Terri Schiavo Case Back In The Public Eye As Jeb Bush Prepares Presidential Bid

Jeb Bush’s impending presidential campaign has brought the legal and political battle surrounding the Terri Schiavo controversy back in the news, with the Wall Street Journal today reporting that the former Florida governor is downplaying his role in the case of Terri Schiavo, the brain-dead woman in Florida who was on life support for 15 years pending lengthy court battles.

As Politico reminded us earlier this year, Jeb Bush was the single driving force behind the Terri Schiavo case becoming a full-blown national story:

The fight over [Terri Schiavo’s] death lasted almost a decade. It started as a private legal back-and-forth between her husband and her parents. Before it ended, it moved from circuit courts to district courts to state courts to federal courts, to the U.S. Supreme Court, from the state legislature in Tallahassee to Congress in Washington. The president got involved. So did the pope.

But it never would have become what it became if not for the dogged intervention of the governor of Florida at the time, the second son of the 41st president, the younger brother of the 43rd, the man who sits near the top of the extended early list of likely 2016 Republican presidential candidates. On sustained, concentrated display, seen in thousands of pages of court records and hundreds of emails he sent, was Jeb the converted Catholic, Jeb the pro-life conservative, Jeb the hands-on workaholic, Jeb the all-hours emailer—confident, competitive, powerful, obstinate Jeb. Longtime watchers of John Ellis Bush say what he did throughout the Terri Schiavo case demonstrates how he would operate in the Oval Office. They say it’s the Jebbest thing Jeb’s ever done.

The case showed he “will pursue whatever he thinks is right, virtually forever,” said Aubrey Jewett, a political science professor at the University of Central Florida. “It’s a theme of Jeb’s governorship: He really pushed executive power to the limits.”

As Bush attacks President Obama for his executive actions and promotes himself as a moderate who is trying to change the Republican Party, S.V. Dáte, author of Jeb: America’s Next Bush, explains one way that Bush promotes this image:

Jeb does not call himself the Outsourcing Governor or the Terri Schiavo Governor. He calls himself the Education Governor.

To Dáte, the Schiavo case is just one example of how inconceivable it is that Bush’s image as a moderate Governor is the current public narrative:

Jeb Bush. Not conservative enough. Try as I might, it remains impossible to see these two concepts as even remotely related….For those of us who covered Jeb’s two terms in Tallahassee, this is beyond mind-boggling. On issue after issue, Jeb’s track record in Florida pushed conservatism’s envelope to the breaking point.

Unfortunately for Bush, downplaying the Schiavo case could be difficult. Michael Schiavo, husband of the late Terri Schiavo, recently said that Bush made his life “a living hell.” He stated that Bush “should be ashamed” and that he “think[s] people really need to know what type of person he is. To bring as much pain as he did, to me and my family, that should be an issue.”

And tomorrow, a group started under Schiavo’s name “to help others avoid tragedies that reflect what Terri endured,” will host a gala keynoted by none other than Glenn Beck.

While Beck is no fan of the former governor, his prominent role at the gala will help bring even more light to the Schiavo controversy.