The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour (2024)

Intro ROBERT MacNEIL: Good evening. Leading the news this Wednesday, a federal judge said Iran contra defendants must have separate trials. Dukakis locked up the Democratic nomination and said Jesse Jackson and many others would be considered for a running mate. George Bush called himself the underdog against Dukakis. We'll have details in our news summary in a moment. Jim? JIM LEHRER: After the news summary, we examine the 1988 presidential campaign thus far with our political analysts David Gergen and Mark Shields, and two governors, Dukakis supporter Bill Clinton of Arkansas and Bush campaign co chairman John Sununu of New Hampshire. Then Elizabeth Brackett reports on the latest in the racial politics of Chicago, and we close with a look at the Iran contra trial decision from Nina Totenberg of National Public Radio. News Summary LEHRER: The four Iran contra defendants will get separate trials. That was the decision today by U. S. District Judge Gerhard Gesell in Washington. He said this would make it possible for each of the defendants to use each other's immunized congressional testimony in their defense. The four defendants are former White House officials Oliver North and John Poindexter, former Air Force General Richard Secord, and businessman Albert Hakim. The prosecutor, Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh, had this comment on today's decision.

LAWRENCE WALSH, independent counsel: The court held that each of the four defendants must be tried separately in order to really protect their 6th Amendment and 5th Amendment Constitutional rights. And he's directed us to tell him by Friday whether the first trial should be Admiral Poindexter or Col. North. Everyone recognizes that four trials are more burdensome than one, but the judge's judgment was that that's a necessary requirement to protect the constitutional rights of all four defendants. LEHRER: The judge also rejected three other defense motions today: to dismiss all charges, move the trials out of Washington, and to delay their start. Robin? MacNEIL: Yesterday's primaries locked up the Democratic nomination for Michael Dukakis, and today his Republican opponent George Bush called himself the underdog. Jesse Jackson said his strong number two position in delegates meant that he should be offered the Vice Presidential spot. But Dukakis said no one was due an offer.

MICHAEL DUKAKIS, presidential candidate: I don't want to play with words, Robin. There are a number of people who I think, deserve special consideration. But this is a decision the nominee has to make, and it's one that I look forward to making. MacNEIL: Dukakis's victories yesterday in California, New Jersey, Montana and New Mexico, gave him a total of 2,264 delegates by the Associated Press count, well over the 2081 needed for the nomination. Jackson has 1122, Gore has 290, and 479 are uncommitted. Former rivals Paul Simon, Richard Gephardt and Bruce Babbitt today threw their support to Dukakis. Meanwhile, President Reagan made his sharpest attack to date on Gov. Dukakis. At the White House, he told a group of regional reporters what advice he would give Vice President Bush to reverse his current underdog status.

Pres. RONALD REAGAN: I'd say, ''George, wait'll you and I get out there on the trail and start pinning him down on the things he claims, which we know are not true. '' And then we would say such things as some of our own accomplishments. You know, if I listen to him long enough I would be convinced that we're in an economic downturn, and that people are homeless and people are going without food and medical attention and that we've got to do something about the unemployed. MacNEIL: The President told the reporters he would do everything he could to help Bush win the presidency. He said the Vice President ''has been part of everything we've accomplished in this Administration. '' LEHRER: President Reagan got his way on the trade bill today. The Senate upheld Mr. Reagan's veto of the bill. The vote was 61 to 37 on a motion to override, five shorts of the two thirds needed. The House voted such an override two weeks ago, but the Senate's failure to do the same now means it's dead. Mr. Reagan vetoed the bill because of a provision that requires businesses with 100 or more employees to give 60 days notice of layoffs or plant closings. The House took an important no vote today on a controversial health care bill. It was a procedural vote on a bill that would expand Medicare to provide federal funds for long term home health care. Opponents said the bill was the wrong way to go. They prevailed in a 243 to 169 vote despite a passionate appeal from its 87 year old sponsor.

Sen. CLAUDE PEPPER, (D) Florida: And so I ask you, my colleagues, when you go home tonight, and you close your eyes in sleep, and you ask, ''What have I done today to lighten the burden upon those who suffer?'' at least you could say, ''I helped a little bit today. I voted to help those who needed help. '' It may not answer all the problems, and it doesn't, but it'll give comfort, it'll cool the brow of many who suffer, it will give hope to many who almost are despaired. LEHRER: Members of the House gave Congressman Pepper a standing ovation, but in the end they voted with those who said his bill would cost too much and needed further scrutiny. Also today, the Senate gave final approval to a catastrophic health insurance bill for Medicare recipients. The House passed that same bill last week. It now goes to the White House where President Reagan is expected to sign it. MacNEIL: The Directors of Pan Am have told the ailing airline to sell planes, routes and other assets if cost savings agreements are not reached with labor unions. Pan Am Chairman Thomas Plaskett told all employees in a letter that management was frustrated at not being able to get concessions from three of the company's five major unions. Pan Am lost $83 million the first quarter of the year. Unions representing pilots and flight engineers have agreed to concessions worth about $240 million over three years. But analysts say the airline needs to save more than double that amount. LEHRER: The City of Philadelphia has a prison crisis that can only imprison persons charged with the most serious of crimes. Others must be set free on bond, paid for by the city. The actions are part of a federal court order that went into effect at 5:00 p. m. today. To stop overcrowding, it said, the city's prison population could not exceed 3,750. In order to achieve that level, hundreds of prisoners were freed today. MacNEIL: In South Africa, more than two million blacks ended the biggest and longest strike against restrictions imposed by white authorities. Employers estimated that the three day protest cost the economy about $250 million. At least ten people were killed, 38 injured, and 36 arrested. The Rev. Frank Chikane, General Secretary of the African Council of Churches, said the stay away is an indication of the determination of the people to oppose the apartheid government. LEHRER: King Hussein of Jordan today came out in strong support of the Palestine Liberation Organization. He told a meeting of Arab leaders in Algiers that the PLO must represent Palestinian interests at any Middle East peace conference. Hussein also called on the Arab world to support the Palestinian uprising in the Occupied Territories, and he accused the United States of having no Middle East policy other than support for Israel. Hussein is considered an Arab moderate in the Middle East equation. MacNEIL: Sixty thousand South Korean policemen began deploying today to block students who plan to march to the border of North Korea on Friday. Rallies backing the march brought confrontations between radical students and police on at least 10 campuses. Friday's march was called to back demands for reunification of South Korea and the communist north. Both the South Korean government and opposition leaders opposed the action, saying it lacks national support. LEHRER: And that's it for the news summary. Now it's on to the end of the primary season, as seen by Governors Clinton and Sununu, and Gergen and Shields, to a report on the latest in Chicago's racial politics, and to Nina Totenberg on the Iran contra trial decision. November Stakes LEHRER: Presidential politics is where we begin tonight. Stage one, part two of the 1988 campaign ended last night with sweeping primary victories in New Jersey, California, Montana and New Mexico by Michael Dukakis over Jesse Jackson. It gave Dukakis the number of committed delegates to virtually assure his nomination at the July Democratic Convention in Atlanta. Stage one, part one, was the virtually assured nomination of George Bush by the Republicans. That happened nearly six weeks ago. We will look at Bush vs. Dukakis, but first some unfinished Jackson vs. Dukakis business. Jeffrey Kaye of Public Station KCET, Los Angeles, recaps what the two candidates said and did in their moments of victory and defeat.

JEFFREY KAYE: As the primary season ended last night, those Democratic Party candidates for President seemed to be holding victory parties in Los Angeles hotels. JESSE JACKSON, presidential candidate: (inaudible) because I know we're so close to where we've got to go. We've come so far from where we started. MICHAEL DUKAKIS, presidential candidate: And I thank you from the bottom of my heart. This is a wonderful victory.

KAYE: For Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis there was little doubt that he would win the delegates necessary to assure himself the Democratic nomination. This morning, with the exhilaration of primary night behind him, Dukakis started the next phase of his campaign. He refused to be pinned down on the question of his running mate. Gov. DUKAKIS: At this point, having not even begun to think about the possibilities, I'm going to cast my net far and wide, I'm going to be consulting with a lot of people. I think it's best to begin with as large a group as possible, but as you know, because you've watched me do this in the past, I don't start with a list and then cut it and have point systems and all that kind of thing. I try to do this in a thoughtful and yet somewhat informal way, and that's the way I'll be doing it.

KAYE: Dukakis was noncommittal about having the Reverend Jesse Jackson on the ticket. Dukakis has said that no one is entitled to an offer. This morning he reiterated that Jackson will be one of many considered for the role. Gov. DUKAKIS: He deserves consideration. He's done a very, very impressive job of running his campaign, of being a strong candidate, but there will be other people who will be considered as well. And it'll be up to the nominee as he himself said to make that selection.

KAYE: When Jackson showed up at his Los Angeles press conference, he refused to declare Dukakis the nominee. Jackson indicated he is still running for President. Rev. JACKSON: I want the party's nomination. If I do not get the party's nomination, I want the party to win. I've already made the difference because I've built a progressive coalition, increased our chance for victory. As for the Vice Presidency if I did not get the nomination, my constituency and my leadership have earned consideration to be on that ticket.

KAYE: Jackson sounded a theme that he has reiterated over the last few days while campaigning in California -- that despite the vote totals that would appear to hand Dukakis a clear victory, Jackson is not down for the count. Today, Jackson said he will wage a campaign to win the support of delegates attending the Democratic Convention in July. Rev. JACKSON: And now that we are entering this convention stage of our organization, we'll be meeting with super delegates, at large delegates, in every district that we won, seeking to gain their support and (unintelligible) their constituencies to meet with them.

KAYE: Noting that he has received more than 7 million votes, Jackson says he has a mandate to provide a voice for the coalition that supported him. Rev. JACKSON: One chapter, the campaign is over. A new chapter begins. Create a new force in American politics. Millions of Americans have come together over the past months to support my candidacy and my message. Over the next 40 days we'll work hard to ensure that the party reflects their concern in its platform, its leadership and its rules. Over the next month and years we'll continue to spread the message of new hope, and new possibility.

KAYE: But Dukakis had a slightly different message, suggesting that the Democratic Party is already united. Gov. DUKAKIS: And particularly at a time when the Democratic Party is really very close on any of these issues, I don't think these days there are deep dividing issues within our party. If you look at the Congress for example these days, there is a remarkable degree of agreement on many, many issues. And I think that's a reflection of what's happening all across the country within the party and among people generally

KAYE: Dukakis says his running mate will not be subjected to an ideological litmus test. He said also he has no timetable for naming his Vice Presidential choice. LEHRER: Now to our political analysis team of Gergen and Shields. That's David Gergen, editor of U. S. News & World Report, and Mark Shields political columnist for the Washington Post. David Gergen, is Michael -- is that just political rhetoric when Michael Dukakis says the Democrats are united now, there's not that much division within the party for a change? DAVID GERGEN, U. S. News & World Report: Well, there's still some division within the party, but they are more united than they normally are as a group. I think this promises to be the most unified convention they've had since 1976. They've still got problems mobilizing some elements of the party, but I think he's right in saying there aren't deep divisions of the kind we saw in the Vietnam War, for instance. LEHRER: Mark? MARK SHIELDS, Washington Post: There aren't the issues, Jim. The very fact that drugs are the issue in the country this year is a reflection. Not that drugs are not important and touch Americans and Americans are deeply concerned about it, but it's a reflection that the economy is not an issue. That double digit inflation is not an issue. That unemployment is not an issue. That there's no war, as David mentioned, that, driven, and divisions within the society. The parties basically exist in a society and it reflects society's divisions. And there aren't those divisions within our society right now. LEHRER: Yes, but Jesse Jackson is saying something entirely different. He's saying that 7 million people who voted for him are depending on him to give them voice, and that's the only way they're going to get it is through him. He seems to be saying there is a division in the Democratic Party. SHIELDS: Differences, but not divisions. I think that Jesse Jackson has used that same phrase himself, that he doesn't think there are deep divisions between him and Michael Dukakis. GERGEN: It's a question of degree. I mean, some of these issues -- how strong should our sanctions be against South Africa -- Gov. Dukakis -- both Jackson and Dukakis want sanctions against South Africa, both want tougher sanctions than we now have in a Republican support. But Jackson wants to go a lot farther. I think there are some differences over, say, the Middle East. But it's mostly a difference of degree. SHIELDS: That's a perfect issue, though, South African sanctions, it's an abstraction. No American is touched by them, quite frankly. I mean, it isn't an issue like double digit inflation when all of a sudden you didn't get any change from a dollar for a McDonald's quarter pounder. I mean, and -- LEHRER: It's not an abstraction in the black community. They feel it very strongly. SHIELDS: No, but as far as a difference within the society itself -- LEHRER: Oh, inside the Democratic Party or within the (unintelligible) -- GERGEN: It's the kind of issue because it is so important to blacks, it does not touch whites directly. I think it's likely Gov. Dukakis will compromise on that issue in Jackson's direction, unlike defense where I do think he'll draw a total line against Dukakis. LEHRER: Let's go to the big question, the one about the ticket. We heard Jesse Jackson say that he's earned consideration to be on that ticket. Any question about that? SHIELDS: Consideration? Right. Should he be offered it? No. It would be counterproductive and perhaps politically suicidal. Finishing second entitles nobody to the tickets by any means. Gary Hart wasn't even considered in 1984 by Walter Mondale, nor was Ted Kennedy in 1980 by Jimmy Carter, nor was Mo Udall in 1976 by Jimmy Carter. It goes all the way back. There's no great tradition of the person finishing second being considered, let alone being offered. LEHRER: But does Dukakis have to play this in a way that it appears? Does he have to kind of fake it, David, that it's there if Jesse Jackson wants it, but maybe Jesse Jackson doesn't want to -- GERGEN: No, I think it's a mistake even to be in the position of making it appear that it's Jesse Jackson's for the taking. That in effect will look like the governor is capitulating to the pressures that he's going to feel from blacks and others in the Jackson entourage. I think it's very, very important that he treat Jesse Jackson with respect, with dignity, but that he not offer him the place on the ticket, because after all, what is it about the vice presidency that is important? It is whether the person who's selected for that will make a good president. Certainly the black community thinks Jesse Jackson would make a very fine president. But there are many in the white community, and let's recognize this, because Jesse Jackson's views are not compatible with what a lot of whites believe in this country, and it's unfortunately partly a matter of Jesse Jackson's race. We're still unfortunately in that position in this country. And for that reason, I think that everybody recognizes putting Jesse Jackson on the ticket would greatly damage the prospects of a Dukakis victory. And for that reason I just don't think we're going to see it. LEHRER: Gov. Cuomo, Democratic governor of New York, said today when he was asked whether or not Jesse Jackson would be a good running mate for Michael Dukakis, he said yes. He said millions of people voted for him, more people than voted for Babbitt, Gore, and he went through the list of the Democratic candidates who fell by the wayside. Jesse Jackson did not. How do you respond to Gov. Cuomo? SHIELDS: I think David Gergen is right and Mario Cuomo is wrong on this issue. I think that quite frankly in addition to race, this is a serious ideological problem that Jesse Jackson brings to Michael Dukakis and the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party has not lost elections because people doubt if they have compassion. The fact of the matter is that the Democratic Party has lost elections when they've had two northern liberals on the ticket, and that's what Dukakis and Jackson would be. LEHRER: All right. Gentlemen, we have to leave it there, but don't go away. Robin? MacNEIL: We turn now to the Bush/Dukakis battle. Joining us are two key members of their campaign's inner circles: Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton is a senior advisor to his fellow Democratic governor Michael Dukakis. He joins us from the governor's mansion in Little Rock. New Hampshire Governor John Sununu is the national co chairman of Vice President George Bush's campaign, and is the campaign's liaison to the Republican platform committee. Gov. Sununu, listening to the Vice President and to Mr. Reagan today, I was wondering, are you Republicans beginning the campaign, the fall campaign, before the conventions? Gov. JOHN SUNUNU, (R) New Hampshire: Well, I think it's clear that there was a little bit of a pause there as the Democrats sorted out what they were going to do, and now that both parties have their nominee, the Republicans are going to make very clear that there is a clear choice available. It is between a conservative Republican and a very liberal Democrat. And you're going to hear that issue raised again and again and again between now and November and the election. MacNEIL: Has the general election begun, Gov. Clinton? Gov. BILL CLINTON, (D) Arkansas: Well, I think it finally has. I think that Gov. Dukakis is concentrating more now maybe than Vice President Bush is on who the nominee for Vice President should be, how the convention should be organized, and how things are going to go between now and mid July. But he is going to begin immediately in going out every week for two or three days into a different region of the country to try to begin to build those bridges for the November victory. So I think that the campaign has begun. MacNEIL: Gov. Sununu, why is the Vice President, to an extremely, exceedingly popular president, who is claiming peace and prosperity, so far behind in the polls? Gov. SUNUNU: Well, I think the problem that the Bush campaign has had is it succeeded too quickly, too efficiently, and lost the capacity to hold headlines in a positive way. The only way it could get headlines while the Democrats had some competition left was the negative data that was coming out. And I think what you're going to see now that Michael Dukakis is clearly the choice, it is going to be head to head, and it will be clear that the records will be compared with talk about the fact that what Michael Dukakis has or has not done in Massachusetts. And then the Vice President will be talking about the success of the administration that he's a part of. But he really has not been able to capture headlines with that, while Jesse Jackson offered at least a token opposition until the total number of delegates were needed were achieved. MacNEIL: I gather that we lost our connection with Arkansas for the moment. How are you going to overcome the fact that the polls at the moment show that 25% of the people who voted for Mr. Reagan have abandoned his Vice President. Gov. SUNUNU: Well I think what you have seen is that Michael Dukakis has succeeded in showing that he's to the right of Jesse Jackson. He's really about an inch to the right of Jesse Jackson, but he made it out to be a mile to the right of Jesse Jackson. The real Michael Dukakis is going to have to come forward. He's also projected an image that he's done wondrous things in Massachusetts when in fact they haven't even been relatively average, as compared to the other New England states. And I think the Vice President will talk about the fact that if Michael Dukakis did for manufacturing jobs in this country what he did to manufacturing jobs in Massachusetts, we'd have 3 million more blue collar workers unemployed. We'll talk about the fact that on all the important statistics in New England, Massachusetts ranks fourth, fifth or sixth. It's not a miracle, it's a mirage, and I think it's the mirage of Michael Dukakis that will be certainly a part of the focus of the campaign between now and the Democratic convention. MacNEIL: Gov. Clinton, I don't know whether you heard when we lost contact with you a moment ago. I asked Gov. Sununu why the Vice President to a very popular President is so far behind in the polls at the moment. What do you attribute that to? Gov. CLINTON: Well, I think people are not sure what he stands for. They don't know what George Bush represents other than perhaps four more years of the same and maybe without President Reagan's charisma. I think that it's clear that the undecided voters in this race want to go beyond the past eight years, but they want to preserve prosperity, they want to preserve peace. They know, however, that there are a lot of serious problems this country's got that we haven't addressed. And I think that that's why Gov. Dukakis is doing so well in the polls. They see him as an aggressive, new, different kind of Democrat, who's proven he can work with business, he's proven he can work with a successful economy and produce results to solve problems. I respectfully disagree with the characterization of his record by my friend, Gov. Sununu.And I think most other governors disagree as well. In 1985, Newsweek did a poll of the governors, Republicans and Democrats, and asked them to list the most effective governors in the country, and Gov. Dukakis won that poll by quite a wide margin. And Mr. Gergen's magazine did an analysis of the best governors in the country, calling on experts who were not elected officials earlier this year or late last year. They reached the same conclusion, that he was one of the three or four best governors in the country. So I believe he has been a good governor. I think he's been very good for the Massachusetts economy. I think if he hadn't been he never could have raised all the money he raised for the business community in Massachusetts. And it's that broad base that's got the Republicans worried. We're going to be able to run this campaign in all four regions of the country, and I think to be very successful in November. MacNEIL: How do you answer the charge that Gov. Sununu just made, that Mr. Dukakis is only 1% to the right of Jesse Jackson. Is this going to be a competition to sound more conservative? Gov. CLINTON: Well, I doubt that. I think -- MacNEIL: That's what it sounded like last night when Mr. Dukakis was being interviewed in California. He was saying to Mr. Bush I'm more conservative than you are. Gov. CLINTON: Well, he might be on some issues. And we'll see as the debate unfolds. But I think that to say that he's only 1% to the right of Rev. Jackson on the tax issue, on the defense issue, is fairly inaccurate. And I think the voters plainly thought there was a difference in these last primaries. And we're going to have a debate in the campaign and we'll see which candidate the voters believe. But I believe that Michael Dukakis can better represent a clearer majority of the American people, and I think his record will stand the scrutiny that the Republicans should give it and will. And I think the debate will focus in ways that will show you that he's the kind of man with the kind of character as well as the kind of experience and the kind of discipline and judgment and courage we need to be president. MacNEIL: Gov. Sununu, Mr. Dukakis evidently expects a very negative campaign from your side. He said last night that it would be quicksand for the Republicans if they waste this opportunity in mudslinging and namecalling and so on. Is that what the Bush campaign is going to be? Is it going to be basically an attempt to discredit Gov. Dukakis? Gov. SUNUNU: No, I think you're going to see the Vice President articulate the difference between himself and Mike Dukakis on issues like family, on issues such as defense, on issues such as fiscal policy, on issues such as taxes. But the reason Michael Dukakis is worried is what Michael Dukakis has portrayed as through the primaries has nothing to do with the reality of what Michael Dukakis has done and not done in Massachusetts. With all due respect to Gov. Clinton, we're talking hard facts, we're talking about the fact that Massachusetts has the worst record on manufacturing jobs, the worst record on employment, total employment within a state. It has the state with the flattest population. It has virtually lost tens of thousands of people to all the other New England states as they voted with their feet. It has lost businesses to the other New England states. And the fact is that that reality is the hard record and he certainly would feel more comfortable if that hard record were not brought forward. But it is going to be brought forward, and this Massachusetts miracle he's been talking about will clearly be identified as the mirage. MacNEIL: Are you planning an equally negative campaign the other way against George Bush, Mr. Clinton? Gov. CLINTON: I don't think so. Gov. Dukakis is not quite as comfortable I think as the Republicans would be with a negative campaign. But I would certainly expect him to answer those charges and also to raise some questions about the Vice President's record. About what he knew and when he knew it, and whether he was involved in certain decisions. At least Michael Dukakis is going to be held responsible for decisions he's made, he won't be denying that he did make decisions, and he'll be glad to tell you what he knew and what he didn't know. And I think that there will be some issues of confrontation revolving around the Vice President's record. But let me just go back to this economy if I might. I spent a lot of time studying the whole issue of to what extent a governor can affect an economy, and all the states in my region are worse off than all the states in New England. The fact is that the engine of New England's economic recovery has to some extent in the last several years been centered in the greater Boston area; all the New England states around Massachusetts have benefited from the spillover. There's tens of thousands of people who live in New Hampshire and work in Massachusetts. The same is true of Vermont and other states. I don't think there's any question that the partnerships which were established between Mike Dukakis and the business community helped to accelerate the rate of economic growth, helped to spread it to towns that were formerly depressed, helped to put welfare recipients on the work rolls. And I think most other governors who carefully studied the record feel that way. You can argue these numbers back and forth all day long. They've had big increases in personal income every year, Massachusetts. Huge numbers of new jobs coming in there in the last five years. And you're always going to have some ups and down in the budget and things going one way or the other, more manufacturing jobs in one place than another. But basically that economy has performed superbly well, and there's been a very close cooperation between the state government and the business community, and that's one big reason why. MacNEIL: I think we have a taste of what's to come this fall. Jim? LEHRER: Yes. And let's go back now to Gergen and Shields, David Gergen of U. S. News & World Report, Washington Post columnist Mark Shields. The taste of what we've just heard, gentlemen? Are we are about to launch into a negative, nasty campaign between Michael Dukakis and George Bush, Mark Shields? SHIELDS: I would have to think so. I think it's going to be -- it's not a campaign really -- LEHRER: Worse than most? SHIELDS: Worse than most. I think that for two reasons. One is, first of all, neither one is that well known. Bush starts with very high negatives, higher negatives than I think anybody would have expected, quite frankly. And Bush sees his own opportunity to be President hinging upon all of a sudden bringing Dukakis down to lifesize. Michael Dukakis has been an effective and popular governor in Massachusetts, but Michael Dukakis is not, let it be understood, a goo goo -- LEHRER: A what, sir? SHIELDS: A goo goo. A good government type. Michael -- LEHRER: I've never heard anybody accuse him of being a goo goo -- SHIELDS: No, he's all elbows and knees when it comes to a campaign. He's not going to -- he won't turn the other cheek when these shots come, whether they come from north of the border or from New Hampshire, or whether them come from elsewhere. George Deukmeijian, the governor of California delivered it last week when he said that Michael Dukakis was a Fritz Mondale on taxes, a Tip O'Neill on spending, Kennedy on crime and a George McGovern on defense. It's going to be that sort of a campaign, yes. LEHRER: Do you agree, David? GERGEN: Well, unfortunately, I think it may well -- it's starting out that way -- LEHRER: Why is that unfortunate? GERGEN: Because this country does not need a debate about the past, it needs desperately a debate about its future, and the future choices that it faces. If this is a backward looking campaign, we're going to back into the next presidency, and we're going to have a weak president. LEHRER: So if Sununu and Clinton spent all their time debating Dukakis's record in Massachusetts as governor, and Bush's record as Vice President of the United States, that's bad for the campaign? GERGEN: I think it's important for the country to know who these gentlemen are and what their records are, and it's perfectly legitimate for both campaigns to bring that out. But if that's the heart of the campaign, then I think we're going to have a lousy campaign, and I don't think it fits either of these candidates and they're going to turn out, one of them is going to turn out to be a weak president. I -- you can understand the position the Bush people now feel they're in. Michael Dukakis is probably in the best position of any Democratic challenger for the presidency, certainly since the Second World War. You go back, Mr. Kennedy was not in this kind of position in 1960, even Mr. Carter in 1976, he was several points ahead of Ford, but Ford didn't have the kind of negatives that Bush has, and Ford also had the presidency, he had the perks that go along with the presidency. He could fly out in Air Force I. Dukakis today is in the best position of anybody in 40 years who's been challenging from the Democratic side. The Republicans feel extremely frustrated that the man has essentially been allowed to define himself against Jesse Jackson. And now they want to redefine him. And they're going to use their chief surrogates, and Gov. Sununu is going to be a key surrogate apparently in this campaign, to try to redefine who this man is and bring the facts out. That's legitimate in politics, that's the way politics is played. But hopefully the candidates themselves are going to talk about the future, because it's critical for the country that they do that. I don't think the American people are going to put up with a campaign very long. They're really going to get turned off. They're not terribly excited about the campaign as it stands now. But they're really going to get turned off if it's negative. SHIELDS: I would love to have a campaign where the future is debated. And I think it is a danger, if David points out, if it's just about the past. For one thing, it hurts Bush. LEHRER: Why does it hurt Bush? SHIELDS: It hurts Bush because Bush doesn't need it to be about the past. Bush really has to more than anything else define where he would go. LEHRER: He can't win if he doesn't do it? SHIELDS: I don't think that Bush can win by trashing Dukakis. GERGEN: I agree with that. I think they're going to do some of that, but I think Bush has got to define himself now and where he wants to go in order to win this campaign. LEHRER: But if you all are right, if you're right, David, that Dukakis is coming into this thing way ahead with tremendous leg up, doesn't it stand to political reason they've got to knock him back down? GERGEN: They'll try to knock him down, but I don't think George Bush can win the presidency by knocking down the other guy. George Bush has got a problem now in part because he's got these high negative ratings, and he has especially high negative ratings and special problems with women. The gender gap is what's killing him in the polls. He's about ten points behind now, but that gap is all coming in on the female side. Among men he's running about even. But among women he's running 20, 25 points behind. LEHRER: Why? What do the polls say about it? I don't -- GERGEN: The polls are not -- the answer is not obvious. And the Bush campaign has been focusing on that, and I don't think anybody has a clear answer. In part it appears to be something about that women feel less secure about the economic future than men do. In the midst of what Republicans define as growing prosperity, women somehow feel the future is not as bright as it ought to be. I think there's something else about this. I do think that George Bush needs to communicate a sense of security about himself, which he has not yet done sufficiently. And women feel a little bit more insecure about it. LEHRER: Governor Sununu, is that, is David right that this is a subject of concern within the campaign? Gov. SUNUNU: I think the polling, David, that's been in the press is certainly what everybody has seen. But I think the campaign feels that the last few weeks have been a period of time in which Michael Dukakis has been allowed to define himself relative to Jesse Jackson. The Vice President now has to go out and be aggressive on his issues. He's got to talk about his vision in education, about his vision in terms of dealing with issues like child care, his vision in terms of family values, his visions in terms of retooling this country so that the blue collar worker in this country can be competitive. He's going to do that, that's his agenda, that will be the Bush vision of what the next eight years ought to be like. It certainly has to be built on the reality of the economic success of the last eight years, and I think in combination it's going to be a winning package. LEHRER: What about, Mark Shields, what about -- the Vice President himself told us this in an interview three or four weeks ago, the day that -- six weeks ago -- the day that he went over the top, we did an interview with him. And he said this campaign is going to be a classic rerun liberal vs. conservative. And you said it yourself, governors. Gov. SUNUNU: It is liberal vs. conservative. It is in a way a campaign for the soul of the American electorate and the American electorate is over on the conservative side. Gov. Dukakis the other night tried to suggest he was a conservative, and the only reason there's any negative aspect to what we are talking about now is to point out that his record is very different than what he has tried to have himself perceived as. Once that is aside, you're going to see, I think, a campaign based on the future. LEHRER: Gov. Clinton in Little Rock, if Vice President Bush is successful in getting this race to be a liberal vs. conservative thing, you all are going to lose, right? Gov. CLINTON: Well, I don't think he will be. I agree with what David Gergen said -- LEHRER: I said if -- Okay, if -- Gov. CLINTON: Well, I can't -- he won't be able to do that because Michael Dukakis has a record in the issues that Gov. Sununu says Vice President Bush has to talk about: child care, training workers, generating new jobs. The reason I've defended his record is because I think it throws light on what he'll do in the future. And I agree wholeheartedly with what David said. This race is about the future of this country and all this whining and trying to throw this race back into 1972 or '68, it's not going to work and it's going to be bad for the American people, and it will I agree divert a lot of interest from the race. This is a critically important race because a heavy majority of our people know we've got to go beyond the arrangements and the policies of the last eight years and they want a person with the character and the vision and the ability to do it. That's what the race is about. LEHRER: Are you all worried, Gov. Sununu that the thing could backfire if you go after Dukakis too strong, if you trash him? Well, you heard what Mark Shields said, he's sitting right next to you, he said if you trash him you're going to lose. Gov. SUNUNU: We're not -- we're just talking about laying on the record the objective data that's out there. We think that defines Michael Dukakis as a McGovern liberal. His approach on taxes, his reluctance to cut taxes, his only willingness to cut it when threatened by referenda -- Gov. CLINTON: Bull. LEHRER: Bull, your friend said in Little Rock -- Gov. SUNUNU: The fact is that Michael Dukakis has not supported a tax cut without being threatened either by a referenda or his own legislature and having it forced on him. Right now every time they turn to a problem in terms of the budget he's going to go and raise taxes. The fact is that Michael Dukakis has been a McGovern liberal. He added ten thousand people to the employment in a state that had no population growth. LEHRER: Well, we have to leave it on that high tone. Unless you have one word to say, Mark. SHIELDS: My one word to say quite frankly is this: That let's be fair to both Dukakis and Bush. The campaigns reflect the times. And I think David's right, it'd be nice if we did talk about the great questions of the future. But the American people right now are themselves, us, quite ambivalent. We don't want a great change in direction. We want a change in speed and that's what we're arguing about. We're really playing at the margins and at the edges in this campaign, and neither candidate, both candidates are reflecting that. 20Neither candidate is going to offer a dramatic departure. LEHRER: Gov. Clinton in Little Rock, thank you for being with us. Gov. Sununu, David Gergen, Mark Shields, thank you all. MacNEIL: Still ahead on the NewsHour, Chicago's struggle with racial politics and a new twist in the Iran contra saga. Simmering City MacNEIL: Next tonight, a look at the politics of race as mixed up in the politics of Chicago, a city well know for racial tensions and political volatility. Correspondent Elizabeth Brackett reports on the recent furor triggered by the comments of an outspoken city official. STEVE co*kELY: As a lecturer in my community and outside of our community, I've always tried to convene the best evidence and by then trying to give it a round sided viewpoint I can then give it back so that people can go study for themselves.

ELIZABETH BRACKETT: What Steve co*kely does best is lecture. Here he talks to a group of college students in a makeshift classroom on Chicago's South Side. It was a lecture before a group of students last November in which co*kely allegedly made anti semitic remarks that caused a storm of controversy in Chicago. The controversy exploded because Steve co*kely is not just a lecturer. He was also a $35,000 a year aide to acting Mayor Eugene Sawyer. The controversial speech was taped by Lewis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam, as many of co*kely's speeches were. The Chicago Tribune learned of the tape and headlined the story in their May 1 Sunday editions. On the tape, co*kely is heard quoting and reacting to a student newspaper review of one of his earlier speeches. Here's an excerpt of that tape. Voice of Steve co*kely: ''The absurd statements made by co*kely are numerous. But some of the more appalling ones are those attacking the Jewish community. He asserted that they are leading a conspiracy to kill off the black race and take over the world. '' You got that right! ''He asserted that the AIDS epidemic is the result of doctors, especially Jewish ones, who inject the AIDS virus into blacks. '' Now, what's so outrageous and extremist about that?

BRACKETT: Residents in Chicago's Jewish community thought it was all outrageous. MAN: I as a Jewish person, he did a lot of harm to me. He made remarks which are definitely untrue, and everybody knows it. MAN: Jewish doctors injecting black people with AIDS! Can he prove it? If he couldn't prove it, he should be indicted.

BRACKETT: The Anti Defamation League had obtained a copy of the tape before the story broke. And had privately taken their concerns to Mayor Eugene Sawyer. But the Mayor, on politically shaky grounds since succeeding the late Harold Washington, took no action. When the story was later leaked to the Tribune, the mayor had this response. Mayor EUGENE SAWYER, acting mayor of Chicago: We are reviewing the situation, and we will have some say about it in the very near future.

BRACKETT: The issue festered for more than a week. Leaders of the black and Jewish communities appeared on local talk shows. The discussions were revealing. LU PALMER, Chicago Black United: Why would I be surprised about doctors injecting AIDS into children when at Tuskegee Institute doctors injected syphilis into black men? And that's well known, well documented. So why should there be so much feeling of outrage about that kind of a possibility? MAN: You are taken aback by this, aren't you? MICHAEL KOTZIN, Anti Defamation League: Yes, I'm taken aback, because I didn't think this was what we'd be talking about on Channel ll this evening. Mr. PALMER: What did you think we were going to talk about? Mr. KOTZIN: The city of Chicago and the people living together and perhaps coming together.

BRACKETT: Five days after the story broke, the mayor announced that he had fired Steve co*kely. MAYOR SAWYER: It's his privilege to say what he wishes to say, I would imagine, in a free society, but he can't say it while he works for me, particularly, Ollie, if it involves racial and other (unintelligible) comments.

BRACKETT: In a rally that night before a group of his supporters, co*kely called the firing political. Mr. co*kELY: You see what -- about what I said? Right. I was getting too powerful in the government. And don't think they didn't know it. MARION STAMPS, community activist: We're angry. We are very, very upset because what we saw is that in five days some Jews were trying to break a black man's back. It was just that simple. And our motherly instinct automatically say we got to protect this brother. We cannotlet him be weakened like that. He had not done nothing wrong, and they had no reason to try to persecute him like he was in Nazi Germany, because he was not.

BRACKETT: Jews, too, remained upset. One, that the firing had taken so long; two, that so few of the blacks in power had come to the defense of the Jewish community. MAYNARD WISHNER, Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago: There are fringes, there are fringes in all communities. We have them. The question is what does the main body do with respect to the fringe. What preserves us is the center stands up and says no. That destroys American, that goes to the heart of what we are. And if that center fails, then the civilization is in deep trouble. And I suppose Jews historically have depended on the center. We've gotten it from the left and from the right, the center, the center, for the sake of this country. And when it is silent, that's disturbing. BRACKETT: What's happened to the center in Chicago? Mr. WISHNER: I can't understand the silence.

BRACKETT: In black neighborhoods, those who consider themselves moderates try to explain. We asked this group to gather at a beauty shop on Chicago's West Side to talk about the incident. DOROTHY TRUSSELL: You know, the black community has just recently taken advantage of their voting power. And I feel that we've learned to stick together no matter what. Which is what other groups do. And I feel that if he had fired co*kely right away, his standing in the black community would have gone down farther than what it was at that time. And I think he has gained by not firing him immediately. LEONE FREEMAN: I disagree. I think he lost some support by not taking action immediately. Just -- we never know. JANE MUHAMMED: I think both of them are right. You can't please everybody all of the time. So he did gain some, but he lost some. And in my opinion, I think, I really feel that he should have acted sooner. The things that were said were harsh, not meaning that it wasn't true, but they were harsh. And I really don't believe he should have said it.

BRACKETT: Adding to the city's tensions was this portrait of the late Harold Washington in white lace underwear. Painted and hung by a white student at the prestigious Art Institute of Chicago. Several black aldermen raced over to the Art Institute and removed the painting from the wall. One alderman was quoted in local papers as saying, ''The artist was probably a Jew. '' Mr. WISHNER: Here's an accusation that without knowing, the guy knows that this must have been a Jewish artist. Nobody's mad at the Swedes because the artist was a Swede. They're still mad at the Jews because a Jewish artist could have painted the picture. That's anti Semitism, that's not ideas, that's sickness, that's bigotry.

BRACKETT: Tensions between blacks and Jews in Chicago existed long before the Steve co*kely incident. Some of the roots of those tensions can be found in the way neighborhoods changed in Chicago. Twenty to thirty years ago, neighborhoods like this one on Chicago's South Shore were nearly all Jewish. But as blacks moved in, Jews moved out. Though some Jews did remain, primarily as store owners or absentee landlords. Ms. TRUSSELL: There was a time when there was nothing but Jewish stores in the neighborhood, and there was a feeling that we were being extorted and prices were higher, and it was neighborhood stores then, but it was -- the feeling was there. NORRIS DENNIS: I worked in Lou's Stock Poultry Market from the time I was 14 years old'til I was 18, 'til I graduated from high school. He gave me my first job, really. I mean, he wasn't paying me nothing, you know, but it was okay with me. Basically the only Jew that I ever had a close dealing with and I still love him.

BRACKETT: The clash between blacks and Jews in changing neighborhoods was more economic than racial. Says Northwestern University sociologist William Sampson. WILLIAM SAMPSON, Northwestern University: Blacks were moving to the cities in large numbers and moving into the same kinds of occupations that Jews had occupied. They were moving to social work positions, public service positions, school teaching positions. The problem was that the economy wasn't expanding very fast and when blacks started to move into those positions they encountered opposition from Jews.

BRACKETT: Still, during the sixties, relations between blacks and Jews improved as Jews became highly involved in the early civil rights movement. The civil rights gave way to the black power movement. Mr. SAMPSON: Jews were sort of dismissed from the movement and didn't like it. And I can understand why they didn't like it because they played a very prominent role prior to that. Their sort of reluctance to move over and let blacks determine their own fate really caused an awful lot of friction.

BRACKETT: But many Jews had never understood that friction. Mr. WISHNER: We're not in conflict with the black community. We think we're an ally of the black community, and an ally with the black community against forces that may not be so supportive of the black community. Mr. SAMPSON: The Jews see themselves as really helping. And blacks say, Fine, just get out of our way and it's patronizing as well. So I think that when the co*kely incident became prominent, part of what happened was an awful lot of blacks heard co*kely saying, Jews, move out of our way, you have kept your thumb on us long enough and we will now determine our own destiny.

BRACKETT: Given these two deeply divergent views, Chicago may have a hard time healing. But acting Mayor Sawyer has asked three of the city's top religious leaders to try and improve human relations in the city. Rabbi HERMAN SCHAALMAN, Chicago Board of Rabbis: What really happened I think to all of us in a way that is both shocking and maybe beneficial is that we were simply made aware very sharply that the problems that perhaps that had been ignored or which we had thought we had learned how to live really demand an address, a response. Rev. W. STERLING CAREY, United Church of Christ: And I don't think it's just Chicago. I think this whole nation and what's being surfaced in Chicago could be surfaced almost anywhere in this country. That is a very explosive situation in America today. BRACKETT: Given the systemic nature of the problem that you talked about and the long history with the problem, how are the three of you going to make a difference? JOSEPH BERNADIN, Archbishop of Chicago: We're just instruments, facilitators. We don't have all the answers, but the answers are there, decisions have to be made. And I think that maybe we can be instrumental in getting people to face up to some of the issues that need to be confronted.

BRACKETT: Race relations in Chicago are likely to remain fragile with mayoral elections now scheduled for early next year. As candidates fight to fill the leadership void left by the late Harold Washington, politics could reopen the wounds of a city already racially scarred. Getting Down to Cases LEHRER: Next tonight with Judy Woodruff and Nina Totenberg, today's decision to try the four Iran contra defendants separately. Judy? JUDY WOODRUFF: In a blow to the prosecutor in the case, a judge in Washington ruled today that Col. Oliver North, Adm. John Poindexter and the two other chief defendants in the Iran contra affair, Richard Secord and Albert Hakim be given individual trials rather than be tried together. Joining us now to explain the significance of today's ruling is Nina Totenberg, who covers the judiciary and follows this case for National Public Radio. Nina, what is the significance, just how important a decision was this on the judge's part? NINA TOTENBERG, National Public Radio: Well, I think it's very important. In a way it is a blow to the prosecution, in a way it could help the prosecution. Let's deal with the blow first. It means that there will be four separate trials. There may well have to be four separate prosecution teams -- WOODRUFF: Just to clarify before you go any further, the prosecutor in the case has asked that they not be separate. Ms. TOTENBERG: In fact, it's extremely rare. I can't call to mind off the top of my head any major conspiracy case that the prosecutor wanted to try together that was broken up by a judge. But this is an extremely unusual case in that the four defendants, or three of the four defendants, had limited immunity from Congress so that they were forced to testify before Congress and nothing that they said before Congress can be used against them in their criminal trials. So the judge said today what this boils down to is if one of the defendants, let's say John Poindexter, wants to use some of the immunized testimony from Oliver North's testimony on Capitol Hill because he thinks -- he, Poindexter thinks -- it's exculpatory to him and helps him, he wouldn't be able to do it without hurting North, because they'd be tried together. Therefore, the judge said in order to allow each of these defendants to cross examine witnesses using other defendants' immunized testimony, there must be four separate trials. And what that means is that the prosecutor Mr. Walsh will probably have to have four separate prosecution teams, it means his first trial will lay out to all the other defendants his scheme of the case, his evidence, the witnesses. It means that the witnesses will be cross examined in four separate trials, they will be exposed far more than the average witnesses to cross examination. It's going to make it rather difficult for him. And then I should say as a practical matter, most importantly, conspiracy trials are funny animals. And -- WOODRUFF: Part of the charges are conspiracy related -- Ms. TOTENBERG: Yes, well, the broad base of this charge is a 23 count indictment, but the core of it is a conspiracy to defraud the government. And in conspiracy cases, defense lawyers say that the bad deed, the evil deeds of one defendant often read down against other defendants. They say when there's a skunk tossed into the jury box the stench is there for everybody and never leaves the jury box. Well, that's not going to happen now. There's not going to be any stench that accumulates for other defendants. Each case will be tried separately. That will be difficult. We heard today Judge Walsh said it will be more burdensome, it may take much longer to do. But there may be some side benefits. WOODRUFF: And what is that? You've laid out the case for why it makes it tougher for the prosecutor, what may the benefits -- Ms. TOTENBERG: Well, the benefits are that it weakens the defense case for throwing out these charges. The defense have said all along the whole case is tainted by the immunity grants before Congress. And there's no way you can try us without using that immunity. Somehow that testimony that we gave, somehow being used indirectly at least against us. And it seems to me that what the judge has done here is set himself up not to grant the defense motions to throw out the case because of the immunity. In addition, I talked to a lot of defense and prosecution lawyers today, and they agreed -- I was very interested -- that if Mr. Walsh wants to, and he's trying, let's say, Oliver North, he can call in the three other defendants, immunize them for the purposes of the North trial only, and say, All right, you have to testify against Oliver North in this trial, we won't use it against you in your trial, but you have to testify against him in this trial. And if he wants to do that, he can do that. WOODRUFF: It does get complicated in other words. Ms. TOTENBERG: Yes, it does get complicated. WOODRUFF: Now, as I understand it, the judge, Gesell, asked the prosecutor, Walsh, to come back by this Friday to say who he wants tried first. What's the guessing, or do we know who he's going to say? Ms. TOTENBERG: We don't know who he'll pick to go first. But we can think of some considerations. If Walsh thinks that in fact although he's looking at four trials, he may in fact have only one, because a pardon -- if one person were to be convicted, everybody would be pardoned, that may be going through his head. WOODRUFF: What do you mean? Ms. TOTENBERG: Well, if he's thinking to himself, If I try Defendant A, and President Reagan then says I'm going to pardon Defendant A and all the others after the conviction, I may never get a chance to try the other three. He may pick his, first of all, his strongest case first to ensure that he gets a conviction, and secondly, he may also want to pick the case that lays out the whole scheme in its entirety the most. And that would suggest Oliver North. The judge did tell him he had to pick North or Poindexter. WOODRUFF: But your reading is that he's got the strongest case against Col. North? Ms. TOTENBERG: That's my guess from what I know. You know, I'm not intimately familiar with all the evidence that he has, but for example, there's a charge of financial aggrandizement against North and not against Poindexter. WOODRUFF: Well, Nina Totenberg, we thank you. We know this is one we'll be coming back to. Thank you for being with us. Recap MacNEIL: Again, the main points in the news. Michael Dukakis, with the Democratic nomination locked up, said he would consider Jesse Jackson and many others for the Vice Presidential spot. A federal judge said Iran contra defendants must be tried separately. The Senate upheld President Reagan's veto of the trade bill and gave final approval to the catastrophic health insurance bill. But the House voted down home health care legislation. Good night, Jim. LEHRER: Good night, Robin. We'll see you tomorrow night. I'm Jim Lehrer. Thank you and good night.

The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour (2024)
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