The moderate revolution

The moderate revolution

: I know it’s too much to hope for, but how I do hope that we have the stirrings of a moderate revolution against the fringers.

The end of the filibuster standoff is a start. We know it worked because it pissed off people on both sides.

Next comes an effort to find a middle ground on stem cell research — following the quite moderate opinions of Americans.

The majority of Americans, according to this poll, favor choice in abortions but compromise is rising there as the Democrats talk about parental notice, as the Supreme Court considers its first abortion case, and as John Podhoretz says that all a Republican has to do to win is to act prolife, even if insincerely. The real importance of Podhoretz’s column is that a moderate Republican could win the nomination with just a little tapdancing.

I do believe that Congress jumped the shark. We see how pissed off Americans are at Congress.

There is a real opportunity for the middle to take the lead. I believe a moderate candidate who could make it through the primaries would win the White House. The only question is who.

  • jj

    That’s what this country needs, a good moderate, whether he be democrat or republican. Enough of these left and right wing liberals and conservatives.

  • Jeff, you see the debate over federal funding for human embryonic stem cell (hESC) research as a means of gauging the public’s wish for a “moderate candidate.” While the polling numbers show an increase in support of hESC research, even on a bipartisan basis, it’s important to discuss the details not generally known to the public. (What about a poll of all medical researchers, whose work we expect and depend upon to provide further progress in health care?)
    There’s an op-ed piece in today’s WSJ by an endocrinologist who blasts the conservatives for accepting the “junk science” of believing that adult stem cell research makes hESC research unnecessary. Bone marrow transplant proves that harvested blood stem cells either from adults or cord blood continues to be a viable treatment for leukemia and other blood dyscrasias. But, will it be possible to find adult stem cells resident in the pancreas for use as a possible treatment for type 1 diabetes?
    The hESC derived from a blastocyst is totipotent, meaning that it can generate all cell lines and resulting tissue types. Which can also cause problems, since such cells may cause a type of tumor called a teratoma instead of producing the desired differentiated, organ-specific cell type. Therefore, animal testing is necessary which means running the risk of producing a chimera, or an organism with a mix of human and animal genes. (Some would even say that the common use of pig tissue to replace human heart valves produces a chimera, but this alteration can’t be passed along to the offspring.)
    Ethical guidelines are required, and are used by the countries (England, Japan et al.) attempting advanced techniques such as therapeutic cloning, So. Korea’s recent accomplishment.
    Currently, there is no federal regulation of hESC research in the US. Last month, the National Academy of Sciences proposed a set of guidelines to ensure careful oversight of ethical concerns including research using chimeras.
    In case your readers are interested, I’ll be posting a variety of topics revolving around hESC research on my blog

  • Nothing was accomplished. The democrats still say they can filibuster and the republicans still say they can use the [whatever] option to get rid of it.
    Frankly I don’t want either side to have the judicial filibuster.
    Trust me it is not over, just delayed.

  • Mr. Jarvis is a praiseworthy rarity: a true moderate in a medium that rewards extremism. But I fear this post is too optimistic. One obstacle to any “moderate revolution” is the prevalent tendency to label all opponents as “extremists” — rhetoric we now hear continually from major party leaders.
    I think there is more promise for a moderate revolution, not in government but in media. More here.

  • Bill K.: intelligent observation, but I fear reason is out of place in much legislative discussion. I listened to debate on stem cell research yesterday in Congress via C-Span, and no admission of the existing system -whereby ‘living’ cells are routinely disposed of if they are not used in scientific research -occurred on the part of those espousing the pro-life tapdance (thanks for the term, JJ). No restriction on the creation of embryos has been mounted, the protest totally is directed toward any use of the embryos rather than destruction.
    Yes, Jeff, it does seem rational behavior has broken out. Hopefully the extremes will not succeed in drowning it out. Unfortunately, experience to date seems to indicate all attention will go to the colorful, which is usually the extremes – until they seriously damage the rational operation of our institutions. And we can’t avoid recognizing that fundraising is the basic function of much of our political realm, which succeeds by attracting extreme elements to support it financially.
    If majority rule is, by the way, the justification for hamhanded politics, then why did this administration in its previous term (when it did not have a majority vote) cast aside any consideration of opposing viewpoints?? They won.

  • Carrick

    Jeff say: The majority of Americans, according to this poll, favor choice in abortions
    The questions (as summarized at least) on the Gallop Poll were more revealing… So we could also make the contra statement: the majority (75%) also favor some type of regulation (for 20% this means a total ban).
    In fact, the best way to summarize the data is “more than half of Americans favor legalized abortion, but also favor legal controls on when abortions can be performed”. Thus this group can
    -0 outvote the other two blocs combined.
    Ruth asks: why did this administration in its previous term (when it did not have a majority vote) cast aside any consideration of opposing viewpoints??
    I guess it’s called a position of principle. Clinton is about the only president I know who consistently made moral choices based on popular consent. Part of being a leader is knowing when it is necessary to ignore the majority, which is to say lead. This is a different thing than saying I like the moral decisions he makes. I’m just saying don’t get all huffy because a leader has some backbone.

  • “No restriction on the creation of embryos has been mounted, the protest totally is directed toward any use of the embryos rather than destruction.”
    The arguments on both sides are overly simplistic. It’s simply not true that a stem cell therapy for Alzheimer disease is to be expected some time soon. For neurologic diseases, promising pre-clinical studies show good results in treating acute spinal cord injuries in animal models using hESC-derived cell lines. (One day, your local ER will keep a packet of these cells in frozen storage, to treat such injuries.)
    For chronic conditions including also Parkison disease and Multiple Sclerosis, hESC research will help the basic research in finding out about the natural history of these diseases.
    Mainstream media won’t go into any depth on this subject, except maybe for NPR. Ira Flatow has a wonderful show called ScienceFriday and he recently interviewed the researcher who did the spinal injury study I mentioned. BTW, he’s podcasting now.

  • CL

    I don’t think Congress can “jump the shark” – who ever thought Congress was good to begin with?

  • Bill K.:
    Thanks for the reference.
    A friend of mine who happens to be a doctor, and there’s nothing the matter with that, informs me that with existing science it would be possible to produce a rather impressive set of chosen characteristics. So it would seem selecting certain characteristics would give a predestination against certain diseases, if it were used. am I wrong?

  • Ruth:
    That is very ambitious, but some day it will come to that. Plus, there may be a dozen different pathways that would result in the same disease making this difficult.

  • Of course, Jeff, you’ll help the right pile on the next moderate the Dems nominate because – it seems you still don’t get this – nobody we nominate will ever be moderate enough (not even President Clinton, the most moderate president we’ve had in the last 50 years or so).

  • Jason

    Would it were that the moderates prevailed in this latest fight. In reality, however, this latest action was a premier example of power politics played perfectly by the majority. Rogers Brown, Owen and Pryor are not even close to moderates. Under the filibuster tradition, Bush would have had to move toward the center, and away from these candidates, to fill the vacancies. That they will now pass is the result of brinksmanship played well. Democrats had no choice but to compromise to protect the filibuster should O’Connor ever leave the bench.
    While it seems to the general press that Frist loses on this, he is really telling the far right sotto voce that he bulldozed these three through, and he’s still in position to do it again.
    Hardball at its best and worst.

  • kevinP

    The agreement will collapse this year.Even the moderate 14 are giving different definitions on what the agreement says. graham seems to be saying that he will go back to the nuclear option on the first fillibuster. Warner says it will kick in on “serial fillibustering” whatever that means. 1,2,or 3? DeWine says it is an option. The agreement says that that the option will not be attempred this congress.The unstated but rumored agreement says that meyer and Saad are toast but I can’t see the Dems letting the other 3 in without fillibustering. The Senate Leaders are singing a different tune also, Frist declares the option is available, Reid says the Fillibuster is over for “our lifetimes”.The battle has just been postponed.DeWine and Graham won’t be able to withstand the pressure if the Dems go beyond Saad and Meyer. Reid won’t stand for all the rest of Bush’s nominees to sail thru.McCain is going to have just as hard of a job holding his 6 republicans together as Frist had controlling McCain.McCains coalition will fall apart.DeWine is up for election in ’06 and he won’t sacrifice himself for McCains presidential run.Look at how Graham sounded at the initial press conference and then after 2 days of getting holy hell from his voters.If the Dems go after anyone other then Saad and Meyer Graham will be leading the charge to go nuclear.

  • owl

    Kevin..Graham might should start early leading his charge from what I read coming from his state. They say DeWine’s son gets the target before DeWine.
    What’s funny is that Jeff’s moderate Leader does not give a darn, since he has pegged all of us that oppose him as “extremists”. Jeff, the “extremists” are the ones that decided to trash every nominee, judge, action, etc if it stood still long enough. It was extreme to stall every single everything and then think the minority should finish it off with filibusters. I do not understand you thinking this is moderate. What exactly is moderate about the trashing of every single nominee that has been sent up for any office?
    Yep, I am one of those pissed Americans. A moderate? Depends on the glass you are looking through. I happen to not be very religious and pro choice but boy, am I ever a pissed American. The 7 dwarfs lead by the McCain Mutiny is not moderate…’s just stupid. I don’t know who that moderate candidate is that you are looking for, but I can tell you who it will NOT be…..McCain. Of course, a Ross Perot movement is the only thing that could nominate him unless he decides to second fiddle on a Democrat ticket. And not because the Repubs do not tolerate moderates and different opinions, they just will tolerate the ego of that media darling.
    Moderation is in the eye of the beholder. It is always a nice try to paint one side as slobbering, chest beating religious fanatics. Won’t fly.

  • Darrick:
    Late getting back to you, but you said:
    “Part of being a leader is knowing when it is necessary to ignore the majority, which is to say lead.” I thought about passing on that, but just want to postulate the thought for you that paying media to cover you in a positive light is not the kind of ‘lead’ing we really need. You critiqued Clinton for paying attention to polls in determining his policies, and I think that is ‘way preferable to trying to influence views by use of public funds.
    In the judge appointments, no one is pretending the appointments the Senate couldn’t stomach were not directed to appeasing the religious right wing, now being led on by charges against an imaginary terrorist judiciary.
    Both are determining policies by public reaction, but I think looking to find out public leanings rather than re-make them, at public expense, is a better course.
    Of course, I also prefer a prosperous economy to a bankrupt one, and why it’s ‘principled’ to run up debts our great-grands will have to repay somehow, ruining our world image in the bargain, somehow that’s not my view of ‘principled’, it’s ruinous.

  • This is a great graphic showing how Congressional representatives voted on the stem cell bill, state-by-state:
    It looks like the Red versus Blue battle may be shifting.

  • Brett

    Moderate? You mean the position that no one is right or wrong, so we can combine two contradictory positions into something correct?
    Hegel, Marx. Their systems didn’t work, either.

  • JT

    I’m so sick of hearing about moderates. Sometimes you need to have the balls to stand up and say wrong is wrong, and this handful of judges Bush was trying to push on the nation was wrong. They are all a far cry from the “moderate” Jeff writes so lovingly about. Opposing these judges was the correct thing to do, even if it meant filibustering. The filibuster is a time-honored tradition used by both political parties and the Dems were correct to fight against its removal; in fact, it is the one best tool either party has to foster moderation. As for stem cell research, GOP hypocrites are already threatening to filibuster in the Senate.