Schiavo Case Tests Priorities Of GOP. - Were DeLay's ethic problems a motivating factor for intervention? Many in GOP suspect so.
"How deep is this Congress going to reach into the personal lives of each and every one of us?" asked Rep. Christopher Shays (Conn.), one of only five Republicans in the House to vote against the Schiavo bill.
Republican lawmakers and others engaged in the debate say an internal party dispute over the Schiavo case has ruptured, at least temporarily, the uneasy alliance between economic and social conservatives that twice helped President Bush get elected.
One senior GOP lawmaker involved in the negotiations, who did not want to speak for the record, said that DeLay, who is fighting ethics charges on several fronts, faced considerable pressure from Christian conservative groups to respond to pleas by the parents of the brain-damaged woman to intervene before her husband, Michael Schiavo, removed the feeding tube that kept her alive. The lawmaker said that DeLay "wanted to follow through" but added that many House Republicans were dubious and suspected that the leader's ethics problems were a motivating factor.
DeLay and Frist . . . questioned Schiavo's medical condition -- a persistent vegetative state with no hope for recovery, according to the doctors who examined her. DeLay said of Schiavo, "She talks and she laughs and she expresses happiness and discomfort," and he blamed her inability to speak on the fact that "she's not been afforded any speech therapy -- none!"
In a Senate floor statement March 16, Frist . . . described her as having "a severe disability similar to what cerebral palsy might be."
Aggravating GOP frustrations are disturbing new polls, including a CBS survey that found that 82 percent of Americans -- including a whopping 68 percent of people who identify themselves as evangelical Christians -- think Congress's intervention was wrong.
Democrats, who note that the action is identified with the GOP-led Congress and the president, hope that the public's negative response could translate into a more general unease with Republican rule.
(3-26-05 The Washington Post.)