Ups and Downs for the Week of Jan. 13-17

This is a partial transcript from The Beltway Boys, Jan. 18, 2003, 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 .

DOWN: Affirmative action

KONDRACKE: Opponents got a big boost this week when the White House rejected the University of Michigan's affirmative action admissions policies and filed a brief with the Supreme Court urging it to do the same.

Here's Bush Wednesday and Senator Teddy Kennedy's response.


BUSH: I strongly support diversity of all kinds, including racial diversity in higher education. But the method used by the University of Michigan to achieve this important goal is fundamentally flawed. At their core, the Michigan policies amount to a quota system that unfairly rewards or penalizes prospective students based solely on their race.

SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: The talk is there in terms of civil rights, but the walk is not there, whether they are going to stand with the progress of America in knocking down these walls of discrimination, or whether they are going to be missing in action. And to date, this administration's missing in action.


KONDRACKE: Look, if you believe in Martin Luther King's dream of a colorblind society, then you have to say that Bush is ahead of the, of the Democrats here. I mean, the Democrats constantly are in favor of racial preferences, which cause divisiveness on college campuses, and they constantly are playing the race card against, against Republicans.

Bush wants people to be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin.

Now, there is one thing that he could do that would help this along, and that is to make sure that everybody gets a good education so that they can get to college and compete...


KONDRACKE: ... and they can't do that if they're attending lousy schools, and they -- and then the schools won't improve...

BARNES: Right.

KONDRACKE: ... unless Bush spends the money...on education.

BARNES: There you go again, Mort. You know, you really, you know, when you, your response is a, an inflexible response, a more money will solve every problem, there's no proof that more money that a school gets make the schools better. The teachers are lousy, the curriculum's poor, money isn't going to change that.

But look, I thought Teddy Kennedy was actually fairly mild in his criticism of Bush, and, and, and the truth is, I think they've been cowed by Bush. They thought that by calling Republicans racists, and after the Trent Lott affair and Hillary Clinton declaiming -- claiming that two senators were elected because they used the racist issue and the Confederate flag, she hasn't named them yet...

KONDRACKE: You will not let her get away with that, will you?

BARNES: ... that that, of course not.  She ought to, she has to answer for that. I, I'll be, I'll, I'll -- I want her to be accountable.

But they thought Republicans were going to be a cow -- be cowed and be afraid to present a conservative position on racial matters. Bush was not cowed, he did it on affirmative action, and he did it in renominating Judge Pickering, and he should have. All right.

UP: Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn.

BARNES: Declaring himself a different kind of Democrat, Lieberman throws his hat into the presidential ring and immediately becomes the early front-runner in an increasingly packed field.  Here's Lieberman last Monday.


SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (D), CONNECTICUT: I know that this will be a long and sometimes difficult journey, begun today across America, for my family and me. We look forward to it with excitement and optimism.

Some mornings when I wake up, I may not know exactly where I am, but I promise you this, I will always know who I am and what I stand for.


BARNES: Do you think that was a dig at Al Gore?

KONDRACKE: Little dig at Al Gore?



BARNES: OK, anyway, the latest Fox News poll shows Lieberman beating his closest rival, Dick Gephardt, by 14 points. What if Hillary Clinton were running, you think, you think Lieberman would be in the lead? Yes, she'd...yes, yes, she would be the front-runner.

You know what's appealing about, about Lieberman, to me, anyway, he is a different kind of Democrat. He's sort of like an old Cold War liberal, you know, hawkish on foreign policy but very liberal on, on domestic policy. I think he's probably going to get even more liberal on domestic policy, but we'll see.

KONDRACKE: Well, I was impressed in, in his, in his opening statement that he did not run away from his previously expressed views on school voucher experiments or his previous criticism of Hollywood, you know, excesses...

BARNES: Yes, yes.

KONDRACKE: ... and he is tough on foreign policy. Now, I would like to think that there was a different kind of Democratic Party...


KONDRACKE: ... that could nominate...


KONDRACKE: ... somebody like him...

BARNES: Yes....

KONDRACKE: ... but...I'm afraid he's too left...yes, the party's too left for him.


DOWN: AOL Time Warner

KONDRACKE: The media giant gets a big-time shakeup this week with the high-profile departures of Steve Case as chairman of the company and Walter Isaacson as chairman and chief executive of CNN.

BARNES: You know, Mort, I have no idea whether this merger of AOL or AOL swallowing up Time Warner actually makes sense strategically, but Steve Case served the AOL stockholders so well, because he bought -- he used AOL stock to buy Time Warner about two months before the tech bust. So, I mean, look, AOL stockholders would be, I mean, they'd be in the, in the tank if they didn't have all these assets that he got from Time Warner.

So he served them well, and I think he's an impressive guy.

KONDRACKE: Well, I just want to say how in awe I am of Walter Isaacson, who's just departed from CNN. I mean, I, I think he was not cut out to be a television executive. But while he was running CNN, he wrote a biography of Benjamin Franklin, you know, this is, this is his third book...


KONDRACKE: ... all of them, the two, two previous ones very well received. And, you know, I barely have time to read books. I don't know how -- where he gets the time to, to write it.

BARNES: Yes, I read The Wise Men, which he co-authored, and his book about Henry Kissinger, which -- both extremely good books. I benefited from reading them. OK.

Here's one you'll love, Mort.

DOWN: Miller Light

BARNES: You can expect scantily clad women in beer commercials during sporting events, but Miller Lite's latest ad goes over the top even for them. Watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Doesn't Miller Lite taste great?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, but I drink it because it's less filling.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Less filling. Drink...!




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, man, now that would make a great commercial.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who wouldn't want to watch that?

ANNOUNCER: Life is best told over a great-tasting Miller Lite at a place called Millertime.



BARNES: Now, Mort, why did, why did we run this ad? Was it for the reason I think, sheer titillation? Or was it because we have something important to say about what this says about American culture?

KONDRACKE: Cultural commentary.


KONDRACKE: But the Jerry Springer...

BARNES: Right.

KONDRACKE: ... the Jerry Springer spirit...

BARNES: Yes, yes.

KONDRACKE: ... now prevails everywhere on television...


KONDRACKE: ... if it's not reality shows...


KONDRACKE: ... then it's sports commercials as well.

BARNES: Where, where's the bottom in this race to the bottom?

KONDRACKE: There is no bottom.

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