Hidden messages in Obama ad


An ad has run quite a few times on the radio over the past few days, and it goes something like this. A mother’s voice says, “Eight times a day I have to test my daughter’s blood sugar, because she’s diabetic, and eight times a day I pray [her voice deepens] I pray for a cure. Obama supports stem cell research, but McCain is opposed to the stem cell research that could cure my little girl.”

Wow, so many subliminal messages in one ad! Where do I begin? First of all, the ad is profoundly dishonest. McCain SUPPORTS adult stem cell research, which is very-well funded, and which does indeed offer great medical promise. He opposes embryonic stem cell research. The ad does not make this distinction. (As it happens, embryonic stem cell research has proven unsuccessful — adult stem cells are far more promising.)

Now to identify the hidden messages: #1. Liberals pray too (“Eight times a day I PRAY”) so religious people shouldn’t be afraid of Democrats. #2 Abortion is a GOOD thing — it can save children’s lives. #3 Ergo, pro-lifers do not hold the moral high ground, just the opposite — they are directly harming sick children and dashing their hopes. #4 Conservative Christians are religious nuts who are callous to children’s suffering.

Once you identify all the messages, refuting them is unnecessary. The one point about this that I find most fascinating is the unconscious discomfort that pro-choicers still feel about abortion. In so many ways pro-lifers do seem to hold the moral high ground — and Sarah Palin’s allowing her Down’s Syndrome baby to live underscores this. So pro-choicers have to find ways to calm their uneasy conscience. But the fact that the ad did not use the words “embryonic” or “abortion” is very telling.

The only thing I want to add is that it’s possible Jewish law would permit embryonic stem cell research, provided the cells were taken from a very early-stage embryo. Jewish law does not agree with those Christians who think that there is a full human being present from the moment a sperm enters an egg cell. Were Roe v Wade ever to be overturned, the issue would go back to all fifty state legislatures, and would be decided in fifty different ways by the normal democratic process. All or most states would permit the “morning after pill” and all would permit abortion under varying circumstances, some a bit more restrictive and some a bit less.

Right now despite our differing beliefs about when, exactly, life begins, we must recognize that it is the pro-life side and not the pro-“choice” side that does in fact hold the moral high ground. Our Torah says, “Choose life.” It is no small thing to turn a blind eye to the suffering of millions of human souls whose lives are snuffed out each year, many of them past the point of viability, just because their parents find it inconvenient to let them live.

Fortunately we don’t have to snuff out these lives in order to advance medical research. The choice between the life of an unborn baby vs the life of a little girl with diabetes is a false choice. The true choice is the choice between a culture of pleasure and death vs a culture of responsibility and life.

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Charles B. Hall
6 years 11 months ago

In the interest of full disclosure I should mention that my employer conducts stem cell research.

I personally have not collaborated on any research involving stem cells of any type.

6 years 11 months ago


This is the link to the Saturday Night Live version of the Biden-Palin Debate. Tina Fey, who plays Palin does an excellent job, she is really talented. She looks and sounds just like her and makes Palin seem very unfit to be President. Unfortunately, there is a kernel of truth in the comedy. Up until recently in American history, nobody said a Vice President had to be qualified to take over on day one as President. This is a new standard . Palin is a great asset as a speaker and she attracts the biggest crowds but she is really not ready for running the USA. Unfortunately, neither is the next President, Barak Obama. He is going to win, that is the long and the short of it. The economy is in bad shape and the in party is getting blamed.
I don’t know if there is a Democratic or a Republican solution, there has to be a bi-partisan solution.

My prediction as of this moment is that there will be a Democratic landslide on November 4 and that the Democrats will have such a majority in both houses of congress that they will bear full responsibility for the economy and for all the other issues. I hope they use this power wisely and find solutions.

What worries me is that the Arabs will buy up the US economy. Stocks are so low that the Arabs can come in and buy up controlling shares of major industries. They are taking our gas money and buying our country from under us in plain sight. This could be the start of a major decline of the United States as a world leader. If this happens, it won’t be the fault of Obama alone, because the Republicans have a major share in getting us into this mess. We needed to achieve energy independence a long time ago but we were not allowed to by those who were paid off to keep us dependent. The lobbyists for the energy companies and the foreign oil producers colluded to keep us dependent on foreign oil and now we are dependent on others to help bail us out of this mess. It is a shame.

Lately, I am seriously thinking of voting for the Democrats including for President. The Republicans got us into this mess and they gave us very poor leadership. Now, let’s let the other guys clean it up. I don’t care for Obama but look what 8 years of Bush got us.

I want to point out the importance of Saturday Night Live. Tina Fey has actually planted doubts in my “sophisticated” mind about Palin. I know she is just an actress, but there is too much truth in her ridicule. It has an effect. I do not know what , if anything, can change the outcome. The only hope the Republicans have is planting doubts about Obama in the minds of white working class Americans. If that happens, they have a chance,but not unless the stock market starts to recover in the next few weeks and big time.
What do you think?


Steve Brizel
6 years 11 months ago

I agree with Mycroft, Drs. Simon and Hall, regardless of who I will vote for, which remains my choice and right as an American citizen. We tend to forget that the same Torah contains Shemittah, Yovel and that Chazal instituted Pruzbul. IMO, one cannot and should not claim that Halacha is liberal, conservative, Democratic or Republican in nature. To do so is about as mistaken as rabbis siding with socialists in 19th Century Russia, rabbis in the US claiming that either the North or the South was correct during the Civil War or writing a letter to Hitler Yimach Shmo and hoping that he would protect the Jews of Germany against Communists ( i.e. Seredei Aish). FWIW, there is a lot of historical evidence that documents all of the above instances of rabbis conflating Judaism with any one political trend or lending the support of halacha exclusively to any one trend, all of which if were read today, would seem at the least mistaken and extraordinarily embarassing to other educated readers.

One cannot seriously maintain that stem cell research is against Halacha and that the Halachic position on abortion approximates either the right to life or reproductive rights perspectives. IMO, it is a grave misnomer to claim that either perspective is embraced by Halacha.

Chaim Fisher
6 years 11 months ago

I do not understand. First Ms. Katz gets mad at Obama for running ads encouraging prayer, then she says liberals should pray more.

I guess those lib’rals can’t get nothin’ right.

Charles B. Hall
7 years 4 hours ago

One reason that embryonic stem cell research has produced few results is that it takes years, sometimes decades, for basic research to be translated into clinical practice. But another reason is that the Bush administration’s executive order banning funding for any new stem cell lines. Basic medical research is expensive and of course there would be little success when there is little funding. Another significant cultural issue is that a grant from the National Institutes of Health is looked upon as much more prestigious than a grant from a private foundation; the best junior researchers who want to advance their careers of necessity steer themselves into research that the National Institutes of Health is willing to fund.

The politicization of scientific research by the Bush administration has been unprecedented, and either McCain or Obama would represent a tremendous improvement based on their public statments. Here is an example:


Note that in his response to this questionnaire, McCain expresses support for federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.

To Ori who asked why pharmaceutical companies do not do embryonic stem cell research: They have to concentrate on research that has a high probability of producing a profitable therapy in the short to medium term, as they have an obligation to their investors to be profitable. They do not have extensive expertise in basic research areas such as this and would be unlikely to want to devote scarce financial resources to this area. And regarding your suggestion to use chimpanzee stem cells there are two problems. First, chimpanzees are an endangered species! Second, there are huge concerns regarding cross-species transplants. We do not know what diseases exist in chimpanzees that could wreck havoc in human populations. Indeed HIV has been shown to have originated in chimpanzees and crossed into humans. The reason that the Bush administration’s “approved” embryonic stem cell lines can not be used in humans is that they have been exposed to mouse tissue.

And as I implied earlier, as far as Jews are concerned, embryonic stem cell research has nothing to do with abortion. Toby, you wrote: “Obama and those who create his ads who are falsely trying to create the impression that a fetus must be destroyed in order for stem cell research to be carried on.” But as far as the Catholic Church and some (not all) Protestant churches are concerned, that impression is not false at all! The Catholic Church claims that every single one of those frozen embryos is a full human. Judaism does not agree. Should we be promoting a Catholic position incompatible with ours?