Ups and Downs for the Week of May 5-9

This is a partial transcript from The Beltway Boys, May 10, 2003, that has been edited for clarity. Click here to order the complete transcript.

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FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: ... Ups and Downs time.

DOWN: West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd

BARNES: He's leading the Democratic charge that President Bush's top gun landing on the USS Lincoln (search) was gratuitous and irresponsible. But his...his criticism went over the top even for him.

Here's Byrd (search) on the Senate floor Tuesday, and President Bush's response.


SEN. ROBERT BYRD (D), WEST VIRGINIA: I do question the motives of a deskbound president who assumes the garb of a warrior for the purposes of a speech. To me, it is an affront to the Americans killed or injured in Iraq for the president to exploit the trappings of war for the momentary spectacle of a speech.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Not only was I able to thank our troops, I was able to speak to the country and talk about not only their courage but the courage of a lot of other men and women who wear our country's uniform. Glad I did it. It was also a really good landing.


BARNES: Now, Mort, who was being petty and who was being magnanimous? I mean, that, that's not a hard choice there. I mean, I chuckled when I, I saw Senator Byrd saying that. Ann Coulter had a very good column when she wrote about how Byrd has put his name on at least 16 federal projects, buildings and so on. He's a guy that likes to put his, his stamp on things, as Bush was doing on Iraq policy, in, in giving that speech and landing there on the USS Liberty. I -- Abraham Lincoln.

Now, I know you've been to the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope, right, you go there for weekends, or the Robert C. Byrd Lifelong Learning Center. Mort, you could needs -- you need some lifelong learning.

MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Well, this is, this is not only petty, it's, it, it, it looks resentful of the, the right of a commander in chief to go celebrate a military victory...

BARNES: Sure. Yes.

KONDRACKE: ... with the troops. And the troops were cheering him.

BARNES: Yes, they love him.

KONDRACKE: And the...the troops were not complaining that they, that they arrived late in, in, in, in San Diego....what, what the Democrats really are trying to is to force Bush not to use this, these top gun pictures in campaign ads...


KONDRACKE: ... in the 2004 election (search).


KONDRACKE: Guess what? He's going to use them. And, you know, he should. I mean...


KONDRACKE: ... it was a public event, and if the Democrats want to criticize it when it comes out, let them try.

BARNES: I know. You'll call me a Clinton-hater. But, you know, Bush has learned how to salute. Clinton never learned how to salute.

KONDRACKE: Well, Clinton knew, knew how to wear a flight jacket.

UP: Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla.

KONDRACKE: Calling himself an electable moderate, Graham formally announces for president this week. His main rationale for getting in the race, national security. He said that President Bush should have been paying more attention to protecting the homeland instead of exacting revenge against Saddam Hussein. Watch.


SEN. BOB GRAHAM (D), FLORIDA: Instead of pursuing the most imminent and real threat, international terrorists, this Bush administration chose to settle old scores.


KONDRACKE: Now, look.


KONDRACKE: ...settle old scores...


KONDRACKE: ...he explained later he meant that, that he was finishing the job that his father didn't finish...

BARNES: Yes, yes.

KONDRACKE: ... in 1991, and also exacting revenge for an attempt to kill his, his...


KONDRACKE: ... father by Saddam Hussein. That is nonsense.

BARNES: Of course it is.

KONDRACKE: Bush went to war for the reasons that Bush has said that he he's going to go to war.


KONDRACKE: ...a poll in a Mason-Dixon poll in Florida shows that Bush would whomp Graham in Florida by 15 points.


KONDRACKE: Now, I'm not sure that that's actually a forecast of what could happen. I mean, Graham is very popular in Florida. And my guess is that he will end up on the ticket this time, because Florida's key.

BARNES: Yes. Yes, you know, there are only three serious presidential candidates, I think, on the Democratic side, really serious, Lieberman, Gephardt, and Bob Kerrey. Graham's not one of them, and he...

KONDRACKE: John Kerry.

BARNES: ... and his -- John Kerry. What did I say, Bob?

KONDRACKE: Yes, yes.

BARNES: Bob Kerrey's in New York running The New School, of course. John Kerry...


BARNES: ... of Massachusetts. So Graham's not one of them. His only value is as a veep, but that poll is indicative. I don't think he's going to help whoever the Democratic candidate is much in Florida, though...Florida's a crucial state. OK.

UP: Iraqi National Congress leader Ahmad Chalabi

BARNES: The U.S. names five of the nine Iraqis it expects to form a provisional government next month. At the top of the list, at least in the Pentagon's eyes, none other than Mr. Chalabi.

KONDRACKE: Well, you know, Chalabi is, to put it mildly, a deeply controversial figure.


KONDRACKE: The, the State Department's got no use for him, the CIA's got no use for him. He's the, the Pentagon's guy. And what's more important, in Iraq he's resented by a lot of the people who were tortured and, and, you know, punished by...

BARNES: Yes, I know, I know.

KONDRACKE: ... Saddam Hussein, so...

BARNES: He, he's an exile...he was an exile.

KONDRACKE: ... yes, OK, OK, but, you know...

BARNES: He left as a teenager. Wasn't his fault.


BARNES: His parents took him.

KONDRACKE: OK. But his -- he -- at least now he's going to get a chance...


KONDRACKE: ... to build a political...


KONDRACKE: ... constituency, because he's been put on this...


KONDRACKE: ... five of nine...

BARNES: Right.

KONDRACKE: ... and, and, but the United States cannot afford to install him...

BARNES: They're not going to.

KONDRACKE: ... and I'm, and they won't.

BARNES: They're...not going to do it. He's a fine man, a real Democrat, and will be a very good influence in Iraq.

DOWN: Former Washington Wizard Michael Jordan

KONDRACKE: Jordan gets unceremoniously dumped from Washington's ailing NBA team this week after failing both as a player and a general manager.

BARNES: You know, Mort, it's sad, and I -- you know I go to Wizards games...back when they were the Bullets, for, you know, 30 years now. And it's sad to see the world's greatest basketball player, Michael Jordan, and one of the world's greatest professional sports team have a, had to have a falling, a parting of the ways.

But, you know, the truth is about Jordan, he failed as a basketball player. He couldn't bring a winner to the Wizards as a player. He's too old. He couldn't bring a winner to the Wizards as the, as the general manager, the head of basketball operations, before he be -- came back as a player, and, you know, they needed to move on.

I'm sticking with Abe on this. I think he did the right thing.

KONDRACKE: Well, I, look, I, I, I see it Abe's way too. As to the, as to the future, I mean...Michael Jordan did pack the, pack the place...

BARNES: As a player, yes.

KONDRACKE: ... you know, as a player, every game, you know, so I don't -- I'm not sure that he was a failure as a player. But, but he...

BARNES: No, but he didn't bring a winner, though.

KONDRACKE: Yes, but...

BARNES: A winner.

KONDRACKE: ... but, but look, Abe had to -- for the future of the team, Abe, Abe had to leave him...

BARNES: All right.

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