Donald Sensing this morning asks if Peggy Noonan led the Republicans wrong in her impassioned plea for them to act in the case of Terry Shiavo’s life.

He cites polling numbers which suggest that a larger number… about the percentage breaks that re-elected President Bush, disapprove of Congress’s actions in the case, and wonders if Peggy got it wrong.

Well, I don’t think so, even from a purely political repercussions standpoint.  To assume that the polling numbers answer Sensing’s question, also assumes that the reverse would be true; that these same people would have approved, had congress elected not to act to save the life of Shaivo.  One, however, does not equal the other, particularly given that polls measure such things in short terms and short samples and resentment involving life and death choices are often longer term. The long term repercussions to the Republicans (Or, for that matter, any party in power, and thereby in a position to take such action) would have been far greater than they would seem at the moment. Resentment is like mold; it takes a while to grow, and is often ignored until it’s a genuine problem, at which point it’s not easy to quell. I expect that would be the problem Congressional Republicans would face.

More, I suspect that most people in that poll, felt as Sensiing does here:

I don’t know enough about Terry’s condition to evaluate whether she is beyond hope of recovery, but presumably her doctors and the courts have weighed all the information

But that’s’ exactly the point; Robert Johansen, in his recent write-up to this point says:

But that isn’t the case. What you find when you examine the medical data and listen to the experiences of those who have spent the most time with Terry over the last decade is that a great deal of evidence belies the contention that Terry is in a PVS. Terry?s parents, brother, sister, and numerous other family members and friends who visit her regularly do not believe for a moment that Terry is unaware of her environment or unresponsive. At a press conference organized by the Schindlers on October 24, Terry?s mother, father, and eight others all gave accounts of how they see Terry consistently respond to people: She smiles, frowns, or acts sullenly depending on who the person is and what he or she does or says. She reacts quite markedly to music, particularly piano music, which she always especially enjoyed. A certified speech therapist asserted that Terry does attempt to verbalize and has been heard saying ?yes,? ?no,? ?Mommy,? and possibly even ?Help me.?

Even more powerful is the testimony of the numerous doctors who emphatically deny that Terry is in a PVS. The most convincing medical testimony comes from Dr. William Hammesfahr, a neurologist specializing in the treatment of brain injuries, who has spent approximately twelve hours examining Terry. At the October 24 press conference, Hammesfahr explained that Terry is able to respond to commands: She can raise and lower her limbs, although her range of motion is limited by severe muscular contractures from a lack of physical therapy for more than a decade. Doctors testifying for Michael Schiavo have dismissed such responses as reflexes. But what is most telling is Hammesfahr?s description of Terry?s response to a standard strength test: In this test he asked Terry to lift up her leg while he pressed down on it with his hand. He instructed her to keep lifting it in spite of his pressure. Hammesfahr explained how he could feel Terry pressing up against his hand with the same degree of force with which he was pressing down, so as to keep her leg in the same relative position. Such a response, Hammesfahr explained, is simply not reducible to a ?reflex.?

Hammesfahr has even observed her move her head and limbs into positions that clearly cause her discomfort and maintain them in order to carry out instructions he gave her. Such behavior, Hammesfahr said, cannot be reflexive: ?Reflexes are designed to avoid injury. They are there to prevent pain.? One has to overcome reflexes in order to perform a task in spite of discomfort or pain.

I think that had they not acted, the long term resentment would have boiled up against the Republicans once these points become more common undertanding, and that would be true however the case fell out in the courts… and regardless of her living or dying.

In fairness, I should say that I share Don’s discomfort with the Congressional action. It is not something to be imposed lightly. Yet, I think the cause,in this case, sufficient. And the diference in the perceptions I think, centers on Don’s assumptions that the courts have considered fairly all the available data. as I say, I think those taking the poll were making the same assumptions.