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This is a full transcript from "The Beltway Boys," on February 17, 2007.
MORT KONDRACKE, "ROLL CALL": Coming up on THE BELTWAY BOYS, President Bush gets rebuked from Congress over Iraq. But the real fight is yet to come. We'll explain.
FRED BARNES, "WEEKLY STANDARD": Rudy Giuliani has the big mo in the 2008 race. We'll tell you what's behind the Rudy boomlet.
KONDRACKE: Week one as an official candidate, and Barack Obama is already getting huffy with the press.
ARNES: And speaking of huffy, what's the deal with Vladimir Putin? We'll tell you what's behind his latest outburst.
KONDRACKE: That's all straight ahead on THE BELTWAY BOYS, but first, the headlines.
KONDRACKE: I'm Mort Kondracke.
BARNES: I'm Fred Barnes. And we're THE BELTWAY BOYS. And the "Hot Story" tonight, warm-up act, Mort. After all the theatrics over the House antiwar resolution which passed on Friday and the non-debate over the war in the Senate, we're finally getting down to what really matters. And that is the Democratic effort to block Bush's surge of troops going into Iraq, and indeed to shut down America's combat role in Iraq altogether. House Democrats, heaven forbid, don't want to do it frontally by cutting funding directly. What they want to do is they have come up with a plan authored by John Murtha, the congressman from Pennsylvania, very much against the war, a plan that would have them do it indirectly by setting limits on troops being newly deployed to Iraq, which would have the same effect. It would draw down America's funds and troops and so on in Iraq. Listen to Martha - rather, Murtha, he explains it as well as anyone, I guess.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN MURTHA, (D) PA: The troops have to be equipped, they have to be trained. They can't be sent back without a year at home. They can't be extended. And we have to eliminate the stop loss. So what we're trying to do is make sure people understand we're supporting the troops, we're protecting your troops, but on the other hand, we're going to stop this surge.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BARNES: Not only the serge, they would block the combat role entirely by American forces. Now the White House really didn't make that much of an effort because they knew it was a loser, against that resolution in the House on Friday, but they're ready to fight now. Listen to President Bush.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, U.S. PRESIDENT: Soon the Congress is going to vote on a piece of legislation that is binding. A bill to provide emergency funding for our troops. Our men and women in uniform are counting on their elected leaders to provide them with the support they need to accomplish their mission.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BARNES: See what the president is saying. He's saying, look, if you're going to support the troops as Democrats say they are, you've got to vote to fund the troops. And this is an argument he's going to use. I think Democrats have put themselves potentially in a bad situation, the same situation that Republicans put themselves in in the 1990s, remember when they impeached President Clinton and it backfired. In other words, back then they had an exaggerated view of what their mandate was. I think Democrats have overinterpreted the results of the 2006 election and are now trying to do a lot more to get out of Iraq than the voters actually wanted and it may backfire on them.
KONDRACKE: Our latest Fox poll shows an astounding 54 percent would vote against more funding for the war. Frankly, I find that difficult to believe, but numbers like that may encourage the Democrats to think they do have the public on their side. And this Murtha resolution is clever in that it pretends to be pro-troops and anti-war, in reality would deny troops that are already in the field fighting for their lives the reinforcements they need in order to survive and possibly win. Look, I think this is a major test of just how far left the Democratic Party is on all this. What does Hillary Clinton do about this? What does the great uniter, not a divider, Barack Obama do? Or the foreign policy expert Joe Biden and Chris Dodd and so on. They probably will ultimately have to vote on all this stuff or at least they will have to say how they are going to—how they stand on it. And the question basically boils down to this: is this the party of John F. Kennedy or is it the party of moveon.org.
BARNES: Right now, it's the party of moveon.org and it has certainly moved heavily in that direction. Now, OK, that was Iraq that's an issue between Bush and Democrats. Also, Iran turned out this week, this past week, to be an issue just in the same way. Look, in a perfectly straightforward and clear and I thought credible fashion, the president at his press conference pointed out that an Iraqi government agency, the Quds force, is sending weapons to Iraqis who are using—Iraqi militias, Shiite militias, presumably, and are using them to kill American forces. You would have thought, Mort, that he had declared war on Iran and was about to unleash the bombers to go bomb Tehran. Hillary Clinton, the senator from New York responded by knocking down a straw man. First, however, listen to Bush. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: Whether Ahmadinejad ordered the Quds Force to do this, I don't think we know. But we do know that they're there. And I intend to do something about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BARNES: Hillary has her doubts. Watch Hillary Clinton.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) NY: It would be a mistake of historical proportion if the administration thought that the 2002 resolution authorizing force against Iraq was a blank check for the use of force against Iran without further congressional authorization.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BARNES: Boy, there was a leap there, didn't you think, from what the president announced. But look, based on no evidence, other Democrats have raised doubts about the credibility of the intelligence behind the president's claim that Iran was selling these weapons there. And they've also suggested that the president, as Hillary is suggesting, that the president is creating a pretext for an invasion of Iran. There is just no evidence of this. Look, it is clear. The Iranians are doing what they have historically done, and that is to send weapons to their allies and clients around the Middle East. They armed Hezbollah, they have sent weapons to the Palestinians, and now they are doing the same thing with Iraqi militias that are Shiites like they are.
KONDRACKE: You know, these explosively formed penetrators that can kill a main battle tank were used by Hezbollah against the Israeli tanks in Lebanon, from Iran. That's where they got them, from Iran. And also there's evidence that the Iranians have supplied to Shiite militias, Austrian-made sniper rifles that can kill—and have killed, as a matter of fact, some Americans at a distance of 1,000 meters. So there's lots of precedent for this, and most senators ought to know that and recognize it. But I have a question. I don't know what Bush is going to do about this. Do you think that President Bush is going to launch either an invasion of Iran or bomb its nuclear installation before he leaves office?
BARNES: No, I don't. I don't think he has plans for that.
KONDRACKE: OK. Well, there are people around town who want him to and expect him to. I don't either. I think what he's doing is finding every opportunity to ratchet up military pressure and economic pressure, political pressure, in order to get a coalition together of the Europeans to negotiate reductions in his—or elimination of his nuclear program as happened in North Korea. Now I hope that's what he's doing and I think that's what he is doing but the Democrats don't trust him, they don't trust the intelligence so what they're doing is expressing fear. And I don't think it does them any good politically, actually.
BARNES: I don't either.
KONDRACKE: OK. Coming up. Fresh signs that the love fest between Barack Obama and the press is beginning to fade. Stick around. Our ups and downs are next.
KONDRACKE: Welcome back to THE BELTWAY BOYS. Let's check the ups and downs for the week. Up, Rudy Giuliani. Forget about Barack Obama. Rudy Giuliani is the new "it" candidate in the 2008 race. The latest Fox poll shows that Giuliani is leading his nearest competitor, John McCain by 25 points. He was leading by just two points back in December. I said last week that I didn't think that Giuliani could get the Republican nomination because of social views, and it is still true that a plurality of voters don't know that he's pro-choice, for example. But he keeps climbing, so maybe he can get the Republican nomination. But if so, I ask you, will there be a right-to-life third party candidate running against him? And I would point out to you that Ralph Nader who cost Al Gore the presidency in 2000 now says that he might get in if Hillary Clinton is the nominee.
BARNES: I think there would be a right-to-life contained if Giuliani is the Republican nominee, and a right to life candidate who would get more votes than Ralph Nader would so it would be a bigger threat to the Republican side than Nader would be to the Democratic side. Look, Giuliani is gradually moving to the right on social issues, not repudiating his earlier views but really trying to defuse them, by, for instance, saying he is for strict constructionist judges, without saying—leaving the impression nonetheless that gee, maybe these would be the judges who would overturn Roe v. Wade, remember, the decision that legalized abortion. So this may work. Now look, a lot of people in the media in particular, and maybe you, Mort, at least in the past thought that any right-to-lifer, anybody who opposed abortion would never vote for Giuliani. And that has never been true. I think a lot of them look at Giuliani and say, OK, I know those are his views, but I'm voting for him for other reasons. He's a leader. He's been tested in a crisis and he stood tall the way no other candidates have, and maybe they haven't had a chance to do that, but here's a guy with proven leadership. And these polls - look, I think the polls are meaningless, but that was a meaningless poll with more meaning than usual. Enough to say that. All right. Down, Illinois Senator Barack Obama. Obama has been given a free ride by the mainstream media so far, but his testy behavior with reporters has some on the campaign trail questioning whether the first term senator is ready for a national campaign. Well, look, here's what he showed. He's as thin-skinned as all the rest of the politicians who we write about and talk about and generally like, he showed that he's merely mortal. And the press has been lavishing the praise for him but he's still thin-skinned like the rest. Now look, here's how we should judge Barack Obama, as a candidate for president, not by his temperament. Not by - even by his experience. I think - it's pretty skimpy for a guy running for president, for sure, two years in the Senate, but by whether he is who he says he is. He says he is a uniter, not a divider. He has said he is someone who wants bipartisanship. He is someone who wants to depolarize politics in America, particularly in Washington and more particularly in the Senate. So far he has done nothing that I know of to live up to that role. He has talked the talk, I want to see him walk the walk.
KONDRACKE: Well, that's well said. Look, what everything depends on, what he stands for and in order to solve America's problems, you have got to solve them on a bipartisan basis, and he has got to be willing to be middle of the road enough to attract Republicans in order to solve the entitlement problem, and whatever, environment, all that stuff has got to be solved on a bipartisan basis. And this flap with the press - Maureen Dowd - having Maureen Dowd on your case because she bites and she bites for a long time. Anyway, what she said was that, "For a man who couldn't wait to inject himself into the national arena and who has spent so much time writing books about himself, the senator is oddly put off by press inquisitiveness." Now what really happened is that Barack Obama just went off on the press sort of gratuitously, saying you're not paying enough attention to what I'm saying and you're putting me on the cover of "People" magazine with my bathing suit on. Etc., etc. But Maureen Dowd said this is a guy who posed for the cover of "Men's Vogue" magazine, who does he think he is? Hannah Arendt, the great philosopher? That was a great line.
BARNES: That was a great line. Coming up, what's really behind Vladimir Putin's in your face speech against the U.S. Stick around, more ups and downs are next.
KONDRACKE: Welcome back to THE BELTWAY BOYS! We're continuing with the ups and downs. Up, President Bush. He stuck to his guns, that any talk with the North Koreans over their nuclear program had to be multi-lateral and it worked. Pyongyang says it's ready to shut down its nuclear program in exchange for foreign aid. But not everybody is on board. Here's former UN ambassador John Bolton on Fox just a few days ago. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BOLTON, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UN: I don't think there is any possibility that the North Koreans are going to honor the most critical part of this long term process. In fact, that's the best thing you can say about this deal is there are so many things not covered that hopefully it will break down quickly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BARNES: Mort, as you know, I'm a great admirer of John Bolton, and look, the North Koreans are not to be trusted. But this is different. The Bush deal here is different from the one that President Clinton made back in the 1990s, that was violated by the North Koreans which they let on to years later that they were violating. This deal is different, one, because it's multi-lateral. It's not just between the U.S. and North Korea. The Chinese are in this. And the North Koreans are going to be very wary of violating some deal with the Chinese who are their benefactor. I think it is going to be hard for them. And also the rewards, this fuel oil they want, most of it is back loaded, they have to deliver first or they won't get it.
KONDRACKE: And the Democrats all said we should have gone hat in hand to the North Koreans a long time ago. John Bolton says no deal with North Korea, and short of surrender is good enough deal. And I think Bush has split the middle here and he did it through coercive diplomacy with a lot of help from the Chinese. The Chinese cut fuel oil off from the North Koreans for a whole month, which is a lot for them, after they tried the nuclear test. And what I hope Bush could somehow do is convince the Europeans to be as tough on the Iranians as the Chinese were on the North Koreans and we could get someplace.
BARNES: Yeah. Might work. All right. Down, Russian President Vladimir Putin. President Bush is trying to downplay his remarks, that's Putin's remarks, but Putin's smack down of U.S. foreign policy last weekend continues to perplex. Even you? It does perplex me.
KONDRACKE: It doesn't really—Just in its extremity. It basically it sounded almost like a declaration of war, not quite, but it was every insult he could possibly hurl. And it was the pot calling the kettle black. He's the dictator, for heaven's sakes. He's in line with all these bad guys in the world, the Venezuelans and the Iranians and so on. I mean, this guy is no friend of the United States.
And what he wants to do is form a gang in order to countervail United States power.
BARNES: I know. He's not a friend of the U.S. He's a dictator, a fairly week dictator, but there's no percentage in President Bush getting in some international shouting match with him, and Bush refused to do that at his press conference a few days ago. I think that upset the reporters. They wanted the president to fire back. Instead, the U.S. has done pretty well in getting the Russians to go along with not strong sanctions against the Iranians—look, it's better than nothing. They're not great. The sanctions are not great. I admit, you already talked about them. But at least it's more than I thought they would get from the Russians, sanctions on North Korea and on the Iranians.
KONDRACKE: OK. Up, former Vice President Al Gore, two Oscar nods and a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize aren't enough for the former vice president, he's now working on a new title, concert promoter. Gore will be promoting his views on global climate change with the likes of Bon Jovi and Sting in a series of live concerts around the world this summer.
BARNES: Are you going?
KONDRACKE: No. Look, I saw the Gore movie and I think it's hysterical in its exaggeration, probable exaggeration of the problem, and in the fact that there are very few suggestions on what to do. On the other hand, there's an international consensus that you cannot deny that, one, CO2 emissions into the atmosphere have gone up by something like 33 percent since the middle of the last century, the temperature is rising, they're going up in parallel. And 75 percent of the academic studies on this subject say there's no question that main-made activity, man's activity, is the cause of this warming trend.
BARNES: Before I cite some other evidence, contrary evidence, Mort, I want to show you a poll that Fox did that shows that Al Gore, a whopping 64 percent don't want Gore to run in '08, including 53 percent of Democrats. There's another poll I'm not sure I believe but it should be discouraging to Gore. Now look, Mort, this UN body, the IPCC came out with a new report. And what they did actually was back down from some of their dire projections they had in the past. They used to say at the end of the century, or something, the sea level would rise three feet. And now they say 17 inches. You know what Al Gore says it will rise? Twenty feet. There was their high end estimate. The oceans are actually warming now. But here's the biggest problem, Mort.
KONDRACKE: They are warming.
BARNES: And there's no reliable—I'm sorry, cooling. The oceans are now cooling. There's no reliable climate model. There isn't one to make these projections that Al Gore makes and your consensus of scientists make because they have 12 climate factors and they don't even trust seven of them. So you have to be very wary.
KONDRACKE: President Bush has come around to believing that there's a connection. Stay right where you are. "The Buzz" is up next.
KONDRACKE: Here's "The Buzz" Fred, AARP, the seniors' lobby, is actually—believes that Social Security benefits for future retirees need to be cut as part of an overall solution to the problem. So there's a deal to be had if you can get the administration and Congress to begin talking about this. And Lindsey Graham, senator from South Carolina, and Joe Lieberman from Connecticut have a program to do it.
BARNES: Got to have private investment accounts or there's no sense doing any deals.
KONDRACKE: On top of social security.
BARNES: No, no. As a part of Social Security. Look, Mort, 17 Republicans voted for that anti-war resolution in the House, that was actually good. Republican leaders thought there might be twice as many. So 17 wasn't that bad. All right. That's all for THE BELTWAY BOYS this week. Join us next week when the boys will be back in town. And stick around. FOX NEWS WATCH is straight ahead.
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