Terri Shiavo Another Shot in the Culture War
In his 1992 Republican convention speech, Pat Buchanan asserted that we were in the middle of a “great religious war.” While lampooned and villified at the time, it’s rather clear Buchanan was right.
Howie Kurtz has an excellent roundup of the punditocracy, MSN and blogosphere alike, and its reactions to the Terri Schiavo affair. Whatever one’s thoughts on the case itself, it’s rather clear that this case has sharpened the cultural-religious divide in the country. Not only has it further stratified the mythic Blue State-Red State divide, but it has exposed fissures within the GOP coalition between Christian conservatives and the economic libertarian-fiscal conservative wings.
That said, it appears that the extreme statements that the Schiavo battle has produced represent, well, an extreme. While we can quibble with the wording of the questions, the polling seems to indicate an overwhelming consensus that the courts have done the right thing and that the GOP leadership was wrong to intervene in a matter for state courts.
I’m not sure what the ultimate upshot of all this is, if any. Whether their tactics will push away enough moderate Republican leaners to offset the increased mobilization of their base is unclear at this point. While I found the tactics of DeLay, Frist, and company on this issue outrageous, I’m not voting for Hillary Clinton in 2008–even if she’s running against Frist. And 2008, even November 2006, is a long time from now. People’s passions over the Schiavo case will have dissipated by then.