CNN INSIDE POLITICS
Some NATO Members Widen Dispute With U.S. Over Iraq; Interview With John McCain; Are Opponents of War in Retreat?
Aired February 10, 2003 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST: INSIDE POLITICS begins right now.
ANNOUNCER: Several NATO members just say no, widening their dispute with the U.S. over possible war with Iraq.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: It's unfortunate that they are in stark disagreement with the rest of their NATO allies. I think it's a mistake.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: That is unheard of. It's so far over the line that we've never seen anything like it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Senator John McCain on the record about Iraq and the space shuttle disaster.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No war on Iraq!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Are opponents of war in retreat? New polls out this hour show more movement in public opinion.
Live from New York, a Saturday night commentary on war, peace and pop culture.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CROWD (chanting): Bomb Iraq, bomb Iraq, bomb Iraq!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good luck.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Live from Washington, this is INSIDE POLITICS with Judy Woodruff.
WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us. Even as the Bush administration tries to resolve a rift within the NATO alliance, it's dismissing a new overture by Iraq. In this "News Cycle," Iraq says it has agreed unconditionally to allow surveillance flights by American U-2 spy planes, a key demand of U.N. inspectors. But Saddam Hussein added that the U.S. and Britain should not launch raids on Iraq during those surveillance flights.
France, Russia and Germany issued a joint statement today, calling for expanded U.N. arms inspections in Iraq. French President Jacques Chirac met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Paris, while the dispute over Iraq spilled into NATO headquarters. France, Germany and Belgium blocked a proposal to start planning to defend Turkey in the event of war with Iraq. U.S. says that Turkey will be defended if necessary one way or another.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUMSFELD: What we have to do for the United States is make sure that that planning does go forward, preferably within NATO, but if not bilaterally or multiple bilaterals, and we're already going about that task.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: NATO plans to hold another emergency meeting tomorrow on this deadlock.
Now, let's bring in our senior White House correspondent, John King. John, what are they saying at the White House about what looks to be a serious rift at NATO?
JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, two diplomatic setbacks for the president today. And in the case of that U-2 announcement by Iraq, certainly a complication to the president's plan. When it comes to NATO, White House officials say they're disappointed. You saw Secretary Rumsfeld there. He said it is 16 to three, three countries out of the 19 of NATO blocking these plans right now. What they are saying is that they hope in a week or so this can be overturned and reversed. In the meantime, though, that they'll make plans with Great Britain, perhaps with the Czech Republic and others to get Patriot missile batteries, to get some chemical and biological warfare equipment, other resources to Turkey if NATO does not change its mind. They are not saying here at the White House that they don't think this is an obstacle that they cannot overcome down the road.
What struck them most here at the White House today, Judy, was not the statement from the French, the Russians and the Germans saying give the inspector more time, but President Chirac in his statement said that he had seen no undisputed proof that Saddam Hussein still had weapons of mass destruction. One senior official here at the White House saying, quote, "he knows better." They're taken aback by that statement by President Chirac.
Mr. Bush, out of Washington as all this unfolded, speaking to religious broadcasters down in Nashville. He made no mention of the tough diplomacy the administration faces, but Mr. Bush in his speech to religious broadcasters did touch on what he called "one new wrinkle," a disturbing new wrinkle in the president's view, to Saddam Hussein's war preparations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Saddam Hussein has a different strategy. In violation of the Geneva Conventions, Saddam Hussein is positioning his military forces within civilian populations in order to shield his military and blame coalition forces for civilian casualties that he has caused. Saddam Hussein regards the Iraqi people as human shields, entirely expendable, when their suffering serves his purposes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Mr. Bush now back at the White House, and after a day in which it's been made abundantly clear still quite a bit of work to do when it comes to France, Germany, Russia and others. Mr. Bush will take some heart in the next hour, Judy. He meets here at the White House with the Australian prime minister, John Howard, a stalwart U.S. ally, a country that already has pre-positioned some troops in the region if it comes to war with Iraq.
WOODRUFF: John, for the rest of the week, how does the White House plan to sort of manage the messages as they lead up to this very important presentation on Friday at the U.N.?
KING: In public, the administration will make the case, time and time again, over the next several days that piecemeal cooperation from Iraq is simply not enough. Like the U-2 decision to allow those spy planes to fly over Iraq. The White House will say Iraq is attaching conditions and in any event, it's simply not enough. The Resolution 1441 calls for complete and total proactive compliance from Iraq. The Bush administration will make the case Iraq has not met that test.
And Judy, there's been a great deal of discussion about getting the strongest possible resolution out of the council. The White House would like a new resolution that endorses military force, but there are conversations under way that if they come to the conclusion that that simply cannot be obtained, of simply trying to get a resolution through the Security Council, getting the support of France, Russia and others to say that Iraq is in material breach, that if Dr. Blix says there's not full cooperation at that point, simply get a resolution that says Iraq is in material breach. The United States then could go from there and say it has carte blanche now to move to military action.
WOODRUFF: That's interesting that they're working on that as a fall-back. All right, John, thank you very much.
Well, it does seem with every passing day that President Bush is trying to further prepare Americans for war with Iraq. Our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, has been looking at our just released poll. Bill, what does this poll show about American support for going to war with Iraq just in the last few days?
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Judy, Americans are ready for war. Before President Bush's State of the Union speech last month, support for sending troops to Iraq had been dropping to a bare majority, 52 percent. After the president's speech, the number rose to 58 percent. Now, after Secretary of State Powell's report, it's up to 63. That's the highest level of support we've seen since just after the September 11 attacks. Most Americans believe President Bush has made a convincing case for war, and the U.S. has done all it can do diplomatically. The game is over.
A majority of Americans say the U.S. should invade Iraq within the next few weeks unless Saddam Hussein disarms, rather than sending more inspectors and allow them all the time they need. In other words, Judy, people favor the American plan over the European plan.
WOODRUFF: So the American public has resolved all of its doubts and its reservations here?
SCHNEIDER: Well, that's the surprise. No. Only 36 percent of Americans feel Iraq poses an immediate threat to the U.S. Most people say it's a long-term threat. And only 39 percent feel the U.S. should go ahead and invade even without a new vote to authorize the use of force from the U.N. Both of those numbers have been going up, but they are still not the prevailing opinion. People still have doubts and reservations. They've just set them aside.
WOODRUFF: So how much do you see division among Americans here, Bill?
SCHNEIDER: Oh, it does divide Americans, and, in particular, men and women. Look at the question of whether the U.S. should invade Iraq without a U.N. vote. A majority of men say, just do it. But only a quarter of women are willing to go it alone. You know the phrase men are from Mars, women are from Venus? It's true.
WOODRUFF: We've heard that expression. Bill, what about divisions by political party? What do you see?
SCHNEIDER: They are divided; Americans are divided by party. We asked people, which issue is more important to the country right now? The economy or Iraq? Now, more Americans continue to say the economy. For Democrats, the issue is the economy, stupid. I think they learned that from Bill Clinton. But Republicans say Iraq's the bigger deal. What's amazing here is Americans are ready for war even though war is not the number one issue on their minds.
WOODRUFF: OK. Bill Schneider, thanks very much with those latest poll numbers.
Well, Democrats with an eye on the Oval Office are giving and getting flack over possible war with Iraq. In today's "Campaign News Daily," potential White House candidate Gary Hart will discuss principled engagement in U.S. foreign policy tonight in San Francisco. Meanwhile, anti-war protesters are targeting Senator John Kerry's vote supporting military action in Iraq. About 100 demonstrators greeted Kerry as he arrived at Boston's JFK Library last night. Some charge that the Vietnam veteran is mincing his words and selling out on his earlier opposition to war. Another White House candidate, Howard Dean, is accusing Kerry, Gephardt and John Edwards of supporting war, then pretending that they are against it when they campaign in Iowa. Dean in is Iowa again today. Over the weekend, he talked to students about his opposition to a U.S. attack on Iraq now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOWARD DEAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need to have some morality in foreign policy, and I'm not opposed to unilateral action under certain circumstances. No president should ever shrink from using the military, because that is an option. But in this case, we have three significant dangers to the country, of which Saddam is the third, not the second or the first. North Korea is more dangerous, and the most dangerous of all is terrorism.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: Our Candy Crowley has also been on the trail in Iowa and she will report tomorrow on the anti-war movement there.
Former presidential contender John McCain is taking on U.S. allies trying to block war with Iraq.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: An election ploy on the part of the German leader, and in the case of the French, simply kind of classic French misbehavior.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: Up next, Senator McCain speaks out about war, and previews his committee's investigation of the shuttle Columbia disaster.
Also ahead, the mini-me factor in the Iraq debate. That's part of our "Taking Issue" segment.
JEFF GREENFIELD CNN SENIOR ANALYST: I'm Jeff Greenfield in New York. There was a sharp attack on the president's critics last Saturday night from a perhaps unlikely source.
WOODRUFF: Plus, drawing the Democrats. A top political cartoonist gives us an early sketch of the presidential race. This is INSIDE POLITICS, The Place For Campaign News.
WOODRUFF: War may be looming in Iraq, but Americans are worried about their pocketbooks. Coming up, our guests from the left and the right take issue over the Bush economic plan.
Plus, the jump at the pumps. We'll go live to Wall Street for a look at accelerating gas prices.
It's time to check your "IP IQ". "Who was the first African- American elected to head a major U.S. Political party?"
Was it a, Vernon Jordan, b, Donna Brazile, or c, Ron Brown.
We'll tell you the answer later on INSIDE POLITICS.
WOODRUFF: "On the Record Today," Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona, who is back in the United States after attending a security conference in Germany. McCain and fellow Senator Joe Lieberman led a delegation of U.S. lawmakers to that conference over the weekend in Munich. Much of its focus was on the showdown with Iraq.
A few hours ago, Senator McCain sat down with me to talk about the possible war with Iraq. My first question concerned Franco-German opposition to a war and comments by U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld that despite that opposition, U.S. plans to move against Iraq if it does not disarm. I asked the senator if he thinks that's the right posture for the U.S.
MCCAIN: I think it's probably the right thing to do. You have to understand that Mr. Schroeder, the chancellor of Federal Republic of Germany, used an anti-American card to get reelected. Then he continued on that path. The Germans will not engage in any military activity in Iraq. That's clear. The French have been remarkably recalcitrant.
And what I say is both the French and Germans and Belgians have vetoed, for the first time in history of the alliance, a planning for the emplacement of defensive weaponry in Turkey. I mean, that is unheard of. It's so far over the line that we've never seen anything like it. They've made clear their intentions to use whatever means to block our military action in Iraq no matter what we do. So they have to be, I think, treated for what it is, a -- an election ploy on the part of the German leader. And in the case of French, simply kind of classic French misbehavior.
WOODRUFF: Are you saying that what they're doing, France, Germany and Belgium, is doing irreparable damage to the NATO Alliance?
MCCAIN: I don't think so in the case of Germany. The Germans have helped us in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo. The French have tried to through a monkey wrench in everything we do. I think the Belgians will be fine. We'll have to deal with France in some way or another. The Germans, I'm confident, after the Iraqi issue is taken care of, will continue the 60-year partnership and friendship that we've enjoyed.
WOODRUFF: But it sounds like you're saying there could be something more -- there could be something irreparable in terms of the U.S./French relationship?
MCCAIN: I think there could be, but the French will always act solely in their self-interest and I hope they'll find their self- interest to be a contributing part of the Atlantic alliance.
WOODRUFF: Does this public split say about the United Nations? You have a Secretary General, Mr. Annan, saying a matter of Iraqi disarmament is an international question, not something that should be driven by one state, one country.
What does this say about the viability of the U.N.?
MCCAIN: I think that there's a number of questions. One, if any country is allowed to continue to violate Security Council resolutions, then they risk irrelevancy, just as a failure of the old League of Nations to act as regards to be a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) rendered them irrelevant. I think that it's important to recognize that most of the nations of Europe now support us. I think it's important to recognize that if a conflict ensues, we will have cooperation and assistance from many nations including those in the region. I think it was significant that eight countries wrote a letter supporting the United States, thereby changing the equation from the United States being isolated in Europe to the French and the Germans being isolated in Europe.
WOODRUFF: So the U.N. question, what?
MCCAIN: In the United Nations, I believe that we must enforce United Nations Security Council resolutions. This is the 17th. And if the United Nations refuses to enforce those, then the United Nations risks irrelevancy. Not the United States of America.
WOODRUFF: Coming up, my conversation with Senator McCain turns from Iraq to the Shuttle Columbia tragedy. I asked him if manned space flight will continue. His answer, ahead.
Plus, the battle over a controversial judicial appointment takes to the airwaves. Does a new ad make the case?
But first, sticker shock at the gas pumps. Greg Clarkin joins us live from Wall Street with a look at your money. Greg, hi.
GREG CLARKIN, CNN FINANCIAL NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Judy. Well, energy prices are soaring both at the pump and in the home. Now, according to a new survey, gasoline prices rose nearly 11 cents over the past two weeks. The average price for a gallon of gas is about $1.63 nationwide. Much of that gain is because crude oil prices have spiked in recent months. And that is due to the situation in Iraq and a lengthy strike in Venezuela.
Now, those problems are also affecting heating oil prices. They rocketed nearly 20 percent last week alone, to their highest level since 1979. And another factor raising heating costs, below normal temperatures this winter with another cold blast hitting the northeast this week.
Of course, there was a small reprieve for oil and gas prices today. Prices retreated a bit as war fears eased somewhat after Iraq agreed to allow U-2 surveillance flights. That was a key demand of U.N. weapons inspectors. The Iraq news also helped Wall Street to close higher after a four-week slide. The Dow Industrials rose 55 points; the Nasdaq composite, meanwhile, added 14 points.
That's the very latest from Wall Street.
Coming up, will John McCain run for reelection? More of his conversation with Judy Woodruff when INSIDE POLITICS returns.
WOODRUFF: Israel is paying tribute to its first astronaut, Ilan Ramon, who died in the space shuttle Columbia tragedy. Ramon's body arrived home today to a somber ceremony. Israeli leaders are calling him a national hero. Ramon and six American astronauts were killed nine days ago when the shuttle broke up in the atmosphere before a scheduled landing in Florida. Today, the investigation is moving forward. The NASA-appointed board conducting the probe is meeting with engineers at the Johnson Space Center.
Well, later this week, Senator John McCain's committee takes up the space shuttle Columbia tragedy. In my interview with the senator a little while ago, he talked about the tragedy and the future of space exploration. I began by asking him if he is concerned about whether safety was put on the back burner in any way because of budget constraints.
MCCAIN: I think that has to be one of the first questions that needs to be asked. I keep hearing from experts that there's no evidence of that, but there have been those allegations and that has to be addressed.
Judy, I think two things have to be done. One, find out the cause of the tragedy and what you need to fix it. Two, what is our policy as far as U.S. involvement in the exploration of space? I know of no one who says we're going to abandon that. But there are certainly serious policy questions like what's the role of unmanned space exploration? What's the future of the shuttle? What's the future of the space station? How much is it going to cost? And this is probably a long overdue policy debate that needs to be addressed.
WOODRUFF: Do you believe that there needs to be a serious look now at whether unmanned space exploration is the way to go for the time being?
MCCAIN: I think that we have to look at the viability of unmanned space exploration, but I think there will always be a role for manned space exploration. It just depends on what the division of labor is here. There's a certain romanticism associated with exploration of space, which is why one of the major factors why we'll continue. I'm not sure we'll ever get our money back for what we've done in the past or will do in the future, but unmanned space exploration is an issue that needs to be addressed. And in my initial view, probably needs to be expanded. WOODRUFF: Senator, broader question about you. You're involved in so many -- probably every important issue we can think of these days. You were just at this conference in Europe looking at European/U.S. relations, Iraq, NASA, the economy, tax questions. How do you see your role right now, broadly?
MCCAIN: I see my role as a person who has had an opportunity over the years to gain knowledge of these issues, and, therefore, some credibility, including national security issues. I think, also, that I have a certain national constituency that I bring with me to these issues because of my credibility. And I also believe that many of these issues cannot be resolved strictly along party lines. You're going to have to -- with 51/49 lineup in the Senate, you're going to have to build coalitions.
WOODRUFF: Why do you think virtually every one of the Democrats running for president wants to associate himself with you as closely as possible?
MCCAIN: Well, there's a certain group of voters in New Hampshire who probably would like to see the kind of a straight talk campaign that we waged in New Hampshire in the year 2000, but I think a lot of that is exaggerated. Particularly, the voters of New Hampshire will judge candidates on how they view them, not any association they might have with me. But I'm flattered.
WOODRUFF: Your Senate seat is up next year, in 2004. Already, a conservative group called the Club for Growth, which is not happy that you've criticized the president's tax cuts and other things, are thinking -- are trying to lure another Republican to run against you in the primary. Are you definitely going to run for reelection?
MCCAIN: Oh, I most likely will run for reelection. I haven't made the final decision yet. And I have to tell you, I'm not too concerned about the Club for Growth that practices everything I am opposed to as far as campaign financing is concerned, pouring millions of dollars of soft money into campaigns. So I'm really not concerned about them.
WOODRUFF: But you're -- you said most likely to run?
WOODRUFF: All right. Senator -- you're not ready to say for sure?
MCCAIN: Not yet, no.
WOODRUFF: But most likely, he will run again, he said.
Just ahead on INSIDE POLITICS, a conservative group goes to bat for one of President Bush's controversial judicial nominees, Miguel Estrada. We'll show you a new TV ad pushing the Hispanic attorney's nomination. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
WOODRUFF (voice-over): Time again to check your "I.P. I.Q."
Who was the first African-American elected to head a major U.S. political party? Was it A, Vernon Jordan, B, Donna Brazile, or, C, Ron Brown? The correct answer is C. On this date in 1989, Ron Brown was elected chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
WOODRUFF: Pushing the plan: Is President Bush making an effect case for his economic proposals? A take from the left and the right in a moment.
WOODRUFF: With us now: Maria Echaveste, former Clinton White House deputy chief of staff; and Betsy Hart of the Scripps Howard News Service.
Let me quickly read to you both something from "The Wall Street Journal" editorial page today -- quote -- "Three countries, France, Germany and their Mini-Me minion, Belgium, have moved from opposition to U.S. policy toward Iraq into formal and consequential obstructionism. If this is what the U.S. gets from NATO, maybe it's time America considered leaving this Cold War institution."
Betsy, should the U.S. think about leaving NATO?
BETSY HART, SCRIPPS HOWARD NEWS SERVICE: Well, I don't know, but I'm beginning to think that France and Germany should become of the axis of evil.
HART: I think what a lot people are missing in this is, it's not just about Germany and France. They're going to allow Turkey to be defended. They're eventually going to climb on board with us when we go into Iraq, because they can't afford not to.
This is about Germany and France trying to establish hegemony over Europe and over the European Union. And, in recent weeks and months, they've made several moves, including talking about a federation, a German/French federation, that suggests they're playing on anti-American sentiment in Europe for their own ends. It's not just about America and Iraq.
MARIA ECHAVESTE, FORMER CLINTON DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: I can't believe what I just heard, but, let me say, NATO is the most successful alliance.
WOODRUFF: What do mean, about the axis of evil?
ECHAVESTE: I know. I know.
But, still, the point is, NATO has been the most successful alliance, because there's been piece in Europe. And it took a lot to get Turkey to be part of NATO. And the moment when NATO is supposed to step in and help one of its partners to defend itself -- and, of course, the border is right there with Iraq -- for NATO to say no is more than just posturing by France and Germany or Belgium.
It's really to say to a country that has a high portion of Islamic population that you can't rely on NATO. So, this is a very significant action.
HART: Which is why it's not what's going to happen in the end.
And, in fact, when Turkey makes an actual request of NATO, which it will do, even the French have hinted today that they'll not deny a direct request. This is all posturing and it's going to come down to naught.
ECHAVESTE: I just think that the folks in Turkey are wondering, what did they get by joining NATO? Isn't this supposed to be about defending common borders?
WOODRUFF: While the president prepares the nation for possible war with Iraq, he's also pushing his economic plan.
Two quick things: a poll CNN did in the last few days. What's more important to the country? Fifty percent say the economy; 40 percent say Iraq. And we also have a quote from Senator Chuck Grassley, who is a key player on the Hill, saying he doesn't know what's going to happen to the president's proposal to do away with taxes on dividends.
Now, so my question is, is the president putting enough emphasis on the economy? Could it turn around and, in effect, bite him, because it matters more to people than Iraq?
ECHAVESTE: I think he's got to be very worried about the fact that the majority -- half of the population is worried about the economy. And he's got to remember what happened to his father about not paying attention to domestic issues.
And the fact is that, notwithstanding his State of the Union and his stimulus package and his proposals for tax cuts, the American people aren't satisfied that he really has a plan for working our way out of this hole that we're in, people losing jobs and not having the kind of economic growth.
HART: Yes, we are in a hole. There's no question about that. But I think the president's plate is a little bit full right now with the focus on Iraq. As soon as we move into Iraq, which I think is imminent, eventually, the focus is going to return to the economy. And he will be able to push that plan. He does have to go to bat for it.
WOODRUFF: But that could be a couple of months away.
HART: You're right. He has to go to bat for it. He has to be willing to use his political capital.
Are we going to get the full dividend cut? Probably not. There is going to have to be compromises. But a tax cut is what is the best way to help this economy. And the Democrats keep saying, well, it won't help it fast enough, but then they keep holding it up. So, I say, great, let's move it right now and get the economy the help it needs.
ECHAVESTE: Well, the important thing is, the White House has to be able to do more than one thing at a time. And while we were worry about foreign policy, we also worry about jobs and the economy.
HART: They'll multitask all right. They'll be fine.
WOODRUFF: You both got a word in.
All right, Betsy, Maria, thank you both. We appreciate it.
Meantime, Senate Democrats are expected to decide tomorrow whether to attempt a filibuster to block the nomination of Miguel Estrada to a federal appeals court. But it is looking doubtful that they will have the required 40 votes.
Our Jonathan Karl reports that Democrat John Breaux is backing Estrada, saying that a filibuster against a high-profile Hispanic nominee would look bad. TV ads touting Estrada will start running this week in several areas, including here in Washington. The ads are being paid for by the Committee for Justice. That's chaired by former White House counsel C. Boyden Gray.
Here's a look at one of the new ads.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, COMMITTEE FOR JUSTICE AD)
NARRATOR: America is a monument to the willing, where we can dream and build, despite race, creed or color. But there's still intolerance. President Bush nominated Miguel Estrada to be the first Hispanic ever to serve on the federal appeals court in Washington. But the radical left says he's not liberal enough.
For the first time in history, they're blocking his nomination with a filibuster. Call Senator John Edwards. Tell him it's time for intolerance to end. Anything less is offensive, unfair, and not the American way. (END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: If confirmed, Estrada would be the first Hispanic member of the court of appeals for the District of Columbia and a possible future Supreme Court nominee.
Coming up next: Politicians sometimes turn to late-night television to tweak their images, but can we also read between the laugh lines to gauge public attitudes about war?
WOODRUFF: Ever since Chevy Chase originated his caricature of a stumbling president Gerald Ford, "Saturday Night Live" has helped to shape Americans' political views.
More than 25 years later, our Jeff Greenfield is still reading between the lines of "SNL" skits.
GREENFIELD (on camera): Remember the clue we all got a few weeks back that Al Gore wasn't going to run again? It was his off-the-wall hosting of "Saturday Night Live." The cheerfully risky, caution-to- the-wind performance was a clear tipoff.
Well, there was another clear political signal on the most recent "Saturday Night Live," a signal that at least one significant cultural or countercultural voice was aiming its barbs not at the administration's stand on Iraq, but at its critics.
(voice-over): In the opening sketch, Colin Powell -- OK, that's Darrell Hammond -- is finishing his case against Iraq. Then the other U.N. members comment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE")
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Clearly, the most important thing right now is to do nothing. And the sooner the better.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: My government would like to propose the following: that we adjourn this special session of the Security Council and all go to lunch at an extremely expensive restaurant, with the U.N. picking up the tab.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: In view of our diplomatic immunity, I would like to propose that, after lunch, we head over to Cartier for an afternoon of shoplifting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GREENFIELD: Again and again, the U.N. is painted as a collection of smug, venal dilettantes, not precisely a liberal view of that international body.
In a later sketch, Matthew McConaughey appears as a speaker at a demonstration. He's trying to fire up the crowd that seems increasingly confused about just what it is there for.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE")
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: We're here. We're queer. Get used to it!
MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY, ACTOR: No, no, no, not exactly.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Save the unborn children!
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Yes, save them for future wars!
MCCONAUGHEY: Listen, listen, will the pro-lifers please stick to the program?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: We must feed the children!
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Yes, feed them to the whales.
MCCONAUGHEY: Hey, we need to show our government and the world that we're united here for one cause.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GREENFIELD: And, at the end, after McConaughey finally gets their attention, they respond at least with a united voice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE")
UNIDENTIFIED ACTORS AND ACTRESSES: Bomb Iraq! Bomb Iraq! Bomb Iraq! Bomb Iraq! Bomb Iraq! Bomb Iraq! Bomb Iraq! Bomb Iraq!
MCCONAUGHEY: Good luck.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GREENFIELD (on camera): Now, this isn't the first time that show has offered a surprising political view. Back in 1991, it aimed its darts not at the Bush administration, but on the press corps for its habit of asking astonishingly stupid questions during a live briefing.
Now, maybe a late-night comedy show is not the most political straw in the wind. But the fact that a show that gained fame by mercilessly satirizing a string of American presidents is now pointing its guns at the president's adversaries is worth at least a few straws in the wind.
Jeff Greenfield, CNN, New York.
WOODRUFF: Well, a question: How is President Bush handling the showdown with Iraq? I will ask his predecessor, Bill Clinton, tomorrow about that and what he's working on lately, when the former president joins us on INSIDE POLITICS.
Still to come: Is there a pattern to be found in some of the disasters and scandals that have rocked the United States in recent years? That's a question our Bruce Morton checked into. We'll hear what he has to say just ahead.
WOODRUFF: As Congress prepares to hold hearings on the breakup of the shuttle Columbia, the tragedy is playing out in an-all-too familiar fashion, bringing to mind the Challenger disaster, as well as some high-profile scandals.
Our national correspondent Bruce Morton sees a pattern.
BRUCE MORTON, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There were hints.
The General Accounting Office, Congress' investigative agency, warned in 2001 that the shuttle work force had declined to the point where it reduced NASA's ability safely to support the program. And last year, an expert NASA panel warned that safety troubles loomed for the shuttle. Its chairman, Dr. Richard Blomberg, told Congress, "I have never been as worried for space shuttle safety as I am right now," though he said, after the Columbia accident, he was expressing long-term worry.
In response to the criticism, five of the panel members claimed they were removed from the board. And a sixth one left in protest. A retired NASA engineer also wrote the president about what he said were safety problems, but the White House science adviser didn't act on his complaint.
9/11, FBI staff attorney Coleen Rowley wrote Director Robert Mueller to complain the bureau wasn't acting on requests from her Minneapolis field office to investigate Zacarias Moussaoui, now indicted as a co-conspirator. A memo from a Phoenix agent urging an investigation of Middle Eastern men at U.S. flight schools brought no action either. Nobody was saying, hey, I know of a September plot, but investigations might -- might -- have turned up something.
Enron? Former Vice President Sherron Watkins wrote then Chairman Kenneth Lay, "I am incredibly nervous we will implode in a wave of accounting scandals." And later, of course, Enron did.
And, back in the 1980s, Roger Boisjoly and some engineers at Morton Thiokol, warned that, in cold weather, the O-rings in the rocket joints the company made could contract and leak fuel, leading to an explosion. They were overruled, but that's what happened when the shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after liftoff back in 1986.
(on camera): So, whistles blow. The trick is figuring out which ones to heed. Ignore all the warnings and you're courting trouble. Listen to all the warnings and you'll probably hide under the dining room table and never come out again. What color is today's terror alert, anyway?
Businesses don't like whistle-blowers. They're not team players. But sometimes, of course, they're right.
Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.
WOODRUFF: A sobering thought.
Still ahead: the Democratic presidential candidates in black and white. Who has the most eye-catching features and who's tough to draw? Political cartoonist Mike Luckovich will give us the big picture.
WOODRUFF: With six Democrats already in the presidential race, and perhaps more on the way, political cartoonists are trying to get each candidate's features down pat.
Mike Luckovich of "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution" showed us his process for drawing the six-pack.
MIKE LUCKOVICH, CARTOONIST, "THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION": What I do with these guys is, I've drawn most of them before, but I'm not comfortable drawing them. The more you draw them, the more comfortable you get.
Now, the thing about Gephardt is, he lacks eyebrows. He's got little tiny ones, but you don't really see them. So, the question is, can you be an effective president without eyebrows? The more I draw these guys, the easier it gets.
I'm a little disappointed in Al Sharpton, because he's trimmed his hair. And that bothers me a little bit, because I liked when it was up higher and really long in back. Now it's just sort of long in back. I think that Sharpton will be the most interesting. He will just add some fun and excitement to this group. I'm getting close to my favorite part, the hair. He's disappointed all of us cartoonists with the flattening process that he's gone through. He still has this thing in the back. There aren't many African-Americans that you see with mullets.
Not much is known about Howard Dean. What was he? Governor of Vermont, I believe. And I don't know how tall he is, but I get the feeling that he's not very tall. So, I'm not going to make him huge. I think he's a former doctor as well. From what I understand, from what I've heard, he likes to say what's on his mind. So, that would be refreshing. The problem with this guy is, he's a bit average- looking. He doesn't have the long hair in back like Sharpton. He does have eyebrows.
I'm going to do John Kerry. This guy has a gigantic chin, got a very long face. But he's got good hair. I really think that he would be one of the easier candidates to draw. I drew him at one of the Democratic Conventions. I was able to just whip his drawing out so quickly, because his face is sort of shaped like a string bean. It's just so long. If you draw a string bean and put eyes on it and a lot of hair, you've got John Kerry.
Now, the problem for a cartoonist with John Edwards is, he's a good-looking guy. He reminds me of a Ken doll. He'd be like the presidential Ken. But he's very smart. You know, what's even weird? As I was looking at photos of him, if he had a lot of blonde hair, he would look something like Britney Spears. I'm not kidding.
The thing about Edwards I've noticed is, when he talks, he does this deal with his hand, which is -- that's J.F. Kennedy. And he's really good at it. He doesn't even have to look when he does it. He just does it. So, I'm going to draw him.
The thing about Lieberman is that he looks vaguely like Alfred E. Newman, the "Mad" magazine character. Lieberman is -- and I don't mean this as a putdown -- his features are slightly goofy. That's always a plus for a cartoonist. If you can get kind of the eye and kind of get their look, he tries to hide those ears.
These guys really are fun to draw. This is the first time I've ever actually drawn them all at once. Actually, all these candidates are really cartoonable. I almost feel like Trista from "The Bachelorette." I've got all these great guys to choose from and it's going to be hard to say goodbye to the others.
This is going to be a wonderful political year. There are some very colorful candidates here. I'm really looking forward to it.
WOODRUFF: Ken doll, string bean, Alfred E. Newman. Just wait until these candidates get hold of you, Mr. Luckovich.
That's it for INSIDE POLITICS.
Once again, tomorrow, former President Bill Clinton will be our guest.
I'm Judy Woodruff. Thanks for joining us.
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