This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys", August 27, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.
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FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: Time for this week’s ups and downs.
UP: Judge John Roberts (search). Despite opposition by some liberal interest groups and sniping from Democrats, Roberts is still on track for confirmation. The new twist this week, the Judiciary Committee’s only female member, that’s Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein (search) of California, is throwing down the gauntlet on abortion. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: It would be very difficult for me to vote to confirm someone to the Supreme Court whom I knew would overturn Roe.
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MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Yes, I don’t think she’s going to find out for sure whether he’s going to overturn Roe v. Wade (search). But I do think that, that he ought to be questioned closely on Roe to find out what his judicial philosophy and his, and his attitude is on such things as, Is there a privacy right in the, in the Constitution? Was Roe rightly or wrongly decided? How does he weigh precedent in deciding whether to overturn a decision like Roe, not necessarily Roe?
And, you know, and, and what about the social discord that might ensue if a precedent gets overturned? All those are legitimate questions I’m unsure that, that he’s going to answer them straightforwardly, or, you know, completely, but they ought to be posed.
BARNES: Well, here’s my question, then. Do you think the Ginsburg precedent whereby you’ll remember in, what, 1993, when Ruth Bader Ginsburg (search) was nominated by President Clinton, she didn’t answer much of anything. I mean, she took a broad view of anything that might touch on any decision that she might ever have to make on the Supreme Court.
Should that apply to him, or is there a double standard here?
KONDRACKE: Well, I mean, look, he can get away with that. I think, I think the votes are such that he can get away with that, if that’s what he wants to do. I’d like to hear his answers.
KONDRACKE: You know, Roe is two votes away from being overturned. And it’s important, and it’s a major issue, it is the major issue in this confirmation. So I’d like to hear the, the answers to the questions out of my curiosity.
BARNES: If you don’t get it, then what?
KONDRACKE: Well, I mean, you know, I would...
BARNES: Dianne Feinstein suggested she might vote against him. Well, I guess she just said she’d vote against him if he said I’m going to overturn Roe.
BARNES: Yes, that’s not going to happen.
KONDRACKE: Right, OK.
BARNES: All right, let me talk about Republicans here. Republicans, I think, are overconfident about Roberts. I think Democrats are going to do whatever they can to defeat him. They’ll, you know, pull any thread they can, no matter how irrelevant, to defeat him, and I think too many Republicans have declared victory.
Now, this is not a slam-dunk, this is a fight to the death.
KONDRACKE: Well, it’s a fight, but I think they’re going to win it.
OK, UP: BRAC (search), the Base Realignment and Closure Commission. They showed their independence from the Pentagon by voting to save several military facilities from closure. Among the biggest winners, Ellsworth Air Force Base (search) in Rapid City, South Dakota. Here’s a very relieved freshman senator, John Thune.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN THUNE (R), SOUTH DAKOTA: We’re thrilled, as I said, everybody is, by the result. And I don’t care, in South Dakota, if you’re a Republican or a Democrat, or who you voted for last fall. I think everybody in South Dakota realizes that this teamwork together, and we did so in a way that enabled us to get a result from this BRAC commission that keeps that base open.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BARNES: Absent other problems, he just got reelected although that won’t come up until when, 2010.
Look, I have mixed feelings about BRAC. I think it’s done a good job prior to this in cleaning out all those old World War II bases that, if left to the local members of Congress, would, would still be there now employing people in, in jobs that didn’t need to be done.
But now they’re facing situations where the savings are small and the changes are, are not going to really help the U.S. militarily, tactically or strategically. So I think BRAC’s time is basically up. And even they’ve gone a little too far this time. Walter Reed Army Hospital in, in Washington, D.C., is a beautiful site, is an historic site. Presidents have been there, prisoners of war; or rather wounded veterans from war from Iraq are there now. It really ought to be preserved and not turned into a place for condos.
So for now, and for years to come, I think BRAC ought to go home and stay there.
KONDRACKE: Well, I mean, if there’s a need for BRACs, there ought to be BRACs, and if there aren’t, there isn’t a need, there won’t be BRACs.
BARNES: It’s not that easy, Mort.
KONDRACKE: Well, it -- I mean, Congress has to authorize them, and they haven’t done it for, since 1995, when, you’ll remember, Bill Clinton specifically kept Ellsworth Air Force Base off the list in order to help Tom Daschle (search) politically. Bush did not do that this time.
KONDRACKE: And it was the BRAC commission itself that saved Ellsworth Air Force Base, thereby establishing that there is a military utility for it.
BARNES: Yes, but...
KONDRACKE: I think that puts it in good, good standing.
BARNES: All right.
DOWN: France. Gee, I like saying that. They apparently can’t stand an American winning the Tour de France (search) seven times in a row. A French lab says Lance Armstrong (search) used a performance-enhancing drug back in 1999. Just getting around to testing, I guess. Lance says it’s all a setup: "If we consider the landscape between Americans and the French right now, obviously relations are strained. I’ve said it for seven years, I have never doped."
KONDRACKE: Well, you know, I was just in Paris, and I was surprised at how nice the French actually are.
KONDRACKE: They were even nice to people who don’t speak much French. So, I, you know, but independent of that, you know, I think that they’ve been after Lance Armstrong for years. They can’t stand it that an American wins their race. Now, look, he’s won seven...
KONDRACKE: Tour de Frances.
KONDRACKE: There’s a lot of Armstrong urine around. And, you know, none of it’s ever been questioned before.
BARNES: Mort, don’t go there.
BARNES: Look, the fact is, France is in decline. It hasn’t won a Tour de France in 20 years. And this is a vendetta to sort of pretend like what’s happening in France is a symbol of French decline.
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