THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP
HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN
JOINED BY: ELEANOR CLIFT, MICHAEL BARONE,
CLARENCE PAGE, DAVID FRUM
TAPED FRIDAY, JUNE 5, 1998
AIRED THE WEEKEND OF JUNE 6-7, 1998
TRANSCRIPT BY: FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE
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ANNOUNCER: From the nation's capital, the McLaughlin Group, an unrehearsed program presenting inside opinions and forecasts on major issues of the day. "GE is proud to support the McLaughlin Group. From aircraft engines to appliances; GE, we bring good things to life."
Issue one: Lewinsky endgame.
PLATO CACHERIS (Lewinsky attorney): (From videotape.) We just got in today, to the case today, basically. So we hope we have a lot to bring to the table.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The table to which Mr. Cacheris refers is the settlement table. In a move that close watchers thought long overdue, Monica Lewinsky this week summarily dumped attorney Bill Ginsburg and hired two well-known Washington lawyers, Plato Cacheris and Jacob Stein, veteran legal settlement brokers who honor the legal adage, "A bad settlement is better than a good judgment."
Before Starr will give Lewinsky full immunity, meaning that she could not be prosecuted on any aspect of this case, Ms. Lewinsky will have to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth on at least five essential points.
One, Clinton's perjury. Ms. Lewinsky establishes that Mr. Clinton perjuriously testified to Paula Jones' lawyers.
Two, subordination of perjury. Monica gives full disclosure of her efforts to coach Linda Tripp to lie under oath.
Three, obstruction of justice. Monica reveals the source of the talking points she gave to Linda Tripp. Were they dictated to her by Clinton or Vernon Jordan or Bruce Lindsey or anyone, and possibly at Mr. Clinton's direction?
Four, job offers for silence. Monica discloses that Clinton and/or Jordan and/or someone arranged for $40,000 job offers to induce her to go away quietly.
Five, Monica's falsification. Lewinsky reveals who pressured her and coached her whether and how to give a false sworn affidavit to Paula Jones' lawyers.
Question: Will Monica Lewinsky give Starr what Starr needs to give her full immunity? Michael Barone?
MR. BARONE: Well, for a long time I've had a hard time predicting what Monica Lewinsky will do, because she seemed to have unerringly bad judgment. Her hiring of Plato Cacheris and Jacob Stein seems to be a move in another direction.
John, I think that answer depends in part on what really happened, which we don't entirely know.
We don't know who gave those talking points to her and what exactly they said. We don't know exactly what went on with Mr. Clinton in his conversation that he had with her in December 1997, after he knew that she was being called as a witness in that other case.
So I think, on balance, my answer is yes. But I think there is still some unanswered questions out there that we don't know the answers --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There are premises built into that brilliant introduction, certain premises, of what he is looking for. My question reduces to, "Will she be 100 percent cooperative?" Do you want to answer that question?
MR. BARONE: My answer is that I think she'll be about 80 percent cooperative, and that may or may not be enough for --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, can you move this forward?
By the way, Eleanor, there is an opening in the Spice Girls line-up. (Laughter.) Do you think you're spicy enough? (Laughter.)
MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.) I don't know whether I have the voice for that. I have the voice for this, but not for --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I would write a recommendation for you anytime.
MS. CLIFT: Okay. Good.
I think Monica Lewinsky has two choices.
And setting aside what is true and what is not true because none of us here know, she can stand by her original affidavit, under oath, where she declared she had no sexual relationships, a statement she also made to two lawyers, including Vernon Jordan. Then that would force Ken Starr to indict her and to prove otherwise.
Her other option, it seems to me, is to cooperate and to admit to, as her original proffer suggested, to some sort of sexual relationship. But I don't think she is going to go the distance here and give Starr what he needs to nail the president.
And so I think we're in a very interesting dance here between the lawyers and -- these new lawyers can't be rolled the way Ginsburg --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think she is going to get full immunity?
MS. CLIFT: Whatever happens, I don't think this is going to a court trial.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. There is an evasion there, but we'll live with that -- (inaudible) -- with Clarence by the way. (Laughter.)
MR. PAGE (?): Sure.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Da' Bulls.
MR. PAGE: Da' Bulls, John. Thank you very much.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And like your Rodman tattoo tie, there. (Laughter.) It's good to see you're carrying forward the cause.
MR. PAGE: Yeah. This was kind of the way my vision was after the Bulls's last championship. But --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Also, welcome back to big-time TV.
MR. PAGE: Glad to be here, John. Thank you. (Laughter.
You know, I think -- well, getting back to the thrust of your question there, "Will Monica get full immunity?" Ken Starr likes to play hardball. I think he'll want to come down to limited immunity. Monica's got very hardball lawyers on her side.
And the problem is Michael is right in saying that we're operating here at a disadvantage because we don't really know what Monica has to offer. We don't really know what the talking points have in them, as well.
But it looks like, obviously, she wants to deal now. And there is no percentage in Starr sending her to jail.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think Starr would give limited immunity? Is it full immunity or no immunity?
MR. PAGE: When it comes down to it, John. I mean, he wants to get Clinton -- let's face it -- he wants to get Clinton. He doesn't want to put Monica to jail. And if he can get that through limited immunity, he'll go for it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: David Frum.
MR. FRUM: Very hard to tell half a truth. Once you start telling the truth and once there is enough evidence to confirm the things you've said -- very, very hard to stop. I think it's probably dawned --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's been done.
MR. FRUM: It's probably dawned on her at this point that Bill Clinton is not actually going to leave Hillary to marry her after the year 2000.
And I don't know what he'd think if she --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you mean that she may feel that she's been tossed aside, as if she'd gone through a giant mind shift?
MR. FRUM: I think it may have just dawned on her that there really is not a lot of good reason for her to go to prison for this man.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, in line with this question, what's the biggest news item of the week in this whole gestalt?
MR. BARONE: Well, I think the biggest news item is the two new lawyers going in to talk to the independent counsel.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is an important news item, but it's not the biggest. What's -- can you tell me what's the biggest one for you?
MS. CLIFT: Well, I'll go for the Supreme Court slapping back Ken Starr in his pleadings -- ridiculous pleadings -- that this is of such high import that the court has to suspend its vacation to listen to his arguments.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's a big story, and we're going to get to that, in due course, here. Can you tell me what the biggest story of the week is? The biggest news of the week?
MR. PAGE: I'll go with the Supreme Court.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The biggest news, not the biggest story.
MR. FRUM: The biggest news is that the, actually, Norma Holloway-Johnson ruling.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think the biggest news of the week was the revelation that Marsha Lewis, the mother of Monica, has been talking to Ken Starr. Because I think that she may be now feeling that, because of the way Bill Clinton characterized her daughter as "that woman" and then later on when the White House turned loose the swat team to call her and to identify her as "stalking the president" and being emotionally unstable, that settled in with her, and I think she was sobered up when she went before the grand jury as to the fact that this is not Beverly Hills melodrama, this is real law, here.
MR. BARONE: It's real law, John, and once you get beyond the medical malpractice lawyer they had from out in Beverly Hills and talk to real lawyers, one of the things you find out is that Monica has got a potential criminal liability that could mean, if you impose -- could some tough judge impose consecutive sentences, you as a lawyer have a responsibility to tell your client that -- (inaudible due to cross talk) -- 20 years -- she could have 20 --
MS. CLIFT: Let's have --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me finish my point with regard to the mother. We are now on a primal level with a woman who wants to protect her daughter.
MR. BARONE: She also wants the criminal liability to stop.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Number one, she doesn't want her to go to trial, and number two, she'd love to see those tapes sealed and -- but she's protecting her daughter. Do you sense this in what's happening?
MS. CLIFT: Well, I thought I was going to get a chance to speak here --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, okay, but don't you think that she's in the act now?
MS. CLIFT: I think we need a reality check. We need a reality check here. We're talking about criminal perjury in a civil case that has been thrown out concerning another woman whose testimony was not material to the case that's been thrown out. Show me a jury that's going to convict Monica Lewinsky on that. This is crazy.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: David --
MR. FRUM: -- this is a well-established sex exception to the laws of perjury, that it's okay to perjure yourself about sex?
MS. CLIFT: You find me anybody who's indicted under that.
MR. FRUM: Unless the behavior was during that week of law school?
MR. PAGE: David, compared to Watergate, this was jaywalking. You're talking about realities about juries --
MR. FRUM: The Watergate cover-up --
MR. PAGE: -- and juries don't see the world the way lawyers do.
(Inaudible due to cross talk.) -- cover-up and desert them -- (inaudible).
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'd say Monica's mother, Marsha Lewis, is having a lot to do in calling these shots.
MS. CLIFT: Well, she's gotten some good lawyers, here.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: She arranged the lawyers, you think?
MS. CLIFT: Yes, and they're good deal-makers, and if they do their job, Monica won't be indicted.
And if she is indicted, they'll move to quash that indictment on the grounds that --
MR. BARONE: On the grounds that she's just a poor little 24-year-old girl and a Jewish lawyer from Beverly Hills who's not --
MS. CLIFT: No --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: With a Jewish mother who wants to take care of her, okay?
MR. BARONE: (Inaudible due to cross talk) -- ridiculous.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, there's damage to -- she's trying to control the damage. The damage has to go in one direction or the other. It's going to go towards Monica, or it's going to go towards Bill Clinton. And she wants that damage right now to go right where it belongs, which I think she thinks is Bill Clinton.
Okay, Starr steps up the offensive. The nation has a compelling interest that this criminal investigation of the President of the United States conclude as quickly as possible, that indictments be brought, possible reports for impeachment proceedings issued, and non-prosecution decisions announced. This quotation is from Ken Starr's position to the Supreme Court to clear the testimony of presidential counsellor and confidante Bruce Lindsey and select members of the Secret Service. Starr failed in his effort. The high court turned him down without prejudice. But the Appeals Court has agreed to take it up on an accelerated basis, scheduling the hearing on Secret Service for June the 26th, earlier than Starr had requested from the high court, and on Lindsey on June the 29th, the exact date Starr had requested. Question: How quickly will the Appeals Court adjudicate this matter, do you think? Eleanor Clift.
MS. CLIFT: Well, I'm assuming that they will come down with a decision sometime during the summer. And then whichever side loses will appeal to the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court will hear it in its next term. This is still many, many months away and may preclude Ken Starr from offering up his report to Congress until after the November election. And a lot of Republicans would be very happy about that.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you have any observations on this particular matter? I can put a question to you, for example. To what extent has been Starr been hurt by the Supreme Court's delay or not accepting his petition or his brief and moving it into the Appeals Court, or is it -- the Appeals Court is actually going to move it faster, right?
MR. FRUM: I don't think Starr's been hurt at all. This may make Eleanor gasp. I don't think Starr is in this to elect Republicans to Congress. Starr has been playing this very much by the book. He did not attempt to interfere in the 1996 election. And I think that what he did was in the Supreme Court decision, even though he lost it, was that he pinned the blame for delay squarely on Bill Clinton and made it impossible for Bill Clinton to go on saying that it's because of the special prosecutor that we are talking about this instead of the nuclear turmoil in south India.
MS. CLIFT: Republicans are in the business of electing Republicans, and they don't want Ken Starr's report whether he, you know, plows ahead or not.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Indicting Bill Clinton.
MR. : (From videotape.) There is no legal authority saying that you cannot subpoena a sitting president. It is not settled that a sitting president cannot be indicted.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Will Starr do it -- i.e., will he indict Bill Clinton? I ask you, David Frum.
MR. FRUM: Well, everyone who says that the president cannot be indicted is relying on a famous memo by Bob Bork. But Bob Bork can sometimes be wrong. He's wrong about Microsoft, for example. I think, though, that Starr probably will not -- will not indict.
Again, I think he will do it by the book and he will --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How about indicting and not trying him, but at the point of indictment, move it up to the House of Representatives for the Judiciary --
MR. FRUM: I think he may indict a lot of other people, but I think he is going to sum up the facts, I think the facts are going to be devastating, and then I think he's going to send it to the political branches.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Michael?
MR. BARONE: Well, Federal at 65 says that the president -- which is often cited as the proposition the president can't be indicted -- simply says that the president will still be liable for punishment and trial after an impeachment goes through. It doesn't say that he won't be beforehand. I don't think, though, that in the ordinary course of things, a president would be indicted by Ken Starr or anybody else while he's still in office. I do think that he can be called and summoned as a witness.
Remember, the Supreme Court ruled nine to nothing that the president is not immune from civil process. He, unlike the monarch in England, is an ordinary citizen subject to legal obligations.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit.
MR. PAGE: (Inaudible due to cross talk) -- the burden of proof here. Let's talk about political realities as well as the judicial reality.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.
MR. PAGE: I think Starr will report to Congress.
MS. CLIFT: Right.
MR. PAGE: That's why he is amassing evidence now, to cover his own backside so nobody can say he gave Clinton --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit. On a damage scale of zero to 10 -- zero meaning zero damage, a leaf falling on a polished Bentley, 10 meaning total damage, metaphysical implosion, nuclear megatonnage coterminous with the universe -- how much damage will it do to Clinton if Lewinsky cooperates 100 percent with Starr, tells the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? I ask you.
MR. BARONE: I'd say a seven.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A seven.
MR. BARONE: Serious, serious damage.
MS. CLIFT: If the truth is a sexual relationship and none of the other stuff, it's a six.
MR. PAGE: If the truth is a sexual relationship and Clinton will be shown to have lied to the American people flat out, that's extremely damaging. What it's going to mean, though, for a lame duck president, it's a seven at best.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: On the assumption that what we postulated, not as givens but as premises, those areas all turn out to work against Clinton, what's the megatonnage of damage?
MR. FRUM: A briefcase full of renminbi would be a nine; this will be an eight.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think this is a 10.
When we come back, in California, big labor up, bilingual education down. Will other states follow California's lead?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two: As California goes. Eight states held primary elections this week, among them electoral giant California. Here are the highlights.
California primary, governor; Democratic Lieutenant Governor Gray Davis won his primary.
GRAY DAVIS (Democrat candidate for governor of California): (From videotape.) This is truly an experience money can't buy. (Cheers.)
Davis will face Republican State Attorney General Dan Lungren in November to succeed incumbent Pete Wilson.
DAN LUNGREN (Republican candidate for Governor of California): (From videotape.) Let's make sure that we have a campaign that's based on issues.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Propositions. No. 227; it bans bilingual education programs. Approved. No. 226; it would have obliged union bosses to get permission from their members before making campaign donations. Defeated.
Oakland mayor, a comeback. Former California Governor Jerry Brown elected mayor of Oakland.
JERRY BROWN (Mayor, Oakland, California): (From videotape.) And I'm going to do my very best to make this city a place where things can work.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: U.S. House, another comeback. Former Republican Congressman Bob Dornan won his primary, setting up a rematch with Democratic Representative Loretta Sanchez, who defeated Dornan two years ago by a razor-thin 984 votes out of 95,000 cast.
Question: Why did the referendum on union political dues fail, and why did the bilingual education ban pass? Clarence Page.
MR. PAGE: Well, the union measure had a lot of money, $20 million, and a big push by organized labor against it, and the other side had very little money. Also, there was, rightly or wrongly, a lot of voters who were led to believe that the United Way contributions might be hurt, also there might be a future backlash that will lead to the ability of stockholders to check off what their company can contribute to politically; it would just be a big mess.
On bilingual, it was a case of, you know, most parents want their kids to learn English. Bilingual education was supposed to do that. In California, it wasn't working that way. And I think this was really a vote on the effectiveness of California's bilingual education program.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: David. I would point out, by the way, that the ban on union dues, that business was 53 to 47, which may have cost about a million dollars a point, I would say, maybe more. How much was the total, $20 million? It was more than a million dollars a point. It was about $3 million a point.
MR. FRUM: I think that one of the things that California showed us is the country is working its way to a new consensus on immigration, where immigration is okay but immigration attracted by welfare is not okay, and multiculturalism is not okay.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, wait a second. Let me get this straight. If bilingual education was defeated, forced bilingual education, you don't see this as a sign of anti-immigration fever?
MR. FRUM: No. I see it --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You see it the other way?
MR. FRUM: I think that the Republicans got bruised in California in 1996 by seeming too anti-immigrant.
The trick is going to be to find a way to show that we are not (against ?) immigration --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. Do you think --
MR. FRUM: -- but we are against the excessive -- (inaudible) --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- do you think -- I think it's 53 percent of Hispanics voted in favor of getting rid of enforced bilingual --
MR. BARONE: (Inaudible) -- question to --
MR. FRUM: Right -- (inaudible).
MR. BARONE: -- (inaudible) -- was not that high. The ballot papers that the left-wing organizations handed out, evidently persuaded them not to. But, John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There are 11 states that have it. I want to know from you whether the other 11 states are going to follow California's lead.
MR. BARONE: I think they are going to follow it in time, and legislatures are already moving to limit Spanish language instruction to a smaller number of years. So they --
MR. PAGE (?): (Inaudible.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But what about the costs, which they don't --
MR. BARONE: John, I think this is part of a broader thing that California has to teach us all, which is about education generally. California's had a system that's been run by the teacher's union, by government bureaucrats and by the education schools for 25 years. In that time, they've gone from the top test scores in the nation to number 49.
MS. CLIFT: That's not why --
MR. BARONE: And the voters have (suffered ?) this -- (cross talk) -- you listen, you listen --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let him finish. Let him finish.
MR. BARONE: Eleanor, I have interviewed these candidates. Let me tell you about it.
MR. FRUM (?): (Inaudible) -- he know.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah.
MR. BARONE: When you talk to the Democratic candidates for governor out there, they are talking about education reform in the same tones and accents as Bennett and the other conservative Republicans, who say --
MS. CLIFT: Yeah. And --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let him finish.
MR. BARONE: -- we have to have the basics, we have to have more accountability, we have to have rigorous standards. Gray Davis, Al Checchi and Jane Harman were all saying that, as well as Dan Lundgren. It's a real vote against the people who have had custody of the public education system --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Not to lose the main point, do you see in this an implicit rejection of the strong hand of the educational bureaucracy in California?
MR. BARONE: Of the -- (inaudible) -- agreement.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. Let's go.
MS. CLIFT: Now, if the Republicans want to campaign against public-school teachers, that's a real dead end. And you are glossing over the fact that California went from the top to the bottom because all the money was bled out of those schools because of Proposition 13.
MR. PAGE (?): Thank you. That's right.
MS. CLIFT: And also, on the union dues, let's not forget that business made a deal with the unions that they would not lobby for that amendment because labor threatened to have a similar proposition that would require corporations to get permission from shareholders if they were going to do any political activity. So this is a double-edged sword for the Republicans if they continue on that route.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does anyone want to talk here about the Lundgren win? Well, what's the -- what do you have to say about the Lundgren --
(Cross talk, laughter.)
MS. CLIFT: Lundgren? Lundgren's a good candidate.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And did Dornan win?
MR. BARONE (?): Dornan?
MS. CLIFT: Dornan is (ripe ?) for Sanchez.
MR. BARONE: I think that's a sideshow. I think the interesting --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you mean a sideshow? He could defeat her this year, couldn't he?
MS. CLIFT: No.
MR. BARONE: No, I wouldn't bet heavily on it, John.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You would not? (Laughter.)
MR. BARONE: No. If he had put the effort into his campaign two years ago that he did this time, instead of being out there running for president, he would have won two years ago. But he has burned his bridges to Orange County in my view, and he is not going to -- he is unlikely to win that --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did the voter send a message to Clinton? That's a thoughtful question.
MR. PAGE: Which voters? (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Statewide or Californians?
MR. PAGE: Statewide?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, district.
MR. PAGE: Well, for the most part, voters in California supported incumbents, the status quo, indicating to me a vote for the status quo over which President Clinton has presided.
MS. CLIFT: In moderation.
MR. : In moderation.
MS. CLIFT: In moderation. You're going to have Dan Lungren and Gray Davis now, one sort of center-left and one center-right, and they're going to fight over the middle-middle, the center-center.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I guess my question was too arcane about Kim? With Mr. Kim's background --
MS. CLIFT: Oh, yes!
MR. FRUM: The crooked congressman.
MR. BARONE: You're referring to Congressman Jay Kim of the 41st district, who was convicted of campaign law violations --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who is going through right now --
MR. BARONE: He's under --
MR. FRUM: House arrest.
MR. BARONE: He's under house arrest. He's got an electronic device. He lost to Gary -- (inaudible due to cross talk).
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You want to know the message to Clinton?
MR. PAGE: He couldn't get around much.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Until you're proven guilty, you get the benefit of the doubt. But if proven guilty, you're out!
MR. PAGE: (Chuckles.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit: What broad message did voters send to the GOP? To all politicians?
MR. BARONE: I think they sent a message of contentment, generally, with incumbents, but also wanting repairs of the public sector that's not working.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What -- repair it?
MS. CLIFT: Extremism is out.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Extremism is out?
MR. PAGE: That's what -- it was a vote of great contentment. (Inaudible) -- that's why incumbents did well.
MR. FRUM: Extremism is out, but so are liberal crank nostrums like bilingual education.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The -- that's a good point, and Eleanor's point is good, but the broadest point is your point. Incumbency is in. People want the status quo, as verified by both Gray and by Lungren.
We'll be right back with predictions.
The web -- McLaughlin.com. Okay, check this out. You can now see the group in full color video on your computer. Visit McLaughlin.com for a total video replay and experience. Each weekend's show is available mid-week. Also at McLaughlin.com, get full TMG transcripts, courtesy of Federal News Service.
Survey says: This week we asked, should Pakistan be punished for testing its nuclear bombs -- 71 percent said no. New on-line question of the week -- will Monica Lewinsky cooperate fully with Kenneth Starr, yes or no? Okay, predictions, Michael?
MR. BARONE: Senator Barbara Boxer, who got just 44 percent of the vote in California's all-party primary won't do much better in November, and will lose to Republican Matt Fong (sp).
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really! Well, that's interesting. Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: Congress will pass some sort of anti-managed care legislation.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Managed care?
MS. CLIFT: Anti-managed care legislation.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence?
MR. PAGE: John, you've been waiting for someone to predict a narrow victory for Carol Moseley-Braun in November, based on suburban women crossover voters.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I see, and of course, she's got, what, Fitzgerald running against her?
MR. PAGE: Fitzgerald, right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, that's part of the answer, too.
MR. PAGE: (Laughing.) Thank you.
MR. FRUM: After the November elections, a very nervous Bill Clinton will endorse a partial privatization of Social Security.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How's your book on the '70s coming, by the way?
MR. BARONE: Fast. I hope to have it out any minute.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you talking about disco?
MR. FRUM: I am talking about disco --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you talking about bell bottoms?
MR. FRUM: I am talking about bell bottoms. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about the Bee Gees?
MR. FRUM: The Bee Gees make an appearance.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Have the Bee Gees affected our culture? And if so, what has it done for Michael --
MR. FRUM: To have it done for --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- otherwise his clothing?
MR. BARONE: John, you've got to wear your bell bottoms next week.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Prediction: new Prime Minister Sergei Kiriyenko will successfully stabilize Russia's financial crisis.
Next week, the President of South Korea, Kim Dae-jung, visits Bill Clinton in Washington. Will Clinton tell him that we're going to downsize our forces on the DMZ? Bye-bye.
END OF REGULAR SEGMENT
BEGIN PBS SEGMENT
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three: Gore's Doublespeak.
VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE: (From videotape.) Clarity helped advance understanding. Understanding can help improve trust.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Under the banner of reinventing the federal government, Al Gore announced this week that he and Bill Clinton were issuing a new administrative directive to all departments and agencies: no more bureaucratic doublespeak. The new requirement:
One, write any new document that tells the public how to get a benefit or comply with a requirement in plain language by October 1, 1998;
Two, write all new government regulations in plain language by January 1, 1999; and
Three, revise all existing letters and notices into plain language by 2002.
The sentences themselves are so fully wrought in this Gore directive that editorial writers and columnists are enjoying fits of mirth, even hilarity. And there's this: Al Gore's most memorable phrase in office thus far has been "no controlling legal authority". Here he is leading the fight against bureaucratic doubletalk with more doubletalk.
Question: Will the Clinton-Gore plainspeak doctrine extend to the public statements of all administration officials, including Mike McCurry? Did you get that? Did you get that pause? Public administration, including Mike McCurry. Who wants this? David Frum.
MR. FRUM: I would like to see some Democrat plainly say "I believe the president."
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Simply that.
MR. FRUM: Yeah. That would be a refreshing display of plain English, but I don't think we're going to hear it.
MR. PAGE: Well, this is still Washington, David, where we've got to obfuscate the platitudinous enlargement of the activation before we go and -- (laughter) -- elongate our et cetera, et ceteras. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Our what? Our what? Are we back to that subject? (Laughter.)
MR. FRUM (?): I think not. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's get on with the question of whether or not Al Gore is spending too much time on this, which Mack Baldridge (sp) tried and that didn't go anywhere. The bureaucrats always get back in because they want to get some cushion around what they say so they can move through the side pocket.
Why isn't he concentrating on what problem?
MR. BARONE: The year 2000 problem, the computer problem.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's that called?
MR. BARONE: That's the problem that our computers are going to read the year 2000 only by the last two digits and say it's 1900.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How serious is that?
MR. BARONE: I don't know, but many experts say that that could be really serious, shut down large parts of the economy. There's an economist, Giardani (sp), who says that it will cost us four points of GDP. The fact is, and I think what it could cost Al Gore is a very serious number of votes in the year 2000 because anything that does go wrong will go wrong five weeks before the Iowa caucus and six weeks before the --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There are some people who believe that Al Gore is through in the year 2000 precisely because of Y2K, which means year 2, and the K is thousand.
MS. CLIFT: Do you really think we can blame all of the cyber problems on Al Gore? I mean, you know?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, he's "Mr. Information Highway" and he's nowhere to be seen.
MS. CLIFT: Oh, he's working feverishly behind the scenes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: On this problem?
MS. CLIFT: Of course he is, and I -- of course he is.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Have you heard him say anything about this problem?
MR. FRUM: I've heard him say a lot of things about everything except the one thing he really should be talking about, which is his Buddhist nun friends. I mean, that is something we would like to hear a plain statement about.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, what's the best thing we can do to get rid of the verbiage? Answer: Get rid of all this regulation. Right?