Hot Stories for the Week of Nov. 29

This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys", Dec. 4, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

Watch "The Beltway Boys" Saturday at 6 p.m. ET and Sunday at 1 and 6 a.m. EST.

MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: I’m Mort Kondracke.

FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: And I’m Fred Barnes, and we’re “The Beltway Boys.”

KONDRACKE: Well, the hot story is traveling salesman, and I’m referring to President Bush, who is doing now what he should have done a long time ago, and that is engage with foreign countries like, like Canada (search) and Europe to come, about his foreign policy, without giving up either his policies or his principles.

He went to Canada, which any normal president does right away in his first term. He’s waited this long. But when he got there, he, even though he was met with hostile demonstrators, he delivered a gracious speech, but it was also a tough one. Watch this.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: On September the 11th, the people of North America learned that two vast oceans and friendly neighbors cannot fully shield us from the dangers of the 21st century.

There’s only one way to deal with enemies who plot in secret and set out to murder the innocent and the unsuspecting. We must take the fight to them. We must be relentless, and we must be steadfast in our duty to protect our people.


KONDRACKE: Well, you know, I think that, that what he’s doing is really good. He is not going Canadian, he is not going European. He is going to tell people, he did tell people that multilateralism is not an end in itself, but rather a means to an end. And he’s going to deliver this message. He’s already been to South America since he got reelected.


KONDRACKE: And he’s now going to, and he’s going to go to Europe in, in February, delivering this message. And what this is, is Colin Powell (search) diplomacy with a Don Rumsfeld message. It’s called persuasion. And I think it’s very good.

BARNES: Let me, not correct, but clarify a couple things you said. One, the president, you suggested he’s an abnormal president, which I, I know you didn’t really mean that. But he has been to Canada before, but not on a state visit to Canada. He was there for an international meeting in his first term, I think it was Quebec.

And the demonstrations there were pretty small. You know, they’d expected, you know, a lot of demonstrators to turn out, which they didn’t. And then, and then Colin Powell, you know, Colin Powell never did much of a, never mounted much of an effort to persuade Europeans and others of, to go along with the Bush foreign policy. He just didn’t travel much.

And so Bush is, I think, is having to make up for what Powell didn’t do. And, of course, if Powell had carried that message, I think it would have gone down a little more smoothly with Europeans and some others.

Now, look, I am for Bush traveling. But Mort, I think you’re getting your hopes a little too high. When you look at Canada and old Europe, they’re not going to join the crusade for democracy in the Middle East and around the world. You know that. Come on.

And they don’t care about democracy in Iraq either. I mean, they’re too effete, a word you like, too pessimistic, too cynical, too old hat, too defeatist to actually join in that noble a cause, yes.

KONDRACKE: You really like those Europeans, don’t you?

BARNES: The Canadians are mainly like Europeans. And then you have the international left, which dominates a lot of those countries, and especially the media. And they can’t wait, they reflexively rush out to defend whatever tyrant or authoritarian leader’s been criticized or attacked by the U.S.

Anne Applebaum in The Washington Post had a very good piece on this.

Now, hot story number two, Kofi break. Kofi break.

KONDRACKE: Kofi break...I know who you’re talking about.

BARNES: The United Nations secretary general, Kofi Annan (search). Actually does some of the same thing, rush out and, and defend these tyrants who the U.S. and, and others are criticizing. Now, that’s one reason why this scandal in the oil-for-food program, I think, is likely to bring Kofi Annan down.

He just doesn’t have a lot of good achievements or items he can cite that say, Well, you have to leave me here because of, of these. He hasn’t done anything in Ukraine and Iran, in North Korea, Sudan. I’m sure you could add to that list. I mean, I mean, where is this guy? He’s not around doing anything.

So I think the scandal is going to be very, very difficult for him. It was right under the U.N.’s nose that Saddam Hussein raked off $21 billion. Billion. That’s a B.

KONDRACKE: Right, right.

BARNES: Billion dollars in his oil-for-food program, still starving women and children in Iraq. And fortunately, some people have responded forcefully to this. One is Senator Norm Coleman (search) of Minnesota. Watch him.


U.S. SENATOR NORM COLEMAN (R), MINNESOTA: There’s a slow bleed going on. Every week or so, there’s another story, another allegation. His son’s involvement, Benon Sevan’s involvement, $10 billion being $20 billion, money from oil-for-food being used to pay suicide bombers’, homicide bombers’ families. On and on.

This will keep coming out, and Kofi Annan’s going to be buried in it. In the end, it’s going to hurt the U.N.


BARNES: Yes, no, I think he’s right about that. And listen to the lame response by the U.N. spokesman. Listen to this, Mort.


FRED ECKHARD: He has heard no calls for resignation from any member state. There’s some agitation on this issue on the sidelines. That’s fine, that’s healthy debate. But he is intent on continuing his substantive work for the remaining two years and one month of his term.


BARNES: Boy, effete was the right word, wasn’t it?


BARNES: Well, he’s an effete American. But the, look, the Volcker report’s going to come out in a few weeks. It’s the one that was done at the U.N., authorized by the U.N. I think it’s going to be very damaging for Kofi Annan. He’s toast. It’s as simple as that.

KONDRACKE: Look, he undoubtedly deserves to be toast, but the quickest way to ensure that he’s going to stay on through his term is for the United States to be the lead pressure agent of, of his ouster.

And, you know, right after Norm Coleman spouted off last week, Kofi Annan got the backing of various members of the United Nations Security Council, including Britain, even, and Russia, as expected, but also he got 54 African nations to support him.

So the thing to do, and I think what the Bush administration is doing, is watching the evidence and hoping that, that it will build up and, and bounce Kofi Annan, which, on the basis of what you can see, it’s a huge scandal, and he deserves to be bounced on the basis of it.

By the way, the, the president’s going to have to appoint a new American United Nations ambassador now that John Danforth has resigned. And, you know, that’s two good ambassadors, and I hope that’s not John Negroponte, then John Danforth. And I hope the, the next one, maybe you know who it is.

BARNES: Well, I don’t, but I wish it would be John Bolton, a tough guy who’s an assistant secretary of state.

KONDRACKE: Oh, he’ll really warm the hearts of the U.N.

BARNES: Bush loves him.


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