Ups and Downs for the Week of Jan. 31

This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys", Feb. 5, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Let’s check out the ups and downs.

UP: Howard Dean. With labor on his side and chief rival Martin Frost (search) out of the way, Dean has the Democratic national chairmanship all but wrapped up, much to the dismay of centrist Democrats and congressional leaders.

You know, the Democracy Poll which is run by a bunch of liberals, has asked, Which party is it that will, that you depend upon to protect you from enemies outside the country?


KONDRACKE: The Republicans won that one by 25 points, and which party represents strength and which represents weakness? Republicans ahead by 27 points.

BARNES: Yes, yes.

KONDRACKE: Now, what does the Republican Party (search) do? They nominate as their chairman one of the most dopey of all.

BARNES: You mean — you meant the Democratic Party (search) nominated.

KONDRACKE: The Democrats, yes, yes, yes, the Democratic Party chairman, one of the most dopey presidential candidates in the whole race.


KONDRACKE: I mean, next to Dennis Kucinich it was Howard Dean.

BARNES: Right.

KONDRACKE: I don’t see how they gain any credibility from that.

BARNES: Well, you know what? They don’t. I mean, it’s a mistake. Jonathan Chait (search), remember him, when he was at The New Republic, wrote that piece, "Why I Hate George Bush," went on and on and on? It was a juvenile piece. However, he’s written a very good piece, now that he writes for The L.A. Times (search), a very good piece on why it’s suicidal for Democrats to have Howard Dean at, as their chief spokesman. I think this is maybe why Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid didn’t want him.

Because he’s a livelier figure on television, he’ll be the face of the party. But Jonathan Chait said, One, you need somebody with message discipline.


BARNES: It makes you laugh when you think of Howard Dean. He does not have message discipline, you know, have a small, simple message and say it over and over again.

And second, that’s a person the chairman has to manage the Democratic National Committee, and its staff in particularly. Howard Dean couldn’t manage his way out of a wet paper bag. I still think somehow, somewhere in the recesses of Washington, the man behind this is Karl Rove.


BARNES: Bush’s adviser.

All right, UP: Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas (search). Just weeks after his election, Abbas will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for a summit next week in Egypt, the highest-level talks in more than four years. President Bush gave Abbas a boost too by pledging nearly $350 million for development and security in Wednesday’s State of the Union address.

Now, you know, Bush likes Abbas. He had kind words to say about him when he, particularly in that lunch with anchors, you know, TV anchors before the State of the Union address. And wants to help him in every possible way after having ostracized Yasser Arafat correctly.

But Abbas still has this huge task in front of him that Bush and Sharon are going to insist on, and that is, dismantling the terrorist groups. He’s got to do it.

KONDRACKE: Yes. I mean, look, you’ve got to hope, and the United States has always got to be in the game to try to move the process forward when there, when there’s an opening. But as you say, you know, there’s the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, there’s Hamas, there’s Islamic Jihad, and they’re not, they’ve not stopped training suicide bombers. And all it takes is a couple of suicide bombers, and this whole peace plan is blown to smithereens. That’s why he’s got to crack down, and there’s no sign he’s doing it.

UP: Viagra. It was announced this week that the new Medicare prescription drug benefit will cover sexual enhancement drugs like Viagra and Levitra when medically needed. But the federal government’s move into lifestyle rather than lifesaving drugs is raising some eyebrows on Capitol Hill. Republican Congressman Pete King of New York will fight the provision, saying, "There are only two reasons for sex. One is procreation, the other is recreation. If you’re, if we’re going to subsidize someone’s recreational sex life, I don’t think that’s what the founding fathers had in mind."


BARNES: But what I don’t understand is, what, when are these drugs medically needed?

KONDRACKE: Well, that’s up to the doctors, right? But, the good news, Congressman King, is that the Medicare system is at least going to ration them, so you’re not going to have unlimited recreational sex here going on among geezers.


KONDRACKE: You know, what I would like to see is that somebody would, would censor Levitra and Viagra and, and what’s the other one, Cialis?

BARNES: Cialis, yes.

KONDRACKE: You know, instead of having these ads showing people sitting there in bathtubs or jumping around like grinning like geese or something like that.


KONDRACKE: I mean, it really is kind of demeaning.

BARNES: Well, one, I didn’t know geese grinned.


BARNES: But on other hand, I kind of like those ads, because they are extraordinarily clever, because they, because whoever writes those ads has to come up with some way of getting the point across about what these drugs are for with somehow, without actually saying what they’re for. And they do it, they do it very well, with the tubs and remember that guy walking through, and he’s smiling and everything, and somebody asks him, Oh, have you lost weight?

Well, anyway, I think Peter King is right, though. Taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for even limited recreational sex. I mean, come on, you shouldn’t dun the taxpayers for that.

BARNES: This ought to be something that people can pay for on their own. I’m not against it. I’m not against it the use of drugs.

KONDRACKE: Look, I think in limited supplies, you know.


KONDRACKE: I agree with you that AIDS drugs should have preference over Viagra.


KONDRACKE: But nonetheless, in limited supply, I think, look, it is important to the lives of people, their companionship. There is a third reason — for sex.

BARNES: Yes, if it’s so important to them, let them pay for it.

KONDRACKE: Well, some of them can’t.

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