I think Tom DeLay may be on the verge of becoming the new Terri Schiavo.
The only problem is, Democrats still have yet to understand, or implement, the lessons of the first Terri Schiavo.
The takeaway lesson of Terri Schiavo was not the zealotry, fanaticism and fetishism of the "culture of life," nor was it the hypocrisy of supposed states-rightsers trying to move heaven and earth (and all the government branches therein) to intervene on a state issue. The real takeaway lesson was that the GOP leadership refused to let the Schiavo issue (or the judicial heat it stoked) endanger its legislative agenda last spring, because that would have imperiled its pro-corporation goals.
Last year, Thomas Frank explored in "What's the Matter with Kansas?" the dichotomy of a Republican Party that sells itself to America's poor by trumpeting religious values, and then sells out those same voters by championing big business. It's always been a tenuous relationship, built on sleight-of-hand marketing and religious-based rhetoric. But it's worked because there are very few issues which pit the Christian right's interests against the interests of big business.
When Terri Schiavo and the ensuing anti-judicial fervor came into conflict with corporate interests, the Republican Party did something unusual: It blinked.
Now, Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo speculates that DeLay's indictment may stem from his corporate donors: Donors who gave money to DeLay partly to protect their asses and partly to fatten their wallets, but with no interest in DeLay's Christian ideology.
Therefore, Marshall suggests, the corporations would have no moral qualms about betraying the cause by ratting on DeLay because there is no cause. There's merely a cost-benefit analysis.
If Marshall's right, DeLay might end up being undone because of the same schism that Schiavo exposed. And it's not just a schism between evangelical Protestantism and rampant capitalism, it's a schism between faith-based thinking and empirical materialism. Both have been perverted and twisted to satisfy the goals of corrupt leaders, but the lesson for Democrats -- if they want to win next year -- has to be that this schism is vulnerable, it can be penetrated, and it can be widened.
The problem for Democrats, however, is that first they'll have to decide which side of that schism they're on.