The Washington Post reported yesterday on an anonymous memo relating to the Terri Schiavo case that allegedly was sent to all of the Republicans in the Senate. ABC News apparently obtained a copy of the memo, and gave it to the Post. Here is how the Post describes the memo:
In a memo distributed only to Republican senators, the Schiavo case was characterized as “a great political issue” that could pay dividends with Christian conservatives, whose support is essential in midterm elections such as those coming up in 2006.
An unsigned one-page memo, distributed to Republican senators, said the debate over Schiavo would appeal to the party’s base, or core, supporters. The memo singled out Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), who is up for reelection next year and is potentially vulnerable in a state President Bush won last year.
“This is an important moral issue and the pro-life base will be excited that the Senate is debating this important issue,” said the memo, which was reported by ABC News and later given to The Washington Post. “This is a great political issue, because Senator Nelson of Florida has already refused to become a cosponsor and this is a tough issue for Democrats.”
This memo, obviously, ties in with the Democrats’ talking point that the Republicans don’t really care about a disabled woman who is being starved to death, but are seeking political advantage. (Simultaneously, they point out poll data suggesting that an overwhelming majority of Americans are on their side. Consistency is never required of Democrats.) But I have to wonder: is the memo genuine, or is it a Democratic dirty trick?
I haven’t seen a complete copy of the memo, and to my knowledge, none is available online. The most complete characterization of the memo I’ve seen is on this liberal site. But what I really want to see is a copy of the memo itself. It is described as “unsigned.” What does this mean? Most Senate and House memos are written on letterhead that show whose office they came from. Is this memo on such letterhead? Apparently not. As best I can tell, it is anonymous. Is it simply a one-page memo on blank white paper that purports to come from a Republican? If so, is there any reason to assume that it is genuine? How does the Senate’s mail system work? Can anyone write an anonymous memo, and send it to 55 Republican Senators, with a copy to ABC News?
Evidently some have suggested that the memo may have originated in the office of Senator Rick Santorum. Santorum apparently denies any involvement.
Based on the fragments from the memo that were reported by the Post, I question its authenticity. It does not sound like something written by a conservative; it sounds like a liberal fantasy of how conservatives talk. What conservative would write that the case of a woman condemned to death by starvation is “a great political issue”? Maybe such a person exists, but I doubt it. And who would send an anonymous missive to all 55 Republican Senators, commenting on political tactics and strategies? That seems very odd. Who would send a memo to Senators like Lincoln Chaffee, Arlen Specter and Olympia Snowe, to the effect that “the pro-life base will be excited?” That requires an extraordinary level of political obtuseness.
I haven’t even seen the memo yet, so I am reluctant to proclaim it a Democratic fraud. But, for the reasons stated, my suspicions are aroused. Let’s hear from our readers, and let’s see a copy of the “unsigned” memo, and figure out whether it’s a fake or not. Either it’s a fraud, or someone needs to be fired.
UPDATE: ABC reports the alleged complete text of the memo here. This means little or nothing, however; what we need is the memo in PDF. I’ve sent an email to Mike Allen of the Washington Post asking for a copy of the memo, and asking him to explain what he did to verify its authenticity. Stay tuned.