I rarely devote two consecutive columns to the same issue. But the tragic case of Terri Schiavo needs some additional light shed upon it.
First, the nation is wrong if it has the impression that Florida is some sort of strange beast whose footsteps are out of sync with the rest of America. Our InsiderAdvantage flash poll conducted late last week revealed that 65 percent of Floridians agreed with the court decisions not to order the reinsertion of Schiavo's feeding tube.
A more far-reaching story remains what I touched on in my last column. The emergency congressional action two weekends ago that tried to save Schiavo's life could potentially have a boomerang political effect on the White House and the Republicans in Congress. My update is that the boomerang has come whizzing back even faster than expected.
Many GOP members of Congress privately groused about being summoned back to Washington in the first place. Doubly annoying to them was that the special weekend session was convened to address an issue that both their philosophical and political guts told them was against many of their most basic Republican instincts.
By the end of last week, the level of consternation among Republicans on Capitol Hill had grown. It had become painfully clear that much of the nation felt Congress had overreached in its actions.
Even more frustrating to Republicans was the verbal beating that Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was taking from fanatical, save Schiavo activists. They urged him to have state law enforcement officers storm Schiavo's hospice and take her into custody. They even accused both President George W. Bush and Jeb Bush of not helping at all!
How absurd. The president flew back to Washington early from vacation to sign the eleventh-hour congressional bill (apparently, we now learn, against his own best instincts). And Gov. Bush used up every reasonable legal resource to save Schiavo, not to mention much of the political capital he had stored up with his GOP-dominated state legislature.
The Bush brothers fell victim to the "no-good-deed-goes-unpunished" syndrome. With self-promotional characters liked longtime "Christian activist" Randall Terry leading the right-wing media assault on the Bushes, it's becoming clearer by the day that the Schiavo situation has spilled over the margins of decent political dissent, and is now at least partly in the province of some who have little regard for the basic rule of law.
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