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Posted by on Mar 21, 2005 in At TMV | 0 comments

Poll: Most Americans Give Thumbs Down On Congress/Presidential Action On Schiavo

The question now becomes: “Do we have a Teflon Congress and President?” as a new poll shows Americans overwhelmingly give thumbs down on Congress and the President’s stance on getting the federal government involved in the controversy over whether Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube should be removed or not.

ABC News reports:

The public, by 63 percent-28 percent, supports the removal of Schiavo’s feeding tube, and by a 25-point margin opposes a law mandating federal review of her case. Congress passed such legislation and President Bush signed it early today.

That legislative action is distinctly unpopular: Not only do 60 percent oppose it, more — 70 percent — call it inappropriate for Congress to get involved in this way. And by a lopsided 67 percent-19 percent, most think the elected officials trying to keep Schiavo alive are doing so more for political advantage than out of concern for her or for the principles involved.

This ABC News poll also finds that the Schiavo case has prompted an enormous level of personal discussion: Half of Americans say that as a direct result of hearing about this case, they’ve spoken with friends or family members about what they’d want done if they were in a similar condition. Nearly eight in 10 would not want to be kept alive.

We must note that we just heard on a radio talk show a tape of her parents asking their daughter a question and her giving what sounded like answers in grunts. That certainly sounded responsive. But we still must ask these questions:

  1. Is this a case of politicians leading or politicians pandering to one powerful constituency? If the public is overwhelmingly against it, are politicians therefore ignoring the country’s opinion or do they have a duty to try and change it on a complicated ethical issue as leaders?
  2. We are still puzzled why President George Bush FLEW to the White House to sign his bill. Some say he had to be there. Others note that it would have been just as easy for the bill to have been flown to him to sign in Texas. If the latter is indeed true, we assume the President could have arranged for a plane to have it sent to him. If not, we’re then curious as to other documented cases where GWB cut short a Texas stay to rush back to Washington to be there for a vital issue. What times were there during his term when there were crisis (domestic and foreign) or warnings about major controversies or dangers to the United States? Did he fly back then? If not, why not then and why now?
  3. Do all of the above questions matter? They SHOULD since this is being framed as an issue of supreme conscience — which assumes that those acting in this manner are sincere.

Although most of what is surfacing now is about this case and those who support buying Schiavo more time, Congress and the White House are coming in for some sharp criticism today as well.

In a stinging editorial the Los Angeles Times says the action is “what amounts to a constitutional coup d’etat.” Read the whole argument, but here is a small taste:

Conservatives are the historical defenders of states’ rights, and the supposed proponents of keeping big government out of people’s lives, but this case once again shows that some social conservatives are happy to see the federal government acquire Stalinist proportions when imposing their morality on the rest of the country. So breathtaking was this attempted usurpation of power, wresting jurisdiction over a right-to-die case away from Florida’s judiciary, that Republican leaders in the end had to agree to limit this legislation’s applicability to the Schiavo case.

In other words, according to the bill passed by the Senate Sunday afternoon, and which the House passed after midnight, among all the cases of patients in a persistent vegetative state nationwide, Terri Schiavo’s case is the only one in which parents are able to have a federal court review state court rulings on the fate of their loved one.

The long editorial ends with this:

Federal judges, regarded with contempt by moral conservatives on other issues, are being dragged into another swamp. No decision they make in the Schiavo case and those certain to follow can be the right one.

Buzzmachine’s Jeff Jarvis is similarly blunt:

As Congress and the President rushed into their exploitation of Terri Schiavo, they set off a bomb that will have considerable fallout….

Without incredibly explicit instructions directly from the patient — and even with explicit instructions from the spouse or guardian — I can see doctors and hospitals refusing to take people off life-support for fear that some family member can come forward and start suing….

The Republicans set some odd precedents in matters of state’s rights and government interference in individuals’ lives that may come back to haunt them. You can bet there will be attempts to extend what happened last night as a principle of life into the debate over abortion. You can bet you will not see attempts to extend this principle into the debate over the death penalty, however.

You will see Terri Schiavo continue to be used as a political hostage as any Democrat who dared question the wisdom and legality of this action will be accused by opponents in the next election as being against life.

This is not the result of deliberative government and the rule of law. This is the result of the fog of media and cynical politics.

This debate is JUST BEGINNING as yet another potentially divisive and emotional wedge issue enters our already polarized political scene.