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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP

HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN

JOINED BY: MICHAEL BARONE, TONY BLANKLEY,
ELEANOR CLIFT, AND DOYLE MCMANUS

TAPED: FRIDAY, JUNE 15, 2001
BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF JUNE 16-17, 2001

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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: Mr. Bush goes to Europe.

George Bush's maiden voyage to Europe as president has been a study in contrasts -- friendly welcomes from world leaders and angry catcalls from protesters. They mobilized across Europe on a host of issues, including global warming, missile defense, and in Spain on Tuesday, the death penalty, which is where we begin.

The convergence of two events this week moved the death penalty issue to critical mass: first, Timothy McVeigh's execution, which Spain and Europe generally called barbaric; second, the release of a Spanish citizen from Florida's death row in a prison near Gainesville. The Spaniard, Joaquin Jose Martinez, 30 years of age, was sentenced to death in 1997 for a double murder in Tampa. Martinez spent three years on death row, until a second trial this month acquitted him, and he went home to Madrid.

On Tuesday, in the midst of all this, President Bush landed in Madrid. The U.S. embassy was surrounded by hundreds of agitated demonstrators condemning what they called America's infatuation with the death penalty.

Across Europe, as in Spain, capital punishment has been outlawed, and its renunciation is a requisite for membership in the European Union. Capital punishment may legally be outlawed, but that does not mean the ban is due to public opinion. In fact, the banning is done most often despite public opinion. In Britain, nearly 60 percent favor the death penalty. In France and Italy, approximately 50 percent favor it. Even in human rights-obsessed Sweden, more than four out of 10 want capital punishment.

When Bush was asked about the American attitude towards the death penalty -- 70 percent in favor -- he made a telling point.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: (From videotape.) Democracies represent the will of the people. The death penalty is the will of the people in the United States. There are some people who don't agree with the death penalty in our country, and it's not an easy subject for any of us. But the majority of the people -- and our laws reflect the majority of the people -- believe that if the death penalty is certain, just, and fair, it'll deter crime.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: More people committed suicide last year in French prisons than were executed in the entire United States. Does that argue that Europeans might spare more lives by concentrating on their own penal system and leaving ours to us, Michael Barone?

MR. BARONE: Well, I think it does, John.

John, you could have made a montage here of past European leaders making sniffy comments about every new American president since John F. Kennedy. I mean, these -- looking down their aristocratic noses at the barbarians of America. If they didn't have the death penalty as a pretext, these leaders and the demonstrators, they would have been talking about genetically modified foods or some other alleged outrage.

Now you point out accurately that a lot of public opinion supports the death penalty in Europe. I would add that crime is going up in Europe while it's coming down in the United States. I don't think we need to pay a lot of attention to this Euro-chatter. They could learn something about crime fighting from us.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: Well, I think the statistic you cite proves the point of a lot of death penalty opponents that death is preferable to life in prison. And I think that was demonstrated also by Timothy McVeigh, who did not want to spend life in prison and actually saw death as a rather easy way out.

Secondly, Michael can talk about aristocratic sniffing -- looking down sniffy noses or whatever it is. It seems to me you're pretty patronizing towards the Europeans. But, you know, they have learned the lesson of the Inquisition and the Star Chamber, and so they're not anxious to have a death penalty over there. And frankly, for people in this --

MR. BARONE: And some lessons in 1945.

MS. CLIFT: Right, exactly. And for people in this country who say that we are overwhelmingly in our public opinion opposed to guns, I mean, there's a big swell for gun control, and I don't see most of the members of this panel ever wanting to go with the masses on that one, so why are you so interested in going with the masses on the death penalty in Europe, when it's barely 50 percent?

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, of course, we have a Second Amendment which guarantees that constitutional right to bear arms, so that's not a subject for majority rule in this country.

But I think what's interesting is that these sort of moral homilies that the Europeans are reciting to Bush and to America really reflect a growing sense of insecurity and inferiority to the United States, and a growing, I think, effort on their part to have economic competition with us. So that these, I think, whether it's capital punishment or genetic food, what this really is showing is a breakdown of the shared values and sense of common alliance between the United States and Europe.

And this is a challenge for the Europeans every bit as much as it is for us. This shouldn't be a measure of how well Bush is doing in Europe, but how well Europe is doing dealing with the beginning of a new era, the post-Cold War era.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Doyle McManus, do you see a divergence between elite opinion towards the death penalty in Europe and "man on the street" opinion? And is Bush playing to the man on the street?

MR. MCMANUS: You know, there is that divergence, John, because your poll numbers are right and in fact most of those European countries didn't abolish the death penalty until the '80s or the '90s. I mean, this is not something that goes back centuries through Europe culture. It was a Frenchman who invented the guillotine.

But I don't think Bush was playing to the European street, because it's not been -- remarkably enough -- it's not been an issue in Europe. There is no pressure on European leaders, as there has been in the United States when someone like Mario Cuomo comes out against the death penalty, for him to change his mind.

I think what George Bush was doing was showing the first instance of his style in approaching Europe. It was a deliberately confrontational style and saying, "This is who I am. This is who we are. Our public wants the death penalty. Sorry about that if you don't like it."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know, McVeigh has his equivalent in every European capital. They have their IRA terrorists, fanatical terrorists in Basque, the ETA. They've got Breton terrorists. They've got radical Muslims. So it strikes me that a lot of Europeans secretly long for a form of retributive penalty against terrorists.

MS. CLIFT: You know, John, only you can take this president's rather disastrous audition on the world stage and turn it into a grass-roots movement in Europe for the death penalty. You know, the groups you cite, I think most people would view executing them as creating martyrs. A lot more problems could be created that way, it seems to me. And I don't see any groundswell over there for the death penalty. And in this country, I see the Texas governor is poised to sign a reform bill, and there's a lot of rethinking in this country about how the death penalty is applied, and lots of room for reform.

MR. BLANKLEY: There is a lot of rethinking amongst journalists. The nation is still over 65 --

MS. CLIFT: A couple of governors too, Tony -- Illinois --

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah. Because the country is over 65 percent in favor of capital punishment. It was only at 40 or 45 percent back in the '60s. So although it's tipped down a little bit --

MR. BARONE: That's momentarily.

MR. BLANKLEY: -- this is a country that is overwhelmingly in favor of the death penalty.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, this subject has been around -- I was debating this in high school, capital punishment. So it's not going to go away for a while.

MR. BARONE: Well that was about 1912, wasn't it, John? (Laughter.) No, John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to move out --

MR. BLANKLEY: There's something to say -- one more thing to add on here, which is that look at that Florida case where the death penalty was reversed. Death penalty opponents used that to oppose the death penalty and make the legitimate point that you can't undo an execution. But it also shows that our courts and our system are in many ways scrupulous about these death penalties and ready to listen to arguments that said that it was wrongly imposed.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In fact, the very fact that the state of France permits all these suicides to take place in prison -- there were 128 in 1999, whereas in the United States we had 99 executions -- it's almost like a state-sanctioned execution, and it's quite random and arbitrary. So if you think that's true, I think you'll see my point, Eleanor, even though you're having difficulties curiously originated in my other pensees.

Exit: Assign Bush a letter grade from A to F for his handling of the death penalty issue.

MR. BARONE: Oh, I'll give him an A.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: I'll give him a D-minus. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: D-minus.

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, I mean, an A; I mean, he wasn't going to change his policy, and he was forthright about defending it. A, sure.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes. And he was appealing to the masses, I think.

MR. MCMANUS: I would have given him an A, but he muddied the waters by saying suddenly that he was against executing retarded prisoners when, in fact, that hadn't been his position. I think he drops to maybe a C.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really? Well that's a pretty harsh grading.

I will give him an A.

When we come back: Is the European Union our ally or our rival -- or something else?

(Announcements.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two: Green with Envy.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: (From videotape.) As I said earlier, I believe the Kyoto Treaty is a flawed treaty. I think that it set unscientific goals. On the other hand, I want to reiterate today, and I will do so throughout the week, that we're committed to reducing greenhouse gases in the United States.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Bush continued to hold his ground this week on his rejection of the Kyoto Treaty, which he insists does not mean a refusal to reduce greenhouse gases.

The National Academy of Sciences, the NAS, issued a report on greenhouse gases shortly before the president left for Europe. The press misleadingly issued a story that the study commissioned by the president proves global warming is getting worse because of the human production of greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide.

But the press and Europeans ignored the fact that the NAS failed to produce hard evidence linking human activity to the change in climates. "I cannot stress this enough. We are not in a position to confidently attribute past climate change to carbon dioxide or to forecast what the climate will be in the future. One reason for this uncertainty is that, as the report states, the climate is always changing. Change is the norm." So wrote Richard Lindzen, one of the distinguished 11 scientists who prepared the report.

This week Bush received another boost from an unlikely source -- former Clinton economists who publicly concede that Kyoto's original expectations, notably cutting greenhouse gas rates by one-third before 2012, were unrealistic and economically unsound.

Question: Why are the Europeans so insistent on the Kyoto formula, I ask you, Eleanor Clift?

MS. CLIFT: Well, it took seven years to negotiate and it's important to set a goal out there. And frankly, this notion that there isn't enough science, I mean, that's right up there with Does smoking cause lung cancer, you know? Conundrum of our time. The preponderance of evidence is that global warming is happening and that we need to have a global approach to it. And the Europeans do have an easier time meeting the targets, because they have mostly abandoned fossil fuel, and that's the challenge that this country has, to change that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony, what happened to that cows theory? The cows' flatulence producing an abundance of methane gas?

MR. BLANKLEY: Methane gas.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Where did that go?

MR. BLANKLEY: I guess up in the air. I don't -- (laughter). Look, the business of --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're not repudiating that point, are you?

MR. BLANKLEY: I don't have a stand on that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, the scientists were taking that quite seriously.

MR. BLANKLEY: I know. Look, one of the reasons that we're getting this kind of hypocrisy out of Europe where, by the way, no country other than Romania has confirmed the accord, either, is because the alliance between the center-left governments and the green parties that exist in most of the major countries in Europe, that coalition, the center-left governments have had to concede marketplace issues because of international competition. So this is an excellent opportunity for them to be able to satisfy their green component of their coalition by bashing away at Americans, even though they understand that they can't have an effective regimen without the United States and Japan involved, and Japan won't go along with anything that the United States doesn't go along with.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Doyle, do you take any comfort in the fact that there was an agreement among the leaders of Europe to proceed on research on global warming, notwithstanding the -- which was initiated -- this agreement was initiated by Bush, not withstanding Bush's rejection of Kyoto?

MR. MCMANUS: Yeah, I think that was important. You know, what most people have missed is what Bush said this week on the positive side of this issue. He said there is such a thing as global warming. He believes that that report says the atmosphere is getting warmer, that human activity plays an important part. And you may not think --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He did say that?

MR. MCMANUS: -- he did say that. It may not be the only part, and that is where the argument is. And he said, as you saw in that clip, that he wants to do something about it. So he has, in effect, ended most of the debate over whether there is any problem here. He's put the United States on the hook to help negotiate something new, and the proof is going to be in what he does.

MR. BARONE: He said we cannot be sure on the basis of today's science to what extent human activity contributes to global warming; that it may be to some extent that we need further research on it. I think that's a very good statement of where the science stands and it's entirely consistent with this National Academy of Science report.

There has been, you know, the world was a lot hotter, or the part of it about which we have temperature records, in the time of St. Thomas Aquinas than what it was today. We didn't have the kind of catastrophic occurrences that were predicted back -- that were predicted in Al Gore's "Earth in the Balance." So I think a restrained response.

Remember also, it wasn't Bush that killed the Kyoto Treaty, it was 95 U.S. senators in 1997 said we won't support it --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.

MR. BARONE: -- we will not support a treaty -- 95 to nothing -- that's a pretty strong vote in the U.S. Senate -- they said --

MS. CLIFT: Excuse me, they didn't kill it. They didn't ratify it --

MR. BARONE: They said we'll never -- let me finish, Eleanor. I didn't interrupt you.

MS. CLIFT: Excuse me. I think you've had your say.

MR. BARONE: No, I don't think so.

MS. CLIFT: I think you have! (Laughs.)

MR. BARONE: Because they said they would not support the treaty as long as is treated --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: Well, first of all, it was negotiated --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How do you like our happy family, Doyle? The Soprano family! (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: Yeah. (Laughs.) It was negotiated to leave out China and India because, in fairness, they're developing countries. We have enjoyed the right to pollute unchallenged for quite a long time. It turns out that China is restraining itself. They've actually lowered their carbon dioxide emissions in the last four years.

MR. BLANKLEY: Why not have -- why not have China --

MS. CLIFT: This is not -- this is not --

MR. BLANKLEY: So why not have China join the treaty then? They won't sign the treaty because these numbers may or may not be true.

MS. CLIFT: That may happen. That may happen. You don't just walk away from this, it's a long process. And the --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question --

MR. BARONE: Well, Eleanor, you're --

MS. CLIFT: And the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was never ratified, but it was obeyed. So it's important to keep the treaty and not abandon it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question -- I'll answer for the Group: Will Bush eventually bring around the Europeans on a new greenhouse gas treaty? The answer is yes.

Issue three: MAD is bad.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: (From videotape.) It starts with explaining to Russia and our European friends and allies that Russia is not the enemy of the United States; that the attitude of Mutually Assured Destruction is a relic of the Cold War.

The ABM Treaty is a relic of the past. It prevents freedom-loving people from exploring the future, and that's why we've got to lay it aside.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: President Bush says that MAD, Mutually Assured Destruction -- is a relic of the Cold War, meaning that it has no place in the lexicon of today's international and national security strategy. So why is MAD bad? Why?

Can you tell us in your language? Mutually Assured Destruction means what?

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, it's premised on the theory that America and the Soviet Union could annihilate each other with nuclear weapons --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: With a first strike --

MR. BLANKLEY: -- they could suffer a first strike and still retaliate and wipe them out.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- that would precipitate a second strike.

MR. BLANKLEY: This may --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And then, because the first striker -- the intended first striker would never first strike because he knows he would obliterated, he wouldn't strike. So this is deterrence and it's based on fear?

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, and it worked --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He says it's a relic. Why?

MR. BLANKLEY: And it worked during the Cold War, during the time when the Soviet Union and the United States were confronting each other.

What Bush is doing, and it's really quite heroic, is he's now attempting to deal with the post-Cold War period that hasn't been dealt with in the last 10 years. And I thought what was interesting was that Jacques Chirac, the president of France, a complete reactionary on this matter, said that Europe has done very well under the MAD doctrine and doesn't want to get rid of it.

It's inevitably going to change because the Soviet Union is no longer an enemy, and I believe that this is the first step, which should have been taken a decade ago, to setting a new international regiment.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay: The new enemy.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: (From videotape.) It was a time when the United States and Russia were bitter enemies and the whole concept of peace was based upon the capacity of each of us, each country, to both each other up. The new threats are threats based upon uncertainty, the threats that somebody who hates freedom, or hates America, or hates our allies, or hates Europe will try to blow us up. And the fundamental question is, will freedom-loving nations develop a system to enhance freedom to prevent that from happening? And I make the case yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: As Bush sees it, Russia, which had been our enemy when it was a communist state, is no longer our enemy, so we don't need the MAD doctrine and we don't need the ABM Treaty. So who is the new enemy that the shield is designed, in his thinking, to protect us from?

MR. MCMANUS: Well, the dirty secret, John, is it's China and, if things go bad in Russia and they have a military dictatorship or go left again, it's Russia. And the problem is that he can't get rid of MAD in the end, even the levels of offensive missiles Bush has talked about going down to.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So you see the traditional worry spots as still obtaining. But I think he's talking about a Libya, a North Korea, an Iran or Iraq. A rogue state. And the shield protects us from a rogue state, primarily. But he's not excluding China. He's not excluding --

MR. BARONE: He's not excluding China, but the Rumsfeld report on missile defense talked about the possibility that North Korea, Iran and Iraq could develop capacities. And look at who was going along with what Bush said: the prime minister of Spain, Jose Maria Aznar; Silvio Berlusconi of Italy; Vaclav Havel of the Czech Republic; Kwasniewski, the president of Poland. India is on the side of this. They are at risk from terrorist states as well --

MS. CLIFT: Well, the biggest threats --

MR. BARONE: -- and so forth -- Iran and Iraq and countries like that. We have no defense against them. They could come at us. They could give nuclear blackmail and we would have -- (inaudible).

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What would you say -- I only want a one-word answer. What's the probability that he's going to get Russia to go along with the missile shield? I ask you.

MR. BARONE: Oh, I'd say it's pretty good.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You would?

MR. BARONE: Vladimir Putin has already said that he wants to expand Russia's capacity for nuclear defense because of the threats down in Iran.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue four: Bush the unilateralist.

On his European tour, President Bush confronted a variety of criticisms. Underlying them all is the basic charge that Bush is a unilateralist. This means that he weighs his foreign policy decisions on the scale of American national interests, and he arranges little or no consultation with the international community, even though on the critical missile shield issue, Bush's ranking emissaries fanned out across the world to explain his thinking on it, notably to Russia, China, Turkey, India.

Also, critics point to Bush's rejection of the Kyoto treaty and his refusal to sign a treaty with North Korea, both of which were foreign policy initiatives of Bill Clinton. Bush argues that Clinton's foreign policy must be reviewed with care. He wants to avoid debacles like Somalia, Haiti, last summer's Barak-Arafat summit and Operation Allied Force, which was justified under the pretext of stabilizing the Balkans, whereas it has destabilized the Balkans, as evidenced by the ongoing bloodletting in Macedonia between Albanian guerrillas, largely KLA remnants, and the Macedonian government forces.

Bush defenders further say that Europeans should be the last people on Earth to decry anyone else's unilateralism when their own hands are so dirty with it.

Item: Unilateral all-Europe defense force. The all-Europe army will consist of 300 jet aircraft, a fleet of 60 naval warships, and 60,000 troops not subject to NATO control, not created with any American participation. This all-Europe army was conceived, announced, and started with little or no U.S. approval or public notice -- unilateralism writ large.

We're practically out of time. Doyle, what do you think of that last point, namely, that Europe has gone forward with its own army, in the planning, and they've actually begun to execute the plan -- they didn't consult us.

MR. MCMANUS: Oh, yes, they did, John. They've been talking our ear off on this for years. We weren't paying a whole lot of attention.

Look, I don't think there's anything wrong with being unilateralist the way George W. Bush has in terms of changing --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But they didn't seek our approval. They didn't seek our consent.

MR. MCMANUS: Oh, they came through the councils of NATO month after month after month. And actually, if you look back at the Clinton administration, the Clinton administration said it welcomed the --

MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, let me put it to you this way. Who's the more unilateral, do you think, Europe or the United States? I ask you.

MR. BARONE: Well, I think United States is. But the Europeans went in there on North Korea, where they've had no real diplomatic experience or anything, to try and set up a separate deal. So your point has some validity.

MS. CLIFT: Look, the whiners in this country for a long time have said the Europeans should take care of themselves -- good that they're going ahead with this force. And President Bush acted real tough on everything -- North Korea, on everything. And he has backtracked to where he is virtually where Clinton was on the Middle East and a variety of areas.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, he -- Eleanor, if he's -- in fairness to the president, he's finished his review.

MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.) Right.

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, look, America's acting as the natural leader of the world. They have to be a bit more -- a leader has to be more unilateral. The Europeans, unfortunately, I think, are competing with the United States, rather than trying to work with us.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Doyle, who's the more unilateral? Europe or the United States?

MR. MCMANUS: I'd say it's the United States, but he's doing it on purpose. He wants to -- it's an opening bid. He wants to re-frame the discussion. And he's going to turn out to be multilateralist in the end.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think it's a flat playing field. (Laughter.) There's unilateralism on both sides, and it's all based on self-interest.

We'll be right back with predictions.

(Announcements.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Grade Bush, quickly.

MR. BARONE: A.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: C minus.

MR. BLANKLEY: I'd give Europe a C minus, Bush a B plus.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, are you going to -- okay, go ahead.

MR. MCMANUS: Incomplete. It all matters what happens in the next 12 months.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is A.

Happy Father's Day. Bye-bye!

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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue five: Paying for the Pill.

(Music: "Get Up, Stand Up.")

Three years ago, Viagra, the first pill to treat male impotence, made the world stand at attention. It exploded onto the market, the fastest-selling new drug in history. But it brought with it some gripes.

MARCIA GREENBERGER (The National Women's Law Center): (From videotape.) When Viagra came on the market and it got automatically covered by employers and by insurance companies across the country, women said, "Wait a minute! This does not seem fair."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A female pharmacist specified the grievance. If the sex lives of men are underwritten, why aren't the sex lives of women?

JENNIFER ERICKSON (the pharmacist who brought the suit): (From videotape.) You're giving prescriptions to people all day long, and they're frustrated because their pills aren't covered, and they're asking you the question, "Well, why are they not covered?"

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Erickson sued her employer, a drug store chain, and a federal judge in Seattle this week agreed, issuing what some call a groundbreaking ruling. Her employer, the drug chain, must include birth control pills as a covered prescription drug in its employee health care plan. Observers on both sides of the issue say this requirement will soon apply to most employers and to health plans.

Business groups denounced the ruling as "judicial activism."

ANN REESMAN (The Equal Employment Advisory Council): (From videotape.) I think it's pushing the envelope into trying to create social policy, which isn't really the courts' job.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: An estimated 42 million U.S. women of child-bearing age want birth control. The four common methods of birth control are high-priced -- the pill, taken more or less daily, about $300 a year; monthly injection, $360 a year; quarterly injection, $300 a year; an implantable device good for five years, $600.

Question: Is this ruling fair, Eleanor Clift?

MS. CLIFT: Oh, absolutely. I mean, I think the argument against it is that pregnancy is not an illness, but women want to prevent an unwanted condition, and a lot of pharmaceutical drugs are used for that. And I think the resistance, it's partly economic, but it's also some social conservatives in this country like to think that a sexual life is only linked to procreation, and so therefore, if you give out contraceptives, you're going to somehow encourage wanton behavior.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well --

MS. CLIFT: I mean, I do think there are some Puritan attitudes at the heart of the resistance to this. And a lot of social conservatives are not only opposed to abortion, they're opposed to contraceptives of all kinds.

MR. BLANKLEY: No, very few are. Look, there's nothing inequitable about requiring both if you're going to require at all. I'm not sure what the legal basis for this trial court's deciding to mandate any particular coverage.

The bigger problem with any mandate is that it's going to raise the costs to people who may not want to pay the higher price for a particular service. We're going down that path inevitably. We're going to have federal laws that are going to be mandating more and more coverage --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Where doe that lead?

MR. BLANKLEY: And that's going to put more and more people --

MR. BARONE: Uninsured.

MR. BLANKLEY: -- priced out of being able to buy insurance at all.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Where does that lead?

MR. BARONE: More uninsured people.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That leads to Hillary and her doctrine of universal coverage, and then we're in with Canada, the same bed. Is that right or wrong?

MR. MCMANUS: And Britain -- all those terrible Europeans we were talking about earlier, John. You know, the interesting thing about this ruling was, it didn't really have a whole lot to do with sex or procreation. What the judge said was, if you're going to cover blood pressure pills, which are to prevent an unwanted condition, you've got to cover this.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think, Michael? Quickly.

MR. BARONE: Well ,I think it's wacky as a legal decision. As a public policy -- as an employer, I might very well want to extend these benefits. As a legislator, I might want to --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about males? What about males? Pharmaceutical -- male --

MR. BARONE: You can go down the list for, you know, pills that people would take for prostate and so forth.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mood boosters?

MR. BARONE: I would be inclined, as an employer, to grant these. But to have a judge say that the Constitution somehow requires you to set this, that's just lunacy.

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