Ups and Downs for the Week of March 3-7

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This is a partial transcript from The Beltway Boys, March 8, 2003, that has been edited for clarity. Click here to order the complete transcript.

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MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: It’s time for the Ups and Downs now.

DOWN: Usama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda network

KONDRACKE: The noose is tightening as the arrest of the -- of his number three man, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, leads to important clues about bin Laden's whereabouts and the inner workings of the terror network.

Now, I doubt that Mohammed is blabbing, and, you know, pointing fingers to where Usama bin Laden can be found. But we did uncover computers, we've discovered a lot of records in Rawalpindi, where Mohammed was arrested last week.


KONDRACKE: And they may lead us to, to, to other terrorists, including, there were allegedly phone numbers in the United States. So there may be some arrests here too.

BARNES: Yes. Yes, Mort, remember Senator Bob Graham, who's now running for the Democratic presidential nomination, said over and over again that the U.S. could not fight a war on terrorism at the same time it was gearing up to fight a war with Iraq.

Now, doesn't the apprehension of this guy Mohammed, number three in line in al Qaeda, doesn't that show that both can be done and that he and a lot of Democrats, Graham and a lot of Democrats, plus some Republicans, were wrong in claiming that?

I mean, you can do both of them.

KONDRACKE: Yes, obviously, obviously you can.

BARNES: OK, good, I just wanted to get that on the record.

DOWN: North Korean leader Kim Jong Il

BARNES: The U.S. answers his latest provocations with the deployment of two dozen B-1 and B-52 bombers to Guam, and President Bush's message to Kim, who's been pressing for direct talks, don't hold your breath, pal.

Here's the president Thursday night.


BUSH: We've tried bilateral negotiations with North Korea. My predecessor, in a good-faith effort, entered into a framework agreement. The United States honored its side of the agreement. North Korea didn't.


KONDRACKE: Yes, well, the -- you know, Kim Jong Il just may be nutty enough to think that we really are going to attack him. And this is a place where I think the Democrats have it right and the president has its, has, has it wrong. The Democrats are urging direct negotiations with North Korea.

And I think that before this situation gets out of hand with them, you know, sending jets up to try to force down American planes, and we're sending B-52s off to Guam, that we ought to have direct talks.

But the deal ought to be, listen, buddy, Kim Jong Il, we will, we will give you a nonaggression pact, we will help prop up your pathetic little country, keep it from collapsing, but you've got to get rid of all your nuclear weapons, you got to send the fuel rods out of the country, you got to close down Yongbyon, or else. That should be the deal.

BARNES: Mort, Mort, that is very similar to the deal that was made with the Clinton administration in, in good faith in 1994, and, and, and Kim violated it. I don't know why he'd accept it this time, or if he did, he'd just violate it again, so...

KONDRACKE: Well, he accepted it. Yes, he cheated.

BARNES: Yes. Yes, OK, he cheated.

KONDRACKE: We got to catch him, we got to catch him next time.

BARNES: You know what's encouraging, though, is South Korea now, Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld said, You know, maybe we should move the American troops, 37,000 of them in South Korea, away from the border. The South Korean government went crazy. No, we need that trip wire. And there was actually a large pro-American demonstration in Korea. About time.

UP: Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle

KONDRACKE: Daschle and the Senate Democrats beat back a GOP effort to break the filibuster on judicial nominee Miguel Estrada, and Daschle promises more of the same. Listen.


SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MINORITY LEADER: That's our position. That will be our position, regardless of whatever number of votes that are cast. And I am quite confident that the vote will remain exactly the same.


BARNES: Well, you know, he has reason to be confident. He's done very well so far, holding all but four Democrats together. Republicans need five more Democrats to defect.

And, and I think Republicans really have to take this thing more seriously. They have to really raise the temperature and raise the visibility. They got to go force the Democrats to filibuster 24/7. Bring the cots in, make them really do it.

And secondly, the president's got to talk about this every day, and I haven't seen any willingness for the -- either of those things to happen, Republicans or Bush.

KONDRACKE: Well, the problem is that the president is obviously preoccupied with the war...

BARNES: Yes, I know.

KONDRACKE: ... which is a, which is a much, much bigger thing.

Now, Daschle has plans for lots of other filibusters and threatened filibusters. I mean, he wants to make Bush produce 60 votes for absolutely everything that, that it's possible to do that on this year.


KONDRACKE: The problem for the Democrats is, like it was in, in the, in the last Congress, when they were in the majority, that people don't know what they're, they're for. They know what they're against. And they're, you know, against practically everything that Bush is in favor of, which is fine, but you have to have an agenda of your own. And what cost them the majority last time was that people don't know what they're for, and they still don't know what they're for.

BARNES: Right, yes, well, I -- I have a pretty good idea, but it's so liberal that they don't want to tell people, because they won't like it. Maybe that's what it is, Mort, if they're trying to hide it. OK.

DOWN: The Screen Actors Guild

BARNES: Despite a lack of evidence that any actor has been punished for his or her stance against a war in Iraq, the Screen Actors Guild issues a stern and vastly premature warning against blacklisting.

Quote, "We deplore the idea that those in the public eye should suffer professionally for having the courage to give voice to their views. Even a hint of the blacklist must never again be tolerated in this nation," unquote.

Well, Mort, there hasn't been a hint of a blacklist. And, of course, these actors and entertainers, most of whom are has-beens, are, are so self-absorbed, they take themselves way too seriously. But I'll have to admit, I would not go see a Sean Penn movie for both aesthetic and political reasons.

KONDRACKE: Yes, well, the -- Martin Sheen alleged that some NBC executive said he was uncomfortable...


KONDRACKE: ... with, with Sheen's activism. This is hardly the House Un-American Activities Committee, which the, which SAG was raising...


KONDRACKE: ... the specter of again.


KONDRACKE: SAG, there is no House Un-American Activities...

BARNES: I know.

KONDRACKE: ... Committee any more.

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