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How Should Congress Handle Judiciary Appointments?; DeLay Sticks to Conservative Guns; Holbrooke Addresses U.N.-U.S. Relationship

Aired May 12, 2001 - 19:00   ET



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

President Bush sent to the Senate the first batch of what will be more than 100 federal judicial nominations: 11 nominees for the appellate bench.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have seen political battles played out in committee hearings. Battles that have little to do with the merits of the person sitting before the committee. I urge Senators of both parties to rise above the bitterness of the past, to provide a fair hearing, and a prompt vote to every nominee.


SHIELDS: Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee expressed reservations about Mr. Bush's choices.


SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: If they're picked because of their ideology and the direction they want to bring the court, they're not going to be confirmed.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D-NY), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: It certainly has a conservative cast, but not every nominee is conservative. I would hope that this is not the best we're going to see.


SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson, will these judges be confirmed, or does this signal the opening salvo in a long ideological war?

MARGARET CARLSON, "TIME MAGAZINE": I think -- I suspect most of the them -- I suspect they will be confirmed because some of the hard right choices weren't in this batch. That was very wise of Bush to hold back on those. But there will be some ideological skirmishes because they are conservative. And it is kind of bulking up the court. Where Bush will be able to leave an imprint where in the legislature which is so even divided he may not be able to.

The idea though that you know you can put your own judges on is a good one. And I think he's going to get a lot of it. But to say that rancor should end now after Orrin Hatch and his colleagues managed to block one way or another 167 Clinton appointees, which is why we have 100 vacancies for him fill.

SHIELDS: Kate O'Beirne.

KATE O'BEIRNE, "NATIONAL REVIEW": Orrin Hatch and his colleagues approved 377 Clinton judges, which is pretty much what the record was for Ronald Reagan, and that's how many Ronald Reagan got. In Clinton's first two years he got 128 judges the first few years of the Republican Senate, mostly unanimously.

So it's going to be a tough case to make I think for them. But they are determined to make the case because the left wing of the Democrat Party knows that when you're talking about the federal bench you're playing for keeps. These are lifetime appointments. They've gotten used to left, to winning things from elected federal judges they can't win from legislatures so it matters a lot.

Fundamentally, the whole fight is over abortion. They don't want anybody on any bench who doesn't agree that woman ought to have an abortion -- nine months for any reason. So fundamentally, it's about abortion.

But I don't the words "conservative judge" are dirty words. I think most people want conservative judges on the bench rather than liberal judges, especially when you understand that what that means is they believe that it's not up to them to make the law. It's up to the legislature to make the law. It's only up to them to interpret. I think the first list is strong enough that I suspect he will get them.

SHIELDS: Speaking of things you can't win the legislature or win in the elections, the presidency is one of those things that the Republicans won because they had judges, five to four. And the Elian Gonzelez. I think people are now more aware -- more keenly aware of what judges do and the importance they have, Bob.

ROBERT NOVAK, "CHICAGO SUN-TIMES": This going to be a terrific fight. Al Hunt for once was exactly correct in his column a couple weeks ago when he said that this was going to be in many ways a more important fight than the tax cut fight. It's going to extend for a long time. What kind of judiciary this is going to be.

These were -- this was an excellent bunch of lawyers they put up there. John Roberts of -- for the D.C. circuit and Professor McConnell at the University of Utah are great appellate lawyers. Miguel Estrada, a 40-year-old Honduran immigrant; law partner of the solicitor general-designate Ted Olson for the D.C. circuit.

These are very conservative judges and they -- this has got to be a decision -- whether they are going to the -- the left-wing forces, People for the American Way, the feminist groups are going to go after these people on the grounds that they're pro-choice. I think they're going to go after some of them.

And the thing that amazed me is the Congressman Chris Cox, for the first time, is referred to as a far-right winger who wasn't in the first trotch (ph). Please! Chris Cox, a right-winger?


AL HUNT, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": Well, I think most of these -- probably all of these judges will be confirmed. But I disagree with my friend Kate; the Republicans are trying to change the rules. They rejected three times -- three times as many Clinton nominees as Reagan nominees, you didn't -- three times: 167 compared to 55 or some. That's a huge difference.

And Mark, I'll give you an example of the sort of games they played before. Bob mentioned John Roberts; you're right, a very distinguished judge, law clerk to William Rehnquist, senior partner in Hogan and Hartson. Orrin Hatch says we're going to have a hearing in two or three weeks coming.

There's a guy named Allen Snyder, who was nominated by Bill Clinton September of 1999, law clerk to Justice Rehnquist, senior partner at Hogan and Hartson -- 231 days before they held a hearing, and they never acted on it. They were trying to hold these seats vacant until a Republican got in as president. The Democrats, I think, ought to bring tough -- to a lot of these nominees.

NOVAK: Can I ask you a question, Al? Who -- where were there more judges left unconfirmed -- when Clinton took over from George Bush Sr., or when George Bush Jr. took over from Clinton? Which one was it?

HUNT: Bob, there were 167. Let me just explain this to you. I mean, you know, if you want to play games with numbers, here, play a Louis Farrakhan number, that's terrific.

But in fact, what it was is there were three times as many as during Reagan and there were about four times as many as during Bush, although it was only one Bush term.

NOVAK: There were more judges unconfirmed and waiting to be considered by the Senate when Clinton took over.

CARLSON: This arcane blue-slipping process, I think is going to be something we're going to be discussing for a while, when Orrin Hatch gave it to any Senator, practically, now it's being withdrawn from home-state senators to use against judges within their own states.


SHIELDS: Jesse Helms from North Carolina, there will be a battle there; there's no question about it. (CROSSTALK)

HUNT: ... nominees to that circuit court for eight years because he didn't get his guy before -- John Edwards is doing the same thing, and somehow we're told it's different. It's not different.

CARLSON: Yes, it's not fair play now, and it wasn't before.

SHIELDS: Jesse Helms did say, I guess he's playing the same game I played. I mean, to Senator Helms' credit, he's acknowledged that Senator Edwards is just following the suit laid down by Senator Helms.

The GANG of five will be back with Republicans versus Republicans on education.


SHIELDS: Welcome back.

Is the Senate prepared to pass a final version of the budget? The democratic leader on education complained that Republicans have removed money from the schools.


SEN. THEODORE KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Don't insult our intelligence by maintaining that that is a commitment. Even at $6 billion it isn't. It just isn't there. It's a sham!


SHIELDS: The education bill passed by the House committee and supported by President Bush was opposed by conservatives, including a former Republican secretary of education.


BILL BENNETT, FORMER SECRETARY OF EDUCATION: I'm very disappointed. What I'm disappointed in is is that this president has deviated from his own plan. Three major sinews of this proposal have been eviscerated; they're gone. What's been added on is a ton of money. We have a Teddy Kennedy-Al Gore kind of bill.


SHIELDS: Bob Novak: Who is right here, Ted Kennedy or Bill Bennett?

NOVAK: Bill Bennett is completely right, that President Bush has capitulated to Ted Kennedy and George Miller, the mean, partisan House Democrat from California. This is a Miller-Kennedy bill; and this is a bargain that the House leadership in the -- Republican leadership in the House has taken.

They say, hey, we've got -- he's a good guy on taxes, we've got abortion, good guy on defense. He is terrible on education! This is a miserable bill; they've taken all of the good stuff out of it, and it's a bargain -- just to get a bipartisan bill, this is what he ended up with. This is the warning of bipartisanship: it means surrender and capitulation.

SHIELDS: Margaret, why did he cave -- he caved on school vouchers; why so early? He got testing in there.

CARLSON: He may have recognized, actually, the intellectual conundrum there, which is that you can't keep the public schools going, and vouchers. We haven't worked that out, we don't know how to do it. And so he chose testing over vouchers.

Now, his right wing is very upset because they didn't even want a Department of Education; now they're going to have a bigger Department of Education with lots of testing; just what they don't want.

But it's the only squabble on the right, and because of all these other things they've been given, I don't think they're going to be that noisy on it.

NOVAK: That's right; you're right.

SHIELDS: Kate, do you think it was a cave and a capitulation? And if so, what does that say about our strong, forceful president?

O'BEIRNE: Well, the White House decided that the education bill was going to be their monument to bipartisanship, and when those are the ground rules, you're going to wind up with a democratic bill. And so conservatives are bothered by that.

They don't think that the White House fought hard enough for the modest school choice proposal the president initially advanced. On the other hand, they do recognize there is not a majority for school choice in Congress. But when they look at the spending levels -- and on one hand they don't like the national testing.

I think it's true what Margaret said, this is the biggest expansion of the Federal Department of Education since it was established by Jimmy Carter. On the other hand, you're watching the Senate water down even the testing that George Bush was committed to.

The policy, to the White House on this one, doesn't matter, the politics do. They want a bipartisan win.

SHIELDS: Al Hunt, I've concluded, after several years on this show and understanding Robert Novak's syntax, whenever a Democrat is effective or forceful he becomes a mean partisan.

HUNT: A fierce partisan.

SHIELDS: A fierce partisan. George Miller and Ted Kennedy were effective, apparently, on this education bill.

HUNT: I guess he thinks a lot of those members of that House committee, a lot of the GOP members are just dumb, because that bill passed 41 to seven, Mark. And if you look -- I talked to Tim Roemer, who's a young moderate Democrat from Indiana, very active in this. And he said, look, it does -- this bill establishes standards, but there's remediation for kids who fail, as there ought to be. There is more money, but there's also more accountability. Both sides gave up something; there's not the 100,000 teachers that the Democrats want, there's not the school vouchers. I wish there was an experimental voucher program.

This is a good bill, it's an improvement. I think George Bush deserves credit, so does Ted Kennedy, George Miller and Tim Roemer.

NOVAK: Well, since you -- you weren't listening to me the first time, because I tried to explain to you that most of the rank-and-file Republicans, and certainly Republican leadership in Congress had made this deal: They're going to go along with the president.

They think it's a bad bill; they all think it's a horrible bill. They aren't taken in by the propaganda from the White House that this is a good bill. They think it's horrible, but they are making a concession. That -- they're not dumb, they're just acting, like, expedient.

Now one of other thing I've got to explain: While our friend Ted Kennedy was screaming and yelling on the floor -- because he likes to scream and yell on the floor -- the idea that this budget outline is going to hold back this massive authorization is nonsense. It's going to break right through that dike and you're going to have a huge, 22 percent increase in education spending.

HUNT: What does Bill Bennett like to do? What does Bill Bennett like to do, just sort of be a statesman, right?

CARLSON: But actually Ted Kennedy reminded me of Bob on this show. I was reminded of you on this show by Ted Kennedy, actually, fulminating.

But here's an anomaly at the heart of this, which is we have to wait and see which schools are failing and which ones need help. I can tell you tomorrow, get the help there. I mean, it's also a stalling mechanism.

NOVAK: And just more money is going to do isn't it?

CARLSON: It's going to help.

O'BEIRNE: Now it's an expensive version of the status quo. A very expensive version of the status quo. And what conservatives worry about is that by embracing this George Bush has given up a lot of ground on the education reform issue. If we've learned anything over the past 20 years, it's that, spending has increased dramatically, it doesn't matter. A third of college kids still need remdiation, 70 percent of low-income kids still can't read. We spent $120 billion on the kind of programs they're now pouring more money into, and low income kids still can't read.

So he's really given up a lot of ground on the fight over education reform.

SHIELDS: We just heard this week that Head Start and rigorous Head Start, which is advocated by the president in academic and around the court worked with kids and worked...


SHIELDS: We never want to accept any good news.


NOVAK: It's all propaganda.

HUNT: The foremost experts who really study this, like Dr. Siefert (ph) at Yale says it works, Mark. It works.

NOVAK: Dr. Novak says it doesn't work.

SHIELDS: And I'll say this: a mean partisan, Tom Delay is not.

Next on CAPITAL GANG: at the pump, gas pains for the Republicans.


SHIELDS: Welcome back.

Gasoline prices across the country move towards $3 a gallon as Vice President Cheney's energy task force prepared it's report.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not satisfied at all with what the administration is doing with regard to gas prices. I think they've ignored it so far.

BUSH: What this nation needs to do is to build more refining capacity. But the best way to make sure that people are able to deal with high energy prices is to cut taxes, is to give people more of their own money so they can meet the bills.


SHIELDS: Meanwhile, California's power shortage threatened more blackouts in the Golden State.


RICHARD CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today they've got rolling blackouts because they don't have enough electricity. They've got rising prices. They've got a whole complex of problems that are caused by relying only on conservation and not doing anything about the supply side of the equation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Clearly Vice President Cheney kind of dismissed the value of conservation. I think he really missed the boat. (END VIDEO CLIP)

SHIELDS: Al Hunt, is the Bush administration now being blamed for the energy crisis?

HUNT: What's that old saying from one of Bob's favorite presidents, "If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen." President's get blamed; of course they will.

Look, I think liberals have to rethink some of their knee-jerk opposition to increasing supply in areas like nuclear power. But Dick Cheney, as the chief cheerleader for the oil and gas industry, is just dismissive of conservation. That's bad politics and that's bad policy.

Gas prices are soaring today, not because of environmental regulations, they're soaring because they was excess capacity. They chose not to build new refineries, the industry did, and we haven't, and we've cut back on conservation. Too many SUVs, too many Novak Corvettes.

And, you know, with both "The Wall Street Journal," and a piece by Dave Wessell (ph) on the front page of "The New York Times" pointed out this week, a number of utility executives appreciate the value of conservation. It can't be conservation alone, but it's got to be part of any package.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak, Gray Davis, governor of California pointed out that in the 12 years that preceded him, all under Republican governors, not a single power entity was constructed in California.

NOVAK: A lot of finger-pointing going around.


NOVAK: And there's nothing that this administration can do to alleviate the present problems either in California or at the gas pump. The president says that the income tax is going to help. At that same press conference he dodged the question of whether a suspension of the gas tax will do it. I think that's where they're going to go eventually.

But what this is all about, Al, is its' the greenies and the people like you and your friends, is you don't want the rest of the country to enjoy themselves in the SUVs. You don't want me to enjoy myself in a Corvette. I know that you have -- I think you have not cut down the air conditioning in your mansion, but that's another matter.


SHIELDS: Bring some substance to this, Margaret.

CARLSON: You and your ilk Bob, think conservation is for sissies. There's this whole atmosphere that it's a lefty, tree- hugging thing. NOVAK: It is.

CARLSON: When, actually, if you look at the studies at the energy department you can see that in a place like Seattle, where they decided instead of building a new power plant to invest the money in new technologies and in changing people's buying habits. And they have enough capacity to run the city for 18 months, and at much lower cost and without building a new power plant. And that's all on the basis of conservation.

But you know, the administration doesn't have an energy policy. It has a drilling, and drilling like...

NOVAK: That's an energy policy.

CARLSON: ... you know drilling and building. Drilling like the dentist in "Marathon Man" -- just drill and we'll solve our problems, and it's simply not the case.

O'BEIRNE: Jimmy Carter ineffectually put on a sweater and lowered the thermostat -- cardigan and lowered the thermostat and, of course, that provided no real solution on the conservation front.

Bob's right: Liberal environmentalists won't be happy until we all drive cars that look like Fred Flintstone's. But Republicans are nervous. They're afraid George Bush will be blamed. And they're afraid they might share the blame. And nervous Republicans can picture Democrats setting up voter registration tables at gas pumps this summer. And they want the administration to say more than you did Bob that there's nothing to do in the short-term.

SHIELDS: Let me just pick up what Kate said: Republicans on the Hill are terrified. They're going home for the long Memorial Day weekend with no energy plan. They're stuck on ideology; we can't do anything. What are the words of Ari Fleischer -- the president is worried. That's -- the president is worried? I'm sorry, that's not what a leader does.

The president is vigilant. The silliest argument I've ever heard, though, the tax cut. We're going to cut taxes now so you can go to the Texaco pump and pay Exxon. I mean, come on!

NOVAK: But what immediate relief you could get is from the suspension of a gasoline tax. Suspension of the gasoline tax. You watch, I think that's where they're going to go.

SHIELDS: That's the last word. We'll be back with our "CAPITAL GANG Classic": what we said 10 years ago about one of the most fiercely contested judicial nominees in United States history, Clarence Thomas.


SHIELDS: Welcome back.

"CAPITAL GANG Classic" goes back to the autumn of 1991 on the eve of the Senate vote confirming Clarence Thomas as a Supreme Court justice after his dramatic testimony answering Anita Hill's accusations.

This is what your CAPITAL GANG said on October 12, 1991.


HUNT: I still can't say with any certainty whether Clarence Thomas is innocent or not. He was a powerful witness. I think he drew a lot of emotional appeal, but she was a very compelling witness. And despite the efforts today of Senator Specter and Hatch, who really distorted what she said, Senator Simpson who smeared her today, I don't think substantively, substance as opposed to politically, they changed one iota of what her charges were.

NOVAK: It is so blatantly unfair. This -- these were people who were trying to get a black conservative to keep a black conservative off the Court at all costs. It is a kangaroo court and to imagine, for anybody, Al, to say it's hard to know who's telling the truth, when you have uncorroborated testimony from a woman we know nothing about, against a man who has been confirmed by the Senate four previous times. I can't believe it.

PAT BUCHANAN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Mark, this is the Clarence Thomas we saw in the last 24 hours. The guy I knew in the White House -- impassioned, with courage and conviction. Does he not have a point when he says, the leakage of this stuff, the dirty character of it amounts, in part at least, to an attempting lynching of Clarence Thomas.

SHIELDS: Pat, of course he has a point, and if you'd seen the same Clarence Thomas, instead of a under wraps, pasteurized, decaffeinated version you saw in the hearings, trying to pass, trying to please the Committee, he probably would have been confirmed long before now.

Were the people out to smear him? Absolutely. But Bob, you know and I know, in any political fight you're in, there are some people on your side you wish were on the other side.


SHIELDS: Kate O'Beirne, what could be said differently about the Clarence Thomas hearings now, a decade later?

O'BEIRNE: Well, Mark, I think you could have used a woman, or at least this woman, to point out that Anita Hill was afforded far too much credibility, as women recognized. These obnoxious predators are serial offenders. We've most recently learned that with our experience with Bill Clinton. And, Anita Hill's stories about Clarence Thomas were in stark contrast to the experience of every other woman who had ever worked with him in any given office.

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson.

CARLSON: You know, I think we'll debate a long time who, you know, who was more truthful, Clarence Thomas or Anita Hill. But one thing was that the Senators behaved so badly. I don't think -- very few of -- came out of that unsmeared. I think Alan Simpson and Arlen Specter still have a lot to answer for.


NOVAK: I they did a good job. May 7 marked my 44th anniversary in Washington as a reporter. This attack, this smear job on Clarence Thomas is the very worst thing I've ever seen. He was crushed by it, and he still gets attacked by the same people who were attacking him then. In fact, he has turned out to be an exemplary Justice, a brilliant Justice, and really an adornment of the Supreme Court, whose opinions are really fabulous, and I think, I just feel bad that he had to go through this ordeal.

I hope no nominee on either side ever has to go through that again.

SHIELDS: But you listen to those hearings, Bob, and I've always said, this is one of the few times I'll return to it, I think pasteurized, homogenized. I mean, he had no opinions on anything in that testimony, and he turned out to be the most reliably conservative voice in the...

HUNT: Even more than that, Mark. He said that he didn't have any ideological agenda. He doesn't believe judges should have an ideological agenda. He didn't have any views on issues like abortion. He had a sudden epiphany when he got on the court, didn't he?

SHIELD: That's the last word, Al Hunt. We'll be back in our second half with the "Newsmaker of the Week," House Republican Whip Tom DeLay. Our look "Beyond the Beltway" with the former U.S. Ambassador to U.N. Richard Holbrooke, and the tension between the U.S. and the U.N., 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 the full GANG: Al Hunt, Robert Novak, Kate O'Beirne and Margaret Carlson.

Our "Newsmaker of the Week" is the House majority whip, the No. 3 man in the House Republican leadership, Congressman Tom DeLay of Texas.

Tom DeLay, age 54. Resident, Sugarland, Texas. Religion: Baptist. Former owner, Albo Pest Control. Served six years in Texas House of Representatives. Elected to Congress 1984, majority party whip since 1995.

Kate O'Beirne sat down with Congressman Tom DeLay earlier this week.


O'BEIRNE: Congressman DeLay, over your six years as majority whip, you've earned a reputation as being a tough partisan, and a conservative with no modifiers. How is the hammer getting along with the compassionate conservative in the White House, who wants to change the tone and work with Democrats?

REP. TOM DELAY, (R-TX), MAJORITY WHIP: OK. First of all, that, the moniker "hammer" was given to me by the media; it doesn't describe me at all. But yes, we've had a tough row to hoe in the last six years against a president that fought us every step of the way while he took credit for everything that we've done. And it's been tough, with very small margins.

But now that we have a president in the White House that reflects our principles and our values, we're able to work very well together. And it's just been a totally different, comfortable working relationship.

O'BEIRNE: You mentioned the media. Do you think the media's been fair to Washington's new majority party?

DELAY: Well, you know, we have a saying in, and actually, it is a strategy. We don't ignore the national media, but we bypass them, and have for six years. We go straight to the American people. We get our members to talking to their constituencies. And now we have the bully pulpit of a president that reflects our principles and our values.

So, hopefully, this culture, in the media and around this town, will change. It's already changing. On Clinton news network, right here, we've got two great conservatives on the network, and so, that's a start.

O'BEIRNE: Now, this week, both the House and Senate passed a budget resolution. Is that increasingly meaningless, given that they seem to know it's going to be passed, and they are violated?

DELAY: That was the old days. They were violated because you didn't have a president that wanted to bring discipline and hold us to the budget.

First of all, this budget that we passed is basically President Bush's budget. That hasn't happened since -- well, I don't even know when -- where a president has actually had his budget passed by Congress.

And this president says, I'm going to hold Congress to it. And he's going to hold us to our spending levels. He's going to insist that we cut taxes the way we said we were going to cut taxes, and we're going to pay down the debt the way we said we were going to pay down the debt. That is a fresh new tone in this town.

O'BEIRNE: A looming major issue. The White House is going to be laying out an energy strategy for, they're telling us, the long term. Is the White House doing enough to help members, Republican members who have to run for re-election in the short term, who are concerned about the energy crisis?

DELAY: Well, you might want it to have something in the short term, but frankly, there's not much you can do in the short term that would have any impact.

So, this administration understand that, and they're doing the right thing. They know what to do. They know that we've had no energy policy for the last eight years. They know that, in fact, the last administration has limited supply. They've imposed more regulations. They've been very extremist in their environmental approach. And it has caused blackouts and high prices in natural gas and gasoline. And now we have to change that.

We need conservation. We need the energy efficiency. But we also need to increase the supply. And we need to streamline regulations. And this administration is doing that. They'll announce it next week, and I'm looking forward to helping them.

O'BEIRNE: Now, the McCain-Feingold bill is pending before the House, and you've recently been quoted as saying that, as the truth about that bill becomes known, you predict people are going to be walking away from it.

You think McCain-Feingold will fail to pass the House?

DELAY: Well, I certainly hope so. I'm working very hard to see that it doesn't pass the House. This is big government regulation of our most basic freedom of speech, our freedom to assemble, and our freedom to petition our government.

They -- in this bill, they even gag groups that come together to petition their government, and tell them they can't petition the government for 60 days before an election.

But, yes. We're already seeing, as more and more members read what's in McCain-Feingold, and more members of the House read what's in McCain-Feingold, more and more members are against it.

O'BEIRNE: The White House has a very ambitious agenda -- missile defense, possibly private accounts for Social Security, reforming the military, shaking the federal bench. Is it too ambitious, given the narrow majority Republicans have on the Hill?

DELAY: Well, some people said the contract with America back in 1995 was too ambitious, with the small margin that we had back then. Yet 70 percent of the contract with America is now law. And this president -- President Clinton -- didn't want it to become law.

We've done some pretty remarkable things over the last six years -- balance the budget, pay down the debt, welfare reform. I mean, just cutting taxes. All kinds of wonderful things.

Now, we have a president that wants to help us do it, which enhances our ability to get these things passed. So, no. It's not too ambitious an agenda. We'll accomplish ...

O'BEIRNE: You'll find the votes?

DELAY: ... we'll find...

O'BEIRNE: You'll find the votes for it?

DELAY: You bet we will.


SHIELDS: Kate O'Beirne, Tom DeLay made it sound very, very chummy and cozy, but how long will this Bush-DeLay honeymoon really last?

O'BEIRNE: Look, in early January, legal opinion writers were all warning George Bush, don't give any of that Tom DeLay. And happily George Bush was too smart to take that advice.

He sees that Tom DeLay is going to become a valuable asset on the Hill. He's a most effective voices in memory, because Republican members like him and trust him. So they're working as a team.

But, they do have different priorities. The White House priority is to protect the President politically. Tom DeLay's priority is to pick his members. So they work together well on taxes. We'll see how well their partnership works on energy and education.

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson, your take.

CARLSON: Yeah, I mean, I think the hammer, despite -- he is the hammer, even though he backed off that a little -- is overly ambitious. He's not going to be able to get that through, and get his members re-elected, because there's a lot of stuff in there that hard- core Republicans aren't going to be able to sell. He...


NOVAK: ... most powerful member of the House of Representatives. He's one of the great tacticians I have ever seen on the floor, and he's smart. He is, he's one of the people that's giving the President a pass on education and other things they don't like because, on balance, they have to stick together. And, unless Bush goes way off the reservation, DeLay will stick with him.

HUNT: To me ...

SHIELDS: Al, Tom -- oh, go ahead, I'm sorry.

HUNT: ... well, he may be the most powerful member of the House, but we would now have, you know, basically, the U.S. Congress is Nebraska. We have a unicameral legislature. Only the Senate matters.

I don't approve of what Tom DeLay stands for, but I think he's very effective. I would certainly agree with that. And part of the reason he's so effective is because he understands those moderates, those House GOP moderates. He knows that they've put their political manhood in blind trust. And he intimidates them. (LAUGHTER)

SHIELDS: Last word, Al Hunt.

Next on CAPITAL GANG. "Beyond the Beltway" looks at trouble with the United Nations, with former Ambassador Richard Holbrooke.


SHIELDS: Welcome back.

When the United States was bounced from the United Nations Human Rights Commission, the Secretary of State called for calm.


COLIN POWELL, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We should not, now, try to find a way to punish the United Nations, so let's take our loss, continue to commit ourselves to human rights...


SHIELDS: But the House froze next year's U.S. payment to the U.N. as its response.


REP. DICK ARMEY (R-TX), MAJORITY LEADER: We ought to send one back and say, look, don't be calling us ugly and then expect us to take you to the prom, because we've been paying the way for prom dates for a lot of those nations for a lot of years.


SHIELDS: Joining us now from Key Largo, Florida, is the former United States Ambassador to the U.N. Richard Holbrooke.

Thanks for joining us, Dick.


SHIELDS: Dick, is Congressman Armey right, that the U.N. was sending the U.S. a hostile message?

HOLBROOKE: You know, Mark, this has been one of the most misunderstood and misreported stories I've ever seen. So, I think we ought to try to start, before we start yelling about this, with some facts.

Blaming the United Nations for this, what happened. And what happened is really appalling. But blaming the U.N. for it is like blaming this building in Madison Square Garden for the Nicks' loss to the Raptors last week.

It wasn't the U.N. that did this. It was the European Union voting three of its members onto the commission.

Now, a word of explanation, if you'll forgive me for the details a minute, because they haven't been reported, not even in "The New York Times" or "Washington Post." Each region, through a regional system which is a mess, but which the U.S. set up 40 years ago, each region has a certain number of positions.

We are in the so-called Western European group, which is a group we created and dominated. And now the European Union was -- we were allocated three seats for this Western European and other group. And the European Union put up three candidates -- France, Austria and Sweden. So we were in the appalling position of running against our best friends within a subgroup. That allows the other countries in the U.N. -- Sudan, China, others -- to start intriguing inside our own waters.

This should never have happened. I am certain that the administration won't let it happen again next year. The U.S. can speak vigorously on human rights outside this commission, but let's not punish the building for what a handful of its members did. And let's note what's really going on, here.

The European Union should not try to take all the seats allocated to a group which includes the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand, Israel, Norway and about 20 other countries.

SHIELDS: On "EVANS, NOVAK, HUNT & SHIELDS" this week on CNN, Senator Jesse Helms, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that he didn't think this would have happened if Dick Holbrooke was still there.

But Bob Novak, you have a question for Ambassador Holbrooke.

NOVAK: Yeah. Senate ...

HOLBROOKE: That's why, that's why Jesse Helms and I call ourselves the odd couple. I'm very flattered by that comment.

NOVAK: Senator -- Senator Helms also said something, Dick, and he said that he was going to start an investigation of the U.N. that was going to go beyond just merely not paying the last payment of back dues, as you and Senator Helms had negotiated.

But I just wonder whether or not an organization that has on its Human Rights Commission, Sudan, a slave country, Sierra Leone, a criminal country, Libya, one of the world's worst dictatorships.

Wonder if we ought to think, maybe we ought to start disconnecting from this organization, and maybe that the, just not paying the dues is too mild a reaction.

HOLBROOKE: Well, first of all, Bob, as you and I discussed on one of your many other programs a couple of days ago, I -- Bob paid me to say that, I think -- I really, I really, with all due respect to Senator Helms and to others who are saying things like that, I don't believe that we ought to punish the organization, which we should dominate, which serves our national interests in many, many ways, but which is also deeply flawed.

Last year Sudan tried to get on the Security Council. We got them off it, and got Mauritius on it. We got Israel into one of the regional groups last year, for the first time in 40 years. Hadassah, the national, the world women's Zionist organization, was just voted into the U.N. as an observer, non-governmental organization, over the vigorous objections of the countries you just mentioned.

The U.S., the House voted last week to rejoin UNESCO, an amazing vote. And the U.S. position in the U.N. has steadily improved over the last couple of years.

What happened in this Commission was appalling. It was a combination of many circumstances. It'll never happen again. I can't imagine that Secretary Powell would allow it to happen again.

But let me be clear, Bob, to go back to our prior discussion. What's at stake, what's -- I think what's involved here is our relationship with the Europeans. If a 55-nation group is allocated three seats on this commission, and all three, and the E.U. puts up three candidates, and we want to run because Eleanor Roosevelt founded it. We've been on it continuously since 1947.

The E.U. and the U.S. ought to work things out as they always have in the past. But it didn't happen this time. And I am very concerned that this is part of a post-Cold War drift.

Listen, Bob, during the Cold War, the E.U. would have come to us and said, you've got to be on this Commission. We want your political, moral and financial leadership.

But let's not punish the building for what a handful of its members, through a really ...

CARLSON: Richard ...

HOLBROOKE: ... stupid action did.

CARLSON: Richard?

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson.

CARLSON: Richard, what do you make of the other Richard's comments, House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt's comment, that this is Bush's fault, that the creeping unilateralism of this Administration is partly responsible for this?

HOLBROOKE: I did not see Congressman Gephardt's comments, so I can't comment on them specifically. But I'm not going to get into the blame game, here.

All I can tell you is that, when we faced a similar situation about a year-and-a-half ago, on the finance committee, and when Senator Helms and I had agreed that we had to get back on it, and New Zealand was going to contest the seat, I went to the New Zealanders and said, you've got to withdraw. If you win, you're going to hurt the U.N., and if you lose, you're going to lose. So you're going to lose either way.

And when the New Zealand ambassador in New York refused to withdraw, President Clinton had ...

HOLBROOKE: ... and New Zealand was going to contest the seat, I went to the New Zealanders and said, you've got to withdraw. If you win, you're going to hurt the U.N., and if you lose, you're going to lose. So you're going to lose either way.

And when the New Zealand ambassador in New York refused to withdraw, President Clinton, at our request, called Prime Minister Shipley in New Zealand, and she ordered her ambassador withdraw, and we got on the Commission.

And that, in turn, led Senator Helms to release $100 million to the U.N. That is the way diplomacy is conducted ...

HUNT: Dick ...

HOLBROOKE: ... and I am sure that that's the way it's going to be conducted in the future.

HUNT: Al Hunt.

Dick, Dick, I think we could all agree with you that it was appalling that it happened, but how long term is it? Can we get on that commission next year? Is this a short ...


HUNT: We can.

HOLBROOKE: Not only, Al, not only can we get on it, but as a private citizen just thinking a prediction here, I would, I will bet the 99 percent likelihood, we'll be back on it.

That's why, on Bob Novak's program three days ago, I agreed with the Republican representative there. I think it was ...

NOVAK: Dick Armey.

HOLBROOKE: ... Dick Armey, wasn't it, Bob?


HOLBROOKE: Yeah, I agreed with Dick Armey, that I had no objection to Congressman Hyde and Congressman Lantos' proposal that we withhold the 244, $244 million if we don't get back on, for the simplest of reasons.

That's like setting the bar about two feet above the ground. We'll get back on next year.

SHIELD: Kate, quick.

O'BEIRNE: Mark, just quickly. The response to the U.N., this outrageous treatment, it's not about punishing the U.N. In fact, U.N. critics think they've done us a favor. It's just a reminder of an unholy alliance of our so-called friends and enemies, who get their kicks out of kicking the U.S. around.

SHIELDS: We're out of time, but Dick, Dick Holbrooke, thank you very much for being with us. The Gang will be back with the "Outrage of the Week."


SHIELDS: Now for the "Outrage of the Week."

I'm sorry to say it, but Massachusetts Democrats are the gang that couldn't shoot straight.

The state's Republican Governor Jane Swift, who is expecting twins next month, was hospitalized as a precaution by her doctors, and has been conducting her duties by phone. But the all-democratic governor's council seeks a state Supreme Court ruling on whether the expecting Governor Swift can legally conduct required meetings by phone.

Of course she can! What will they say Democrats attack next? Apple pie?

Bob Novak.

NOVAK: A report is circulating that the Cheney energy task force report next week will ask for the power of eminent domain so that the federal government can seize private property, in order to construct electric power lines.

In response to a question, White House spokesman, Ari Fleischer did not deny it. He almost seemed to confirm it. Governments, even conservative administrations, tend to demand new powers at the first hint of crisis. Perhaps cooler heads will persuade President Bush not to perpetrate this outrage.

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson.

CARLSON: Mark. Window dressing: That's what the producer of "Survivor" called faking some scenes. Producer Mark Burnett blithely admitted that he has used body doubles for his castaways on CBS's so- called reality show.

This gives credence to charges from those voted off the island that the whole thing is rigged towards whomever the producers determine will garner the highest ratings.

Congress got involved when a quiz show fed answers to the most appealing contestants in the '50s. Now Burnett's likely to get a Mercedes and a Rolex for pulling a fast one on a credulous audience.

SHIELDS: Kate O'Beirne.

O'BEIRNE: You find us doing reenactments. In the shameless partisan payback of the president's Florida recount victory, Senate Democrats have decided to persecute his talented Supreme Court advocate, Ted Olson.

To avoid approving eminently qualified Olson as solicitor general, Judiciary Committee Democrats hyped a bogus story, based on a discredited source with an axe to grind, about Olson's alleged involvement in a perfectly legitimate anti-Clinton media investigation.

Democrats responsible for this smear bring more discredit on themselves than on Ted Olson.


HUNT: Mark, Timothy McVeigh is an animal who committed a despicable act. But like any other American, he's entitled to due process. And it is indefensible that the FBI withheld thousands of pages of documents from his defense.

Whether you believe in capital punishment or not, the delay in the disposition of this case, that this outrageous government behavior has caused, only will bring more pain to the families of McVeigh's victims.

SHIELDS: This is Mark Shields saying good night for the CAPITAL GANG. "CNN TONIGHT" is next. Here's the preview with Stephen Frazier.



4:30pm ET, 4/16

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