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Radio interview
Alan Keyes on the Alan Colmes Show
March 9, 2005

ALAN COLMES, HOST: I want to introduce Ambassador Alan Keyes, a one-time presidential candidate, among his other accomplishments. He was the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Maryland in '88 and again in '92. Ran for president in '96 and 2000. Most recently ran for the U.S. Senate in Illinois against Barack Obama.

Ambassador Keyes, thank you for being with us tonight. I appreciate it very much.

ALAN KEYES: Oh, glad to take the time. Thank you.

COLMES: Good to talk to you. You are now, of course, talking about the Terri Schiavo case. You have launched an online petition to prevent anybody from removing her feeding tube. A Florida circuit court has set March 18th, next week, as a date for the tube to be removed. Tell us your thinking on this.

KEYES: Well, I think it is disturbing on several grounds. This is not, as some people might think, a case where somebody clearly left a living will, said that they didn't want extraordinary means, and that is now being interfered with somehow.

There has been a longstanding dispute between her husband and her parents over whether this is, in fact, her will and intention. I think the husband's actions have been kind of confusing and contradictory in many regards between what he has done now and what he said he would do when he was suing to get large amounts of money so that he could take care of his wife.

And so, it has been very controversial.

But in Florida, the judge decided to back the husband, and both the legislature and the governor believe that the fundamental rights of Terri Schiavo are being violated. And I guess there are two questions that I think are disturbing. One, the judge seems to regard feeding somebody as an extraordinary medical procedure. I find that extremely disturbing, and it ought to be disturbing to everyone in the country, because, after all, we have to feed our children when they are young. So, if is it an extraordinary medical procedure to feed somebody who is dependent on you for feeding, then you could throw your baby in the closet and leave it to starve to death, and that would be death by natural process. It's really, I think, kind of crazy.

But I am also disturbed because we have got two branches of government who believe that basic constitutional rights are being violated in Florida, and yet we seem to accept the notion that a judge, the judiciary, gets to stand against both other branches, when [unintelligible] fundamental issues of constitutional right are involved, and that of course is wrong because we have got separation of powers in our government.

That means that an executive who conscientiously feels that the Constitution is being violated not only does not have to, but should not follow the dictates of a judge he feels is acting unconstitutionally.

COLMES: Let me bring up some other points here. First of all, in most states, it is the husband who gets to decide, not the parents. Now, I don't blame the parents, by the way, and I'm sure they are heartbroken, but from a judiciary standpoint, it is the husband--I've read what you have written on your website about the husband. He did not make money off this. He claims he did try to take her out. Took her to California, tried to get her some help, did not ignore rehabilitative efforts, and this basically, most courts will decide, is a husband's decision. He knows her best. He claims she said she would not want this kind of measure to be taken. And that's where it rests! That's what the courts say. Do we not believe in that level of . . .

KEYES: Let's talk about a hypothetical situation, where you get somebody who gets into a condition like this, and the husband goes to court, gets millions of dollars in settlement for medical purposes, spends a good deal of it on legal expenses to forward an effort that he starts within a few months after getting the money, saying that, "I don't want to take care of her."

During the [Terri Schiavo] proceedings, by the way, when the suit was going on and he was looking for the award, he said that he loved his wife and wanted to take care of her for the rest of his life. And they estimated that it might be 50 years, and that is why he needed a settlement that would cover all of that.

Within six months, he is looking to divest himself of this obligation he said he wanted so badly. He has also basically gone on with his life--so that, to point to him and say, "That's her husband," is, I think, now a controversial statement. He has, by his actions in the course of the years put himself in a position where I think it is highly questionable.

It is either a clear conflict of interest, or at least a steadied disinterest in Terri Schiavo as an individual.

COLMES: Look, I think at some point you do move on with your life. You may disagree when that time should come. She has also been investigated, or I rather should say examined by a number of doctors. She is in, and I know this is a matter of dispute, a Persistent Vegetative State. According to at CAT scan, massive shrinkage of the brain, completely destroyed, irreversibility, and no . . .

KEYES: Alan, I can't listen to this, because what you just said there is not a true statement of her state.

COLMES: Sure it's a true statement. She was examined--I support the doctors.

KEYES: First of all, the judge was willing to base his view on doctors chosen by the husband to back his viewpoint. The judge himself now, in his latest decision, has taken a viewpoint, a right-to-die viewpoint, that has obviously meant that he was not an impartial decision-maker--if he had ever been.

There has been a medical dispute. The most recent thing that has come--seventeen doctors have come forward in support of new testing. It has been over a decade since the whole question of help or therapy for Terri Schiavo has been looked at by the husband--even though you and I both know that startling advances have been made that have resulted, in some cases, in some startling results, with people who were in deep comas coming out of them.

COLMES: (talking over) She's got no brain!

KEYES: None of this has been examined, none of this has been looked at by either the judge or the husband. It's very strange--I'm just talking there about some very aspects of the facts here.

COLMES: But Ambassador Keyes, I'm talking about medical tests that have been done, doctors who have testified here, CAT scans indicating massive shrinkage of the brain. There is not much of a brain there to deal with. She's in a Persistent Vegetative State.

KEYES: That is not true! A matter of fact, there are videos in which she has been responsive, in point of fact . . .

COLMES: I would disagree with that.

KEYES: You can disagree, but I am talking about facts. A Persistent Vegetative State means that there is the absence of voluntary action or cognitive behavior of any kind, an inability to communicate or interact purposefully with the environment. That is not true of Terri Schiavo! She responds to stimuli. She has even tried to communicate verbally. She follows limited commands. She has been seen to laugh or cry in interaction with others--and so forth and so on.

That is why there is a dispute over this whole question of whether there is a Persistent Vegetative State.

And I think that the question I have been raising, Alan--you and I could argue about this until the cows come home--


KEYES: But if you have in the judiciary somebody who is taking a step, and the legislature by majority says, "No. That's a violation of fundamental constitutional rights"; and the executive looks at that and says, "No. That's a violation of fundamental constitutional rights," somebody explain to me how, in an independent government, the judiciary becomes the sole arbiter of what in fact is consistent with constitutional right, when the executive--in this case, the governor of Florida--has a separate responsibility, by oath of office, to the Constitution and the law.

To stand by, while judicial murder is done--if a lynching was taking place across the street from the governor's mansion, would we expect him to sit on his hands and do nothing?

COLMES: I don't agree with that analogy.

Look, Dr. Cranford said--he examined her--she is vegetative, flat-out vegetative. This is a massive propaganda campaign going on, which has been successful because it deludes the public into thinking she is really there. Her eyes do not steadily track objects, and when she appears to look at her mother or a camera, it is merely rapid eye movement. We people are being misled by this propaganda campaign.

KEYES: That is a lie, by the way. What you have just said is fine. You can characterize it that way, if you want to take that doctor's opinion. There are also other medical doctors, and they have just put forward on the table, the parents have, affidavits by seventeen medical doctors, some of whom say that they believe she can come out of the coma. Others say that she needs to be tested with more current tests. And so, there is a dispute here, and you and I are not going to resolve it.

COLMES: We're not.

KEYES: The question I would raise with you, Alan, is, under our constitutional system, can we allow the judiciary to be the sole arbiter of constitutional right? If that is the case, then the executive becomes an arm of the judiciary, and we no longer have separation of powers. Our Founders said that is tyranny.

I would call on Jeb Bush to exercise his separate, independent responsibility, and not to allow what amounts to judicial murder to take place.

COLMES: Well, then you have an executive branch--or, indeed, one person--who then supersedes the other branches of government. But let me . . .

KEYES: No, no. He is not superseding the other branch, because the legislative branch, which is by the way the branch charged with oversight of the executive, can remove him from office. That branch has itself said the same opinion [as Jeb Bush].

COLMES: (talking over) Let me answer your question.

KEYES: The two branches are three, and Jeb Bush would simply be carrying out what is politically, and, from his point of view, conscientiously, correct.

COLMES: Alan Keyes is our guest.

Look. They passed this thing called "Terri's Law," about Terri Schiavo, to keep her alive. And there are some constitutional question to whether or not you can pass a law for one person, based on one person, and simply go to the legislature and say, "We're going to pass a law. This applies to Terri Schiavo," and put the legislature to work to do the work to apply to one person. Is that constitutional?

KEYES: I think that the legislature can those steps that it feels are necessary in order to achieve a right result.

The courts, by the way, did strike that legislation down, as you and I both know.

COLMES: Right.

KEYES: Whether rightly or wrongly. The thing that I would say about it, though, is that that legislation indicates that the conscientious judgment of the majority of the legislature is that letting this woman starve to death is wrong and unjust.

And that means that if Jeb Bush has the same view, then he is obliged under his own conscientious understanding of her constitutional right to defend her constitutional right, not to stand by while it is destroyed by the courts.

COLMES: That's why we have appeals courts, so people can appeal.

We'll come right back with Alan Keyes.


COLMES: Alan Keyes has joined the fight to save the life of Terri Schiavo, launched an online petition to prevent anybody from removing her feeding tube. By the way, the website, is it

KEYES: I believe that is the one it's on, yes.

COLMES: All right. Alan Keyes our guest.

Are you going to run for office again, by the way?

KEYES: Oh, I don't know. I do what I think is going to help serve the cause and get the things that I believe in out there, so that people have a real choice, as I am trying to do right now. So, it is really, for me, always been a matter of trying to raise one's voice in order to be effectively standing for the things that I believe should be out there.

COLMES: (talking over) So, you are not closing the door.

All right, let's go to Scott in San Diego with Alan Keyes. Hello, Scott.

SCOTT: Yeah. I gotta kind of semi-unrelated question. Who is paying for all the care to keep this woman from having bedsores? Because, my father is a muscular dystrophy patient, and it costs, my guess is a minimum of $200,000 a year. And I don't want to get into the nuances of who should keep her alive, or should you not, but I tend to side with the husband. But when it comes to paying for care of someone in this state, it is extremely prohibitive, and when someone, an outside agency or someone comes in and says, "Hey, you've got to keep her alive," sometimes that can be an unrealistic burden.

COLMES: Go ahead, Dr. Keyes.

KEYES: At a practical level, this is another thing I find very intriguing. The parents have repeated offered to the husband, to say, "Look. You want to get on with your life. Fine. We agree with you to do that. We'll take over care and expense and everything. You will no longer have any of those responsibilities. You can divorce Terri, and we will also make provisions so that if she dies, you will be treated as if you were still her husband--you won't lose anything in terms of her estate, or whatever that might be." They offered this, and he turned it down.

And it is also interesting that he keeps talking as if this is about some extraordinary procedure [instead of] feeding tubes, and so forth. Do you realize the judge has actually now forbidden her to be fed by regular means? He has ordered that she be starved to death.

She has had a swallow mechanism, by the way, and the parents believe that it would be possible to feed her by regular means, and they are willing--they and the siblings--to do so. And this also has been refused.

Why the determination? Even when the offer is made to completely let this husband get on his life--"Yes, go! Get on with your life! We want to take care of our daughter!"--and the answer is to push it aside? I find that very strange.

COLMES: Dr. Keyes, have you thought of the possibility--and I thank you very much for your call, Scott--that he is honoring her wishes, that he is doing what he believes his wife would want? Having told him this is what--and I know she didn't sign a living will. She should have, and that should be a lesson to everybody. But this is what she--and he may feel he is honoring her by doing what he believes she would want.

KEYES: But you know what's interesting? Her condition has not changed over the course of the years, and when he went in for this battle with the malpractice suit and all of that, he basically said that he was going to commit himself to taking care of her. He had her at that time in a rehabilitation facility. Within months after getting himself a $630,000 award, he takes her out of the rehabilitation and wants to end her life.

I find that I, at least, would want to raise a question about whether I'm dealing here with an objective individual . . .

COLMES: (talking over) And by the way, the money is gone. It's not like he's living off the dole.

KEYES: At the very least, you would think that you would want to get somebody impartial.

They did, by the way. They had somebody come in, and the decision this individual made was, "Wait. We need to have a separate, impartial, independent guardian appointed while this is being decided." And the judge said no.

I have found . . .

COLMES: (talking over) You indicate that the guy's in it for the money. The guy's not making any money. He's lost all the money. It's all gone to lawyers. He's not living high on the hog based on money he has won here.

KEYES: Let me ask you a question, Alan. You say the money all went to lawyers, as if that is to be taken for granted. The money was awarded for medical support, not for lawyers. The money only went to lawyers because he didn't want . . .

COLMES: (talking over) And he took her to California, and he tried to get her rehabilitated, as he was told by doctor after doctor was hopeless.

KEYES: Actually, doctor after doctor--including, now, a doctor who was just recently cited by the medical board in Florida as the only one who has actually reversed the effects of stroke, and was nominated for the Nobel Prize, has come forward and said that he thinks that there might be therapy for her, and he would like to examine her. They are not letting--do you realize they are not letting anybody take a look at her?


COLMES: (talking over) Right. Well, we will see what happens on the 18th.

Dr. Keyes, one quick thing here. You have been outspoken on family values. Your daughter recently has come out as a lesbian. Has this caused you great personal anguish?

KEYES: You know, I think that the Jerry Springer mentality of the media is not something that I participate in. I deal with my daughter within the context of our family, and I address those issues, as I said during my campaign, in their appropriate context. And their appropriate context is not some prurient interest of you or anybody else in the public. It's a family matter, and we will deal with it as such. I have always confined myself to public policy issues, and I will go on doing so.

COLMES: But let me understand. You have talked out openly about certain policies concerning this very issue, and you referred to Mary Cheney as a selfish hedonist . . .

KEYES: No, actually, I did not. Alan, you repeat that lie like everybody else. I simply characterized, by both logic and necessity, this approach to human sexuality as selfish hedonism, because there cannot be anything else to it, except that you are looking for pleasure for yourself. Whereas, the heterosexual relationship has in it a substantive view toward procreation that lifts it out of the realm of simple selfishness and into the realm of family and obligation and responsibility that goes beyond that.

That was the point that I was making, and it was not made ad hominem. The ad hominem was actually introduced by the interviewer, not by me.

COLMES: It was made in the context of Mary Cheney, but I just wondered if you regret saying that at this point.

KEYES: Of course not. Look, I don't know why anybody in this country would be so foolish as to believe that we ought to be determining our judgments about what is right and wrong based on situations that might arise in our personal life and family.

The fact that this or that one in your family is doing something wrong doesn't make it right. It's not going to make it right in my eyes, in God's eyes, or anybody else's eyes. And I will simply do what I have consistently done. I will look for the truth of it, and stand for that truth. And I will do so in a way that I hope [shows respect] for my obligations and relationships. And that is what I am doing.

COLMES: All right, Dr. Keyes. I thank you for being with us tonight. We certainly will be following the Terri Schiavo case. And I'll be curious to see what happens on the 18th.

KEYES: I will be also. And I hope we will be able to get someone, including Governor Bush, to take action, so that we won't see a judicial murder take place. We aren't allowed to execute a criminal in this manner.

COLMES: I appreciate your time tonight, sir. Thank you very, very much.

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