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Carl Levin, Newt Gingrich, Roundtable

Fox News Sunday

CHRIS WALLACE, HOST: I'm Chris Wallace. Congressional Democrats vow to keep pushing the president to change course in Iraq, next on "Fox News Sunday".

Congress and the president head for a constitutional clash over the power to wage war. What do votes against Mr. Bush's Iraq policy mean for troops on the ground and politics here at home? We'll talk with a top Senate Democrat, Carl Levin, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.

Also, where do we stand in the war on terror against the so- called axis of evil?


PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: North Korea, Iraq, Iran.


WALLACE: We'll ask our band of Sunday regulars, Brit Hume, Mara Liasson, Bill Kristol and Juan Williams.

And our Power Player of the Week is an NBA all-star turning a perennial loser into a big winner, all right now on "Fox News Sunday".

And good morning again from Fox News in Washington. In the past couple of days, Congress took historic steps to oppose President Bush's plan to send more troops to Iraq. The House voted against the surge on Friday, but yesterday in the Senate Republicans defeated Democratic efforts to debate the anti-surge resolution.

For the latest from Capitol Hill, here's Fox News congressional correspondent Major Garrett.


MAJOR GARRETT, FOX NEWS: Well, Chris, after a rare Saturday session, the Senate found itself stuck again in procedural gridlock, unable, unwilling to overcome bitter partisan differences and get to a debate and vote on the president's Iraq troop surge.


GARRETT: Democrats wanted a vote on the House-passed non-binding resolution that opposes sending at least 20,000 additional U.S. combat forces to Iraq.


SEN. EDWARD M. KENNEDY, D-MASS.: We on this side are interested in protecting American servicemen from the crossfire of a civil war. Some on the other side are more interested in protecting the president from a rebuke.


GARRETT: Democrats need 60 votes to prevail. They got 56. Democrats called that a test vote on the troop surge. Seven Republicans joined the Democrats, who vowed future confrontations with Bush on Iraq.


SEN. CHARLES E. SCHUMER, D-N.Y.: We will be relentless. There will be resolution after resolution, amendment after amendment, all forcing this body to do what it has not done in the previous three years.


GARRETT: Republicans demanded, as they have throughout, a debate and vote on continuing Iraq war funding.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, R-KY.: You cannot say you are registering a vote in favor of our troops unless you pledge to support them with the funds they need.


GARRETT: After the vote, Republicans accused Democrats of ducking a vote on war funding because it would pass with more than 70 votes and thereby divide Democrats more than the surge divides Republicans.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-S.C.: If you did have this vote, the left, the radical left, would eat every Democratic hopeful for president alive.



GARRETT: Four Senate Democrats running for the White House interrupted campaign plans to vote on Saturday. Arizona's John McCain, a Republican candidate for the White House, skipped the vote, campaigning in Iowa after branding the non-binding resolution meaningless.


WALLACE: Major, thanks for that. For more on Congress and the Iraq war, we're joined now by the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Democrat Carl Levin, who comes to us from his home state of Michigan.

Senator, now that the House has passed the anti-surge resolution and the Senate has not, what's next? Will the Democrats in control of Congress move now to binding measures that would restrict the president?

SEN. CARL LEVIN (D), MICHIGAN: Well, we assume that we'll be thwarted in that by a filibuster, too. But if we can't get a non-binding statement passed because of the Republican filibuster, it may be more difficult even to get a binding resolution passed.

But we're going to continue to try, because we are determined that we're going to change course in Iraq and that the president's current position of deepening our military involvement by sending 21,000-plus troops into Iraq is a mistake.

It's just going to plunge us in deeper into a civil war. This is not a surge. This is a plunge which we're talking about into the unknown and into maybe the unknowable by putting 21,000 American troops into the neighborhoods of Baghdad.

WALLACE: Senator, there are several ideas out there about how to change course -- either cut off funding -- Congressman Murtha, as you know, has come up with the idea of setting benchmarks for how troops that could be sent over that he knows the Pentagon can't meet.

Senator Biden is talking about repealing the 2002 authorization to go to war. What approach do you favor?

LEVIN: Well, hopefully, we can come up with a bipartisan approach. We got seven Republicans who voted with us yesterday. We hope to pick up at least that many and maybe a few more.

I think probably the best approach would be to modify the authorization to the president to go to war in Iraq. That was a wide- open authorization which allowed him to do just about anything and put us now deep into combat in Iraq, and now into the neighborhoods of Baghdad.

We, I think, will be looking at a modification of that authorization in order to limit the mission of American troops to a support mission instead of a combat mission, and that is very different from cutting off funds.

I don't think there's support to cut off funds. I think that sends the wrong message to our troops. We're going to support our troops. And one way to support them is to find a way out of Iraq earlier rather than later.

WALLACE: So you're saying that the idea would be to restate what the authorization Congress gave the president is and to say that it doesn't include combat? I'm not quite sure what you're saying this modified authorization would do. LEVIN: Right. The authorization, which the Congress voted for by about -- in the Senate, about 75-25 -- I voted against it, but that's not the point. We're there now. That authorization is out there.

It's wide open, telling the president he can go to Iraq and basically carry out any mission that he wants to.

One thought is that we should limit the mission to a support mission - - in other words, an antiterrorist mission to go after Al Qaida in Iraq, to support and train the Iraqi army, to protect our own diplomatic personnel and other personnel in Iraq, rather than this unlimited mission which was described in the authorization for the use of force.

We think that that would be constitutional, and it also would move us toward the end of our presence in Iraq. By the way, the prime minister of Iraq did not ask for more troops. He does not want American troops in Baghdad. He did not ask us to come into Baghdad.

WALLACE: Senator, it seems clear that at some point down the road here that Congress is headed for a constitutional clash with the president over war powers.

Now, it's clear and there is precedent that Congress can just cut off the funds, but short of that, what powers do you think the Congress has, constitutionally, to restrict the president -- the commander in chief's powers to wage war?

LEVIN: Well, we authorized him going to Iraq and we can modify that authorization so it's not this unlimited authority to the president to use our troops in combat in the middle of Baghdad.

We can have a much more limited mission that we authorize. We can modify the authorization in order to provide a much more limited mission which will remove our troops from the middle of a sectarian civil war.

Right now we are putting our troops into the middle of a civil war. And it seems to me that is the worst place for American troops. Four years later, we should be moving out of Baghdad, not into Baghdad.

We ought to listen to the prime minister of Iraq who says he does not want American troops in Baghdad.

WALLACE: Senator, while Congress debates, more U.S. troops have, as you know, already moved into Baghdad, and here's what White House spokesman Tony Snow had to say about all that this week. Take a look.


WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY TONY SNOW: Members of Congress have taken their own gamble here. They're gambling on failure, and -- some members, at least.


WALLACE: Senator, aren't some Democrats in effect gambling that the surge will fail? And won't you end up looking foolish if it should actually succeed?

LEVIN: Well, the course that the president is on is a failing course. It's been failing for four years. We're trying to change that course to one which has the maximum chance of success.

And the maximum chance of success is to limit our mission, to get us out of the middle of a sectarian civil war. So it's the president's course which is a course toward failure.

Interestingly enough, while we're being criticized at the White House for having this debate, Condi Rice over in Baghdad was using the fact that Congress is moving towards restricting the presence of American troops in her effort to put pressure on the Iraqi leaders to tell them yesterday in Baghdad hey, folks, you better get your political act together, because look, Congress is about to restrict in a number of possible ways the president in terms of American presence in Iraq.

It's interesting that finally they understand the power of what we are doing in the Congress.

WALLACE: But, Senator -- and let's talk about the situation on the ground in Iraq. There have been some terrible car bombings today. As we went on the air this morning, 28 people were dead.

But there has been some hopeful news since the crackdown started. Muqtada al-Sadr has gone to ground. Some of the Mahdi army has gone to ground. The U.S. and Iraqi troops are meeting little resistance as they make a sweep. Isn't it possible that this could work?

LEVIN: It's possible that you could have a quieter Baghdad. It's possible if the Mahdi army goes underground, but they'll take their weapons underground. We're not going to take their weapons away from them, apparently. They're just going to wait for a different opportunity and move to other parts of Iraq.

So anything's possible. There's risk in whatever you do in Iraq, obviously. But the current course is a proven failure.

We've got to shift the responsibility to the Iraqi leaders to take control, and the only way to do that is not to tell them we're going to save them from themselves, or at least try to, with additional American troops that are just targets for whoever shoots at them.

But rather, we're going to force them to take responsibility by beginning to remove those troops out of Baghdad and then out of Iraq. That's the better way, we believe, to achieve success in Iraq.

But there's no guarantee either way. The difference is the president's path is a proven path towards failure -- more and more reliance on military action. WALLACE: Senator, do you see no political danger here for Democrats that you could end up being seen as weak on national security as your party was for years after Vietnam?

LEVIN: I don't think the politics of this is in the minds or should be in the minds of Democrats or Republicans. I think this is a matter of war. This is a matter of the security of this country.

We are duty-bound, I believe, to give our best assessment as to how to maximize the chances, to the extent they exist, of success in Iraq. That is, I believe, almost a sacred responsibility because we've got men and women who are in harm's way.

We ought to put aside politics. Seven Republicans did yesterday and voted the way that I think is absolutely essential, which is to tell the president don't rely more on military power. We've got to force the Iraqis to work out political settlements among themselves.

WALLACE: Senator, we have a couple of minutes left and I want to turn to one other subject, which is North Korea. A deal was announced this week in which they agreed to shut down their nuclear reactor in return for tons of heavy fuel.

Now, there had been a lot of criticism from Democrats about the idea that there should be unilateral talks between the U.S. and North Korea, that it was a waste to go through these six-party talks.

Doesn't this deal show that the president's idea of engaging the neighborhood, especially China, which is the main sponsor of North Korea -- that that idea of diplomacy actually ended up working?

LEVIN: Well, actually, what happened here is the president finally engaged in some bilateral talks with North Korea. They were on the side, but there were bilateral talks. Chris Hill had those talks.

The president took two steps backward when he took office. He decided to cut discussions with North Korea. He called them an evil empire. He said that because Bill Clinton had moved this ball a certain distance, that he was going to do something totally different.

If Bill Clinton did it this way, Bush had to do it the opposite way. Now we're basically where Bill Clinton was when he left office, which is, as far as I'm concerned, good. We took two steps forward in the last week or two. We had taken two steps backward when the president came to office.

We're about back where we started, but there's a long way to go. We don't know about the uranium. We haven't got a commitment on that secret program yet. They have nuclear weapons. What are they going to do with those nuclear weapons?

All those things are left to be negotiated. But I'm glad we're at least back on track. It's long overdue.

WALLACE: But isn't there a big difference between the Clinton diplomacy and the Bush diplomacy, because now you have China, the main sponsor of North Korea, fully engaged?

LEVIN: China was engaged before.

WALLACE: It was?

LEVIN: Sure.

WALLACE: Well...

LEVIN: China supported some of the Clinton initiatives.

WALLACE: ... that was a bilateral conversation. This is a deal that North Korea has made with China as well as the United States, Senator.

LEVIN: There were bilateral and multilateral talks with Clinton. It wasn't just bilateral. There were multiparty, six-party talks with Clinton. There also were bilateral talks.

Finally, President Bush has gone back to where Clinton was, which is have both multilateral talks and bilateral talks, for a number of reasons. Number one, it's much more direct, much more productive, but, number two, our allies. And the Chinese want us to have these bilateral talks.

WALLACE: Senator Levin, we want to thank you so much for coming in today, sharing part of your Sunday with us and answering our questions, sir.

LEVIN: Good to be with you, Chris.

WALLACE: Up next, we'll hear from former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich about Iraq, the Democrats, and why he's doing so well in the presidential polls when he's not even running.

We'll be right back.


WALLACE: Joining us now, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.

And, Mr. Speaker, welcome back to "Fox News Sunday".


WALLACE: You say that this effort by Democrats to oppose the president's Iraq policy is, quote, "destructive and irresponsible". What effect do you think it will have on our efforts in Iraq and also on Democratic political fortunes here at home?

GINGRICH: Well, if you read what Congressman Murtha has said, that this week is the beginning, but they're now going to have a series of ways of trying to control spending, trying to micromanage what troop flow is -- I mean, they're talking about a whole series of steps over the next six months.

I think that has to be very weakening for America, because if you are -- I mean, people around the world are smart nowadays. They all watch and know what's going on.

And if you are either our ally or our enemy, you're watching the U.S. Congress begin the process of systematically undermining American foreign policy.

Now, there are a lot of sound arguments, and I'm not saying that you shouldn't be allowed to argue in a free society, but this is not a cost- free exercise.

WALLACE: But to be fair, Mr. Speaker, you have also been a critic of the president's new policy. You have called it inadequate, an unsustainable middle ground. And I want to put up what you said to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Here it is. "If Iraq matters as much as the president says it does, then the United States must not design and rely on a strategy which relies on the Iraqis to win. On the other hand, if the war is so unimportant that the fate of Iraq can be allowed to rest with the efforts of a new, weak, untested and inexperienced government, then why are we risking American lives?"

So question is if the president isn't pursuing a plan for victory, and you seem to say he isn't at this point, aren't Democrats perfectly entitled to say we shouldn't be sending more troops after the ones that are already there?

GINGRICH: There's a different -- look, I can offer advice. The Senate can offer advice. Any American can offer advice. There's a difference between offering advice, which I think we should do, and legislating.

Senator Clinton said in New Hampshire the other day that if there was a Democratic president, we'd be out of the war. Well, there's a democratic Congress. If they want to come in and say we're cutting off all funding, the president has 60 days to leave Iraq, we are prepared to take responsibility, and we are rendering our judgment, that's one thing.

That's not what they're doing. They want what I think is the worst of all worlds. They want the ability to undermine the president, the ability to cripple the Defense Department, while disclaiming any responsibility.

Now, I think this strategy that Murtha and Pelosi have been very open about -- in the Senate, it's not as open, but in the House, they've been very open that they intend to gradually grind down our ability to be effective in Iraq day by day, week by week, amendment by amendment. I think that is a very destructive approach to things.

WALLACE: You, I don't have to say, were the speaker of the House. You also were a student and a scholar of the Constitution. What powers do you think Congress has when it comes to waging war?

How much power does it have, aside from just cutting off funding, to micromanage, as they're talking about now, or, as Senator Levin suggested, the idea of reauthorizing and limiting what the mission of our troops is -- how much power do they have to limit the commander in chief?

GINGRICH: I think they technically have some real power, although you have to pass a bill, override a veto. I mean, it's a very complicated process.

You know, the Marine Corps hymn starts with "from the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli". Jefferson sent the U.S. Marines and the U.S. Navy to Tripoli, attacking Barbary pirates who had been capturing Americans, without notifying Congress.

Now, Jefferson had some knowledge of the Constitution and did not believe in a particularly large government, but he thought the president in foreign policy had to be able to act, not just to get involved in a debating society.

This was a lesson the founding fathers learned fighting the Revolutionary War for eight long years. The Continental Congress could authorize in general, but it couldn't manage the war.

Now, here you have -- and this is why -- even with the Congress. If they want to take responsibility -- I mean, if Senator Clinton and her friends want to say we think this is so bad, we're cutting off the money, that is their constitutional prerogative. But as long as the president has the duty and burden as commander in chief of trying to win the war, crippling him, it seems to me, doesn't just hurt George W. Bush. This hurts America.

And I think we have to be very clear about what we're doing in foreign policy. In the middle of very controversial impeachment process, President Clinton and I worked closely together on Saddam Hussein, on Operation Fox, which was a bombing campaign.

I consistently was supportive of what the president was doing in Bosnia and elsewhere, because I felt that when you got -- I'm an Army brat. I grew up in a world where, you know, politics ended up at the water's edge and overseas we had to try to find ways to be Americans and to work together.

WALLACE: Let's turn to North Korea. You heard Senator Levin just say that he doesn't think there's any difference between the deal that the president got this week and the deal that Bill Clinton had in 1994, and this is a deal that George W. Bush could have had back when he had in office. Your reaction.

GINGRICH: Well, I think that, frankly, Senator Levin just explained what's wrong with the deal. The deal we got in 1994 didn't work. They lied to us. They were consistently trying to get nuclear weapons. They totally misled everybody who was a signatory in 1994. I suspect they're lying to us now.

I thought it was very revealing -- the North Korean news agency said - - this was their statement, "We are temporarily suspending nuclear production." Now, that's their statement. And I think there's a lot to that.

What they're saying, basically, is we will pretend to stop, you will give us a lot of oil and you will bail our economy out, you'll prop up the dictatorship, Condi Rice, the secretary of state, will meet with the North Korean foreign minister and legitimize the regime, and then a year from now, we'll decide what we want to do.

And if you read what the International Atomic Energy Agency had said, it was very similar.

WALLACE: So you agree with conservatives like John Bolton who thinks that this was a mistake that, in effect, is rewarding North Korea for bad behavior.

GINGRICH: I think the signal this sends to Iran is ignore the Americans, ignore the sanctions, get your nuclear weapons, and then cut a deal later because in the end, the democracies are going to cave.

WALLACE: And you think that's what they've done in the case of North Korea?

GINGRICH: Unless something dramatically changes, I see no evidence right now that they're going to give up their weapons, no evidence they're going to actually close their facilities, and no evidence that they're going to allow the kind of inspection regime to find out is there a totally different facility that they haven't told us about.

WALLACE: Let's turn to 2008. You have said that you're not even going to think about running for president until after Labor Day.

But take a look at our latest Fox News/Opinion Dynamics Republican horse race poll. It has you running third, ahead of Mitt Romney, even though you're doing nothing yet to build a campaign.

What does that tell you about what Republican voters are looking for?

GINGRICH: Well, Rick Tyler said to me the other day -- my press secretary said, you know, we need to keep not doing whatever we're not doing, because it seems to be working.

So I want to start and say I think there may be a market out there for somebody who has enough sense not to run two years early, that if you think about it, these candidates are running for an entire year -- to get into a campaign to run for an entire year to get sworn in in January of 2009.

And I just think the average -- this is going to be like watching bad reruns of Survivor. People are going to say get them off the island, I don't want to see this anymore. You watch. Mark my word.

I'll come back this summer at some point, if you'll have me, and we'll talk about how bored people are with this campaign.

WALLACE: On the other hand, the latest Fox News poll also has some bad news for you.


WALLACE: And let's put that up. We asked people who under no circumstances would they vote for, and you came in second on that dubious list at 64 percent, behind Ralph Nader, but far ahead of everyone else. And I should add 44 percent of Republicans said they would not vote for you.

Why do you think that so many voters say Newt Gingrich, forget it?

GINGRICH: Well, there was a column written by Brent Bozell recently about Nancy Pelosi becoming speaker and me becoming speaker. And he contrasted the initial media coverage of the two of us.

And if you go back and look -- you know, I had a -- Time magazine savaged me as Scrooge who stole Tiny Tim's broken crutch -- didn't just steal the crutch; I broke it, on the cover of Time. Newsweek had me as the Grinch that stole Christmas. I was a Dr. Seuss figure.

Then the Democrats -- I think correctly, strategically -- decided to run 121,000 ads in '95 and '96 attacking me. We adopted a totally different strategy. We thought that instead of defending me, we would defend the majority. And as a result, in 1996 we became the first reelected majority since 1928 for Republicans.

In that process, I was badly damaged. I made some mistakes as speaker. And I think the combination of all of that left me, you know, with a fairly high negative.

Now, you know, one could argue that says I'm being very wise not to run. Or it could mean that over time, as people get to see what we've done at the Center for Health Transformation, what I've done in national security, what we're doing -- we have a book coming out this fall called Contract With the Earth. It's a conservative entrepreneurial science and technology environmentalism.

You know, people may decide that, in fact, they want to take a second look. I'm pretty comfortable relaxing and letting the American people decide, not me.

WALLACE: You're a pretty smart political observer. Do you think those kinds of high negatives, 64 percent, under no circumstances -- do you think that's irreparable or not?

GINGRICH: Oh, I think historically it's not -- nothing in America is irreparable. This is a country where second, third and fourth chances seem a permanent part of our culture.

WALLACE: And we're all grateful for that.

GINGRICH: Exactly right.

WALLACE: Mr. Speaker, thank you. Thanks for coming in.

GINGRICH: Thank you.

WALLACE: Please come back, sir.

Up next, Congress and the war in Iraq. Are Democrats trying to stop a failed policy or putting U.S. troops into even greater danger? Our Sunday gang tackles that in a debate you won't want to miss when we come back.



REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-CALIF.: This legislation will signal a change in direction in Iraq that will end the fighting and bring our troops home.



REP. PETER T. KING, R-N.Y.: Never before in our history has Congress attempted to control or restrict battlefield decisions.


WALLACE: That was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Congressman Pete King in the House debate this week about a resolution opposing the president's troop surge in Iraq.

And it's time now for our Sunday regulars, 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.

So where do we stand now, Brit, in the battle between Congress and the president about the way forward in Iraq?

BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS WASHINGTON MANAGING EDITOR: Well, the first thing that should be said is both of those sound bites you played are a little overblown. The idea that a non- binding resolution expressing disapproval which is blocked in the Senate is going to signal the end of the war seems to me to be ridiculous.

And Pete King saying that by passing such a thing the Congress is trying to substitute its military judgment and control over the troops in the field seems to me equally far-fetched.

I mean, the truth is that this is a non-binding resolution. While it has political significance in that it indicates a lack of support for what the president is trying to do, it doesn't really have any military significance, and it doesn't have any legislative significance. So nothing much has really changed here.

WALLACE: But, Mara, we are headed down a path here, aren't we?

MARA LIASSON, NPR: Yes. I think something has changed. First of all, you can say now that a bipartisan majority is on record as opposing the president's policy.

In the House, there were actually less Republicans than people had thought. They only got 17 instead of the 40 to 60 that Democrats and Republicans were both predicting.

In the Senate, however, five more Republicans joined with the Democrats on the procedural vote, so they got a total of seven. Maybe that suggests they're on their way to 60 slowly.

But the other thing that happened this week, I think, starting with the president in his news conference, is that Republicans seemed to be very eager to go to the next step, which is the debate about funding.

There is going to be an actual binding piece of legislation soon when the president asks for supplemental funding for the war, and the Democrats are split on that.

Republicans think that's a much better place for them to be politically. They're on much firmer ground. They can accuse the Democrats of being against the troops.

You heard Senator Levin say earlier there is not support for cutting funds. Now, there is support, actually, in the Democratic Party, but I guess he judges it not to be majority support. And that's where we're headed next.

WALLACE: Bill, Democratic Congressman John Murtha, as we all know, has been leading the fight on the Democratic side to limit -- find some way to limit the president's policy in Iraq, and this week he told an antiwar group what he thinks would happen if, in fact, U.S. troops were pulled out of Iraq. Let's watch.


REP. JOHN P. MURTHA, D-PA.: People tend to say well, if we leave, there's going to be chaos. I don't believe that. Seventy- eight percent of the Iraqis say that's not going to happen. Seventy- eight percent of the Iraqis say it will be -- we're the ones that are causing this, and Al Qaida is going to be -- Al Qaida's going to disappear.


WALLACE: I take it, Bill, you do not share Congressman Murtha's world view?

BILL KRISTOL, WEEKLY STANDARD: I don't even think serious Democrats believe that. They just think we can't win and, you know, they're exhausted by the war, and they just want us to acknowledge defeat and get out.

Do his colleagues really believe that everything will be fine if we get out, that there won't be a brutal civil war, and that Iran won't come in, et cetera, et cetera, and that Al Qaida won't be emboldened, that Al Qaida won't set up terrorist sanctuaries in parts of Anbar province? I don't think even the Democrats believe that.

JUAN WILLIAMS, NPR: I think that they do believe it. And I think that a lot -- more and more people are saying the boogeyman in this scenario has always been what happens if we leave, the chaos that would follow subsequently.

But I think there's a sense that you know what, the U.S. presence there provides a floor for somebody else's civil war, sort of a medieval conflict, and that if we pull out, it will really allow us to focus on what are our national interests in that conflict, which is preventing Al Qaida from, you know, creating any kind of foothold in that region, but allow the civil war to play out.

Let them shed each other's blood, but let them not American blood. So I think that's a -- that does away with the boogeyman, to some extent.

HUME: That sound bite you played from John Murtha suggests that it's time that a few things be said about him. Even the Washington Post noted that he didn't seem particularly well informed about what's going on over there, to say the least.

Look, this man has tremendous cache among House Democrats, but he is not -- this guy is long past the day when he had anything but the foggiest awareness of what the heck is going on in the world.

And that sound bite is naivete writ large, and the man is an absolute fountain of such talk. And the fact that he has ascended to the position that he has in the eyes of the Democrats in the House and perhaps Democrats around the country tells you a lot about how much they know or care about what's really going on over there.

WILLIAMS: Well, but he's chairman of the subcommittee of House Appropriations, so he'll have a lot to say about what Mara was just discussing, which is appropriations...

HUME: And lot of it will be dotty.

WILLIAMS: Well, you know what? We're in a Democratic process. Not everybody is as smart as you are. But you know what? He's going to have a voice and a vote, and I think lots of people identify with what he's saying, which is let's look at different alternatives rather than engage in what is a war that is just taking us down, down, down.

WALLACE: Let me ask Mara -- let me change this a little bit. Who do you think -- and particularly not where we are now, but where we're headed, which is measures that would actually restrict the president.

Who do you think is more politically exposed at this point, Republicans voting for the president or Democrats voting against him?

LIASSON: I think you've got two groups. I think you've got the small group of Republicans who are up, for instance, in the Senate next time, and they are... WALLACE: It's not such a small group.

LIASSON: I mean, it's growing, but -- seven of them, if you want to count it by the measure of who voted with the Democrats on Saturday. So I think they're exposed because in their home states, the war is very unpopular.

Now, I think that the debate is going to change dramatically. I really think that cutting off funding or putting these different conditions on the troops going over there is going to change the debate.

I think the majority of the country is against this war and this policy. But I think it's a different matter when you ask people if we should cut off funds or kind of set up some kind of work to rule situation where it would be impossible to send troops or...

WALLACE: What about reauthorizing the mission, as Senator Levin suggests?

LIASSON: To actually deauthorize it, in effect -- I think that will be difficult for Democrats to do at this point.

KRISTOL: I think the seven Republican senators and the 17 Republican House members who deserted the cause of victory in the war have their own political vulnerability.

There's something called primaries we have in America, and there will be primary challenges in the Republican Party against some of those congressmen and, I hope, against some of those senators, and they deserve to be primaried, because they are acting, I think, in a shameful way.

There are a handful of them in the House who have always been against the war. I guess they get to keep that up.

But those who are flipping now for expedient reasons when the president of the United States sends additional reinforcements over, when David Petraeus says we have a chance to win, and they flip to vote for non- binding resolution that is the first step to crippling the ability to win this war -- and it's Jack Murtha's cynical plan to do this through his control -- his ability to shape the appropriations process -- those Republicans, I think, have political vulnerability to Republican primary challenges.

WALLACE: Juan, let's talk about the situation on the ground in Baghdad. The first few days of the crackdown seemed -- and everybody agreed it was premature at the best -- seemed to go pretty well. They didn't meet much resistance. The violence was down.

Prime Minister Maliki in a teleconference with the president said it was a dazzling success so far. And then today there have been a series of car bombs. As we went on the air, I think 28 people had been killed.

I guess the same question I really asked Carl Levin -- is there a chance that this could work?

WILLIAMS: Well, you pray that there's a chance it will work. I mean, that's why we have people on the ground. We're trying to make it work. We want it to work. Everybody wants it to work.

It's just that history, you know, says we've tried this before. We've had more troops on the ground before. We're going there with new strategies, a new general, and so we say you know what, give it a chance, let it work, support your president, be patriotic.

But every historical reference says you know what, this really doesn't have much of a chance of working, and we're putting good money after bad.

KRISTOL: You know, Juan said we pray that it has a chance to work and everyone wants it to work. And Juan does hope it works, though you don't believe it will.

The Democrats didn't say that. I watched a lot of that debate in the House and then the debate in the Senate yesterday. Where were the Democratic senators saying I'm doubtful about this, but you know, as an American, I pray that we do win, I pray that it works, I pray that my judgment is wrong?

Juan Williams wants us to win if we can. The Democrats in the House and the Senate don't want us to win, a lot of them.

HUME: They have made a very big bet politically on defeat. And if the hopeful signs turn out to be the harbinger of how things turn out over there -- and there have been a lot of them.

I mean, the important difference so far in what's happening in Iraq isn't the presence of additional American troops. That's only begun. The important difference is the willingness of the Maliki government to crack down on elements within his own political coalition, including al-Sadr, the Mahdi army, that have all been -- he's been very soft on them.

But that all seems to have changed. Now, it may change back. Things can still go terribly wrong. But so far in that department, at least, the signs are nearly all good. Yes, there's going to continue to be violence. There will be many more bloody days ahead.

But something has changed over there, and if it continues, this could well work.

WALLACE: All right. We need to take a break here.

But coming up, we'll turn to the rest of the so-called axis of evil, North Korea and Iran. The president talked about success with one and the threat of the other. The panel gets its say when we come back.


WALLACE: On this day in 1930, astronomers discovered the ninth planet of Pluto. Pluto lost that status in 2006 after scientists redefined requirements, demoting it to a dwarf planet.

Stay tuned for more from our panel and our Power Player of the Week.



SECRETARY OF STATE CONDOLEEZZA RICE: Disabling of these facilities is a sign that the North Koreans may, in fact, be ready to make a strategic choice.


WALLACE: That was Secretary of State Rice talking about the breakthrough in negotiations with North Korea over that country's nuclear program.

And we're back now with Brit, Mara, Bill and Juan. So as we said, North Korea has agreed to a deal with the U.S. and china and its other neighbors in the region.

Mara, is it a good deal or a bad deal? And why are so many conservatives -- and we heard Newt Gingrich today join them -- why are they so unhappy?

LIASSON: Well, first of all, we're going to find out if it's a good deal or a bad deal, because we've had deals with North Korea in the past and they've reneged.

And this one is conditional. We're not going to have to give them that much before we find out if they live up to their part of the bargain, at least, for the first step.

But this deal has been getting a remarkable amount of criticism from both the left and right. Conservatives are afraid that the U.S. has suddenly removed the pressure that was actually working.

Part of the deal is that we're going to soften some of the financial pressure on North Korea. And John Bolton, of all people, who was very recently in the Bush administration, was very critical of it.

On the left, Democrats are saying Bush could have had this deal earlier if only he'd agreed to sit down and talk to the North Koreans one on one.

WALLACE: Well, let me ask Bill Kristol about one half of that equation.

You're a conservative. Are you unhappy?

KRISTOL: I'm not thrilled. It's not going to work, in my opinion. The price we're paying is pretty small, on the other hand. We're not giving away a whole lot up front, and we'll know in 60 days or 90 days that North Korea isn't serious about removing its nuclear -- closing down and dismantling its nuclear program.

WALLACE: Why do you think -- if it's such a clear failure and for all the reasons that the conservatives list, why do you think the president made it?

KRISTOL: Well, I guess he feels that it's worth going one extra mile to try to give North Korea a chance to make a strategic decision, as Condi Rice said, to reverse course. No one believes they will. I think they are putting more hope in the Chinese regime than I would in terms of China really pressuring North Korea.

I'm worried that they're going to relax the sanctions prematurely, the financial sanctions, which seem to be doing some good, and I'm worried about the lesson Iran will draw from this, which is you can go ahead and launch missiles, and explode a nuclear weapon, and you don't get -- and sanctions start to bite, and they get withdrawn.

I'm worried that it will make us -- the main downside of the deal, I think, is with respect to Iran. It will make it harder to rally other nations to get really tough in putting sanctions on.

WALLACE: And, Juan, what about the Democratic side of it where they say hey, look, the president could have made this deal years ago, and it's no different and no better than Bill Clinton's 1994 agreement?

WILLIAMS: Well, that's exactly true. And what this seems to signal is a decline in the influence of people like Bolton or possibly Vice President Cheney on President Bush, and a rise in Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state's power to say we need a deal, we need to show some diplomatic progress somewhere in the world in dealing with this axis of evil, and so here is the potential.

We are bringing in other countries -- specifically, China, as Bill pointed out -- as a major ally. We're satisfying the Japanese. And hopefully this could be a model in the Middle East for what could take place if we get Saudi Arabia, Jordan and others to put pressure on Iran in terms of their nuclear ambitions.

HUME: This could all go wrong. North Korea has a history of cheating. It may do so again. If it does, as Mara pointed out, they won't get the benefits of the deal.

I think what this shows, however, is this kind of multilateral pressure can and does work, and that sanctions work even against as isolated a regime as North Korea.

Iran is much less isolated than North Korea and much more vulnerable to sanctions. And multilateral pressure helped here, particularly the presence of China in the deal. China clearly was genuinely offended by what the North had done.

Now, that doesn't mean they won't reconcile, and it doesn't mean at the end of the day China will be more lenient than we will. But having China in the deal -- look, China has a lot of leverage. We don't have a lot of leverage over North Korea. Having them involved is indispensable and it's smart.

And Carl Levin said on this show, as if it were the same kind of coalition before that was working with President Clinton -- that simply isn't true. The Chinese presence was not nearly as strong or as pronounced as it is here. So that matters.

And I think it is perhaps a model for Iran. Now, that doesn't mean that Iran won't take the wrong lesson from it. Iran is famously good at taking the wrong lesson from things.

On the other hand, I think Iran is likely to feel an even greater pinch than North Korea has.

WALLACE: Well, let me ask you about that, Mara, because the conservatives would say that the lesson that Iran should draw from this is they've got nothing to lose, and go full speed ahead, and the worst thing that's going to happen is you'll end up getting paid off for continuing your program rather than punished.

LIASSON: Yes, I think that's a danger. But we're going to find out. First of all, as Bill said, it's only going to be about 60 days to 90 days before we know if North Korea is living up to this.

But I do think that what the United States has been trying to do with Iran is increase pressure, sending battleships to the area, trying to get our European allies to cooperate with the financial sanctions on Iran.

That's going to be harder. Because Iran is less isolated, that means it has more ties economically with European countries who don't want to give up that trade and business dealings. So it's going to be tougher, but I think we're going to know pretty soon if the North Korean deal is going to go through or not.

WALLACE: The other side, Bill -- I want to talk about Iran -- is that we had this interesting series of briefings and statements this week where, I guess it was last Sunday, a top military official in Baghdad said the highest levels of the Iranian government -- that was the quote, "the highest levels" -- were behind their sending weapons in -- and we can see a couple of them there -- with Iranian markings that were coming from Iran to our enemies in Iraq, especially lethal bombs.

And the president says yes, Iran was involved, it was the Quds force, part of the revolutionary guard, but he has backed away from the idea that we can prove it came from the highest levels. What do you make of all that? And does it matter?

KRISTOL: Yes. If the Iranian revolutionary guard are sending deadly devices into Iraq that are killing American soldiers -- which they are; that seems to be unquestioned -- we have a big problem with Iran.

And whether it's personally signed off on by Khamenei or not -- and it's hard to believe it isn't, if it's the revolutionary guard -- still, whether they're simply permitting it or ordering it, we have a huge problem.

And I think we need to be tough with Iran. If putting North Korea on the back burner buys time to support the surge in Iraq and to be tough with Iran, then I think it's an acceptable strategic judgment.

WALLACE: What does tough with Iran mean?

KRISTOL: Well, I think beginning some of the things we've done this last few weeks, which -- tightening the pressure economically, sending the aircraft carrier there, but above all, telling them and finally telling them if you are killing American servicemen, you will pay a price -- and I don't think the president should reassure them that we won't come across the border.

And if we can find the factory that's making those improvised explosive devices, we should take it out. I don't even think that's a close call. American soldiers are being killed by exports from a neighboring country. We've warned them several times to stop. Many, many times we've warned them to stop.

It's ridiculous to sit by and sort of wag our finger or say this is very distressing. I think we need to be -- this has to be the message to Iran: Stop or else.

HUME: And think of the Democrats in the middle of this. They know these facts. They can see them. They know that Iran is up to no good. And what are they worried about? Are they worried about Iran? Not so as you'd notice.

What they're worried about is that the president might do something to Iran without clearing it with them. Wonderful. I mean, think -- I mean, this is why the Democratic Party has had this reputation, going back decades, of really not being very serious about national defense. It's because they aren't.

WILLIAMS: Well, wait a second. There's alarming consequences to what you've just drawn out.

HUME: There are alarming consequences...

WILLIAMS: ... we go after the Iranians, we are expanding this very unpopular war that we are trapped in, and we are therefore...

HUME: Juan?

WILLIAMS: ... exciting all sorts of possible consequences for us in the Middle East when we're trying to promote stability in that region. We're putting more of our people at risk at a time when our military is strained.

HUME: It seems to me that it is Iran at the moment that is putting more of our people at risk by inserting its weapons into that country. And if we can find the source of that and strike it, why should we not do that? Isn't that natural? Isn't that obvious? Isn't that an obvious step?

WILLIAMS: In other words, this is to me like the camel's nose under the tent, Brit. What you're saying is well, it's just the camel's nose.

But I see something a little larger, and I invite you to, which is a total war -- not only are we at war in Iraq, we're at war in Iran. And then what about Iranian supporters in the region coming into this conflict and it becoming altogether beyond our control? Is that what you want?

WALLACE: That is a question that will not be answered tonight. Thank you.

HUME: That's what you call a parade of horribles.

WALLACE: Thank you, panel. See you next time.

For more visit the FOX News Sunday web page.

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