Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The Great Quandary

Saw on Andrew Sullivan's site that he approved of this William F. Buckley column about Terri Schiavo on National Review Online and I agree with it for the most part.

In the case of Terri Schiavo, orderly thought would have led us to believe that her treatment was the next of kin's to decide. But human concern for Mrs. Schiavo interposed qualifiers: The husband had attached himself to another woman, by whom another family had begun. This suggested a diluted moral, though not legal, authority of the husband. Then the father and the mother of the stricken girl argued to keep her alive — to keep her pulse beating. Terri is not, repeat not, brain dead, though she is unable to communicate. Meanwhile the courts of Florida were guided, or seemed to be, by precedents which treated as relevant only the absence of a living will by Mrs. Schiavo, and the legal recognition of her husband as head of the family. The two considerations estopped any movement by the courts to assume authority, as though she belonged to them.

But that question was not directly accosted by the judge, who said only that Terri's rights had not been abrogated. It was unseemly for critics to compare her end with that of victims of the Nazi regime. There was never a more industrious inquiry, than in the Schiavo case, into the matter of rights formal and inchoate. It is simply wrong, whatever is felt about the eventual abandonment of her by her husband, to use the killing language. She was kept alive for fifteen years, underwent a hundred medical ministrations, all of them in service of an abstraction, which was that she wanted to stay alive. There are laws against force-feeding, and no one will know whether, if she had had the means to convey her will in the matter, she too would have said, Enough.

That's what makes this mess so grievous: The system, as currently constructed, favors the asstackler who wants her dead dead DEAD! The fact that beyond the futile attempts to save her, nothing will be done to step in and stay the execution is a good day for the rule of law and a very, very bad day for Terri and all women with conniving enough husbands to game the system and assassinate their wives in full view and with the total support of the government.

You've come a long way baby!!!

Scrolling down, I see that Sullivan also has been musing about the pending GOP crackup between the Jesus-freak right-wing - AS has a stick up his ass about gay marriage (no pun/slur intended) - and the breath-takingly spendthrift liberals of which Dubya is the chief in this column at the UK Times. A snip:

On social policy the rifts are not as deep, largely because the religious right now all but owns the Republican party. Gone are the days when Ronald Reagan said: “The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralised authority or more individual freedom and this is a pretty general description also of what libertarianism is.”

The Republicans have plans to intervene directly in many people’s lives — spending billions on sexual abstinence education, marriage counselling, anti-drug propaganda, a war on steroids, mentoring programmes for former prisoners, and on and on. Got a problem? Bush’s big government is here to help.

Where Republicans once believed that states should have priority over the federal government, Bush has pushed in the opposite direction. Last week the religious right wanted a federal ruling to prevent a Florida woman in a persistent vegetative state from having her life-support cut off. This is a job for the federal government?

They have overruled state laws on medical cannabis and tried to prevent states from making their own policies on gay civil marriage. In the 1980s Republicans wanted to abolish the federal Department of Education, believing local control was best. Bush has all but ended local control, introduced national standards and added a huge increase in federal spending. No wonder Ted Kennedy, the arch liberal Democratic senator, voted for the bill.

How these contradictions can be resolved is hard to see. Is conservatism now paternalist, spending huge amounts of federal money to guide people into more moral lives? Or is it about restraining government so people can make up their own minds how to live?

Do deficits matter? Is the point of foreign policy the pursuit of national interest or the spread of human freedom? Or are they inextricable? Are tax cuts defensible if accompanied by big spending rises? Is American libertarianism dead? Bush’s four years have put all these questions on the table.

In my view if a Democratic president had Bush’s record, the Republican party would have come close to impeaching him for his adventures in big government, fiscal insanity and foreign policy liberalism. But it swallowed its principles and covered up its differences to keep him (and itself) in power. The consequences are slowly becoming clear.

Allowing for his anger over gay marriage policy, Sullivan is a lot more right than wrong about the state of the Stupid Party and commentators like Hannity need to open a window because they're getting high on their own supply if they think they're not standing on a hill of contradictions. (Can't speak for Rush cuz I've been too busy lately to even check his site for the highlights.)

On his blog, he also writes about "THE CONSERVATIVE CRACK-UP II" in which he grinds his gay marriage axe a bit too much, but also properly calls out the hypocrisy of the RIGHT* in his closing graph:

The case also highlights - in another wonderful irony - how religious right morality even trumps civil marriage. It is simply amazing to hear the advocates of the inviolability of the heterosexual civil marital bond deny Terri Schiavo's legal husband the right to decide his wife's fate, when she cannot decide it for herself. Again, the demands of the religious right pre-empt constitutionalism, federalism, and even the integrity of the family. When conservatism means breaking up the civil bond between a man and his wife, you know it has ceased to be conservative. But we have known that for a long time now. Conservatism is a philosophy without a party in America any more. It has been hijacked by zealots and statists.

Ignore the Jesus-bashing and the point remains - the GOP doesn't believe what it says it does and are merely a statist party who allow God to be mentioned as opposed to the Dems, who are a statist party of atheists and/or minions of Satan.

* While I've been mostly railing about the hypocrisy on the Left, that doesn't mean I don't believe there is hypocrisy on the Right. It's just never really come up before, but in the future, as I have now, I will most certainly beat down the Right for behaving like the Left.

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