Ups and Downs for the Week of April 3

This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys," April 8, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

Watch "The Beltway Boys" Saturday at 6 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. ET and Sunday at 2:00 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. ET.

FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: Let’s check out our ups and downs, starting with DOWN: Democratic Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. After a week of incendiary press conferences, McKinney is finally forced to apologize for the scuffle with Capitol Hill police officers.

Here’s McKinney on the House floor Thursday.


REP. CYNTHIA MCKINNEY (D), GEORGIA: I come before this body to personally express, again, my sincere regret about the encounter with the Capitol Hill police. There should not have been any physical contact in this incident. I am sorry that this misunderstanding happened at all, and I regret its escalation. And I apologize.


JUAN WILLIAMS, GUEST CO-HOST: Too little too late, Fred.

BARNES: I noticed she did have her pin on finally.

WILLIAMS: She’s an embarrassment at this point to the Democrats. The point of this for her is, you know, it’s so sad that so many people are having to sacrifice their credibility to stand by her. You saw those people standing around her.

What’s going on here, these people are not just biting their tongues, they’re biting through their tongues not to say the obvious, that she is a power player here and that the Capitol policeman is not the power player, and she abused that trust. She didn’t have on the pin. She had a different look. He asked her to stop, a command. She refused to stop, and he tried to stop her. That’s what the officer’s supposed to do.


WILLIAMS: So you know, the GOP may be delighting in her troubles. I wish that wasn’t true. But there’s no distracting from the DeLay scandal anyway.

BARNES: Yes, I know. I don’t think they’re going to get anywhere with that. I mean, obviously, she’s not in charge of Congress or the Democratic Party or anything else.

But you know, a funny thing happened. On the way to apologize, she had this — one of her bodyguards, maybe her only bodyguard, who had a scuffle of his own with a reporter. It didn’t amount to much. But on the other hand, it didn’t look that great when she was on the way to apologize, which is a halfhearted apology, anyway and didn’t apologize directly to the police officer, which she should have.

You know, fortunately for her, but she has some close colleagues who want to help her.

WILLIAMS: They do.

BARNES: And they had the people like John Lewis, the congressman from Atlanta, who told her, basically, tone it down or even worse, keep quiet. Be silent for a while; no more press conferences. No more TV appearance. That is very good advice.

WILLIAMS: She is hurting the Democrat Party.

DOWN: Treasury Secretary John Snow. The White House continues to let him twist in the wind as rumors of Snow’s eminent departure wreak a feverish pitch in the Capitol. And now even President Bush is starting to show some distance.

BARNES: The truth is, John Snow has not been treated shabbily by the White House ever since he became treasury secretary, I think, in 2003, and it continues. Check out the difference — I think is what you’re referring to — check out the difference to the way the president, well, first talks about another controversial cabinet member, Donald Rumsfeld. Look at this one first.


PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: No, I don’t believe he should resign. And he’s done a fine job of not only conducting two battles, Afghanistan and Iraq, but also transforming our military, which has been a very difficult job inside the Pentagon.


BARNES: And now compare that with this Bush statement on John Snow.


BUSH: He has been a valuable member of my administration, and I trust his judgment and appreciate his service.


BARNES: Notice, past tense.

WILLIAMS: I got it. I got it.

BARNES: Anyway, my guess is Snow will be thrown overboard. Because what they want to do at the White House is really get a whole new economic policy.

The president is desperate to find someone, some major financial figure or corporate CEO or something, who can convince the country that the economy is really in great shape, which it is, and also have some clout on Wall Street. But the problem for the White House is they haven’t been — they haven’t been able to find somebody like that, willing to take the job.

WILLIAMS: Well, two things on this. One very quickly. You know what? The economic numbers are good numbers. But it’s not translating at the kitchen table. I think people feel that in their lives they’re having to work two jobs, stretch the dollar a little farther, so it’s just not working, not connecting.

I’m not sure that replacing John Snow is going to be the ticket here. I think you are going to see some shakeups. What I’m hearing around is there’s going to be shakeups.

Of course, Josh Bolten, the new White House chief of staff, is going to bring in someone to replace him. He’s going to have to bring in a new congressional liaison. You might see Joe Hagin, who’s the deputy chief of staff, leave. Time for him to go.

But I don’t think there’s any chance we’re going to see Condi Rice, Alberto Gonzales over at Justice and Cheney. I think they’re around. The only question is what about Rumsfeld? I don’t know.

BARNES: No, I think he’s safe.

UP: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who we just mentioned. She showed some real and rare candor by admitting the administration made perhaps thousands of tactical errors in the Iraq war. But the overall goal, she said, of ousting Saddam was the right to do.

WILLIAMS: Well, you know, I don’t know how you can argue with what she said. I mean, remember, it was Rumsfeld’s team that put up that "mission accomplished." Right?

I mean, obviously, the enemy that we are fighting now is not the enemy that we thought we were fighting when we went in. I think there are a number of strategic errors, but the larger issue, which she said, is that we replace Saddam Hussein.

BARNES: And that was right after. I think you can argue with the thousands. That was probably an error on her part. But anyway, the president should be happy — alarmed about his two major figures of his cabinet are bickering in public. Here’s what Rumsfeld said in response on a radio interview.

And what it said was, "The enemy watches what you do and then adjusts to that, so you have to constantly adjust and change your tactics. If someone says, ‘Well, that’s a tactical mistake,’ then I guess that’s a lack of understanding of what warfare is all about."

Someone meaning Condoleezza Rice.

WILLIAMS: Well, you know, I think that Donald Rumsfeld is great at office politics, and he’s, like, you know, giving her a little nudge there, "Back up, sister." You know what I mean? But I think she’s right, and I don’t think she should back up one step.

BARNES: All right.

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