Democrats Say They Don't Need to Be Unified on Iraq to Win in November

This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys," on June 17, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

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FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: Let's check out this week's "Ups and Downs."

UP: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. That's not something we've said very often, Mort. She has dispatched two big-time headaches in recent days. First, she convinced John Murtha to give up, for now at least, his campaign for majority leader should Democrats take over the House in November. And two, the Democratic caucus sided with Pelosi by kicking embattled Democratic Congressman William Jefferson off the Ways and Means Committee, and the full House moved to strip Jefferson of his committee seat Friday.

MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Well actually, there was another success on the part of Pelosi and Harry Reid, the Democratic leader in the Senate. They released their campaign agenda, domestic agenda for 2006. It's a little thin, it's two pages long, actually. And one page is an attack on Bush. So it's one page of bulletin points.

But there are two good ideas at least in here. One is to make college tuition deductible -- tax deductible. And the other is to eliminate oil and gas subsidies, and use the money instead to develop alternative fuel supplies. I think that's good.

BARNES: Well, Mort, all this money is already being pumped into these alternative fuel supplies, hydrogen cars, all that stuff. Don't get your hopes up.

If tuition is made tax deductible, what'll happen? You know as well as I do what'll happen. Colleges, as they always do, will just raise their tuition. And, you know, and charge more money.

You know what's not in that agenda? It's not in that agenda what Republicans -- what Democrats are really for, because they voted this way a number of times in recent years -- for getting rid of the Bush tax cuts, which have produced this extraordinary economy and jobs machine that is doing so much good for America. Democrats would get rid of that, and you know that that's not the right thing to do.

KONDRACKE: Well, getting rid of some of the tax cuts.



BARNES: Like the ones on dividends and on capital gains are destroying the economy.

KONDRACKE: We can't argue about it now.

UP: White House senior adviser Karl Rove. Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald announced this week that he will not indict Rove for his role in the CIA leak case. But the Democrats just can't let it go.



HOWARD DEAN, DNC CHAIRMAN: If Karl Rove had been indicted; it would have been for perjury. That does not excuse his real sin, which is leaking the name of an intelligence operative during a time of war. He doesn't belong in the White House.


BARNES: Well, he didn't even know the name of Joe Wilson's wife. He didn't release any name, and you know something you shouldn't do in a time of war? What Howard Dead did: tell our troops, "You can't win over there -- this is an unwinnable war." So Howard Dean shouldn't lecture on this.

Look, Patrick Fitzgerald never had a case against Karl Rove, and yet he dragged him before the grand jury for something like 25 hours. I think that's prosecutorial abuse. At least he didn't follow through on some indictment that would have been an embarrassment to Fitzgerald.

Did you notice at Bush's press conference how mad the press was? Two questions based on Rove not being indicted, and look, the press and Democrats are furious about this. Democrats wanted Rove out because they didn't want him around. Well, one, it would be an embarrassment to the White House. It would hurt Republicans going into November 7. And they didn't want him there strategizing, because he's by far the best strategist Republicans have probably ever hard.

Secondly, the press now takes its jobs into Watergate and Vietnam; its job is bringing down presidents. That's what they like to do; undermine is what Mike Barone said in Friday's "Wall Street Journal." And by getting rid of Rove, that is, that would be right on the path to bringing down the Bush presidency.

KONDRACKE: Well, I can't deny, actually, can't deny any of what you said. And what Howard Dean went on to say was that if Bush valued America instead of his connection to Karl Rove, he'd get rid of him. I think -- talk about -- I mean, the accusation of lacking patriotism is right there.

Now, there at least there was one Democrat, Joe Biden, who said, look, I was a prosecutor; I know what the pressure is on prosecutors to indict. He didn't indict, and as far as I'm concerned, that means he's innocent. That's a class act.


DOWN: Republican Congressman Jerry Lewis of California, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. The federal investigation into influence peddling hasn't stopped Lewis from shifting even more money to his district in the form of so-called earmarks. Just this week, Lewis inserted into a massive spending bill $500,000 for an athletic center, and another $500,000 more for a community pool, both projects in his district. That must be quite a swimming pool. Gee.

KONDRACKE: Well, and actually, it's gotten previous money, too. I think half a million dollars. Anyway, under the headline, "Earmarker in Chief," The Wall Street Journal wrote this about Jerry Lewis, "If Republicans aren't spooked by the Lewis investigation, they should be. Here is one of their major barons under investigation for the kind of high- handed spending favoritism that voters detest about Washington." Now Jeff Flake, a conservative from Arizona, tried to go after this swimming pool.

Do you know how many votes he got out of 435 numbers? Sixty-one total, including -- that's 60 besides himself. So these people, Democrats and Republicans, are addicted to earmarks.

BARNES: You know, Mort, what we need is not lobbying reform; we need congressional reform. They ought to outlaw earmarks entirely; they are an invitation to influence peddling and corruption. The time to get rid of them is now. But they're addictive. These members of Congress love them; they just can't get rid of them.

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