- The Washington Times - Monday, March 28, 2005

Necessary politics

“Democrats, and others, have accused Republicans and President Bush of playing politics with the Schiavo case. Let’s hope so. Unlike most, this is a necessary politics that ought to draw the whole country into the argument,” the Wall Street Journal’s Daniel Henninger wrote on Friday.

“For a long time, abortion has constricted the life-and-choice debate. It’s bigger now. Just weeks before Terri Schiavo became a household name, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act.

“To put the partisanship of the issue as crudely (and clearly) as possible: Republicans are said to have a pro-‘life’ litmus test for judicial nominees. Does this mean that President Hillary Clinton’s litmus test would require her judicial nominees to be: pro-abortion, pro-partial-birth abortion, pro-right-to-suicide and pro-pull-the-plug on medical cases deemed hopeless?” Mr. Henninger asked.

“I don’t think the Democrats want to be the right-to-die party, though they have somehow accumulated all these lethal affiliations involving matters of individual choice. In fact, there is a constituency, even a bipartisan constituency, for this general ethic. For 20 years, ethicists such as Daniel Callahan of the Hastings Center have been arguing that a lack of resources may oblige society to withhold extraordinary care from, say, people over 85. Former Colorado Gov. Richard Lamm famously popularized a ‘duty to die’ for the very ill elderly.

“In 25 years, the baby boomers will be on the cusp of 85, becoming what a physician friend has called ‘history’s healthiest generation of Alzheimer’s patients.’ As the tsunami of red ink collapses the struts beneath the tar-paper shacks of Medicare and Social Security (which the congressional elders say isn’t broken) the ‘scarce resource’ argument will re-emerge, with soothing persuasiveness, for triaging the most ill among us, very old or very young.

“The outpouring of support to give Terri Schiavo back to her parents may prove quixotic, but it ensures that these future questions of who lives and who dies won’t be decided by the professional class alone in conferences and courtrooms. It will be done in full view, where it belongs.”

Dump Joe?

Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman is “a pretty orthodox Democrat” when judged on his voting record, Matthew Yglesias writes in the liberal magazine the American Prospect.

“And yet, most liberals know nothing of this Lieberman. And the reason they don’t is that Lieberman has never emphasized this side of his record, instead parading his centrism to the point of seeming embarrassed by his party affiliation,” Mr. Yglesias said.

“‘His message is basically ‘Republican good, Democrat bad,’ says Keith Crane, a member of the , Branford, Conn., town Democratic Committee. So lately Crane has taken on another role: He is one of the founders of Dump Joe, a group dedicated to finding and supporting a candidate willing to challenge Lieberman in next year’s primary election.

“Opposition to Lieberman is driven by the sense that at a time when Democrats are seeking to achieve unity, and liberals are seeking to construct a new infrastructure comparable to the one the conservative movement has built over the past 30 years, Lieberman is uninterested in acting as a team player. Postings on the Dump Joe e-mail list cite his willingness to disparage fellow Democrats on Fox News, often alongside his ‘good friend’ Sean Hannity, as evidence of his unacceptability.”

Ohio revolt

Christian conservative leaders “from scores of Ohio’s fastest-growing churches” hope to elect Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell as governor in 2006 and to take control of local Republican organizations, the New York Times reports.

“The establishment of the Ohio Republican Party is out of touch with its base,” Russell Johnson, pastor of the Fairfield Christian Church and the principal organizer of the Ohio Restoration Project, told reporter James Dao. “It acts as if it lives in Boston, Massachusetts.”

The church leaders hope to mobilize 2,000 evangelical, Baptist, Pentecostal and Roman Catholic leaders “in a network of so-called Patriot Pastors to register half a million new voters, enlist activists, train candidates and endorse conservative causes in the next year,” the reporter said.

Crude liberal bias

Republican senators say they never saw the supposed “GOP talking points” memo that suggested congressional Republicans became involved in the Terri Schiavo case for cynical political reasons, Fred Barnes writes in the Weekly Standard, yet ABC News and The Washington Post insisted that the memo had been distributed to Republican senators.

“There wasn’t a hint in these reports the memo could have any other source but Republicans. Yet there was no evidence it had come from Republicans. It was unsigned and had no letterhead or date. Nothing indicated it came from the Republican leadership or the House or Senate campaign committee or from the Republican National Committee or even from a stray Republican staffer,” Mr. Barnes said.

“The only evidence was of a dirty trick — and there wasn’t much evidence of that. Powerline, the influential blog, found a version of the memo with typos cleaned up on left-wing Web sites.

“The only basis for blaming Republicans was the unsubstantiated allegation that the memo was spread among Republican senators. Yet no senator stepped forward and said, ‘Yes, I got that memo.’ Now consider what would have happened if a damning memo had been distributed to Democratic senators, saying the Schiavo issue could be used politically against Republicans. Would anyone in the mainstream media have jumped on it? I doubt it. Only right-wing bloggers would have.

“So rather than an example of aggressive reporting, the memo story turns out to be yet another instance of crude liberal bias, in this case against both Republicans and those who fought to have Schiavo’s feeding tube restored. Naturally, the memo had a second life when the story was picked up by other news outlets, pundits, and columnists. How did ABC and others get wind of the memo in the first place? It came from ‘Democratic aides,’ according to the New York Times, who ‘said it had been distributed to Senate Republicans.’ Not exactly a disinterested source.”

Low profile

“For all the Democratic fretting that he’d be too high-profile, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean has steered clear of the spotlight since being elected Democratic National Committee chair in February,” Kevin Whitelaw writes in the Washington Whispers column of U.S. News & World Report.

“Dean has done just one interview with a national news outlet as DNC chair — a five-minute quickie with the Associated Press — and won’t sit down with the national press for at least a few more weeks.

“Why the silent treatment? Because Dean is talking exclusively to local media in places where he’s making appearances, as he did last week in Tennessee. ‘We’re getting our message out,’ says a DNC source, ‘from the grass roots up.’”

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

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