Ups and Downs for the Week of October 24

This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys", October 29, 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.

UP: Republican Senator Sam Brownback (search) of Kansas, I think for the first time, actually. The possible presidential contender led the charge against Harriet Miers (search) on Capitol Hill and is now warning the double standard for conservative jurists is over, or should be over. Watch.


U.S. SENATOR SAM BROWNBACK (R), KANSAS: Ruth Bader Ginsburg (search) was general counsel for the ACLU, and she gets through on a big bipartisan vote. I think it’s pretty clear where she stands on most legal issues, and it would be a liberal interpretation of the Constitution. Why can she be nominated, and somebody that’s known as a conservative jurist not? And I think it’s time we had that discussion without a filibuster and have that brought in front of the American public.


BARNES: Agree?

MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Well, I don’t think there’s going to be a filibuster.

BARNES: But, I’m talking about the double standard.

KONDRACKE: Well, it’s a question of what is the definition of a judicial conservative? And we’ll continue this argument.

Anyway that’s not why we gave him an up arrow. The up arrow is because Brownback stepped forward as the leader of the opposition, the genteel Republican opposition to Harriet Miers’ confirmation. Now, he never criticized her. He just said he wanted reassurance that she was a judicial conservative. And then he did join that, though, that group of Republicans, Lindsey Graham and himself and I guess there were a couple others, who said, “We can, we’ve got to have these documents.” I mean, he had to know what, what that meant.

And his strategy worked, famously, and I think, I think it has enhanced his presidential aspirations. Now, you may not agree when I tell you that he’s for spending cuts.


KONDRACKE: I’m sure he is.

Now, I think Sam Brownback did himself a lot of good. And the manner in which he acted did him, did him good as well.

The other UP of the week is Charles Krauthammer (search), the columnist, who knocked it exactly by coming up with the exit strategy that the Republicans needed by, you know, this phony fight over documents, which proved not to be.

But just to go back on the other point, what initially the opposition to Harriet Miers was intellectual, that she, you know, that she didn’t have the mental rigor to and she wasn’t a constitutional expert.


KONDRACKE: But ultimately what knocked her out is, is this speech that she made in 1993 indicating that women should have self- determination on the issue of abortion, which kicked a bunch of senators over the line. Now, that means that those people want results. That, it’s not a question of temperament: It’s results that they want.

BARNES: No, it’s consistency they want. If she was a pro-lifer in 1989, they were expecting her to be one in 1993. If she was a judicial conservative in the 1970s, why was she giving speeches that showed she wasn’t in the 1990s? A consistent narrative, anyway.


DOWN: Vice President Dick Cheney (search). His closest aide is gone, and new details of his role in the CIA leak case show that Cheney was the leader in fighting to limit the influence of the CIA, especially over Iraq.

Well, it was the influence of the CIA after the fact, in the arguments back and forth.

You know, I used to think that if Dick Cheney wanted to be president, that he could get the Republican nomination and might even be able to be elected, because a figure of stability and rectitude and all that.

Those days are long gone. I mean, Dick Cheney has become Darth Vader (search).

And for the, for the general public, I just think that he’s the foremost advocate for the war, I like Dick Cheney, but he is not warm and fuzzy and cozy and empathetic.

And now the latest thing is that he’s trying to allow for the CIA to be able to engage in torture. That it’s a bad, bad stance.

BARNES: Just not for restrictions. And I can’t wait to call him Monday and tell him that you’ve accused him of being Darth Vader.


BARNES: I mean, jeez, Mort, I thought, I thought you liked Dick Cheney.

KONDRACKE: I do, I do.

BARNES: Although it’s hard to tell from what you said.

Look, let’s be clear about one thing. Scooter Libby (search) is not to Dick Cheney what Karl Rove is to President Bush. I mean, obviously Libby worked for Cheney when he was at the Defense Department and Defense secretary back in Bush I, and he’s worked for him at the White House. But he’s not connected at the hip the way Bush and Rove are.

I think Cheney is to be praised, along with Scooter Libby, for taking on this fight against the CIA, which has become in this administration, an outpost of opposition, and leaking information to undermine the president and the whole rationale for Iraq.

But we’ve given him a down simply for the reason that his chief of staff has been indicted, and that doesn’t happen every day.

All right, DOWN: the big oil companies. Mort hates them. You know it’s bad when even Republicans on your case, are on your case about price gouging. Here’s House speaker Denny Hastert this week.


U.S. REPRESENTATIVE DENNIS HASTERT (R-IL), HOUSE SPEAKER: These are tough times that call for tough measures. We expect oil companies to do their part to help ease the pain that the American families are feeling from the high-energy prices.


KONDRACKE: You know, I honestly don’t know whether the oil companies have been gouging or not. And you know, and it’s basic economics, which, you will know that if the supply goes down and the demand goes up, that the price is going to go up.

BARNES: Of course.

KONDRACKE: So, but you’ve also got to admit that it is possible for a company when supplies are limited to overcharge for the product. I mean, that’s what Enron (search) did in the energy crisis in California.

BARNES: Yes, this isn’t Enron.

KONDRACKE: And, look, the Federal Trade Commission (search) and Congress ought to be investigating this. And for sure, Congress ought to repeal the tax breaks that they gave to oil companies. The oil companies don’t need tax breaks. The Katrina victims need tax breaks.

BARNES: Mort, whenever you say there’s something I got to admit, I know it’s something...

KONDRACKE: That you don’t admit.

BARNES: I don’t admit.

Look, do you know how they set the price?

KONDRACKE: Yes, by the operation of the market.

BARNES: No, no, no, no.

KONDRACKE: It is the perfect operation.

BARNES: They charge what their replacement costs are for the oil they ordered, for the gas they’ve ordered. That’s what it’s based on. That’s the way the economy works. Gouging works. I mean, what do you want, rationing again?

KONDRACKE: No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.

BARNES: You want the government to decide?

KONDRACKE: I don’t...

BARNES: That’s the alternative

KONDRACKE: I don’t want profiteering.

BARNES: Gouging sets the balance between supply and demand. It’s always, look, that’s the way it works. I’m glad it works that way.


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