Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

Howard Dean, head of the Democratic Party, says that Democrats will use Terri Schiavo’s tragedy as a partisan club with which to hit Republicans in the 2006 election. I am not involved in partisan politics, but this strikes me as the worst sort of opportunism. Dean seems to have forgotten that the United States Senate gave its unanimous consent to the federal law seeking a de novo federal trial of the Schaivo facts. Last time I counted there 44 Democrats in the United States Senate. Moreover, Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) was a strong supporter, and the compromise legislation was brokered by Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada).

In the House of Representatives, the Democrat Caucus split on the bill about 50-50.

I have a minority position on the federal law and its debate. I supported the law. But I think both sides were principled and argued their points positively and in the best American tradition. The side favoring the legislation were, consistent with the rule of law and American ideals, seeking to protect the life of one, helpless, profoundly disabled woman. The side arguing against the legislation were defending judicial independence, federalism and our system of shared sovereignty, key components of American freedom. I believe both sides were motivated by principle and integrity.

I don’t recall Howard Dean opposing the bill at the time. But if Dean and Democrats try to revise history and claim that the law was exclusively a Republican venture, then they will be branding themselves cynics and demagogues,who, when the heat was on, meekly went along. But later, when some polls showed that the move was unpopular, they claim federal intervention was an attempt to impose theocracy. Talk about political cowardice and cynicism!

The question now becomes whether Democrat supporters of the bill to save Terri’s life will speak the truth about their principled involvement or allow Dean to perform a tap dance of demagoguery on Terri’s grave.

Dear Reader,

We launched the First Things 2023 Year-End Campaign to keep articles like the one you just read free of charge to everyone.

Measured in dollars and cents, this doesn't make sense. But consider who is able to read First Things: pastors and priests, college students and professors, young professionals and families. Last year, we had more than three million unique readers on

Informing and inspiring these people is why First Things doesn't only think in terms of dollars and cents. And it's why we urgently need your year-end support.

Will you give today?

Make My Gift

Comments are visible to subscribers only. Log in or subscribe to join the conversation.



Filter First Thoughts Posts

Related Articles