Ups and Downs for the Week of Feb. 17-21

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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FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: And did you notice that guy's shirt? ...borrowed it from you.

But it's not just a bully that the French are. Who is acting like an adult, and accepting responsibility for dealing with the bad guys in the world, the U.S. Who is the adolescent who won't accept responsibility? The French. Who is it who has -- is surrounded by people who don't -- countries who don't agree with him? That's France. Who is it -- France is a lot more alone than the U.S. is.

You know, it's always charged the U.S. is going to operate unilaterally? Far from it.

So let's go to the ups and downs, since we're done with that, all right? You ready?

MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Yes, yes, ready.


UP: British Prime Minister Tony Blair

BARNES: Despite his popularity numbers tanking and a record number of Britons against the war, Blair holds firm to his belief that Saddam must go. Here's Blair this week defending his stance.


TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Look, I don't pretend to have a monopoly of wisdom in these issues, or I always know what's right and everyone else is wrong. I don't say that at all. I totally understand why people want to march and protest against what we're doing.

I just ask people to listen to the other side of the argument, that this issue of weapons of mass destruction and the link with international terrorism is serious and dangerous for our country and for the world...


KONDRACKE: Blair's approval rating is down in the, in the, in the low 30s, and most of his -- most of the people in Britain don't want to go to war in Iraq. He's getting constant abuse from the media, like The Daily Mirror has got a picture of him, well, you know, with blood on his hands.

And, and back-benchers in the Labour Party are against, are, are against what he's doing. I mean, this is an example of admirable raw political courage, what, what he's doing in defending, in defending our, our position.

You know, both Bush and Tony Blair are betting their offices, their presidency in one case and the prime ministership in the other case, on a good outcome in Iraq.

BARNES: Yes. I think they're both going to win.

You know who has endorsed The Daily Mirror's stop-the-war campaign, and that's former president Jimmy Carter. I happen to agree with, with what Senator John McCain said, his...advice for Jimmy Carter and for Bill Clinton on the war, Shut up.


BARNES: All right. Well, anyway, another standup guy is Jose Maria Aznar, the prime minister of...of Spain, whose, whose population, like Blair's, is not for the war, but he knows the right thing, and has been with Bush. In with Bush this Friday and Saturday down in the ultimate spot where Bush invites his closest friends, and that's the ranch in, in Crawford, Texas.


UP: Democratic presidential hopeful Dick Gephardt

KONDRACKE: Gephardt formally enters the president race this week as a major contestant, and the most seasoned and nationally experienced contender in the field. Here's Gephardt as in a -- at his announcement on Wednesday, wasting no time taking shots at President Bush.


U.S. REPRESENTATIVE DICK GEPHARDT (D-MO), PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL: That's the Bush record, a nation with zero job creation, racked with debt, unprepared for the future and the economy of the future, a nation that's growing apart when we should be growing together.

Let me be clear about this. President Bush is a good man, but he has no plan to get this economy moving again.


BARNES: You know, we give every presidential candidate, major candidate, an up arrow when he or she announces. And I think Gephardt deserves an up arrow even more than most. I mean, obviously he's pounding Bush on the economy, and when -- and will continue to do that. But even in very, very, very dovish Iowa, he has been standing up for the president. I mean, he called him a good man. You don't hear that...


BARNES: ... from many Democrats these days.

But he is as strongly for a regime change as Bush is, and I say he's a standup guy as a result of that.

KONDRACKE: It, it -- that does take courage in, in, in dovey Iowa, and...where the, you know, most of the activists there are, are against, are against this, this war...


KONDRACKE: ... by a lot, like 84 percent of the Democratic vote, primary voters in Iowa are against it...

BARNES: Yes, even a lot of the Republicans in Iowa are isolationists.

KONDRACKE: Right. I think that'll turn around...


KONDRACKE: ... if everything goes OK in, in Iraq, but Gephardt's other problems are labor...

BARNES: Right, yes.

KONDRACKE: ... not sure that it, that it wants to go with him, and the, the rap that he's old news.

BARNES: Yes, all right.

DOWN: The Rev. Jesse Jackson

BARNES: Chicago has been trying for seven months to close the nightclub where 21 people died in a stampede this week. The club had numerous building and fire code violations, but it stayed open. Why? The strong-arm tactics of one Jesse Jackson.

KONDRACKE: Well, this is another case of Jackson being involved in corruption. There's no other word for it. But you have to say that the city of Chicago, having cited this place, should have ignored what Jackson's...Jackson's intervention and closed this place down when it was hit...

BARNES: Yes, sure.

KONDRACKE: ... with these violations.

BARNES: Yes, Jackson accused them of being racist, though, for trying to enforce regulations there. Remember when he went down to North Carolina, and there was a white chicken producer whose factory had blocked doors, the same as that nightclub in Chicago? And, and -- now there, he was against the guy. This time...


BARNES: ... anyway, you get the drift. He's a hypocrite.


DOWN: Actor Martin Sheen and the antiwar group Win Without War

KONDRACKE: Sheen's leading a virtual march on Washington next week to protest potential military action in Iraq. The goal, jam switchboards, e-mail systems, and fax machines at the White House and the offices of all 100 senators. Here's Sheen in his new ad.


ANNOUNCER: You can help prevent war in Iraq. March on Washington, without leaving home. Use your computer, your phone, your fax.

MARTIN SHEEN, ACTOR/ACTIVIST: Don't invade Iraq. Inspections work, war won't. The virtual march on Washington will allow every American opposed to the war to stand up and be counted by calling, faxing, and e- mailing the U.S. Senate and the White House.

ANNOUNCER: Please, help prevent a war. Log onto today.

SHEEN: Join us online, and thank you.


BARNES: Geez, that's ridiculous. But who wins without war? Saddam Hussein...

KONDRACKE: Saddam, yes.

BARNES: ... wins. He stays in power. And these guys -- look, what if there's a terrorist attack the day they're doing all their hijinks and blocking e-mail and, and phone calls and so on? I don't think they realize, they're so juvenile and self-absorbed, they don't realize the harm they could do.

KONDRACKE: Now, I have to confess that I have not...


KONDRACKE: ... boycotted, as I promised, The West Wing...where, where, where...

BARNES: promised...

KONDRACKE: ... Martin J. Sheen...

BARNES: Solemnly, solemnly.

KONDRACKE: ... play, plays the president.

BARNES: Solemn.

KONDRACKE: But, but Martin J. Sheen should read his own script, for heavens' sakes. As the president, in the, in, in West Wing, he has got a battle group of Marines who have landed in an African country where the, where the dictator has butchered thousands of people, and he's ready to, he's ready to, to, to send them, to depose the regime. That's the, in Iraq...


KONDRACKE: ... I don't know why he doesn't understand it.

BARNES: Yes, life...

KONDRACKE: Coming up...

BARNES: ... is not imitating art, yes.

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