Ups and Downs for the Week of May 12-16

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This is a partial transcript from The Beltway Boys, May 17, 2003, that has been edited for clarity. Click here to order the complete transcript.

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MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: OK, it's time for the Ups and Downs.

UP: Ambassador Paul Bremer

KONDRACKE: Bremer (search) arrives in, in the Iraqi capital this week vowing to restore law and order and rid the country of all vestiges of Saddam Hussein's (search) regime.

He says that life is getting better for Iraqi citizens but that security remains the top priority. Listen to him.


L. PAUL BREMER, IRAQ CIVILIAN ADMINISTRATOR:  This is not a country in anarchy. People are going about their business. They are going about their lives. Saddam Hussein was in power for 20 years. His instruments and means of brutality and repression run deep into society and throughout it. We have an obligation to the Iraqi people now to build the new Iraq without those instruments.


FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: Lord Bremer of Mesopotamia, that's what The Wall Street Journal editorial page has called him, and I'm glad they did. You know, he, because he is sort of an American viceroy running things in Iraq postwar, and he's hit the ground running, and he doesn't seem to be embarrassed about being in charge of an occupation, because that's what we need to have, an occupation there.

He has hit the ground running. He's attacking -- arresting criminals, cracking down on the Baath Party (search) remnants and throwing people out of the interim government that are -- who won't repudiate the Baath Party and so on. More American troops are coming, more military police are coming, because he has to restore order fully in Baghdad, because it's the capital.

My one worry, The New Republic claims that American plans are for the troop contingent to be down to 30,000 troops in Iraq this fall. That is not enough. They need to be more staying longer to ensure that democracy takes root.

KONDRACKE: Yes, I'm glad that Bremer, that Bremer's on the case, and he seems to be starting out the right way. But his appointment -- Just a second, look...

BARNES: You always have a but.

KONDRACKE: ... his appointment, his appointment itself, his replacement, his replacing Jay Garner as the viceroy...


KONDRACKE: ... is evidence itself of something that Joe Biden, senator from Delaware, and Richard Lugar, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, warned about before the war...


KONDRACKE: ... get ready for the aftermath, and get -- have a plan in place.


KONDRACKE: And they clearly -- this military at a one -- did have -- had a wonderful war plan, but it had a lousy postwar plan. And as a result, we didn't have enough forces there, we still don't know how many troops it's going to take and for how long it's going to take.

Ordinary services, including police and water...and stuff like that are not up and running. And it hurts the long-run chances of establish a democracy.

BARNES: Yes. No, I agree with you on that....the only thing I fear more than when you say "but" is when you say, "Furthermore."

KONDRACKE: All right, I'm through.

BARNES: Anyway, OK.

DOWN: Texas Democrats

BARNES: Fifty-one Democratic members of the state legislature skipped town -- that's Austin -- to prevent a vote on a GOP redistricting plan. Here's House majority leader Tom DeLay in Washington, who pushed the remap plan, and one of the rebel Democrats' response.


REP. TOM DELAY (R-TX), MAJORITY LEADER: I think this is just outrageous, particularly for Texans, to turn and run from a good fight.  This is about the Constitution and their responsibility to redistrict and apportion according to the Constitution.

CRAIG EILAND (D), TEXAS STATE REPRESENTATIVE: The Texas House of Representatives are going to be run by the Texas House of Representatives.  The Texas House of Representatives is not going to be run by Washington power brokers or Washington Republican Party leaders. It will be run by the House of Representatives, both the Democrats and Republicans.


KONDRACKE: Well, look, this is another escalation of political warfare in the, in the United States. It's, it's, it's in parallel to the Democrats' using the filibuster weapon against -- to block Bush's judicial appointments. Now we've -- we're establishing a precedent whereby every time a new party gains an advantage in a, in a state legislature, they can start redistricting again, you know.

It's supposed to be done once every 10 years. Now you can do it, you can do it every two years if you want. You know, this, this -- and furthermore, and if you don't like -- if somebody tries to stand in your way, you call in the Department of Homeland Security in order to try to arrest them? I mean, come on. This is, this is way about bounds.

BARNES: Well, Mort, the only thing worse than the fact that you got all of your facts wrong was, you missed the point entirely. Look, Texas didn't redistrict because Democrats blocked it in 2001. A court came in with a temporary redistricting for the 2002 election. Now Republicans who control the legislature in Texas by sizable margins are back to do the actual redistricting for the congressional seats.

So Democrats, you know what they're doing by leaving? They're protecting the gerrymander that they put in place in Texas in 1991. It's essentially in place. Fifty-seven percent of the voters in Texas, in the house races, voted for Republicans, and yet Democrats still have a majority of the house seats. It is malapportioned. It is undemocratic. And you shouldn't defend it...


BARNES: ... and blame things on Tom DeLay.

KONDRACKE: I, I believed...I never knew that Fred Barnes believed in quotas. I'm just -- I'm amazed.

BARNES: No, I believe in democratic representation and not rotten boroughs and maldistribution of house seats, that's what...

KONDRACKE: And one of the, and one of the...

BARNES: These are rotten boroughs, Mort.

KONDRACKE: ...wait a minute, wait a ...

BARNES: You shouldn't be protecting that.

KONDRACKE: One of the, one of those, one of those...


KONDRACKE: ... Republican's districts extends 300 miles, down to -- from Austin down to the, the Mexican border. That's not gerrymandering?

BARNES: ...1991 gerrymander....

KONDRACKE: All right.

UP: The gun lobby

KONDRACKE: I'll give you yours now.  The political clout manifests itself in two big ways this, wins this week.  A House majority leader Tom DeLay, there he is again, signals that he may let the 1994 assault weapons ban expire. And second, a new, new -- a New York jury found 45 gun manufacturers and distributors not guilty of marketing guns in minority neighborhoods.

Now, if it were up to Tom DeLay...


KONDRACKE: ... your pal, and the National Rifle Association...the United States of America would resemble Baghdad.

BARNES: can barely get that out.

KONDRACKE: ...celebrate, celebrate weddings and funerals with your AK-47, firing it in the air, you know, what fun!

BARNES: Is that your view of America?

KONDRACKE: Yes, well, that's Tom DeLay's view of America. Everybody has a gun.

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