Ups and Downs for the Week of February 6

This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys", February 11, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

Watch "The Beltway Boys" Saturday at 6 p.m. ET and Sunday at 1 and 6 a.m. EST.

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

DOWN: President Bush. Former FEMA chief Michael Brown says that the president himself knew about the levee breaches in New Orleans the night of the storm, Katrina, and continued to claim the next morning that New Orleans had, "dodged a bullet."

Here’s Brown being questioned by Senator Joe Lieberman on Friday.


U.S. SENATOR JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D-CT), GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS COMMITTEE: Maybe you were inflating a little bit or being loose with your language when you told MSNBC that you had already told the president that night about...

MICHAEL BROWN, FORMER DIRECTOR, FEMA: No, because, because when I, when I say that I told the president, if I’ve told Joe Hagin...

LIEBERMAN: I got it.

BROWN: ... or told Andy Card , I’ve told the president.


KONDRACKE: I mean, this whole thing is terribly embarrassing for the Bush administration on two counts. One is, is the sheer incompetence of, that it shows about the handling of Katrina and about the insensitivity about the whole situation, not responding immediately, not getting into there, the president, you know, doing a flyover the next day and all that.

But even more important is the likely incompetence that it suggests would be the response of the federal government to a terrorist incident. I mean, Bush has constituted so much time and effort, commendably, on fighting terrorism, on preventing it from happening overseas or in the United States by dealing, by dealing with the actual terrorists that I think he’s stinted on preparation for disasters.

And, and Brown went on to say that FEMA, as it was under Jamie Lee Witt, under President Clinton, or even under Joe Albaugh in the first Bush administration, ain’t what it used to be.

FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: Mort, I think that you’ve fallen for this totally gotcha story, where the difference is a few hours. We don’t know what time for sure he called. It might have been even that morning, and it took some hours before the word got to the president that, you know, New Orleans was being half-flooded, anyway.

And look, when he flew over, he should have landed. He should have told the Secret Service that he’s going down there, whether they like it or not.

But on the other hand, Brownie is obviously covering himself by doing this. And look, he didn’t have to call the president to do his job as head of FEMA. FEMA is designed to coordinate, and he doesn’t need Bush’s approval to coordinate with the governor of Louisiana and the mayor of New Orleans and so on.

So I don’t put much credence in what he said. All right.

UP: the Patriot Act. Senate Republican holdouts make a deal with the White House, unifying GOP support for the bill. Now it’s in the Democrats’ court.

You know, I was critical earlier of John Sununu and those other three Republicans for not letting the Patriot Act get renewed instantly. I take some of that back. I think there’s a lot to be said for what they did. They got some civil liberties concessions from the White House. I don’t think they’re major.

And now they’ve said, OK, let’s get this Patriot Act through. So I give Sununu and Larry Craig, who negotiated this, a lot of credit.

KONDRACKE: Well, 43 out of the 45 Democrats voted against the Patriot Act when it first came up. And right now, the Democrats are backing way off of their earlier claims that President Bush should be punished for this NSA spying thing, because now they, they’ve seen the polls, I think, and they realize what they’re now saying is that, Well, you know, let’s find a way to make this legal, let’s get Congress into the act here.

So it’s going to be very interesting to see how many Democrats vote against this version of the Patriot Act. My guess is that it’ll be very few, because they understand that what Karl Rove says about the 2006 election, depending on security issues is correct.

UP: the Judiciary Committee chairman, Arlen Specter. First he stands up to the trial lawyers for pushing limits on how much they can grab out of asbestos lawsuits, and then he stands up to the grandstanding comments of Democratic leader Harry Reid . Watch this.


U.S. SENATOR HARRY REID (D-NV), MINORITY LEADER: I’ll bet they’re jumping with joy today, these companies, some of whom we don’t know who they are, jumping with joy, because they were able to buy their way into the Senate.

U.S. SENATOR ARLEN SPECTER (R-PA), CHAIR, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: To accuse us of being the pawns of the lobbyists is beyond slander, beyond insult. It’s beyond outrage.


KONDRACKE: Pretty tough.

Reid is the, is the leader of the culture of corruption gang.


KONDRACKE: But now it turns out that he had a lot more contact with Jack Abramoff’s lobbyists, lobbying gang and got a lot more money from the tribes that Jack Abramoff represented — $68,000, than was previously known before. That’s going to hurt.

BARNES: Yes, not only that, one of his top legislative assistants when he left the Reid staff, he went to the law firm of Jack Abramoff.

But look, I’ll have to say, Specter has really been on a roll this year. I mean, he deserves a lot of credit for getting through John Roberts and, and Sam Alito as Supreme Court justices. You know, he said he would do that, and he certainly got them through, and it was not that easy. They were good nominees, but it took a strong, assertive Judiciary Committee chairman...

KONDRACKE: And look, this asbestos deal is a bipartisan deal with Patrick Leahy aboard, and the idea that the Democrats are going to represent it as corruption, they’re accusing their own people of corruption.

BARNES: Right. We’re continuing with our ups and downs for the week.

UP: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. She goes even further than President Bush in condemning violent protests sparked by cartoons satirizing the Prophet Muhammad. And she named names. Watch.


CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: Iran and Syria have gone out of their way to, to inflame sentiments and to use this to their own purposes. And the world ought to call them on it.


BARNES: I think she just did, call them on it, and did a good job. And she was stronger than President Bush, though you know, he would, he was fine.

But you know who is equal to Condi Rice on this is Prime Minister Rasmussen of Denmark. You know, it’s Denmark where the cartoons were originally published, months and months ago, that have really touched this thing off, or it’s actually touched off by Muslim clerics, who have used these cartoons to stir this stuff.

He’s a big backer, Rasmussen is, of the U.S. in Iraq, but he’s also one who’s not apologizing. He won’t accept the notion that somehow Denmark is, is intolerant and insensitive to Muslims and so on. What he says is, Look, we’re one of the most open and tolerant countries in the world and they’re, and he’s not going to give an inch and hasn’t. I like him.

KONDRACKE: Yes, but I’m, well, I’m surprised that you like Condi Rice so much. After all, she, I mean, well, she, you know, she’s not a neocon of, of the old time, she’s practicing a foreign policy that’s a lot like Colin Powell’s foreign policy, that, well, you know, you might call, The Wall Street Journal did call, neorealist. You know, she believes in diplomacy and all that kind of stuff.

BARNES: Right.

KONDRACKE: I don’t understand the difference.

BARNES: Mort, a crusade for democracy is not realist, it is idealist. It’s like President Bush. It’s what the neocons are. I’m just a con, I’m not a neocon.


UP: former president George Bush. Although civil rights leader Joseph Lowery and Jimmy Carter stole the headlines at the Coretta Scott King’s funeral, we thought that 41 was also in rare form. Here, take a look.


FORMER PRESIDENT GEORGE H.W. BUSH: I come from a rather conservative Episcopal parish. Never seen anything like this in my life.


GEORGE H.W. BUSH: Now, our world is a kinder and gentler place because of Coretta Scott King. Every step he and his followers subsequently made from Selma to the state house — may be your lucky day. I’ve lost a page.

Hey, look, here it is.



KONDRACKE: Yes. You know, I got pummeled by e-mails for this week for saying that the funeral crowd didn’t get uproarious at Joseph Lowery’s demagoguery about not finding weapons of mass destruction. I was totally wrong. The crowd ate the demagoguery up and gave him a standing ovation. I apologize, but not to the crowd.

BARNES: You know, George Bush, Sr., really was a nice, gracious man. And his comments were appropriate. The crowd loved him there, they laughed uproariously as I did. He was very unlike Jimmy Carter. I mean, look at the two as former presidents. They’re quite different. And I think Carter, rather than using a funeral to make snide and inappropriate political remarks, should follow the Bush model, and generally follow the Bush model as a former president.

Former presidents, the rule has always been, shouldn’t criticize their successors here or overseas. Carter does both of them.

KONDRACKE: DOWN: the D.C. city council, over its handling of the baseball stadium lease deal for the Washington Nationals. This, we have in what District of Columbia the Keystone Council. First they kick baseball out of town. Then they had an all-night meeting, and they, and with Marion Barry, of all people, in the lead, revive baseball.

But I’m afraid that the council is still going to contrive to somehow lose this, this great advantage for the District of Columbia, and along with it, thousands and thousands of jobs at the redevelopment of a blighted part of town is going to, you know, is going to bring about.

I mean, the, this city council is a disgrace, and one of the people who’s on the city council, of the worst of them, this guy Adrian Fenty, wants to be mayor. Not with my vote.

BARNES: You live in the district. I live in the suburbs, but we’re both season ticket holders to the games. And they reneged on the original deal. I mean, Major League Baseball really would like to be in Washington, particularly since they draw 2.5, 2.5 million fans at the old stadium last year.

This deal really has to go through, but somebody’s going to have to trample over the D.C. city council to do it.

KONDRACKE: And Mayor Williams deserves a lot of credit for, for pushing it through.

BARNES: Great, great mayor...

KONDRACKE: Great mayor. I’m sorry he’s not running for reelection.

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