Ups and Downs for the Week of January 19 - 23

This is a partial transcript from The Beltway Boys, January 24, 2003, that has been edited for clarity.

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MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Let's go to this week's ups and downs.

UP: President Bush

At least temporarily, he grabs the spotlight away from the Democratic candidates, enjoying one of the powerful trappings of office, the State of the Union speech.

FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: You know, it was a lackluster speech, but I think it had two strong moments. One was when he listed all those countries that are backing the U.S. in Iraq, and it was a very long list, a multilateral group.

And the second one was when he made the point, and a correct one, that the proper response to terrorism is a war, it's not enhanced law enforcement, which actually some of your buddies in the Democratic Party...

KONDRACKE: You have trouble ... with that word, I know.

BARNES: Oh, sometimes. Anyway, there were people who were not impressed with the speech. Watch this. In the audience, during the State of the Union speech, you'll see that there were some people who were less than enthusiastic.

KONDRACKE: You know ...

BARNES: Well, it actually -- it was -- if you haven't seen the tape yet, it was Senator Teddy Kennedy (search) and Hillary Clinton (search), who were, you know, Teddy was kind of this, and Hillary looked sour.

I think maybe Hillary was worried about 2008 when she wants to run and sees John Edwards (search) moving up and establishing herself as a possible opponent.

KONDRACKE: Yes, you know, and political pros know that the camera's panning ... and so that ... that was done ... for effect ...

BARNES: Yes, good point.



Down: Gay Marriage

Ohio is set to implement one of the nation's most sweeping measures against gay marriage. The law will bar unmarried couples who are state employees, either gay or straight, from receiving domestic partnership benefits. The move comes one day after President Bush spoke out on the issue in his State of the Union address (search). Watch.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: On a issue of such great consequence, the people's voice must be heard. If judges insist on forcing their arbitrary will upon the people, the only alternative left to the people would be the constitutional process. And our nation must defend the sanctity of marriage.


KONDRACKE: Well, listen, I think that that was a very disappointing speech on a lot of grounds, Bush's speech, and one of them, which I didn't get to mention before was, look...

BARNES: Go ahead.

KONDRACKE: ... he, he sounded in that speech as though he's only got Howard -- he was going to have, he was going to have Howard Dean as his opponent. He didn't, reach out at all to, in any new way, to moderates and swing voters, and he let the Democrats have the health care issue, the issue of the uninsured, which is, they're going to make their major issue.

Now, on this gay rights business, you know, Bush didn't say that he was going to go for a constitutional amendment...


KONDRACKE: ... unless it's necessary. But all over the country, states are not only passing defense of marriage acts, but also constitutional amendments to ban gay marriage. And, you know, not one of them has passed a civil unions bill, which would give committed gay, long committing gay couples that are willing to, to commit their lives to one another ... the basic rights like hospital visits and ... and adoption rights and stuff like that.

I, you know, I wish one of them would, and I wish that Bush ... would come out specifically in favor of gay ... civil unions.

BARNES: ... well, I don't think he's going to, because I don't think he's in...

KONDRACKE: I don't think he is either.

BARNES: ... I don't think he's in favor of them, that's the reason he's not.

Look, the way to approach the issue is the way Democratic chairman Terry McAuliffe (search) did, saying that anyone who opposes gay marriage, like Bush, is a bigot. That just alienates people. That won't work.

UP: New England Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady

KONDRACKE: The Super Bowl-bound quarterback is a hot political commodity these days. He was the honored guest at the State of the Union address this week. And now the Kerry campaign is trying to finagle a photo-op with him.

BARNES: Well, this was the first round of the Bush-Kerry fight, and getting Tom Brady's support, or friendship, or at least proximity, and Bush won this one.

Now, if the New England Patriots (search), Brady's team, actually win the Super Bowl next week, Brady will soon be at the White House, I'm sure, putting a Patriots jersey on President Bush. Round two will go to ... Bush too, in that case.

KONDRACKE: ... I'm simply sort of surprised that John Edwards has not made more out of the Carolina Panthers ...


KONDRACKE: ... you know, in all this. And ... but now Brady was on the verge of endorsing Kerry at one point ...

BARNES: Yes, yes, yes, but Bush ... All right, all right...

KONDRACKE: ... he's not a political heavyweight.

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