This partial transcript of The Beltway Boys, Jan. 5, was provided by the Federal Document Clearing House. Click here to order the complete transcript.
FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: Let's go to the Ups and Downs...
MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: OK.
BARNES: ... if you're ready.
KONDRACKE: I'm ready.
Up: President George W. Bush
BARNES: All right. Up, President George W. Bush. Four months after September 11, strategists on both sides of the aisle agree Bush's handling of the war and crafting it in conservative compassionate themes has bolstered his support among key constituencies, women, minorities, and centrist Republicans.
I thought he was already pretty strong among centrist Republicans, but...
KONDRACKE: Exactly. Well, my thought – Mike Allen had a very smart piece in The Washington Post this week in which he said that the various subthemes beyond fighting the war against terrorism and winning that war, humanitarian assistance to the Afghanis, fighting this in the name of Afghan, liberation of Afghan women...
KONDRACKE: ... nation building...
KONDRACKE: ... all that kind of stuff...
BARNES: Yes, not...
KONDRACKE: ... not blaming Islam...
BARNES: Right, yes.
KONDRACKE: ... all that kind of stuff has really helped Bush bolster his case among minorities and women and so on.
BARNES: Yes, not...
KONDRACKE: And, you know, and that, and that has long-lasting significance, because usually wars, you know, are masculine macho things...
KONDRACKE: ... but Bush – and Bush needs support from the – from these other groups that usually vote Democratic.
BARNES: Yes, I think this war has been pretty much of a masculine macho thing, and, look, I agree, Mike Allen's a good reporter. That was a very insightful piece.
But you know what has really kept Bush's poll numbers so high? You know what it is?
BARNES: It is. Well, no, it's not just victory. Victory helps a lot, though, that's a good point. It's the moral clarity of his rhetoric about the war, you know, rhetoric we never would have gotten from your friend Bill Clinton, the rhetoric that says, that says, Look, we are fighting a war against evil. It's not some gray area. He's not relativistic, he's not mincing words. Our enemy is evil, it's the evil ones.
Mort, you've even talked about this, evildoers and so on. Look, the public agrees with that. They like it in – not in gray terms but black- and-white terms. And he delivers it.
KONDRACKE: Clinton would have accused them of murder too. Yes, he would have.
Up: New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg
KONDRACKE: Up, New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg. Facing a nearly $4 billion shortfall, Bloomberg doesn't sugarcoat the city's fiscal problems, telling New Yorkers he'll cut his own office by 20 percent and challenges other offices to do the same.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (R), NEW YORK CITY: We cannot ask of others what we are not willing to do ourselves. I will do my part to balance the budget, as I'm sure every city and employee will do in turn. Let me say once more, though, we cannot repeat the mistakes of the past. We cannot drive people and business out of New York. We cannot raise taxes. We will find another way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BARNES: And did you notice in that, Ed Koch there, the former mayor, not clapping?
BARNES: Look, Bloomberg has a passel of liberal advisers, but he has not started out on a liberal tone, he started out saying, Look, we're going to cut spending, we're not going to raise taxes, because that would drive business out and lose jobs, not gain jobs. It's a conservative message so far, but it's one that's not going to go over well with the unions in New York City. And New York City's a place where the unions are still strong, the public employee unions.
That's going to be the big fight this year.
KONDRACKE: Every new mayor gets tested by the unions, and he will be too. The thing is that he's got Rudolph Giuliani and 9/11 as backdrop to give, to give him some spine, and I've – I think he'll take it...
BARNES: Well, I hope it's enough.
Up: Harvard University President Lawrence Summers
BARNES: Up, Harvard University President Lawrence Summers. He stood up for academic rigor against Harvard's Afro-American Studies department, quelling racial tensions stirred up by Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.
KONDRACKE: Now, here is one Clinton guy that you have got to admire, right?
BARNES: I do, yes, sir.
KONDRACKE: OK, all right. Well, what Larry Summers did was went to Cornel West, professor of African-American studies, and said, Look, you have got to stop giving A's out like candy, and you've got to, and you've got to spend more time on serious academic stuff, and not just – not go off politicking and making rap records and so on.
Cornel West tried to play – accuse Summers of racism and brought in Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson and so on. But Summers seems to have won. Good for him.
BARNES: He stood tall, Mort. That was a brilliant exposition, I agree with you.
Down: actor Sean Penn
KONDRACKE: All right. Down, actor Sean Penn. Apparently talk show hosts are just as despicable as terrorists in Penn's world. He recently told Talk magazine, "I'd like to trade O'Reilly for bin Laden, and then we can decide who's worse when he gets here. These guys – Joe McCarthy, Bill O'Reilly – die like everyone else. And when they do, their legacy is the same: damaging of the spirit of good things, and they become rather broken, pathetic figures. And this is going to happen to him."
BARNES: Stop my laughing. Why do we always pay attention to these Hollywood stars? Now, sometimes they make some sense, but not Sean Penn. I mean, here he's equating a television commentator with a mass murderer. You know, I mean, can't he make – I mean, that – can't he make the not- so-subtle distinctions there? I mean, what is the matter with Sean Penn? He's a friend of yours, you go to every movie, probably ever movie he's ever made.
KONDRACKE: I know, I know.
BARNES: I think if there's a broken, pathetic figure, it's Sean Penn.
KONDRACKE: Well, I mean, the reason we do this is because these Hollywood movie stars, even though they make zillions, have political IQs in single digits – or double digits, you know, so it's fun to go after them.
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