Just Above Sunset
March 27, 2005 - Propitious Events

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Ah, What oft was thought but ne’er so well expressed.  - See Alexander Pope, Essay on Criticism (pt. II, l. 97) – from 1711 ...


Harold Myerson here pulls together house leader Tom Delay saying people are attacking God, and this vegetative woman and him – same thing.  And Bill Frist, the senate leader, says he watched a few minutes of a years-old videotape and he knows all the previous diagnoses were wrong – the woman is fine.  Hey, he’s a doctor too. 


This summary is clear – “At its topmost ranks, and not only there, the party of Lincoln has become the party of Elmer Gantry.”  Yep.


And somehow, like the 9/11 attacks, these folks were handed a golden opportunity, this brain damaged woman with a flat EKG.  How lucky can you get?  The Aprty of God gets another gift.


Target of Opportunism

Harold Meyerson, The Washington Post, Wednesday, March 23, 2005; Page A15


The opening?


For Tom DeLay, Terri Schiavo came along just in the nick of time. "One thing that God brought to us is Terri Schiavo, to help elevate the visibility of what is going on in America," DeLay told a group of Christian conservatives last Friday.


And what, exactly, is going on in the United States? "Attacks against the conservative movement, against me and against many others," DeLay told his flock. So God has now thrown in with DeLay in his efforts to pack the House ethics committee with his allies so that he no longer need be the subject of the scrutiny and censure of his peers.


I don't think this is what Martin Buber meant when he referred to an "I-Thou" relationship with the Lord, but I could be mistaken.


Okay, DeLay is being a bit odd here.


But Frist?


For Bill Frist, Terri Schiavo came along at an opportune moment. After inspecting some videotapes made by her parents, the doctor announced that the examinations by court-appointed physicians were erroneous in concluding that Schiavo has been in a persistent vegetative state for the past 15 years. He may also have concluded that if getting the jump on the 2008 Republican presidential field required issuing a preposterous diagnosis, that was a small price to pay. Frist isn't running for Neurologist in Chief, after all.


Yeah, well some medical associations are calling for a rebuke – saying responsible doctors do not make diagnoses by watching a years-old edited videotape.  But that’s hard the point, is it?


And the gift for Bush?


For George W. Bush, too, Terri Schiavo came along at a propitious time. All is not well in Bushland. The more the American people hear about the president's Social Security scheme, the more they reject it -- lately by margins approaching 2 to 1. The Bush bills that have been moving through Congress -- tightening up bankruptcy regulations, authorizing drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, limiting consumer lawsuits -- do nothing for the Christian conservatives who helped reelect him. Indeed, the whole Bush economic agenda threatens social conservatives of modest means, as it does anyone of modest means. If signing a bill in his pajamas meant he could rekindle their support, why, that was worth even interrupting his sleep.


Some folks are just lucky.


Meyerson does point out the irony.  He says that “the Medicaid cuts pushed by the White House and passed by House Republicans last week would, if enacted into law, shorten the lives of numerous poor Americans living in conscious, not vegetative states.”   Well, the read a different Bible regarding the poor and helpless.  I guess if the poor are going to inherit the earth then there’s no point in taking care of them now.


But the polls – just like the courts - are against the guys in power.


Bush, Frist, DeLay and the Republican apparat have behaved throughout this episode as if the political advantage clearly belonged to those who satisfied the most die-hard elements of the Christian right. But if polling conducted Sunday by ABC News is even remotely accurate, the Republicans may be badly mistaken. By 63 percent to 28 percent, the public supported the removal of Terri Schiavo's feeding tube, and fully 70 percent opposed the federal government's intervention.


Those rejecting the Republican leadership's position included even Republicans (by a 58 to 39 percent margin) and evangelicals (by a 50 to 44 percent margin).


In their haste to curry favor with the Christian right, the Republican leaders have run roughshod over some very deeply rooted American -- and conservative -- beliefs. Americans tend to believe in their doctors, and in the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship. They believe in spheres of privacy where the state cannot intrude. There's no more distinctly American belief than the right to be left alone by government. Liberals and conservatives differ over which great causes compel a suspension of that right, but both sides of the spectrum acknowledge it axiomatically.


Well, maybe they misused the gift given them, this vegetative woman.




Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
The inclusion of any text from others is quotation
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