This is a rush transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume" from July 24, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: America, this is our moment. This is our time.
People of Berlin, people of the world, this is our moment. This is our time. Let us remember this history, and answer our destiny, and remake the world once again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRIT HUME, HOST: First America, then Berlin, and now, it seems, all the world. Barack Obama on an increasingly larger stage, today the biggest ever — 200,000 people in Berlin. That's about three times bigger than any crowd he ever got in this country.
Some thoughts on all this now from Fred Barnes, Executive Editor of The Weekly Standard, Mort Kondracke, Executive Editor of Roll Call, and the syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, FOX News contributors one and all.
Well, the speech was obviously widely heard. It played all over the place in this country. How about its contents, Fred?
FRED BARNES, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I thought it was mostly boilerplate, this high-minded stuff, which is fine. He delivered it well.
But he does have, as I think it showed in the byte you showed at the beginning here, where now it's the world's moment, and guess who is at the center of that? Guess who is the leader? Barack Obama.
And it is just too grandiose for me. Remember Reagan when he went to Berlin? He had a simple message-"Tear down this wall." Pretty simple.
Now Obama, he is going to tear down walls between races and tribes, natives and immigrants, Christians and Muslims and Jews, all these walls that he's going to tear down. It's a little too grandiose to me, and I think it is a little to grandiose for a presidential candidate.
MORT KONDRACKE, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, ROLL CALL: Well, look, I think this whole trip has been good for him. John McCain sort of goaded him into going. He went, and, generally speaking, he has been well received, and I think the images played back well in the United States.
When he's talking to a European audience, there was a big challenge in this speech. We're going to war in Afghanistan for real, and you Germans, you better come with us.
The Germans, right now, they increased the number of troops that they have from 3,500 to 4,500, but the Germans don't fight. They train Afghan soldiers. They're not down there —
HUME: That particular challenge didn't draw a very big applause.
And Joe Jaffe (ph), who is a famous German editor who wrote at The New Republic today, said this honeymoon in Germany will not last when he is president of the United States. No American president is going to be a European, which is what the Europeans want an American president to be — cooperative, and all this stuff.
He's still the leader of the free world. He has still got more nukes than anybody else. He's still got the biggest army and he's got the biggest responsibilities, and they hate that.
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I think there was a problem of scale in this speech. After all, the disparity between the grandness of the venue, the vastness of the crowd, and the smallness of this speech was quite striking. You know, you got to think of the pedigree. You've got Kennedy standing outside the —
HUME: Wait a minute. Small? He's talking about remaking the world once again.
KRAUTHAMMER: That's weigh mean. It was all wind. It was enough to power the T. Boone Pickens turbine for a year.
Even that slight reference to Afghanistan was oblique and mild. I was all about I am citizen of America, I am a citizen of the world, and together we will do everything — look after Darfur, Zimbabwe, Burma, none of which he is going to do, none of which he has a plan to do. It is all about his lofty aspirations.
It was a very empty speech, and I think it may be useful, a snippet of it will play well in a campaign commercial. But as a substantive speech, I think it was quite useless, and I think the audience was mildly disappointed. It didn't hear of anything major or even of minor importance.
HUME: Mort has talked about the first part of this trip being good for him, and there was a part that was actually a congressional delegation — not a very big one, but a congressional delegation.
What about the net effect of it all now? He has a couple more stops — Paris, of course, and then it will be on to London. How is this ultimately going to play?
BARNES: I think the entire political community may be missing something here, including myself, as we see this beautiful stagecraft, this poised candidate going around Iraq and Afghanistan, Germany. I'm sure he'll be fine in Paris and London as well.
And McCain stumbling through his campaign, goes up into New Hampshire and one reporter shows up. It's kind of pathetic.
And so what's happening all over the country, which every poll shows? If it were one or two polls I'd ignore him, but practically very poll shows during this time, the summer of love of Obama, McCain is going up and Obama is coming down almost everywhere.
As I mentioned last night, I think there is this tremendous resistance out there. It may fall apart at some time, but there is this tremendous resistance to Obama.
HUME: Look at our new FOX poll out today. This is not significantly different from the other polling on this — 41-40. That is imprecise, a margin of error plus or minus three, so it could be more or less.
All the polls continue to show Obama ahead, but you can see he's come down a bit. And you got a couple of areas here where McCain continues to enjoy a big advantage.
This was — "The Wall Street Journal" poll was taken after the trip that he made to Iraq, and on commander in chief — well, first, background and values-47 percent say Obama shares their background and values; 58 percent say that about McCain. It doesn't add up to 100 because people can say both of them do.
And then on the question of commander in chief, look at this-53- 25 McCain.
Now, just for a last thought here, Mort, can he close that gap?
KONDRACKE: Well, he's got to achieve a certain threshold, as they say, of acceptability as commander in chief. He's new. People don't know who he is. He's a question mark.
But we still have a long way to go during this campaign. The public hasn't made up its mind about him yet. It either will decide that he passes the threshold, or he won't. And I just think this trip was a definite net plus.
HUME: Democrats fail in an attempt to get oil out of the strategic reserve. We will look at what Congress is doing and not doing about energy, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BOEHNER, (R) OHIO, HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: I'm tired of this and the American people are tired of it. They want a real vote. What they want is they more American-made energy, and they want Congress to do something about it.
Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Barack Obama are scared to death we'll have a real vote.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will not subscribe to a poor excuse for an energy policy that the administration is putting forth. The administration has failed in his energy policy. That's why we have over $4 a gallon at pump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUME: We have a real battle going on on The Hill today as they try to do something about energy.
The Democrats would like to take some oil our of their petroleum reserve, which is supposed to be there for big international emergencies that result in major disruptions of supply because they believe it would help to get the price down.
Republicans think that's foolish, although a lot of them would vote to do it.
What Democrats will not allow is a vote on anything that would involve further American drilling for oil in areas where it's now not being drilled for.
So who has the high cards? How is all this going — Mort?
KONDRACKE: I don't know if this issue will save the Republicans from impending electoral disaster in November, but they have really got an issue going here.
The fundamental fact is that every energy expert except Al Gore says that for the next several decades we are going to be 80 percent dependent on fossil fuels. That's just a reality. The technology is not there for the other stuff, you can't get it up and running.
So, it is much better to pump our own oil, pump our own gas, and both bring the price down and the energy independence. That's the way to go. That's what the Republicans are for —
HUME: Or at least more energy independent.
And the Democrats are resisting it by and large because they want to get off fossil fuels. I mean, they want to please the environmental lobby and Al Gore, and they will not do anything that increases production.
HUME: Is it fair to say, though they would never say it, that Democrats at the end of the day really kind of like these high prices because of what it forces people to do, Charles?
KRAUTHAMMER: It does. And that has a salutary effect. It diminishes our consumption and reduces the price ultimately.
But that isn't enough. We have to, obviously, have more sources of oil and end our dependence. And the Democratic argument that it's going to take five years to develop the oil is absurd because their counterargument to go to wind and solar, will take 20 years. You will have to have a fleet of electric cars. It is going to take decades.
Look, I think, as Mort said, this is a gift politically for a terribly unfavorable year for Republicans. They are handed an issue where Americans know what the answer is, which is try everything, including drilling, and Democrats are standing in the way.
Rick Brookhiser of "The National Review" has an excellent idea. The president ought to call an emergency session of congress, a special session of Congress, in August, make a speech on drilling alone, and have the American people see how the Democratic leadership not only stops drilling, but doesn't even allow a vote on it.
I think that would be incredibly effective. I'm not sure that the Democrats would yield. If they did, it would be a good thing. Our drilling would be able to begin.
If they didn't, it would be a tremendous political advantage, because it would focus attention on how the Democrats are stopping drilling.
BARNES: Nancy Pelosi said she wouldn't subscribe to the energy plan of the Bush administration. She doesn't have to subscribe to it. She can vote against it. Just allow a vote.
As Charles mentioned, the Democrats in the house and Senate will not allow a vote on lifting the moratorium on exploration and drilling for oil and gas offshore, in the oil shale areas, in ANWR. They won't allow a vote because they suspect that enough Democrats are going to want to vote to lift that moratorium.
But I think it's a tremendous issue for Republicans, and I think it's finally, finally, beginning to cut in some areas. Look at Colorado, where the Quinnipiac poll shows McCain gaining, he is ahead. It's a big issue there because oil shale is there in the Rockies.
McCain is now ahead in the Quinnipiac poll, and Bob Schaffer, the Republican, has come from about ten points back to tie Mark Udall in the Senate race.
HUME: Thank panel. That's it.
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