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Special Report Roundtable - Aug 1

FOX News Special Report With Brit Hume


SEN BARACK OBAMA, (D), ILLINOIS: There are terrorists holed up in those mountains who murdered 3,000 Americans. They are plotting to strike again. It was a terrible mistake to fail to act when we had a chance to take out and al-Qaeda leadership meeting in 2005.

If we had actionable intelligence about high value terrorist targets, and President Musharraf will not act, we will.


HUME: Tough talk from Barack Obama on the subject of the war on terror today. But in addition to that stern warning to Musharraf and, perhaps, others, there was this from Obama on diplomacy.


OBAMA: The lesson of the Bush years is that not talking does not work. Go down the list of countries we have ignored and see how successful that strategy has been.

We haven't talked to Iran, and they continue to build their nuclear program. We haven't talk to Syria, and they continue to support terror. We tried not talking to North Korea, and they now have enough material for six to eight more nuclear weapons.


HUME: Some thoughts on this now from Fred Barnes, Executive Editor of The Weekly Standard, Mara Liasson, National Political Correspondent for National Public Radio, and Mort Kondracke, Executive Editor of Roll Call, FOX News contributors all.

Well, Mort, this was billed by the Barack Obama team as a very important, major speech. What about it?

MORT KONDRACKE, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, ROLL CALL: It was a major speech. There is good news and bad news. The good news is that Barack Obama actually shares George Bush's vision of the menace that international jihadism--al-Qaeda, presents to the United States, complete with the willingness to establish a Caliphate, murder anybody, and all that. That's the good news.

The bad news is that this was, as Hillary Clinton said, naive and irresponsible on his part.

HUME: What's the naive part? What about the Pakistan part?

KONDRACKE: Yes, that's what I was going to get to.

If you were the President of United States, and you knew that Usama bin-Laden was in a certain place, and you couldn't get Musharraf to do something about it, you very well might order a commando raid, or a pinpoint bombing, to do something.

But to announce, you are a candidate, up front, we do not respect the sovereignty of a allied country that we are trying to get to do the right thing, and we are going to announce right now that we are going to go violate that country's sovereignty, whatever the consequences might be for that leader, Musharraf, is totally irresponsible.

And I can't believe that the Democratic electorate out there--and this is unilateralism on his part. He accuses Hillary Clinton of being Bush- like. This is Bush heavy. This is willingness to invade another country.

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He said if we have actionable intelligence about a high-valued terrorist target. I think that we already know that the Bush administration at different times thought it might know where Usama bin-Laden was. I don't think that is going to get him into trouble with the Democratic base, I really don't.

And I think that there is very little in the speech substantively that Hillary Clinton wouldn't have put in her speech, whenever it comes, about terrorism.

I do think that this was an important speech by Obama. There is a big hurdle for Democrats in general on national security. There is a particularly high hurdle for him because he is so inexperienced. And I think that it was important that he gave it, and that also he gave it maybe before Senator Clinton gives her speech on terror.

But it was a muscular speech. He called it a war, a war we have to win. He said we are in the early stages of a long struggle. I think this was an important marker for him to lay down.

FRED BARNES, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, WEEKLY STANDARD: I think it was, too. And it's nice to hear some guy who is an interventionist and an internationalist, and does agree with Bush on what the terrorist enemy looks like and who it is.

But there are two huge problems with it. One has to do with strategy, and the other to do with credibility. The strategy one is--look, to say that the real battlefield, the important battlefield, is in the remote mountains of some backwater area of Pakistan and Afghanistan rather than in Iraq, in the center of the Middle East, important to the Persian Gulf, one of the big Arab countries in the world, with enormous oil wealth, to say that, somehow, we ought to be fighting off in the boonies when the strategically important place is Iraq, is just nonsense.

But, remember, he brags about having been against the war in 2002. That was at a time when Usama bin-Laden was believed to have had quite a large arsenal of weapons of mass destruction, and he was--

HUME: Saddam Hussein.

BARNES: Yes, Saddam Hussein was, and Obama didn't want to go in there.

The second problem is just credibility for all Democrats. We've been through this for years and years. Mort has talked about it a lot. They are never for the war we are fighting, they are always for a war somewhere else.

And then, of course, if it came down to going into that war, I don't believe for a minute he would go into Pakistan. This is something that Bush won't do, Cheney won't do, Rumsfeld won't do, the Joint Chiefs don't want to do, but somehow Obama is going to order it? Please.

HUME: Others who won't do it include Bill Richardson, who said the following thing about this today. "It is important to reach out to moderate Muslim states and allies to ensure we do not unnecessarily inflame the Muslim world."

Joe Biden--"The last thing you want to do is telegraph to the folks in Pakistan that we are going to violate their sovereignty, putting Musharraf in the position that makes it virtually impossible for him to do anything other than what he has done, basically cut a deal with the warlords on the border."

And, finally, Chris Dodd said today "It is dangerous and irresponsible to leave an impression the United States would needlessly and publicly provoke a nuclear power."

So it did not play very well with his fellow Democratic candidates. But Senator Clinton has not been heard from yet.

KONDRACKE: Beyond this, he said that he is go to capture or kill terrorists anywhere in the world. But we will neither kidnap them nor torture them. Never ever would he engage in torture at all, which I assume he means water boarding.

So you collect Sheikh Mohammed somewhere, you capture him on a battlefield because you cannot kidnap him, and you would not water board him, even though he might have immediate intelligence.

So how are you going to get the actionable intelligence in an emergency? It just doesn't add up. He wants to Bush-bash--

HUME: OK, quickly--play well with the Democratic audience, or not?

KONDRACKE: I don't think so.

HUME: You do?

LIASSON: Yes. I think this was an important thing for him to have done. And I think it is not going to hurt him with the Democratic--

FRED: Well, they know that Pakistan, bombing Pakistan, that is bravado.

HUME: Next up with the panel, we will discuss the showdown in the House over state health insurance for children. Stick around.



SEN HARRY REID, SENATE MAJORITY LEADER, (D) NEVADA: Could there be a more worthy cause than trying to get kids the ability to go see a doctor when they have sick? That's what this legislation is all about.

REP MICHELE BACHMANN, (R) MINNESOTA: Imagine, under the Democrat plan, someone who is old enough to be able to run for United States Congress would be considered a child and eligible for taxpayers' subsidized healthcare. This is socialized medicine in its truest form.


HUME: Well, that was a piece of the debate. The bill is pending in the House, but there is a Senate bill as well, and it is to expand a program which is known for short as SCHIPS, State Children's Health Insurance Program.

We are back with out panel to discuss this. Not this is a pretty fierce battle, with the Republican trotting out charges of socialized medicines, Democrats saying we are just trying to get kids some healthcare.

Who has got the better right in this debate?

KONDRACKE: I think there is an enormous amount of hidden agenda going on here. There basic fact is that there are six million kids below 200 percent of policy, which is $38,700 a year, who lack health insurance in this country, and it is a scandal. And they ought to be covered, and the Bush administration has proposed a measly $5 billion over five years, which not even come anywhere near covering the kids.

And even in the Senate bill, the Senate leadership is going to come up with a $9 billion figure--bigger than the Bush administration--in order to cover some of those kids.

But, what you got is the Bush administration wants to veto whatever the Congress does in order to try to negotiate a tax deduction system to reform the whole healthcare system. In the House they really do want to expand to, 25-years-old. They want to--

HUME: The definition of a child would include people up to 25 years of age.

KONDRACKE: And there are Democrats who want to expand Medicare, which is a separate program, to cover 55-years-old, and they want to expand children up to 400 percent of poverty, and stuff like that.

But what it needs to be is a deal. And there is a deal in the Senate.

LIASSON: Yes. Although it is unclear if either party is really ready to get a deal. There is one to be had, as there are on many of these issues.

But this is laying down a marker for the big healthcare debate that we are going to have in the 2008 election, or in the future, and the Democrats want to take this program and expand it to cover more children. And when you do that, you get more people covered under government subsidies, and that to the Republicans, is socialized medicines.

I agree there is a deal to be cut, and I don't know if either party is in the mood to cut one yet.

BARNES: I am not sure there is one either. And I will have to admit, I am always suspicious when I hear one of these politicians say "We are doing it for the children," I'm suspicious. And I think in this case in the both the Senate and the House bill there is reason to be suspicious.

HUME: Well, particularly when children get to be a child up to age 25.

BARNES: Age 25, and they don't have to be a American citizens.

HUME: They don't have to be American citizens?

BARNES: No. In the House bill they can be non-citizens.

One Republican told me that they looked through the entirely Hillary Clinton staff, and half of her staff would be eligible under the Senate bill.

What do you want to do? Do you want to insure more people. You want to have a system that holds down spiraling healthcare costs, and you want to let people choose what kind of insurance they want.

I don't think this--it meets the first, it would insure more people. But when the government gets in and is paying for it, we know what happens there, we have soon it in Medicare and Medicaid, they just spiral out of control, the costs.

And if you had a tax credit system that people got--a credit, a refundable tax credit, which Republicans have proposed in the Senate, and I will have to say the White House has not sufficiently gotten behind it--you can achieve this, you can achieve all three things if you do that.

What happens with this plan is, I think in the Senate bill, a third of children it would cover are already insured privately. And when you get up in the House bill up to 400 percent of poverty, then if you have a large family, you can be making $100,000 and be eligible for the SCHIP, if you have a large family--$100,000.

KONDRACKE: The health insurance industry is actually behind the Senate bill. And if they are worried about dropping health insurance, they wouldn't be for that bill.

And it is not socialized medicine. It is private insurance.

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