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The McLaughlin Group

Host: John McLaughlin

Panel:
Pat Buchanan, Author and Columnist;
Michelle Bernard, Bernard Center;
Rich Lowry, National Review;
Mort Zuckerman, U.S. News & World Report

Taped: Friday, May 16, 2014
Broadcast: Weekend of May 17-18, 2014

Copyright © 2014 by Federal News Service, LLC, 1120 G Street NW, Suite 990, Washington, DC 20005-3801 USA. Federal News Service is a private firm not affiliated with the federal government. No portion of this transcript may be copied, sold or retransmitted without the written authority of Federal News Service, LLC. Copyright is not claimed as to any part of the original work prepared by a United States government officer or employee as a part of that person's official duties. For information on subscribing to the FNS Transcripts Database or any other FNS product, please email info@fednews.com or call 1-202-347-1400.

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Cooking the Books.

(Begin videotaped segment.)

SENATOR DEAN HELLER (R-NV): Would you explain to me, after knowing all this information, why you should not resign?

VETERANS AFFAIRS SECRETARY ERIC SHINSEKI: (From videotape.) Well, I'll tell you, Senator, that I came here to make things better for veterans. That was my appointment by the president.

(End videotaped segment.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Embattled Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki was grilled by the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee this week about whether he should resign in the face of a growing management scandal in his agency.
The VA hospital system has a management goal of making an appointment for six veterans to see a doctor within 14 to 30 days of a call. Last month, retired Dr. Sam Foote told CNN that the Phoenix veterans hospital met that goal by cooking the books.

One list submitted to the VA headquarters showed appointment schedules within the goal. The second list, the real list, showed between 1,400 and 1,600 veterans were forced to wait months. Forty veterans are alleged to have died awaiting care. But the VA has only confirmed 17 deaths.

The inspector general's office is now probing whether the allegations are isolated to Phoenix or a part of a larger nationwide scandal.

Veterans' welfare has been a special focus of First Lady Michelle Obama. The White House has gone into damage control, dispatching Deputy Chief of Staff Rob Nabors to the Veterans Administration on a salvage mission. The American Legion, the nation's largest veterans' organization, is calling for Shinseki's resignation.

Question: Has General Shinseki lost the confidence of the nation's veterans? Pat Buchanan.

PAT BUCHANAN: General Shinseki is a veteran, two Purple Hearts in Vietnam, John. I think he's been courageous in the bureaucracy when he was in the Defense Department. I think he's basically a good man. And I don't know that he had any foreknowledge of this scandal and tragedy where something like 40 vets died. It is really a disaster.
But, look, he sits on top of an agency, just the medical and health part and hospital part of the Veterans Administration, 250,000 employees, countless hospitals all over the place. This scandal blew up. And I think as long as he gets on top of it and they prosecute the people that really lied and left these vets hanging, and 40 of them apparently died, I think I would stick with the guy. I don't think initially him sitting in Washington can be held fully responsible and accountable directly for what happened in Phoenix and Fort Collins.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There have been seven previous investigations of the agency. What do you think about the situation?

MICHELLE BERNARD: I completely disagree with Pat. I mean, he could be a nice fellow. We can like him. He has served the country honorably, and we thank him for his service. But, I mean, his attitude alone, quite frankly, is frightening. There have been reports after reports, investigation after investigation. This is just the tip of the iceberg, not to mention, quite frankly, all the stories we've been watching over the last year about other problems with the VA.

We've got men and women who are survivors of military sexual assault who are fighting for benefits in the VA. Other people get disability in the VA for other types of posttraumatic stress disorder. You're not getting it for military sexual assault. It is problem after problem. And, quite frankly, it is a very, very serious issue. And governance starts at the top. We have to have confidence in the VA.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Shinseki has reviewed half a dozen previous reports. Has he failed to connect the dots?

RICH LOWRY: Evidently. And whatever you think of the merits of the two views of Shinseki's direct responsibility, when you're the head of the Veterans Administration and the American Legion has given up on you and says you have to go, you eventually are going to go.

And this is going to be a bipartisan scandal. We saw it when he was on the Hill this week, where Democrats are going to be nearly as outraged as Republicans. And I think the writing is on the wall for him to go.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is this widespread deceit on the part of hospital administrators to this fantastic extent?

MORT ZUCKERMAN: It's totally outrageous. I mean, it has been going on for quite a while. The number of deaths apparently exceeds 40, but I'm sure there are a lot of other illnesses that have not been properly treated. It is almost unimaginable that nobody followed up on this in any kind of way. I just do not understand it. I've been involved with hospitals for decades. I've never heard anything even close to this kind of thing.

So, in my judgment, Shinseki, who deserves to be well treated because of his war record, nevertheless is not in that job at this stage of the game on the basis just of his war record. It's on the basis of how well he's able to manage that department, and he has failed.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it a few bad apples, or is it systemic rot?

MS. BERNARD: It's systemic. It's systemic.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: It's systemic.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think, look, the Veterans Administration -- look, it is government-run health care. It has not been run well. We have had scandals in the Veterans Administration for as long as I can remember. I'm just hesitant to go and say, look, because this disaster pops up, let's go throw this guy to the wolves. Now, maybe he does deserve to go, but I don't think so far it's proven, I mean, the American Legion, with due regard, notwithstanding.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the political exposure of Obama, President Obama? Do you want to speak to that, Michelle?

MS. BERNARD: Well, I mean, we've seen Michelle Obama and the vice president's wife, you know, going out constantly, talking to us about the importance of how we deal with military families. We have so many people coming back from Afghanistan, Iraq and other areas around the world with all kinds of issues, whether they be psychological, mental health issues, physical issues, that need to be dealt with properly.

And this is very important for the Obama administration, because this is his secretary who came in and said I'm going to change the culture of the VA from top to bottom. And as Mort said, he has failed miserably. He has served the country honorably, but this is a very, very serious issue. No one should have to wait months for medical treatment, particularly after coming home from serving our country.

MR. LOWRY: Yeah. And politically, it'll play into the narrative of the administration's incompetence, coming so quickly on the heels of the HealthCare.gov disaster. But this is a problem endemic, not just to the VA, but to single-payer type health care systems, where you have an unaccountable bureaucracy that ultimately is not about the consumers but about its own interests.

There's a reform bill in the Congress, John, that would seem so commonsensical, you would think it would have been adopted decades and decades ago, just giving the secretary the power to fire top management when they're engaged in malfeasance. You know, the person who is heading the Phoenix facility that's at the center of this hasn't been fired yet.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is Obama standing by Shinseki because he doesn't want to face the travail of another health fiasco?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, I think, look, whether you like it or not about Obama, I will say this. He doesn't fire people easily. I mean, look at --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that a good idea?

MR. BUCHANAN: -- Kathleen Sebelius. He stood by her. There's a part of that that I like, quite frankly, that he doesn't just throw somebody to the wolves when the press comes after him. And again, I don't think it's completely proven --

MS. BERNARD: He'll be shocked to hear that. (Laughs.)

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, look, the -- it is -- when you say it's endemic, it is. I don't know how you get this system, with 250,000 people all over the place, as you mentioned, all these people pouring in, all these veterans from Korea and now second -- I mean, World War II -- and that you're not going to have these kinds of problems.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: (Inaudible.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does he fail to fire because he doesn't want the appearance of caving under pressure, and he feels it's more president- like not to yield --

MR. BUCHANAN: I'm sure --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- not to fire?

MR. BUCHANAN: I'm sure he --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Or is it --

MR. BUCHANAN: I'm sure it's personal. But I also think, look, you throw him to the wolves, and that isn't going to cause the wolf pack to stop going after people.

MS. BERNARD: Well, but also, maybe you give him the opportunity --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: But just a moment. This is not --

MS. BERNARD: -- to resign.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: This is not a false issue. This is not a false issue, OK. It's not just the 40-plus people who died. There are countless others who have been badly treated. If you can't follow up on the quality of the medical care you are delivering, then it seems to me you shouldn't be in that job.

MS. BERNARD: And again --

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, should we have a VA? Because it's endemic. It happens all the time in there.

MR. LOWRY: The VA needs to be fundamentally reformed.

MS. BERNARD: That's the point I was making. It is systemic. And he was brought in to change the culture of the VA. This is not an administration that wants to, number one, look like we don't care about vets. Number two, we're going into midterm elections. We're looking to 2016. The prospect of Hillary Clinton running for president --

MR. BUCHANAN: (Inaudible.)

MS. BERNARD: Excuse me for one moment. This issue that we have not talked about in great detail, but this issue of military sexual assault and the large numbers of women --

MR. BUCHANAN: (Inaudible.)

MS. BERNARD: -- being raped and going to the VA, and they cannot get disability benefits, is a huge problem. And anyone who cares about the women's vote --

MR. BUCHANAN: (Inaudible.)

MS. BERNARD: -- and women vets is going to take this seriously.

MR. BUCHANAN: All right, look, you are talking about a new problem that has come up that is enormous, you're right, sexual assaults.

MS. BERNARD: Exactly.

MR. BUCHANAN: Should we fire Hagel? Is he responsible for not running this down? Look at the Naval Academy and these other places. We've got tremendous problems in these systems these guys can't solve.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You've got an underperforming Cabinet --

MS. BERNARD: (Inaudible) -- they need to leave.

MR. BUCHANAN: You've got a society --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You've got an underperforming Cabinet official.

MR. BUCHANAN: You've got an underperforming society.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How can he pretend to be a strong president by failing to fire the underperforming Cabinet official?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, you think there's anybody in there who would have been sitting there and said, look, I think there's a problem somewhere in Phoenix since the guy -- some whistleblower just came out and told us about?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: This has been going on for a long enough time.

MR. BUCHANAN: I know it.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: And he had to have found out about it if he was on top of the case. And don't say that single payer doesn't work, if I may say so, because they have a single-payer system in Canada. They have better health outcomes at about one third the cost of --

MR. BUCHANAN: How about Great Britain? You think they've got a superior system?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I'm not saying (everyone ?). But you can do it well. And they do it well in Canada.

In the United States, particularly for the military, it has to be done well.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question.

MS. BERNARD: I agree.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is this scandal waxing or waning? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: You just heard it. It's waxing. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Waxing big?

MS. BERNARD: It's waxing.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Waxing big?

MR. LOWRY: It's waxing big. And the political reality is
Shinseki will have to go.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: It's not only waxing. It's going to melt the secretary.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Waxing big.

Don't forget, the McLaughlin Group has its own website, and you can watch this program or earlier programs on the Web at any time from anywhere in the world at McLaughlin.com. What could be easier?

Issue Two: Hillary's Health.

Is Hillary Clinton in top health? That's what Republican strategist Karl Rove wants to know. Mr. Rove, last week at a conference in California, brought up the possibility that Clinton's health may not be up to par. Rove recalled that in late 2012, a year and a half ago, Clinton, while secretary of state, was hospitalized for a blood clot in her head. The episode led to her postponement of testimony to a congressional committee about the events in Benghazi, Libya.

When Secretary Clinton did appear before the committee, she was wearing therapeutic eyeglasses, which led Mr. Rove to speculate, quote, "And when she reappears, she's wearing glasses that are only for people who have traumatic brain injuries? We need to know what's up with that," unquote.
The reaction to Mr. Rove's comment was swift. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney mocked Mr. Rove's own cognitive ability.

WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY JAY CARNEY: (From videotape.) Here's what I would say about cognitive capacity, which is that Dr. Rove might have been the last person in America on election night to recognize and acknowledge that the president had won reelection, including the state of Ohio. So we'll leave it at that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hillary's husband, William, also defended the former first lady.

(Begin videotaped segment.)

FORMER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: (From videotape.) Look, she works out every week. She is strong. She's doing great. As far as I can tell, she's in better shape than I am. Now they say she's really got brain damage. (Laughs.)

Q: You think it's --

PRESIDENT CLINTON: If she does, then I must be in really tough shape, because she's still quicker than I am.

(End videotaped segment.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Nevertheless, Mr. Rove stands by the pertinence of the issue of Hillary's health.

KARL ROVE (Republican strategist): (From videotape.) I didn't say she had brain damage. She had a serious health episode. My point was that Hillary Clinton wants to run for president, but she would not be human if this didn't enter in as a consideration. And my other point is this will be an issue in the 2016 race, whether she likes it or not.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Is Rove right about one thing, that Hillary's health will be an issue in the 2016 race, whether or not she wants it to be? Rich Lowry.

MR. LOWRY: Yes, it will. And she had a very serious health episode. She gets a virus. Then she's dehydrated. She falls. She gets a concussion. And then they discover this clot, which is a very serious issue in and of itself. So she'll have to be completely open about this. And if there's nothing to hide, there's no problem being completely open about these records. But, yes, she'll have to deal with it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, I'm going to, if I may, tell a particular story that I happen to have participated in. I was at a dinner with her, and there were six other foreign secretaries there. She was so far and above everybody else, and this was after this so-called injury, OK. She was so far and above everybody else. She was so loose and she was so persuasive. She knew her facts. She knew her arguments. You cannot tell me that she has suffered anything. I'd love to be able to have suffered the way she did. If I were half as smart as she was, I'd be very happy.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, what happened to her is similar but is not as severe as what happened to Kirchner down in Argentina. She had a subdural hematoma, had a concussion, bleeding between the brain and the skull.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: She fell down?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, I don't know whether she fell down or what it was. But it's the same type thing. But I agree. Look, if she gets a clean bill of health on this, she'll get a clean bill of health.

But what Rove has done, whether you like it or not, he has put this out into the bloodstream, and we're all talking about it. I've seen it on television for a week. They're talking about her age. And John, more -- she's had a very tough two months, because more and more people are saying what exactly did she accomplish as foreign secretary, as you said? We've got Benghazi there. We got -- the reset with Russia was a complete failure; the failure to declare Boko Haram a terrorist organization. What single thing did she do?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Bill Clinton says, quote, "She is doing great." Now, what does that mean? Does it depend on the meaning of "is" --

MR. LOWRY: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- if it means the precise moment, the word? Is that it? It's hardly a ringing endorsement. But if by "is" he means great yesterday, is today, and probably will be doing great tomorrow?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Oh, you know, reading so much into grammar at this stage of the game.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, is that reminiscent of anything? It depends on the meaning of "is"?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, it is not reminiscent of anything, OK.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Not Monica? Not Monica?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: She -- I have no --

MR. BUCHANAN: You sound like Karl Rove here. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica, by the way, is back in the news.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, I'm glad you brought that up too, John. I mean, that's really relevant. OK, I'm sorry.
I disagree with you.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Inaudible) -- might be a panelist on "The View"?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Listen, I'm not arguing about the way television panelists work. And I will also say to you, in terms of age, OK, unless I'm mistaken, there are a certain number of panelists on this particular panel who are older than Hillary and still doing pretty well.

MR. LOWRY: (Laughs.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: So I just don't think there's any rationale for it.

(Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me unravel this a little bit further. How much faith can we place in his words when he says, quote, "As far as I can tell, she's in better shape than I am" -- "as far as I can tell"?

MR. BUCHANAN: John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, don't forget, Bill Clinton has a history of -- he has a continuing heart-disease problem.

MS. BERNARD: I think you're looking into what the former president has said way, way, way too deeply. We can -- the world can look at Hillary Clinton every single day of the week. Her schedule is probably just as vigorous, if not more vigorous, than Obama's.

Now, I will say it is a legitimate question to ask, is she healthy, just like --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right.

MS. BERNARD: -- it is legitimate to ask if Governor Christie is healthy enough in his present condition.

MR. BUCHANAN: But Bill said she came out fine after six months. I about dropped my teeth. Six months?

MR. LOWRY: That's the first --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK --

MR. LOWRY: That's the first we have heard that. That's the first we've heard that.

MS. BERNARD: If she gets a clean bill of health --

MR. LOWRY: The State Department spokesman said she was instantly better. And John's right to be a little paranoid, because there's such a long history of politicians lying through their teeth about their health.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, let me move it forward. Forget health. What about age?

Hillary Clinton turns 67 in October, six months from now. If she runs for the presidency in 2016, she would be 69 years of age on election day. Sixty-nine is the same age at which Ronald Reagan in 1980 won the presidency. In fact, he was the oldest person ever elected to the presidency.
Similar to other presidential contenders, like Bob Dole and John McCain, Mr. Reagan's age did become a campaign issue, not only when he was originally elected, but when, at age 73, he sought reelection against Walter Mondale in 1984.
Here's how Reagan handled the age issue.

(Begin videotaped segment.)

Q: You already are the oldest president in history.

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN: (From videotape.) I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's age and inexperience.

(End videotaped segment.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Can Hillary afford to shrug off concerns that she will be too old for the job in 2017? I ask you, Rich.

MR. LOWRY: No, she can't afford to shrug it off. But it's one of the things where you demonstrate by doing. And in 1979, Reagan had a very light campaign schedule, so the word was out among all Republicans, you know, he may not be up for it anymore. And he put that to rest by going out there very aggressively and showing he is up to the rigors of the campaign. And it's also very important thematically for an older candidate to have a very forward-looking, optimistic campaign so you don't get hit the way McCain --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about the Democratic coalition? Isn't it very youth-centered?

MS. BERNARD: Look, it is -- it may or may not be youth-centered. The bottom line is, in the Democratic caucus, Hillary Clinton is beloved. And anyone -- I guess it is legitimate to ask if she's going to be too old. But if you look at the work that she's doing, there are no questions. There's absolutely no doubt that she can do the work.
And, quite frankly, it smacks a little bit political, because -- I mean, I guess we have evolved from the time when people were talking about her cleavage and her pants suits and whether or not she dyed the roots on her hair. If you're going (to throw ?) age into the equation, you're going to have a serious problem --

MR. BUCHANAN: Look, Ronald Reagan was out riding horses and chopping wood. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How many presidents in the United States?

MR. BUCHANAN: I think this is the 44th president of the United States.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right. And do you know --

MR. BUCHANAN: I think Cleveland was president twice, though. I don't know whether --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The current president is the fifth-youngest president this nation has elected.

MR. BUCHANAN: T.R. was the youngest, and Jack Kennedy second- youngest.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. He's the fifth-youngest. So the nation is somewhat youth-oriented, is it not?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Youth-oriented --

MR. BUCHANAN: Let me say, Rich's point --

(Cross talk.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Let me tell you something about this president.

MS. BERNARD: And where females --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: He may be young, but he is not exactly -- his negative ratings are now at 59 percent, according to the AP. This is not somebody whose age is determining his performance.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, you know, Reagan got down at that level. But look, Hillary -- let's go to Hillary. As long as, Rich -- what she ought to do, she ought to have an energetic campaign and be out there, be seen moving.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Right.

MR. BUCHANAN: That's the way you respond to this thing, not by talking about how old I am but by exactly what you're doing in the campaign.

MS. BERNARD: And that's what she's doing.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's right.

MS. BERNARD: She doesn't focus on her age. We're the only ones who are focused on it. You can't look at the schedule that she has --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, I don't know about that.

MS. BERNARD: -- and say that she's too old. It doesn't make any sense.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the history on heads of state --

MS. BERNARD: And you three seem to be doing well.

(Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- female heads of state, world leaders who have taken -- who would be as old as Hillary would be in 2017, which is 69?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Golda Meir, who was the leader of Israel.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How old was she?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: She was older than Hillary.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How old?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: She was in her 70s. I don't remember. I never --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Seventy-one.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I never dated her, so I just don't know.

(Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What year did she take control of Israel?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Oh, that was --

MR. BUCHANAN: She was knocked out in `73. My guess is she took -- well, it was before -- when did they have the famous --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.

MR. BUCHANAN: I mean, she probably --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're right on the threshold. What is it? What year? What year?

MR. BUCHANAN: `71 or `72.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Golda Meir.

MR. BUCHANAN: `71 or `72.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: `69.

MR. BUCHANAN: OK, but she was there during the war -- the Yom Kippur war, John, right there. That's why she left office -- (inaudible).

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, this group is so-so performing.

Issue Three: 18 Again?

This July, two months from now, it will be 30 years since Congress passed the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, upping the drinking age across the country to 21 years of age. Some parents might be happy their children cannot legally drink until that age. But columnist, author, feminist and provocateur, Professor Camille Paglia, argues otherwise. In fact, to Paglia, not only is the law a gross violation of civil rights. It's time to repeal it.
Quote: "It is absurd and unjust that young Americans can vote, marry, enter contracts and serve in the military at 18, but cannot buy an alcoholic drink. The age 21 rule sets the U.S. apart from all advanced western nations and lumps it with small or repressive countries like Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Indonesia, Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates.

"Congress was stamped into this puritanical view by Mothers Against Drunk Driver, who, with all good intentions, were wrongly intruding into an area of personal choice exactly as did the hymn- singing 19th century temperance crusaders, typified by Carrie Nation smashing beer barrels with her hatchet.

"Learning how to drink responsibly is a basic lesson in growing up, as it is in wine-drinking France or in Germany, with its family- oriented beer gardens and festivals. What this cruel 1984 law did is deprive young people of safe spaces where they could happily drink cheap beer, socialize, chat and flirt, in a free but controlled public environment. This tyrannical infantilizing of young Americans must stop," unquote.

Question: Does Professor Paglia have a point? Should the legal drinking age in the United States be lowered to 18? Michelle Bernard.

MS. BERNARD: I -- no. I think this is libertarianism gone, like, mad, absolutely mad. I don't think it should be 18. I think it's great kids can vote. But people, when they get drunk, they don't think properly. If I had my way, I'd raise the minimum drinking age to 25. I think 18 is too low and I think 21 is too low. And for every person who's had a child killed in a drunk-driving accident, I think they would completely disagree with Camille Paglia.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Switzerland has a legal drinking age of 16, but you have to be 18 before you can have a driver's license in Switzerland. Isn't that a good model for America?

MR. BUCHANAN: No, I think a good -- I disagree with you. A good model was the one we grew up with in D.C. It was 18 years old for beer and 21 years old for liquor. I think when you'd go through New York, I think it was only 18 years old for both beer and liquor.

But, I mean, 25, if you raise it to that age, you're just going to get -- you get a prohibition measure and you're going to get tens of millions of lawbreakers every single weekend.

MR. LOWRY: That's what we already have.

MS. BERNARD: We have tens of millions of them now.

MR. LOWRY: Yeah. The idea that 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds aren't drinking is a fantasy. So I think we might as well dispense with the legal fiction. And maybe we should discuss raising the age of driving.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The prohibitionist impulse in the United States is still active. Sin taxes: Bans on smoking, advertising restrictions, continued attacks on alcohol consumption. The latest is the focus on binge drinking. It shows that the prohibitionists are still alive and well and among us.

MR. BUCHANAN: Prohibitionists were, as you know, John, very Protestant-oriented in this country when it was a Protestant-Catholic country. And the Catholics were much more libertarian on this.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, we'll ease out on that note.

Predictions. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Pfizer Pharmaceuticals' flight to London to escape the miserable U.S. corporate income tax will create a stampede of American firms going shopping for lower taxes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Michelle.

MS. BERNARD: Hillary Clinton, if she decides to run in 2016, it will be like the field of dreams. People will come, particularly women, because they will be fascinated and embroiled in the possibility of a first female president in the United States.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The arrangements which we are making to control Iran's nuclear capability is creating an absolute firestorm amongst our allies of the Sunni countries -- Saudi Arabia, et cetera, et cetera. They're having a huge reaction against the United States and what they're prepared to do.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Rich.

MR. LOWRY: At the end of the GOP primary season, Republicans will have a much more impressive crop of Senate candidates than they had the last two cycles. The establishment candidates will be more conservative. The tea party candidates will be more impressive.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I predict that despite the European Central Bank attempts to stimulate the Eurozone, anemic economic growth in Europe will persist in 2014, dragging down worldwide economic prospects.

Bye-bye.

(C) 2014 Federal News Service

END