THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP
HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN
JOINED BY: MARGARET ANDERSON, TONY BLANKLEY,
JEROME GLENN, AND RICHARD LANDES
TAPED FRIDAY, JULY 30, 1999
AIRED THE WEEKEND OF AUGUST 28-29, 1999
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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: Triple zero odometer.
It's about to happen, believe it or not. January 1, 2000. Now the U.S. Naval Observatory, the nation's official timekeeper, may say that the new millennium starts on January 1, 2001. Well, who's listening to those spoilsports? Answer: nobody. Worldwide, people are getting set to usher in the new thousand years in just a few months. So let the triple zeroes roll!
First, millennial mania.
MR. : (From videotape.) The word of God says I'm securely bound by the blood of Jesus, and it will lift me up as the world plunges tragically to hell.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Worldwide, apocalyptic cults are surfacing, along with New Agers, survivalists, and plain old eccentrics. They see harmony or catastrophe at the dawn of this new epoch. Why?
One, the birth of Christ. The new millennium marks the 2,000th anniversary of that momentous event, and according to prophecy --
RAYMOND : (From videotape.) His son was on His way back. Get ready.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Religious pilgrims like Raymond have been setting up camp near the Mount of Olives in Israel, awaiting the Second Coming. Israel expects up to 4 million visitors by 2000. Most are peaceful. Some are not.
And in the U.S., over 25 percent of the American population believe the Second Coming of Jesus Christ will mark the new millennium. For those who cannot travel to Israel to witness the event, a "Messiah cam," trained on the Mount of Olives, has been set up on the Internet.
Two, Y2K, the triple-zero technological glitch. It hits at the very first second of the new epoch and will bring the modern world crashing down, some believe.
MR. : (From videotape.) Y2K may be God's instrument to shake this nation, humble this nation, awaken this nation, and --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Is the approach of the millennium inspiring millennial mania, as happened on the threshold of the year 1000, Richard Landes?
MR. LANDES: Well, first, we can't assume that it happened at the approach of the first millennium. I think it did. I think we're seeing very similar things. We're seeing -- 2000's going to be a big pilgrimage year, with the Jubilee. I think we're seeing cults and various kinds of strange manifestations of behavior.
But the big difference between this millennium and the last one is that in the last one, in order to believe it was the end of the world, you had to believe in God. And this time, with technology putting so much power in our hands, and with things like Y2K and environmental problems and weapons of mass destruction, you don't have to be a religious person to get worried about the state of the world.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: For correspondences, you have -- you had -- before the year 2000, you had the -- or 1000, you had the Vikings, the scourge of Europe; you had Moslem domination of Spain; you had Scandinavian monarchies suddenly converting to Catholicism. Do you see anything of that happening?
MR. LANDES: Now? Well, we certainly see efforts to do this. I mean, there is an effort on the part of Christians at this moment, to use all the modern means of communication to convert as many peoples as possible. Will they be as successful as they were in the Year Thousand? I don't think so.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do any of you sense any tension or nervousness or any agitation?
Someone told me that, in Los Angeles, there is a curious feeling of tension in the air. And they wonder about things like Columbine and Atlanta, the killings. And they worry about -- or they think about the unusual heat we are having. They are thinking about NATO bombing Serbia and almost destroying that country of 10 million people: "Well, what was that all about?" They are thinking about how closely we may be to thermonuclear war in the instance of Pakistan and India.
Do you have thoughts on that?
MR. BLANKLEY: Yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you sense any of that?
MR. BLANKLEY: No. My sense -- the surprising thing, I think, is how little there is of this millennial fever. If you compare it to what I know of a thousand years ago, where they weren't even bothering to repair churches because of the imminent Second Coming; now I sense, with the exception of the Y2K issue, very little.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you sense any millennial fever, Margaret?
MS. ANDERSON: I think some of the folks who are involved in the Y2K issue got into it because they were thinking about the millennium and the way they wanted the world to be after that. They wanted the community orientation. They wanted to get some control over technology, so they started thinking about Y2K.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What are the futurists saying about millennial fever at this time, Jerry?
MR. GLENN: Oh, well, we are using it as an excuse to have humanity think together about how we can improve things. To us, it's an opportunity to actually have all kinds of different people interact on cyberspace and books and television shows like this, to figure out where we are going. We never had that opportunity before.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think, along with Margaret, as we get closer to the Y2K and it's going to hit -- and what do I do as far as my own security is concerned, financial and physical? -- then we may feel the effects.
Exit question: Time warp forward, year 3000 -- are you with me? -- year 3000: Over the upcoming millennium, will science and religion converge, or will they annihilate one the other? And if so, which one will survive? Jerome Glenn.
MR. GLENN: Religion is moving out of its dogmatic thinking it knows the only thing. You have got cross-sections and conversations going across. The amount of information flow over the next thousand years will be such that you'll have a general spirituality and have a much more general understanding of science than before.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think Christianity will take a hit?
MR. GLENN: Christianity evolves. All these religions will evolve. They have evolved over the last thousand years.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that Christianity is a natural repository of a convergence of science and religion? Does it have the social dynamism to keep moving?
MR. LANDES: It's hard for me to imagine, with the amount of change going on and thinking, that we won't have completely new philosophies by that time.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?
MR. BLANKLEY: Religious faith will persist because it is innate in humans to have faith. My greater fear is that science won't be able to keep pace with the inevitable faith that exists.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you see happening, Margaret?
MS. ANDERSON: I think, as we learn more about science, about what we don't know, that science and religion will converge more in the next millennium.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Richard?
MR. LANDES: Science emerged in opposition to religion. It's an immature stage; it's going to have to get over it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is?
MR. LANDES: Science is going to have to get over its allergy to religion.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But religion will persist?
MR. LANDES: Oh, yeah.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And flourish?
MR. LANDES: Oh, yeah.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: As will science?
MR. LANDES: Absolutely.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, this is happy time coming up. (Laughter.)
When we come back, New Year's Eve '99 will be the most hyped weekend in history. Will it be followed by the biggest hangover in history, post partum millennial blues and buyer's remorse?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two: Brave new millennium.
Mankind entered this millennium at the stroke of midnight, December 31, 999; January 1, 1000. At that time, the average life span was less than 40 years, with no understanding that germs cause disease. Chronically malnourished. Leading a life one philosopher described as nasty, brutish and short. We close the millennium with a general understanding of how DNA and the human genome work. Bioengineering our food. Cloning species. And with a computer-driven economic boom that is transforming global society.
Still, not everyone is happy. Environmentalists, in particular, see a dismal future for mankind on an overcrowded, resource-depleted planet. For those who see green, there is no end to evil portent for the future. Global warming. Depletion of the ozone layer. Rain forest destruction. Low sperm counts due to toxic poisoning. Mutated frogs.
Question: What will be the major impediment to global progress in the upcoming millennium, Jerome Glenn? And what will push the progress? What will be the engine that will really cause progress to increase by some huge quantum leap?
MR. GLENN: Well, I would say the primary impediment is prejudice. And I don't mean race prejudice, simply, but the concept of prejudice. Prejudging. That if you say that, therefore you don't say that, and I don't do this. Prejudice as a phenomenon is holding back all kinds of stuff. For example, one of the things, the breakthroughs, will be the solar satellites. You had all kinds of prejudice against creating large energy systems in space. I don't see how you're going to get the kind of energy you need for the future around this whole planet without making large-scale systems like --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're talking about --
MR. GLENN: -- (inaudible). So science, technology brings it, but the impediment is our minds.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you talking about the collection of photovoltaic sun, say, taking energy from the sun in space and then transmitting electricity to Earth?
MR. GLENN: Correct.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How do you get it to Earth?
MR. GLENN: Microwave.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, microwave has been around since when, the late '60s?
MR. GLENN: Yeah, the --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But it hasn't been used.
MR. GLENN: It hasn't been used.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are we backing into the same prejudice question we were at before?
MR. GLENN: Yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Or commercial interests?
MR. GLENN: There's all kinds. You have commercial interests, very much so.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?
MR. BLANKLEY: I'll suggest a different danger to progress. And Alexis de Tocqueville predicted it 180 years ago, which is boredom. As the great masses of people have leisure time, they become more and more bored, just as the aristocrats used to be bored, and that's destructive of good work habits and, therefore, progress.
MR. GLENN: But look, people are working like crazy. I mean, they keep going and so forth. Look at the diversity of the life that we've got now. I don't think boredom's going on.
MR. BLANKLEY: You see increased violence in entertainment to divert people from their boredom in their leisure time. And as we become more economically efficient, have more leisure, more boredom, and therefore less --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you --
MR. GLENN: Look at life on the farm 100 years ago compared to life on the farm today.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Richard, what do you see as the major impediment to global affluence?
MR. LANDES: I see it as a social issue. As a historian, I would say that the most significant moments of technological development and the increase of abundance on the planet have come when there's a roughly egalitarian relationship between elites and commoners --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you talking about some brand of global socialism now?
MR. LANDES: No, no. Not at all.
MR. : You're talking about --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you talking about democracy? Democracy breeds prosperity?
MR. LANDES: I'm talking about civil society. Civil society, open society, equality before the law, dignity of manual labor.
MS. ANDERSON: Well, I think --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right. Is it not true that where there is prosperity, you have a built-in inclination for controlling overpopulation because the more prosperous people become, the less inclined they are to have large families. True?
MR. LANDES: The data is very clear. You make people successful, they have fewer children.
MR. : And it's not just prosperous, it's educated. The more emphasis you put on education --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Margaret?
MS. ANDERSON: (Inaudible due to cross talk) -- technology.
MR. : Birth rates are falling worldwide. Right now. Worldwide. Everywhere. Everywhere.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: France is now at zero growth, right?
MS. ANDERSON: And what technology and the Internet and communications globally will do to increase prosperity around the world is something we're just beginning to see, what that will do to equalize and change the dynamics between the haves and the have nots. I think we're just --
MR. : But it depends.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you remember the old Club of Rome doomsday scenarios?
MR. : Club of Wrong.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Huh?
MR. : Club of Wrong.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Club of Wrong?
MR. : Wrong.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Instead of Club of Rome?
MR. : There. Now you got it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean --
MR. : They were wrong.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you remember how people in your --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, you academics did. Do you remember how you used to really slather over their predictions and use them to spell out environmental scenarios?
MR. : But they were useful. Useful. That's right. But they were useful.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They were useful for what?
MR. : It's like -- well, because when you have a soup, you want to have a little salt, a little pepper, a little different thing. It was very useful to bring up that idea in order to counter it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, now we're in politics, aren't we? Now we're in ideology. That';s where we were then, too. But ideology is also going to control progress in the next century. Politics, not just sociology, correct?
MR. BLANKLEY: I would think so. It always has.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And if you have bad ideology, then you have tyranny, you have corrupt capitalists --
MR. BLANKLEY: Ideas drive human conduct and bad ideas can drive to bad conduct.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the political future for the next 1,000 years?
MR. : My first hunch is that we're going to have to see a breakdown in sovereignty and then maybe sort of a return to a period before the rise of the nation-state, which we saw about -- (inaudible).
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really? boy, you are --
MR. : Well, it's clear that there are places where national sovereignty doesn't work, that it's a paradigm that worked well in the 19th century, worked well in the 20th century. The end of the 20th century there are places like the Balkans, which has always been the case, places like the Middle East, where national sovereignty doesn't work. What do you do for a people like the Kurds?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I don't know.
MR. : What do --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're going to get way ahead of yourself here. You're ruling out national sovereignty --
MR. : I'm not ruling out, I'm saying that experiments in other kinds of sovereignty will occur as they did at the following of the last millennium.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will we see intelligent life in space during the next 1,000 years?
MR. GLENN: No way to predict that. But I'd put my money on it -- if I had to take a bet, I'd say yes. But I can't predict that.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You've got 550 people over there, a lot of them are futurists, they're business planners, what are they saying? Are they expecting intelligent life out there?
MR. GLENN: Some of them think it's very likely.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's a majority?
MR. GLENN: It's a useful thing to think about. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it a majority -- (laughs) -- is that the majority thinking, yes or no?
MR. GLENN: I can't say a majority. We didn't take a poll on that one.
MR. LANDES: And you can't even know who says what they really believe.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit: Will the next millennium improve life for mankind, as the current millennium has done, or will it end progress and impose restraints?
MR. LANDES: Well, on one hand you're saying impose restraints. Maybe it's a good thing. Progress might be restraints on the way we spend our time --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, is it going to be fundamentally progressive?
MR. LANDES: That really depends on us.
MS. ANDERSON: Yes. Yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's talking like an academic.
What do you say, Margaret?
MS. ANDERSON: I say definitely, it's going to be --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Progress?
MS. ANDERSON: Progress. A hundred years ago, New York City was going to die because of the horse manure in the streets, and see the progress we've made in technology and health.
MR. BLANKLEY: Over enough time, we have progress. The cycles go up and down. But you go back over history, and it has been a line upward.
MR. LANDES: It depends on how far back you go. We can go back long enough to have a fall.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Cloning, bio-engineering, cyberspace. It's got to be progress, don't you think?
MR. BLANKLEY (?): That's right. Absolutely.
MR. LANDES: Well, it depends on progress for how many. You can have progress for -- if the split between rich and poor increases, you can have progress, but it will be just for the "haves".
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But the widespread adoption of democracy will -- the North-South divide that you're talking about will be largely closed.
Issue three: The uninvited guest.
PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: (From videotape.) We need every state and local government, every business, large and small, to work with us to make sure that this Y2K computer bug will be remembered as the last headache of the 20th century, not the first crisis of the 21st. (Applause.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is America facing a nasty hangover on January 1, 2000? That's when hundreds of thousands of computers and millions of embedded microprocessor chips still infected with the Y2K bug will get hit, affecting utilities, telephones, machinery, factories, warehouses and all business and government services that have been automated but not updated.
The Y2K bug is the consequence of short-sighted programming back in the days of scarce computer memory. To save memory, lines of computer code were written with two digits for dates instead of four. As a result, there will be conflicts between programs and internal calendars when computers try to read a date of double-zero. How big a problem is this? The answer is, nobody knows.
Only two large U.S. cities, Dallas and Boston, are ready for Y2K, says a GAO study. The federal government in Washington appears better prepared, earning an overall B-minus on a quarterly report card issued by the House of Representatives. But the CIA says the rest of the world is anywhere from six months to a year behind the U.S.
Question: What prudent steps should an individual take to protect himself or herself in dealing with the uninvited guest, i.e., the Y2K bug?
MS. ANDERSON: The first thing you ought to do -- need to do is take it seriously, and take the GAO report seriously. Look at the fact that half the states are only finishing their assessments, and realize that impacts your 911 systems, your emergency management systems, your hospitals, your clinics, your Meals on Wheels. Take it seriously.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How about non-perishable foodstuffs? How about cash on hand?
MS. ANDERSON: Cash on hand -- yesterday -- I mean, the federal government said don't worry about it, ATMs were out for two weeks because of Y2K problems.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How about non--perishable foodstuffs?
MS. ANDERSON: Non-perishable? At least a week, and then look at your local conditions.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about protective services? Will the police -- will they be stretched thin? Are there going to be public wildings? Should we get handguns?
MS. ANDERSON: Don't get handguns. And ask your local -- it's local -- ask your local -- about EMSs, ask them whether your fire departments will be working.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How about going --
MS. ANDERSON: Be hard consumers for --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- how about going on a driving (sic) with the possibility that red lights won't work?
MS. ANDERSON: It's very possible in many parts of the United States.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Prescription medicines, lay in a supply of those? I want to make sure we are covering the ground here.
MR. LANDES: Treat the traffic lights at stop signs, and everything will be okay.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh. Good.
What about back-packing purification for water? Do you want to get that in there?
MS. ANDERSON: The important thing is you need to be asking what's going on in your location because it's going to vary. Some places will be well prepared and have minimal problems. Other places that have small governments, small water departments are going to have problems.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: On a --
MR. LANDES: Wait, wait. Before the exit question -- (laughter) -- I mean, one of the points here is you have asked all your questions about what individuals do --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.
MR. LANDES: -- how could we stockpile and so on?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's what people want to know.
MR. LANDES: Well, one of the things that individuals should do is think of themselves as members of communities. And this thing should be prepared for as communities because, if you have every individual in America stockpiling and pulling out their money from banks, the whole system crashes because of the -- it's got to be done at a community level.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Alan Greenspan says don't take you money out of the bank, and beware of millennial thievery. If you start putting a lot of money under the mattress, then take that into consideration, too.
MS. ANDERSON: They should say that. I agree with Greenspan on that. I don't agree with the long weekend, but a week.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Give me a quick answer.
On a chaos scale of zero to 10, zero meaning zero chaos, serene and orderly, a snowflake wafting gently to earth -- (laughter) -- 10 meaning metaphysical chaos, the New York Stock Exchange as the dollar drops to -- it drops 10,000 points down to zero -- how chaotic will "Y2Kaos" be, Richard Landes?
MR. LANDES: Anywhere from three on up. The problem is you have got to think in terms of a bell curve. And you have to ask what are the chances -- what is your highest number for a 5 percent chance?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Give me a number.
MS. ANDERSON: A six if individuals and communities don't start acting today.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A six?
MR. BLANKLEY: Four point eight. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Four point eight?
MR. GLENN: Three point two.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Three point two? I'll give it a four.
Issue four: "Party like it's 1999."
MS. : (From videotape.) It's going to be the busiest travel weekend in history. It is probably going to be the priciest travel weekend in history and also the riskiest.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: One thing is for sure. New Year's Eve '99 is certainly turning into the most hyped weekend in history. Travel agencies are in overdrive, selling consumers on the party to end all parties -- London's Millennium Dome, Cairo's Pyramid Bash, Rome's Great Jubilee, courtesy of the pope.
But not everyone will be in a mood to celebrate. Why? The holiday blues. Remember those? That's how mental health professionals describe how anxiety attacks, panic seizures, and even suicides multiply around the holiday season. From Thanksgiving to Christmas, people suffer depression, ranging from mild to severe, in inverse proportion to holiday fun and festivity. The bigger the buildup, the more the letdown.
(Song being played in the background: "1999" by Prince.)
The sheer magnitude of the millennial event will make this year's holiday blues worse. When January 1st rolls around, revelers will find that their jobs, their lives, their loves, and they themselves are no different, after all this expense, than they were the day before. In fact, some people will see all those zeroes behind the 2 in 2000 as a triple nothing-burger. So beware the post-partum millennial blues!
Also beware buyer's remorse.
Question: Does extreme optimism beget extreme pessimism; the more manic the national mood, the more depressed people will become, Jerome Glenn?
MR. GLENN: Yes, that's certainly true. In the Millennium Project we're trying to move that energy into a rational thinking together around the planet about where we go next.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really? So you're taking that into consideration.
How do feel about this?
MR. BLANKLEY: I suspect it's the other way around. I think that there is some anxiety at the turn of the millennium, and when they find out -- when people find out that nothing much has changed, other than a few minor dislocations, and there will be relief and therefore optimism. There will be a burst of new hopefulness.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. Have you heard of St. John's Wort or Prozac?
MR. BLANKLEY: Yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think we should lay in a supply of mood pills? (Laughter.)
MR. BLANKLEY: Not for me, thank you. I -- (laughs) --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Margaret? Margaret?
MS. ANDERSON: Well, I think that the -- if things are mild on January 1st, there's a lot of us in the Y2K community who will be celebrating wildly that next night.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But the Y2K problem is going to sour the national mood. It's at least going to be three. You said that. Am I right, Richard?
MR. LANDES: Yeah. No, I think that it's clear that five years ago there were huge plans building for the millennium, and now Y2K has blighted a fair amount of it. And what's interesting is that we now see the emergence of groups that are trying to put together Y2K awareness and celebration, to make it a deeper celebration, a community celebration, that in fact could avoid the post-partum depression of a superficial high and superficial low.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We'll be right back.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions, quickly. Richard?
MR. LANDES: It really depends. It depends -- Y2 -- think of the millennium as a quake and the social resilience of the culture as what determines whether the quake does damage or not. The cultures that are resilient, where there's public discussion, will do well. The cultures that are paranoid will not.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. We'll meditate on that.
MS. ANDERSON: If communities get together, we'll survive Y2K all right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.
MR. BLANKLEY: Both government and corporate officials will be fired next spring because of their failures on Y2K.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Jerome?
MR. GLENN: A thousand years from now, when humans become conscious, technology and the other stuff becomes laughable.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: By 2010, environmentalism as a political movement will have lost its luster. Too many junk science predictions and too many anti-progress hysterics.
®FC¯END OF REGULAR SEGMENT
®FL¯ PBS SEGMENT
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue five: Revenge of the nerds.
PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON (From videotape.) When Hillary and I first realized that the turn of the millennium would occur while we were in the White House, we knew we had an obligation to mark it in ways that would be good for the country.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: She's not known as a party animal, at least not as former First Lady Margaret Trudeau of Canada was. She's more the political-party animal type. Nonetheless, Hillary Clinton is planning a bash. With millions from the National Park Service budget, Hillary will throw a Washington, D.C., millennial party, she says to rival New York's. Hollywood film mogul Steven Spielberg will produce a 15-minute documentary narrated by the president saluting the millennium. Many Washingtonians are angling for invites to get wild and crazy with Hillary and Bill.
Question: Is Hillary shooting her New York Senate bid in the foot by trying to steal millennial thunder from New York's Times Square? Yes or no? Tony?
MR. BLANKLEY: It would certainly -- I don't understand it. She's a smart lady. Obviously, New York takes pride in its New Year's celebration. Why she would want to launch it, and specifically say she's going to do better than New York, is beyond me.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is there a proper role for the U.S. government in millennial celebration, or should this be a private matter? After all, it originates -- the millennium is the anniversary of the birth of Christ. So it's fundamentally a religious observance. It's not even celebrated by the Muslims.
MR. LANDES: Well, but in the last few hundred years --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: My question to you is, does the government belong in this kind of salute?
MR. LANDES: Well, there are two things. One is, it's become a common era. It's something that's shared by the entire globe. And people use this -- anybody who uses a computer uses this dating system and uses this calendar.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So the government's free to do it with taxpayers' money?
MR. LANDES: So it's gone beyond. Now, if the government should do it with taxpayers' money, that's another issue.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you want Hillary Clinton to use your taxpayer dollars for this big splash, or should she and the government butt out of this celebration?
MR. GLENN: I hope I'll be able to do the celebration in Cairo, Egypt, and --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Where, in a pyramid?
MR. GLENN: Yeah.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're going there?
MR. GLENN: That's where -- I'm planning to go there, yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So you're going to be with Ramses. What about -- what about you?
MS. ANDERSON: If I were Clinton, I'd be concerned about the millions of people who are going to be working that night, being angry at other people partying.
MR. GLENN: I think we should honor those people. There are whole bunch of people who are working on Y2K, going to be working over the weekend, and they're giving up their celebration for the sake of keeping this system working. We should honor them. And if the government is going to spend a whole lot of money on a celebration, why don't they spend it on Y2K preparations?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's Hillary's motivation?
MR. BLANKLEY: I have no idea what her motivation is, but I don't see any problem with the government throwing a New Year's Eve party. I mean, and I don't think the average person is going to resent the relatively small amount of money spent. We do it on July 4th, everybody has a good time. So I'm not against that. I just --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you want Spielberg to put a spin on the millennium with Clinton reciting his dialogue? (Laughter.)
MR. BLANKLEY: No, I -- I don't like --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that your idea of how to welcome in the new millennium?
MR. BLANKLEY: No, what I said -- I see nothing wrong with a general governmental funding of a party on the Mall, but I don't particularly want to see a left-wing party on the Mall.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, this is an elite party at the White House.
MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, well, they're entitled to their friends --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't think you're going to get an invitation, do you?
MR. BLANKLEY: I know I'm not!