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CNN CAPITAL GANG
Should Pro-Choice Pols be Denied Communion? 'Mission Accomplished' 1 year later; Gadhafi Makes First European Visit In Decades
Aired May 1, 2004 - 19:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: Live from Washington, THE CAPITAL GANG.
MARK SHIELDS, HOST: Welcome to THE CAPITAL GANG. I'm Mark Shields, with the full CAPITAL GANG: Al Hunt, Robert Novak, Kate O'Beirne and Margaret Carlson.
Today is the first anniversary of President Bush's declaration of the end of combat in Iraq.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. EDWARD M. KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: A year ago this Saturday, President Bush dressed up in a flight suit, flew out to the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln and declared "mission accomplished" in Iraq. Our mission was far from accomplished then, and it's far from accomplished now.
GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A year ago, I did give the speech from the carrier saying that we had achieved an important objective, that we had accomplished a mission, which was the removal of Saddam Hussein.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHIELDS: In war-torn Fallujah, Iraqi security forces took over from U.S. Marines. Meanwhile, Arab countries reacted with rage to pictures of United States soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: I share a deep disgust that those prisoners were treated the way they were treated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHIELDS: Prospective Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry delivered a major speech on Iraq policy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We must create a stable and secure environment in Iraq, and that will require a level of forces equal to the demands of the mission. To do this right, we have to truly internationalize both politically and militarily.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHIELDS: Bob Novak, is the situation in Iraq on the brink of becoming a total political disaster for President George W. Bush?
BOB NOVAK, CAPITAL GANG: Well, I think if it continues like it has this month, it's going to be very bad. This is the big thing -- his big impediment on getting reelected is this war in Iraq and how it's doing. Now, I think bringing in the Iraqi general to run the militia in Fallujah is a step in the right direction, but I don't know what's going to happen there. I don't think it is like Vietnam, where you couldn't see light at the end of the tunnel. I think this is a -- it's a doable situation.
Now, let me just say a word about Senator Kerry's speech. Senator Kerry -- it was a very mild speech, unlike all the bloviating that's been going on all year on -- on Iraq. I don't think it's going to satisfy the Deaniacs and the people who backed Howard Dean. And all he says is, we're going to do the same thing, except we're going to bring in international forces. Lots of luck, John.
SHIELDS: Kate O'Beirne, I want you to address that, but I also want you to address those pictures and what the fall-out from that are going to be and that -- to me, it's a potential disaster and land mine.
KATE O'BEIRNE, CAPITAL GANG: Mark, it is so despicable and such a shame that a handful of American soldiers can damage the -- the well-earned reputation of tens of thousands of American soldiers. And the investigation by the military has been going on since March, as soon as they realized that this had happened. I don't know who leaked these pictures, but the fact of them could easily now cost American lives, despite what an isolated example it was.
SHIELDS: Make the task more difficult in Iraq?
O'BEIRNE: Absolutely! Absolutely, unfortunately. And it's so terribly unfair, as I said, given how the American military, to their credit, operate.
About the Iraqi situation -- it strikes me, when you look back at the "mission accomplished" a year ago, that what's going on in Iraq is probably somewhere between what the administration anticipated would be the case this year and the relentlessly bleak picture that the media's portraying. It's somewhere in there, I think.
Will he be damaged politically? Well, the polls, of course, are showing the public's increasingly worried. But in order to capitalize on that, John Kerry -- the public has to decide John Kerry could do a better job. And based on his prescription for what to do in Iraq, which is, frankly, more of the same and let's keep trying to do things we haven't been lucky with -- haven't been successful doing -- U.N. and NATO -- I think it's -- I think it's going to be very hard for John Kerry to convince people that he has the answer.
SHIELDS: Al Hunt, the case has been made that if the post-war policy had been as well-planned as that event was in San Diego, where they turned the ship at sunset, "mission accomplished," perfect visual, president flying in, that Iraq would be a different place today.
AL HUNT, CAPITAL GANG: Well, I'm afraid they spent less time in the post-war planning. I agree with almost everything Bob said, except the fact I don't think it's going to get better. I think it's actually going to get worse. And if this were a policy that were working, those pictures of those tortured Iraqi prisoners would just be a blip. Bad things happen. Very few people -- Kate's right -- have engaged in it. But because this policy is -- is so -- is so -- is in such dire straits today, it reinforces in that region the idea that Americans are occupiers and oppressors, and that is really, really quite dangerous.
On the presidential politics level, Mark, I know it's a zero-sum game, but I see this as a threat to both candidates. For Bush, you -- and you know Karl Rove is going to be making the decisions now. They're going to sit back and they're going to say, My God, how the hell do we get out of this mess so four or five people aren't dying in October? And I think they've already decided to cut. Now they're figuring out a politically palatable way to run.
For John Kerry, however, though, the specter of Ralph Nader is much bigger than it was only a month ago because Ralph's got a simple -- a simple solution. I think, by contrast, Kerry's -- I think Kerry gave a good speech. It was (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Ralph says, Let's get 'em home. Let's bring 'em home. And that's much more of a threat than we thought it was a couple months ago.
SHIELDS: Well, and Margaret, there's real political support going for that, if we read "The New York Times"/CBS poll this week, that support for the war has really dropped through the floor.
MARGARET CARLSON, CAPITAL GANG: It has -- it hasn't been so much reflected in Bush's favorability going down, and I think that's because Kerry is not strong enough to look like a viable alternative to a lot of people who now see the war as something they don't know why we got into and don't know how we're going to end it. It's good that the Iraqi brigades are helping out in Fallujah, but so far, any time the Iraqi forces have come against hostile fire, they either turn and run or switch to the other side. So they're yet to be tested there.
When the sweets and flowers didn't greet us and we found out there was no plan for how to secure Iraq, it's been downhill ever since. And we've learned that still, the administration has not sent the armored tanks, that the -- that the troops are there without the right protection, after all this time. And they've tried to blame it on Kerry for some procedural vote on the money, when it is the executive office of the Pentagon that hasn't done it!
NOVAK: That's propaganda, Margaret! They've got the -- the...
CARLSON: They do not have the equipment!
NOVAK: They do have -- they do have the equipment. I want to just one thing to -- Al is a -- was a good -- great reporter in his day. He still is a good reporter.
HUNT: Is there going to be a "but" here?
NOVAK: And I -- no, there's no "but" at all. I just want to know if -- when you say they're going to cut and run, is that -- is that just your -- are you getting that from a medium, a -- just let me ask the question first -- a seance, or have you done some hard reporting? Have you talked to somebody in the administration, and they said, Al, we're going to cut and run?
HUNT: Bob, they've already cut. That's what they did with Brahimi. They've turned it over, the political transformation, to the U.N., the hated U.N. But you know what really is disturbing is when we...
NOVAK: You didn't answer my question!
HUNT: I did answer your question.
NOVAK: No, you didn't.
HUNT: You know, I'll tell you afterwards, Bob, since you couldn't hear it. What's really disturbing -- the CNN/"USA Today" Gallup poll of Iraqis this week, huge poll, by 71 to 19 percent, they say the U.S. are occupiers, not liberators. That's really bad. Two thirds of the Shias and -- and Sunnis over there say the U.S. ought to leave immediately, which I think would be a disaster. And you know what they want? They want a theocracy. They want a government -- and that -- boy, that's why it's not going to get better.
NOVAK: And 80 -- 80 percent of them are -- are glad that -- that Saddam Hussein is gone.
HUNT: Yes, that's the past.
O'BEIRNE: And the majority allows that if the U.S. leaves, it'll -- there'll be terrible violence. So they really seem deeply conflicted...
CARLSON: ... is that window during which the Americans could have brought security to the Iraqi people and won their hearts and minds seems to have passed by.
SHIELDS: Last word...
CARLSON: And by the way, there are no...
SHIELDS: Tanks. The tanks...
CARLSON: They tanks are not there, Bob.
SHIELDS: ... are not there. That's absolutely right. THE GANG of five we'll be back with historic testimony by the president and the vice president -- together.
SHIELDS: Welcome back.
President Bush and Vice President Cheney met behind closed doors with the independent 9/11 commission at the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: I'm glad I did it. I'm glad I took the time.
If we had something to hide, we wouldn't have met with them in the first place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHIELDS: That appearance was part of a busy week for Dick Cheney, including a speech at Missouri's Westminster College, where he accused Senator John Kerry of being condescending to U.S. allies in Iraq.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Senator Kerry calls these countries, quote, "window dressing." They are, in his words, "a coalition of the coerced and the bribed." I am aware of no other instance in which a presumptive nominee for president of the United States has spoken with such disdain of active fighting allies of the United States in a time of war.
KERRY: There's a Supreme Court case trying to figure out who Dick Cheney met with in order to put the energy policy of our country together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHIELDS: Al Hunt, what was the political fall-out of this Bush- against-Cheney performance -- the Bush-Cheney performance at the commission...
HUNT: It wasn't against the...
SHIELDS: No, I'm sorry.
SHIELDS: No, I was thinking of -- it was Bush and Kerry there.
HUNT: Not very much, Mark. I don't think any bipartisan commission report is going to make the Bush administration look very good because they weren't very good on terrorism prior to 9/11. But this election's not going to be waged over what you did in 2001. I can't, however, understand why Dick Cheney wants to have a debate about the coalition. I mean, 90 percent of the casualties are Americans over there. Democrats increasingly think that Dick Cheney has gone from being a slight positive for the president to a slight negative. And I think that's why, increasingly, in their running mate deliberations, they are asking the question, Who can best take on Cheney?
SHIELDS: Interesting analysis, Bob Novak.
NOVAK: See if I can understand. Because he's a negative, you find who can take him on.
HUNT: More vulnerable.
NOVAK: I try to think about...
HUNT: I try to explain these things.
NOVAK: The interesting thing is Cheney is performing the role of a vice president, which is to be the hatchet man against the other -- opposing presidential candidate. It's been done for years, and he's making attacks on Kerry. That's the way politics works, Al. Now, the interesting thing, I thought, is that the president is not supposed to answer -- the presidential candidate is not supposed to answer back and say, Gee, he's -- he didn't reveal who's on the -- on the task force on -- on energy. I think Kerry has got to realize he does -- somebody should answer every -- every charge that Kerry -- that Cheney makes, but it shouldn't be John Kerry.
SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson?
CARLSON: There's one historic thing that came out of the commission, which is that the president, who rarely criticizes anybody on his team, was critical of John Ashcroft for putting on the Web site and for attacking a member of the commission, Jamie Gorelick. He was wrong on the facts. She did not build any wall. And he was wrong on the politics, in that John Ashcroft's Justice Department kept that policy in effect.
The buddy movie, you know, is passing by. I don't think it's going to matter one way or the other that they...
SHIELDS: The buddy movie -- Dick and -- Dick and George?
HUNT: ... Dick and George together -- that they testified together. And the great gift that Bush has is he then came out and made it seem like it was his idea to have a chat with the commission.
SHIELDS: Kate, I mean, the president -- for a guy who's got this reputation of being strong and staunch and stalwart -- he was against the commission. Then he -- then he (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- against Condi Rice even testifying, then she testified in public, against -- going for an hour himself, and that's all, and that was it. Only two members of the commission. Then it's everybody, and then he's -- Margaret's right. He's just saying, Hey (UNINTELLIGIBLE) hell of a thing, a lot of fun, really worked.
O'BEIRNE: I can see how frustrated you all must be because he does get -- he does get away with it. You wonder whether or not he induces his critics, you know, to, what, raise the call for Condi Rice to come up there and testify under oath? Oh, OK. And then she winds up comporting herself beautifully. And I suspect, had that session with the 9/11 commission been televised, it would have shown definitively who is the subordinate and who's the -- who's in charge within the Bush-Cheney team because it's clearly George Bush.
SHIELDS: This back-and-forth about the medals and the ribbons and all of that...
NOVAK: I thought we discussed that last week.
SHIELDS: Well, but -- we did, but (UNINTELLIGIBLE) kept alive -- we kept it alive, I mean, what's -- president's closest adviser was on the weekend shows raising the same thing.
CARLSON: Well, you look at when Karl Rove goes at the heart of what's great about Kerry, which is that he served in Vietnam...
O'BEIRNE: It's not...
CARLSON: ... bravely...
O'BEIRNE: What John Kerry's trying to do -- Dick Cheney in that speech criticized John Kerry's voting record on national security. Because John Kerry can't defend his voting record for 20 years on national security, he tries to morph any such criticism into an attack of his service record in Vietnam, which is not what Dick Cheney has ever done. But his anti-war record is becoming increasingly hard to reconcile with his...
HUNT: Just a second! They leaked...
CARLSON: Wait! Dick Cheney...
HUNT: They leaked this week, and it was reported in the -- they leaked a 1971 interview he gave, in order to try to get this whole issue going about his medals and ribbons. This was not...
SHIELDS: They shopped it around.
HUNT: And the idea that Karl Rove is not aware of this...
CARLSON: And Dick Cheney killed as many weapons programs as John Kerry ever voted against. NOVAK: Yes. Yes. It's -- yes, that's really stupid, Margaret. I mean -- the whole idea that...
SHIELDS: If we're going to start saying "stupid"...
NOVAK: But I mean, the idea -- I mean, it's such Democratic propaganda that -- that Cheney killed weapons programs, when we had Kerry voting against...
CARLSON: These were votes!
NOVAK: ... all these...
CARLSON: These were votes, not executive actions!
NOVAK: I've been trying to get back to the 9/11 commission. What I'm really amused at is Jamie Gorelick is such a part of this whole little inner circle, Democratic inner circle in this city, that everybody gets outraged when they say this is a conflict of interest. She shouldn't be on that commission! There's no place -- she has no business on that commission when she was making decisions that ought to be the subject of investigation!
HUNT: I'm stunned to know that Jim Thompson...
CARLSON: They are a subject of investigation!
HUNT: ... Jim Thompson, Slade Gorton and Tom Kean are members of this little Democratic inside circle. They're all Republican office holders!
NOVAK: ... Stockholm syndrome!
HUNT: No. You know what that is, Bob? They're men of integrity, and they're telling it like it is, rather than...
HUNT: ... rather than taking the RNC talking points!
SHIELDS: You know what you are? You're the Oslo discords, that's what you are!
SHIELDS: I'll say one thing, though. Let's not give George Bush too much credit for criticizing John Ashcroft because 24 hours after the president criticized it, the knock on Jamie Gorelick was still on the Department of Justice Web site.
CARLSON: The Web site!
SHIELDS: So you question...
NOVAK: And it should be!
SHIELDS: ... how genuine the president was in his outrage...
SHIELDS: ... or how forceful the president is. And we'll get to that later.
O'BEIRNE: It's not a knock, it's...
SHIELDS: Next on CAPITAL GANG, the gratitude of Arlen Specter.
SHIELDS: Welcome back.
In Pennsylvania's Republican primary, Senator Arlen Specter won renomination against conservative congressman Pat Toomey's challenge in a photo finish after strong endorsements by George W. Bush and the president's own campaign manager.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: I can count on this man. See, that's important. He's a firm ally when it matters most.
KEN MEHLMAN, BUSH CAMPAIGN MANAGER: At the end of the day, he is a reliable ally to the president.
SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R), PENNSYLVANIA: I thank the president for his unwavering support.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHIELDS: But at a news conference the very next morning, Senator Specter declared, quote, "I intend to retain my independent voice. The people of Pennsylvania have not elected me to be a rubber stamp. I don't give anybody a blank check, including the president of the United States," end quote.
Kate O'Beirne, politically, was George Bush rolled in Pennsylvania by Arlen Specter?
O'BEIRNE: No, Mark. I think the president and Senator Rick Santorum, the other Republican senator from Pennsylvania, got exactly what they knew they'd get. Their rationale was, only a liberal Republican like Arlen, who doesn't predictably and loyally support the president, can get elected in Pennsylvania. That was their whole rationale for supporting Arlen Specter. We'll see now if that is true in November. He barely held on himself against this underfunded challenger. And now the question will be -- some percentage of conservatives in November in Pennsylvania will never vote for Arlen Specter. The question is, how large a percentage is that?
SHIELDS: Bob Novak, was George W. Bush rolled by...
SHIELDS: ... Arlen Specter.
NOVAK: Absolutely! The line at the White House is, Oh, we knew he was going to do that. But they didn't know that -- that he was going to be Arlen squared and come and give them a slap in the face after he saved him. There's no question Arlen Specter would have lost that primary if it was not for the president, and for Rick Santorum. There's absolutely no question about it. If the president had been a principled conservative, he would have -- he would have backed Toomey. Toomey would have won, probably won the general election. And now, the interesting -- the interesting thing to me is that Rick Santorum is in trouble with his conservative constituency. He went to the Catholic prayer breakfast the other morning, and when he got up to speak Wednesday morning, certain people walked out. They said they were leaving anyway. People said, yes, it's a coincidence.
SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson?
CARLSON: Well, Bush got what he wanted, which is Specter winning the primary. But you know, it was embarrassingly quick, the way Specter came out the next morning. I mean, he should have at least waited a day. But you know, he...
SHIELDS: An indecent interval!
CARLSON: Like most politicians do. But you know, look at -- he won by something like 16,000 votes, and that's with all the help Bush could give him and Santorum's help. So Specter's going to draw from the same voters that Joe Hoeffel draws from in Philadelphia and Montgomery County and the liberal suburbs. So it's by no means, even though Specter...
O'BEIRNE: With the fact -- with the fact...
CARLSON: ... Specter fatigue is very high and...
NOVAK: That might have been a mistake doing what he did, politically.
CARLSON: So -- there you go.
SHIELDS: Al Hunt, two quick questions...
CARLSON: Thanks for interrupting me. SHIELDS: First of all, Al, Rick Santorum has said time and again the most important issue -- moral issue of our time is the elimination of abortion and the -- its practice being stopped legally, and Arlen Specter, of course, is ardently pro-choice. Do you think this will hurt him on a permanent basis with pro-life conservatives?
HUNT: I'm not about to touch that. I'll yield to Bob and Kate on that.
HUNT: Let me just...
SHIELDS: What about Joe Hoeffel, a Democrat?
HUNT: Let me just say this, though. I thought it was great to see the old Arlen back. I thought he showed tremendous growth Tuesday night. I thought he really -- he's got (UNINTELLIGIBLE) but it's great to see the old Arlen that we love so much, Kate, back.
Let me tell you something. I think Joe Hoeffel may not be the strongest candidate that's ever run...
HUNT: ... but Arlen Specter had -- had showed great vulnerabilities this week. This is a 50-50 race right now, if -- and this is a big "if" -- Governor Ed Rendell, one of our favorites...
SHIELDS: Democratic governor.
HUNT: ... a long-time buddy of Arlen Specter -- if he's willing to actively go out and raise money for Joe -- for Joe Hoeffel, which'll help Ed Rendell if he does, then I think there is, as I say, at least a 50-50 shot...
NOVAK: I wouldn't bet on that.
HUNT: ... that Hoeffel can beat -- Hoeffel can beat -- if Rendell raises the money...
NOVAK: How would you bet?
HUNT: ... I think I would be Hoeffel.
NOVAK: How would you bet...
HUNT: I don't know because you know something? He's a long-time buddy of Arlen Specter, but Ed Rendell's future may ride on this, too.
NOVAK: See, the thing is, Arlen Specter has a reputation of being a very shrewd and smart, savvy pol. I think this might have been a mistake to do this -- this -- this so quickly because I think he really -- I think there's a lot of conservatives said, Well, he is a Republican, we'll go with him. But I think he might have really alienated them.
O'BEIRNE: There's also talk now of some right-wing third party candidate getting on the ballot in November. Now, even if the person's a kook, it'll give people who are going to vote for George Bush someplace else to go who are not going to vote for Arlen Specter.
SHIELDS: Will the Santorum thing hurt him?
NOVAK: I think it hurts him with the -- with the conservatives. I've talked to a lot of conservatives. They're outraged now because it wasn't just that he said, Gee, I'm for Arlen Specter.
NOVAK: You'd expect that. He had people at the precinct level who were turning votes in the -- at the precincts on election day.
HUNT: I've never...
CARLSON: Right, and going after his fellow conservative.
HUNT: I'm not...
O'BEIRNE: He has a lot of explaining to do. And if the rationale was only a liberal Republican like Arlen Specter can win, well, then, how did Rick Santorum get elected in Pennsylvania?
CARLSON: The other thing...
O'BEIRNE: Which of course, he easily did.
CARLSON: Conservatives wanted to treat -- wanted to teach a lesson, and they didn't get to teach it, so...
HUNT: I've never defended Rick Santorum before, but Arlen Specter did help him a lot when he was first -- when he was first elected.
NOVAK: Oh, gag me with a spoon!
HUNT: IT's called reciprocity, Bob.
SHIELDS: Did you hear that, "Gag me with a spoon"?
SHIELDS: Last word.
CARLSON: Our Valley...
SHIELDS: That's it.
CARLSON: Our very own...
SHIELDS: Thank you...
CARLSON: ... Valley girl!
SHIELDS: This is not "Masterpiece Theater." There's still much more still ahead in the second half of THE CAPITAL GANG. John Kerry and the Catholic church is our "Sidebar" story of the week. "Beyond the Beltway" looks at Moammar Gadhafi's return to Europe with CNN's Sheila MacVicar joining us from London. And our "Outrage of the Week." That's all after these messages.
WHITFIELD: THE CAPITAL GANG will continue in a moment, but first these headlines.
In Seattle, Washington, hundreds of pro-gay protesters disrupted religious leaders leading a massive rally against gay marriage. Today is May Day, for marriage event, drew as many as 25,000 people to Seattle's baseball stadium.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter is recovering from minor injuries suffered in an assault. A court spokesman said Souter was jogging last night in Washington as two men attacked him. Robbery apparently was not the motive. Police say it appears to be random violence. Souter is said to be doing just fine.
Dirty play on the ice, American Hockey League player Alexander Perezhogin was suspended indefinitely this stick swinging incident. It happened during last night's game between the Hamilton Bulldogs and the Cleveland Barons.
And Connecticut Governor John Rowland is one step closer to being impeached. A special committee investigating allegations of bribery and bid-rigging by Rowland are asking its lawyers to draft an article of impeachment against the governor. At the beginning of the year, the three-term Republic governor admitted he lied about who paid for renovations to his summer home.
That's what's happening at this hour, I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Now back to more CAPITAL GANG.
SHIELDS: Welcome back to the second half of THE CAPITAL GANG. I'm Mark Shield with the full gang. That's Al Hunt, Robert Novak, Kate O'Beirne and Margaret Carlson.
Last weekend a Vatican official, Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria, said Roman Catholic politicians who support abortion should be denied holy communion. On Thursday, a St. Louis radio interviewer asked Senator John Kerry on statements he said were made by Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis and an unnamed Vatican official that they would not serve him communion.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: First of all, that was not, I believe, a Vatican position. I did believe there is some anonymous source. No one in church in America has officially made any statement at all. And I'm going to continue to do exactly what I'm doing today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHIELDS: Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, D.C., who heads a U.S. bishops' task force on this question said this week in an interview that the abortion issue may be primary but added: "There are many issues that have to be considered. There are probably people who are with us on one issue but against us on many other issues."
Margaret Carlson, what's going on with the Catholic Church and John Kerry in the election year?
CARLSON: Well, I think John Kerry's a Democrat and the cardinal must be a Republican.
NOVAK: Which cardinal?
CARLSON: Arinze. You know, unless the cardinal wants to excommunicate John Kerry I think he's allowed to receive the sacraments under canon law in the Catholic Church. The pews are going to empty out if the Catholic Church is going to start enforcing their opinions on Catholics.
What if you disagree on the death penalty, certainly on birth control, all of these other things? When I was growing up I remember my grandmother couldn't go to communion because my Irish grandfather, who liked to take a drink, had left. And all of us kids wondered, and it was such an awkward, terrible situation.
Then after Vatican II my grandmother could go to communion. And I thought it was a wonderful. And this is not a very Christian thing for this Catholic cardinal to be doing.
O'BEIRNE: The bishops are responsible for John Kerry's immortal soul, not for John Kerry's career. John Kerry is perfectly to vote however he pleases. His bishops are perfectly free to discipline church members who defy church teaching. It's a church that he freely chose to belong to.
And what they have to figure out now is, he calls himself a faithful Catholic, are they going to continue to permit him to so define himself when he is not in good standing with the church. His own bishop, who's authority he has freely decided to accept, has said such a politician should not present himself for communion, shouldn't dare do so. That means he's not in good standing. And that's his obligation as bishop.
CARLSON: I hope my bishop doesn't...
O'BEIRNE: That's a bishop's obligation. It's a great sin in their mind.
SHIELDS: Al Hunt, just one thing, and that was, what had been operative sort of structure for this whole debate was laid down by Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, the archbishop of Chicago, late Cardinal Bernardin, who said, our moral, political and economic responsibilities do not stop at the moment of birth, and those who defend the right to life of the weakest among us, must equally visible in support of the quality of life of the powerless among, the old and the young, the hungry and the homeless, the undocumented immigrant and the unemployed worker. Which is a larger perspective.
O'BEIRNE: Right, right. Fundamentally they aren't doing that (ph).
SHIELDS: It's a larger perspective.
HUNT: Mark, Mark, the bishops have actually put out a statement on Catholics and politics every four years. They put it out just a couple of months ago. Cardinal McCarrick reflected that. And it says, and I quote: "We do not instruct Catholics on how they should vote by endorsing or opposing candidates. We hope voters will examine candidates on the full range of issues."
This is an attempt by a few right wing Catholic leaders, like the archbishop of St. Louis, to hijack an election. If you're going to go and deny Senator Kerry communion because of his position on abortion or stem cell research, then it only follows that you're going deny Senator Santorum communion because of his position on the death penalty, which also violates...
HUNT: Wait a minute, no, I haven't finished yet. I think what is striking here, Mark, is the stunning silence of all the other bishops, because they don't want this issue.
NOVAK: The Catholic Catechism says that capital punishment is acceptable under extreme circumstances. The pope's encyclical of 1995 says that capital punishment is acceptable. So this is a charade and a canard to say that there's an equivalency between capital punishment and abortion.
Secondly, when -- Cardinal McCarrick is a very popular fellow, he's very astute politically. But what he has done, and it has upset many Catholic laymen, they don't want to attack the Cardinal because he's a very popular person, they have given Senator Kerry cover by saying, well, there are all kinds of issues. What are the other issues? I don't know of the other issues.
And finally, this is a matter of the church -- of politicians who are going against the church doctrine on abortion. What should they say, should they say, he is not just another Protestant? He should be given communion? That's...
SHIELDS: Cardinal Bernardin said what the others were. They're how we treat the poorest among us. And Cardinal McCarrick put it very clearly. I would just say there's prudential judgment here the bishops here that they have to consider, and that is that Archbishop Philip Hannon of New Orleans entered the race in 1996, Mary Landrieu in the Senate, and said couldn't imagine some Catholic could vote for Mary Landrieu given her position being on pro-rights on abortion. And the revolt was that she got re-elected, enough pro-life Democrats felt that they weren't going to be stampeded by the bishop.
CARLSON: Senator Mikulski and Senator Reed, there are others that will have to be...
O'BEIRNE: Governor George Pataki, there are Republicans who should face the same thing from...
NOVAK: Don't you think there's a difference between saying, which I think is very bad, to say, you shouldn't vote for somebody, you should vote for somebody, and saying that he is not in a position to receive communion. Which is the position -- that is the power of his bishop.
And Al, who can attack anybody who disagrees, which is right wing, he doesn't the archbishop of St. Louis from the man in the moon, says he's right wing. It isn't a matter of politics. It isn't a matter of who you vote for. It's a matter of church doctrine.
HUNT: Well, you say there are a lot of Catholics who are very upset with Cardinal McCarrick, they may be the Catholics that you cavort with, but I'll tell you, there are probably a lot more Catholics who are with Cardinal McCarrick.
NOVAK: I'm talking about the Catholics who go to Mass.
HUNT: Oh, I see, those aren't good Catholics who have a difference of opinion with you.
CARLSON: You want to deny me communion?
SHIELDS: Cardinal McCarrick is my cardinal...
NOVAK: I don't deny you anything, Margaret.
SHIELDS: Cardinal McCarrick is my cardinal and I think he makes sense. And I go to Mass. Coming up on "THE CAPITAL GANG Classic," "mission accomplished" a year ago today.
SHIELDS: Welcome back, a year ago today, President Bush made a tailhook landing on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and addressed the crew.
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GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.
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SHIELDS: CAPITAL GANG discussed this on May 3, 2003.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM THE CAPITAL GANG, MAY 3, 2003)
CARLSON: It was so well-done, and even though we knew that everything was choreographed down to catching that fourth hook on the ship, it was still a pretty stirring tableau. Cecil B. DeMille couldn't have done better.
NOVAK: That was a great photo op on the aircraft carrier. And the Democrats I've talked to try to think of Joe Lieberman in an Air Force jumpsuit and they can't quite make it.
SHIELDS: Well, it was just as unlikely for some of us to see George W. Bush in that position.
CARLSON: He grew into that.
HUNT: It was fantastic political theater. I mean, it was as good a photo op as I have ever seen. Democrats not only say what Bob just cited, but they're a little upset about this. They say they're using it for political purposes. Well, guess what, get used to it. If things are going well in Iraq a year from now, it the war on terrorism is going well, that will make a powerful television commercial. If things aren't going well, they'll have to drop it.
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SHIELDS: Al Hunt, like he said, dropping it. Were we just as wrong as the Bush team in thinking this was a great political masterstroke.
HUNT: It was a great photo, there's no question of that, Mark. But it was centered around a policy that has turned disastrous. Now this photo will be used in the campaign, just not by Bush, by his opponents.
SHIELDS: Bob Novak.
NOVAK: It's just fascinating because at that time, everybody, boy, but it's not fair, it's not right that they're taking advantage of everything. But it was a mistake then. Now the question I wonder is if the geniuses around the president are going to say, hey, this was not a good idea, we shouldn't do things like that, or they say, bad luck.
SHIELDS: Kate O'Beirne, how about it? O'BEIRNE: In the speech the president did sound the right notes of caution, but pictures are worth 1000 words, and the pictures, of course, look like a premature victory lap. The crucial reminder, it seems to me, from this episode is hostilities are over when those who have beaten say hostilities are over, not when the victors say hostilities are over.
CARLSON: At that time, we couldn't have imagined that the administration would be that hapless in securing Iraq after that great victory. It was a great victory. And President Bush has had to explain it in the Rose Garden this week. And remember all of the back and forth when he was trying to get out of it, and saying, oh, the ship's members put up that "mission accomplished" sign and hazing the details over how it came to be, it doesn't look good now in retrospect. And the Democrats may have some fun with it.
SHIELDS: Do you think Cecil B. DeMille is still envious?
CARLSON: Right, no. I don't think he is.
NOVAK: Well, I knew Cecil B. DeMille...
SHIELDS: Cecil B. DeMille is not a friend of yours.
SHIELDS: Next on CAPITAL GANG, "Beyond the Beltway" looks Moammar Gadhafi trying to mend fences in Europe. CNN's Sheila MacVicar joins us from London.
SHIELDS: Welcome back. Libya's leader, Colonel Moammar Gadhafi, was in Brussels this week, meeting with the European Commission president. It was the Libyan dictator's first visit to Western Europe in 15 years, and part of his campaign to end Libya's isolation as a terrorist and pariah state.
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MOAMMAR GADHAFI, LIBYAN LEADER (through translator): Britain and America (UNINTELLIGIBLE) one day, now they're looking for investment, cooperation, trade, friendship, et cetera, and free trade and free commerce between us.
We do hope that we shall not be obliged (ph) or forced one day to go to those days when we bomb our cars or put explosives belts -- around our belts and around our (UNINTELLIGIBLE). COFER BLACK, U.S. COUNTERTERRORISM COORDINATOR: They've come a long way. They have clearly renounced terrorism. There are some outstanding issues with the Libyans, we're in contact with them now, we will need to resolve with them, and that is to make sure they have no continued association with terrorist groups in any form.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHIELDS: Joining us now from London, from our London bureau, is senior international correspondent Sheila MacVicar.
Thanks for coming in, Sheila. Sheila, you covered Colonel Gadhafi's visit to Brussels, was it a complete success from Colonel Gadhafi's point of view?
SHEILA MACVICAR, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think anything that gives Colonel Gadhafi a world stage has to be a success for him. You talked about 15 years essentially of diplomatic isolation. The last time he set foot on European soil, it was at a non-aligned summit that took place in Belgrade, back in the time when Belgrade was still the capital of Yugoslavia.
Here he is, at the heart of Europe, being welcomed with all the pomp and ceremony that Europe and the European Commission can muster, what amounted to a state visit to Belgium on the side. This has to be something that for Colonel Gadhafi and certainly in terms of optics, was something that he really wanted, tent and female bodyguards all in tow.
SHIELDS: Bob Novak.
NOVAK: Sheila, the families of the victims of the Pan Am 103 flight are very unhappy, that they say that Gadhafi has never admitted guilt in the terrorist incident. Is that so, and if so, does that bother the Europeans who are embracing him at the present time?
MACVICAR: It's not just the Europeans embracing him, and it has to be said, the families of Pan Am 103 are deeply divided. If you speak to some of the European based families and some of the American families, you will find that some of them in fact have been wooing Colonel Gadhafi and trying to persuade to take such measures for a very long time.
Libya has brought forward two alleged Libyan intelligence who were tried under international law. One was convicted. Libya has paid compensation. That was one of the residual areas, if you will, which delayed Libya's welcoming back into the international arena. They had to pay compensation to the families, victims of Pan Am 103, and another French airliner, which Libya is also accused of having downed
But is, if you will, a big step back. It seems to be happening very suddenly in the public eye. In fact this has been taking place very quietly over a much longer period of time. And also there may be many people who are still unhappy who think he has not been made to pay an appropriate price. There are many people who have worked a long time to see this happen.
CARLSON: Sheila, we know what Gadhafi wants, he wants to pitch his tent in Brussels and bring his 15 female bodyguards and strut across the world stage. But what does Europe want from Gadhafi?
MACVICAR: It's not just Europe. One of the biggest benefactors of welcoming Libya back into the world arena will be the United States, and specifically American oil and gas companies. Libya has huge reserves of oil and gas, which at the moment, are very much underdeveloped because of the sanctions which have been in place.
We heard from Secretary of State Colin Powell on a visit to Germany this week where he's talking about taking Libya off the list of states which sponsor terrorism. The United States, President Bush has lifted and eased some of the sanctions which have been in place against Libya for many, many years, in fact, since the time of President Reagan.
So it's not just Europe which will benefit, it's also the United States. And Libya does have a long and old relationship with the United States. One of the U.S.'s biggest airbases in North Africa used to be in Libya, a place called Wheelwright (ph).
Now there's no suggestion that U.S. forces will be returning to Libya any time in any kind of capacity to reinstate themselves into that airbase, but there's a lot of reason to believe that American oil and gas companies, American business, in additional to European business, will do very well in Libya in the future.
SHIELDS: We have 30 seconds, Sheila, Kate O'Beirne.
O'BEIRNE: Sheila, Libya has also gotten failing grades as an international citizen owing to its bad human rights record, any appetite on the part of the E.U. to use some pressure of theirs to help make those kind of changes in Libya.
MACVICAR: An Amnesty International report issued, tellingly, the day that Colonel Gadhafi appeared in Brussels, that's clearly one of the things that is on the agenda. But remember, one of the biggest steps that Libya has taken, as extraordinary as it may seem, is that it has willingly renounced all of its weapons of mass destruction and turned over its entire nuclear program, it seems, to the United States, renouncing any attempt to develop WMD.
Libya saying now, and Colonel Gadhafi, one of the most quixotic leaders I have ever looked at, ever followed over a long period of time, saying that he is willing now to rejoin the international community and that's what he wants.
SHIELDS: Al Hunt, quickly.
HUNT: Well, Sheila, just very, very, quickly, what did he mean when he said that we shall -- he warned that we don't want to be forced or obliged to go back to those days where we bomb our cars or put explosive belts around our belts?
MACVICAR: Well, you've got to say, I mean, this is Colonel Gadhafi, one of the most (UNINTELLIGIBLE) leaders. He also said that he thought the Med should be a military free zone, that every military fleet, that would include, of course, the U.S. Naval fleet based in Naples, should leave the Mediterranean.
He also said that Libya was showing the way forward and should be considered as a model of world peace and that it would now campaign for nations, such as the United States and China to also renounce their nuclear weapons.
So it gives you a sense of the kind of individual that you're dealing with. But that said, he is showing a way forward. And remember, one of the important lessons the United States might gain out of this in terms of world public opinion is that Colonel Gadhafi, former leader of a state sponsor of terrorism, now reformed, it is believed, welcome back into the international fold, and all of that without an invasion.
SHIELDS: Sheila MacVicar, thank you for being with us. THE CAPITAL GANG will be back with our "Outrages of the Week."
SHIELDS: And now for the "Outrage of the Week." Republican Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska bears the scars of battle from Vietnam services is now pushing for congressional debate to reinstate the military draft.
He argues that those in power in Washington are divorced from the reality of war: "Not one senior member of the president's cabinet has any immediate family members on the line in Iraq."
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz proved Hagel's point when he testified this week that the U.S. had sustained, "approximately 350" combat deaths in Iraq. Sorry, Mr. Secretary, 524 Americans have been killed in combat.
NOVAK: Democratic Congressman Jim McDermott of Washington has quite a record. In 1997 he leaked a transcript of an overheard cell phone conversation by then Speaker Newt Gingrich.
In 2002 in Baghdad, he met Saddam Hussein and attacked George W. Bush. This week, leading the House in the Pledge of Allegiance, he omitted the words "Under God." Unsupported by his own party leaders, he claimed it was a mistake. But he twice has voted against the "Under God" phrase.
Dr. McDermott is a psychiatrist and he may need self-help.
SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson.
CARLSON: Massive slaughter, systematic extermination, forced expulsion, rape. No, it's not Rwanda, but Sudan, where an outlaw militia uproots villagers with diabolic efficiency, 1 million in 14 months.
While the U.S. and U.N. wait, merciless militia men ignore a cease-fire and keep out relief workers, fearing they might see the mass graves and the thousands of children ripped from their parents, starving and baking to death in the open desert.
The media, with the exception of "The Times" Nick Kristof, is silent. The U.S. awakened too late for Rwanda, there is still time in Sudan.
SHIELDS: Kate O'Beirne.
O'BEIRNE: You're right, Margaret, it's not easy being green, just ask Kermit the Frog and Senator John Kerry. Kerry now wants to make a hybrid his campaign car. But it's a little late to be burnishing those Earth-friendly credentials.
The Kerry family owns eight cars, including one of those notorious Chevy Suburbans, along with a Harley, two power boats, and a Gulfstream private jet. It looks like Kerry's been guzzling more than his share of gas.
Why prices at the pump could drop if Kerry alone started riding a bike.
SHIELDS: Al Hunt.
HUNT: "Nightline"'s Ted Koppel devoted his entire show Friday to reading the names with pictures, of those brave American men and women who have died in the Iraqi war. It was a moving and memorable tribute.
But Sinclair broadcasting refused to run "Nightline" on its eight-owned ABC stations. John McCain, a supported of the war, blasted Sinclair. Refusing to honor these fallen Americans, he said, was "a disservice to the public and to the men and women of the United States armed forces."
Sinclair's action, McCain added, was unpatriotic.
SHIELDS: This is Mark Shields, saying good night for THE CAPITAL GANG. Thank you for joining us.
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