She can’t hear you no more.

Feeling better now. (It’s amazing what a little Wallace & Gromit video with one’s child can do for a faltering spirit, not to mention temperatures in the 40s.) Then, while Kate takes her piano lesson, I made the mistake of going online to see what’s up.

I assume Peggy Noonan hit the floor sometime after filing this preposterous piece of crap on the Schiavo case, because certainly she was on her third highball of the morning when she wrote this sentence: I do not understand the emotionalism of the pull-the-tube people. Wha–? I must be watching the wrong cable news. I thought it was the people outside the hospice who were weeping and railing and getting arrested trying to take cups of water to a woman who cannot swallow. I don’t know a single person on the other side who thinks this is anything other than a terrible family tragedy that got absurdly out of control.

Stirring her Jameson’s-and-water with an index finger, she goes on: And why do those who argue for Mrs. Schiavo’s death employ language and imagery that is so violent and aggressive? The chairman of the Democratic National Committee calls Republicans “brain dead.” Michael Schiavo, the husband, calls House Majority Leader Tom DeLay “a slithering snake.”

I guess Peggy slept through the radio show I heard the other day, someone guest-hosting on Dennis Prager, who just dispensed with the “allegedly” stuff altogether and more or less said Michael Schiavo beat his wife into a coma — he kept referring to her heart attack as “a quote-unquote accident” — and has maintained terrible, Terminator-like focus for 15 years, waiting to finish the job.

Crude as it is, I think Norbizness hit it on the head: When you’ve got Randall Terry as a primary spokesperson, and when everyone involved in the case (and a fair number of politicians not involved) has received death threats, I’m not sure that accurately comparing an oily little shitstain to a serpent (sorry, snakes!) represents the pinnacle of aggressive hate speech.

I know the usual style with these things is to go on and on and on, taking the piece apart sentence by sentence, but as we’re reminded this week, life is short and we all have better things to do.

Posted at 4:44 pm in Uncategorized |

19 responses to “She can’t hear you no more.”

  1. mary said on March 24, 2005 at 5:59 pm

    I don’t know if I should thank you for the link to the preposterous piece of crap, but you did label it correctly. She’s crazy or drunk, clearly, but what really got me is the title of her book, shown at the the bottom of the preposterous piece of crap column she wrote: “A Heart, a Cross and a Flag.” Shudder.

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  2. janet said on March 25, 2005 at 9:02 am

    Ditto. She terrifies. Too much to rationally examine, though I am eternally grateful for the Norbizness link.

    Chicago Tribune’s John Kass, coming off a column describing his own food poisoning, calls Schiavo’s situation “murder”…small wonder that fewer folks are buying papers, and scurrying to the under-web.

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  3. 4dbirds said on March 25, 2005 at 10:39 am

    Isn’t she the nut who wrote she wanted to cradle Reagan’s foot in her arms?

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  4. Nance said on March 25, 2005 at 10:49 am

    I read Kass’ column. I can respect it, and can respect the views of anyone who feels differently from me on this. When my mother was dying of Parkinson’s, the feeding issue was sketched out by a doctor friend of mine; he said at some point she not only wouldn’t be able to get the food to her mouth, but wouldn’t be able to swallow, either, and we needed to talk about that. The difference between a ventilator and a feeding tube is pretty great, in my view, and I’m grateful we were “lucky” — my mom died of pancreatic cancer before her Parkinson’s got that bad.

    What I can’t respect — and what really chaps my ass about this case — is the demonization of those on the other side. We tend to forget this woman has been like this for FIFTEEN YEARS. The Vietnam War didn’t last that long. For quite a number of those years, this husband was insisting she be made up and perfumed every day; he had at least that much respect for what she would have wanted. At some point, he gave up. He made some calculations in his head, and while you may not agree with what he came up with, you have to respect his choice.

    I’m sure Peggy Noonan can go online and find, in pretty short order, someone referring to her as a vegetable in diapers who should be shot like a dog — as we all know, on the internet everyone from a philosopher-king to a teenager is reachable by Google with the right keywords. But for her, this deeply devout (if, ha ha, divorced) Catholic, to pretend the hatred is all on one side is simply slimy. Contemptible. A LIE.

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  5. Maureen said on March 25, 2005 at 10:58 am

    What is it about the title “A Heart, a Cross, and a Flag” that makes you shudder?

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  6. mary said on March 25, 2005 at 11:03 am

    The demonization of the opposition by the religious right has been going on for a while, and while it chaps lots of asses, mine included, it works extremely well. It certainly is part of the picture with the gay marriage issue and the ten commandments controversy. Personally, I’m really tired of being labeled immoral, and having the church, the country and ethics co-opted by a bunch of people who strike me as being really sleazy. Bill Frist? Tom DeLay? They think I’m immoral?

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  7. juan said on March 25, 2005 at 11:08 am

    Okay. Point taken. When you are right, you’re right.

    We’ll gladly exchange Peggy Noonan for Maureen Dowd. Meet on the East side of the bridge at midnight. When you see Peggy start walking from the West side, start Maureen on her way to us.

    We promise not to hurt Maureen. A cute redhead is a terrible thing to waste. (But we just might wait a while before we remove the duct tape from her venemous fanged maw.)

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  8. juan said on March 25, 2005 at 11:18 am

    And by the way… For the benefit of Norbiz et. al.: when you couch a rant about someone else’s hate speech WITHIN INSULT-LADEN HATE SPEECH OF YOUR OWN, you are inviting a credibility issue. Jeez-o-pete! It’d be tough to roll hypocracy any tighter than that!

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  9. mary said on March 25, 2005 at 11:20 am

    The blatant marketing of those three things. The connecting, by Peggy Noonan of those three things, as if they belonged to her and those who agree with her, to sell a book. That bothers me a lot. There are a lot of people who feel it’s their flag, or their faith as well, and they don’t agree with the politics or religion of Peggy Noonan.

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  10. Danny said on March 25, 2005 at 12:05 pm

    Juan, that was hilarious. Thanks for the chuckle. Hey, Good Friday to everyone.

    I feel at this point that I’ve listened to and read enough on this issue of Terri Schiavo to have a pretty balanced opinion. I say forget about the right vesus left struggle that gets played out perpetually before our eyes. Forget about the petty demonization of family members and the tragic proportions this struggle has taken on. For all we know, both sides of the family love Terri and want what is best for her. The issue is clear.

    Not one of us knows for sure what Terri’s wishes really are/were. Why not err on the side of life? It hurts no one for her parents to take care of her until either they are ready to let go or until she passes from other reason.

    And Nance, although we cannot be sure about anything we have heard the last few days, I did hear last night that since she does not drool, that means that she can swallow. Minor point.

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  11. Jeff said on March 25, 2005 at 12:46 pm

    My clarity concern here is simply this (Peggy Noonan set off gently to one side): people keep saying at cash registers and in coffee shops around me “just let the poor woman die.” But we aren’t letting her die, we’re actively speeding her death, which some might call killing her.

    I hear this conversation all too often at hospital bedsides, as families get confused in the other direction. Posting a Do Not Resuscitate order or pain-relieving to the point where necessary even when breathing is then impaired to the point of likely cessation — this is not euthanasia, and families should have the social and (pardon me, Nancy) theological space to make that kind of decision, plus feel encouraged and supported (sorry, Amy) to make Living Wills. But some of the “let her die” death-with-dignity speech actually makes many worry that they are then doing a euthanasia number on Grandpapa when they’re just making a good, moral, rational decision.

    So the terminology and framing of the debate is *almost* as important as whether or not justice is being done for a person who can’t speak for themselves; we all have to take into account the ongoing effects of our rhetoric in the all too immediate future.

    And a blessed Easter to y’all, however observed!


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  12. ac said on March 25, 2005 at 1:08 pm

    I think that it is curious someone could expect that a writer, in a collection of her own essays, to represent the political and religious viewpoints of all people. Ms. Noonan is writing about her thoughts, her impressions, her reaction to 9/11. It is a collection of personal essays, and for the author what connected them was a heart, a cross, and a flag.

    I have not read the book, but as a subscriber to the WSJ, I did read something of Ms. Noonan’s that must have become the forward for her book in which she describes how she was given a heart by someone who lost a family member in the towers, she found a cross by ground zero, etc… I forget the details, but each of those things were tangible items that became metaphorical for her thoughts on 9/11.

    It doesn’t seem logical to conclude that Ms. Noonan is saying that these items belong only to her and those who share her particular world view. No offense intended, but it seems a little paranoid to be left terrified and shuddering by the likes of Peggy Noonan.

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  13. juan said on March 25, 2005 at 1:18 pm

    Danny, Brother, I have no probem with that line of logic. You have the benefit any of my doubts that your heart is in the right place.

    Bush and neo-cons on the other hand…


    PROGRESSIVES: “Why the rush to war? Why not more inspections?”

    NEO-CONS; “Fifteen years of UN-violating stasis is enough. We are tired of waiting. Saddam isn’t getting better.”


    NEO-CONS: “Why the rush to unplug her? Why not more tests and therapy?”

    PROGS: “Fifteen years of medical stasis is enough. We are tired of the drama. Terri isn’t getting better.”

    The hypocrisy drives me bonkers. If marriage is a sacred bond between a man and a woman, then WHY undermine that by inserting the will of gov’t between that sacred bond.

    I love our President. I admire him on so many levels. But this goofy intervention by him and my conservative co-hearts just makes me purple with anger. He’s shooting himself in the foot. He is friviolously wasting his “political capital”.

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  14. mary said on March 25, 2005 at 1:45 pm

    I don’t expect Peggy Noonan to represent all views. I am tired of her assumption that anyone who does not share them is somehow a less good person, though. She does that, regularly.

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  15. Maureen said on March 25, 2005 at 2:49 pm

    When my son was four years old, he was diagnosed with diabetes. Prior to his diagnosis, however, he began to show symptoms of the disease, including bed wetting and insatiable thirst.

    A friend has advised me not to give him any water after 8:00 p.m., to prevent the bed-wetting. One night while I was reading to him in bed he started moaning, “I’m so thirsty, I’m so thirsty…” I said, “You can’t have anything to drink honey ’cause you’ll wet the bed.” He moaned again. I looked at him, licking his lips and said to myself, “F*#k it, if he wets the bed, he wets the bed.” I gave him a large glass of water, which he downed.

    The next morning I took him to the doctor, and our new life began.

    I tell this story because the Schiavo case brings forth conflicting emotions in me. As the caregiver for my parents who both contracted Alzheimer’s disease, I lived and suffered through the slow, slow decline of people I loved. I started reading obituaries in the local paper, just to convince myself that people their age did actually die. (It is shameful to admit, I know, but sometimes I despaired of ever being free of the burden and pain of their care.) I have often said, and have executed a living will that formally states, that I want no extraordinary measures taken to keep me alive. I joke, “just put me on an ice flow”.

    But I would not want to be starved to death without consent. I would not want to die in terrible thirst. Who among us hasn’t been on a hike with little water and imagined what it would be like to be lost and without water. It is a frightening thought.

    Even giving Michael the benefit of the doubt, which I do not personally believe he deserves, why put Terri through this? Why not let her parents give her food and water? I’m all for the sanctity of marriage, but if my husband decided to starve me and deprive me of water when I couldn’t speak for myself, I certainly would hope that the courts would step in. And that is coming from a sometimes strident Libertarian.

    My conclusion – it is one thing to stop providing extraordinary measures that keep a person alive. It is one thing to remove a treatment that is preventing death. But it is quite another to actively cause a death by refusing to feed or give water. Why not try to let her eat? Why not give her some water? Better she die trying to live, then be denied the chance at all. And to bring this all full circle – I think that is what is animating Peggy Noonan. Why is it so important to some people that Terri be denied a chance at life?

    On a side note, I don’t see how someone could conclude that it is simple hypocrisy to believe that Saddam Hussein required action and Terri Schievo does not. (please, please, no Iraq debate – it is not the point I am making.) In both personal and political life, sometimes the proper thing to do is wait, and sometimes one must act. A person who always acts or always waits would be dysfunctional. Chosing between action and inaction is called judgement.

    I am off to the beach to take a walk. Blessings to all, and Godspeed to Terri.

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  16. Danny said on March 25, 2005 at 3:52 pm

    I think that is what is animating Peggy Noonan. Why is it so important to some people that Terri be denied a chance at life?

    Well put Maureen. Your whole post. I can’t get over how f—ing suddenly important it is to some folks in the media and on certain weblogs (e.g. poorman) that Terri die.

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  17. Jeff said on March 25, 2005 at 5:02 pm

    . . . along with NN.C’s crackling sardonicism, i never miss this blog and the comments because you, Nancy, have the most comprehensively diverse participating readership out there (Lileks may be there, but he ain’t got no comments unless you count the “Backfence”). Always unexpected provocative pleasures for the mind, and thanks for maintaining this site (the chocolate bunny is, uh, in the mail).

    Peace, Jeff

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  18. Nance said on March 25, 2005 at 9:12 pm

    Well, the last thing I want to do is get into a debate about this; the last week has been utterly maddening, and it’s one of the few news stories that makes me feel like an intruder into private business just for taking an interest in it. But a reminder to those who say, “Why not wait a little longer and see what therapy can do?” That’s all her husband has been doing for the last seven years or so — waiting. We forget that while we’ve been aware of the case only in its endgame, it had a long evolution to this point.

    I think her parents have been very adept at pushing the general impression that Michael wanted to pull the tube from the moment she arrived at the hospital after her heart attack. She’s HAD therapy. It hasn’t been effective. I keep hearing “Why hasn’t she had an MRI?” Well, for one reason, she’s already had CT scans that show massive brain damage; it’s like regarding a leg with a compound fracture. The X-rays show you the extent of the break, and you can see the evidence with your naked eye. You don’t need an MRI and five more opinions to tell you it’s a compound fracture. Also, apparently one of her earlier therapies — pursued by her husband — was some sort of brain implant that would make the scan meaningless.

    I think the parents are like people who ran down to Mexico for laetrile cancer cures. They’re desperate. And who can blame them? Anyone with an ounce of empathy can see the big themes here, and no, they’re not Catholicism and the “culture of death.” The husband is young; he wants a life. They’re old, and like all parents, not only is the death of a child unbearable, they know that when their child dies, it won’t be long before they’re dead too. Terri’s continued existence gives them something to live for.

    In a perfect world, Michael would give the parents what they want; it would make them happy and if Terri’s checked out, what’s the harm? But he’s obviously decided the madness has to end sometime, and this is his only out. I heard a neurologist on “Science Friday” today say that terminal patients who’ve asked for their own tubes to be removed have been able to give feedback for at least a while into the process, and say the hunger only lasts a day or two, until ketosis takes over. Surely the dehydration would be worse, but from all obvious accounts it appears to be less awful than we would imagine.

    Small comfort, I know, but something. The whole case makes me ill. As if the combined human misery wasn’t enough, all this strutting and posturing just seems repulsive.

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  19. brian stouder said on March 25, 2005 at 10:26 pm

    Plenty of “strutting” from all around, I’d say, Nance.

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