if so, why the censorship?

"Why the Hell Didn't I Die?"

Assisted suicide is Oregon's shame. The Portland Oregonian's David Reinhard, one of the best observers of assisted suicide in Oregon, points out some of the problems in this excellent column.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Stem Cells Could Treat Juv. Diabetes in Early Trials: No Thanks to the Juv. Diabetes Research Foundation

There may be hope on the way for people with juvenile diabetes, as this piece by Michael Fumento ably describes. And no, it won't be from embryonic stem cells, but from adult stem cells obtained from the spleen.

There is one problem holding back human trials: there is not yet enough money. Lee Iacocca is coming through. But the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation inexplicably has refused to fund this research even though the technique CURED mice with advanced stage juvenile diabetes, a breakthrough so potentially important it was published in Science, one of the most prestigious science journals in the world.

Another Transhumanist Attempt at Proslytizing

This is my book review of the newest entry in transhumanist apologetics, Making Better Humans, published in the Washington Examiner.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Secondhand Smoke Going on Short Hiatus

I will be traveling for the next week or so and will be unable to wax eloquent here. Catch you all on the flip side.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Much Ado About Very Little

The media is in a mini-frenzy because the Field Poll in California reported that support for physician-assisted suicide is running at about 70%. This seems an enormous margin. But legalization usually polls well so long as people are being asked the question in the abstract. However, history shows that when voters are forced to contemplate real policy proposals and the potential reality of assisted suicide becoming legal, support for PAS always plummets like a crowbar thrown off a bridge.

Examples: In 1991, support for an initiative to legalize PAS/euthanasia began with support above 70%. The measure was defeated 54-46% Again, in 1992, Californians supported a legalization initiative above 70%. It too lost by 54-46%. In 1994, support in Oregon was above 70%. The assisted suicide measure won, but by a bare 51-49%. In 1998, Michigan had a legalization initiative that began with a high 60% support. It lost by a whopping 71-29%. Finally, in Maine in 2000, support for legalization again ran above 70%. The measure ended up losing by 51-49%.

So the moral of the story? The more people learn about assisted suicide and euthanasia, the less they like it.

Post Script: As soon as states voters turn down legalization measures, support for assisted suicide usually rises back above 60% as if the election never happened. Go figure.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Another Adult Stem Cell Success in Human Patients

Apparently patients' own adult stem cells are an effective treatment for urinary incontinence. The stem cells taken from the arms of the patients transformed into both skin and muscle cells, helping cure or substantially treat the incontinence.

Reactions to My Article on Million $ Baby

I have been receiving much e-mail both praising and castigating my take on Million $ Baby. I have been told, "It's only a movie," repeatedly. I know that. But movies have the power to mold popular attitudes. That is why so many anti-tobacco activists want Hollywood to stop portraying smoking as cool and glamorous. This message touched me the most and reflects the point I was trying to make in my column:

"Bravo for your perceptive comments on Million-dollar Baby. I am a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the shoulders down by a diving accident 40 years ago when I was 20. I was entering my third year of college at the time. The previous year I had skied on the varsity ski team. After my accident I completed both a baccalaureate and master's degree and since my graduation have been a geography professor in our local community college,teaching full time since 1991. Each semester I have more than a hundred students in my classes. I've traveled extensively throughout the world, to Europe, Africa, South America, Mexico, Canada, and to Hawaii 13 times. I'm married to a beautiful, accomplished woman recently declared by our local newspaper to be the "eighth most influential person" in our city. I am active in our community, sitting on local governmental committees and participating in a local church. I have served as Academic Senate Secretary, vice president and president over a six-year stint as a Senate member. I have a full, satisfying life, with numerous friends and engaging activities. I have decried the implicit message in Clint Eastwood's movie to everyone who will listen. To claim that he had no intent to promote the despicable notion that even severely disabled people cannot live full and satisfying lives is disingenuous at best and blatant falsehood at worst. Euthanasia threatens those in society -- the old, sick, and disabled -- who most need society's protection..."

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Should Machines One Day Be Given the Right to Vote?

Apparently so, according to this statement just in from the World Transhumanist Association:

"In response to the emerging debate over "robot ethics" the Board of Directors of the World Transhumanist Association unanimously adopted this statement on artificial intelligence on March 1, 2005: The WTA supports the development of more capable artificial intelligence for the benefit of humanity. Any AI system that is powerful enough to pose a potential risk must be designed with adequate safeguards. Should future forms of artificial intelligence become sentient, they would be entitled to moral consideration. Nobody should be discriminated against on the basis of their morphology or the substrate of their implementation. Any person brought into existence, whether through "natural" or "artificial" means, has the right to a life worth living. Like biological parents, creators of AI-persons have a responsibility for their progeny's welfare and might in some cases be held accountable for their actions. As the prospect of general machine intelligence draws closer, more thought needs to be devoted to working out the legal, ethical, social, and security implications, e.g. to determine under what conditions artificial intellects or copies of existing persons should be given property rights or voting rights, and whether new public policies will be needed to ameliorate structural unemployment. The development of advanced AI could be the most important event in history, and it should be approached carefully, with clear thinking and serious moral engagement."

People with significant cognitive incapacities, like Terri Schiavo, are denigrated as human non-persons by most transhumanists (and their less radical cousins in bioethics). But man-made contraptions might one day not only be given moral and legal rights, but also the franchise. Indeed, the current big cheese of the World Transhumanist Association, bioethicist James Hughes, writes in Citizen Cyborg that some humans should be considered "sentient property" if they lack sufficient cognitive capacity to granted moral worth as a "person." (Here is my review of Citizen Cyborg.) Such is the future envisioned through the misanthropic lenses of radical transhumanism.

Here's My Take on Million $ Baby

Clint Eastwood missed a great opportunity to show how real champions overcome adversity.