Contra Radley Balko and others, I do not find this memo especially outrageous, cynical, or disgusting. The fact that a political party saw a political advantage in intervening in the Schiavo case is not inherently bad, they are supposed to pick their battles strategically for effect. It would be outrageous and “cynical” if the memo had said the case actually involved a meaningless issue. Instead, rather, it calls the Schiavo issue an important moral one.

Disagree or not (I don't know where I stand, though I lean against it for federalist and patient rights reasons), it is a little bit silly to be upset that a political party acts in a strategically partisan fashion according to, and to advance, a policy agenda of its supporters. That's why parties exist!

On the other hand, wholly denying any political motive, as some have done, may be a bit unseemly.

Still, if a Democratic Congress had intervened with a new law to help a case of contract-negotiating workers in some local factory in Michigan, and there was a party memo talking about the advantage of energizing union support, defeating an opponent, and then stating that there was an important labor rights question involved: where's the problem (other than genuine disagreement on the issue)?

We elect parties to advance their interests in lockstep with their supporters' preferred public activism.

Posted by Matthew Hogan at March 22, 2005 2:12 PM