Ups and Downs for the Week of March 29 - April 2

This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys", April 3, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

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MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: It's time for this week's ups and downs.

DOWN: President Bush

Hoping to stem criticism that the White House was hiding something, Bush finally decides to allow national security adviser Condi Rice (search) to testify publicly before the 9/11 commission.

Well, you know, I think it's disgraceful the way the Bush administration one, didn't want to have the 9/11 commission, and then stonewalled like crazy, and now I think they've done the right thing by finally letting Condi testify.

But, as you were pointing out, the polls do indicate that the discrediting of Richard Clarke has really worked. According to the latest Gallup poll, 54 percent think that the Bush administration didn't do all it could to prevent 9/11, which is obviously true. But contrary to what Richard Clarke has said, 62 percent don't think that the Clinton administration did all it could do to prevent 9/11 either.

And on one of Clarke's central points, when asked if the Bush administration should have been able to prevent the attacks, 67 percent say that they could not have been prevented.

FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: Yes, we have Bush down there, but up against Clarke, Bush is up and Clarke is down. Look, here's why I think Bush is down in this whole thing about the 9/11 commission. I don't think he should have allowed Condi Rice to go and testify in public in the first place. There was no reason for that. She has testified in private.

Tom Kean (search), the former Republican governor of New Jersey, who's the chairman of this God-awful commission, said all he wants her to do is replicate what she said in their private four-hour session, attended by only half of the commission members, by the way, they, and who's who now claim she's so important.

If she's only going to replicate it, what do they need to hear it for? They have no reason to hear it. If they're a serious fact-finding body that's going to come up with recommendations to avoid having another 9/11 any time in the future, they don't need to hear her again. It's only so they can preen, so they can grandstand, and so they can be on television. That's the only reason, Mort. Replicate, he only wants her to repeat what they've already heard her say.

KONDRACKE: Yes, but it's good, it's good that she's responding to Clarke. Clarke's been in public, she should be in public.

BARNES: ... they've already finished off Clarke.

DOWN: The 11-country Oil Cartel, OPEC

At the urging of our good friends the Saudis, OPEC decides to cut oil production by 4 percent, threatening to push -- gas prices here in the U.S. even higher.

KONDRACKE: Well, John Kerry is trying to make a political hay out of the gas price increase, and here's ... here's an ad that the Bush campaign is answering back with. Watch.


ANNOUNCER: Some people have wacky ideas, like taxing gasoline more so people drive less. That's John Kerry. He supported a 50-cent-a-gallon gas tax. If Kerry's gas tax increase were law, the average family would pay $657 more a year.

Raising taxes is a habit of Kerry's. He supported higher gasoline taxes 11 times.


KONDRACKE: Ah, you know ... that's a pretty good ad, but it's a flat lie.

BARNES: No, it's not.

KONDRACKE: I mean...

BARNES: ... supported, E-D, he supported...

KONDRACKE: Yes, I know, OK...

BARNES: ... of course he supported, he did.

KONDRACKE: ... yes, yes, but...

BARNES: You know he did.

KONDRACKE: ... wait a minute...

BARNES: It's a fact he did.

KONDRACKE: ... in 1994, that was 10 years ago... he supported it.


KONDRACKE: He doesn't support it now. But it implies...

BARNES: No, he's not proposing it now. You know ... he wants it, just like you do.

KONDRACKE: I, I, I do want it. I mean ... I think it would be ... good to reduce consumption, and, you would rebate the money to the poor so that it was a progressive tax. And you could use the money left ... to lower the deficit ... and also finance energy ... research.

BARNES: Yes, I know, you're like a liberal who thinks that they have better ideas for people's money than the people do, so you want their money. Look...

KONDRACKE: We already ...

BARNES: ... look, here's what I'd like to see. I'd like to see Iraq, which I think now produces something like 2.6 million barrels of oil a day already, a year after Saddam's gone, to really build up their oil production, produce, Paul Bremer (search) thinks they could produce as many as 6 million barrels a day, get out of OPEC, and sell this oil.

One, it would break up OPEC, two, it would raise an enormous amount of money for investment in Iraq, since oil company is nationally owned, and it would be good for the world. You got that?

KONDRACKE: ... Iraq is going to control its own oil.

BARNES: Yes, on, well, Iraq's going to control its own oil, I'm afraid they won't pull out of OPEC or do this or build up the 6 million barrels a day, ever.


DOWN: Senate Democrats

They killed a renewal of the 1996 landmark welfare reform bill this week by insisting on adding non-relevant amendments like the minimum wage and unemployment benefits. Republicans say it's about election-year politics. Here is Republican Senator Rick Santorum.


SEN. RICK SANTORUM (R), PENNSYLVANIA: They don't want to do anything. And they want to point the finger and say Republicans can't get this. See, they control everything, and they can't get things done. That's the message moment. Has nothing to do with the specific issues.


BARNES: Look, welfare reform (search) is one of the most wonderful policies that's ever happened. It was signed by Bill Clinton (search) as a new Democrat. Remember, he ran in 1992 on changing the welfare system. It is conservative social policy. It is compassionate conservatism that has worked, I know you want that kind of conservatism to be handouts, and this isn't.

Then what's happened? Poverty is down, overall poverty is down, child poverty is down, black child poverty is down, fewer hungry kids in the country, the welfare rolls are down by more than 60 percent, child poverty among single mothers is way down, single mothers have ... have a much higher employment rate than they used to have, there are 2.9 million fewer children in poverty than there were before this welfare reform bill was passed.

I could go on and on. It's been an enormous success that is an embarrassment to liberal Democrats ...


BARNES: ... because it's so succeeded.

KONDRACKE: ... you look like you're talking about me ... I was in favor of welfare reform ... from the beginning.

BARNES: ... new Democrats, I include you ... among those people.

KONDRACKE: ... all right, all right. Now, the Democrats actually succeeded in adding against the opposition from the supposedly, compassionate ... conservative Bush administration...

BARNES: Yes, right.

KONDRACKE: ... $6 billion ... to help poor women afford childcare. And then the Democrats, even though they won that, turned around and scuttled the bill because they alleged the Republicans would not give them a vote on raising the minimum wage.


KONDRACKE: In fact, the Republicans would give them a vote ... on a raising the minimum wage...

BARNES: Yes, yes, yes...

KONDRACKE: ... so I think the Democrats are...

BARNES: One more up and down real quickly. I agree with you.


BARNES: Whatever you say about it.

UP: Liberal Radio Network Air America

With Al Franken (search) as its main voice, Air America debuted this week, challenging what they consider to be a conservative monopoly of the airwaves. Well, there is no conservative monopoly. How about NPR? Liberals already have that.

I don't think there's a demand for this on AM, a demand for this kind of liberal radio. There is for Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity and all those people like that, Laura Ingraham. But I don't think for these folks.

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