Ups and Downs from the Week of Dec. 6

This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys", Dec. 11, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

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

DOWN: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld (search). He was hung out to dry at a town hall meeting with troops in Kuwait this week, exactly the type of event that’s usually tightly orchestrated. Watch.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our vehicles are not armored. We’re digging pieces of rusted scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass that’s already been shot up, dropped, busted, picking the best out of this scrap, to put on our vehicles to take into combat.

We do not have proper armament vehicles to carry with us north.

DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: As you know, you go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time.


MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: You know, well, the, the question is, what kind of army do you want to have in the long run? Only 25 percent or so of the defense procurement budget goes to the Army, whereas 95 percent of the fighting and dying that’s going on in, in Iraq, or even more, is being done by Army troops and also Marines.

BARNES: Right.

KONDRACKE: And so far as you can see into the future, I mean, the battles that we’re going to be fighting are going to be ground battles, unless, of course, Usama bin Laden (search) gets himself an air force and a navy, which I don’t think he’s doing quite soon.

BARNES: I don’t think so either. Did you notice, President Bush did not exactly rush to Rumsfeld’s defense? Check this out.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Concerns expressed are being addressed, and that is, we expect our troops to have the best possible equipment. And if I were a soldier overseas, wanting to defend my country, I’d want to ask the secretary of defense the same question, and that is, Are we getting the best we can get us? And, they deserve the best.


BARNES: He endorsed the question and not the Rumsfeld answer.

Look, there is a huge procurement problem here. We’ve been hurrying a, hearing about this armor thing for a year now. It obviously armed, putting the armor on these Humvees and other trucks has not been a top priority. But you know what? I think it will be now.


UP: California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Allegations of unwanted groping were a distant memory this week when the Guvenator, the governor received a standing ovation at the California Women’s and Family Children’s Family Conference.

BARNES: You know, at that, at that event Jamie Lee Curtis, the actress, described Arnold as the ultimate girlie-man. Well, I don’t know, I’m not so sure about that, but anyway, he is a very effective governor. And I think really boldly is going to go after, through the referendum process, the gerrymandering of the California legislature that has created this legislature that’s unresponsive not only to Arnold sometimes, but to the people, and favors Democrats. And set up a commission that will redistrict the state more fairly.

He’s also going to produce a budget that I know you’re not going to like, Mort, that’s really going to have some of these liberal special interests groups that you’re so attached to screaming about spending cuts. But, you know, the thing that was the nicest was under Governor Gray Davis, the tree that’s put up around this time outside the capitol was the holiday tree. It’s been renamed by Arnold as the Christmas tree.

KONDRACKE: Yes. And I’m for that. Arnold is my kind of Republican, actually. You know, he is a social moderate as you, as you well know and he does not believe, Fred, in austerity for austerity’s sake.


KONDRACKE: The idea of whacking the budget down to size is to get the state back on, on even keel. He believes in investments in education, in child health, in science and stuff like that. And when the economy is back together again, you know, there’ll be, there’ll be investments, because it pays off in the long run.


KONDRACKE: That’s what you don’t understand.

BARNES: Mort, I’m not against child health, nor science. All right.

UP: New Republic editor Peter Beinart (search). Finally someone influential in Democratic circles calls it like it is. The Democratic Party better start getting tough on national security issues. Here’s what Beinart said in his magazine, The New Republic.

"If the struggles for gay marriage and universal health care lay rightful claim to liberal idealism, so does the struggle to protect the United States by spreading freedom in the Muslim world. It too can provide the moral purpose for which a new generation of liberals yearn."

What Beinart basically called for is a revival of what used to be known as cold war liberalism, in other words, tough on defense, but liberal on domestic issues and social issues. That was Harry Truman, JFK, Lyndon Johnson, and so on. And what he would have is a kind of war on terrorism liberalism that is very tough on terrorists but, you know, traditionally liberal.

It, it is a way to win elections, I think, if they adopt that. The problem, as he points out, is the base of the Democratic Party, which doesn’t seem to care much about fighting a war on terrorism.

KONDRACKE: Yes. Well, you know, the question is, can the Democratic Party (search) find a candidate the next time who is going to be a Henry Jackson, Scoop Jackson kind of, kind of liberal. I mean, Joe Lieberman occupied that position in this past election. You know, is it going to be Evan Bayh, is it going to be Hillary Clinton? I mean, Hillary Clinton could, could make the transition if she tried.

Now, now, Beinart wrote a really good piece, there’s no question about that.


KONDRACKE: Except that all during the 2004 campaign, the, The New Republic itself was so steeped in Bush-bashing and Iraq-bashing that it, that it couldn’t really criticize the Democratic ticket the way it, ought to have.

Now, the question now before the Democratic Party is, who is it, it’s, going to be its next Democratic national chairman? And one of the worst possible candidates I can think of is, one, Howard Dean. Here, watch him.


HOWARD DEAN (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Here in Washington, it seems that every time we lose an election, there’s a consensus reached among decision-makers in the Democratic Party that the way to win is to be more like Republicans.

We cannot win by being Republican-lite. We’ve tried it. It does not work.


KONDRACKE: Karl Rove’s dream is to have Howard Dean as the Democratic nominee, to get him Democratic national chairman, it would be music.

BARNES: Yes, the next best thing.

KONDRACKE: Right, sunshine.

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