Ups and Downs for the Week of May 20 - 24

This is a partial transcript from The Beltway Boys, May 25, that has been edited for clarity. Click here to order the complete transcript.

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MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Let's go to the Ups and Downs.

Up: President Bush

KONDRACKE: Despite protests, President Bush shores up support for America's war on terror from European leaders and signs a historic arms control agreement with his new best buddy, Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Well, Putin and Bush clearly have developed a fast friendship...


KONDRACKE: ... and there's an alliance between Russia and the United States that nobody expected, least of all the Europeans, and next least of all the Chinese.

But they don't agree on everything. And one thing that they don't agree upon is Iran. Here's Bush sort of talking about that in Europe.


BUSH: President Putin and I agree also that the greatest danger in this war is the prospect of terrorists acquiring weapons of mass destruction. Our nations must spare no effort at preventing all forms of proliferation. And we discussed Iran in this context today. We'll work closely with each other on this very important issue.


KONDRACKE: Well, the Russians are foolishly assisting Iran in developing nuclear and missile technology, which is a threat to them.

BARNES: Yes, right.

KONDRACKE: They're closer to, to the Iranians than, than, than we are. But Bush doesn't seem to be able to turn them around on this.

The second thing is, I did not hear George Bush - Vladimir Putin say to George Bush, You want to attack Iraq? Go to it, W.

BARNES: Yes. What, you were in the meeting?


BARNES: How'd, how'd you get back so fast if you were in the meeting, you were a fly on the wall?

KONDRACKE: Nah, they had - he had an opportunity to...

BARNES: They talk about...

KONDRACKE: ... signal support.

BARNES: You mean in the press conference, yes, OK, OK, look...

KONDRACKE: Yes, that's right.

BARNES: ... Mort, here's a fact that may have eluded your attention, and that is that Saddam Hussein of Iraq owes the Russians a billion dollars. Putin would like to collect that money. The only way he has of collecting that money is by going along with George Bush and, and having Saddam Hussein driven out of power, because then Bush can guarantee that the new democratic government in Iraq, installed by the U.S. and its allies, will pay him that money, or else the allies, mainly the U.S., would pay that money.

So Putin is going to go along, trust me.

Down: The Joint Chiefs of Staff

BARNES: Their stealth campaign against military action in Iraq may be working. Here's how The Washington Post played it on the front page Friday. Quote, "The uniformed leaders of the U.S. military believe they have persuaded the Pentagon's civilian leadership to put off an invasion of Iraq until next year at the earliest and perhaps not to do it at all, according to senior Pentagon officials," unquote.

You know, I might have dismissed this story if it weren't by, you know, there's the usual Pentagon whining about, Oh, we, we don't have the resources to go into combat and so on. I mean, the Pentagon, as you'll recall, Mort, did not want to fight the Gulf War either against Iraq.

But, but, but this story was by Tom Ricks of The Post, the best of the Pentagon reporters. So it's undoubtedly accurate. These are the ideas of the folks in the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Joint Chiefs of Staff.

I don't think they would have leaked the story, though, if they had really persuaded all the civilian leaders to go along with a later attack or maybe no attack at all on Iraq, because two of them haven't been heard from. One is Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, the other is President George W. Bush. Good luck, Joint Chiefs, changing their mind about Iraq.

KONDRACKE: Well, General Tommy Franks and the Joint Chiefs are arguing that we need at least 200,000 troops in the region before we launch this attack. Now, it may be, and I know that this is the strategy that you favor is using heavy air power and minimum amounts of troops, that that's, that's all that's necessary.

But the fact is that if you have the troops in reserve, you will signal to the Iranian - the Iraqi opposition that we are serious, and potentially, and that we can, that we really will knock off Saddam Hussein, and will, will potentially inspire them to knock of Saddam (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Hussein by himself, and we won't have to go to war at all.

Now, that would be, that would be a good policy.

BARNES: Well, that's a fair point.

KONDRACKE: So the two, 200,000 is...


KONDRACKE: ... is worth investing.

Up: Secession

KONDRACKE: A Los Angeles panel OKs a November battle ballot initiative that could potentially allow suburban San Fernando Valley to break away from Los Angeles City, a move that could spark other secessionist movements across the nation.

BARNES: You know, Mort, for years cities have been as annexing suburbs, but the era of annexation is over. You know, people in the suburbs are tired of paying high taxes for lousy schools and bad roads and overpaid public employees, and then they wind up with not enough police.  They want to pull out of that, they want to make their own decisions.

Now, California hasn't sparked any political trends across the country in a long time, but I think this is going to be one that it does.

KONDRACKE: Well, it would be terrible...


KONDRACKE: ... I mean, (UNINTELLIGIBLE), (UNINTELLIGIBLE), it's, it's like back to the old pre-tax cut propositions that, that were founded in, in California which were, which were...

BARNES: Yes, I loved those.

KONDRACKE: ... which were - yes, I know, you love them, but they're a disaster.

Now, here's what, here's the problem. I mean, rich people will continue to commute from the suburbs and use city services, police services, highways, utilities, and stuff like that, but they'll deprive the inner cities of their tax money and their, and their political support.


KONDRACKE: The cities will deteriorate. This is a terrible trend...


KONDRACKE: ... for America.

BARNES: ... all right, new item.

KONDRACKE: It's like gated communities.

Down: Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura

BARNES: He vetoes a bill requiring public school kids to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, comparing it to indoctrination practiced by the Nazis and the Taliban. Can you believe that?

KONDRACKE: Yes. I, I once thought that Jesse Ventura was going to become a force in American politics, the sort of constructive crank. It turns out that he's nothing but a crank...

BARNES: Yes, right.

KONDRACKE: ... and voters in, in - the polls show that voters in Minnesota are getting tired of his, his act.

BARNES: Why didn't, why didn't he read the Pledge? It says - it endorses liberty and justice for all. That's not the Taliban's view.

KONDRACKE: Yes, I mean, this - this, this is what happens when a wrestler gets into politics.

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