Share

THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP

HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN

JOINED BY: TONY BLANKLEY, PATRICK BUCHANAN, ELEANOR CLIFT AND MORTIMER ZUCKERMAN

TAPED: FRIDAY, MAY 2, 2003
BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF MAY 3-4, 2003


(C) COPYRIGHT 2003, FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC., 1919 M STREET,
N.W., SUITE 220, WASHINGTON, D.C. 20036, USA. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ANY REPRODUCTION, REDISTRIBUTION OR RETRANSMISSION IS EXPRESSLY PROHIBITED.

UNAUTHORIZED REPRODUCTION, REDISTRIBUTION OR RETRANSMISSION
CONSTITUTES A MISAPPROPRIATION UNDER APPLICABLE UNFAIR COMPETITION LAW, AND FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC. RESERVES THE RIGHT TO PURSUE ALL REMEDIES AVAILABLE TO IT IN RESPECT TO SUCH MISAPPROPRIATION.

FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC. IS A PRIVATE FIRM AND IS NOT AFFILIATED WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. NO COPYRIGHT IS CLAIMED AS TO
ANY PART OF THE ORIGINAL WORK PREPARED BY A UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE AS PART OF THAT PERSON'S OFFICIAL DUTIES.

FOR INFORMATION ON SUBSCRIBING TO FNS, PLEASE CALL JACK GRAEME AT 202-347-1400.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: Bush on deck.

President Bush delivered his Thursday night television address on the status of U.S. military Operation Iraqi Freedom against the backdrop of the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier in the Pacific Ocean 30 miles off the coast of San Diego.

The commander in chief arrived on an S-3B Viking Navy jet, sitting in the seat next to the pilot, dressed in full Navy flight suit gear. The landing was classic: the plane hitting the Lincoln at 150 miles per hour, with cables stretched across the deck to intercept and jerk the small jet to a stop in seconds. Over 5,000 sailors and Marines cheered. And a few hours later he announced, via satellite television, to a worldwide audience, that major combat operations are over in Iraq, but the war is not.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: (From videotape.) The battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that began on September the 11th, 2001, and still goes on.

In these 19 months that changed the world, our actions have been focused and deliberate and proportionate to the offense. We have not forgotten the victims of September the 11th -- the last phone calls, the cold murder of children, the searches in the rubble.

With those attacks, the terrorists and their supporters declared war on the United States, and war is what they got.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: True or false: Bush made plain and clear, in language that was unmistakable, that the war on Iraq was an act of revenge or retribution for the attacks of 9/11. It was a firepower demonstration to give the world a lesson that America is a dangerous country to attack. It turns out that U.N. Resolution 1441 was merely a fig leaf. Is that -- are those statements dominantly true or dominantly false, Pat Buchanan?

MR. BUCHANAN: I think they are partly true, John. The key statement he said is, our enemies declared war on us, and they have got war. He sees this war in Iraq as a seamless part of the war on terror that began 9/11 and that is ongoing right now. You cannot separate this from Afghanistan and from the rundown of al Qaeda.

And John, I must say it was the most splendid day of the Bush presidency. Not only that landing but the way he was with those men, the swagger of the jet fighter pilot, and then that speech with that backdrop -- it was moving. It made you proud to be an American. And I will say this: It made you proud George Bush was your president.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: The media are in a complete swoon over the production values of that speech and the setting, and this president playing "Top Gun." And frankly, he'll get about as close to combat as Tom Cruise. I mean, I thought it was a complete Hollywood production. And it's going to make a great campaign commercial.

As far as the substance of what he said, he has very skillfully redirected the anger Americans felt against Osama bin Laden and a group of primarily Saudi hijackers and directed that anger at Saddam Hussein, who had nothing to do with 9/11.

And the stated reason for invading Iraq was to disarm Saddam Hussein and find the weapons of mass destruction. I think that was a cover story as well. I think this administration came into power wanting to make a statement about the supremacy of this country. They felt that power had been eroded during the Clinton years. And that was the primary motive of this. And it was fueled also by a lot of personal animosity towards Saddam Hussein because of 12 years of his remaining in power and embarrassing the Bush family.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that it can be said that this was the greatest conjuring act of the century, morphing Osama bin Laden into Saddam Hussein?

MS. CLIFT: A majority of people in this country believe Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11, and they think we're safer because of this invasion of Iraq. I hope they're right. But I fear that we have lost a lot of goodwill around the world, and anti-Americanism is on the rise in that part of the country and there are going to be lots more Osama bin Ladens to take his place.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The president seemed to indicate in the address, Tony -- if you don't mind my moving this forward a little bit -- that weapons of mass destruction will be found. Do you think it's necessary for those weapons of mass destruction to be found for political, domestic interests?

MR. BLANKLEY: For domestic interests, the polls indicate no, but I think it would be very useful to find them and I'm confident they will.

By the way, I know we have lost the goodwill of Saddam Hussein as a result of this war, Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Much of the world. Much of the world, as well, Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: But the fact is, to answer your question, it's not -- the dominant point is not that this was a fig leaf. Pat's right, it is a seamless package. He's (spoken ?) from the beginning about the combination of nations that have weapons of mass destruction and support terrorism -- terrorists with worldwide reach, and he is pretty methodically taking down each of those elements as he can get to them. This was one piece of that. That's why he called this a battle and not the war. And it is one battle in the war on terrorism.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort, do you think that the Arab world has gotten the president's message?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: To a degree I think they have. You know, there's such a gap between the Arab leadership and the Arab street in terms of the way they feel about things. I think a lot of the leadership understands that conditions are going to be very different going forward, and you've seen some of those responses beginning already, in the sense of Syria beginning to respond to U.S. pressure, Libya beginning to move in some ways, not far enough yet.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Syria coughed up Farouk Hijazi, the --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- man who was supposed to have tried to assassinate the former President Bush. And also, Libya has admitted publicly to involvement in the Pan Am 103 and to restitution.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Right. But those, I have to tell you, are just the babyest steps at this point. What Syria has to do is to really throw out the terrorist groups that are all headquartered in Damascus, and stop being the key support for Hezbollah, which is really one of those terrorist groups with worldwide reach. So it's not over yet with Syria, and we're going to have to be very tough in how we deal with them. The secretary of State's going to be there this weekend, and I think it's very important that he knows and -- that he has to confront Syria. That's what they listen to.

MR. BUCHANAN: But John --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: All those people who were skeptical about what they would do have now, I think, had reason to say the tougher you are in that part of the world, the more progress you're going to make.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay.

Powell scores. Secretary of State Powell has been jockeying for more voice in postwar Iraq. This week he got it big. L. Paul Bremer, III, is set to by named by the president as top civil administrator of Iraq. Jay Garner, the Pentagon's reconstruction chief, will report to Bremer. Bremer is a seasoned 20-year State Department veteran. This new move is viewed as a major victory for U.S. diplomats.

Do you wish to speak to that? Let me give you a question. Is Paul L. (sic) Bremer the right man to keep Iraq from fragmenting and spiraling into civil war? Tony Blankley.

MR. BLANKLEY: Well first of all, I don't think that Colin Powell is doing his victory lap on this appointment. Yes, he is a veteran State Department man, working for Kissinger. He also has worked for the conservative heritage foundation. He was an appointee --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is Bremer.

MR. BLANKLEY: Bremer. He was an appointee of Republican Speaker Denny Hastert.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Ronald -- and Ronald Reagan had him as an ambassador to the Netherlands --

MR. BLANKLEY: Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and as counterterrorism chief.

MR. BLANKLEY: And he's a war-hawk. Now, he's made a -- he made a few statements before the war that was not fully war-hawkish. But I don't -- I don't think that this man constitutes a State Department pawn.

But let me make another point. He's --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think he's got more sensitive diplomatic skills than an unnamed individual at the Pentagon?

MR. BLANKLEY: Listen, if he also is laired, he's got the former General Garner underneath him and he's got Rumsfeld above him. So that's hardly a triumph for the State Department.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, the key point, John -- the key point with regard to Iraq is this: Look, Bremer or Garner, it's about your weapons of mass destruction. I don't think the weapons of mass destruction are too important if we don't find them, unless you get more Fallujahs, and you get Americans being shot and this turns into a West Bank, a southern Lebanon, and finally, people a year from now start saying, "By the way, why did we go in there?" Then the weapons -- a lack of weapons of mass destruction could be a tremendous problem for this president.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, hold on. From a domestic point of view, I think you're exactly right. But the international -- the international community and people on the street, they know what's going on. They know that the reason why we asserted our power is because we're capable of doing so.

MR. BUCHANAN: Okay, hold it now --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They know that we went into Iraq for the reasons stated in "Bush at War," the book --

MR. BUCHANAN: No, no, no.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- which was Wolfowitz's statement on 9/15 --

MR. BUCHANAN: I know. That's what Wolfowitz --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- that we will go to Iraq because it's doable.

MR. BUCHANAN: But you don't understand; the president and Colin Powell, I think, authentically, genuinely believed what they said about those weapons. I don't think they were prevaricating --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Five hundred tons?

MS. CLIFT: Yes, well, if --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Five hundred tons?

MR. BUCHANAN: That's why they've got to find out who misled them.

MS. CLIFT: If -- if they -- if they --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Aha! We're going to get to that later.

Go ahead, Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: -- if they believe those weapons are as dangerous as they said, they ought to be in a panic about where they are, because they've either been sold to the highest bidder or they're dropping into all the wrong hands.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think they think they may have been had, Eleanor!

MS. CLIFT: They ought to be pretty nervous.

MR. BUCHANAN: They think they may have been had now.

MS. CLIFT: By whom?

(Cross talk.)

MR. BUCHANAN: By -- maybe the CIA.

MS. CLIFT: Oh, come on.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right.

Mort?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, wait a minute. Wait, wait, wait. You're being all too casual about this.

MS. CLIFT: If there's a conspiracy here, it was hatched in the White House when his dad -- (laughter) --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. Let me let Mort in here. Go ahead, Mort.

MR. BLANKLEY: Talk about conspiracies! (Laughter.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The fact is that we knew when the UNSCOM inspectors were there in 1998, that they had tons of all of these chemical and biological weapons, there is no evidence yet that they have been destroyed. We haven't found them. I'll bet you right now that we will find them; maybe not enough to satisfy everybody, but nobody has seen evidence of their destruction. It doesn't mean we know where they are, but nobody's seen evidence and we knew they were there.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think --

MR. BLANKLEY: Let me make a --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Don't you think the Bremer appointment indicates that we're in for the long haul? After all, when you have an (outposted ?) empire, you always want to install a statesman, not a military technocrat, as Garner is.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, he is a statesman, and he's a tough-minded statesman. I think he's a terrific appointee. I don't think he's a State Department appointee; he's a White House appointee.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And he's also a citizen, not a military man.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Absolutely.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question, multiple-choice quiz: How did Bush's appearance rate as lasting impact political theater? One, superlative; worthy of Cecil B. DeMille; two, impressive, equal to Reagan's Berlin Wall appearance; C, mediocre, equivalent to Clinton at the Normandy 50th anniversary; D, inferior, Michael Dukakis riding in the tank in 1984; or E, none of the above?

MR. BUCHANAN: It was superlative, John. I can't think of a president having a better day than the president of the United States did. And the reason I think it was so effective is it had authenticity. This was the actual end of a war.

MS. CLIFT: (Laughing.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I know, Pat.

Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: The one thing it did not have was authenticity ---

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: -- because the war actually hasn't ended, although that was the impression he wanted to leave. More people --

MR. BUCHANAN: You're not a romantic at all, Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: No, I'm not!

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: But I give him an A. I mean, the Cecil B. DeMille quality was definitely there. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, obviously, Cecil B. DeMille level. A.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: It doesn't get better for any president. It's as good as it gets.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think it was Cecil B. DeMille. But I also think what -- that it was a victory lap after a victory. It was a victory lap. In other words, there was a sense of anticlimax; we knew the war was over. I also think it will be meaningless come November of 2004. At that time we will be thinking about the economy, not victory rallies.

When we come back, the new FBI sex spy scandal with Katrina, code name, Parlor Maid.

(Announcements.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two: Road map to peace.

(Mr. McLaughlin provides English translation for videotape of Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, who spoke in Arabic.)

"We denounce terrorism by any party and in all is shapes and forms. Such methods do not lend support to a just cause like ours but, rather, destroy it. There is no military solution to our conflict."

The new Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, was sworn in this week in Ramallah. And with that action, the Quartet -- Russia, the European Union, the U.S., the U.N. -- released its road map to Middle East peace. The road map is far-reaching with dramatic goals.

Phase one.

Israel: affirm Palestine as a sovereign state, stop all settlement construction, dismantle illegal outposts built since 2001, halt demolition of Palestinian homes, phase-out troops from Palestinian autonomous zones.

Palestine: total cease-fire, unequivocal Israeli right to exist, free Palestinian elections.

Phase two.

Israel: help make Palestinian territory contiguous.

Palestine: ratify constitution.

Quartet: convene international conference on Israel-Palestine borders, promote U.N. recognition of Palestine.

Phase three.

Quartet: convene second international conference to finalize borders and permanent status of Jerusalem, Gaza, the West Bank.

Mort, do you want to report on this matter?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Look, if this is a road map and the driver is Arafat, it's a road map to perdition. So the real question is, does this man, whom you just quoted, have any real power? Arafat ended up with seven of the 11 security forces, including the largest one, the general security service, reporting to Arafat. He's setting up a national security council to oversee all the security.

So we do not know at this point whether this man, who his called Abu Mazen, is going to have any real power. At this point, it still looks like Arafat has a veto over everything. Until that is changed, we will go nowhere, because Arafat will no more give up terrorism than Tiger Woods will give up golf. It's just not going to happen.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I thought that Mahmoud Mazen, the new prime minister, got what he wanted on the security.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Oh, not even close. Absolutely not even close. He got a role for a man by the name of Mohammed Dahlan, as the sort of security director, but those forces have been virtually disintegrated. He's going to have to rebuild them. The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade reports to Arafat. The Fatah, the Tanzim, reports to Arafat. All -- seven of the 11, without going into all the names --

MR. BUCHANAN: John, you want me to translate this for you?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.

MR. BUCHANAN: What he's saying, in effect, is, Ariel Sharon ain't going to give up the settlements. That's what he's saying.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, that is not what I'm saying.

MR. BUCHANAN: Let me speak for a second here.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That is not what -- don't translate what I'm saying.

MR. BUCHANAN: Look, the key -- I'm translating, but here's -- the key thing is, everybody knows the president could hammer the Palestinians. The Palestinians got no constituency. The question Europe is looking at and Colin Powell is looking at is, does the president, if push comes to shove, have the authority and the moral authority to tell Ariel Sharon, "You're going to stop building settlements, and you're going to take down every one you've built since March of 2001"? And if he doesn't, this is a nonstarter.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, the conditions for Israel are basically all voluntary, and they're premised on the Palestinians being able to stop the terrorism. And I don't know how much power Abu Mazen is going to eventually have, but he's not going to have enough power to stop the terrorism. He can't control Hamas --

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, he --

(Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I've got a side-pocket question here, and I wonder who is talented enough to handle it. The terrorists who bombed the Tel Aviv nightclub this Tuesday, Asif Hanif and Omar Sharif -- sic, Omar Sharif -- were British citizens. Okay? Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, was a British citizen trying to destroy an American airliner. What's the story on Britain?

And the president said on the deck of the USS Lincoln that any state which harbors terrorists is morally guilty of terrorism. Should that admonition apply to Britain?

(Cross talk, laughter.)

MR. BLANKLEY: Let me answer that question, as a former Brit. This is a reflection on their immigration policy.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Right. Exactly.

MR. BLANKLEY: It's not a reflection on the British culture or the British government.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Right.

MR. BLANKLEY: These people came in from the empire, and they have never had loyalty to Britain. They're showing it by that kind of murderous conduct.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it also an indication that they are too soft on their deportation and they're too soft on applying so much asylum to these Moslem radicals?

MR. BLANKLEY: This is not asylum.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: When is Bush going to go after Blair?

MR. BLANKLEY: This is the former British Empire, the Pakistanis and others, who got rights to come in with the decline of the British Empire, regretfully.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Right.

MS. CLIFT: When it --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It sounds like you're the greatest exponent of the British Empire.

MR. BLANKLEY: It was a wonderful idea.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit: Which will the Palestinians choose: the road map, with its promise of a Palestinian state living side by side with Israel, or the allure of the radical jihadists and the pipe dream of Israel's obliteration?

Pat Buchanan?

MR. BUCHANAN: The vast majority of Palestinians want peace. But Eleanor's right; they cannot control Hamas and the killers.

MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: And the real question is, when is Blair going to go after Bush? Blair needs to be putting pressure on Bush to really push this road map forward. I don't think it's going to happen.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you say?

MR. BLANKLEY: The question is whether enough forces from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria and elsewhere can be brought to bear, because, left alone to their devices, the Palestinians, I don't think, have the capacity to pull back the terrorism.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Look, in all the polls, 65 percent of the Palestinians still support the intifada and the violence. The real question is, can they have a leadership that tells them, "This is a blind alley; this is going nowhere"? And at this point, we don't know.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Arafat is not the leader. Will Abu Mazen be the leader? We will -- it'll take time for us to find out.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It will, and it might involve a civil war in Palestine.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Absolutely. At some point, they have to confront it, because if they don't confront it, there will be no Palestinian state.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think that they will choose statehood, but they're going to need help in the capitals around the world.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And besides London, they should also look at Berlin, with what happened in Hamburg and the way those terrorists were coddled over there.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: And Cairo.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Bush has to go after Germany and Great Britain.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Cairo -- (inaudible).

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue three: Code name "Parlor Maid."

DEBRA YANG (federal prosecutor): (From videotape.) She was also, by her own admission, providing information to intelligence officials in the People's Republic of China.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The latest sex and espionage scandal to rock the U.S. intelligence community involves the twisted tale of a double agent whose deliberate disinformation made its way into the daily intelligence briefs received by four American presidents over 20 years: Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

Katrina Leung, code name "Parlor Maid," a California businesswoman and GOP fundraiser, has been secretly spying for the Chinese government as a double agent. So says the Justice Department. The FBI paid Ms. Leung $1.7 million to spy for FBI counterintelligence against China. Instead, Ms. Leung was spying on the FBI for the Chinese and using her intelligence reports to insert Chinese disinformation into the top reaches of the American government.

Twenty years ago, Ms. Leung was recruited to spy on China for the U.S. And the agent who recruited her and who was also her ongoing contact, James J. Smith, was also her ongoing lover. Smith and his FBI superiors overlooked warnings dating back to 1991, 12 years, that Leung might be betraying the United States. Who sounded those warnings? Another FBI agent, William Cleveland, Jr., until recently chief of security at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, where nuclear weapons are designed. Cleveland was also Katrina's lover.

Democrats smell blood. Because of her activities as a GOP fundraiser, Senator Joseph Lieberman, candidate for president, wants Attorney General John Ashcroft to investigate whether Leung funnelled illegal money from China to Republican coffers. Three other senators, Republicans Grassley and Specter, and Democrat Leahy, want immediate hearings, to which request Republican Senate Judiciary Chairman Orrin Hatch said no.

Former FBI agent Smith denies having had a sexual relationship with Ms. Leung. The FBI, however, bugged his chambers and is not voicing support of Mr. Smith.

Question: What's the most serious damage Ms. Leung may have done? This is an exit question; we're going to get back to this subject at a future date. What's the most serious thing that she has done? And what does this tell you about the intelligence community, in combination with the other array of factors of failure on its part?

I ask you, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: The president ought to call for an investigation of the intelligence agencies basically on Iraq, not this. This, to me, is more the Johnny Chung level, so far, it's not Aldrich Ames.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: Well, she demonstrates that the two political parties are equal opportunity corruptors when it comes to receiving campaign money, after the Republicans made such a big stink about the Democrats getting illegal Chinese money. So at least it spreads -- it's bipartisan.

But the bigger issue is she exposes the extreme weakness in the intelligence community in this country.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, look, all intelligence agencies, you know, from the British intelligence to ours, tend to get riddled with this more than they'd like to think. This is an example of that.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yeah, I think it does call for a serious review of our intelligence agencies, particularly the FBI.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think that her misinformation having reached four successive presidents warrants an independent panel of gray beards to review the entire U.S. intelligence community.

We'll be right back with predictions.

(Announcements.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Forced prediction. A 2005 Palestinian state will be in existence.

Pat Buchanan?

MR. BUCHANAN: Unfortunately, no.

MS. CLIFT: Not if Ariel Sharon is still in power.

MR. BLANKLEY: Maybe yes.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is yes.

Happy "Cinco de Mayo."

Bye-bye.

(Announcements.)

PBS SEGMENT

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue four: You don't say? Political correctness on the left and conservative dogma on the right -- where does that leave American school children? Answer: Trapped with boring and bowdlerized textbooks.

In today's climate, textbook publishers are pressured by interest groups from both ends of the political spectrum, so they produce texts which will not offend, not mislead, not upset children, nor even possibly upset children.

Some examples: "The Little Engine That Could" -- derailed because the train is male. Mickey Mouse and Stuart Little -- exterminated, because mice, along with roaches, snakes and some other animals, may upset children. Dinosaurs -- extinct because they lumber towards the controversial subject of evolution. Birthday cakes -- blown off the pages because they aren't nutritious and some children don't observe birthdays. Owls -- removed from textbooks because some cultures associate them with death. America's Founding Fathers -- forget it; America's "framers," please. Stories set in mountains, jungles, forests or by the sea -- eschewed because they discriminate against children who live on prairies and flatlands.

These selections are from the revealing book, "The Language Police," by author and educator Diane Ravitch, who cites numerous examples of how textbook publishers sanitize the content of their books to keep their sales higher.

Question: Why is it okay to be explicit in educating kids about sex and about drugs, but not okay to expose them to unfamiliar or controversial ideas in textbooks?

Tony, can you speak to that?

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, I mean, it's bizarre, but political correctness is the ideologizing of our language and it's damaging, whether this comes from the right or the left. The only cure we've got in textbooks at all is to try to decentralize textbook-buying decisions. It's the centralized buying by states and large districts that forces them to try to homogenize it to avoid all possible complaints.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is true. New York, Texas and California dominate the textbook market.

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And the school boards there control which textbooks are bought for huge populations. And if you don't have that market, then you don't have the sales. Therefore, they bend over backwards to keep them happy and unfortunately, they are as described in the set-up.

Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, actually, John, you said sex education is explicit in this country. It isn't. I mean, millions and millions of dollars are spent on abstinence-only. And frankly, most of the examples you cited in your set-up are trivial. But the one important one -- (chuckles) -- is the one about the dinosaurs and the fact that textbooks can't go near evolution anymore. And the religious right has a huge stranglehold on textbooks, and they've succeeded in getting a number of schools to teach creationism alongside with evolution, which is like teaching the stork alongside sex education! (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, Pat --

(Cross talk.)

Well, don't they teach about AIDS and condoms and reproductive behavior?

MR. BUCHANAN: Sure, after second grade, I think.

Look, John, this is Orwell, really. And the real -- the answer to this is basically decentralization of education. It is vouchers, it is home-schooling. Get rid of -- get around the monopolies, get rid of the monopolies, and you can get the kind of education kids want.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We're fearless in educating about functioning bodies. What about functioning brains?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well -- (chuckles) -- there's no doubt but that this is a real problem. You've got to break the system. I'm not sure you're ever going to get it out of the big states, but you've got to get it away from the school boards into some kind of professional group that makes these kinds of judgments.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can you talk to your -- some of your wealthy cohorts who can bring pressure to bear on these school boards?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I know at least two of them. (Laughter.) #### END_