28 March 2005
Machiavelli has an off day
Was the Congressional action to save Terri Schiavo a cynical political ploy? Michael Barone says no:
It is possible that Democrats, if in control, might not have summoned a special session. But this was not a purely partisan issue. Democrats did vote for the bill and made its passage possible. Proceedings in the Senate could have been stopped by a single objection to a unanimous-consent request. No senator objected. Minority Leader Harry Reid cooperated fully with Republicans. In the House, enough Democrats returned from recess to provide the necessary quorum, and 46 Democrats voted for the bill, while 53 voted against.
Were all these Democrats and Republicans acting cynically? I don't think so. Take Sen. Tom Harkin, a liberal Democrat who worked for the measure. Harkin's interest arose from his long concern for the disabled he was a chief sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act and his desire to protect the rights of the incapacitated. Were his views informed by his Roman Catholic faith? I don't know, but what if they were? Legislators are under no obligation to have moral principles entirely divorced from religious beliefs. I can't answer for every member who voted for the bill or against it. But the quality of the debate suggests to me that large majorities on both sides were acting out of reasoned moral conviction more than political calculation.
And besides, the political fallout from the move, if you believe the pollsters, has been almost entirely negative. Evil Genius Karl Rove simply doesn't make this kind of mistake.
If I have any cynicism here, it stems from that dubious "talking points" memo that was somehow passed off as Republican instructions.