Monday, March 21, 2005

More Bush overreach
I think that the GOP may regret tossing aside principle and precedent in the Schiavo case. A new poll says that an astounding 70 percent of Americans believe that federal intervention in the case is wrong, and 2/3 believe that this is a stunt conducted by the political right for electoral gain. Hack Republican legislators have seriously overestimated the constituency for interfering in the private medical decisions of ordinary Americans, choosing instead to believe that the handful of blithering, wild-eyed, obscurantist fanatics protesting in Florida represent the majority opinion in this country.

Frist and DeLay's absurd attempt to link this case to the whole "culture of life" campaign has backfired for them in the most embarrassing way. It has backfired because Americans do, contrary to the fulminations of the extreme right, value their privacy and autonomy in life-and-death decisionmaking. But most Americans also rightly recognize the authoritarian precedent being set here, as the legislative branch tramples all over the prerogatives of the judicial branch. There's a name for governments that unilaterally overturn the decisions of the judiciary based on nothing more than political calculation, and folks, that word isn't "democracy." Americans may not believe in evolution, and they may still believe that Iraq was in bed with al-Qaeda, but they do believe in the basic idea of the separation of powers.

Coming on the heels of Bush's slow-motion trouncing on the Social Security front, we can now safely say that it's been a very rocky first two months for Bush's second term. With a clear majority of voters now saying that the Iraq War was a mistake, Bush is in genuine trouble with the electorate. It's just too bad he doesn't have to face them again anytime soon. But thankfully his unprincipled, undemocratic, extremist cronies in Congress do. This idiotic bill, which has now been christened "The Corpse Reanimation and Tent Revival Faith Healing Act of 2005" should be flogged relentlessly by Democrats for the next two years as evidence of GOP contempt for the Constitution and for the principles of democracy. If we can't make political hay out of a case where we're both bloody-well right in principle and on the right side of the Constitution, then we don't deserve to win anything.

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