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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Interview with Jacob Weisberg, Ann Coulter

Aired July 3, 2003 - 20:37   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

"Bring 'Em on": Some Democrats Called Bush's Remarks Reckless
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. Washington is a buzz about three words uttered by President Bush yesterday. The president was responding to questions about the recent attacks on U.S. troop in Iraq. In addressing whether U.S. resolve there has been shaken, here's a snip it of what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There are some who feel like that, you know, the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is, bring them on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: So is the president just showing support for the troops or could it actually bring on more trouble?

I'm joined now by author Jacob Weisberg. His latest book is "More George W. Bushisms."

I'm also joined by Ann Coulter, political analysis and author of Treason: Liberal Treachery From the Cold War to the War on Terrorism."

Jacob, Ann, good to see both of you. Let's start off talking tonight a little bit about the Washington reaction. We're going to put up on the screen what the Senator Lautenberg, had to say.

He said, quote, "I never heard any military commander, let alone the commander in chief invite enemies to attack U.S. troops."

And then Democratic Presidential candidate Richard Gephardt said, "I have a message for the president enough of this phony, macho, rhetoric."

You're shaking your head yes, macho rhetoric?

JACOB WEISBERG, AUTHOR: Paula, I don't think it's going to really make any difference but it does seem provocative. It's OK for the president to sound tough, but I would say if he asked me whether he should say that, I would argue that that is possibly something that could provoke a reaction that you don't need.

Why should we have more confrontation than we have to have with militants in Iraq.

ZAHN: Did you want the president to say that yesterday or would you have had the president say something different?

ANN COULTER, POLITICAL ANALYST: I agree with him. I think it's a great line. I'm not worried about the president sounding too macho. We are at with these fascist death squads killing American soldiers at a pretty good clip, and they're worried about the president not being lady like in his language?

He needs to show his feminine side?

I really, I, don't understand that at all.

ZAHN: It's not just politicians who are reacting. Earlier today on "CROSSFIRE" a woman e-mailed a letter. I'm going to share a little bit with you now, and she said, "As a wife of a soldier, I find Bush's remarks yesterday, 'bring it on,' most distressing. Not only was it insulting to our serving men and women, but a clear invitation to take more shots at them. Once again Bush proves how insensitive he really is."

Do you understand why she feels that way?

COULTER: No, I think that is ludicrous. The idea that if we don't speak nicely to crazed fanatic whose want to kill us, they might get mad and want to kill us, I think is an insane piece of logic. No, they're going to come at us. What Democrats is upset about is it sounds like a cowboy. It's to macho and I think the American people like that.

WEISBERG: I think this cowboy rhetoric may have some cost. I think it certainly had cost going into the war when we were trying to gather support for going to war with Iraq. And because of Bush's unilateral stance and his hostility toward the Europeans, and his attitude that we didn't care what nobody else thought, I think we went to war with less support than we could have had. I don't think that makes sense. It's fine to strike a pose and say we want Osama bin Laden dead or alive, we still want him dead or alive. But I don't think it helps when you look at the bottom line how can we do this if we're going to do it in the post no effective way possible.

ZAHN: You say it helps because?

COULTER: I don't really care what the French or the Germans think. The American people have considered the matter and they're fighting mad. They've given this due consideration, so has the president, so am I. And this idea that we have to play by Marquis of Queensbury's rules, when we are dealing with savages, I don't think it has much relevance with the American people. It's fine with me if the Democrats want to keep complaining about George Bush being a cowboy.

ZAHN: You have got Jacob rolling his eyes.

WEISBERG: I would say there are a lot of people who aren't savages, who are trying to decide in a lot of parts of the world what they think of the United States, whose side they're on. They're hanging in the balance and we're better off both in terms of there being less terrorism in the future, in terms of our troops being safer in Iraq, and whatever other countries we end up going into, whether it's Liberia or anywhere else. If we provoke and alienate as few of us people as possible. It just seems (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to me.

COULTER: Wait. But could I just say, you are saying that someone is considering, shall I blow up American troops or shall I'm not and what really pushes them over the edge is, darn, that George Bush, he said bring it on, now I'm going to do it?

WEISBERG: It's not as simple as that. It's -- obviously. But there are kids who are getting messages from us and messages from terrorists that would like to recruit them into their ranks and who are going to be taking one direction or another 10 years down the road. It affects how we're thought of. It affects our place in the world.

COULTER: I think that we do want them to think that we're cowboys and we're ready to shoot back.

ZAHN: I want to talk a little bit about the issue of language, which you have concentrated on over the last couple of years. Jacob Weiseberg has gotten a couple of book's worth out of President Bush's syntax slip-ups.

WEISBERG: So far.

ZAHN: So far.

Do you think there's more in you or more in the president?

WEISBERG: One more in the works.

ZAHN: The president has gotten material out of, how should we say unique patterns. Listen to this from the 2001 White House correspondent's dinner.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: I want justice and there's an old poster out west, as I recall that said "wanted, dead or alive."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: That obviously wasn't the right tape but you should replay for what he said tonight. I actually have it written down. Do we have it ready?

The president was very...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: Here is my most famous statement. "Rarely is the question asked, is our children learning? Let us analyze that sentence for a moment. If you're a stickler, you probably think the singular verb "is" should have been the plural "are." But if you read it closely, you will see I'm using the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) plural subjunctive tense, so the word "is" are correct.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: Another more material for your book?

WEISBERG: He was very good that night. You know, when I was collecting these starting in the 2000 campaign I really didn't know how he was taking it. And I was just delighted that he had a sense of humor about it and he rolled with it with it the way he did at that dinner.

ZAHN: Do you collect Bushisms?

COULTER: No, because I'm concerned about how the rest of the world views us.

ZAHN: That's the shortest answer you've ever given me, Ann Coulter.

Jacob, congratulations on your book. Ann Coulter, yours as well.

COULTER: Thank you.

WEISBERG: Thank you, Paula.

ZAHN: I thought you two would be busy going into the holiday. Glad you spent a little time with us this evening.

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