President Bush Job Approval

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Special Report Roundtable - July 10

FOX News Special Report With Brit Hume


TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN: Was the president a cowboy when he put together the six party talks? Was he a cowboy when he helped -- when he was supporting, quietly, the efforts of the EU-3? Was he been a cowboy in trying to assembled the largest international coalitions ever to go after misbehavior on the part of individual actors? The answer is this is that this is a president who's always seen diplomacy as the first and most important step to take in trying to prevent people from behaving badly.


HUME: Well, if you could hear Tony over that hum you might be able to divine that what he was responding to was the cover story in the new issue of "Time" magazine. "The end of cowboy diplomacy," it proclaims, with a picture designed to represent President Bush and a man who's all hat, I presume it mean, and no cattle. The magazine says among other things:

"He aimed," did the president, "to lay the foundation for a grand strategy to fight Islamic terrorists and rogue states by spreading democracy around the world and pre-empting gathering threats before they materialize. And the U.S. wasn't willing to wait for others to help."

And the magazine goes on to suggest that that policy -- those policies are in ruins as the president faces trouble in Iraq, trouble with Iran, trouble with North Korea and perhaps other places as well. Some thoughts about this from Fred Barnes, executive editor of the "Weekly Standard"; Morton Kondracke, executive editor of "Roll Call"; and the syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer. FOX news contributors all.

Well Fred, what about it? Is the -- didn't we have cowboy diplomacy and if we did, is it over?

FRED BARNES, "WEEKLY STANDARD": Well, you know, there is -- nobody in the Bush administration should apologize for cowboy diplomacy, there's a great tradition there. Ronald Reagan was called -- he was called a cowboy by -- I mean, just in the U.S. on the "Weekly Standard" Web site we put a list of the things he was called in the 1980s, things like "Trigger Happy Cowboy," "Hollywood Cowboy," "Nuclear Cowboy," "Macho Cowboy," "Lone Cowboy, "Space Cowboy," all these things. And, of course, Ronald Reagan's policies in 1986, you know, six years into his presidency we didn't know where they were going to wind up, and of course, they wound up winning the Cold War, in 1989 the Berlin Wall collapsed and in, I think, 2001 the Soviet Union -- or the 1991 the Soviet Union collapsed, so we don't know where President Bush's policies are going to wind up.

I would say one other thing, "Time" said this was the ending of -- the Bush doctrine has been thrown aside. I couldn't -- they didn't define what the Bush doctrine is except in one instance they said it consisted of unilateralism. Well, that's never been the policy of the president, I mean look, he loved going into Iraq if the French and Germans with were along with him, but if they weren't that didn't make his policy unilateral.

MORT KONDRACKE, "ROLL CALL": You know, I don't know where "Time" magazine has been. There has been a different foreign policy in the second term of this administration almost from the time that Condi Rice took the oath of office. You know, the "Wall Street Journal" months ago tagged it neorealism.

No, it's not really neorealism because its still dedicated to spreading democracy around the world and that's -- you know, that's not realists believe in, but it is much -- emphasizes much more negotiation, much more multi-literalism, doing things together and all of that, and the president -- Bill Kristol of the "Weekly Standard" was complaining about it that we looked weak in response to Iran and North Korea, but clearly what Bush is trying to do is to is get -- he's trying diplomacy as hard as he can to try to get various countries to put pressure on these bad guys. I don't know what happens if he doesn't succeed, you know, and in the last months of the administration if Iran is on the verge of a nuclear weapon or North Korea is on the verge of aggression it may be that he'll revert.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I don't see the drastic abandonment of the Bush doctrine. Look, at a time when he supposedly was the big cowboy, which was three years ago, the North Koreans tear up an (INAUDIBLE) proliferation treaty, embark on the open acquisition of new nuclear weapons and the administration essentially did nothing. It called for six-party talks and now in response to a missile launch, which was expected for years and which was a failure, people are surprised that there is not a robust response, big deal. Some countries, you can't preempt. North Korea is such a country. It has a disciplined huge army on the edge of South Korea, it already is nuclear and also its facilities are in places which we don't know. It's not a target of preemption under the old doctrine or any new one. Saddam was. He was vulnerable, he was deposed and Iran is in intermediate decay, so the policy is dictated by what can be achieved depending on the target and not a great change in strategy by any means.

KONDRACKE: But it -- look, I think we are militarily tied down in Iraq and Afghanistan and in the war on terror.


HUME: What is it that we -- excuse me, what is it that we can't do elsewhere with regard to North Korea or Iran?

KONDRACKE: I don't think we can bomb the.


HUME: You don't think we have nuclear -- the capability to bomb the missile sites in North Korea because of Iraq?

KONDRACKE: Well, if the North Korean army comes down plunging down across the DMZ, I don't see that we have the troops there, these are millions of troops -- that we have troops there to hold them back. I mean, we would almost certainly have to go to nuclear war, which I don't think the administration wants to do.

KRAUTHAMMER: We would never have attacked them three years ago, or 10 years ago, or 15 years ago, it's not an option in that case. In the case of Iraq it was, in the case of Iran, it's a question and the question generally is do we know where the nuclear stuff is and Iraq works both ways on Iran. Yes, it distracts us and yes, it weakens us in some way. On the other hand it gives us a presence, a military presence bases from which we could launch an air campaign which would be harder to do if we only had the carriers and cruise missiles.

HUME: Last word.

BARNES: You know, one of the questions is -- it depends on what I mean by the Bush doctrine. If you think it is fighting war on terror, against the terrorists and those countries that harbor them, it consists of preemption, acting boldly and not waiting for somebody to attack, and democracy, I think they're pretty much following that. But the circumstances that I think Charles was suggesting have changed. It's not just the new secretary of state. You deal differently with Iran and North Korea than you did with Iraq.

HUME: When we come back with our panel, tax revenue is up, the budget deficit is down. How can this be? That's next.



HENRY PAULSON, TREASURE SECRETARY: Under your leadership, Mr. President, our economy has achieved steady growth and has created millions of jobs. This growth has been achieved despite the stiff challenges of terrorist attacks and economic downturn, corporate scandals, and devastating natural disasters.


HUME: And now comes the news about to be confirmed in an official report within a day or so that the budget deficit which is expected to grow larger again this year than last year will, in fact, apparently be smaller and could even slide below $300 billion which is a heck of a lot of money, but a lot less than was originally forecast. Tax revenues are said to be running something on the order of $250 billion ahead of schedule. So, what is happening here -- Charles.

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, this is a classic example of cutting taxes, stimulating activity -- economic activity, and ending with higher tax receipts by the government. These liberals find it impossible to understand that you can actually cut the tax rates and increase how much is taken in, because if you cut the rate, as has now happened, to a huge extent, you get a huge increase in economic activity in growth. Yes, the rich get rich and they pay huge amounts of taxes, larger than expected, and they spend and invest which stimulates the economy. Kennedy did it, Reagan did it, and now it happens again. Every 20 years, we relearn that lesson, that it's not the rates that determines how much is taken in, but rates can actually affect how strong an economy is and if you lower them, you can often have an increase in activity which is why we have this windfall, if you like.

KONDRACKE: Yeah, but the deficit is still $300 billion and it's presumably not going to disappear any time soon and even the...


HUME: What was the goal -- what was the administration's goal?

KONDRACKE: I think it was to cut the deficit in half by the...

HUME: Are they on schedule to do that?

KONDRACKE: Well, they may be, yeah. But, even the president says -- even the president says that we need to have an entitlement commission to address the long-term problem, which is that we've got a baby boom generation just about to retire and we do not -- we have either got -- we have got to shave entitlements in order to pay for it, and probably raise revenues and I don't know where -- I haven't heard him talking about where the revenues are going to come from, but somehow there's to be a combination of that.


KONDRACKE: The debt of the country has gone up.

HUME: So, Fred (INAUDIBLE), you can't grow your way out of this problem.

BARNES: Well, it certainly happen in the late 1990's, you grew your way out of a deficit that even the Clinton people were saying was -- you know, they didn't want a balanced budget, they didn't want to have one even in 10 years, they didn't want to predict one because they didn't think it would happen, of course it's going to happen. What's missing here is not a tax increase, which would only stifle economic activity and reduce the number, the amount of revenues pouring in, but spending cuts. And President Bush hasn't been very good on that, Congress has been even worse.

Look, I concede it's hard for a republican president to veto big spending of a republican Congress, but if you added serious spending cuts and entitlement reform, which President Bush certainly tried in 2005 without much help, with no help from democrats and not even much from republicans, when you combine those things in there with a booming economy that can certainly continue, then we're going to have a balanced budget, and in effect we would be at least partially growing our way out of it and not -- actually, you don't cut spending. All you do is slow the growth.

HUME: Is it really possible to restrain spending in the area of entitlements before the pinch that the swollen entitlement programs will eventually cause and begin to hit?

BARNES: Probably not. As President Bush wrote in his campaign book back in 2000, that you have to have a crisis. The crisis has to come first, and then you can do something.

KONDRACKE: Well, but everybody says that the gets worse the longer it's delayed.

HUME: That's true.

BARNES: The problem (INAUDIBLE), it's a squeezing. It's not as if it's going over a cliff. Every year the revenues are smaller and the deficit is larger.

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