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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP

HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN

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

TAPED: FRIDAY, DECEMBER 12, 2003
BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF DECEMBER 13-14, 2003

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THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.
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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: Checkmate.

ALBERT GORE (former U.S. vice president): (From videotape.) We need to remake the Democratic Party. We need to remake America. We need to take it back on behalf of the people of this country. (Cheers, applause.)

So I'm very proud and honored to endorse Howard Dean to be the next president of the United States of America. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Al Gore's blessing of former Vermont governor Howard Dean has electrified the Democratic race and helped cement Dean's status as the man to beat in the race to challenge President George Bush in next year's election. But Mr. Gore did much more than that at his rousing Harlem rally. He ripped open a long-simmering debate about the direction of the Democratic Party on the eve of an election season. Centrist Democrats loyal to former president Bill Clinton will now be openly pitted against the insurgents, led by Mr. Dean and Mr. Gore. They favor a return to the traditional liberal roots of the Democratic Party. The coveted Gore endorsement is just one more shot in the arm to an already hard-charging campaign.

Question: Why did Gore's endorsement stir such excitement? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: The drama of it first, John. It was totally unexpected by the punditocracy.

Secondly, it gives Dean a tremendous boost for the nomination even before a single vote has been cast.

Third, Al Gore has set himself up to be secretary of State in a Dean administration should he win.

Fourth, it's a declaration of independence by Dean (sic) of the Clintons. He has said basically -- excuse me -- of Gore of the Clintons. He has said -- Mr. Gore has basically said Dean is dead right on the war. The war will be not only an issue this year, but the war could be an issue in 2008.

I think Gore has set himself up to inherit the Dean estate the way Nixon inherited the Goldwater estate. After working his heart out for Goldwater in '64, we inherited the whole Goldwater estate in '68.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Would you call this huge?

MR. BUCHANAN: I would say this is really what Nixon would call a "big play" in politics. I think it was a master stroke by Al Gore.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MR. CLIFT: I agree with everything Pat says. And if Al Gore had shown this level of daring and political astuteness when he was running in 2000, he'd probably be president today. He doesn't supplant the Clintons as the dominant figure in the Democratic Party, but he certainly makes himself a player again.

And you're right, if Dean wins, he's set up to be a principal player in the next administration. If he doesn't, he commands the loyalty of the Deaniacs in 2008, potentially against Hillary Clinton.

It does expose a rift within the party between the back-to-basics opposition being a real opposition party and the split-the-difference centrists.

And this is something Al Gore wanted to do. This is the campaign he wishes he ran. And if you listen to Dean on the war, it's exactly what Al Gore has been saying.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who will Clinton endorse, Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: Which Clinton? (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Bill.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Very good.

MR. BLANKLEY: He'll endorse the winner. Look. I agree -- this is going to be very genial. I agree with both Pat and Eleanor, largely.

On one point, I disagree. I don't think, if Gore is being shrewd -- and I think this has been a shrewd play so far -- he really expects to be able to be the nominee in 2008. He's already lost. Neither party goes to a loser too often. He will then have backed the --

MS. CLIFT: He won. He won in 2000. You've forgotten. (Laughs.)

(Cross-talk.)

MR. BLANKLEY: He's not currently president. And if Dean loses, he'll have backed a loser. So that not having won the presidency -- in law -- and having backed a loser, he's not likely to be turned to. But I do think he makes himself a much bigger player in the whole leftward moving center of gravity of the Democratic Party. It's a big event.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the ideological impact on Dean of the Gore endorsement?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, I mean, I think it strengthens all the tendencies you've already seen, but particularly his hostility to the war. I mean, this, it seems to me, is the central issue that Gore, in a sense, found in Dean that --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Where does Gore's endorsement move Dean to?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Oh, I don't think it has to move Dean to anything. If anything, it will move him -- and with all due respect, I think that Gore in the year 2000, when he selected Lieberman as his vice presidential candidate, and when he took a much more populist stance than really what was a part of the Clinton administration, was moving to the left than the centrist --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I clearly --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: And I think Dean will go in that direction.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I clearly have to answer my own question. It moves Dean to the mainstream of the Democratic Party.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Not ideologically.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, yes it does.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Not ideologically.

MR. BLANKLEY: No, not --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If Gore likes him, it suggests to the viewer who does not know about Dean's background that Dean is mainstream.

MR. BUCHANAN: John -- MR. ZUCKERMAN: Perception is --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes or no?

MR. BUCHANAN: The establishment is moving to Dean. Dean looks very strong here. He didn't give up a single position, and the establishment man came to him. It helps them both.

MS. CLIFT: Well, he --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm talking about perception. I'm telling you it moves Gore (sic) to the ideological center. Dean, rather.

MR. BUCHANAN: In perception, it says Dean is okay as the presidential nominee. It does give him the benediction of the titular leader of the party.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does it blunt the administration effort to portray Dean as a loony liberal?

MS. CLIFT: Yeah. To people around the country, they see this as a blessing from somebody who did get more votes than George W. Bush.

MR. BLANKLEY: Look. Look.

MS. CLIFT: And specifically, specifically it helps him in Iowa. And if he can defeat Gephardt in Iowa --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: As we've seen already.

MS. CLIFT: -- Gephardt is a human speed bump, nothing else, in Iowa.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's 19 points ahead of Gephardt in Iowa now.

MS. CLIFT: Right. And it helps with African Americans, who really love Al Gore.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I have a question for you. Is this not a shield for Dean? Is Gore not a shield for Dean?

MR. BLANKLEY: Of course. Gore is providing a blazed path for rank-and-file Democrats to go into the Dean camp. But I agree that in fact Gore is moving the establishment to Dean, not Dean to the establishment. Gore has not only been moving left for years, but --

MR. BUCHANAN: It helps in the Democratic Party, but not in the general.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let him finish.

MR. BUCHANAN: Not in the general. It doesn't help with (Republicans ?). It makes him okay in the Democratic Party. It's not going to save Dean from what's coming from George Bush.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Has Gore legitimized Dean? I think you said yes.

MR. BUCHANAN: Inside the Democratic Party, yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you agree to that?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, absolutely.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is immense. It's immense.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Of course it is. It's the biggest step for Dean imaginable. Nobody even -- and tactically, it was brilliant politically for both Gore and for Dean. He nourished Gore all the way along when everybody else ignored Gore.

MR. BLANKLEY: And Gore is exactly the right establishment figure to endorse him. Because he's anti-war, because he's been running a more populist message, starting with the 2000 convention, it doesn't upset Dean true believers because he is not a conventional centrist guy. He is kind of on the edgy, left-center of the Democratic voters now.

MS. CLIFT: And Howard Dean isn't a conventional liberal, either, which is another dirty little secret that will eventually come out. (Laughs.)

MR. BUCHANAN: John, it would be like Nixon, before the primaries began between Goldwater and Rockefeller, coming out and endorsing Barry Goldwater.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exactly. Or it would be like Rockefeller endorsing Reagan in 1980. Because Gore is the consummate establishment figure.

MR. BUCHANAN: Rockefeller was dead by 1980, was he not?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Oh, picky, picky, picky, picky. (Laughter.)

MS. CLIFT: Yeah! Then his endorsement really would help!

MR. BUCHANAN: He was dumped by Ford in '76! (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: My point is that an establishment figure, and the ultimate establishment figure is Gore, endorsing Dean, the insurgent. Insurgent.

MR. BUCHANAN: It would be like Ford endorsing Reagan in '80.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: And a dead Rockefeller, now that would be a story, in 1980!

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was Rockefeller dead in 1980? When did he die?

MR. BUCHANAN: He died between the time he dropped out as vice president, was which late '75 and 1980.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: He was -- (off mike) -- at the time, wasn't he?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, exit question, does Gore --

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.) Let's not go into that!

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: My point is still valid. Do you understand the point -- an establishment Democrat in this instance? Does Gore's endorsement put to rest the question about whether Dean is viable in a general election?

Yes or no?

Pat Buchanan?

MR. BUCHANAN: No. It helps him in the Democratic Party. It does nothing in the general.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't think it puts that --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Oh, no, I don't agree with that. It does help him in the general.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, wait, wait. This is an exit question.

MS. CLIFT: His rivals are going after him and claiming he's not electable. There's still going to be a "Stop Dean" movement. But this is a 50-50 country. Dean has excited the electorate. And I think we're in for a very competitive race.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you say?

MR. BLANKLEY: Anyone who's got the nomination of a major party is, almost by definition, viable. I still think he's got a long row to hoe -- Dean. But once he gets the Democratic nomination, obviously, he's a viable candidate.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Ah, this transforms him within the Democratic Party. And, frankly, it helps him in the country at large. Look at the headlines. It was an extraordinary story for Dean and an extraordinary political coup.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think it does exactly what I said it did. I disagree with you, Pat. (Laughter.)

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, Dean is behind 2 to 1 in New Hampshire, 57 to 30. How much did it help?

MS. CLIFT: Well, New Hampshire always votes Republican --

(Cross talk.)

MR. BUCHANAN: Not necessarily I think Clinton carried it. Clinton carried it, I believe, in '92, didn't?

MR. BLANKLEY: That's right. Clinton carried it twice.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but we've got a year to got and we've got a lot of uncertainty in the economy and a lot of uncertainty in Iraq. So let's let this play out.

MR. BUCHANAN: I'll tell you why you're wrong, John. Everybody knows when Dean is nominated, Clinton -- both Clintons will be with him, Lieberman, everybody --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Everybody.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- maybe not Lieberman. Everybody will endorse him. He was going to get those endorsements anyhow. This helps him now inside the Democratic Party running for the nomination --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think it makes him viable to everybody in their perception.

When we come back: Has the Pentagon derailed international cooperation on funding and manpower in Iraq?

(Announcements.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I remember when Rockefeller died -- 1979. You pulled the rug out from under me unnecessarily.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two: Risky business.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: (From videotape.) It's very simple; our people risked their lives, coalition -- friendly coalition folks risked their lives, and therefore, the contracting is going to reflect that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The contracting President Bush refers to is the $18.6 billion in U.S.-funded contracts to rebuild Iraq and Mr. Bush's decision to exclude countries that opposed the Iraq war from bidding on those contracts.

U.S. allies are outraged. "This decision is extremely unhelpful, taking account of the fact that there is now a general acknowledgement by the international community on the need to work together for prosperity and democracy in Iraq. It's necessary to bring the willing together, not divide them." That's how the European Union's foreign minister, the esteemed Chris Patten, blasts the Bush decision.

The decision means 26 contracts for rebuilding Iraq's public works, electricity, communications, transportation and oil sectors and equipping a new Iraqi army will be limited to companies from the countries considered coalition partners, and denied to countries, like France, Germany and Russia, that are home to some of the most gifted architects, engineers, scientists and technicians in the world.

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz argues that the action will, quote, "encourage the expansion of international cooperation," unquote.

Got that? Well, Germany doesn't seem so encouraged to cooperate, calling the U.S. plan "unacceptable." And Russia says: Forget about the U.S. idea of debt forgiveness for Iraq. Count us out.

The action has reopened wounds from the war that had appeared to be healing, and raised new charges that the U.S. may be violating its WTO international trade obligations.

PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape.) International law? I better call my lawyer. He didn't bring that up to me.

(Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: If the United States were to share in contracts with the French, with the Germans and with the Russian companies, would that encourage them to shoulder more of the burden? I ask you, Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Absolutely not. I mean, they -- not one of them contributed a sou at the donors' conference when we were committing all that money to Iraq. I wouldn't give five cents to France. Germany is willing to help out. They didn't -- wouldn't come in and said the only thing that Germany's willing to help on is debt restructuring. I think it's an outrage. It's our money. We put our lives at risk and our money at risk, and we want it to give to these countries who opposed us up, down and sideways? I'm totally in favor of what the president did.

MS. CLIFT: Well, that's really knee-jerk "America first" redneck thinking. I mean, it's really extraordinary when you try --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well --

(Cross talk.)

MR. BUCHANAN: (Inaudible) -- Mort. (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: That's what it -- that's who it plays to.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I don't know -- it doesn't --

MS. CLIFT: That's who it plays to. You know, we went over there --

(Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let her finish.

MS. CLIFT: Excuse me. We went over there and we shed the blood, and therefore, you know, no -- we --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: But it's our money.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, it's our burden, too.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's right.

MS. CLIFT: We need help from other countries. And to stick a finger in the eye of the allies -- and frankly, Canada's one of the excluded countries, and they're carrying a burden in Afghanistan. We caused them the first combat casualties they've had since World War II, in a friendly-fire incident. And we have the nerve to tell them they haven't done enough.

MR. BLANKLEY: Look --

MS. CLIFT: That Wolfowitz memo should be called the Halliburton Relief Act. You feel better because Halliburton is gouging American taxpayers while excluding foreign countries --

(Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to make sure -- before you do that, I will address this question to you, but I want you to listen to this.

MR. BLANKLEY: (Inaudible.) (Chuckles among group members.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Once French and German and Russian companies have a stake in Iraq, they will pressure their governments to contribute more to the security solution and long-term stability of the country. Call it dollar diplomacy. We can lure them in with greenbacks, and in the long run, we gain more than it costs us to share the spoils. Why can't you accept that logic?

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, there's nothing wrong with the logic. It shouldn't apply to this first tranche of $18.6 billion. There are going to be future contracts. We've established the principle this time that if you're not with us at the beginning, you're not going to get in, in the beginning.

Now if they've learned their lesson, if they want to start making some contributions, if they want to start reducing the debt that they hold, then in the next round of our expenditures -- and there are going to be many more rounds -- perhaps we can.

But there's a fundamental principle here. Mort explained it exactly right. And it would be outrageous if we violated that principle.

MR. BUCHANAN: He's exactly right. Here's what -- look, this is the opening negotiating position by Bush, which is, we got all the contracts; you guys are completely cut out.

Now Baker's gone abroad, and he's got to tell the French, the Germans and the Russians, "You're going to have to eat $125 billion in loans. You're not going to get paid back, anyhow." They'll say, "What do we get if we do it?" And at that point, I think you're going to see some movement. My guess is, this is going to be -- they got -- they can do the subcontracts. I think that's going to happen.

Mort is exactly right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think --

MR. BUCHANAN: What would the American people that -- we lost all those guys over there, we know what the French did, we know what the Germans did -- if he -- if the president came out and said, "We're going to -- however, we're going to open all the contracts to these guys," there would be a firestorm of protest.

MS. CLIFT: The French and the Germans were right. This was an elective war that the president undertook --

MR. BUCHANAN: All right. Fine. They didn't join us, and that's fine.

MR. BLANKLEY: Then let them stay -- let them stay there and be right.

MS. CLIFT: And now he wants people to bail him out, but he's not willing to make any economic or political trade-offs. That guarantees the isolation of this country --

MR. BUCHANAN: They've got to come first. They've got to come to him.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Our question --

MR. BLANKLEY: The French will never bail (us out, as well as ?) the other way around.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Exactly right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Excuse me. Excuse me. Excuse me. A question: Does it undercut Baker's mission?

MS. CLIFT: Absolutely.

MR. BUCHANAN: Sure. But Baker can say, "Look, you guys want to get in on the contracts. I got a hard-line president. You got to give me something. That's exactly --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that a head of state --

MR. BUCHANAN: He can --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think a head of state, with all of this knowledge out there already, all of this press, is then going to go for the crumblings of a contract?

MR. BUCHANAN: John, it's perfect negotiation --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This should all have been done behind the scenes in a smoke-filled room.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's right.

MR. BUCHANAN: Bush is the mean cop. Bush is the mean --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It would be too embarrassing for any of these governments to come forward now.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, Bush is the mean cop, and Baker is the good cop.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is a --

MR. BUCHANAN: Baker says, "I'll turn him around if you do this."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This was a blunder, pure and simple.

MS. CLIFT: Absolutely.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm amazed at you -- a redneck flying down in your (Hawker ?). (Laughter.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Hey, I'm going for the redneck vote.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: What can I tell you?

Let me just tell you something. I -- this --

MS. CLIFT: The macho man vote. Maybe that's what I should have said.

MR. BLANKLEY: (Off mike) -- vote. (Laughter.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The one thing I will say is that you cannot take 18 -- which was such a controversial thing anyhow in our own political system, even before this, and end up helping the French, who were totally opposed to everything we did.

MS. CLIFT: It doesn't help the French. It helps us.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So what? We want --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: They still haven't done anything. The French aren't going to do anything for us. They've stated it over and over and over --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You are so blinded --

MS. CLIFT: Oh, come on. The French have been solid allies for a long time.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You are so blinded by your redneck vengeance --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Macho!

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- that you fail to see that this leverage that can be exerted over the French by their contractors, over the French government --

MR. BUCHANAN: But John, you don't --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- once they are in, will bring peace, will --

MR. BUCHANAN: John, you give away your -- you're giving away the benefits before you've got any of them.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, baloney, you're giving it away!

MR. BUCHANAN: You haven't got anything from them.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're not giving away -- you've got to get the companies in there, so they can exert their pressure on the government.

MR. BUCHANAN: Oh, for heaven's sakes. That's not the way you negotiate.

MS. CLIFT: But Iraq is a mess, and I don't understand why we keep -- want to hoard whatever it is to ourselves. We desperately need the help of the world. (Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, you are biting off your nose to spite your face.

Exit: Is Bush's punitive policy on Iraq reconstruction contracts, A, farsighted, or B, shortsighted, Pat Buchanan?

MR. BUCHANAN: America first. Correct-sighted.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Correct-sighted.

MS. CLIFT: Shortsighted. It isolates us further in the world when we need the help of the world to help us shoulder this incredible burden that Bush has gotten us involved with.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: Demonstrates moral clarity.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Moral clarity? Therefore, farsighted.

MR. BLANKLEY: Farsighted. Honorable.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The one thing that it could have -- that we could have done is to find a way to hive Russia off from France and Germany on these -- this issue. That much I will say. But fundamentally, I think it's the correct decision.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think it's neither. I think it's tunnel vision. He has been unable to take his eyes off the slights that he feels were inflicted upon him at the United Nations and by the French, Germans and the Russians, and failed to see that he can buy with dollars the leverage that he needs in order to get them back into the act and when he needs badly.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, as Wolfowitz said --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's anti-internationalism, and he needs internationalism more than anything else.

MR. BUCHANAN: As Wolfowitz said --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue three: Tilting towards --

MR. BUCHANAN: As Wolfowitz said, let Baker work it out, John. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue three: Tilting towards China.

PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape.) Mr. Premier, members of the delegation, it is my honor to welcome you to the White House.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It was red-carpet time for Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao as President Bush welcomed him to the White House with a full- blown South Lawn ceremony, an inspection of the honor guard and a 19- gun salute.

But pomp and circumstance was not the only thing the Chinese premier got during the trip. He got something perhaps unprecedented from an American president: a public rebuke of Taiwan.

PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape.) We oppose any unilateral decision by either China or Taiwan to change the status quo. And the comments and actions made by the leader of Taiwan indicate that he may be willing to make decisions unilaterally that change the status quo, which we oppose.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The unilateral action Mr. Bush refers to is the referendum urged by Taiwan's president, Chen Shui-bian, who wants his citizens to back his demand that China withdraw missiles targeted at Taiwan and that China publicly revoke its threat of using military force against Taiwan. This referendum idea infuriates mainland China and apparently rattles the Bush administration.

The president issued his rebuke on Tuesday. On Wednesday Taiwan's President Chen returned fire. Quote: "Taiwan people have the right to say loudly that they oppose missiles and are for democracy."

Exit question: Do you see this situation evolving so that the United States will have to go to war to protect Taiwan, Pat?

MR. BUCHANAN: No, I don't, but I think what the president did was brutal, insulting. It was a kowtow to Beijing. It was unnecessary. You can maintain our position without this gratuitous insult to a friend.

MS. CLIFT: Bush decides he needs more from China. He needs them on North Korea. He needs trade concessions. He criticized Clinton for calling China a strategic partner. When he was -- early in his administration, he was all pro-Taiwan. Now he's seen reality. He did what he had to do. It was pretty yellow-livered, though, I must say.

MR. BLANKLEY: The president made a mistake. He's created an ambiguity about whether we'll support Taiwan if Taiwan does something provocative by the judgment of the mainland, which is a big mistake that increases slightly the risk of war. On the other hand, I'm pretty confident that eventually the 7th Fleet would always stand in between.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Look, there's one thing that would absolutely impel Mainland China to go to war, and that is if Taiwan declares its independence. I've met with all the senior Chinese military for the last 15 years. Over and over again that's the one thing on which they're totally, totally committed to. That is the one thing that we --

(Cross-talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Bush was justified.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: It is -- I believe Bush was justified. And, frankly, this man is a politician who's behind in the polls and using this to try and get re-elected, and that's all it is.

MR. BUCHANAN: It was just a little plebiscite --

MR. BLANKLEY: But they weren't --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute! We've got to get out. We've got to get out.

MR. BLANKLEY: They weren't calling for independence.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Excuse me. Excuse me.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: It's going in that direction.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort is right. Mort is right. He's lurched into the truth.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Lurching for the truth? Whoa!

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The president has to stress that we are not going to defend Taiwan unconditionally. If they provoke war --

MR. BUCHANAN: But they didn't --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- then they're on their own.

MR. BUCHANAN: They didn't provoke anything. It's a little referendum --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A referendum that is sticking --

MR. BUCHANAN: -- that says please take your missiles down --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- their finger in the Chinese eye.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- the 500 missiles.

MR. BLANKLEY: The Chinese --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We are not going to send American --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: It goes beyond that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- youth over there to defend Taiwan.

MR. BUCHANAN: I agree with that, but they've got 500 missiles pointed at Taiwan --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That is a provocation. It is a provocation.

MR. BUCHANAN: They're just voting to say get them down.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We'll be back with predictions.

(Announcements.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Fourth prediction: Who wins Iowa? Pat?

MR. BUCHANAN: Dean.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: Yeah.

MR: BLAKELEY: Dean.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Gephardt.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: McLaughlin says Dean.

The McLaughlin Group joins in the shared grief over the passing of Illinois Democratic Senator Paul Simon -- a teacher, a congressman, a senator, and a statesman. His personal and public virtue was and will remain an example of America at its best.

Bye-bye.

END REGULAR SEGMENT; PBS SEGMENT FOLLOWS

PBS SEGMENT

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue four: Camera phone hang-up.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (From videotape.) People can take pictures of you at any place that you may be having a private meeting with someone and you never want that to come out.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Cell phones with built-in cameras. Sound like a fun idea? Wait until a picture of you in the public toilet shows up on the World Wide Web.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (From videotape.) Private detectives and jerks have always done this kind of thing, but this is just a new toy that can be placed in the hands of virtually everybody.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Some health spas have banned all cell phones because of the camera risk. Some camera phones also have voice recorders, another potential for privacy invasion. These features may threaten security too. Samsung manufactures camera phones, but their use is prohibited at Samsung's headquarters to thwart corporate espionage. Camera-phones are also banned at some military installations for security reasons.

But this technology does have real benefits. For example, a sex predator trying to lure a teen-age girl into a car: The girl quickly dials 911, then takes the quick picture with her camera phone; later the police make an arrest.

Then there's the trend towards phone-cam blogs -- people taking pictures of mundane moments or major news events and sharing them with the world moments later on websits like textamerica.com.

Is this hybrid technology popular? Well, worldwide, more phone cameras are sold than regular digital cameras. But that's not the case in the United States yet.

Question: Is the camera phone an infringement on one's right to privacy? I ask you, Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: I suppose so. Look, we no longer live in an age of privacy. Technology has driven privacy away. And while it's all horrible and regrettable, that's the world we're going to be living in. So I don't think the right even exists to privacy anymore.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We're going to reach a stage where everybody knows what everybody else is doing.

MR. BLANKLEY: It's going to be like the old times, before industrialization, living in a little village and everybody knew everybody's laundry. It will be that way again.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can't you make the argument that this is the democratization of surveillance? Three hundred pictures are taken in London every day by government and private surveillance cameras of every single person. Isn't it time to put that power in the hands of the little guy so that he can take pictures too, so we can have all of the politicians, the diplomats, the police, the media, right there? (Laughter.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The rednecks.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Laughter.) The rednecks and the billionaires and hawkers. What about that?

MS. CLIFT: I don't see this as a new threat to privacy, because you could take pictures of people with a little digital camera and you could scan it and send it over the Internet if you so chose. But I think you're going to see more signs up that picture-taking is forbidden. There's a sign in the Senate dining room that you can't take photographs. It went up after 9/11. I think it's so al Qaeda doesn't case the joint. And it's also so members of Congress don't get photographed stuffing their mouths with food. I --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me point out that it's only a question of time, with miniaturization, that a camera can be right here on your shirt button, that the lens can be here and it can be tied right to a camera. So people are going to know everything about everybody. So this has to be honest. But it is not necessarily bad, is it?

MR. BUCHANAN: The bureau's already got those cameras going. (Laughter.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: When my daughter's 13, I hope that I'll be able to have a little piece of equipment I could put behind her ear, give me total audiovisual surveillance over what she's doing. I said that to a friend of mine. He said, "Yeah, but just think of the jamming equipment she's going to have to have." (Laughter.)

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