Editor's Corner

Stem cells emerge as election issue

In this hard-fought midterm election, just about any message that can be used to gain a few votes will be deployed almost overnight. So it's with some concern that I've watched embryonic stem cell research rear up as a key "wedge" issue in a group of crucial swing states. Advocating stem cell research holds few problems for Democrats. They're not going to win a majority of the evangelical vote no matter what they do. But it does play well among independents, a key voting group. The midterm election won't change the situation in Washington. George W. Bush has made it clear that his mind is closed to any compromise and he has two more years on the White House lease. But if the tide has turned and opposition to expanded federal funding of embryonic stem cell research remains a losing proposition for Republicans, we're watching the last stand of a tragically misguided policy. Our top item this week provides some insight into the kinds of cures stem cells can provide. Let's hope the issue can withstand the fierce partisanship being shown by both sides of the political divide. - John Carroll