This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys", April 9, 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: House majority leader Tom DeLay (search).
You’re smiling as I said that, Mort.
He was hit with yet another wave of ethical questions this week. None of the charges have actually stuck, but some, including The Wall Street Journal, questioning whether the appearance of impropriety may hurt DeLay and the GOP.
"Whether Mr. DeLay violated the small print of House ethics or campaign-finance rules is thus largely beside the point. His real fault lies in betraying the broader set of principles that brought him to office, and which, if he continues as before, sooner or later will sweep him out."
Mort, I’m not going to dwell on these alleged violations, which I think are, at worst, are corner-cutting. Most of it’s normal practice in House members. And I don’t defend that, you know, and their going on junkets and so on.
But I want to ask you this. Democrats (search) have declared war on Tom DeLay in hopes of driving him out of Congress. So that happens.
Soon after that, the press starts running all kinds of stories attacking Tom DeLay, and, and seemingly also trying to drive him out of, out of Congress. Did you see a connection there, Mort?
MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Yes, I do see a connection.
BARNES: Just wanted to make sure.
KONDRACKE: Yes, there is a connection. But look, I mean, there is, an effort to drive DeLay out of politics. I, submit, though, that...
BARNES: No, but it’s the, it’s Democrats and the press.
KONDRACKE: Yes, well, yes, and the press is picking up because it sees him as vulnerable.
Now, this was going along there, you could declare that this was just a partisan vendetta, until The Wall Street Journal (search) leapt in, as you pointed out, and made this point that what DeLay’s problem is that he, "smells like the Beltway." That’s when you open the refrigerator door, that bad smell in the back, that’s the Beltway that you’re smelling. And I think the result of this is that Tom DeLay will never be speaker of the House of Representatives. I, you know, he may, he may hang on, but I think his, his ambitions will not be fulfilled.
What’s The Wall Street Journal talking about? One is that he uses political power to reward his, his friends, and to see that his friends pull political favors out of Washington. It’s always been done, but somehow the Republicans claimed that they were going to be above what the Democrats did when, when they were in power.
Another fact is that a lot of his, some of his close associates, past associates, fiends, are in, in serious legal trouble, being investigated by grand juries and stuff like that.
Thirdly, he, he plays very hard hardball. I mean, this, he claims to be a Christian, but it’s a curious kind of Christianity that he practices, it’s kind of early Old Testament Christianity, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
BARNES: Yes. But still biblical.
KONDRACKE: It’s biblical, boy, but it ain’t the New Testament, you know, it ain’t love, it’s all about driving your enemies out of office, and preventing Democratic lobbyists from getting jobs and stuff like that. It’s not very patient and kind.
KONDRACKE: The fruits of the Spirit are not evident, shall we say.
OK, DOWN: Republican Senator Mel Martinez (search) of Florida. The mystery surrounding who wrote that political memo on the Schiavo case is over. A member of Senator Martinez’s staff, who has since resigned, admitted to writing the missive, putting his boss in a very tough position.
Here’s Martinez on "FOX News Sunday" a couple of weeks ago, when confronted with the memo.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS WALLACE, HOST, "FOX NEWS SUNDAY": Senator, how do you explain, then, these talking points, which have been circulated among Republican senators? And let’s put them up on the screen so our viewers can see them.
Among the talking points, "This is an important moral issue and the pro-life base will be excited." And this is another one of the Republican talking points. "This is a great political issue because Senator Nelson of Florida," who is a Democrat up for reelection next year, "has already refused to become a co-sponsor, and this is a tough issue for Democrats."
Senator Martinez, these talking points sure look political.
U.S. SENATOR MEL MARTINEZ (R), FLORIDA: Well, and, and I reject those, and those I’ve never seen them before today. And I’ll tell you, they’re not a part of what I think this case is about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KONDRACKE: Well, this is also a down, not only for Martinez but also for the, the conservative bloggers who were convinced that when ABC News and The Washington Post got ahold of this memo that it was a forgery, you know, that this was another Dan Rather kind of case.
It wasn’t a forgery. It came from Martinez’s staff and now it may not have exactly circulated among Republicans, but nonetheless, it was a GOP memo.
BARNES: Yes. Well, no wait a minute now. Wait a minute, Mort. The critics of the accusers called it GOP talking point memos, memo on Terri Schiavo, suggesting, I think most people would draw from that, this was an official memo somehow from the leadership or something like that.
Accurately, it should be described as a Martinez aide talking points on Terri Schiavo.
And, Mort, The Washington Times did a survey of all senatorial offices, and obviously, a copy had been in, in Martinez’ office, and he had given one to Tom Harkin. There are 98 other senators. Not one of them said he had ever -- Republicans and Democrats had ever seen, they’d seen it.
KONDRACKE: Well, Tom Harkin obviously saw it, because Martinez gave it to him.
BARNES: But all the rest, they hadn’t seen it. So, circulated, I’m not so sure.
UP: Iraq. After much debate and delay, Iraq’s presidential council is finally in place, giving Iraq its first freely elected government in 50 years. Shiite Ibrahim al-Jaafari (search) is the new prime minister, and Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani (search) is the new president.
Now, Mort, remember all that hand wringing over how we’re going to have a Shiite theocracy and so on there? Well, here’s what we have. We have a president who’s a Kurd, we have two vice presidents, one’s a Shiite, one’s a Sunni. We have a prime minister, and that’s the most important job, he, he’s a Shiite. We have a foreign minister who happens to be a Kurd, and a defense minister who happens to be a Sunni.
That doesn’t sound like a Shiite theocracy to me.
KONDRACKE: Yes, I think, I think that the, the critics have been, have been hurt in their views on this a lot.
One, on the Islamic point, al-Jaafari has said that there are going to be women in the cabinet, women in the government, that he’s going to protect women’s rights. Sunnis, you know, it was said that they were going to be left out. They’re not, clearly, they’re going to get six, at least six cabinet posts.
It was said that this, that this process was dragging on. It took two months, whereas it took 11 years for the United States to get over the Articles of the Confederation and get to a constitution.
BARNES: Now, that’s a good point.
KONDRACKE: And now, yes, now the claim is that Iran is going to have a lot of influence. I think that Iranians, Shiites in Iran, are going to look at Iraq, see a Shiite democracy, a Shiite-run democracy, and say, Why can’t we have that? It’s going to have more influence; Iraq will have more influence on Iran than vice-versa.
DOWN: New Jersey Senator Jon Corzine (search), head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Jimmy Carter said that there were no hard feelings about being left off the official delegation to the pope’s funeral, but that didn’t stop Corzine from fanning the flames.
The senator said that he was, "livid" over the incident, saying, "In times of worldwide mourning, it’s a shame that President Bush is injecting petty partisan politics into an otherwise nonpartisan affair. George Bush’s very public snub of Carter is sad, disappointing, and extremely disturbing." I mean, this is...
BARNES: …whipped up.
KONDRACKE: Carter said, no problem, you know, there’s been no dissension between, between the White House and me. He wanted to go to the funeral, but there wasn’t room. I frankly don’t understand why the United States of America, powerful as it is, can’t get six places on our, our delegation, though.
BARNES: Yes, I don’t understand that either. But notice how the hair trigger the Democrats have in making these sweeping indictments of President Bush. OK.
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