Monitor Breakfast

Selected quotations from a Monitor breakfast with author Bill Bennett and pollster Frank Luntz.

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Bill Bennett has served as President Reagan's Secretary of Education, President George H.W. Bush's drug czar, and more recently as co-director of Empower America. His latest book is "Why We Fight: Moral Clarity and the War on Terrorism."

Frank Luntz is founder of Luntz Research Companies, a polling and political consulting firm. He is also the author of "Candidates, Consultants, and Congress."

The two guests discussed Mr. Luntz's new poll of college students about their knowledge and attitudes regarding the war on terrorism. More information on the poll is available online.

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On the finding that 37 percent of college students said they would be likely to evade a draft if one were reintroduced:

Luntz: "I can only imagine the disruption on college campuses if the president suddenly called for [a draft]. Based on this data, the disruption on the campuses would be remarkable.

"One great thing about it is [that] we would have the kind of discussion we want to have. It would actually force them to think about the role of America. There would be a great debate, but it would be loud and intense."

On the link between church attendance and willingness to serve:

Luntz: "We can draw a direct correlation between religiosity and partisanship and attitudes toward the war and willingness to serve...Atheists, agnostics, those who never attend church are by far more likely to say they would avoid the draft.

"Those who attend church on a weekly basis are much more likely to say not only would they respond to a draft, but they would go where they were sent rather than making a moral judgment (that) 'I will only serve in America.'"

On the finding that 79 percent of students do not believe Western culture is superior to Arab culture:

Bennett: "This suggests what is in my mind a confusion among many college students between tolerance, and understanding and judgment. Many of them have incapacitated themselves from making judgment on the belief that to be open-minded means one does not make judgments of better or worse when it comes to nations or cultures. I think that can be a problem."

"Why is it so difficult to clear your throat and say this is the greatest nation in the world? For kids...they can't say it. They have been told it is not polite, or you don't seem sophisticated, or you just shouldn't say it. I think you should say it. I think you should say it loud and clear, particularly in a time of war."

On the finding that only 19 percent of students could identify Condoleezza Rice as national security adviser and only 32 percent could identify Donald Rumsfeld as secretary of defense:

Bennett: "You can now largely [bluff] your way through most American campuses. So I think the burden falls, unfortunately, on the least well-paid and least-rewarded and recognized people: the elementary and secondary school teachers.

"What I conclude from this as a former Secretary of Education is we have got to teach the facts somewhere. Somebody has got to be reading the newspaper sometime. You have got to know who the secretary of state is at some point in your life."

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