This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys," April 15, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.
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JUAN WILLIAMS, GUEST CO-HOST: Let’s check out our ups and downs.
DOWN: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. At least six retired generals have called for Rumsfeld’s resignation, citing his mismanagement of the Iraq war. The White House says Rumsfeld continues to have President Bush’s confidence.
FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: I think this is an unfortunate precedent that they’re doing this and of course if this had happened in World War II or something like that, they would have been thrown in jail even though they retired, these generals complaining.
And some have personal axes to grind against Rumsfeld. They didn’t get promotions or something. General Zinni of course has never liked Rumsfeld and doesn’t like the Iraq War and these are all army and marines, there is no navy officers and air force officers in there.
This can only create, what I think, Juan, will be distrust and tension between the civilians, and we do have civilian control of the military, the civilians at the Pentagon and the military brass at the Pentagon, a tension that could really last an awful long time. If these generals really felt so strongly that things were going badly, why did not they say so when they were still on active duty? They could have said this privately to Rumsfeld or others, gone to see President Bush or something rather than doing that in the safety of retirement, that says it all. They could have done it privately.
They didn’t have to hold a press conference.
WILLIAMS: Fred, you believe in chain of command. If you are there on active duty you want to respect the people — so that’s why I think.
BARNES: If these guys feel so strongly, Juan, if they are doing this they are all parading their pictures on the front page of The New York Times .
WILLIAMS: I don’t think that it is not orchestrated if that is what you’re suggesting.
BARNES: No, I’m not.
WILLIAMS: I think these guys are speaking from conscience and I think they haven’t done it before and I think it is really telling that so many people, that circle keeps getting larger and larger, they keep adding on and so my sense is that people are speaking from the heart and their principle complaint, Fred, is there were not enough boots on the grounds to begin with, that Rumsfeld, who has been so involved with transforming the military, trying to make it lighter and faster and different, did not understand you have to go in there and really dominate and end this war instead of allowing it to become this prolonged effort.
BARNES: And I say this as someone whose father was career military, my grandfather was career military and my uncle was career military, but I think part of the problem is these guys think Rumsfeld was mean to them. That is not enough to do this.
Anyway. DOWN: John McCain. The once media darling is now officially on the outs with the mainstream media. Seems the press liked him better as a maverick also-ran not a conservative who actually has a shot at the White House. Juan, why did the media fall in love with McCain in 2000? That’s because they saw him as the guy poking the eye of the Republican establishment, the Republican Party.
And so they jumped on the bandwagon and really loved him. Of course, he lost then. What has he done differently now? He has become more conservative on taxes and a little bit on abortion. He has been wooing Bush campaign people and went down to see Jeb Bush, the governor of Florida. He is really doing a good job. He has now become the frontrunner.
Now I ask you this question. If there were a Democratic maverick, some guy poking his eye into the liberal Democratic establishment as he was running and criticizing their policies in the Democrat presidential campaign, how would the press treat that person as a wonderful maverick? No, they’d treat him as a troublemaker and a spoiler.
WILLIAMS: I think that is true. Although the idea that Senator McCain is going down now to speak at Liberty — Jerry Falwell — and remember he had harsh things to say about Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson. It does suggest a little bit of a change.
And I think the press is right to cover it, but I think McCain is fascinating. If a Joe Lieberman, a conservative Democratic were in the same position, I don’t know how he would be treated. Although Joe Lieberman was embraced ultimately by the Democratic Party.
BARNES: But he was not running against them.
WILLIAMS: DOWN: accused 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui, his smirking during this week’s victim impact statement did not help but his evil rantings when he took the stand in his own defense, Fred, I think that means Moussaoui is all but certain to face the death penalty. Here’s my worry with Moussaoui.
If you were on the jury and you knew that this guy wants to die, he wants to be executed because that is going to make him a martyr — by the way, this guy is insignificant nothing, it is not proven he was the 20th conspirator. He wasn’t. We have got more significant people in custody, but we haven’t brought them to trial for I don’t know what’s the reason. But this guy wants to be a hero. As far as I’m concerned, Fred, he is not even a nit. If they put him in a dung heap and shut the door and then denied him his martyr status I would be delighted.
BARNES: You don’t think some liberal judge might spring him from jail?
WILLIAMS: Oh, come on. Is that really your worry?
BARNES: That is a question people worry about.
WILLIAMS: Oh, you can .
BARNES: If people thought all these murders that get life imprisonment, they think they should get the death penalty because they don’t think they’ll be kept in jail all that time.
WILLIAMS: All right. Part of the victim impact statements, by the way, Fred, was a recording of a voice mail from Ceecee Lyles who was a flight attendant on the Flight 93. The call goes through her husband Lorne and reads "Baby, you have to listen to me carefully, I am on a plane that has been hijacked and I’m trying to be calm. I hope to be able to see your face again, baby. I love you, baby."
BARNES: When I read that stuff and it just chokes you up.
WILLIAMS: Unbelievable. Unbelievable the cost.
And then Moussaoui is saying, I wish there was more pain.
BARNES: I know that, it really is and it does.
All right. Final up and down – DOWN: Durham, North Carolina, D.A. Michael Nifong, no DNA, no arrests yet and opponents accuse him of trying to parlay to his political advantage as he runs for reelection.
WILLIAMS: What I think. He said you should not vote for me because of this but someone who cares about the facts that is why you vote for me. I am not treating this as an election issue; I am doing this like an umpire in a ballgame. And I thought that is pretty much exactly what he should say.
BARNES: No, no. What he should say this is a case I am investigating and I cannot talk about it. End of story. And he did not say that. Not at campaign events. Come on.
WILLIAMS: He has got to talk a little bit about it given it is an explosive event down there.
BARNES: But not at campaign events.
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