The Courting of Bill


Last weekend, the Hotline, in an April Fools’ spoof, came up with a genius idea, which it attributed to the fevered brain of Karl Rove and said had first been reported by Bob Novak: Stop Hillary by putting Bill on the Supreme Court. It was all a hoax and this reporter fell for it.

What follows is the original item, along with the rest of that week’s Mondo Washington column:

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The right-wing political community remains haunted by the specter of a “President Hillary Clinton” turning the Patriot Act on their own leaders, marching them off to jail, and throwing the key away.

How to stop her? Condi might do the trick, but she’s a little lightweight. Rather than oppose Senator Clinton, some Republican politicians are trying to cozy up. In Texas, The Hotline reports, two Republicans, Rick Perry running for re-election as governor and Kay Bailey Hutchison for the Senate, are beginning to deliberately point out how they have worked with Hillary.

Last weekend Bob Novak described a novel scheme, supposedly emanating from the fevered brain of Karl Rove: Stop Hillary by putting Bill on the Supreme Court.

Here’s what’s supposed to happen: Bush names either Clarence Thomas or Antonin Scalia to be chief justice. That leaves one vacancy on the court. Then he appoints Bill Clinton to the court. Oh my God!

The thought of adulterer Clinton on the court (think Monica as clerk) sends right-wingers up the wall. But wait a minute. Think it through: Next, Bill Frist—Senate majority leader, Terri Schiavo defender, and himself a presidential hopeful—immediately moves to hold up Bill’s nomination. Next, Harry Reid, the Democratic minority leader in the Senate, cuts a deal to free the conservative judicial nominations now backed up in Congress in return for letting Clinton on the court.

Once on the court, Clinton is out of the picture when it comes to campaigning for Hillary or anyone else in 2008. What to do about Hillary? Americans may differ on whether she should be president, but almost everyone will agree that the country could not stand to have two Clintons dominating two branches of government.

As for what Bill might do on the court, one conservative pol opined, “He couldn’t be any worse than Souter.”

While Hillary drifts along, other women move on up in congress

Against the grain

Meanwhile, it looks like a silent spring for Hil. Last seen, she was deep in agricultural Dullsville at the Elks Club in Greenwich, Connecticut, where she entertained the audience of 300 concerned rural folks with statements such as this: “I was once asked why I spent so much time on agriculture issues in the last four years. I answered, ‘Because I like to eat.’ ” And this: “If we don’t move toward energy independence, shame on us.”

Figuring out which way Hillary is drifting has become a full-time job for right and left alike ever since she appeared to be backing away from a woman’s right to choose when it comes to abortion. “I believe we can all recognize that abortion in many ways represents a sad, even tragic choice to many, many women,” she declared in January. “Often, it’s a failure of our system of education, health care, and preventive services. It’s often a result of family dynamics. This decision is a profound and complicated one; a difficult one, often the most difficult that a woman will ever make. The fact is that the best way to reduce the number of abortions is to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies in the first place.”

While the old-fart pols contort over whether it’s good or bad for Hil to run, more female fresh faces are moving up the ladder in Congress and will soon be in a position of enveloping the tired old singsong from Hillary, Nancy Pelosi, and others. It was Florida congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz who ran Democratic opposition to Republican efforts to reinsert Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube. The Republicans put Kentucky congresswoman Anne Northrup in front of the cameras to sell Bush’s Social Security changes, and Democrats Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, Barbara Boxer of California, and Patty Murray of Washington all took on leadership positions within the Senate. Elizabeth Dole, a North Carolina Republican who ran for president in 2000 and who has served in two cabinet posts, became the first woman ever to chair her party’s campaign committee.

“Women now hold 14 seats in the Senate and 66 seats in the House, not including three non-voting members from Guam, the District of Columbia, and the U. S. Virgin Islands,” reports the spirited website “Although they make up 51 percent of the population, women now comprise roughly 15 percent of Congress, figures that have risen only gradually since 1992, the year women nearly doubled their representation in the House and the Senate.”

Pelosi gets much of the attention now, but the others are coming on fast. Democratic women in the Senate hold two out of seven leadership positions; Republican female senators hold two out of six. In the House, Republican women hold one out of nine leadership posts and Democratic women two out of eight. “Women aren’t just tokens anymore,” California congresswoman Hilda Solis told Womensenews. “We’re on committees. We’re ranking members on committees. We’re even on Meet the Press.”

Help is on the way

Those who despair at religious politics governing the issues of life and death can take hope from a report showing that 10 years ago medical professionals were the ones making and acting upon euthanasia decisions.

In “The Role of Critical Care Nurses in Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide,” a study in the May 23, 1996, New England Journal of Medicine, author David A. Asch reported the results of a survey of a thousand nurses, 852 of whom worked solely in adult ICUs. Here were some of his findings:

  • A total of 141 of the 852 (17 percent) reported that they had received requests from patients or family members to perform euthanasia or assist in suicide.
  • Of the total, 129 reported that they had engaged in such practices.
  • Thirty-five (4 percent) reported that they had hastened a patient’s death by only pretending to provide life-sustaining treatment ordered by a physician.
  • Some nurses reported engaging in these practices without the request or advance knowledge of physicians or others. The method of euthanasia most commonly described was the administration of a high dose of an opiate to a terminally ill patient.

  • Jesus: Friend or foe of the poor

    Sooner or later the world’s 1 billion Catholics will have to make up their minds where they are living: this world or somewhere else. In the U.S., the church currently remains mired in sex scandals. The church is known worldwide as anti-feminist. Spain’s Conference of Catholic Bishops put out a manifesto in February 2004 blaming the sexual revolution for the abuse of women.

    “The sexual revolution has separated sex from marriage, and procreation from love,” it said. Its “bitter fruits” are “domestic violence, sexual abuse, and homeless children.”

    The church, on the whole, turns a deaf ear to the millions of desperately ill people in Africa and South Asia infected with HIV and AIDS. It rants and raves against gays. Catholics are forceful, but not alone, in arguing that marriage is the basis for having a family. But many millions of people pay little heed to that idea.

    Often the Vatican becomes a caricature of itself, as when Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone said, “Don’t read and don’t buy The Da Vinci Code. This book, read by millions, perverts the story of the Holy Grail, which most certainly does not refer to the descendants of Mary Magdalene. It astonishes and worries me that so many people believe these lies.”

    The church has experienced rapid growth in the developing world, especially Latin America, where Brazil has become the country with the largest Catholic population.

    Latin America has been the center of the Vatican’s attack against liberation theology, which has sought to portray Jesus as a friend of the poor, encouraging them in the struggle against exploitation and oppression. And the church remains, like the rest of Western Christendom, out to lunch on the subject of Islam.

    Most of the cardinals gathering to elect a new pope either come from Europe or were educated in Europe. Will they have the foresight to elect a pope from the developing world who can address spiritual and economic issues of the 21st century?

    Additional reporting: Nicole Duarte