CNN’s ‘The Situation Room’ Wheels Out Aging Rockers Against Bush

Tuesday’s "The Situation Room" featured two segments with aging rockers who voiced their opposition to Bush administration policies - the first with Crosby and Nash (but not Stills), and the second with Paul Simon. In the first segment, CNN correspondent Carol Costello interviewed the two hippie icons, who compared the Bush administration to a "junta." In the second, host Wolf Blitzer asked Simon about his opposition to President Bush’s veto of the expanded SCHIP program.

Both the Crosby/Nash segment and the Simon segment aired in the 5 pm Eastern hour of "The Situation Room." While Crosby and Nash used fiery rhetoric against Bush, Simon used subdued language. All three wore coats and business shirts, compared to the "rocker garb" of their youth.

Costello interviewed Crosby and Nash at Washington National Cathedral, where the two were to perform at a "peace concert." In their rant against President Bush, Crosby and Nash completed each other’s thoughts, as if they were telepathically-linked.

A partial transcript of the segment:

COSTELLO (voice-over): Graham Nash along with David Crosby at the National Cathedral. Veterans of the antiwar movement, they're singing for peace, again. They worry what the president calls the war on terror, especially Iraq, has taken the power out of protest, because of what they call Bush's ‘brainwashing.’ They say the administration has conned Americans into thinking it's unpatriotic to criticize the war.

GRAHAM NASH, MUSICIAN: It's the administration controlling the populace.

DAVID CROSBY, MUSICIAN: It's an old stuff...

NASH: It's old style. This is...

CROSBY: You can watch -- you can watch all of these same moves out of any other dictatorship or junta or, you know...

NASH: Emperor. Any...

CROSBY: This is...

COSTELLO: Are you comparing the Bush administration to that?

CROSBY: They use the same techniques. It's not any different. The same exact techniques. Look over there. Those people are different. Why, it must all be their fault. Nonsense.

NASH: Let's have a common enemy so we can unite against them.

CROSBY: Yeah.

NASH: Whoever they are.

CROSBY: Meanwhile, I'll rake off a few billion here. Nothing to it.

NASH: Take away your civil rights. You won't feel a thing.

At the conclusion of the segment, Blitzer thanked Costello, and added, "It brings back some memories, watching that piece of yours. Appreciate it."

In Blitzer’s segment with Simon, Irwin Redlener, who runs an organization called the Children's Health Fund with Simon, appeared with the musician. Simon tried to pull at viewers’ heartstrings, while Redlener got more specific about health care and SCHIP.

A full transcript of the Simon/Redlener segment:

WOLF BLITZER: Just two weeks ago President Bush vetoed a bill that would have dramatically expanded a popular children's health insurance program. The music legend Paul Simon is joining the effort to persuade Congress to override that veto. Another showdown vote is planned for Thursday. And joining us now, the artist Paul Simon and Irwin Redlener. He's the co-founder together with Paul of the Children's Health Fund, himself a pediatrician. Guys, thanks very much for coming in. It's not every day where Paul Simon says it's important enough to come to Washington, go up to Capitol Hill and get involved in an issue. Tell us why you're here.

PAUL SIMON, MUSICIAN: Well, Irwin and I founded the Children's Health Fund about 20 years ago. They're mobile pediatric units staffed with doctors and nurses that serve poor communities around the country. And over the years, I've been watching this issue of children's health care, and my observation is that people speak as if they care, but they don't really care.

BLITZER: But you're really upset that the president has vetoed the expansion of the so-called SCHIP program, the state children's health insurance program.

SIMON: I think -- I really think we need to have protection for all of these children.

BLITZER: I want you and Irwin to listen to what the president says in explaining why he thinks the Congress has simply gone too far in this expansion.

PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH, UNITED STATES: I happen to believe that what you're seeing when you expand eligibility for federal programs is the desire by some in Washington, D.C., to federalize health care. I don't think that's good for the country.

BLITZER: All right, Irwin, you've been involved in this issue in a long time. What do you say to the president?

IRWIN REDLENER, PRES., THE CHILDREN'S HEALTH FUND: Well, first of all, there are many health care programs that have been federalized for years very successfully; Medicare for example, Medicaid for the very poor. The one group that has been left out of the mix right now are the middle class and especially low-earning middle class families, where there's not enough money to buy insurance. Their employers don't provide it very often, and they're making a little bit too much money to afford Medicaid. All we're trying to do is help out a very important group of lower middle class working people.

BLITZER: The opponents of this expansion point out some families earn as much as $83,000 a year.

REDLENER: They might, although the states have a right to limit as much of that as they want to. But the point is that for example $80,000 in a rural part of the country may buy a whole lot more than it might, for example, in New York City or Chicago or Los Angeles. So, it's very hard it be that nit-picky about it. We're try to set some limits so that it is fair, that people who are not making a lot of money, even if you're making $80,000, by the way, insurance premiums might be $1,200 or $1,300 a month, which makes it essentially unaffordable even for them.

BLITZER: Paul, what's the major point? You're telling lawmakers, who may be on the fence right now, and urging them to go ahead and try to override the president's veto.

SIMON: I think it's a very pure issue. I think that there are children who are vulnerable because they're not covered. I don't think that this is a scam by people who are earning $83,000 to make money off the government. I think we have a large portion of our population, millions of children who are not covered and need to be covered, and I would hope that the people who supported the veto will reexamine their conscience and their hearts, and change their votes.

BLITZER: And do you think they will?

SIMON: I think some will, yes. I don't know if enough will to change the outcome of this next vote. But I think, eventually, we will find that the children will be covered.

BLITZER: Paul Simon and Irwin Redlener, thanks to both of you for coming in.

SIMON: Thank you for having us.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center