Bill Frist’s Embryonic Stem Cell Research Support Upset GOP Senators

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 16, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Bill Frist’s Embryonic Stem Cell Research Support Upset GOP Senators Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 16, 2005

Washington, DC ( — In a nationally syndicated column, writer Bob Novak reports that Republican members of the Senate are upset at Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist over his flip-flop on the issue of using taxpayer funds to pay for embryonic stem cell research.

Though Frist has generally received good reviews from fellow Republican senators for his performance leading the party in the Senate, Novak reports, "It’s the atmospherics that bother fellow Republicans, typified by his decision to break with President Bush on embryonic stem cell research."

"Frist’s sin is not so much what he did but when he did it," Novak reports. "Announcing his new stem cell position July 29, the last day the Senate was in session before the summer recess, stepped on his applause lines for the unexpectedly productive pre-recess congressional record."

One Republican senator told Novak that Frist "has a tin ear" and pointed to "Frist’s knack for doing the wrong thing at the wrong time" such as missing key meetings with President Bush and Speaker Dennis Hastert.

"Frist’s Republican colleagues cannot understand why he surprised them with his new stem cell position at time when they wanted him to brag of the sudden burst of Senate productivity," Novak writes.

Novak says Frist’s presidential ambitions have been hurt in the process because Frist’s flip-flop upset pro-life advocates and his inability to work with Republican senators on the issue my weaken their support.

Frist defended his new position supporting overturning President Bush embryonic stem cell research funding limits in an email last week and said "I spent weeks talking with the best scientists and ethicists in the world about this issue."

But Novak says Frist apparently spent little time considering the timing of his comments or the impact they would have.

"Frist did not address his timing or the political impact, providing further evidence that he thinks like the transplant surgeon he once was rather than the politician he now is," Novak writes.

"What irritates pro-life activists is that they had been conferring with Frist over strategy to derail the legislation he now is supporting," Novak added.