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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP


HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN


 


JOINED BY: MICHAEL BARONE, TONY BLANKLEY,


ELEANOR CLIFT, AND LAWRENCE O'DONNELL


 


TAPED FRIDAY, APRIL 23, 1999


AIRED THE WEEKEND OF APRIL 24-25, 1999


 


.STX


 


 


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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: Whither NATO?


 


PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: (From videotape.) We meet to honor NATO's past, to chart its future, to reaffirm our mission in Kosovo.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Fifty years old, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO, is commemorating its 50th anniversary in Washington this weekend, with 40 heads of state in attendance. The summit was originally slated to be a celebration, but the bombing in Kosovo has quelled the revelry and opened up a radically different debate: Should there be a NATO at all? NATO's defenders, of course, say yes.


 


Here's the line-up. NATO should stay:


 


One, NATO defends against any renewed Russian threat.


 


Two, NATO defends U.S. strategic interests.


 


Three, NATO boosts the U.S. economy.


 


Four, NATO augments global security.


 


Now, on the other side of the equation, NATO should fade away:


 


One, NATO has no raison d'etre. With the demise of the Soviet Union, why do we need it?


 


Two, NATO antagonizes Russia.


 


Three, NATO's bureaucracy is huge and spendthrift -- administrative costs alone, $2 billion a year. The U.S. pays $500 million. And the overall cost of NATO to the United States about $150 billion annually.


 


Four, let the European Community defend Europe. We've done it for decades.


 


Question: When the pluses and the minuses of keeping NATO are added up, which are greater, the pluses of keeping NATO, or the minuses, and therefore, let it fade away, Michael Barone?


 


MR. BARONE: Oh, the pluses, John, I think, far exceed them. And I think your ones on top were the right ones. NATO is a bulwark against a possible Russian threat, and NATO also, for that reason, is part of the strategic interest.


 


We've had this argument before. Back in the 1950s Walter Lippmann said, "Well, why don't we have a neutral zone in the middle of Europe? We wouldn't have confrontation and so forth. We could be ambiguous about whether we're going to guarantee it." Ambiguity causes problems, as it did in 1914 and 1939. It invites war. If you draw a bright line, as we have done, move that line east, you'll save yourself against the Russians, who are now talking about wacky things like joining an alliance with Belarus and Serbia.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you know that Britain and France have the bomb, and that would exert some strong deterrence on Russia, should Russia change its ways.


 


MR. BARONE: That would do some strong deterrence, but the United States is the single superpower here, and we ought to be rolling -- increasing the zone of freedom and prosperity that NATO is.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, there's a nuclear arsenal that might deter them.


 


Eleanor?


 


MS. CLIFT: Well, deterrence via nuclear weapons is an outdated method of deterrence. And frankly, NATO leaders thought they would gather and talk in theoretical terms about how to confront the challenges of the next century -- terrorism, ethnic violence, and the proliferation of chemical and biological weapons. What's happening in the Balkans no longer makes it theoretical. And I think the rationale for NATO is now very real, it's playing out before us, in front of our eyes on television screens, and we need a regional policeman in Europe, and that's what NATO is.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, conventional forces did not deter World War I. But atomic forces, nuclear forces, will deter World War II.


 


MR. BLANKLEY: Or have so far, thank goodness.


 


Look, I think it's fascinating to note that of the four points you make -- and I think the first point regarding being there to prevent against a Russian threat, should it reoccur, is the strongest one. You do not include the one that reflects the current mission, which is to defend offensively European or Western values outside of the alliance.


 


And to me, the appalling thing is that I've talked to congressmen just this week who 10 years ago were very strong NATO supporters, who, because of this change of mission and because of this business in Kosovo, are now wondering whether they want to support NATO's future. I think they have, by changing the mission from the purely defensive to the now more assertive, they're risking the very continuation of NATO.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, that might be a blessing in disguise.


 


MR. BLANKLEY: I don't think so.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you have thoughts on this?


 


MR. O'DONNELL: I do, John. I think the two key points that you listed are it has no reason to be, which is the single most important thing that a military alliance should have; and secondly, it antagonizes Russia. We should be -- of course this celebration this weekend should be a celebration of the completion of the NATO mission, hand out all the awards for this great 50-year project which is now over and has no reason to continue.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That was very well stated, Lawrence. And I want to point out that you worked in the United States Senate and you've seen bureaucracies up close, and you know how bureaucracies -- and this is an immense bureaucracy; it makes the U.N., in some regards, look innocent, as opposed to the gravy train that is keeping those bureaucrats in perquisites. And they love to perpetuate themselves.


 


MR. O'DONNELL: That's right. And we should be using our NATO money to help Russia. Russia needs our money, it doesn't need weapons right now.


 


MR. BLANKLEY: Lawrence, for the last 200 years, Russia has stood as a potential menace to Europe, sitting east of Germany, over us, and whether it's been czarists or Communists, and now they're not Communists anymore, but they may well be a threat. And NATO --


 


MR. O'DONNELL: There is no menace now.


 


MR. BLANKLEY: There's no menace now, but NATO may be needed. We should keep it --


 


MR. BARONE (?): Not this year. Maybe next year.


 


MR. BLANKLEY: We should keep it as a guarantee --


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It is true that the wars in Europe are almost exclusively internecine; it's European against European.


 


I am amazed that you, with your pretense at scholarship, -- (laughter) -- have failed to take note that the European Union, which Jean Monnet brought into existence as a bulwark against war, among other reasons, you do not see the cohesion that's coming together by reason of that European Union.


 


MR. BARONE: Well, the fact is, John, the European --


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And that will eventually include Russia!


 


MR. BARONE: The European Union is not a military alliance.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So what?


 


MR. BARONE: Does it have the cohesive effect -- that's right, as Norman -- (inaudible word) -- wrote in "The Illusion of Peace" before World War I, yes, it's possible that economic things will tie you together, but as 1914 shows you, it's not a totally sure thing.


 


MS. CLIFT: Right. Europe has come together in the European Union, they've agreed on the euro, on a common denominator for money, but they cannot stand by and abide a repeat of the horrors that went on earlier in this century. They need a military force and they need U.S. help for the moment. But Europe is going to take a larger role in their own protection and I think part of that we're seeing the emerging Europeans -- Tony Blair, Gerhard Schroeder and the French. This is a defining moment -- not only President Clinton, but for a whole generation of new leaders in Europe and they are bringing moral values to the conflicts they're fighting.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: For four decades we have supported the Cold War. We have been good for the principle costs of that war.


 


MS. CLIFT: We won it!


 


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In addition to that, you cannot have guns and butter. By reason of that built-up military that we had, while the European -- the coddled Europeans expanded into universal health care and they developed protections for their laborers, we on the other hand, developed a deficit surplus due to our heavy defense budget. Why don't we get a peace dividend?


 


MS. CLIFT: Well, I don't --


 


MR. BARONE: John. We're growing much more wealthy than Europe.


 


MS. CLIFT: I don't blame the Europeans for the fact that we don't have health care, but I do think the next challenge for NATO is the rebuilding of the Balkans.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well. We now have to --


 


(Cross talk.)


 


We will now be involved in repatriating refugees in Kosovo.


 


MS. CLIFT: That's right.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We will be involved in rebuilding Kosovo.


 


MS. CLIFT: That's right.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We will be also involved in policing Kosovo. We will be there for at least a decade. Those costs are immense, too, and we will have the lion's share again.


 


MS. CLIFT: And we want to trade with all these countries and we want to be part of a global world. We can't put a fence around the country like our friend Pat Buchanan would like.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question. Exit question. Will there be a 60th birthday celebration for NATO, yes or no, Michael Barone?


 


MR. BARONE: I hope there will be, but I have some doubts because of the way this Kosovo thing is being handled.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, what's that? That's fundamentally a yes.


 


Eleanor?


 


MS. CLIFT: Fundamentally a yes. NATO cannot afford to lose and therefore they will not lose.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you going to redeem yourself and say no?


 


MR. BLANKLEY: No, I'm going to redeem myself and say yes. I don't think there will be a celebration, but it'll still be in business.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?


 


MR. O'DONNELL: There will be a 60th because every institution's first duty is to preserve itself, but we can only pray there isn't a 70th.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There will be a substitute European force to defend Europe. NATO will not exist.


 


When we come back, is there light at the end of the Kosovo tunnel?


 


(Announcements.)


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two: A light at the end of the Kosovo tunnel, or is it an oncoming train?


 


Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic has accepted the concept of a U.N.-controlled, quote, unquote, "international presence" in Kosovo, providing: one, NATO bombings stop; two, NATO troops withdraw from Yugoslav borders.


 


This was the result of a daylong meeting Thursday between Milosevic and Viktor Chernomyrdin, special Russian envoy to Belgrade and former premier of Russia. "We considered the possibility of an international presence led by the U.N., in which Russia would take part," said Chernomyrdin. Also under discussion, said Chernomyrdin, between the two, were the following: one, more talks of wider Kosovar autonomy; two, a decrease of Serb forces in Kosovo, simultaneous with the NATO withdrawal from Yugoslav borders.


 


President Clinton reacted cautiously, but positively, to the deal.


 


PRESIDENT CLINTON: (From videotape.) If there is an offer for a genuine security force, that is the first time that Mr. Milosevic has ever done that, and that represents, I suppose, some step forward.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: After Chernomyrdin left Belgrade, Serbian officials added two details about the U.N. presence in Kosovo: one, no NATO nations participate, with the possible exception of Greece, in that international presence; two, the presence must be unarmed.


 


Question: Will the U.S. and Britain seriously pursue the Russian-Yugoslav peace feeler? Does it have legs? I ask you, Lawrence O'Donnell?


 


MR. O'DONNELL: I think they are seriously pursuing it already. For the president to say that something Milosevic said is a "good first step," to say that about someone he has been demonizing for these last several weeks, is a very big first step on our part, going toward Milosevic.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can Clinton save face and work a deal?


 


MR. O'DONNELL: Absolutely. There is the stuff of a deal in the beginnings of this discussion. Now, if already they are starting to say -- Milosevic is starting to say: "Well, yeah. They can have weapons." Now, we are soon going to be into a discussion of, "Well, how big can they be?"


 


MR. BARONE: The weapons --


 


MS. CLIFT: Yeah --


 


MR. : It's like paper.


 


(Cross talk.)


 


MR. : Right.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, just a moment. Just a moment


 


The word out of Belgrade today is that they can carry pistols, but there is no big hardware; no tanks. Now, you may want to make fun of the tanks, too?


 


MR. BARONE: Well, the fact --


 


MS. CLIFT: No. I want to say that Bill Clinton responded somewhat optimistically until Tony Blair got to him and basically said, "Don't go wobbly on me."


 


Look, this is more of PR gambit by Milosevic than a genuine blink. But it is the beginning, and the elements for a potential deal are there -- the involvement of the Russians. But the notion that you would have, you know, basically unarmed troops, and they would not go in, and they would -- and his troops would still be there -- (inaudible due to cross talk) -- a long way.


 


(Cross talk.)


 


MR. BLANKLEY: Wait, wait. Eleanor, I don't know who you think is blinking. I think, clearly, if this is the beginning of a settlement, Clinton is the one who is blinking on this, without a doubt. And --


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How? How? You heard what he said.


 


MR. BARONE: It's Rambouillet minus minus, John --


 


MR. BLANKLEY: Well, what happened to the Hitler, the butcher of the Balkans who we couldn't deal with? Now --


 


(Cross talk.)


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, I see what you mean. I see what you mean.


 


MR. BLANKLEY: Clinton has every interest to try to weasel out of avoiding a ground war. I don't blame him, politically --


 


MR. BARONE: Yeah.


 


MR. BLANKLEY: He and Gore know it's bad news. They want to get out of it.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is there other reasons for weaseling out of the ground war --


 


MR. BLANKLEY: Well, there may be -- there are good reasons --


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and that is inflaming Russia and other parts of Europe?


 


MR. BARONE: John -- but John, this is --


 


MR. BLANKLEY: I was saying Clinton --


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A U.S.-Russian relationship is in our vital national interest. There's no interest at all in the Balkans.


 


MR. BLANKLEY: I completely agree with you. I was talking about Clinton wanting to weasel. I think there are perfectly sound reasons to not get into a ground war, but Clinton's motive is to weasel.


 


(Cross talk.)


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are the Russians giving us a face-saving way of exiting?


 


MR. BARONE: Well, John, they're giving us --


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Starting here. Yes?


 


MR. BARONE: John, they're giving us a safe-facing (sic) way of accepting defeat. I think Lawrence O'Donnell is right when he says that Clinton will get political plaudits for this, but the fact is it will be a defeat for ®MDNM¯NATO and the stated objectives that we have if we go down this line --


 


MR. O'DONNELL: Finding a way to --


 


MS. CLIFT: They're not going to take this deal!


 


MR. BARONE: -- and we will suffer for that in our dealings with other people and in other dangerous parts of the world, in Korea --


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We will suffer far, far more if we continue on the military track and we do not get on the negotiation track.


 


MS. CLIFT: Listen --


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, NATO high value targets.


 


Negotiation breakthrough or no breakthrough, this week saw the single most intensive day of bombing in Yugoslavia since the NATO campaign began over a month ago. Two, quote, unquote, "high value" targets were hit: first, the house of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic; second, the tallest office building in Belgrade, a 23-story shimmering tower of steel and glass, which was home to hundreds of civilian shops and offices, the studios of several private TV and radio stations, one owned by Milosevic's daughter, and the executive office of Milosevic's civilian political party.


 


Were these offices civilian targets? No. NATO has assured us that they are not.


 


SIR IAN GARNETT (chief of Joint Operations): (From videotape.) However, we are not targeting sites which are used solely for civilian purposes.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Thank you, Sir Ian. Now we all feel better.


 


NATO sees this kind of targeting as high value, but some think it will only backfire. The owner of one of the TV stations destroyed by the attack, Belgrade's first sports news channel, said it will take five or six lifetimes to rebuild what she has lost, adding this:


 


WOMAN TV STATION OWNER: (From tape.) We won't be your slaves, and that's enough. You can't change that. You can bomb us, our houses, our works, everything, but you can't make us your slaves.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: At week's end, NATO struck the Serb Belgrade State Television Company, a different building, with reportedly 10 people killed, 18 wounded, 20 missing. Crying relatives and friends wandered the ruins shouting names of their missing civilian dear ones. Hundreds of foreign journalists, including NBC, Britain's BBC, Reuters, and Agence France Presse, find a letter of condolence to kin of the killed. The foreign journalists also protested the bombing of their Serb colleagues.


 


Question: Is the United States brutalizing the American people with this kind of thing under the banner of justice? Has the United States now put itself on the moral level of Milosevic or below it?


 


Tony Blankley?


 


MR. BLANKLEY: Haven't quite gone that far, although I must say I find it personally a little disconcerting that Clinton has a policy of bombing TV shows that he thinks have biased reporting. (Laughter.) But --


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: As opposed to NATO.



MR. BLANKLEY: No, this is all Clinton. But --


 


MS. CLIFT: We may get a bomb on us!



MR. BLANKLEY: I was against the bombing from the beginning.



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let him talk.


 


MR. BLANKLEY: I was against the bombing from the beginning, but if you're going to do it, then you might as well do it very thoroughly. This is, therefore, war, and I don't think that their propaganda devices should be exempt.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, surely you will allow that even war is governed by moral criteria.


 


MS. CLIFT: Right.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There is the law of proportionality. Have we crossed that line with this massive --


 


MR. BLANKLEY: No. No. I think --


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- intense, over one-month bombing?


 


MS. CLIFT: No.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: When do you cross that line?


 


MR. BLANKLEY: I think we crossed the line of proportionality when we started the campaign. Having started it --


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is there any line --


 


MR. BLANKLEY: -- (inaudible) -- logic of the NATO process now is to bomb the propaganda devices. But I don't think it was a good logic to begin with.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: When we were in Vietnam, we could have concluded that situation by bombing the dikes in the north. Nixon refused to do it, his predecessor refused to do it. Would you do the equivalent of that in order to settle this brush fire over there?


 


MR. BLANKLEY: I'm against the bombing in the first place. All I'm saying is that the logic of starting the bombing requires you to complete the process.


 


MS. CLIFT: John, you showed one side. You didn't show the atrocities that Milosevic is perpetrating. And frankly, NATO and President Clinton have taken a lot of heat because they don't want to go after buildings that have Rembrandts in them. And basically, what NATO is waging is a 21st century war, pretty damn surgical. And what Milosevic is waging is a 14th century war, quite brutal on the ground.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So we put ourselves on his level, and --


 


MS. CLIFT: No.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- we commit moral atrocities too? Is that it?


 


MS. CLIFT: No. We are nowhere --


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that it?


 


MS. CLIFT: No. We are nowhere near his level.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We are nowhere near his level?


 


MS. CLIFT: Nowhere near his level.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You have never been in a war situation. I have. I know what these people are going through. It is absolutely unbelievable.


 


MS. CLIFT: I have lost members of my family --


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I ask you.


 


MS. CLIFT: -- in wars, and my brothers served.


 


MR. O'DONNELL: But if you just want to go --


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Have you ever witnessed -- ever witnessed bombs dropping? Have you ever witnessed this?


 


MS. CLIFT: I am not -- I don't like bombs dropping, but I don't like people herded into cattle cars, either, and exterminated.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, we are brutalizing --


 


MS. CLIFT: There are atrocities on the other side.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- this country, and it is showing up. We have a culture of violence.


 


MR. O'DONNELL: But we have done nothing that compares to what Milosevic has done, in raw numbers, John.


 


MS. CLIFT: Right.


 


MR. O'DONNELL: And I don't want to quantify --


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I don't know whether that is true.


 


MR. O'DONNELL: -- I don't want to quantify --


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What are the raw numbers? Are we talking about deaths?


 


MR. O'DONNELL: We are talking about hundreds, probably, at the hands of Americans. And with Milosevic, we are talking about --


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you saying you are letting Milosevic establish our moral criteria --


 


MR. O'DONNELL: No.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- that if it is good enough for Milosevic, it's good enough for us?


 


MR. O'DONNELL: No. I agree with Tony. I am against the bombing. But I don't think this particular bombing is terribly unwise.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It was horrid. It was against a civilian building.


 


MR. O'DONNELL: It was against Milosevic's daughter.


 


MR. BARONE: John?


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So what? She was running a private radio station.


 


MR. BARONE: John?


 


MR. O'DONNELL: No, but the point is they are trying to make this personally painful for Milosevic.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, dear.


 


MR. O'DONNELL: That might not be a bad idea.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So, therefore, you kill 10 people and you cause this destruction of human life?


 


MR. BARONE: John?


 


MR. O'DONNELL: I am against it all, John.


 


MR. BARONE: There is an old saying that war is hell, and of course it is. And of course, we can stick -- (inaudible) -- all together --


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You are still governed as a human being by moral criteria, or you are an animal.


 


MS. CLIFT: That's right. And --


 


MR. BARONE: I think of war --


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Or you are an animal.


 


MS. CLIFT: John?


 


MR. BARONE: I think that Eleanor is correct, that it's a moral criteria --


 


MS. CLIFT: If you don't --


 


MR. BARONE: -- (inaudible) -- that we have not --


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit: Will the U.S. deploy combat ground troops in the war against Yugoslavia?


 


MR. BARONE: I am going to say no, although I have no idea whether that is true. I am fascinated that the president seems to arrange the NATO schedule so he won't have much time for Tony Blair and Jacques Chirac to pressure him toward ground troops.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. The big question is why is Blair so hawkish?


 


MS. CLIFT: I would say --


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He keeps talking about regional solutions.


 


MS. CLIFT: That's right.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think he fancies himself as a Winston Churchill, clarifying the Balkans forever. You know? That's kind of ridiculous thinking.


 


MS. CLIFT: Yeah. Well, John, when you go before any kind of war trials after this and you see who gets brought up, it is not going to be Tony Blair or any of the NATO allies. It is going to be your pal Mr. Milosevic.


 



MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And the KLA, I hope. The KLA I hope.


 


MS. CLIFT: We'll see.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If we go after Milosevic, let's go after the KLA.


 


MS. CLIFT: We'll see.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Those terrorists --


 


MS. CLIFT: It's not up to that yet.


 


MR. BLANKLEY: As Eleanor said, I think the president wants to weasel out of it and try to avoid a ground war. The question is: Will events drive him there in any event? I suspect he may stumble regretfully into a ground war.


 


MR. O'DONNELL: I think getting to a peace process is not weaseling. I think Milosevic's first step, as Clinton called it, is the first step, and we will avoid ground troops because Milosevic will come our way.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Ah, it's too close to call; however, I'll agree with Lawrence. (Laughter.)


 


Issue three: Carnage in Colorado.


 


COLUMBINE HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: (From videotape.) (Crying.) And then he came into the library, shot everybody around me, then put a gun to my head and asked if we all wanted to die.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It was a massacre, the deadliest teenage attack in school in American history.


 


Just before noon on Tuesday, two gunmen opened fire on their classmates, spraying bullets and throwing pipe bombs. In the wake of the rampage at Colorado's Columbine High, the grisly tally, 15 dead, including the killers, and over a dozen wounded, some critically. A horrified national and international audience watched the ghastly scene broadcast live from suburban Littleton, 10 miles from downtown Denver.


 


Question: What are the causes of this unspeakable horror?


 


Tony.


 


MR. BLANKLEY: It's a horrible event, but in fact, the cause is original sin. It's as old as mankind. In fact --


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you saying that this is bad seed, the children were bad seed, the killers?


 


MR. BLANKLEY: That there is evil in the world and nothing that society can do can stop that from happening. In fact --


 


MR. O'DONNELL: And there's mental illness.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What kind of a defeatist attitude is that?


 


MR. O'DONNELL: It's mental illness. This has nothing to do with anything but two kids going insane. If you want to attribute it to music, Frank Sinatra has killed more people than anyone else. The mafia loves Frank Sinatra. They listen to him as they drive to go kill people.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Maybe the question is how does mental illness of this dimension develop without it being monitored by parents and by schools?


 


MR. BARONE: Well that question. I think there's also the question of are we in an ocean of culture that puts these kids in a negative way. These were two evil-doers. But Hillary Rodham Clinton made that point quite intelligently.


 


MS. CLIFT: Easy access to guns. Going to be a big issue in the 2000 campaign. George W. Bush has a bill on his desk right now that would disallow the suing of gun manufacturers.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We'll be right back with predictions.


 


(Announcements.)


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions.


 


Michael?


 


MR. BARONE: Social Security reform privatization of individual accounts is dead, thanks to Al Gore's campaign manager, Bill Clinton.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?


 


MS. CLIFT: School uniforms, ridiculed as a small idea, will catch on across the country as one way to try to fight school violence.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: School uniforms. You'll be in, won't you, Tony, with your wardrobe.


 


MR. BLANKLEY: (Laughs.) Well, it's a winter costume. I know it's springtime.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Laughs.)


 


MR. BLANKLEY: But look, the War Powers Act, when it's voted on in the House, almost all Democrats and a few dozen Republicans will vote along to the Clinton way so that there will be no declaration of war and no forcing the troops to leave.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So Clinton's free and clear?


 


MR. BLANKLEY: You betcha'.


 


MR. O'DONNELL: This year the Senate Finance Committee will vote permanent Normal Trade Relations for China, as well as voting to approve its admission to the WTO.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: David Duke will not win the U.S. House seat vacated by ex-speaker-designate Bob Livingston. Nor will Duke make the runoff election.


 


Next week: The KLA: Robin Hood of the Balkans or Balkan terrorists? What role will the KLA have in Kosovo's future?


 


Bye-bye.


 


PBS SEGMENT


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue four: More causes of the Littleton carnage. This is an assemblage of some of the causes that have been advanced from various quarters: lack of parental supervision and nurturing; lack of school supervision; a violent culture -- movies, video games, rap music; abdication of responsibility by law enforcement; easy access to weapons, Eleanor; untreated emotional and psychological problems; nihilistic racist philosophies; rejection by peers.


 


Which one of those do you think has dominance in this situation?


 


I ask you, Tony.


 


MR. BLANKLEY: I don't think that any of them do, frankly. I think this is a tragic freak event that's not explained by parental failures, that's not explained by rock music. These -- I do not see that any of these factors are --


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, if they spent months building the pipe bombs, where were the parents?


 


MR. O'DONNELL: It's a case of extreme mental illness, the kind that could go undetected by parents -- extreme mental illness and --


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But why was it not monitored and discovered and --


 


MR. O'DONNELL: -- and this crazy access to guns that we have in the United States.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about movies?


 


MR. O'DONNELL: Movies have nothing to do with it, absolutely nothing to do with it.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think the government should play a role in regulating the --


 


MR. O'DONNELL: The government has a role here; that is to build those kids a new school, that's it, and go home.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A bigger school? Bigger school?


 


MR. O'DONNELL: Just build them the school, so no kid has to go into that building again. Have a barn raising.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Schools are too big, Lawrence. They have 2,000 and 3,000 pupils. There aren't enough teachers to --


 


MR. O'DONNELL: I went to a high school with 2,000. Nobody shot me.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- wait a minute -- to monitor their behavior. If there were more school districts, we could help resolve that problem.


 


MR. BARONE: John --


 


MS. CLIFT: Yeah, I --


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Would you not agree?


 


MR. BARONE: Well, John, I would agree for other reasons, and I think many of these causes that you're talking about are contributory to this thing.


 


But the fact is, this was the evildoing of certain individuals. I think that the calls that say that, well, if we could just control guns somehow -- there's no feasible gun control proposal that anybody's come forward -- that's going to reduce the likelihood that individuals of this character can do this. What we have to do right now, I think, is to keep them out of schools. We can do this with the same kind of metal detector that we use in airports. It's not something that's very agreeable, but I think this kind of thing works.


 


MS. CLIFT: Yeah --


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that the federal government plays a role in this regard? Give parents choices of schools. Get rid of the laws that make it hard for business to give parents flex-time at work. Open the schools until 5:00 or 6:00, so they fit into parents' working hours. And what about the regulation of violence on movies, getting the government back into that act?


 


MS. CLIFT: This was a terrifically affluent neighborhood and school. I don't think this school needed more resources of the kind you're talking about. Maybe they need to have people who are more tuned in to what mental illness is.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay.


 


MS. CLIFT: But I think you have to look at the things you can do something about, and guns and gun violence is one thing. And juries are going to award monetary amounts here. They're going to make a statement.


 


Anyway, okay. (Chuckles.)


 


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