This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys", March 20, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.
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FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: Let’s see who’s up and who’s down this week.
DOWN: Major League Baseball (search). If the congressional hearings this week proved anything, it’s that baseball was tardy in adopting a steroid policy and is still in denial about the impact steroids have had on the story.
Washington Post columnist Tom Boswell (search), who, Mort, I think is probably the best baseball writer, with the possible exception of Peter Gammons (search), wrote of the hearing, the one-day hearing with those baseball players, "This day, and all of its twists of plot and character, will not be forgotten in baseball for decades. In fact, the cautionary scene of four of the game’s greatest sluggers, all sitting at the same table with their legacy and their honor laid out before them, has barely begun to be digested."
You know, baseball is about statistics, it’s about records, it’s about honor and winning with honor. And we’re going to have arguments and debates and fights over whether a player’s cheated by taking steroids, whether their records are legitimate, whether teams won when they -- unfairly because players used steroids.
Curt Schilling said, "Winning without honor is not winning." And he was right about that. This steroids, Mort, we’re going to be, we’ll, after we’re dead, it’ll still be talked about.
MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Yes, you know, this is a case where a congressional hearing, pilloried as a show trial.
KONDRACKE: You know, actually accomplished some good. It was, there, there was a question of whether the steroid policy involved suspensions or fines, and Bud Selig was forced to come forward and said there will be suspensions. And I think the suspensions are not long enough. They’re certainly longer in the National Football League, they’re much more dire penalties in the Olympics.
KONDRACKE: For heaven’s sakes, you’re suspended from activity, you lose your medals and all that.
But I think this was, this was a signal contribution to American culture, not just sports.
UP: Defense Secretary, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz (search). Despite concerns by some European leaders, President Bush nominates the key architect of the Iraq war to be head of the World Bank, an aggressive move by the administration to put his stamp on the world body.
You know, there’s some agitation, lots of agitation on the part of various Europeans and even some Americans about, you know, whether this guy, this warmonger, should be at, at the World Bank. The fact is that Paul Wolfowitz is a democrat, small D, he’s a humanitarian, he’s an idealist, he deserves a shot. And what’s more he’s not going to be stopped by the Europeans.
BARNES: Look, President Bush is moving acts differently about these multilateral organizations than any presidents have had in the past. Normally, they send some ambassador, some president of the World Bank who just wants to accommodate himself to those organizations.
And Bush isn’t doing that. Not with John Bolton (search) to the U.N., for sure, nor with Paul Wolfowitz at the World Bank. I mean, what the president’s saying is, No more Mr. Nice Guy. There are terrible problems there, problems where, you know, process and intentions and, and how much money you’re lending are the yardsticks of success. And there is going to be a new one with Paul Wolfowitz, and that is, results in reducing poverty.
And that’s what it ought to be, and he’s a great choice.
UP: ANWR drilling (search). With the price of crude oil hitting historic highs, the Senate voted to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. But opponents say the fight is far from over.
You know, Mort, this was important for a political reason, not the substance of oil drilling, but, you know, Republicans have now won three big votes in the Senate, first on class action legislation that, you know, curbing trial lawyers, then on the bankruptcy bill, now on this one.
The vote on this wouldn’t have happened, one, if Republicans hadn’t circumvented a filibuster, but hadn’t won Senate seats in, in 2004 that put them over the top so that you get 51 votes.
Newly elected Republican senators replace Democratic senators who had voted against ANWR, for instance, Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina, who took over for John Edwards, Mel Martinez of Florida, who took over Bob Graham’s seat, John Thune of South Dakota beat Tom Daschle, and Jim DeMint of South Carolina took over Fritz Hollings’ seat.
There you have it.
KONDRACKE: The good news is that even though all those Republicans took over, it was still not enough to win the Medicaid vote. Senators succeeded in whacking back Bush’s plans to cut Medicaid, siding with the governors of the states.
BARNES: Please, the governors need to reform Medicaid before they come begging to Washington...
KONDRACKE: No, no, no. What they should do, they should reform Medicaid, they should reform Medicaid first. And the reforms will lead to cuts. You don’t need to cut first, because the states are strapped in Medicaid.
BARNES: This is going to be the only thing by cutting it from Washington, it’s the only way they’re going to do any reform, otherwise they’ll just step on the accelerator.
KONDRACKE: Anyway, anyway, I think the ANWR vote was the right thing to do if we want to get out from Middle East dependency.
UP: Iraq (search). Despite mortar fire outside Iraq’s new National Assembly, the assembly met for the first time this week. There was much fanfare and speechifying, but no agreement yet on the makeup of a coalition government.
You know, the public has, in the polls has not caught up with the great success of Iraq. They, you know, it’s still, on the question of was it worth it or was it not worth it, the public is still dubious.
I think that what, when very shortly, when we see that there’s not a civil war in Iraq, that this thing is really going actually very well and having a ripple effect all over the Middle East, the public will come behind it, and Bush will be the beneficiary.
BARNES: You know, part of the press has come behind that, not The New York Times editorial page. They live in a parallel universe and say, you know, We were right the whole time opposing the war and so on. The war has produced great results. I’m not criticizing their reporters over in Iraq, who’ve been very good, Dexter Filkins and John Burns.
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