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Movie of The Week


Is it me, or is there something made-for-TV-ish about the way politicians are, um, acting in this whole Terri Schiavo drama?
The Palm Sunday Compromise? Coming back from what’s supposed to be a week-long recess away from Washington? You can see it now: A bunch of b-list actors playing Speaker of the House Denny Hastert, Majority Leader Tom Delay and Rep. Barney Frank will take over the Capitol some slow summer afternoon for the re-enactment. The president, as he does from time to time on some of those cheesy pro-military shows, will play himself, rushing back from Crawford, Texas, suit jacket flapping behind him as he strides purposefully down the West Wing portico. He’s saving a woman’s life! The stakes are high! The man is brave!

The whole idea is horrible. Horribly political. For anyone who likes politics, it’s a sad spectacle; a reduction of law making to cheesy melodrama starring a bunch of self-righteous social conservatives falling all over themselves to congratulate themselves for their moral rectitude.
That’s the only reason the Super Supreme Court of the State of Florida (once known as the U.S. House of Representatives) has voted in favor of letting Terry Schiavo’s parents indulge in a new round of judge-shopping at the federal level. What are they going to do if the Florida federal judge decides against them? Keep going to the Supreme Court? What if they fail to win there? Do we have Congressional hearings so each of the 535 non-doctors in Washington can decide this woman’s fate?
What’s even worse: Those in favor of this legislation repeatedly compared their actions to work done to pass the Civil Rights legislation of the 1960′s. Civil Rights legislation was passed for a class of people – not just one person. It took years to enact Civil Rights legislation; it was subject to filibuster in the U.S. Senate by more racist whites and it only got there after years of failed negotiation between state and federal authorities. The law only passed after President Lyndon Johnson decided to apply the political pressure for which he was then justly feared. It cost him – indirectly – his presidency.
More importantly, the Civil Rights laws were passed to legislate public behavior: The behavior of poll workers, public officials, juries and law enforcement. It’s cheapening of the Civil Right movement’s struggle for justice to even start to make the comparison between that abrogation of “due process” and the long and tortuous court proceedings that have surrounded Terry Schiavo’s fate. The political grand-standing and maneuvering for one more court hearing – and they don’t mean just one, they mean the one that goes their way — is a legal and political travesty. It’s bad law. It’s bad politics. And it’s yet one more sign that take-no-prisoners politics has damaged our civil discourse. No good is going to come of this; none at all.

Share  Posted by Chris Nolan at 9:08 AM | Permalink

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