You will recall back in July during the Grand Rapids mayoral race, incumbent George Heartwell sent out a notorious postcard targeting Catholic voters. It featured local Catholic landmarks and the endorsement of prominent Catholics in the area including members of the clergy. It gave the impression that Heartwell had the backing of the Catholic establishment while concealing his support for abortion-on-demand and other life issues offensive to the deep convictions of most Catholics.
The postcard's purpose was to undercut the Catholic vote for his pro-life opponent Rick Tormala. It probably succeeded, because all Heartwell needed to do was keep enough Catholic voters untroubled by his real positions on abortion, assisted suicide, and embryonic stem cell research, and so at home on election day, to squeak out a victory over Tormala. And that is what happened when Hizzoner crawled over the finish line with just over 50% of the vote.
Heartwell justified this little bit of creative politicking by arguing that he didn't have to publicly declare his opposition to Catholic positions on the life issues, because as mayor he had no way to influence government policy regarding them. You have to hand it to Heartwell. He explained away one deceit with another. Well, a leopard doesn't change his spots, does he? After maintaining an unprincipled silence during the mayoral race about his opposition to what Catholics and others call the "culture of life", Heartwell as mayor of Grand Rapids is now beating the drums for embryonic stem cell research.
On Wednesday, November 7th, Heartwell will appear as one of the speakers at an event promoting embryonic stem cell research. It is called "Stem Cell Research: The Science, the Potential, and the Law" and is presented by the advocacy group Michigan Citizens for Stem Cell Research and Cures (MCSCRC). In turn the whole affair is hosted by the liberal political action committee Democracy for America, founded by Democratic Party chairman Howard Dean, a pro-abortion extremist. MCSCRC purports to dispense with the myths that have surrounded stem cell research during the ongoing political controversy over the use of embryonic human beings (or in MCSCRC's parlance, a small clump of cells) in some of that research. However, MCSCRC's actual agenda is to push a set of talking points to be used against opponents of embryonic stem cell research.
So why are Heartwell, MCSCRC, and Democracy for America hepped up about opposition to embryonic stem cell research? Because, folks, the MCSCRC has filed paperwork last week to put the issue on the ballot in November 2008. MCSCRC wants to not only remove the long-standing restrictions under state law against killing embryonic humans in medical research but also to require taxpayers to fund embryonic stem cell research. To win that battle in Michigan, a strongly pro-life state, MCSCRC has to equip the troops with the right soundbites for the campaign. Hence, events like the one Mayor Heartwell is speaking at next week.
So much for the mayor having no infuence on government policy in these matters.