Despite being away for


Despite being away for several days, I’ve kept one eye on the Schiavo story. And a couple echoes or reminders keep coming into my head. One is the Elian Gonzales episode from 2000; another is Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities — only now in a different locale, a different worldview or ideology aflame, and with a new lead character: Tom DeLay.

Another part of this story, which seems hard to miss, is the increasing frequency of one-off legislation — laws intended to obstruct the normal course of law and explicitly intended to have no value as precedent. All of this, of course, is precisely inimical to the rule of law and puts legislatures and, in other cases, courts (Bush v. Gore) in the paradoxical position of overturning the law, albeit using the procedures of either creating or interpreting it.

And Tom DeLay, this is truly the last refuge for this man. The cable networks seem not quite to have caught on to the fact that almost every tentacle of the political machine this man has created is now careening toward federal or state indictments. So here he is wrapping himself in the cloth of this family tragedy, in an effort to whip up the most whippable of his supporters in his defense, and in so doing finding the hand of God working in this woman’s hospice care and in his own exposure as one of the most corrupt congressional leaders in American history. Like I said, Bonfire of the Vanities.