CNN CAPITAL GANG
House International Relations Committee Stops WMD Investigation; Nation's Roman Catholic Bishops Meet in St. Louis; Should Lobbyist Lead GOP?
Aired June 21, 2003 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MARK SHIELDS, HOST: Welcome to THE CAPITAL GANG. I'm Mark Shields with the full gang: Al Hunt, Robert Novak, Kate O'Beirne and Margaret Carlson.
The House International Relations Committee in a party-line vote disapproved an investigation of intelligence pointing to weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. HENRY HYDE (R-IL), INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: This is redundant. This is unnecessary. And if we give it vitality by voting for it, we are voting "no confidence" in our intelligence committee.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The search for truth isn't partisan, it's a search for truth. And if also we have the shifting justification for engagement in Iraq -- I agree that human rights violations and terror connections exist. That wasn't the overwhelming reason for this administration's justification.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHIELDS: In Britain, a cabinet member resigned with a blast at Prime Minister Tony Blair.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's a series of half-truths, exaggerations, reassurances that weren't the case, to get us to -- into conflict by the spring. And I think that is -- that commitment had been made by the previous summer.
TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) a threat to his region and to the wider world. I always made it clear that the issue was not whether he was about to launch an immediate strike on Britain.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHIELDS: Bob Novak, will this become a major political issue in the United States and Britain, as well?
ROBERT NOVAK, CAPITAL GANG: Well, in Britain, it is a big issue. I don't think the British public were ever as committed to this war as the American public was. I think it's strictly a Democratic ploy here right now. There are people who weren't even very much against the war who suddenly see in not finding the weapons of mass destruction something, anything to get after George W. Bush. When Congressman Menendez, who is the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, says this is not partisan, I got to laugh. He is one of the most partisan guys on Capitol Hill. So this is a -- is a last-ditch effort by the Democrats after the war has been fought to try to make it -- taking advantage of it.
SHIELDS: Henry Hyde certainly was never a reluctant dragon when it came to investigations and hearings in the last administration, but now he's changed positions, Al Hunt.
AL HUNT, CAPITAL GANG: Yes, he sure has. Look, Mark, a very compelling case could have been made to take out Saddam Hussein if the administration had told nothing but the truth. He was a bad guy. He possessed chemical and biological weapons, and while no imminent threat to the United States, he was to the region and to his own people. The case would have taken a little bit longer, may have been supported by 50, 55 percent of the people rather than 80 percent of the people.
Instead, the Pentagon and the vice president and the White House chose to go the easy route, and they deceived the American people time and time again about the imminent threat, about the al Qaeda connection, and they -- they distorted and hyped intelligence. And that was a terrific disservice, and it's -- Bob's right, it's really hurting Tony Blair a lot more, but there shouldn't be a cover-up now of their duplicity.
SHIELDS: Are we talking about a cover-up here, Kate O'Beirne?
KATE O'BEIRNE, CAPITAL GANG: No, we're not. Congressman Menendez is terribly wrong when he denies that this is partisan, but he is right when he says that the fundamental rationale for this war was the fact that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The liberation of the Iraqi people was cited as a result of this war, but it was not a rationale. So it's crucially important that the administration and the allies find or account for weapons of mass destruction, which I believe they will do.
Look, Sandy Berger, when he was national security adviser to Bill Clinton, said there was convincing evidence. John Kerry, Madeleine Albright, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, based on the American intelligence they saw believed him to have the litany of weapons of mass destruction.
Now, if that intelligence was incorrect, that is a problem. But we still had to move. We knew he had them. We knew he'd used them in the past. It was prudential to assume he still did.
SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson, bring some light to this heated discussion.
MARGARET CARLSON, CAPITAL GANG: You can say that the Clinton administration and the U.N. both found that there were -- determined that there were weapons of mass destruction there. You can actually find weapons of mass destruction there but still question how the intelligence was used by the administration to make the case for going into Iraq. Whether the African connection was selling the uranium, whether that was known not to be true but put forward anyway, and whether the analysts who said, Listen, it's four to six years before Baghdad is going to have nuclear weapons, were shut up and now doing agricultural studies on, you know, wheat sales to the old Soviet Union, and the guys who said, listen, it's a year away, are -- have been promoted -- all that, how that analysis of intelligence was put forward at the time is still a legitimate inquiry because the United States has to go forward with a global strategy, a way -- when are we going to go to war? On what intelligence are we going to go to war? What's an imminent threat?
SHIELDS: Bob Novak, picking up on both what Kate and Margaret said, the rationale for the war was the weapons of mass destruction.
NOVAK: No, it wasn't.
SHIELDS: And the -- well, the president, in his March 17 speech to the nation, said, We cannot live under the threat of blackmail. Before the day of horror can come, before it is too late to act, this danger will be removed. I mean, this was -- this was describing something. Isn't it important, really, as Kate put it, that weapons be found?
NOVAK: Let's be honest what this is all about. First place, I wasn't for going -- for fighting this war. As I said...
SHIELDS: Now you're for it?
SHIELDS: Oh, OK.
NOVAK: Can I state my own position, rather than you telling what I'm for.
SHIELDS: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) here.
NOVAK: Thank you very much. I was -- I was not for going into this war, but the war is over. We're through. We're rid of Saddam Hussein, which is a blessing. I believe the decision was made to get rid of Saddam Hussein long before there was any kind of intelligence findings on weapons of mass destruction. But there's no question in my mind -- I've been around this town a little bit, and I know politicians when I see them. And the Democratic politicians who are desperate for an issue are trying to find an issue, and it's not finding the weapons of mass destruction. And as a matter of fact, the -- it's not a very good issue because the pollsters all say that the American people...
HUNT: We're going to find some weapons of mass destruction, but the much more relevant issue, whether it becomes -- whether it's politics or not, it's relevant, is did -- were we told the truth? And when Donald Rumsfeld said that there was -- that he had bullet-proof evidence of an al Qaeda-Saddam connection and they started talking about this Atta meeting over in Eastern Europe, was that the truth?
Was -- when George Bush delivered the State of the Union and talked about importing nuclear materials from Africa, did the White House, in fact, know that wasn't true? When they planted the stories about aluminum tubes to build nuclear weapons, did they know that wasn't true, as their own Energy Department did? And when they said there are unmanned aerial vehicles, the president said, that can hit the United States, and we find out they only have a 300-mile range, he's 5,700 miles off -- did he know that? Bob, I'm curious because these were some of the things that you said beforehand. I was for the war, you...
HUNT: ... and some of this I think vindicates not your bottom line but some of the points you mad earlier.
NOVAK: Yes, but I -- but see, I know what's going on and you know what's going on, Al. Don't be so innocent...
HUNT: I just said what I thought's going on. Don't tell me what I think. That's what I think's going on.
NOVAK: Well, if you don't know what's going on, I'll tell you what's going on. And what it is is a Democratic ploy. The whole thing's a Democratic ploy, and I hate to see people on this table engaged in it.
SHIELDS: I've never heard Kate O'Beirne accused of being a dupe of the Democratic Party.
NOVAK: Well (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
SHIELDS: Kate O'Beirne -- Kate O'Beirne (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the weapons were the rationale for the war and that their discovery was important to...
O'BEIRNE: Bob, it would have been awfully difficult to make the decision to -- to depose Saddam Hussein this year before there was even evidence of mass destruction, given that we have evidence he's had them since 1980 because he's used them. Look, some anti-war Democrats used the fact that he has weapons of mass destruction to argue against the war, saying it would put our troops at too much risk or he would be prompted to use them in the area. John Kerry, when he was on the Intelligence Committee in 1998, had access to all this intelligence. He was completely convinced Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. This is purely partisan now.
CARLSON: But Mark, we may find weapons of mass destruction. As Al says, it's likely. But the question is whether there was any hyping or cooking of the intelligence that was used by the administration. That's the question, and any Democratic candidate who's going forward needs to say, Saddam being gone is a good thing, but finding out how the intelligence was used is something that's nonetheless the nation needs to do.
SHIELDS: And Margaret Carlson, last word. The GANG of five will be back with confrontation between the Roman Catholic cardinal of Los Angeles and the former governor of Oklahoma.
SHIELDS: Welcome back. With the nation's Roman Catholic bishops meeting this week in St. Louis, the chairman of the lay oversight board investigating sexual abuse in the church, former Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating, in a "Los Angeles Times" interview said some bishops acted like the Mafia. He singled out Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles, saying, quote, "I think there are a number of bishops, and I put Cardinal Mahony in that category, who listened too much to his lawyer and not enough to his heart," end quote.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This kind of inflammatory rhetoric does not contribute to the protection of young children.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHIELDS: Cardinal Mahony called Keating's remarks "the last straw," and Keating resigned, saying, quote, "My remarks, which some bishops found offensive, were deadly accurate. I make no apology," end quote.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is unfortunate. I never met the governor. Many -- most of us have not. But we have met the board members, and they have been very responsive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson, is Cardinal Mahony or Governor Keating at fault here?
CARLSON: Governor Keating could have chosen a less inflammatory metaphor to use. I mean, as we know, no bishop has put cement shoes on anybody. Nonetheless, Keating had a point, and Cardinal Mahony was one of the offenders in trying to keep the information on who abused who secret. And they -- many of the bishops were more concerned about their legal liability than about getting to the bottom of this.
Now, it's not accidental that the bishops decided this week to use a coded system for going back through the records, which is the thing that Cardinal Mahony was objecting to. So Keating, in a way, at least moved -- I think that was a reaction to Keating pointing out secretive they were.
SHIELDS: Bob Novak, Governor Keating was no favorite among his colleagues on the board.
NOVAK: No, he wasn't. He -- one of his delights for journalists and one of his problems with fellow politicians is he sometimes comes over a little too strong. But I've been checking around on the subject, and I'll admit I'm not an expert on it, and everybody I talk to says Keating is right on with Mahony. Mahony has been terrible on this. He is just absolutely run by his lawyers. Raymond Arroyo (ph), a very good reporter on ecclesiastical affairs, and he's been on this program before, thinks that about half of the bishops in the country will not participate in the audit. They're dragging their feet. And this is one year after the -- everything was supposed to have been made right in the bishops' conference, and I think it's a real problem for the church.
SHIELDS: Kate O'Beirne, that's contrary to my own reporting, which indicates that overwhelmingly there's been compliance, with a couple of notable exceptions and prickly spots, namely Los Angeles and New York.
O'BEIRNE: I thought this lay review board already had responses from the majority of the dioceses. Look, Frank Keating has an Irish temper. He comes by it honestly. But he expresses the frustration and anger of millions of lay Catholics. I think it was terribly foolish for Cardinal Mahony to lead the charge to get Frank Keating off as chairman.
Certainly, as I said, given the dereliction on the part of not the majority of bishops, for sure, but some bishops, you know, they deserve to hear that kind of frustration and anger at some point. Look, the majority of bishops have cooperated with the survey. The great majority of bishops had no problem in the first place. Cardinal Mahony, A, had a problem, and B, is not cooperating. I hate to see the bishops closing ranks again around Cardinal Mahony, just as they did last year.
More should have resigned. You shouldn't have to be accused of a hit-and-run in order to step aside from your diocese if you've been -- if there's dereliction of duty.
SHIELDS: In fairness, I have been told on strong sources that Bishop O'Brien of Phoenix had submitted his resignation to the Vatican earlier...
O'BEIRNE: On the sex abuse scandal.
SHIELDS: ... but it had been turned down because they didn't -- because the Vatican was scared to death of the stampede of bishops resigning. Al Hunt?
HUNT: You know, our colleague, E.J. Dionne, had a very good piece in Friday's "Washington Post" in which he pointed out there is no one Catholic church and there is no monolithic bishop, if you will. They are quite different, as I think some of you have pointed out. And I -- my reporting says the same thing. Some are quite good. McCarrick of Washington, Galante of Dallas have been incredibly cooperative. Most have. There have been a few who have not been. I think Cardinal Mahony and Eagan of New York have been particularly bad, or not responsive here.
But I think, Bob, again, my reporting tells me the same thing, that most are cooperating. They're making some progress. What they have to realize, though, as Father McBrian (ph), the great theologian at Notre Dame, said this week that the corporate image of the church isn't any better today than it was a year ago. And I think they've got to understand that.
SHIELDS: I think that's -- I think that's true, and I just -- I just want to say I've done some reporting on this, and I think it's important to -- two things. The Catholic church is more than its sins and more than its mistakes and more than its crimes. And on any given day in the United States, three million kids, an awful lot in central cities, go into Catholic schools, high schools and elementary schools, and get a very good education. Catholic hospitals take care of 88 million people a year, and they -- half the refugees in the country get welcomed by Catholic services.
And I mean, so, you know, the work that the church does and its primary mission in our society continues, in spite of what has become -- and I think you're absolutely right, Al, according to Father McBrian, this has become...
O'BEIRNE: Oh, I couldn't agree more.
O'BEIRNE: I'm not going to quote Father McBrian, but I couldn't agree more. Owing to the overwhelming generosity of lay Catholics, who generously support all those causes and whose donations are now being used to pay off these lawsuits.
NOVAK: And I don't think you can measure the Catholic church ever through its history on the record of the bishops. It certainly surmounts that.
SHIELDS: As long as they don't measure it, either, on the record of its lay members, either.
Next on CAPITAL GANG: Should a lobbyist lead the Republican Party?
SHIELDS: Welcome back. Completing President Bush's 2004 election team, former Montana governor Marc Racicot resigned as Republican national chairman to head the presidential campaign and was replaced at the RNC by 41-year-old super-lobbyist Ed Gillespie. A private watchdog organization, Congress Watch, said of Gillespie, quote, "He will closely consult with the White House and Congress on policy matters and electoral strategy. Such inside information would be invaluable to his clients and partners at Quinn Gillespie and Associates." That is not a paid advertisement. Gillespie responded, quote, "My first responsibility is to my president and my party, and I will not in any way undermine that responsibility," end quote.
Kate O'Beirne, does it make sense to give this key job to a super-lobbyist?
O'BEIRNE: Look, Mark, Ed Gillespie's a friend of mine. It certainly makes sense for the Republicans to tap somebody as talented and effective as Ed Gillespie for the new chair. Look, he -- he was very well known in Washington, given all the years he's worked on Capitol Hill. He worked on the Austin (ph) campaign. He's among the best known, well-thought-of people in town. This job is not enhancing that. And look, he's a self-made guy. Grew up in Jersey. His father ran a grocery store, and he built a successful business. Why shouldn't he be able to now go on full-time salary with the RNC while keeping the business he built?
HUNT: Didn't Republicans call Terry McAuliffe an influence- peddler?
NOVAK: That's right. Terry McAuliffe has been involved in so many sleazy deals...
NOVAK: Do you mind if I speak while you're interrupting? So many sleazy deals, skirting on the edge of the law. I don't think there's any such record of Ed Gillespie. I think the bad record we had was Marc Racicot, who never became a permanent chairman. The White House got a waiver on that from the Republican National Committee, which they didn't like. He was still on his -- spending a lot of time at his law firm. He wasn't actively lobbying. And he was getting a salary from his law firm. Ed Gillespie is leaving the firm temporarily. He's not getting a salary. And he has said he will not -- unlike Republican national chairmen and Democratic national chairmen in the past, he will not open doors for his clients. That's about as good as you can do. It's not illegal to be a lobbyist, Mark.
SHIELDS: It isn't, Bob.
NOVAK: No, it isn't.
SHIELDS: Now, out of $200 million that the Bush campaign has pledged to commit to raise for this non-primary challenge, Margaret, they ought to be able to afford a salary for, I think, the chairman, shouldn't you?
NOVAK: He's getting a salary.
SHIELDS: ... talking about Marc Racicot.
CARLSON: I mean, this -- these are the people that get chosen for these jobs, and this is a vast -- this arrangement is a vast improvement over Marc Racicot's arrangement, not that there's -- you know, questioning Marc Racicot's integrity in dealing with it, but keeping that door closed while Ed Gillespie is doing it is a good -- and not even casting aspersions on Terry McAuliffe, but these people always have their fingers in the pie. That's -- that's who they are. We don't -- you know, and I'm not sure we'd be better, say, to have Tom DeLay running it because he's not a lobbyist. He certainly caters more to the business community and K Street than Ed Gillespie.
SHIELDS: Al, who's right here?
HUNT: Well, everybody, Mark.
HUNT: Ed is a very congenial and a very smart guy, and I think those people who are shocked that you have someone who's been a lobbyist as a party chairman are the same sort of people who were shocked that they were playing the piano in a house of ill repute. I mean, I'm sorry. There is a -- this is a connection that goes on all the time in this town, and I think Ed is perfectly suited for this job. I must also say I don't -- there's no evidence of Terry McAuliffe having done any lobbying while he's been DNC chair.
Final point I'd make is, that really, as talented as Ed is, the one thing that really doesn't matter much is who's the party chair when you control the White House. It matters when you don't control the White House.
SHIELDS: Al Hunt just made the key -- the key point. The only time it matters to be party chair is when your party doesn't hold the White House. And I do want to underline, in spite of looking by a lot of people, there have been no serious charges leveled against either Marc Racicot or Terry McAuliffe during their stewardships as national chairmen...
NOVAK: ... let me just say there have been previous chairmen in both parties who used that office to benefit their clients.
SHIELDS: Bob, you know, you've been around here longer...
SHIELDS: I'm tired of -- I'm tired of knocking Mark Hanna (ph). He's been dead too long.
SHIELDS: Coming up in the second half of THE CAPITAL GANG: Our "Newsmaker of the Week" is David Eisenhower, talking about his famous grandfather; "Beyond the Beltway" looks at rioting in the American heartland. And our "Outrages of the Week." That's all after the latest news headlines.
SHIELDS: Welcome back to the second half of CAPITAL GANG. I'm Mark Shields with the full GANG: Al Hunt, Robert Novak, Kate O'Beirne and Margaret Carlson.
Our "Newsmaker of the Week" is David Eisenhower. David Eisenhower, age 55. Residence: Berwyn, Pennsylvania. Religion, Episcopalian. Graduate of Amherst College and George Washington University Law School. A U.S. naval officer from 1970 through 1973. Political science department, the University of Pennsylvania since 1981 and author of best-selling "Eisenhower at War" published in 1986.
Al Hunt sat down with David Eisenhower earlier this week.
HUNT: The 61st anniversary of your grandfather being named supreme allied commander, and George Marshall passed over 366 senior officers to tap him. What did General Marshall see in Ike?
DAVID EISENHOWER, AUTHOR, "EISENHOWER AT WAR": Well, that's a good question, Al. The Pearl Harbor emergency produced a lot of ironic turns. So Dwight Eisenhower, beginning in late December, 1941, came into close daily contact with George Marshall. And in that compressed period under a great deal of pressure, Marshall was able to size Eisenhower up, as was President Roosevelt. The priority was going to be from day one, build-up in England and relegate the Far East to a secondary or supporting theater. And the MacArthur drama in the Far East threatened that priority. And Dwight Eisenhower, who had worked for Douglas MacArthur, knew him better than anybody in the world, and so he was the -- he was the man in Washington who knew how to handle MacArthur.
HUNT: The great triumph of D-Day has been widely celebrated. But was it the punishing and lengthy campaign in North Africa, especially the battle for Tunisia, that really formed and shaped Eisenhower as a commander?
EISENHOWER: That was the shakedown cruise. The Americans sustained 70,000 casualties taking North Africa. The idea was, the U.S. and the British forces would learn to work together. They would become seasoned, so to speak, in combat with the Germans and Italians in a secondary theater, where they could be confident of victory. And this preliminary period would prepare the U.S. Army for the ultimate, the supreme effort, which was the cross-channel invasion.
HUNT: Let's try to talk about some critical contemporary issues through the prism of General Eisenhower. What do you think he would have thought of the doctrine of preemption?
EISENHOWER: We have an administration in power now that insisted we're living in a new era, and so old doctrines don't apply. If you read the first chapter in the preamble of the U.N. charter, the concept of preventing threats arising to the peace, or whatever, is emblazoned in the charter of the United Nations.
HUNT: There's also the American way of war, which is talking about the grinding strategy of massive force that so devastated the Japanese and the Germans in World War II. But now, with spectacular advances in technology, some U.S. military planners say that that's a relic, that we're now -- we've transformed into a much faster, higher- tech, more precise military.
EISENHOWER: Al, you put your finger on what I think is the significance of this 61 years. They were up against an adversary who, in some respects, was superior to the coalition forces. We fought them on the basis of equality. The Germans did not have the production techniques that the Allies had, but they were more advanced in aeronautical engineering and science. They had -- they developed the jet first. Their tanks were far superior to our tanks. So this revolution in military affairs is something that is not only astonishing with the hindsight of 60 years, it is something that is startling to me. There has been an exponential advance in Western technology.
HUNT: Of all the contemporary political and military figures, whom would Eisenhower most relate to?
EISENHOWER: Boy, that's a good one. Would it be a Colin Powell? Would it be Schwarzkopf? Everybody I know who's -- and I've been around him -- Colin Powell walks away with the kind of feeling about the man...
HUNT: There's an Eisenhower-like quality.
EISENHOWER: ... that others have told me they felt being around my grandfather.
SHIELDS: Al Hunt, after your long discussions with David Eisenhower (UNINTELLIGIBLE) how do you think General Dwight Eisenhower would get along with civilian Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld?
HUNT: Mark, as his very charming grandson said, Ike was -- is most reminiscent of Colin Powell. Or Colin Powell is most reminiscent of Ike. I think there's no question in the Rumsfeld-Powell debate that Ike would have been a Powell man. He had tremendous appreciation for George Marshall because George Marshall supported his generals.
NOVAK: He would have gotten along with Rumsfeld because Ike got along with all the politicians. In fact, what he was -- during the Roosevelt administration, they thought he was a Democrat. In fact, during the Eisenhower administration, a lot of people thought he was a Democrat.
CARLSON: You know, David Eisenhower's also son-in-law of Richard Nixon, and he brought peace to the Nixon Library because Nixon's daughters were in a feud over the...
CARLSON: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and David Eisenhower helped that along, so -- he's a peacemaker.
O'BEIRNE: Well, General Tommy Franks certainly gets along with Don Rumsfeld, and I don't -- I think President Eisenhower, as a former general, is more apt to be drawn to fellow former generals. And look, he's an Army guy and Rumsfeld's a Navy guy.
SHIELDS: Coming up: "THE CAPITAL GANG Classic." The senior George Bush selects his 1992 political campaign team.
SHIELDS: Welcome back. Less than a year before his 1992 reelection context, President George Herbert Walker Bush named a new campaign team. He fired John Sununu, his chief of staff, and replaced him with Transportation Secretary Sam Skinner. He named Commerce Secretary Robert Mosbacher as campaign chairman and Republican pollster Robert Teeter as his campaign manager. THE CAPITAL GANG discussed this on December 7, 1991. Our guest was President Bush's former drug czar, William Bennett.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NOVAK: The least of the problems of this president was John Sununu. But his biggest problem is his economic policy team. I think this -- this president did not gain an inch this week in getting rid of Sununu. In fact, he may have failed some because I think Sam Skinner is -- is kind of bad news to the conservatives.
MARGARET WARNER, NEWSWEEK: This is a new machine. Bush has to provide the soul of a new machine. The other thing that I think is missing, even in the machine, is there's no real communications genius in the inner circle.
HUNT: It seems to me one plus here is that you now have a White House team that can work with the campaign team. And beforehand, that was a real problem. And in that sense, they really have made a significant start on the '92 campaign.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of the Republicans' great strengths is they have people like Bob Teeter, who's been in six presidential campaigns. He worked for a lot of other candidates, who knows the country a little bit, much better than the president knows.
WILLIAM BENNETT: The mistake would be for the president to focus on the campaign, rather than to focus on the presidency. I mean, you don't -- you don't get elected just to get elected again. You get elected to govern.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHIELDS: Al Hunt, how would you compare the personnel and planning of the senior George Bush's campaign with that of his son's we're seeing formed now?
HUNT: Mark, it's a year from now the economy and Iraq and the Middle East are going too poorly, Karl Rove and James Carville together couldn't reelect this president. If they're going well, THE CAPITAL GANG could run the campaign and he'd win.
SHIELDS: What! Kate O'Beirne.
O'BEIRNE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) new team. Who were those people?
O'BEIRNE: In contrast with his father, this president has an extremely well coordinated, tightly-knit group around him. If they have disputes, we sure don't hear about them. And it seems to me at the campaign, at the RNC and at the White House, you're going to have a team that's worked together before, and that's something his father -- so effectively. That's something his father never enjoyed.
CARLSON: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) one of the great deficits of this campaign is that there's not sufficient intrigue to keep us busy.
SHIELDS: Bob, what about the conservatives? They were -- they were -- feathers were ruffled in 1991. How are they today? Smooth?
NOVAK: Smooth? They're not smooth. They're always a little ruffled. They should be ruffled, you know? You should have pressure on them. But the idea that getting rid of John Sununu was going to solve the senior President Bush's problems was just absolutely ridiculous. He had Nick Brady as secretary of treasury, Al's friend, and Brady was just an absolute disaster. And...
HUNT: Bob Novak's my friend.
SHIELDS: There you go. That's the last word.
CARLSON: Are his feathers ruffled?
SHIELDS: I didn't check on the way in.
Next on CAPITAL GANG, "Beyond the Beltway." What is the source of racial violence in Benton Harbor?
SHIELDS: Welcome back. After the death in a crash of an African-American motorcyclist who was being pursued by white police officers, residents of poor, mainly black Benton Harbor, Michigan, rioted and burned buildings.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR CHARLES YARBROUGH, BENTON HARBOR, MICHIGAN: This doesn't do anybody not one bit of good, to keep tearing up where we live. CHIEF SAMUEL HARRIS, BENTON HARBOR POLICE: The things that are happening right now in Benton Harbor, that's 1 percent of the population.
REV. JESSE JACKSON, RAINBOW/PUSH COALITION: Some of us who are now concerned about the rioting should be concerned about the unemployment and about the school expulsion rate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHIELDS: Joining us now from Grand Rapids, Michigan, is Chris Christoff, state capital correspondent for "The Detroit Free Press," who has covered the situation in Benton Harbor. Thank you so much for coming in, Chris.
CHRIS CHRISTOFF, "DETROIT FREE PRESS": Thanks for asking.
SHIELDS: Chris, does the persistent 25 percent unemployment rate contribute to this climate of violence in Benton Harbor?
CHRISTOFF: Well, of course, nothing justifies the violence, but yes, of course, that kind of a -- that kind of long-term hopelessness certainly fueled it. And what -- what you ought to note is how long that situation has been that way. And it's probably higher than 24 percent. Among youth 21 and under, the unemployment rate is estimated to be at least 40 percent. And the thing is, it's been that way for years. In 1966, in the summer of '66, there was a riot, and community activists at the time talked about the root problems being joblessness and lack of recreation for young people. And here we are, how many years later, and they're saying the same thing. Only this time, what's adding to the fuel is a sense of desperation and anger and hostility toward what many black residents feel as an oppressive white-dominated criminal justice system, from the police on up to the prosecutors and judges.
SHIELDS: OK, Bob Novak?
NOVAK: Chris, in the 1960s, Professor Ed Banfield of Harvard said that he thought that most of the urban rioters were -- rioted for fun and profit. Since there was no looting, nothing much to loot in Benton Harbor, it was not for profit. But from your -- from your reporting, do you think these people were having a hell of a good time burning things down, that this was a pretty good recreation for a dull life?
CHRISTOFF: This was probably the best recreation a lot of these kids had had, maybe ever in their lives. You talk to people who were there, people who were attacked, and they talk about the smiles on their faces, the look of satisfaction. You had kids and young adults standing, lining the roads with large rocks they were holding in paper bags. This was on the second night of rioting, so obviously, they came prepared for the situation. They'd take the rocks out and they'd throw them at the police, at passers-by in cars, and they were laughing and smiling. They were having a good time.
SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson. CARLSON: Chris, the new governor, Jennifer Granholm, I believe has come to Benton Harbor. Is this a test of her new administration? And how did she do when she came there?
CHRISTOFF: In a way, it was a test. This is actually her first test of crisis management, if you will, even though it's not a major crisis. This is the first time she's been called into an emergency. She was criticized in some quarters for not showing up sooner. I don't think that's a fair criticism. They sent in the state police. And I'm going to tell you, I have never seen that many police in that small an area ever. And they did take control of it on the third night. Unfortunately, it took two nights for that to happen. She came in on Thursday. And if you know anything about this governor, this was a made-for-Governor Granholm event. She does very well in these kinds of, if you will, "feel your pain" sessions. And in her words, there was a lot of pain expressed in that session that she had with community leaders.
SHIELDS: Kate O'Beirne.
O'BEIRNE: Chris, as Margaret noted, the politicians have now shown up, and there's talk about more jobs and summer programs and policy on car chases. How many arrests have been made? And are they also pledging to fully prosecute the people who've done that to their neighbors in Benton Harbor?
CHRISTOFF: There were an estimated 15 arrests. There weren't that many arrests. And yes, the plans are to prosecute those involved. I don't -- I think that most of the charges were, you know, disorderly conduct or, in some cases, assault. There was even someone -- a young person was shot, and I'm not sure that they've apprehended the civilian who is believed to have shot him. I'm sure there will be prosecutions. Probably, people in that community are going to watch closely to see who's prosecuted and how that's carried out.
As for what the state can really do, the first question that came to everybody's mind is how are you going to pay for anything that you want to do? And the fact is that the state has pilot programs on education, on recreation, any number of things that they could probably shift from other areas to Benton Harbor without added cost. Many people said, you know, stereotypically, this was a cry for help in the community of Benton Harbor. Well, it was that and more. Did they get people's attention? This time, they certainly did. And I think some things probably will be done this time.
One of the things you have to always be concerned about in -- in a small community like this -- we're only talking about 12,000, 13,000 people, it's a small community, we're not talking about Chicago and L.A. or Detroit -- is that the local politics can get in the way of these kinds of things. And that's the one thing that I think the Granholm administration ought to be very careful of.
SHIELDS: Al Hunt.
HUNT: Chris, Jesse Jackson ventured to Benton Harbor. The local police chief, who we just saw a few moments ago, Sam Harris, was quite critical and saying, you know, We've had these problems (UNINTELLIGIBLE) beforehand. Any effect of the visit of Jackson or other outsiders?
CHRISTOFF: Well, he's come on Friday. Things have pretty much settled down. I think if he had come a day or two before, a lot of people feel that he would have fanned the flames more than put them out. But at this point, I -- it's probably not going to do much harm, certainly, and you know, for many people there, Jesse Jackson is a high-stature symbol, and it will mean something to them for him to come there. I mean, again, if people -- at least people who are serious about -- about the, if you will, root causes of what's happened there, they look up to someone like Jesse Jackson. They look up to the governor. They were glad to see her come there. You know, for the moment, I mean, this is some salve for them. Of course, what happens from now, what kind of concrete steps anybody takes is what people will be watching.
SHIELDS: Chris Christoff, thank you so much for being with us. You've been a terrific guest, and as a consequence, we know a lot more than we did about Benton Harbor.
HUNT: All right.
SHIELDS: The GANG will be back -- Thank you. The GANG will be back with the "Outrages of the Week."
SHIELDS: Now for the "Outrage of the Week." "The Daily Show's" Jon Stewart put it well. "Private First Class Jessica Lynch, her capture and subsequent rescue, made her a national hero. It also left her with broken limbs and spinal injuries. She risked and nearly lost her life fighting for her country," end quote. Now recovering, Jessica was drooled after by CBS News and its corporate parent, Viacom, offering a two-hour documentary, a book deal, a made-for-TV movie and an MTV special. This corporate bag of goodies is nothing less than checkbook journalism and an embarrassment to CBS News.
NOVAK: The Senate this week debated prescription drug subsidies as part of Medicare, but beneath the dull drones of senators were sounds of anger from the conservative Republican base. The trade-off was supposed to be badly needed, badly overdue Medicare reform, with private sector options, in exchange for drug subsidies. But there is no reform, only subsidies. Senator Teddy Kennedy has pulled another fast one on the Republicans. The GOP leadership promises to fix this in conference with the House. Want to bet?
SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson.
CARLSON: Mark, President Bush always insisted he was just waiting for science to weigh in before addressing global warming. Now his own scientists have weighed in, detailing what a critical problem global warming is. But that's not what the president wanted to hear, so like magic, it's disappeared from the EPA report. Earlier, Bush ignored a White House report alarmed about global warming he didn't like, while citing a whitewash by the oil industry, which he did like. Bush can fight efforts to deal with global warming if he wants. What he can't do is simply delete scientific conclusions he doesn't like. That's not playing fair.
SHIELDS: Kate O'Beirne.
O'BEIRNE: Senator John Kerry is firmly and famously in favor of a greater reliance on renewable energy sources, like the wind and the sun. But according to "The Hill" newspaper, Kerry isn't so sure that his tony friends and constituents in Nantucket should have their million-dollar views marred by whirling windmills. A proposed wind farm to help fuel those gourmet kitchens and all that moonlight outdoor lighting and air-conditioning has the liberal residents protesting and John Kerry noncommittal. You don't suppose his support for windmills is just so much hot air?
SHIELDS: Al Hunt.
HUNT: Mark, not too long ago, there was a creationist science fair heralded by the religious right. One of the winners was entitled quote, "Women Were Designed for Homemaking," end quote, purporting to show that God made women with a, quote, "lower center of gravity, making them more suited to carry groceries and laundry baskets," end quote, rather than participating in the workplace. This young scholar clearly has never met Margaret or Kate.
SHIELDS: This is Mark Shields saying goodbye for THE CAPITAL GANG. Coming up next, "CNN PRESENTS: SEEDS OF TERROR." At 9:00 PM, "LARRY KING WEEKEND, Diane Sawyer. And at 10:00, the latest news on CNN.
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Investigation; Nation's Roman Catholic Bishops Meet in St. Louis; Should Lobbyist Lead GOP?>