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Is Senate Majority Leader an Obstructionist?; Is President Bush Doing Enough to Stop Middle East Violence?

Aired April 1, 2002 - 19:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: CROSSFIRE. On the left, James Carville and Paul Begala. On the right, Robert Novak and Tucker Carlson. In the CROSSFIRE tonight, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle.


TRENT LOTT (R-MS), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: I think there's no question about, you know, the fact that he has been obstructionist.



DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've been disappointed in the Senate's failure to pass the president's plan.


ANNOUNCER: Is it true what Republicans say about the countries most powerful Democrat? We'll ask him, and get his take on whether President Bush is doing enough to end violence in the Middle East.

It's party time: The chairman of the Democratic and Republican parties go head to head on politics, partisanship and presidential hopefuls.

The ragin' cajun.


JAMES CARVILLE, CNN HOST: And that's by my friends.


ANNOUNCER: And the lone star lefty.


PAUL BEGALA, CNN HOST: You do not want to lock horns with me.


ANNOUNCER: Team up to take on the prince of darkness. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT NOVAK, CNN HOST: We'll see what's left, when I'm done with them. Bring it on!


ANNOUNCER: And the bow tie brawler.


TUCKER CARLSON, CNN HOST: They call me right, because I am right.


ANNOUNCER: Who will prevail? All tonight, on CROSSFIRE.

From the George Washington University, Tucker Carlson.

CARLSON: Good evening and welcome to CROSSFIRE. The new and improved, better than ever, massively super-sized CROSSFIRE. The CROSSFIRE for the new millennium. We're joining you from a new location, live from the George Washington University in downtown Washington, D.C., at a new time, 7:00 Eastern, for a new length, a full hour.

After 20 years, CROSSFIRE has been reborn, but some things haven't changed. We still offer you the sharpest, quickly, liveliest debate in television. A forum where the guests do answer the question, because we make them. As you can tell, I'll be hosting the show alone from now on. Everyone else has been laid off in a flurry of corporate downsizing, sadly.


Actually, that's not true. In fact, we are bring you something else familiar; two of the hosts from the right, naturally, where we don't welcome change. I'm one of them, the other joins us from CNN headquarters in Atlanta, Bob Novak.

Bob, why -- are you afraid of our new hosts on the left? Have you fled to Atlanta?

NOVAK: No, there was some talk, Tucker, that I did not want to be on the same platform with anybody as vile as James Carville, and that is not entirely true. But the real reason I'm down in Atlanta is I'm here for something I never thought I'd ever see, the National Championship basketball game of my beloved Maryland Terps. Go Terps!

CARLSON: Well, Bob, that is an excellent, excellent alibi. I am impressed by it. But I have to tell you, let me reassure you, they are not nearly as terrifying as many people suspect, but they are every bit as dopey.

Here they are from the far reaches of the far left, James Carville and Paul Begala. We welcome them to CROSSFIRE.


CARLSON: Are you ready?

CARVILLE: We are ready.

BEGALA: First let me just say, Tucker, and everybody on behalf of James and myself, how grateful we are to be here, particularly to be picking up the torch for Bill Press, who for six years carried that liberal light into the heart of darkness, now it's our turn, we're going to kick a little right-wing ass.

CARVILLE: There you go.


CARVILLE: I just want to tell Bob, he's down in -- rooting for his beloved Maryland, but you know his alma mater is the University of Illinois. And they went down to New Orleans and played my alma mater, Louisiana State University and was sent home with their tails between their legs. So Bob, I hope that Maryland is better than Illinois.


NOVAK: That was...

CARVILLE: I would like to remind everybody that you're an Illinois graduate.

NOVAK: I'm an Illinois graduate, I have dual loyalty. That's better than you who has no loyalty.


BEGALA: Well, loyalty is our first topic. It's my first night on a new job, I get to introduce our first guest: Tom Daschle is the majority leader of the Senate of the United States of America. Ladies and gentlemen, Tom Daschle everybody.


SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MAJORITY LEADER: Tucker, good to see you.

CARLSON: Thanks for joining us, senator.

DASCHLE: Glad to be here, Tucker.

CARLSON: As you might imagine, we have a full quiver of savage questions for Senator Daschle. And we'll be back in just a moment to pose this.

But, first, for the latest on the conflict in the Middle East, we go to CNN's chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour standing live in Israel -- Christiane. CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Tucker, there's been quite a lot of activity just in the last few hours.

It's about 3:00 in the morning here, and in the last few minutes, we've heard from Jibril Rajoub, who is the head of security in the West Bank. He has told us that his compound in the West Bank is right now being stormed by the Israeli soldiers. He claims that the Israelis are using human shields, Palestinians, as human shields as they advance in there. He says that there are a lot of people in his compound who have sought shelter there, and he claims that there are casualties, as well. We have not been able to independently verify this, but he's certainly been telling us this in the last few minutes as this operation appears to be under way.

Another operation that started a few hours ago, we've been hearing helicopter activity in the air and the Israelis confirm and Palestinians confirm that an operation is under way in and around Bethlehem. Now, this comes on a day when the Israeli military offensive has been stepped up in the occupied territories of the West Bank. They have moved out from Ramallah to places like Qalidia and Tulkarem, these are cities in the West Bank. And in Ramallah itself, there was a fierce firefight today between Israelis and people holed up in a building in the center of Ramallah.

Ramallah, of course, is where Yasser Arafat is also being isolated in a couple of rooms in his compound. Now, the Israelis say they've rounded up something like 700 people in Ramallah and they're continuing to -- quote -- "isolate" Arafat as they try to, again -- quote -- "root out terrorism." We spoke to the defense minister of Israel today, and he told us that Arafat would not be harmed.

Of course, all of this comes as yet another car bomb, yet another suicide attack happens in Jerusalem. There was a car that approached one of the many checkpoints here earlier this evening. A policeman, we are told, went to check this car which looked suspicious, it detonated. The driver was killed. The policeman was seriously injured. And police are still trying to investigate exactly what was going on.

But, as I say, we talked to the defense minister and he was not 100 percent sure that this four-day operation was eventually going to work. He hoped that it would minimize the violence that was going on, but he said nothing would work short of a political solution and political talks -- Tucker.

CARVILLE: Christiane. Of course -- I mean, most people looking at this, and they say look, it is fact, Yasser Arafat is coming out of that compound either dead or alive. What's your best guess is he going to come out of there dead or is he going to come out alive?

AMANPOUR: Well, it's hard to guess. All I can tell you is what we're being told by the Israelis here who appear, right now, to be in control of his fate. They tell us that they have given orders, the defense minister told us that absolute clear cut orders to his troops that this man must not be harmed, must not be killed. He said -- quote -- "We want him alive because whether or not he's a friend of peace right now, he is still central to this equation." But there is a huge argument and differences going on within the Israeli political establishment of what should happen to him.

The more hard line members of this government believe he should have been exiled. And it's still -- the jury is out whether or not they will eventually exile him if these suicide bombings continue at pace -- James.

CARLSON: Thank you, Christiane. Christiane Amanpour will be back at the top of the hour with LIVE FROM JERUSALEM. Thanks very much.

Senator Daschle, thanks for joining us, our first guest on the new CROSSFIRE. We appreciate it. Let me be mean now.


CARLSON: Two of your lieutenants, Lieberman and Biden, the two Joes on the Sunday shows this weekend. And both of them made the same point, no doubt coordinated by you, or people who are under you, which is that the violence in the Middle East is partly Bush's fault, that he hasn't been attentive enough to Israel. And therefore, by extension we wouldn't be having all these suicide bombings if he had paid closer attention. That's an appallingly unfair thing to say, isn't it? Will you repudiate that?

DASCHLE: Well, I think what you've seen in the last six days are six terrorist attacks that require our presence. I don't think there's any question, Tucker, that unless we're there, as the vice president himself said just recently, we can't possibly hope to have any kind of resolution here. You've got to have a resolution and I think our presence is going to be required.

I think we have to play this day to day, when no one really knows for sure just what that role will entail, how we can define it. But without any doubt, we've got to be there, and I think the vice president was right. Unless we're there, I don't think you're going to see a change.

CARLSON: But that's really like coming out for a sunny day. I mean everybody agrees with what you just said. I guess the question is if Bush in his inattention, as Democrats across the political -- in both chambers of Congress have suggested again and again, is responsible partly for the violence by his inattention, how exactly was Bush not paying close enough attention to Israel lead to car bombings?

DASCHLE: Well, you've got to be involved. There's no question. I don't think there's any doubt that the more we can be there at the highest levels, the more we can assume that we're going to be successful. I mean, that's really I think what both Joes were saying yesterday, that unless we're there, unless we're there in a committed way, we saw what the former administration did. President Clinton was there. He was engaged. He did all that he could do. He led up to a point where we really felt we were within inches of a peace agreement and we lost that opportunity. CARLSON: That we never got.

BEGALA: But, Tucker, if Bush is -- he's not responsible for the violence in the Middle East, but he ought to be responsible for America's response to the violence. This is what we've gotten from him just in the last few weeks. Before the Passover Massacre occurred, he said we were making good progress. Then the Passover Massacre occurred.

Israel responded by sending tanks into the West Bank. He at first criticized that move. Then on Saturday, both condemned through the United Nations and condoned at his ranch in Texas that action into the West Bank. Isn't it time for fair-minded observers, which I am, and you to point out this is an incoherent policy that Bush has in the Middle East?

DASCHLE: Well, Paul, I don't know, but I think what we've got to do now is to ensure that we assert ourselves with all the authority, all the credibility that the United States can do. And that means at the highest levels, this government, this administration has to be engaged. It has to be (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

CARLSON: Senator Daschle, I'm sorry to interrupt you. I'm going to have to play the role of tech here and move your microphone up. I'm enjoying every moment of it, I have to say.


CARLSON: I beg your pardon.



CARVILLE: There goes pretty boy.

DASCHLE: Thank you, James.

CARLSON: James coming on to me over here.

CARVILLE: All right. Senator, in Sunday's "New York Times," the influential and knowledgeable columnist, Tom Friedman, who we both know and I think would say both of us have a lot of respect for, said that U.S. and NATO troops must guarantee any Israeli-Palestinian border assuming one is agreed to. As majority leader, could you support the use of U.S. troops in the Middle East to guarantee an Israeli/Palestinian border?

DASCHLE: Well, James, at some point that may be necessary. I wouldn't support it right now. I don't think either side want us there, frankly. And until they do, I think it would be premature for us to go in and try to establish something.

What we've got to do now is what I said just a moment ago, we've got to assert ourselves. We've got to be talking to both sides. We've got to make sure that the leadership that we've got, that we can demonstrate and only we can demonstrate, and be a part of this process.

CARVILLE: But if we were successful in getting the peace agreement, you would support the use of U.S. troops on that border?

DASCHLE: Well, if we can assume that both sides would have us, I thing that that has to be part of the formula. They have to want us there.

NOVAK: Mr. Majority Leader, I want to commend you in not joining in Paul Begala's demagoguery and being a responsible public servant. And I'm going to even go further and get yourself a political profile in courage. Would you say, sir, that the militaristic policy by General Sharon that he's practiced since taking office has contributed to this desperate situation and that his attack, his declaration of war, his attack in the West Bank now is not leading to a peaceful solution?

DASCHLE: Bob, we've had six terrorist attacks in six days. What would you do if that was New York, Washington, Chicago and Dallas? I don't think we'd do anything differently. I don't know that the Israeli government has any choice but to be as aggressive as they are. They're responding as we would. I don't think there would be any doubt. Bob Novak himself would be calling for the same kind of retaliatory attacks were we to see that in this country and you know that.

NOVAK: I can't tell you how disappointed I am in your answer, Senator, because you know how much respect I have for you. Can you really say, can you believe in your heart that the attack, the brutality of the Israeli attack is leading to conditions where they can sit down at a table and negotiate peace?

DASCHLE: Well, I don't know that we have any choice at this point. We've got to find ways with which to ensure that in spite of the brutality on both sides, Bob, that we find some resolution here. And that goes back to the role of the administration. As the vice president said, you've got to be engaged. And I hope we see more of that more in future weeks.

CARVILLE: Senator, got to take a quick break here. Coming up on the new CROSSFIRE, the fireworks of domestic politics. Wanted, Tom Daschle, is he the president's public enemy No. 1?

And later, it was a move rich in political intrigue, but what is the comeback kid now saying about it? It's our quote of the day.


CARLSON: Welcome back to the new and, we believe, vastly improved CROSSFIRE. Our guest, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle. And to Atlanta we go. Bob Novak, do you have a question?

NOVAK: Yes, indeed.

Mr. Majority Leader, you've been very sensitive about charges that you're an obstructionist. And I won't go through all the list of House passed legislation that you've not permitted to see a vote. But I ask you just one simple question, sir. Do you have any plans to confirm any Appeals Court nominee by President Bush who is pro-life on abortion. And if you do, please tell me his or her name?

DASCHLE: Bob, let me just say, you know, the issue of judges has been one that we've been fighting for a long time. We have already confirmed more appellate and district judges than the Republicans did under Ronald Reagan in his first year and that the Democrats did under Bill Clinton in their first year. Forty-one so far -- 42, actually -- 7 appellate judges. And the answer is, yes, we will confirm people that we believe are qualified.

NOVAK: Name one pro-life nominee, please?

DASCHLE: Well, why don't you name one and I'll tell you whether we'll pass him or not.

BEGALA: Mr. Leader -- I'm sorry to cut you off, Bob -- I also want to get on to other things, because I have, you'll be surprised, Novak -- the exact opposite view. The problem is not whether Daschle has been too obstructionist. The problem has been the way Bush has run roughshod over the executive branch.

He, for example, I'm told, refused to brief you and other leaders from both parties on Capitol Hill about his shadow government. He has refused to allow the Government Accounting Office, an non-partisan agency, to review the records of the Cheney energy task force. He has refused to allow our homeland security director, whose salary we pay, to come and testify before the Congress that pays his salary on behalf of the American people.

The question is this: When is the Congress going to stand up to these authoritarian acts from a right-wing unelected president? That's a question. You asked for a question, Tucker. That's a question.


CARLSON: That was a soliloquy.

DASCHLE: Paul, that's a very good question. Would you repeat the question? The points you make about their unwillingness to work with us is absolutely right. We've been trying to get Tom Ridge to come before the committees of Congress to tell us how he is going to commit the $38 billion that they want to spend on homeland security. Nobody has that much authority and so little willingness to respond to the questions the Congress has about how it ought to be committed. We've got to change that, and this administration so far has been unwilling to do so.

BEGALA: Will you subpoena Ridge and enforce it with a contempt to Congress citation?

DASCHLE: Well, I said if nothing else works, that maybe something we look at. CARLSON: Yes, but, Senator, it's not simply the administration that's having trouble working with the left in the Democratic party on the Hill. It's also some modern Democrats who it looks like are staging sort of a mutiny on environmental issues. The fuel economy standards apparently, your energy bill in general, and I guess I go through the whole list of things in which your side is reported to be losing. But I just want to focus on one -- ANWAR. Are you going to get it, do you think?

DASCHLE: There will be a vote on ANWAR, but it will not pass. The votes are not there to pass ANWAR, and I'm proud to say that.

CARLSON: And I'm wondering in part because it is a victory for the radical environmentalist, part of a huge consistency for the Democratic Party, but I'm wondering, can you articulate really clearly, apart from its effect on the Musk Oxen, what the problem with drilling on this tiny patch in ANWAR is?

DASCHLE: You saw just this week again, Tucker, a very reputable study which came out that said this would do serious damage not only to the ANWAR area, but the larger area in northern Alaska. We get a minimal amount of oil, we ruin the whole area permanently, and there are other options. Conservation, efficiency, fuel efficiency, the kinds of things have been talking about, are a far better option. Alternative energy is a far better option. We don't have to do that much damage for so little good. And I think the vast majority of the American people support that position.

CARVILLE: Congratulate Mr. Begala on asking an excellent question. I want to move to something else. This bogus so-called Social Security commission, which I have to point out, the co-chairman of is a fellow by the name of Robert Parsons, who is the CEO of the company that owns CNN, and who went out and in my opinion fraudulently misrepresented facts to Mr. Richard Parsons, who fraudulently misrepresented facts to his fellow black Americans. But at any rate...


BEGALA: ... fired on day one.

CARVILLE: We're talking about cutting taxes that young people have to pay in and guaranteeing benefits to older people. Now, we know that can't be done, Senator. In your opinion, will this be made up by increased taxed on Social Security, or will it be made up by cutting benefits?

DASCHLE: They could be both, James, and that's exactly the problem we have with the commission's recommendations. You're going to see dramatic reductions in the availability of benefits, you're going to see higher taxes, and not only that, you are going to see a $1.5 trillion drain out of the trust fund for purposes of government today. That is wrong.

CARVILLE: And that will be after the election, I bet, probably, after the election, right. Coming up, the CROSSFIRE news and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) story tailor made for us. She gained the spotlight by taking it all off, now this Colorado mayor is facing the biggest fight of a brief political career. And a mea culpa from a friend of mine. Find out who it is and what he said in our quote of the day.


BEGALA: And now the news behind the news, those peculiar, bizarre and downright wacky stories that make up the CROSSFIRE news alert.

Leading off, a state appeals court in Michigan today struck down that state's 105-year-old law against using vulgar language in front of women and children. The court decision throws out the conviction of a canoeist who let loose a stream of curses after falling into the water. As someone who my wife calls a potty mouth, I can say that's one good decision.

NOVAK: James, the seven city council members in Columbia, Tennessee couldn't get along, bickering, staring daggers at each other. So mayor Barbara McIntyre had an idea: Counseling for her fractious colleagues. For once they agreed -- voting seven to nothing to pay $5,000 to a counseling firm.

Counselor Marie Jennings will interview each council member and then hold a group session. Can you image what this might do for Congress? Tom Delay and Tom Daschle counseled to be nice? But please, keep it away from the CROSSFIRE hosts.

CARLSON: And in Georgetown, Colorado, Mayor Colleen Brooks is facing a recall from angry voters. After only a year in office, Brooks has been accused of faking a physical assault, ordering the assassination of a police officer and flashing her breasts in public. Residents of the Colorado town say they're embarrassed by the publicity, though they might have expected it, the flashing part. Before she entered politics, Colleen Brooks was a stripper. As we learned during the Clinton years, you can elect them, but you can't change them.

CARVILLE: Just what you thought politics couldn't get more low down and dirty, the Fox network has announced a new round in their sorried sleazy celebrity boxing series. The new fight will feature the Reverend Jesse Jackson against the Reverend Jerry Falwell.

The pugilistic preachers will square off in the sleekly southern town of Cossida (ph) , Georgia on June 4th, two days before the scheduled Tyson Lennox Lewis fight. For one has never shied away from Protestant showmanship, this is over the line unless the money is real good, or it's April Fool day.

CARLSON: I like that.

CARVILLE: And this is real, no joke. Now the moment you've all been waiting for, our quote of the day goes to former President Bill Clinton. this weeks "Newsweek" the former president was asked, if he had to do it all over again, would he pardon Mark Rich? His response, probably not, just for the politics, it was terrible politics, it wasn't worth the damage to my reputation.

NOVAK: James, where did President Clinton ever get any idea he had any reputation left? He certainly didn't with anybody I knew.

CARVILLE: I'll tell you what he did that this president never did, is he got elected fair and square, and he led the...

NOVAK: Thanks to Ross Perot.

CARVILLE: He led this country through the greatest economic boom in history.

CARLSON: Let me ask you an honest question, isn't this perfectly Clintonian in that it's all about him? It's not about subverting justice, it's not about Mark Rich's victims. It's all about my reputation.

CARVILLE: He did more the American people than any president in the last 50 years, you can look it up.

NOVAK: One thing I will say, he did more for James Carville's bankroll than any president.

CARVILLE: You didn't do too bad either, Bob. It did more for more other American's payroll than any president in history.

BEGALA: I want to see if our friends on right...

CARLSON: We are going to have to hit the "be quiet bell," there you go. Raise your hand if you have to go to the bathroom. Coming up, a CNN news alert of today's top stories, and then joining us to kick off a new era in CROSSFIRE history, the heads of the Democratic and Republican Parties, stay with us.



CARLSON: Now, James, O'Hare Airport evacuated, thousands inconvenienced. Now as usual, Democrats have been on the leading edge of the wave of hysteria about airport security. And I'm wondering if you think it's worth it? I mean, no lives were saved. There was no real threat. Don't you think we've gone a little overboard here?

CARVILLE: I'll tell you what. What happened was is one of these magnetometers wasn't working. And I think they made exactly the right decision. I fly a lot. If they find out that it's not working, then let's pull everybody back and go through it again. You know, most Americans are willing to be inconvenienced some, but we're in the middle of a war on terrorism.

CARLSON: But, look at it this way: A spokesman for the airport was asked, well, how many people were inconvenienced? How many flights were delayed? And she didn't know. She didn't care enough to know. CARVILLE: Then talk to the airport. Don't talk to me. I mean, she didn't know, she should have found out, but it's got nothing to do with Democrats and Republicans because the spokesman full of air.

CARLSON: That's totally false.


I'll tell you why. Who brought you seat belt laws? Who brought you anti-smoking laws? Who brought you helmet laws? Who brought you...


CARVILLE: Who brought you child labor laws? Why don't we let...

CARLSON: That was 100 years ago, Pat. That was in 1902. They are a little too strict, I would have to say anyway.

CARVILLE: You think you ought to be allowed to smoke on airplanes?

CARLSON: Not on airplanes, but in elevators.

CARVILLE: Well, the Democrats bought that, you know.

CARLSON: All right.

CARVILLE: Coming up, party time. We take the gloves off and do battle with those party animals, the top dogs of the Republican and Democratic parties. And get a load of this, you're already sounding off about the new CROSSFIRE. Believe me, you'll hear it all. And if you'd like to fire back, here's what you do.

Now the moment we've been waiting for.


ANNOUNCER: If you'd like to fire back at CROSSFIRE, e-mail us at Make sure to include your name and home town.


ANNOUNCER: If you'd like to join our studio audience, call 202- 994-8CNN or e-mail

CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. Now the moment we've been waiting for. Let's bring on the chairman of the two political parties. We'll be locking horns with Terry McAuliffe, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and his Republican counterpart, former governor of Montana, Marc Racicot.

Welcome. Welcome. Wow.

First, a little pomp and circumstance before we get to the issues of parties and Bill Clinton. We've asked the two party chairmen to cut our ceremonial CNN CROSSFIRE ribbon to kick off the first day of our show. You have the implements right there. I hope you will.

We are open for business.


CARLSON: Thank you. OK, Terry McAuliffe.


CARLSON: We've been nice long enough.


MCAULIFFE: Where did the Wizard of Oz go? Where did Novak go?

CARLSON: He's still behind the curtain.

Let me ask you this. The day after the campaign finance reform bill is signed, this is, of course, a huge, massive victory for Democrats who hate soft money with every fiber of their being. And I think, I'm really talking about you as a person who hates soft money.

But the day after that, the Democratic party took, as you know, you took two of the biggest donations in soft money ever given to political parties, one from the creator of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which is embarrassing enough in itself, but isn't this so vial and hypocritical and embarrassing? Aren't you ashamed of this?

MCAULIFFE: Well, first, Tucker, your facts are wrong. We'd taken it months before, but that's -- you have it right on your facts.

When I ran for party chair a year and a half ago, I promised that I was going to bring our party into the 21st century. When I became chairman, I faced a party that leased space all over town. We had no voter file. We had no data file. We had 70,000 e-mail addresses. We couldn't be competitive in the future unless we built the infrastructure of our party, which I promised to do.

And I'm happy to report, a year later, we have done just that, over a million new e-mail addresses. We're building a new national headquarters, state of the art TV, radio facilities. We have to be competitive. It is my job as party chairman to make sure that our party can deliver our message. And I was sick and tired of us not being able to do it.

CARLSON: And you've done a marvelous at that. And if anybody can raise millions in soft money, it's you. I like soft money. I applaud that. But you don't like soft money officially. You spend a lot of time and other Democrats are talking about how it's not just wrong, but immoral. Soft money is wrong. So I know you have to raise it, but isn't it hypocritical? Aren't you a little embarrassed to be doing this?

MCAULIFFE: Well, first of all, there's nothing immoral about it. I never said it's been immoral. CARLSON: But it's poison (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

MCAULIFFE: But what our new infrastructure is allowing us to do is build the small direct mail base of our party, taking our party back to the grassroots. The Republicans, to their credit, for 20 years have built up their infrastructure. We had no infrastructure. We have it now. We're going to be able to get our message out going forward, and that's what it's all about.

CARVILLE: Governor, as you know, the opponents of the McCain- Feingold bill have hired former cigarette lawyer Ken Starr to represent them to try to get this overturned. As chairman of the Republican party, do you hope that the courts uphold McCain-Feingold or would you like to see them overturn it?

MARC RACICOT, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Well, I've been, all along, had concerns about whether or not McCain- Feingold actually will do what it represents itself to be able to do.

CARVILLE: Would you like to see the courts uphold it?

RACICOT: Well, I want to make absolutely certain that all of its provisions are constitutional. Now, clearly, some of them are. The restrictions upon free speech I think are going to be a matter of some scrutiny.

CARVILLE: But what would you, as chairman of the party, would you like to see the court uphold? Are you for this or are you against this? You're in Montana. I know in Montana you all talk real plain. You either for it or you're against it. Are you for this or against it?

RACICOT: This was not my original version of the bill. I don't think it can do what it's represented to the American people to be able to do. It's going to diminish the importance of the parties. And I think the parties are very important to our political system.

CARVILLE: So, you're against it.


CARVILLE: OK, thank you.

Terry, let me ask you, talking about building new buildings, there's a lot of people that think that more than a new building, the Democratic party needs a new backbone. I mean, Paul Glastris in the respected "Washington Monthly" wrote an article about the Democrats don't know where they stand for anything. Frank Rich, probably the best columnist writing in America today, in this Saturday's "New York Times" made the same point.

And sometimes, I got to tell you, as a Democrat, I feel the same way. We're working in a new building. Terry, does our party have a backbone? Are we willing to stand for something or are we letting President Bush and the Republicans run all over us? MCAULIFFE: Well, first of all, we stand for a lot of things. It's not a new building, it's a new infrastructure. But look at what happened to us last year, James. We won all across this country. We won both governorships, Virginia, New Jersey. We won 39 of 42 mayors races. We had the greatest percentage victories ever in the history of the Democratic party. Last year, 2001, George Bush was at 90 percent.

The reason is we were out there fighting on kitchen-table issues: education, health care, prescription drug benefit, patients' bill of rights, getting our economy going again. Under Bill Clinton, this country created 22 million new jobs. That is something we are very proud of. Since George Bush has become president, we've lost 8 million jobs.

CARLSON: Governor Racicot, as long as James is cross-dressing here and going to his own guy, I'm going to have to do the same thing.


CARLSON: Hey, I'm tolerant though.

CARVILLE: Oh, pretty boy, you are a pretty boy.

CARLSON: Thank you, James. That's like the fifth time.

But, Governor Racicot, there was another -- and he's quoting the "New York Times", I will too -- there was a remarkable piece by Rick Berk in the "New York Times" the other day that had a bunch of Republicans, including the speaker, Denny Hastert, quoted, saying we resent -- essentially, we resent the White House for not working hard enough on our behalf in the upcoming mid-terms. There's a feeling among Hill Republicans that the president is kind of hording his high approval ratings and not going all out for them. Do you think that is true?

RACICOT: No. You want a straight answer? It's absolutely not true.

CARLSON: Then why are they saying it?

RACICOT: He's been all over the United States of America. He's got a constitutional duty to perform that's very grave and very serious that he takes very seriously to perform it.

In addition to that, of course, he knows that life goes on, that there is a certain political life of this country that has to be engaged in. And he has been engaged in that political life. There is always going to be some legislative branch tension between the legislative and executive branch, some difference of view and opinion. There's not unanimity on every single occasion.

But look at the record. You have a Republican House and many, many Republicans in the Senate who have all come together with the president. And they've worked on education. They've worked on taxes. They've worked on a huge variety of different legislative measures with a great deal of cooperation and with success.

CARVILLE: Governor, you were talking about engaging. And let me ask you -- let me quote to you from Jackson Diehl, who is executive editor of the "Washington Post", a man I'm told is extremely knowledgeable on foreign policy, what he said about the president's decision to disengage in the Middle East.

He said, and I'm reading from this week's Sunday's "Washington Post": "The president's decision to disengage is beginning to look like an error of historic proportions." Do you think the president made the right decision when he said he would disengage and we didn't have a strategic interest in Israeli/Palestinian conflict?

RACICOT: Well, there's not been any evidence at all of any disengagement, James.

CARVILLE: Of course. He announced when he -- excuse me, Governor, I don't mean to be disrespectful...

RACICOT: Let's take a look at the record.

CARVILLE: ... when he was president, he said he was going to back off and not be involved in this.

RACICOT: No. Let's take a look at the record. First of all, you have a conflict of difficulty of immense historical proportion. Since 1948 -- what year were you born?

CARVILLE: I was born in 1944, actually.

RACICOT: 1944. Well, I was born in 1948, so...

CARVILLE: Well, you're a lot younger than me.

RACICOT: ... throughout my entire lifetime, 10 American presidents have dealt with a very, very difficult issue.

CARVILLE: But he didn't deal with it. He just (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

RACICOT: He is dealing with it.

CARVILLE: Oh, yeah. Now it's all blown up.


CARLSON: It's the president setting off car bombs again. Come on, that's so unfair.

Now, Terry McAuliffe, to another president, a president I like to talk about, that of course is your friend Bill Clinton...

MCAULIFFE: You can't get over him, Tucker. You go to bed thinking about this man every night.

CARLSON: You know, I'm not ashamed to admit it.


Thank you very much and every night I wake up screaming. But answer this: One of the things I had hopes for was that Bill Clinton was finally telling the truth when he left office and said, look, I'm going to devote my life to making this world a better place. Well, we learned from the Jonathan Alter piece in "Newsweek" the other day, what's he doing? He made like $40 million, that's a conservative estimate, speaking, $12 million on his book. Basically, he's just been buck-raking the whole time. What has he done to make the world a better place in the year he has been gone?

MCAULIFFE: The "Newsweek" article I read actually said 15 to 20. But, you know, you always like to double the numbers. The president, obviously, has to pay off...


MCAULIFFE: He has had to go out to raise a lot of money to pay off the legal bills because of independent counsels who spent $75 million and guess what? Came up with nothing. All your right-wing...

CARLSON: I know it's the fault of the right wing. But, listen, answer my question. What's he been doing to make the world a better place.

MCAULIFFE: I mean, it is what it is, right-wing nuts went out and spent a lot of money and...

CARLSON: I understand that. Let's talk about your hero. He's making money. That's all he's -- he's like a pig at the trough. That's all he's doing. What has he done to make the world a better...


MCAULIFFE: Let's not get into this game. I mean, Ronald Reagan left office and went over and got $2 million from Japan, the first thing he did when he left office. Former President George Bush has traveled the world giving speeches. He's been to Saudi Arabia. He's done business deals. So, cut it out.

Tucker, let's go both ways. You want to play that? We'll go right at you. But he's out there making money.


CARVILLE: Mr. Chairman, you're beating him too bad. Let the boy take a shot.

CARLSON: Now you're egging me on, because I could, I could go on and on.

MCAULIFFE: Get over Bill Clinton.

CARLSON: Never, never, never.

(CROSSTALK) I got to go. I got to go. Thank you, the two chairmen, Mr. Racicot, Mr. McAuliffe, thank you both very much.

Just ahead, get ready for the big rumble. You thought this was big? "Round 6" when we return with Bob and Paul. No gloves, no guests, sadly, no Jell-O. Just a straightforward brawl. We'll be right back.


BEGALA: Time for "Round 6", where we go after each other, bareknuckle style. Our first topic is war in the Middle East. Let's begin with Bob Novak in Atlanta. Bob, what's your take on the war in the Middle East?

NOVAK: Paul, I want to tell you how disgusted I am with you and James in making this a...

BEGALA: Not half as disgusted as I am...

NOVAK: If you mind if I speak while you're interrupting. I can't tell you how disgusted I am with you and James making a very serious question into a political issue, lionizing Bill Clinton, attacking George W. Bush. This is too serious for this. And the question is is the United States in the right posture in supporting Israel? Has nothing to do with partisan politics. And I think you ought to really look at yourself and seeing whether you're just playing cheap party politics with a very serious international question.

CARLSON: You know, I agree with Bob. I think you need to repent.

BEGALA: There's a hell of a difference between failure and success and the difference is measured in blood. Right now, our policy in the Middle East has been an abject failure. Our president is rudderless and clueless. He doesn't know the Middle East from the Midwest...

NOVAK: There you go again. There you go again.

BEGALA: ... and we ought to get somebody in there who knows what the hell they're doing.

CARLSON: That's totally outrageous. If I can inject a serious note into the kind of ludicrous soliloquy you just delivered? This president is not in control of every car bombing or every nuance...

BEGALA: He ought to be in control of his mouth...

CARLSON: These are two different countries that are not this country. And this president is not in any way responsible for what happens in the Middle East, and the guy is trying to do his best.

CARVILLE: Let me apologize to Mr. Novak because, my goodness, we attacked President Bush and defended Bill Clinton. You know what? I'm happy that he's disgusted that we are telling the American people what happened.

CARLSON: You are not telling the American people anything.

CARVILLE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) like every other Democrat does, you're not going to get that.


I'm going to stand up there and tell the truth. This president, according to the "Washington Post", made an error of historic proportions when he disengaged from the Middle East and he ought to be held accountable for it and I'm going to do it.

NOVAK: James, why don't you get over Bill Clinton? He is history. It's over. Let's discuss what the problem is instead of engaging in this cheap distronics (ph).

CARVILLE: Bob, I'm talking about the Middle East. This is happening right now.

CARLSON: Actually, you're not. You're (UNINTELLIGIBLE).


CARLSON: You explain specifically how this president's policy has led to death in the Middle East?

CARVILLE: Let me tell you, because he said that the United States didn't have a strategic interest in the Palestinian side of the contract.

CARLSON: Does that make them want to kill each other?



CARVILLE: His father went to Madrid, eight trips, made many, many, many...

CARLSON: Madrid is not the Middle East. What are you talking about?


NOVAK: Can I ask Carville a question please?

CARLSON: I'm sorry, the sacred bell has gone off.

BEGALA: The president should be responsible for America's policy, not for the Middle East violence, but for our policy. His policy has been incoherent.

CARLSON: That makes absolutely zero sense.

(CROSSTALK) CARVILLE: We're talking about the NCAA basketball tournament. And a lot of these elites here, Mr. Novak -- I want to get your opinion on this -- are decrying the low graduation rates of these NCAA basketball teams. What's your opinion of this?

NOVAK: I think these are a lot of people who don't like basketball. Anybody who doesn't like college basketball is a little sick anyway. Let me make two points. A college degree doesn't mean that much. I mean, if James Carville has one from LSU, how much can it mean?

No. 2, the other question is I know a lot of these kids who play college basketball. They may not get degrees, but they have had the exposure to the big time. Even if they don't play pro ball, they're going to get much better jobs than they would have had if they had never gone to college.

CARVILLE: You know, Bob, my college degree means a lot to me. It took me 10 years to get it. So, dammit, it ought to mean something here.

BEGALA: All right. Thank you Mr. Carville for that elevating discussion there.

I'm actually going to have pull for Indiana because, for first, they fired Bobby Knight's ass. And second, Novak is from Maryland. Therefore, Indiana must be the better team.

Coming up next, the chance that you've been waiting for. You get to fire back at all of us. And we may fire back at you as well.


CARLSON: Welcome back. Time for members of our studio audience to take a shot at us. Before we let that happen, though, we're going to take a look at some of the e-mails you've been sending. Needless to say there are many of them.

The first, "of course now, CNN is bringing on board two of the most vial political critters on earth, James Carville and Paul Begala. We are fans of Bob Novak and Tucker Carlson," signed Tara and Dave Olson of East Granby, Connecticut. You know, it's funny, Bob and I are fans of Tara and Dave Olson of East Granby, Connecticut.

BEGALA: And it took two people to write three sentences.

CARVILLE: That's really creative.

CARLSON: You know what? I think that's for you, Paul.

BEGALA: Here we go. "I will not be able to take a full hour of James Carville." David Kuhn of Odessa, Texas. Hey, David, it takes a lot more than James to fill up an hour in Odessa.

CARVILLE: I don't know what to tell you, Dave, because you're already gone because you couldn't take an hour. But good luck to you out there in Odessa.

BEGALA: "Hey, James and Paul, let's start kicking a little butt. We bleeding heart liberals are itching for a good fight. Where is Bill Clinton when we need him?" Dan Femal from Houston, Texas, my hometown.

CARLSON: You know, Dan might have the answer to that. If you have $300,000, $400,000, you could meet with Bill Clinton for about an hour or two and come to your house and give a little speech. Power to the people, I said.

OK. We have a question from the audience. Hello, what's your name?

ALLISON: Hi, I'm Allison. I'm from (UNINTELLIGIBLE) California. And I like James and Paul. And I want to ask them what they think about how Democrats should fight Bush on policy issues without looking like they're against the war on terrorism?

CARVILLE: Well, Democrats don't have to look like they're against the war on terrorism because they're for the war on terrorism and they supported that. But, I mean, I think there's any number of policy issues. First, they could ask him where the $5.6 trillion surplus went. Second, they could ask him about what we've been talking about tonight, his disastrous decision to disengage in the Middle East. Next, we could ask him about why does he let energy companies write executive orders. You know, if you plagiarize something right here in GW, you would be out of school for doing the same thing that the president of the United States did when he let the energy lobbyists write...

CARLSON: He is no Forrest (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Goodwin. You just back off right there.


NOVAK: You know, Carville has put out memorandums to the members of Congress telling them support the president, pretend you're really for him on the war on terrorism and attack him on everything else. So, that's his posture.


CARVILLE: That's exactly what I'm saying. Yes, I'm saying we ought to support the war on terrorism. We ought to attack his environmental policy, his fiscal policy and his foreign policy. What's wrong with that? It's America.

NOVAK: It's just politics.

BEGALA: And if John Ashcroft says if we dare to criticize Bush, we're providing aid and comfort to the enemy, which is -- hey, lock me up.


We're still Americans.

CARLSON: All right. We have another question. We won't attack you. Don't worry. What's your name?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In regards to the new campaign finance bill, basically my question is do the Republicans really see it as long-term loss considering that it doubles their acceptance of hard money from $1,000, $2,000 and that George W. Bush did just raise the most hard money in financing campaign history?

CARLSON: Look, it's an open question, which party will benefit more from the reforms that were just signed by the president. But I think that the real opponents of this law don't oppose it on partisan grounds, on the grounds of which party is going to benefit more, but on First Amendment grounds, that it's against the First Amendment, it's against free speech, clearly unethical to it to tell people when and where they cannot advertise.

NOVAK: What it does is it shuts up people that are not in the political system, and it absolutely is an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment.

CARLSON: And I think James and Paul...


CARVILLE: There's a tough question here. I always look at something and say who's for it, and then I decide if I'm going to be for it or against it. On one side, you've got the loathsome editorial writers that are for this. And on the other side, you got Tom DeLay and Dick Armey that are against it. Well, I've got to sigh and say that the editorial writers are not quite as bad as Tom DeLay and Dick Armey.

NOVAK: That's really an intelligent way to look at that.


BEGALA: It does not -- and Tucker is right -- it does not abridge the First Amendment. It simply says that you have to pay for your ads with smaller amounts of money.

NOVAK: Oh, that isn't what it says at all.


It shuts you off for 60 days.

BEGALA: You're never going to get Bush off of that money train. It's like trying to get a dog off a meat wagon. He's going to be addicted to that dirty money as long as he's there.

NOVAK: It takes you off the air for 60 days before the election.


CARVILLE: Who's going to write these executive orders?

CARLSON: And I'm afraid I had to resort to the bell. Before we go, I want to thank President Steve Trachtenburg of the George Washington University for having us. Thank you, Mr. President.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's great to have you here and hope you'll come back night after night after night. We're looking forward to having you here for many years. Thank you very much.

CARLSON: We will be here relentlessly night after night. Thank you.

BEGALA: If you'll have us back after this, we can only go up from here.

CARLSON: Here we go.

CARVILLE: From the left, I'm James Carville.

BEGALA: And I'm Paul Begala. Good night for CROSSFIRE.

NOVAK: From the right, I'm Robert Novak.

CARLSON: And I'm Tucker Carlson. Join us again tomorrow night and every night for more editions of CROSSFIRE. See you then.


Bush Doing Enough to Stop Middle East Violence?>



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