The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour
ROBERT MacNEIL: Good evening. These are the top news headlines today. The Italian government fell in a political storm over the Achille Lauro. Italian prosecutors said they know which hijacker killed Leon Klinghoffer. The U.S. economy rebounded moderately in the third quarter, but housing starts have fallen sharply. Details of these and other stories in a moment. Charlayne Hunter-Gault is in Washington tonight. Charlayne?
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Here's tonight's NewsHour rundown. First, a look at why the government is making home mortgages tougher to come by. Then a report on why California is trying to smarten up its school textbooks. Next we ask the former Vietnam hero turned politician, Nebraska Governor Bob Kerrey, why he's bowing out. And finally, essayist Roger Rosenblatt offers some thoughts on World War II as seen through the camera of Robert Capa.News Summary
MacNEIL: Italian Prime Minister Bettino Craxi resigned today with bitter words for the United States. His five-party coalition government collapsed when the small Republican Party pulled out, criticizing Craxi's handling of the hijacking aftermath. Like the United States, the Republicans attacked Craxi for letting PLO official Mohammed Abbas leave the country when Washington wanted him extradited for alleged complicity in the hijacking. In a 40-minute speech to Parliament today, Craxi criticized the polemical tone of U.S. statements, deriving, he said, from an incomplete evaluation of the facts and circumstances. He also said the U.S. had violated Italian airspace because two U.S. warplanes followed the Egyptian airliner carrying Abbas from Sicily to Rome without authorization.
In Genoa today, prosecutor Dolcino Favi said they had reconstructed the killing of the elderly American Leon Klinghoffer in all details: why he was killed, who shot him and who threw the body overboard. He declined to give details, but the chief of Israeli military intelligence, Major General Ehud Barak, said they had evidence that the youngest hijacker, whom he didn't name, had shot the partially paralyzed Klinghoffer. A Portuguese cleaning worker and the ship's hairdresser were forced at gunpoint to push the body overboard and clean up the bloodstains. Barak said Klinghoffer was chosen by the Jewish sound of his name.
Meanwhile, the Achille Lauro has set sail on another Mediterranean voyage with nine FBI agents on board. The luxury liner, which returned yesterday to Genoa from its ill-fated cruise, will be examined and its crew questioned by the American agents who were granted special permission by Italian authorities for their investigation. The Achille Lauro's first stop will be its home port of Naples, and a U.S. spokesman in Genoa declined to estimate how long the FBI's on-site investigation would last. The American inquiry is separate from the Italians' own investigation.
HUNTER-GAULT: A $250,000 reward is being offered by the State Department for information leading to the prosecution of terrorists in two earlier incidents: the hijacking of TWA Flight 847 last June and the Kuwaiti Air Lines hijacking in December. Three Americans were murdered. The reward announcement came after six senators urged Secretary of State George Shultz to put a half-million-dollar bounty on the head of Palestinian leader Mohammed Abbas, the man the U.S. has accused of planning the Achille Lauro hijacking. Meanwhile, during testimony in support of arms sales to Jordan, Secretary of State Shultz had a veiled message for the PLO and those associated with terrorists.
GEORGE SHULTZ, Secretary of State: Organizations that seek legitimacy as partners in the peace process continue to commit and take credit for violent acts that threaten its very existence, and I would say and say again that those who engage in terror and violence have no place at the peace table. There are also forces, and I am referring to states, organizations and movements which are unalterably opposed to the achievement of peace. They are dedicated to destroying its prospects, just as they destroy lives, through intimidation and terror. They will not deter us, however, from the pursuit of peace.
HUNTER-GAULT: Meanwhile, what President Reagan called "the scourge of terrorism" was on the agenda in talks with Israeli leader Shimon Peres today. Following a closed-door meeting, President Reagan said the two leaders were determined to deny sanctuary to terrorists and said they were determined not to let terrorism blunt the peace process. Both men expressed optimism about negotiations between Israel and Jordan as the prelude to a new phase in the process.
Pres. RONALD REAGAN: Much progress has already been made. Prime Minister Peres has made clear Israel's desire for direct negotiations without preconditions, and King Hussein stated here at the White House on September 30th that he welcomes the prospect of beginning negotiations with Israel promptly and directly. This kind of determination and good faith gives the United States confidence that the hurdles to peace can be overcome.
SHIMON PERES, Prime Minister of Israel: We should not miss the opportunity of putting an end to belligerence and of entering honorable and direct negotiation. We are ready to meet without preconditions, without losing time, at any suitable occasion, be it in Amman, in Jerusalem or Washington. We are prepared to consider any proposal put forward by the Jordanians.
HUNTER-GAULT: The White House today called "sheer fantasy" published reports that Secretary of State Shultz might resign in a dispute over the administration's arms control policy. At the same time, a White House spokesman confirmed that President Reagan had personally reversed National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane after he attempted to redefine a key element of the policy. Sources were quoted as saying that Secretary Shultz had strongly objected to any reinterpretation of the language in the 1972 antiballistic missile or ABM treaty.
MacNEIL: There was mixed news on the economy today. Figures for gross national product showed that the U.S. picked up steam in the third quarter, July to September. GNP went up 3.3 , but it was well short of the growth needed to meet administration forecasts of a fall economic upturn. The other news was an unexpected plunge of 9.3 in housing starts last month. That was the sharpest monthly drop in more than a year.
HUNTER-GAULT: In Salt Lake City, authorities say a Mormon researcher, critically injured when a bomb accidentally went off in his car, was responsible for two fatal explosions linked to a disputed account of the Mormon Church's origins. We have a report on the story by Bill Silcock of station KBYU in Provo, Utah.
BILL SILCOCK, KBYU [voice-over]: When a bomb went off yesterday inside this car on this Salt Lake City street, police had their biggest break in a baffling case. Mark Hofmann, a dealer in historical documents and an active Mormon, was critically injured in the explosion. Today he is the prime suspect in two earlier bombings which killed Steven Christensen and the wife of his former business partner Gary Sheets. Hofmann sold the two businessmen a controversial letter written in 1830. If authentic, the letter would change some traditional teachings on the founding of the Mormon Church. Police believe that revenge has been Hofmann's motive, and that he may not have acted alone.
JERRY MILLER, federal agent: We've got a lot of followup work to do. There are possibly other people we'll be looking at, maybe co-conspirators.
SILCOCK: The two businessmen paid researchers here at Brigham Young University to prove if the letter was authentic. Fearing that those researchers might also be in danger, police searched the campus buildings, cars in the parking lot and the library archives for more bombs. None were found.
[voice-over] When police searched Hofmann's blown-up car, they did find evidence linking him to the earlier bombings and more historical documents. If these letters and books are also authentic, they could intensify the debate over the traditional founding of the Mormon Church.
MacNEIL: In El Salvador, the daughter of President Jose Napoleon Duarte could be freed by her guerrilla kidnappers within a few days. San Salvador Archbishop Arturo Rivera y Damas said the main points of a deal with the guerrillas had been worked out. Duarte's 35-year-old daughter, Ines, has been held for five weeks. Reuters news agency reported that the government has agreed to release 21 rebels to free her.
In the Philippines, Senator Paul Laxalt ended two days of talks as President Reagan's special envoy to President Ferdinand Marcos. Marcos said they'd agreed the Philippines must solve its problems without U.S. intervention. Laxalt would not talk with reporters. In Washington, the Philippines acting foreign minister, Pacifico Castro, said Washington's gloomy assessment of the threat from the Communist-led insurgency was wrong. He said Marcos could manage it.
HUNTER-GAULT: The Nobel Prize for Literature was awarded today to Claude Simon, the French avant garde novelist. In the late '50s he pioneered the so-called New Novel that did away with such conventions as plot and character development. The Swedish Academy said Simon's work "combines the poet's and the painter's creativeness with a deepened awareness of time in the depiction of the human condition." Simon, 72, whose work has been described by some critics as complex, was asked today about his Nobel Prize. "I have discovered that everything means nothing, and ultimately there is nothing to say. I have no message."
MacNEIL: Here's an update. We're reported several times on the efforts of some states to improve their schools by forbidding students to play sports if their grades are too low. In Texas, a "no pass, no play" rule took effect this year, and they just got the first set of grades this semester. The result: about 15 of high school varsity football players will be sidelined. With junior varsity it goes as high as 50 .
HUNTER-GAULT: That's the end of our news summary. Still ahead on the NewsHour, a focus segment on why it's going to be more difficult to get a home mortgage; a look at why making textbooks more up to date has become controversial; a newsmaker interview with the Vietnam war hero turned politician, Nebraska Governor Bob Kerrey, about why he's bowing out; and an essay on World War II remembrances by Roger Rosenblatt.
MacNEIL: This week we're introducing a new nightly feature in the NewsHour, electronic editorial cartoons by the internationally syndicated Ranon Lurie. He's invented a unique way of putting television technology to work for daily cartoons. Tonight, Lurie is thinking of the United Auto Workers strike against Chrysler.
[Lurie cartoon] Home Mortgages: Tougher Terms
MacNEIL: As we've just reported, there was bad news from the housing industry today. Housing starts fell sharply in September. Things are also getting tougher for potential home buyers seeking mortgages. This week new standards established by the Federal National Mortgage Association or Fannie Mae, go into effect. Fannie Mae is the nation's largest supplier of mortgage funds, owning or guaranteeing 10 of all home mortgages. The association's new guidelines will make qualifying for a mortgage harder. They require higher income levels for home buyers making small down payments. They prevent Fannie Mae from buying certain kinds of adjustable rate mortgages. These rules are designed to curb the record number of mortgage foreclosures and delinquencies which have hit home buyers this year and to stem heavy losses by mortgage insurers. CorrespondentElizabeth Brackett has a report on the problems facing home buyers in Chicago.
ELIZABETH BRACKETT [voice-over]: Seven years ago, a lifetime of hard work paid off for Joan and her husband. They bought their first house, a four-bedroom, three-bath home in a Chicago suburb. Joan, then 43, and her husband put down $5,000 on this $77,000 home. They were sure they would not have trouble making the $500-a-month mortgage payment.
JOAN: We felt that we could handle it. We had two incomes coming in, and everything looked fine.
BRACKETT [voice-over]: But life changed for Joan. First she lost her job, then her husband was laid off from his. Her daughter, Danay?, was hospitalized, and with no insurance after the job layoffs, the bills mounted. Then too, Joan hadn't paid much attention to the graduated rate schedule on her mortgage payments, a schedule that now meant that her payments were $200 a month more than they had been originally. She fell behind in the payments. She renegotiated with the mortgage company, but in December she was told she had not caught up fast enough. The foreclosure notice went out. She could keep her house only if she could come up with the total sum she owed.
[interviewing] Is that possible for you?
JOAN: Fifty-eight thousand dollars? Or by now it's probably 72. No way. There's no -- you know, there's no way. Unless I won the lottery.
BRACKETT: Joan's family is not alone with their problems. Foreclosures are at record levels across the country. In the Chicago area, six to seven hundred a month are recorded in the county records. Eighty percent of those are single-family homes.
[voice-over] Garry Furstenfeld knows the foreclosure story as well as anyone, and he has profited from that knowledge. Furstenfeld has made millions by buying foreclosed homes and properties at rock-bottom prices. He now runs a business telling other people how to get rich doing the same thing. Furstenfeld says there are patterns behind the record number of foreclosures.
GARRY FURSTENFELD, real estate investor: The number one reason is marital problems. Still. Has always been, still is. In the '70s there were three major reasons, divorce and marital problems being number one; number two being death -- estate settlements problems; and number three, loss of job. In the '80s we've seen two new things: high interest rates and balloon payments.
BRACKETT [voice-over]: Furstenfeld says the drop in the inflation rate and the leveling off of the real estate market have also pushed up the number of foreclosures. Homes no longer appreciate like they once did, and homes are harder to sell once owners get into trouble. Homes have once again become shelter, not an investment, says Furstenfeld.
E'llyn Gonzales knows the foreclosure numbers too, but from the other side of the looking glass. Four years ago Gonzales lost her $100,000 suburban home when her husband sent the mortgage payments to his private checking account, not the mortgage company. She divorced her husband but lost the house in foreclosure. She and her five children now rent. She spends much of her time at a friend's home working on a counseling system she has put together to help others handle the nightmare of foreclosure. She says when the foreclosure notice comes, most people react the same way she did.
E'LLYN GONZALES, mortgage counselor: Shock and disbelief. Nobody really believes it'll happen. They always think that something will happen, that it won't. And then depression sets in and they really don't know what to do, or if there's anything they can do.
BRACKETT [voice-over]: Gonzales says many people walk away when the foreclosure notice comes, but there are things that can be done. She helps clients arrange second mortgages, often through a previously unused Veterans Administration loan. If all else fails, she urges clients to sell rather than giving the home up for a share of sale. She says clients cannot afford to pay her much, and she hopes her counseling services will be funded by area banks.
Ms. GONZALES: Foreclosure not only affects me as being foreclosed, it affects you as a home owner. If I'm unable to make my payments for a year, the bank has to absorb the costs of all of -- they have to absorb my insurance, they have to absorb taxes, loss of interest. Interest rates at banks then go up and affect you when you want to buy your home. So it's not a single issue. It affects all of us.
HUNTER-GAULT: For more on the mortgage problems faced by home owners, we have with us David Maxwell, chairman and chief executive officer of the Federal National Mortgage Association.
Mr. Maxwell, what can you say to individuals like the ones we just saw who are either losing their homes because of foreclosure or are delinquent in their payments? What kind of advice do you give?
DAVID MAXWELL: Well, I think I can say two things. First of all, we cooperate with a lot of the lenders from whom we buy mortgages on forebearance programs. And so if you have a little problem with your mortgage but you think that it's going to be corrected, whether it's a marital difficulty or whatever it happens to be, I would suggest the first thing you do is talk to your mortgage lender and see if it's possible to have a forebearance period for a little while while you get your affairs straightened out.
HUNTER-GAULT: What do you mean, a little while?
Mr. MAXWELL: Well, whatever can be worked out. I mean, there are many thousands of loans that we own that are now in forebearance, where the borrowers are in fact temporarily paying lower payments until they can correct whatever problem arose. It might be that a health -- there was an illness in the family or something of that kind. But the major thing that we have to now look forward to is that these people express very eloquently the problem that foreclosure is for home owners, and the last woman that was on, about the problem it is for lenders. It is an unacceptable level of foreclosures in the whole system right now, and as we go forward, people must make sure that when they buy a home, they can afford to carry the payments. As far as -- I mean, you can't foresee everything, but you shouldn't get into a home that you can't afford to carry.
HUNTER-GAULT: I saw you shaking your head when she said something about giving advice about getting second mortgages. What that you saying, "No, that's bad advice"?
Mr. MAXWELL: Well, I had a little problem, seeing how if you are already having trouble meeting your payments on a first mortgage that you would then be able to carry a second mortgage in addition, because generally speaking the rates on second mortgages are higher than they are on first mortgages.
HUNTER-GAULT: All right. Now, you say that you can't anticipate the things like death and marital problems and so on. But I mean, what kinds of things can a person or persons buying a house, can they anticipate? How do they determine whether or not they can afford it?
Mr. MAXWELL: Well, I disagree with the gentleman saying -- I mean, I think that marital problems have always been a large cause of defaults and foreclosures. But what we're seeing now is a new phenomenon, and it's concentrated in some areas of the country more than others, where people simply don't have the income to meet the mortgage payments. And that's because they have lost their jobs or because they have gotten into mortgages which -- we heard one -- where the payments are graduated and where they increase regardless of what is going on with interest rates in the economy. So you have to be sure that you have an adequate income to cover the mortgage payments. You have to be sure that you have enough equity in the property. That is the key, and that's where we find people mailing in the keys, because they don't have equity in the property.
HUNTER-GAULT: And you have a little formula, don't you, for working out what an accurate -- adequate income is. What briefly is that?
Mr. MAXWELL: Well, very briefly, on the low down-payment loans -- that is, where 5 down payment -- Fannie Mae now says that you can't devote more than 25 of your income to housing expense or more than 33 of your income to your total debts. We have lowered that from what it used to be because we feel that that is a sufficient standard. Now, you have to remember that not many years ago that was the universal standard, so this is not a big change.
HUNTER-GAULT: All right. Now, what about mortgages? Your association won't buy certain kinds of adjustable-rate mortgages. What kind of advice do you give to people on that?
Mr. MAXWELL: Well, I think when they go to get an adjustable-rate mortgage, they have to calculate what they have in the way of income expectations, and then they have to look at how high that mortgage, that adjustable-rate mortgage, could go if interest rates increase, and then measure against that what they feel they will be able to pay if that happens.
HUNTER-GAULT: You know, critics of the new guidelines that Robin laid out about -- that Fannie Mae has come up with, say that what you're doing is really forcing out thousands of people who -- potential home buyers, that they'll never be able to buy homes. Do you --
Mr. MAXWELL: No, that's obviously not our intention and it's not the case. As a matter of fact, not many years ago everybody -- my parents put down 20 , and it was routine to make a 20 down payment and to have this 25-33 rule. What we're saying is if you have a very low down payment, then you have to have the income to make sure that you can carry that mortgage. And if you don't now, then you shouldn't probably be buying a home; you should save your money and buy it later.
HUNTER-GAULT: Well, what kind of people do you think are going to be squeezed out for the moment? I mean, you said a few minutes ago people in certain areas were going to have difficulties.
Mr. MAXWELL: Well, people in certain areas are having difficulties right now. That's where we're finding most of the foreclosures.
HUNTER-GAULT: Where is that?
Mr. MAXWELL: In, well, Texas is a -- really the worst situation right now in the country.
HUNTER-GAULT: All right, in terms of the kinds of people who will not be able to buy homes.
Mr. MAXWELL: Well, we hear a lot of talk about the first-time home buyers as being the ones that may have a harder time meeting these underwriting standards. But you have to remember that we have no way of knowing whether the loose underwriting standards that previously existed were taken -- were used by first-time home buyers and others, when they could very well have made higher down payments. So I think that people starting out may have to wait longer, they may have to buy a smaller house. But avoiding what we saw tonight of the pain of foreclosure is well worth that price.
HUNTER-GAULT: Well, what's your prognosis? Do you think your guidelines are going to work, or are we going to see a period of a lot of pain for a lot of people for some time to come?
Mr. MAXWELL: We have some pain that is left over from the early period of this decade. But I think that the underwriting guidelines are going to make for a much healthier housing market and much happier home buyers and mortgage lenders. And as a matter of fact, the largest mortgage company in the United States, Lomas and Nettleton, announced yesterday that they are going to follow Fannie Mae's guidelines. So I believe our guidelines will become the new standard.
HUNTER-GAULT: All right. Well, Mr. Maxwell, thank you for being with us.
Mr. MAXWELL: Thank you very much. Smartening Up Textbooks
MacNEIL: From housing to education. Students and sometimes teachers have long complained that textbooks can make for dull reading. Recently a growing number of educators have raised a more serious charge, accusing publishers of deliberately "dumbing down" textbooks, avoiding controversial subjects so as not to offend pressure groups. In California, the Board of Education says it's determined to reverse this trend. Last month the board rejected all junior high school textbooks, saying they failed to treat adequately the subjects of evolution and human reproduction. This week the six publishers of the rejected textbooks all announced that they would revise their books to meet the new California standards. Stephen Talbott of public station KQED in San Francisco reports that the campaign against watered-down textbooks is part of California's overall effort to revitalize public schools.
STEPHEN TALBOTT [voice-over]: An eighth-grade science class at the Martin Luther King School in San Francisco. This is a new experimental public school, emphasizing science, math and computers. Located in a poor, predominantly black neighborhood, the school aims to provide a quality education to a racially diverse student body. It's all part of the movement to revitalize California's public schools, a movement which is now determined to set higher standards for textbooks. The California Board of Education last month unanimously rejected all the textbooks submitted for use in junior high school science classes. The board's action came after a review panel charged the books systematically omitted thorough discussion of human reproduction, scientific ethics and the theory of evolution.
BILL HONIG, California education superintendent: You can't understand biology, modern biology, unless you do it through the prism of evolution. It just permeates the whole subject. So if you eliminate evolution or narrow it or constrict it, these students are never going to be able to understand what biology is all about.
TALBOTT [voice-over]: Bill Honig, California's superintendent of public instruction, has led the campaign to strengthen academic standards in the state's public schools. Now he is going after textbooks which he considers bland and superficial.
Supt. HONIG: It's not just in evolution or creationism; it's a much broader issue. We've seen books such as Romeo and Juliet watered down or expurgated. We've seen The Diary of Anne Frank kept out of the curriculum. What's happened previously is because we weren't there, publishers, being a commercial enterprise, whenever there was a controversy just ducked. Why take a risk? What we're saying is you can't afford not to give us the kind of quality we're looking for just because somebody may object.
TALBOTT [voice-over]: The publishers whose books were rejected in California denied that they have tiptoed around tough controversial material or that they have been intimidated by religious fundamentalists. But D.C. Heath and Company, Prentice-Hall, Macmillan, Charles Merrill, and Holt, Rinehart and Winston all declined to be interviewed on camera for this report. Donald Ecklund, a vice president of the Association of American Publishers, says that the industry is caught in the middle of many conflicting demands.
DONALD ECKLUND, Association of American Publishers: Publishers have responded to many demands, some very legitimate demands. But then in different parts of the country you will have reactions in different ways. Just to give you an example, that you can take the same textbook, and in one part of the country it might be cited because there are too many women in nontraditional roles, and in other part because it didn't have enough -- the same book. So this is a very diverse country.
TALBOTT [voice-over]: In California, the science review panel found that all the new textbooks they examined "minimize the use of the word evolution, perpetuate popular ignorance about the nature and content of the theory of evolution, create false impressions about the scientific view of evolution, and in short, deny the importance of evolution as a part of contemporary science." For example, one seventh-grade book by D.C. Heath and Company includes only six pages on evolution while devoting four pages to the earthworm. Francie Alexander is the state's textbook development director.
FRANCIE ALEXANDER, California textbook development director: You don't hear any modern scientists mentioned. You don't have information from areas like biology and blood chemistry and modern paleontology brought into the whole discussion. So it's -- what's not there is largely the problem. They've just started a discussion of the theory of evolution; they haven't carried it through, they haven't made it modern and up-to-date.
TALBOTT [voice-over]: This sixth-grade science class at San Francisco's Martin Luther King Middle School begins the year with earthworm dissection. Later they'll move on to evolution. But ever since the early 1970s, fundamentalist groups in California have tried to cut back or eliminate any discussion of evolution in the public schools.
KELLY SEAGRAVES, Creation Science Research Center: They shouldn't tell my child, "Hey, what you believe in the home isn't true." In other words, the textbook now says that man evolved from an ape. That really says that God didn't create man. We believe God created man. Now, unless evolution is a fact of history provable beyond a shadow of a doubt, they can't teach that to my child.
TALBOTT [voice-over]: Kelly Seagraves is director of a conservative fundamentalist group in San Diego which won a suit against the state in 1981 ruling that evolution cannot be taught as dogma. But Seagraves thinks there's still too much on evolution in the classroom, and he opposes Superintendent Honig's effort to put more on evolution back in the textbooks.
Mr. SEAGRAVES: He says basically if you don't like the way we're doing this, you know, sue us. So I think that, you know, you have to understand that, you know, he's taking his stand and we will have to take ours. If there's a violation of constitutional law, then of course certain things could happen. An injunction could be filed, and all the textbooks and all the changes could be thrown out and all the books could be thrown out.
TALBOTT [voice-over]: Superintendent Honig says he will not be deterred by threats from creationists.
Supt. HONIG: Back in 1973, when President Reagan was governor, the state Board of Education, his state Board of Education made the distinction that evolution and evolution alone should be taught in the sciences. Religion, other ideas, creationism, they should be handled in another part of the curriculum in the social sciences. It's always been clear that evolution should be taught in California. The question is, how well should it be taught? And that's what the issue was before the board when they rejected the books.
TALBOTT [voice-over]: The California Board of Education has also ordered publishers to expand and deepen their superficial treatment of human reproduction.
Ms. ALEXANDER: It's basically a "birds and the bees" curriculum, and the youngsters have to make inferences in quantum leaps to really understand, then, how the human reproductive system works.
TALBOTT [voice-over]: The revised sections on human reproduction will be handled in supplementary optional textbook materials which parents will have the right to review. But that doesn't satisfy Kelly Seagraves.
Mr. SEAGRAVES: The real problem I see is that when you're emphasizing that man is a primate, that man is a member of the animal kingdom, that man is just a mammal, and sex is a biological function, and you can't present any of the moral absolutes that we would have as a religious concern, that now this discussion I think leads to more sexual activity.
TALBOTT [voice-over]: Board of Education officials respond that the new textbook guidelines stress sexual responsibility and ethical behavior. This week all six publishers whose books were sent back for revision announced that they would make the changes to meet California's science guidelines for evolution, ethics and human reproduction. Financially the publishers don't have much choice, since California represents 11 of the nation's $1.3 billion textbook market. When California talks, the publishers can't afford not to listen.
Supt. HONIG: I think to give them their due, what they're saying to us is, "Give us a clear signal, we'll give you the books that you want."
TALBOTT [voice-over]: The publishers have until February to submit their revised textbooks. If they are approved, they will be available for use in classrooms like this one next fall. But Honig and his reform movement aren't stopping with science textbooks. Next year the California curriculum review committee will examine math books, and in 1987, reading books, many of which they say have been gutted of their magic and challenge by bland, easy-to-read formula writing.
Supt. HONIG: I think this is part of a nationwide movement now for quality books, because the president of the Texas board has said it was a gutsy act in California and he's going to take a look at the books in Texas. The broader letters and so forth have been overwhelmingly favorable from both this state and nationally, that it's about time somebody stood up for quality.
HUNTER-GAULT: That report by Stephen Talbott of public station KQED in San Francisco. Still ahead on the NewsHour, we ask "What's next?" to a Vietnam war hero turned politician, soon to become a former governor, and then we take an essayist's look at World War II as seen through the lens of Robert Capa. Bob Kerrey: Bowing Out
MacNEIL: Next tonight, we have an unusual newsmaker interview. Nebraska's Democratic Governor Bob Kerrey surprised people this week by announcing he would not seek a second term. Political observers had Kerrey marked as a rising Democratic star. He had all the ingredients, even a much-publicized relationship with movie star Debra Winger. He won a Congressional Medal of Honor in Vietnam as a Navy commando. A grenade exploded at his feet, but despite severe injury he led his unit to safety. He lost his leg below the knee and became a prominent antiwar activist at home. That's when Jim Lehrer interviewed him first, in 1973.
JIM LEHRER: Do you think this war was worth it, worth the cost?
BOB KERREY: Oh, no, no.
LEHRER : Do you have any personal bitterness about the price you paid?
Mr. KERREY: Right now I don't. There are times when I do. Whenever you are unable to -- whenever you're frustrated, you blame something, right? I mean, if you can't do something you want to do, you blame it. I mean, that's the way I am. If I can't get a job, I have a reluctance to blame myself. I usually blame somebody else. And so the logical thing for me to do is to come back to Vietnam, because it is the source of many of my current problems. It's certainly the source of my disability. It's certainly the source of the bad memories that I have. And at the same time, certainly there are some good things that it did for me. But, you know, it's not -- the good things aren't worth it. I've seen people get those things without paying that kind of -- those kinds of dues.
LEHRER: Did you find sometimes you just wanted to shake somebody and say, "You know, let me tell you what happened to me, what's going on in Vietnam"? Was that the feeling you had sometimes?
Mr. KERREY: Well, I was -- yes, I'd say that's right. I'd say more than shaking. We were talking -- I was talking to a university group once, and the Young Americans for Freedom were there on the same program. And someone from the audience who knew me said -- stood and said, "I think I should explain to you that Bob was wounded -- or was injured in Vietnam." And the Young Americans for Freedom, whose goals I nd abominable, said, "Probably shellshock." You know, a remark which was, you know, so cold and so ignorant that I was just completely stunned, and yet it kind of summed up to me the frustration that I was having at that time trying to bring the war back a little bit.
MacNEIL: Ten years passed and Kerrey emerged as the new governor of Nebraska, and Jim interviewed him again.
LEHRER : It was clear to me sitting out there talking with you nearly 10 years ago that you were a very angry man, and I think it came through in that interview. Would you agree?
BOB KERREY, Governor-elect of Nebraska: Yes.
LEHRER: Are you still angry?
Gov.-elect KERREY: Oh, I think I still have anger. But I try to direct it and recognize that you just can't -- you've got to feel it and let it do things for you that are useful. I don't think there's anything wrong with being angry. There's plenty of things about which I feel anger that are certainly unrelated to the war in Vietnam. A lot of which -- a lot of the things that got me involved in this gubernatorial race in Nebraska had to do with anger about agriculture prices and the apparent abandonment by certain people of the plight of farmers and ranchers in Nebraska, that sort of thing. So I think it's okay, and good to be angry.
LEHRER: Sure. Do you think that you're a different Bob Kerrey sitting here now than you would have been had you not had that awful experience in Vietnam?
Gov.-elect KERREY: Yes.
LEHRER: In what way?
Gov.-elect KERREY: Oh, a middle-class suburban white boy who had never hurt, who had never suffered, who had never felt any pain, who had never realized that there was suffering and pain outside of my life. And I saw it, felt it, tasted it first hand, and I know it exists right now, as we sit. Even though I may not feel it myself, even though you and I are comfortable and well fed.
LEHRER: Well, thank you, thank you, thank you.
Gov.-elect KERREY: We still know it's out there. And I know very much that it's there. So it's affected me that way.
LEHRER: And it's affected your decision to go into politics, run for governor, and you think it's going to affect you when -- January 6th is when you're inaugurated, right?
Gov.-elect KERREY: Right.
LEHRER: That it's going to affect you when you sit down in that chair?
Gov.-elect KERREY: Yeah, I don't want to overestimate the impact. It will have an impact on me. The upbringing of my parents has had an impact on me. My church has had an impact on me. Lots of things have impacted me.
Gov.-elect KERREY: But, yes, it will influence me. It has not qualified me to be governor. The first qualification is that I was born a citizen -- I mean, I'm a citizen of this country, and that's the principal qualification.
LEHRER: This is your first time you ever ran for public office and you decided to go for governor. Why governor?
Gov.-elect KERREY: Oh, a number of things. One -- I mean, I'm an administrator. It's an administrative position. I felt the position was good for me; I felt that I could do a good job at it, so I was -- it looked like a job that was well suited for me. I wasn't terribly happy with the performance of the incumbent, and felt the timing was right.
MacNEIL: Finally last night, another glimpse of the evolution in Bob Kerrey. Jim Lehrer asked him about the decision not to run again.
LEHRER: What's the deal? Why no second term?
Gov. BOB KERREY: Oh, Jim, it's mostly I just don't feel it. I enjoy the job; I like the people, I like the challenge, like the work. I really haven't been overwhelmed by the job. But I just don't feel it. And I believe that you can't build a house any better than you are, and I guess I'm a little bit concerned that, personally, that if I ran for reelection, I'm not sure I could be as good a governor the second four years as I was the first.
Gov. KERREY: Well, I'd just be -- you know, I think it's got to be here. For me it's not a job, it's an act of service. And if it's not here, then it tends to be more a mental task and a more physical task. And if that's the case I think that you end up giving people bad government, making bad decisions, end up treating people in ways that you shouldn't do. So even though I like it and I feel comfortable in it and I -- it was very hard, because I know I've disappointed people and I know I've hurt some people by saying no, I don't want to be governor for four more years. I felt that I must, and in fact today feel that the decision was a good one.
LEHRER: Did it come to you like a bolt of lightning in the last few days? Or it's something you've been thinking about?
Gov. KERREY: No, it really didn't. In fact, the problem is I've been thinking about it too much, and in thinking about it I would tell you that my mind has a way of just grabbing the bull and wrestling it over the line. But when I stopped thinking about it and I just let myself feel about it, I don't feel as if I want to be governor for four more years.
LEHRER: You told reporters out in Nebraska that "I need to find a little more danger." What in the world was that all about?
Gov. KERREY: Oh, that'sme liking a little bit of the unknown. I mean, it was in response to a question that they were trying to find out -- "Well, what are you going to do?" And I'd first of all say I don't think it's fair for me, and that's not necessary for me, and in fact, I really don't think it's terribly good for me to sit down and say, "Okay, now what am I going to do?" As I said, I don't worry about being unemployed. It was never employment that led me to become governor. And all I say in measuring what I'm going to do when I talk about danger is that I'm likely going to select something that does have a little bit of -- a little bit or perhaps a great deal of risk, something that has a lot of the unknown about it. Something --
LEHRER: In politics?
Gov. KERREY: I don't rule out politics. I don't rule out most anything that's legal.
LEHRER: Okay. There have been a lot of stories, as I'm sure you've read them, about the possibility of you being a candidate for president, a kind of a John Kennedy from the plains. Is that anywhere on your mind at all?
Gov. KERREY: It's not here right now. It's not -- and you know, I was asked a question yesterday by a reporter in Omaha, who said -- when I motioned to my heart, he'd say, "You mean, you don't have that fire in the belly?" Well, I think that fire in the belly that's referred to by observers and politicians alike is more a physical thing; it's not an emotional thing, and it truly is a feeling of the heart. And right now I don't have the desire, I don't have the feeling that I could, should or would like to be governor.
LEHRER: But president of the United States?
Gov. KERREY: Or president. Yeah.
LEHRER: Yeah. You had that fire the last time we talked, about being governor of Nebraska.
Gov. KERREY: I sure did.
LEHRER: Yeah, what happened?
Gov. KERREY: I'm not that good that I can sit and figure that out, frankly. I don't know.
LEHRER: Yeah. Yeah.
Gov. KERREY: That's your job.
LEHRER: Okay. One thing you said, for instance, I remember, was that your number one priority was to figure out a way to raise farm prices because you thought that was the key to all that was good and wonderful for the folks in Nebraska. It didn't work, did it?
Gov. KERREY: Well, we figured out a way; we just didn't get it done. No. As a matter of fact, I was unsuccessful in accomplishing that objective.
LEHRER: What happened?
Gov. KERREY: Well, a number of things. I don't have any control over the deficit; I don't have any control over the price of -- the value of the dollar; and I certainly don't have any control over the President of the United States, whose policies are simply running at odds with anyone's attempt to get prices up. And, you know, I'd mark that -- put that into the category of failure. But again, I don't want you or anybody to get the feeling that this failure, this disappointment that I felt is overwhelming to me. It's not. I mean, it happened, so there's another disappointment in my life. I've had those before and will have more again. I'm not going to avoid life or politics as a result of being disappointed.
LEHRER: When we talked before, you talked about the mark that your Vietnam experience had made, and an indelible one it had made on you. Has being governor of Nebraska left some marks?
Gov. KERREY: Oh, some good marks. I used to carry around with me a number of misconceptions about politics. The first one was that the decisions are easier than they are in business, where you've got profit and the potential bankruptcy staring you in the eye every day. And the fact of the matter is, decisions in politics in many ways are more difficult. And the process of making those decisions I think truly do contribute significantly to your own sense of who you are. If you let it. Now, it can also transform you into a monster. But if you let it, it can actually give you a greater sense of who you are. It's a very lonely task at times, and there's nothing about that -- nothing like that kind of loneliness to give you at least the opportunity to say this is who I am. I may be not that great at times, but at least, you know, here I am.
LEHRER: Did you find yourself at any time making a decision or being on the verge of making a decision where you didn't like what you were?
Gov. KERREY: Oh, I have a very good friend who I appointed attorney general. I told him there's two things that you're going to do that's going to hurt. Two things that you'll do that'll hurt you. The first one is, somebody will say something about you that's not true, and because it's so awful you can't say anything back to them because you look like an idiot arguing. And that hurts nonetheless. The second one is worse, and that is where you say, "I'm going to be true to myself. I'm Bob Kerrey and I'm going to tell people exactly what I think and what I feel." But there are times when you just don't. There are times when you say things that aren't you. You fall from grace, and you say, "Oh, my gosh, I've said something, I did something that wasn't me." The worst thing you can do is to try to pretend that you didn't do it. I mean, all you have to do is look at it and say, "Well, that's -- I'm another -- that's a human being and I make that fall like everybody else at birth." But there's no question nonetheless that it hurts. You say and you do things that aren't you, and it hurts.
LEHRER: Do you enjoy the game of politics -- shaking hands, making speeches, patting people on the back, saying things that they want to hear, that kind of thing?
Gov. KERREY: No. No. There are times when in the process of doing that you have the opportunity to feel people. But most of the time, for example, you stand up and give a speech, and they hear you, they don't say things back. You don't really quite get into the flow of life, and you have to be careful with it. You can get into the flow of life if you permit yourself to in the moments when you're out amongst folks, but you can't do that all the time, and that I do miss, and that part of politics I don't particularly care for. But any job's got bad qualities about it. I'm sure you interview people you don't care to interview either.
LEHRER: No comment. No comment. Finally I've got a question that I must ask you or I'll be in trouble if I don't.
Gov. KERREY: You'll be in trouble if you ask it.
LEHRER: I know.
Gov. KERREY: But I don't employ you.
LEHRER: You're not right here with me, and --
Gov. KERREY: I don't sign your checks, is that what you're saying?
LEHRER: That's exactly right. And you're a long way away from where I am. But there's been a lot of publicity, as you know, about your relationship with Debra Winger, the movie star. Has that had anything at all to do with your decision not to run for governor again?
Gov. KERREY: No. No. It's had a lot to do with me, but it has not had anything to do with my decision to run for governor.
LEHRER: What's it had to do with you?
Gov. KERREY: Oh, that's more than I will tell you or the people of this country right now.
LEHRER: Thank you very much, Governor Kerrey.
Images of World War II
HUNTER-GAULT: Finally tonight, an essay. For many months, the end of World War IIand its aftermath have been the subject of many commemorations. Essayist Roger Rosenblatt has some thoughts about the significance of these anniversaries.
ROGER ROSENBLATT: It is hard to let go of the Second World War. In 1985 we commemorated the 40th anniversaries of V-E-Day, V-J-Day and Hiroshima. But we could have waited 'til the 50th anniversaries just as easily. We did not want to wait. We very much sought to remember that war, to keep it alive in our minds as the dream war, everything black and white, clear and clean. The victims squared off against the tyrants, each giving the other solid definition. But there was more to the dream war, too. Victim and tyrant also defined each other's dreams. In a way, World War II was a war of dreams -- wrong dreams versus right ones, wrestling like titans on the battle plains for control of the world.
Robert Capa looked at the dream war through the viewer of his camera. Alfred Knopf's has just published a collection of Capa's photographs, which are now on display at New York's International Center of Photography. Capa, called the greatest war photographer in the world in the 1930s and 1940s, darted from battlefield to battlefield in Spain, France, Italy and Germany, getting the war down in black and white, making clear the gunfire and the heroism, and the people, most of all -- people caught at the moments of their highest courage or their deepest suffering and helplessness. Some presented their wounded to Capa's camera the way one would present an offering. Their faces gleamed with the war, as did Capa's own face, which was at once sly, funny and brave. A hero's face and a black marketeer's. A pose and the real McCoy.
Such things could come together comfortably in the war of dreams. The period of ferocious realities was also a period of romance and fantasy, raised fists, quick love, cheering in the streets. The fascists and the Nazis had their dreams and made them real. The righteous nations had to enter the dreams of the fascists and Nazis in order to take away the destructive dreams, to let a better reality prevail. Thus everything that Capa photographed was real and unreal too. One man is shot because another man dreams that he can own his soul. But the man who is shot dreams as well. Until the falling soldier falls, all things are possible. The world is renewed, cleansed of Hitler, Franco and Mussolini. Good and bad alike believed that all things were possible.
Do we in some sense miss that time? Not the particular evils, of course, but the capacity to feel that the world is in our hands, the capacity to feel in world-size terms. Clearly the world is not in our hands anymore. Two giants walk warily in a circle around a pile of bombs. Nothing but two-bit Hitlers since the war. No wild men raving about superior beings and inferior beings, which is the way it should be. That we know. Yet when the mad dreams died, so did the dreams that stood up against them. The dreams of life were brought into focus by the dreams of death. The planet cooled after World War II, it froze in two halves. No wonder we look back so often. Not fascination with evil alone, but fascination with passion draws us back.
The world cannot stand an overdose of romanticism. The war proved that. When a few people believe that they alone can talk to God and that God speaks only to them, the rest of us have to run for the hills or take up arms. No way to live. Still, there was something valuable about participating in the mad dreams of that war, perhaps because life consisted of something more than breathing. Life insisted on itself, cried out, fought, marched, wept, dreamed. We dreamed in black and white.
In one of Capa's photographs, a Spanish loyalist looks up at a farewell ceremony for the volunteers of the international brigades in 1938. His cause was lost. His strength was not. Where shall we find that look again?
MacNEIL: Once again, today's top stories. Italy's coalition government fell today, a casaulty of the Achille Lauro hijacking. Investigators in Genoa say they have identified which hijacker killed Leon Klinghoffer. The U.S. economy registered a moderate gain in the third quarter, but housing starts for September plunged sharply. And finally, another look at today's Lurie cartoon on the auto workers' strike against Chrysler.
MacNEIL: Good night, Charlayne.
HUNTER-GAULT: Good night, Robin. That's our NewsHour for tonight. We'll be back tomorrow night. I'm Charlayne Hunter-Gault. Thank you and good night.
- The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour
- Producing Organization
- NewsHour Productions
- Contributing Organization
- NewsHour Productions (Washington, District of Columbia)
- AAPB ID
- Episode Description
- This episode's headline: News Summary; Home Mortgages: Tougher Terms; Smartening Up Textbooks; Bob Kerrey: Bowing Out; Images of World War II. The guests include In Washington: DAVID MAXWELL, Federal National Mortgage Association; In Omaha, Nebraska: BOB KERREY, Governor of Nebraska; Reports from NewsHour Correspondents: BILL SILCOCK (KBYU), in Provo, Utah; ELIZABETH BRACKETT, in Chicago; STEPHEN TALBOTT (KQED), in San Francisco; ROGER ROSENBLATT, in New York. Byline: In New York: ROBERT MacNEIL, Executive Editor; In Washington: JIM LEHRER, Associate Editor; CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT, Correspondent
- Asset type
- Global Affairs
- War and Conflict
- Military Forces and Armaments
- Politics and Government
- Copyright NewsHour Productions, LLC. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/legalcode)
- Media type
- Moving Image
Producing Organization: NewsHour Productions
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
Identifier: NH-0543 (NH Show Code)
Format: 1 inch videotape
Identifier: NH-19851017 (NH Air Date)
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
- Chicago: “The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour,” 1985-10-17, NewsHour Productions, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed October 28, 2021, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-507-pk06w97414.
- MLA: “The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour.” 1985-10-17. NewsHour Productions, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. October 28, 2021. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-507-pk06w97414>.
- APA: The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour. Boston, MA: NewsHour Productions, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-507-pk06w97414