THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP
HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN
JOINED BY: TONY BLANKLEY, LAWRENCE KUDLOW, ELEANOR CLIFT, AND CLARENCE PAGE
TAPED: FRIDAY, OCTOBER 11, 2002
BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF OCTOBER 12-13, 2002
(C) COPYRIGHT 2002, FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC., 620 NATIONAL
PRESS BUILDING, WASHINGTON, DC 20045, USA. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. ANY REPRODUCTION, REDISTRIBUTION OR RETRANSMISSION IS EXPRESSLY PROHIBITED.
UNAUTHORIZED REPRODUCTION, REDISTRIBUTION OR RETRANSMISSION
CONSTITUTES A MISAPPROPRIATION UNDER APPLICABLE UNFAIR COMPETITION LAW, AND FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC. RESERVES THE RIGHT TO PURSUE ALL REMEDIES AVAILABLE TO IT IN RESPECT TO SUCH MISAPPROPRIATION.
FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC. IS A PRIVATE FIRM AND IS NOT
AFFILIATED WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. NO COPYRIGHT IS CLAIMED AS TO ANY PART OF THE ORIGINAL WORK PREPARED BY A UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE AS PART OF THAT PERSON'S OFFICIAL DUTIES.
FOR INFORMATION ON SUBSCRIBING TO FNS, PLEASE CALL JACK GRAEME AT 202-347-1400.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: The Iraq deal.
A sweeping authorization for unilateral military action against Iraq: That's what the Congress delivered to President Bush early Friday morning. The House vote was 296 to 133, and the Senate vote was 77 to 23. Key to granting Bush his authority was Senate Leader Daschle, who only days before was notably absent from a White House Rose Garden ceremony that showcased the president's resolution with Gephardt, Lieberman and other prominent Democratic senators. But before the vote early Friday morning, Mr. Daschle lauded this final draft.
SENATE MAJORITY LEADER TOM DASCHLE (D-SD): (From videotape.) This resolution gives the president the authority he needs to confront the threat posed by Iraq. It is fundamentally different and a better resolution than the one the president sent to us. It is neither a Democratic resolution or a Republican resolution. It is now a statement of American resolve and values.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mr. Daschle says that this resolution that was passed is different from the earlier resolution -- fundamentally different. What's the fundamental difference between the two?
MR. KUDLOW: I don't think there is a fundamental difference, John. I there were some very marginal differences on reporting -- the Congress every 60 days, and they removed the word "region" from it. But the heart of this thing, the nuts and bolts is section 3-B2. I read it and studied it, because I know you're going to grill us on it today. And it states clearly that the president is allowed to take all necessary action to combat terrorism and terrorist organizations. And in my judgment, thankfully, that puts virtually no limit on the wise military and political course he's going to take.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, contrary to what you think, there is a fundamental difference between the two. You touched on it. But you fail to see the fundamentality of it. This is what the title is of the resolution, quote: "This joint resolution may be cited as the authorization for the use of military force against Iraq." It's "Iraq," and not "the region." Am I right, Eleanor, that it is a fundamental difference?
MS. CLIFT: Well, that was the way they narrowed the language down. But look: The outcome of this vote was never in doubt. In fact, more Democrats voted against it than were initially anticipated. But it still is a strong message, and what it will do is make it more likely for the Russians and the French to go along with a U.N. resolution. And then the president's going to have to decide whether he takes yes for an answer, because an inspection regime is likely to get underway, and that will take weeks, if not months, and may interfere with his window for war.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.
MR. BLANKLEY: Yes?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the answer to the question, the fundamental distinction between the two?
MR. BLANKLEY: It is not a fundamental distinction.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is not, the region versus Iraq?
MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He can't wage war against Iran, even if Iran joins Iraq, which is not altogether impossible.
MR. BLANKLEY: There was never any plan to use this war authorization to go into Iran or Syria or anywhere else. And that was throwaway language which the White House was happy to discard. It didn't make any difference. It was boilerplate from the last time they passed a similar resolution.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Or was it a negotiation strategy? In other words, we're going to give --
MR. BLANKLEY: You've got to give something. I mean, you've been in negotiation; you understand you put in just something to attract them and then you pull it back.
MS. CLIFT: A bargaining chip.
MR. BLANKLEY: I would make one point, though, about your opening introduction. Daschle was not key. He didn't lead; he followed. Gephardt led. It was when Gephardt met with the president, cut the deal at the White House, that Daschle was undercut. And he --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean the leader of the United States Senate could go in opposing this, and you think that it would be still a powerful resolution? Of course Daschle was essential.
MR. BLANKLEY: I think it was useful for him to be aboard, but he wasn't the one who created the flood of Democrats for it; it was Gephardt who was the one who created the flood.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, I'm not saying that. I'm saying that his final positive stroke on it was critical.
MR. BLANKLEY: He was useful.
MR. PAGE: This gave the green light, but this whole affair was a dance. We did know that Daschle was going to go along and most of the Democrats would go along and that the language was throwaway language, but it also gave the Democrats something to scream about. You know, this whole affair reminds me of something Gore Vidal said during the Vietnam era: that Congress didn't know whether to be hawks or doves, so they behaved like capons. And that's the way this Congress is behaving.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. This Rush to War. Senior senator and principal dissenter Robert Byrd impugned, he impugned the resolution's constitutionality.
SENATOR ROBERT BYRD (D-WV): (From videotape.) This is my 50th year in Congress, and I never would have thought that I would find a Senate which would lack the backbone to stand up against a stampede, this rush to war, this rush to give the president of the United States -- whatever president he is, of whatever party -- this rush to give a president, to put it in his hands alone, to let him determine alone when he will send the sons and daughters of the American people into war.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Senator Byrd's opposition is rooted in Section 8, Article II of the Constitution, that says Congress, not the president, shall have the power to declare war.
Question: Does this enactment exceed presidential powers and, therefore, Byrd is right, it's fundamentally unconstitutional; and can we expect litigation against it? I ask you.
MR. PAGE: Well, you know, the Constitution allows for war or for insurrection, and we have not had a declared war since World War II. We fight many wars without official declaration. There will be a legal battle, which will be one more down.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He is saying that this is so carte blanche, such a perfectly blank check, that it is tantamount to giving him the right to declare war.
MS. CLIFT: Right.
MR. PAGE: Remember the Gulf of Tonkin resolution?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you agree with that?
MS. CLIFT: He fought a valiant fight, and maybe there will be a challenge, but the -- and it may go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Do you think this Supreme Court is going to declare this unconstitutional? This is a non-starter.
MR. BLANKLEY: Let me --
MS. CLIFT: And I want to point out that Senator Daschle did do some leading. He shut down Senator Byrd's filibuster because the Democrats didn't want to carry this debate into yet another week.
(Cross talk, chuckles.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, in defense of Robert Byrd, he said he would not filibuster the resolution. Please continue.
MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah. Yeah. He didn't filibuster after 75 votes were lined up against him.
MS. CLIFT: (Chuckling.) Yes, right.
MR. BLANKLEY: Look, the Constitution doesn't recommend any particular language for the declaration of war. All it says is that Congress has the power to declare. They have, in effect, declared war --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, how Clintonian can you get? You are a disgrace.
MR. BLANKLEY: But I could --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to ask you a question --
MR. KUDLOW: "Clintonian" is the key point, because Mr. Byrd was forcefully, favorably, just like Carl Levin, in -- with Clinton on these interventions, on the Iraq resolution, on the -- going into the Balkans, in Macedonia and Bosnia and Kosovo.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. All right. Now the --
MR. KUDLOW: And all of a sudden now, with Bush trying to lead this against a legitimate threat, Byrd pulls out the Constitution. He has no credibility.
MS. CLIFT: Well -- excuse me. "A legitimate threat" -- there was some news this week, and that's the CIA letter to the Senate, which pointed out that there is no -- there was no immediacy --
MR. KUDLOW: That wasn't news. That's an agency that's baffled by --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let her finish, please!
MS. CLIFT: -- no immediacy to this threat and that if there is a U.S.-led invasion, that it may well spark Saddam Hussein to use the very weapons that we are trying to prevent --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. And they also said the year 2010 for any nuclear power for Iraq.
Let's move on. Okay. Imminent threat. Democratic Senator Richard Durbin, to his credit, who voted against the resolution, stresses that the United States has always been a defensive nation; we have not been an offensive nation. He faults the resolution for lacking a provision that would require that the threat that would permit the president to use such power, unlimited power -- that the threat be imminent.
SENATOR RICHARD DURBIN (D-IL): (From videotape.) Historically, we have said it is not enough that you have a weapon that might hurt us -- think of 50 years of Cold War, when the Soviet Union had missiles poised and pointed at us -- it's not enough that you just possess those weapons; we will watch to see if you make any effort toward hurting anyone in the United States, any of our citizens or our territory.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Republican Senator Jon Kyl, who voted for the resolution, sharply disagrees, saying it is impossible to discern when imminence kicks in.
SENATOR JON KYL (R-AZ): (From videotape.) It is virtually impossible for us to know when a threat is imminent -- a threat posed by a regime such as Saddam Hussein's or a group of terrorists. These people do not announce their threats in advance. They conceal their intentions, as well as their capabilities, and it is very difficult for us to know that precise moment at which the threat is imminent.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who's right, Durbin or Kyl? Is Kyl right in saying that you really cannot discern when imminence kicks in?
MR. KUDLOW: Kyl is exactly right. He's essentially using the Kissinger technology argument, which nullifies all these other, you know, Treaty of Westphalia arguments.
But the key thing about Jon Kyl is, with the departure of Senator Phil Gramm, Senator Jon Kyl now becomes one of the major -- if not the major -- conservative leader in the Senate. He was the point guy for --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, we know all that. I want to know --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to know whether we can demand that there be an imminent threat.
MR. PAGE: Why did JFK bother to get those aerial pictures of the missiles in Cuba if he didn't need some kind of evidence?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let him finish.
MR. PAGE: This is a big shift. This is a big shift away – Saddam Hussein’s past behavior does not show any threats against the United States, any terrorism, any suitcases smuggled into our country. All he's done is lob missiles over to Israel. Now this is very true, but --
MR. PAGE: -- this really does not threaten this country. This really -- do you know what an imminent threat is? It is not there. We are moving American history in a different direction.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If you don't have imminent threat, you are moving it --
MR. PAGE: Twenty-first century now; we'll move back to the 19th, Larry?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's make sure we -- just quietly.
MR. KUDLOW: Baghdad is not the rational player that Moscow was.
MR. PAGE: Oh, sure. And Khrushchev was, right?
MR. KUDLOW: Everybody knows --
MR. PAGE: Khrushchev was --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Please relinquish.
MR. PAGE: Yes, sir.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This opens the door -- this seems like a minor point, perhaps, to some people. But it opens the door to unilateral strikes --
MR. PAGE: Good point.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and preemptive strikes, which is the whole dynamic that so disturbs people.
MS. CLIFT: That's what Senator Durbin was getting at -- this whole doctrine of preemptive strikes, which, in fact, every U.S. president has had and is better left unsaid.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. Yes, but many senators who voted yes on the resolution also criticized and qualified their support, as did Senator Hillary Clinton of New York.
SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY): (From videotape.) A vote for it is not a vote to rush to war. It is a vote that puts awesome responsibility in the hands of our president. And we say to him: Use these powers wisely and as a last resort.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Senator Clinton says that the resolution should have been stronger in its emphasis on U.N. inspectors and listening to them and letting Blix control the action instead of trying to slip around and avoid him or nullify him or treat him the way that Clinton initially wanted to treat Monica -- undercut him -- (laughter) --
MR. PAGE: Oops.
MR. BLANKLEY: Undercover?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- or -- and she also said that diplomacy must be stressed more than it has.
MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think this administration is delinquent on both counts?
MR. BLANKLEY: No. They've obviously -- they're moving on the diplomatic front at the same time that they're preparing militarily. I thought -- and all -- or most of the liberals who went with the president, you know, felt a need to make a few statements,' "But, now, you be careful, Mr. President, do the right job."
I thought the most interesting thing that Hillary said was that one of the reasons she ended up supporting our president, as she used the word, was her eight years of experience in the White House. If you look carefully at her speech, I think she's used that phrase once before. But she was saying, based on her experience, she understands the demands on a president, and that was one of the things that she identified as flipping her over to support the president.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me let Eleanor in here. I want to ask you a question. Are you comfortable with all this power being entrusted to any president?
MS. CLIFT: I think President Bush uses the "trust me" analogy with virtually everything he does, from the tax cut and the economy to war-making.
MR. BLANKLEY: And you can trust him.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right.
MS. CLIFT: Well -- (inaudible) -- but no Democrat who has presidential aspirations could afford to be --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to ask you something, but only after I read this list of Senate -- senators who dissented, 21 Democrats. They are Akaka, Bingaman, Boxer, Byrd, Conrad, Corzine, Dayton, Durbin, Feingold, Graham, Inouye, Kennedy, Leahy, Levin, Mikulski.
Any surprises there? Well, we have more: Murray, Reed, Sarbanes, Stabenow, Wellstone, Wyden; one Republican, Chafee of Rhode Island; and one Independent, Jeffords.
What does this list tell you of nay-sayers to this resolution? I ask you.
MR. KUDLOW: I am semi-surprised at Graham of Florida, but only semi.
I think the more interesting point is that this resolution picked up 20 more -- roughly 20 more senators than the resolution in 1990 on the eve of the first Persian Gulf War. And I want to say that Bush's power curve is so strong, John. You take a look at the Pew poll that just came out. He's up to 90 percent.
MS. CLIFT: Uh, yeah. He has manipulated --
MR. KUDLOW: Let me just make this point.
MS. CLIFT: -- fear in this country.
MR. KUDLOW: On regime change, on first strike, on this war, Bush has the full support of this country.
MR. PAGE: It depends on how you word it.
MS. CLIFT: He has -- no.
MR. PAGE: It depends on how you phrase the question.
MS. CLIFT: People are very ambivalent in this country about this.
MR. PAGE: Very ambivalent.
MS. CLIFT: And he has manipulated the fear factor to the point --
MR. KUDLOW: I don't think so.
MS. CLIFT: -- where a lot of people --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question.
MS. CLIFT: -- (inaudible).
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We've got to get on.
MR. BLANKLEY: Let me make --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quick point.
MR. BLANKLEY: Let me make --
MS. CLIFT: But on that list of names, you didn't find a single Democrat who's interested in running for president. You did find a Republican who may well switch if --
MR. BLANKLEY: Chafee, yes.
MS. CLIFT: -- the Republicans take over the Senate.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If they voted their conscience, if they had voted their conscience in the United States Senate, how many would have dissented, Eleanor? Would you care to tell us?
MS. CLIFT: There would have been a lot more noes, and there would have been more Republicans on that list.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Would it have been the majority? Would it have been the majority?
MS. CLIFT: I think so. I think so.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So we had pusillanimity writ large in that Senate, is that what you're saying?
MS. CLIFT: Yes! (Laughs.)
MR. BLANKLEY: Let me point out something --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly!
MR. BLANKLEY: None of the leadership of the Democratic Party voted against, but the activist base of the Democratic Party is against. So you had --
MS. CLIFT: Nancy Pelosi is in the leadership.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So what's your point? What's your point?
MR. BLANKLEY: There's a huge division in the Democratic Party between its leaders, who can't afford to break with the country and with Bush --
MS. CLIFT: No, that's not true.
MR. BLANKLEY: -- and the activist base.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who -- who voted for -- who voted for --
MS. CLIFT: Two-thirds of the Democratic base, not just the liberal activists, are ambivalent about this war, and I think some of those who support the resolution are ambivalent.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence?
MR. PAGE: There's also ambivalence among the Republican base too, and you know it --
MS. CLIFT: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me ask Tony this question and see how good he is. Who voted against the resolution, and will it cost him his Senate seat?
MS. CLIFT: Paul Wellstone, maybe.
MR. BLANKLEY: Wellstone --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wellstone. Maybe. Let's hope not.
MS. CLIFT: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: When we come back, with polls showing three quarters of voters want Congress and Bush to spend more energy on the economy, are we inching our way back towards a pocketbook election?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Two: Guns or Butter?
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: (From videotape.) Winning this war on terror and protecting the homeland, making sure our kids get educated, we ought to set priorities, but we ought not to spend beyond those priorities.
FORMER VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE: (From videotape.) How can it be essential that we go to war prior to the election, but absolutely fine to wait until after the election before we take any action to deal with the economy?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: To date, it's been guns all the way. But now, with Iraq resolutions in the U.N. and Congress, inspectors at Saddam's door, and an international coalition hopefully in the making, butter issues -- starting with the economy -- may be in the ascension.
The question is, are they in the ascension?
I ask you.
MR. KUDLOW: Well, I think -- you know, I think the economy is going to be an issue, there's no question about that. The funny part about the issue is I don't see the Democrats really taking advantage of it, even though they're the ones who want to keep raising it.
The economy is growing at a sub-par, slow, tepid rate -- 3 percent. It ought to be growing at 6. And of course the stock market, at least until the last couple of days, has been a shambles.
But I was at the conference this morning, this Democratic conference, this so-called summit meeting --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Were you sitting with any members of the Congress?
MR. KUDLOW: Yes, I was in the thick of it and --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you talk to Mr. Daschle?
MR. KUDLOW: I did not. I did not --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you talk to Mr. Gephardt?
MR. KUDLOW: I talked to Mr. Gephardt --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What did he have to say?
MR. KUDLOW: -- I talked to Mr. Corzine.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did they ask for your wisdom?
MR. KUDLOW: Yes, they did. But they don't have a party position. Some people in the party want to roll the tax cut back, and then you hear this --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the Bush economic plan?
MR. KUDLOW: Well, now this --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the Bush economic plan? Will you tell me?
MR. KUDLOW: At this point, they don't have an agenda either.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh!
MR. KUDLOW: That's why this is such a strange thing. And here's the point about Bush. He's got three weeks now until the general election. I don't think Iraq is going to help him that much in these individual races, and I think they should stick with the investor tax cut that they proposed and then dropped. I really think that's what they should do.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So you agree with three-quarters of the nation that both the Congress and the president ought to be devoting more energy to the economy?
MR. KUDLOW: Yes, yes I do. I do.
MS. CLIFT: Well, people are getting their 401(k) statements, and the Democrats are calling them "201(k)" statements.
MR. KUDLOW: I actually coined that phrase about two months ago.
MS. CLIFT: Oh. All right. Well thank you for your wisdom.
But if you go race by race, the top issues are not Iraq --
MR. KUDLOW: I agree. I agree.
MS. CLIFT: -- it's the economy, Social Security --
MR. KUDLOW: I agree.
MS. CLIFT: -- education and affordable health care.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it --
MR. KUDLOW: But there's no political threat --
MS. CLIFT: But it's not a voting issue yet.
MR. PAGE: Things are going change.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, wait a second --
MR. PAGE: Things are going to change, though. I think this is one -- another reason why the Democrats voted so heavily in favor of Bush's proposition -- to get Iraq off the table --
MR. KUDLOW: Well, that may be. That may be.
MR. PAGE: -- because once we start talking about domestic issues, you know, Democrats go up and Bush is --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to -- let me ask Tony a question, and the question relates to the dynamic of a midterm election. Who usually stays home?
MR. BLANKLEY: The non- -- other than the activist base of the parties, and the people who are less informed and who are not as strongly affiliated with either party.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, that's true in any election. I'm talking about a midterm election. The people who are content stay home. The people who are irritated -- they vote in large numbers.
MR. BLANKLEY: No, they're not -- no, the people who are --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Also, the low --
MR. BLANKLEY: People who are motivated come to elect -- they can be motivated either positively or negatively.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. What motivates them more than the present state of the economy? Will you tell me? We're talking turnout here, and if you're talking turnout that the -- the catalyst of which is dissatisfaction with the economy --
MR. BLANKLEY: Well --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- bear in mind now the positive track and the negative track -- what do they call it?
MS. CLIFT: The "wrong track" numbers.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The "wrong track" numbers today are higher than the "right track" numbers.
MR. KUDLOW: (Off mike) -- blaming Bush. That's the odd part.
MR. BLANKLEY: Let me -- yeah. And there's also never been as big a gap --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What? Let him finish!
MR. BLANKLEY: There's also never been as big a gap between the presidential approval and the "wrong track" numbers. So those numbers are ambiguous.
Let me answer your question, by the way, because although in theory, perhaps, you might be right, the polling being done now shows that the Republican base is more energized than the Democratic base.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why?
MR. BLANKLEY: I don't know, but that's what the polls show.
MR. PAGE: They have a reason to be. (Chuckles.)
MS. CLIFT: War. War.
MR. BLANKLEY: Whatever it is, right now, while this --
MR. KUDLOW: But --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Where did you see that?
MR. BLANKLEY: I've seen it in -- I saw it in a poll this --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What poll did you see it in?
MR. BLANKLEY: I don't remember.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You read everything. You're the editor over there.
MR. BLANKLEY: I read a lot of polls --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me say this. I'm saying the general principle is that if you're unhappy, you go to the polls, and you protest. And there are a lot of people unhappy, so turnout could tell --
MS. CLIFT: The ingredients are there --
MR. KUDLOW: But let me make this point. Bush is embarking on a two-week campaign tour, and one hears from the White House he is going to make an economic response to Daschle and Gephardt and Gore.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think it's going to stick?
MR. KUDLOW: I think it's a good defensive measure. And also, there is still a chance he will propose an investors' tax cut.
MR. PAGE: That wasn't just a strong ancillary. (Laughter.)
MR. KUDLOW: So he's nullified a lot of these disadvantages.
MR. PAGE: Yeah. (Inaudible.) That's right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I have a question.
MS. CLIFT: It's the worst economy since Hoover, and there's no evidence --
MR. BLANKLEY: It's not the worst economy since Herbert Hoover. You've got 3 --
MS. CLIFT: It's the worst drop in -- worst --
MR. BLANKLEY: You have 3 percent growth, for goodness' sake!
MS. CLIFT: Excuse me. It's the worst -- the worst --
MR. BLANKLEY: How can you say this is the worst economy?
MS. CLIFT: Let me explain.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let her finish. Let her finish. Quickly.
MS. CLIFT: It's the biggest drop in the stock market, in percentage terms, since Herbert Hoover.
MR. KUDLOW: Since FDR. Since FDR.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. Exit question.
MR. PAGE: It's the biggest unemployment -- (inaudible) -- since the last recession.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question. I want to ask --
MS. CLIFT: Right. (Inaudible) -- analogy works. (Chuckles.)
MR. KUDLOW: Thirty-seven, '38, the president was FDR. Other than that, you got the story right. You just missed the president.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question. Is there such a thing as reverse coattails? Meaning if Bush's handling of the economy is foremost in voters' minds, it could hurt all Republican candidates. Is that a possibility? Quickly. Exit question. Yes or no?
MR. KUDLOW: I don't think so.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't think so?
MR. KUDLOW: I don't think --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it a possibility?
MS. CLIFT: It's a possibility there, but it hasn't happened yet.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think so?
MR. BLANKLEY: Everything's possible. I don't think -- there's no evidence of it.
MR. PAGE: I think coattails in both directions are overblown these days, and that is to the good of -- or relief of -- a lot of Republicans in Congress right now.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence, you're right on the mark, and welcome back.
MR. PAGE: (Inaudible.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We'll be right back with predictions. (Isolated laugh.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions: Kudlow.
MR. KUDLOW: It now appears, regrettably, that the Justice Department will not prosecute the board of directors of Enron Corporation, which I think are very culpable.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: Some sort of inspection regime will get underway in Iraq.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mm-hmm.
MR. BLANKLEY: Daschle failed to pass any homeland security bill out of the Senate. There will be three different votes, possibly, and then we'll get 50 percent. As a result, that will become a moderate issue during the remaining election season.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.
MR. PAGE: The Security Council and the U.N., after all the gnashing of teeth, will cave and support Bush, much like Congress has.
MR. KUDLOW: Yes.
MR. PAGE: What does that mean?
MR. KUDLOW: What does that mean? He's got carte blanche is what that means. (Laughs.) They're going to buy off the French, the Russians, the Germans, because (of various things ?) -- and Chinese -- for things they want --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think he's going to put up -- (inaudible) -- will there be a consortium?
MR. KUDLOW: I think there will be. And I think, John, you got to remember --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. You want my prediction, or you want to hear what you have to say?
MR. : -- Truman and Reagan --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You want to hear what he has to say?
I predict that there will be no war.
Next week the Group makes its Senate predictions.