Which way will Dick Gephardt come down on human cloning when the House takes it up this week? It might depend on the way the wind is blowing.
A recent entrant into the Democratic presidential-candidate ring, Missouri Democrat Dick Gephardt has a history of having it both ways when it comes to cloning. On Thursday, the House of Representatives will debate two bans on human cloning — one half baked, the other comprehensive; perhaps Gephardt might consider some of his past statements on the issue before he votes.
On NBC’s Meet the Press during August of 2001 — three weeks after the House last voted (and passed) the Weldon-Stupak cloning ban (same one they vote on again this Thursday) — in the process of answering a question on embryonic-stem-cell research (then the issue of the hour), Rep. Gephardt told host Tim Russert: “Obviously, we don’t want cloning. Nobody is for cloning.”
As if to confirm that viewers hadn’t misheard, without prompting, Gephardt emphasized about a minute later: “We passed a law saying no cloning and I think that’s the law that we ought to follow.”
His use of “we” is curious considering Gephardt did not vote for the ban; he voted against Weldon-Stupak.
Instead of voting for the real cloning ban, Gephardt voted for a substitute offered by Pennsylvania Republican Jim Greenwood that would have effectively gutted the House ban — allowing for so-called research or therapeutic cloning. The Greenwood amendment, which will also be taken up again in the House this week, is similar to a bogus ban currently sponsored by Utah Republican Orrin Hatch and California Democrat Dianne Feinstein in the Senate.
Let’s get this straight though: Even though he voted against it, Gephardt endorsed the Weldon-Stupak comprehensive, legitimate cloning ban on national television. He should be reminded of this early and often.
If Gephardt includes himself among those who do not want cloning — as he suggested to Tim Russert he does — he should go ahead andlead by voting for the Weldon-Stupak cloning-prohibition bill this week. If for no other reason (principles?), it’ll be a step toward distinguishing himself from the other dwarves in the primary race.