THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP
HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN
JOINED BY: MICHAEL BARONE, TONY BLANKLEY,
ELEANOR CLIFT, AND JAMES WARREN
TAPED: FRIDAY, JULY 14, 2000
BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF JULY 15-16, 2000
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THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.
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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: NAACP, take me; I'm yours.
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX): (From videotape.) While some in my party have avoided the NAACP, and while some in the NAACP have avoided my party -- (laughter, applause) -- I am proud to be here. I am proud to be here.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Governor George Bush's speech to the NAACP this week was to an organization Republican Bob Dole declined to speak to during his 1996 presidential bid. The governor hoped his appearance would highlight a different brand of conservatism.
GOV. BUSH: (From videotape.) Discrimination is still a reality, even when it takes different forms. Instead of Jim Crow, there's racial redlining and profiling. Instead of "separate but equal," there is "separate and forgotten." Strong civil rights enforcement will be a cornerstone of my administration. (Applause.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well stated, Governor. But it will take more than uplifting prose for you to win over the African American vote, 81 percent of whom currently favor Gore over you.
Question: First Bush meets with the gays, now with the NAACP. And of course, he relates well to Latinos -- extremely well, for a Republican. Is he in danger of confusing voters about which party will nominate him, Michael Barone?
MR. BARONE: I don't think there's going to be any confusion on that score, John. I mean, what's happened is that Bush has pretty well sewed up the Republican vote. Voters who identify themselves as Republicans are about 90 percent for Bush. That's -- he's doing better among them than Gore is doing among self-identified Democrats.
And I think, you know, it always makes a certain amount of sense to pay respectful attention to groups, even though not many of them are likely to vote for you. And he's got at least one issue in which he has some possibility of breaking through to some black voters, and that's this issue of education and school choice. You talked about the soft bigotry of low expectations. A lot of black center-city people want to send their kids to schools of their choice rather than the bad public schools there. The Democratic Party doesn't want to give them that chance; Bush does.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor? Good political move?
MS. CLIFT: You've stumbled onto the truth, in the sense that this is the whole point, to confuse the differences between the parties. This is what George W. Bush is trying to do, is to appeal to suburban voters, to swing voters and to independents. And he may do marginally better among African Americans than other Republicans, but this is more about reassuring suburban voters that he truly is a different kind of Republican, that he is moderate, that he is compassionate, that he does care about other people than just the up-scale Republicans.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: As long as the GOP continues to reject racial set-asides and affirmative action, don't you think this is largely cosmetics? And cosmetics leave your face in the evening.
MR. BLANKLEY: No, I don't think it's cosmetics. I think he is making an appeal. But I agree with Eleanor that its most likely effect will be to give some comfort level to moderate white voters. But he's also offering an alternative to the middle-class black vote, not the old rhetoric that we've heard for 50 years, but rather, "Do you want to get into the middle class? I'm going to propose education initiatives that get you from the lower middle class to the upper middle class." That's, I think, a message that may peel off a few votes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the downside of what Bush is doing, and did here, specifically?
MR. WARREN: First of all, happy to see you back safely from that tortuous trek upon the QE2 over July 4th. We were all worried and thought you were caught in the "perfect storm."
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, do you know the QE2 actually struck a Japanese naval vessel, but I was on the deck calming everyone.
MR. WARREN: Apparently you had been there since 3 a.m., you were so hot to get off the darn boat.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Laughs.)
MR. WARREN: Anyway, I don't think there's much downside. I mean, he was not speaking to that audience in Baltimore, really, because he know they're the most reliable part of the Democratic coalition. He knows that their loyalty to Al Gore will remain. As Eleanor suggested, he was speaking to a larger audience out there, particularly independent-minded, moderate whites in the suburbs who are turned off by some of the harsher rhetoric on subjects like affirmative action, like gun control, like capital punishment that they hear from the voices of some of the other Republicans. And I think it's going to be a smart move for him when, at the convention in Philadelphia in a few weeks he has a couple of fairly high-profile African Americans, Colin Powell, someone everybody knows, but also a woman not many people know, named Condoleezza Rice, and that will probably help him with some of the same voters.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, just to sum up in a more succinct way than your expansive little refresher course here in whatever it is, the downside is that when you start cultivating those members of the electorate who do not ordinarily support you, you run the risk of alienating your base. And I think that Bush is -- he has strayed very close to the edge.
MS. CLIFT: No.
MR. WARREN: Oh, no,
MR. BLANKLEY: No, no, no.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Has he not?
MR. WARREN (?): John, you're way off base.
MR. BLANKLEY: No. Absolutely wrong on this. The base for the Republican Party is ready to go and vote. I don't think he loses any votes there. I think this is a plus, totally useful.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We've got to get out. Exit question. Today's polls show that 15 percent of African Americans say they will vote for Bush. Will his NAACP appearance boost that number? Michael Barone?
MR. BARONE: Oh, I think the general tone of his campaign, of which that appearance is part, has the potential of increasing it very marginally.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: Very marginally, maybe one or two percentage points.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?
MR. BLANKLEY: The NBC poll shows Gore at only 71 percent of the black vote right now. Now, he'll do better than that.
MS. CLIFT: "Only 71 percent"? (Laughs.)
MR. BLANKLEY: Only 71 (percent); it should be 90-some percent. I think there is a chance that Bush could get into the middle teens, which would be very good for a Republican vote.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Preference polls always overestimate and exaggerate what actually turns out to be the case. This happened in Reagan's case, where he was getting 16 percent preference by blacks. And what he actually got was 8 percent in the poll, the true poll --
MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah. But Eisenhower did better with the blacks. And I think we may be returning to an Eisenhower --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that Bush fancies himself to have taken -- to cement blacks into his base the way Eisenhower did?
MR. BARONE: John, there is a tendency --
MR. BLANKLEY: I think we have finished one period of politics. (Groans, clearing of throats.) We are moving into another one. And there's more votes there than you might expect.
MR. WARREN: To complete the needed refresher course, blacks will make up about 10 percent of the electorate in the fall. Republicans traditionally get about 5 (percent) to 15 (percent). Bob Dole got about 13 (percent). If he can stick with this 15 (percent) that you see now in these polls, it's about as good as he is going to get. But this appearance per se will not help him demonstrably.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer: no help at all. It's like Chinese food; it satisfies the appetite for the moment and then disappears.
When we come back, will the Clinton Justice Department try to exploit the controversial Philadelphia Police use-of-force incident for political gain, bearing in mind that Pennsylvania is a key swing state in November's election?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two: Fight the Power.
VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE: (From videotape.) (Applause.) For all of my public service, almost a quarter-century now, I have stood up to the big drug companies, to the big oil companies, the insurance companies and HMOs.
I am running for president because I want to fight for you. (Applause.)
I want to serve the people, not the powerful. (Applause.) I want to take on the special interests, on behalf of working families.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Meet Fighter Populist Al, the latest Gore make-over. He is the Al who fights for the little guy. The little guy, says Populist Al, is being steamrollered by Big Business, Big Business that pulls the strings of Republicans in the U.S. Congress.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: (From videotape.) This is the Do-Nothing Congress of the 21st century: Do nothing for people; pass nothing that offends the special interests; serve the powerful, not the people.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That was Monday in Connecticut. On Wednesday in Baltimore at the NAACP Convention, Gore again hit hard the populist theme.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: (From videotape.) Let's make the march that will take us to the mountaintop of justice and prosperity and progress and freedom for all of the people of the United States of America. I want your help. I want to fight for you. (Cheers, applause.) I want to fight for your families and the future of America. God bless you, and thank you. (Cheers, applause.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: What's behind Al Gore's anti-big-guy posturing, James Warren?
MR. WARREN: Reverend Gore. Boy; ooh, got me there. I think a fair amount of posturing; I mean, I think what you have there is good old traditional Democratic rhetoric, particularly by a guy who knows he has got problems on this left as a result partially, of his support of lots of trade deals, which have alienated a lot of folks on his left. So I think Fortune 500 executives who --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.
MR. WARREN: -- (inaudible) -- hobnobbed with, on the weekends and during various corporate retreats, need not worry. His election will not bring the massive redistribution of wealth that you so fear -- (laughter) -- or nationalization of basic industries, such as auto and steel.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You clearly need help.
MR. WARREN: There is --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He is doing it for two reasons.
MR. WARREN: -- (inaudible) -- so populism.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: One because of gas prices, Big Oil -- so he attacks Big Oil; and secondly, he is doing it for another reason. What's the second reason he is doing it for?
His name is Ralph Nader, that's why he's doing it. Ralph Nader is in the --
MS. CLIFT: I --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Am I right or wrong on that?
MS. CLIFT: I agree with you. Ralph Nader is running at 8 percent in Michigan. And Ralph Nader took on the auto industry, so that shouldn't be a good state for him.
Look, Democrats like to hear their politicians attack the special interests. This is not -- doesn't just appeal to the left, it appeals to a lot of people. Nobody is out there beating the drums for big oil and pharmaceuticals. This is a theme he ought to continue, and in fact, he began during the primary. That whole fighting thing is not new.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well stated, Eleanor. Well stated. This is like raw meat to jackals, the jackals being the left wing of his party.
MS. CLIFT: As long as they bite, John!
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me ask you this question. I want to talk about Ralph Nader. Ralph Nader is emerging as a primary thorn in the side of Al Gore. True or false?
MR. BARONE: Well, he is. The fact that he's getting about 8 percent in states as different and important as California and Michigan. Steve Yokich, the president of the United Auto Workers in Michigan, and Jim Hoffa, the president of the Teamsters, who's also based in Michigan, have both gone out of their way to indicate an openness to Ralph Nader and a refusal so far to nominate Al Gore. That means that he's got --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think Hoffa could support Nader? Endorse him?
MR. BARONE: I doubt if he'll do it in the end. But this is a problem, if you're Al Gore. Bush has got his right wing nailed down. Gore does not have his left wing nailed down.
And, John, what he's doing now reminds me of what Francisco Labastida did in the Mexican election in May, when he went away from being the New PRI, the ruling party, on the wave of PRI --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He lost. He lost.
MR. BARONE: -- and then he went back to the dinosaurs, the "dinosauros" -- the old party mode --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What happened to him?
MR. BARONE: He lost.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He lost.
MR. BARONE: He lost because those themes are not as popular as they used to be in Mexico.
And I think in this country there is an antique tone to Al Gore's denunciation of the big corporation --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean it's old style Democratic politics --
MR. BARONE: When William Jennings Bryan --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's drenched in old Democrat, is it not?
MR. BARONE: When Senator Hugo Black was denouncing the big corporations in the hearings in the 1930s, it went over great with the electorate.
MS. CLIFT: Well --
MR. BLANKLEY: Wait. Wait. Wait a sec.
MS. CLIFT: Let Tony speak.
MR. BARONE: I think there's a smaller segment of the electorate now that's attracted.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Quickly.
MR. BLANKLEY: He is making a mistake now.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who? Al?
MR. BLANKLEY: Al Gore is making a mistake because this is not an electorate where the percent of resentful people is as high as it used to be. This is the old rhetoric. You know, 50 percent of Americans own stock. And while this rhetoric will help him a little bit get his base back, it's alienating. Clinton carefully avoided this rhetoric in the last four years. He is now going to start alienating those people who are now beginning to buy a few stocks and have a little confidence in the system.
MS. CLIFT: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's drenched in old Democrat.
MR. BLANKLEY: It's a big mistake.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And drowning in old Democrat.
Okay. Populist Al and the judge. Also this week, Gore got to show just how much a man of the people he is by serving muffins on "The Today Show" to Judge Judy. Judge Judy had complained that the Secret Service had kept her away from NBC's breakfast tray because the vice president's entourage had taken over the Green Room.
Question: Was presenting the muffins on bended knee to Judge Judy a smart move?
MS. CLIFT: Yeah. I mean, anything Al Gore can do to show that he's actually human and isn't just a stick figure behind a podium is a good thing. That shows a sense of humor. Why not?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question --
MR. WARREN: It was a tremendous incursion into that Nader vote right there. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you want to make a quick comment before we move on -- we're running late -- on Bradley's endorsement of Al Gore?
MR. WARREN: Absolutely inevitable. It seemed to me rather half-hearted. But what were his alternatives? He wasn't going to support Bush. He's not a big fan of Gore. And it certainly doesn't hurt Gore to have him nominally there.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the political bottom line on it? Does it mean any votes?
MS. CLIFT: I want to dissent here.
MR. WARREN: Oh, I think it might mean a few votes, particularly from Bradley supporters who might simply have not voted.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does it help Gore with his left wing, that seems to be flagging?
MR. WARREN: Oh, no. Not --
MS. CLIFT: I want to say something. First of all --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A little bit? We've got to get out.
Exit question: Will Gore's new populist posture blunt the Nader challenge?
MR. BARONE: I think that -- no, I don't think it's going to entirely blunt the Nader challenge. I think they're feeling a little -- peeved about it.
MS. CLIFT: Answer is yes, and Bill Bradley gave a full-throated endorsement. He's going to get speak in prime time, and if Al Gore doesn't win, I'm afraid we're going to be in for a re-run of the Bradley campaign for the next four years.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, I don't think the Bradley endorsement was full-throated. He said he's for Democrats, Democrats are better than Republicans --
MS. CLIFT: It's better than John McCain did for George Bush.
MR. BLANKLEY: No, he --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Talk about Nader. Is this posturing going to blunt the Nader challenge?
MR. BLANKLEY: No, and in fact, the normal effect of a candidate like Nader is to change the dynamics of the campaigning to the detriment of the candidate next to him on the left, which means that Gore is now moving -- he's mispositioning himself. I don't think he sells the room -- (laughter) -- plus the fact, when you get outside of this town, Gore looks like such an establishment figure that this kind of rhetoric, I don't think, plays very well.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: James?
MR. WARREN: We're slightly overstating the Nader challenge. It should be noted he went over like a lead balloon before that same NAACP audience in Baltimore.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A poll's a poll; 8 percent is 8 percent. Eight --
MR. WARREN: And ultimately, Gore and Bush will win by getting the most votes in the middle.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer to my question is yes. I think it will do much to blunt the Nader challenge, and I think it's a deft political move and far better than Naomi Wolf's alpha male play.
Issue three: The City of Brotherly Love. The Philadelphia police department is under gun -- the gun of the press. A local TV news crew videotaped over a dozen officers beating a wounded suspect. Police first spotted Thomas Jones, an African American with a string of past convictions, driving a stolen car. A car chase ensued, then a gun battle broke out, during which police shot Jones in the stomach and arm and an officer was shot in the hand. A second chase ensued, with Jones at the wheel of a patrol car. Police officers, including a number of black policemen, then pulled Jones from the car, kicked and beat him.
MR. : (From videotape.) It just seems obvious that the police were in a melee, a rush to judgment, to kick and stomp somebody they thought may have shot somebody.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Philadelphia Police Commissioner John Timoney, who enjoys wide support from the African American community, urged calm.
JOHN TIMONEY (Philadelphia police commissioner): (From videotape.) They will all admit that it does not look good, but I think it's premature to reach any conclusions. There is no comparison to Rodney King.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is the police chief right? Is there no comparison to Rodney King?
MR. BARONE: I think there may be a comparison, in this way: As Lou Cannon showed in his definitive book, "Official Negligence," on the Rodney King case, the failure of the TV stations there to play the full and grainier part of the footage gave a misleading impressive that there was no provocation. This video footage alone gives a misleading impression.
MS. CLIFT: Excuse me, there may have been --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Indeed it does.
MR. BLANKLEY: Whether it was fully justified is not clear --
MS. CLIFT: Right. There may have been --
MR. BLANKLEY: -- but it was provocation.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Indeed it does, but however, it's been examined frame by frame by the Philadelphia Enquirer and the conclusion is that, of the three cops who hit him repeatedly, the ones that hit him most, two are black and one was white.
MS. CLIFT: So what?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So obviously, the racial dimension of this has been dissipated.
MS. CLIFT: It's not about racism. It's about police excess, and the fact that this man was shot five times. He may be a bad guy, but he was shot five times --
MR. BLANKLEY: But wait -- but wait --
MS. CLIFT: Excuse me. I get to finish, too. (Laughter.) They didn't need to pummel him, kick him. That was clearly an act of vengeance on the part of those police officers.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, Eleanor! This could have been the last line of defense for the police before shooting and killing him.
MS. CLIFT: You didn't -- oh, come on! So it could have been worse?
MR. WARREN: John --
MR. BLANKLEY: Wait a minute. Wait. Eleanor --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So therefore, you -- plus the fact that he walked into the surgical room on his own.
MR. BLANKLEY: Eleanor, you missed the entire point of the shooting. He was shot prior to this incident. He was still going. You can't see whether he was reaching for his gun, which he had used previously, or one of the policemen's gun. They were entitled to use all the force necessary until they got him under control.
MS. CLIFT: He was way under control.
MR. WARREN: Can I end up by bringing back -- bringing us back to Rodney King, because on the face of it, it seems as if excessive force was used. But as with Rodney King, we've got to wait for a whole bunch of facts to come out in court and to find a lot more than we do now about the actions of the suspect.
MS. CLIFT: Well --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, we know that -- what Michael said is right; this is not a comparison, videotape-wise, to Rodney King, because with Rodney King, you could see that he was in a fetal position, he was totally disabled, whereas in this particular instance, you don't know that, and it appears as though he's actually crawling along and maybe even trying to reach for a gun. How do these cops know?
Issue four: Nipping the Napster.
(Begin videotaped sequence.)
GENE HOFFMAN JR. (president, EMusic.com): We are the leading seller of downloadable music online. We sell songs for 99 cents a song or 8.99 an album. We've sold nearly 2 million MP3s since inception. And it's music from people like Green Day and Bush, Phish. Mel Torme might be a better person for this crowd.
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT) (?): Oh, come on! (Laughter, groans.)
(End videotaped sequence.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's Gene Hoffman, president of EMusic.com, testifying at a Senate Judiciary hearing on the future of Internet digital music. Hoffman charges fees and pays royalties to artists for their recordings, which EMusic.com then sells on the Internet. It's a practice that Judiciary Chairman Orrin Hatch likes.
SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R-UT, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee): (From videotape.) Fair and reasonable licensing needs to take place.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Senator Hatch, by the way, is himself a composer and a singer -- of gospel pop, with his own CDs.
But not everyone agrees with Hatch and Hoffman that licensing and fee-ing is the way to go, notably Napster, an Internet site that makes available thousands of songs for free. Here's how Napster works:
A computer user downloads Napster software at no charge. The user then is able to search for and download tunes from other Napster software users. Napster does not store song files. Napster simply connects users, who then swap music.
Napster says the recording industry benefits commercially from this noble practice. Napster calls it "sharing."
HANK BARRY (CEO, Napster): (From videotape.) A chorus of studies show that Napster users buy more records as a result of using Napster and that sampling music before buying is THE most important reason that people use Napster.
MR. BARRY: (From videotape.) So we're generating interest in music.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But musicians say that what Napster does is not share; it steals.
LARS ULRICH (rock drummer, founder of the group Metallica): (From videotape.) Napster hijacked our music without asking. They never sought our permission. Our catalogue of music simply became available for free downloads on the Napster system.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And the recording industry is angry, too. It's suing Napster for violation of copyright law. They say it leaves musicians and songwriters with no way to collect royalties and, of course, with Napster, people don't have to buy CDs.
Question: With 20 million Napster-using voters, what's the best political strategy for Republicans on the Hill to use in handling this issue? I ask you, Tony.
MR. BLANKLEY: I don't think this is going to be a political calculation. I think it's a policy calculation.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean on merits?
MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah. I don't -- yeah -- I don't think --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, who is right on merits?
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, I think this is the beginning of a big problem of intellectual property rights. The same problem exists on the Internet regarding digital copies of movies. We are just beginning to see the problem. If we can't protect the intellectual property rights of creative people, they are not going to be creating the products that everybody wants.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right. Right.
MR. BLANKLEY: This is a big problem. This is just the beginning of it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So you believe that royalties and fees should be paid?
Do you believe that?
MR. WARREN: Yes, I do. But it's a very obviously nuanced, complicated public-policy problem brought on to us by dramatically changing technology.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why is it so "nuanced"? (Laughter.) Will you tell me why? I mean, don't these artists deserve to reap the rewards of their talent and their self-discipline and their endeavor?
MR. WARREN: But the technology has simply made it too difficult to come up with a very simple set of regulations about how to compensate --
MR. BARONE: I have got to change that --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I have got a quick question for you. The CD owner that makes that CD available to another Napster -- it originated with some CD somewhere. I mean, he has proprietary rights, and you can do what you want with your CD, can't you?
MR. BARONE: Look there -- the question is whether Napster and these other people are violating copyright. I think that they are. This goes beyond fair use. But Jim is right. The technology is changing. And the vile people that run the recording industry are going to have to change their --
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, I am with Orrin Hatch on this one. The government is going to have to get involved.
The e-economy has been coddled.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes.
MS. CLIFT: And it's getting a free ride. And the reason it's so complicated is that Republicans don't want to advocate government interference and both parties want support --
MR. BARONE: Well, copyright is a government action.
MS. CLIFT: -- from Silicon Valley and the Constitution.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Surprise, surprise; Eleanor wants government intervention. (Laughter.)
MR. BARONE: Well, the Founding Fathers wanted to protect --
MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.) So do you, John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So do I. Five of us want royalties and fees paid.
We'll be right back with predictions.
®FC¯END OF REGULAR SEGMENT
PBS SEGMENT FOLLOWS
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue five: Civil War II.
The Confederate battle flag, the Stars and Bars, may have come down in South Carolina. But there is a new civil war battle looming, and it may well be fought on the same battlefields of the original Civil War. Currently, those battlefields are administered by the National Park Service, whose guides and literature deal with the military conflict; troop movements, where the tide of battle turned, brilliant generals and blundering generals.
But if Illinois Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. has his way, all that could change. Jackson's bill urges the Park Service to incorporate the issue of slavery into all battlefield tours, lectures and Civil War literature. Some park administrators applaud the move.
(Begin video segment.)
MR. : I am just absolutely convinced we have a far more compelling need to move into the 21st century, to give people the basic understanding of why the Civil War was fought and the meaning of it all.
(End video segment.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But slavery and states' rights raise deep and emotional and patriotic and historical passions far deeper than the South Carolina flag controversy. The Park Service would have to decide what history to tell. If the Park Service personnel started lecturing on slavery, would they also discuss the controversy over black soldiers serving in the Confederate ranks?
Some historians are worried. "There's a place for it, but it's not in the middle of battle. We could argue that kind of stuff till doomsday." So says distinguished Civil War historian Shelby Foot.
Question: Will it diminish the meaning of a Civil War battlefield to turn it into a government-sponsored history lecture? Michael Barone?
MR. BARONE: Well, I don't think it necessarily diminishes it, John. The fact is the Park Service in many places does tell history well on its plaques and so forth. I do question, as Shelby -- echo Shelby Foot's feeling that the battlefield may not be the place to do this. And to put up something that is sort of obligatory and politician-written would, I think, be lower than the level that we see in the Park Service. So I'm genuinely ambivalent on this one.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg referred to Gettysburg as "this hallowed ground," meaning that men on both sides of the battlefield, from the South and from the North, deserve solemnity in their memory. If this goes through, will it not inevitably profane the memory of our citizens in the South who gave their lives in this soak-blooded (sic) battlefield and others like it?
MR. WARREN: The Gettysburg Address is a speech shorter than many of the segments on this show, you'll have to admit. Right? I think the answer is no. What I think is real interesting here is the personal dynamic of young Jackson, the son of the famous Reverend Jackson, who is rather obsessed by this subject and, with nary any publicity, has gone in recent years to more than 20 Civil War battlefields and come away chagrined with what he believes is an undue focus simply on military tactics and heroics and the characterization of the war itself as one between politically divided but morally equal sides.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Would he be satisfied with putting books in the bookstore, which is as frequently seen as the battlefield?
MR. BLANKLEY: Normally there are books in bookstores that are on the history of it. It's the actual public lecture that's in question. While I can't speak for Jesse Jackson, Jr., I'd be amazed if he'd be satisfied with that. I think there's always a danger --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're against it?
MR. BLANKLEY; I'm against changing it because in the --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't want to profane the memory of those --
MR. BLANKLEY: -- in the abstract you could come up with an objective statement; I don't think in practicality you can. And when it's being driven by a politician, you should be on your guard.
MS. CLIFT: This can be tastefully and respectfully done. Take the lesson with Monticello, where they've handled the allegations about Thomas Jefferson's affair with a slave. They've handled that well. It increases traffic. People today notice if the question of slavery is left out of these issues. It needs to be included and it can be done.