Ups and Downs from the Week of Dec. 13

This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys", Dec. 18, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

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FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: Welcome back to "The Beltway Boys."

Let’s see who’s up and down this week.

DOWN: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld (search), for the second straight week, actually. Last week, it was not so friendly fire from his own troops. This week, shots from key Republicans, including Senator John McCain, who said he has, "no confidence," in Rumsfeld.

JUAN WILLIAMS, GUEST CO-HOST: Fred, you know, it’s not just the McCains of the world and the Susan Collins and the Chuck Hagels who are sort of, you know, the moderate voices of times willing to take on the White House.

BARNES: Yes, you forgot Trent Lott.

WILLIAMS: But I’m going to say, it’s also Trent Lott.

BARNES: And Norm Coleman (search) now of Minnesota.

WILLIAMS: And Norman Schwarzkopf.

BARNES: Yes, yes.

WILLIAMS: So what you see, is that really the heart of the Republican Party, people who were pro-war, solidly behind the president in Iraq, are saying, this is the wrong person to be leading our Defense Department as we go forward in the war.

In fact, Trent Lott, speaking to the chamber of commerce in Biloxi, said basically that this is a man who has put too few troops on the ground and has them poorly equipped, underestimated the size and the power of the insurgent resistance on the part, and therefore says, well, how can it be that we would trust this man to lead our troops into battle?

I think it’s a legitimate question. And guess what? Given the politics that Rumsfeld’s been playing over the intelligence reform, I think he has alienated some folks in the White House.

BARNES: Yes, no, I think he’s alienated some folks in the White House (search). The Hill never liked him much, the military brass has never cared for him. I think he’s actually done a pretty good job as defense secretary. And now we see a lot of piling-on, all the names you mentioned. And, of course, those are all Republicans. That doesn’t even mention all the Democrats who’d love to see him, you know, go down the slippery slope.

But on the, on the whole, I think he’s done a very good job.

Now, I might have put more troops there. But I’ll tell you what I certainly would have done that the Pentagon does bear the responsibility for, and that is not getting enough armor on these Humvees and on these trucks. I mean, this isn’t a problem that just cropped up when that Spec 4 asked him a question. It’s been around for a year or more.

WILLIAMS: Around forever.

BARNES: And the, it should have been dealt with.

WILLIAMS: All right.

UP: U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan (search). He went a long way towards patching things up with the White House after pledging to expand the size of the U.N. contingent in Iraq to help with the elections to be held at the end of January, Fred.

BARNES: Well, I’m not sure about a long way. But this will help a little.

You know, there is one thing, I mean, contrary to what many conservatives believe, there is one thing that the U.N. can do right. Most conservatives think you can’t do anything right. One thing that the U.N. can help on is setting up and helping carry out an actual Democratic election. And the reason, and actually, Kofi Annan ought to be held responsibile for not sending more people there before as originally promised.

I mean, he’s been an impediment to progress in Iraq. In fact, wait a minute, now, wait a minute, he really has been. I see you nodding negatively.

Look, he promised that after that bombing of the U.N. headquarters.


BARNES: You remember, in August of 2003, that he would keep the U.N. there. He told that to Paul Bremer. A couple days later, took the U.N. out. And then and now is finally only getting people back in there to help on the election.

But, look, it’ll be, whatever the verdict is on the Oil-for-Food program, which will decide whether he stays at the U.N. or not.

WILLIAMS: Fred, I think all the nongovernmental organizations have felt that the security problem there is of such a large magnitude that they can’t have their people in place. And that’s not just the U.N., that’s Red Cross and others who’ve been pulling their way out.

Now you see Kofi Annan saying he’s going back in. Kofi Annan’s problem, Fred, is really this Oil-for-Food scandal.


WILLIAMS: And that’s the problem he’s going to have. He’s got to wait until this Paul Volcker report, being done by the United Nations, comes out, I believe, in January. We’ll see how it plays then.

But for right now, all the calls for resignation coming from Senator Norm Coleman of Minnesota, here in Washington, and some in the Congress.


WILLIAMS: As well — and you too, all right, you’re on the bandwagon. But also, I think a lot of that was coming out of the White House, and I think it was a signal to say to Kofi Annan, back up, dude.


WILLIAMS: Because you know what? He had been such a strong critic of the U.S., making the decision to take peremptory action in Iraq. But, apparently we’re in a new phase of a relationship.

BARNES: OK. I’m going to move to a subject dear to our hearts, anyway.

DOWN: Baseball in D.C. Major league baseball rejects 11th-hour changes by the D.C. city council in a stadium financing plan, putting the Montreal Expos’ move to Washington on hold indefinitely.

Here’s a shell-shocked Washington mayor Anthony Williams Wednesday.


MAYOR ANTHONY WILLIAMS, WASHINGTON, D.C.: And yes, I think baseball is now in jeopardy. We had a deal. I believe the deal was broken. And the dream of 33 years is now once again close to dying.


WILLIAMS: Fred, you know what? I understand Linda Cropp, the city council chairman and opposition to the idea of giving millions to billionaire baseball team owners. But I got to tell you something. I’m a, not only am I a baseball fan, but I think this idea makes sense. It makes economic sense, because it’s a home run as an economic engine to generate economic activity. You see what’s happened in downtown Washington as a result of the MCI Center built by Abe Pollin, the owner of the basketball team here, the Wizards.


WILLIAMS: Boy, all of a sudden, businesses opening up, retail, restaurants, people building condominiums.


WILLIAMS: That could happen on the waterfront in Washington with the nationals.

BARNES: You know, there’s a way to legitimize spending a lot of public money onto build a stadium for some rich owner of a, of a team, and that’s to have a referendum and get the people to approve it. They didn’t do that here, and that’s part of the problem.

WILLIAMS: All right.

DOWN: actor Chevy Chase. He stunned even a liberal crowd with his foul-mouthed tirade against President Bush at a People for the American Way event here Wednesday at the Kennedy Center. Among the profanities, Chase called the president a dumb [expletive] and said, now, I’m not going to read this, I’ll let you read it for yourself. But suffice to say that he said the president’s a liar and that he’s a and he used profanity in calling him that.

BARNES: Well, he really said the president’s a dope. And here’s, I mean, this is a perfect example of, of the why attacks by these Hollywood stars are so obnoxious and why they backfired, I think, during the campaign, backfired and helped Bush and hurt John Kerry.

One, this is a guy who makes pratfalls for a living.



BARNES: If he’s saying, he’s saying basically that he’s smarter, that he’s better educated, and he’s better equipped to run the country than President Bush. Please!

WILLIAMS: Well, he may be, I don’t know if he’s better educated or not, but he obviously didn’t win the election. That’s the point.


WILLIAMS: But, you know, even Norman Lear, Ralph Nice, people involved with People for the American Way, strong Democrats, they’re trying to distance themselves, get away from Chevy Chase now. But you know what, Fred? Just on a civil matter it’s rude.


WILLIAMS: It’s very rude.

BARNES: And unnecessary.


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