Ups and Downs for the Week of May 26-30

This is a partial transcript from The Beltway Boys, May 31, 2003, that has been edited for clarity. Click here to order the complete transcript.

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FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: Anyway, let's look at the Ups and Downs.

DOWN: French President Jacques Chirac

BARNES: His opportunities to kiss up to President Bush are vastly diminished now that Bush is cutting short his -- the G-8 summit (search) to head to Egypt.

BILL SAMMON, GUEST CO-HOST: Bush says that he's not mad at Chirac (search), just disappointed. That sounds like a patient parent expressing disappointment with a misbehaving child.

I think Bush will be careful not to publicly rebuke the French president when he visits with him, but I think privately there may be some bad blood. You see, you got to remember that the feud between France and the United States works to Bush's benefit politically here in the United States.

But if he overplays his hand and appears to be gloating or appears to be sort of ill-mannered on French soil while he's a guest there, then he will have overplayed that, and it'll, it'll, it'll work against him.

KONDRACKE: Yes, he, he won't do that. But, but it strikes me that this is a pro forma, mandatory, ceremonial visit, because Chirac is the, the host of the, of the G-8 summit. I mean, if it were up to Bush, I'm sure that he would be doing to Chirac exactly what he is doing to Gerhard Schroeder of Germany and Jean Chretien (search) of Canada, that is, dissing them.

And they deserve it.

SAMMON: Absolutely.

UP: The economy

SAMMON: The growth's been anything but robust, yet the recent tax cut and better-than-expected numbers on GDP and new home sales keep economists and especially the White House hopeful about a recovery.

KONDRACKE: Well, the, the official first quarter this year growth rate is 1.9 percent, which is better than it was expected to be, but it's still pretty anemic. The, the magic number is 3.4 percent growth. That's what you need in order to create jobs. And so far, on Bush's watch we've lost 2.3 million jobs, and Bush has got to start showing a recovery.

The good news is that the stock market's up, consumer spending seems to be OK, there's -- the oil prices are down, the dollar is weak, that, that helps trade. So -- but all of these factors have got to start producing growth by, by the middle of next year, just about a year from now, heading into the, the 2004 election, or Bush is in some trouble.

SAMMON: Yes, but you said Bush has to start showing a recovery. We are now in six consecutive quarters of growth domestic -- gross domestic product growth. That is, by any definition, a recovery. It's not as strong a recovery as you'd like to see, but it is a recovery. So we have to be careful with our terms here.

The recession started at the beginning of 2001 -- by the way, when Bill Clinton was still in office -- and we are still recovering from that.

Now, the tax cut that the president just signed this week will probably accelerate this anemic growth in time to give him a needed boost before next year's election.

So he probably won't suffer the same fate that his father did, who was never seen as having done anything about the economy, which was also wrong, because the economy had been growing for a year and a half at that election too.

KONDRACKE: And this Bush will sell whatever the, the reality is better than his father did.

DOWN: Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards

KONDRACKE: Consistently stuck at single digits against the Democratic field in national polls, Edwards got some bad news on the home front, a bad -- a new, new -- brand new, sorry, Raleigh News and Observer poll shows that Edwards's unfavorables rose 6 points since March, and, by a two to one margin, North Carolinians say that they would vote for someone else in the 2004 Senate rate.

SAMMON: You know, he -- it's been a very rocky stretch for Senator Edwards, but I wouldn't count him out yet. It's very early. He could still turn this thing around.

And, you know, you got to remember that the -- President Bush has secretly -- secretly fears running against him and would prefer to run against John Kerry, who can be portrayed as a liberal...Massachusetts Democrat.

Edwards is Clinton without the scandals, so keep your eye on him. Anything can happen.

KONDRACKE: Well, anything can happen, but better start happening soon. I mean, Edwards has got to show some traction someplace besides being able to raise oodles of money among his fellow trial lawyers. And we'll -- you know, so he's got to make up his mind pretty soon too whether he's going to run for North Carolina senator or, or president.

UP: Legendary entertainer Bob Hope

SAMMON: The nation and its service men and women celebrated Hope's 100th birthday this week. Hope remains to this day the only civilian named an honorary veteran of the U.S. armed forces for his work with the USO throughout the years.

KONDRACKE: No one can say too much good about Bob Hope, as far as I'm concerned. He's funny, he's generous, he's patriotic, he's, he's, he's a great national treasure.

SAMMON: I've always had a fondness for Bob Hope, and not just because he and I were both raised in Cleveland, where the magnificent Hope Memorial Bridge spans the mighty Cuyahoga River. The reason I like him is because, in addition to being a great entertainer, he's been a bona fide patriot.

And this week, President Bush signed an executive order establishing something called the Bob Hope American Patriot Award, which will be given out only once a year to one individual who shows extraordinary patriotism or love of the armed forces. Hear, hear.

KONDRACKE: He deserves it.

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