Ups and Downs: Deep Divisions Within the GOP

This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys," on May 6, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

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JUAN WILLIAMS, CO-HOST: Let's check out our "Ups and Downs" for the week.

DOWN: Republicans, from immigration spending and gas prices, Republicans are facing major divisions in the party.

Especially on gas, Fred. I was surprised by that. Remember this wonderful proposal, $100 rebate? Gee, let me read for you what John Boehner had to say about it:

"The really insulting part" — now, remember, he's a Republican — "The really insulting part of the whole proposal was that somebody would offer $100 to every American family over this. This is not going to solve the problem."

Now, listen to what his fellow Republican, Rick Santorum, in the Senate, had to say in defense of this proposal.


SEN. RICK SANTORUM, R-PA.: I know a lot of people are focused on the rebate and have suggested that that doesn't do anything to solve the crisis. Well, it wasn't intended to do anything to increase supply or reduce demand. It was a way of trying to provide some temporary help at a time of gas price spikes this summer driving season.


WILLIAMS: Well, it did provide some laughs. I don't know about any help.

But, you know, you put that together with the idea that the president, now, is threatening to veto a $109 billion emergency spending bill that was supposed to be for Iraq and hurricane relief. You've got a fight between the Republican-led Senate and the Republican-led House. And the Republican White House is there waiting to veto.

Fred, there's a lot of — keep your head down, a lot of Republican crossfire in this town.

FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: Yes, there is. This is where President Bush obviously has to step in. And I hope he does veto a spending bill. I mean, it's the Senate, when it has more money in it. And when it comes to him, it's over his limit, of which, I think, is $91 billion or $92 billion. He ought to veto it. It'll feel good for him. He hasn't had a veto yet. And all the conservatives out there, who are complaining about spending out of control, will be happy with that.

See, what the president has to do, here, is push some issues that are going to help Republicans in the election this fall, and stir Republican turnout.

Because, you go around the country, and you find Republicans and conservatives, they're all down in the dumps and depressed. And they don't look like a crowd that's going to rush to the polls in November 7.

So he can veto a spending bill. Then, you know he's going to send up a new slew of conservative judges for the Appeals Court. That's another issue that's popular.

He's pushing to have his tax cuts extended. That's another issue that's important. And then, of course, what's the big issue of 2006? Immigration.

Now, the president, I think, has a good chance of being able to sign a bill that will do two things. Conservatives, a lot of them will like the first part that is this stepped up border enforcement. That is really needed.

And others, including me, and probable you, will like the earned citizenship part that will allow those illegal immigrants, who have been here for years, to earn their way to citizenship.

WILLIAMS: But you know — Fred, you know what you...

BARNES: All of these, when you package them all together, I think it's something that can stir voters.

WILLIAMS: I agree. But you know what you're going to see is, I think, we have evidence that Karl Rove is back in the driver's seat.


WILLIAMS: Because I think you're going to see — not only are you going to see an emphasis on things, like, conservative judges and tax cuts, you're going to see, I believe, a tax on gay marriage. You`re going to hear more talk about abortion. And maybe something to protests flag burning. Anything to stir up the — I think it's even cynical, in my opinion.

BARNES: Oh, come on, now.

All right. DOWN: Democratic and presidential hopeful Senator Joe Biden. His proposal to divide up Iraq into three separate Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish regions was universally panned here in Washington, even among Democrats.

Here's Biden defending his proposal this week.


SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN, D-DEL.: A much broader political settlement that gives each community breathing space, I believe, is the best way to prevent a civil war and to keep Iraq intact.


WILLIAMS: Well, now, here's the situation. You had Democrats come out and say, you know what, that's not what we went to Iraq for. It's not to split up the country. We went they're to try to unify.

And people said, well, this is not something that can be imposed externally by the United States. You've got to wait for the Iraqis, as they go forward in their political process, to decide how they want to do it.

Nonetheless, give Joe Biden credit. He had an idea. I have not heard ideas coming from anyone as to how to get us out of this mess.

BARNES: Well, there are a lot of ideas around there. It's just ones that liberals and Democrats don't like. And they didn't like this either, because so many of them just want to pull out of Iraq. That's the problem.

You know, Biden said, not in this bite, but he said elsewhere that he thinks the terrorists can't win in Iraq. And of course they can. But if you set up a separate Sunni part, you know.

An autonomous Sunni region, they could win in that region, creating this terrorist haven that would be exporting terrorism to the rest of Iraq, to a Kurdish and a Shiite area, and all around the Middle East. That's what I think is the worst part of his proposal.

Now, look, Biden is a serious guy, no question about that. He is talking again about running for president in 2008. But just because he had an idea, doesn't mean it was a good idea. And it was not a good idea.

WILLIAMS: By the way, you know who's the biggest source of objection to this idea on the ground in Iraq are the Sunnis, who want to maintain a unified country. Because they're a minority. And they want keep control of that oil revenue. So I think there's some surprising aspects in this. But you got to say, how long have we been in there, Fred? How many Americans have died? We need ideas.

BARNES: Well, how long were our troops in Germany?

WILLIAMS: Oh, come on. There is nothing comparable here.

BARNES: Remember, we had several thousand troops for 40 or 50 years.

WILLIAMS: This is a war that we decided to go into for our own reasons, or the administration's reason. And they were not as advertised. That's the good.

BARNES: And we liberated 25 million people from one of the worst tyrannies in history.

WILLIAMS: My hat's off to that, but there are some other problems. And I hope you realize and recognize those.

All right. Back to the "Ups and Downs."

UP: Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick. He may not have the star power of George Clooney, but Bob Zoellick's doing his on part to solve the crisis in Darfur.

He was in the region this week pushing both sides very hard, very hard to reach a political settlement to end the genocide. Fred, this guy deserves all the credit in the world.

BARNES: Yes, he deserves some credit. And I am sorry Mort's not here to give him credit. You know, Mort has been Bob Zoellick's champion for years, and years, and years. He just thinks that Zoellick is enormously talented. And maybe Mort's vindicated. But, you know, he's off getting married.

WILLIAMS: He's the marrying kind.

BARNES: He is the marrying kind, getting married again Saturday.

But look, Zoellick did achieve a breakthrough when he got one of the rebel groups to agree with the Sudanese government to reach an agreement there. And the aim, of course, is to cut out the slaughter of all these people in western Sudan.

Now, there are two more rebel groups to go. And that is a big hurdle as well. And then, Zoellick has to get agreement to send in a U.S. peacekeeping force.

All I can say is, you've done well so far, but good luck on the rest.

WILLIAMS: This is the best of the Bush administration. This is the best, to pay attention to an issue that has been pushed to the sidelines, marginalized, for too long. The amount of life lost there is a real tragedy.

BARNES: You know, if was — you've got to give George Clooney credit. I mean, he made a silly movie in that "Syriana," but you know, pushing for help in Darfur to stop the genocide? I give him credit.

WILLIAMS: I know. He had thousands out here on the mall the other day.

BARNES: Yes, yes. Good for him.

All right.

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