Ups and Downs for the Week of June 6

This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys", June 11, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: Let’s take a look at this week’s ups and downs.

DOWN: Hillary Clinton (search). After several moves toward the center, the old Hillary’s back to her old ways, taking the over-the-top swipes at the GOP (search). Here’s what she said at a fundraiser earlier this week: "There has never been an administration, I don’t believe in our history, more intent upon consolidating and abusing power to further their own agenda."

MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Yes. And that was right after all this revelations about Nixon, you know, whose impeachment she actually worked on.



KONDRACKE: Now, the question is, who is the real Hillary? I mean, in Washington, a lot of the time, she sounds like Tony Blair (search). You put her out on the stump, and she sounds like Howard Dean.


KONDRACKE: And this was not the only example of that. Back in April, she said, "We are headed for a brave new world of extremism. We need to stand against their radical reactionary right-wing agenda." You know, it’s over the top...


KONDRACKE: All the times. She gets out of town, and sounds like Dean.

BARNES: I know, but you asked the question, Mort, you didn’t answer it. Which is the real Hillary? Which one is it?

KONDRACKE: You know, I don’t know. I don’t know the answer. But we will find out before the, before the presidential campaign of 2008.


BARNES: Well, I hope so. Look, I don’t think this extravagant, insulting, hyperbolic language helps Hillary. I mean, what’s she talking about when she says this radical agenda? Is it tax cuts, the highway bill, the energy bill, a few conservative judges? It’s just not language that’s helpful to her, because, as Robert Novak suggested in a column this past week, he had talked to a bunch of California Democrats, unlike East Coast Democrats, they are not for Hillary. And you know why? They don’t think she can win the general election. They think she can win the primary, but the general election is the key.

And extravagant, wild, crazy language like this doesn’t help make her a stronger general election candidate. Simple as that.

KONDRACKE: UP: U2 front man and political activist Bono (search). He’s one of the few famous people using his star power for good. And his work on behalf of AIDS-stricken, the AIDS-stricken and the poor in Africa is starting to pay off, especially on the issue of debt forgiveness. Here’s President Bush on Tuesday in response to a British reporter who mocked Bono as a mere rock star.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Bono has come to see me. I admire him. He is a man of depth and a great heart who cares deeply about the impoverished folks on the continent of Africa. And I admire his leadership on the issue.


KONDRACKE: Well, you know, your hero, Jesse Helms (search), has written his autobiography, and in it he gives Bono credit for changing his mind about the AIDS epidemic in Africa. Previously, Jesse Helms, as you might have imagined, believed that, that AIDS was only the result of reckless voluntary sex. And at least as far as Africa’s concerned, Bono changed his mind.

And I’m sure that Jesse Helms is a hard sell on that issue.

BARNES: Yes, but Jesse Helms said something that you don’t hear very often from politicians, particularly liberals. It was three words, I was wrong. I thought that was very honest, and, and encouraging by him.

Now, Condi Rice (search), when she was national security adviser, is the one who brought Bono in to see the president. And he was extremely impressed by Bono, obviously, as you saw from that bite. But so was the entire White House staff. And just a couple weeks ago, Mike Gerson, the speechwriter, who is now a counselor and very, very influential with Bush on questions like this, and Africa and compassionate conservative questions, had dinner with Bono, and he was also impressed.

I mean, Bono’s in favor of debt forgiveness or debt relief for these poor countries, mainly in Africa, and it’s not just a coincidence that President Bush and Tony Blair have come up with a plan that would wipe out the debt to international lenders, like the World Bank, for 18 countries, and then maybe nine more.

So indeed, Bono has had an impact. He really has, amazingly.

DOWN: John Kerry. So much for his campaign and the media’s portrayal of Kerry as the complex intellectual and George W. Bush as the bumbling dunce. Newly released records show Kerry’s college grades are lackluster at best. He got five D’s throughout his years at Yale. Bush only received one during his four years. And both men wound up with similar cumulative grades for the year, Bush with 77 and Kerry with a 76, which actually means they didn’t get the same grades. Bush got better grades than Kerry.


KONDRACKE: By one point over four years. Well, listen, Kerry, to his credit, and this is a place where he’s ahead of Bush, Kerry is at least working on some positive agenda items, which most Democrats aren’t. I mean, instead of just bashing Bush most of the time, which Kerry also does, Kerry has put in a bill to make sure that all 11 million kids who are uninsured, get health insurance.

BARNES: Spending other people’s money, huh?


KONDRACKE: It’s for kids...

BARNES: What has — look, look, wait a minute...

KONDRACKE: ... it’s to make kids sure that kids...

BARNES: ... wait a minute, wait a minute...

KONDRACKE: ... are insured, for heaven’s sake.

BARNES: We happen to have a huge problem in America...


BARNES: Where Medicaid (search) is wiping out budgets for states all over the country. What has John Kerry done for that? Not a thing. Talk to a governor, they’re not going to be rushing to John Kerry’s defense.

KONDRACKE: Bush himself wants to expand SCHIP, and that’s what Kerry wants to do. Bush should do it to all the insured kids.

BARNES: Well, let’s do it so it doesn’t ruin every state budget. And besides, Kerry is acting like Al Gore (search) after Al Gore lost in 2000. So oh, he’s come up with these the voters were too dumb, they weren’t informed, that’s why they voted for Bush. You know, it was the Downing Street memo that revealed where things really were.

And it’s conspiratorial stuff. It’s crazy.

KONDRACKE: Well, ain’t right all the time.

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