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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP

HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN

JOINED BY: MICHAEL BARONE, TONY BLANKLEY,
ELEANOR CLIFT AND JAMES WARREN

TAPED: FRIDAY, MAY 24, 2002
BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF JUNE 1-2, 2002

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THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.
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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: Israeli unilateral disengagement.

Jews call it hafrada, "separation," in Hebrew. Critics call it apartheid. The more technical neo-nomenclature is, quote, unquote, "unilateral disengagement." It's an idea that has gained ground in Israel.

Unilateral disengagement calls for the following:

Israeli withdrawal from most of the occupied territories, without negotiation, and the construction of a fence dividing those territories from Israel along the lines of the 1967 border. This fence would be similar to the 30-mile fence built in 1994 that divides the Gaza Strip from Israel.

Unilateral disengagement also includes:

One, total evacuation of all Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip.

Two, evacuation of 30 to 40 of its 123 settlements in the West Bank -- the most remote and hard-to-defend ones.

Three, withdrawal from much of East Jerusalem.

Unilateral disengagement is popular with Israelis. More than two-thirds poll in favor of separation.

But the fence approach has its critics, who argue that separation equals apartheid; may devastate the economy and will limit water supplies; there's a heavy price tag, $850 million at a minimum; will dismantle settlements, causing painful dislocation, which Prime Minister Sharon refuses even to consider. And so that kills the whole idea, at least in this form.

Unilateral disengagement is the biggest issue in the next election campaign.

Question: Are the concepts of disengagement and final settlement with the Palestinians mutually incompatible, Michael Barone?

MR. BARONE: No, I don't think they're mutually incompatible, John. The problem here, as it's been throughout, is the problem that the Palestinians, under Yasser Arafat, have been determined to destroy Israel as a state. And obviously you can't make peace with somebody that's going to destroy you.

The good news is that contrary to all those people that told us that the Israeli incursions and breakup of the terror networks was going to make Arafat more popular than ever, the Palestinians are now sour on Arafat. We saw that in his so-called triumphal tour, which turned out -- he had to skitter back with his tail between his legs and not go into Jenin. Recent polling of the Palestinians seems to indicate that they are more open, less concerned about terrorizing Israel and destroying Israel, and that more of them are concerned about peace. So that's a light, perhaps, that appeared at the far end of the tunnel.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that a majority?

MR. BARONE: It's not necessarily a majority, John, but also you have to take with a big grain of salt polls that are taken in authoritarian countries. The reason I mention these at all is because they go against the grain of the terrorist government of Yasser Arafat, which has been in control, and so perhaps they're more valid than poll results that would just say, "We love Arafat."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think it may be a majority.

Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: Well, I think you also have to take with a grain of salt some polls that are taken in Israel. I think people are responding emotionally, and this may look like a good idea superficially. But the notion -- one, they're not going to withdraw from the settlements. Two, if they just withdraw from the farthest-out settlements and leave that whole Swiss cheese collection of settlements close in, that's not going to create any kind of peaceful situation with the Palestinians, and you cannot build walls high enough to prevent the violence that's sure to follow.

And there is no political candidate within Israel who is running on this plan or touting this plan. Not even Bibi Netanyahu, as the furthest to the right, who's a viable candidate, is embracing this.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'll tell you who is.

MS. CLIFT: So this is fun to talk about, but it's going nowhere.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'll tell you who is -- Ehud Barak. This is what he says. We see that right on the screen. "Israel must embark on unilateral disengagement and establish a system of security fences. Israel's very future depends on this. Only such a border could secure a solid Jewish majority inside Israel for generations to come."

Now there he is saying, is he not, that the reason is not to protect Israelis against suicide bombers, but it is to preserve a demographic overrun by -- Israel from a demographic overrun by Palestinians.

MR. BLANKLEY: Well --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Isn't that interesting?

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, I mean, there's already about a million Arabs who are citizens of Israel. Their own natural demographic growth will probably be faster than the Jewish Israelis'. Then you add those possible migrations, which is what Barak is talking about, and that's also a factor.

The truth is that walls are a poor and last resort when everything else has failed. It doesn't mean it shouldn't be done; it may be that the best they can get you is sort of a cold, fortified semi-peace until such time as the two sides can reach a real --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, this was not envisioned by Oslo. It's not in the spirit of Oslo. But the concepts are not incompatible if the boundaries in a political settlement are properly established and if the water rights are taken care of. They're not theoretically incompatible.

MR. WARREN: Among other variables, first can I note, I have not seen stripes that bold since the touring company of "Guys & Dolls" made it through town.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You like my mafia suit?

MR. WARREN: (Laughs.) Very, very nice. It's very interesting --

MR. BARONE: Watch your language.

MR. WARREN: -- as recently as four or five years ago, this point of view was seen as distinctly right-wing point of view in Israel. Now you've got lots of folks on the left who share the view, albeit for different reasons. The right doesn't trust the Palestinians as far as bargaining a deal. The folks on the left see as somehow more humane to get out of there --

(Cross talk.)

MR. BARONE: Well, the left no longer trust the Palestinians, either. They've learned.

MR. WARREN: But ultimately, I think you might have in the short term the possible alleviation of some terrorism. But Tony is right; walls don't work, whether you're talking about a neighborhood in, you know, outside Chicago or what are they talking here. Ultimately, these folks have to learn how to live together --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you saying that this bucks the historical tide on the globe, on the planet right now -- that the historical tide goes against this kind of thinking?

MR. WARREN: So whether you're talking about walling North Korea off --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes.

MR. WARREN: -- or Kosovo off, it ain't going to work here, either.

(Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, let's talk expulsion. Almost half of the Israelis, 46 percent, support another strategy: expulsion -- or, euphemistically, "transfer." Under this plan, some Palestinians would be expelled from Israel. Other Palestinians would remain. This Palestinian remnant would neither be Israeli citizens nor have any right to vote. But some expulsion supporters say the remnant Palestinians might be allowed to vote in Jordan, it being, they say, the true Palestine.

Question: Is the idea of expulsion repugnant, or is it acceptable? Eleanor Clift.

MS. CLIFT: It's repugnant, especially for a state that claims to be a democracy. There's another name for expulsion; it's called ethnic cleansing. And so I don't think it will ever take hold in Israel, and I think if it ever did, this country wouldn't support it. What I think Israel is nowhere near --

(Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let Eleanor finish!

MS. CLIFT: Israel is nowhere near embracing this kind of policy.

MR. BARONE: I think you have to make a distinction here. If Israelis are talking about expelling people who are Israeli citizens with Arab backgrounds, I think the objections to it that Eleanor makes make eminent good sense. I don't think Israel has any obligation -- I don't think any sovereign state does -- to allow people who are not citizens of that country to continue to live there if they have good and sufficient reason to believe those people are attempting violent overthrow of the government. So I think that that would be okay. I don't think a country should go expelling its own citizens.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is --

MR. BLANKLEY: Look, it is --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Go ahead.

MR. BLANKLEY: It is repugnant. However, it may be the wave of the future -- not just in Israel, but perhaps in Europe, as well. As long as the West fears Islamist terrorism, there will be advocates for removing every possible suspect, the innocent along with the guilty. Whether it will ever become government policy, I don't know, but it will be argued more and more by people who are more and more fearful.

MS. CLIFT: It's what we did to the Japanese.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute.

MR. BLANKLEY: And that worked.

MS. CLIFT: Oh, come on, Tony.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Has Israel ever been --

MS. CLIFT: That was a black mark on our history.

MR. BARONE: Japanese-Americans were (citizens, mainly ?).

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Has Israel --

MR. BARONE: That's one of the reasons this is wrong. I don't think that we have an obligation -- we have no obligation in this country to take immigrants in from anywhere. We do so, and I think it's good policy, but we're not obliged to.

MS. CLIFT: And the notion that Arab --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me get a question in. Israel, does it have any history of being a pluralistic state or with a tradition of diversity?

MR. BARONE: Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: When?

MR. BARONE: From the very beginning, there have been people of Arab origin who have been members -- who have been citizens of Israel. They are members, and members today, of the Israeli Knesset.

MR. WARREN: All --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it not --

MR. BARONE: That has been there all the way throughout. They have more rights. The Arabs in Israel have -- citizens there -- have more rights than they have in any Arab country.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it not a religious state with an ethnic identity, and that if there were non-ethnics in that state, it would lose its identity?

MR. BARONE: There are, and --

MR. WARREN: Well, sure, but that's one of the perils of pluralism. But a logical --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If they became a majority with democratic rights.

MR. WARREN: Yes. But a logical extension of Michael's correct answer to your question is that all you have here is a prescription for greater isolation and bitterness, along with probably threatening, even wrecking, the Palestinian economy.

MS. CLIFT: Right. And Jordan would never tolerate the notion that the Arabs who stayed within Israel couldn't vote in Israel but could vote in Jordan. You know, the Jordanians are not going to allow -- they've already got a huge Palestinian population. So it's a non-starter politically, as well.

MR. BLANKLEY: Wait a minute. Let me say something.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it not clear that the Israelis do not wish to become minorities in their own country? For openers, they see what's happening in Zimbabwe.

MR. BLANKLEY: Look. Obviously, if the demographics and the migrations were to result in a majority of non-Jews, whether they're Oriental Jews, Russian Jews, South American Jews, but if they weren't Jews, if that number becomes a minority or close to it, Israel loses its concept and its purpose for being, which was a homeland for the Jews. And so at some point prior to that, presumably, some action might be taken.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question. Which way will Israel go, disengagement, or negotiated peace with the Palestinians and mutual embrace? Michael Barone?

MR. BARONE: Well, I don't see mutual embrace happening, so I guess of your two canned alternatives, I have to take the first one.

Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: "Land for peace," I think, still remains the formula. It may take decades to get there, but I still think that's the path: negotiation.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And you see an eventual mutual embrace, do you not?

MS. CLIFT: I have to believe that's the outcome, yes.

MR. BLANKLEY: I think that the rhetoric of Oslo will continue. It will become more and more hollow, and the reality of disengagement will become more and more the de facto policy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?

MR. WARREN: Fitfully, and with lots more bloodshed, you will end up with a negotiated settlement.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Negotiated peace and mutual embrace over the long haul.

Okay, another McLaughlin Y-2-0 Moment to mark our 20th anniversary year. Actually, a montage of moments. Here's a sampling of some of the guest panelists we've had on the Group.

(BEGIN "MCLAUGHLIN Y-2-0 MOMENT" VIDEO MONTAGE)

(Begin videotape segment.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Ed Koch. Welcome, Ed Koch, to this program. I know a few months ago you suffered a slight stroke. For that reason, you might want to avoid looking at Novak.

ED KOCH: Firstly, I'm not speechless this morning.

(End videotape segment.)

(Begin videotape segment.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You understand that question? Now, don't give me any pieties, like "all mankind won." Who won the summit?

MICHAEL KINSLEY: All right. I'm going to be perverse and say Gorbachev won. Here's why.

(End videotape segment.)

(Begin videotape segment.)

LISA MYERS: Whether, in light of the fact that we were going to spend all this money to send the Marines into Lebanon, whether we should not at least take a second look at aid to Israel, military aid to Israel.

(End videotape segment.)

(Begin videotape segment.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Paul Gigot of the Wall Street Journal. By the way, Paul, if your answers are too slow, people are going to ask the question, "Why are we waiting for Gigot"? (Laughter.)

(End videotape segment.)

(Begin videotape segment.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Chris Matthews.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Well, I think that the --

(End videotape segment.)

(Begin videotape segment.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is something else: Barnes, Matthews and Kondracke. The blow dryers have been working overtime this week. (Laughter.)

(End videotape segment.)

(Begin videotape segment.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony Snow, welcome back to the show. I must tell you that -- having not been here for some time, that all doors are locked on the outside, so there's no escape.

TONY SNOW: (Laughs.) Well, I'll try to survive here.

(End videotape segment.)

(Begin videotape segment.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Anything, Tucker? By the way, welcome to the show.

TUCKER CARLSON: Well, thank you.

(End videotape segment.)

(END "MCLAUGHLIN Y-2-0 MOMENT" VIDEO MONTAGE.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A motley crew, but not as motley as this one, Warren.

MS. CLIFT: (Chuckles.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: When we come back, can you have a university policy that favors one race over another in admissions without that policy being inherently racist?

(Announcements.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two: Diversity decision.

TED SHAW (NAACP Legal Defense Fund): (From videotape.) At issue here is the degree to which black and Latino students will have access to selective institutions of higher education, to graduate and professional schools around the country. The stakes are enormous.

TERRY PELL (Center for Individual Rights): (From videotape.) The law school says it's interested in diversity, which is fine. But it turns out there's only one kind of diversity the law school is interested in, and that's skin color.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This argument is over a ruling from a federal court three weeks ago. The court upheld the race-conscious admissions policy at the University of Michigan Law School. Barbara Grutter, an applicant to the law school who is white, was rejected. She sued the school, claiming she was denied a fair review because Michigan's racial admissions process favors black, Hispanic and Native American. The odds for admission into Michigan Law are 132 times greater for these minorities than for whites, claims Ms. Grutter and her supporters.

Michigan defends its system as a way to ensure campus diversity -- a benefit to all students, argues Michigan -- and to achieve, quote, unquote, "critical mass" of minority students on campus, so no one minority feels isolated.

Now remember, that's critical mass, not quotas. Racial quotas, whereby a specific number of seats are set aside for minority students, were banned by the Supreme Court back in 1978. In that '78 case, the high court ruled in favor of a would-be medical student, a white male, Alan Bakke.

Despite this reverse discrimination ruling, the court left some leeway for race, declaring that when a university has a, quote, unquote, "compelling state interest" for increasing diversity on campus, schools can consider race as a factor in the admissions process. Lower courts have been using the '78 decision as a guidepost ever since, with varying interpretations.

This recent federal ruling was 5 to 4 against the white Barbara Grutter.

Question: Does the university have the right to dictate, through its admissions process, what it believes to be the ideal racial composition of the student body, Tony Blankley?

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, that's of course what's being litigated as to what the criteria that are constitutional --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does it have the right to dictate what is the ideal composition?

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, the advocates of affirmative action and this circuit and some other courts have said they do have the right to try to get to diversity.

The underlying policy arguments, I think, are falling away fast, because one of the great claims of those who advocate affirmative action is that it helps at least the minority being benefitted. But the statistics are showing that in fact they have a much higher failure-to-graduate rate when they're admitted to colleges and universities and graduate schools where they are not competitive -- and recent studies have shown that -- so that in fact it benefits nobody.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it time for Congress to amend the federal civil rights statutes so that whites are given similar specific protections in the instances of California and Florida, where Anglo whites are both -- in both states are in the minority?

MR. BARONE: John, the -- John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You understand what I'm saying?

MS. CLIFT: Well --

MR. BARONE: John, under the Constitution, whites are protected, like any other citizen, under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want that amended.

MR. BARONE: I think -- I don't think it needs to be amended. I think it needs to be followed. The problem here is that the courts have used one justice's decision in Bakke --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who was that?

MR. BARONE: Justice Powell --

MR. WARREN: No.

MR. BARONE: -- who said diversity was being allowed. Four justices in that decision said no quotas under any circumstances. Four justices said you could have it for -- to remedy previous discrimination.

MS. CLIFT: Look --

MR. BARONE: University of Michigan is not claiming previous discrimination. Only one justice, Powell, said you could do it for diversity. Every other justice refused to concur in that opinion.

They have -- the courts have lawlessly taken the opinion of one Supreme Court justice, chosen on one occasion --

MS. CLIFT: Oh, come on, Michael! Oh, come on! Give somebody else a chance --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. Quickly.

MR. BARONE: -- and have overruled the 14th Amendment and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

MS. CLIFT: Oh, come on!

MR. WARREN: This is not a matter --

MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. BARONE: I think this will not stand.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right.

MR. WARREN: Cool down. Cool down.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, right.

MR. WARREN: This is not --

MR. BARONE: No, I've always been strongly in favor of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and I remain that way today.

MS. CLIFT: "This will not stand." You sound like -- you sound like George Wallace, standing in the schoolhouse door!

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But you think this is an aberration?

MR. BARONE: No, I was for the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and I'm for it today. Thank you.

MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.) Oh, good! (Inaudible.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think this -- is this -- because this is an aberration, in your judgment?

MR. BARONE: Well, the Hopwood case in the 5th Circuit went the other way. I think Hopwood will be upheld, and the Grutter case will be overruled.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is your conclusion about this?

MR. WARREN: The fact is that the 1978 case, the key case here, is a bit of a (model ?). And even though I agree with the majority in this case, I think they followed the Bakke-Powell decision way too strictly, and the reality is, ultimately, when this goes up, it will be altered. But I still think the Supreme Court doesn't have the nerve to go all the way with this for policy reasons, and diversity will still be seen as a good, worthwhile policy aim in education and other sectors.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So it won't -- or it won't take it up.

MS. CLIFT: Universities look at all sorts of things when they admit someone, and they look at geography. They look at, you know, family income. They look at, you know, all sorts of things. There's no reason not to have race -- diversity --

MR. BARONE: The Civil Rights Act of 1964 says you're not supposed to use race.

MS. CLIFT: Excuse me. Diversity and pluralism is a good thing in this country, and it's okay to use race as one factor.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Do you think --

MS. CLIFT: And these people are not failing, as Tony suggests.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you going to support --

(Cross talk.)

MR. BLANKLEY: Eleanor, you're wrong. Eleanor, you are wrong.

MS. CLIFT: Excuse me, I am not wrong. I can show you studies --

MR. BLANKLEY: Universities -- you can throw in the Harvard-Princeton study that never looked at the data of what was happening in --

MS. CLIFT: People are not failing --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: As you --

MR. BLANKLEY: I'll challenge you in a column. I can prove you're wrong.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Excuse me. Excuse me.

MS. CLIFT: Go right ahead.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Excuse me.

Issue three: Anti-gun is gone.

CHARLTON HESTON: (From videotape.) -- from my cold, dead hands! (Applause, cheers.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Guns: They were a hot issue in the 2000 presidential election, but no more. Gun sales rose sharply in the U.S. following the September terrorist attack. And politicians -- even the Democrats have shied away from criticizing American gun laws. The Democrats suffered heavy election losses from espousing gun control in 2000. West Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee: all lost by Gore in 2000.

Now many Democrats in Southern and rural states are looking to take on the Warner way. That is, mix socially progressive values with a pro-gun-rights stance, a la Democratic Virginia Governor Mark Warner. And get this: last week, Attorney General John Ashcroft announced a radical shift in gun control policy. He claims the Second Amendment, quote, "broadly protects the right of individuals," unquote, to own firearms, thus rejecting the long-held interpretation that the Second Amendment only guarantees the right to bear arms to militias.

And yet, no major whining from Democrats. Long-time gun-control advocate Sarah Brady of the Brady Law recently bought a rifle. She defends her right to bear arms as an individual. I don't think it's hypocritical at all, because I have always said any law-abiding person should be able to purchase a gun. It's the terrorists and the fugitives and the felons and the background checks that we need to take to keep them out of the wrong hands. Charlton Heston and his National Rifle Association are more influential than ever, with membership growing daily.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: How else do we know that the anti-gun cult is dead? I ask you, James Warren.

MR. WARREN: The Democrats are especially nervous after September 11. It's not a favorable position. B, the NRA was underestimated in the 2000 election. C, you've got prototypical Democrats like Zell Miller of Georgia who are urging them to, you know, take a position lest they infuriate more white males, who they need to win a presidential election nationally.

MS. CLIFT: But having said all that, I think Senator Lieberman and Senator John McCain are going to succeed in finally closing the gun-show loophole years after it was first introduced.

Gun control is not dead in this country.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I take note we now have gun clubs making a comeback on campus. The Harvard Law School target shooting club; the Mount Holyoke gun club for women, Eleanor; Maryland Institute College of Arts gun club; the Reed College shooting sports club in liberal Oregon state.

We'll be right back with predictions.

(Announcements.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will Congress send trade promotion authority to the President for signature?

MR. BARONE: Well, yes, but it's very shaky.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: Yes, because the corporations will lean on the members, make them do it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: I think no, but I'm not sure.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Jim?

MR. WARREN: As America yawns, yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is yes.

Next week, Congress returns; there goes the neighborhood. Bye-bye.

PBS SEGMENT

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue four: No sex in the city.

PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape.) Abstinence is the surest way. And the only completely effective way to prevent unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Many applaud the idea that teenagers should wait until marriage to have sex: the ideal solution to teenage pregnancies and teenage sexually transmitted diseases. But what's the reality?

In 1999, about half of all high school students and some two-thirds of seniors reported having had sex. Every year, one in four sexually active teens contracts a sexually transmitted disease. And 20 percent of sexually active girls age 15 to 19 get pregnant annually. The 2002 welfare reform legislation, a revision of the '96 measure, assigns $50 million a year for five years to sex ed that focuses on "waiting until marriage" programs. As in 1996, the bill bars any discussion of birth control, except how often birth control measures fail. Given the restrictions of the legislation, California chose not to take the money, by the way. Next year, President Bush wants to double the set-aside money for abstinence-centered sex ed, but getting teens to wait until marriage will be an uphill battle, as former vice president Dan Quayle points out, popular culture steers youngsters away from abstinence.

DAN QUAYLE (former vice president): (From videotape.) If you don't finish high school and have a child before you're 20, you have an 80 percent chance of living in poverty. An 80 percent chance. Now how often do we see from our cultural leaders the glamorization of education, abstinence, or even marriage? Actually, it's almost the opposite.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: does abstinence work? Eleanor Clift.

MS. CLIFT: We should encourage abstinence and maybe it --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does it work?

MS. CLIFT: No.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It works if it's used, Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Exactly. Maybe in the days when people got married at 17 and 18, you could be abstinent until you got married. But people don't get married now till their mid 20s, late 20s. It's an unrealistic policy, and Michael's magazine, "U.S. News," just had a cover story on teens and sex and how they're having sex younger and younger. And I think that story gets written every couple of years.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: James?

MR. WARREN: As Tony Blankley has accurately pointed out to me, the only place it's prevalent in American society is among its married couples. (Subdued laughter.)

There is no empirical evidence that abstinence works in the schools. There is some -- not totally convincing -- evidence that more broad-based sexual -- sex-education programs do work in the schools.

Unfortunately, this is sort of fundamentalism brought into a secular setting. The reality is that biology is going to trump ideology here --

MR. BARONE: Well, it's not fundamentalism. You can make an abstinence case based on a secular base.

MR. WARREN: -- and you're far better off with a broad-based sex-education, Michael, that makes clear what life choices are to kids, including the burdens and responsibilities of early parenthood.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question -- Elayne Bennett, by the way, points out that in programs involving minority students, abstinence as a component of the program has yielded very promising results.

My question to you is, how many first ladies had sex as teenagers? (Laughter.) You want help here?

MR. BLANKLEY: Yes --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Florence Harding, at the age of 19. Mamie Eisenhower, 19. Eliza Johnson, 17. Elizabeth Monroe, 17. Martha Washington, 18.

MR. BARONE: John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know how I know?

MR. BLANKLEY: Yes, I do.

MR. BARONE: They were married.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They were married at that age.

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Also, Romeo --

MR. BARONE: (Inaudible) -- John, I --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Just a moment -- just --

MR. BARONE: You were there!

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Romeo and Juliet were what age?

MR. BLANKLEY: Fourteen.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Fourteen. Both. So what does that tell you?

MR. BARONE: John, I don't --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That this whole subject is elastic?

MR. BARONE: John, I said I think that --

MR. WARREN: They didn't have any condoms. I don't know. What does it tell you?

MS. CLIFT: Yes, but they weren't worried --

MR. BARONE: I've been to Verona, Italy, where Romeo and Juliet were. John, I don't have a full answer to this question, but I think abstinence, on the --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly~!

MR. BARONE: -- abstinence programs, on the margin, have had some success -- on the margin. I do know that the proliferation of condoms use, instruction and so forth has also accompanied an increase in teenage sex.

MS. CLIFT: It makes sexually inactive older people happy. (Laughs.)

MR. BARONE: Do I have an answer? No, I don't have an answer.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, even though you --

MR. BARONE: But I'm not so clear that the people that tell us that we just -- I think that Jim Warren had a better answer earlier in terms of giving people more information about the choices and consequences that people actually have.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I think that's very helpful, Michael. Thank you.

MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.) Could you repeat that --

MR. BARONE: Always a pleasure, John.

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