March 26, 2005

What I Learned on CNN

Back in the States, where I am spending a week, it’s all Terry Schiavo, all the time. With CNN on in my hotel room, I learned the most intimate details of the political battle between the vegetative woman's parents and her husband. International news?  Not “our developing story.”  I resorted to checking foreign newspaper Web sites to see if anything else was going on in the world.  What I found was pretty surprising.

In France, which has been a longtime supporter of a unified Europe, a strong majority plans to vote against the European constitution in a referendum planned for May 29th. That’s huge; here's why: 

Europe has no single constitution, so leaders have drafted one and are putting it to a vote in many of the 25 member countries. The document must be accepted by all of them to take effect. If the referendum fails in France, the European constitution is probably dead in the water, and further unification of the continent will remain a distant goal. The vast majority of Europeans don’t understand the overcomplicated constitution anyway, so dumping it could lead to a new “low-fat” version, rendering the current tome a still-born Articles of Eurofederation.

The problem for supporters is that the tide is turning against “Yes” not because of the rambling and soulless document, but because voters are starting to question whether a more unified Europe is such a good idea. Workers in France are worried their jobs will be taken by people from poorer countries such as Poland, and the Christian majority fears dilution by Turkish Muslims. For these reasons and others, Europe looks set to vote against itself.

A disunited Europe will help America retain our sole superpower status for a longer period, as the administration apparently waits for China to jugger our collective naut. In the meantime, we have time to turn our attention to other topics briefly mentioned on CNN between Schiavo updates… for example wacky travel ideas, including:

  • Going to the moon
  • Chartering a yacht (consider adding an onboard chef; more affordable than you might think!)
  • Holding a multi-state, rolling tailgate party

Definitely something for everyone!

But in all the breathless banter about l’affaire Schiavo, which, travel tips notwithstanding, has dominated cable news, little attention has been paid to an inconsistency that Europeans would unite in questioning.  After George Bush personally intervened in the case by signing a law to change the jurisdiction of the court battle, he said something like “it’s always better to err on the side of life.” So can Bush please explain why as governor of Texas he executed at least 132 people, some of them mentally retarded, others who had committed their crimes as minors, and the first Texas woman since the civil war, despite the explicit intervention of the Vatican in her favor. The answer is simple: this isn’t about principle, it’s pandering and “payback time” for all that earned political capital. Consider it spent. Bush’s approval ratings have plummeted to 43%, and those of Congress are at their lowest level since 1997.

And that, I learned on CNN.

By Will Friedman in Foreign Affairs, Politics | Permalink  | 


If only the low percentage points meant something!

Ultimately the rabid religious right and the craziod, camo-clad NRA psychos need Bush (and of course the truly nauseating Tom Delay). He's their man, and it would not matter if he were caught on camera *in flagrante* with the corpse of Margaret Sanger, (ew. Courtney, what do you think of that?) they would circle the wagons. Pretty soon it would be all over the networks that it was all the fault of some freedom-hating liberal, and believing that such a thing were possible would only mean the terrorists had already won. (Swift Boat Veterans, anyone?) Pretty soon no one would remember what happened.

The fact is that throughout the past four years, this administration has banked on the embarrassingly short memory of the American people - and they have been right every time. As an historian, this is the part that has made me most angry and continuously exasperated at my countrymen.

After months and years of repitition of what we now know as "talking points," we accept the "fact" that we went to Iraq to liberate the people. We somehow believe that Bush is a home-town cowboy type who believes in the sanctity of life above all.

If only our side could find someone as stunningly perceptive, amoral and terrifyingly brilliant as Karl Rove. I would hate to sell the soul of the progressive left, but I am fairly certain no one would remember it anyway.

Posted by: Dina | Mar 28, 2005 9:49:51 AM

Just a bit of spice for your sauce.

Not only did Bush not quite "err on the side of life" with the death penalty in Texas, as Governor, Mr. Bush passed a law that was something like the exact opposite of what he is currently proposing. Check it.

"If the Schiavo case would have happened in Texas, it appears her feeding tube would have been removed long ago. That's because that law, signed by then Governor Bush in 1999, spells out who is the patient's surrogate, or decision-maker. It's the spouse with no provision for resolving disputes with other family members. And because Terri Schiavo's husband agrees with doctors who want to remove the tube, experts say it's likely the tube would have been removed."
(Posted by Destro on

See, our president doesn't pander to public outcry over media circuses...never. PLEASE

Anyway, I feel almost guilty furthing discussion on a topic that has already been beaten to death. But the political reaction is, well, at least to my sense of humor, hillarious.

Posted by: kevin | Mar 28, 2005 5:12:54 PM

Well, if you saw & heard it on CNN, that bastion of truth and reporting, it MUST be true! ;->


Posted by: dave drake | Mar 31, 2005 5:12:27 PM

I can see where a liberal might be confused that a pro-lifer might be in favor of the death penalty.

Liberals, perhaps because of their belief in Postmodernism, do not draw distinctions between the "guilty" and the "innocent", except for the odd political opponent (i.e. "Chimpy Bushitler, Halliburton War Criminal!") Thus, to them, the punishing of criminals itself becomes a criminal act, making all acts of law enforcement self-evidently hypocritical regardless of who killed whom first.

Conservatives, on the other hand, believe a person's soul resides outside the brain, leading to their assertion that anything with human DNA in it that hasn't committed a crime is sacred, protected by God, and must be kept alive at all costs in deference to Him, whether or not said collection of cells actually has a functioning brain.

Liberals honestly don't see a distinction between unborn fetuses and axe murderers, hence your very real confusion that some might invest hope in the former yet heap scorn on the latter.

Conservatives honestly don't see a distinction between a collection of cells with no working brain and a cognizant person, because to them any collection of living human components has a soul and is therefore a human being.

Thankfully I, as an independent, see the truth of both positions: people who commit crimes are guilty; bodies without brains are effectively dead.

Posted by: Grow a Brain | Apr 5, 2005 7:48:33 PM

Re: Grow a Brain
RTFA: "Bush... executed at least 132 people, some of them mentally retarded, others who had committed their crimes as minors, and the first Texas woman since the civil war, despite the explicit intervention of the Vatican..."
Even if you believe what your wrote, and consider it a logical response to TFA, surely you recognize the Pope (and the leaders of every world religion, all of whom condemn this) as a greater moral authority than the Bush administration, particularly on specifically religious matters (souls and such).
The Bush administration has successfully represented itself and its policies as conservative. Bullshit.

Posted by: Janus Daniels | Apr 10, 2005 1:31:55 PM

I no more "recognize the greater moral authority" of the Pope than of Ayatollah Khomeini.

The only "moral authority" we recognize in America is something we call "consent of the governed". It means that we choose our own rules rather than have our rules imposed on us from some outside source claiming some mystical or divine wisdom which we by imputation lack.

Maybe you're not American so you don't understand who we are. Let me explain: in America we have separation of Church and State, and we like it that way.

Perhaps our reverence for The Alamo here in Texas confuses you. Although it was at one time a church we don't celebrate The Alamo as a symbol of religious authority. We celebrate it as a symbol of Texas independence.

Posted by: Grow a Brain | Apr 11, 2005 12:08:13 AM

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