Ups and Downs for the Week of October 27-31

This is a partial transcript from The Beltway Boys, November 1, 2003, that has been edited for clarity.

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UP: Governor-elect Arnold

FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: That's Arnold Schwarzenegger (search), of course. But he just goes by Arnold these days, it seems. It was a bipartisan love fest on Capitol Hill this week, with lawmakers of all stripes trying to get their mug with the governor-elect...a lot of reporters, too.

Question is, will his star power help him get more money for his cash-strapped state? Yes, probably. But the amazing thing was to see Arnold sweep through Washington like royalty. It reminded me, the last person who did this was Princess Diana (search). Remember when she came? I made a point of going to see her.

His meeting with Senator Dianne Feinstein (search) of California was just amazing. Remember, she had denounced him during the recall campaign, said these charges of sexual harassment were appalling, he was a guy of no character, he shouldn't be governor of California. He meets her one on one up in the Senate for about 30 minutes, and she comes out saying, What an engaging guy he turns out to be.

MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: So what happened when you met him one on one?

BARNES: Well, I didn't.

KONDRACKE: You didn't?

BARNES: You know, I...

KONDRACKE: Oh, I thought were going to go see him.

BARNES: Well, I went, I did see him at that big party. But there were so many people there, I met his wife but not him.

KONDRACKE: Well, well, Arnold swept into town just as his state was going up in, in wildfires, and he came here, and just at the time that President Bush released money that would have been released to California in relief anyway. But he got the, created the impression that he'd done something...about it. Now, what his real mission was to get more money, extra money, for California. That I doubt he's going to be able to do.

DOWN: Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark

KONDRACKE: With his poll numbers stuck in single digits in both Iowa and New Hampshire, Clark ratchets up the rhetoric, saying that President Bush himself was responsible for 9/11, an assertion most strident Democrats even haven't expressed. Here's Clark's salvo on Wednesday.


GEN. WESLEY CLARK (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There's no way this administration can walk away from its responsibility for 9/11. You can't blame something like this on lower-level intelligence officers, however badly they communicated memos with each other.


KONDRACKE: I mean, Clark simply cannot back up that statement or innuendo with, with any evidence that President Bush knew that we were going to get attacked on 9/11...and that's certainly the implication of that remark.

Now, Clark also keeps saying that President Bush has no plan for Iraq. What I want to see is the Clark plan.

BARNES: Yes, yes.

KONDRACKE: After all, he was the NATO (search) supreme commander. He ought to have one.

BARNES: Look, Democrats say this stuff all the time. Back when Ronald Reagan (search) was president, they said he didn't have a foreign policy. He had one. They just didn't like it. It's the same with Bush and Iraq.

Now, is there no accountability, Mort, for all these things that Wes Clark said. He says he tried to volunteer to the White House in the war on terrorism, and nobody ever heard from him there. Now he says this stuff about Bush is some way for 9/11, which he never said before in all those months he was praising the Bush administration for how it had handled the whole thing.

Now, as a presidential candidate, he flips. I mean, this, I think, tells you something about his -- intellectual honesty and integrity. And I don't know why the press, I mean, this is a big issue, why don't they jump on that? Have you got an answer?


BARNES: All right.

DOWN: Sen. Chuck Grassley and Rep. Bill Thomas

BARNES: Two of President Bush's showcase agenda items, an overhaul of both Medicare and energy legislation, are moving at a snail's pace on Capitol Hill, partly because of partisan politics, but also because of personal animus between Thomas and Grassley, and their staffs.

Here's Grassley on his working relationship with Thomas.


SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY (R-IA), CHAIRMAN, FINANCE COMMITTEE: I'm representing the Senate position. That's my job as the negotiator of the Senate. He's a very good person, very sincere about wanting to get a bill, but not very realistic about what you can get through the United States Senate.


KONDRACKE: The answer to this problem is, adult supervision.


KONDRACKE: That is to say, President Bush, Bill Frist and the Senate majority leader, Denny Hastert, the speaker, get together, take this legislation, tell the two parties what to produce, when to produce it, and get it over with.

BARNES: No, that's not the answer. The answer is for Grassley not to say, Gee, whatever Democrats want, that's...we can't -- they have to go along with that. He needs to get the Democrats to compromise some as House Republicans are going to have to compromise.

DOWN: HBO's "K Street"

KONDRACKE: After a splashy start, George Clooney (search) and Steven Soderbergh's (search) brainchild is sinking fast. Its ratings have sunk so far, even in Washington, that HBO is considering pulling the plug after 10 more episodes.

BARNES: And, and of course they should. I mean, the conceit of this show is that people who watch television who may like a show about the presidency, even a liberal one like West Wing, really want to see a show about the gripping drama of the lives of lobbyists. Uh-uh.

KONDRACKE: Well, actually, I kind of like the show. I mean, it does, it is a mix of reality and fiction and real, you know, people in fictional situations, and stuff like that. And, and I think James and Mary do a good job.

But it's not gripping. Watch "The Wire." That's a great HBO show.

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