That op-ed of his, Jonah, is the weakest thing he has written in a long time. He writes that the cell -reprogramming breakthrough won’t save the GOP, for three reasons.
First, advocates of embryo-destructive research will still be able to argue that we should fund all types of stem-cell research. That’s true–but the question is how many people will listen? There’s no reason to think that the answer is higher than it was before the breakthrough, and good reason to think it’s lower.
Second, he writes, “people like me are not going to quickly forget those six lost years.” I’ll leave aside the dubious assumption behind “those six lost years.” The flaw in Kinsley’s political argument is that the percentage of Americans who are like Kinsley is not all that high.
Third, he says that the debate has revealed that Republicans’ pro-life position is inconsistent, since they’re not protesting the destruction of embryos by fertility clinics. Even granting that Kinsley’s argument is correct–which I don’t; I spend a little time on it in my book–it isn’t exactly a huge political problem to be exposed to scathing op-eds by Michael Kinsley.
The Republicans didn’t need saving in the first place. Stem cells never moved many votes. But the stem-cell issue was a modest liability for the Republicans. It is becoming an even more modest one now, and I suspect Kinsley knows that.