Ups and Downs for the Week of May 30

This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys", June 4, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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

DOWN: the European Union (search). Voters in France and the Netherlands overwhelmingly reject the EU constitution this week, dealing the charter a near-fatal blow, or maybe a fatal blow.

MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Yes. Well, this was a mixed blessing for the United States. On the one hand, it was a welcome defeat for Jacques Chirac, who hoped to organize Europe to be a counterweight to the United States. He can’t do that any more. On the other hand, this was a victory for the far right and the far left in, in France, mainly, and or what they want to do, they’re xenophobes and they’re anti-capitalists, and basically their influence would prevent Europe, Germany and France, actually, from growing, from getting rid of this burdensome welfare state and modernizing their economy.

And when Europe doesn’t grow, the rest of the world doesn’t grow as fast as it possibly could, including the United States.

BARNES: Mort, you know how some people carry a little version of the American Constitution around in their pocket? I think Bob Dole used to, and maybe he still does.

KONDRACKE: Bob Burr does.


BARNES: Yes. But, think of the European constitution. There are seven articles in the American Constitution, 485 in this European constitution. Be hard to carry around. You’d have to, you know, get a, a dolly or something to carry it around.

Look, both sides, as you pointed out, in France opposed this, but also France itself, which it was mainly the socialists who led the way against it, but in the Netherlands, where it was defeated by an even bigger margin, it was the free-market people, because Holland’s a much more free-market country. They were opposed to it because they thought it leaned too much in the socialist direction.

Boy, that’s a bad document when that happens.


OK, UP: Washington Post investigative reporter Bob Woodward (search), the unveiling of former FBI agent Mark Felt as Deep Throat brings new attention to Woodward’s masterful reporting of the Watergate story and reinforces the fact that it was Woodward and not Felt who drove the, the story that brought down President Nixon.

BARNES: You know, I’ve never met Mark Felt (search), but I’ll have to say, I don’t have a very positive impression of him. And I think it was not the honorable way to go about dealing with the scandal in the White House was to go to higher-ups in the Justice Department, somebody Mark Felt must, might have trusted, or go public.

Instead, he leaked to Bob Woodward. Now, Bob Woodward’s obligation was different. It’s to get as much information as he can that people don’t know and write it up for the newspaper.

You and I know, having been in this business for a long time, how hard it is to find really knowledgeable sources, then to get them to talk, then to get them to keep talking as, as Woodward did in this case. And I think this was a reportorial feat that really hasn’t been matched. Woodward is clearly the best reporter of his generation.

KONDRACKE: Yes, I agree, and Bob just keeps going on and on, and, you know, writing books about and getting access to the highest-level officials and writing about wars and writing about politics and so on.

There is one story left to write about Watergate. What was it all about? What were those burglars doing in that place? What were they after? The definitive story of that has yet to be told. And I, if I were Bob Woodward, I would, I would try to round it all out.

Now, as to Felt, you know, one, he didn’t know who he could trust in the Justice Department. After all, the attorney general was one of the masterminds of the caper, and, you know, how far down it went, he couldn’t go to his boss at the FBI, because he was involved.

Now, going public, that was a possibility. But you know that it’s very rare that anybody actually quits and goes public. And when they do, it’s usually, you know, people start saying, Oh, sour grapes, you didn’t get the job you wanted. And in this case, Mark Felt, it would have been true.

BARNES: It would have been true.


BARNES: All right.

UP: Bill Clinton (search). Move over, Jimmy Carter. Clinton is emerging as the most visible ex-president, making the most of his time on the global stage, and relishing the role of international globetrotter on behalf of tsunami relief, poverty and AIDS.

Well, you know, I’ll have to say, Clinton’s a pretty good ex- president, and oddly enough, both of the Bushes, George W. and his father, have grown to like him a lot. But there is one place where his influence, I think, is incredibly needed, and he’s not having any influence there, and that’s on the Democratic Party.

I mean, look, the party now is pessimistic, it’s angry, and it’s too left-wing. These are all the things that Clinton, when he ran in ‘92 and then during his presidency, steered the Democratic Party away from. And yet they’ve reverted, as if Clinton had never been president.

KONDRACKE: Yes, well, he keeps dropping warnings every once in a while that they have to get, get on with the positive agenda. But they, but they ignore him, and then he goes on, you know, to run, I guess, for secretary general of the U.N., that’s what he’d like.

BARNES: Hey, we could do worse.

KONDRACKE: I know, but no American is going to get it, although if any American could, it probably would be Bill Clinton.

Some things have not changed, though. I mean, he was asked, he was asked the other day, you know, Is Hillary Clinton running, running for president? And his response was, "I am quite confident that she has not decided to run in 2008, or if she has, she hasn’t told me." That’s very Clintonian.

BARNES: Is she running or not?

KONDRACKE: Of course she’s running, and he knows it.


BARNES: You’re tough on Hillary.

KONDRACKE: OK, DOWN: "Star Wars, Episode Three, Revenge of the Sith (search)." Now, on the strength of Steven Hunter’s review in The Washington Post, a Steven Hunter I have, you know, childlike faith in his reviews. He compared this movie, George Lucas’s movie, to John Milton, to Shakespeare, to Herman Melville, as a description of a good man descending into evil. I’m sorry; this was not "The Godfather." And what having watched the movie, you know, what I found was that it was, that it was psychologically vapid, and I thought it was theologically sort of shallow. But politically, it was really offensive. I mean, George Lucas has this, you know, has been running around saying that George Bush is undermining democracy as, you know, this evil senator undermines democracy in the movie.

But the movie shows that what Hollywood liberals really want is something like the Jedi knights, unelected, self-selected, elitist body that actually runs things when needed, a Supreme Court (search) perhaps.

BARNES: Mort, have you ever thought of giving up what you’re doing now and becoming a movie critic?

KONDRACKE: You know, that would be fun.

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