I know I’m violating my pledge to leave the sad Terri Schiavo case alone, but a reporter friend just emailed me Tom DeLay’s statement on her death:
Mrs. Schiavo’s death is a moral poverty and a legal tragedy. This loss happened because our legal system did not protect the people who need protection most, and that will change. The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior, but not today. Today we grieve, we pray, and we hope to God this fate never befalls another. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Schindlers and with Terri Schiavo’s friends in this time of deep sorrow.
My friend asked for a “translation” of the first line and the “answer for their behavior” comment, and I responded:
If you hoped this was some sort of southern saying, or a quote from scripture, I’ll have to disappoint you. It’s just poor writing. The “moral poverty” line reminds me of that great Dick Gephardt epigram: “Markets are not a morality.” Nor are advertisements an epistemology, but who cares?
The “answer for their behavior” bit is a nice example of deliberately menacing ambiguity, worthy of Tony Soprano, making you wonder if he’s talking about Divine Judgment or a House Republican hearing or worse. Hopefully, Barney Frank or somebody will respond with a statement that says: “The political exploitation of Terri Schiavo is a moral poverty and a legal tragedy. And the time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior, and that time may be November of 2006.”