Calling Sen. Kerry. Calling Sen. Clinton. Calling Sen. Biden. Calling Sen. Anybody who might have aspirations of leading the Democratic Party.

Just where were Democrats hiding while the Republican-controlled Congress decided to interject itself into the life and death of Terri Schiavo.

We understand the political grandstanding and pandering by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. We know that Sen. Bill Frist would gladly trade his medical license for a shot at the White House in 2008 with a diagnosis made from a videotape. And we have seen President Bush before use grand flourishes – like a rushed flight from Texas to heroically return to Washington to sign this troubling bill – to score political points.

But what we don’t get is why Republican Sen. John Warner was the only member of the United States Senate to speak against the efforts of his party during the vote. Warner is no RINO – a term of derision often used to tag moderates by calling them Republicans In Name Only. He’s a conservative.

Polls show that the American public hates what Congress has done to Schiavo. They hate that she has become a political prop, and they hate that Congress has overstepped its bounds to rally Christian conservatives, who have turned this tragedy into a proxy fight on abortion, God and euthanasia.

A single U.S. senator could have forced the Senate to slow down by objecting to the voice vote that moved this invasion forward. None did.

Where were party leaders? They could have simply stood up and said that they respect the legal process, the relationship between spouses and the constitutional constraints that separate government powers and demanded a proper vote. It shouldn’t have been so tough.

This issue may pass from the memory of most voters long before 2008. But conservative, religious activists will remember that some Republicans bucked public opinion – a common decency, in our minds – for their cause. On the other side, Democratic activists should remember that many of their leaders abdicated when it came to standing up for Terri Schiavo.


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