Ups and Downs for the Week of November 28

This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys", December 3, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: Let’s check out this week’s ups and downs. Start with a down…

DOWN: Hillary Clinton. Reacting to the howls of disapproval from the left, Hillary is forced to adjust her stance on the Iraq war. Here’s a sampling from a 1,600-word letter to supporters this week:

"Based on the information that we have today, Congress never would have been asked to give the president authority to use force against Iraq. And if Congress had been asked, based on what we know now, we never would have agreed, given the lack of a long-term plan, paltry international support, and the proven absence of weapons of mass destruction."


MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Well, that statement is true on its face. I mean, if we’d known that there were no weapons of mass destruction, the Congress never would have voted approval for the war. I wouldn’t have been in favor of the war, knowing what we know now. But...

BARNES: I would have.

KONDRACKE: OK. All right. Maybe you would have. Fine.

BARNES: Of course I would have.

KONDRACKE: OK. But now we’ve done the war, we’ve got to win the war, and we need a plan to win the war. And that’s what Bush laid out. And so I’m for the policy.

Hillary was for the war and all this. Now she is trying to distance herself from, from what she’d said before. Now, this illustrates the basic Hillary dilemma. She was, she knows that in order for a woman to get elected president of the United States, they have to be tough on defense and national security, you know, have the image of standing up to enemies in the model of Golda Meir of Israel and Margaret Thatcher of Great Britain.

On the other hand, in order to get nominated for president, you have to appease the left-wing bug-out brigade of the Democratic Party. And she’s trying to juggle these things, and she’s not doing it very well.

BARNES: No, she’s not. And I think this, I mean, look, she just sees her party running away from her, moving to the left on Iraq, and she’s running after them now.

Anyway, it was a pathetic statement, where she said practically, she said she was duped by President Bush into supporting the war. And then, if you accept what she says about, you know, if we know now, if we knew then what we know now, and so on, she’s saying this war’s illegitimate, although she doesn’t say it in exactly those words.

Now, if you want to look at somebody who is the very definition of a standup person on the war, it is Joe Lieberman, the senator Democrat from Connecticut, and who wrote a piece in The Wall Street Journal and spoke briefly before cameras this week, ignored by the press entirely. He’s a very important guy.

Now, who knows more about Iraq, Mort, do you think: Hillary Clinton, or Joe Lieberman, who’s been there four times in the last 17 months?

KONDRACKE: Joe’s my hero, always has been.

BARNES: I know.

KONDRACKE: Should have been the Democratic nominee for president.

Last time UP: the economy. Americans got an early Christmas present this year, an economy growing at its fastest clip in, in nearly a year and a half. GDP scored 4.3 percent, consumer confidence is up, as is personal income, spending, and job creation. And the timing couldn’t be better for President Bush. Here he is on Friday.


BUSH: The foundation for growth is strong. It’s based upon low taxes and restrained government spending, legal reform, incentives for saving and investment.


BARNES: You know, he left out a couple things. I mean, gas prices have fallen, I think new home sales, maybe it was old home sales, anyway, one of them set a record last month. And, and this 4 percent growth has been going on month after month after month after month. It’s really an extraordinary economy.

And yet, when you look at the polls you’re so fond of, they show that the American people think they’re fine, but that the rest of the people in the country are doing poorly economically. Why is that? You know why that is, Mort? Because, obviously people know how they’re doing, but they have to rely on the media to tell them how the rest of the economy is outside their neighborhood. And the media has been entirely negative.

KONDRACKE: You know, you were in the Army, I was in the Army. There was a saying in Army training that if the student has failed to learn, then the teacher has failed to teach. And, you know, the Republicans had, the Republicans had a retreat, the Republican leadership in the Congress, had a retreat with, where Andy Card and Dan Bartlett from the White House were there.

And they raked those guys over the coals for their failure to communicate what the administration was doing, both on Iraq and on the economy, because the Republicans in Congress suffer too. So you had President Bush there on Friday, no accident, touting these, these economic statistics, which are actually very good.

BARNES: I know, but you’re excusing the media for its horrible performance on this.

KONDRACKE: OK, but the point is that if the news is good, the public ought to know about it, because the president points it up. And he’s begun to do it.


KONDRACKE: DOWN: now former congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham. The former top gun pilot pleads guilty this week to bribery and tax evasion, and now Congress is looking into whether he abused his position on the House Intelligence Committee.

This guy has set an all-time record for congressional corruption, individual record. I mean, $2.4 million yachts, houses, jewelry, cash, you know, I mean, this guy, the problem is that, except for President Bush and David Dreier, the congressman from California, no Republican leaders have stood up to denounce him.

BARNES: Yes, here’s what is amazing to me is, I mean, it’s just breathtaking when you read about the stuff he was doing. You didn’t mention the commode that, you know, there was a very expensive old French commode from the 19th century. But Washington is a fishbowl. You see people getting brought down all the time. What in the world was he thinking that he could get away with this? It’s just amazing.

But you have to give credit, I think, to Marcus Stern of the Copley News Service, who had the first story, which led to the unraveling of this case. And, the first story was a defense contractor who’d bought Cunningham’s house for much more than it was worth, and then sold it for much less than that. And, I mean, it was an out-and-out bribe. Great story by Marcus Stern.

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