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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: The Gore Tilt.

(The song "Walking on Sunshine," by Katrina and the Waves, is played over footage of Gore campaign appearances.)

Al Gore has a code name from the Secret Service. They call him "Sundance," and that's what he's doing these days -- walking on sunshine. Why? The numbers. In a remarkable transformation, George Bush has lost his double-digit lead over Gore of only three weeks ago. Gore now leads Bush by six points, says one new poll.

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX, Republican presidential nominee): (From videotape.) I am the underdog. Sure I am. But I've been the underdog when I first started. People got to understand this is going to be a tight race.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Both candidates are campaigning fiercely during the critical post-Labor Day sprint, with November's finish line only eight weeks away. Think about it. In eight short weeks, Bush or Gore will be president of the United States. It's daunting.

Gore's current momentum has puzzled analysts. Many factors have been advanced as to how it came about, the dominant one probably being this: Gore's populism -- or demagoguery, as some call it.

VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE (Democratic presidential nominee): (From videotape.) Big tobacco, big oil, the big polluters, the pharmaceutical companies, the HMOs.

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: (From videotape.) The key difference in this election is this: We're for the people; they're for the powerful. We're for you. We're for your families. (Cheers, applause.) We're for your future.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This rhetoric, aimed at working-class undecided voters, contrasts with Bill Clinton's 1996 New Democrat strategy, a strategy that courted affluent, business-friendly suburbanites, Clinton promising to build consensus in Washington, to keep prosperity on track.

Not for Gore. He's milking class warfare, like a contortionist on a tightrope, balancing a robust, pro-business economy he and Clinton say is their creature with a hostile, anti-business, big-tobacco, big-oil, big-polluters invective. You figure it out.

Question: At week's end another poll, the Washington Post-ABC News Poll, showed Gore, 47 percent; Bush, 47 percent; Nader, 3 (percent); Buchanan, less than 1 percent. Also, a new poll from Battleground 2000, the Ed Goeas, Celinda Lake survey with a spectacular record of accuracy in presidential polling, also has the race in an absolute dead heat. Is class warfare the Archimedes' fulcrum or lever that has brought Gore into equilibrium with Bush?

Lawrence Kudlow?

MR. KUDLOW: I don't think the class warfare has done it. I think what's really hurt Governor Bush in the last month or so is his either unwillingness or inability to rebut the class warfare, left wing, anti-business populism, which is either a throwback to the 1960s or maybe the 1980s, William Jennings Bryan versus William McKinley in 1896, which, John, by the way, McKinley won, as you may recall.


MR. KUDLOW: But I think that Bush has not answered the Gore charges on his tax and fiscal plan, on his education plan, on his foreign policy and strategic military defense plans. He has been silent. He has not put forth his message. He has not put forth his issues. He has given the arena over to Gore, and I think that's the principal reason why the polls have narrowed to a dead heat.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And the Gore team, of course, in their rapid response capability, are absolutely awesome. Would you not agree, Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: Yeah. They're very good. But if Bush wants to defend Big Oil and the HMOs and the big polluters, I don't think that's a great strategy either. Look. The Republicans have classified this as class warfare; but it's very modulated. Gore has picked his targets carefully. Plus the phrase, "Fighting for working families" has already morphed into "Fighting for middle-class families." So he's not going full-throated populism.

It's worked up to this point. It's gotten the attention of the American people, along with a successful convention and a historic pick of a vice president. And the biggest sign that it's working is that our friend, George W. Bush, is now remaking himself. Just as he did in the primaries, adopted John McCain's slogan, "Reformer with results," his new slogan is "Real plans for real people." Sounds like a little populism there, too.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony, what are your keen pensees on the subject of why George Bush is in a lower position, has a voting deficit, a popular poll deficit with Al Gore?

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, I think it's less Archimedes' fulcrum than Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, where the observation of an event changes the nature of the event. I think everything that Lawrence said is --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the observation of the event? What are we talking about?

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, the media. The media --


MR. BLANKLEY: Now, I agree with Lawrence on the shortcomings of the Bush candidacy, but the media has exaggerated, as they always do. They exaggerated when Gore was down, and now they're exaggerating when Bush is down. And they inflate the problem that the candidate has when the media is in the full thrust of exaggerating. I think that -- you know, presidential campaigns are largely mistakes well or poorly recovered from. And we're going to see in the next week or two whether the Bush team can recover as well as the Gore team did three weeks ago.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, the momentum has stopped. We're now at dead calm, are we not?

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah. My sense is that it moved from a movement towards Gore to a --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. Now, the question is whether or not issues played a role in providing Gore with this tilt. Here are some of the issues that you can reflect on as you see them on the screen. These are supposedly the Gore issues: prescription drugs, education, health care, economy, Social Security, budget and environment. I'd take Social Security off that list, because in the Zogby poll that just came out, Bush is narrowly ahead, which is all the more surprising because what Bush wishes to do is put Social Security in this massive transformation by permitting some privatization into it; is remarkable.

MR. KUDLOW: And -- John, just to cut in for one second, Bush has also got a lead in the same Zogby poll on tax cuts, and tax cuts is the full fulcrum of the class warfare, populist argument Gore is making. So the point is this: once Governor Bush starts to rebut this, as I believe he will -- he actually began on the health care plan -- once he rebuts this, once he stays with his message of lower taxes;, choice, competition in health care and education, he is going to grab the lead back --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, I'm more -- I understand --

MR. KUDLOW: That is the way this thing is going to go.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I understand, and that's very well stated.

But I want to put the question to you -- and by the way, the two areas that are unmistakably the issues of George Bush are tax cuts and, as you see up there, the defense. Now, how do you parse any of -- all of these issues? Do you see any one powerful enough -- perhaps pharmaceuticals for the aged -- do you see any one of them as providing the heft that is doing what it's doing for Gore?

MR. WARREN: To allay your and Larry's fears of the preppie Marxist coming to power in a couple of months -- Al Gore -- oh, come on. He's centrist. His running mate is very centrist. I think the big issue remains the economy. The overriding fact is, if the economy will still be as prosperous, and if folks will think as well as they are still thinking of Bill Clinton, Al Gore wins. There's an inevitable linkage.

And the problem with the Bush candidacy is that he's sort of gotten way off message; that nice comforting, alluring personality that he was projecting is no longer there. He has tried to attack and counterattack and he can't do it. Al Gore's elbows are a lot sharper than his.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clearly, not withstanding your beautiful exposition here, the big lever is the pharmaceuticals, isn't that true? And doesn't he run a risk, however, because the pharmaceutical companies have contributed so much to the health of America. Look at some of the pharmaceuticals that have come into existence -- central nervous system, Zyban, Zantac, Zofran. Now, I have no -- I have no investment in any of these companies, I want you to know that. But it is because -- it is because of the research capability -- what Gore wants to do is strangulate these companies.

MR. BLANKLEY: I think that there is a potential for a very strong Bush argument that the Gore plan will result in price controls on prescription drugs that will reduce -- undercapitalize the drug business and, therefore --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And the research.

MR. BLANKLEY: -- and therefore deny us --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And we cannot forget Viagra! (Laughter.)

MR. BLANKLEY: Who can forget Viagra!

Nine out of 10 drugs that they research don't make it to market, and they have to pay -- the 10th one to make it to market has to pay for the research on the other nine.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So the demonizing -- the demonizing of the pharmaceutical industry is seemingly unwise both politically and certainly on merit.

Okay, the kiss. The kiss.

When Al laid one on Tipper on the convention, it ran well in the public. Hot blood runs in these veins. Unsurprisingly, amongst the ladies, more think Al the handsomer devil: 52 percent Gore, 24 percent Bush. And, unsurprisingly, again, more women will vote for Al: 54 percent Gore, 33 percent Bush. An amazing positive turnaround for Gore. Last month Gallup gave Bush the lead among women: 51 percent Bush, 42 percent Gore.

Question: Has Bush done anything to repel women, or has Al Gore done anything to attract them, other than his demonstrative osculation of Tipper? I ask you.

MR. WARREN: The answer is yes. Bush has come off of late as whiny and petulant. I think that's turned off a lot of folks. He's --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In what respect? How? Where? When?

MR. WARREN: He's underscored the character -- the caricature of the frat boy in the fencing with the reporter, which we're going to get into, in some of his counterattacks against Gore. He's just come off without the same positive allure that he once had.

MS. CLIFT: No, no -- (inaudible) --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean that's done enough to estrange women from him to the tune of where some 51 percent in favor of Gore --

MR. WARREN: Some women. Some women.

MS. CLIFT: As the sole woman on the panel, I would like to point out that the convention humanized Al Gore -- not just the kiss, the whole convention humanized Al Gore. And he's neutralized the personality contest with George W. Bush.

But this is about issues. Look at the issues where Gore has a commanding lead: health care, education. These are the concerns that women really care about.

MR. BLANKLEY: Right, but that --

MS. CLIFT: It's issues that have --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So you think those issues are even more important than the economy right now.

MR. KUDLOW: No, no.

MS. CLIFT: Well, they're part of the economy, but women care about the economy, too. And --

MR. KUDLOW: They're part of it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right, right. What I'm getting at is when the country is at peace, and when we are feeling fat and sassy, the issues that come into play are the secondary issues, which are education, the environment, and medicine and health.

MS. CLIFT: But they're not secondary in people's everyday lives.

MR. KUDLOW: No -- no, no, no. Bush -- lookit, here too Bush --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, but they are not the massive --

MR. BLANKLEY: They are -- (inaudible) --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- they are not the massive, big-lever issues, like the economy, or like a -- like even defense.

(Cross talk.)

MR. KUDLOW: These are like the spokes of a wheel, and the economy is always going to be at the center of that wheel. But you see, here too Governor Bush went off message. He stopped pressing his own issues of free markets, private --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why? Because he was distracted by the debate?

MR. KUDLOW: Perhaps so, John. But the point I want to make is, if and when he does go back to the issues -- I believe he will; it's imminent -- you're going to see a change in this.

Lookit, take the bashing of big businesses and pharmaceuticals. Millions of Americans work in those businesses. Tens of millions of Americans invest in those businesses. Al Gore is going to turn them off.

But George Bush has got to make the case. George Bush has got to make the case.

MR. WARREN: And Larry -- and Larry, speaking of -- Larry --

MS. CLIFT: You know, with all due respect, that is nonsense. That is nonsense.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to hear Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: The pharmaceutical companies make a exorbitant profits.

MR. KUDLOW: They do not make --


MS. CLIFT: You have Republicans --

MR. KUDLOW: This is an unsubstantiated assertion.

MS. CLIFT: Excuse me, Larry. I get to finish now. Republicans are making --

MR. KUDLOW: You have an unsubstantiated assertion.

MS. CLIFT: -- Republicans are making the case also that there is greed involved on the part of the pharmaceutical companies.

MR. KUDLOW: Eleanor --

MS. CLIFT: And the notion that you can't have prescription drug benefits for senior citizens --

MR. KUDLOW: Eleanor, your utopian views on this are beyond the pale.

MS. CLIFT: No, it's not. This is not utopian. You are the only person obsessed with tax cuts.

MR. KUDLOW: The fact of the matter is --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. All right. Let's hear -- I want to hear from Lawrence about -- Lawrence, tell us --

MR. KUDLOW: Bush is running ahead on tax cuts.

MS. CLIFT: Oh, we've heard plenty from Lawrence. We get the message from Lawrence. (Laughter.) It's tax cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts. (Chuckles.)

MR. KUDLOW: But I want to make a different point. Bush has come up with a very good program with respect to Medicare and prescription drugs.

MS. CLIFT: No, he hasn't.

MR. KUDLOW: At the margin of change, he is inserting market competition and consumer choice, rather than Al Gore's Hillary II takeover by the government of the health care industry.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know, I've been listening -- I've been listening --

MR. KUDLOW: But Bush has to make this case.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- I've been listening to the four of you, and I think some of your insights are instructive. But I don't think you've gone right to heart of the matter. The reason why Al Gore is ahead of George Bush is very simple and has nothing to do with any of the foregoing. It has to do with the fact that his campaign spent $35 million over the summer while George Bush spent 25 million, and the 10 million that Al Gore poured into it went into Cleveland and Cincinnati and St. Louis and Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, into those key markets. And they have pretty much taken over those markets, and no one has noticed it.

MR. WARREN: And poor George Bush, poor George Bush, the underdog with 100 million bucks~! How do you portray yourself as the one --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What I'm saying is that, through some alchemy that I don't quite understand, Bush's team failed to --

MR. WARREN: But there is also --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- failed to spend enough money to keep pace with Gore.

MR. WARREN: But he's getting out the --

(Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So Gore can -- and he spent it through the entire summer.

MR. KUDLOW: And what they did spend --

MR. WARREN: Larry -- Larry, hold a second. The problem is less the rapidity and the ubiquity of the message but the substance of it, and when it comes to the core issue for him -- the tax cut that you stay awake at night hoping for, Larry -- it is not selling.

MR. KUDLOW: I think it is.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The rationale that was used -- but the rationale that was used by the Bush team to delay getting into advertising to the extent that the opposition were --

MR. KUDLOW: Was probably unwise.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- is because they want to save their $67 million which they now -- both teams now have this government money -- they want to save it till they're closer to the election. That's a losing scheme.

MR. KUDLOW: But I must -- all right, John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They should begin pumping in the money now.

MR. KUDLOW: All right, John, but --

MR. BLANKLEY: Wait -- wait a second. That's not necessarily a losing scheme. There's a -- the strategy of when to spend your money -- and there is a finite amount for both sides -- is a decision that professionals make and they struggle over. It's not obvious to me yet at all that the Bush team has made the wrong decision.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The other thing that the Bush team -- excuse me -- the Gore team has done extremely well is coordinate their advertising with the advertising of the DNC in a brilliant coordination. Secondly, the quality of the ads that the Gore team has put forth have been superb.

MR. BLANKLEY: What -- what -- what --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And once you've seen any, you want --

(Cross talk.)

MR. BLANKLEY: Wait a second. What I would say is where the Gore team has done well is they've coordinated their advertising with their message within the news cycle. That's where they --

(Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And that's -- and that's where they have had very tough negative ads against Bush.

MR. KUDLOW: Tony makes a vital point. I think Bush's content on his ads has not done the job. He is not selling his tax program as something that will double the economy's growth in the next 15 years.

MS. CLIFT: No --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question. What should Bush --

MR. KUDLOW: He's not labeling Al Gore as the big spender that he is.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, what should Bush do to recover political momentum? We're way over. We've got to get out.

MR. KUDLOW: He's just got to paint an accurate picture that Al Gore will spend $2 trillion and damage the economy, whereas Bush will lower taxes and create more education and health choice and Social Security, which will help the economy.

MS. CLIFT: Larry Kudlow is a cult of one on this obsession with supply-side economics and the big tax cut. It is not playing with the American people --

MR. KUDLOW: It is playing with the American people.

MS. CLIFT: Two-thirds of the public --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Don't hold back, Eleanor. Don't hold back. (Laughter.)

MS. CLIFT: Two-thirds of the public --

MR. KUDLOW: Take a look at the polling data!

MS. CLIFT: Larry, you've had your turn. It's my turn. Two-thirds of the public think the country is going in the right direction. There is no economic justification for the kind of tax cuts you want. It would undermine the prosperity that we have, and --

MR. KUDLOW: It may be that the public --

MS. CLIFT: And just because your --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Keep going.

MS. CLIFT: Just -- Larry! Just because --

MR. KUDLOW: -- does not want Washington to spend all the surpluses, because we've seen that before.

MS. CLIFT: Just because your folks kick in a lot of income taxes and you want it back doesn't mean that it's going to happen or it should happen, on tax --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Excuse me. Excuse me, we -- Eleanor, we've got to move on.

(Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony, quickly.

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, very quickly.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What should he do?

MR. BLANKLEY: Bush has got to tell the public why what he's for is good for them, and he's also got to say why Gore's proposals are not good. He hasn't done the latter yet; I think he's going to.

MR. WARREN: Excuse my brevity. He has to get back to portraying himself in an upbeat, optimistic way. Don't start trying to counterattack with Al Gore; it won't work.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What he's going to do is give up the happy talk, go negative, pounce on the -- and hammer the character liabilities of Al Gore. Get serious about this.

When we come back: Lieberman and religion. Has he crossed the line?


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two: Holy Joe.

SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (D-CT, vice presidential candidate): (From videotape.) As a people, we need to reaffirm our faith and renew the dedication of our nation and ourselves to God and God's purposes.

The Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.

I say there must be and can be a constitutional place for faith in our public life. (Applause.)

So I stand before you today as a witness for the goodness of God. For me, like you, and like my running mate, Al Gore, faith has provided a foundation, order and purpose to my life.

George Washington warned us never to indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman has been stumping hard for Al Gore, infusing God, religion or morality into every speech practically. The senator's "God speak" has not escaped criticism. The Anti-Defamation League's Director, Abraham Foxman, fired off a letter to Lieberman last week in response to his religious effusions. Quote, "There is a point at which an emphasis on religion in a political campaign becomes inappropriate and even unsettling in a religiously diverse society such as ours." Unquote.

Question: Has Lieberman crossed the line?

Eleanor Clift?

MS. CLIFT: Not unless he starts advocating prayer in the school or wants some sort of legislation to advance these ideas. Anybody who knows Senator Lieberman knows that this is who he is and how he talks.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, he didn't do any of this when he ran for the Senate in Connecticut --

MS. CLIFT: Oh, I don't know about that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- nor when he ran for attorney general.

MS. CLIFT: But in a country where 85 percent --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why didn't he do it when he ran for the Senate in Connecticut?

MS. CLIFT: Excuse me. In a country where --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Because Connecticut is (safe/saved ?), right?

MS. CLIFT: John! In a country where 85 percent profess themselves to be religious, I don't think he has a problem. I understand Abraham Foxman's agitation about it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, Eleanor. Okay, Eleanor. Let me ask you this. Does this cross the line? Watch.

SEN. LIEBERMAN: (From videotape.) In some sense you might say the Red Sea finally parted, and more Americans than ever before walked through behind President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Is Bill Clinton a "Moses" leading the Israelites into the Promised Land?

I ask you. Now remember, all of the historians who have thought about this have said that his moral stature is 41st -- dead bottom. And now he's being likened to Moses bringing the Israelites through a parting of the Red Sea. What do you think about that?

MR. WARREN: We've gone from Archimedes to Heisenberg now to Moses.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Chuckles.)

MR. WARREN: What about Joe Lieberman? I want to just mention about Joe Lieberman. I think the problem that I have, and maybe a lot of other people have, was borne out by one of those clips, and that's the extent to which at times he can suggest, intentionally or not, that unless you are religious you cannot be moral. I think a good many people out there resent that.

But, thankfully, Joe Lieberman is not linking his religion, like many on the Christian right have, to a specific policy agenda.

MR. BLANKLEY: That's wrong. That's wrong. He said that the Fifth Amendment -- the Fifth Commandment requires us to endorse the Gore prescription drug plan, for goodness sake. And that's --

MR. WARREN: Well, he --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think he's crossed the line?

MR. BLANKLEY: He has crossed the line.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can he cross back across the line?

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, and he should.


MR. BLANKLEY: Right now he's like "Joe of Arc."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's get right to the heart of the matter --

MR. KUDLOW: This is very intense politics here, John. Don't forget this. This is Nobelist Robert Fogel's "Fourth Great Awakening" theory. The religious right -- there's over 30 million of them -- the most powerful force in American politics. Lieberman is trying to get a piece of that vote, which, by the way, Clinton in '96 got substantially. And there's going to be a battleground over the religious right vote.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. Let me ask you this. Let me ask you this. Has -- this is an exit question. Has Joe Lieberman made it possible for Al Gore to crawl out from underneath Bill Clinton's scandalous character overhang?

MR. KUDLOW: Yes, and more than that, he's made it possible for the Democrats to go after the vote of the evalgelicals and the religious (intense ?), which is a huge factor in American politics.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So you see Lieberman as an undiminished positive. Right?

MR. KUDLOW: I do for their ticket, but George Bush has --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about you?

MS. CLIFT: I agree. Separation --

MR. KUDLOW: George Bush has got to rebut this also and put his own bona fides out there.

MS. CLIFT: Separation accomplished. The new team is Gore-Lieberman, and Bill Clinton is history.

MR. BLANKLEY: He's positive in that regard. But I --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Has he gotten the albatross off the neck of Al Gore?

MR. BLANKLEY: No, he hasn't, because there are albatrosses not related to Clinton that remain around Al Gore that I think will come to bear on him.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean the albatross is Al Gore's own albatross.

MR. BLANKLEY: His own albatross.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you say?

MR. WARREN: Gore should be up ahead by a much greater margin. The Clinton albatross is still there. Lieberman helps him a little bit.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think Lieberman helps him a lot. I think he's out from underneath the overhang.

We'll be right back with predictions.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Lawrence Kudlow.

MR. KUDLOW: In a likely Bush administration, Steve Forbes and Arthur Laffer will have senior economic posts.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor Clift?

MS. CLIFT: Al Gore will get the 50 percent in November that Bill Clinton didn't get in two previous elections.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony Blankley?

MR. BLANKLEY: Congressional Republicans will follow Governor Bush's lead and pass his prescription drug bill.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: James Warren?

MR. WARREN: The U.S. Congress, after last week bashing Firestone, Ford and government regulators, will do absolutely nothing. All talk, no action.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I predict PNTR, permanent normal trade relations, with China will be passed by the U.S. Senate next week. And with that boost, China will gain entry into the World Trade Organization, WTO, before Christmas of this year.

Next week, Hillary Clinton and Rick Lazio debate in the race for the New York Senate.




MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue three: U.N. report card.

U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL KOFI ANNAN (From videotape.) Never before have the leaders of so many nations come together in a single assembly. You, ladies and gentlemen, are the leaders to whom the world's peoples have entrusted their destiny.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan was hoping to ring in more than a peaceful period when he called to order this week's Millennium Summit in New York, the largest gathering of world leaders ever anywhere, some 150. The U.N. was founded 55 years ago to support decolonization, peacekeeping and conflict resolution.

This week, members will evaluate their success and discuss new challenges; notably, combating AIDS, fighting poverty, enhancing peacekeeping, regaining relevance. Annan is concerned about globalism, particularly anti-globalists. Trade unions and green groups have sidestepped the U.N. by taking their causes directly to the World Trade Organization, the WTO, and trade systems.

Even President Clinton has worked without U.N. assistance in his attempts to broker peace in the Middle East.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has one way for the U.N. to regain relevance. He wants the U.N. to organize an international summit to focus on the demilitarization of space.

On the U.N. budget issue, the secretary-general and many member states are urging the U.S. to pay up its long overdue arrearage. Right now the U.S. owes the U.N. between $1.2 (billion) and $1.6 billion, but 926 million would settle the obligation.

Question: Does the U.N. deserve credit for preventing World War III during the five long decades of the Cold War? Can you handle that, Lawrence Kudlow?

MR. KUDLOW: Well, I think the U.N. is on the list of those who have contributed, but I would not rate it highly on that list at all. I would rate the United States and the Western alliance as the principal leaders on that list.

What troubles me is, of all this discussion that you looked at, Kofi Annan from time to time has understood the needs for economic improvement, for market reforms, for growth, and so forth and so on -- free trade. He is deserting it for a welfarist message, a handout message, and, implicitly, a military intervention message. I believe he's going down the wrong road, and the U.N. has to redefine its mission.

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, and more than that, both Kofi Annan and his predecessor, Boutros Boutros, I think, have a creeping urge for world sovereignty. They're talking about having their own military in the U.N., and I think --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Standing army.

MR. BLANKLEY: -- and I think they begin to think that they're something more than the appropriate debating society that they have been --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They should function as a forum.

MR. WARREN: The answer --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me make one point with regard to the Cuban missile crisis. That was the most dangerous period in our history in the last 50 years, and if the U.N. had not provided a forum, the United States and the Soviet Union could have been in a conflict situation. So on that merit alone, I believe that the United Nations deserves an A.

You want to make a point?

MR. WARREN: A minus. Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you lose it?

MR. WARREN: No, it's -- we'd be a lot worse off without them, Larry.