August 09, 2006

Stephen Latham: Has "Schiavo Backlash" Begun?

In 2005, Senator Joe Lieberman went on "Meet the Press" and told Tim Russert that "though the Congress' involvement [in the Terri Schiavo case] was awkward, unconventional, it was justified to give this woman, more than her parents or husband, the opportunity for one more chance before her life was terminated by an act which was sanctioned by a court, by the state...." Last night--just in case you hadn't heard--Lieberman, a three-term Senator and his party's most recent candidate for Vice President, lost the Connecticut democratic primary by a narrow margin to poitical newcomer Ned Lamont. Was "Schiavo backlash" a factor in the Lamont victory? Clearly, Lamont's major issue, and the driving reason for his victory over Lieberman, was Lieberman's support of the President's conduct of the war in Iraq. But Lamont has often said that the Schiavo affair was one of the first events that drove him to consider running. And his standard stump-speech--the one he delivered at house parties and rallies all around the state--revolved around "a villain, a victim and a hero." The "villain" was Alaska Congressman Don Young (of "Bridge to Nowhere" pork-finding fame); the "hero" was Rep. Jack Murtha, for reversing his position on the Iraq war. The "victim" was Terri Schiavo.

Michael Schiavo--now chair of TerriPAC, a political action group aimed at defeating those who favored the federal intervention in the Schiavo case--came to Connecticut last week to campaign for Lamont. (Some of his comments on Lieberman appear here. And the Schiavo issue is mentioned in today's coverage of the primary result by the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the LA Times, NPR, and many of the wires.

In sum: "Schiavo backlash" probably made a difference in this race--a small difference, to be sure, but then again, Lamont's margin of victory was under 4%.
- Stephen Latham

View blog reactions

| More