March 29, 2005

My Last Words on Terri (Really)...

Neal Boortz made a post yesterday on the potential political implications of this situation that I reproduce here in full. Keep in mind Boortz is a devout Libertarian. (Not that there's anything wrong with that):

"I can't tell you how much I wish this story would just go away ... and that it had never come along in the first place. Believe me, this is territory I would just as soon leave alone on my talk show. Why? Because it involves religion, that's why. Many people who profess strong Christian beliefs seem to feel that any negative statement about any action undertaken by anyone in the name of Christianity constitutes "Christian bashing." It doesn't matter what the Christian activist does or what they say, you simply are not permitted to criticize their actions in any way. To do so is to provide conclusive proof that you are anti-Christian at best, and a Godless atheist at worse.

Let's just take a look at the actions of some of the people protesting outside of Terri Schiavo's hospice. At the end of the street is Triple O Auto. It's an auto repair shop operated by a single father trying to raise two sons. The triple O stands for "On Our Own." Protestors have been parking in the Triple O driveway. When Scotty Jackson, the owner, asked one of the protestors to move his car the man waved his Bible at Scotty, shouted some obscenities and walked off. Criticize this protestor and you're Christian bashing.

Protestors have been demanding that Florida Governor Jeb Bush ignore the rulings of the various courts in this matter and seize Terri Schiavo from the hospice. If you point out that we are a government of law and that it is wrong for someone to ask a government official to ignore the law, you're Christian bashing.

Over the weekend Governor Bush did dispatch a team of State agents in vans to travel to Pinellas Park and take Terri Schiavo into custody. The Pinellas Park police told them that they had better bring a Judge with them or they were going to go away empty handed. If you criticize Governor Bush for his actions, you're Christian Bashing.

If you question the wisdom of a father sending his 10-year-old son to be arrested trying to take water into Terri, you're Christian bashing and you hate God. There are 70 other patients in that hospice. They're all dying. Because of the protestors they can't come outside the hospice to sit in their gardens and enjoy their last Spring. If you say that the protestors are hurting the other dying patients at the hospice, you're Christian bashing.

If you mention that Randall Terry, the Schindler's chief spokesman, has repeatedly called for Christians to conquer America for God and to turn it into a Christian theocracy, you're Christian bashing.

If you tell a woman standing outside of the hospice with a sign that says "rehabilitate Terri," that Terri can't be rehabilitated, you're Christian bashing. If you suggest that the Republican Party is being held hostage by religious extremists ... you guessed it. You're Christian bashing.

This story will not die after Terri Schiavo passes away. Republicans will be feeling the repercussions for some time to come. Randall Terry will be sad to discover that the majority of Americans don't want a Christian Theocracy. They want to live in a society where people are free to practice their religion as they see fit, but where they are not free to use the police power of government to impose their religious beliefs on other people. Most Americans now realize that Terri Schiavo has already been kidnapped. Jeb Bush would have been too late. She's been kidnapped by religious extremists and the anti-abortion movement. To point this out is, of course, to engage in Christian bashing.

Most Americans don't want complete strangers to be able to use the police power of government to interfere with their wishes as to how their final days should play out. They are overwhelmingly disgusted with the eagerness of the Republican Party to pass one specific law relating to one specific issue with one specific individual ... all to pander to the anti-abortion movement. This is not something they will soon forget.

Have you stopped for a moment to consider the long-term consequences of the Republican Party's fawning over these religious extremists? Watch President Bush's judicial nominees. Watch the Democrats use the Schiavo matter to illustrate what might happen to other Americans if Bush's nominees are confirmed. And watch the congressional elections next year. If it's close, and if the Republicans lose their majority, look back to the crowd gathered since last week in Pinellas Park for an explanation. That, too, is Christian bashing."

Let me be upfront in agreeing with Boortz that - at this point - the collective group of "pro-Terri" protesters have dwindled down to the ones who will not be satisfied unless Jeb Bush defies the courts and has the Florida National Guard whisk her away to an undisclosed location (a la Elian Gonzalez). The folks who have pushed for what's in the best interest of Terri have accepted the reality of the situation and have since gone home.

The ones that remain do believe, as Boortz says, that "you simply are not permitted to criticize their actions in any way." They are as guilty as the Left-wing extremists are of being unjustifiably indignant when they encounter anyone who doesn't agree with them. Like the Liberals I talk about in this post, the people that hold up signs that say "Barbara Bush: Are you proud of your sons now?" hold to their position on the premise that they hold the moral high ground and that's good enough to prove that their right. And while I don't doubt that they care about Terri Shiavo's life, their motivation at this point is primarily politically-driven.

Now, I have no doubt that there are some folks out there who may have soured on the Republicans as a result of this matter, but I don't agree with Boortz that it will have a significant impact.

  • First of all, while the act of Congress may seem "extreme" to some (especially those who are hyper-sensitive to anything the Federal government does), I don't think that it appears that way to most people, even the ones that disagree with the act itself.
  • Second, while it can be argued that it was politically motivated and merely "pandering" to Fundamentalist groups, the fact that these groups have now publicly turned on the President, Governor Bush and the Congress for not "doing enough" shows that they do not wield the control that the Left would like to claim.
  • And third, like the Elian Gonzalez fiasco, the intensity of this situation that has people on both sides of the issue worked up into a frenzy will subside by 2006. Most voters regardless of where they fall on the political spectrum will not be focused on March 2005 when they go to the voting booth.
I do however agree with Boortz that this will become fodder for the Democrats in their opposition to President Bush's nominees. But considering how measured Bush's actual involvement has been, such attempts to taint his nominees as "extremist" judges who will subvert the will of the States toward a fundamentalist agenda will not likely be very effective.

Boortz's comments speak to a broader concern of his, which is what he sees as "the Republican Party's fawning over these religious extremists". It is part of the natural volatility that comes with holding together a large and diverse political coalition. The Libertarians don't trust the "Christers", the Fundamentalist Christians don't trust the "pro-choice" moderates, the supply-siders don't trust the big spenders, paleo-cons don't trust the neocons, etc, etc., etc.

However, I think once the excitement dies down over time that cooler heads will prevail and the big picture will come slowly back into view for the GOP. This is what you have to deal with when you're in the majority.

Believe me, the Democrats would love to have our problems.

Posted by: Gary at 06:57 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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