Politics and Terri Schiavo
Published: June 18, 2005
After Terri Schiavo was finally allowed to rest in peace on March 31, we hoped she would also have been granted in death what she surely would have wanted - an end to the bitterness that divided her family and made her private suffering a public spectacle. For the American people, the episode was a terrible lesson in what government should and should not do, in what is properly within the scope of our political leaders and what is not.
And so it was heartbreaking yesterday to see Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida thrust himself back into this tragedy just two days after the results of Ms. Schiavo's autopsy showed that her condition had been beyond hope and beyond therapy, that she most likely had been in a persistent vegetative state and that her relatives' allegations that she had been abused by her husband were false.
For most of the nation, that news provided closure on a wrenching episode. But not for Mr. Bush, who asked a state prosecutor to investigate Michael Schiavo, Ms. Schiavo's husband. Mr. Bush said he wanted to clear up discrepancies in Mr. Schiavo's statements over the last 15 years about the time that elapsed between his finding his wife on the floor and his 911 call. If such discrepancies existed, Mr. Bush surely knew of them long before yesterday. To seek an investigation now seems tactical, an attempt to deflect attention from the autopsy report.
Of all the politicians who tragically failed to understand and respect the sanctity and privacy of family life in this case, only Mr. Bush seems determined to save face by disturbing the family's peace further and berating those who had been saying all along that he was going down a terrible road.