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Cabinet Departures and Arrivals

Aired December 3, 2004 - 16:30   ET


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


JAMES CARVILLE, CO-HOST: Shut your mouth.

ANNOUNCER: Get ready for plenty of fireworks. James Carville faces off with special guest host G. Gordon Liddy.

More shakeups for the Bush team. The president names his choice for new homeland security chief, New York's former top cop, Bernard Kerik. Yet another Cabinet member heads for the door. This time, it's Tommy Thompson. Does the administration overhaul signal a new direction?



ANNOUNCER: Live from the George Washington University, James Carville and, sitting in on the right, G. Gordon Liddy.



Things are changing in Washington. Key players in the Bush administration are dropping like flies. Before long, there's going to be a whole of new -- a new Cabinet. The Bush machine -- is the Bush machine falling apart?

I want to welcome our guest host on the right today, syndicated radio talk show host and fellow hairline specialist, our good sailor.


CARVILLE: Gordon, you got more hair on your lip than we got on our heads in this whole show.


CARVILLE: This might be the first time this ever happened.

Welcome to CROSSFIRE. G. GORDON LIDDY, GUEST CO-HOST: Well, I thank you, very, very much.


CARVILLE: But, first, we're getting on with the best little briefing in television, our CROSSFIRE "Political Alert."

Think of a word. Heck, think of any word, any two words maybe. Sleazeball, scum bag, shakedown artist, trashy human being, disgusting, sickening, putrid. Every one of them apply to Republican Bob Ney of Ohio. Thanks to the "Washington Post" editorial page today, frequent viewers of this show will know that I'm hardly in a group of favorites.

But their editorial today showed how Mr. Ney literally tried to shake down an Indian tribe to get legislation passed for their benefit. John McCain deserves a lot of credit for bringing the light on this. Any viewers wishing to get a more detailed account of Mr. Ney's putrid and disgusting behavior should go online to "The Washington Post" and read their editorial, "Operation Open Doors."


LIDDY: Ah, white man speak with forked tongue.


CARVILLE: I just -- it doesn't -- but this thing is going to be -- and I think Senator McCain, who is a Republican, deserves a lot credit for bringing this out. But what they tried to do, and when -- this whole story comes out of what they did to these people. It's unbelievable, the way this town operates. And you're right. White man, he might speak with forked tongue, but he has forked hand out for dough.

LIDDY: Yes. You don't expect me to defend that?

CARVILLE: No, sir. I don't.



LIDDY: Well, a United Nations regional group, dubbed the African Group, is throwing its support to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

A letter from the African Group expresses deep concern over media reports criticizing the U.N. and Annan in particular. The reports stem from revelations that Annan's son, "Mojo Kojo," remained on the payroll of a company involved in the oil-for-food controversy long after the U.N. said he. Annan says he's not involved in his son's affairs and had nothing to do with any transactions in the oil-for- food program.

In fact, this is just more proof of the deeply corrupt state of the world body, whose greatest talent is leeching tax dollars from its greatest benefactors, the American taxpayers. Enough is enough!


LIDDY: The U.S. should withdraw from the U.N., cut it off and send it packing immediately.

CARVILLE: We have effectively withdrew now, you know what I mean? We don't get to listen to them on anything else, so why the hell don't they just get out anyway, if that's the way -- I don't think most Americans feel that way. And I think this oil-for-food thing is a scandal that needs to be looked in to. But just because there's a scandal -- there's scandals in the U.S. government. We don't disband the U.S. government. If there are scandals in the U.N., we'll look at it and fix it.


LIDDY: The U.S. government serves a purpose.


LIDDY: The U.N. doesn't.

CARVILLE: Well, when you see what a sorry excuse of a human being Bob Ney is, it makes you ill. When you see how stupid Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is, it makes you want to laugh.

You see, Senator Frist, one of the architects of the huge federal budget deficit we have, controls a campaign fund than has lost over -- now, get this -- $450,000 in investments since 2000. It also lacks sufficient money to cover bank loans. At the end of September, Frist reportedly only had $312,000 left in the cash and owed debts of about $449,000.

This idiot want to tell seniors that they need to invest their Social Security funds in the stock market when he lost almost a half- mil? Please.


LIDDY: Well, the good doctor is...



LIDDY: The good doctor is a good doctor. He's not necessarily a good investment counselor.

CARVILLE: But he is the majority leader of the United States Senate. And I guess he's a nice guy. I'm sure he's a great heart surgeon. But our news, our Treasury is bleeding like his campaign fund is bleeding. And he should have stayed operating on hearts, and he would be great at doing that.


LIDDY: Use an index fund.

CARVILLE: There you go, an index fund. That's what it is. OK.


LIDDY: All right.

The Associated Press says today that the country -- country -- results show that President Bush's margin of victory in Ohio in November 2 was smaller than originally believed. It shrank to about 119,000. But that's still not enough to trigger an automatic recount. Nevertheless, the Kerry campaign added its name this week to a lawsuit filed by the candidates for the Green and the Libertarian parties, seeking a court-mandated recount.

An attorney representing the Democrats' campaign says it's not contesting the loss in Ohio. He says that the Kerry campaign only wants to make sure that the recount is done accurately. Well, OK, sure. The recount could change the outcome in Ohio, then the entire election. But that's extremely unlikely.

Senator Kerry, get a grip. Quit beating a...


LIDDY: Quit beating a dead horse. And in the immortal words of George Soros, move on.



CARVILLE: Well, look, I don't -- it would be good to get an accurate count. As I understand, they're putting up some money to do this and -- and I'd say they're not contesting the election, but the margin's already gone from 136,000, I think, to something like 119,000. And if people are entitled it under the law, they ought to be able to do it.


CARVILLE: But the election is over. But we ought to -- at least we ought to know where it ends at.

OK. Just ahead, we debate the latest shakeup in the Bush administration. And just who is Deep Throat? As long as G. Gordon Liddy is here, we'll have the latest development in that Watergate mystery later on CROSSFIRE.

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. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


CARVILLE: Is the shakeup in the Bush administration just a natural part of a second term or is the Bush team breaking down?

Joining us in the CROSSFIRE, Congressman Mike Pence, a Republican from Indiana. He's a member of the House Judiciary Committee and the Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security Subcommittee, and Democratic Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton of the District of Columbia. She sits on the Committee for Homeland Security.


CARVILLE: Thank you.

LIDDY: Thank you.


LIDDY: Thank you very much.


LIDDY: Congresswoman Norton, the latest appointment is Bernard Kerik of New York to replace Tom Ridge. Were you in the Senate, would you be voting to confirm him?

ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON (D), WASHINGTON, D.C. DELEGATE: Maybe so, but I'd have a lot of hard questions.

The man probably knows New York, but does he know Washington? Look, sitting on the Homeland Security Committee, I can tell you that the department is not nearly cohesive. The hardest problems haven't been solved. The man has run a 40,000-member department. Now he's supposed to run a 180,000 Cabinet agency consisting of a dozen different agencies still trying to find their way to the men's room. I don't know. I'd have it find out.


CARVILLE: Go ahead.


LIDDY: That's all right.

I was just going to say that one of the things Mr. Kerik is known for is banging through bureaucracy and getting to the heart of matters and doing the job.

But, James?

(CROSSTALK) CARVILLE: Let's go. Let's continue with this homeland security thing. Do you think there need to be any changes in the agency? And what kind of changes do you think that assuming -- it seems he would be confirmed -- that this man will bring about?

PENCE: Well, James, I'm delighted that you think Bernie Kerik will be confirmed. That's an encouraging bit of news for all of us.


CARVILLE: ... say so. But I think that Senator Kennedy and Senator Clinton, though, who said, so I assume that he will.



PENCE: Well, and he should be.

Look, this is a guy who from his service in the military in Korea -- he was a beat cop in New York City. He knows the street. And he has -- as he said, he has seen terrorism up close and personal. He saw the heroism and the terrorists that day.

CARVILLE: I understand that he was a beat cop.


CARVILLE: I was a corporal. That doesn't make me secretary of defense, OK?


PENCE: But it doesn't hurt you any.

Look, he's the right man for the job. And I mean to tell you that Tom Ridge has done a brilliant job, not just at secretary of the department, but, in fairness to Eleanor's comment, not everything's been done perfectly. This is a department that this administration created in the wake of a national tragedy.


CARVILLE: I think, to be fair, at the suggestion of the Democrats and to Lieberman, to be fair.



Bernie Kerik -- and that is fair, that there were those who called for a Cabinet-level agency. It was created in the wake of September 11. Tom Ridge has done a brilliant job. Bernie Kerik is the right man for the job right now.

LIDDY: Congresswoman Norton, we were speaking earlier about this recount in Ohio, apparently is being led by the Reverend Jesse Jackson.


LIDDY: And he was very critical of the individual in Franklin County who is running -- that is where Columbus is and that is where so many Democrats are. And he said that the long lines at the polls discouraged voters. And he thought that the first person who was running the thing did it deliberately.

And the guy who was running the thing, one, he's a Democrat. And, two, he's black. And he said, why would I try to discourage my fellow Democrats and fellow blacks from voting? What was Reverend Jackson thinking of?

NORTON: Have you ever heard of Clarence Thomas? Because the man is black doesn't tell me anything about him.

And it seems to me that we ought to question folks who are so ill-prepared for an election after the 2000 debacle, whatever their party and whatever their race.

LIDDY: Why would you think a Democrat would try to sabotage the Democratic electorate?

NORTON: He was doing the opposite.


CARVILLE: Blackwell is a Republican, isn't he?

NORTON: No. He said that this particular county had a Democrat.

LIDDY: Franklin County.


NORTON: No, he wasn't trying to sabotage the election.


NORTON: He was going to where the problem was and pointing it out, regardless of race, color, creed or political party. You ought to applaud Jesse Jackson for that.


LIDDY: No, no, no.


CARVILLE: Let's go to something that we've got to -- we're counting on. And let's talk about this Social Security thing and the transition costs.

And, as I understand it, the Republicans are saying, we're going to put this off budget. It's somewhere between $1 trillion and $2 trillion. What is the affect on the taxpayer for having something on or off? Does that mean we don't have to pay it back if we put it off budget?

PENCE: No. We are going to have to pay it back.



PENCE: Yes, we are going to have to pay it back.

But, look, James, I think the cost, as we move into that debate, and I think with the president's leadership, the -- reforming and modernizing Social Security is going to be a centerpiece of this next Congress.

CARVILLE: Right. Right.

PENCE: We need not just to talk about the $2 trillion that a transition to private savings accounts welcome require, but the fact, if we do nothing, James, it will cost the American taxpayers in the next 50 years for or five times in increased payroll taxes than if we bring about the reforms.


CARVILLE: We've got $2 trillion, OK? We've grown to $2 trillion. And we've got to reform AMT, all right, alternative minimum tax. As I understand it, that's about 500 -- that's about half a trillion?

PENCE: Right. Yes, right.


But you all -- when the president presents his budget in January, I guess when they do, what do you think he's going to be calling on to cut to deal with this? And, as you know, we have these high structural deficits. Where do you, as a fiscal conservative, look to this president, who claims he's a fellow conservative. I don't have any evidence of it, but he does claim it. Where do you look for him to cut the budget here?

PENCE: Well, I appreciate your affection for fiscal conservatism, James. I...

CARVILLE: I don't -- I don't consider -- I would say you are one.

PENCE: I am one.

CARVILLE: That's just like saying you're from Indiana, because it just is a fact.

PENCE: Yes. Look, I think -- I frankly think the recent omnibus bill that held the increase in discretionary spending to the lowest level since 1995 was evidence that this Congress, this president, are committed to putting our fiscal house in order. And I think you're going to see this administration produce a budget that actually calls for cuts.

It might be NIH. It might be elsewhere. But we've got to put our fiscal house in order. But the only way we are going to do that is if we take on not just what we have discretion over spending, but if we take on reforming entitlements, Social Security and Medicare. Those are the big-ticket items.

NORTON: And no more tax cuts for the rich? How about that? How about no more tax cuts, permanent tax cuts for the rich?

CARVILLE: Well, we're going to cut the NIH. Well, that's what we need to cut here, is cancer funding in the country.

You won't believe what Ken Starr saying now about his investigation of former President Clinton. We'll ask our guests what they think of Starr's latest comments just ahead.


CARVILLE: And Ukraine's Supreme Court issues a key ruling in that country's election dispute. Wolf Blitzer has reactions from around the world.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Wolf Blitzer reporting from Washington.

Coming up at the top of the hour, more than two dozen people killed in near simultaneous attacks in Baghdad. We'll get an update from the Iraqi capital.

Celebrations in the Ukrainian capital after a major decision in that country's disputed presidential election.

Plus, new names emerging in the baseball steroid scandal. The former baseball commissioner Fay Vincent is here to talk about it.

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

Now back to CROSSFIRE.

CARVILLE: Welcome back.

We're debating the changing face of the Bush administration and anything else that happens to come to mind. Our guests today are Republican Representative Mike Pence of Indiana and Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat from the District of Columbia.

Congressman Pence, my -- well, I couldn't call him an old friend, because he's really not a friend of mine -- but Ken Starr in an interview said that he really shouldn't have been -- he shouldn't have investigated the Lewinsky case. Of course, I said that from the beginning.

Do you think that -- what do you think took Starr so long to come to this obvious conclusion that everybody else has?

PENCE: Well, James, hearing you comment on that is pretty choice.

I haven't read the substance of the whole interview. I think what he was commenting on was the fact that that the president's testimony that turned out to be a felony perjury...


PENCE: Became a sidebar.

CARVILLE: According to what...


PENCE: If I can remind you, it was when he was under oath and he denied having any relationship with Monica Lewinsky, if memory serves me.


CARVILLE: I never know...

PENCE: If memory serves.


CARVILLE: What jury found him guilty of felony perjury?

PENCE: I think his comment was having to do with Monica Lewinsky overtaking a larger investigation that he was charged by the American taxpayers to do, and, in my judgment, did with courage.

CARVILLE: Right. But I don't know of any -- do you know of any judicial finding that President Clinton committed felony perjury? I don't. I know a lot of Republican opinion.

LIDDY: Well, after he was out of office, in order to avoid a post-presidency indictment, he admitted to lying under oath.

CARVILLE: Yes, but that's not felony -- it's not felony perjury. I just want to be sure.


CARVILLE: There might have been something I missed. I wasn't hanging around at that time, OK?

(CROSSTALK) LIDDY: Perjury is a felony.

CARVILLE: Seventy million dollars.


CARVILLE: Go ahead.

NORTON: Let this man's presidency rest in peace.


CARVILLE: Let's bring it back.


CARVILLE: ... back.



PENCE: I agree with Eleanor.


CARVILLE: Let's bring it back.

PENCE: Let it rest in peace.


NORTON: Touche.

LIDDY: I have a question for Congresswoman Norton.

Now, I know you are a vigorous advocate for the statehood for the District of Columbia. But the District of Columbia has a population about the size of Memphis. And the idea of giving the District of Columbia two senators just seems to me like a heartfelt wish from the Democratic Party. But from the point of view of the rest of the country, it doesn't seem to make very good sense. Why do you want to do that?

NORTON: Well, Gordon, it's a heartfelt wish from people who are second per capita in the federal income taxes they pay their government. It's a heartfelt wish from people who, by the way, are part of a district which has a population the equivalent of six states that do have two senators and a representative.

CARVILLE: Why does Wyoming -- do you know Wyoming gets a senator?


CARVILLE: They got fewer people -- they got fewer people than the District of Columbia. Nobody said -- they got two senators. Why can't -- what's wrong with the District of Columbia having two senators?

NORTON: I'll tell you what, Gordon. Take away our taxes and maybe we won't ask for equal representation.

LIDDY: Well, nobody is holding...


LIDDY: Nobody is holding a gun -- nobody is holding a gun to any member of the population here, forcing them to live in the District of Columbia. The Constitution doesn't give them these voting rights. And they don't have to.

CARVILLE: They're saying amend the Constitution.

Would you be for giving the District of Columbia statehood? What rational person wouldn't be for that?

PENCE: Well, George Washington wasn't, and I think he was pretty rational.


CARVILLE: I'll tell you what. George Washington was for universal white suffrage. So you think only...


CARVILLE: ... and white males should vote?

PENCE: George Washington...


CARVILLE: George Washington was for slavery. You think we ought to have slavery?


LIDDY: Let's just make a deal.


PENCE: Well, George Washington wasn't right about everything.


PENCE: But I think he was -- I think he was right about the idea that the seat of the national government should have a unique status.


NORTON: And he never opined on the denial of democracy to the residents of the District of Columbia. (CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: What is the argument against giving the people of the District of Columbia two senators and a House member?

LIDDY: James, we'll make a deal. We'll have a combined amendment. And we'll do that and we'll let Arnold Schwarzenegger run for president.



CARVILLE: Let Arnold Schwarzenegger run for president. I'm for that.


CARVILLE: All right, well -- all right, thank you all very much, very much.


CARVILLE: It was a great show. Thank you all, folks. Great guests today.

LIDDY: Thank you very much.


CARVILLE: Woodward and Bernstein know. Does my cohort know who is Deep Throat?






CARVILLE: It has been one of the biggest political mysteries for more than 30 years. Who is Deep Throat?

Finally, we get a clue. For those too young to remember, Deep Throat is the code name for "The Washington Post" reporters' Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward's legendary source in the Watergate scandal. The scandal ultimately brought down the Nixon administration in the early '70s.

Last night, during a lecture at Brandeis University, former "Post" executive editor Ben Bradlee disclosed that Deep Throat is a man. Wow. That really narrows it down.


CARVILLE: My colleague across the desk today has a passing acquaintance with those days.

I wonder if he has any light to shed on the mystery?

Mr. Liddy.

LIDDY: I don't really think there was a Deep Throat. I think it was a composite. It certainly was not I.


LIDDY: Woodward -- the big thing you got to remember is, Woodward and Bernstein did not have a clue as to what Watergate was all about. Their book "All the President's Men" was about how they went about reporting things, but they had no idea what it was about.


CARVILLE: OK. Got to go. Bob and Carl, can't defend you.

From the left, I'm James Carville. That's it for CROSSFIRE.

Thank you, Gordon Liddy.

LIDDY: And from the right, I'm G. Gordon Liddy. Join us again for another edition of CROSSFIRE.

"WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" starts right now.



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