Jeb Bush has no second thoughts about the Schiavo case?

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On the New Hampshire campaign trail last week, Jeb Bush was asked by a voter about his actions as governor of Florida in the Terri Schiavo controversy of more than a decade ago.

Even with the benefit of 10 years’ hindsight, “I don’t think I would have changed anything,” Bush said. “I stayed within the constitutional responsibilities, or authority, that I had.”

That’s just remarkable.  Driven by what amounted to mass political hysteria surrounding Schiavo — hysteria that Bush more than any other person was responsible for creating — the state and federal government intervened directly into what should have been an extremely private if tragic decision. As doctor after doctor said at the time, and as an autopsy later confirmed, Schiavo’s brain had atrophied into liquid after a massive stroke 15 years earlier. For all intents and purpose, she no longer existed. As the courts also repeatedly ruled, Schiavo had expressed the desire to be allowed to die under such circumstances rather than be kept in a permanent vegetative state.

But Bush thought he knew better. He fought Schiavo’s husband, the courts and the doctors at every step of the way, including personally pressuring judges to rule that Schiavo be kept “alive.” After losing his final appeal, Bush pushed special “emergency” legislation through the Florida Legislature that supposedly allowed him to ignore the courts. He then ordered state troopers to take custody of Schiavo’s body so that feeding tubes could be reinserted.

After the Florida Supreme Court unanimously overrode Bush, concluding that the governor had vastly overstepped his bounds, Bush still wasn’t satisfied. He used his influence with his brother’s presidential administration to push the issue into Congress. Another round of “emergency” legislation followed, with President George W. Bush taking the extraordinary step of flying back to Washington from vacation to sign the bill.

Once again, the courts ruled properly that it was unconstitutional to bring the full force of government into such a private sphere, and nature was eventually allowed to take its obvious course. Yet even after Schiavo’s death had seemingly put an end to the circus, Bush was not satisfied. He ordered a criminal investigation into the actions of Schiavo’s husband that of course went nowhere.

In short, it is not remotely true that Bush “stayed within the constitutional responsibilities, or authority, that I had.”

The Schiavo episode was a shameful fever dream, and many of those who got caught up in it later expressed regret for succumbing. Bush, by contrast, says to this day that he would change nothing except the outcome.

In those comments last week, Bush did go on to make the sensible suggestion that people ought to put down, in writing, what medical treatment they wanted or did not want should they become incapacitated. He also took the notion a notable step further.

“I think if we’re going to mandate anything for government, it might be that if you’re going to take Medicare, that you also sign up for an advanced directive where you talk about this before you’re so disabled,” he said.

In 2010, you may recall, President Obama proposed to reimburse doctors under Medicare if they voluntarily took the time to counsel patients on filing end-of-life directives. For that, conservatives swarmed to the attack, bizarrely accusing Obama of wanting to set up “death panels” that would deny medical care to the seriously ill and disabled, including children with Down syndrome.

Bush, a top candidate to be the GOP 2016 presidential nominee, now proposes to make the filing of such a directive a mandatory condition of receiving Medicare, yet so far it hasn’t generated anything like the reaction to the more restrained Obama proposal. The New York Times surmises that the difference “showed how much public opinion has shifted on the subject since” 2010, but I think that explanation assumes a level of rationality that simply isn’t justified.

Instead, the “death panels” hysteria of 2010, like the Schiavo hysteria of 2004-2005, was an eruption of a subterranean, conservative anxiety that is constantly seeking opportunities to vent itself. It is not rational in its source so it is not rational in its expression. Its latest iteration may be the “Christian persecution” theme now popular in some quarters, in which we are told that this is a Christian nation in which, somehow, Christians are its most persecuted minority.

For many Americans that doesn’t make sense, but for millions of others it is experienced sincerely as truth. And in the political realm, believing that it is real makes it real, with potentially real consequences.

Reader Comments 0

912 comments
juliainatlanta
juliainatlanta

the whole Bush family must share that trait, lack of reflection and introspection.

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

US warship heads to Yemeni waters; could block Iran weapons

This should make the nuke talks really interesting.

RaindroidWillBoy
RaindroidWillBoy

@IReportYouWhine#1


Why didn't she take her sunglasses off and mingle with the people while sucking down burrito bowl?  Looking incognito while "getting to hear the middle class voters is a bad sign

1stTruthOMeter
1stTruthOMeter

Mark my words, the GOP will trot out every progressive idea that makes sense, and most do, and re-gift them as GOP originals. They are working on Healthcare and next will be advance directives. Any sane person who has had to deal with an aging family member who did not have an advanced directive or will, knows what a headache this can be.

Paul42
Paul42

Yes Jesus Can

Your out for not addressing any of Jay's points is to ask "What points? "

You really read through a piece and think Jay's not making any points?

O-kaaaaay.

These points:

“After losing his final appeal, Bush pushed special “emergency” legislation through the Florida Legislature that supposedly allowed him to ignore the courts…After the Florida Supreme Court unanimously overrode Bush, concluding that the governor had vastly overstepped his bounds, Bush still wasn’t satisfied.”

“In short, it is not remotely true that Bush “stayed within the constitutional responsibilities, or authority, that I had.”

“Bush, a top candidate to be the GOP 2016 presidential nominee, now proposes to make the filing of such a directive a mandatory condition of receiving Medicare, yet so far it hasn’t generated anything like the reaction to the more restrained Obama proposal. “

gotalife
gotalife

Hillary is strong on national security.

IReportYouWhine#1
IReportYouWhine#1

@gotalife In the 180 degree opposite of reality world of liberalism, "strong" stands for "clueless."


But I'm sure she'll have a thousand kommittees working on it, uh huh.

moonbat_betty
moonbat_betty

@gotalife

Even with a two term President as her husband and confidant, she was still worthless as a Senator and SoS.

moonbat_betty
moonbat_betty

Does anyone think Hillary consulted Bill before the Iraq War Resolution vote?

JamVet
JamVet

Yes, all white cops are out there gunning young black men down: 

The race baiter Al Sharpton's, AJC counterpart pontificates...

gotalife
gotalife

No WMD's in Iraq and no nukes in Iran.


The gop are trying to lie to get another war.


Never ever trust them.


Never again.

gotalife
gotalife

Poll numbers are looking great for Hillary.


No other pol can beat her besides the President.


He is term limited.

Yes_Jesus_Can
Yes_Jesus_Can

@Starik @gotalife 

Mrs. mendacity can't even speak in public.  The only way she could win would be to insulate here with a phalanx of reporters with microphones pointing outward asking her opponents why they would dare oppose the first woman candidate--we've seen the like of it before. 

Even then, Hillary is too stiff and phony.  Mrs. Mendacity won't make even an inspiring showing in swing states.  She's like an old shoe--ready to be tossed out. 

Tuna Meowt
Tuna Meowt

@Yes_Jesus_Can @Starik @gotalife "The only way she could win would be to insulate here with a phalanx of reporters with microphones pointing outward asking her opponents why they would dare oppose the first woman candidate--we've seen the like of it before."


When the McCain campaign hid Sarah Palin from reporters and press conferences for week after week?


Oyeah.

JamVet
JamVet

We are talking about a gang of Republicans that is so corrupt, blind and incompetent that they couldn't find a WMD if it was in the back seat of their car.

How they can win the White House for another number of years will be a real head scratcher...

gotalife
gotalife

@JamVet Iran's leader said their nukes is a myth too. Using the w disaster against us. Smart move.

Yes_Jesus_Can
Yes_Jesus_Can

@JamVet 

Right, just when the discussion turns to the real issues, there is a democratic demagogue out there yelling white trash!!!, but you wouldn't claim to know anything about that, would you, PaJammy?

Don't know how republicans could ever win back the congress, what with the lapdog media begging for a burrito with mrs. mendacity.  Oh wait...

Yes_Jesus_Can
Yes_Jesus_Can

@gotalife @JamVet 

So, you're congratulating the Iranians that have said death to America recently for manipulating American public opinion to gain advantage in negotiations with our bamster...  Wow.   

You TRULY are daft, goat.  You live lies and occasionally accidentally bump into the truth--Amazing.  A better confession of obama's incompetence and uselessness on the world stage I could never have hoped to find today. 

Many, many thanks. 

Yes_Jesus_Can
Yes_Jesus_Can

@JamVet @Yes_Jesus_Can @gotalife 

Didn't know goat was moonlighting as a blustering leftist racial expert, along with his one-liner personality too. 

Come on, Cupcake.  Care to prove my emnity, violent thoughts, unholiness, or are you up to your old habits, saying things that aren't true--while calling me a public disgrace to Christ for telling you what IS true? 

John 18:37

Yes_Jesus_Can
Yes_Jesus_Can

@gotalife @Yes_Jesus_Can @JamVet 

You don't care, huh? 

Well, I appreciate you writing two sentences dedicated to telling me what you think of me.  That's at least one more sentence than I've ever seen you write in one post. 

For the record, I do care about you. 

JamVet
JamVet

@Yes_Jesus_Can @gotalife @JamVet 

You're welcome, son.

And one day when you can blog like you are not a petulant, intellectually lazy 15 year old, that will be cause for your congratulations!

Never mind that you are a public disgrace to all Christians who suffer through your wholly unholy, enmity and violence laden thoughts and malignantly anti-Jesus leanings.

But you are doing a heckuva job, doing his work by spreading his glorious words and gathering converts for him!

Racial and religious hatred from the cross, thy name is a troll...