Friday, February 29, 2008

Obama Repents of the Wrong Thing

Obama has repented of one good thing he did in the Senate: voting to save Terri Schaivo's life. Read this story for the details. Is this the kind of "change" we want: the killing of the innocent at both extremes of life: the unborn and the disabled?

9 comments:

Sirfab said...

Boy, oh boy! This is a very serious matter. (My family and I have been involved in similar situations, unfortunately.) It must be particularly hard for curmudgeonites, considering this exchange between Sen. McCain and Tim Russert, from the June 19, 2005 edition of Meet The Press:

"MR. RUSSERT: Would it be fair to say in hindsight Congress should not have been involved in the Terri Schiavo case?

SEN. McCAIN: I think it's easy in hindsight to make a judgment. But I do know at the time that many of us, or the overwhelming majority of us as well as the American people saw a young woman whose life was going to end, whose parents and brothers and sisters wanted to care for her. That's what I think made it so compelling. So in hindsight, perhaps we shouldn't have. [emphasis mine] At the time, I understand the emotion, all of us. Who was not moved by seeing the films of this woman, young woman?" (The answer to Sen. McCain's question is simple: Doctors who, unlike Dr./Sen. Frist, who thought it sufficient to view a tape of the patient to express his medical opinion, had cared for Terry Schiavo long enough to judge, as the autopsy later confirmed, that their patient was in a persistent vegetative state.)

Anyway, Sen. McCain's position looks similar to Sen. Obama's:

"RUSSERT: Senator Obama, any statements or vote you’d like to take back?

OBAMA: Well, you know, when I first arrived in the Senate that first year, we had a situation surrounding Terri Schiavo. And I remember how we adjourned with a unanimous agreement that eventually allowed Congress to interject itself into that decisionmaking process of the families.

It wasn’t something I was comfortable with, but it was not something that I stood on the floor and stopped. And I think that was a mistake, and I think the American people understood that that was a mistake. And as a constitutional law professor, I knew better."

Who knows, perhaps Sen. Obama has qualms about interfering with the sanctity of marriage, which many people consider so sacred as to demand a constitutional amendment for it.

There is certainly a moral argument to be made that the sanctity of life should supersede the sanctity of marriage, but that argument may have been drowned for the courts by the conservative outcry for a sanctity of marriage amendment to the constitution, so that the various poor judges who ruled in favor of Mr. Schiavo over the years may have been mistakenly led to believe that protecting the sacred bond between a man and a woman (and their right to have confidential wishes and intimate desires be fulfilled by their spouse) is more important than protecting life itself. Go figure!

In any case, I found the fact that Sen. Obama did not evade the question, and that he admitted to having made a mistake, refreshing; particularly considering that the current occupant of the job that Sen. Obama is applying for had this to say in a 2004 debate during his campaign for re-election: “Now, you asked what mistakes. I made some mistakes in appointing people, but I'm not going to name them. I don't want to hurt their feelings on national TV.” Aside from the fact that he was reluctant to admit to any mistakes even after he had led the country into war under what were, at best, wrong pretenses, the only mistake he admitted to (sort of) was that he had appointed people who, unlike himself, were not infallible, and that he was paying a price for THEIR mistakes. Surreal!

Anyway, going back to Sen. Obama's answer on the Schiavo debacle: until the constitution is amended to cover every single issue dear to the most ardently religious members and followers of the Republican party, I suggest that we should all start by drafting a medical directive or a living will, just in case... And, for the record, if my medical directive should burn in a fire, I hope that the decision of when to suspend care will be taken by my wife, who knows my intimate wishes much better than members of congress who think they have heard from God lately. And I would like to think that that was what Sen. Obama meant when he answered Russert's question on Wednesday night.

Doug Groothuis said...

If so, a plague on both houses! But I'll still vote for McCain.

And McCain is better on abortion.

Tom Hinkle said...

Sirfab,
When you talk about the sanctity of marriage, it seems that her husband didn't care too much about that since, while his wife lay in the hospital, he was shacking up with another woman and fathered two children with her. To me, that was an implicit forfeiture of his right to make any determination on this matter.

Sirfab said...

Tom, regardless of your feelings or opinions (obviously negative) of Michael Schiavo's as a husband, the Courts that ruled over the matter must have thought he was a sufficiently good husband that his right to determine medical decisions concerning his wife was not revoked.

In any case, the main point of my reply was that Sens. Obama and McCain expressed similar doubts on whether it was right for Congress to intervene in a matter that courts have upheld concerning the intimate relationship between spouses. Expressing doubts or regret as Sen. Obama did, hardly makes him a monster, and depicting Sen. Obama as an accomplice in the killing of disabled people, as Dr. Groothuis implied, seems disingenous to me.

P.S. Sen. Obama's opinions on abortion are a different matter, and if Dr. Groothuis believes that they alone disqualify him from being an acceptable candidate for the presidency, so be it.

Francis J. Beckwith said...

sirfab. Are you sure we are talking about the same case? If I remember correctly, Mr. Schiavo had been living for over a decade with a woman not his wife and had sired two children by her. He, apparently, thought nothing of keeping his two sons bastards and their mother not an honest woman in order to maintain power over Terry. So when Obama talks about "family decision making" it is not clear what cluster of persons to which he is referring.

It seems to me that Obama is right, the government is the problem, namely the judicial branch, which years ago declared as a violation of privacy for states to not consider men like Mr. Schiavo "husbands" if they were in burlesque marriages elsewhere. In fact, if memory serves me correctly, it was a case from Obama's own Illinois in which a federal court overturned a law that disallowed custody or visitation rights to the biological father of a child who never had the decency to marry the child's mother. So, Illinois tried to protect the sanctity of the wedding bond and make sure that children were protected within it. Thus, if that one branch of government, the courts, had not injected itself into a matter of the common good and the protection of children for the sake of the "liberty" of adults, there may have been less of a mess in the Schiavo case.

Sirfab said...

Once again, and for the last time, the fact that Mr. Schiavo had decided to "shack up" with another woman and father two children out of wedlock (or two bastards, as Prof. Beckwith refers to them in such a charming Victorian way) was, right or wrong as it may be, deemed immaterial by the courts that ruled over and over on the case. Neither you, Prof. Beckwith, and you Tom Hinkle, nor I decide what is proper. Courts do, based on precedent and on the specific matter before the court.

To say that the problem is that courts inject themselves in the process is inaccurate, when in fact in the Terry Schiavo case it was Congress that injected itself in the process, in an emergency midnight session that was driven by bad instincts and political convenience rather than by a reasoned deliberative process (this must the case, when so many members of Congress later went on to question whether interjecting into a case that was before the courts was the right thing to do).

Courts do not inject themselves into anything, they are called to rule by plaintiffs who feel that their rights have been violated, in appeals processeses, or when laws have been misinterpreted/misapplied by decisions taken by lower courts. It is called the justice system, even if justice is not always served (depending on what opinion or view one holds of a particular case).

The argument that "a federal court overturned a law that disallowed custody or visitation rights to the biological father of a child who never had the decency to marry the child's mother" is flawed, because it assumes that decency is a fixed and objective concept. From a logical point of view, it is indefensible to claim that because a father did not marry the mother of the child, he is guilty of indecent behavior (as you, Prof. Beckwith, did). I do not know the facts of this particular case, but even then I can certainly make the case that there are horrible fathers who have had the "decency" to marry the mother, and better fathers who, perhaps in total agreement with the mother, decided that marriage was not for them. When you say that a man did not have the "decency" to marry a woman and therefore has forfeited his right to be a father and to have visitation rights, you are injecting your own personal, unsubstantiated, and rationally indefensible opinion in the matter. Luckily, our day's morals have made strides away from the Victorian morality that you seem to propose.

This is a perfect example of the harm that injecting one's religious views into what is essentially a secular matter does.

Ed Darrell said...

Those who voted to keep torturing Terri Schaivo should feel some guilt, I would think. Obama repented? Good.

It's interesting that you phrase it as "voting to save Terri Schaivo's life," as if such a thing had been possible, and as if it were not tantamount to tortures perpetrated by the French Reign of Terror.

For people who defend an administration that regularly denies medical care to people who desperately need it, apparently for the fun of it, to claim Terri Schaivo as a great moral defeat is horror beyond imagination.

Perhaps you could determine Ms. Schaivo's condition from the video better than the medical professionals who were on the spot. But I doubt it. And I pray you never get put in a similar spot.

Sirfab said...

I wonder where the outrage was for Tirhas Habtegiris. Not a peep from Tony Perkins, Rick Santorum or other advocates of the culture of life, including President Bush. Perhaps because it was Gov. Bush (George W. himself) who signed into law the Texas Advance Directives Act, also known as the Texas Futile Care Law.

I am sure the hypocrisy will be missed by many.

Tom said...

Sirfab writes,

I wonder where the outrage was for Tirhas Habtegiris. Not a peep from Tony Perkins, Rick Santorum or other advocates of the culture of life, including President Bush. Perhaps because it was Gov. Bush (George W. himself) who signed into law the Texas Advance Directives Act, also known as the Texas Futile Care Law.

Unfortunately time and resources are limited, so not all hard cases are treated the same. If this was a law signed by Bush, I wonder if he considers it a mistake in the same way Obama now "repents" of his mistake?

I am sure the hypocrisy will be missed by many.

Not by me...time to refresh your memory though on what the word hypocrisy actually means, as opposed to what you think it means.