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How Catholics View Sex Scandal: After Gains in Hollywood, How do African-Americans Stand Politically?; White House Tells Israeli Government to Let Arafat Travel

Aired March 25, 2002 - 16:00   ET


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Judy Woodruff in Washington. Now that African-Americans have made dramatic new gains in Hollywood, we'll discuss where they stand politically.

BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Bruce Morton in Washington, with new poll numbers on how Catholics view the sexual abuse scandal engulfing their church.

JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I'm John King with the latest from inside the White House on efforts to broker an Israeli-Palestinian cease-fire, and to get Yasser Arafat to the Arab summit.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm Bill Schneider in Los Angeles with the winners of the other awards handed out this weekend, for the best political ads.


: Thank you for joining us. We begin with American Catholics, struggling with the sense of disappointment in the church, even as they celebrate the holiest week in Christianity. Our new survey gauges Catholic reaction to the recent wave of child molestation charges that had been leveled against priests. Our national correspondent, Bruce Morton, has the results.


MORTON (voice-over): American Catholics are concerned about their children and concerned about their priests. Asked, do you think sexual abuse in young people by priests is a widespread problem in the United States, a majority of the Catholics we polled, 55 percent, said yes, it is. Not very different from when we asked the same question back in 1993.

And Catholics are not impressed with how their church is handling the problem. Seventy-two percent of them say the church has done a bad job dealing with the problem. Just over half said the church was doing a bad job back in 1993.

And the Catholics we polled think they know what the church is doing wrong. Three-quarters say it's more concerned with protecting its own image than with solving the problem of sexual abuse.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They've been hiding from it. They've been ignoring the fact that it's been happening. So now that it's coming out in all these stories across the country, they're finally starting to face up to the fact that something is going on and they need to make changes.

MORTON: Catholics don't think this is just their church's problem. Forty-three percent think sexual abuse of the young among priests is lower than among the general population. Another 40 percent say it's about the same.

Forgiveness may be a Christian virtue, but asked if a priest had sexually abused young people but had undergone rehabilitation, would you take him back as your perish priest, 74 percent said no. Should priests be allowed to marry and continue as priests? Three-quarters of the Catholics we polled said yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In this day and age, for a priest to be celibate, is insane.

MORTON: Does requiring celibacy increase the likelihood priests will abuse young people? Forty percent said yes, but more, 46 percent, say it makes no difference.

Will the problem change the way U.S. Catholics act? Some. About a quarter said they'd be less likely to give money to the church. One in five would be less likely to go to mass. A troubled church. Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.


WOODRUFF: And the troubles within the church were on display during Catholic services yesterday, among parishioners and even in some pulpits.


(voice-over): As holy week begins, honoring Christ's final march into Jerusalem, the American Catholic hierarchy is preparing the flock for its own kind of suffering.

EDWARD EGAN, CARDINAL: I have taken steps to see that there is no more of this. This evil will be stamped out with all the fervor of the Lord and the Lord's people.

WOODRUFF: In his Palm Sunday homily, New York Cardinal Edward Egan reflected the deep disquiet among the grassroots Catholic laity and clergy, about the church's handling of sex abuse cases. And even as he draws a firm line, Cardinal Egan is himself facing questions of whether he withheld information about sexual misconduct of some of his priests, while bishop of Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Here in Washington, an associate pastor in his Sunday homily called for Boston's Cardinal Bernard Law to resign. Law has been accused of shielding pedophile priests. Quote: "Cardinal law is not above the law," said the Reverend Percival D'Silva. "He should have the common sense and even the guts to say, 'I resign,'" end quote. D'Silva received a standing ovation.

With anger rising up, Catholic headers are apologizing and promising that there will be no more cover-ups.

BISHOP JOSEPH GALANTE, DALLAS, TEXAS: I have no problems with making those reports immediately as an allegation is presented, and letting the police, whose job it is, to investigate those things, let them do their work.

WOODRUFF: But simply cooperating with the law may no longer be enough.

WILLIAM BENNETT, EMPOWER AMERICA: This thing is the biggest crisis in the church in 30 years, probably. And you will see, you will see the church shaken in the next few months and years. I think the debate is engaged, between the traditionalists and those who want the church to give up things, such as celibacy. And the rafters are going to shake.


WOODRUFF: The current upheaval in the Catholic Church raises questions, particularly here in Washington, about possible political ramifications. Many politicians, including President Bush, actively court Catholic voters.

Our Bill Schneider is with us now. Bill, first of all, is there a Catholic vote anymore?

SCHNEIDER: No, there's not. There used to be. Fifty years ago, Catholics voted reliably Democratic. And in fact, nearly 80 percent voted for one of their own, John F. Kennedy, back in 1960. By the 1980s, however, the Catholic vote had swung Republican. Both Ronald Reagan and the elder George Bush carried Catholic voters.

In the '90s, Catholic voters went back to the Democratic Party. They voted for Bill Clinton, twice. And in 2000, well, let's take a look. Nearly an even split in 2000, between Al Gore and George W. Bush. You can see here, Gore with a slight edge.

Catholic voters are a swing vote. At a quarter of the electorate, they represent the largest bloc of swing voters in the country.

WOODRUFF: Bill, what you're saying raises the question, do they even vote as a bloc?

SCHNEIDER: No, actually, they're split. The split is between observant and nonobservant Catholics. And that split is reflected in their politics. Just like with Protestant voters, the more religious you are, the more Republican you are.

For instance, take the 2000 vote. Regular Catholic churchgoers were in the Bush camp, 53 to 44. Nonobservant Catholics went for Al Gore, 54 to 43. Now, President Bush has clearly cast his lot with the Catholic Church. It's part of his strategy for recapturing the Catholic vote.

On March 13th, the president said -- quote -- "I'm confident the church will clean up its business and do what is right. I trust the leadership of the church." But you know, a lot of Catholics don't. The church risks losing them, and so does President Bush -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Bill Schneider, thanks very much.

Coming up next, the race from Hollywood to Washington. Coming up, an unprecedented night at the Oscars for African-Americans. But how are blacks faring in the political world? We'll talk with author, Ellis Cose.

Was President Bush's trip to Latin America driven by domestic politics? We'll get the "Inside Buzz."

And, will her role in the Florida recount help her win a seat in Congress? We'll ask Carol Roberts about politics, then and now.


WOODRUFF: "On the Record" this Monday, race in America. Many people all over the world are talking about and celebrating the color barriers broken during the Academy Awards last night. After becoming the first African-American to win a best actress award, Halle Berry says she hopes people will start judging black actors by their work, and not their skin.

Denzel Washington took home the best actor prize, following in the footsteps of Sidney Poitier, who until last night, was the only black actor to have won an Oscar for a lead role.

New doors may be opening to African-Americans in Hollywood, but is that equally true in the real world, or in the political sphere? I spoke recently with author Ellis Cose about race and politics.


(voice-over): I met Cose here in Washington, on "U" Street, scene of the '60s riots and more recently, an impressive revitalization. Just past the restored Lincoln Theater, we sat down in the back room of Ben's Chili Bowl to talk about Cose's new book, titled "The Envy of the World."

ELLIS COSE, AUTHOR, "THE ENVY OF THE WORLD": The title and substance is ironic. It comes from Toni Morrison's "Sula." And at a point where the title character turns to a guy who is complaining about his modern life, and basically says, "Hey, white men envy you, white women chase you, black women drive themselves crazy trying to hold on to you. You really are the envy of the world."

And she doesn't mean it quite seriously, but there is some truth to that. I think in many ways we are envied. But in terms of life opportunities, I don't think we're envied at all. And if you look at the number of black men who are in prison, the number of black men who are unemployed, the number of black men who basically are having a hard time getting a toehold into the American dream. And then we are in fairly dire straits, as a group.

WOODRUFF: What about the leadership in the African-American community? To what extent is that leadership responsible? Look at a Jesse Jackson, or a Louis Farrakhan or a Charlie Rangel in New York, or...

COSE: Yes, Al Sharpton, what have you. All those people are radically different people. And I think they see their missions in very different ways. And certainly, Farrakhan sees himself as a religious leader over a particular sect. Maybe he aspires to be a general black leader, but I don't think even most black folks who subscribe to the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of black leadership see him as a generalized black leader.

But they each have their function and they each have their things that we are focussing on. But Jesse Jackson, for instance, is not going to make much of a dent, in the fact that we're now sending in the neighborhood of 28 percent of black men to jail at some point in their lives.

WOODRUFF: You place the emphasis on individual responsibility. But is there any significant role for the political community in these issues that you're addressing?

COSE: I think this is a significant role for the political community in virtually all the issues, certainly the big issues. We talk about education and why most inner-city school systems don't seem to be able to do a decent job of educating children. There's a clear role for politicians and for the policy community in general to play in that.

If we talk about the decisions that increase sentences and that increase the possibility of people going to jail for relatively minor drug infractions and other nonviolent crime, clearly there is a role for politicians to play and for the policy community to play. And I think there's a balance here.

And what I'm essentially saying is that no side, no sector, basically, should consider itself off the hook.

WOODRUFF: African-Americans have traditionally cast their political lot with the Democratic Party. A vast majority, they vote Democratic.

COSE: Right.

WOODRUFF: Has that played a role in any of this, do you think?

COSE: Well, I think it's clearly played a role in the ability of politicians, both Democrat and Republican, to take the black vote for granted, to a certain extent. The Democrats sort of assume they're going to get it. Republicans sort of assume that they won't. It's interesting the way things are playing out now, with Bush's popularity ratings as high as they are, including among blacks. I guess there is some sentiment in the White House among the Republican council that perhaps they can get a larger share of the black vote. I'm not sure that's going to happen.

And I think that unless the Republicans offer a large number of black voters something that black voters see as useful, valuable, as progressive, in the larger sense of the word, it's going to be very difficult for Republicans to capitalize on that.

WOODRUFF: So, and yet George Bush describes himself as a compassionate conservative. Has that come across that way, do you think?

COSE: Well, he comes across as a nice guy, I think, to most people. But he also comes across as a guy who has a set of rather conservative policies , and who's appointed an extremely conservative attorney general. And that's an area that black voters are going to be terribly concerned about, because that has to do with the enforcement of civil rights and the enforcement of voting rights.

And I think the very fact that his ratings, President Bush's ratings, are so high now among black Americans means that probably most black Americans think he's a fairly effective leader in terms of this wartime footing that we find ourselves on. And also, I think he seems to come across as a fairly nice guy.

But that doesn't necessarily mean he's going to get lots and lots of votes. He got, I guess roughly 8 percent so, the last time around. Just because he's an incumbent, he's likely to get somewhat more next time around. But the fact that he calls himself compassionate doesn't necessarily mean that he's going to get a whole lot of empathy and support.


WOODRUFF: We've been hearing about African-Americans and how they vote. Coming up later on INSIDE POLITICS, a Republican pollster on the president and Hispanics.

But up next, the "Newscycle," and the efforts by family members to hear the cockpit recorder from United flight 93.


WOODRUFF: A quick update on the INSIDE POLITICS "Newscycle." Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says U.S. forces soon will begin training an Afghan army to replace the warlords who have ruled Afghanistan for generations. Rumsfeld said officers will be trained in ten-week cycles over the next 18 months.

Families of those killed in the September 11th crash of United flight 93 will be allowed to listen to the plane's cockpit voice recorder. A number of family members have requested permission to listen to the tape. Flight 93 crashed in rural Pennsylvania after passengers apparently tried retake control of the hijacked plane.

U.S. park police say they found -- quote -- "apparent traces of marijuana and cocaine" inside a car belonging to former D.C. mayor, Marion Barry. Barry's car was searched Thursday night after police were called to check a suspicious vehicle in a no-parking zone. Police say the amount of drugs detected in the car was too small to support prosecution. Barry has denied the allegations.

And with me now to discuss some of this day's top stories, columnist Carl Jeffers is in Seattle. And here in Washington, Genevieve Wood of the Family Research Council. First of all, the poll that Bill Schneider talked about a little earlier on the program among Catholics. A large majority of them, over 2/3, say they believe the church has done a poor job of handling the recent spate of allegations.

Genevieve, to you first. Is the leadership of the Catholic Church doing enough right now to deal with this whole business?

GENEVIEVE WOOD, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: Well, Judy, I'm going to say first of all, I'm not Catholic and I think this is up to Catholics in the church and to the priests, and all the way up to the pope, to deal with that. But I think what we really have to look at here is an issue even beyond the Catholic Church, which is the culture at large. When you look at these particular cases that have come forward, what have been involved are homosexuals that have been involved with the pedophilia cases, in most cases.

And I think that we need to realize, to a great extent, that's what is going on here behind the scenes of the churches. They haven't been willing to take a very firm stand publicly. And they allow people in the priesthood who are practicing homosexuals, and that shouldn't be the case.

WOODRUFF: Carl Jeffers?

CARL JEFFERS, COLUMNIST: First of all -- and I guess I should also add that I'm Catholic, as well. But I'm certainly not going to sit here and condemn the Catholic Church itself, for the simple reason that any sane person who really looks at this issue would understand that, for the last 30, 40 years, we clearly know why the Catholic Church has not been more aggressive in trying to make these issues public. And we certainly understand why the Catholic Church would have tried to maintain control internally of how these issues are dealt with.

WOODRUFF: And why is that?

JEFFERS: Simply because it's a terrible, terrible issue to have raised in the public issue, in the public mind. And there's no question that there's a sort of automatic condemnation that goes forth with this if it becomes a public issue. Not to mention that, culturally, otherwise, it is very explosive.

And the Catholic hierarchy would certainly be at least -- at least it was certainly understandable that they would want to try to maintain silence, or keep these situations internally controlled.

WOODRUFF: Genevieve, are you agreeing it's understandable why the hierarchy would not have been more aggressive in dealing with this?

WOOD: Well, I think I understand from a public relations standpoint, why they don't want to. But I think what we have to look at is this: The church, I think, has been -- the media, if you're going to look at this particular issue.

If the church had been more adamant and more public about saying we don't believe homosexuals ought to be entering the priesthood, can you imagine the condemnation that would come down from the public sector? But on the other hand, that's exactly now why they, to a great extent, are probably having this problem.

WOODRUFF: I'm going to quickly turn the corner here. Carl Jeffers, over the weekend in their Democratic radio response to the president, former L.A. Mayor candidate Antonio Villaraigosa, accused the president of pandering for the Latino vote, carrying out, in his words, an orchestrated strategy to win Hispanic votes. What do you say to that?

JEFFERS: Well, I think that's pure political polemics. The fact of the matter is that the president is no more pandering to get Hispanic votes than the Democrats are pandering to go over their core constituencies, such as African-Americans an others.

But let me say this, having said that, the fact of the matter is, it's expected that President Bush will try to consolidate and increase his popularity among Hispanic voters. But the Hispanic vote in America is a fairly bifurcated vote. And there are as many Hispanic voters in California as there are in Texas.

And the Hispanic vote in California is likely to remain Democratic, and probably will be more solidified in the upcoming gubernatorial election, because Gray Davis, I think, will in fact be able to crystallize that support there.

WOODRUFF: Genevieve?

WOOD: I would just add to that. I think that's a reason to a certain extent that the Democrats are worried. It's because, when you see a track record (UNINTELLIGIBLE). President Bush, when he was governor in Texas, he was very popular among Hispanics. He is now obviously trying to take that message outside of Texas, to California and other areas.

And I think Democrats are a little worried that he may inch into their base, there, which is very critical to maintain control in some of those areas. So I think the president is doing what any president would do, which is try to get his message out to every potential voter.

JEFFERS: Just remember, Judy, Democrats are never too worried about minorities going to the polls to vote. But in this case, there's no question that the Hispanic vote will be an important factor for both parties in the next election.

WOODRUFF: All right. We are going to have to leave it there. No doubt both of you are right. Genevieve Wood and Carl Jeffers, we appreciate you both being with us. Thank you.

JEFFERS: Thanks, Judy.

WOODRUFF: And you can give us your opinions on these topics and more at Plus, don't forget to e-mail Bill Schneider with your ideas for this week's political play of the week.

More on the president's trip to Latin America when we return, including "Inside Buzz" on the Republican response to that Democratic criticism here at home.


WOODRUFF: Republican pollster Matthew Dowd is with me now to talk about some of the stories we've been discussing.

Matthew Dowd, first of all, let's talk about 2000. George Bush got 35 percent of the Hispanic vote. Now, you've argued that he has to do how much better in the next election in order to reelected?

MATTHEW DOWD, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, it's based on the growth that is going to happen and has happened over the last few years in the Hispanic population. But it's my guess that he is going to do somewhere between 38 and 40 percent of vote, which we think is very doable. In Texas in '94, he got 24 percent of the vote the first time he ran. And the second time he ran, he got 48 percent of vote. So, as Hispanics have got exposed to him, he does better.

WOODRUFF: So, he needs to do better.

And, as you know, over the weekend, in the Democratic Party response -- we mentioned this a minute ago -- the former candidate for mayor, former assembly speaker in California, Antonio Villaraigosa, said -- and we're going to show you the quote here -- "The president's trip this weekend to Latin America is part of an orchestrated strategy to curry favor with Latino voters. Our community knows the difference between rhetoric and results, between pandering and producing."

Is what the president is doing so transparent, do you think?


Actually, the last part of that quote I agree with, which is that Hispanics and most voters know the difference between pandering and producing, which is why the president is doing very well with Hispanic voters.

But I think it's a little bit cynical that, every time a Republican president sort of appears before African-Americans or before Hispanics, they get automatically accused of being a photo-op and that there is not substance to the issue or substance to the visit. When the largest growing and the fastest growing voters in this country are Hispanics and the largest population in this hemisphere are Latinos, to me it is natural that the president would go to Latin America.

WOODRUFF: Well, what are the issues that the president needs to stress between now and 2004 -- I realize we're talking about a couple of years here. But what are the issues the president needs to keep talking about? It's pretty clear that, on immigration, he is not going to be able to satisfy what many Hispanic-Latino voters would like.

DOWD: Well, despite what a lot of Democratic leadership says is what the concerns of today's Hispanic voters, the real concern of the Hispanic voters is, No. 1, the economy and the jobs; No. 2, education; and No.3, terrorism since 9/11, terrorism and homeland security. Those are the top three concerns among Hispanic voters.

He obviously is doing everything he can on the economy to deal with jobs and deal with everything associated with the economy. On education, he produced a bill that we think is going to provide more accountability and help schools that Hispanics are in. And on three, he is doing all that he can on homeland security. So, yes, he has got to produce. The voter has got to see that he has got to deal with these issues. But those are the top three concerns of Hispanic voters.

WOODRUFF: But those sound like the same concerns of all American voters. How do you distinguish between Hispanic and other voters? How do you make a distinction?

DOWD: Well, they are the same concerns of all voters.

Politically, the way you deal with that is that, among certain groups that have some allegiance to each other -- and the Latino is a community -- that you have to show that you are willing to go there, speak their language, speak in a way that -- not just their language, but they can understand on issues. Speak to their concerns. Visit their communities.

All of those sort of things you have to do. But they do have the same concerns that every other voter has. There is not an issue peculiar to the Hispanic community.

WOODRUFF: Let me ask you specifically about Texas, where the Democrats have an Hispanic, Tony Sanchez, as their nominee to be governor. He'll be running against the incumbent, Rick Perry. Does that complicate efforts of Republicans in Texas?

DOWD: I don't think so.

The Republicans have elected an Hispanic, Tony Garza, in Texas. So they have shown that they can elect Hispanics. They have also got -- as I mentioned, they have gotten substantial numbers of the Hispanic vote. It is interesting to me that Tony Sanchez was able to defeat the last leading Hispanic officer holder, Democratic office holder, in Texas, and Tony Sanchez happened to be a huge Bush supporter, which to me is sort of interesting. WOODRUFF: He gave a lot of money to George Bush.

DOWD: He gave a lot of money, gave him support over his terms as governor, and then as president. But it is going to be a spirited race. I think the incumbent, Rick Perry, is favored in that face. But I think it will a very close race. And, obviously, Governor Perry is going to have to show that he can get votes among the Hispanic community in Texas.

WOODRUFF: All right, well, Matthew Dowd, we appreciate your joining us. And the election -- it's never too soon to talking about the election this year and in 2004.

DOWD: Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Thank you. Good to see you. Appreciate it.

Among the stories in our "Campaign News Daily": Maryland Congressman Robert Ehrlich announced today his plans to run for governor. Many consider Ehrlich the best chance for Maryland Republicans, who are seeking their first statewide victory in more than three decades. Baltimore's Democrat mayor, Martin O'Malley, is also considering a run for governor. Over the weekend, he provided the entertainment at his own political fund-raiser. O'Malley revealed that his band has put out a new Could. But a decision on running for governor will have to wait.

Meantime, the Florida branch of the AFL-CIO has endorsed Democrat Bill McBride for governor. The endorsement gives McBride a boost against Janet Reno and the other Democrats hoping to challenge the incumbent, Jeb Bush.

Also in Florida, House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt is in Palm Beach today with congressional candidate Carol Roberts. The two of them held a news conference on Social Security part of Roberts' campaign for the seat now held by Republican Clay Shaw.

Carol Roberts is a Palm Beach County commissioner, a job that gave her a prominent role in the contentious Florida recount in the days following election 2000.

Carol Roberts joins me now from West Palm Beach.

Nice to see you. Thanks for joining us.

CAROL ROBERTS (D), FLORIDA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Thank you very much for having me, Judy.

WOODRUFF: How much do you think you are helped by the prominent role you played in the recount? Or do you think it hurts you?

ROBERTS: I certainly don't think it hurts me, Judy.

I think the people here in Palm Beach County are proud to know that their votes were counted. And I don't think it matters which party you are. I believe people here understand democracy. And they want to be a part of democracy. So I think it helps. I don't think it hurts at all.

WOODRUFF: What do you hear from voters as you around the district on that subject?

ROBERTS: On the subject of the...

WOODRUFF: Of the recount, of what happened in November 2000.

ROBERTS: I don't hear very much these days.

I hear more from people who have a lot of confidence in me, people in Palm Beach County who know that I have balanced budgets for the last 16 years and that I have been involved with smart growth in Palm Beach County. People have had confidence in my ability to govern. And they have said that. That is what I am hearing these days.

WOODRUFF: We know that Dick Gephardt, who is the House minority leader, is joining you there to support you in this race.

You have argued that Clay Shaw, whose seat you are seeking, that his plan to reform Social Security with private accounts is something that would do away with Social Security. If that is the case, what is the best way to shore up Social Security for the future?

ROBERTS: Well, I think that we need to sit down and have a bipartisan agreement and look at where we were about a year ago when we didn't have deficits, where we had surpluses and those surpluses would allow us to go way beyond the year 2036. I think, by going to a bipartisan agreement, that we can ensure that Social Security will be secure for the next 75 years.

WOODRUFF: And just quickly, what makes you think that you can beat Clay Shaw? He has served, what, 10 terms.

ROBERTS: Well, first of all, the district, as it came out on Friday, puts 57 percent of it in Palm Beach County.

At least 25 percent of the district has never voted for Clay Shaw, really doesn't know Clay Shaw. The district knows me in Palm Beach County. The district in Broward County knows me also, because I have been very much involved with Tri-Rail, which is a community rail authority that covers three counties.

I've chaired it four different times. I have been very much involved with removing congestion from the roads in Palm Beach and Broward County. People in Palm Beach County are very proud of the fact that, as we have budgeted, we have been able to have a AAA rating in Palm Beach County for our bonds. It's one of 33 counties in the nation. There's over 3,000 counties in the nation. I am very proud of my record. I'm very proud of the fact that I have been able to govern well in Palm Beach County and gain the confidence of the people. People don't really know Clay Shaw in this district.

WOODRUFF: All right, Carol Roberts, Palm Beach County, commissioner we thank you very much for joining us. ROBERTS: Thank you very much, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Thank you.

And we will turn back to the Oscars next on INSIDE POLITICS. Will the banner night for African-American actors make a difference beyond Hollywood? Our Jeff Greenfield shares his analysis the day after.


WOODRUFF: Traditionally, on the day after the Oscars, much of the analysis is about the quality of the awards show and who wore what. But this year, the discussion runs much deeper.

Here now our senior analyst, Jeff Greenfield.

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. ANALYST: "History at the Oscars," today's headlines proclaimed.

As you all know, for the first time ever, both the best actor and best actress awards went to black performers. Historic really? Will this close the income gap between white and black Americans, end racial animosities, fix bad schools, broken families, lousy neighborhoods? Well, of course not.

And yet, there is something about moments like this that really do make a difference.



ANNOUNCER: And here she is, crowned Miss America of 1945.


GREENFIELD: That's Bess Myerson. In September 1945, she was crowned the first Jewish Miss America.

For American Jews, this was a big deal. With World War II just over, with the Holocaust very much a reality, with anti-Semitism a powerful force in American life, this signaled a new possibility of inclusion.

In 1947, when Jackie Robinson became the first African-American to crack the American pastime of Major League Baseball, that was far more than a token gesture. At a time when so much of American life was unofficially or unofficially segregated, when blacks and whites even went to separate schools in the national capital, the fact that this fundamental symbol of the American way of life was opening up sent a strong signal to the country.

It is more than coincidence that the post-war civil rights movement was born just a few years later. We have seen this pattern again and again in public life. John Kennedy, as the first Catholic president, spoke volumes to those who still remembered seeing signs in stores: "No Irish Need Apply."




GREENFIELD: So did the appointment of Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman Supreme Court justice, appointed in 1981.


GREENFIELD: Because this is a country where so many of us came from somewhere else, there is always a question for many of us: Do we really belong here? Are we really part of America?

So, when any visible institution -- in politics, or sports, or entertainment -- marks a first, we take notice. When the first Hispanic or Asian is named to the Supreme Court, when the first Italian is named to head a national ticket, those will all make headlines. Now, we might wish for a time when such firsts no longer matter, but they do, and they will -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. And many argue they should.

Jeff Greenfield, thanks.

Just ahead: the latest from the White House on talks toward a possible cease-fire in the Middle East and an update on whether Yasser Arafat will be allowed to attend the Arab League summit in Beirut.


WOODRUFF: Members of the Israeli Security Cabinet are meeting tonight to consider if Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat should be allowed to attend the Arab League summit Wednesday in Beirut.

Our CNN White House correspondent, John King, is here now.

John, how much is the White House pressuring the Israelis to let Arafat do this?


The public line is that the Israeli government should give -- quote -- "serious consideration" to letting him go. We are told, over the weekend, Secretary of State Colin Powell said it much more directly, telling Prime Minister Sharon in a conversation the United States believes it is critical for the tone and the tenor of the Arab summit for Mr. Arafat to be there.

We're also told by Israeli sources Mr. Sharon feels like he has been put in a tough situation by the White House. It was just last week he stood side by side with Vice President Cheney. Both agreed that the condition for Arafat travel and for an Arafat-Cheney meeting was a cease-fire first. There is no cease-fire in place.

The White House today, even though it said again Mr. Arafat must do more, could do more, should do more to stop the violence, also is telling the Israeli government, even if he does nothing else in the next 24 hours, let him travel.

WOODRUFF: John, what about the proposal that Cheney, Vice President Cheney, and Arafat, meet? Could that possibly still happen?

KING: It could happen on the back end of the Arab summit -- no hope now at all that it could happen before the summit -- the preliminary avenue of the summit already under way -- some at the summit thinking Mr. Arafat might be there as early as tomorrow if not the day after, but no prospect of a meeting before the summit.

There is some hope that, if there is a cease-fire agreement that perhaps then Mr. Cheney could schedule a meeting after the summit. And that would be one incentive, from the White House standpoint, of getting Mr. Arafat to watch very carefully what he says at that summit, getting Arab leaders to pressure him to do more not only to get a cease-fire in place, but to keep one in place, and to get along with the political dialogue -- so that meeting still out there as a possibility, but White House officials saying right now it is still up to Mr. Arafat.

That condition has not changed: To see the vice president, he has to agree to a cease-fire.

WOODRUFF: And, John, finally, what would the White House like to see come out of this summit?

KING: Well, they would like a very firm declaration from the summit embracing the Saudi peace proposal, embracing a political dialogue between the Israelis and the Palestinians. The Sharon government in Israel has ruled out one key condition in the new Saudi peace plan. That is a pullback all the way to the 1967 borders. Prime Minister Sharon says that would put Israel's security at risk.

So the plan, the framework, if you will, of Crown Prince Abdullah, is a nonstarter from Israel's standpoint as a negotiating dialogue, as a piece of negotiation paper. But the White House believes it is a critical political document to get the entire Arab world to say: "We will recognize Israel's right to exist. We will normalize relations with Israel."

If a cease-fire is in place and if the Arab world embraces this document, it would then allow the United States to go back to Prime Minister Sharon and say: "OK, if you don't like this plan, what would you do in its stead?"

WOODRUFF: All right, John King reporting for us from the White House on. He was on the trip that Vice President Cheney took throughout the Middle East last week. Thank you, John.

We will review the art of campaign advertising next on INSIDE POLITICS. Move over Oscar and Emmy. Our Bill Schneider will tell us which spots won the Pollies.

But first Kate Snow is here with a preview of what is ahead as she fills in on "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" -- hi, Kate.


Coming up at the top of the hour: what may be final fate for American Lori Berenson down in Peru. Will her parents be able to free her from a Peruvian prison? And why are guns and knives making it past airport security checks at an astonishing rate? Those stories coming up after INSIDE POLITICS.


WOODRUFF: Best actress award winner, Halle Berry, was one of the headliners at a post-Oscar party hosted by musician Elton John. Mingling among the Hollywood celebrities was none other than Florida gubernatorial candidate Janet Reno. Reno aides say the former attorney general had a wonderful discussion with Halle Berry in which they expressed their admiration for one another. They say that Elton John and comedian Jamie Foxx went even further, telling Reno they would like to support her campaign.

Well, our Bill Schneider, whom we saw a little earlier on INSIDE POLITICS, went Hollywood for the Oscars, but that wasn't the only gala event that made his California trip rewarding.

Bill is here with us again from Los Angeles -- hello there, Bill.


And let me ask you: Had enough awards? Well, there are some really important ones that you might have missed. They were handed out on Saturday at the American Association of Political Consultants meeting down here in San Diego. Now, they give out the Pollie awards for the year's best political ads.

Well, I was there. And let me tell you what everybody was wearing -- no, better yet, let's take look at some of the year's best political campaign ads.


(voice-over): Here is the Pollie-winning ad in the local public affairs category, an ad for wilderness preservation




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Watch your fingers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, dad, I got something.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hold on. Hey, honey, Josh caught something.




ANNOUNCER: What are you going to tell your kids when there is no wilderness left? Help save our open spaces.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, I am camping here!


SCHNEIDER: And here the Pollie winner in the local initiative in referendum category. It's a real quackerjack.


ANNOUNCER: A tax is a tax is a tax. Help stop the hidden tax. Vote for repeal on November 6. Vote for repeal. Stop the hidden electric gas and phone tax.



SCHNEIDER: Outraged that your favorite movie did not win the Oscar? With the Pollies, you get a second chance. The association created a special shoulda-woulda-coulda category for ads that were overlooked in the past. Here is the national Pollie winner from the 2000 presidential campaign.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I grow up, I want the government to have the same problems it has today.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to vote for the lesser of two evils.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to be lied to.

ANNOUNCER: Is this what you want from your government? Or do you want something better for yourself in the next generation? Vote Ralph Nader for president.


SCHNEIDER: And here is the local Pollie winner: a powerful ad that tells the story of Georgia Congressman John Lewis.


REP. JOHN LEWIS, GEORGIA: We grew up very poor. I had six brothers, three sisters, a wonderful mother, a wonderful father. They worked very hard. ANNOUNCER: John Lewis grew up on that farm, a farm where everyone had to work. Work was survival, a necessity. But that Alabama farm boy wanted more. He was driven to get an education.



SCHNEIDER: The Pollie winners prove it. There is a whole lot of creativity in politics and almost as much glitz and glamour as the Oscars. Boy, those political consultants really know how to party, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Well, we liked hearing about the Pollies, Bill, but what about those parties? We understand that you were at one of them?

SCHNEIDER: Yes. I was at the "Vanity Fair" party. I saw all the celebrities, although I didn't see the biggest celebrity. Of course that was Janet Reno, for the viewers of INSIDE POLITICS. She didn't seem to be there.

But there were some movie stars hanging around. I had one big question, though, as I was watching Oscars. And I wondered if it occurred to any of our viewers. What happened to the guys from Pricewaterhouse? Remember the guys, the accountants who used to explain the voting procedures and hoped they didn't get into any Florida problems and come out with those big briefcases? They disappeared. Question: Were they a casualty of the Arthur Andersen scandals? I think we ought to look into that.

WOODRUFF: Bill, I must confess, that is a part of the Oscars that I never paid much attention to.


WOODRUFF: All right, Bill Schneider in California doing the Pollies and the Oscars -- thanks, Bill.


WOODRUFF: See you later.

Looking ahead to tomorrow's INSIDE POLITICS: I will interview the two nominees for Illinois governor, Republican Jim Ryan and Democrat Rod Blagojevich. And our Candy Crowley will check in on two members of the Kennedy clan running for office in Maryland.

CNN's coverage continues now with "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS." Thank you for joining us. I'm Judy Woodruff.


How do African-Americans Stand Politically?; White House Tells Israeli Government to Let Arafat Travel>



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