When Did We Become Rome? The Schiavo Case

Andrew Sullivan —  Jun 14 2011 @ 3:20pm

A reader writes:

It's hard to think about decadent politics and not think about Terri Schiavo.  We argue about the role and place of government, what it can do and what it should do, and what it can't and shouldn't.  And regardless of the morality of the matter, I have a hard time not seeing this as one of the largest and most personally invasive over-reaches of Congress in my short lifetime.

Another writes:

At the time, I was a Republican who had always felt uncomfortable with the Religious Right but thought it functioned merely as a voice of moral perspective rather than a driver of right-wing public policy. The willingness of so many otherwise decent Republicans to so blatantly throw out the Constitution in pursuit of their religious ideology was a revealing moment for me. From that moment on, it seems the GOP has spiraled faster and faster toward a more Christian nationalist vision for America.     


In my mind's eye I can still see W swaggering across the WH lawn, with the helicopter blades still rotating in the background, on his way to sign that bogus special-purpose bill in March 2005.  This was before the worst of Iraq came to light and just months before Katrina, and it was a critical turning point for me. That one act of creating the Terri Schiavo bill gave the lie to all the GOP blather about the horror of government intrusion into the private affairs of individuals ("getting government out of our affairs" is how they parrot it, I think). 

Decisions made by Terri's husband (with primary legal authority, in this case) on the basis of what he knew or believed he knew about Terri's wishes were subjected to repeated, failed local court challenges by her parents, and were then second-guessed publicly for political purposes by the highest levels of government; that was the moment I knew we were doomed.