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House, Senate Advance Separate Tax Proposals; Democrats Complain About Bush's Aircraft Carrier Speech; Graham Will Run for President

Aired May 10, 2003 - 19:00   ET


MARK SHIELDS, HOST: Welcome to CAPITAL GANG. I'm Mark Shields, with Al Hunt, Margaret Carlson, and in Greenville, Mississippi, Robert D. Novak. Our guest is Republican Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi. Thank you for coming in, Trent.

SEN. TRENT LOTT (R), MISSISSIPPI: Glad to be back, Mark, and I tell you, I wish I could be with Bob Novak in Greenville, Mississippi and Julia Reed. What an event. She's getting married.

SHIELDS: OK. The House and Senate advanced separate Republican tax cuts, both different from President Bush's. The House in a party line vote passed $550 billion cut, reducing rates on capital gains and dividends.


REP. TOM DELAY (R-TX), MAJORITY LEADER: So embarrassing is the minority's lack of leadership on the economy that they didn't even propose a remedy to the economy until just yesterday.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: The Democratic plan stands in stark contrast to the Republican recklessness. The Democratic plan, again, is fair.


SHIELDS: Senate Finance Committee approved a $350 billion cut with a partial exclusion of dividend taxes after agreeing to provide states with $20 billion. Meanwhile, the CNN-"USA Today" Gallup poll showed support for the Bush tax cut rising to 52 percent from 42 percent a month earlier. Al Hunt, is George W. Bush now winning the tax cut fight?

AL HUNT, CAPITAL GANG: I'm afraid in Congress, he is, Mark, though in the court of public opinion, some other polls would dispute that CNN poll. But the Senate bill, the Senate Finance Committee bill, is less bad than the House bill or the Bush plan, because two Republicans, George Voinovich, and Olympia Snowe, under tremendous pressure, held their ground. I'm told Olympia Snowe is more popular than ever in the state of Maine. But none of these bills are going to provide much economic stimulus, and they're going to create budget deficits that are even bigger, for the next decade. That's going to affect interest rates. It's going to exacerbate the income disparity in America. And I know someone here, not you or Trent or Margaret, might suggest that's Marxian, but that's the view of Warren Buffett, the greatest investor of our lifetime and (UNINTELLIGIBLE).


HUNT: ... Nobel Prize winning economist.

SHIELDS: A capitalist with a conscience, Bob Novak. Is that (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

ROBERT NOVAK, CAPITAL GANG: Just because a guy is a good stock picker, which Mr. Buffett is, does not mean he knows anything about economics, and Warren Buffett, read my lips, is a liberal Democrat. So don't pay any attention to that. The American people are going to like this tax cut. The House bill, as I said last week, is a good bill, and maybe better than the president's. The Senate bill isn't much, but they had to get it out of committee. If you think the people of Maine are happy with Olympia Snowe, the members of the Senate are not, because they had to bribe her with this ridiculous payment to the state. It has no part in the tax bill. But the bad news for you, Mark, and the bad news for you, Al, is there is going to be a big tax cut and it's going to help the economy and help George Bush.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak, not to correct you or anything, but I think Trent Lott might even point this out, members of the Senate don't vote for your reelection, but residents of your own state do, so Olympia Snowe is worried about being more popular in Maine, isn't she?

LOTT: Well, I'm sure she is. And there is no use focusing on how we got to where we were in the committee. This is certainly not a very good bill. One senator said, nobody's particularly happy with it, so it must be just about right. But we've got a long way to go. There are six steps along the way to getting a tax relief growth package. This is only the fourth step. I think we'll get something through the Senate. I think we will have a tax bill. This is not about tax reform, and this is not about trying to, in my opinion, to help states with some of the problems they have, which are legitimate, and some of which we caused (ph). This is about trying to find a way to give a little boost in the economy through encouragement to save, invest, sell and turn over things in the economy. This is not about tax reform, for instance, and it certainly should not be about tax increases.

So I wasn't very happy with the bill we had, but we moved the process along.

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson.

MARGARET CARLSON, CAPITAL GANG: Too bad it's not about tax reform. By the way, if it were to stimulate the economy, many of Bush's economists don't think so, from (ph) his administration. So for that reason, that's enough to be against it. There is a little -- there is a teeny, tiny pony in the manure that offshore companies that move offshore to avoid taxes will be taxed, that's a good thing. (CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: .. and that the states, who, by the way, have to live under a budget, because they can't have deficit spending, are going to get some help, thank goodness.

LOTT: Not much.

CARLSON: Not much, not enough. First responders, though, in the war on terror should get some help. Olympia Snowe, a real champion, and Tom DeLay says Democrats should be embarrassed. I wonder if Republicans should not be about the crossfire they're having where the House is going after your institution, the U.S. Senate.

LOTT: Well, listen, I think the Senate is entitled to a lot of criticism. We haven't handled this very well, in my opinion...


LOTT: And not so much -- well, it doesn't help, and I went over to the House and said, you know, we need to find a way to get around that, but we've got to make sure they understand what we're doing and why we're doing it. And when you look at the substance of the bill in the Finance Committee, it was, you know, susceptible to some legitimate criticism.

I want to talk about the aid to the states just briefly, though. If it's coupled with some reform, some flexibility and some offsets, maybe some of that should be done, but the states have continued to increase spending every year over the previous year significantly, while saying, oh, gee whiz, we're developing deficits. By the way, federal government, bail us out.

SHIELDS: Well, Bob Novak, Margaret does make an interesting point, though. At the time when the Republicans should be riding high, the president is 71 percent in the polls, and you've got Republican sweep last November, and boy, there is really some really bad (ph) fighting and the House Republicans are saying some ugly things I don't even hope that Trent Lott hasn't heard them about his colleagues in the Senate.

NOVAK: I think the senators, the Senate deserves that. You had a rookie majority leader to made a bad mistake. He made a commitment on a limit on what's going to come out of conference. I won't ask Trent to second-guess him on that, but a majority leader should never do that. That's what the back-fighting (ph) is about. Maybe he didn't tell the speaker of the House (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Senator Frist made a mistake. Good guy, but he made a mistake.

Now, the interesting thing is, I don't understand what in the world a payment to the states (UNINTELLIGIBLE) has to do with the tax cut bill. Has absolutely nothing to do with the tax cut bill, and it's gone in there for only two reasons. One reason, Olympia Snowe; and the other reason is George Voinovich.

HUNT: Let me quickly -- and also, I'll pay when you try to explain economics to Warren Buffett. That will really be fascinating to watch. This is supposed to be a stimulus. We have a bad economy. One of the best ways to do it is to prevent states from having to raise their own taxes, which is going to offset anything we do on a federal level. There are other things you can do. A payroll tax holiday you could do. You could extend unemployment assistance. We need to get this economy going. Take an even a bigger short term deficit. This won't do it, and it will exacerbate income inequality.

SHIELDS: Last word, Al Hunt. Trent Lott and THE GANG will be back with whether President Bush's carrier landing was nothing but pure politics.


SHIELDS: Welcome back. A week after George W. Bush's landing on the carrier Abraham Lincoln to announce the end of the war in Iraq, Democrats in Congress complained.


REP. HENRY WAXMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: What he was doing was stage- managing a campaign stunt, and that to me is use of taxpayer money for politics, and abuse and demeaning of our troops.

SEN. ROBERT BYRD (D), WEST VIRGINIA: I am loathed to think of an aircraft carrier being used as an advertising backdrop for presidential political slogan, and yet that was what I saw.


SHIELDS: The president was not apologetic.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It was an honor for me to go on the USS Abraham Lincoln. I'm glad I did it. It was also a really good landing.


SHIELDS: Bob Novak in Greenville, Mississippi. Did the Democrats manage to take a little luster off the president's public relations triumph?

NOVAK: I really don't think so, Mark. You know, last week we said, what in the world are the Democrats are going to do to counter this really attractive picture of the president in a jump-suit landing on a deck, victory in Iraq, and what they did is they sent out two of the least attractive spokesmen for the party, Henry Waxman and Bob Byrd, who are very partisan, very whiny. I mean, who -- it is as if the Republicans had paid them to have those people get out. And then it's so petty and small that the best thing that the Democrats can do, I believe, is just leave this issue alone.

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson, the commander in chief, the president, is certainly entitled to visit any military installation, any servicemen and women any time the commander in chief chooses to do so. But why did the White House lie and change its story so many times about this visit? He needed the plane, he couldn't get out there -- it's only 30 miles offshore. I mean, do you have an explanation?

CARLSON: Well, the point that the Democrats made turned out to be true, that you know, he could have gone on a helicopter, which Ari Fleischer said he couldn't. They did turn it in a lazy circle a few times to keep it there. They did want water as the backdrop and not the shore. But their complaints only served to keep the picture up there for another week, and it only made Ari Fleischer look bad. It didn't make the president look bad. It kind of didn't stick, especially when it was such an American moment, and you had the troops looking on adoringly, and it sounded as if Bob Byrd wanted those troops to file a class action suit that they stayed at sea a day longer, which, in fact, they didn't. And by the way, Bob Byrd has brought every piece of political pork to West Virginia he can, so you know, the state is practically paved over with federal dollars, so he's not a good...

SHIELDS: Does it make him a bad person?

CARLSON: He's not a good spokesman...

SHIELDS: I was with you up until that last sentence.


LOTT: You've never been more right right across the board, Margaret. You know, I love that event, and that was another moment in which I think the American people bonded with this president, as a man. When he was in New York City on top of that car (ph) with that fireman and bullhorn, that was a moment people will always remember. After he talked to the governor of New York, in the aftermath of 9/11, he had tears in his eyes when he started talking about the children. There was a bonding (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I think the American people -- I got a thrill, I was proud to see that plane landing, catch the fourth hook and not go off the end of the carrier.

CARLSON: They choreographed that (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

LOTT: It was exciting. And when he came off that plane, it was an emotional thing, but best part, Margaret, was the look in the eyes of those men and women, the sailors, the Marines on that carrier. They appreciated the fact that president of the United States came to them. He didn't go to a joint session of Congress or some Rose Garden thing. He went to where they were and thanked them for what they did. That's a magic moment, and I hope, Mark, that Bob Byrd and Waxman will keep talking about it, because every time they bring it up again, it's a winner for the president.

SHIELDS: Al Hunt...


HUNT: Mark, the White House did lie, but one of the perks of the presidency is that you get to celebrate triumph.


HUNT: And the fact the Democrats are worried he's going to use it in a campaign commercial next year -- Democrats ought to get over it, because there is one of two things will occur -- either Iraq will look terrific 16 months from now, we'll be safe and secure, we'll be building democratic institutions, and it will be a "Morning in America" commercial, or the Shi'ites will control most of the south, there will be an incident like Beirut in 1983, chaos will prevail and they would not dare run that commercial. I mean, Democrats can't control that. I must say to my friend Robert Novak, though, talking about petty partisan attacks on the president, where was he when the Republicans from 1993 to 2000 had congressional investigations of expenses that Bill Clinton incurred when he went to Africa, investigated a haircut that he had in Los Angeles, and even had a congressional inquiry into Christmas gifts for the first family.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak, do you have an answer for that?

NOVAK: I think that the Republicans, when they were attacking Clinton on those things, they looked small and whiny, and did not look good. But I would say right now, that if you really want to look bad, you really want -- just send out Henry Waxman. I mean, he is a sour, dyspeptic liberal from Southern California. I mean, that is -- I mean, at least, you can send out somebody who's moderately attractive to make those stupid remarks. It wouldn't be quite so bad.

SHIELDS: Bob, I know that you've always been big on matinee idols, and I'm sorry that Henry Waxman is not a male model. He happens to be one of the five most able men in the House of Representatives, though. And that happens to be a reality. I'm sorry.

HUNT: Mark's right, Bob. Yes.


CARLSON: And if dyspeptic disqualified you from being on TV, well, where would Bob Novak be?

SHIELDS: We wouldn't have a quorum on this show. Next on CAPITAL GANG, who's looking good for the Democratic presidential nomination?


SHIELDS: Welcome back. Following the presidential debate among Democrats in South Carolina last Saturday, Senator Bob Graham of Florida made his candidacy official.


SEN. BOB GRAHAM (D-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know firsthand as the former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, how little this administration has done to provide real security at home, while it's directed its attention away from the war on terrorism abroad.


SHIELDS: The first post-debate national poll of Democrats showed Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut leading with 19 percent.


SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D-CT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The American people will not vote for a Democratic candidate for president unless that candidate gives them a sense of safety and security, but also gives them hope about the economy and social progress in our country.


SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson, is Joe Lieberman really the front runner, or is it somebody else?

CARLSON: Some polls show him leading. He came out of that debate well. He should be, as the vice presidential candidate in the last campaign. He's right on national security. He's right on values. He's the victim of the Florida recount. He should be able to get the Democratic base on that alone. But he's too moderate for the Democratic base. He may not garner the primary vote, which want something further to the left and a little more strident and angry. Now, in that debate, Howard Dean came across as that angry guy. I'm not sure that's the best thing. But overall, nine people on stage, too hard to punch through. Sixty-nine percent of the Democrats don't know who's running. Nine percent of Democrats think Al Gore is still running.

SHIELDS: Trent Lott, you know these people up close and personal. Give us your assessment of the field and who would be the strongest candidate?

LOTT: Well, I know a number of them, as you say, on a personal basis, and I really like Joe Lieberman, and I threatened him, I told him, Joe, I may endorse you. And so -- if I say something good about him, it may hurt him further. But Joe is a good man. He is certainly qualified. I think he's certainly a serious candidate. I'm worried he's not raising as much money as I thought he would. I do think he is probably going to wind up being too moderate or too conservative to be nominated, and I've always said that, unfortunately, both parties tend to nominate their most liberal prospect that they can get away with, on the Democratic side, and conservative on the Republican side. And if they go too far, as the Democrats did with, say, you know, McGovern, or Republicans with Goldwater, they lose. I think, you know, a guy like Howard Dean, with the appeal he has to the Democrat base, may be underestimated right now. Gephardt is qualified. A serious contender, obviously. And of course, Kerry. I do think money is going to make a big difference, although I don't think it's going to be enough to help John Edwards. Well, there it is.


SHIELDS: Bob Novak, how about it, can you give us a thumbnail overview on that Democratic debate and the Democratic field right now?

NOVAK: Well, the problem with the Democrats (UNINTELLIGIBLE). The only candidates who have any excitement are those who can't possibly be elected president. My friend Al Sharpton is not going to be elected president. Governor Dean is not going to be elected president. And what you have is that there was some hope that John Kerry was Mr. Excitement, and boy, he looked more dreary in that debate than anybody. They said he had some -- people said he had laryngitis, or hey fever, that he didn't look good.

The thing about Joe Lieberman, who has the name ID, I really can't find any Democrat who thinks he's going to be the nominee.

SHIELDS: Al Hunt -- and tell us quickly, Al, your sense on Bob Graham getting in the race like this.

HUNT: Well, first of all, I think it's much too early. I think a whole lot of things can happen, and I think that debate was pretty forgettable, but a couple of things did stand out. There is some good news and bad news. The good news is, there are some darn smart knowledgeable people, including Bob Graham, and including certainly Joe Lieberman, who had a very thoughtful energy proposal this week. This is the season where we don't pay much attention to that. So that was good. The other good news was that Bob's candidate, Al Sharpton, did not dominate the debate, as some Democrats feared that he would. The bad news, out of course, was there was some kind of petty and unfair bickering back and forth, but I just think that's seasonal right now, Mark, and we'll have to see what happens.

LOTT: You know, the media may like this, but this is not good for Democrats. It wouldn't be good for Republicans. It's too early, and there's too many. When you've got a debate like this, where the most any candidate is going to get is 10 minutes or nine minutes, it's very, you know, disruptive, and it doesn't, I don't think it reflects well on the candidates.

SHIELDS: Well, let me just say, I thought, quite bluntly, that George Stephanopoulos -- I have never been an uncritical admirer. I thought he did a good job on running that debate. I do think that there were a couple of subplots that were interesting. I thought the Edwards-Gephardt fighting for sort of the positioning as the who's going to be the populace, blue-collar candidate, and sort of competing about who came from more humble origins is interesting. And then, both Graham and Lieberman emphasized that they are electable candidates. Now, I remember Nelson Rockefeller being the electable candidate, I remember Jackson being the electable candidate I remember Bill Scranton being the electable candidate, Ed Muskee (ph) being the electable candidate.


SHIELDS: Quite frankly, primary voters don't vote in two stages. They don't say, gee, I'm going to -- I don't like poll candidate X, but I'm going to vote for him because he's stronger in November.

(CROSSTALK) SHIELDS: Go ahead, Bob Novak.

NOVAK: I think we ought to make a comment that Dick Gephardt dropped all the pretense. He says he wants a big tax increase that will really affect the guy who makes $40,000 a year with a couple of kids, and that's what this tax increase does. And I thought that was a lot of candor.

SHIELDS: I think Bob Novak is writing John Edwards' stuff for him. I did not realize that there was an unholy alliance there, but I will say this...


SHIELDS: Dick Gephardt framed it very beautifully -- do you want health care for all Americans, or do you want a tax cut for Novak's rich friends? THE GANG will be back with a "Capital Classic," the first Democratic presidential debate four years ago.



SHIELDS: Welcome back.

It was late in the autumn of 1999 before the two contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination, Vice President Al Gore and former senator Bill Bradley, debated for the first time. Your CAPITAL GANG on October 30, 1999, rated their performances.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, October 30, 1999)

NOVAK: You might think that Gore really whacked him a good one, because he looks like a better debater. But I got a very good feeling. Al Gore may have trouble running this conventional kind of political campaign where you find something wrong with the other guy, or he did something years ago. And Bradley being above the battle might have an edge.

CARLSON: Bradley seems to be, I will let you make me president. It is my moment, and I will let you do it. And the Eddie Haskell Energizer Bunny of Al Gore is not as appealing at the moment. Maybe in September, when people are really concentrating, the sweaty guy who wants it more might work in those debates.

O'BEIRNE: When there are so few policy differences, you tend to fall back and judge them on personality and demeanor, and that's where Al Gore simply, I don't think (UNINTELLIGIBLE) will Bill Bradley. He's just a more attractive political personality.

HUNT: It was a bit like the Kennedy-Nixon debate, where Nixon won on points, but Kennedy had -- was the flavor of that season. And I think the thing that makes it more appealing for Bradley isn't the antidote to Clinton's snick -- slick, manipulative brand of politics.

NOVAK: Let me disagree... (END VIDEOTAPE)

SHIELDS: Bob Novak, can we say the CAPITAL GANG fell in love with Bill Bradley, and the Democratic voters did not?

NOVAK: Well, yes, I think we all looked pretty silly ooh-ing and ahh-ing over Bill Bradley, who was out of the race before you knew it in the primary.

But I think all of us had a point that we didn't quite say, is that Al Gore is not very likable. And that's probably what, what in the end, that's why he failed to become president. And he showed it against Bill Bradley. Bill Bradley was more likable. It's just that the Democratic machine and the labor unions wouldn't let him be president -- nominee.


LOTT: Hey, that was a case of dull and duller. In the end, I think Bob put his finger on it. It's really a case of who the people like, and that's why George W. Bush is going to be reelected president. The people fundamentally like him.

SHIELDS: Margaret.

CARLSON: Well, we should, we learned that the sweaty guy actually, you know, beat Bill Bradley, but in the general election, he couldn't, because, as you say, they liked the guy who didn't debate as well better.


CARLSON: No, they liked Bush better.

LOTT: Yes, that's right.


SHIELDS: You called it Kennedy-Nixon.

HUNT: I'd like to come to our defense...

SHIELDS: Lincoln-Douglas?

HUNT: I'd like to come...


HUNT: ... to our defense, Mark. The entire CAPITAL GANG predicted correctly that President Dole would not run for a second term.

SHIELDS: That's right.

Trent Lott, thank you very much for being with us. Coming up on the second half of CAPITAL GANG, our "Newsmaker of the Week" is Caroline Kennedy, the author of "The Patriot's Handbook." "Beyond the Beltway" looks at bad behavior by college coaches with basketball expert Billy Packer. Plus our "Outrages of the Week." That's all after the latest headlines, these news headlines, right here on CNN.



SHIELDS: Welcome back to the second half of CAPITAL GANG.

I'm Mark Shields with Al Hunt, Margaret Carlson, and, in Greenville, Mississippi, Robert D. Novak.

Our Newsmaker of the Week is Caroline Kennedy, daughter of President John F. Kennedy. Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, age 45, residence New York City, religion Roman Catholic. Graduated from Harvard University and Columbia Law School. Co-founder of the Profiles in Courage Awards, president of the Kennedy Library Foundation.

Her new book is "A Patriot's Handbook."

Earlier this week, Al Hunt talked to Caroline Kennedy from Chicago.


HUNT: Caroline, Monday will be the 15th John F. Kennedy Profiles in Courage Awards. Tell us briefly the purpose of these awards.

CAROLINE KENNEDY, PRESIDENT, JFK LIBRARY FOUNDATION: We started this award as a way of, you know, honoring my father's commitment to public service. And he wrote about people who were willing to stand up for what they believed was right no matter what the consequences.

HUNT: This year's winners are three Southerners who fought bigotry. The first two are ex-governor, South Carolina Republican, David Beasley (ph) and Georgia Democrat Governor Roy Barnes. Why are they profiles in courage?

KENNEDY: Both of them really took a stand which was unpopular with many of their constituents, taking a stand for tolerance and for the kind of harmony and progress that was so important in our country in the South in putting this sort of racially divisive symbols of the Confederate battle flag behind them and moving forward into the future.

Both of them knew that it was a risky thing to do, that it was going to be unpopular, and both of them lost their governorships as a result of their principled and courageous stand.

HUNT: And why Dan Ponderin (ph), an obscure Georgia legislator? KENNEDY: The Georgia legislature was considering a bill to outlaw hate crimes, and was deadlocked, really. Dan Ponderin, who was a conservative from a conservative Republican district in Georgia, stood up and gave a speech that I would say is one of the most powerful speeches that I have ever read.

He talked about his own background down in the South. He had a number of ancestor who were -- who fought for the Confederacy. And he also talked about a woman who had helped to raise him in his family and all that she had taught him through the power of love. And about the importance of racial harmony and against bigotry.

When he sat down, the bill passed overwhelmingly. So he really turned and showed the power of words, which I think is one of the things that my father believed in.

HUNT: People associate the Kennedy name with Democrats and liberals. Yet two of this year's recipients are Republicans. Last year a Republican mayor from a small Illinois town won, several years ago Gerald Ford won for his pardon of Richard Nixon.

What would your father think of honoring all these Republicans?

KENNEDY: Well, political courage, we want to encourage it as much as possible, and wherever we find it, we think it should be honored.

HUNT: Well, your father's 1957 book, "Profiles in Courage," of course, chronicled eight United States senators who risked their careers taking unpopular but principled stands.

Are courage in America a rare commodity now?

KENNEDY: Well, you know, when we started this award, people said, Oh, you know, you're never going to find anybody to give it to, and there's no more people like that around. And I think that my experience on serving on this committee for the last 15 years has proved that to be completely wrong. I wish we could give this award to many more people each year.

HUNT: You have published another book, a tour de force in size and content, "A Patriot's Handbook: Stories and Speeches Celebrating the Land We Love." What was the inspiration for this book?

KENNEDY: Well, I think there's really been an outpouring of patriotism and a desire on the part of, you know, so many people to reengage with what it means to be an American.

So for me, it was really a chance to sort of collect all the things that had meant a lot to me, as I thought about what I wanted to pass on to, you know, my own children. Because really, being an American is about, you know, what we can give back and what we can do to make this country even better.

HUNT: It's a marvelously eclectic collection, everything from Ronald Reagan to poems to Supreme Court decisions, Thoreau, and the Grateful Dead. Other than the passages from your father, what is one or two of your favorite selections?

KENNEDY: There's also some really funny stuff in there, and I think that H.L. Mencken and Mark Twain are funny. And those -- Thomas Jefferson's inaugural address, I think, where he talks about how we really have more in common than divides us.

HUNT: Final question, I was on "Meet the Press" with you about a year ago, and Tim Russert asked you about a possible Caroline Kennedy political career. And you refused to rule it out then. After the show, your uncle, Ted Kennedy, cracked that that would -- that would attract the attention of our cousins.

A year later, any political future for Caroline Kennedy?

KENNEDY: I'm very busy right now. I am -- you know, if I get to spend more time on TV shows like yours, you know, then maybe I'd have to think about it.

HUNT: You can announce it right here. Caroline (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

KENNEDY: That's OK, that's OK.

HUNT: Thank you so much.

KENNEDY: I don't want to rush into anything.


SHIELDS: Al Hunt, do you think Caroline Kennedy is really thinking of getting into politics? Or was she just having a little fun at our expense?

HUNT: I'm afraid she was having a little bit of fun at our expense, Mark. She's not a person who loves the limelight. But if she ever changes her mind, she does have that Kennedy magic.

Let me also acknowledge that I'm a member of that Profiles in Courage selection committee, which probably explains why it was such a hard-hitting interview.

SHIELDS: I was going to say.


SHIELDS: Bob Novak, your own take.

NOVAK: Well, I was amazed that Al said -- expressed some surprise that they had some Republicans. After all, the original "Profile in Courage" book by John F. Kennedy had Bob Taft because of his principled opposition to the Nuremberg trials, and I believe, you know, Al, I knew him, and I don't think JFK was all that big a liberal.

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson.

CARLSON: Mark, I just want to ask Al if I can get him to interview me about my book.

HUNT: Absolutely.

SHIELDS: Next on CAPITAL GANG, are college coaches out of control? "Beyond the Beltway" with CBS Sports analyst Bill Packer.


SHIELDS: Welcome back.

Iowa State basketball coach Larry Eustachy resigned after being photographed kissing co-educates at college drinking parties.


LARRY EUSTACHY, FORMER ISU BASKETBALL COACH: We need to end this, folks. I've created this situation, and I'm holding myself totally accountable. And we move on.


SHIELDS: After being fired as Alabama football coach for misconduct with strippers, Mike Price was not nearly as apologetic.


MIKE PRICE, FORMER ALABAMA COACH: I've asked President Whitt (ph) for a second chance, and he declined. You know, whatever happened to a second chance in life?


SHIELDS: Joining us now from Charlotte, North Carolina, is CBS college basketball analyst Billy Packer.

Thank you so much for coming in, Billy.

BILLY PACKER, CBS SPORTS: My pleasure. Always great being with you people.

SHIELDS: Thank you.

Billy, does this misconduct by two prominent coaches reflect any underlying problem in big-time college sports?

PACKER: Well, I think it's an underlying problem throughout society when you have fellows that are asked to lead, whether it be in politics, in religion, whether it be in business, and certainly in coaching. They have a responsibility both on and off the floor.

And in this particular case, two people let down not only universities but the college sports in general and certainly their families, as well as the young men and women that would be involved in playing with them and supporting them.

So I think in both cases, I don't think it reflects the norm in college athletics. But certainly it was a black mark put on intercollegiate athletics, without question.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak down in Greenville, Mississippi.

NOVAK: Billy, after all, there was, as far as I know, there was no law broken. There was no lying to a grand jury, there was no legislative body impeached him. Was, as the Alabama, as the former Alabama coach says, was it a little too tough with no second chance given?

PACKER: Well, I don't think so whatsoever, Bob. I think, and one of the things that any of us that ever have played on a team or had a coach, and whether it be in junior high school or whether it be at the highest level, a coach is somebody that has leadership responsibility to the young people that play for him. And on the professional level, for even for the men that play for them.

And I think in a particular case of intercollegiate athletics, that's one of the maybe the most important thing a coach has to do in this day in age, is to lead an example that his players would be proud of, and as years would go by, would be proud to go back and be part of that team that he had an opportunity to play for and the coach that you played for.

And I think the activities that have been shown in both of these cases, in one case Larry admitted to his wrongdoing, I think in the other situation, we have a situation where Mike is saying that "Sports Illustrated"'s report was not totally accurate.

But in either case, I think both coaches went way over the line, and I think the schools had it very quickly, and I think the response was exactly what it should have been on behalf of those presidents.

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson.

CARLSON: Billy, are we in the age of the rock star coach, with he's the big man on campus, the inflated salary, the inflated sense of entitlement, the inflated ego, and that the universities let -- enable them to behave badly if they're winners, because they want to make all this money off of them?

PACKER: Well, I've always been a Keynesian economist supporter, and I believe that the supply and demand factor is certainly holding true in intercollegiate athletics. People like to stay up with the Joneses. I don't think that's necessarily healthy. But that's the way it is. So I could never fault a coach for having an opportunity to maximize his income potential.

I wonder what is the focus, however, on intercollegiate athletics where a college president could get in a situation. And three of the major situations that took place this year, St. Bonaventure, Fresno State, and Georgia, college presidents in all three of those cases were involved in the negative side of the issue.

Fortunately, two presidents stood up and took quick action. But I think that that's something that we find in all areas of society right now, not necessarily healthy, but that's where we are. SHIELDS: Al Hunt.

HUNT: Billy, you are the best college basketball analyst ever, undoubtedly derives from that great education you got at our shared Alma Mater, Wake Forest. But let me get you to put your professional fan cap on for a moment. Your take on the Michael Jordan incident this week, and the effect it has on the game?

PACKER: I've known Michael ever since he was in high school. I have great admiration for his diligence and how hard he has worked to take his God-given a talent and make him the greatest player of all time.

What Michael is going through right now is what we all go through, and will the Peter Principle evolve in this particular case? Without question, he is -- he was terrific for the Wizards in terms of his on-court presence, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) allowing them to have a very profitable situation.

So I think Dave Polan (ph) probably had much better view of Michael in terms of his potential as an executive, better certainly than I would ever have, and I think the case is going to be very interesting now between Michael and Bob Johnson. I think Mr. Johnson is -- has proven to be a very effective businessman. And I think he laid it on the line for Michael. Do you really want to be an executive, and what role do you want to fulfill?

And what Michael has to decide right now, can he make that transition from the world's greatest basketball player to an effective executive? So far he hasn't been able to prove that he can be a effective executive. And I'll be interested to see what decision that he makes.

But I think Mr. Polan certainly knows this business better than I will ever know his business. And his decision was short and sweet. So I think that decision is one that tells us he didn't think Michael could be an effective (UNINTELLIGIBLE) executive.

But I know the competitive nature in Michael, and if he decides he wants to do it, believe me, he will be a la Jerry West, and he could be outstanding.

SHIELDS: Billy Packer, for those of us lucky enough to visit Tuscaloosa, Alabama, the home of the University of Alabama, there's a Paul W. Bryant High School. There's a Paul W. Bryant Museum named after Bear Bryant. There's a Hound's Tooth Lounge named for the hat he wore.

Has it become impossible for Mike Schuler (ph), Mike Price, anybody else, when you're going to be compared to truly a legend?

PACKER: You know, I think that any coach that's been successful never worries about what was before him and certainly doesn't worry about what's going to come after him. He just focuses on the job that he has to do. And those that have been able to go in after (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in outstanding programs and be successful, like a Rick Patino was, like a Mike Shushesky (ph) has been in basketball, they don't worry about what happened before, because they have no control over that.

And I think that those that worry about it and let the fans or the press get on their case, as was the case with Steve Lavin (ph) at UCLA, have no chance whatsoever to succeed.

So I think it takes a strong man, but I think that in the case of the heritage of Schuler, with his father's great heritage, and also the ability he will have to know what it's like to be part of an Alabama family, should be very helpful to him.

SHIELDS: Billy Packer, thank you for your candor, thank you for your insight, and thank you for your company.

PACKER: Appreciate it.

SHIELDS: We'll be back, THE GANG will be, with the "Outrages of the Week."


SHIELDS: I have two outrages this week. The first is strictly personal.

In Washington, it's almost impossible to get anybody on the phone for one reason this week. Just about everybody is reading "Anyone Can Grow Up" by our colleague and friend Margaret Carlson. It's a terrific book, just brimming with Margaret's insight, humor, and humanity.

Now for the "Outrage of the Week."

The Minutemen were the heroes of the American Revolution at Concord and Lexington who kept their promise to take the field against the British on a minute's notice. For the last 31 years, the Minuteman has -- with his musket has been the logically appropriate mascot of the University of Massachusetts.

Now some politically correct folks, upset by the gender and military implications, want to change the mascot to the wolf. The wolf? One dictionary definition reads, "Wolf -- a man given to making unwanted sexual overtures to women."

Gender, anyone?

Margaret Carlson.

CARLSON: Mark, I thank you.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has sunk lower than ever with its new ad called, quote, "Holocaust on Your Plate."

PETA compares Jews transported in cattle cars to the gas chambers with animals going to slaughter, intones, quote, "Every era has its atrocities. Please eat vegetarian."

PETA also juxtaposes a pile of dead bodies next to a pile of dead pigs.

TV stations in Kentucky, gratefully, refused to run the ad. But WICS in Springfield, Illinois, will. PETA's proved there's nothing sacred to them. But what about TV stations?


HUNT: Mark, the M.O. for right-wing political hit groups is an early campaign of personal vilification and distortion against a politician while their preferred candidate denies any involvement. That's what the so-called Rushmore Policy Council is doing, trying to smear Senator Tom Daschle while his potential Republican opponent, John Thune, says, Gosh, I only play the piano here.

A Rushmore architect is Paul Erickson (ph), who previously represented John Wayne Bobbit. Anyway you slice it, this guy is a sleaze. And this stuff won't work in a good state like South Dakota.

Mark, I don't have much time, because I've been engrossed in this book all day. It's fantastic. I want to run right now.

SHIELDS: You're like everybody else.

Robert Novak in Greenville.

NOVAK: Congratulations, Margaret.

Michael Bloomberg switched his label from Democrat to Republican because that was the only way he could get elected mayor of New York. But he hadn't changed his stripes. Now, making the old liberal mistake of trying to revive the economy with huge tax increases. A letter in "The Wall Street Journal" signed by six prominent New Yorkers warns Bloomberg that he is sowing disaster for his city.

The signers include a former governor of New York, Democratic, Hugh Carey. The so-called Republican mayor should take note.

SHIELDS: This is Mark Shields saying goodbye for THE CAPITAL GANG.

Coming up next, "CNN PRESENTS: In the Line of Fire." At 9:00 p.m. on "LARRY KING WEEKEND," Nick Nolte. And at 10:00 p.m., the latest news on "CNN SATURDAY NIGHT."


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