Ups and Downs for the Week of April 21-25

This is a partial transcript from The Beltway Boys, April 26, 2003, that has been edited for clarity. Click here to order the complete transcript.

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FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: Can I go to the Up and Downs now...

MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: You can, go, please.

BARNES: All right. Down, and I think unfairly down, but nonetheless down, Senator Rick Santorum. He's still under fire for his comments on a Texas sodomy law up for review before the Supreme Court.

Santorum told the AP recently, “If the Supreme Court says you have the right to consensual gay sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything."

Now, several Democrats and gay groups have called for Santorum to apologize or leave his leadership post. You've heard all this, Mort. But so far, he's riding out the storm.

Now I want to cite for you the 1986 ruling, written by Supreme Court Justice Byron White, writing for the majority in the Bowers v. Hardwick case. This is the case that they're trying to overturn now. And he, and he said, this is kind of legalese, but he says, "If respondent's submission is limited to the voluntary sexual conduct between consenting adults, it would be difficult, except by fiat"-- that's by law-- "to limit the claimed right to homosexual conduct while leaving exposed to prosecution adultery, incest, and other sexual crimes, even though they are committed in the home. We are unwilling to start down that road."

Now, he's saying, you'll admit, what Santorum is saying is exactly said in the majority ruling that is the law of the land. Now, how can it be a scandal, or even a gaffe, for Santorum to say something that is merely echoing what is the law of the land, Mort?

KONDRACKE: Look, it's a big issue, because the country, most of the country, has moved beyond where Byron White was in 1986. That was even a five to four ruling.


KONDRACKE: What Santorum is endorsing, in effect, is for the cops to barge into people's bedrooms and arrest them for gay sexual acts.  And this United States Supreme Court is taking a case from Texas that is reconsidering that. And I will bet you that this court will figure out a way to decriminalize gay sex while still allowing for prosecutions of incest and bigamy. You'd be for that, wouldn't you?

BARNES: Yes, well, yes, I would. Look, I'm not for these laws. I just don't think they are covered, that there's this constitutional zone of privacy that says these laws really -- that a public opinion may have changed, the Constitution hasn't changed, Mort.

KONDRACKE: The Supreme Court says what the Constitution is, and it will change its mind.

Up, Democratic presidential hopeful Dick Gephardt. Gephardt makes a bold move this week to set himself apart from the rest of the Democratic presidential field. His proposal, health insurance for all Americans at an initial cost of $210 billion a year. And he'd scrap all of President Bush's tax cuts to pay for it.

Here's Gephardt on Wednesday trashing Bush's handling of the economy.


REP. DICK GEPHARDT, D-MO., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: George Bush's fiscal mismanagement is killing the economy right before our eyes. And the amazing thing is, he doesn't even realize it. He has no plan, no vision, no answer beyond simplistic, knee-jerk tax cuts for the wealthiest among us.

When you've got blinders on, like our president, you just don't see those who are left by the side of the road.


KONDRACKE: Look, Bush obviously has a vision. It's called cut taxes and cut taxes some more.


KONDRACKE: Gephardt's wrong on that point. But the, but to get to Gephardt, I mean, he is trying to make a play now, having supported the, the president on the war in Iraq to be the biggest liberal in the Democratic field on domestic issues.


KONDRACKE: He is now the raise-taxes candidate and he's going to be the big spending candidate. This is, this is a humongous amount of money, all of the Bush tax cuts, maybe $2 trillion to pay for this health insurance plan.


KONDRACKE: I mean, he is right to address the health care crisis, which the Bush administration has ignored. But the fact is that this is so expensive, and also it subsidizes, double subsidy, for employers who are already paying for, for health insurance for their employees, and I think it's open to attack not only from the general election but also in primaries.

BARNES: Yes. Mort, we don't have a health care crisis.


BARNES: Gephardt is a decent guy. But this plan is wrong. It's more mandates, it's higher taxes, even on the working poor. They'll, they'll have to pay higher taxes as a result. It's horrendously expensive. And it doesn't get where the health care system where it ought to be, where patients are able to put some pressure on health care costs. OK.

Up, Palestinian Prime Minister Abu Mazen. After weeks of tense negotiation, Mazen and PLO chairman Yasser Arafat agree on a compromise cabinet for a governing Palestinian Authority, paving the way for the resumption of Mideast peace talks.

What about it?

KONDRACKE: Well, this is a step in the right direction, but it's obviously only a step. I mean, the real test is whether the new government of the Palestinian Authority can bring Hamas and Islamic Jihad and the terrorist groups, other terrorist groups, some of which are connected to, to Yasser Arafat, under control.

If they can do that, then, then we can proceed down the road to peace.

BARNES: Yes, got to get Arafat out of the way too.


Down, Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. While the world watched the war in Iraq, Castro's government rounded up 75 dissidents and sent them to jail for terms of up to 28 years, and it also executed by firing squad three hijackers of a ferryboat. Opposition groups call this the harshest crackdown in a generation.

BARNES: And it was. You know, liberals love Castro. They think he's compassionate and tolerant. But he's not, he's a communist dictator. And, you know, in this case, he blamed all this, it was all spurred by the Munchkin who runs the U.S. interests office in Havana. That's pathetic.

KONDRACKE: Yes, well, you know, this blocks any move to, to lighten sanctions on the, on the Castro regime. There were a lot of even Republicans who were in favor of selling grain and stuff like that.


KONDRACKE: That's over. And indeed, it may have been the purpose behind, behind what Castro did, he might, you know, he might be afraid of those lifting of the sanctions.

BARNES: Right.

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