Hot Stories for the Week of March 14

This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys", March 19, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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FRED BARNES, HOST: The hot story is Terri’s fate, obviously talking about Terri Schiavo (search), the Florida woman who has been in a near-coma now, I guess, for 15 years after having a horrible stroke.

And her husband wants to have her — the feeding tube removed so after days or weeks she’ll die, and actually on Friday, the feeding tube was removed.

Now, it’s been removed twice before, and, and put back in through various legal maneuvers by her parents and her brother and sister, who say they have been able to communicate with her in some fashion, and they want her kept alive.

And they have offered to take over her care and pay for all that, but her husband says no, and the courts have upheld him in every, in every instance.

For me, Mort, it comes down to this. Do you kill a living but heavily disabled person whose parents, and this is the wrinkle in this case, whose parents want to take care of her, who’ve offered to relieve the husband of any financial burden or any burden of care, do you kill such a person?

And I think for me, the answer is very simple, it’s no, you protect life.

MORT KONDRACKE, HOST: Well, look, I was in this situation, something like it, not exactly the same way with, with my wife, Milly, who did have a living will, and that’s the great lesson of this, get a living will. And as it turned out, I didn’t have to make the decision of whether to pull the feeding tube.

But, but I understand exactly where the parents are coming from. I mean, you want to believe that this person is alive and, and, and can communicate with you, in spite of the fact that it’s been 15 years that she’s been in a, a, in a vegetative state. You’re hoping beyond hope that she’ll somehow recover, although all the doctors say that she won’t.

And on the other hand, Michael Schiavo (search) says he loves her, that he wants to let her go, and I deeply sympathize with that, with that point of view as well. She’s not going to recover. She has been in a persistent vegetative state for 15 years.

And the way I come out on this is, let her go, let her be with God. The politicians and the political activists ought to just get out of the way. Now...

BARNES: But don’t you think that her parents offering to take all the burdens from her husband, doesn’t that make this case different?

KONDRACKE: You know, it is legally the husband’s responsibility...

And now, if you would have all kinds of situations where, for example, somebody could intervene and say that a living will is an act of assisted suicide, you know, of voluntary suicide, we got to stop that.

You know, I just don’t think that it ought to be, you know, I mean, you believe in the sanctity of marriage. The husband is responsible here.

BARNES: But I don’t believe that the sanctity of marriage means the husband can kill the wife.

KONDRACKE: Well, you know, it’s a question of killing or letting go. I mean, what kind of life is this?

This woman is not coming back. Is this living?

BARNES: Yes, it is. She’s alive. I mean, anyway, well, let’s move on…

KONDRACKE: What, what kind of life is it? OK…

The other hot story is wartime. The, this sort of reminds me of the, back in the cold war, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (search) used to have a clock. You know, it’s so many minutes to midnight. That was nuclear war.

Well, the, the House and the Senate are already at war in some issues. The House is at war with the alleged ethical violations of Tom DeLay (search), and they’re fighting over Social Security, which we will get to later in our “Beyond the Beltway” segment.

And what, what everybody’s waiting for is, will the Democrats really shut down the Senate of the United States if the Republicans try to put through this provision that you can’t filibuster in the case of judicial nominations?

Here’s the, the rhetoric being, being fired by Democrat Chuck Schumer (search) and George Allen (search) for the Republicans. Watch.


U.S. SENATOR CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: The ideologues in the Senate want to turn what the founding fathers called the cooling saucer of democracy into the rubber stamp of dictatorship. We will not let them.

U.S. SENATOR GEORGE ALLEN (R), VIRGINIA: They’re going to fight us on tax cuts, they’re going to fight us when we’re trying to get medical liability reform. I suspect they’ll fight on some of the issues in the energy bill. And it’ll be — Oh, on Social Security, we know the Democrats are so helpful to us in Social Security. So on all of the issues, the Democrats simply will continue to obstruct...



KONDRACKE: Now, on the Tom DeLay fight, I mean, he’s a great friend of yours, one of your heroes. He’s a mean, tough, ruthless guy.

BARNES: That’s why I like him.

KONDRACKE: Who — yes, who once upon a time tried to get, and was admonished for it, tried to get the trade associations to fire lobbyists who were, who were Democrats, you know, I mean, and he’s that tough.

Now, the Democrats are trying to paint him as Boss Tweed (search) or Spiro Agnew (search) or somebody like that. Every time I look at one of the alleged ethical violations, there is a way that you can see, look at the case where, you know, Tom DeLay did nothing wrong.

A lot of his aides, former aides, are in a lot of trouble, legal trouble. The rule is that if Tom DeLay gets indicted for something, he’s got to step down as, as leader.


KONDRACKE: At the moment, he hasn’t been indicted. At the moment, he hasn’t violated any House rule.


KONDRACKE: So I’m not saying leave him alone, but, you know, he’s not guilty until proved guilty.

BARNES: Yes, I am saying leave him alone. Tom DeLay hasn’t done anything that members of Congress don’t routinely do. It’s the way they act. They take trips that are financed by, by different groups and so on, some of which have an interest in what goes on in Congress. It’s common practice.

What’s new here is, the Democrats and the media have joined together in an attack on DeLay in a way that I’ve really never seen before. They haven’t charged, I mean, there aren’t any actual violations of anything, as you noted.

Remember, remember back in the ‘80s when Newt Gingrich was going after Jim Wright? Now, did the press join in with Newt Gingrich on that and actually be the spearhead of the thing? No, they didn’t. I think there’s an odor of liberal bias here, Mort, and you know it.

Let me turn to the nuclear option here real quickly, that I think Republicans are going to impose, where there’ll be no filibuster allowed on judges. Democrats would be crazy to shut down the Senate, because I don’t think they have the public on their side, because Republicans would be all, they’d only be calling for majority rule.

KONDRACKE: It’s a question of who is breaking precedent here. It is the Democrats who have broken the historic precedent that you do not filibuster judicial nominations. So I think, I think they’re going to be in the wrong.

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