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The Beltway Boys: Faux Debate Over the Issues

Reported by Marie Therese - January 10, 2005

On this Saturday's edition of The Beltway Boys, commentators Mort Kondracke and Fred Barnes discussed the "Hot Story" - that it would be "No Honeymoon" for Bush in his second term.


BARNES: "First there was this challenge by some Democrats led by Barbara Boxer, the California Senator, of Bush's obvious election in the electoral college in Washington. To watch her and then Mike Dewine of Ohio responding."

Right from the get-go by using the phrase "Bush's obvious election" Barnes is making it clear that he didn't see a reason for a recount in Ohio and feels there's no problem with our election system and no need for reform.

FOX then aired two clips, one of Barbara Boxer and then Mike Dewine.

Clip of BOXER: "Our people are dying all over the world - a lot from my state. For what reason? - to bring democracy to the far corners of the world. Let's fix it here."

Clip of DEWINE: "The election horse is dead. You can stop beating it now. Not one ounce of political flesh remains on that carcass. Ohio has counted and recounted. President George W. Bush received 118,775 more votes than your man Senator John Kerry."

No mention/discussion between Barnes and Kondracke occurs about the facts that there were serious flaws with the Ohio election, for example, the ratio of voting machines to the number of voters in districts that were predominately urban black neighborhoods as opposed to plenty of voting machines accessible to those in white suburban neighborhoods. This disparity of voting machines was responsible for the voters in the urban areas having to wait as much as 10 or more hours in line, which caused many to become discouraged and go home. Neither commentator mentioned that that was a key part of Boxer's speech on the issue and that election reform is urgently needed so it will not happen again in four years time. The FOX bias is clearly in favor of promoting and siding with Dewine's simplistic "neh-neh-neh-neh-neh" message which is basically "get over it democrats! You lost!"

Barnes goes on to mention that he felt the confirmation hearing for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was "a rougher examination of Gonzales, who's Hispanic, than I expected. It didn't make you feel good about civility prevailing in Washington." This last remark is ironic considering how intolerant and un-civil Barnes behaves immediately after this, when Kondracke makes a slight hint of criticism at Bush's forthcoming agenda.

Barnes introduces a clip of Bush talking about the need to "confront problems" and "to not pass them onto future Congresses or future Presidents." Bush's future plans include privatizing Social Securityand pushing forward tax reform.

Kondracke responds, supposedly from a tad more left point of view than Barnes by pointing out that Bush "wants to make his tax cuts permanent eventually, which will add even more burden. Because the tax cuts are not going to pay for themselves."

The entire time Kondracke is talking, the camera switches back and forth between him and Barnes, showing Barnes clearly disdainful, visibly irritated and restless, with body language much like Bush himself displayed throughout the entire first presidential debate with Kerry for which he was rightly criticized afterwards. Barnes interrupts Kondracke on the tax cut remark, countering that the tax cuts clearly are paying for themselves because "The deficit went down by 100 billion." The two men have a "no they didn't" "yes they did" moment, and then Kondracke moves on to remark about Alberto Gonzales.

KONDRACKE: And as to Alberto Gonzales, there were legitimate questions that had to be asked about what is torture policy in the Administration. The Administration is now against it. It's clear. But it wasn't so clear before."

Kondracke goes on to say that Bush has some good proposals including social security reform and tort reform which, he says, "I favor - both of them."

Here's where it's clearly shown that there is no real debate going on and that the two men are really two shades of the same side, that being the RIGHT. FOX is trying to give the illusion on this show that they have two men who are on somewhat "fair and balanced" yet opposing sides of the issues - because Barnes postures and shows obvious disdain/disagreement for Kondracke's remarks.

However, in truth, Kondracke leans more towards the centrist left - and even further right than left in his views. This is especially evident in the above remarks by Kondracke, where he declares the whole issue of where Alberto Gonzales stands on torture policy as being resolved/cleared up.

Case closed there? I don't think so! Gonzales now says that he doesn't think that the Geneva Conventions are quaint and outdated, even though he clearly said exactly that previously and issued a memo to that effect. Somehow in the minds of these two commentators, this exonerates him from any bad intent or wrongdoing. Gee, kinda makes Gonzales sound like a "flip-flopper" to me, but you sure as heck won't hear that term used against anyone on Bush's side on the FOX News Channel.

Report submitted by Laura.

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