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Special Report Roundtable - February 23

FOX News Special Report With Brit Hume


SEN JOSEPH BIDEN (D), DELAWARE: The original rational for the president using force in Iraq was A, weapons of mass destruction -- there are none. B, get rid of Saddam Hussein if need be -- he's gone. C, force compliance of the U.N. Resolutions -- that's done.


ANGLE: There you have Senator Biden today talking about the latest Democratic effort on the war in Iraq which is to reappeal and revise the 2002 congressional authorization to use military force, there.

Now some analytical observations from Juan Williams, senior correspondent of National Public Radio; Mort Kondracke, executive editor of Roll Call; and the syndicated columnist, Charles Krauthammer -- FOX NEWS contributors, all.

Now gentlemen, this is the latest effort by Democrats and comes, as we're witnessing, what appears to be the death of a proposal by John Murtha which was to condition funding on troop replacements getting a full year's rest and a number of other things which he had clearly said would make it impossible to send any replacements to Iraq.

Let me just point out -- show you two things Democrats were saying about the Murtha proposal. Here are two members of the House -- two moderate members of the House, Chet Edwards from Texas who said that, "I think Congress begins to skate on thin ice when we start to micromanage troop deployment and rotations." And Jim Cooper of Tennessee who said, "Congress has no business micromanaging a war, cutting off funding or even conditioning those funds."

Now Charles, you also had some discomfort in the Senate from Senator Levin and others over that, who felt like it was going too far. That appears now to be dead.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, the Murtha idea never had a chance. First of all, it's obviously unconstitutional. You don't manage the war out of the Congress. The commander in chief has the right to deploy his troops the way he wants and had there been a challenge, the Supreme Court would not have supported the Congress on this.

Secondly, as you said, he -- Murtha was not disengeneral use enough, but to present it was all about the troops and readiness, it was a way to undermine the ability of the commander in chief to actually carry out the war he's in the middle of. And a lot of the people in the House and obviously in the Senate thought that it will actually endanger our troops in the field today, because if you deny the commander in chief the reinforcements and the commander on the ground, Petraeus, the flexible tactics he needs, it's going to endanger the troops we are leaving in the field, so we're never had hope and it's a good thing that it's dead.

ANGLE: OK, we'll come back to the 2002 resolution in a moment, but Mort, I mean, this was an idea that came up, Speaker Pelosi seemed to embrace it at one point. It now appears to be off the table.

MORT KONDRACKE, ROLL CALL: Well, I guess it's off the table because it doesn't have much support and some Democrats are running away from it. I'm, frankly, dismayed that the media did not immediately run to the Democratic presidential candidates and ask them, how do you stand on Murtha? I mean, I would have loved to hear how they were -- you know, whether they were going to be responsible enough to say this is terrible, we won't be for it, or appealing to this left-wing base of the party that they would say that they supported. But it's all moot because it's not going to happen. Now, the latest...

ANGLE: Because they've been saved.

KONDRACKE: They've been saved, but the latest thing now is Biden - - Biden's -- Levin's latest resolution, which is another symbolic -- in fact, it says within, I believe, although, we don't have the text, that it doesn't have any binding effect and the president can ignore it if he wants to. You know, it's another way to keep the discussion going. The Democrats, one, have their base demanding that they do something and two, they don't want to do so much as to seem irresponsible -- yet.

ANGLE: Well, you're right, they're trying to tiptoe down that line to satisfy the Democratic left, Juan, which wants immediate withdrawal, but does just continuing to talk about this and repeal the -- Senator Feinstein, for instance, was saying let's reappeal it at the end of this year and then the president would have to come back for authorization, but you'd still have troops in the field. So, clearly Congress would have to authorize it, does that satisfy the anti-war left?

JUAN WILLIAMS, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: No. In fact, you know, part of this game is that Jack Murtha, initially when he unveiled this, did so on a left-wing Web site, his idea, and I think that really angered a lot of blue dog Democrats, the Conservative Democrats -- people that you quoted earlier, as saying that this was really going to tie up the ability of military commanders to go into battle successfully. And that supports, then, the president's position, but look, we've got a lot coming down the pipe.

One, the House Democrats, the leadership -- and remember, Pelosi, as you just heard from Mort, did support the Murtha position. They have to go before House Democrats next week, the caucus and explain their position, where are we going with this and is this going to be a success? This could potentially be a point at which where you would see rebellion against Murtha having such a loud voice, there.

Second thing is next week you get the Senate back in session. And this is where you get Mitch McConnell saying this was a Goldie Locks proposal coming from the Democrats. Is this bowl hot enough for the far left to really go after them or this bowl just right for the moderates who, as you said Jim, are trying to tiptoe down the line? All that is being said, but what you've got here is, I think, a very good idea, which is you say, you know what? Here's what we think the U.S. military should be doing. And to do that, either as a part of Homeland Security bill, which is going to be debated or as part of that $100 billion funding request for the rest of the year for Afghanistan and Iraq.

ANGLE: Well, one of the things about repealing and revising the authorization to use force, Charles, is that it looks like some of these proposals would have some pretty narrow prescriptions about what you could do with the forces, and it would exclude being in Baghdad.

KRAUTHAMMER: Well that's what's wrong with it. Either it's meaningless, as a statement of, sort of sentiment, or if it's meant to to be serious and to be legal, then what you are doing is restricting the combat, sort of, choices of our commanders in the field on a base of legalisms. If you say, we can do support but not combat. Does that mean that every time that Petraeus sends out on patrol we have to check with the lawyers is this a support or a combat operation?

And if you say we're only going to authorize fighting against al Qaeda, but not civil war stuff, every time he's got an operation going to check with his lawyers, is this any way tinged by civil war? And if he sends his troops into an operation like that, are the Democrats in congress going to attack the administration for overriding the will of Congress? This is absurd.

WILLIAMS: But Charles, he's simply saying...

KRAUTHAMMER: If you want to end a war, you cut off the funds. You don't...

WILLIAMS: Well, you know what, I don't think it's politically practical and I think if you say let's protect the borders, let's fight terrorism in al Qaeda and let's do a good job of protecting ourselves, you know, our interests there, I don't see what's wrong with that.

ANGLE: OK, all right. Sorry Mort. Next on SPECIAL REPORT, the Obama-Clinton kurfuffle (ph) raises some interesting questions about what kind of campaign Senator Obama plans to run. We'll look at that after the break.



ERIC DEZENHALL, CRISIS MGMT EXPERT: It is the beginning salvo in something that Hillary Clinton has to do, which is demonstrate that Obama, while a very attractive figure, is one who is untested and one who cannot take a punch.


ANGLE: OK, that's -- at the end of this week we've had three days of this little battle between the Clinton and Obama campaigns, a very interesting one in which we started off with Geffen, a Hollywood figure, who was once close to the Clintons, saying something rather uncharitable about the Clintons saying, "everybody in politics lies, but the Clintons do it so easy, it's troubling." Which prompted the Clinton campaign to say since he now giving money to Obama saying Obama had to apologize for what Geffen said, which led...

KONDRACKE: Give back the money.

ANGLE: ...and give back the money and which led the Obama campaign then to say that it's ironic the Clintons had no problem with Geffen when he was raising them $18 million and sleeping at their invitation in the Lincoln bedroom.

Os, you have this whole thing go back and forth, now obvious the Clinton campaign is going to test Obama whenever they can because he's doing well and in this case, has won over one of their big supporters -- Mort.

KONDRACKE: Right. I think Hillary lost in this little set to -- look, her job, she's got a very difficult job, she's got prove that she's tough enough that people won't be afraid to elect a woman president and at the same time she's got to appear not to be harsh and polarizing, which she tends to be. So in this case, she has her minions out there, Howard Wolfson, in particular, slashing, burning, pillaging, doing everything short of rape here, and demonstrating just that she's a polarizing politician.

ANGLE: And taunting Obama.

KONDRACKE: Yeah. And furthermore, it looks as though she's rattled by Obama's quick, you know, progress...

ANGLE: Well, it is rattling.

KONDRACKE: Yeah, and the fact that she's raising money from her old pals in Hollywood and so on, you know. And in addition to that, Geffen's very charges that she's polarizing, the family lies, all that stuff was elevated by this whole flap.

ANGLE: Well Juan, I -- it's interesting because someone told me that in one state that the Clinton forces have gone in with eight advanced people on several days, did robo-calls to build a crowd that the Obama campaign came in with one advance person the day before the event and got a bigger crowd than she did. That obviously would be disturbing and so they're obviously trying to draw him into a fight to show that he's no different from any other politician.

WILLIAMS: Or that he is inexperienced, that you really have a thin shell here, that you've got, as they call it, "Obama drama-rama" and it's all, you know, dramatic at this moment, but it won't last and that, you know, everybody wants to get a look at the new boy on the block, but really when they look at it and when they start to do a little opposition research, and people are already doing it quite heavily, they're going to find lots of things in his voting records, back in Springfield, Illinois, and the fact that he's only got one bill through in the Senate and had nothing to do with anything, really. Sixty bills that he had his name on, nothing comes of it with one exception. That kind of argument begins.

But, I think Mort's right, you know, I think Hillary had really rough week. Geffen said something that I think was even worse than the lying business, he said Hillary has been overproduced and over scripted. Now, this comes from a Hollywood guy.


ANGLE: Charles, go ahead.

KRAUTHAMMER: I'm not sure who won this fight -- this schoolyard brawl, but I would -- the guy I'd want to mediate for this is Anna Nicole's judge. I think...


ANGLE: Well, now today Obama expressed some reservation about having even responded to them. Now, does that suggest they're going to be able -- that he's going to have a hard time going head-to-head with the Clintons? And is that good or bad for him?

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, he's got dilemma. If he doesn't attack, he's called soft and if he does attack then he's off on his high horse. And her job is to force him into that position that -- what all of this was about and she's going to try again and again because he came out of no where, and until he's forced into a fight, of one kind or another, he either walks away from or he engages, he's going to be riding high and untouched.

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