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MR. MacNeil: Good evening. Leading the news this Monday, President Bush gave his staff a lecture on ethics, the Supreme Court struck down a Richmond, Virginia, affirmative action program, at least a thousand people died in a Soviet earthquake. We'll have details in our News Summary in a moment. Jim.
MR. LEHRER: After the News Summary, we look at life ahead for Congress and the Bush administration with the Republican and Democratic leaders of Congress, Senators George Mitchell and Robert Dole, Congressmen Thomas Foley and Robert Michel. Then Lyle Denniston of the Baltimore Sun examines the Supreme Court's affirmative action decision and we close with a Roger Rosenblatt essay about inauguration week in America. NEWS SUMMARY
MR. LEHRER: This was George Bush's first day at the office. The new President began it by meeting with Vice President Dan Quayle. Later in the morning he watched as Quayle officiated at the swearing in of the White House staff in the East Room. Bush then gave his staff a pep talk that included some special words about ethics.
PRESIDENT BUSH: The mission is great but it really has to be accomplished in the finest tradition of our nation, pride, honesty, a spirit of idealism when it comes to public service, knowing that our actions must always be of the highest integrity. It's not really very complicated. It's a question of knowing right from wrong, avoiding conflicts of interest, bending over backwards to see that there's not even aperception of conflict of interest and so I know that we'll all set a high standard in that regard. We've got to try.
MR. LEHRER: Later in the day, Mr. Bush held his first cabinet meeting at the White House. It came as his Budget Chief, Richard Darman, received a unanimous 9 to 0 confirmation vote of the Senate Government Affairs Committee. Mr. Bush declined to answer shouted questions from reporters, saying his new rule against such things at photo opportunities was now in effect. Robin.
MR. MacNeil: President Bush told thousands of abortion opponents today that abortion on demand was an American tragedy. He spoke by telephone hookup to activists gathered near the White House.
PRESIDENT BUSH: I know there are people of good will who disagree, but after years of sober and serious reflection on the issue, this is what I think. I think the Supreme Court's decision in Roe versus Wade was wrong and should be overturned. I think America needs a human life amendment, and I think when it comes to abortion, there's a better way, the way of adoption, the way of life.
MR. MacNeil: The rally and a march to Capitol Hill climaxed a nationwide protest on the sixteenth anniversary of the Roe versus Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. At one point, anti-abortion demonstrators met a pro choice group outside the Offices of Planned Parenthood. They faced each other across the street, each group singing and clapping. At a news conference, Jane Johnson of Planned Parenthood spoke out against reversing the Supreme Court decision.
JANE JOHNSON, Planned Parenthood: Clearly, the persons most damaged would be the persons who are most damaged by any denial of rights in this country, that is, women who are youngest, perhaps blackest and poorest.
MR. LEHRER: The U.S. Supreme Court today struck down a city's affirmative action program on grounds it was unjustified reverse discrimination. The city was Richmond, Virginia. The program required certain percentages of city building contracts go to minority contractors. The 6 to 3 majority said the program was too broad and was not tailored to correct specific past patterns of discrimination. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote the majority opinion. Justice Thurgood Marshall wrote a strong dissent, calling the decision a deliberate and giant step backward in this court's affirmative action juris prudence. We will have more on that decision right after the News Summary.
MR. MacNeil: In Chicago, commodities traders were reported scrambling for lawyers today following disclosure that the FBI was investigating possible massive fraud in the futures markets. As many as a hundred brokers and traders are alleged to have systematically cheated customers out of millions of dollars. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission said today it has worked with the FBI from the beginning of the investigation. The Chicago Mercantile Exchange said its own investigators had been probing the same trading practices.
MR. LEHRER: Several villages in Soviet Central Asia were destroyed by an earthquake. At least one thousand people were killed. The quake's center was near the Afghanistan border 1800 miles Southeast of Moscow. The full magnitude of the quake is not completely known yet. We have a report from Harry Smith of Independent Television News.
HARRY SMITH: The earthquake struck at 5:00 in the morning local time while everyone was still asleep. In the Village of Chirona, at the center of the tremor, a mudslide more than a mile wild swept down the hillside engulfing the 70 houses which stood in its path. Soviet officials say heavy digging equipment was rushed to the areas to join the hundreds of rescuers who poured into Chirona from the surrounding villages and countryside. Together, they've been digging through mud which is 50 feet deep in places, and it's now thought likely that none of the 600 people who lived here have survived. The death toll is estimated at 1400, but in a region where families are large and often live 10 to a house, it could go higher. This is the second serious earthquake to hit the Soviet Union in two months, following the Armenian disaster in which at least 25,000 people lost their lives. The devastated area lies close to the Afghan border in a region which is prone to earthquakes. Officials say many of the buildings are designed to withstand tremors. In Armenia, it was just such buildings which suffered the worst damage.
MR. MacNeil: East Germany's leader, Eric Hoenecke, said today that his country would cut 10,000 men from the armed forces and reduced defense spending by 10 percent by the end of 1990. Hoenecke said the cuts were to give his armed forces "an even more defensive character". Last month, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev announced that 50,000 Soviet troops would leave Eastern Europe within the same two years. The Argentine Army today put down another revolt from within its own ranks. After heavy fighting, loyal troops regained control of Lata Blada Barracks outside Buenos Aires. At least nine people were killed in the fighting with the insurgents who claimed they wanted to stop Marxist subversion of the government.
MR. LEHRER: And back in this country in Miami today, the Hispanic policeman who shot and killed a black motorcyclist last week was arrested and charged with manslaughter. The shooting sparked several days of burning and looting. And that's it for the News Summary. Now it's on to the 101st Congress as seen from the top, the Supreme Court's affirmative action decision and a Roger Rosenblatt essay. FOCUS - LEADERS OF THE 101ST
MR. LEHRER: This is a week of new beginnings for the government of the United States. George Bush went to work today for the first time as President. Tomorrow the House of Representatives convenes for the first serious business of the 101st Congress. The Senate does the same Wednesday. We look ahead at these many and varied relationships with four leaders of the Congress, Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, Democratic of Maine, Senate Minority Leader Robert Dole, Republican of Kansas, who are with us from Capitol Hill, and the House Majority Leader Tom Foley, Democrat of the State of Washington, and House Minority Leader Robert Michel, Republican of Illinois. Sen. Mitchell, what kind of start is George Bush off to as President of the United States?
SEN. MITCHELL: A very good start. He's been forthcoming. He's made a very gracious beginning reaching out to others. I think he's done well.
MR. LEHRER: Sen. Dole, what kind of start?
SEN. DOLE: I think it's an excellent start. I think everyone agrees that George Bush knows this town, he knows the Congress, he's touched the right buttons. He's off to a good start.
MR. LEHRER: Congressman Michel.
REP. ROBERT MICHEL, [R] Illinois: Well, I'd certainly have to agree and for those of us who've known him for a good man years, it's no surprise, because he just has that natural kind of gift to express himself very openly and candidly, and I think we're all going to be very happy with the Presidency of George Bush.
MR. LEHRER: Congressman Foley, what about his start?
REP. THOMAS FOLEY, [D] Washington: Well, I think he's made a good start, an excellent start. His statements since the election have been very positive and forthcoming, cooperative, conciliatory. His appointments have had very wide approval. There will be disagreements, of course. I think we ought to recognize that there will not be complete unanimity on issues with the Congress, but he set the right mood and he's begun his task as President in a sound way.
MR. LEHRER: Robin's going to talk to you all in a few minutes about some specifics, but on the general thing of disagreements, Congressman Foley, the President said in his inaugural address and he turned to you all and said, "The people did not send us here to bicker.". Do you agree with that?
REP. FOLEY: Well not to bicker. I think they did send us to the Congress and him to the Presidency to do our best to seek out solutions to the problems that face the country and there are obviously going to be some disagreements. That's why we have two branches of government rather than one, but that doesn't mean that we'll have bickering and endless argument and politically motivated dissent. There will be disagreements but I think they'll be worked out in a constructive spirit.
MR. LEHRER: Sen. Dole, when the President says bipartisanship - - I'm sorry, do you hear me all right?
SEN. DOLE: Yes. Fine.
MR. LEHRER: When he uses the term bipartisanship, what does it mean to you?
SEN. ROBERT DOLE, [R] Kansas: [Capitol Hill] Well, I think it means we're going to have our differences, but it means in the final analysis we can sit down, maybe take a day, maybe an hour, or maybe a long time, and hammer out some compromise. That's what it means to me. It means he gives some and means we give some.
MR. LEHRER: George Will among others, the Columnist George Will among others have said that bickering in public is exactly what the American people want, that's why they elected a Republican President and a Democratic majority Congress. How do you feel about that, Sen. Mitchell?
SEN. GEORGE MITCHELL, [D] Maine: [Capitol Hill] Well, the fact of the matter is that differences between the President and the Congress are not limited to those situations when there are different parties. It's built into the system. The men who wrote the constitution had as their central objective a prevention of tyranny in America and they succeeded brilliantly. George Bush is our 41st President. We've had no kings. So differences are built into the system and we're not going to agree, and it is an independent legislative branch of government that distinguishes democracy from other forms of government. All others have a strong executive, we've got a strong legislative, so we will obviously disagree, but bipartisanship means I think as Sen. Dole said you work together to work it out, getting both points across.
MR. LEHRER: But, Sen. Mitchell, has President Bush pretty much put the heat on you all to agree by making such a public thing? Are you going to look like you bicker even when you are disagreeing in a responsible way?
SEN. MITCHELL: Well, I hope not. We're going to disagree responsibly when we don't share his views and we'll propose constructive alternatives, but we're not going to be deterred from participating as a full and equal partner in government because someone might say, there they go again bickering.
MR. LEHRER: Sen. Dole, when does honest disagreement over -- well the President said it today in his talking to the abortion folks - - where there is honest disagreement -- when does honest disagreement become bickering?
SEN. DOLE: Well, I'm not certain it is bickering. You know, I don't disagree with Sen. Mitchell and the others, nor do I disagree with George Bush. If we're just bickering around for political purposes and delaying and stalling, I'm not so certain the American people want that, but we do have different points of view. Even sometimes Republicans may disagree, so we'll have our fundamental agreements and fundamental differences. Some we'll be able to reconcile in a bipartisan way. Others we'll have to vote up or down, the President might have to use a veto, but I do think George Bush certainly understands that. He held out his hand to the Majority Leader, to the Speaker, to the rest of us in Congress, and we want to meet him halfway or even more.
MR. LEHRER: Congressman Michel, do you believe that the President has the upper hand in this right now, that he goes in there, a new President, he's talking about bipartisanship, that he's got a little bit of the heat on the Foleys and the Mitchells right now, the upper hand?
REP. ROBERT MICHEL, [R] Illinois: He's a very popularly elected President, got a big majority in the electoral college vote, but you know the way I would come at this, Jim, is that bipartisanship doesn't mean non-partisanship. Tom Foley and I have got to go at it hammer and tongs from time to time, you know, to really get the legislative anvil working the way it ought to. The same thing with Bob Dole and George Mitchell. They've got to be adversaries in the political process in our respective houses. I think from time to time we've had so much adversarial relationship between the White House and the Congress, maybe more in foreign affairs than we would have liked to have had over the last several years, I noticed in that area particularly the President made the point about working together, you know, partisanship stops at the water's edge.
MR. LEHRER: Do you as the Republican leader in the House see your main responsibility now to support the President's program, a Republican President's program?
REP. MICHEL: Well, I think so. I'm his leader. I mean, he was elected by all of the people. I was just elected by a narrow constituency out there in Illinois. Now, I've got to look at my flanks too at home, can't get too far afield of what the folks back home sent me here to do primarily for them, but I think over a period of years those of who have been in elected and leadership positions have been able to harmonize those views. Yes, my role is to be the President's point man in the House because if I can't take that heat, you know, if I can't take that role and responsibility, I'm going to let somebody else take on the mantel.
MR. LEHRER: Sen. Dole, do you see your job the same in the Senate?
SEN. DOLE: I think pretty much the same. There may be areas where we'll have disagreements, and hopefully on the facts, or on the merits, and we'll discuss those with President Bush. And in care cases, I don't know of any or I don't anticipate any, but if they did have an issue where I couldn't agree with the President, then I would let somebody else handle that particular issue. My role is up here, doing what I can to move the Republican agenda. The President's agenda is the Republican agenda. In fact, I'll be introducing bills this Wednesday which will in part reflect some of George Bush's ideas for the future, so we've already started doing what we can to help push the Bush agenda.
MR. LEHRER: Congressman Foley, is there going to be a Democratic agenda to compete with the Republican agenda?
REP. THOMAS FOLEY, [D] Washington: Well, I think first of all that we think that courtesy and tradition and comity between the two branches should give the President an opportunity to put his own program through at least to the Congress, present it to the Congress first. So we expect and we've been told to expect that by around the middle of February the specifics of the President's budget will be laid before both the Senate and the House and we'll have a chance to see the broad outlines of President Bush's program. Now that doesn't mean that if the President doesn't move in a direction that we think is important for the country, we'll sit and wait forever, but we do think that he ought to have an opportunity to present his views. He did say in the campaign that he wanted to be considered the education President, that he wanted to take some action on child care, that he felt there were problems with the homeless, that he thought we ought to continue to fight drug abuse, and these things and others that he's mentioned have strong support in the Congress in both parties. We'll be anxious to work out cooperative programs with him.
MR. LEHRER: Sen. Mitchell, do you see your role as primarily a reactor to the President rather an innovator of the program?
SEN. GEORGE MITCHELL, [D] Maine: No, I do not see my role primarily as a reactor to the President. I believe that the Congress in our system is a coequal branch of government and I believe that we ought to act on our own to deal with those problems that require action. Now that does not mean, of course, trying to preempt the President or not working with him. As Congressman Foley has just said, we agree with many of the issue areas that the Vice President or the President now has indicated that he wants to address. So what I look forward to is our identifying, establishing and moving toward our agenda and meshing it with that of the administration.
MR. LEHRER: Are you actively doing that now, Sen. Mitchell?
MR. LEHRER: Are you Democrats in the Senate working on an agenda, working on a program that could be identified as a Democratic program?
SEN. MITCHELL: Yes, we are. We've established a process by which our policy committee is reviewing all possible options, those areas which require action, and we intend to move forward on that agenda. Now I might say I think it many respects it will be identical to or overlap substantially with that of the President and Sen. Dole's agenda, so we're going to move forward hopefully and cooperatively in many areas, and where we disagree, we'll present the case, do the best we can, take a vote and then move on to the next issue.
MR. LEHRER: Sen. Dole --
SEN. DOLE: Could I just add one --
SEN. DOLE: There may be areas where we'll have a bipartisan agreement in the Congress that we'll want to take to the President and say, you know, we've worked this out on a bipartisan basis. Maybe it's campaign finance reform, maybe it's something else, so it'll be a question of us going to the President and asking for his support instead of maybe him coming to us, so it'll work both ways.
MR. LEHRER: Sen. Dole, have you and Sen. Mitchell worked out a relationship?
SEN. DOLE: Oh, we have a good relationship. We've known each other for a long time. We've worked very closely together. So far he's done everything right.
MR. LEHRER: What's your view of that, Sen. Mitchell?
SEN. DOLE: That he's done everything right.
MR. LEHRER: No. I mean, do you feel, is there a Senate presence here, is that what you're saying, Sen. Dole, also, that the President beyond partisan considerations is going to have to deal with the Senate as a united front on some things as well, and you're prepared to work with Sen. Mitchell on that?
SEN. DOLE: Not just the Senate but the House as well. I think Tom Foley and Bob Michel and Speaker Wright, they may be working out some programs where they want the President's support. We are a coequal branch. Obviously, Republican leaders have more responsibility to the President but we have some ideas of our own that we would like to try trot by the President from time to time.
MR. LEHRER: Congressman Michel, you in the past have complained publicly about the way you have been treated by Congressman Foley, Speaker Wright and your Democratic majority? You don't expect any change there. Do you expect to continue to be mistreated?
REP. ROBERT MICHEL, [R] Illinois: Oh, they have their partisan role to fill. We don't like to be considered just dangling participles out there and inconsequential to the process. I think that in the last Congress, particularly in the last session, there were occasions when we were working together in a bipartisan way on the drug bill, on several of the significant pieces of legislation, welfare reform, and when we get an opportunity to offer amendments and give everybody a little piece of the action that they're really playing some meaningful role, then I have no problem with the partisan arguments that take place. That's the place to make them, on the floor of the Congress.
MR. LEHRER: Congressman Foley, when you talk to Congressman Michel, do you feel that you're talking to a fellow member of Congress, or a spokesman for the Republican White House?
REP. FOLEY: I feel I'm talking to a fellow member of Congress who is a leader of the Republican members of the House who has a special role and special responsibility in that regard, and as Sen. Dole said, a special relationship to the President. But I feel that first of all Bob Michel is a Republican member of the House of Representatives and that's where he, who he speaks for. They in turn have a special relationship with the President because he's of their party, but I think over the time that I've been Majority Leader and Bob Michel, of course, has been Minority Leader, we've had good communication. We haven't always agreed but we have tried I think between the two of us to see whatever difficulties might arise in a procedural way and try to deal with them. I think the majority always has to be careful that it recognizes the rights of the minority. At the same time, we have the responsibility for setting the agenda and proceeding as a majority with the business of the House. I hope that we can even improve on that relationship in this Congress.
MR. LEHRER: But nothing essentially has changed. In other words, if Congressman Michel did not like the way the 100th Congress operated, the 101st is going to operate the same way, right?
REP. FOLEY: Well, I just heard him say that he liked some of the way --
MR. LEHRER: No, but I said if, I said what he didn't like before --
REP. FOLEY: I think anything that Bob Michel wants to discuss about the procedure of the House we want to discuss with him.
MR. LEHRER: Sen. Dole, do you consider Sen. Mitchell more partisan than. Sen. Byrd was, his predecessor, and because he's more vocal and he's more public, he's going to be a harder person to handle than Sen. Byrd was?
SEN. DOLE: Well, I don't think Sen. Byrd was hard to handle. We're good friends and I think that you develop a friendship. We really don't know. Obviously from time to time Sen. Mitchell is going to have take a different position. They're going to have, they have 55 members, we have 45 Republicans, so they have more votes and he may have a Democratic position that he wants to present to the Senate, and it may be something that we disagree with totally but so far, as I've said, and I've said it sincerely, George Mitchell has done an outstanding job. But I think new leaders are like new Presidents. There is sort of a honeymoon period and that will come to an end sometime. I don't know when, hopefully it'll be a long time from now, but I think we'll get along very well. We'll have our differences, but they'll be right up front, no surprises, no tricks, and that's the way we have to run the Senate for the people.
MR. LEHRER: Sen. Mitchell, are you at ease dealing with Sen. Dole in his double capacity as a point man for the President and also as a leader of the Republicans in the Senate?
SEN. MITCHELL: Yes, I am. First on a personal level, as Sen. Dole indicated, we've worked together for many years. He was Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee for several years and I'm a member of that committee and worked very closely with him during that time. And secondly, ours is a system which requires at the same time competition and cooperation. There's nothing unique about that. The American system is premised on the belief that we can operate our public affairs in that manner. The entire American system, economic and political, is based upon the belief that competition is a healthy thing, that out of the diversity of ideas and out of the clash of opinion, you get those policies that are in the best interest of the nation, so we know how to work together, be friends and compete vigorously. It's ingrained in American political leaders, as it should be, and it's best for the country.
MR. LEHRER: But too much peace and quiet is not good, right?
SEN. MITCHELL: Well, take your time. There will be plenty of time for that.
MR. LEHRER: Okay. All right, thank you. Robin.
MR. MacNeil: Yes. Let's talk some specifics. Most people seem to regard the real and immediate test of the new Presidency and the relations of the Congress as how you deal with the deficit. Sen. Mitchell, what are the prospects for an early deal on the deficit?
SEN. MITCHELL: Well, I hope very much that we will reach agreement. I don't know how early or late because it's a complex matter requiring careful consideration in a way that's best for the country. We await with interest and enthusiasm the budget proposals which President Bush has indicated he will make in February. When we receive those, we'll review them, look them over, Sen. Dole and his colleagues will do the same thing, our budget committees will have to look at them carefully and then we'll respond. Then I hope we can reach an agreement.
MR. MacNeil: Sen. Dole, President Bush tells Newsweek Magazine he'd like to have the first hundred days marked by major strides towards getting a grip with Congress on the deficit. Is 100 days realistic, do you think? Are you telling him 100 days is realistic to make some progress?
SEN. DOLE: I don't know whether you say 100 days or 110 or maybe even longer, maybe shorter, but I know on this past Saturday the day after the swearing in, I received a letter from President Bush indicating his first order of business would be a meeting tomorrow morning where Sen. Mitchell, myself, Tom Foley, Speaker Wright and Bob Michel will visit with the President about the deficit. Now that tells me something. It tells me that George Bush is moving the deficit right up front, his No. 1 priority, and if he continues in that way and we can find some common ground, we could do it in 100 days.
MR. MacNeil: Congressman Foley, what has to happen to get a deal on the deficit?
REP. FOLEY: Well, I think there has to be first of all expression by the President of what he recommends. By courtesy and tradition we expect the President would be given an opportunity to set his budget priorities and his method of reaching the budget deficit goals. After that happens, as indicated by Sen. Mitchell, about the middle of February, we assume that there's going to be some means of discussion of alternatives or agreements with the administration probably through the budget committees I would imagine, the House and Senate Budget Committees, that have the responsibility for framing a budget agreement.
MR. MacNeil: May I interrupt for a moment, just ask you, what will you be looking for as a signal in that first proposal that will indicate to you that he is on a realistic wave length in looking for a deal with this Congress?
REP. FOLEY: Well, I think first of all would be a certain degree of specificity. I think we have to see in some detail, not 2000 pages of recapitulating the entire budget document, but in some detail what he proposes in the way of meeting the so called flexible free proposal, how he intends to do that, what programs he intends to cut, what to increase, what to keep the same. He's said again and again that he doesn't favor revenues but he has in the past indicated I think the possibility of user fees or asset sales. Many of us think that it's going to be extremely difficult to reach the Gramm-Rudman target of $100 billion this next budget year without some revenues as well as some cuts in spending. And we think a combination of the two is probably needed, but that's not clear yet exactly how the administration will respond to that, and I think it will probably take more than 100 days. I think we will probably be at this for some months. At the end of the line, in late summer and early fall is the possible occurrence of a sequestration under Gramm-Rudman, where if we can't reach any other agreement with the administration, we'd have an across the board cut.
MR. MacNeil: Congressman Michel, do you see an agreement before that happens?
REP. MICHEL: Well, first of all, we're going to be looking forward to the President's addressing a joint session of Congress on February 9th. I think that will -- he says he's going to be dealing in specifics on that occasion and that will lay out for us then some real guide posts as to where he differs from the Reagan budget that was presented, what some of the alternatives might be, and then too let's face it, when we get into September or so, the debt ceiling will probably have to be raised. Actually revenues now are coming in better than we had expected so we don't have that decision to make until then, but that will definitely force something on the Congress whether we like it or not.
MR. MacNeil: Sen. Mitchell, from the signals the administration has been sending so far, for instance, the testimony by the Budget Director, Mr. Darman, are you getting the idea that there is the kind of flexibility there that will make an early agreement possible?
SEN. MITCHELL: I don't think that there are sufficient signals one way or the other to make that kind of judgment and I don't think we'll know that on that basis of signals but rather on the basis of the budget proposal that the President submits. I think that when we get that budget proposal, then I think we'll have some indication, some idea what he intends to do obviously clearly from his budget proposal and whether or not any agreement is possible.
MR. MacNeil: But is that right, Sen. Dole, are you two really in ignorance of what the realistic parameters of this? I mean, have you not got enough signals or vibrations or readings of tea leaves to know?
SEN. DOLE: I think we've had some signals. You go back to the campaign. President Bush, then Candidate Bush, indicated he wanted to do more for the homeless. He wants to do more for infants and children as far as medical care. He'd like to do more in education, so we've gotten a number of indications, and the list is longer than that, of areas where he would like to at least reorder some priorities and do a bit more. Now to do that he's going to offset that with maybe some defense cuts and there's some indication that that perhaps that might be a possibility, but we don't have, as Sen. Mitchell pointed out, we don't have the blueprint, we don't have the modifications to the Reagan budget. We should learn a lot from President Bush on the 9th of February. We may learn a great deal tomorrow in our discussions tomorrow morning. But we don't have any specifics and I think as Tom Foley indicated, we're going to need some specificity before very long, but I hope we can do all this before August or September.
MR. MacNeil: How do you all feel in your bones, your very experienced political bones about this? Starting with you, Congressman Foley, is the deficit of such urging compelling nature that given the nature of George Bush, knowing the Congress as he does and being part of Washington and all your interests, that you're going to work something out without an awful lot of political blood on the floor? What's your hunch about that?
REP. FOLEY: Well, as I said earlier, I think he said a mood for cooperation and a good spirit of mutual respect in trying to reaching the budget compromise that we all would like to see. I hope we'll be able to do that. I guess my instinct would be to say I think we will, but I think one way or the other we're going to reach the deficit levels of the Gramm-Rudman bill. If we can't do it by agreement, cooperation, a compromise, I hope we can, I think we'll wind up with a sequestration which will do it by automatic spending cuts. That's not the best way. It may be the worst way, but it'll happen one way or the other. My guess would be we won't have a sequestration; we'll work it out before that.
MR. MacNeil: Any other, want to comment on that, Congressman Michel?
REP. MICHEL: I happen to think that the President has set a different kind of tone from his predecessor. Where President Reagan was so strong on defense, that doesn't mean that George Bush isn't just as strong, but he's given indication that these other things with respect to the more social welfare needs of the country will be paramount to him as much maybe as the defense of the country. And when you set that tone and it has a good ring with the members of the opposition party then I think you've started, you're ahead in the race to begin with.
MR. MacNeil: Do you agree with that, Sen. Mitchell?
SEN. MITCHELL: I think we'll have an agreement because the person who most needs an agreement is the President. In the minds of the American public, the office of the Presidency and the President, himself, a single person, are fused. They think of him as one and how important he does in this period is going to be very important to continue this good attitude. From the standpoint of the Congress for 200 years, people have regarded Congress relatively lowly as an institution even though they like their individual Congressmen so Congress can take a period of debilitation without any severe adverse effects on the individual. I don't think a President can and I think Mr. Bush very wisely recognizes that he's setting a good tone, it's in his interest to get an agreement. He for political reasons very much needs an agreement. I think the country needs one for substantive reasons and we want one so I think we're going to get one.
MR. MacNeil: Do you agree with that, Sen. Dole?
SEN. DOLE: Yes, to a certain extent. My view is that we're both sort of on trial here. I mean, the American people, we've gone through an election. All of us or some of us have been reelected, the President was elected. The American people, going back to what George Bush said, don't want us to bicker, but Sen. Mitchell is right. We're not viewed to the same degree of favor as the Presidency, but my view is the people expect us to do something. George Bush I think has enough flexibility. I think he is a pragmatist in a certain sense, still conservative, but pragmatic, and if he is willing to bend some, he'll find many members of Congress who will try to make, come together on some package that will deal with the deficit, stimulate more business activity, more revenues, all those things that would come from dealing with the deficit as early as possible.
MR. MacNeil: Let's switch to foreign affairs for a minute. Congressman Foley, an issue we've talked with you about and many others during the last several Congresses, Central America, particularly the aid to the Contras, how is Mr. Bush going to get a bipartisan foreign policy where partisan politics stop at the water's edge or at the border if he persists in saying he wants to continue to support the Contras when the Democratic majorities enhanced now in the Congress have repeatedly voted against that?
REP. FOLEY: First, I think I'd point out that there has been a very large degree of bipartisan support in foreign policy. The two exceptions that I see in political foreign policy in particular are Nicaragua and Central America and the sanctions issue with South Africa. The earliest indications we've had from this administration is that it's going to step back and take another look at the aid to the Contras issue and try to avoid an immediate confrontation with the Congress over particularly a restoration of military aid. A proposal to do that would spark I think some very dramatic resistance in the Congress and a major perhaps confrontation. I think the administration is going to try to avoid that. I don't know what proposals they are going to advance, but I think they're going to at least try to modify the very sharp disagreement over this issue.
MR. MacNeil: Do you see it that way, Congressman Michel?
REP. MICHEL: Well, first of all, I don't look at the Nicaraguan situation as being one that can be handled within such a very short range period of time. Now if we take the Bush administration of four years, and I think we ought to step back and have a plan that runs for a period of several years probably if that's what it takes, but to have a game plan with certain target dates and goals which we hadn't had before, and that's why I think this became such a contentious issue back and forth with no real clear sense of direction that here was our goal, here was where we were headed for and we instead to get there by these steps. I think that's what we ought to do as an administration and clearly lay that out very clearly for the American people to understand because we get moved by what the American people accept as a good or bad policy.
MR. MacNeil: On another foreign policy issue, Sen. Mitchell, are the Democrats in the Senate in sympathy with what the administration is emphasizing it wants, a prudent reassessment, to use the President's words, of the progress made with the Soviet Union in all areas, including arms control, or are any of you worried that the momentum President Reagan created will be lost?
REP. MICHEL: Well, I cannot speak for individual Democrats in that regard, but I believe that the policy that appears to be developing is a sound and a wise one and does require a reassessment as do all policies of the prior administration. I strongly supported President Reagan's proposed treaty, the INF Treaty, which we ratified in the Congress. I think what's occurred in the Soviet Union is of momentous significance and seizing that opportunity will be one of the most far reaching and I think long lasting things that President Bush will do in his term of office, but I don't disagree at all or quarrel with a careful and cautious reassessment. I believe strongly, and I agree with the administration in this regard that what is occurring in the Soviet Union is occurring out of necessity. The central economic lesson of the twentieth century is that communism is a failure as a system of economic organization. They have to change because they cannot survive as a world power if they don't change, and we must always bear that in mind with our dealings with them. It doesn't mean we aren't forthcoming, it doesn't mean that we don't cooperate where it's in our interest, but we always keep in mind that they are acting out of self-interest, as we should.
MR. MacNeil: Sen. Dole, why is a reassessment necessary by the President, who's just been the Vice President, working with President Reagan who's being applauded by the world for having made this very very positive state of affairs with the Soviet Union?
SEN. DOLE: Well, I haven't heard anybody define reassessment. It could be, you know, a very deep reassessment. It could be something else. But I do believe we have a new Secretary of State, we're going to have a new Secretary of Defense, we have new ambassadors out there, new people out there, maybe some new negotiators. So I think it's our interest, as Sen. Mitchell has indicated, we don't do anything with the Russians that are not in our interest, our nation's interest, and I think it would serve George Bush well to sort of back off, take a look at it, even though he was in on many of the plans that were made under the Reagan administration. It's now his Presidency, his leadership and in my view, he'll come out better equipped to deal with the Soviets if he has a period of reassessment.
MR. MacNeil: Well, Sen. Dole and Mitchell, Congressmen Foley and Michel, thank you all four for joining us. Jim.
MR. LEHRER: Still to come on the Newshour tonight, today's affirmative action decision and a Roger Rosenblatt essay. FOCUS - QUESTIONABLE QUOTAS
MR. LEHRER: The U.S. Supreme Court threw out a Richmond, Virginia, affirmative action program today. Judy Woodruff and Lyle Denniston will now collaborate on explaining the decision and what it may mean. Judy.
MS. WOODRUFF: By a six to three vote today the nation's highest court invalidated a plan by the City of Richmond to earmark a portion of its construction contracts for minority owned businesses. The Justices ruled that the plan unconstitutionally discriminated against whites. The decision could have a major impact on states and hundreds of other cities that have instituted similar programs. Justice Thurgood Marshall, the court's only black member, wrote in a harsh dissent that the ruling marks a deliberate and giant step backward. Joining us now to discuss the ruling and it's possible impact is Lyle Denniston, Supreme Court Reporter for the Baltimore Sun.
MS. WOODRUFF: Lyle, exactly what did the Richmond plan provide for?
LYLE DENNISTON, Baltimore Sun: It provided that for all city contracts, for public works and other purchases by the city, that 30 percent of the total dollar amount had to be set aside for subcontracting by minority owned businesses, businesses owned by black, orientals, Aliutes, Indians, but mostly it was focused on providing some public business for minority black owned firms.
MS. WOODRUFF: And what is it that the majority of the court said is wrong with, found wrong with that?
MR. DENNISTON: That that plan had not been justified as necessary as a remedy for past discrimination because the City of Richmond had not come forward with hard, solid, specific proof that there was discrimination against minority firms in the contracting industry in Richmond, itself.
MS. WOODRUFF: So the court wasn't saying that there had not been discrimination. Was it simply saying that the discrimination had not been proven?
MR. DENNISTON: The key to this decision was that you must come up with hard specific proof of intentional discrimination before you can then reach for this race conscious memory, that is, using race as a preferential or quota assignment to minority firms.
MS. WOODRUFF: Now this plan had been in effect, I understand, in Richmond, since 1983. How significant, how important is this Supreme Court ruling?
MR. DENNISTON: Well, I think, Judy, it's not saying too much that this is the most important affirmative action decision we've ever had not simply because of what they said on Richmond, not simply because of what they said to discourage really affirmative action plans of state and local government, but because this is the first time in 11 years of trying that the Supreme Court has been able to put together a majority to lay down the standard by which affirmative action plans imposed or initiated by government are going to be measured. That they had not been able to do and they did so today. And it makes it quite clear that the use of affirmative action plans is going to be much harder to justify at all levels of government but particularly state and local government levels.
MS. WOODRUFF: What is that standard? Is it the proof that you were just referring to?
MR. DENNISTON: Yeah. It's what called strict scrutiny by lawyers, but what that means is that you have to prove that selecting someone for public benefits according to their race is absolutely necessary and you can only show that it's necessary if you come up with hard specific proof against acts of discrimination against people of that race or that ethnic minority.
MS. WOODRUFF: Well, now how is this going to affect other states? I understand most states have plans that are similar to this in some way, that many many cities, I read over 190 cities, have plans that are similar. Are those plans truly close enough to this one to be in jeopardy?
MR. DENNISTON: I think what happens in each one of these cases, if someone wants to challenge them, let's say a white owned business, wants to challenge any one of the plans in I think it's 36 states and about 190 municipalities, then what would happen is that each one of those states or cities would have to come forward, may be holding new hearings but come forward with proof that we've really had to use this remedy. And remember, Judy, the court made very clear that this was a last resort remedy. This is not something you reach for as the first possible remedy for past discrimination. You're supposed to try other remedies first that are not based on race.
MS. WOODRUFF: Before you go the set aside.
MR. DENNISTON: Before you go this one, so each one of these jurisdictions, if challenged, is going to have to go into court and say this is chapter and verse of or history of discrimination either by the government, itself, or by private industry, and we've tried everything of a race neutral character, none of that has worked, so now we have got to go to an affirmative action or quota system.
MS. WOODRUFF: So now what's the thinking, is it widely expected now that many of these plans may be challenged?
MR. DENNISTON: I think a lot of these plans are probably going to fall under this decision because the standard of proof is really very hard to meet. In fact, Justice Marshall in his dissent said the decision today requires the cities to reinvent the evidentiary wheel, by which he means it's going to be very hard today to come up with the kind of proof that the court today said you must have.
MS. WOODRUFF: And the practical effect then would be what, that a lot of, that many of these cities that now say a certain percentage of business has to go to minority firms will not require any percentage, is that the potential?
MR. DENNISTON: I think that's the first possible result of this, that they can no longer set aside a fixed percentage of their purchases for minority owned firms. The second thing then is can they do something else, can they pass a law for example which says that it's illegal to discriminate on the basis of race in handing out public works or other city purchases. Then the next thing they can do, and this would have the court's blessing as well, is to go to some form of subsidy or some kind of training perhaps that would allow minority owned firms to become more qualified and, therefore, better able to compete, so there is about a three step process that the states and the cities can go through to try to continue to reach out to assist minority businesses in getting a piece of this public spending.
MS. WOODRUFF: What about the court, itself, what does this say in your view about the court's position on affirmative action overall?
MR. DENNISTON: Well, it's interesting. I think now that we're just a few days after the Reagan administration, I think that what this means is that President Reagan finally got his anti quota majority on the court, because the core of this decision is really supported by only five rather than six Justices because Justice Stevens didn't go along with some of the rationale, and those five Justices are the most conservative members of the court, and we now have I think pretty well established a strong, perhaps one of them I'd even say rigid anti quota court which President Reagan and the Justice Department tried for eight years to get and failed until even now to do it.
MS. WOODRUFF: And what does that say about other kinds of affirmative action cases which are certain to come to before this court?
MR. DENNISTON: Well, one of the things that it doesn't say that we don't know about is that we don't know what this means for sex discrimination. The court didn't discuss that today and there, of course, is wide use of affirmative action to try to remedy past discrimination against women, but I think it does say that the court is going to be more suspicious, if you will, about the use of race as a remedial factor in our society generally. I think we have really turned a historic corner today, Judy, and it's probably a corner that we won't turn in a different direction and go back until there are new Justices on the court.
MS. WOODRUFF: Well, Lyle Denniston, once again, we thank you for being with us.
MR. DENNISTON: Thank you for having me. ESSAY - ONE MORE TRY
MR. MacNeil: Next tonight our regular essayist, Roger Rosenblatt, has some thoughts on the week of the inauguration.
ROGER ROSENBLATT: If the holidays honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., and the inauguration of George Bush were the bookends of last week, the text was civil riots. The two day rioting in Miami, which began when a white police officer shot an unarmed black man recalled the city burning of the 1960s, a sign that America's race problems remain as hot as ever. In Boston, all four black members of the school committee voted against a plan to end bussing. Georgetown University Basketball Coach John Thompson decided to boycott a game in protest against the NCAA's Proposition 42. Proposition 42 would deny college scholarships for athletes failing to achieve a combined score of 700 on the SAT's. It set off a national debate on whether the proposition discriminates against black students in particular. A report was released showing that the number of black males entering college has declined alarmingly since the 1970s. The movie Mississippi Burning has created turmoil in Philadelphia, Mississippi, which was the actual scene of the 1964 civil rights murders depicted in the film. Thus did the issue of race relations attend the inaugural. Early in the week Mr. Bush made a vow --
PRESIDENT BUSH: -- that bigotry and indifference to disadvantage will find no safe home on our shores, in our public life, in our neighborhoods, or in our home.
ROGER ROSENBLATT: His line on these matters has generally been clear. He has made speeches opposed to bigotry, lent his influence behind the scenes to prevent the disregarding of affirmative action goals and as a House member, voted for some civil rights legislation. Contradictorily, Mr. Bush opposed the 1964 Civil Rights Act, supported President Reagan's 1988 veto of civil rights legislation, and opposed sanctions against South Africa. None of that history necessarily imputes insincerity to Bush's professed zeal for civil rights, but his statements tend to focus on bigotry and bigotry in these complicated days is almost a quaint evil. As the events in the past week have demonstrated, the race problem in America is much wider and more various than it used to be. The Miami riots may be as much the result of resentment between blacks and Hispanic immigrants as the protest against the police. Asians too find themselves among the hated because of their rapid rise in the culture. On Tuesday, in an incident attributed to racism, a man dressed in combat fatigues killed five children in a school in Stockton, California, predominantly composed of Southeast Asians. The problem reaches deep into the economy. The gap between black and white median incomes is wider than it was in the late 1970s. The poverty rate for many minorities is three times that of whites. In 1985, nearly half of all black and Hispanic children were growing up poor. Education, drugs, teenage pregnancies, the distribution of medical care, all are folded into what once seemed a clear cut issue of we shall overcome. To overcome today's race problem, the new administration will need to broaden its attacks to more than bigots. Last week too the black poet and teacher Sterling Brown died at the age of 87. Brown grew up in a country in which black students, if they wanted to get ahead, were told to know their proper place. The poet made his proper place which was a position of strength, resistance and indefatigable courage. A poem to black heroes praises them for bequeathing that which we need. Now in our time of fear routed your own deep misery and death, muttering beneath an unfriendly sky, guess we'll give it one more try, guess we'll give it one more try. FINALLY - REMEMBERING DALI
MR. LEHRER: Finally tonight a last look at Salavdor Dali, the flamboyant Spanish artist who died today at the age of 84. He was an important artist who was known as much for his showboating as his art. Here's an excerpt from Culture International's recent home videocassette release, The Definitive Dali.
SALVADOR DALI: I enjoy tremendously every single moment of my life because death all the time is very close watching me and death would like to catch me. And every five minutes that death no catches me, I enjoy tremendously. That's a little piece of Vichy water. You sent me a little tea or something -- everything becomes one tremendous pleasure because death surrounds me and because death is so close it's possible to make erotic every single piece of my life.
SPOKESMAN: In the 1920s, Paris was the cultural center of the world. It was dominated by the surrealist movement which Dali had heard so much about in Spain. Figures like Marcell DuChamps and Man Rae were dedicated to the pursuit of the irrational and the exploration of the subconscious. In the magazine La Revolution Surrealiste, Dali had seen reproductions of the work of artists like the cathalon, Juan Mirone. Their work impressed him and under this new influence, he began to discover a style of his own. The paintings that Dali had been working on were regarded as a breakthrough by the surrealists. They felt that he portrayed the elusive world of the subconscious more imaginatively than any of his contemporaries.
SPOKESMAN: [From "My Secret Life" By Salvador Dali] This picture represented a landscape near Port Ligot whose rocks were bathed in a transparent and melancholy twilight, in the foreground an olive tree with its branches cut and without leaves. I knew that that the atmosphere which I had succeeded in creating with this landscape was to serve as a setting for some idea, for some surprising image, but I did not in the least know what it was going to be. I was about to turn out the light when instantaneously I saw the solution. I saw three soft watches, one of them hanging lamentably on the branch of the olive tree. When Gallow returned from the theater, the picture was completed. I made her sit down in front of it with her eyes shut, one, two, three, open your eyes. I asked her, do you think within three years you will have forgotten this image? No one can forget it once he has seen it, she said.
SPOKESMAN: In America, Dali went out of the way to court publicity and he became a celebrity when his face occurred on the cover of Time Magazine. Dali had become the most commercially successful artist of his generation and his population extended well beyond the galleries which could afford his painting. Dali exhibitions were held in such unlikely places as the lobbies of expensive hotels, and pictures bearing his signature commanded very high prices. Dali and his managers werekeen to exploit the huge demand for his work. Then a scandal developed around rumors that he had signed blank sheets of paper onto which any image could be printed.
SALVADOR DALI: Salvador Dali, myself, is very rich and Dali loves tremendously, money, and gold and Dali sleeps the best after one day he receives a tremendous quantity of checks with dollars or any kind of golden symbols -- and I sleep absolutely divine.
SPOKESMAN: Gallow's death in 1982 removed the foundation upon which Dali had constructed his entire life. He sank into a depression and began closing himself off from the world. Gallow was buried in the crypt of the castle into which Dali now moved to be near her. The atmosphere of this mausoleum is still characteristically and unconventionally surrealist. Next to her grave, Dali has prepared his own. RECAP
MR. MacNeil: Again the main stories of the day, George Bush began his first full working day as President with a lecture to his staff on ethics, telling them to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest. The Supreme Court struck down a Richmond, Virginia, affirmative action program setting aside construction contracts for minority businesses. An earthquake in Soviet Tajekistan reportedly killed at least 1000 people. Good night, Jim.
MR. LEHRER: Good night, Robin. We'll see you tomorrow night. I'm Jim Lehrer. Thank you and good night.
The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour
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This episode's headline: Leaders of the 101st; Questionable Quotas; Remembering Dali; One More Try. The guests include In New York: ROBERT MacNeil; In Washington: JAMES LEHRER; GUESTS:REP. ROBERT MICHEL, [R] Illinois; REP. THOMAS FOLEY, [D] Washington; SEN. ROBERT DOLE, [R] Kansas; SEN. GEORGE MITCHELL, [D] Maine; LYLE DENNISTON, Baltimore Sun; CORRESPONDENT: JUDY WOODRUFF; ESSAYIST: ROGER ROSENBLATT. Byline: In New York: ROBERT MacNeil; In Washington: JAMES LEHRER
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Chicago: “The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour,” 1989-01-23, NewsHour Productions, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed November 28, 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