thumbnail of The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer
Hide -
JIM LEHRER: Good evening. I'm Jim Lehrer. On the NewsHour tonight Margaret Warner and three pollsters examine the latest opinion surveys on the president; Betty Ann Bowser continues our reporting on how the president's troubles are playing in Omaha; Charles Krause profiles Milosevic of Yugoslavia; and David Gergen talks about being a parent. It all follows our summary of the news this Wednesday.% ? NEWS SUMMARY
JIM LEHRER: There were talks at the capitol today on a timetable for the impeachment process. Republicans and Democrats again traded accusations of partisanship. Kwame Holman has our report.
KWAME HOLMAN: President Clinton went to Capitol Hill this morning in his capacity as head of state. The occasion was a ceremony honoring South African President Nelson Mandela, but Mr. Clinton too received a long standing ovation from invited guests and members from both political parties. Just two hours earlier, however, House leaders and the two top members of the Judiciary Committee met to discuss the process, which eventually could lead to the impeachment of the president. Afterwards, Speaker Newt Gingrich emerged to answer reporters' questions and dismiss public opinion polls that show a majority of Americans do not favor impeachment.
REP. NEWT GINGRICH: The fact is neither the American people nor the members of Congress know this case thoroughly yet. The president has not had a chance to respond in a way that would present his side, and that the Congress will move forward in a calm and methodical way to seek justice. And I don't think people want this Congress to deal with a constitutional issue based on the latest overnight poll and I think people would be frankly horrified if the Congress is simply a polling institution that enacted a grotesque version of justice based on the latest poll or the latest talk show.
KWAME HOLMAN: But Minority Leader Dick Gephardt said whatever process the House adapts, it should be brought to a conclusion within the next 30 days.
REP. RICHARD GEPHARDT: My concern is that I heard nothing in the meeting that gives me any assurance that this matter will be brought to closure during this period, or anytime soon. I think there's a sizeable number of Republicans who have apparently decided that it's in their narrow political interest to subject the country to months and quite possibly years of highly partisan investigations related to the president.
KWAME HOLMAN: And at the White House Spokesman Mike McCurry said it's the speaker's decision to make.
MICHAEL McCURRY: Because the chairman, Mr. Hyde, has indicated that these matters are above his pay grade. He's not making the calls on these matters and presumably the speaker is. And so I think it is fair to say it's got to - it looks like it's the speaker that's calling the shots.
KWAME HOLMAN: But late this afternoon Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry Hyde insisted he's calling the shots and said he expects to release a timetable for any impeachment process in the very near future.
JIM LEHRER: Former President Jimmy Carter predicted last night the House would vote to impeach President Clinton but the Senate would not remove him from office. Mr. Carter spoke to students at Emory University in Atlanta. He said he thought the president lied to the grand jury in the Monica Lewinsky investigation and in his deposition in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said today policy makers should be sensitive to the deepening signs of global distress, but he stopped short of saying there would be immediate cuts in U.S. interest rates. He testified before the Senate Budget Committee.
ALAN GREENSPAN: I do think that we have to bring the existing instabilities to a level of stability reasonably shortly to prevent the contagion from really spilling over and creating some very significant further difficulties for all of us. I do not think we underestimate the severity of the problems with which we are dealing, but exactly what instruments we will employ and where and when they will be employed I'm not at liberty at this stage to offer it, because I'm not the only person involved in making those decisions.
JIM LEHRER: Greenspan's testimony still had a positive effect on Wall Street. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 257 points or 3 percent at 8154.41. Earlier today there had been rallies on overseas markets. In other economic news today the Federal Reserve approved the merger of Citicorp and Travelers' Group into the nation's largest financial services company. Citicorp is a banking and credit card firm. Travelers is an insurance brokerage and investment house. It's also an underwriter of this program. And the Senate today overwhelmingly approved legislation to overhaul the nation's bankruptcy laws. The vote was 97 to 1. The bill would make it harder for consumers to erase their debts. The House passed a similar bill in June. The brunt of Hurricane Georges may miss Southern Florida, forecasters said today. But the area remained under a hurricane watch. The storm has killed at least 37 people in its path across the Northern Caribbean. Thousands of people have already been ordered to evacuate the Florida Keys. Those who decided to stay spent the day boarding up windows and preparing for high winds. In New York today the U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution demanding an immediate cease-fire in Kosovo. It warned of council action if violence in the Serbian province continues. The resolution warned Yugoslav President Milosevic to end his government's attack on Kosovo's liberation movement. The resolution also seeks to create a safe environment for some 250,000 refugees before winter arrives. We'll have more on Milosevic later in the program tonight. South African President Mandela received a congressional gold medal today. President Clinton and the leaders of Congress presented the nation's highest civilian honor at a ceremony in the capitol rotunda. Mandela was praised by Mr. Clinton, Speaker Gingrich, and others for his sacrifice and achievements. He was imprisoned for 27 years for opposing apartheid in South Africa, the strict segregation of races imposed by the white government. He was released in 1990 and elected president four years later. He will retire next year. And that's it for the News Summary tonight. Now it's on to the latest polls on President Clinton, part two of our series on how his troubles are viewed in Omaha, Nebraska, a profile of the man running Yugoslavia, and a David Gergen dialogue.% ? FOCUS - PUBLIC OPINION
JIM LEHRER: Margaret Warner has the polling story.
MARGARET WARNER: More than 22 million Americans watched the videotape of President Clinton's grand jury testimony as it was being broadcast on Monday and countless millions more have seen extended excerpts. Their reactions are being closely watched by members of Congress and the administration as they wrestle with how to bring the Clinton-Lewinsky matter to an end. For some perspective on how the public saw it we're joined by three pollsters: Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press; and two pollsters who advise many members of Congress: Democrat Celinda Lake and Republican Ed Goeas. Welcome all.
MARGARET WARNER: Andy, first to your results. You were polling both before and after the videotape. Set the scene for us. Where did the president stand just before the release of the videotape?
ANDREW KOHUT, Pew Research Center: Well, by the weekend, we did a survey Saturday and Sunday, and by the weekend we saw the Starr Report taking a delayed toll on the president's popularity, and on measures of support for the continuance of his presidency in light of the Lewinsky scandal. For the first time we saw -
MARGARET WARNER: We have a graph maybe can put up there.
ANDREW KOHUT: In terms of presidential approval we saw a small decline from 61 percent approved to 55 percent approved, first time in a year and a half that the president has been blow - meaningfully below 60 percent.
MARGARET WARNER: And then what happened when the videotape was released?
ANDREW KOHUT: Ironically, and ironic irony is the name of the game in terms of public opinion here, the president's approval ratings went back up - 62 percent approved - 33 percent disapproved both in the polls that were taken on Monday and our poll, which was taken over a two-night period.
MARGARET WARNER: And what did voters tell you about - I mean, did they find his performance persuasive?
ANDREW KOHUT: Well, despite the rebound in his approval ratings, this was not a good performance from the point of view of public reaction. By a margin of 38 to 50 percent, the public said that the president didn't make a very good case for himself. This graphic shows that a small percentage, about 20 percent of the public who said they saw all or most of the video had a better view of Clinton's performance. But most people saw clips, and that group - the largest majority of the public - said by a margin of 34 to 51 percent the president didn't do very well.
MARGARET WARNER: And how about on the key question that so many members of Congress are looking at, whether he committed perjury in that grand jury testimony, has anybody asked that direct question, whether the public thinks he committed perjury?
ANDREW KOHUT: The NBC News Poll said, was the president telling the whole truth in his testimony to a sample of people who said they watched at least some of this, and by a margin of 26 to 60 percent, the public said he was not, and therefore, we find the public less sympathetic, saying they were less personally sympathetic to the president, both people who watched all of the proceedings and people who watched some of it. He didn't score any credibility points with the public based upon this performance, despite the uptick in his approval ratings.
MARGARET WARNER: So what did this do let's say first to the number of people who want the president just to act himself, to resign?
ANDREW KOHUT: Well, prior to the - over the weekend we found a percentage of people saying the president should resign rising from 20 percent to 34 percent. Again, the erosion that I spoke of, but by Tuesday night -
MARGARET WARNER: Once the videotape came out.
ANDREW KOHUT: Once the videotapes had come back, we see public opinion, his regaining some support at least in this measure with only 26 percent saying he should resign, again, a softening of this - the erosion of support that the president has had. We see the same pattern in the questions that deal - this subjunctive questions that say if the president did this or that, should he be impeached, again, most people say no, but somewhat more than feel he should be impeached and felt that way prior to the release of the Starr Report.
MARGARET WARNER: Now, of course, it's members of Congress who are going to have to make a decision now. What does the public think if the President doesn't resign? What do they want members of Congress to do?
ANDREW KOHUT: Well they say pretty clearly they want something done. Very few people say nothing should be done for the president but most vote on these questions which give three alternatives for the reprimand or formal reprimand or censure option - 44 percent - in our survey only 26 percent say impeach, but only 26 percent also say no action.
MARGARET WARNER: And is that any different than it was before the release of the videotape?
ANDREW KOHUT: No. Those numbers have held. We've seen no difference when you - in public reaction when you put in this -
MARGARET WARNER: This sort of alternative.
ANDREW KOHUT: The alternative of censure versus impeachment or no action.
MARGARET WARNER: Is this consistent with what you're seeing in all these other polls that have been taken too in terms of the impact on the videotapes released?
ED GOEAS, Republican Pollster: No, it's not. Basically, we see in all the polls, particularly on the presidential job approval over time. Now, Andy may have had one sampling that showed his numbers turning worse, but it's not necessarily showing much difference in terms of the environment. Most of the surveys are somewhere around the 60 percent job approval. But I think you're looking to the wrong place for the job approval to change. As Celinda and I have found in our Datagram Survey and some of the other work that we've done together, the presidential job approval is not where to look for the impact of the scandal. I believe that, using polling terms, that the presidential job approval rating has become polluted to a certain extent over the last seven or eight months, that after seven or eight months of talking about it, the president's job approval rating is high, the economy is doing well. We're seeing that the job approval rating for the president is nothing more than an economic indicator, that it's not truly reflecting the impact of the scandal the way you see in other measurements, for example, his favorability rating, his personal approval rating, which has shown as consistent decline over time and intensifying recently.
MARGARET WARNER: Yes. I think we just put up one from "U.S. News & World Report." Do you want to comment on that.
ED GOEAS: This is his favorable/unfavorable rating. We hit him at 55 percent unfavorable, 40 percent favorable on this favorable rating. In fact, in the same survey we showed his unfavorable rating is now higher than that of Kenneth Starr.
MARGARET WARNER: And that's a change?
ED GOEAS: That is a change. They had done a very good job over the last eight months of demonizing Ken Starr; his number is coming down. We now see this event pulling the president's numbers down to the same range.
MARGARET WARNER: Is this a potential vulnerability for the president? Which do you think is more important, the job approval or the personal approval?
CELINDA LAKE, Democratic Pollster: Well, I think the voters of America hired him to be their president; they didn't marry him. And so I think it's his job approval that's more important than personal feelings. I do think it's impacted personal feelings about him, but people think he's doing a good job; people think he's trying to get back to that job. And I think that you don't fire somebody in this country who's doing a good job. People feel very strongly about that.
MARGARET WARNER: Let me ask you this: How do you explain the findings that Andy came up with, which is - and NBC did too and so on - that a majority of people really don't think he told the truth in the grand jury and they still don't know - a greater number want him impeached. I mean, is the public saying that they don't think perjury in this case is an impeachable offense?
CELINDA LAKE: Well, I think that the public thinks that he lied, but they think that he lied about a personal matter, and they think that - and they were angry at him, and, in fact, in polling that Ed and I did together, they were angry about that portion of the law that they thought was told to them. They actually weren't that angry or upset about what he told Congress or what he told a grand jury. They were angry at the piece where they thought he had turned to the American public and lied to them. But the point of the matter is when he said he was going to get the deficit down, he did, when he said he was going to get the economy up, he did. And that's what they hire him for, to be their president.
MARGARET WARNER: How do you explain on the videotape that they don't think he told the truth onthe videotape, but they still haven't changed appreciably what they want -
ED GOEAS: But as Andy's own numbers show, it took a week for those numbers on the Starr Report coming out to have some impact and analyze that there's going to be all of a sudden instant impact in this case is just false. The bottom line is, is that the American public is at a point now where they're still going through and looking at the process. I disagree with Celinda completely, that they aren't concerned. They're deeply concerned over the fact that the President of the United States lied under oath in a grand jury. They're deeply concerned that he lied to the American public. And what we see in the numbers on impeachment is that they don't know what the punishment should be. Andy's numbers show 25 percent - only 25 percent believe nothing should happen. Most of the public polls are showing -- only 20 percent showing nothing should happen, and I think the question now becomes as everything sinks in about what the President has done to the American public, they will begin focusing over time on what the punishment should be. But even to ask questions about censure, there was another poll that came out today that showed that only 23 percent of the American public could even tell you what it meant. 43 percent on the surface said right away I have no idea what that means. So to say that the American public is focusing on censure versus resignation versus impeachment, they're just not there yet. I think that time will come in future months.
MARGARET WARNER: How much impact - we heard Newt Gingrich say today we're not going to let this process be dictated by the polls. But how much impact is this having, Celinda Lake, these polls on members of Congress whom you know and others?
CELINDA LAKE: Well, I think a perhaps different impact on the Democrats and the Republicans. I think that on the Democratic side we've been both very concerned about the impact on turnout and seeing major portions of the Democratic electorate potentially demoralized by this process, and then also -
MARGARET WARNER: You're talking about for the November elections.
CELINDA LAKE: Right. The November election. But also reassured by what appeared to be the president's comeback. I think the public thinks they know everything they need to know here, and I think they have come to the conclusion it would be bad for the country not to get back to business. And I think they'll blame whoever they think is extending this process beyond what is reasonable.
ED GOEAS: And this is where the problem lay. There's a problem there for the Democrats. The White House's whole strategy at this point is to use polling numbers to convince people that there should be no action at all, that people don't want things to move forward; they want everything to stop today. The members of the House and Senate know there's an election coming; they would like to get this off the table and have it acted upon. So you have the White House trying to keep that gavel from coming down on impeachment hearings because they know that's the beginning of the legal process, as opposed to the public opinion process.
MARGARET WARNER: Andy, you also had a finding about how the public feels about the Republican leadership.
ANDY KOHUT: Well, I think what we found was some backlash, the percentage of people saying that they disapprove of the congressional leadership increasing from 37 to 44 percent in response to the airing of this tape, which by a two to one margin the public has said they did not want to see aired; they didn't think itwas a good idea. But I'd also like to add just one point, that these approval ratings are not a measure of economic well-being. In 1987, in 1974 when both Reagan and Nixon were under fire for Iran-Contra and Watergate, respectively, good economic times in '87, good economic times in '73, the approval ratings went down, and two or three polls this weekend showed Clinton's approval ratings going down.
MARGARET WARNER: Celinda Lake, do the Democrats see an opening in this congressional - in these congressional numbers? Is this why we're seeing, for instance, today some of the Democratic leadership being directly critical of the Republican leadership for what they're saying is unfair or perpetuating it?
CELINDA LAKE: I think that what Democrats have universally called for is let's have a swift judicious, fair, and bipartisan process, and then let's get back to the business of the country. And I think the entire country and certainly the Democrats want to focus on things like Social Security and HMO's, and education, the things that are affecting the families of the voters, not the things that the beltway's obsessed with.
MARGARET WARNER: Is this a problem for Republicans potentially?
ED GOEAS: No. In fact, you know, I have a great deal of respect for the work that Andy does, but our own surveys showed that job approval of Republicans in Congress was at 45 percent approve, 45 percent disapprove, very close to what you had in your numbers, but that's an institutional measurement. What we also found is job approval of their own congressman was at 70 percent, and, in fact, it was 12 points higher for Republicans than Democrats. I think the big concern right now is the Republicans - and I'm very proud of them - have tried to be very judicious on how they're moving forward. The other day on discussing the tape, the reason why it took a day longer is they gave every member of the committee an opportunity to speak up, so it took an extra day, and then they were still attacked for being partisan. I think the Democrats right now - the only hope they have is try to activate their base by making this a partisan proceeding.
MARGARET WARNER: Well, I'm sure we'll have a lot of arguments about who's making it partisan, but thank you all three very much.
CELINDA LAKE: Thank you.
JIM LEHRER: Still to come on the NewsHour tonight, our second report from Omaha, Milosevic of Yugoslavia, and a David Gergen dialogue.% ? SERIES - VIEWS FROM OMAHA
JIM LEHRER: Now, the second of four reports on how the Clinton-Lewinsky matter is being dealt with in one American city, Omaha, Nebraska. Tonight Betty Ann Bowser explores what the city's religious leaders are doing.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: In the Jewish community this is the highest of holy weeks -- a time for reflection and repentance -- a time for Jews to ask forgiveness from those they have harmed. But this year Rabbi Aryeh Azriel is having a hard time keeping his congregates in Omaha focused because they are distracted by the president's troubles.
RABBI ARYEH AZRIEL: I have noticed that this year people are less prepared to deal with their owns lives than in previous years. I think this humdrum throughout the country -- dealing with Washington and White House and the Starr Report -- removed the attention from a Jew as an individual to issues that are so far away and so remote from their lives. It's a lot easier to look at other people's misery than to pay attention to the human being that you need to be.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: Rabbi Azriel is also struggling with other issues the president's affair with Monica Lewinsky has raised.
RABBI ARYEH AZRIEL: I think there is embarrassment about the fact that she's Jewish. We don't talk about this a lot. I feel sad about her. I think that she will have difficulty this season coming to terms with what she did. I have similar sadness for the President.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: Rabbi Azriel personally thinks President Clinton should resign but he has not made that part of any sermons to his congregation. All over Omaha religious leaders like Rabbi Azriel are grappling with what to say to their congregations about the president's problems.
BISHOP RICHARD JESSEN: You count. You are important.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: Richard Jessen, bishop of the Lutheran church in Nebraska has been especially troubled because part of his job is to remove ministers when they have been found guilty of adultery. So after much soul searching, this former supporter of the president decided he had to write a letter to Mr. Clinton asking him to resign.
BISHOP RICHARD JESSEN: I realized then that our relationship with our President had two dimensions. On the level of being a fellow human being, of course, forgiveness is available -- and we do well to forgive him. On the level of being my president, the relationship of trust had been broken and I didn't see how that could be repaired.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: Bishop Jessen is not using his letter to drum up support in the Lutheran Church. He just felt -- as a religious leader -- he needed to take a stand.
BISHOP RICHARD JESSEN: We seem to be a nation adrift. We're not sure what our values are. What are our convictions? We realize that all of us are imperfect and that all of us have our weak moments, and we don't want to be overly judgmental but we really don't know how then we should object to something we don't like.
PASTOR NEGIL McPHERSON: God doesn't want us to just - their hand and say, Lord, give me daily bread.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: Pastor Negil McPherson thinks the president's actions were reprehensible. But he wants him to remain in office, and the pastor has been telling his parishioners that if they are true Christians, they must forgive the president.
PASTOR NEGIL McPHERSON: If we say we are going to forgive him and we don't trust him, then we have not forgiven him. They're related. If I did something to my wife and I say honey, I did this and I'm sorry, I would like for you to forgive me. I would like to feel that she has forgiven me and she has, again, trusts me; however, it's going to be a little harder for her to trust me then, but if she doesn't trust me, then she has not forgiven me or vice versa.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: And Pastor McPherson says the scandal has made him more mindful of his leadership.
PASTOR NEGIL McPHERSON: Just makes my work a little more difficult, and that we'll just have to be more alert -- more prayerful. When we hear of these things, it actually is a wakeup call for me as a religious leader -- first of all, to make sure that I am walking, I am living, and I am doing the things that are right.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: Omaha has more Roman Catholics than any other denomination, more than 50 percent of the population. St. Leo's parish is on the city's west side.
FATHER PAT McCASLIN: Well, these are troubled times, aren't they? And in a lot of ways, you know, if we come to church, we probably don't want to hear more about the troubles in Washington because we have enough of it. On the other hand it, it's the kind of issue that because it does strike the very heart of all of us as Americans is something thatneeds to be dealt with.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: Father Pat McCaslin spent the past two Sundays talking to his parishioners about the president. He thinks Mr. Clinton should be allowed to stay.
FATHER PAT McCASLIN: I'm not sure that I see a sexual dalliance with a 21-year-old as a high crime. The fleshier the sin, the less serious - it doesn't mean it's not serious but the less serious. There's probably no sin in human life lied about more than sexual misconduct. It doesn't mean that I don't find all of this business with the president embarrassing and awful and disgusting. My role is to make you think. Don't be simplistic about this. However you end up thinking, don't be simplistic. Get on your knees and scour your own sense of values about what is important.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: Father McCaslin makes no bones about his secular views. He's a liberal Democrat. Sometimes his parishioners agree with him and sometimes they don't.
PARISHIONER: I agree with you, Father, and I'm a Republican.
PARISHIONER: In my heart, I forgive him, but also, I still want the constitution and all the laws of the land to take hold and give what's coming. Because I think the guy's going to end up in jail.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: But the religious man -- the priest -- is less clear about his feelings surrounding the Lewinsky affair.
FATHER PAT McCASLIN: I don't like to live religiously with a non-control of lousy situations, of sinful situations. For me to have to live with this kind of complication that's in question right now is itself sinful because it's disordered in my own life. In terms of my priesthood that has to do with the service of other people I find a lot of very sad people maybe depressed people who are sick of it all and who are also living like I am. I think in that state of all this complication of life is going on and we don't know what that means for tomorrow.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: While the four religious leaders had many differences of opinion, there was one point on which they all agreed; they are all concerned what the scandal will mean to the future moral fabric of the country and, in particular, what its impact will be on the next generation.
JIM LEHRER: Tomorrow night, part 3 will look at how young women in Omaha view Monica Lewinsky. % ? FOCUS - YUGOSLAVIAN STRONGMAN
JIM LEHRER: Now a profile of the president of Yugoslavia. His forces are fighting ethnic Albanians in Kosovo and today the U.N. Security Council warned it might step in if the fighting does not stop soon. Charles Krause has our report.
CHARLES KRAUSE: Since 1991, tens of thousands of men and women have been killed -- and hundreds of thousands more displaced -- in what was the former Yugoslavia. First, there was the shelling and destruction of Vukovar by the Yugoslav army in Croatia -- then the massacre of Muslims in Srebrenica -- and the bloody siege at Sarajevo in Bosnia. And now, again, charges of ethnic cleansing, hundreds of thousands of more refugees and a looming humanitarian crisis in Kosovo. There are many historic causes for the hatred and instability that have consumed the Balkans for most of this century. But there's also general agreement among western historians and diplomats that it was Slobodan Milosevic, who unleashed the current wave of nationalism and ethnic violence -- exactly 11 years ago. It was then, in April 1987, that Yugoslavia's communist leadership in Belgrade sent Milosevic to Kosovo, a remote mountainous region where the Serbian Orthodox Church had its beginning. Serbs call Kosovo their Jerusalem, and it was there in Kosovo that Milosevic reignited religious and nationalist passions throughout the Balkans when he threatened reprisals against Kosovo's Albanian majority. Virtually overnight, Milosevic became a hero to the Serbs and six months later their president. It's a job he's held in one form or another ever since.
TEOFIL PANCIC: He succeeded in making a myth of himself.
CHARLES KRAUSE: Teofil Pancic is the editor of "Vreme," Serbia's most respected independent news magazine. In New York recently, he recalled Kosovo's political importance.
TEOFIL PANCIC SOT: Within a year you could see Milosevic's posters and pictures, photographs everywhere, in the buses, in the shops, in all kinds of places. Nobody ordered people to have that pictures, but they just fell in love with him because it looked like he is, finally somebody is, protecting Serbian interests.
CHARLES KRAUSE: Today a decade later, his critics in the United States and elsewhere say Milosevic is responsible for most of the carnage and war crimes committed in the Balkans. They also say he's become a dictator whose only real interest is to retain his personal power.
CHARLES INGRAO: He is totally dedicated to his own personal advancement and survival. I think he's extremely, totally immoral.
CHARLES KRAUSE: Charles Ingrao is a professor of history at Purdue University who's written extensively on central Europe.
CHARLES INGRAO: The Serbs break down into two groups, those who dislike Milosevic and those who despise him. The reason he stays in power, because he has created over these last five-six years a fascist state. It's not a totalitarian state where you cannot breathe without having the government looking at you. It is a fascist state where you control enough of the state apparatus and enough of the media that you make sure your control of the government is not questioned.
CHARLES KRAUSE: Pancic calls Milosevic a "post modern dictator."
TEOFIL PANCIC: He avoids to use terror when he doesn't have to. So in kind of normal situations, he is not using terror. He is using propaganda and all other things like that. But when something serious happens, then he uses terror. Like you have a situation in Kosovo, like you had demonstrations - big demonstrations in Belgrade a year, a year and a half ago. He doesn't have any problems -- any problem to send the police to his own people. It doesn't matter are they Serbs, or Albanians, or somebody else. I mean, in that way we are all equal. You know, we all can be beaten by the police.
RADMILA MILENTIJEVIC: I think it's a wrong, absolutely -- he's not a dictator.
CHARLES KRAUSE: Radmila Milentijevic is one of Milosevic's strongest and most outspoken supporters. She served as Serbia's minister of information until last March.
RADMILA MILENTIJEVIC: My experience with President Milosevic has been that he is -- yes, he is a very charming man, entertaining, relaxed, very pleasant, but also very tough. He is a strong person. He has his goal and he keeps the government under full control, as he should, as he must. But he rose to power through elections. And if he were to run for an election tomorrow, the vast majority of the people would vote for him. So he has the popular support. And he uses that support to implement the policies that he has charted that he believes in.
CHARLES KRAUSE: Louis Sell has observed Milosevic firsthand. He was the chief political officer at the U.S. embassy in Belgrade from 1987 until 1991 -- the period when Milosevic first learned how to wield power.
LOUIS SELL: He has quite skillfully used nationalism to prevent anyone from coming up with an alternative because anytime anyone criticizes Milosevic or has the temerity to even think about some alternative policies in Kosovo or elsewhere, he can be branded as a traitor to the Serb nation.
CHARLES KRAUSE: Does he do that?
LOUIS SELL: His people do. He doesn't himself. He's very clever about that usually. He thinks brilliantly one or two moves ahead, but he doesn't seem to think about the end game. He's a brilliant tactician, but a terrible strategist. That's why he's led Yugoslavia and Serbia into catastrophe after catastrophe.
CHARLES KRAUSE: There are many different versions and explanations for why Milosevic chose the strategy and tactics he did over the past decade of turmoil and violence in the Balkans. But the facts of what happened - the outcome -- is more or less incontrovertible. In 1989, Milosevic returned to Kosovo, where he further inflamed ethnic and religious tensions by speaking at the commemoration of the 600th anniversary of the battle of Kosovo. The Serbs believe they lost that battle to the invading Ottoman Turks -- and the 600th anniversary celebration did nothing but further aggravate the traditional hostilities between orthodox Serbs and mostly Muslim Albanians in Kosovo. 1989 was also the year Milosevic engineered a change in Yugoslavia's constitution, curtailing the political rights of Kosovo's Albanian majority by revoking Kosovo's status as an autonomous republic.
LOUIS SELL: What it amounted to was depriving the Albanians in Kosovo by force of the right to rule themselves. They are 90 percent of the population and, in effect, since 1989 when Milosevic forcibly deprived them of their autonomy, they have been virtually non-persons in their own land.
CHARLES KRAUSE: According to Sell and others, the breakup of Yugoslavia two years later, was due at least in part to concerns elsewhere in the former Yugoslavia about Milosevic and growing Serbian nationalism. Beginning in 1991, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Macedonia declared their independence --- leaving only Serbia and Montenegro in the country that had been Tito's Yugoslavia since the end of World War II. The breakup left many ethnic Serbs living outside Serbia, in neighboring Bosnia and Croatia. So beginning in 1992, Milosevic, who still controlled the powerful Yugoslav army, began to support Serb forces fighting to secede to form what they called Greater Serbia. The fighting in Croatia and Bosnia was fierce and there were horrible atrocities. Yet today, Milosevic and the Serbs have very little to show for their efforts: Yet Milosevic remains in power, at least in part because many Serbs believe the United States and much of the rest of the world is against them. As evidence of that, former information Minister Milentijevic points to the preponderance of Serbs charged with war crimes at the war crimes tribunal in the Hague.
RADMILA MILENTIJEVIC: The Serbs feel that this court was invented and enforced by the United States government to punish the Serbs. I share that view. No matter what justification Madeleine Albright of the United States Government is offering, I will give you examples to prove that the court was there to punish the Serbs and no one else. When Tudjman attacked Eastern Slovenia in the spring of 1995, he expelled some 12,000 Serbs from there, all the Serbs from there, and in the process maybe 1,800 to 2,000 Serbs were killed. The court in the Hague didn't move a finger. So the double standard that was applied here is so obvious. Serbian people have no choice but to see it for what it is.
CHARLES KRAUSE: The view that there's been a double standard is repeated daily onSerbia's state television and other government-controlled media, according to independent journalist Teofil Pancic.
TEOFIL PANCIC: Milosevic builds a kind of xenophobic culture. We have a very xenophobic media, with a few exceptions. But most of the media are very xenophobic. And when you persuade your people that they are jeopardized from the outside world, then they will say okay, if America says that Milosevic is no good, or somebody else, then Milosevic has to be good.
CHARLES KRAUSE: Louis Sell says the half truths and distortions appear not only in Yugoslavia's state-controlled media. He says they're also reflected in Milosevic's dealings with the United States and other foreign governments.
LOUIS SELL: He is one of the world's most skillful liars, and he has no trouble lying either in public or in private to his interlocutors, and he does it with every evidence of sincerity and, in fact, may even sometimes believe it.
CHARLES KRAUSE: How do you respond to Louis Sell, who says that, in fact, President Milosevic issimply unreliable, he lies?
RADMILA MILENTIJEVIC: President Milosevic is not a liar, but President Milosevic probably does not open all his cards, you know, just as we don't. You act in behalf of your country, in the national interest of your country, and you do what you have to do to protect it and defend it.
CHARLES KRAUSE: And that's what he has been doing?
RADMILA MILENTIJEVIC: That's what he has been doing. And I would not for one minute give in to the assumption or the position that President Milosevic is a destabilizing factor. In fact, he is the strongest factor of stability in Serbia, in Yugoslavia, in the Balkans today.
CHARLES KRAUSE: Yet the fighting in Kosovo has once again destabilized the Balkans, and the U.S. Senate recently approved a resolution accusing Milosevic, by name, of being a war criminal and of causing the conflict in Kosovo. Democratic Sen. Charles Robb of Virginia, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Intelligence Committees, says the timing of the resolution was meant to send a strong signal to Milosevic that the United States and its allies will hold him accountable.
SEN. CHARLES ROBB: We believe that this kind of conduct by Milosevic cannot continue without a response by the international community, and we are prepared to back it up.
CHARLES KRAUSE: Richard Holbrooke, the special U.S. envoy to the former Yugoslavia, has long viewed Milosevic as essential to stability in the Balkans and has continued to meet with him since the fighting in Kosovo erupted earlier this year. But elsewhere, there's a growing debate as to whether the United States should continue to deal with Milosevic. Professor Ingrao says 'no.'
CHARLES INGRAO: The United States should have distanced itself from him many years ago, but in our search for stability, we have chosen short-term bandaid solutions to long-term systemic solutions.
CHARLES KRAUSE: But Senator Robb says that dropping Milosevic is not be so easy.
SEN. CHARLES ROBB: We're in the awkward position of not having anybody else that we can deal with. It's not all that different from, say, Iraq where you have Saddam Hussein, who is the only person that you can deal with, even though we may find him deplorable, disreputable, as someone that we know has committed atrocities. If you're going to solve the problem in the near term, you sometimes have to continue to deal with them.
CHARLES KRAUSE: So, for the time being, Yugoslavia's president remains at the center of the storm in Kosovo and the Balkans, which he himself largely created, andthe United States continues to deal with him. But faced with the prospect of a massive humanitarian crisis in Kosovo now that winter is approaching, and more broken promises, the United States supported today's resolution in the UN demanding a cease-fire in Kosovo. It was yet another sign that U.S. and the world's patience with Milosevic may finally be running out.% ? DIALOGUE
JIM LEHRER: Finally tonight a Gergen dialogue, David Gergen, editor-at-large of "U.S. News & World Report," talks with economist Sylvia Hewlitt and Cornel West, a professor at Harvard University. They're authors of "The War Against Parents, What We Can Do for America's Beleaguered Moms and Dads."
DAVID GERGEN: Sylvia and Cornel, welcome. You write in your new book that there is a war against parents in this country that is being conducted by corporations, by the government, and by the culture, itself. What are you talking about here?
CORNEL WEST, Author, "The War Against Parents:" We want to acknowledge the ways in which parents are on the battlefield, and by acknowledging those ways in which they're on the battlefield, they'll highlight their heroic actions. Parenting is the ultimate non-market activity, caring, loving, sacrificing, servicing. In the workplace, managerial greed has run amok, parents, therefore, underpaid, overworked, government abdicating responsibility, parents unhinged, and culture dishonoring, devaluing parents.
SYLVIA HEWLITT, Author, "The War Against Parents:" David, just think of what's been going on in the workplace. We all know that there's some good news recently. I mean, for the last five, six years we've had this huge boom in America. But the group that has not benefited at all is families with children. They've seen their income go down. And I guess what we see out there - that there's been a great deal of trickle up of income to managers, to older people, and as a result, young child-raising adults are being forced to take two, three jobs, to keep their show on the road. One of the most poignant figures in this book is that there are now six million American households where two adults hold four jobs in order to keep things going. So there's a great deal of economic pressure on parents, and a great deal of time pressure. They really feel starved of time with their kids.
DAVID GERGEN: Now, Sylvia, are you also making the point, in addition to losing the time with their kids, there's less of that, that they have fewer facilities where they can place their kids while they're away?
SYLVIA HEWLITT: Right. We have a tremendous dearth of quality child care. We have very little in the way of after school care. We know that our many households are empty until 7, 8 o'clock at night. There are - just to give you one figure - seven million seven-year-olds in self-care after school. And as you know, these dangling, abandoned kids get into trouble. We all know that the great peak in juvenile crime is at 4 o'clock in the afternoon. It's not in the middle of the night. It's when you have all kinds of young adolescents basically unsupervised with no good niche in their community, in those early afternoon, late afternoon hours.
DAVID GERGEN: Well, Cornel, what I find puzzling here is that we have much more conversation now in the corporate community about corporate responsibility toward employees. Are the corporations and government just not catching up, are we going backwards, or is it mostly headlines without progress? What's really happening?
CORNEL WEST: I think on the one hand you have a deep concern in Washington about the ways in which, given the economic boom on the one hand, and even given the fragility of that boom at times, we still don't have a decent wage. That is to say you don't have a wage where persons can work full-time and not live in poverty. And so the White House has been very interested in pushing up that minimum wage to $7 and that's one of the recommendations we have here. Same is true in terms of tightening the safety net, same is true in terms of the paid, job-protected leave that we call for over against the unpaid leave that was written into law in 1993.
DAVID GERGEN: Sylvia, what about the maternal - parental leave laws? I gather you feel that they are not covering enough people and a growing number of women are not covered.
SYLVIA HEWLITT: Well, you know, it's a very good example of how there is this big gap between our rhetoric and the reality of that. We made a whole kind of song and dance about the parenting leave bill in 1993, and, in fact, it was a big step forward. But just remember that it was unpaid leave. A lot of - both men and women can't afford to take it. And right now, 31 percent of working women don't have access to that leave, because they work for small companies. And -
DAVID GERGEN: And small companies are not covered.
SYLVIA HEWLITT: And this bill exempted all employers that have fewer than 50 employees. Just compare that to Europe or to Japan or to Australia or Canada. The average parenting leave in these countries is now five months at full pay. And no matter what crises these countries run into, they realize this is a very good investment, because, you know, if a kid is allowed to bond emotionally and in other ways with both parents at the beginning of life, the ground is really set for a childhood that is both on track and happy. And all of the experts tell us that. But in this country you can find three-week-old babies in daycare centers because parents do not have the right to be with that child.
DAVID GERGEN: Cornel, you do say in the book that you think parents are as devoted to the parents -- as to their children as parents had been in the past and yet the number and yet the number of young fathers who walk away from their children is at historically high levels.
CORNEL WEST: Yes, that's true. I think a number of the fathers who walk away actually do have deep ties, but there are some institutional policies, like AFDC, that made it difficult. Some of the fathers who walk away are simply irresponsible. And so we have to acknowledge that. But fathers have been irresponsible in the past. And we know that parenting does matter. A motherless child, a fatherless child has a very different plight than that of a child who received deep love and support from Mom and Dad, as we did, as I did, as Sylvia did.
SYLVIA HEWLITT: You know, David, we spend some time in this book sharing our childhoods, because, despite the fact I grew up in the Welsh mining valleys and Cornel grew up in Sacramento, we both came from, you know, strong, blue collar, working families that gave really gifts of enormous attention and love to the young folks in those families, and clearly, we've benefited from that enormously. But we also share our adult struggles to be a good dad, a good mom in a society which really demeans, undermines, degrades the nurturing act in such profound ways these days. And I think that is a very difficult thing that we all are tousling with as parents today. I have four kids. My youngest is just one year's old, so I'm nearly out there on the front lines, really experiencing how hard it is to be a good parent, no matter how I guess fervently you try, and there's all kinds of stories in this book of heroes and heroines, because I think there are all kinds of folks who are putting extraordinary energy into the sacrifice and dedication that are needed to be a good parent. But it is very difficult in America in 1998.
DAVID GERGEN: Sylvia, you have a parental bill of rights here in the book. Briefly describe what the major elements of it are.
SYLVIA HEWLITT: The parent's bill of rights is about some intensely practical measures that can be taken to support the nurturers of our society, and they go from expanding parenting leave to increasing the minimum wage to much more symbolic things, for instance, giving priority seating on our buses to parents. I mean, you try traveling on a bus in New York City with an infant and you find that there's no place for you, no place to put the stroller, no place to sit with the kid, and yet, you know, in our buses we have learned to honor the special needs of another group, that of the elderly. And I think we should be proud of that as a society, we really find it very hard to give, I guess, pride of place to parents and small children in this society, which means that it's extremely hard, I think, to really spend a whole lot of time with your children these days. So the bill of rights both emphasizes the concrete practical measures that parents need, if they are to counsel for their kids, but it also gives more honor, dignity, and value to this business of nurturing, to this business of caring in a society which is so focused on profits and greed.
DAVID GERGEN: Thank you, Sylvia Hewlitt, and Cornel West. Thank you for joining us.
CORNEL WEST: Thank you very much. Always a pleasure.% ? RECAP
JIM LEHRER: Again, the major stories of this Wednesday, House Republicans and Democrats accused each other of partisanship in trying to reach a timetable for the presidential impeachment process and in congressional testimony Federal Reserve Chairman Greenspan stopped short of predicting a reduction in U.S. interest rates. In the big homerun race today the Chicago Cubs' Sammy Sosa hit two homers in Milwaukee against the Brewers, numbers 64 and 65. He's now tied with Mark McGwire of the St. Louis Cardinals. Here's how Sosa hit them.
SPORTS ANNOUNCER: -- He did it. It's out of here! Sosa with Homerun Number 64. [crowd cheering]
SPORTS ANNOUNCER: -- centerfield - he did it - Number 65, and there was no doubt about it! [crowd cheering]
JIM LEHRER: The Cubs have three games left in the baseball season, the Cardinals four. We'll see you on-line and again here tomorrow evening. I'm Jim Lehrer. Thank you and good night.
The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer
Producing Organization
NewsHour Productions
Contributing Organization
NewsHour Productions (Washington, District of Columbia)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/507-qr4nk36w97).
Episode Description
This episode's headline: Public Opinion; Views from Omaha; Yugoslavian Strongman; Dialogue. GUESTS: ANDREW KOHUT, Pew Research Center; ED GOEAS, Republican Pollster; CELINDA LAKE, Democratic Pollster; CORNEL WEST, Author, ""The War Against Parents""; SYLVIA HEWLITT, Author, ""The War Against Parents""; CORRESPONDENTS: CHARLES KRAUSE; MARGARET WARNER; TERENCE SMITH; BETTY ANN BOWSER; KWAME HOLMAN; ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH; DAVID GERGEN
Asset type
Politics and Government
Copyright NewsHour Productions, LLC. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License (
Media type
Moving Image
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Producing Organization: NewsHour Productions
AAPB Contributor Holdings
NewsHour Productions
Identifier: NH-6261 (NH Show Code)
Format: Betacam
Generation: Preservation
Duration: 01:00:00;00
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer,” 1998-09-23, NewsHour Productions, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 10, 2023,
MLA: “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.” 1998-09-23. NewsHour Productions, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 10, 2023. <>.
APA: The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. Boston, MA: NewsHour Productions, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from