Ups and Downs from the Week of Nov. 8

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This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys", Nov. 13, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

Watch "The Beltway Boys" Saturday at 6 p.m. ET and Sunday at 1 and 6 a.m. EST.

MORT KONDRACKE, HOST: Welcome back to “The Beltway Boys.”

Let’s take a look at this week’s UPS and DOWNS.

UP: the United States Marines. This week’s assault on the rebel stronghold of Fallujah (search) has been a success so far, with U.S. troops controlling about 80 percent of the city and killing nearly 600 insurgents. Here’s President Bush Friday on the situation.


PRESIDENT BUSH: Prime Minister Allawi (search) authorized military operations to rid Fallujah Saddam holdouts and foreign terrorists. And American and Iraqi forces have made substantial progress in the last several days. Success of democracy in Iraq will be a crushing blow to the forces of terror and the terrorists know it.


MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Well, this was a success here, we’ve rousted the insurgents from their stronghold city. Two, we’ve discovered a lot of intelligence, and this grisly hostage killing room. Three, the Iraqi forces seem to have performed reasonably well.

Now, Zarqawi (search), the head terrorist, and some of his, and probably a lot of his henchmen, escaped the city, but still, they’re scattered, and there’s going to be more violence. We know there’s going to be more violence. But this had to be done, and it was.

BARNES: Anyway, yes, I think you’re right, success is really important in Fallujah, because it has been the sanctuary for all these jihadists. It’s been the staging area for their terrorist attacks all over Iraq. And taking it means they’re denied that.

I think there’s a plausible analogy with the conquering of Afghanistan when Al Qaeda was there. It meant that that was no longer the sanctuary, the home ground, the headquarters, the staging area for Al Qaeda. And, and since then, Al Qaeda hasn’t been the same. Still an evil force that has to be combated, but not what they were before. And I think that the same sort of thing will be true in Iraq as well when you scatter the jihadists around the country, they won’t have the same impact. All right.

DOWN: Republican Senator Arlen Specter (search). He’s likely to survive the conservative cabal to deny him the chairmanship of the, of the Judiciary Committee, but he’s politically neutered, or something close to that.

Here’s Specter trying to tamp down the controversy.


SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R), PENNSYLVANIA: I’m well aware of the fact that there are many people who would like to see me not get that position. I had a very tough primary. The same people who are out after me now came into Pennsylvania and campaigned hard against me. But I won that one. And I have a very solid record of supporting pro-life nominees without a litmus test.


BARNES: It was all outside agitators, but the truth is, he was never going to be denied the chairmanship, I think, unless the White House weighed in. If President Bush and Karl Rove and others were sending signals that we don’t want Specter to be the Senate Judiciary Chairman, I think he’d get knocked off. But that’s not the case.

Now, but the flap, it’s actually helped conservatives, because they’ve wrung some promises out of Specter to really not, not to impede conservative nominees or policies.

KONDRACKE: Look, the statement that started this whole flap, I think this is a bum story. This is, this is the right-wingers going after Specter for, and trying to find an excuse. What he said in the beginning was just to state the obvious, that if President Bush put up nominees who were, who were in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade, that the Democrats would filibuster, and the person wouldn’t get through. It’s a fact, it’s the truth.

And the right wing is leaping all over him because they don’t like him. They tried to defeat him in the primary, as he said, and, and they failed, thanks in part to the, to the president and to Rick Santorum, his, his right-wing colleague.


BARNES: The nominees are going to show up before the Senate Judiciary Committee and start off by saying, I’m going to overturn Roe v. Wade, that’s not the way it works.

KONDRACKE: But if their record indicates that.


KONDRACKE: And now, look, I agree with Hugh, with our pal Hugh Hewitt, the, the radio talk show host, who says that if the right wing starts beating up on Arlen and, and the other moderates, and they carry the party too far to the right, there will be somebody, Arlen Specter or somebody else, who will become the Zell Miller of the, of the Republican Party, and that’s not good.

BARNES: When you say the right wing, who are you referring to?

KONDRACKE: You know who, they’re all, they’re all your pals.


BARNES: All right, go ahead.

KONDRACKE: UP: Hillary Clinton. The jockeying for 2008 has begun. In her first speech since Bush’s re-election, Hillary displayed her foreign policy credentials, invoked the Bible, and said it was a mistake for Democrats to cede the moral values debate to the Republicans. "I don’t think you can win an election or even run a … successfully campaign if you don’t acknowledge what is important to people. We don’t have to agree with them. But being ignored is a sign of disrespect. We should talk about these issues."

Now, she also said, "No one could read the New Testament of our Bible without recognizing that Jesus had a lot more to say about how we treat the poor than most of the issues that were talked about in this election."

Amen, Hillary.


KONDRACKE: And it’s no wonder that she is the front-runner for the nomination, although I do think that Evan Bayh is more the genuine article.

BARNES: Yes, yes. No, she had, but she is head and shoulders of above the ordinary run of Democratic leaders and Democratic members of Congress. I think there’s no question about that.

Now, the key word there was this word "disrespect," because Democrats have and are continuing to, some of them, disrespect Christians and Christian conservatives, particularly by demonizing them and saying they’re these intolerant people who have elected Bush. As Charles Krauthammer pointed out, they were not the ones who, who defeated John Kerry, actually. All right.

DOWN: Focus on the Family’s James Dobson (search). He’s among the evangelical Christian leaders wanting political payback after helping President Bush win re-election, warning, "The GOP has been given four years to deliver on marriage and life and family. And if they fumble it, we will stay home next time." Now, look, I think James Dobson is a great man in many ways, particularly in his books advising parents how to raise children and so on, brilliant books, and I think he’s a, a force in America for decency and, and other family values.

But as a political adviser, this is not the way to go, I mean, to pretend in the first place, Christians did not elect President Bush. They helped him get elected, some of them who are involved in politics. And, to demand, or to make a threat, you know, if you don’t do what we say, then we’re not going to vote for you again, in public, I think, only creates a backlash, when in fact President Bush already agrees with most of their agenda anyway.

KONDRACKE: Yes. Look, I think that he’s over, overstated the values issue. It was important. The, the exit polls indicate that 22 percent of the voters thought it was the most important issue. But if you combine jobs, the economy, education, and health care, it was about, like, 37 percent, and if you combine Iraq and, and terrorism, it was 32, which is even more.

BARNES: Yes, I know, but a lot of those people cared for moral values as well.

KONDRACKE: Yes, but people interpret moral values differently.

OK, coming up, the post-election backlash against gay marriage continues. We’ll take a closer look when we go beyond the Beltway.


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