Since I rarely watch TV news, I've been only vaguely aware that the US mainstream media has taken a break from the Michael Jackson trial and MarthaWatch to go all-feeding-tube, all the time. And I vowed to myself that there'd be no mention of this bizarre fiasco in wmtc.
After ALPF sent this very good story on how a similar case couldn't happen in Canada, I wavered a bit: "The so-called religious right doesn't have anything like that influence in Canada. Overwhelmingly, people of all religions -- and none -- accept that life should not always be prolonged."
Love that so-called! And the mention of people of no religion. Imagine that. But still, I couldn't quite bring myself to break my Vow Of Feeding-Tube Silence.
Finally, Jon Stewart decided for me. Here, lovingly transcribed by yours truly, is Stewart's recent Daily Show take on the whole sickening, hypocritical mess. I only wish I could transcribe Stewart's brilliant delivery. You can watch it here (choose "Congressional Meddle" and "Schiavo Controversy") or read it below.
But of course our top story tonight, as everyone knows, Congress got together over the weekend to discuss an urgent matter.
[Voice of congressperson] The measure of a nation's commitment to the sanctity of life is reflected in its laws and to the extent those laws honor and defend its most vulnerable citizens...
[Stewart] Oh my god, we're getting universal health care!!!
Actually the health care Congress is talking about is not so universal. In fact it only concerns Terri Schiavo, the Florida woman whose tragic case is at the center of a right-to-die battle between her husband, her family, and of course... her United States Congress.
[Faces and voices of various Congresspeople: "This new federal law will help Terri... What about Terri... Praying for Terri... Terri didn't use a living will... Terri... Terri... Terri... Terri is alive...]
[Stewart] Wow, they called her Terri. Imagine what they'd call her if they'd ever... met her. Or knew her. Or seen her in person.
Monday morning Congress passed an order to bring Ms Schiavo's case before a Federal judge, who they hope will order her feeding tube be reconnected. So if you were wondering just how sick you had to be before Congress acted to improve your health care...
That whole diabetes and asthma thing your kid has? [bleep] 'em.
Now. Leading the charge, Senate majority leader Dr. Bill Frist, who offered his learned medical judgment.
[Frist: I wanted to know a little bit more about the case itself, so I've had the opportunity to review the initial tapes that were made. It doesn't look like that she is in persistent vegetative state.]
So your professional medical opinion, after watching, uhhh, a couple of video tapes, you feel she's not in a vegetative state at all, in fact, just needs, maybe, better lighting.
We kid, of course, about Senator Frist's medical expertise. He has in the past shown himself expert with diagnostic medicine.
[Clip of Frist being interviewed by George Stephanopoulos, in which Frist will not confirm or deny that he believes the HIV virus can be transmitted through tears or sweat.]
That's the guy making life-or-death medical decisions on behalf of the country. You know, I'd cry, but I'd have to put a condom on my face.
So Congress passed a legislation. Unfortunately it can't become a law unless the President signs it, and the President's on vacation in Crawford, and even a tsunami wouldn't drag him away from his ranch, so there's no way that he's com--[footage of W getting off plane] WHAAAA? It's a miracle!!
For the first time ever, President Bush cut his vacation short, to fly back to Washington to sign the emergency legislation. It's consistent with the President's strong believe in the culture of life.
[Clip from news conference: "I think it's also important to note that President Bush, when he was Governor Bush, in 1999, signed a Texas law that was just used a few days ago, to allow a hospital to withdraw -- over the parents' objections -- the life support of a six-month old boy."]
[Stewart] To be fair, that law does make a patient's inability to pay part of the decision. [whispers] Will you excuse me? [Turns aside, opens mouth and howls. Screen goes to "please stand by" cartoon and generic standby music plays for several seconds. Stewart returns.] Cable's back!
Next Stewart goes to "Senior Ethicist" Stephen Colbert. Their bit in part:
[Stewart]...It seems like the Schiavo case is above all a family matter, and a tragic one. The courts have ruled consistently in Mr Schiavo's favor, but now Congress has chosen to get directly involved. Is this a new precedent about the government's role in individuals' lives?
[Colbert] Absolutely, Jon. Like all Republicans, this Congress believes the government should get more involved in the lives of individuals. They want to think outside the Beltway, roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty. They're tired of Washington gridlock, getting nothing done for everybody. So instead, they're going to try to get one thing done, for somebody.
Stewart asks how it would be possible, in a country this size, for Congress to take on people's problems on a case-by-case basis.
[Colbert] Jon, you've got 435 congressmen, 100 senators, one Commander-in-Chief -- you get a van! You roam the country solving people's problems. It'll be just like Queer Eye -- only they'll hate gay people.
Bob Garber of Flint Michigan needs a kidney? Well, Bob Garber, you're gonna get that kidney, thanks to the Bob Gardner Gets A Kidney Act of 2005.
[Stewart]... Haven't the courts already...
[Colbert] The courts, Jon? The problem with the courts is sometimes they make decisions we don't like. Then you have to take action. Not to do so would violate Congress' Constitutional right to have neither checks - nor balances.
[Stewart] Actually I think it's supposed to be that Congress is checked and balanced.
[Colbert] I don't think so, Jon. That would be a violation of their separation - and powers.
[Pause] [Stewart] That's separation of powers...
[Colbert] Look, we can speak semantics all night long...
[Stewart] All this strengthening of power seems to go against the Republicans very core principles...
[Colbert] Jon, there are principles for every occasion. It's true that Republicans used to argue very much against state's rights - but that was when they didn't control the Federal government... Now they do. So... there's that.
Thank you, Jon Stewart, for your voice of sanity.