Saturday, March 26

YET ANOTHER OPEN LETTER TO JEB BUSH

DEAR GOVERNOR BUSH:
This is what I wrote and posted on my blog this week and it expresses how I feel this morning, the day after Good Friday and the day before Easter.


WHAT IS NEEDED IS AN ACT OF POLITICAL COURAGE

John F. Kennedy had a deep, abiding admiration for acts of political courage and enough so that he felt compelled to write a book on that very subject, "Profiles In Courage," that went on to win the prestigious Pulitzer Prize. In that book he wrote:

In whatever arena of life one may meet the challenge of courage, whatever may be the sacrifices he faces if he follows his conscience – the loss of his friends, his fortune, his contentment, even the esteem of his fellow men – each man must decide for himself the course he will follow. The stories of past courage can define that ingredient – they can teach, they can offer hope, they can provide inspiration. But they cannot supply courage itself. For this, each man must look into his own soul.
That is precisely what is needed now. Floridians, the nation, indeed the world, are looking to Florida Governor Jeb Bush to step up in the Theresa Maria Schindler Schiavo controversy and do the right thing, rather than continuing to seek a permission slip from Circuit Court Judge George Greer before protecting a handicapped woman's civil rights and saving her from the clutches of starvation and dehydration -- the ignominy of a Catholic woman being executed because she is perceived as expendable and not worth saving by secularists with their noses in the law, rather than their hearts in that hospice room.

Political courage has many meanings. As used by President Kennedy, the words refer to elected officials who, acting in accord with their conscience, risk their careers by pursuing a larger vision of the national, state or local interest in opposition to popular opinion or powerful pressures from their constituents.
Jeb Bush is a good-hearted man -- a moral man with strength of character. He wants to do the right thing. He believes with all his heart and soul that Terri Schiavo deserves to live and that her parents should become her legal guardians. But he keeps looking for a course of action that will leave him legally and politically unscathed and no such convenient, trouble-free path exists for him. If the rule of law is irrevocably sacrosanct in this country, if the barricades are never to be stormed, if doing the right thing must inevitably succumb to that which the black robes permit, then this nation would have a much different history and may not have even become a nation. It never would have defied King George; it never would have ended slavery; it never would have had a civil rights movement.

The famous, now deceased, political columnist Walter Lippmann once wrote:

With exceptions so rare they are regarded as miracles of nature, successful democratic politicians are insecure and intimidated men. They advance politically only as they placate, appease, bribe, seduce, bamboozle, or otherwise manage to manipulate the demanding threatening elements in their constituencies. The decisive consideration is not whether the proposition is good but whether it is popular-not whether it will work well and prove itself, but whether the active-talking constituents like it immediately.

Perhaps Governor Jeb Bush ought to reflect on this statement by President Teddy Roosevelt:

There is nothing brilliant or outstanding in my record, except perhaps this one thing. I do the things I believe ought to be done. And when I make up my mind to do a thing, I act.

I wish to God you'd make up your mind and act. So many of us in America cannot imagine what prompted you to hold a press conference to tip your hand that you would use a Florida agency to intervene on behalf of Terri Schiavo and take her into custody. Then, were that not bad enough, you first sought the judicial blessings of Circuit Court Judge George Greer before so directing that agency. He, of course, told you (and predictably so) that you could not take her into custody, that you would be in contempt of court, and subsequently advised the police authorities to arrest anyone from that state agency who attempted to intervene at the hospice venue. With that you conveniently announced that your hands were tied and, as governor, you would not exceed your authority and contravene the law. What a clever ploy! And ever so apropos this week of Easter and Christ's passion.

What is needed so desperately now that Terri Schiavo has entered her eighth day of starvation and dehydration at the hands of the state, and while on your watch, I should add, Governor Bush, is an act of profound political courage, not continuing conformity to the tyrannical rulings of Judge Greer.

Had you lived then and been a prominent political figure of the day, would there ever have been a Boston Tea Party, a Declaration of Independence, or a revolution against the British Crown? I think not. I think you would have played it safe then, just as you are playing it safe now. You have a good heart; and I am convinced you are an honorable man and firmly believe what is being done to Theresa Maria Schindler Schiavo is morally wrong. Sadly, however, you won't step up, you won't act, you won't demonstrate the courage your convictions require if they are to be meaningful. Good intentions are simply that: good intentions.

Watching Terri bear this cross is akin to watching "The Passion of The Christ." Watching you refuse to act is akin to watching Shakespeare's "Hamlet."

Voters will remember. Unlike you, we'll not go quietly into the night. Laws, legislators, and judges need to be changed.

Sincerely,

BERNARD HIGGINS

NOTE: This was emailed to Florida Governor Jeb Bush moments ago.

UPDATE: I do not know the voracity of this story, but I read it subsequent to sending my email to Governor Bush and publishing this post, so in fairness I feel obliged to provide the link. If it is true, I will credit the Governor with doing something -- trying anyway. But, I will still fault him for signaling his intentions publicly in advance of this purported rescue attempt.