Ups and Downs for the Week of November 11-15

This is a partial transcript from The Beltway Boys, November 16, that has been edited for clarity. Click here to order the complete transcript.

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MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Yes, well, you took a long time.

Let's go to the Ups and Downs.

UP: New House minority leader Nancy Pelosi

KONDRACKE: She's now the top Democrat in the House, making her the highest-ranking woman ever to serve in Congress. It could also signal a leftward shift for the party caucus.

Here's Pelosi after her election on Thursday.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: We stand shoulder to shoulder with the president in support of our young men and women in uniform, and in the fight against terrorism.

Where we can find our common ground on the economy and on other domestic issues, we shall seek it. We have that responsibility to the American people. Where we cannot find that common ground, we must stand our ground.


FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: Mort, I want you, in thinking about Nancy Pelosi, I want you to check out this Gallup poll of Democrats, 54 percent of them think that Democratic leaders in Congress should promote policies that are more moderate. Only 39 percent think the agenda should be more liberal.

Now, that makes sense, and would point a direction for Nancy Pelosi to go, and she's a pretty savvy pol, might want to go there, except for her caucus, which consists of a majority of House -- of Democratic House members who come from these safe liberal districts, and they're going to want to move to the left.

I think she's going to have a real problem on her hands, particularly courting and holding onto those few moderate and conservative Democrats who are still left in the House who Republicans are, are going to try to woo.

KONDRACKE: Well, if, if the, if the caucus goes left, it will reduce the, the Democrats to permanent minority status. I mean, we'll be back to the days of Dukakis and McGovern and Mondale. And I hope that Nancy Pelosi, who does come from a, a hardcore pol background...

BARNES: Right.

KONDRACKE: ... in Baltimore, she's, you know, not, she wasn't born a California liberal...


KONDRACKE: ... you know, she realizes that history and will, will adjust accordingly.

UP: House Majority Leader Tom DeLay

BARNES: Oh, OK. Not only Nancy Pelosi is up, but so is incoming House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. After years of wielding his power behind the scenes, the Hammer, an unapologetic conservative, is poised to take his tough leadership style to the national stage as the number two Republican in the House.

Mort, your bete noir is on top.

KONDRACKE: Not bete noir. But DeLay is a, a Machiavellian power player in serving what he calls, you know, Christian values. Now, this is a very curious combination, you know, tough guy, Hammer, all that stuff, going along with love, love and charity and...


KONDRACKE: ... the, the Christian values. I don't know how it quite puts, puts itself together. But in any event, he is a brilliant strategist, there's no question about it, a great persuader. And he knows when to subdue his image, as he...


KONDRACKE: ... as he has. He's not Newt Gingrich. He is not going to explode the way Newt Gingrich did.

BARNES: Yes, he's not an egomaniac, among other things. I don't know about this Machiavellian stuff. Look, he's a tough guy with strong conservative beliefs. He has principles. He tries to stick to them. You know who's a big fan of, of Tom DeLay, other than myself? James Carville, the Ragin' Cajun, who says if Democrats had to -- had a Tom DeLay type as their leader in the House or the Senate, they would be in control of both houses. He respects his toughness...

KONDRACKE: ... you regard that...

BARNES: ... and he...

KONDRACKE: ... as a compliment?

BARNES: Yes, I do.

KONDRACKE: You do? Well, I don't.

UP: Former Vice President Al Gore

KONDRACKE: Instead of using his media tour to play Democratic Party elder statesman, Gore chooses to embrace a single-payer health plan and continues to bellyache about his 2000 presidential election. But his shift to the left strengthens his position in the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination fight.

BARNES: OK. Well, that's why he's up, right?

KONDRACKE: Right, that's why he's up, exactly.

BARNES: Yes, OK, good.

KONDRACKE: I mean, I think that he, that he has gone, he's going to be the, the most left-wing candidate in the, in the field, and it's going to help him get nominated. But if that, if that's what he does, with a single-payer health, Canadian-style health plan...

BARNES: Right.

KONDRACKE: ... and, and that sort of thing, then he may get the nomination, but he will be Walter Mondale all over again in the 1984 presidential race, losing badly.

BARNES: Right. I hope Al Gore will answer some questions, because I have about three of them. One is, where has a single-payer health care system ever worked without suffocating bureaucracy and years- long waits for surgery? Secondly, why does he think, why did he think that Saddam Hussein should be ousted in 1991 but not now? And overall, I wish he would explain to us why this change of heart and this lurch to the left.

I mean, how, how come he's doing it? OK.

Down, I'm going to move on, Mort.

DOWN: Democratic Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman

BARNES: He's down over 3,000 votes after last week's election, but Siegelman refuses to concede defeat to Republican challenger, or, as he called himself, governor-elect, Congressman Bob Riley, and continues to push for a statewide recount?

Mort, why is that that Democrats, and I consider Daschle a part of this, and Bob Graham and others, why are they having such a difficult time psychologically accepting defeat?

KONDRACKE: It's hard.

BARNES: Well, I know, but, I mean, do they think it's unfair and it's uncalled-for and Republicans, you know, they don't have the moral bearing of Democrats and so on? Siegelman doesn't have a leg to stand on in Alabama. Now he's running around trying to get ballot boxes open so he can hunt around for spoiled ballots that maybe he can find the hanging chads or something. This is pathetic.

KONDRACKE: Well, it ain't going to work, because even his -- the Democrats in his state legislature don't want to come back to town...

BARNES: No, it's...

KONDRACKE: ... in order to pass a new recount law.


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