George W. Bush has used the Presidential veto for the first time in his Presidency to block a bill to lift the ban on federal funding for stem cell research. Rather than act as the leader of the US people, the majority of whom back the research which could help find cures for serious illnesses, Bush chooses instead to act in accord with a narrow ideological agenda.
Let me be clear that I've never liked the personal abuse of Bush. There's a lot about his policies and actions as well as about the way he came to power that one can quite legitimately criticise him for. Attacking him for being seemingly thick, incoherent or for passing out while choking on a pretzel devalues such criticisms. (Nor do I think Bush is as dumb as his detractors like to claim. He very much fits in with the US desire to believe their President is like them, one of the ordinary folk. How many of the masses at large would avoid the gaffes Bush came out with if they had the same exposure and pressure?) But what I really don't like is the way Bush has brought a religious zeal into politics (and here was ignorant old me thinking the US has a constitutional division between religion and state!), seeking to enact policies in line with a narrow sect of opinion rather than with the needs and wishes of the many. This is not a case of a President taking a lead - this is a man responding to one of the most disgusting elements in US politics. The statesmanly approach would have been to ignore the clarion calls and sign the bill into law. Instead Bush shows himself to be ever more a weak leader.