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Special Report Roundtable - April 20

FOX News Special Report With Brit Hume

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HU JINTAO, CHINESE PRESIDENT (through translator): In the future we will, in the light of China's own national conditions and the will of the Chinese people, continue to move ahead the political restructuring and to develop the socialist democracy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Well, that was one of the assurances the president got today from his Chinese visitor that they're going to continue on the path towards democratizing their country as long as the people can stand it.

Some analytical observations on this visit now from Fred Barnes, executive editor of "The Weekly Standard," Mort Kondracke, executive editor of "Roll Call," and Nina Easton, deputy Washington bureau chief of the "Boston Globe." Fox News contributors all.

This is kind of an intriguing little visit in which they did a sort of semi-state visit he got not a state dinner but a lunch, wasn't called a state lunch. He got a certain amount of White House south lawn festivities but not the full complement of those. There was no -- there was a photo-op and there were statements and there were some questions but there was no joint news conference. What about all this and what about what this all means? Fred?

FRED BARNES, "WEEKLY STANDARD": Right now probably America's relations with China are the best they've been in years and years. One of the reasons is, of course, the Bush administration and before that the Clinton administration didn't really push hard on China on human rights issues and other things that may divide the two countries.

On the other hand, we haven't gotten much from China and there sure wasn't much agreement today. A little bit on the trade and current account imbalance because the Chinese leader said they would -- their policy was to increase domestic demand and consumer driven .

HUME: Have more goods going over there, right?

BARNES: Which would mean -- the trade problem is -- has been over the years the Chinese save more and buy less and in the U.S. we save less and buy more so we get a lot more of their goods than they get of ours but we were just sort of laughing at what he said about democracy.

I am reminded when I listen to the head of a communist government, the way they talk. There's this boilerplate, this communist boilerplate and this guy still uses some of it and he did on democracy and there's all this political restructuring and this and that about democracy which really leads you nowhere and at one point he said -- and this was so typical where he said that they have reached an important agreement. I thought here comes some real news and, no, they just agreed they should work constructively. That was it.

MORT KONDRACKE, "ROLL CALL": Well, look, who gave the United States a little bit on this consumer - they're going to expand .

HUME: It's just assurances, there's no numbers. There's no .

KONDRACKE: And he bought 50 Boeing aircraft when he was in the State of Washington which will help a little bit and bush has obviously got some problems on the economic front with the Democrats yelling at him about the pegging of the yuan to the dollar and undervaluing the currency and that kind of thing.

But look, China is one of the great big unknown questions of the future of the world. The other one being the future of Islam and China, is China going to be a responsible democratic power in the future? It's going to be a power. It's getting richer by the day, by the hour practically. The economy grew 10 percent in three months of this year. It's just gigantic and it's got all this population and all this.

What is it going to be? Is it going to be a democracy or is it going to be a fascist dictatorship? Which it sort of is right now. It's a statist, corporatist, mercantilist terrible on human rights .

HUME: Police state.

KONDRACKE: Yeah. And is it going to be an imperialistic power? That is a question we don't know. And we're betting the richer it gets, the more middle-class demand there will be for democracy and stuff like that.

HUME: And for openness perhaps.

KONDRACKE: The last time they tried it -- the human rights - tried it, they got the Tiananmen Square massacre.

NINA EASTON, "BOSTON GLOBE": I thought your point was summarized so well, the contrast between yesterday - the visual contrast between yesterday and today. Yesterday Seattle, Boeing, President Hu was embraced by these executives, the Boeing executive who said "China rocks." And then today you walk around the streets of Washington, there were protesters everywhere. The Falun Gong, the spiritual .

HUME: One of them got in the event, the south lawn, and interrupted. There you see it now. There she is now. She was protesting, as you point out, the persecution of the Falun Gong religious movement.

EASTON: The government is considered by the State Department. It's human rights record is abysmal and worsening on some fronts and censorship is worsening on some fronts and I thought the other comment I thought was really striking by President Hu when he talked about he's moving towards the quote "orderly" participation of Chinese citizens into political affairs meaning none of this messy democracy stuff for us.

HUME: Well, how about -- let's assess how this administration is treating with this question after country that could go either way as Mort suggests. Was this the right mix today, was this the right ceremonial mix, or was this - or what?

BARNES: It probably was. We know where China is going. They're not going to be a bitter adversary, a country that is conspiring to overtake the United States and conquer the United States and so on.

But we know they're not going to help us. They're not helping with Iran. They should be the people -- they could get the North Koreans, they could snap their fingers and the North Koreans would get rid of their nuclear weapons but they don't do that. They're just not going to help us anywhere and meanwhile the Indians, the Japanese, the Australians and many others in Asia want the U.S. to be there to help check Chinese power and we're doing it.

HUME: When we come back with our panel, we'll talk about the Democrats' election strategy on border control. Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN KERRY, (D-MA): Strong enforcement of our laws at our borders is important, but we don't have to compromise our national security in order to continue our tradition as a nation of immigrants. We can make America stronger inside and out. That requires providing a path to legalization for those undocumented workers who are living here, who have worked hard, who have paid taxes, played by the rules.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HUME: That was John Kerry at a forum today, the Hispanic Forum. This was Howard Dean yesterday on immigration. "The first thing we want is tough border control. We don't want guest worker programs. I think the president's guest worker program is essentially indentured servitude. It doesn't help the immigrant and it threatens wages."

So he may just not like the president's guest worker program, maybe he thinks that the one that Senator Kerry is talking about would be grand, but what about this issue and where it stands between the two parties and where does the president stand?

EASTON: Howard Dean has said this privately apparently before. This wasn't a surprise too much too much to Democrats on the Hill although they're surprised he went public but I had in calling the Hill about this .

HUME: The emphasis on enforcement and no guest worker program.

EASTON: Enforcement and no guest worker program. Which of course is at odds with most of the Democrats in the Senate but in calling about this on the Hill, I got a fascinating reaction. First it was, well, he's just reflecting the view of the AFL-CIO, no big surprise, which opposes a guest worker program. Then they call back, the DNC called back quite nervous and saying, no, he was just opposing the president's guest worker program which is, of course, splitting hairs because it's pretty clear, I think, if there was a guest worker program .

HUME: The guy said, we don't like guest worker programs.

EASTON: He doesn't like temporary guest worker programs with no path towards citizenship. But I think it's pretty fair to assume if a guest worker program with some piece of citizenship got to the president's desk like the compromise that was left before Congress recessed, the president would sign it. So I -- it's unclear what he was trying to make of this.

HUME: What the president was saying was he doesn't want an automatic path towards citizenship. But he wants a path toward citizenship.

BARNES: The president would sign it but a majority of the Democrats in Congress would have voted for it. So I don't know where Howard Dean is. He's not credible on that particular issue of border enforcement. Democrats complained about the House bill was too severe. They've even complained in the Senate that measures in it were too severe. They were too stringent on border enforcement. So I don't think Howard Dean is a part of the game.

Now Harry Reid is a part of the game and what he and Chuck Schumer decide is really important because they have -- because Harry Reid, the Democratic Leader in the Senate, can block a bill from passing there. And if he does, if he continues to think that Democrats would be better off with no bill and then blame Republicans this fall, then nothing may happen.

KONDRACKE: Well, there was a big -- there was a big raid in nine states by the Homeland Security Department today and Harry Reid said, well, raids aren't what we really need. These are photo ops. What we really need is border security because, look, this is the competence argument that they're using against Bush, that we have got a porous border. Bush has been president for six years almost and where has he been?

This is part of the incompetence charge. And they say, well, we'll control the border, method unknown, and on the issue of the guest worker thing, they are playing to the AFL-CIO and they are also trying to play to the Hispanic community by talking about legalization. It's very confusing about what they're actually for.

HUME: Let me just ask a couple of questions. You can't figure out what the Democrats are for but Senate Democrats, Senator Kennedy and others, are in favor of a guest worker program. Correct?

KONDRACKE: Right.

HUME: Now where is the White House thought to stand on the guest worker program?

KONDRACKE: For it.

HUME: Any doubt about that?

KONDRACKE: What Bush needs to do is to say right now that when Congress is coming back next week, let's get this Senate bill passed with these provisions in it and offer some leadership on this issue because it's there to be done and he can embarrass the Democrats. It's Reid who is standing in the way of getting this Kennedy-McCain compromise -- Specter -- compromise through the Senate and he ought to be pushing it.

BARNES: And say exactly what he wants. We know what he wants. He wants earned citizenship for the illegal immigrants already here, a guest worker program, and stepped up border enforcement.

HUME: Without their having to go home first.

BARNES: Without they're having to go home. And he also ought to set a deadline. That's the one thing Bill Frist did that worked, when he set a deadline for the Senate Judiciary Committee to act, they acted. And if he sets one on Memorial Day, say, the Senate needs .

HUME: But what are the consequences if they don't act by Memorial Day? He'll be really mad?

BARNES: Show them (inaudible)

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