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CNN CAPITAL GANG

Harry Reid Discusses Proposed Missile Defense Shield; Bud Selig Addresses Baseball's Future; John Glenn Talks About Dennis Tito's Trip

Aired May 5, 2001 - 19:00   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: From Washington: THE CAPITAL GANG.

MARK SHIELDS, HOST: Welcome to CAPITAL GANG. I'm Mark Shields, with Al Hunt, Robert Novak and Kate O'Beirne. Our guest is the Senate Democratic whip, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada.

It's good to have you back, Harry.

SEN. HARRY REID (D), NEVADA: Glad to be here. Thank you very much.

SHIELDS: Thank you.

President Bush announced a broad outline of his plan for national missile defense.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We need a new framework that allows us to build missile defenses to counter the different threats of today's world. To do so, we must move beyond the constraints of the 30-year-old ABM Treaty.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MINORITY LEADER: I believe it would be a grave mistake for the United States to unilaterally abrogate the ABM Treaty in order to deploy a robust national missile defense system. Unilateral actions will trigger reactions all around the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHIELDS: Al Hunt, is this a start of Cold War II, as the president's critics have charged?

AL HUNT, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": Well, Mark, that's the hope in the defense industry board rooms, I'm sure. And I think conservatives hope it will be a rallying cause. But there's lots of questions. What exactly is the threat? Is it China? Is it Russia, the old Soviet Union? Rogue states: North Korea and Iran and so forth?

And also, what is a missile defense? Is it the old land-based, which, the problem with that is it's there, but those decoys keep fooling it. Is it sea-based? They've got to be close and in proximity. Is it air-based? You've got to have 747s flying around enemy territory all the time. Or is it going to be space-based, you know, which you could do, I suppose, but decades off.

Lots of questions, you're going to be spending up to $1 trillion on this, which it could cost.

SHIELDS: Lots of questions.

Bob Novak, do you have any answers?

ROBERT NOVAK, "CHICAGO SUN-TIMES": Well, Al's using the same old arguments that Teddy Kennedy used when he called President Reagan's defense program "Star Wars." The reason, Al, that we're having -- this is not for defense spending, it's not to unite the Republican Party. It's to protect the country.

And it's very interesting to me that President Clinton when he came out, he kind of waddled around in his last couple years, saying, yes, he was for it, but couldn't -- he decided he'd leave it to his successor, we didn't have any of this criticism from Democrats.

Isn't that amazing?

We didn't have Tom Daschle saying that it's going to start Cold War II. So I'm disappointed that you're jumping into bed with some of these Democrats on this partisan attack.

SHIELDS: You're not going to address the argument, you're just going to attack Al?

(LAUGHTER)

NOVAK: I thought that's what I did, Mark.

KATE O'BEIRNE, "NATIONAL REVIEW": And he's defenseless. He has no shield against you, Bob.

HUNT: I need a shield.

SHIELD: He is -- he is our space-based missile.

Harry Reid, tell us, who's right here? Al Hunt or Bob Novak?

REID: Well, I think that if President Bush were watching the show, he would laugh a little bit today, because he was so indefinite in what he said. I think the strong points of President Bush is that he gave a broad outline.

I would agree with Tom Daschle. I think the only objectionable thing I heard in President Bush's presentation was abrogating the 1972 missile treaty. I don't think he had to do that. I think what he did is said we're going to have to take a look at this. I think he's done the right thing by sending people around the world to talk to leaders. I'm sure he must have contacted Putin before he gave his speech. Putin came out two days later and said this is something we're willing to talk about.

I just -- the only thing I think he went too far in his presentation is saying right up front about the treaty.

SHIELDS: Kate O'Beirne, is it fair to say that the likely threat comes perhaps more from a United Parcel or a boat coming up the river, rather than the traditional space invasion?

O'BEIRNE: No, I think Al was right. There are potentially multiple threats. The Rumsfeld commission that studied the threat and the potential for a missile defense came out in '98, was very well- received, highlighted in the near term possible threats from North Korea and Iran.

The world is so different than it was in 1972, which is why I welcome the president's apparent willingness to give notice and get out of the ABM Treaty. It's so foolish. That treaty's with a country that no longer exists, the Soviet Union. It's now Russia. When we signed that treaty with the Soviet Union, they were the only ones who deployed Scud missiles. Now 22 countries did. The world is a different place.

And arms control's like a religion for people on Capitol Hill. They'd rather, I guess, during the Cold War have had this sort of balance of terror between us and the Soviet Union. Now, if we can defend ourselves, provide that same kind of defense to our allies, the world is a safer place.

REID: I don't think it has to be an either/or. I think we can do some research and development with missile defense. There's nothing wrong with that. But we also have to be full bore in the terrorism that's taking place around the world.

I'm more concerned, frankly, about a suitcase in Union Station here or L.A. International Airport -- I know the people in Nevada are and really should be -- than having North Korea fire a missile over here. We should do both.

HUNT: Bob -- you know, one of the great things of having Bob on the show is on complicated issues like this you often enlighten us, and I really appreciate it.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: ... help you, Al...

HUNT: But let me ask you a question, if I could. The president explained the one good thing about missile defense was it would be a disincentive for other countries to build up their offensive weapons, and he said he was going to convince the Russians and the Chinese of that. Now, the Chinese, however, in Beijing say, "If you do this, we're going to escalate our nuclear weapons." You're an old China hand, Bob. Is Beijing just fooling us on this?

NOVAK: We don't really know, but I do know we ought to protect the country.

You know, I don't understand why the Democrats and their friends in the media always bring up parcels in Union Station and all that sort of thing. This is a national missile defense; it's not a national terrorist defense. That's a totally different thing.

So Harry and I agree, those are two different things. And because it's harder to guard against terrorism doesn't mean we shouldn't have a national missile defense.

HUNT: The Clinton administration...

SHIELDS: That is the last word, Kate, and a good one it was, Bob. Thank you.

O'BEIRNE: It was excellent.

SHIELDS: Harry Reid and the GANG will be back with the Bush plan for taxes and Social Security.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHIELDS: Welcome back.

President Bush declared victory on the budget.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: This is a great day for the American people and the American taxpayer. Working together, Republicans and Democrats in the House and the Senate have agreed on a proposal that will provide $1.35 trillion in tax relief over the next 11 years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHIELDS: Those numbers came down from the president's request of $1.6 trillion over 10 years.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DASCHLE: He was dragged kicking and screaming to that number, and now has claimed victory. And I think he did it the hard way. He could have done it in a much more bipartisan and conciliatory way, a much more cooperative way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHIELDS: This year's spending increase was trimmed down close to the 4 percent level requested by President Bush, but when two pages of the thick budget document were found missing early Friday morning, final action by Congress was postponed until Tuesday.

Earlier this week, the president appointed a 16-member bipartisan commission to study the reform of Social Security to permit individual savings accounts as part of the system.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. RICHARD GEPHARDT (D), MISSOURI: This is not a bipartisan Social Security commission. This is a presidential advocacy commission.

We are not going to stand by and let Social Security be ruined.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. PETE DOMENICI (R-NM), CHAIRMAN, BUDGET COMMITTEE: All President Bush is doing, quite frankly, is picking up from where Clinton dropped the ball. Remember '98, State of the Union message, "save Social Security first"? He found out that if he'd pursue that he wouldn't -- couldn't demagogue Social Security and Medicare throughout the next campaign, so he dropped it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHIELDS: Bob Novak, is President Bush living up to his campaign promises on taxes and Social Security?

NOVAK: More than most people could dream. He has stuck to his promise for tax cuts in the face of this hostile environment in Washington, and he is forging ahead with an attempt to rationalize and modernize Social Security. I think there's going to be a tax cut passed into law by the -- very soon, within a few weeks -- I could be vetoed this time -- and there's going to be a commission report this fall.

The thing that interests me politically is that Tom Daschle and Dick Gephardt, my two good old friends, they have just a completely partisan attitude. Whatever he says, they attack, attack, attack. That isn't the Harry Reid way, and I don't think it's very good politics.

SHIELDS: Let's hear the Harry Reid way.

REID: Boy, Bob, you're getting me into trouble with my two colleagues, huh? I'm going to have to go after President Bush.

I think that the Social Security matter is, as John Breaux said in the press this week, dead. The panel that was chosen, he could have done much better. I think John Breaux, for example, should have been on it. He did a wonderful job for President Clinton, and I think he with his experience would have done well to be on it. He would have been good for the country to be here.

Social Security, people have to understand that are watching this program is not about to go broke. If we do nothing for the next 40 years, people will draw 100 percent of their benefits. Even after that, if we don't do anything, they'll draw 75-80 percent of the benefits. We have to make sure after 40 years they draw 100 percent of the benefits.

And I think any investment scheme -- all you have to do is look what happened to the stock market this week. Nasdaq's up one day, down the other. Dow is up, down, crossways. I mean, we can't be investing money.

Social Security is the most successful social program in the history of the world.

Now on the tax matter that you talked about, the president has, when he was governor of Texas, was really good at claiming victory when he really got only part of what he wanted. There's nothing wrong with that. He only got part of what he wanted. I would have to say that Tom Daschle is right, though.

And I would disagree with you, Bob, in this respect. I think that -- I think that there is pretty good climate in the Senate. I'm an expert in the Senate. I think we're doing pretty well in the Senate in working on a bipartisan basis in just about everything.

SHIELDS: Al Hunt?

HUNT: Well, on Social Security, I think they're already putting the word out, they being the White House, that they'll cut and run if it gets tough in the fall. "We're not going to push this thing," they're telling people, "We're going to be up next year."

On taxes, I think Bob's right. I think it is a victory for George Bush, but there's still -- still a way to go, Mark. They've got to put this 10-pound bag of manure into a 5-pound bag. That's going to tough for it to fit.

And I'll tell you something, when they start getting the details, the first 10 years, the biggest single component of the tax cut, $237 billion, cutting the top rate from 39.6 to 33, it goes only to the top 1 percent of taxpayers. That's all it goes to.

The second 10 years, the biggest is ending the estate tax. It goes only to the top 2 percent. It's a reverse Robin Hood, and the details may create problems for them.

SHIELDS: Any problems you see, Kate?

O'BEIRNE: I think it's been -- well, it's a clear victory for George Bush. I mean, two years ago, Democrats were calling a plan half this size "risky" and "radical" and "impossible to get through," and now they're meekly -- because they have to -- going along with it, because he's made his case, I think. He's delivering. He's determined.

I think it's really interesting to watch Democrats ignore Senator -- former Senator Moynihan's reputation, who's going to be chairing this new study commission on Social Security. In the past, whenever Senator Daschle's been asked his opinion about Social Security, do you know what he said? "I'm going to defer to Senator Moynihan. No one in the Senate knows more about Social Security than Senator Moynihan."

NOVAK: Now it's rigged.

O'BEIRNE: Now, it's a commission that's rigged.

Given the ground rules he set out for this commission, no tax increase, completely voluntary -- it's only young workers, if they're interested in this private option -- and no government investing of the funds, it promises to be a very popular reform. People are becoming increasingly sophisticated.

But it's very threatening to liberals. They want the dependency of people who have to receive just Social Security, who don't have an independent nest egg of their own.

SHIELDS: I have to take exception. I don't think it's a question of wanting dependency. The liberals are not pushers, establishing some sort of a narcotic dependency...

NOVAK: They're not?

SHIELDS: No. I think that...

(CROSSTALK)

SHIELDS: ... I think that what Harry mentioned earlier, Nasdaq going down 45 points would send flutters through Leisure World to the point where it would be seizure world in no time at all. And that would be -- that would be a basic problem.

But I think what we're really seeing in this budget this week is something fascinating. I think we're seeing the dawn of a real credibility gap in this administration.

We get the budget passed, it got passed -- forced through the House, forced through the Senate, but then the costs start coming out.

Then we get the $500 billion over the next 10 years on defense that they want to add, including missile defense. Then we get the trillion-dollar cost for transition on Social Security. Unfunded is prescription drugs.

There is just incredible, unlimited amounts of money out there that they won't even address.

NOVAK: Let me just say two quick things. First place, I've seen a lot of stories about that they're going to abandon the Social Security thing before it comes up. That is not true. They are going to stick -- they are going to stick with that because that's an important part.

(CROSSTALK) NOVAK: The second matters is, if you think this is a good system, the Social Security system, 2 percent interest, a Ponzi scheme.

(CROSSTALK)

I mean, it is a lousy system. And the real -- the real thing was when Tom Daschle said yesterday, or when he said Friday, when he said that he would rather have an investment in these crummy government securities that get 2 percent interest than in a Nasdaq stock package. Then -- then you can tell he doesn't know what he's talking about.

REID: Well, I predict one thing: You better not bet that this budget is going to pass. I think there are going to be some problems in the Senate this week.

SHIELDS: OK. Well, especially on $294 billion the Senate added to education over George W. Bush. Now we're down to $6.5 billion increase.

O'BEIRNE: The education budget has doubled in the past two years and it's still not enough.

SHIELDS: The reality...

(CROSSTALK)

SHIELDS: And the conservatives have dropped him -- dropped him like a bad habit on testing and accountability. It's sad, Kate.

Next on CAPITAL GANG, Louis Freeh steps down.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHIELDS: Welcome back.

Louis Freeh surprised the capital by announcing that he is leaving as FBI director. His statement thanked Bill Clinton for appointing him eight years ago, but said this of George W. Bush. Quote: "I am grateful for the president's unwavering support of me and the FBI. President Bush has brought great honor and integrity to the Oval Office." End quote.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: It did catch me by surprise. And I'm disappointed. I was hoping that he would stay on. I think he's done a very good job.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you were to develop a profile of a person that you would want to be leader in law enforcement, you would probably come up with a profile of Louis Freeh.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHIELDS: Kate O'Beirne, is all this praise for Louis Freeh merited, deserved and earned?

O'BEIRNE: Well, he's leaving after eight years widely respected by both prosecutors and rank-and-file agents, which is certainly something that his boss, Janet Reno, doesn't enjoy after her tenure at the Justice Department. And I think he courageously served as independently as he could under a politicized attorney general, given that he does report to Janet Reno.

He, of course, had the courage to push for an independent counsel for the campaign financing scandal. He wound up being loathed by Bill Clinton, and I think that's a testament that's to his credit. So, yes, all in all I think he deserves the kind of -- the kind of reviews he's getting.

SHIELDS: Harry Reid, do you join the chorus of those who are offering tributes and testimonials to Louis Freeh's stewardship?

REID: I think the best thing we can learn from this is that Clinton made a very good choice. I think that it's important that whoever George W. Bush picks is someone who has judicial experience, not someone that has -- I think the reason that Freeh -- one of the reasons he did so well is he understood, having been a prosecutor, he understood what it was to be a judge. So I think that the lesson we should learn from this, I repeat, George W. Bush should look to the bench to find a new FBI director.

SHIELDS: Good point, isn't it, Bob Novak?

NOVAK: Well, I don't know about that. I think J. Edgar Hoover was never a judge and he was a pretty good director. And...

SHIELDS: Jesus! Boy, oh, boy. Put me down the minority on that one, Lordy.

NOVAK: Oh, I will, any time.

SHIELDS: Jesus!

NOVAK: I will say this: I think Judge Freeh was a good director. I think his statement showed the utter contempt for the man who appointed him, President Clinton.

The problem with Louis Freeh is that he never got to the bottom of what was behind the outrages at Ruby Ridge and Waco: the jack-boot actions by the SWAT teams of the FBI; and, of course, the Congress was really uninterested in digging very deep into it. So I -- that was my knock on him. Otherwise, I agree with Kate.

SHIELDS: Al, I just have to say, Bob Novak in the same sentence used jack-boot and J. Edgar Hoover. Now, J. Edgar and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) off-the-rack...

HUNT: They stick together, Mark. SHIELDS: That's right, one thing.

HUNT: I mean, if there was a genuine American rogue...

(CROSSTALK)

HUNT: ... the one monster in the last century was J. Edgar Hoover.

I think Louis Freeh is a smart guy. He's a charming guy. He was terrific at getting budget increases: got 58 percent budget increase in less than eight years, was able to shake the money tree. But I think his tenure was pretty much of a disappointment.

There's certainly the Hanssen FBI -- FBI Agent Hanssen spy case, a huge embarrassment to the FBI. Wen Ho Lee, one of the great botched cases of all times. The agency is now saying maybe Wen Ho Lee spied for the Taiwanese rather than China. It's kind of like all those Asians look alike.

And there were a lot of other issues. I mean, the aftermath of Ruby Ridge I think was absolutely terrible. He didn't -- he ducked responsibility for Filegate. He insisted on an independent counsel for the petty offenses of Henry Cisneros.

And I think he did -- I think he was a very political animal. And I think the William Webster tradition is a much better tradition, and that's what we ought to go to next.

SHIELDS: I think the points you make about the Hanssen case and the Wen Ho Lee one are very valid, although I think history will judge that Louis Freeh was absolutely right on the campaign outrage and scandals, and his...

NOVAK: I think we can all agree on that.

SHIELDS: ... and he was right in calling for an independent counsel.

(CROSSTALK)

SHIELDS: That's it, but you can go now, Bob.

Coming up, our CAPITAL GANG classic looks at our program three years ago this week, when President Clinton held his first press conference after the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHIELDS: Welcome back.

This week's capital gang classic goes back to our discussion of President Bill Clinton's first press conference of 1998, three years ago this week. When asked about Monica Lewinsky, he would say nothing. Here's what the CAPITAL GANG said on May 2, 1998.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, MAY 2, 1998)

NOVAK: When it comes to anything about these scandals or alleged scandals that he promised he would talk to the American people about two months ago, he has nothing to say. I have never seen a press conference, in my time here where a president of the United States just declined to answer so many questions.

I do think it does, in some way, diminish his presidency.

HUNT: I don't think he can get away forever with refusing to answer questions that he himself promised that he would answer. I just don't think -- I think it will be -- not easy to diminish, but it'll be even more diminishing if he keeps it up.

O'BEIRNE: The stonewall is increasingly transparent. You cannot separate that from his ability to function on Capitol Hill and make a case for his agenda.

NOVAK: But really, the whole agenda is tobacco taxes. Now, that's something that's popular -- whether it's a good idea, I don't know -- but that seemed to be his whole domestic agenda.

SHIELDS: You don't think it's a good idea...

NOVAK: No, I don't.

SHIELDS: And so -- he can't answer questions on the personal stuff. And his good news, good economic news just goes unmentioned.

O'BEIRNE: Of course, half the questions, even without the Lewinsky news, I think were going to be about the scandal, because he promised answers three months ago...

NOVAK: And this was his first solo conference.

SHIELDS: He did.

O'BEIRNE: ... and he made it clear this week...

SHIELDS: You're absolutely right.

O'BEIRNE: ... we are never going to get those answers to those questions.

HUNT: There's also, every politician, when they get in trouble, every president when he gets in trouble, what they do is they stop holding press conferences. That's a terrible mistake. I mean, if he goes another four months, it'll be the same -- it'll be a repeat.

SHIELDS: I couldn't agree with you more, Al. I'd just say that was has been an effective forum for Bill Clinton has turned into a political minefield -- the press conference.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHIELDS: Well, one thing we can say is that George W. Bush has never been in trouble and he doesn't have press conferences either.

(LAUGHTER)

SHIELDS: Back when president -- Kate O'Beirne, did we...

O'BEIRNE: He's had a couple.

SHIELDS: ... underestimate Bill Clinton?

O'BEIRNE: I think we called it right. We would never have gotten answers to any of those questions if Monica Lewinsky had gone to the dry cleaner. That piece -- that piece of the puzzle we didn't have. And he was going to be willing, and was willing, to sacrifice his party and his agenda to defend himself, to protect himself.

SHIELDS: Underestimate Bill Clinton, Harry?

REID: I think we should get off Bill Clinton and talk about Hillary Clinton. She has been an outstanding senator.

(LAUGHTER)

REID: People in Nevada don't want to talk about Bill Clinton. They want to focus on Hillary Clinton. She came to Nevada, we had a hearing, a rural community. They didn't like her when she came in. They stood and cheered when she left.

O'BEIRNE: People often cheer when she leaves.

SHIELDS: Boy, Robert Novak...

NOVAK: Well, I'd like to talk about Bill Clinton, but I would say this: I think -- I think we did underestimate Bill Clinton. I think we overestimated the American people. We didn't think they would tolerate that.

And there's still a lot of unanswered questions about the cover- up on that, so we didn't get all the answers.

SHIELDS: AL.

HUNT: I don't think there are many unanswered questions now, not after Ken Starr's X-rated report and everything else. But the sad fact of the matter is, Mark, that we were wrong: Stonewalling paid -- paid off.

NOVAK: Yeah...

SHIELDS: I will say this, though, there is -- for Bob's sake -- that final FBI lab report on that dress with all the DNA conclusively established that that dress was originally worn by J. Edgar Hoover.

HUNT: Edgar Hoover.

(LAUGHTER) SHIELDS: We'll be back, in the second half-hour with the newsmaker of the week: Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig. A look beyond the Beltway when John Glenn joins us to talk about Dennis Tito's ride in space. And our outrage of the week -- all after a check of the hour's top news.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: From Washington, THE CAPITAL GANG.

SHIELDS: Welcome back to the second half of CAPITAL GANG. I'm Mark Shields with Al Hunt, Robert Novak, and Kate O'Beirne. Our newsmaker of the week is commissioner of baseball, Bud Selig.

Allan H. "Bud" Selig: age 66; resident, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; religion, Jewish.

Owner of an auto-leasing company, in 1970 took over bankrupt Seattle Pilots baseball team, which became the Milwaukee Brewers. Chairman of the Major League Executive Council 1992-1998, baseball commissioner since 1998.

Earlier this week, on the eve of T-ball starting on the White House lawn, Al Hunt interviewed Commissioner Bud Selig from Milwaukee.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HUNT: Mr. Commissioner, many of us love baseball, yet you look at the sport today, attendance is sluggish. Some clubs, a lot of clubs, are losing money. There's the threat of a strike or a lockout next year. What is the health of the national pastime?

BUD SELIG, BASEBALL COMMISSIONER: Well, Al, the health of the game is remarkable in terms of the renaissance. Attendance this year will set another all-time record. We'll draw well over 75 million at the Major League level; we'll draw well over 37 million at the minor league level.

There is a paradox here. In the midst of this incredible renaissance, where I believe the game has never been more popular, we have disparity problems. We do have a significant number of teams losing money. It's as many as in the 23-25 range. And there's no question that everywhere I go the first question is: "Commissioner, what are you going to do about disparity? My team doesn't have a chance to win."

HUNT: But Mr. Commissioner, when you talk about disparity, you turn around and you see a team like the Texas Rangers pays Alex Rodriguez $252 million. No one made them do that. Isn't it a case of the owners, when they go labor contracts, basically saying, you know, "Stop me before I kill again"?

SELIG: I can't rationalize all the things that our ownership has done over the years, nor would I make any attempt to do so. The essence of the league, I always say, for a fan is hope and faith. You have to produce hope and faith. You need a system that promotes that. And therefore, you've had in other sports revenue-sharing and salary restraint -- call it a salary cap, call it whatever else you need.

HUNT: There are 30 Major League Baseball teams today. There's a lot of talk about possible contraction. How many clubs do you think there'll be a year or two from now?

SELIG: I'm not going to make that prediction, but Al, I will say this to you: Had you asked me that question a year ago, I would have told you that I wouldn't think about contraction. Contraction is an extremely serious option. There are people today who will tell you it's a bargaining chip for labor negotiations. They're wrong.

HUNT: You have labor contract talks coming up next year. Do you agree that a strike or a lockout would be near suicidal for baseball after the disaster of six years ago?

SELIG: I'm very concerned. You know, I was there as the acting commissioner in '94, and I know the heartache and the trauma. And I've been in baseball all my adult life, and Al, I don't ever want to go through anything like that again.

So I can assure you, look, the relationship with the players association is better than it's ever been by a long, long margin. And I am hopeful -- I'm extremely hopeful -- that we'll be able to solve our problems in a very quiet and sensitive manner. I think it's imperative.

HUNT: Sir, baseball has never had a more prominent fan than the president of the United States today, George W. Bush, who is going to launch an effort on his part to publicize the glories of baseball all around the country. He's going to start by having T-ball games in the backyard of the White House this weekend.

How helpful is it to baseball to have such a prominent booster?

SELIG: Extraordinarily helpful. He is really a great fan. He genuinely loves the game. And it is very, very helpful. And frankly, I am very, very appreciative.

HUNT: It's terrific to have T-ball in Washington, but some of your predecessors, going back 30 years ago, promised congressmen like Tip O'Neill and Bernie Sisco (ph), who are now dead, that baseball would relocate to Washington. What are the prospects that those commitments will be filled in the next couple of years and the national pastime return to the nation's capital?

SELIG: Well, Al, you know, I'm proud of the fact in many ways we haven't moved a team for 30 years. On the other hand, as I said to you before about contraction, all options are open, and that includes relocation. And certainly, I understand the need in many people's minds and their ability to support a team in the Washington area. And so, it's an option that we'll consider very seriously.

(END VIDEOTAPE) SHIELDS: Al Hunt, did Bud Selig really give any hope for avoiding a baseball strike?

HUNT: Mark, I think they know after 1994 that another strike really would be suicidal for the game. I don't think there will be nay strike and I don't think there will be any salary cap.

But I'll you, when my friend Kate O'Beirne was partying at the White House Correspondents Dinner last Saturday night, I stayed home. I watched a wonderful movie: Maris and Mantle, which is a terrific Billy Crystal movie. And one of the real villains was a former commissioner, Ford Frick. And if this current commissioner wants to be a hero 30 years from now, what he can do is put a baseball team in Washington.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak, I know your commitment to free enterprise, but tell me this: Football has benefited from pooling its revenues, pooling its resources and acting collectively. We have the haves and the have-nots in baseball now.

NOVAK: That's right. And this is not private enterprise. It's all one big enterprise. They do things together. And one evens it out; football and baseball doesn't. So I'm -- I'm with you on that.

But you know, Al, if you're optimistic about getting baseball back in Washington, you're not the hard-boiled realist I thought you were...

HUNT: I'm afraid you're right.

NOVAK: ... because I think he's worried about that fellow down the road, Mr. Angelos in Baltimore...

HUNT: In Baltimore.

NOVAK: ... who is a very good lawyer and a very litigious fellow. So I don't think -- I didn't think Commissioner Selig gave much hope on that.

SHIELDS: One thing that struck me that he talked about was up to 25 of the 30 Major League teams are losing money. And for the first time, instead of expansion, going into new markets, they're actually talking about contraction, about limiting the number of teams.

O'BEIRNE: Mark, I wanted to something about the politics of T- ball. T-ball has come to...

SHIELDS: Good for you. Absolutely.

O'BEIRNE: ... Washington now. We have T-ball. A lot of the cynics, of course, in Washington are calling these T-ball games on the lawn of the White House, never before happened, corny and contrived.

But I think the president's opponents are going to be frustrated with how well-received these are likely to be. It's never happened before. There are going to be these Norman Rockwell moments. The president, of course, is genuinely...

(CROSSTALK)

O'BEIRNE: ... first Little League -- former Little League president. I think they're going to be...

NOVAK: How do you get season tickets for T-ball?

O'BEIRNE: You can't.

SHIELDS: A lot of soft money, Bob.

But I will say this...

(LAUGHTER)

... I will say this: George Bush throws a ball better than any president I've seen in the White House.

O'BEIRNE: A little leaguer.

SHIELDS: Next on CAPITAL GANG...

HUNT: You never saw Taft.

SHIELDS: William Howard Taft was a port-sider, and portly port- sider. That's right.

Next on CAPITAL GANG, "Beyond the Beltway," looks at John Glenn and buying your way into space.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHIELDS: Welcome back.

"Beyond the Beltway" goes beyond the Beltway into outer space. Los Angeles multimillionaire Dennis Tito paid Russia $20 million to fly him to the joint U.S.-Russian space platform.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DENNIS TITO, SPACE TOURIST: It goes well beyond anything I would have ever dreamed. I think professional astronauts maybe, circulating among themselves, take this for granted. But I'll tell you, there is nothing like this as an experience.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHIELDS: NASA Administrator Dan Goldin complained, quote, "The current situation has put an incredible stress on the mean and women of NASA. Mr. Tito does not realize the efforts of thousands of people -- United States and Russia -- who are working to protect his safety and the safety of everyone else." End quote.

Joining us now is former United States Senator John Glenn of Ohio, one of the original Apollo astronauts, who became the first American to make a full orbital ride in space and 36 years later participated in another space mission as a retired U.S. senator.

Thanks for coming in, John.

JOHN GLENN, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: One correction: Mercury astronaut, not Apollo.

SHIELDS: Mercury, you're absolutely right.

GLENN: Those are the guys who went to the moon.

SHIELDS: You're absolutely right.

GLENN: Slight correction.

SHIELDS: Once again, John...

GLENN: I would liked to have been an Apollo...

SHIELDS: I know you would. But John Glenn, should Dennis Tito be up in space?

GLENN: Well, let me say, I know there's been a lot made of him going up, and I don't blame him for wanting to go up. And he's right. It's an incredible experience. But you know, the purpose of that whole -- the whole spacecraft up there is basic research. And that's what we had the 16 nations together on, that's what everybody agreed.

And this is, to me, sort of a misuse of it.

And I don't begrudge him going. I'm sure he's having a great time.

But I just think it's a misuse of the spacecraft, and it was supposed to be for research.

And it's as though we've built a very special hospital or something -- very expensive hospital or laboratory here on Earth -- and then one of the partners in it decided to use the other end of the building for something else. It just isn't that -- I just think we should be concentrating on research, and I think one of these days we'll have tourism in space, and that'll come in the natural course of things.

SHIELDS: What is, beyond tourism, do you think, is the future of space?

GLENN: Well, I think we're on the right track with the international space station right now, and of course, we're spending this whole year -- I think there are 14 launches and 11 EVAs, something like that. And it's not true -- they wouldn't let me do an EVA incidentally, because they were afraid I'd wander off some place at my age.

(LAUGHTER)

GLENN: But the -- I think the future is right there for a little while. I think the people that want to push for Mars, I think that's longer in the future than most people think. That's a -- that's a big, big effort when you start going out to Mars -- big effort.

So I just think that we're going in the right direction with these 16 nations working together. Maybe one of these days we can design a special spacecraft just for tourism in space -- have a design for that or something like that. Maybe that would be very popular.

SHIELDS: Would you like to go on that, Bob?

NOVAK: I would love to. I'm a little too old.

SHIELDS: I'd love to send you, too.

GLENN: You're not too old. I wasn't too old.

NOVAK: I was -- a lot of people were critical about John going up when he was -- but I thought that was a good idea. And I tell you what: I like -- I have always been an advocate of money for the space program. It's hard to get it. And I think this is a great funding program of soft money for space.

I mean, if you get all these millionaires in there, it can be a self-financing project. And I, honestly, John, what harm did Tito do up there? I mean, particularly when he was with the Russians. He didn't bother us.

GLENN: No, but I think he took a slot away from somebody who should have been up there on basic research. And my flight was on basic -- my flight was put out for review in the scientific community for over a year before Dan Goldin decided I should go and explained all the details of why I was selected to go on that.

But there was -- I just think it takes a slot away from what the purpose of the mission is. If everybody did that same thing, all the other 16 partners -- or all the 16 partners did that, we'd have everybody up there. And maybe if we want to start this sort of thing, then get the 16 partners together, agree on the ground rules, agree on the training, which NASA was very, truly concerned about.

I've talked to Dan Goldin. They were really concerned about the safety of someone like this going up that was not trained with our people. And so, I just think if we're going to do it, then let's do it right and open this up for other folks.

O'BEIRNE: I also found myself not objecting to the fact that he was up there. There are so many examples of private money being used for public purposes. It hadn't before been in space. But every time somebody builds with private money a museum building or a hospital wing -- and I think that this might well be the future of the space program if wealthy individuals are willing to underwrite some of the costs.

Clearly, there are commercial possibilities in space, and I'm not surprised to learn that tourism might be at the cutting edge of those commercial possibilities. GLENN: Well, remember in the early days, when they were trying to get the Russian module up there to begin with, they couldn't finance it.

O'BEIRNE: Yes.

GLENN: And we bailed them out on some of that;, helped them get that thing financed and up there now. And now they're using it for other purposes than we thought it was being put up there for. Maybe we should get the 20 million, I don't know. Maybe it should come back here.

HUNT: John, when do you think we're realistically talking about having space tourism where people go and take off for a weekend and...

GLENN: Oh, I think that -- I don't know. Maybe we could do it on the -- if we want to do it in the space station and do it after the rules and the safety rules and all and the training is all lined up, maybe you do that one of these days. I don't know.

HUNT: Next 10 years?

GLENN: But you don't it just by -- perhaps there could be something worked out on that where different nations would have a chance to send somebody up there or a newsperson went up. Walter Cronkite's been pushing to go up for the last 20 years that I know of.

O'BEIRNE: Al, do you think...

HUNT: Boy, don't you think Bob Novak would be a terrific candidate, John?

GLENN: Would you bring him back, though?

(LAUGHTER)

HUNT: Well...

(CROSSTALK)

SHIELDS: John, your own reflection at this time. I mean, it's 36 years apart. I mean, you were the first American to orbit the Earth, and then that marvelous trip you took upon your Senate retirement: your reflections just on space and sort of what we land- locked people ought to know about.

GLENN: The first time they -- cut me off, if I go too long. The first time up, of course, people were worried about, the doctors were worried about would your eyes change shape when you're weightless for a while. And so there's a little -- you look at the spacecraft over in the Smithsonian -- a little eye chart up on top of the instrument panel I was to read every time, every 20 minutes during the flight.

NOVAK: Every 20 minutes?

GLENN: Yeah. They were really concerned that if you got to where you couldn't see, you wouldn't be able to make an emergency re- entry, perhaps. And would the fluid in the inner-ear move about more randomly and would you have nausea and vertigo so badly that you couldn't -- you couldn't function properly?

So those were some of the things. And could we control? There were doctors who thought you wouldn't be able to look out and correlate your actions enough to do the spacecraft.

Now, on the last flight, what I was looking into, were the comparisons between me and the younger astronauts on things like osteoporosis and the body's immune system. You become less immune to disease and infection up there. That happens with older folks here on Earth. Protein turnover: The muscles replacement of protein changes up there for the younger people, changes as part of the natural process of aging here.

And what we're trying to do is find that the -- what within the human body keys these things on and off, so maybe we can make longer space flights possible for the younger people and maybe turn off some of these frailties of old age here on Earth. And it's just a fascinating study, and I was just proud as could be of being able to participate in it.

NOVAK: Don't you think, though, John, that the trouble of having funding on the Hill on the space programs would be solved if really ordinary Americans could say, "Gee, maybe I'll be the Dennis Tito of next year"?

GLENN: Oh, maybe so. I don't know. But it shouldn't be considered where one nation just decides, "I'm going to shove it to you and we're going to do this no matter what you guys think." That is not the way to do it.

So I'm not against people going into space. I wish everybody could go up and experience this.

SHIELDS: John Glenn, you make us proud as Americans today, as you always have. Thank you for being with us.

GLENN: Thank you, Mark.

SHIELDS: And the Gang will be back with the "Outrage of the Week."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHIELDS: Now for the "Outrage of the Week." In 1940, New York University left its star fullback, Leonard Bates, at home when its football team played the University of Missouri. It was common practice at the time -- Harvard and Boston College did the same -- for northern schools to appease all-white southern schools by playing without their own black players.

In 1941, seven NYU students were suspended for protesting their schools abandonment of its own black athletes. Now, 60 years later, NYU is finally recognizing that injustice by honoring the seven student protesters. But what is outrageous is that NYU refuses to apologize for leaving Leonard Bates at home.

Bob Novak.

NOVAK: In 1947, the United States led the way in founding the United Nations Human Rights Commission, and since then has led the way in protesting government outrages worldwide. But the U.S. was the victim of an outrage this week when U.N. members kicked the U.S. off the Human Rights Commission.

Listen to the human rights abusers who are on the commission: Pakistan, Sierra Leone, and worst of all, Sudan. Has the U.N. outlived its usefulness? How can the U.S. justify financing this fraternity of rogues?

SHIELDS: China is on the same commission, isn't it?

Kate O'Beirne.

O'BEIRNE: This weekend Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle is hosting a fund-raiser to help former Oklahoma Governor David Walters, who's planning on running for the Senate, raise a lot of soft money, the kind of corrupt money Tom Daschle wants to outlaw.

In 1993, Walters was indicted, plead guilty and received a one- year deferred sentence for a campaign contribution violation. A Democratic aide explains that Walters is the kind of Democrat the party needs to take the Senate. The kind who violates fund-raising laws?

SHIELDS: Al Hunt?

HUNT: Mark, the outrage is all of us 27 years ago were outraged that President Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon. This week, Jerry Ford was awarded the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award for that controversial decision. As JFK's daughter, Caroline Kennedy, noted: "President Ford presided during one of this nation's darkest hours, and in an effort to heal deep divisions he issued a pardon that did end our national nightmare." It also probably cost him the presidency. That is courage.

SHIELDS: You're right.

This is Mark Shields saying good night for THE CAPITAL GANG.

"CNN TONIGHT" is next. Here's a preview with Stephen Frazier.

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