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Hitting Back in Baghdad

Aired November 13, 2003 - 16:30   ET


ANNOUNCER: CROSSFIRE. On the left, James Carville and Paul Begala; on the right, Robert Novak and Tucker Carlson.

In the CROSSFIRE: hitting back in Baghdad and trying to rebuild Iraq.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My administration is meeting the tests of our time.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: It is clear that the administration either did not have a plan or their plan is not working.

ANNOUNCER: Are there any alternatives?

Plus: sleepless in the Senate -- today on CROSSFIRE.



ANNOUNCER: Live from the George Washington University, James Carville and Tucker Carlson.



Today, President Bush pledged to make a break with the previous administration and actually solve problems, rather than pass them on to future generations. Of course, some problems, like Iraq, may take some time to solve. And yet some on the left are suggesting we should cut and run.

JAMES CARVILLE, CO-HOST: Yes, the president didn't want to leave all those surpluses to future generations. He wants to leave them deficits. Actually, the president is causing problems for the future generation. And Iraq is just one of them.

We'll debate our misguided strategy right after the best political briefing in television, our CROSSFIRE "Political Alert."

Recently, the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Tom Friedman reported that members of the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council, which is supposed to be using little things like writing a constitution, aren't even bothering to show up for work. That's right. The governing council, which we appointed, has 24 members, and only seven or eight attend them regularly -- meetings regularly.

Think about that. The people we put in charge of building the new Iraq aren't doing their work. But the soldiers getting shot at over there don't get to skip out on their jobs. I'd like to see one of our illustrious Republican guests explain to a 5-year-old child why his daddy has to show up for work in Iraq, but the people supposed to be leading Iraq don't.

CARLSON: Well, good for Tom Friedman for writing that column. I couldn't agree more. It's completely outrageous. And that it was gratifying to read in today's paper that the administration is planning doing on an end run around the governing council, which does seem remarkably lame.

CARVILLE: Who appointed the governing council? Was it appointed from Mars?

CARLSON: The United States government. And it turned out to be a failure.


CARVILLE: .. enough of a failure.

CARLSON: And they're smart enough


CARLSON: They're smart and sensitive -- sensible enough to understand, if it doesn't work, do something better. And that's what they're doing. Good for them.

CARVILLE: They're going to keep it in there because Chalabi hustled the whole crowd, all those clowns.

CARLSON: Really? I don't think the governing council is going to continue to run Iraq. That was in today's paper.


CARVILLE: Chalabi is not on there?


CARVILLE: Of course he is. He's their boy.

CARLSON: I don't even know what you're talking about, James.


CARVILLE: You wouldn't know about it, because you supported this war. Chalabi is -- is -- is a convicted guy who talked us into this war.

CARLSON: James, James, you're going to get into Halliburton any minute.



CARLSON: So let me stop before you embarrass yourself and move on to the next one.


CARLSON: California Governor Gray Davis ends his long and undistinguished political career this week, making way for governor- elect Arnold Schwarzenegger, who will replace him on Monday. Davis is leaving office the same way he entered it, in the lowest possible way.

In his final hours as governor, Davis has appointed nearly 200 people, most of them friends, many of them high-dollar contributors, to state jobs and judgeships; 16 Davis cronies will get seats on the state superior court. They will remain after Schwarzenegger arrives. But the rest, more than 180 of them, will likely be out of a job in just three days. In other words, the good news is, you get a brand new title in the executive branch of California's state government.

The bad news is, when the clock strikes midnight, you turn back into an ordinary political hack, sort of like Gray Davis himself.

CARVILLE: The one thing that Gray Davis never did, he never lied to get us into a war that he had no idea how to get us out of.



CARLSON: He's the governor of California.


CARVILLE: That's the one thing he never did. You know, he appoints a couple friends to office, that's not an outrage.


CARLSON: A couple of friends, James...

CARVILLE: That's not an outrage, like having -- appointing an Iraqi Governing Council that doesn't show up to work. People getting their legs blown off and blown away.

CARLSON: You know what? I'm sorry. That is such a stupid -- no offense.

CARVILLE: It's not stupid.

CARLSON: It's such a non sequitur.

CARVILLE: Gray Davis, he never lied to get us into a war. CARLSON: I can't shout you down.

CARVILLE: And he did win the election.

CARLSON: I can't shout you down, James. But, in fact, he's a governor, not a president. And he's an embarrassing governor.

CARVILLE: When I'm right, when I'm armed -- when I'm armed with the cloak of righteousness, I speak out.


CARLSON: You're armed with the cloak of insanity.

CARVILLE: I'll speak out.


CARLSON: And you're saying nothing that makes sense.


CARVILLE: No crosstalk.

Right now, Congress is working to finish major energy and spending bills. That means it's payoff time for Republican fat cat contributors. Today's "Washington Post" reports that Republicans are busy throwing a whole lot of anti-environmental language into every bill they see. They're working to make it tougher for states like California to keep the air clean, harder to protect our oceans, and easier for timber companies to cut down trees in our national forests.

What you got here is a basic cash-for-trash deal. The Republicans have been taking money from these big polluters hand over fist. And while they get the cash, America gets the trash. Republicans are a green party, all right. But it's a shame the only green they care about is the kind they put in their wallet.

CARLSON: I hate to give you another civics lesson, though it's my part-time job.


CARLSON: But California has its own environmental laws, independent of the federal government. Second, if it weren't for timber companies, huge portions of the Pacific Northwest and state of Maine would now be developed. Actually, timber companies, you should know, do a great job protecting the environment.

CARVILLE: If you would have read the story, you would have seen it had to do with lawn mower pollution that -- that -- that -- that...

CARLSON: Oh, lawn mower pollution.

CARVILLE: Yes. Actually, lawn mowers cause pollution. You didn't know that. (CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: But, yes, it's an engine that comes out.

CARLSON: I'm sorry. I'm sorry, James.


CARVILLE: And they gave -- and they gave all this stuff. But you like -- you like -- you like...

CARLSON: It's your classic stupid environmentalist argument.

CARVILLE: No, it's not.


CARLSON: Yes, it is. When India and China are polluting the world and burning fossil fuels...


CARLSON: ... environmentalists are beating up on lawn mowers.

CARVILLE: You're right. What we need is dirtier water. That's what we need. We need dirtier air and dirtier water. That's what America wants.


CARVILLE: And they need more money for Republicans.



CARLSON: James Carville has summed it up, as usual. If you could understand it, we'll send you a dollar.

Well, conventional wisdom has it that the subtext of every statewide political race in the American South is race, unfortunately. If that's true, it is hard to understand what exactly is going on in Louisiana these days, where there's a governor's race on Tuesday. The Democrat in that race, Kathleen Blanco, is the sitting lieutenant governor. She's likely to lose.

The Republican, Bobby Jindal, is 32 years old. He's never been elected to anything, and yet he's likely to win. Here's the interesting part. Not only is Jindal openly religious and an ideological conservative -- in some ways, he's a stereotypical member of the religious right -- but he's also an Indian-American. Jindal's parents came to the U.S. from the subcontinent.

In other words, Bobby Jindal is neither white nor black, and yet he's drawing wide support from both white and black voters, including the mayor of New Orleans, a black Democrat. It isn't often you hear good news about race relations, evidence that America is in fact moving closer to a colorblind society. Well, here's some evidence. Enjoy it.

CARVILLE: I think you were the same person that predicted that Mary Landrieu, another Democratic woman, was going to lose in Louisiana. While you just don't wait to see?

CARLSON: You're totally missing the point. I may be wrong. No, no, no, he may lose. That's fine.


CARLSON: I'm just saying, it's interesting that he's getting up to 15 percent of the black vote in polls. And I think it's great that here's finally a race in the South...


CARLSON: ... that's not determined by the same boring black and white divide.




CARVILLE: I think it's fine, just like what happened in Mississippi when they ran on the Confederate flag.


CARLSON: Accept good news when it comes. And this is good news.

CARVILLE: I'll take it.

CARLSON: As the attacks continue in Iraq, some are looking to bail out. Is retreat an option? Up next, Iraq, should we stay or go?

And over in the U.S. Senate, they're still talking after an all- nighter on the floor. We'll hear from one of the senators taking part in this talkathon in just a little bit.


CARLSON: Welcome back.

President Bush says the United States is in a struggle with indigenous guerrillas to win the support of ordinary Iraqis. The U.S. military is already intensifying its part of the struggle with Operation Iron Hammer. New explosions were heard in Baghdad just a few hours ago. The president is also working with his civilian administrator, Paul Bremer, on a plan that will encourage Iraqis to assume more responsibility for running their own country.

Do we hear any alternatives to these plans? We keep asking night after night. Well, perhaps today, we'll get some answers.

In the CROSSFIRE, former Democratic Congressman Tom Andrews. He's national director of the Win Without War Coalition. Also, Defense Policy Board member Ken Adelman, a former director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency.


CARVILLE: Mr. Adelman, we have been chastised by the president and by conservative and neocons and Pox Americanists and evening else that the news out of Iraq is actually excellent and that we're focusing on the bad. Let me show you some more excellent news out of Iraq that appeared today from the CIA.

"A new, top-secret CIA report from Iraq warns that growing numbers of Iraqis are concluding that the U.S.-led coalition can be defeated and are supporting the insurgents. The report paints a bleak picture of the political and security situation in Iraq and cautions that the U.S.-led drive to rebuild the country as a democracy could collapse unless corrective actions are taken immediately."

How much more good news can we be expecting, after we've been overwhelmed with that CIA report that was endorsed by Ambassador Bremer?

KEN ADELMAN, DEFENSE POLICY BOARD: I think some of the news is good and some of the news is bad. The security situation is a lot worse than we expected. And we really have to crack down on that.

And I think that the number of casualties or the number of disasters right after the war, when we predicted that the oil fields would explode, that there would be a food shortage, that there would be all kinds of flooding, that there would be all kinds of starvations, that has been better than expected. So it's mixed. But the security situation is worse than we wanted.

CARLSON: Congressman, "The Washington Post" ran a story today on the front page with evidence suggesting that the attacks, the insurgency we've witnessed over the past couple weeks, may be orchestrated by Saddam himself or remnants of his regime.

That means that, were we to follow the advice of many on the left and pull out directly or pull out with some sort of weak puppet government in place, we would essentially be turning the country back over to Saddam. That's an irresponsible position, isn't it?

TOM ANDREWS, NATIONAL DIRECTOR, WIN WITHOUT WAR COALITION: Listen, if you listen to CNN's own reporting and you listen to the analysis, the military analysis, today, a retired military officer said to your audience, look, the problem is, we have an insurgency.

With an insurgency, their main mode of operation is to provoke a reaction that turns the population against the occupying power. Well, what do we do? Well, when in doubt, bomb it out. Operation Iron Hammer is exactly the opposite approach that we want to be going in, because it takes the bait, empowers the insurgents, and takes the critical element of success in Iraq, a strong population that believes in and has confidence in our -- in what we're doing, and turns it against us.

That's the crisis that we're having right now. The report that came out -- the CIA report that came out today indicated that we need -- and it said rapid and dramatic change. We're losing the Iraqi people. You don't get rapid and dramatic change by bombing, bombing and bombing. You get rapid and dramatic change by changing the fundamental course of what we're doing in Iraq, we do what we should have done in the very beginning, and you turn this over to the United Nations.

ADELMAN: Oh, please.


ANDREWS: And you have -- allow a legitimate United Nations authority to govern the transition to a sovereign Iraqi people. You don't keep bombing.

ADELMAN: That's such a silly position. It's such a...


ADELMAN: James, let me finish. It's just such silly position.

It was a totally -- totally responsible position before, three weeks ago, the secretary general of the U.N. pulled out all the U.N. personnel. So if he's going to scram


ANDREWS: Why did he pull them out?


CARVILLE: What were his reasons for pulling them out?

ADELMAN: Because he didn't want them in there because the security situation is dangerous.


ANDREWS: Why is it dangerous?


ADELMAN: So why are we giving it to somebody who doesn't want it to succeed?


ADELMAN: The minute something blows up, he pulls it out. It's ridiculous. It's really

(CROSSTALK) CARVILLE: I'm going to do something I rarely do on this show.


CARVILLE: I think this is a serious thing. I want you, who is a smart guy, a guy that I like, to give me your opinion on what we should do differently.

ADELMAN: Two things. We should move towards greater sovereignty for the ministries in Iraq, so that not everything is run by the Bremer operation, the Iraqis have a real stake in their country.

And, No. 2, we have to put more Iraqis into uniform quicker, get them on the border with Syria, get them on the border of Iraq, do all -- we have 1,500 patrols every day by the Americans. Those have to be joint patrols by Americans and Iraqis. So we want to move this not to the U.N., that is scram operation, but to Iraqis, because it's their country, James.


ANDREWS: Right. The problem is, it's the United States



ANDREWS: Two simple points. Let me give you the problem with that. The problem is that we're going to benevolently have the United States hand over sovereignty, handpick those individuals that we want to put in power and think that they're


ADELMAN: No, I don't believe that.

ANDREWS: Oh, no. So who does it? Who does it? If it's not the United States that does it, who does it?

ADELMAN: Let me answer. You asked me.

ANDREWS: Who does it? Let me tell you. Let me tell you



ADELMAN: He wants to give me the question and the answer. OK.

ANDREWS: Right. So let me give you the floor in just a minute. But let me tell you what we need to do.

The only way this is going to work if those in power are seen as legitimate. The only way they're going to be seen as legitimate

(CROSSTALK) ADELMAN: That's what I was going to answer you. There has to be a vote.

ANDREWS: OK. The only way they're going to be seen as legitimate is if it's not a U.S. military occupation.


CARLSON: OK, wait, Congressman Andrews, hold on.


CARLSON: I understand. But you've said this 20 times on show.


ADELMAN: The U.N. scrammed there three weeks ago.

ANDREWS: They scrammed because


ANDREWS: They're getting killed under this situation.


CARLSON: I'm sorry. May I just ask the single question I've been wanting to ask you for a month? And that is this. Why do you think the rest -- your position appears to be, the rest of the world would like to help run Iraq, but they have been turned out by the unattractive personality and bad policies of our president. There's no evidence of that.

How many foreign troops do you think helped us in Afghanistan?

ANDREWS: They're turned off by our position.


CARLSON: In Afghanistan, how many foreign troops?

ANDREWS: They're turned off by the arrogance and the ignorance of insisting that we control that country with our iron fist. And they can come in and give us their troops.

CARLSON: But why didn't they...

ANDREWS: They can give us their money, but we insist on control. That's fundamentally wrong. And it's the reason we're in the trouble that we're in in Iraq.

CARLSON: Really?


CARLSON: OK. I'll answer it. Less than 4,000. They didn't help us in Afghanistan. They didn't offer to help us in Iraq. It's a fantasy you're talking about.

CARVILLE: Let me ask you a question. You talk about...



ADELMAN: It's ridiculous, after the U.N. scrammed, to say the U.N. should be in charge.

ANDREWS: They should have scrammed. Under these situations, of course they scrammed. Their people were getting killed, Ken. Ken, if people are getting killed, you get out.






CARVILLE: OK, let's go. I've got one. You say we should turn it over to Iraqis. We have a 24-member governing council. Only seven show up for the meetings. I mean, what -- come on, man. This is a -- this thing is a colossal failure. Give people out there some kind of a hope that we can turn this thing around. They don't even show up for the meetings.


ADELMAN: OK, two points to be made.


ADELMAN: Two points to be made. One is, I would turn more authority over to the Cabinet ministers, who have really something to do. And, B, you know, if they don't show up for the meetings, if they don't show up for work, you know what? You tell them goodbye.


CARVILLE: OK, we've got to tell you guys goodbye, because we've got to go.

CARLSON: Unfortunately, we're out of time.


CARLSON: Tom Andrews.

ANDREWS: Oh, my goodness. Time flies when you're having fun.

(CROSSTALK) CARLSON: I think we've solved the problem, luckily.


CARLSON: We all know senators like to talk. And so do we. But for more than 22 1/2 hours, they've really been getting a workout on the subject of judicial nominees.

Up next, Senator Arlen Specter joins us to talk about this latest talkathon, which brings us to today's question: Who holds the record for the longest filibuster in the Senate? Is it incredibly windy Senator Robert Byrd? Is it Senator Huey Long of Louisiana? Is it Senator Strom Thurmond?

We'll have the answer just ahead.



CARLSON: Before we get to our segment, the answer to our audience question, in which we asked, who has yapped the longest on Capitol Hill? Was it Senator Robert Byrd, or did it just seem like it? Was it Huey Long of Louisiana? Or was it Strom Thurmond? Eighty-six percent of our audience guessed correctly. It was, in fact, the late Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, not necessarily for a noble cause.

OK, up on Capitol Hill, senators are closing in on the 23rd hour mark and still talking. In order to draw attention to the Democrats' filibusters that are blocking some of President Bush's judicial nominees. Republicans scheduled 30 straight hours of debate. It lasts until midnight tonight.

Joining us from Capitol Hill is Republican Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania. He's a member of the Judiciary Committee.

CARVILLE: Senator Specter, why did President Clinton, who actually won the election, have fewer appointees confirmed at this point than President Bush, who actually lost the election? Aren't you guys whining about not very much?


SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R), PENNSYLVANIA: The fact is that President Clinton, in his first two years in office, had many, many more confirmations. Of course, he had a Democratic Senate at that time. But the record for...

CARVILLE: Doesn't President Bush have a Republican Senate?

SPECTER: Well, he had a Republican Senate in the last six years.

The fact is that it's been historical that when the party of the White House controls one and the Senate the other, that there are some difficulties. But it's never come to the extent of having a filibuster. This is unprecedented, the first time that it's ever happened, to have a filibuster of circuit judges. So it's something different.

CARLSON: Well, Senator Specter, your voice sounds hoarse. And I can understand why. Is this actually going to work? Is it all worth it? Do you think you'll get these judges through?

SPECTER: Well, it's going to work in terms of calling the attention of the American people to what is going on. And I think, if the American people understand the politicization of the judicial selection process, they won't like it.

And when I've been on the floor speaking on the two occasions when I've been there, I've asked the American people to let us know. We're supposed to be doing their work. And I think there is some inclination to say, a plague on both your houses. But once they really understand exactly what's going on, I think they'll say we really ought to work it out and there ought not to be filibusters.

CARVILLE: Senator, there have been more Americans killed in November in Iraq since any time since the war and President Bush declared combat operations over. Our deficit is spiraling out of control. Health care costs are rising at 14 percent a year.

And the average American looks at the United States Senate and they're spending 30 hours in a row talking about nothing but four judges that don't get confirmed. Don't you think that the average American looks at this and says, isn't there something better that you can do with your time?


SPECTER: We have plenty of time to talk about all the problems.

And this is an issue which is of great importance. We have a judicial crisis in many jurisdictions. People are waiting. There was a case in Cincinnati, eight years, a person was on death row. In another case, a woman had an employment discrimination matter, 15 months. She finally died before the case came up.

The federal judiciary is very, very important. And when you take a guy like Miguel Estrada, who is Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude at Columbia and magna cum laude at the Harvard Law School, "Harvard Law Review," and he's rejected, that's time. To spend 30 hours is a good investment, if we can get back on track.

CARLSON: Senator Arlen Specter, good luck tonight. Keep in mind, Mountain Dew has twice the caffeine and all the sugar. I hope you make it. And thank you very much.


CARVILLE: Thank you for coming, Senator.

CARLSON: Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, thanks.


CARLSON: The question is, who let the dogs out? You can dress them up, but you can't take them to vote. We'll show you some canine campaigners next.

We'll be right back.


CARLSON: Welcome back.

Well, finally, proof positive that Joe Lieberman's campaign has in fact gone barking mad. The campaign's Web site,, is soliciting pictures of -- and we're not making this up -- quote -- "pets who support Joe." Someone has to.

The idea comes from the campaign's official mascot, Fenway, a yellow dog Democrat if there ever was one. Endorsements have come in from Bucky, who we're told is dressed for the inauguration. Good luck, Bucky. Idggy may have been in the way when Lieberman's hat was tossed in to the ring. Sylvia and Topaz aren't dogs, but there's no doubt they are, in fact, Democrats.


CARVILLE: Well, one thing is, is the senator's dog Fenway?

CARLSON: Named Fenway.

CARVILLE: What do we know about Senator Lieberman? He wasn't happy about the Red Sox losing, I bet.

CARLSON: That's true. But they haven't won the World Series since 1918.


CARLSON: I have to say, the good thing about this poor Joe Lieberman, who I like, you know, as much as any other Democrat running for president.

CARVILLE: What's there not to like about him?

CARLSON: Yes. No, I mean, he's a perfectly nice guy. But he's not going to be president. And it's sad. This is probably more press than he's gotten this -- probably this month.

CARVILLE: Well, I don't know. Let's give him a chance.

But I'll tell you one thing it shows. It shows the guy's got a sense of humor. But they've got to do something for these cat lovers, because there's a lot of cat lovers out there.

CARLSON: Actually...

CARVILLE: We have dogs and cats in our (CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: As a dog lover, some of those dogs looked very uncomfortable to me dressed up in Joe Lieberman-for-president paraphernalia.


CARVILLE: When I call my dogs, I call, hey, che-che (ph). And that's what he says about the dog. That's how I call my dogs.

CARLSON: James, I can't even imagine what dinnertime at your house must be like.


CARVILLE: I'm telling you, huh? Well, I'll tell you what. We're having a dog of a time.


CARLSON: OK. Well, on the note, we're going to call PETA.

CARVILLE: All right.

From the left, I'm James Carville. And that's it for Carville.

CARLSON: From the right, I'm Tucker Carlson.

Join us again tomorrow, Friday, for another edition of CROSSFIRE.

"WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" starts right now.

Have a great night.



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