Wednesday, March 23, 2005

What a Connecticut Republican stands for
Last night, I went out for a few drinks with some Republicans from my home town, following a caucus vote (which my side lost, don't ask) on a rules change for our Republican Town Committee. Not surprisingly, the Schiavo case came up. Perhaps a little more surprisingly, everyone seemed to agree with me that they didn't want the woman to die, but that it is absolutely wrong of Congress to intervene. And then, today, I read this quote in the The New York Times, from our congressman: "'My party is demonstrating that they are for states' rights unless they don't like what states are doing,' said Representative Christopher Shays of Connecticut, one of five House Republicans who voted against the bill. 'This couldn't be a more classic case of a state responsibility.'"

One of my good friends who was at the bar last night pointed out, when Shays came up in discussion, that of course he voted against the intervention—he's a Connecticut Republican.

On another note, the article containing this quote comes under the headline "G.O.P. Right Is Splintered on Schiavo Intervention." Now, I ask you, have you ever seen a headline in the New York Times suggesting that the Dems were "splintered" on anything? The usual term is "split," but again we see the editors at the NYT delighting at a little disagreement within the Republican Party, and taking subconscious pot-shots at them all along.


Dave Justus said...

I think this debate does show a fairly signifigant fracture in the Republican party. The religious right by and large feels one way, while the libertarian right feels the opposite.

I expect that if the Republicans maintain power this rift will deepen. Small government proponants and the religious right were natural allies when the government was controled by liberal democrats. If (when?) the religious right, who have no innate reason for supporting small government, tries to enact more of their agenda this could cause a split in the party.

I expect this will only occur if the democrats marginalize themselves enough that they are not only a minority, but unable to even be effective opposition.

RFTR said...

I don't care, honestly. Yes, there's a split, no question. But it's one split, and it is best defined as a split.

Look at the dems, and you see a circus big tent, with everything under the sun jammed in. You want to talk splinter? Look at the way congressional Dems voted for/against and spoke about this legislation, and then spin over to see what DailyKos had to say about it. There are a thousand different opinions. Seems to me that this would be more accurately described as a splinter. Would you like to place bets on when the NYT will refer to the Dems as "splintered" on anything?

(By the way, a Lexis-Nexis search for any article over the past 12 months containing the words "Democrat" and "splinter" returned zero results.)

Irina Tsukerman said...

A party without any internal debate is not a party, but a bunch of sheep. The differences of opinion on the case among Republicans is perfectly understandable.

Tanstaafl said...

I don't think it's even a state's right. What's being fought is the right of a husband to execute medical power of attorney over his wife. It's regrettable that starvation is how she's going to die, but is suffocation better or worse? That's what happens when a ventilator is removed. Yes, Ms. Sciavo has a "right to life". However, that phrase can be dissected into two parts. 1) Her "right" means she has a choice. The only legitimate window into how she would exercise that right is what her husband says she would want. 2) "Life" doesn't have a clear-cut definition. Reasonable people can argue that a "persistant vegetative state" and a near complete deterioration of the cognitive centers of the brain don't really constitute "life". Again, which would Ms. Sciavo prefer, the suffering of starving, or the suffering of being trapped for another 15 years without the ability to communicate or possibly think? The only window we have into that again is what her legal guardian, her husband, tells us.

A "right to life" is not necessarily an "obligation to life". I agree that we should have a culture that "values life", but does that mean that our culture should value it above all other considerations? If that's the case, then we should outlaw all DNRs and force doctors and patients to do everything in their power to prolong life. I hope that's not what those (other than Ms. Sciavo's parents/siblings whose efforts are obviously bourne of concern for her) who are trying to wrangle politics and the law to restore her feeding tube are aiming for. If it is, then they should lay their cards on the table, and see how many of us are willing to stay in the hand.

RFTR said...

I think you're right, James.

But I also think that part of what's at question here is whether or not her husband should retain power of guardianship over his wife when he has such a clear conflict of interest regarding her will.

And I think we need to have a serious discussion about that kind of issue, and about what happens generally in a case where a person does not have a living will. As I've said, it's regrettable that this woman is dying, and the way in which it is happening, but I think that we need to use this not as an occasion to fight over the specifics of this case, but one to consider the precedents that should be established for the future. And I think that the debate should be national, and that the decisions should be made state-by-state.

Rick B said...

Here is my problem. This case has already been lawyered to death. There have been 21 court decisions in Florida courts in the last six years, and every issue has been explored ad nauseum. The so-called conflict of interest that Michael Schiavo is rumored to have does not exist. The funds from the malpractice suit are long gone, and Terri is now being supported on Medicaide and the charity of the Hospice she is in. There is nothing left to inherit.

The facts are clear, the law is clear, and it is a state decision in our federal system. The Rule of Law requires that there be an administrative certainty with regard to government action, and that was achieved in Florida.

So for political reasons, the Congress objected to the result of the procedures of state law and stepped in to overturn those results by legislating (after the decision was made, appealed, and confirmed and appeals to the US Supreme Court were rejected) and abused their power in this case. Congress is catering to the social conservatives, and totally ignoring the Rule of Law.

Look. Terri Schiavo is never going to recover. The very few people who claim otherwise do not have the skill to make that determination and the Florida Courts have considered that. She cannot even achieve the levels of the very worst of alzheimers' sufferers.

Florida courts have reviewed every possible conflict of interest, diagnosis, prognosis, and any other possibility and have properly applied the Florida law to the case. The proper procedures under the Rule of Law have been followed very carefully.

Terri has the right to die with dignity. The current hullabaloo has robbed her of that.

No matter how you look at it, this is a family tragedy. Nothing the courts, politicians, media or bloggers say or do will change the outcome of that tragedy. Terri is gone, and has been for 15 years. She isn't coming back, and keeping her alive on machines does nothing positive for anyone. All that is left now is to let her go and pray for her and the family.

Diane101 said...

Hey Brian, here I am, and I thought I would add this to the mix. A very famous case in the 70's karen Quinlan, she was actually comatose and the parents fought to have her off of life support and the courts refused to do so for years, she was finally taken off respirator and lived until 1997.

Diane101 said...
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