This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys", Jan. 22, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Let’s check out this week’s ups and downs.

DOWN: John Kerry (search). From charging voter suppression in the last election to decrying President Bush or — Bush’s Iraq policy, it’s clear that Kerry is not over election, his Election Day loss. Here he is, talking about his no vote on Condi Rice’s confirmation.


U.S. SENATOR JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: There isn’t anybody in the United States of America who doesn’t admire Dr. Rice for the journey she’s made, for what she represents. And is she qualified for the job? Absolutely. Of course she is, absolutely qualified. The president has a right to make a choice.

But our votes also have to count for something. This is not a question of ratifying a life story as much as it is a judgment that we make about the direction of our nation, the security of our country, and the choices that have been made, the judgments that have been made over the last years.





KONDRACKE: Compare, compare that to Bush’s inaugural address.

BARNES: Yes, I know.

KONDRACKE: This guy, you know, nearly became president. I mean, just this classic, vintage John Kerry, having it both ways. She’s qualified. The president has a right to make the choice. But I still vote no.


KONDRACKE: I mean, it’s sort of like it would be reckless and irresponsible to vote against the $87 billion, but I vote no.

BARNES: Right.

KONDRACKE: I mean, this is not a good start for 2008.

BARNES: And Mort, you’re awfully tough on Kerry. You know what Jay Leno (search) said. He said it was cold and bitter at the inauguration. But enough about John Kerry.

The truth is, Kerry, I think, since November 2 (search), has generally handled himself pretty well, hadn’t grown a beard, for instance.


BARNES: But, but with this stuff about charging voter suppression, which he said in Democratic districts, this is what he said the lines, people have to wait for hours and hours, suggesting that, you know, maybe Republicans were behind something making it hard for Democrats to vote.

Now, the truth is, in these Democratic districts, they’re in cities where they have Democratic elected officials. Why doesn’t he go to them and tell them, Look, you need to have more voting machines around? Why raise it as if there’s some voter suppression which has, has skewed, skewed the election? I mean, that’s, that’s ridiculous. OK.

UP: first lady Laura Bush (search). Her grace, dignity, and quiet beauty were on display this inauguration week, and her popularity is near an all-time high. It’s at 85 percent in a recent poll. Look at that, Mort, 85 percent. That’s higher than "The Beltway Boys" approval rating.


BARNES: And, and about double her husband’s approval rating. Very, very impressive.

KONDRACKE: Yes. I thought she was dazzling particularly in that white dress. But what the heck, I, you know, I thought she was, she, she was so beautiful that she was actually kind of hot.



KONDRACKE: Yes, anyway, she, also deserves credit, I think, for, for helping Bush get elected. And, you know, Bush ought to learn how to dance. I mean, real men can dance, you know.


BARNES: I’m not the one to make that point, Mort.

KONDRACKE: Nor am I, nor am I.

BARNES: Actually, she is a lovely woman.

Hot, though, Mort, I mean, look, you know, you’d rather leer, but I want to mention that she has taken on a very important issue as first lady. And, and you know what that is? Boys. As she’s pointed out, and, and others have as well, society and, and, and the school systems have, have done pretty well by young women now, after 30 years of emphasizing that on, on girls. But boys are the ones that have been failed by schools.

You know, right now, there’s something like 2 million more young women in college than young men. That’s a huge problem, and I’m glad she’s taking on the problem of boys.

KONDRACKE: I, agree with you.

OK, UP: Republicans. The good news, they’ve got the White House, they have both houses of Congress. The bad news, the pressure is on to accomplish big things. As Wall Street Journal editor Paul Gigot (search) wrote this week, "What’s in the decades since they’ve taken the House have the Republicans done that is, as consequential in the same way that, that, as Democratic achievements? After November’s victory, Republicans don’t have any more excuses."

BARNES: Well, I think Paul Gigot, we both know and admire well, has, makes a very good point. I mean, look, we’ve had, and I hate to use this word, Mort, because it makes you nervous, realignment in this country, and Republicans are now the majority party. They have to do with it, not just sit around and try to husband their majority, but actually achieve things. And then, in fact, I think they will hold onto their majority.

Now, what should they achieve? They’ve got, it is redoing social and domestic policy in the United States, taking control and decisions out of the hands of bureaucrats in Washington and elsewhere and putting it in the hands of individuals, allowing them to have control and choice.

Now, how do you do this? You reform Social Security. You have investment accounts in Medicare. You, you inject free-market forces where people will actually have more choice over what they do, and, and who they pay, and how much they pay for health care. You make the tax code simpler. You make a tax rate lower. Those are all the things that I think Republicans need to achieve, not just one or two of those, but all of those, if they’re going to be politically successful.

But just trying to hoard their majority without real achievements won’t work.

KONDRACKE: Yes, well, look, I think for the ownership society and tax reform are excellent ideas, provided that they don’t end up being bounty for the wealthy, and I think that this is the impulse of some, some Republicans and cutting poor people out so that they can’t climb that ladder. That, that’s the danger and, you know, it’s a class system, and the Republicans play class warfare too.

BARNES: Please, please.

KONDRACKE: And again..

BARNES: Please, please. All right, OK, can I move on now?


BARNES: You’ve had your harangue there.

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