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Did Daschle Cross a Line With Bush Criticism?; Norquist is Pleased With Presidential Performance; Brzezinski Sees Flaws in Russia-China Pact

Aired July 21, 2001 - 19:00   ET




I'm Mark Shields with the full CAPITAL GANG: Al Hunt, Robert Novak, Kate O'Beirne and Margaret Carlson.

As President Bush left for Europe and the G8 Summit, Senator Majority Leader Tom Daschle told "USA Today" that isolationist values by the new president are creating a global vacuum that will be filled by others. Senator Daschle said, quote: "I think we are isolating ourselves, and in so isolating ourselves, I think we're minimizing ourselves," end quote.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think people will find out that I'm plenty capable of conducting foreign policy for the United States in a way that reflects positively on my nation.



SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MAJORITY LEADER: Had I given some thought to the fact that the president was departing, I probably would have chosen a different time to make those comments. But having said them, I certainly will not back away from my comments.


SHIELDS: Bob Novak, did Senator Daschle actually step over the line in his criticism of President Bush?

ROBERT NOVAK, "CHICAGO SUN-TIMES": Way over the line. That's something you just don't do. When the president is going overseas, you don't criticize him, particularly on his foreign policy.

The iron fist in the velvet glove: He just discarded the velvet glove on that time.

It's part of the whole campaign of trying to show the country that George Bush isn't up to the job of being president. He's rising in the polls. The people think he's doing better on foreign policy.

But the thing that disappointed me about Tom Daschle is he's so disingenuous in saying if he had only known that he was going overseas. This is a guy who knows every sparrow that falls in politics. Of course, he knew that the president was leaving for Europe that very day.

SHIELDS: Al Hunt, the Audubon Society knows every sparrow falling. Bob Novak does. And so does Tom Daschle.

AL HUNT, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": You know, we did this show in August of 2000, and it was when Bill Clinton went to Colombia, and Dick Cheney said, while he was in Colombia, that the U.S. military was low on morale because of the misplaced priorities of this administration. I didn't hear Bob Novak.

We did this show in 1998 when Bill Clinton went to Africa and Tom DeLay said that he was a gray-haired flower child. That really upset me. I didn't hear Bob Novak say a word.

He knows this is a silly issue. This is Republican propaganda. They are trying to prop, you know, Bush up on this trip because he looked so bad in the other trip, and they want to do it by jumping on an innocuous comment Tom Daschle made. It's silly.

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson, I turn to you because I've had two competing and totally contradictory points here...


MARGARET CARLSON, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Let me settle this for you. Bob is right, Senator Daschle shouldn't have said that. But Al is right, Republicans have done it many times. John Ashcroft said that Bill Clinton is off toasting tyrants when he went to China. And Trent Lott said, We can't possibly work with him, which I think is even worse than what Senator Daschle said when Clinton was abroad.

George Bush is not at his best when he's on foreign soil because he's done some things I think rather carelessly that he now needs to pull back from. His dealings with North Korea. His pushing of missile defense. His wanting to scrap the ABM before he has anything else to put into it. And what works here doesn't work there, and giving nicknames to the G8 is not going to make him stand taller in Europe.

SHIELDS: Kate O'Beirne?

KATE O'BEIRNE, "NATIONAL REVIEW": It was terribly bad form, what Tom Daschle did, and the timing was not a mistake.

Speaking of isolationism, what Tom Daschle wants to do is isolate himself as the top Democrat, which something like this he's willing to do, as wrong as it is, in order to be the top guy, which he clearly is as majority leader now.

This is not a policy dispute that he brought up while the president is overseas. He's questioning the president competence to be overseas as representing all of us, which is much different than even bringing up a policy dispute when the president's out of the country. And I think he earned himself a far sharper rebuke from the president than he got, given his attempt to really undermine his competence.

NOVAK: See, this is all part of a plot...


NOVAK: ... this is all part of a plot to try to undermine the president with the media pitching in, trying to make him look poor. And, Al, you know, the first overseas trip I think we all agreed he was pretty good on that trip. You weren't that harsh on him.

HUNT: I didn't think he did.

NOVAK: Well, I think he looked very good on that trip. And the whole notion of saying that, "My goodness, he's just not up to this job," this is a carefully crafted script that goes on. He hadn't even set foot in Europe, not set foot...


HUNT: When Tom DeLay did that in 1998, that great policy dispute, when he called him a gray-haired...


NOVAK: I don't even remember that.

HUNT: But do you think that was part of a conspiracy then, too?

NOVAK: I don't even remember that. I don't remember any case -- I've been around here a long time -- where you had the majority leader of the Senate pulling a stunt like that in a mass circulation newspaper.

CARLSON: Bob, unlike Trent Lott, Tom Daschle pulled back and apologized.

NOVAK: Oh, come on, he didn't apologize.


CARLSON: No. 2, what we remember from that first trip to Europe by Bush, other than the photo-ops, was that he gushed totally inappropriately over Putin.

NOVAK: And did you see the poll, the CNN/"USA Today" poll, where it says...

CARLSON: Tell me what it says, Bob.

NOVAK: ... says that 67 percent of the American people agree with what the president said about Putin, about looking into his eyes. HUNT: His soul.


SHIELDS: Thank God -- thank God that we don't have an administration that's governed by polls. That's a very good thing, in spite of our respect for Zbigniew Brzezinski.

But let's get one thing straight: George W. Bush as a candidate gave his very first foreign policy speech, when Bill Clinton as president was in Turkey and Greece, and said the United States was like a cork in a current going from crisis to crisis, a pretty blatant and outspoken criticism of American foreign policy, made while the president of the United States was outside the United States.

O'BEIRNE: Mark, look, on the merits Tom Daschle's wrong, too. He's accusing the Bush administration of being isolationist in its outlook. He is sitting on top of the isolationist party in American politics. They're anti-trade, which is one of the best ways we can exert both our influence and authority around the world, and he's anti-missile defense...


SHIELDS: Tom Daschle?


SHIELDS: No, Daschle's very pro-trade.

O'BEIRNE: Well, look at his party. He's representing as the top Democrat a party that is completely isolationist...


HUNT: What other country in the world is pro-missile defense?

O'BEIRNE: He's working on our allies...


NOVAK: You know, it's very interesting that when Al and I earlier today interviewed Ted Kennedy he said, yes, it was a mistake by Tom Daschle, and to say...


HUNT: ... on substance.

NOVAK: Yes, but he said it was a mistake. I don't know why journalists can't make the same statement and say it was really a bad thing to do. Instead of saying, "Oh, the Republicans did that years ago."

HUNT: Well, I don't know why you think it's bad for Tom Daschle, but not Tom DeLay. You seem to have a double standard. NOVAK: I don't remember Tom DeLay doing it.

CARLSON: Let the record show, I said it was a bad thing to do.

SHIELDS: Last word, Margaret Carlson.

THE GANG of five will be back with a new conservative voice for federal stem cell research.


SHIELDS: Welcome back.

Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee, chairman of the Senate Republican Campaign Committee and the only position in the U.S. Senate, became another conservative, pulling away from total opposition that federal financing of embryonic stem cell research.


SEN. BILL FRIST (R), TENNESSEE: We ought to ban human cloning. We ought to ban the creation of embryos for research purposes. But I do think we ought to continue to fund, and in an increased way, adult stem cells and open the doors to embryonic stem cell federal funding.


SHIELDS: Was Senator Frist's position a blow to the social conservatives?


SEN. RICK SANTORUM (R-PA) CONFERENCE CHAIRMAN: That makes this battle that, I think, will be waged here in the Congress and obviously is being debated very intensely at the White House a little tougher battle to win.



BUSH: It doesn't matter who's on what side, as far as I'm concerned. This is a decision I'll make. This is way beyond politics.


SHIELDS: Kate O'Beirne, is the president being pushed steadily toward abandoning his own long-held position on stem cell research?

O'BEIRNE: Well, because the president has always endorsed the constituent pro-life position that would clearly approve using human embryos for medical research, but he's in a very tough political spot. He, of course, has a media drumbeat in favor of this experimentation, the bribe was almost campaign finance reform. And he's been abandoned by some of his pro-life allies on Capitol Hill, like Senators Hatch and Thurman and John McCain, who are no longer defending his position about defending human life in the earliest stages.

So a lot people think that Senator Bill Frist, because he's so close to the president and has been advising the president on health policy, he floated a trial balloon -- a compromise trial balloon on behalf of the White House. But if that's so, that trial balloon sank pretty fast both sides of the dispute over embryonic stem cell research, shot it down. It doesn't satisfy Senator Specter and Senator Harkin, and it doesn't satisfy those pro-lifers who object. So I don't think there's going to be an easy compromise here.

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson, your take.

CARLSON: There's not going to be an easy compromise, but I suspect there will be a compromise if Bush had studied the issue the way he's studying it no, during the campaign before he stated a position, I think it would have been a more reasonable one.

This reminds me of the opportunity the Democrats missed on partial birth abortion. They should have conceded that partial-birth abortion was too far, that late-term abortions were wrong and pulled back and introduced their own legislation. Here the pro-lifers, the most ardent in the party, should not govern what the president does. I don't think he's really there. He'll only be there if the right wing is still controlling him. It is a great opportunity to be a reasonable pro-lifer.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak, what's with the president? He said politics is not going to affect this in any way. Yet, it has become incredibly covered as a political decision, political pressure, political organizing. I mean, isn't it going to be seen, ultimately, as a political decision?

NOVAK: Well, it shouldn't be. And if he's telling the truth, I have no reason to think he's not, I don't think it's a tough decision. The tough decision, that is a political decision, you got to balance the Catholics and the church-going Catholics. It would hurt them if he comes down for federal financing of research. You got to balance people like Frist and Hatch and moderate Republicans.

But if it's not a political decision, if it is an ethical decision, it's not a hard decision: He's got to come down against embryonic stem cell research financed by the federal government.

So I think this is a big test for him, because I believe if he rules the other way, then it is a political decision. It isn't a scientific decision.

SHIELDS: Al Hunt, your own take on where George Bush is, and what are the stakes here, both politically and...

HUNT: Well, first of all, I think the reason that it is sort of, Mark, as a political decision is because the person who's been right in the middle of it has not been a science adviser or an ethics adviser, but Karl Rove, his chief political adviser.

I think Bob is quite sincere in his view, and I disagree you on the science, Bob. I think if you talk to most scientific or medical researchers, they will tell you that embryonic stem cell research is very promising.

It's not going to cure 100 million people who have various diseases -- the pro-stem cell groups have hyped the benefit. But they think it's got very real possibilities within the next decade.

I have no reason to think that Bush is not wrestling over it, but the politics, Mark, really are quite different. And Mark is correct, it's partial birth abortion in reverse.

They are a number of people who are pro-life who are for embryonic stem cell research. Kate listed something earlier. There's almost no one who is pro-choice who is against it. And abortion is an issue that cuts right down the middle...

O'BEIRNE: You know what is helpful of what Senator Frist is doing, Senator Frist is endorsing a limited amount of federally funded embryonic stem cell research with certain principles. And the fact that the other side doesn't favor the research, are rejecting his principles are terribly telling.

His principles include outlawing all human cloning and even prohibiting privately funded creation of embryos for the purpose of research. The fact that backers of Bush federally funding won't go along with those prerequisites is very telling, and it's where all of this is headed...

NOVAK: Al, you misunderstood me. When I say it's not a scientific decision, I say the science as terrific on this. If we just do it on the basis of the science, you'd go that way.

What I'm saying, it's an ethical decision.


SHIELDS: Ethics trumps science.

CARLSON: There's a lot of agreement against human cloning and in favor of limited, controlled research.

You know, what's striking is that if we all agreed in this country and the pro-lifers that creating human embryos is wrong because they're destroyed eventually, we wouldn't have in vitro fertilization. That would be condemned as well, because that's how these are created. And I don't see pro-lifers wanting to shut down those clinics.

HUNT: And Kate, some people -- Ted Kennedy for instance, we interviewed him today -- he has problems with the Frist proposal, limiting the number of stem cell lines. But other than that, he basically said that he can go along with...

O'BEIRNE: Well, others are really objecting. And, of course, if the federal government got into the funding the kind of research people want them to do, it will free up a lot of private money to be funding really horrendous -- even more horrendous.


HUNT: But you can have federal standards if you have a federal involvement, and you can stop some of that.

SHIELDS: Last word, Al Hunt, Kate O'Beirne -- somebody.

Next on CAPITAL GANG: Bush's faith-based initiative clears a hurdle.


SHIELDS: Welcome back.

President Bush's faith-based initiative passed the House on a largely party-line vote. Only 4 Republicans voting against, and only 15 Democrats voting for.


REP. TOM DELAY (R-TX), MAJORITY WHIP: They spent 40 to 50 years getting God out of our institutions. And they have fought very long and been very successful at it. Yet now we have a president that comes along and says, no, faith is important.



REP. LLOYD DOGGETT (D), TEXAS: Forty or 50 years, I would tell my colleague Mr. Delay from Texas -- indeed, 200 years and plus, because some of us think that just maybe our founding fathers, Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Madison and all those that played a role in our Bill of Rights, may have known just slightly more than the greats of today: DeLay, Gingrich, Armey and Hastert.


SHIELDS: At Hunt, is the argument for separation of church and state slowing down the Bush signature initiative?

HUNT: The four horsemen, Mark. As you know, I have been very sympathetic to the concept of the faith initiative, and Bush's director of it, John Dilulio.

This House bill though, I think, is very carelessly crafted. It panders to some interests. I -- religious organizations, since 1964, have been able to discriminate when they engage in religious activities, and they should be able to continue to. When they engage in secular activities, which I think is desitable in some instances, they should not be able to discriminate. I think it's that simple.

The good news is, I think the Senate can correct the abuses in the House bill, and we will have a faith-based initiative.

SHIELDS: Bob, your take on it?

NOVAK: It's a silly argument. Of course, in the -- founding fathers didn't prevent huge sums of money being put into parochial schools and church schools in the early days of the republic.

But what the debate was mostly in the House, was over the thing that Al is talking about. And Al, that was just a pretext to vote against the bill by these very partisan Democrats. They found a reason to vote against it on this business that the -- that a black Muslim mosque that gets some of the money wouldn't be hiring white Baptists. It's just a silly argument.

This is not a jobs bill. It isn't for hiring people. And like everyone else in Washington though, Mark, it's become very partisan, and down partisan lines.

SHIELDS: Let me break ranks and say I do agree with Robert Novak that partisanship in this is just really, I think, overwhelming. What we've forgotten in the whole discussion is that Bill Clinton signed the charitable -- the charitable choice. Al Gore had an even bigger policy than this one.

And the reality is that it's -- this is George Bush's signature initiative. This is the most important idea he's come up with. You would never know it from the Bush administration because they certainly haven't given it the kind of clout they gave the tax cut -- the kind of backing. But I really think, to have a Republican administration talking about helping people in poverty instead of throwing people off welfare, was itself encouraging, and he should have been encouraged. I thought the Democrats were narrowly partisan on this one.

O'BEIRNE: Mark, they talk a good game, and they are -- you're exactly right, they supported a similar provision in 1996 because they recognize that they have to look friendlier to religion. And Al Gore and Joe Lieberman spent a certain amount of time last year doing it.

Now that they have a president in the White House who actually wants to put into application the authority to give grants and help these faith-based groups, now they want to A, deny George Bush a win, and they want to back off, because they actually do have in their party the secularists, who want a smaller role for religion in American life.

But on the other hand, there are those who worry that direct grants will, over time, on a large scale basis, sort of bleach out the religious content of these very effective groups. And many of us would like to see a whole lot more money go to them in the form of tax credits with no strings attached.

SHIELDS: Margaret?

CARLSON: I think Kate has a good point. It might bleach out the very thing that makes it work. As an idea, it's great; any way you can get money to poor people, good. But the strings will be attached eventually. And I look at the most successful faith-based self-help program in America, AA, and they've refused money their whole -- for their whole existence. There's nothing better than that program, so...

O'BEIRNE: Because you can't divide the religious conviction from the secular...

CARLSON: You cannot divide it...

SHIELDS: I will say this about AA, from my personal exposure to it: It is faith-based. It doesn't meet in the ACLU headquarters. It doesn't meet at the Republican campaign headquarters. It meets in church basements. And I think that says something about faith-based, and how it does work.

NOVAK: Did any of you listen to the House debate on the faith- based initiative? It was really a poor debate. It was a terrible...

SHIELDS: It wasn't about poverty...


SHIELDS: That's the last word. We'll be back with a "CAPITAL GANG Classic": Katharine Graham's last interview.


SHIELDS: Welcome back.

And now for our "CAPITAL GANG Classic." Going back just six weeks, Margaret Carlson sat down with "Washington Post" owner Katharine Graham and former editor Ben Bradley in what would be here last interview. Mrs. Graham died this week. This is what she said on THE CAPITAL GANG on June 9, 2001.


KATHERINE GRAHAM, PUBLISHER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": The Pentagon Papers, everybody has forgotten what they were. But it was a history of the Cold War...

BEN BRADLEY, EDITOR: How we got into it.

GRAHAM: How we got into it, how it developed. And it really wasn't -- it didn't have any secrets, and so all this was literally about nothing.

CARLSON: Today, if you were doing Watergate in the 24-7 cable coverage, how would it unfold? Would it unfold differently?

BRADLEY: Well, not only the 24-7, but the number of journalists and the number of media is so much larger now.

GRAHAM: I think, too, then that Watergate is a particular incident that happened. You can't imagine anything like it again.

CARLSON: Didn't it feel as if Washington was the center of the universe then, the capital of the world.

BRADLEY: It sure did.

GRAHAM: People used to line up in the alley were the Post came off the press to get them.

CARLSON: Kate, do you have another book in you after "A Personal History," is there another volume?

GRAHAM: Well, I'm trying to write another book, but it's more or less about Washington over the years. And I don't know -- I never have said this in public, because I don't think I'll, you know, in case it never comes.


SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson, to those of us who did not know Mrs. Graham as well as you did, what can you tell us about her?

CARLSON: You know, who would have thought the book wouldn't come, because she was doing well for a woman of 84. You know, I was scared to death of her when I first met her. She was shy and awkward at the beginning. Nobody thought she'd do what she did at the "Post." She did it.

But once I moved across the street from her and I got to know her, I found that she retained some of that shyness, so that, as powerful as she was, she was quite accessible. You know, it's easy to look up to somebody like that, it's hard to love them, but she was actually easy to love.


HUNT: Well, first of all, Margaret, I think it's so good that you got that interview. That was such a terrific interview and so nice to have, especially now.

I talked this week, Mark, to Warren Phillips, who was our old publisher, who was a very close friend of hers, and he made the observation that her triumph over her own self doubts and demons are every bit as impressive as her public triumph.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak?

NOVAK: Well, I'm very grateful to Mrs. Graham. She ran my column, first with Rollie Evans, for 38 years. She was very nice to me. And even though she ran a column, she was a great editor.

But I'll tell you, one time I wrote a column about a leak from a background -- off the record background briefing in "The Washington Post" that somebody had leaked to me, and I was scared, I'll tell you.


NOVAK: She could be tough.



CARLSON: Given when Katharine Graham was born and the time in which she was raised, she didn't exceed the expectations for women of her generation, because there weren't any expectations for women in big news, or certainly publishing. So the remarkable achievements she had when she found herself first on top of what she grew into an empire.

SHIELDS: American journalism is better. America is better. Thank you very much, Mrs. Graham.

We'll be back with a second half hour of CAPITAL GANG with our "Newsmaker of the Week," that's conservative activist, Grover Norquist.

Former national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, helps us look "Beyond the Beltway" at the Russian-Chinese friendship treaty.

And our "Outrages of the Week," all after a check of the hour's top news.



SHIELDS: Welcome back for the second half of the CAPITAL GANG.

I'm Mark Shields with Al Hunt, Robert Novak, Kate O'Beirne and Margaret Carlson.

Our "Newsmaker of the Week" is conservative activist Grover Norquist. Grover Norquist, age 44; residence, Washington, D.C.; religion, Protestant; economic and MBA degrees from Harvard; executive director of Americans for Tax Reform since 1985; board member, National Rifle Association.

Earlier this week, Al Hunt sat down with Grover Norquist.


HUNT: Rate the first six months of the George Bush presidency for conservatives, on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the most conservative.

GROVER NORQUIST, PRESIDENT, AMERICANS FOR TAX REFORM: Oh, dear. Close to 10. I mean, he's just been extremely good on both the issues, but in working with the center-right coalition.

HUNT: There are some on the right who say that he sold out on vouchers, on education, that he trimmed back on a tax cut, that a lot of compromise talk is in the air. Does any of that both you?

NORQUIST: No. There'll always be professional whiners in any movement. But if you look at the bulk of the movement, we're much more mature than 10 or 20 years ago, and people saw that George W. Bush fought for and worked for a significant tax cut. The compromises that were made were because we didn't have the votes in the House or the Senate to do certain things.

HUNT: Some say that the political right was so turned off by the Clinton years that this president now has a lot more leeway, say, than his father had.

NORQUIST: No, that's silly. If you look at how George W. Bush governs and how he campaigned, the reason the center-right coalition has a great deal of affection and respect and admiration for him and they're willing to work with him on a lot of issues is that they view him as a conviction politician, in the same way that Thatcher and Reagan were. He has the vision thing.

HUNT: The issue on the horizon that could give him real problems with that center-right coalition, stem cell research.

NORQUIST: Stem cell research is a very real issue, particularly for many people of faith. The president has been so good on so many issues in that direction that it wouldn't envision a permanent break with the president, but there'd be disappointment if he went away from the ban on federal funding.

HUNT: With all the talk about an eroding budget surplus and with the Democrats in control of the Senate now, isn't it probable that there is not going to be another big tax cut in the foreseeable future?

NORQUIST: There will be a tax cut every year. How large it is will be a matter of discussion, and we'll see how far we can push it. But I agree with David Korn (ph), the left-of-center journalist with The Nation, who said the Bush administration's over; meaning he won. The next 10 years has been set. The next 10 years' spending levels have been set, largely taxation levels have been set.

HUNT: What should be in the next tax cut bill?

NORQUIST: Cutting the capital gains tax I think is an important step forward. We should get rid of that 3 percent federal excise tax that was passed 100 years ago to fund the Spanish-American War, the phone tax that people pay.

HUNT: You said that Jim Jeffords' defection from the Republican Party was actually good for the GOP. Would it be good if John McCain and Lincoln Chafee were to follow Jeffords and leave the Republican Party?

NORQUIST: No. The goal isn't to have fewer Republicans. The reason why Jeffords' defection was helpful to the Republicans in the Senate was that when you are up by one vote you don't have control of the Senate.

HUNT: You've been very pleased with this administration, as you have made clear. Is there any disappointment first six months?

NORQUIST: Oh, dear. Not that I can think of.

HUNT: You are one of the most important supporters the president has. You are joined at the political hip with Karl Rove, his top adviser. With that context, look ahead and give us something that's not commonly predicted that you think may come out of this administration in the next three or four months.

NORQUIST: In the next three or four months? I think you're going to see a battle royal over spending. I think there's going to have to be a series of vetoes on spending bills to keep discipline. I think the president will be willing to tamp down some of what the military wants in order to keep within the spending caps and to keep from touching Medicare and Social Security.

The most important fight in the next three months for the next 50 years is getting the trade promotion authority passed so that we can go a hemisphere-wide free trade zone.

I think moving on immigration reform is something that some people may not have expected Bush to do. I certainly did. I think he is from the majority of the Republican that is pro-immigration and supportive of immigrant rights.


SHIELDS: Al Hunt, do you see any future rupture in the love affair between Grover Norquist and George W. Bush?

HUNT: Mark, first let me say, progressives would love to have their own version of Grover Norquist. He is really quite a good strategist and quite a good coalition builder of his coalition.

But I doubt there's going to be a rupture. I think Grover's very comfortable where he is now. He's at the table. I think Bush clearly has more leeway with conservatives. That's a Clinton backlash. I think Grover reaches a bit when he talks about Bush having the vision thing and being like Reagan and Thatcher.

I think he's right in talking about effects of the tax cut, but I'm not sure the politics going to be the same, because I think on issues ranging from prescription drugs to defense, that tax cut's going to come back to politically bite George W. Bush.

SHIELDS: Kate O'Beirne?

O'BEIRNE: Al's right, Grover Norquist has some characteristics that are more typically seen on the left. He's very action oriented. He's very coalition minded. He's very ideologically self-confident.

He's a revolutionary, but there's a pragmatic side to him. He'll recognize that something is not doable and let a politician off the hook, but only after Grover has done everything he can to make it doable.

One effective thing he was doing this past year was getting state legislatures to vote in favor of the federal tax cut, and it put some pressures on senators here in Washington. So he doesn't just want things to happen, he helps make them happen.

SHIELDS: Margaret?

CARLSON: He's one happy fella. He just loves being at the table. And, you know, hey, nice to see, he's not a bad guy.

He's practical, as Kate says, and he sticks with these financial issues, the ones so dear to Bob's heart, and he focuses.

CARLSON: And he's wrong that this tax cut is there for 10 years. But otherwise, you know, he's not a bad guy to deal with.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak?

NOVAK: And he's really in the mainstream of conservative Republicanism right now. You know, just compare him with our dear friend and former moderator, Pat Buchanan. He is -- Grover is pro- immigration, he's pro-free trade. Pat never cared about a capital gains cut. So I think this is a different -- this isn't the old right wing by any means. And I think he'll stick with Bush because I think he'll stick him on most of those issues.

SHIELDS: You've given us a lead, Bob. Grover Norquist, Bob Novak's kind of right-winger.


SHIELDS: Next on CAPITAL GANG, "Beyond the Beltway" looks at the Russian-Chinese friendship treaty with former national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski.


SHIELDS: Welcome back.

"Beyond the Beltway": At a Kremlin ceremony, Russia and China signed a friendship treaty, the first major agreement between the two countries since the Sino-Soviet military pact of 1950.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): The course of equal strategic cooperation between Russia and China has been given a solid legal ground.



JIANG ZEMIN, PRESIDENT OF CHINA (through translator): We think that activating cooperation between our two countries in the area of ABM will enhance our mutual efforts to establish multi-polar peace.


SHIELDS: Joining us now is Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, the national security adviser in the Carter administration and now a professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. Thank you very much for coming in Zbigniew.


SHIELDS: Dr. Brzezinski, does this Russian-Chinese treaty pose a threat to U.S. interests?

BRZEZINSKI: No, not really. In fact, I think it poses more of threat -- long-range threat to Russian interests.

SHIELDS: Now, in what sense?

BRZEZINSKI: You know, if you look at it historically for the last 300 years, the Russians fear of influence in the East has been expanding, the Chinese receding.

The Chinese at one point, even had a relationship of domination to the vassals in central Asia, which are now the independent posts of the republics. The Chinese frontier used to be further east and west and north of the Amur River. The Russians pushed, and that would change in the course of the last century.

In the last six weeks, two treaties have been signed, in effect, reversing the international trends of the last 300 years. The treaty of Shanghai, six weeks ago, which gives China, again, a role in central Asia, which was the exclusive monopoly of Russia. And now this treaty, which, in fact, is strengthening China at the long-range cost of Russian security.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak?

NOVAK: Zbig, the avowed purpose of the Bush administration is to have a much stronger relationship with Russia. That's what I think upsets Al so much, the fact that President Bush saw some soul in the heart or in the eyes of President Putin.

But they really want to have a much stronger relation with Russia. Putin has been, it seems, much more cooperative and much more malleable on the question of national missile defense and a very cool attitude toward China. Do you think that is a wise position by the United States, and how does that, you know, act with these new treaties between Moscow and Beijing?

BRZEZINSKI: Well, actually, it's in the interest of the United States to have a better relationship with each then they have with each other. And I would say, by and large, that's what we're striving to do.

In the long run, Russia has no choice but to accommodate with the West, though, not on it's terms, but on the terms of the West, because China is getting so much stronger. And I was saying earlier, Chinese fear of influence is now expanding westward. And as the Russians arm the Chinese, one has to ask oneself: Where will the Chinese eventually use their power? They can't swim across the Pacific. They can't even swim across the Taiwan Straits, but they can certainly push northward and westward at Russia's expense.

NOVAK: So you think the Russians are making a big mistake in this overture toward China?

BRZEZINSKI: Absolutely. You know, there's a remarkable article, just this week in the L.A. Times, describing the conditions in the Russian far east and just across the border on the Chinese side, and the contrast between the two could not be more dramatic. In Manchuria alone, there are 78 million very industrious Chinese. Across the border in the Russian far east, there are only 16 million Russians, and many of them are leaving for central Russia. I think history, and particularly Russian history, is going to be very critical of Putin, because Putin is, in fact, helping the Chinese get stronger at Russia's expense.

SHIELDS: Margaret?

CARLSON: Well, Dr. Brzezinski, you seem to agree with Ari Fleischer and the administration spinners which say, not to worry, each of these countries needs us more than they want each other. But I thought the timing was curious in that, just as Bush gets done gushing over Putin, he looks into his soul, then they're driving into each other's arms a week later.

CARLSON: Do you make anything of the timing?

BRZEZINSKI: But, you know, it's just arms, but literally arms in this sense...


BRZEZINSKI: ... and not arms in the sense of weapons.

CARLSON: Hugging, arming.

BRZEZINSKI: The trade between is negligible, it's less than $10 billion a year. Our trade with China alone is about $115 to $120 billion a year. They have nothing to offer each other, basically, except poor commodity and consumer goods on the part of the Chinese for the Russians and the Russians weapons for the Chinese, weapons which pretty soon will mean that the Chinese air force, equipped with the latest Russian planes, is going to be more powerful than the Russian air force. I think this is a serious geostrategic problem for Russia in the future.

So, yes, basically I'm not too worried about it. But they think they can put some pressure on us, but, frankly, there's no way of making that pressure tangible.

SHIELDS: Kate O'Beirne?

O'BEIRNE: Dr. Brzezinski, you've made the point that the spreading of China's influence is not good news for Russia. What about for the U.S.? Is it time for the U.S. to think about its own alliances in Asia? And is there an opportunity to explore new alliances for the U.S., like with India? BRZEZINSKI: Yes, except that India is very volatile, it has a very unstable relationship with Pakistan, so I wouldn't put too much stock in some sort of a strategic relationship with India. Yes, a good relationship is desirable.

The key point to bear in mind is that we're so much stronger than China that the Chinese for a long time will at best to only a regional power, that they are really divided from us by a huge ocean, and as a consequence we don't need to be so concerned about them as sometimes one seems to give the impression of being.

I think China's going to have a lot of problems in the next five years. In fact, I expect very serious internal tensions in China, perhaps even before the Olympics.


HUNT: What then, Zbig, should the U.S. policy do as far as China's concerned?

BRZEZINSKI: I think we ought to try to maintain a bilateral relationship that's reasonably stable, expand the scope of cooperation, try to promote and advance some of the changes that have been taking place in China over the recent years. Because the trajectory of economic change is in one direction and of political in the opposite direction, and before too long, unless the Chinese undertake very major political reforms at home, they'll have serious problems, which will further complicate their life.

So in brief, I don't think we need to be so worried about China.

SHIELDS: Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, I want to thank you on behalf of THE CAPITAL GANG, but I also want to point out that you are a man to be headed, because alone of all the scholars and all the actors, you were the one who predicted the immediate and incipient downfall of the Soviet Union, and for that you stand as a visionary. Thank you.

BRZEZINSKI: Well, I'm glad you remembered, and I'm glad it happened.

SHIELDS: Thank you.


SHIELDS: I'm glad on both counts. Thank you so much, Dr. Brzezinski.

The Gang will be back with the "Outrage of the Week."


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

Marty Meehan, the Massachusetts Democrat, has made some powerful enemies during his five terms in the U.S. House. In Massachusetts, which lost no House seats under the new census and has an all- Democratic congressional delegation, but Marty Meehan's House district simply disappeared in the redistricting plan of State House Speaker Tom Finneran.

Most politicians talk a good game on campaign finance reform. Marty Meehan has not only talked the talk, he has walked the walk in driving big money from politics. The outrage is the overwhelming cowardly silence of most Massachusetts Democrats who have not condemned this attack on Marty Meehan.

Bob Novak?

NOVAK: This week, Israeli terrorists on the West Bank randomly attacked an auto because it carried Palestinian plates. Two young men and an infant were murdered. The Palestinian Authority immediately blamed Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. That's even more ridiculous than the Israelis blaming Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for every act of Arab terrorism. Or is it?

Is it possible that the rhetoric of both Arafat and Sharon, in their refusal to lead for peace, promotes terrorism and builds hatred?

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson?

CARLSON: On Friday, Mark, the police confirmed that four hours before a search of his apartment, Congressman Gary Condit was spotted dumping a watch given to him by yet another woman, in a dumpster.

He's now destroyed evidence, obstructed justice and he refused for two months to tell the police he had an intimate relationship with the missing intern. He also put out info this week that the intern was actually a slut. He refused to take a police polygraph.

Are the police wearing one pair of kid gloves, or two? It may be too late, but Condit is a prime suspect, treat him as such.

SHIELDS: Kate O'Beirne?

O'BEIRNE: Senator Charles Schumer from his new perch as chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Courts has been busy figuring out how to defeat any judicial nominee of the president who isn't as liberal as the senator would like. Senator Schumer now has a political litmus test, with a failing grade for insufficiently liberal answers and a failing grade for nominees who rightly refuse to discuss cases they might have to rule on.

This "damned if you do, damned if you don't" trap is an outrageous attempt to politicize the bench.


HUNT: Mark, "The New York Times," in a prodigious bit of reporting, revealed that many of the ballots in the controversial Florida presidential election that were from overseas were improperly cast. Republican lawyers outmaneuvered their Democratic counterparts.

But also, some congressional Republicans like Indiana Rep. Steve Buyer violated the public trust by surreptitiously soliciting names and numbers of military personnel to cast Republican votes.

Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris allowed her office to operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Bush campaign. These actions merit further investigation.

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



4:30pm ET, 4/16

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