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Special Report Roundtable - June 28

FOX News Special Report With Brit Hume


SEN. MEL MARTINEZ (R), FLORIDA: I'm deeply disappointed. I would say profoundly disappointed. I'm an optimist. I came to Congress to solve problems, to do good for the country that I love so much. And today I failed in my efforts.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: Don't focus on the Democrats. We support this legislation. The vast majority of the Democrats support this legislation.


HUME: But Senator Reid did say that the president had stuck his neck out on the issue, and that he appreciated that, and all the president's efforts to try to win passage of the Immigration reform Bill, which went down today when an effort to shut debate that required 60 votes, and to move the thing toward a vote got not even 50, not even a simple majorities.

Some thoughts on this outcome now from Fred Barnes, Mara Liasson, and Mort Kondracke, Fox News contributors all.

Well, Mara, this bill is dead, dead, dead. Correct?

MARA LIASSON, NPR: That's right.

HUME: And when might we see an effort like this again?

LIASSON: I think we might see an effort in a different administration. But I think we're certainly not going to see one for the rest of Bush administration.

And now, I think, all that is left is the political fallout and the political calculations. I think this is, in the end, going to be bad for the Republican Party.

I mean, certainly, Bush, Martinez, leadership in Congress, made a decision not just about the substance of this legislation, but about the politics of it, that it would be a good thing for the Republican Party, especially as the Hispanic vote grows and grows and grows in the United States to be for regularizing and solving this problem.

And I think a lot of the rhetoric that you heard from the opponents of Bill sounded anti-Hispanic, and I don't think that is good for the Republican Party.

MORT KONDRACKE, ROLL CALL: Look, I think this was a horrible tragedy for the country and the Congress. This was a chance for this Congress to solve a big national problem on a bipartisan basis. And they almost got there, but they couldn't. You know, and, basically--

HUME: Why couldn't they?

KONDRACKE: Because the loudmouth, some of them nativists, some of them just--well, some of the Tom Tancredo gang does not want Hispanic Americans coming to--

FRED BARNES, WEEKLY STANDARD: The public hated the bill.

KONDRACKE: The public hated the bill because all they heard was criticism, and, basically, look, what finally happened in the end was that last year there were 26 Republicans who voted for a much more liberal bill than this one, 12 voted to keep the debate alive on this one. What happened was that the radio talk show hosts scared away--they created this drum roll out--yes, absolutely.

They created the drum roll in the Republican base, and they scared off senators like Lamar Alexander, and George Voinovich, and Gordon Smith, and Susan Collins, and moderate people like that. And they were terrified, so they voted against it.

BARNES: A lot of them voted against it just because they knew it was going down. They were not going to get the 60 votes. They only had 56, 57 votes. Once it was clear that they weren't going to get the 60, a lot of them voted against it as a protective measure.

HUME: In other words, none of them are sticking their neck out to fail.

BARNES: Yes. I mean, Mitch McConnell, did, and even--am I wrong?-- did Lindsay Graham?

KONDRACKE: He voted for it.

BARNES: He voted for it? Good for him, he was the profile in courage in this.

Look, you did have this--Mort's right to some extent, which is often the case with Mort--this was this huge right wing eruption around the country that I thought peaked three or four weeks ago when Harry Reid first took the bill off Senate floor. But after that it spread, and spread much more widely than just conservatives in America. Brit, I think you said it, the American public, including democrats and people that are not in any political party, were against it. And they made that known to congress.

HUME: Wasn't the problem, too, that when the provisions were added to this compromise, or included in the compromise, that were tough enforcement provisions, and a lot of the people who didn't like the bill might have supported, the credibility of government on that score, on the enforcement score, so was weak that it just didn't win anybody over?

BARNES: Well, no, they didn't get to that vote, actually. You are referring to the Graham amendment --

HUME: No, I'm not talking about any particular amendment, I'm talking about the provisions that were in the body of the bill that, clearly, Michael Chertoff and others believed would help the enforcement. They just didn't believe them.

BARNES: They didn't believe them, and that's why there was going to be this amendment by Lindsay graham that would have toughened things, that would have required, you know, you had to go back to your home country just to get a Z visa, and it was going to crack down on all the people who had outstayed their visas that they had here, and so on. And it was going to be a tough measure, that might have brought some of the conservatives along, although I'm not sure that it would have.

But they never got to it for procedural reasons, because they couldn't get to it. If they had, if that had been the vote just before cloture, it might have changed it. But, you know, it might not have.

HUME: Well, on the other had, did anybody seriously think that if this thing could somehow manage to squeak out the Senate on some hairline vote, which is all it ever would have been, that it was ever going anywhere in the House?

LIASSON: I think the House voting on that resolution, the House Republicans voting on that resolution, saying, in effect, this is dead on arrival, I think had an affect on the Senate. It did. It was, like, why should I stick my neck out if this thing is going to die in the House?

BARNES: If the Senate would have passed it, it would have generated some momentum. It would have been quite remarkable. This is a very important issue, and a very important bill if it had passed. And, obviously, it didn't, so the House won't do it anyway.

KONDRACKE: It would have kept it alive, there would have been a chance. There might have been a conference that could have worked out the details.

Part of the tragedy here is that President Bush has just lost any persuasive power with Republicans or anybody else.

HUME: Which Republican, if any Republican, had any persuasive power on this issue?

KONDRACKE: Well, look, there are a lot of people, some of whom I named, like John Warner, and people like that, who had voted for these kind of bills in the past. He is not even up for reelection--

BARNES: Yes, he is.

HUME: Yes, he's up, depending on whether he'll run.

KONDRACKE: But if John Warner runs again, he will probably win. But he got scared off this bill, and he voted for immigration reform last time. And it was this upheaval on the part of base that was stirred up by the talk show hosts.

BARNES: It wouldn't have happened the way it did today. It started, obviously, among the conservative base, and heavily abetted by conservative talk radio, hadn't spread across the country and taken up by the general public.

HUME: I would submit that one of the things that went wrong here is the more the people found out about the bill, not just they heard opinions expressed about it, the more they found about what was in the bill, the less he liked it.

KONDRACKE: But almost all of what they heard about the bill was bad.

HUME: Well, that's what--

KONDRACKE: Was it perfect, no? But it was only way to move on to try to solve this problem.

LIASSON: The big mega phone was missing, the bully pulpit of the president, because he has no more juice left. And the other mega phone that Republicans used to rely on, talk radio, was completely turned against them. They had very tools.

HUME: Next up with the panel, the Supreme Court ruling vote on race in schools. We'll talk about that next.


REP CAROLYN KIRKPATRICK, (D) MICHIGAN: Fifty-three years ago, in this building, the Supreme Court ruled that this must be a just society, that there should be equal education and access for all Americans. In one swoop, in a 5-4 decision, this court turned that 53-year-old decision, and others, upside down.

JONATHAN TURLEY, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW PROFESSOR: What you really see with these decisions is the emergence of a true Bush legacy. When people talk about will it be Iraq? Will it be immigration? No, it will be the Supreme Court.


HUME: Well, some people think that is wonderful, perhaps. Obviously, Carolyn Kirkpatrick, and others members of the Congressional black caucus feel otherwise. And that was a pretty strong statement she made.

What about that? We had two decisions today which, basically, said that the race-based diversity plans, which assigns students to certain schools within two school districts in this country, were impermissibly based entirely, or too strongly, on race and nothing else.

And we're getting strong 5-4 decisions. What about this? Does this completely undo race as a factor in school admissions from now on? Mara?

LIASSON: No, it doesn't completely undo it. But it ratchets it back, and it limits the ability of these school districts to use race as a criteria when they are designing their desegregation plans.

Look, I think Jonathan Turley is absolutely correct. I think that no matter what happens in any other aspect of his agenda, the president has put a lasting imprint on the Supreme Court, and you are seeing this, kind of, one after another of these 5-4 decisions come down that, clearly, the Court has moved in a more conservative direction than before Alito and Roberts were on it.

BARNES: That's true. He has succeeded where Nixon, Reagan, and his father all failed. Remember? They wanted to turn the court in a more conservative direction, and they really didn't, it didn't work that way.

But this decision, you know--the black caucus, I mean, they are hysterical, this is going to change things very, very little. This was a very narrow decision made even more narrow by the concurring opinion of Justice Kennedy who kept it from being--

HUME: More sweeping.

BARNES: --more sweeping, and what had to be followed always in other cases.

What they said was, look, race is a blunt instrument. And when it is the only factor in school districts that have overcome segregation--Seattle never had segregated schools, but Louisville had been certified to have overcome the legacy of segregation--when you are doing it just on race only--you don't look at individuals, and other things that may be factors in assigning of the schools--when you do that just on race, you can't do it.

In the majority opinion, Justice Roberts made one point that I thought was terrific. He said, under the Seattle plan, if you had a district that was 50 percent white and 50 percent Asian, that was fine, that met the diversity criterion. But if the district was a quarter Asian, a quarter Hispanic, a quarter African American, and a quart white, it wouldn't need it.

HUME: Why?

BARNES: Because they had these rigid standards that you had to have at least 31 percent whites in a school. The goal was diversity. I can't think of anything more diverse than a quarter of all those different groups.

KONDRACKE: Fifty-three years after the Brown versus Board of Education decision we have separate and unequal school systems around the country. If you are an inner city, you don't have them legally but you have, yes, inner city schools, in general, around the country, stink. And the kids who go there get inferior educations. Now, the Supreme Court--

HUME: Is that because of race?

KONDRACKE: Well, it's partly because of the legacy of segregation, yes, it is. These kids have not--have broken families, and stuff. They go into schools with a much greater burden than kids living out in the suburbs.

Now, I don't think the Supreme Court can do something about it, but legislatures can. And the way legislatures can is to insist on paying teachers a professional salary, and demanding that those teachers act like professionals. Instead of having teachers unions determine all the rules, to impose discipline, to have high-quality teachers.

We are never going to solve this problem by insisting that white kids have to sit next to black kids. It's not going to happen that way. It's going to happen only if we have standards and money together, and improve the school system so that inner city--

HUME: So do you support these decisions and think this was the correct rule, or what?

KONDRACKE: Yes, fundamentally, think racial quotas simply don't work. They are nice, they create some sense of diversity, and stuff like that. But that diversity is not the problem. Quality is the problem, and that's what we have to fix as a society.

BARNES: Well said.

HUME: Do you agree with Mort?


HUME: Mara, I think it's probably time to get this panel over with. We put you between the beltway boys to try to avoid any fights, and it seems to be working.

LIASSON: Yes, not that they agree.

What Mort is talking about is correct about education. Of course, this was focused on slightly different matter.

For more visit the FOX News Special Report web page.

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