WHO IS BARBARA WELLER? When I decided this past Saturday to dive into the Terri Schiavo matter, I did so largely on the basis of a statement by Barbara Weller, a lawyer who represents the Schindler family. As I noted at the time, this paragraph from the New York Times really got my attention:
Yet Barbara Weller, a lawyer for the Schindlers, told reporters outside the hospice that Ms. Schiavo had responded emphatically Friday morning when Ms. Weller asked her to say, "I want to live." According to Ms. Weller, Ms. Schiavo's eyes "just popped right open" and she made loud noises, startling a police officer stationed outside her room, and then wept.
Now that this tragedy seems finally to be drawing to a close, I find myself asking: who is Barbara Weller? If the testimony of Dr. Jay Wolfson is to be believed - and I find him utterly credible - then some of the things that Weller has been saying seem impossible.
"From the moment we entered the room, my impression was that Terri was very purposeful and interactive and she seemed very curious about the presence of obvious strangers in her room," Weller explained.
As she has been described by others who have visited with her, Weller indicated Terri as glowing when her parents entered the room or interacted with her.
"When she heard their voices, and particularly her mother's voice, Terri instantly turned her head towards them and smiled," Weller says, adding that Terri often purposefully established eye contact with her family.
Weller said Terri recognized every voice in the room with the exception of the deep voice of fellow Schindler attorney David Gibbs. She said Terri searched the room until she found the man with such a resonating voice.
Along with Gibbs, Weller met with Terri at Woodside Hospice, where Terri lives, and was joined by Terri's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, Terri's sister and niece.
When Terri's family said their good-byes to leave, Weller says Terri was visibly upset.
"She almost appeared to be trying to cling to them," Weller said of Terri's interactions with her mother and sister.
"It was definitely apparent in the short time I was there that her emotions changed - it was apparent when she was happy and enjoying herself, when she was amused, when she was resting from her exertion to communicate, and when she was sad at her guests leaving," Weller said.
"The whole experience was rather moving," Weller says. "I never imagined Terri would be so active, curious, and purposeful."
World Net Daily has a greatly expanded version of Schiavo's alleged reaction to the news that her feeding tube would be removed. Again, Weller is at the center of the story, although some of this is from radical anti-abortion-rights activist Randall Terry:
Weller essentially told Terri Schiavo, "You had better say you want to live or they will kill you. Just say you want to live."
Schiavo responded with a drawn out, "IIIIII," then screamed out "waaaaaaaa" so loudly that a police officer stationed outside the room came in.
The officer then ordered Weller removed from the room, according to Terry.
The event was witnessed by Terri Schiavo's sister Suzanne Vitadamo and Suzanne's husband Michael.
"I talked to Suzy and Michael, and they both said it was unbelievable," Terry said. "It was very articulate, for Terri, but they also say this is normal [for her to communicate]."
Terry explained the family says Schiavo often is talkative, though similar to a 10-month-old.
"The words usually are not discernable, but she's responsive to commands, uses slow diction and her voice lilts to show emotion and context," he said.
Weller teared up after hearing Schiavo respond today, Terry said, and indicated Schiavo was crying.
It's because of Weller that I took the view that Judge Greer ought to visit the hospice and ask Schiavo himself whether she wants to live. I now have to believe that Weller is not telling the truth, and that the preponderance of the evidence is that she knows she's not telling the truth.
Which leads me to a final question: is it okay for a lawyer to lie in the course of representing her clients? Or is this something that the Florida bar should investigate?
Needless to say, if Weller's account is to be believed, then what's taking place right now is unspeakable. But the kinds of interactions that Weller reports would have been noticed by Dr. Wolfson and others, and could have been caught on videotape as well.
NOT STUPID ANYMORE. This story caught my eye yesterday, but I didn't have a chance to read it until this morning. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, John McKinnon reports that now that George W. Bush no longer has to worry about re-election, he doesn't have to pretend he's a moron who can't talk, can't think, and doesn't read books. How repellent is that?
Perhaps most sickening of all is that Bush and Karl Rove's view of the anti-intellectualism of the Republican base is probably right on target.