Bush to Public: Drop Dead

The president’s second veto of embryonic stem cell legislation comes amid widespread public support for this critical scientific research.

President Bush’s second veto earlier this week of legislation that would have expanded federal funding for embryonic stem cell research has, once again, put him in direct opposition to the public will. Public opinion polls time and again find widespread support for easing restrictions and expanding funding for embryonic stem cell research, and the public’s representatives in Congress, with considerable bipartisan cooperation, are attempting to respond to these sentiments. Bush, however, will have none of it, sticking to the dogmatic and unpopular position that such research constitutes the taking of human life.

The public is clearly unimpressed with that argument and indeed is moving in the opposite direction, toward greater support for scientific research in this area. Consider these data from an April 2007 Gallup poll. As the chart shows, 60 percent now say they either want no restrictions on federal support for stem cell research or want the current restrictions eased to allow more research to take place. That figure is up from 53 percent in 2005 and 55 percent in 2004.


The same poll, respondents were asked what they thought about Bush’s probable veto of a bill to expand federal funding for embryonic stem cell research—the veto that actually came to pass this week. The public response was unequivocal: by a very wide 64 percent-to-31 percent majority, the public said Bush should not veto such legislation.


So once again Bush is flagrantly opposing the public will—thwarting scientific research the public supports because his personal religious beliefs play well with what remains of his shrinking political constituency. It really is a shameful episode, one more example of Bush telling the public to—and the phrase has some poignant implications in this instance—drop dead.

For more information on the public opinion on this issue, see:

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Ruy Teixeira

Former Senior Fellow