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Bush's second choice for Vice President to assail GOP over Schiavo, gay rights

John Byrne
Published: Friday September 15, 2006

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Exclusive: Republican shortlisted to be Bush's Vice President to lay out most explicit case for gay rights; Blasts Frist, GOP handling of Schiavo case

The former Missouri senator shortlisted to be then-Governor Bush's running mate in the 2000 presidential election -- said to have been second choice only to Vice President Cheney -- will come out vehemently against administration and Congressional Republican policy in a book to be published next week., according to an advance copy obtained by RAW STORY.

John Danforth, who retired in 1995 after four terms in the Senate, briefly served as Bush's ambassador to the United Nations but resigned after Condoleezza Rice was tapped to be Secretary of State. According to CNN, he was second on the list of Bush's potential vice presidential choices in 2000.

In Faith and Politics, to be released Tuesday, Danforth blasts the alignment of the Republican Party with the Christian right, lays out his most aggressive pro-gay stance to date and attacks the handling of the Terri Schiavo case.

Some people have asked me whether America is a Christian country. The answer must be no, for to call this a Christian country is to say that non-Christians are of some lesser order, not full fledged citizens of one nation." Danforth is himself an ordained Episcopal minister.

Danforth calls the Terri Schiavo case -- where Congress intervened to attempt to keep a severely brain-damaged woman from being taken off life support -- "Big Brotherism."

"That the federal government could intervene in the Schiavo case was a threat to all the families that had seen their loved ones suffer through terminal illness," he writes.

It was a threat to people who were terrified that their own lives might someday be artificially extended in nightmarish circumstances. It was a threat to some of our most heartfelt values. It was Big Brotherism in the extreme, an exercise of the raw and awesome power of the federal government.

"They intervened not in the name of principle, but at the expense of principle," Danforth avers. "They abandoned principle by deciding a medical question without any firsthand knowledge of what they were doing."

Congressional Republicans face specific criticism. An attack on Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) derides the Republican Senate leader for attempting to diagnose Schiavo without seeing the patient.

One views with a degree of pathos the role of William Frist, MD, graduate of Harvard Medical School and potential presidential candidate, who diagnosed a medical condition without examining the patient.

The former Missouri senator also comes out swinging for gay rights -- a cause he has championed since his retirement from the Senate. But in Faith and Politics, he lays out his most ardent support to date. Despite having a gay daughter, Vice President Cheney has remained relatively mum on the issue -- except to say that he disagrees with Bush over a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Danforth goes further.

"I believe that homosexuality is a matter of sexual orientation rather than preference," he writes. "Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is, in my view, comparable to discrimination on other civil rights grounds. It is wrong, and it should be prohibited by law."

"I think that the only purpose served by the campaign for the amendment is the humiliation of gay Americans, advocated by the Christian right and eagerly supported by its suitors in the Republican Party," he adds. "In reality, it is gay bashing."

Danforth then goes even further, saying supporters' assertions that the amendment would protect marriage is ludicrous.

"America's divorce rate is now over 50 percent, and marriage is under attack from a number of quarters: finances, promiscuity, alcohol and drugs, the pressures of work, cultural acceptance of divorce, et cetera," he pens. "But it is incomprehensible that one of these threats is when someone else, whom we have never seen, in a place where we may have never been, has done something we don't like."