Ups and Downs for the Week of Jan. 24

This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys", Jan. 29, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: Let’s check out this week’s ups and downs.

UP: Hillary Clinton (search). From immigration and faith-based programs to abortion, Hillary is staking out a more centrist position on so-called value issues.

On abortion, Hillary raised eyebrows earlier this week with this comment, "We do have deeply held differences of opinion about the issue of abortion, and I for one respect those who believe with all their hearts and conscience that there are no circumstances under which any abortion should ever be available. We can all recognize that abortion in many ways represents a sad, even tragic choice to many, many women."

Gee, I applaud those words. But, you know, there really wasn’t much substance to these, but Hillary Clinton and her emphasis on outreach to social conservatives and people who are not a part of the Democratic base, I think is, is really quite significant, and not only because she probably is going to run for president.

But it’s smart, Mort. I mean, other Democrats, Teddy Kennedy, John Kerry, all the rest of them, are veering to the left. She’s moving to the right. Who do you think has a better sense of the electorate and is smarter, those guys, or Hillary Clinton?

MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: I’m astounded. I mean, here you are swooning.

BARNES: I’m not swooning.


KONDRACKE: All it takes is, all it takes is reaching out. President Bush ought to try stuff like that, you know?


BARNES: Mort, this is called political analysis...


BARNES: It’s not swooning.

KONDRACKE: Now, look, Hillary Clinton (search) is an expert on third-way triangulation. She watched it close hand in the, in the, in the Clinton White House, and it worked. It got her husband elected two times.

Now, she, she also has said that there ought to be high-tech methods to guard the border against illegal immigration, and she’s emphasized her religious faith, and, you know, it also, it all makes her acceptable. And last week, she also voted for Condoleezza Rice’s confirmation. And did, did you notice who did not? There were 13 senators, one of whom, surprisingly, was Evan Bayh (search).

BARNES: Centrist Bayh?

KONDRACKE: Centrist Bayh, who I thought would be the moderate favorite.


KONDRACKE: Now, Bayh said that this was not, you know, opposition to the war, that he’s still for the war, that it was a protest vote. On the other hand, that’s what John Kerry said too.


BARNES: Yes, right.

KONDRACKE: Not a good move.

UP: the federal deficit. The annual, the additional $80 billion requested by the Bush administration for Iraq and Afghanistan will push the federal deficit to a record-breaking $200, $427 billion this year. And the Democrats, of course, are making hay, or trying to. Here’s Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.


U.S. SENATOR HARRY REID (D-NV), MINORITY LEADER: The financial affairs of this country are in very bad shape. All you have to do is look at a flow chart of what happened in the Clinton years, where the revenues were up and the spending was down, and look at a flow chart of what’s going on in the Bush presidency, where the revenues are down and the costs are up. We have red ink as far as you can see.


KONDRACKE: Now, before you mention it, I acknowledge that $427 billion is not, is, is a record in dollar terms. But when you take into account the gross national product, it’s 3.3, 3.6 percent, which is not a record.

BARNES: Yes, you were right the first time, 3.3 percent.

KONDRACKE: And it’s going to go down for the next few years.

BARNES: Hey, wait a minute, and the $127 billion is not inflation adjusted either

KONDRACKE: OK, now, now.

BARNES: Yes, go ahead.

KONDRACKE: However, once the baby boom retires, Reid has got a point. What happens is that the, is that Medicare, Medicaid, an Social Security costs drive the deficit way back up again to the point where, according to most experts, and I’m talking about the Government Accountability Office and the Congressional Budget Office and the Committee for Economic Development and the Concord Coalition and all of those, say that you just take Medicare and Medicaid by themselves are going to account for 2040 demographic, it’s a demographic time bomb that we’re facing to 20 percent of GDP. Now, that’s unsustainable.


KONDRACKE: And it’s going to happen unless something’s done to reform these programs.

BARNES: Look, look, I’m for reform, I mean, although I’m not really worried about 2040 and these numbers.

Actually, the flow chart, I don’t know what flow chart Harry Reid (search) was looking at, but it wasn’t the one I’m looking at. It shows as a percentage, the deficit is a percentage of the economy, dropping to a half a percent in 2011. So it’s not doing quite what you’re saying either. But it was a nice try, Mort.

UP: Newt Gingrich (search), or, as we call him, Newt, is back. His new book is sparking speculation about presidential run, and even Democrats are finding they have something to learn from Gingrich’s scorched-earth politics.

Well, the truth is, Democrats misunderstand Newt, what he did back when he was the leader of the Republicans in ‘93 and ‘94, that he did, you know, relentlessly oppose everything Clinton was doing and Democrats were proposing, and but he did something else. It wasn’t just that. It wasn’t just the scorched earth.

Newt is an idea factory, throwing out these conservative ideas, the result of which was, he attracted conservatives who had not become Republicans. And remember, conservatives outnumber liberals in America three to two. Attracted them to the Republican Party, produced a realignment that made Republicans the majority.

I mean, Democrats just want to trash all of Bush’s programs. They don’t have any new ideas.

KONDRACKE: Right, exactly. I think The Economist (search) of London put it about as well as it’s been put by anybody when it said that the biggest problem for the current Democratic leadership is not that they have lost the will to fight, but they’ve lost the power to think.


KONDRACKE: I mean, you, there is very little in the way of new ideas, although, I must say that John Kerry did, did come up with a good one on health care, which, which we need not get into the details of.

BARNES: Mort, nobody in this hemisphere could explain or understand his health care plan.

KONDRACKE: Anyway, that said, you know, Newt did self-destruct as a leader, and I’m afraid that his mission in life is to be idea factory and not a presidential candidate.

BARNES: Yes, but a good one.


DOWN: Michael Moore. In spite of all the lavish praise Moore received from Hollywood’s liberal elite, for, for "Fahrenheit 9/11," it wasn’t good enough to win him any nominations for an Academy Award.

Now, I have to issue an, a blanket apology to my new pals in Hollywood.


KONDRACKE: I was convinced that not only was he going to get nominated for, for best picture and best director and maybe even best screenplay and, and best music, for all I knew.


KONDRACKE: But he didn’t get anything.


BARNES: But they also show their antireligious bias, Mort, by not nominating "The Passion of the Christ," which obviously deserved to be nominated as one of the best movies.

You know the movie I liked the best that I saw and I didn’t see many? "The Incredibles." I saw it with my granddaughter. She liked it too.

KONDRACKE: Yes. "Million Dollar Baby" is my favorite, also "Ray," very good movies.

BARNES: Good, all right.

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