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Canadian Thaw?

Aired December 1, 2004 - 16:30   ET


ANNOUNCER: CROSSFIRE. On the left, James Carville and Paul Begala; on the right, Robert Novak and Tucker Carlson.

In the CROSSFIRE: As President Bush wraps up his visit with our neighbors to the north, why do so many Canadians love to hate the United States? Today, President Bush and Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin traveled to Halifax and recalled how Canadians reached out to American travelers stranded there on September 11.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So, let me say directly to the Canadian people and to all of you here today who welcomed Americans, thank you for your kindness to America in an hour of need.

PAUL MARTIN, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: The terrible events of September 11 redefined many realities in the world and on our own continent. We're in a war against terrorism, and we're in it together, Americans and Canadians.

ANNOUNCER: Can the bonds of 9/11 be rebuilt even as Americans and Canadians fight over issues ranging from the invasion of Iraq to the battle over mad cow disease?

And has the John Kerry campaign team decided to jump back into the middle of Ohio's election recount fight?



ANNOUNCER: Live from the George Washington University, Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson.



Here's news from nowhere. George W. Bush is unpopular among community college professors in Canada. Of course, he's also unpopular in France and Syria and Iran and North Korea. And so the point is -- well, actually, there is no point. But taking Canada's side against Bush or just about anyone else makes American liberals feel superior, and so they continue to do it.

PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST: But, of course, it is our president, Mr. Bush, and our country who needs allies and troops for our war in Iraq. Perhaps that's why Mr. Bush was in Canada today, but will he persuade our neighbors to the north to join him in his debacle in the desert?

We'll have a debate on President Bush's road trip to Canada in a moment. And then we'll find out why some people in Ohio are so reluctant to count all the votes there. The man some are calling the Katherine Harris of Ohio will step into the CROSSFIRE.

But, first, the best little political briefing in television, the CROSSFIRE "Political Alert."

White House aides say that President Bush spoke in Halifax, Nova Scotia today, rather than at the Canadian House of Commons, so he could thank Halifax residents who took in Americans after 9/11.

Baloney. The truth is the president was worried about hecklers in Parliament. Now, think about that. The most powerful man in the world, who can rain death and destruction on whole nations with a mere word, a man who's invaded two countries so far, is afraid of members of the Canadian Parliament?

W., my man, where's the swagger? Where's the cockiness? Where's that frat boy "Animal House" arrogance we have come to expect you from, bud? Perhaps Mr. Bush would have felt a little more bold if he could have addressed Parliament while sitting on Dick Cheney's lap.


CARLSON: And, you know, that's legal in Canada, by the way.


CARLSON: I can't quite keep track of your attacks on Bush. He's too arrogant. He's not arrogant enough. He doesn't care about the rest of the world. He cares too much. What is it? I know, without George W. Bush, you would have no lodestar.

BEGALA: He's afraid of criticism. He's afraid of criticism.


BEGALA: Just like he has town hall meetings -- he has town hall meetings with carefully selected -- they have to give blood first to the Bush campaign before they can come.

CARLSON: The Bush campaign is over, Paul.


BEGALA: He's never been on CROSSFIRE. When is he coming to the CROSSFIRE?

CARLSON: Neither has John Kerry.

But your position has always been that he doesn't care about criticism enough, that the rest of the world doesn't like us, but he doesn't care, and that's the problem.



BEGALA: No, that he's afraid of criticism, and so he shuts it out.

CARLSON: Boy, I just can't keep track.

BEGALA: It's easy.

CARLSON: You need to like give me a flowchart on what is wrong with Bush.

BEGALA: I will. I'll provide that.


CARLSON: All right.

Well, the presidential campaign ended almost exactly a month ago today -- tomorrow, actually. Unfortunately, nobody told John Edwards this. For the past three days, Edwards, who you may remember once ran for the vice president of the United States of America, has been barnstorming through North Carolina, his stated mission, to -- quote -- "thank the voters" of his home state. That's right, the very same voters who went overwhelmingly for George W. Bush on November 2, leaving Edwards unemployed and all but forgotten.

Let's be honest here. John Edwards hates, loathes and resents North Carolina voters. How could he not? They rejected him. They humiliated him. He played to their class resentment, their regional pride. And, in the end, they could not have cared less. On Election Day, they voted not for the son of a mill worker but for the son of a U.S. president. No doubt about it. John Edwards despises his own state, and yet he's sucking up anyway, which can mean only one thing. The campaign of 2008 has already begun.

BEGALA: So, Dr. Carlson, you have stared into his psyche.

CARLSON: He would have to hate them.


BEGALA: And you have seen...

CARLSON: How could he not hate them?

BEGALA: Is he the son of -- Bush was the son of a mill worker, right?

CARLSON: No, I think it was -- I heard -- this is just what I heard, that John Edwards may be the son of a mill worker.

(CROSSTALK) CARLSON: How could he not hate them?

BEGALA: It's called good manners. The state gave him six years in the Senate. They were awfully good to him then. He was quite a successful senator. I think he's got a great future ahead of him. What is wrong with going around and telling people thank you? It's just good manners, actually.



CARLSON: He actually does have good -- I must say, John Edwards does have good manners. But he must be so angry at them. They humiliated him. He couldn't even win his own state. Paul, it's sad. You know that.

BEGALA: Well, in 2000, Bush couldn't win his own country. He finally did now in 2004, at least, to his credit.


BEGALA: Well, ever since the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal broke, the Bush administration has told us two things, first, that U.S. military officials initially learned of the abuse in January of 2004, and, second, that the problems were confined to Abu Ghraib.

Well, a secret report uncovered by today's "Washington Post" shows that both statements are false. The top brass was informed of the abuse back in December of 2003 and they were told that the abuse of Iraqi prisoners went beyond Abu Ghraib. The secret report also predicted that the abuse of prisoners would fuel the insurgency, which it has.

We've just ended the bloodiest month in Iraq since April. President Bush's policy in Iraq is obvious. He's presiding over a government that is lying as our soldiers are dying. And it's tragic.

CARLSON: I don't think the problem with our Iraq policy is that we're too mean to Iraqi prisoners. I don't think, A, that's the problem.

And, B, I don't think there's any evidence at all that the outrages, the abuses at Abu Ghraib -- and they were outrages -- are fueling the insurgency. The insurgency is being fueled with people who hate us for other reasons, our policy in the Middle East, the fact that we're American, the fact we're there in the first place.


BEGALA: The guy who wrote this report is a credible man, a long history in the American military, now retired, predicted that this would make the insurgency worse, and it is. There's many more insurgents today than there were when we started.

CARLSON: There was an insurgency raging before those abuses came to light and there would have been one raging regardless of those abuses.


CARLSON: Another installment, yet another installment, from the "Whatever happened to?" file. It's a thick file.

John Kerry, you may recall the name, dimly. Along with Tom Dewey and Mike Dukakis, he once ran for president, unsuccessfully, as it turned out. Second place is not much of an honor, but it is worth remembering, if only for historical reasons. That is, anyway, the position of Diana McGee. She is the curator of the Gallery of Also- Rans. It's a privately run museum in Norton, Kansas, and the world's only repository of portraits of presidential losers.

On November 3, McGee decided to add Kerry's portrait to those of other barely remembered failed candidates. But, alas, getting a 16x20 black and white picture of John Kerry is harder than she had imagined. The Library of Congress didn't have one. Kerry's staff couldn't come through either. To this day, the museum has no picture of John Kerry, leading some to wonder whether John Kerry ever actually existed at all.

And that may not be such a bad thing, after all, though. History can't judge you if no one remembers you.


BEGALA: Now, the question is, again, for 2000, did they have the picture of Bush up there? Because he came in second in 2000, and, to his great credit, he won this time around.

CARLSON: I can't believe you are still complaining about the 2000...


BEGALA: Why are you still banging on John Kerry?

CARLSON: I'm not. I feel so sad for him.

BEGALA: This is now the conservatives' only option. You can't defend Bush, and so you attack John Kerry?


CARLSON: Actually, I've never -- actually, I've never hated John Kerry. I feel sorry for him, as I do for all losers. And I just wish he would have the dignity...



CARLSON: Seriously -- the dignity to do what a good loser does, which is teach at a community college and never be heard from again, like Mike Dukakis and Al Gore. BEGALA: He's serving with grace and dignity in the U.S. Senate. And you'll hear a lot more from him.

Well, after spending his first term pursuing a foreign policy that made enemies and alienated people, President Bush tried something new today, sucking up to Canada. We'll see if the man who was so successful in luring pledges to the Deke house years ago can persuade Canadians to join him on a road trip to Baghdad.

Also, there's another controversy over the voting in Ohio. We'll get reaction from Ohio's secretary of state in the CROSSFIRE just ahead.

And then, who do you think would win in a face-off between these two "Jeopardy" champs? Well, if you're up to the challenge, stay tuned and find out later in CROSSFIRE.


ANNOUNCER: Join Carville, Begala, Carlson and Novak in the CROSSFIRE. For free tickets to CROSSFIRE at the George Washington University, call 202-994-8CNN or visit our Web site. Now you can step into the CROSSFIRE.



BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

It was billed as a goodwill visit, but has President Bush's trip to Canada done anything to improve relations with the country that was once among America's strongest allies, but is now the scene of huge anti-American protests?

Joining us from Ottawa, Canada, author and journalist Andrew Cohen, and, from New York City, which is in America, syndicated columnist Joel Mowbray.



BEGALA: Guys, good to see you.

CARLSON: Mr. Cohen, thanks a lot for joining us.

I'm really struck by the asymmetrical nature of this battle between the U.S. and Canada. Canadians seem engorged with hatred for the United States. Most Americans seem too busy leading happy lives even to notice. And I wonder if that doesn't incite Canadians more and this isn't some attempt, sort of sad, misbegotten attempt to get our attention, if Canada isn't like sort of like a stalker, obsessed with us. We barely notice it. Do you think that's what's going on?

ANDREW COHEN, CANADIAN AUTHOR/JOURNALIST: I wouldn't call it a battle and I wouldn't call Canadians engorged with hatred, though I like the metaphor, Tucker. It sounds good.

I think Canadians have some reservations about United States and Iraq. I think we disagree with the war in Iraq and felt that perhaps that was the wrong course. And in that, we would be like a lot of other countries around the world. So, Canadians have expressed reservations. President Bush has come here, I wouldn't call it sucking up, as you put it earlier. I think he's here to do what presidents do with your leading trading partner and your neighbor. You try and lead happy lives together.

And I think that's what he's done and tried to address a number of irritants in the relationship, and we'll see what happens. But I think he made that attempt today, and it's what presidents do.

BEGALA: Well, Joel, let's assess how well he has done.

Our president today sent another 1,500 troops into Iraq. Of course, just a few weeks ago, in the campaign, he told us we wouldn't need more troops. Today, he sent 1,500 more. How many do you suppose he'll get out of Canada after this blitzkrieg, this charm offensive to the great white north?

MOWBRAY: You know, Paul, I think the thing that people really have to look at is not necessarily whether the Canadians hate us or if the Canadian political elite has problems with George W. Bush.

When it comes to security matters, actually, the Bush administration has been fairly successful at getting Canada to work with us better on border security. Remember, we do share a massive border between us that had been essentially unpatrolled and unguarded before 9/11. And even a while for after 9/11, the gaping loopholes were I think astonishing.

Now, is Canada where it needs to be in working with us? No. But they're a lot better than they were before. And I think you have to give a lot of credit to Bush administration on that.


BEGALA: How many troops, do you think? How many troops -- how many troops do you think the president will get out of the Canadians?


MOWBRAY: And, Paul, aren't you the one who says that Iraq is a diversion from the war on terror?



MOWBRAY: ... Bush really be looking at the war on terror?

BEGALA: Of course, but he's...

MOWBRAY: And that's where Bush is getting the best results with Canada, is in keeping bad guys out from crossing down from Canada.

BEGALA: How many troops is he getting? Not even a Mountie. Not even a Mountie.

CARLSON: Mr. Cohen, I want to read you a quote from a woman named Nora Jacobson. She's an American sociologist living in Toronto. For whatever reason, she lives in Canada. And she wrote something...


COHEN: She might like the weather, Tucker.


CARLSON: Now, that's perverse. Come on.

But she wrote something that I think is interesting and insightful -- quote -- "In officially multicultural Canada, hostility toward Americans is the last socially acceptable expression of bigotry and xenophobia. It would be impossible to say the things about any other nationality that Canadians routinely say, both publicly and privately, about Americans."

Don't you see the irony in tolerant Canadians expressing hate toward the United States, really a kind of bigotry, and aren't you embarrassed by it?

COHEN: First of all, I'm not embarrassed by it, because I wouldn't call it hatred at all. And it depends what polls you want to look at.

If you're saying, is there opposition to George Bush in Canada, there is, as there is in Britain, France and around the world. There are people who disagree with George Bush and his multi -- and his unilateralist foreign policy. Canada believes in going at it a different way. I wouldn't call it hatred at all. I would just say it's...

CARLSON: Well, wait a second. You're describing a civil debate, which I understand and welcome. We have them here on CROSSFIRE.

However, you've had members of Parliament, you've had government ministers calling the American people morons. You had a member of Parliament, Ms. Parrish, stomping on a Bush doll. That's not civil debate. That's bigotry. That's hatred.


COHEN: And you know something? Carolyn Parrish, the one M.P. that did it, was thrown out of caucus and has been essentially disowned by the party she was a member of.

As for members of Cabinet, I don't recall anything that was said about George Bush that was particularly negative. Would George Bush be responsible for everything said by every congressmen in the House of Representatives in the United States Senate? Of course not. Are there differences of opinion in Canada? Of course there are.

But the idea of suggesting that it is hatred is going a long way and it's way out there.

BEGALA: Joel, let me ask you about some of the substance. There are issues. Iraq, we've already mentioned. Also, beef, timber. Any sense that the president is actually going to move on any of these issues, or was this just window dressing, just going up there and trying to suck up to them?

MOWBRAY: Paul, I'm not sure what you're looking at here as far as the Bush administration relationship with Canada.

There actually has been a lot of progress over the last four years initiated by the Bush administration. We'll get there on trade, as we have on security issues. But something else that we have -- when we're talking about Canadian hatred of the United States, I don't think the Canadian hatred of the United States is any different from the Canadian left than it is from the American left. Look at Michael Moore and I challenge you, do you think that he is any more anti- American or less anti-American than the Canadian left? And I don't think so.


BEGALA: That's a very good point. Basically, half of America hates Bush. Why should we blame Canada for hating him as well? That's a good point, Joel.

MOWBRAY: And it's the same kind of hatred that you find in France, that you find...

BEGALA: It suggests a remarkable failure of leadership, doesn't it? Ronald Reagan was actually beloved around the world, as was JFK, FDR, by the way, Bill Clinton.


MOWBRAY: Actually, no, Paul.

I'm not sure which history books you have been consulting, but Ronald Reagan in fact was not loved around the world. He was mocked by many in the international community. The left hated him. The socialists hated him. Anybody left of center in most countries actually couldn't stand Ronald Reagan, nor could the leaders of Eastern Europe, because he was bringing a message of freedom and hope to them.


MOWBRAY: And, look, absolutely, Ronald Reagan took a stand and he was hated.


BEGALA: But you've got your history fundamentally wrong. CARLSON: Yes. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. Mr. Cohen...

COHEN: You know, we have we have $1.5 billion a day cross our borders. We have enormous historic and geographical ties.

This is probably the most successful bilateral relationship in the world. Are there differences? Yes, there are. And I guess it's in the interest of some people to exaggerate them. But, by and large, this is an enormously successful relationship. And that's why George Bush was here. I think he's saying, trade is important. Security is important. Security is particularly important to you now. It trumps trade, as it should.

And I think, as Joel said, Canada has taken a number of measures to secure its border. Meanwhile, we're in places like Afghanistan in a real show of force militarily and in terms of our diplomacy and our aid to do real -- the real work of nation building that other nations are not doing.

CARLSON: I think you're making very strong points, absolutely, undeniable points, actually. And I think, fundamentally, the relationship is solid between the two.

But there is this undercurrent of resentment from Canadians toward the United States. And, as I said, it's not reciprocated because most Americans are barely aware that Canada exists.

MOWBRAY: Tucker, I think it's always been there.


CARLSON: It has been there. But I want to get at the heart of why it exists.

Isn't it because Canada is ultimately pretty dependent on the United States? The United States is not in the end pretty dependent on Canada, don't you think?


MOWBRAY: Yes, I wonder, though, Tucker...

BEGALA: Wait. Let's let Mr. Cohen answer that.

MOWBRAY: ... if it actually stems from the same kind of resentment that the French feel for the United States, in that they feel like their culture is being dominated by the United States, that they don't have an authentic Canadian culture.


BEGALA: That's what the red states say. They are sick of having culture dominating them, too.


BEGALA: ... American right, which whines about popular culture.


MOWBRAY: ... have to be Canadian artists. That's the reason why Bryan Adams and...


BEGALA: Canadians are like American conservatives, whining about American culture.


CARLSON: Mr. Cohen, I just want to give you the last word.

MOWBRAY: They're having quotas and they're trying to protect their culture through government programs. That is not something that conservatives would do.

CARLSON: All right.

Mr. Cohen.

COHEN: Look, we can all be psychologists about where the United States is and where Canada is on each other.

You're right. You're right. Americans really don't care much what Canada does. Canada cares what the United States does, because we live in that universe. We would have preferred John Kerry's world. It was a world in which the United Nations mattered, and we support that kind of thing.

But there is -- as I said earlier, there is a deep, lasting relationship. Yes, there is a sense of moral superiority in Canada about the United States. Yes, there is a residual dislike for George Bush. He's not our kind of guy. He's a Southwestern Christian conservative. And we tend to be more like Vermont.

But, you know, there are lots of people in the United States who feel exactly the way Canadians do.

CARLSON: It's hard to believe you just admitted that. I hope for your sake we don't invade you.

Andrew Cohen, thanks very much.


CARLSON: Joel Mowbray in New York, thank you.

COHEN: Only if you're leading the charge, Tucker.

CARLSON: I will. I'll be there, man.

(APPLAUSE) CARLSON: When will it be over in Ohio? The Kerry campaign is jumping back into the recount fight -- nothing else to do, apparently. We'll get reaction from Ohio's secretary of state next.

And what led to gunfire in the vicinity of Colin Powell during a visit to Haiti today? Wolf Blitzer has the latest right after this.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.

Coming up at the top of the hour, more U.S. troops heading to Iraq, what our sources are saying about who will go and when. We're live at the Pentagon.

Gunshots outside Haiti's presidential palace with Secretary of State Colin Powell inside, a frightening story. We'll have details.

Plus, a hero's story from ground zero to Iraq and his ultimate sacrifice.

All those stories, much more, only minutes away on "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS."

Now back to CROSSFIRE.

CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

We bet you thought you'd seen the last of John Kerry's flip- flopping for a while, but think again. Four weeks after conceding that President Bush indeed won the election, Kerry is joining the fight for a recount in the state of Ohio.

Joining us from Columbus is Ohio's secretary of state and a great man, Ken Blackwell.

BEGALA: Ken, it's good to see you again. Thank you for joining us.

First, if you ever need somebody to defend your decency and integrity from the left, I'm happy to do so. But in the name of that decency and integrity, please tell me you're going to recuse yourself, because you're not only secretary of state. You're the co-chairman of the Bush campaign, a party at interest. Please tell me you're going to step aside and let career professionals recount the votes in Ohio.

KENNETH BLACKWELL, OHIO SECRETARY OF STATE: Paul, I think what you're asking is a rhetorical question, because you know, as a professional, that I don't recount. That's actually done at the county level.

And let's be clear about this. At the county level in Hamilton County, where Cincinnati is located, the Democrat Party chairman is also the chairman of the board of elections there. The same is true in Summit County, where Akron is located.

BEGALA: That sounds like a no.

BLACKWELL: And the same in Franklin County. That's where the votes are being counted. I can't recuse myself from a process that I don't participate in.

I certify the recount. The recount will in fact take place at county level. So the answer is no, but it's a no with an understanding of how it works in the state of Ohio. I don't hear anybody saying that the chairman of the Ohio Republican Party, who was the chairman of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, should recuse himself. He was an activist in the reelection of Kerry, just as his Democratic counterpart -- in the election of Bush -- just as his Democratic counterparts were involved in the campaign for John Kerry.

CARLSON: But, Mr. Blackwell, you may want to rethink that, because Jesse Jackson just does not agree with you.


CARLSON: And I want to read a quote from Jesse Jackson that you might want to take to heart. He says -- quote -- "We cannot address the critical issues of the fairness of the votes in the Ukraine if we cannot address them in Ohio."

My question, does this make you Vladimir Putin, to continue the analogy?


BLACKWELL: Mr. Jackson suffers from a serious case of attention deficit disorder. He wasn't getting enough...


BLACKWELL: He wasn't getting enough attention, so he put himself in the middle of a process that was already and is working, and is working just fine. The Kerry campaign...

BEGALA: Well, it's working just fine for Mr. Bush, anyway. What about the people whose votes aren't being counted?


BLACKWELL: The Kerry campaign -- look, let me just give you a real clear case.

Mr. Jackson complains about the provisional ballots in Ohio. In Ohio, we're validating those ballots at about a 80 percent clip. In Cook County, Illinois, his home county, they threw out 48 percent of the provisional ballots. He has not had one press conference. He has not had one challenge.

Let me just tell you. It's very clear to me that Mr. Jackson, if he had passed, you know, that Greek philosopher with that lamp...

BEGALA: Ken, I'm sorry to do this to you, but I have to cut you off.

Ken Blackwell, I'm sorry.


BEGALA: We did not give you very much time, but we gave you the exact same amount of time that we gave Reverend Jackson yesterday, so at least it's...

BLACKWELL: That's fine. We'll keep hope alive. We'll keep hope alive.

BEGALA: We were equally unfair to you both.

CARLSON: And you did a lot better, I have to say. Ken Blackwell...

BEGALA: Ken Blackwell, Ohio's secretary of state and co-chairman of the Bush campaign in that state, thank you very much for joining us.


BLACKWELL: Good to be with you.

BEGALA: Next, a little "Jeopardy" advice one champion to another, right here on the CROSSFIRE.

Stay with us.


BEGALA: Well, it had to come to an end. And it did last night.

After winning $2.5 million on "Jeopardy," Utah software developer Ken Jennings was finally defeated, which means the only undefeated "Jeopardy" champion, at least in this room, is our own Tucker Carlson, who stomped and slapped the famous Bob Woodward of "The Washington Post" and Peggy Noonan of "The Wall Street Journal" and wherever else she writes.

Tucker, you are the only undefeated champion.


CARLSON: Paul, I can't even respond to that.

BEGALA: Congratulations. You...

CARLSON: Well, thank you very much. I didn't win $2.5 million, just $2 million. That was it.

BEGALA: From the left, I am Paul Begala. That's it for CROSSFIRE.

CARLSON: And from the right, I'm Tucker Carlson. Join us again tomorrow for yet more CROSSFIRE.

But stay tuned now for "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS." And have a great night.



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