Share

The McLaughlin Group

Issues: Trump and the Press / Pig Waste Problem / Syrian Civil War

Participants:
John McLaughlin, Host
Eleanor Clift, The Daily Beast
Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune
David Rennie, The Economist
Susan Ferrechio, Washington Examiner


Taped: Friday, September 4, 2015
Broadcast: Weekend of September 4-6, 2015


Copyright 2015 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein
are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any
trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>



ANNOUNCER: From Washington, THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP, the American original. For over three decades, the sharpest minds, best sources, hardest talk.

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, HOST: Issue One: Trump Versus the Press.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Sit down. Sit down. Sit down.

JORGE RAMOS, UNIVISION: No, no, Mr. Trump. I’m an immigrant, a citizen.

TRUMP: Go ahead.

RAMOS: Sir, I have the right to ask a question.

TRUMP: No, you don't. You haven't been called.

RAMOS: I have, I have the right to ask a question.

TRUMP: Go back to Univision.

Go ahead. Go ahead.

RAMOS: This is the question: You cannot deport 11 million, Mr. Trump. You cannot deport 11 million people. You cannot build a 1,900 mile wall. You cannot deny citizenship to children in this country.

TRUMP: Sit down, please. You weren't called.

John McLaughlin of THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP, he’s a good guy. He said the other day – he was arguing with one of the people on the panel, he said, "I don’t understand you." He said, "This is a man of great accomplishment or achievement. Why do you think he shouldn’t run?"

MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): Donald Trump believes THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP scrutinizes his policies fairly, opening his candidacy to observation and analysis. But Donald Trump also believes he’s a victim of broader media bias.

In campaign stop around the nation, Mr. Trump complains that reporters misrepresent him or engage in gotcha-style journalism. Sometimes, like Univision, he removes the reporter from a campaign event.

According to Mr. Trump, quote, "some of the political media really is very dishonest. They don’t want to print the truth. They don’t want to say what you said. They don’t want to say what you mean. They know what you said, they know what you mean, and they put it in totally different words," end quote.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Has Donald Trump been treated unfairly by the press? David?

DAVID RENNIE, THE ECONOMIST: I don’t think so. I think that it’s an inevitable phenomenon, when you have someone who is, at once, a candidate, but also, just unbelievable ratings kind of champion like Trump, you have this very odd, almost unique relationship.

He is aware that when he goes on a TV channel or a TV interview, their ratings go through the roof, and he’s very conscious of his power, his commercial power. He gave an interview to "Time Magazine", where he was saying, "I was wondering if I should ask CNN to pay millions of dollars to my favorite charity, otherwise I won’t attend the next presidential debates."

He’s kind of -- it’s like, he’s endorsing golf clubs, he’s endorsing neckties, he’s endorsing TV stations. He’s got this very strange hybrid kind of commercial personality.

MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

ELEANOR CLIFT, THE DAILY BEAST: It’s a love-hate relationship with the press. He’s benefiting from all the coverage. He is eclipsing all of the other candidates. He’s getting all of what we call earned media, free media. And the media is loving it because people are watching, and the ratings are going up.

It’s like watching, you know, a train wreck on the side of the road. You can’t take your eyes off of it.

But I think if there’s any truth to this sense of bias, I think the media at first saw him as a joke, as a reality star, he wouldn’t last long. I think now, the media is beginning to think, you know, hey, maybe he could win Iowa and New Hampshire, South Carolina, he’ll do well in the South. Maybe there’s something to this guy.

And so, I think you’re going to get more aggressive questioning of his policies, to the extent that they exist. And he’s going to get the kind of scrutiny a real presidential candidate should expect.

MCLAUGHLIN: The latest Quinnipiac poll shows Trump with a bigger lead at 28 percent. Ben Carson polling second at 12 percent. And Bush, Cruz and Rubio tied at 7 percent.

The July 30th Quinnipiac poll had Trump at 20 percent. So, he’s climbed from 20 percent to 28 percent. Also, the Quinnipiac poll asked people to say the first word that came to mind regarding Trump. What word came up, first?

You care to guess?

SUSAN FERRECHIO, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: The word regarding Hillary Clinton I know was "dishonest" or a "liar".

(CROSSTALK)

RENNIE: Trump was arrogant. "Arrogant" is the word.

MCLAUGHLIN: He took it right away from you.

FERRECHO: But this represents, I think Eleanor is exactly right, that he’s going to be getting more scrutiny, because his poll numbers have been, you know, at top levels for now, an enduring period of time. But I think this represents this nexus of a dislike of the media by the public and a dislike of politicians by the public.

And so, voters see Donald Trump as, you know, going against the grain on both those fronts because he talks past the media. He says he doesn’t need the media. He’s done well despite the media not taking him very seriously. And he’s not your standard politician, and he’s still doing really well.

CLARENCE PAGE, CHICAGO TRIBUNE: I feel like I’m watching a reality TV show, don’t you?

I mean, here’s Donald Trump complaining about his media coverage. He’s on page one every day. Anything he says we cover, and he’s only gotten in trouble when we quote him accurately.

CLIFT: Right.

PAGE: It’s not that we kind of make anything of it. It’s just quite astounding. And I say, God love him. I mean, he made August, I can’t imagine the month with him. But the very notion of him getting the nomination is just mindboggling.

MCLAUGHLIN: What was the worst news for Hillary in the Quinnipiac poll?

PAGE: The worst news for her was that she’d slipped. She’s -- I can’t remember the exact numbers, but -- maybe you have them here at hand.

But she slipped.

MCLAUGHLIN: Biden did better than Hillary.

PAGE: Right.

MCLAUGHLIN: Biden did better than Hillary in head to head polls against the leading Republican contenders.

PAGE: Right.

CLIFT: Yes.

MCLAUGHLIN: This reinforces the view that she is --

PAGE: Damaged goods.

MCLAUGHLIN: -- many believe a weak candidate.

PAGE: Right.

CLIFT: Oh, she’s not mortally wounded, and I wouldn’t call her a weak candidate.

And Joe Biden knows better than anyone else that they love you until you announce and you get.

(LAUGHTER)

CLIFT: And I think he’s really seriously considering whether --

FERRECHIO: I’m on your side. She’s not really that damaged.

CLIFT: Right.

FERRECHIO: But the trust issue is a real problem. It’s been a problem with her for months and it’s not going away, and it keeps dragging her down in the polls, I think. The public doesn’t see here as being honest when it comes to her personal email server and other issues, that they don’t see her as trustworthy, and now, that’s becoming a real drag on the poll numbers.

CLIFT: It’s a hard issue to put to rest, but I would remember that Bill Clinton was known as "Slick Willie" when he was in Arkansas.

FERRECHIO: Yes.

CLIFT: He was elected, not once but twice, with similarly low trust numbers. Hillary Clinton has a lot of other good qualities that people like -- leader, tough.

FERRECHIO: And she still (INAUDIBLE).

CLIFT: For a woman to be seen as tough is –

PAGE: And knowledgeable.

CLIFT: -- and knowledgeable. That’s big.

MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, I like Hillary. You’re not pointing a finger at me here.

CLIFT: No.

MCLAUGHLIN: OK.

PAGE: I believe you were a fan, John.

CLIFT: I’m addressing the assemblage.

(LAUGHTER)

MCLAUGHLIN: If he wins -- who should Trump pick as his running mate? If he wins, who should he pick as his Trumping mate – eh, running mate?

CLIFT: I like Trumping mate, actually.

RENNIE: Yes. Does he actually want a running MATE? I figure he won’t want to share the job.

(LAUGHTER)

PAGE: That’s a good point.

RENNIE: He may appoint himself. Perhaps he’d appoint himself --

CLIFT: He wanted a mini-me.

(LAUGHTER)

RENNIE: Yes.

PAGE: He could put his brand on the office.

FERRECHIO: He could pick someone who -- so far, what Trump has eluded, is answering things in a substantive way. He’s always said, oh, his policy is, I’ll hire good managers -- he’s never really talked about what he’s going to do in detail. If he hires someone who’s able to do that, someone who is experienced, maybe someone who’s strong on foreign policy. Obviously, that will be a benefit for him.

He could go by which state he would need to win, maybe somebody from Ohio, or Florida, because those are critical states to win. Or he could pick a woman, Carly Fiorina, who’s popular, the only Republican female candidate, certainly competent, another CEO, another business person. Many good options for him.

MCLAUGHLIN: What kind of voters does he, where he really benefit by, and how could he get those voters to come in, in one fell swoop?

FERRECHIO: Well, women voters certainly would -- he would benefit by picking a female running mate.

MCLAUGHLIN: How about an Hispanic -- how about an Hispanic running mate?

PAGE: Yes, he needs that.

FERRECHIO: Well, Marco Rubio is Cuban and that’s a little bit sometimes, people, the Hispanic voters view Cuban as different and they don’t consider them Hispanic, even though they are, because they say, well, you’re Cuban, that’s a little bit different.


PAGE: The Republicans are in no position on quibble on that.

FERRECHIO: Right.

(CROSSTALK)

CLIFT: Fantasizing about Trump’s running mate seems a little premature.

RENNIE: There’s a female Hispanic governor in New Mexico, Susana Martinez.

CLIFT: Right.

RENNIE: Susana Martinez, the governor of New Mexico. So, she heads two books (ph).

(CROSSTALK)

RENNIE: She’s --

CLIFT: A former Democrat.

RENNIE: She’s got reelected in New Mexico --

MCLAUGHLIN: Saw the light.

FERRECHIO: Popular Democrat --

RENNIE: She gave a good speech at the convention in 2012, about her realizing that she was a Republican, when she had never imagined she could be.

CLIFT: Nikki Haley from South Carolina --

FERRECHIO: Ted Cruz and Trump --

MCLAUGHLIN: Don’t forget that --

FERRECHIO: -- another Hispanic candidate who is strong on foreign policy issues, and who is a sitting senator, who is invited to Trump, to appear with him, to talk about the Iran deal. That’s another good possibility for him.

MCLAUGHLIN: How about --

CLIFT: Trump/Ted Cruz would be like a rocket ship that would implode before it went anywhere.

(LAUGHTER)

CLIFT: I just don’t see that one.

PAGE: Sarah Palin is still available, too.

MCLAUGHLIN: How about Carly Fiorina for a running for Trump?

PAGE: The problem is, Carly Fiorina is a non-politician, which seems like a positive now in the primaries. But do you want to have a president and vice presidential candidate who are both without --

CLIFT: She’s only a non-politician because she lost the Senate race in 2010. She wanted to be a politician.

MCLAUGHLIN: How about --

CLIFT: Her record as CEO with Hewlett-Packard would come under withering examination. She was forced out with a nice, tidy, golden parachute. But her leadership was not that good.

MCLAUGHLIN: Just consider gender, with Trump, a woman vice presidential candidate or a man?

CLIFT: I think if Hillary is the Democratic nominee, there would be a lot of positive pressure on the Republicans to put a woman in that second spot.

MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: on a political momentum scale from zero to 10, zero meaning nada, the doldrums, and 10 meaning the big mo, skipping over the waves with the wind at your back, how much momentum does Trump have? You got from one to 10.

RENNIE: Right now, he’s like a seven.

MCLAUGHLIN: Seven?

RENNIE: Yes.

MCLAUGHLIN: Four.

CLIFT: Four, exactly. You read my mind.

(LAUGHTER)

CLIFT: OK.

MCLAUGHLIN: I read you so well.

CLIFT: I know.

FERRECHIO: Nine.

MCLAUGHLIN: Nine?

CLIFT: Oh.

FERRECHIO: Considering his improbable rise to the top of all the candidates right now, he’s a nine.

PAGE: Seven, we don’t really see what his ceiling is right now. It’s very interesting. But I think we’ll have a better idea after some real votes are cast.

MCLAUGHLIN: I’ll split it between you two. I think it’s an eight.

Issue Two: A Problem of Poop.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): The Environmental Protection Agency, the EPA, faces a smelly problem, a poop problem.

According to an August 20 report by Bloomberg, North Carolina’s roughly 8 million hogs are now producing about 14 billion gallons of waste a year. Yes, 14 billion gallons of hog feces. According to MCLAUGHLIN GROUP calculations, that’s enough feces to fill 80,200 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Of course, North Carolina does not have 80,200 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

So, the stinking waste must go elsewhere. At present, it is being flushed into lagoons alongside North Carolina farms. From there, bacteria gradually breaks down the waste product, allowing it to act as a farming fertilizer, a boon to farmers.

But there’s a catch: runoff from these lagoons also travels into river systems. In turn, that bacteria then helps to grow fields of algae that depletes river oxygen levels, and that harms wildlife and the environment, another poop problem for the Environmental Protection Agency.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Does the EPA need to introduce tougher relations on farmers?

I ask you, I ask -- I think I’ll ask you.

PAGE: Well, you know, they have the same problem in the Chesapeake with chicken poop and it the disrupted the crab fishing. What do we do to catch crabs? Crabbing.

And they’ve started to turn the corner on that now. But a lot of it came because of pressure from people who like the crabs and the watermen whose jobs depended on this, for generation after generation. So, I think the same kind of thing has to happen in North Carolina where you have combination of not just government regulation but also people who are affected, according to industries and various leisure activities on the waterways.

CLIFT: Right. Well, it’s intertwined with politics. The members of Congress that represent North Carolina in Washington are going to protect the farmers. And EPA is not a welcome guest in Congress these days. They don’t get much money. If they did put out tougher regulations, they’d be a resisted.

This is not a new problem. It’s been building for a long time and actually. There’s so many issues related to industrial farming of animals. I mean, I wish we could all go vegan.

But those poor pigs, they can’t -- they don’t even have room to turn around. And so --

(CROSSTALK)

MCLAUGHLIN: Why can’t you go, why can’t you go vegan?

CLIFT: I would like to, but I wish I had somebody to -- being vegan is hard, because you really have to work to get your protein and you need to be creative about it. But, I mean, I moved away from beef and poor and all of that. I eat very little of that.

But as a society, we still consume huge amounts of what these pigs produce.

MCLAUGHLIN: Well --

(CROSSTALK)

CLIFT: Not -- we’re worried about the other things they produce, unfortunately.

(CROSSTALK)

MCLAUGHLIN: What accounts for the increase in farm ways in North Carolina? Can you speak to that?

RENNIE: We’re seeing a tremendous amount -- I mean, for one thing, Americans eat a lot of meat still. I mean, I notice as a foreigner, living here for several years, that bacon is the kind of candy of meats in this country.

PAGE: Bacon, bacon, yes.

RENNIE: They get stuffed in everything -- you know, sugar and bacon, bacon in everything.

(CROSSTALK)

RENNIE: So, clearly, there’s a problem.

Politically, I’ll tell you what’s going to get interesting, is that the piece that you cited at the beginning about one of these big, big players down in North Carolina is a company called Smithfield, based in -- right in the south of Virginia. They just got bought by the Chinese. And one of their big market growth is going to be raising meat here to export to China, because the Chinese middle class, they’re very worried about how safe their own meat is.

Now, I wonder, if we are just about comfortably politically with tons and tons of pig poop so that Americans can have double bacon burgers, if this is to actually send meat to China, but the poop ends up in the rivers of America, I wonder if that starts to change some of the political calculus, if these are Chinese pigs-.

(CROSSTALK)

CLIFT: Issue ready-made for Donald Trump.

(LAUGHTER)

MCLAUGHLIN: I have a stat on this that’s quite arresting. Pork exports, chiefly to Japan and China -- that should be a verb -- pork exports, chiefly to Japan and China, pork exports reached a record high of 431,000 metric tons worth $6.3 billion in 2012, up from a mere 57,000 metric tons in 2003. Can you work that around?

RENNIE: That’s -- well, they did the bacon and we get the poop. So, that’s -- you’re quite right.

(LAUGHTER)

RENNIE: I think Donald Trump is going to be putting on his waders and going around one of those lagoons.

CLIFT: Right.

(CROSSTALK)

PAGE: I think Trump prefers ham.

MCLAUGHLIN: Do you have thoughts on the poop situation?

FERRECHIO: Well, I think the EPA has moved increasingly to regulate waterways in the U.S. Of course, there’s a waters of the U.S. regulation that the Obama administration just put forward this year. The court has put a stay on that.

What it would do is allow the EPA to regulate bodies of water that are not as -- you know, your typical rivers and lakes, but smaller areas of water, in order to, you know, deal with issues just like this. What do we do with all this runoff that ends in these smaller bodies of water, but then migrates toward the larger bodies of water and creates these algae blooms and kills the fish and causes problem for the fishermen.

But Congress is really -- as you said, Eleanor -- moved to put the breaks on all this. The Republicans running the House and Senate don’t want more EPA regulations. They feel like it’s increasing the price of business, of course, protecting the farmers, the price of food -- do people want to pay more for their bacon burgers, in order to protect these waterways. It’s all going to be a balance I think with this point, with neither side getting everything they want.

MCLAUGHLIN: What’s the EPA say?

FERRECHIO: Well, the EPA, of course, wants to move in and use greater regulations on these bodies of water that are --

RENNIE: But they’ve been pretty timid on this one. I mean, that’s the complaint --

(CROSSTALK)

CLIFT: The political pressure --

RENNIE: They’ve been timid.

CLIFT: The political pressure is there. And if exports are generated, that helps the economy and so, you have all these competing pressures.

FERRECHIO: It’s a balance though.

CLIFT: We’re a capitalist country and business typically wins.

MCLAUGHLIN: The EPA is on pretty solid ground, it appears, because the waterways that are being polluted empty into -- they empty, that’s a verb -- empty into the Atlantic seaboard, theoretically making the problem one of the multiple state jurisdictions, as well as federal management of ocean fisheries.

But -- go ahead.

RENNIE: Well, America does have -- I mean, America, it seems to me, that environmental policy in America -- you know, in some other places, it’s kind of a gradual thing. Everyone’s fussed about it.

In America, you get to sort of massive crisis and things change fast. So, we remember, you know, in the late days of, say, the Nixon administration, where you had, you know, the great lakes and the rivers catching fire in the kind of the Rust Belt in the Midwest.

PAGE: Cuyahoga River.

RENNIE: Yes. And so, suddenly, everyone realized that this was unsustainable. You get a big leap forward. So, I think the American public is kind of willing to give business the benefit of the doubt, until you have a gigantic, very blatant crisis and then things move.

(CROSSTALK)

CLIFT: People start -- going start going recreational swimming and they encounter the pig waste --

RENNIE: Yes, this stuff drains into the Outer Banks.

CLIFT: Then, it will be on the front pages, and there might be some pressure to act.

So, John, I’m glad you did this issue. Maybe we’ll start waking up the public as to what’s going on out there and then --

PAGE: Save our bacon.

CLIFT: -- they’ll put pressure on their members of Congress.

MCLAUGHLIN: Well --

CLIFT: And in a perfect world the Congress will respond.

MCLAUGHLIN: There’s a lot of members of the public that are not too aggressively friendly to EPA and their position is, what’s the case against the EPA taking jurisdiction?

And the answer is, it’s an incremental step for management of industrial scale hog waste lagoons, to micromanagement of every farm or business in America that borders a waterway or watershed, you know? Big time regulation --

CLIFT: Fine, fine. What are they going to do about the lagoons, you know?

(LAUGHTER)

MCLAUGHLIN: With China’s -- with China’s economy in trouble, it’s likely that China’s appetite for imported port will shrink. And with that, so will the waste in lagoons, is that one of your points?

RENNIE: Well, I mean, I do like their pork. You know, I used to live in China and they eat a lot of pork and very tasty, but not bacon actually. Bacon is not known in China. But they do --

(CROSSTALK)

MCLAUGHLIN: When do you live in China?

RENNIE: I lived in China a decade ago for four years and I ate a lot of pork.

MCLAUGHLIN: Were you with the magazine?

RENNIE: I was with "The Daily Telegraph" – British newspaper.

MCLAUGHLIN: Which do you prefer, working for "The Daily Telegraph" or working for, where you’re working now?

RENNIE: I can honestly say, I preferred who I work for now.

CLIFT: Right.

(LAUGHTER)

RENNIE: Courageously praising my employers.

CLIFT: That’s the right response.

(CROSSTALK)

MCLAUGHLIN: Did you study over there how to be a successful politician? It sounds like it.

(LAUGHTER)

PAGE: Or diplomat.

MCLAUGHLIN: Or diplomat – better still.

RENNIE: In journalism, you cannot -- we’re clinging to all of our jobs.

MCLAUGHLIN: Why can’t China produce pork more cheaply at home?

RENNIE: It can, but it’s full of chemicals and cancer and horrible --

CLIFT: Yes, they --

RENNIE: If you’re a middle class Chinese, you don’t eat the local stuff.

CLIFT: They don’t have -- they don’t have an EPA that’s policing anything. They don’t have an FDA that’s policing anything. And the Chinese people are afraid of the products that are made in their own country.

RENNIE: In Shanghai last year, they had suddenly these dead pig bodies floating down the river through the city center.

PAGE: That’ll spoil your appetite.

MCLAUGHLIN: Is there any attention being paid to what we’re discussing in this in Congress?

FERRECHIO: Absolutely, because every opportunity they get, Republicans move to block the EPA. And on the waterways issue, they’re very upset about the EPA’s -- what they call this power grab, over these bodies of water. And so, they’re really trying to stop it. It’s possible they’ll try to do with the appropriations process. So, they are very much involved, in opposing it.

MCLAUGHLIN: Final nerd point I want to make here, with regard to what it costs per -- it costs 16 cents per pound to raise hogs in China, to manage China’s shrinking arable land, pollution that makes farming less productive and higher feed grain costs.

So, there you are, there’s the nerd value of this discussion.

FERRECHIO: Yes.

CLIFT: Right, OK.

MCLAUGHLIN: What’s the solution to this mess before we leave it? What’s the solution?

FERRECHIO: Becoming a vegetarian. I think Eleanor had it right.

CLIFT: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

RENNIE: Yes, vegan’s a bit much. Then you look like Bill Clinton, if you’re a vegan. Do we all want to look like Bill Clinton.

(CROSSTALK)

CLIFT: Go vegan.

MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is more vegans.

Issue Three: Peace in Syria.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I’m absolutely horrified by the total disregard for civilian life by all parties in this conflict. Attacks on civilians are unlawful, unacceptable and must stop.

MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): Syria’s brutal civil war has now raged for four years, and it has imposed a heavy cost, taking the lives of over 250,000 civilians. The bloodletting continues. Last month, Bashar al Assad’s military killed over 90 people in a bombing raid on a crowded marketplace near Damascus.

Today, much of Syria lies in ruins, its territory split between various warring factions. The Islamic State also known as ISIL, which controls vast swathes of territory in central, eastern and northern Syria. There are Kurdish forces battling with the al Qaeda-linked Nusra front in northern Syria. And many other Islamist rebel groups fighting each other and fighting President Assad’s forces.

This growing chaos has the United Nations greatly concerned. Last month, the U.N. Security Council passed a unanimous resolution calling on Syria’s warring parties to engage in a constructive dialogue towards eventual peace talks.

There are tentative signs of progress. Both Russia and Iran, which have long resisted Western demands that Bashar al Assad must give up power, are signaling new openness on Syria’s future.

Like the United States, Iran and Russia believe that the Islamic State, ISIS, poses the primary threat in Syria and that all other concerns, humanitarian or otherwise, must come second.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MCLAUGHLIN: Can there be a constructive dialogue that includes ISIS? And if any peace dialogue excludes ISIS, does it stand a chance of success?

I ask you, David.

RENNIE: There is no chance of peace dialogue with ISIS in it. ISIS, of all the parties in a very, very brutal civil war, there’s nothing we can give ISIS that will placate them and there’s nothing that ISIS wants that we can give. And they have a completely different blood-soaked position of how to run that corner of the world.

And the tragedy is, that Bashar al-Assad has understood that from the start. He deliberately released some of the most extreme jihadists from prison at the beginning of this, to say to the outside world, You have no choice but to deal with me, because everyone else on this battlefield is psychotic and so extreme that you have to deal with me.

Hopefully, hopefully, maybe this blood has flowed so much that even the Iranians, the Russians, are tiring of that argument.

MCLAUGHLIN: ISIS, by the way, means Islamic State of Syria and Iraq. You got that?

PAGE: Right.

MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

CLIFT: Well, it seems to me that after the Iran deal is concluded, there is an opening here for some diplomacy. And what’s changed, is that Russia has been brokering talks that include Saudi Arabia and Iran and the U.S. And there’s even been a representative from Syria. And I think the U.S. position that Assad must go, there’s some softening there, and the position of Russia in particular that Assad must stay, there’s some softening there.

And I think the humanitarian crisis is just overwhelming all of Europe. So, you’re going to get some pressure from Europe, for somebody to do something. And I --

(CROSSTALK)

CLIFT: I think there’s an opening here for diplomacy, but this is -- it’s gone on for four years. And so, at some point, some exhaustion sets in and Assad is not doing well on the battlefield. That may be the most critical factor.

PAGE: And also, there’s the difficulty of knowing, or being able to guess, what happens after Assad. We thought that we could solve Libya’s problems by overthrowing Gadhafi that Libya, the worst case scenarios have occurred in many ways, and also, opening up a gateway for refugees, a big refugee flood into Europe. And this is the same situation now, with people coming out of Syria?

So, there’s pressure all around to soften our opposition to Assad.

CLIFT: So, Assad has to be part of the solution if you --

(CROSSTALK)

MCLAUGHLIN: Russia’s position is that Assad must stay.

What do you hear on Capitol Hill about this issue, in any way, shape or form?

FERRECHIO: OK. This is interesting on Capitol Hill, because there’s a big contingency there of Republicans who really want Assad out of there, because of the way he treats his own people, he kills his own people, the way he’s going after people who the U.S. wants to train to defeat ISIS. It’s hard to figure out who the bad actors are there, and there are shifting allegiances in Congress.

There are a lot of folks, John McCain not least among them, chairman of the Armed Services Committee in the Senate, they want Assad out there. But again, once you remove Assad, what happens? As Clarence said, you have this power vacuum, and ISIL is right there to fill it. So, that’s no good either.

MCLAUGHLIN: Prediction, David?

RENNIE: Donald Trump will still be in the lead in the Republican polls.

MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

CLIFT: The support of former AIPAC head, Tom Dine, for the Iran deal is further evidence that the deal will survive Congress, and may not even come to a vote in the Senate.

MCLAUGHLIN: What’s the deal?

CLIFT: The deal with Iran to forestall their nuclear ambitions for at least a decade.

MCLAUGHLIN: Susan?

FERRECHIO: I predict the Congress will vote to disapprove the deal, but there won’t be enough of those votes to sustain the -- to overturn a presidential veto against a vote of disapproval. So, the deal will survive, I think.

MCLAUGHLIN: So you disagree with Eleanor?

FERRECHIO: I agree with Eleanor.

CLIFT: Right.

FERRECHIO: I do think they’ll first vote to disapprove of the deal in Congress.

MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence?

PAGE: I agree, and believe that the reopening of Britain’s embassy in Tehran is going to help the deal to survive, makes it more difficult for the U.S. to pull out.

MCLAUGHLIN: I predict, after investors recover from their China shock this month, they will rediscover that the U.S. economy is still growing and America is a safe place to invest and stocks will rebound accordingly.

Bye-bye!

END