THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP
HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN
JOINED BY: TONY BLANKLEY, ELEANOR CLIFT,
JOHN FUND AND CLARENCE PAGE
TAPED FRIDAY, AUGUST 6, 1999
AIRED THE WEEKEND OF AUGUST 7-8, 1999
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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: "You Talk too Much."
Hillary Clinton talks about her husband, some say "talks too much." In the premier issue of Talk magazine, the first lady tells us why she thinks her husband has been compulsively unfaithful. Why does he to it? There was a terrible conflict between his mother and his grandmother.
Well, that raises a question of, "Was grandmother part of the vast right-wing conspiracy?"
HILLARY CLINTON: (From videotape.) (Begin in progress) -- this vast right-wing conspiracy that has been conspiring against my husband since the day he announced for president.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question; so which is harder to swallow: Grandma made Bill do it? Or nothing was done by Bill; it was all a "vast right-wing conspiracy"? John Fund.
MR. FUND: John, I guess it's time to throw grandma from the train.
In that same interview of the "Today Show," the first lady said it would be a very serious public policy question if the president were indeed to have been involved with an intern half his age in the White House. She has forgotten that.
The worst part of this interview, John -- and Tony has also said this -- is there is nothing in there about the rest of us, the 260 million Americans who had to suffer through this, parents having to explain it to their children. Where is the country in this? Where is any sense that perhaps this damaged the country and she might want to extend some words of sympathy to us? (Laughter.) Instead, it's all about her.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: Oh, give me a break. You loved every minute. (Laughter.) It's been great for the Wall Street Journal; it's been great for ratings.
She would have been a lot better off maintaining a dignified silence. But what she said was explaining, not excusing. And, you know, life is complicated, and events can shake someone.
MR. BLANKLEY: It seems baroque, though.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?
MS. CLIFT: (Inaudible) -- does not excuse --
MR. PAGE (?): Baroque?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony, we have to move on this. We have more pieces of this interview. Tony?
MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah. What I found most revealing about it was the fact that she said the reason she wanted to run for the Senate was because she wanted to be free at last and do things for herself, totally unconnected to New York and New York interests.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you mean, we are now involved in Hillary's --
MR. BLANKLEY: Group therapy.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- program of self-improvement?
MR. BLANKLEY: It's group therapy for her. (Laughter.)
MR. PAGE: Well, let me say, John Fund, with all due respect, asking you about the right-wing conspiracy is like asking Charlton Heston about the gun lobby.
MS. CLIFT: Right.
MR. PAGE: (Laughs.) But the fact is, Hillary stepped on it herself this time. I mean, she has no one to blame but herself for even bringing Grandma and Ma into the discussion. And that just led to all of the reading people have --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, let's pursue that a bit. Hillary is bashing Grandma now, but what did Hillary say in 1992 about Grandma?
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: (From a videotape of a 1992 film, "The Man from Hope.") He was able to read at a really young age, in part because his grandmother valued it so much and helped him so much.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Which Hillary are we to believe, the Hillary of 1992, who extolls Grandma's virtues, or the Hillary of 1999, who blames Grandma's abuse for her husband's shortcomings? I ask you, Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: Well, first of all, the grandmother did teach him to read. The grandmother loved him so much, she tried to get custody of him. That's what Hillary is talking about -- that there was a fight over custody because the grandmother didn't approve --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hillary --
MS. CLIFT: -- so there's room for complexity here, John. Two ideas can be correct.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. Eleanor says that we lack nuance in reading Hillary, right?
MR. BLANKLEY: All right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now what do you think? Do you see a conflict in what she said in '92 about Grandma?
MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, look -- well, see, tonally, the whole point of what she said then was complimentary about the grandmother-grandson relationship.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.
MR. BLANKLEY: And then in this interview, it was the opposite. The point is here -- and the danger for her and her election campaign -- is that she doesn't seem credible. She's losing her veracity.
MR. FUND: John, people --
MR. BLANKLEY: And that's going to hurt her in her relationship with her electorate.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, I think that really started in earnest when she declared Jerusalem to be indivisible and eternal, which, Mort Zuckerman told me last week when we were off-camera -- not that he would not have said it on-camera -- that that cost Hillary votes in the Jewish community. He said that 20 -- she lost 20 percent of the votes in that community.
Let's move on.
MS. CLIFT: But that doesn't bear up under scrutiny, John; the polls don't say that anymore. (Chuckles.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So are we getting into the question of Hillary's basic truthfulness? Are we prepared to compare the equivocations, the falsifications, the lying of Hillary with her husband? Are we prepared to say that Hillary --
MR. PAGE: John, the worst problem -- John, the worst --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- Hillary -- is Hillary as good a liar, as facile a liar, as frequent a liar, as effective a liar as Bill?
MR. PAGE: John, John, you're missing the point. It's not a question of lying. The question is what is true coming out here. What is true is that Hillary Clinton appears to be groping for excuses for her husband, and that, real or perceived, is what's really damaging in her --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Let me go on with this, and we can work these comments in. I know that they have vast insight -- energy connected with them.
Okay, only the half of it. Bill Clinton's childhood at home was one of alcohol, violence, chaos, the interview says. Then Hillary says, "That's only the half of it." Well, what's the other half?
MR. PAGE: Wouldn't you like to know, John~~! (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that even darker -- is it darker --
MR. FUND: John, people --
MR. PAGE: Wouldn't you like, to know, John!
No, this is what looks like the wife getting back at the mother-in-law and the grandmother-in-law, who are both in the grave. I mean, it just looks unsavory. We don't know what the other half of it is, and who really cares? Why should we care? She said --
MS. CLIFT: Well, there was a struggle -- there was a struggle for his affections, and that's what she's talking about. But look. She's forgiven him. She's still married to him. And you may not like her rationalizations, but she's entitled to them as his wife. And frankly, her polls have done better in the wake of this, as real people weigh in. It's the media needs to get a life here.
MR. FUND (?): There's been one poll. (Laughter.)
MS. CLIFT: I mean, this obsession with the Clintons' marriage is absurd!
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I understand, Eleanor; but there's another way of looking at this, and that is that Hillary says: You know, the victimization that was perceived about me in connection with Lewinsky, et cetera, really helped me in the polls; maybe victimization for my husband might help too. So he was victimized by his grandmother and his mother, and it really determined him to be what he was, so that he is excused from lacking personal responsibility; it was too completely Freudian controlled, so to speak.
MR. FUND: John, you never fight the last war. And the problem is, Clinton fatigue is turning into Clinton exhaustion. People like to read Gothic novels, they don't like to have them experienced in the White House. That's what we have, a Gothic novel.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Parsing Hillary.
REPORTER: (From videotape.) Do you stand by the quote in the article, that you feel your husband's personal problems, issues, are related to child abuse at the age of four?
FIRST LADY HILLARY CLINTON: (From videotape.) Well, I think a careful reading of that would show I did not say that.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, Hillary, here's a careful reading of what you said. Quote: "He" -- Bill -- "has become more aware of his past and what was causing his behavior." Unquote. Now, is parsing of words as Hillary does, with obvious equivocation and falsification intent, is that -- does that remind you of her husband, Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: You know, I remember, when the whole Lewinsky scandal broke, sitting around on this set and listening to various people expound on the addictive personality and what was it in his background that created this. You know, we live in an age of therapy, where people, if they have any common sense at all, try to explore their past. This is not lying. This is not manipulating. This is basically trying to explain behavior that seems so incredibly destructive.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think? Is it a simple explanation?
MR. BLANKLEY: Everybody on the planet probably immediately thought of the phrase, "It depends what `is' is." And that's what her husband said, and now she's saying it's what "it" is.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. "I'm kosher." That's what Hillary says. She surprised New Yorkers this week, revealing that her Grandma Della married twice, and that Grandma Della's second husband, Max Rosenberg, was Jewish. Max and Grandma had a daughter, Adeline, Hillary's late half-aunt. Hillary's staffers say that Hillary was very close, just like family, with Della, with Max, and with Adeline.
Question: Will this revelation win Jewish votes for Hillary Clinton? Will it lose them, or will it factor out?
MR. PAGE: I suppose just about every candidate can find someone Jewish in their family. But this kind of reminds me of her becoming a Cubs (sic) fan overnight.
MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.)
MR. PAGE: This is taking it to more of an extreme. But this was revealed by the Daily Forward, one of the leading Jewish newspapers in America. Whether or not it's going to win a lot of votes, I rather doubt it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think -- what are you hearing in New York about this?
MR. FUND: What I'm hearing is that we clearly have a Papa "Pander" Bear in the White House and we clearly now have a Mama "Pander" Bear in the White House. (Snickers from group.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What does that mean?
MR. FUND: I think this was planted by the first lady as a distraction device.
MS. CLIFT: Well --
MR. FUND: And I think it's true, and that's fine. I think she -- just like Madeleine Albright, I'm happy to see people discover their old roots. But this is clearly timed --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We've got to get out.
MS. CLIFT: The author of the piece says it did not come from anybody in the Clinton camp. So unless you really have a pipeline here --
MR. FUND: Well, third parties. Third parties. He said it came from a tipster.
MS. CLIFT: And -- and, you know --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute!
MR. FUND: He said it came from a tipster.
MS. CLIFT: Wait a second! George Bush claimed four states that he was from. It's a time-honored political tradition --
MR. FUND: Are we changing the subject? (Laughter.)
MS. CLIFT: -- it's a time-honored political tradition to find things in your roots that people can relate to.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you want to say something quickly?
MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah. Next week we're going to find out she's one-twelfth Puerto Rican.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: One-twelfth Puerto Rican?
MR. BLANKLEY: Next week.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit: Will this Talk interview prove to be a net-plus or a net-minus for Hillary?
I ask you, John Fund.
MR. FUND: It leaves her looking silly and it leaves him appearing as an emotional cripple, which is not a good thing for a president to appear. Friends of the president are quoted in the article as saying he's going to seek therapy after he leaves office. He doesn't need therapy. He needs a moral compass.
MS. CLIFT: Well, you know -- you know, John Fund --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well --
MS. CLIFT: -- you can't stand the fact that President Clinton's poll ratings are in the 60s --
MR. FUND: Twenty percent want him to seek a third term. Twenty percent would want him to get a third term. Twenty percent.
MS. CLIFT: -- that he's a successful president. He's hardly a basket case. His resilience -- his resilience is remarkable.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's your answer to my question, net-plus or net-minus?
MS. CLIFT: It's a total wash.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's a wash?
MS. CLIFT: It's a media feeding frenzy in August.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A draw? A draw?
MS. CLIFT: A total draw. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?
MR. BLANKLEY: I think it's actually a substantial negative for her. I think it's going to come back to haunt her. And it also shows a very heavy hand that she has in politics, unlike her husband, who has a much subtler touch.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?
MR. PAGE: The most damaging thing is that she is not totally aware of how she sounds when she speaks. If she learns her lesson from this, though, she's got more than a year to make up for it. I think this could just be practically forgotten by this time next year.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: She sounds as though she's creating her own reality. This was a net-minus. It was a mindless event.
When we come back, so what is it with General Wesley Clark, Supreme Allied Commander of NATO? Sorry to see you go, or good riddance?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two: Reining in Clark.
Washington was mystified last week when Secretary of Defense Cohen announced that General Wesley Clark, NATO Supreme Allied Commander, would have his tour of duty cut short, and this after, quote, unquote, "winning" the war. But as the details from Kosovo emerged, so also do details of Clark's alarming recklessness.
At one critical point in the Kosovo war, after the bombing stopped, when the Russians and NATO were each trying to get a toehold in Kosovo, Clark almost went over the edge. Eager to prevent the Russians from taking the Pristina airfield, Clark ordered a NATO airborne assault to take the field first.
But British General Mike Jackson, Clark's subordinate, refused to carry out Clark's orders. Quote: "'I am not going to start World War III for you,'" -- unquote -- "Jackson told Clark," reports Newsweek. Both men went to their superiors, Clark to Clinton and Jackson to Blair. Both Blair and Clinton denied Clark and supported Jackson.
Question: Does this revelation convince you that General Clark may have deliberately ordered the bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, said embassy being a powerhouse of electronic spying gear?
MR. BLANKLEY: No -- (laughter) -- it doesn't convince me.
It does convince me that the Clinton spin machine is now out doing even more damage to Mr. Clark's reputation, once they have gone ahead and cut his head off, which is what they did. People throughout NATO, in Europe and in the Pentagon are very disturbed by the punishment that this winning general has got for winning the war for the president. And this is part of a smear campaign.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you know, Christopher Dickey was one of the persons that reported that, and he is not one to just take spin and hand it out. I think he also reported from Europe. He is a fine journalist.
MS. CLIFT: Right. I want to speak to that, since this report appeared in Newsweek magazine. And we don't just print spin, Tony, and you should know that.
MR. BLANKLEY: No there's things as well as spin, in -- (laughter) --
MS. CLIFT: No. And that --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Maybe what you're giving us is spin, Tony?
MR. BLANKLEY: No.
MS. CLIFT: -- this episode has not been refuted. But what this tells me is that General Clark, like many military people, is a gung-ho military type. And that's why we have civilian control; I mean, this was stopped appropriately in the civilian chain of command.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Fund, let me hear from you. You have been quite hawkish on this issue in the past. Do you think that, if Clark had gone forward with his airborne assault on the Russians in Pristina, that there would have been a very serious consequence to that action; not necessarily World War III, but real trouble?
MR. FUND: We clearly have someone who is a protege of the late General MacArthur in terms of his gung-ho attitude and perhaps his belief in getting ahead of the civilian authorities. And I think a far more serious issue right now is what's going to happen to Montenegro, which is trying to break away from Serbia. We do have to support the pro-Western government there. That's a fight worth having.
MR. PAGE: Wait, John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There's another important issue, too, and how are we going to stop the Albanians, the KLA, and the citizens from killing Serbs?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Before we go back to you -- now, we haven't heard from Clarence, I mean, this is an equal opportunity employer, here. (Chuckles.)
MR. PAGE: (Chuckles.) Thank you, John, I appreciate that. What was your question again?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: My question was, what do you think of the basic proposition here -- any one of them? Do you think that this man could have conceivably, deliberately bombed the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade?
MR. PAGE: Well, think of Clark as being a standard field commander who wants to do everything -- wants more forces, much like Schwarzkopf wanted to go all the way to Baghdad, had to be pulled back by Colin Powell and other folks back in Washington because that wasn't part of the larger strategy.
What I don't understand is why are they punishing Clark this much? There's something going on here that we're not hearing about because this sort of a -- (inaudible) -- is pretty serious.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I think what's being discovered by the press is, at least their perception, that Clark is a military psycho.
Exit -- so let's try this again. Is it "Sorry to see you go" or is it "Good riddance" to General Clark?
I ask you, John Fund.
MR. FUND: You can see the imprint of their boots on his posterior as he leaves the door.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So you think it's "Sorry to see you go"?
MR. FUND: No, no. They've booted him out.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think? Do you think it's good riddance?
MR. FUND: For him?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: For us.
MR. FUND: Look, we are going to have a --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Don't give me a speech now, just give me a simple answer.
MR. FUND: We're going to have a NATO protectorate for 40 years there.
MS. CLIFT: Look, he's not a psycho. He had his rotation moved up by two or three months. It was time for a change. (Laughter.) No more conspiratorial than that.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is the line that we were protecting the retirement fund of General Ralston.
MS. CLIFT: Well, we are!
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you believe that tripe?
MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, the political player in Washington.
Look, I was against the war, but I think the General did a good job in carrying out his orders. I don't think he was insubordinate in any way. There should be no hint of that. And I think it's too bad that he was kicked out the way he was.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?
MR. PAGE: Yeah, well I think he did do a good job, and I think he was punished in order to send a signal to other field commanders, and I think it was excessive --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, actually he did an evil job. It was almost saturation bombing. Totally unjustified morally, and counterprodutive, as we are seeing with every passing day.
Issue three: At last, tax relief!
PRESIDENT PRO TEMPORE OF THE U.S. SENATE: (From videotape.) The yeas are 50, the nays are 49, and the Conference Report to accompany H.R. 2408 is agreed to.
(Excerpt from Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus" is played.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Senate and the House have now both done it, passed a 10-year, $792 billion tax cut for the American people. The bill is the largest tax break since Reagan's in 1981. The foundation of the 18 years of almost uninterrupted economic growth. The bill will be sent to President Clinton in September.
Question: Clinton sent Congress a crystal-clear veto threat, and Congress ignored him. Does this signify Clinton is losing political clout? Tony.
MR. BLANKLEY: No, unfortunately, it doesn't. The veto threat is going to be effective. I wish it wasn't going to be. He's going to veto it, and I think Congress will have a hard time dealing with that veto.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm glad we're coming up to a vacation period, because your pessimism is now overwrought.
MR. BLANKLEY: (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: Tony's absolutely right. The veto is real. (Laughter.) Clinton has authority. And whether they will ever engage in real negotiations, I don't know. But I want to commend you on your choice of music in this show, John. (Laughter.) It's a great range.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to ask you. Let's suppose he does veto, and let's assume that Congress in September and October brings him another tax cut bill. Will he veto that one?
MR. FUND: Yes, but it sounds like welfare reform; the third time might be the charm. This is a modest bill. It's 3.8 percent of revenue over the next 10 years; 3.8 percent.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And the bulk doesn't kick in until the year 2006.
MR. PAGE: I think this is where the sausage-making process begins now. And it may take another veto, but they're going to settle on a number, and I think it's going to be probably under --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think this may be the -- the first one may be vetoed, but the second one will not be vetoed.
Issue four: Global warning. The U.S. has been besieged. Alabama, three dead; Georgia, 13; Colorado, 15 youths murdered in a suicide-massacre. But there is also terrorism in the rest of the world, and it is scary. This weekend marks the one-year anniversary of two U.S. Embassy bombings in Africa. The State Department has issued its highest worldwide alert for all Americans everywhere. The bombings in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, are said to be the work of Saudi terrorist Usama bin Laden, whose targets, say the State Department, "are not distinguished between military and civilian," unquote.
In the two embassy attacks, 224 dead, 12 Americans; 5,000 injured. In the past year, 68 embassies temporarily closed, 4,000 new guards posted; $1.5 billion spent on embassy security worldwide. Still, just 31 of 270 -- that's one in nine embassies -- are considered safe. And the FBI has halted its tours of the J. Edgar Hoover Building in Washington, D.C. The fear is that the long hand of bin Laden will finger U.S. territory.
Question: Did the U.S. bring this on itself? Clarence.
MR. PAGE: Only by being the biggest kid on the block. This is inevitable when you're in a role of being the main stabilizing force in the world, particularly when --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't think the erroneous bombing of the pharmaceutical plant in Khartoum or the bombing in Afghanistan or the 60-plus days of bombing that's now going on in Iraq, or the sanctions in Iraq, that you don't think Muslims on the street talk to Muslims on the street?
MR. PAGE: Well, it's not to say --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think -- you don't think our action in Kosovo is not inflaming --
MR. PAGE: I don't think Iraq, Kosovo -- none of this justifies what Bin Laden is doing. Whenever you take this kind of action, you're going to get a reaction.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who's talking about justification? We're talking about whether or not one of the negatives of what Bill Clinton has done is create a world in which all Americans are at maximum risk notice by the Department of State all over -- wherever you are in the world.
MR. PAGE: (Chuckles.) The end of the Cold War has something to do with that.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think of this?
MR. FUND: It would have been a lot more sensible, at the end of the Cold War, if we had closed down or downsized a lot of our embassies, and let the Chamber of Commerce handle some of this, because I think we do have too big an imprint around the world. We do.
MS. CLIFT: Well --
MR. PAGE: (Laughing.) (Inaudible) --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So you think it's a question of the size of our embassies?
MR. PAGE: There you go.
MS. CLIFT: I would like to point out that Bin Laden's organization has not staged any terrorist attack in the year since we retaliated. And I rest my case.
MR. FUND: Obviously, one is coming.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I feel a lot more comfortable now, especially since I'll be traveling.
MS. CLIFT: Good, John. As long as you're safe, I'm -- (laughs) --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We'll be right back with predictions.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions.
MR. FUND: John, cable television is going to be in mourning because talk show host Jerry Springer is not going to throw his chair into the ring of the Ohio Senate race.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's not going to run?
MR. FUND: No.
MS. CLIFT: (Chuckles.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: I'm not going to the track, but I'm going to predict the Iowa straw poll: Bush, number one; Forbes, second; Gary Bauer, third; Elizabeth Dole, four; and Lamar Alexander, five.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Elizabeth Dole is inseparable from the rest of the pack. She's dropped.
MS. CLIFT: Well --
MR. BLANKLEY: So people think, yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you have a prediction for us, Anthony?
MR. BLANKLEY: I have a prediction. I believe that Lamar Alexander will be the next Republican to drop out of the presidential campaign.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: When?
MR. BLANKLEY: Some time after the poll.
MS. CLIFT: (Chuckling.) Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: After what?
MS. CLIFT: After he comes in five in the poll.
MR. BLANKLEY: After he comes in five.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly! Quickly! We're running out of time.
MR. PAGE: More damaging revelations on nuclear secrets after September.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: February 2000, Bill Bradley will win the Democratic caucus in Iowa. Bye-bye!