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CNN CAPITAL GANG

Is Operation Anaconda the Start of Quagmire?; What's the Impact of Bush's Decision on Steel?; Is There a Change in Approach to Middle East?

Aired March 9, 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.
ANNOUNCER: From New York, THE CAPITAL GANG.

MARK SHIELDS, HOST: Welcome to CAPITAL GANG and our annual visit to New York City. I'm Mark Shields with Al Hunt, Margaret Carlson. And at the Charlotte Coliseum in North Carolina -- Charlotte, North Carolina, that is, Robert Novak.

Here in New York, our guest is the mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg. Thank you for coming in, Mike.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, MAYOR, NEW YORK: Thank you for having me, Mark.

SHIELDS: Good to have you.

BLOOMBERG: And welcome to New York.

SHIELDS: Well, thank you so much. Operation Anaconda was launched in eastern Afghanistan against diehard al Qaeda elements with the biggest commitment of American forces and the biggest loss of American life, eight dead.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRANK WIERGINSKI, CMDR., TASK FORCE RAKASAN: We have, I think, destroyed a great deal of the enemy forces. I would classify it certainly as a mission success.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You should not be surprised that our troops will go into Afghanistan again. I have said repeatedly we're in a dangerous phase of this war. And as we learned to most of our horror the last couple of days when we lost life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHIELDS: Al Hunt, is the beginning of the end in Afghanistan or is it the start of a quagmire?

AL HUNT, "WALL STREET JOURNAL": Mark, we're going to win this particular battle for sure, but I think longer term, the situation is more worrisome. First, the Vietnam quagmire has always been a bit far-fetched, but there are really scary analogies in the sense that we now on days have more casualties than there were supposed to be enemies only a few days earlier. And that's not a good sign about our intelligence.

I think secondly that the rest of Afghanistan, outside of Kabul at least, is beginning to resemble what it looked like on 9/10, just without the Taliban. If we keep that up, it's going to be a sanctuary for future Osama bin Ladens.

And finally, I think Pakistan is a great concern there about the stability of that government and their reliabilities and ally.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak down in Charlotte, North Carolina, your own assessment?

ROBERT NOVAK, "CHICAGO SUN-TIMES": I agree mostly with Al, I'm afraid to say. You know, when the United States forces and their allies went into Kabul and Kandahar, there was a kind of a well, the war is over, another easy victory like the -- what happened in Kosovo. But in fact, the people who know Afghanistan said from the start that there was going to be tough guerrilla fighting around the country. A quagmire, no. But I think it's a cautionary note to this administration, preparing for new battlefields around the world, that they have some very major unfinished business in Afghanistan. And the president made that clear this week.

SHIELDS: Mike Bloomberg, it is sort of a cautionary note for who've been talking about a cake walk into going into Iraq and other places.

BLOOMBERG: Well, that's true, Mark, but you just have to go to downtown Manhattan to see what the terrorists have done. After I finish this program, I'm going to two funerals today of firefighters whose bodies we've found. I got two tomorrow for police officers. We have to respond to terrorism or we're just going to constantly be attacked again and again and again.

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson, is -- are you more pessimistic about ultimate military outcome?

MARGARET CARLSON, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Well, Donald Rumsfeld has been careful all along to say, you know, it's not over and there could be more fighting. And this is a tenacious enemy. And as the mayor says, anybody who would do what was done at ground zero is going to engage in fierce fighting. And that's what we had. And we just weren't -- psychologically, we weren't prepared for it.

And yet, you would know it would happen. First of all, the border's porous. There are new fighters coming back in to reinforce those people. We know the locals can't do it. That's a wake-up call. Special Forces have to be on the ground with them. And of course, it's not over when you have caves that are dug deep into the ground with an endless amount of supplies and reinforcement.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak, do you think in any way, this inhibits the larger effort against global terrorism or at least... NOVAK: I do believe that. I always have felt that the war against terrorism was in two parts. One was trying to get the cells of terrorists in Detroit or Hamburg flushed out, so that they don't kill our fellow instances. And the other instance is this global agenda of getting rid of governments that we don't like, in Iraq, and North Korea, and Iran. Goodness knows where else. Even going into Somalia.

I think this, the fact -- you know, I have to tell you, eight deaths in the measure of history is not a lot of people killed. But it does, I think, inhibit, the super hawks in the Pentagon, who want to recharge the world according to American specifications.

HUNT: I'm going to make my friend Robert do a little bit better, because we do have some disagreements on Afghanistan. I do agree that if you look at the history of Afghanistan, it is a very dangerous place to be. They've been fighting one another for -- you know, since the days of Kipling. And that may not change.

But if we don't engage in what Bob would pejoratively refer to nation building, if we don't try to help that government, then I don't think there's any question that as I said a moment ago, it's going to become a potential sanctuary for people who will, someday as Michael said, want to come back and do things again.

And if terrorists have sanctuaries, they will be able to operate freely. And that is a real danger.

CARLSON: You know, and we were told the Pakistan border was closed. It's not closed. We were told they were able to track some of this e-mail. There are only 500 places in all of Pakistan, where you can send this e-mail, in which they're keeping these cells together. Why can't we get to those?

I mean, human intelligence if totally failing. And somebody's got to point to the CIA, because you don't want to have the wasted effort, when what you -- as Bob says, you do have to get at the cells in Hamburg and wherever, but you also have to get at them in Pakistan.

BLOOMBERG: But even if you can't get at everybody, if you let terrorists operate without any fear of retaliation, there is absolutely nothing to keep them from continuing. Doesn't mean you can stop all terrorism by attacking terrorists, but you certainly can't just let it go on. That's just intolerable.

SHIELDS: Last word, Mayor Mike Bloomberg -- Michael Bloomberg. And the gang will be back with protection for American steel.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHIELDS: Welcome back. The deadline arrived for presidential action on a U.S. tariff commission recommendation for protection of the American steel industry from cheap foreign imports.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROBERT ZOELLICK, U.S. TRADE REPRESENTATIVE: The president is imposing tariff safeguards of 30 percent on major steel products. This safeguard remedy gives American steel industry some temporary relief from years of import surges and unfair trading practices.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHIELDS: President Bush defended his decision from global disapproval.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: We're a free trading nation. And in order to remain a free trade nation, we must enforce law. I decided that imports were severely affecting our industry, important industry in a negative impact.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We believe this is a political decision on the part of the Americans. There's no legal basis for it. Indeed, there is economic basis for it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHIELDS: Bob Novak in Charlotte, North Carolina, what are the adverse consequences of the president's decision, compared to its benefits?

NOVAK: Plenty of them, Mark. This is unquestionably the worst trade decision in many, many years by an American president. I think it's the worst decision by President Bush. It is a tax increase on the American people. The price of automobiles, other things, is going to go up. It's going to have all kinds of industries, which are inefficient, lining up for help at the doors, the beginning of an industrial policy.

And of course, it undermines our coalition against terrorism. And it also undermines the whole free trading regimen around the world. There will be efforts for retaliation. I think it's pretty much an unmitigated disaster.

SHIELDS: An unmitigated disaster, Mike Bloomberg?

BLOOMBERG: Well, I'm in favor of free trade. The president obviously felt the steel industry couldn't survive. I think at this point, he can't revisit that. He's made his decision. What we want to see from the president is him to tell us when the tariffs are going to come off and what he's doing to force an industry that's been in trouble for decades, to finally face facts, become modern, downsize, become more efficient, do whatever they've got to do. So the president's not -- and the next president's not faced with the same decision.

SHIELDS: But didn't the president truly have a case to make? I mean, in the sense that there have been -- I mean, they've just been flooded. BLOOMBERG: The law lets them make that decision. The law is there to get -- let him provide temporary protection to an industry. He's a free trade guy. He's said so all his life. His father, same thing. He just, obviously, felt that this industry could not survive without the intervention of government. Long term, I think that's a terrible idea. Short term, the law gives the president the authority. And we delegate to him to make that decision. So I'll ride with him, but I want to see him say something that he's going to force the industry to bite the bullet, so we're not always in the same situation.

SHIELDS: Al Hunt, the same people are talking about intervention in the economy, and blasting the president for it right now. We're cheering with the aid to airlines. Wasn't that intervention in the economy?

HUNT: Yes, sure it was. But I do agree with Robert that this was a dreadful decision. Mike, I think the problem is that a 30 percent tariff, rather than force those kind of actions, is much more likely to defer any sort of actions that those companies have to take.

And it is a huge tax increase. And Mark, he did it -- there actually was one where he did it for 46 reasons. It's the electoral votes in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio in the 2004 election. And boy, thank goodness we got rid of that President Bill Clinton, who always put politics ahead of principle.

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson?

CARLSON: Yes, I mean, Mike, Bush is not going to make them bite the bullet until after the election, because it's not economically -- it's electoral relief that he was going for with his plan. And truly, I would like to help the steel workers, but this is going to cause so many other dislocations, that's simply not going to happen. And the retaliation has begun. Suddenly, our chicken is too unhealthy to eat. So the Russians aren't going to buy it. Textiles and citrus will be next. The world trade talks are going to break down. And it's a terrible inconsistency on the part of the president. I don't know how he explains it.

SHIELDS: Let me try and explain the president and defend the president. The president ran on this. And the president was very up front about it. I mean, it helped him, no question, it helped him carry West Virginia against Al Gore. And at the same time, it probably made him more competitive in Pennsylvania.

But when a politician runs on promise, and then keeps it, I don't think we ought to be surprised or shocked or really critical. I think we ought to commend him. He kept his word. If somebody changed his word...

CARLSON: But what about free trade?

SHIELDS: ...if a politician changed his word on choice, you know, once elected, they'd say, "Oh my God, this terrible harlot, this moral reprobate." And George Bush... CARLSON: What about his belief in free trade? How do you square it like that?

SHIELDS: But he was very candid during the campaign that the steel workers -- he went to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and said they've suffered and I'm not going to let this -- so that the American steel industry's been punished by cheap foreign imports since the Asian financial crisis of 1998, especially.

NOVAK: Mark?

SHIELDS: Go ahead, Bob.

NOVAK: Let me say that this was a case where the president disregarded the advice of his economic advisers. His economic advisers were all against this. They thought it was a disastrous decision. He took the advice of his political advisers. I think they were wrong.

It's very interesting to me that there's a lot of cheers coming up from the steelworkers. They will not be for President Bush for re- election, the steel workers union. They're right in the laps of the Democratic Party. A lot of Democrats praising it. Tom Daschle, they're not going to be for George Bush. And I guarantee you that George W. Bush didn't carry West Virginia because of the promise to Reardon (ph). They didn't like Al Gore on guns and many other social issues.

SHIELDS: Bob, all I can say in conclusion is that sometimes the economy is too important to be left to economic advisers.

Next on CAPITAL GANG, the Middle East crisis deepens.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHIELDS: Welcome back. Israeli-Palestinian conflict escalated with Israeli forces attacking the Gaza Strip, following rockets fired by Palestinians into an Israeli town and last weekend's terrorist attacks.

Secretary of State Colin Powell is blaming both sides, included unusual criticism of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: If you declare war against the Palestinians and think that you can solve the problem by seeing how many Palestinians can be killed, I don't know that that leads us anywhere.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHIELDS: The president again dispatched special envoy General Anthony Zinni on a peacekeeping mission to the Middle East. Mr. Bush supported Secretary Powell's approach by urging Prime Minister Sharon to show restraint. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: I hope that my friend, Prime Minister Sharon, agrees with that assessment. I think he does. I think he recognizes that you can't achieve peace by allowing violence to escalate or causing violence to escalate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson, is President Bush signalling a major change in his approach towards Israel?

CARLSON: Yes. Secretary Powell had prevailed. No matter how bad things are in the Middle East, they get better when we intervene. And it seems to be the only way.

Currently, they're pursuing peace through pain. And it's not going to work. It -- we can see it deteriorating day by day.

Anthony Zinni is going back. And he has to be put under house arrest. He left when it got tough going last time. He's got to be forced to stay and bring these people there. What this inadvertently does is kind of save Sharon, because he was vulnerable from his right and his left, without America getting in there, even though America's folded him properly for his behavior. It kind of saves him to negotiate, because otherwise, he was going to be -- he was going to lose control of the government.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak in Charlotte, the situation here is changing. Is George Bush now returning to a more Bill Clinton type approach of active America involvement in the peace process?

NOVAK: I think that there's always going to have to U.S. involvement. I like to defend General Zinni from Margaret that General Zinni is a Marine general. I don't think he's afraid of anything. He was called back. He was summoned back. He didn't just say, "Gee, things are getting hot, I'm going back to Washington."

You know, when Prime Minister Sharon was elected, when General Sharon was elected Prime Minister of Israel, everybody who knows the slightest thing about the Middle East knew it was a disaster. It's been a worse disaster than anybody thought. I'm not defending Arafat on the Palestinian side, but Sharon's policy just leads to death. And now he has said this past week, he's going to negotiate.

Big deal. At the same time, he has accelerating and escalating Israeli military operations. I think there is a change in tone in Washington, but they're going to have to lean on Sharon harder, so they get down to the peace table and away from the battle front.

SHIELDS: Mike Bloomberg, you've recently been to the Middle East. And are George Bush and Colin Powell on the right track now?

BLOOMBERG: Well, I've always had a problem with America imposing its solution on the Middle East. I think America's place is to be an honest broker. And there's no question that we should support Israel when push comes to shove. Israel is a symbol, as much as America is of our right to practice a religion and say what you want and everything we hold dear.

But when we're hawks, it's easy to be a hawk. It's not our sons and daughters going out and fighting everyday in the Middle East. It's easy to be a dove, because it's not our families going out everyday, getting blown up on busses in the streets and that sort of thing.

So I've always been reticent when America tries to set policy for Israel. I think there's no question they are being attacked by terrorists. We've got to support. What you got to remember is that Israel is suffering more proportionally from this round of terrorism than America did at the World Trade Center site.

SHIELDS: Seventy-five percent of the casualties and deaths have been borne by the Palestinians.

BLOOMBERG: Well, but that's just a fact of if you go and blow up one of my family, I'm going to go and try to blow up yours, to stop you from doing it again. And if your family is easier to get, I think that's just a logistical thing that the Israelis clearly have a lot more modern weapons. And when they attack, they do more damage. But I don't think there's any question about what is instigating the terrorism.

Yes, they should sit down and talk. I'm the first one to think that you dialogue and you open up and you work together. But if you want to force the issue by starting terrorism, I think that we should strike back, we being the Israelis in this case. We, being America in the case of the World Trade Center site.

SHIELDS: Al Hunt?

HUNT: Well, this administration's probably patterned of all of his predecessors. You say, "I don't want to get in the Middle East, because it's a morass." It is. There's only one thing worse, not getting involved in the Middle East. And so, I don't really criticize them because that's what Clinton and everybody else has done, too.

And what they -- I think they now have realized is that it's all -- it's connected to almost every other priority we have. You can't divorce what's going on there from the coalition war against terrorism. You can't divorce what's going on there from whatever we may or may not do in Iraq. You can't even divorce what's going on there to India, Pakistan problem. Israel's a big ally of India.

So I think Colin Powell has won this battle for now. I think he -- and I think bringing his considerable talents and charm to that is just essential at this stage.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak, full recognition for Israel from the entire Arab world, secure borders, if Israel withdraws from the occupied territories. Doesn't that make sense as a plan?

NOVAK: It really always has made sense. There are other things that would have to be settled: the status of Jerusalem and the return of Palestinians. Not easy problems, but my goodness, Mark, you and I know what's going on. There are friends of Sharon in both parties, Republican and Democratic, in the Pentagon, in the White House, who says all we needed is a tough guy in the Israeli government to knock the hell out of these Palestinians, these terrorists. And that just has not worked. And I think George W. Bush implicitly is now agreeing with that.

SHIELDS: Is the peace plan in trouble because it came from Prince Abdullah? I mean, it does seem reasonable to the outside observer.

BLOOMBERG: Well, it's reasonable to everybody, except the Israelis. What you got to understand is there are two groups, both who think God gave them the same piece of land, neither of which is going to rest if they don't have it. And there's no easy solution. Everybody goes to the Middle East, says oh, all I got to do is get them to the table and they'll work it out. I don't think that's the case. I do think you have to stop the terrorism before you can really have any meaningful dialogue.

SHIELDS: Thank you. Last word, Mike Bloomberg. The gang will be back with THE CAPITAL GANG classic, looking at Michael Bloomberg just one year ago.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHIELDS: Welcome back. In our visit to New York City a year ago, Michael Bloomberg, not yet an officially announced candidate for mayor, provided our "Newsmaker" interview. Here's what we had to say about him then.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SHIELDS: Al Hunt, would political rookie Mike Bloomberg have a chance against an experienced Democratic candidate and his overwhelmingly Democratic New York City?

HUNT: Mark, it's uphill. New York City politics is a mine field. And the experience of wealthy men running for political office in recent years has not been very encouraging. But if anybody's overcome it, it's Michael Bloomberg.

NOVAK: I would think that my old friend and former colleague on "CROSSFIRE," Mark Green, the public advocate, who is the leading Democratic candidate for mayor, is really not a household word in New York. He's not a major figure. I think he ought to be scared to death of Bloomberg.

CARLSON: I think with Bloomberg is that you get Giuliani's management, bringing the city back to financial viability, and getting rid of this squeegy (ph) man, and doing things that improve the quality of life.

But you won't have the Diallo -- the police shootings that then Giuliani would defend, you know, mindlessly. NOVAK: Well, I learned that Mark -- that Mike Bloomberg was going to run as a Republican. I always thought he was a liberal Democrat. And I think he thinks like a liberal Democrat.

HUNT: He's very blunt, says what the thinks. I think it's very hard to do in New York City politics.

CARLSON: In New York, wealth may not be as big a problem. Next door in New Jersey, remember, Jon Corzine, the former chairman of Goldman Sachs just won.

SHIELDS: I tell you this, New Jersey looks like Sunnybrook Farms to politics, compared to New York City.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SHIELDS: Mike Bloomberg, what do think, candidly, of our assessment then of your chances?

BLOOMBERG: Well, those of you that thought I was a synch to get re-elected were brilliant, insightful, and should be continued on this show, I think.

SHIELDS: Anything you want to add, Margaret to your otherwise -- I mean, you put him on Mount Rushmore in that damn segment?

CARLSON: Well, and now he's the mayor of Sunnybrook Farm. So I'm all for it.

HUNT: That's right. Can you imagine what an impressive group we are?

SHIELDS: I know. Bob Novak?

NOVAK: I was stunned how prescient I was in saying that Mark Green would have trouble against Mayor Bloomberg. And I was stunned how insightful I was in saying he thinks like a liberal Democrat. So I stand on my assessment.

HUNT: And Bob, that's why he got elected.

SHIELDS: And Bob, I tell you this, I think Mark Green felt the same way about you. Thanks for being with us, Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

We'll be back with the second half of THE CAPITAL GANG, our "Newsmaker" interview with Walter Cronkite. "Beyond the Beltway" looks the Democratic battle to run for governor of New York with Joel Siegel of "The New York Daily News," and our "Outrage of the Week." That's all after the latest news, following these messages.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: From New York, THE CAPITAL GANG.

SHIELDS: Welcome back to the second half of CAPITAL GANG. In New York City, I'm Mark Shields with Al Hunt and Margaret Carlson. At the Charlotte Coliseum in Charlotte, North Carolina, Robert D. Novak. Our "Newsmaker of the Week" is Walter Cronkite.

Walter Cronkite, age 85. Residence: New York City. United Press reporter for 11 years, the last four years as a combat correspondent, covering the Normandy invasions. Joined CBS News in 1950, anchoring political coverage of elections from 1952 to 1980. Began 19 years as anchor of CBS Evening News in 1962.

In 1999, published his autobiography, "A Reporter's Life." Yesterday, Al Hunt sat down with Walter Cronkite in New York City.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HUNT: We've seen ferocious fighting in eastern Afghanistan this week. Courageous correspondents risking their lives. Our military leadership is determined to control access and information. Are Americans getting an accurate picture of what's going on in this war, Walter Cronkite?

WALTER CRONKITE, FMR. CBS NEWS ANCHOR: We don't know whether we are or not, Al, because we don't have our own correspondents. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and to the government in any way. There's no excuse for them not being there. And unless we cover them in action, we don't know how they're performing in action. We can't really trust the military. I hate to suggest we can't trust them, but on the other hand, they have their own fish to fry. So they obviously would want the best possible picture of what they're doing.

HUNT: If you were Don Rumsfeld, wouldn't you look and say this controlling the news works? It worked in the Persian Gulf War. It worked for the Brits in the Faulklands. It's working in Afghanistan. What incentives or pressures can there be on government to change this?

CRONKITE: Well, the newspapers and the broadcasters aren't doing nearly enough to put on that pressure. They're letting the Pentagon get by with it. We should be screaming to high heaven every day that we're not recovering this news adequately for the American people to be fully informed.

These are our boys and our girls, our war, if you please. We're entitled to -- not only entitled to know, we have a duty to know what they're doing in our name.

HUNT: You were very laudatory of television's coverage after September the 11. Looking now six months later, was that -- did that mark a seminal change or are we going back to the old pre 9/11 journalistic values of television?

CRONKITE: Oh, I think we're pretty well back to pre 9/11. 9/11, of course, was such an extraordinary event, that I would have expected extraordinary coverage efforts and extraordinary results, which we've gotten. Those reporters who were on the air on September 11 itself had one of the worst jobs that anybody could possibly have. And that's -- they were seeing the same pictures that the rest of the public's seen. They had no inside information whatsoever, no information about what had really happened. HUNT: The very interesting new book by "The Washington Post," Len Downing and Bob Kaiser, "The News about the News," which argues that the central problem in journalism today is one of ownership. And when it comes to television, they say as long as these big conglomerates own TV networks, that short term profits always are going to trump news values.

CRONKITE: No doubt about that. But if you could say the same thing about newspapers.

HUNT: Right.

CRONKITE: Unfortunately, the newspapers feel that they've got to show the same quarterly dividends that the hair net factory does. And that shouldn't be. They're cutting back their editorial budgets far too severely.

HUNT: Did Ted Koppel/ABC News controversy, your reaction?

CRONKITE: It's most unfortunate. That has been a very important broadcast. Ted's done that beautifully. We do not have enough for that kind of serious look at the news on the air. I am disappointed that the networks, after all the years we tried to get on prime-time with news oriented broadcasting, finally got -- found that they produced news cheaper than they could produce entertainment. So they began putting the magazine shows on the air. All three of the major broadcast networks now have the magazine shows.

The news -- the 6:30 p.m. show programming, evening news, is so compressed, it has to be compressed because they've only got about 20 minutes anyway to cover the world. That should be a headline service.

Then if they went to those night -- those prime-time shows and expanded on those reports, television would be discharging its responsibility to the American public, which is not today.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SHIELDS: Al Hunt, why is Walter Cronkite (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that we're not getting a full, accurate and complete picture of what's going on in Afghanistan through the press? Why is that not shared by the American people? Or is it not shared?

HUNT: No, it's not, never has been, as long as things are going reasonably well. But on that issue, Walter Cronkite is right. He's always right about Ted Koppel. And Mark, more than two decades after his retirement and at age 85, Walter Cronkite remains one of the great shining lights of American journalism.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak, your own assessment?

NOVAK: I just find that I can find nobody outside out business who is interested in this issue. I think they should be -- I agree with Mr. Cronkite 100 percent. I think this is not a news story. Most wars are very, very poorly covered. War one was the worst, where there was a bloodbath that they kept the press from reporting, and still is reflected in adequate history books.

But I really believe that this is a real problem for the American people, but I guarantee you, the United States government went to war in Vietnam. It does not want reporters walking around, telling the truth about the messy business of war. And I think they are backed by the American people, even if the war news turns bad.

SHIELDS: Margaret, Walter Cronkite chided the press as well. He said we have a duty when it's typically entitled to the information about the war. The press has a duty to demand access to the coverage of this war.

CARLSON: The press seems to be a bit cowed by the Pentagon, more than in Walter Cronkite's day. But it's also the publishers of the newspaper aren't sending people. Remember, everybody's cut back. There isn't the numbers there to even have a press covering this war. It's not happening.

Seeing the avuncular Walter Cronkite there makes me think if he were still in place, that Michael Eisner at Disney, there would not be somebody in Michael Eisner's shop calling "NIGHTLINE" irrelevant, that in Walter Cronkite's day, news was king.

SHIELDS: Last word, Margaret Carlson. Goofy and Minnie are very distressed, in fact, on that.

Next on CAPITAL GANG, "Beyond the Beltway" looks at the governor's race in New York, with "New York Daily News" political reporter, Joel Siegel.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHIELDS: Welcome back. "Beyond the Beltway" looks at the race for governor of New York. Republican Governor George Pataki is favored to win a third term in heavily Democratic New York. Two Democrats are engaged in a fierce battle for the right to run against Governor Pataki -- former Housing Secretary Andrew Cuomo and state Comptroller Carl McHall. A new statewide poll Thursday, taken by Zogby International, shows a very close race, 42 percent for Cuomo, 38 percent for McHall.

Joining us now is Joel Siegel, senior political correspondent of "The New York Daily News." Thanks for coming in, Joel.

JOEL SIEGEL, "NEW YORK DAILY NEWS": Thank you for having me.

SHIELDS: Joel, as the long campaign, the hard campaign to the -- between these two Democratic candidates play into the Republican's hands for November?

SIEGEL: Well, the Republican Party thinks so. This week on their web site, the New York Republican party, they put up a section saying, "Diss, d-i-s-s, functional Democrats." They clearly think the antagonism, the back and forth between Carl McHall and Andrew Cuomo helps them. In 1998, we saw a very spirited Democratic primary between Chuck Schumer, Jerry Ferraro, and Mark Green. And that energized the Democratic party. And they went on to victory. Chuck Schumer beat Al D'Amato.

George Pataki is more popular now than D'Amato. There are different dynamics at work. And I think the danger for the Democrats if you have a white candidate, Andrew Cuomo, and a black candidate, Carl McHall. And if Andrew wins, there will be -- Carl McHall's natural base of supporters will be naturally disappointed. And many of them will stay home.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak, down in Charlotte, North Carolina, your take on the New York governor's race?

NOVAK: Joel, it just seems to be strange that in this great Democratic bastion of New York, where presidential candidates wins so easily and has two United States senators, including Hillary Clinton, that they end up with these two people. There has never been an African-American elected governor or U.S. senator from New York. And Andrew Cuomo, when he was in Washington in the Clinton cabinet, was maybe the most disliked person in town. Nobody could stand him. Is this the best the Democratic party can do against Governor Pataki?

SIEGEL: Well, I think the Democrats problem is -- are that if either of them separately was the candidate, it wouldn't be the problem that you have with both of them running together. Carl McHall has a natural constituency. The fact that he has a chance to be the first African-American governor in New York, a rarity in the country, that would energize a lot of people.

Andrew Cuomo, he's a fresh face, so to speak. He's younger. He's advocating -- he's represents a generational change in New York politics. That could be an effective argument.

I think the problem is the two of them going together. They could cancel each other out and really upset different elements of the Democratic party. And that'll hurt the party in November.

SHIELDS: Let me go to Margaret Carlson. Just pointed out to Bob Novak that before Carl McHall, there'd never been an African-American controller in New York state.

NOVAK: Right.

SHIELDS: I mean, there is a first, each time, Bob. Margaret Carlson?

CARLSON: And he's quite an appealing candidate. New York is obviously full of surprises because we just had the mayor here. And anyone. You can't find anybody who didn't vote for him now.

And 9/11 played into that. Is there any -- is there a 9/11 factor involved in this race, other than I guess, Pataki has some shine on him leftover from Giuliani? SIEGEL: Well, something always happens in New York. When there are mayoral races, there are, you know, police shootings that upset certain segments of the population. I don't think we can, you know, say this election is over by any means.

First of all in New York has become increasingly Democratic. There are 600,000 or 700,000 more Democrats now than when George Pataki took office. And if you look at the way Pataki is campaigning, very aggressively, very hard. He's concerned about the number of Democrats in the state. And a third term is always hard. The second term is easier. The third term is hard. He's aware of that. And he is campaigning harder than I've ever seen him campaign. And we're still seven, eight months away from the election. So even the Pataki people think this election is not in the bag.

SHIELDS: Al Hunt?

HUNT: Joel, I want to quickly say that Bob Novak's wrong when he said that no one in Washington liked Andrew Cuomo. I know Kerry Kennedy Cuomo personally, and she certainly liked him.

Let me ask you this, though, about this race. Are there any real issues separating them? Is there any ideological divide or issue divide between Cuomo and McHall?

SIEGEL: Not really. I think this is going to come down to who runs a better campaign. You can make arguments pro and con for both of these guys. They are smart politicians. They've been around a while. Nobody's more aggressive and voracious in the political arena than Andrew Cuomo. I think it's just going to come down to who runs a better campaign and energizes certain segments of the electorate.

CARLSON: Is there any Cuomo grudge leftover, that's going to affect Andrew?

SIEGEL: You mean, upstate New Yorkers who...

CARLSON: From the dad.

SIEGEL: I think there's a lingering animosity, but Mario Cuomo's numbers actually are pretty popular now. He's got about a 60 percent approval rating. So I think some of that residue is gone.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak?

NOVAK: I would like to ask you, Joel, what -- how has the city taken to Andrew Cuomo? I mean, the state taken to him? I am curious, just on a personality basis, is that pushing personality a little bit obnoxious, is that just -- is that something New Yorkers like or do you think...

CARLSON: Say what you think, Bob.

NOVAK: Or is that something that's running against him?

SIEGEL: You know, this campaign is still being waged right now, before the insiders. They have not gone on the air. They are not doing the general interest kind of events. So we really don't have that gauge.

There are some polls that show Andrew's negatives, though, are higher than perhaps he would like. But you know, the -- Al, you touched on an interesting thing, Kerry Kennedy Cuomo. This could be Andrew -- she's could be Andrew's hidden asset. She's a great speaker. She brings in the Kennedy family mystique.

And together, the two of them, I think, could help make Andrew's argument that New York needs a generational change in politics, that he's a fresh face, even though his name has been around a while.

HUNT: And of course, Joel, Robert Novak is shocked by anybody whose confrontational and abrasive?

SHIELDS: We have about 30 seconds. And the question is, is there any nostalgia? George W. Bush benefited in 2000 for a certain nostalgia for his father, very positive memories from 1992.

SIEGEL: Right.

SHIELDS: Is there any nostalgia for Mario Cuomo?

SIEGEL: I think Mario Cuomo's a respected figure. The polls show that, but he had three terms. That's a long time. And by the end, New York has felt somewhat exhausted by that. And I don't think there's respect for him, but I don't think there's a yearning to bring back Mario Cuomo.

SHIELDS: Joel Siegel, I thank you for being with us. I just point out that, in defense of Andrew Cuomo, that being called aggressive and obnoxious by Bob Novak's like being called ugly by a frog.

The gang will be back for the outrage of the week.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHIELDS: And now for the "Outrage of the Week." Representative Tom Davis, Virginia Republican, is an able member of Congress and one of the city's most effective politicians. I like Tom Davis. But as we know, good men can do bad things, which is exactly what Tom Davis recently did.

After Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle asked necessary and reasonable questions about the administration's widening global expansion of the war against terrorism, Tom Davis unfairly accused Daschle of "giving aid and comfort to our enemies." That was indefensible and irresponsible and totally out of character for Tom Davis.

Bob Novak.

NOVAK: The political establishment, and I'm afraid, my colleagues on CAPITAL GANG, hate term limits. The people love them. The people of California, this week, by a decisive three to two margin, rejected a proposition that would have weakened the state's very strong law, which limits terms of public officials. That's the good news.

The outrage is that big labor and big business spent $10 million in an unsuccessful attempt to pass this, outspending proponents 11 to one. They just don't want new faces and new ideas in government.

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson.

CARLSON: I keep waiting for Bob to shoot a hoop there. Snowmobiles have turned Yellowstone, the crown jewel of the park system, into a smog-filled enclave, where park employees have to wear gas masks. Now President Bush is caving into the snowmobile industry and likely to make a bad situation worse.

He's put a hold on the phase-out of snowmobiles in the national parks, despite the fact that only 600 of the 130,000 miles of trails are actually in the parks. Improving the national parks makes up Bush's entire environmental policy. Caving into a tiny special interest is hardly the way to go.

SHIELDS: Al Hunt.

HUNT: Mark, it's been a bad time for the Harvard Business School. Not only did its just resigned business review editor have a relationship with Jack Welch, while writing about him, but we learned that the magazine allowed subjects to edit and change pieces written about them. This follows revelations that one of the school's prized Baker scholars was Jeffrey Skilling, the sleazy former Enron CEO. The Harvard business school better very quickly activate that ethics course endowment it got a few years ago.

SHIELDS: This is Mark Shields saying good night for THE CAPITAL GANG. If you missed any part of this program, you can do something about it. You can catch the replay at 11:00 p.m. Eastern and again at 4:00 a.m. Eastern.

Coming up next, "CNN PRESENTS: The Unfinished War."

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