This is a partial transcript from The Beltway Boys, June 1, that has been edited for clarity. Click here to order the complete transcript.
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FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: Ups and Downs.
Down: PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat
BARNES: A surge, I should say, PLO - again.
MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Again, right.
BARNES: We've had him many times down...
KONDRACKE: I think he's our all-time winner.
BARNES: He's deserved every one of them.
KONDRACKE: Every time.
BARNES: Anyway, a surge of suicide bombings tied to his Al Aqsa Martyr Brigades gives hardliners ammunition to their argument that Arafat should not be part of any future settlement talks.
KONDRACKE: Well, Ariel Sharon has resisted the hard hardliners who are urging him to exile Arafat. And what Sharon has decided is that this reform idea, that is to displace Arafat...
KONDRACKE: ... and kick him upstairs, could actually work.
There are a lot of Palestinians, amazing how this idea has caught fire in the - even in the Arab world. The, the problem is that Arafat is such a slippery survivor that he may co-opt this whole process...
KONDRACKE: ... and end up on top instead of on, you know, kicked upstairs where he belongs.
BARNES: Yes, I'm afraid...
KONDRACKE: Out of power.
BARNES: ... I'm afraid these same Palestinians who want reform, they're also in favor of more suicide bombings.
But in any case, I agree with you that Arafat's a slippery guy, and he will probably survive. And by co-opting reform - let me give you an example of it. He's had 12 security agencies of one kind or another on, on the West Bank and Gaza. He's consolidated them in four. But he runs them all still. So you have really no real change there.
Another thing is, practically everyone, whether it's the Bush administration or the Arab countries around the Palestinians - I think most of the Palestinian people too want Arafat out, or at least kicked, at least kicked upstairs. But nobody wants to be blamed for doing it. Bush isn't going to do it, the Israelis won't do it, the Arab countries won't do it.
I think Arafat stays. If we have peace talks, they get nowhere.
Up: The Runs
KONDRACKE: The GOP's early announcement that they'll hold their 2004 convention the last week of August leaves Democrats scrambling to find a workable alternative date.
BARNES: You know, Republicans have completely outfoxed Democrats on this, and they have outfoxed Democratic National Chairman Terry McAuliffe, whom you have said is the greatest nuts-and-bolts savior of the party that the Democrats have ever seen.
They actually outfoxed it so Democrats have no good way to turn. The Republican convention, yes, right before Labor Day. If they have the convention after that, well, then, it'll be late, and it'll mean the presidential campaign will be very short, and they'll probably be campaigning against a popular Republican incumbent.
If they have it earlier, back in early August or late July or something, then the Olympics will come along in between there. Any bump they get will fade.
I think they're going to be a loser on this.
KONDRACKE: Yes, well, the reason I praised Terry McAuliffe is that he has put the machinery in place to replace all the soft money that the Democrats used to collect - collect, $100 million of it...
BARNES: Yes, yes, yes.
KONDRACKE: ... with hard money, which is very difficult to raise...
KONDRACKE: ... you know, and he - and so he's doing that.
The problem is that this scheduling snafu is - makes, makes it more likely they're going to have to spend it all, you know, because there's going to be a long gap between March, when the presidential candidates are selected, and the conventions, which will, which - later.
BARNES: Mort, I almost followed all that, but not quite.
Down: President Bush
BARNES: Bush lets the fatigue of his European trip get the best of him, and the White House press corps takes full advantage of it. Check out this exchange with NBC's David Gregory.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID GREGORY, NBC CORRESPONDENT: There's a view that you and your administration are trying to impose America's will on the rest of the world, particularly when it comes to the Middle East, and where the war on terrorism goes next.
Et monsieur le president, pouvez-vous ajouter vos sentiments de cette question? Merci.
BUSH: Hey, wait a minute. That's very good. He - the guy memorizes four words and he plays like he's intercontinental.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BARNES: You know, President Bush took the thing out of his ear, I thought he was going to go whip David Gregory with it.
But look, the - as much as people loathe the press, often for good reasons, I don't think it, it does a president any good to get down on the same level as the press and get in a fight with them. People expect the president to be too busy with world affairs and more important matters to be bothered with something that some reporter asked him.
It was a had - a hostile question, but so what?
KONDRACKE: Yes, you know, but in spite of that or anything else, much to the Democrats' dismay, nothing seems to ever dent Bush's approval rating.
KONDRACKE: I mean, we had a - did a rundown here of all the, of the, the latest polls, and the average of those is about 75 percent approval rating, which is phenomenal for this long.
And the latest one, the Gallup poll, shows him at 77 percent. So he's floating.
BARNES: Well, that's up, isn't it, the Gallup poll?
Up: Florida Governor Jeb Bush
KONDRACKE: Big brother George W. announces that the government will pay $235 million to stop oil and gas drilling in the Florida Everglades and off the state's panhandle coast. Jeb Bush makes no apologies when asked if this move will help his reelection bid.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. JEB BUSH (R), FLORIDA: I hope so. But more importantly, is - it is good public policy, and when there's a convergence of good politics and good public policy, I don't think we should be ashamed about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KONDRACKE: I mean, this was naked, just naked politics and pure hypocrisy. George Bush believes in oil and gas drilling practically everywhere, and the only - except where his, his, his brother is up for reelection.
I mean, the best line I heard on this, on this was from the, the president of the National Environmental Trust, who said that this was a $235 million campaign contribution to the Reelect Jeb Bush Committee, courtesy of the American taxpayer.
BARNES: Mort, you're confusing Bush with me. I favor drilling practically everywhere.
But look, there's something perverse going on here. Here Bush does something you like - you like this, right?
KONDRACKE: For the wrong reason.
BARNES: Well, no, but you get infuriated. That guy who, that so- called environmentalist who criticized Bush, has to be a wholly owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party.
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