Hot Stories for the Week of June 2-6

This is a partial transcript from The Beltway Boys, June 7, 2003, that has been edited for clarity. Click here to order the complete transcript.

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FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: Mort, the hot story is, Hillary's history, or I might call it Hillary's hysteria, or the hysteria about Hillary. But in any case, just a few excerpts from Living History, the new book by Hillary Rodham Clinton that comes out next week, have created a Hillary frenzy again.

Now, the thing you have to remember about her is, she is, I think, a formidable political figure, and one who is easily the most popular Democrat among other Democrats, you know, if she were on the presidential poll, she'd be number one.

Republicans tend to underestimate her as a, as a strong political figure. They did in New York, and of course she ran that great campaign and won by a dozen points.

But she...


BARNES: Stealing that from you.


BARNES: But she has I, what I call a Chappaquiddick problem. Now, you know, there are lots of -- she sort of skates over many of these ethical and moral questions about -- particularly in her relationship with Bill Clinton, her husband, in the book. And the press is willing to move on now.

But when she is, and I say when not if, when she is a presidential candidate in 2008, the press will apply incredibly intense new scrutiny.  They will not accept these very questionable explanations like the one where she says, you know, she just heard at the last minute that Bill had been unfaithful with Monica.

Remember what happened to Teddy Kennedy when he ran for president in 1980. Before that, the public said, Oh, we don't care about Chappaquiddick much. After the questions came up again, and he was running for president, Chappaquiddick doomed his campaign. The same thing could happen to her with the questions left over from the Clinton White House.

KONDRACKE: I want to show you a poll that was in USA Today, a Gallup, a Gallup poll. And I -- you know, I've always contended with you that I have my pulse on, on the, on the heartbeat of America...


KONDRACKE: ... well, this is exactly the way I feel about Hillary.


KONDRACKE: These are the, the people who, who strongly feel that she has these various characteristics. I think she's intelligent...


KONDRACKE: ... I think she's power-hungry, I think she's tough, not particularly honest, cold, you know. I think it's perfect...

BARNES: Yes, when you have...

KONDRACKE: ... that Sharon, that Sharon Stone is going to play her in the, in the, in the, the docudrama. Now...

BARNES: Now, wouldn't you have the power-hungry a little higher?

KONDRACKE: Yes, maybe. Surely she knew before August 15, 1998, that about Bill and Monica.


KONDRACKE: Be -- for one thing, the day before that, The New York Times had a front-page story saying that Bill was going to change his story, right?

BARNES: Yes, yes.

KONDRACKE: So, so if, if she's not telling the truth about that, that means that everything she -- that she said beforehand and now in the book is not believable.

BARNES: Right.

KONDRACKE: So as you say, this all gets a lot of intense scrutiny 2008.


KONDRACKE: Now, the other hot story is, where's that WMD? It's been six weeks since the end of the Gulf War. The weapons of mass destruction that the president said was an imminent threat to the national security of the United States has not been found.

Here's what Bush says, and here's what Tony Blair is saying about it too.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're on a look.  We'll reveal the truth. But one thing is certain, no terrorist network will gain weapons of mass destruction from the Iraqi regime, because the Iraqi regime is no more.

TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: The idea that we doctored such intelligence is completely and totally false. Every single piece of intelligence that we presented was cleared, very properly, by the Joint Intelligence Committee.


KONDRACKE: This is a much bigger problem for Blair...

BARNES: Right.

KONDRACKE: ... than it is, than it is for Bush, because the, the, the lefties...


KONDRACKE: ... and also the conservatives, even, in, in, in England are really, really using it against him. But what I fear is that contrary to what Bush said, that Saddam Hussein may have given these weapons of mass destruction to Syria, and they may already be in the hands of terrorist forces, which would be terribly dangerous to civilization.

BARNES: You mean, like all these buckets of anthrax and so on?

KONDRACKE: Yes, (UNINTELLIGIBLE), it doesn't take much...


KONDRACKE: ... you know, in the hands of Hezbollah...


KONDRACKE: ... to wreak a lot of damage.

BARNES: Look, this is not a political problem for Bush now. Just check out this Fox News poll, and, and you'll understand. It shows that 41 percent think prewar intelligence on WMD was intentionally misleading.  Actually, that's kind of high.

KONDRACKE: Yes, it is.

BARNES: But a whopping 69 percent think the war in Iraq was still justified. So it's not a problem for him now.

I think there's something behind, in the minds of some Senate Democrats, in the probe that they're going to have, behind it is a hope, a prayer that they're going to discover some memo, some e-mail, some report on a private White House meeting that shows that the president intentionally misled the public about what this intelligence was saying.


KONDRACKE: The smoking gun.

BARNES: ... that smoking gun. And Democrats want this because, because they believe it would strike at the real strike that the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Bush has politically, that's his reputation for honesty, truthfulness, and integrity. If they come up with something, they might indeed dent his reputation and have a better chance to defeat him next year.

KONDRACKE: Better hope they don't find it.


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