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CNN CROSSFIRE

Is Snow Right Choice to Head Treasury?; Will Iraqi Arms Declaration Slow Down Push for War?; Do Democrats Need to Bash Bush to Win?

Aired December 9, 2002 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANNOUNCER: CROSSFIRE: On the left: James Carville and Paul Begala. On the right: Robert Novak and Tucker Carlson.
In the CROSSFIRE tonight: his last job was to make the trains run on time. Is President Bush's new choice for treasury secretary the right guy to get the economy back on track?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN SNOW, TREASURY SECRETARY NOMINEE: I look forward to joining your economic team to advance a pro-growth, pro-jobs agenda.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: It took thousands of pages for Iraq to say, we're harmless. Will this report slow down the Bush administration's plans for war?

And a Democrat finally wins one. Did Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu overcome her Republican challenger because she attacked the president? Do Democrats need a Bush bashing strategy?

Ahead on CROSSFIRE.

From the George Washington University: Paul Begala and Robert Novak.

PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST: Good evening. Welcome to CROSSFIRE.

Tonight, President Bush looks for new blood for his economic team, so he turns to the Ford administration. What is the matter, were all the Millard Fillmore guys busy? We'll also talk about guns and butter. Has Saddam Hussein's massive arms report thrown a monkey wrench into the Bush administration's war plans?

And now that a Louisiana senator has saved her seat by taking on President Bush, we'll consider whether other Democrats will be smart to follow her lead? But first, as we do every day, let's lead with the best political briefing in television, the CROSSFIRE "Political Alert."

As we just mentioned, President Bush today revealed his choice for treasury secretary. He was looking for a fresh face, so chose a former official from the Ford administration. Someone whose background was in a cutting edge industry, an executive from the railroads. CSX Chairman John Snow narrowly beat out President Bush's other finalist for the job, Herbert Hoover, when Mr. Bush learned that President Hoover has been dead for several decades.

As if to prove he's on the cutting edge in at least one area -- that being elitism -- Mr. Snow was, until today, a member of the Augusta National Golf Club, which was all white until the 1990s and remains defiantly closed to women to this day. Defending his nominee, Mr. Bush said, I've always liked choo-choo trains, and Mr. Snow promised me I could wear his engineer's hat and blow the whistle. So it's a good choice for that.

ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST: You know, Paul, you're so into the politics of personal destruction, I don't think you can understand this, but this is really a very serious job. It has nothing to do with choo-choo trains. It's whether this person is going to do a better job than Paul O'Neill, which, come to think of, it won't be very hard.

BEGALA: That's a pretty well (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Will he do as good a job as Bob Rubin? No.

NOVAK: Well, I think that's one of the great myths. But we can talk about that later.

A federal judge today ruled against Congress forcing Vice President Cheney to reveal who his energy task force consulted. U.S. District Judge John Bates decreed that one branch of government cannot use a second branch of government to force a third branch to do something it doesn't want to do. Judge Bates put it this way, "Such an excursion by the judiciary would be unprecedented and would fly in the face of the restricted role of the federal courts under the constitution." Personally, I think the vice president should have voluntarily given up the names, but Bush bashers are wrong in wanting to rip up the constitution, Paul, just to embarrass the president of United States.

BEGALA: You're speaking, of course, about the same now Judge Bates, who used to be an assistant to Ken Starr, who shredded the Constitution so he could find out what girlfriend Clinton was in bed with. So the Republican position is, we have a right to know what woman the president is in bed with, but no right to know whether Bush is in bed with Ken Lay? I think that's an insane position.

NOVAK: In other words, because a Republican judge ruled that the Constitution is valid, that has something to do with Monica Lewinsky.

BEGALA: It is not the Constitution. The Constitution requires those guys work for us, not for Ken Lay. We have a right to know what special interest dirt bags Bush and Cheney are meeting with. And I think the judge is wrong. I hope he's overturned.

Well, Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle today named New Jersey Senator Jon Corzine to chair his party's Senate campaign committee. Democrats, of course, are jubilant with the victory this weekend of Louisiana Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu over former Bush fund- raiser Suzanne Terrell. But the real loser in Louisiana was not Ms. Terrell, it was George W. Bush.

For weeks, Senator Landrieu had touted herself as a pro Bush Democrat. That strategy left her trailing badly. So, in the final week of the campaign, Landrieu did something none of the Democrats who lost back in November had dared to do, she attacked George W. Bush and slammed her opponent for being a Bush toady.

She essentially called Mr. Bush a liar, alleging he had cut a secret deal to prefer foreign corporate sugar interest over Louisiana sugar cane farmers. So the recipe for democratic success is clear: mix one part Republican hubris with one part Bush bashing, add fire to the Democratic base, you got yourself a victory. Congratulations, Mary Landrieu.

NOVAK: Now I know, Paul, that your agenda is to make light of the president of the United States, to undermine him, prepare for the Al Gore campaign, or maybe the Al Sharpton campaign of 2004. But the fact of the matter is that you're exaggerating how much she attacked him. We'll talk about that later. But I really believe that if you want to run this next two years attacking George W. Bush, you're going to be in big trouble.

BEGALA: Well, we just did and we won. So I think we should do more of it.

NOVAK: "The Washington Post" reports today on the campaign for chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to be selected by House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi. That's really democracy isn't it? The Congressional Black Caucus is pushing for William Jefferson of Louisiana, but that might underlie just how dependent Democrats are on African-American voters, particularly in the south, as shown in Louisiana last Saturday.

And Congressman Jefferson is disliked by big labor because he is for free trade. The most viable alternative to him is Mike Thompson of California. But he was one of the disgraceful Democrats who went to Baghdad a few weeks ago to criticize the United States government. It sure is tough being a Democrat these days.

BEGALA: I think they ought to pick whoever is going to be the strongest, whoever is going to be the toughest. And I disagree. I think it is wonderful that Democrats earn African-American votes. I don't think it is anything that needs to be hidden. Republicans love touting the fact they get right wing white guys like you to vote for them. Why can't we be proud of getting black votes?

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: I don't care who is the chairman of the Democratic Campaign Committee, Bob.

NOVAK: Because any Democrat that can walk or talk, you're for, isn't that right?

BEGALA: No. Any Democrat who can stand and fight is what I'm for. Well, United Airlines today filed for bankruptcy. The nation's second largest air carrier employs 80,000 Americans, some of whom, perhaps whom will likely lose their jobs, joining the two million other Americans who lost their jobs under President Bush. Republicans just can't figure it out.

See throughout the Clinton boom, Republicans always said the strong economy was because of the Republican Congress and Alan Greenspan at the Fed, not the president, of course not. Well, we still got a Republican Congress and, thank god Dr. Greenspan is still on job at the Fed. The only thing we've changed is our president, and he's changed our economic policy.

Predictably, Mr. Bush's answer to the recession he helped to create by cutting taxes for the rich is to oppose Democratic plans to cut taxes for working people. And instead, Bush is promising even more tax breaks for the rich. Kind of like the captain of the Titanic saying, you know what I really need, more icebergs.

NOVAK: You know, Paul, the recession really started during the Clinton administration. The Commerce Department cooked the books to disguise it. And the only thing that has brought us out of the recession are the Bush tax cuts. So you've got a little bit of demagoguery making light of history there.

BEGALA: Let's ask the audience? Are we still in a recession? Bob says we're out. I say we're not. Are we still in a recession here? Who thinks so?

NOVAK: We got a lot of "No's." That was a bad mistake to ask these people. This is a balanced audience, unlike the people you usually associate with.

The Reverend Jesse Jackson has called on Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi to step down from the post of Senate Majority Leader, even before he assumes it in January. Al Gore jumped in to call his former colleague a racist. Senator Lott's sin was committed at last week's 100th birthday party for Senator Strom Thurmond, when Lott said the country would have been better off if Thurmond had been elected president of the United States in 1948, when he ran as a segregationist candidate.

Anybody who watched the birthday celebration on TV would have known the senator was just engaging in good-natured hyperbole common to such occasions. Reverend Jackson and Vice President Gore, you're just demagoguing and playing the race card.

BEGALA: No, that's not demagogue. There is nothing good natured or hyperbolic about saying America would have been better off with a racist segregationist president. Strom Thurmond disavowed those views. Friday night, Trent Lott embraced them. That was a racist thing for Senator Lott to say. He's unfit to lead the party of Lincoln.

NOVAK: Well, of course Lincoln was more of a racist than Trent Lott. (CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: One hundred and fifty years ago. And Trent Lott wants to go back to 150 years ago.

NOVAK: Do you mind if I talk while you're interrupting?

BEGALA: I'm sorry, I feel deeply about this. I apologize for interrupting.

NOVAK: Well, you may feel deeply, but you should let me talk without interrupting me.

BEGALA: Yes I should.

NOVAK: Indeed you should. This was just the most disgraceful thing by the news media. If you had watched that -- you probably didn't watch the birthday celebration. You were out shooting birds in Georgia instead. But it was really -- it was just a lot of fun and he got carried away. I think he's sorry he said it, and he told Tom Daschle he's sorry. And Tom Daschle, who unlike Gore and Jackson is a gentleman, accepted the apology.

Coming up, Bush, the elder, won a war with Iraq and still lost the next election on the economy. Who is coming on board to help Bush, the younger, avoid the same fate? That, of course, assumes there will be another war with Iraq. Will there?

And Mary Landrieu holds on to her Senate seat after deciding she really doesn't agree with President Bush all that much.

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NOVAK: President Bush is hiring two new top economic advisers. Their job is to help re-energize the nation's economy. Our job is to speculate how well they'll do it.

To help us out, Robert Shapiro, former Undersecretary of Commerce in the Clinton White House, now a fellow at The Brookings Institution and a columnist for "Slate" magazine. And joining us from New York, Stephen Moore, senior fellow at the Cato Institute and president of the Club for Growth.

BEGALA: Steve, welcome. Rob, thank you for joining us. Let me start with you, Steve Moore. The Citizens for Tax Justice, which is a group that cares about tax fairness that I love...

STEPHEN MOORE, CLUB FOR GROWTH: A left wing group.

BEGALA: ... released a statement today that -- well, let me just read it you to and ask you to respond. They're talking about John Snow, our new nominee to be the treasury secretary, who is the chairman of CSX. The say, "In three of the past four years, Snow's company, CSX Corporation, paid no federal income tax at all. In fact, instead of paying taxes, CSX supplemented its $934,000,000 in pretax U.S. profits over the four years, with a total of $164 million in tax rebate checks from the federal government."

Why is our president putting a corporate tax deadbeat in charge of the Treasury Department?

MOORE: Well, you know what is so frustrating to you, Paul, is that this a president who know exactly what he wants to do on the economy. He wants to cut taxes, he wants to cut the capital gains tax, he wants to help both investors and workers with this tax reduction plan. Democrats have no plan.

And what he's done, I think, with this appointment, who I think is excellent. I know John Snow personally. I think he'll be an excellent spokesperson and marketer for the president's economic plan, because you still have those obstructionists in Congress, those friends of yours like Tom Daschle and Hillary Clinton, who don't want the tax cut plan passed.

So I think this is an excellent choice. I think George Bush is on his game plan. And I think this is very frustrating to liberal Democrats like you, Paul.

BEGALA: In addition to dodging taxes, CSX also has not been a particularly well run company under Mr. Snow. Let me read to you from today's "Wall Street Journal", hardly left wing organization, Steve, we can agree. The "Journal" reports today the Federal Railroad Administration several years ago cited CSX for safety lapses, track defects and an adversarial management labor culture. And, for all its progress, CSX still has the worst operating ratio, a common measure of railroad efficiency among big North American railroads.

The operating ratio is defined as operating expenses as a percentage of revenue. It doesn't sound-like a very competent steward to me.

MOORE: Well, actually, the truth is, Paul, that this is a guy who really turned this railroad around. You know back in the early '80s, when he took over CSX, this was a railroad that was in complete collapse. He's been actually a great businessman. He has made enormous profits for the people who own stock in CSX.

And I think that's the kind of guy you want in treasury. Somebody who knows how to run a business, somebody who knows how to make a profit. The only thing I want right now, Paul, is I want his membership at Augusta National.

NOVAK: Well, Rob Shapiro, I've been talking to some of the -- your colleagues from the Clinton administration -- in fact, from the early years of the Clinton administration --and they tell me that Mr. Snow, he was head of the business roundtable then, was very cooperative in their deficit reduction program. He was later very cooperative in the trade program. They thought he was a very constructive Republican businessman. So you ought to appall this appointment, shouldn't you? ROBERT SHAPIRO, FORMER UNDERSECRETARY OF COMMERCE: Well, the strange thing is that the president and the White House say they want economic advisers who are on board with the president on tax cuts, you're absolutely right. John Snow and the business council have called for deficit reduction, as has Steve Friedman and the Concord Coalition.

The fact of the matter is, though, his stewardship of CSX really raises a lot of questions Bob. If -- in the last five years, you know, the S&P 500 is just about today where it was five years ago. Union Pacific, another big railroad, is also just about where it was five years ago. CSX is down 50 percent of its value from five years ago.

NOVAK: That really didn't address my question, whether you thought he's a good secretary of treasury. Not whether he...

SHAPIRO: I think he agrees with Paul and I that unlimited tax cuts are bad for the economy.

NOVAK: Now, Senator Jon Corzine, the left wing Democrat from New Jersey, on television yesterday said this about Steve Friedman, the other new person. He's going to -- the ex-Goldman Sachs co-chairman, who is now going to be the new national economic director.

He said this: "I think Steve Friedman is a very capable man. He's intellectually disciplined about how he approaches problems. I think he'll be a voice to make sure that you look at our economic issues, with the pros and cons weight against each other. And, as you know, he's the vice chairman of the Concord Coalition."

Now, I want to get a brief answer from both of you. That ought to make you happy, that you got a guy like that, and ought to make Steve more apprehensive, is that correct?

SHAPIRO: Well, it would make me happy if President Bush would junk his current policy and accept the policies the Concord Coalition and Steve Friedman supports.

NOVAK: Aren't you happy Steve Friedman is in there?

SHAPIRO: Well, I don't know Steve Friedman. I'm sure he's a smart guy. He has a very impressive resume. But the point here is not the personnel. The point here is the policy, Bob.

NOVAK: That's -- I want to get Steve's reaction.

BEGALA: Let me ask you this, would he be Rubinesque? Not in the sense he'd be chubby, but could he be like Bob Rubin, with whom he was co-chairman of Goldman Sachs? This being Steve Friedman, the rumored appointee to run the National Economic Council?

MOORE: Hey, Bob, I'm extremely apprehensive about this choice for the National Economic Council. You know George Bush is a supply side Reaganite Republican. He wants to cut taxes, promote free trade, he wants to move forward with Social Security private accounts. And I'm not sure that Steve Friedman is on board that agenda.

And what Bush needs more than anything right now -- and that's the reason he dumped his economic team last week -- is somebody who can articulate the case for this agenda that Bush knows he wants to do. So I'm not sure this is a good choice. And I think, Bob, your column this morning was absolutely right on this, that he is a deficit phobiac and he's not a Reagan tax cutter.

BEGALA: Well, let me come back, though, to the -- we don't know whether Steve Friedman will be nominated to chair the National Economic Council. Well, Novak has better sources than me. If he says it's going to happen, I believe him.

I would rather see you there, Steve Moore, than Steve Friedman. But since you're on our show and not in the present White House, let me ask you this. John Snow, coming back to him, the designate to be -- our treasury secretary -- in 1996, sat on a commission that Jack Kemp chaired that took a look at taxes. It called for -- get this, our audience is not going to believe this -- it called for a removing -- eliminating the home mortgage deduction. Eliminating deductions for churches, charity, children, every deduction, and taxing billionaires at the same rate that we tax cops.

That's the most unfair thing I've ever heard of. Surely you're not for that, are you?

MOORE: Paul, what we were calling for -- and I was part of the Kemp commission. That's where I got to know John Snow -- was basically a simple, fair, flat rate tax that would get rid of all the pollution in the tax system. You know you talk about these corporations not paying taxes, you talk about rich people not paying taxes. Look, let's get rid of all the loopholes in the tax system, Paul. Let's have everybody pay the same flat fair rate.

The IRS code is a disgrace to the human race. I would think a liberal like you would be in favor of everybody paying their fair share with a simple flat rate that gets rid of all the deductions. Come on, Paul. Let's get CSX to pay their fair share.

NOVAK: I want to ask you in the audience, how many of you would like a simple flat rate, everybody pays the same rate, you have a postcard, you put the rate on a postcard, no deductions? How many of you would like that?

(APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: How many think it is unfair for Donald Trump top pay the same tax rate as a maid in one of his hotels?

(APPLAUSE)

(CROSSTALK)

SHAPIRO: Look, the problem here, Bob, is not the personnel. The problem is the policy. You know, we're changing the economic team presumably because a policy isn't working well. The policy was tax cuts. And what is the new policy going to be? Tax cuts. I don't get it, Bob.

NOVAK: Now here's the interesting thing. Alan Greenspan, you know him, he's the federal reserve chairman, and you and your crowd in the Clinton administration (UNINTELLIGIBLE) at his feet for eight years. After this election -- you did a great job. I'm glad you endorsed him. After this election, on November 13, testifying before Congress, he said "It would probably be unwise to unwind the long-term tax cut because it is already built into the system. There are potential adverse consequences which I don't think are desirable."

SHAPIRO: Well, he's talking about the tax cuts which have -- which are already in place, not the tax cuts that are coming four, five, six years in the future.

NOVAK: No, he's talking -- no, no, no, no, no. You know that's not true, Rob.

SHAPIRO: That is what he said.

NOVAK: That is not what he said.

SHAPIRO: Bob, he also said, when asked whether accelerating the tax cuts would be a stimulus, he said no.

NOVAK: That is -- Rob that is -- I have known and admired you for years. You know he was not -- he was talking about the future tax cuts should not be unwound. He said no. Isn't that right?

BEGALA: Steve Moore...

MOORE: Look, Alan Greenspan is on record for favoring a zero capital gains tax. And that's a major part of what President Bush wants to do here. So when Rob talks about the fact that the Bush tax cuts haven't worked, the problem, Rob, is that the tax cuts haven't taken effect yet. Seventy-five percent of the tax cut doesn't take place in the future.

What Bush wants to do is say, look, the economy needs rescuing right now. Let's move up those tax cuts as fast as possible, get the money in the pocketbooks of the workers and the consumers so they can spend it and save it. So I don't see how you say the tax cut hasn't worked. It hasn't happened.

BEGALA: Rob Shapiro, you're going to get the last word. Either way, isn't this incoherent, then, to have people who seem to support Clinton style deficit reduction in a presidency that seems to support...

SHAPIRO: What is really incoherent is to accelerate a policy that has reduced business investment and raised unemployment and say we need more of the same.

BEGALA: We're going to have to go to a break now. I want to thanks to Rob Shapiro, Steve Moore, good friends, folks. Thank you very much. Next on CROSSFIRE, Iraq says the pile of documents it turns over actually clears them. We will debate that when CROSSFIRE returns. Stay with us.

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. We're coming to you live, as we do every night, from here at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

U.S. officials are getting their first look at Iraq's mountain of paper and CD ROMS that Saddam Hussein has offered to buttress his claim that his country has no weapons of mass destruction whatsoever. Officials expect that it will take days to wade through the 11,000 pages of text. But we only have a few minutes to talk about how much it matters. Let's get right to it.

Joining us, Ken Adelman, former director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency in the Reagan administration. He's now with defensecentral.com and he's on the Pentagon's defense policy board. Ken, always good to see you. Thank you, sir.

KEN ADELMAN, DEFENSECENTRALSTATION.COM: Hello, Paul. Good to see you.

NOVAK: Ken Adelman, before we get into the inspection question, some time ago you said a military operation against Iraq would be a cakewalk on this -- on this program, some months ago. I asked you...

ADELMAN: It's almost a year ago.

NOVAK: And I asked you if you still agreed with that some months ago, and you said, yes, you did. And so a few weeks ago I interviewed your friend and colleague, Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld from the NATO summit in Prague, and let's just listen to the exchange we had.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NOVAK: Secretary Rumsfeld, your old friend and former colleague, Kenneth Adelman, who is a member of the Defense Policy Board, advisory board, has said on many, many occasions that a military operation against Iraq, against Saddam Hussein would be a cakewalk. Do you share that analysis?

DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Well, I really don't. I think anytime the use of force is a possibility, people have to recognize that it is your last choice, not your first.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOVAK: How do you like being slapped down by your old pal?

ADELMAN: I always say -- I like Rumsfeld a lot. I worked for him three times in my life, and I enjoyed every one. I think it is wonderful.

His job is very different from my job. My job is a prediction of what I think will happen there. And I told you the reasons why. His job is to make sure that everything is lined up, to make sure it is an operation that is going to be successful if the president says go. So he can't say that, because it sounds very casual and it sounds like, oh, my gosh, we can slough off.

But the fact is, for the reasons I gave you, four simple reasons, I think it will be an operation that we can win and win relatively quickly with little casualties, with little civilian casualties and change the nature of the Middle East.

NOVAK: Ken, do you know how much -- and I talked to a lot of military officers -- how much they detest you saying that? They feel it is...

ADELMAN: No, I don't, but thank you for telling me that, Bob.

NOVAK: No, I mean it really is embarrassing to them that somebody even associated as a civilian...

(CROSSTALK)

ADELMAN: It should be very flattering to them, because what I'm saying is the United States military is competent enough and motivated enough to do this job and to do it very, very well. It is a very high flattery to them. In other words, they're going to win, and what they're going to do is liberate Iraq in a way that frees the Iraqi people, that really does eliminate one of the, if not the, biggest threat facing America today. What else, if you were a general would you want to live for, Bob? That's the most wonderful thing in the world to do. It's a real mission.

BEGALA: Let me ask you about somebody else, (UNINTELLIGIBLE), not just Donald Rumsfeld on the right, Tom Daschle on the left -- spoke today about the inspection regime. You may be surprised as to what he said about our president and how he's doing. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MAJORITY LEADER: I think the president is doing it about right. He's firm. He is working in a cooperative way with the United Nations and our allies around the world. I think he's put Saddam Hussein on very clear notice that we expect complete truth. Saddam Hussein has given no indication at this point that he will do anything different than what he's done over the last 10 years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BEGALA: That's Tom Daschle yesterday on Wolf Blitzer's "LATE EDITION" program, very graciously gloating that Bush listened to him and not to you. Right? You and the right wingers wanted to go right in and bomb Baghdad. The Democrats said, no, let's go to the U.N., let's go to the Congress, let's go on in and inspect, and Bush sided with Daschle instead of you. How does that make you feel? ADELMAN: It doesn't make me feel bad at all. What Bush is -- what the president is doing is going through various steps to gain the maximum support for liberating Iraq. I think it's a fine procedure. I think that what it does is comes at the price of delaying things, of complicating things because I think the U.N. inspectors are a big complication for us now.

But I'm not going to object to Daschle praising the president. I think it's a wonderful thing.

BEGALA: Now, but the undercurrent here, the implied message you're giving me is that our president is lying when he says...

ADELMAN: No, I'm not saying that at all.

BEGALA: Let me ask you a question. When he says that inspections can work and he doesn't want to go to war -- maybe I'm naive, I don't support him politically, but I actually believe him. You seem to be saying, no, look, it's all a charade just to build support for a war. Is that true?

ADELMAN: There is no way to realize our objectives and to protect America without eliminating Saddam Hussein. There is just no way.

(CROSSTALK)

ADELMAN: Yes. The only way to do that is liberation is what I would say.

BEGALA: He's either naive or he's lying, in your eyes?

ADELMAN: No, I wouldn't say either one. I would say he's doing various steps to show that Saddam Hussein has been in power for, what, now, almost 30 years. It's very clear one of the most repressive regimes on earth, one of developing weapons of mass destruction, has a relationship with international terrorists and is a great threat to America.

NOVAK: Mr. Adelman, let's be candid.

ADELMAN: Who's going to go after that (ph)?

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: You were against this inspection regime from the very beginning.

ADELMAN: That's right.

NOVAK: You didn't make any doubts about it. And another person who was against it was Richard Butler, the Australian diplomat, former head of the U.N. inspection team. But he was on CNN this morning and he said something very, very interesting. Let's listen to what Richard Butler said. Super hawk.

ADELMAN: You guys are just full of clips tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD BUTLER, FORMER HEAD U.N. WEAPONS INSPECTOR: The United States made a very important decision when it went to the Security Council and put this into the hands of that council as against taking unilateral action. It should see this process through and the international law as the determined by the Security Council.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOVAK: Do you agree with that?

ADELMAN: Richard Butler, I served with him at -- now almost 30 years ago. I think that -- I don't know what it means is to follow the will of the Security Council. I really don't know what that means.

NOVAK: He means you can't -- because you don't...

ADELMAN: The United States is a member of Security Council. The fact is, Britain is a member of the Security Council. The fact is a lot of members of the Security Council support a liberation of Iraq.

NOVAK: What he is saying -- you know what he's saying. Ken, come on. What he's saying is that because we don't like the way Saddam reacts, we cannot take unilateral action. We should not.

ADELMAN: I wouldn't take unilateral action either, Bob. And you and I have had this argument time and time again. I've told you from the beginning, that if a United States president goes into Iraq, Britain will be with us, Qatar will be with us, Kuwait will be with us, Bahrain will be with us, Spain will be with us, Italy will be with us, Australia will be with us. You want me to go on or you have other guests to get to?

NOVAK: You know what, you're not going to be with us because time is up. Thank you. Thank you very much.

ADELMAN: Good to see you, Bob.

NOVAK: Still to come on CROSSFIRE, incumbent Senator Mary Landrieu sort of changed her tune and sang some sour notes about George W. Bush in the Louisiana runoff campaign. Will her reelection usher in a new era of Begala style Bush bashing by Democrats?

And the quote of the day, crow is on the menu for somebody.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NOVAK: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. This weekend, incumbent Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana squeaked out a narrow victory over her Republican opponent. Now here on CROSSFIRE, we sometimes get ourselves into a bit of trouble for the things we say, because occasionally we're not right. This time I was half right. My colleague on the left was completely wrong. And for that, we both take home the CROSSFIRE "Quote of the Day."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NOVAK: What it probably means is that Mary Landrieu is very nervous about the December 7 runoff election, and well she should be.

BEGALA: That's right. I think she'd do better if she took on Bush and the Republicans more.

NOVAK: She looks like a loser to me.

BEGALA: Landrieu, the Democrat, is trying to pretend like she's pro-Bush, a sure strategy for losing. Let's see how she does. As a Democrat, I'd like to see her win, but I think she is not going to, because she's not running as a Democrat.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOVAK: For the record, unlike Mr. Begala, I never predicted Senator Landrieu would lose. In fact, in last week's "Evans & Novak Political Report," I predicted she would win, and she did.

BEGALA: For the record, I was spot on, Bob. Amen for me! I said she would lose running as a Bush-ite and she was five points down. She switched to the Begala strategy, she hit Bush. She won by two points. I was right. You were wrong. Takes a big man to admit it, Bob, but go ahead, show me how big you.

NOVAK: You know, I'll show you how big I am. That's the kind of refabrication of history that you're guilty of.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: I was right and I was proud to be right. Good for Mary Landrieu for listening to me.

Still ahead on CROSSFIRE, one of our viewers has been keeping score of our president's rater pathetic record on job creation. Stay tuned for your turn to "Fire Back."

And then, more on Mary Landrieu, taking my strategy, taking on our president and winning. Now we'll ask whether other Democrats will follow Senator Landrieu's successful playbook. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NOVAK: In Louisiana, incumbent Senator Mary Landrieu's tactic of saying how much she voted with President Bush soured when her GOP challenger stress that she was even more aligned with the president. And Mr. Bush came to Louisiana to drive the point home. So Miss Landrieu changed course and hammered on her differences with the White House and won the election. Does that mean we'll hear a lot more Bush bashing Begala style from Democrats? Our next guest has some thoughts on that. Democratic strategist Vic Kamber and Republican consultant Terry Holt.

BEGALA: Thank you for coming. Have a seat. Mr. Holt, let me begin -- head let me play for you and the audience the ad that turned it all around for Mary Landrieu where she hit Bush like a bad piece of meat. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sugar, one of our state's biggest industries, but just before our election, Mexican newspapers reveal a secret deal with Washington to flood America with Mexican sugar. As Louisiana jobs were sold out Susie Terrell was silent. The president came to campaign for Terrell. She didn't say a word. Terrell put her party and campaign ahead of our state. Louisiana doesn't need a rubber stamp. We need a senator who will put Louisiana first.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BEGALA: Take open bush and win, right? That's the strategy for Democrats.

TERRY HOLT, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: Well, find a local issue that matters, that helps occasionally. But look, Louisiana has never elected a Republican to the United States Senate.

(CROSSTALK)

HOLT: They had a death grip on this seat and it was frankly a way to avoid an embarrassing defeat at the end of a terrible campaign season for them.

BEGALA: But Mary was down five points when she was running around saying, I voted with Bush...

NOVAK: She was never down five points

BEGALA: Yes, she was. She was down five points a before the election. And she turned around to win by two, made up seven points just by attacking Bush. There should be -- I know you're partisan Republican but you're also a strategist.

There is a lesson there, isn't there?

HOLT: Well, I'll tell you what, no one knew our candidate six weeks before the election this week. And she did an amazing job by going from 27 percent on election day in November to nearly taking out an incumbent Democrat. So I would give them a credit. The president is popular, but no magician. He would have had to pull a rabbit out of his hat to win this seat.

NOVAK: I must say that say the nonpartisan polls had her down 17 points, had the Republican down 17 points and just a few weeks before the election. Vic Kamber, Mary Landrieu went on "Meet the Press, " a nationally televised debate on November 17, and let's look at what she said about President Bush.

She said "I will work the president as I have in the war against terrorism, to reduce taxes, to support him in many, many ways, because he has led a tremendous fight against terrorism. I helped increase the military budget, supported our veterans, to fight the war as a chair of Armed Services Committee."

Was she lying when she said that?

VIC KAMBER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Probably not. On the war on terrorism she agreed with him. So what, on one issue to agree...

NOVAK: I am talking tactics. She was trying to be as Bushy as possible, wasn't she?

KAMBER: I think she was trying to appeal to the base of the party and the white conservatives in that -- in the state to say she's not a radical, not a crazy but that on issues she will differ. I'm where Paul is. There is no question Mary Landrieu would have lost, would have lost if she had not appealed to that base and gone after George Bush.

NOVAK: I don't quite understand s she repudiating this kiss up to Bush?

KAMBER: Why -- name one Democrat in the Senate that hasn't been with the president of the United States on some issue? Not one.

NOVAK: I would tell you one but he's passed away and I liked him very much that was Paul Wellstone.

KAMBER: Even Paul Wellstone on some issues...

NOVAK: Nothing.

KAMBER: I look at his record, I differ with you.

(CROSSTALK)

KAMBER: My point -- my point is that on terrorism, Mary Landrieu said she was there and was supporting the president. A number of people, a number of Democrats were supporting...

NOVAK: So, You would attack -- you would attack on -- going between now an the election of 2004, you would recommend as my friend does that you go out and smash the president?

KAMBER: I would recommend appeal to your base. What is the base of the party? Number two, where the president is wrong, take him on. And I think he's wrong on a of issues that Democrats have been afraid to take him on.

HOLT: I would have like to have been the consultant sent to Mexico for the opposition research.

BEGALA: That's right, it was found in Mexican newspaper. There was another issue, though, and that was the question of African- American participation, African-American turnout. One of the things that may well have helped right at the end, just as the ill advised performance some of people at the Wellstone memorial service helped Republicans, I think this may have hurt Republicans trying to get African-American votes.

Senator Trent Lott, the leader of your party, made a racist statement the night before the election. Here is what he said, let me play it for you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TRENT LOTT (R-MS), MINORITY LEADER: I want to say this about my state. When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have all these problems over all these years, either.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BEGALA: Those of our audience don't know, Strom Thurmond ran in 1948 on one issue, not on cutting capital gains, which is an honorable position. He ran as a segregationist, he ran against freedom and for segregation and Trent Lott 50 years later endorsing that. That is racist, isn't it?

HOLT: Come on, he's giving due to a colleague, the Senate is a place where people are gentlemanly to each other whether they agree or not. The man is retiring, he's 100, give him a break.

I'm not talking about Strom Thurmond. I'm talking about Lott. Would run ad then with this? Would you run ads to African-Americans to say, hey,you were better of with segregation. Trent Lott said thinks the country would be better if we had segregation.

HOLT: I didn't here the words Segregation in that statement.

BEGALA: He said if we hadn't -- if we had voted for him for president -- he ran on one issue.

NOVAK: Can I ask one question? Sometimes I sit here and think I'm on "Fantasy Island."

BEGALA: Sometimes you are, Bob.

NOVAK: I know. I'm listening to Paul and I am.

BEGALA: This is Bob's idea of a fantasy to be sitting with me. I can't blame him.

NOVAK: But Vic, this -- I agree with Mr. Holt entirely. This was ridiculous this demagoguery on poor Trent Lott, just kidding around. You heard the laughter in the audience. People knew he was kidding. But the question is, this was not a part of the Louisiana campaign. You know that, don't you? It wasn't brought up. Nobody mentioned it. Mary Landrieu didn't mention it. Her campaign didn't mention it.

KAMBER: People watched it on television.

NOVAK: Why where did they watch it?

KAMBER: On C-SPAN.

NOVAK: Oh, C-SPAN, the millions of Cajun's watching C-SPAN.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: That played Friday night on this program.

KAMBER: I'm not sure I disagree with you it's been blown out of proportion. I may disagree with Paul. But he is a major leader in his party. He should be more cautious with his words. His endorsement of Strom Thurmond who was a segregationist and frankly to the end I'm not sure he wasn't a racist, except he was too old to know any better and I'm not willing to be charitable -- I'm not willing to be charitable of friends and -- because it is a Senate...

NOVAK: You've gone too far. You've gone too far. Just a minute. I think Senator Lott said that he made a mistake, he said it to Senator Daschle. Senator Daschle is a gentleman, took it in that sample. I think you ought to say you went too far.

KAMBER: I just did it. I may have gone too far, Bob.

BEGALA: Let's get back to Louisiana, what you said.

The "Russian Post" today reported about Republican efforts to try to suppress black turnouts. I find it exceedingly dishonorable. It's one thing to campaign hard on issues. I'm for even name calling, as you know, if you watch this show.

But trying to lie to people to convince them not to vote is reprehensible. I'm going to ask you to agree with that. Let me read you what the "Post" reported from being on site.

"Workers in the Landrieu campaign cited what appeared to be unusually aggressive Republican efforts to to dampen black turnout. They produced a flyer they said had been distributed in black public housing complexes in New Orleans, apparently designed to mislead black voters.

"Vote. Bad weather? No problem. If the weather is uncomfortable on Election Day (Saturday, December 7) remember you can wait and cast your ballot on Tuesday December 10."

Now that was reprehensible, wasn't it, Terry?

HOLT: Well, did that come from Republicans or somebody out to get Republicans?

BEGALA: I have no idea.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: It came from someone who didn't want more black people to vote, and that's reprehensible.

(CROSSTALK)

KAMBER: Let's agree it is reprehensible wherever it came from. Wherever it came from.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: Wait a minute. These stupid kind of things -- don't give me this business. Of course he's against it. Everybody is against it. But he -- that is so demagoguery it makes me sick.

BEGALA: It is, I agree.

NOVAK: But when you have -- these kind of flyers appear in black neighborhoods every election, and they come from the Democrats trying to -- trying to stick it to the Republicans.

BEGALA: Oh, sure.

KAMBER: That's equally as demagoguery and outrageous. I mean, it is ridiculous.

NOVAK: So we're both equally demagogue. Exactly.

HOLT: It does come from folks who don't really know how to run campaigns. And let's give the Democrats their due in Louisiana -- when it came down to it, after bruising Republican primary, we had a tough job getting our Republican voters out to the polls, and in fact, with a million fewer Republicans than Democrats in the state, that's a pretty tough hill to climb.

But the Democrats did a great job. The only up turnout there was in that whole state was in New Orleans, and let's face it, the Democrats had to turn out their base. They did that. But they failed miserably in doing that in the general election. When they have one race to focus on, they have a chance, but otherwise, they're at a terrible disadvantage.

BEGALA: Terry Holt, Republican consultant, well put. Vic Kamber, Democratic consultant, thank you as well for joining us for a fun debate.

Up next in the CROSSFIRE, one of our Canadian viewers lumps my buddy Novak in with hypocrites and warmongers. I'm not for that. And then your take on the president's cabinet shuffle, all in the "Fireback" round. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NOVAK: "Fireback," when the viewers fire back at us.

Joel Reid of Kingston, Ontario, Canada says: "I absolutely love watching Bob Novak. He's like a daily advertisement in reinforcing global prejudices about Americans ignorant, arrogant hypocrites and warmongers. Keep truckin', Bob! You're doing your country good."

Mr. Reid, you are a typical Canadian. Ignorant, uninformed. Because one thing you know, I'm no warmonger.

BEGALA: Well, that is true. And I love watching Bob on TV. I'm glad our friends in Canada do, just for different reasons.

David York in Los Angeles writes: "By firing O'Neill and Lindsey, the president has finally managed to create the first two new jobs in his two-year administration." Bravo! Outstanding, David. Good point!

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: OK. Pat Gross of Green Bay, Wisconsin has a message for you, BEGALA: "Is the greatest president of your lifetime, that's Bill Clinton, also the same president that gave North Korea a ton of money and handed them nuclear technology?" I'm afraid the answer is yes.

BEGALA: Actually, the answer is no. He tried to keep them from developing weapons. They had an agreement, which then they backed out of under Bush, and Bush didn't even know about until the North Koreans fessed up. So shame on George W. Bush.

NOVAK: That's the spin, isn't it?

BEGALA: Shame on George W. Bush.

Dave Jensen, Santa Fe, New Mexico writes: "Paul, if you do your Hootie, Kootie, Bootie routine once more" -- he's talking about this loser who runs the he-man women haters club in Augusta -- "I'll puke. If you have it in so badly for old, rich white guys who play gulf, why don't you submit "Tootie" from the TV show "Facts of Life" for membership at Augusta? She was young, female, African-American, and attended an all-girl boarding school. And by golly, Begala, she's got the right king of name."

Well, that's true. She has a goofy name, but apparently you can't be a woman and be in Augusta, which I think is discriminatory and it's elitist and it's stupid. Besides, they all wear the silly pants and chase those little white balls around.

NOVAK: Yeah, I'll tell you, that is really one of great problems facing this country, who belongs to the Augusta National Golf Club.

BEGALA: Why would anybody want to join a club run by a guy named Hootie?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm Jack Green (ph) from Alexandria, Virginia. I'm a Desert Shield, Desert Storm veteran. And the one thing I can't seem to understand is why President Bush is willing to try to do at 250,000 troops what his father was not willing to do 12 years ago with myself and 499,000 other U.S. troops? NOVAK: Well, there is -- at the time of Desert Shield, there was no authorization to go all the way to Baghdad. And I'm not quite sure he's got authorization now, either.

BEGALA: Jack, first, thank you for your service. Congratulations. I'm glad you're here and you served us so ably. I do think that this president maybe is too obsessed with doing everything opposite of his daddy. I think maybe he could learn a little bit from talking to the old man. You know, he'd learn a lot if he talked to Clinton, but that would never happen.

NOVAK: Next question.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, I'm Mindy Vann (ph), I'm from Kingford, Texas. My question is for Paul. How come you're dogging President Bush for picking a treasury secretary with ancient ideas from the Ford administration but you were thrilled with Democrats promoting old- timer has-beens like Frank Lautenberg and Walter Mondale to run for the U.S. Senate?

NOVAK: Way to go, way to go.

BEGALA: That's a very good point. That's a very good point. There is a difference, though. Those two guys, it was an emergency. They had a death and a very abrupt resignation. This is something that Bush can plan and pick. Bush today is not for any economic idea that Herbert Hoover wasn't for 70 years ago -- cut taxes for the rich, that's all he's for.

NOVAK: That's not the answer. The answer is that Paul never saw a Democrat he didn't like and he never saw a Republican he did like.

BEGALA: Except Bob Novak. I have to say I love Novak.

From the left, I'm Paul Begala. Good night from CROSSFIRE.

NOVAK: From the right, I'm Robert Novak. Join us again next time for another edition of CROSSFIRE. "CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT" begins right now.

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