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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP

HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN

JOINED BY: TONY BLANKLEY, PATRICK BUCHANAN, ELEANOR CLIFT, AND LIONEL BARBER

TAPED: FRIDAY, JANUARY 9, 2004
BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF JANUARY 10-11, 2004

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THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.
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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: Howard the inevitable.

HOWARD DEAN (Democrat candidate for presidential nomination): (From videotape.) What has happened to so many Democrats in Congress is they've been co-opted by the agenda of George Bush, who came into office with 500,000 fewer votes than Al Gore. And what we need is a Democrat who's going to stand up to George Bush.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Iowa is a week from Monday, and the Democratic establishment is in panic. Howard Dean looks inevitable; and the Beltway Democrats think that Dean will be wasted by Bush in November. A new poll of likely voters echoes their view: Bush beats Dean by an avalanche margin of 22 points. Dean's maverick image won't translate into mainstream votes, these party insiders believe. His angry retorts and slow apologies, his scornful comments on Washington insiders fuel his detractors. And Dean refuses to back away from controversial statements like the capture of Saddam Hussein has not made America safer.

Also, the heat on Dean from other Democratic contenders has been turned up so high that Dean complained to the party's national committee chairman, Terry McAuliffe, to call off the pack. This implied criticism of McAuliffe as a timid leader tears the scab off the unsightly split between the Beltway Democrats -- McAuliffe, the Clintons, et al -- versus outsider Democrats -- Dean and his brigade -- an emotionally charged rupture that could last through the election, perhaps, moving Democratic voters to stay home or vote Green.

Whatever, Dean's momentum is unmistakable. Al Gore's stunning endorsement, profiles in Time and Newsweek cover stories, plus this week's noteworthy backing from respected Bill Bradley, former New Jersey senator.

BILL BRADLEY (former New Jersey senator): (From videotape.) His campaign offers America new hope. His supporters are breathing fresh air into the lungs of our democracy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Also at week's end, Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa endorsed Dean.

Question: Who has the momentum going in Iowa? Not just the lead; the momentum. Pat Buchanan?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, John, you know, on the Democratic establishment, as Richard Nixon said, "Buchanan, whenever you hear that the establishment is moving to stop X, put your money on X." And that is exactly the situation. Dean has momentum this week. He's got the Bradley endorsement. He's on the cover of Time and Newsweek. The other Democrats in the debate are all focusing on him and attacking him because he's the leader. He's got Harkin's endorsement. So he's got the momentum in Iowa, I think. Nationally, however, momentum is moving toward General Clark, the guy that's going to run against him.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: Well, Senator Harkin is the patron saint of Democrats in Iowa, and that should give Dean a boost to maintain his lead, where he's running pretty tight with Richard Gephardt. But, you know, I agree with you that once you leave Iowa and you look at New Hampshire -- because Senator Kerry's campaign is virtually collapsing, Wesley Clark is picking up his support, and Wesley Clark has gotten virtually no scrutiny. So it's like the tortoise and the hare, and little tortoise Clark is moving up there.

But I still think it's going to be very hard to stop Dean, and I don't get why the Democratic establishment wants to stop him. He's the only candidate who's created any excitement in the country, and he's given the Democrats a fund-raising base which they would not otherwise have.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that Democrats are in danger of destroying their frontrunner?

MR. BLANKLEY: No, I think this is a typical event, when the almost inevitable -- I think inevitable -- candidate, just before the crowning, there's this moment of hesitation and the establishment and others questioning, you look at alternatives. And then after that pause is over, the process is completed. And I think that that's what's happening right now.

Dean, I think, had plateaued. I think the Harkin nomination (sic) reasserted his momentum in Iowa. I don't take the Clark challenge seriously. Clark hasn't had any scrutiny. Should focus come on him, I think that would slow whatever momentum he has. I think it's most likely to be Dean.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that the Republicans will wait until he gets the nomination before they unleash the sludge-filled bazooka and let him have it?

(Laughter.)

MR. BARBER: They'll wait until late August, early September, after the New York convention. They don't need to unleash a bazooka just yet.

I agree, by the way, with the general commentariat, if I may say so, that Dean definitely has the momentum. But don't write out Clark, yet. We have to see -- wait for New Hampshire.

MR. BLANKLEY: Let me add one point there. I think if the Republicans follow your recommendation of not commenting on Dean until August, they should be arrested for malpractice.

MR. BARBER: I think there's a difference between commentating and actually a bazooka, I mean, John's talking about.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Laughs.)

MR. BUCHANAN: They have to -- no, they --

MS. CLIFT: I'd say March, not August.

MR. BLANKLEY: No, no. But clearly in the period -- once the nominee has been effectively chosen, February, March, between then and the convention, both parties are going to be trying to define the candidates.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you know what the formula is going to be, as far as the Republican treatment of Dean is concerned, when he gets the nomination -- if he gets it? It will be the same -- exactly what they used in Iraq -- shock and awe -- shock and awe negative research.

Okay, Dean --

MR. BUCHANAN: John, they've got to spend the $200 million before the Republican Convention. They've got to make the dump before the convention.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Dean and Iraq. What propelled Dean's meteoric rise to the front of the Democratic pack last year was his opposition to the war in Iraq. Iraq continues as the prime force of his campaign and the prime target of his rivals. In every debate, Dean gets hurled at him this statement he made: quote, "The capture of Saddam Hussein has not made America safer."

Here's how Dean now handles that:

HOWARD DEAN (Democratic presidential candidate): (From videotape.) Since Saddam Hussein has been caught -- who is a dreadful person -- I'm delighted to see him behind bars, and I hope he gets what he deserves. But the fact is, since Saddam Hussein has been caught we've lost 23 additional troops. We now have, for the first time, American fighter jets escorting commercial airliners through American airspace.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If Dean were making the same point this weekend, the number of troops lost since Saddam's capture would be 33, not 23. A Black Hawk helicopter crashed, killing nine troops. Another U.S. soldier died in a mortar attack that wounded 34 troops. Also troubling, a C-5 Galaxy transport plane, with 63 aboard, was crippled by a mid-air missile strike and had to make an emergency landing. Luckily, no one was killed. The Iraq death toll, to date: 494 dead, 11,400 medical evacuees.

Question: On the Iraq issue, is time on Bush's side, or is time on Dean's side, Pat?

MR. BUCHANAN: Time, I believe, is on Dean's side, for this reason. The president had two-thirds for the Iraq war after Saddam was apprehended, pulled out of that spider hole. The situation is not going to get as good as that, and it's going to steadily, slowly deteriorate between now and next November.

But I do not believe that means people are going to go to Dean. I think the president has won the national security issue, even though this deteriorates.

MS. CLIFT: Well, as the afterglow of the capture of Saddam Hussein fades and the reality of the long, hard slog sets in, I agree with you; I think time is on Dean's side. And frankly, he presents a clear choice to Bush on this issue. And the strategy of the Democrats in the midterm elections of "go along, get along" on national security failed dramatically. And so this is a new way.

MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly.

MS. CLIFT: And the public is pretty evenly divided in a 50-50 country.

MR. BLANKLEY: Look --

MR. BARBER: Too many doomsayers, John! The fact is, Tony Blair said just this week of Britain -- and we've got troops out there -- that they'd be in for at least another two years. And I believe that the American public will support the president, even though there will be casualties, because the stakes are so high. They're in it for the long haul.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think this is a classical occupation, insofar as the tactics used are designed to turn the population against the occupiers, and it seems to be working quite well?

MR. BARBER: No. I think that there are other stories which are not widely reported in the press right now. It's very interesting, for example, that the American Provisional Authority there is saying they want to have a state oil corporation, not have all the private oil companies taking it -- taking over the oil and provoking a popular reaction.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The formula of the guerrilla attackers is to precipitate a response from the Americans that will be out of proportion to their attacks, and thus it will make the population angrier than it was. This is exactly what's happening, and it's exactly a problem that's going to continue.

Have you seen any change, any demonstrable change, in favor of the United States and the forces over there since the capture of Saddam Hussein?

MR. BLANKLEY: No. Since the capture of Saddam Hussein, I haven't been there, and I don't think any of us have been there. So I haven't seen it yet.

My sense is that the strategy -- and you've described it correctly, the guerrilla strategy -- is only very marginally successful.

Interestingly, as the Marines come in -- and they're going to be moved in as the Army comes out, in large measure, over the next few months -- they're bringing a very different strategy. They're going to be living with the locals. They're going to be much less aggressive. And I think of this as a modulation of American strategy for managing the guerrilla activity. (Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on.

MR. BLANKLEY: And we'll have to wait and see -- this is the same thing the Marines did in Vietnam, which worked for a while, in the '60s.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, this is not lost.

MS. CLIFT: The --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let Eleanor --

MS. CLIFT: The Republicans are going to paint Howard Dean as too reckless to be president. And he's going to come back and say: Call him reckless? What about a president who took us into this war under false pretenses and misrepresented why we were there, misrepresented the cost, and has gotten us engaged? And so I think this is going to be a lot about thematics, about temperament to be president, and I think that is a card that Dean can -- (inaudible).

MR. BUCHANAN: No --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Go ahead.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to ask you a question. Lieberman is saying that Dean feels that it would make no difference if Saddam would stay in power. Actually, what Dean is saying is this -- I'll sum it up for you: he thinks Saddam was a regional threat, not a direct or imminent threat to the United States. He thinks we should have taken our time building an international coalition while continuing inspections. Dean says he would have used an international coalition against Saddam, if necessary, but believes he was a distraction and we ought to have spent our effort going after al Qaeda and bin Laden.

Is that a defensible position when it comes to debate time between him and Bush?

MR. BUCHANAN: In a debate -- look, as an intellectual position, yes. But the point that Bush is going to do is he's going to turn to him and say, "If Howard Dean were president of the United States, Saddam Hussein would still be in power and we would not be safer."

Now, I don't think the capture of Saddam Hussein makes us safer in Washington, D.C. from al Qaeda. But it was a foolish gaffe, given the timing of it. Why did he have to say it? Why didn't he stick with congratulating the country, the troops and the president on a coup?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You may think it's a gaffe, but the American people seem to think, on the basis of some of the polling we've seen -- not that particular last poll but other polling -- that they like exactly what they're hearing from Dean.

MR. BUCHANAN: Have you seen Howard Dean say: "Look, he's a thug; I'm glad he's there, he's captured and he's a terrible guy"? That's pullback on Dean's part.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Not so, not so. Those positions are not incompatible at all.

MS. CLIFT: A lot of the American people watching events unfold believe that Howard Dean told the truth. And when Dean says the definition of a gaffe in Washington is when a politician tells the truth, he's very --

MR. BARBER: The timing was terrible; he shot from the lip.

(Laughter.)

MR. BLANKLEY: Let me -- let me --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, before we get into that, let's take a quick look at super delegates.

MR. BLANKLEY: Let me just make one point -- let me make a quick point on that, because I agree with Eleanor. I think that the freshness of his statements -- and, yes, he's firing away -- is very appealing as a trait of a candidate. Now, I think he makes some damage collaterally for himself, but he doesn't hurt himself, certainly in the primary.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, they said he was going to be damaged by the remark he made about the Southern flag and the rednecks driving the trucks. That didn't hurt him at all. As a matter of fact, it helped to disabuse people that he was a liberal.

MR. BLANKLEY: He's not -- (inaudible) --

(Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's move on. Super delegates. The super delegate count, here we have it: Dean 86, Gephardt 58, Kerry 54, Lieberman 25, Clark 24, Edwards 15 -- note that -- Sharpton three, Moseley Braun three, Kucinich two and Bush one. Bush got one super delegate.

Who was that, Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: Senator --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Zell Miller.

MS. CLIFT: -- Zell Miller from Georgia, who's heading up Democrats for Bush.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What conclusion do you draw from any of those statistics, Pat?

MR. BUCHANAN: Super delegates are irrelevant. They are the guys in Congress -- the Senate and the House -- and they're opportunists, except for the guys who commit early, and the guys who commit late go with the candidate, the nominee. They're irrelevant.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but the fact --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It shows that the Washington insiders are -- they like what they see in Dean and they're coming out early to say so.

MR. BUCHANAN: It says Dean is winning. That's what it tells you! (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, Dean is winning and therefore they've fingered him, have they not?

MR. BUCHANAN: They're joining the bandwagon! (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: The point is, the ice flow is moving towards Dean. (Laughs.)

MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly! (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, listen to this question.

MR. BARBER: (Inaudible) -- about the divide between the Beltway and outside --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What happens to it?

MR. BARBER: The super delegates from Washington are all -- (inaudible) -- I mean, you know. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you know, that's part of the -- you just measure the width of the split, that's all.

MR. BUCHANAN: The cockroaches, as Dean calls them, are moving! (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Who's right on Iraq? Bush, who says it is the central front in the war on terror? Or Dean, who says that it's a needlessly and costly distraction; Iraq having been no immediate threat whatsoever to our vital national security. Who's right?

MR. BUCHANAN: Dean is right in what he said, but Bush is right that it is now the central front.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: Dean is right, and outside events under the control of neither of these politicians will determine who the public thinks is right in November.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who's right?

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, Dean is wrong. But the fact that Bush went into Iraq certainly, as Pat says, has made it central. He could have gone into Syria, he could have gone, perhaps, into Saudi Arabia -- good heavens.

MS. CLIFT: (Inaudible.) (Laughter.)

MR. BLANKLEY: There was going to be a major action in the Middle East to start changing the unfortunate situation there. And whichever country that was going to be was going to be the major front for a while. But I don't think there is only one front. We're going to be going through this for years.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Don't forget we have several months now before the election. And it's interesting --

MR. BLANKLEY: No war in '04. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who do you think is right on the issue?

MR. BARBER: They're both right. Saddam was not an immediate threat. And Bush is right because it's now the central front in the war against terror and for regional stability in --

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but he made it the central front.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean he has created a magnet in Iraq that will draw terrorists in and we'll have a terrorist state in Iraq.

MR. BARBER: That is what is happening, but let's not lose sight of the big picture, which is this is about oil, it's about a large country in an absolutely critical strategic region for the United States.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: When we come back, is the president's immigration plan compassionate conservatism or is it political pandering?

(Announcements.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two: Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, and your illegals.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: (From videotape.) New immigration laws should serve the economic needs of our country.

I propose a new temporary worker program that will match willing foreign workers with willing American employers when no Americans can be found to fill the jobs.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: President Bush's first major policy overhaul of the new year, the temporary worker program.

One, temporary legal status. Undocumented workers now living in the U.S. get temporary legal status for three years, renewable up to six years or more, provided that, A, they already have a job here; B, they register.

Two, non-residents also eligible. Foreign nationals not living in the U.S. are also eligible for temporary U.S. legal status within the temporary worker program, provided they have employment lined up.

Three, U.S. benefits granted. These temporary guest workers will then be eligible to receive benefits enjoyed by full U.S. citizens, namely: minimum wage, Social Security, and the ability to travel in and out of the U.S. without fear of being barred upon their return.

Four, U.S. citizens offered jobs first, meaning employers must show that the jobs given to guest workers are not wanted by American workers.

Five, guest workers must leave the U.S. after their terms have expired. The president insists that his plan does not grant citizenship.

PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape.) I opposed amnesty, placing undocumented workers on the automatic path to citizenship.

This program expects temporary workers to return permanently to their home countries after their period of work in the United States has expired.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Others are not so sure. They see the temporary worker program as de facto amnesty for illegal aliens within the U.S.

REP. TOM TANCREDO (R-CO): (From videotape.) (Pointing to newspaper headline) See, it says, "Bush Plan: Let Illegals Stay." That is amnesty. And you should never, ever do that from a public policy standpoint. It will only encourage more illegal activity.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: How does the temporary guest worker program rate as public policy?

Tony Blankley.

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, I think it fails, and it fails for a big reason. Because we don't control the borders, and aren't able to, that we can't isolate these 8 million and convert them into citizens without also attracting an endless flow of others. Therefore, although the concept is benign -- he'd like to help people who are being exploited, both by the mules who bring them up, and by employers and the rest -- it can't work because there's an endless supply of people who will replace them. And therefore, it also honors the idea that you can break the law and get away with it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is Bush pandering to Hispanics?

MR. BARBER: Up to a point. He's pandering more, though, to business, the likes of Wal-Mart, who are using these cheap labor from Mexico and Central America and other places, they are fed up with having the Justice Department and the INS all crawling over their books or raiding them and saying they're holding illegal labor. So I believe that that's actually one of the untold stories, that business is saying we need this near amnesty because --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's not untold anymore!

MR. BARBER: -- You heard it here first! -- because of the need for cheap labor.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: On that point, will high-tech industries bring Indians from India into the United States to have lower-cost workers do the work?

MS. CLIFT: Well, they're already doing that. But the bigger problem is what Lionel said; this does pander to the business community. And what it would do is it would create a sub-set of people who would work at bare minimum wage, and it would not give them any kind of path to either permanent residency or citizenship.

But it's terrific politics because it allows the president to go out there and claim that he's trying to make some sense out of an immigration system that's broken. And it will never pass Congress, so it's free politics.

MR. BUCHANAN: It is the dumbest politics I have ever seen. The president's got four aces, and he's just lost a preemptive strike on his political base.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, let's find out whether or not Congress can save him. Will the Republican House pass this legislation this year, essentially enacting Bush's proposal for a guest worker program? Yes or no?

Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: No. It's an amnesty, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?

MS. CLIFT: No. And the president has the luxury to offend his base because he's locked them up. They love him, Pat -- even you! (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will it pass it?

MR. BLANKLEY: No. I'm not sure it will even be introduced. He's only putting forward proposals.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If it is introduced?

MR. BLANKLEY: I don't think it will be. But it won't pass.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It won't pass?

MS. CLIFT: No.

MR. BARBER: No. And as Eleanor says, he can afford to offend the base -- conservative base this year. He'll come back to it next year.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't think Rove will sell them the argument that this will pull in the Hispanic vote --

MR. BLANKLEY: No.

MR. BLANKLEY: -- and therefore, they'll all cave up there on Capitol Hill?

MR. BUCHANAN: You've got a firestorm going on up there!

MR. BLANKLEY: No, I do not think that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is no, it will not pass.

Issue three: Mars Attack.

SEAN O'KEEFE (NASA, administrator): (From videotape.) This is a big night for NASA. We are back. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It was indeed a big night for NASA, and deservedly so. An unmanned rover the size of a golf cart, named Spirit, made a perfect landing in the middle of a 4-billion-year-old windswept Martian crater. Spirit sent back stereoscopic images from the Red Planet, with a resolution and a clarity never seen before. Spirit will spend the next three months scouring the Mars barren surface, looking for clues of past life.

So does this achievement mean NASA is back, as Sean O'Keefe says? Well, it's a good beginning, even though robots have landed on Mars four times before.

This renewed space interest comes also after China sent its first astronaut into space in October, joining the U.S. and Russia as the only nations to put a human into orbit. Japan and India are also looking to join the club, signaling that the international space race is alive and well, and could be worrisome.

"Successes like the Mars landing can spread out across the whole space field, where now the idea of stationing weapons in space or shooting down ballistic missiles from space can seem more feasible." So says senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment Joseph Cirincione.

Now the president is set to announce plans for establishing a permanent human settlement on the moon and perhaps within 10 years sending a man to Mars.

Question: Is this really all a cover story, meaning that what's behind this is China's penetration of space, China talking about colonizing on the moon? Are they really concerned in this country about the weaponization of space, and therefore we're going to be up there doing our number, but picking up a lot of knowledge, technical knowledge that will help us in the weaponization of space?

Do you have thoughts on this?

MR. BARBER: Well, John, I know you would love to go back to the days of Yuri Gargarin and the race with the Soviet Union, but this has nothing to do with China at all. This is an election-year stunt just to show that the president, unlike his father, has that "vision thing" --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Excellent. This is the vision thing.

MR. BLANKLEY: That is completely wrong. This has been a long time in the planning. His father, by the way, made virtually the same proposal in 1989.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, and it went nowhere!

MR. BLANKLEY: It went nowhere in '89 because at that time the shuttle program looked good. Now that the shuttle program has obviously failed, it's --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly!

MR. BLANKLEY: -- everyone thinking about space has been realizing we have to have a new method --

MR. BUCHANAN: But John, it is --

MS. CLIFT: There is no money --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: There is no money, and George Bush is no Jack Kennedy. He's not even his father on this issue. This is going nowhere.

MR. BLANKLEY: It's going to pass.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Five seconds, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: He wants an inspirational adventure to uplift the country, but it is not the moon shot of 1969.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But it will capture the public imagination.

MS. CLIFT: No.

MR. BUCHANAN: No, to a very minor degree, John. Nothing like the old days. You can't make a souffle rise a second time.

MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can I quote you on that?

MR. BUCHANAN: Yes, you can, John. (Laughter.)

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

(Announcements.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions, Pat?

MR. BUCHANAN: John Edwards, who's been running a very positive campaign for the last three months, John -- he's going to get himself into the finals for vice presidential nominee on the Democratic ticket -- with Howard Dean.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: Republican Governor John Rowland of Connecticut will be forced to resign because of ethical improprieties. He's probably already gotten the tap on the shoulder.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: President Bush is going to ask for a limit of only 3 percent growth in spending next year. It's going to be a big fight, both with Republicans and Democrats in Congress, to keep it to only 3 percent.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lionel?

MR. BARBER: Everybody says that 2004 is an election year and trade liberalization is off the agenda. Wrong! Watch out for a new U.S. initiative shortly.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well stated. And you're holding up quite well, despite Beagle II. (Laughter.) Beagle II got off the scent, huh? You should have named him Oliver, and you should have named him Basset, and he wouldn't have lost that scent.

I predict that the U.S. will open a full-scale operational air and naval base in Australia.

Next week: On-site report on Australia and the cauldron of Pacific tensions. Bye-bye!

END OF REGULAR SEGMENT

PBS SEGMENT

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue four: crocodile rock.

STEVE IRWIN (TV personality): (From videotape.) I am so hurt and so sorry and in such pain that people have been scared by the learning process that my kids have to have. I was born and raised with crocodiles. My parents raised me exactly the same way I am going to raise my children.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Despite the explanation of animal trainer Steve Irwin as to why he used his one-month-old son as a show prop during the feeding of a 13-foot crocodile late last week, the widespread criticism has abated little. Irwin is the world-known celebrity host of the cable TV show "The Crocodile Hunter," where he wrestles snakes, alligators, crocodiles and other animals. After bringing his infant son into the "croc" pen, Irwin is now locked in a deadly public relations wrestle with a new animal of a different stripe -- the international media beast.

Question: What was this, an educational outing for the five- week-old or a publicity stunt that backfired? Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: It was a stupid and immature thing to do. I don't think he's ever going to do it again. He's probably going to pay a price in his career bookings and I don't think he's going to start a trend of baby dangling in dangerous situations. I don't think Michael Jackson and Mr. Irwin are starting any kind of a fashion here.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The most respected animal trainer in Australia as far as crocodiles are concerned is Steven Douglas -- excuse me, Malcolm Douglas. There's a quote from him: "I am shocked, appalled and disappointed in Irwin. These circus tricks have got to stop." I was with him last week and he knows exactly what he's talking about, because he's got 49 of those crocodiles, horrible ones, right on his compound.

Out of time.

MS. CLIFT: Well, they're not horrible. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You want to say something?

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