Politics: Terri Schiavo Redux
He anunciates very clearly for a man with his head up his ass.
He spent "...an hour or so..." looking at a home video of Ms. Schiavo, and came up with a diagnosis. Not only did he not examine her in person, is he unqualified to make any judgement on her neurological function: he was, after all, a heart surgeon not a neurologist. He apparently spoke to a neurologist, and managed to find one who would like the noteriety of "saving" Ms. Schiavo; kind of like finding a doctor who disputes any smoking-cancer link.
But first and foremost, Frist is a politician. ( Here's some proof of just how much the Republican Party cares about this issue.)
You could see the flop-sweat cascading off of him when he tried to defend incorrect information being taught by abstinence-only sex education programs during a George Strombopolous interview. He didn't want to say they were wrong, because those programs were being taught by a conservative religous contingent, and if they lie to kids it's okay: at least they vote correctly.
But this is insane. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (who compares his massive ethics troubles with the Schiavo case) and House Speaker Dennis Hastert decided (with Senate Majority Leader Frist) to subpoena Ms. Schiavo and her husband. They are to appear before the Health, Education, and Labor committee of the US Senate on March 28. Nothing like a little more grotesquerie, eh? Makes for good television. It is illegal, of course, to prevent someone from appearing at a Senate committee they have been summoned to, meaning if she's not alive at the time, those responsible can be charged with obstruction. But of an anti-climax, isn't it? I expected at least manslaughter chages.
They don't actually expect this to happen; but if it did boy, could this backfire against the Republicans. If it's shown live, and not as an edited videotape, it could well simply be Ms. Schiavo sitting unresponsive in a chair for two hours, which is her normal state. Of course, every twitch and blink would be declared proof of sentience by her parents and siblings, and the tape (carried live on C-SPAN) would be edited down to twenty seconds of Hi-Lites(tm) for stations around the world.
I'm not just picking on Frist as an opportunist in this case. He deserves it, though: in a book he wrote in 1989 (try to get past the cat-killing stuff), he advocated changing the defenition of brain death to include anencephalic babies for organ harvesting. Personally, I support that view, just like I oppose his interference in Ms. Schiavos case now. I think such a decision can only be made by the family and the courts. (Why the courts? Because a neutral party is needed in any issue this emotionally charged.) So his bleating that he is "pro-life" and embraces a "culture of life" rings rather hollow.
President Bush gets a big old heaping of derision, too. Flying out to "Save Terri!"(tm) was grandstanding at its finest: faxes move far quicker, but don't look as good on television. And of course, there's this brilliantly ironic quote from him: "If there's any doubt, one must always err on the side of life." He claimed that this was an "extraordinary and unique" case.
Okay, so he's not up on his medical history, either. This is a surprise?
Never mind his death row history, never mind his penchant for war: this guy has some seriously screwed up priorities. A law he signed, for instance, in 1999 that allows a hospital to remove a customer (you'd rather the term "victim"?) from life support if the HOSPITAL decides there is no hope for improvement. It's a cost-saving measure: the families don't have a choice. Oh, don't worry, it's not right away: the family can transfer the customer to another facility, if they can find one.
Now, there are people who are pushing to "Save Terri!"(tm) by any means possible, including using the army. I'm not kidding. In my other Schiavo post, there's a "Tin Hat" link, which connects to a page with all sorts of special folks proposing special things and telling special stories about this case. With a few lucid exceptions (definition for Bill Frist: it's not Terri), these folks are freaks, and not in a good sense.
If only these folks noticed that the current government of the United States is trying to cut at least $15 Billion from Medicaid. I hate to argue numbers in cases like this, but that's going to affect a lot more people than one family in Florida.
But I guess it doesn't make for very good television.