A letter to Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo advocates that the Democrats' strategy of not putting up any strong interference with the GOP's Schiavo debacle is a good idea:
The Democrats, for once, did exactly the right thing. By letting the Republicans do what they wanted, they have give the American public, at a very crucial time, the opportunity to see the Republicans in all their sleazy glory. The unspoken backdrop of political debate in the country will now be "Look what you get when the Republicans get to do what they want." No one will point to the Democrats to say they were in it too, but if they'd have kept the vote from taking place, some would have pointed to them as against life and none would have seen the courts' utter rejection of Republican over-reaching. Republican pronouncements from authority will e crippled by the obviously manipulative and mistaken pronouncements by Republican doctors in congress on Schiavo's condition. Even conservative Republicans are upset with Delay now. With outcomes so good, why Monday morning quarterback the Democratic leadership? What better result could you hope for?
But this, from the Times, shows the downside of this strategy:
[T]he [Florida] State Senate voted down a proposal to outlaw the removal of feeding tubes from people in a persistent vegetative state who had not left specific written instructions, and whose families could not agree on their fate. The Senate voted 21 to 18 to defeat it.
Senator Daniel Webster, Republican of Winter Garden, who sponsored the measure, said afterward that the Legislature could do no more to change the case.
" This body has spoken," Mr. Webster said. "They are not going to protect Terri Schiavo and they are not interested in doing so - at least the majority is not interested. And that's just the way it is."
It is irrelevant to the Republicans whether they look bad right now, because what they're doing is shoring up their appeal to the fundamentalists and evangelicals who comprise the most important element of their rank-and-file.
While the general public will (I'm certain) soon almost entirely forget the entire issue, and will certainly not remember it as negatively as it is polling at the moment ("Wasn't that the thing were the Republicans tried to stop the Democrats from letting that woman die?," I can hear some "undecided" voter saying once the whole issue has been push-polled and pundited to death once again, just in time for the 2006 mid-terms.), the religious right will not forget, and will once again be content to play its assigned role as the shock troops of the GOP GOTV effort.
Because the Democrats haven't effectively made an issue about it, pointing out that for Congress to interfere as it did is a massive intrusion of Big Daddy Government into the personal affairs of ordinary Americans, and have instead been mostly content to stand by, the right-wing "Culture of Life" spin will be the prevailing meme connected with this event, and that's what'll be remembered if it's remembered at all. (Quick, tell me what the whole Elian Martinez Gonzales thing was all about -- without Googling it, please!)
So what do the Republicans get out of this:
They firm up their connection with the religious right;
They can spin themselves as protecting Life over Death;
They get to beat up on the judiciary; (It's irrelevant whether the targets of their ire deserve it or not, at this point "liberal activist judges" is just as well-accepted a trope as the "liberal Eastern establishment" and the "big liberal media," never mind that none of them are true any more, if they ever were.)
Once the inevitable happens, and Terri Schiavo dies, they get to blame the Democrats for not working with them to "save" her.
And what do the Democrats get from it, having basically not lifted a finger in an effort to re-frame the issue in their own favor:
For a moment, the Republicans are exposed as power-manipulators to the general public;
To some of the more perceptive members of the public (but not too perceptive, or else they would have seen it long before), they are momentarily exposed as hypocrits;
One the whole, I can see what DeLay and Company dove into this issue so completely, as the downside for them (some temporary unpopularity, which has plenty of time to dissipate) seems a relatively good price to pay for the advantages of the upside -- especially when the public's attention wanders, and they forget have much they disapproved of the GOP just weeks before.
Remember, these are the people who were able to smear a decorated war hero with a strong record on national security issues -- you think that spinning Democratic and liberal responsibility for this poor woman's death is going to be difficult for them? As long as the media cooperates (and their coverage of the whole affair indicates that its still along for the ride), they'll have plenty of ammunition to work with and plenty of vectors to work through.
As we've been saying here (and Josh Marshall agreed today), all the Democrats had to say was that the government should stay out of people's sickbeds and let families make their own decisions. That they didn't probably means that they'll get no great long-term advantage from this sorry incident.
I wish that I could say the same about the Republicans.
hostile to science
lacking in empathy
lacking in public spirit
out of control
Thanks to: Breeze, Chuck, Ivan Raikov, Kaiju, Kathy, Roger, Shirley, S.M. Dixon
i've got a little list...
Steven Abrams (Kansas BofE)
Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson
Roger Ailes (FNC)
Alan Bonsell (Dover BofE)
Bill Buckingham (Dover BofE)
George W. Bush
Bruce Chapman (DI)
The Coors Family
William A. Dembski
Leonard Downie (WaPo)
John Gibson (FNC)
Fred Hiatt (WaPo)
James F. Inhofe
Philip E. Johnson
by Joel Pelletier
(click on image for more info)
Stephen C. Meyer (DI)
Judith Miller (ex-NYT)
Sun Myung Moon
Elspeth Reeve (TNR)
Martin Peretz (TNR)
Richard Mellon Scaife
Susan Schmidt (WaPo)
John Solomon (WaPo)
Richard Thompson (TMLC)
Bob Woodward (WaPo)
All the fine sites I've
Be sure to visit them all!!
Arthur C. Clarke
Daniel C. Dennett
Philip K. Dick
Stephen Jay Gould
"The Harder They Come"
Ursula K. LeGuin
The Marx Brothers
Michael C. Penta
Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
"The Red Shoes"
"Singin' in the Rain"
Talking Heads/David Byrne
Hunter S. Thompson
"2001: A Space Odyssey"
If you read unfutz at least once a week, without fail, your teeth will be whiter and your love life more satisfying.
If you read it daily, I will come to your house, kiss you on the forehead, bathe your feet, and cook pancakes for you, with yummy syrup and everything.
(You might want to keep a watch on me, though, just to avoid the syrup ending up on your feet and the pancakes on your forehead.)
Finally, on a more mundane level, since I don't believe that anyone actually reads this stuff, I make this offer: I'll give five bucks to the first person who contacts me and asks for it -- and, believe me, right now five bucks might as well be five hundred, so this is no trivial offer.