When Will Bush and Pelosi End Love Fest?

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This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys," on November 11, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.


REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-CALIF.: We both extended the hand of friendship, of partnership to solve the problems facing our country. The challenges that America's working families face.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The elections are now behind us and the congresswoman's party won. But the challenges still remain. And therefore, we are going to work together to address those challenges in a constructive way.


FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: I am Fred Barnes.

MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: And I am Mort Kondracke. We're "The Beltway Boys."

Well, the first hot story is shotgun wedding, that's the new marriage between.

BARNES: I like that.

KONDRACKE: You like that? Between the Republican White House and the Democratic Congress. And both sides as we saw are talking the language of bipartisanship and cooperation and problem solving and all that. I love this music but I have to say that I have heard this song before.

Now the president did offer as a peace offering to the new Democrats the head of Don Rumsfeld, outgoing secretary of defense. There are things that the Democrats and Republicans could work together on if they were of a mind to starting with immigration.

But I think that the marriage is not going to last very long because the level of Bush hatred that exists among Democratic activists and the level of right wing ideologuism, if you like that.

BARNES: Ideology.

KONDRACKE: . Among Republicans - ideology is so great among the Republicans that this is going to all break apart especially when we do not pull out of Iraq fast enough to satisfy the Democrats, when the subpoenas start flying toward the administration from the Congress and when the Democrats start spending a lot of money on health, education, and homeland security programs that Bush starts vetoing their appropriations bills.

BARNES: The truth is he is going to have the votes if Republicans - they are a minority but they are not that far out of the majority so he will have the votes to sustain his vetoes and while he never vetoed Republican spending bills over the last three years he might be more inclined to veto Democratic spending bills.

Obviously,Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are going to be at least for now conciliatory toward the president and I think they would like to make some compromises to pass legislation but the left is going to intervene. And it's going to be hard to do it.

Already we have these unelected Democrats stepping in. George McGovern, there is a blast from the past, coming in and saying, we have to get out of Iraq pronto and Bob Rubin, actually the very well respected former treasury secretary under Bill Clinton, he says, oh, you have got to raise taxes right away and so that's the problem. Then you have the three Democratic horsemen of the Apocalypse,John Dingell, Henry Waxman and John Conyers, these three committee chairmen who want to investigate the Bush administration which means to persecute the Bush administration and I think it is going to be hard to really get anywhere.

Now Mort, the guy to watch in the Bush administration is really the new treasury secretary Henry Paulson who has been given this incredibly long leash in discretionary authority by the president to make some deals on entitlements and taxes and trade and so on.

And I think Bush is ready to make some concessions. I think they will get an immigration bill. He will not have to make many there since he and Democrats pretty much agree already on a comprehensive bill.

I think the president is going to let a minimum wage bill go through and he will sign it. But beyond that, on all these other things, I think Paulson has got his work cut out for him.

KONDRACKE: Well, the first sign that sweetness and light is not going to prevail was the Senate Democrats' decision to not confirm John Bolton as the UN ambassador. He has done a very good job. He has basically been a negotiator. He has not been an ideologue and he should have been retained.

But I think that what the Republicans and the Democrats are saying right now is what the country desperately wants: to get stuff done on entitlements and health care reform and that sort of thing. I am afraid that they are just so ideologically hidebound, for example to have a deal on entitlements the Republicans would have to agree to raise taxes and the Democrats would have to agree to means test or something like that and it is just not in the cards in the next two years.

BARNES: Look. Trying to dump John Bolton is purely vindictive. Any reasonable person, Republican or Democrat, would looks at the job he has done there, would have to stay he has done a fantastic job in promoting America's interests there and I hope President Bush gives him another recess appointment which I think would be perfectly legal.

I want to mention one more thing, Mort, and that is that President Bush is not going to fade quietly into the horizon as a lame duck president. He is still the central figure in Washington. And I think he has many powerful political tools — not only the veto, he has got the megaphone, after all, he has got the biggest one, and so he is going to be somebody that we will hear a lot from him. He is going to be not dominant but central.

KONDRACKE: I remember Bill Clinton at one stage in his second term said "I am still relevant. I am president."

BARNES: It turned out Clinton was, actually.

KONDRACKE: Actually, he did.

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