Monday, March 21, 2005

On NPR this morning, I heard Congressman John Lewis of Georgia denouncing the Schiavo bill. John Lewis! This John Lewis.

You have a hero of the civil rights era on one side and, as a party, you don't have the guts to put him up against Tom DeLay?

What the hell is wrong with the Democrats?


Even a few Republicans get it, at least outside of Washington -- these Florida state legislators, for instance:

Terri Schiavo's parents couldn't get their own legislators to vote this time around for a bill that would keep their daughter hooked to a feeding tube.

Sen. Dennis Jones, R-Treasure Island, and Rep. Everett Rice, R-Treasure Island, count Bob and Mary Schindler among their constituents. And yet both lawmakers voted Thursday to defeat proposals [in the Florida legislature] that would block the withholding of food and water from patients in a persistent vegetative state....

Jones and Rice were among a surprisingly large number of Tampa Bay-area Republicans who broke party ranks and voted against the bill. The group included the woman who is second-in-command in the House, Rep. Leslie Waters, R-Seminole, the speaker pro tempore.

Most said they were philosophically opposed to involving government in issues they felt should be handled privately by families....

Rep. Charlie Dean, R-Inverness, said he also felt remorse after voting for Terri's Law in 2003.

"I think this was a family matter," Dean said. "I voted for it last year but after reflection, I had to vote against it."

That's from the St. Petersburg Times. The story goes on to tell us something about the letters and e-mails the legislators are getting:

While nearly every lawmaker was deluged with e-mails from national organizations begging them to save Schiavo's life, local correspondents were more likely to ask them to stay out of the matter.

For example, of the 300 e-mails Rice received Wednesday, about 215 were from out of state and all asked him to vote for the bill. Of the 29 definitely from Rice's district, all but six asked him to vote against the bill. The origin of the remainder could not be determined.

Rep. David Russell, R-Spring Hill, who also voted against the bill, said the local letters were dramatically different from two years ago.

"It is almost a 180-degree turnaround," Russell said. "I received a number of communications from my constituents, many of them conservative Republicans, asking that we not intervene. And I listen to my constituents."

The message is getting through to these Republicans. Why can't the whipped-dog Democrats in Washington hear it?

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