The Web      Powered by
powered by Yahoo!


Return to Transcripts main page


President Bush Delivers Message to United Nations

Aired September 21, 2004 - 16:30   ET


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

In the CROSSFIRE: The president delivers a message to the United Nations and American voters: The world is a better place because the U.S. invaded Iraq.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The proper response to difficulty is not to retreat. It is to prevail. The advance of freedom always carries a cost paid by the bravest among us.

ANNOUNCER: CBS says it goofed in running those disputed documents, and a Kerry campaign adviser admits talking to the man who provided the papers.

JOE LOCKHART, KERRY CAMPAIGN ADVISER: I listened respectfully, I told him I thought it was good advice, and that was the end of the conversation.

ANNOUNCER: The document drama and the president's stand on Iraq up for debate today on CROSSFIRE.


ANNOUNCER: Live from the George Washington University, Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson.



The war in Iraq remains front and center in the presidential campaign. John Kerry told reporters in Florida today that President Bush is not leveling with us about Iraq, while President Bush addressed the United Nations in New York, where he tried to win friends and influence nations by lecturing them that he was right to invade a country that didn't have Weapons of mass destruction or ties to al Qaeda, the way he had promised.

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: Well, maybe being love means never having to say you're sorry. But news is different. CBS has apologized for airing the fake Bush Guard documents. And just why is a Kerry adviser now part of the story?

Here's the best political briefing in television, our CROSSFIRE "Political Alert."

Well, just when you thought the CBS forgery scandal couldn't get more sordid and depressing, it actually did. Not only did the network use a mentally unbalanced partisan as its only source for the story attacking the president during an election year. Not only did it uncritically accept photocopied documents, which, by definition, are impossible to verify, not only did it blame the right-wing conspiracy when questioned, but we learned today CBS News coordinated the story with the John Kerry for president campaign.

Shortly before the original story "60 Minutes" story aired, a CBS news producer called senior Kerry adviser Joe Lockhart and asked him to get in touch with Bill Burkett, the source of the documents. Burkett said he had campaign advice for Kerry. In other words, CBS News actively worked to aid the John Kerry for president campaign, not a slur on the campaign, but on CBS News. There's a lot of December people there and a lot of good journalists.

For their sake and for ours, everyone at CBS who was involved in this betrayal of the public trust ought to be fired immediately and banned from our profession forever. And I hope they are.

BEGALA: Well, I'll tell you this. One way that I admire Dan Rather is he has got the integrity to admit when he makes a mistake and George WE. Bush ought to have the integrity that Dan Rather has.


BEGALA: No. CBS made a mistake. Rather owned up to it. He went on national television and said, we goofed and he's owned up to it.


CARLSON: Actually, no, he didn't.


CARLSON: He originally blamed the White House. He blamed the right-wing conspiracy.


CARLSON: He said the story itself was accurate.

BEGALA: He has taken responsibility for the mistakes that his network has made, as he should.

CARLSON: No, he hasn't.

BEGALA: When will our president take responsibility for the


BEGALA: ... he has made?

CARLSON: Please. Give me a break. Come on.

BEGALA: Well, today, more grim news from Iraq.

An Islamic Web site says that terrorists have beheaded another American. President Bush declared -- quote -- "These killers will not shake our will" -- unquote. Earlier today, in a 25-minute speech to the United Nations, Mr. Bush spent much of his time defending his decision to invade Iraq, rather than trying to build new alliances. At one point, Mr. Bush almost seemed a bit cavalier about American deaths in Iraq, saying -- quote -- "The advance of freedom always carries a cost paid carried by the bravest among us" -- unquote.

Indeed. But when brave Americans are paying the ultimate price, don't you think we deserve a president who levels with them and listens to Republicans like Chuck Hagel, who says that Mr. Bush is losing this war and that we need a new direction? John Kerry yesterday outlined a four-point plan for Iraq. Mr. Bush has a four- word plan, more of the same.

CARLSON: That's just a campaign-talking point.


CARLSON: Look, you can argue about whether Bush should admit the reality of Iraq, which is that things aren't going well. And they're not. But the idea that somehow John Kerry's speech yesterday was a bold new direction in Iraq is a joke. It's not. He was not serious, Paul.

He actually outlined things that Bush has already suggested doing and we haven't been able to do for serious reasons that have nothing to do with Bush in the first place. They have nothing to do with Bush. And if Kerry becomes president, I can promise you he will not be able to fulfill what he promised yesterday.

BEGALA: Well, first off, if Bush is reelected, he won't be able to fulfill anything.


BEGALA: He only offers more of the same. Kerry, for example, said Bush should go to the U.N. and call for a summit to try to get everybody together, show these nations their stake in the outcome in Iraq.


CARLSON: As if they're too dumb -- if they're too dumb to know.

BEGALA: You can shoot at the new ideas, but they're certainly better than the old ideas.

CARLSON: Well, at the core -- speaking of, at the core of nearly everything John Kerry says about Iraq is a single assumption: George W. Bush is the problem. Once Bush is gone, Kerry claims in speech after speech after speech, everything about Iraq will improve. Other countries will send their troops and their money. The insurgency will die. Democracy will take root. It will always be 75 degrees and sunny.


CARLSON: The problem is, Kerry's assumption is totally false, if not pretty darn silly. As one former CIA Iraq expert told "The Washington Post" this morning -- quote -- "There's no sign that the international community is willing to contribute to stabilizing Iraq or helping with security, even if there's a leadership change in Washington."

Of course. The rest of the world may not like Bush, and they don't. But it's American foreign policy, our support for Israel, our war on terrorism, that they actively oppose. That's the problem. And Kerry supports these exact same policies, which means, if elected, the rest of the world will oppose him, too. And he ought to be honest about that.


CARLSON: It's true.


BEGALA: When Bill Clinton was our president, we fought terrorism and supported Israel. And we had allies around the world.

CARLSON: He didn't fight terrorism


BEGALA: Of course he did.


CARLSON: No, he didn't. He let Osama bin Laden go three times.


CARLSON: The 9/11 report says that, and you know it.

BEGALA: When George W. Bush continues to mislead people about this war, that is the issue in this election, and a fish rots from the head down. We get rid of him, the whole policy will change.

CARLSON: That's not true, and you know it.

BEGALA: It is true. Yes, it is true.



CARLSON: That's a great campaign talking point.


CARLSON: Western Europe will not be on our side in Iraq.

BEGALA: Your theory is Bush -- your theory is, Bush has so screwed this up, that even Kerry can't fix it, so we should keep the guy who screwed it up?


CARLSON: That's not my theory at all. My theory is -- my theory is, give us real ideas. Don't give me this childish thought about it's all --they just hate Bush's personality. That's a lie and you know it.


BEGALA: He gave a brilliant speech yesterday. You should have read it.


CARLSON: I did read it. We did a show on it. What are you talking about?

BEGALA: You should read it again, then. It's a terrific speech.

Anyway, throughout this misbegotten war, President Bush's strongest ally has been Great Britain. So it is noteworthy that a senior member of the British government yesterday said that Mr. Bush's policies are actually helping al Qaeda terrorists.

Sir Ivor Roberts, the British ambassador to Italy, declared that Mr. Bush is quote -- "the best recruiting sergeant ever for al Qaeda" -- unquote.

Sir Ivor went on to note -- quote -- ""If anyone is ready to celebrate the eventual reelection of Bush, it's al Qaeda" -- unquote.

Now, in fairness to President Bush, al Qaeda is not the only group that would celebrate a Bush reelection. Of course, so would Exxon and late-night comics, people who dump arsenic in the water, and, of course, Mr. Bush's loved ones, the board of directors of Halliburton.



CARLSON: I think you make a really significant point here. Once Sir Ivor is against you, you really don't even deserve -- I don't even know why Bush is even bothering to run.

BEGALA: He's a senior member of our strongest ally.


BEGALA: I told a joke at the end.


CARLSON: But you ended on a note you can't refuse hitting, and that's Halliburton.

BEGALA: Halliburton. Halliburton. Halliburton.

CARLSON: Let me just say, when this is all over and you get the help you need, you'll recognize that Halliburton is like insane.



CARLSON: It doesn't mean anything.

BEGALA: So you're not troubled -- you're not troubled that a senior member of our strongest ally says that Bush is helping the terrorists?

CARLSON: I'm troubled by a lot of things about Iraq. I think that's a totally -- that was a totally unfair thing to say, an outrageous thing to say.

I'm troubled by a lot of things about Iraq. And I say so directly. I don't work for anybody but me, and I say exactly what I think.

BEGALA: I don't either. I don't either.


CARLSON: And I think Iraq is a problem.

BEGALA: But when a senior member of closet ally says that Bush is undermining the war on terrorism, he's not the lone ranger either. There's a lot of people who believe that.



CARLSON: That's not an argument, however. It's just -- Sir Ivor is against him. Who cares what Sir Ivor thinks?


BEGALA: He makes a very interesting point, that our closest ally thinks the


CARLSON: We have got to have Sir Ivor on the show. BEGALA: I would love


CARLSON: Well, the president has asked the world to step up and help out in Iraq. Will anyone respond to that? And is there a Kerry campaign connection to the man who fed false documents to CBS? And what is CBS' problem, anyway?

And later, some things you won't see at this year's presidential debates. And you can thank Al Gore for one of them. Here's a hint.


CARLSON: We'll be right back.




BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

President Bush told the United Nations General Assembly today that his invasion of Iraq was the right thing to do. John Kerry says he should have used the chance to call a summit to enlist the world to help stabilize and rebuild Iraq. And just hours ago, an Islamic Web site reported that yet another American has been beheaded in Iraq.

Here to discuss all of this in the CROSSFIRE, from New York, Richard Holbrooke. He's a former American ambassador to the United Nations and a former assistant secretary of state. And Congressman Peter King. He's a New York Republican and he sits on the House International Relations Committee.

Gentlemen, good to see you both.


CARLSON: Ambassador Holbrooke, thanks a lot for joining us.

I want to ask you quickly about this CBS story, now that it's been shown that there was some coordination between the Kerry campaign and CBS News. I actually don't hold the Kerry campaign responsible for that. Campaigns obviously have no standards. But CBS ought to have some.


CARLSON: And it's pretty outrageous, it seems to me. But here's my question. Does the Kerry campaign really think, as Terry McAuliffe has said repeatedly, that it's going to get political mileage out of talking about George W. Bush's service or lack of service in the National Guard? Does anybody care and isn't that kind of a pathetic distraction from the real issues facing our country? RICHARD HOLBROOKE, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UNITED NATIONS: Well, I think the real issues are clearly the ones like Iraq, the economy, and health care. You're the ones who have brought up the swift boat business, which I think is grossly dishonest.

As for CBS, CBS made a whopping mistake. It has nothing to do with the election. And let's not get high and mighty here. CNN made a hellacious set of mistakes on Vietnam a few years ago. NBC had its crisis. Mistakes happen. CBS has apologized. It has nothing to do with the campaign.

CARLSON: Well, OK, since you're weighing in on media ethics here, Mr. Ambassador, what do you think of the idea that a CBS News producer called Joe Lockhart over on your campaign and passed on the number of someone who wanted to help the campaign, facilitated, coordinated a meeting between these two people? Are you going to defend that or do you think it's repulsive?

HOLBROOKE: Tucker, I did not come on this show to talk about solipsistic media trivia.


HOLBROOKE: This is a great campaign with major issues in it, and if you want to talk about CBS, I'll just wait until we're talking about issues that will affect the nation and the world.

CARLSON: Then you tell me, Mr. Ambassador, why is it the DNC Web site had links to this story on it if it's just solipsistic?


BEGALA: Let me bring Congressman King into this.

Not to bore you with solipsism, but it seems to me at least Dan Rather can claim the integrity of admitting his mistake. And you know what? When CBS gets it wrong, nobody dies. Shouldn't the president have the courage of Dan Rather to come out and say: "I made a mistake in Iraq. I need a new strategy. I need new allies. I need a new direction"? Shouldn't the president admit his mistakes, the way Dan Rather did at CBS?

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: Actually, I wish Dan Rather were half the man that George Bush is.

Dan Rather is not guilty of a mistake. He's guilty of criminal negligence. For him to put that story on when both the person's widow and his son told him it was wrong, their own experts said that the documents were questionable, when they got them from such a questionable source, to put those type of documents on with that type of background to me shows incredible bias on Dan Rather's part.

And he should be ashamed of himself. As far as I'm concerned, CBS should fire him and we should find out what were Joe Lockhart and Max Cleland talking with this guy Burkett?


BEGALA: So you think it's worse -- you think it's worse for CBS to publish and broadcast forged documents than, say, to tell the world that Saddam Hussein somehow is linked to 9/11 or that he had weapons of mass destruction or that had links to al Qaeda or that he had unmanned vehicles that could attack America or that he was six months from a nuclear weapons, all things the Bush administration told us? Come on. There's no comparison here.


KING: Paul, OK. Paul, actually, let's get this straight.

The Senate intelligence report itself said that there was no lying at all on Iraq. If there were mistakes made, they were also made by John Kerry, who also said that he thought they had nuclear weapons. He also said that Saddam Hussein could give these weapons to terrorists.

And the facts is, in the post-9/11 world, thank God that President Bush had the guts to realize you cannot give a dictator such as Saddam Hussein the benefit of the doubt. As Joe Lieberman said, Americans will eternally grateful and proud for what we have done in Iraq.


CARLSON: Ambassador Holbrooke, it seems to me that John Kerry's entire critique of Iraq rests on a single premise. And that is that the rest of the world opposes American foreign policy because they dislike President Bush, and once President Bush is gone, somehow we'll all be one big happy world community again.

That strikes me as untrue, one, and not very serious coming from a campaign full of pretty serious people like you. Do you believe that?

HOLBROOKE: Well, Tucker, what's untrue is your characterization of Senator Kerry's position.

Let's be very clear here. Senator Kerry has said quite clearly that Saddam Hussein was a terrible dictator and his removal was a good thing. What he has further said is that the way it happened was wrong and that the costs are so high that we're now paying a fearful international price.

I happen to believe -- and I have traveled now to about 15 countries this year -- plus, I've seen some leaders here in New York at the U.N. this week -- that they would reassess American relations in a wider context if John Kerry were elected.

But the issue isn't that. It's not for foreigners to decide our presidency. It's for us to. The issue is the one that Paul Begala has already raised. And that is, was the president right to take us to war at that time in that way? You know, a good objective, in this case, regime change, which John Kerry supported in 1998 and again in '02, a good objective badly carried out can create a major problem, as we learned to our great sorrow in Vietnam. What we face now is a great crisis in Iraq. And I think it's quite appropriate it's moved to the center of the stage. We've only had four elections during since the Civil War during wars, 1944, '52, '68 and '72. This is the fifth. And it's quite appropriate that we have the great debate that's now under way.

CARLSON: I agree with you on much of what you said, Ambassador Holbrooke. But, still, Mr. Kerry's plans for Iraq going forward rest pretty squarely, as you just put it, on foreigners. And right now, Iraq is really dangerous. That's why, as you put it, foreigners don't want to send troops to help us out. We have to make it safer. How is he going to make Iraq safer so that other countries will want to add troops?


HOLBROOKE: Tucker, let me be clear about yesterday's speech.

Senator Kerry -- the four points you're talking about are what Senator Kerry said should be done right now. He also said in a sentence that didn't get much attention in the speech that neither he nor anyone else can predict what the situation will be next January.

Let me say -- and I don't think my friend Peter King would disagree with this -- that every assessment we are receiving is that Iraq will be worse on Election Day than it is today, that the policies we have are not working, and that we are putting Americans at tremendous risk for a policy that needs to be strengthened and restructured.

BEGALA: Congressman King, in fact, let me play you a piece of videotape. Senator Kerry today had a press conference with reporters. I remember what press conferences were when I worked in the White House. This president doesn't seem to want to hold very many. But Senator Kerry did.

And he spoke very directly about what he thinks the president's problem is in Iraq at the initial instance, which is, he says the president's not leveling with us. Let's take a look at what Senator Kerry said today.


SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: But he seems to be in denial. He doesn't want to admit what even Prime Minister Allawi admitted yesterday. Terrorists are pouring across the border, ladies and gentlemen. That's what the prime minister of Iraq said.

And I believe that more than just Americans should be bearing the burden of getting and achieving this success.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BEGALA: Congressman, isn't it embarrassing for our president to be corrected about Iraq by the American-installed prime minister in Iraq?


What's embarrassing is for John Kerry somehow try to give the impression that he's going to be finding troops from other countries to come in. Listen, I debated John Kerry back on this very show back in 1997, and he said at that time that the French had no backbone, the Russians had no backbone, and the United States had the right to take action against Iraq whenever it was in our national interests.

And Bill Clinton just this summer said that Tony Blair was right to go to war into Iraq, rather than wait for the U.N. to go further, because, no matter what Hans Blix had come up with, he said the French and the Germans were never going to give any support in Iraq whatsoever. And that's the reality. That's the reality that George Bush faces. He's telling us the truth. It's John Kerry who's living in this fantasy world that he's going to find troops, when the fact is that none exist.

And he should level with the people and tell us what his real differences are, not come up with some fairy tale about troops coming from unknown countries.

BEGALA: Well, yes, sir. Let me come back, though, to the question. That's a blistering attack on Senator Kerry. You executed it quite well.

But the question actually was about the president's assertion that security is improving, we are making progress, the president's words, when even the prime minister of Iraq says that's not the case, that foreign terrorists are pouring across the border. Shouldn't the president level? Even John McCain, who I think you supported for president, John McCain says the president is not leveling with us. Isn't that a problem for him?

KING: Well, actually, John McCain was talking about Fallujah. And he thinks that the president should take toucher action in Fallujah. And I am inclined to agree with that.

But those are honest differences. But the president has never said it's easy in Iraq. That's why he has assigned General Petraeus, who I think is an outstanding military leader, to train the Iraqi army. And I think he's doing a very good job in doing that. This is not going to be done in the next one, two or three months, but it is going to be done.

And the president wouldn't have assigned General Petraeus to build up the Iraqi army if he thought everything was going great. Obviously, we know there's problems there. The president has always said that. We know there's problems. The fact is, is how do we cope with them? I think the president is doing the right thing in going forward. And I wish John Kerry -- now he has Dick Holbrooke working for him, which is a great sign. I think Dick Holbrooke is terrific. But having said that, I wish John Kerry showed some of the same consistency on this issue that Dick Holbrooke showed in the Balkans during the 1990s.

CARLSON: We're going to take a quick break to allow commerce to occur. We'll be right back.

Next in "Rapid Fire," why does the rest of the world hate us? We'll try and figure that out.

And just ahead, another American hostage is beheaded. Wolf Blitzer has reaction.



Coming up at the top of the hour, President Bush meets with Iraq's prime minister. Join us for a one-on-one interview with Iyad Allawi.

There's a report that a second American has now been beheaded in Iraq. We'll have the latest from Baghdad.

And Native Americans celebrate the opening of a new museum on the National Mall. We'll take a close look inside the Museum of the American Indian.

Those stories, much more, only minutes away on "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS."

Now back to CROSSFIRE.

CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. It's time for "Rapid Fire," where the issues are big, but the questions are quick and so are the answer. Our guests, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Richard Holbrooke and New York Republican Congressman Pete King.

BEGALA: Congressman King, the latest "New York Times" poll says that 80 percent of Americans think that the president is either hiding something or mostly lying. Are they fools?

KING: No. I think you can find any number you want in the poll. All I know is that almost every poll shows that President Bush is winning, and by more than 2-1 they trust him over John Kerry. I'll take those numbers any time.

CARLSON: Ambassador Holbrooke, one of the main reasons the rest of the world hates us is because we support Israel. Will John Kerry change that policy in any way?

HOLBROOKE: One thing is for sure. Both President Bush and Senator Kerry have equal support of Israel. It is not a domestic political issue. It should not be and it will not be. When the Europeans say this to me -- and I've heard it many times -- my answer is, that's one of the fundamental differences between us and you. BEGALA: Amen.

Congressman King, Senator Chuck Hagel, Republican of Nebraska, says we are losing in Iraq. Do you agree?

KING: I disagree with Senator Hagel. I have a lot of respect for him, but I disagree with him on that.

But I certainly agree with what Dick Holbrooke just said about Israel. Both candidates are absolutely committed to Israel.

CARLSON: Ambassador Holbrooke, the United Nations has refused to send troops. No country will send troops to protect election workers in Iraq. Why won't John Kerry criticize the United Nations for that?

HOLBROOKE: Why didn't John Kerry criticize the United Nations for that?

CARLSON: Yes. Why won't he criticize the U.N. for that or anything else?

HOLBROOKE: I'm sorry, Tucker, but he has. He's repeatedly called on U.N. members to do more. And, remember, the U.N. is just a building on the East River of New York. It's the 191 nation states that have to do something.


HOLBROOKE: And it's been President Bush who has had difficulty getting them to support him.

BEGALA: Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, who served us so admirably on that big building on the East River, thank you very much for joining us.

Congressman Peter King from New York.

Thank you as well, gentlemen, for an enlightening debate.


BEGALA: Speaking of debates, Tucker and I have lots of experience of course debating on live television. So coming up next, we're going to offer a few pointers to the presidential candidates as they prepare for their own little turn in their version of CROSSFIRE.

Stay with us.



CARLSON: Well, the toughest part about setting up the presidential debates wasn't agreeing on a time and place. It was the details. A much-argued over 32-page agreement lays out in great detail what Bush and Kerry can and cannot do during the debates. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: ... doesn't believe in exploration, for example, in Alaska. There's a lot of shut-in gas that we need to be moving out


CARLSON: Well, unfortunately, deep sighing will still be allowed. You can't legislate body functions. But there won't be any cutaways, shot of one person, usually the inferior person, watching when the other is talking.


CARLSON: Also, these are no-contact debates. Candidates cannot approach one another, except for a handshake at the end, not touching, no feeling, none.

And Richard Nixon in 1960 might have inspired this one. Each candidate can use his own makeup artist. They just can't use anything to make them look taller, no platform shoes. And if a candidate goes on a little too long with an answer, he will see flashing lights.


CARLSON: And, finally, an audio warning will cut him off, something we're quite familiar with here on CROSSFIRE.


BEGALA: It's a little silly.

CARLSON: It's a little silly.

BEGALA: I have to say. Why not put them in a room with a microphone...

CARLSON: I agree with that.

BEGALA: ... and no moderator? These are highly -- George Bush went to Yale and Harvard. John Kerry went to Yale. These are highly educated men.

CARLSON: I thought Bush was semi-retarded, though.


BEGALA: He's highly educated. I don't know how he got in. It was affirmative action. It was affirmative action for the money elite.

CARLSON: I thought he was the dumbest man ever. That's what you keep telling us.


BEGALA: And, by the way, he's a highly accomplished debater. I've seen every debate Bush has ever done.

CARLSON: This is so...


BEGALA: They should just put them in a room and let them



BEGALA: Like we do.

From the left, I am Paul Begala. That's it for CROSSFIRE.

CARLSON: And from the right, I'm Tucker Carlson. Join us again tomorrow for yet more CROSSFIRE.


CARLSON: Have a great night.



International Edition
CNN TV CNN International Headline News Transcripts Advertise With Us About Us
   The Web     
Powered by
© 2005 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.
external link
All external sites will open in a new browser. does not endorse external sites.
 Premium content icon Denotes premium content.
Add RSS headlines.