There has already been an inordinate amount of ink spilled on the case of Theresa Schiavo, but I’d like to take the time to look at the bigger picture. Specifically, it’s worth talking about the unpopular and misguided decisions made by our elected leaders in the Congress and the White House. Under different circumstances, I might have some respect for the men and women who are sticking to their convictions on this cause, despite the disapproval of the public, but they are making a mistake, and deserve to be called on it.
Worst of all has been Tom DeLay. The majority leader of the House has embraced the “Terri Cause” wholeheartedly, perhaps trying to soften his image as “The Hammer.” No matter that the entire Congress intervening in the case of a single woman would seem to violate all the principals he holds dear. States’ rights are only useful to the Republicans when the states aren’t doing something Tom and the President don’t like.
I’ll let DeLay speak for himself: “The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behaviors.” Excuse me? The men responsible include many Republicans, not to mention several conservative Supreme Court Justices. They were appointed by many different Presidents over many years, and all of them looked carefully at this case before making their rulings. I’m sorry that the ruling didn’t come out the way DeLay wanted (no, I’m not), but that’s life.
Far from a being a failure, the judicial system did exactly the right thing: it ruled on the actual evidence in the case, not hearsay and selective video clips. Senator Bill Frist felt confident enough after watching a bit of video—having never even seen the woman in person—to question the diagnosis of the doctors who have worked with her for years, but that’s OK. You don’t need to act like a real doctor as long as you act like one on TV.
More from DeLay on husband Michael Schiavo: “I don’t have a whole lot of respect for a man that has treated this woman this way. What kind of man is he?” Oh, I don’t know, the kind of man who stood by his wife for over a decade, doing everything in his power to help her, working tirelessly to restore her, and when that failed, made the difficult decision to respect her wishes and remove her feeding tube.
What kind of man is Tom DeLay for perpetuating the lies and disinformation that have spread around this case? What kind of man is he to accuse a devoted husband of misdeeds and to implicitly endorse the threatening of judges’ lives? What happened to the Republican devotion to the sanctity of marriage? I would think that Michael Schiavo would be in the best position to judge what his wife wanted. This is why there’s been so much effort to tear him down, to accuse him of abuse, to make him out to be a demon. If he’s a loving husband—as all evidence says he is—then we are more likely to trust his judgment in this case.
Most ironic are DeLay’s protests that his own part in removing his father’s life-support some years ago is not relevant to this case. He’s exactly right! Each case like this is unique, with differing circumstances and issues. What’s important, however, is that his family had the right to make that decision. That they made it unanimously is not at issue, because in the Schiavo case, the right steps were taken to resolve the family dispute. What is important is that DeLay’s family had the right to make that decision, without Congress and the President barking over their shoulder.
What I find most objectionable is the new catch phrase being bandied about by the opportunistic ghouls on Capitol Hill and in the White House: culture of life. Sadly, the right to this “culture of life” apparently only applies when you’re already on death’s door. Otherwise, President Bush and the Congressional Republicans have fought tirelessly to reduce our culture of life.
If they care so much about life, why aren’t they having special legislative sessions for other matters? Congress and the President could pass a workable universal health care plan (or at least try). They could stop slashing funding for preventative care (the kind that might have stopped Terri Schiavo from ever damaging her brain). They could stop executing prisoners, because if life is sacred and if no one but God can take a life, who are we to make that judgment for Him?
They could make sure that no one in the United States or the rest of the world goes hungry or undernourished. They could increase funding to combat diseases that kill millions, such as malaria, dysentery, AIDS, and cancer. (Yes, we’re already spending a lot on many of them, but we could always spend more.) They could even stop invading other countries that, as it turns out, pose no threat to us.
Will Congress and the President do any of this? Don’t hold your breath. They’d rather bloviate and grandstand and come in for a special session and pretend to care. They’d rather force their way into a private matter where they did not belong. For shame.