Ups and Downs for the Week of September 22-26

This is a partial transcript from The Beltway Boys, September 27, 2003, that has been edited for clarity.

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MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: OK, let's go to the ups and downs.

UP: Democratic Presidential Candidate Howard Dean

KONDRACKE: Despite Wesley Clark's entry into the race, Dean remains the man to beat for the Democratic nomination. The money keeps pouring in, and despite the many shots taken at him in the past couple of weeks, he's still standing and hasn't lost his cool, yet.


FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: Why does everybody think he's going to lose his cool?

KONDRACKE: Because he has a hot head, you know...

BARNES: Right.

KONDRACKE: ... and he, and he could.

In any event, in this, in this first debate that he took, took part in, Clark only got asked once about his long record of saying nice things about various Republican presidents, including the, the incumbent, George Bush.

And he handled himself pretty well, and indeed, like many polls since Clark jumped into the race, he is actually leading in our FOX News poll with Dean right, right behind him. There you can see, 20 to 13.

Frankly, I think that Clark is a flash in the pan...

And that Dean, look, Dean has the momentum, he's got, he's going to raise far more money in, in this latest quarter than any of the other candidates, just as he did in the last one.


KONDRACKE: His campaign is not a campaign, it's a movement...


KONDRACKE: ... and he's leading Gephardt in Iowa and Kerry in Massachusetts, which are strategic positions. So...


You're right about that. Look, there was a moment in the debate when Howard Dean was responding to a charge from Richard Gephardt that I want you to listen to, Mort. Watch this.


HOWARD DEAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: To insinuate that I would get rid of Medicare is wrong. It's not helpful. And we need to remember that the enemy here is George Bush, not each other.


BARNES: What I want to point out, one word in that, "enemy."


BARNES: Now, what…George Bush, the enemy? I mean, I don't think George Bush thinks that Howard Dean is the enemy.

He thinks he's a political opponent. He's someone who disagrees with him, as all the Democrats do.

But the enemy, I think that tells you something about the Democrats, and it tells you something that's bad about the Democrats, that they're becoming unwound and not realizing who the real enemy is.

It's the Ba'athist diehards, for instance, in Iraq. Those are the enemy. It's not George Bush.


UP: Hillary Clinton

BARNES: I had a chance to hear and question Senator Clinton at a breakfast meeting with print reporters this week, and it's clear to me, and you'll be surprised to hear this, why she's considered the Democratic Party's top messenger, strategist, and fund raiser.

Mort, the times I've had anything nice to say about Hillary Clinton are few and far between, but I tell you, at this breakfast, she handled the press as if they were a bunch of little boys and girls. There were about 50 people in the press there. She was in total command.

She just brushed aside these questions about whether she's going to run or not and said, I stand by my statements that I'm not going to run. On domestic issues she, you know, was the convention, she had the conventional liberal positions, which I find ridiculous, but anyway.

But it was when she got to the subject of national security that she was smart and intelligent and clever and knew a lot. On, on weapons of mass destruction, she said, in a long soliloquy, why it was right to…right to think that Iraq did have weapons of mass destruction, as President Bush said.

And then I asked her a question about the doctrine of preemption, and she gave a very sophisticated answer why in some cases we do have to attack people who may be ready to attack us.


BARNES: She was very impressive.

KONDRACKE: Well, it's, it's too bad that other Democrats don't listen to her. I mean, she, you know, when she, when she becomes president, you know, maybe we'll have a strong foreign policy. When, I say.

BARNES: Yes, that's the fantasy.

KONDRACKE: Now, look, Teddy Kennedy, for instance, is an example of what you were talking about before, is, what Charles Krauthammer called in a wonderful column almost pathological hatred...

BARNES: Right.

KONDRACKE: On the part of Democrats for President Bush. He said outrage, perfectly outrageously, that the war in Iraq was hatched in Texas for the purpose of benefiting Republican political candidates. If he actually believes that, then he should file articles of impeachment against...

BARNES: Right.

KONDRACKE: ... against President Bush.


KONDRACKE: He's backed off on that a little.


KONDRACKE: Watch, watch his statement.


SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: There's no question that the White House see political advantage in the war. You can see in Karl Rove's speeches to Republican strategists. And just this morning, The New York Times reports that the White House goal is to show substantial improvement in Iraq before next fall's reelection campaign.


KONDRACKE: Well I hope, I hope we do get progress before next, next fall's...

BARNES: Yes, yes.

KONDRACKE: ... campaign, and Teddy Kennedy should hope that too.

BARNES: Right.

DOWN: French President Jacques Chirac

KONDRACKE: He shows some flexibility on Iraq reconstruction, but not without a slap at President Bush and the U.S.

Here's Chirac at the U.N. this week, implying that the most pressing international issue is to keep…American unilateralism in check, barely even mentioning terrorism. Watch.


JACQUES CHIRAC, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE (through translator): The United Nations has just weathered one of its most serious trials in its history. Respect for the charter, the use of force were at the heart of the debate. The war which was started without the authorization of the Security Council has shaken the multilateral system.


KONDRACKE: Well, you know, the multilateral system is France's way of thwarting the United States...


KONDRACKE: ... which Tom Friedman of The New York Times...quite rightly declared France is aren't…now our enemy.

BARNES: Another thing happened at the U.N., and that was rapprochement in a very strong way between President Bush and Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder of Germany, who has split from the French and is not going along and has offered to, to train Iraqis in Iraq.

DOWN: Actor Martin Sheen

BARNES: A charter member of The Beltway Boys 'Shut Up and Go Away Caucus', Sheen heaps praise on Canada for not joining the Iraq war and offered a new anti-American rant in a recent speech.

"Every time I cross the border, I feel like I've left the land of lunatics. You are not armed and dangerous. You do not shoot each other. I always feel a bit more human when I come here."

You know, Sheen may think he's being smart in saying this, but this is the, the left-wing anti-Americanism of the most brainless type.

KONDRACKE: I have a great plot twist for The West Wing. You know, President Josiah Bartlet has stepped aside. I suggest that he now become prime minister of Canada and stay in Canada, you know...

Unfortunately, that would leave the big fat Republican, John Goodman in charge.

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