Schiavo Considered

Terry Schiavo, if I understand her condition, is an essentially brain dead woman who has languished in a coma for a decade, who shows little to no hope of ever rediscovering consciousness, and who, even if she did snap to attention, would be so desperately brain damaged that she could never function. Her cerebral cortex is gone, replaced by spinal fluid. The main debate about her condition is whether there are a few living tissues left, or whether there are none; in either case, there's nothing near what is required for any level of higher cognitive function. Her condition, short of an act of God, is irreparable, her mental command center gone. And yet, she's been kept alive for 10 years, running through a variety of hospitals and tests and assisted living mechanisms, absorbing an enormous amount of money in what is truly a hopeless cause.

So, in the same week that most Republicans voted for Medicaid cuts that would destroy health care for tens of thousands who could use and benefit from it, and under many of the same lawmakers who proved themselves ideologically determined to keep government out of medicine, and in a party that lauds the primacy of states rights, these same legislators are putting aside all their ideologies and all their anti-government biases in order to ensure a hopeless case continues chewing up money that could be far better spent on other people, on other things. Terry Schiavo has gone from a brain-dead woman to a political prop, a living vegetable that has somehow wedged itself between the Republican party's beliefs and constituencies, and proven decisively that their constituencies win that confrontation. Were I a Republican, watching Tom DeLay desperately clinging to a brain-dead woman's leg in order to deflect attention from his scandals, or seeing Bill Frist release smug press releases with smiling pictures of him next to text bragging about wheeling Schiavo into court, I think I'd be ill.

And now we're seeing talking points released, giving up the whole damn game:

ABC News has obtained talking points circulated among Republican senators explaining why they should vote to intervene in the Schiavo case. Among them: "This is an important moral issue and the pro-life base will be excited..." and "This is a great political issue... this is a tough issue for Democrats."

Grand Old Party indeed.