- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Terri’s bill

The House approved legislation last night on a voice vote that would provide one last shot at federal court review for Terri Schiavo, a brain-damaged Florida woman whose food and water will be stopped tomorrow by state court order.

Supporters of the effort worked feverishly yesterday, privately amending the legislation so it would be acceptable to enough congressmen to become law.

The bill — crafted by House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., Wisconsin Republican, and Rep. Dave Weldon, Florida Republican — would allow certain cases like Mrs. Schiavo’s to be moved to federal court, allowing a federal judge to review the case and make sure the incapacitated person’s rights were not violated.

If Congress intervenes, the Florida state order likely will be delayed pending federal court review. In the meantime, Mrs. Schiavo could not be starved to death.

“My heart is that she should not have the feeding tubes removed,” Mr. Weldon said. “I’ve been trying to — from the get-go — get a review of the proceedings in this case to make sure her rights have been protected.”

“The Florida courts set an extremely dangerous precedent by saying we must stop feeding someone who can’t feed herself. Who’s next — the disabled or those late in life?” Mr. Sensenbrenner said.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican, said he hopes his chamber will follow suit on similar legislation “addressing the Schiavo case” today or tomorrow.

Plenty of candidates

The race for the chairmanship of the House International Relations Committee has become a free-for-all, even though term limits will not force Rep. Henry J. Hyde, Illinois Republican, to give up his gavel until the end of the 109th Congress.

Mr. Hyde, who turns 81 next month, is expected to announce his retirement soon, effective at the end of his current term, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

But Roll Call reports that Rep. Dan Burton, Indiana Republican, already has begun lobbying members of the Steering Committee, based on rumors that Mr. Hyde could be named ambassador to the Vatican, which other House Republican sources said was unlikely.

“I am going to run for it,” Mr. Burton told Roll Call reporter Ben Pershing. “There’s talk that Henry might have a shot at being ambassador to the Vatican. If that happens, he may leave early and I want to be ready.”

Meanwhile, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Florida Republican, issued a press release Tuesday in which she announced her candidacy. “In the event that the position of Chairman Hyde becomes available, I would be honored to serve in that capacity,” she said.

Rep. Ed Royce, California Republican, also is pursuing the post, said his spokeswoman, Julianne Smith. Other potential candidates include Rep. Jim Leach, Iowa Republican, and Rep. Christopher H. Smith, New Jersey Republican, Roll Call said, citing unnamed House Republican sources.

Hillary’s example

“If the Democratic Party wants to figure out how to win national elections again, it has an unexpected guide: Hillary Rodham Clinton,” New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof writes.

“Sen. Clinton, much more than most in her party, understands how the national Democratic Party needs to rebrand itself. She gets it — perhaps that’s what 17 years in socially conservative Arkansas does to you,” Mr. Kristof said.

“The first lesson Mrs. Clinton is demonstrating is the need to talk much more openly about God and prayer. That resonates in a country where a Pew poll found that 60 percent of Americans pray at least once a day.

” ‘I’ve always been a praying person,’ Mrs. Clinton declared recently. Of course, this approach works in her case only because her religious faith is longs-tanding. It didn’t work for Howard Dean when he described the Book of Job as his favorite book in the New Testament.

“Then there’s abortion. Mrs. Clinton took a hugely important step in January when she sought common ground and described abortion as a ‘sad, even tragic choice to many, many women.’ ”

The columnist, who said he nevertheless doubts that Mrs. Clinton can win the presidency, added: “What has been lethal for Democrats has not been their pro-choice position as such, but the perception that they don’t even share public qualms about abortion.”

Clark regroups

Wesley Clark told supporters yesterday that he has launched a redesigned Web site for his political action committee and plans to “stay at the forefront of the national debate.”

The retired four-star general was one of several Democrats who ran for president in 2004. He abandoned the race in early February after two third-place finishes in Southern states.

“I have been working hard to regroup after the November elections,” Mr. Clark wrote in an e-mail to supporters, adding that he wants to strengthen WesPAC, his political action committee, “for the challenges ahead.”

An aide dismissed any suggestion that the revamped Web site indicates Mr. Clark plans to run for president again, the Associated Press reports.

“To think that this means Wes Clark is running for president is ridiculous,” said Erick Mullen. “Having said that, all options are on the table,” mimicking President Bush’s comments about having no plans to invade Iran.

Fan favorites

Can Rep. Tom Tancredo do what has never been done in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament — a No. 16 seed knocking off a No. 1 seed?

The Colorado Republican and leader of the battle to limit immigration is matched up against Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican and a supporter of legalizing illegal aliens, in Presidential March Madness, an online survey by Survey Saint Louis, a voter identification operation. The goal is to identify the fan favorite for Republicans’ nominee in 2008.

Mr. McCain is one of four No. 1 seeds. The others are Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani.

As of late yesterday afternoon, Mr. McCain led Mr. Tancredo with 58 percent of the vote. Meanwhile, in the other 1-16 matchup open for voting yesterday, Mr. Giuliani was stomping conservative activist Gary Bauer 90 percent to 10 percent.

Voting goes on through April 4, when a winner will be crowned. The survey is at www.surveysaintlouis.com/marchmadness/Bracket.php.

Maher’s experiment

Comedian Bill Maher, an unapologetic left-leaning libertarian, says the studio audience for tomorrow’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” program on HBO will be half conservative, instead of the typical 290 Democrats and five to 10 Republicans.

“Will our show change if our audience is half conservative instead of the usual 90 percent Hollywood liberals? I don’t know, but that’s what we’re going to find out — live — on Friday night,” Mr. Maher said.

In recent weeks, Mr. Maher has made on-air announcements urging conservatives to call in for tickets. The show’s producers also have been working with local conservative organizations to bring their members.

Panelists on the program, which airs at 11 p.m., will be former Gov. Christie Whitman, New Jersey Republican, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Florida Republican, and actor Jason Alexander.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected]

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