Van Hollen takes undue credit for childhood cancer measure

News recently has been dominated by gas prices, the economy, and the race for the presidency — and justifiably so. However, I think one story deserves more attention than it has received.

Last week, Congress unanimously passed H.R. 1553, the Caroline Pryce Walker Conquer Childhood Cancer Act of 2008. This great bill authorized $150 million for research, education and treatment efforts to combat pediatric cancer. I would like to publicly applaud all of Congress for this bipartisan triumph and Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-Ohio) in particular. This bill is the culmination of nine years of ceaseless work by Rep. Pryce to end this heartbreaking disease.

I have worked with children suffering from cancer, both as a medical intern on the oncology service and as an ophthalmologist with pediatric ocular tumors. I remember one particular child in 1994 who was hospitalized at the National Naval Medical Center for a recurrence of lymphoma and was under my care. He was 12 years old and awaiting a bone marrow transplant. He was always smiling and upbeat and loved boxing. One day I was sitting at his bedside and I told him he was going to beat this. He smiled at me and said, “Doc, I’m always up for the next round.” He taught me a lesson about courage in the face of extreme adversity that I will never forget. It is in homage to this brave child, and too many kids like him, I praise this bill.

My opponent, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D), seems to have taken this congressional triumph to score undeserved political points. In his press release announcing the passage of H.R. 1553, Van Hollen portrayed himself as one of the two chief sponsors of the bill. He even renamed it the “Pryce-Van Hollen Legislation.” Though he (and 228 of his fellow House members) was a co-sponsor of the bill, none of the other people involved in the bill gave him nearly as much credit as he gave himself. In fact, Rep. Pryce didn’t even mention him in her press release.

Though every time he sits in front of a TV camera he denounces the GOP as the party of the “status quo,” Van Hollen’s brazen self-promotion reveals that he himself cannot transcend everyday politics.

Silver Spring, Md.

Same old story

From former Rep. James Symington (D-Mo.)

Thirty-five years ago, hot upon the Arab embargo, I co-chaired with the late Rep. Mike McCormack (D-Wash.) the newly formed Democratic Study Group’s Committee on Energy. We took statements from a variety of sources regarding the promise of wind, “clean” coal, methane, solar, tidal, nuclear — even microwave-transmitted energy from orbiting solar arrays. And as Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) would attest, the Commerce Committee urged the downsizing of vehicles to the Big Three, a suggestion they rejected in lockstep, or lockjaw, as flying in the face of America’s untreatable addiction to big cars.

Committee records will substantiate that we were on a course toward energy independence that was only aborted by the Arab world’s prudent removal of the embargo. High oil prices may achieve what the brief embargo could not. But if prices decline, it will be guzzle-as-usual and SUV resurgence on the nation’s roads …. until the next time.