Thursday, March 24, 2005

Kaleidoscope -- Terri Schiavo

1. Andrew Sullivan made a point that I was dancing around:

"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."

2. Krauthammer admitted today that the rights of the husband are paramount to the rights of the parent. Thanks, Charles, since your medical degree seems to give you more credibility than my law degree. But he went on to say that the law ought to be changed. I disagree with him, and all the other people who suddenly suggested that Terri wouldn't mind being divorced (despite no living will on the subject) but would mind have the tube removed.

3. I resent the attempts of people to say what the "liberals" are doing in this matter, or what the "left-wing Hollywood media" is doing. Hollywood has sided with the worst fundamentalism. If we weren't all of us so drunk with Hollywood story telling, we wouldn't be crying our eyes out over the sad story of this poor "girl" in the hospital bed, with her single tear streaming down her face as we go to commercial, with her loyal parents and her cheating husband. We might be less focussed on how this plays out on PG-rated television, and more concerned about what real people might do in these real situations. We might be less concerned about the needs of the one, which is all television can ever show us, and more concerned about what this means for all of us. The answer is too messy for 23 minutes of sitcom time, or even 120 pages of a screenplay.

4. We liberals have definite opinions about this. As you can see, I have about 1,000,000 of them, but don't sit around blaming the liberals for any of this. We lost the election because there aren't so many of us any more. This is a fight between different planks of a ruling party who have to come to grips with what it means to actually be a ruling party, and not a party in opposition.

All the liberal straw men are gone.

In that sense, Andrew Sullivan is wrong. Conservatism, as Rush Limbaugh defines it, which is anything that is not Hillary Clinton, is gone. It has been replaced, perhaps by the Religious Fundamentalism, but more likely by the Republican Party.

Now that the Republican Party has made all these promises to all these constituencies, they have to figure out how to accomodate them all. That is what it means to be a real ruling party, which is what the Republicans are. The Republicans have now won 7 of the last 10 Presidential Elections. They are not who they think they are -- they are not children looting the government candy store until the Democrats come back to their rightful place in Washington. Republicans are the ruling party, and they are the only adults in the room. It is their job to keep the place in order, and execute their vision, whatever that is, and it is their fault if they can't.

No easy way to be free.