Ups and Downs for the Week of June 3 - 7

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

Up: Attorney General John Ashcroft

KONDRACKE: Ashcroft shows that the government is finally doing — getting something serious going about catching potential terrorists. Phase one of the plan, fingerprint and photograph visa holders from countries that sponsor terrorism, namely Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, and Syria.

Here's the attorney general on Wednesday.


JOHN ASHCROFT, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I believe that this is not only the right thing to do to protect America but it is a fair way to assign the system based on what we understand to be national security concerns rather than other criteria.


FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: I like that, "other criteria." Anyway, you know, Mort, some in Washington, and I would particularly say Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta, would rather be politically correct than get serious about the war on terrorism. Not John Ashcroft, however. Look at the stuff he's done, he's rounded up potential terrorists on visa violations and put them in the slammer, where several hundred of them still are.

Now, this new thing about visa holders coming from countries that have produced terrorists in the past, this list that you mention, those are on the official State Department list of terrorist countries, or, or countries that sponsor terrorism. Others are going to be added, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

Now, liberals and the press and, and, and you to some extent, Mort, frown on what Ashcroft does. But the truth is, he is extraordinary struggle — extraordinarily popular with the people, and as, as this Fox News poll shows. Just look at these numbers, 60 — a whopping 63 percent favor expanded law enforcement powers to catch terrorists even if some civil liberties have to be sacrificed.

KONDRACKE: Well, I was talking to an American friend who lives in Mexico, and she said that when you get there, the first thing you do after you, you take up your residence is, you go to the police station and you register. And then every six months you have to check in with the police station again to tell them that, that you're, that you're still there.

She is no terrorist. Now, I think that John Ashcroft is a zealot, and I think that, that, that Congress has got to oversee — give oversight to what he's doing carefully, to make sure that he doesn't tromp on civil liberties eventually. But this is a moment for zeal. We are at war.

BARNES: All right, good point, time for zeal.

Down: Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee

BARNES: Vajpayee nixes a meeting with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf this week, pushing the international crisis between the two nuclear powers into another week.

KONDRACKE: Well, you know, I'm glad that Vajpayee was not by Bush's side when he was making that speech at West Point, because if Vajpayee decided that he was going to preempt Pakistani terrorism...

BARNES: Yes, yes.

KONDRACKE: ... we might have a nuclear war on our hands in the, in the South Asia.

BARNES: Well, look, Bush's strategy is quite different in dealing with the India-Pakistan thing. You know, look, I happened to encounter Donald Rumsfeld, the defense secretary, this past week, and I asked him, "Why aren't you already in India?" And he said, "Well, I'm going, but we're trying to extend the time before I get there."

And I, I figured out what the strategy is, the Bush administration, and it's working, and that is, to keep Musharraf and Vajpayee talking with somebody, because if they're talking, they're not having a war, you know.  And so we had, it was Vladimir Putin earlier this past week, and now I think Richard Armitage, the deputy secretary of state, is there, President Bush called them both on the phone, Rumsfeld's going to get there.

Eventually, if they're talking to all these other people, they will start talking to each other, as they should do. Vajpayee has to agree to that.


Down: White House chief of staff Andrew Card

KONDRACKE: The usually tight- lipped Card tells Esquire magazine that President Bush is in, quote unquote, "denial" over adviser Karen Hughes's departure, and he worried aloud that Karl Rove will now have free reign in the White House. Quote, "That's what I've been doing from the start of this administration, standing in the middle of a seesaw with Karen on one side, Karl on the other, and trying to keep them in balance. One of them just jumped off."

You know, this, this was, this was phenomenal. I mean, usually, this is talking out of school, this is something that a...


KONDRACKE: ... Bush aide does not do. But...

BARNES: Did you ever get anything like this out of Andy Card?

KONDRACKE: Yes, never. But the way White House aides tell it to me, that this is less Bush being unbalanced by this whole thing, but Card being unbalanced. And, and apparently, I mean, he really did depend on some sort of playing off of, of Rove and, and Hughes, and now Hughes is leaving, so he, he's afraid, I guess, that Karl Rove is going to go sweeping into the White House and, and bypassing him.

BARNES: Yes. You know, I found these remarks kind of goofy, actually. I, I wasn't sure what he was talking about. I talked to other White House aides, they couldn't make heads or tails out of these things. Some of them wondered whether Andy Card had actually said these things. But he hasn't repudiated them.

You know, Karl Rove is that kind of indispensable person at the White House. We see, there were a number of them in other administrations, but somebody who is a smart political operative who also has mastered policy.  It doesn't happen often, you know, Karl Rove is not even a college graduate. But I think he's probably among the smarter people there.

And while Andy Card could leave and, and Karen Hughes can leave, and the White House would survive, I think Bush would really be hurting some if he didn't have Karl Rove around there.

Up: The U.S. soccer team

BARNES: The Americans pull off one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history, beating European powerhouse Portugal this week. And Mort Kondracke failed to get up and watch the game at 5:00 a.m.  Here's what columnist Andrew Sullivan has said about Americans and America and soccer. "Increasingly, America's indifference to the World Cup seems a symbol of something else. This country that essentially runs the world is still somehow not culturally a part of it," unquote.

I — Andrew Sullivan has a great Web site, On the other hand, I think he is wrong about this. The fact of this American victory over a very skilled Portugal team and the enthusiasm it's generated prove that America is part of the world. America now has the — is the rising power in world soccer, not at the top yet, but is the rising power.  And on Monday, at 2:30 a.m., I expect you and most Americans to be up watching the game against South Korea.

KONDRACKE: I was actually watching the French Open, you know.

BARNES: Oh, geez.

KONDRACKE: And, and, you know, the other good news about this whole thing...


KONDRACKE: ... is that, is that the French are defending World Cup champions are going to presumably lose...

BARNES: Yes, no, they're not going to make...

KONDRACKE: ... so we could...

BARNES: ... the second round, yes.

KONDRACKE: ... we can, we can, we can all cheer about that.


KONDRACKE: But the other good news is that there is no French player in the finals of the French Open, either men's or women's tennis.

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