THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP
HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN
JOINED BY: MICHAEL BARONE, TONY BLANKLEY,
ELEANOR CLIFT, AND CLARENCE PAGE
TAPED: FRIDAY, AUGUST 11, 2000
BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF AUGUST 12-13, 2000
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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: The anti-Clinton.
SENATOR JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D-CT, Democratic nominee for vice president): (From videotape.) Let's be very clear about this. It isn't me, Joe Lieberman, who deserves the credit and the congratulations for taking a bold step; it is Al Gore who broke this barrier in American history. (Cheers, applause.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That bold step, of course, is the naming of the first Jewish candidate ever on a presidential ticket. Lieberman is now Gore's vice presidential running mate, an opportunity that Lieberman gives eternal thanks for.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: (From videotape; statements were edited together from longer speech.) Dear Lord, Maker of all miracles, I thank You. (Applause.)
I am so grateful to God for --
-- that the good Lord has given me --
-- to give thanks to God --
-- thanks to God --
-- to sing to God, to make music to God --
-- glory, in gratitude to God --
-- of God Almighty --
-- God bless you -- (cheers) --
-- God bless you. (Cheers, applause.) God bless America.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lieberman also had more praise for earthly benefactor Al Gore.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: (From videotape.) He has never, never wavered in his responsibilities as a father, as a husband, and yes, as a servant of God Almighty. (Cheers, applause.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: At first glance, they are an odd couple. Gore has been cheerleader in chief to a commander in chief of such moral turpitude that political scientists and historians rate him 41st, the very bottom, of all U.S. presidents for moral authority -- notwithstanding Al Gore's rescue effort on the South Lawn on the very day of Clinton's impeachment.
VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE: (From videotape.) (In progress) -- a great disservice to a man I believe will be regarded in the history books as one of our greatest presidents.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Prime-time television programs could only with difficulty hint at some of the acts for which Mr. Clinton has used the Oval Office.
Lieberman, in stark contrast, has made morality and cultural values a passionate interest, decrying the depravity of contemporary entertainment and of Mr. Clinton for his, quote, "immoral and harmful relationship," unquote, with a former White House intern, quote, "half his age," unquote, thereby undermining, quote, "our democracy and its moral foundations," unquote.
Kudos to you, Tony Blankley. You and you alone among pundits worldwide predicted here on the McLaughlin Group two weeks ago that Al Gore would pick Joe Lieberman as his running mate. (Applause, cheer from a panelist.)
MR. BLANKLEY: (Chuckles.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Why all the God references in Lieberman's acceptance remarks? And what draws these odd fellows, Gore and Lieberman, together, Michael Barone?
MR. BARONE: Well, John, I suppose if we'd had all those God references from a Republican candidate for vice president out there, we would have heard that it was an orgy of hate and exclusionary of people that don't share the faith.
In fact, I think it would have been then what it was with Joe Lieberman, which was the spontaneous, unrehearsed expression of things that come genuinely from within him, that are important parts of his life.
I thought it was a little cruel to juxtapose them that way, I think, John. I was a little uncomfortable about that -- the way you did on the setup.
You know, the fact is, Al Gore needs a bath. That's what he needed in this convention and from this nomination -- to clean off the grime of association with Bill Clinton and the Clintonesque things that he has done and said himself, on occasion. I think Joe Lieberman gives him something of a bath, and a pretty good one.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: This is a celebration of an historic moment in putting a person of Jewish faith on the ticket. And you couldn't exactly sneak him on there, so I think it's appropriate.
Now I don't think we want to hear about God repeatedly through the election. I think enough is enough.
In terms of Al Gore "needing a bath," I agree with President Clinton's remarks that nobody who is fair-minded is going to associate Al Gore --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mm-hmm.
MS. CLIFT: -- with the acts that -- of a personal nature that the president indulged in.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mm-hmm.
MS. CLIFT: And Al Gore is trying to run on the Clinton record, and I think Joe Lieberman bolsters him with the center of the country. I think it's a very wise pick.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, I mean, I'm sure it was all sincere, but it does strike me that there's a double standard that's been established. There was a major article this week by people from the left arguing why it was okay for a liberal to express his love of God, but it was exclusionary if a conservative did so. And I think this is one of the problems we're getting with an attempt -- as an antidote to the Clinton morass, we're now getting an overdose the other way.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, and of course, Governor Bush took a beating when he talked about Jesus so much earlier.
MR. PAGE: Oh, yeah, a real beating, John! That's why he was ahead in the polls. Right!
I mean, this is all so overblown. You know, I was watching Joe Lieberman -- Elaine Boosler said the other night that Lieberman thanked God so many times, she thought he'd won a Grammy. (Chuckles.) And there was kind of that impression about the whole thing.
But you know, Al Gore needs Joe Lieberman. "He needs him like an umbrella" is the way I would put it. You know, everybody's been talking about --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that he needs him the way Bush needed Cheney? Cheney supplied gravitas --
MR. PAGE: Yeah.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and theoretically, Lieberman will supply pietas.
MR. PAGE: Well, just --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that reasonable?
MR. PAGE: I think, in some ways --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So it's a hole in the resum‚ that has to be filled?
MR. PAGE: There you go.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. The Clinton stain. Clearly, the Gore people realize from the field that the single biggest drag on Gore is Clinton's conduct. So this week, Clinton himself got into the act to clear Gore of guilt by association.
PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: (From videotape.) I used to say this about Al Gore all the time. I used to say -- when I was being criticized, I would say, "Well, you know, he doesn't get enough credit for what we did together that is good." And surely no fair-minded person would blame him for any mistake that I made.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's guilt by association. But one of Gore's problems is that some people think he was an enabler.
MR. BARONE: Well, he certainly --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you buy that?
MR. BARONE: He was certainly an endorser -- the statement quoted out on the steps of the Capitol, on this sort of pep rally that they had on the night of impeachment, which Senator Byrd, Democrat, said was one of the most disgusting things he'd seen, or words of that nature --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.
MR. BARONE: -- in his political career -- and Al Gore participating wholeheartedly in that and so forth. There is something there that says it's a problem for him politically.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think of --
MS. CLIFT: You know, I didn't hear the word "impeachment" once at the Republican Convention. And I think most fair-minded Republicans have come to the conclusion that impeachment was not the proper punishment for what Clinton did. They would like to vote the Democrats out of office.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But we're not talking about that. We're talking about whether he was an enabler. What about that enabler?
MS. CLIFT: Well, no, he wasn't an enabler. And if you look at every statement Al Gore made during that period, he carefully separated himself from the president's personal conduct and endorsed his performance as a public steward, as a president.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Were you persuaded by --
MS. CLIFT: And that's what the American people have done, as well.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How did you like the Clinton presentation of his views in that little interview?
MR. BLANKLEY: Look, I don't think the confessions of an aging roue makes a lot of difference one way or the other. But the point is, it was straw man, as it always is with Clinton. What Gore needs is -- no one holds Gore guilty for Clinton's activity with Lewinsky. They do hold him responsible for the Buddhist temple. They do hold him responsible for his making up stuff, whether it's the Internet, for being willing to say and do anything to get elected. Those are the areas -
MR. BARONE: Missing e-mails.
MR. BLANKLEY: -- that he can't be helpful.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. We've got to get out. The Gore communications -- excuse me -- yeah, the Gore communications director said that the presentation by Clinton was a distraction.
Exit: On a moral absolution scale of zero to 10, zero meaning eternally condemned; 10 meaning metaphysical absolution, the stain never existed; how much absolution does Lieberman give Gore?
MR. BARONE: Well, 6.4, obviously, John.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think, Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: I think that's about right. He makes it harder for the Republicans to argue that they're the only ones to restore honor and dignity. And now Al Gore can move on to issues, which is how this race is going to be decided.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think? Is there a transference that's taken place, a "pietas" transference, like the gravitas presumed transference?
MR. BLANKLEY: I don't think that "ethicas" can be transferred any more than gravitas. I think zero.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?
MR. PAGE: I think a 10. I think Lieberman completely covers Al Gore now, and now this race does have to go on to other issues. Gore also this week promised that there would be no negative attacks, which is an even more interesting promise.
MS. CLIFT: No negative personal attacks.
MR. PAGE: Right, no negative personal attacks.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think the lid is now on the cesspool?
MR. PAGE: It will be interesting to see.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I don't think so. I think it's probably a "2" rating, but it's something.
When we come back, how big a drawback to Gore are Lieberman's deviations from Democratic party line?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two: Lieberman, the political factor. As U.S. senator from Connecticut, what's Joe Lieberman's political identity?
Item: Big spender, bix taxer, big regulator. From 1992 through '99, Lieberman voted against lower taxes and against lower spending, and for higher taxes and for higher spending three-fourths of the time, 76 percent. On a liberal scale, Lieberman scores more liberal than well-known Senate liberals Paul Wellstone, Barbara Boxer, Chuck Schumer. This includes every roll call vote affecting taxes, spending, debt, regulation. So says the National Taxpayers Union, NTU, think tank.
Item: Democratic orthodoxy. Lieberman votes the straight Democratic line on abortion, gun control, environment, gay rights, minimum wage.
Item: Democratic heterodoxy. Lieberman deviates from the Democratic line on free trade, which he favors; Social Security partial privatization, favors; capital gains tax cut, favors; school choice, favors; missile defense, favors; teachers unions, critical of; Gulf War; one of 10 Democrats who supported it; affirmative action, disfavors.
Item: What watchdogs think. Americans for Democratic Action, ADA, the premier liberal rating system, assigns Lieberman a near-perfect 95 percent liberal rating. Conversely, the American Conservative Union, ACU, out of a possible 100 percent perfect conservative rating, Lieberman gets zero.
Item: Adding it up. Votes with his party 87 percent of the time, with President Clinton nine times out of 10, 89 percent. Lieberman is no centrist, no moderate.
Question: Given Lieberman's record, is it fair to characterize him as Gore's Cheney, meaning Lieberman's voting record is as staunchly Democratic as Cheney's is Republican? I ask you, Tony Blankley.
MR. BLANKLEY: No, I don't think that's correct, because the heterodoxy votes that you identified are important ones, or the positions, on Social Security privatization, on education vouchers, on missile defense, on capital gains tax cuts. These are big --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: On affirmative action.
MR. BLANKLEY: And affirmation action.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Against it.
MR. BLANKLEY; Yeah. These are big issues, in which not only is he not liberal, but he makes it harder for Gore to demagogue those issues because if his own running mate agrees with Bush on those issues, then reasonable people can differ.
MS. CLIFT: It was delicious this week listening to the Republicans complain this ticket is too centrist, that --
MR. PAGE: Too close to George Bush.
MS. CLIFT: Right, it's too close to George Bush. I mean, music to my ears, if you want the Democrats to win. And, you know, you've taken enormous liberties with Mr. Lieberman's voting record here. All those votes in favor of no lower taxes, that was the Clinton budget plan that's helped give us the robust economy we have. And the spending is for things like education, things people want. And --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you attacking me, or the statistical data?
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, I'm talking about you and that --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you're attacking the ADA, you're attacking the American Conservative Union.
MS. CLIFT: No, I'm attacking your (shorthand in ?) portraying his votes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All I presented was the statistics. I find that there's a bit of a mystery about Joe.
MR. PAGE: Actually, John, you're helping give Joe Lieberman some cover with Gore's political base --
MR. BARONE: Exactly. Exactly.
MR. PAGE: -- which has been criticizing Lieberman for not being liberal enough. So Lieberman should be thanking you for that.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This liberalism secures his base?
MR. BARONE: This is more of a ticket-balancing ticket than the Republican ticket this year. There are some differences there, and, you know, Joe Lieberman is now changing his positions on some things. And as King Henry IV said in 1594 when he switched from Protestantism to Catholicism, "Paris is worth a mass," the fact is there's still no entirely dignified way of changing your clothes in public. I mean, Lieberman is now presenting us with a previously --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the point?
MR. BARONE: On Social Security investment accounts, he now says it's not a practical idea. Before, he said it was right. School vouchers, he's saying, "Well, I still think it's a good idea," but Gore's view prevails. But it was interesting that Al Gore then says, at the same time, though, he says -- Al Gore said, "If I was a resident of a ghetto, I think I would want school vouchers."
MS. CLIFT: Well --
MR. BARONE: Why shouldn't they have the same privilege as their --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on, Eleanor.
MR. BARONE: Why shouldn't the people --
MS. CLIFT: Well, why don't tell HIM to hold on? (Laughs.)
MR. BARONE: It raises the question --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to frame this.
MR. BARONE: It raises the question of why the people in the ghetto shouldn't have the opportunity to send their kids to private school that Al Gore took advantage of.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay.
Say it ain't so, Joe. Within 48 hours of his nomination, as pointed out here, in part, Lieberman backtracked on three of his positions: school vouchers; two, Social Security; three, moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. And we don't have time to get into the complicating factor of the involvement of Mr. Lieberman on this ticket at this particular time with these negotiations going on.
Question: Does his triple-fink- -- his double -- triple-fink-out suggest that instead of being Mr. Pietas, he is "Mr. Opportunitas"? And if that impression sticks, is his usefulness to Gore shot? I ask you.
MR. PAGE: Well, you're putting a wonderfully negative spin on the most wonderful week -- (laughter) -- for Gore, for Lieberman, for the country, and which, John, believe it or not --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think he backtracked?
MR. PAGE: I know it may be hard to believe from the perspective of this program, but the country right now likes niceness. (Chuckling.) They like compromise. They like people moving towards the center and trying to find common ground.
MS. CLIFT: Right.
MR. PAGE: Lieberman is showing himself to -- (inaudible) --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think his backtracking looks to people as though he is an opportunist?
MR. BLANKLEY: Look, when someone presents himself to the country as a man of particular integrity, then, when you start having these normal backpedalings of the average, run-a-day politician, it's going to withdraw his appeal.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's -- he's going to lose his --
MR. BLANKLEY: It's not there yet.
MR. PAGE: I'm sure the Republicans --
MS. CLIFT: You guys -- you guys --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: You guys are "Mr. Desperatas" in trying to portray Mr. Lieberman as something other than what he is. On vouchers, he was one of three Democrats who voted for an experiment in the District of Columbia. It's not a crusade he's on. On Social Security privatization, like other members of the Democratic Leadership Council, like Elaine Kamarck, who works for Al Gore, you study this, and you can't get from here to there without taking a trillion dollars out of the Social Security.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know, your ability --
MS. CLIFT: That is a reasonable position that he has taken.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Your ability to -- your ability --
MS. CLIFT: But he's not weaseling.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- your ability --
MR. BLANKLEY: He's weaseling! He's weaseling!
MS. CLIFT: It's intelligent --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor --
MS. CLIFT: It's intelligent for --
MR. BLANKLEY: He's weaseling and backpedaling.
MR. PAGE: He's turning into a Republican! That what's disappointing you. (Chuckles.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, your gloss on Lieberman for the vouchers is really very inexact.
MR. PAGE: It's also accurate. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He has been -- he has been a thorn in the side of the teachers' unions because he has consistently advocated vouchers for the fact that it enhances -- it enhances --
MR. PAGE: A very small thorn, John. A very small thorn, John.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and he's been on that for years.
MS. CLIFT: What did the teachers' unions say to -- (inaudible)? (Chuckles.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue three: Joseph Isador Lieberman -- the Jewish Factor.
In a poll conducted after Gore announced Lieberman as his running mate, 88 percent said Lieberman's religion would make no difference; 7 percent, it makes him a more appealing candidate; and 4 percent, less appealing.
This poll and other polls that reach the same conclusion are comforting, in that they tend to rule out anti-Semitism, but the problem is, the polls are suspect. "You have a lot of careful anti-Semites in this country, respectful anti-Semites, who never do anything publicly to betray their views." So says Rabbi Marvin Hier, who heads an L.A.-based group that monitors religious intolerance.
Question: Is Gore risking an anti-Semitic backlash, Eleanor Clift?
MS. CLIFT: Not that it matters. I think, under the anonymity of the Internet, some of the hate groups will come out.
But frankly, I don't think anybody who is going to vote on the basis of anti-Semitism would be choosing the more progressive of the two presidential candidates to begin with.
MR. BARONE: Some --
MR. PAGE: Very few. It's a wash.
MR. BARONE: Some would --
MS. CLIFT: That's not -- it's not going to be measurable.
MR. BARONE: I don't think that --
MR. PAGE: It's a wash.
MR. BARONE: I agree with Eleanor's overall point that I don't think you're going to see huge masses of voter -- work against Democratic Party or the Gore-Lieberman ticket. It seems to me those numbers on the screen, I think, actually are to be taken pretty closely at face value. The number of people who would rule out a candidate because he's Jewish is smaller, is more than offset by those who find it attractive to move beyond what has been a barrier. I think many -- very many Americans feel that way. I feel that way to some extent, myself. (Inaudible.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that, anti-Semitism aside, they might take the view that because he is Jewish, a Jewish American, that he might be favoring Israel?
MR. BARONE: I think not. I mean, Joe -- one of the interesting things about Joe Lieberman's career is that he took a front-row-center part on the Gulf War debate. He went out in front. He took --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: One of 10.
MR. BARONE: One of 10 Democrats. But unlike Al Gore, who was the 99th out of 99 senators to make up his mind and voted for the Gulf War resolution, Lieberman led the fight and he took the risk that some people will say, "You're just doing this because you're Jewish," and he made a strong case and it worked.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. We've got quite a ways to go here. African American backlash. Blacks are four times more likely to be anti-Semitic than whites, according to the Anti-Defamation League. Are we seeing this already?
LEE ALCORN (Branch President, NAACP): (From audio tape.) We get a Jew person, then what I'm wondering is, I mean, what is this movement for, you know? Does it have anything to do with the failure of the -- with the failure of the peace talks? I mean, what is actually behind this? So I think we need to be very suspicious of any kind of partnership between the Jews at that kind of level, because we know that their interest primarily has to do with, you know, with money and these kinds of things.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: The Crown Heights riots in New York viscerally demonstrate the tensions between blacks and Jews. How is that going to play out in a national election? I ask you, Clarence?
MR. PAGE: Well, I happen to be doing a column on that this week and I went back and looked at all the surveys that have been done on black-Jewish relations. There have been precious few, unfortunately. But the ADL survey that you cited actually stands out alone in showing such a huge amount of anti-Semitism among blacks.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you believe it? Do you believe it?
MR. PAGE: I don't believe it is that great. There is certain stereotyping that black folks tend to show, and Alcorn, who you cited, was one of them. But overall, blacks and Jews work together, historically, more closely than any other ethnic groups around the planet.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know that blacks are going to vote heavily for Gore. Do you think Lieberman is going to lose Gore any black votes?
MR. PAGE: No, I don't, because you look, again, historically, blacks vote for Jewish candidates more -- in higher numbers -- than other gentiles do.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay.
MR. PAGE: And Jews vote for black candidates in higher percentages than --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think it's fair to say that Clarence speaks for all of us in his assessment, right?
MR. PAGE: I usually do. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Arab Americans. the Arab American and Muslim Americans in the United States add up to 7 1/2 million -- in the same statistical range as Jewish Americans and, by the way, they're avoiding overlap between Muslims and Arab Americans. I have accommodated that in the statistics. About 7 1/2 million, as nearest we can judge.
The Arab Muslim Americans are most numerous in Illinois, Ohio, New Jersey and Michigan, in the last of which they consist of 4 percent of voters. Question: Lieberman brings no help to Gore on the electoral map, largely unknown outside of Connecticut, where Gore is already the likely winner, but he does bring these electoral unknowns: anti-Semitism, black-Jewish tension, 7 1/2 million Arab and Muslim Americans, and he puts the Senate seat in Connecticut at risk -- which, by the way, he is not going to give up. Plus his vouchers, Social Security privatization, capital gains and missile defense positions discomfit his base.
So, is Gore getting more minuses for the arguable pietas-plus that Lieberman gives him? Michael.
MR. BARONE: I'd say he's getting more pluses, John, and I'd just like to note for the record that Kweisi Mfume, the head of the NAACP, fired this man in Dallas that made the anti-Semitic remarks.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, what do you think? More pluses or minuses?
MS. CLIFT: If Al Gore had gone to the left to choose a vice presidential running mate, he probably would have been conceding this election. Elections are won in the middle, and Lieberman brings that to the ticket. I think it's far more pluses than minuses. It's a good thematic choice.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that Gore panicked at the Clinton albatross trouble and that he would have been better off going to, say, Graham in Florida, tried to pick up a state, and with Graham or someone of that caliber, also ridden through the Clinton problem?
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, I suspect that this was more a reflection on Al Gore's psychological frame of mind than a pure political calculation.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Meaning what?
MR. BLANKLEY: I've talked to a lot of operatives. They don't see what Lieberman brings to the ticket. Someone like Graham would bring something to the ticket.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think it's a net negative or a net plus or a draw?
MR. BLANKLEY: It's somewhere in the zone of a draw. The one good thing it did was it sort of stopped the post-convention bounce for Bush.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?
MR. PAGE: When I first heard about it, I thought it might be a negative. But as the week went by, the response has been so universally favorable, right and left, that I have to say: Why didn't we think of him before? Except Tony did! (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, it's very difficult not to like Joe Lieberman a lot.
MR. PAGE: Yeah. Thank you!
He may even outshine Al Gore --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He sells himself by his charm and, I think, by his faith.
MR. BARONE: More charm than Al Gore.
MR. PAGE: (Chuckles.)
MS. CLIFT: He's --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But looking it coldly, politically, analytically, I fail to see that he brings anything to the ticket that is any way near what is being projected.
MR. PAGE: That's why we have elections.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In fact, at best, I would say, it's a draw.
We'll be right back with predictions.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Michael?
MR. BARONE: House Democrats will not get a bounce in generic polls off the convention.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They will not?
MR. BARONE: No, I don't think so.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: Federal money for the Reform Party ticket will be held up in court long enough that it won't do any good for either Pat Buchanan or John Hagelin in the election.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?
MR. BLANKLEY: Lieberman at the Democratic convention is going to feel under sufficient pressure to say something about Hollywood, as he always has -- otherwise, he'll be seen as a hypocrite -- that he will in fact say -- make a negative comment about Hollywood and culture at the -- in Los Angeles.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will it have the same octane that he has used hitherto?
MR. BLANKLEY: No, it'll be more subdued.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Then how will that be interpreted by those who wish to look at him as Mr. Pietas?
MR. BLANKLEY: He's going to try to just say enough that he can't be accused of hypocrisy.
MR. PAGE: Gore's going to win California, despite Ralph Nader.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If Gore-Lieberman -- if Gore-Lieberman give high profile to a Patients Bill of Rights over the coming two weeks, Republicans convening after Labor Day will pass their own bill of rights before they leave in early October. Otherwise, no bill of rights this year.
Next week: L.A. It's showtime, and the group will be on site, in Los Angeles, to give you depth -- in-depth, spin-free analysis, opinion, and forecast.
®FC¯END OF REGULAR SEGMENT
PBS SEGMENT FOLLOWS
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue five: In God we trust.
The House of Representatives gave its blessing in July to a measure allowing the national motto, "in God we trust" -- get this -- to be displayed in public buildings. The measure passed with only one representative speaking against it.
It's also the latest push to give religion a more prominent role in society. Ten Commandments can be publicly displayed, according to a bill approved last year by the House of Representatives. "With God, all things are possible," the motto of the state of Ohio, was given support in June by the House of Representatives. "In God We Trust," the long-standing motto, can now be displayed in all Colorado public schools, following a ruling in July by the state school board. These measures are all non-binding, meaning it's up to individual institutions to decide whether to feature the messages. Critics say these statements violate separation of church and state. Proponents say the utterances unite people and serve as a moral compass.
Question: George W. Bush mentions Jesus on every third page and Joe Lieberman mentions God every third paragraph. Will there be more prayer in the public schools during our next presidency, and is that a good idea? I ask you, Tony?
MR. BLANKLEY: I would like to see people acting in a more religious way without being quite as explicit about it as Lieberman and other politicians have been. I think there's every right to have prayer in the school and references to God on our currency. I don't see any problem with that, but the displaying, the verbalizing of secular religious -- of particular -- religious faith, I think, is maybe constitutional, but it's not --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that Bill Clinton's misbehavior is the precipitant for all of the God reference in current presidential rhetoric?
MR. BLANKLEY: No, I think it preceded his bad behavior. Clinton himself brought a certain measure of that to the office and to the Democratic Party, as did Jimmy Carter before him. I think, John, we're in an age of confession, when successful public figures wear their emotions on their sleeves, and this is true of old-line WASPs like George W. Bush as it is of Orthodox Jews like Joe Lieberman. Anyone in public office now, if they look around, is seeing that the way to succeed is to have an emotional catharsis behind --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But why doesn't the Supreme Court go along with this shift in the culture, if that is what's going on -- the political culture is changing in this regard?
MS. CLIFT: Because the Supreme Court is right to hold the line. But what's happening here is an extraordinary rise in spirituality, and I think it has to do with the aging of the baby boomers, who are beginning to understand they're not immortal, and --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Where are you seeing that rise in spirituality?
MS. CLIFT: It's across the country. I mean, the baby boomers raising children are interested in instilling religious values --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, we live --
MR. BARONE: Well, John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: People today are having an uncontrollable love affair with money! You've got "How to Become a Millionaire" --
MR. BARONE: John -- John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- or to marry a millionaire.
MR. BARONE: John, I think you're also seeing -- you're seeing a decline in certain kinds of behaviors that most of us consider to be bad. You're seeing an increase in charitable contribution and giving. I think there's a lot of evidence of what Eleanor is talking about.
You've seen surges in the membership of evangelical churches, of certain kinds of Roman Catholic churches; you've seen surges in Orthodox Judaism and the Mormon -- the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Since Jimmy Carter came along the scene and proclaimed himself a born-again Christian, a politician --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you a baby boomer?
MR. BARONE: Am I a -- it depends on when you start the baby boom, John. I don't think we want to get into birth dates here. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. How politically correct can you get? He won't reveal his birth date!
What I want to know from you is -- you, as a baby boomer -- if what she's saying is true.
MR. BARONE: Yes --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you experiencing any kind of a spiritual attraction that you care to talk about?
MR. BARONE: No, I think that -- that I care to talk about? No, not that I care to talk about, but I do see evidence around --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you see it in your peers?
MR. BARONE: I see it a lot in peers. It's interesting; you talk to members of the press about this sometimes, and you find out that a lot of people that seem to you to be very secular, in fact, have strong --
MS. CLIFT: Well --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And they want to take -- and they want their children to be brought up in habits of religion --
MR. BARONE: Very often, yes. It's an interesting surprise to me.
MS. CLIFT: And Democrats don't want to concede the values debate to Republicans.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.
MS. CLIFT: Ever since Michael Dukakis lost -- there was a sense that he was too secular --
MR. PAGE: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, do you think --
MS. CLIFT: -- Democrats have been wrapping themselves in religion in public.