thumbnail of The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour
Hide -
MR. LEHRER: Good evening. Leading the news this Thursday, five employees have been suspended in an investigation of drug use at the White House, the U.S. foreign debt set another annual record, and the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to decide the issue of capital punishment in crimes committed by juveniles. We'll have the details in our News Summary in a moment. Charlayne Hunter-Gault is in New York tonight. Charlayne.
MS. HUNTER-GAULT: After the News Summary, we'll look at the consequences of the earth getting hotter and debate what can be done about it. Next we re-visit Robert MacNeil's report on how the Soviet people feel about the proposed reforms, and Norm Ornstein clarifies the conflicting poll data on the Presidential campaign. NEWS SUMMARY
MR. LEHRER: There is a drug problem at the White House. Presidential Spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said three uniformed Secret Service guards and two National Security clerks have been suspended for possible use of illegal drugs. He said a full investigation is underway and that mandatory drug testing of all White House employees will begin within 60 days. President Reagan was asked by reporters what should happen to the suspected drug users.
PRESIDENT REAGAN: I would like to see us do our best to get them in a drug treatment organization and that they will agree to accepting a cure.
REPORTER: So the policy is going to be give them a second chance?
PRESIDENT REAGAN: I have always said that. I think this is another indication of why compulsory drug testing is not bad; it is, I think, one of the principal answers, but let the people know we'll do our best to salvage anyone who's been addicted.
MR. LEHRER: On the Pentagon scandal today, Defense Department Spokesman Fred Hoffman said new defense contracts would not be frozen while the bribery and fraud investigation continues. Several members of Congress urged such action yesterday. Charlayne.
MS. HUNTER-GAULT: When it comes to IOU's, there's not a country on earth that can top the United States. That troubling news came from the Commerce Department when it reported today that America's foreign debt soared last year to $368 billion, up nearly 37 percent from the year before. All the red ink means that foreigners own more of such things as U.S. real estate and stocks and bonds than Americans own abroad.
MR. LEHRER: The U.S. Supreme Court agreed today to resolve a major capital punishment issue. The question is whether persons who commit crimes as juveniles can be executed after they become adults. The court voted to consider overturning the death sentence of two convicted murderers, a Georgia man who was 17 when he committed his crime and a Missouri man who was 16. The constitutional issue is whether such penalties constitute cruel and unusual punishment. The court will return its ruling sometime next year. Yesterday the court through out the death sentence of an Oklahoma man who was 15 at the time of the crime but stopped short of rendering a broad decision that would affect all juvenile cases.
MS. HUNTER-GAULT: In Moscow today, Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev made an impassioned appeal to delegates at the Communist Party Conference to adopt his proposed overhaul of the Soviet Systems, warning that socialism will die otherwise. Gorbachev said that previous attempts to reform the Soviet economy in the 50's and 60's were swallowed up by the system. He went on to say that such failures made it clear that it was the political system itself that needed to be changed. It was Gorbachev's second appearance before the 5,000 delegates. He said he decided to address them again because he felt there was a certain lack of understanding of the proposals he made at the Conference opening on Tuesday. Perhaps as part of Mr. Gorbachev's new spirit of glasnost or openness, the Soviets today allowed Western observers into one of those most secret chemical weapons centers. Brian Hanrahan of the BBC filed this report.
BRIAN HANRAHAN: The LaKuza is a small training center where Soviet troops learn to cope in battlefield conditions with some of the most deadly gasses man has been able to invent. It's about 40 miles East of Moscow, and by Western estimates, there must be dozens of places like it. The Soviet Union is thought to have more than 40,000 troops trained in chemical warfare, but they've stayed hidden from foreign view until today. The British delegation arrived to be greeted with nothing more dangerous than a bunch of roses for Amb. Tessa Solesby who represents Britain at the Geneva talks on chemical weapons. They were treated to a stunning display of Soviet techniques that are dealing with chemical attack. The delegates were surprised by how much they were shown. The jet engine used to spray tanks is a technique not used in the West, and it made them wonder if it could be used for distributing chemicals as well as clearing up after them. The delegation found themselves with unprecedented opportunities to examine and photograph everything they saw. The head of the Soviet Union's chemical troops, Gen. Pikarlov, said he hopes this openness will increase trust and push forward the disarmament process. The Russians have discovered that battlefield displays make good public relations, but they also bring foreign observers into places they'd not normally get, amidst problems of verification, that is, coming and seeing on the ground what had jammed the disarmament process.
MR. LEHRER: Secretary of State Shultz brought a pledge of continued U.S. support to El Salvador today. He was in the capital, San Salvador, for a four hour stop on his three day trip through Central America. He signed a $125 million balance of payments agreement, but also express concern over the increase in political murders. In Nicaragua, President Daniel Ortega said his government would extend a temporary cease-fire with the Contra rebels for one more month, but in a radio address Ortega said his government was losing patience with the Contras for alleged cease- fire violations. He said the extention would allow more time to resume peace talks which collapsed June 9th. No new talks are scheduled.
MS. HUNTER-GAULT: Italy's Parliament voted today to accept U.S. F-16 fighter jets being evicted from their bases in Spain. The vote came despite heavy opposition from a coalition of Communists and other groups. The 72 fighter bombers defend NATO's Southern flank and are the biggest Air Force unit in the Mediterranean area. Meanwhile, in West Germany, military investigators examined debris from the wreckage of three F-16 planes. Two of the jets collided in the air yesterday and a third crashed and exploded in the Black Forest ninety minutes earlier. The accidents, in which one American pilot was killed, brought to five the number of F-16 crashes in West Germany in the past three months.
MR. LEHRER: A Catholic Archbishop was excommunicated from the Church today. Archbishop Marcelle LeFevre is a conservative traditionalist. He was expelled for consecrating four new Bishops without permission of the Pope. The four new Bishops were also ex- communicated. LeFevre is 82 years old. He was born in France and runs his traditionalist movement from Switzerland. The Associated Press termed the incident the first major split in the Catholic Church in more than 100 years.
MS. HUNTER-GAULT: In South Africa, 14 people were injured when a bomb exploded during lunchtime in a busy shopping center in Downtown Pretoria police said. The blast occurred at a building that housed the main offices of the nation's Air Force, as well as the headquarters of the prison services. Police said 13 whites, including 2 children, and 1 black were among the white. Hospital sources said none of the injuries was serious. No one claimed responsibility for the attack.
MR. LEHRER: The U.S. Government today announced a $500,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of those who murdered the U.S. military attache in Greece. It was the largest sum ever offered in such a case. Such rewards were authorized in a 1984 anti-terrorism law. The attache was Navy Captain William Nordeen. He was killed Tuesday by a car bomb near his home in an Athens suburb. And that's it for the News Summary. Now it's on to the greenhouse effect, the people's view of perestroika, and how to read the Presidential polls.
MS. HUNTER-GAULT: Next we take a look at a phenomenon called the greenhouse effect, a warming trend that is increasingly believed to be the cause of higher temperatures around the world. Some scientists are also blaming the greenhouse effect for the current drought in the Midwest. This greenhouse effect stems from carbon dioxide and other gases in the atmosphere which are produced by industrial processes like burning coal, refining petroleum, and by the manufacture of clorofluorocarbons, or CFC's, the chemicals in aerosol cans and many plastics. As these gases escape into the atmosphere, scientists say they build up and form what is essentially a blanket over the earth. The blanket prevents hot air from escaping and forces the heat to build. The problem is aggravated because the amount of forest land on the earth is shrinking. Forests naturally fight the greenhouse effect. Trees produce oxygen, and oxygen absorbs the harmful carbon dioxide, but in the past 10 years the earth has lost 250 million acres of forest land, about 5 percent of its forests. And as forest acreage continues to diminish, the earth according to many environmental scientists will probably continue to get warmer.
DANIEL ALBRITTON [National Oceanic Atmospheric Admin.]: If greenhouse gases continue to grow unabated, the current understanding says that it is likely, in fact, quite likely that greenhouse warnings will eventually occur in the futures with temperatures higher than we have seen in our natural record.
MS. HUNTER-GAULT: Although the greenhouse effect may have once seemed like an alarmist environmental concern, it has now gripped policy makers in Washington.
REP. JAMES SCHEUER [D] New York: We are told by one of our witnesses that the globe must stop burning fossil fuels, period.
REP. CLAUDINE SCHNEIDER [R] Rhode Island: There is a very high high risk, an irreversible and catastrophic impact looming on the horizon.
MR. LEHRER: We go now to Dr. James Hansen, Head of NASA's Space Studies Institute. He's an atmospheric physicist who has spent the last 20 years or so studying the climate. Dr. Hansen, do you believe there's any scientific doubt about the presence of a greenhouse effect?
JAMES HANSEN [NASA]: I don't think there's any doubt about the presence of a greenhouse effect. The question is, at what rate is it increasing and how much will it continue to increase in the future. I think that there's also no doubt that the earth is now warmer than it has been than at any time during an instrumental record, which is the last 130 years.
MR. LEHRER: Spell that out. How much warmer?
MR. HANSEN: It's about 7/10 of a degree Centigrade warmer now than it was 100 years ago, and in the past 25 years it's warmed up by about 4/10 of a degree Centigrade, so most of the warming is quite recent.
MR. LEHRER: Now that doesn't sound like very much heat. Explain to me why that's a lot of heat.
MR. HANSEN: Well, that's actually quite a big temperature change. If you look at the last ice age, when ice covered Canada, Minneapolis, New York, the global temperature was only 4 degrees Centigrade colder than now. So what we're expecting is that if gases continued to increase at the rate that they have been that by the middle of next century we're have a warming equivalent to that which occurred since the last ice age.
MR. LEHRER: Well, when you say global temperature, you mean the average temperature throughout the world?
MR. HANSEN: That's right.
MR. LEHRER: Every place in the world?
MR. HANSEN: That's right.
MR. LEHRER: It's warmer everywhere, not just here and there, but everywhere?
MR. HANSEN: Well, no, it may be colder some places, but on the average, the world is warmer by that amount.
MR. LEHRER: How do you know that this warming trend is being caused by the greenhouse effect?
MR. HANSEN: Well, we've now reached a point where in my opinion - - and I should, by the way, make clear that this is my own personal scientific opinion, it's based on the research done by our group and by others, but although I'm a government employee, I'm not trying to represent a government policy --
MR. LEHRER: I hear you. Go ahead.
MR. HANSEN: But the warming at this time is now large enough that we ascribe with a high degree of confidence a cause and effect relationship between the warming and the greenhouse effect. That's primarily because if you look at the natural variability of climate, the global temperature fluctuates without any forcings by typically an amount of .13 degrees Centigrade, so the warming in the past 25 years is three times larger than that. With a probability of 99 percent or with a confidence of 99 percent, we can say that that warming is just not a natural fluctuation.
MR. LEHRER: And it is a steady warming? I mean, has it continued to warm every year? Have there been years when the average was how does it work?
MR. HANSEN: No, the warming is not steady because the natural fluctuations of climate are quite large. Even on a global average, you cannot expect each year to be warmer than the one before. But we have reached a point where the warming is larger than the typical natural variation.
MR. LEHRER: In general terms, what's the problem with the earth getting a bit warmer every year?
MR. HANSEN: Well, it's a question of how much larger we would like the warming to be. I tried to illustrate this by making up some colored dice which would show you the probability of a hot summer. The Weather Bureau defines a hot summer by looking at the period from 1950 to 1980, and saying that 1/3 of the time that its warmest is hot, so that a dice would need to be red say on two sides of the dice during that time period. But by 1995, the probability will have increased according to the climate models such that four sides of the dice are red. So by that time I think even the man on the street is going to recognize that something is going on, the climate is changing.
MR. LEHRER: Now, do you believe that there is a direct connection between the droughtthat we're now experiencing in this country and the greenhouse effect?
MR. HANSEN: Well, you can't blame a specific drought on the greenhouse effect, but just as the probability of a hot summer is increasing, so is the probability of droughts. According to the climate models which are at present our best tool for trying to understand the greenhouse effect, the models suggest that the probability of heat waves and droughts, especially in the Southeast United States and the Midwest United States, is increasing even in the late 1980's and the 1990's.
MR. LEHRER: There is a connection then between the greenhouse effect and rainfall?
MR. HANSEN: Yes, there certainly is.
MR. LEHRER: What is it?
MR. HANSEN: Globally, rainfall will increase as the greenhouse effect gets larger, because the hotter temperatures at the surface cause more evaporation and more rainfall, but the distribution of that rainfall will also change and in mid-latitude land areas, especially in the summer, there will tend to be less rainfall.
MR. LEHRER: And do you believe that there is -- do you personally believe as a scientist that the greenhouse effect is causing the drought or at least contributing to the drought?
MR. HANSEN: No, I would not say that this specific drought is due to the greenhouse effect, because last year the greenhouse effect was almost as strong as it is this year. We didn't have a drought last year. But what I am saying is that the probability of having droughts is increasing so that we should not use the period from 1950 to 1980 as representative of how often droughts are likely to occur in the future. They're probably going to occur more frequently in the future than they did during that period.
MR. LEHRER: Dr. Hansen, thank you very much. Charlayne.
MS. HUNTER-GAULT: For more on the greenhouse effect and its policy implications, we turn now to Dr. Michael Oppenheimer, Senior Scientist for the Environmental Defense Fund, and Dr. Lester Lave, an Environmental Economist at Carnegie-Mellon University; he joins us from public station WQED in Pittsburgh. Dr. Lave, just starting with you, I mean, you heard Dr. Hansen's analysis of this warming trend, this greenhouse effect. Do you buy all of that just in terms of the actual trend?
LESTER LAVE [Carnegie-Mellon University]: There is no doubt that the increase of these greenhouse effects will warm up the earth, but I think Dr. Hansen was a little less cautious than for example a 1987 National Academy of Sciences Report which said for example that at this point there is no way to distinguish reliably between greenhouse predicted effects and the natural effects that occur. It also points out that the current global models that are used for the sorts of effects Dr. Hansen was talking about are simply too imprecise to have very high confidence estimates either of what would be going on now or even what would be going on a century from now. So I would be a bit more cautious than Dr. Hansen was about the magnitude of these effects.
MS. HUNTER-GAULT: But you do agree that the earth is getting warmer?
DR. LAVE: There again I think that that's a little bit more difficult. In the 1950's, people were writing about a new ice age coming about because there were some sharp drops in temperature. Certainly we have seen some large increases since then, but we'd seen some large decreases at that point. There's a lot of natural variability, and I think there's no doubt that on average the earth has been getting warmer over the last 25 years, as Dr. Hansen says, but I'm not sure I would be quite soconfident that that trend is going to continue.
MS. HUNTER-GAULT: What do you think about that, Dr. Oppenheimer?
MICHAEL OPPENHEIMER [Environmental Defense Fund]: Well, I just returned from a meeting in Toronto, which was sponsored by the Canadian Government, and brought together scientists and governmental officials and others to discuss climate change, and the message from that meeting was clear, and that message was act now. In fact, there was a note of urgency.
DR. OPPENHEIMER: The feeling was -- I'll try to explain that -- the changes that are in store for us as best as we can predict over the next few decades will be that the climate will change faster than it has in any time since civilization began. That means that we're going to make life difficult in the future for societies and impossible for many natural eco systems. So the message that came back from this conference was let's start moving cautiously without a sense of emergency, but with a sense that we've got to get rolling to reduce the emissions, particularly the carbon dioxide, which results from fossil fuel burning, which are the cause of this problem.
MS. HUNTER-GAULT: But what was the evidence of that? I mean, you heard what Dr. Lave just said about his concerns about what Dr. Hansen said. I mean, what underscored this conclusion that this group in Toronto reached?
DR. OPPENHEIMER: I think that this is a consensus which has been developing for the last several years. The consensus arises partly from the honing of the models that we use to predict climate, partly from the now pretty firm consensus that the world is, in fact, warmer than 100 years. What I'm saying is the climate change has begun and the likelihood, although not the absolute certainty that this warming is due to the greenhouse effect. The point is the stakes in this question are so high we're really talking about the future of the earth, that we can't afford to take big risks. The effects are irreversible.
MS. HUNTER-GAULT: So what do you think should be done?
DR. OPPENHEIMER: The conference set two specific goals for the future that we ought to move towards. One goal was based on the notion that we ought to stabilize the atmosphere, we ought to slow the warming and eventually at some time in the future keep any more warming from occurring. That will eventually require a reduction of about half in the emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases, which are primarily but not entirely from fossil fuels. In the short-term, that means let's try to use, to be more efficient in our use of energy, let's try to encourage new energy sources, such as solar energy, which in the future can replace fossil fuels. There are other measures we can take. For instance, as you know, the Montreal protocol to protect the ozone layer cuts CFC, chlorfluorocarbon emissions in half. That isn't enough, because CFC's not only damage the ozone layer but they contribute to this greenhouse effect. So one of the strong recommendations of this conference was let's complete the job, completely replace CFC's.
MS. HUNTER-GAULT: Dr. Lave, what do you think about those recommendations, given the fact that you're not even sure that this trend, you're not as confident as the people obviously at this conference and Dr. Oppenheimer?
LESTER LAVE [Carnegie-Mellon University]: I think that first of all I'm very concerned about these global scale changes that take place, and so I certainly share this concern with both Dr. Hansen and Dr. Oppenheimer. I think the question is how much do we do now, how sure are we now, and how fast do we go? I think we're less sure now than Dr. Oppenheimer and Dr. Hansen have said. We have many pressing environmental problems, and I think that it would be a mistake to start turning our attention away from some really pressing immediate environmental problems toward chasing off after some goals that we are not sure of now. Secondly, I think there's a vast difference between the rhetoric that Dr. Oppenheimer said and the solutions that he proposed. The rhetoric was one --and Dr. Hansen -- the rhetoric was one that should suggest to the people who are viewing this program that there are devastating effects that are beginning now and you would expect that if they believed that, they would say that we have to immediately to do something and the sorts of conclusions that Dr. Oppenheimer was coming to suggest that ought to take a much more moderate policy. Incidentally, I have no quarrel with those conclusions, that policy at all. I think that that's exactly what it is I think we ought to be doing at this point.
MS. HUNTER-GAULT: But that there's a big gap between what he's saying is the problem and what he's proposing as a solution. How do you respond to that, Dr. Oppenheimer?
DR. OPPENHEIMER: Well, you can't change the world overnight. This effect is coming on slowly but the important thing to realize is that we're building in irreversible change. Emissions of these gases that go into the atmosphere today remain for hundreds of years to affect the climate, so that decisions we make today affect climate in the future. We're saying that if you want to make sure that the world is livable, that nature survives these changes, you've got to slow the warming. That job has to come with action now.
MS. HUNTER-GAULT: But he's saying that you're scaring people to death in the meantime. Did I misrepresent your concern, Dr. Lave, is that what you're saying?
DR. LAVE: No. I think that's exactly right. I think that I'd like to ask Dr. Oppenheimer as an environmental spokesman is whether he would like the public to say that problems such as radon in our homes or smog over our cities, that we should turn our backs on those problems and instead worry only about greenhouse effects.
DR. OPPENHEIMER: Certainly not, but you've made a very good point, which is we have other environmental problems and many of them, such as smog in our cities, arise from fossil fuel combustion. By getting rid of fossil fuels, gradually, in a moderate way, we can solve a whole slew of environmental problems.
MS. HUNTER-GAULT: But how do you do --
DR. OPPENHEIMER: Excuse me. I don't want people to get upset. We are not yet at a stage where we've reached impending catastrophe. All we're saying is this. Let's start now in a measured way to make changes that can avoid catastrophe in the future.
MS. HUNTER-GAULT: But what kind of practical steps can you do to do that? I mean, we use fossil fuels every day. What are you talking about when you say start to --
DR. OPPENHEIMER: Many of the nations on earth which have a similar living standard to us use a lot less energy to get that living standard. We've got to redirect our efforts towards encouraging, either through regulatory means or perhaps tax incentives, encouraging the use of less fossil fuels. Americans don't have to drive automobiles which are twenty or twenty-five miles per gallon in terms of their mileage. They can drive automobiles which are thirty-five or forty miles per gallon. Sure they're more expensive, but in the long-term, they're going to save energy, they're going tohelp keep us away from the climate warming. There are small changes like that, like putting in energy efficient light bulbs, which the individual, him or herself can do, which can start us on the right path.
MS. HUNTER-GAULT: Would you by that, Dr. Lave?
DR. LAVE: I think that energy conservation has go to be one of the big national priorities for a large number of reasons, in terms of keeping us independent of OPEC, in terms of solving some of the air pollution problems in our cities, and incidentally, in terms of greenhouse. But I would put it in that order. I would say that the reason is not to be primarily justified by greenhouse effects. Those are still too uncertain at this point to do what we want. I think also I would probably quarrel a bit with Dr. Oppenheimer about saying casually that people can simply buy cars that are more expensive and more fuel efficient, that what we've got to do is find some way so that this conservation, this energy efficiency, is not painful, it's not a pill that we take every day. We've got to find a way so that people view it as being the right solution, the easy solution, the kind of thing that's obvious to everybody, not some painful prescription due to some alarmist view of greenhouse effects.
DR. OPPENHEIMER: For whatever reason, Dr. Lave, we ought to begin the job now. And I don't disagree with you that there are lots of reasons again for ridding ourselves of fossil fuels and being energy efficient. Whatever reason you choose, it's a job that ought to be begun, and the government has to take the lead.
DR. LAVE: I'm sorry. Can I just say something? I don't quite agree with this getting rid of fossil fuels. At the moment, the vast majority of energy developed in the United States and in the world comes from fossil fuels. And I don't think we can casually say that it's the intent of national policy that these are all going to go away. If we do that, then we are left with some alternatives that may not be quite so satisfactory, either perhaps some expensive solar, or a vast increase in nuclear, and I must say at the moment I'm one of the people who would not be very sanguine about a vast increase in the amount of nuclear energy of the current technologies that we have.
MS. HUNTER-GAULT: We just have a brief moment for a response from Dr. Oppenheimer.
DR. OPPENHEIMER: I'd agree with you. We want to avoid a draconian choice in the future between an all nuclear fission economy or a climate change, and the away to avoid that is to begin a gradual move now to other alternatives. Let's start research money on photovoltaics and other alternatives. Let's get the money into the system. Let's get moving.
MS. HUNTER-GAULT: All right, Dr. Oppenheimer, thank you very much for being with us, and, Dr. Lave in Pittsburgh, thank you. Jim.
MR. LEHRER: Still to come on the Newshour tonight, perestroika and the people and how to read Presidential polls. FOCUS - PERESTROIKA AND THE PEOPLE
MR. LEHRER: Soviet Leader Gorbachev made another speech today at his historic Communist Party conference in Moscow. He made another passionate plea for his economic and political reforms known as perestroika, saying the future of socialism is at stake. Gorbachev had opened the conference Monday with a three and a half hour speech. He said he spoke again today because he sensed some misunderstanding of what perestroika was all about. Well, Robert MacNeil on his recent trip to the Soviet Union to cover the Reagan/Gorbachev Summit went to see how perestroika was understood by the rank and file Russians. It contains answers worth listening to again.
MR. MacNeil: A Soviet bride and groom make the customary visit to be photograhed in Red Square. What kind of Soviet Union will their children be born into? If it is the freer, more democratic, more humane state that Gorbachev promises, his reform may turn out to be one of the great events of the 20th Century. So far, it is mostly words, perestroika meaning restructuring, glasnost meaning openness. But three years into this revolution, how does the reform show? What can a visitor to Moscow actually notice? Well, it shows in a couple of ways, physically and psychologically. Physically there's been a sudden blossoming of new businesses to compete directly with the drab services run by the state. This is one of them, one of dozens of new cooperative restaurants that have sprouted recently. This Jewish restaurant opened only two days ago and already it is booked until the end of June. Gorbachev has pushed the profit making cooperatives to fill the accute need for goods and services. After heated debate, the Supreme Soviet passed the law making it legal to compete with state enterprise only last week. This is another restaurant. There is no limit on the profit owners can make, but they'll pay taxess just like American businesses. The new competition is most obvious in Moscow's central food market, where there are now three kinds of enterprise, state, cooperative and private. This is a private vendor.
MR. MacNeil: Where do you come from?
MR. MacNeil: Abzerbaijan. And do you fly?
PRIVATE VENDOR: No, I have a truck.
MR. MacNeil: You come in a truck and you drive. That's a long drive.
PRIVATE VENDOR: 2,300 kilometers.
MR. MacNeil: You drive 2,300 kilometers in your own truck? [That's like driving from Kansas City to New York just to sell a truckload of vegetables.]
MR. MacNeil: Where do you grow your vegetables?
MR. MacNeil: How far is that from Moscow?
VEGETABLE GROWER: 60 kilometers.
MR. MacNeil: How often do you come to town?
MR. MacNeil: How do you feel about perestroika?
VEGETABLE GROWER: I think everything's fine.
MR. MacNeil: Is it better now than it was before?
VEGETABLE GROWER: Much better. You can get hold of everything; everything's fine.
MR. MacNeil: I didn't understand. You can get more of everything?
VEGETABLE GROWER: You can get hold of everything you need.
MR. MacNeil: Can we ask you some questions about your market. This is very beautiful produce you have.
SOVIET CITIZEN: Straight from the garden.
MR. MacNeil: Where is the garden? Where is it grown?
MR. MacNeil: From Armenia. So how long ago did this leave Armenia?
SOVIET CITIZEN: Last evening.
MR. MacNeil: You drove?
SOVIET CITIZEN: No, by plane.
MR. MacNeil: It came by plane.
MR. MacNeil: How has your life changes since the perestroika began?
VENDOR: For the better.
MR. MacNeil: For the better. How is it for the better?
VENDOR: Now we are allowed to do everything.
MR. MacNeil: Allowed to do everything?
MR. MacNeil: What are you allowed to do now that you couldn't do before?
SHOPPER [To Mr. MacNeil]: They're most expensive. It's much cheaper there. They charge people too much.
MR. MacNeil: They charge people too much. So you shop on the other side.
SHOPPER: Don't do shopping here.
MR. MacNeil: Don't do shopping here. All right. Her prices are high. Her cucumbers flown from Armenia are four rubles a kilo. Across the aisle, in the state market cucumbers are only one and a half rubles. But the state-produced goods lack the variety, freshness and quality of the privately grown produce.
MR. MacNeil: We're interested in knowing how you see the prices and the quality of things since the perestroika program began.
MARKET SHOPPER: No changes in the market.
MR. MacNeil: No changes?
MARKET SHOPPER: It's very expensive there.
MR. MacNeil: Very expensive there.
MARKET SHOPPER: Very expensive. Cooperative prices are very expensive, no changes.
MR. MacNeil: No change. The price has changed here too?
MR. MacNeil: Falling in-between in both price and quality are the cooperatives. Here the cucumbers are 220 a kilo.
COOPERATIVE SHOPPER: The quality is excellent.
MR. MacNeil: Is it an improvement to have these?
COOPERATIVE SHOPPER: The quality is better now; the prices are higher.
MR. MacNeil: Do you feel perestroika changing your life directly?
COOPERATIVE SHOPPER: No, I don't have that feeling.
MR. MacNeil: But this makes a difference, this kind of store makes a difference?
COOPERATIVE SHOPPER: They'll make state shops work better.
MR. MacNeil: They will make the state shops work better. How will they do that?
COOPERATIVE SHOPPER: Collective farmers will have to compete with cooperatives, so collective farmers will start working better.
MR. MacNeil: Thank you, sir.
MR. MacNeil: Competition has even penetrated that austere bastion of the state monopoly, the vast department store Gumme on Red Square. A cooperative clothing store has been given space here to market trendier clothes and better service. The government gave the owners a start-up loan.
MR. MacNeil: Is it going to be a success financially, do you think?
MR. MacNeil: Can you tell yet?
SHOP OWNER: We're working from the beginnin of February, and approximately we have about the pure profit is about ninety, ninety thousand.
MR. MacNeil: Really?
MR. MacNeil: Now what will you do with that profit? Do you just keep it for yourselves?
MR. MacNeil: Or do you reinvest it in the business?
SHOP OWNER: We shall invest certainly. We shall invest because we have an opportunity to expand, expand our trade.
MR. MacNeil: How are you going to do that?
SHOP OWNER: I mean that we may build another shop without any rent. We shall build it ourselves, maybe we shall receive another -- we think about and organize in other points of trade in different parts of the city, and we have right to receive goods from all the regions of the USSR. And we know that some goods are made better in that region or in this, and that market is already supplied fully, and here the people are satisfied with this sort of goods.
MR. MacNeil: Can you import goods from abroad?
SHOP OWNER: Till now, no. We didn't make it, but it will be a good business I'm sure.
MR. MacNeil: The store is so popular it has to let customers in a few at a time, so the line, the perennial symbol of Soviet shortages, can now mean hope, not despair. For example, these people are cuing outside a state clothing store, because it is responding to competition by selling smarter, better made clothes. So on the material, physical side, you can see the new policy making a tiny improvement in the chronic failure of the Soviet system to supply basic consumer needs. The same wind of competition is supposed to blow through heavy industry and politics with contested elections for factory bosses and party leaders. Then we come to the psychological impact of reform. Fear has always played some part in Russian life, almost part of the national metabolism, awareness of an arbitrary power wielded from the Kremlin sometimes as cruelly by the Communists as it was by the czars. Now one senses that fear may be ebbing out of the Soviet psyche, but imperceptably like a tide just beginning to turn. Certainly, people are willing to talk in public.
MR. MacNeil: What is this lady saying?
SOVIET CITIZEN [Through Interpreter]: -- the effect on the common people, wages and prices are the same, same wages, no freedom, absolutely no freedom, the border's closed.
MR. MacNeil: What do you mean the border is closed?
INTERPRETER: The gentleman said it's a very difficult problem because what are you going to do without money, without currency.
MR. MacNeil: The lady said that the border's closed.
INTERPRETER: She said, I'll do the same thing I'm doing here.
MR. MacNeil: The young woman is very outspoken. Nothing will work under socialism. This is the Arbat, a district that has long been a center for Moscow intellectuals and artists. One artist sells wall placques satirizing some of the slogans of perestroika and those who oppose it.
SOVIET CITIZEN: Everywhere, in every office, you may find people for whom perestroika is something they're afraid of and there are millions of people who don't like it -- it doesn't go far enough to change something because they'll find danger --
MR. MacNeil: What danger?
SOVIET CITIZEN: Jobs, their way of life; that's why they are against it.
MR. MacNeil: Or do they fear that it may be a campaign for some years, and then the whole thing will change?
SOVIET CITIZEN: I think you're right. A lot of people believe it's just a campaign for three years, five years, even my own father. He's a Communist, and I am not. He believes that it's just a short lived campaign, just to, maybe just to cheat people, to cheat the intellectuals who want something to be changed, who want the political life to be reformed, who want more rights.
MR. MacNeil: Do you think your father is right?
MR. MacNeil: You don't?
SOVIET CITIZEN: I don't. He's absolutely wrong.
MR. MacNeil: You think the country needs perestroika, because it needs the political reforms to make economic reforms?
SOVIET CITIZEN: Yes. Political reforms in first place, if not political reforms as such, but more human rights, just ordinary human rights for the people who lack it.
MR. MacNeil: But even people in the food markets where the daily frustrations of Soviet life have been most obvious are just as outspoken about the political side of perestroika.
SOVIET SENIOR CITIZEN [Through Interpreter]: What can I say? Some people are pleased with perestroika and some people are not sure, because it's difficult to popularity in one or two years - - you would have difficulties. We have achievements already.
SOVIET CITIZEN [Through Interpreter]: During stagnation period we had two morals, one official moral and second for internal ears only, and now they became the same.
MR. MacNeil: So you could say one thing outside and another thing inside the house and now you can say the same thing, is that what he's saying?
SOVIET CITIZEN [Through Interpreter]: The same, yes. That's the essence of perestroika and we hope it will be the same in the future.
MR. MacNeil: There is still fear.
INTERPRETER [Speaking for Woman in Street]: She is scared.
MR. MacNeil: Why is she scared?
INTERPRETER: She's afraid to be arrested.
MR. MacNeil: Afraid to be arrested.
SOVIET WOMAN [Speaking through Interpreter]: They won't release me.
MR. MacNeil: All right. Where does she come from?
INTERPRETER: From the provinces.
MR. MacNeil: And she said there's nothing in the shops?
INTERPRETER: "I came to Moscow to buy sugar, because our children, we don't have sugar in the provinces, and there is nothing in our shelves, and I'm afraid I will be arrested and they won't release me because I don't have support, I don't have relatives."
MR. MacNeil: She was not the only one who didn't want to talk.
SOVIET CITIZEN IN STREET [Through Interpreter]: No, no. I'm not going to speak to you.
MR. MacNeil: But in those who did, it was fascinating to hear the first stirrings of Soviet democracy.
INTERPRETER [Speaking for Elderly Woman in Street]: When I was 16, I was in the Second World War, and over 40 years it's the first time I feel myself a human being. Now I can work where I want to. If I have little salary, I can change my job. I can say what I think.
MR. MacNeil: You could not say what you thought before?
INTERPRETER [Speaking for Same Elderly Woman]: No, I couldn't. I couldn't say that. My husband -- from the very beginning -- he was a free thinker and for this he was reprimanded 17 times over his career; my husband died. If he were alive, he would have been happy.
MR. MacNeil: He would have been happy about perestroika?
INTERPRETER [Speaking for Same Elderly Woman]: About perestroika and glasnost. I am ready to kneel in front of Gorbachev, because he gave people freedom of action and thought.
MR. MacNeil: Talk is still the chief product of the Gorbachev reforms. Translating that into the more humane, democratic and productive nation Gorbachev apparently wants will be an enormous task. Some think it impossible in a society which rewards the opposite behavior, conformism, silence, suspicion, loyalty. It will be resisted on many grounds, not least that Western materialism will corrupt the Communist ideals personified by Lenin and still renovated. On a warm spring day, new brides still follow the traition of laying flowers on Lenin's tomb. FOCUS - '88 - POLLS APART
MS. HUNTER-GAULT: We turn next to Presidential politics and why there is such volatility in recent public opinion polls. Judy Woodruff has more. Judy.
MS. WOODRUFF: Just two weeks ago, several national polls showed the almost certain Democratic nominee, Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, with a double digit lead over Vice President George Bush, an NBC Wall Street Journal poll of June 12th, and Dukakis winning 49 percent of those polled, and Bush 34 percent. A Gallup poll conducted the same week was similar, Dukakis ahead of Bush 52 percent to 38 percent. But this week, the polls appear to paint a different picture. A new Gallup poll shows Dukakis with only a 5 point lead over Bush, 46 to 41 percent. Just yesterday, an ABC poll narrowed the gap even more. It had Dukakis edging out Bush by just 3 points, 45 to 42 percent, a statistical dead heat. Joining us now to try to explain what all these numbers mean is Norman Ornstein, Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and Co-Director of People, Press, and Politics, a Times Mirror study of the American electorate. Norman, why the narrowing?
NORMAN ORNSTEIN [American Enterprise Institute]: Well, I think there are several things that have happened here, Judy. First and foremost, it hasn't been George Bush so much jumping up in the polls as it is Michael Dukakis coming down. He's coming down, because people are starting to learn more about him. There was a very positive feeling about Mike Dukakis just a few weeks ago. It stemmed from his winning and his merging forward as the nominee, but very shallow knowledge of Dukakis, and the last couple of weeks as we really focused on him as the nominee, and as the press has, as the Republican Party has, it's been more negative, and he's starting to feel a little bit of that. He's pretty predictable. Secondly, we have clearly seen that as the surveys have changed, we have a very fluid electorate. We have an electorate that suggests -- the Times Mirror survey we just did a couple of weeks ago, 70 percent of the people say they may change their minds now between now and election day, 70 percent.
MS. WOODRUFF: Is that unusual for an election this time of year?
MR. ORNSTEIN: Very much so. It always crystalizes more as you get close to the election. And after all, we have an open contest, two individuals who had never been President, no referendum per se on the incumbent, and it means we're going to see a lot more fluidity between now and election day. What these results suggest is that in two months we had roughly a 30 point swing, George Bush having nearly a 15 point lead, going to Mike Dukakis having nearly a 15 point lead. If we can have that sort of swing in two months, we can have swings back and forth, and we're already beginning to see a little of that now.
MS. WOODRUFF: So the Dukakis lead a few weeks ago, did it mean anything?
MR. ORNSTEIN: It did mean something. When you look more deeply, you can see the underlying structure of support for the candidates, and what we see is that George Bush, as most of these polls suggest, is hovering below 45 percent, and has been for quite some time. That creates problems for him. There are certain parts of the Reagan coalition, different types of voters that contributed to Ronald Reagan winning with 59 percent in 1984, that aren't moving to George Bush.
MS. WOODRUFF: Such as --
MR. ORNSTEIN: Particularly disaffected voters, middle aged, Southern, Midwestern, lower income types of people who are not happy with the state of the society. They liked Ronald Reagan because he was the outsider coming in to clean up the mess in Washington. They don't view George Bush in quite the same way. What we also saw a few weeks ago was that Democrats were returning to the fold. Democrats have not been as loyal in Presidential politics as Republicans have. Lots of them defected to the Republican side for Ronald Reagan in 1984. They didn't have a reason to vote against Mike Dukakis at this point. Getting through the next few weeks, the challenge for Dukakis, and we're already starting to see a few problems, the slippage that we see, as best we can tell, is coming from Democrats who are getting more uncertain about their nominee. The task for him is to keep Democrats for a reason to vote for him.
MS. WOODRUFF: Why are they getting more uncertain? I mean, can you tell that from the polls and from the --
MR. ORNSTEIN: We can only make inferences now, but what we see with the more in-depth survey that we did, that Gallup did for Times Mirror a couple of weeks ago, compared to the narrower sort of look at the horse race, the two candidates now, is probably we can suggest the types of voters who are getting a little more uneasy. As we move from a focus of Mike Dukakis beating Jesse Jackson in primaries two to one, sixty, forty, for the last couple of weeks Mike Dukakis negotiating with Jesse Jackson, you have a little more unease among white, perhaps more conservative, new deal oriented voters, and others who are a little bit less enamored of Jackson getting more uneasy. Also, I suspect the attacks on Dukakis as a liberal have hurt him a little bit among Democrats who are not quite as liberal.
MS. WOODRUFF: By the President and by --
MR. ORNSTEIN: Yes, and of course there are reasons why George Bush and Ronald Reagan are trying to highlight Mike Dukakis in that way. They want to peel off those Democrats who voted for Ronald Reagan in 1984.
MS. WOODRUFF: Within the numbers, there's also a gap, isn't there, between many women voters, particularly white women voters, and men?
MR. ORNSTEIN: There is no question that what we have seen developing more and more in the last 10 years or so, the so called "gender gap", where women -- and this is almost entirely true among white voters, it barely exists among black voters -- women are much more strongly oriented towards the Democratic Party, their values are a little bit different than are men still persists. But remember, that doesn't mean that the election gets decided on that basis. There was a gender gap in 1984; Ronald Reagan still won. He got more votes from men than he did from women. The question in the end is going to be who can amass more support than would normally be the case from both sexes.
MS. WOODRUFF: When do the poll numbers begin to be serious enough or reflective enough so that we should take them more seriously, or should ever take them very seriously?
MR. ORNSTEIN: It depends on which numbers we look at. These horse race numbers that we've seen, the ones that are the trial heats between two candidates, are going to change a lot between now and election day. We shouldn't look at those numbers as meaning anything. These are as if the election were held today and the election is not held today.
MS. WOODRUFF: A snapshot.
MR. ORNSTEIN: And clearly in the last couple of election cycles, we got more and more obsessed with these things. We look at them day by day and almost hour by hour to see these changes. In this year especially /--
MS. WOODRUFF: We meaning us, the press?
MR. ORNSTEIN: Yes, meaning the people around the political community, but then we foist them on the public at large day after day too, and a lot of people now have a major investment in surveys. I could point to thirty or forty major national surveys done by news organizations and others, you put that kind of money in, you want those numbers to get out there and to be seen by people. We get a little too obsessed with that. We're going to see a lot of changes between now and election day. More than likely, the underlying structure of the electorate is such and the candidates are such we're going to have a very close contest, but that doesn't mean we won't see Mike Dukakis perhaps take a 20 point lead at one point, maybe even George Bush move ahead by ten or 15 points. That will move back and forth. Probably what's more significant for voters is to try and see what's different between the support that Ronald Reagan got and the support that George Bush is getting. What's different in the coalition that Mike Dukakis is able to put together that makes this a close election compared to 1984, that Walter Mondale was unable to do? Polls can help us in that regard, but not so much these surface figures of who's ahead, looking a little bit deeper at why.
MS. WOODRUFF: And also the state by state numbers toward the end become much more significant.
MR. ORNSTEIN: Sure. And of course, we have to remember that even when we saw polls two weeks ago or ten days ago that showed a 14 or 13 point Mike Dukakis lead, when you looked at it state by state, in electoral votes you had a much much closer contest. At that point, Dukakis and Bush were even in the South for example. Right now what this latest survey shows is that Bush has pulled ahead in the South, an indication that that is where some of the change is taking place. The bottom line in a Presidential election, of course, is electoral votes.
MS. WOODRUFF: Norman Ornstein, thank you once again for being with us.
MR. LEHRER: Again the major stories of this Thursday, five employees were suspended because of a drug investigation at the White House, all White House employees will be given drug tests. President Reagan said he was upset but not surprised that there was drug abuse among the White House staff. The U.S. foreign debt hit the highest annual mark ever in 1987 and the U.S. Supreme Court decided to decide whether capital punishment for crimes committed by juveniles constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. Good night, Charlayne.
MS. HUNTER-GAULT: Good night, Jim. That's our Newshour for tonight. We'll be back tomorrow. 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)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/507-b56d21s53c).
This episode's headline: Perestroika and the People; Polls Apart. The guests include NORMAN 0RNSTEIN, American Enterprise Institute; LESTER LAVE, Carnegie-Mellon;. Byline: In New York: ROBERT MacNeil; In Washington: JAMES LEHRER
Asset type
Social Issues
Military Forces and Armaments
Politics and Government
Copyright NewsHour Productions, LLC. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License (
Media type
Moving Image
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Producing Organization: NewsHour Productions
AAPB Contributor Holdings
NewsHour Productions
Identifier: NH-1243 (NH Show Code)
Format: 1 inch videotape
Generation: Master
Duration: 01:00:00;00
NewsHour Productions
Identifier: NH-19880630 (NH Air Date)
Format: U-matic
Generation: Preservation
Duration: 01:00:00;00
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,” 1988-06-30, NewsHour Productions, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed April 11, 2021,
MLA: “The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour.” 1988-06-30. NewsHour Productions, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. April 11, 2021. <>.
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