THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP
HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN
JOINED BY: TONY BLANKLEY, PATRICK BUCHANAN,
ELEANOR CLIFT AND MORTIMER ZUCKERMAN
TAPED: FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2003
BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF SEPTEMBER 13-14, 2003
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THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: Safe or unsafe?
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: (From videotape.) Nearly two-thirds of al Qaeda's known leaders have been captured or killed, and we continue on al Qaeda's trail. We have exposed terrorist front groups, seized terrorist accounts, taken new measures to protect our homeland and uncovered sleeper cells inside the United States.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But do Americans feel safer today than they did before 9/11? An attack has not occurred on U.S. soil in two years, but elsewhere around the world there are new victims. Israel has been rocked by Hamas bombings. More U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq. And on Thursday the State Department issued an alarming new global warning of impending attacks.
Ghoulishly, Osama bin Laden himself surfaced this week on Al-Jazeera Television, to take fresh credit for 9/11, and warned that the war against America has only just begun. Al Qaeda elements still operate in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and their hand can be seen in the recent bombings in Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Chechnya, Indonesia, Iraq.
Against this backdrop, it is hardly surprising that when Americans are polled, the findings are sobering. Seventy-six percent of Americans say they feel less secure from the threat of terrorism today than they did before 9/11. Sixty-four percent, a consensus, say that our military being in the Middle East increases the likelihood of attack against the U.S. And 77 percent believe that negative feelings in the Islamic world towards the U.S. creates a climate in which it is easier for terrorists to recruit new members and raise funds.
Question: What are the political implications of these poll numbers for President Bush's handling of the war on terror, Pat Buchanan?
MR. BUCHANAN: John, I would say that in the war on terror, the president is winning the war if you're talking about al Qaeda. The mistake the president has made is, he has lunged us right into the middle of Iraq. We're occupying Baghdad, the ancient capital and the home of the caliphate for 500 years. We've got an army, an infidel army, in the midst of the enemy. And I think, in that sense, somewhere Osama bin Laden is saying, "Mission accomplished."
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, Bush has still strong public support, does he not?
MS. CLIFT: Yes, but we're living with a great sense of unease, and going into the 2004 election, his biggest selling point is that there hasn't been another attack on American soil. And I noted with interest that on the anniversary of 9/11, the president called for an expansion of the USA Patriot Act. That's not going to pass Congress because there's concern on the right and the left about curbing civil liberties. But that was an insurance policy for President Bush, because if there is another attack -- and God forbid, there won't be -- but if there is, he can say, "I asked for more authority to go after terrorists, and the Democrats in the Congress won't give it to me." We're seeing his electoral strategy emerge.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Most Americans see that there is a link between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, and they also feel the al Qaeda played a role in the bombing of the World Trade Organization (sic) and at the Pentagon. That has, clearly, helped Bush maintain his broad public support, has it not? But will not the time come when the Americans will say, "Okay, enough of payback. Now we're concerned about our personal security and safety." The Iraq war will have run out of steam for the president.
MR. BLANKLEY: Part of that is right. Look, the opening question you had was an intriguing one: Is the higher concern about terrorism good or bad for the president's polling?
The president is popular largely because of his stand on the war on terrorism. To the extent the public is still concerned that there is a danger, then they, I think, put more confidence in this president. So in a bizarre way, the higher the fear factor, the more terror is an issue, and the better the president is positioned with the public. If the issue is the economy or the environment or some other issue, then he's not going to look as good.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you see it that way, that if there is a sense of insecurity, that this cuts against the president; the American people want to feel secure?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: You know, it's interesting; I think his father came across as being able. The son, George Bush, 43, comes across as being strong. Through all of this, I think that is what he has conveyed to the American public, and that is what is appealing, in my judgment, politically. And given the continuation, frankly, of terrorism, or the threat of terrorism, I think that is one of the strongest pillars of his political support. I don't see it as weakening him. I think that is the one thing that really holds them, because he is seen as being strong.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can we all agree that if there is another significant, major terrorist attack against the United States, that the president's popularity will once again soar?
MS. CLIFT: No. No.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We cannot all agree to that?
MS. CLIFT: No, I don't agree with that at all.
MR. BUCHANAN: I agree with that 100 percent.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You do or you don't?
MS. CLIFT: No --
MR. BUCHANAN: I do, 100 percent. But I'll tell you this; the message of these polls is: Mr. President, we're going to give you some time, but you've got to wrap up Iraq pretty soon.
The American people will not take this level of casualties, will not take $4 billion a month for more than year. If this is going on next summer, you're going to see: Bring the troops home.
MS. CLIFT: The president is arguing that we're fighting in the Middle East so we won't fight in the Midwest. If there is an attack in this country, he's going to have a lot of questions to answer.
And he has shamelessly exploited the connection of 9/11 to do everything from going into Iraq when there was no connection with the hijackers -- (laughter) -- to pushing drilling in the Arctic Reserve --
MR. BUCHANAN: Eleanor -- (laughs) --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay --
MS. CLIFT: -- to tax cuts and everything else. And I think the level of skepticism is rising, and his poll numbers are coming down.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay --
MR. BLANKLEY: My level of skepticism is rising right now. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. I think we would agree that probably the best thing this administration has done over the last two years is to rid the country of the sympathizers, the trainees and the al Qaeda operatives who are here, as well as the preemptive detentions that have occurred, notwithstanding the fact that unfortunately, many instances of civil rights and human rights violations have occurred.
Will you not agree with that so we can move on?
MS. CLIFT: No! (Laughs.)
MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, I --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You will not agree with that?
MS. CLIFT: No. Where are you getting this --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That is the single most effective thing that they have done in this administration.
MS. CLIFT: But where do you get --
MR. BLANKLEY: I agree with you -- (inaudible).
MR. ZUCKERMAN: The most effective thing they have done in this administration is to destroy the sanctuary in Afghanistan, and to eliminate two-thirds of the leadership of al Qaeda and to organize a worldwide, joint effort of all the intelligence agencies against terrorists.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, whose --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Whether you know it or not, there is a proliferation of those cells all over the world --
MS. CLIFT: Exactly. Exactly.
MR. BUCHANAN: But John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and while they may boast about the elimination of two-thirds of those high-ranking al Qaeda, it doesn't mean a thing.
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Inaudible) -- new formulations, particularly in Pakistan, as you will see later. Okay.
MR. BUCHANAN: Whose civil rights have been violated? Whose civil rights?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I'll give you my list afterwards. (Laughter.)
Okay, has the Iraq war and occupation made us safer?
PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape.) Two years ago, I told the Congress and the country that the war on terror would be a lengthy war, a different kind of war, fought on many fronts and many places. Iraq is now the central front.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Former secretary of State Madeleine Albright says yes, it is the central front, and the U.S. has made Iraq the central front of terrorism that it is today.
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT (former secretary of State): (From videotape.) Whereas the link with al Qaeda was very tenuous at best when proposed by the Bush administration, now, in fact, Iraq is going to become a breeding ground for terrorism, or a gathering ground, as Afghanistan had.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Also, the fact that the U.S. is in Iraq in large numbers, and that many forces are unprotected, enhances Iraq as a target of opportunity for terrorists throughout the Middle East and elsewhere.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who's right, Tony? Is it Madeleine Albright or is it the president?
MR. BLANKLEY: (Laughs.) Look, Madeleine Albright, who was one of the primary people responsible in the Clinton administration for not getting bin Laden about seven times when they could have, is, of course, wrong.
MR. BUCHANAN: Iraq is a sand trap for the United States, John, and we are going to have -- it is not where we ought to be fighting. It is their turf on their terms.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The issue is whether or not, had there been no Iraq, whether Iraq now would be a training ground, a gathering place, and a mecca for al Qaeda.
MR. BUCHANAN: Of course not!
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, the notion that we can somehow attract all the terrorists to one spot and systematically eradicate them is totally insane, because there is an endless supply, and people are flocking there from all over the Middle East, and then they will become radicalized and go out and create more terrorists --
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, you --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. Okay.
MS. CLIFT: -- just like the Mujahideen did when they (swelled up ?) in Afghanistan.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Are we better off -- are we better off without Saddam Hussein ruling Iraq? The answer is yes. I'm not saying there aren't problems, but I think the answer is yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wow! Howard Dean might take a different view of that.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: And I take a different view of Howard Dean.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Economic snapshot. How is the present terrorism state of affairs affecting the economy? The GDP for the second quarter went up 3.1 percent. We must be thankful for that. August: 93,000 jobs cut. Very sad. Producer Price Index up .4 percent. Retail sales up .6 percent. The Dow, year to date, up 13 percent. Nasdaq: tech is back, up 36 percent.
Mort, do you care to comment on the state of the economy?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yeah. I mean, I think the economy is still in deep trouble. And the most important statistic that you mentioned there were the 93,000 job losses. We've had job losses now for seven months in a row. We've lost 3 million jobs, compared to the 1981-82 recession, where we created 3 million jobs in the 21 months after the recession peaked.
So we have a very problematic economy. The question is, will the fiscal stimulus that is now going through the economy have a sustaining effect on our economic prospects? And I don't know the answer to that.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?
MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, the early question has been whether the tax cuts, that are now beginning to come on line, and so far, the early consumer sales are suggesting that they are having the stimulative effect we were hoping for.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it a bull market?
MR. BLANKLEY: It's a bull market, but not in jobs.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is the recovery moving forward?
MR. BUCHANAN: It is, John.
MS. CLIFT: It is in some ways for people at the top; it is not for the middle class and lower because it is a job loss to the country and --
MR. BLANKLEY: John, we've lost --
MR. BLANKLEY: (Inaudible) -- make into class warfare -- (inaudible) --
MS. CLIFT: Excuse me! And these jobs are not going to come back.
MR. ZUCKERMAN (?): That is true.
MS. CLIFT: The economy is transforming itself in ways that are quite negative.
MR. BUCHANAN: We've lost manufacturing jobs for 37 straight months; 2.5 million. One in every seven manufacturing jobs has disappeared under Mr. Bush. That is going to be the vulnerability in 2004.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you want to say anything about Cancun, before we move on, and the WTO?
MR. BUCHANAN: This is what my prediction is. This Cancun is going to fail, and the next trade deal the president sends to the Hill is going to be sent right back to him.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're not retrenching at all from your protectionist habits and thinking, have you?
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, look, they are -- they have come around to my thinking when I'm gone! (Laughs.)
MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question. This question goes to substance, not perception. Are we safer now than we were before 9/11? Safe or unsafe?
MR. BUCHANAN: We are safer than we were on September 12th of 2001.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: We're less safe because we're creating more terrorists by our action in Iraq. And if you look at just one isolated number, $7 billion to $9 billion to outfit commercial airliners to protect them from shoulder-fired missiles, we don't have the money for that. The real fears in this society are not being addressed.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?
MR. BLANKLEY: We aren't safer, but we can't possibly be. The war on terrorism has just started. These are the early battles; it's going to get worse before it gets better. But we've got to go through that process, because otherwise we're never going to be safer.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: We're safer, but we're not safe. It is impossible for an open society like ours, in this kind of warfare, to be safe. But we're getting safer on a whole series of levels. It's going to take quite a long time to get to the point where we feel safe.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think we're less safe, but not because of terrorism. I think we're less safe because of our growing insularity and isolation from the world, and I think we're less safe because of the hostility being shown towards us around the world.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: (We're paranoid ?).
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think this is the natural climate in which terrorism can grow, and it's more fearful right now than is terrorism itself.
When we come back: The Jerusalem Post is calling upon Israel to assassinate Yasser Arafat. Is that a good idea?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two: Arafat to exile?
The bloody and brutal exchange of bullets and bombs that makes up the current Middle East peace process reached critical mass this week. On Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's security cabinet voted in principle to expel President Yasser Arafat from the region. The cabinet also ordered the Israeli military to draw up an Arafat extraction plan.
Tens of thousands of supporters gathered outside Arafat's Ramallah headquarters in the West Bank to protect their leader and protest the new threat from Israel. And these Palestinians are not the only people who oppose Arafat's expulsion.
SHIMON PERES (Israeli foreign minister): (From videotape.) If you want to expel Arafat, you must ask: What are you going to achieve?
And Arafat abroad will be, in my judgment, more dangerous and more hostile than where he is tonight, today. I objected completely. I think it will be a mistake.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Why is it better to keep Arafat where he is, Tony Blankley?
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, Shimon Peres, quoted there, makes the case that he would have a publicity place in Paris or wherever he might be.
But there's a danger to keeping him there, too, because he is the reason why there can be no peace agreement. And so getting him out might well create conflict within the Palestinians that perhaps, if one were lucky, the peacemakers would win over the warmakers. So I think there's a fairly good case to move him out, although I understand they want to keep him there.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Abu Mazen's failure -- the now exited prime minister -- was owing to the fact that he did not have the help of Arafat.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can we therefore conclude that Arafat is essential to any solution?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, I think that is true. But he's also -- he also stops any solution. And the fact is that Abu Mazen is out because Arafat deliberately undermined him, specifically after Colin Powell made Arafat once again a key player. And at that point on, from those three weeks -- that three weeks on, he pushed out Abu Mazen.
It's going to be the same. The guy whom he's now announcing, Abu Ala, as the next prime minister, is a total handmaiden of Arafat. And Arafat is so completely distrusted on the Israeli side, nothing will happen with Arafat.
MS. CLIFT: Right.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, John, Colin Powell did not create Arafat. Arafat is the natural leader, for better or worse, of the Palestinian people. You send him out of the country, he will still be the leader. The alternative to Arafat is Hamas. The Israelis should have to deal with Arafat, and we should deal with Arafat. Like it or not.
MS. CLIFT: I agree with that. And you make peace with your enemies.
MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly.
MR. BLANKLEY: What if the enemy won't make peace with you? And that's, of course, been the problem with Arafat.
MS. CLIFT: You've got to give legitimacy to the new prime minister --
MR. BLANKLEY: He doesn't have legitimacy.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay.
MS. CLIFT: And so legitimacy climbs --
MR. BLANKLEY: He is the cat's paw of the killer Arafat.
MS. CLIFT: Excuse me!
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay! (Laughter.)
MS. CLIFT: Legitimacy climbs if the other side does something significant about the settlements.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Arafat's appointee. The turbulent tenure of the first Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, has come to a close. Succeeding him, Ahmed Qureia, handpicked by his long-time friend and boss, Yasser Arafat. But who is Ahmed Qureia?
He is popularly known as Abu Ala. He was born in a West Bank suburb of Jerusalem and is 66 years old. Qureia is married and has two daughters and two sons. He joined Fatah in 1965 and spent years in exile in Tunisia. Importantly, Qureia has been speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council for seven years, since 1996.
He has had extensive negotiating experience with Israel, and is well-regarded by many Israeli leaders and visited the Israeli Knesset in 1999. Unlike Mahmoud Abbas, Qureia is a strong public speaker, with a skilled knowledge of the English language.
Former Israeli prime minister Shimon Peres worked closely with Qureia and knows him very well.
(Begin video segment.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And you know Abu Ala?
MR. PERES: Very much.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: From Oslo.
MR. PERES: From Oslo and since Oslo. We negotiated until half a year ago. We reached an agreement about a solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Abu Ala will keep friendly relations with Arafat more than anybody else, but he is the one that can convince Arafat to go the other way.
Abu Ala is a Palestinian patriot. He is not an agent of Israel. He is not an agent of the United States. And he is not a puppet in the hands of Arafat. He is very eloquent, very independent in his mind, but he is a master in human relations and understanding in what is good and bad for the Palestinians. In my mind, he thinks that peace is good for the Palestinians.
(End video segment.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: How should the U.S. treat Qureia, especially in the light of that endorsement from Shimon Peres? You probably haven't heard anything like that, have you?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Oh, no. I think he's a long-time advocate of working with Abu Ala. But Abu Ala, I would point out to you, along with Arafat, was opposed to the Camp David settlement. So I don't know where we go from here with Arafat basically pulling the strings. He is right, Abu Ala may be able to persuade Arafat to change his position. But the whole issue is Arafat.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Here's what he said to me during the interview and afterwards. He says the key to this is that Abu Ala, the new man, can maintain a personal relationship with Arafat, understood, even though he may intensely disagree with him and go in a different direction on policy, and the personal relationship will not be impaired. That was not the case with his predecessor. When they differed on policy and programs, then it destroyed their personal relationship.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I agree. I agree with that.
MS. CLIFT: Well --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So therefore, there is now hope, is there not?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: But the hope is whether or not Abu Ala can persuade Arafat. And that, I have to tell you, is not a -- that hope is a good -- hope may be a good breakfast, but it's a poor supper. I'm very pessimistic about where Arafat's going to move.
MS. CLIFT: Abu Ala is a lot more savvy political figure and has more influence with Arafat. But you could put Nelson Mandela in there or Mahatma Gandhi; if the Israelis don't do something significant about the settlements, and if the life of average Palestinians isn't made better quickly -- no more eight-hour checkpoints -- I don't see that he has any --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: You leave out the whole issue of terror --
MS. CLIFT: -- I don't think he has any --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: You leave out the whole issue of terror.
MS. CLIFT: Oh, no. But that's the only way you can stop the terror.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, can we at least -- can we at least say that --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: It never stopped it before.
MR. BUCHANAN: Can we at least say that the assassination of Arafat would be certifiably insane?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Insane. It was mischievous for the Jerusalem Post to even publish that.
MR. BUCHANAN: It's worse than that.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Have you ever seen an editorial like that?
MR. BUCHANAN: I think it is irresponsible to the extreme.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hm. The question is the road map.
MR. BUCHANAN: Dead.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is the road map dead?
MR. BUCHANAN: The road map is dead, up until November of 1984, if Bush wins. Bush does not have the strength to do what he's got to do, which is what Eleanor said. You've got to be able to crack down on Sharon, and he doesn't have the strength to do it.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, you don't --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it a great loss?
MR. BUCHANAN: I think it is -- I think it's a significant loss, although as I -- I expressed very little hope for it here. Tony was very hopeful. Perhaps he can speak to it! (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think it was a mistake --
MR. BLANKLEY: No, the word was "hope" not "expect."
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think the road map was a mistake in direction?
MR. BUCHANAN: No, I think it was worth a try. I am for every one of these attempts. But I think the guy that killed --
MR. BLANKLEY: And that was my position, Pat.
MR. BUCHANAN: The guy that killed Prime Minister Rabin I think has killed the last good chance for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, and I think this is fated for a horrible end.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, well, the president's policy --
MR. BLANKLEY: I don't understand why you say that.
MS. CLIFT: The president's policy in the Middle East is in tatters, just as his Iraq policy. You can't pretend Arafat doesn't exist. And you don't hear much out of this White House about the road map these days. They're not trying to keep it alive. I think they recognize it's moribund.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, the road map, you know, was --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it dead?
MR. BLANKLEY: Yes, of course it's dead, I think, because I don't think there's any question that that process is not going to work. And frankly, now that Arafat has retaken -- asserted himself, the peace process is dead, I think, until Arafat is gone.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Look, I mean, the -- (chuckles) -- you know, you say Rabin was the last hope. Ehud Barak made this extraordinary proposal at Camp David, which Arafat turned down. And we've had three years now of terrorism --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is the road map dead?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: The road map was never alive!
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: It was never an operational agreement. It was an excuse to have negotiations, and now the excuse is gone.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The road map is dead, but it's not a great loss.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I (agree ?).
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In fact, the road map was unimplementable because of its excessive complexity and also because it was incrementalist.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: (Absolutely ?).
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What they should do is go right to the final stages, right to those central issues. They should get a U.N. -- U.S. mandate over there -- that is, we should have a presence over there, with an international force -- and there should be a referendum on the part of the Israelis and the Palestinians on a given set of issues, and go right to the heart of the matter and skip all this incrementalism. That is a blueprint for terror.
MR. BUCHANAN: Let me agree with you --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This was well developed -- may I say this?
MR. BUCHANAN: Look --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This was well developed in an article in The Washington Post on Sunday, written by two authors, one of whose name was Robert Malley.
MR. BUCHANAN: All right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We'll be right back with predictions.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions, Pat?
MR. BUCHANAN: As I mentioned, John, I think Cancun has gone nowhere. But the next trade treaty, even if it's a free trade for the Americas of George Bush, will be sent right back up the street. These manufacturing job losses have shaken the administration, and they will turn folks against the next trade deal.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know the measures taken by the president to help the steel industry?
MR. BUCHANAN: He put tariffs on them, and then he's being pushed to take the tariffs off.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will he take the tariffs off?
MR. BUCHANAN: I hope not, because West Virginia and western Pennsylvania are important to him.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is, he will take them off because every one of his economic advisers wants him to take them off.
What do you think of that, Pat?
MR. BUCHANAN: They're not running --
MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There goes your protectionism, right down the drain!
MR. BUCHANAN: They're not running for reelection.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: One political adviser does not want the tariffs taken off --
MR. BUCHANAN: Rove!
MS. CLIFT: -- Karl Rove.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly! Quickly!
MS. CLIFT: Colin Powell will be the next president of the World Bank, an institution that will appreciate his diplomatic talents far more than the White House.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Have you notified the present president of that?
MS. CLIFT: Well, I'm not saying it's going to happen before this term is over, but there's a vacancy about to be -- appear there.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly!
MR. BLANKLEY: The U.S. government will place economic sanctions on Syria because they've been found dealing in forbidden weapons, and also Powell is not likely to try to block that, because he's furious with Damascus for going back on the agreements that he thought they had with him when he went to meet with them a few months ago.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: The budget deficit next year will approach $600 billion and will produce a series of financial shocks in the world financial system next year, before the election.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Howard Dean will raise more than $10 million in the third quarter of this year, more than any Democrat in an equivalent period in history, except Bill Clinton, and clearly outpacing his competitors, whom he will probably defeat in the Democratic nomination for it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue three: Hillary, deliver us!
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY): (From videotape.) That number, $87 billion, was a shocker. It was far higher than what any of us had been led to expect. But you know, I'm going to do everything I can to support our men and women in uniform.
And the reason that the president is making what I consider a false choice is because he has such bad economic and budget policies that we have driven our country into deficit and debts, and we're not prepared to do what it takes to get us ready, to make sure every police officer and firefighter in this country has the equipment and the training that he or she needs to make sure our borders and our ports are secure.
And when I listen to the experts, who are the firefighters, the police officers, the other people who are going to be responding to those calls to action, I don't think we are ready. And we need as high a priority on defending us at home as the president places on what we're doing in Iraq.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Despite repeatedly denying that she will take the plunge, Hillary continues to skitter along the surface of conjecture, letting the 2004 rumors roll on.
Senator Clinton's staff has added to the buzz that the New York senator will join the competition for the Democratic presidential nomination. On her Friends of Hillary.com website, the senator's aides have been posting e-mails galore from politically charged supporters, urging her to run. And the more President Bush's ratings fall, the greater the pressure on Hillary to enter the race.
Why is Hillary keeping the buzz alive? Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: Well, mostly because people on the right are perpetuating this notion that she is so driven and so opportunistic --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean like Buchanan?
MS. CLIFT: -- yeah! -- (laughter) -- that she's going to come in and smash the nomination away from one of those nice men -- (laughter) -- just to advance a West Wing agenda. You know, she may be opportunistic, but I think not stupid. And 2004 is not her year. She's not going to run --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, yeah, but she's making a play for something. It may not be the presidency, but what about the veep position?
MR. BUCHANAN: No, no. Here's what she's doing. She's all this buzz. She -- all this attention, she's making herself the future leader of the party --
MS. CLIFT: Yes.
MR. BUCHANAN: -- but she and Bill want more than Karl Rove for George W. Bush to be renominated and reelected, because if Howard Dean wins this, Hillary is finished and Bill is finished.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That criticism of Bush, the president, and his administration for failing to pay enough attention to homeland security here at home was somewhat slashing. And that's the role of the vice president. Right? (Laughter.) Don't you think she wants to be called up there to be under review when the nominee of the party is in a position to be selecting his vice president?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I would say that one of the last things in the world she wants to be is a vice president on the Democratic ticket. I don't think that is her interest at all. She's going to do --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, let us say that she still wants the exposure of commanding a place on the list.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Oh, listen, she's already on the list.