Ups and Downs for the Week of October 17

This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys", October 22, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Let’s check out this week’s ups and downs.

DOWN: Saddam Hussein (search). Fresh off a largely peaceful constitutional vote, Iraqis got to see the Butcher of Baghdad finally in court as the first of his many war crimes trials began last week.

FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: You know, this was an incredible moment to relish, to see a murderous dictator like Saddam Hussein in the dock, you know, and here we have this new Iraqi democracy that’s really coming to grips with Saddam’s past and I think doing a good job. Here he is going to he tried by his peers.

You know what alarms me, though, Mort, you know, I get e-mails, and you talk to people as well as I do. There’s so many people out there, and some of them in Congress as well, who don’t realize that a corner has been turned in Iraq on the military and the political side. And this is another example of it that he’s come to trial. There we’ve had the October 15 referendum (search) on the constitution. Looks like it passed. We have another election on December 15 where we expect really full Sunni turnout and elect and new parliament.

I mean, these are steps on the road to a stable Iraqi democracy. We’re getting there. Things have changed in Iraq. It’s not that they’re all going in the right direction. And I guess you can only blame the media for not getting that story across.

KONDRACKE: Yes, you know, I would like to think that this trial will be politically important for the Sunnis, that it will be for them what dragging German citizens around to visit death camps, Hitler’s death camps was like at the end of World War II, that they could actually see what this hero of theirs did, you know, in case they don’t know.

And the fact that the insurgents were wreaking havoc on the country are his old henchmen and would, you know, would go back to the same old thing all over again. Unfortunately, you’ve got these human rights groups that are questioning the legitimacy of the trial, saying that it ought to be in The Hague (search), for heaven’s sakes.

I mean, look, Iraqis should be trying this guy.

BARNES: Sure, yes.

KONDRACKE: And bringing him to justice. I think that’s the right thing to do.

BARNES: It had to happen that way.

DOWN: Homeland Security director Michael Chertoff (search). On the heels of the FEMA (search) disaster, Chertoff is now charged with selling President Bush’s immigration plan, a plan that doesn’t do much to secure the borders and pushes for a temporary worker program. Critics say that this program rewards immigrants who are here illegally.

Well, I finally got through that.

KONDRACKE: Yes. You know, I’m beginning to think that it was a mistake to create this humongous Homeland Security department. I mean, here’s Michael Chertoff, he’s now acting like the director of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (search).


KONDRACKE: Previously, he was acting like the director of FEMA. You know, who is watching, who’s minding the store on terrorism? I mean, that’s what the Homeland Security Department’s supposed to be all about.

Now, on immigration, you know, the problem is that Bush has got, you know, a fairly reasonable and generous immigration idea. But Congress is not listening to him.

BARNES: Right, right.

KONDRACKE: The Republican Congress wants to have border security first, emphasizing technology. Secondly, they want to enforce stronger, stronger enforcement against the 11 million illegal aliens who are here in the United States. And then finally, they may get around to some sort of work permit system, which they all ought to do all together, but for some reason, they’re going to take it up in that order.

Who in Lord’s name do they think these Republicans are, hiring all these illegal aliens? I mean, it’s the private sector, their beloved private sector.

BARNES: I know, I know. Look, there is, as I thought you were going to say, but you led right up to it and didn’t say it, an irreparable breach between President Bush, on the one hand, on the issue of immigration, and probably a majority of Republicans, at least in the House of Representatives.

Bush is really incredibly pro-immigrant, and when he signed the new Homeland Security Act on Tuesday, he went through this thing he’s been talking about for years, saying how these illegal immigrants are coming here for the right reasons, just like immigrants for the past 300 or 400 years have been coming. Well, I think he’s right too. But there’s a political dimension. It is a more tolerant attitude toward illegal immigrants, not encouraging them to come or anything, with a more tolerant and attitude that has helped the Republican Party (search) build up strength among Hispanic American voters.

Bush got to 44 percent in 2004. They’d be crazy to sacrifice that.

KONDRACKE: Absolutely.

DOWN: Jerry Kilgore (search), Republican candidate for Virginia governor. There is evidence that President Bush is a drag on his candidacy. The latest polls show that the race against Democratic Lieutenant Governor Tim Kaine (search) is much tighter than it ought to be in a solid Republican state.

But Kilgore is fighting back with an issue that’s very powerful in Virginia, the death penalty. Here’s a quick look at the ads, first Kilgore, then Kaine.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How heinous the crime? He doesn’t believe that death is a punishment. Tim Kaine says that Adolf Hitler doesn’t qualify for the death penalty.



TOM KAINE, DEMOCRATIC GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: My faith teaches life is sacred. That’s why I personally oppose the death penalty. But I take my oath of office seriously, and I’ll enforce the death penalty.

As governor, I’ll carry out death sentences handed down by Virginia juries, because that’s the law.


BARNES: You know, Mort, there’s a pattern in Virginia voting that, and the Virginia governor’s race always comes a year after a presidential election. And the pattern in the last seven races is that the governor elected is of the opposite party of the guy in the White House. That means the Kaine, the Democrat, will win. Obviously Bush is a Republican.

The added problem for Jerry Kilgore is that Bush is suddenly a drag in Virginia. You know, he won the state last year by I think eight percentage points. But he’s sunk a lot, and he’s particularly lost ground in northern Virginia, where Kilgore doesn’t have to win, but he’s got to do well.

The death penalty ad may help, but I think the advantage is to Kaine right now.

KONDRACKE: Yes, well, I think Kaine’s got to be more aggressive than he is in that ad. I mean, I think that’s the voice of sweet reason there. But, Kilgore is being demagogic about this whole thing, as if the death penalty’s not going to be carried out, but nonetheless, Kaine’s got to come back harder.

BARNES: All right. UP: the fast food industry (search). It won a weighty victory in the House of Representatives this week. The so-called cheeseburger bill would bar lawsuits from obese people who accuse the industry of making them fat.

KONDRACKE: Now, surprise, surprise, I am against giving trial lawyers all this money in lawsuits.

But I would like to see a fat tax, tax on the fat content of food, and social pressure applied to fat people and basically insurance incentives to encourage people to lose weight and exercise and have low cholesterol.

BARNES: Mort, I’d like to run for office against you. You, the candidate who wants to put a tax on the people’s food. I’d win.

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