Wednesday, March 23, 2005

I never posted the text of that memo that described the Terri Schiavo case as "a great political issue." ABC has had it up for a couple of days here. And now the Raw Story has reproduced the document itself, here. Not much in it beyond what's been reported, really.

However, right-wingers are just desperate to turn this into another "Rathergate"; see this post and this one at Power Line. They really want to prove the document is a hoax -- but they're defining "hoax" rather narrowly:

...the content of the memo is highly suspicious. Why would anyone mix political strategy points--the ones the Democrats want to talk about--with talking points for Senatorial argument? A competent staffer preparing a talking points memo wouldn't do that, but a Democratic dirty trickster would.

Does this prove the memo is a fraud? Not at all. It is possible that somewhere in the House or Senate there is a Republican staffer dumb enough to have produced and circulated it....

But it doesn't have to have originated in a congressional office to be an authentic strategy document and a telling glimpse into the vile thinking behind this crusade. Look, here's the reality: Zealots within the national Republican Party control the party, and zealots outside the official party structure have a disproportionate influence over those in the party who run it. Maybe the boys at Power Line see a wall of separation, but I don't. Recall the lead from this New York Times story that ran yesterday:

When a judge set last Friday as the deadline for removing Terri Schiavo's feeding tube, Ken Connor, a Florida trial lawyer and prominent Christian conservative who represented Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida on this issue, decided to appeal to a higher power, Congress.

He turned to an old acquaintance, Representative Dave Weldon, a Florida Republican and doctor, in a long-shot effort to persuade Congress to intervene. Convicted murderers have more chances to appeal to the federal courts than patients who are incapacitated, Mr. Connor argued.

"Don't we want to accord the same protections to the handicapped and disabled that we do to death row inmates?" he asked.

That was three weeks ago. The plans hatched by Mr. Connor and Dr. Weldon eventually snowballed into Congress's marathon weekend session...

Their success was the culmination of a two-year campaign by social conservatives who had been building support for the cause, along with the diligent efforts of Ms. Schiavo's parents and brother. Senator Mel Martinez, a newly elected Republican of Florida who is Mr. Connor's former college roommate, also played an influential role....

Ken Connor is now a D.C. lawyer and used to head the Family Research Council and Florida Right to Life.

The right-wing attempt to pick the document apart has borne some fruit. Commenter #35 at that Raw Story link notes that some of the text of the memo matches the text of this page at the Web site of the Traditional Values Coalition. To the commenter, this strongly suggests that the thing is a work of Democratic fraud.

Er, hold on a second. The Traditional Values Coalition page is a list of talking points for the Incapacitated Person’s Legal Protection Act of 2005. And, gosh, what's this? Why, it's a March 8 press release, also at the TVC Web site, announcing the introduction of the Incapacitated Person’s Legal Protection Act of 2005 ... by Senator Mel Martinez and Congressman Dave Weldon!

Does a vague wisp of smoke emanate from a gun in one of these men's offices? Or from the office of the well-connected D.C. lawyer Ken Connor? Or from the TVC itself? And if so, do you think the Power Liners can smell it?

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