Michael J. Fox, Liar

The infamous Michael J. Fox commercial (click here to see the video[*1] ) shows him spastically jerking around as he battles his Parkinson’s Disease to deliver a classic Democratic “Republicans Are Evil” message on behalf of the Claire McCaskill for Senate campaign.

There are, at least, two serious problems which undermine the credibility of the Fox ad:

Mr. Fox’s political attack on U.S. Senator Jim Talent is based on Talent’s opposition of “stem cell research.” This is, simply, a lie. Talent opposes embryonic stem cell research–he does not oppose all stem cell research, as he told the Kansas City Star[*2] :

TALENT: I am a strong supporter of stem cell research. I’m stronglyopposed to human cloning. In the Senate, I have already supported morethan $2.2 billion for adult, umbilical and other types of stem cellresearch that does not involve the cloning or destruction of humanembryos.

It would seem that a party which once celebrated the nuances of its Presidential candidate, in 2004, has lost its appreciation for nuance. The evidence is the Michael J. Fox ad, which is as subtle as a sledgehammer to the side of the head. Now, I don’t see human cloning as the boogey-man that manyconservatives do. I voted (absentee) for the Stem Cell Amendment in Missouri, butI also voted for Talent, for reasons that have nothing to do with stemcells or cloning.

The second and possibly more damnable problem is in the non-verbal language of Fox’s jerking body. You see, he has admitted that he has stopped taking his medication in order to elicit sympathetic reaction from a Senate committee in the past. From his own web site[*3] :

Snippets of my testimony were featured on several of the nightly newsbroadcasts. One line in particular from my prepared statement got a lotof play: “In my forties, I can expect challenges most people wouldn’tface until their seventies and eighties, if ever. But with your help,if we all do everything we can to eradicate this disease, when I’m inmy fifties I’ll be dancing at my children’s weddings.” I had made adeliberate choice to appear before the subcommittee without medication.It seemed to me that this occasion demanded that my testimony about theeffects of the disease, and the urgency we as a community were feeling,be seen as well as heard. For people who had never observed me in thiskind of shape, the transformation must have been startling.

Emphasis mine.

There is no denying that Fox has a terrible, debilitating disease. But there is also no denying that he has in the past willfully exaggerated the effects of the disease by suspending a medication therapy, in order to win sympathy.

Dean Barnett, no stranger to debilitating diseases (he has cystic fibrosis) is not impressed by Fox’s sympathy play[*4] :

If you don’t think that’s manipulative and quite frankly outrageous,we’re just going to have to agree to disagree. It also begs thequestion, why did he make himself suffer? If his goal was to make adisingenuous statement about his condition, he didn’t have to refrainfrom taking his medication. He could have just taken his medication andpretended to be sicker than he was. After all, isn’t that in effectwhat he did?

Just remember, she’s Claire McCaskill, and she approved that message. Of course, pretty much the same ad is also running in Maryland, so it’s not just McCaskill.