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Hot Story: Scalp Hunters

Beltway Boys

FRED BARNES, "WEEKLY STANDARD": Coming up on "The Beltway Boys," from Iraq and global warming, to the fight over fired U.S. attorneys, Democrats put Congressional oversight into overdrive.

MORT KONDRACKE, "ROLL CALL": Former North Carolina Senator John Edwards continues his presidential campaign while his wife, Elizabeth, battles cancer.

BARNES: Hillary promises if elected, she'll make her husband ambassador of the world.

KONDRACKE: And is the GOP stage set for Fred Thompson? We'll take a look at that.

BARNES: That's all coming up on "The Beltway Boys." But first, the headlines.

(NEWSBREAK)

BARNES: I'm Fred Barnes.

KONDRACKE: And I'm Mort Kondracke, and we're "The Beltway Boys."

Well, the "Hot Story" of the week is "Scalp Hunters."

It does not look as though this Democratic-controlled 110th Congress is going to be a big legislative conference - Congress. Maybe they'll pass immigration - and immigration bill. I certainly hope so. And education and children's health and - and energy, hopefully.

But this is going to be the oversight Congress. Now it's very true that the Republicans, when they were in control of the Congress, did precious little oversight of the - of the Bush administration, leading to a lot of mistakes on their part. But what the Democrats are out for is scalps, or heads on a pike.

And here are the major topics of the - the investigations that are going on right now. There you can see. There's a whole bunch of other ones, and I was at a speech that Senator Carl Levin gave, indicating there was going to be a big investigation of detainee treatment at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib and so - and so on.

But what the Democrats would, I think, love to do, ideally, is to impeach somebody. If not George Bush, then maybe Dick Cheney. But instead of that, they - since they can't do that, they're - they're - they're trying to whack heads. And they've already got the head of Don Rumsfeld, which was delivered up by President Bush right at the outset of the administration. Now it's Alberto Gonzales, the - the attorney general. And they also want to get the - the head, if the possibly can, of Karl Rove, the president's chief political adviser.

What they're trying to do is to get Rove to - and Harriet Miers, the former White House chief of staff (sic), to testify under oath about the firing of these U.S. attorneys.

Here is President Bush's response to that idea, and then Senator Pat Leahy's response to Bush. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will not go along with a partisan fishing expedition aimed at honorable public servants.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT), CHAIRMAN, SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: We are told that we can have a closed-door meeting with no transcript, not under oath, limited number of people, and the White House will determine what the agenda is. That to me is nothing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KONDRACKE: So they've issued subpoenas, and it looks like it's going to go court and it's going to drag out for a long time.

Now it's a fairly good tactic for the administration to be playing here. Let the - let the Democrats concentrate on Alberto Gonzales and beat him to a pulp if necessary. Because if they were to get his resignation, they would move on to somebody else.

BARNES: Absolutely. And I like what you call this issue: "scalp hunting." Because that's what it is. Very clever, Mort. Keep it up.

And.

KONDRACKE: I'll do what I can.

BARNES: Good.

BARNES: All this is all the more reason why Bush should not throw Alberto Gonzales overboard, to fire him. I mean, it would only make Democrats foam at the mouth even more. They're bloodlust would be so excited for more kills. And to reward them for concocting an entirely bogus scandal like this AG scandal and then let them have scalps - that would be a huge mistake by the White House.

Look, these investigations are almost purely partisan. And they're not really investigations; they're show trials. They're not - they're not truth-seeking. And - and, you know, I like - and I thank you for putting the quotes around "oversight," because that's exactly what it is.

Look, if they were truth-seeking about global warming, they wouldn't bring in Al Gore to testify, as he did on Wednesday. I mean, that's - when you bring in Al Gore, that's an adventure in hyperbole, because he indulges in so much of it.

Here's a - a bite from when he testified on Wednesday. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AL GORE (D), FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: The planet has a fever. If your baby has a fever, you go to the doctor. If the doctor says you need to intervene here, you don't say, `Well, I read a science fiction that tells me it's not a problem.' If the crib's on fire, you don't speculate that the baby is flame retardant. You - you - you take action.

The planet has a fever.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BARNES: There's a man who has a fever. That's for sure.

Look, it is clear now that there is no scientific consensus on global warming, except for one thing: we know the temperature in the globe increased by 1 degree over the last 100 years. And - and scientists are increasingly embarrassed y the wild exaggerations of Al Gore, where he - he says we're going to get a - the sea level will rise 20 feet, and the U.N. group that's looked into this says it'll be 23 inches. You'll have to admit, there's a significant difference there.

And - and I think you're going to increasingly see - well, we have seen, in that "New York Times" story, scientists increasingly ready to go public to repudiate Al Gore. And yet, you know, you find some Al Gore apologist like yourself, Mort.

KONDRACKE: Well, I'm not - I'm not a full Al Gore apologist. But - but look, there is.

BARNES: Thank goodness (ph) to that.

KONDRACKE: Look, you're just dead on wrong on whether - wait a minute. There - there - there is a scientific consensus that - and even the U.N. report indicated it - that the globe - the world is warming, and that mankind is very likely responsible for it. In fact, that - that.

BARNES: There's not a consensus on that.

KONDRACKE: Wait a minute. The U.N. commission said that there's - that there's practically no question any more about that point.

Now they - now there is a question about whether Gore is exaggerating the consequences of - of - of all this. As you say, whether the sea is going to rise 23 feet, or - or 12 inches. And it obviously makes a difference.

And there's also - and I think Gore's remedies for this, namely to shut down the carbon economy in the West, when the - when countries in the underdeveloped world are not ready to do that, is - is the right answer, or is even a feasible answer.

But this is a subject that deserves serious, programmatic attention, instead of this ideological combat that it's getting right now.

BARNES: And is - and is provoked Al Gore.

KONDRACKE: Well, and.

BARNES: I'd still like these global-warming people to explain why - why if it - if - if mankind caused it to increase 1 degree over the last 100 years - it increased 1 degree over many centuries many earlier - what was it? Heavy breathing by dinosaur? Mankind wasn't around.

Mort, I know you can't explain that, and I don't expect you to.

But Democrats have become obsessed, as I think you'll agree, with hunting for scalps, and - and passing anti-war resolutions. I mean, this is all they do. Allowing Republicans, to some extent - I don't want to over - I don't want to exaggerate this - to some extent to step in and take up serious issues. You see Senate Republicans are the ones who were working on an immigration reform package, which they want to present to Democrats after awhile and work out a compromise. This is - this effort is led by Mitch McConnell, who also thinks there is a remote possibility, with a divided government, you could get - and he's working on this, hasn't gotten very far - is working on Social Security reform that - that gets rid of the things that were so provocative.

I mean, Bush doesn't want a tax increase. Democrats don't want these private investment accounts in Social Security. But there is a scaled-back version, where you could actually get something. But, you know, Democrats are still boasting about how they killed Bush's version of Social Security reform in 2005, and beating their chest about that. So they're not even taking on this issue.

KONDRACKE: Yes, you know, in - in the beginning of this - after the election, both sides agreed that what the public wanted out of the 2006 election was bipartisan work on solving problems. And what have we had? We've had gamesmanship and - and obstructionism on - on both sides. I think the - by and large -- I'm interested to know that the Senate Republicans are working out alternative programs. I think that's exactly what they should be doing. And the Democrats ought to be trying to reach agreement with them. But they're not doing it.

BARNES: Indeed.

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