The Corner

The Schiavo Fallout

Two of the three strategists favored the congressional intervention in the Schiavo case on the merits, but two of the three were concerned that it had done long-term damage to the Republican party. Y said that Republicans had been successful in making the Democrats look like the party of intolerance, since it treats its pro-lifers worse than Republicans treat their pro-choicers. He worried that this case would leave a contrary impression.

X, on the other hand, thought that the public had in large part reacted against having to watch a terrible story that they didn’t want to think about night after night on television, and blamed the Republicans for their having to go through it. The underlying impulse not to dwell on this topic, he thought, would keep it from having a lasting negative impact. He noted that the controversy over Clinton’s impeachment lasted longer and brought Republicans’ poll numbers lower—again, in large part, because people resented the Republicans for making this a long-running news story—but the controversy did not seem to hurt Republicans in the next election and may have helped them.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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