It's not about the money

Whenever you hear the phrase, 'It's not about the money,' one thing is absolutely certain: it's about the money. Of all the complicated, convoluted, and heart—wrenching aspects of the Terri Schiavo case, one thing that proponents on both sides of the issue have been very quick to point out is that their position has nothing to do with politics. The respective stands taken by the opposing factions are based strictly on the highest principles, they insist. Deference to the rule of law. Reverence for the sanctity of life. But certainly, not politics.

By now, the details of the case are well known: A young woman suffers a debilitating collapse some 15 years ago and is reduced to a semi—conscious state with virtually no hope of recovery. Her husband insists she did not wish to be kept alive in such a condition (although no living will exists) and he moves to end her life support. However, he socially abandons her, moves in with another woman, and fathers two children with that other woman. This takes place under a cloud of unanswered financial questions, casting doubt on his motives since Michael Schiavo, who had already received a million dollars in a 1993 malpractice settlement, apparently stands to benefit again from his wife's death. Further complicating the matter is his standing in society's—and the law's—eyes as her 'husband,' since he is factually an adulterer and has willingly abdicated his role as her primary companion, caregiver, and supporter.

This led to the move by Republicans to bring the matter before Congress so they might give Federal Courts the jurisdiction to review the case. Many Democrats resisted this attempt with disproportionate ferocity, citing fears that the Federal Government shouldn't inject itself into state matters or become involved in the personal affairs of families with respect to their most intimate decisions. However, in a lopsided 203—58 vote, the Congress allowed the Federal jurisdiction to proceed. The 203 yes votes were comprised of 156 Republicans and 47 Democrats, while 5 Republicans and 53 Democrats opposed the measure. Many lawmakers intentionally avoided the vote. NY Democratic representative Gary Ackerman said that he had no intention of participating in such a vote, adding that he felt the entire matter was beyond Congress's purview.

However, many observers feel that Ackerman's stance obscures the real reason that so many Democrats (more than half their Congressional delegation) refused to vote. To vote 'no' would open Democrats up to intense criticism and scrutiny on two fronts. First, a no vote essentially says that 'No, I personally don't feel that an innocent person's life should be extended while we take a closer look at this admittedly complex situation. Just put her to death now.' This would hardly bode well for any member of the so—called 'Party of Tolerance and Compassion.'

However, the even more important political trap for the Democrats springs from the aspects of compassion and sanctity of life that the Schiavo issue brings forth as it relates to abortion rights. This is truly a no—win conundrum for the pro—abortion crowd. How can a politician be in favor of protecting the life of an innocent in one instance, but be in favor of ending the life of an innocent in another instance? Most Democrats fear that any move in favor of affording Terri Schiavo some measure of time and compassion weakens their fervent pro—abortion position, and that somehow a vote for Terri's life will come back to either embarrass them or render publicly hypocritical their 'pro—choice' stance. Above all else, the issue of 'choice' is the pre—eminent domestic Democratic issue, and nothing can ever be allowed to interfere or compromise that position. Hence, most Democrats simply avoided taking a public stand altogether.

Commentator/analyst Fred Barnes posed an interesting question last week on a Fox News panel, one that neither centrist Mort Kondracke nor NPR leftists Mara Liason or Juan Williams could answer. Barnes asked, 'What public good is served by Schiavo's death? How does society benefit by the rush to remove her feeding tube?' The question was exquisitely rhetorical; no rational, intelligible answer was forthcoming from the other panel members, much as either no comment or disingenuous fabrications have been forthcoming from Democratic lawmakers.

As it turns out, the Federal judge in the case has refused to order the re—insertion of Terri Schiavo's feeding tube, and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta has affirmed his decision. Despite her parents' willingness to assume all responsibility for her care, it appears as if her erstwhile husband's wishes will be fulfilled. Her expected quick death means the dodging of a political bullet for most Democrats, who will not have to own up to their reluctance to face the 'compassion' issue head—on in an extended public forum. Instead, in a short time, other domestic considerations such as soon—to—be $3.00/gal gasoline will return to the fore, and Democrats will once again be in their far more comfortable position of blaming Republicans for all of society's ills.

Steve Feinstein is a frequent contributor.

Whenever you hear the phrase, 'It's not about the money,' one thing is absolutely certain: it's about the money. Of all the complicated, convoluted, and heart—wrenching aspects of the Terri Schiavo case, one thing that proponents on both sides of the issue have been very quick to point out is that their position has nothing to do with politics. The respective stands taken by the opposing factions are based strictly on the highest principles, they insist. Deference to the rule of law. Reverence for the sanctity of life. But certainly, not politics.

By now, the details of the case are well known: A young woman suffers a debilitating collapse some 15 years ago and is reduced to a semi—conscious state with virtually no hope of recovery. Her husband insists she did not wish to be kept alive in such a condition (although no living will exists) and he moves to end her life support. However, he socially abandons her, moves in with another woman, and fathers two children with that other woman. This takes place under a cloud of unanswered financial questions, casting doubt on his motives since Michael Schiavo, who had already received a million dollars in a 1993 malpractice settlement, apparently stands to benefit again from his wife's death. Further complicating the matter is his standing in society's—and the law's—eyes as her 'husband,' since he is factually an adulterer and has willingly abdicated his role as her primary companion, caregiver, and supporter.

This led to the move by Republicans to bring the matter before Congress so they might give Federal Courts the jurisdiction to review the case. Many Democrats resisted this attempt with disproportionate ferocity, citing fears that the Federal Government shouldn't inject itself into state matters or become involved in the personal affairs of families with respect to their most intimate decisions. However, in a lopsided 203—58 vote, the Congress allowed the Federal jurisdiction to proceed. The 203 yes votes were comprised of 156 Republicans and 47 Democrats, while 5 Republicans and 53 Democrats opposed the measure. Many lawmakers intentionally avoided the vote. NY Democratic representative Gary Ackerman said that he had no intention of participating in such a vote, adding that he felt the entire matter was beyond Congress's purview.

However, many observers feel that Ackerman's stance obscures the real reason that so many Democrats (more than half their Congressional delegation) refused to vote. To vote 'no' would open Democrats up to intense criticism and scrutiny on two fronts. First, a no vote essentially says that 'No, I personally don't feel that an innocent person's life should be extended while we take a closer look at this admittedly complex situation. Just put her to death now.' This would hardly bode well for any member of the so—called 'Party of Tolerance and Compassion.'

However, the even more important political trap for the Democrats springs from the aspects of compassion and sanctity of life that the Schiavo issue brings forth as it relates to abortion rights. This is truly a no—win conundrum for the pro—abortion crowd. How can a politician be in favor of protecting the life of an innocent in one instance, but be in favor of ending the life of an innocent in another instance? Most Democrats fear that any move in favor of affording Terri Schiavo some measure of time and compassion weakens their fervent pro—abortion position, and that somehow a vote for Terri's life will come back to either embarrass them or render publicly hypocritical their 'pro—choice' stance. Above all else, the issue of 'choice' is the pre—eminent domestic Democratic issue, and nothing can ever be allowed to interfere or compromise that position. Hence, most Democrats simply avoided taking a public stand altogether.

Commentator/analyst Fred Barnes posed an interesting question last week on a Fox News panel, one that neither centrist Mort Kondracke nor NPR leftists Mara Liason or Juan Williams could answer. Barnes asked, 'What public good is served by Schiavo's death? How does society benefit by the rush to remove her feeding tube?' The question was exquisitely rhetorical; no rational, intelligible answer was forthcoming from the other panel members, much as either no comment or disingenuous fabrications have been forthcoming from Democratic lawmakers.

As it turns out, the Federal judge in the case has refused to order the re—insertion of Terri Schiavo's feeding tube, and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta has affirmed his decision. Despite her parents' willingness to assume all responsibility for her care, it appears as if her erstwhile husband's wishes will be fulfilled. Her expected quick death means the dodging of a political bullet for most Democrats, who will not have to own up to their reluctance to face the 'compassion' issue head—on in an extended public forum. Instead, in a short time, other domestic considerations such as soon—to—be $3.00/gal gasoline will return to the fore, and Democrats will once again be in their far more comfortable position of blaming Republicans for all of society's ills.

Steve Feinstein is a frequent contributor.