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CNN CAPITAL GANG

Iraq Accepts U.N. Weapons Inspectors; Pelosi, DeLay Become Party Leaders in Congress; Interview With Lindsey Graham

Aired November 16, 2002 - 19:00   ET

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

ANNOUNCER: Live from Washington, THE CAPITAL GANG.
MARK SHIELDS, HOST: Welcome to CAPITAL GANG.

I'm Mark Shields, with Al Hunt, Robert Novak, and Margaret Carlson.

Our guest is Minnesota senator-elect Republican Norm Coleman. Thanks for coming in, Norm.

SENATOR-ELECT NORMAN COLEMAN (R), MINNESOTA: Great to be here, thank you.

SHIELDS: It's good to have you here.

The Iraqi government accepted United Nations weapons inspectors, saying, quote, "Send the inspectors to ascertain as much, and if their conduct is thoroughly supervised to ensure that it is lawful and professional, everyone will be assured that Iraq has produced no nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons of mass destruction, whatever allegations to the contrary are made by the evil pretenders," end quote.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

HANS BLIX, CHIEF UNITED NATIONS WEAPONS INSPECTOR: I think the United States government is determined that there shall be no cat-and- mouse play, and this is how I also understood that the Security Council takes that view.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If Saddam Hussein does not comply with the -- to the detail of the resolution, we will lead a coalition to disarm. It's over. We're through negotiations...

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

SHIELDS: Meanwhile, a taped voice urging new terrorist attacks against America appears to be that of Osama bin Laden.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OSAMA BIN LADEN (through translator): Now is the time to become equals, just like, you kill us, we will kill you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHIELDS: New FBI terrorist alerts were criticized by administration officials, but the issuance of warnings was officially defended.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: We would ask Americans to do what the president has asked them a number of times to do, which is to remain vigilant.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson, is it fair to say that President Bush's war on terrorism is now off the track?

MARGARET CARLSON, TIME MAGAZINE: Well, the high alert-low alert was a little sloppy, and the week that Bush is enlarging the war on terror to include Iraq by the inspectors setting off for there is not a good week to remind people that we haven't won -- we haven't won the first war by any means, because Osama bin Laden is still alive and well, as opposed to our getting him dead or alive.

Up until now, I think Bush has been successful in saying routing al Qaeda and having Osama bin Laden on the run has been a kind of a victory. But it's a terrible reminder of just how frightening the world is when you have him on tape threatening mass destruction.

In the end, though, it strengthens Bush's hand. He can get whatever he wants because we are frightened and we do live -- he does have a honeymoon of fear. So you want homeland security, you get homeland security. You want Tom Ridge as your cabinet secretary, you get it.

SHIELDS: I won't even go near the "honeymoon of fear" line, Bob. Let me just ask you, though, Senator Bob Graham, Senator Bob Graham, who's had a reputation for sort of professionalism and competence throughout, said they are -- speaking of the administration, so focused on Iraq they aren't paying adequate attention to the war on terror.

Fair charge?

ROBERT NOVAK, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: I think there's some basis to that. I worry about it, I know. Senator Graham's been saying that for some time. I think there's putting a lot of effort on al Qaeda. It's not easy to root out the terrorists. Big problem with Iraq is they have been unable either to ascertain that there are weapons of mass destruction, or that there's any connection with al Qaeda.

Now, the good part about the weapons inspection is, we're going to find out a lot pretty soon. And I -- my old friend Richard Perle, who is a -- the hard-line attack-Iraq school, I see in the national -- in "The Guardian" of Britain was attacking Hans Blix. And that means they don't want these inspectors to do the job. SHIELDS: Norm Coleman, your own take. You've watched, actually, the administration position change from one of skepticism, if not open hostility, toward inspections, but now actually embraced by the president.

COLEMAN: President said we will lead a coalition to disarm him, and that's what we're going to do, and that's what's going to happen. The president has done everything that's been asked of him. He's gone to the Congress, 77 senators said, We're there with you. He's gone to the United Nations, got a 15-to-nothing vote.

And you can't kind of compartmentalize these, well, you know, what are we doing in Afghanistan? What do we do in Iraq? There are people around this world who hate us. Al Jazeera today, there was a communique said if we all convert to Islam, we'll be OK, and if we stop supporting Israel.

That's not going to happen, and so we will do what the president said we will do. We will lead a coalition to disarm him.

SHIELDS: Al Hunt.

AL HUNT, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Well, I think on Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda that the administration really has a very bad record, and for some inexplicable reason, they seem to get away with it. They said, as Margaret noted, We're going to get him dead or alive. Fourteen months later, they haven't.

They then claim, Well, al Qaeda is impotent now because we have him on the run. Well, Bali proved that that's not the case. I can imagine what would be the reaction of some if there were a Clinton or Gore presidency and they had that kind of a record.

I think on Iraq, I disagree with Bob, I think there's clear proof that this guy has weapons of mass destruction. I think Saddam will go back to his usual cheat-and-retreat game. I think he'll try to play games. They have them, they're not going to fully give them up. He's not going to, he's not going to tell the truth, and the only question is how long he can delay the inevitable.

SHIELDS: Bob?

NOVAK: I think, I think it is still uncertain, Al. I think, I think that the inspectors have to either say he has been completely uncooperative and we're going home, therefore, start the bombers going. Or they're going to have to say, We find or we can't find weapons.

I know in 11 years, we've never been able to find these weapons that are supposed to have been found.

The other factor is, I think it's going to be a long, hard fight against al Qaeda. It's going to take a long time. Got to be very patient. But Iraq is a wholly different kind of thing. We're talking now of a quarter of a million American troops. That is a big operation. And I think we got to really be sure that's the right thing to do.

CARLSON: You know, Bob, (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

HUNT: (UNINTELLIGIBLE), Bob, I agree with you, it's going to be a lot tougher. But we have found weapons there. Nineteen ninety- eight, we found that they had VX nerve gas that they'd put on warheads, after Saddam's son-in-law defected, before he came back and then got murdered. We have 650,000 documents that prove they were weaponizing biological weapons. Defectors have said they are developing a nuclear program.

They have smallpox virus, and that's not because Saddam wants to be Madam Curie.

CARLSON: And Bob, not only that, they found -- (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Hans Blix has much better technology at his disposal to especially search out the chemical and germ stuff.

NOVAK: Can I (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

COLEMAN: (UNINTELLIGIBLE), I find myself aligning with Al and Margaret on this. I hope this is not a trend...

(CROSSTALK)

COLEMAN: ... I hope this is not a trend, but...

CARLSON: Your career will be...

COLEMAN: ... ditto for what you just...

CARLSON: ... stymied.

COLEMAN: ... both just said.

NOVAK: Well, I would, I would say, I -- that the people who want to have a change in regime in Iraq and change the balance of power in the Middle East don't like the Hans -- why are they attacking Hans Blix? Why is Richard Perle attacking Hans Blix?

CARLSON: Well, they don't want the inspections to succeed, because they want war. But inspections might succeed.

(CROSSTALK)

HUNT: I don't think, I don't think they want war, they...

CARLSON: Want war, no, I didn't mean to say...

HUNT: ... (UNINTELLIGIBLE) they want a deal with...

CARLSON: ... want.

HUNT: ... Saddam Hussein...

CARLSON: Yes. HUNT: ... and that's something (UNINTELLIGIBLE) do.

SHIELDS: Well, but quite frankly, what is the objective here, to minimize the possibility of damage and threat to the United States and to the immediate neighborhood, or to depose Saddam Hussein? And I think that's, I think that is open to question. When the criticism -- the president and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) particularly of Colin Powell this week has come solely from the war hawks, really.

CARLSON: Yes.

SHIELDS: Next, Norm Coleman and THE GANG will be back with a not-so-lame-duck lame-duck session of Congress. A not-so-lame lame- duck session of Congress, whatever. (UNINTELLIGIBLE), we'll be back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHIELDS: Welcome back.

The post-election lame-duck session of Congress convened with Republican leaders frankly pessimistic.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TRENT LOTT (R-MS), MINORITY LEADER: Lame-duck sessions are not a good idea. You know, it's a sort of a period between game...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHIELDS: But President Bush insisted on passing the bill for a new homeland security department.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

BUSH: Thank you all.

I think this work can be done soon. The Congress is coming back for a brief period of time. And in that period of time, they can get the job done.

LOTT: A lot of us were thinking, Oh, we'll hit the ground very quickly, we'll be gone. The president said, No, we're going to do this, you should not leave town. And, you know, we said, Yes, Mr. President, you're right, and we're going to get it done.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

SHIELDS: The bill cleared the House and is likely to be passed in the Senate despite Democratic misgivings.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MAJORITY LEADER: Because I think there is such a strong desire to finish this legislation that I think it probably will pass under any circumstances.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHIELDS: The lame-duck session also approved the long-stalled terrorism insurance bill.

Bob Novak, why so much lame-duck activity in this lame-duck session?

NOVAK: Three reasons. Number one, the president felt that the election of November 5 gave him a mandate. Number two, he made that very clear to the Republican leadership in both houses. And number three, they capitulated.

More interesting, I think, than the homeland security was the terrorism bill. They had just been bellyaching for a week that Nick Calios (ph), the White House lobbyist, had given in to the trial lawyers on the punitive damages provisions in the terrorism bill. And they weren't going to pass that damn thing.

President said, We have to pass that, called up Tom DeLay, and he got it done. Now, the question is, the president, is he going to use that power for good purposes next year, and people who like certain parts of his agenda certainly hope he will.

SHIELDS: With all due respect to the president's own muscle, Democrats capitulated in part because they saw in the results of November 5 that Max Cleland had paid dearly in Georgia for his opposition to homeland security, Jean Carnahan in Missouri, and Mary Landrieu's up in December, isn't that right, Margaret?

CARLSON: Right. I mean, Bush clubbed two senators with the homeland security bill that he had not wanted in the first place, and then...

NOVAK: Since when?

CARLSON: ... came around to. It was his bill...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: ... after, you know, he was forced into it. And Democrats see the writing on the wall that somehow protecting labor was not against a terrorism bill just wasn't going to cut it.

The winner and loser in the election is Trent Lott, because Trent Lott thought he was going to be running things, and clearly he found out this week, he's got a little earpiece here, and President Bush is shouting orders into it. Yes, you will bring up the homeland security bill, and no, you will not bring up the partial birth abortion bill.

And that's what happened.

COLEMAN: Can I speak, can I speak...

SHIELDS: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

COLEMAN: ... in the leader's defense... SHIELDS: Go ahead.

COLEMAN: ... (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

SHIELDS: Sure.

COLEMAN: I think like most Americans, Trent would breathe easier if we weren't in session. I think most Americans like it when the Congress is not in session. I think they feel a little safer, at least their pockets do.

On the other hand, (UNINTELLIGIBLE), we did, we won, we won, and the president, the mandate, by the way, I think is not a mandate about homeland security. I don't think the Democrats got clubbed just by that. They got clubbed by being perceived as stopping things and not letting anything happen.

What you got is a lame-duck session in which a couple of things are going to happen. You get homeland security through, you get terrorism insurance through, you get some judges through. And that was the mandate, I think, and certainly in my state, some of the, you know, the folks were saying, Hey, get it done. We've got a little done now, and Bob, you're right, we'll let a lot more done when we start next session.

CARLSON: And maybe unemployment insurance carried through.

SHIELDS: Al Hunt.

HUNT: Norm has just protected his committee...

(CROSSTALK)

SHIELDS: I hope you heard that, Trent.

(CROSSTALK)

HUNT: The Democrats went eyeball-to-eyeball during the election, and after the Georgia and Missouri came in, they blinked. You know, there's no question of that.

I'm a little bit surprised that Bob doesn't like the terrorism insurance bill, which is a good bill, but doesn't seem to be as upset with homeland security, a big new intrusive federal bureaucracy.

But I'll tell you what else lame-duck sessions do and the bad part of lame-duck sessions. They are a special interest haven. You've seen already the House stuck on the homeland security bill a provision that protects the drug companies over autistic kids. I have no idea what the merits of that are, but it doesn't belong in a homeland security...

NOVAK: Could I...

HUNT: ... bill...

NOVAK: ... (UNINTELLIGIBLE), (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

HUNT: ... and what...

CARLSON: No.

HUNT: ... (UNINTELLIGIBLE), no, no...

NOVAK: I'm sorry, go ahead.

HUNT: No, the answer is no, you can't. And...

NOVAK: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

HUNT: ... what, what it is, whatever the merits, I know they're, we don't know, but...

COLEMAN: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

HUNT: ... it doesn't belong on a homeland security bill. You know what it is? It's a payoff to the pharmaceutical industry's big campaign contributions during this campaign.

NOVAK: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Can I explain to you what it is? It's to keep the rapacious trial lawyers out of raping a company like Eli Lilly, which provides drugs and help for people's health. And, and the idea that you're on the side of the trial lawyers and against people who want to solve the health problems of -- just (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

CARLSON: Where, where poor autistic...

HUNT: You could stick...

CARLSON: ... for poor autistic children...

HUNT: ... a lot of things on that bill...

CARLSON: Yes.

HUNT: ... then, yes, you could stick a lot of things on that bill. I think, in fact, it's what Norm's about-to-be colleague, Republican John McCain said, it's a payoff. And as John McCain said, it's disgraceful.

SHIELDS: Is Eli Lilly a not-for-profit enterprise? I didn't realize that.

Margaret?

NOVAK: They do a lot of good.

CARLSON: The other thing...

NOVAK: They do more good than the trial lawyers.

CARLSON: And Republicans were protecting companies who move offshore so as not to have to pay American labor and not to pay American taxes in allowing them to get contracts under the homeland security bill. That should have been stripped...

NOVAK: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

CARLSON: ... out of there.

NOVAK: ... if the president thinks it's necessary for national security.

CARLSON: To have offshore Bahamas corporations get contacts? I don't think so.

NOVAK: You're against, you're, you don't...

CARLSON: I do not think so.

NOVAK: ... you want the solution to the...

CARLSON: I think that can be done in America.

NOVAK: You know what the solution...

SHIELDS: Last word, Margaret Carlson.

NOVAK: ... the solution to the Bahamas thing is...

SHIELDS: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) last word, Margaret Carlson.

NOVAK: ... (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Yes.

SHIELDS: Did you hear that?

CARLSON: Yes, OK.

NOVAK: I'm sorry.

SHIELDS: Did you hear that, Bob?

NOVAK: Yes.

SHIELDS: Last word, Margaret. Thank you, Margaret.

Next on CAPITAL GANG, Nancy versus Tom in the House.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHIELDS: Welcome back.

Two new party leaders were named in the House of Representatives. Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi of California was elected Democratic leader by a lopsided margin, and Congressman Tom DeLay of Texas became Republican leader without opposition.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: What the Democrats will do working together is to build consensus around an economic growth message, and that will be right down the center, so it's not about contests right to left...

REP. TOM DELAY (R-TX), MAJORITY LEADER: Nancy Pelosi stands for what she believes in, and I respect that. I stand for what I believe in, and I hope she respects that.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

SHIELDS: Al Hunt, is this a standoff between two, as they've been pictured, ideological extremists?

HUNT: Mark, I don't think they're going to find a lot of common ground. This is not going to be a Gerry Ford-Tip O'Neill relationship.

I think Congresswoman Pelosi comes to her new job with some real assets. First of all, she got a pretty leadership team. The whip is Steny Hoyer who, despite his University of Maryland background, is a very able politician.

NOVAK: Whooo.

HUNT: She picked John Spratt, moderate from South Carolina. She brings a lot of energy. She's a great fund raiser, an attractive presence, and great political genes. Her dad and brother were both mayor of Baltimore.

The test is whether she can move from being a representative of one of the most liberal districts in America to a job that requires you to put together a -- really build coalition and build consensus in a very diverse group.

If some of her House Republican critics, however, continue that -- those ad hominem attacks against her, San Francisco, gay-loving liberal Democrat, it's going to be equal treatment for Tom DeLay, and we're going to find out some of his views are even more out of the mainstream than Nancy Pelosi's.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak.

NOVAK: Well, I thought Al was going to read his column in "The Wall Street Journal" last Thursday...

(CROSSTALK)

HUNT: And a good column it was.

NOVAK: ... where he gave her -- gave advice to her on -- I hope, I hope you had given it to her before you printed it.

HUNT: No, no, never.

NOVAK: But, but, but, but in any, but at any rate, that was a lot of nonsense, Al, because, as you know, Nancy Pelosi cannot say what she really believes in. She says she's going to be in the center. Now, Tom DeLay doesn't say he's going to be in the center because he doesn't hide what he believes in. He is a strong conservative.

And that is the problem of the Democratic Party. It's a left- wing liberal party. They cannot, they, even the winners and the losers did not say what they really stood for in the last election, and the Republicans, with low taxes and choice for individual Americans, they still have a formula that is acceptable to the voters.

SHIELDS: Norm Coleman, here's a great chance to alienate both House Democrats and House Republicans.

COLEMAN: I think, I think Pelosi's got a tougher sell. First, Bob's right, what she believes in, the American public doesn't want. They do want less taxes, they do want more opportunity. She said the other day that it was time for a new dialogue between public and private sector. We've been having that for ages. We've been having it for ages.

And for DeLay, it's a little easier, because the president sets the tone for the party, and the president is laying out a message that America clearly wants. We saw that on Tuesday. So she's got a tougher row to hoe.

SHIELDS: I'd just point out that Tom DeLay is a member of the Texas Republican Party, which convened and has endorsed abolition of the Federal Reserve System, return to the gold standard, recapturing the Panama Canal, abolition of the income tax, abolition of HHS...

NOVAK: (UNINTELLIGIBLE), (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

SHIELDS: ... abolition of HED...

NOVAK: ... why don't you name (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

SHIELDS: ... abolition of -- yes, abolition of (UNINTELLIGIBLE) education, repeal the North American Free Trade Agreement...

(CROSSTALK)

SHIELDS: ... pull out of the World Trade Organization. This is really a mainstream party.

NOVAK: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

SHIELDS: This is a main...

NOVAK: ... (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

SHIELDS: And George Bush was governor...

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: ... (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

SHIELDS: ... of that state for eight years.

CARLSON: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

SHIELDS: Margaret.

CARLSON: Bob is going to be signing on to the Texas Republican Party. He had no idea how wonderful they were.

Tom DeLay will be monitored and tamped down somewhat by Bush and the White House. Nancy Pelosi will emerge as a, as the face of the Democratic Party, along with Tom Daschle. And she won't play to type. She will try to -- that people will try to castigate her as a San Francisco liberal, but if she's smart...

SHIELDS: Which she is.

CARLSON: ... she will -- which she is, but not...

NOVAK: But she can't say what she believes in.

CARLSON: ... with all the thing. She believes in (UNINTELLIGIBLE), you know, prescription drugs and Social Security...

SHIELDS: She's got a 15-year voting record.

CARLSON: ... clean air, and, you know, a lot of things that we all believe in.

She will emphasize, if she's smart, some foreign policy over social issues instead of being seen as a kind of leftie. And she will turn to Steny Hoyer, who is very popular in the House, even though he lost to her before, and instead of, like, cutting her, him out, turn to him.

HUNT: You know, Bob says that you're in the -- that Tom DeLay's in the mainstream. But when he says, Let's do away with EPA because it's a gestapo organization, and when he says that basically the Columbine shootings were because of birth control, daycare centers, and the teaching of evolution, Bob, that ain't the mainstream.

NOVAK: It's my mainstream.

SHIELDS: OK, that's (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Bob Novak will dog-paddle back to the mainstream. We will be back with our CAPITAL GANG Classic, a 1998 showdown with Iraq.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHIELDS: Welcome back.

Four years ago this week, as President Bill Clinton ordered massive U.S. forces into the Persian Gulf for a possible attack on Iraq, Saddam Hussein agreed to what he termed an unconditional resumption of arms inspections.

CAPITAL GANG discussed the situation November 14, 1998.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, November 14, 1998)

Al Hunt, is the U.S. intent on hitting and hurting Iraq?

HUNT: Mark, there may not be any other choice. if Iraq really was going to unconditionally let inspectors in there, any time they want to do that, any time that country wants to do that, this can end in a matter of months. They are trying to build back these weapons, these biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction, not for benign purposes.

And if the United States has -- if its word means anything, if, you know, if the word of the United Nations means, means anything, we can't let him jerk us around like this.

CARLSON: What Hussein's been able to do this time is to let Clinton reassemble a coalition against him. And now that Clinton has that coalition, he doesn't want it to disperse, and then be the only one going against Hussein.

He wants to bomb, and he should, because up until now we have not followed up sufficiently on threats.

NOVAK: You see, this has nothing to do with, with chemical weapons. They've never found any chemical weapons in, in this whole seven, seven-year period. What this has to do with is, is a desire by certain elements that we have to, that we have arrogated upon ourselves to be the masters of the universe, and we decide who can survive in every country in the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHIELDS: Al Hunt, should President Clinton in 1998 have attacked Iraq?

HUNT: Well, it wasn't a lost opportunity in 1991, 1991 was, Mark, but in retrospect, Monica Lewinsky, Monica Lewinsky notwithstanding, Clinton should have tried to marshal some kind of a multinational coalition to go after Saddam.

SHIELDS: Multinational force, Bob?

NOVAK: All the, all these years, they still haven't found the weapons, contrary to what Al said in the last segment is, Al said that they let the weapons inspectors in, you don't have to have a war, still true four years later.

SHIELDS: Golden oldie, what did you think, Norm?

COLEMAN: I lost to Jesse Ventura four years ago. It's not worth looking back. We will take care of Saddam Hussein this time.

SHIELDS: Margaret? CARLSON: Although four years from now, we'll be showing this clip of you.

No, if it had been done then, we wouldn't be having to do it now.

SHIELDS: OK.

Senator-elect Norm Coleman, thank you very much for being with us.

And coming up in the second half of CAPITAL GANG, our "Newsmaker of the Week" is Republican Senator-elect Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. "Beyond the Beltway" looks at the just-concluded Conference of American Catholic Bishops with religion reporter Raymond Arroyo. And our "Outrages of the Week." That's all after the latest news following these significant messages.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

ANNOUNCER: Live from Washington, THE CAPITAL GANG.

SHIELDS: Welcome back to the second half of CAPITAL GANG.

I'm Mark Shields, with Al Hunt, Robert Novak, and Margaret Carlson.

Our "Newsmaker of the Week" is Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, elected on November 5 to the United States Senate.

Lindsey Graham, age 47, residence Seneca, South Carolina, religion Baptist. Undergraduate and law degrees, University of South Carolina. U.S. Air Force trial counsel, member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, 1993 and 1994, member of the United States House of Representatives, 1995 through 2002.

Earlier this week, our own star, Margaret Carlson, sat down with Senator-elect Graham.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CARLSON: New Senator Graham, congratulations.

SENATOR-ELECT LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Thank you.

CARLSON: When you were on the Straight Talk Express with John McCain, you said, We need a new face leading the Republican Party, not the old face of governor -- then Governor George Bush.

Now, Bush seemed to help you get elected this time.

GRAHAM: Yes.

CARLSON: Do you want to amend any of that? GRAHAM: Well, no, he did a great job helping me and every other Republican. What I said is, the party needed to change, and that's what drew me to John McCain is the idea of putting reform in with conservative principles. The Bush campaign was all about that too, conservatism with compassion...

CARLSON: So he turns out to have a face that's new enough after all?

GRAHAM: Yes, I think his face is sort of what the party needs. He's sort of a mixture of Ronald Reagan's optimism, and he brings that down-home style, very plain-spoken style that fits the times. This is good versus evil in terms of the war on terrorism. I think he communicates in a way that most Americans can appreciate.

CARLSON: You were a hotshot in the House...

GRAHAM: (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

CARLSON: ... not at all a back-bencher. Now you're going to be at the adult table in the Senate. How do you plan to change your joke-making personality?

GRAHAM: I went over to the Senate my first day there during the conference. And it's all about team. I thought I was in a House Republican conference meeting. Then we came time to divvy up committee assignments, and there was no team there, it was every person for themselves.

But everybody had a great sense of humor. I tell you, Pat Roberts is a natural standup comedian...

CARLSON: Many of the House managers of impeachment suffered for being part of that. And you and Senator Clinton seem to have thrived on the basis of Monica. How did that play in your campaign?

GRAHAM: Well, impeachment back home, my role in it, I don't think, was ever a detriment. I think most people were pleased. But a lot of the things that happened with impeachment managers are definitely overblown. Jim Rogan was in a tough district before impeachment. And Ed Bryant ran against a former governor.

So I don't think there's any trend there. Miss Clinton's future is alive and well, and I would like to think that mine is. And we'll have a chance to work together and go against each other too. So it's funny how things work out in this town, isn't it?

CARLSON: It's funny.

Now, Congressman Tom Davis suggests that most Republicans ran away from privatizing Social Security. You stuck with it. Are you going to push that?

GRAHAM: You bet.

CARLSON: Even the president doesn't seem to be... GRAHAM: You better believe it.

CARLSON: ... quite as high on it.

GRAHAM: All right, well, here's the news. I believe that Social Security has structural deficiencies that will not be overcome by doing nothing, that there'll be two workers for every retiree in the next 20 years, when it's...

CARLSON: But privatizing it is the answer, or...

GRAHAM: Personal investment accounts...

CARLSON: ... reforming it?

GRAHAM: ... whatever word you want to use. Better growth. If you're a person born in the '80s, your return on investment less than 2 percent. Can you beat a percent and a half? I think you can. I think most Americans, given the chance, would choose to invest their Social Security in sound investments. The government would stand behind it, nobody would be a day trader.

I'm confident that that will give us growth to pay benefits without increasing taxes...

CARLSON: The Republicans in South Carolina were -- got ugly in the John McCain campaign down there...

GRAHAM: It was a tough, tough race.

CARLSON: ... as you've told me. And Democrats got ugly this time around with gay-bashing quotes. How did you handle that?

GRAHAM: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) decent opponent. He said some things, I think, that probably got out of bounds, and maybe I did too. Politics is competition. Lot of power interests at stake here.

Campaign finance reform's going to make the world a little better. These independent groups are going to have to use hard money, not soft dollars. You got to disclose who your donors are. But if we don't make them better, you're going to have a harder time to attract younger people to get in this business. And we need to change the way we campaign, or you're going to drive people out of the business.

CARLSON: We'll be watching to see if you fill Senator Thurmond's wingtips.

GRAHAM: Well, it'll be tough. Here's what it -- here's, here's what awaits me. My successor will be born next year, my wife will be born in two years, in 23 years I'd have my first child. I doubt if I can follow that formula.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson, do you figure that Lindsey Graham, with his emphasis on campaign finance reform as a senator, will be a John McCain maverick, or a George W. Bush loyalist?

CARLSON: Well, he hugged Bush pretty close in that interview. And the thing about being a maverick is, there's not room for many. And if you're going to be a maverick, you better know that you're going to be the one, otherwise it's best to be a team player and get what comes from that.

SHIELDS: Bob, he's stuck with privatization, but he wants the government to back those investments.

NOVAK: Well, sure, the -- you don't have to worry about that, because this, what, this is going to come through, but to your, to your dismay. The thing I'd like to say is that I've been told all, all during the campaign that this is, the Democrats, they're going to get Lindsey Graham, that's going to be the surprise.

In fact, the white vote in the rural areas and the suburban areas came out, it was a catastrophe for the Democrats in South Carolina, even though the black vote was pretty good. Democrats are in big trouble in the South, all over the South.

SHIELDS: Al Hunt.

HUNT: Yes, he ran against a good opponent, and he won overwhelmingly because he's a really terrific candidate. I think he's going to be an engaging and interesting senator, and he will not be a knee-jerk dependable vote for anyone.

SHIELDS: OK, last word, Al Hunt.

Next on CAPITAL GANG, "Beyond the Beltway" looks at the Catholic Bishops Conference with Raymond Arroyo of the EWTN Religious Network.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHIELDS: Welcome back.

The U.S. Conference of Roman Catholic Bishops, meeting in Washington, adopted what it calls a zero tolerance policy on sexual abuse by priests, but added procedural protections insisted upon by the Vatican.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

BISHOP WILTON GREGORY, PRESIDENT, U.S. CONFERENCE OF BISHOPS: Priests today too often are being unfairly judged by the misdeeds of other priests, men often long departed from the ministry or even deceased.

BISHOP WILLIAM LORI, BRIDGEPORT, CONNECTICUT: The actions taken today represent a recommitment to what the bishops pledged in Dallas, namely, that no priest who has ever abused a minor even once will remain in ministry...

(END VIDEO CLIPS) SHIELDS: The bishops also adopted a resolution calling on President Bush to step back from war against Iraq because it is not morally justified.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARDINAL BERNARD LAW, BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS: And today our nation once again faces questions of war and peace, life and death, how to seek security in a dangerous world.

However, we believe that Iraq is a different case. It raises different moral questions and troubling precedents.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHIELDS: Joining us now is Raymond Arroyo, the news director and lead anchor for the EWTN Religious Network.

Thanks for coming in, Raymond.

RAYMOND ARROYO, EWTN ANCHOR: Thank you, Mark.

SHIELDS: It's good to have you.

ARROYO: Good to be here.

SHIELDS: Raymond, how do the bishops respond to complaints by victims of sexual abuse that the church is now headed in the wrong direction after the Washington meeting?

ARROYO: I don't know how they would respond. But I -- from my vantage point, it seems this is a vast improvement over what they originally came out of that June meeting with. The June meeting had no teeth, really.

Since the Vatican has gotten involved, this has become a canonical affair, which means it's now a judicial process. The bishops have no discretion any longer. They can't decide to protect their friends or protect this one or that one. And as they've admitted, they inappropriately protected priests for too long, and that's what led to this crisis.

It was a case-by-case thing, and their friends sometimes, or people they had dealings with in the past, were protected. That is no longer allowed. Everything goes right to the Vatican, an impartial review board looks over every case. And it's out of the local bishop's hand. This is a good thing.

SHIELDS: I have to say, watching Cardinal Law deliver the bishops' position paper on Iraq, a strong position, criticizing the war, the argument that (UNINTELLIGIBLE) was not morally justifiable, they're weakened, they're tarnished, their position.

ARROYO: (UNINTELLIGIBLE), well, you know, there was a bishop from the Ukraine that spoke to them, a cardinal from the Ukraine. He said, I hope you regain your moral voice. SHIELDS: Boy.

ARROYO: And there is -- I mean, that was a real indictment here. And I think if you look at what was said -- I don't know why they even issued a statement on Iraq. They say they're covering both sides of the fence. You know, they say at one point, We support those who defend the country. We also support those who conscientiously object.

Well, which is it? You know, this is like Julia Child weighing in on the 2002 elections, you know. Thanks a lot, but, you know, back to the kitchen, make a souffle.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak.

NOVAK: Raymond, I just want to get straight, because there's been so much written that the bishops did a good thing in Dallas, put up a strong position, and these terrible people in the Vatican, including the pope...

ARROYO: Right.

NOVAK: ... said, No, you cannot crack down. You're saying it is just the opposite, that that's completely wrong.

ARROYO: Yes, in point of fact, it's a lot stronger, I think, than the original, the original document. The problem is, this is written in churchese. It's written in canonical language, so it's very hard to unravel.

I've interviewed all those men on that joint commission that went to Rome. The bishops must report every offense to civil authorities. The statute of limitations in the United States, any case after a certain amount of time cannot be heard. Ninety-eight percent of these cases of sexual abuse cannot be heard in our civil courts.

The Vatican is saying, We will give you a dispensation. There will be no statute of limitations. We will open it up, and the tribunal will hear those cases.

So it's a lot tougher.

CARLSON: But Raymond, correct me if I'm wrong, but I have the sense from this that the -- it's prospective, and that the bishops who protected the priests by moving them around...

ARROYO: Right.

CARLSON: ... instead of punishing them, none of those bishops are being punished, and in fact, Cardinal Law, and as long as Cardinal Law is up there making pronouncements, and suffering no punishment for having moved priests around...

ARROYO: Right.

CARLSON: ... it seems to me that the laity like me will never feel that justice has been done. ARROYO: Well, you know, they have not -- this is a problem. There is no penalty for this sort of thing. However, the bishops did agree on their own -- of their own power to hold themselves to the charter. So now every cleric, any cleric, deacon, bishop, priest, found guilty of sexual abuse will be removed from office.

CARLSON: But what about bishops who protected the priests?

ARROYO: There's nothing for that. There's no prescription for that.

CARLSON: And as long as that, that's the case...

ARROYO: And that is something that needs addressing.

CARLSON: ... I think that -- they'll look like a bunch of company men protecting each other.

ARROYO: I think you will see some of these bishops and cardinals in the next couple of months, especially as we move into the new year, they will get promoted to Rome, and out of, out of, you know, pastoral work in the diocese.

SHIELDS: Kicked upstairs, in other words.

ARROYO: Kicked upstairs.

CARLSON: Like Enron.

SHIELDS: OK.

HUNT: Well, that maybe the answer to my question, because I would certainly defer to your expertise on the substance here, because it's so considerable. But, but, but Raymond, I want to ask you about Rome's view about the, about the problem in America. There was a story in the paper there today that 400 priests met with Cardinal Law recently...

ARROYO: Right.

HUNT: ... and said, Attendance is down 20 percent, contributions are down 25 percent.

ARROYO: Right.

HUNT: Does Rome fully appreciate the crisis that exists in the American church right now?

ARROYO: I think Rome does. But you have to also realize, in that case, there is litigation continuing. Why put a new man in a position where litigation is continuing? You're also dealing with a man, he is a father to those people. And with our -- even with our own fathers, you give them a chance to make restitution.

I think that's what's happening there. They're allowing Cardinal Law to reach out to his people, to his flock, try to rebuild bridges. And at the appropriate time, I think, Cardinal Law will go into retirement or off into the sunset, depending on the Vatican. But that is a case where only the Vatican can discipline or remove a cardinal.

SHIELDS: Raymond, my own reporting taught -- tells me that Cardinal Law did offer his resignation to the Vatican...

ARROYO: Yes, he did.

SHIELDS: ... and that it was rejected.

ARROYO: Right.

SHIELDS: Why?

ARROYO: I think that's why. I think partially to give him an opportunity to reconcile with his flock, and, because of the ongoing litigation. Why put a new man in there to have to juggle with all of this that he has no background nor involvement in?

SHIELDS: Not fear of the domino theory that if, if, if all of a sudden there was a laity objection, almost insurrection, say, and this man has to go, that that would be a pattern elsewhere?

ARROYO: No, no, Mark, because you've seen other cases, in West Palm Beach, Florida, and in other places where a cardinal or a bishop was caught wrongdoing, and he was gone very quickly.

NOVAK: Let me, let me ask you a question as a, as a Catholic of recent vintage. Why do the, why should there be a U.S. conference of Catholic bishops? It seems to me like a very unnecessary body. It's, there's, there's no (UNINTELLIGIBLE), there's nothing in the church that I find that justifies it.

CARLSON: Let Rome do everything.

HUNT: Let Rome do everything.

NOVAK: I mean, why not? That's a, that's a, that's a good system.

ARROYO: There is -- look, if you talk to these bishops off the record, if you talk to them over dinner, they will tell you, they hate going to this conference. It's mired in a lot of legalese and thing -- the conference is totally out of control. The Iraqi statement wasn't written by the bishops. There's a staff that writes this stuff.

I think there's an increasing pressure to move away from the conference in the form that you see it today, and you may not see it for much longer. We will see what these bishops do.

SHIELDS: I'll tell you, it'd be a terrible loss for the Catholic Church, because they have stood alone on many, many issues...

CARLSON: OK, there...

SHIELDS: ... of moral and (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

(CROSSTALK)

HUNT: ... buffer against Rome.

CARLSON: Yes, (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

ARROYO: But these bishops...

(CROSSTALK)

ARROYO: ... need to regain...

CARLSON: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

ARROYO: ... their own voice and not rely on the staff, right?

CARLSON: But the church needs to stand for social justice, and I'm not sure that Rome is going to make that...

NOVAK: Well, well, that...

CARLSON: ... point.

NOVAK: ... there's a lot of people...

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: ... there's some, there's some Catholics who do, who believe that the first place of the church is not for social justice but for eternal redemption.

CARLSON: The meek...

ARROYO: It's the whole thing.

CARLSON: ... the meek shall inherit the earth, Bob.

(CROSSTALK)

HUNT: ... but the truth shall set you free, Margaret, you know...

SHIELDS: Whatever you do for the least of these, Bob. Remember that, that's the minimum wage.

CARLSON: (UNINTELLIGIBLE), right.

SHIELDS: Thanks for...

ARROYO: Amen.

SHIELDS: ... being with us. Raymond Arroyo.

(CROSSTALK)

SHIELDS: THE GANG will be back with our Outrages of the Week.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHIELDS: Now for the "Outrage of the Week."

Miss America contestants are renowned for their noncontroversial causes and worthy ambitions, such as in, What I really want most is world peace and an apartment of my own.

But the new Miss America, Erica Harold, who had been admitted to Harvard Law School, advocates a cause which upsets pageant officials no end. No, it's not legalization of marijuana or free love. What Erica Harold champions is the cause for sexual abstinence among young people.

Good for her, and boo for the pageant.

Bob Novak.

NOVAK: On Monday in Zimbabwe, an American tourist named Richard Gilman was shot dead at a roadblock by police officers. Asked for his passport, Gilman expressed irritation, and that may have doomed him in a land of state-sanctioned murder. The U.S. State Department expressed concern, but the Congressional Black Caucus has been silent.

The caucus often protested when Zimbabwe, the former Rhodesia, was ruled by a white minority. But black congressmen are mute about Robert Mugabe's bloody dictatorship even when a fellow American is murdered.

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson.

CARLSON: Mark, Citigroup's Sanford Weill has long seemed dependent on analyst Jack Grubman's rosy outlook to drum up business. But never more so than when Weill told Grubman to take a, quote, "fresh look at AT&T."

That look yielded an upgrade and (ph) AT&T's underwriting business. And for that, Grubman got Weill's help, including a $1 million donation from Citigroup, getting his twins into a tony New York nursery school.

Weill calls all the fuss about it nonsense, but it's not nonsense to the New York attorney general, who can document the exchange, nor to the poor souls who bought AT&T stock inflated by the cost of Weill's greasing the little Grubmans' path to Harvard.

SHIELDS: Al Hunt.

HUNT: Mark, I agree with Bob's outrage, I'm shocked.

In the Alabama governor's race, Democratic incumbent Don Siegelman finished 3,115 votes behind, a near miss. But this is different from Florida two years ago, when four and a half times as many people voted, and Al Gore in a dubious count was only 500 votes behind. There should have been a honest recount then. But there is no such provision in Alabama, and no election with a margin this wide has ever turned around. Governor Siegelman ought to accept defeat and bow out.

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

If you missed any part of our show, do not despair. You can catch the replay at 11:00 p.m. Eastern and again at 4:00 a.m. Eastern.

Coming up next, "CNN PRESENTS: Fried."

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Party Leaders in Congress; Interview With Lindsey Graham>

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