Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Politics as usual

I've encountered two examples of an interesting use of the word "politics" in, well, politics.

Former Colorado state Sen. Ed Perlmutter is running in the Aug. 8 primary to compete for a open US House seat. He's running ads that promote embryonic stem cell research. He supports this research, he says, because "people are more important than politics". What? So we're now allowed to pick a political position and, if anyone opposes us, dismiss them as "politics"? I'm sorry, Mr. Politician, everything you are involved in is "politics". Search your feelings, you know it to be true! There's something wrong with a politician denigrating politics. What's next? CEOs deriding corporations?

And this morning I heard about the confirmation hearings for acting FDA commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach. There's a bit of discussion about how the FDA has been handling the Plan B abortifacient and how/if it'll be sold over the counter without a prescription. There was talk in the Senate about the FDA putting "politics above science". Again, leaving aside the fact that these are politicians talking, I don't know exactly what that's supposed to mean. No one values "politics" over anything! (Except, I thought, politicians, but maybe I'm wrong.)

We get a little closer to a real discussion with the accusation of the FDA acting according to "ideology instead of science". And even closer when Sen. Clinton said that "politicizing" the FDA would mean inserting moral judgments into the process, and that middle-aged men should be concerned because diet drugs could conceivably be outlawed because obesity is "immoral".

So I guess we know what the real problem is. One side of the debate has the moral high ground ("thou shalt not murder") so the other side must resort to name calling and scare tactics. Politics as usual!

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