Friday Lightning Round: Egypt aid controversy

Panel sums up this week's hot topics


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," March 17, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BAIER: Welcome back. Each week we vote -- you vote, actually. We don't vote. But you vote in our Friday Lightning Round poll online. And tonight you selected aid to Egypt. So we start there with our panel. A lot of focus on aid to Egypt after $250 million going that way.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: We want to help a country. We don't want to help the regime which is unfriendly. Thus our demand in return for the aid shouldn't be economic reforms, as the secretary of state insisted. It should be political reforms that open space for the opposition, allow a free press to oppose the government, and guarantee free and open elections. In the absence of that, not a penny.

BAIER: Chuck?

CHARLES LANE, EDITORIAL WRITER, WASHINGTON POST: This was also a week in which the top officials, Muslim Brotherhood, voiced views about women, including things like women who were beaten by their husbands are 30 to 40 percent responsible. It points up a situation very much like that in Pakistan where we are sending money to regime and army that we had differences with all in the theory that we need to stay engaged and in the game.

JONAH GOLDBERG, AT LARGE EDITOR, NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE: When we gave money to Mubarak it was cynical but it was sort of necessary.  He was authoritarian and he was keeping the country stable. The Muslim Brotherhood is different. They are under the pull -- the gravitational pull of moving to an Islamic totalitarian regime. We need to be a counterweight to that somehow. So I'm pretty sympathetic to it.

BAIER: CPAC today, a number of speakers including the last Republican nominee.


MITT ROMNEY, R - FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We've lost races before in the past. But those setbacks prepared us for larger victories. It's up to us to make sure that we learn from our mistakes and my mistakes and we take advantage of that learning to make sure that we take back the nation, take back the White House, get the Senate, and put in place conservative principles.



BAIER: Warm applause there Jonah.

GOLDBERG: It was a nice talk. I'm not sure why he did it. It kind of felt like taking a bow. He didn't really propose serious policies. He just sort of wanted to say thanks for the support, thanks for the memories.

BAIER: Chuck?

LANE: It's nice to wave goodbye to Mitt Romney, but I think the whole CPAC was overshadowed by Rob Portman's announcement today that he is in favor of gay marriage the most prominent Republican I can think of since Dick Cheney, and showing kind of -- highlighting, really, this social issue wedge that is penetrating that conference and the party's old.

BAIER: Also heard from Paul Ryan today. Take a listen.


REP. PAUL RYAN, R - WI: We don't hide behind our beliefs. We argue for them because a budget is more than just a list of numbers. It's an expression of our governing philosophy. And our budget draws a very sharp contrast with the left. It says to the people in unmistakable terms they are the party of shared hardship. We are the party of equal opportunity.


BAIER: Charles?

KRAUTHAMMER: Look, I think it shows how strong a bench we have and how good our prospects are in the future. And I'm a little less cynical than my compadres here. About Romney, I thought he gave a gracious speech. But the most heartening element of that is the way a young crowd, a quite conservative crowd cheered him and greeted him with equal grace which I thought was really nice. Usually you kick a loser to the curb in American politics. That was the exact opposite.

BAIER: The Portman announcement, Jonah, significant?

GOLDBERG: I think it's significant. I'm very sympathetic to his position on this. But, the politics of it, I think, are problematic because this whole idea of he only changed his position when it affected him personally with his own son and that's going to have real repercussions.

BAIER: Chuck, North Korea beefing up security, missile defense as this North Korean threat is vocalized. What about this?

LANE: Well, you know what I read about this beefed up missile defense we're going to install in Alaska, is it will come online in 2017. So that is four years from now. And I think North Korea could act before that if it had a mind to. This is now almost 20 years, Bret, since this crisis so to speak on the Korean peninsula broke out in the first Clinton term. And it's been going on and on, unresolved, all that time. I think we're heading toward one of two things. More of this sort of perpetual extortion by North Korea -- or perhaps miscalculation and a break a lot sooner than any of us would like.

BAIER: Representative Franks had a statement released today. "It's also unfortunate that it has taken multiple missile tests by these same rogue nations for this administration led by the same president who in 2001 said, quote 'I don't agree with missile defense' to realize that our missile defense system, specifically these sites out West, have long needed more ground- based interceptors and absolutely critical to the ongoing security of America."

KRAUTHAMMER: This is exactly why this is a really important moment not because of what is happening in Pyongyang but because after 30 years of almost religious opposition to anything having to do with missile defense, Democrats, liberals who are now in power understand how Reagan was right, how important it is and we really have to start now belatedly because of the Democratic resistance to actually have in place a way to defend ourselves against attack by rogue states. And it will be coming.

BAIER: That is it for the Friday Lightning Round. But stay tuned for a face only a mother of a cable news anchor could love and a special tribute as well after the break.

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