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The Beltway Boys on Lynne Cheney and stem cell research

Friday, October 27, 2006

HH: Joined now, as I am most Fridays at this time, by Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard, Morton Kondracke of Roll Call. Together, they are the Fox News Channel Beltway Boys. You can watch them tomorrow night at 6pm. Gentlemen, welcome. I want to go right to the headlines. While you were working over at Special Report, Wolf Blitzer was ambushing Lynne Cheney. But it didn’t go well at the O.K. Corral for CNN. I’d like you to listen to this first bit of an exchange. It begins with Wolf playing a James Webb bit, and it gets worse. Here’s the quote:

James Webb: There’s nothing that’s been in any of my novels that in my view, hasn’t been either illuminating the surroundings, or defining a character, or moving a plot. I’m a serious writer. I mean, we can go and read Lynne Cheney’s lesbian love scenes if you want to, you know, get graphic on stuff.

LC: You know, Jim Webb is full of baloney. I have never written anything sexually explicit. His novels are full of sexually explicit references to incest, sexually explicit references…well, you know, I just don’t want my grandchildren to turn on the television set. This morning, Imus was reading from the novels, and it’s triple X rated.

WB: Here’s what the Democratic Party put out today, the Democratic Congressional Senatorial Campaign Committee. Lynne Cheney’s book featured brothels and attempted rape. In 1981, Vice President Dick Cheney’s wife, Lynne, wrote a book called Sisters, which featured a lesbian love affair, brothels, and attempted rapes. In 1988, Lynne Cheney wrote about a Republican Vice President who dies of a heart attack while having sex with his mistress. Is that true?

LC: Nothing explicit. And actually, that is full of lies. It’s not…it’s just absolutely not true.

WB: But you did write a book entitled Sisters.

LC: I did write a book entitled Sisters. This description…

WB: And it did have lesbian characters.

LC: No, not necessarily. This description is a lie. I’ll stand on that.

HH: Fred Barnes, is it unusual to read Democratic National Committee talking points to the Second Lady of the United States?

FB: Well, I’ve never heard of that being done. And I think it was probably a mistake to do so. But look, this is an unusual campaign in Virginia. If whatever George Allen did, the incumbent Republican Senator did in college, if that’s fair game, then it’s certainly fair game to go after a Jim Webb for what he wrote as an adult in the novels that he wrote. So I mean, there’s certainly…I mean, Democrats try to pretend like oh, this doesn’t matter and so on. Well, look, this campaign, if what happens, Allen did thirty years ago matters, then what’s in these books matters.

HH: Morton Kondracke, is it in your experience of journalism, if you invite the Second Lady of the United States to talk about her children’s book…and is this off the road a bit for Wolf Blitzer to bring this up?

MK: Oh, no. I honestly don’t think so. And look, she handled herself very well, and this is what the Democrats are putting out. It’s perfectly legitimate for him to ask her about it, and she beat it back down. I don’t see anything illegitimate about it.

HH: Here’s a second bit of this interview, where it gets even testier, concerning the sniper footage from the terrorists that CNN aired:

LC: What is CNN doing running terrorist tape of terrorists shooting Americans? I mean, I thought Duncan Hunter asked you a very good question, and you didn’t answer it. Do you want us to win?

WB: The answer, of course, is we want the United States to win. We are Americans. There’s no doubt about that. You think we want terrorists to win?

LC: Then why are you running terrorist propaganda?

WB: With all due respect, with all due respect, this is not terrorist propaganda.

LC: Oh, Wolf…

WB: This is reporting the news, which is what we do. We’re not partisan…

LC: Where did you get the film?

WB: We got the film…look, this is an issue that has been widely discussed, this is an issue that we reported on extensively. We make no apologies for showing that. That was a very carefully considered decision, why we did that. And I think, and I think, of your…

LC: Well, I think it’s shocking.

WB: If you’re a serious journalist, you want to report the news. Sometimes the news is good, sometimes the news isn’t so good.

LC: But Wolf, there’s a difference between news and terrorist propaganda. Why did you give the terrorists a forum?

WB: And if you put it in context, if you put it in context, that’s what news is. We said it was propaganda.

HH: Morton Kondracke, he does contradict himself in the course of that, saying it wasn’t propaganda, that it was propaganda. But what about this exchange, and Lynne Cheney’s fighting back?

MK: Well, Lynne Cheney’s a tough lady, and she can handle herself perfectly well, and I honestly, I hate the idea that we would run terrorist propaganda. You know, I wish, however, that the United States had some way to fight terrorist propaganda with our own propaganda, and use that kind of stuff, the kind of slaughter that the enemy perpetrates, and feed it back to them somehow to their populations, and embarrass them with it. And I’m not in favor of CNN running theirs. I’m in favor of the United States trying to figure out how to fight it back with our own.

HH: Fred Barnes, I attended last night the Mess Night for the First Battalion, First Marines, and spent a lot of time talking to a platoon sergeant who is a sniper, and a platoon sergeant for a platoon of snipers. And you know, they hate the American media. Not this particular sergeant, but the Marines…they hate it. They believe it’s being distorted, that they’re being undermined, that they’re losing the war.

FB: Of course they believe that, because it happening. And what was pathetic on the part of Wolf Blitzer, well, he was trying to pretend like getting this propaganda tape, which was handed over, was really the result of hard-digging reporting by CNN. That’s nonsense. He knows better than that. I mean, the truth is, in that particular segment, Lynne Cheney ate his lunch.

HH: Yeah, she did. Pretty damning interview, and I think Wolf is going to be awake a lot tonight. Now the third thing that’s happened is the Michael J. Fox controversy explodes, and stem cell explodes. And not only does Jim Talent come under assault, but Ben Cardin, the hapless, shapeless, completely bland Congressional candidate who’s losing in Maryland, attacks Steele. And Steele comes back with maybe the most powerful political ad of the season. Let’s listen to it.

Michael Steele: I’m Michael Steele, and I approve this message.

Dr. Monica Turner: I’m Dr. Monica Turner. Congressman Ben Cardin is attacking Michael Steele with deceptive, tasteless ads. He is using the victim of a terrible disease to fight people all for his own political gain. Mr. Cardin should be ashamed. There’s something you should know about Michael Steele. He does support stem cell research. And he cares deeply for those who suffer from disease. How do I know? I’m Michael Steele’s little sister. I have MS. And I know he cares about me.

HH: Fred Barnes?

FB: You know, I’ve heard about this ad, but that’s the first time I’ve actually heard a tape of it. It sounds like a powerful ad. The truth is, I believe, and Mort’s going to disagree with this, that Michael J. Fox’s decision to go into Missouri, New Jersey, Maryland, and I understand he’s going to be in Virginia next week, has backfired. And what happened is, his ad on television had misinformation. He didn’t say he was just talking about embryonic stem cell research. He said that Steele and others who we was campaigning against, other Republicans, were against all stem cell research. Well, there’s a huge difference there. And of course, he and others who promote this embryonic stem cell research, never want to talk about all the successes happening now with adult stem cell research. So I think Michael J. Fox has become a liability for Democrats in this campaign.

HH: And I want to remind people, Morton, that you lost your wonderful wife, Millie, to Parkinson’s. You’re a big proponent of Parkinson research.

MK: I’m on the board of the Michael J. Fox Foundation as well.

HH: Right.

MK: Look, Michael J. Fox, you know, Republicans are saying that Michael J. Fox was used. Michael J. Fox is not used. He’s doing this on his own, and voluntarily. And he knows what he’s getting into. And he did say, more clearly in his Maryland ad than he did in Missouri, that he’s talking about the most promising kind of stem cell research. And believe me, I know a lot of scientists. And they all say that embryonic stem cells are far more potentially useful in fighting disease than adult stem cells. You know, if adult stem cells were truly pluripotent, that is could be turned into any kind of organ in the human body, why would anybody even bother with embryonic stem cells? I mean, it’s not…the scientists of the world are not anxious to go destroy embryos. That’s not what they’re about. They’re trying to cure diseases.

HH: Morton, but again, that’s the debate I don’t want…I want to have a political conversation. What do you think of this little sister ad, this accomplished doctor with MS, the surprise element of it, running in Maryland? I think this devastates Cardin.

MK: I think it’s a very effective ad. If Michael Steele were really so interested in having his sister cured, he would be in favor of all kinds of stem cell research.

FB: Mort!

HH: Morton!

FB: You know perfectly well…

MK: Yeah, yeah…

FB: …you can even ask the scientists that you know, Mort.

MK: Exactly. Exactly. It’s harsh to say, but it’s true.

FB: Mort…

HH: Now do you expect, Morton, to get hit with what Rush got hit with this week, for questioning the sincerity of someone involved in the debate?

MK: I mean, look. If…when my wife was ill with Parkinson’s disease, do you think that I would reject a potential therapy that could be good for her?

FB: But look, adult stem cell research has produced human benefits in many, many other cases, and Mort, everybody knows…

MK: And in a few specific cases, it has.

FB: Now wait a minute…the scientists that you talk to, that any gains from stem cell research, none of which have materialized so far, are years and years off.

MK: It’s true.

FB: And Michael J. Fox goes…and look, he’s a wonderful guy, but goes out and pretends like if only Michael Steele and others would vote a different way, I’d be cured immediately.

MK: He did not say that. He never said anything like that.

HH: Fred Barnes and Morton Kondracke, we will continue to watch tomorrow night. I hope you guys are mixing it up on the Fox News Channel Beltway Boys at 6:00 tomorrow night. Don’t miss it.

End of interview.

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