Ups and Downs for the Week of June 16-20

This is a partial transcript from The Beltway Boys, June 21, 2003, that has been edited for clarity. Click here to order the complete transcript.

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FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: All right. He could. I'll move on.

DOWN: Democratic presidential hopeful John Kerry

BARNES: He's joining the chorus of critics questioning prewar intelligence on Iraqi WMD (search), but like his other attacks on the Iraq war, he's carefully couching his criticisms. Here's what he said in New Hampshire this week.

Quote, "He," that's Bush, "He misled every one of us. I will not let him off the hook throughout this campaign with respect to America's credibility and credibility to me, because if he lied, he lied to me personally."

MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Well, John Kerry (search) wants it every way he can possibly get it. He -- in October he voted for -- to authorize the Gulf war.


KONDRACKE: Then he spent months saying -- arguing against it, saying that, you know, we shouldn't, we shouldn't rush into war. Then when we had actually won the war, here's what he said in May.


SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe that before you go to war, it ought to really be the last resort. You should exhaust your diplomatic remedies. But I was in favor of disarming Saddam Hussein, and I'm glad we did. There's no ambivalence.


KONDRACKE: And now that Bush's credibility is coming under question, Kerry is, is joining in that. But he is not saying that the president lied, he is saying that if he lied, he lied to me.

BARNES: Yes. Yes.

KONDRACKE: He's not using the L-word yet, he's...

BARNES: Look...

KONDRACKE: ... he's having it both ways.

BARNES: ... look, Mort, the fact is that Kerry said before the war about Saddam and Iraqi weapons of mass destruction the same thing that the president did. No difference whatsoever. And he'd been saying that for a decade or more.

Here's what he said in 1998, or else he -- at, at least he backed a resolution that said the U.S. should take all necessary and appropriate actions to respond to the threat...posed by Iraqis, Iraq's refusal to end its weapons of mass destruction programs.

That's John Kerry in 1998. You know, you've described him as Clintonian. I don't think he's that clever.

UP: Iraq's civil administrator Paul Bremer

KONDRACKE: Just six weeks on the job, Bremer (search) is getting high marks for his focus, thick skin, and tough decision-making skills. Law and order are slowly but surely being reestablished in Iraq, and basic services are being returned.

Here's Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld this week crowing about the progress that's been made on that front.


DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: The north and south electric service is better than it's been in 12 years, Basra has power 24 hours a day, I'm told. Baghdad is now average something like 18, 19, or 20 hours a day. Gas lines for cars that marked the first weeks of after liberation are disappearing, and production and importation of gasoline continues at approximately 14 million liters a day.


BARNES: Actually, I think Rumsfeld is a lagging indicator. I think it's even better than that since he said that...just a couple days ago. Bremer is exactly the right guy.

He's smart and he's tough, and he's -- and, and, and he's taking the decisions that are needed not only to create law and order in Baghdad and elsewhere around the country, but importantly, he's had the guts to tell the Iraqis demanding a governing council immediately to run the country and to have elections that you're not ready for that yet, and you may not be ready for months.

It's hard to say that, but he's doing it.

KONDRACKE: Well, Bremer does...

BARNES: It's true, of course, that they're not ready.

KONDRACKE: ... Bremer is unquestionably the right guy for this job...


KONDRACKE: ... and he's -- and, and -- But what needs to happen there is, one, we got to find weapons of mass destruction.


KONDRACKE: Two, we've got to find and/or kill Saddam Hussein. Three, we've got to...stop the guerrilla attacks on, on, on the, on Americans. We're getting, we're losing about one soldier a day, and also these Baathists are destroying infrastructure. That's got to stop.

BARNES: Right, right.

KONDRACKE: And the final thing is that somehow he's got to get the Shiites in, in Iraq, who are a majority, pulled away...


KONDRACKE: ... from the Iranians.

BARNES: Right.

KONDRACKE: Now, that is a very tall know, I, I...


KONDRACKE: ... trust that Bremer's up to it.

BARNES: Yes, I think the other three are a lot easier than number four, that's the tough one, the Iranians. OK.

DOWN: Catholic Church

BARNES: Two high-profile resignations this week further tarnish the church's image. First, a Phoenix bishop is forced to quit after being arrested for a fatal hit-and-run incident. He'd admitting to shielding sexually abusive priests just two weeks earlier.

And the church's own child abuse watchdog, former Oklahoma governor Frank Keating, stepped down from his post after comparing the secretive ways of some bishops to the Mafia.

KONDRACKE: Look, the pope finally got rid of Thomas O'Brien, the, the, the Phoenix bishop.

BARNES: Right.

KONDRACKE: He didn't do it after -- it was developed that O'Brien had...

BARNES: Right.

KONDRACKE: ... had protected pedophiles, thereby...


KONDRACKE: ... ruining people's lives. It took his actually killing somebody to do it.


KONDRACKE: This is a church with a deeply weak moral core, I'm afraid.

BARNES: Yes, no, I think the problems with the Catholic Church are political and PR, and they are real problems.

UP: Gay rights advocates in Canada

KONDRACKE: An Ontario appeals court paves the way for same-sex couples to marry legally in that country. Final approval could come in a matter of months.

BARNES: You know, that is a huge victory in Canada for the entire gay rights movement. And now, the next step, of course, will be to try to -- for them to validate in the U.S. same-sex marriages that were conducted in Canada. And, you know, there'll be court cases. And frankly, I don't know how they'll turn out. I can see some liberal judges saying, Boom, OK, you're married in the U.S. as well.

KONDRACKE: Well, there'll, I think there'll be many court cases. I can imagine that some state legislatures, New York, maybe California, will legalize same-sex marriages. And then you'll have ultimately Supreme Court case deciding what has precedence...


KONDRACKE: ... these lower court decisions or the federal Protection of Marriage Act, which President Clinton signed, that allows only for, for heterosexual marriage.

BARNES: Right.

KONDRACKE: So, you know, I don't know what the, what the states' rights say on the Supreme Court, or for, for that matter, the liberals will do. Does federal law have precedence, or do state, do states have the right to decide what marriage law is?

BARNES: Yes, depends...

KONDRACKE: Very interesting.

BARNES: Yes, depends on the court. OK.

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