Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks at an event on Feb. 4, 2015 in Detroit, Mich.
Photo by Paul Sancya/AP

‘Any regrets over the Terri Schiavo fight?’

At last week’s CPAC event, Fox’s Sean Hannity asked former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), “Any regrets over the Terri Schiavo fight?” The likely presidential candidate responded that he has no regrets at all.
 
“[I]n this case, here was a woman who was vulnerable, and the court, because of our laws, didn’t allow her – they were going to allow her to be starved to death,” Bush said. “So we passed a law, Terri’s Law that was a year later ruled unconstitutional. I stayed within the law, but I acted on my core belief that the most vulnerable in our society should be in the front of the line. They should receive our love and protection. And that’s exactly what I did.”
 
The far-right audience applauded the answer, though Bloomberg Politics reports today that some social conservatives in Iowa are still bothered Bush didn’t defy the judiciary and ignore court orders.
 
Michael Schiavo, however, has a very different perspective.
Michael Schiavo was the husband of Terri Schiavo, the brain-dead woman from the Tampa Bay area who ended up at the center of one of the most contentious, drawn-out conflicts in the history of America’s culture wars. The fight over her death lasted almost a decade. It started as a private legal back-and-forth between her husband and her parents. Before it ended, it moved from circuit courts to district courts to state courts to federal courts, to the U.S. Supreme Court, from the state legislature in Tallahassee to Congress in Washington. The president got involved. So did the pope.
 
But it never would have become what it became if not for the dogged intervention of the governor of Florida at the time, the second son of the 41st president, the younger brother of the 43rd, the man who sits near the top of the extended early list of likely 2016 Republican presidential candidates…. Longtime watchers of John Ellis Bush say what he did throughout the Terri Schiavo case demonstrates how he would operate in the Oval Office. They say it’s the Jebbest thing Jeb’s ever done.
“It was a living hell,” Michael Schiavo told Politico, “and I blame him.”
 
Folks should read the whole report to get a complete picture, but there’s one angle to this story that often goes overlooked, and which Jeb will probably have to comment on sooner or later. Those who followed the story at the time probably remember the gist of the heartbreaking controversy: Terri Schiavo spent a decade in a vegetative state. Michael Schiavo eventually decided it was time to remove his wife from the feeding tubes that were keeping her alive, and he went to court to get approval to allow Terri to die naturally.
 
Jeb Bush intervened and a political circus ensued.
 
What I’d forgotten about was that Terri Schiavo’s death did not end the controversy. In the summer of 2005, a few months after Schiavo passed, Jeb Bush asked a prosecutor to investigate whether Michael Schiavo called 911 too slowly 15 years earlier.
 
In other words, based on nothing, Florida’s then-governor kept pushing the Terri Schiavo controversy, even after she was gone, suggesting foul play may have been a factor in her case. Is it any wonder Michael Schiavo blames Bush for turning his life into “a living hell”?
 
It fell to Florida’s state attorney to tell Bush there was simply no evidence to substantiate the allegations.
 
“Any regrets over the Terri Schiavo fight?” is a good question. “No” is a poor answer.
 

Florida and Jeb Bush

'Any regrets over the Terri Schiavo fight?'