This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys", Nov. 20, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.
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MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST:I’m Mort Kondracke.
FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: And I’m Fred Barnes. The hot story — the takeover — President Bush’s takeover of his own administration and all of Washington, for that matter, Mort. They are, Bush and his team, they are girded for battle.
You know, after the election, I thought Bush would, you know, head to Crawford and relax for a while, go to the beach, something or other. Took no vacation. He has got one huge agenda, not this sort of skimpy second-term agenda that most presidents and even Ronald Reagan didn’t have that big an agenda, except for tax reform, for his second term.
So this is really big-time stuff. And, and, you know, President Bush always thought he was going to get reelected, so he was already planning and making personnel decisions well before election day, Mort. And besides that, even before election day, he had sent Porter Goss (search) to the CIA to clean out that nest of opposition to Bush, sort of the CIA’s Fallujah of the Beltway, a sanctuary for a lot of Bush-haters.
And then, more important is sending Condi Rice to the State Department, where she’s going to take over for Colin Powell, and that will make the big difference, because Colin Powell didn’t agree with Bush on so many policies, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, the Middle East, just to name a few, and she does.
And you won’t have any of this dysfunctional relationship between the Pentagon and the State Department, they’ll agree.
Watch Bush when he announces that Condi’s going to be taking this job at State.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know that the Reverend and Mrs. Rice would be filled with pride to see the daughter they raised in Birmingham, Alabama, chosen for the office first held by Thomas Jefferson. Something tells me, however, they would not be surprised.
As many of you know, Condi’s true ambition is beyond my power to grant. She’d really like to be the commissioner of the National Football League (search).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BARNES: That was a very emotional event. You saw Condi there. I thought she might break up, and that she ought to be very proud of herself and for good reason.
Look, President Bush has the most ambitious second-term agenda of any president, at least since I’ve been covering this stuff, you know, Washington and politics and policy. Maybe you can think of one that’s more ambitious, but certainly Clinton didn’t have one that was more ambitious.
Secure Iraq, and have a successful Iraqi election in January, fill the Supreme Court with conservative justices, begin to privatize Social Security, starting out with these individuals accounts and produce savings that’ll make sure Social Security’s solvent, then there’s tax reform and tort reform, and I could go on. It’s one heck of an agenda.
One more thing, and that is how important it is that the White House staff stay in place, and it is. Karl Rove, Mark Gerson, the speechwriter, and so on, Andy Card, the White House chief of staff. If you get a lot of new people in there, rookies, you know, the second string, it probably wouldn’t work as well. They are girded for battle.
And Mort, didn’t you tell me that Karl Rove is working longer hours now than he did during the campaign?
KONDRACKE: I didn’t hear that, but matter of fact, I did tell you that.
KONDRACKE: That’s right, I forgot. I did tell you that. Anyway, you know, one thing is that he’s got this big agenda, he’s got basically about a year, to really get it done.
KONDRACKE: Before the election season starts, he’s got a lot of educating of the public to do. So one thing about these, these appointments, Condi and Porter Goss took completely different approaches to the way they moved into their jobs.
BARNES: Well, she hasn’t gotten there yet.
KONDRACKE: No, no. But Condi said in her acceptance speech that she honors and looks forward to working with the people at the State Department, you know. Porter Goss acted as if he was invading enemy territory, you know, setting off wild squeals from the bureaucrats there.
Now, I have to say that, on balance, I mean, I think Condi has the right approach, but Goss is a kind of a special case, going into the CIA, where a lot of mistakes have been made in the past, a lot of hesitation to do things like go after Usama bin Laden (search). And you have to say that the CIA has been much more insubordinate toward the Bush administration than the State Department is, where people do disagree, but they do so, "diplomatically."
BARNES: Yes, right.
KONDRACKE: OK, our second hot story is takeover part two. And by that, I’m referring to Congress. The Republicans came back to this lame-duck session with a vengeance, and they started off by whacking such programs as special education, other education programs, child health programs, you know, I mean, it really does make you think that compassionate conservative is just the masquerade that I always thought it was, especially after they larded all this, all this dough on farmers and, and corporations in that, remember, in that tax bill.
But they, and additionally, they grabbed Arlen Specter (search), who seemed to get a little bit off the reservation, and basically they turned him into George Bush’s poodle, as when it comes to judicial appointments.
BARNES: The word "unit" comes to mind.
KONDRACKE: Yes, right, watch Arlen Specter here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R), PENNSYLVANIA: I have voted for all of President Bush’s judicial nominees in committee and on the floor, and I have no reason to believe that I’ll be unable to support any individual President Bush finds worthy of nomination.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KONDRACKE: Yes, reminds you of one of those self-criticism sessions, you know, in the Chinese Cultural Revolution in China. And, and the other thing they did was, they changed the rules in the House, as Republicans did, to allow Tom DeLay to stay on as House majority leader in case he gets indicted in Texas. Now, before you say it, I will acknowledge that the prosecutor is after him. Ronnie Earl is a very partisan guy and is after him because he’s a Republican. But if Eliot Spitzer, the distinguished and aggressive New York attorney general were after DeLay, the Republicans would have done exactly the same thing.
BARNES: Yes, you’re probably right. Mort, you didn’t mention about Harry Reid, the senator from Nevada who is now the Senate’s Democratic leader, the minority leader, who I don’t think wants to generate the kind of image as the chief of obstructionist in Washington that really doomed Tom Daschle in his bid for reelection this year.
And so, I think Bush is going to have more success than you think up in Congress, particularly when he gets around to naming conservative Supreme Court justices. I think it’s going to be hard for Democrats to get enough people to join in a filibuster against conservative nominees. I mean, a lot of these senators are in red states like North Dakota and Montana and, and Arkansas and so on.
I really do think it’s going to be hard for them. So I’m predicting success, particularly on the Supreme Court nominations, for Bush.
KONDRACKE: Well, it depends on who it is and how conservative they are.
BARNES: Well, of course, yes.
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