Thursday, March 24, 2005

"Great Political Issue"

The number one news story of the past few days is whether or not Terry Schiavo, the woman in Florida who is considered to be in a "vegetative state," should be taken off life support and allowed to die. I have chosen not to discuss issues about this case because to me it is a page 30 story and not a front page one, and it's prioritizing by the American press shows what kind of condition the American press is in--not good. To further aggravate this outlandish emphasis on a non-important story, Congress over the weekend played out the unusual and absurd circus of voting on a law, at midnight no less, which they knew the courts would not listen to. Then Bush was awakened in his jammies to sign this junk, simply to make this issue a banner for the Republican so-called "morals and values" hammering-home to the numb sheep of the public willing to be swayed.

So, you ask, why am I discussing this now that I said that those who do bring this story to the forefront are simply gossip-mongers and silly? I received an email from yesterday which referred to this debacle of a misuse of legislative power and resources, and said that a memo was circulated among the Republican members of congress regarding taking up the Schiavo "cause." The Moveon email said that ABC News had uncovered this memo. The specific mention on the ABC web site is as follows:

"ABC News obtained talking points circulated among Senate Republicans explaining why they should vote to intervene in the Schiavo case. Among them, that it is an important moral issue and the 'pro-life base will be excited,' and that it is a 'great political issue...this is a tough issue for Democrats.' "

Moveon's email characterized the use of this memo: "This story also takes the heat off Tom DeLay, who is facing a number of serious ethics charges and legal scandals." Frist and Delay also condemned the memo, naturally.

The point of bringing this up today is to make sure we all are aware that this congress, and this president and his administration, are not working for us as public servants, but in fact are working for the big donors who paid to put them in office. These big money businesses and individuals may or may not have interests that coincide with the rest of us. As Arianna Huffington stated in her column this week, when congress and the president gave favorable dispensation and legislation to the auto and oil industries, it didn't help Joe Doaks and his family out there trying to keep up with increasing gas prices and everything else that's gotten tossed aside:

"And our leaders in Washington--their pockets stuffed with oil, gas and auto-industry donations--have been willing accomplices in this financial fiasco."

The "smoke and mirrors" game of this Republican administration and congress, which keeps the press and hopefully for them, the rest of us, preoccupied with non-issues such as Schiavo live-or-die, Social Security, and morals and values, instead of the real problems facing this country, like poverty, racism, war in Iraq, underfunding of our schools and on and on--it's working as long as we the public, who are not being properly served, let it.

Today's column from the New York Times by Frank Rich, "The God Racket, From DeMille to DeLay," is well-documented and clever in dredging up and out what is the problem with combining morality, politics, and religion. My favorite quote refers to what percentage of our fellow Americans really relate to these fundamentalist Christian views in light of the Schiavo case:

"All this is happening while polls consistently show that at most a fifth of the country subscribes to the religious views of those in the Republican base whom even George Will, speaking last Sunday on ABC's "This Week," acknowledged may be considered 'extremists.' "

Mr. Rich's entire column is worth digesting. Just as Emperor Claudius said, "Let all the poisons come out," maybe if it gets worse, and these arrogant, non-responsive elected officials make more glaring mistakes, and really, truly, "the poisons come out..." maybe they'll bring themselves down. Even so, our vigilance is still required.


  1. Dismissing the save Schiavo people is a mistake. So is suggesting that the courts are protecting Schiavo's right to die. Living wills are great in principle, except they make it impossible to change your mind. You might be trapped in a body unable to communicate. What do you then do if someone is about to kill you in fullfillment of your wishes. If you want to know how harrowing this issue can be, check out Linn Ullmann's new novel GRACE. Everyone interested in the Schiavo case should read it before deciding.

  2. Very thoughtful remarks. The intent was not to dismiss the "save the Schiavo" people. I am concerned with the intensity and emphasis on this issue instead of the greater challenges which affect all of us. The Schiavo story belongs in a tabloid, not the front page of my morning newspaper. The question of living wills and all that surrounds the people involved in the Schiavo situation is a great item to discuss and review. But not at the expense of informing us of the true issues at hand.


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