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MR. MAC NEIL: Good evening. Leading the news this Friday, the Judge in the Iran-Contra case dropped key charges against former White House Aide Cliver North. Six people and one company pleaded innocent to the charges relating to the Pentagon procurement scandal, West Germany began a criminal investigation into firms alleged to have helped Libya build a chemical weapons plant. We`ll have details in our News Summary in a moment. Jim.
MR. LEHRER: After the News Summary we examine the state of race relations in America today with author Shelby Steele, Princeton Professor Richard Nathan, former Justice Department official William Bradford Reynolds, NAACP Lawyer Elaine Jones and Juan Williams of the Washington Post. And then Gargen & Shields, how the Bush cabinet and other current matters appear to our current analytical regulars, David Gergen & Mark Shields.
MR. MAC NEIL: The judge in the Iran-Contra case today dismissed two key criminal charges against former White House aide Oliver North, Judge Gerhard Gasal said he had no choice because of the impasse over classified documents North said he needed for his defense. Yesterday Attorney General Richard Thornburgh certified that release of the documents would harm national security. Special Prosecutor Lawrence Walsh had asked for dismissal of the charges that the fired national security aide illegally diverted money from selling arms to Iran to the Nicaragua?. Contras. Walsh is proceeding with 12 more charges against North and said today the classified information problem should no longer be at issue. But North`s attorney, Brendon Sullivan, has said the issue pervades all the remaining charges as well. Jim.
MR. LEHRER: Six people and a company pleaded not guilty today to charges related to the Pentagon procurement scandal. The company is Teledyne Electronics, a defense contractor. The people are three Teledyne employees, two private defense consultants and a purchasing specialist by the U.S. Navy. All were indicted last week on charges of conspiring to obtain defense contracts by paying bribes for inside information. Their pleas of innocence today were entered in a federal district court in Alexandria, Virginia. The trial was set for March 27th.
MR. MAC NEIL: West Germany said it`s opened a criminal investigation into charges that soma of its companies helped build a chemical weapons plant for Libya. Yesterday Chancellor Helmut Kohl conceded that authorities had uncovered new documents implicating the companies. Kohl had previously challenged U.S. assertions about West German involvement, saying stronger evidence was needed. Libya has said that West Germans helped in the plant but maintains that it maintains only pharmaceuticals. What`s believed to be the body of an American airman killed during a 1986 bombing of Libya arrived in Rome today under Vatican protection. Libyan airmen dressed in dark fatigues carried the flag draped coffin out of a military plane at Rome`s Campino Airport, They were met by an Italian honor guard and Vatican representatives, Libya said it was returning the body as a humanitarian gesture. It is thought to be that of Capt. Paul Lawrence who vas a weapons officer or. a bomber shot down during the Tripoli raid,
MR. LEHRER: Three military planes collided over West Germany today. A British jet fighter flaw into a squadron of eight West German fighters. It hit two of the eight. Two British crewmen died, die German pilot was injured. The accident occurred at an air base near the town of Weismore in Northern Germany. West German political leaders immediately called for a reduction in military flights. More than 100 people died in military related plane crashes in West Germany last year.
MR. MAC NEIL: In Israel`s occupied areas today, Arabs rioted in the West Bank City of Hebron after Jewish settlers began armed patrols. Elsewhere Israeli soldiers killed two Palestinians and wounded seventeen others in separate clashes. Also today there was a deadly car bombing in Be-rut. The blast came as savage fighting continued between rival Moslem factions. We have a report by Louise 3ates of Worldwide Television News.
LOUISE BATES: Beirut`s first car bomb this year blew a deep crater in the road and reduced several vehicles to scrap. It also started fires which gutted nearby shops. But it could have been much more lethal. The Mercedes exploded after most of an unsuspecting crowd of Hezbollah supporters had marched past the vehicle. Shrapnel cut through the rear of the crowd of militiamen, women and children, killing at least seven people and wounding many others. The marchers were on their way to hear Sheikh Badlalla, their spiritual mentor, denounced the attempt by the rival Amal movement to evict Hezbollah fighters from South Lebanon`s apple province. The protesters chanted, "Death to America," and "Death to Berri," the reference to Amal`s chief Nabi Berri. If the bomb had gone off minutes earlier, an Hezbollah spokesman said there`d have been a massacre. As the bomb exploded, militiamen from the two factions ware battling in Southern Lebanon with mortars and machine guns. The Amal is attempting to dislodge the Hezbollah from the village of Jaba... repulsed in latest offensive, the fourth in as many days. Hezbollah followers aim to create an Islamic Republic in Lebanon similar to Iran, while Amal wants a Lebanon with Moslems and Christians having equal shares in the running of the nation,
MR. MAC NEIL: Doubts were raised today about yesterday`s miraculous story of survival from the Armenian earthquake. Soviet television reported that this man along with five of his neighbors were found alive in a cellar under the ruins of an apartment building in the City of Leninakan. He said they had survived for 35 days by eating canned food stored in the basement, but today the Soviet press said the man`s companions could not be traced. Last week, Soviet papers reported that 17 people had been found 25 days after the disaster, but those reports were later denied,
MR. LEHRER: Back In this country, two year end economic figures came out today. The Labor Department said wholesale prices rose 4 percent in 1983. That was almost double the increase from the previous year and the largest since 1981. Also, retail sales jumped 6.7 percent in 1988, which was the biggest rise in four years,
MR. MAC NEIL: The man known as the "subway vigilante" was sentenced today in a New York court. Bernard Goetz was given a year in jail and fined $5,000 for possessing an unregistered handgun he used to shoot four teenagers on a subway in 1934. Three of the teenagers have since recovered but the fourth remains paralyzed. At the time, Goetz claimed that the men were attempting to mug him and he acted in self-defense. The four said they were pan handling. Goetz was acquitted of attempted murder but found guilty of the gun charge. Under today`s sentence which could have carried seven years in prison, Goetz will be eligible for parole in less than two months.
MR. LEHRER: And that`s it for the News Summary tonight. Now it`s or. to race relations in America and the return of Gergen & Shields.
MR. MAC NEIL: For our major focus this Friday night we Look at the state of race relations in this country, The NAACP Legal Defense Fund has just released the results of a national survey which found that whites and blacks are worlds apart in their views of each other. On the whole, whites believe blacks are treated all right and blacks largely disagree. The study included a survey of the black urban under class. And from it, the NAACP concluded that the safety net did not extend to the impoverished, contrary to Reagan administration claims. The study also concluded that even chronically poor blacks share the same values and aspirations as whites and there was agreement about ways to improve the plight of the under class. But interestingly, the study also found that blacks who were middle class or were making it had "a stance of studied avoidance about the plight of lower-income black people.". President Reagan said in an interview to be broadcast Sunday that black leaders have misled Americans about his civil rights record. Mr. Reagan told the CBS program 60 Minutes, "Sometimes I wonder if they really want what they say they want because some of those leaders are doing very wall leading organizations based on keeping alive the feeling that they are victims of prejudice.". Tonight we examine some of these ideas. Elaine Jones Is Deputy Director Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. She joins us from public television station KPDS in San Diego. From San Francisco. Shelby Steele, an Associate Professor of English at San Jose State University who is currently working on a book about the subject of race. Joining us in ".Washington we have William Bradford Reynolds, outgoing Assistant Attorney General in the Reagan administration. With him is Juan Williams, staff writer for the Washington Post Magazine and the Author of Eyes on the Prize, America`s Civil Rights Years, the companion book to the acclaimed TV series. And here in New York, we have Richard Nathan, who teaches public policy at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University.
Ms. Jones in San Diego, 25 years on from the Civil Rights Act of 1964, your survey appears to show that whites in general think that the race problem is solved and blacks do not think it is solved. Is that a fair conclusion from the survey?
ELAINE JONES, NAACP Legal Defense Fund: (San Diego) I don`t think so, Robert. The survey gives us mixed results. It shows us there are substantial areas of agreement between blacks and whites on certain policies and issues that ought to be addressed. It also points out, as you have indicated, areas of disagreement, Soma of those areas of agreement are clear. White Americans and blacks, a sizable majority, believe that blacks are not promoted as they should be and that race plays a factor in promotions. Whites believe that standardized tests don`t merit and don`t indicate whether or not one, those tests do not indicate whether or not one should be hired for a job. They also indicate that affirmative action, surprisingly enough, is appropriate, as long as it does not include rigid quotas, but they approve of goals and timetables. They understand the housing programs are needed for blacks in the under class and put houses, houses should be placed in areas that blacks do not currently live in. So there are substantial areas of agreement, In the area of criminal justice, white America believes that more should be done to prevent crime and to rid us of some of this poverty and hopelessness and to keep children in school. So while there are areas of disagreement, there is a consensus. 53 percent of the population in this study believes that more should be done in the area of race relations.
MR. MAC NEIL: But when it comes to attitudes to housing and the way the police treat the two different races and education and so on, the views are quite different, are they not?
MS. JONES: It depends on the questions asked, Robert. For example, if you asked many whites, do you think blacks are discriminated against, the answer would be in some of these areas would be no, but if you asked them, well, do you think that blacks are promoted as they should be in terms of the work force, the answer would be, no they`re not, that blacks are not treated fairly in specific circumstances, but the questions addressed oust be targeted and must be very specific. Generalized questions don`t yield understanding of race issues,
MR. MAC NEIL: Well, I`d like to ask the rest of our guests as we get into this, what surprised or intrigued then about the finding of this report. Shelby Steele in San Francisco, what intrigued you about the report?
SHELBY STEELE, San Jose State University; (San Francisco): I found, what intrigued me particularly about what we`re speaking of here, the disparity between the way blacks and whites perceive the decree of discrimination that blacks suffer points in my mind at any rate that both groups, both races, tend to see themselves as separate and competing power groups and that I think that perceptions of how blacks are treated reflect the power interest of both groups, that is to say blacks see mote discrimination than probably there is. Whites see less discrimination than probably that there is, If we look at the black side of things, I think that black power for the moat part and certainly over the last 30 years has been primarily a power that grows out of our past victimization. And so in that sense it`s a kind of victim focused power, and I think that we tend to see victimization or tend to exaggerate it in the interest of our own power. I think, on the other hand, whites tend to minimize it because then If there is net discrimination, if blacks have not been victimized, then that absolves them in many cases of having to respond to our power, to make concessions and so forth. So it .seems to me that the disparity and perceptions that we see in the report, which I think really was striking, reflects this division, the separate power units that both groups have evolved Into over the last 30 years,
MR. MAC NEIL: Juan Williams, does that disparity, is it only a disparity of perception, or is it a disparity of reality and hew do the two match?
JUAN WILLIAMS, Washington Post: Veil, I think there is a disparity to reality. I mean, if you went to a political meeting or. one side of town at a black political meeting and asked them what was their opinion of Jesse Jackson, what was their opinion of Ronald Reagan, what was their opinion of Louis Farrakhan and then took an imaginary journey to a political meeting on the white side of town and asked them their opinions and perceptions of those same political leaders, you would have pretty much an antithetical conclusion, blacks saying that those guys whatever and whites saying we don`t like them or do like them. What I take from this report, Robin, is more the point of the political differences between the two groups, whereas you see I think that in the last eight years for certain under Ronald Reagan and under Jesse Jackson`s `64 and `88 candidacy. I think both groups, blacks and whites, have beer, really pushed apart. I think there`s very little of politicians coming in and saying here are the common points, here are points of commonalities in the ways .that the races could cone together, where coalitions could be built around the race issue, coalitions such as existed in the sixties, when we saw real progress made on race. I think now we are in a situation where people are resentful and angry if you look at the bussing issue, affirmative action, these kinds of things, if you look on the black side at the Jackson sort of racial crusade politics that led to his support and which he said helped to sort of stir up blacks and increase registration. I think it also helped to separate the races and heighten anxieties and tensions between the two. This is not to the good. This is the kind of think is troublesome, but as Elaine pointed out at the start, there is good news in this poll. The poll that LDF did, the Legal Defense Fund, is pretty much the same as a study done a few years ago by the Joint Center For Political Studies here in Washington that showed that whereas race was the No. 1 issue on their mind in this country, it had subsided to the point of being No. 3 or 4 behind things like education, health care and crime. And when you asked white Americans the same thing, they too had crime, health care and education as their top issues, so that you see that there are these points of commonality existing between the races and opportunities really for politicians who want to bring the two together.
MR. MAC NEIL: Mr. Reynolds, do you see that the two races have been pushed apart by policies In the last eight years?
WILLIAM BRADFORD REYNOLDS, Former Assistant Attorney General: I would agree substantially with what Juan just said. I think it`s interesting that the studies were conducted during the height of the political campaign.
MR. MAC NEIL: They were done last summer.
MR. REYNOLDS: And it was at that particular time when we had most of the rhetoric that related to a number of race relations, a number of issues that impact on what was reported. So I do think, that the political overtones that certainly were prominent at that time probably have a lot to do with the degree of the divergence or at lease something to do with it and probably that in a calmer time and quieter time with more pinpointed questions, you would see less of that, the kind of discrepancy, but politics certainly plays a role. To me, one of the things that I think Is most significant is the point that Juan made and that is that discrimination based on race is a factor that everybody still recognizes to be present, but there are other factors that are intruding into the equation and becoming prominent and more prominent that explain some of the difficulties that are confronting the country today and will for the next four years. And I think a general recognition of that has changed the focus in many areas on what Is important and what needs to be done, and I think that`s very heartening. One other thing that I would point up that it seams to me is heartening is the study did point out probably in a way that might surprise a number of people that those individuals who are at the lower echelon economically at the stratosphere in this country still hold very strongly to the American dream, that we do not have people in that element of society who have given up, who are simply standing in welfare lines and content to receive the checks and do nothing and are not interested in striving to do better themselves and for their children to do better. And I think overwhelmingly what the study shows is that the American dreams of advancing yourself is alive and well and is something that chose individuals that some suggest don`t any longer hold on to that dream, they really do hole it very dearly, and it`s a major factor in the way that they view these kinds of issues.
MR. MAC NEIL: Mr. Nathan, you`ve written about those people particularly. Did that: surprise you?
RICHARD NATHAN, Princeton "University; Well, I`d like to bring another perspective into this, and that Is that 20 years ago I was a staff member of the Koerner Commission, the so called civil disorders commission on the riots of 1967, and that commission said in a report that the nation is fast becoming two nations, one black and one white, and something that I see that`s happening and is corroborated by some of the data in this study and in other data that`s been mentioned here is what you might refer to as a bifurcation within the black community, an increasingly serious problem of people left behind in the inner city, the under class. This is a problem, as William Julius Wilson, a sociologist at the University of Chicago has said, is a problem of class, and what we have to recognize is that we`ve made appreciable progress in the civil rights revolution, not complete and not enough. But a lot of people have been able to get out, to move out, to live in better and safer areas, which is certainly something you would expect them to do and understand they`re doing and what`s happened is we have a residual problem, a deeper, more severe, smaller, different social problem in the inner city, the under class problem, which I think we have to face up to, and which the data that has been mentioned in the discussion so far and in the study that is being discussed I think points out in soma ways we`re coming to understand that better.
MR. MAC NEIL: Is it problem of class, not race, Elaine Jones?
MS. JONES: It`s both. It`s both. There`s 30 million poor folks and families in the United States that are below the poverty line; 2/3 of these people are white Americans. We`ve got 21, 22 million white Americans who are simply impoverished, You`ve got about 9 to 10 million black Americans, so numerically there are more blacks than whites who fall into this category, however, blacks are disproportionately poor. I mean, blacks are what, 33 million in the population, and we`re about 7 to 8 million of the chronically poor. Now, the point that was made by Brad and I`m surprised that Brad Reynolds and I are agreeing publicly on the issue, I`m agreeing with him. But that point is you look at this underclass population that was studied and you see there`s 78 percent women, 22 percent men, The myths are refuted. You aren`t talking about big families, small families, average 3.2 people. Children, you aren`t talking about welfare mothers with big checks and a lot of children, That`s a myth. You`re talking on the average 1.72 kids. And what these women are telling us when you ask them what it is they want, they don`t tell you a bigger welfare check. What they`re telling you they want, they say Job opportunity. We want training, we want basic skills training, we need child care. In other words, these people are willing to sacrifice to lift themselves up out of this poverty situation, but they need some help from us.
MR. MAC NEIL: Whose myth are you talking about?
MS. JONES: Well, I`m saying it`s...I`ve read literature and I`ve read references and it has been generally understood, and I hope I`m wrong on this, but I think not, that welfare mothers maybe have lots of children so they can have huge welfare checks. These women have income of approximately $4900 a year. You know, only 11 percent get any housing subsidies. They`ve got this rent to pay averaging $191 a month. These people are poor, impoverished, but willing to do something to help themselves if we will stop neglecting them and reach out a hand and help them.
MR. MAC NEIL: Mr. Reynolds.
MR. REYNOLDS: I can`t really argue with that. I think that`s what the study shows and certainly my own personal involvement over the past eight years would reaffirm that that`s the attitude. And I think that the focus really needs to turn in some respects to how we can better reach out that helping hand and my strong sense is that one of the principal places where we have to focus is on education. The failure of the public education system in this country, especially in the inner cities, is to me one of the major reasons why we still have the kind of problems that we`re facing across the board and that is certainly at the core of, it seems to me, any solution that we try to come up with to try to treat with a number of these issues.
MR. MAC NEIL: Shelby Steele, you wanted to come in?
SHELBY STEELE, San Jose State University: Yes, It seems to me the issue, you know, certainly the problem of the under class has many many variables to it, and it`s obviously a very complex issue, and it seems to me that before we can offer a helping hand, before we know exactly what to do, we have to have a better understanding of what really is at work, why this poverty is so chronic and ongoing, and it seems to me again, it may seem a little esoteric, it seems to me that certainly one of the dimensions, one of the problems that is at work in the black under class is an identity that is focused around victimization and that sort of an identity places the agent of change outside of the self and it in many cases undermines the sense of individual initiative that people can have. Blacks in the under class have a name. They live on a street corner in a city like everyone else and there is a sphere there, a margin of possibility by which they can exercise some control over their lives, and I think this is one of the failings of the civil rights leadership in recent years is that they have not pointed out this margin of freedom that is available to people within their lives even as they live now. This certainly does not absolve the government of responsibility.
MR. MAC NEIL: You sound as though you`re agreeing with what I quoted President Reagan as saying at the beginning of the program, that there are black leaders who perpetuate the idea of a victimized black population.
MR. STEELE: I think they do, It shocks me a little to agree with President Reagan, but I think he`s right there. I think that the black leadership has of the worst things that cripples people and keeps them in poverty is a sense of hopelessness and I saw in the report the measure of alienation. Blacks are by 11 percent I think it was more alienated than whites in this country, a sense of being powerless, of having no control over their lives, and it seems to me that Is really the focus, and no one is going to ever break that cycle of poverty for the black under class. They can, you can, I heard Bill Cosby say the other day in regard to parents raising children, that you can take them to the water but the child has to drink themselves, and I think whatever we do for the black under class must have that component. People must be shown they need to drink for themselves, to have their own Initiative, to keep their kids home and so forth.
MR. MAC NEIL: I`m not sure the gentleman and I read the same survey on the under class, the one that we`re discussing today. I came with just the opposite conclusion, rather than hopelessness, these people who were surveyed were full of hope. You asked them what they want for themselves and their children. I mean, they want their children to stay in school and be motivated. 55 percent of them have hopes that their children will go to college. I mean, it`s not one of despair and having turned off. It`s one of staying in there day in and day out, trying to make ends meet, trying to eke out of assistance, holding on for some assistance, so it`s not one of, the point of this survey is that although for the past eight years or so the system has turned its back on these people, these people have not in turn turned their back on us.
MR. STEELE: But have they turned their back on their own plight? That may be too extreme a statement but I think there`s a difference between what people announce as their hopes for their children and their subscription to the American dream and their capacity to work within the sphere of their individual lives to make that happen. It seems to me that is the Issue, how do you translate their subscription of the American dream into action that actually facilitates It in their lives, and it seems to me that`s the crucial gap.
RICHARD NATHAN, Princeton University: I wonder if I could make a comment on this. It seems to me that the condition of the urban class is new and different and very much geographical. It`s a function of areas and cities where all of the problem conditions come up against each other and reinforce problem behavior. The sample for the study which we have been talking about is very small and..
MR. MAC NEIL: It`s only 300.
MR. NATHAN: Three hundred and forty-seven, I think. The evidence from studies that I know about and work that a lot of people are doing in particularly the large cities shows a hopelessness of breaking apart a deeper different social condition that we have to recognize and there is...I`m happy to say... emerging among people who think about what works and how we can bring programs to bear to get at these harder, deeper problems, there is what I think is properly called a new consensus on strategies that involve what you call mutual obligation, that is, we`ll help you but you`ve got to help yourself. We`ll help you get an education but you`ve got to go to school and work In school and have a good attendance record. We`ll help you get off the welfare rolls but you have to get training and you`ve got arrange for and help us arrange for child care that will take care of your children on a good basis. There`s a new bargain, a political bargain being struck to save some of the people in these very deep, dangerous under class areas that are in a sense the residual of success of the American civil rights revolution, and I think we`ve got to face up to the fact that there`s a new and different urban problem condition. We cannot save everybody and solve all these problems but we do know some things about what works and there are some things that we can do and that we are doing, but what I want to urge and the data in the report is suggestive of this, that there`s beer, a change in the last 20 years, a change In social and urban and racial conditions in this country and it`s time for us to see that our social and program agenda changes and reflects what`s happening.
MR. WILLIAMS: Well, Robin, I think...
MR. MAC NEIL: Juan Williams.
JUAN WILLIAMS, Washington Post: There`s no question that the times have changed over the past 20 years, but I think that what we really have to look at is the content of the public discourse that`s going on, and I think when you look at that discourse, you were asking Elaine earlier that where is the stereotype coming from that the poor and the under class in this country really don`t want to help themselves. I think that that has been put abroad really by the Reagan administration in many cases. I think the President with one talking about welfare queens and pink Cadillacs, I think you`ve also had academic works being done. I think Thomas Soul, the academic at the Hoover Institute out in California talked about other ethnic groups, the Asians, the Hispanics coming Into this country and doing much better than blacks and they`re really not taking Into account the peculiar history of slavery and segregation that has been foisted on black Americans and of course you`ve had Charles Murray writing and losing ground about the sort of welfare culture developed that he believed sort of fostered its own problems and deficiencies in black society. And of course then on top of that kind of discourse, you`ve had I remember Pete Hammil writing in Esquire last year a piece about the black middle class and saying the black middle class really isn`t doing enough to help out the poor blacks in this country. Now I think that when you look at that kind of discourse, you`re coming to a point where you`re going to need real change because all the tone hit in that discourse Is blacks are to blame by and large for their problems, blacks are the ones who created this problem. We really settled the issue when we settled the civil rights laws, the voting laws, and then Reagan comes In end says we don`t even need to have guilt about these various issues, we need to stop bussing, we need to stop the affirmative action stuff, we should talk in terms of a color bind America. I think that`s a fallacy. I think we still have a very colorful America and certainly one where the after effects of slavery and segregation are felt. Now what Dr. Nathan was talking about a moment ago I think is really the work fare debate when you talk about welfare, Instead of saying well, it`s Just the welfare queen in the pink Cadillac collecting 20 checks and having 100 kids, you`re saying, well, we want to have work fare. I think that`s a change right hare in `89 with Bush coming in. We`re not so much now stereotyping the under class as people who don`t want to help themselves. We`re starting to understand really that the society still has an obligation to those people.
MS. JONES: And what this study shows is there is a consensus, a 53 percent majority of the American public are now willing to see us move ahead on these issues and do something about this matter of race and poverty in specific areas. Two quick points I`d like to make. One, I mean, anybody who locks at the record over the past eight years knows that that record on civil rights, the administration`s record, has not been a good one. I mean, It just has not been a good one, from Bob Jones and segregated schools all the way through. Now the second point is it`s very important to note, and any fair minded people you talk to would understand that discrimination is alive and well in the United States today. I mean, yes, we have made some progress, but there are real problems out there. Study after study shows you discrimination in housing, even blacks with money can`t move into certain houses and neighborhoods and apartments because of race. And that`s just one example.
MR. WILLIAMS: This Is a key point.
MR. MAC NEIL: Let`s...
MR. WILLIAMS: This is a key point that`s being made here because a moment ago when we were talking about the black middle class and the fact that the black middle class feels a need to steadily turn away from the black poor, I think the implication was really much like what I was suggesting earlier with that Pete Hammil piece in Esquire, why isn`t the black middle class doing more to help the black under class, and I think that what you have to understand and take into account is what Elaine was saying, is that the black middle class is 3till a really insecure group of people. They do not feel secure in their economic status, in their class status so that even when you break it down as a class versus race issue, these people still feel that for any moment they could be snapped back into that under class and they are fighting to protect their own position in this life
MR. MAC NEIL: Let`s hear Mr. Steel`s position on that.
MR. STEELE: Well, I wanted to make a comment about something Mr. Nathan said and then I also would like to say something about the black middle class as well. But it seems to me that what a lot of these comments are revolving around,, what our disagreement may have to with is the issue of how much responsibility blacks have and how much responsibility the larger society has. And it seems to me the best way around that is to admit that we both have areas of responsibility, that probably neither side has been responsible enough in addressing the problem. And in terms of Mr. Nathan`s reference to the kinds of programs that work for the black under class and his sort of illusion to work fare, again, it seems to me that they have to be both hard and soft. They have to encourage and inspire blacks to feel good about themselves and to take initiative but at the same time they have to be, they have to make the point that responsibility ultimately for their own lives rests or. their own shoulders. Quickly, in terms of the black middle class and that issue, it seems to me that the black middle class is often scapegoated when it comes to the racial problems in America, and the irony is, for example, that you rarely hear references to the white middle class being asked to move back to Appalachia so that they car. be role models for poor whites. I very much agree with Juan Williams` statement chat this is a very precarious group of people, very insecure group of people who have pretty much all they can do to remain at the status that they have achieved, and I think that the traffic signals need to be reversed. It should be the other way around. We`re trying to get the poor blacks into the middle class rather than vice versa.
MR. MAC NEIL: Let me ask each of you in the couple of minutes we have remaining starting with you, Mr. Reynolds, what do you think should be the biggest priority for the Bush administration In this area?
MR. REYNOLDS: Well, it`s hard to single out one priority. I indicated earlier that I think the whole question of education is at the core of this set of problems and that there has to be a much more intense effort not just at the federal levels but at all levels to come to grips with the problem that we have in the inner city predominantly of a failure in the education system to provide the kinds of opportunities that will allow those people caught in that environment to get out and to break out, So to me I think that that probably is at the core. I think that the other issues that are piling in on the inner city are terribly difficult ones and this administration`s, this past administration`s civil rights record I think will bear up as being remarkably fine. What we have done and I think the proof of it is we have moved the whole question of discrimination to a point where people I think are much more ready to accept the fact that there are other problems now that have to be dealt with directly in race relations and not simply the discrimination problem, that we`ve gone far down the road to deal with that and the record is very very fine in that regard.
MS. JONES: That`s not so. We`ve spent case after case litigating against you in the Supreme Court over the past eight years when you were trying to turn the record back on civil rights and luckily the court didn`t agree with you. And that`s why we are where we are now,
MR. REYNOLDS: Fortunately when they say It, about 90 to 95 percent of the cases I was involved in over eight years have been on the same side of the LDF/NAACP groups. The other five were in the area of rigid quotas which we did resist and I think that
MS. JONES: I`m very...I`m very sorry....we don`t...
MR. REYNOLDS: ...the country, this study shows that the country agrees with...
MR. MAC NEIL: One at a time. Let Mr. Reynolds finish.
MS. JONES: All right.
MR. REYNOLDS: I was just going to say that the place where we have really been on the other side has been in the area of rigid quotes and the country I think has accepted the idea that affirmative action is appropriate but that It shouldn`t have the negative preference that was a predominant feature of affirmative action In the 1970`s.
MR. MAC NEIL: Ms. Jones.
MS. JONES: I would Just tell Brad and the American public speaks for itself. The issue in case after case, it was not rigid quotas. It was just what the American people have approved, the flexible use of goals and timetables to solve some of these problems. Bob Jones wasn`t a rigid case, the segregation of...
MR. MAC NEIL: Rather than go into that history, Ms. Jones, could you just tell us what the biggest priority for the Bush administration should be in this area?
MS. JONES: I`m glad to have the opportunity. I think that the President- elect has a tremendous opportunity here to exercise some moral and political leadership on this area of race relations. I mean, we can`t have another eight years of ignoring the question. Here there`s a working majority, 53 percent of the American public, saying more needs to be done. That`s a mandate and he can send us signals as to what he Intends to do, He has appointments to make to the Assistant Attorney General in the civil rights division. He has appointments to make such as the head of the women`s division of the Department of Labor, the head of the Office of Civil Rights over in the Department of Education. There are signals that he can send, there`s a moral tone chat he can set and there is political leadership that he can give now on these issues and he has a golden opportunity,
MR. MAC NEIL: Professor Nathan, what dc you think the proprieties.
MR. NATHAN: I would sum up in one phrase what I think Is critical now and that is institutional change, reaching into the toughest problem areas, to the Inner city particularly, and working on the schools and the welfare system. New style work fare programs are showing promise, to do things in the prisons and in corrections, to rehabilitate and to help people, we`ve got to spend more of our effort on changing Institutions and implementing programs we care about. We talk all the time about ideas, but we don`t give enough attention to changing institutions close to the people chat can get at this new, harder stubborn, as I said earlier, under class condition that it seems to me needs to be recognized and highlighted.
MR. MAC NEIL: Juan Williams.
MR. WILLIAMS: Well, I think that the Bush administration can do two things. One is, as you said on Sunday on 60 minutes, the President will be there saying that these civil rights leaders are kind of ginning up old hurts and problems and making a rather good living at doing it. Well, that kind of talk may have some seed of truth to it in terms of the older generation and their preoccupations, but I think what it does by and large is It causes a great deal of alienation and anger, and angry words to coma back at the President from others. The Bush administration, President Bush, himself, has already started to set a different tone. He went to church here in Washington at a black church. He clearly has put some blacks in the cabinet. I think you`re going to see a much different tone there. In terms of the realities though, in terms of what he can actually do to change things, I think that there is a real problem in this society that somehow the administration has not dealt with and that is the resegregation of America. I think the schools that Brad Reynolds spoke about, the inner city schools, those schools are not only resegregated as much so as it was in the fifties In many parts oœ the country, but the black schools are also infinitely inferior. They`re bad schools, and I think that it`s very difficult to get the governments in those cities to really do something about it. Similarly, as Elaine said, housing in this country remains an area of segregation and we as a nation Just seem comfortable with it. You say you don`: have any white friends or you say you don`t have any black friends, you go to parties, you go into law firms, you go into newspapers, people are just saying, well, we couldn`t find any qualified blacks, or I don`t happen to know any whites, I don`t want any whites around here, you know, them, and I think these attitudes are really poisonous and are really coming back on us in a vicious cycle, We see more and more of it on the college campuses in this country. The young people who don`t know about the civil rights movement absolutely have some of the most horrid racial attitudes. You`d think that they were really people back from the fifties, the old red necks, and because they really don`t care about hearing about the problems of blacks and other minorities in the society, so I think that if President Bush is able to do anything it`s that he would be able to use his bully pulpit to somewhat change the public discourse, change the public attitude, as well as to say to the government agencies we in the federal government still have a responsibility to deliver to black America on our promise of Justice and truth.
MR. MAC NEIL: Shelby Steele.
MR. STEELE: Yes. Well, I agree with a lot of what the other panelists have already said and so I won`t repeat It. 1 would just add that I think one of...this may relate to one of the comments that Juan Williams made . . . I think one of the most serious problems in America, and I think this has a good deal to do with campus racism and so forth, is the fact that over the last 30 years certainly race has come to be synonymous with power, It`s become a means of power to different groups, race, ethnicity and sex, and I think that creates a kind of divisiveness, a segregation, the kind of segregation that Juan Williams is talking about, and I certainly would like to see the Bush administration that separate race from power, that make race no: a source of advantage or disadvantage for anyone. I would also like very much to see in conjunction with Elaine Jones, I think President Bush has an opportunity now to really offer genuine leadership, to go directly to black people and convince them that he is concerned with their needs and he Is concerned about them, and then I think he can also make great demands of them, demands that I think they can live up to, but first there must be on the part of the President of the United States a show of concern and of interest.
MR. MAC NEIL: Thank you, Shelby Steele and Elaine Jones in California, William Bradford Reynolds and Juan Williams In Washington, and Richard Nathan in New York, thank you all.
MR. LEHRER: Finally tonight the return of Gergen & Shields, our analysis team of David Gergen and Mark Shields that helped us all understand the 1988 election year. Well, tonight marks a new beginning for them. All else being equal, they will be with us for a once a week look at the new Bush/Quayle administration and other matters of Import. David Gergen is still the former Reagan White House Director of Communications, now Editor at Large of U.S. News & World Report, and Mark Shields is still the former adviser to Democratic candidates, now a Syndicated Political Columnist for the Washington Post.
MR. LEHRER: All right. Let`s talk about George Bush`s cabinet. What does the final make up say about him?
DAVID GERGEN, U.S. News & World Report: Well, I think ha surprised a lot of people. You know, he ran a campaign to return to the old theme, he ran a campaign as a son of Ronald Reagan, as the heir of Ronald Reagan. He`s beginning to govern as the son of Jerry Ford. You know, he`s really made... instead of going as Reagan did to a group of ideologues for his cabinet, he`s turned to a group of insiders. Carter went to a group of outsiders. You know, Bush is very much Inside the beltway. George Bush has reached out to a lot of friends of his, people he has known well over the years, and George Bush has spent much of his time in public life, so he`s reached out to people essentially he`s known in public life and that`s what`s coming, that means it`s going to be a competent cabinet, very managerial, big question, Will it be innovative enough, will it be bold enough to deal with some of the major challenges ahead?
MARK SHIELDS, Washington Post: I think David`s right, Jim. I don`t think...I think George Bush has first of all successfully distanced himself very ably from the campaign he ran. The establishment or tone of that campaign was an aberration that George Bush has...
MR. LEHRER: Now we`re seeing the real George Bush.
MR. SHIELDS: Now that`s with George Bush. I mean, which is the real George Bush7 I guess time will tell and if time doesn`t David will. You resisted it; I couldn`t.
MR. GERGEN: That`s if I can get a word in edgewise.
MR. SHIELDS: I beg your pardon, David.
MR. LEHRER: Yes, Mark.
MR. SHIELDS: I`d Just add the point is that this campaign, this cabinet, reflects George Bush. Ronald Reagan`s cabinet reflected him. People talk about Jim Watt. They talk about Ann Gorsich at the Environmental Protection Agency and Jim Watt at Interior. They reflected Ronald Reagan`s position and stated positions on the environment and on excessive regulation at the time. And George Bush, there is nobody in this cabinet with an agenda of his or her own, a publicly stated agenda with the exception of Jack Kemp, and that`s, I think that`s both a strength and a weakness of the Bush administration.
MR. LEHRER: I was going to ask about that. You say they`re competent and they`re managerial. They may not be innovative. Are they going to be independent, or are they going to be really very much Bush people carrying out a Bush agenda rather than a go down the list agenda?
MR. GERGEN: Well, it much depends, Jim. What you`re going to find in this administration is power flow into the cabinet much more than we saw in the Reagan administration. The White House was a centralized place In the Reagan administration and really controlled and coordinated a great deal of what went on in the cabinet, In this case, you have John Sununu and Brent Scowcroft in the White House who are very strong players. But it`s not clear how the rest of us yet are going to shape up. They`re mostly Junior or less experienced, so I think inevitably in the beginning power is going to flow to the cabinet and that means it`s going to be less coordinated, People are going to be going off on their own. These are problem solving sort of people who are in the cabinet.
MR. LEHRER: And they`re not used to working under people`s thumbs either?
MR. GERGEN: That`s right. They were used to running their own shows. I think it`s going to put a special pressure on George Bush to set the agenda, himself, early and show what his priorities are, and then the White House is going to have a special challenge to coordinate these people. Look at the area of trade. You`ve get Carla Hills who`s going to run it mostly but Clayton Yeutter has a strong interest in the Agriculture Department. Jim Baker Is going to have an interest at stake, Brady at Treasury. There`s going to be a lot of...
MR. LEHRER: And all of them have George 3ush`s ear, as you say, because they`re all friendly with him.
MR. GERGEN: That`s right, and they all have a lot of friends in this town.
MR. LEHRER: What about the way Bush has handled himself beyond the appointments? I was thinking of this in the news conference, he had one yesterday. He seemed so relaxed in all of that. What kind of message Is he sending there, do you think, Mark?
MR. SHIELDS: I think he`s done well and I was talking to a couple of Democrats today who said, look, we believe In the legitimacy of the electoral process. He won, and the American people want him to do well, and I think he understands that and I think he`s taken some sustenance and some confidence from these. He`s a more at peace man than I`ve ever seen him In his public appearances. Now perhaps David saw another George Bush, but I mean, certainly in the campaign of `88.
MR. LEHRER: He`s arrived at where he`s always wanted to be?
MR. GERGEN: I think that`s right. Some of the people who are very close to him told me right after the election they wets surprised at how much more suddenly, how much more relaxed he was. He`s been around power a long time. He`s been around people with power. He`s had the reins of power in his own hands. I think this is all coming very easily. He`s walking into these press conferences with practically no preparation. He`s really gone into winging it because ha feels comfortable enough to do that, and he`s much more accessible as a result, so I think he feels very comfortable with that. It`s not yet clear, Jim, in my Judgment, what he wants to do with the power,
MR. LEHRER: Is there an agenda, is there a Bush agenda yet?
MR. SHIELDS: It`s an agenda that was left for him as part of the Reagan legacy. I mean, it`s, if the first three rules of real estate are location, location, location, the first three rules of the 3ush administration are deficit, deficit, deficit. They`re coming in on the defensive. They`re coming in very limited on what they can do. There Isn`t the discretionary options that we used to have in the budget where someone could come in and say, well, let`s spend a bundle of money and really make a big difference in cities or make a big difference in education. That money isn`t there. Discretionary options and alternatives aren`t there In the budget, So he`s got to do the deficit, and that`s going to be a problem.
MR. GERGEN: And my sense of it he has had a very good transition personally In the sense of not only getting people in place at the top level but he`s also done very well at reaching out In this city. He has reached out to Democrats, as Mark said.
MR. LEHRER: He said good things about the Congress yesterday.
MR. GERGEN: He`s said good things about the Congress. He` s reached out to environmentalists, to blacks, and to others, and I think he has won the support inside the beltway very well, and r think you have to give him a lot of marks for that, high marks for that. I think he`s still slow off the mark in helping to settle an agenda for his administration and trying to bring the rest of the country with him, the people outside the beltway, to mobilize that public support.
MR. LEHRER: Now what kind of thing, now what I do thing.
MR. GERGEN: That`s where we are and I think that`s where we are on the verge of this inauguration.
MR. LEHRER: A lot of folks have been saying, David, a lot of the professional pundits of which two guys are a member of that fraternity are saying go slow, go slow, Mr. Bush, there`s no need to go cut on January 21st, with a major this and a major that and a this and that. What`s your feeling about it?
MR. GERGEN: Well, the Los Angelas Times had a front page story today surveying the scholars and pundits, saying he should go slow in the first 100 days. I happen to think that`s absolutely wrong. I think it`s terribly important, particularly since he`s succeeding the man of his own party, and a very popular President, for George Bush to come out of the chute fast to put his own stamp on the administration to show where he wants to go and to get moving quickly.
MR. LEHRER: Like what? Give me an example.
MR. GERGEN: Well, I think he has to come to terms quickly with where he`s not only going to go on the budget, but what is this kinder, gentler nation agenda all about, is he really going to move on the environment, is he really going to move on education and child care and prenatal care?
MR. LEHRER: They have a Bush program In one of these.
MR. GERGEN: I think he has to begin defining himself very quickly as President, no: just who he is personally, which I think he has done a very good job at, but what ha stands for and to rally people.
MR. SHIELDS: We compare our Presidents to their predecessors, fairly or unfairly. It worked for Ronald Reagan. It worked to his great advantage because he followed a series of failed, flawed, tragically ended Presidencies between 1960 and 1980. Ronald Reagan was our first two term President In 30 years. He was a successful President. He leaves with the good will of the American people, the affection, admiration of many. George Bush has to follow that, He has to define his differences from Ronald Reagan first of all, and secondly, he`s got about 100 days. That`s when we start asking the questions. The first 100 days, what did he do? That Is an automatic question and he`s got to do it. It is tough, but at the end of those 100 days there`s got to be a sense of not what he`s done but at least what he`s about and what he wants to do.
MR. LEHRER: Let`s talk for a minute about Ronald Reagan. He`s going He had his speech this week. It seems that, It seems to be going very quietly for a man who has been as successful as he has been. How do you read this, Mark?
MR. SHIELDS: Gee, I think he`s going out like gangbusters.
MR. LEHRER: Do you really?
MR. SHIELDS: Yeah, I really do, I mean, he`s handled some tough ones for Bush and he`s left him some tough ones, no two ways about it. I don`t mean to say that....the nuclear weapons clean up, which is going be 100 billion dollars, the S&L which is going to be a minimum of 70 billion and the deficit, but I mean he did the PLO thing, he did the Gorbachev thing, he`s been a real help to Bush in that sense, and I Just think that Ronald Reagan is leaving, as I said with real admiration and affection of the American people, I think it`s remarkable,
MR. LEHRER: David.
MR. GERGEN: It`s the first time in thirty years we`ve had a President leave with the circumstances, held as affectionately as he is, a sense of success, he`s completed two terms, and we have to go all the way back to Eisenhower to find this. Yes, he`s left a troubled legacy in some areas, particularly in the economic area, but I think he does leave with an enormous sense of affection from the country. You know, I think there probably were a lot of tears shed on that speech this week.
MR. LEHRER: Do you think It was a good speech?
MR. GERGEN: Well, I thought it was this. It was a speech that looked backwards and in that sense there was something missing. Typically when our Presidents like Eisenhower left he warned us about the military industrial complex and he locked over the horizon. Reagan didn`t.
MR. LEHRER: No fresh ground there.
MR. GERGEN: There was no fresh ground, but: that`s what Reagan is all about after all. He was about calling this back to the ovarities and trying to remind us of that, and I think he left on the notes that he came in on; we ought to remember our past and he seems to be remarkably unconcerned about the future.
MR. SHIELDS: The most attractive lady in 19th century London once had dinner on successive evenings with Gladstone and Disraeli. And she said after dinner with Gladstone that she was convinced that he was the most charming man in all of England, and then having dinner with Disraeli, she was convinced that she was the most charming woman in all of London, and I think that`s what Ronald Reagan does. He tells us how good we are and ha passed out all the credit the other night, and you walked away from it saying, geez, we`re really something. I guess we really ware.
MR. GERGEN: You`ve been doing some reading since the election.
MR. SHIELDS: ...the thing is he never mentioned Central America. I mean, he has a way of walking away from the ...
MR. GERGEN: That`s right.
MR. LEHRER: Good to have you both back and look forward to talking and listening to you every week from now till the end of time.
MR. SHIELDS: That`s scary.
MR. GERGEN: That sure is.
MR. MAC NEIL: Once again the main points in Friday`s news, the Judge in the Iran-Contra trial dropped, key theft and conspiracy charges against Oliver North, The former White House aide still faces 12 other charges in the case, Six people and one company pleaded Innocent to charges in the case, Six people and one company pleaded innocent to charges stemming from the Pentagon procurement scandal and West Germany opened a criminal investigation into allegations that some of Its companies helped Libya build a chemical weapons plant, Good night, Jim.
MR. LEHRER: Good night, Robin. Have a nice weekend. We`ll see you Monday night. I`m Jim Lehrer. Thank you and good night.
The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour
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Examining the state of race relations in the US. A look at the Bush cabinet. The guests this episode are Elaine Jones, Juan Williams, Shelby Steele, William Bradford Reynolds, Richard Nathan, David Gerger, Mark Shields. Byline: Robert MacNeil, Jim Lehrer
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Race and Ethnicity
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Chicago: “The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour,” 1989-01-13, NewsHour Productions, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 11, 2021,
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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