First Lady speaks her mind-or not

It’s not too hard to imagine a scene played out last week in the White House residence long after the President’s official lights-out time of 9:30 p.m. Tension is building between the First Couple. He needs her help in counteracting pleas from a former First Lady to give up his hard-headed rejection of stem cell research.

George: Honey, the fellas just want you to say that you support me on this.

Laura: But you know, I really think Nancy may be right. The country seemed to agree with her when she asked for funding to find a cure for Alzheimer’s.

W: Well, sure, she can say whatever she wants to. Ronnie isn’t running for reelection. He’s, well, dead already.

L: Can’t I just talk about libraries?

W: Nobody cares about that. They all know you were a librarian. If you say any more about libraries, they’ll just bring up that stuff about me not reading. How can they say that, anyhow? That movie showed me reading to the children while terrorists were crashing planes into our buildings.

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L: Well, dear, you did say once on national TV that you only read the Bible.

W: Right. And I didn’t find a single word in the Bible saying it’s okay to kill unborn babies to get their cells for old guys who shake all over and can’t remember their grandkids’ names.

L: But they’re not killing babies. They just want to use stem cells from frozen embryos that are going to be discarded by fertility clinics anyway. Those little clumps of cells have no chance of ever becoming a person.

W: Look. The speech they wrote for you points out that I’m the first president to authorize federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. Don’t you think that sounds good?

L: Well, only if nobody notices that your predecessors weren’t given the option because stem cell research didn’t exist yet.

W: I think I should get credit anyway.

L: Even though you’re the first president to add stultifying restrictions to a medical research funding bill?

W: Don’t talk like that. It makes you sound like an elitist snob.

L: That’s not fair. Just because I’ve read some history and science doesn’t make me a snob. Besides, I’m willing to give you my tacit support.

W: There you go again.

L: Tacit just means I don’t want to talk about it. That way my silence on an issue lets people assume I’m with you all the way.

W: Well, what am I supposed to tell Karl? They’ve written out this little speech. All the guys are going to be saying it next week, you know, before the convention. It just says we don’t know that stem cell research will cure anything.

L: But isn’t that the whole point of research … to find out what we don’t know?

W: Now you’re throwing all that scientific stuff at me. If you don’t get up and say that you believe the same as I do, people are going to think you’re taking sides with all those movie stars who want us to cure their diseases and broken backs. Why can’t they just pray? If Jesus wanted them to walk again, he’d make it happen.

L: Oh, lighten up. If that’s what you need to get reelected, then I’ll do it. But do I have to say that part about not holding out false hope? That is just so disingenuous.

W: Laura. I warned you. Stop using those words.

L: Look, I only meant that for people with these terrible diseases and their families, stem cells are their best hope. It’s really all they’ve got. And it’s been scientifically proven that patients who are hopeful have a much better chance of getting better than those who have given up. How can it help you to take away all hope?

W: Because the Democrats are saying, “Hope is on the way.” Or “Help is on the way.” Whatever. Karl says we’ve got to stay on message.

L: Well, dear. If you insist, I’ll say it. But it may backfire. If Republicans aren’t offering hope that things will get better, then why would people vote for them?

W: I don’t know. But Karl must know what he’s doing. Doesn’t he?

Well . . . it might have gone something like that.

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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