The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer
JIM LEHRER: Good evening. I'm Jim Lehrer. On the NewsHour tonight a doctor explains what happened to President Clinton's right leg; a State Department official and a congressman look at the anarchy in Albania; Mark Shields & Paul Gigot analyze the week of politics; and David Gergen has a dialogue with Gary Wills about John Wayne. It all follows our summary of the news this Friday. NEWS SUMMARY
JIM LEHRER: President Clinton underwent surgery this afternoon to mend a hurt right knee. Surgeons at Bethesda Naval Hospital said they were very pleased with the operation. The President was given a local anesthetic and remained conscious throughout the procedure. He did not have to transfer executive powers to Vice President Gore. The President was brought to the Bethesda Naval Hospital this morning from Florida. He tore a tendon in his right knee at 1:20 AM, when he stumbled on the steps at the ocean front estate of pro golfer Greg Norman. Doctors said Mr. Clinton will be in a brace and walk with crutches for a number of weeks. A Naval hospital physician described the rest of the recovery.
COMMANDER DAVID WADE, Clinical Staff Chief, National Naval Medical Center: Over the following weeks to month that that tendon will heel and he will regain the unlimited use of his leg. If we take the average patient with this injury, it will be probably four or five months before he's on the golf range and perhaps as long as six months before he's jogging again.
JIM LEHRER: The President said he would go ahead with his summit meeting next week with Russian President Yeltsin in Helsinki, Finland, and First Lady Hillary Clinton delayed her one day--by one day her departure for a two-week tour of six African nations. She'll leave Sunday instead of tomorrow. We'll have more on the President's injury right after this News Summary. The U.S. military temporarily suspended evacuations from Albania today. It did so after two U.S. Marine helicopters came under attack from a shoulder-launched missile and machine gun fire from Albanian gunmen on the ground. The State Department reported U.S. Marines helped 400 Americans get out safely before the airlift was halted. There were no American injuries during the exchange of gunfire between Albanians and rescue forces. At the Pentagon this morning Sec. Cohen was asked if the United States was considering military intervention.
WILLIAM COHEN, Secretary of Defense: Our sole motivation right now and goal and objective is to get the Americans out of their safely. Beyond that, there is no planning for U.S. intervention. We are watching it very closely. We are talking with our allies. We know that there are diplomats who are in the region trying to negotiate some sort of a peaceful state of being right now, and we'll have to wait to see how it unfolds.
JIM LEHRER: In Albania the country slid further into chaos today as looters and armed insurgents drove out most civil authority. The rebellion began in January, after thousands lost their savings in failed pyramid schemes. The Organization for Security & Cooperation in Europe will meet in an emergency session in Vienna Saturday to discuss the crisis. Most of the border crossings into Yugoslavia, Greece, and Macedonia have been closed to stop the flow of Albanian refugees. We'll have more on this story later in the program. Thousands of people attended memorial services today for the seven Israeli schoolgirls shot and killed yesterday. The children were on a field trip to the Island of Peace, a popular tourist site on the Jordan River. The 28-year-old Jordanian soldier who opened fire on them was in custody. Prime Minister Netanyahu attended services today and said the murder of little girls would not defeat the Israeli people. The 18-member Israeli cabinet voted unanimously today to begin construction next week on a Jewish housing project in mainly Arab East Jerusalem. Israel's defense minister put troops on alert to prevent threatened violence by Palestinians who are opposed to the apartment complex. Back in this country, in Los Angeles today, an 18-year-old Russian immigrant was formerly charged with murder and armed robbery in the shooting death of Ennis Cosby, theonly son of entertainer Bill Cosby. Mikhail Markhasev was arrested Wednesday night in North Hollywood. Police said he has a previous conviction for assault with a deadly weapon and marijuana possession. Markhasev came to this country in 1989. He is not a U.S. citizen. Ennis Cosby was shot January 16th as he changed a flat tire along a freeway. On Wall Street today the stock market rebounded. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 56 + points, closing at 6935.46. Yesterday it dropped 160 points. And that's it for the News Summary tonight. Now it's on to the President's knee, anarchy in Albania, and Shields & Gigot. FOCUS - THE PRESIDENT'S KNEE
JIM LEHRER: We go first tonight to the story of President Clinton's injured knee and to Charlayne Hunter-Gault.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Doctors at Bethesda Naval Hospital worked for more than two hours this afternoon to repair President Clinton's injured knee. Following the surgery, the chief of orthopedics spoke about it at a news conference.
CHIEF OF ORTHOPEDICS: The quadriceps tendon is actually a group of four muscles that go through one tendon; they extend the leg, the thigh muscle. It's in three layers, and the President had a very unusual form of tear. Instead of tearing transversely, which it usually does, this one actually had torn fairly high in his thigh, headed down towards his knee cap, and then split and sort of like de-laminated the tendon, and then came around to the inside of his knee, a little more of a complex tear than again is usually seen. So we repaired it in layers, as, you know, essentially got an anatomic repair on the tendon. After the repair was done, one of the things we do is bring sutures through bone, through the knee cap to bring the tendon back into place and sutured the remainder of the tendon together. And after we had done that, we were very pleased that he was able to achieve nearly a full range of motion of his knee. We didn't stress it beyond a certain point, but we had--are very happy with our repair. He tolerated the procedure very well, very comfortable.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Later, the President joined the news conference via telephone hookup with his hospital room.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, I'm enjoying this press conference-- answering the questions. But I want you guys to quit giving my doctor a hard time about letting me go to Helsinki. We're all going to Helsinki. We have to go to Helsinki. I feel great. They did a terrific job, and let me say, I just had an unlucky break, but I've had almost no injuries in my life. And, you know, 25 years of running and a lot of other athletic activity, I've been remarkably free of injuries. I had one skiing accident once, and, you know, this is just an accident. Accidents happen to people. But I was very fortunate that Greg Norman, being a better athlete than I am, immediately heard my knee pop, turned around and caught me before I fell on the ground, and then the hospital down in Florida did a wonderful job, Dr. Cohen and the other people. And my team did a good job here. I feel great. And don't worry about it. I'll just spend a little time here and get home and go back to work.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Now, for more about the President's surgery, his injury, and his recovery, we're joined by an orthopedic surgeon. Dr. John Delahay is the vice chair of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at Georgetown University Medical Center. And I've just got to ask you, Doctor, first of all, how did he sound to you?
DR. JOHN DELAHAY, Georgetown University Medical Center: He sounded very good to me, Charlayne. He certainly sounded in good spirits.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: That's great. How serious is what happened to him?
DR. JOHN DELAHAY: Well, the injury, itself, is not that serious. It sounds, as we have just heard, that this particular type of tear that the President had is a bit more complex than the average that one would ordinarily expect. As we heard, he's traveled in several planes. I can use this model briefly. The normal tear that one would expect would be essentially straight across the tendon in this fashion. This tendon, as you know, attaches to the knee cap at the inferior end.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: And its work is to do what for the--
DR. JOHN DELAHAY: Well, this tendon, as all tendons, attach muscle to a bone. In this case the particular tendon attaches the quadriceps muscle, whose job it is to straighten the knee, to the bones below. In the President's case it sounds as if this is a complex tear. And in that particular situation, the tear, rather than just going straight across the tendon, takes an oblique course, and in addition to that, there is probably a tear tangentially through the other plane of the tendon.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: So that what you mean by complex.
DR. JOHN DELAHAY: Yes. That's the general meaning of complex, in other words, the tear traverses the tendon in more than one plane.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: So how much more serious does that make it?
DR. JOHN DELAHAY: From the standpoint of the surgery, it's a bit more technically challenging to put it back together. From the overall, that is, from the standpoint of rehabilitation and prognosis, it does not compromise that to any great extent.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: So you heard what the doctor just said, the surgeon. What else can you help us understand about what happened in that surgery today?
DR. JOHN DELAHAY: Well, as I believe it was explained, the approach to treating this injury is to essentially surgically suture or sew, using stitches, the tendon back together. In order to do that, one has to place sutures or stitches through the bone through drill holes. So drill holes are placed in the patella or the knee cap here, and those sutures or stitches are then placed through the tendon. And as they're tied, it brings the tendon back down to the knee cap.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: And how serious an operation is that? I mean, this went on a little big longer than the hour and a half that was initially suggested it would take.
DR. JOHN DELAHAY: Yes. I think frequently we tend to forget that some of that time was probably anesthesia induction, so that the surgical procedure, itself, may well have been only about an hour and a half. Considering the complexity of the tendon tear it's not surprising that it took a bit longer than one would anticipate. But overall, the surgery, itself, is relatively straightforward and I would anticipate a relatively--a fairly reasonable recovery.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: And you mentioned the anesthesia. He didn't have to go under, is that right? What kind of anesthesia was it, and how incapacitating is it?
DR. JOHN DELAHAY: My understanding is that he had an epidural anesthetic, which is the type frequently used for women delivering children.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: So it's just a needle that localizes the area?
DR. JOHN DELAHAY: Well, no. An epidural would be a needle into the back to inject medication to essentially numb the nerve in the leg, thereby numbing the leg. I'm sure the President was awake and conscious and apparently was listening to music while the procedure was going on.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: And is he going--what about now, that the surgery is over, what's the immediate prognosis I mean in terms of the next few hours and day and so on?
DR. JOHN DELAHAY: Well, this is a relatively painful injury, both at the time of injury, and the surgery is also painful, so I'm sure he will be receiving some medication to control pain.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: What kind of--the doctor said analgesics, or--
DR. JOHN DELAHAY: Well, he initially stated that they might give him some narcotic analgesics, which would be quite normal in this scenario, or some, if you will, anti-inflammatory agents can also be used in this setting.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: To keep the knee from swelling.
DR. JOHN DELAHAY: Or to minimize the swelling, which, of course, contributes to the pain. I would think that these medications will be tapered back very quickly over a 24-hour period. Conceivably, I would think he could even be discharged from the hospital tomorrow, certainly by Sunday.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: How do you assess his capacity to function in the short-term here, mentally as well as physically?
DR. JOHN DELAHAY: I would see no impairment for mental functioning at all. And from the standpoint of physical functioning, more than likely he was placed into some type of knee brace that will allow a little bit of motion to try to minimize the stiffness, that will allow him to be up on crutches, I would think, tomorrow and getting around on crutches.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: So he'll have a good deal of mobility, depending upon his ability to maneuver the crutches?
DR. JOHN DELAHAY: Mobility of the person, yes.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Yes.
DR. JOHN DELAHAY: He'll be able to get around and maneuver on crutches I would think quite readily.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: I don't know if you heard in the press conference but all the reporters were just saying this trip. I mean, how do you assess his capacity to make this very long trip?
DR. JOHN DELAHAY: I personally would not recommend against it. I would see no problem that would preclude him from going.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: What are the possible complications? I mean, we've got the best of all possible worlds, but are there any complications that one might be on the look-out for?
DR. JOHN DELAHAY: I think other than would infection, which probably occurs less than 1 percent of the time, and the possibility of a post-operative phlebitis, there are relatively few complications in the immediate period. Long-term, the major issue is healing of the tendon and stiffness of the knee, and certainly the knee will be stiff for a short period of time, but one would think that in the long-term he should regain virtually full range of motion in the knee.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: What's he going to have to do? Is he going to have to do a lot of physical therapy?
DR. JOHN DELAHAY: In the short-term there is limited therapy because for all intents and purposes the knee is going to be held out straight. They usually allow a little bit of motion, probably no more than 30 degrees. And considering the complexity of the tear, they may wish to protect it even longer. Usually beginning somewhere around six weeks the individual is allowed to move the knee in a controlled fashion more in an effort to regain the range of motion.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: What is the long-term prognosis? I mean, he's a jogger. He's a golfer. He's--what--how soon will he be able to resume all of that?
DR. JOHN DELAHAY: I would think he could be back playing golf in probably four months, four to five months, perhaps it may take a bit longer, but I think four to six months is a good estimate for returning to golf. I'm not sure what it will do for his handicap. And beyond six months I would think it would be an appropriate period to begin gentle jogging, if there is such a thing, some six to eight months for jogging, or perhaps racket sports.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: I read today that this is a very common thing, especially in middle-aged men. What can you tell us about that, briefly?
DR. JOHN DELAHAY: That's a loaded question. I don't want to define middle age. The injury, itself, is far less common than let's take the example of anti-cruciate tears, which I think everyone is familiar with.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: What is that?
DR. JOHN DELAHAY: That's a tearing of a ligament in the center of the knee that's seen commonly in ball players and the like. This injury occurs 1/10 as frequently as that injury, so it is less common cruciate tears. Nevertheless, it does occur, and the largest population by age group are males typically between the age of 40 and 60.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Why? Because they're trying to prove that they're not between forty and sixty?
DR. JOHN DELAHAY: No. I don't know that that's it. There would be some suggestion that, especially in very active people during their younger years, there have been some low-grade injuries to the tendon in the past. Some would suggest that there are some mild aging changes in the tendon, and that in some respects this type of acute injury was the straw that breaks the camel's back and the tendon ruptured.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Well, Dr. Delahay, thank you very much for joining us.
DR. JOHN DELAHAY: Thank you. FOCUS - COMING APART
JIM LEHRER: Now, to the chaos in Albania. Our coverage begins with a report on today's developments by Gaby Rado of Independent Television News.
GABY RADO, ITN: For the first time in this two-week-old crisis it was the authorities' turn to put on a show of strength, and they did it in the very heart of Tirana. Firing in the air, much as their opponents have done, armed men in police armored vehicles, vans, and private cars took to the streets this afternoon. They wore plain clothes and looked no different from the people who've seized arms against President Berisha. But the message of these men was they would fight any attempt to take the capital by force of arms and would crack down on lawlessness. Their appearance, just after rumors that the President had fled were denied, was intended to show that someone was still in control. Results of the anarchy they're up against could be seen at local hospitals. Reports of the numbers killed overnight by stray bullets in the capital varied between three and eleven. Two were said to be children. Between 70 and 100 were injured. The foreigners trapped in Tirana, but not local people, salvation began to come from the skies this morning. First to appear were Italian helicopters landing on a football stadium. The desperation of the families of diplomats, business people and aid workers to get away produced chaotic scenes as too many tried to board at once. This little girl had to wait for a later flight. More controlled was the evacuation procedure of American Navy helicopters, the contingent of 169 Marines. They landed inside the U.S. diplomatic compound on the outskirts of the city. It was clear the operation had been well rehearsed. Civilians were made to form orderly queues. Security searches were carried out, after which they were then ready for evacuation. The process continued throughout the morning and early afternoon.
LT. BILL DARRENKAMP, U.S. Marine Corps: In the past few hours we've reinforced our security around the perimeter of the embassy, and we evacuated approximately 250 American citizens.
GABY RADO: How concerned are you about the gunfire that can be heard all the time?
LT. BILL DARRENKAMP: Obviously, it's a concern, which is why we brought in the security element, but it's not at this time directed at the embassy.
GABY RADO: The evacuees were to be airlifted through an American amphibious assault, the U.S. Nassau lying in the Adriatic, and from there to be transferred to the Italian port of Grindazi. But the airlift eventually had to be suspended in the middle of the afternoon after the helicopters were fired on from the ground. Also in a helicopter today was the worried figure of the Albanian prime minister of two-day standing, Lashkin Fino. He was flown for talks with the European negotiator, Franz Vranitzky of Austria, on an Italian gunboat. Mr. Fino, his defense minister, and chief of staff asked for an international force of thousands of men, in their words, to prevent the break-up of Albania. They found a measure of sympathy.
FRANZ VRANITZKY, European Mediator: So what the real important point here is to restore public order. The Albanian government says clearly--and I believe them--that they cannot do it on themselves, and they need international help and support. And I think that's what we have to give a very, very urgent thought.
GABY RADO: After the talks with the Albanian premier, Mr. Vranitzky went on to meet 15 leaders of the insurgency in Southern Albania. The menacing presence of armed, plain clothes security forces on the streets of Tirana today introduces new dangers of conflict. Since they appeared this afternoon six people have been reportedly shot dead in the capital in an iron-fist attempt to impose law and order. President Berisha's fate is still unclear, with rumors of his imminent flight from the country resurfacing tonight. If he goes, it may mollify the opposition but enrage the remnants of the old regime.
JIM LEHRER: It's been barely a month since disorder first broke out in Albania, with the collapse of pyramid financing schemes that cost thousands of Albanians their life savings. Margaret Warner has more on this story.
MARGARET WARNER: Now two views on today's developments in Albania and on what it will take to restore order there. Peter Tarnoff is Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs and Congressman Elliot Engel, a Democrat from New York, is founder and co-chairman of the Congressional Albanian Issues Caucus. He was in Albania last Saturday as part of a delegation of Europeans and Americans meeting with Albanian President Berisha and some members of the opposition. Welcome to you both. Let's start--starting with you, Sec. Tarnoff, first of all, let's talk about the evacuation. Why was it necessary to stop the evacuation altogether this afternoon?
PETER TARNOFF, Under Secretary of State: The evacuation was temporarily suspended this afternoon because the security situation had deteriorated. And our forces had to re-evaluate what that situation was, but I have every expectation that it will resume first thing tomorrow morning.
MARGARET WARNER: So you're saying U.S. forces could not protect these helicopters once they were fired on?
PETER TARNOFF: These helicopters came under some fire after having evacuated approximately 500 people, most of whom were Americans but some non-Americans as well, and they estimated that the hostile fire required a reassessment and that was done, but the operation will resume first thing tomorrow morning.
MARGARET WARNER: All right. And how will it resume? Are we talking helicopters again, or are you--other methods?
PETER TARNOFF: That decision will be reached by the military commanders on the ground, but we have assurances that the evacuation will resume first thing in the morning.
MARGARET WARNER: What are the other at least options, if not helicopters?
PETER TARNOFF: Other countries have evacuated people by ship. As a matter of fact, the Italian Navy took off 60 Americans earlier today who were on a beach, and, therefore, it is possible to extract people by ship, and some other countries have been doing that.
MARGARET WARNER: And how many--we heard reports initially that there were some 2,000 Americans in Albania. How many of those want to leave, so how many more do you need to get out?
PETER TARNOFF: It's difficult to say. Most of the 2,000 American passport holders in Albania are dual nationals. They have American passports, but they're also Albanian citizens. And they will have to decide whether they stay or come out. I think we will probably have several hundred more American passport holders who will decide to come out in the next day or so.
MARGARET WARNER: And how long do you think that should take?
PETER TARNOFF: It depends on what the security situation is, but here again I think that we can probably complete the evacuation of all Americans who would like to leave in the next few days.
MARGARET WARNER: All right. Let's turn to what it will take to resolve this, and let me just ask you that. What do you think it's going to take to restore some semblance of order in Albania?
PETER TARNOFF: Clearly, what has to happen is a reconciliation between the various factions and parties. And I think during the course of the day Dr. Franz Vranitzky, who is, as you indicated earlier, the European negotiator on the spot, had a promising meeting on an Italian ship off shore. He met first with the representatives of the interim government, of the government of national reconciliation. And he met afterwards with a dozen or so leaders from the southern cities who had defied the authority in Toronto. In his report to us after the meeting was a positive one in the sense that he believes that it is possible for these two groups to work together, and clearly, there can be no military solution for this situation. There has to be political dialogue, and I think Dr. Vranitzky supported very actively by the United States. We have an American diplomat working with him, is on a good path to trying to establish this dialogue.
MARGARET WARNER: You said clearly there's no military solution but just the quote we heard from Dr. Vranitzky and also others that have been on the radio suggested that, in fact, he was saying some sort of international force would probably be needed. There's no army, no police left to really restore order.
PETER TARNOFF: The government of Albania did request that Dr. Vranitzky endorse their suggestion that a police force go in. That's something that we just learned about that we will study in the coming days, but I think, in any case, the answer to this chaos and this anarchy is political. There must be dialogue between the various factions, and I think Dr. Vranitzky made a very positive move today in getting the parties in the same place and beginning to talk to each other.
MARGARET WARNER: Just going back to this military question though for another minute, can you imagine a situation in which the United States government would commit some sort of troops to some sort of force there if it came to that?
PETER TARNOFF: I don't want to speculate on what we might decide in some future circumstances, but we believe that supporting the political process is the highest priority, something that Dr. Vranitzky has started very successfully, and we will support him fully in that respect.
MARGARET WARNER: Do you think that either the government or the opposition leaders who have been meeting are in enough control to actually negotiate a solution that would stick?
PETER TARNOFF: Yes, I think they have authority. But the government certainly has authority from many of the political parties, including the opposition political parties in the capital. As a matter of fact, the parliament did meet briefly in Tirana today. And with regard to the situation in the South, our information is that the representatives who met with Dr. Vranitzky do have standing, they do come from communities which have endorsed their participating in the process, and I think they are able to represent the hopes and aspirations of the people in the South.
MARGARET WARNER: Now, tell us about the nature of the contacts with President Berisha and what your--what the U.S. government's understanding is of what his intentions are at this point.
PETER TARNOFF: We have had no recent contacts with President Berisha, and, therefore, I can't tell you anything based on our conversations with him. He is apparently still in Tirana, and his future will have to be decided by the people of Albania. Clearly, what is necessary is to have a government emerge which has the support of the overwhelming majority of the people of Albania and who is in that government and who is not in that government will have to be decided by the Albanians, themselves.
MARGARET WARNER: Do you think based on the U.S. government's assessment and analysis of the situation that that will mean he will have to leave, President Berisha will have to leave? Does the crowd seem to be demanding?
PETER TARNOFF: This is a decision for the Albanian people. I think it's all the more important for the representatives of the government and the southern leadership groups to get together to decide what the terms and conditions are for a national movement of reconciliation take place. And it will be up to them to decide who will be in the government and who will not be able to continue to serve.
MARGARET WARNER: All right. Well, thank you, Sec. Tarnoff, very much. Turning to Congressman Engel, give us your sense, after being there just a few days ago, and I know the situation's deteriorated more since you left, but what do you think it's going to take to resolve this?
REP. ELIOT ENGEL, [D] New York: Well, I agree with Sec. Tarnoff. I think that ultimately the solution has to be a political solution. The problem is it may be a case of too little, too late. We, the Americans, have been urging President Berisha for nearly a year since the last elections last May to re-run the elections because they were tainted; they were not deemed free and fair by international observers. He had refused to do so. Last week, he finally agreed to have new elections, and we urged him to build a government of national unity which would hold those elections. He did all that, and the situation has still deteriorated. So it may be a case of too little, too late, and once the genie is let out of the bottle, it's very difficult to put it back in.
MARGARET WARNER: So you are saying you think he might have to leave? It's not possible to get a solution to this without him out of the picture?
REP. ELIOT ENGEL: Well, I think it's a very real possibility; that the question is events have been moving so quickly in Albania even if he left, would that be enough to mollify the rebels? Berisha last week, or this week, the beginning of this week said that the people who were rioting were all socialists; they were former Communists, and that they were all manipulating the scene, that it wasn't the people who had lost the money in the pyramid schemes.
MARGARET WARNER: This is the pyramid scheme that was just referred to, that many people in Albania lost their savings then.
REP. ELIOT ENGEL: Yes.
MARGARET WARNER: Just explaining it. Okay.
REP. ELIOT ENGEL: Yes. And that's what's really driving the people. Well, if, indeed, the socialists were behind it, now that there's a government of national unity, the socialists like the Democratic Party of Sali Berisha is trying to stop it, and they have an inability to do so. The question really is: If the rebel leaders decide that they want to stop now, do they have the ability to do so? Because there are so many guns--there's a proliferation of guns--out there in the streets. The average person now has all these--all these rifles and high power guns, that the question is, all these depots have been broken into, what do you do? How do you restore order? And that, to me, is the real danger.
MARGARET WARNER: So what you're saying is that the opposition figures, many of whom are the former Communists, who are now part of this government, are meeting on this Italian ship, they aren't necessarily at all in control of the rebels, the people in the streets?
REP. ELIOT ENGEL: That's exactly the case. You now have--this thing has taken on a life of its own. You know, the rebels took over a lot of these southern towns without any opposition whatsoever. Nobody met to stop them. They raided the gun depots. It's been easy for them. So now they think that they can just keep doing it. It's really a very big problem, and we don't know if they can be stopped.
MARGARET WARNER: Help us understand one thing. There have been many reports that--at least in Tirana, the capital--that the gun depots were opened up to civilians actually by the government. Do you think that could be true, and, if so, why? Why would President Berisha want to arm civilians?
REP. ELIOT ENGEL: Well, when I was there on Saturday in Tirana- -I've been there a number of times--if you didn't know there was an insurgency in the South, you wouldn't know it. Tirana was calm. It was normal. You didn't know. Now, we did hear rumors on Saturday evening that some of Berisha's supporters had gotten hold of these weapons and that was just a rumor. Like all the other rumors you hear in Albania these days, a lot of them are unsubstantiated. And you really don't know what's true, and what isn't.
MARGARET WARNER: So you mean--do you think that it does appear, however, that he has no army left to protect him, so these are sort of freelancers protecting him?
REP. ELIOT ENGEL: Well, perhaps. I think it's a very real possibility, but, again, we really just don't know. The shame of it all is that we want to see democracy take root in Albania, and it's a very, very small country. And they consider the United States to be their most important bilateral relationship. And it's a shame to kind of see it all go down the drain. I would hope that it's not too late, and I think that we ought to be engaged and we ought to try every diplomatic means possible to have a reconciliation.
MARGARET WARNER: Do you think the United States government is engaged enough?
REP. ELIOT ENGEL: Well, I think we are. I think we will be more engaged in the future. I had a lengthy conversation with Sec. Albright yesterday, and she assured me that the United States will not turn its back; that we will be engaged. And I think we have to. When I was there, it was very clear that they welcomed U.S. participation.
MARGARET WARNER: Do you think Congress, if it came to this, would support the idea of having U.S. involvement in any kind of a peacekeeping mission, any kind of a military presence?
REP. ELIOT ENGEL: No, I don't. I don't think there would be any support for it on Capitol Hill. It was difficult to get support, as you remember, in Bosnia, and the President did it. Congress didn't really support it. I happened to have supported it, but I think there would be next to no support for American troops being put in harm's way in Albania. That's why I think diplomacy is so important and a political solution is so important, and we ought to put the full force of our government behind that.
MARGARET WARNER: All right. Well, Congressman, thank you very much.
REP. ELIOT ENGEL: Thank you.
JIM LEHRER: Still to come on the NewsHour tonight, Shields & Gigot. FOCUS - POLITICAL WRAP
JIM LEHRER: Finally tonight, our weekly analysis by Shields & Gigot, syndicated columnist Mark Shields, "Wall Street Journal" columnist Paul Gigot. First, Mark, the President's accident, all is well, but it does dramatically remind us about how frail everything is in this business.
MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist: Well, it does. And it's easy to forget with Bill Clinton, who is our picture of the President now for more than five years, and jogging and golfing, and, you know, he's a vital, energetic fellow. And the fragility of human condition is underlined.
JIM LEHRER: And the wires are full of it today, Paul, stories about what if he has to have an anesthetic, where he goes under, then the 25th amendment comes with the President and turns the powers over to the Vice President, boom, all triggered by this one- -by a man falling down the stairs.
PAUL GIGOT, Wall Street Journal: Didn't have to do that, of course, because he never went under.
JIM LEHRER: Sure.
PAUL GIGOT: But I think if you think about it what's interesting is that every recent President has had some major medical episode of some kind or another. I mean, George Bush had his heart problem. Jimmy Carter collapsed while jogging. Ronald Reagan had--of course, he was shot--but he also had the cancer--colon cancer. Richard Nixon had phlebitis. I mean, it actually is very common in every presidency that we have something like this.
JIM LEHRER: Yeah. President Eisenhower had a heart attack, when he was, when he was President. All right. On to other matters, gentlemen, the big misunderstanding this week between the White House and the FBI over the information about an alleged Chinese plot to influence the 1996 elections. What does that read like to you, Mark?
MARK SHIELDS: It doesn't quite parse, Jim, that the story is that the FBI, that, first of all, the attorney general has revealed she tried to reach the National Security Council Adviser, now the designate to be the CIA chief, Tony Lake, was unable to do.
JIM LEHRER: Couldn't get him on the phone.
MARK SHIELDS: Couldn't get him on the phone but sent the--to brief--and the people in the briefing, the national security people who were briefed on this Chinese influence attempt, conspiracy, call it what you want, left the meeting, at least one of them, with the clear understanding that the information was not to be disseminated. Now, I have never heard in my time in Washington that if you brief a staff person, the staff person is not permitted, encouraged, allowed to brief and let the person above him or her know--
JIM LEHRER: Particularly if the person is the President of the United States.
MARK SHIELDS: Particularly if the person is the President of the United States. Then the President's reaction was kind of lousy. He said, nobody told me.
JIM LEHRER: Got mad at the FBI.
MARK SHIELDS: Got mad at the FBI. And it did not work. It did not work at any level, and it's the story--it's an explanation that leads to more questions.
JIM LEHRER: Paul.
PAUL GIGOT: It does do that. I think you have to think about it maybe in a little broader context, which is that these FBI stories have been broken by Bob Woodward, most of them in the "Washington Post." It looks to me like they have the feel of a calculated FBI leak from pretty senior levels, the FBI saying, see, we weren't a part of any cover-up. We were paying attention. We had some information, and they're getting it out. And I think the other meaning here, potential meaning is somebody in this administration wants a special counsel appointed because, otherwise, why talk about--leak in public--and somebody's talking to Woodward on three or four stories now.
JIM LEHRER: Not just this story but the earlier story about the six members of Congress who were also briefed by the FBI about the possibility of--possibility of Chinese involvement in campaign contributions.
PAUL GIGOT: And the FBI intercepts of Chinese talking. I mean, it strikes me as somebody in the FBI wants a special counsel appointed.
JIM LEHRER: Well, and of course, as we all know, when you start talking in public print about intercepts, I mean, of course, that's against the rules to talk about methods and processes and all that sort of thing. But here again, this is in cold, in cold print, that somebody had a wire tap is what it boils down to, or a national security agency was listening in, so that's tough stuff. Vice President Gore, has this--there's been a lot of conversation this week about, oh, Vice President Gore has hurt himself terribly as a potential candidate for President in the year 2000. Does that sound terribly premature to you, or does that make sense?
PAUL GIGOT: Well, of course, it's premature. I mean, that's our job. But--
JIM LEHRER: The real--
PAUL GIGOT: But it does underscore one thing, which is that for the purposes of the year 2000 Al Gore is locked in the trunk of Bill Clinton's car, and if Bill Clinton's presidency is troubled, then Al Gore is going to be troubled. And if Bill Clinton has a wonderful second term, then it's going to help Al Gore. And Al Gore's people are already talking about following the Ronald Reagan-George Bush model when George Bush succeeded Ronald Reagan in essentially a third Reagan term. And they want Al Gore to follow that model. But if the Clinton administration, the Clinton presidency is tarnished by something like this, then Al Gore gets tarnished too.
JIM LEHRER: But some people would point out, Mark, this is the first time that Gore, himself, did something beyond--in other words, he's part of the Clinton problem or glory, or whatever it is, but this time it was about him personally in terms of the phone calls and all that.
MARK SHIELDS: It does, Jim. Al Gore's strength, which is considerable and has been recognized, I think, fairly widely in the first term, his closeness to the President, his influence with the President, that he's smart, overnight became almost liabilities. I mean, if he's so smart, why didn't he know what he was doing at a Buddhist temple? And it--beyond that, it just--it just strikes me that Al Gore had had the reputation and, deservedly so, as sort of a Dudley Dooright, the eagle scout who would do everything right in an administration where everything wasn't always done right. And now he looks a little bit like the night hunter out seeking pigeons more. I don't think it's worked for him at all, and I agree with your original question. A day is a lifetime in politics and a week is an eternity. Two weeks ago in town I had six people in the course of three days tell me who do you think Gore--or ask me, who do you think Gore will pick as his running mate? I mean, the inevitability of Gore, and it--it makes absolutely--it's absolutely silly to talk about that. I mean, President Nelson Rockefeller, President Mario Cuomo could tell you about it.
PAUL GIGOT: I would add one other point, though, and that is that what we're seeing slowly emerge here in recent weeks is a contest that was mooted for the last two years between Democrats over philosophy, and I think that's the emergence of Dick Gephardt on Capitol Hill.
JIM LEHRER: A lot of stories about Gephardt in the last couple of weeks.
PAUL GIGOT: In part because he's been assertive. He's gone a long way to undercutting what the President wanted to do on the Consumer Price Index, which was the inflation index that both the President and Trent Lott want to have a commission to have a fix. People think it probably overstates inflation. That would help grease a budget deal, but Dick Gephardt has drawn a line in the sand and said, no way we're going to do that, and the President now looks like he's given into Mr. Gephardt.
JIM LEHRER: Related to what you said a moment ago, Paul, it just occurs to me sitting here, that of course, this whole Gore story was broken also by Bob Woodward in the "Washington Post," the fact that he made all the phone calls and--I mean, do you think somebody is out to get Al Gore as well?
PAUL GIGOT: No, I don't in that case. When I read that story it had--it had the feel of somebody who had just done an awful lot of phone calling to an awful lot of contributors.
JIM LEHRER: The story had--that just kind of flowed in naturally of the thing. Yes.
MARK SHIELDS: Just one thing on the Consumer Price Index, and Dick Gephardt, the Democratic leader, ought to be a little bit careful when he gets good columns written about him by George Will and Paul Gigot in the same week. That's sort of like my encouraging Pat Buchanan to get back in the race and mix things up on the Republican side.
PAUL GIGOT: I'm glad he finally admitted. Pat Buchanan--his biggest supporter.
MARK SHIELDS: Seriously speaking--seriously speaking here, the Democrats just did pretty well in election, national election, where a principal charge against the Republicans was the Republicans wanted to cut Medicare spending in order to finance a tax cut. Now, you come in with the Consumer Price Index at this point, and that does basically save $60 billion. All right. That's the estimate I think agreed upon, and what do the Republicans want to do with it? They want to cut taxes. Now, I mean, at some point in politics you've got to dance with the girl who brung you. And if the Democrats say, okay, let's cut everybody on Social Security; let's not talk about the Consumer Price Index, that's basically saying everybody on Social Security you're going to get a cut.
JIM LEHRER: Which is what would happen if the CPI were cut.
MARK SHIELDS: That's exactly what happens. And at that point, Jim, I mean, I think the Democrats have just given up. They've essentially turned it over. Now, the President might want it, but I mean, I think that's Democrats on the Hill remember an incident when Ronald Reagan was President, wonderfully popular Ronald Reagan, and the Congress, bipartisan, passed catastrophic insurance where they raised the premium, if you recall, on Medicare.
JIM LEHRER: It lasted about three days.
MARK SHIELDS: Danny Rostenkowski's car was surrounded and shaken, and they killed it, and there was a revolt in the country.
JIM LEHRER: They ran.
PAUL GIGOT: I just want to make a point about some of the other girls that Bill Clinton brung to this election. They're called the balanced budget, called modest tax cuts too. The President wants a deal with those, and he has some Republican Congress that he has to deal with, and so he wants a budget deal. And the thing about the CPI fix is it would give you 50, 60 billion dollars' worth of running room to get that deal. What Dick Gephardt is doing is making it a lot more difficult for this President to close that deal and, therefore, to have a significant legacy that he wants on education and other things.
JIM LEHRER: Look, I want to--speaking of the Congress, I want to get comments from both of you on the Senate's decision--the Senate Republican leadership's decision to add the word "improper" to the investigation of campaign finance. First, it was going to be illegal. They wouldn't budget. Then they finally budged, and they got what they wanted. Now what happened, do you think?
PAUL GIGOT: I think based on my reporting what happened is that Trent Lott, the Republican leader, got rolled by his own caucus. He got rolled by about eight people, eight Senators, some of whom are up in 1998, who decided that they were going to vote for Senator Joe Lieberman's amendment to add the word "improper."
JIM LEHRER: And Lieberman is a Democrat from Connecticut.
PAUL GIGOT: Is a Democrat. And I think this is frankly Trent Lott had tried to walk down the middle. He tried to keep together all wings of his party and negotiate a compromise. And he was undercut by these people inside. I think this is the biggest vote of Trent Lott's leadership so far.
MARK SHIELDS: I think it was a major setback for Sen. Lott as majority leader, no doubt about it, but I think the eight Senators who bolted in the Republican caucus, Jim, give lie to the charge in Washington among the cynics that this is not an issue in the country, campaign finance. These are people who are reflecting their own constituencies. Many of them are up in 1998, and they're saying, hey, this is a problem. I don't want to go out in 1998 and run as a defender of the status quo, and the way we do things politically, especially in money in this country. And I think for that reason it was little things do mean a lot, and that illegal and improper was a big difference. It does enlarge a mandate. It does strengthen Fred Thompson's hand. He is a committed reformer. I think it's big time, a big, big difference from where we were a week ago, and I think it's going to just absolutely eclipse the whole House side.
JIM LEHRER: Okay. And I'm going to eclipse you all right now. Thank you both very much.
MARK SHIELDS: He hopes.
JIM LEHRER: He hopes. RECAP
JIM LEHRER: Again, the major stories of this Friday, surgery to repair President Clinton's right knee was successful. Doctors at Bethesda Naval Hospital said the President tore a tendon last night while in Florida. The U.S. military retrieved 400 Americans from Albania and then suspended evacuation flights after Marine helicopters came under attack from Albanian rebels. And thousands of people attended the funeral services for seven Israeli schoolgirls shot and killed yesterday by a Jordanian soldier. We're sorry we ran out of time for David Gergen's dialogue with Gary Wills. We'll reschedule it very soon, and meanwhile, we'll see you online and again here Monday evening. Have a nice weekend. I'm Jim Lehrer. Thank you and good night.
- The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer
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- This episode's headline: The President's Knee; Coming Apart; Political Wrap. ANCHOR: JIM LEHRER; GUESTS: DR. JOHN DELAHAY, Georgetown University Medical Center; PETER TARNOFF, Under Secretary of State; REP. ELIOT ENGEL, [D] New York; MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist; PAUL GIGOT, Wall Street Journal; CORRESPONDENTS: GABY RADO; MARGARET WARNER;
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- MLA: “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.” 1997-03-14. NewsHour Productions, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 25, 2022. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-507-sj19k46p8f>.
- 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 http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-507-sj19k46p8f