In his final State of the Union Address, embedded in the chest-thumping braggadocio, the not so subtle jibes against political enemies, the delusional assessments, and the mendacious hypocrisy, President Barack Obama delivered one gem that everyone, left and right, can get behind. According to Tuesday’s Politico, the president promised to cure cancer with a “moonshot” effort and placed Vice President Joe Biden in “mission control.” Biden already pushed the effort as part of a speech he delivered last October in which he announced he is not (at least for now) running for president.
Most people in the United States has lost a loved one to cancer, not the least of whom is Biden, whose son Beau succumbed to the disease last summer. Obama announced his cure for cancer initiative with a reference to science and technology efforts of the past.
“Sixty years ago, when the Russians beat us into space, we didn’t deny Sputnik was up there.
“We didn’t argue about the science, or shrink our research and development budget. We built a space program almost overnight, and twelve years later, we were walking on the moon.
“Now, that spirit of discovery is in our DNA. America is Thomas Edison and the Wright Brothers and George Washington Carver. America is Grace Hopper and Katherine Johnson and Sally Ride. America is every immigrant and entrepreneur from Boston to Austin to Silicon Valley racing to shape a better future.”
The reference to the Apollo program was fraught with irony. Obama infamously cancelled President George W. Bush’s Constellation return to the moon program. “Moon shots” in the modern era are designed to go anywhere but the moon.
“You know, last year, Vice President Biden said that, with a new moon-shot, America can cure cancer. Last month, he worked with this Congress to give scientists at the National Institutes of Health the strongest resources that they’ve had in over a decade. So tonight, I’m announcing a new national effort to get it done. And because he’s gone to the mat for all of us on so many issues over the past 40 years, I’m putting Joe in charge of mission control.
“For the loved ones we’ve all lost, for the families that we can still save, let’s make America the country that cures cancer once and for all. What do you think? Let’s make it happen.”
To be sure, President Obama is not the first to have a go at curing cancer. President Richard Nixon declared war on the disease in 1971. The War on Cancer has been a long, hard slog with glacial progress having been made. Cancer is not just one disease, but many, with many causes and treatments.
But progress has been made, with new treatments that use the body’s immune system and nanotechnology to precisely deliver drugs. So, a little extra push with government resources might just make cancer as a death sentence a thing of the past in short order, even with Biden the general in charge of the final offensive.