MADELEINE BRAND, host:
From NPR West and Slate magazine online, this is DAY TO DAY. I'm Madeleine Brand.
Coming up, debating change in the Arab world.
But first, a look at the week in politics in this country. We'll delve into President Bush's news conference this week where he insisted he is not a lame duck. But it was hard to focus on current political issues when everyone was focused on a 30-year-old political scandal, Watergate, and the unmasking of Deep Throat.
Joining me now is NPR senior correspondent and regular DAY TO DAY contributor Juan Williams.
JUAN WILLIAMS reporting:
Good day, Madeleine.
BRAND: So tell me you're one of all those commentators now saying you always knew Deep Throat was FBI agent Mark Felt.
WILLIAMS: No, not me. No, not at all. I had no idea. In fact, what's been most interesting and really hot here in Washington is all the former Nixon people--Pat Buchanan leading the pack--who've been criticizing Mark Felt as a traitor, a man who engaged in improper behavior that endangered the presidency. It's unbelievable to some, given that Richard Nixon literally was trying to undermine the Constitution and hired people to break into the Democratic National headquarters. But in the current political atmosphere, it's all--seems like all that's gone. It's just back to Republican vs. Democrat, and I guess it's an indication why we don't have as much investigative reporting as we used to in this country.
BRAND: And President Bush gave a news conference on Tuesday, Juan. He talked about a lot of things, including Social Security.
(Soundbite of presidential news conference)
President GEORGE W. BUSH: I'll remind our seniors who are getting a check today that nothing will change. And, yeah, I'm going to continue to remind the people that we've got a serious problem for younger workers.
BRAND: President Bush, at his news conference, still stumping for Social Security and other priorities of his. What were those, Juan?
WILLIAMS: Well, really interesting in that he starts off right away with the argument that the Congress is under the gun to get more done right now, and he specifically talked about a Central American trade agreement, wants them to do more in terms of Social Security, something that he picked up on just yesterday in Kentucky. The president, right now, I think, feels that he has to really put pressure and maybe even point the finger of blame at a moment when his second term is--some say, is in danger.
BRAND: Well, let's talk about his political capital. A lot of people are, you know, whispering those two words, `lame duck.' Has he expended all his political capital already?
WILLIAMS: Well, you know, I don't think that he's expended it all. I mean, clearly he's expended some. You think back to what happened with Terri Schiavo; you think about the ongoing controversy over John Bolton, who has yet to be confirmed; you think about the idea that you have Republicans and Democrats joining hands in the house, which is unusual, as well as in the Senate now on stem-cell research. And so the president, for the first time, is threatening to veto a bill. That would be the first time he's done it in all of his years in office. And you have the sense that people aren't afraid to challenge the president and that he's not gaining traction on his number-one item, Social Security. At the same time, the war in Iraq, the number of deaths continues to climb and American public opinion polls indicate that now most Americans think it was a mistake to go in. It's not worth the cost of lives or money.
BRAND: But he said at his news conference--he pointed to successes. So he got bankruptcy, this historic bankruptcy legislation that was stalled for years. He got that through, class-action lawsuit reform. He's getting some of his federal judges through, finally. So, you know, those are very real successes for the president.
WILLIAMS: But when you look at what he has spent most of his time on, that would be Social Security. Don't forget that he has held 166 events. You know, the administration has done endless interviews on TV and radio, placed opinion columns. So in a lot of ways what you have is even The Wall Street Journal editorial page questioning whether or not this president and this Republican Congress has been effective.
BRAND: NPR senior correspondent and regular DAY TO DAY contributor Juan Williams.
WILLIAMS: Always a pleasure, Madeleine.