This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys," on August 12, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.
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MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Let's check on our "Ups and Downs" for the week.
Down: Hillary Clinton. After dismissing Lieberman, the anti-war Lieberman is turning up the heat on Hillary's support for the Iraq war, and she is responding in spades.
One evidence of the kind of heat that she's under is — was this letter from Michael Moore to Hillary that said, quote: "You and Joe" — that's Lieberman — "have been Bush's biggest Democratic supporters of the war. Last night's voter revolt took place just a few miles from your home in Chappaqua. Did you hear the noise? Can you see the writing on the wall?"
Now, look, Hillary Clinton has not been supporting Bush on the war the way Joe Lieberman did. I mean, Hillary has been critical from the get go, and the only thing she did was to say that setting a deadline for a withdrawal was a bad idea. And she got booed for that. But, you know.
BARNES: You were there.
KONDRACKE: Yes. I mean, the other day she called for Don Rumsfeld to resign and so on. And then she also quickly gave money to the Ned Lamont campaign to get on the good side of the Democrats.
And the problem for her is that the latest FOX poll shows that 58 percent of American voters want U.S. troops out of Iraq by the end of the year. And 33 percent want us to stay until the Iraqis are ready to take over. And only 4 percent say that we should send more troops, which is my position.
But breaking that down by part, 76 percent of Democrats want the troops out by the end of the year, while the majority of Republicans — 63 percent — want us to stay the Iraqis are ready.
BARNES: Oh, you were for more troops?
KONDRACKE: Yes. Sure. That's been a theme.
KONDRACKE: That's the McCain position.
BARNES: Yes. OK.
KONDRACKE: OK. Now the problem for Hillary is that this is a character issue. You know, is she going to run a general election campaign where — you know, a moderate campaign and stand up to the left wingers in her party, or is she going to respond to this kind of pressure? And so far, it indicates that she is going to respond to the pressure.
BARNES: Yes. Well, that's for sure. Mort, maybe you know something I don't, but I don't know where she really stands on Iraq, what she thinks about it or what she would do as president on Iraq. All I know is, she voted for the war, and ever since then, she's been criticizing the war, the conduct of the war. And no war goes perfectly. So she's sort of had it both ways. But she's been moving, I agree, toward the anti-war position. There's no question about that.
But what hurts her is now — I mean, anything she does now is seen as purely political that will help her one way or another get the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008. And that does make it a character issue; I think you're right.
Up: The so-called "Netroots": The community of liberal bloggers now claim Joe Lieberman as their first big kill this election season.
Now, I think political bloggers are important. But on the other hand, they're still about the most overrated phenomenon I've ever seen in politics. They did help Ned Lamont — no question about it — at the beginning. He was rich but a nobody in Connecticut. And he was running against Lieberman. And we all thought he wasn't going to get anywhere. And they helped get him on the map and get his campaign started.
But on the other hand, they don't reach a big enough universe to really be a huge factor in politics, even though they think they are a huge factor in politics. I think the great thing about all those liberal bloggers is that they're helping Republicans Helping Republicans because their big goal is to drive the Democratic Party further and further to the left.
Well, look, I think that they're a rising force in politics. I don't know whether they're going to rise to their full potential or — what they want to do, obviously, is to be to the Democratic Party what the radio talk shows are to the Republican Party. It's a rallying point.
BARNES: Yes, but radio talk shows reach a lot more people.
KONDRACKE: OK. But, you know, more and more people are going to get computers all the time, and the bloggers figure that people have nothing better to do than to sit there and sound off with their political opinions.
But there's no question but what they are driving the party to the left, and that is a help to the Republicans.
BARNES: Did you say that?
KONDRACKE: But I think that the radio talk show community has driven the Republican Party to the right, which is not good.
BARNES: Well, look, in a center-right country, you'd rather be driven to the right than to the left.
KONDRACKE: Us moderates have to invent a medium.
BARNES: You'll have to.
But did you see what that blogger did in that picture of blackface of Joe Lieberman? It didn't.
KONDRACKE: Oh my God.
BARNES: Take a look at that.
BARNES: This was not a made up. This was what one of the bloggers supporting Ned Lamont did.
I think in the long run or maybe — or even the short run of this campaign — liberal bloggers, left-wing bloggers are going to get Democrats in trouble again. That didn't help; Lamont won anyway. But isn't that an amazing picture?
KONDRACKE: Yes. Jeez.
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