THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP
HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN
JOINED BY: TONY BLANKLEY, ELEANOR CLIFT,
CLARENCE PAGE AND LAWRENCE KUDLOW
TAPED: FRIDAY, JANUARY 19, 20001
BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF JANUARY 20-21, 2001
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THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: Number 43, a uniter, a healer and a president for all -- themes George Bush pressed through his campaign, his election and now his inaugural weekend.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: (From videotape.) A new administration is an opportunity for change and a new direction. That is the promise I have made and a promise I will keep, to give America a fresh start. (Cheers.) My administration will serve all Americans, and this inaugural is for all Americans to enjoy.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: To heal and to harmonize is just what the 43rd president must do after a discordant election left him minus a popular mandate and minus a working majority in Congress. Now the Bush unity message will be put to the test.
Question: As a result of the election and the vote counting, Washington is a bitterly divided town, as the confirmation of John Ashcroft has already shown. But is there anything different with the arrival of President Bush and his Cabinet that leads you to believe that consensus can, in fact, be built by him and by that Cabinet on key issues from the center out?
I ask you, Lawrence.
MR. KUDLOW: I think on key issues, consensus can be reached, and I think Bush is going to have some political victories, particularly, John, on the tax cut issue, which is increasingly going to be front and center, given the economic downturn and the stock market troubles and so forth. But I also think it's a bigger issue than that. I think the country is less divided and less bitter than Washington is. And the polling numbers coming out are beginning to show that Bush has a high approval rating, as does his Cabinet.
So I think Bush is going to use the tactic, somewhat similar to Reagan 20 years ago, where he goes over the head of Washington, right to the country, through speeches, through advertisement and so forth. And I think the issue of tax cuts, in particular, is a compelling issue in a downturn, where you've got trillions of budget surpluses just waiting to be used as economic stimulus.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But that tax cut may have to take a temporary back seat to the primary issue, which is education, which he brings to the Congress this week.
What do you think? Can he build a consensus from the center out?
MS. CLIFT: Well, where there is peril there is also great opportunity. And with the slowing economy, he has more of an excuse to push the tax cut. With the energy crisis in California, drilling in ANWR seems maybe a little bit more palatable. Vouchers have been really killed at the polls, and I think he's going to back away from that. That makes the chance to achieve some sort of an education package early there. So I think with some deft maneuvering, he could get some early victories and build some momentum. He does not have Ronald Reagan's salesmanship skills, however, and that's going to be a problem.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you hear what she said about the improved palatability of drilling in Alaska?
MS. CLIFT: Not for me! Not for me, though!
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think we should get her to put that in writing?
MR. PAGE: Well, she's --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What I'm saying by "building from the center out" means that the two extremes, the extreme Republicans and the extreme Democrats, kind of void each other. But there is that middle ground that he can deal with to get consensus. Yes or no?
MR. BLANKLEY: Probably no. Look, this is less an ideological fight than it is a partisan fight in this town. It's in Bush's interest, as it is for every incoming president, to have a relatively bipartisan tone for the first six months so that he can get some stuff done. But because of the even division in the Senate and the House, the Democrats are looking to the 2002 election. They're looking to turn Congress into a killing field for Bush's legislation. He's hoping that he's going to be able to find 10 to 12 Democratic senators with some reliability to vote with him on an issue-by-issue basis. My hunch is he'll be lucky to find three to five.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who's going to lead those centrists?
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, Breaux --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How about the Democrats?
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, Senator Breaux may --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Senator Breaux. You recall Ronald Reagan had a group. What did he call them?
MR. BLANKLEY: The "boll weevils."
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are these going to be the "Breaux weevils," do you think? Pretty good, huh?
MR. PAGE (?): That's pretty bad.
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, no, I -- it's a wonderful turn of words, but the point is -- (laughter) -- that the Democratic leadership is going to put a tremendous amount of pressure on their members not to go along. And Eleanor's right -- the way for Bush to accomplish it is to do what Reagan did in '81, which is to campaign in the cities and communities of moderate Democrats. I think that's going to be a harder row for him to hoe now that it was for Reagan.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Education, he's going to be able to build consensus.
MR. PAGE: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Prescription drugs for seniors.
MR. PAGE: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Patients Bill of Rights.
MR. PAGE: Mm-hm. Maybe, we'll see --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: To some extent, we haven't said how big, a stimulative tax cut. He can build consensus on that.
MR. PAGE: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But he will never in the foreign sector, although there's a lot he will have consensus on, he will never be able to build consensus on a missile shield. There, he's going to have to have a partisan war, correct?
MR. PAGE: I think you may be right on that, but that's going to be down the road a few months, before he gets to that point. That tax cut is going to be front and center. That's a major organizing principle of the Republican Party and of his campaign.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Isn't that a -- isn't that really a question of amount?
MR. PAGE: Well, you know, one thing that may happen here is, because of the signs, because of the economic trends that have been happening -- probably you'll agree with this, Larry. I think Alan Greenspan, who will be testifying before Congress here in another -- in the next couple of weeks -- may look favorably upon a tax cut as well, and that would -- (inaudible).
MR. KUDLOW: Greenspan is going to come around on the tax cut.
MR. BLANKLEY: I -- I -- no, I --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Inaudible) -- one of the things I am interested in, and that --
MR. KUDLOW: And also, John, you're starting to neutralize Bush. You're almost making the mistake some of the media makes. With all respect, Bush has made it quite plain, and I think he's quite correct, that there is going to be a center, but it's going to be a center moving towards Bush and his positions. He did win this election --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: As in energy.
MR. KUDLOW: Well, as in energy. Eleanor's right. There is going to be an emphasis on drilling. I think, education, there's going to be some spending, but he wants to move it towards the states. That stuff is going to be more bitterly fought. Maybe prescription drugs, but there has to be a means test. He's not going to make the giveaway.
MR. BLANKLEY: No, he doesn't have -- he doesn't even have Republican governors on prescription drugs. He's got a long road to hoe there.
MR. KUDLOW: (Off mike.)
MR. BLANKLEY: Education, he's got a chance. Taxes -- taxes -- his own Treasury designee, O'Neill, when he testified at his hearing, said he didn't see that there was an economic reason to have a tax cut.
MR. KUDLOW: No, no.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Sixty-three percent --
MR. KUDLOW: No, no.
MR. BLANKLEY: He's being undercut and --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me go to another point. Another quick point. Sixty-three percent of 12 states in the West, including Alaska, 63 percent -- 86 percent in Nevada -- of land is owned by the federal government. And Clinton has increased, with his land grabs, that amount.
MR. KUDLOW: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will Bush be able to undo those land grabs?
MR. KUDLOW: Yes, and he's -- and I think they're going to start very early on, as a central part -- I mean, look, what's happening in California is the perfect example of statism run amok, statism and overregulation leading to bankruptcy --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And bad regulation.
MR. KUDLOW: -- and bad regulation and economic --
MS. CLIFT: Well, excuse me. This is the philosophical --
MR. KUDLOW: This is going to have to be changed.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: This is the philosophical divide between the Republicans and the Democrats. And Bush may want to come in here and take away all of these regulations. But I think returning some of those public lands back into the hands of developers and so forth -- if he does that, he's going to really pay a price with environmentalists. I think his environment --
MR. KUDLOW: Developers? What are these? Awful people?
MS. CLIFT: No --
MR. KUDLOW: These are people in business.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's go forward. Exit question --
MR. KUDLOW: These are energy producers that keep the lights on.
MR. PAGE: Not in California! (Chuckles.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is somewhat repetitive, but I want you clearly on the record for this. Is it your felt intuition that George Bush will in fact be able to build consensus on key issues -- and I'm saying from the center out -- yes or no?
MR. KUDLOW: I'm saying yes, but from the center to the center-right, and the tax and economic growth issue is key. And by the way, Paul O'Neill, his Treasury secretary, is totally in favor of cutting taxes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?
MS. CLIFT: Tony's right. It's going to be a lot harder than Lawrence is pretending it is today.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I hope you're not forgetting -- I hope Tony's not forgetting -- the ordeal. The ordeal was big. It lasted long -- 35 days. People are not going to forget that. They are fed up with polarization. They're fed up with argument. They want productive activity, and they want irenicism.
You know what that means?
MR. BLANKLEY: Yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It has nothing to do with Irene.
MR. BLANKLEY: (Chuckles.) But --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They want peace.
MR. BLANKLEY: But the fact is that the Democrats in this town are drooling at the opportunity. They're in high spirits behind the scenes, in the lobbying offices, in the PR firms, in the lawyers' offices in town, waiting to turn Congress into a death field for him --
MR. PAGE: Well, there's some --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's your felt intuition?
MR. PAGE: There's some truth to that, because there are a lot of constituents out there who are still angry over this election.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.
MR. PAGE: We shouldn't be too sanguine about this. There is a divide that we have seen in the exit polling, and the demographic differences of this country are still quite deep.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But I gather from what you've said, reading between the lines --
MR. PAGE: Yes, indeed. (Chuckles.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- that you think -- you think that Bush does have something going for him, as well as his Cabinet, and there will be some progressive legislation.
MR. PAGE: He's going to start -- well, he's going to start with the paths of least resistance, like education.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.
MR. PAGE: You can build a consensus around testing and national standards. There may be some -- (inaudible) -- fights --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And accountability.
MR. PAGE: -- but accountability is very popular with both parties.
Then the issue of campaign finance -- what's John McCain going to do? Will he agree to hold off on that?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, Bush has been very firm on that. He says, "I'm going to do business with John McCain on that issue."
MR. PAGE: Yeah, well --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: "And I'm not going make all Republicans happy."
MR. PAGE: Well, John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He said that especially to the business-minded Republicans.
MR. PAGE: That's right. That's right. But John's got a mind of his own here.
MR. KUDLOW: Bush has a knack --
MS. CLIFT: Well, a six-month honeymoon, which is what he'll get if he's lucky, does not a four-year presidency make. There is room for some compromise and early victories here, and there's also lots of room for partisan warfare.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, Eleanor, in case, you didn't know it --
MS. CLIFT: Yeah?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- the honeymoon is over. Did you see the Ashcroft nomination?
MS. CLIFT: (Chuckles.)
MR. KUDLOW: Yeah, I mean --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, McLaughlin.com. Last week we asked, "Should John Ashcroft be confirmed as attorney general?" Eighty-three percent, yes; 17 percent, no.
When we come back: Did the brutal attacks against John Ashcroft, particularly those of Senator Edward Kennedy, hurt the Democrats far more than they hurt Ashcroft?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two: Attorney General (?) Ashcroft on the issues.
JOHN ASHCROFT (nominee for attorney general): (From videotape of various segments of his confirmation hearings.) I don't believe the Second Amendment to be one that has -- forbids any regulation of guns.
I do support the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms for citizens.
My opposition to the aborting of unborn children has been a deeply held position of mine.
But I will enforce the law fairly and aggressively, firmly. I know the difference between the debate over enacting the law and the responsibility of enforcing the law.
I don't think it is the agenda of the president-elect of the United States to seek an opportunity to overturn Roe.
In examining my understanding and my commitment and my faith heritage, I'd have to say that my faith heritage compels me to enforce the law and abide by the law, rather than to violate the law.
And I say to people who want to look at the confirmation record, that I -- for 26 out of 27 black judicial nominees, I voted for them.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think he was convincing on the central issue: I, John Ashcroft, have my deeply held beliefs; that's something over there. Over here, I can enforce the law. In fact, my very religion inspires me to obey the law, and in my instance, since I will be attorney general, to enforce that law.
Did he make that distinction successfully, unmistakably?
MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, I think for me, and for most reasonable viewers, they were convinced this is a man of tremendous integrity, and I think that he made that convincingly.
Now, he had some very nasty attacks on him. One of the very nasty attacks was that he was indifferent to the education of black children. The other particularly hideous attack, from Kennedy, was the suggestion that he violated his oath of office by litigating your gray zones of Roe v. Wade. And those are horrible attacks. They were unworthy of Senator Kennedy, and I think Kennedy is getting some heat for that.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is it in Ashcroft, besides his asseveration, that leads you to believe that he, in fact, will make a clear dichotomy between what he believes and what he will enforce?
MR. PAGE: You'd better ask me what I believe first -- (laughs) -- whether I believe this, John! (Laughs.) I think, you know, the problem with that argument -- I mean, Ashcroft was absolutely in a correct position of saying that my beliefs have nothing to do with that I will promote as attorney general. It would have worked better if he had accepted that argument from Bill Lann Lee and others whose appointments he opposed, because he didn't accept that argument that they would separate their personal beliefs from their public office --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Because, but because --
MR. PAGE: And now he wants to call on that standard.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But because of Bill Lann Lee's record.
MR. PAGE: Yeah.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Whereas the record of John Ashcroft, for 25 years -- eight as attorney general, eight as governor, two as --
MR. PAGE: Hey, you're avoiding a real complaint about John Ashcroft -- the way he handled the Ronnie White case. And that's a record too, that he sandbagged Ronnie White when he couldn't defend himself, and stayed silent when Ronnie White was right there to be cross-questioned.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, you know, Ronnie White was the best witness there for Ashcroft --
MR. PAGE: On what point?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- because he was so billed the other way. And what he said was, number one, I do not believe that John Ashcroft is a racist. Number two, I will not answer your question. He said in effect: You are the ones who will decide whether to confirm or not. He refused to say that you should not --
MR. PAGE: By the way, I said that on your show, didn't I? Ashcroft is not a racist. And the fact is, that has not been the criticism that Ronnie White's critics have been making. The media have been making this --
MS. CLIFT: Right. And this is --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Look, I don't know where to begin the computation of your argument against Ronnie White on the -- did you hear Sessions?
MR. PAGE: Well, let's begin with the truth -- (laughs) --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you hear the police that were standing there and the story they told?
MR. PAGE: Yes.
MR. KUDLOW: Sure, but --
MR. PAGE: If you want to re-argue that case, I'll be delighted.
MR. KUDLOW: The point is that -- the thing that really stung was the racist charge, and I think that charge is completely wrong. And I think the problem here for the Democratic Party, with Kennedy going over board, is that they're attacking essentially the entire Christian faith Evangelical community.
MR. PAGE: No they're not. No they're not.
MR. KUDLOW: And this is a political killer. And in fact, it was Clinton and Gore -- Clinton and Gore went out to try to get that community. In these hearings, the Democrats may have lost it for many years.
MS. CLIFT: This notion that if you ask a man about the beliefs that he has championed throughout his public life that you are attacking his religion is totally bogus.
MR. KUDLOW: These were accusations. These were accusations.
MS. CLIFT: And he was hiding behind his religion.
MR. KUDLOW: He was hiding behind accusations.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let her talk. Let her talk.
MS. CLIFT: Nobody is calling him a racist, but they are saying he is sensationally insensitive when you go after a black appointee and you use stereotypical language and you say he has --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor --
MS. CLIFT: -- he has a strong bent for criminal activity, and --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can we appeal to the record again? Do you know how many of 28 black judges that were put before Ashcroft -- Ashcroft as senator, approved?
MR. KUDLOW: Yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Shall I tell you -- 27 of 28.
MS. CLIFT: He told me in the hearings. But that is irrelevant.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Irrelevant? That's his record!
MR. PAGE: It's a red herring, John. Racism is a red herring.
MS. CLIFT: He would have --
MR. PAGE: (off mike) -- racist by charging him with racism.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, what am I hearing from her?
MS. CLIFT: He would have killed the white nomination if he were white or green, or --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. We've got to get out.
Exit question: By what --
MS. CLIFT: (Off mike) -- political career, he lied to his colleagues about this man's background.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you know --
MS. CLIFT: That's where he's culpable.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know, if I have to choose between what certain colleagues say and what Ashcroft says, I'm prepared to believe Ashcroft. I think he's a man of religion.
MS. CLIFT: Well, then I'm prepared to believe -- (off mike).
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit: By what margin of --
MS. CLIFT: (Off mike.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: By what margin of votes will Ashcroft be confirmed?
MR. KUDLOW: Sixty-one votes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Sixty-one?
MR. KUDLOW: That's right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's 11 more than needed.
MS. CLIFT: I would say 63.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor. What' got into you today? (Laughter.) We have two things I want to have notarized here today.
MS. CLIFT: I --
MR. KUDLOW: Energy production and Ashcroft.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Sixty-three; more than Kudlow.
MR. KUDLOW: (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?
MR. BLANKLEY: I think about 60-40, somewhere in --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Sixty-forty?
MR. BLANKLEY: Somewhere in that zone.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, he's got to get 60.
MR. PAGE: I agree with Tony. I think it will be about 60-40.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think 60 is base. We can build on that. I'll go up to 65.
Issue three: The Jackson 6.
"I am a father to a daughter who was born outside of my marriage. This is no time for evasions, denials, or alibis. I fully accept responsibility and I am truly sorry for my actions.
"My wife Jackie and my children have been made aware of the child. I have asked God and each one of them to forgive me. No doubt, many close friends and supporters will be disappointed in me. I ask for forgiveness, understanding, and prayers."
So said Reverend Jesse Jackson in a statement to the press this week. The Baptist minister and civil rights leader has been married to his wife, Jackie, for 38 years, and with her has five children, including U.S. Representative, Jesse Jackson, Jr. from Illinois' 2nd district.
The daughter to which Reverend Jackson refers in this statement was born 20 months ago to 39-year-old Karin Stanford, author of the 1997 book, "Beyond the Boundaries: Reverend Jesse Jackson in International Affairs." She's also former director of the Rainbow Coalition, a civil rights group founded and headed by Jackson.
Dr. Stanford holds degrees from three universities, including a Ph.D. from Howard University. Dr. Stanford disclosed, according to reports, that Reverend Jackson gave her $40,000 to move from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles. And he is currently paying her $10,000 a month for child support. Jackson's affair with Dr. Stanford occurred while the reverend was counseling President Clinton on the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
My question to you, Eleanor -- I'll start with you -- is why did Jackson bring his pregnant mistress, Dr. Stanford, into the Oval Office during the time of the Lewinsky scandal? Why did he bring her in to have her photographed? You saw the photograph.
MS. CLIFT: Maybe it's like the pyrotechnic who goes to the scene of the fire. You know, I'm sure he didn't reveal that this was his child she was carrying.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, but why did he bring her in and have her photographed there?
MS. CLIFT: Because apparently he has a relationship with her, a long-standing relationship. I'm not going to question --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean he wanted to introduce her to the president.
MR. PAGE: He was bringing Rainbow Coalition officials in.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Ah.
MR. PAGE: And she was the Washington bureau director. So it was appropriate for her to be with the group.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I've got several questions for you.
MR. PAGE: Sure.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the impact, as you see it, on Jesse Jackson's political leadership future?
MR. PAGE: Well, I've been covering Jesse for about 30 years now, as you know, John. And I think that this is devastating, first of all. He can recover, but just as Clinton was never quite the same after Monica Lewinsky and his impeachment, Jackson is not going to quite be the same either.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How much can Jackson climb back, let's say if 100 being total recovery?
MR. PAGE: He could still do a lot of street work. He's still good at rallying people to get them registered to vote. He's not going to be such an effective spokesman, perhaps, going into high schools. I mean, a lot of principals are going to think twice about inviting him in now --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?
MR. PAGE: -- to talk to kids because --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, because of the --
MR. PAGE: -- you know, he didn't even use a condom, John. I mean, so this is not a great role model.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This may be the worst part of it, and that is the juvenile illegitimacy rate among black women. Correct?
MR. PAGE: One point Jesse makes --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's almost 80 percent, is it not?
MR. PAGE: Right. But one point Jesse makes is that, you know, any boy can create a baby, it takes a man to raise a baby and take care of it. Jackson did account for this child and has been paying for support. We can't ignore that.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. What about the impact --
MR. PAGE: By the way, John, I want to correct your report. Push Rainbow says Jackson has only been paying $3,000 a month. The Enquirer did say $10,000.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm glad you corrected that.
MR BLANKLEY: But he only acknowledged the child after a DNA test. He did not step up to the plate.
MR. PAGE: I don't think there was DNA --
MR. BLANKLEY: He was forced up to the plate. I think the hypocrisy of this man's moral haranguing at the nation is going to be a heavy toll for him to try to bear, to come back from.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, come, come, come. We don't want to make this the ruination of the Western world. Francois Mitterand had a child. And his mistress went to the funeral when Mitterand died, and so did his lovely daughter.
MS. CLIFT: If you look at the list of men in history over time who have love-childs, it's a pretty substantial list. It would have been better if Jesse Jackson didn't do this, but he is taking responsibility. He did confess his sin. So leave him alone.
MR. KUDLOW: But there's another --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, you are now a Catholic, Kudlow, and you know there's a Roman Catholic bishop in Ireland who came to the United States and he fathered a daughter. Now, the question is, do you think that Jackson should be defrocked, as has happened to others in that --
MR. PAGE: Well, that doesn't really happen in the Baptist Church that way.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you remember Reverend Lyons (sp).
MR. PAGE: Yeah, Pastor Lyons (sp), he was involved, you know, a major Baptist official.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, should he be defrocked? Should he give up his position in the Rainbow Coalition?
MR. PAGE: That's the real key question, John, because I don't know if the Rainbow Coalition can survive without Jackson. Whenever he was out running for office, for example, they were having trouble pulling crowds. Jackson has still got that rock-star charismatic appeal --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.
MR. PAGE: -- that really helps make an organization survive.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How far back can he climb? Answer my question. Can he get back 90 percent? Can he get back to 80 percent?
MR. PAGE: You love numbers, don't you?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to get some idea --
MR. PAGE: How about 63-1/2?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's not too bad. In how long? In a year? In a year?
MR. PAGE: Depending on the issue. But he's been in decline since the last time he ran for president.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There is one bright spot. What's the bright spot?
MR. PAGE: You tell me, John.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The daughter. Can you imagine those genes in that daughter, with a Ph.D. mother who got it before the age of 30, and Jackson with his leadership qualities?
MR. KUDLOW: Oh, John. Look. Jesse can go through recovery and seek salvation. There has always been greatness to Jesse Jackson. But what's troubled me is in recent years, he has lost his moral tone and he has taken on an increasingly bitter partisan and political tone.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Race baiting, in fact.
MR. KUDLOW: And I think as he takes his moral and personal inventory, he can learn from this and emerge from this. But hopefully, he will stop taking the political inventory of everyone else, including the new president, George Bush.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So you see this moral lapse as -- as characteristic of other lapses which, while not moral, may have a moral tinge because they're politically hurtful?
MR. KUDLOW: I believe so, but I'm not going to take his inventory. I'm just going to say there is redemption here, as there always is. God will love Jesse Jackson, but he's got to change his behavior and change his tune.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Thank you. Thank you, Father Kudlow. We'll be right back with predictions.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions, very fast. Lawrence?
MR. KUDLOW: Bush will propose an accelerated tax cut effective January 1st.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: Bush will open up Pennsylvania Avenue.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wow. Tony?
MR. BLANKLEY: Bill Clinton will personally lead the attack on Bush's tax cuts.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence?
MR. PAGE: Watch Congressman Jesse Junior's star rise now that his father's has declined.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Dingell-Norwood legislation will pass with minor modifications.
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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue four: He did it his way! (Plays Frank Sinatra singing "My Way.") He did it his way, and his way included a last-minute deal with Robert Ray to avoid an indictment in the Paula Jones case, which included the following elements, quote: "The president will not be indicted for perjuring himself in Paula Jones' sexual harassment case." Will not be indicted. Two, Clinton will have his Arkansas law license suspended for five years. Three, Clinton is forced to make a written acknowledgement that he may have misled people under oath. Four, Clinton cannot seek reimbursement for legal expenses.
I'll read you a couple of sentences from that Clinton statement. "I have had occasion frequently to reflect on the Jones case. In this consent order, I acknowledge having knowingly violated Judge Wright's discovery orders in my deposition in that case. I tried to walk a fine line between acting lawfully and testifying falsely, but I now recognize that I did not fully accomplish this goal, and that certain of my responses to questions about Ms. Lewinsky were false."
Okay, so what? Where do we stand on that deal? And secondly, give me your estimate of Clinton and his presidency.
I ask you.
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, on the deal, it's really -- in technical, federal criminal terms, a diversion for a first-time offender. He's essentially admitted to the underlying charges of the crime. It's been diverted out of the criminal justice system. But he has two punishments; one is the suspension of the bar, and two, giving up the right to be compensated. Under the Independent Counsel Act, if you are not indicted --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.
MR. BLANKLEY: -- when you're suspected, you're entitled to full compensation. He's given up millions -- it's tantamount to an indictment --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think we all agree that this is a sweet deal for Clinton.
Yes or no? Yes?
MR. BLANKLEY: No, I think he pays a certain price.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No? He's not indicted.
MR. BLANKLEY: No, I think that this --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All this other stuff is --
MS. CLIFT: But Tony can't give it a rest. Tony can't give it a rest!
MR. BLANKLEY: He leaves town -- he leaves town --
MS. CLIFT: You know, it's over, Tony. It's a sweet deal --
MR. BLANKLEY: He leaves town one step ahead of the sheriff -- one step ahead of the sheriff. (Laughter.)
MS. CLIFT: A sweet deal for Clinton, and a sweeter deal for George Bush because he doesn't have to confront -- Do I pardon this guy? -- and he doesn't have to worry about that. It's a nice end.
MR. KUDLOW: He's just giving up -- he's giving up a quarter of his anticipated book royalties.
Look, I'm so glad that he acknowledged he was wrong. We're going to be done with it. The guy's already been impeached.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Sweet deal for him?
MR. KUDLOW: It's a semi-sweet deal. But it's going to besmirch his legacy, as everyone knows.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We've got 10 seconds.
MR. PAGE: Sweet deal for the country because it will help us to get this whole thing behind us, which is what everybody wants.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, no moralizing. None of this pious stuff. Was it a sweet deal for him?
MR. PAGE: Don't you want to get this behind you, John?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was it a sweet deal for him?
MR. PAGE: It was a sweet deal for him too. Everybody wins.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is: A sweet deal for, I think, everybody.
MR. PAGE: Yeah!