Ups and Downs for the Week of October 20-24

This is a partial transcript from The Beltway Boys, October 25, 2003, that has been edited for clarity.

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MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: OK, time for the ups and downs.

UP: The Right to Life Movement

MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: They get two big wins this week. First, the Florida legislature gives Governor Jeb Bush (search) the power to order a feeding tube reinserted into a brain-damaged woman, Terri Schiavo (search), and the Senate easily approves a ban on partial-birth, birth abortion, clearing the way for the president to sign it.

FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: You know, the Schiavo case, I don't think, was a close call. Here's a woman who responds to her parents when they come in,'s clear she's, she knows who they are. Her doctors, at any rate, say that rehabilitation could allow her to eat on her own without a feeding tube. Her husband has blocked that.

And her parents want to take care of her. So in a position like that, I think the legislature, and particularly Governor Jeb Bush, who got the legislature to act, have taken the right position.

And it is basically one of saying, in a pinch, in a -- when in doubt, choose life, and they've chosen life, and they've overturned this court- ordered, this court order by a state judge sought by her husband that would have allowed her to starve to death. They would have starved her to death when she still has some real signs of life.

KONDRACKE: Well, I, you know, I, I find this, this case incredibly complicated and difficult, and the, the fact is that the brain -- the woman has been brain-damaged and in a vegetative state for 13 years.

Now, what you say is true about her parents being take care of her...


KONDRACKE: ... and so I, you might be right in this case. Except that, look, what I fear is going to happen is that the right to life movement is now going to start moving into every hospice.

And every time there's a dispute over somebody, where, say, a terminal cancer patient is dying, and the husband wants to provide nothing but palliative care, but the parents say, Oh, no, no, no, we've got to stick every needle and -- that possible and keep her alive, and so on, that suddenly the legislature's going to have to get involved...


KONDRACKE: ... and we're going to make a political issue of everything. I think that, that's very bad.

BARNES: No, but that won't happen in that case, because there the patient can decide and say what he or she wants. In this case, it's a little different, since Terri Schiavo can't say that. But, but in the case here you're dreaming up, that hypothetical case, it wouldn't apply. OK.

DOWN: Medicare

BARNES: They're not threatening a filibuster yet, but Senate Democrats say the president and congressional Republicans have a long way to go before reaching a deal on Medicare (search). There were early reports of a compromise late in the week, an idea quickly shot down by Senate minority leader Tom Daschle and Senator Ted Kennedy. Watch.


SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MINORITY LEADER: There have been reports in the last 24 hours that some agreement may have been reached with regard to the Medicare prescription drug conference. I think those reports are overly optimistic, and I would say mischaracterized.

SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: The proposals which are continually being advanced by the other side on these issues are proposals that would never pass the United States Senate today in a bipartisan way.



BARNES: Yes, that means Democrats wouldn't vote for them.

KONDRACKE: Well, no, no, no.


KONDRACKE: Now, you notice that they did note use, as you pointed out...

BARNES: Yes, yes.

KONDRACKE: ... the word, the F-word...

BARNES: Right.

KONDRACKE: ... filibuster. Now, here, the situation is that the conference, which is heavily Republican, basically has sided with the, the House Republican position, which involves putting Medicare eventually into competition with, with private insurance plans, an idea which is anathema to Senate Democrats.

But what the Republicans hope is that they can work out some sort of an arrangement with Teddy Kennedy where he will maybe oppose the bill, but not, you know, insist on a Democratic filibuster, and thereby they'll get eight or, eight or so Democratic votes, and the thing will pass the House.

And then the problem is getting...Republican...conservatives...who hate the idea of building...a big new entitlement program...the only way that they're going to get it through the House is for President Bush to sit on those Republicans.

BARNES: Why did I know that you were going to get around saying the real problem was conservative Republicans in the House?

KONDRACKE: It's always the problem.

BARNES: Look -- yes, I always say that. Look, any bill, actually any Medicare reform bill that's opposed by 80 percent of Democrats in the Senate will be liked by 80 percent of Republicans in the House, so that, that won't be a problem.

The problem with what Kennedy and Daschle are saying is the, the reactionary liberal position. We will not vote for, and we will not even allow, and I bet they would filibuster, any reform of Medicare, any significant restraint of Medicare spending, we'll only allow it to be expanded. And House Republicans are rightly not going to accept that position.

DOWN: Lieutenant General William Boykin

KONDRACKE: The Pentagon launches an internal investigation into Boykin's speeches, given at churches and prayer breakfasts, in which he said a Somali Muslim warlords worship and idol and not a real God. And he also cast the war on terror as a battle between Christians and Satan.

Here's Don Rumsfeld's reaction.


DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: The president has very clear views on this subject. We do not -- he does not, nor do I, believe that we're engaged in a war against a religion. We're engaged in a global war on terrorism. Our views are different from those views that the press is reporting in connection with General Boykin.


BARNES: You know, I think Boykin has a defensible position, but, and I have defended it, but it's not one that really fits in with President Bush's global campaign to be nice to Islam and all its followers.

It was significant that Rumsfeld said, you know, the position as reported by the press. They reported that Boykin was attacking all of Islam. He was singling out to the god of Islamic terrorists and warlords, which is quite different.

But, you know, Bush has had to say, I don't agree.

KONDRACKE: Well, Boykin has actually said that radical Muslims are, are not following Islam.


KONDRACKE: So I would, my, my bottom line here is, leave the guy alone.

BARNES: Yes, mine too.

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