Top Videos
2008 Polls NationalIowaNew HampshireGeneral Election
GOP | DemGOP | DemGOP | DemHead-to-Head

Send to a Friend | Print Article


Howard Dean, Dan Bartlett, Roundtable

Fox News Sunday

CHRIS WALLACE, HOST: I'm Chris Wallace. A new deadly attack against Iraqi police recruits, next on "Fox News Sunday".

The voters speak, and now Democrats take control of Congress. What's their plan for Iraq, the economy and immigration reform? We'll ask Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

The White House reaches out to the new congressional leaders. But where is compromise possible? We'll find out from counselor to the president, Dan Bartlett.

Also, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld is forced out over his handling of the Iraq war.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD RUMSFELD, OUTGOING SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: The first war of the 21st century -- it was not well understood.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: Will there be a new strategy for waging the war? We'll talk with our Sunday regulars, Brit Hume, Mara Liasson, Bill Kristol and Juan Williams. Plus, our Power Player of the Week brings clowns to Washington, real clowns, all right now on "Fox News Sunday".

And good morning again from Fox News in Washington on a very busy week for news. Here's a quick check of the latest headlines.

In Baghdad today, at least 35 people were killed and almost twice that many injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up outside a police recruiting center. Iraqi police were also targeted in two fatal roadside bombings.

The continuing violence prompted Prime Minister Maliki today to call for a complete reshuffling of his cabinet. According to sources, Maliki ordered lawmakers to work for a united Iraq, not individual religious sects or political parties.

And Senator Russ Feingold is not running for president after all. The Wisconsin Democrat says he was a longshot at best anyway and wants to concentrate on his work in the Senate.

Well, the Democrats won back control of Congress on Tuesday, so what's their agenda for the next two years? Joining us now, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Howard Dean.

And, Governor, congratulations and welcome back to "Fox News Sunday".

HOWARD DEAN, DNC CHAIRMAN: Thanks for having me on.

WALLACE: For all the talk now from Democratic leaders about governing from the center, there is a lot of speculation from both the right and the left that eventually the Democrats are going to show their true colors and govern as liberals.

DEAN: Well, I'll tell you something.

WALLACE: Is that going to happen? If not, why not?

DEAN: First of all, I think the words conservative and liberal are now meaningless. You have a conservative president who ran up the biggest budget deficit in the history of America. I don't know what those words mean anymore.

I think we're going to go back to the kind of governing, the kind of policies that we saw when Bill Clinton was president. We're going to have -- I think balanced budget is very, very important. National security is very, very important. We want to implement the 9/11 Commission recommendations.

And then I think you're going to see some things that we care about like -- traditionally care about, like fixing the Medicare thing, the minimum wage and so forth and so on. But I think you're going to see the main focus on balancing the budget, which Bill Clinton was -- was a Bill Clinton legacy, and on strong security, implementing 9/11.

WALLACE: Do you feel, in a sense, that the American people have given you an audition...

DEAN: Yes.

WALLACE: ... over the next two years, you've got to show that you're up to governing and, frankly, governing from the center, not from the left?

DEAN: I think that's exactly right. I think we've been given an opportunity now, and the next two years is our opportunity to show that yes, we can govern, that the things the Republicans have said about us for the last 12 years are not true.

WALLACE: Such as?

DEAN: Oh, I'm not going to go through the "such as". You never repeat somebody else's mean things they say about you.

WALLACE: But I mean, that you're weak on national security?

DEAN: Yeah, all that stuff, right, exactly. I think we have an opportunity now to show that we're tough on defense, that we're tough on balancing the budget, that we're going to be sensible, that we do want a commitment to a social safety net and economic justice, but we're going to use -- we're going to be careful and thoughtful and do this in a sustainable way. WALLACE: Let's get more specific and talk about where Democrats are on some key issues. The Congressional Progressive Caucus -- that's more than 60 members of the House, so it's a sizable group -- has invited former Senator George McGovern to come speak to them this week and to present his plan to pull all U.S. troops out of Iraq by next June.

Now, you have said over the course of the campaign the American people want out of Iraq, we need a plan to leave. Is next June a realistic deadline?

DEAN: I suspect maybe not, but there will be lots of different kinds of plans, and the truth is the president still is in charge of military and foreign policy. We need to work with the president to get ourselves out of Iraq.

The vast majority of the American people believe the truth, which is that it was a mistake to get into Iraq in the first place. That the president does not believe, but we -- everybody in America understands that we cannot stay -- except possibly the president and Vice President Cheney, understands that we cannot stay in Iraq forever.

We can't have a stay-the-course mentality. We need to get out of Iraq. The question is how we can do that. We hope to work with the president to bring our troops home.

I think by establishing an arbitrary deadline of next June I think is probably not the way it's going to work, but we need -- this cannot be left to the next president, as George Bush once famously said.

WALLACE: Let's talk, though, about the terms for leaving. The president still talks about victory in Iraq, and that seems to have changed his definition of victory, but he at the very least is certainly talking about not allowing Iraq to become a safe haven for terrorists.

What is the Democrats' bottom line? What is it that you must have before we leave Iraq?

DEAN: I think that we need to tell the Iraqi people that we're leaving, because I think, frankly, they are playing political games over there to see who can get into power on the backs of our troops.

Our troops are over there trying to keep order. They don't have an obligation to keep order. I saw a chilling story in the New York Times this morning where an Iraqi was appointed the head of the fifth Iraqi division and came to our general who was working with him saying this is a list of people I want arrested.

Our general said well, where's your evidence. He said we just got this list from Baghdad. And they were all the Sunni sheiks and people who our folks were working with to try to tamp down the insurgency. That is a chilling proposition. It is not our job to prop up an incompetent regime, and this regime in Iraq looks more and more incompetent as time goes along. So it is our job to keep order. We can do that.

WALLACE: Is it our job to prevent a safe haven for terrorists in Iraq?

DEAN: Yes, and there's a way to do that, and the Democrats have been talking about it for a year.

And if you didn't have a Republican president that we had to work with, my guess is that we would get out of Iraq in a measured, thoughtful way and leave a contingency of special operations forces in a friendly country so that we can go in and deal with terrorist threats wherever they might appear in the Middle East.

WALLACE: But beyond that, beyond preventing the safe haven, is -- what ends up in Iraq is not our business?

DEAN: It is our business. The problem is the president had no idea what he was doing when he got us into it and therefore the consequences are going to be bad no matter what happens.

I mean, the worst thing that can happen -- and this may well be the outcome -- is that Turkish troops end up in Kurdistan, because the Kurds are fomenting terrorist violence in eastern Turkey. That is a real possibility. The PKK, which is the terrorist organization, the Kurdish terrorist organization, now is operating out of Kurdistan. That's a very serious problem.

If we hadn't gone into Iraq, that wouldn't be a serious problem. Turkey is one of our most important allies. There are all kinds of unforeseen consequences to this policy. Our problem is we've got to cut our losses and figure out how we're going to get our folks out and still defend the United States of America.

Keeping 140,000 brave Americans in Iraq is not making America safer. It's very clear that it's not made America safer. And the American people just voted to say send some folks in there who are willing to be tough and smart about how we defend the country.

WALLACE: But cut our losses is what the message you get from this election is.

DEAN: Yeah, don't stay in Iraq. We're not going to put up with terrorism in Iraq or anyplace else, but we can't keep 140,000 brave Americans in Iraq indefinitely. Did not we learn this lesson in Vietnam?

WALLACE: Let's talk about taxes. Here's what former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, one of the leading Democratic voices on the economy, had to say this week. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT RUBIN, FORMER TREASURY SECRETARY: You cannot solve the nation's fiscal problems without increased revenues.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: He says that to deal with what he calls the deep threat to the economy, you've got to raise taxes.

DEAN: The first thing, Chris, is that I think that both Speaker- to- be Pelosi and Majority Leader Harry Reid have said is that we won't raise taxes on the middle class and that we will -- we will -- reinstigate something that was there in the Clinton administration called pay-go, or pay as you go.

That is, no one in Congress may propose a tax cut or a program increase without saying where the money's going to come from. OK? That's a very good start principle.

Now, Bob Rubin, of course, is one of the preeminent economic authorities in the country, and he's right. But the revenues will not come from the middle class. In fact, many Democrats would like to give the middle class a tax cut. I think we have to be careful of that because I think, frankly, the budget deficit has been understated by about $100 billion.

None of the Iraq money that we're spending appears in the budget deficit because it's all on special emergency off-the-books stuff, which is a chicanery, frankly. So if there's going to be new revenue, which I think Secretary Rubin is correct about, it will probably come from rolling back special tax breaks that the Republicans gave to oil companies had HMOs and so forth. That's a good place to start.

But the Democrats are -- my party is going to have to be very careful about spending. There are some things we want to do -- cutting interest rates so kids can get to college easier -- but we have to be very careful. We can't do everything.

WALLACE: Let me ask you about another thing, though. You talk about rolling back some of the tax cuts from the Bush 2001-2003.

DEAN: Tax cuts that the...

WALLACE: I understand.

DEAN: ... oil companies got.

WALLACE: I want to get to another...

DEAN: Right, OK.

WALLACE: Ever since the Bush tax cuts were passed in the early part of this administration, Democrats have complained about a bailout for the rich.

You're in control now in the House and the Senate. You finally have your majority back. I know there are a lot of people who voted for Democrats who would say raise taxes on the wealthy. DEAN: Well, you know, I don't think we ought to use that kind of rhetoric. The truth is that -- this is a true story -- 18 percent of Americans think they're in the top 1 percent of the income brackets, and the next 18 percent think they're in the top 10 percent.

If you start to -- I mean, the president used this, I think, with some effectiveness in the campaign, even though he didn't win, which is claiming we were going to raise taxes. If you start talking about raising taxes on the wealthy, most Americans assume you're going to get to them sooner or later, and a lot of them think they are wealthy, even though they're making $100,000 a year, which sounds like a lot of money, but try putting two kids through college on that.

So, look. I'm not going to make policy for the Congress. That's their job. They're going to do what they have to do. But my advice would be let's not talk about individual tax increases right now. Let's look to the -- where the fat really is, enormous subsidies to oil companies who don't need it.

If you're making $10 billion a quarter, you don't need subsidies. They got them from the Bush administration. We'd like to at least help balance the budget by getting rid of those.

WALLACE: The election results were barely in when a top Democratic strategist, James Carville -- you can see where I'm headed with this -- a former adviser to Bill Clinton, started going after you. And let's take a look at what he had to say.

"The RNC --" this is from Carville -- "The RNC did a better job than the DNC --" that's the Republican National Committee and the Democratic National Committee, "-- this year. He says the House and Senate Campaign Committees made up for your shortcomings and that Congressman Harold Ford should replace you as chairman of the DNC.

First of all, what do you make of this criticism, and do you have any intention of stepping down?

DEAN: I have to say I get a laugh out of that one. Here we have -- let's leave the federal races aside, because the DCCC and the DSCC did do a wonderful job. But the truth is we got six additional governors. We got nine additional legislative chambers. New Hampshire now has a Democratic house and senate for the first time in a century.

We did great. And I think the time really has come now, now that we're in power, at least in the Congress, to pull together, to be unified. We've got a lot to do in the next two years. We've got to elect a Democratic president, and so...

WALLACE: Do you have any intention of stepping down?

DEAN: No. I talked to Harold last night, and he has no -- he doesn't want the job. This is some kind of inside the Beltway silliness.

WALLACE: Finally, I'd love to do a triple speed review of the campaign. I'm going to mention a couple of things. I want one or two sentences from you. It's a lightning round on steroids. Otherwise, we're going to hit the buzzer.

DEAN: OK. All right.

WALLACE: Karl Rove as the master strategist.

DEAN: You know, I would never diss Karl Rove, even though I don't care for his brand of politics much, because he has a series of wins. This just didn't happen to be one of them.

WALLACE: John Kerry's botched joke.

DEAN: Overstated.

WALLACE: You didn't put him in the cellar? The party didn't put him in the cellar for the last week?

DEAN: No, no, no. John Kerry did a lot for this party while we were trying to win back. He campaigned like crazy, raised a bunch of money, gave us a bunch of money. I'm not going to go after John Kerry, and I don't think most Democrats will either.

WALLACE: The political effect of the president getting rid of Don Rumsfeld the day after the election rather than two months before.

DEAN: I don't quarrel with the timing, because only the White House folks can know about that. But that was a really important move. Don Rumsfeld was incompetent, and he had no business being there, and I think the president hurt the country by hanging onto him as long as he did.

WALLACE: Wouldn't it have been a lot harder for the Democrats to win if he had been gone in the summer?

DEAN: That I can't handicap, because it's always woulda, coulda, shoulda, looking back on things. But the fact is Rumsfeld should have been gone two years ago.

WALLACE: The Mark Foley congressional page scandal -- its political impact.

DEAN: That did hurt them. You know, we got a third of the white evangelical Christian vote. We got record numbers of African- Americans and Hispanics voting for us.

People are turned off by hypocrisy, and what was really bad about the Mark Foley scandal was not chasing after the pages, although that was bad enough. It was the Republican leadership circling the wagons and caring more about their own political rear ends than they cared about that kid and his family. That really hurt them a lot.

WALLACE: And finally, Barack Obama's experience to be a presidential candidate in 2008.

DEAN: Look, Barack has done an enormous amount for the party. I don't comment on 2008, because I really do have to be the referee and have to be entirely neutral, and I'm going to continue to be entirely neutral.

WALLACE: We're going to have to leave it there. Governor Dean, thanks again for coming in.

DEAN: Chris, thanks so much for having me on.

WALLACE: Up next, can the president work with Democrats on all the issues facing the country? We'll ask one of his top advisers right after this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WALLACE: And we're back now with the White House view of what can be accomplished with Democrats in control of Congress. Joining us is counselor to the president Dan Bartlett.

And welcome back to "Fox News Sunday".

DAN BARTLETT, WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR: Thanks for having me, Chris.

WALLACE: With Democrats, as we say, in charge of Congress for the final two years of his term, is the president now a lame duck?

BARTLETT: No, absolutely not. There's a lot of time for this president and this Congress to work together to address the big issues our country face.

And I think that's the real lesson from this election this past Tuesday, is that the American people want to see their political parties in Washington work together to achieve the great goals our country faces right now, whether it be in the war on terror, whether it be keeping the strong economy growing, whether it be addressing issues such as energy independence, issues such as education.

These are the areas where the American people want this president, a Republican, and the Congress, who are now under Democratic control, to work together to achieve, you know, success on their behalf.

WALLACE: So if you say that's the message from this election, that the American people want the president and Congress to work together, is this president -- and this is not something he's been known for especially in his six years here -- is he willing to compromise?

BARTLETT: Oh, absolutely. And in the conversation President Bush had with Nancy Pelosi, he made the point, and I believe she wholeheartedly agrees, that you don't expect a president or a political leader to compromise on principle. But that doesn't mean you can't find common ground.

President Bush has a strong record as governor of Texas of working with Republicans and Democrats. We passed bipartisan legislation in his first term. whether it be on education reform -- the early tax relief had bipartisan support. There is a way to cut through the partisan rhetoric, put this election behind us and have an opportunity to have a real dialogue without the partisan rhetoric and get some things done.

WALLACE: Let me ask you about a couple of specific questions. Is he willing to consider reform of Social Security without his private accounts?

BARTLETT: Well, the president has made clear that this has to be a bipartisan solution, that Republicans and Democrats have to come together to get something done.

Obviously, the president put forward a proposal he thinks would do just that. The Congress was not prepared to act on that, although I think we did raise the level of awareness amongst the American people about the concerns we face when it comes to entitlement reform.

But what President Bush wants to happen now -- and he's tasked his new treasury secretary, Hank Paulson, to begin dialogues with Capitol Hill to see if there's any common ground. Now, President Bush has put his ideas on the table. He wants other people to put their ideas on the table. Then we'll see if there's any common ground.

But I don't think we're in the place where people ought to be ruling things in or out. Everybody ought to put everything on the table.

WALLACE: Is he willing to allow Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices?

BARTLETT: Well, we had this debate during the prescription drug debate when the Medicare reforms went in place two years ago. And the interesting thing about it is we now have some experience.

And what happened was all the estimates saying that prices wouldn't come down were proven wrong. And when Democrats made their point about having a price control system where the government dictated prices, they turned out -- the estimates they were making were far higher in costs for the American seniors than what is actually happening today out in America.

WALLACE: So you're saying you don't need to have Medicare negotiate lower drug prices. It's already happened.

BARTLETT: The marketplace is working. We're more than happy to have that debate with Republicans and Democrats, whoever want to talk about it. But the proof is in the pudding. And it's been working. It's been benefiting America's seniors.

WALLACE: Let's talk about the lame duck Congress that starts this week.

BARTLETT: Right.

WALLACE: The president wants John Bolton to be confirmed as his U.N. ambassador. He would also like authorization of his NSA warrantless wiretap program.

Does the president regard whether -- how Democrats react on those two issues as a test of their willingness to be bipartisan and to cooperate?

BARTLETT: Well, we'll see. Take both of those issues. One, John Bolton, who's done a remarkable job under the controversy of not being confirmed, but putting in there as a recess appointment. He's proven the critics wrong.

One of his most vocal critics was a Republican senator, Voinovich, from Ohio who completely changed his position after seeing John Bolton work at the United Nations. He's helped pass strong resolutions on North Korea and Iran. He's done a good job.

We believe that both senators from the Republican Party and the Democratic Party ought to give this man the opportunity to continue in that appointment.

WALLACE: But...

BARTLETT: Terrorist surveillance program...

WALLACE: Well, let me just ask you...

BARTLETT: Sure.

WALLACE: ... follow up on Bolton. So to ask the question, if Democrats block him, what message does that send?

BARTLETT: Well, I'm not prepared to say that they are going to block -- I know that they have strong rhetoric. Let's have these conversations.

WALLACE: Joe Biden, the new chairman of Senate Foreign Relations, says he's dead.

BARTLETT: Well, it's unfortunate, because as Senator Voinovich has shown -- is that if you take a look at his record since he's been in office, he's proven the critics wrong on all the charges they've leveled against him. So let's have a conversation about it. We'll see. And I'm not going to prejudge the outcome of this lame duck.

On terrorist surveillance program, the president came to an agreement with key members of the United States Senate and House. There's judicial oversight. There are safeguards in place.

But it's absolutely critical for the American people to have this tool -- for our intelligence officials to have this tool to listen in on enemy conversations with Al Qaida-affiliated groups.

So we're going to continue to dialogue with both Republicans and Democrats, and we hope that the Democrats would see the utility in having this critical tool in the war on terror.

WALLACE: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich blistered the president this week for the decision he made to get rid of Don Rumsfeld the day after the election.

Let's take a look at what Gingrich had to say. "If the president had decided to replace Secretary Rumsfeld, he should have told us two weeks ago. I think we would today control the Senate and probably have 10 to 15 more House seats."

I've got to tell you, I talked this week to Republicans who lost around the country, and they're seething about this. They say if the president decided that he needed a fresh look at Iraq, he should have gotten rid of Rumsfeld this summer, not the day after the election -- we carried a lot of water, we were defending Rumsfeld all fall, and we ended up losing seats.

BARTLETT: Well, I don't necessarily buy the calculation that he was the difference in the election. But more importantly, I think the president in his press conference this past week made very clear why he made the decision and when he made the decision.

And most importantly, it was because he was not going to inject the leadership of our military during a time of war into the final weeks or throes of a presidential or a midterm congressional campaign. It would send the wrong signal.

WALLACE: But it didn't have to be the final weeks. It could have been August.

BARTLETT: Well, that's still very much in the campaign season. The president and Secretary Rumsfeld hadn't come to the mutual understanding that a new leadership was necessary at that time.

The American people expect their president to make decisions about war and peace based on the national security interests of our country, not the short-term political interests of any political party. That's why the president made the decision when he did. It was the right decision.

WALLACE: So what do you say to Republicans and what do you say to Newt Gingrich who say look, part of the national security of the country -- that was certainly the argument you made -- depended on having a Republican House and a Republican Senate...

BARTLETT: Sure.

WALLACE: ... and this decision ended up contributing -- I think everybody would agree it contributed to the fact that you lost both the House and the Senate.

BARTLETT: Think about the signal it would have sent two weeks before the election if President Bush, desperate to change political polls, would have jettisoned his secretary of defense. It would have looked desperate.

It would have looked like it was made based on political motivations, not on the security interests of our country. And I think that would have weakened the president and Republican support going down the stretch of this campaign. WALLACE: What about the argument that with James Baker, who's the head of this Iraq study group the president's going to hear from tomorrow, and with Bob Gates, the new defense secretary named to replace Don Rumsfeld, that the president is turning to his father -- Bush 41's foreign policy team to bail him out of Iraq?

BARTLETT: I think it's not looking at the facts. Everybody keeps saying about Bush 41, 43 and that, and they forget the fact that Vice President Cheney worked in the 41 administration. Steve Hadley, the national security adviser, worked in the 41 administration. Secretary of State Rice, Condoleezza Rice, worked in the 41 administration.

What President Bush has done is pulled together experienced people from Republican ranks, national security credentials that are unquestioned, to help him make important decisions on behalf of the American people during a time of war.

And the president has picked somebody such as Bob Gates because of his credentials and qualifications and experience more so than whether he comes from his father's camp or this camp. He doesn't pay attention to those type of Washington parlor games.

What he is doing is putting people in positions of power that can help us prevail in the war on terror.

WALLACE: As I said, the president meets this week with Secretary Baker and the Iraq study group, and I want to ask you about some of the ideas that are coming out that the ISG may propose, because you guys have previously ruled some of these out -- some form of partition of Iraq into three autonomous regions.

Is that, as the White House said fairly recently, still a non- starter?

BARTLETT: Well, I think I'd be careful to suggest that that is a recommendation that the group is going to make.

WALLACE: No, I understand. But it's...

BARTLETT: I think it's pure speculation. And I think many observers and experts watching the political process in Iraq would say that that would be a mistake to go that route.

Most importantly, the sovereign government of Iraq believes that that would be the wrong way to go. To partition the country would only increase sectarian violence and strife, not call for reconciliation.

But make no mistake about it, Chris. The president is clear that he is assessing his strategy in Iraq, that we're constantly looking at how we can adapt to achieve it. The Baker-Hamilton Commission will provide important information.

He has also chaired -- required his chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Pete Pace, to do a review. The military leadership in our government is doing an assessment of the strategy in Iraq.

All these things are pushing toward one thing, and that is victory in Iraq, and if there are good suggestions coming from either the Baker- Hamilton Commission or elsewhere -- members of Congress, both Republican and Democrat -- we want to listen to them.

WALLACE: One other idea -- a regional conference involving Syria and Iran. Now, up to this point, the U.S. has not been willing to involve and speak directly to Syria or Iran.

BARTLETT: There's been plenty of conversations with Syria and Iran about their responsibilities in the region, and Prime Minister Maliki, the leader of the Iraqi government, has traveled to Tehran. There are plenty of opportunities...

WALLACE: But the U.S. has not had direct one-on-one talks.

BARTLETT: ... and there are regional conferences that are planned in the future...

WALLACE: Pardon me?

BARTLETT: There are regional conferences already planned to take place, I believe, in Jordan later this year in which there will be all kinds of conversations. including the future of Iraq.

WALLACE: Is the U.S. willing to talk -- the U.S. willing to talk directly to Syria and Iran about trying to find some regional solution to Iraq?

BARTLETT: We have spoken to Syria directly. Former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage on our behalf went and spoke about the responsibilities they have in Iraq, so...

WALLACE: And Iran?

BARTLETT: But, Chris, we've sent very clear signals. Iran knows its responsibilities. I'm not going to today prejudge any of the recommendations that will come.

But what's important more than anything else is that the political parties within that country in Iraq to reconcile their differences, which is really becoming the steam behind the sectarian violence we're seeing.

The American military is there to continue to go after terrorists, to help them secure that country. We are welcoming all ideas to the table.

And one thing that's important now that Democrats are the majority party in the House and the Senate is they now are no longer the party of opposition. They are now a party with greater responsibility.

And it's a moment of testing for the Democrats to come forward with common-sense solutions to America's problems. And that will be the early test we'll see of the Democratic Party.

WALLACE: Mr. Bartlett, we're going to have to leave it there. Thank you so much for coming in and sharing part of your Sunday with us.

BARTLETT: You're welcome.

WALLACE: Coming up, our panel of Sunday regulars on the ouster of Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. Where do we go now in Iraq? Some answers when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUMSFELD: There are known unknowns. That is to say, we know there are some things we do not know, but there are also unknown unknowns, the ones we don't know we don't know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUMSFELD: You go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUMSFELD: I have benefited greatly from criticism, and at no time have I suffered a lack thereof.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: That was a sampling from the quotable Don Rumsfeld during his rise and fall as secretary of defense.

And it's panel time now for our Sunday gang, Brit Hume, Washington managing editor of Fox News, and Fox News contributors Mara Liasson of National Public Radio, Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard, and Juan Williams, also from National Public Radio.

Well, Don Rumsfeld is out. Bob Gates is in. Brit, how big a change do you expect in foreign policy with regard to Iraq?

BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS WASHINGTON MANAGING EDITOR: Well, I'm not sure we can expect very much change in policy. This resignation of Rumsfeld is, I think, almost entirely, purely political. And it probably had to happen, because of the extent that Rumsfeld had become associated with this unpopular cause and the need in the administration to stop the hemorrhage on that politically.

But it will -- and it may be -- it may prove necessary and useful to the president. But make no mistake about it, Chris, this will come at a high cost. Principally, it will come at the cost of the mission that Rumsfeld was first put at the Pentagon to carry out, and that is the transformation of the military. He got enormous resistance on this from the uniformed services, and some civilians as well in the Pentagon, and he pushed it through anyway. That was his mandate from the president, and he got a lot of it done.

My guess is that -- Bob Gates is a good guy. Rumsfeld was a giant. This side of the portfolio over there is likely to languish under Bob Gates, good guy though he is.

WALLACE: I want to talk about Rumsfeld and his legacy in a couple of minutes.

But, Mara, your feelings about how big a -- what a big difference or not this will make on policy, the combination of Gates coming in and replacing Rumsfeld and also this Iraq study group about to come out.

MARA LIASSON, NPR: Look, Gates is from the Iraq study group. I think this is about the Iraq study group everybody hoping will ride to their rescue, ride to Democrats' rescue. And certainly you don't want this festering after 2008, and then Republicans don't either.

I think that the transformation of the military might languish, as Brit said. But I think Gates' first and foremost assignment is to solve the problem in Iraq. And I think that's the big question for everybody right now.

And I think you heard Howard Dean just say -- even though he did say cut our losses, he also said no arbitrary deadlines. The Democrats are now envisioning that this -- troops can be drawn down substantially by the end of 2008, not necessarily sooner.

So I think what you're seeing now is this consensus slowly -- I think there's going to be a lot of bitter debate, but slowly starting to form about what happens next, and hopefully the Baker Commission is going to lead that.

WALLACE: Where are we headed in Iraq, Bill? And I should point out before I ask you that question that two weeks ago you flatly predicted that Don Rumsfeld would be out after the election. I don't think you said the next day, but still.

BILL KRISTOL, WEEKLY STANDARD: I don't think I expected the next day. Well, Bob Gates, as Mara says, will be secretary for Iraq more than secretary of defense. He can't do much to change the Pentagon in the remaining two years.

What he can do is put a fresh face on Iraq and insist on a new strategy for Iraq. And the fundamental choice he will face, which really means the fundamental choice the president will face, is do we cut our losses or do we try to win. It's that simple.

All the window dressing, the regional conferences, the diplomacy, the political stuff -- ultimately we send enough troops to try to win the war or we try to find a way to get out without doing too much damage. And I'm skeptical that we can get out without doing too much damage.

That is up to -- Bob Gates will execute that for the president, but that is the president's fundamental choice now.

WALLACE: Is that the fundamental choice? And if so, between the combination of the Iraq study group, the Democratic Congress and an apparently chastened president, what do you expect them to do?

JUAN WILLIAMS, NPR: I think they're going to redefine the terms of victory, very clearly, and they're going to say that it's not necessarily about bringing this neoconservative vision of democracy to Iraq. No longer is that on the table or in play.

I think that's why you're seeing this great anticipation of the Baker report. I think that's why Gates is in place. I think he gets the Baker report as opposed to Rumsfeld throwing it out the window as more nonsense.

I think Gates looks at it and says here is what's possible, here's what's practical, here's what we can do to protect the Iraqis, to allow them to determine their own fate while keeping terrorists out so it doesn't become a place where -- that festers with terrorists, and we can also then engage in sort of pragmatic or realpolitik diplomacy by having a possible regional conference with the likes of Syria and Iran.

WALLACE: Explain one thing to me about this, Brit, because this seems to be an idea that's gaining steam, the regional conference with Syria and Iran. Why would they help us get out of what seems to be a mess for us?

HUME: I don't think they would. And the regional conference idea is just cover or a method or a technique for allowing direct conversations with two countries that we don't talk to very directly or on a very high level.

My guess is if they wanted to help us in Iraq, they would. And if they don't want to help us with -- the price for their doing so would probably be unacceptable. I think it's not likely to go anywhere, but it's the only new idea out there that nobody thinks they've tried.

Let's be clear about one other thing, Chris, here, in the advent of Bob Gates and the emergence soon of the Baker-Hamilton report. The conventional wisdom in Washington, the buzz in Washington, is that Bush 41 and his gang are back in town.

A couple of facts. Neither Baker nor Bush 41 were consulted ahead of time -- was consulted ahead of time about the Gates appointment. President Bush the first got a phone call the morning of the Gates appointment giving him a heads up that it was about to happen. He had no foreknowledge of it.

That doesn't sound to me like an atmosphere in which the president is turning back to his father and through -- and to his father through advisers as well for advice here. The striking thing about the relationship between the first President Bush and the second is that for all the devotion between them, they don't discuss politics and political issues very much.

WALLACE: I want to get back. I want to leave time -- and let's talk about it now, about Don Rumsfeld, who was this extraordinary figure on the Washington scene for the last six years. We've had a lot of disagreements around this table about him. Brit was just saying that he was a giant.

Bill, you've been a critic. Was he a giant?

KRISTOL: Well, a tragic giant. I mean, I think he was a failure as defense secretary, though a very impressive man and a patriot. But I think he put everything -- he put transformation ahead of winning the war in Iraq, which was a mistake.

I'm not so keen on the whole transformation agenda in the first place. And the fundamental failure to increase the size of our military, to increase the ground troops, after 9/11, when it was evident that we would have challenges, it was evident that there was at least a possibility that Iraq would be difficult and challenges elsewhere -- his insistence on the light, swift -- you know, light footprint, high-tech military I think historians will say was a huge mistake.

And of course, the president -- Brit's absolutely right, the president had this vision, too. And it's easy for me to blame Rumsfeld. The buck stops in the White House. But the failure to increase the size of the military was a huge failure for a defense secretary in a post-9/11 world.

WILLIAMS: I think, though, you have to point some fingers at the White House, in all fairness. I think Rumsfeld's job was to transform the military. I think that was a -- it remains a goal. I think that people see the military as fat and slow and ready for the last war, not this war.

And when it comes to the idea of winning this war, I think he was told let's try to keep the size of that force limited. He was not helped in terms of planning for it after the initial victory. He did win the initial victory. He ousted Saddam Hussein.

It's what's happened afterwards, and there I think that a lot of people who you're pals with on the neocon side have a lot of responsibility to bear.

If you think about what Vice President Cheney's role has been in this, if you think about what the national security and the intelligence community has done, I think they have been -- they've been lost. They've abdicated a responsibility and put it on the military and on Don Rumsfeld unfairly.

HUME: Chris, I think that the Democrats investigating what happened in Iraq, as inevitably they will, will be searching for generals and other leading defense officials who were active at the time who will come before them and say well, we all wanted more troops, we should have had more troops, and Rumsfeld said no.

I think that search will prove in vain. I think that it will turn out that Abizaid and Casey and Tommy Franks and the commanders who were responsible for formulating the whole Iraq military plan and strategy will turn out to be the very people who got the strategy and the force levels that they asked for.

WALLACE: Mara, you get the last word on this.

LIASSON: Yeah. Look, I think Rumsfeld is an extremely complex character. I think he did make some tragic mistakes in Iraq and he's being held accountable for them.

But I do think what's interesting about this whole transformation of the military -- maybe that light footprint is what's needed in the distant future when maybe we are swooping in and attacking little terrorist cells here and there.

But if we are going to do this big kind of exporting democracy with military force and occupying countries, then I think, as Bill said, you need a different kind of military, much, much larger, and I think those two imperatives really clashed under his watch.

WALLACE: We have to take a break here. But coming up, we'll survey the new political landscape in Washington. What does it mean for Democrats in the final two years of the Bush presidency? Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WALLACE: On this day in 1954, Ellis Island closed its doors after processing more than 12 million immigrants since opening in New York Harbor in 1892. Forty percent of all Americans can trace their roots back here.

Stay tuned for our Power Player of the Week.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: We're going to work together to address those challenges in a constructive way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PELOSI: We've made history. Now we have to make progress.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: That was President Bush and House Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi pledging a new era of bipartisan cooperation in Washington.

And we're back now with Brit, Mara, Bill and Juan. Well, everyone was on their best behavior in the Oval Office this week -- the president, the vice president, Democratic leaders.

Mara, how long is it going to last?

LIASSON: Well, that's the big question. I think that there are very strong imperatives for both sides to actually try to work together. When you talk to Democrats privately, they say we really, really mean it, we really got the message, if we go too far to the left like they feel the Republicans overstepped, we're going to be punished and back in the minority. There are some areas where they can make some progress.

WALLACE: Such as?

LIASSON: On immigration, Iraq -- they all have an interest in getting this thing solved as fast as possible. Maybe the minimum wage.

But there are also -- that having been said, there are also very strong forces that are going to force them apart. For instance, the interests of Republicans on either end of Pennsylvania Avenue now diverge.

The president wants some accomplishments to leave behind when he leaves in two years. The Republicans in Congress want to set themselves up for 2008. And don't forget, the Republican Conference in the House just got a lot more conservative. Their moderates got defeated.

The center of political gravity now, I think, switches a bit to the other side of the aisle where you have this new crop of relatively more conservative Democrats.

I don't want to exaggerate and say all of a sudden the Democrats are a completely centrist party, but a lot of the new members from swing districts are more conservative. And if they want to maintain the majority, they've got to make sure those guys get reelected.

WALLACE: Brit, how much compromise and how much partisan clashing?

HUME: I think there's likely to be some compromise. The Democrats are in a different role now, as I think Governor Dean practically acknowledged. I mean, they're not just in opposition now. You act differently when you have authority.

The thing the Democrats may find now is -- and this has only happened once before that I know of, and it happened when Newt Gingrich became speaker of the House. And that was, in a sense, a bigger deal because it was the first time the Republicans had controlled that body in more than 40 years. It was a huge change.

Newt Gingrich got presidential-level media scrutiny, which he found not at all to his liking, very quickly. But he was treated as if he was like the prime minister of Washington.

Bill Clinton was pushed toward the sidelines, but no president wielding a veto pen with a sizable minority in Congress is ever irrelevant; to the contrary.

And what was set up was this titanic clash, and Gingrich was held plenty accountable for what went forward and so were the Republicans who were in charge.

So I don't know that that will attach to the Democrats. They traditionally get more forgiving coverage in the national media than the Republicans ever do or ever have.

But I suspect that the coverage will be fairly intense and Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid will be expected to deliver and behave like grown-ups and be for something. So we'll see.

WALLACE: Juan, let me ask you, because -- picking up on a point that Brit made, in a poll that's just out this weekend, two-thirds of Americans say they now regard President Bush as a lame duck who's not going to be able to get much done during the remainder of his term. Do you agree?

WILLIAMS: I think that's right. I mean, he's defeated, and I think it's in his interest -- he wants the Democrats, in a sense, to bail him out.

But going back to what Brit was talking about, if you look at how Republicans behaved toward the end of the Clinton years, you know, '99 and 2000, they blocked Clinton on everything from immigration to, you know, after Columbine, trying to put in some gun control.

They acted as obstructionists, and what they did was set the terms for the 2000 presidential election. And so here you have a moment where you need more oversight, and I think that you're going to have these committee chairs change, and you're going to need more oversight.

You're going to need a more aggressive posture toward the war in Iraq and say we're going to force you down this path. You're going to need aggression when it comes to dealing with taxes, which the president is going to resist.

I think that what you have to have here is a sense of, you know, we're trying to make progress, we're trying to get something done, but you can't have the Democrats suddenly say oh, we're going to, you know, be a mat and let the president walk all over us. That's ridiculous.

WALLACE: Bill, is President Bush a lame duck? And you know, we all remember that news conference -- I think it was in '95 -- when Bill Clinton had to get up before the White House press corps and say I'm still relevant here.

HUME: He was right.

WALLACE: Pardon?

HUME: He was right.

WALLACE: Well, but...

LIASSON: He had six years left.

WALLACE: But he did -- well, that's true. He did have six years left, not two years. So what does George W. Bush do?

KRISTOL: He cannot let himself be a lame duck. And I think this is more within his control than people realize. He can win legislative accomplishments, some on a bipartisan basis. He can get immigration reform through and he can actually work with the Democrats to increase the size of the military, to take just two things.

But he cannot -- it's just the country -- the world is too dangerous, and for the sake of the country and, for that matter, for the sake of his own party, he needs to be strong. He will have -- the Democratic Congress he can work with or work against. I'm not too worried about that.

If I were in the White House, actually, I think I'd have as many problems with Republicans in Congress as with Democrats. I've been shocked in the last couple of days, talking to Republican members, at the degree to which they think hey, we got a majority in '94, we held it for a long time, President Bush brought us down.

And there's not a lot of loyalty to him at this point, and I think that's unfortunate, because I think if Republicans think they can separate themselves from George W. Bush in the last two years of his administration, they're crazy.

If Bush has a miserable last two years, the Republican Party is in deep, deep trouble. If Bush has a strong last two years, then they have a pretty good chance in 2008.

WALLACE: Mara, let's look at it from the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, the challenge for Democrats, because they keep talking -- and we heard Howard Dean today pretty much talking about governing from the center.

But take a look at the list of liberal lions who will be running some of the committees up on Capitol Hill -- Charlie Rangel, who's going to be in charge of the tax-running Ways and Means Committee; John Conyers, House Judiciary; and Henry Waxman, Government Reform, which is the big oversight committee which can issue subpoenas and launch investigations.

Mara, will Nancy Pelosi want to, will Nancy Pelosi be able to, keep them under control? LIASSON: Well, I say -- my prediction so far is probably. She's already put the kibosh on the idea of John Conyers impeaching the president. She's laid down that marker.

In terms of those other two faces you just put up on the screen, Henry Waxman is going to do investigations. That's not necessarily passing legislation. And in terms of Charlie Rangel, I mean, the Democrats campaigned on middle class tax cuts throughout this whole season.

Now, I don't think they want to make the Bush tax cuts permanent, but I think there is some room for compromise there. I think she seems absolutely determined to not let things get out of control and not let her left wing set the tone.

WALLACE: But you know, Brit, she's going to be under a lot of pressure. There are even stories in the paper today that the ACLU and MoveOn.org -- I mean, they're saying we carried a lot of water for the Democratic Party over the last few years, we want some spoils of victory; namely, legislation.

HUME: Well, they'll get them in the form of the investigations, in part. Henry Waxman, in my opinion, will prove to be beyond the control of Nancy Pelosi, because, you know, he has an enormous jurisdiction in Government Reform.

He's a very smart guy. He knows about investigating. He's got staff members over there salivating to issue the subpoenas. He will hold a lot of hearings. There's very great likelihood that they will be rancorous.

So I would say to you that the chances of this atmosphere of bipartisan cooperation not being stained by a lot of messy, noisy investigations on the Hill is extremely remote.

I think Nancy Pelosi's intentions are sensible, but it is not that easy when you have, as you point out, Chris, important elements of the Democratic base screaming for something to show for the efforts that they've made.

That's where I think they'll see it the most, because, remember, you can't do it with just legislation. The president has the power to veto and sustain vetoes on anything really major.

Now, they'll try to slip things into appropriations bills, and they'll try to do it one way or the other. But my guess is that the returns on stuff unacceptable to the president will be pretty meager.

WILLIAMS: Well, the conservative base, too -- the conservative base that turned out but didn't vote Republican has some expectations, and I think Democrats should say end of culture of corruption, we're going to do a better job here.

WALLACE: All right. We're going to -- on that note, we're going to agree and we're going to end it. Thank you, panel. See you all next week.

For more visit the FOX News Sunday web page.

Email Friend | Print | RSS | Add to Del.icio.us | Add to Digg
Sponsored Links