Ups and Downs for the Week of Feb. 10-14

This is a partial transcript from The Beltway Boys, Feb. 15, 2003, that has been edited for clarity. Click here to order the complete transcript.

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


KONDRACKE: The decades-old alliance is in disarray as disagreement continues over steps to protect Turkey in the event of a war with Iraq.  The countries blocking such a move, Germany, Belgium, and our pals the French.

Now, what NATO is doing is -- those countries is doing is perfectly unconscionable. And it's partly racist. You remember the Turks wanted to get into the European union. Did the Europeans let them in? They said no.


KONDRACKE: And the, and Turkey is the kind of country that we want Islamic countries to develop into. I mean, it's secular, it's, it's modernizing, it's not all there yet on human rights, but it's in the right direction...


KONDRACKE: ... and the Europeans are batting them in the face.

BARNES: Yes, I know, I love Turkey, the great country. And, and like, like at the U.N., NATO is leading itself right into irrelevance. It will be an organization that doesn't do anything, thanks to the French, who don't even participate militarily in NATO. That's horrible. All right.

DOWN: Senate Democrats

BARNES: The filibuster of judicial nominee Miguel Estrada continues, further intensifying the partisan deadlock. Senate Democrats demand for eternal -- internal Justice Department memos written by Estrada, a request flatly rejected by the White House and dismissed by Republicans as a fishing expedition, which it certainly is.

You know, every former -- this involves a solicitor's general's office that, that does the appeals...

KONDRACKE: Justice, yes.

BARNES: ... in the Supreme Court if it -- at, at the Justice Department. And every prior Republican or Democratic solicitor general who's still alive opposes this fishing expedition, saying it would it would mean the office couldn't function, there wouldn't be confidential memos and everything.

Now, I think after this recess in the coming week, we're going to see a Democratic filibuster that's going to go on for a long time against Estrada, and I think this is going to hurt the Democrats politically a lot.  They may even block Estrada, and then it'll hurt them even more politically.

Now, Estrada, as it turns out, look, watch this tape in just a sec, has one very strong lobbyist who with him dropped by the Judiciary Committee, Senate Judiciary Committee hearing room the other day. Watch this.


SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Very good politician. Thank you, that was great.

She said, I hope you'll return the favor and vote for my son, because I voted for you when you were in New York.


BARNES: ...that was his mother.

KONDRACKE: Mother....


KONDRACKE: You know, the Democrats, led by No More Mr. Nice Guy Tom Daschle, are at war with Bush on every -- practically every policy. I mean, they're, they've, they've been OK on Iraq, but only OK.

And -- but in any event, they -- here they are going after Estrada, and this is going to, this going to redound against Democrats in the long run, because there is going to be a Democratic president someday again,  and they have crossed a barrier, a, a no-fire zone, where you, you didn't filibuster judicial nominees.

And, and they're employing this lethal weapon in, in a case where, this is not the fifth vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, on the...

BARNES: ...yes.

KONDRACKE: ... on the U.S. Supreme Court, this is a -- an appellate court nomination, and they're, and they're doing it on the basis that they don't know what the guy stands for, and they're imputing all the worst, all the worst things to him.

And I think they're going to lose Hispanic votes on account of it.

BARNES: Yes, I agree. That was very good.

UP: Massachusetts senator and Democratic presidential hopeful John Kerry

KONDRACKE: Despite knowing since Christmas Eve about his prostate cancer, Kerry goes public with the news this week in his own time, in his own terms, and with some humor. Here's Kerry on Wednesday.


SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I was just coming back down from Baltimore where I was busy doing some of the preop ordeals. They told me they're going to take my aloof gland out tomorrow, so I'm feeling better.


BARNES: That was pretty good. Good for Kerry.


BARNES: You know, people love self-deprecating humor, and they hear it so infrequently from politicians.

KONDRACKE: Yes, I think we've passed an, an important milestone in a very good way for a change.


KONDRACKE: I mean, it used to be that illness, especially cancer, was ruinous for a political candidate.


KONDRACKE: Nobody's, nobody's paying any attention. They're just cheering Kerry on.

BARNES: Yes, right.

KONDRACKE: And he's, you know, he's ready to, ready to go.

BARNES: Yes, yes, that's the right response. OK.

DOWN: Actor Richard Gere

BARNES: Last week in New York, Gere praised President Bush's commitment to finding a cure for AIDS. This week in Germany, he's changed his tune. Speaking to a crowd at the Berlin Film Festival -- which you usually attend, right?...


BARNES: ... Gere said, quote, "Bush's plans for war are a bizarre bad dream. I keep asking myself where all this personal enmity between George Bush and Saddam Hussein comes from. It's like the story of Captain Ahab and the Great White Whale from `Moby-Dick.'"

You know, if he'd just read the paper, he'd, he'd know where it comes from.


BARNES: Saddam Hussein's evil.

KONDRACKE: Well, and, you know, Richard Gere should remember how he feels on behalf of Tibet for the communist Chinese. It's a lot, it's a lot know, it's just as justified, just as angry, but the, but the Chinese are not employing weapons of mass destruction against the Tibetans.

BARNES: Mort, you know what's next? Madonna's antiwar music video.  I know you can't wait.

KONDRACKE: Coming up, Dick Gephardt makes it official next week. He wants George Bush's job. We'll tell you how his formal entry into the presidential race will impact on the field.

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