Share

THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP

HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN

JOINED BY: LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, PATRICK BUCHANAN,
ELEANOR CLIFT AND TONY BLANKLEY

TAPED: THURSDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2003
BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF JANUARY 2-4, 2004
.STX


(C) COPYRIGHT 2003, FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC., 1919 M STREET, N.W., SUITE 220, WASHINGTON, D.C. 20036, USA. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. ANY REPRODUCTION, REDISTRIBUTION OR RETRANSMISSION IS EXPRESSLY PROHIBITED.

UNAUTHORIZED REPRODUCTION, REDISTRIBUTION OR RETRANSMISSION CONSTITUTES A MISAPPROPRIATION UNDER APPLICABLE UNFAIR COMPETITION LAW, AND FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC. RESERVES THE RIGHT TO PURSUE ALL REMEDIES AVAILABLE TO IT IN RESPECT TO SUCH MISAPPROPRIATION.

FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC. IS A PRIVATE FIRM AND IS NOT AFFILIATED WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. NO COPYRIGHT IS CLAIMED AS TO ANY PART OF THE ORIGINAL WORK PREPARED BY A UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE AS PART OF THAT PERSON'S OFFICIAL DUTIES.

FOR INFORMATION ON SUBSCRIBING TO FNS, PLEASE CALL JACK GRAEME AT 202-347-1400.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.
-------------------------

(Music: "Entry of the Gladiators")

ANNOUNCER: It's the 22nd Annual McLaughlin Group Year End Awards, 2003. Here's the master of ceremonies, John McLaughlin!

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Destined For Political Stardom In 2004. Patrick?

MR. BUCHANAN: I think with the Democrats ripping up Howard Dean, George Bush is going to win more than 40 states. It's going to be a landslide, smaller than Reagan and Nixon's but far bigger than anything his father ever won, for a second term.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: It's still a 50-50 country. I think we're going to have a close election no matter what.

Stardom? Howard Dean, who is likely to win the Democratic nomination. And whatever his eventual fate, he has revolutionized politics in this country through the Internet, bringing new people into the process. A quarter of his contributors over the Internet are under age 30. That's the future.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, "destined for political stardom" suggests it's a neophyte, not an old pro like Bush or Dean. I think Bill Frist, who, of course, is already Senate majority leader but is at the beginning of a really sensational career. He had an extraordinary session and I think he's going to be in contention for every job he'd want right to the top.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And he pulled off the pharmaceutical Medicare bill.

MR. BLANKLEY: Among many others, yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence?

MR. O'DONNELL: Tony's right, it's the Senate majority leader, but it's the Senate majority leader of the state of California, John Burton, whose name I couldn't get anyone to learn when the press believed we were creating a king named Schwarzenegger in California. John Burton has dictated the terms of the budget deal and will continue to tell Arnold Schwarzenegger how you govern California.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The envelope please, Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: I have it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Thank you for the envelope, Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: You're welcome.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's see what we have here today.

(Opening the envelope.) Johnny Carson, right? The best --

MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. BUCHANAN: Carnac, right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Carnac. Carnac the --

MR. BLANKLEY: -- the Magnificent.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is not the Carnac act, though. (Referring to the classic Johnny Carson comedy routine.) This is the show.

(Pulling the award announcement from the envelope.) Well. What do we have here? This is a side-pocket shot. The Most Destined For Political Stardom in 2004: Tom Reynolds, Republican congressman from New York, with a near-perfect ACU -- that's what, American Conservative Union? -- rating, now at the helm of the National Republican Congressional Committee, charged with electing Republicans to the House and thereby keeping control for the GOP.

Well, it was in the envelope, I guess I'll have to go with that. (Laughter.) Huh? Tom Reynolds.

MS. CLIFT: (Bell ringer ?).

MR. BUCHANAN: Shocking.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Shocking.

Okay. Destined For Political Oblivion. Pat?

MR. BUCHANAN: The Bush doctrine, whereby countries with evil dictators will not be allowed to get weapons of mass destruction. The Bush doctrine will be successfully defied by North Korea.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?

Eleanor?

MR. BUCHANAN: Nothing will happen to them.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: Good choice.

Mine is William Janklow, South Dakota's lone congressman, who will disappear behind bars for reckless driving that resulted in manslaughter.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: Ted Kennedy, I think, has come to the end of a brilliant legislative career. I think he's played out his hand. The evolution of how the Senate is moving, going to be picking up more Republican seats. I think obviously the name will remain, but his performance at the high level of Senate legislation has ended.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, he's from Massachusetts, like John Kerry. What is this, "Trash Massachusetts Month"?

MR. BLANKLEY: It's not my choice who Massachusetts chooses to have represent them.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence?

MR. O'DONNELL: There will never be a more energetic legislator than Ted Kennedy.

Joe Lieberman is once again Destined For Political Oblivion. He doesn't seem to understand that he earned that through the last presidential election. But you won't be hearing anything from him in the future.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This will appeal to you, Lawrence. California Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante. He tried to resurrect the failed Gray (sic) administration by running to replace the governor on a platform of "La Raza Unida," and he couldn't even win a majority of votes from young Hispanics. He's the most forlorn of political creatures, an ethnic politician who can't even command his own ethnic constituency.

MR. BUCHANAN: He's already gone, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Best Political Theater. Pat?

MR. BUCHANAN: Bush arrives in Baghdad for Thanksgiving dinner, presenting the turkey to the troops. It was a sensation.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Somebody told me that turkey was a false turkey.

MR. BUCHANAN: It was a fake -- no, it was a --

MR. BLANKLEY: It was a real turkey --

MR. BUCHANAN: It was a real turkey but they weren't going to eat it there.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, what kind of a turkey is that? It's a fake turkey, right?

MS. CLIFT: They would have gotten ptomaine if they ate it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor? Quickly.

MS. CLIFT: Best Political Theater: Bill Bennett and Rush Limbaugh toppled from their pedestals because of their addictions, Bennett to gambling, Limbaugh to pain killers.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, political theater is supposed to be calculated. It was Saddam on the streets in Baghdad in the opening days of the war with an allegedly adoring public around him. I thought it was a spectacularly executed piece of political theater.

MR. O'DONNELL: The Best Political Theater was, of course, the California recall election, from start to finish, but especially the one debate in which Arnold participated because they got the questions ahead of time.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Best Political Theater was the Texas Democrats from the state legislature fleeing to a motel in Oklahoma to avoid making a quorum of the legislature, and, in so doing, frustrating the Republican majority's redistricting plan, with the Texas Rangers in hot pursuit to return the runaways to Austin. Fabulous political theater. Would you not agree?

MR. BUCHANAN: It was excellent, there's no doubt about it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Worst Political Theater. Pat?

MR. BUCHANAN: Michael Moore at the Academy Awards, where he made a horse's derriere out of himself before the entire world, and Steve Martin walked out and says, "There's great community out there; two Teamsters just helped him into the trunk of his limousine." (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well stated, Patrick.

Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: The Republicans' 40-hour filibuster over four judges, out of 172, that the Democrats had objected to. It was a Super Bowl of whining.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: The anti-globalist demonstrators in Miami last month. They were a pale shadow of the more effective brothers in Seattle a year or two before.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence?

MR. O'DONNELL: Arnold Schwarzenegger campaigning with a broom in his hand -- (laughter), saying he was going to sweep the special interests out of Sacramento, and then, of course, hiring lobbyists to run his administration.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Worst Political Theater: Dr. Condoleezza Rice's tortured circumlocutions in defense of the proposition that the 16 critically untrue Niger words of the State of the Union address were either, a) George Tenet's fault, not hers; b) were correct, no matter whose fault they were; or, c) not really her responsibility, in any event.

Okay. Worst Political Scandal.

MR. BUCHANAN: Jayson Blair writes 35 phony, faked, hoked-up stories for The New York Times, two editors are fired, then Jayson writes a book with a terrific title, "Burning Down My Master's House."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: But that was a media scandal.

A Political Scandal: the 16 words that made it into the State of the Union that falsely asserted that Iraq had sought to buy uranium from an African nation.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: Worst Scandal was the credible allegation that some White House staffers leaked the identity of a CIA agent. That was despicable, and the investigation continues.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence?

MR. O'DONNELL: I hate to be saying this in the same year that he died, but we just discovered it: Strom Thurmond living a political lifetime as a segregationist, knowing that he had fathered an African American child, is beyond description in terms of hypocrisy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The failure to get control of America's borders and the 12 million illegal immigrants inside this country, despite massive new funding for homeland security. That's the worst political scandal.

Okay. Most Under-reported Story of 2003. Patrick?

MR. BUCHANAN: Forty straight months of lost manufacturing jobs in the United States, a record unequaled since the Great Depression. Those jobs are never coming back. And that story is not being told.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: Bush administration shortchanging the troops in Iraq. They don't have enough Kevlar jackets or armored vehicles.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: The teachers union, the NEA, being investigated by the IRS for misuse of funds.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence?

MR. O'DONNELL: How the tax systems in some African countries are completely destroying economic development, described ably by Jude Wanniski but not picked up by anyone else.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The outsourcing of high-tech and white-collar jobs to foreign nations like China and India. This story about the depletion of America's middle-class jobs has been almost untold.

Okay. The Most Over-reported Story Of 2003. Pat?

MR. BUCHANAN: The Most Over-reported Story Of 2003? Let me --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I notice you're consulting notes, Pat. You know that's prohibited on this program.

MR. BUCHANAN: Yes, I did. I thought it was an exit.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Laughs.)

MR. BUCHANAN: Most Over-reported is 35 stories in The New York Times attacking Hootie Johnson of Augusta National for not letting the girls in the treehouse.

MS. CLIFT: Well --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You've experienced a lot of that memory failure?

MR. BUCHANAN: Who, me? (Laughs.) No, I -- (inaudible.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Go ahead, Eleanor, quickly.

MS. CLIFT: The girls will be in the treehouse soon.

Over-reported Story: The rescue of Private Jessica Lynch, which turns out to be hyped and military propaganda.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: Without doubt, the Laci Peterson story. It wouldn't be reported at all if it wasn't for the fact that the photograph of the girl was such an enchanting image.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence?

MR. O'DONNELL: I stopped caring about Michael Jackson about 25 albums ago. (Laughter.) The Most Over-reported Story -- of all time -- Michael Jackson.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Close. Close, but Rush Limbaugh's addiction to painkillers. The excess reportage became a feeding frenzy, like sharks scenting blood in the water.

Okay. Biggest Government Waste. Patrick?

MR. BUCHANAN: U.S. Department of Education. The more failure there is, the more money they get.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: No-bid contracts in general, and Halliburton, in particular. As the late-night comics say, when you write your check to the government, remember there are two "l's" in Halliburton.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: Ethanol subsidy, which there's no basis for it other than there's popular support amongst midwestern senators.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, it takes the place of gasoline.

MR. BLANKLEY: At a high cost, higher cost.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It contributes to our energy independence.

MR. BUCHANAN: It uses corn.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Uses corn. Helps the farmers.

MR. BUCHANAN: Iowa.

MR. O'DONNELL: Which brings us to my --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly!

MR. O'DONNELL: -- my permanent occupant of this category. Agriculture subsidies of all kinds, Biggest Government Waste.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Biggest Government Waste is David Kay's $600 million -- (laughter) -- over half a billion dollars, his Iraqi Easter-egg hunt for non-existent weapons of mass destruction.

Okay. The Best Dollar Spent. Quickly. We're running late.

MR. BUCHANAN: The smart weapons, 17,000 dropped, very, very few civilian casualties. Best Dollar Spent for the U.S. government.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: (Inaudible) -- the Nunn-Lugar legislation to buy up the loose nukes in the old Soviet Union. And if Howard Dean is elected, he will triple funding for that program.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Excellent point, Eleanor.

Quickly, Tony!

MR. BLANKLEY: Eighty-seven billion (dollars) to keep our troops and help rebuild Iraq.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence?

MR. O'DONNELL: Social Security is the best money the government spends, always has been, and it's in danger of disappearing if we don't do something fast.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The $2.7 billion spent on the Human Genome Project over the past 13 years. In 2003, this year, the mapping of the human genome was completed with 99.9 percent accuracy. Now we're poised to reap the benefits, from designer medications to prevention of congenital diseases. Best Government Dollars Spent in a long time.

We'll be right back with these riveting winners.

(Announcements.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Boldest Political Tactic.

MR. BUCHANAN: Al Gore's endorsement of Howard Dean.

MS. CLIFT: Republicans stealing the Medicare issue from the Democrats.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Excellent.

Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: Eleanor's right. Specifically, keeping the vote open for three hours in the House in order to extract that necessary last vote.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence?

MR. O'DONNELL: Arnold's announcing his candidacy on "The Tonight Show."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Bush's decision to invade Iraq with or without international support. The action could be judged as unwisely interventionist, but it was definitely bold, extremely bold.

Okay. Best Idea Of 2003.

MR. BUCHANAN: The California recall. Democracy in action, Larry.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Excellent.

Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: The Best Idea. I've -- (laughs).

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, I notice that you're resorting to --

MS. CLIFT: I know. I am resorting to --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm admonishing you.

(Cross-talk.)

MS. CLIFT: I think I'm going to give it to Al Gore, getting out in front of the parade early so that he can claim that he helped lead it, endorsement of Dean.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Splendid point.

Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: Best Idea was going to war in Iraq.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence?

MR. O'DONNELL: Making the state income tax in California far more progressive, with much higher, double higher, top brackets. My idea, by the way.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Pentagon's program to embed reporters during the Iraq war, ensuring that journalists who ate, slept and traveled with U.S. troops would behave more like government propagandists than journalists. A great idea.

Pat? Worst Idea Of 2003.

MR. BUCHANAN: Okay. "Here's to you, Bishop Robinson, Jesus loves you more than you can know." The selection of a gay bishop in New Hampshire rips the Episcopal Church apart. What were they thinking of?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: They were thinking of the future, Pat. Get used to it.

Worst Idea: The Iraq war.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: Worst Idea was going to the U.N. before going to war. It created a stalemate that created more and more negative world opinion.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence.

MR. O'DONNELL: Saddam Hussein not fully and quickly complying with every single thing George Bush wanted to inspect in Iraq.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Just to keep this in the Iraq corral -- the Worst Idea: Not bothering to have a post-war plan.

Okay. Sorry to See You Go. Pat?

MR. BUCHANAN: Man in black, Johnny Cash; and June Carter Cash.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: I have Johnny Cash as well, too, but I'll add Senator Paul Simon to that list.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: Oh, I thought it was about political deaths. I was sorry to see Dick Gephardt about to go.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Political? (Laughter.)

MR. BLANKLEY: A long, healthy life, but not politically.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence?

MR. O'DONNELL: Two men that I knew: Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who I knew and loved and worked for for many years; and the great Gregory Peck. Both of them cannot be replaced.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was Peck a Republican or a Democrat?

MR. O'DONNELL: A Democrat, a liberal Democrat. A wonderful man, wonderful father, great guy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Sorry To See You Go: Al Hirschfeld, the greatest of the caricaturists, who through the years drew our McLaughlin Group caricature. When the Group's old graduates were either too old to perform or were bought out and they moved on, and the new recruits built their TV careers here, and their bank accounts, Al drew their caricatures and they were added to the collage. Al was more than a caricature; his work was Japanese painting. With a masterful economy of strokes, he was able to capture the essence of his talented subjects. Al, you were a true original, and we miss you.

Okay. Fifteen Minutes Of Fame. Pat?

MR. BUCHANAN: Annika Sorenstam, the woman golf great, enters the men's PGA -- and leads.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: The suicide bombers, sadly, epitomized by the young woman lawyer who blew herself up in Haifa on October 4th. She on the surface had everything to live for.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: I change my vote. I think Eleanor's got it. That's the saddest 15 minutes, I agree.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence?

MR. O'DONNELL: Fifteen Minutes goes to Darrell Issa, who financed the recall petitions believing he was going to run for governor and get it, and he disappeared pretty quickly.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Fifteen Minutes Of Fame Award belongs to Jayson Blair, The New York Times reporter, as noted here earlier, whose prevarications and plagiarisms brought down editor Howell Raines, and whose book, "Burning Down My Master's House," will hopefully bring to a merciful end Blair's 15 minutes of fame.

Okay. Best Spin Of The Year. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Les Moonves of CBS says that right-wing pressure had nothing to do with him cancelling the Reagan film. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: That Saddam Hussein had a hand in the 9/11 attacks. Sixty-nine percent of Americans believed that even though President Bush said it wasn't true, although the president continues to link Saddam Hussein and the 9/11 attacks.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: He didn't say it wasn't true; he said there was no evidence. There's a difference. But --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Inaudible) -- brought that up.

MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.) A fine distinction.

MR. BLANKLEY: I know we are.

The Best Spin was out of the Army, the old Army, spinning last year that we needed at least a quarter of a million troops to beat the Iraqi army. We didn't, but Rumsfeld compromised with them because they spun it so well in The New York Times.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence?

MR. O'DONNELL: The Best Spin was delivered in a heavy Austrian accent, the concept that -- (laughter) -- success in body-building can be translated into success in governing.

MR. BUCHANAN: There's an obsession here. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Best Spin Of The Year: The Pentagon's Jessica Lynch fable. First they spun her as a fierce amazon fighting to the end, when in fact she was down on her knees praying, then they spun her rescue as a daring mission, when in fact there was no real danger to U.S. troops, all of which she has disclosed herself, to her great credit.

Okay. The Most Honest Person Of The Year. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think it's Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore. Whether you agree with him or not, he gave up his position, his title, the chief justiceship of the Alabama Supreme Court, standing by keeping the Ten Commandments in the state courthouse. And he's gone, but he's an honest man.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who traveled to Africa on behalf of the administration, concluded that the claim that Iraq had tried to buy yellowcake from Niger was false; kept quiet about it for almost a year; went public, at great cost to himself and to his wife, who the administration outed as a CIA agent in retribution.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You saw the Vanity Fair piece? Current issue.

The Most Honest Person -- we'll get that in a minute. What is your contribution?

MR. BLANKLEY: My Most Honest Person is, in fact, George Bush. For a president, with all the pressure a president has to dissemble, I'm stunned by how straightforwardly he describes what he plans to do. And he baffles all of Washington punditry because they can't figure out what he's going to do because they don't believe what he says when he says it, and off we go.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about the knees?

MR. BLANKLEY: The knees?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.

MR. BLANKLEY: From a week ago?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, the president has --

MR. O'DONNELL: From running.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Running.

MR. BLANKLEY: Running knees, yeah.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Sore knees.

MR. BLANKLEY: What does that have to do with honesty?

MR. O'DONNELL: He's been pretty honest about that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's been very forthcoming about that.

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, (it's not ?) very embarrassing.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm honest about my knees, too. (Laughter.)

Do you care to contribute to this?

MR. O'DONNELL: Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We're going straight downhill.

MR. O'DONNELL: The Most Honest Politician Of The Year was, of course, Cruz Bustamante, who was the only one to admit that California needs to raise taxes to balance the budget.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Cruz has the most magnificent radio voice.

MR. O'DONNELL: Beautiful voice.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tell him he can go into radio. That voice is terrific.

The Most Honest Person Of The Year: Zell Miller, former two-term governor of Georgia, who left office with an 85-percent approval rating, and currently retiring Georgia U.S. senator, whose new book, "A National Party No More," is a brutally candid portrayal of why the Democratic Party is out of step with most Americans.

Okay. The Most Overrated. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Our beloved Washington Redskins. Had a bad year.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: I'm going to give that to Donald Rumsfeld, whose plan to invade Iraq seriously underestimated the number of soldiers that we needed there, and it's one of the reasons why we're continuing to have trouble bringing security to that country.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: My Most Overrated is a very admirable man, Secretary Colin Powell. As admirable as he is, people think he's much more effective than in fact he is.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence?

MR. O'DONNELL: It is impossible to be more overrated than Arnold Schwarzenegger. (Laughter.)

MS. CLIFT: You're obsessed! You're obsessed! (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Most Overrated: Karl Rove. His role has been inflated to encompass all aspects of the White House decision-making process. In fact that's a myth. And also in fact, he's just a nuts-and-bolts political adviser, preoccupied not with grand strategy and policymaking but with fundraising and voter registration.

Did you know that?

MR. BUCHANAN: I knew all that about Rove, sure.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. The Most Underrated, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: General Tommy Franks. A quiet, unassuming, non-charismatic guy that pulled off that magnificent victory.

MS. CLIFT: Nancy Pelosi, Democratic minority leader in the House. Everybody said she was too liberal, she was too nice to really have an impact in the job. She's tough. She's invoked more discipline in the Democratic Caucus. She's the reason why Tom DeLay had to hold that Medicare vote open for three hours till he could get enough Republicans to vote for it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Strong DNA, also. You know about her background, political background?

MS. CLIFT: A fine political family from Baltimore.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.

MR. BLANKLEY: Right geography. It's Speaker Denny Hastert, who people underestimate. In fact, he is a very substantial power and has executed extraordinary strategies over the last year to win as many times as the Republicans have in the House.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And he's an excellent source for you for this program, right?

MR. BLANKLEY: I've got a lot of good sources.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly!

MR. O'DONNELL: Most Underrated was Gray Davis, who was a perfectly average governor!

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Most Underrated: Arab anger and resentment at America's occupation of Iraq, badly underrated and therefore a blunder of potentially historic proportions.

We'll be right back with New Year's resolutions.

(Announcements.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We've reached the edifying part of this program, New Year's resolutions. Pat. Make this good.

MR. BUCHANAN: Get down into my basement and finish my book on what happened to the conservative movement, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you still writing about the conservative movement?

MR. BUCHANAN: Long after its death. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I mean, haven't you drunk everything that's in that fountain?

Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: I resolve to neither gloat nor openly weep, depending on the results of next year's election; and to be fairly selective about the poison darts I send in Tony's direction. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A no-gloat zone.

Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: Having partially succeeded on my last year's resolution, which was not to interrupt you as much -- and I think I have succeeded, at least partially, this year I have a completely different resolution, which is to finally write a book on politics that I've been putting off.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I think you've grown much more aggressive this year.

MR. BLANKLEY: No, I've been restraining --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, and I commend you on it.

MS. CLIFT: Channel that anger into a book.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence.

MR. O'DONNELL: I resolve to continue to fairly evaluate the governorship of Arnold Schwarzenegger. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: My New Year's resolution is to resist the temptation to be kinder and kinder and kinder to my staff.

I should point out here that you two have used notes. You realize that you can't repeat that next year. We'll be permissive with you this year, but next year --

MS. CLIFT: We're allowed, with awards, to have notes.

MR. BUCHANAN: Listen. John, if you look closely, you'll find the other two have little --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?

MS. CLIFT: Yes.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- little pieces of paper in here too. Cheat sheets.

MS. CLIFT: Yes. Absolutely.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Happy New Year! Bye-bye.

PBS SEGMENT

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Macro-predictions. That's where we are now. And that's a tall order, I know, but not for this group.

We'll begin with Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: By the end of this decade, 10 states in the union will have laws legitimizing civil unions. And California will be one of them. And Republicans who want to castigate Howard Dean for signing the first civil unions bill in the nation can point to Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is their star in their party, who also supports civil unions.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you know how long it's been in existence in Vermont?

MS. CLIFT: Not very long, like a year or two.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What are they finding? It works well?

MS. CLIFT: I haven't see any, you know, protests. People quietly go about their business and solidify relationships that are already in place, and they get their insurance benefits. And nobody's talking about gay marriage; leave that up to the churches, the mosques, the synagogues. But these legal arrangements are the wave of the future.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You can live with civil unions, can't you?

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.) Do I have a choice, John?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I don't think you do, Pat. I think it's on its way.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, I think a number of states are going to do that.

Macro-prediction: A major Middle East war between Israel And Iran. The Israelis have given specific, clear warnings repeatedly that if the Americans don't take out the nuclear facilities in Iran, they're going to do the job themselves. I take them at their word. I think they're deadly serious. And I think it's a real possibility and a fairly early one.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mm-hmm. Doesn't surprise me.

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, we'll see.

MR. O'DONNELL: My macro-prediction is an extension of what I said on this show back when the war in Iraq was raging and you asked how long it would go, and my answer was that Americans would be shot at for as long as they are there.

My macro-prediction is that that effort, combined with the war on terror, will last at least 30 years, which is roughly how long the most recent version of IRA resistance lasted against the British Army in much more controllable circumstances, in Northern Ireland. We are in a minimum of a 30-year war on terror.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: Assuming that Iraqi democracy progresses somewhat, it's going to result in destabilization. The Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iranian governments are going to come under increasing pressure, and it's going to get messy before it gets better.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What are they going to do? They're either going to go democratic or get the bomb.

MR. BLANKLEY: It can go a number of different ways, but their governments are going to lose their grip.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I predict Americans will react negatively to globalism in all of its forms in 2004. I notice you going like that.

MR. BUCHANAN: That's right. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: From immigration to free trade to widespread military engagements. And this is going to usher in a new era of corrective and thoughtful what?

MR. BUCHANAN: Neoisolationism.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Not "neo," just isolationism, corrective and thoughtful, in our foreign policy.

MR. O'DONNELL: Worldwide --

MR. BUCHANAN: (Corrective ?) interventionism.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And you welcome it, do you not?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, listen, I think it's coming. I agree with you 100 percent. It's coming.

MR. O'DONNELL: And a worldwide depression will immediately follow.

MR. BUCHANAN: It will come first.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A thoughtful isolationism as a corrective --

MR. O'DONNELL: What, where we don't buy Toyotas anymore, we don't buy Hondas, we --

MR. BUCHANAN: We build them here.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, no, we didn't say that.

MR. O'DONNELL: What, we all have to buy General Motors?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It doesn't mean no trade.

MS. CLIFT: It won't be that extreme. It won't be that extreme. You can be an internationalist and yet be an isolationist if you work only with the company of other nations.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And there's an equilibrium there. That is the best way to administer a nation like ours at this present time.


####
®FC¯END
®FL¯
_