March 22, 2005
When I heard some "right to life" hysteric this morning on NPR, responding to the federal judge's decision not to take up the Schiavo case, the rhetorical--rather than emotional--heat in her comments couldn't have made it clearer that at least the political wing of the religious right considers this a win-win cause celebre. (The passionate spokesperson was, after all, careful to note that Judge Whittemore was a Clinton appointee.)
It doesn't matter to them what happens to Terri Schiavo, her family, or the Constitution, and if she dies, so much the better. Her supposed martyrdom and their ability to paint judges and liberals as heartless murderers will serve them well for election cycles to come.
Sometime last week, before Friday afternoon when the intensity on this went white-hot, I was a bit surprised to overhear Tom DeLay bring up the matter at a damage-control press conference about his reprehensible political and ethical conduct--you know, just because it was appropos of nothing, and seemed like a really shameless attempt to misdirect attention away from the investigations currently highlighting what his actual priorities have always been.
Which was exactly what it was, of course, and it turns out he and his cohort were just getting started, and I'm embarrassed to have paid him even the fleeting compliment of thinking he might have any shame when there was ass-saving grandstanding to be done:
On Friday, as the leaders of both chambers scrambled to try to stop the removal of Ms. Schiavo's feeding tube, Mr. DeLay, a Texas Republican, turned his attention to social conservatives gathered at a Washington hotel and described what he viewed as the intertwined struggle to save Ms. Schiavo, expand the conservative movement and defend himself against accusations of ethical lapses.
"One thing that God has brought to us is Terri Schiavo, to help elevate the visibility of what is going on in America," Mr. DeLay told a conference organized by the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian group.
"This is exactly the issue that is going on in America, of attacks against the conservative movement, against me and against many others," Mr. DeLay said.
Mr. DeLay complained that "the other side" had figured out how "to defeat the conservative movement," by waging personal attacks, linking with liberal organizations and persuading the national news media to report the story. He charged that "the whole syndicate" was "a huge nationwide concerted effort to destroy everything we believe in."
If only we had "figured out how to defeat the conservative movement." And isn't that in the Bible? "They shall accuse you of that which they are guilty of"? Maybe I got it in a fortune cookie. Anyway, if this, or the ethical allegations--or the war, or the deficit, or the economy, or the steroid crisis in Major League Baseball, or the failed attempt to privatize Social Security--from which it is meant to distract us should turn out to be the Republicans' Waterloo, it won't be because Judge Whittemore or any of the other 18 or 19 Florida judges ever had a meeting, in 15 years of deliberation, with the Manhattan Gay Atheist Baby-Murdering Dope-Fiend Consortium (or the Hollywood one). It'll be because the Republicans' unique cancer of sanctimony, arrogance, and corruption has finally eaten out the heart of their party. I certainly hope so, because it's either their party or our democracy.
I, like many of our representatives in Washington, lack a lot of information on the case--specifically any details about Michael Schiavo's legal ability to dissolve their spousal relationship, settle her estate, and move on. But for what it's worth, with admiration for his convictions and for the compassion and dedication he has shown in directing his wife's care over the years, my own feeling is that Schiavo, especially in the absence of children, probably should have left Terri's fate to her parents many, many years ago. But Tom DeLay, Bill Frist, and the Republican Religious Right must be very glad he didn't. Whenever it comes, hers will be the death that keeps on giving.
PK, I have been beaten down by politics since Black Tuesday '04 and I can barely muster a shrug over anything I read but I do admire your ability to still get upset.
Re: Michael Schiavo - He could have divorced Terri at any time, if he desired.
Posted by: Cristina at March 23, 2005 12:29 PM
In case you're interested, I've obtained an advance copy of "Weekend at Bernie's 4" starring Tom DeLay and Bill Frist:
Welcome to the Theocratic States of America! Amen.
Posted by: agitprop at March 24, 2005 7:18 PM