Ups and Downs for the Week of January 2
This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys", January 7, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.
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MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Let’s check our ups and downs for this week.
DOWN: Tom DeLay. His bid to retain his leadership post is over, clearing the way for new leadership elections in the House of Representatives. Here’s DeLay just a little while ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE TOM DELAY (R), TEXAS: ... serving in that capacity through the trust and confidence of my colleagues in the House has been a really great honor these last three years. But the job of majority leader is too important to be hamstrung by personal distraction.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: Even you, Mort, a confirmed DeLay obsessive, ought to give him credit for stepping down.
BARNES: Baloney. Obsessive.
But you ought to give him credit for stepping down for the good of his party. I mean, the guy has been unfairly treated, I think, certainly by the rogue Texas prosecutor, Ronnie Earle, who’s going to lose that case against DeLay, by the mainstream media, which hates DeLay because he’s a tough, effective conservative who sort of spits in the eye of the media, metaphorically speaking.
And now by the Bush Justice Department, which has said they’ll be investigating charges against DeLay’s relationship with, with the disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff for over, for maybe a year.
Given that, it’s hard for DeLay to perform as majority leader with that cloud over his head.
So who will replace DeLay? I think it’s probably going to be the interim majority leader, Roy Blunt of Missouri, who’s very effective in his own right. But he’ll have to beat John Boehner of Ohio, who is a serious candidate. I mean, this will be a close race, I suspect.
And, Blunt’s sidekick, Eric Cantor of Virginia, I think, will probably win the other to be the permanent whip.
KONDRACKE: Well, and we should point out that Dennis Hastert will stay as speaker.
KONDRACKE: I agree with you about, about Blunt and Cantor being favored.
BARNES: Oh, I think they’re going to win. They’re not just favored.
KONDRACKE: Am I a DeLay obsessive? Well, you can call me that. But I really do think that DeLay represents what’s come to be the worst in politics in Washington, hyper partisanship, take no prisoners, power politics. I mean, this is a guy who spouts morality all the time but operates like a Machiavellian.
And, you know, he did step aside for the good of his party and all that. But he was on his way out anyway, especially after the Abramoff indictment on charges of fraud and conspiracy. DeLay was not named in the indictment, but his deputy chief of staff was.
And the whole system that DeLay didn’t originate, but helped set up, the K-Street project, this sleazy lobbyist system, where the Republicans intimidated firms and trade associations into firing Democrats and hiring Republicans, and then the Republicans would raise all this money, and in return for that, they would get a seat at the table in writing legislation.
I mean, all of this stuff, you know, does constitute what the Democrats call -- a climate of corruption.
And look, the Democrats did it too when they were in power. But, DeLay, "perfected" it.
BARNES: Lobbyist reform is ridiculous. Lobbyists are always going to act like lobbyists, throwing around money and gifts and, you know, things of value and so on. Lobbyists aren’t the problem. Members of Congress, you can, curb. And how do you do it? What’s the solution to this problem?
It is term limits, Mort.
KONDRACKE: I don’t agree.
BARNES: All right.
UP: Judge Samuel Alito. He goes into next week’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings with the American Bar Association’s highest rating of well qualified. And Democrats are signaling no filibuster, yet.
You know, I think Alito is about as close to being a slam-dunk to being confirmed as you can possibly get. And Democrats couldn’t pull off a filibuster if they wanted to. I think Alito will get somewhere between 60 and, and 65 votes.
Not as many as the 78 which John Roberts got. And Democrats, you know, think they’re going to hit him with questions about President Bush’s wiretapping policy, which has become somewhat controversial. Look, Mort, I’ve even heard you say it’s easy for Alito to deal with these questions there, because it would, you know, it would be improper for him to give a prior opinion knowing that case will come before the Supreme Court.
BARNES: So he’ll say he can’t answer it, and shouldn’t.
KONDRACKE: Look, I think all of that is true. Everything depends on these hearings that are, that are starting on Monday. And the, you know, the difference between Roberts and Alito is that Alito has a much longer paper trail, dating back to his time in the Justice Department, where he wrote a lot of memos saying that he didn’t think that Roe v. Wade was legitimately decided, and also his record as a judge backing executive power.
Now, he can evade most questions dealing with pending cases if the Democrats can trap him saying something not good about his record, maybe they can mount some opposition. But I think it’s unlikely.
DOWN: Democratic Congressman John Murtha. Just days after saying that Americans were justified in not volunteering for military duty, Murtha was forced to, "clarify" his remarks after this slap down from the Pentagon’s top general. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. PETER PACE, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: That’s damaging to recruiting. It’s damaging to morale of the troops who are deployed. And it’s damaging to the morale of their families, who believe in what they’re doing just to serve this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KONDRACKE: Now, recruiting is down, and John Murtha didn’t cause that to happen. But he should not be discouraging men and women from, from actually serving their country.
Look, John Murtha had a distinguished military career, and then he’s had a long, distinguished congressional career, based on operating behind the scenes. He practically never talked to the media. I think that the guy has become intoxicated with ever since he emerged as the spokesman on behalf of unilateral withdrawal from Iraq.
I think what we should have, return to the old days of John Murtha, let Nancy Pelosi do her own talking.
BARNES: I agree that being the center of attention can be addictive, and you’re probably right about Murtha. I would add something that the media never mentions is the Murtha has been wrong in about everything he’s said about Iraq.
You know, he said the American troops are the main target of the terrorists. It’s not American troops; it’s Iraqis, civilians, particularly those lining up to join the, the army or the police force. Those are the main targets.
And I could continue on this list, but I won’t.
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