Could a clone ever run for president?
Dolly is out, but how about "All the way with a cloned L.B.J."?
By Michael D. Lemonick
November 1, 1999
Web posted at: 12:11 p.m. EST (1711 GMT)
Sure, why not? Scientists used to think it would be difficult to
clone an animal as complex as a mammal, but Dolly the sheep
neatly demolished that theory. If you can clone a sheep, a human
isn't much tougher. Whether it is ethical to do so is another
matter, and in fact human cloning has been outlawed in a number
of countries and states. But illegal or not, someone's going to
do it--and having been conceived by a convicted felon is no bar
to public office.
The U.S. Constitution, moreover, doesn't have a clone clause. As
long as you are a citizen and 35 or older, you're eligible. The
age requirement means it can't happen for a while--2036 at the
earliest (presuming that someone hasn't already secretly created
the first human clone). But 2036 is not that far away. While some
may insist that a clone should not be eligible for citizenship,
the argument won't fly. If you are human and born in the U.S.,
you're a citizen. A clone will be born in the conventional way,
with a mother, a belly button and a full complement of human DNA.
The obstacle to President Clone will come if cloning carries
serious side effects. Dolly the sheep, it turns out, has
prematurely aged cells, probably attributable to the fact that
she is the biological extension of an animal that was already an
adult. Human clones could have the same problem--plus
cloning-related mental or behavioral defects that might not be
apparent in a sheep.
If these difficulties can be overcome, political campaigns could
get pretty interesting. Biologists today are talking of using
cloning to bring the woolly mammoth and other extinct animals
back to life. Maybe Democrats and Republicans would want to try
something similar. After all, candidates are always trying to
link themselves to great leaders of the past. Why not cut out the
middlemen? Given the pace of scientific progress, plus
sufficiently audacious party leaders, the presidential debates of
2044 could feature some pretty impressive lineups. Imagine
Abraham Lincoln taking on F.D.R. Or J.F.K. going up against
Thomas Jefferson. Or Millard Fillmore vs. Warren Harding.
On second thought ...
--By Michael D. Lemonick
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Cover Date: November 8, 1999