Panel: Should Giuliani extend his mayoral term?

This partial transcript of Special Report with Brit Hume, September 28, 2001 was provided by the Federal Document Clearing House. Click here to order the complete transcript.

TONY SNOW, HOST : And joining me now, Fred Barnes, executive editor of "The Weekly Standard"; Mort Kondracke, executive editor of "Roll Call"; and Mara Liasson, national political correspondent for National Public Radio. They're all Fox News contributors, and Fred's already speaking.

FRED BARNES, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": I don't know: Look, if the Taliban joins the coalition, why shouldn't Osama bin Laden? I mean, come on. What is he -- what is he talking about? And what is this about the World Court? You know, these crimes were committed in the United States against the World Trade Center, at the Pentagon.

I mean, Jackson is so -- he is -- I mean, he's just not on the -- I mean, something happened in America on September 11th that changed the way people think, changed their mood, changed the politics, and nobody told Jackson.

MORT KONDRACKE, "ROLL CALL": Well, Jackson inevitably and always is siding with our adversary. I mean, he wants to get between the United States and whatever adversary there possibly can be, and there -- that's where for a moment there's limelight, and he wants to bask in it for as long as possible.

It's clear that the United States doesn't want him to go. It's clear that the Taliban, you know, is not going to give him anything. And so now he's postponing the limelight moment for just long enough for the lights to go out.

I say, Jesse, leave the stage.

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Well, what else can he do? He's decided he's not going to go. You know, if he's not going to make the trip, he's not going to get the limelight anymore. So I -- and I think he made the right decision.

SNOW: This has been a bizarre story, though, because originally it was they contacted me, and then even in presenting his letter it's pretty clear the Taliban guy says the contact that you initiated. So you've got this whole sort of swirl of different accounts about how this originated.

LIASSON: Yeah, I mean, look, in the past, Jesse Jackson has been useful in getting back captured Americans. There's no doubt about it. This is a different case and it doesn't sound like his going there would accomplish anything, and it sounds like he realizes that.

Other guests and topics for September 28, 2001 included:
" Jim Angle: the president's won't comment on special forces in Afghanistan
" Rita Cosby:American Muslim groups may have been sypathtic to terrorists in the past
" Carl Cameron's report on international coalition building
" Greg Palkot: little progress in hunt for Usama bin Laden
" Footnotes to the story of America united
Order the complete transcript

SNOW: This -- this also falls by several weeks his going down to Durban, South Africa, and announcing that he brokered some sort of deal involving Yasser Arafat, which turned out not to be a deal. I mean, this is -- this is two deeply embarrassing episodes.

BARNES: Well, this one is worse, though, because America has changed and perhaps the world has, but at least America has changed since September 11th. I mean, people -- America, you know, has come together on behalf -- behind the president to do something about terrorism, starting with the Taliban and Osama bin Laden, and it's not that a deal needs to be brokered. A war needs to be fought.

KONDRACKE: The one -- the one thing that you can say about Jesse Jackson is that he never really changes American policy. Sometimes he goes over to Syria, Iraq, Belgrade, and actually gets some hostages back and he leaves, and we go bomb anyway, you know, which is good news.

SNOW: Or as in the case of Libya with -- with the flyer there.


SNOW: But switching gears slightly, you had the president reiterate in this meeting with King Abdullah that he was -- his position with the Taliban was absolutely clear. There doesn't seem to be any give there. And despite a whole series of stories about whether we did or did not want them kicked out, it's pretty clear that his view is they've got to go if they don't get with the program right away.

LIASSON: Yeah. You're talking about the Taliban now?

SNOW: The president, yes.

LIASSON: Yeah. And of course, that raises all sorts of questions like "Are we going to get rid of them? Are we going to install a new government?" I think, you know, this is something the president was dead set against, what he used to call "nation building." And he says he's still against it. That's the kind of thing that Pakistan, it just sends shudders up the spines of the Pakistanis, because they see it as something that could be very destabilizing for them.

I think, you know, first things first: Let's see if we can get rid of Osama bin Laden.

SNOW: Is there a nation to build?

BARNES: No. Well, it doesn't look like it. There's rubble to move around.

The -- well, the president is just providing, and Colin Powell is, too, to some extent, sop for members of the coalition, who hate the idea of regime change. As you say, Pakistan, the leaders of Pakistan certainly fear that, and they do a lot of other places. They're happy to join a coalition that's just going to be against terrorism and Osama bin Laden. But when we start talking about regime change, they get very shaky. So they're pretending like we're not for regime change.

Look, if they have to fight the Taliban, then there's going to be a regime change in Afghanistan.

SNOW: Which also brings us to something Donald Rumsfeld was talking about, the defense secretary, which is shifting coalitions. It's pretty clear that we're compartmentalizing, to use a Clinton era term. We're going to have a coalition for intelligence, we're going to have coalition for economic pressure, we'll have a coalition for military. And each one's going to basically play different functions in...

KONDRACKE: Importantly, none of which will have a veto the way the coalition did in the end of the Gulf War, where we have to stop at a certain point. I mean, if we're -- we're -- if we want to do something, it seems to me we have free hands as long as we have basing rights in these various countries.

LIASSON: Well, although there is -- there is an implicit veto. In other words, if we care about keeping the so-called "coalition" together, or at least some part of it, that's going to put a constraint on our actions.

However, I do think that there's a big difference between the kind of rhetoric the president uses, which is very stark -- "you're with us or against us; if you're not with us, you're with the terrorists" -- and the kind of much more muddy, grayer reality of this operation.

It's possible that some of these countries who are the so-called "coalition" really won't be helping us in every way. I mean, look how many of these...

KONDRACKE: They certainly won't. They certainly won't.

LIASSON: You know, they won't. But we're not going to be going to war against them. That doesn't mean that they're with the terrorists. I think we're going to accept a lot less than being with us.

SNOW: A certain amount of hypocrisy. The last little question here: European nations seem to be a lot more eager, and especially now that news reports are indicating, that they've got problems on their own soil.

LIASSON: Yeah. I mean, and Germany, it sounds like it was a real hot bed for this.

It's interesting: When you look at the countries that have dealt with terrorism, terrorists on their soil and how they've dealt with it, France, which is the butt of many jokes in America about how helpful or unhelpful they are in our diplomacy, France...


... seems to have solved this problem. Germany has not.


KONDRACKE: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Internally, France is ruthless. I mean, they have -- everybody has got to register at a police station. You know, you've got to have an identity card. All that kind of stuff. It's just when we do things like that, that they say, well, you know, it's too bad, how unfortunate...


BARNES: This makes Mort go Krakatoa, but the truth is we don't need this coalition. It makes it nicer, it makes it a little easier, but basically it's the U.S. and the Brits. And we could do it just fine just getting a little intelligence from a few places and...

LIASSON: But do what?


KONDRACKE: We couldn't get the intelligence.

BARNES: Well, knocking out Osama bin Laden, knocking out the Taliban...

KONDRACKE: We could not get the intelligence.

BARNES: ... and handling (UNINTELLIGIBLE). All three...

KONDRACKE: That is ridiculous. That is totally ridiculous.

LIASSON: And then we knock out the Taliban and then what do we do?

KONDRACKE: That is totally ridiculous.


SNOW: All right. We're going to let Mort go Krakatoa, as Fred puts it. We'll take a break. We'll be back with more in a couple of minutes.


SNOW: We're back with our panel. The topic this time -- New York's mayor for life Rudy Giuliani. Now...


SNOW: He wants three months, everybody says, "yes, sir."


LIASSON: The thing that was so strange about this -- if he just wanted three months, I'm sure they would have said fine. But he said, "if you don't give me the three months, I am going to run on the conservative ticket and, you know, get the law changed and I will be mayor forever." I think Rudy Giuliani has covered himself with so much glory, why he would want to tarnish it by acting like a regular old politician?

KONDRACKE: Because he didn't want to give up the job. Bill Clinton would have done that if he could figure out how to do it. But there was a constitutional amendment in the way.

In this case, he could not get the New York state legislature or the city council to -- that's what he was really trying to do, is to get -- is to eliminate term limits so that he could run again. And even George Pataki doesn't seem to really have worked very hard to this end. So he's a loser in this one.

BARNES: You know why he's doing this is -- he is a regular old politician. Sometimes, they really rise to the occasion, as he has done.

LIASSON: He certainly did.

BARNES: But you know, something else has risen, as you would know particularly, Mara, a New Yorker, and that is that -- I didn't think it was there, but then I don't know New York City very well -- but the spirit and tenacity and resilience of New York City is there. I think a new mayor could handle it fine.

LIASSON: Yeah. And he personified that and...

BARNES: He has personified it. I mean, he's been helpful, but he's not necessary.

LIASSON: No, I agree. And especially, what he did was so unique and it was in such a particular moment, that I don't know why he wouldn't want to just go out on a high note. Even if he is a politician, he has -- there are greater things that await him after this.


BARNES: That's why term limits are great. I feel I haven't wavered at all in being in favor of term limits, even seeing Rudy Giuliani do so well and now have to go. Whoever wins, whether it's Mike Bloomberg or Mark Green, whoever...

KONDRACKE: Well, I would think that Freddie Ferrer, having refused the Giuliani offer, probably has helped himself in the runoff against Mark Green.

BARNES: He's right.

SNOW: OK. I want to go back to Mara's statement, which is that greater things await him. It strikes me that Rudy Giuliani is a congenital mayor of New York. What can he do that will be more satisfying to him than being...?

LIASSON: He would have run for Senate if it hadn't been for the combination of his affair and his health problems.

SNOW: Well, but he might have run for Senate only because of term limits, too.

KONDRACKE: Well, you know, I think -- I don't know what his future is. He may -- probably, he will run for another office, given a decent interval, or President Bush might appoint him to something.

BARNES: Well, he said he's offered himself to do any job that President Bush wants. I suspect he will get one, and let's see what happens there.

And look, I agree with Mara, though. I think he has a future career. I mean, he is...

SNOW: But he has no choice!

BARNES: No, but wait a minute. You have interview people every Sunday. Now, you'll have to admit, Rudy Giuliani is one of the greatest guys to interview. He is.

SNOW: Depending on a Sunday. Sometimes he's great and sometimes he's...


BARNES: Every time I've seen him he's great. I think he would be a good commander for Delta force, actually.

LIASSON: He's a Tom Ridge. I mean, he is someone who is a real executive, and it sounds like the job that Tom Ridge has been asked to do is so huge, I can't imagine that there are not parts of the security and defense project that wouldn't be perfect for him.


KONDRACKE: Tom Ridge and Rudy Giuliani?

LIASSON: Well, they would have to be separated.

KONDRACKE: They would have to be separated.

SNOW: All right. Well, on that note, we're going to part. Thanks, panel.

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