This partial transcript of The Beltway Boys, November 24, 2001 was provided by the Federal Document Clearing House. Click here to order the complete transcript.

FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: Let's go to the ups and downs.

Up, Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld.

Rumsfeld has gone from a, quote unquote, "Cold War retread" to the administration's most forceful and colorful advocate of the war on terror.  And here's a wonderful send-up from "Saturday Night Live" of him in the Pentagon briefing room.



UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS:  Oh, yes.  With our military campaign stalled and the opposition forces seemingly bogged down in a quagmire, isn't there a danger the U.S. will look like a weakling and lose the support of the Afghan people?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR:  Isn't that the same -- isn't that the same question you asked last week?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS:  Oh, I'm sorry.  OK, with our military campaign moving so rapidly and opposition forces easily overrunning Taliban areas, isn't there a danger the U.S. will look like a bully and thus lose the support of the Afghan people?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR:  That sounds like an interesting question, and certainly well intentioned.  But I'm going to be honest with you: I drifted off in the middle of it.


BARNES:  That was very good.  You know, the amazing thing is, this was affectionate toward Donald Rumsfeld.  I mean, he has become the rock star of the war on terrorism, and it's because he's been so good at these briefings.  He's been tough, but he's been a little bit candid, and extremely appealing.  It's amazing.  I -- who would have thought that the secretary of defense would emerge as this incredibly popular figure?  Not I.  Maybe you.

MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST:  Well, vis-a-vis the press, the -- you know, anybody, even John Ashcroft might come off as popular.

BARNES:  Right.

KONDRACKE:  When Rumsfeld indeed did win the argument within the...

BARNES:  Right.

KONDRACKE:  ... administration to finally concentrate on helping the Northern Alliance as a means to securing victory in Afghanistan, we'll see whether he's in charge of the whole policy when the bombs start dropping on Baghdad.

BARNES:  Mort, you left out one thing.  Who did he win over in that fight for President Bush's mind?

KONDRACKE:  President Bush.

BARNES:  No, no.  He -- that's who he got on his side.  But who did he have to defeat in order to get President Bush on his side?

KONDRACKE:  Colin Powell.

BARNES:  OK, good, just wanted you to say those worlds.  All right.

Down, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle.

Move over, Jesse Helms, Daschle's becoming the new Senator No on Capitol Hill, holding up the economic stimulus bill despite not having the votes to pass the version he wants.

Now, you know, I am disappointed in Senator Daschle.  One, I think he's a patriot.  He's been very supportive on the war.  Yet he is the guy, I think, singularly blocking an economic stimulus package that could pass.  He's gone with this incredibly partisan nonstimulating thing that came out of the Senate Finance Committee.

And yet he could get most of what he wants, just to get together with President Bush, and he can get a rebate for low-income people, you know, who didn't get a tax rebate before, he can get extended unemployment benefits, he can get some sort of a health care subsidy for those who are jobless.

But he has to give up some sort of investment stimulus so businesses will invest.  You know, get rid of the alternative minimum tax without giving it -- making it retroactive, reduce the corporate tax rate, do something like that.  The best thing, of course, is to speed up those cuts in the individual income rates, because most people, most businessmen, you know, just pay the income tax rate because -- under subchapter S.

But you got to stimulate investment, because the drop-off in investment is what's caused this recession.

KONDRACKE:  Well, instead of using you to make the deal with Tom Daschle...


KONDRACKE:  ... what the president should do is pick up the phone, call Daschle, not in a big meeting, but call Daschle down for a...

BARNES:  I agree.

KONDRACKE:  ... one-on-one chat about this, work out a deal...

BARNES:  I agree.

KONDRACKE:  ... and then the president has got to call up his ultras in the Senate, Phil Gramm...

BARNES:  No, no.

KONDRACKE:  It's -- wait a minute.  Daschle can't get 60 votes because the Republicans won't accept the kind of proposal that he's doing.  Bush has got to work out the deal and then tell his ultra-conservative Republicans: swallow it.

BARNES:  Now, look...

KONDRACKE:  That -- then there'll be a deal.

BARNES:  ... if there is some real economic stimulus in there, he will not have to tell them that...

KONDRACKE:  That's...

BARNES:  ... they will fall in line.


KONDRACKE:  ... the whole problem is that...

BARNES:  He may have to tell some House Republicans, but they'll fall in line ultimately.


BARNES:  It's up to Daschle to give him some of that.  The ball's in Daschle's court.  Don't forget it.

KONDRACKE:  The ball's in Bush's court.

Up, the women of Afghanistan.

Free of burkas, Afghan women took to the streets of Kabul this week demanding education and the right to work.  And the exiled king of Afghanistan has named two women to the eight-person negotiating team to take part in national unity talks next week in Germany.

Well, the -- I mean, the good news is that the -- that there is an iron triangle in Washington that's going to probably do more for the Afghan women than most of their men-folks back home will do.  And that is Karen Hughes, the president's communications director, Condy Rice, the national security adviser and Laura Bush, the first lady, who -- all of whom together have made the condition of women in Afghanistan an item of...

BARNES:  Yes, good.

KONDRACKE:  ... American foreign policy.  And we can, using economic aid leverage, help them out a great deal in terms of what the final settlement is and what -- of the country, and what kind of rights are extended to women.

BARNES:  Look, I'm all for what Karen Hughes and Laura Bush and Condi Rice are doing.  But Mort, you have to remember one thing, why -- what is the main thing that has allowed these Afghan women to take off their burkas?  It's the commitment of President Bush to destroy the Taliban and the American military actually carrying that out.  That's what's freed them.

They -- I mean, foreign aid from Laura Bush will be nice, but give her husband the main credit, OK?


BARNES:  All right.

 Down, Britney Spears.

Yes, Britney Spears.  Spears, who The New York Post affectionately calls the "pop tart," goes over the top in her recent HBO special and tour called "Slave for You."

Now Mort, last week you were complaining about Victoria's Secret being on ABC.  Now Britney Spears.  What is it next week?  You going to complain about Martha Stewart or Bea Arthur?

KONDRACKE:  I just want to stipulate that there is a happy medium between burkas and, you know, raunchy -- what you see on television.

BARNES:  Sorry, I was watching the monitor.

KONDRACKE:  Right.  I mean, Al-Jazeera missed another opportunity to expose American decadence again when Britney Spears had this HBO special in which she gets dunked and is, you know, is sort of all -- almost all visible.

BARNES:  All right.

KONDRACKE:  Anyway, I mean, in step -- the Victoria's Secret show...


KONDRACKE:  ... your lesson in prudery for the week, the -- was marketing sex to adults, at least, and adolescent males.  I mean, Britney Spears is marketing it to 8-year-old girls, for heaven's sake.

BARNES:  Mort, what do you like?  What about that -- can you think of anything in womanhood?

KONDRACKE:  Yes, I can.  Yes, but we're running out of time.

BARNES:  All right.

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