I've done over one hundred press interviews this year in my role over at The Patriot Project where Taylor Marsh, Dave Johnson and I have been working to expose right wing front groups, how they're funded and how they operate. The question I most often get asked is "what's the best example of the Swift Boat strategy being used this year? Is it Vets for the Truth? Or what they're doing to Chris Carney?"
Actually, no. It's what Rush Limbaugh's done to Michael J. Fox. Why?
Well, the right wing has a problem with the stem cell issue. It's like the Vietnam issue in 2004 - if there was a fair and balanced debate on who served their country with more courage, John Kerry or George Bush, well, that's not much of a debate now is it? Same with stem cell research.
More and more Americans are supporting the issue of embryonic stem cell research. The vast majority of Americans favor stem cell research if it means find a cure for diseases like Alzheimers and Parkinson's. So the right wing is trapped between its religious supporters and a hard place. It can't argue the issue on the issue. So it does what it always does when in the wrong and in a defensive position, it attacks.
"He"s Canadian and doesn't deserve our help." They rally the immigration and border fence warriors. The fact that Michael J. Fox, his wife and their children are all American citizens doesn't matter because this isn't about the facts, it's about creating doubt and distraction on the issue.
"Fox is just acting." or "He's off his medications." Attack. And create doubt and distraction. See all the press coverage on the attacks and counterattacks? That's the strategy at play here.
If we're talking about Limbaugh attacking and Hannity defending Limbaugh attacking and then talking about Democrats defending Fox and attacking Limbaugh for attacking Fox and attacking Hannity for defending Limbaugh for attacking Fox, what are we not talking about?
A simple powerful ad that the majority of Americans agree with.
A father and husband searching for a cure so he can grow old with his children and his wife.
We see a man hit by a car in New York City. He's lying bleeding on the street, barely alive. Do we ask if he's Canadian? Do we declare that he is faking his injuries or acting?
No, we do everything thing we can to save his life.
This is the moral issue here. This is the choice. Do we do everything we can to save Michael J. Fox's life?
I say yes.
UPDATE: Just in case you're one of those people commenting that Michael J. Fox is just a celebrity out for his own glory, here's a remarkable list of the projects that his foundation is involved in. Pretty incredible, and interesting, stuff.