Ups and Downs for the Week of March 7

This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys", March 13, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Time for the ups and downs.

UP: John Bolton (search), President Bush’s pick to be the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. His blunt criticism of the world body may not win him any friends in Europe, but his straight talk on the U.N.’s problems could greatly help the reform process.

Now, this may shock you, but I actually think that this is a brilliant appointment, for three different reasons. One, there is a tradition in the United States, established by Jeane Kirkpatrick and, and Patrick Moynihan (search), of blunt-talking people saying that the, that the U.N. needs reform, and this is an era when the U.N., beset by scandal, really needs reform.

Secondly, John Bolton is a conservative, so- called neoconservative, and the neocons deserve a highly visible position somewhere in the Bush foreign policy apparatus.

And third, Bolton is going to represent U.S. foreign policy. He is not going to make U.N. foreign policy, U.S. foreign policy. He is not going to have cabinet rank. He wanted to be the number two man at the State Department, didn’t get that, wanted to be national security adviser, didn’t get that.

So, you know, he’s not going to be the boss. And so it’s kind of safe for him to get that job.

FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: Well, I am shocked. I didn’t think you’d do that, because I mean, that’s obviously not the way this thing is played so far, because when you get the press, when you get liberals, when you get the foreign policy community, when you get Europeans, when you get your famous international community, and you get all those people together with Democrats and so on, when you have that group, they all believe that international institutions like the United Nations are good.

And so the job of an American ambassador to a place like the U.N. is to accommodate himself or herself to that institution. That’s not what Moynihan did, that’s not what Kirkpatrick did, as you pointed out, and that is certainly not what John Bolton’s going to do, and more power to him. I think it’s a great appointment, OK.

UP: Hillary Clinton (search). She struck yet another moderate theme this week by sharply criticizing sex and violence in video games and other media directed toward children. Here’s Senator Clinton Wednesday. And watch who she’s with.


U.S. SENATOR HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: We were talking about any other kind of public health issue, because I view this as a public health issue, that we believe has the impact on children, that this immersion in the media environment have, we would certainly spend $90 million trying to understand what to do about it.


BARNES: The guy with the yellow tie there, you could see was Rick Santorum (search), the rough, the very conservative Republican senator from Pennsylvania. And she was also there with Sam Brownback (search) from Kansas and Joe Lieberman.

Now, you know, I asked, for the last couple of months, I’ve been asking people this question, other people, you know, people like you and, and people I talk to, just average voters and political consultants and so on, and the question is this. Most Democrats, by whom I mean Senator Kennedy and John Kerry and Howard Dean and all those people, are moving to the left since the election last November.

But Hillary Clinton is moving to the right. And so the question is, who is smarter and has a better sense of what Americans want?


BARNES: And what is the answer I always get, invariably? Hillary Clinton.

KONDRACKE: Fred, I think you’re going to vote for the lady.


BARNES: Don’t hold your breath.

KONDRACKE: Well, you’re certainly impressed.


KONDRACKE: Well, what I want to see is whether Hillary Clinton will keep the heat on Hollywood to the point where she endangers that money pot that’s out there, that Democrats go to all the time, and out in Hollywood, I’m sure they love her, you know, but will she test that love the way it happened with Tipper Gore (search), you remember, Al Gore’s wife was really hard on Hollywood and was forced to back off back in the 1980s, and even Joe Lieberman was forced to go out there and kowtow before he could get.

BARNES: And, neither one of them forced to do that. They just did it.

KONDRACKE: Well, they did it, but will Hillary have to do the same?

Now, Bill Clinton is contributing to his wife’s presidential prospects by, you know, doing tsunami relief and palling around with George Bush’s father.

BARNES: All right, go ahead.

KONDRACKE: OK, DOWN: Illinois congressman and Democratic congressional campaign chairman Rahm Emanuel (search). His plan to redraw congressional districts in Illinois to favor Democrats was universally rejected by both parties, handing this rising star his first major political loss. Even his hometown paper, The Chicago Tribune, thought that the idea was a loser.

"It’s no surprise that with his political aptitude, Emanuel would end up as head of the DCCC. It is a surprise, though, to find that his mentor is Republican House leader Tom DeLay (search). His plan seeks to introduce DeLay-style politics in the Illinois, all but guaranteeing more bitter winner-take-all political maneuvering in this state. That’s a bad idea."

Now, you cheered when Tom DeLay conducted a midterm gerrymander of Texas house seats.

BARNES: Yes, right. Well, in Texas, the legislature had not drawn districts, and it was only a federal court that did, so the legislature still ought to have had a shot. That’s not true in Illinois. The legislature, with agreement of Republicans and Democrats, actually drew the lines.

KONDRACKE: Well this, this was a big embarrassment for Rahm Emanuel, on his first time out. But this is a guy with vaulting political ambitions, and boundless energy, and I would not put Rahm down.

BARNES: Rahm Emanuel is going to weather this storm of protest that you’ve raised here. He’s got a great career ahead of him, OK.

UP: Senate majority leader Bill Frist. He may not have the troops in line yet on Social Security, but he has had no trouble pushing through two major pieces of legislation recently, the class action lawsuit bill and this week’s bankruptcy bill.

Now, I think in his first two years, Bill Frist learned a lot. He wasn’t a great majority leader, but he’s off to a, a much better start in these two years. He’s tougher, he’s smarter, he’s stronger. And I think he’s more result oriented. And I think, here’s the test, the test is going to be obviously Social Security is one, but the nuclear option, and I think he wants to do it, in other words, have, have a ruling that says on judicial nominations, only a majority is needed, it would block Democrats from filibustering judicial nominations of the Bush administration, how they’ve been doing.

I mean, Democrats threatened to block any work in the Senate if they do, but it won’t hurt Frist, it’ll hurt them.

KONDRACKE: Well, and another success of the Republicans was, was getting the ANWR (search) drilling into the budget, which is a way of getting it done in.

It was a slick maneuver.


KONDRACKE: Now, if Bill Frist wants to be president, there’s one thing Bill Frist has got to do in order to be a credible presidential candidate, learn to make a speech which he doesn’t do very well.

BARNES: Well, that’d help. That’d help a bit, OK.

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