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Special Report

'Special Report' Panel on Clinton's Battle With Sexism and Global Warming to the Extremes

This is a rush transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume" from May 27, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: She's winning t he general election today, and he's not according to all the evidence. And I've never seen anything like it. I've never seen a candidate treated so disrespectfully just for running.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) NEW YORK: The idea that we would have a presidential campaign with so much of what has occurred has been very sexist would be just shrugged off, I think is a very unfortunate commentary.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIT HUME, HOST: So there you have it, a sense of the feeling of grievance in the Clinton camp over how she has been treated — specifically, has she been treated in a way that a plainly sexist?

Some thoughts on this now from Juan Williams, Senior Correspondent of National Public Radio, Nina Easton, Washington Bureau Chief of Fortune Magazine, and the syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, FOX News contributors all.

Well, how about it, Juan? Has Senator Clinton been subjected to sexist treatment in this campaign?

JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: There have certainly been moments where I would say that the kind of language that has been used to describe her — here I'm quoting here — "hellish housewife," "she-devil," someone said how we are going to watch a woman age in office —

HUME: I know, but has this been coming from the Obama camp?

WILLIAMS: No. This is all around. Some of this comes from people, the Chris Matthews of the world, who would describe themselves as good liberal Democrats. It's all around.

And I think it has just caught the attention of America's women, who have pretty much been supportive of Hillary Clinton, but who now in watching her in the last moments of her campaign where she is literally grasping at straws to stay in the race, are saying, wait a second, why is she being forced out? You heard this from Bill Clinton in that sound-bite, whey is she being disrespected?

HUME: He said she is being forced out in the face of the fact that she is winning in the polls against McCain.

WILLIAMS: Right, in the polls against McCain. And he says that they media is keeping a secret from the voters that somehow she has the lead in the popular vote.

The point is that she is, in fact, the underdog, that, in fact, the black man in the race, Senator Barack Obama, is being given royal treatment, and anything you would say —

HUME: To avoid racism.

WILLIAMS: — that might be construed as racist immediately sets off alarms. But you can say things about Hillary Clinton and bring out about jokes about nutcrackers and all the rest, and it's OK.

NINA EASTON, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, FORTUNE MAGAZINE: Yes, she has been subjected to forms of sexism. But, yes, it is really bad form and not leader-like to complain about it and whine about it when you're losing.

This is not a storyline we saw Margaret Thatcher pursue, for example, or any other. I find it interesting that Nancy Pelosi didn't want to go down this route, either.

But I think that there is a very specific storyline going on here that the Clintons are trying to build, and Juan alluded to that, and that is she's a woman, and they're going to claim after Puerto Rico she has gotten the popular vote, the majority of the popular vote, and she got dissed because she's a woman.

And that's what they're grasping at. I think there is a message behind this.

HUME: Do you think a serious case can be made that the reason she is not winning is that she is a woman?

EASTON: Look at the people who are voting for her. They are — the uber-liberal, most progressive people, who are supposedly non-sexist, are voting for Barack Obama. She is getting the white working class guys. So I don't think that that's actually hurting her at the polls.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I would agree. The reason she is being pushed out of the race is because he is about to amass a majority of delegates. This is about delegates, it's not because she's a woman.

Look, I think one of the problems for her is that she, unlike, as you said, Margaret Thatcher, who made it all on her own, there is a contradiction at the heart of her appeal to feminism, and that is she got her start and she, essentially, got her way into politics as the wife of, on the coattails of her husband.

And that contradicts the central feminist narrative, which is women ought to, can, and should achieve on their own.

So she is a feminist icon, but she it's obvious to anybody who has watched her career, that there is this sort of anachronistic quality to her, because she is not a woman who made it entirely on her own. And that's why I think they're extra touchy about the sexism and gender and discrimination.

Look, Barack Obama is losing a lot of votes entirely on the basis of his race. McCain is being savaged every night by the late night comics because of his age.

She, of course, suffers to some degree as a result of sexism. But take it like a man, and I'm using it as a gender-neutral way. That's grown-up politics. You are always going to lose a segment of the population because of prejudice. You don't whine about it.

WILLIAMS: What's interesting to me is the way she has handled it from the start is she thought she had to make herself more hawkish, especially on the war issue. I don't think that has worked to her advantage with the Democratic base, obviously.

And the second thing to say is all the top people in her campaign, thinking back to Patty Doyle, who was a campaign manager, Maggie Williams, who is now the campaign manager — I could go on — all these top people — Ann Lewis — are women.

And so to say you are blaming it on sexism — wait a second, this is a group of women who ran a campaign that I think was not a very good campaign.

EASTON: I want to go back on this question that she tied her coattails to Bill Clinton. And she also gave up a glittering career to marry this guy —

KRAUTHAMMER: She ended up the first lady of the United States, and that is one quality gets you there, if you marry the right guy.

EASTON: And she knew as New York Senator that she had to put in that hard groundwork to make it on her own. And then to come full circle now to claim that this is just about sexism, I don't think it bodes well for her future. I thing it's Hillary Clinton once again playing victim, and I don't think it's a good role for her.

HUME: Up next, is environmental activism going too far? Does the U.S. need global warming legislation? We'll be back after a break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VACLAV KLAUS: Environmentalism is based not on small issues of saving electricity here or of greening one pond or lake. That's not environmentalism. Environmentalism is an ideology which wants to control the world.

PETTY: Obviously he gets a lot of mileage on the fact that he lived under communist regime, and I certainly don't have that same experience. But I think he is engaging in is a bit of alarmism himself by using a scare tactic like that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HUME: What Vaclav Klaus said at the National Press Club today was that environmentalists seek control over people's lives and their economies that the soviets once had over countries like the Czech Republic or Czechoslovakia, as it was then known.

He has been a global warming skeptic from the get-go, and remains, as you can tell from those remarks today, one still.

We're back with our panel. So what about this, Juan? Do you think Vaclav Klaus is on the right track here, or that he is an alarmist in the other direction?

WILLIAMS: I don't know if he is an alarmist, but what he is saying is really interesting to me. I hadn't thought this through, but he is saying it is now beyond the scientists. Let's forget what the scientists have to say. President Bush has said he thinks global warming is a fact. President Bush was slow to come to the party, and all that.

But now here he is saying in fact that it is an ideology that is seeking to take control of the world. It is going to tell us how to live, what cars to drive, whether you can have a refrigerator, and all that, and suggest that it would somehow go beyond politics, and not in the way to suggest that we have a green movement that everybody gets behind, but, in fact, will have political consequence not unlike a dictatorship.

HUME: What do you think?

WILLIAMS: In all honesty, it struck me as something different. I had not heard this line of argument before because I have never felt threatened by an environmentalist. My consciousness is raised, but I've never felt that they were politically oppressive.

HUME: Nina?

EASTON: I thought it was alarmism. You can debate global warming. You can debate lots of what to do about it, and the extent to which humans have contributed to it, and so on.

But when he says climate or freedom — I didn't feel my freedom threatened after watching the rivers burn in the '70's when we had the Clean Water Act, and growing up in Los Angeles, in which I choked, and getting the Clean Air Act.

I don't think if you go to Beijing where the air is like London in the 1800s that the environmental controls are going to be a problem. He confuses, too, climate change issues with environmentalism, which he calls an "ideology."

When he says climate or freedom, let's not forget with freedom, the biggest problem now is our dependency — in the U.S., the biggest national security issue, the biggest freedom issue is our dependence on foreign oil. And to me that's the freedom issue, not the question of whether we're going to have more environmental controls.

KRAUTHAMMER: Look, on climate change, I'm agnostic. I wrote 20 years ago and believe today that humans pumping huge amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere can't be harmless.

But the idea that we know exactly what it does, and that it's catastrophic, I think, is rank speculation. It depends on computer models which are inherently speculative. It depends on a cascade of events and a prediction of a cascade of events, all of which are improbable. And if you add it all up, it is pure speculation.

And I think Klaus is right. By pretending that the issue is closed — one of the news magazines had a cover article that the argument over global warming is over. No arguments in science are over. Newton's laws of motion, people for 300 years imagined was over the debate on that, and they turned out to be wrong.

So the idea that at this early stage in the science the argument is closed — but Klaus is right that it is being used by the new class, people, the experts, the planners, people on the left — they used to say we ought to control society in the name of the working class-that's communism- -and then in the name of state control of industry, and our superior knowledge of how to control society — that is the British socialist model.

All of those models have collapsed. And what they have been handed here is a gift. In the name of the planet, now, these experts are going to tell us how to live, and regulate.

And Klaus is right. It's a way to take these decisions out of the hands of individuals and to put it in the hands of experts acting in the name of the state and in the name of the planet. That is the new socialism, and he's right.

We need to do study the science, I think, and to do the minimal stuff that would allow us to decrease our CO2 footprint.

WILLIAMS: Two points to make — one, I think if we wait 300 years to settle the argument, we could be way late and, at that point, none of us able to breathe or swim in the water.

But, secondly, I think his point is more about the idea that his country is in need of development. And he doesn't want to be told what he can build and what he can't build, and steps that he can take to industrialize his society.

KRAUTHAMMER: That is true, but I think his point is a larger one, which is it is a way to regulate society in the name of speculative science.

HUME: A few seconds left.

EASTON: Those are delicate political questions that nobody wants to hit head-on, which is this question of developing countries and how you deal with developing countries and their need to develop under environmental control.

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