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     African Americans and War Against Iraq / Weekly News Analysis / Kurt
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The U.N. inspection team reports on Monday Hispanics may outnumber African-Americans and smokes. Plan for the Howard University Law School. All next on. Evening Xchange. Hi I'm calling nominee. Come Monday we'll see the first deadline in the United Nations Security Council confrontation with Iraq when the U.N. inspection team issues its first report. But for the U.S. it could serve as the last deadline prompting unilateral military action against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. This week
President Bush said what he's seeing with the inspectors in Iraq looks like a rerun of a bad movie which he for one has no intention of watching. Translation The president is against drawing out these inspections a position he will probably outline during the course of the next week and an end in his State of the Union address. It could mean war sooner rather than later. So who speaks for African-Americans on this matter. No one person that's for sure but last year the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies posed the question to African-Americans in an opinion poll. And Joe Davidson of the Joint Center joins us now. So good to see you again. What did the polls show last year. Well it showed that only about 20 percent. Nineteen point two percent to be exact of the U.S. black population supported the president as it relates to this potential war against Iraq. Now this poll was in September and October of last year as you mentioned. I don't think that the president's support in the black community died during that intervening period has increased much if at all. In fact the
general trend for the general population is that support is declining. Also with us is W. Smith of Black Voices for Peace an anti-war group. Welcome. Glad to be here. Well it would appear from the turn out you got last week of demonstrations here not necessarily in general in terms of black participation but in terms of the specific gathering that Black Voices for Peace held in Washington there was significant support for your opposition nearly 3000 people gathered at a national rally for peace with justice that we sponsored. Our audience was overwhelmingly African-American and clearly against the war against Iraq. Now we haven't seen African-Americans in visible numbers at these mass protests. That's not because African-Americans don't oppose this war is because of two reasons. One there's a disconnect between the organizations that are sponsoring these protests and the African-American community in general. And B the message that often accompanies these protests is not viewed
by blacks as also a composite encompassing of the issues that we face on a daily basis in our community like police brutality Criminal Justice and other issues. What we have done and do like wishes for peace is really linked the message of the need for peace with justice. You know to deal with the external issues of U.S. foreign policy but linking that in a very serious and genuine way to the crisis facing African-Americans in this country. That message clearly resonated as we brought together so many people at this event in Washington but also there were activities in several towns and cities across the country on Dr. King's birthday against the war in African-American communities. We have spent the last three days trying to find an African-American who supports the administration's policy toward Iraq to appear on this edition of evening exchange without success. We called several organizations several individual contacts that we had we had several promising responses but in the last analysis each and
every individual said either we have a previous engagement or we are not allowed to appear at this time giving at least some indication from our standpoint that among African-Americans support for the president's or the administration's policies is fairly thin. I think that this particular poll shows that I mean if you don't have nineteen point two percent of the population that's less than a fifth of the black population indicating support for the president in September and October them clearly certainly among the black community the president and the administration would have to do a lot of work before he would have political support for any war in Iraq and political support is key. Certainly domestic political support is key international political support is key and at this point he seems to be in trouble on both fronts. I think polls generally indicate support for the war kind of at the first level. But the deeper you go the the here that support gets.
And you could I think the president could easily find himself in a situation where if he decided to invade Iraq there would be a rally around the flag. Support the troops kind of kind of uptick in the polls. But the longer those troops stay there I think the weaker that support. But I tell you what I find interesting about what you said earlier Don. During the course of the anti-Vietnam war protests there were on black college campuses and in other places indications of protests. But I don't know when this early in a campaign in a place like Washington D.C. which has often been accused of staying out of these kinds of protests to attract 3000 people standing room only it's my understanding some people even standing outside the church stand outside the church couldn't get in couldn't get in to. What do you attribute that kind of support you mentioned linking it to other issues of peace and justice. But I'm wondering if there is also a certain passion a certain emotion coming out of the African-American community this early that we didn't see this early in
say the Vietnam War. Well I think people in the African-American community also tend to be more skeptical about the administration various administration's policies because of our historical experience in this country with the criminal justice system and with various government policies. And so I think that a lot of the things that we are hearing from the Bush administration about why we must go to war and that the president not being able to produce evidence that Iraq still has weapons of mass destruction. I think this is poses a serious problem for the president and and that's not just among African-Americans that's among all Americans. But I think particularly within our community we tend to raise more questions and more doubts than the rest of the population because of the experience we've had with government agencies and government policies over the years. So I think that was part of it but I also think that there is indeed strong sentiment against this war within the black community that we're going to see more of over the next several weeks and months.
Well Joe I wanted to get back to a point that you raised earlier and that is if the bullets actually start flying if the United States makes a unilateral unilateral decision to go to war even though polls indicates that most Americans would prefer to see some form of U.N. and international support. The fact of the matter is that there will be a whole lot of African-Americans who are thrown into that war. Is that likely to impact one way or another opinion in the African-American community and that is real black Americans at that point to say look our boys are there. We have to support them. Well I think that there will be that kind of support for the troops certainly at first among all Americans. I mean I think that's almost a natural reaction. But my point was is that that kind of that kind of support doesn't necessarily last a long time. And what you're talking about in Iraq you're not just talking about going in and finding a few weapons and blowing them up and people pulling out in a matter of weeks I don't think if they if through if the administration is still talking about regime change.
Will that talk. That means doing away with a government overthrowing the government and installing a provisional government until an Iraqi government indigenous Iraqi government can can take place and that can be a matter of years. And I think the longer you have troops in Iraq the weaker the support will become. And also it's going to be a very tough urban warfare situation. You know it's not going to be like the Gulf War where Iraq basically didn't put up a fight. And the U.S. won that through air power without hardly any kind of ground operation that amounted to anything. I think this is going to have to be a largely a ground war which means a lot of casualties which means it's going to be a drawn out battle. And I think when those body bags start coming home to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware their support is going to start dropping among blacks and whites. Same question to Daniel Smith if in fact those body bags come back home and if in fact a significant number of them are the bodies of African-American soldiers can that not have the effect of causing black anger towards Saddam Hussein to cause support for the
president's policy. No I think it's going to cause anger towards the president of the United States because you know the president says that he's changed his story a number of times. First it was imminent threat as a basis for going after Saddam Hussein then it was regime change. Then he tried to link Saddam Hussein in Iraq to al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. You know the story keeps changing. And then the United States keeps saying well you know we have evidence that there are weapons of mass destruction. But the president won't produce the evidence so that the weapons inspectors can find them. So all of this combined means that if the body bags start coming home and it appears that we've been there just to overthrow a government for oil that's going to be a tremendous amount of anger directed at this administration especially at a time when the economy is faltering. People are jobless in many areas of the country. Massive layoffs going on
people's quality of life is deteriorating in this country. And the president has not shown leadership on that issue. I think all this in combination would make for a situation where African-Americans and other people in this country are going to be very dissatisfied with the president in fact the polls already show that there's diminishing support for the president's policies and the leadership he has displayed on these issues. You know and ironically if I just might add something to your question Cojo. I think that this the president's seeming rush to war with Iraq has really ironically worked to overshadow the evils of the Saddam Hussein regime. I mean there's a lot there's a long list of bad things you can say about Saddam Hussein. But that's not getting the ink today. What's getting the ink is this eagerness for war. And so in a sense the administration is almost undercutting its own position because it's putting so much emphasis on getting so much attention on the war and so little attention nowadays is going to some of the evils that Saddam Hussein has committed. Well there was an op ed piece in The Washington Post today indicating that the United States has no dire
need for Iraq oil that if in fact the administration is going to war over oil that that is not a satisfactory rationale because if sanctions were not imposed against Iraq there would be enough oil that Iraq would be able to export and that there are other sources that are paid right. Making the argument that therefore the administration has not made a significant case for going to war against Iraq. The implication being that if they wanted to use oil and could prove that the oil was that necessary they could go back to the Jimmy Carter argument who said that we would we would move in such a way to protect those resources that we need if not oil. Then what argument. Well the administration used over the course of the year because I think the other might be wrong on this point it's not about the United States directly not in Iraq. Iraqi oil is the United States guaranteeing a flow of oil to Western allies in Europe. And so. And that is you know strategically as the Bush administration sees it in their interest to do so to guarantee oil supply to the
Western countries. This is about the United States having control over the oil markets and political hegemony in that region of the world to establish empire. And that's what this is all about because they can the president has not linked this till to Saddam I mean Osama bin Laden. The president cannot make the argument that Iraq has weapons of mass destruct because them found them yet and they haven't provided evidence yet. So it has to be about something else. And from everything we can see from our analysis it looks like it's about oil. Oil for the Western countries and U.S. allies. So how would you then explain the reluctance of some Western countries predominate the predominant among them France and Germany to go along with the notion that peace should be going to war and going to war early. Well I think I think the peace movement in these countries has really put a tremendous amount of pressure on those governments to not back the United
States policy of wanting to go to war. The strong peace movement inside of France strong peace moved inside of Germany. And you know the Greens have some influence in the German government. So I think that has a lot to do with it as well informed speculation. The president is probably going to spend a lot of next week in his State of the Union address and in other addresses making a case for war against Iraq a case for unilateral action against Iraq if indeed the president makes a strong case. He was praised for making a strong case before the U.N. resolution and other countries were opposed. If indeed he makes a strong case on this occasion and either they persuade France and Germany or if not France and Germany enough Americans then the president is likely going to go to war. What do you think is the case that he will make. Well my guess is the case isn't going to be much stronger than what has already been made and I think the case has not been made for many many Americans. I think that if the case
if he had some strong stuff he would have brought it out by now. Now clearly the state of the Union would be a good time to do that. But it's going to have to be a very strong case because it's very unlikely that he can say that the United States is in danger of imminent attack by Iraq. So lacking that you're going to have to have I mean some very strong evidence to convince I think a good deal of American people that this that this war is necessary. If they do that we might see from the president satellite maps and charts and that of the hue and cry the Cuban Missile Crisis the first thing we're going to see is what Hans Blix and the U.N. inspection team has to say. There are reports that the U.N. inspection team is not getting the kind of cooperation that would like to get from the scientists in Iraq in Iraq who they would like to interview without any presence of Iraqi supervision there. Do you think that Mr. Blix is likely to say that those plus the mostly empty chemical warheads that they found are
enough to suggest that Sadan Saddam Hussein is either not cooperating or be trying to conceal efforts to build weapons of mass destruction. I don't think so. This is a situation report that Hans Blix and his team will be presenting to the U.N. and the Security Council. They will have to assess the situation as they see it. And but it's not a trigger U.N. Resolution 14 41 is not a trigger for war. It's a trigger for consultations among you know U.N. member states to discuss the situation report and to determine what course of action needs to be made after that. They haven't found anything yet. And clearly there have been some problems in the inspection process but that in and of itself is not a basis or a pretext for going to war. That's a pretext for figuring out how to correct the situation as soon as possible so that this process can continue to evolve and it needs to take place as long as necessary. These weapons inspectors are
conducting very intrusive inspections throughout the country they have unfettered access. They have not been blocked from going anywhere. Let that process continue. Let us not rush to war and military confrontation and put at risk thousands of Iraqi lives and U.S. lives as well. Let us assume that Hans Blix is not going to say on Monday that Iraq has been accused that Iraq is not corporate cooperation cooperating and therefore is in violation of Resolution 14 41. Let us assume that they will say yes we have had some obstacles would be really making good progress here. Let us continue to do this. That means that come Tuesday President Bush will face the task of debunking the credibility of the very U.N. inspection team that the United States was a participant in putting He's in Atlanta already begun. I mean last week or this weekend called the team the so-called inspectors and he's already I think trying to undermine their credibility. The United States is also in a funny position though because it has already said a number of people in the administration have said that they
think it might. It's all but impossible for the inspectors to find anything. So they have themselves in the position of going through the United Nations process while all the while undercutting it. And I think that also works to undercut the credibility of the administration regardless of whether the administration goes to war or not. What are the plans of blacks for peace with justice. We're going to continue to mobilize our community along with all people of goodwill who want to see a peaceful resolution of this conflict. War is clearly not the answer we need to put diplomacy over war policy negotiation over confrontation. And I think that if we allow this process to go forward there can be a peaceful resolution of this crisis. But this administration seems to be itching for a war. They want to rush to war. And one of the reasons why they do is because they know that the Bush administration knows that the peace movement is growing and that public opinion is swinging away from the Bush administration's
policy in Iraq. Got the other demonstrations planned at this point. Well yes. On February 15th in New York they're going to be massive protests across the world. We will be with other groups in what in New York at the United Nations for protest and on April 26. There's going to be a great black peace march on Washington no matter how things turn out there are still going to be a crisis in the Middle East. By that time of this year I must thank you for joining us. Thank you. Joe Davidson can you stick around for a few lines. Would this being the nation's largest minority group mean and is it blacks or Hispanics. Answers from our news analysts. When we come back.
It. Depending on who you count. Blacks still outnumber Hispanics in the United States. Or maybe it's the other way around. If you're confused it's OK. We'll sort it all out with Mark Plotkin of WTOP Radio. Todd LENNEBERG of the Hoover Institution and policy review. Do the rules various independent journalist and writer and Joe Davidson of the Joint Center for Economic and Policy Studies. Still with us. But first let's talk about Iraq. The president will be making his State of the Union address this Tuesday one day after the U.N. inspection team makes its report to the U.N. Security Council Kyra to prognosticate on what's likely to happen in either of these scenarios. First the U.N. inspection team and then the president's State of the Union address or the other way around. You can start where you will.
Well the diplomacy is fast and furious very complicated at the moment. France and Germany have indicated that they do not regard this as inevitable. That's an interesting formulation. That is the formulation from France that could mean once it is indeed inevitable then there might be some possibility of a greater degree of cooperation on us at the moment being indicated. But you know it's been a it's been a long road ahead for the Bush administration on this and they're not done yet. You know I think the ministration is pretty determined that Saddam has to disarm. I was prepared to go to war to do that. Is this comparable to the scenario in the previous resolution 14 41 I think is the number of that where a number of those very same countries would say we don't think this is a good idea at all and yet the United States was able to persuade them. To pass that as well. I mean you know did they pass 14 41 in an effort to just draw the process out and try to buy more time. That's a possibility. On the other hand you know it
is a pretty serious thing to vote for a resolution that says you know you are in material breach you have one final opportunity. The language is for a full and complete disclosure of the entirety of your program and verification of it with weapons inspectors which clearly has has not happened. MARK Well I think that this administration as I've said wants to go to war if they have some allies that's great if they don't they still want to go to war. And I'll say this again that we've really had a war on the cheap the last two wars the Persian Gulf with 100 casualties. Not that those lives are cheap. But the pain inflicted has not been that great. Persian. Excuse me Bosnia. I don't think we lost a plane. And so it's been 25 or 30 years since we've seen bodybags come back. What happens when there are casualties I hope there aren't. But I really think in some ways I'm not a foreign policy specialist but in some ways in terms of the politics of this this is similar to Vietnam. There won't be that much pain incurred.
Have you considered the possible possibility raised earlier in this broadcast that the administration may not want to go to war. What do you think they may want to but they want to convince Saddam Hussein that they are prepared to go to war in order that he may cooperate more fully with the U.S.. Well they surely are creating if that's a Potemkin village of sending what 150 or 200 thousand people over there it's quite a gigantic undertaking if they think he's going to blink. They should have given him the option to leave and said it seems to me made offers to provide some sort of sanctuary. I mean I don't know what their thinking is but I just hope it isn't fanciful that they think that this can be done quickly without pain of lives and that you exhaust your supply with vigor. I never had anybody I talked to anyway. I don't think that war at this point is a done deal. I think that the reason it's not I think is largely because of the opposition of some of the Europeans also the Canadians are unhappy with this with China weighing in Russia
against it and certainly Russia coming out directly saying there's no reason to go to war. I think that kind of international political opposite opposition is causing the White House concern. I think also the growing opposition politically in the United States is also causing the United States some concern. This report on Monday it's really only supposed to be an update. I mean that this report on Monday was never conceived as a final report. And clearly the inspectors are only really just getting geared up. I think that for there to be a real true inspection process it really is going to take some some time and I think that the Europeans in particular are telling the United States just that I think that's true and one of the things is that the whole idea of trying to sell it is what you're going to see on Tuesday when the administration does that state of the Union. He does. Bush does his State of the Union address is not just selling it to the allies but doing pretty much a sort of repeat of what he did with respect to the U.N. resolution in the beginning and that is to sort of sell the American people right now. His
numbers are down. So he's got to convince persuade the American people that this is important. And so I think that is what what you're going to see first as the first assault as they begin to build up in this war. I'm not so persuaded by France and Germany and Russia because let's remember all of them were against the resolution in the first place. And this was sort of a dance that they did to try to get some negotiations and get some maneuvering in terms of what the United States would accept and what they would accept with respect. So I think some of that is going to happen this time where the United States will begin once again its deep negotiations and diplomacy. With these countries to try to get them on board with some kind of caviar. And they seem to always go when there is caviar. That's because I don't think it makes an interesting point because there is an almost unique relationship here between domestic opinion and international opinion and that is the mystic opinion will go along with it if international opinion is going to go along with it. So that seems to suggest
that when the president makes a state of the Union Address on Tuesday he will be seeking to persuade not only the Americans but the members of the U.N. Security Council also I think the whole world is watching when it comes to that is no question about it. And. You know I think the I think the the opposition to the war has had a very good month. And and I think that they have put it to good use and been reasonably effective in raising questions. I think there are a couple of reasons for that. One is you know the election season is over. So Democrats are able to be a little more outspoken perhaps than they might otherwise have thought prudent. You know you are seeing demonstrations etc. but the other thing that has happened over the course of this month this is the Bush administration has not been out making a counter case. I think there has been a perception in the administration that you know between the Christmas and between Christmas and the Super Bowl its August all over. You recall that it was not out in August either. So we have a case to make we have things to say will say them when people are when its time and when its time is the state of the Union address and
that is what you or I disagree. I don't think it will be done during the State of the Union message. I think he has some domestic concerns and I will address them in that venue. Talking like a lot like you will go on no no no. The idea of going to war. No no no no. I mean I don't mean to suggest that. But I do expect a very forceful against Iraq's compliance so far into to have said you have a preview of coming attractions. But when we said we're going to war you'll have it in the Oval Office with the family pictures behind in the in the speech to the American public. This is just going to be sort of a preview of what comes in. I think he has got domestic and economic concerns that he's going to spend in Medicare and all that on the state of the Union venue when it comes to going to war. It will be this one to one conversation with the American Haussler fall. The thing that to watch about Bush since 9/11 is that this man is masterful with taking the foreign policy and having it overshadowed the domestic issues he has been very good at making you understand that right now is the time to be patriotic.
Right now is the time for us to focus on our defense. We have terrorists who are coming into our country. You know I'm dealing with that tax thing I'm dealing with the healthcare thing. But the most important thing is the safety of this country and you all get on board right now or else you're not patriotic administration as it really has put out a full court press certainly within the last week. Now perhaps not between Christmas and New Years but but Condoleezza Rice said that op ed in The New York Times and the language there was almost the same as Wolfowitz. The language between that and the Foreign Relations Council meeting in New York and and Rumsfeld has been saying some somewhat controversial things. Why Joe there's some reaction to the Democratic left and I did this just for Todd's satisfaction not to mention that Ted Kennedy has really thrown the gauntlet down. And so if he had any doubts about where the liberal left you un United States senators are in Kerry's speech is just sort of diametrically say look we want to be on record we're on the other side. And if the administration is going to make a persuasive case does it have at some point to reveal
information beyond what the U.N. inspection team will review. Does President Bush at some point in this conversation have to say we know things that the U.N. inspection team did not find. And here they are or it is. Will it be enough to say we don't think that Iraq has been cooperating cooperating with the U.S. U.N. inspection team. We disagree with Hans Blix. I think what you'll see is the case that Iraq has not fulfilled its obligations under 14 41 to produce the full declaration and that there will be evidence produced to support that there is evidence in support of that. Now I know there are warheads that were found indicate that it was much more money than ever have had if you were going to put a phone on the warheads that were found. The fact that the 12000 page document that Iraq submitted was not sufficient if the fact that the the scientists it would appear are not being allowed to meet individually by themselves without Iraqi Monitoring
with members of the U.N. inspection team. If that is what the president will depend on if he will provide new information a different set of my new why are you going through this what difference does it make he wants to go to war. He has actually publicly stated that he has nothing to do with evidence. He has to disarm and then this guy has to go. If he leaves there won't be a war as long as he's still. What makes a difference number one in terms of this guy's popularity and some other stuff that he wants. I don't think it makes a difference. But I will tell you Cojo that he's going to have to do more than just talk about warheads that weren't that are empty warheads. And more than that 12000 page document he's going to have to produce new information to persuade the American people. I don't know how they get that information I think it makes a difference because while I agree he definitely wants to go to war there's no question about that. I think the administration also realizes they need political support and they see the political support declining they need a smoking gun. They have they want. They don't need it but they do need the help that it is in the
Senate and then they don't have that support now. It's not going to be enough to say we know you have it. You're going to have to leave it to the press which is what they've been doing very effectively. I've got to do something on that note of disagreement we can move on. There seems to be some disagreement but I don't think there is really whether or not Hispanics now outnumber blacks in the United States. It would appear that according to this 2001 census count that people were allowed to see whether they were blacks mixed with other races and when it was all over. There were thirty six and a half million people who identified as black. Thirty seven million people who identified as Hispanic and a million people who identified as blacks mixed with some other race. And some news media decided to count those who identified as blacks mixed with another race among the African-American population looking at thirty seven and a half million. Other news media did not go on just getting a headache with all of this sound like the census and. Doesn't. See. The political
maneuvering on the part of some people to sort it is the significant. I think the only significance is that it's it's the it's the precursor for the racially divisive kind of thing we're going to see happen in the presidential election is there. Jeanette is the precursor for the appointment of Albert Alberto Gonzalez to the first U.S. Supreme Court as the fastest growing minority population and the Republicans effort to write off African-Americans who are assuming they already have it and said wait a second. Let's go with this group. One one one problem with that is and one reason it's so confusing is because it's like an apples and oranges kind of thing. Hispanics it's a language group. You know African-Americans or racial group. And just as you were indicating that's the language that there are black hispanics and there are white Hispanics. So it makes it very difficult to make this kind of comparison. I think that what. I think the key is the degree to which you will find cooperation between African-Americans and Hispanics. There's going to be a lot of
areas of cooperation in some places there won't be. And also the Hispanic population is much less politically monolithic and the black population that's the thing I think that never gets addressed is that the Hispanic population just like the black population is not a monolith. And so those people were thinking that OK we've got this. The Republicans especially in the conservative we've got this group to offset the African-Americans out of their minds because that is such a jumble of ideology. You know publican's feel Jeanetta like Cuban-Americans in Florida and Cuban-Americans in New Jersey they feel they have a wedge in to a growing majority of blacks are pretty monolithic in terms of the Democratic party affiliation. Thank God for blacks for the Democratic Party. It is the most faithful reliable less than the same consistent population. Let's hope that black is just white puzzlement is of a more trivial nature. But I'll bring it up anyway. Why create a category that says people can register as blacksmiths with some other race. If you're going to end up counting them as black as anywhere.
Well you sound like your candidate who says just do away with it all. No what I'm saying is that if I happen to be black Italian an Asian life you have to be Tiger Woods what's its cousin if I happen to be tiger with Cousin then how come I end up being the candidate in the category of black. Anyway how come nobody says well if you add them to the Asian population. Right. And actually the population of the United States is about 800 million. Well I guess it doesn't really make a difference what may make a difference is if the district of our talking presidential primaries. Whose idea was this any Saturday in general let me tell you what you didn't hear me because I was so rudely interrupted. What's the difference if the District of Columbia decides to hold a presidential primary on the first Saturday in January making it before the New Hampshire presidential primary and the Iowa caucus and the Monday preceding Tuesday New Hampshire primary. It makes a world of difference. And this is a brilliant idea.
I don't know who's a question but I'm all for it. And let me tell you why in the morning we were pushing in the immortal words of the Arthur Miller book Death of a Salesman now being serious. Attention must be raised. And D.C. is even with the civil rights Giants. Kweisi Mfume and Julian Bond. It's not fashionable to talk about DC. DC is just not in play. You don't get any points. The only reason that I know the only reason my DC is going to be paid attention is to stop being appropriate polite well-mannered all the things that I think to be something else and I'm quite serious. I hope I hope. I want this to happen. I'm with the Democratic National Committee to refuse to see this and I want the U.S. Congress to work to overturn this law which the council did and say we can't have an election. Nothing would make me happier than to see the U.S. The National Guard which the mayor cannot call off because he's not the Governor George Bush to call out the National Guard.
Close the polling places and have us try to votes with bayonets fixed. Assuming that the purpose of this entire process is not to make you happy. Yeah. OK. Let me let me start with the interview. So let me start with a point. I am utterly baffled by Mark's expectation that Republicans are going to step into the office. In fact I think you could probably find a very substantial majority of Republicans who would who would reject the idea of doing anything to turn this around. Now maybe for us so we will say that we are advancing the cause. But I also think that Terry McAuliffe is bluffing. There is no chance he would turn way delegations from District Columbia for precisely the reasons that Mark because it would make Mark too happy that we need to galvanize this issue. I don't know where this thing goes. I think it's very interesting. And by the way I think it's a terrific idea. I think it's one. And the folks from New Hampshire have said basically that this is not a state so you know so there that's a
great irony that we're not a state like Ohio right there because we're not a state then they could continue to still be the first state to hold a primary. We'd be the other state if they hold a primary here first. There might be no sense. You know this could be a good thing right. But clearly it's totally symbolic I mean we are seeing what what to talk about is like real political power and being the first person of the first district or state or whatever we are to to have a presidential primary. Really it doesn't convey a political you know a lot of different dots for for connecting the dots as Mark Plotkin and others who support this would see it would mean that if the first presidential primary is held here then all of the media focus here will be focused on these candidates answering that crucial question right. Yeah. Why doesn't D.C. a voting representation to us in that case it's a step toward political power. But it's not real political. Joe we don't have any political power. That's the point. We have
three electoral votes. Thank God for Barbara Simmons that she didn't cast one can say nobody. And the only other power we have is the Council passing laws to change the primary date. What it does in a serious measure is an issue which gets no visibility at all. All of a sudden does the candidates are forced to come in and campaign here. I disagree with you. Who said about Terry McAuliffe. I think they're intent and not see the lines to senior people out of doing exactly and they're already off. But I don't think the alternative dates in February which WTOP we're already doing that this week. But I think what happens is it becomes quite frankly my media strategy is becoming disclosed here. It becomes a 16 month story it's on to Boston 1964 the D.C. Freedom Democratic Party credentials committee and all of a sudden people will say what's this all about. Why is he doing this. What Todd said about how Republicans are not likely to oppose this if the City Council did
pass this legislation are going to that could happen. Because the Congress won't overturn they can read and guess what. Well then there's another repercussion per cent of the people actually show up or less than 30 percent of the people show up to vote. The other point is that is that they going to be an even bigger embarrassment so these people are organizing trying to be the first at the first out the window had better come with a whole lot. Al Sharpton wins the D.C. primary nobody campaigns here and it's written off as the Sharpton primary. And we don't get any play. Don't always. There's no reason to assume that that would be an outcome. I mean I don't think it goes without saying I don't have an issue really do. I do know that Al Sharpton is Jesse Jack. I don't know. I don't know. And by the way I think this would also be good for the D.C. Republican Party. D.C. however does have its small victories and among those of course are the fact that Todd Lindbergh and Joe Davidson and in other roles beris and Mark Plotkin and I all live in the District of Columbia but now the Department of Homeland Security will also be active in the district with the headquarters at least on this interim the headquarters for a short while and in the hopes and
dreams of our Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton the entire department when it does exist it apparently all came about because Secretary Tom Ridge made the final decision. No we're not going to northern Virginia. We're stay here. Well good for him. He took a look at what he really needed which is immediate secure communications a secure facility etc. and I have a lot of sympathy to the right of the White House tomorrow and all the Lindbergh's that indeed are going to be able to point to I feel secure and quit listening to all the real estate developers who are you know waving these billion dollar leases in front of everybody and looking for you in which you could trust that this is the nation's capital. Yeah I mean this is a symbolic. You know Northern Virginia is not the nation's capital. You know we've got to come to that reality. But I think what the people of Northern Virginia do well it'll be interesting to see what happens after it after that short period or this interim period at how long this interim period is going to be no one seems to think it will be a long time before the actual department really comes together it does look like that.
So it will be interesting to see what happens. And for me when you're a journalist I think that is what makes the Virginia General Assembly decide that a black female judge Judge ask who should not in fact be returned to her court because she's setting the sexual harassment lawsuit or she didn't settle the sex and the city the city of Manhattan sex settled a sexual harassment lawsuit out of court for her. Of course that brings to mind the fact that the former speaker of the Union General Assembly lost his position under what are comparable circumstances in this case. So the predominantly Republican general that somebody decided to do the same thing however black members of the assembly referred to terms like lynching and other such inflammatory terms because they were upset that does have a simple political case study of don't get angry get even. And Mr. Wilkins the Republican had to go. And now we're going to extract and get even and do what we can do.
That's is on the line that I am not the one who suddenly the city of Hampton did but I guess it did make a difference. Well no it doesn't make a difference. I mean there are certain standards and there certain standards. I think that a judge has to abide by that standard of whether she's black or white. There's a standard and if if there is a some some cloud of sexual harassment I think that's a legitimate legitimate reason to do examine a judge are you even willing to go to far. I don't think I would ever remain where they are unless I was a lawyer who looked into this case an independent lawyer who looked into this case and found that the case against her did not have merit and she insisted that she is innocent. Now obviously none of us know really what happened but certainly that's her claim and she did not have to pay that settlement and that and she does have the ammunition of this other than Mr. Wilkins did admit guilt by pain. I mean they were really hush money. That is significant. Exactly what happened there. But I think we pretty much know what's going to be happening in the future. And the Virginia journalists even just given the of information about his sex life is now going to be under very close scrutiny and it's probably not going to be a very pleasant
sight. But I'm afraid that's all the time we have. Our thanks to our analysts for joining us. What makes a successful politician walk away from politics. And face the new kind of challenge of the Howard University School of Law. Only card smoke knows when we come back.
The. Position that Robert Vernice now holds governor of Maryland is the position that a lot of people at one time simply assumed would be cartes smokes for the taking if he wanted it. The Rhodes scholar and former Baltimore Mayor however chose to go another route and it has brought him to Howard University. We're on January 1st of this year. He became dean of the School of Law. Kurt Schmoke welcome. Thank you very much. Pleasure to be here. Actually I'm honored to be here. Oh it's an honor for us to have influenced your decision what caused it to become dean of the Howard University School of Law. Well you know I had a wonderful run as mayor of Baltimore 12 years in that position and five years before that as the state's attorney when I walked away from politics I started practicing law. But I still have the kind of public interest of you know inside the beltway. And I heard that the law school that President Swygert was interested in you know changing direction of the
law school. And I just contacted the the dean of the graduate school and the president and said you know if you're interested in little or someone that's a little bit outside the box I'd like to talk to you about it. And so they let me interview with the committee and the committee selected me. I was interested and I still am and basically nurturing the next generation of leaders. And that's what the law school does. Leaders not only in the law but in politics in business and nationally and internationally. So that was really what brought me to Howard. Here's the part that surprised me. You initiated the contact. Absolutely yeah. I was perfectly happy in my law firm here and I'm going. That's right. International law practice. And but but I just. And I knew someone who had been involved in the search. And there were some candidates that I knew and I didn't want to compete against these folks but they withdrew and told me that they were true and
I just said you know it just it was something about the position that sounded so right and I can tell you that the people in Baltimore. Now these are the guys I'm talking to now barbershop where I do my polls anyway. I go to the barbershop after the announcement. It was in the Baltimore paper that would be the dean of the law school. And there are guys there all non-lawyers who were just so proud of that because there's something about the Howard University School of Law that they knew meant something to them somewhere in their past. This was an important place. And so it was a big deal. And I'm just thrilled to be involved. So you're one of the most important poll of all the barbershop folks who are the hardest to come. Well that's that kept me in office for years. And you know and this one was just a good recognition. It really does underscore and I try to explain this to our students how important the institution has been to our country to the African-American community in
particular and how important it will continue to be not only nationally but international because you know you may know but our students come from 90 different colleges and universities around the country. And the Howard University School Law is a national law school and we bring students in that have this wonderful vision of being involved in social justice and economic and environmental justice matters. They're going to be great leaders and some would even argue that it's an international school. Absolutely. You know we have a master's program where we bring in students all of whom are foreign students just as an example. The chief justice of the Thailand Supreme Court is a Howard University School of now and not be known by many people but yeah our impact is international. Did one of the surprises I had is that the judge who is ruling in the international presiding in the International Court of the Hague over the trial of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic he is a graduate of Harvard Law.
Right. So it's you know it's a tremendous place it has had a storied past. And people you know remember that legacy and all that I have trying to convey to folks is that we're building on the legacy we're not forgetting about it. We're not looking only to the past looking to the future but building on a strong legacy of social justice. Much of that legacy in the public mind has to do with the Howard University Law School his contribution to civil rights in general and the Brown versus Board of Education case in particular where the Thurgood Marshall and others said that there are those who now say that was in the era of civil rights and that era is in fact passed and therefore what the Howard University School of Law. Become famous for now and then the read well I did two things on that. First of all as you know in 2004 we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Brown decision. How important is it well President Bush has established a national commission of which he's appointed President Swygert from the university to be on that commission. But we're going to celebrate back brown and it's
important. Making Howard University and the law school kind of centers for that celebration. But we also are reminding people that race is still very important as a consideration in our society and civil rights matters and human rights issues are vitally important. We at the law school are very much involved in kind of economic justice matters environmental justice traditional civil rights and human rights matters so the civil rights legacy that you talk about is one of the undergirding of the things that we're doing is the foundation for the things that we are doing now. But this is a law school looking forward not back. You've had a stellar academic career which included a Rhodes scholarship study at Yale. Is it exciting for you to be back in the academic Howard. It really is not only meeting with our students who of course are very energetic and they are going to go out and change the world.
But a number of faculty members are involved in a wide range of interesting endeavors we have for example a professor who is a leader in international leader in a law related to food safety and they say now wait a minute what is that got to do with it. But as many of our African leaders are now going through this battle about accepting genetically modified food and some have been turning away that food there are people who have been very focused on the ethical issues and the legal issues related to genetically modified food and other food safety issues. The expert on that matter is right here at the Howard University School of Law. So you know that's all I've been saying that we've got a lot going on at the law school that is very much present and future oriented. And it's not just in the past. One of the reasons the law school now attract more attention is frankly because of you as I said earlier your stellar academic career but you had a political career that a lot of people believe would result in being the governor of Maryland yet you decided to
walk away from it. Oh we are used to being in an environment in which political careers are lifelong direct career people either ascended the ladder or get kicked off of it and keep trying to climb back on. Why did you walk. Well I must say that you know I had the feeling and I talked about this a great deal with my wife. I said you know in my view it's much better to walk away when people want you to stay rather than get ticked off. That's right. When is this guy ever going to get out. So basically that was I worked for 12 years. The good days outweigh the bad days. But there were some tough tough days along the way. And I was pleased that the foundation that we laid and I just said it's time to move on because I want kind of another act in my career. When you moved on in 1999 you were succeeded by Martin O'Malley. Right. He was considering running for governor when you left. It was generally thought that if Kurt smoke wants to smoke wants to collect the political capital that he has built up during his 12 years
as and the years preceding that state's attorney then it's not going to be a problem for him because he's probably going to get a great deal of support in Prince George's County. He's going to get a lot of support out of Baltimore County. He can be the next governor of the state of Maryland. And then you see how the governor's race unfolded. Sure. And the Democrats for the first time since Spiro Agnew lose the governorship. Any regrets about not doing that. Well certainly I don't regret personally getting involved. What I regret is that Kathleen Kennedy our former lieutenant governor did not so like I say a legate as her running mate. And it's not just because I say that as a member of the faculty of the Howard you have a lot of graduate buddies simply one of the outstanding public officials in our region and he's a decent hardworking guy who did some wonderful things in Montgomery County and was the leading vote getter in the county and in Maryland State politics.
Montgomery County is essentially R-Calif.. You win that one you win it big then it's going to be tough for anybody else to catch up to you. So the choice of Isaiah Leggett in my view would have consolidated the four counties that she needed to win as a Democrat. The four counties that Parris Glendening won and then the rest of the state could have gone Ehrlich and Kathleen Kennedy would be governor. Now you have to wonder why in a state that is majority democratic in its registration did the lieutenant governor or the candidate feel that there was a need to step across party lines and other Republicans to try to win over what in her view must have been a necessary slice of the Republican vote when in fact it may not have been necessary. All right. Well unfortunately I was not a part of any inner circle and her advisors she apparently listened to folks that were looking at polls that showed her so far ahead that she could make a decision that was essentially a good possibility. I guess you could say it was a good governing decision but not a good campaigning decision. And you got to win the campaign
before you can govern. So that's the step that they miss. They jump the head thinking that they have this thing locked and they were going to show this great good governing team that would serve as a basis for her future political career. But as you know things didn't work out well. Do you see politics at any point in your own future. No I really I'm looking forward to working in the law school there are a lot of things that have to be done there. I'm trying to really build up again strong alumni support. So I've been traveling around doing that. I want to make sure that our students recognize that passing the bar is absolutely essential. You know you you get a nice degree but you're still not a lawyer until you pass the bar so we're going to work on that make sure our students you know pass the bar at a very high rate and then you know really tout the accomplishments of these students. I know that there are going to be leaders and a lot of different fields and it's going to be very helpful for us in the future as we highlight their activity.
Well you know one of the reasons I asked that question is I'm wondering if we are evolving a new generation of political leadership among African-Americans whose members do not feel tied to politics for life. I know when Corey was term limited right he's going to move on. J.C. Watts who is a Republican has just walked away from the Congress moving to another country. Is that you think you know that it may be you may have hit the nail on the head there that that people will feel that you don't have to be involved in politics all your life that he can do other things and possibly come in early or come in mid-career even later and cause so many others have done that. I do think you see an evolution in our political community. And one day I think you're going to see more African-Americans in statewide position as senator. You know I'm a governor and because we've got to lieutenant governor who is I believe now. And also you're going to see more and I think in the Republican Party well you're going to be
Evening Exchange
Episode Number
African Americans and War Against Iraq / Weekly News Analysis / Kurt Schmoke (Dean School of Law)
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WHUT (Washington, District of Columbia)
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Episode Description
This episode's segments include: discussion on African Americans and the war in Iraq and an interview with Kurt Schmoke. First, guests discuss the Bush Administration's African American support. The final segment includes an interview with new dean of Howard University School of Law and previous mayor of Baltimore, Kurt Schmoke.
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Global Affairs
Race and Ethnicity
Copyright 2003 Howard University Television
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Director: Ashby, Wally
Guest: Plotkin, Mark
Guest: Lindberg, Tod
Guest: Davidson, Joe
Guest: Smith, Damu
Guest: Barras, Jonetta
Host: Nnamdi, Kojo
Producer: Fotiyeva, Izolda
Producing Organization: WHUT
AAPB Contributor Holdings
WHUT-TV (Howard University Television)
Identifier: (unknown)
Format: Betacam: SP
Generation: Master
Duration: 00:58:30
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Chicago: “Evening Exchange; 2221; African Americans and War Against Iraq / Weekly News Analysis / Kurt Schmoke (Dean School of Law) ,” 2003-01-24, WHUT, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed August 19, 2022,
MLA: “Evening Exchange; 2221; African Americans and War Against Iraq / Weekly News Analysis / Kurt Schmoke (Dean School of Law) .” 2003-01-24. WHUT, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. August 19, 2022. <>.
APA: Evening Exchange; 2221; African Americans and War Against Iraq / Weekly News Analysis / Kurt Schmoke (Dean School of Law) . Boston, MA: WHUT, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from