Transcript: 'The Beltway Boys,' April 14, 2007

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This is a full transcript from "The Beltway Boys," on April 14, 2007.

MORT KONDRACKE, "ROLL CALL": Coming up on "The Beltway Boys," Don Imus pays dearly for his racially charged comments. Is his punishment fair, or is he the victim of a double standard?

FRED BARNES, "WEEKLY STANDARD": Race also colored the Duke lacrosse case. We'll tell you why the presumption of innocence for the students went out the window.

KONDRACKE: John McCain continues to stand firm on the Iraq war.

BARNES: And we'll tell you why Rudy Giuliani's pro-choice position is coming back to haunt him. KONDRACKE: All that's coming up on "The Beltway Boys." But first, the headlines from New York.


KONDRACKE: I'm Mort Kondracke.

BARNES: And I'm Fred Barnes, and we're "The Beltway Boys." "Hot Story": "I-Mess." You got that? You know, I-Man, Don Imus, "I-Mess."

KONDRACKE: I got it. Yes. Yes.

BARNES: Because he has - he obviously has left a - a mess behind after he was hired - fired from his talk radio show on - on CBS. It was also nationally televised on MSNBC. Canned from both. He's gone now, and - and the truth is he - he does leave a mess behind. I mean, for years he - he got away with this offensive talk and this trash talk and - and really, a lot of racially innuendo and racial slurs. And nothing happened to him until, finally, he - he went after - with racial language this perfectly innocent young women who are on the Rutgers basketball team, a team that had had a wonderful season and deserved nothing but praise. Then the advertisers bailed, and boy, that was it for Don Imus. But here's what he leaves behind: One, he leaves behind questions about free speech and whether there was a double standard set in his case, and I think there probably was. That doesn't exonerate him, but I think it was there. And - and then he leaves behind this question, Mort: why was he allowed to do this for years and years and years on radio and television without anybody really making an effort to force him to clean up his language or - or take a hike. You know, I think Imus and everything he did is only a reflection of something that is much bigger in America, and that's this low-life, trashy, sex-and-violence-drenched culture that has really come to dominate in many ways public life in America. It's all over - I mean, it is our pop culture now. And it - it's just a - reached a level of - of even - of - of we see it in bad manners and incivility in just our public life and people getting along. And it is sad to say, but I think the people who went after Imus, and in particular the Revs. Al Sharpton and - and Jesse Jackson have done nothing - zilch, zip - to deal with this much broader cultural problem in America. Now they represent the black community; that's where it's probably the worst, and has - and has the worst effect. It - it - and I think it's the worst in our music industry. Now I want to single out on person in particular, our buddy Juan Williams, who has gone after this broader cultural problem. Watch what Juan said about the music industry in particular.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JUAN WILLIAMS, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: And these people, the musicians, the whole music industry, is willing to disparage black people to put them in the worst possible light because they're selling it I think to people who want an invitation, want an excuse, to enjoy racial stereotypes.


KONDRACKE: Yes. You know, the more I read about all the slurs - I gave up watching - listening to Imus a long, long time ago because he was a potty mouth. But - you know, and I didn't realize that - how racially - filled with racial slurs he was, and ethnic slurs and slurs against gays and all - all that stuff. And I - so I think he - he got what he deserved. And you're - look, you're absolutely right about the - the sleaze, and you - and Juan is, too - in - in American society. I think at the top of the list, or maybe the bottom of the list, is the song "Hard Out There for a Pimp" by the group - by the group Three Six Mafia that actually got an Academy Award in 2005. And here's some of the - the - the lyrics, which I will not - I will not attempt to read. It's - it's rap - rap lyrics. But.


KONDRACKE: .you get - you get the impression.

BARNES: (INAUDIBLE), don't you?

KONDRACKE: I'm - I'm - I'm sorry I don't. Now I do not recall Al Sharpton and - and Jesse Jackson appearing at the - at the Academy Awards with protest signs out to say that this was demeaning to African-Americans. Now the - the gangsta rapper Snoop Dogg defended all this kind of stuff, by claiming that - quote - "rappers are not talking about no collegiate basketball girls who have made it to the level of education and sports. We're talking about the hos in the hood, and that ain't" - blank - "that are trying to get" the n-word "for - for his money." I mean, you know, they're.

BARNES: Mort - Mort, I just want to tell you, you're never going to make it as a rapper.

KONDRACKE: No, I'm not going to make it as a rapper. And - you know, what - what Snoop Dogg is - is absolute garbage. I mean, the - the - the what the rap - rap music and - and videos are all over TV, especially MTV and - and BET. And ordinary African-American kids and white kids, as a matter of fact, too, are subjected to this kind of stuff. And they're not making distinctions about real prostitutes and not. They - they have this impression of African-American women in the main. And it's violent, and it's misogynist. And - and - you know, and it's - and it's deplorable. Now here's just one last clip from the - the group crime mob. And this this is currently in the top 10. Warning to everybody: it's bad.




BARNES: I don't know what to make of that. What should I? I mean, that - that wasn't exactly "Moon River" or "Que Sera Sera." Those were songs that won Academy Awards some years ago. Look, Mort, we have free speech in America, but that doesn't mean that we have to have a race to the bottom culturally just to sell whatever sells. Just - and in particular, as you pointed out, do we have to sell this trash to our children, in particular. Because they're the ones who are the biggest consumers of pop culture. All I watch on TV now is sports. And I don't listen to the radio much, just use tapes. Mort, you remember years ago, Daniel Bell at Harvard. You - you were at Harvard for a year, you probably took one of his classes, as I did. But he wrote a book called "The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism." And his point was that in a free-market society where we have great prosperity, we also have things like prostitution and - and - and we could have a - a totally debauched popular culture. And I don't think we have to - but it isn't something that is required by capitalism. We don't have to allow this to happen. And - and - and I'd like to see some people who complained about Don Imus step forward and - and protest it. Then they can have some impact.

KONDRACKE: Yes, I'd like to see them protest TV sitcoms, which are all about sexual innuendo. I mean, it's how fast can you get somebody into bed. If you go on cable, you can find full-frontal nudity and the - and the f-word used with - with abandon. And, you know, what - what - what happened with Howard Stern, who has even got a filthier mouth than - than Don Imus ever did is that he went to satellite radio, where he made $200 million. I predict that - that Don Imus will follow him there and probably get rich as a result of this whole thing.

BARNES: He - he probably will. Now Mort, you know, we're not going to have outright censorship in America, though it might not be a bad idea. It's not going to happen. But we can have regulation. And we have the public airwaves; we have the Federal Communications Commission. And they were the ones who - who fined Howard Stern. There's so much more that they can do to insist on, and - and at least the broadcast networks can respond. We can go back to having a family hour, rather than that to 8-to9 period, which is now the smutty hour. In other words, we do not have to accept the culture that's thrust on us and our children right now.

KONDRACKE: Yes, well, you know, every once in a while, there is a moment when - when some politician stands up and - and - and complains about this. And you remember Al Gore and Tipper Gore went after the record industry, and then they were - then they were so afraid of losing the Democratic youth vote that they - that they.

BARNES: And the Hollywood money.

KONDRACKE: Right, and they completely backed off of it. You know, and you - and you had all these politicians, many of them upstanding people, appearing on Don Imus and - and listening to this stuff, and sort of towel-snapping with him. You know, what - what is required is for the Barack Obamas and the Hillary Clintons and the - and everybody else to - to rise up against their Hollywood patrons. I'll - I'll wait to see if that happens.

BARNES: Here! Here!

KONDRACKE: OK, coming up, a closer look at the rush to judgment in the Duke lacrosse case, and who, if anybody, is going to pay the price.


BARNES: Welcome back to "The Beltway Boys." Let's check out our "Ups and Downs" for the week. Down: Durham District AttorneyMike Nifong. He may have apologized, but the disgraced DA may still face a lawsuit after dragging the names of those innocent Duke lacrosse players through the mud. Here's North Carolina's attorney general, and one of the players, Wednesday.


ROY COOPER, NORTH CAROLINA ATTORNEY GENERAL: The Durham district attorney pushed forward unchecked. There were many points in this case where caution would have served justice better than bravado.



READE SELIGMANN, FORMER DUKE LACROSSE PLAYER: This entire experience has opened up my eyes to a tragic world of injustice I never knew existed. If police officers and a district attorney can systemically railroad us without absolutely no evidence whatsoever, I can't imagine what they'd do to people who do not have the resources to defend themselves.


BARNES: Mort, this was the worst case of prosecutorial abuse by Nifong that I have ever seen before. I mean, it was clear almost from the beginning that these Duke lacrosse players - and three of them were indicted, of course - Seligmann was one of them - that they were innocent. I mean, we knew that almost immediately. Yet Nifong pushed for indictments and got them, and - but it was clear all along - and I think I said so, and you did, too - that he could never put the accuser on the witness stand. She told so many different stories, and - and - and - had had such a horrible record and a disheveled life - I mean, she was a totally unreliable witness. So he could never successfully take these cases to court. And - and by the way, I would hate to have to rely in a pinch on Duke President Richard Brodhead, or the faculty of Arts & Sciences at Duke if I needed help in a pinch. I mean, when the going got tough, they went after the victims. And the victims in this case were the three Duke lacrosse players who were charged. Boy, I mean, Duke ought to be embarrassed, and it - the - the Duke president and the Duke faculty members have some apologies to make.

KONDRACKE: Well, look, there's no question about what - this is a horrible abuse of justice. But Reade Seligmann is exactly right; you know, these kids had the benefit of having resources and parents and - and expensive lawyers and stuff like that. And they went after and they dug up the truth in this case and got themselves completely exonerated. What happens to people with - with - with lesser means? I mean, there's - there's something called the Innocence Project that tracks, and it promotes DNA examinations to - to solve crimes. And there have been 198 prisoners who have been freed since 1989 using DNA evidence. And 14 were on death row and might have executed had it not been for - for their exculpation. The average time that they spent in jail was 12 years for crimes that they did not commit, and 70 percent of them were - were minorities. Now this - this suggests, as he said, that - that there's a lot of injustice that goes on in - in the prosecutorial system.

BARNES: Yes, I would say in this case, since there was a total lack of evidence against the Duke players, they would have gotten off even if they had had lousy lawyers. Which they didn't; they had great lawyers.

KONDRACKE: Well, if they - if they had gotten the wrong kind of jury, you - you never can tell.

BARNES: The DNA evidence exculpated them.

KONDRACKE: All right. Down: U.S. troops. The mission in Iraq is getting more and more dangerous for U.S. troops, who have just had their deployments extended, while at home, Congress and the White House continue to play politics over a funding bill. Now, you know, President Bush is probably going to succeed in blocking the Congress from imposing a hard deadline on - with - for withdrawal of troops. But there is a kind of a deadline de facto. And the - the deadline is, when and if the - the political system in the United States does not support the president's police anymore, to the point where Republicans start condemning his - his policy, and then force a - force a withdrawal. And that's why - and it's to advance that date that the enemy in - in Iraq is pulling these spectacular attacks in - in Baghdad and elsewhere. The other factor is, how long can we sustain this surge? You know, and the suggestion that we have to - the policy that we have to extend the troop tours indicates that there is a - there is a timeline for this. Now, I don't like this; I don't like this at all. But the fact is, I think that Bush has till about the end of this year - he and - and David Petraeus - to produce dramatic results, or else we're going to be forced to pull out.

BARNES: Mort - Mort, here's what we need first - you know what we - we need? We need an honest narrative about what's going on in Iraq. Not the one that the media and Democrats insist on, and that's the one that says we've already lost in Iraq, and Bush is following the same old failed policy. I mean, that's just not true. We have a new strategy: counterinsurgency. A new general: David Petraeus, as you said. And now the possibility - not the guarantee - but the possibility of victory there. Now I'd like to hear one of these Democratic critics step forward and explain why it's just simply too late to have - have a new strategy, and explain why counterinsurgency, which worked famously in Vietnam, just can't work here. But they don't won't touch that. You know why? Because they want to stick to this one narrative that we've already lost there, because that serves their political purposes. It makes Bush unpopular; it makes Republicans unpopular. And they're going to stick with that no matter what happens in Iraq, whatever Petraeus can pull off.

KONDRACKE: And it becomes.

BARNES: It's dishonest.

KONDRACKE: And it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy is the problem.

BARNES: Well, I don't think it does. But I hope - at least I hope not. Maybe you're right. Coming up, John McCain makes an impassioned case for victory in Iraq. We'll tell you if it'll boost his presidential prospects.


KONDRACKE: Welcome back to "The Beltway Boys." We're continuing with the "Ups and Downs" for the week. Up: John McCain. McCain makes his most eloquent defense yet for this position supporting the surge in Iraq. The question is, will it boost his flagging presidential campaign. Will it?

BARNES: Well, I think so, but I'm not sure. But I - look, I think McCain is a much better candidate when he's out there campaigning furiously on an issue that he really believes strongly about, and that's winning in Iraq. And he supported the way all along. You know, Mort, remember, he was the guy who rejected the findings of the Iraq Study Group. Knew that they were a - a ticket to losing in Iraq. He's for winning there. Now - you know, he gave that speech last Wednesday about - down at Virginia Military Institute - about winning in Iraq. And he ended on this sort of Reaganesque note, and it was about - when he was coming back from Iraq some days ago - and he stopped in Germany at a military hospital, and he dropped by the room of a - of a Navy SEAL who had been shot in the eye, and - who was sedated when McCain went by to see him. But the guy called McCain back when he woke up, and - and here's what happened. Watch what McCain said when went into the room.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA: And he entered his room and approached his bedside. He struggled with great difficulty to sit up, stiffened his body as if he were trying to stand at attention, grasped my hand tightly and wouldn't let go. And then he whispered to me not to worry. `We can win this fight. We can win this fight.'


BARNES: That's great stuff, and you know, that Navy SEAL is now at Bethesda Naval Hospital. Guess who spent much of the afternoon on Thursday at his bedside? John McCain.

KONDRACKE: I mean, John McCain was a war hero, and he's my idea of a political hero. I mean, he said in - in - in this speech that he'd rather lose a campaign than lose a war. I don't know whether - whether that's going to happen. And just as another example of political courage, here he is trying to woo conservatives, and he voted against the Bush line on stem cell. That's - that's another example of political courage. Now he had - he had another item in that speech where he talked about this chilling event where a - a car gets driven up to a checkpoint in - in Iraq, and the - the car was let through because there were two little kids - kids sitting in the backseat. Car drives into a market. The driver gets out, leaves the kids in the backseat, and then blows it up in the middle of the market. And he said, `If you think that the - that the enemy wouldn't kill American kids, you're crazy.' And, you know - and that - that - that is the lesson that Americans ought to take. There are going to come after us wherever we are, and they'll kill our kids as well.

BARNES: I'll ask you the question: Is this going to help the McCain campaign?

KONDRACKE: Boy, I hope so.

BARNES: That was a - that was a - all right. Let me move on. Down: Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney. Their battle to win over wary conservatives got more difficult this week. Rudy over his increasingly contorted views on abortion, and Romney over exaggerated claims that he's an avid hunter. Excuse the laughter. Let me tell you about - about two.

KONDRACKE: Well, no, wait a minute. Wait a minute. Just a second. You know, I - look, I think in this - in this case that - you asked me the question about McCain. Well, if - if this begins - this stuff begins to bite against Giuliani and Romney, the answer is, yes, it will help McCain.


KONDRACKE: Now here's Giuliani. You know, Giuliani is - is - losing favor with conservatives because he's - he's said that not only is he in favor of a woman's right to choose an abortion, but he's in favor of - of taxpayers having to pay for it. Now that's pretty much anathema.

BARNES: No, no, but it was worse than that. Because he said they have if there's a constitutional right to a - to choose an abortion, there's a constitutional right to have somebody else pay for it if you can't afford it.

Well, that's just simply not true. The Supreme Court has ruled on this; something the Hyde Amendment - remember, after Henry Hyde - passed Congress and said, `No, we - we didn't have taxpayer-funded abortions.' And the Supreme Court upheld that. So not only was he championing a position sure to angry conservatives, but he even got the law wrong.

KONDRACKE: Well, and then - and then we have Romney. You know, Romney has flipped - flipped and flopped all over the place and is pandering like crazy to conservatives, and suddenly joins the National Rifle Association and claims to have been a lifelong hunter. And then when people have looked to find out whether - whether he had ever had a hunting license anywhere, no state that he's ever lived in has ever issued him a hunting license. So, I mean, it looks like he's a phony. So if they go down, McCain may go up. Of course, it helps Fred - Fred Thompson, too.

BARNES: I've been hunting once. Am I an avid hunter?

KONDRACKE: No, you're not. You're not a lifelong hunter, either.

BARNES: Good thing I.

KONDRACKE: What's wrong with you anyway? If you're a real conservative, how come you haven't got a hunting license?

BARNES: I think I do have a hunting license. I just don't. That's all.

KONDRACKE: I see. Well, you're supposed to hunt. You got to kill animals.

BARNES: All right. Don't move a muscle; "The Buzz" is up next.


KONDRACKE: Here's "The Buzz," Fred: most people remember Kathie Lee Gifford from that kind of silly TV show, "Regis and Kathie Lee." But she's written a fabulous musical called "Saving Amy," based on the life of the sensational but flawed female evangelist of the early 20th century, Amy Semple McPherson. We saw it—we saw a preview of it, and my prediction is a Broadway blockbuster.

BARNES: I'll have to say, you know, going to see it, I didn't expect much. I was so surprised at how great it was. I really enjoyed it. Good music. Great lyrics. I - I agree; ought to be on Broadway. Now, Governor Jon Corzine of New Jersey, of course, was involved in this horrible hit-and-run accident. He's now, I think - as we speak, he's still in the hospital in critical condition. Expected to pull through, but sedated and half the bones in this body are broken. And we certainly wish him will. What a horrible accident. You know, where he was - you know where he was - you know where he was headed, Mort? He was headed to - to mediate the - the session between the Rutgers girls basketball team and Don Imus. Maybe referee it. You know what? As it turned out, the Rutgers team, they handled quite well. From all reports, they didn't need him there. But we - our best wishes for Jon Corzine. 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 coming up in just a few seconds.

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