Ups and Downs for the Week of Jan. 21 - 25

This partial transcript of The Beltway Boys, Jan. 26, 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 now.

Up: Campaign Finance Reform

Up, campaign finance reform.  Thanks to the Enron debacle, campaign finance reform finally gets the signatures it needs to secure a debate and a vote in the House of Representatives.

You know, campaign finance reform reminds me of Lord of the Rings, and to tell you the truth, Christopher Shays, the chief House sponsor...


KONDRACKE:  ... it sort of reminds me of Frodo, the, the lead character in, in Lord of the Rings.  I mean, here you have...

BARNES:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) – Not in, not in hair.

KONDRACKE:  Yes, well, here you have campaign finance reform constantly being beset by monsters trying to kill it all the time.  Finally it has gotten across the river.  But I'll tell you, Mount Doom, the, the goal, is still a long way off.

BARNES:  Well, look, I know you think that the – those who oppose campaign finance reform, such as myself, are monsters, we're blocking this much-needed legislation.  But it still may be blocked or modified, though I’ll have to say, the chances are – have dwindled a lot, and Enron's had an impact.

Obviously it's going to pass the House now, a, a, a slightly different bill has passed the Senate.  The goal of the opponents is to make sure there’s a House-Senate conference, because there you have a third party that gets involved.  That's the White House.  The president said he's going to sign whatever comes out.  But then he can really get in there and shape it.

And if there's not a stalemate, that'd be the best thing.  But there’s not a still one (ph).  Maybe they can raise the hard money amount, you know, from $1,000 to $3,000 or something.  It's $2,000 in the Senate bill.   Or put a cap on soft money rather than end it.

But it's clear the reformers have the upper hand, no question about that.

Up: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld

BARNES:  Up, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.  In a week where President Bush earmarks a $48 billion increase in the Pentagon budget, Rumsfeld makes no apologies for U.S. treatment of detainees in Guantanamo Bay.

Listen to him here.  Love that Rumsfeld.


DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE:  Will any single prisoner be treated humanely?  You bet.  When they are being moved from place to place, will they be restrained in a way so that they're less likely to be able to kill an American soldier?  You bet.

Is it inhumane to do that?  No.  Would it be stupid to do anything else?  Yes.

Just for the sake of the listening world, Guantanamo Bay's climate is different than Afghanistan.  To be in a eight-by-eight cell in beautiful sunny Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is not a inhumane treatment.


BARNES:  Is Don Rumsfeld winning battles inside Washington and around the world?  You bet.  No question about that.  I mean, look, he obviously trumped Mitch Daniels, the budget director, to get this huge surge in defense spending, much needed.  He's absolutely right.  But I'm surprised that he got as much as he did.

And secondly, look, he is really winning this argument against feckless Europeans who didn't help at all in the war against terrorism in Afghanistan, who are now coming up with this fashionable anti-Americanism that – about how we're mistreating these prisoners down there.

They are not prisoners of war, contrary to what Europe says.  Charles Krauthammer, our, our, our colleague, has written brilliantly about this.   They are what's known as...

KONDRACKE:  Detainees.

BARNES:  Yes, yes, unlawful, but detainees, no, unlawful combatants.   They don't wear uniforms, they don't have ranks, they kill civilians, and so on.  This allows us to imprison them and question them, and they have to answer.

KONDRACKE:  Yes.  Well, I just hope that Rumsfeld has time to manage all this money that he's going to get...


KONDRACKE:  ... which is a problem.  And also that he's got somebody working on war plans to topple Saddam Hussein...


KONDRACKE:  ... soon.

BARNES:  Definitely.

Down: American Taliban John Walker

KONDRACKE:  Down, American Taliban John Walker.  A newly shorn Walker returns to America to formally face charges that he conspired to kill U.S.  citizens abroad and provided materials support to terrorists.  We have John Walker’s father trying to explain how he is not really a bad guy...


KONDRACKE:  ... not really anti-American, in fact, he's sort of like Yankee Doodle.  I mean, it's ridiculous, but here it goes.


FRANK LINDH, JOHN WALKER'S FATHER:  John loves America.  We love America.  John did not do anything against America.  John did not take up arms against America.  He never meant to harm any American, and he never did harm any American.




KONDRACKE:  ... Walker's got a (UNINTELLIGIBLE), got a, got a lawyer, however.  He – his father's not much good, but his, but his lawyer might, might get him off.

BARNES:  You know, look, he's a guy, Walker, he's endorsed the 9/11 attacks.  He was there at the time in the prison in northern Afghanistan when the American CIA agent, Johnny Spann, was killed, so, look, he's got big problems.

Down: Director Robert Altman 

BARNES:  Down, director Robert Altman.  Altman goes beyond even his usual level of anti-American rhetoric.  In an interview this week with The Times of London, quote, "When I see an American flag flying, it's a joke.  This present government in America I just found disgusting.  The idea that George Bush could run a baseball team successfully – he can't even speak.   I just find him an embarrassment."

Well, I find Altman an embarrassment.  But here's something that, that I think is interesting.  I mean, he's a guy who actually, as bad as he is on this subject, has made some good movies, Gosford Park.  When he was at the Golden Globes winning an award, for Gosford Park, he didn't have the guts to say to an American television audience what he said to a London newspaper.

KONDRACKE:  Well, I wish, I, I wish he actually had, so he'd have been booed off the stage.

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