Jeb Bush for President???: Looking Back at the Terri Schiavo Case

Jeb Bush Former Governor of Florida

Jeb Bush
Former Governor of Florida

By Elaine Magliaro

Jeb Bush announced recently that he planned to “actively”explore a 2016 presidential run. The Boston Globe reported that Bush posted a holiday message on his Facebook page and Twitter account, in which he said that he had discussed the ‘‘future of our nation’’ and a possible bid for the White House with members of his family over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Bush wrote: ‘‘As a result of these conversations and thoughtful consideration of the kind of strong leadership I think America needs, I have decided to actively explore the possibility of running for president of the United States.” He added, ‘‘In the coming months, I hope to visit with many of you and have a conversation about restoring the promise of America.’’

The former governor of Florida promised to focus on “ideas and policies that will expand opportunity and prosperity for all Americans.” Josh Israel (ThinkProgress) noted that Bush didn’t make mention “of his most controversial act during his two terms in office: his attempts to take custody of Terri Schiavo and overrule her husband Michael’s decision to remove her feeding tube, fifteen years after cardiac arrest had left her in a vegetative state.”

Israel said that ThinkProgress spoke with Michael Schiavo and George Felos, the attorney who represented him in the matter about Bush’s potential run for the presidency. Both Schiavo and Felos “expressed concern that Bush’s record was one of government interference and opposing individual liberty.” Schiavo told ThinkProgress, “If you want a government that’s gonna intrude on your life, enforce their personal views on you, then I guess Jeb Bush is your man.” He added, “We really don’t need another Bush in office.”

Israel said that Felos described Bush’s interference in the Schiavo case as, “An egregious example of the fat hand of government inserting itself into a family’s medical decision and the obtrusive hand of government trying to override their decision.”

Despite the fact that Michael Schiavo got a court order in 2002 to remove his wife’s feeding tube…Jeb Bush intervened. The Florida governor pushed “the state legislature to pass an unconstitutional bill in a special session giving him authority to order the feeding tube reinserted.” Felos said that when a state judge ordered the tube removed again, Bush “manipulated the organs of state government in order to try to evade the court order.”

On Tuesday, Charles Pierce posted an article titled A WOMAN DIES ON BEECH STREET: REVISITING THE TERRI SCHIAVO CASE for his Politics Blog at Esquire:


The one abiding characteristic of the two generations of the Bush family that have gifted the nation with their political leadership is a reckless, selfish brand of political ambition. Quite simply, in the calculations of the Bush family, there are two kinds of people: Us and Everybody Else. And they don’t care how many of the latter get ground up as long as the Bush family gets what it wants. They are like the Russian mob of politics; they’ll do business with anybody. They have a steel-reinforced steamer trunk in which they can park the family’s collective conscience when one of them sees even a scrap of power that belongs to someone else. This was how patriarch Prescott worked with the Nazis. This is how Poppy Bush put the now-deceased ratfcker Lee Atwater to work, slandering and race-baiting Poppy’s way to the White House. (Not for nothing did Richard Ben Cramer title his sweeping account of the relatively petty 1988 presidential campaign, What It Takes.) Son George was masterminded into a position to screw up the world by Karl Rove, who learned his trade from Atwater, but who was so foul a presence that he even turned Poppy’s cast-iron stomach. If it meant getting what they wanted, and what they in their bones know they deserved, the Bush family would have kissed Carlo Gambino’s ass in Nieman Marcus’s window at high noon on Christmas Eve.

Now comes son Jeb (!), and he has this family trait in spades, even though a lot of people are working hard through the holidays to re-cast him as the reasonable candidate of the “Republican Establishment.” However, back when his dim sibling was in the White House, Jeb (!) was governor of Florida and, as such, he helped put some wonderful people doing god’s own thankless work through a personal kind of hell just because Jeb (!) thought there would be a political advantage to be gained by doing so, both for himself and for his dim brother. He allied himself with vandals, trespassers, and people who put bounties on other people’s heads. He put the power of his office behind the efforts of people who call in bomb threats to elementary schools just because they happen to be down the road. He threw in his lot with the people who phone in death threats to federal judges. For his own pathetic political aggrandizement, he helped an organized brigade of dangerous, god-bothering lunatics to threaten and to torment some people whose shoes he is not fit to shine.


In his book Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free (Doubleday, 2009), Pierce devoted an entire chapter to the Terri Schiavo case. He has posted the chapter on Politics Blog.

Excerpt from the Pierce’s chapter about the Terri Schiavo case:

On October 21, 2003, at the encouragement of Governor Jeb Bush, the Florida state legislature passed “Terri’s Law,” a measure specifically giving Bush the unilateral power to replace Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube, which had been removed, for the second time during the endless litigation, six days earlier. The law was nakedly, almost hilariously, unconstitutional, in part because it directly contradicted a law the legislature had passed during a less frenzied time several years earlier.

It seemed to Annie Santa-Maria that she had become hostage to a situation detached from any familiar reality. She knew the issues involved in the actual debate, knew them backward and forward. Hell, she’d helped develop the procedures going all the way back to her volunteer days with AIDS patients. But, now, in this one case, it seemed that her life and her work were following a script written by someone else. This was the way she remembered living in Cuba.

“I was watching this”—Annie laughs—”and I’m thinking, ‘Surely, they’re not going to pass this. They’re going to overturn the self-determination act they passed years ago.’ And they did. They created a law that was so narrow, that was just for this case, that it was unconstitutional. And when that didn’t work, they went to the Florida Supreme Court, and then to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Click here to read A Woman Dies on Beech Street by Charles Pierce.



Terri Schiavo’s Husband Speaks Out On Jeb Bush’s Presidential Bid (ThinkProgress)

Jeb Bush plans to ‘actively explore’ run for president (Boston Globe)


Courts Say No; Governor Bush in Schiavo Bid (New York Times)

This entry was posted in Conservatives, Courts, Government, United States and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Jeb Bush for President???: Looking Back at the Terri Schiavo Case

  1. Inga says:

    In the Schiavo case and in the case of the brain dead woman, Marlise Munoz, we see that those who purport to want small government are more than willing to expand government and use if to interfere with the wishes of its citizens. I can see these people giving personhood to a zygote. Thier extreme religious right ideology will be used to justify their interference in people’s privacy, I have no doubt about it. The handwriting is on the wall.

  2. Inga, isn’t it ironic that the ones who cry loudest for “small government” seem to be the ones shouting loudest to make government more intrusive in our bedrooms, doctor’s offices and holiday displays. Don’t tell me what to do, but by damn, i am going to take charge of the most intimate parts of your life. 🙄

    An authoritarian’s gotta do what an authoritarian’s gotta do, I suppose.

  3. buckaroo says:

    This Schiavo case has many facets to it: the parents of Terri Schiavo, the husband after Terri’s disability began acuired a new girlfriend with presentation. Medical malpractice for failure to diagnose. Breakdown of relations between husband & his in-laws. Arguments over “she might …..” – where was she to be buried – church services, question of abuse against the disable Terri, legal wrangling etc. My question is why did this get into the courts in the first place with it associated emotions ? Seems we sometime understand parents emotion for a child, and at other time we don’t. Interesting ……

  4. Inga says:

    Yes Chuck, it is odd that when the issue is sex, procreation, abortion, and end of life issues, using government to enforce that authoritarian ideology is acceptable. I think libertarians have fallen down here, they seem to mostly just enable conservativism on these issues. Or perhaps many libertarians are so in name only.

  5. Elaine M. says:

    Terri Schiavo Timeline

    Feb. 25, 1990
    Terri Schiavo collapses in her home. Doctors believe a potassium imbalance caused her heart to temporarily stop, cutting off oxygen to her brain. She goes into a coma, and though her husband, Michael, raises money for an operation to implant a stimulator in her brain, she does not come out of the coma, remaining in what a doctor will later call a “persistent vegetative state.”

    November 1992
    Michael Schiavo wins malpractice suit accusing doctors of misdiagnosing his wife for not recognizing that she was suffering from an eating disorder before her heart stopped. A jury awards more than more than $700,000 for her care, Michael receives an additional $300,000.

    In February, Terri’s parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, have a dispute with Michael over the malpractice suit money and Terri’s care. In July, they file a petition to have Michael removed as Terri’s guardian, but the case is later dismissed.

    May 1998
    Michael Schiavo files a petition to remove Terri’s feeding tube.

    Feb. 11, 2000
    Pinellas, Fla., Circuit Judge George Greer rules the feeding tube can be removed.

    April 24, 2001
    Terri’s feeding tube is removed, after the 2nd District Court of Appeal upheld Greer’s decision and both the Florida Supreme Court and U.S. Supreme Court refused to intervene.

  6. blouise says:

    It was when Jeb’s brother, George, and all those legislators rushed back to D.C. in late March of 2005 (?) to pass that ridiculous piece of legislation at 1:00am that I knew, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that conservatives were crazy … full-blown, bat shit, crazee.

  7. Buckaroo, et al.
    The type of case Shiavo represents is one faced in medical care and medical ethics on a daily basis. I have served on the medical ethics committee of a major big city medical center.

    I don’t fault Michael for wanting to move on with his life. He was told by the treatment team that Terry was dead, kept “alive” as no more than a heart/lung function. And even that was due to artificial means. Her parents were obviously in denial, and managed to sell that notion to a willing group of authoritarian personalty types who saw a chance to make political points. Points made on the modern equivalent of a zombie; the living dead.

    Had they been willing to do the right thing, they would have called Hospice, and that would have been that. She would have been allowed a death with dignity. One has to wonder how much of the drama was about money, and how much about love. As it was, I have read that the money all ended up going for legal bills. Michael Schiavo signed up as a user on Daily Kos, posting 23 diaries about what was going on from his perspective.

    I have run into the analogue of Terry Schiavo’s parents on many occasions. I recall being summoned to an emergency meeting of the medical center ethics committee. The chairman told us the family of a man in kidney failure and a half dozen other serious life threatening problems were demanding we do something. They wanted him to have surgery, among other things. The man was terminally ill, and IIRC, the kidney failure was due to a urinary tract cancer. His foot-thick stack of medical records were on the table, but an executive summary was passed around. The man was terminal, and the family is out in the waiting area demanding surgery be done “to save his life.” It was clear to us that he was not likely to live another 24 hours. Our biggest problem regarding surgery was that not a single anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist was willing to put him under for surgery. Their reason was simple, and medically sound. Anesthesia would kill him. Second, no surgeon would agree to do the surgery even if we found an anesthesiologist brave enough to try it. The family, who was just as passionate as Terry Schiavo’s parents, were literally screaming in the hallways they would sue everyone in sight if we didn’t “save” his life.

    After we met for about an hour, the attending physician went to talk to the family about the problem with surgery. They tried to buy a little time by telling the family they were trying to get the one surgeon who was “qualified” to do the surgery. While that conversation was going on, he died, saving everyone a major headache. And he died with at least a little dignity, despite the histrionic antics of his family.

  8. eniobob says:


    ” late March of 2005 (?) to pass that ridiculous piece of legislation at 1:00am”
    That was the dry run for what we have today.

  9. bron98 says:

    There are libertarians who dont think abortion is a good idea and who worry where doctor assisted suicide would lead. I am one of them. Although neither one is the states business.

  10. bettykath says:

    Aw, comeon. He’s next in line. He’s of their blood. He was gubner when big brother Georgie needed his state’s electoral votes and Georgie got them. Ok, Georgie didn’t get the votes but he got enough of a mess that it allowed the team of 5 in black robes to anoint him. Like a royals, the Bushes are entitled and if you object, well, they got their ways. Wonder if Neal, he of savings and loan fame will be brought out next. Or will it be someone of the next generation. They’re of age. Face it, when you have royalty, well, you got the privileged cus their entitled.

    Been doing some family genealogy. Can’t believe I’m from one of their trees, the whole bunch of them, including Babs. ARggga. Just remember, you can pick your friends but not your family. Thank goodness we’re faaaaar removed.

  11. bron98 says:

    By the way, I hope Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton are afflicted with some sort of transient nerological disorder which lasts from September of 2015 to July of 2016.

    It would clearly be evidence of a superior being and his mercy for the people of America.

  12. bettykath says:

    bron, re: abortion. We need the government to protect the right of the woman to decide and for the procedure to be available, affordable, and safe. It’s not doing a very good job right now.

  13. bettykath says:

    Notice how the topic shows up in the side bar? LOL

  14. blouise says:



    BTW … quite a contrast between March 2005 and August 2005. Quite a rush to save Schiavo, not so much to save the citizens of New Orleans. I always thought George Bush was very sincere when he said, “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job,”

    Now, to be fair, Jeb performed pretty well as governor for his state during Katrina but let’s not forget the infamous “One Florida” which in the words of the Washington Post was a “prime example of Bush’s shoot-first, take-no-advice method of governing.”

    He’s definitely a “my way or the highway” kind of guy. I suspect he’ll easily take the nomination from Mitt. It’ll be the War of White Men brought to you by the War on White Men party.

    Our popcorn franchise should do well.

  15. Pingback: Jeb Bush: The Hard-Core Right-Wing “Moderate” Conservative | Flowers For Socrates

  16. Anonymously Tours says:

    Stupidity rules when idiots are in charge.

  17. “Bush leads Romney 15 percen to 14 percent among self-identified conservatives. However, even among staunch Republicans, no clear candidate has come to the fore.

    “No one candidate emerges out of the pack by holding a significant lead among key GOP subgroups,” Zogby said.

    “There are lots of questions but the biggest one for the GOP is this: can anyone stop the Democratic nominee?”

    The poll has a plus or minus margin of error of 6 percent, skewing the Republican results while still clearly tilting the point spread to Clinton, who also has not formally announced her intention to run.
    Special: The One Thing You Should Do for Your Prostate Every Morning
    But Zogby notes that there is a long way to go to 2016.

    “Of course, it is early. We are only taking a temperature before any fever hits. But if the election were held today, the next president is a ‘she,'” Zogby said.

  18. eniobob says:

    BTW: A thought from the home folk on who may be one of his (Jeb Bush) competitors.May I qoute AT on this one:

    “Anonymously Tours says:
    December 27, 2014 at 12:15 pm

    Stupidity rules when idiots are in charge.”

    Just an example.

    “There is some speculation that our governor will eventually bow out of the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination in return for a position in the administration of the next President Bush.

    I doubt that will happen. But if it does, let’s hope the position in question isn’t secretary of state.

    Earlier this week, Chris Christie showed once again that he hasn’t the vaguest idea how to handle foreign relations. That came when he attacked President Barack Obama’s decision to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba.”

  19. bettykath says:

    How about Christie as AG? Bet he’s go for it, First thing – fire the prosecutor investigating the Washington Bridge debacle and the hurricane money. No replacement necessary.

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