In our most cynical moments over the last few days, we began to wonder whether Washington's obsession with the Terry Schiavo case weren't some sort of wag-the-dog distraction from what would otherwise have been a weekend marked with second-anniversary assessments of the Bush administration's adventures in Iraq.
It may have been worse than that. As the New York Times reports this morning, Tom DeLay told a conference organized by the ultra-conservative Family Research Council Friday that God himself handed Republicans the Terry Schiavo issue in order to help further their conservative political agenda -- and to save DeLay from accusations about his own ethical lapses.
"One thing that God has brought to us is Terri Schiavo, to help elevate the visibility of what is going on in America," DeLay says on a tape provided to the Times by Americans United for Separation of Church and State. "This is exactly the issue that is going on in America, of attacks against the conservative movement, against me and against many others."
According to the Times, DeLay said that the "other side" has finally learned how to "defeat the conservative movement" by engaging in personal attacks and persuading the media to report on them. DeLay said the "whole syndicate" -- and by that, we assume he means the reality-based community -- is involved in a "huge nationwide effort to destroy everything we believe in."
With Terri Schiavo, the man once known as "Hot Tub Tom" believes that the religious right finally has a way to turn the fight around. In the morality play that is Washington, we thought that Schiavo was the victim and DeLay was playing her savior. It turns out that we had it exactly wrong.