Howard Dean got roughed up today on Meet the Press with Tim Russert. He once again said Osama bin Laden deserves a jury while Tom DeLay should already be in a jail cell, Democrats are the ones with moral values, and had the nerve to say abortion should be examined on a state-by-state basis.
Here are some highlights from the interview with my thoughts in italics:
MR. RUSSERT: The Republicans say on Tuesday that if the Democrats do not stop filibustering their judicial appointments made by President Bush, they will change the rules for the filibuster. What will that change mean?
DR. DEAN: I think the change will be dreadful for American democracy, and I think it's going to be, frankly, very bad for the Republican Party. One of the great geniuses of American democracy, unlike most of the democracies in the world that minority rights are protected, 48 percent of us didn't vote for President Bush, but we still have some say in shaping the agenda of the country. If the filibuster is gotten rid of, the extended debate is gotten rid of in the Senate, first of all, it means the president can put 10 judges on the bench that we believe are not qualified to serve. We've confirmed 205 of his judges. He wants those last 10, so they're willing to change the rules to do it.
What makes those 10 nominees unqualified? Somebody please point out to me in the rulebook where it is mentioned that "right-wing" and "ultra-conservative" justices are unqualified for the federal bench.
But it has much worse implications. The president has a Social Security plan, which is kind of out there. He basically wants to turn over Social Security to the same kind of people who gave us Enron. Without extended debate, he can march marshal his party and just ram it right through.
And such debate will not be affected whatsoever by removing filibusters for judicial nominees.
MR. RUSSERT: The Republicans say the filibuster rules being changed would apply to judicial nominations not to legislation like Social Security.
DR. DEAN: That's what they say now. What possible indication is there they won't change their mind later.
Good one there, sir. But please, let's save conspiracy theories for another time.
This is the last opportunity the Democrats have to say anything about public policy. It is a very big mistake, I think, for America. But it's a huge mistake for the Republican Party to do this.
If so then you should encourage them to move forward if it's going to be a "huge mistake" for your more popular opponents.
MR. RUSSERT: Do the Republicans have the votes to do it?
DR. DEAN: I don't know. They say they do. I have no way of knowing what the vote counts are in the Senate. But, again, I hope they won't. Someday, the Democrats will be back in charge again. Do we want a Democratic Party that's in charge of everything? Well, you know, I suppose it's my job to say yes. But the truth is, as an American, it's better when parties share power.
You're so full of it Dr. Dean.
MR. RUSSERT: Republicans will say that the Democrats are speaking a different tune now than they did when they were in control. Robert Byrd, when he was a majority leader in '79, said, "Now, we are at the beginning of Congress. This Congress is not obliged to be bound by the dead hand of the past."
And the filibuster used to need 67 votes. They changed it to 60.
You mean Senate rules and traditions have been changed in the past? But according to Democrats changing the rules on filibusters would be unprecedented!
DR. DEAN: Well, here's the problem. Look, I have nothing against up or down votes on people. I think that's a good thing. The problem is that--Don't those of us who didn't vote for the president, the 48 percent of Americans, don't we have some say?
Absolutely, and in an up-or-down vote situation everyone who votes down will have their say. The only difference is that without filibustering you can't obstruct the Senate's obligation to "advise and consent."
It's a matter of checks and balances.
No it's not. Checks and balances is about one branch checking and being checked by another. It has nothing to do about the internal workings of one branch.
Look at the terrible things that are going on in Congress today. You have a Republican leader who has been admonished three times by the Ethics Committee, and his response is to get rid of the Ethics Committee or render them inoperable. Now, those kinds of things are less likely to go on if you have...
MR. RUSSERT: But that's been changed back.
You mean a Republican leader was admonished in a Republican controlled House and the procedures have been changed back? So Republicans in the Senate aren't immune to scrutiny!
MR. RUSSERT: One issue where the Democrats seem to be changing their thinking is abortion. Here's Howard Dean on April 17: "I think we need to talk about abortion differently... Republicans have forced us into a corner to defend abortion..."
DR. DEAN: Absolutely. I'm not advocating we change our position. I believe that a woman has a right to make up her own mind about what kind of health care she gets, and I think Democrats believe that in general. The issue is not whether we think abortion is a good thing. The issue is whether a woman has a right to make up her own mind about her health care…
But when you talk about framing this debate the way it ought to be framed, which is "Do you want Tom DeLay and the boys to make up your mind about this, or does a woman have a right to make up her own mind about what kind of health care she gets…."
That's one hell of a health care plan for the baby -- I mean, fetus/bundle of cells that's getting a scalpel to his or her skull while being partially delivered.
We'd like to make abortion rare. You know that abortions have gone up 25 percent since George Bush was president?
And that number will decline when the people get to influence their own views of abortion once the seven-man ruling in Roe v. Wade gets overturned.
MR. RUSSERT: But...
DR. DEAN: We need to reduce the number of abortions in this country.
Which will happen when we outlaw it.
MR. RUSSERT: But, Governor, the problem for Democrats has been that many request abortion on demand. When there are attempts to say that there should be parental notification for children under 18-- to be notified with a judicial bypass, if there's a spouse--a parental abuse situation. Many Democrats oppose it. Third-trimester abortion, "partial-birth" abortion, Democrats opposed it.
The doctor completely sidesteps the rational legislation Democrats oppose so much such as parental notification.
DR. DEAN: You know what I'd prefer to see, frankly? I'd prefer to see medical practice boards around the country, state by state--because people do believe different things about this in different states.
Which is exactly why the national ruling of Roe v. Wade makes no sense. People believe different things about this in different states.
There are ethical constraints around the issue of abortion. There is no question about that. I think those ought to be done state by state. And I think doctors ought to have a lot more say about it than they do now.
Baloney! State by state standards on abortion can only happen with the reversal of Roe v. Wade. Let's see you push for it Dr. Dean. And you're right, doctors do have a lot to say about abortion now. It increases the risk of breast cancer in women and the chance of premature births in future pregnancies.
For the complete transcript click here.
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