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

Send to a Friend | Print Article

Special Report Roundtable - January 30

FOX News Special Report With Brit Hume


DICK CHENEY, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: This is an existential conflict. It is the kind of conflict that's going to drive our policy in our government for the next 20 or 30 or 40 years. We have to prevail and we have to have the, excuse me, the stomach for the fight long-term.


HUME: So, what does Vice President Cheney he means when he says it's an existential threat -- a threat, he means, to the existence of the United States? And of course, he's talking up the threat from Islamic terrorism, or Islamofascist terrorism, as some have called it. That argument on the administration's part has never been seriously challenged on Capitol Hill or by many war critics. But now, in the pages of the Los Angeles Times, comes a piece by Johns Hopkins -- that's today's edition of the paper, this is from two days ago, on Sunday, when one, David Bell, a history professor from Johns Hopkins University wrote a piece, basically asking the question: was 9/11 really was that bad? Meaning, yes it was a terribly hideous terrorist attack, an atrocity, to be sure, but did it really and does any likely future attack from the same type of people really threaten the existence of the United States? Is it indeed an existential threat? He argues that judged in historical terms against past wars and past threats it doesn't measure up. It's a serious argument.

Some thoughts on it now from Fred Barnes, the executive editor of the Weekly Standard; Mort Kondracke, executive editor of Roll Call; and Mara Liasson, national political correspondent of National Public Radio -- FOX NEWS contributors all. Well, what about it?

MORT KONDRACKE, ROLL CALL: David Bell acknowledges that these people are hate filled fanatic to would like nothing better than to destroy our country, but he says that they lack the capacity. Well one, if they got a hold of Iraq or Saudi Arabia they would have oil wealth and they could buy any weapon that they chose. Secondly, if they -- Pakistan is about one bullet away from supplying as Islamic fundamentalists with a fully blown nuclear arsenal, Pakistan has, and Iran is working on that.

HUME: You say "one bullet away," you mean the murder of...

KONDRACKE: Murder of Musharraf, yeah.

Who delivered Pakistan into the hands of extremists, who would...

KONDRACKE: Could -- he could, and then we have an existential threat and our allies...

HUME: But the argument is made -- that argument suggests that they could become an existential threat, but they're not now.

KONDRACKE: Well, but you want to fight threats in advance, you know, you don't want to wait until they develop.

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: You know, I thought this was an interesting article. First of all, I agree with Mort. They are definitely a potential existential threat, certainly to Israel if not to us right away. But, I don't think he's saying we shouldn't take this seriously or it's not a big deal. What he's saying...

HUME: No, I'm not saying he's saying that. I'm trying to get at his argument that it really isn't that bad.

LIASSON: Well, I don't know if he's -- he phrased the question are we overreacting?

HUME: Yes.

LIASSON: And that I think is what's interesting. Maybe we're miss- reacting, I think what he's suggesting is that there might have been different ways to fight this threat than -- it's implied in his article that there might have been different ways...

HUME: But the core of the argument is we may be overreacting to the threat because it's not as serious as we've made it out to be...

LIASSON: I think that's the rhetoric -- some of the rhetoric -- to say it's an existential conflict, maybe the American people aren't buying that form the distraction, maybe that's one of the...

HUME: I know, but I'm talking about what he's saying. I mean, we can speculate all we want about what the American people may think about this. That argument has gone largely unchallenged, by the way, I mean, you don't here anybody saying...

LIASSON: No, but when he lays out the proportion of people killed versus the proportion of people killed in conflicts that were existential, he makes a valid point.

FRED BARNES, WEEKLY STANDARD: That's irrelevant, though. I mean, one nuclear weapon and you kill a lot more people than were killed in all those wars.

Look, this is an example of the polio fallacy. And that is that people don't get the vaccine anymore because, or a lot of people don't, because they say "well gee, nobody gets polio anymore. What do I need it for?" Well here we haven't had another serious terrorist attack, so people start saying, "well gee, maybe the threat's not that great. We don't have to do all these things like the Patriot Act and have eavesdropping and so on through wiretapping and things like that." I think this is an example of that.

But, both Mort and Mara are correct. There -- I mean, weapons of mass destruction, they exist, they're easily accessible. Saddam Hussein -- one reason we attacked Iraq and opposed him was because he had -- had them and might give them to terrorists.

LIASSON: Or so we thought.

BARNES: And he did...

HUME: Well we had had them.

BARNES: We know he had them, he used them in the past. So, I don't think it's been an overreaction. It's been a successful reaction and that's why people start to think, well maybe the threat's not that great.

KONDRACKE: You know, there were something like 2,400 Americans killed at Pearl Harbor and we took it seriously as an existential threat and we lost millions of soldiers in battle. Now, the question is whether this World War IV...

HUME: You mean as an alliance we lost millions.

KONDRACKE: Yeah. We -- we, the United States, lost several million troops...

HUME: No, no, no.

BARNES: No, we didn't that many.

HUME: Four-hundred thousand.

KONDRACKE: Four-hundred thousand, you're right. You're right. But, in any event...

HUME: A lot of people.

KONDRACKE: We lost of people...

HUME: A lot more than 9/11.

KONDRACKE: And we fought a world war. The point I'm trying to make is this could be World War II, hope not. Hope it's more like the Cold War where the number of casualties, overall, was relatively less, but we won with strategy, we won with allies, we won with economic power, we won with...

HUME: And we won with fighting in some places.


KONDRACKE: Fighting, in some places, but with military strength as well, to deter aggression. That's what we need to do.

HUME: And of course the argument is made that unlike dealing with Russia or other nation states, we're not dealing with people who can be easily deterred.

LIASSON: No, much harder. Although, I think the argument that this is more like the Cold War is valid. The Cold War was fought over a very long time, it was fought on many fronts. You know, this guy talks about that we need coolness, resolve, and stamina to fight this battle. And, you know, I think that's valid.

HUME: When we come back, there's been a lot of talk about Mitt Romney and other Republican Candidates, conservative credentials. The all-stars will weight in after the break on who's really got them. Stay tuned.



JEB BUSH (R), FMR Florida GOVERNOR: It's important for us to realize that we lost and there were significant reasons why that happened, but it isn't' because conservatives were rejected, it's because we rejected the conservative philosophy in this country. And we should recognize that.



HUME: Well, there's Jeb Bush getting a round of applause at a conservative conference here in Washington this past weekend. As some people said, who were there, that perhaps he got the best reception of any of the speakers. There were a couple of presidential candidates there, Mitt Romney was there, Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, who just got in, was there. But Mara, you were there. What about this? And what -- what -- I mean, looking at how the -- the field of candidates is doing, what could you tell from this conference.

LIASSON: Well, first of all, the guy who got the biggest reception was Jeb Bush, and he's not a candidate. I think that tells you something. Conservatives have not really fallen hard for any of these guys.

Mitt Romney got a -- I would say, a warm, but not wildly enthusiastic reception. He didn't give the kind of speech that Jeb Bush gave where he really confronted the problems of Republicans and he didn't mince words.

You know, the next day, Mike Huckabee came, he's a dark horse. I think that conservatives are really up for grabs, the three -- none of the three leading candidates really has a bond with the conservative base of the party -- Giuliani, McCain, and Romney. And I think that that's -- you know, this is a base that's to be courted. I mean, nobody has them sewn up and I think there's going to be a real battle for them. But I think a lot of them wish that Jeb Bush was running.

KONDRACKE: Well, if Jeb Bush's name were anything else but Bush he probably would be a candidate...

LIASSON: Right, if his name was Smith he's be in Iowa...

HUME: Because he leaves office with this very high approval rating in Florida.

LIASSON: Sixty percent.

HUME: Huge approval rating.

KONDRACKE: And he's a tax cutter and a budget cutter...

LIASSON: And an idea person.

HUME: He's also -- he was regarded, before George W., sort of, past him in the presidential sweepstakes as the most likely member of that Bush generation to be a presidential candidate.

LIASSON: No doubt about it.

KONDRACKE: He lost a race for governor, unexpectedly to Lawton Chiles and George Bush won in Texas.

HUME: Unexpectedly over Ann Richards, in many eyes.

KONDRACKE: Yeah, right. No, Jeb blamed congress for losing its way and he sort of neglected to mention that his brother never vetoed a single bill, pork bill or a program bill, and he didn't mention the biggest factor that was involved in the 2006 election and that was Iraq, he didn't criticize that, he put his brother to one side. So, there were things there that he omitted.

In any event, look, the conservatives are not going to have their perfect candidate. There is not perfect candidate for them. Every single one of the candidates has something wrong with at least some part of the conservative movement.

BARNES: Except for Jeb and he's not a candidate. I mean, Jeb is a small government conservative, unlike his brother. He's a tax cutter, he's an innovator with things like school choice and reform of Medicaid. He's the one governor in the country who knows how to handle emergencies, does it better than anybody else...

HUME: At least evacuations, for sure.

BARNES: And he was the best governor in the country and is a very likable guy. He's a perfect candidate, but his name's Bush, this isn't the time for him.

Conservatives -- the candidate, who's done the best among conservatives, I think, is Mitt Romney, so far, but, you know, the blistering attack on him by Richard Lowry, the editor of National Review, which actually have that summit was quite amazing. You know, said in 50 minutes he didn't mention Iraq. He said his story, how he was converted to become a pro-lifer on abortion and so on, a couple of years ago, he said most people just won't believe it. And I think -- I think that's going to be a problem. Social issues are going to be a problem for a while.

HUME: Is Rich that powerful? Is his magazine that powerful?

BARNES: Well, he's the editor of the magazine who sponsored the thing. He is a conservative you do not want writing things like your speech was bizarre, wrong, almost offensive. He -- it means -- if Rich Lawry's writing that, I think he's representative of a lot of conservatives who are not ready to jump on the bandwagon for Mitt Romney, that's for sure.

LIASSON: Yeah, these conservatives can't bring votes, but they create buzz, and that hurts.

HUME: And we'll keep a close eye on Rich who's a contributor here at FOX NEWS and find out what he's thinking.

For more visit the FOX News Special Report web page.

Email Friend | Print | RSS | Add to | Add to Digg
Sponsored Links