Hot Stories for the Week of July 21-25

This is a partial transcript from The Beltway Boys, July 26, 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: Saddam Hussein's sons were responsible for torture, maiming, and murder of countless Iraqis. Now more than ever, all Iraqis can know that the former regime is gone and will not be coming back.


FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: Mort, the hot story is turning the corner, and in Iraq the corner has already been turned in establishing security and order inside the country. And one of the reasons is what President Bush was referring to, and that is the deaths of Saddam Hussein's son, Uday and Qusay.

You're going to see the bodies here of these guys after they've been dressed up some by makeup artists. Pretty good, these…it looks like you could ship these bodies right off to the...

MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: It's just like that on your...

BARNES: ... send them right…well, they have to clean up his, his torso a little bit, send him right off to the House of Wax.

I think the Iraqis who, who you see interviewed on television, including Fox, they all…they don't believe that's really Uday (search) and Qusay (search). They know it is, they know, they, look, those guys are gone.

But it's not just that the…that's not the only good news in Iraq. The other good news is, on Friday, a lot of Saddam's bodyguards were grabbed. Saddam is going to be nabbed here, I think, in the next few days or weeks, for sure.

And then there's the other stuff that Donald Rumsfeld referred to in his briefing the other day. He listed all kinds of good things that have happened there, and I wanted…and I'll just mention some of them.

Thirty thousand Iraqi police hired, 35…rather, 38 of, of the 55 most wanted caught, Iraq's return to the world oil market, power and water at prewar levels, except in Baghdad (search), and getting a lot better in Baghdad too, nearly all of Iraq's 240 hospitals and 1,200 clinics are open, and over 100 newspapers are publishing.

It's a lot more than the newspapers that we have in California, which is the same size as Iraq, I think, anyway.

And that…and then there's one other thing. At home, as I said, in Iraq the corner has been turned. At home, it is being turned with this Bush counteroffensive that we, we, we'll see whether it really, it really works or not. I think it's starting to work a little. We've seen Bush call Paul Bremer (search) back from a…Iraq.

The strongest statement so far, and I…has been delivered by Vice President Cheney (search), in which he went after the critics of Bush and the war. Watch this.


DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Some are now trying to cast doubt upon the decision to liberate Iraq. The ability to criticize is one of the great strengths of our democracy. But those who do so have an obligation to answer this question. How could any responsible leader have ignored the Iraqi threat?


KONDRACKE: Well...the, the…look, the administration is doing a good job of…fighting back. But, they…and you knew there was going to be a but here...or shall I say, however…it doesn't make any difference...


KONDRACKE: ... look, there are three things that need to be, need to be accomplished. One, we have to find weapons of mass destruction. Two, we've got to get… Saddam. And three, we got to stop the Americans from getting killed, one or two, one or two a day.

Even if, even if that is all accomplished, that we're still going to be spending $50 billion a year and have 150,000 troops tied down in Iraq when they may be needed in, in Korea sometime soon, all of that's problems. But I think fundamentally, if those three things that I named are, are accomplished, Bush will be out of the woods as far as the Democrats are concerned. They're going to have to be silent.

And speaking of the Democrats...


KONDRACKE: ... the second hot story of the week is the Dean effect, referring to Howard Dean (search). He is, I think, the front-runner now in the Democratic…for the Democratic nomination, certainly he has the most momentum of any candidate, and, you know, raised the most money in the second quarter of the year, and…so on.

And, you know, he, he…the way you can tell that he's the front- runner is that all the other candidates are following him in the pattern of extreme Bush-bashing. Here's Dean, followed by Dick Gephardt (search), who used to be a stalwart defender of the, of the war policy. Watch.


HOWARD DEAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are losing one or two soldiers a day every day in Iraq. And the president, in my view, never made his case. So I know there are a lot of questions what the president said, what he knew about what he said, and when he knew it.

REP. DICK GEPHARDT, D-Mo., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: But I'm running for president because I believe George Bush has left us less safe and less secure than we were four years ago.


KONDRACKE: You know, I, you know, how Dick Gephardt can say that, I do not know. I mean... that, that we are less safe than we were before September 11, I don't think so. We, we were innocent then. We didn't know what…was going to hit us.

You know, what I'm afraid is that unless Iraq is an absolute disaster of some sort, Howard Dean is leading the Democratic Party into McGovern-land, referring, of course, to George McGovern (search), who in 1972...


KONDRACKE: ... carried one state...

BARNES: Yes…yes.

KONDRACKE: ... against Richard Nixon.

BARNES: Yes, yes, that was Massachusetts. You know, but Howard Dean is McGovern without the charm. Now, McGovern is a very nice man, charming guy. Howard Dean is not.

Now, I too was disappointed in what Gephardt said, because I don't think he really believes that America's less safe and secure, because it's demonstrably not the case. And, you know…Dean…some in the press, actually a lot in the press, have said, But Dean is the John McCain of the 2004 presidential race, he's the straight-talking guy.

There's one guy who disagrees with that rather heartily, that's John McCain. You know, Dean said after the Hussein boys were killed that, well, it's a victory for Iraq, but he didn't think the ends justified the means. McCain said otherwise. And he said, Mr. Dean does the nation a great disservice when he doesn't recognize how wonderful event this is and how important it is to the morale of the troops that these guys, meaning the Hussein boys, are gone.


BARNES: You, you know what? Howard Dean is no John McCain. I know John McCain. Howard Dean is no John McCain.

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