Ups and Downs for the Week of Dec. 7-13

This is a partial transcript from The Beltway Boys, December 14, that has been edited for clarity. Click here to order the complete transcript.

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Time for the ups and downs.

FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: Time now for Ups and Downs.

Down, the Sept. 11 commission.

Political infighting and intense questioning of members' business dealings leads to two high-profile departures this week, chairman Henry Kissinger and vice chairman George Mitchell.

MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Yes, well, both Henry Kissinger and George Mitchell decided to put their own business interests ahead of the national interest.  That's what you have to conclude from this. I mean, George Mitchell was pretty up front about it. He said, I don't have time to do my law practice and my lobbying and whatever else and also do this. Henry Kissinger said that he wasn't willing to disclose who his clients are, and, and, and he came up with some scenario whereby he would have to dissolve Kissinger Associates.

It was not a straightforward statement in resigning.

I thought that Kissinger was a bad choice in the beginning. Brilliant though he is, knowledgeable though he is, he is still a big secret-keeper.

BARNES: Oh, jeez. Look, Kissinger had promised to reveal his clients to the White House, to other members of the panel and to the families of the victims of September 11. I think that's plenty.

Secondly, this study of the Sept. 11commission should be a study, a strategic study over the last 20 years, not just picking on Bush and Clinton, but over the last 20 years, of how America dealt with terrorism. What was done wrong, what needs to be done in the future? And if Kissinger's not there, I nominate George Schulz, the former secretary of state to replace him.

KONDRACKE: I think that's a first-rate choice.

Dow, Boston Archbishop Cardinal Law.

After months of protest, which brought his archdiocese to the brink of financial ruin, Cardinal Law submits to the pope his resignation and the pope finally accepted. I mean, in fact, Law submitted his resignation weeks ago, and the pope didn't accept it, which I think he should have done at the time.

But what this whole terrible scandal brings up is not just that there is a ghastly priestly pedophilia problem in the Catholic Church, but that there is a culture of secrecy and authoritarianism in the church that's got to be opened up.

Now, I'm not talking about democracy...


KONDRACKE: ... because it's never going to be a democracy...

BARNES: OK, good, yes.

KONDRACKE: ... but more democracy.

BARNES: Yes. Well, look, Mort, it is a hierarchical church. You know what that is, a hierarchical church?

KONDRACKE: I know, I know, boss rule.

BARNES: Exactly, the guy at the top, he's the guy you listen to. Now, you happen to be a member of a church that's a hierarchical church, the Episcopal Church. I mean, you know, it's not very democratic in most things either.

KONDRACKE: Well, the essence of Protestantism, though is that you don't have to go through the clergy to get to God. That's the idea.

BARNES: All right. Look, the pope gave Law plenty of time. I think he gave him a chance to clean up the archdiocese that he was the head of.  And when he didn't do it, and when it was clear he either didn't do it or couldn't do it, and that became clear when those 58 priests signed a letter, a public letter, saying, you know, Law has to go, then the pope accepted his apology, and that was the right time to do it. All right.

Up, Stephen Friedman, President Bush's pick for chairman of the National Economic Council at the White House.

Despite protests from conservatives that he was ho-hum on tax cuts, the former chairman of Goldman Sachs passes muster with President Bush, who appointed him his top economic adviser this week.

Now, I don't know what you think of Friedman, but I think he may not have been a tax cutter, but he is going to be now a tax cutter. And that is the right thing to be. You know, Mort, only 30 percent of the Bush tax cut passed in 2001 has actually gone into effect. And that helped get us out of the recession. But really, more is needed now. The economy's growing, but we need something to spur further growth and create more jobs.

And don't worry about the deficit. I know at home at night you lie in bed worrying, "Oh, the poor deficit, it's, it's too big!" But, Mort, the deficit has never caused interest rates to rise, and it won't this time.

KONDRACKE: OK, look, a couple points. First, I think that, that Friedman as a deficit hawk will help Bush sell the case, because when he comes out for tax cuts, people will give it credibility. Secondly, you know, it may work. The tax cuts do work to stimulate the economy and get us out of recession.

BARNES: Sure, right.

KONDRACKE: My problem with the tax cuts is not the interest rate problem, it is, rather, that these humongous tax cuts of Bush's crowd out social programs that this country needs, like, health insurance for the uninsured and more spending on education, which is investment in the well-being of the country.

BARNES: Yes, but states do that.

KONDRACKE: Down, actor Martin Sheen.

Sheen, who once called President Bush "a moron," joins other celebrities to protest a possible war against Iraq. There was a lot of anti-Bush rhetoric by this lefty crowd, but the comment by Sheen takes the cake. Watch.


MARTIN SHEEN, ACTOR: And I think he'd like to hand his father Saddam Hussein's head and win his approval for what happened after the Gulf War.  That's my own personal opinion. I don't know if that's true. I hope it's not, but I suspect it is.



KONDRACKE: I'm a long-standing junkie of The West Wing, you know.


KONDRACKE: And, and one of the reasons is that President Josiah Bartlet, that's who Sheen plays, if you don't watch that show -- I know it's too liberal for you...


KONDRACKE: But President Bartlet is a hawk, and, you know, that's what makes it charming. I think I'm going to boycott The West Wing from now on. I may even call for President Bartlet's impeachment.

BARNES: You know, I have met John Spencer, who plays the, the White House chief of staff in that show. He's kind of the Karl Rove of that White House. You notice, he did not sign on that antiwar statement that Sheen was a part of.

Now, Matt Damon did sign on.

KONDRACKE: Yes, the one that looks like you, huh?

BARNES: Yes, right. No, but I, I found it very disappointing that this rising star would sign on there. Don't you think I should tell my kids to boycott his movies?

KONDRACKE: Yes, they won't listen to you, though.

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