October 15, 2004

"A Very Good Life It Can Be"

The other day, when I posted the pandering of John Edwards to those are desperately hoping for a cure for debilitating diseases, and who may have bought into the Kerry campaign's deceptions about a "ban" on stem-cell research by the Bush administration, I wondered if we'd hear from Charles Krauthammer on the matter.

Krauthammer, a paraplegic for virtually all his adult life owing to an auto accident, didn't disappoint.

In my 25 years in Washington, I have never seen a more loathsome display of demagoguery. Hope is good. False hope is bad. Deliberately, for personal gain, raising false hope in the catastrophically afflicted is despicable.

Where does one begin to deconstruct this outrage?

First, the inability of the human spinal cord to regenerate is one of the great mysteries of biology. The answer is not remotely around the corner. It could take a generation to unravel. To imply, as Edwards did, that it is imminent if only you elect the right politicians is scandalous...

...For 30 years I have heard promises of miracle cures for paralysis (including my own, suffered as a medical student). The last fad, fetal tissue transplants, was thought to be a sure thing. Nothing came of it.

As a doctor by training, I've known better than to believe the hype -- and have tried in my own counseling of people with new spinal cord injuries to place the possibility of cure in abeyance. I advise instead to concentrate on making a life (and a very good life it can be) with the hand one is dealt. The greatest enemies of this advice have been the snake-oil salesmen promising a miracle around the corner. I never expected a candidate for vice president to be one of them.

Lowering one's expectations I guess, is the answer.

Posted by dan at October 15, 2004 4:22 PM