THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP
HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN
JOINED BY: TONY BLANKLEY, PATRICK BUCHANAN, JAMES CARNEY AND ELEANOR CLIFT
TAPED: FRIDAY, DECEMBER 6, 2002
BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF DECEMBER 7-8, 2002
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THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: O'Neill's long day's journey into night.
Paul O'Neill resigned as the secretary of Treasury on Friday, the first major Bush Cabinet casualty. This leave-taking in medias res was stated in a letter to the president. Quote, "I hereby resign my position as secretary of the Treasury. It has been a privilege to serve the nation during these challenging times. I thank you for that opportunity. I wish you every success as you provide leadership and inspiration for America and the world," unquote.
This remarkably terse letter is dated December 6th, Friday. Note that there is no effective date of the resignation.
The secretary was told that he should step down on Thursday night, in a phone call from the vice president, which came without warning.
Question: It's axiomatic that presidents should ease their Cabinet members in and, more importantly, ease their Cabinet members out. Why was this sacking of this secretary so brutally executed, Pat Buchanan?
MR. BUCHANAN: John, they sort of had to do it. If you had both of them leaving the same day, it cannot be a coincidence that they both resigned. It was done brutally --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is -- ?
MR. BUCHANAN: This is O'Neill and Lawrence Lindsey, the chief economic advisor.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.
MR. BUCHANAN: This is Breaker Morant and the sergeant, frankly, "Scapegoats of the Empire," taking the bullet for the empire, John. (Laughter.)
They had to go, really. The president has to change horses. He needs a new economic program, new economic men. It was done a little bit too brutally, but it had to be done. And my guess is, they knew it was coming.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, can you add to this?
MS. CLIFT: Well, O'Neill and Lindsey had a date with the executioner for some time. Maybe they didn't know it, but just about everybody else in Washington did.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, O'Neill's fortunes seemed to have turned.
MS. CLIFT: Well --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They seemed to have turned.
MS. CLIFT: Well, people would say the president really likes him and the fact that he annoyed the press really didn't bother President Bush. But they couldn't do this before the election, because it would have been an admission that their economic policy has been a failure.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Not necessarily. The recovery time would have been there. They should have done it during August.
MS. CLIFT: No, no. You don't do anything before the election. The focus was on Iraq, Iraq, Iraq. But for the next two years, we're going to think about some other things: high unemployment --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There's something else at play here.
MS. CLIFT: And they needed people in who can go on television shows and defend this administration.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There's -- okay. And you mean that O'Neill is concerned about the cost of the war, as Lindsey is, saying $100 billion to $200 billion. Is that what you mean?
MS. CLIFT: Well, they were not on board in terms of policy. O'Neill had talked about not making the tax cut permanent.
MR. BLANKLEY: Look --
MS. CLIFT: And Lindsey had put a $200 billion price tag on the Iraq war. But more important, they were not good cheerleaders and salesmen. You never saw them on the Sunday shows.
MR. BLANKLEY: Couple of things. O'Neill --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you hiccuping over there or what?
MR. BLANKLEY: No, I don't think so. I mean --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You can't get in on Eleanor. You know that. (Laughter.)
Can you tell us about this financial interview -- Financial Times interview that O'Neill gave on November 26th and what he said?
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, he --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He said what?
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, he's been talking about -- he's not in favor of tax cuts at a time when the administration is gearing up for a big series of tax cuts.
I want to go to a couple other points. First of all, neither of them can perform in the media. Second, I thought it was interesting that Friday morning, when the bad unemployment numbers came out and the stock market dropped, as soon as the White House announced the resignation of the secretary of Treasury, the market went up 100 points. So this actually, in a bizarre way, covered a bad economic news story.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What did it close at?
MR. CARNEY: Twenty-two points up.
MR. BLANKLEY: A few points up.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Twenty-two points. You call that a stock market rally?
MR. BLANKLEY: One hundred points up? Yeah, I would say call it a stock market rally, after the firing, when it dropped down on the basis of a 6 percent unemployment. But more importantly, I mean, I've been calling on this show, as a lot of people have for over a year, for O'Neill --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So brutally -- he's just brutally executed?
MR. BLANKLEY: He's a loose cannon. He's been a loose cannon from the beginning, and the danger of loose cannons is they break walls underneath the water level.
They couldn't have fired him much before, because they need to have a Republican Senate to not have a difficult confirmation hearing --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There may have been some political gaucheries on his part, but the fact of the matter is that the smartest man in the Cabinet and the classiest guy in the cabinet was Paul O'Neill. Am I right or wrong?
MR. CARNEY: Well, he was smart and classy, but he was totally ill-fit for the job. But the key to this situation is that O'Neill and Lindsey shared one thing in common, and that is that they were not totally team players. O'Neill spoke his mind, and the press liked that, but this White House in particular hated that. Larry Lindsey did the same thing. He likes to give attention to his own ideas and attention to himself, another no-no in this White House.
These firings were not about -- this was not an admission by any means, of course, by the Bush administration that their economic plan, which O'Neill and Lindsey had helped devise, was a failure. It was a firing -- a personal firing -- for people who weren't team players.
MS. CLIFT: Well --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, so the president wants yes men around him. Is that what you're saying?
MR. CARNEY: I think he wants people like, for example, his vice president, who work diligently in the background, and don't try to accrue attention to themselves.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who is the only non-yes-man left of this kind of inner golden circle rank?
MS. CLIFT: Colin Powell.
MR. CARNEY: Colin Powell's not going anywhere --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And he's an untouchable, is he not?
MR. CARNEY: Yes, he's an untouchable because he has a set political base --
MR. BLANKLEY: Wait, I want to go back on the --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, but there may be something else a work.
I'll be with you in a minute. Just take a look at these sacking factors which may be at play here.
Unemployment rate crept up to 6 percent on Friday, the very day, by the way, he was called upon to step down -- the highest in 9 years. Recession-hitter O'Neill's third month on the job, the federal budget showed the first deficits since 1997, and the upcoming projected deficit figures are horrendous. Corporate scandals dominate, and the stock market plunged.
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is there any policy thing that was --
MR. BLANKLEY: No, no --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It almost sounds like there was a big fight going on in the White House.
MR. BLANKLEY: Having said a lot of negative things about O'Neill, he wasn't responsible for any of those factors.
MS. CLIFT: Right. He was not a player --
MR. BLANKLEY: Let me just finish. Talking about yes-men. A yes-man isn't somebody who goes out and speaks on behalf of the administration. It's a question of what you do internally. And a lot of the president's cabinet are not yes-men, but when you get out, when the policy is made by the president, you're supposed to go out and defend that policy, and that's what O'Neill didn't do.
MR. BUCHANAN: Folks, let's just look into the future. Remember in 1970, in the Nixon White -- Dave Kennedy did a good job as Treasury secretary. But the economy wasn't looking good. You go out, you make the big play, you bring in John Connolly, you change direction. The president -- Tony's right -- has got a big tax cut package coming, and you need a salesman, you need someone who can go on -- (inaudible) -- and do the job.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Kennedy did not -- he did not exhibit the kind of a political tin ear that the secretary of Treasury --
MR. BUCHANAN: But he couldn't do the job.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is what the --
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute, Eleanor. This is what the Financial Times says: "Outspoken O'Neill often contradicted the White House line, hinting to the Financial Times in November that he was thinking of raising taxes, and that any future stimulus would be `minimally controversial and not very costly,' rather than a tax cut."
You can't oppose this president.
MR. BUCHANAN: He's off the reservation --
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but sometimes --
MR. BUCHANAN: Look, he's an independent operator, he goes down says, look, why give Argentina the money, it will wind up in a Swiss bank.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but sometimes he would say things in support of the president and sometimes in opposition. But what Wall Street knew and what the political insiders knew was that his words were irrelevant; he was not a player. But this summary firing gives the implication that somehow he and Lindsey had done something wrong, and you get rid of them, and now we're on a new path. And that's a very smart political move.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think so?
MS. CLIFT: I do, yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to ask you something. I want to know whether the severity of his political flubs are really that important. Here are three. Spring, 2001, market has the worst decline in 11 years. O'Neill says, "Markets go up, markets go down." (Laughter.)
MR. CARNEY: Quoting Bob Rubin.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: On Enron -- on Enron he says, "Companies come and companies go. It's the genius of capitalism." (Laughter.)
On the GOP economic stimulus package, quote, unquote, "It's show business."
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)
MR. CARNEY: Well look, he was very honest. He was very honest. But the problem -- you know --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Don't we need that in a government?
MR. CARNEY: We do. But George W. Bush --
MR. BLANKLEY: Not in a secretary of Treasury we don't!
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)
MR. CARNEY: -- George W. Bush chose O'Neill in part because he shared O'Neill's disdain for Wall Street. Bush never liked what he called "Wall Street sharpies." They came in and out of Midland, Texas, when he was an oilman. He didn't like them. But he realized -- he's realized, after this incredible plunge in the stock market, that he needs somebody at Treasury who can speak to the market and help calm them.
MR. BUCHANAN: But you know who's got a point --
MR. CARNEY: The markets are too integrated in the economy now. It's not all about producers --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're absolutely right. And I said that he needed an economic team, none of the ones he has around him were that good, and he needs that support. He also needs a plan. Does he have a plan? Other than cutting taxes?
MR. BUCHANAN: John? You know who's got the inside track?
MR. BLANKLEY: He's working on the plan. I think O'Neill and Lindsey were working on the plan, and that's one of the surprises.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, you know who's got the inside track, according to some people --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who? Who?
MR. BUCHANAN: -- is Don Evans, the Commerce secretary. Very close to the president. I'm not sure that would send the right message to the markets.
MS. CLIFT: He doesn't have -- he does not have the heft.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, what about -- Evans is very good --
MR. BUCHANAN: He's very good.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's got a good personality --
MR. BUCHANAN: I'm inclined to agree with Eleanor on this --
MS. CLIFT: He does not have the heft.
MR. BUCHANAN: -- but I hear he's got -- he may have -- he may have the inside track.
MS. CLIFT: But what he'll tell you --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What are you talking about here? What?
MR. BUCHANAN: I'm talking about the inside track, Don Evans --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, I understand that. But what's the problem?
MR. BUCHANAN: The problem is he's -- while he's a good friend of the president's, he does not send a message of great confidence, experience, weight, gravity to Wall Street.
MS. CLIFT: Right. If they put Evans --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about oil?
MR. BUCHANAN: Pardon?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about his oil connection?
MR. BUCHANAN: And the oil doesn't help.
MS. CLIFT: If they put Evans in there, it's a message that economic policy is going to be made by President Bush and Karl Rove. And I expect that's going to happen anyway.
MR. BLANKLEY: I think Phil Gramm would be a wonderful choice.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Phil Gramm has got a very cushy job.
MR. CARNEY: (Laughs.) Yeah!
MR. BLANKLEY: I know he's got a cushy job, but --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit. Are we sorry to see O'Neill and Lindsey go? Yes or no.
MR. BUCHANAN: It was a necessary hit.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: I'm going to miss him because I like the way -- (laughter) -- I like the way he stuck it to the president every now and then! But I don't think he served the country well as its Treasury secretary.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Remember what we do for a living here. (Laughter.)
MR. CARNEY: Yeah, right!
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me ask you again. Are we sorry to see him go? Yes or no.
MR. BLANKLEY: No, we're not sorry to see him go. He served the president well by leaving.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you say?
MR. CARNEY: I'm sorry to see them both go, for the same reasons. We need people who talk to the media in this administration. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well stated. And in addition to that, I'm sorry to see him go, because of his candor --
MR. BUCHANAN: He's a nice guy.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And he's a really classy guy, and it's refreshing to have him around. And what's wrong with a dissonant chord every now and then?
MR. CARNEY: Hear, hear.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: On the other -- and then if he got somebody else in there, like Evans -- he could probably do the job -- in a related capacity, maybe Lindsey's job --
MR. CARNEY: No.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- there would be the good front man.
MR. CARNEY: No.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: When we come back: Clinton takes on the conservative media -- you!
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two: Democrats attack.
Former president Bill Clinton took to the podium in New York this week, addressing his party for the first time since the disastrous midterm election. In a speech to the centrist Democratic Leadership Council -- the DLC, a group Clinton helped found -- the former president had this to say about the Republican Party and its press.
FORMER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: (From videotape.) They have an increasingly right-wing and bellicose conservative press.
And we have an increasingly docile establishment press.
We also saw our people attacked by extreme right-wing elements in the media without any penalty at all. We saw Senator Daschle demonized after he strongly supported the president in Iraq because he asked a question about the strategy.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clinton was echoing a charge made earlier by the now former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle.
SENATOR TOM DASCHLE (D-SD): (From videotape.) But what happens when Rush Limbaugh attacks those of us in public life is that people aren't satisfied just to listen. They want to act, because they get emotionally invested. And so, you know, the threats to those of us in public life go up dramatically, and -- on our families and on us, in a way that's very disconcerting.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And former vice president Al Gore this week added his outrage. Quote, "The media is kind of weird these days on politics, and there are some major institutional voices that are, truthfully speaking, part and parcel of the Republican Party. Fox News Network, the Washington Times, Rush Limbaugh. There's a bunch of them. Most of the media has been slow to recognize the pervasive impact of this fifth column in their ranks."
Question: Is there a strategic rationale for these Democratic attacks on the conservative media, seemingly coordinated ones?
(To Mr. Blankley.) You're part of that bunch.
MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're part of that bunch. What do you have to say, Washington Times?
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, I'm not a fifth columnist, I'm a 105th columnist.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)
MR. BLANKLEY: But look, this is silly. It's sort of one-half whining and one-half strategy. They tried this in the mid-90s when they put out a big white paper trying to explain this vast right-wing conspiracy. It's not going to work this time. It didn't work very well last time. It's laughable.
The vast majority of the media is conventional -- call it liberal; I would. Others would not. But it's certainly not conservative. You've got a few newspapers and a few cable shows that are moderately conservative. I think that it's pathetic that they're trying to blame --
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MR. BLANKLEY: As pervasive as our papers may be, there are so many others that are not. The New York Times --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You might -- he might be making you more pervasive.
MR. CARNEY: Yeah.
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, I appreciate his -- (laughter) --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I got a question for you, and the question is, what about this? What's the audience that you think Clinton and Gore are trying to energize -- and even Daschle?
MR. CARNEY: Well, I --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Isn't it the liberal base?
MR. CARNEY: Well, I think they're trying to energize the liberal base, say, "We're being attacked. Come to our defense." I think they're aiming it at the mainstream media, to try to get them to be a little more critical -- either the media critics, of Fox News and the Washington Times, or political reporters to be a little sharper in their criticism of Republicans.
But I have to agree with Tony. It is -- it's abject whining in the face of defeat. Fox News is a conservative network, but it is not responsible for the Democrats' losing in the midterms.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, let me -- look, what they're up to, though -- you're exactly right. Clinton is trying to goose the big media -- the New York Times, Washington Post, Time, Newsweek, the three networks --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And the anchors! And the anchors!
MR. BUCHANAN: -- "Go after these little guys. Get out there."
MS. CLIFT: Oh, come on. (Chuckles.)
MR. BUCHANAN: -- "Start beating up these little guys. They're giving us a hard time. You guys aren't defending us the way you used to do."
MS. CLIFT: (Chuckles.) Yeah, you know --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who is he really appealing to on the anchor level?
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, you've got Jennings, Brokaw, Rather, the big guys --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean they're all libs?
MR. BUCHANAN: They tend to be liberal, John. If you haven't noticed that --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?
MR. BLANKLEY: This is shocking. I know. (Laughter.)
MS. CLIFT: Look, whining is never attractive, even if you happen to be right. And I don't think you can deny that there is an apparatus on the right wing side --
MR. BLANKLEY: An apparatus?
(Cross talk, laughter.)
MS. CLIFT: -- excuse me -- yes, that goes from the Wall Street Journal to the talk radio to some of the cable.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Inaudible.)
MS. CLIFT: And I think the conservatives have done a very good job of taking over sort of the people's media.
MR. BUCHANAN: You know, but CNN --
MS. CLIFT: Let me finish, please.
MR. BUCHANAN: CNN is --
MS. CLIFT: And let me finish, please.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let her finish, Pat.
MS. CLIFT: But you could have -- the elite media probably is more comfortable with the liberal point of view. But in terms of reaching people who vote, I think the right wing has the outlets that people listen to: Bill O'Reilly --
MR. BUCHANAN: The audience of the -- for the networks is enormous.
MR. BLANKLEY: We happen to have a message that appeals to the public, which is why talk radio is overwhelmingly conservative, because it's judged based on how many people tune in.
MS. CLIFT: Well, I don't know that --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to whether this is --
MS. CLIFT: I think the Democrats need to get a message that is, at bottom --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it good politics or bad politics, Jay?
MR. CARNEY: I think whenever you're whining and complaining, it's bad politics. I think it makes you look defensive, and you're trying to blame somebody else for your problems.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. That leads to the exit question. On a whining-about-the-press scale from zero to 10, zero meaning no whining whatsoever, stiff upper lip, and 10 meaning gale-force whining, a deafening sound, like an onrushing hurricane, how severe was the Democratic whining about the conservative press that these three leaders of the party have stated?
MR. BUCHANAN: What was this -- it's -- the Brits call it whingeing, I think, Tony. I'm not sure, but --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you give it, on a --
MR. BUCHANAN: It's about a seven and a half or an eight. It was appalling.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It was appalling.
MS. CLIFT: No, it's only a four or a five. Until the liberals get institutions -- media watch institutions like the right has to spy on the right and report everything they say, the liberals are far behind in this thing.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Don't forget to calculate in Daschle's statement that Limbaugh may be trying to -- may be causing threats.
MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah. Well, first of all, it's not Clinton's lip that he's keeping stiff. But Daschle has certainly been, I think, ridiculous. He wouldn't itemize any particular charges. Everybody in public life gets threats against them. And it was a ploy for him to accuse Limbaugh of that when there's no evidence of it. Limbaugh has never, never called for anybody -- he doesn't even ask people to make phone calls to Congress.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What does he call Daschle on air?
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, he -- what does Limbaugh call Daschle?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. He calls him "El Diablo."
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughing.) "El Diablo!"
MR. CARNEY: "Puff Daschle."
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What?
MR. CARNEY: "Puff Daschle."
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, that's -- go ahead. What do you think? What do you think?
MR. CARNEY: Well, the whining was excessive. Six, probably. You know, there is, I have to say, a little bit of, you know, cynicism here, because had, as Roger Ailes, the head of Fox News Network, had, say, Rick Kaplan, when he was head of CNN, written a memo advising Bill Clinton on how to conduct his presidency after a crisis, the conservative media would have been in an uproar, pointing out that abject example of, you know, liberal media establishmentarianism. Now, when it happened to Roger Ailes there was --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, we've got to get out.
MR. CARNEY: -- obviously it did not get that --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: On a whining scale it's about, I'd say, a six. On an effectiveness scale, I'd say it's about a two.
MR. BUCHANAN: It's not effective.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Even with his base. Okay.
MR. BUCHANAN: Kaplan used to sleep in the White House.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue three: Rate Blix's progress.
How is Blix's progress perceived by Kofi Annan? Answer: generally optimistic.
KOFI ANNAN (secretary-general, United Nations): (From videotape.) It's only been a week, and obviously the cooperation seems to be good, but this is not a one-week wonder.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How is Blix's week perceived by George Bush? Answer: generally pessimistic.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: (From videotape.) So far, the signs are not encouraging.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Who's right, Eleanor Clift, Annan or Bush?
MS. CLIFT: Oh, I'll go with Kofi Annan. Why is the president preemptively sabotaging the diplomatic mission that he supposedly supports? Either he wants to give credibility to the inspectors and say, you know, if the U.S. hates them, they must be doing something right. Or, you've got the hard-liners in the administration basically setting the stage to declare these inspections a hoax. And I fear it's the latter.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, what do you think?
MR. BUCHANAN: I think Saddam is winning the propaganda war right now.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know how he's doing it?
MR. BUCHANAN: He's not doing the "mother of all battles" routine. He's doing -- he's being very open and he's got hard-liners saying --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He says be cooperative, and he sends his vice president out there to say the opposite.
MR. BUCHANAN: He has.
And the president, I think, is in part pointing to the attacks in the no-fly zone on American planes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right. He's using the good cop/bad cop routine. I think it may be -- I think Pat's right, it could be working.
MR. CARNEY: I think the White House is worried about Saddam's capacity to win over public opinion. Most of the international community would like this problem to go away. The White House has been saying all along that inspections are not the issue; disarmament is the issue. And they're fearful that with the inspectors in place and Saddam appearing cooperative, that any will in the coalition of the willing to go to use force will diminish. So they're hammering the transgressions, the no-fly zone transgressions, because in the end they don't believe Saddam will cooperate and that military force will be necessary.
MR. BLANKLEY: Kofi Annan's customers are third-world dictators, and he's speaking to that audience when he says everything's going fine. Obviously, the president is right and we should nix Blix.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about trying to placate the hard-liners in the administration? Is there any number, any volume of inspections that will do that for the Rumsfeld hard-liners?
MR. BUCHANAN: No, Rumsfeld/Wolfowitz want war, and they want to go to war. But I'll tell you what --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will they go -- wait a minute -- would he go to the point of pretext for war, as happened, to some extent, in Vietnam?
MR. BUCHANAN: No.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you remember that? The Gulf of Tonkin?
MR. BUCHANAN: The real question is whether the president of the United States, under any and all circumstances, is going to go to war. Or is there something Saddam and Iraq can do that will prevent a war? But, listen, this propaganda is playing with the Europeans, as well as the --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, big time.
MR. BUCHANAN: -- when you say international community, and it is pretty much everybody except for our tightest allies.
MS. CLIFT: And an Iraq invasion is only going to be successful if it's the world against Iraq, not if the world is against the U.S.
(Cross talk.) (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Here's a question. Quickly. Are the inspections a side show? Is the real action in the 13,000-page declaration, due out Sunday, and probably not digestible for at least a week? I ask you, Pat Buchanan. What do you think? Is there a casus belli that Bush will declare by reason of what he says is Iraqi lying, and could he take some action after this?
MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah, Wolfowitz has already said this will not be the casus belli. Saddam Hussein wants to get into February and into March, that's why this overriding and dumping all this stuff in there.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why does he want February or March?
MR. BUCHANAN: Because he doesn't think the Americans are going to attack if he can get through to them.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We're very late. One more --
MS. CLIFT: Thirteen-thousand pages; there's going to be lots of ambivalence; it's not going to be a pretext for war, I don't think.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?
MR. BLANKLEY: It is -- they're going to find that there's some material breach, and it will be the beginning of the diplomatic effort that will lead to a war probably in January.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?
MR. CARNEY: Tony's right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony's right? I think that it's too close to tell. (Laughter.)
We'll be right back with predictions.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions, Pat, you have five.
MR. BUCHANAN: There are reports of a major scandal involving Saudi gifts to American political figures of the last 25 years.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wow. Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: Bush will never criticize by name Falwell, Robertson and Franklin Graham for the hateful things they've said about Muslims; and he should.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?
MR. BLANKLEY: After French shrugging of their shoulders and preening and posturing, they will support the president in the United Nations.
MR. CARNEY: And then there were four. You've got O'Neill gone, Lindsey gone, no SEC chairman, and I think Glenn Hubbard will be gone by January, the chairman of the economic advisors.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In his State of the Union address, the president will call on Congress to ban partial birth abortions.
Next week, President-elect Lula da Silva, one of your pals, Pat, maybe -- (laughter) -- a socialist and beyond, visits Washington, meets with Bush, who is far from that.
END OF REGULAR SEGMENT PBS SEGMENT FOLLOWS
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue four: The grass ceiling. "Women are mad about this. It reminds them of the pay gap. It reminds them of the glass ceiling. It reminds them of all the ways they're still second class in this society."
That's Martha Burke, the president of the National Council of Women's Organizations. Why is she so teed off? Here's why. The Augusta, Georgia, National Golf Club prohibits female members, and Augusta is the host of the 67-year-old Masters Golf Tournament. The Augusta chairman is William -- nicknamed "Hootie" -- Johnson. He says private organizations funded by private money can pick and choose their members as they wish.
WILLIAM "HOOTIE" JOHNSON (chairman, Augusta National Golf Club: At its heart, Augusta National is simply a club where friends gather to play golf and socialize. Our membership is single-gender, just as many other organizations and clubs all across America.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Is this anything -- is this issue anything to be teed up about?
I ask you, Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: Look, it's not a bread-and-butter issue. You're not going to have women going to the barricades for the rights of wealthy women who can afford to belong to this club and who play golf.
Nonetheless, and the fact that the LPGA, the women's tour, has not made an issue over it, I think also prevents it from really catching on.
But this barrier is going to fall, John. This is an ancient barrier. And meantime, we should enjoy a commercial-free Masters because of -- (inaudible) -- gotten so far.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If you boil what she said down, this is a non- issue, except for a narrow social set.
MR. BUCHANAN: You're wrong, completely wrong. This has become a real battle in the cultural war, John. And one reason is the New York Times has run over 30 stories on this -- editorials. It's been spiking its columnists that disagree with its editorials. Howell Raines, the editor of the New York Times, is in a show-down match with Hootie Johnson, and he's trying to break Augusta and break Johnson using his media power, and it really is -- it's becoming as hot as it can be; it's going to get hotter.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hootie was in that fight that we saw earlier, that sound bite in the set-up.
Okay, to your point: The New York Times joins in. Notably, the New York Times, which is urging golf champion Tiger Woods not to play Augusta: "A tournament without Mr. Woods would send a powerful message that discrimination isn't good for the golfing business," unquote.
The Times feels so strongly about this point of view that it censors its own columnists who disagree with its editorials, like Dave Anderson, who wrote in his columns, spiked by the Times, that Tiger Woods should play Augusta, because the fight over women members is not Woods' fight. And Harvey Araton got the spike when he compared Augusta's ban to the Olympics purging of women's softball. Times managing editor Gerald Boyd said Araton's column quote, unquote, "did not meet our standard."
Why is there such thin skin at the Times, to the point where they will spike their own columnists?
MR. CARNEY: You've got me, John. I think it's the most ridiculous internal battle I've ever seen in the media. I mean, it's -- the columns should be written and published. Disagreements between columnists are common and welcome in newspapers, and I think it reflects badly on the leadership of the New York Times.
MR. BLANKLEY: I mean, even the generally liberal reporters there are in an uproar, from what I hear. It's really bad editing on the part of Mr. Raines to do this to his own esteemed newspaper.
I was going to say that Hootie Johnson is one of the most courageous men to have gone out -- we editorialize on his behalf -- to have gone out and make a stand in the face of all the kind of attacks he was expecting and that he's gotten.
MS. CLIFT: Well -- Hootie is not a hero.
MR. BLANKLEY: He is hero.
MS. CLIFT: Oh, come on!