Democratic Underground

The Bush Doctorin'

How the GOP Became Doctors and Ethicists in One Grandstanding Weekend

March 24, 2005
By Nancy Greggs

It was quite a show, wasn't it? An entire weekend devoted to saving the life of Terri Schiavo, fought bravely by Republicans who left their white chargers at the door and stayed up way past their bedtimes to do the right thing as long as the TV cameras were rolling, and there was political hay to be made.

Passionate arguments were delivered while the actual medical and circumstantial facts of the case went out the nearest window. Let's not dwell on the opinions of medical experts; Terry's mom and dad say she's cognizant and reactive, despite all actual evidence to the contrary.

So let's grab their grief, their unsubstantiated hopes and their all too obvious heartbreak, and see if we can get some good mid-term election votin' out of it! Ya-hoo!

We got to hear from Republican senators and congressmen, as well as right-wing pundits, who reminded us that some of the nation's leading neurologists just don't know a danged thing about medicine. Surely these people, with their fancy medical lingo and book learnin', should defer to the politicians when it comes to diagnosing a patient.

We heard from Dr. Frist, who's actually done some legit doctorin' in his time. You'll remember him; he's the guy who doesn't know if AIDS can be transmitted through sweat and tears. I don't know about you, but if I were looking for a definitive prognosis for a dying child, this is just the kind of medical expertise I'd be hankering for.

Besides, he didn't waste his time reviewing medical reports, or actually seeing the patient in question. I like a doc who can make a snap diagnosis based on watching a videotape. Why, it's just that kind of efficient, cost-cutting measure that could save Medicare!

And who wouldn't benefit from a lesson in ethics from Dr. Tom DeLay? After all, he dealt with life-and-death issues on a daily basis in his pre-political career as a bug exterminator, so he knows whereof he speaks. But while he was railing on about the sanctity of life all weekend, I bet you forgot all about the criminal allegations that have been piling up against him over the past few months, didn't you? Talk about Mission Accomplished.

And what late night TV drama would be complete without a cameo appearance by the President Bush, sleepily exiting Air Force One in his favourite footie-pyjamas, ever at the ready to do the right thing by the American people. It was widely reported that Bush, mindful of his obligation to move swiftly in a crisis, was ready to wing his way to the Capitol immediately. However, it has not been reported whether or not he insisted on one last read of The Pet Goat before springing into action, as is his usual custom.

"If there is any doubt, one must always err on the side of life." No, really - Bush actually said that! Too bad he didn't have the same attitude when he was the governor of Texas; I'm sure the hundreds of people he had executed would have appreciated the thought. Perhaps he forgot to finish that quote with, " offer void in some states and, depending on how the political wind is blowing, serious restrictions may apply."

I fully understand the political motivation behind this latest three-ring-circus; what confuses me is why the Republicans think their image needs polishing when it comes to selling us on their Culture of Life* attitude. (*trademark pending)

Millions of children are slowly starving to death in this country, not due to brain injury or medical conditions, but due to a lack of nourishing food. That's because they live in poverty, right here in the middle of the wealthiest nation on earth. We've all seen how these same Republicans are dealing with that issue; they're busy cutting funding to school lunch programs and food stamps. Now, that's good doctorin' going to bed hungry every night will toughen those little kids up but good.

There are also millions of Americans who are developing and/or living with medical conditions caused by exposure to air-borne pollutants, and toxins that are leeching into our once-potable water sources. And the Republicans? They're keeping our nation safe by gutting every law that would hold the polluters (a.k.a. major corporations) accountable.

Money is money, folks, and sick and dying Americans tend not to contribute as much to the Party as Big Business does. So what if millions of people develop serious medical problems in the generations to come? They were obviously too lazy and shiftless to get better jobs and move to better neighbourhoods.

In the midst of this tragedy, at least Mrs. Schiavo has been saved from one all-too-frequent American circumstance: she's never had to choose between medicine and food. Millions of American seniors make that choice every day, because Republicans have made it clear that when it's their choice between the welfare of our elderly and the pharmaceutical companies, the guys with the billion dollar profits are going to win every time. Who needs all of those cranky seniors anyway? They're just suckin' up what's left of our dwindling Social Security funds.

Of course, the GOP were obviously banking on the idea that Americans would rally behind their cause - but then the Gallup poll numbers came out. A whopping 70% of the respondents said that Congress had no business getting involved in this issue in the first place, and a majority agreed that were it their decision, they would not re-insert Ms. Schiavo's feeding tube.

When broken down among Democrats, Independents and Republicans, the numbers were pretty much the same. And when broken down further into weekly, occasional, and non-churchgoers, the numbers were again pretty much the same across the board.

I don't know which administration advisor told Bush et al that championing this particular cause would be a sure-fire vote-getter - maybe it was the same guy who told them that Americans would overwhelmingly rally behind the Social Security Reform flag. Stay tuned to your TV sets, folks. I suspect that someone will soon be announcing a departure from politics because they want to spend more time with their family.

The GOPers and the George W. Bush have denied that any of this was politically motivated, and patiently explained that this was an extraordinary and unique case, which needed to be dealt with by Congress. Well, they've got us there! We all know how this has never come up before; there has never been a situation where family members had to debate, and ultimately decide, the fate of a loved one being kept alive by articifical means. Face it, folks, when they're right, they're extremely right!

Maybe this is the way this Administration plans on dealing with all of our problems; you know, one case at a time. In a country of 300,000,000, I guess it's time to take a number and get to the back of one very long line.

The truly unfortunate thing here is that ultimately, there was really only one basic question to be decided: Should Terry Schiavo be allowed to die with dignity, or be allowed to continue her life with dignity? Well, that point is now moot. Thanks to grandstanding Republicans and the media, any dignity that Ms. Schiavo might once have held onto is now irretrievably gone.

Way to go, GOP. As always, we knew we could count on you.

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