Death and politics

Wednesday, 13 February, 2008

After watching the recent Colbert Report, featuring Aubrey De Grey, my attention was drawn to the age of the likely Republican candidate for the upcoming US elections, Senator John McCain III. From my calculations, he is about to turn 72 this year. According to the National Center for Health Statistics’ Health, United States, 2006 report (page 131), the life expectancy at birth for somebody born in 1939 (two years after to McCain was born) was 61.6 years. This means that Senator McCain has a fairly high chance of dying during a four year term.

During the week, I also noticed that a certain boxer named Bernard Hopkins fears that Barack Obama would be assassinated if he became the President. I’m not sure what authority Mr Hopkins has other than being a black boxer, but his fears were echoed (not sure who said it first though) by Doris Lessing (a Nobel-prize winning author). Again, not much more than speculation, but still one has to take the possibility into account.

So, with the various possibilities of death lurking for a President, one has to look closely at who will be the Vice-President. Personally, for the sake of the United States, I do hope that it isn’t Huckabee as running mate and potential VP with McCain, because of Huckabee’s opposition to embryonic stem cell research (in contrast to McCain, who actually seems to support the practice, provided it uses existing cell lines). But most readers of this blog would (I hope) agree that a conservative government is not the way to go – both McCain and Huckabee are against human cloning of any kind.

On the Democratic side (which is slightly less conservative, but still far too conservative), both the candidates are more or less equal on this. Obama supports embryonic stem cell research on unused embryos from IVF clinics, and so does Clinton. Clinton supports therapeutic cloning, while Obama hasn’t really said anything either way, although he did vote against a 2001 bill banning human cloning (of any kind) in Illinois.

Anyway, this has mostly been a complete digression on my part from the original topic. Oh well, that’s what blogs can do to you. Anyway, if you’re an American and reading this, I urge you to review the policies on biomedical science and see which candidate suits best.


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