Friday Lightning Round: Sen. John Kerry nomination

Panel sums up this week's hot topics


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," December 21, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I'm very proud to announce my choice for America's next secretary of state, John Kerry. I think it's fair to say that few individuals know as many presidents and prime ministers or grasp our foreign policies as firmly as John Kerry. And this makes him a perfect choice to guide American diplomacy in the years ahead.


JOHN ROBERTS, ANCHOR: President Obama earlier today, busy day for him, announcing John Kerry as his nominee to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state. That's kicks off the Lightning Round this Friday. A.B., do you think he will sail through for confirmation?

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, THE HILL: Yes, I do. And I think he will work on the Benghazi problem because he doesn't want anything to happen on his watch.

ROBERTS: How does he work on the Benghazi problem, Steve?

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I don't know. That's a real question that's going to be an early test for John Kerry's tenure as secretary of state, because Republicans are going to demand answers, and they should.

ROBERTS: Obviously, security for these consulates around the world is going to be the big issue for Kerry. Does he just say look, give them everything they need? He's got to work within a budget. They were using local militias, local law enforcement, Charles, because it was too expensive to send the Americans over there.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: No longer. After incident like this where you lose your first ambassador in 30 years, you will get all the money you want. There won't be anybody in Congress who will deny them a penny. So he will ask for a lot of money and he'll get all of it and he'll secure the embassies.

ROBERTS: Next topic in the Lighting Round, the NRA, gun control, the debate and what to do about school shootings. Wayne LaPierre, the executive vice president of the NRA held a press conference today. He said what needs to happen is there needs be law enforcement officer in every school across America. Let's pick it up from there.


WAYNE LAPIERRE, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION CEO: What if when Adam Lanza started shooting his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School last Friday, he had been confronted by qualified armed security? Will you at least admit it's possible that 26 little kids, that 26 innocent lives, might have been spared that day?


ROBERTS: Now his proposal was met with derision from a number of quarters today. But A.B., when you look at these lone wolf massacres like this, people who were never really identified as being much of a threat, are there different ways to stop it?

STODDARD: What he said today was laughable. And his conservative allies in the Congress are not going to spend $6 billion to provide armed personnel at every single school. That is the definition of big government right there, and we can't afford that. Is it going to happen at movie theaters where you can get gunned down in the dark? Or in a Safeway parking lot like it happened in Tucson?

It's -- really what happened today at that press conference didn't do gun advocates any favors. In fact, it was like the old joke that Cheney was secretly on the payroll of the Democratic National Committee in the Bush years. He only helped the gun control side with his remarks today.

ROBERTS: Here is what Mayor Bloomberg of New York City said about it today. He said it was a shameful evasion of the crisis in our country, quote, "They offered a paranoid, dystopian vision of a more dangerous and violent America, where everybody is armed and no place in safe." Do you agree, Steve, disagree?

HAYES: Well, I have to admit that I don't take very seriously much that Mayor Bloomberg says because this is the guy who wants to regulate every aspect of American life, including our fountain drinks.

Having said that, I was a little surprised that Wayne LaPierre spent as much time as he did pointing to other potential reasons for the crisis. If he had a solution he should have come out, laid out his solution, asked for a conversation about it, and then moved on. What also became clear today is that many of people that are calling for a national conversation in which we would take in all sorts of different viewpoints and discuss them respectfully didn't actually mean what they said.

ROBERTS: Now, Dr. Krauthammer you have written extensively on this, including a terrific column today. What are your thoughts on this idea of an armed guard being sort of the last defense if a gunman is trying to come into a school?

KRAUTHAMMER: That is true. But I think A.B. is right. There is infinite number of soft targets in the country. And you can't have a guard at every street corner, which is essentially what the NRA is saying. So it's not a practical and a numbish and it's not a very aesthetic idea either.

But the problem with the gun control side is that unless you go the road of Australia, which essentially disarmed the population entirely, existing weapons had to be turned in, it's not going have any effect. And that is never going to happen in America with the Second Amendment and a gun culture that goes back all the way to the founding of the republic.

ROBERTS: So what is the solution?

KRAUTHAMMER: I'm not sure that gun control will do anything. Even though I wouldn't oppose the legislation, I would try with no hope of success. I think the one area where we can improve is we have very lax civil commitment laws. It's extremely hard to commit. Jared Loughner, the guy who was the shooter in Tucson, everybody who knew him, knew he was a grenade about to go off, but you couldn't lock him up until he killed. And there is obviously something that we can do if we change our laws on commitment.

ROBERTS: Last topic, Chuck Hagel, pre-emptive strike, apologized for comments about James Hormel before he even becomes the nominee. He's obviously trying to get himself on some good ground among people in Congress, particularly Republicans who have look at him and said, "hmm not sure we want him for secretary of defense." What do you think, A.B., after pulling the nomination of Susan Rice, does the president have to push this through?

STODDARD: Yes. He's going to fight very hard. He cannot pull two people. I mean it's just not going to happen.

ROBERTS: Right, Stephen?

HAYES: I don't know. I think it becomes difficult for Democratic senators to support somebody even after this apology, on gay issues, who said the things that he said. You expect Republicans to oppose him. John Cornyn importantly said today that he would. I think it's going to be a tough fight if the president puts him up.

ROBERTS: Eminently qualified, Charles, can he pass the political test?

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, I think there are reasons why he should be denied. And one reason that I think the Republicans will oppose him is the current secretary of defense under Democrats has said that he would not support the huge reductions, the cuts in the Pentagon that are contemplated, it would hollow the military. Hagel is in favor of that. The Republicans want a secretary of defense who will destroy the military? I think not.

ROBERTS: Thanks for joining us tonight folks. Have a great holiday. We'll see you back on the other side of that.

And that is it for the panel. Stay tuned for a friendly warning. We'll be right back.

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