CNN CAPITAL GANG
What was the Result of the Cardinal Meeting in Rome? How Much Face Has Bush Lost?
Aired April 27, 2002 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: Live, from Washington, the CAPITAL GANG.
MARK SHIELDS, CO-HOST: Welcome to CAPITAL GANG. I'm Mark Shields with Al Hunt, Robert Novak, and Margaret Carlson. Our guests are Republican Congressman Peter King of New York, author of a new novel, "Deliver Us From Evil." Thank you for coming in, Peter.
REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: Great to be here. Thank you.
SHIELDS: Good to have you.
President Bush spent five hours in his Texas ranch with Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. A Saudi official reported the Crown Prince told the President "if the United States doesn't do more to reduce the violence there will be grave consequence to the U.S. and it's interests". President Bush reported what he told the Crown Prince:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Palestinian Authority must do more to stop terror. Israel must finish it's withdrawal, including resolution of stand-offs in Ramalah, and Bethlehem in a non-violent way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRINCE SAUD AL-FAISAL, SAUDI ARABIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: I think the first and the most important aspect and we agree on this both our sides is the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Palestinian territory.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHIELDS: The President also expressed his own personal reaction to the Saudi threats.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: One of the really positive things out of this meeting is that the Crown Prince and I established a strong personal bond.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHIELDS: Bob Novak, how does that strong personal bond promote peace in the Middle East?
ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST: Well it's not very important. You have to just realize that the President takes this seriously. Tony Blair, Vladimir Putin, the guy from China. They all have strong personal bonds, but what's important is that there is an important relationship between Saudi Arabia and the United States that goes all the way back to 1944, and some of these madmen on the Hill who are denouncing the Saudis as a medieval dictatorship, it's really ridiculous.
I think the President realizes that the Saudi Peace Plan is a beginning. It's not what the Israelis want. It's not what Sharon wants. They want to have a colonial system where you subjugate the Palestinians as their way of making peace, peace with blood and iron, but I think the Saudi Plan is the most -- it's dim, the Eight Point Plan nobody is quite sure how it will work, but it is the best hope that we have right now.
SHIELDS: The best hope, Al Hunt?
AL HUNT, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": Well it may be the only hope although I think it only can be done with an active U. S. involvement, I think we all would agree on that. Look, I would trade these personal bonds for some coherence and some backbone in the Bush policy. I don't know why the President keeps delivering these messages to Sharon when Sharon then gives him the back of this hand.
And if you read the polls today Sharon is twice as popular in Israel as he was a month ago, so I think that the President isn't going to respond to this anymore than he did to his April 4 insistence that he get out and get out now. As for the Saudis, they say they won't use oil as a weapon, they won't use oil, unless it's to their advantage to use oil, and I think the Saudis are going to play to their home constituency because for the first time in my memory I get the notion of some kind of a radical insurgency in Saudi Arabia is not far fetched and if that happens the Crown Prince is going to forget about those personal bonds, believe me.
SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson, do you get a sense that there is a progress that came out of this meeting?
MARGARET CARLSON, "TIME": No. A personal bond is fine when you know Putin comes to the Ranch, and you look in his soul and you like what you see, because you're not in the middle of what could become a total conflagration in the Middle East.
He needed to do more than form a personal bond, he needed to get some concessions from the Saudis and he seemed to get nothing. The Saudis were more adamant towards Bush than Bush was towards the Saudis and the reason he's not furious about Sharon giving him the back on the hand and not doing anything, is that I think that the Bush doctrine is Bush's doctrine. He believes it and he would be doing the same thing Sharon is doing under the same circumstances. He would retaliate. Also you know Bush's street and the Saudi street are having their day. I mean Bush's street is Tom's Delay and the right wing of his party and they like what Sharon is doing and they want Bush, you know, not to stop it. They do not want Sharon to pull back from the West Bank at this point in the face of the suicide bombers and the other acts of terrorism.
SHIELDS: Peter King, the really -- this is the first time we're really seeing fault lines and factions develop in the Bush Administration and this week Congressman Tom Delay, the Whip, wanted to bring up a resolution coming up next week in the House endorsing Israel, stating (UNINTELLIGIBLE) support and Secretary Colin Powell saying don't do it, he was going to go straight ahead. Now the President has said, you know the White House has indicated that Mr. Delay is not going to go ahead with that resolution.
Give us a sense of where things do stand on the Hill and whether this meeting had any positive impact on it.
KING: First of all, I think it is positive to the extent that the President has to show that he's dealing with a moderate Saudi leader, you know I disagree with Bob. I think that the Saudi Kingdom is corrupt and it's only been maintained by U.S. support for the last 40 or 50 years. I think it is important that we send them a message. We're not going to tolerate this constant anti-Americanism and anti- Semitism and we have to take into account that 15 of the 19 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia.
That's a reality we can't ignore. As far as the feeling on Capital Hill there is definitely some in the Republican Party who feel we should be more overtly pro-Israel. I think the President is trying to maintain the duality of the policy, where we are today. We are allied with Israel but we have to also deal with the moderate leaders. He's trying to balance that and I think some of the people within our party which is my party, not your party obviously, some of the people in my party are trying to put him in a spot where he has to be more overtly pro-Israel than he wants to be even though behind the scenes, I agree with Margaret, he is as pro-Israel as anyone.
NOVAK: I think he has the same problem as every President since Eisenhower has had, and that is you're for the assistance of Israel, you want Israel to prosper but you don't want that to alienate the entire Arab world. You want to have peace and you don't, most of all, you don't want to get involved with the right wing faction which is so popular with the Republican Party and that is Sharon and these people.
So I think it is a very difficult situation and Al, I think is a real problem. He says, get out of the territories, and they won't leave, he's obviously not ready to issue ultimatums, it's an extremely difficult situation for the President.
HUNT: He either shouldn't say it or he should back it up if he's going to say it. That's true of American presidents.
NOVAK: I don't think he has any choice, and if he says, if he says it's OK, you don't have to get out, he would be in worse shape. CARLSON: Well, the see-saw is, he says, get out you'll have to do that then he calls him a man of peace when Sharon has done little to heed the President's word.
KING: At some point it's important in diplomacy, you know to send mixed signals. It's a very complicated situation, the President is trying to send a mixed signal, but ultimately I think the message is he is going to stand with Israel in the end and he has to do something to make it a bit easier for the moderate Arab leaders, such as Mubarak, Abdullah (ph).
HUNT: Do you think there are people in this Administration who are undercutting Secretary Powell's efforts in the Middle East, Peter?
KING: I think there's a few. I have heard it from some friends of mine in the State Department, yes.
SHIELDS: Let me just toss one thing in here and that is that this somewhere between surreal and preposterous is the statement that I expect the Palestinian Authority to do more. I mean here is Arafat surrounded by rubble, unable to breathe, aren't able to use their toilets for goodness sakes, and he's supposed to be Winston Churchill, or a Franklin Roosevelt?
NOVAK: And the whole policy of Sharon has been to destroy the Palestinian Authority, to destroy its ministries,
SHIELDS: And its civil authority.
NOVAK: And the civil authority.
CARLSON: And Sharon should not have destroyed Jenin, Ramallah, But the Palestinian Authority didn't do what it was supposed to do after Camp David.
NOVAK: How could it?
CARLSON: No! This is before, they did not.
SHIELDS: We had three good years on Oslo, and I would simply quote a great Israeli leader who said, Israel was not created to be an occupying force or a dominating nation.
KING: But also Bill Clinton said Arafat is the one who dropped the ball, I mean...
SHIELDS: I'm not in any way absolving Arafat in...
NOVAK: If Bill Clinton said it, it must be true.
SHIELDS: Peter King and the Gang will be back with the American Cardinals in Rome.
SHIELDS: Welcome back. The message from Pope John Paul II to the American Cardinals of the Catholic church summoned to Rome read, quote, "People need to know that there is no place in the priesthood and religious life for those who would harm the young." End quote.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARDINAL ANTHONY BEVILAQUA, ARCHBISHOP OF PHILADELPHIA: We all are agreed that no priest, guilty of even one act of sexual abuse of a minor will function in any official ministry or any capacity in our diocese.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHIELDS: But the actual communique released by the cardinals avoided a doctrine of zero tolerance. It said, quote, "We will propose that the United States conference of Catholic Bishops recommend a special process for the dismissal of a priest who has become notorious and is guilty of the serial predatory sexual abuse of minors." End quote.
Nor did the communique mention advisory groups of laymen as promised.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARDINAL THEODORE MCCARRICK, ARCHBISHOP OF WASHINGTON: I was looking for it because we had it in last night. We certainly did want to tell the lay people of the United States that they must have a major role in this.
SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson, what did this Rome meeting accomplish?
CARLSON: Well, those Catholics looking for a miracle did not get one. Despite the spin afterwards the cardinals address the "notorious" cases. I thought that was a very bad word, and Bishop Gregory afterwards said that the policy left the church "wiggle room." A less felicitous phrase I have never heard.
The didn't really address the cover-up. There were crimes and a cover-up and that would have meant direct responsibility falling on the heads of Cardinal Egan and Cardinal Law. No one wanted to do that. And a letter was sent from the pope to the struggling priests, but not to the struggling victims. It still seems to me that the church doesn't quite get the difference between protecting the church and moving forward with a policy, by the way, that is already in effect.
There is a 1992 policy which deals with priests and sexual abuse, which if they follow the policy would be there. We don't need policy now, we need practice.
SHIELDS: Peter King, were the expectations from Rome too high going in, and does Margaret not have a good point in saying that the message ought to have been directed not at fellow clergy, but at the victims?
KING: Well, whatever expectations there were, they weren't met. I think it was terribly disappointing, it was just a terrible about of sophistry, and what is really missing from these cardinals, and from the pope as well, is none of the outrage and anger that comes from life-long Catholics. My 85 year-old mother, my wife, they are enraged by this. And I go -- anyone over the age of 50, at least, who grew up in the Catholic experience is so disappointed and so outraged and so angered by what has com out over the last several months, I think the only way this can be addressed is not just for the future, but any priest who was ever engaged in any type of child abuse has to be removed.
Any bishop or cardinal who tolerated it has to be removed and anyone who should have known about it and did nothing should be removed. Until then, what Catholic is going to trust their young boy or young girl with a priest. And the fact is probably the overwhelming majority of priests are sound, but I will tell you, I had a priest in my parish, he used to come to my house, I just read in the paper last week that he was transferred 20 years ago. We never knew why, because he was guilty of sex abuse. I found out about it now, he has been in Florida for the last 20 years. When my kids were young, this guy was in the house.
That's just one example that I have. I think this is terribly disappointing, and I think that if the Catholic church doesn't take real sound, solid action, they are not going to recover from this and all these guys who are in have to be removed.
SHIELDS: Bob Novak.
NOVAK: I thought the pope's initial statement that you just read, I though it was a good statement. It said there was a zero tolerance statement -- one strike and you are out. But that was the last good thing that happened in Rome. And it was very disappointing to me. In the first place, the idea that this idea of talking about predatory priests, predatory behavior, serial behavior...
NOVAK: Notorious, it was a very bad word, and then the idea that they -- poor Cardinal McCarrick, he said gee, I thought we had something in there for the layman, but somehow it lost and the rest of the cardinals all went out to their appointments and they left only Cardinal McCarrick to address the press.
It was a very disappointing day. There is one more chance they have and that is with the U.S. conference of Bishops meeting in Dallas in June. They better get it right that time.
SHIELDS: Al Hunt.
HUNT: I agree. It was terribly disappointing. Let me put one question in, though. I have a little worry about adopting a zero- tolerance policy. Let's not forget due process. All these cases we have read about lately have been just egregious and very real cases of sexual abuse, but there also have been in the past some copy cat fraudulent charges against people like Cardinal Mahoney, Cardinal Bernaden (ph) of Chicago. So let's not forget due process in this.
But I am just appalled by the lack of even dealing with the cover up. The cover-up was every bit as bad as the crime. Cardinal Law I think was an accomplice to a crime. He and Cardinal Egan didn't even show up at that press conference. They said they had another appointment -- last minute shopping at the Vatican gift shop? I mean it was really really outrageous, and I think Peter King is absolutely right on. They just don't get it.
KING: They treat is as if it is like padding an expense account or making a personal call on a company phone. I can't imagine a more heinous act than sexual abuse of a chile and for the pope to say this is wrong, I mean we have known that for 2000 years I hope.
NOVAK: I have tried, and it was last week, I was trying to put the good face on the church's handling of this. But what got me was this "serial" word. In other words, you have to do it several times before we are going to, I think there was a mistake. And I think it can be corrected in Dallas.
SHIELDS: Archbishop Thomas Kelley of Louisville said the bishops need to recognize that words themselves are not adequate, that trust has been broken and that deeds are required and boy, June is their last big shot and I think that is the last word.
Next on CAPITAL GANG, George W.'s No. 1 advocate returns home to Texas.
SHIELDS: Welcome back. President Bush's closest aid, Counselor Karen Hughes surprised the Capitol announcing her resignation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAREN HUGHES, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: At this point in my life, I know that it's important for my family that we live in Texas. Though I love the President dearly, and he's not only my boss, but he and Mrs. Bush are also very close friends. When I talked to him about moving home to Texas, he said, well as long as I can still have your advice and counsel and rely on your judgment and I want you still involved.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: The reason why is, is because her husband and son will be happier in Texas and she'd put her family ahead of her service to my government and I am extremely grateful for that approach and that priority.
Karen Hughes will be changing her address but she will still be in my Inner Circle. (END VIDEO CLIP)
SHIELDS: Al Hunt, what does the loss of Karen Hughes mean to the Bush Presidency?
HUNT: Well it's a big loss to the President personally. Karen Hughes not only was the most influential woman who ever served as a White House Aide to the President but she was that rare commodity, someone who's only agenda was the President's. She was friendly, she was disciplined and she was devoted, and so that's a huge loss to the President.
I think that both Mr. Bush and Ms. Hughes really believe it when they say that she's going to continue to have that kind of influence. It's going to be long distance. Mark it is not going to happen. Proximity is a sine qua non of power and influence in Washington.
SHIELDS: Bob Novak?
NOVAK: Well, Colonel House and the Woodrow Wilson Administration, I was still very young when that was happening so I barely knew...
HUNT: You knew Martha Major.
NOVAK: He did it long range, but it was a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and it was a different world. The thing about Karen is that she was not a Republican activist, she is not an ideologue. She is just a Bush person, she is irreplaceable, and she won't be replaced.
SHIELDS: Peter King.
KING: Karen Hughes is very tough, she's very good, she's very loyal to the president. He is definitely going to miss her, and I think the unwritten story here is that fact that the two most powerful women here, ever appointed by the President, Condoleezza Rice and Karen Hughes, and they were there this administration. Karen Hughes is going to be a big loss to the president, yeah.
SHIELDS: Appointed by a conservative Republican and not by a liberal...
CARLSON: Republicans like women individually. Democrats only like them as a group.
SHIELDS: A voting group.
CARLSON: Sorry, oh, no, right. No one is going to fill those size 12 pumps, so
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oooooh...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Meoww!
CARLSON: No. That's one of the things Karen says about himself all the time so I think she...
CARLSON: they're not that big. And easier to fill, because she was a singular -- factor in the Bush White House, but she now has the best flex time job in America. No one will ever have a stay at home Mom job like this one.
SHIELDS: They said after J. Edgar Hoover left a big pair of pumps to fill at the FBI, but I do want to say about that Karen Hughes, it is a testimony to George W. Bush that he not only had a strong woman and she was a strong woman in that job, but she was taller than he was and very few politicians like to have aides who are taller, let alone, taller women.
CARLSON: They wont' marry a taller woman.
NOVAK: You know what is fascinating is that there no inside story on this.
SHIELDS: No. This is...
CARLSON: Most men, when they say they're going to spend more time with their family, they suddenly want to change a diaper because they suddenly lost their job and that is not true with her.
SHIELDS: I think that is unfair, Margaret, but...
HUNT: It's the word...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jeffrey Skilling?
SHIELDS: We'll be back with the CAPITAL GANG Classic, Janet Reno's' Easter Weekend Race.
SHIELDS: Welcome back. This weekend, two years ago it was Easter Weekend and federal agents seized Elian Gonzalez from the home of his Miami relatives under orders of Attorney General Janet Reno. This is what CAPITAL GANG' said on April 22, 2000. Our guest was former Senator Dale Bumpers, Democrat of Arkansas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, CAPITAL GANG)
KATE O'BEIRNE: She's not only winging it in the law, according to the 11th circuit, she is winging it on the facts. She as just decided on her own that I looked (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in the eye and I decided this is what's best. That is not how we resolve these disputes.
SEN. DALE BUMPERS (D), ARKANSAS: She waited and waited and waited, and after all the great uncle, in whose custody Elian had been placed or was placed, said, I'm not going to turn him over. If they want him they're going to have to come and get him, and that's what they did.
NOVAK: The President as in Waco, said I didn't make that decision. It's a good decision but I didn't make that decision. The interesting thing is that she couldn't wait because at the time of the hearing that they brought the boy in and he said I want to stay here, I don't want to go back to Cuba, they'd be finished under the terms of the Eleventh Circuit Opinion.
HUNT: Cardinal Bernard Law, the very conservative Archbishop of Boston, wrote this week that the natural bond -- I'm going to quote this now -- there is a column in the "Boston Globe" -- between a father and a son, is a far greater value than a visit with Mickey Mouse or a glass of chocolate milk or even a superiority of a system of government. That is what was at play here.
SHIELDS: I want to say a word about Janet Reno. Janet Reno does, she steps up to the plate and takes the tough ones of this administration.
Margaret Carlson, two years later what can be said about Janet Reno 's decision in Miami.
CARLSON: Well, Dale Bumpers and you were right. The uncle wasn't going to give him up. She used a little too much force, but she got him out of there, and to look back and see the furor over this, I mean it just shows that the poor little boy has the bad luck to wash up on the shore of a swing state where there's a huge anti- and pro-Castro vote and so there you are. That's why we're still talking about it.
SHIELDS: I think Janet Reno is the worst public servant I've ever seen in Washington. It was a terrible decision, he's now a communist artifact tacked around Cuba. He's not with his father at all.
And I was really very happy to see Al quoting Cardinal Law as the expert on family values.
HUNT: Well, Cardinal Law -- I wish he would have been better on other issues, because he was very good on that issue. Unfortunately, the man is a hypocrite on other issues.
But Margaret is absolutely right. Elian was -- is better off being with his father, and Cardinal Law was right about that.
SHIELDS: Peter King. KING: Yeah, as evil as Castro is, I think it's important to maintain the family unit, and it's important to have the child back with his father.
SHIELDS: His real family values. Thank you for being with us, Peter King.
We'll be back with the second half of CAPITAL GANG. American- Jewish leader Malcolm Hoenlein is our newsmaker of the week.
Beyond the Beltway looks at an election shocker in France, with reporter Christopher Caldwell.
And our outrage of the week, that's all after the latest news following these urgent messages.
ANNOUNCER: Live from Washington, the CAPITAL GANG.
SHIELDS: Welcome back to the second half of CAPITAL GANG. I'm Mark Shields with Al Hunt, Robert Novak and Margaret Carlson.
Our newsmaker of the week is Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice President of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
Malcolm Hoenlein, age 58, resident is Brooklyn, New York, religion Jewish, B. A. in political science from Temple University, Master's degree from the University of Pennsylvania, founding Executive Director of Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater New York.
National Defense Fellow, University of Pennsylvania's Near East Center, rated number one Jewish leader in 2001 by the "Forward" publication, "representing a distinct Jewish presence in American life. "
Our Al Hunt interviewed Malcolm Hoenlein from New York earlier this week.
HUNT: Criticism of Israel and Ariel Sharon is dominant in Europe. Does this, in your view, signal a new anti-Israeli wave, something that should concern the State of Israel?
MALCOLM HOENLEIN, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, CONFERENCE OF PRESIDENTS OF MAJOR AMERICAN JEWISH ORGANIZATIONS: Well, it is a matter of concern, but I don't think it's a new wave.
We are very concerned, though, about the fact that the Europeans are taking this kind of an extreme position, and the manifestations of anti-Semitism that seem to grow from it.
HUNT: Well, is criticism of Israeli policy -- opposition to settlements in the West Bank, Judea and Samaria and Gaza -- and opposition to Sharon's full-scale incursions, is that criticism de facto anti-Israel or anti-Semitic, even?
HOENLEIN: No, neither. People can be critical of Israel. There are Jews who are critical, have differences.
But their criticism goes far beyond it. It grows, not because of government policy, but the governments, I think, have created an atmosphere which is too tolerant of this kind of blatant hatred and anti-Semitism.
HUNT: How about the criticism of some prominent Americans like Brent Scowcroft, the Republican former National Security Advisor to the other President Bush, or Jimmy Carter, the former President. Is that anti-Israeli?
HOENLEIN: Well, people are entitled to have different points of views, and they are in the vast minority of opinion.
We see overwhelmingly, whether it's Republicans or Democrats, conservatives and liberals I think have come to understand the importance of the U. S. -Israeli relationship.
HUNT: There are a number of American Jews who say that Sharon's whole history, going back to the massacre at Sabra and Shatila, for which he was partly, held partly accountable -- he only knows brute force.
How then can he be described as a man of peace?
HOENLEIN: It's not based in reality. He was not responsible for the massacre. The Christian militias carried it out.
He was held indirectly responsible, accountable for not preventing, not for causing it.
But if you look at the actions just since he became Prime Minister, the restraint that he has demonstrated, Mr. Sharon has a colorful past. He was a general. He was a man who led Israel and fought brilliantly in Israeli -- Israel's wars.
But he is frankly being mischaracterized, and I think the past is being distorted.
HUNT: Any Israeli leader would have had to have responded to the terrible Passover terrorism. But it appears as an effort to totally destroy the Palestinian Authority.
Why, for instance, destroy the Palestinian Ministry of Education, the Bureau of Statistics?
HOENLEIN: Terrorism has to be fought in absolutes. It is a cancer. If you don't root it out in its totality, as we are doing in Afghanistan, and as the President has said about the global infrastructure, it only comes back in more virulent forms.
HUNT: Would you like to see the Israeli government be more cooperative with the U. N. in the Jenin inquiry?
HOENLEIN: I think they are cooperative with the inquiry. They have accepted it.
The problem is that as soon as the resolution was passed, the Secretary-General moved way beyond the resolution. When you appoint a member, a former head of the Red Cross who said when Israel's Red Cross -- Red Star of David -- was applying for membership and said, well, we can't accept that emblem, because we would also have to accept the swastika.
That is not somebody who we believe can come in and do an impartial investigation.
HUNT: Purely as a matter of politics, do you think Sharon would be shrewd to make some gesture, say a pullout from the Gaza settlements to influence public opinion around the world?
HOENLEIN: I think Prime Minister Sharon is ready to make many gestures, to go to the peace table and make painful concessions, as Israel has done in the past.
But for that they need a real partner. You cannot make concessions now that appear to reward terrorism.
HUNT: American Jews voted more than 80 percent for Al Gore last time, principally because they agreed with him more on domestic issues.
If President Bush remains conservative on economic and social issues, but a strong supporter of Israel, does he deserve more Jewish votes in 2004?
HOENLEIN: I think President Bush has earned the respect and admiration of the American-Jewish community. We -- Jews don't vote on any one issue.
American Jews have come to know President Bush. They didn't really have much exposure to him as governor of Texas. Nobody agrees 100 percent with everyone.
This is a life-and-death issue. Israel is fighting a battle for its survival. And President Bush has come down and been supportive.
SHIELDS: Al Hunt, is this major Jewish leader's support of Ariel Sharon's policies absolute and unconditional?
HUNT: Yes, Mark, it is. They, you know, the conference for smaller groups have the same one vote that larger Jewish reform groups do.
It's actually very hawkish and clearly tilts to Likud, but very influential. Malcolm Hoenlein really believes quite sincerely that when it comes to America, we don't engage in nuances when we evaluate our response to terrorism. And Israel's survival demands that she do the same.
SHIELDS: Robert Novak.
NOVAK: I thought this was very dispirited for a couple of reasons. I've been listening to the leaders of this organization for many years, and they always take an absolutely uncritical position.
Whoever the Israeli government is, they never criticize the Israeli government. I think that's a mistake.
Secondly, what clearly bothered me is when he said, it's OK to be critical of Israel. That is not true. If you are critical of Israel, you are threatening the existence of the State of Israel in their opinion, and you are accused of anti-Semitism.
And I believe that Mr. Hoenlein was a little disingenuous on that.
CARLSON: You know, I agree with you, Bob, that Israel can do no wrong, and to listen to him is to see that.
Yet, I didn't find the conservative Jewish community backing Ehud Barak to the degree that they are cheerleading for Ariel Sharon.
NOVAK: I meant the organizations. These organizations never take a position against the State of Israel.
SHIELDS: Last word, next on CAPITAL GANG. Beyond the Beltway looks at the rise of Andre -- Jean-Marie Le Pen in France, with Christopher Caldwell of "The Weekly Standard. "
SHIELDS: Welcome back.
Beyond the Beltway looks at the French presidential election, where extreme right-winger, Jean-Marie Le Pen stunned the world by winning 17 percent of the vote, enabling him to qualify for a run-off against President Jacques Chirac.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEAN-MARIE LE PEN, FRENCH PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, LEADER, NATIONAL FRONT (through translator): I am socially to the left, economically to the right. And more than ever, nationally of France. But particularly, I am particularly a free man, a patriot who has absolutely no other ambition than to ensure that France is for the French.
I make an appeal to French men and French women. I would like to make a call, an appeal to every single one of you because, after all, democracy is the most precious good, because after all, the Republic is in your hands.
I hope that in the next few days, everyone choose responsibility, tolerance and respect. (END VIDEO CLIP)
SHIELDS: Joining us now is Christopher Caldwell, senior editor of the "Weekly Standard," who covered the French election and predicted Le Pen would make the run-off.
In the interest of full disclosure and CNN policy, Christopher Caldwell has the happy task in life of being Bob Novak's son-in-law.
Thanks for coming in, Chris.
CHRISTOPHER CALDWELL, SENIOR EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Thanks, Mark.
SHIELDS: Chris, does Le Pen's performance reflect fascism on the rise in France?
CALDWELL: No. It would if he -- it would if he had the votes to win. I think it's fair to describe Le Pen as a type of fascist, as a traditionalist, charismatic, authoritarian figure like Franco in Spain. The people who comment on the fascists are right.
But no, it reflects a lot more a rise in insecurity -- a rising insecurity over crime in France. They're in the middle of a huge crime wave.
His vote didn't go up by very much this election. But it went up enough to push him past Jospin.
SHIELDS: All right. And if Jacques Chirac is re-elected, which everybody expects him to be, with 75 to 80 percent, or maybe 70 percent of the vote, what does that mean?
I mean, presidents who get re-elected with landslides, it's usually an unhealthy development.
CALDWELL: It may be healthy in this case. France has a -- France's biggest problem now is constitutional. It's got this constitution designed by De Gaulle to be a sort of authoritarian presidential state. And it's got divided government.
Chirac's majority would make divided government less likely, and it may actually help France.
SHIELDS: Bob Novak.
NOVAK: Chris, this comes at the same time as this rise of anti- Semitism in France, burning of synagogues.
But that's supposedly done by the -- some of the people from North Africa, Muslims who are not among Le Pen's favorite people.
Is there any connection between this blip (ph) by Le Pen and the anti-Semitic problem in France?
CALDWELL: No, not directly. And in fact, you had interesting things happening like Joe Goldenberg (ph), the owner of the delicatessen that was strafed by Palestinian terrorists 20 years ago, is supporting le Pen.
So, no. But I would have to agree very strongly with your last guest, Malcolm Hoenlein, that there is a type of anti-Zionism going up in France that is an anti-Semitism.
It is the sort of thing you see on banners that people carry through the streets of Teheran about the great satan. It is -- it views Israel and all Jews as Hitlerites, as the embodiment of ultimate evil.
And, yes, it arises -- it arises in the suburbs. There have been dozens of stonings of Jews leaving worship. There have been probably a dozen synagogues bombed.
It arises in the suburbs, but there is a certain solidarity with this third-worldism on the part of the French left that is really worrisome.
SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson.
CARLSON: Chris, just about everybody, and all the polls, underestimated Le Pen's strength -- everyone, that is, but you. And I don't think this runs in the family, this really crack reporting.
But is the anger -- are people aware now of the anger that's there against crime and immigration? And is Chirac, who I expect will win by some huge margin -- what is this going to do to politics in France?
CALDWELL: Well, nobody has a plan for it.
The polling is actually interesting, the way the two top poll companies did it. And they were trying to avoid a situation, as we've had in certain races, like the Jesse Helms, Harvey Gant Senate races, where no one will admit to voting for Helms.
They knew their le poll numbers -- their Le Pen numbers were going to be low. So what they did is they simply doubled it. They just got the wrong factor.
What will this mean for crime? There is this governmental impasse in France. No one really wants to take the measures to go into these suburban housing projects and really assert order.
France's police are large, but most of them are in bureaucratic offices. And they -- this is why Le Pen is rising. It's -- people don't have faith that people have the resolve to fix the crime problem.
SHIELDS: Christopher, Bob really wanted to ask you, when are the grandchildren coming over. You can tell him -- you can tell him after the show.
First of all, you wrote a terrific piece, in which I learned a great deal about the French election.
Wasn't this really a breakdown of the left? And as you noted earlier, le Pen only got a couple points more than he got the last time. But there were I think three Trotskyite parties that got, you know, 12 or 14 percent of the vote.
It really was a breakdown of the old French left, wasn't it?
CALDWELL: In many ways. You know, the Socialist Party has totally run out of steam. The traditional Communist Party, which used to be one of the larger parties in France, got only three percent of the vote.
The real strength is in the new -- the new parties. There were three Trotskyite candidates, who are an extremely hard left assortment of people.
There are the Greens, who are beginning to capture some of this anti-globalization spirit, who also have a hard left in them.
And as they began to gain steam, Jospin moved to the left. So the result is, the left is going to reassemble around a place that's much further left than it was before.
NOVAK: Chris, when you were there, did you see any signs of hope in France for free markets, for less government, for low taxes, for the kind of good things that have been so helpful in the United States? Did you see any of that?
CARLSON: Yeah, they want more government, like gendarmes on the street.
NOVAK: Did you see any of that?
CALDWELL: Sure thing. Sure thing. Alain Madelin, the free market candidate got a solid three percent of the vote.
CALDWELL: No. The French are a great exception to the world traveling in the direction of free market capitalism. But they are insulated against the inefficiencies of government somehow.
Their government is so big, that a lot of the stuff we value in capitalism ticks on inside the government, like competition leading to innovation. It's a strange -- there's a strange paradox there.
SHIELDS: We're just pleased that Bob didn't talk about his Trotskyites on the (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
CALDWELL: That's OK.
SHIELDS: Christopher Caldwell, thank you very much for being with us. The Gang will be back for the outrage of the week. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
SHIELDS: And now for the outrage of the week.
Thanks to e-mails made public by New York State Attorney General Elliot Spitzer, we now know that stock analysts at the nation's biggest brokerage house were privately belittling the very same stocks they were publicly recommending to investors.
Why? The charges that some brokerage houses push overly bullish research reports just to bring in lucrative investment banking business from the very same companies.
Talk about a conflict of interest. Good for the New York State Attorney General.
But where have the federal watchdogs been? And where are they now? Robert Novak.
NOVAK: The government has just invited designs for a pedestrian plaza in front of the White House. Thus, that stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue, after 200 years of being the people's street, will remain closed indefinitely -- probably forever.
On the other side of the White House, "E" Street, block away, is closed. Meanwhile the Capitol grounds are littered with barricades.
None of this would have prevented 9/11. None of this would prevent future attacks.
Is Washington safer? No. Has this once-beautiful capital grown ugly? You bet.
SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson.
CARLSON: Who owns the most cars in the world? If you answered Bob Novak or Hertz, the largest rental car company on earth, you would be wrong.
It's Uncle Sam, with 602,000 cars -- one for every three employees.
Many sit idle, depreciating, taking up garage space. Others get gassed up by drivers in nice uniforms and caps to haul middle managers around.
The very department responsible for finding ways to save energy -- that's the Department of Energy -- has more cars than it has full- time employees -- 16,000 vehicles for 15,000 workers, at a cost of $1 billion a year.
What are they thinking?
SHIELDS: Al Hunt.
HUNT: Mark, talk about the pigs feeding at the trough. Congress is about to pass a six-year, $100 billion farm bill that will cheaply subsidize rich farmers.
A few good provisions like food vouchers for needy seniors are dwarfed by rip-offs like ethanol subsidies, courtesy of Senate Democratic Leader Daschle.
How about a veto? No chance. Those foreign states and those fat cats are too important.
NOVAK: You know, Al, it used to be that the Texans, like Bill Archer, Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, were anti-ethanol, but now we've got a Texan in the White House, and he's the biggest booster of ethanol you ever saw, ever since he went to the Iowa caucus.
HUNT: Iowa caucuses. The Iowa caucuses did -- drew him in that.
Hillary Clinton came out against the ethanol subsidy the other day. She's not running in 2004.
SHIELDS: All right. And, Margaret, the motor pool is really deep -- at the deep end of the motor pool.
This is Mark Shields saying goodnight for the CAPITAL GANG. If you missed any part of the program, you can tune in at 11 p. m. eastern, and again at four a. m. to catch the replay.
Coming up next, CNN PRESENTS.
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