The media frenzy surrounding the Terri Schiavo case is new evidence of the American Right’s ability to dominate national news cycles, a power that has become possibly the most intimidating force in modern U.S. politics. In the Schiavo case, however, the Right has discovered that even its impressive message machinery sometimes can push the envelope too far.
In the Schiavo tragedy, leaders of the Christian Right and the Republican Party marketed themselves as the defenders of life and painted their liberal adversaries as intellectual elitists lacking compassion for a defenseless woman. Conservative leaders also hoped to rally their base around the need for more conservative judges who would defend the so-called “culture of life.”
With stunning bravado, the Right played on the Schiavo story’s appeal as a round-the-clock cable TV drama: a life-or-death countdown; grieving parents; a husband who could be made into the heavy; supposedly insensitive judges; Republican leaders rushing to the rescue, including both Jeb and George W. Bush.
It is worth the couple of minutes it will take to read.