Ups and Downs for the Week of July 28- August 1

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This is a partial transcript from The Beltway Boys, August 2, 2003, that has been edited for clarity. Click here to order the complete transcript.

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

DOWN: North Korean leader Kim Jong Il

KONDRACKE: After months of stonewalling and…rattling, Kim backs down on his key demand for one-on-one talks with the United States on its nuclear program. The North Koreans will now participate in multiparty talks sometime in September.

Here's President Bush on Friday.


PRESIDENT BUSH: We fully understand the past. We are hopeful, however, that Mr. Kim Jong Il (search), because he's hearing other voices, will make the decision to totally dismantle his nuclear weapons (search) program, that he will allow there to be complete transparency and account…and verifiability. And we're optimistic that that can happen.


KONDRACKE: This is a big victory for Bush...


KONDRACKE: ... and, and it's a defeat for the Democrats…who want Bush to yield to Kim Jong Il and go into direct talks. I mean, it's a reversal. I mean, normally Democrats want multilateralism...


KONDRACKE: ... and Bush wants unilateralism. Now it's the reverse. And Bush is doing, is doing the…the multilateral thing.

But what he has got to do is to get China to lean on Kim Jong Il and say to him, Listen, you get rid of your nukes, or…we're going to starve you into regime change. So far, he has not persuaded the Chinese to do that.

BARNES: No, I know he hadn't. The China is actually in a tough position, because they want to denuclearize Korean peninsula, but a…but they want it to be two countries, a North Korea and a South Korea. But if it's denuclearized, the logic is that there will be unity, and the North Koreans will be overwhelmed by on other on economic…issues and so on by the South Koreans.

So the Chinese have a tough line to follow. But at least they're getting involved now more than they were. OK.

DOWN: Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Terminator

BARNES: Despite rampant rumors that he will not run for governor of California, the Terminator (search) still keeps everyone guessing about his political ambitions. But he'll let everyone know his plans next week in a forum that any serious Hollywood politician would choose, "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno."

Now, you know, Mort, I, I like Arnold, I think he would be the best candidate in this recall vote on October 7 to run as a Republican. Or why is he playing these…this game? If he wants to run, announce that he's running. If he's not going to run, just say no. He doesn't have to carry this out.

This may be his best chance to be elected to statewide office in California right now. If he's waiting around for the, you know, the perfect election, he's never going to find it.

Absent Arnold, you know who I think the best candidate would be? He's a guy who's not even going to run, Jim Brulte who is the head of the senate Republicans, state senate Republicans in California. Smart, he's conservative, he's savvy, but, unfortunately, he's not running.

KONDRACKE: Right. I, I actually always harbored doubts that Arnold Schwarzenegger (search) was ever going to run...

BARNES: Yes, I know you did, yes.

KONDRACKE: ... I mean, he, he is a movie guy, you know, he's not, he's really not a, not a politician. And you know, our guest last week, Daniel Weintraub of The Sacramento Bee, said that Arnold probably is not going to run for a very Hollywood (search) reason, that he doesn't want the tabloids to, to drum…you know, regurgitate all this stuff that they've been writing about him for years about womanizing and stuff like that.

DOWN: Homeland Security Chief Tom Ridge

KONDRACKE: He takes big-time flak for a now-abandoned Transportation Security Administration proposal that would have cut back on air marshals, the same week that a new terror advisory was issued to the nation's airlines. Here's Ridge and Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., going at it on Wednesday.


TOM RIDGE, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: But after flight 93, it is doubtful that any group of passengers would let any would-be hijacker take over their plane.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON,D-N.Y.: To have this appear at the very same time that we were being given what was considered credible intelligence about new hijacking plots was just more than anybody should have to tolerate.


KONDRACKE: Now, look, Ridge has got the hardest job in Washington, putting this, this huge department together. But every expert that I talk to about homeland security says that we're way behind, on bio-terrorism preparations, on, on having equipment for fire departments and police departments and, and emergency responders, on port and cyber security.

And a big part of this problem is that President Bush and the Republicans in Congress have failed to adequately fund homeland security. Just last week there was a vote on this very item, where the Democrats were trying to get more money for air marshals, and the, and the House Republicans voted it down.

BARNES: Yes, the…I think the administration's doing fine on prevention of attacks. But if there is an attack, they haven't devoted enough money to responding to those attacks.

Now, I think it was pretty clear in that back-and-forth that we had between Ridge and Hillary Clinton, who won that? Senator Clinton did...

KONDRACKE: Yes, exactly.

BARNES: ... fairly, fairly easy. And it was stupid to be, you know, reducing the number of air marshals because you don't want to pay their hotel bills? I mean, come on, they're not that expensive. They can stay at the Day's Inn, you know? I've, I've stayed at those places. They're not that bad.

DOWN: Gay Marriage

BARNES: Despite impressive gains for the gay rights (search) movement in recent months, Americans and President Bush are queasy when it comes to giving gay people the right to marry. The latest Wall Street Journal poll shows Americans support civil unions by a margin of 53 percent to 34 percent, but those numbers flip when asked if they support gay marriage. There, it's 51 percent who oppose it.

Now, I think a couple things are going on here. One is that by drawing the line, as President Bush and, and conservatives and Republicans and others have, against gay marriage, I think they've made civil unions more likely, because the, because the line is not drawn against them.

Now, I know you tried to get…you had somebody ask at the White House briefing with the new press secretary, Scott McClellan (search), to get what's Bush's position on civil unions, and he got some garbled answer. I couldn't make heads or tails out of it.

In truth, I think Bush…he won't say this publicly, but believes in the Cheney position. As Cheney said back in the 2000 campaign, that civil unions, that's up to the states.

But there's…the other factor here is, the president is personally opposed to gay marriage, but I think he also recognizes it as a great issue to stir up social conservatives, who are a big part of his base. And, and they care about this issue, and, and you'll probably here more about it.

KONDRACKE: Well, this presents a big test for George Bush. Is he really a compassionate conservative or not? If he's a compassionate conservative, then he's going to, then he's going to open the way for civil unions and be tolerant toward that idea. If he's going to, if he's going to pander to his base...

BARNES: Wait a minute.

KONDRACKE: ... then, then, then he's going to make gay marriage a wedge issue in the campaign, and it could be very ugly.

BARNES: But it is a legitimate issue, Mort.

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