Philip Maddocks: Republicans hire Craig Venter to create a new life form the party can believe in
Hoping to capitalize on an electorate clamoring for change in Washington, but without alienating the party’s traditional base, the Republican National Committee announced yesterday that it had hired genome pioneer J. Craig Venter to synthesize a new life form that the party can believe in and that will combine the most appealing elements of Tea Party populism and establishment conservatism into a single living, mostly harmonious Republican platform.
“We know this is a daunting task, but if we can somehow find a balance between the party of Abraham Lincoln and the party of Sarah Palin, it would be the political equivalent of landing on the moon or of coming up with the theory of general relativity,” said Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the No. 2 Republican.
“This is something we have been struggling with for a long time. How do we tap into the life of the Tea Party without killing ourselves? Now, with the help of Dr. Venter, we think we have found the answer,” said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell. “They don’t call it political science without good reason.”
Republicans are counting on Dr. Venter to achieve total control over the Republican message with the new synthetically living, breathing party platform, first by synthesizing the party’s historical and sometimes confusing DNA in a laboratory, and then by designing a new party platform stripped of many natural functions and equipped with new life forms that govern production of useful talking points and anti-Obama rhetoric.
“It’s very powerful to be able to reconstruct and own every ethical lapse and blatant misrepresentation in a party platform because that means you can put in different ethics and representations,” said Tom DeLay a dancer emeritus and Republican biologist at the Waterloo Research Institute in Dayton, Tenn.
Mr. Cantor and other Republican leaders predicted that if the party achieves its goal — synthesizing the largest piece of historical of party DNA so far, a million units in length, and in making it accurate enough — the technical feat will open the way for the party to integrate its extreme passions in a way never before achieved in the centuries-long political struggle for party identity.
“This is a philosophical advance as much as a technical advance,” said Representative Pete Sessions of Texas, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, suggesting that the “synthetic party platform” raised new questions about the nature of life as a Republican. “In this new incarnation, we will be able to be all things to all the voters. They can vote for us without worrying about how something Rand Paul might have said, or something Michael Steele might have done, will reflect on what our party stands for.”
In response to the Republican announcement, President Obama asked the White House bioethics commission to complete a study of the issues raised by the Republican’s synthetic biology proposal within six months and report back to him on its findings. He said the new development raised “genuine concerns.” Though the president did not specify what those concerns were, he appeared to point in the direction of Alaska.
Some Democrats said that aside from assembling a large piece of propaganda, the Republicans are not breaking new ground with their promise to synthetically reinvent their party.
“To my mind the Republicans have somewhat overplayed the importance of this,” said Orwell Peters, a Democratic geneticist at the Ribonucleic Enterprise Institute. He described the result as more of “a rhetorical tour de force,” a matter of scale rather than a political breakthrough.
Friends of Washington Gridlock, a political inaction group, denounced the Republicans’ synthetic platform project as “an attempt at creating dangerous new technology,” saying that “Republicans should stop all further research until sufficient safeguards on Glenn Beck are put in place.”
But Republicans say the concerns expressed by liberal groups are without merit.
“How can anything we are trying now be any more dangerous than what went on during the health care debate,” Mr. Cantor pointed out.
He said the electorate is ready for a change — even an artificial one — and that’s what his party is offering.
“We are giving new life to our party by making it the first self-replicating party platform we’ve had on the planet whose parent is computer code, not human ideas,” he said. “I think we can see that politics is no longer just the art of the possible. And we aim to keep it that way.”
Philip Maddocks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.