I was reading Cato veep David Boaz’s op-ed on Bush and nodding along until I came to this sentence: “His more libertarian-minded voters are taken aback to discover that ‘compassionate conservatism’ turned out to mean social conservatism — a stepped-up drug war, restrictions on medical research, antigay policies, federal subsidies for marriage and religion — and big-spending liberalism justified as ‘compassion.’” It was the bit about medical research that surprised me. Cato has not been very involved in the debates about embryonic stem-cell research and cloning. Boaz tells me that he was not stating an organizational position on these issues, and that he was trying to be careful to talk about what Bush actions would annoy–as he put it in the sentence in question–”libertarian-minded voters” rather than Cato staffers specifically. If that was his focus, however, it’s a little odd that he left Bush’s abortion record off his list. Surely “libertarian-minded voters” are at least as annoyed with that as with his advocacy of a ban on cloning, even if Cato itself avoids the abortion issue.
When I mentioned to Boaz that the debate over embryonic stem-cell research (as opposed to cloning) concerned federal funding rather than private-sector funding, he said he would be against it.