The Bully Pulpit

Thursday, March 31, 2005

The Bully Pulpit

We all know about Bush signing the Texas bill in 1999 and Tom DeLay's family "pulling the plug" on his father 1988. Sidney Blumenthal highlights some of the lesser-known examples, revealing the surreal, naked hypocrisy running rampant among the "right-to-life" players in the Schiavo case.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, M.D....had as a doctor pulled the plug on a "regular basis," his staff acknowledged. And in 1989, Frist published a book, "Transplant," in which he stated that anencephalic infants, suffering the same condition as the cortex-dead Schiavo, should be classified as "brain-dead."

Even the Franciscan Brothers of Peace, a ministry numbering only 10 monks, two of whom have appeared as personal counselors to the Schindlers, Schiavo's parents, confronted a crisis when the founder of their group suffered a heart attack and severe brain damage. He was kept alive through a feeding tube, but in 2003, after a dozen years, the monks decided to withdraw his life support.
But more importantly Blumenthal gets to the heart of how this overexposed issue will play in the GOP's not-too-distant future.
The culture war has imploded inside the Republican Party. ...Schiavo has given the religious right an invaluable lever with which to pressure Bush and the Republicans, who can never fully satisfy its demands if they are to sustain a national majority. The inviolability of marriage, states' rights, limited government, respect for the law -- these conservative principles must be cast aside in the struggle for power. Moreover, the Catholic right, a minority within both the American church and the religious right, has used this event to flex its muscles at evangelical Protestants as never before.
A bigger prize looms. The shadow of political blackmail hangs over Bush's Supreme Court nominations. Bush's appointment of justices who meet the approval of the religious right, even if he had intended to appoint them all along, must be interpreted as its triumph in the Schiavo struggle. If he flouts its will, there will be hell for Republicans to pay. Bush has set himself up for appearing terrorized.
Blumenthal is especially right when he says "The Bush administration doesn't have a faith-based initiative; it is a faith-based initiative." But the point is that this will inevitably backfire, the risk of backlash is great, and Bush has given the fanatical right-wing enough rope to hang themselves and him along with them. Here's to hoping that Blumenthal's crystal ball isn't jinxed.

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