Ups and Downs for the Week of Dec. 2-6

This is a partial transcript from The Beltway Boys, December 7, that has been edited for clarity. Click here to order the complete transcript.

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FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: All right. We'll move on.

UP: Bill Clinton

BARNES: Clinton delivers some much-needed tough love to Democrats this week, stop moping around and start coming up with some new ideas to challenge the Republicans. But unlike other national Democrats, Clinton says the party should not move to the left to regain its electoral edge. Here's Clinton speaking to the centrist Democratic Leadership Council Tuesday.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We don't have to be more liberal, but we do have to be more relevant in a progressive way. We have to have a clear and strong national security stand. We have to compare results from their efforts and ours. And we have to be tough and disciplined.


MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Well, Clinton delivered a trenchant...


KONDRACKE: ... analysis of, of why the Democrats lost, and, and a positive, had a positive agenda...

BARNES: Right.

KONDRACKE: ... for, for getting started toward the next election.

But...the -- one -- but one thing that -- is -- there's one flaw in all, in what Democrats are doing. The Washington Post had another of its magnificent editorials on Iraq the other day, and pointed, a Friday, and pointed out that there are basically three Democratic positions. One is the Joe Lieberman position, regime change. Another one, which is respectable, is a, is a containment position...

BARNES: Right.

KONDRACKE: ... don't go to war. But there's this third position, which is critical of Bush but doesn't say what to do. And that's the Clinton position.

BARNES: Yes, that is, that is...a Clinton position. He ought to know better. He was president. And when he was president, his administration adopted regime change as its policy.

There was one other thing that really got me in, in Clinton's speech. He said, he was saying, Oh, the Republicans have treated Tom Daschle so terribly, and, and they have a destruction machine, and we as Democrats don't have one. Well, ask Ken Starr, ask Robert Bork, ask Clarence Thomas...


BARNES: ... whether Democrats have a destruction machine or not.

KONDRACKE: Both parties have destruction machines.

UP: Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.

KONDRACKE: He's riding a wave of favorable press so far after announcing a presidential exploratory committee. But the question remains, will Kerry run as a centrist or a liberal?

BARNES: Well, he is a formidable candidate, but he is exactly what you were talking about, and that Washington Post editorial was talking about, he's a guy that you don't really know what his ultimate position is on Iraq or even on the war on terrorism or even on the Gulf War back 11 years ago, where now says, at the moment, the right thing to do was, was still to vote against the war, but then when the war came about a couple weeks later, he said, Well, they won easily.

Now he says he's critical of Bush on Iraq, and, and, and so on, but he voted for the resolution giving Bush authority to unilaterally act.

I mean, Mort, what is he?

I think he sounds more liberal than not.

KONDRACKE: Well, he -- on health care, he's going to be, he's going to be more of a centrist than Al Gore is. He's not going to call for a single-payer Canadian-style system.


KONDRACKE: But what this Post editorial said -- it really was a good editorial...

BARNES: It was a great editorial.

KONDRACKE: ... was that the, that the, that these guys, it's, it's the Clinton position, the Kerry position, and the Gore position is to be critical enough of, of George Bush so that...


KONDRACKE: ... if the war somehow goes badly, they can claim that they were right...


KONDRACKE: ... without saying, you know, taking responsibility for saying what we ought to do.

BARNES: Yes, I mean, what about that? That's not leadership.

KONDRACKE: It's bad.


DOWN: The New York Times

BARNES: After getting slammed in media circles, the Gray Lady reverses course and will publish revised versions of two previously rejected sports columns about the Augusta National Golf Club's men-only membership policy. The paper's editorial board has been highly critical of the club. That's put it mildly.

KONDRACKE: Yes, it has been.

BARNES: Now, more than 40 stories.

KONDRACKE: Right. Well, look, the, the Augusta National - The New York Times's crusade on this subject is, is over the top. I mean, it is true that that...a Hootie Johnson who runs the Augusta National...


KONDRACKE: a troglodyte...


KONDRACKE: ... and women ought to be allowed in the club. Come on, this is...


KONDRACKE: ... the 21st century.


KONDRACKE: Because, I mean, you know -- But, for The New York Times to devote all this energy...


KONDRACKE: ... to getting...


KONDRACKE: ... securing places for one or two rich women, I mean, is just...

BARNES: It is ridiculous.

But this is a different New York Times now, you know, they -- it's not the paper of record, it's not the Gray Lady, this is a paper that is moving under Howell Raines, the editor, far to the left, anti-Bush, anti-war in Iraq, anti-Republican. It look, it sounds more, reads more like The Guardian in England, the left-wing paper in England. Then you have centrist papers and right-wing papers, and the -- if that's what The Time wants to be, fine, but it, it's not the, the Times we used to know. Right?


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