John Leo

The behavior of conservatives. Uneven and sometimes awful, with lots of vituperation and extreme charges. (Jeb Bush does not remind me of Pontius Pilate; I don?t think it?s fair to circulate rumors that Michael Schiavo was a wife-beater.) Worse were the revolutionary suggestions that the courts be ignored or defied, perhaps by sending in the National Guard to reconnect the tube. This is ?by any means necessary? rhetoric of the radical left, this time let loose by angry conservatives. Where does this rhetoric lead?

The behavior of liberals. Mystifying. While conservative opinion was severely splintered, liberal opinion seemed monolithic: Let her die.
Liberals usually rally to the side of vulnerable people, but not in this case. Democrats talked abstractly about procedures and rules, a reversal of familiar roles. I do not understand why liberal friends defined the issue almost solely in terms of government intruding into family matters. Liberals are famously willing to enter family affairs to defend individual rights, opposing parental-consent laws, for example. Why not here? Nonintervention is morally suspect when there is strong reason to wonder whether the decision-maker in the family has the helpless person?s best interests at heart.
A few liberals broke ranks?10 members of the black caucus, for instance, plus Sen. Tom Harkin, and Ralph Nader, who called the case ?court-imposed homicide.? But such voices were rare. My suspicion is that liberal opinion was guided by smoldering resentment toward President Bush and the rising contempt for religion in general and conservative Christians in particular.

We seem headed for much more conflict between religious and secular Americans.

John Leo

John Leo is editor of and a former contributing editor at U.S. News and World Report.

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