THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP
HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN
JOINED BY: ELEANOR CLIFT, TONY BLANKLEY, PAT BUCHANAN, AND MORT ZUCKERMAN
TAPED: FRIDAY, OCTOBER 10, 2003
BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF OCTOBER 11-12, 2003
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THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: California earthquake.
GOVERNOR-ELECT ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R-CA): (From videotape.): I will work as much as I can, even if it is around the clock. There will be no time for movies or anything else. I will pay full attention to this job.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: "Full attention" is an understatement, given the set of hurdles California's governor-elect faces. Even more worrisome than California's sorry economics will be Arnold's ability to govern with a holdover Davis Sacramento power structure: notably, a state legislature where both houses are controlled by Democrats, all vexed at what they view as a Republican hostile takeover.
California's Democratic Senate leader, John Burton, was asked what he was going to do to work with the new governor.
CALIFORNIA SENATE LEADER JOHN BURTON (D-3RD): (From videotape.) Well, what's he going to do to work with us? The ball's in his court, not ours.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Schwarzenegger needs to deliver a balanced budget to the legislature in January. The first thing he wants to do is to get rid of an unpopular car tax. But he knows it won't be easy.
GOV.-ELECT SCHWARZENEGGER: (From videotape.) (In progress) -- can it be done the first day or not. My legal advisors say yes. And of course, Senator Burton today said, you know, no, there is an obstacle there, but I say -- we have a difference of opinion there. I say we can do it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In the big picture, Governor Schwarzenegger may have a secret weapon denied to Governor Davis.
GOV.-ELECT SCHWARZENEGGER: (From videotape.) I have to work with President Bush and to make sure that the federal government participates the way they ought to in order to help this state. If it is with energy problems, if it is with water problems, if it is with getting more money for the state, all of those issues, there's many, many things that we can do together.
And so I'm looking forward to working with him and asking him for a lot, a lot of favors.
President Bush has assured me today he will do everything possible to help the state of California and to help me to achieve my goals.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Bush and Schwarzenegger meet next week in California; who gets the more out of the relationship? Pat?
MR. BUCHANAN: Schwarzenegger, obviously, John. California cannot solve its own problems. Its economic problems result from the massive invasion of immigrants, legal and illegal, in the 1990s, millions of them very poor, consuming taxpayer-provided services, and a massive exodus of the white middle class to Nevada, Arizona, Idaho. California is becoming virtually a third-world country. It is going to need massive federal aid, I think almost forever. That's what Mr. Schwarzenegger's going to be talking to the president about.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: A lot of those immigrants are the backbone of the economy in California. And what Schwarzenegger is doing is he's asking for a federal bailout from Washington. So, clearly he's going to try to lure the president into thinking if he spends more time in California, sends a little federal money that way, maybe he can carry the state next year. I think it's a hallucination.
But the underlying message of this election was the anger over the economy. This is an electorate that empowered itself and tossed out an incumbent who wasn't performing well. That's a message that they're hearing in Washington. We've got one of those in the White House.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think of that, Tony?
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, I've --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does it frighten you? (Laughter.)
MR. BLANKLEY: No. It frightens me how quickly they get their talking points and keep repeating it. But look. In fact, the economy is going to be wonderful by next year, so not to worry about it, Eleanor.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can I interrupt you?
MS. CLIFT: Who's got the talking points here?
MR. BLANKLEY: Yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can I make a point?
MR. BLANKLEY: Yes, please.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: On her point?
MR. BLANKLEY: Yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Davis took a budget which was in surplus and he reduced it to the opposite. The president of the United States has done exactly the same thing. So there's some correspondence between the two, is there not?
MR. BLANKLEY: No. Bush cut taxes, which is a big issue.
Let me try to answer your question, just for a moment, because you asked me who benefits, Schwarzenegger or Bush. I think Bush potentially -- it's potential -- can benefit a lot more than Schwarzenegger. He can't deliver that much to Schwarzenegger. He can't get that much out of Congress. If he gives something to California, he's got to give it to --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's Schwarzenegger going to do for Bush?
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, if Schwarzenegger succeeds -- which is a question, obviously, he's got a huge challenge -- but if he succeeds, I think he puts California plausibly in play. Also, he and McClintock together got 40 percent of the Latino vote, which is the biggest Republican piece of Latino vote we've ever seen. If that's at all transferable, Bush had done traditionally well with the Latino vote in Texas, it turns the Latino vote into a swing vote rather than a block vote for the Democrats. So there's a lot of up-side potential, but only if Schwarzenegger is able to deliver.
I think, by the way, that the full package that Schwarzenegger's going to put forward is not just going to be budget cuts and programmatic changes; it's going to include a ballot initiative to change the California Constitution, and this is going to be about a six-month process of getting to a fairly a historic reform of California.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Schwarzenegger has an indomitable, an invincible optimism about him. He is the opposite of defeatist. He believes everything can be accomplished. He is certainly welcome on the scene of political deadbeats around this country today. Am I right or wrong?
MR. BLANKLEY: Well --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, my point is the following. Is he putting a new face on Republicans, especially with Rudy Giuliani on the other coast? Is this a new era for Republicans? Neither one are the traditional prudes that are the admirers of Pat Buchanan and his thinking.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right? (Laughter.)
MR. BUCHANAN: No, they're not, John
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: These are quasi-libertarian and conservative on the financial side, and they're small "d" democratic on the Republican side, on the other side.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: They are what we used to call moderate Republicans. That kind of Republican was never able to make it through the primary process in the Republican Party in California, and so the kinds of candidates that they had were just polarizing and opposite to the vast bulk of the California voters. If he demonstrates that he can succeed in that sense, I think he will make it possible for the Republican Party in California to be pragmatic rather than ideological. In that sense, I think there is a change. But I don't agree that it's the economy, as Pat describes it, that is the problem. He has got a huge problem there that is going to make it very difficult for him to succeed. The budget deficit is already $8 billion. He wants to remove the car tax; it will raise it to $12 billion.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's not his biggest problem. His biggest problem is the people he has to work with.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's not the only problem. They have to work with him, too. But in addition to that, there's another $12 billion of deficit that they basically used accounting gimmicks to roll over. So he's got a 20-plus billion dollar deficit to deal with.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah. But the point about the political --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: And if he is going to cut programs, that's going to be almost impossible. And to raise taxes is going to raise hackles in that state.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: My question for you is this. If your friends out there, the Democrats in Sacramento, choose to be obstructionist, don't you think that would be ruinous for them?
MS. CLIFT: I think the expectations for Arnold actually governing are low, and he can blame everything on Gray Davis and the obstructionist Democrats. And frankly, it's a bit disconcerting to watch all the Kennedys swarming around him. This was --
MS. CLIFT: Well, I guess family ties are --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why is it disconcerting? Why is it disconcerting?
MS. CLIFT: It's disconcerting because --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let her talk. Let her talk.
MS. CLIFT: Well, let me finish. Because the message seems to be he's Republican with a wink. And frankly, that may be the new politics. He's pro-choice, he's pro-affirmative action --
MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly.
MS. CLIFT: -- he's pro-gun control. I don't think he's the wave of the Republican Party, but --
MR. BUCHANAN: He's got an advisers list that looks like Noah's Ark. You know, he's got everybody on there, from Willie --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who's he got from San Francisco?
MR. BUCHANAN: -- Willie Brown up there, he's got Tammy Bruce in there.
MR. BLANKLEY: And Susan Estrich.
MR. BUCHANAN: He's got Susan Estrich in there, Bill Simon in there.
MR. BLANKLEY: But he's also got David Dreier, very solid.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on.
MR. BUCHANAN: But Mort ultimately is right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is your point?
MR. BUCHANAN: Mort is right --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's your point about the Noah's Ark?
MR. BUCHANAN: Look, it's unworkable. Mort is right, he's got an insoluble economic problem. If all he's going to do is cut, he is going to have to slash education, courts, unbelievably. This is a $24 billion --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's right.
MR. BLANKLEY: One quick thought. One quick thought. Noah's Ark worked; we still have all the animals here. (Laughter.)
MR. BUCHANAN: They're going to throw some of these animals out! (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. Now, the Democratic spin is George Bush better work out because what happened to Arnold Schwarzenegger in California is an anti-incumbency swing that is across the nation. So it's curtains for Bush because Bush will be out with a lot of other incumbents. That's the spin they're putting on it. What do you think of that?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think it's nonsense. It really was an enormous degree of hostility to Gray Davis. Gray Davis, he had a 25 percent approval rating in that state. They hated him from the last movie, as they say in Arnold Schwarzenegger-world. The fact is that 85 percent of voters had made up their mind before the whole business with Arnold Schwarzenegger --
MS. CLIFT: They hated him for a reason.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you saying --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes. They did hate him for a reason; he was a very bad governor.
MS. CLIFT: They hated him for a reason, the economy. The economy.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Not just the economy. He was raising money from every lousy group in that state.
MR. BLANKLEY: I want --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I mean, if politics is the second-oldest profession --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. I want to talk about winners and losers.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to talk about winners and losers. It's time.
Give me a winner.
MR. BUCHANAN: A winner? Darrell Issa was father of the recall. He goes down with Howard Jarvis. He's a winner. Bill Simon is a winner from this thing.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But Arnold got the brass ring. The $2 million is down the drain.
MR. BUCHANAN: Yes, Arnold is a winner. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And you call Issa a winner under those circumstances?
MR. BUCHANAN: He's the father of this thing.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Give me a true winner.
MS. CLIFT: Well, Maria Shriver, because she delivered that victory to her husband.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Good point.
MS. CLIFT: If she hadn't stood up with him, he would never have overcome those last-minute charges.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And by standing by her man the way she did, she's clearly one-upped Hillary Clinton; yes or no?
MS. CLIFT: There are a lot of Kennedy women in that tradition, John.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Give me another --
MS. CLIFT: (Inaudible) -- another role model.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Give me another winner. Give me a winner.
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, I --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Shall I help you out?
MR. BLANKLEY: No. I actually want to use this question to get back to the last one. The winner is the passionate American. I think that the argument that this was against all incumbents is not valid, but it catches a piece of truth. Whether it's Howard Dean's support, whether it's Arnold Schwarzenegger's support, there's a lot of passionate emotion in the American electorate. How it directs itself in the next election cycle is going to be key to a lot of -- (inaudible).
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's talk losers now. The first loser is Bill Clinton, true or false?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Oh, I don't think Bill Clinton's a loser on this. I mean --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: His magic is gone.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: His magic is gone --
MR. BUCHANAN: Oh, come on! (Laughter.)
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I don't think his magic --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He couldn't rally the Democrats.
MR. BUCHANAN: Listen, he rallied the black vote like nobody I've ever seen. People said he's at the top of his game --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They stayed at home, Pat. They stayed at home!
MR. BUCHANAN: They stayed at home, but he is at the top of his game.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clinton is impotent.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: There's one other winner, and that's the California voter. Look, this thing started off as a circus; I mean, a parody of a Hollywood movie, and it ended up where there was a clear choice, the election went well, the California voters made a decisive decision. I think that was a clear --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Give me another loser! Give me another loser! I want names, names!
MR. BUCHANAN: The L.A. Times -- the Los Angeles Times is the big loser from this.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Ah! True.
MR. BUCHANAN: The hit piece on Arnold, it backfired. The media are the loser and the L.A. Times.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Don't you think that also rubs off onto Gray Davis, when he was talking about prosecution in connection with the groping?
MR. BLANKLEY: Let me suggest one thing.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, Davis is finished. Obviously, he's a loser.
MR. BLANKLEY: Let me give you --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I mean, doesn't that really -- doesn't that really leave a real stigma, not only on the L.A. Times, but on the Democrats -- (inaudible).
MR. BLANKLEY: Let me give you --
MR. BUCHANAN: Puke campaigns --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute!
MR. BUCHANAN: Puke campaigns are a loser.
MR. BLANKLEY: Let me just --
MS. CLIFT: This is how journalism is put together, with a seven- week investigation piece.
MR. BUCHANAN: I know! (Laughter.)
MS. CLIFT: And for you guys to sit around and kill the messenger belies where you come from -- (inaudible) -- you make.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about Barbra Streisand, your friend Barbra? Was she a loser?
MS. CLIFT: I don't think she was a loser. I think the women's groups who stand up for sexual harassment is a serious issue -- (inaudible) -- took a hit.
MR. BLANKLEY: John, there's one other loser that I want to get to.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who was that?
MR. BLANKLEY: The one other loser is high ethical and moral standards.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is this? A sermon? (Laughter.)
MR. BLANKLEY: First Clinton, and then Schwarzenegger --
MR. BUCHANAN: Yep.
MR. BLANKLEY: -- and now we figure that what you do in your private life sexually doesn't matter. I think that's a loser for the American people.
MR. BUCHANAN: I think it is, too.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Arianna Huffington, a loser.
MR. BLANKLEY: She was a loser before she got in it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Point -- 0.6 percent of the vote.
MR. BUCHANAN: She's perfect --
MS. CLIFT: Yeah. She emerges with more speaking engagements and a higher profile. She is not a loser. (Laughs.)
MR. BLANKLEY: She doesn't need the money.
MR. BUCHANAN: But she was the perfect foil for Arnold. She did as much for Arnold as anyone, except for Maria Shriver.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Ken Khachigian, your pal, fellow speechwriter in the Nixon years. A loser.
MR. BUCHANAN: He was with the wrong guy out there.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He was with the wrong guy -- (chuckling) -- that's called a loser, Pat. (Laughter.)
Exit: Should Schwarzenegger's breathtaking win -- get this -- should his breathtaking win make Bush worried, or make Bush happy?
MR. BUCHANAN: It should make him pensive. He should think about what Tony's talking about -- (laughter) -- which is there is a potential populist revolution out there in the country that neither party has tapped.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. All right.
MS. CLIFT: The electorate is volatile, and neither party is comfortable with that. And the president especially, I think, should be nervous.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?
MR. BLANKLEY: Oh, look: election night, every Republican I saw out had a smile on their face; every Democrat had a frown. This is good news for Republicans, generally, and for Bush.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you remember what happened with Jerry Brown and Mike Curb.
MR. BLANKLEY: Yes. Mike Curb was lieutenant governor. He had done a commercial for --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He was from a different party.
MR. BLANKLEY: He was a Republican.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What did Jerry Brown -- what did Mike Curb do, who was a Republican, when the Democrat Jerry Brown -- we're talking 1980 --
MR. BLANKLEY: He had constitutional ability to --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And Jerry Brown would leave California, what would Mike Curb do?
MR. BUCHANAN: Appoint judges! (Laughs.)
MR. BLANKLEY: He could take over as temporary governor, under the Constitution --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And then what would he do?
MR. BLANKLEY: -- and then he could make appointments if he wanted, which meant that Jerry Brown couldn't leave the state.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, it was a circus, was it not?
MR. BUCHANAN: He was appointing judges!
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that going to happen now with Bustamante and with --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: No. I don't think so. Davis is in as deep a hole as you can get. I don't think he wants to dig any deeper.
MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: And I also will say to you that, I mean, you cannot be unhappy when your own party takes over the largest state in the union.
MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I mean, I don't know why you think Bush is going to be unhappy. Quite the opposite.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Because of the anti-incumbency drift that's in the country.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Look --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There are various uprising going on. The --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Arnold Schwarzenegger can campaign for Bush all around the country in 2004.
MS. CLIFT: They didn't --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: At a certain point, the California electorate decided that Davis was through.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And what you have to do at that point, before it becomes finalized, is savage the opposition. He tried that, and it didn't work.
In the instance of Karl Rove, the question is, at what point are the American people -- in the light of what's going on with the economy and what's going on in Iraq, are going to reach the point, as the polls are now indicating, whether they will be verified or not -- but the problem he has to face is, are they going to reach a point where they have decided that he has to go and anybody but Bush will do? Because that's what happened with Sacramento.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This was more of a win owing to the distaste for Sacramento than for the popularity of Schwarzenegger. Is that true or false?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, no, I -- not just a distaste for Sacramento --
MS. CLIFT: Yeah.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- but the distaste for Gray Davis, who is one of the least popular governors imagined. Bush is not that unpopular --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I understand, but it was part of the gestalt of the Sacramento and monied interests taking over from the government.
MS. CLIFT: Right --
MR. BUCHANAN: John, John, there's 45 percent --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Listen, if Iraq goes down the toilet and if the economy goes down the toilet, I mean, no doubt Bush is going to be in trouble.
MS. CLIFT: (Chuckles.) Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You asked me why. I said that this is not altogether good news.
MS. CLIFT: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It has to be, as Pat said, pensively analyzed.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, 45 --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We'll do that now, when I say this. When we come back: Did the White House recall one of its own?
MS. CLIFT: Right. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two: Rumsfeld recalled.
California may not have had the only recall this week. In a bolt out of the blue, the president of the United States recalled the control of the rebuilding of Iraq from the Pentagon to the West Wing. The rebuilding reins were wrested from the Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's iron grip and handed over to the National Security Council. Rumsfeld had no consultation role, no heads-up, whereas other Cabinet officials and the press were both informed of the reorganization through a one-page memo from National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice.
After the news broke, Secretary Rumsfeld was interviewed by the Financial Times. "Rumsfeld sought to portray it" -- the memo -- "as a reiteration of existing policy and seemed perturbed that Ms. Rice had decided to draw attention to the memo by 'backgrounding' the media." Rumsfeld said, "I don't know quite what the purpose of the backgrounding was. She gave a background, she said what she said, and the way I read the memorandum is that it is basically what the responsibility of the National Security Council is and always has been, which is what's been going on. Unfortunately, it's a classified memo. It shouldn't be; there's nothing in it that's classified."
Rice will now supervise a new Iraq Stabilization Group. Four of her deputies will oversee four areas of Iraq reconstruction, the focus of the stabilization group: one, counterterrorism efforts; two, communications, clear messages to the media; three, economic development, including physical rebuilding; four, political affairs.
This reorganization shake-up coincides with a massive White House PR push to convince the public that invading Iraq was not a mistake.
The White House denies Rumsfeld's role has been reduced.
It is a smart move to take control of Iraq policy inside the White House, Tony Blankley?
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, it should have been better coordinated on the White House/Washington side from the beginning. This is an admission -- and timely; I think it's good they've made it -- that they don't have a clear chain of command on the Washington side. You don't have a clear chain of command in the civilian part of our Iraqi management. So there have to be some changes, and this is going to be part of an ongoing bureaucratic struggle.
The fact that Condi Rice has been given this responsibility doesn't mean she's going to be able to hold it. She's going to fight bureaucratically with the likes of Colin Powell, Rumsfeld, Tenet, all of these players, and it'll be interesting to see whether she can win that battle.
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, this is --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on, Eleanor. Let me put this question to you again. It is a smart move, smart politics, smart thinking to move the Iraq nation-building projects inside the White House?
MR. BUCHANAN: No, it's not, and it was also handled very badly. I don't care --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But who's -- my point is, who takes the rap if it doesn't work now?
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, exactly.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's right there in the White House.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, exactly.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And the president --
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, let me respond to this.
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, the president's always going to take the rap.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, no, no, no.
MR. BLANKLEY: This election is going to --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He should have a buffer. He had Rumsfeld as a buffer.
MR. BLANKLEY: He can't have a buffer.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, let talk to this.
MR. BLANKLEY: Wait a second. This next election is going to be a referendum on whether the public judges the president's performance in Iraq to be good or bad. And he's going to be responsible, so he might as well get the reins in his hand.
MS. CLIFT: Right. Yeah.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, let me get my answer in here. Look, it was the wrong thing to do to Rumsfeld. You don't humiliate a Cabinet officer in public like that. It was totally unnecessary.
Secondly, he should have civilian side at State and the military side at the Pentagon. You always want to be able to dump somebody if the policy fails.
MS. CLIFT: Well --
MR. BUCHANAN: You do not bring it right into the White House so visibly, because now they blame the White House.
MS. CLIFT: Well, look, Rumsfeld has humiliated plenty of ranking people in his time, so watching him take a little minor hit publicly doesn't bother me at all.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You want to make another point? Hold on.
MS. CLIFT: Secondly, they're not going to fire Rumsfeld or dump him overboard or use him as a scapegoat. He's here until the 2004 election.
And thirdly, Condi Rice is not going to be able to bigfoot Rumsfeld or Cheney or anybody else.
MR. BUCHANAN: I don't think --
MS. CLIFT: But you know who else resides in the White House? Karl Rove. And he's going to worry about Iraq policy, and his worry is, he wants it off the front page.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, he can't get it off --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What precipitated all of this? Shall I tell you?
MR. BUCHANAN: The Hill.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Hill. Why?
MR. BUCHANAN: The Republicans in Congress are all anti-Rumsfeld, and everybody up there is out to get Rumsfeld, and Bush is responding to the party here.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'll tell you what has precipitated this, and that is the extraordinary engorgement of Iraq with huge sums of money and the fact that we are in the war-profiteering worry phase. We are in a gold rush, and that is why they want to get control, because Bremer can't do it alone with some military.
MR. BUCHANAN: It's perception -- you're --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The military are now in charge of the nation- building.
MR. BUCHANAN: But you are correct --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And so they have to get it away from Rumsfeld and move it into some committee, to get control --
MS. CLIFT: Wait a second. What do you mean "get control" --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- of these contracts, which were single- sourced.
MR. BUCHANAN: You are correct --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's what's behind it.
MS. CLIFT: Well --
MR. BUCHANAN: You are correct about perceptions, John, but the reality is, frankly -- and I wasn't pro-war -- you got to have that $20 billion in there. It's going to cost a lot more if you even have a hope of winning this.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm talking about the distribution of that and the contracting for it --
MR. BLANKLEY: Wait --
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, it's called --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and whether or not there is war profiteering in the making.
MR. BUCHANAN: Wait, wait --
MS. CLIFT: It's called crony capitalism.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And unquestionably it's a worry, as we will see next week and we saw a little bit this past week.
MS. CLIFT: It's called crony capitalism, and it's the reason that Halliburton has such a huge role in Iraq --
MR. BLANKLEY: Wait --
MS. CLIFT: -- and several former Bush allies have a company. They formed a company, headed by the former friend of Bush --
MR. BUCHANAN: Joe Allbaugh.
MS. CLIFT: -- Joe Allbaugh. That is crony capitalism, (and they should reap ?) contracts in Iraq.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: What does -- quick question -- quick answer on this. What does Rumsfeld have to do to regain command over Iraq nation-building, Pat Buchanan?
MR. BUCHANAN: I think he's still holding a measure of power. I think it's PR going into the White House.
MS. CLIFT: He doesn't even want nation-building. He only cares about the fighting part. He's never been interested in nation- building.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What does he have to do?
MR. BLANKLEY: When Bremer gets the $20 billion to spend -- Bremer reports up to Rumsfeld; that will be a big piece of the bureaucratic pie. By the way, I've just got to say it's a very flagrant (word ?), to use "war profiteering" at a point like this.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I said it's worry time. Worry time.
MR. BLANKLEY: You said "war profiteering."
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I didn't say it was there. I said it's worry time, and it is worry time.
MS. CLIFT: Use my phrase! (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: When you have that huge amount of money, when you have $20 billion.
MR. BLANKLEY: But it's a flagrant word to use, because it suggests illegality at a time of war.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I feel quite comfortable in making it, because it's happened before in our history.
What do you say?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: It has happened, but I don't agree with you on this. I actually think Rumsfeld is going to be the key player, no matter what. Nobody else has the infrastructure to work in Iraq, other than what the military has, and that's number one. If Rumsfeld had to do one thing, he should go back before the press the way he did during the war and during the war in Afghanistan, where he really established himself as a very different kind of political figure. And I think he's got the ability to do that. Why they have been so, frankly, inadequate in arguing their case for the $87 billion and for the $20 billion is a mystery to me. I think they've done a terrible job at that, and Rumsfeld is one of the people who can do that.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is that Rumsfeld has to catch Saddam Hussein. If he did that, he would get that dose of Red Bull that he needs. (Laughter.)
MR. ZUCKERMAN: (Inaudible.) I would agree with that.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We'll be right back with predictions.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Force predictions. There are about 140,000 troops in Iraq. At what time will 70,000, half of them, be out?
MR. BUCHANAN: May 1.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: May 1.
MS. CLIFT: Before the Republican Convention.
MR. BLANKLEY: An indefinite date after 2004.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Help me out. Give me a month.
MR. BLANKLEY: Sometime in 2005.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?
MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: A half next year, and a half in the year afterwards.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A half when next year?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Half by the summer of next year -- 35,000 will be out, and another 35,000 will be out --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: One-half will be out by June 2004.
Happy Columbus Day! Bye-bye!
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue three: Born to be wild.
SIEGFRIED FISCHBACHER (stage performer): (From videotape.) I realized, I thought, Roy's in danger. And the tiger took Roy by the neck and he pulled him back on stage.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Siegfried Fischbacher describes how his partner, internationally renowned big-cat trainer Roy Horn, was neck-mauled by a seven-year-old, 600-pound royal white tiger while performing in Las Vegas. But Siegfried and Roy aren't the only people with tiger troubles. A New York City SWAT team was on safari duty last week to take a 350-pound "pet" tiger out of an apartment in Harlem. Both events are proof that no matter how tame or domesticated wild pets might seem, these large animals -- tigers, lions, leopards, cheetahs, jaguars, cougars, alligators, bears -- always pose a threat to humans.
Twelve states currently ban possession of large, exotic pets. Seven states have partial bans. And a federal bill, the Captive Wildlife Safety Act, is now moving through the House and the Senate, banning the interstate commerce of exotic cats, thus stopping the spread of large pet ownership by people who are not trained to have them. All of these laws, of course, make exceptions for qualified professionals.
Would you vote for that act, Mort?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Absolutely not. I'm in favor of wild animals in everybody's apartment. (Laughter.) One in every apartment, as far as I'm concerned, is the way to do it!
No, this was crazy. I mean, they had a 400-pound-plus tiger in an apartment that was so small -- and they had a crocodile in the bloody bathtub, for goodness sakes! I mean, the whole thing was really insane.
MR. BUCHANAN: Did you see anybody --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: And nobody seemed to know about it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, suppose you had a farm, and you had plenty of room.
MR. BUCHANAN: Mort --
MR. BLANKLEY: Look, under common law, you're responsible for wild animals, so you don't need a law to outlaw keeping a tiger in an apartment.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Right.
MR. BLANKLEY: Now, I have a nice tennis court --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And how many peacocks do you have?
MR. BLANKLEY: I have five peacocks.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is a peacock an exotic animal?
MR. BLANKLEY: It's exotic, but it's not dangerous. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Would you like your right of ownership of a peacock to be interfered with?
Let me put this question to you. The casino that features Siegfried and Roy has already announced that Montecore the tiger, who attacked or saved Roy, will be kept at the casino's wildlife preserve on public view for an admission charge. Is this exploitation, do you think? Is it catering to a low taste to see a killer lion -- a killer tiger?
MR. BUCHANAN: No, well, Montecore -- he's not --
MR. BLANKLEY: He's not a killer.
MR. BUCHANAN: Montecore is not guilty of any malice, but he's not going to get a second shot at --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute. Montecore is innocent?
MR. BUCHANAN: He's not guilty of any malice. But I'll tell you this: Up in that Harlem apartment, that thing never got burglarized, did it, Mort?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: No.
MS. CLIFT: So keeping a tiger is better than a pit bull, if you're really paranoid! (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you know about the blue-haired, highly- bouffanted women in the front row that drew the attention of Montecore, who became transfixed by the hair style, and he went up to about three feet in front of them, and then Roy stood between Montecore and the women. Do you know about that story?
MS. CLIFT: Oh, I do, and the tiger evidently thought he was saving his trainer, and picked him up like a kitten to take him off stage.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Correct. Now, do you credit that? Do you credit it?
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, I think, as Pat said, the tiger is completely innocent, and I'm glad he's going to a nice retirement home.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think Montecore is innocent or guilty?
MR. BUCHANAN: Not guilty.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Not guilty?
MR. BUCHANAN: Not guilty. No motivation there, John, except -- (word inaudible).
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Meaning it is de facto. (Laughter.)
MR. ZUCKERMAN: For the tiger to be guilty, there had to be intent. And I don't know yet that we've established clear intent, never mind motivation.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was he trying to save Roy or attack Roy?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: We don't know! That's the interpretation --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, what do you think? Siegfried says he's trying to save him.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I believe he was trying to save him.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think he was trying to save him?
MR. BUCHANAN: Save him.
MR. BLANKLEY: I'm sure he was. I love the circus.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You are? You think he's innocent.
MR. BLANKLEY: Of course.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Shall we notify --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yeah! The jury has decided. We came up with a verdict of innocence.
MR. BUCHANAN: Five votes, "not guilty." (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Not guilty. The jury has --