Kerry to Cure All Diseases

I didn’t bother to comment on John Edwards’ idiotic comment Monday exploiting Christopher Reeves’ death because there wasn’t really anything to add that wasn’t being said by everyone else. Charles Krauthammer, a physician who still suffers from a debilitating accident, has plenty to say, though.

After the second presidential debate, in which John Kerry used the word “plan” 24 times, I said on television that Kerry has a plan for everything except curing psoriasis. I should have known there is no parodying Kerry’s pandering. It turned out days later that the Kerry campaign has a plan — nay, a promise — to cure paralysis. What is the plan? Vote for Kerry. This is John Edwards on Monday at a rally in Newton, Iowa: “If we do the work that we can do in this country, the work that we will do when John Kerry is president, people like Christopher Reeve are going to walk, get up out of that wheelchair and walk again.”

In my 25 years in Washington, I have never seen a more loathsome display of demagoguery. Hope is good. False hope is bad. Deliberately, for personal gain, raising false hope in the catastrophically afflicted is despicable. Where does one begin to deconstruct this outrage? First, the inability of the human spinal cord to regenerate is one of the great mysteries of biology. The answer is not remotely around the corner. It could take a generation to unravel. To imply, as Edwards did, that it is imminent if only you elect the right politicians is scandalous. Second, if the cure for spinal cord injury comes, we have no idea where it will come from. There are many lines of inquiry. Stem cell research is just one of many possibilities, and a very speculative one at that. For 30 years I have heard promises of miracle cures for paralysis (including my own, suffered as a medical student). The last fad, fetal tissue transplants, was thought to be a sure thing. Nothing came of it.

As a doctor by training, I’ve known better than to believe the hype — and have tried in my own counseling of people with new spinal cord injuries to place the possibility of cure in abeyance. I advise instead to concentrate on making a life (and a very good life it can be) with the hand one is dealt. The greatest enemies of this advice have been the snake-oil salesmen promising a miracle around the corner. I never expected a candidate for vice president to be one of them.

Read the whole thing.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. LJD says:

    Hence one of my main problems with the ticket. Bush is “exposed” as a liar, when we have repeated evidence of Kerry’s fabrications. I think back to Lynne Cheney’s comments only yesterday that “This is NOT a good man”.

    Sadly, for the disillusioned, this is not his only “fairy tale”. Claims that Bush represents a ban on abortion, or gay marriage for instance, has people scrambling to the polls. The reality is that regardless of the the President’s views, democrats will never lets these issues pass the floor.

    Kerry is exploiting certain groups, including the sick and elderly, by scaring them into voting. It’s totally unscrupulous. Like accusing your brothers in harms way of, “personal raping, cutting off heads, ears… etc.”

  2. Paul says:

    I did not know he was a physician. huh

  3. James Joyner says:

    Yep. MD from Johns Hopkins and then additional training as a psychiatrist. A short bio:

    Dr. Charles Krauthammer was born in New York City and raised in Montreal. He was educated at McGill University, majoring in political science and economics, Oxford University, and Harvard, where he earned his medical degree. He practiced medicine for three years, eventually becoming the chief resident in psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital.

    “In 1978, Krauthammer left medicine and moved to Washington, DC to work as the director of psychiatric research for the Carter Administration. He also began to contribute articles to The New Republic and served as a speechwriter to Vice President Walter Mondale during the 1980 presidential campaign. Winner of the 1984 National Magazine Award for essays and the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for distinguished commentary, he began writing for The Washington Post in January 1985. His now-syndicated column appears in over 100 newspapers. He has served as a writer and editor for The New Republic and contributed articles to Time Magazine. In 1997, Washingtonian name him among the top 50 most influential journalists in the national press corps.”