Ups and Downs for the Week of December 1 - 5

This is a partial transcript from The Beltway Boys, November 6, 2003, that has been edited for clarity.

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DOWN: President Bush

MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Facing the threat of a global trade war, Bush is forced to lift the tariffs on steel that he imposed some 20 months ago. Here's Bush Thursday on why.


PRESIDENT BUSH: I listened to an International Trade Commission (search) report about the effects that the steel imports were having upon our important industry. I acted. I acted to give the steel industry time to adjust. I acted in time for us to say to the world that we will trade but we want to trade in a fair way.


FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: That wasn't exactly the way it happened. You know, what happened was, he imposed the tariffs, and I think largely for political reasons, and then it was challenged in the World Trade Organization (search), of which the U.S. is a member, and they said that's illegal, you can't do that under the trade rules, global rules that you've agreed to. And the Europeans were threatening a trade war.

So he had to back down. It wasn't because the International Trade Commission, which is a U.S. agency, came in and said it's OK to lift them now. I mean, that's what he is pretending now.

I think tariffs on steel imports was a bad idea from the beginning. It, it certainly hurt the U.S.'s reputation as a crusader for free trade around the world. It hurt consumers, it hurt steel- producing manufacturing companies...

KONDRACKE: Steel using.

BARNES: And -- yes, yes, yes, steel-using ones. It didn't create jobs, it cost jobs. And I think the president got no political gain out of it at all, maybe some political loss.

KONDRACKE: Well, the Democrats' reaction to this was perfectly laughable. Here they're all multilateralists ... and they want us to diss the World Trade Organization, and international organization. And, they're so eager to cozy up to our allies, but they wanted a trade war with our allies. I mean ... that just does not compute.

BARNES: It doesn't, but it's normal for these Democrats.

KONDRACKE: Hypocrisy.

BARNES: All right.

UP: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg

After weeks of lobbying Bloomberg gets House majority leader Tom DeLay (search) to back down on DeLay's plan to use a luxury cruise liner to house GOP bigwigs during next summer's Republican convention.

The move would have cost New York's hotel and restaurant industry an estimated $3 million. A pity that poor industry, Mort.

KONDRACKE: Well, you know, it's important industry in New York.


KONDRACKE: Look, it is very unusual ... that anybody gets the better of your friend Tom DeLay.

BARNES: Well, that's true.

KONDRACKE: Who, and my guess is that he will figure out some other devilishly clever way of raising money, you know, lobbying lobbyists and otherwise cozying up to contributors in the convention in New York.

BARNES: You know, that's about the kindest thing you've ever said about Tom DeLay. But I'm sure he will, he'll be happy to hear it.

Look, this was a ridiculous protest by Michael Bloomberg. You know, look, if he wants to raise more tax revenues in New York the way to do it is not raise taxes and drive out businesses as he's been doing, but to cut taxes and, as Rudy Giuliani did when he was mayor, bring in more businesses, get more revenues. It was much better doing it that way and not worrying about some boat.

And besides, unions were complaining about this, saying they might withdraw their no-strike pledge during the Republican convention. Jeez.

DOWN: The Republican Party

KONDRACKE: In a ruling that could have national implications, Colorado Supreme Court this week rejected a Republican redistricting plan, ordering next year's elections to be held under 2002 boundaries.

BARNES: You know, this was based on Colorado law, but the situation was the same as in Texas, where Republicans, by redistricting just a few months ago, hoped to pick up five or six seats, you know, net five or six seats in the House in 2004.

And the issue is this, in both states the legislatures couldn't get together initially on new boundaries for 2002, so the federal court stepped in and drew the boundaries.

Now the Republican-control legislatures came back in 2003 and redistricted the state, obviously to their advantage. Challenged in Colorado, the court said, no, only one redistricting a decade, whether it's the court or the legislature. That's the same issue in Texas.

And if, if upheld, and I think ultimately by the Supreme Court, Republicans will suffer. They won't win as many seats. They're not going to lose the House as a result, but they won't gain the seats they hoped there.

KONDRACKE: Yes, there's a really interesting case coming up for oral argument next week before, before the Supreme Court on a Pennsylvania gerrymandering case, which I have a feeling that the court will dismiss as a political issue to be decided by legislatures.

But, you know, the next great cause of the campaign reform movement, forget about campaign finance reform, ought to be the tendency of both parties to gerrymander districts so that they're entirely safe seats...

BARNES: Yes, I know.

KONDRACKE: ... all across the country ... Only about 35 contested seats. That's not what representative democracy's supposed to be all about.

BARNES: Yes, no, it's about political competition. That's part of it. I'm with you on that. OK.

DOWN: Actor Richard Dreyfuss

He served as master of ceremonies for the signing of a sham Middle East (search) peace treaty in Geneva, Switzerland, this week. Neither the Palestinian Authority nor the Israeli government approved the treaty, and the White House doesn't seem to be on board either. Here's Bush Thursday.


BUSH: We appreciate people discussing peace. Just want to make sure people understand that the principles to peace are clear.


KONDRACKE: The first principle that Bush went on to enunciate ... is that the Palestinians have got to stop the violence, which they have not done.


KONDRACKE: Now, I used to think that I wanted Richard Dreyfuss to be the actor who played me. I think he's, he looks a little old for that. But ... no more. I mean, this peace treaty that he has signed onto and was the host for ... is utterly devastating toward Israel. I mean, all it requires from the Palestinians is a promise to allow Israel to live in peace...

BARNES: Yes, right.

KONDRACKE: ... in return for which, Israel would have to go back to the '67 borders and give back half of Jerusalem. If that were the situation now, Israel would be in mortal danger. Dreyfuss, in this case, is just naive. I think Jimmy Carter (search), who was also behind this thing, is anti-Israel.

BARNES: Yes, he is. Now, who is it now, George Clooney you want to play you? Brad Pitt? Which one is it? I ... should I go down the list for it? I mean, Dreyfuss is out, he's going to be hurt when he hears this. All right.

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