CNN INSIDE POLITICS
Fireworks Erupt Between Two Senators; Clinton Praises Bush; Is the President Alienating a Key Constituency?
Aired March 7, 2002 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Candy Crowley in Washington. I will ask Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton to go "On the Record" about her praise of President Bush, and other Democrats' questions about the war on terror.
JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Jonathan Karl on Capitol Hill. I'll tell you why fireworks erupted between two senators usually on relatively good terms.
MAJOR GARRETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I'm Major Garrett at the White House with this question: is the president alienating a key constituency with his latest response to the Enron scandal?
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm Bill Schneider in Washington. I'll be going on location with a script that's already making an impression on Hollywood.
ANNOUNCER: Live from Washington, this INSIDE POLITICS WITH JUDY WOODRUFF.
CROWLEY: Thanks for joining us. Judy is off today.
This hour, President Bush is expected to announce that he is sending Mideast envoy Anthony Zinni back to the troubled region. We'll carry President Bush's remarks live.
But first, tensions already were high in the Senate judiciary committee over President bush's nomination of Charles Pickering to a federal appeals court. Democrats' questions about Pickering's record on civil rights and abortion rights have raised the dander of more than a few Republicans.
Today it got personal, between the chairman and the ranking Republican on the panel. Jonathan Karl is here with more on the spat, and the status of Pickering's nomination -- Jonathan.
KARL: Well, the status here, Candy, is justice delayed. And as far as the White House is concerned, justice soon to be denied. Pickering faced almost certain defeat today if the vote were to go forward as it was scheduled to. So the top Republican on the committee, Orrin Hatch, exercised his prerogative to delay the vote for one week. But something very interesting happened before the meeting was officially under way. The two senators, Senator Orrin Hatch, the Republican, Senator Patrick Leahy, the Democrat, were talking before their microphones -- perhaps didn't realize that the microphones were on, the cameras were rolling. And they had a very testy exchange. Here's what they said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: Don't play games with me.
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), VERMONT: We will -- we will certify to the White House you were strongly supporting their guy.
HATCH: I think they know that.
LEAHY: One, two, three, four...
HATCH: I'm just tired of it all. I'll tell you.
LEAHY: Orrin, that was uncalled for.
HATCH: Well, it's uncalled for you to do this. Every time you start pulling that kind of stuff, I get sick of it.
LEAHY: I just took...
HATCH: Oh, give me a break.
LEAHY: I don't control this thing.
HATCH: I didn't say that (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KARL: Now, the context there is that Leahy is saying Hatch gave the committee his word that the vote would go forward today. Hatch said that's simply ridiculous. But the larger point here is that when the committee votes next week, everyone on that committee, Democrat or Republican, privately acknowledged that Pickering is going to go down for defeat. And there are some bitter feelings that will be -- you will hear replayed and replayed, as future nominees come forward.
I talked to Trent Lott, the Republican leader in the Senate. This was his guy. This was a Mississippi judge. Lott said you can count on us next time to nominate someone younger, someone who doesn't have a paper trail and, as far as the liberals are concerned, someone who is more dangerous. Lott is signalling he's ready to fight for future nominees. He'll just make the future nominees ones that will be tougher for Democrats to defeat. Back to you, Candy.
CROWLEY: Thanks, Jon Karl, on Capitol Hill.
We're joined now by the chairman of the Senate judiciary committee, Democrat Patrick Leahy. Senator Leahy, thank you so much for joining us. You and I have seen a lot of these battles over judicial nominations on both sides. Why shouldn't the rest of America look at this and say, same old, same old partisan fight.
LEAHY: I don't think they should look at two seconds of something, but look at the whole committee meeting. Before that meeting was over, we delayed a vote on one judge. We confirmed 20 of the president's nominees, ranging from U.S. Marshals to lifetime federal district judges. We've done over 40 of the federal judges already, in the few months that I've been chairman of the committee. So we -- and we worked together.
A lot of these judges have been conservative Republicans, but not ideological and very, very competent. And they've been confirmed. So you know, it's very easy to say "fireworks." I think of some of the scenes I see clipped out off a debate on the floor of the Senate, when I had been there for three or four hours watching this, and two seconds of high decibel, and usually not the several hours of solid legislative work.
CROWLEY: Let me ask you this, Senator. Some of the things that trouble you about Judge Pickering date back decades. Is there no statute of limitations on...
LEAHY: No, no. That's what the White House obviously said. I stand by what I have said, which has been very specific. I talk about far more recent things. Since he's been a federal judge, I've talked about the number of times he has been overruled by the fifth circuit, his own circuit. The number of times when he has not followed the law within his own circuit.
I'm talking about things within the last four or five years. I don't -- thank goodness for the Bush administration that we don't hold against him things that people did 30 or 40 years ago, or a number of the Bush nominees never would have never made it through.
CROWLEY: Senator, let me ask you. This is being framed, this whole battle, as the Democrats' sort of shout across the bow, of the Bush administration, to say: do not send us a very conservative Supreme Court nominee. That this is just your way of telling him that. Can a conservative appointee to the Supreme Court get through, and is that what this is about?
LEAHY: I voted for a lot of conservative nominees to the Supreme Court. What we're suggesting, if anything, don't have ideological (UNINTELLIGIBLE) people, but have the most competent people. We -- for example, the same circuit, the fifth circuit, we passed through very quickly -- a unanimous vote, I voted for -- a conservative Republican nominee, but one who had demonstrated the real abilities to do the job.
The fifth circuit, like any circuit court of appeals, is only one step below the U.S. Supreme Court. Whether it's a Democratic or Republican, you want to have the very best there. Maybe somebody wants to make a big thing out of the Pickering nomination. This is just a case where you have somebody who is going to remain a federal judge for the rest of his life, but will not be a court of appeals judge because he has not demonstrated that he is qualified to do that.
CROWLEY: Senator Leahy, thank you so much for joining us on INSIDE POLITICS.
LEAHY: Thank you.
CROWLEY: "On the Record" this Thursday, New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. A little while ago, Mrs. Clinton was on familiar turf at the White House, where she joined the president and other New York lawmakers for a ceremony marking the government's $20 billion aid package for New York City.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: Last September, when Chuck and I were in the Oval Office, you never promised us a rose garden. But you did promise us $20 billion. And today we're getting both -- the rose garden and the $20 billion. And we thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton joins me now from Capitol Hill. A good day for you, Senator Clinton. Is that going to be all of the money New York City needs to get back on its feet?
CLINTON: Well, it was a very good day for New York and America. And all of us are grateful that the president's promise has been put in writing and specifics, and we're looking forward to getting that passed and getting the money flowing.
Obviously we don't yet know all of the costs that it will take to rebuild New York. But this gives us the chance to do the kind of planning, to take care of the needs that have arisen in the last six months, and to get prepared for whatever else we need to do to keep businesses downtown, to keep residents downtown. So that the entire city, state and country will benefit from a revitalized, rebuilt New York.
CROWLEY: I couldn't help but notice your high praise for President Bush's help for New York City, and contrast that with some of the complaints we've been hearing from your fellow Democrats, in particular the majority leader, about the conduct of the war. Do you have any problems with the way this president is conducting the war in Afghanistan?
CLINTON: You know, I think there isn't any doubt that all of us are united behind our president and the men and women in uniform who are serving us so well in Afghanistan and elsewhere. I also think that we are all united behind our belief that, out of the many voices that make up America, we come to a decision through debate and discussion. I think that's all to the good.
Among the values that we are defending in this fight for freedom is the value of being able to express our opinions. And I think that it's a good sign, a very healthy sign, that while we are absolutely united behind our men and women in uniform, it's appropriate and proper for the Congress to discharge its constitutional obligation by asking the kinds of questions that are on everyone's mind. CROWLEY: Let me move you into pure politics. I understand you're going to be doing a fundraiser for Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts next week. Are you going to be helping a lot of the people who would maybe like to be president in 2004, or is it Senator Kerry that's caught your attention?
CLINTON: You know, I'm going to be helping all of the Democrats. And I've done that. I will continue to do that, because I believe that the Democratic Party and what we're fighting for -- a lot of the positions on domestic issues -- are in the long-term best interests of our country. I'm very pleased that I'll be going to support my colleague from Massachusetts with the other women Democratic senators.
But I am ready and very eager to help all of the Democrats who are running for reelection, running to serve for the first time. And I will continue to do so.
CROWLEY: Senator Clinton, as you know, Robert Ray issued his final report yesterday on the Starr investigation. He said in it that he had enough evidence to charge the former president. I wonder if you think that conclusion was appropriate or true?
CLINTON: Well, I had a statement about that yesterday. It's in the past. I think history and the American people are the final judges of all of that.
CROWLEY: Do you think it was an appropriate conclusion, though?
CLINTON: Well, I'll leave that to others to decide. Right now I'm just working as hard as I can to do the best job possible for preparing New York for the future. And today we got a big boost from the president and the administration, in supporting our request for the money that we need to rebuild New York City.
CROWLEY: One last question. We're coming up on the six-month anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center Towers and the Pentagon. What have you learned about New York City residents? What have you learned about the country in those six months?
CLINTON: Well, I have been just reinforced in my rock-bottom belief that this is the greatest nation in the history of the world. And Americans are resilient and courageous, and no one more than New Yorkers. I don't think there is a city anywhere in the world that could have responded as well as New York City did, that would have shown the courage and just the sheer gutsiness that it took to deal with the horrific attack that we suffered on the 11th.
Obviously, we are still trying to pick up the pieces of broken lives and broken buildings, and trying to get people back to work. But the resolve that New Yorkers and Americans have shown, and the support that America has given to New York, is in the best tradition of our country.
And as we fight for freedom and to defend ourselves and the values we believe in, around the world right now, I think it's only fair to stop and reflect how six months ago, there were a lot of New Yorkers who demonstrated, unequivocally, their commitment to each other, to their fellow man and to the overriding goal of freedom. And I just am awed by what I know of and what I have learn about our city, our state and our country.
CROWLEY: Mrs. Clinton, we have about 15 seconds left, I think, until the president comes to the Rose Garden to announce that he's sending an envoy back to the Middle East. You were just in the Middle East. Do you think it's appropriate that the U.S. get involved at this point, while the violence is flaring?
CLINTON: Yes, I do. I'm very pleased that the president has decided to send General Zinni back to the Middle East. I think it's imperative that we do whatever we can to try to bring enough pressure on Yasser Arafat and the Palestinians, to end the violence so that we can try to get back to a discussion of how to implement Tenet- Mitchell, and maybe even pursue the overtures made by the Saudis and others, towards some final resolution of these terrible problems.
CROWLEY: I'm sorry to interrupt you. We are seeing the president now. Thank so you much.
CLINTON: Thank you.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm deeply concerned about the tragic loss of life and escalating violence in the Middle East. This is a matter of great interest to the United States, and all who want peace in the region and in the world. There is a road map to peace. The Tenet security work plan will bring parties together to reduce the violence, improve the security situation and return to the path of peace.
The Tenet work plan is the first step toward implementing the Mitchell committee report in full and resuming a political process between the sides.
I'm committed to working with our partners in the region and around the world in the pursuit of this goal.
The United States has a vision of a Middle East in which all people, Arabs and Israelis, can live as neighbors in full peace and security.
Recent ideas put forth by Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia have created an opening for discussing this broader peace and for the normalization of relations between Arab states and Israel. The United States is committed to exploring this opening.
Because of our commitment to peace, I'm sending General Tony Zinni back to the region next week to work with Israel and the Palestinians to begin implementing the Tenet work plan so that the parties can renew their efforts for a broader peace. The United States will do all it can to help the government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority restore hope to their people and to the region.
I, once again, call upon Chairman Arafat to make maximum effort to end terrorism against Israel, which undermines the prospects for peace. And as we move forward, I'm counting on all parties in the region, Prime Minister Sharon included, to do everything they can to make these efforts a success.
The violence and tragic loss of Israeli and Palestinian lives must end. Families on both sides of the conflict share this goal; so does my country. Peace and stability will be an important topic of the vice president's upcoming trip to the region.
I've asked him to join me today.
Mr. Vice President?
DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you, Mr. President.
I'm looking forward to leaving Sunday on a 10-day, 12-country swing through the region. Obviously, one of the subjects I'll be discussing with my hosts are the efforts that General Zinni will undertake and the approach to the Tenet and the Mitchell plans that the president's outlined here today, as well as Crown Prince Abdullah's initiatives.
The peace process is not the only thing on my agenda. The trip's been planned for some time, and there are a number of other issues that we'll talk about, including the continuing war on terrorism.
I plan to visit troops and spend time talking about bilateral issues as well with host countries. And I'll have the opportunities to brief the traveling press corps tomorrow in greater detail.
BUSH: Mr. Secretary?
COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: Thank you, Mr. President, Mr. Vice President.
I'm very pleased that General Zinni has again shown his willingness to serve his nation and to go once again to the Middle East to try to get the Tenet work plan started. It is a work plan that will allow both sides to get into security consultations so we can get the violence under control, down to zero, start to restore confidence between the two sides, end the killing, and then move to a political settlement that is an outcome of the Mitchell process. I hope both sides will respond to General Zinni when he arrives in the region, and we'll be in close consultation with both sides as well as all of our friends in the region in the immediate days ahead.
Thank you very much.
BUSH: Ask a few questions.
QUESTION: Mr. President, you've said all along that the two sides need to break the cycle of violence. There's been a lot of false hopes. The violence continues even today. What assurances do you have, if any, that the two sides are now willing to take that step and break the cycle? BUSH: Well, we've had a lot of consultations over the last week and week and a half. We've been on the phone a lot, and we believe now is the time for General Zinni to move back into the region. There are no assurances, but that is not going to prevent our government from trying; trying to get the parties to agree to Tenet, trying to reduce the cycle of violence. Obviously, there's a reason why, and that is because of as a result of consultations, we believe there's a possibility we can have an impact.
And so the combination of General Zinni's trip and the vice president's trip may have a positive impact. We'll see.
QUESTION: Mr. President, your secretary of state had some rather stern words for Israel yesterday. Do you believe that Ariel Sharon engaging in his current policies has become an obstacle to peace?
BUSH: Well, I've read the secretary's comments, and it sounds like he had pretty tough words for all parties. He's concerned about the level of violence like I am.
He made it clear that Chairman Arafat needs to do a better job of reducing violence, of using his leadership role to reduce violence. He's also deeply concerned, as am I, about the retaliation, the escalation. It's hard to achieve peace when violence is escalating.
And one of the reasons why we're sending Zinni back, and one of the reasons why I hope the vice president's effect -- trip will have a positive effect is because our message is, to both sides, "Reduce violence."
BUSH: As I mentioned in my remarks, Chairman Arafat must do everything he can to reduce the violence, to stop the spread of violence. We don't believe he's doing enough. And so I thought that the secretary's comment were wisely balanced.
QUESTION: Mr. President, do you believe that the continuing and escalating violence is an indication of failure on the part of your administration in the approach you've taken of refraining to send General Zinni, of not ourself talking to Chairman...
BUSH: Oh, I think what the escalating violence shows is that there are people who believe in terror as a way of life, people who refuse to allow a peace process to go forward, people who don't want peace in the region. And our government is committed to saying to those folks, "We will do everything in our power to stop you from preventing a peace process from going forward."
And the first step toward any political solution has got to be the Tenet plan. George Tenet, obviously, works for the United States government, he's the person that laid out the plan. There is a road map for a peaceful solution. It's going to take a lot of effort by a lot of people, and we're willing to put in the effort and believe that General Zinni's trip can make a difference.
QUESTION: Mr. President, why are you personally only talking to one side in this conflict? Why don't you reach out to Chairman Arafat?
BUSH: Oh, I believe the administration speaks with one voice, and we've got ample amplification to both parties. And our strategy is a well-thought-out strategy; it's one that reminds both parties there's an obligation to seek peace.
BUSH: I fully understand the Israelis' perspective; that they want to defend themselves. That's why I've constantly called on Mr. Arafat to do a better job of reining in those who would wreak havoc on Israel.
I also agree with the secretary of state that it is going to be very hard to achieve a peaceful settlement if there is a tendency to want to constantly find a reason to escalate. And we hope that the Zinni mission will help get to Tenet, and that's where our focus is. Our focus is to get the parties into a process that the world agrees is a good process.
QUESTION: How is the Saudi plan an opening if it's based on things that the Israelis have long-rejected?
BUSH: Well, first of all, they cannot reject the notion of Crown Prince Abdullah that says, "We recognize Israel's right to exist." I think that's an important opening and I think that's an important statement by Crown Prince Abdullah.
Secondly, it's a position that I took, as well, at the United Nations when I said that there ought to be a Palestinian state. The borders of which, by the way, ought to be negotiated between the two parties, but both states recognize each other's right to exist. And it's an opening. The crown prince's decision to make that statement provides an opening. And that's another reason why the Zinni mission is going forward.
QUESTION: Mr. President, you've consistently called on Mr. Arafat to make, as you've said today, a maximum effort. What seems to be new this week is the administration's skepticism about Mr. Sharon. Are you worried, sir, that retaliation seems to be the only policy that he has in mind?
BUSH: First of all, I fully understand a nation's wanting to defend herself, and I appreciate that. After all, we're in defense of ourself right now. And I can understand the strong desire to enhance security for a people. And I believe that.
I believe what we're saying, though, is that there's got to be a vision for peace; there's got to be more than security; that there's got to be an attempt to achieve a lasting peace. And I hope that my friend, Prime Minister Sharon, agrees with that assessment.
BUSH: I think he does. I think he recognizes that you can't achieve peace by allowing violence to escalate or causing violence to escalate.
And so on the one hand, I fully understand his need to protect the people of Israel, and on the other hand, we look forward to working with him to get him to the Tenet plan. He thought the Tenet plan was a good plan. He agreed that the Mitchell plan is the proper course of action, and now we got to work hard to get into it.
QUESTION: Mr. President, can I ask you about the corporate responsibility measures you put forward?
QUESTION: Some Democrats are saying that they, kind of, fall far short of what's needed, and they say your own treasury secretary, Paul O'Neill, was pushing for stronger measures, lowering the bar for punishment for corporate leaders.
BUSH: I think what they ought to do is look at my proposals; take a good hard look at them. They were very sound, solid proposals. It's the first formal package laid out for the American people to analyze about how to reform corporate governance.
I think it's also very important to make sure that as we reform corporate governance, we don't encourage frivolous lawsuits. I think it's very difficult to have a vibrant society in a free-enterprise sector that is riddled with massive lawsuits all the time.
So I want to have a balanced plan. And I put one out. I'm proud of it, and it makes a lot of sense. And I hope Congress acts on it.
QUESTION: Mr. President, is the recession over now, and looking back, do you think we ever really had one?
BUSH: Well, that's a trick question. And I appreciate you throwing that out there. I actually read clips from other parts of the world before I came out here today, so nice try.
There's no question our economy was hurt by the attacks on 9/11. We'll let the statisticians define what happened or what didn't happen. But our economy went through a massive slowdown, and people's lives were badly affected and a lot of people were laid off.
And that's why the House did the right thing today, and the Senate now needs to act. The House passed a very good bill. It's a bill that not only takes care of unemployed workers; it is a bill that has got some economic stimulus as a major part of it.
BUSH: And now the Senate needs to do something. The Senate needs to act and get the bill to my desk. And I look forward to signing it. You know, we've had too much non-movement on this important issue and it's time to go, time to get a bill.
And it's time for me to end the press conference.
CROWLEY: President Bush from the Rose Garden, taking a couple of questions on a number of subjects. But mostly, he was there to announce that the U.S. will send envoy Anthony Zinni back to the Middle East, where there has been escalating violence for the past couple of weeks.
We have CNN Jerusalem bureau chief Mike Hanna on the phone with us. Mike, I know you've been listening to all this, so, a quick couple of questions. First of all, did you hear anything new in the nuance of U.S. policy? And second of all, watching this from afar, as most of us do, it seems impossible to believe that a U.S. envoy can go over there and end the violence.
MIKE HANNA, CNN JERUSALEM BUREAU CHIEF: Well, Candy, this certainly is a new nuance in U.S. policy. In fact, it represents a major U-turn in U.S. policy. We have heard within the last few minutes President Bush saying that the U.S. envoy, Anthony Zinni, is being sent back to the region, at a time when violence is at its height.
For months now, the U.S. has been saying that Anthony Zinni can only serve a role in this region if the violence has been reduced. General Zinni was here in January, at the beginning of January, and left, basically, with nothing accomplished whatsoever. The message coming then subsequently from the U.S. was that Zinni could do nothing while the violence continued.
The policy, up until this day and these last few minutes, has been that first the violence has got to reduce in level, before Anthony Zinni or any U.S. envoy can affect anything meaningful, in terms of getting a cease-fire in place, and subsequently, down the line, getting back to meaningful negotiations. What has been said in the last few minutes is that this policy has now changed. Anthony Zinni is returning to the region at a time when violence is more intense than it has been in 18 months of ongoing conflict.
The other very important factor in this that we heard President Bush refer to is an idea that has been floated by Saudi Arabia. It is not a plan. It is not a formulated proposal. It is an idea.
Now, this idea that President Bush referred to as a very encouraging sign, is forming the base of what is now a new U.S. initiative to attempt to get some kind of order back to this absolutely mad situation, in which the conflict is beyond any heights experienced before.
Now, the Saudi plan itself is not formulated in any way. And very important here is that Arab League foreign ministers are meeting in Cairo Friday to discuss this plan and find some way of formulating it to present to a summit of Arab leaders in Beirut towards the end of this month.
Now, the timing of President Bush's announcement now, within the last few minutes, is no doubt connected to this Arab League foreign ministers meeting. Here we see emerging a new U.S. initiative in the region, based in part, it appears, on a Saudi Arabian suggestion of how to get this violence to an end -- so a very significant thing we have just heard within the last few minutes, Candy.
CROWLEY: CNN Jerusalem chief bureau chief Mike Hanna, a man who knows whereof he speaks. Thanks, Mike. Let's go quickly to Major Garrett at the White House.
Major, picking up on what Mike has just said, it seems to me there is two reasons to send a U.S. envoy back. Either you think you can do something or you can't afford to be seen as not trying to do something. Which is it?
MAJOR GARRETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It feels to me very much, Candy, like the latter in the situation.
The administration has become increasingly concerned in the last three or four days with what appears to be a change in Israeli policy, which is to try to raise the costs of the Palestinian uprising such that the Palestinians stop attacking Israel. And the Bush administration believes that is a prescription for disaster and just an escalating of violence.
I think the key phrase the president spoke at the very near end of his comments was that the Israeli government cannot achieve peace when violence is escalating or you are causing violence to escalate. And that is the essence of the administration's position. It believes it must step in now to try to send a signal, not only to the Palestinians, Chairman Arafat, but the broader and more modern Arab world, that it is going to deal with the Israeli government and try to discourage them from pursuing what it considers escalation of violence against the Palestinians.
Secondarily, the administration also now knows that Vice President Cheney's trip, which, when it was announced a couple of weeks ago really was thought to have much more to do with what may or may not happen in Iraq, is now going to be dominated by the entire question of what is going to happen between the Israelis and the Palestinians. That's why the vice president was there at the podium: to talk about what he is going to do and who he is going to meet with and what he will discuss them, specifically, about the Middle East situation.
That has now taken front and center for the vice president's trip. These two issues have converged in a way the White House simply believes it cannot ignore any longer. That's why we have the announcement today -- Candy.
CROWLEY: Major Garrett, CNN's White House correspondent -- thanks, Major.
Let's go up to New York.
Jeff Greenfield, let me ask you your take on this. It seems to me that the risk here is that you send an envoy over there and nothing happens. And then you sort of put U.S. prestige and policy on the line and nothing happens. Isn't that the risk here?
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. ANALYST: Sure.
But I think this is one of those situations where, when you have watched public policy long enough, it is like the old days of continuous movies, where people used to say -- they would come in the middle and they would say, "This is where I came in."
I sometimes think the headline could be set in permanent type: "New Violence in Middle East. Hopes for Peace Dim. New Envoy Seeks Breakthrough." My feeling is that this is a situation -- and nobody likes to say it because it sounds almost un-American to say that there is no short-term solution -- at some point, people over there are either going to get tired of killing each other or they are not.
And, as long as they are in this situation, the United States, which has tried to be the honest broker on and off for decades, I think is in a situation where it feels it has to do something. You remember, Candy, that, as a candidate, George Bush was critical of the efforts that President Clinton put in toward the end of his administration to try to get some kind of Middle East peace program, a lasting peace passed.
But there seems to be some kind of pressure on American presidents, as the one superpower, as a region, as a country that tries to be an honest broker: "Don't just stand there. Do something." My feeling, in looking at this year after year after year, is, there are some things that people do because they don't, literally, know what else to do.
CROWLEY: Jeff Greenfield, Major Garrett, Mike Hanna, thank you all for your insight.
INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.
CROWLEY: It's time for a check of the INSIDE POLITICS "Newscycle": Moments ago, President Bush announced he is sending special Mideast Envoy Anthony Zinni back to the region in an effort to stem the escalating violence there. Mr. Bush's decision comes just days after Egypt's president asked him to increase the level of U.S. involvement in the crisis.
Earlier today, President Bush announced a plan to make corporations and their executives more accountable to shareholders. The proposal includes a provision barring top executives found to have engaged in serious misconduct from serving on boards of public corporations.
Now to "The Bottom Line" of the president's CEO accountability plan, here is our resident fact-checker, Brooks Jackson.
BROOKS JACKSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Would the president's proposals have prevented what happened at Enron? No. Even White House officials don't go that far. So, what would his proposals really accomplish? Let's look at some of his key points, such as more accountability for corporate chiefs.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In the future, the CEO's signature should also be his personal certification, vouching for the veracity and fairness of the financial disclosures.
JACKSON: But CEOs sign disclosure reports already. Is the president proposing a real change? Maybe, maybe not.
DONALD LANGEVOORT, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY LAW CENTER: If vouch means, "I have looked into this and, after due inquiry, I'm convinced that what we are saying is true," that would be a meaningful change, a fairly radical one. I'm suspicious that we are ever going to see that as the substance.
JACKSON: So, it could be big. We'll see.
And how about this idea regarding huge executive bonuses?
BUSH: If, however, a financial statement turns out to be grossly inaccurate or the result of serious misconduct, those bonuses should be returned to the company's treasury on behalf of its shareholders.
JACKSON: An applause line, surely, but probably not a major change it.
LANGEVOORT: It's probably the law now. I have no problem with making it clearer that that is the law. But that hardly can be put on a list of major changes to clean up corporate America.
JACKSON: The president's plan leaves other big questions unanswered, too: Who would make up the membership of the independent panel he proposes to oversee accounting ethics? What powers would that independent panel have? And what exactly would justify banishing corporate officials from publicly-traded companies? The president wants to give SEC power to banish those who -- quote -- "clearly abuse their powers," whatever that means.
(on camera): Some of what the president is proposing might turn out to be fairly tough new rules, depending. But, so far, he is proposing not a single additional securities cop to enforce those rules or a single additional dollar for the SEC.
Brooks Jackson, CNN, Washington.
CROWLEY: Joining us with now their takes on some of the issues of the day: Bay Buchanan, president of American Cause; and Donna Brazile, who today was named chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee's Voting Rights Institute.
Donna, congratulations, condolences.
CROWLEY: Listen, let me start with you on this CEO and trying to protect shareholders. Too much, too little? What do you think of the proposal?
DONNA BRAZILE, CHAIRWOMAN, DNC VOTING RIGHTS INSTITUTE: Well, thank you, Candy, for the congratulations.
I think it is too little. By the way, it is just happy talk, sugar-coating. Now, the president really, a former corporate man himself, a businessman, should have really laid down the gauntlet on this one here and really gave us -- the American people want real corporate reform, corporate responsibility. They don't want happy talk.
They don't want to allow these corporate execs to continue to talk out of one side of their mouth and hide losses on another side and not tell the American people the truth. So, I think the president needs to talk to Paul O'Neill and bring us a little bit more meat in this proposal.
CROWLEY: Bay, let me bring you here on this.
I'm assuming you are a good anti-regulation Republican. Where do you come down on this proposal?
BAY BUCHANAN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN CAUSE: You are absolutely right, Candy.
The government does not need any more power. We don't need a new interagency or regulatory board or arm or anything else. I think, when the president starts talking about, we need more information flowing to investors quicker, this is something absolutely I would support.
But the key here is -- if you want to see corporate America turn around -- is in the courts right now. You have laws on the books right now. Let's go after them. Let's investigate them. Let's prosecute them. You've got the civil courts as well. Let's sue them. And when you can bring a company like Arthur Andersen to its knees, all the other accounting firms are going to turn and look and change their practices, if they haven't done so. You do not need any kind of law to do that.
BRAZILE: But, Bay, workers really need protections from these corporate chiefs who are out there making millions of dollars, and they are getting pink slips.
So I think the administration really should go back to the drawing board and put more teeth, more enforcement, and give the American people something a little bit tougher than happy talk.
BUCHANAN: Donna, you are going to have corrupt businessmen no matter what. And the key here is, when these businessmen realize that they are going to end up doing some time -- and I expect you will see some real prosecutions coming down the way for these Enron fellows -- and then they have these huge fines and they have the big legal fees, and they are basically destroyed by these actions, you're going to have all other those businessmen take a serious look. And they're going to say, "Look, that is not a good idea," and they are going to clean up their act.
That is the way to do it, if you take can the laws now and you can seriously prosecute those who violate them. But just passing laws does absolutely nothing.
CROWLEY: Let me interrupt you both, just I want to get on to another subject. Neither one you like what the president said. It must be a great decision.
Let me move on to Marion Barry.
BUCHANAN: A typical Bush decision, I might add.
CROWLEY: But the former mayor of Washington of some repute and some success says that he is going to run for an at-large seat of the city council.
Bay, what do you think?
BUCHANAN: I laugh. I love these Democrats. They lose Gary Condit one day and they pick up Marion Barry the next, so they don't miss a beat here.
But I think what is interesting is, this man has been up and down, failures, and disgraced, and yet here he is at 66 planning his comeback. You've got to admire a person like this. He is out there. He's going to be a great candidate. And I have to throw it to Donna.
I believe, with his abilities, he could win this thing, Donna.
BRAZILE: Well, thank you, Bay. I accept your endorsement, if I decide to run.
But let me just tell you, unlike the Republican Party, which goes out and hand picks candidates and turn around and walk away from them, the Democratic Party will allow voters to decide this.
Marion Barry will face a very tough field if he decides to run. He has formed an exploratory committee. I believe there is a whole new era in the District government, a new era in District politics. And I don't know if he can pull together the same coalition he pulled together in the '70s and '80s to win as many races as he did before. So this is going to be a very tough challenge for Marion Barry. But I do believe the city is...
CROWLEY: I'm sorry, you guys. We ran out of time too soon. But thank you very much. Donna Brazile, Bay Buchanan, we really appreciate it.
BRAZILE: Thank you.
BUCHANAN: You're welcome.
CROWLEY: Frame by frame: new images of the plane that slammed into the Pentagon coming up. See photographs of the horror as it unfolded. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CROWLEY: Welcome back to INSIDE POLITICS.
We have some new pictures we want to show you from one of the worst days that most of us can remember in American history.
Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon, you've got ahold of these pictures. What are they? And where did you get them?
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN MILITARY AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Candy, CNN today obtained the first publicly seen pictures that show the impact of American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon on September 11.
The sequence of five photographs taken by an automatic security camera at a Pentagon checkpoint shows, up to now, what was, up to now, only seen by a few eyewitnesses. The American Airlines 757 comes in extremely low before impacting the ground floor of the Pentagon.
It's hard to see the jetliner at first glance in this first picture, but it is there right near the ground. It is not in the sky, confirming what witnesses told us at the time: that the plane came in extremely low. A lot of people thought it would hit the ground before it hit the Pentagon, but it does impact right at the base of the Pentagon.
These pictures, again, obtained by CNN were taken by a Pentagon security camera. These are not the only pictures of the plane hitting. Sources tell CNN that the Department of Justice is also holding on to a videotape showing the plane hitting the building from the other angle, taken from a nearby hotel security camera. CNN has filed Freedom of Information requests for that material. And, eventually, it may be released.
These pictures, which were in the possession of the Pentagon and the Department of Justice, were obtained by CNN even as we were filing a Freedom of Information request for them.
CROWLEY: Jimmy, let me ask you, other than reminding us of how horrific this day was, do investigators learn anything? Have they learned anything from these pictures from the various angles?
MCINTYRE: Well, you know, this is not like a crash investigation where they have to figure out what happened. They know what happened in this instance.
And so there is not a whole lot more to be learned from the pictures themselves. They do, however, just illustrate what, up to now, we had only heard described from eyewitnesses. Of course, everybody had seen the pictures of the plane hitting the World Trade Center. This is just the first time we have actually seen, with our own eyes, what it looked like when that plane hit the building.
CROWLEY: Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon, thanks so much.
Just ahead, the impact of political factoids: what politics and "Pop Up Video" have in common.
CROWLEY: Call it a case of too much information. Those words you see across the bottom of your TV screen, they are supposed to add more details to the stories we report.
But, as Howard Kurtz of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES" found out, some lawmakers don't like those extra news nuggets.
HOWARD KURTZ, "RELIABLE SOURCES": If you've been watching the Enron hearings -- and who hasn't? -- you might have noticed CNN adding little factoids beneath some of the lawmakers' faces.
SEN. BYRON DORGAN (D), NORTH DAKOTA: Decency and common sense will prevail here.
KURTZ (voice-over): What if this becomes a full-fledged media trend? You know, like VH-1's "Pop Up Videos"?
What if, every time Senator Robert Byrd appeared, we saw this (on screen: just got more pork for West Virginia), or John Edwards (on screen: thinking about running for president in the middle of the night), or John McCain (on screen: never met a TV camera he didn't like), or Trent Lott (on screen: can't stand Tom Daschle), or Tom Daschle (can't Stand Trent Lott)?
Well, guess what? House Energy Committee Chairman Billy Tauzin does not think it's fair for CNN to be suggesting, implying or insinuating that there's something wrong with taking corporate contributions. In fact, he says, he's gotten plenty of money from big media companies as well, more than $70,000 since the last election cycle.
REP. BILLY TAUZIN (R), LOUISIANA: Well, your network has been a big supporter of mine over the years. And so has NBC and ABC and CBS. Did we hammer you when we thought you were wrong? See, the bottom line is, it doesn't matter whether you have been a friend or foe.
KURTZ: The congressman is right on this point: The networks are big-time givers. Since the 2000 election cycle, NBC's owner, General Electric, has given $3.1 million in federal races; ABC's owner, the Disney Company, $2.6 million; CBS's owner, Viacom, $1.6 million; Fox's Owner, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., $1.4 million; Chicago's Tribune Company, which owns numerous TV stations, $112,000. CNN's parent, AOL Time Warner, has doled out $5.6 million, including the period when America Online and Time Warner were separate companies.
What do these media giants get for their money? The House recently took up an amendment, pushed through the Senate by Robert Torricelli, to force networks and local stations to give deeper advertising discounts to federal candidates at election time. But the National Association of Broadcasters, which has donated $525,000 in the last three years, put on a full-court press. And the House voted overwhelmingly to cut the amendment from the campaign finance bill.
Billy Tauzin voted to kill the ad discount (on screen: got $15,000 from National Association of Broadcasters).
(on camera): Why haven't you heard about this? NBC, ABC and CBS have not carried a word. And cable has barely mentioned the amendment. It seems like we ought to do a better job to make sure that corporate money and media money keep popping up into the story (on screen: secretly wants Wolf Blitzer's job).
This is Howard Kurtz of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES."
CROWLEY: Give your opinions on the topics you saw today at CNN.com/INSIDE POLITICS. Plus, don't forget to e-mail Bill Schneider with your ideas for the "Political Play of the Week."
The grand design behind a vote in California. That story is next.
But, first, Wolf joins us with a look at what's ahead on "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS."
WOLF BLITZER, "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS": Trust me. Howard Kurtz does not want my job. I can assure you of that.
CNN, meanwhile, has obtained some images of horror. We will show you these pictures of the Pentagon on September 11 -- also, the story of a controversial transplant that may be of interest to women who can't have children. And Drew Carey says his network censored him. What was the comic trying to do that sent up the alarms? All that right at the top of the hour right after INSIDE POLITICS.
CROWLEY: A quick preview of what is in the works for tomorrow's INSIDE POLITICS: my interview with Illinois Governor George Ryan, why he says he may commute the death sentences of all state inmates facing capital punishment. Jonathan Karl's "Subway Series" continues. He'll be joined by potential presidential candidate Senator John Kerry. Plus, Bill Schneider joins us with his "Political Play of the Week."
And finally a vote, California style. It happened in the upscale waterfront town of Sausalito. Voters there have rejected a proposal to build a new public safety building even though police now are working out of trailers because their headquarters was destroyed by a 1995 flood. So, why was a new facility voted down? Some complained about the nearly $8 million price tag. But the leading opponents charged the facility would violate the town's feng shui. They suggest they will back a new design if it ensures a harmonious energy flow, in accordance with the ancient Chinese design principle.
CNN's coverage continues now with "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS." I'm Candy Crowley.
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