Ups and Downs for the Week of Nov. 26 - 30

This partial transcript of The Beltway Boys, December 1, 2001 was provided by the Federal Document Clearing House. Click here to order the complete transcript.

FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: Up and down, you ready?


Up, Army General Tommy Franks

BARNES:  Up, Army General Tommy Franks, the Afghanistan central  commander.  Franks' military strategy, once dismissed by critics as too  conservative, is proving to be the right strategy, heavy air strikes before  the use of ground troops is the way to oust the Taliban and al Qaeda.

Now, look, General Franks doesn't have the panache of Norman  Schwarzkopf or the political savvy of a Colin Powell, but as a military  strategist and an implementer of that strategy, boy, he is every bit their  peer.  I mean, I think he's quite a guy.  He hasn't used overwhelming force  that Powell used to talk about, but he's used a clever, precise, and overwhelming, I guess, use of air power, and it was worked brilliantly. I think, I...

KONDRACKE:  Whoa, whoa, whoa — just a second.  Let me see if I've got  this straight now.  Fred Barnes is parting from the official Weekly Standard line that it was only when conservatives pounced on Franks, accused him of being George  McClellan and said that he had to be more aggressive that the administration completely wheeled around,  changed tactics, and now we're winning the war.


KONDRACKE:  I mean, are you...

BARNES:  No, no, no, no, no.  No, no, that's not what we said, that's not what The Weekly Standard said.  And that's not...

KONDRACKE:  But close.

BARNES:  ... what General Franks did.  General Franks is a smart  commander, and when he realized that more air power was needed, well,  that's what he ordered, and that happens to be what The Weekly Standard  was advocating.

KONDRACKE:  And he read it in The Weekly Standard and changed  tactics.

BARNES:  No, but, you know, we agreed.

Down, Nita Lowey, Democratic congressional campaign committee chairwoman

KONDRACKE:  OK.  Down, Democratic congressional campaign committee  chairwoman Nita Lowey.  She took partisan sniping to new lows this week, calling the Republican tax cuts "unpatriotic" and, she  declared, the bottom line is, this is George Bush's recession.  She wasn't  the only one.  I mean, this was a massive, coordinated Democratic attack.


KONDRACKE:  Same day she talked, Tom Daschle and Dick Gephardt both  had something to say.  Watch.

REP. DICK GEPHARDT (D-MO), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER:  The president is  managing the war well.  He is mismanaging the economy with the help of his  colleagues in the Senate and the House.

SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER:  I hope that no one  will be misled or in any way fooled by this notion that somehow it's the  downturn of the economy, or it's the war on terrorism.  What it is, is this  tax cut.

KONDRACKE:  I mean, the Democrats do have one large argument right,  and that is that the tax cut is too big for the surplus that we've got left  after this recession and after the war. But this is not a Bush recession...

BARNES:  Right.

KONDRACKE:  ... and they know it, and when they — and they — they're  producing political hogwash, and I predict that it won't — won't convince  anybody, at least in the short run.

BARNES:  Yes, let me talk about two things there, because you were  wrong about the tax cut, but I'm going to let that go.  Unpatriotic, that's  what Nita Lowey called Republicans for the tax cut they were for in their  stimulus package.  Unpatriotic?  If a conservative calls a liberal that,  there is — a firestorm goes on, particularly in the press, and the  conservatives are accused of starting a new wave of McCarthyism. Unpatriotic; I think it was unpatriotic of her to say that.

Secondly, we know from the National Bureau of Economic Research, which  is the official body for declaring when a recession begins, that this  recession began, there'd been a downturn, the recession against Sept. 11, and what the Democrats are saying is now that it's George W. Bush at  fault in causing the recession.  They're blaming him for what Usama bin  Laden did.  It's as simple as that, Mort.

KONDRACKE:  Well, the — and in addition to that, I mean, the — Sept. 11 is not when the recession began...

BARNES:  No...

KONDRACKE:  ... but they — but the economy had been declining...

BARNES:  I said that.

KONDRACKE:  ... before that.  Yes, OK.  All right, all right.

BARNES:  I said that.  You're an echo.

Down, Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore

BARNES:  Down, Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore.  Gilmore, who's been under fire  for months, finally steps down as Republican National Committee chairman  nearly one month after the GOP lost two big governors' races.

Now, look, he was under fire, but he was not fired, though he had a  very rocky relationship with the White House for sure.  One thing I think  is true about Gilmore, I live in Virginia, I think he's been probably,  despite a ragged last year in office, the best governor in my lifetime.  One, he reduced taxes significantly, and the car tax in particular, and he  made Virginia a Republican state.

KONDRACKE:  And the next governor of Virginia is a Democrat...

BARNES:  ... as a Republican, but a Democrat who won't even be able to  tie his shoes without getting the approval of the Republican legislature.

KONDRACKE:  And it looks like the next Republican national chairman  will be...

BARNES:  Republican Mark Racicot of Montana, who's a former governor,  great buddy of Bush.

KONDRACKE:  You've heard it directly from the White House, as I  understand it.


Up, Santa Claus

KONDRACKE:  OK, up, Santa Claus.  St. Nick was advised not to show up  for the annual tree-lighting ceremony in the suburban Washington town of  Kensington, Md., this Sunday.  The reason?  Two families who don't  celebrate Christmas said that Santa's appearance would make them feel  excluded from the festivities.  Now, after much protest, it looks like  Santa will be there after all.

Here's what appeared on the town of Kensington's official Web site on  Friday: "We now suspect that Santa Claus, or Santa Clauses, will  show up one way or another.  Santa's always welcome, even if he doesn't  have a formal invitation in the town of Kensington."

I suspect that there will be hordes of Santa Clauses showing up, and,  you know, the secularists used to complain about...


KONDRACKE:  ... in public places.  Now Santa Claus too.


KONDRACKE:  I mean, I think that these families who don't celebrate  Christmas should just exclude themselves from the whole festivities.

BARNES:  Hey, two questions.  Didn't you once dress up as a Santa  Claus?

KONDRACKE:  Many times.

BARNES:  I thought you had.

KONDRACKE:  Yes, that's right.

BARNES:  Well, maybe you'll be in Kensington.  And secondly, didn't  you spend much of your adult life in Montgomery County...


BARNES:  ... Maryland, where Kensington is?

KONDRACKE:  Right, I did.

BARNES:  You know what...

KONDRACKE:  You're a — this is guilt by association...

BARNES:  Well, of course it is, of course it is.  Well, they also passed a — the county council also passed a bill banning smoking in your  own home if a neighbor complains that the smoke has wafted over.  Can you  believe that?

KONDRACKE:  I quit smoking a long time ago.

BARNES:  So did I.  Fortunately, the county executive vetoed that  bill.  But just the impulse behind it, I mean, that's like Taliban country.

KONDRACKE:  Well, not quite.

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