The Republican Party's Terri Schiavo "meltdown"?

Numerous bloggers, many of them conservatives, continue to blast the Bush administration over the Schiavo case -- and see a Republican Party in big trouble.

By Mark Follman
March 25, 2005 3:02AM (UTC)
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Jeff Jarvis has a good roundup of bloggers weighing in on the Schiavo case again today, with some speculation of a full-scale "GOP meltdown". "There's increasing buzz among -- what should I call them? nonleftist? -- commentators that the Republican party is splitting over the Schiavo case," Jarvis writes. "I'm not sure the -- what should I call them? progressive? -- other side should start singing 'Ding Dong, The Witch Is Dead' quite yet. Bush has Teflon. I don't think Congress does, though. Nonetheless, there are clear issues of inconsistency and ideology for the right: fights over whether religion trumps political philosophy."

A few notable excerpts:

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Andrew Sullivan: "It's been clear now for a while that the religious right controls the base of the Republican party, and that fiscal left-liberals control its spending policy. That's how you develop a platform that supports massive increases in debt and amending the Constitution for religious right social policy objectives. But the Schiavo case is breaking new ground ... 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."

Mark Daniels: "In taking jurisdiction over Terri Schiavo's case from the state courts, where conservative Republicans would have previously said it belonged, and handing it to federal judges, the Republican Party arrogated to the federal government breathtaking new powers that would have made Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan wince."

Glenn Reynolds: "National security is the glue that has held Bush's coalition together. The war isn't over, and we haven't won yet, but it's going well, and [the Schiavo case] is allowing the divisions to show. All of the people I've quoted are on the right, and they're all unhappy."

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Joe Gandelman: "The genie is now out of the bottle: this wing of the GOP is at variance with process conservatives and many libertarians -- and is defining the party as the party of theocracy."

And there's more out there today from right-winger Neal Boortz (he's been savaging Bush and his religious-right backers for several days), who has a rather-odd sounding answer to a question aired by Rush Limbaugh yesterday.

"Why do you liberals want Terri Schiavo to die?" Rush asked on his show.

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"I'm on the opposite side of this issue from Rush, Hannity, Liddy and most of my not-liberal talk radio colleagues," Boortz replies. "Rush's question deserves an answer. Not some glib response, but an honest, heartfelt answer. So,... here's mine. I want Terri Schiavo to die because I believe she's earned it."

Boortz waxes transcendental from there... but he also took time to weigh in on public opinion, sounding the same note as the others above: "Across America there are thousands of families who have faced similar situations and made their difficult decisions without political interference. There are tens of millions more who have expressed their wishes, both in writing and in words, that they never be kept alive in this manner. Now these people are watching this hideous spectacle of politicians plotting the literal kidnapping of Terri Schiavo ... to please a powerful political constituency, the antiabortion lobby. Maybe it's just me, but I don't think that there are many people out there who, when faced with medical disaster, want to be turned over to politicians to be used as political pawns. I'm wondering if these people will be anxious to keep Republicans in power."


Mark Follman

Mark Follman is Salon's deputy news editor. Read his other articles here.

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