Guest: Mona Bauwens, Charles Sennott, Yuval Steinitz, Lynne Cheney, Jerome Chen, Ken Ralston
ANNOUNCER: DEBORAH NORVILLE TONIGHT.
DEBORAH NORVILLE, HOST: Yasser Arafat—a hero to some...
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The man who united the Palestinian people.
NORVILLE: ... To others a terrorist.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was the godfather of al Qaeda and bin Laden.
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NORVILLE: Could the death of the Palestinian leader breathe new life into Israeli Palestinian relations? What happens next? Second lady Lynne Cheney. She crisscrossed the country supporting the GOP ticket.
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LYNNE CHENEY, WIFE OF VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY: Looks like Bush-Cheney country to me!
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NORVILLE: Now Lynne Cheney‘s back on the road with a new message for America‘s future voters.
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CHENEY: Our children should also study the past for the inspiration it offers.
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NORVILLE: Tonight, I‘ll sit down with the vice president‘s wife to reflect on the nation‘s past and its future under George Bush.
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CHENEY: I tell you, I feel so proud to be an American!
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NORVILLE: All aboard “The Polar Express.” But how‘d they do that? It‘s unlike any animated movie you‘ve ever seen. Tonight, a rare behind-the-scenes peek at the magic that turned Tom Hanks from this to this.
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TOM HANKS, ANCHOR: Well, you coming?
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ANNOUNCER: From studio 3K in Rockefeller Center, Deborah Norville.
NORVILLE: And good evening. With the passing of Yasser Arafat, have the odds of reaching peace in the Middle East suddenly improved? Arafat‘s body has been flown from Paris for a funeral tomorrow in Cairo. It will be a military affair, complete with a horse-drawn carriage. Representatives from some three dozen countries will be there, including the United States. More than on that in just a moment.
As the body arrived in Cairo, an extremely emotional Suha Arafat could not hold back her tears as her husband‘s casket was removed from the plane. Meantime, outside the Ramallah compound where Arafat was confined for almost three years, a time during which peace was also stuck on hold, hundreds of mourners have gathered around a makeshift shrine as they say goodbye to a man who came to personify their hopes. They may say hello to something they‘ve never known, peace.
Yasser Arafat was a man of contradictions, a terrorist, a killer, and a visionary, earning him a share of the Nobel Prize for Peace. But he was never enough of a diplomat to make the concessions that ultimately could give his people what they wanted, a place to call home. So the question tonight, could Arafat‘s death open a path to peace in the Middle East?
I‘m joined this evening by Charles Sennott. He is the Middle East correspondent for “The Boston Globe” newspaper. He‘s covered the region for over a decade. Also with us this evening, Mona Bauwens. She is the daughter of a former PLO finance minister who worked under Yasser Arafat and has known Mr. Arafat since she was a little girl. Both of them join us tonight from London. And also joining, Yuval Steinitz. He is a member of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, and currently the chairman of it‘s foreign affairs and defense committee. And I thank you all for being with us.
And I want to throw the question out—you hate to think a man‘s death is an opportunity, but many are saying that there is now a window through which peace could be achieved. How big is that window? Let me start with you first, Mr. Steinitz..
YUVAL STEINITZ, CHAIR, KNESSET DEFENSE COMMITTEE: Well, it is still too early to say. Arafat was really a terrorist. And unfortunately, he returned to terrorism and violated the peace agreement with terrible suicide bombing and terrorism and incitement.
So as the president of the United States put it in his famous speech on the Middle East, we have to face a new and different Palestinian leadership. Yet Arafat created the reality of terrorism and incitement and counterterrorism, and this is reality, which is on the verge of a culture of terrorism and (UNINTELLIGIBLE), will be difficult to change. It will take time and effort by a new Palestinian leadership to try change this reality.
This reality has, unfortunately, its own impetus, and we shall have to wait and see not just if we shall face more willing and more moderate Palestinian leadership, but more capable Palestinian leadership that is ready to fight terrorism, to dismantle terrorist organizations, to stop the incitement. And only then, we Israelis, we shall feel that we face reliable partner that should negotiate with.
NORVILLE: But having said that, sir, does that mean the Israeli government is open to the possibility that the new leadership, when it is in place, might be leadership that it can deal with?
STEINITZ: Yes. We hope so. We are looking forward with some hope. But again, this reality will not—it‘s impossible to change it in one day, nor even in few weeks. It will take months, if not years, to change this reality, to change the direction...
NORVILLE: All right...
STEINITZ: ... from terrorism and incitement to more peaceful coexistence.
NORVILLE: Let‘s see what our other...
STEINITZ: And by the way—by the way, it‘s not just up to the Palestinians. Palestinians‘ terrorism was encouraged by Arab states in the vicinity with incitement, with financial aid, with logistical aid. And we have to put pressure on the Arab world to change this policy, to change the...
NORVILLE: Let me go to...
STEINITZ: ... anti-Israeli incitement that...
NORVILLE: ... woman who knows a little bit about that side...
STEINITZ: ... encourage terrorism.
NORVILLE: Let me stop you there, and let‘s go to you, Mona, in London.
NORVILLE: Ms. Bauwens, what do you think about the size of window that might now have conceivably been opened by the passing of Yasser Arafat?
MONA BAUWENS, DAUGHTER OF FORMER PLO FINANCE MINISTER: I think it‘s a wonderful, wonderful window of opportunity, but I don‘t think it‘s helpful when we hear these kinds of Israeli statements that we‘ve just heard. Look, this is a time, this is a new chapter, and we‘ve got to accept that the Palestinians have been living under occupation. This present Israeli administration has always said the obstacle to peace has been Arafat. So OK, he‘s dead now. Let‘s move on. Let‘s really try to build a new bridge between both people.
We can‘t continue like we are. And I think it would have been very, very significant if Israel, in this very emotional period for Palestinians, irrespective of what you thought of Arafat, to have given or signaled some kind of gesture towards the Palestinians.
NORVILLE: What gesture would have been good for you?
BAUWENS: Well, I think it would have been very—I mean, I think it would have been very significant had they allowed Arafat to be buried in Jerusalem. I think it would be very significant if they released Marwan Barghouti. I think all these things indicate to the Palestinian people that there is a genuine willingness for both parties to get on with each other.
NORVILLE: Charles, you have covered this region for more than a decade. You had an opportunity to speak with Yasser Arafat for a lengthy interview just last December. When you‘ve heard both of these two viewpoints expressed, give us the middle ground. How big is the window? How much of an opportunity? How steep is the mountain to climb?
CHARLES SENNOTT, “BOSTON GLOBE” MIDEAST CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, Yasser Arafat stood at all of 5-foot 2-inches, and he cast this enormous shadow on the world stage. And as he makes his final exit, I think we all have a new world, as we come out of that shadow of Yasser Arafat. And I think there is a real genuine opportunity here, but I‘d say it‘s an opportunity in the short term.
When we see an orderly transition of power, which seems to be unfolding before us in the short term, an interim government, we‘re going to have a man in power for a while, in Rawhi Fattouh, who is from Gaza, who is a bit of a technocrat, not that well known, not that much of a character. And that could be a good thing because he could be just the right man to implement a withdrawal from Gaza.
In the long term, I‘m much more guarded and much more pessimistic. I think the core issues remain very difficult to solve. I think any Palestinian leader who wins an election is going to have to win a genuine election. and for a genuine election to happen, the Israelis are going to have to permit that election to happen. The Palestinian leadership is also going to have to run an honest and fair election. But it‘s actually going to take two of them working together to create some semblance of democracy.
And in the long term, the question is going to be, can a Palestinian leader really accept anything short of what Yasser Arafat had at Camp David and turned down? I think it‘s going to have to be, at a minimum, as good as that deal. And in fact, there‘ll be a lot of pressure on him, this new leader, to do better than that. And that makes me think we have a long way to go.
NORVILLE: Well, that deal back in 1999 that was negotiated when Ehud Barak was in charge of Israel was mutual recognition. It ended the violence. It was a deal-breaker, though, for Yasser Arafat that East Jerusalem could not be the capital. Mr. Steinitz, is there a possibility that a deal at least as good as what didn‘t go forward in 1999 could be back on the table when new leadership is in place?
STEINITZ: Well, this is not our position. And now I speak on behalf of the current government and the current coalition. We are ready to make painful concessions (UNINTELLIGIBLE) including (UNINTELLIGIBLE) territorial concessions, but we will have to preserve minimal security arrangements and security zones.
NORVILLE: Such as?
STEINITZ: But the main problem for us is not just to find Palestinian leadership that we can speak with, even that we can get—agree on concessions and agreement with. Even with Arafat, with Arafat—we weren‘t speaking with Arafat. We even got Nobel prizes with Arafat. The problem with Arafat was not that we were unable to speak with him but that he violated all the previous commitments, all the previous agreements.
Now, in order to really be able to promote peace, we shall need to see a more moderate Palestinian leadership that is ready to make concessions, and this is difficult, and that is ready to already fulfill—to immediately fulfill the previous commitments to prevent violence and terrorism. This is a very difficult task...
SENNOTT: Can we jump in here?
STEINITZ: ... because...
NORVILLE: Yes, go ahead, Charles. Go. Jump in, Charles.
NORVILLE: Let our guest in London speak just a second, sir. Go ahead, London.
SENNOTT: I was just going to say that, you know, both sides violated the agreement that was laid out in Oslo. There was violations by the Israelis in terms of not fulfilling the requirements of implementation, or at least going so slow that pressure built and a really—a tense situation developed in which the Palestinians realized their lives were worse, not better, as a result of Oslo.
And actually, the Camp David summit was the summer of 2000, not 1999.
SENNOTT: And if we‘re going to see any movement forward, another thing that‘s going to have to happen—and I think most of the Middle East analysts are saying this, and I think they‘re right. The United States government is going to have to play a much more active role. The Bush presidency has decided to kind of put the Israeli-Palestinian conflict aside while it dealt with post 9/11, Afghanistan, Iraq. And a lot of experts in the region would say that may have been a miscalculation, that the core problem in the Middle East, a deep problem that can lead to resolutions of other problems, that can help in the war on terror...
NORVILLE: If you could get Palestinian question settled.
SENNOTT: Exactly. So we‘re going to have—I think we‘re going to see a lot of pressure coming from Europe to get the United States back involved. And that‘s actually what Tony Blair is there in Washington, I think, to say today and tomorrow.
STEINITZ: I would like...
NORVILLE: Mona, please.
STEINITZ: I would like to...
BAUWENS: I think one of the...
NORVILLE: Mona, go ahead.
BAUWENS: I would just like to just answer your question. I think the most important, the best way for Israel to have security is by having a genuine, legitimate peace with the Palestinians. You cannot force peace on people. You‘ve got to work together, co-exist. And I think if Israelis and Palestinians keep repeating the same old arguments and counterarguments, we‘re not going to move forward. I don‘t think it‘s helpful for anybody to make statements, We need moderate leaders to deal with. It‘s up to the Palestinian people to choose.
And I think, with all due respect, whether we like it or not, in order to get a genuine peace, you‘re going to have to include all the Palestinian factions into the equation. You‘ve got to sit with them around the table.
NORVILLE: Let me ask you this, Ms. Bauwens...
SENNOTT: It might be interesting...
NORVILLE: Let me ask you this, Ms. Bauwens. I know that the Palestinian national covenant still officially does—does not call for—still officially calls for the destruction of Israel. Is that not something that new leadership ought to just take care of, because there have been statements in the past that they no longer hold to that?
BAUWENS: Well, I don‘t think...
STEINITZ: You are asking me?
BAUWENS: ... they hold to that. I mean, I don‘t—no, no. They don‘t hold to that. Look...
NORVILLE: But it‘s still in the covenant.
BAUWENS: ... we can get into an argument of the suicide bombers, the targeted assassinations. It is a vicious cycle, and it will continue if we keep trying to argue in the same way. I think we have to have the vision and the courage to really put the past to the past. We‘re never going to agree about our history, our perspectives or how we arrived at it. What we can agree is to make a commitment to move forward.
And I think, you know, let‘s give it a chance. As a mother, what do I want for my child? I want my child to be able to go to school without the fear of being blown up by an Israeli missile as “collateral damage.” And by the same premise, I want an Israeli mother to know that she can send her child to school without the fear that it‘s going to be blown up by a bus.
That is what I think every parent in the world wants. Look,
NORVILLE: I think that that is the perfect statement...
BAUWENS: ... have known...
NORVILLE: ... that we can all agree on. And unfortunately, we‘re going to have to end it on that right there. Charles Sennott, Mona Bauwens in London, Yuval Steinitz, thank you very much.
MSNBC, we should note, will have complete funeral of the coverage of the funeral of Yasser Arafat. Brian Williams will be anchoring coverage, which begins at 4:00 AM Eastern time right here on MSNBC.
ANNOUNCER: Coming up: She‘s a mom, a grandmother, an author, and the nation‘s second lady.
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LYNNE CHENEY, WIFE OF VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY: If you don‘t mind my saying so, the vice president is no slouch, either!
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ANNOUNCER: Lynne Cheney on America‘s history and its next four years.
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CHENEY: What an honor it is to have family connections to this administration!
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ANNOUNCER: And later: Climb aboard for a wild animated ride with Tom Hanks.
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TOM HANKS, ACTOR: If I were you, I would think about climbing on board.
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ANNOUNCER: We‘ll let you in on the secret behind the magic of “The Polar Express.”
DEBORAH NORVILLE TONIGHT is coming right back.
NORVILLE: If you‘d just spent the last year pounding the pavement to get your husband elected vice president, what would you do next? Well, if you‘re Lynne Cheney, who pulled out all the stops, hitting the road and criss-crossing the country for the Bush-Cheney ticket, you put pen to paper and you write your third children‘s book. It‘s called “When Washington Crossed the Delaware,” and it aims to teach children the true story and the courage and patriotism that led to the founding of our nation.
And Lynne Cheney joins me now. We want to talk about the book a lot in just a second. But first I want to ask you, have you recovered from the campaign?
LYNNE CHENEY, WIFE OF VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY: You know, I think the hard part is suddenly having free time.
CHENEY: It‘s such a commitment, you know, and it‘s such an important thing to do that you become totally absorbed in it. My daughter, Liz, said, you know, it‘s like you‘re doing the most important even on the planet one day, and the next day it‘s over. But of course, we‘re very happy that it‘s over the way it‘s over.
NORVILLE: It‘s over the way it‘s over. And it‘s also—I wonder if there‘s a sense of, Whew! We don‘t have to do this again. Because it is your husband‘s last campaign.
CHENEY: Well, that‘s true, but you know, there‘s something really thrilling about a campaign, seeing all the parts of this amazing country, meeting so many people, feeling as though you‘re working for a cause that‘s larger than yourself and something you truly believe in. So there‘s something really positive about campaigns.
NORVILLE: There‘s got to be negatives, too. What is the down side to this endeavor?
CHENEY: Well, the down side, of course, is that campaigns do get a little contentious. And the different sides—I mean, you know, we‘re so convinced that it‘s important that we win, the other side is so convinced that it‘s important we win—they win that, you know, there is a lot of contention that goes on. And that‘s not always pleasant.
NORVILLE: Does the personal get under your skin?
CHENEY: Sure. But what you learn to do—and this is, of course, not our first campaign. We‘ve been through them before. You know, you learn to put that behind pretty quickly because you don‘t want that to absorb your energy. You want to, you know, spend your energy on moving ahead, being positive, getting out your message. So sure, it does, but you do learn to have a pretty thick skin in politics.
NORVILLE: And compartmentalize, too, I imagine, just kind of put that over in that box, and I‘m going to get really furious about this later...
CHENEY: Well, I don‘t really...
NORVILLE: ... because right now, I can‘t be distracted.
CHENEY: A little, you know, but it‘s more—we have a campaign to run. We have a campaign to win. And you don‘t want to get—you don‘t want to get tied down, bogged down in anything that‘s negative.
NORVILLE: How would you rate the media‘s coverage of this past election?
CHENEY: Well, I suppose that everyone who‘s on the national stage would complain. And I suppose I would complain a little bit, too, but...
NORVILLE: What would you complain about?
CHENEY: Oh, gosh, sometimes a focus on things that are trivial, sometimes a “gotcha” mentality, you know, wanting to take words you might say and take them out of context. I‘m sure both sides would complain about this. I certainly would.
NORVILLE: And when you look at the results—I mean, during the campaign, your husband and the president, Senator Kerry, Senator Edwards, talked about war, talked about terror, talked about jobs. And then the exit poll comes out and says the No. 1 thing for voters was moral values.
NORVILLE: What does that say to you?
CHENEY: Well, you know, I think if you look at those exit poll results, they really said that the war—that security was the most important. If you added together the numbers for Iraq and the war on terror, that was clearly the predominant concern. If you added together the numbers on taxes and the economy, that was the secondary one.
But I do think values were important. And I think values are, you know, important to parents, especially. I know, as a grandparent, I sometimes sit in the living room and just cringe at the ads that are coming over the television set or, you know, cringe at things that are being shown. I have a 10-year-old granddaughter, a 7-year-old, a 4-year-old. And I think that a lot of people are worried about the coarsening of the culture. But I do think in the campaign that security was the main issue. And I surely felt that when we were out on the trail.
NORVILLE: While the president doesn‘t set cultural values, he certainly is a figurehead.
CHENEY: That‘s correct.
NORVILLE: And I‘m curious about what you just said about there‘s so much dreck on television. And a lot of us, this parent included, sit with the hand on the off button because if something inappropriate comes up, I don‘t want my kids to see it. And yet there are others who say, Well, you know, this is a large world and there are many different facets, and there‘s this sort of relative aspect to, Well, we should really be more understanding. Where do you come down on that?
CHENEY: I don‘t know. I mean, you know, we do have free speech. It‘s a real dilemma. So we do have to let people express themselves. But I think there‘s a level of responsibility that maybe people in charge of advertising on television should take into consideration. I think there‘s a level of responsibility that people in charge of programming should take into consideration. It‘s very hard, you know, because people are driven by the bottom line.
NORVILLE: But if you say things like that...
CHENEY: But I do think...
NORVILLE: ... people say, Oh, you‘re being judgmental.
CHENEY: Well, judgmental...
NORVILLE: And they say to it me, too!
CHENEY: Hey, I‘m happy to be judgmental. What I don‘t want to be is censorious. We live in a society where, you know, the government should be should not be involved in censorship in any way. I think judgmental is great, and I think that if more parents were judgmental in terms of turning it off, changing the channel, not taking their kids to movies that are doubtful, perhaps not even going to movies yourself that are doubtful, that we could each of us help improve the level of the culture.
NORVILLE: Let‘s talk about the administration. Already, there have been the announcements that two people are going. Attorney General Ashcroft will be leaving and Secretary Evans will be leaving. How does that change the complexion of the administration, in terms of moving forward in the direction that it will?
CHENEY: I don‘t know, you know, if there‘s a—be a changing complexion or not. I think both men have served the president honorably and well. We know Don Evans the best. We‘ve had him at our dinner table many times, and we will certainly miss him. And I think John Ashcroft did a good job and a tough job at a hard time.
NORVILLE: Do you feel that he was unfairly attacked for some of his positions?
CHENEY: Sure. When you go out on the campaign trail and you talk about the Patriot Act, Americans are very happy to have the Patriot Act in place, particularly if you get a chance to talk about it. You know, what the Patriot Act involves is really using on terrorists the same law enforcement techniques that we‘ve used for years on drug dealers. So it‘s not, I think, what it sometimes has been portrayed to be. And Americans are very glad to be sure that people at the Justice Department are concerned about our nation‘s security.
NORVILLE: What role will your husband have as vice president in advising President Bush on these replacements? Or does he just sit back and the president says, Here‘s what‘s happening?
CHENEY: You know, the thing—the thing that Dick always is very clear about is not talking about what advice he gives to the president. So I‘m sure he‘ll give lots of advice, and I‘m also really sure he won‘t talk about it.
NORVILLE: His health has also been a question. He‘s had a number of heart procedures, and the first—what, he‘s 37 years old, so he‘s a very young man when he began dealing with this.
CHENEY: You know, we‘re so lucky. We‘ve lived in an age when medicine has just made a perfectly normal lifestyle possible that wouldn‘t have been if he‘d been, say, in his father‘s generation or his grandfather‘s generation. So we feel enormously blessed that he‘s been able to lead such a full and normal life.
NORVILLE: There‘s always been this undercurrent of how much influence does Dick Cheney have on George Bush, that he plays a far larger role behind the scenes than one might know publicly.
CHENEY: You know, Dick has always been very careful not to talk about the role he plays behind the scenes. And given that that is his posture, I suppose it would be good if it were mine, too.
NORVILLE: Doesn‘t it damage the president, though, to even have that undercurrent of talk out there?
CHENEY: This is a very strong president. And I particularly perceived that when we were out on the campaign trail. You know, people—there were so many reasons he was elected, I think. But part of it is that he‘s a man of such steadfast character, that he‘s got such convictions, that he has a clear sense of right and wrong. I don‘t think there‘s any sense in which people conceive of him as being less than a very forceful leader.
NORVILLE: And finally, before we start talking about the book, you played a very large role in the campaign, as did Mrs. Bush...
CHENEY: I did. And I enjoyed it.
NORVILLE: ... and the other spouses. What—there‘s kind of a couple of schools of thought. You‘re an independent woman. You‘ve had many successful career moves on your own. And yet you‘re kind of out there propping up a husband, some would say softening your husband. Is that distressing to hear that?
CHENEY: You know, I think that campaigning for national office is such an amazing experience that anyone who gets a chance to be part of it up close and personal is very, very privileged. And it‘s not only myself that feels that way. Our daughters do, too. I think our granddaughters do, as well. It was a really great family undertaking for us and I think one that we‘ll never forget.
NORVILLE: Well, there were some cute moments on the campaign trail when those granddaughters were being hoisted up.
CHENEY: They‘re pretty cute.
NORVILLE: And it‘s history. And we‘re going to talk about history in just a moment...
NORVILLE: ... which we know is one of your passions. Back with Lynne Cheney right after this.
NORVILLE: Back now with Lynne Cheney, the wife of the vice president and the author of a new book called “When Washington Crossed the Delaware.”
This is your third children‘s book and this one is quite different from the others. This is a moment in history. Why is this one so important to you?
CHENEY: You know, I love these moments in history when everything changes. Things are headed in the one direction and then there‘s a change. And, usually, there‘s some great individual who is responsible for this new direction.
In this case, Washington at a time when our nation was losing the Revolutionary War, at a time when it looked as though like we might be an English colony forever, at a time when his soldiers had been driven back and back and they had no shoes and no clothes and no food, Washington decided to go on the offense.
CHENEY: And he changed the course of history, he and his brave men. They defeated the Haitians at Trenton, the British at Princeton. In 10 days, days that began on Christmas Eve in 1776, they gave us our history. They gave us a free nation. It‘s an amazing story.
NORVILLE: This is the story of America during its earlier days. And one of the things you point out in the book is, this democracy that many of us sometimes take for granted almost didn‘t happen. And the message is, it is hard work.
CHENEY: Well, it is hard work, but it‘s also that it is not inevitable. We have been given this great gift. We do live in freedom. And it is such a remarkable and wonderful thing for us.
NORVILLE: Hearing it was not necessarily inevitable, that America could be a democratic nation...
CHENEY: That‘s right.
NORVILLE: One has to assume that it is not necessarily inevitable that democracy will take root in Iraq. And Americans are putting their lives on the lines to try to ensure that that happens.
And it is also not inevitable that our own democracy will continue if we don‘t fight for it and stand up for it at every turn. The brave men and women who are fighting in Iraq are doing something quite wonderful in terms of helping the Iraqi people realize God‘s gift to all of us, as the president likes to talk about it, which is freedom and liberty.
But they‘re also creating in that country, by working toward a democratic institution, they‘re creating a stability that will keep that country from becoming a haven for tyrants and terrorists once again. I‘ve heard Dick say many times, and the president say, freedom is the best antidote to terrorism. Countries do not become terrorist havens, they do not give sustenance to terrorists, when people are free and can turn their energies toward peaceful pursuits and building families and homes.
NORVILLE: It is also said that those who don‘t study history are doomed to repeat it. When you look at America‘s history, are there moments that you think are cautionary tales for our future?
CHENEY: When I look at our history, I see a tale of progress and advance.
Washington and his men were fighting for independence, freedom. But, of course, this is a time in which we had slavery. This is a time in which women couldn‘t vote, couldn‘t to go college, couldn‘t own property. If you look at the story of our country, it is such a positive arc. We have made such advance on all those levels, that that is how I tend to see the whole course of our nation‘s story.
NORVILLE: And yet values change. It was OK for George Washington to have slaves, because that was done at those times; 250 years later, of course, it is unthinkable.
CHENEY: But Washington himself was deeply troubled by slavery.
NORVILLE: And, in fact, freed them all when he died.
And one of the interesting things that I think Peter did a great job of capturing in this book is that there were people of African descent fighting in the Revolutionary War. Some were slaves, but some were free Africans, free African-Americans. The Marbleheaders, who were absolutely crucial, the Marblehead Battalion, absolutely crucial for getting us across the Delaware, getting the Americans across the Delaware, were from Marblehead, Massachusetts. They were sailors and fishermen, but they were also an integrated regiment. There were Africans in that regiment.
And if you look closely in the book, you‘ll see the African-American participation.
NORVILLE: This is a passion for you. And it is something that you get on the soap box about and preach on a lot, because you think Americans don‘t know enough about their history.
CHENEY: I think I‘m trying to persuade.
NORVILLE: OK, preach, persuade, whatever.
NORVILLE: You got a message and the message is, you don‘t think we know enough about where we came from to get to where we are today. Why is it so important?
CHENEY: Well, I think it is knowing how difficult it was to get freedom in the first place, knowing how difficult it has been all along to keep this society free. And it‘s sort of knowing how fortunate we are is a very good place to start.
I also think our kids should feel very proud about being Americans. We‘ve kind of gone through a phase where we looked at the dark and gloomy parts of our national story. There‘s so much that‘s positive here. And in the books that I write, I try to make that so clear to kids. We are just amazingly fortunate and should be so proud.
NORVILLE: But don‘t you think we‘re back there? I mean, after 9/11, there was such a surge of patriotism. The flag makers couldn‘t keep the flags in production for the demand that was out there. Don‘t you think that we‘re past that and most Americans feel good about being an American? They may have disagreements about national policy.
CHENEY: I‘m not sure how much we‘ve advanced in terms of what we‘re teaching our kids about history. You‘re right.
NORVILLE: Do you think they spend too much time on the dark side?
CHENEY: The feeling of patriotism is there. And that‘s for sure.
But I just think maybe they don‘t know enough about heroes. And we have so many heroes and heroines in our past. The reason I wrote “A is for Abigail” is be sure people understood the women who have contributed so much to this country. I think that having these big looming figures as role models is so important to our kids.
Abraham Lincoln, there‘s a wonderful quote from him in the beginning of the Washington book. He had this—the idea of this amazing venture across the Delaware and into winning our freedom firmly in his mind. And I think all of our kids should.
NORVILLE: So let‘s project forward 50 years. What do you think the legacy of the Bush-Cheney administration should be?
CHENEY: Well, I think what it will be is that we—this administration met the challenges of our time and overcame them.
The war on terrorism, of course, is the big challenge of our time. And who knew four years ago that it would be that? But this president has really responded in such a positive way to an amazing change in direction. We thought that peace would be forever. We thought that having...
NORVILLE: Communism ended. Life will be beautiful.
CHENEY: The Soviet Union fell apart. This is such a different kind of threat. And he‘s entirely changed our national strategy to deal with it. That will be the legacy, I think.
NORVILLE: And if studying history is to apply the lessons of history to our own lives, 50 years from now, there will be only one person who is the president, only one person who will have to specifically apply the national lesson.
But what is the individual lesson that you would like to think in the future folks take from this period in America‘s history?
CHENEY: Well, I think that it is the amazing resilience of our citizenry, that I think we were all proud to see our great nation rise up after 9/11 and comfort those whose lives have been changed forever, still are changed forever, but, also, the kind of support that the president has had, as he‘s had to take us in a new direction and fight a new kind of fight.
NORVILLE: And, finally, you dedicate your new book to your newest grandson.
CHENEY: I know.
NORVILLE: A little boy.
CHENEY: He was so smart. He was born just in time to get it dedicated to him.
NORVILLE: Smart kid. He got in the book.
What‘s the legacy that you would like him to take from you and your husband?
CHENEY: Well, again, it is about what an amazing country we live in, how fortunate we are to live in freedom, how we ought to recognize that and understand that freedom hasn‘t been free, and how we ought to appreciate the people, especially the military, who, in the beginning, and yet today, sacrificed so much so that the rest of us can lead the lives that we do.
NORVILLE: You ready for the stress of the next four years?
CHENEY: Listen, after the campaign, I think it is just going to be easy.
NORVILLE: Lynne Cheney. The book is called “When Washington Crossed the Delaware.” It is good to see you.
CHENEY: It‘s good to talk to you.
NORVILLE: Thanks for coming in. Take care.
CHENEY: Thank you for inviting me.
NORVILLE: My pleasure.
We‘ll be back.
ANNOUNCER: Up next, do you know this guy?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE POLAR EXPRESS”)
TOM HANKS, ACTOR: The train appears to be accelerating uncontrollably.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Tom Hanks like you‘ve never seen him before.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE POLAR EXPRESS”)
HANKS: The most real things in the world are the things we can‘t see.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Hollywood special effects wizards take us for a ride behind the scenes of “The Polar Express” when DEBORAH NORVILLE TONIGHT returns.
NORVILLE: The film “Polar Express” is being called a techno marvel, blending actors and computers like never before. How did they do it? We‘ll tell you right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE POLAR EXPRESS”)
HANKS: Is this you?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Yes.
HANKS: Well, it says here, no photo with a department store Santa this year, no letter to Santa. And you made your sister put out the milk man cookies. Sounds to me like this is your crucial year. If I were you, I would think about climbing on board.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NORVILLE: Believe it or not, that was Tom Hanks in a scene from “The Polar Express,” which is the mega budget holiday movie that opened Wednesday.
It is risky business to take on a beloved children‘s tale and turn it into a movie. And when you‘re reimagining old Saint Nick, the pressure is really on. “Polar Express” is based on the classic children‘s book written by Chris Van Allsburg about a young boy in an American suburb whose faith in Santa Claus is beginning to wane. Van Allsburg‘s lush, dreamy images set a new standard for children‘s book illustration and won a Caldecott Award in 1986. And now the film version has taken special effects to a new level, blending live action and digital technology in a kind of look that you‘ve never seen at the movies before.
So how do they do it?
Well, joining us from their edit suite at Sony Pictures Imageworks in Los Angeles are the men behind the magic, two senior visual effects from “Polar Express,” five-time Oscar winner Ken Ralston, along with Jerome Chen.
And, gentlemen, thank you for being with me. I appreciate it.
NORVILLE: Ken, let me ask you, why do a movie this way? Why not just go shoot a story as beloved as “Polar Express” the old-fashioned way with cameras and sets and costumes and lots of actors?
KEN RALSTON, VISUAL EFFECTS SUPERVISOR: The main mandate from Zemeckis, who directed the film, was to try to capture a sense of an art piece more than a live action film.
And so, based on using Chris Van Allsburg‘s artwork as inspiration, we started to try and find a look that would still encompass some of the fantasy and the magic elements of it. And then the other problem would be then getting a subtle complicated human performance from Tom and all the other actors to come through the characters that we were creating. So it was this interesting blend. And I wouldn‘t know any other way to do it.
Jerome, tell me how you all got together and dealt with the challenge of combining all those things and the technology that you had to use to make it happen.
JEROME CHEN, VISUAL EFFECTS SUPERVISOR: Well, we found that when Bob basically said, we want Tom—he wanted Tom to play not only the conductor, but the boy and the numerous other characters, and he didn‘t want it to be animated, we had to create this technology that would somehow capture Tom‘s performance and allow it to be transferred to different digital characters. So you have a case where Tom can perform as a boy and as a conductor. And we figured out a way to basically take the performance, record it into the computer and transfer...
NORVILLE: Let me just stop you, because we see some footage of Tom Hanks behind the scenes. He has got on what looks like a scuba diver suit with little guides on it and what looks like little pins all over his face. That‘s by design.
These are special markers placed on Tom, and surrounding this place where Tom is acting is a volume of special cameras that pick up the motion of the dots. And the computer records these dots as information. And then you can take this motion and place on it any character you want.
NORVILLE: And, Ken, I have heard this film is incredibly expensive, something like $1 million a minute to shoot this. Is that folklore in the movie world? Or is that close to how expensive this kind of technology is?
RALSTON: That was mainly my salary.
RALSTON: But it kind of comes close. It is actually the same sort of price you get from some of the animated films that are out there. So we actually kept the price as low as humanly possible doing this kind of an unbelievably complicated movie, especially since we were kind of breaking a lot of new ground, that we didn‘t have any kind of other films to, like, steal ideas from.
NORVILLE: When you look at the finished product of Tom Hanks there as the conductor talking on the microphone, it sort of looks like him, but it looks enough not like him that it could be anybody else. I wonder if this technology doesn‘t have the potential to replace great Oscar-winning actors like Hanks and the rest of them.
RALSTON: Well, the beauty of this is, I guess, in the worst-case scenario in some instances, it might.
But, really, you can‘t duplicate what Tom is putting on the screen or the other actors. That is a special talent. And even though Tom plays not only the conductor, but the boy and like three other characters in it...
RALSTON: What he‘s bringing to the role and the serendipity of that and the magic of that can‘t be duplicated any other way.
NORVILLE: Jerome, I know any time you do something, something always doesn‘t go as planned. What was the unexpected surprise that you all had to deal with at some point along the line in production?
CHEN: Well, all of our surprises were actually good, because, when we start out on a project like this, it is a completely blank slate. And we were inventing—we knew we were inventing new ground as we were moving forward in the production. So, when things worked for us, we were actually quite happy. So I would have to say they were all good surprises.
NORVILLE: But the eyes are a little bit different. You can‘t animate the eyes in the same way you did the rest of the bodies, right?
The technology right now doesn‘t capture the movement of the eyeballs. So we have to have animators help us look at the video reference of Tom‘s performance and they animate the eyes. And there‘s other little things we don‘t give you, like fingers. So we have to still have the help of the animator to really flesh out the performance.
NORVILLE: Well, it‘s a different way of seeing a movie and a different way of telling a tale. And we thank you for telling us a little bit about the technology that made it happen.
Ken Ralston, Jerome Chen, good luck in the movies this week.
RALSTON: Thank you.
CHEN: Thank you.
NORVILLE: We‘ll take a break. But, when we come back, turning a lemon into lemonade. It‘s an inspirational story we think everybody could learn a little something from.
And before we head to break, another look at “Polar Express.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE POLAR EXPRESS”)
HANKS: Here, we only got one rule.
UNIDENTIFIED MALES (singing): Here, we only got one rule.
HANKS: Never, ever let it cool.
UNIDENTIFIED MALES (singing): Never, ever let it cool. Keep it cooking in the pot.
HANKS: Soon, you got hot chocolate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NORVILLE: This week‘s “American Moment” honors an 8-year-old girl who could maybe teach a lot of us a thing or two about values.
In the media, we‘ve been talking a lot about that ever since the election, but Alexandra Scott lived her values. She raised $1 million for cancer research, all by selling lemonade. But that‘s not the most remarkable part of her story, because Alex Scott had neuroblastoma. That‘s an aggressive form of childhood cancer. But she never let that stop her.
Alex set up a lemonade stand in front of her suburban home in Philadelphia and ended up with a chain of stands around the country. All of the money goes to help other children with cancer. Alex was $300,000 shy of her goal when she died three months ago. But, on Tuesday, her family and her friends passed that goal. Alex told them that she hoped to raise $5 million next year.
A lot of people who have been touched by Alex‘s courage are now working to try to make sure that that dream comes true. And that is this week‘s “American Moment.”
And when we come back, we may finally have some answers about what people really meant when they said they decided to vote values. That‘s next.
NORVILLE: A lot of you wrote in about our look at what American voters were talking about when they said that moral values were at the core of their decisions on whom to vote for during the elections.
Well, a new poll out by the Pew Organization late today found that somewhere between 14 percent and 27 percent of folks who chose moral values as their most important issue, but not everyone had the same definition of moral values; 44 percent said moral values relates to issues like abortion and gay marriage. But others had just general answers to the candidates‘ personal traits or to the candidates‘ religion.
And here‘s what you had to say.
Alice Rohrbach wrote in and said: “There is one Bible, one God, and our great country was founded on those values by our forefathers. There is no separation of church and state.”
Art Malm writes: “How can a discussion about moral values issues and how the Democrats failed in that area proceed without addressing truth and lies? In this campaign, the news media was unwilling to step forward and call distortion and misrepresentation of candidates‘ views what they were, lies. Absent rational, informed decisions of the electorate, we no longer have a democracy.”
And Cindy Eich wrote in on my comparison between voters supporting moral issues and those same viewers watching those racy TV shows like “Desperate Housewives.” She says: “I believe that the fundamental reason Democrats lost the White House and Republicans won, the Democrats failed to understand the difference between fiction and reality. ‘Desperate Housewives‘ is entertainment. Thinking Americans can enjoy a departure from reality in their entertainment, while clinging to it wholeheartedly in their personal lives.”
We love to hear from you, so e-mail us at NORVILLE@MSNBC.com.
That‘s our show for tonight. Thanks for watching.
“SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY” is next.
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