Hot Stories for the Week of April 28-May 2

This is a partial transcript from The Beltway Boys, April 19, 2003, that has been edited for clarity. Click here to order the complete transcript.

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GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The war on terror is not over, yet it is not endless. We do not know the day of final victory, but we have seen the turning of the tide.


FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: Mort, the hot story is, let tyrants fear, and that, of course, is from Bush's speech on Thursday from the USS Abraham Lincoln (search) in the Pacific Ocean off, off San Diego, the speech in which he, he, he told terrorists, and those who harbor terrorists, that they are at risk.

I know you remember that, that, that passage well. But let's hear it again anyway.


BUSH: Today we have the greater power to free a nation by breaking a dangerous and aggressive regime. With new tactics and precision weapons, we can achieve military objectives without directing violence against civilians. No device of man can remove the tragedy for more, yet it is a great advance when the guilty have far more to fear from war than the innocent.

And everywhere that freedom stirs, let tyrants fear.


BARNES: I love that, let tyrants fear.

MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Great line, great line.

BARNES: Now, this was, this was...not only a message to countries like Syria (search) and North Korea (search) and the rest of....You know what happened to Iraq? That could happen to you too.

But it was a great expression of, of, of Bush's foreign policy, of idealism. Unlike his father, Bush is for spreading democracy around the world, particularly in the Middle East and Arab countries, and also, where necessary, prompting regime change.

KONDRACKE: The -- I thought that the whole USS Abraham Lincoln visit was great political theater, and that, you know, to have the landing and the...the flight suit, and he flew the plane part of the way and all that kind of stuff...


KONDRACKE: ... and it was, you know, and the crowd, and it was, it was wonderful -- magnificent.

BARNES: Yes, right.

KONDRACKE: And, and the speech, as you say, was inspiring and idealistic and also, and also substantive.


BARNES: ...oh, geez.

KONDRACKE: ... and you knew that there had to be a but, that's my job here...

BARNES: Yes, yes, right.

KONDRACKE: ... you know, he has to deliver. He has to deliver weapons of mass destruction some -- in Iraq, because that was the claim that we went into this war with. He's got to deliver peace and stability among the Iraqis. That's going to be even harder to do. And he's got to deliver a solution to the problems of North Korea and, and Iran. Those are regimes which, as you note, he said were outlaw regimes that seek to possess weapons of mass destruction, and they will be confronted...

BARNES: Right.

KONDRACKE: ... they need to be confronted...


KONDRACKE: ... soon, because they are much further...

BARNES: Right.

KONDRACKE: ... on the road to, to, to having nuclear weapons than, than...


KONDRACKE: ... Iraq ever was.

BARNES: Yes, there are problems. We can deal with all that.

KONDRACKE: Yes, well, well, I hope so. Now....Yes?

BARNES: ... well, go ahead, or I wanted to add one more thing.


BARNES: I know, you want to go to...

KONDRACKE: ...yes, yes, I do.

BARNES: ...You know, my colleague, David Brooks, at The Weekly Standard noted something that I had neglected, and I think all of us in the political class, and we were so stunned by this theater that the White House pulled off with the aircraft carrier and the speech and everything, we forgot about the grunts, the sailors, the soldiers, the people...

KONDRACKE: Right, right.

BARNES: ... in the service there. They were the people who really sacrificed. I mean, as Brooks said, you know, we go away from home for three or four days, and practically have a nervous breakdown. Can't wait to get home. They're away for nine months. Those people sacrificed, and they deserve a lot of credit.

KONDRACKE: Absolutely. And I...


KONDRACKE: ... and I, and I think Bush was properly attentive to them, and I...


KONDRACKE: ... and they loved it....

BARNES: I think he shook every one of the 5,000 hands.

KONDRACKE: Looked like it.

OK, hot story number two is homework. The war has given Bush a bump, popularity bump, to 71 percent in overall...


KONDRACKE: ... approval rating, but the...

BARNES: Oh, there's a but again.

KONDRACKE: ... but -- there's another but...


KONDRACKE: ... but on, on economic policy, his approval is only 52 percent...


KONDRACKE: ... and this week, Friday, unemployment, Labor Department announced that unemployment is up to 6 percent. Now, here's Bush's response to that, to that number.


BUSH: The unemployment number is now at 6 percent, which should serve as a clear signal to the United States Congress, we need a bold economic recovery package so people can find work.


KONDRACKE: But, but, the problem is that Congress is not buying his solution to the problem, the House of Representatives -- I mean, the Senate especially. And neither is the public. The Gallup poll -- sorry, the -- I believe it was -- well, one poll anyway, can't remember...


KONDRACKE: ... ABC-Washington Post...


KONDRACKE: ... said that when they asked people, Would you rather have money spent on education and, and health care or a tax cut, it was 68 to 29 against the tax cut.

BARNES: Yes...five buts, and we haven't even gotten to the up and down yet.

Now, look, Congress has not rejected the Bush's tax plan. The Senate balked at it, but the House has come up with a new version of it, $550 billion in tax cuts...

KONDRACKE: He originally wanted...

BARNES: ... and Bush...

KONDRACKE: ... 726, don't forget.

BARNES: I know, I know, and that's what...


BARNES: ... he should get, that's what the -- is needed, but he can't get that, probably.

And Bush is poised, poised to lean on the Senate, now that the war's over, to lean on the Senate, and he needs to. Listen to Dennis Hastert, the House speaker, what he thinks about the Senate.


REP. DENNIS HASTERT (R-IL), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I'm tired to trying to fit the Senate. You know, we have moved, the -- in the House, we have done what the president says, we have compromised from 7.6 down to 550.  And if the Senate can't get its work done, that's too bad.


KONDRACKE: Hey, who controls the Senate?

BARNES: Yes, just barely, the Republicans.


BARNES: They have a couple of renegades.

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