The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Schiavo: Frist's vote of thanks to Democrats

I don't trawl the Congressional Record - and no doubt miss loads of unreported gems as a result.

The debate (ha!) on the Senate floor (March 20) on passage of S 686 is not entirely devoid of interest, for example [1]:

Frist makes a motion to proceed (carried with unanimous consent, natch); there's an exchange with Levin about the dropping from earlier bills of a requirement on the Federal judge to issue a TRO and a speech from Warner on why he opposed S686. This takes around 1,000 words.

Then Byrd launches into a 3,700 word excursion on the use of the filibuster way back when he was Majority Leader (when Pontius wasn't even a pilot yet).

And that's almost it. The bill passes. And Frist wraps.

His final graf:
The level of cooperation and thoughtful consideration surrounding this legislative effort on behalf of my colleagues has truly been remarkable. I thank Senate minority leader HARRY REID for his leadership on this issue. He and I have been in close contact throughout this process. I also thank my Democratic colleagues who expressed their concerns but have allowed us to move forward. In particular, I thank Senators MEL MARTINEZ, RICK SANTORUM, TOM HARKIN, and KENT CONRAD for their dedication in shepherding this legislation. This is bipartisan, bicameral legislation.

Is Frist lying?

I'd thought the Dems were lying low through a combination of cowardice and better let them hang themselves without our help calculation.

The way Frist tells it, old Harry was in the vanguard leading the charge!

We clearly need a second source here. And - lo and behold! - we have one: Old Harry himself. A statement dated March 17 (last Thursday) from the Senate Democratic Communications Center. (Wow! He's got the snappy name going, at least - like the NSA or something...):
I am pleased Senator Frist and I were able to pass the bill that protects the life of Terri Schiavo by allowing her parents to go to federal court.

If the House Republicans refuse to pass our bipartisan bill, they bear responsibility for the consequences.

Yup, the Schiavo circus is the Bill 'n' Harry Show [2].

Harkin is more bad news, representing a Second Front for the forces of reaction. Whilst most Democrats are hostile to a fundamentalist message [3], they are suckers for grievance groups (being themselves principally a coalition of grievance groups): Harkin appears to represent the disability lobby [4], one of the more powerful.

What Conrad's angle was, I'm not sure: this has him meeting in close conclave with North Dakota religious leaders:
Conrad said it was Schiavo's responsiveness that motivated him to halt debate on the Senate budget resolution Thursday to allow an emergency voting on Schiavo's bill to take place.

Frist notoriously diagnosed Schiavo from tapes shot by her parents - does that get him disbarred from ever practising medicine again? - did Conrad even qualify as a physician?

Conrad is up for re-election in 2006, ND is deep red state (Bush beat Kerry 2:1) and [5] 30% Catholic.

My guess: he's keener to pander to his crackers than DeLay and Co are to pander to crackers at large.

Race apart, the resemblance between the present Congress and DW Griffith's tableau of the Reconstruction South Carolina legislature in Birth of a Nation [6] becomes more striking by the day!

  1. Start here and go to item 11.

  2. I've not the enthusiasm to trace which of the pile of Schiavo circus bills Reid is talking about.

  3. The black churches mostly lap it, it seems: Mr Shakedown, Jesse Jackson, apparently came out in favour of prolonging Schiavo's agony. His son voted in favour.

  4. A couple of sources - this and this.

  5. I find after the most disproportionately balls-achingly tedious runaround from Mr Google - who is crap in finding statistics. (The stat is from Wikipedia: the US Census is impenetrable on the subject.)

  6. Discussed at length on June 25 2004.

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