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Monday, March 28, 2005

Barbarism Redux 


The inimitable Tom DeLay, ex-bug killer, has had some strong words during the entire Terri Schiavo affair. In fact, he called removing her feed tube an act of barbarism. But, as I found through Democratic Underground, when his father was in the same circumstance back in 1988, DeLay opted not to seek special Congressional action and let his father die in peace.
A family tragedy that unfolded in a Texas hospital during the fall of 1988 was a private ordeal — without judges, emergency sessions of Congress or the debate raging outside Terri Schiavo's Florida hospice.

The patient then was a 65-year-old drilling contractor, badly injured in a freak accident at his home. Among the family members keeping vigil at Brooke Army Medical Center was a grieving junior congressman — Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas).

And DeLay is among the strongest advocates of keeping the woman, who doctors say has been in a persistent vegetative state for 15 years, connected to her feeding tube. DeLay has denounced Schiavo's husband, as well as judges, for committing what he calls "an act of barbarism" in removing the tube.

In 1988, however, there was no such fiery rhetoric as the congressman quietly joined the sad family consensus to let his father die.

"There was no point to even really talking about it," Maxine DeLay, the congressman's 81-year-old widowed mother, recalled in an interview last week. "There was no way [Charles] wanted to live like that. Tom knew — we all knew — his father wouldn't have wanted to live that way."

This gets at the heart of the matter. Shameless opportunism, hypocrisy and the sanctity of privacy. I would not even make an attempt to bring this fact up to DeLay's face: his father died. His family had to make a wrenching decision. It's private. It's family. That deserves more dignity.

Again: It's private. It's family. Some people, though, never learn.

PS. If you read through the article, you also find that DeLay and his family sued a company they thought partially responsible for his father's death. This, despite DeLay's more modern efforts for "tort reform" and his avid opposition to "frivolous lawsuits." He's a real champ.

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