Misdirection

Orin Kerr politely wonders what the hell Jeb Bush thinks he’s up to in asking the Pinellas county prosecutor to “investigate” supposed inconsistencies in Michael Schiavo’s account of his wife’s collapse and his subsequent call to 911. He might equally wonder what the prosecutor is up to announcing that he will in fact proceed with the “investigation.”

The answer seems to me as straightforward as it is disgusting: Jeb is trying to divert attention from the autopsy report showing that Terry Schiavo had massive neuronal loss — a brain weight about half of normal, and a completely dead visual cortex — and that her parents and their supporters must therefore have been either self-deluded or lying when they claimed that Schiavo was conscious and responsive. Moreover, the autopsy found no evidence to support the groundless accusastions of spousal abuse directed by the “save-Terri” forces at Michael Schiavo. Naturally, Jeb would like to change the subject, and apparently has found a prosecutor as morally challenged as he is.

The whole charade is made even more ridiculous by the fact that the EMTs foundTerri Schiavo in ventricular fibrillation, making it virtually impossible that there was a gap of as much as half an hour between her collapse and their appearance at the scene.

What’s especially horrible is that Jeb’s little piece of stage magic has mostly worked: we’re talking about whether Michael Schiavo ought to be investigated rather than whether Sen. Dr. Frist ought to have his medical license lifted and how many incarnations Jeb Bush, for his role in the affair, should have to spend as a castrated warthog with the shingles.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com