Public opinion polls on the Schiavo matter have consistently shown that most Americans believe her feeding tube should have been removed. Admittedly, few have more than a limited knowledge of Schiavo's circumstances. Nevertheless, these are strong polling numbers. They fly in the face of the conventional wisdom emanating from many political experts.
Former Congressman Bob Barr is known as a dyed-in-the-wool Republican. He also believes excessive federal intervention on the Schiavo affair is bad for his party and the United States.
"Congress interjecting itself into a state court case at the eleventh hour, and passing emergency legislation offering one person access to the federal court contrary to long-standing precedent, itself sets a troubling precedent. It will severely weaken future congressional efforts to respect principles of federalism and separation of powers," he told me.
There is much to be said for simply doing what one believes is right. As a casual observer of the Schiavo situation, I give the benefit of the doubt to the suffering parents who want to keep their daughter alive. We should all believe that miracles can and do happen. Some media have dressed up Schiavo's husband as the biggest victim outside of Terri herself. To me, he doesn't invite such a sympathetic portrait.
All of that must be put aside when analyzing long-term political implications and strategy. Over the past few years, Republican legislators and Congress appear to be running contrary to perhaps the most important precept of the GOP and conservative movements. We are seeing more and more intervening, regulating and imposing of new policies at every turn.
Much of it arises from the necessary reaction to Sept. 11, or a response to Enron and similar corporate scandals.
Still, Republican legislators and lawmakers need to step back and closely examine whether many of these actions are truly rooted in the philosophy of less government and more personal responsibility, or whether they are in fact sops to special interest groups and narrow (but significant) voting blocs whose electoral clout may eventually fade.
Whatever the reason or justification, it seems that practically every day brings the nation new requirements, rules, regulations and programs that further complicate and invade our private lives.
Republicans need to keep in mind that the public's mood can turn. Americans may wake up one day and suddenly say they've had enough of what once seemed to be a good thing.