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Did the Powell Mission to Mideast Fail?; Bush's Proposal to Drill in ANWR Defeated; Pope John Paul II Summons Heads of American Catholic Church

Aired April 20, 2002 - 19:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: Live from Washington, the CAPITAL GANG.

MARK SHIELDS, HOST: Welcome to CAPITAL GANG. I'm Mark Shields with a full CAPITAL GANG -- Al Hunt, Robert Novak, Kate O'Beirne, and Margaret Carlson. Secretary of State Colin Powell completed his visit to the Middle East without achieving a cease-fire in his final meetings with Palestinian Authority Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.


YASSER ARAFAT, PALESTINIAN LEADER: Is this acceptable that I can't go outside from this door? Is this acceptable? Do you think this will not reflect in the whole ...

QUESTION: Sir, what did Powell ...

ARAFAT: ... stability and the peace in the Middle East.

ARIEL SHARON, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: I believe that we may reach peace. I will make every effort to reach peace. I'm ready to make (UNINTELLIGIBLE) concessions for a genuine, a durable, a true peace.


SHIELDS: Returned to Washington, Secretary Powell met with President Bush.


COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the Israeli government is now continuing to withdraw. I hope that it will be accelerated, and we will (UNINTELLIGIBLE) as quickly as possible.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I do believe Ariel Sharon is a man of peace. I think he wants -- I'm confident he wants Israel to be able to exist at peace with its neighbor.


SHIELDS: That presidential optimism evoked a bitter Palestinian response.


SAEB ERAKAT, PLO SPOKESPERSON: I believe President Bush is rewarding Sharon's terror. He's rewarding Sharon for the massacre he committed in Jenin refugee camp.


SHIELDS: Al Hunt, is President Bush right when he says that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is truly a man of peace?

AL HUNT, "WALL STREET JOURNAL": That's about as incredible as saying Arafat is Gandhi, Mark. Look, the Bush administration's performance in the Middle East the last month has been a fiasco -- the Cheney trip, the Powell trip, the president who throws down a marker and then flinches when it's tossed back at him. I think the Powell trip, why it was such a failure is interesting to look at. It tells you something about the problems.

It may be that Secretary Powell for all of his enormous popularity doesn't have the negotiating skills of a George Mitchell, of a Henry Kissinger, of a Dick Holbrooke, but they're also -- sources on Capitol Hill tell me that the Israelis had back channels to people in this administration that under cut the secretary, and I think the president's policy or lack of a policy, it changes daily. I think that makes it very difficult for any secretary of state.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak, picking up on something that Al said, and that is the strongest quality that people admire most in George W. Bush and "The Wall Street Journal", NBC both says what he means, means what he says. He's never been the mastery of information or his encyclopedic knowledge about the history of places. This is a straight shooter, a straight from the -- straight -- a guy that gives you to you with no baloney. There was a lot of baloney this week.

ROBERT NOVAK, "CHICAGO SUN-TIMES": He has run into a situation that is very difficult for a president. I'm glad Al doesn't have to cope with anything like that, of course, Al isn't president of the United States, thank God, and George W. Bush is. And what his situation is, is he has his party, people on his administration want a brutal Israeli policy. They like the man of war, which Sharon is, and the president knows that this cannot be the way the United States goes and he's torn, and he hasn't done a very good job.

I think it is unfair to say that Colin Powell is not a good negotiator when he hasn't had 100 percent support from the White House, when he has had very little time and when the situation of -- he has no weapons to put a heavy arm on Sharon and say get out right now. So it's been a very difficult situation, and I think we look very bad in the world.

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson, how do we look in the world? How do we look to you?

MARGARET CARLSON, "TIME" MAGAZINE: The situation was too far down the road for Secretary Powell, for anybody to be successful in those few days in the Middle East. So in fairness to him, I don't think we can put him on the hook for this, and in fact, the right wing of the Republican Party is currently acting as secretary of state and influencing Bush. If he really meant what he said, he'd be furious that the United States had had a thumb stuck in their eye by Arafat. He obviously in his heart didn't really ...

NOVAK: By Arafat.

CARLSON: ... I mean by Sharon. He obviously ...




CARLSON: He obviously didn't really mean it.

SHIELDS: Well that was always missing, Kate, and the president's policy was I want an immediate withdrawal or -- and there was no or. I mean his father had stopped the money for settlements in 1991, incurred a lot of rap, a lot of conservative criticism, a lot of Jewish (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

KATE O'BEIRNE, "NATIONAL REVIEW": This president recognizes, though, Israel's right to defend itself from terrorism. It's a fight he himself is waging on our behalf. He detoured bowing to European criticism and criticism from so-called Arab moderate states from the Bush doctrine.

I think this week following the Colin Powell visit, he is back on course at a speech he gave at VMI. This week, of course, he's back talking about states, you're either with us in our war against terrorism. This week Dick Cheney called Israel a full partner in our war on terrorism when he was over at the Israeli embassy, or you're not with us and he called the Taliban the first regime to fall in our war on terrorism, implying they'll be others.

I think he's reorienting back to Iraq, which remains a central challenge and problem and threat to us, and he is now fully rejecting any linkage between not being able to do anything about the mortal threat Iraq poses to us until we -- quote -- "you know brought peace to the Middle East," which of course we won't be able to do.

NOVAK: Kate made a very important point there and that is the position taken by the editorial page of the -- of "The Wall Street Journal," by her magazine "National Review", by many people in the -- in the administration, which is that we should not get involved in this peace process in the Middle East.

We should let force -- the superior force of the Israelis pound down the Palestinians, put in puppets if necessary, don't worry about atrocities they commit, and that we should instead go ahead to Iraq and make a military operation there. That is -- that is a very strong position and it has support in the -- in the administration. I don't think it is secretary -- I know it's not Secretary Powell's position. I don't think it's really the president's ultimate position to say that we are just going to turn our back on the Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking process and become the war-making nation of the Middle East.

O'BEIRNE: Mark, very quickly ...


O'BEIRNE: ... it's also not the position of those that Bob cited. The recognition has to be that Israel is fighting a war against terrorism. Once they are successful in their war against terrorism, then they can talk peace. They tried the other way with respect to land for peace and negotiating for peace and of course since Arafat doesn't want peace with Israel, that's impossible. And it's an appreciation, Bob, that this is bigger than Arafat. Syria and Iran have a role to play here.

HUNT: Kate, I don't know how you can be so supportive of the president given his record over the last month. If this were Bill Clinton and Al Gore and Madeleine Albright, instead of George Bush and Dick Cheney and Colin Powell -- I mean, exact same circumstances they'd do exactly the same, I think you would be talking about amateur hour in foreign policy ...


HUNT: ... putting politics first and if everything was the same, I don't think you can just excuse George Bush ...


O'BEIRNE: No. No. I called it a detour. I thought the policy was deteriorating into incoherence. This administration is very good to correct mistakes, and I think we saw this one quickly corrected.

SHIELDS: Go ahead.

CARLSON: But you don't want to correct it by calling Sharon a man of peace. A, if you're going to say who's the worst terrorist, yes, it's Arafat. But that does not make Sharon a man of peace. He does not want peace and for Bush to come out and call him that ...


CARLSON: ... the Israelis do ...


CARLSON: ... the problem is that the ...


CARLSON: ... leaders -- the leaders of both countries of neither country want peace. NOVAK: And Erakat, the Palestinian negotiator, is quite right, that they -- that the president has ended up -- I don't think that was his intention. He's ended up rewarding the militarism of Sharon. One thing I would like to separate myself from some of the people who are attacking Bush and even some of the people at this table. I really hope that Bush succeeds.


NOVAK: I really do.

CARLSON: So do we all.

SHIELDS: Let me -- let me just -- let me ask the question, though. But this is an administration that even if its severest critics have acknowledged had iron discipline. It spoke with one voice on virtually everything ...


SHIELDS: And, boy, in this one, I mean, you get Cheney saying one thing. You get the Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz crowd and they -- let's go to Iraq, and you've got Colin Powell and the State Department and other fact -- and apparently, Condy Rice saying let's negotiate and let's try -- I mean, isn't this really a certain incoherence?

NOVAK: But that's the -- that's the -- that's the word that people like to use is incoherent. But I tell you what gets to me a little bit is a lot of people want to use this as a -- people who have been attacking George W. Bush since the Florida recount want to use this as an attack on Bush, and I don't -- I don't believe that is the problem. I think this is a tragedy that's occurring in the Middle East and I certainly feel very badly about people engaging in cheap politicking.


HUNT: No, I think you're absolutely right. Just as -- just as I think when Bill Clinton made huge foreign policy mistakes in Somalia and elsewhere, I don't think people would use that -- I would hope people wouldn't have used that ...

NOVAK: Never.

HUNT: ... to take cheap shots against the president, but say we hope American would right itself.

SHIELDS: That's a good point, Al.


SHIELDS: Good point, and let's just check the record on that, Bob. The "Gang" of five will be back with a disaster for oil drillers.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) SHIELDS: Welcome back. President Bush's proposal to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge suffered an overwhelming defeat in the Senate, failing to get even a simple majority much less than the 60 votes needed to end debate.


SEN. TOM DASCHLE, (D-SD), MAJORITY LEADER: Viewing what the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is an issue that our caucus carries deeply about. It's virtually unanimous in opposition to drilling.

SEN. FRANK MURKOWSKI, (R-AK), ENERGY COMMISSION: Going away from this vote with the realization that this issue is not over. Sooner or later this nation's going to open up ANWR and I think world affairs will dictate when that will occur.


SHIELDS: Bob Novak, we all want America to do well, but why did President Bush lose so badly on this issue?

NOVAK: That is -- that is extraordinary since all the arguments are on the president's side there. It's hard to imagine how anybody can say we shouldn't have a new supply of oil to more than match the Iraqi supply for the sake of a few caribou. I don't even know what a caribou looks like, but ...


NOVAK: The reason ...


NOVAK: ... the simple reason is that the president didn't work very hard at it. There was not an effort. He didn't go to the country. He didn't go to the people and say this is an important thing for national security and the economy.

But the other point is that the environmentalist lobby is really terrific. They intimidate these cheap and panty-waist Republicans with telegrams from the Garden Clubs and they scare the hell out of them, and they trump the labor movement. They beat the hell out of the labor movement in a environmentalist versus the labor union head on confrontation.

SHIELDS: What has happened ...


SHIELDS: Margaret, Margaret, what's happened to America when the Berkenstocks (ph) and the Backpackers (ph) intimidate big oil and the teamsters?

CARLSON: I know, and then Bob calls them panty-waist. I'd say they're pretty darn powerful.

NOVAK: I said panty-waist Republicans.


NOVAK: Panty-waist Republicans. You got to listen carefully. Senators.

CARLSON: True. OK. I agree with you there. The reason Bush didn't go to the country on this is because it doesn't provide a fraction of the answer to our energy needs. And you have a vice president who sneered at conservationists as a matter -- into matter of personal virtue, and he sniffed at this idea.

And then he holds himself up with energy guys, and none of these so-called environmentalists who are so powerful they can't get into the White House for a meeting, and then you come out and you know, why would people vote for something that is not going to provide, you know, any ...

NOVAK: It does provide it though.

CARLSON: ... action of the oil that we need, and you know the polls said, OK, Americans want to keep their SUVs so the Senate votes against the fuel conservation standard, which would provide, you know, eons more of oil than drilling in the Arctic. But they also said they don't want them drilling in the Arctic, so they kill those standards and they vote against the Arctic, so we're left with nothing -- yes.



O'BEIRNE: The native Alaskans most directly affected, if you were committed to drill in this God forsaken in total darkness half the year -- 50 degree below zero wilderness. They in-favored it and some of the unions favored it. There were some estimates that it could lead to as many as 500,000 jobs. So I'm also struck ...


O'BEIRNE: ... by the fact -- well, except you did split the unions and they even tried to make a sweetheart deal with the steel unions.


O'BEIRNE: But what's critically important, I think, of what it says about the Democratic Party, this vote, is that the despite their cash and their troops, the unions, they are now trumped by a bunch of elite environmentalists who, of course, will never come within a 1,000 miles of ANWR, and don't much care about jobs.

But you know what they will do? They'll put up candidates against incumbent Democrats, and that's why the environmentalists are scaring Democrat so much nowadays. Witness Ralph Nader.

(CROSSTALK) SHIELDS: The Republicans didn't get a majority.


HUNT: Mark, for months and years I've been hearing that the Democratic Party's under a thumb of big labor. The labor goons control them, and now we find out the Garden Club can trump the labor goons.


HUNT: It really is.


HUNT: So I'm glad you have told me. Look, the fact of the matter is on the substance, there wouldn't be a drop of oil out of the Arctic in -- for 10 years. If you really wanted to sub plant that, you know, that Iraqi oil, you can put -- you can do conversation measures will do it right away and released in two or three years.

On the politics, Mark, I think both sides curiously got something out of it. I think the Democrats energized their environmental base, which is important and the Republicans, I think, achieved something by reaching out to the Teamsters in the building trades and some other labor unions. So I think politically -- I think the steel deal he tried to cut, which was clearly from the minute they tried it, and it really showed desperation...


CARLSON: You know, Mark ...


CARLSON: There's also an SUV lobby, like if you go against the SUV, you're against children, moms and their ...


CARLSON: ... and their cars.


SHIELDS: I just say that there are three senators who are consistent in the whole thing, who talked about an energy policy. The two senators from Hawaii, Akaka and Inouye, both voted for drilling in ANWR and for CAFE, the toughest standards on mileage.

And so did Judd Gregg -- so did Judd Gregg of New Hampshire. So, I mean it was kind of ...


SHIELDS: ... kind of interesting.


SHIELDS: That was -- that was the intellectual consistency.


SHIELDS: Three out of 100 ain't bad.

NOVAK: Let me add one small thing -- it wasn't just the Democrats who were frightened of this. These Republicans ...

SHIELDS: They're pansies.

NOVAK: They get a few telegrams from environmentalists and they wring their hands.

HUNT: The goons are gone, right, Bob?

CARLSON: Next they're be wearing those Berkenstock (ph).

SHIELDS: Bob. Next on CAPITAL GANG, a summons from Rome.


SHIELDS: Welcome back. Pope John Paul II summons eight American cardinal archbishops to Rome to discuss the crisis of the sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests. Today the pope issued a message saying -- quote -- "the value of celibacy is a complete gift of self to the Lord and his Church must be safely safe -- must be carefully safeguarded" -- end of quote.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can talk about the church throughout the country and hopefully come up with some ideas, which will be -- which will be the beginning of a policy and a program, which will guarantee our people that this -- that these things, as much as you can being human beings, that this will not -- will not continue and will not happen again.


SHIELDS: Will those discussions include celibacy?


CARDINAL ROGER MAHONY, ARCHBISHOP OF LOS ANGELES: I think that issue, that topic really needs to be discussed, but I think it is not -- it is not linked intrinsically to this problem. Celibacy of itself is not the issue. What the issue is, is what is the maturity psychosexual maturity of people working in the church.


SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson, what will come out of the Rome meeting next week? CARLSON: I think it will take a miracle for much to come out of it. At least they're in the right setting for it in Rome for one to occur. The people coming are ones that have been chosen by the pope in his own image.

I mean they're -- they tend to be conservative. They're not Vatican -- post Vatican two types. Celibacy has been taken off the table. The ordination of women, I'm sure, may not even come up. And it's the institution that's at fault -- not so much -- I mean, the sinner should be forgiven, but the church using its power to cover up what are crimes, by moving these priests around, it just goes right to the heart of, you know, the Vatican being an institution and an establishment that looks like corporate America in all its worst accesses.

SHIELDS: Kate O'Beirne.

O'BEIRNE: Mark, some of my fellow Catholics are more liberal -- more liberal among them, have long wanted to see married priests and women priests, and they're using this scandal to promote that agenda. This scandal has nothing to do with either issue. I have no -- I haven't seen any argument that women priests would somehow prevented this. And I certainly don't understand an argument that says a man who's inclined to abuse teenage boys wouldn't be doing so if he were married.

Celibacy, of course, is not a doctrine of the church. It's just a century-old tradition. So they show priests consider it a gift as much as the Holy Father said. Seventy-five percent wouldn't get married if they could, unlikely to change, and of course, women priests is as old as the church. Male priest was ordained by Christ and unrelated to the current scandal -- and also like the pope himself has said, I couldn't change it if I wanted to, and there's no indication he wants to.

SHIELDS: Let me just take a quick exception on the women. Pedophilia, which is the disorder, which is the attraction of a -- of a male adult to a young male, a child, a boy going through puberty. Is this not a counterpart, I mean the same way on the women side. That disorder.


O'BEIRNE: So women wouldn't be, well first of all ...


O'BEIRNE: ... is that it can't be changed because it's church doctrine. So women, if they were ordained, wouldn't be abusing, but the guy in the parish might still be if we don't tackle the problem, which is 80 percent ...


NOVAK: But, Kate ...


CARLSON: Wait, let me just say to Kate the psychosexual maturity, however, of the church with Father Mahony was interested in would raise -- be raised considerably by allowing women in.


NOVAK: Can I ...


HUNT: ... heterosexual men abuses of children.

NOVAK: As a -- as a Catholic convert of just a few years ago ...


SHIELDS: Welcome, Bob.

NOVAK: Thank you.

O'BEIRNE: Yes, welcome.

NOVAK: I've been puzzled by the anger about this -- by so many of my fellow Catholics, and it is -- it is -- I've been puzzled because it seems to be a very limited problem. Did the church handle it well? No, they didn't handle it well, but they -- I think they've seen the err of their ways in the way they've handled these abuses. Most of them are well in the past. But what I -- it suddenly has occurred to me just within the last week that there's just a lot of Catholics who I'm not going to question their faith, but they really don't like the Catholic Church.

And I think this is just an occasion for these Catholics to demonstrate, to pound their fists, to beat their breasts, to say that the cardinals are like U.S. steel and they really -- I love the Church, and I like the way it operates, but I just found a lot of my Catholics don't like the Church and this is -- this is an excuse for a lot of this nastiness to come out.

CARLSON: I like the Church, Bob. The Church -- the parish school made me who I am today, and I love the Church. But I don't think you can accuse people who think this has ...


CARLSON: ... been handled badly.

HUNT: Cardinal Mahony loves the church, and I think people like Father McBrian (ph) of Notre Dame love the Church. But you -- some of the traditions tell us in the beginning it was the uniquely American problem, that it wasn't systemic and that it was media spawned. Well it's not uniquely American. It's happening, you know, around the world. It is systemic and the problem -- the problem -- it is systemic. The problem -- the problem -- well it is. But the problem ... (CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: The way it was handled was systemic.

HUNT: Let me just say the problem is that the Catholic Church faces a huge supply and demand situation. There aren't enough priests and that's just a matter ...


HUNT: I'm sorry, there are not, Bob, and I think if you talk to anyone who looks at it, they will tell you.

NOVAK: I do -- I do talk to ...

HUNT: There's a man out in Seattle who studies this, you know, Mr. Harris (ph). He says for every two that retire you bring in one, and that's just a fact of life. I don't know how you sustain your religion very much longer, and the notion it's media spawned.

We did a poll, Mark. Seventy-one percent of devout Catholics -- I mean people who go to church regularly -- 71 percent favor married priests. Ultimately not under this pope, ultimately that's where the church ...

NOVAK: One thing ...


NOVAK: Just a minute -- just a minute. One thing I'm really happy ...


NOVAK: ... that I've got an organization who doesn't run by a poll.

SHIELDS: Well, let me just say -- let me just say one thing, Bob. You know, you've held yourself up to some sort of a plaster saint.

NOVAK: No I didn't.


HUNT: Someone who loves the Church ...


SHIELDS: People who are critical don't love the Church the same way you do. If you love an institution and love what's it done, and its values and what it stood for, and you see it under siege as it is by what it's done to itself, then if you really care about it, you say -- you say it with care and commitment and criticism and a passion.

O'BEIRNE: But you also defend it from charges that aren't true. We have 48,000 priests in America, and a relative handful have been accused of this.

CARLSON: Well, what was systemic was the cover-up.


CARLSON: The cover-up was.


SHIELDS: The cover-up ...


O'BEIRNE: There's not been a scandal ...


O'BEIRNE: .. and most dioceses have had no scandal.

SHIELDS: The cover-up is unacceptable and it is indefensible, and secrecy is the killer.


SHIELDS: OK and that's ...


SHIELDS: ... the last word. We'll be ...


SHIELDS: ...we'll be back with a CAPITAL GANG classic, the Oklahoma City tragedy seven years ago this week.


SHIELDS: Welcome back. Seven years ago Oklahoma City was the target of what was then America's worst domestic terrorist incident. This is what the CAPITAL GANG said on April 22, 1995. Our guest was Robert Reich, then the secretary of labor.


HUNT: Bob, will this tragedy result in restricting American's liberties?

NOVAK: I'm afraid so. Al, before the -- anybody even had any idea who the perpetuators were, people on the left and right were saying we have to restrict our freedom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our freedoms are already being eroded. They're going to be eroded a lot more unless people stand up and understand the difference between guarding against the aberrations you can't guard against and cracking down, taking the liberties away.

HUNT: Well, I think we have to give law enforcement some more tools, though. I think ...


HUNT: ... infiltrate these groups and things like that.

ROBERT REICH, SECRETARY OF LABOR: Obviously, there are certain incidence in which a government has got to act, and the government will act. That's what we -- you know that's why we have a government.

LALLY WEYMOUTH, WASHINGTON POST: I think with the World Trade Center two years ago, we saw that yes, there is going to be a threat from foreign terror, and these groups are very well organized in this country.


SHIELDS: Kate O'Beirne, did the Oklahoma City bombing really change America that much?

O'BEIRNE: Who were all those people talking? Is that a reminder that we can all be replaced?

SHIELDS: You bet.

O'BEIRNE: Every now and again you like to remind us of that? No because unlike September 11, Mark, people weren't convinced that we're going to be seeing a repeat of Oklahoma City, and that, of course, is what people fear now that 9/11, which is why changes have been made in the law to try to protect against it.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak.

NOVAK: I don't think it really did change the country that much. I think what changed the country was September 11.

SHIELDS: Margaret.

CARLSON: We had no idea how much worse it could get.

HUNT: Right.

HUNT: No, I agree. Lally Weymouth actually was quite pressing it there. You know, most of us didn't worry as much about the previous World Trade Center bombing.

SHIELDS: The difference between Oklahoma City and New York and Washington ...


SHIELDS: And not (UNINTELLIGIBLE) magnitude, the order of magnitude.

NOVAK: And the al Qaeda too.

HUNT: That's right. SHIELDS: Right.

NOVAK: Right.

SHIELDS: OK, we'll be back with the second half of CAPITAL GANG. The Senate Republican leader, Trent Lott, is our newsmaker of the week. We go "Beyond the Beltway" to look at the fail through in Venezuela with CNN correspondent Harris Whitbeck and our "Outrage of the Week." That's all after the latest news following these messages.


ANNOUNCER: Live from Washington, the CAPITAL GANG.

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

Our newsmaker of the week is Senator Trent Lott, Republican of Mississippi. Trent Lott, age 60; resident, Pascagoula, Mississippi; religion Baptist; undergraduate in law degrees University of Mississippi; administration assistant to Democrat Congressman Bill Colmer of Mississippi, 1968 through 1972; member U.S. House of Representatives for 16 years, the last eight as Republican whip; U.S. Senator since 1989; Republican leader of the Senate since 1996.

Kate O'Beirne sat down with Trent Lott earlier this week.


O'BEIRNE: Senator, next month will be the year anniversary of Jim Jeffords' switch. How is Tom Daschle doing in your old job?

SEN. TRENT LOTT, (R-MS), MINORITY LEADER: Well, he's finding out that's a very tough job, realizing that if you try to write legislation in your office, like he did on the stimulus bill, agriculture bill, the energy bill, you get it to the floor, you find it very difficult to complete the work. The Senate, you know, does its own thing and I -- he has -- I hope he's beginning to learn that you can't do this sort of obstructionism and the sort of, you know, developing of bills the way he's done it without having real problems.

O'BEIRNE: Is that not what opposition leaders do, though? Isn't that what majority leader Dole and majority leader Lott did ...

LOTT: Sure.

O'BEIRNE: ... if they opposed Bill Clinton's agenda.

LOTT: Sure. Yes, I accept that. And on occasion, I took a bill directly to the floor, but you learn the hard way that you're much better off if you take a bill to the floor to the Senate that has come through the committee. The energy bill didn't come through the Energy Committee because Daschle couldn't get it out of the committee without ANWR on the fuel efficiency standards. He couldn't get what he wanted out of the Commerce Committee, so he took that directly to the floor. When you do that, and I did it too. You find that the same senators that worked on it in committee will show up on the floor with amendments. It makes it more difficult. It takes longer to get it done.

O'BEIRNE: Would you have more leverage is President Bush were willing to use his veto power more to both modify bills like campaign finance reform he opposed and to insist on things like ANWR drilling and the energy bill.

LOTT: Yes, we would have more leverage if he made that statement clear. In the case of the energy bill, you know, if he -- if he had made it clear that he would veto the bill without the ability to drill for more oil, we'd had a better chance to get it, or we could get it yet. But, you know, I don't want to be too critical of him because he has indicated he's willing to do it. He's not done it a couple of times when he perhaps could have.

O'BEIRNE: You predicted that Senate Democrats would pay a price for their treatment of Judge Pickering. Have they paid any price?

LOTT: Not yet, but I think they will. First of all, we're not going to forget the very unfortunate smear of Judge Pickering. It was unfair. A lot of criticism of him was basically just because he was a conservative Republican from the south, and they picked absolutely the wrong person, particularly on Civil Rights, because he had been very moderate and courageous on that issue.

I do think it could be an issue in some elections. I didn't want him to be a martyr. But in a way he's become a martyr because it showed the country that 10 very liberal senators can block the nomination of the president and force the will of the full Senate.

O'BEIRNE: President Bush ran an idea about introducing personal accounts for Social Security. Do you think Senate Republican candidates should be endorsing the president's idea?

LOTT: I think that's an issue we need to have a national dialogue on. I think we need to talk about it. Young people understand it. You know, when you've got a young person like my daughter -- she's 30, and she's worried that this is, you know, kind of pouring money down a rat hole. Now the Democrats will do what they always do. They'll try to scare old people. I don't think we should be afraid of it. We need to guarantee the old people that -- the seniors that it's not going to affect them. They're not going to have their benefits taken away.

O'BEIRNE: What other issues do you think Senate Republican candidates will be talking about that might help put you back in the majority leader's office?

LOTT: We're not getting full cooperation for President Bush's agenda. That, you know, we need to fund defense first and not use defense as a mechanism to get more spending on everything in the -- in the budget. I do think we should talk about the vote on energy. I think we've got a great chance to pick up seats in South Dakota and Minnesota and Iowa and Missouri and Georgia and perhaps others that could become vulnerable as the election goes forward, and we've got great candidates in South Carolina, North Carolina, Texas, and we'll have a great candidate in Tennessee. So I feel pretty good, Kate, that we're going to be able to take the majority back.

O'BEIRNE: Do you regret you spent all those years singing with Jim Jeffords?

LOTT: Yes.

O'BEIRNE: I suspected you might.

LOTT: Frankly, that was one of the many things I did to try to keep Jim Jeffords not only trying to sing with us, but voting with us.


SHIELDS: Kate, Trent Lott comes across as a lot more partisan than George W. Bush. Is that significant?

O'BEIRNE: Well, it's natural. The difference in job description -- he's a party leader. George Bush is now a wartime president, although even before the war he wanted to be a uniter not a divider. But Trent Lott does reflect the growing feeling on the part of Republicans on Capitol Hill that the president could win a lot more -- could have won and can still put in policy things if he were more willing not to be like Trent Lott, but to be a president who uses his veto.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak.

NOVAK: I though it was a very important question you asked him. Would you have done better on ANWR if he'd -- the president, if he had threatened to veto, and that Lott didn't even hesitate. I think -- I think there is a difference in their jobs, but I do believe that Lott's appreciation of what he's up against in the -- in the Daschle leadership in the Senate is much more realistic than George W. Bush's. Tom Daschle is never going to give an inch on any kind of really bipartisan cooperation.

CARLSON: But Kate nailed that when she said, didn't you do almost exactly the same thing when you were in power.

HUNT: Well, I think that was the most interesting thing. If you -- if you listen to him carefully, what he basically says is that majority leader Daschle is conducting his business the same way majority leader Lott and majority leader Dole did. This demonized Daschle campaign is all about politics, Mark.

SHIELDS: Last word, Al Hunt. Next on CAPITAL GANG, "Beyond the Beltway" looks at the short, unhappy coup d'etat in Venezuela with CNN's man on the scene in Caracas.


SHIELDS: Welcome back. "Beyond the Beltway" looks at political chaos in Venezuela. It began on April 11th when the country's elected president populous Hugo Chavez was forced out of office by the military.


PEDRO CARMONA, VENEZUELAN INTERIM PRES. (through translator): I announced to the nation that Hugo Chavez has handed over his resignation as President of the Republic, and therefore in light of this fact, it has been decided that the armed forces maintain in custody the outgoing president.


SHIELDS: President Chavez was held prisoner for only 48 hours before demonstrations by his supporters forced his return.


PRESIDENT HUGO CHAVEZ, VENEZUELA (through translator): I must confess I'm still astonished. I'm struggling with this process, which could fill countless books about the history of Venezuela and the world -- this process, which we should call counter, counter revolution.


SHIELDS: The U.S. government came under fire for not condemning the coup.


BUSH: My administration was very clear when there were troubles on the streets in Venezuela that we support democracy and did not support any extra constitutional action.


SHIELDS: Joining us now from New York City is Harris Whitbeck, CNN's Mexico City bureau chief, who reported on the failed coup on the scene in Caracas. Thanks for coming in, Harris.


SHIELDS: Harris, was the sense in Caracas that the U.S. was at least sympathetic if not supporting the coup?

WHITBECK: Well, the U.S. might have said that they did not support the coup as President Bush said, but the U.S. diplomats in Venezuela certainly did not hide their delight at the prospect of Mr. Chavez being out of power. U.S. Ambassador Robert Shapiro went on the radio in Venezuela on Saturday and he said that Mr. Chavez had brought this all upon himself, that he was giving his full support to Mr. Carmona. After all the events and Mr. Carmona left office and Chavez came back, well they had to do a little explaining of those comments that they made.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak.

NOVAK: Harris, assumes that Chavez got back in office by people operating in the streets. What is your sense of who has the popular support in Venezuela? Chavez had been dropping in the pools. His troops have fired on civilians, which causes his ouster. Is he -- is he a popular figure, or does he just have people who can -- an organization that can put people into the streets?

WHITBECK: Well, I think it's a little bit of both. I mean he obviously the base of his support is among the country's poor. Eighty percent of Venezuela is living in conditions of extreme poverty, and they saw in Mr. Chavez a chance for getting their voices heard. I was in Venezuela about four and a half weeks ago, and I had the chance to travel around the country with Mr. Chavez, and actually watch him in action.

He has a call-in radio and television show during which viewers, the citizens of Venezuela can call in and express their problems to the president. The people who do get -- actually get through the phone lines and get to speak to him, well it's like winning the lottery. There was one woman who called in saying that her son was very sick and she needed help. He immediately sent a helicopter to pick her up, to place her son in a hospital. Again, people who get in there and get the chance to talk to him do, do very well.

The problem is that this raises a lot of expectations. The people -- the poor people of Venezuela saying that they have a voice, but in reality it's very difficult to actually answer to all of the -- all of the needs to respond to all of the calls for aid, for help that people want. So, again, his basis of support, I would say, is populism. On the other hand, what we saw last weekend was not -- obviously you know the people on the streets were a very important factor in his getting back to the palace. But what happened was that many of the high-ranking officers in the Venezuelan armed forces were disillusioned with Mr. Carmona, the interim president's actions.

He did not include any members of the trade unions in his new Cabinet. He dissolved the National Assembly. He dissolved the Supreme Court and that's when some of these members of the armed forces said wait a minute, we need to preserve democratic institutions here, and that's why they brought Mr. Chavez back in to power.

SHIELDS: Right, Margaret Carlson.

CARLSON: Harris, back to the White House for a moment, could their quick embrace of Chavez being deposed come from the president's flirtation with Fidel Castro and all the, I think, Otto Reich (ph), the anti-Castroites (ph) in the government here wanting him, you know, not being sad about his being deposed because of that?

WHITBECK: Definitely. Mr. Chavez is not a popular man in Washington. He hasn't been for a long time. He is very close to Fidel Castro. He's also close to leaders of countries like Iraq and Libya. He's certainly become a thorn in the side of U.S. policy in Latin America because he's become very independent. He also prohibited U.S. over flights of Venezuelan airspace in the war against drugs, so he's not somebody -- he's not the typical docile leader who will do whatever Washington says. So, again, people in the U.S. I think and many people in Venezuela, too, were very happy with the prospect of Mr. Chavez leaving power.

But, again, I think, as I said before, what happened was that people realized that you know if they're going to get him out of power, they need to do it in a Democratic fashion, which is not what happened.

SHIELDS: Harris, we have -- we have less than a minute. Kate O'Beirne.

O'BEIRNE: Harris, since this man of the people participated in this coup by firing on a peaceful demonstration, he's been acting, now that he's back, sort of contrite, mumbling about making amends. Can this friend of Fidel and Saddam Hussein every be a plausible democratic leader?

WHITBECK: Well, he's certainly changed his tone, but he's done that in the past. And many people in Venezuela aren't sure of the sincerity of Mr. Chavez's conciliatory tone. The firing on the crowds was done by supporters of Mr. Chavez, members of the Bulvarian Circles (ph), which are these community action groups that the opposition says are actually armed militias. There has been a deep, deep polarization in Venezuela since Mr. Chavez came into office and definitely that is the main problem that the country faces ...


HUNT: Harris, let me ...

WHITBECK: ... there's a huge, huge -- go ahead.

HUNT: Harris, let me go back to the widely criticized American reaction, which of course was orchestrated by Otto Reich (ph), the assistant secretary for Latin America affairs, as Secretary Powell and his deputy were tied up with the Middle East. Deputy Secretary Rich Armitage, when he got back said that "the American reaction wasn't what it should have been" -- end quote. Did this prove that Otto Reich (ph) is not ready for prime time?

WHITBECK: Well, you know, he was ambassador in Venezuela for a while and he was also a lobbyist for Mobil, which is obviously has lots of interest in Venezuela.

I think they just jumped the gun. They went too fast, again everybody was very eager to see Chavez out of power and they just, you know, started celebrating and making these comments too soon. OAS and several Latin American countries, Mexico in particular, took a much more cautious approach, and when the OAS met in an emergency session on Thursday the U.S. really had to change its story. They really had to get behind the OAS resolution that democracy be respected, and they did say that the way of solving the problems in Venezuela is to enforce or to facilitate in national dialogue. SHIELDS: Harris, thank you so much for being with us. Harris Whitbeck. The "Gang" of five will be back with the "Outrage" of the week.


SHIELDS: And now for the "Outrage of the Week." With barely more than one million enlisted men and women on active duty in the United States armed forces, the dirty little secret is that this nation does not have the manpower needed to commit an invasion force anywhere near the half million troops assembled in 1991 to drive Saddam Hussein from Kuwait. Why not increase the ranks? The United States does not have a volunteer army. We have recruited military with the average annual cost per service member is up to $98,000 a year. In war, in blood, and treasure there is no patriotism on the cheap.

Robert Novak.

NOVAK: When Congress passed president's budget tax cut last year, it reduced the official revenue lost by restoring high tax levels in the year 2011 -- a silly accounting trick. The House of Representatives sought to correct this Thursday by making the tax cuts permanent. Now Democrats are never happy publicly opposing tax cuts in an election year. So in the debate they claim the House was robbing Social Security funds. That's just ridiculous demagoguery. Social Security has plenty of problems, but income tax cuts are not among them.

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson.

CARLSON: Mark, Democrats are crossing the cultural fault line once again that makes voters so queasy. With child abuse dominating the news, they've nonetheless chosen to headline their concert this week with Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson, who paid $25 million to the parents of a young boy staying with him at Neverland. Is he insisting on special air conditioning equipment so his false eyelashes won't fall off? He's had so much surgery he could enter the witness protection program.

Oh, but sometimes the Democratic Party doesn't look like its original self either. Who's next on the Democratic's list, the man- boy love association's Chaplain Father Shanley?

SHIELDS: Kate O'Beirne.

O'BEIRNE: Following the death this week of former Supreme Court Justice Byron White, Democrats and Republicans alike praised his 31 years on the court. "This football hero, road scholar and combat veteran served with distinction, intelligence and honor," Bill Clinton rightly said. The outrage? Justice White dissented on Roe vs. Wade, so this distinguished, gifted lawyer nominated by President Kennedy, would never be confirmed by today's Senate Democrats.

SHIELDS: Al Hunt. HUNT: Mark, don't let your babies grow up to be Aggies (ph). House GOP Whip Tom DeLay advised Texas constituents not to send their kids to Texas A&M where he charged there's sex on campus -- or to Baylor. Now, most of your CAPITAL GANG was at Texas A&M yesterday, and it's hardly a hot bed of promiscuity. It's a school where most parents would love to send their kids. Baylor is a Southern Baptist college. Maybe next week Elmer Gantry DeLay will list acceptable schools.

SHIELDS: This is Mark Shields saying good night for the CAPITAL GANG. Coming up next, "CNN PRESENTS" "Kids Under Pressure."


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