Exploiting Terri Schiavo
The founders of the United States believed in a nation in which, as Justice Robert Jackson once wrote, we would “submit ourselves to rulers only if under rules.” There is no place in such a system for a special law creating rights for only one family. The White House insists that the law will not be a precedent. But that means that the right to bring such claims in federal court is reserved for people with enough political pull to get a law passed that names them in the text.
Republicans have traditionally championed respect for the delicate balance the founders created. But in the Schiavo case, and in the battle to stop the Democratic filibusters of judicial nominations, Bush and his congressional allies have begun to enunciate a new principle: The rules of government are worth respecting only if they produce the result we want. It may be a formula for short-term political success, but it is no way to preserve and protect a great republic.
Update (1352): Bryan at AWS wonders whether bloggers and mass media types aren’t “exploiting” Terri Schiavo, too, since the topic is one that is sure to garner site visits/viewership/readers.
Not anymore than we “exploit” the war, public fear of terrorism, Hillary Clinton’s polarizing effect, or the “blogs vs. MSM” meme. Bloggers and other media types cover stories that they find interesting and/or they believe their audience will find interesting. We’re covering Terri Schiavo because it’s the hot story right now and raises interesting questions. Next week–or ten minutes from now, depending on events–it’ll be something else.