Ups and Downs from the Week of Dec. 20

This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys", Dec. 25, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

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MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Let’s check out this week’s ups and downs.

UP: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. He got a very public vote of confidence from the President Bush this week and directly confronted critics who say that he’s insensitive to U.S. troops and their families. Watch this.


DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: When I meet with the wounded, with their families, or with the families of those who have been lost, their grief is something I feel to my core. I, and I know others, stay awake at night with concern for those at risk, with hope for their lives and for their success. And I want those who matter most, the men and women in uniform and their families, to know that.


FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: You know, Mort, I disagree with those who say Donald Rumsfeld should resign as Defense secretary. I think he’s been a very good Defense secretary, not perfect, but very good. And he ought to stay. And he has gotten now one of the most fervent endorsements by a president of a cabinet member that I’ve ever seen. You know, the president said not only is he a good Defense secretary, he’s a great guy with a big heart, and he’s gruff and so on, but it was really quite striking how, how lavish the president was in his praise.

And it turns out one of the things that got Rumsfeld in trouble was this question of whether the vehicles were being armored up, you know, the, and, and he got that question from that GI in Kuwait. It turns out that most of the vehicles, at least, applied to that unit, almost all of them had already been armored up. So the issue used against him was, was basically phony.

KONDRACKE: Yes, well, I have known Donald Rumsfeld (search) for a very, for a very long time, you for 30 years.


KONDRACKE: I for 40 years, ever since he was an Illinois congressman.

BARNES: You’re older than I thought.

KONDRACKE: And as charged, he is arrogant and a know-it-all.

He really is. And he is hard on subordinates, and he did miscalculate how difficult the aftermath of this war was going to be.

On the other hand, he’s very smart, and he is very religious, and he feels deeply about the troops. And I think the bottom line here is that he and Bush got us into this war in Iraq, and he and Bush are going to get us out.

So I’m, I’m in favor of, of keeping him on and letting, letting him play out the policy that they’ve invented.

BARNES: Yes. You know, he famously once responded to a reporter by saying, Well, first, let me unravel the flaws in your question.

All right.

UP: the stock market (search). The Dow Jones industrial average surges to a three-and-a-half-year high this week. What’s all the optimism about, and is this the shape of things to come in the new year?

KONDRACKE: Well, I think it is for a while. I mean, markets go up and markets go down. So you should not indulge in any irrational exuberance right now, you know. But the fundamentals are basically good.


KONDRACKE: The one worry is about the, the crashing dollar, and the worry that foreign countries would dump dollars, and that, that we’d have, we could have a global depression if that happened.

On the other hand, if that, if that doesn’t happen, all of American products are cheaper. Countries could buy here. They could even buy plants here if they want to, or, which amounts to investment in the United States. And that’s good.

BARNES: Mort, I thought for sure you would utter the proper phrase to describe what’s going on.

KONDRACKE: Quagmire?

BARNES: No, Bush rally.


BARNES: Come on, you wouldn’t have this.

KONDRACKE: It’s called a Christmas rally.

BARNES: It’s that too, and oil prices going down. I mean, that’s helped. But it’s the Bush rally. We wouldn’t have had this rally if John Kerry had been elected president.

KONDRACKE: Oh, I agree with that.

BARNES: All right.

KONDRACKE: UP: Washington gubernatorial candidate Democrat Christine Gregoire (search). After eight weeks, three recounts, countless legal challenges, and bitter recriminations, Gregoire leads Republican Dino Rossi for the first time in the Washington governor’s race. But the battle is far from over.

BARNES: You know, there’s an old Chicago tradition, as you would know based in Chicago, of keeping counting votes until your candidate wins. And they’ve had all these recounts there, and they’ve kept, in King County, which is Seattle, you know, they keep finding these ballots that have been discarded or ones that had been ruled, you know, improperly filled out, and not to be counted, and now they’re counting all of them. They’re doing extraordinary things. A judge saying, you know, you can go out, get a provisional ballot, go out and find the person and see what they really meant to do. And Democrats did that. OK.

I’m not saying this is a stolen election. But here’s what they at least need to do, is use the same rule in judging these ballots in all the other counties, including Republican counties, and then we’ll have a final, a real result. But, but you can’t just count all these questionable ballots in one place, in a Democratic area, and then not count them in Republican areas.

KONDRACKE: Well, as you pointed out, if Rossi, the Republican, should lose this final thing, the chances are that he’s going to end up running against Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell in the 2006 election, and with all this publicity Rossi presumably will, will be the front-runner.

BARNES: Yes, he’s an attractive candidate. OK.

UP: D.C. baseball. After much horse trading and arm twisting, the mayor, the D.C. city council, and major league baseball finally strike a deal on bringing baseball back to Washington.

KONDRACKE: I was convinced that Washington would somehow contrive to lose this baseball team the way they did, they let the Redskins move off to Maryland into a terrible stadium, I might add the ugliest stadium in the, in the National Football League, or the world, maybe.

BARNES: Yes, true.

KONDRACKE: But, no, that didn’t happen.


KONDRACKE: And the winner here, and, you know, he ought to be cheered by everybody in town, although he’s not being, is Mayor Anthony Williams.


KONDRACKE: He saved the day.

BARNES: He did save the day. He’s a good mayor. And, he only won the city council vote by seven to six.


BARNES: You know, this wasn’t exactly a landslide for D.C. baseball. The good thing is, they still have RFK Stadium, which they can rejigger for baseball, and it’ll start in April, and I’m all for it, and we’ll both be there.

KONDRACKE: And after January, Marion Barry will be back.

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