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Moral Values Election?

Aired November 5, 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: From same-sex marriage to stem cell research to spiritual faith, did election 2004 ultimately turn on the question of moral values, and, if it did, did Democrats miss the mark?

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: Our faith is very important to each and every one of us. And it shouldn't have to be either a person of faith or you want to fight for jobs and fight for education, fight for access to quality health care.

ANNOUNCER: Fighting for votes when faith is a factor -- today on CROSSFIRE fire.


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



Three days after the presidential election, it is clear that it was not the war on terror, but the issue of what we're calling moral values that drove President Bush and other Republicans to victory this week. In the end, in other words, most Democrats just don't want Barbra Streisand in charge of their lives.


CARLSON: Democrats had no idea.

PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST: Well, Democrats do need to do a better job of talking about their values. But shouldn't Republicans do a better job of actually living by theirs?


BEGALA: If I hear one more, one more, sanctimonious Republican working on his third divorce lecture me about my values, I'm going to smack him.

But before we engage in the culture wars, let's start with a real war, which leads us to the best political briefing in television, the CROSSFIRE "Political Alert."

Two Marines were killed, four others wounded Thursday when they were attacked in the Al Anbar Province, west of Baghdad. A U.S. soldier was killed when a roadside bomb struck his convoy in the north of Iraq. Three British soldiers and a civilian translator were killed when a suicide car bomber attacked their checkpoint south of Baghdad.

Meanwhile, Doctors Without Borders has announced it is pulling out of Iraq because of what the group calls escalating violence. Now, 18 months ago, President Bush declared that major combat operations were over. They are not. His sign said mission accomplished. It is not. The election was in large measure a referendum on the president's war, and he won. So, red staters, this is your war, but those are our troops. So let's all hope that Mr. Bush has a plan to win the war, not just to win reelection.


CARLSON: Well, he's not running for reelection again.

BEGALA: No, that he had a plan, I should say, bad verb tense.


CARLSON: He's not running for anything again.

BEGALA: Right.

CARLSON: And I think he wants to win the war in Iraq as much as anybody else does.

BEGALA: But he did plan for his election a lot better than he planned for this war. And I think that's a catastrophe.


CARLSON: No. Look, as you know and I have said a million times, I think the war in Iraq was a mistake and a tragic one. But I think the allegation that Democrats make that Bush somehow got us into war for political reasons...


BEGALA: I haven't made that. I've said he's botched it. He is incompetent.


CARLSON: But many have. Look, it has hurt him politically. And he did it anyway. And I think you have to give him points for good faith, if nothing else.

BEGALA: I think he better get us out of it. He better figure out a way to win it.

(APPLAUSE) CARLSON: Well, sure, they loss the presidential race. Yes, their top leader in the U.S. Senate was defeated. Of course, they lost seats in both houses of Congress. But for Democrats, there is at least one bright spot in the news from this Tuesday, and it is, Cynthia McKinney is back on the job. McKinney, you'll remember, is the Georgia Democrat who, shortly after 9/11, accused President Bush of having a personal hand in the attacks on the World Trade Center, part of a vast conspiracy, she alleged, to benefit his Texas oil cronies, mass murder for profit. That is what she accused him of.

Outbursts like these, coupled with anti-Semitic remarks from her campaign, combined to make McKinney embarrassing, even by the notoriously low standards of the Democratic Party. It takes a lot, but she did it.


CARLSON: She was defeated in 2002.

This week, however, she has returned to Congress, thanks to the support of her fellow Democrats, including Michael Moore, who issued a statement describing McKinney's reelection as one reason -- quote -- "not to slit your wrists." But, of course, Michael Moore has it completely backwards. Electing Cynthia McKinney may feel good, but for Democrats, it's still just another form of suicide.



BEGALA: I love this. This is like a sociological study. Conservative white males control the White House, the House, the Senate, the Supreme Court, 495 out of 500 Fortune 500 companies. And they're mad as hell. And they're not going to take it anymore.



BEGALA: So they're going to beat up on this woman?


CARLSON: You make the mistake many Democrats make, which is turning into this into a racial issue. It's not.

BEGALA: Racial? It's not racial at all.


CARLSON: Then why are you saying that white men are some problem?

BEGALA: Because you did. Conservatives are angry about something.

CARLSON: It has nothing to do with her race or anyone's race.

BEGALA: Of course not.

CARLSON: Race does not play factor. The fact is, she accused the president of...


BEGALA: ... about race?

CARLSON: Because you brought it up. And it has nothing to do with Cynthia McKinney.

BEGALA: I didn't bring up her race. I brought up yours. And I think white conservatives are angry.



CARLSON: My race has nothing to do with it. And injecting race is an ugly thing.

BEGALA: It's not ugly.

CARLSON: For which your party ought to apologize.


BEGALA: Oh, nonsense, nonsense.

CARLSON: Who cares? What does race have to do with anything?

BEGALA: I apologize for nothing, except losing to these guys.

Well, my fellow Democrats do wince when they look at the sea of red in the county-by-county map of election results. While it is true that Democrats need to reassess why they're getting pounded in rural and exurban America, it is also true that there is some good news in that map.

New York, where most of the 9/11 victims died, is blue. So are New Jersey and Connecticut, where so many of the 9/11 victims lived. Pennsylvania, where heroic passengers forced Flight 93 to the ground, is blue. And you see that little blue dot in Northern Virginia? That's Arlington County, where the terrorists crashed a plane into the Pentagon. In other words, the people who were most directly affected by 9/11 all rejected President Bush's failed leadership in the war on terror.


BEGALA: Now, maybe, just maybe, the red states felt more comfortable voting for President Bush because they're less likely to get hit anyway. Just a theory, Tucker.

CARLSON: My God. I don't even know what to say to something like that. That's so ugly and stupid.



BEGALA: So how about name-calling?

CARLSON: No, that was name-calling. That was absolutely name- calling. And you earned it.

BEGALA: I think it is brilliant. It is brilliant.

CARLSON: You definitely did.


BEGALA: ... surrender to the genius of my...


CARLSON: There is no truth in that at all. There were people on those planes from all over America, from other countries. There were both people in both towers from around the world and from around this country.

BEGALA: Right.

CARLSON: And I don't think where people lived, the victims, where they lived, has any bearing on anything. They were all Americans.



BEGALA: You don't think it interesting that every place the terrorists struck voted against the president?

CARLSON: No. I think the population centers in this country vote Democratic. And the terrorists hit the population centers, because that's where the people are. That's what I think.


CARLSON: There are few causes dearer to the heart of Democrats than D.C. statehood. It's in the Democratic platform. It was a major theme at the Democratic Convention in New York City this summer. Tiny, mismanaged, incredibly corrupt Washington, D.C., should become a state with two senators right away as a matter of civil rights, that's the official position of the Democratic Party and also apparently the official position of the District of Columbia Air National Guard, which, in an unprecedented show of unprovoked force, declared war on a nearby state this week.

On Wednesday night, an F-16 fighter from the D.C. National Guard fired at least two dozen 20-millimeter rounds through the roof of a middle school in suburban New Jersey. No one was hurt. District officials claim it was a mistake. As if. A more logical explanation, frustrated by their lack of congressional representation, District officials decided to stage their own Fort Sumter.


CARLSON: And, with characteristic incompetence, mistook a school for a military installation. It was, in other words, the beginning of an insurrection. We'll bring you more details from the front as they become available.



CARLSON: That's going too far, Paul!


BEGALA: That's an interesting theory.

CARLSON: Look, they want D.C. statehood. That's fine. You shouldn't attack other states, though.

BEGALA: That could be.

I'm from Texas. And I can remember the day the Texas Air National Guard had a pilot or two who was drinking a little too much. And maybe that's what happened to in the D.C. National Guard. I don't know. But thank God we can laugh about it, because no one was injured.



CARLSON: Look at me in the eyes and, as someone who lives near Washington, D.C., tell me you think Washington ought to become a state.

BEGALA: Oh, absolutely, tomorrow. Absolutely.




BEGALA: They are a colony today. They should be able to vote and elect people. My goodness, if Texas can, why can't D.C.?


CARLSON: Absolutely.

(LAUGHTER) CARLSON: It would be good for cable news. We would never run out of stories. I hope they do become a state.


CARLSON: Well, what role did values play in President Bush's election victory on Tuesday and what does the Democratic Party have to do to reconnect with voters who say moral values are important to them?

And later, you won't believe how officials decided one election tie in Nevada this week, or, as they call it, Nevada.

We'll be right back.

ANNOUNCER: Join Carville, Begala, Carlson and Novak in the CROSSFIRE. For free tickets to CROSSFIRE at the George Washington University, call 202-994-8CNN or visit our Web site. Now you can step into the CROSSFIRE.



BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

The post-election postmortems have begun. Did the so-called value voters turn the tide of the '04 election and drastically change the American political landscape?

Joining us today to answer this question in the CROSSFIRE, former Christian Coalition president Randy Tate, and, from Chicago, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, president of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, former candidate for the presidency of the United States.


BEGALA: Good to see you both.


CARLSON: Reverend Jackson, thanks for joining us.

I want to ask you just a completely nonpolitical question. I'm not sure I even know the answer myself. I would be interested in your take. And that is this. Church attendance is one of the strongest predictors of voting behavior. The more often you go to church, the more likely you are to vote Republican. The less often you go, the less likely you are to vote Republican, indeed, the more likely you are to vote Democratic.

Why do you think that is?

REV. JESSE JACKSON, FOUNDER, RAINBOW/PUSH COALITION: Well, I'm not sure. You know, obviously going to church does not mean that one embraces its ethics or its moral foundation.

For, the great moral ethical challenge of values is, how do we defend the poor and deliver the needy? Jesus' position was that I've been -- in order to preach to the Gospel, to preach good news to the poor, to heal the broken-hearted and to set the captives free. We seem to have set aside the basic moral, ethical mission of the church for issues that are essentially diversionary.


CARLSON: Well, so, what you seem to be saying, is though those Republicans go to church a lot, they are somehow not very Christian. That seems liken, A, an unfair thing to say, and, B, a politically counterproductive one to say.


CARLSON: You're not really Christian or you're missing the message or something.

JACKSON: I am not attacking. But I am saying you do measure your Christianity by how you defend the poor and deliver the needy.

So, one, for instance, that the rich young ruler would give tax cuts to the wealthy, looking from mansion down. Jesus would tend to give to those who need minimum wage, who need health care, who need affordable housing. How you treat the least of these is the measure of your Christian character.


BEGALA: Randy, first, good of you to come. It's good to see you again.

TATE: It's good to be on.

BEGALA: Congratulations to you and your allies on a really remarkable victory.

TATE: Thank you.

BEGALA: And I want to come to the point that Reverend Jackson made in just a moment.

TATE: Sure.

BEGALA: But I want to come to another point first and take a look at the leaders, in addition to the president, the leaders of this moral revolution.

Here they are. There is Newt Gingrich, I think, on wife No. 3, Rudy Giuliani at least on wife No. 3. Bill Bennett, we know, gambled away $5 million of his family's money. Rush Limbaugh investigated for illegal drug use. Bill O'Reilly, I don't even think we need to get into.



BEGALA: Now, it is not my position, believe me, as a humble sinner, to stand in judgment of anyone. I'm worse than any of those guys, believe me.



BEGALA: But you know who can, and that's Jesus of Nazareth. And he said this in the Book of Matthew, the Gospel. He said, you hypocrite. First, take the log out of your own eye and then you'll see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.

So why is it that these people want to stand in moral judgment of people who live in blue states?

TATE: Well, I don't think this issue comes down to the individuals you might have had up on your screen and how they voted.

What really mattered is -- was the millions of evangelical, churchgoing individuals and observant Roman Catholics that took the time to go vote because they were concerned about the moral climate in this country. They're not looking for at these particular individuals. They're looking at the president of the United States and the stands that he has taken. They understand that he's not perfect.

BEGALA: But aren't they equally repulsed by the other leaders of the Republican Party? What repulsed them about John Kerry and John Edwards, good men, good family value men, one a Catholic, one a Protestant?

TATE: It is not an issue of, do we like them personally or not or do we think they're a good enough Christian or not? It was based on the issues of the day.

When you look at the key issues of the day, the moral values, the people that said that moral views were the No. 1 issue when they went to go vote, 80 percent of them voted for George Bush. I mean, that's why he had the largest popular vote in the history of this country as a president. That's why, when he went to -- this last election, that he had such a large turnout of evangelicals, because they were moved by what he had to say, that he took a strong stand on the war on terror.

When he saw terror when those airplanes crashed into that building, he called evil for what it was. He said this is a battle between good and evil. On the issue of abortion, he took a strong stand to defend the least in society. On the issue of gay marriage, he believed that we should defend the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman, on these key moral issues of the day.

I also want to address what the Reverend Jackson said about helping the least of the...


TATE: The president had the Samaritan Initiative...


TATE: ... and other initiatives that helped those that were the least...


CARLSON: Now, Reverend Jackson, now, let me just suggest that there are at least a few policies of the Democratic Party that turn off people who say they are concerned with moral values.

And chief among them, it seems to me, would be abortion. Now, the Democratic Party has taken an extreme and completely inflexible position on the subject, which is, there should be no restrictions at all on a woman's so-called right to have an abortion. Now, when the vast majority of Americans think partial-birth abortion is morally reprehensible and gruesome and the party says, we shouldn't ban it, don't you think that is a problem when you want to win over voters concerned with morals?

JACKSON: Partial birth, maybe, but a woman's right to set their termination covers a wide range. It may be incest. It may be an 11- or 12-year-old who is pregnant. It may be one who has been raped. And, at the end of the day, it is the woman who must live in her body with those choices. And those are very tough choices.


CARLSON: I understand that. I understand that, Reverend Jackson. But that's really not the question I asked.

You are taking a somewhat more nuanced view of the subject. That is not at all the view that your party takes, as you well know, or that you take when you give speeches in front of the abortion lobby. And the view that you take, then, is, we ought to have no restrictions at all. And my only question to you is, shouldn't your party moderate its views somewhat on that subject if it hopes to win over people concerned with moral values?

JACKSON: I think that our party should fight for the rights of women and workers and poor people.

CARLSON: Oh, come on.

JACKSON: And we should continue to measure our character by how we address public policy. It is not moral to preemptively strike Iraq, get 1,100 Americans killed, kill tens of thousands of Iraqis, diverting attention away from the people who hit us, and beat our chests as some moral, virtuous people. That's not morally correct.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) BEGALA: Randy, let me come back to this point that Reverend Jackson was making about the poor.

TATE: Sure.

BEGALA: Again, I'm going to turn to the Gospels, rather than try to interpret economics myself.

TATE: Sure. Sure.

BEGALA: You know the story of the righteous man who asked Jesus what had to do to get to heaven.

Here's what Jesus answered: "Jesus looked at him and loved him. 'One thing you lack,' he said. 'Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come and follow me.' At this the man's face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth," doubtless a Republican.


BEGALA: "Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, 'How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.'"

And I'm asking you, are you going to support Christian economics, where we make rich give to the poor, as Jesus instructed Christians to do?

TATE: I think the president has done what I think is in line with trying to change this country and trying to help the least...

BEGALA: By hammering the poor and giving to big corporations, which is what he does?


TATE: No, we can say...

BEGALA: Is that what Jesus would do?

TATE: I'm not a pastor, a priest or a rabbi. And I'm not here to lay out Christian theology.

But I will say that it is an extension of my faith to allow faith-based organizations to get more involved, to make a difference in the lives of individuals.

BEGALA: All right. Good point.

TATE: In fact, this president has put his money where his mouth is.


TATE: He has provided over $1 billion, $1 billion, in grants to ensure that faith-based organizations, from the Salvation Army to Teen Challenge, can go out there and make a real difference in the lives of people.


BEGALA: I understand the faith-based initiative.


BEGALA: The question, though, Randy, the question is, was it right for the president to take away a child tax cut for people making less than $11,000 a year?



BEGALA: That is what he did.

TATE: What is right, Paul, is, he's trying to get rid of the marriage tax penalty that punishes people to get married. The most important foundation in this country is a marriage.


CARLSON: Gentlemen, I'm sorry. I'm going to have to cut you off.


CARLSON: Reverend Jackson, I'm sorry.


JACKSON: We're looking at reverse Robin Hood. And that is not morally correct.

CARLSON: I understand.


CARLSON: And what a great point that is, Reverend Jackson.


CARLSON: If you will just hold on for just one second, we'll take a commercial break.

Next, in "Rapid Fire," is it time for the Democratic Party to make some major changes?

Also, U.S. troops prepare to attack Fallujah. Wolf Blitzer has the latest next.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. Coming up at the top of the hour, the tension grows around Fallujah and there's a blunt warning to insurgents. Time is running out. Doctors say Yasser Arafat is no worse today, but there's talk about a funeral and lots of complications. And four more years for President Bush, what is he going to do with them? Our Carlos Watson has "The Inside Edge."

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

Now back to CROSSFIRE.

CARLSON: Welcome back.

It's time now for "Rapid Fire," where we pose questions faster than Democrats can come up whiny excuses for losing so much ground last week.



CARLSON: And that's pretty fast.

Our guests today, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition president and onetime candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, who joins us from Chicago, and Randy Tate, former president of the Christian Coalition.

BEGALA: Randy, President Bush told "The New York Times, "I don't necessarily believe every single word of the Bible is literally true." Did he say that when he spoke to the Christian Coalition?

TATE: Well, I -- I didn't have a chance to read that article. And I don't know what context...

BEGALA: He says one thing to "The New York Times" and another thing to Christian fundamentalists, doesn't he? He'll say anything to get elected, won't he?

TATE: Well, let me tell you, "The New York Times" in its reporting, and based on the last week of the election, I'm not willing to take that to the bank and take what they said.


TATE: What concerns me is -- what concerns me is the Democratic Party's hostility, or at least perceived hostility, at least on its leadership, to people of faith in this country. You have someone like Al Gore, your nominee, your nominee in 2000, out stumping for John Kerry, in "The New Yorker" magazine said -- quote -- "The president's faith is an American version of the same fundamentalist impulse that we see in Saudi Arabia."

What an amazing statement to make by a candidate. And John Kerry never repudiated that. That is comparing George Bush's Christian faith and those that follow that with people that crash buildings -- or planes into buildings.


TATE: And that's outrageous.

CARLSON: I'm going to get Reverend Jesse Jackson in here.


CARLSON: We learned this week form "Newsweek," Reverend Jackson, that your friend, former President Bill Clinton, Mr. Inclusion, advised Senator Kerry to back gay marriage bans in the 11 states where they were on the ballot. Senator Kerry said, no, he wouldn't. Why would President Clinton suggest Kerry back gay marriage bans, if he's so pro-gay?

JACKSON: Well, I do not know. I know that that issue is essentially one of great diversion. And it is not in fact focusing on this reverse Robin Hood economics of our society, which is...

CARLSON: Well, wait. I asked you a pretty simple question.

JACKSON: I do not know why. I do not know why he made that -- what I do know is that a trillion and a half dollars, half of it went to the top 1 percent, and that the middle class has sunk and the poverty base has expanded. Somebody has got to use the word poor. Poor people matter. Health care matters. Housing matters.



CARLSON: We're going to get Mr. Tate back in here really quick.


BEGALA: Was it moral for the president to sign a tax law that takes away the child tax credit for people making $11,000 a year and raising children and gives the money to big corporations?


BEGALA: Was that a moral act?

TATE: Every tax cut that the president -- every person in America that pay taxes got a tax cut.


BEGALA: That's not true. That's not true.

TATE: We had tax cuts for people that were adopting children. We had tax cuts for families that were punished for getting married, instead of living together.

We had a tax code that allowed working families to keep more of their money, so they could put money aside for their families.

BEGALA: That's going to have to be the last word. I'm sorry. We're out of time.

TATE: You bet.

BEGALA: Randy Tate, president of the Christian Coalition, Reverend Jesse Jackson, my friend in Chicago, thank you both for joining us.


BEGALA: Well, what's the best way to break an election tie? Well, I'll tell you about one you are not going to find in any civics textbook next.

Stay with us.



KENNY ROGERS, MUSICIAN (singing): You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away, know when to run. You never count your money when you're sitting at the table.


BEGALA: That is just about enough Kenny Rogers for me. Let's kill that audio track.

Running for office is a gamble in its own right in even the best of times. But in White County, Nevada, this week, it was a simple game of chance that decided a contested commissioner's race. Each candidate received 1,847 votes on Tuesday. The results were certified. And, yesterday, someone shuffled a deck of cards so the two candidates could draw for the high card. Well, Raymond Urrizaga drew the queen of clubs to beat Robert Swetich's seven of diamonds.

Mr. Swetich clearly knew when to fold them and he turned and congratulated his opponent. Only in Nevada.

And I have to say, Tucker, I think it's a lot better than letting the Supreme Court decide these things.



CARLSON: Well, you know, in a way -- you know, the beauty of that is the same as the beauty of this election. There's no one to blame. No, really, it's bad when there's someone to blame.

BEGALA: Good point, a profound point.

And with that, I hope everybody has a happy weekend. From the left, I am Paul Begala. That's it for CROSSFIRE.

CARLSON: From the right, I'm Tucker Carlson. Join us again Monday for yet more CROSSFIRE.

"WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" starts right now.

See you then.



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