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How Will Conflict With North Korea Affect a War With Iraq?; FBI Seek Five Men Who Illegally Entered U.S. From Canada

Aired December 30, 2002 - 19:00   ET


On the left James Carville and Paul Begala.

On the right Robert Novak and Tucker Carlson.

In the CROSSFIRE tonight a possible war with Iraq.

North Korea's nukes.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think what we need to do is look at the options.


ANNOUNCER: And where are these guys, who snuck in from Canada.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's a concern on the war on terrorism.


ANNOUNCER: Tonight, new worries for a new year.

Plus, from war with Iraq, to the war on terrorism, to the race for the White House, CROSSFIRE's political predictions for 2003.

And when you think of Edison and the Wright Brothers, should you also think of her? The lady who says she produced the first human clone.


From the George Washington University, Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson.


Tonight, while most of the week in Washington enjoy their extended vacation, not here on CROSSFIRE. We're not shopping, not watching football. We're standing guard. Ever vigilant here on the front lines of political commentary.

Tonight we'll ask two members of Congress how America should deal with North Korea, Iraq and the war on terrorism.

We'll also talk to the woman who astonished the world by claiming she has produced the first human clone.

But first, something wholly original, never cloned or reproduced in any unnatural fashion, our CROSSFIRE political alert.

President Bush began this year saying that America will quote "Deny terrorists and their state sponsors the materials, technology and expertise to make and deliver weapons of mass destruction." Since that time, North Korea has announced that it possesses a nuclear weapon, expelled inspectors, exporting scud missiles to the Middle East, and is taking steps to build a sizable nuclear arsenal which could be exported to terrorists.

Democrats have long be concerned that Mr. Bush's obsession with Iraq has distracted him from a nuclear armed communist North Korea, not mention al Qaeda. With three Americans murdered today in Yemen, allegedly by an Islamic terrorist and the FBI revealing it is seeking to question five men who entered the question illegally and who may have leads in the investigation of al Qaeda, the Bush administration's priority seem more skewed and less sensible than ever.

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: I have to say, Paul, it is a dangerous world and you deal with the world you find and if you're president you find the world you when you come into office. I think Americans and polls suggest this feel a lot more comfortable with this president than last whose solution to the North Korea problem was promising to build nuclear reactors for the North Korean government. That was his plan for peace.

BEGALA: They were light water reactors that North Koreans could not use to make weapons. This guy's solution is to seems be just walk away.

CARLSON: That is absolutely not true.

BEGALA: We can debate this.

CARLSON: And we will as you will find out.

As we mentioned, the FBI is asking the public to be on the lookout for the latest invasion force allowed in by our neighbor and sometime ally to the north, that would be Canada. Sometime around Christmas Eve, while our friends in Canada were feeding their dog sled teams or repairing their igloos or may be it's drink beer, five suspected terrorists snuck across the border into the United States.

The FBI posted pictures of the men on its website. Law enforcement officials tell CNN the search is considered "very serious." In the mean time the United States military is drawing up contingency plans to invade, conquer and annex Canada. There by solving the problem of border hopping terrorist and just as significant providing Americans much need room to park their SUVs. Two birds, one stone, a perfect solution.

BEGALA: Of course, Tucker, it is not Canada's job to keep bad guys out of America. It is America's job to keep bad guys out of America. We control our border, and our president and Border Patrol ought to get on the stick and keep them out.

CARLSON: Well, as a civilized nation what Canada purports to be, you would think they have some interest in keeping terrorists from moving about freely within their borders and they don't.

BEGALA: We cannot blame the Canadian if our government let us down.

CARLSON: I agree it is a shared responsibility but they are famously lax but about who they let in and wander around what we call the frozen waste land of Canada.

BEGALA: These guys are walking as our president down there clearing brush or whatever he does in Crawford, Texas.

CARLSON: He is not a member of the Border Patrol.

BEGALA: The associated press reports that an internal White House document outlining President Bush's re-election agenda starts with these words quote "war on terrorism continued." You may recall that back in January Bush political guru Karl Rove told the Republican party they should run on the issue of terrorism.

Several months later another leaked White House memo said Bush's political strategy begins with quote "focus on war" and you may recall that Bush aides bragged to "Newsweek" magazine that their first decision of the 2002 campaign was quote "To keep Iraq front and center for months." Now despite the mountain of evidence, Bush spokesman continue to deny the president politicized the war on terror. They went to say that President plans to march on New Years Day wearing a new garment of the finest silk that can only be seen by the truly wise.

CARLSON: You know, Paul, one of the reasons people elect presidents is to deal with threats, foreign and domestic to deal with, in other words, terrorism and things like it. There is nothing wrong with the White House running on that. I think they pulled back too much out of fear of criticism from people like you. It is totally legitimate to say we do a better job of protecting America than the other people do.

BEGALA: If they want to politicize it they should be honest about it. They shouldn't say we don't poll and politicize the war on terrorism when they plainly are. There legitimates are debates over national security. They shouldn't pretend that they are not doing what they are doing which is politicizing

CARLSON: I think they ought to run on it. I agree with you they pretend they don't and they should.

BEGALA: They should just be honest. CARLSON: The Clinton era came to a fitting end today when 55- year-old Mark Jimenez appeared in a Miami court room wearing a government issued jail uniform. Jimenez, a Filipino citizen has been on the land for past three years running from charges that he gave thousands in illegal campaign donations to then President Bill Clinton among other democrats.

He is also charged with corporate fraud and tax evasion. Six years ago Jimenez was one of the largest single donors to the Democratic National Committee and a ardent supporter of Senators Ted Kennedy and now disgraced Robert Torricelli. Today like quite a few other Democratic fund raisers, he lives in a federal detention center.

If convicted, Jimenez will join at least 22 others found guilty of federal campaign crimes during the ethically challenged Clinton years. Former President Clinton said to be infuriated saying Jimenez is one of the few fugitive financiers he forgot pardon. And it is a shame. If he pardoned the guy like all the crack dealers.

BEGALA: Eight years and I don't know maybe $300 million worth of investigations, do you know how many high ranking Clinton administration officials were ever found to have violated the law, one, the chief of staff to the secretary of agriculture took football tickets to some football game. No, the most investigated administrative history and the most ethical. Let's have an investigation of the Bush and Cheney inside the war with Iraq and then we can call it...


CARLSON: Eight years of sleaze. It takes a lot of brass to call them the most ethical, but that still doesn't make it true.

BEGALA: Well, 32 high ranking Reagan administration officials, Elliott Abrahams, pardoned by Bush Sr. And now working for Bush Jr. in the White House.

CARLSON: Yes I know you are convincing many of views there is a very ethical administration, really.

BEGALA: Well, remember that anti-American Saudi Prince who tried to donate money to a 9/11 victim fund in New York in order to gain a hearing for his blame America first theory of terrorism? Well, then New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, properly, told the Prince, his name is al Walid Bin Talal to put his money where the sun don't shine. Well apparently Mr. al Walid has found such a place. Phillips Andover Academy, the elite, exclusive boarding school for the inbreed eastern (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

Andover alma mater of both President George W. Bush and his father has taken the prince's money as part of a scholarship it purports to honor former President George Herbert Walker Bush. One anti-terrorism group called the donation vulgar and disgusting. Now, I work to defeat former President Bush and I'm glad I did it but he's a decent man and he deserves a lot better from his alma mater than a scholarship tainted with this anti-American money. Shame on him CARLSON: I have to say I am not going to defend that but I surprised. Anybody who has been on the receiving end of a financial pitch from fund raisers at a boarding school can tell you. You know, they will search for it where ever they can get it. They have low standards when it comes to fund raising. Almost like a Democratic party.

Remember Senator Dean Barkley? Appointed to fill the term of Paul Wellstone. Barkley served, if that's the word for it, for just two months in the Senate. During that time he told the associated press he said he felt superior to nearly everyone he met. Quote "Washington is the only place in America where bribery is legal and sanctified because it is political." Barkely sniffed with a self righteousness of truly ignorant. Quote "The trend in this town is all about money."

Well, Barkley didn't say, at least not initially, that he is hopes to join that trend. Barkley used to run a car wash, signed up with not one, but two speakers bureaus, raking in more than $12,000 a speech. In addition to the royalties of the book he's writing and the salary to draw from a Washington law firm and addition to the fees he may receive from lobbying. Barkley is at a local hospital tonight suffering from a severe case of hypocrisy.

BEGALA: Yes, I met him once when he came on the show and I found him to be engaging.

CARLSON: What a phony, come on.

BEGALA: He is Mr. Smith. You know...

CARLSON: Mr. Smith ought to return to the car wash in Minneapolis.

CARLSON: I like career politicians, I like guys who did this for the long hall but I thought he was a breath of fresh air.

CARLSON: He says what they say. The town is for sale it's all legalized bribery. What a cliche. Go back to your car wash, leave town, that's what I say. Attack our city, come on.

BEGALA: Was good he at the car wash?

CARLSON: I bet was. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) please, after two months.

Santa Claus may be gone but before you know it the new Congress will be coming to town. In just a minute we'll ask two members how they plan to deal with a world full of crises.

Also what will New Year's be without risky and completely accurate predicts about what the new year will bring?

And later, the woman who claims to have cloned the first human steps into the CROSSFIRE to defend her actions which are indefensible. You won't want to miss it.


CARLSON: Welcome back. 2003 hasn't even started yet and already there is a huge list of problems waiting for the new Republican Congress. Members may have campaigned on lower taxes and the economy, but they'll also have to contend with North Korean nukes, cloned babies, the war on terrorism and, of course, a possible war in Iraq. With a list like that, where do you begin?

Interrupting their vacations to step into the CROSSFIRE tonight, Florida Democratic Congressman Robert Wexler joins us from Boynton Beach, Florida. And in Phoenix, Arizona, is Republican Congressman J.D. Hayworth. Welcome.

BEGALA: Congressmen, both thank you very much for joining us on this holiday week. Happy New Year a day early.

Congressman Hayworth, our president awakes to the end of the year with some very serious and dangerous news out of Korea. Let me begin with that. North Koreans have, just in the last few months, announced that they have a nuclear weapon, renounced their agreement not to produce additional plutonium, restarted their plutonium production facility, expelled weapons inspectors and sent Scud missiles into the Middle East for export purposes.

Faced with this, here's how our president's administration responded to "The Washington Post" when asked how serious the crisis was in North Korea. This is what they said. "A high ranking (Bush administration) official yesterday asserted that," quote, "`no one's really concerned right now,'" unquote. "Yet many outside experts believe a crisis may be boiling."

How can the administration be so out of touch with the reality in North Korea, Congressman?

REP. J.D. HAYWORTH (R), ARIZONA: I think it's a very different picture than you paint, Paul, because you may recall almost a year ago in his State of the Union message, President Bush described North Korea as one of the three nations forming an axis of evil.

Indeed, when you heard the public pronouncements yesterday of Secretary of State Powell they were in marked contrast to the misguided efforts of nearly a decade ago when a previous administration gave two nuclear reactors to the outlaw nation of North Korea.

Indeed,that was the first question I asked then-Secretary of Defense Bill Perry during the Clinton years, what on earth are you folks thinking? And now we are repeating the whirlwind, the bitter harvest of appeasement in giving the outlaw nation of North Korea the tools to try and commit nuclear blackmail.

I don't blame the current administration, on the other hand, for trying to deal with this calmly and coolly. But it is a very dangerous situation. And essentially we're trying to clean up a mess that was made by architects of appeasement. CARLSON: Mr. Wexler, Democrats are starting to say that they're going to -- the party's going to come up with its own foreign policy that goes beyond carping at this administration's foreign policy.

With that in mind, wondering, what do you think this administration ought to do with North Korea? Do you think it ought to build the two nuclear reactors the Clinton administration promised to build? Should it continue to send tens of millions to prop up the North Korean government or what should it do?

REP. ROBERT WEXLER (D), FLORIDA: Tucker, we're all Americans first, particularly as it comes to foreign policy and I wish this administration great success.

What we should have done the moment that we learned that North Korea had violated the terms of the 1994 agreement was be at the United Nations Security Council, engaging our allies, particularly bringing Japan and South Korea into the mix to make certain that a very significant problem did not turn into the crisis that is now occurred.

That is North Korea opening up its nuclear program and if they persist, either we'll have a military option, ultimately. Or we'll be dealing with a situation where the North Koreans are either selling their technology or arming people like al Qaeda.

The problem is North Korea, our policy in North Korea, has fallen victim to the president's tunnel vision on Iraq. You can't do Iraq 24/7 and also deal...

CARLSON: Maybe you don't read "The New York Times." According to "The New York Times" the president and his foreign policy team have been in consultation with the Japanese and with the South Koreans. We didn't know until recently the North Koreans opened up their nuclear program. So given that, what do you do now?

WEXLER: We knew two and a half months ago. Of course the administration knew about seven days before they bothered to tell Congress, if you remember, because we were about to vote on the Iraq resolution. And now Korea's been put on the back burner so we can deal consistently and ultimately only with Iraq.

That's misguided. It's not just North Korea that has been put on the back burner. How about Venezuela? That's where we get a most significant part of our oil. Where's the emergency in Venezuela? Where's the American initiative, the American involvement? It is not.

Argentina continues to have chaos. Even the Middle East where the president made a great speech in June about taking Yasser Arafat out, Chairman Arafat's still in, Hamas and Hezbollah have never been stronger. Where is the total effort against the war on terror? That's what America needs.

BEGALA: Congressman Hayworth, a moment ago you used one of the most charged words that you can use in foreign policy. And that is "appeasement." We know, of course, that in 1994 the reason the North Koreans stopped their nuclear arms program was because a credible threat of force issued by the Clinton administration.

The current administration -- the Clinton administration said if you restart this nuclear plant, that you can use to make plutonium, we're going to bomb it, we're going to destroy it. The North Koreans then stood down. For eight years they stood down.

Now they restarted it and the Bush administration refused to meet that threat with a threat of force. And, in fact, here's what a former defense department official said about this strategy to "The Washington Post": "By feigning nonchalance, the Bush administration risks encouraging a dangerous regime to step even further forward. When the North Koreans reactivated their nuclear reactor, the White House called it `regrettable.' That's the kind of word you use when the soup is very good before dinner."

Congressman, you want to revisit that word appeasement again?

HAYWORTH: No, I don't because I think it's an accurate word because it's interesting. What you're offering us is immediate, revisionist history offered by the former commander-in-chief, Mr. Clinton, and a rather forlorn and desperate attempt to say, hey, look at me, I really wanted to attack those Koreans.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Indeed, the day in 1995, early in '95 when I questioned Secretary of Defense Perry, he said nothing about being willing to move against the North Koreans. He said nothing about the nature of the threat. And indeed. I took the House floor, I believe the year was 1998, with information about the North Koreans trying to take one of the reactor cores out and with suspicions that someone had falsified testimony from the State Department to the Congress about these very efforts.

Now they come back and suddenly to act as if well, when we were in charge we were going to take action is basically false because what happened in the '90s was the Clinton administration, for using former President Carter, went in and rewarded The north Koreans for misbehavior.

And that is why we confront the situation we do now in North Korea. Now the challenge is how you to diffuse the situation? And I think Secretary Powell made it very clear yesterday that this government reviews any and all options.

But it seems to me you can't have it both ways. You can't in the early '90s say, we're people of peace and now turn around out of power and say why aren't we willing to go to war? That's a cheeky kind of assessment and it doesn't befit the danger of the current situation.

WEXLER: It is clear that we need to be at the Security Council resolution. The Japanese, the Chinese, the South Koreans all have interests that are consistent with the United States. The Russians do as well.

What it will take is an energized American administration focused on North Korea, focused on that extraordinary danger at this point to bring it about. Unfortunately we've had two and a half months where a significant problem festered into a crisis. I hope the administration now does what needs to be done.

CARLSON: Congressman, what I hear you saying is what I hear a lot of Democrats saying which is we need to take this to the U.N. And I suggest it's positions like that that lead to the following polls. This is a poll taken right after the mid-term elections that asks Americans which party is tougher on terrorism.

You might not be able to see these numbers. I'll read them to you. Tough enough on terrorism, 64 percent of Americans say Republicans are tough enough, 34 percent say Democrats are tough enough. Thirty-point difference, Republicans creaming Democrats. There's a huge problem for your party, isn't it?

WEXLER: Well, Tucker, if acting responsibly in the world is a huge problem, then I'm happy to wear that banner. What I am advocating is in fact what Secretary Powell advocated yesterday.

But what I am also suggesting to the administration, which I think is actually much tougher on terrorism, what I'm saying what the president is doing is this isn't just a battle against Iraq, this is a battle against North Korea. It's a battle against Hezbollah and Hamas. It's a battle against al Qaeda. Five guys just came into our country, we don't know where they are. Al Qaeda's shooting down airplanes in Africa. They're attacking seven, eight countries in Africa and where is the urgency?

So when you talk about toughness, let's have toughness outside of the sphere of Iraq.

BEGALA: Congressman Hayworth, let me suggest to you a reason that might have pushed those poll numbers. I happen to know, of course, President Bush's pollster Matthew Datt is a dear friend of mine, I used to be in business with him. Jann Von Lohuizen (ph) is also his pollster. He polls all the time as is perfectly his prerogative.

But one thing that I think has crossed the line is the level to which this White House politicized national security and terrorism. Let me read to you from the Associated Press which uncovered an internal White House document saying just how drastically they wanted to focus on terrorism as a political issue for Bush's re-election of 2004. The AP wrote, "An internal White House document outlining President Bush's re-election agenda starts with, " quote, ""`War on terrorism (Con't),'" unquote, "and homeland security. It's the latest sign, critics say, that presidential advisers are seeking political gain from the September 11 attacks."

Can anything be more tawdry?

HAYWORTH: Well, first of all, it's assessment of the world as it is. Paul, you're a veteran of more campaigns than I've been through and every time we sit down to take a look at what the future holds, we have a snapshot of current conditions.

And this president in his radio address last week made clear in virtually every public utterance that as commander in chief, he is concerned with the war on terror, with homeland security and not only a question of surviving, but thriving, getting our economy back to work again.

That's legitimate assessment of where the American nation is now coming up on the year 2003. It is scarcely the tawdry use of conflict as a political weapon.

BEGALA: That will have to be the last word. Congressman J.D. Hayworth from Arizona, Republican, thank you very much for joining us. And Congressman Robert Wexler, Democrat from Florida...


BEGALA: Coming up next, two bold and brilliant political minds will look into their crystal balls and give us some rather startling predictions for 2003.

Then we will roll the tape and see how one of our CROSSFIRE co- hosts' predictions from a year ago actually panned out. You may be surprised.

Later, we'll talk to a woman who claims she has cloned a human baby. That's merely the second most bizarre thing she says. Stay tuned.


BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. There's one day left in the year 2002. What does the year 2003 hold for some of our favorite politicians? We asked a pair of political pros to put on their prognosticators' hats and step into the CROSSFIRE. Please welcome Democratic strategist Steve McMahon and Republican Kellyanne Conway, the CEO and president of the Polling Company.


CARLSON: All right. Steve, here is my question to you as a professional prognosticator. Now that Senator Hillary Clinton has made the list with Jennifer Lopez, J. Lo, as one of most admired American women, will she be able to wait until 2008 to destroy the Democratic Party or do you think she'll go ahead and do that in 2004?

STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: She said she's not going to run in 2004. She's not going to run in 2004. Come on. She's got four more years that she make the list, maybe move up a little bit on it and in 2008, if she runs, she certainly won't destroy the Democratic Party, she'll be a great candidate. And if she wins she'll be a great president.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, REPUBLICAN POLLSTER: As much as I'd love to see her run, Steve, because I think she's a tremendous fund-raising tool for the Republican Party, she probably won't because she's not someone who really takes chances if you look at her career.

She ran for Senate in a fairly safe state, not the one, not Arkansas, not Illinois where she was from. She probably could not have pulled that off in many states.

But here's why I think she won't run, Paul. Because people really love folks who aren't running for president. They always want them to run for president.

BEGALA: Is that why she came in first in the most admired woman? Always, always in my experience, the most admired man is the president, most admired woman is the first lady. Our first lady, Laura Bush, is a wonderful, wonderful woman. I admire her greatly. Why does Hillary Clinton come in first in the most admired woman?

CONWAY: I think people still feel very sorry for her. I think she invokes pity and sympathy.

BEGALA: Come on.

CARLSON: I think that's reasonable.

BEGALA: Let me show you something...

CONWAY: She wasn't popular until her husband treated her like a door mat and then she became popular and ran for Senate.

BEGALA: Let me show you something that actually right now may evoke hubris, but I think actually will lead to pity. Here's our president's job approval rating. Don't forget it was at one point, I think 111 percent. After September 11 that was actually Osama bin Laden's unfavorable but he was the beneficiary politically. Here's his approval rating today. As we close out the year 2002 61 percent, not bad. Still 6 points lower than Clinton at the height of the Lewinsky. Maybe Bush needs to get a girlfriend, I don't know. Where, Kellyanne, will he be one year from today?

CONWAY: I'll put him at 62 one year from today. But I do think it's going to fluctuate, go higher or lower depending on the ebbs and flows of the economy and also depending on what happens in Iraq and North Korea.

So I think a year from now most things will look the same. The Dow Jones will look the same, the approval rating will look the same. We'll look the same...


CARLSON: Just so we can torment you with it next year what is your prediction?

MCMAHON: I think he's going to continue to decline. Before September 11...

CONWAY: Decline?

MCMAHON: Before September 11, his approval ratings were in the low 50s. As soon as September 11 occurred, they shot up into the 80s or 100s or whatever they were. And now they're falling steadily down as people begin to focus on the economy. The economy isn't getting any better. I don't know if you saw the retail numbers, the first batch is in. Retail sales down 4 percent at Christmastime. This economy is not getting stronger. The president may have to go through two or three more economic teams. His numbers will be in the low 50s, high 40s.

CONWAY: We'll take the 50s, Tucker.

CARLSON: I want your prediction on Al Gore. So he loses the race, grows a beard, has a struggle with his Jenny Craig regiment in public, decides he's going to be a teacher, then a candidate, then not. Then he's hosting "Saturday Night Live."

Can it get weirder? What is he going to do with the rest of his life?

MCMAHON: I think, Tucker, he night become one of the rotating hosts of CROSSFIRE.


CARLSON: Now that's mean. Do you have any clue?

BEGALA: We'd love to have him here.

MCMAHON: I don't know. You've got to admit he was great on "Saturday Night Live." He was funny, he was loose. Maybe you can you can tell me (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I thought he was terrific and I think he might be a stand-up comic.

CONWAY: Unfortunately for him, his boss changed the job description of what it takes to be president. If it had not been for Bill Clinton wanting -- presuming that the president should be a little more jocular, the guy next door, goof ball at times, I think Al Gore would have had a chance...


BEGALA: I know it is the other side, you're a Republican and a terrific pollster and strategist. I want you to take off your partisan hat for a minute and as an objective analyst, analyze the Democratic field? Where are the rising stars for 2004? Who do you as a Republican fear the most taking on George W. Bush?

CONWAY: In 2004 very few people but I do think that one of Steve's clients, Howard Dean, has a good shot for a reason. I think lawyers are out, doctors are in. Doctors like Bill Frist and Howard Dean, medical doctors.

The thing about Howard Dean is he really ends up being all the things people said John Edwards was a year ago and was not. Telegenic, articulate, good ground organization in some of the states.

And like I said earlier, Paul, people like people who aren't running for president. They want them to be for -- the want them to be president. I also will give Hillary Clinton this credit: I think she -- I put her on my in list as sort of the emerging liberal voice and conscience in the United States Senate and someone like Ted Kennedy and Bob Bird are a little bit on the out list. So she's someone, of course, because of her name recognition, her Rolodex power, her fund- raising prowess, we as Republicans, I wouldn't say fear, but would -- we would rather see her go the way of the other Clinton, you know, into the sea of irrelevance.

CARLSON: Yes, onto the speaking circuit.

Steve, I think we all agree that there is likely to be a war in Iraq. If it happens and if it's successful, at that point do you predict the Democrats will pretend they thought about going behind it the whole time? Or will they be honest enough to admit that they...

MCMAHON: Tucker, I think it depends on the way it happens. The president, as you might remember, or maybe you've forgotten, back in August or September was going to go in alone regardless of what the rest of the world or the rest of his country or anybody else, his allies or anybody else thought. He's, I think, as a result of Democratic criticism, backed away from that -- seriously, Tucker. The Democrats came out and said, you need to go to the U.N., you need to go to the Security Council, you need to make your case to the American people, you need to get a congressional resolution and you need to get the support of your allies, and I'll commend the president for this -- he's actually changed course and done, I think, the right thing in beginning to build that coalition.

Whether or not he continues to build that coalition and does it the right way or whether he goes it alone and does it the wrong way will determine whether Democrats and I think the American public support this war.

BEGALA: We are almost out of time, but I want to ask you about the new face leading the Republicans in the Senate. Dr. Bill Frist. You said doctors are in. By the end of next year, will the bloom be off of Dr. Frist or will he emerge as the rival to Jeb Bush to succeed George W.?

CONWAY: There will be a very crowded field in 2008 for both parties, in my view. It will be the first fresh start, I think, for both parties in quite a while.

BEGALA: But Frist will be up or down?

CONWAY: He'll be up. He'll be up. He's the guy. But not for lack of trying. By those in the media and by his detractors for really just trying to dig out other speeches that he's had and to...

CARLSON: Well, we had bipartisan agreement that he's the guy.

CONWAY: And look out for Evan Bayh in 2008.


CARLSON: Thank you both very much. We appreciate it. Happy new year. Thanks.

Coming up after the CNN "News Alert," your humble hosts' fearless predicts for 2003. And then, the cloning lady. You've seen her on television. You may think she's eccentric, you don't know the half of it. We'll show you, but she could change history. She'll be with us. We'll be right back.


BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. We're coming to you live from the George Washington University here in downtown Washington, D.C. Tonight, as appropriate at the end of the year, we're looking forward to the new year. But for just a moment, let's take a look back at what my friend Tucker Carlson said on this broadcast exactly one year ago. There must have been some sort of freak alignment with stars that day. Watch.


CARLSON: When we go into Iraq, it will be popular and successful. Something else is going to happen in politics. All this talk about John Edwards who is going to be the Democratic nominee, it is going to blow up. By the end of 2002, it will be clear that John Kerry of Massachusetts, an old-fashioned liberal, hawkish on some defense issues, will be the front runner because Al Gore will have retired to teach at a community college somewhere in the American Hinchaland (ph), his first love.


BEGALA: Amazing, three out of four, you're right. You're batting .750, that's Hall of Fame. Very, very impressive. Very impressive. My hat is off to you.

CARLSON: What, divining that Al Gore was going to wind up at a community college? That was natural, but this year...

BEGALA: That was impressive. I have to say.

CARLSON: Well, thank you. Then pay extra attention to this prediction, which is Saddam Hussein will be overthrown and then he will win the Nobel Peace Prize.

BEGALA: OK. Here is my first. President Bush will continue his downward slide in the polls. He will be at or below the levels he was at on September 10 of 2001, that was 51 percent. A year from today, George W. Bush, 51 percent or less.

CARLSON: I think that's -- some of that is partly inevitable. I think he'll be helped, though, by the radical new energy plan, alternative energy plan he will unveil in the coming year to wean America from dependence of fossil fuels and from unstable foreign countries. He will beat the Democrats on that issue. It should be theirs; he'll take it from them. He is a genius politically.

BEGALA: Well, that's a word not often used, but he's very ably politically. I don't know if I would say genius, but -- you know he will -- he will lose on, though? President Bush will lose on his effort to make his tax cut permanent. Democratic deficit hawks in the Senate will float up an amendment that says you can have the tax cut if it doesn't drain money from the Social Security trust fund, forcing Republicans to choose from tax cuts, which they love, and Social Security, which they hate but they pretend to like, it will kill the Bush tax cut to be made permanent.

CARLSON: I'm not even sure I understand that scenario. But I will say I think that, in fact, social issues will be in the discussion next year at this time. You watch. Death penalty and abortion, we'll be talking about them again.

Just ahead, is she a genius, a wacko, both, worse? You decide. The one and only cloning lady steps into the CROSSFIRE next.


BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. Last Friday, Brigitte Boisselier stunned the world by claiming that a woman has given birth to the first ever cloned human being, a little girl they're calling Eve. Skeptics note that Dr. Boisselier's organization was founded by a man who says that extraterrestrials told him they made all life on Earth.

But, if she's right, Boisselier will have produced a scientific breakthrough of historic proportions.

She joins us from New York. Dr. Boisselier, thank you for taking the time to join us.

BRIGITTE BOISSELIER, CEO, CLONAID: Thank you for your invitation.

CARLSON: Oh, thank you.

You may know, doubtless, that a lot of people don't believe that this is true, that you've done this. They point out that your group has never cloned anything. It's never cloned a rabbit and now you're claiming to have cloned a human being, sort of like claiming to launch a missile without ever having made a paper airplane.

Is it true and do you understand why people don't believe you?

BOISSELIER: Well, they still have one week to doubt. After that they won't be able to doubt any longer. But what's the most important thing is they forgot that this is a private company. And the reason we didn't publish yet is that because we want to preserve what we've been developing in the company but also, in terms of facing the public, the scientists are not ready yet. They are watching very closely what is going on today with, you know all the development of the story and the FDA coming to some of our places, the police in South Korea investing some of our premises.

It's not that easy today to be scientists saying, Yes, we have been doing human cloning. Although, I mean, you know, when you produce a baby and you help some parents to have a child, I don't see what is monstrous about it. But that's the life we have today, it's not that easy.

BEGALA: Well, Dr. Boisselier, the critics are not simply laymen like myself or Tucker. They include some of the most eminent folks in the scientific community.

Let me play you a piece of sound tape from one of them. This is Dr. Arthur Caplan. I know you're a chemist yourself. Dr. Caplan is the director of the Center For Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, one of the premiere bioethicists in the country.

Let me show you what Dr. Caplan had to say about your alleged research.


DR. ARTHUR CAPLAN, DIR., CENTER FOR BIOETHICS, UNIV. OF PENNSYLVANIA: We have a technical term in ethics for groups like Clonaid. We call them wacky. My prediction is over the next couple of weeks they're going to string the story along, get the name of the cult out there, look for new members, draw more people in to give them money. I think their idea is basically to use this to push themselves forward and, I think, so far pretty effectively.


BEGALA: Your response to Dr. Caplan?

BOISSELIER: Well, I believe that Dr. Caplan is using that technique to push himself up. And that's probably why he wants everybody to do the same.

I have been saying for the last five years that I will do it. And I did it. And I said when it's done I will announce the word and I did it. Now you want proof, you will get that from an independent expert.

What can I say? I'm sorry. It is true that this is related to my belief. It's true that it's because Rael said 30 years ago that it's possible to do it, that we pushed that science, but we do believe this is a science to help humanity. And I'd like to compare my science that provide life, that provide a baby to some parents who have been dying to get one and to compare that with the science that is dealing some bomb and pushing it to war.

CARLSON: Wait, wait, wait...

BOISSELIER: I believe if we compare them both, I'm pretty well balanced.

CARLSON: Wait. Before we hear your foreign policy views, tell us this, though. If this is not a public relations gimmick, in an effort to push forward your organization and give it publicity, then why didn't you wait until this -- the existence of this child could be verified with the DNA test and the photograph. Why didn't you wait until then in order to announce it?

BOISSELIER: OK, well, this -- we have to go back to the last few years. You have to remember that for at least four years I have been very badly mistreated. People talking about Dr. Frankenstein and all this kind of thing. And they were saying, Well, you to tell -- will you tell us when the baby is born? And I always said, Yes, I will. And I always planned that the day after the birth I will do this announcement.

I thought that at this time I would have with me the parents, the scientists, the independent expert, everybody lined up with me and facing the world with that. This was not the case for very good reason. I mean, these people are looking and very closely the development because they don't want to get public yet. They might decide in a day, in a week, in a month to become public and I hope they will because I'm feeling sometimes a little bit lonely.

But this is the situation. So I said I would do it and I did it. You can't -- don't like it, that's your -- that's your problem. But I did what I wanted to do. Now you can take it as a PR relation...

BEGALA: I'm sorry to interrupt. But let me press that point. I'm sorry, but I -- it seems to me that you're not making very much sense.

The question Tucker had asked was, Why didn't you have, as we say in America, all your ducks in a row? I mean, I don't think you can go public and claim a remarkable scientific breakthrough with enormous ethical complications and ramifications and then plead privacy on the part of some of the people who you say could verify it? I mean, I think it frankly doesn't hold water.

BOISSELIER: Well, imagine one moment that these people were with me last Friday. Do you think today their life will be the same? Do you think they could still have this baby at home and be quiet with the baby? I'm not sure.

They really thought about it for a month or two because before it was decided they will be next to me. And then they changed their mind. Now, should I wait until they are ready to go public? Or should I -- what was the point in waiting? I said I would do it the moment the baby is born.

CARLSON: Well, I suppose the point in waiting, Dr. Boisselier, to prove that it's actually true and not just a stunt or a gimmick.

I want to show you a poll that was recently taken earlier this year by "USA Today" and it asked Americans what they thought of human cloning.

Here are the results.

Is it morally acceptable to clone a human being? Seven percent say yes. Is it morally wrong? Ninety percent say it is morally wrong to do what you claim to have done. Now, I wonder why people feel that way. Why do you think the vast majority of people the world over cringe at the idea of human cloning?

BOISSELIER: Well, this is very simple. The images that have been given about human cloning are images of fading copies or armies of clones or defects of animals. That's all we have shown the public.

It is clear that it has nothing to do with human cloning. Human cloning is about a baby. We are producing a baby to parents.

And, you know, this is -- I've been trying to change this image for the last couple of years. Slowly it is changing. I can tell that when walking in the street people are stopping me and congratulating me and saying this is good what you did. You know, and I have parents who would like to have a child that are calling me.

So I know this is -- there is a reaction that is more positive than the one on this show here. But I understand the public. If they are told that this baby will be a monster or that this baby will have a bad life because Dolly the sheep has some arthritis. They forget to say Dolly is six years old and the sheep that gave the cell to Dolly died at the age of 3. So, the real -- the fact is that Dolly has doubled the life -- her lifetime.

This is not about the press or the media has been telling the world. When we talk about defects in cow, for example, we forget to say that they have exactly the same defect when they do in vitro fertilization of cow. So it's not a problem related to cloning, but public opinion is -- has been droned by all these images that are wrong. It's, you know, the debate about cloning has never been rational. The rational aspect of it is to say we're dealing with a baby that indeed carries the same genes that the mother or the father, but she will be a completely different individual.

BEGALA: Of course, I'm sorry to interrupt, Dr. Boisselier, I'm sorry to interrupt, but that is the key. It carries the genes of the mother or the father. It's an exact genetic duplicate. Now, good old-fashioned sexual reproduction mixes up the gene pool, provides more genetic diversity, frankly, it's a hell of a lot more fun. What's wrong with old-fashioned reproduction?

BOISSELIER: Well, there is nothing wrong with it. I'm pretty sure that it will never stop. But why should we -- because there is a natural reproduction that some people cannot get, why should we prevent those people to have a child? And there is this technique and it should be available if it's a viable one. I demonstrated that it is a viable one. There is a baby that is born through this technique. There will be four more. One is due next week.

And I -- you know, I've been working and dealing and talking and spending time with the parents who would like to have a child. I know their hope, and this hope has been denied because there is -- this is not natural. Remember, this was exactly what was said about (UNINTELLIGIBLE).


CARLSON: I'm going to have to interrupt you because we're a little short on time, but I think the question our viewers want to know is what do the aliens think of all this? Your group claims -- you claim -- the founder of our group in February of 1973, I think, met with space aliens and then founded your group, the Raelians. Clearly the aliens must know that this child has been born, if in fact, she has been born. Have they told you what they think? Have they contacted you? What is the alien view on cloning?

BOISSELIER: Well, I don't have any communication with them and I don't care, to tell you the truth. Today -- you know, the basis of our religion is to say that we don't believe in chance like evolution, we don't believe in the God that nobody ever saw, we believe that we have been created by scientists that created us through their own image. So it means that we are not depending on -- on chance or an almighty God. We're responsible of our life, responsible of our humanity and we cannot count on anybody else.

This is why I've been going ahead with science, because I don't want science to be banned by old philosophy that is saying human dignity is bothered because of cloning. How can a baby, a lovely baby be a problem for humanity?

CARLSON: OK. Well, Dr. Boisselier, unfortunately, we're going to have to stop there because we're completely out of time. We look forward to the evidence, the proof, finding out if what you say is true.

BOISSELIER: You will have it.

CARLSON: And I hope you'll come back on CROSSFIRE to tell us. Thanks very much.

BOISSELIER: Thank you.

BEGALA: Thank you.

CARLSON: Next, a lot of our viewers are firing back nominees for people they'd like to see cloned. It's very scary, as you can imagine. Stay with us.


BEGALA: Welcome back. Time now for "Fireback." Believe it or not, you already fired back to us about our interview with Dr. Boisselier, the cloning lady. "You are what you eat. The French Dr. Boisselier who claimed she has cloned a human has obviously been eating too much fruitcake." So says Jim McPhalon of Reseda, California. Thank you, Jim.

CARLSON: Hard to disagree with that. Pretty nice, though.

BEGALA: She was a very pleasant lady.

CARLSON: For a member of a UFO cult. BEGALA: I'm believing her, not at all.

CARLSON: OK, next up. Evan Marks from St. Mary's Pennsylvania, writes: "Can the French doctor lady clone the CROSSFIRE hosts? You can't have too much of a good thing." Evan, be careful what you wish for is all I would say.

Oh, there!


BEGALA: That's Mary Matalin's idea of heaven.

Douglas O'Connor of Hamilton, Ontario writes: "Paul, I am really enjoying your book on G.W. Bush and his economic fiasco, 'It's Still the Economy, Stupid,'" -- available in book stores across the country -- "I admire you" -- and -- "I admire you for speaking out against this 'devious lightweight' and his mismanagement of the economy. Keep up the good work, Paul, and inform the public with your honest criticisms of this less than honest leader." Wow, Douglas, I'm inspired. Thank you. Thanks to everybody who bought the book this year.

CARLSON: Do you a 1-800 number you'd like to share?

BEGALA: I'm going to have to get one.


BEGALA: There we go.

CARLSON: Next up is Marlon Micou of Waterloo, Iowa. "Hey, Tucker, is your constant support for Al Sharpton due to an affinity for underdogs or just bad hair styles?"

BEGALA: Oh! I think Sharpton has a great 'do.

CARLSON: I think he does, too, not that I'm one to talk. It's both those things, and also he's the last honest Democrat. He says what Democrats believe, he says it loud, he says it proud, amen. Go Al Sharpton!

BEGALA: He does wear his hair in the style of James Brown, the godfather of soul, whom I love.

CARLSON: Yes, he does.


CARLSON: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, I'm Robert McCafferty (ph). I'm from Washington, originally from Boston. And my question is this, why this double standard? Why invade Iraq, sable rattling in North Korea and could the difference be oil? CARLSON: Well, the difference could be oil. The difference may also be they're different countries and you don't apply an absolute standard to all countries around the world. And the difference may also be that North Korea may have nuclear weapons. They claim to, so, you know, the stakes are much higher. You don't just roll into a country with nuclear weapons.

BEGALA: Well, but they do have an obligation to explain the differences. They haven't yet. They've been incoherent and incompetent. One Bush spokesman says North Korea hasn't invaded its neighbors. Oh? Tell that to the 50,000 Americans who died the last time North Korea invaded its neighbor.

Yes, ma'am.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, my name is Natalie Iloa (ph) and I'm from Miami, Florida. And my question is, what changes do Democrats need to make in their campaign strategy to be successful in the 2004 elections?

CARLSON: Democrats -- I'm actually writing a story on this right now. The Democrats will tell you, well, they need a better message machine, they need to get out what they really believe. It seems to me they have to believe something first. They have to have a message. Where is the Democratic economic plan? Where is Democratic foreign policy? When they come up with workable ideas that people like, they'll win. They haven't yet.

BEGALA: I hate to say, I agree with Tucker. It is the content, it's the message. Democrats need to toughen up. OK? If you can't beat George W. Bush, who inherited peace and prosperity and has given us neither, and by the way, we thought he'd be good at inheriting things if nothing else, then we ought to be ashamed of ourselves. We ought to be going after him hard and fair on issues with ideas. And Tucker makes a good point. Democrats should...

CARLSON: They don't have any ideas except for Al Sharpton.


BEGALA: From the left, I'm Paul Begala. Good night for CROSSFIRE.

CARLSON: From the right, I'm Tucker Carlson. Join us again next time, next year, in fact, for yet more CROSSFIRE. Be back tomorrow night, but after that, have a wonderful new year. "CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT" begins immediately after a CNN "News Alert."


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