Saturday, March 26, 2005
Tonight's Story That Everyone Else Has Linked To Already, But We're Linking To It Anyway and We Think You Should Too:
More than 16 years ago, far from the political passions that have defined the Schiavo controversy, the DeLay family endured its own wrenching end-of-life crisis. The man in a coma, kept alive by intravenous lines and oxygen equipment, was [Rep. Tom] DeLay's father, Charles Ray DeLay.UPDATE (3/27): We blush to admit that we posted the above late last night, when we were quite groggy, and owing to religious observances this morning (Wisconsin-Carolina: tied at the half!) we did not get around to reading the second half of the story until a few minutes ago. But damn! -- it turns out that Rep. DeLay is not only a barbarian, but a predatory, self-serving, frivolous parasite (and thanks to Zemblan patriot T.C. for the tip):
Then, freshly reelected to a third term in the House, the 41-year-old DeLay waited, all but helpless, for the verdict of doctors . . . .
"There was no point to even really talking about it," Maxine DeLay, the congressman's 81-year-old widowed mother, recalled in an interview last week. "There was no way [Charles] wanted to live like that. Tom knew — we all knew — his father wouldn't have wanted to live that way."
Doctors advised that he would "basically be a vegetable," said the congressman's aunt, JoAnne DeLay.
When his father's kidneys failed, the DeLay family decided against connecting him to a dialysis machine. "Extraordinary measures to prolong life were not initiated," said his medical report, citing "agreement with the family's wishes." His bedside chart carried the instruction: "Do not resuscitate."
On Dec. 14, 1988, the DeLay patriarch "expired with his family in attendance."
"The situation faced by the congressman's family was entirely different than Terri Schiavo's," said a spokesman for the majority leader, who declined requests for an interview.
"The only thing keeping her alive is the food and water we all need to survive. His father was on a ventilator and other machines to sustain him," said Dan Allen, DeLay's press aide.
There were also these similarities: Both stricken patients were severely brain-damaged. Both were incapable of surviving without medical assistance. Both were said to have expressed a desire to be spared from being kept alive by artificial means. And neither of them had a living will.
In 1990, the DeLays filed suit against Midcap Bearing Corp. of San Antonio and Lovejoy Inc. of Illinois, the distributor and maker of a coupling that the family said had failed and caused the tram to hurtle out of control [causing Charles DeLay's injury] . . . .UPDATE II (3/27): From our distinguished colleague Roger Gathman of Limited, Inc.:
The case thrust Rep. DeLay into unfamiliar territory — the front page of a civil complaint as a plaintiff. He is an outspoken defender of business against what he calls the crippling effects of "predatory, self-serving litigation" . . . .
Rep. DeLay, who since has taken a leading role promoting tort reform, wants to rein in trial lawyers to protect American businesses from what he calls "frivolous, parasitic lawsuits" that raise insurance premiums and "kill jobs."
Last September, he expressed less than warm sentiment for attorneys when he took the floor of the House to condemn trial lawyers who, he said, "get fat off the pain" of plaintiffs and off "the hard work" of defendants.
Aides for DeLay defended his role as a plaintiff in the family lawsuit, saying he did not follow the legal case and was not aware of its final outcome.
The case was resolved in 1993 with payment of an undisclosed sum, said to be about $250,000, according to sources familiar with the out-of-court settlement. DeLay signed over his share of any proceeds to his mother, said his aides.
Three years later, DeLay cosponsored a bill specifically designed to override state laws on product liability such as the one cited in his family's lawsuit. The legislation provided sweeping exemptions for product sellers.
The 1996 bill was vetoed by President Clinton, who said he objected to the DeLay-backed measure because it "tilts against American families and would deprive them of the ability to recover fully when they are injured by a defective product."
LI has little to say about the Schiavo ordeal except that the eructation of Tom Delay on the American scene was diagnosed, in its essence, for all time by H.L. Mencken’s coverage of the Scopes Trial, and his obituary of William Jennings Bryan. From that obituary, we would like to lift a phrase that is even more apposite for a man who sprayed DDT for a living before he decided there had to be an easier way to make a buck and went to that Valhalla of chiselers, egomaniacs, and penny ante geniuses, D.C. – the “seduluous flycatcher.” We rip it from perhaps the most marvelous passage ever to open an obituary:
“Has it been marked by historians that the late William Jennings Bryan’s last secular act on this earth was to catch flies? A curious detail, and not without its sardonic overtones. He was the most sedulous flycatcher in American history, and by long odds the most successful. His quarry, or course, was not Musca domestica but Homo neandertalensis.”
And then there is this description of Bryan at the Scopes trial, which pretty much captures the Delay persona as it trails clouds of talk radio heartburn.
“One day it dawned on me that Bryan, after all, was an evangelical Christian only by sort of afterthought -- that his career in this world, and the glories thereof, had actually come to an end before he ever began whooping for Genesis. So I came to this conclusion: that what really moved him was a lust for revenge. The men of the cities had destroyed him and made a mock of him; now he would lead the yokels against them. Various facts clicked into the theory, and I hold it still. The hatred in the old man's burning eyes was not for the enemies of God; it was for the enemies of Bryan.
Thus he fought his last fight, eager only for blood. It quickly became frenzied and preposterous, and after that pathetic. All sense departed from him. He bit right and left, like a dog with rabies. He descended to demagogy so dreadful that his very associates blushed. His one yearning was to keep his yokels heated up -- to lead his forlorn mob against the foe.”