Anger at Bushes Over Schiavo

USA Today reports that there is substantial anger among Terri Schiavo supporters at President Bush and his brother, Florida Governor Jeb Bush, for not doing enough to save her.

Anger at Bushes as time grows short for Schiavo

[The protestors’] ire was directed at Michael Schiavo, Terri’s husband, who successfully petitioned the courts to have her feeding tube removed; at state judge George Greer, who has ruled consistently in his favor; and increasingly, at President Bush and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. “If Gov. Bush wants to be the man that his brother is, he needs to step up to the plate like President Bush did when the United Nations told him not to go into Iraq,” Randall Terry, a protest organizer, said of the governor. “Be a man. Put politics aside.” Sharon Mull, who drove here from St. Augustine, said she had written three letters to the governor in the past few days. “It seems like he could have intervened more,” she said. “At this point, it’s getting too late to help this woman. She’s being tortured. She’s being murdered.”

Last Monday, President Bush signed an emergency bill from Congress enabling Schiavo’s parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, to have federal courts hear their appeal to restore her feeding tube. Gov. Bush asked state courts for permission to take custody of Schiavo. But the Schindlers have been turned down by every court, and the president and the governor have said they can do no more. Among the messages on protest signs Sunday: “Barbara Bush: Are you proud of your sons now?” “Stop the American Holocaust!” “Send in the National Guard!”

Tension mounted outside Woodside Hospice here, where Schiavo was in her 10th day without food or water. Bobby Schindler, Schiavo’s brother, told the protesters they aren’t helping his family by getting arrested. Karl Henderson, 25, of Denver Bible Church, took issue with Schindler. “We should be able to take her water if she’s dying,” he said. “You’re not speaking for our family,” Schindler said.

Sunday’s protest played out throughout the day. Several members of Not Dead Yet, a disability rights group, lay on a driveway in front of their wheelchairs. Jerry Layne, a Baptist street preacher from Chattanooga, Tenn., delivered a fiery sermon, saying the multiple court rulings in the Schiavo case are part of the nation’s moral decline.

These people represent a lunatic fringe, so I doubt these sentiments are particularly widespread even among the small minority of Americans who think Terri Schiavo should be kept alive despite her wishes and those of her husband. Still, it serves the Bushes right for intervening in an affair outside the scope of their executive offices.

FILED UNDER: 2008 Election, Public Opinion Polls, Religion, , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. It is well within the scope of Governor Bush’s authority to act to save Terri.

  2. Jon Jackson says:

    Let’s hope these people represent the “lunatic fringe.” They’re already representing the outer fringe of common sense. Asking a Bush to “be a man,” and to, “put politics aside?” What are they thinking?

  3. dw says:

    Problem is, these are core Roy Moore supporters. If this anti-Bush sentiment picks up momentum, ol’ Roy may bag his plan to take Montgomery and start looking towards 2008. It’d be George Wallace in ’68 all over again, only this time it’d be the Dems benefiting and GOP reeling.

  4. bryan says:

    so I doubt these sentiments are particularly widespread even among the small minority of Americans who think Terri Schiavo should be kept alive despite her wishes and those of her husband.

    The anger at Bush is displaced, certainly, but it’s a bit of a stretch to say that “a small minority” think Schiavo should be kept alive.

    Given the questionable polling that’s been done on the issue, I’d be hard-pressed to say that anyone’s gotten a read on what most Americans think about it.

    Still, it serves the Bushes right for intervening in an affair outside the scope of their executive offices.

    Last I checked, There were at least 300 other people who “intervened” outside their legislative offices before Bush signed the bill. And Jeb Bush has refused to go beyond asking the state welfare agency to seek custody. All within the scope of their executive offices, I’d think.

    And finally, stop with this “her wishes” line. There is no evidence save hearsay as to what her wishes were.

  5. James Joyner says:


    The polling on this has been extensive, conducted by reputable outlets (Gallup, ABC, Time Magazine), and rather unidirectional in its result.

    Presidents and governors get more blame than faceless legislators. That’s the nature of the beast.

    That these were “her wishes” has been adjudicated as a matter of fact by the courts and withstood several years and 20-odd appelate reviews. I’ll therefore stick with it unless compelling evidence emerges to the contrary.

  6. Elizabeth A. Patience says:

    I disagree with calling all the protestors the lunatic fringe. I am a disability rights advocate who would have been there with Not Dead Yet and ADAPT members had I the financial means to fly down there. These freedom fighters fight for the rights of people with disabilities to live in the community rather than wasting away in an institution.

    I believe in a persons right to choose how they live and die, but in this case we have no clear proof that Terri made this choice. I researched this topic very thoroughly for the past 6 years. There is enough doubt in all I have read on both sides of this issue to say we must err on the side of life. The other thing that scares me is that there are approximately 33,000 people in the same exact situation as Terri (according to CNN). Will they also decide to end these people’s lives as well? Where exactly do we draw the line on who lives and who dies? What exactly is the definition of quality of life?

    Also I am living proof of the fact that sometimes we do come back from the brink of death. I as an infant came down with a rare disease known as whooping cough. Three regular physicians, two specialists and two hospitals all gave up on me. At 2 and 1/2 months old I had lost over 1/3 of my body weight. I also had stopped feeding for two weeks living on intraveneous fluids. I was so weak I could no longer cry. I would open my mouth to cry and nothing came out. The doctors told my parents there was no hope and they should start arrangements for a funeral. They could not diagnose me at the time as cases of whooping cough were so rare by then. My parents refused to let me die or give up faith and hope. They invited Elders of the Mormom church they belonged to to pray over me and annoint my head with oils. Amazingly the next morning a resident in training came up with the diagnosis. I am so thankful that my parents would not let me die. I was born a fighter apparently and shall always remain a fighter.