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CNN CAPITAL GANG

What Did Bush Accomplish on His Asian Tour?; Clint Bolick Discusses Cleveland School Voucher Case; Should Cardinal Law Resign?

Aired February 23, 2002 - 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.
AL HUNT, CO-HOST: Welcome to CAPITAL GANG. I'm Al Hunt with the full gang: Robert Novak, Kate O'Beirne, Margaret Carlson, and in San Francisco, Mark Shields.

President Bush on his Asian trip sought to reassure allies in Japan and South Korea about his targeting the axis of evil, particularly North Korea.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: South Korea has no intention of attacking North Korea. Neither does America. We're purely defensive.

KIM DAE JUNG, PRESIDENT, SOUTH KOREA: [translated] President Bush is more than ready to dialogue with North Korea. And he has reiterated his positions. And the Korean people, I believe, will be assuaged by this reiteration.

JUNICHIRO KOIZUMI, PRIME MINISTER, JAPAN: [translated] President Bush, I believe, has been a very calm and cautious vis a vis Iraq, Iran and North Korea

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HUNT: In Beijing, President Bush told the Chinese people of his meeting with President Jiang Zemin.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: I had the honor of sharing with him how faith changed my life and how faith contributes to the life of my country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HUNT: Earlier, the Chinese president was pressed by American journalists about jailed Roman Catholic bishops.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIANG ZEMIN, PRESIDENT, CHINA (through translator): Whatever religion people believe in, they have to abide by the law. So some of the lawbreakers have been detained because of their violation of law, not because of their religious belief.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HUNT: Bob, what did President Bush's mission accomplish?

ROBERT NOVAK, "CHICAGO SUN-TIMES": I think it accomplished a lot. In the first place, it made it clear that the United States is not about to attack North Korea or Iran or Iraq. He's trying to put some pressure on them. I think now we can say that the very felicitous phrase of the access of evil was probably a mistake. And he could've said the same thing without getting our allies over the world upset.

Secondly, he continued the dialogue with China, which I think was very good. We didn't get an agreement on the proliferation of weapons, but there's a lot more progress been made than was made under President Clinton on that score. And the president, in speaking to the students, did talk about freedom. He talked about his religious faith.

Very interesting that the Chinese government kept that out of the news reports, but you can't -- they can't control things anymore. It got out on the Internet. People saw it on television. So I thought it was a successful and admirable trip, not historic certainly, but effective.

HUNT: Kate, a successful trip, axis of evil mistake?

KATE O'BEIRNE, "NATIONAL REVIEW": No, I don't think it was a mistake. And I think what he made clear every place he visited was he is -- remains utterly committed to dealing with the deadly threat he identified as the axis of evil.

A threat, deal with it in different ways in each place, but in South Korea, unlike Jimmy Carter, who visited his former president in '94 and talked about the great love of the people for their leader, and how crowded the department stores were, he fingers North Korea for what they are, a brutal repressive regime. And he's anxious to see a unified Korean peninsula. He wants to see the barbed wire and fear done away with. And he talked about the threat that North Korea poses.

Now he expressed our willingness to engage in talks with them, but I think he repeated his determination every place he went. And of course in China, he repeated our firm commitment to the defense of Taiwan. And if China wants to earn the world's respect, they're going to have to act more respectfully.

HUNT: Mark Shields out in San Francisco, Kate and Bob disagree on the exact reasons why, but both deem the trip a success. Do you agree?

MARK SHIELDS, CO-HOST: Well, I'm not sure it was a success, Al. I don't think that people -- Bob Novak has commented publicly that George Bush came to the presidency with less experience probably than any man in the 20th century, public experience. And I think that's probably true. And so, I think the expectations were not that high.

But if I recall that we were talking about the weapons technology and its proliferation. There was supposed to be a deal. The deal didn't come through. We talk about the evil axis and we talk about Iran, Iran got its nuclear missile technology from China. Pakistan, another...

HUNT: The deal, Mark, being China.

SHIELDS: I beg your pardon?

HUNT: I'm sorry, a deal was supposed to happen in China, right?

SHIELDS: That's right. That's right, Al. And the same with Pakistan, whose now our new best friend, but you know, is still a potential nuclear threat to India. So I'm not sure that we construe palms in the president's path yet or put the garland of just gold medals around his neck.

HUNT: Margaret, do you think that he assuaged the South Koreans, who had been very upset about the axis of evil comment earlier?

MARGARET CARLSON, "TIME" MAGAZINE: I think he did more than Kate said. He backed off the axis of evil, not in so many words, but their membership in that axis -- because they're not equivalent to Iraq, was diminished. And the South Koreans were mollified. And he said that he relationship is defensive, not offensive. That was one accomplishment.

Otherwise, Bush comes back empty-handed. I agree with Mark. All areas of disagreement remain areas of disagreement as a result of the trip. No agreement on weapons. What remains -- no technology transfers. What we have is what we did have, which is $100 billion in annual trade. We have a trade policy with China, more than anything else.

But there was -- I will -- the personal part of the diplomacy...

NOVAK: Was good.

CARLSON: Was very good. He didn't look into Zemin's soul, but he got "O Solo Mio" with the accordion and lot of...

O'BEIRNE: He made the point (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that the man is soloist.

CARLSON: Is soloist.

NOVAK: Mark, I think -- I said accurately that I have said that the president came to the presidency with less -- President Bush came to the presidency with less experience than anybody in the 20th century. That's what the -- that's what he was criticized for. What Margaret didn't say is I think that's an asset than a being a governor of some southern state and getting a lot of bad experience such as other presidents who might've had a little bit more experience.

But what I do believe that Sterling Lord, Margaret, who is one of the leading U.S. experts on China.

HUNT: I think you mean Winston Lord.

NOVAK: Winston Lord. Certainly...

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: I'm sorry, Winston Lord, who is an expert on China. And he was president high official in the Clinton administration, former ambassador, has said that he thinks progress is being made on the proliferation. It isn't dramatic. You don't come in with a deal.

And the whole idea that the president is supposed to go to Beijing and take Zemin and shake him by the neck, as I think Mark Shields would like him to do, that would be absolutely insane. So I think it was -- and the liberals would be screaming bloody murder if he did that anyway.

HUNT: Kate, he's certainly had a softer rhetoric in Korea, though, didn't he?

O'BEIRNE: Probably understood from the very beginning when he talked about the axis of evil, it's always, in each case it's a defense situation on our part. They pose a threat to us and their neighbors. And we have to ask...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: But not Iraq.

NOVAK: It didn't sound that way. And that's why people got on there.

O'BEIRNE: Oh, it didn't sound that way to European allies, who love nothing better than pouncing all over George Bush in hysterical reaction.

CARLSON: But Kate, our policy against Iraq is different than North Korea.

O'BEIRNE: Right.

CARLSON: I mean, we have an offensive policy against Iraq.

HUNT: Should we let Mark Shields get in? Mark, because I think your name has been invoked. Do you want to respond?

SHIELDS: It has been invoked by Robert D. Novak, which is always a treat. But I'm still waiting for the president and whether it's Winston Lord, Sterling Lord or Lord Giuliani to explain exactly why Cuba is a threat to -- we have to keep our guard up. It has nothing to do with -- and China is our strategic partner.

Maybe someone in this administration can tell me.

NOVAK: Well, I have explained that to you many times. And if you don't listen and you don't understand, I can't help it.

HUNT: Boy, Bob, I know you try hard, Lord knows, but I suspect you'll keep trying hard. We're going to take a break now, but the gang of five will be back with the death of Danny Pearl.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HUNT: Welcome back. A videotape revealed that "Wall Street Journal" reporter Danny Pearl had been brutally murdered by his abductors in Pakistan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PERVEZ MUSHARAFF, PRESIDENT, PAKISTAN: I can assure my countrymen that we will not leave any stone unturned to bring all these people involved in this murder to justice.

NIRIPAMA RAO, INDIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY: His brutal and senseless murder has once again drawn attention to the criminal forces of terror that continue to operate on Pakistani territory.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HUNT: The State Department announced a more aggressive policy to help U.S. citizens abducted overseas.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD BOUCHER, STATE DEPT. SPOKESMAN: It may be pounding on a foreign ministry door. It may be working with law enforcement authorities, but we're going to look and see what we can do to get Americans who are being held out of detention.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HUNT: The suggestion of more flexibility in dealing with kidnappers brought this response from the Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN BOB GRAHAM (D), INTELLIGENCE CHMN.: We would be putting more journalists and more Americans of all types of backgrounds at risk if it were known that we would negotiate and pay for the release of kidnapped persons.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HUNT: Margaret, should the U.S. begin to negotiate with terrorists who abduct American citizens?

CARLSON: Well, we should try to talk to those people. The policy has been to get more involved when it's a U.S. official or an American military person and more hands off when it's a citizen or a corporate official. This policy changes kind of a nuance thing, where it says we're going to be more vigorous, but it doesn't quite say what they're going to do, but reiterates that we'll never pay ransom. In fact, ransom sometimes does help with these corporations. And this policy says they discourage the paying of ransom by corporations, but will still cooperate with the corporations.

I thought it was a kind of muddled response, which is, "No, we're not negotiating with terrorists. We're not paying ransom, but gee, we'd like to find a way to get them back."

HUNT: Kate, you see it muddled, nuanced?

O'BEIRNE: Well, it strikes me that it's currently under discussion, although we're paying ransom and negotiating, I think it's out of the question because I think our government anticipates more incidents like this.

Danny Pearl's brave wife, who actually offered to switch places with him, appealed to the terrorists holding him, saying it'd be so much better if you freed him, he could tell your story, explain you to the world. They're not interested in being explained. They're interested in killing Americans.

In his case, according to somebody in custody, specifically an American Jew, and I think our government expects the war on terror to take many more such victims, unfortunately, has the potential to do that.

HUNT: Mark Shields?

SHIELDS: Al, I think those of our colleagues and those among us, who continue to just take official handouts and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) from the powerful and the well connected, run no risk of kidnapping. But it was Danny Pearl, who quite frankly, went out to report on the wounded, the marginalized, the aggrieved, who ironically and courageously gave voice to those people.

I mean, those are the people who run the risks. And I just think that -- I just want to make the observation that this was a noble man with great bravery and great courage, who graced our profession and elevated entirely. And you know, I just wish that more of us, including me, had the same kind of courage.

HUNT: I think Mark is absolutely right, Bob. And don't you?

NOVAK: Well, I certainly have nothing but admiration for the courage of Danny Pearl. I couldn't quite understand what Mark was saying, whether he thought that Danny Pearl was doing some kind of a journalist without borders thing for poor people in Pakistan. He was reporting for "The Wall Street Journal" on the conspiracy of the terrorists and lost his life trying to get to it.

But I will say this, that the thing about this that has disturbed me, is that I caught on talk radio, driving my car yesterday, a couple programs, where a so-called conservatives, I wouldn't grace them with that name, were saying too much attention was being paid to Danny Pearl. And the moderators on the radios were saying it, too.

I think press bashing is fine. And I engage in it, but I think this -- for those people calling in, went much too far. It went over the line.

O'BEIRNE: And that upset, you have your driver switch stations for you, Bob. On the same day we learned about the terrible death of Danny Pearl, we also lost the most military members in the helicopter crash in the Philippines on a single day on the war on terror. And I think they both serve as a reminder of the victims -- that we're going to lose, given as I said, they decide to just kill Americans. And the casualty toll we're going to take with respect to those who are fighting the war on terror.

HUNT: And Margaret, I think America, and this really scares American intelligence because they know how easy it is to do things about abduct American citizens.

CARLSON: Right. And journalists, they -- we don't want to treat -- we don't want to talk about treating journalists any better than anybody else, but it was almost like capturing an official, because it got the attention they wanted. And it made him seem like, you know, somebody worth negotiating over.

NOVAK: And also, the horrible way that he's alleged to have died is -- and another thing is the people who crashed in the helicopter, God rest their soul, but they were in -- they volunteered in the military. When you do go out as a correspondent, and I've been in a lot of wars as a journalist, you don't go out there thinking you're going to die. It's a little different than being a fighting soldier.

HUNT: Well, it was...

CARLSON: More journalists have died since this began than soldiers.

HUNT: It was perpetrated by a bunch of absolutely cowardly street thugs. Mark Shields?

SHIELDS: Al, that's the point I was trying to make, as Bob would watch my lips and listen a little carefully, Bob. The point is that this was not a guy who just relying upon official briefings or just going to Georgetown dinner parties or anything of the sort. He was listening to the people and trying to understand, yes, for "The Wall Street Journal," but for a larger audience as well. And he -- the crime against him was one of immense and unacceptable brutality, but it was also one of betrayal of total stupidity on the part who did it, because Danny Pearl was one of the few reporters who was out there listening.

O'BEIRNE: They don't want to be listened to, they want to kill Americans.

NOVAK: Well, that's true.

HUNT: Well, let me just add my voice. I worked with Danny Pearl. He was really an exceptionally good reporter. His great courage in Pakistan. And personally, he brought sunshine in the lives of so many people he touched. And he's going to be missed very much, but he leaves a very, very special, a very special legacy.

Next on CAPITAL GANG, a new department of disinformation. Or is it?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HUNT: Welcome back. It was revealed that the Pentagon is considering plans to put out false news items to foreign media organizations as an effort to influence global public opinion.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: The Department of Defense does not now, and has no plans, to conduct any disinformation campaigns or to promulgate false or inaccurate or misleading information to domestic or foreign audiences.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HUNT: Mark, anything wrong with white lies in the interest of national security?

SHIELDS: No, there's nothing wrong with white lies in the interest of national security, Al. And the example that's used is the United States giving misinformation to Hitler that we're going to invade the European continent at Calais, rather than at Normandy.

But Al, if there's anything that all of us must learn, and certainly governments and politicians ought to know, the quickest way in the world to guarantee negative press is to be caught lying to the press. And in that case, this is truly an act, or potential act, of enormous stupidity.

HUNT: Kate, you agree?

O'BEIRNE: I do agree. And I'm not sure how seriously this was being considered at the Pentagon, because it certainly seemed that Secretary Rumsfeld and others raced to say that they would never engage in spreading this kind of false information to the media.

Now there is a role, of course, of disinformation and propaganda, I think, as a legitimate war tool, but it has to be kept completely separate from the Pentagon's efforts to inform us about the conduct of a war.

HUNT: Bob, are you shocked, shocked that the Pentagon thought about lying?

NOVAK: What I'm shocked about is the stupidity of putting it in paper and putting it in the hands of some people who would leak it. I mean, this kind of thing, if it's going to work, has to be very subtle. You can't say, "Boy, we're going to go around the world lying to people." And obviously, the people who didn't like the plan, leaked it. Things don't get leaked at the Pentagon very much. And this thing did.

This is part, however, of the whole attitude at the Pentagon in this war of controlling the press, something's that very popular with the country. Because the press isn't very popular. But the next step is, after you've controlled the press, then you begin to -- I think you keep the press from reporting things, then you begin to disseminate things in the foreign press that will aide our cause.

HUNT: Margaret?

CARLSON: I mean, you can't announce you're going to lie, because then, you know, it's not a lie. You get all...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Yes. But Secretary Rumsfeld...

(CROSSTALK)

O'BEIRNE: ... was disinformation.

CARLSON: Yes, right. It's disinformation within disinformation. So we're so confused, but Secretary Rumsfeld...

HUNT: I'm lost.

CARLSON: ...fixed it almost immediately by saying...

NOVAK: I think it's dead now.

CARLSON: Yes, it's not going to happen. I mean, these half- cooked policies have come up. Like the military tribunals and whether or not we were going to abide by the Geneva Conventions. And it seems to remain for Secretary Rumsfeld, then, to fix these things up.

This would never work now, anyway, because you know, you say something in a foreign country, and it's back here in an instant, thanks to say CNN. You can't lie abroad and not have it broadcast here. You can't be using the domestic media for it, because they're going to catch you and...

HUNT: Right. Now I agree. And Mark Shields, I think your example of Normandy is a very, very good one, but I think you would probably agree with Margaret, wouldn't you, that you can't do this in this global information age and have it be effective. It's a bad idea.

SHIELDS: Oh, no question about it, Al. But I do want to associate myself completely with what Bob Novak said about the Pentagon and the press blackout of this war. It was months after the October 7 bombing, before they'd even allow reporters into Afghanistan, and wouldn't even let them into countries adjacent to Afghanistan, because there were Pentagon airfields there. And then, when they finally were allowed in, they couldn't even quote American soldiers by name. I mean, forget the great legend of Ernie Pyle and the great reporting he did during World War II. I think they are victims of their own press control and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to dominate the press.

HUNT: Well, I agree. Let me tell you, as long as things are going well, they may get away with it. But if things start to go not quite so well, it'll come back to bite them.

The gang will be back with a CAPITAL GANG classic. The first President Bush's ill-fated 1992 visit to Tokyo.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HUNT: Welcome back. And now for the CAPITAL GANG classic. About 10 years ago, the first President Bush went to Japan to try to discuss economic problems. At a state dinner in Tokyo, he vomited on the Japanese prime minister and then fainted. The gang considered these events on January the 11th of 1992.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE BUSH, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You think only old people get the flu? I think Democrats get the flu from time to time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HUNT: Mark, does the fainting spell in Tokyo make Dan Quayle a hot button issue for the Democrats?

SHIELDS: Well, Al, I've heard of presidents in exasperation throwing up their hands, but never anything like this before. Dan Quayle, when asked about George Bush's illness, said, "I'm ready," which is faintly reminiscent, of course, of Al Haig's, "I'm in control here."

As far as the Democrats are concerned, I'm afraid they're going to go for the bait and try and bash him again, which is a mistake.

HUNT: Bob Novak, you were in Japan. Now when the president got sick, there were a lot of rumors. I want to put to rest one of those rumors. It is not true the president looked up and saw you at the state dinner and that's what happened. So we can say that's not true, but do you want to give us your perspective either on Quayle or the sickness?

NOVAK: Well, I think that anytime you have a 67-year old president, who had a serious illness, people are going to wonder about it. And this doesn't help. I think people still wonder, "Is the guy sick," which is a negative for him. But the idea of the Quayle being a tremendous issue, I agree with Mark 100 percent.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HUNT: Kate, did the senior George Bush's swoon foretell his defeat 11 months later? O'BEIRNE: Had some of us been there, they would've pointed out that this is -- can be a predictable response to sushi, which could've poor President Bush's fault. And you certainly weren't a nurturing bunch. Bob Novak was straight through a state funeral and had President Quayle in the White House. The poor man had the flu, Bob. It happens.

CARLSON: He should've had a food taster.

HUNT: Huh, sushi, Margaret?

CARLSON: He should've had a food taster. Where did they go? Isn't that what the Secret Service is supposed to be doing? But you guys just, you love, you know, vomit stories.

NOVAK: Well, one thing, this is a double vomit story, because one thing that didn't come out of the time, very seldom came out, is that he got sick in the prime minister's resident, Prime Minister Miwazawa's residence before the dinner. And they said, President Bush, maybe we ought to call this off. No, no, no, go ahead. So he goes to the dinner. He eats. And he gets sick again.

I really do believe that that had a negative impact on the way he was thought of in the country. 1992 was not a good year for George H.W. Bush.

HUNT: Mark Shields, we have about 15 seconds. Do you think it was a harbinger?

SHIELDS: Well, Al, a great after-dinner speaker on the panel sitting next to you once said, "You put in a dinner, and up comes a speech." And this was the corollary of that, I think.

(LAUGHTER)

HUNT: On that note, we'll be back in just a moment with the second half of CAPITAL GANG. Our "Newsmaker" will be judicial activist Clint Bolick, discussing the Cleveland School voucher case. And "Beyond the Beltway" looks at the crisis of Cardinal Law, with "Boston Globe" columnist Brian McGrory. And our "Outrages of the Week," all after the latest news following these messages.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: Live from Washington, the CAPITAL GANG.

HUNT: Welcome back to the second half of CAPITAL GANG. I'm Al Hunt with Robert Novak, Kate O'Beirne, Margaret Carlson, and in San Francisco, Mark Shields.

Our "Newsmaker of the Week" is Clint Bolick, vice president of the Institute for Justice. Clint Bolick, age 44. Residence, Phoenix, Arizona. Religion, non-believer. Undergraduate degree from Drew University. Law degree from the University of California-Davis. Co- founder of the Institute for Justice, 1992. And author, "Transformation, The Promise and Politics of Empowerment," 1998. He's the leader nationally in defending school choice programs.

Our Kate O'Beirne interviewed Clint Bolick from Phoenix earlier this week.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

O'BEIRNE: Clint, you've called the Cleveland School voucher case the court heard this week, the most important education case since Brown versus Board of Education. Why is so important?

CLINT BOLICK, INSTITUTE FOR JUSTICE: Well, we began with a promise of equal educational opportunities, but now close to a half century later, we're not fulfilling those opportunities for low income kids, for minority school children in urban education centers. This program is vitally important.

O'BEIRNE: Now the lower federal court found this Cleveland program unconstitutional or a violation of the establishment clause. Why was that court wrong?

BOLICK: The state of Ohio used every possible educational alternative to cure a horrible situation in the Cleveland Public Schools. Unfortunately, when the alarm bell rang, most of the schools that responded to that alarm bell were religious schools. The suburban public schools refused to help these kids in inner city Cleveland.

It seems to me that because only some schools answered the alarm bell should not be a grounds for ruling the program unconstitutional.

O'BEIRNE: Now Clint, in Cleveland, a few thousand parents get a voucher worth up to about $2200 a year. That doesn't seem like enough to cover the cost of most private schools?

BOLICK: Well, most people, when they think of private schools, they think of elite private schools. But in the inner city, the average cost of tuition in private schools is below $2500. Every single private school in the city of Cleveland is participating in this program and trying to rescue these kids.

O'BEIRNE: Now I know you consider your work a rescue operation for low income kids and failing public schools, but what happens to the children without vouchers, left behind in those schools?

BOLICK: Well, fortunately, what we're seeing in programs like Milwaukee, which now is in its 10th year and Florida, not only does it help get kids out of failing schools, but it also helps the public schools themselves by injecting a long overdue dose of competition.

O'BEIRNE: Is there any evidence on how the children using vouchers, those who leave in private schools, are doing, compared to those left behind?

BOLICK: Every single study has either found modest gains or substantial gains. And the longer a child is in the program, the better the child does. O'BEIRNE: Polls show that the majority of black parents support school vouchers. So why do so many black politicians seem to oppose them?

BOLICK: Well, a lot black politicians, who of course, send their own children to private schools, like Jesse Jackson and many others, are totally beholden to special interest groups like the teachers' unions. And so, we see polls like "The Washington Post" that find that black individuals earning over $50,000 are split evenly on school choice. The ones who need it the most, those under $50,000, favor it by a 3 to 1 margin.

O'BEIRNE: Are the polls showing support for vouchers reliable, given that vouchers keep losing in the voting booth, most recently in Michigan?

BOLICK: Well, when you get to the initiative process, the defenders of the status quo can scare people by arguing that this is going to kill the public schools. And so, we're battling hypotheticals. But when you go to cities where we actually have school choice programs, the support if overwhelming.

O'BEIRNE: Clint, you were at the counsel's table in the Supreme Court on Wednesday. Did the justices tip their hand during the argument? Do you have any prediction on how the court might rule?

BOLICK: Well, our goal, all along in all of these school choice cases, has been to demonstrate that these programs are not about religion. They're about education. And the justices questioning gave us optimism that the court really understands that.

I certainly would not make a prediction, but I would say I left the courthouse with a big smile on my face.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HUNT: Kate, is Clint Bolick's optimism justified?

O'BEIRNE: I think school voucher supporters will be smiling. I think the lower court probably was wrong. The Cleveland program is neutral as to religion. Both religious schools and non-religious schools can participate. It's up to the parents to decide which they want. And that's why Clint Bolick, who for my money, has done more for low income black children than Marion Wright Edelman or Hillary Clinton or any of his other child advocates. He likens it to a G.I. bill for kids. And of course, under the G.I. bill, it's perfectly constitutional to take that federal money and go to Notre Dame or Yeshiva University.

HUNT: Mark Shields, I, of course, disagree with Kate about Marion Wright Edelman and Hillary Clinton, but I do agree with her on vouchers. I am pro-vouchers. But what we find is that maybe a number of inner-city blacks favor it, but white, suburban conservatives always vote against it when it goes to the polls.

SHIELDS: Well, that's -- I recall our colleague, one of the great American reports, Bob Novak, in covering the Michigan race last year, reported that very fact that when the rubber hit the road and the crunch came, the only thing that was of interest to those same conservative voters in -- of course, Michigan Governor John Engles (ph) had out to fight, as well, even though John McCain, the scourge of conservatives went in and fought for vouchers.

But the only question that those conservative voters wanted to ask was are you against vouchers. And if you weren't, that was the threshold question. They weren't even considering your vote. Isn't that true, Bob? Novak/Shields alliance?

NOVAK: That is true. But Mark, I think the other side of the coin is what Clint Bolick said that the liberals are equally hypocritical on this, because they're in hock to the teachers' union. So it's a -- sort of an equilibrium of hypocrisy that we have right now. And I have to -- one other thing, that the president just dropped school choice like a hot potato out of his -- what I consider a bloated education bill. So I think everybody is culpable on this.

CARLSON: You don't have to be in hock to the teachers' unions to be concerned about what happens to public schools if vouchers become widespread. But what happened here is it's not the government's supporting religion. By default, these children ended up in parochial schools, which we should all be proud for having a place for them to go in the meantime, while you hope that the public schools get better. The suburban schools would not take these children with their $2,200 vouchers. And shame on them for it.

HUNT: Last word, Margaret Carlson. Next on CAPITAL GANG, "Beyond the Beltway" looks at the travail of the cardinal archbishop of Boston over pedophile priests. "Boston Globe" columnist Brian McGrory joins us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HUNT: Welcome back. "Beyond the Beltway" looks at the Roman Catholic church's problem with pedophile priests. In Massachusetts, defrocked priest John Geoghan was sentenced to nine to 10 years in prison for molesting a boy 10 years ago, following a long record of sexual abuse of young boys.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This defendant hit behind his collar within the safety and sanctity of the Roman Catholic church.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HUNT: The assignment as parish priest of Geoghan and other known pedophiles have led to demands for the resignation of Cardinal Bernard Law, the archbishop of Boston. He announced this week that he would not quit.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARDINAL BERNARD LAW, BOSTON ARCHBISHOP: We made and I made mistakes. We have reported to the public authorities the names of every priest whom we know to have been accused of the sexual molestation of a minor.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HUNT: Joining us now from Boston is "Boston Globe" metro columnist Brian McGrory. Brian, thanks for coming in.

BRIAN MCGRORY, "BOSTON GLOBE": You're welcome, Al.

HUNT: Brian, did Cardinal Law's statement soften the call for his resignation?

MCGRORY: In some ways, yes. In other ways, no. You may be familiar with "The Globe" poll in the last couple of weeks that showed that 38 percent of the people, Catholics who responded, said he should remain as cardinal. But 48 percent of the respondents, all Catholics, said he should resign. There's a lot of outrage out there.

On the flip side, the money well hasn't dried up for him. All the big downtown donors to Catholic charities are still giving. And they say they're going to continue to give, which is a major boost for the cardinal.

NOVAK: Brian, I read some analysis comparing Cardinal Law unfavorably with the late Cardinal Cushing. And I believe that some of these instances of pedophile priests occurred under Cardinal Cushing. I just wondered, if as has been indicated, part of the opposition to Cardinal Law is that he is a pro-life conservative, while Cardinal Cushing is a buddy of the Kennedys, and he gets a free ride on that. Is there some of that in this criticism?

MCGRORY: No, Bob, I think you're reading too much into it. There's an awful lot of outrage here over specifically how he handled this case, the Geoghan case and many other cases. It wasn't until "The Globe's" spotlight team reported that he had shuffled John Geoghan off to another parish and allowed him to molest again that the Cardinal actually came out and apologized.

Before that, he had spent all his time fighting this in court, making sure that records weren't disclosed. He was doing everything he possibly could to make sure the public didn't know about this. And that's what people are outraged about.

CARLSON: It's so surprising to hear that the Catholic establishment is still behind him, given that his inaction let, you know, boys continue to be molested. Speaking of the money from Catholic charities, I understand $10 million has been paid out to the families of these molested boys. And I imagine they're going to be ever more lawsuits. And the Cardinal said none of the money to pay for this will come from the collection basket. I hope not. But where is it going to come from?

MCGRORY: Well so far, our understanding is that that money has come from insurance that the archdiocese has, although they're now out there saying that the insurance is going to run dry. And where the future money comes from, I'm not really sure.

I did see one businessman quoted in the paper, saying that he would be willing to kick in money to help settle some of these cases.

It's actually been more than $10 million as well. There have already been up to 100 cases settled against Geoghan in secret, with payments roughly between $10 and $15 million in total. And there's another 90 cases that are still outstanding, pending. And that's going to cost the church a small fortune.

HUNT: Kate?

O'BEIRNE: Brian, after years of a disgrace for lack of concern for abused victims, the diocese has now turned over the names of scores of accused priests. Some of whom only have a single accusation from many, many years ago. Is there now a concern that the new zero tolerance policy could be devastating for innocent priests?

MCGRORY: There is. And the Cardinal has spoken a little bit about that. And they have said that they are only turning cases over where the accusation appears to be justifiable in some way. I -- my sense is that there are cases that aren't getting turned over because of what you say. But yes, there is a concern that there's an overreaction. But at this point in the archdiocese, I think it's -- there's a sense that it's better to overreact than do what they had been doing before, which is dramatically underreact.

HUNT: Mark Shields?

SHIELDS: Brian, the Catholic church teaches us that to have a preferential option for the poor, for the powerless, for those who aren't able to fight for themselves. That's children. They qualify in every possible ground. And yet, we seem to have seen an archdiocese a lot more concerned about damage control lately, than it has been about the damage that's been inflicted these children, just outrageously and indefensibly?

MCGRORY: Well, Mark, typically you cut right to the point. I mean, that is the central outrage here. What Father Geoghan did at the time was truly awful. I mean, it's been said that when a priest rapes somebody, you not only attack somebody, it violates their soul.

But what's gone on as far as the cardinal goes, because even beyond that, because people feel like they have been violated in every way possible, because the cardinal knew he was putting children in harm's way by putting Geoghan in another parish, by taking him back after he had been out on leave.

HUNT: Brian, we have five seconds left. Will Cardinal Law quit?

MCGRORY: No, he's going to hang in there. He's got a lot of spirit left in him.

HUNT: Brian, thank you very much for being with us. The gang will be back with the outrage of the week.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HUNT: And now for the "Outrage of the Week." The worst agency in Washington? Used to be a tough call, but the Federal Election Commission has soared ahead of its competitors. Chairman Mason and Commissioner Smith became wholly owned subsidiaries of House Republican critics, as they lobbied to defeat the Shays-Meehan campaign reform. Then Commissioner Walt complained the disclosure requirements were dangerous because someone could find out the identifies of big contributors to vested interest groups. So these guys and this commission are a disgrace.

NOVAK: This is less an outrage than it is a tragedy. Angolan guerrilla leader Jonas Sudendi (ph) was killed in a government ambush yesterday. In the '80s, he was called a terrorist by the Soviet Union, but he really was a freedom fighter against international communism. He appeared twice on the "EVANS NOVAK" program, a leading part of Ronald Reagan's successful Cold War strategy. But after the Cold War was won, and the Angolan government abandoned communism, he did not stop fighting. It was all that he knew. Rest in peace, Jonas Sudendi (ph).

HUNT: Margaret?

CARLSON: Al, Mike Tyson was in prison for rape, was suspended for biting off an ear, nearly broke an opponent's arm, and that was after the bell, and bit Lennox Lewis in a pre-fight hassle, but D.C. wants to grant him a license to fight here. After all, they argue, boys will be boys. Only elitists could object to giving a rapist a second chance, especially one who could fill the city's coffers.

It's Tyson's taste for blood that makes officials want him, even Las Vegas refused Tyson's application. Doesn't the District have any civic pride?

HUNT: Kate?

O'BEIRNE: Well, that didn't take long. Within days of passing campaign finance reform, Democrats are plotting ways to get around it by redirecting that evil soft money to phony nonpartisan groups. It will be an outrage if George Bush signs this sham reform that violates his own principles. It gags citizens' groups, weakens the parties, has no limits on the political use of union dues, and it's unconstitutional.

President Bush should stick to the veto pledge he made during his campaign and to his oath to protect and preserve the constitution.

HUNT: Mark Shields?

SHIELDS: Al, the missionaries who went to Hawaii in search of lost souls, but found great personal wealth. James Michener once wrote, "They came to do good and did very, very well." That brings us directly to Ralph Reed, former top gun for the Christian Coalition, who became a loyal Enron lobbyist. Anybody who doubts why we need campaign finance reform in Washington, D.C. ought to listen to Ralph Reed's proposal to Enron for $380,000 contract. "In public policy it matters less who has the best arguments and more who gets heard and by whom." Ralph Reed is absolutely right. Sadly, it's not the strength of your argument or the strength of your case, it's the depth of the money in your pockets.

HUNT: This is Al Hunt saying good night for the CAPITAL GANG. If you missed any part of this program, you can catch the replay at 11:00 p.m. Eastern and again at 4:00 a.m. Eastern. That's 1:00 for you, Mark.

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