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CNN CAPITAL GANG
U.S. Hands Over Sovreignty To Iraq Early; Supreme Court Rules Suspected Terrorist Detainees Have Legal Rights; John Kerry Cancels Speach, Refuses To Cross Picket Line
Aired July 3, 2004 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: From Washington, THE CAPITAL GANG.
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.
In Baghdad, the administrator of the occupation of Iraq made an announcement two days ahead of schedule.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL BREMER, FORMER U.S. ADMINISTRATOR OF IRAQ: The Coalition Provisional Authority will cease to exist on June 28, at which point, the occupation will end and the Iraqi interim government will assume and exercise full sovereign authority on behalf of the Iraqi people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHIELDS: That sovereignty was exercised quickly with the arraignment of Saddam Hussein. The former dictator told the Iraqi judge, quote, "This is all a theater. The real criminal is Bush," end quote.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SADDAM HUSSEIN (through translator): How come a charge will be levied against somebody, an official who's doing -- carry out their duties? Please allow me not to sign anything until the lawyers are present. I am not holding fast to my position, but to respect the will of the people that decided -- decided to choose Saddam Hussein as the leader of the revolution.
GHAZI AL YAWAR, IRAQI INTERIM PRESIDENT: We, as a government, will never interfere in the process of this trial.
TIM HUGHES, SADDAM DEFENSE TEAM: He should have had an opportunity of being advised fully before appearing before a court.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHIELDS: Bob Novak, does the handover of sovereignty and the arraignment of Saddam Hussein seriously change things in Iraq?
BOB NOVAK, CAPITAL GANG: I think it does. I think the fact that this dictator who was such a feared tyrant is -- is -- they see for themselves, the people, that he is arguing with this judge and going around on technicalities. He's just another person. I think it has some impact.
But the real impact, of course, is the handover of power. A lot of people playing politics have said, Gee, this is a terrible thing to have the handover. It would have been terrible if they hadn't done it. Does that mean that we're out of the woods in Iraq? Certainly not. But I think things are just a lot better than they were before Monday.
SHIELDS: A lot better than they were before Monday, Kate O'Beirne?
KATE O'BEIRNE, CAPITAL GANG: I think -- I think this fundamental change should make a real difference for two reasons. It now should be perfectly clear that America has no designs on Iraq. We are not going to stay a moment longer than necessary. In fact, we would leave tomorrow if the Iraqi government asked us to. And secondly, it should be clear that the foreign and Saddam terrorists are killing brave Iraqis. They're now marked for assassination, those who've stepped up to work on behalf of their own country. They're not fighting any longer against foreign invaders, and that should make a difference.
SHIELDS: Al Hunt, has the handover been good for American servicepeople there?
AL HUNT, CAPITAL GANG: Well, I must say, I love to watch Robert Novak every week look for light at the end of the tunnel to prove that George Bush was right and he, Bob Novak, was wrong. Maybe it's there this week. I don't quite -- quite see how, though. I mean, the handover -- the hurried-up handover was -- was done because -- because they were fearful of doing it the day it was scheduled because of security problems. I don't think the security issue has gotten any better. Kate, I think it would be a lot better if they thought that there was -- there wasn't an American overwhelming presence there, but there is 140,000 American troops. That provides the security. And as awful as these foreign terrorists are, somebody's protecting them there. We're not getting them. So I'm not sure the situation is fundamentally changed much.
SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson, your take?
MARGARET CARLSON, CAPITAL GANG: Well, Saddam Hussein looks like the best-kept prisoner in Iraq because I thought he came off as looking fairly good. The hair is black. He's in command. He's no Milosevic, but there he is. But symbolically, him being on trial I think is a good symbol that the government has been turned over to Iraqis. However, as Al says, as long as we have 100,000 troops and more being conscripted from those who thought their service was done, then Americans are not out, in a fundamental way, of Iraq.
SHIELDS: Let me just ask this, Bob, that is that -- moving it to domestic politics. This is a big plus for George W. Bush, isn't it? I mean, with Saddam Hussein front and center, doesn't this -- kind of forget the arguments about whether Bush was right, weapons of mass destruction? If we go through a trial with a litany of his torture and abuse and horrors, doesn't that help the president?
NOVAK: There's no question is helps him, and it -- I think it's going to probably show itself up, at least temporarily, in the polls. It's a big plus. And that's why I have seen so much whining and wheezing this week by people who don't want the president to be reelected. Now, I would have to say this. I have explained myself many times on this program and to people who might tune in, Al, and you got to listen because when you -- when you say I -- trying to prove myself wrong when I said we shouldn't go into Iraq, I've never said I was wrong. Still think we shouldn't. I'm not -- I'm not for interventions. You're the guy who wants to intervene all over the world, in Bosnia and Kosovo and every little crummy Balkan country in the world! But once -- unlike you, once we're in this country, I don't knock the troops. I don't knock the American effort. I -- I hope that we can be -- that we can be successful, not unsuccessful...
HUNT: As I'm sure you know, you misspoke, because I've never knocked the troops. As you know, I never have, Bob. Let's just -- let's just get that, you know, right on the record.
HUNT: Look, I don't -- Saddam's not going to come to trial before the American election. I agree having Saddam front and center helps Bush, but it's going to be probably years before -- before this bum comes to trial, and let's just hope there's sufficient security that something terrible doesn't happen beforehand.
O'BEIRNE: Look, we -- we'll continue to spend our blood and treasure on behalf of Iraq, but it is fundamentally up to the Iraqi people now. We're there only to help. And hopefully, more and more will come forward, now that they realize that they are sovereign, they do have, for the first time, this chance. And you'd think NATO would be a little more responsive, although they have been more open to helping than they have been in the past, given that the American forces supplied security for Europe for 50 years.
NOVAK: Can I ask Margaret...
CARLSON: You know...
NOVAK: Did you think he looked good? Is that -- I misunderstood you?
CARLSON: I -- well, he looked a lot better than the spider hole...
O'BEIRNE: Under the circumstances!
HUNT: He looked a lot better than he did in December.
CARLSON: Yes. NOVAK: Well, when he came out of the hole, but still, he looked terrible, compared to the way he used to look, I mean, when he was the dictator running the place.
CARLSON: I think -- I think taking 20 pounds off is good for just about anybody.
HUNT: Oh, Margaret!
CARLSON: But -- but let me just say, I think the -- as far as order's concerned, a courthouse scene is very good to convey that there's order in Iraq. And for Bush, if -- you have Saddam Hussein bad, Bush, who got rid of him, good, and at least good for the Iraqi people in the long run, if not good for America.
HUNT: ... footing the bill for that whole trial, and we're calling too many of the shots. I wish it were totally an Iraqi thing. I don't want Chalabi's nephew involved in this.
SHIELDS: Let me just -- let me just...
HUNT: I think there's still some problems...
SHIELDS: ... close with one thing. That argument of you have to -- can't -- you go mute once our troops are deployed is probably the most fatuous that I've ever heard on this show. And let's say My country right or wrong is the functional and intellectual equivalent of saying My mother, drunk or sober.
NOVAK: Well, there's -- there's a lot of us who feel that way, and I believe you, Mark Shields, in World War II, when we were making every mistake in the books, you would say, Thank God for the troops...
O'BEIRNE: The left...
NOVAK: ... and not criticize them and...
O'BEIRNE: The left hasn't figured out how to be anti-war without being anti-troops. It's the same thing they did in Vietnam.
SHIELDS: You certainly have -- you're talking -- you're talking to three people on this panel who have figured that out and are more committed to the troops! I don't want to see more troops murdered...
O'BEIRNE: Teddy Kennedy hasn't figured it out!
HUNT: We may have made mistakes in World War II, but we were right to go into World War II and we did it and we did it basically the right way.
NOVAK: And you wanted to go into Iraq, too! And I remember that!
HUNT: Not the way George Bush did it, Bob Novak.
HUNT: Absolutely not!
SHIELDS: Bob didn't want to go in, then they didn't want to go in the way George Bush did, but now it's OK.
NOVAK: Not it's OK, but you got to support the troops! And I get sick and tired of the liberal Democrats knocking the troops!
SHIELDS: Who's knocking the troops?
NOVAK: And you are knocking the troops!
SHIELDS: Who is?
NOVAK: You're all knocking the troops!
SHIELDS: Who is knocking the troops?
NOVAK: You don't support them! You don't support them!
HUNT: Is General Zinni against the troops, Bob?
SHIELDS: Yes, General Anthony...
NOVAK: I'm not -- I'm talking about you!
HUNT: Oh, you're not talking about General Zinni.
SHIELDS: General Zinni made the point that anybody who follows that argument, it's an indefensible position to take! Once the troops are committed, you just mute all criticism. That is absolutely wrong because you're being unfair to the American troops.
NOVAK: Well, we'll debate that.
SHIELDS: The GANG of five will be back with the Supreme Court ordered rights for detained foreign suspects.
SHIELDS: Welcome back.
Decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court require access to the courts for suspected foreign terrorists detained by the United States military. In one majority decision, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said, quote, "Indefinite detention for the purpose of interrogation is not authorized. History and common sense teach us that an unchecked system of detention carries the potential to become a means for oppression and abuse of others," end quote.
In a dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia said, quote, "The Court boldly extends the scope of the habeus statute to the four corners of the earth," end quote. Attorney General John Ashcroft said the decisions give more rights to terrorists.
Kate O'Beirne, has the Court handed a defeat, a serious defeat, to the Bush administration?
O'BEIRNE: Well, President Bush's authority to hold enemy combatants, to designate and hold enemy combatants was upheld, which is terribly important. But the rights extended now to Guantanamo Bay detainees is really breathtaking, and it does provide more rights to terrorists, foreign terrorists captured on a foreign battlefield, held someplace where U.S. courts have no jurisdiction. That test would have applied to over a million enemy combatants at the end of World War II. Does it apply in Iraq? Does it apply in Afghanistan? The logic of the opinion would say yes, it does. We've gotten very valuable intelligence from Guantanamo Bay, and the first thing these lawyers are going to do is tell their clients, al Qaeda clients, to shut up. And that puts Americans at risk.
SHIELDS: Americans at risk, Bob Novak?
NOVAK: I don't -- I think there is a trade-off. You find that the intelligence people and the cops always want to have a lack of rights and a lack of access for rights, and I think it hurts the country when we -- we don't have those privileges. So I think -- I think the Supreme Court...
NOVAK: I think the Supreme Court just did it just about right.
SHIELDS: Margaret, who's right here, Kate or Bob?
CARLSON: It was a good balance, and I think 200 or so detainees in Guantanamo are going to be released. Some of them did nothing. It was a round-up. They're there for no reason. And to be thrown away -- I mean, to be put into detention and the keys thrown away, and with no access to anybody except your interrogators, is not an American way. And the Court agreed, the president doesn't have a blank check, especially in an open-ended war. This is not the Civil War or World War II. The war on terrorism, as the president keeps telling us, is open-ended.
SHIELDS: Al Hunt.
HUNT: Yes, I agree with Bob. I think the Court basically reaffirmed what the great Justice Jackson said 60 years ago. The president is the commander-in-chief not of the country but only the military. And what Bush and Ashcroft were seeking was really just sweeping powers, and the Court cut them back. And I think the most -- and actually, Justice Scalia, in one of the three decisions, joined in an 8-1 decision. The most shocking thing that they wanted to do was eliminate for some of these people the notion of judicial review. And there ought to be judicial review in these. They ought to be able to detain them, but you ought to have judicial review. And as former solicitor general Walter Dellinger wrote two-and-a-half years ago, what you ought to do is set up a special court. Make it the U.S. court of appeals, whatever, what have you -- to have judicial review.
CARLSON: And Mark, no one thinks that the really bad guys are getting out because...
O'BEIRNE: Unlike the police...
CARLSON: ... of this.
O'BEIRNE: ... Bob, this is not a law enforcement action. The kind of thing they've been learning from Guantanamo Bay detainees -- events, future terrorist attacks. I don't think it enhances Americans' safety or our own rights for these are foreign terrorists captured overseas, held outside U.S. territory, to all of a sudden provide all of them with attorneys, and thereby dry up the kind of intelligence that saves lives.
NOVAK: On this 4th of July weekend, Kate, I -- I believe that Tom Paine and Thomas Jefferson never trusted government, and I believe that once the government takes an inch, they'll take a mile. Some of the other people, some of the liberals, don't agree with me on that. But I think I'm always very worried of government.
SHIELDS: I'll be less cosmic than that. I will say -- Mr. Dooley (ph) said the Supreme Court follows election returns. I think in this case, the Supreme Court may have been influenced by the photographs and the reaction to them from prisons in Iraq.
Next on CAPITAL GANG: John Kerry refuses to cross a picket line and gets ready to pick a running mate.
SHIELDS: Welcome back. Senator John Kerry canceled a speech to the United States Conference of Mayors meeting in his hometown of Boston, refusing to cross a picket line of police officers engaged in a contract dispute with the city of Boston.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't cross picket lines. Never have.
MAYOR TOM MENINO (D), BOSTON: It's unfortunate. If these unions really cared, they'd pull down the picket lines and allow Senator Kerry to give his address, then put the picket lines back up.
GOV. MITT ROMNEY (R), MASSACHUSETTS: I wanted to indicate my support of Mayor Menino. He's a man of courage and integrity. (END VIDEO CLIP)
SHIELDS: After winning that praise from the Republican governor of Massachusetts, the Democratic mayor of Boston, in an interview with "The Boston Herald," said this of the Kerry campaign. Quote, "Maybe they should use some of their energies to get their message across to the American people instead of trying to destroy the integrity of someone who is on their team," end quote.
Meanwhile, as Senator Kerry's time to pick a running mate approached, the CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll showed 72 percent of Democrats would be satisfied with Senator John Edwards of North Carolina as vice president, 64 would be satisfied with Congressman Richard Gephardt of Missouri for that post, and 54 percent would be satisfied with Iowa governor Tom Vilsack.
Margaret Carlson, did Senator Kerry make a mistake by refusing to cross a picket line in Boston?
CARLSON: Listen, most Democrats would be satisfied with a goat in order to beat George Bush, so that poll...
CARLSON: The -- you don't like goats? What's wrong? You know...
SHIELDS: Family show!
CARLSON: Listen, Kerry, I think, probably made a good bargain here, which is peace at the convention. There's not going to be a picket line there, with the police union. And I think Menino was probably treated in a slightly high-handed manner by a few people in the Kerry campaign, and he reacted, but it's not a long-term thing and it'll blow over. As for, you know, those candidates who aren't a goat, I put Vilsack up a little bit this week. He was using marriage metaphors in describing what a -- what a candidate needs. He said somebody to complete the jigsaw puzzle of their lives...
CARLSON: ... and I thought that was very romantic, which meant he's had many, many dates. And then we have Richardson dropping out, which I thought...
SHIELDS: Richardson, the governor of New Mexico.
CARLSON: ... was kind of bad form.
NOVAK: And Dick Durbin dropped out...
(CROSSTALK) CARLSON: I'm going to drop out!
SHIELDS: No, don't, because Bob's doing that this afternoon.
CARLSON: Right. And I thought that was a little bad sportsmanship, when you know you're not going to get it, to drop out and issue a press release.
SHIELDS: Well, it's better than being rejected, say, I don't want to go to the prom with her because she's not going to go with me.
SHIELDS: OK, Bob Novak, your take on the vice president -- oh, and I imagine you wanted to say something about...
NOVAK: I say on the vice president that -- that everybody's very excited about the possibility that it might be Hillary. That would really turn this into an interesting...
SHIELDS: Have you heard that a lot?
NOVAK: ... campaign. I've heard it on the street, but...
CARLSON: You're hoping! You're hoping.
NOVAK: I would say this. I thought that not crossing the picket line was -- was very interesting because it really showed he's kind of treated -- he was very nasty to poor Mayor Menino, his host. He did -- his mayor. You know, he was kind of officious and pompous and austere and aristocratic, but he also showed that...
SHIELDS: Who are we talking about, Kerry here, or Tom Menino?
NOVAK: Kerry. Kerry.
NOVAK: He also showed that the Democratic Party -- it'll take a -- you side with the labor bosses, whatever the dispute is. You're not -- I mean, they were trying to mau-mau the mayor. They were trying to put pressure on him. You don't -- you don't try to be fair about it, you just say you won't go -- and there's some -- I say this. I'm a member of three labor unions, and I have crossed the picket -- I can't tell you how many picket lines I've crossed, and it's not a problem.
CARLSON: All right. They still elected you. SHIELDS: You know, I will say I look forward to that populist man of the people, George W. Bush, and see how he handles New York City, where the police and the firefighters are demanding and fighting for a raise that they've never gotten now since September 11, 2001.
HUNT: Well, also, there are some people who thought the Boston cops were wonderful in 1988, when they were trashing Michael Dukakis...
SHIELDS: And endorsing...
HUNT: ... and supporting George Bush 41...
SHIELDS: ... George Bush.
HUNT: ... who suddenly have changed their views of the Boston cops. Look, on the vice presidential selection, I have never seen such a close-to-the-vest process as now. I give -- I give Kerry and Jim Johnson credit for it. Tell you what happened. Kerry in -- in 2000, there was a big bash, remember, at Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver's at that Democratic convention? John Kerry was there right after he had not been picked, and he was furious. He was livid. He thought he had been hung out to dry.
I thought he overreacted, but he was so angry, and he was determined not to do that this time, and he has not done it. He apparently is going to make the selection pretty soon. It looks like it's the people that have been -- one of the people that's been discussed. Maybe Joe Biden will be the dark horse in there. But nobody knows. And I give them credit for that. They've done it well. We'll see what the choice looks like.
SHIELDS: Kate O'Beirne, one of the things that's made a lot of in the stories that do come out is Kerry's comfort with Gephardt, that he's more comfortable with Gephardt, has greater confidence in Gephardt. Now, that hasn't been a factor in the past. I mean, Ronald Reagan wasn't that comfortable with George Herbert Walker Bush and...
NOVAK: How about Kennedy and Johnson? How comfortable...
O'BEIRNE: Mark, I think -- I think...
SHIELDS: But I mean, Kerry -- that must be a factor with Kerry.
O'BEIRNE: I think the respective demands every four years on the respective parties plays a very large role in dictating who might be tapped, which certainly was the case in '80, Ronald Reagan having run against George Bush. That's not the same dynamic this year with respect to John Edwards. I would have said he was a dark horse a number of months ago. Obviously, whoever's selected, the first thing the candidate's going to say is, My No. 1 criteria was that this individual's ready to be president. I think that's sort of a stretch in John Edwards's case, but I suppose John Kerry'll pull it off with a straight face. But I think he seems a little stampeded into this John Edwards choice. It'll be interesting to see how he responds.
SHIELDS: George Herbert Walker Bush did not say that, the most qualified -- in 1988, when he chose Dan Quayle.
SHIELDS: ... one added benefit this year, though, because as vice president -- and a lot of people want to turn it down and denigrate the office, but this year, apparently, if you're vice president, you can use the most objectionable and obscene language in public places and be defended by conservative commentators...
NOVAK: Well, let's not...
SHIELDS: ... and self-righteous...
NOVAK: Let's -- let's not...
SHIELDS: ... religious conservatives.
NOVAK: How about -- how about self-righteous...
CARLSON: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) feel better.
NOVAK: ... self-righteous journalists, who use the worst language possible?
SHIELDS: I don't know any.
NOVAK: But let me -- oh! Let me ask you this about Vilsack. What is his religion?
SHIELDS: Vilsack's a Catholic.
NOVAK: Yes. I had a call from one of Gephardt's supporters this week, and he said, You know, Vilsack's a Catholic. Biden's a Catholic. Bill Richardson, who's now taken himself out, is a Catholic.
NOVAK: Durbin's a -- he said, Do you think they're going to -- whether they should or not, do you think they're really going to nominate two Catholics?
SHIELDS: Well, Bob, do you think Kerry's a Catholic?
NOVAK: Oh, come on.
HUNT: I think Kate makes a good point. I think what's going on -- the party, Kate, wants John Edwards...
HUNT: ... to the extent that there's consensus in the party, around the country. I think what John Kerry's going through is deciding whether he can say with a straight face, He was my choice. It was my idea. I wasn't...
O'BEIRNE: The media wants him to!
HUNT: ... stampeded.
O'BEIRNE: What he wants to avoid is the lead, Fearing competition from John Edwards, today John Kerry picked Dick Gephardt.
HUNT: He has to explain it if he doesn't pick him.
SHIELDS: All right. And I'll just say, make -- don't make this mistake, John Kerry, of having someone who's a popular choice in August and not a good choice in October. That's when you really want to have your vice presidential choice help you.
Coming up in the second half of the CAPITAL GANG on this 4th of July weekend, historian Joseph Ellis talks about presidents and presidential memoirs. We'll go "Beyond the Beltway" to Illinois to look at the wreckage of the Republican Party there after the fiasco of Jack Ryan. And our "Outrages of the Week." That's all after these important messages -- stay tuned -- and the latest news headlines.
CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Carol Lin. More of THE CAPITAL GANG in just a moment, but first, these headlines. The new Iraqi government is reportedly considering an amnesty offer to insurgents and even pardons for those who have killed Americans. The Associated Press quotes a spokesman for Prime Minister Iyad Allawi as saying opposition to U.S. troops might be considered justifiable because they're an occupying force.
Now in some ways, Iraq is worse off now than under Saddam Hussein. The General Accounting Office says a majority of Iraq's provinces have less electricity now than before the war, but it says more kids have been immunized and more people have phone service. Congress approved $18.4 billion for reconstruction last fall. The White House says only 2 percent of that has been spent.
Meanwhile, more violence in Iraq today. A bomb at an oil storage facility kills six members of the Iraqi National Guard south of Baghdad. Five others were hurt.
A Russian teenager shocks the world of tennis today. Maria Sharapova is the first Russian to win a Wimbledon Singles title. Playing in her first Grand Slam final, the 17-year old beat two time defending champion Serena Williams, 6-1, 6-4.
I'm Carol Lin. Now back to THE CAPITAL GANG.
ANNOUNCER: From Washington, THE CAPITAL GANG. SHIELDS: Welcome back to the second half of THE CAPITAL GANG. I'm Mark Shields with the full gang -- Al Hunt, Robert Novak, Kate O'Beirne, and Margaret Carlson.
On this 4th of July weekend, our newsmaker of the week is Joseph J. Ellis, professor of History at Mount Holyoke College and the winner of the 2001 Pulitzer Prize in History for his book, "Founding Brothers: the Revolutionary Generation."
Al Hunt interviewed Professor Ellis from Springfield, Massachusetts.
HUNT: The past few weeks headlines have been full of appraisals of former presidents. Ronald Reagan's death, Bill Clinton's memoirs. How long does it usually take for historians to begin to form a real consensus on an American president?
JOSEPH ELLIS, HISTORIAN: I'm not sure it ever forms as a perfect consensus. In fact, history is by one definition an argument without end. But I think at least 20 years would be the frame I would mention as the one where you can begin to see patterns and frameworks beginning to congeal.
HUNT: Presidential memoirs these days obviously try to shape that judgment. Is that realistic?
ELLIS: There are two reasons why most presidents write their memoirs. One is money. And the other is to try to influence history. But this has been true from the very, very beginning of the republic. The founding fathers cared desperately what we were going to think of them. And so, in some sense what Bill Clinton has just written is in a very long tradition.
The problem is that if you look at presidential memoirs, very few of them live long beyond their own time. And very few of them have a major influence on the legacy of the respective presidents.
The only really great presidential memoir, in my judgment, is Grant's memoir written in the 1870s. And that didn't have anything to do about the presidency.
HUNT: Yes, yes.
ELLIS: It's about the Mexican War and the Civil War.
HUNT: Grant had a pretty good ghostwriter, too, as I understand it. That probably helped a little bit.
ELLIS: His editor and ghostwriter was Mark Twain. And he cut them a really good deal.
HUNT: Joe, you mentioned earlier the founding fathers. You're one of the foremost experts on that period. Some did write autobiographies or memoirs then. Washington did not. ELLIS: Correct.
HUNT: Was it just apparent when Washington left office that as the first president he was going to be this great figure?
ELLIS: Washington was a legend in his own time. And there was a -- already a consensus that he was going to float above all other statesmen of the era. He was the, if you will, the foundingest father of them all.
If you take a look at history again, the three great presidents normally agreed upon by most historians as the top trinity are Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin Delanor Roosevelt. And none of them wrote memoirs.
And so if there's a lesson to be learned from this, if you keep your mouth shut, you have a better chance of succeeding in the opinion of historians.
HUNT: Well, Thomas Jefferson did write a memoir of sorts. He wrote an autobiography towards the very end of his life, I think in the early 1820s. It never got to the presidency.
One of the things we should remember is the founders didn't think of the presidency in quite the same way we do and that for people like Washington, Jefferson, and Adams, their greatest achievements occurred during the revolution.
HUNT: John Adams, who died on the same day as Jefferson, did not write his memoirs. Why?
ELLIS: He wrote a memoir, but he never got to the presidency again. And it was a kind of scattered thing. He eventually kind of gave up and threw up his hands and started reading his own papers. And said in the end, that's what will assure my legacy, the papers themselves. And any attempt on my part to try to tell that story is going to be regarded as self-serving.
I think a memoir by definition is self-absorbed, but it's very difficult to reach any kind of detached perspective on your own life, and especially on your own public life as president.
HUNT: Speaking of important books on the Founding Fathers, there's going to be a new biography of George Washington out this fall, written by none other than Joe Ellis.
ELLIS: Well, it's called "His Excellency." And it's intended to try to bring him back alive as something other than a monument on Mount Rushmore as a living, breathing human being.
I hope it's -- I hope it lives up to its own title.
SHIELDS: Al Hunt, did you get the idea from talking to Joe Ellis that he thinks the founding fathers were superior to the public figures of our own era?
HUNT: I didn't ask him, but I'm sure he does. I think that that remarkable group of men of 1776 are exceptional compared to almost any group. And time helps us all. 100 years from now, someone will be writing about the statesman scribe Robert D. Novak, I'm sure.
I thought that Joe Ellis made a couple of fascinating points that the great presidents have not written memoirs, doesn't help that much. And the founding fathers really did not consider the presidency the capstone of their careers.
NOVAK: I think the founding fathers really look good this 4th of July weekend, particularly in trying to read "My Lie," I mean "My Life" by Bill Clinton.
CARLSON: Let us not forget the founding mothers, which is a wonderful book by Cokie Roberts. Yes, there were -- and sisters, by the way.
NOVAK: They couldn't even vote.
O'BEIRNE: I think the popular success of these books are so welcome. I wish they were still mandatory in all the schools. There'd be a lot more interest in our confirmation battles for federal judges and Supreme Court decisions if more people were rooted in the founding fathers.
SHIELDS: Last word, Kate O'Beirne.
Next on CAPITAL GANG, CAPITAL GANG classic. A different handover returning Hong Kong to China seven years ago.
SHIELDS: Welcome back. Seven years ago this week, there was another handover, returning Hong Kong to China after 156 years of British rule. CAPITAL GANG discussed that historic handover and the U.S. guarantee to protect Hong Kong's freedom on July 5th, 1997. Our guest was Democratic Congressman Steny Hoyer of Maryland.
SHIELDS: Bob Novak, can the United States really protect democracy in Hong Kong?
NOVAK: I don't think we can control the way other people act. We certainly can't control democracy in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. And perhaps what we ought to have more limited means of keeping Hong Kong is a free market for capital. And that's what's going to happen under the Chinese government, I'll guarantee it.
SHIELDS: Is that all we're just saying is capital rather than human freedom and liberty and democracy? O'BEIRNE: I was taken aback by the coverage, which was so celebratory -- acting like there was a big celebration, when it was a very sad day, it seems to me. Six million people in Hong Kong have now been brought under the control of totalitarian government.
REP. STENY HOYER (D), MARYLAND: I don't think there's any joy. Colonialism or not, turning over six million people to a communist dictatorship.
HUNT: What's important for this administration, Mark, and what they haven't done yet is to come up with a smart middle ground between acquiescence and appeasement on the one hand, which is not going to work, never has worked, and between confrontation and containment on the other.
SHIELDS: Al Hunt, seven years later, what has happened to that solemn United States promise to protect democracy in the former British colony?
HUNT: Well, it's eroding, Mark. Just this week, the Chinese said that Hong Kong cannot elect all of its representatives. We're going to continue to appoint some. There have been some intrusions on press freedoms. They've strong armed some radio talk show hosts off the air. And they're cracking down some on democracy. Not encouraging.
SHIELDS: Kate, encouraging?
O'BEIRNE: Seven years ago, Bob lectured me that the reason why people were so joyful in Hong Kong is they were tired of being second class citizens as members of colonies, but a half million in Hong Kong took to the streets because this week, to mark the anniversary because of Beijing cracking down on elections and democracy.
SHIELDS: Margaret, is freedom more important than capital?
CARLSON: Not to some people that we know it's not. I mean, you know, we have a trade policy towards China, not a foreign policy. As long as we can do business and they help America economically, people don't care much about democracy there.
NOVAK: Well, you know, I've been abused now right around the table from -- by everybody.
SHIELDS: Don't be such a whiner, Bob.
NOVAK: No, I'm not whining. I'm just saying that we cannot guarantee democracy all around the world, whether it's Iraq or Kuwait or Hong Kong. And what we have to do is have a good friendship with China. And I think this administration has made great progress in that direction.
SHIELDS: But not with Cuba. Next on CAPITAL GANG, beyond the beltway looks at the Illinois Republican party scrambling to find a viable Senate candidate. Scott Fornek, "Chicago Sun-Times" joins us.
SHIELDS: Welcome back. The Illinois Republican party is looking for a Senate candidate. Its nominee, investment banker and teacher Jack Ryan, ended his candidacy because of allegations involving sex clubs revealed in court papers in a child custody suit.
In an interview with ABC's "Good Morning America" and 20/20, Ryan said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACK RYAN (R), FORMER SENATE CANDIDATE: I think the question we have as a society, as a democracy is are we setting the bar for public service so high, that no one's going to want to do it anymore?
I thought it was unfair to the people of Illinois to stay in there and talk about this issue continuously between now and November.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHIELDS: Republican leaders agreed with Ryan's decision. But not Republican Senator Peter Fitzgerald, who is not seeking re-election. He said, "I wanted Jack to stay in and fight, but I understand why he dropped out. Why fight a two front war against the Democrats on one hand, his own party leadership on the other hand?"
Joining us now from Chicago is Scott Fornek, the lead political reporter of "The Chicago Sun-Times." He was the only print journalist who conducted an interview with Jack Ryan this week.
Thanks for coming in, Scott.
SCOTT FORNEK, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Thanks for having me.
SHIELDS: Scott, did Jack Ryan betray the Republican party? Or did the Illinois Republicans simply toss him overboard?
FORNEK: I think it's a little bit of both, Mark, actually. I mean, there have been serious questions raised here from prominent Illinois Republicans about what Jack Ryan told them would be in these papers before they became public. And I'm talking people like Dennis Hastert, the Speaker of the House, former Governor Jim Edgar, Judy Bartipink (ph), the state Republican chairman. They all say that what he told him, the sneak preview he gave them, didn't really square with what was in the papers.
Some have suggested he was misleading them. Others are saying, giving him the benefit of the doubt, saying you know, maybe he forgot somehow to tell them the real juicy details, but it's left a lot of Republicans here thinking that he was less than forthcoming about this stuff. And that that's been part of why the party leadership kind of deserted him last week and just let him twist in the wind.
Fitzgerald, though, raises a good point that, and it didn't really reflect it in the quote, but he's also said that some of these same party leaders, and some of the people that were kind of privately calling for him to get out, they've tolerated corrupt politicians here in the past. They were close to people like former Governor George Ryan, who's under criminal indictment now. They didn't speak out against him. Why is an issue of sex clubs suddenly, you know, the question of honesty there such a key factor for them?
SHIELDS: Bob Novak?
NOVAK: You know, the situation there is that the Bush campaign has just about given up on Illinois. Used to be a swing state as far as carrying it against Kerry. Has the leadership there given up on this Senate seat, which is a vacant seat given up by Senator Fitzgerald? Is this now, you can say, given up and given this to the Democrats?
FORNEK: They haven't said that, but I think clearly, that's the writing on the wall, Bob. I mean, what -- they have to look at where they can best spend the resources, obviously. And they've got this candidate they're up against in Barack Obama, who's ahead in all the polls. He's way ahead in fundraising. Now whoever comes in at this point, I mean one Republican referred to the idea of going against him at this point as being like the Baton death march. It's just -- they consider it such a foregone conclusion.
So I mean, I don't think we're going to see real serious money put in here, real serious effort put in at this point.
SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson?
CARLSON: Barack Obama is now a shoo-in for that seat. And he has -- (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in the Democratic party. Is that going to be enough? Is he going to help Kerry turn out the vote in Illinois?
FORNEK: He definitely will. I mean, I think Barack and Kerry, they've already campaigned together. They're comfortable together. But really, the state is trending so Democratic, that I don't think Kerry has a real big concern there at this point. And I think this only helps Kerry, you know, with this right now. I mean, Obama is unopposed. And that's going to change, obviously soon, but right now, there's -- like it's a big question mark. Who's even running against him?
SHIELDS: Kate O'Beirne?
O'BEIRNE: Scott, the Republican party seems to be in such trouble in the land of Lincoln. Is there a big split in the party that reflects more than just an angry Peter Fitzgerald or Jack Ryan?
FORNEK: There is a big split. There's -- the conservative element here, while they're not -- they don't -- they haven't controlled the party for quite some time. And they've never really been quite strong enough. They have a big control over the primary. They come out in the primaries and they have a big voice. And they have controlled the primary elections of a number of candidates, including frankly Peter Fitzgerald is an example.
And the more moderate wing of the party does better, though, with their candidates than they have traditionally in general elections. So there is a big split there. And that's a lot of what's going on now. There's a question of who exactly is going to pick the replacement. Is it going to be the more conservative elements who helped get Jack Ryan nominated in the first place? Or is it going to be some of the more moderate party leaders?
SHIELDS: Al Hunt?
HUNT: Scott, I've always pretty much felt that if you're a politician, you're a candidate for public office, your life ought to be an open book. I think you ought to have to release financial records and tax returns and the like.
For some reason, this one sort of bothers me. I mean, this guy may have -- may or may not have had some kinky personal ideas about sex, but is there any thought out there about whether we may have gone a little bit too far this time?
FORNEK: Oh, I think there's clearly thoughts about that. I mean, Jack Ryan himself says it. And obviously, he's got an interest in it. But frankly, I've heard from some Democrats say it. You know, this is -- where does this lead? Where does this end?
And there's a lot of people that are saying, you know, this is an allegation frankly that did involve his wife. Now clearly if you read her allegations, she was -- she says in these custody papers she was uncomfortable with what he was trying to do here. That's her allegation.
But basically, it is an allegation. It's an unproven allegation. And it did involve basically a man and his wife while they were still married. So yes, I think they're serious questions being raised. Other people, as you say, say hey, you know, let the voters decide.
SHIELDS: Scott, your interview with Jack Ryan, did he tell you where you find these sex clubs? Are they in the Yellow Pages or what?
FORNEK: He didn't have a whole lot to say about that. His -- just all he ever did was go to what he called an avant garde night club in Paris.
FORNEK: And I asked him what that means. What -- he refused to really go into any detail on that, or tell me, you know, what it was that supposedly, according to his version, made them uncomfortable. All he described it as what he said was a bad idea gone wrong. So draw your own conclusions.
SHIELDS: All right, hey, Scott Fornek, thank you so much for being with us. The gang will be back with the outrage of the week.
SHIELDS: And now, the outrage of the week. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld opposes the military draft because "The people that are in the armed services today are there because they want to be there." That is untrue. The Bush Pentagon has involuntarily extended the active duty of thousands of men and women, who had already fulfilled their service obligation. They were entitled to return to civilian life.
Now the Bush administration will recall over 5,000 veterans, who have returned to civilian life. We do have a draft under George W. Bush, but the only Americans who are drafted are those patriots who have already volunteered.
NOVAK: I thought I had seen the worst behavior in American politics, until I saw the current issue of "The Nation" magazine. An ad by pleasevote.com shows President Bush devouring a headless child, based on Goya's painting attacking Spain's 19th century. "The Nation" is a left wing journal with a proud tradition, going back to 1865. The current issue contains work by Calvin Trill and David Corn, Nora Ephron and Susan Braunmiller (ph). What hatred of George W. Bush would convince "The Nation" to print anything so offensive and vile as this ad?
SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson?
CARLSON: The Reverend Moon wanted to be crowned king and messiah with Congress looking on. And guess what? They did. One senator too ashamed to reveal himself lent the Reverend Moon a room in the capitol in which to be crowned. Democratic Representative Danny Davis donned white gloves and put the crown on Reverend Moon's head.
Senator Mark Dayton admitted he was duped by being there. But Roscoe Bartlett likened it simply to crowning the king of the prom. Senator Lott is checking whether crowning a messiah in the capitol violates Senate rules.
Will the senator who lend the king the capitol please stand up?
SHIELDS: Kate O'Beirne?
O'BEIRNE: The misery index that did in Jimmy Carter won't hurt George Bush. Unemployment and inflation rates total a mere 8.7 percent. So John Kerry invented his own misery index and blames Bush for skyrocketing college costs.
How sophomoric. A "USA Today" report found that what students pay at public universities has fallen by a third since 1998. There have been eight new federal tuition tax breaks since 1997. And total financial aid hit a record high in 2003.
Senator Kerry should head back to school for some remedial math. SHIELDS: Al Hunt?
HUNT: The Bush campaign insists the president is going to take the high road and run on his record. Here's excerpts from the latest Internet video that the campaign itself, not some outside group, just sent out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How dare they?
MICHAEL MOORE: We have a man sending us to war.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: If this is the high road, Lord help us when we see the Bush low road.
SHIELDS: Before we say good-night, we leave you with a special patriotic tribute this 4th of July weekend. We big farewell to Colonel Foley, the 26th director of the president's own United States Marine band. Colonel Foley retired this month after 36 years with the Marine Band.
Thank you, Colonel Foley, for your service to our country and to the Corps. Semper fi and happy 4th of July.
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