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Capital Gang

Clinton Takes Parting Shots at Bush; How Did the President- Elect Handle His First Crisis?

Aired January 13, 2001 - 7:00 p.m. ET


ANNOUNCER: Live from Washington, THE CAPITAL GANG.

MARK SHIELDS, HOST: Welcome to a one-hour edition of CAPITAL GANG. I'm Mark Shields with the full gang: That's Al Hunt, Robert Novak, Kate O'Beirne and Margaret Carlson.

President-elect Bush lost his first Cabinet choice when Linda Chavez was found not to have disclosed having an illegal immigrant live in her home a decade ago.


LINDA CHAVEZ, FRM. LABOR SECRETARY NOMINEE: I believe that what has happened is part of what we've seen over the last several years of the politics of personal destruction.



CHAVEZ: I have decided that I am becoming a distraction and, therefore, I have asked President Bush to withdraw my name for secretary of labor.


SHIELDS: Ms. Chavez said that the Bush organization did not ask her to leave, but added this:


CHAVEZ: I've also been around this town long enough to know that when nobody is calling you and saying, hang in there, that that isn't a great signal either.



CHAVEZ: I made mistakes and I put the Bush transition team in a very difficult position.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SHIELDS: She added the AFL-CIO was very active lobbying against her confirmation. Two days later, her successor was announced: Former Deputy Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.


ELAINE CHAO, LABOR SECRETARY NOMINEE: I look forward to working with the labor and business leaders of this country. As president and CEO of United Ways America in the mid-1990s, I was privileged to work with key leaders of organized labor such as John Sweeney.


SHIELDS: AFL-CIO president John Sweeney issued this statement, quote: "The AFL-CIO believes strongly in government, labor and management working together on important common issues. We'll certainly support any nominee who shares this perspective," end quote.

Kate O'Beirne, how did the president-elect handle his first crisis?

KATE O'BEIRNE, "THE NATIONAL REVIEW": Well, the quick and unforgiving way that the Bush transition decided it would be just as well if Linda Chavez withdrew her nomination; certainly one too much to change the tone in Washington where political enemies will go after a nominee they disagree with on any grounds, even trumped up grounds.

But as Linda Chavez herself freely admits, she should have disclosed the undocumented alien living in her house years ago and it's just -- and that is a hard and fast rule: You don't get to decide if it's a potential problem, the vetters get to decide if it's a potential problem. But it's a shame that that's a capital offense, failure to do that, because Linda Chavez would have been an enormous asset to the president, his policies, to the Republican Party seeking to new voters.

So, it's really a shame and the left is responsible because there would have been nothing discloseable if the left weren't willing to dishonestly distort which was -- a charitable act into something unsavory, which it wasn't.

SHIELDS: But if it was a uncharitable act -- or charitable and distorted, why didn't the Bush folks stick with her -- Bob Novak.

ROBERT NOVAK, "THE CHICAGO SUN-TIMES": They should have -- they should have stuck with her a bit little more. The climate in town was they couldn't stick with her indefinitely because she had not told the truth to the FBI. That was -- that's one of the cardinal sins. I think that's all ridiculous. I think this whole vetting process is ridiculous.

And there's no question when John F. Kennedy was elected that this would not have been any reason to keep anybody out of office. But they've gotten into this silly business. The problem is that the AFL-CIO was against her because of her position on racial preferences because she was going to clean out some of the corruption in the labor movement, There are cases pending in the Labor Department that she would pursue, so you find a reason to get rid of her.

And what really bothers me is that Elaine Chao said in a very few words she had, I'm a friend of John Sweeney and then he comes out with this bland statement to the effect that she's OK. In other words, John Sweeney, who hates Republicans and hates conservatives has a veto power over secretary of labor.

SHIELDS: I've never known John Sweeney to be hateful man, myself, but Al Hunt, tell me, frankly, isn't Elaine Chao equally as conservative as Linda Chavez.

AL HUNT. "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": Of course she is, Mark. First of all, the Bush team deserves an A-minus for this. They basically acted the way they should have. Linda Chavez dug her own grave, Kate. You right. You can't lie. You can't lie to the FBI. You can't lie to the president who's about to appoint you.

Look, I think there's some people who have a real grievance, some prospective Cabinet members like Frank Keating and Dan Coats who were hung out to dry by George Bush, but Linda Chavez is not one of them. I think other than misrepresenting a few times, that Bush-Cheney team did this with dispatch as they ought to. Elaine Chao is Linda Chavez with more qualifications and without the edge, and, you know, with -- so I think that's a very good pick from their point of view. One is tempted to hold against her husband, Mitch McConnell, but that would be unfair to everybody.

O'BEIRNE: It's one of her chief assets.

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson, bring some sense to this discussion.


MARGARET CARLSON. "TIME" MAGAZINE: The Democrats didn't do this to Linda Chavez or the Bush administration, and labor didn't do it. She did it to herself by lying. Everybody knows you can't lie, and, in fact, thanks to Zoe Baird and other nominees actually getting past and explaining and making up for having an illegal alien doing the taxes, making them citizens and whatever, that has not torpedoed every person in public life. It was not leveling with them that did it.

And at a minimum, the secretary of labor needs to know what a job is. A job is if somebody's ironing your clothes and cleaning your floors, and picking up your laundry; what they are is an employee, and she tried to make this an act of charity, and what we found out during Zoe Baird was that lots of women were hiring these people and giving them room and board as if that was an act of charity, but also using them to do -- to take care of their domestic life.

O'BEIRNE: Zoe Baird hired and employed a maid and a chauffeur who were not documented. That is not what Linda Chavez did and we have to be very careful here. Linda Chavez lied to no one. She didn't volunteer a situation from years ago that she hoped would not be a problem.

As soon as she was asked about it, she was completely frank about it. From the very beginning, she said when the woman showed up from a battered women's shelter on my doorstep, I assumed she was illegal. I always knew that. So it was fairly disclosed, something the left was going to be exploiting.

CARLSON: Wait a minute, we call these omissions -- lies of omission when you don't tell what you're supposed to tell.

SHIELDS: Let me just ask one other thing, the point that Al raised, and that is Frank Keating, the governor of Oklahoma, went public this week to Paul Gigot of "The Wall Street Journal"

HUNT: And to "Newsweek."

SHIELDS: And to "Newsweek" and complaining -- that's where the dime was dropped on him. Just to refresh what happened here, he campaigned 25 states for George W. Bush and he, in fact, was the leading Catholic supporter of Bush's and got dropped -- passed over for attorney general. Nobody ever called him, nobody told him and I just -- it just turns around and they disclose this thing about him...

NOVAK: Oh, he did some self leaking on this thing. They were not leaking that information. But I just want to tell you...


CARLSON: It's hard to explain it.

NOVAK: Well, I don't know to explain it. I feel sorry because I like Frank Keating, but I just -- I don't want to just brush off the great victory by John Sweeney and the hacks at the AFL-CIO. There is a corrupt situation there.

They have a secretary treasurer, Richard Trumka, who took the Fifth Amendment. He is a target in a criminal case which has been hushed up. They have -- there are people I talked to in the labor movement who really welcome Linda Chavez as somebody who was going to clean out the rot at the AFL-CIO and I wonder if Elaine Chao, conservative she be, when she talks about John Sweeney as her friend has the guts to do it.

HUNT: Bob, I don't know Elaine Chao, but she's certainly far more -- she's run organizations before. All Linda Chavez has run was an illegal immigrant and a couple of newspaper columns. I want to tell you something, I mean, I have no idea whether Elaine Chao is going to be good or bad, but she's certainly is more qualified.

NOVAK: But she didn't know the labor movement like Linda Chavez, who was in the American Federation of Teachers.

CARLSON: Since when is liking labor or respecting labor and the working man a disqualification for the secretary of labor?

NOVAK: Not the labor and working man, I'm talking about the union hacks, the union bosses.

(CROSSTALK) CARLSON: John Sweeney is not a labor hack.

NOVAK: You used the word.

SHIELDS: These people are democratically elected by their membership.

NOVAK: Yes, sure they are.

SHIELDS: Sure, a lot more so than most of the organizations you're associated with. The gang of five will be back with more trouble for Bush nominees.


SHIELDS: Welcome back. Democrat Barbara Boxer of California became the first U.S. senator to announce her vote against former Senator John Ashcroft to be U.S. attorney general.


SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: I'm taking it back to what President-elect Bush said about uniting this country. You don't unite this country when you pick someone for your Cabinet who is so far out of the mainstream that it really divides the country.


SHIELDS: Democratic senators expressed concern about Senator Ashcroft's 1999 commencement address at Bob Jones University.


JOHN ASHCROFT, ATTORNEY GENERAL NOMINEE: I thank God for this institution and for you, who recognize and commit yourselves to the proposition that we were so created, and that to live with respect to the creator promise us the greatest potential as a nation and as individuals.


SHIELDS: Critics focused on whether the attorney general designate would enforce laws that he opposes.


SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT), JUDICIARY CHAIRMAN: It's not just simply a question of saying, I'll enforce the law. You have to pick and choose; you have to make the decision, which laws get emphasized and which don't.



SEN. JIM JEFFORDS (R), VERMONT: I have faith that he understands his role is just to enforce. It's not to try to expand or create the law.



GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: I had a good long talk with John about civil rights laws. This is a good man. He's got a good heart.


SHIELDS: Al Hunt, will John Ashcroft go the way of Linda Chavez?

HUNT: Mark, as of today he would be confirmed, but as many as 40 Democrats, I think, would vote against him and there's still some more time to go. John Ashcroft has a problem. There are two John Ashcrofts. One is the private man where he's devoutly pious; a man committed to his faith, highly moral and then there's the secular politician who not only has some extreme views, but plays very loose with the truth sometimes.

Ronnie White, the former Missouri Supreme Court justice who John Ashcroft engineered the defeat of a year or two ago, is going to testify against him, and it's going to point out, I think, that Ashcroft really badly misled his colleagues. He said white was pro- criminal. He said that White voted against -- he dissented in the death penalty cases more than any other member of that court. Both of those are absolutely untrue.

He also -- I don't think's a problem with the substance of what he said at Bob Jones, but when John Ashcroft says I had no idea it was anti-black and anti-Catholic -- I'm sorry, that strikes me as a bit of a reach and I think he also is going to get in some trouble because we are going find out that he enormously exaggerated his ties to Mel Carnahan, his bitter rival. The day after he died he went to the will of the Senate and said we agree on some important issues like education, which the Carnahan family still deeply resents.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak, is John Ashcroft in trouble?

NOVAK: I don't -- I can't imagine it, but I just have to answer what Al said because the reason that there is this left wing assault on John Ashcroft has nothing to do with Ronnie White; has nothing to do what he said about Mel Carnahan; has nothing to do with his address at Bob Jones University. My goodness. So many conservatives gave addresses and got degrees from Bob Jones University.

It is a fact that the left wing cabal made a decision that anybody they decided really believed in conservative principles, they were going to attack, and this is -- a particularly the Justice Department.

After eight years of Janet Reno there is so much rotten there that they are scared to death of Ashcroft. So, this is a plot, and I just can't -- I have not -- I talked to Arlen Specter last week; I talked to Senator Jeffords, these liberal Republicans are not sucked in by it, and I don't think they will be.

SHIELDS: Margaret, just in defense of conservative Republican politicians, George W. Bush apologized publicly to the Cardinal Archbishop of New York, John O'Connor for not having stood up and criticized Bob Jones University when he was there for you calling the pope the Antichrist and for calling the Catholic church a Satanic cult. So, not all conservative presidents just blithely accepted the blessings of Bob Jones University. George Bush had the courage.

CARLSON: Now that John Ashcroft knows things about Bob Jones that he didn't know before, is he going to do what George Bush has done? We haven't heard that yet and there's an opportunity at the hearings. The --- you find rot at the Justice Department and in the labor movement. Rot everywhere, rot probably on this panel if you look deep enough.

NOVAK: Definitely on this panel.

CARLSON: Yes, let's hire somebody to clean this place out.

NOVAK: Thanks, Margaret.


SHIELDS: I'll tell you where to start.

CARLSON: I feel safe. The hearings -- the standard that even Senator Feingold set out at the beginning of the discussion of Ashcroft was, will he enforce the laws on the books at the Justice Department? Well, you know what the answer will be? Yes. But it's a kind of kabuki hearing because these are many of the laws on gays and about gun control and abortion and civil rights are things that he's criticized and denounced.

And so he is going to have to come along and say, well, I will do that, and I think Leahy was closer to the point where he says, the attorney general has a lot of discretion on what he does; how he interprets the law; what he emphasizes; the U.S. attorneys he appoints and these are considerations there. But you know, his extremism is washed away to a large extent by the fact that he's a member of the club, and I still say he makes it.

O'BEIRNE: He's not being treated too fairly by his fellow members of this club. Look, the left doesn't understand the party is over. We have a new president now. They're not afraid John Ashcroft's not going to enforce the law at the Justice Department. I agree with Bob, they're afraid he is going to enforce the law at the Justice Department.

And his colleagues in the Senate are doing the smarmy thing. They all go on TV and say, I served with John Ashcroft. I know him to be a man of honor and integrity, which is true about John Ashcroft. However, I worry he's not going to uphold the law.

Well, that means he's going to violate his oath of office. Men of integrity don't violate their oath of office. And anybody who's doing it on the grounds of abortion -- he shares that with millions of faithful Catholics. They are now adopting a religion test for office that practicing faithful Catholics need not apply for attorney general because they oppose current abortion on demand laws. I don't think they want to do that.

NOVAK: And how can Barbara Boxer talk about somebody not in the mainstream being named to attorney general? If there's anybody out of the mainstream of American life, it's Barbara Boxer.


SHIELDS: Let me just get one thing straight...


HUNT: Let me just ask you guys this, if they had appointed -- if Al Gore had won; if that recount had continued in Florida Al Gore had won and appointed Barney Frank or John Conyers as attorney general, I can hear you two right now. You would hardly say, well, I'm sorry. He's entitled to his -- his is entitled to his...

NOVAK: Absolutely. Absolutely.

SHIELDS: Let me just get two quick points. First of all, why is it fair for all Republicans senators to line up before the hearings for John Ashcroft and any Democrat who says anything negative about is somehow supposed to wait until all the hearings are done?

NOVAK: Because -- you want to hear the answer to that?

SHIELDS: That's the first question. The second question is John Ashcroft's certainly opposed presidential nominees on ideological grounds...

NOVAK: Not Cabinet members. Not Cabinet members.

SHIELDS: ... Henry Foster as surgeon general, David Satcher as attorney general...

NOVAK: Do you want answers?


SHIELDS: No, because we don't have time, but...

NOVAK: Wait a minute, you ask a question; you have to get an answer. He appointed -- he opposed no Cabinet members, and they line up for him because there's no reason to be against him for Democrat or Republican.

HUNT: He opposed judges and assistant attorney generals.

NOVAK: No Cabinet members, Al. There's a difference.

HUNT: Department of Justice. There's not... SHIELDS: He was not here when Bill Clinton was elected president, Bob, if you want to go back and check. Next on CAPITAL GANG, a Confederate sympathizer at Interior. Really?


SHIELDS: Welcome back. Secretary of the Interior-designate Gale Norton, under attack by environmentalists, came under new fire for a 1966 speech in which she said the outcome of the Civil War undermined states' rights. She said, quote: "We certainly had bad facts in that case where we were defending state sovereignty by defending slavery. But we lost too much," end quote.


BUSH: She in no way, shape or form was talking about any value to slavery. And you know what happens in this town is the voices of the special interests like to tear people down.


SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson, is Gale Norton in trouble?

CARLSON: Well, that was very unfortunate turn of phrase. I mean it's not as if she's pro-Confederacy, but to treat the Civil War slavery as a set of bad facts would be like saying the Holocaust was a set of bad facts, so we aren't going to have, you know, German engineering.

But, you know, she's probably not in trouble because the -- Bob and his ilk have set up this thing where you don't get to challenge Cabinet secretaries. It's very bad sportsmanship, so we may not have a good go at her.

But in fact, you know, John Ashcroft may damage the Constitution. She's going to do a lot of damage to the planet if she gets a chance. She is so anti-environment, pro-multiple use. She defended the Lead Paint Association. She had this -- formed an organization with an -- a sweet environmental name, but it was backed by the Chlorine Chemical Council, The Coal Council, the Chemical Manufacturers Council and it was to be against the environmentalists.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak.

NOVAK: It's the same old stuff we have with the other two. You're not worried about what she said about the Civil War, what you're worried about is she's for private property. That's what it is. It's a pattern. Can't you admit it, I mean as a reporter, that they take these people and they say we can't oppose it on ideology, so we find out some stupid thing that they said four years ago.

CARLSON: Mark, excuse me I said, no, they can't oppose her on those grounds.

SHIELDS: That's right.

HUNT: Is it the cabal that does that?

SHIELDS: Who does it?

NOVAK: The cabal.

SHIELDS: Al, I want to get one point straight. John Ashcroft in his brief presidential campaign, his central planning was a $4 billion tax cut. That's the reason Novak likes him.

NOVAK: There's a lot of reasons I like him.

HUNT: As the only member of this panel that was born in the South and spent part of my growing up in the South, I'm confused by this infatuation of some of these Yankee right-wingers have with the Confederacy. I just don't understand it.

I mean, the issue wasn't sovereignty. The issue, of course, was slavery. You know, Gale Norton gave this speech to a bunch of right wing activists in Vail, Colorado, and said some other pretty horrendous things. She said, for instance, she complained that the Americans for Disabilities Acts had forced the building of what she called an ugly ramp in the state capitol.

And I spoke to Ms. Norton's chief aide yesterday, and she really did, you know, assure me and I was convinced this was not bigotry. This was maybe carelessness and -- but I think Ms. Norton's is going confirmed and she better be a little bit less -- she'd better be more careful in the future.

SHIELDS: Kate, rebuttal.

O'BEIRNE: This is another exercise in character assassination. She made the perfectly reasonable point that when the important principle of state sovereignty was used to defend the grotesque institution of slavery, the cause of state sovereignty was damaged.

People don't oppose Gale Norton because she's not environmentalist. She is, but she's a free market environmentalist and she actually broke new law by suing the federal government, among the largest polluters in the country, forcing them to abide by Colorado's laws. But she believes in private property and she believes she can protect the environment without choking the economy and it's a fabulous opportunity for her at the federal level to put that into place.

SHIELDS: Last word, Kate O'Beirne. We'll be back with THE CAPITAL GANG's view on another troubled presidential nominee; this one eight years ago.


SHIELDS: Welcome back. Eight years ago, President-elect Bill Clinton's first choice to be attorney general, Zoe Baird, was in trouble over an illegal immigrant nanny problem.

On January 16, 1993, this is what your CAPITAL GANG had to say about it.


MONA CHAREN, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I think her offense is actually pretty minor, but I think she is not going to get a pass on this. Why? Because this city has become poisoned by the blood lust of the Democrats sicking special prosecutors on everybody that they can possibly touch, and so I think the Republicans are now going to say, tit for tat. They're going to go after her.

HUNT: It seems to me that the Republicans have been pussycats. I don't think the Zoe Baird thing is nearly as serious as Ron Brown's ethical questions or Mickey Kantor's coming up as trade representative. The Republicans have really rolled over on these, Bob.

NOVAK: I think it's a ridiculous offense, saying that she had an illegal alien. All of Al's high-tone social friends have illegals. I'm sure Al doesn't, because he's law-abiding, but I will tell you this, that the problem with Zoe Baird is not that she had some maid from some Third World country, it's because she isn't qualified to be attorney general.



MARGARET WARNER, "NEWSWEEK": One of the things that bothered me a little bit about the Zoe Baird story is her story saying, well, gee, I didn't know I was supposed to pay Social Security. My husband handled it. We hired a lawyer. He said it was OK. Most immigration experts say there's no question what the law is, and I just thought that seemed a little odd.


SHIELDS: That young Bob Novak that we just saw -- Bob, you were really wrong about Zoe Baird, weren't you?

NOVAK: The only thing I was wrong about was I thought she would survive. I was right about everything else. It was a ridiculous reason for not making somebody attorney general. Number two, she was not qualified to be attorney general.

What I didn't know is that the alternative would be the worst attorney general in the history -- in the history of the United States in Janet Reno, who has been a disgrace. So I would say forgive me, Zoe. You were not qualified, but we wish you had been there the last eight years.

HUNT: I thought I heard Bob Novak come out against Zoe Baird because she wasn't qualified. I -- you know....

SHIELDS: Yes, he did say that.

HUNT: Now we have a new rule on Cabinet members. I'm glad John Ashcroft isn't subjected to the same standard, Mark.


SHIELDS: That's right.

O'BEIRNE: The rule was always are they fit for the office...

SHIELDS: And John Ashcroft was not.

O'BEIRNE: But you were right. Janet Reno was in the wings, little did you Bob, know good Zoe Baird would look.


SHIELDS: Look at this test. It's not ideological. It was ideological, Bob.

NOVAK: I don't think Zoe Baird had the ideology. I think she's just unqualified.

SHIELDS: Unqualified, I see.

CARLSON: But it was Clinton's choice, and so therefore he should get it. Didn't you say that earlier in the show?

SHIELDS: He did.

NOVAK: That was not ideological.

SHIELDS: Consistency, Margaret.

HUNT: Can we disassociate ourselves with comments about Janet Reno, please?

SHIELDS: Yes, please. We'll be back to continue this one-hour edition of CAPITAL GANG with the Rumsfeld-Cheney combo; Bill Clinton's long good-bye and our outrages of the week, all after a check of the hour's top news.


SHIELDS: Welcome back to the second half of CAPITAL GANG. I'm Mark Shields, with Al Hunt, Robert Novak, and Kate O'Beirne and Margaret Carlson.

CARLSON: Thanks, Mark. I'm still here.

SHIELDS: I want to give you separate billing. It's a joy, Margaret, to have you hear.

CARLSON: I stuck around the second half.

SHIELDS: It's always problematic, Margaret. We don't know if she's going to be here for the second half. Donald Rumsfeld, nominated for his second tour as secretary of defense, was questioned at his confirmation hearing about a 1971 audio tape in which President Nixon made offensive statements about African-Americans, and his counselor, Don Rumsfeld, appeared to give his assent.


DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY NOMINEE: I did not then and I do not now agree with the offensive and wrong characterizations, and I think it's unfortunate it comes up, because it can -- it's not fair and it can cause pain to people to read that type of thing.


SHIELDS: He also came out for a full national missile defense.


RUMSFELD: We need to ensure that we will be able to develop and deploy and operate and support a highly effective force capable of deterring and defending against new threats.


SHIELDS: The 68-year-old Rumsfeld's government resume includes member of Congress; head of the poverty program; Cabinet-level counselor; ambassador to NATO; White House chief of staff; secretary of defense. Vice President-elect Dick Cheney was Rumsfeld's own chief of staff 32 years ago. Bob Novak, is the Rumsfeld-Cheney combo taking over this town and the Bush administration?

NOVAK: Well, they're very, very powerful. A lot of people were saying Dick Cheney was going to run everything, but nobody runs Don Rumsfeld. He was a very knowledgeable person. He was a great patriot in the Ford administration, undermining Henry Kissinger's schemes on arms control and so we -- all patriots all owe him a great favor.

You know, it looked as though General Colin Powell, when he was announced as secretary of the state, was going to run the whole government, particularly the secretary of defense and he sent -- about two weeks ago he sent his old friend Richard Armitage (ph) over to be interviewed with Rumsfeld as deputy secretary of defense.

Rumsfeld said no. Instead, Mr, Armitage is going to be deputy secretary of state, but that was a very important call because it means that Colin Powell may run the State Department, but he's not going to run the Pentagon.

SHIELDS: Kate, is that right?

O'BEIRNE: You know, remember when Bill Clinton held one of his first Cabinet meetings out of Camp David for an encounter session for his new Cabinet secretaries? Yes. You are not going to -- now the experienced grown-ups are here. Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld are not going to share their inner child with their fellow Cabinet members, and I think it's about time. It's so reassuring to have grown-ups back in charge.

SHIELDS: Well, I say this about grown-ups. Bob Woodward, the Pulitzer Prize winning assistant editor of "The Washington Post," had a devastating piece yesterday in "The Washington Post" holding Don Rumsfeld castigating, denouncing, showing total contempt for George Bush Senior; denouncing Gerry Ford; denouncing Henry Kissinger, denouncing Dick Cheney. I mean, it was really -- now, this is a grown-up. I mean -- you know, I always thought he was a grown up, but boy, I've got to tell you, there...

O'BEIRNE: These are his disagreements with people 30 years ago.

SHIELDS: Disagreement? He trashes George Bush as a lightweight of no convictions; no meaning. Go ahead.

CARLSON: But Mark, after reading that and reading what Rumsfeld thought about George Bush Senior, we have evidence that George Bush -- George W. Bush is his own man for appointing Rumsfeld. Certainly, the elder George Bush wouldn't have wanted Rumsfeld to get the job again after that thing.

What we won't see is -- we may not see it out in the open, but there will be tension between Cheney, Rumsfeld and Powell if, you know, the isolationism and the national -- the Star Wars system. Powell is -- seems to be lukewarm on that, has quieted down about it. Rumsfeld is very much for it. Cheney may be a tiebreaker in some of these things, but Cheney is running everything. I mean, he doesn't is a portfolio. He has the job and he's there in the White House.


CARLSON: But President-elect Bush is very much for a missile defense system. So, the tie is broken I guess.


HUNT: This is one tough customer. A friend of mine saw Nelson Rockefeller shortly before Rocky died and Rocky spent the whole conversation -- was talking about foundations, supposedly, and Rocky spent the whole time railing about how Don Rumsfeld had done him in.

O'BEIRNE: Nelson Rockefeller? It gets better and better, Al.

HUNT: I first met Don Rumsfeld or first covered him when he was the wage and price control czar. People forget that and he did that job with great vigor. I tell you what else I remember about this guy. He was considered a moderate Republican then. He very early on saw the handwriting and he saw the party was moving to the right and he began his rightward march and there's nothing that's moderate about him today.

He is one smart; he is ruthless and he is one of the great bureaucratic infighters of all time. I agree with Bob. There will be tension with Powell and I would bet on Don Rumsfeld -- Colin Powell may well have to use the only weapon he's going to have in that fight, which is the threat to resign. Final point...

NOVAK: Didn't work with Al Haig.

HUNT: Final point -- Colin Powell has a little bit more leverage. Final point I make is there will be a Cheney-Rumsfeld alliance unless Dick Cheney gets in the way.

SHIELDS: That's what I was going to ask. I was going to ask that because, quite frankly, I mean, he took a hit on this -- the ignominious thing with Richard Nixon, the seeming to be a toady and agreeing with Richard Nixon in those lines.

NOVAK: Well, Bob Woodward's column was interesting, but I don't think it's going to have much more lasting power than most of the things we all write. I think this happened long ago. You see, Don Rumsfeld wanted to run for president in 1988, along with a lot of other people, and he thought, as practically all the others felt, that they were a lot smarter and a lot better than George Bush Senior, and they probably were. I think Don Rumsfeld would have made a better president than George Bush and he was probably venting off steam, but that all happened a long time ago and it's of not very much importance right.

SHIELDS: Well, Bob, thank you very much. It's a joy to be...

CARLSON: Don't you wonder if he's such a tough guy -- if Rumsfeld is such a tough guy why he didn't say something when President Nixon said that scurrilous remark?


NOVAK: Well, I tell you, that is very tough. You know, you're sitting there -- how old was he? About 33 or something like that and this gay is ranting and raving and he's grunting. I feel sorry -- what are you going to say? You're wrong, Nixon.

HUNT: Well, also, this is an incredibly ambitious man. He wasn't going to do anything to impede his ambition.

SHIELDS: Well, I will say this: It's good to have somebody in this who's actually been on active duty; who's a Navy pilot and he's worn the uniform of his country, and that's refreshing, if not unique, Isn't it? Thanks, Bob.

Next on CAPITAL GANG, continuing Bill Clinton's farewell tour.


SHIELDS: Welcome back.

President Clinton's farewell tour continued with remarks about the last election; first in Chicago and the next day, here in Washington.


WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They thought the election was over, the Republicans did. By the time it was over, our candidate had won the popular vote, and the only way they could win the election was to stop the voting in Florida.


CLINTON: They have this unusual system in Washington state. They actually count all the votes. And when they were counted, she was the senator for Washington.


SHIELDS: Yesterday, the president denied his remarks were aimed at his successor.


CLINTON: I did not call into question his legitimacy. I was having a good old-fashioned little bit of fun with Bill Daley and his brother and his friends and my friends in Chicago.


SHIELDS: President Clinton returned to Dover, New Hampshire to repeat what he said there nine years ago to spark his 1992 comeback.


CLINTON: And don't forget, even though I won't be president, I'll always be with you until the last dog dies.


SHIELDS: The CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll gives a 65 percent approval rating to President Clinton. Still, 51 percent of Americans say they are glad he is leaving, and two-thirds say they will remember him mainly for his scandals. Al, is this a memorable farewell tour by the president?

HUNT: It's a victory lap that will drive Kate and Bob crazy, but he is leaving office as the most popular outgoing president of modern time. That Dover, New Hampshire appearance really brought back some vivid memories, Mark. I was the bureau chief then, and I assigned and edited the story that actually lost Bill Clinton the New Hampshire primary in 1992 about how he evaded the draft. First time that had come back, and Clinton started to sink like a rock.

And he handled it greatly. What he said was, with the guidance of Paul Begala and James Carville, he set a new predicate. He said, what I've got to do; I've got to finish second in New Hampshire.

Now, up until that point, no man had ever been elected president who had lost the New Hampshire primary. But Clinton did it so artfully. He did finish second, and, of course, he went on to become president, and I'll tell you what it showed -- what we learned back then is whatever you think of him, and some people on this panel are less than fond of him, he is one of the most gifted and resilient politicians any of us will ever see.

O'BEIRNE: Let me hasten to say this in his favor: For those of us with a low opinion of Bill Clinton, he never disappoints. So, sure enough, in this last week -- first of all, one of his final lies. Of course he was questioning the legitimacy of his successor, which a president has never done.

But having so demeaned his office and diminished the presidency, he's going to clearly go out the way he came. In his tour in New Hampshire, what he was saying to those New Hampshire voters was, following Gennifer Flowers and draft dodging revelations; I lied about it, and you bought it and I want to really thank you.

SHIELDS: Now, I have to ask you, he has 65 percent approval for the job he's done, Bob? Are the American people bamboozled? Are they fools? Are they perceptive?

O'BEIRNE: They share my opinion.

NOVAK: They say they think of him for his scandals. They think things...

SHIELDS: No, they give him 65 percent approval for the job he is doing.

NOVAK: Can I answer the question, please? I'd like to answer it without being interrupted.


SHIELDS: I was hoping you would answer the question I asked.

NOVAK: I said they -- two-third of them think of -- they remember him for his scandals. They think the country is doing OK. Ike was -- you say, oh, wonderful, wonderful. Ike was about the same. It was 65 percent, margin of error. Reagan was 63 percent. Two-term president usually gets a good rating.

I think this is the smarmiest exit by any president in my time. I mean, you smile, Al, you may think it's fun to have a president going around and making a fool of himself until the last dog dies. And I'll you this, he lied again when he said that he was just having fun with Bill Daley and his pals, because the very next day at a luncheon for Max Baucus, the senator from Minnesota -- from Montana, he said exactly the same thing.

And he's -- I mean, the idea of questioning the legitimacy -- I'll tell you he wants to do? He wants to be the shadow Democratic president for the next four years. That's why he's got this millionaires house in Washington and poor Al Gore is just going to be on Survivor's Island -- is that what they call it? Temptation island.

HUNT: Margaret, can I just say -- Can you imagine how happy Bill Clinton is right now to see how upset he's got Bob Novak? It's made his week

CARLSON: And Bob said one right thing, he's going to be the shadow president. Al Gore will -- has kind of disappeared. I mean, it's not -- we call it a farewell tour. It's not a farewell tour because he's not going anywhere. It's going to take a mighty big hook to get him off stage, and I don't know anybody who's going to be able do it.

You know, he's moving to a big house. He's getting a salary hike. He put his wife in the Senate and his own operative in the Democratic National Committee. So, he's certainly the leader of his party. I have a suggestion for George W. Bush -- the hook? Give him a pardon, and make him an envoy to the Middle East. He -- you don't want Clinton in the docket. Clinton in the docket is Clinton on the news every night.

NOVAK: I think you're half right. I think he should give both the president -- President Clinton and Senator Clinton both pardons. Don't you think that would be a good thing?

HUNT: What are you going to pardon Senator Clinton for?


NOVAK: Well, neither of one them have been indicted, but they ought to have been.


SHIELDS: You want to give pardons? What about Michael Milken? What do you want to with him? I mean, the man has stole a billion dollar.

NOVAK: He didn't still any money. What he was railroaded by the crooks in Janet Reno's Justice Department.


CARLSON: Mike should get a Nobel Prize for economics for discovering junk bonds.

SHIELDS: Let me offer my insight, I think there's a recognition that Bill Clinton was a superb president. He did a superb job that the country did very well under him.

NOVAK: Are you proud him?

SHIELDS: Am I proud of him? No, I'm not proud of him because I think the sadness of what might have been; the sadness of promises unfulfilled; the sadness of disappointment. But I think Margaret put her finger on something very important, which I think is terrifying for Democrats, and that is he's got to get off the stage and he can't be the face of the Democratic Party.

O'BEIRNE: He will be. That is a problem.

SHIELDS: That's a real problem for the Democrats, make no mistake about it. But, I mean, when you have the lowest unemployment for Latinos and African-Americans in the history of the United States; when you have the longest period of sustained growth, you just can't say it all happened when Ronald Reagan was in because of Ronald Reagan's genius.


O'BEIRNE: No, a Republican Congress helped. A Republican helped. Thank you, Al.

NOVAK: You know the Democratic Party well, let me just think what do you think of this president, for the first time any president going out dictating the Democratic National Chairman, the national chairman of his party and putting in a notorious Washington fixer, Terry McAuliffe.


SHIELDS: I though you were talking about Haley Barbour, I'm sorry?

HUNT: You consider Haley Barbour a fixer?

NOVAK: Wait a minute.

O'BEIRNE: Haley Barbour competed for the post.

NOVAK: He completed for the post.

HUNT: But is he a fixer?


NOVAK: Wait a minute. If I could talk while you're interrupting, we're not talking about Haley Barbour, we're talking about Terry McAuliffe, putting this fixer in who is just a big money writer. He has been involved in this teamster criminal scandal which is lying buried in the Justice Department.


SHIELDS: Let's get one thing straight, who elected Jim Gilmore president?

NOVAK: I'm not talking about Jim Gilmore.

HUNT: You're just ad hominem attacking -- I mean, Haley Barber was almost indicted by the Justice Department. He is every bit as much of a fixer as you call Terry McAuliffe, but all I'm asking you is why you call one a big money fixer and the other a shrewd savvy insider? I would say that's different standards based on party.

NOVAK: I will tell you what the difference is, since you asked the difference, it is that Haley Barbour is a lobbyist. There are a lot of lobbyists in town. Terry McAuliffe is a guy who has corrupt financial deals with labor.

CARLSON: Bob, you cannot...

(CROSSTALK) HUNT: The difference is Haley Barbour's the source and Terry McAuliffe is not. That's the difference.

SHIELDS: And I'll say in defense of Terry McAuliffe, you know, he's raised a lot of money politically. Maybe you don't like it. It's the first time I've ever heard you critical of anybody who raises and makes money. The first time, because you don't like his politics, and that's the game.

CARLSON: You should be praising Terry McAuliffe...

HUNT: Your income bracket.

NOVAK: All of you should be ashamed of yourself.

SHIELDS: Time out. Time out. You go to your room. The gang of five will be back with the outrage of the week.


SHIELDS: There's an old political axiom that holds in every fight you're ever in, there's always somebody on your side you wish devoutly was on the other side. Exhibit A for this axiom is Patricia Ireland, the president of NOW, who said of former senator John Ashcroft, quote: "He needs constitutional Viagra. He's soft on the right to free speech," end quote.

By such cheap, and yes, sexist snideness, Ms. Patricia Ireland may help her own direct-mail fund raising, but she hurts anybody's case against John Ashcroft -- Bob Novak.

NOVAK: When Ronald Reagan was elected, his defeated predecessor, Jimmy Carter, graciously provided Air Force planes to take him back and forth to Washington. Not Bill Clinton. He denied President-elect Bush Air Force planes until his final trip here next week. The new president has used American Airlines charters. Oddly, the Secret Service insisted that first lady Hillary Clinton couldn't go commercial, but had -- for security reasons, had to campaign last year in Air Force planes, costing taxpayers $4.5 million.

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson.

CARLSON: Mark, for his coronation, George Bush will bring the capital to a grinding halt next Thursday. He's closing three bridges to have his inaugural concert, starring Ricky Martin, at the Lincoln Memorial midday instead of in the evening as is usual case. He's sending federal workers home at noon at a cost of $33 million. Why? To clear the evening for three fund raisers. We haven't seen this kind of brazenness since Bush's co-chair called off the vote in Florida. Remember the last guy who shut down the government? Newt? Newt who? He's in private practice now.

SHIELDS: Kate O'Beirne.

O'BEIRNE: This week the Army announced its new slogan. No more "Be all that you can be." It's now "an Army of one." The Pentagon explains it wants to appeal to the individualism of today's youth.

But young people are naturally idealistic, especially open to self-sacrifice as the price of admission to something bigger than themselves. The Marine Corps, which has resisted feminization and continues to make its enlistment quotas, well understands that the clear call for "a few good men" is much more powerful than the Army's psychobabble.


HUNT: Mark, President Clinton is about to pardon convicted securities swindler Michael Milken. That's OK. Milken has helped a lot of people in need since getting out of jail. But it's tainted because the catalyst was Ron Burkle, one of Clinton's big soft money contributors.

Simultaneously, the Bush inaugural is being financed in part by the likes of Microsoft, who wants the new administration to drop the antitrust suit against it; and Philip Morris, who wants it to drop the tobacco suit. Both are forking over $100,000. Some things never change.

SHIELDS: This is Mark Shields saying good night for THE CAPITAL GANG.

Next on CNN: "WORLDVIEW" reports on Ronald Reagan's surgery.



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