Ups and Downs for the Week of Dec. 17 - 21

This partial transcript of The Beltway Boys, Dec. 22, was provided by the Federal Document Clearing House. Click here to order the complete transcript.

MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Let's go to the ups and downs.

Down, American Taliban fighter John Walker. After some conflicting signals, the Bush administration hints that Walker could face at least one charge that could carry the death penalty. Here's Bush on Friday linking Walker directly to al Qaeda.


BUSH: Walker's unique in that he's the first American al Qaeda fighter that we have captured.

Nothing has been ruled out, because I want to make obviously that every decision we make at this point will set precedent for future decisions.


KONDRACKE: Well, nobody knows for sure what's going to happen to Walker, but I guarantee you he is going to spend some time in jail.

FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: Look, he is one lucky guy. I mean, he's going to be tried in a U.S. court with, you know, some wing-ding lawyer who'll probably get volunteered, being, you know, the latest Johnnie Cochran, and this is going to be a lot better, whatever the verdicts, be a lot better than what would have happened if he'd been left with the Northern Alliance, as other foreign fighters with Taliban had been, had been turned over to. He's a lucky guy to be here. All right.

Down, Argentina.

After four years of double-digit unemployment and rising poverty, violence erupts across the country, collapsing Argentina's ruling government and putting in jeopardy the repayment of the $132 billion in foreign debt that Argentina owes.

Now, look, Argentina's not the first country that the International Monetary Fund has driven into the ground economically by insisting on an austerity plan, and, you know, forcing them to raise taxes in particular, during a deep recession which obviously causes a depression. Argentina should have done what Russia did when faced with this pressure from the IMF, and that is to throw the IMF out, cut taxes, and have some economic reform. And Russia's beginning to have a real economy now.

KONDRACKE: Yes, but this is not just the IMF's fault. I mean, Argentina is...

BARNES: No, but corrupt.

KONDRACKE: ... is -- don't -- well...


KONDRACKE: ... it's its own fault. I mean, it's overconsumption...


KONDRACKE: ... running up foreign debt bigger than in, than almost anybody else's. Now they, now they're going to bring back the Peronistas, which are going to renege on the foreign debt...


KONDRACKE: ... which is going to reduce foreign investment.

BARNES: Right, yes.

KONDRACKE: Bad, bad policy.

Down, former president Bill Clinton.

At a time when President Bush's popularity is soaring, Bill Clinton launches a campaign to get himself back in the spotlight, summoning aides to come up with ways to remind the public of his accomplishments. And to defend his failure to shut down bin Laden when he had the chance.

Now, you know, one thing you have to say is that bin Laden had this notion that the United States is a paper tiger, and Bill Clinton is heavily responsible for it, because, you know, he had an idea that bin Laden was behind terrorist attacks...

BARNES: Right.

KONDRACKE: ... and basically never shut the guy down. Now, I got to say that President Bush during his first nine months in office before September 11 didn't really do it either.

BARNES: What, are you drawing some moral equivalence there?

KONDRACKE: I am saying that Clinton's culpability...

BARNES: Right.

KONDRACKE: ... is partly offset by...

BARNES: All right.

KONDRACKE: ... Bush's.

BARNES: We'll all be watching this it's-all-about-me-too. But the truth is, when Clinton had that meeting with aides and said, You got to go out and defend my image, he had one very, very valid point, and that is, remember Clinton tried most of the time to draw the Democratic Party to the center. He's worried now that it's lurching back to the left. That's a legitimate worry, and he's smart to bring it up. He might help the Democratic Party for a change.

KONDRACKE: Fred Barnes has something good to say about Bill Clinton. Wow.

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