Thursday, March 24, 2005

GOP Turns Tragedy into Ugly Tragedy

Maureen Dowd, Frank Rich--and, for the record the US Supreme Court--talk sense regarding the case of Terry Schiavo.

Billmon considers the logical extremes of Jeb Bush's lunacy, while Richard Cohen manages to do what he's best at, namely, bash Democrats--in this case, for lacking a spine...

As to the latter, well--Cohen is correct in noting that those Democrats who, for better or worse, are considered leaders within the party, have figuratively crawled under a rock in this case, which is appalling--in Cohen's opinion, they're too busy waiting for polling data to tell them what is OBVIOUSLY the right thing--to let this poor woman and her husband ALONE. The matter was decided on the state level.

On the other hand, GOP stalwarts like Frist, DeLay, la Famiglia Bush, et al, sound (no pun intended) progressively more creepy every time they open their clap-traps. Which is why, as Dowd notes, that in a CBS poll, three quarters of those surveyed "thought it was all about politics."


Yesterday I noted the Democrats should be all over this--they should. There's rank hypocrisy at play. For instance: not ONE religious wingnut has come up with a single individual other than Ms. Shiavo to get all huffy about. There's the GOP memo which gives their game away. There's the entire, well, sorry to use the word again (but it's so fitting) CREEPY nature of it all--Tom DeLay talking out of his ass about Michael Schiavo--publicly lying and not giving a shit. Dowd gets it right when she notes that the Hammer wants to cut $15 billion dollars from Medicaid yet apparently doesn't get or doesn't care that such a stance makes mere hypocrisy pale in comparison...then she goes on to note that DeLay considers this to be all about HIM. Schiavo is merely a prop.

And here are a few excerpts from Rich:

This circus is the latest and most egregious in a series of cultural shocks that have followed Election Day 2004, when a fateful exit poll question on "moral values" ignited a take-no-prisoners political grab by moral zealots. During the commercial interruptions on "The Ten Commandments" last weekend, viewers could surf over to the cable news networks and find a Bible-thumping show as only Washington could conceive it. Congress was floating such scenarios as staging a meeting in Ms. Schiavo's hospital room or, alternatively, subpoenaing her, her husband and her doctors to a hearing in Washington. All in the name of faith.

Like many Americans, I suspect, I tried to picture how I would have reacted if a bunch of smarmy, camera-seeking politicians came anywhere near a hospital room where my own relative was hooked up to life support. I imagined summoning the Clint Eastwood of "Dirty Harry," not "Million Dollar Baby." But before my fantasy could get very far, star politicians with the most to gain from playing the God card started hatching stunts whose extravagant shamelessness could upstage any humble reverie of my own.

Senator Bill Frist, the Harvard-educated heart surgeon with presidential aspirations, announced that watching videos of Ms. Schiavo had persuaded him that her doctors in Florida were mistaken about her vegetative state - a remarkable diagnosis given that he had not only failed to examine the patient ostensibly under his care but has no expertise in the medical specialty, neurology, relevant to her case. No less audacious was Tom DeLay, last seen on "60 Minutes" a few weeks ago deflecting Lesley Stahl's questions about his proximity to allegedly criminal fund-raising by saying he would talk only about children stranded by the tsunami. Those kids were quickly forgotten as he hitched his own political rehabilitation to a brain-damaged patient's feeding tube...

The president was not about to be outpreached by these saps. The same Mr. Bush who couldn't be bothered to interrupt his vacation during the darkening summer of 2001, not even when he received a briefing titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.," flew from his Crawford ranch to Washington to sign Congress's Schiavo bill into law. The bill could have been flown to him in Texas, but his ceremonial arrival and departure by helicopter on the White House lawn allowed him to showboat as if he had just landed on the deck of an aircraft carrier. Within hours he turned Ms. Schiavo into a slick applause line at a Social Security rally. "It is wise to always err on the side of life," he said, wisdom that apparently had not occurred to him in 1999, when he mocked the failed pleas for clemency of Karla Faye Tucker, the born-again Texas death-row inmate, in a magazine interview with Tucker Carlson.

Rich concludes with his own, shorter version of Cohen's point:

It is a full-scale jihad that our government signed onto last weekend, and what's most scary about it is how little was heard from the political opposition. The Harvard Law School constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe pointed out this week that even Joe McCarthy did not go so far as this Congress and president did in conspiring to "try to undo the processes of a state court." But faced with McCarthyism in God's name, most Democratic leaders went into hiding and stayed silent. Prayers are no more likely to revive their spines than poor Terri Schiavo's brain.


Now, to be sure, sometimes it isn't bad to let a political opponent continue to shoot long after it's apparent that the crosshairs are firmly affixed to said opponent's foot. On the other hand, how difficult is it to come down on the side of common sense against what is undoubtedly religious whacknuttery on steroids? The people trying to bring water to Terry Schiavo (who'd probably choke to death on it) are lunatics--which speaks volumes for those who wish to be thought of as their leaders (read: DeLay, Frist, both Bushes, Randall Terry--oh, and sorry to divert, but Terry recently accused Alan Colmes, of all people, of selling cocaine to juveniles...apparently Colmes uncovered footage of Terry publicly asking that an abortion provider be murdered--not exactly a pro-life position)--anyway, in this matter, the public is clearly on more or less the same page--the federal government HAS NO BUSINESS in the matter. And, for those of us who've done a bit more than scratch the surface, it's apparent that the state government--at the request of both Michael Schiavo AND the Schindlers--has looked at this matter extensively. So, let them be.

The situation is tragic enough already. The GOP has turned it ugly. And, sadly, the Democrats have mostly turned away.

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