Thursday, March 24, 2005

As The Circus Drags On....


The right wing has adopted a philosophy over the last score of years or so: If something doesn’t go your way, you stand a pretty good chance of changing the outcome if you just keep pounding away at it, bullying and threatening, until the other side either tires of the fight and gives up, or lets down its guard enough for you to ram home the fatal blow. Respect for opposing opinions, the will of the majority, or even the rule of law has no place in their agenda. If an election, a court ruling, or a board decision doesn’t go their way, they believe they have the right, indeed, the duty, to use any means—legal or not—to reverse it. They invoke the law and government when it suits them, and subvert it when it doesn’t.

As the Republican Party has cozied up to the right, it has adopted the same philosophy. And it has served them well. They hounded Bill Clinton’s presidency to death. They changed the outcome of the 2000 presidential election. They nearly ruined John Kerry during the 2004 election with their determination to turn his record of Viet Nam heroism against him. Is it any wonder that they now believe they hold the Godlike powers of life and death in their own hands?

The judicial branch fell into bed with Republican interests once before—in the debacle following the 2000 election. So you can’t really blame right wing Republicans for believing that the courts were now their own personal little lap-dog. Unfortunately for the GOP, it looks like the nation’s courts are working to disabuse them of this notion. Republicans seem to have failed to take into account how jealous each branch of government is of their own set of powers, and woe be to the branch that steps over the line to trample upon the powers of another. The courts, for the most part, understand what their job is, and they don’t take too kindly to the legislative and executive branches trying to exert, shall we say, "undue influence" upon how they do their job. It is to be hoped that they will remain steadfast in their dedication to do their duty as the Constitution of this country has charged them to do it. If they waver, this country is indeed doomed. We should be grateful that there is a body of our government that is charged with protecting our interests without regard to whether they will be re-elected for another term. Leaving politics, to the extent that they can, out of the picture. Yes, there are right-leaning judges, and left-leaning judges, and corrupt judges. But, for the most part, I believe our judicial branch takes its mission very seriously, and strives to make impartial decisions based on the law and the Constitution, and not on current political imperatives.

As such, the courts are remaining consistent in their rulings on the Terri Shiavo case. For the decade that this litigation has been dragging on, the courts have consistently sided with Michael Shiavo. They don’t appear inclined to do otherwise, though Terri Shiavo’s parents are coming up with more and more outrageous points to argue for keeping her alive. Including that allowing her to die would be a mortal sin, and would put her immortal soul in jeopardy. How could they possibly believe that a federal court would touch that issue with a ten-foot pole? I feel sorry for them, I really do. They obviously cannot accept their daughter’s fate and move on. They keep claiming that the doctors are wrong, she’s NOT in a "persistent vegetative state," and that she could "get better" with therapy. They have not accepted, even after fifteen years, that she is what she is, and if they keep her alive, she will be what she is until she dies. If they win, and the feeding tube is reinserted, are they then going to take her home and care for her? Have they got an army of practitioners waiting in the wings to start this miracle therapy that is going to make their daughter better? Are they going to take full responsibility for her? Or are they going to polish up their moral victory and put it in a prominent place on the mantel, while their daughter stays where she is, as she is, on the state’s dime?

And what about the husband? He’s been fighting for her "right to die" for longer than he must have known her as a living, vital, loving partner. At what point do you say, "Honey, I tried my best to do what I thought you would want, but it’s time to let it go. I’m still a young man, and I have to get on with my life." I just can’t help but believe that the fight has become about the fight, and not in any way about what is, was or will be best for Terri Shiavo.

So the struggle rages on, while Ms. Shiavo lingers in a Florida nursing home, her "right to die" being protected, at least temporarily, by our nation’s courts. An advocate for the parents, stationed outside, told reporters, "This is not death with dignity. If Terri were an animal, she would not have to endure this." Very true. If she were an animal, she would have been "put out of her misery" years ago. No, Reverend, do not ask that we treat each other as well as we treat animals, if your stand is that human life must be retained at any cost…

How this must be torturing the right wing faithful! Not Terry Shiavo’s imminent death…but the fact that their tried and true method of politicizing personal tragedy, threatening and beating up politicians, and trampling all over everyone’s rights but their own, has not brought them victory. This will be a new experience for them, to be sure. A lesson maybe they have needed to learn for a long, long time.


  1. Amen on the tactics of the Radical Right!  I think they finally overplayed their hand on this one.  Even some Conservatives and Republicans were left wondering what happened to their party's principles of smaller, less intrusive government, respect for states' rights, etc.  And in polls, everyone except the Kool-Aid drinkers saw this for the cynical political play that it was.

  2. Another excellent job.

  3. The trouble with pushing is that eventually, you get pushed back. Maybe this will be the wake up call the folks in the middle need to tell the hardlineers on both ends to take a long walk off a very short pier.


  4. How can anyone die with dignity when they are in the center of a media circus???

  5. Is it not also interesting these same people are trying to cut Medicaid dollors which are paying alot of this young ladies medical bills and these same people want to put caps on medical liability cases which this young lady received initially for her botched up medical care that put her in this state to begin with?

  6. The whole situation is sad.  I feel for the husband, yet wonder why he does not just divorce her and get on with his life.  I say that fully knowing the answer, and that makes me sad.  Sad but nonjudgemental.  

  7. Without a living will, no one can no what Terri would have wanted.  The whole situation is just so sad.  I don't see this as a right-wing, left-wing issue though.  I mean, I'm a Democrat but I think if it would give her parents comfort to keep her alive, then let her stay alive.  She's not hurting anyone.  Let Michael divorce her and move on with his new partner and two's not like he's really her husband any more at this point.  I just get the feeling that the money plays a bigger issue in this than anyone is admitting.

  8. This bothers me on so many levels, but one seldom mentioned is the other patients who are residing in this hospice. I feel for them & their families that they are caught up in this zoo.
    I actually heard someone suggest on Fox (of course) that Jeb Bush send in state troopers to extract Terri from the hospice. This is insane! And getting worse by the minute.

  9. I think if michal shivo wanted the rights to be her husband then he should of stood beside her and stayed her husband for better or worse..but he didnt he left and started another family with children...In my eyes he relinquenquest his rights as her husband....He is only her husband on paper<by his choice> which will eventually come out why he chooses not to divorce her...and I'm quite sure it will be about money...
    He sayed terri wanted this and that but has no proof just his word so I could say I think you need to be killed because you told me so...this could be totally false or true but if you cant speak for yourself who would know...criminals are not prosecuted on hear say there has to be evidence...there is no evidence for either side..
    Terri is not a animal she is a human is so easy for people to say they need to do this and that....but we cant speak for terri because we are not her...
    i can only hope she cant hear all the crap people are saying...
    donna In TEXAS

  10. Lisa-
    I couln't agree with you more on this issue and your entry. Very well though out and researched by you. There is no dignity left when everyday there is a "new" appeal filed, a "new" document filed, a "new" 'finding' by Jeb Bush and on and on it goes. The reality is that it's gotten so out of control by these crazed republicans who aren't using there "elected" powers appropriatly (confusing church and state-just to name two) that it's having an adverse effect on "their" goal, which is to be martyrs instead of simply letting her go in peace and dignity. These right-wing nut cases are stealing the one thing she has left------dignity in death!

    Thank you Lisa for continuing to write on this issues, I personally very much appreciate it. I try my best to write about it, but for me it sometimes hard as you know. I thank God everyday that my Mother has an Advance Directive and a family who would NOT go against her wishes. But I fear for the future of this issue. Is this going to lead to other cases like Terri Schiavo? Is it going to lead to countless violations of a person's right to die and their dignity in their own death and the government interfering with the dying process? You bet it is!

    Thanks again Lisa,