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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP

HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN

JOINED BY: TONY BLANKLEY, PATRICK BUCHANAN, ELEANOR CLIFT AND MORTIMER ZUCKERMAN

TAPED: FRIDAY, DECEMBER 13, 2002
BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF DECEMBER 14-15, 2002


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THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.
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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: A Lott of Trouble.

SEN. TRENT LOTT (R-MS, incoming Senate majority leader): (From videotape.) I've asked and I'm asking for forbearance and forgiveness as I continue to learn from my own mistakes and as I continue to grow and get older. But as you get older, you hopefully grow in your views and your acceptance of everybody, both as a person and certainly as a leader.

With regard to my remarks about Strom Thurmond, Senator Thurmond is a friend, he's a colleague and, if no other reason because he's 100 years old and still a member of the Senate, he's legendary. But he came to understand the evil of segregation and the wrongness of his own views. And to his credit, he said as much himself.

Last week, I was privileged to join hundreds of others to honor him. It was a lighthearted affair, but my choice of words were totally unacceptable and insensitive, and I apologize for that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Will this work, or will more expiation be needed, meaning he will have to resign, Pat Buchanan?

MR. BUCHANAN: I think Trent Lott has probably, with this, fully expiated a sin he did not commit, John. There was no hatred and malice in what he said. There was no hatred or malice behind it. It was a gracious gesture to an old man, 100 years old.

The hatred is directed at Mr. Lott, in the most vicious attack I've seen in this city in my life, for absolutely nothing at all.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: Keeping Trent Lott in place is tantamount to raising the Confederate flag over the U.S. Capitol. He has now become the symbol of the racist past of this country and the hypocrisy of the Republican Party. And if the Republicans were smart, they would force him out, but they may be just arrogant enough to think they can keep him in.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't believe it's in the Democrats' interest to let Lott depart? They want to see him standing. He's like a bull having been attacked by the picadors. They want him bleeding but standing in place. True?

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, yeah, obviously. Look, politics is not a very sentimental business, and it probably shouldn't be. The fact is that his statements, whether fairly or unfairly interpreted, whether reasonably or unreasonably interpreted, have been interpreted by millions in the way that Eleanor has described. Lott has to decide and the Republican senators have to decide whether he can be an effective leader under those circumstances.

I worked for a guy, Newt Gingrich, I admire vastly, who got to a point in his career where he understood that he could no longer lead the House, and he resigned. It's a terribly difficult decision. It's unfair, but life isn't fair. And I think that over the next several days, depending on what else comes out, the Republicans and Lott will have to make a very hard decision, calculated objectively, not sentimentally, not based on fairness.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think a dominant number of the GOP in the Congress want to see him go?

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, I think a majority -- I suspect a majority of Republicans think that he now is damaged and probably can't recover from that. Whether they think he's damaged so much that his other good virtues are offset by it, I'm not sure what the numbers would be.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The president involved himself in an extraordinary way, in a speech that he gave on Thursday in Philadelphia. This is what he said: "Recent comments by Senator Lott" -- naming him, by name -- "do not reflect the spirit of our country. He has apologized, and rightly so. Every day our nation was segregated was a day that America was unfaithful to our founding ideals."

Do you think this in any sense is a contrivance of the White House to get rid of Lott and to replace him, say, with Bill Frist? Do you think they wanted him out?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: You know, I think you underestimate the president in this regard. I mean, I think he's actually quite genuine about this. I think he is somebody who really feels very strongly about fairness, equity, equality and certainly is opposed to anything that smacks of sort of the bad old days. And I think the unfortunate part about what Senator Lott said, whether it was out of a lack of knowledge, or a lack of thinking or something is that it's not as if he disagreed about affirmative action or welfare or anything, he went right back to the worst of the days of segregation. The president, I think, actually spoke not just out of political needs, but out of his own genuine convictions.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, do you --

MS. CLIFT: I think --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: And I think that's a very important thing to keep in mind there.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I have a question to you. Do you not think that in Trent Lott's emphasis on the reform that took place in the life of Strom Thurmond, that he was saying in effect, I didn't even think of his segregation stance because he moved so far away from it. He welcomed the blacks into his political life and he became friends with a lot of blacks. Is it possible that it was an innocent --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: You know, I think anything is possible. But I have to say that the fact is that that particular candidacy of that senator at that time as the epitome of the Dixiecrat Party, what it really stood for at last was racial segregation.

MR. BUCHANAN: John --

MS. CLIFT: This is not --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: It's very difficult to separate that out from anything else --

MS. CLIFT: This is not about Strom Thurmond. He has repudiated his own past with a variety of votes. He supported the extension of the Voting Rights Act, he supported Martin Luther King Day holiday, and Trent Lott didn't. And keeping Trent Lott in place makes all the other Republicans who voted against those bills now have to defend them in the current atmosphere as racist measures.

MR. BUCHANAN: John --

MS. CLIFT: And what this does is single-handedly undo a lot of the work the Republican Party has done to expand the tent to African Americans. And it's about, also, white suburban women who don't want to be associated with a party that is -- that looks racist. And so there's a lot politically at stake here for Republicans -- (pause) -- and for the Democrats.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, okay. All right -- wait a minute, Pat. For those who turned in late to the issue, not this issue here, but the whole issue, this is what Lott exactly said.

"I want to say this about my state. When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either."

So he's tying it right back to nineteen hundred and what --

MR. BUCHANAN: John --

ALL (in unison): Forty-eight.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Forty-eight.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- forty-eight. And the Dixiecrats are a states' rights party. So he seems to be saying at the time he ran for president.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, if you think that Trent Lott got up there and said, "Let's -- I'm going to say the old segregationist was right," that is preposterous! You are imputing a thought to Trent Lott he did not have. The president of the United States was wrong; he behaved as a country club Republican. He not only cut Trent loose by name -- it's right to pull himself away, but he should have said, "Segregation was wrong. Senator Lott agrees with that. They misinterpreted his remark; he's a good man, we all know it." But I think, John, that Ronald Reagan would not have done what George Bush did to Trent Lott, and I think it was wrong.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you know any precedent for that, where a man's name would be mentioned by the president in terms of such stunning criticism?

MR. BUCHANAN: The president of the United States, his leader who has supported him up and down the line, to not only cut him loose but to cut him loose --

MS. CLIFT: Oh, come on.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you defend -- do you defend Bush for mentioning Lott by name?

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah. I think President Bush made exactly the right statement. And I agree with Mort that it was a sincere expression on his part. It's also something that needed to be said by the leading Republican. And in fact, Lott subsequently has agreed with the president's statement. He said the president was right to say what he said.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But the real reason you take that position is you think that the GOP, especially conservatives, would be better off without him. Don't you really believe that?

MR. BLANKLEY: I think that the Republicans have spent 50 years purging their image of an old partial truth, and it's no longer true, but the image persists. And this is going to sit there and it's going to affect Republican image, and I think it would be a travesty of justice.

MS. CLIFT: I would -- I would --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. What is the reality here? Is Lott being libeled?

MS. CLIFT: No.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is he a racist? I want --

MR. BLANKLEY: I know him quite well. Of course he's not. The problem is, in politics, image is part of reality. And the image that has been projected unfairly nonetheless is going to persist in the minds of millions of Americans.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But what is behind what he said?

MS. CLIFT: I think it's a sentiment that probably agreed with a lot of that earlier platform. He has said --

MR. BUCHANAN: You think he deliberately said "I believe in segregation"?

MS. CLIFT: Excuse me. He has said that.

MR. BUCHANAN: That would have been the --

MS. CLIFT: Wait.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- stupidest thing even if he believed in it!

MS. CLIFT: He has said that, but --

MR. BUCHANAN: No, he didn't.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. Was he stupid to have said --

MS. CLIFT: The Republican Party -- modern Republican Party in the South is built on a legacy of racism that goes back to Richard Nixon's -- (inaudible) -- that it is a white party in the South. And there's a lot of --

MR. BUCHANAN: Al Gore's father voted again the Civil Rights Act.

MS. CLIFT: There is a lot of code language that goes on. And he stepped out --

(Cross-talk).

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, let them in. You said some shocking things, Eleanor. Let them in.

MR. BUCHANAN: Let me tell you something. The people who play the race card, and who are playing it this time, are Al Gore and John Kerry and the Black Caucus. They know very well this man did not endorse segregation. They hammer it and hammer it because it invites the black --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about --

MS. CLIFT: He --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute. Let Pat finish. What about Gore?

MR. BUCHANAN: Gore's father voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964, along with Strom, and I would not have denounced his father for having done that.

MS. CLIFT: Nobody's denouncing --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is what Al Gore said: "I think it's a racist statement" on the part of Lott, "clearly a racist sentiment. And I think it is part of a -- a political strategy that's been used for quite some time." Is that race baiting?

MR. BUCHANAN: It's not only race baiting, it's a lie.

MS. CLIFT: Truth telling. Truth telling.;

(Cross-talk.)

MR. BLANKLEY: (Inaudible) -- to be outrageous. That is a cynical playing and trying to manipulate the public into thinking no one is sending any signals, and Al Gore should be ashamed of himself.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the smartest thing the Democrats could do now?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think the smartest thing the Democrats could do is, if they're going to address this issue, they have to deal with it in much better terms than what Al Gore did.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: (They might suggest ?) -- that that overstates what the issue is.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, you're close to the mark, but you're not on the mark, Mort.

MR. BLANKLEY: But he's working toward it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And I know that you're weakened because of the stress of flying in in bad weather in the (Hawker ?).

Now, the smartest thing the Democrats could do is throw Lott a lifeline, because he's in there and he is bloodied, but he's still standing. He's like the bull with the picador, as I said. But my concern about that, is there any diminution in the power of the Congress? And is it a larger issue?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Look, look --

(Cross talk.)

MR. BUCHANAN: You're exactly right, John. He is deeply wounded by this. He's deeply wounded by this.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Lott is --

MR. BUCHANAN: And the cynical strategy -- best strategy of the Democrats would be to pull back and say, "We accept, finally, his apology" --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, Jim Jeffords has put out a long statement saying that he has known Lott for years and he's a man of conscience.

MS. CLIFT: Right. The Democrats should stay on the sidelines. This is a Republican problem. Let them clean it up.

And the president had it exactly right. What he did is he invited the Republicans on the Hill to cut him loose if they want. He opened the door, and that may still happen.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You have -- Eleanor, we commend you on your moral judgment, but this is politics.

MS. CLIFT: That was a political judgment, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The best thing they could do is keep Lott right there.

MS. CLIFT: That was a political judgment. Oh, for Democrats, yes, not for Republicans. (Chuckles.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: What's Lott's political sin? It's not racism. I think we agree on that. Is it stupidity? Or what is it?

MR. BUCHANAN: His sin is not being aware of how vicious and hateful this town can be, and you've got to watch every single word, because they will jump on you and kill you in a second if you are a Southern Christian conservative.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think, Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: This isn't about him being a Southern Christian conservative. It's about his ignorance of the country and the pain that people in this country suffered and the fact that a civil rights movement occurred. History caught up with him -- the country's history and his own.

MR. BLANKLEY: It's not a sin, it's a phenomena. And the phenomena is the negative image that he has projected.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: It's also -- I mean, he was blind to the history of the civil rights movement in a way that I think is too important for this country or for any leader to speak, however inadvertently, the way he did. That's a huge mistake for somebody who's, after all, going to be the leader of the Republicans in the Senate. It's a critical issue for this country, and nobody can play with it the wrong way, including inadvertently.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: These are all valid insights, but they're not the controlling one, which I will have to give you. Lott is a career politician, and it is the unfortunate tendency of the career politicians to say anything that will please an audience, whether it's sincere or not sincere at all. And that's Lott's problem. He just wanted to please that audience. He did it before, and he did it again. But I don't think he's a racist, and I don't think anyone here does.

Final question: Will he make it? Yes or no.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think he will make it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes or no?

MS. CLIFT: Over the weekend and into next week. Beyond that, I don't know.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What level can you give me? Can you me -- that's why I ask --

MS. CLIFT: I think he doesn't go into 2004. No.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?

MR. BLANKLEY: If he makes it to the holiday break, he probably is okay.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, do you think he will?

MR. BLANKLEY: I don't know.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think he will make it through the holiday break, but I don't think he's in good shape at all. And I think --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But he will -- but he's going to survive?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: He'll survive for a while. I think there will be a grace period, and then I think he's going to have to leave.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We have three saying yes -- myself included -- he will make it, and two wobblies.

When we come back: A stunning and unprecedented action by a former president against a sitting president.

(Announcements.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This apparently resignation atmosphere has had its impact. Henry Kissinger resigned from the president's 9/11 special blue-ribbon commission. "Dear Mr. President," he thanked him for the honor, and then he said, "To liquidate Kissinger Associates cannot be accomplished without significantly delaying the beginning of the joint commission's work. I have therefore concluded that I cannot accept the responsibility you've proposed." Then later, "The mission, in my opinion, is of such importance that it must begin without distraction and controversy so that it can be completed swiftly, solidly and credibly;" Henry Kissinger.

What do you think of that?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, I think it's sad, actually, because I think he would have served that particular position with great distinction and with great understanding. And I think it's unfortunate that somebody gets wrapped into this kind of controversy, which is, in my judgment, is basically irrelevant to the job that he has to do.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is sort of proof of what you were saying earlier, that this city is a killer city today.

MR. BUCHANAN: No kidding. When you got a former secretary of State as famous as Henry and George Mitchell, the majority leader, as agents of influence of foreign power, this country has got a far larger problem than the head of this commission.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is the problem?

MR. BUCHANAN: The problem is American foreign policy is for sale. Influence is for sale. Senators are for sale. Secretaries of State are for sale.

MR. BLANKLEY: Wait, wait, wait, wait. These men, both Mitchell and Kissinger, are private citizens, who -- this is a fiasco, though, that both the Republican and the Democratic selection for this committee have to withdraw, both being sophisticated enough to presumably understand the implications of their private-sector activities.

MS. CLIFT: Nobody asked Mr. Kissinger to liquidate his firm. They just asked him to make public his clients to be sure there was no conflict of interest.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The letter explains --

MS. CLIFT: Clearly, he has some foreign governments involved, and there are conflicts, and he didn't want to reveal that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You should read the letter please, Eleanor, because the letter explains the progression, the impossible dynamic that's built into what's going on now; and Henry sees it, and he knows he's in an impossible situation. You should, too!

MS. CLIFT: You're not going to get me to say, "Poor Henry!"

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Conscientious objector!

FORMER PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER: (From videotape.) For powerful countries to adopt a principle of preventative war may well set an example that can have catastrophic consequences.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Jimmy Carter took aim at the heart of Bush's national security strategy, the preemptive strike, this week in Oslo, where he was belatedly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in brokering the Camp David accords between Egypt and Israel nearly a quarter of a century ago. The former president described President Bush's new strategic preemptive strike doctrine, quoting approvingly the words of Ralph Bunche, the revered U.S. government official and U.N. diplomat, the first Black to be a division head in the Department of State and a Nobel Peace Prize winner himself.

FORMER PRESIDENT CARTER: (From videotape.) "To suggest that war can prevent war is a base play on words and a despicable form of war mongering. The world has had ample evidence that war begets only conditions that beget further war," unquote. We must remember that today there are at least eight nuclear nations on earth, and three of these are threatening to their own neighbors in areas of great international tension.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You have thoughts on this?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, I do. I mean, I must say to you I find his sermonizing on foreign policy to be slightly repellant to me. This is man who sent letters to every country in the Security Council in 1990 opposing the United States going to war against Saddam Hussein, back in 1990, 1991. He actually sent those letters, and sent a copy of the letter, he maintains, to the White House. That, to my mind, is not the role of an ex-president of the United States. Now, he is being a good ex-president, and a much better ex-president than he was a president. But his attitudes towards the defense of this country and the defense of our interests, in my judgment, is wrong-headed. It was --

(Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. You're not charging him with trying to score political points against Bush, are you?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, no. I'm not saying he's necessarily trying to do that. He has his own philosophy about these things. He was opposed to the Gulf War in 1990, as I said.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So was Buchanan.

(Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, let Buchanan speak to it.

MR. BUCHANAN: Let me say this. What I object to is, one, you can speak about preventive war. I think he's got a very good point there. He should not have said it in Norway.

Secondly, I mean --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why not? He had a global audience. He had a prestige platform.

MR. BUCHANAN: One, a president does not attack his own country's policies in a foreign country.

Secondly, his neopacifism is wrong. War won our country's independence.

MS. CLIFT: Jimmy Carter --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, from his point of view, it was the ideal platform.

Do you think he's right on the issue? Is he right on the issue?

MR. BUCHANAN: He's right, if you're going to adopt a sucker- punch strategy, don't announce it.

MS. CLIFT: Jimmy Carter is --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, but is he right on the merits of the issue of -- on preemptive strikes?

MR. BUCHANAN: Yes. On preventive war, he's right, I believe.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No he's not.

MR. BLANKLEY: No he's not.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: Jimmy Carter is bigger than this country. He's a global figure now. And he had every right to attack that policy --

MR. BUCHANAN: Bigger than the country? Bigger than the United States?

MS. CLIFT: Bigger than the United States.

MR. BLANKLEY: That explains a lot.

MS. CLIFT: He's a global figure and he's entitled to speak out when he's accepting a world peace prize --

MR. BUCHANAN: He's got a tin badge from Norway --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let her finish!!

Go ahead. Did you finish?

MS. CLIFT: I accept everything he said.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, now it's your turn. It's your turn.

MR. BLANKLEY: Look, while preemptive war as a theory is perceptible of danger, obviously, had France and England had a preemptive war against Hitler in '34, we would have saved 50 million lives. It's just idiotic to say categorically, as he does, that war solves nothing and that preemptive war is always wrong, categorically wrong.

MS. CLIFT: Well, he was -- first of all, he was quoting Ralph Bunche. Second of all --

(Cross talk.)

MS. CLIFT: Excuse me!

MR. BLANKLEY: So who cares who he's quoting?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on. Hold on.

What's your point about Ralph Bunche?

MS. CLIFT: I care who Ralph Bunche is. And he was quoting him. He was a legend. He has --

MR. BLANKLEY: No, he was embracing his idea.

MS. CLIFT: Well, but the point is --

MR. BLANKLEY: He was embracing his idea, so he has to stand by it.

MS. CLIFT: Excuse me. Excuse me! The point is --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: He wasn't quoting him because he disagrees with him!

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Shh! Let Eleanor finish!

MS. CLIFT: The point is, this country has always had a strategy of preemptive strikes, if it comes to that. It is best left unstated instead of swaggering it around the world.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay --

(Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can I move this forward?

Carter did more to criticize Bush than what you just saw. He specifically cited U.N. Resolution 242 as the single resolution whose implementation would do most to restore harmony in international relations. In short, he said, "Settling the Palestinian-Israel conflict would do more for peace than forcing Iraq to disarm."

This was a direct jab at Bush and probably Elliott Abrams, Bush's new coordinator for Middle East Affairs at the NSC, as though Condoleezza Rice needed any reinforcements.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Now, let me tell you, I believe the settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian issue is absolutely critical to world peace and would make a major contribution. The question is, how do we get from here to there? That's the big problem. How do we implement 242, which he refers to? That is the problem.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Carter went further. On Friday he said this, "The Bush White House is completely compatible with the Israeli government and has completely ignored the Palestinian Authority."

Carter said this on his way back to the U.S. from Norway.

MR. BUCHANAN: That's true.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He says, "Bush is the first American president to take sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Previous administrations played a balancing role."

You must be asking yourself, where is this administration right now in moving forward the peace process.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, I think the administration recognizes one thing. As long as you have the Palestinian Authority launching a continued campaign of terrorism, you're not going to make any progress on the peace process. And since Arafat has been at the center of that, this administration has said, "We're not going to deal with him anymore," and that's the only way to get --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But the administration --

MR. BUCHANAN: You know, John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But the administration doesn't deal with -- doesn't agree with you on it. The administration has said you must move forward to specify the nature of a Palestinian state.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No doubt.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But in other words, you can do -- notwithstanding the horrific nature of the suicide bombings, you've got to move the process forward. They seem to be absent from the proceedings.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Look -- look, Sharon has come out in favor of a Palestinian state, so that's not the issue. The issue is what kind of a state and how do you get --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I have a question on the major points --

MR. BUCHANAN: The president is AWOL on the Middle East.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I have a question on the major point. The president of Egypt has said, if you cut -- if you restore even coexistence between the Israelis and the Palestinians, you cut terrorism in half. And that's what he's saying here.

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MR. BUCHANAN: I think you'd cut terrorism three-fourths among the Palestinians and Israelis --

(Cross talk.)

MR. BLANKLEY: And if you can bell the cat, you can save the mice. The trouble is, how do you bell the cat?

MS. CLIFT: Well --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We'll be right back with predictions. (Laughter.)

(Announcements.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions, Pat?

MR. BUCHANAN: My prediction is they're going to have elections in Venezuela -- immediately.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: Republican senators are going to find it a lot harder to vote for some of these conservative judicial nominees because they have problematic civil rights pasts just like Trent Lott.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mmm -- excellent point!

What do you say?

MR. BLANKLEY: Next year, neither the Republican nor the Democratic Parties will introduce a tax cut big enough to deal with the weakness of the economy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think Lott should resign? Yes or no?

MR. BLANKLEY: It depends whether he -- (laughter) --

MS. CLIFT: That's a yes!

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's sidestepping again!

Go ahead.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, I think, I think the new -- (laughter) --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly!

MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- a new economic team is going to lead a $300 billion tax cut economic stimulus program, which will keep the economy going well into 2004, and that will really cement the reelection of George Bush.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And that means no change in policy, it means only a change in personnel. Bush will be the engine behind that.

I predict a new TV series premiering in January, "Mister Sterling," created by our own very Lawrence O'Donnell, will be a break-away hit of 2003.

Bye-bye.

PBS SEGMENT

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue three: Anti-American angst. There is a complete disconnect between the way we see ourselves in the world and the way they see us. So says Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

Her claim is backed up by a recent poll of unusual scope done by the Pew Research Center. Thirty-eight thousand people in 44 nations were polled. In almost three fourths of the countries polled on the question of American favorability or unfavorability, ratings dropped and sometimes plunged, due to America's policy on Iraq and Saddam Hussein. Britain dropped to an even split; majorities in France, Germany and Russia are opposed to forcefully removing Saddam. Majorities in France, Germany and Russia believe that the U.S. is driven to remove Hussein because the U.S. wants to control Iraqi oil. Many fear an Iraqi war would spark more terrorism, not less. Many Muslims oppose the war on terror itself. They see it as disproportionately focused on Islamic nations.

In many Muslim nations, the dislike of America is exceptionally intense. In Turkey, their 70 percent of negative feelings may have been the reason the government limited its permission to allow the U.S. to use Turkish bases to strike against Iraq: Only if the use of force is officially authorized by the U.N. Nuclearized Pakistan is even more worrisome. Only one in 10 have positive feelings for America. Even more shocking, one in three Pakistanis say that suicide bombings are justified in defense of Islam.

Question: What does this poll tell us about the effectiveness of Bush's public diplomacy with the Muslim world? Pat Buchanan?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, it's had zero positive effect. The image of the United States in the Islamic world is horrible, and it is dangerous when countries like Pakistan, especially, are very hostile to us; and the Turks, who have traditionally been favorable. John, there's no doubt about it that the Middle East and the Islamic world thinks the United States is going to attack Iraq as an imperial power, to either take it over or get its oil, and we have not persuaded them.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hey, Pat -- Pat, so what?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, I think it means an awful lot if there's an explosion and the Arab street this time performs, as it did not in 1991.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think if he was more successful in public opinion around the world, someone might have turned in the location of Osama bin Laden?

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

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't think so?

MR. BUCHANAN: No. Look, I think Osama bin Laden is a beloved figure with an awful lot of people who hate us, and they are now in the hundreds of millions.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think it behooves the president of the United States to win the hearts and minds of the people around the world? Is that his job?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, I think -- look, you want to be thought -- a decent respect, you know, of the opinion of mankind, or whatever Jefferson's words are. I don't think we should apologize for what we do if what we're doing is right, but we should take a look at what people think.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I ask you, geographically, where is the most troublesome and worrisome area, as far as you can see, of negative opinion?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: This -- in terms of negative opinion, obviously it is the Islamic world.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about secondly?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A place where you go to for your holidays -- you and Bloomberg.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: It's Europe. Europe.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Europe.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Europe. Europe. Europe is a -- but there's a reason for it, and that is, they resent our success.

MS. CLIFT: Oh --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does that have --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: They resent the fact that we are the major power, able to make decisions that will affect their life, without their --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is the Atlantic alliance in trouble? Is NATO in trouble?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, it's not, because --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is there a rift?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No -- oh, there is a rift, but it's not in trouble --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No rupture?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- because they cannot defend themselves without us. They need us.

MS. CLIFT: It's not that they resent our success. There was tremendous sympathy towards this country after 9/11, and we squandered that. They love our music, hey love our fast food, they love our culture, and a lot of them would move here in a minute if they could.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But they hate --

MS. CLIFT: They don't like the policies of this government. ####

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