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Schindler's List.

It's Rathergate all over again, and the same vigilant entities that brought about to the collapse of CBS News could now also cause heads to roll among Democratic Senate leadership staffers and further shame multiple news organizations that would appear to have fallen for another document hoax.

So writes The American Spectator.

An emerging scandal in all of this Terri Schiavo back-and-forth is the potential redux of Memogate. The elite media have been parading around this so-called "Republican memo" on Terri Schiavo, as if saving her life was really just a part of a cynical political game, electoral grandstanding for the moral values crowd. Well, as usual, turns out the memo was thoroughly misrepresented by a throughly biased media. Thank goodness for the dogged bloggers over at Powerline. They have extensive coverage (in chronological order) here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Fishkite blog has a nice timeline of the events.

On Wednesday evening (March 23, 2005), WILLisms.com received an email from moveon.org (ironically, a crass fundraising solicitation), including this line:

Bush, Frist, and DeLay claim that they're acting out of concern for Ms. Schiavo. But a memo intended only for Republican Senators—uncovered by ABC News—reveals Republicans' true concern: "The pro-life base will be excited...this is a great political issue...this is a tough issue for Democrats."[2]....

[2] GOP Talking Points on Terri Schiavo, ABC News

Clearly, this alleged memo is making the rounds and having an impact on the fight to save Terri. Democrats are pouncing on the mysterious (and increasingly fraudulent-seeming) memo to paint the impression that Republicans are attempting to score cheap political points. Liberal bloggers dutifully point to polling data showing the American public turning against further intervention in the matter, and showing that most Americans believe Congress was just advancing a political agenda.

The media coverage and push-polling in this case have been egregious. The elite media, even Fox News, have consistently misrepresented the facts, portraying Terri Schiavo as a brain-dead vegetable on life support (when, in fact, she is very aware and currently feeling pain) and the Republicans as hypocritical, cynical opportunists. One expert, neurologist William Cheshire, notes in Terri:

...context-specific, sustained, and indicative of cerebral cortical processing that, upon careful neurological consideration, would not be expected in a persistent vegetative state.

Well, yeah. It doesn't take an expert to realize Terri is not in a persistent vegetative state. It just took one husband, Michael Schiavo, intent on his wife's death, paired up with one lower court judge, Judge Greer, willing to grant Michael his wish.

As we've noted before, it is unfortunate that appeals courts cannot reexamine the actual facts of the case, only the legal reasoning. We have no doubt that if a new finding of facts were allowed in a higher court, Terri would not be classified as being in a PVS (persistent vegetative state) based on the information available today. That lower court finding of fact is the biggest hitch in the fight to save Terri's life.

Another hitch is the (mis)perception among the public of Republican motives. The reporting of the latest possible fake memo allegedly circulated by Republicans, and the public's response to it, has made it difficult for Congressional Republicans to do much more than the nearly unprecedented steps they have already taken.

Ed Driscoll calls the latest Memo Misrepresentation The Return of the Son of Fake But Accurate.

Powerline on the possibilities:

The memo has three possible origins. The first possibility is that it was created by a low-level Republican staffer. This seems possible, but highly unlikely. Only a very dim-witted staffer would 1) copy word for word from the Traditional Values site, 2) get the Senate bill number wrong, 3) make a number of silly errors, including misspelling Mrs. Schiavo's name as "Teri," and 4) mix comments about political advantage into a "talking points" memo. Moreover, the Post and ABC have tried to create the impression that the memo is an official, high-level Republican strategy document. It clearly is not that.

The second possibility is that the memo was created by a lobbying group, presumably the Traditional Values Coalition, since most of the content of the memo comes word for word from their web site. But the controversial political observations--"the pro-life base will be excited," etc.--are inappropriate for an organization like the Coalition. They sound as if they are written from the internal perspective of the Republican party ("this is a tough issue for Democrats").

The third possibility is that the memo is a Democratic dirty trick. At the moment, that looks most likely. It is easy to picture how the document could have been constructed. A Democratic staffer wants to put in some language that will sound authentic for a Republican memo. What does he do? He steals four paragraphs from the Coalition's web site. Then he adds the explosive political observations which are the whole point of the exercise--weirdly out of place in a "talking points" memo, but good politics for the Democrats.

Eternity Road's Francis W. Poretto writes:

Negative politics -- attacking one’s opponents’ putative sins instead of trumpeting one’s own virtues -- has become de rigueur in these United States. It syncs well with the popular distrust of politicians; people are quite willing to believe the worst about the men who vie for political office. Therefore, scandals like the "Killian memos" attack on President Bush, just before Election 2004, are powerfully appealing to the tacticians in the major parties. This could well turn out to be the latest venture of that kind.

The Democrats' main line of attack on the Republicans in recent years has been that the GOP's leaders and spokesmen are hypocrites: that their expressed convictions are insincere and were sculpted strictly for political advantage. The Terri Schiavo case is grist for that mill. If it could be shown that GOP legislators elected to intervene in the affair not out of a deep regard for the sanctity of life but for political gains with the electorate, the gains would flow instead to the Democrats.

While some people, conservative and liberal alike, seem agitated that Republicans have overstepped their legal bounds, we applaud all those on both sides of the aisle who have taken extraordinary measures to save the life Terri Schiavo, even their actions upset certain sentimentalities of legal jargonists, even if they bother people who still argue that this is a "family matter," even if it makes people uncomfortable just to see the images of Terri on television.

For us, the heroic efforts to save Terri, pulling out all the stops, getting creative, and otherwise acting boldly, do not represent any kind of abuse of power. They represent precisely the kind of moral clarity public servants ought to have. It's hard not to think of the famous scene in Schindler's List, where Oskar Schindler, played by Liam Neeson, having personally saved hundreds of Jews from certain death in Nazi Germany, but still plagued with guilt over those who perished, breaks down, telling his associate Itzhak Stern:

Schindler: I could've got more...I could've got more, if I'd just ... I could've got more ...

Stern: Oscar, there are eleven hundred people who are alive because of you. Look at them.

Schindler: If I'd made more money ... I threw away so much money, you have no idea. If I'd just ...

Stern: There will be generations because of what you did.

Schindler: I didn't do enough.

Stern: You did so much.

Schindler: This car. Goeth would've bought this car. Why did I keep the car? Ten people, right there. Ten people, ten more people ... (He rips the swastika pin from his lapel) This pin, two people. This is gold. Two more people. He would've given me two for it. At least one. He would've given me one. One more. One more person. A person, Stern. For this. I could've gotten one more person and I didn't. I didn`t ..."

Indeed, the taglines of Schindler's List fit perfectly into the Schiavo (Schindler at birth) saga:

Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire.

The List Is Life.

That "GOP" memo, that list, ultimately seems like it was lifted, at least in part, from the website of the Traditional Values Coalition. Whether it turns out to be an outright fraudulent dirty-trick or just a woeful media misrepresentation, ultimately, the actual memo was about saving Terri's life, not about scoring political points.

Bravo to those who have gone out of their way to save Terri Schiavo.

Bravo to those who have defied the contemporary and contrary polling and continued fighting to save Terri's life.

Bravo to those who have irked portions of their own parties in defense of Terri's life.

Bravo to those who have overstepped their bounds to save an innocent life.

Bravo to those who have trampled all over the legal system in order to get a favorable ruling.

Bravo to all those who have examined the facts of this story and determined that a human being's life is being taken, on purpose; bravo to those who have said this is unacceptable in America.

Bravo to those who have put the principle of life's sanctity above all else.

Bravo to the Oskar Schindlers, Republican and Democrat alike, who have done all they can to save Terri's life, even if it means bending or outright breaking the rules. They will have clear consciences, knowing they did all they could to save Terri Schiavo, an innocent life, from dehydration and starvation.

Ultimately, we fear, the Schindlers will fail in their cause, but their legacy, their energy, could give the pro-life movement nearly incalculable inertia.

Whoever saves one life, saves the world.

Also, full disclosure:
I’ve briefly touched on this before, but it might need repeating.

More than twenty years ago, my aunt Nancy was involved in a terrible vehicle accident that has left her paralyzed ever since. To be honest, when I see Terri Schiavo on television, I can’t not think of my aunt Nancy. Their situations are amazingly similar, but fortunately for Nancy, she has a family who values her life and protects her from harm (much like the Schindlers, Terri’s family, who unfortunately have no meaningful rights in her case). Nancy’s siblings, my aunts and uncle, in fact, have been true heroes to Nancy. Nancy’s brother, my uncle, essentially devoted his life to protecting her, overseeing nurses (almost literally full-time), and for that, he deserves serious praise.

Nancy’s condition has not been easy on the family. In fact, it’s been pretty difficult at times. But at no point has there been a serious discussion of euthanizing Nancy, of intentionally killing her by withholding basic food and water. That would be unthinkable. Nancy is very much in a similar medical position to that of Terri Schiavo: she breathes on her own but has a feeding tube in her abdomen.

It would be unfair to take the parallels much further. I have no way of knowing the extent of Terri’s brain damage, but I do know Terri and Nancy have similar appearances, physically. And Nancy watches television, responds to people and other stimuli, and displays emotions. Pain. Laughter. Anger. Frustration. Contentment. Joy. Real emotions.

In short, her life has worth. She is not a vegetable, nor is she deserving of death because she is a burden, just because she is not thoroughly pleasant to look at.

And nobody could ever tell me otherwise.

One thing I keep seeing in the media is discussion of whether or not Terri has the chance to fully recover, as if that matters. I hold out a glimmer of hope for Nancy, simply due to the rapid advances in medicine and technology, but ultimately I realize she will never go back to being the way she was before the accident. But that doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter that there is almost no chance she will hop out of bed one day and start dancing. Her life still has worth.

Thus, I feel like it is necessary to lay that on the table. My thinking on this issue might be clouded; I might be letting emotions get in the way of logic. But I can’t accept the idea of Terri being starved and dehydrated to death, her lips severely chapping, her throat gasping for moisture, her body shutting down slowly and painfully. I just can’t accept that as a remotely humane way of dying. I wouldn’t accept it for my aunt, and I can’t accept it for any other human being, even one I've never met.

UPDATE (March 23, 2005; 9:47 AM):
The New Memogate is heating up. Wizbang is covering it. So is Instapundit.

Plus more from Powerline.

Posted by Will Franklin · 24 March 2005 05:31 AM


Thank you Will... It means alot to all our family for you to speak up for nancy! Terri has been treated unthinkably unfair. I can not believe this judge allowed the money provided for Terri on legal fees to starve and dehydrate her.... ALL I CAN SAY IS BLOOD IS THICKER THAN WATER! Even an animal would be given a shot to be put down. This is cruel and quite unusual to have a Judge sentence her to death in this way. Judge Greer should absolutely no reason to let her suffer like this! Michael Schiavo is only suffering because she has become an inconvenience! That is why I remain steadfast in my belief that Blood Truly Is Thicker Than Water.

Posted by: Linda at March 24, 2005 08:49 AM

I haven't been reading blogs for a few days, so I missed all this 'memogate 2, electric bugaloo' stuff. But I didn't need to know that there were or were not Republican 'talking point' on this situation to be thoroughly disgusted...

Read the quote from Tom Delay posted at Talking Points Memo. In one breath he links the Schaivo case to his own political problems. Or is that quote falsified, too?

Posted by: Bellman at March 24, 2005 09:23 AM

Bellman, However you feel about Tom Delay is really neither here nor there!!! Or is that false, too? Make Out Your Living Will, If you would like to specifically be starved and dehydrated until you are dead.

Posted by: Linda at March 24, 2005 11:00 AM

It amazes me that an innocent woman is allowed to be sentenced to Death by starvation and dehydration under the laws of Florida, on one judges Questionable decision that her quality of life is not up to par!!! If they are going to sentence her to death, Why not give her a leathal injection? Governor Jeb really has attempted to save Terrie. He clearly does not agree with this decision! I am starting to wonder if he really needs to use his power as Governor to regain a feeding tube? What if anything is Governor Jeb Able to do? It seems to me he has tried almost everything... ??????????????? GIVE ME SOME WILLism wisdom!

Posted by: Linda at March 24, 2005 03:39 PM