Polls Show Bush's Approval Rating Up, Percent Who Will Vote For Him Again, Down; Interview With David Frum; Mayor Bloomberg Vetoes Ban on Cell Phones at Public Performances
Aired January 17, 2003 - 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: there's a lack of money.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Frankly, I believe we should have cut across the board (ph).
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ANNOUNCER: But there's no lack of controversy.
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SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Misguided budged policies, the dismantling of affirmative action policies...
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ANNOUNCER: And did anyone mention a possible war?
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ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: And obviously the discovery of 12 chemical warheads is proof that he has not disarmed.
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ANNOUNCER: Tonight we're inspecting for the week's political winners and losers.
Plus the man who wrote the line...
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GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... axis of evil.
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ANNOUNCER: And New York City tries to tell mobile phone users shut the cell up.
Tonight on CROSSFIRE.
Live from the George Washington University: James Carville and Robert Novak.
JAMES CARVILLE, CO-HOST: Welcome to CROSSFIRE tonight. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) week's political winners and losers. Although with President Bush's crowd in the White House, you can probably guess where poor people and minority college students ended up. Also, the speechwriter who came up with the great line and now he's written a controversial book. But first, our very own controversial lines, the best political briefing in television, our CROSSFIRE "Political Alert."
Everyone's talking about Iraq. We're told President Bush finds it, "troubling and serious" and that U.N. weapons inspectors discovered 12 empty chemical warheads in Iraq on Thursday. Saddam Hussein gave a speech accusing the United Nations of seizing on the discovery as a pretext to launch a U.S.-led war on Iraq and warning that any attackers would, in his words, "commit suicide at the walls of Baghdad."
Secretary of State Colin Powell told a group of journalists that by the end of this month the U.S. will have a pervasive case that Iraq is not cooperating with weapons inspections. But Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia (UNINTELLIGIBLE) President Bush for giving the U.S. the image of a belligerent bully. Byrd says that that's because the Bush administration is ready to pick on a weak state like Iraq, but (UNINTELLIGIBLE) North Korea.
ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST: You know, James, only Bob Byrd, the old Ku Klux Klanner from West Virginia, could turn me into a hawk on Iraq. But I really do hope that the president comes up with a little better evidence than these empty canons.
CARVILLE: I would like to point out that Bob Byrd was a member of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1930s.
NOVAK: And he still believes in it.
Former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge was approved today by the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee for confirmation as secretary of homeland security. No Democrat voted against him. How could that be when the Democrats are intent on attacking the president's record on homeland security?
It amounts to saying Tom Ridge is a good guy but his policies are terrible. The top Democrat on the committee, Senator Joe Lieberman, claimed that America is as vulnerable today as it was on September 11, 2001. Governor Ridge strongly denied Senator Lieberman's claims, and then Lieberman praised Ridge and voted for him. That's politics in Washington, folks.
CARVILLE: Well you know this homeland security thing was an idea bred by a Clinton commission championed by Senator Lieberman who introduced it, voted out of committee nine to eight on a straight party line by all the Democrats. So they ought to be doing this because of the Democratic initiative and the Democratic idea. And I salute the Congress for having this, and I hope Governor Ridge does a good job.
NOVAK: Maybe that's why...
NOVAK: Maybe that's why I'm suspicious.
James, there's a developing story out in Modesto, California. Kim Peterson, a spokeswoman for the family of missing pregnant woman Laci Peterson is holding a press conference.
(BREAKING NEWS 19:03)
KIM PETERSEN, FAMILY SPOKESWOMAN: The family knows that the police are doing their job and understand that they can't tell them everything, and that's fine with them. They don't want to do anything that can hurt their chances of finding Laci. And they won't give up until they do so.
Her family cares a lot about Scott's family and what they're going through. They have become very close to them throughout this nightmare. They can't begin to express how thankful they are to everyone who has been supporting them through this horrific ordeal. Their family, friends, volunteers, the Modesto community, the police department, as well as people around the world who have sent them cards and e-mails as well as their prayers.
You'll never know just how much your support is helping them. They ask that all of you continue to search for Laci, and they'd like to put out an appeal to farmers and those who live in rural areas to continue to search their fields, barns, et cetera, as well as to hunters and fishermen and also realtors who may be showing empty homes. We ask that you would search all of those areas looking for Laci.
We would ask that you respect the family's privacy and allow them some quiet time together as a family. Laci's family will not be conducting any interviews until possibly the end of next week, unless there's a major break in the case prior to that time. We ask that all of those...
NOVAK: If there are any further developments, we'll be back with this story in Modesto, California -- James.
CARVILLE: All right. One of the things Americans revere in our leaders is the ability to do the right thing when times get tough. To stand up to adversity. Well, in this time of war and economic uncertainty, President Bush has shown just what kind of moral fortitude he has. He's standing up to poor people.
"The New York Times" reports that the Bush administration is giving managed care organizations permission to limit emergency-run medical services to Medicaid patients. This reverses a Clinton era regulation that says hospitals had to treat Medicare patients in a situation "a prudent lay person would regard as an emergency." Now some 20 million poor people could find themselves turned away from the emergency door.
The administration calls this move, "to facilitate more appropriate use of preventive and primary care." Yes, that's right. Let's call it what it really is, a sin, a moral sin. Somebody is going to have to face their maker for this.
NOVAK: That's more anti-Bush than...
CARVILLE: You're right, it is.
NOVAK: Wait a minute. Do you mind if I finish my damn sentence? That's more anti-Bush demagoguery, which I'm getting sick of and so is the rest of the country.
CARVILLE: You're going to hear a lot more of it tonight.
NOVAK: Congress was supposed to be in recess next week, with many members ready for overseas junkets. So Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist did not make friends today when he ordered the Senate back into session Tuesday to continue work on appropriations left over from last year. Why did he do it? Because Democrats are slow walking this new session of Congress, trying to prevent Republicans controlling both Houses of Congress and the presidency from getting much done.
That explains the delay in organization of committees and now the lugubrious pace of considering appropriations. However, Bill Frist is showing he's wise to the game of stall ball.
CARVILLE: Well I'll tell you one thing. These Republicans are in a hurry, and the deficit has already gone to $350 billion a year. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) it will go to $500 billion a year. Who cares? Charge it to the next generation.
NOVAK: It's smaller than the first year of the Clinton administration.
CARVILLE: That's right. The first year of the Clinton administration he inherited a $5.6 trillion surplus. You people are -- what you're doing is entirely wrong. Rich old people are passing the general on to -- bill on to young people, and that's wrong.
NOVAK: That's class warfare.
CARVILLE: No it's generational warfare.
NOVAK: That's all you know is class warfare.
CARVILLE: It's my generational warfare. It's my generation fighting young people, and I'm with these young people, who you are trying to tag the bill with.
Every now and then a man does something that shows he's just as smart as we are to have to do a CROSSFIRE NEWS ALERT on it. Today's genius is Paul Krugman, who had the brains to document in today's "New York Times" the sheer hypocrisy of the Bush administration's position on the deficit inflicted on this country. And basically proving it shows that the president's bean counters have track records of saying you can't cut taxes and increase spending and pay off most of the government's debt all at the same time.
Then he shows how they changed they're tune and are now telling us it's good to run up the budget deficit as far as the eye can see. Krugman sums it up this way, and I quote, "As a drunk it's to alcohol what the Bush administration is to deficits."
NOVAK: James, Paul Krugman is a disgrace to the economics profession. The only question I have for you, is he on your payroll? Is he on your payroll?
CARVILLE: Let me tell you something. He's won the most prestigious award a (UNINTELLIGIBLE). He is on the faculty of Princeton University, he was on the faculty of MIT. He was on the faculty on Stanford. He is probably the brightest economist in the country today.
NOVAK: He's a left wing (UNINTELLIGIBLE). And it's a shame he's on the editorial pages of "The New York Times."
Former Democratic Senator Carol Mosley-Braun says she will not, not try to get back her Senate seat in Illinois next year. Instead, she's thinking of running for president. That's a double dose of bad news for Republicans.
First, Senator Mosley-Braun, who's six years in the Senate was tainted by scandal, would be the weakest Democratic challenger against Republican Senator Peter Fitzgerald, who defeated her in 1998. Second, as an African-American, her presidential candidacy would hurt the Reverend Al Sharpton, who is being counted on by Republicans to mess up Democratic southern primaries. I wonder who talked Carol into this strange move and what's in it for her.
CARVILLE: I wish I could take credit for it. But I can't.
Today, the "Washington Reporter" has a report on something it calls "a perfect melt of politics, television and celebrity." Something it calls "one of the best entertainment values in town." This is usually where we put pictures of what we're talking about. But in this case, you're looking at it.
All this praise is for CROSSFIRE, as done live five nights a week right here at the George Washington University. The paper also notes while there has been no (UNINTELLIGIBLE) commentary during the show, some of the funny exchanges take place off camera during the commercial breaks. In this case, you can believe what you read in the papers.
We want you to keep watching, of course. But we really want you to come here in our live audience. And I want to invite all of our viewers to the biggest nightly event in Washington history.
In Washington history. That's it. It's like that. In Washington history.
NOVAK: There's just nothing like it in Washington.
CARVILLE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Washington history. I think there have been some pretty big nights in Washington history that haven't been CROSSFIRE nights.
NOVAK: Coming up: the hostage crisis the liberal media managed to miss this week. Oh it was only the United States Senate held hostage.
Later, the author of an insider's account of the Bush administration. But just how much of an insider was he? And then hold the phone. You won't believe who just told big brother to back off.
CARVILLE: Welcome back. The Bush administration can really be proud of itself this week. The president socked it to poor people, minority college students, and the victims of incompetent doctors, while at the same time serving notice the budget deficit is out of control and who knows how high the numbers will go. What a great week. But let's pick out some specific winners and losers.
Here are former Clinton White House Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers and former New York Congresswoman, Republican turned strategist, Susan Molinari.
NOVAK: Dee Dee, the Democrats were dancing around town drinking champagne, smiling, because there was a poll that showed the president was all the way down to 50 something percent. Today, I've got bad news for you. The Gallup poll -- we'll put it up there -- "How is Bush handling his job as president?" Approve: 61 percent, disapprove: 34 percent. He's still popular, isn't he?
DEE DEE MYERS, FMR. WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: You know he gets a good approval rating. He has ever since 9/11. Before 9/11 it was a different story.
But the most interesting thing in the last series of polls was the number of people who said that they were certainly going to vote for President Bush again in 2004. And that number was as low as 39 percent, which is very interesting. And yes, that heartens Democrats. There's no question about it.
And as we see, there are already six getting ready to challenge him. And as James pointed out, they seem to be -- the administration seems to be giving Democrats a lot of fodder these days.
SUSAN MOLINARI, FMR. U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: Except I've seen in every poll that I've seen, where there's a match up against the Democrats who have declared their intentions to run for president versus President Bush, we're kicking their...
CARVILLE: But he can't get over 50.
NOVAK: No, that's not true. He gets way over 50 on a head to head. You give them the real...
MYERS: Well that's true. But these Democrats haven't had a chance to introduce themselves to the country yet. You all know how it works.
MOLINARI: No it only worked with Howard Dean. I think that's the one that gets a pass on that.
CARVILLE: Congresswoman, let me -- because I think this president is doing an awful job, but let me show you something that was written by Ron Brownstein in the "Los Angeles Times" and I want to get your reaction to it.
"Old Question: What did you do during the war, Daddy? New Answer: I pocketed a large tax cut, honey. Pause. And then I passed the bill for the war on to you. That is essentially what this generational transaction established by the sweeping tax cut President Bush proposed last week."
Congresswoman, why in the middle of a war am I -- oh, I'm sorry. "The proposal commits Bush to a goal unprecedented in U.S. history: cutting taxes in war time. Forget the guns and butter; Bush is now offering bombs and caviar." Why are my children paying for my bombs and caviar?
CARVILLE: Why are we at war with the young generation?
MOLINARI: Because, first of all, I find this so ironic, because up until 1994, when the Republicans took over the House of Representatives, it was the first time in a generation where people even talked about balancing a budget. Now the Democrats have the religion (ph) on balancing a budget.
CARVILLE: Congresswoman Molinari, the Clinton 1993 budget was the most dramatic budget cutting -- was the most dramatic thing in... NOVAK: Now budget cutting.
CARVILLE: Why are we at war with these kids out there? I'm on these kids' side. I'm not on rich people's side.
MOLINARI: Well then, you know what? Maybe you should have talked to President Clinton a little more carefully during the time he was president and told him that he shouldn't have been basically starving the United States Army to a point now where we have to go into deficits to prepare this country and its military.
CARVILLE: It was a Republican Congress in there. The Clinton long-term budgets were bigger than that. Don't blame President Clinton for your fiscal irresponsibility.
MOLINARI: The fact is...
CARVILLE: What you're doing is you're giving tax cuts...
MOLINARI: We're giving you a tax cut. And if you want to take it to save for your children, isn't that the American way, instead of the government saying we're going to take care of your kids for you?
MYERS: You always talk about we trust the people. You trust the government. We trust the people. You trust the rich people.
You want to give all the money back to people who already have plenty of it. And then you say class warfare.
NOVAK: I'm the only person here who is interested in the news instead of all this screaming and yelling.
MYERS: We think this is news.
NOVAK: It's news. There's something that's been happening -- happened in the last nine weeks that just wasn't reported. I have been around a long time. I have never seen anything like it, where the Democrats refuse to let the Republicans take over control of the committees.
I want to put up on the screen what Rick Santorum, a member of the leadership of the Republican Party in the Senate said. He said, "They have reached new levels of obstruction. They've been balking something that's never been balked in the history of the Senate, and that is appointing people to their committees." That's inexcusable. MYERS: First of all, it seems like the Republicans have taken perfect control of the Senate to me. And second of all, which party was it that shut down the entire Congress -- which party was it First it was over some budget-related (UNINTELLIGIBLE). But then it was over the then speaker of the House not getting the seat he wanted on Air Force One.
MOLINARI: No that is not true.
MYERS: Yes it is true.
NOVAK: Can we possibly...
NOVAK: Wait a minute. James, control yourself.
MYERS: I agree it's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard.
MOLINARI: That is not what happened. And what happens now is (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the Democrats in the Senate -- do you know the Democrats in the Senate this January were calling hearings when the will of the people put the Republicans in charge?
NOVAK: Let her talk.
CARVILLE: I just want to ask her a question. How can you sit here and look at the American public, when you voted to shut the government down twice to stop paying people in the middle of Christmas and accuse the Democrats of being obstructionists for holding up the city for two days. I mean, it's so brazen it's beyond comprehension, Congresswoman.
MOLINARI: Because -- I was there. It had nothing to do with the fact that Newt Gingrich didn't get a seat on Air Force One. That trivializes what was a very important national debate between the two political parties.
NOVAK: Why are we debating the shutdown of the government eight years ago? It's ridiculous. Let's move on.
Dee Dee, we had a news event. Senator Joe Lieberman came out, announced his candidacy for president. And "The Washington Post," which is a great newspaper -- don't you think it's a great newspaper?
MOLINARI: I read "The New York Times," but, yes, I do think "The Washington Post" is a great newspaper.
NOVAK: They run my column. And here's a comment on him. He is leading the polls, the Democratic polls now. And "The Washington Post" said "Many of his fans were surprised to see him during the heat of the campaign appear to modify past positions on tort reform, school vouchers, the entertainment industry, privatization of Social Security and affirmative action -- issues on which he once struck a course that was at variance with that of his party's liberal wing."
So I have this question for you: Is Joe Lieberman a hypocrite, or is the real Joe Lieberman a prisoner in a sanitarium in Upstate New York?
MYERS: Oh, come on. You know it's a long tradition in American politics that the guy running for vice president lets the guy running for president drive the train. That was certainly true, and Senator Lieberman was Al Gore's running mate. Now he's his own man. And you know what, it's up to him to establish his positions...
NOVAK: Is he going to back to -- is he going to be the old Joe or the new Joe?
MYERS: You know what? Ask Joe Lieberman. I am not his press secretary.
NOVAK: Well what do you think he ought to do?
MYERS: I think he ought to speak his mind, tell the American people what he believes.
NOVAK: Which way should he go?
MYERS: To tell the American people what he thinks. And I think he's perfectly capable of doing that, Bob. And I think he would be a very good candidate.
CARVILLE: I would point out that this editorial board of "The Washington Post," which consistently supported Ken Starr, who (ph) let "The Washington Post" off the hook, doesn't care about anything but giving cocktail parties. This crowd doesn't care about anything other than getting invitations to cocktail parties and trying to act like they're in the in crowd. They've got about that much courage in them, this whole outfit.
NOVAK: I think it's a great newspaper.
CARVILLE: It's a fine newspaper.
CARVILLE: I don't have anything against the newspaper. What they have is a mealy mouth editorial page that all it wants to do is please rich people. That's its whole mission in life.
Congresswoman Molinari, I want to put out something -- no, it's generational warfare. I'm taking up for young people. I'm taking up for young people who want a chance in this world.
I want to show you about young people. Cost per student and affirmative action. D.C. public schools: $6,419; Montgomery County: $9,302. Where President Bush went, Andover boarding tuition: $28,500 a year that gets spent on them. Tell me...
(CROSSTALK) NOVAK: Did the government spend that?
CARVILLE: Tell me what merit got George W. Bush into Yale? Affirmative action -- he says we've got to do everything merit based. What merit got him into Yale?
MOLINARI: There was a point that he, in fact, had decent grades.
CARVILLE: He got into Yale.
NOVAK: Can I explain.
MOLINARI: Was he on the low rung of people who got into Yale? No, absolutely not.
CARVILLE: Did he take a test?
NOVAK: Wait a minute. Can I explain what's going on here. Can I explain?
NOVAK: What's going on right now is that there is...
MOLINARI: George Bush (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the majority of people who went to Yale and got accepted.
MYERS: I don't think that's true.
NOVAK: Can I just explain what's going on? We are having a serious debate in this country over quotas. And the president of United States is against quotas. And so Paul Begala and James Carville and these vicious people who make up this Bush-bashing clique, they say, what we've got to do is bring up how did George Bush get into Yale? That is so ridiculous.
MYERS: But you know what's ridiculous? You using the word "quota" in conjunction with the University of Michigan and Michigan's policy. It is not a quota. Explain to me how it is a quota.
NOVAK: Because they want to get so many blacks in.
MYERS: They don't have a numerical target or a numerical goal. Explain to me why it's a quota. It's a very cynical...
CARVILLE: When Bush got into Yale he couldn't pass gas. OK? And now he wants these schools to try to get some diversity. They're sending $6,400 a kid in D.C. And I don't understand why -- what is it about black people going to college that so offends these guys?
MOLINARI: You know what offends them is to just make the initial assumption that black people going to college need help to get into college. That is offensive.
CARVILLE: You know what, a lot of them do because they're funded by the property tax. And you know good and well that the average money that they spend on poor kids in school -- you're damn right.
MYERS: Let's go to -- here's Secretary Colin Powell on this issue. "Some in our party miss no opportunity to roundly and loudly condemn affirmative action that helps a few thousand black kids get an education. But hardly a whimper is heard from them over affirmative action for lobbyists..."
NOVAK: This was at the convention?
MYERS: ... "preferences and special interest at the Republican National Convention in 2000 (ph)." Thank you.
MOLINARI: And Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, who (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Stanford University is against quotas. But, in fact, implemented a policy to increase African-Americans...
MYERS: The majority of African-Americans, including Republicans, are for affirmative action.
NOVAK: We had another presidential candidate raise her head this week. I can keep a straight face on this. Carol Mosley-Braun, the scandal-tainted senator from Illinois is going to run for president. And so they asked Donna Brazile, who was the Gore campaign manager, also an African-American, a friend of Carol, and they asked, what do you think of her with all these weaknesses?
And this was the endorsement. "Every candidate starts out with strengths and weaknesses. Her flaws should not rule her out." I like that.
MYERS: That was very diplomatic. If Carol Mosley-Braun wants to get into the race, go for it. It's a short campaign.
NOVAK: Isn't that what I said before? This is a plot by the Democratic secret government that they're trying to hurt Al Sharpton so Al Sharpton won't take votes in the southern primary. Isn't that right?
CARVILLE: They're losing...
NOVAK: Let her answer.
(CROSSTALK) CARVILLE: ... about generational warfare. And losing the argument (UNINTELLIGIBLE) by George Bush's preferential treatment getting into Yale. But (UNINTELLIGIBLE) about Carol Mosley-Braun.
MYERS: It's too silly to answer. Democrats -- first of all, you know the Democrats -- you always accuse us of not being able to organize a one-car funeral. And now you're saying there's a secret plot to -- come on.
NOVAK: We're out of time. You got more time than anybody, Carville. Thank you very much. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
The "axis of evil" is one of the most memorable lines so far from the Bush administration. In a minute, we'll ask the man who helped write it. Later, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg ends up on the side of personal freedom. Would you believe it?
CARVILLE: One of the hottest books in the country right now is called "The Right Man: The Surprise Presidency of George W. Bush." It's number 27 on amazon.com's best seller list to author David Frum, presidential speechwriter, giving credit for the line describing Iraq, Iran and North Korea as the "axis of evil." Despite his title, reviewers have noted the book is only generally complimentary.
Frum calls the president an "impatient and quick to anger, sometimes glib, often uncurious. And, as a result, ill informed." He all says the Bush White House has a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of really high powered brains. Let's pick his brain for a while. Please welcome to the CROSSFIRE David Frum.
NOVAK: David, I would like to quote from earlier in your book, page four. We're going to put it up on the screen. Talking about how you got the job (UNINTELLIGIBLE) speaker, you said, "I had no connection to the Bush campaign or the Bush family. I had no experience in government and little of political campaigns. I had never written a speech for anyone other than myself. And I had been only a moderately enthusiastic supporter of George W. Bush."
"I was not excited about Bush. No, it was worse than that. I strongly doubted he was the right man for the job."
Now, on top of that, you are a Canadian citizen. The summer of the election year of 2000 you were writing for newspapers. What you didn't have in this book David, you never tell how in the world did you get there in the White House?
DAVID FRUM, AUTHOR, "THE RIGHT MAN": You know, it was one of these serendipitous things. They invited me. I don't know all their thinking. I think they thought I could do a job for them. I tried to do my best. That's how I got there.
NOVAK: Well, you know, do you think perhaps that you are not on the top of their hit parade? We just had a quote from Ari Fleischer. You know Ari Fleischer. He said -- and we'll put that up too. He said -- they asked you about the book, "The Right Man." He said, "I will add it to the list of books I don't have time to read."
FRUM: Well Bob, I know you read it because modesty has prevented you from mentioning you're rather a major character in the book.
NOVAK: We'll talk about that later. What do you think about that reaction from the White House, though?
FRUM: I think that they are not a book reviewing service. It's not their job to provide endorsements or disendorsements.
CARVILLE: Let me ask you something, David. If they're not a book reviewing service, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) sometimes I've written books and people (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Has anybody from the White House hosted a book party for you?
FRUM: Not in this frugal White House. No, they're not going to do that.
CARVILLE: What have people sort of -- because I have heard some rather -- fine, if you want to be uncomplimentary to Bush, I'm not going to get in your way. But I have heard some uncomplimentary things about your book from Republicans. Have you heard the same thing?
FRUM: Opinions are mixed. This is a book, though -- it's a candid book. And people who don't like candor, people who don't want to hear it the way it is, they may object to that. But it's a generally respectful book and it's a supportive book by somebody who does believe that, in the end, George Bush did prove to be the right man.
CARVILLE: Bob, go ahead.
NOVAK: Mr. Frum, with all due respect, I don't think your book would be getting much attention if it weren't for one incident. And that was that you identified yourself as the principal author of the "axis of evil" line in his State of the Union speech last year, where he identified Iraq, Iran and North Korea as the axis of evil. You originally said the axis of hatred and it was changed to axis of evil.
And your wife, you say, e-mailed it to a few friends. I heard it was to several friends. We're not going to quibble on that. But isn't that -- did you -- was this all taking this job and exposing yourself as the writer of the president's lines? Was that an effort to publicize this book?
FRUM: No. When I went to the White House, I actually had a lot of doubts that this would be a successful administration. And I was not going to write about it if it were not a successful administration because I would not have been able to bear it. I was very emotionally worried about the state of the Republican Party in the 1990s. That's the thing that motivated me to take the job.
I don't know why they asked me. That's why I took it. And had it not worked, it would have been painful to me.
But you're absolutely right. My wife did write an e-mail to some friends. It wasn't (UNINTELLIGIBLE). And a number of journalists who object to the president's strong foreign policy made a very big deal of it. You were one of them, as a matter of fact. And so, in a way, I may owe it all to you.
NOVAK: And a serious thing, more important than whether you get a best selling book, I hope you get a best seller like everybody I know to have best selling books. But do you kind have trouble sleeping at night wondering whether your use of this rhetoric of linking North Korea with Iraq, which there really isn't any such linkage, has provoked a nuclear crisis in northeast Asia? That the North Korean government would have never abandoned its nuclear commitments if you hadn't put that line in the State of the Union speech?
FRUM: Well Bob, you began setting it up by saying I deserve no credit at all. And now you're giving me way too much. Those words are the president's words. Speechwriters, as you know, make suggestions, just like economic advisers, just like military advisers. And when presidents read through the suggestions, decide whether they like them or not and decide what they do.
The moment a president accepts a suggestion, those words become his words, not the writers. And the writer can offer some insight and some background, but the words are the president's. And by the way, the president's policy and the president's words are exactly correct.
And I would have thought that you, as such a strong Republican, would be the first to support them. Apparently not.
NOVAK: Well I -- let me just -- you libel me in the book. We can get into that later.
FRUM: All true, Bob.
NOVAK: But the fact is I have never been a strong Republican. I'm a strong conservative. Is that a distinction? Yes.
CARVILLE: David, how long did you work at the White House?
FRUM: Thirteen months.
CARVILLE: It's been said -- and I got to tell you, it strikes me with some validity to it, so convince me I'm wrong. But you worked there for 13 months. This man didn't know you that well. They gave you a job as a speechwriter, a pretty prestigious position.
And then you come out and you write a book and you say all the stuff that went on. You make yourself look good, and you make a bunch of money. And somebody sits there and says, you know, if I worked for the president of the United States, it would be a high honor, and I wouldn't tell anybody a damn thing about anything I wrote for him or anything like that. I mean, what do you tell -- convince me that these people are wrong.
FRUM: So is Mary who wrote your book?
CARVILLE: No Mary wrote a book about a campaign. She did not serve in the government, and it was anything but a kiss and tell book.
FRUM: Well so is this. Anything that I heard that was a confidence is respected. The president's decision-making freedom is respected. I don't give -- I don't tip his hands on anything that is a position that is not -- let me finish -- that has not been made. It is a book that is a strongly supportive book, but it is a candid book.
And as to making myself look good, in fact, I think one of the things that the book gets its humor about, one of the things where it's different from most White House memoirs, is I have no interest in puffing myself up and making myself look more important. I tell, in fact, the truth about what it's like to be a midlevel aide at the White House. It's a funny story; it's not a self-aggrandizing one.
CARVILLE: But again, a lot of people I think would have -- and this is a criticism -- frankly, you can write a book about Bush all you want to. I mean, I just don't think he's enough of a guy to have a book written about him. But, at any rate, the idea here is -- and I know it happened during the Clinton administration, too. It happened a lot during the Reagan administration.
People go to work for the government. You work for a man, he's the president. Tell us where you think the kind -- where do you draw the line between what you wouldn't do and what you wouldn't do? And how do you -- if you dare use the word -- profit off of your 13 months that you spent there?
FRUM: Well, the people who came out of the Clinton administration and wrote books about President Clinton, like Robert Reich and George Stephanopoulos, all came out and wrote books about how much they hated him.
CARVILLE: George Stephanopoulos did not write a book about how much he hated him.
FRUM: And this administration is rather different. Those of us who come out and are writing books about it write about how much we admire the president and why. And this is a book by somebody who does admire him. It's a candid book, it gives you a sense of who he is, how he thinks.
CARVILLE: But why does the White House hate it if you admire him so much? Why is everybody in the White House trashing your book if it's such a complimentary book to the president? It doesn't make sense to me.
FRUM: Invite them on the show and ask them. You know?
NOVAK: David Frum, you have -- I have to mention, you mention a luncheon we had on November 12. You didn't have the date provided, but I know the date. It was November 12, 2001. It was a letter day for me. And there were some misrepresentations you had. But the worst misrepresentation is that you implied that you had the lunch to me because I threatened you. I never threatened anybody.
FRUM: No. I picked up a certain -- I did pick up a certain air of -- it's not just from you, but other people in the White House who I asked, because I did ask. Robert Novak has invited me out to lunch. What do you think about this? And the consensus view was, yes, you better be careful.
NOVAK: Did I indicate to you if you didn't have lunch with me something bad would happen? That's a threat. Did you ever get that from me?
FRUM: No, no, no.
NOVAK: Because that's the implication you put in your book.
FRUM: No, Bob. As you know, your whole TV career is based on the indefinable air of menace that hangs around...
NOVAK: Well, if you're a chicken and I frighten you, I feel badly for you. Now something else...
FRUM: You don't frighten me. I came to the lunch.
NOVAK: Something else is you misrepresented some things I said in the lunch, but who cares about that. But the interesting thing is it was a private lunch and you didn't say any of the things you said. Isn't it true that at that lunch you told me how frustrated you were as a speechwriter in the White House? That as a newspaper man you gave a day's work for a day's pay, but you didn't think you were doing much good at the White House? Didn't you tell me that?
FRUM: I talked a lot -- I talk in the book as well about a lot of the frustrations I had there.
NOVAK: I didn't see that in the book.
FRUM: If you read at the end of the chapter called "Some of Our Discontent," you'll see a long discussion of my feelings. On the other hand, it's not a book about me and my feelings. And I can't imagine that America would be interested in my hopes, dreams and aspirations and my job career.
I have written a book that tells what I saw, which was interesting. And if there are moments there where I said, you know what, my talents could be better used elsewhere, that's one of the reasons I left to return to private life.
CARVILLE: Now how could -- just out of curiosity -- you say you feel threatened and everything --what could he do to you? I mean, I sit here and what's he going to do? Like shoot you? I mean, what -- how could he hurt you?
FRUM: He could make up stories about you and tell them on television.
CARVILLE: But do you think Novak could be...
NOVAK: I don't know what he's talking about. I said on television, and these were the exact quotes, I said there was suspicion -- I said he said he wasn't fired. The White House said he wasn't fired. But I said there was suspicion. And I might say the suspicion was put in my head by some of your colleagues that he was fired. I didn't say he was fired. I said there was suspicion.
CARVILLE: But you're assuming that he won't take a contract out on you (ph) or something for not liking his tax cut?
FRUM: No, that's not the Novak method. He's got others.
NOVAK: Thank you very much, David Frum. I appreciate it.
FRUM: Thank you.
NOVAK: Coming up: one of our viewers fires back an -mail to a certain charming and witty southern gentleman. She couldn't be talking about someone on the other side of this desk, could she?
But first, a chance to turn your cell phone's ringer as loud as they'll go and hang up on the (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
CARVILLE: Cell phones are causing a lot of static, especially by the obnoxious users who think they can gab whenever they want to. In New York the city council got fed up with all the interruption and banned the use of cell phones at public performances. Before people could enjoy the silence, Mayor Michael Bloomberg vetoed the measure.
Let's dial up a debate in the CROSSFIRE. Joining us is New York City Councilman Phil Reed, and with us in Washington is Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association -- Robert.
NOVAK: Councilman Reed, I'd like to read from Mayor Bloomberg's veto message. "The use of a mobile telephone during a public performance is, in most cases, rude and disrespectful behavior. Some standards of conduct not directly affecting public health or safety can best be enforced not through legislation, but through less formal means." Isn't that reasonable?
PHIL REED (D), NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL: Well, it's reasonable, but it hasn't proven to be practical. And it's interesting, because people are just applauding the idea of being able to have some peace in the theater and being able to tell people to shut up, it's against the law, turn your phone off. And you know New Yorkers have a sort of rough and tumble, and I'm not sure shhh is gonna work in the movie theaters.
NOVAK: Who's interrupting this program?
CARVILLE: Hello. Who's this?
NOVAK: Enough of that. All right. All right, Councilman Reed...
CARVILLE: I'm having a conversation here.
NOVAK: I have season tickets to the Washington opera, I have season tickets to the Shakespeare theater. And they always announce before every performance, shut off your cell phones. They're a lot more polite than James Carville. And all these people -- I have never had one instance of a performance being interrupted.
When you ask people, please turn it off, I think to satisfy their neighbors they'll turn it off. Why do you want government getting in?
REED: Well I think the folks in New York would disagree with you. And virtually every performance that I have been to, unfortunately, and I have been to Broadway shows and the movies, it's still going on after the announcement. And the sense of the legislation is that it gives the theater audience, but also the managers, who -- everybody, by the way, has been in favor of this. All the theater owners, operators, the ushers, the musician's union, the actors.
They think it's terrific, because it gives people an opportunity and the theater to say, there's something behind this bill other than us just saying please be nice. We can tell you that it's against the law. And it's interesting to me, because the mayor's ratings, personal ratings now are plummeting.
This bill has got 85 percent approval rating, and maybe he ought to get in tune with it. It doesn't seem like the folks much like his politics -- his policies. Maybe if he got on board with this his approval rating would go up.
CARVILLE: Let me show you what things cost in New York. These people that go to these performances are from New York or come in from out of town and enjoy. Can we show these ticket prices here? OK.
If you go to "Our Town," $220; the opera, $195 a pop; "Beauty and the Beast," you take your kid, $95 a pop. "42 Street," $100 a pop; premium tickets for "The Producers," $240 to $480 a pop. If I spend that kind of money, or somebody comes from Baton Rouge, Louisiana and spends that kind of money, don't they have a right to be protected by a law so some yuppie AH doesn't have a cell phone going off and trying to act like he's important in the middle of a performance?
GARY SHAPIRO, PRESIDENT, CONSUMER ELECTRONIC ASSOCIATION: No, this is silly. The government should not regulate morality. You know when someone comes into the theater late or they belch or they have BO, or they're hogging the arm rest, we don't take them to jail.
CARVILLE: It's not immoral, it's rude. I mean, the government certainly can regulate you smoking a cigarette in there. Why can't they regulate you being interrupted with a cell phone?
SHAPIRO: Well that's safety. And safety should be more important. How about if you're a doctor in the audience and it's an emergency? Or how about...
REED: Wait a minute now, guys. Wait a minute. Since I wrote the bill, let me tell you, it only says that you have to turn off the audible. So if you have it on vibrate, that's fine. If you get a call that you need to take, then you can get up and walk out into the lobby and use the telephone.
And the interesting thing is the major's really only objecting -- his objection he says is it's unenforceable. But if that's the reason for canceling all of the laws, then we need to get rid of the no spitting, the pooper scooper law. In fact, even the most recent bill that says you can't smoke in the bar, I don't know, is he going to send undercover cops out to every bar in New York on Saturday night?
So it's not a question of enforceability. And that's the part that we don't quite understand with Mike.
SHAPIRO: That's not what the law -- the law says you can't receive a phone call, you can't even use your telephone to take a picture. And that's what a lot of the phones are doing.
REED: Well with all due respect, I wrote -- sir I wrote the law. So it does not prohibit you from having it on vibrate. It just...
NOVAK: Go ahead.
SHAPIRO: It says there's only one exception. It should not apply to an individual who uses to contact for an emergency response. It doesn't say you can get a phone call. You can't get a phone call under the law. This is a crazy law, it's not enforceable. It's ambiguous and it would cut technology.
NOVAK: I just want to read from "Newsday," a newspaper. A humor columnist, Rachel Jacobs. This is very interesting. She went to see "Rent," paid a lot of money. She said, "There certainly was no law to protect me when I went to see "Rent" and suffered through two hours of the girl sitting next to me singing along with every song in full voice. She should have been fined or at least court ordered to take voice lessons."
Now, Councilman Reed, with no -- I don't mean to be insulting, but you look to me like you really like government to crack down on people. Do you want to put in a law now that you can't sing at these theaters?
REED: Well at least you ought to be able to be in key. You know maybe that ought to be part of the criteria. But you know I look at what the public has said. They are thankful for this. They're going to try to have some relief from the tension and the frustration and all of the anxiety here in New York these days, and they want some peace and quiet.
James is right. When you pay that kind of money, you at least want to have some ammunition to be able to turn to the jerk next to you, if the phone is on, and say, listen, man, you're breaking the law. And there will be a compliance factor in this just by virtue of it being a law.
People want to obey it. I don't think that the theater owners and operators would have supported this bill if they felt it was going to be more problematic.
SHAPIRO: This is silly. As a former New Yorker, I can tell you only in New York would you legislate morality. How about the people coming in late? How about the people who smell?
REED: But I'm not sure there is a morality issue in this. This is not about morality.
SHAPIRO: It is about morality.
CARVILLE: He makes a point here. Now wait a minute. He makes a point and it's a pretty good one. Apparently, am I right, that theater owners and the people came to you about this?
REED: We had two hearings on this bill, James. And the only person that came was the administration. Everybody else said they thought this was a terrific act. So, you know, in terms of the folks who are on the stage...
NOVAK: How about the Civil Liberties Union?
REED: They didn't weigh in on it. They didn't seem to feel that this was a problem to somebody in the theater.
CARVILLE: Why is it that business people were for it?
CARVILLE: He was the guy who said the theater owners supported this.
SHAPIRO: But anyone with common sense in the business community -- if you're a doctor, you're not going to support it. If you're an expecting father you're not going to support it. If you have elderly parents at home you're not going to support it.
NOVAK: We're going to take a little audience -- how many of you like this bill to prohibit, by law, make it against the law to have cell phones in theaters? Raise your hand or applaud. How many think it's ridiculous?
(APPLAUSE) SHAPIRO: All right. There we go.
NOVAK: About 50-50.
SHAPIRO: Well Washington has a little bit more reasonable audience than New York does. I don't know.
CARVILLE: Again, I mean I think we can all -- look, I think this is the rudest thing in the world. And in restaurants, ball games, anything else.
REED: You know the interesting thing is that a lot of people are liking the opportunity to turn the phone off and be able to tell people who call them, look, I had to turn it off. They're sick and tired of hearing from people. So I think it does give people an opportunity. And with all due respect, this is an -- you know, Mr. Shapiro represents the industry where he wants you to use the phone because it's going to make money for him.
SHAPIRO: Absolutely. And (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Pennsylvania plane that didn't go into the White House. They used them in Russia during the Chechnya bombing. Cell phones are keeping people connected now. You can't stop them from being connected.
CARVILLE: Now, wait a minute. I don't mind debating it, I don't mind coming on here and getting people to think. The man is not against cell phones. He gave me his cell phone number.
I mean this is a great tactic that people have. Somebody is trying to say you shouldn't use a cell phone in a movie theater. And you're saying, well, gee, think of all of the lives that cells phones save. I mean that's not the arguing point.
The point here is, is should people that pay $450 to go to a theater have the right -- do the public for these councilmen to protect them from some yuppie sitting on a cell phone trying to impress some damn girl that he's important or some kind of idiot stockbroker or something? And I think it's a reasonable question.
SHAPIRO: Well, you can kick him out of the theater right now, just the way someone yelling or disrupting a play. Fran Liebowitz said being offended is a natural consequence of leaving the house. We have the right to defend it. You don't legislate every time someone belches or they do something.
CARVILLE: All right. We've got to go.
NOVAK: Thank you very much. Thank you, Councilman Reed.
Just ahead on CROSSFIRE, a cry for heavenly intervention from our left wing colleague. You turn to "Fireback" when we come back.
NOVAK: "Fireback." When the viewers fire back at us.
First tonight, from E. Bremmer of Clementon, New Jersey, "Carville and Begala, you will never earn respect for your views until you learn to talk about our president with respect. Journalists, like Novak and Carlson, may not always be right, but they argue their point respectfully. I hope you get down on your knees each night and pray for George Bush's reelection, because without him your ass is over."
And you know E. Bremmer, you're right. If Gore had been elected he'd have nothing to talk about.
CARVILLE: If he gave me something to respect, I'd respect him. To declare war on the next generation ain't the right thing to do.
"Mr. Carville, I'm hoping you'll pass a message to Mrs. Clinton for me. Please run for president in 2004. We need you." Sally Sapp, Maryville, Illinois. How about 2008, Sally? I'm sure she'll be there.
NOVAK: I'll tell you what, you pass that message along and say Novak wants you on the ticket, too. I'm just dying for it.
NOVAK: Bruce Smith of Atlanta, Georgia says, "Could Bob Novak say trial lawyers one more time? I've only heard him say it 999 times and I want to make it an even 1,000." Trial lawyers, trial lawyers, trial lawyers, trial lawyers, 1,005.
CARVILLE: And I'll conclude, some of the greatest people in America that have done more for the safety for this country and have helped more people than anybody I know.
"I watch CROSSFIRE principally because of what a charming and witty southern gentleman James Carville is. His keen insights into the issues of our day and his timely observations on those issues mark him as a learned and fine intellect. CROSSFIRE is a good show for his genius." Francis Willy, Austin, Texas.
CARVILLE: I love you, Francis. I love you.
NOVAK: Francis Willy, Carville is using your name. Because I know you're not stupid enough to write that.
CARVILLE: That's one smart Texan there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Alex Dopisa (ph), Washington, D.C. Mr. Carville, how can Democrats, who advocate for hire spending on nearly all priorities with the exception of defense, blame the president for deficit spending? CARVILLE: Very easy can blame him for deficit spending. When he took over we had a $5.6 trillion surplus. They passed one idiotic tax cut that was about $2.5 trillion. They came back in and did another one. They passed a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) bill for $180 billion over 10 years.
They've increased everything that goes to that. And you know what? It's their fault. And they're going to pay the price at the polls. And they ought to stop the war on this young generation and stop fighting young people.
NOVAK: This past week the Democrats -- this past week the Democrats in Congress screamed about budget deficits. And they put in all kinds of bills to increase spending.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Isn't America a nation where the idea of a self-made man and woman is a value? And so why do we have affirmative action if you could consider it a separator rather than an equalizer, as it...
NOVAK: I agree 100 percent.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can I finish?
CARVILLE: Let's have (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and I'm all for getting rid of it. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) white kids (UNINTELLIGIBLE) black kids (UNINTELLIGIBLE), I'm all for it.
From the left, I'm James Carville. Good night for CROSSFIRE.
NOVAK: On the right, I'm Robert Novak. Join us next time for another edition of CROSSFIRE.
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Vote For Him Again, Down; Interview With David Frum; Mayor Bloomberg Vetoes Ban on Cell Phones at Public Performances>