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President Bush's First 100 Days: Critics Scrutinizing His Performance in Washington and Austin

Aired April 27, 2001 - 17:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: Live from Washington, this is INSIDE POLITICS with Judy Woodruff.

Back home in the Lone Star State is President Bush's legacy as governor unraveling? Also ahead...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With a Catholic school kind of discipline, the Bush administration is relentlessly, purposely un-Clintonian.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Candy Crowley on nearly 100 days of presidential contrasts.

Bob Kerrey's disclosures about his Vietnam service are front and center on our Friday roundtable. And there's something a little bit wild in the "Political Play of the Week."

Now Judy Woodruff takes you INSIDE POLITICS.

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you for joining us.

As the 100 days hoopla reaches a crescendo in the next few days, we can expect the fledgling Bush presidency to be scrutinized in nearly every way imaginable. Mr. Bush's record is being revisited in his home state of Texas, as well.

But there, it is his record as governor that's under the microscope: some might say under the knife. Mr. Bush is in Texas, and so is our White House correspondent Kelly Wallace.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KELLY WALLACE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Bush takes a sentimental journey back to his political roots, touring a new Texas history museum in Austin, named after his friend and political ally the late Democratic Lieutenant Governor Bob Bullock.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We know how it turned out. We know there was a record of shared accomplishment and a record of shared credit as well.

WALLACE: But the two-term Texas governor's record is under fire...

PROTESTORS: He's not my president! He's not my president!

WALLACE: ... with dozens of protesters attacking his legitimacy and state lawmakers examining his legacy.

PROF. BRUCE BUCHANAN, UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS: ... to fairly call it undoing the legacy. It's challenging certain features of the legacy, such as the idea that we can expect perpetual tax cuts rather than occasional tax increases.

WALLACE: And so state lawmakers who once voted for tax cuts are now considering tax increases to make up for a budget shortfall, although not this Republican, who says the legislature goes through this every two years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The reality is every session that we meet as a legislature the demands on state resources far exceed state resources, whether we're in a time of a good economy or a bad economy.

WALLACE: Still, lawmakers are considering toughening one of Mr. Bush's environmental initiatives, banning charter schools, his pet project, and restricting the death penalty. Why? Democrats say during the presidential campaign, both sides focused mainly on helping Mr. Bush.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That caused somewhat of a void in terms of us being able to communicate to him with him more about the issues and have a little bit more time, spend more time focusing on what was important for different areas of the state.

WALLACE: The White House stands by Mr. Bush's record in Texas, stressing his ability to work with both parties.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALLACE: But with this president looking to make his mark in Washington, pointing to his Texas accomplishments as an example of what he can do, any unraveling of his legacy here may raise questions about whether his agenda is the right one for the country -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Kelly, specifically, what are the people around the president saying about this reassessment of his policies going on in the Texas state legislature?

WALLACE: Well, it's interesting. They really won't address exactly what is going on. They won't address initiative by initiative about what the state lawmakers are doing here. They prefer to try to make the case about how things were when the president left. They say he left behind a $2.9 billion surplus, low employment, improvements in education. They say he left behind a bipartisan agenda that they hope state lawmakers will build on -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Kelly Wallace with the president, traveling in Austin.

Well, many observers look to Mr. Bush's experience in Texas to help define his presidency. Others try to explain what the new White House is by focusing on what it is not. Here's our senior political correspondent Candy Crowley.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY (voice-over): From what he wears to where he does not go to what he does not say, the message from the Bush White House is as follows: This is not the Clinton White House.

ROBERT DALLEK, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: There is a difference in style, there is a whole difference in tone. When Bill Clinton first came in, there was a quality of helter-skelter to it, people working until midnight every night, racing about in various directions.

CROWLEY: With a Catholic school kind of discipline, the Bush administration is relentlessly, purposely un-Clintonian. The sometimes casual Friday look of the Clinton era is out: Business attire only at the office. Where President Clinton was notoriously tardy, President Bush is intense about punctuality. To be late, he intones, is rude.

Free-flowing, open-ended meetings have been replaced by shorter, focused sessions.

Bill Clinton burned up the headlines, dominated the airwaves and filled every arena. He was so there. And sometimes George Bush is not.

BUSH: And I made my mind not to go to Washington, because I wanted their mothers and dads and loved-ones to be with their family members who just came off Hainan Island without the president creating a scene.

CROWLEY: The contrast is both intended and intrinsic. President Clinton was an emoter, an empathizer who took "feel your pain" from the lexicon of psychiatrists and put it into politics, and eventually into "Saturday Night Live" skits.

President Bush is less expansive, a minimalist, wary of overexposing the presidential aura. Supporters see it all as refreshing. Others think you can overdo the underkill.

DALLEK: What I don't think this president fully understands yet is the extent to which an American president is both a king and a prime minister. We have no royalty, we have no kings or queens. And so the president plays the function of a ceremonial leader, and you cannot eschew that. You can't ignore that.

CROWLEY: President Clinton seemed to know everything about anything and seemed always to be talking. President Bush is a man of fewer words who sometimes doesn't talk at all.

The White House response to racial unrest in Cincinnati was a written statement. Sometimes, he later explained, a president can make a bad situation worse.

BUSH: I felt like the mayor was doing a fine job. I had talked to John Ashcroft to make sure that our administration was engaged in helping calm the situation. He assured me we were.

CROWLEY: Aides call President Bush "plainspoken" -- a folksy, politically attractive description designed to cover a multitude of verbal sins and serve as a Clinton antidote. The political translation of plainspoken is "tells the truth."

One-hundred-day polls show the president gets high marks for how he's handling the job, but his approach to governance carries political risk. It is, for instance, hard to imagine that California's power problems wouldn't have brought President Clinton running and kept him talking. President Bush has yet to visit and has said little, an absence widely perceived in this voter-rich state as an indication of his administration's indifference.

(on camera): Has the Bush administration been of any help in this?

GOV. GRAY DAVIS (D), CALIFORNIA: Secretary Abraham has been a prince. He's done everything I've asked for.

CROWLEY (voice-over): That perception is not the reality hardly matters. In politics, the perception becomes reality. As Ronald Reagan liked to say, 90 percent of life is just showing up.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: In fact, most incoming administrations try to separate themselves from the outgoing one. For George Bush, who has spent the first 100 days defining for the public who he is not, he has about 1,260 more days to define who he is -- Judy,.

WOODRUFF: Very true. Candy Crowley, you make the point that in the White House they're very conscious, as you put it, that President Clinton is an emoter, somebody who is always feeling people's pain. President Bush doesn't want to do that, but still wants to get across to people that he is getting through to them, that he listens to them.

How does he do that?

CROWLEY: Well, he does it just a little more strategically in the sense that he doesn't do it all the time. They really think that President Clinton overplayed his hand on that score.

The other thing to sort of keep in mind is that George Bush in private is given to tears. He is an emotional man, and he tries very hard to fight that back.

He doesn't like that -- that perception that is out there. There have been a couple of times we've done interviews where he started to cry. He doesn't like that. So he does sort of keep a careful check on that so it doesn't get out of hand.

WOODRUFF: All right, Candy Crowley, thank you very much, and we'll see you a little later on the roundtable.

Well, President Bush isn't the only person acting un- Clintonesque. In recent weeks, Bill Clinton himself has broken with his old headline-grabbing ways.

CNN's Garrick Utley reports now on the evolution of Clinton's first 100 days as a former president.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARRICK UTLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Remember when news about Bill Clinton was in our face, every day? Those questionable pardons, which are still being investigated by federal prosecutors.

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I did what I thought was right.

UTLEY: The brother-in-law who lobbied to obtain presidential pardons. The sky-high Manhattan office building with the sky-high rent. Not to mention the White House as the Clinton's home furniture depot.

Bill Clinton's legacy seemed to be losing its balance, and not just on television. But now...

(on camera): ... public silence surrounds him. The television camera crews which used to stand here outside the Clinton home in Chappaqua, New York to follow his every move have gone. Suddenly, Bill Clinton was no longer news.

JOE LOCKHART, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: And there was not probably a happier day for the former president and people who work with him and who support him.

UTLEY (voice-over): Joe Lockhart, who was President Clinton's White House spokesman, stays in touch.

LOCKHART: Someone who is in the center of public life for a long time, it's very hard, you know, to go off it cold turkey.

CLINTON: This guy is terrified the whole time.

UTLEY: Perhaps the hardest adjustment for Bill Clinton has been to ordinary life. After two decades of government housing, where someone else did the shopping and ran the errands.

LOCKHART: He's, you know, proudly called many of us and told us how he's mastered very complicated things like the Palm Pilot, the ATM card. You know, he makes his own phone calls now.

UTLEY: How badly does Bill Clinton miss his former job: the attention, the adulation? We can only guess.

And now, he is busy. There he was in India to support the rebuilding of villages destroyed in the January earthquake. There he was this past week in South Africa to support the building of a more civil society.

Then, there have been the speeches that bring in up to $100,000 each. And there is the less expensive 8,000-square-foot office space in New York's Harlem that Clinton will move into in July.

(on camera): Of course, there's the other side of the Bill Clinton as former president story. There's the Hillary Clinton as new U.S. senator story. The Clintons now are a one-career family: hers.

(voice-over): Most of her week is spent in Washington. The weekends fill up keeping in touch with the voters back in New York state.

LOCKHART: They see each other, you know, at some point during the week, at some point during the weekend, and are always in touch.

UTLEY: Bill Clinton's calendar for May is filled with trips to Europe and China. Still, with a wife away at work and a daughter away at college, home can be an empty nest. But the public quiet that now surrounds Bill Clinton is a welcome relief: for him, for us.

Garrick Utley, CNN, Chappaqua, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: And turning back to the current president: for an inside look at the first 100 days of the Bush administration, be sure to watch "CNN PRESENTS." That's Sunday at 10:00 p.m. Eastern.

And tonight on CNN: Vice President Dick Cheney responds to President Bush's comment that he would "do what it takes" to defend Taiwan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think that the appropriate way to look at it is the United States clearly has the capacity to come to the assistance of Taiwan should they be threatened by the mainland. We saw in 1996 during the Clinton administration, when the mainland launched rockets in a threatening direction, ballistic missiles at Taiwan, off the coast, sent two aircraft carrier battle groups as a reminder to the Chinese of this policy.

And what the president has done is to reiterate that very strong determination on our part that there should not be a resort to force by the mainland in order to try to pull Taiwan closer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Vice President Cheney is the guest on CNN's "LARRY KING LIVE" tonight at 9:00 Eastern, here on CNN.

There's much more to come on this Friday edition of INSIDE POLITICS. Up next, protesters collide with the U.S. military in Puerto Rico. We'll have the latest on the arrests and the resumption of naval bombing exercises.

Also ahead, pardons and influence and political donations: Denise Rich is speaking out on her role in gaining a presidential pardon for her ex-husband.

And later...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOB KERREY, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: When we fired, we fired because we were fired upon. In short, we did not go on a mission with the intent of killing innocent people.

I feel guilty because of what happened, not because of what we intended to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: ... former Senator Bob Kerrey and his revelations about Vietnam: issue one in our weekly political roundtable.

This is INSIDE POLITICS.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: The U.S. Navy resumed its practice bombing runs today on Vieques Island, Puerto Rico. But protesters have been on the scene all day long, and at one point they managed to disrupt the naval exercises.

Standing by for us now on Vieques Island, CNN's John Zarrella -- John.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Judy, I can tell you that behind us there is Camp Garcia, which is of course the point of contention for the Puerto Rican people. And there are roughly about 50 security guards there right now. They equal about the number of protesters who are here now.

But as you mentioned, many of these protesters have been here all day. They got here, they were here when we got here at 7:00 a.m. this morning. And throughout the day, the crowds swelled to probably 300 to 400 by about 2 o'clock this afternoon. And it was at that point that thing turned from peaceful demonstrations to a bit chaotic as groups of the protesters began to break through the chain-link fence with the barbed wire over it at several different points along the barbed wire, breaking through and confronting military police who were in riot gear and on hand in full force here.

Inside behind us here, many of the protesters were arrested. They were on the ground. They were put in handcuffs and then taken away on flatbed trucks.

Very difficult, Judy, to give an estimate of how many people were arrested, but certainly upwards of a dozen here. Eight others were arrested earlier today when they made it over to a small island and managed to disrupt a little bit of the bombing that went on today. They were also arrested by security forces and taken -- and taken away.

The U.S. military says, however, that all of these incursions did nothing to deter them or stop the exercises, both naval bombardment from two destroyers offshore and aerial bombardment from planes that flew out of Roosevelt Roads naval base near San Juan. All went off today and were completed, and the U.S. Navy says despite these protests it plans to continue carrying out and completing this set of military exercises with the Enterprise aircraft carrier task group before that task group heads off either to the Mediterranean or into the Persian Gulf -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: John, there still is some question, though, about whether the protesters were able to cause a -- at least a temporary pause in the bombing exercises. I know CNN producer Allison Flexner quoted in a report -- I know you all are working together there -- is saying that it seemed clear to some observers that that's what happened, that the protesters stopped the bombing exercises.

ZARRELLA: That's exactly -- that's exactly right, Judy. That was about 11:00 a.m. this morning when those eight protesters made it over to a small island. And the word we were getting from Allison and the crews, who were with the U.S. military observers, was that the bombing was halted until they could remove those protesters from that small island, which was actually within the confines of the military base here.

Now, later this afternoon, the Pentagon came out and said, in fact, that it was a planned stoppage in the bombing, which just happened to coincide with the time that those protesters were out on the island. So, that's the spin that the Pentagon is putting on it as of late this afternoon -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: And John, quickly, any sense of what the protesters' plans are going forward?

ZARRELLA: Well, they say they're going to remain here throughout the night and into the early evening. They say that they plan more acts of civil disobedience. They say that more of them plan to try and make their way through the barbed wire and the fence line after dark tonight so that they can be out there on the grounds of Camp Garcia when tomorrow's exercises begin, and then hopefully, they say, be able to once again stop the bombing of Vieques Island, which is the ultimate goal, they say: is to get the U.S. Navy out of Vieques Island. After 60 years, they say they have had enough -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. CNN's John Zarrella reporting from Vieques Island in Puerto Rico.

And a little bit later on INSIDE POLITICS, we expect to have an interview with the governor of Puerto Rico, Sila Calderon, and we will bring her to you just as soon as we can.

There is more political news ahead, including our weekly roundtable of guests. But first, a check of the day's top stories, including the billionaire space tourist. Will Dennis Tito's flight to the International Space Station go as planned? The latest, up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: We'll have more of the day's political news coming up, but now a look at some other top stories. In an exclusive interview, the father of convicted terrorist Timothy McVeigh tells CNN that his son confessed to the federal building bombing in Oklahoma City during a recent meeting in prison. Bill McVeigh told CNN's Susan Candiotti that his son refuses to apologize for the bombing, which killed 168 people. The elder McVeigh says his son told him the federal government raid on Waco, Texas had been -- quote -- "the last straw" that prompted the act of anti-government violence.

Timothy McVeigh is to die by lethal injection on May 16th. His father says his son has asked him not to attend the execution.

Bill McVeigh says he has seen his son for the last time.

Computer problems aboard the Shuttle Endeavor will mean at least one extra day in space for the crew. The problems involve a newly installed robot arm on the International Space Station. A test of the new robot arm is tentatively set for tomorrow, if NASA and the shuttle crew can get the computers that control the robot arm to work properly.

Meanwhile, the launch of the next Russian spacecraft, which includes American Dennis Tito, is still set for about 10 hours from now. Tito paid the Russian space agency $20 million for his space odyssey that will take him to the International Space Station. But NASA is requesting that the Russians delay the launch so that the Soyuz doesn't try to dock with the space station while the shuttle is also docked. However, the Russians say they still plan to launch Tito and the Soyuz rocket on schedule.

The commuter airline Comair announced layoffs today of 2,000 people, half of its work force. The layoffs come as the strike by Comair pilots enters its second month. The National Mediation Board is talking with the union and management in an effort to settle the strike. The main issues are pay, rest time between flights, and retirement benefits.

Canadian authorities say a bus filled with middle-school students missed its exit before crashing and killing four students. The students were members of a middle-school band from Newton, Massachusetts. The band was traveling to a festival in Halifax, when the driver lost control before dawn this morning in New Brunswick. There were 42 students on the bus. Some of the parents have flown to New Brunswick.

Good news on the United States economy propelling stock prices higher. The report showed the gross domestic product grew by 2 percent in the first quarter. That increase was better than expected.

By the closing bell, the Dow had gained 117 points. The Nasdaq ended the day up 40 points.

More on the outlook for the economy right after INSIDE POLITICS, on "THE MONEYLINE NEWS HOUR." That's at 6:30 Eastern.

And when INSIDE POLITICS returns, a Democratic fund-raiser and ex-wife of a pardoned financier tells her story to "Vanity Fair." We'll talk with writer Maureen Orth about what Denise Rich had to say.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: A U.S. attorney in New York is still investigating President Clinton's pardon of financier Marc Rich. His ex-wife, Denise Rich, is breaking her silence on the subject with a series of interviews. One of those will run in the May issue of "Vanity Fair."

And joining us now, "Vanity Fair's" special correspondent Maureen Orth.

Maureen, some fascinating reporting in this piece.

MAUREEN ORTH, "VANITY FAIR": Thank you.

WOODRUFF: First of all...

ORTH: It's in the -- Judy, it's in the June issue that's coming up, not in the May issue.

(LAUGHTER)

WOODRUFF: I appreciate your correcting that. I know these magazines -- we've got to get -- we want to get the month right.

ORTH: Right.

WOODRUFF: Maureen, first of all, people want to understand why she would do this for her ex-husband. I mean, they had had a bitter separation and divorce. Why did she want him pardoned?

ORTH: She really wasn't the one who wanted him pardoned. Her daughters wanted him pardoned. And she had suffered -- the biggest tragedy of her life is really that her daughter -- her second daughter died at age 27 of leukemia in 1996. Her mother and her sister have also died of cancer.

And so she's formed a foundation to find a cure for cancer, and that is what really spurred a lot of her contributions to the Democratic Party, was that she wanted the president and the first lady to come be the chair of her charity ball. And once she said that she had the death of a child she was forever changed and that there was a forgiveness of her ex-husband that went along with the death.

And the fact that he could never come see his daughter's grave and the fact that her own daughters wanted him to be able to come and she was getting a lot of pressure from friends of her ex-husband's. And she's a woman who really tries to please people and not say no.

So those were all the reasons.

WOODRUFF: Maureen, so many people have had the impression that there was a quid pro quo...

ORTH: Right.

WOODRUFF: ... or assumed that there must have been a quid pro quo involved. What did you learn about that?

ORTH: Well, I asked her point-blank about that and I also -- and she absolutely denied it. I said: Well, what about your daughters? Was this to increase your daughters' trust funds? Because, you know, nobody really knows how rich Marc Rich really is and it runs in the billions. And she said absolutely not.

She -- she's a New Age devotee. She thinks that her daughter is up in Heaven as an angel speaking to her directly. That's how she gets the music lyrics for the songs that she writes, and she's an accomplished pop music lyricist.

So she absolutely denied any sort of quid pro quo as did Marc's second wife, Gisela, whom I went to see in Lucerne. And she said, you know, give me a break, nobody -- she doesn't need anymore money from Marc. She has plenty of her own, which is true, because from the divorce settlement and also from the shares of his company that she cashed in she's worth at least 300 million.

WOODRUFF: Maureen, what is -- what is your own thinking now about why President Clinton did this after talking to all these people?

ORTH: I think he thought he had a perfect bank shot, like in pool. You know, he was going to do it for Denise, who was his dear friend who had this fabulous apartment that they could have all these parties and fund-raisers for himself and Hillary in their new home state of New York.

Plus, she had really come through for them so much. She had given money and furniture to their house in Chappaqua. There were a number of reasons.

The person who was her friend who brought her into the Democratic Party politics of giving money, Beth Dozoretz, was also a very close friend of President Clinton's. And Beth had gotten a $450,000 donation for the Clinton library.

Jack Quinn was the ex-counsel to the president who was also in charge of this whole pardon effort, and he was trying to please Jack Quinn.

And then also Barak came in because there were so many donations made from the Rich Foundation to politicians in Israel. Barak...

(CROSSTALK)

WOODRUFF: The former...

(CROSSTALK)

Right. Barak being a former...

ORTH: Yes, I'm sorry.

WOODRUFF: Israeli prime minister.

ORTH: Israeli prime minister.

WOODRUFF: One other thing. Maureen, when you talked to Gisela Rich, among other things, she objected to her husband being called a fugitive.

ORTH: Yes.

WOODRUFF: How -- how could she, I mean, under the circumstances?

ORTH: She said that because he had fled the country just before his indictment came down he was not a fugitive, and she also said because he had renounced his citizenship. I shouldn't say he had renounced his citizenship, because he was now a citizen of Spain and of Israel. So she just sort of sees a little differently than we do.

WOODRUFF: So you came away from all this with a much -- much better understanding of what was going on here?

ORTH: Well, so much of my article deals with the hunt for Marc Rich and all the legal things that occurred and all the secrecy behind the pardon that it's really very much more than Denise and Gisela.

WOODRUFF: Well, Maureen Orth, we thank you very much...

ORTH: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: ... for being with us. And again, this article is in the June issue of "Vanity Fair."

Maureen Orth, thank you very much

ORTH: Thank you. Bye-bye. Thanks.

WOODRUFF: Good to see you again.

You can also see an interview with Denise Rich here on CNN. She will be a guest on "LARRY KING LIVE" Monday at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

On a related note, CNN has learned that Roger Clinton's appearance before a grand jury on the Clinton pardons case has been postponed. Clinton's attorney says that his client has not been given another date to testify about his role in the requests for pardons from the Clinton White House.

As we speak, our weekly political roundtable is assembling in New York and Los Angeles and here in Washington. When we return, our panelists tackle the week's top stories, beginning with former Senator Bob Kerrey's admissions about his service in Vietnam.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KERREY: ... maybe that I did nothing wrong. But I feel like I did something wrong. I've not been able to justify it either militarily or morally. And part of the reason I want to talk about it is to tell that story, to be able to say, here's what happened and I can't -- I cannot justify it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: The revelations by Senator Bob Kerrey about his service in Vietnam tops this week's political roundtable.

Joining me from New York, CNN senior analyst Jeff Greenfield; in Los Angeles, Ron Brownstein of "The Los Angeles Times"; and with me here in Washington, CNN senior political correspondent Candy Crowley.

Candy, I'm going to begin with you. Is Bob Kerrey's reputation forever damaged by this?

CROWLEY: I know that he's said publicly he worries about that. I don't see it. And here's why.

I think everybody that was alive, you know, at least from 8 or 9 or 10 years old on at that time does understand about the fog of war, does understand what an incredible time that was for America and the mixed feelings.

I just -- I really don't see it at this point. I think this blows over for him.

WOODRUFF: Jeff Greenfield?

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: Well, it depends on what happened. There's a whole lot of controversy about just what the facts were. If the facts are as Bob Kerrey has described them -- a firefight in a free-fire zone and a horrific result -- then I think, you know, Bob Kerrey remains the rather compelling figure he's been for the better part of 20 years. If it turns out it was something else, a more deliberate killing of women and children, sure, his reputation...

WOODRUFF: But, Jeff Greenfield, how are we ever to know which it was -- for sure?

GREENFIELD: I think once "The New York Times" story is out and "60 Minutes II" is out, I think the country -- or whoever still -- whoever cares Kerrey -- about Bob Kerrey -- will come to their own conclusions about what happened.

All I'm saying is, this is -- "the fog of war" is a good phrase that can be used. But, in this case, we do have, still, two different versions of what happened.

WOODRUFF: Ron Brownstein, do you think it can be resolved one way or another? RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think the implication of the question is probably where I'm leaning. I think it's going to be very hard to resolve this one way or the other. And in some ways, the story is going to say as much about our continuing attitude towards Vietnam and ambivalence as it does about Bob Kerrey, who has always seemed -- in his political career, always seemed very ambivalent about drawing on that experience.

I remember covering him at the very beginning, when he first ran for governor and shortly after he was governor. And from that point forward, really, he talked about -- more about his recovery from his wounds in Vietnam than Vietnam itself. That was sort of the story that he wove into his vision of America, how the VA and the government really reached down.

And he called himself -- he said at that point, after his wounds, he was "human refuse" -- and brought him back to become a productive member of society. And then he weaved that into a broader metaphor about what we as a society can do to involve everybody in the economy. So he had a sort of a dark side in terms of the way he thought about Vietnam. I don't think he sold himself as an unambiguous war hero. And, in that sense, I think he probably always carried the ambivalence of this experience with him.

WOODRUFF: Candy, is what we're seeing now consistent with the Bob Kerrey you've know for some years and covered in the Senate?

CROWLEY: It is. I mean, I think we saw in the news conference -- I do think that a number of these people that have come back, including John McCain, including John Kerry, are tortured at some level by this war, by their participation in it, or, at some levels, other people by their nonparticipation in it.

And I think what we saw yesterday was what Ron I think rightly refers to as sort of the darker side. And I think we always saw the prickly side of Bob Kerrey. He did not like the questions. He was uneasy with the implications. He can be very short-tempered. I think we saw a little bit of that. So I thought everything seemed in keeping with who he is.

WOODRUFF: Jeff Greenfield, let me read you something that was part of what John McCain wrote in an editorial piece today for "The Wall Street Journal."

He said, "If the fact that Kerrey recovered his humanity, that he felt remorse, that he sacrificed even more for his country, does not strike some as adequate compensation for his mistake, it is enough for his salvation and a harder task than most can imagine."

GREENFIELD: I think this reflects also what Ron was talking about earlier, the broader notion, that -- you know, I've come to believe that -- and I think Bob Kerrey actually said this at one point in the last couple days -- that the Vietnam War will not go away as a -- if you will, a kind of flavor of our politics, until all of us who lived through it -- either as combatants, opponents or observers -- are dead. I've come to believe this has been as big a marking point in American political history as the Civil War was, which really went on in one way or another for decades and decades after it ended, not just because of what it did to those people who participated, but there's an awful lot of guilt among people who did not participate, who took advantage of their -- our education and position to just stay on the sidelines and let the working class and poor blacks fight the war.

It has so much resonance that I think it's just -- in one way or another, we may be fighting over issues involving Vietnam when most of us are in nursing homes.

WOODRUFF: No doubt. Ron Brownstein: lesson here for other politicians?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, I mean, the dominant story really of the last 15 years is that anything there is will come out. And, as Robert Penn Warren said, "There is always something."

Basically, anything that has happened in your life that you don't want to see on page one, you probably are going to see on page one. And it's an unfortunate trend, in some ways. I think this is a very hard case, as "Newsweek" went through a few years ago, on whether to publish it. But the fact is that the sort of the zone -- the idea of a zone of privacy, I think has receded. And, basically, all of a politician's life is -- whether it's fair game or not -- is going to end up, I think, in the public eye -- more and more of it, at least.

WOODRUFF: Well, we're going turn to a very different subject. We're going to take a break. We're back with our roundtable. We're going to look at the just the first 100 days of the presidency of George W. Bush.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Back now with our weekly political roundtable. Today joining us: Candy Crowley in Washington, Jeff Greenfield in New York, Ron Brownstein in Los Angeles.

Candy, is this being overdone? I mean, the White House is giving the president an A-plus. The Democrats are giving him an F. I mean, what else is new?

CROWLEY: Well, it's...

(LAUGHTER)

CROWLEY: And we're talking about it endlessly. So, you know, absolutely. I mean, that's what we do in Washington. There's these mileposts that you mark. You know, does he get an F? Does he get an A? No. The truth is somewhere in between. It's kind of like a piece of legislation on Capitol Hill going to a conference committee here.

The polls show that, actually, where it counts, at this very moment, people think he's doing OK, that he's about where other presidents have been at this point. And I'm not sure we can draw too much more than that.

WOODRUFF: Jeff Greenfield, what measuring sticks should we be using?

GREENFIELD: Well, I mean, I think part of the coverage of 100 days is to talk about how silly it is to talk about 100 days. My own -- my own notion is, it is one of the examples of journalistic Tourette's syndrome. And it's -- there is no cure. There is no drug. We can't help it.

I think, however, that if you look back, there are some conclusions it's legitimate to draw from the early performance of a president. In the case of Clinton, it wasn't just the disorganization of the White House, but much more significantly, the fact that he permitted congressional Democrats to roll him, to abandon his effort to appeal to Perot voters with Reform. I mean, that was an interesting part of those first days.

With John Kennedy, it was the fact that, after the Bay of Pigs, Khrushchev apparently thought that this guy was weak. And that may have led to the Berlin Wall. It may even have led to the placing of offensive missiles. The stakes are much lower this time.

But the one -- I think we know a couple of things about the president. He is governing as a conservative. He did not do what many of us thought he would do, which is -- quote -- "to govern from the center." His goal is to try to hold the Republican base as solidly as possible, pick off a couple of Democrats to enact as much of his agenda as possible. That, I think, is a legitimate conclusion we can draw from these first -- whatever the heck it is -- 98 1/2 days.

WOODRUFF: So, Ron Brownstein, we are learning things about him in the early, early days of presidency that will stay with us for the duration.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes. This is the lament of the third person in the roundtable, always.

(LAUGHTER)

BROWNSTEIN: Yes, I agree with Jeff very much. I think that it's artificial to sort of give a "How is he doing at 100 days?" But, "What is he doing at 100 days?" I think is genuine. And I think we do have a good sense both of his style and sort of the broad outline of the result.

We see a presidency that is very disciplined, very committed to staying focused on its issues, not determined -- not as determined to be in the news all the time as Clinton or Reagan or most -- for that matter, most presidents in the modern era. And when you look at what's happening on Capitol Hill, both on the budget and on education -- which are the two things that have gone the furthest -- I think you see a very similar pattern, which is that Bush is not in a position -- we have a 50/50 Senate.

We had basically a 50/50 election. He's not in the position to get everything he wants. He's not going to have a tax cut as big as he wants. He's not going to get his school vouchers. But he is capable of shifting the entire framework of debate into his direction. The tax cut is not going to as big as he wants. But it's a lot bigger than it would have been if Al Gore was president.

The education bill is going to look very different. He's going to spend more money than he wants, but he's going to have a very different system of accountability and flexibility for states. And I think we are going to see this pattern, Judy, pretty consistently, where he doesn't get everything he wants -- it's not that kind of election -- but he does shift the entire sort of baseline of debate in his direction.

WOODRUFF: Candy is dying to say something.

(LAUGHTER)

CROWLEY: I mean, this has been a George Bush pattern from the six years that he was governor. He pushes. "I want" -- "I want $1.6 billion in tax cuts." And then when he gets to the point that he knows he can't get them, then he backs it off.

I suspect that you will see exactly what Ron is talking about when this whole tax cut thing is over. And that is: Hey, folks, I told you I was going to get you a tax cut. I got you a tax cut. I told you education was a priority. I got you some education reform.

It is not going to matter in the long run to the Bush White House the exact details of this. What matters is that he campaigned on these four main issues. He has been devotedly focused to them in the first 100 days, and will until he gets what he wants. And they can say: Look, we told you we'd get this.

WOODRUFF: Jeff, what about the...

(CROSSTALK)

WOODRUFF: Go ahead -- quickly. Is that Ron?

(CROSSTALK)

BROWNSTEIN: I think the surprise, though, is the way he's gone about it. I mean, there really are two separate models: the taxes model and the Texas model. The Texas model is more of a negotiating with the other party. What he tried to do on taxes was push it through on a pure party-line vote with a show of muscle. And he's negotiating now only because that failed.

And, in fact, the polls looked very different in March and early April, when we were in that kind of polarizing fight. And I think the lesson is pretty clear of the last few years: Wherever Washington is highly polarized and confrontational, everybody suffers. The president and Congress, they always do better when they seem to be getting along.

WOODRUFF: Jeff, what about the president's comments this week about China and about Taiwan? What have we learned about him from that?

GREENFIELD: We've learned, I think, the same thing that we were -- that the country seemed to be puzzling over all through the election. And, in this case, I think nothing has changed. That is, while they like the guy a lot, they're not quite sure he has the grasp that a president should have.

I don't think the Taiwan statements, in and of themselves, have any political resonance, because, frankly, I think -- as I have thought for the last year-and-a-half, except for the post-election period -- the country isn't just paying -- isn't paying attention.

But I do think that, if there are people who were saying, "You know, I still want to see this guy fill the shoes of a president," the fact that he may have accidentally used words that suggested a change in policy, that's not helpful. That's what I think. That's the best I can make out of that one.

WOODRUFF: Candy, is that of concern to people around the president?

CROWLEY: Absolutely. That's been sort of the Achilles heel all along and the big question. And: Does he have enough knowledge? Does he care enough about specific issues -- this and that?

I agree with Jeff. I think that the specifics of this don't matter; it's the impression that's left. Did he mean to say what he said? And if he didn't, I mean, then that's a problem and feeds into one of the things that they have to watch, particularly when it comes to international policy.

WOODRUFF: And, Ron, for the White House, I was asking: Have we learned anything about the president?

Have they learned about how either to put him forward, to have him talk about international issues?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, in general, first of all, we should say that one of the things in this first 100 hundred days is they used the rhetorical powers of the presidency very differently. They do not -- they're not out there commenting or trying to shape the national dialogue when big things happen: the shootings in California; the riots in Cincinnati.

They stick to their knitting, really. They stay focused on their issues. Secondly, they try to put him out there in more informal situations. They have avoided the big formal news conference. He's more comfortable interacting with reporters more informally: a few questions here, a few question there during the day. And I do think that what they have done is a very calculated strategy, to sort of stick to their limited set of issues, willingly accepting a lower profile. And you do sort of wonder about it. I was talking to someone at the White House the other day who said that: Rather than traveling around the country to these events that really had no impact -- in terms of going to individual senators' states and trying to leverage them, pressure them to vote for his package -- we would have been better off spending time in the news in Washington getting up our approval rate, because that is what is more likely to pressure them.

And, really, Judy, we saw the truth of that in China. The fact is that these very good ratings that Candy referred in terms of his job approval are post the handling of the crisis with China, which is the most sustained period he's been in the news. A month ago, they didn't look nearly as good. So there's some questions about whether the strategy they're pursing is viable over the long run.

WOODRUFF: All right, we're going leave it there. Great to see all three of you. Ron Brownstein, Jeff Greenfield, Candy Crowley, happy Friday. Thanks.

And still ahead on INSIDE POLITICS: Bill Schneider.

We'll be back with more in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: The president's first 100 days in office, we have some new White House photographs released just today, while we're talking about all that. This one shows the new president with his father, the nation's 41st president, as George W. Bush sits at his Oval Office desk for the first time. And this photo shows the president meeting with National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice while U.S. military personnel were being held in China. Those pictures just made --- released today by the White House.

Still ahead on INSIDE POLITICS: Bill Schneider's "Political Play of the Week."

But first, the war crimes prosecutor for the former Yugoslavia has a message for the United States. Her interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Could he face charges of genocide?

CARLA DEL PONTE, CHIEF WAR CRIMES PROSECUTOR: Yes. Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: The chief war crimes prosecutor tells Christiane Amanpour about her case against former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic and why she hopes to turn up the heat on the Bush administration. And our Bill Schneider goes global in the "Political Play of the Week"

Welcome back to INSIDE POLITICS.

The chief prosecutor of the Hague's war crimes tribunal suggests the Bush administration may be letting politics stand in the way of justice. When she visits the United States early next month, Carla del Ponte says that she will urge U.S. officials to arrest the two main war crimes suspects who are still at large in the former Yugoslavia.

Del Ponte spoke at length with CNN chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour. We will bring you that interview in a moment, but first some background from Christiane on Carla del Ponte and the difficult job she has.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR (voice-over): In September 1999, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed Carla del Ponte as chief prosecutor of the international war crimes tribunal in the Hague. Before that, she had been attorney general of Switzerland, which she had tried to keep from becoming what she called a piggy bank for murky money deals around the world.

Her aggressive digging earned her death threats, which now means she is always surrounded by heavy security. In Switzerland, she caused an uproar when she opened an investigation into financial corruption by the former Russian president Boris Yeltsin and his family as well as other top officials from the Americas to the Middle East.

In the 1980s, she took on the Italian mafia. She narrowly escaped a roadside bomb blast in Sicily. And later, while on a drug investigation in Colombia, her helicopter came under fire.

This prosecutorial zeal followed her to The Hague, where her supporters call her a bulldog in the very best sense of the world. Earlier this year, three Bosnian Serb soldiers and paramilitaries were convicted of mass rape and of sexually enslaving women. For the first time, rape as a weapon of war and sexual enslavement have been defined as crimes against humanity.

Now she's determined to try and convict the former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic, and she's about to bring more indictments against him for genocide, the most serious crime under international law. Milosevic may be jailed in Belgrade now, but she's campaigning relentlessly for Yugoslavia to hand him over to her court in The Hague.

She is also demanding the United States and NATO get serious about arresting the most wanted war-time leaders still at large: Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic. She says the time is now ripe, and she's going to Washington to lobby the new U.S. administration.

Christiane Amanpour, CNN, The Hague.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: And now to Christiane Amanpour's interview with Carla del Ponte, conducted at the Hague in the Netherlands.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR: Joining us for her first full interview since the arrest of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic is the chief prosecutor for the International war crimes tribunal, Carla del Ponte.

Ms. del Ponte, thank you for joining us. You are about to go to the United States to talk to members of the new administration. What are you going to tell them? What are you going to ask them for?

DEL PONTE: First of all, I am going to meet the new administration, the new authority of the United States because they are -- the United States does great supporting our work and our needs for our investigation. And so it is important to have a personal contact.

AMANPOUR: What are you going to tell them when you get there about the two big fish who've been indicted who are still at large - Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic? Are you going to ask them, please, now do something -- arrest them?

DEL PONTE: Oh, I will sure ask that, but I will ask more. I will ask how you think to do it and to achieve it.

AMANPOUR: They say that their mandate is not to seek him out, but to arrest him if -- if they come across him. Do you agree with that?

DEL PONTE: No, absolutely not. But I must also say that General Ralston, the chief commander of NATO, told me: It's not true. They are looking. They are searching for the fugitives.

AMANPOUR: But they are searching for them?

DEL PONTE: Yes.

AMANPOUR: And they say that they don't know where they are.

DEL PONTE: Yes.

AMANPOUR: Do you believe that?

DEL PONTE: No.

AMANPOUR: You think they know where they are.

DEL PONTE: Yes.

AMANPOUR: Why do you think they don't arrest them? DEL PONTE: That is a good question, but that is a question without answer, because I think it can change now with the new government.

AMANPOUR: So you're hoping that the new U.S. administration is tougher on this issue?

DEL PONTE: Yes. I don't know if it's tougher or not, but after five years that Karadzic is fugitive, many changes arrived, and so it is now also politically easier to arrest Karadzic than before.

AMANPOUR: Do you accept their argument that it would be too dangerous to arrest Karadzic?

DEL PONTE: No, I don't accept the arguments, because they are not arguments, because each arrest takes some risk with this operation. And so it is impossible to obtain an arrest risk zero. I try to explain how it is possible to arrest somebody even if he's protected with armed people. And I have a great experience in mafia operation to arrest mafioso. And so...

AMANPOUR: You think that they could do it.

DEL PONTE: Yes. Absolutely. That is the reason also why I am going to Washington.

AMANPOUR: So what will you say to them?

DEL PONTE: Trying to explain -- to explain that an arrest operation have always risk of casualty.

AMANPOUR: Do you think you would also tell them that many people thought the arrest of Milosevic would result in mass demonstrations and shootings and civil unrest...

DEL PONTE: Yes, yes.

AMANPOUR: ...and none of it happened.

DEL PONTE: Yes, that's good. That's a good experience for (INAUDIBLE), and Karadzic absolutely is nobody more -- politicals is nobody more.

AMANPOUR: So will you tell political Washington -- General Powell, all the other officials...

DEL PONTE: Yes, yes...

AMANPOUR: ...that they shouldn't be afraid anymore.

DEL PONTE: I will ask how after one year what happened and why Karadzic and the other are not arrested and what they will do to obtain.

AMANPOUR: What answer do you think you'll get?

DEL PONTE: I don't know. Come next, I will tell you.

AMANPOUR: One of the most frustrating things for the tribunal has been that it has no power of arrest. It has no police force. It has no military. Why don't you demand a SWAT team or some kind of military force that can do it?

DEL PONTE: We can have a tracking team to locate the fugitives, but we cannot operate arrests ourselves. What I'm asking now NATO SFOR is to put in place a tracking team myself, from our office, a tracking team that must work together with SFOR because on the field.

I'm expecting an answer from the secretary-general of NATO about that.

AMANPOUR: Do you think that they will say yes to that?

DEL PONTE: I hope so.

AMANPOUR: So that tracking team would tell SFOR we've located Karadzic, now you go and get him?

DEL PONTE: Yes. And so it will be much more difficult not to operate the arrest of Karadzic if we locate him.

AMANPOUR: The biggest fish, Slobodan Milosevic, is now behind bars. But he's not behind your bars. Do you expect to get him here to The Hague?

DEL PONTE: Absolutely. Yes. Milosevic is the same as all the other. He must be transferred to The Hague so that we can get a trial.

AMANPOUR: When do you expect to issue new indictments against him?

DEL PONTE: I have two indictments: one about Croatia, one about Bosnia crimes committed, crimes responsibility for Milosevic. And one I hope next month and the other one after two or three months. It is very complicated case. It's not an easy task for investigators and for our lawyers and attorneys to put together such indictment, but we will achieve it, in any case, before Milosevic will be transferred to The Hague.

AMANPOUR: Could he face charges of genocide?

DEL PONTE: Yes. Yes.

AMANPOUR: You plan to indict him on charges of genocide?

DEL PONTE: Yes. Yes. But if I will keep the count of genocide in the indictment, I will be sure that I have enough evidence because I will not take a risk that he will be acquitted.

AMANPOUR: But you think...

DEL PONTE: That's as prosecutor. Yes, until now, I think I am enough. I get enough evidence to obtain the sentence of Milosevic.

AMANPOUR: So even though it's difficult to bring a case against him and to bring him to trial, you're nonetheless confident that you have the evidence to convict him?

DEL PONTE: Yes. Yes.

AMANPOUR: What evidence is that?

DEL PONTE: Documents and especially witnesses, statement of witnesses.

AMANPOUR: His associates?

DEL PONTE: Not direct associate because we didn't have access to the interview of such person. But people who was working with him or around him, yes, also.

AMANPOUR: People working with him or around him?

DEL PONTE: Yes.

AMANPOUR: And documents?

DEL PONTE: Documents.

AMANPOUR: In which he gave orders?

DEL PONTE: Not directly, but it was document who refer about meeting. So notice, so you know, when you have a meeting and you take notices after the meeting...

AMANPOUR: The minutes of the meeting...

DEL PONTE: Yes. Not really minutes, but the resume of...

AMANPOUR: The summary of the meeting.

DEL PONTE: Summary of the meeting, yes. And other documents. But we expect also a great cooperation from Belgrade now.

AMANPOUR: Are you getting that?

DEL PONTE: Yes, we are starting to get cooperation also in this direction to have access to archives.

AMANPOUR: Archives.

DEL PONTE: Yes.

AMANPOUR: Will you get that access?

DEL PONTE: Yes.

AMANPOUR: Do you have any understand from the Yugoslav authorities that Milosevic will be transferred to you, to your jurisdiction?

DEL PONTE: I spoke with both justice ministers when they came here -- the justice minister from the federation and justice minister from Serbia. We spoke about that, and I must say it was not contested that Milosevic must be tried. As I said, the problem is when. That is the big problem.

AMANPOUR: So you're saying that you have an agreement or an understanding with them?

DEL PONTE: No, I have understanding. No agreement, but understanding.

AMANPOUR: That he will be transferred to The Hague?

DEL PONTE: Yes. Yes.

AMANPOUR: Were you preparing an indictment against the now- deceased Croatian president Franjo Tudjman?

DEL PONTE: Franjo Tudjman is died. So let him repose in (UNINTELLIGIBLE) How do you say it in English?

AMANPOUR: But had he not reposed in peace, would you have indicted him?

DEL PONTE: Yes, we had investigation against him, and I must say it was near to be indicted, but...

AMANPOUR: You would have indicted him?

DEL PONTE: Yes.

AMANPOUR: On what charge?

DEL PONTE: Crimes against humanity and war crimes.

AMANPOUR: Alija Izetbegovic, the president of Bosnia, is he being investigated?

DEL PONTE: Izetbegovic is still alive, and I wish him a long life. But I will not answer your question because, as you know, investigation we are conducting before we are coming out with indictment, we are not saying nothing.

AMANPOUR: But you have talked about possibly investigating and indicting members of the Kosovo Liberation Army?

DEL PONTE: Yes. But don't ask me the name.

AMANPOUR: What has been your greatest satisfaction since you've been prosecutor here?

DEL PONTE: To achieve what it must be -- it must be considered impossible when you stay in your own nation and you open your national inquiry. That is that international justice, and that you apply an international law. But the most important signification, as I said, is that the powerful -- the leader, it's an impunity of the leader committing crimes all around the world. That is what we are doing, and I hope it is a good prevention for other leaders.

AMANPOUR: So the impunities is gone?

DEL PONTE: Is gone.

AMANPOUR: OK.

DEL PONTE: Thank you very much.

AMANPOUR: Thank you very much for joining us.

DEL PONTE: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Christiane Amanpour talking with Carla del Ponte

To the more distant past now: The CIA today declassified thousands of pages of files on Hitler and other Nazi-era figures. Members of a government committee investigating those files say they show the United States made a -- quote -- "horrendous mistake" by employing ex-Nazis as intelligence agents after World War II.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ELI ROSENBAUM, JUSTICE DEPARTMENT: These files demonstrate, as a body, that the real winners of the Cold War were Nazi criminals, many of whom were able to escape justice because East and West became so rapidly focused after the war on challenging each other that they lost their will to pursue Nazi perpetrators. And they even deemed some of the criminals to be useful allies in conducting Cold War intelligence operations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: The CIA files offer few new revelations about Hitler, except for a remark made by a leading Nazi doctor before World War II. That doctor told a U.S. informant that Hitler could become -- quote -- "the craziest criminal the world ever knew" -- end quote.

When we return: What does former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev have to do with the "Political Play of the Week"? Our Bill Schneider explains next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider joins us now with his "Political Play of the Week."

It is a name most people in this country may not know, Bill, but one they need to get used to hearing.

(CROSSTALK) WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Judy, it's also the most amazing thing to come out of Japan since Godzilla: a flamboyant populist politician who aims to reform the system. Is it a revolution? Not exactly.

But it is the "Political Play of the Week."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Japanese prime ministers are supposed to be bland, faceless bureaucrats. They're not supposed to look like this: a divorced single father with long hair, who likes heavy metal music and doesn't follow the political rules.

JUNICHIRO KOIZUMI, JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER: I am more outspoken.

SCHNEIDER: Well, they say "every Girl's Crazy about a sharp- dressed man." Meet Junichiro Koizumi, the new Japanese prime minister, the 11th prime minister in 13 years.

Sure, he's from the Liberal Democratic Party, the party that's been in power almost continuously since 1955. The LDP is neither liberal nor Democratic nor really a party -- more like a political machine.

Koizumi served 25 years in the Parliament. He's been a Cabinet minister. His father and grandfather were politicians. But he's a reformer, a reformer with establishment credentials.

KOIZUMI (through translator): I ran in this election saying that I could change the LDP and change Japan.

SCHNEIDER: What kind of change? To begin with: radical economic reforms to get the Japanese economy out of a 10-year slump, reforms that could be difficult, like privatizing the postal banking system that serves as a vast slush fund for his party.

KOIZUMI (through translator): This Cabinet will be the Cabinet that actually acts out its reforms. There will always be forces who oppose reform. That battle begins now.

SCHNEIDER: Koizumi is a proud nationalist who feels it's time for his country to get over its war guilt. He plans to visit a shrine that memorializes Japan's war dead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a man who's Japanese and he has no apologies about being Japanese.

SCHNEIDER: Koizumi's new Cabinet, announced this week, includes younger figures and a record five women, including Japan's first female foreign minister. How did this happen? One word: democracy. For the first time ever, the Liberal Democratic Party held a primary. What happened was exactly what Americans could have told them would happen: a grassroots rebellion against the party establishment.

Rank-and-file party members voted overwhelmingly for Koizumi. But that's OK with the ruling party, which is terrified of being thrown out of power. They're now looking to Koizumi to save them.

KEITH HENRY, MIT JAPAN PROGRAM: The next hurdle is going to be July 29, the upper house election. He has to prove to the old guard in the LDP that he can actually carry his charisma, his promises, his leadership style into an electoral victory, not just within the party, but with the Japanese people.

SCHNEIDER: Koizumi's been called a "weirdo" and a "political punk." Now he's being called prime minister. He's forced his party to accept him because of his popularity with the people.

In the United States, that's politics. In Japan, it's the "Political Play of the Week."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: Koizumi is sort of like Mikhail Gorbachev, a leader who's trying to change his party in order to save it. But, you know, in Russia, once the forces of change were unleashed, it was impossible to control them. I think Japanese leaders better worry about that -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Bill, how many prime ministers have they had in the last several years?

SCHNEIDER: Eleven in 13 years. That's a lot.

WOODRUFF: It is a lot.

SCHNEIDER: How many can you name?

WOODRUFF: I -- very few. Don't ask me right now, but ask me on Monday.

SCHNEIDER: I'll tell you, the last one, the outgoing prime minister, Prime Minister Mori, he went out with an approval rating of just 7 -- very poor.

WOODRUFF: Out of 100.

SCHNEIDER: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

WOODRUFF: Bill Schneider, thanks very much.

SCHNEIDER: Sure.

WOODRUFF: Still to come: The winner of a national election comes to Washington under wraps. We'll explain -- when INSIDE POLITICS continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: There is more INSIDE POLITICS coming up. But first, let's go to Willow Bay for a preview of what's ahead at the bottom of the hour on "MONEYLINE" -- hi, Willow.

WILLOW BAY, "MONEYLINE": Hello, Judy.

Coming up next on "MONEYLINE": A stunning report shows strength in the economy. It sparks a buying frenzy on Wall Street that sent blue chips back into the black year to date. And "MONEYLINE" will take a special look at Bush's first 100 days in office. Tonight, we will focus on how he's handled economic and environmental issues.

And protesters out in full force in the Puerto Rican island of Vieques as the Navy resumes bombing exercises -- those stories and more next on "MONEYLINE."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: To celebrate Arbor Day here in the nation's capital, the Arbor Day Foundation held an election. Candidates from all 50 states were vying for the chance to become America's national tree. After tallying the votes, officials unveiled the winner: the oak tree. This elected oak sapling is now planted on the Capitol grounds. The Arbor Day event was to remind all of us of the importance of trees in the environment.

And an apology here at the end of the INSIDE POLITICS: We had planned an interview with the governor of Puerto Rico, Sila Calderon. She was where she was supposed to be, but because of technical problems, we couldn't do the interview -- our apologies.

And that's all for this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. But, of course, you can go online all the time at CNN's allpolitics.com -- the AOL keyword: CNN.

This programming note: Vice President Dick Cheney talks about the first 100 days of the Bush administration tonight on "LARRY KING LIVE," starting at 9:00 Eastern.

I'm Judy Woodruff.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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