The majority of the media has been preoccupied with Rush Limbaugh’s comments about Michael J. Fox’s condition in his recent advertisements for the Missouri and Maryland Senate races, and I, too, agree Limbaugh could have chosen his words better (and eliminated the gestures completely). Though not popular, I do believe it is entirely possible that Fox may have adjusted his medication for effect, as he freely admits in his book, “Lucky Man”. Perhaps I would do the same thing and for the same reason: because “the occasion demanded my testimony about the effects of the disease, and the urgency we as a community were feeling, be seen as well as heard”. But my occasion would not be promoting embryonic stem cell research.
Perusing the blogs, I have found such an emotional response to the Fox ad – and to any comment that even remotely hints that he may have tinkered with his medication. People are so willing to side with their sentiment and lay their sensibilities aside… and that’s just what the ad is meant to do. Make you think? Oh, no! Make you investigate the claims of a victim of Parkinson’s Disease? Heavens, no! Make the citizens of Missouri look up the wording of an amendment to be voted into their constitution? Gee, I sure hope they don’t… :-/
Whether Michael J. Fox took the correct dose of his medication or not is only relevant when you realize his appearance separated viewers from their judgment by playing on their emotions. While my heart goes out to this man and his struggle, we need to vote with our heads, not our hearts. My head tells me that some of the claims he made in the ad are not accurate, but may have been lost on the audience when the appeal was made to their sentimentality. This is why a counter-ad was created soon after the Fox ad was aired:
For those who can’t hear the first line, or can’t understand it: It’s Jim Caviezel, the actor from The Passion of the Christ speaking Aramaic. He says, “Le-bar nash be-neshak,” which translates to mean, “You betray the Son of Man with a kiss,” or “You betray me with a kiss”. The message he is conveying is that Amendment 2 promises one thing, but delivers another.
Aside from the facts Fox left out, in the Maryland ad, he plainly states, “Stem cell research offers hope to millions of Americans with diseases like Diabetes, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. But George Bush and Michael Steele would put limits on the most promising stem cell research.” There is no evidence that embryonic stem cell research is the most promising. In fact, adult stem cells have proven more promising, with 72 therapies showing human benefits as opposed to embryonic stem cells showing zero. Recent research also suggests brain tumors may result. Of course, adult stem cells do not require the cloning or killing of human embryos, but only 50% or so of the country cares deeply about that issue.
Politics is increasingly about betrayal and the sting always painful. We factor it in as part of the process and become a little more cynical, I suppose. But I, for one, do not welcome this level of cynicism… I find it hurts even more when betrayed with a kiss.