This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys", Nov. 20, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.
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MORT KONDRACKE, HOST: Welcome back to “The Beltway Boys.”
FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: With your permission, Mort, we’ll do the ups and downs this week, starting with...
UP: former president Bill Clinton. The pomp and circumstance surrounding his library dedication puts new focus on Clinton’s still considerable clout within the Democratic Party, and his presidential legacy.
MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Anyway, you know, 30,000 people standing in the rain is not bad.
KONDRACKE: And, and everybody was quite cordial and quite friendly to one another, Republicans and Democrats and all that. Here, and watch the party boy himself speaking.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FORMER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: I don’t want to be too political here, but it bothers me when America gets as divided as it was. I once said to a friend of mine about three days before the election, and I heard all these terrible things. I said, You know, am I the only person in the entire United States of America who likes both George W. Bush and John Kerry, who believes they’re both good people, who believe they both love our country, and they just see the world differently?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KONDRACKE: Well, he is the only person in America who thinks that. He was, well, he was very nice to President Bush.
In his exhibit, and on various TV shows, however, he excoriated the congressional Republicans and Ken Starr, who impeached him, and, you know, look, I think that Bill Clinton should never have been impeached. I think he should have been censured.
But the fact is that he did lie, and he lied and he lied and he lied and he lied. And I think the result of that is that it diminished his second term and his entire presidency. I mean, I think that the best he could have been, would have been an above-average president, because, as he says, he was a bridge to the 21st century. Bridges never get to be great presidents.
KONDRACKE: I mean, they’re something you walk across.
KONDRACKE: And, you know, no great, no great events that, although he could have done more against terrorism than he did. I mean, he could have been more than a bridge, but he didn’t. So I think that when you put that all together, I think he’s a below-average president.
BARNES: Yes. Whoo, boy, that was pretty tough, Mort. I thought you’d be more kindly toward him, particularly when he, you know, he still looks a little sickly after that operation, thin, and he looks a lot older, but I know, so do I. Here’s what I think’s so interesting about, about Clinton is the way Democrats regard him. I think they’re confused. In the first place, they seem to think his presidency, those eight years, was a golden time for Democrats. It wasn’t a golden time for them. This is when the Republicans started to build their majority which was finally consolidated just in the 2004 election on November 2.
KONDRACKE: With a realignment.
BARNES: R-word, it always drives you crazy, so I was sparing you that.
And secondly, Clinton showed Democrats how to win the White House, and yet they don’t want to emulate him. They’ve moved to, he moved right to the center, and the last two, Gore and Kerry have gone back to the left. Doesn’t work.
KONDRACKE: Somehow I don’t think you gave him credit for being in the center when he was president.
BARNES: Mostly in the center.
KONDRACKE: But anyway, DOWN: U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan. New estimates surfaced this week on just how much money was embezzled by Saddam Hussein in the oil for food program scandal. That number, more than $21 billion, $17 billion of which was pilfered between 1997 and 2003, all on Kofi Annan’s watch.
BARNES: You know, that makes it the biggest scandal, financially, anyway, in human history. And we have believed that Kofi Annan, who appointed the official who ran it, didn’t know what was going on. I mean, one of his sons was involved in the whole thing. I mean it’s crazy not to think though, so, now, Paul Volcker, the former Fed chairman, is investigating in the U.N.-sponsored investigation, and he got enough subpoena power, and we’ll see what he gets.
This thing may wind up in Congress and the Christian in particular, and they may have to do the real investigation. And the press is going to have to start paying attention to this.
KONDRACKE: Well, I mean, it is being investigated in Congress. The question is, you know, how do you get Kofi Annan ever to testify?
KONDRACKE: I don’t think you do. But, clearly, I mean, the United Nations commits one disaster after another, and it just destroys the credibility of the institution.
BARNES: All right, UP: John Kerry. He returned to work in the Senate this week, and unlike other presidential also-rans, Kerry is taking his Election Day loss like a man, rolling up his sleeves and not looking back. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: This race was a solid effort, and no one’s ever beaten a president in time of war. So the fact that I came 50,000 short of that, I don’t find -- you know, am I disappointed? Yes, I would have rather won. But do I find that somehow some mark of failure or distress? The answer is no.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BARNES: You know, losing a presidential race has to be traumatic, and, you know, he hasn’t grown a beard, he hasn’t gone off and sulked, he’s come back to the Senate for the lame-duck session, he’s there. He went to the Clinton library event, even. I’m sorry to say, though, he sent an e-mail to his supporters, partly blaming FOX News for his defeat. That’s a little pathetic.
But all in all, I’m impressed by his response.
KONDRACKE: Well, he told Geraldo Rivera that he thought a big factor in that was, was Usama bin Laden’s tape at the very end, that it scared people into voting for Bush. In fact, I think it reminded people that they preferred Bush as somebody to take on terrorism.
DOWN: the Arab news channel Al Jazeera. It declined to run the execution of relief worker Margaret Hassan, saying it was too graphic, but it runs over and over the video of a U.S. Marine shooting a wounded Iraqi man in the heat of battle in Fallujah, further inflaming anti-American hatred in the Arab world.
You know, I mean, they, they were perfectly free to, and they did, show the beheading of Paul Johnson, three Iraqi militia people on our side who got captured and beheaded, and the Korean worker. That they show. They wouldn’t show Margaret Hassan. Why? Because, you know, it would offend, that would really offend Arab sensibilities, to be seen shooting a woman. So that they don’t show. This is, this is rank anti-Americanism.
BARNES: Mort, you see it all through the media. It’s not just Al Jazeera, it’s in Europe, it’s all over. It’s unfair, it’s horrible. It’s what exists.
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