The politics of life and death, that is the subject of this evening's "Talking Points Memo."
From the very beginning of this sad story, we have said that medical doctors should be the determining factor in what happens to Terri Schiavo (search). But now it's turned into a political circus and a good guy, bad guy soap opera, as many Americans have chosen sides, sometimes along ideological lines.
Some pro-life forces have made Terri's ordeal into a litmus test on compassion and life affirming values. Some pro-choice people have demanded the federal government stay out of things and want a single state judge to decide life and death.
"Talking Points" believes both sides are wrong. The key piece of evidence is provided by Florida doctors who examined Terri Schiavo and explained her condition to the court, quote:
"Theresa's brain has deteriorated because of the lack of oxygen it suffered a the time of her heart attack...at this point, much of her cerebral cortex is simply gone and has been replaced by cerebral spinal fluid. Medicine cannot cure this condition. Unless an act of God, a true miracle, were to recreate her brain, Theresa will always remain in an unconscious, reflexive state, totally dependent on others..."
Terri's family, of course, is willing to live with that and care for her. Her husband is not.
Now it's impossible for any fair-minded person to make accurate judgments about these people. No one can read their hearts. Terri's family doesn't want to lose her. Her husband says he's fighting for her own wishes that she not be kept alive artificially.
There's very bad blood between the two camps. And that adds another element of confusion to the case.
Enter Congress, who's passed a law affirming the family's right to federal protection. So now the feds will decide the case. Predictably, the left-wing press is aghast. Today "The L.A. Times" blamed the whole thing on those radical right-wingers, calling the new law a "constitutional coup d'etat."
But a funny thing happened on the way to Liberalville. Every one of the liberal senators failed to show up to block the law. And any of them could have. All of them sat it out in a stunning display of partisan silence.
That happened, despite a new ABC News poll that says a majority of Americans agree that Terri Schiavo's 15 years of technological life should be ended.
In the end, that will happen, I believe. The medical evidence is just too overwhelming to justify keeping her on life support at taxpayer expense. But I'm glad Congress stepped up and voted to give her and her family every benefit of the doubt.
All life is worthy. And that should be a defining message for America.
And that's "The Memo."
The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day
Time now for "Most Ridiculous Item of the Day"...
Testimony continues in the Michael Jackson trial, but the singer was again late for court this morning. No reason given, but it looks like he had a tough weekend.
As far as we know, the judge did not sanction Jackson — it could take him six hours to walk into the courtroom — which the judge could have done. He could have sanctioned him. And if you're late, that's an insult to everybody who's on time, unless there's a darn good excuse.
That is not Madame Tussaud's. That is the real Michael Jackson. Ridiculous? Absolutely. Too easy.