Sunday, March 20, 2005

Schiavo Case Reveals Skewed Priorities

Denied the chance to drag the woman in front of Congress, via a subpoena, the House is meeting in emergency session to draft legislation designed to get Terri Schiavo's feeding tube back in, and put her case before a Federal court. The Senate is expected to meet and draft a similar bill, and President Bush is cutting short his trip to his Texas Ranch to return to DC and sign whatever comes out of the compromise. And, in theory, this will buy Mrs. Schiavo a few more weeks (months? years?) of a life she's not even aware of, anymore.

I have to say how nice it is to see Congress being this excited about doing anything. I mean, I expect this kind of rapid action from the Republican House, given their tendency to fast-track pro-business measures before the Democrats can cry foul. But if you watch them go at it, you sort of get the idea they're just going through the motions. ("What, me work?")

But President Bush? Interrupt his vacation?

Keep in mind that this was the same man who didn't care to interrupt his Christmas vacation, much less make a statement, in the wake of last December's horrific Tsunami. I guess the life of one American woman in a persistent vegetative state is more important than the lives of hundreds of thousands of Asian people, and the greatest natural and humanitarian disaster of our lifetime?

(Oh, but we donated a lot of money, later. So that made it okay for Bush not to make any "presumptive" statements in the face of immense tragedy. That wouldn't have been... prudent?)

Also keep in mind that this is the same Senate that can't be bothered to properly investigate our faulty, pre-war Intelligence. I guess the life of one American woman in a persistent vegetative state is more important than the lives of American soldiers, who went to save us from WMDs that just weren't there?

(Oh, but they have Democracy now, just like Hezbollah in Lebanon. So that makes it okay to not care too much. That wouldn't be... patriotic?)

But this is not - repeat, not - a Federal matter. Barring the Supreme Court looking into the matter, which they've elected not to do, it is a matter for the Florida courts to decide. And, for better or for worse, they already have, and ruled in favor of her husband's wishes.

Conservatives like to drone on and on about how the Federal government routinely oversteps its bounds. This is a perfect example, only this time it's the Conservatives, themselves, who are behind the overstepping.

But that's okay, because "This is about defending life," as Press Secretary Scott McClellan put it. Even though all this action - and who knows how many millions of taxpayers' dollars - are bring brought to bear to save the "life" of woman who is, for all intents and purposes, simply not there, anymore. Anywhere from 100% to most of her cerebral cortex has atrophied and been replaced with spinal fluid, and she's been in a persistent vegetative state for the last 15 years.

And that's as perfect a snapshot of the Federal pro-life movement as any. They'll move heaven and earth to stop one brain-dead woman from having her feeding tube removed - and tomorrow, the abortion clinics? - but they won't do that much to improve the quality of life here at home. I mean, we can take care of that ourselves, can't we?

Or can we? One of the major criticisms of capitalism - or its most extreme application, via Libertarianism, at least - is that people don't always make with the charity just because they're being taxed less. It would be nice if Bush I's "thousand points of light" were really out there, doing big favors for tiny people. But I just don't see them, anymore (except for the ones who get arrested for kiddy-diddling).

So if the Federal government's going to go to all this trouble for one woman, who isn't really there anymore, why don't we see this kind of concerted action and Federal oversight applied to people who are here, and need help?

As it is, the Federal Government already has a metric ton of problems on its plate. For example, how's that AIDS cure coming along? Why are we sending millions in foreign aid when people are starving, homeless and stuck below the poverty line right here at home? How's that job creation going, and how are our borders? Hell, how's the dollar, or our trade deficit, or our national debt...?

I could go on, but you've got the idea. But does our Government? Because if pro-life people in the Congress - and our "pro-life" President - really want to grandstand on something, I can think of a number of loose nails for them to bring the Federal hammer down on top of.

And maybe we should start suggesting some. ›


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