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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP

HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN

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

TAPED: FRIDAY, APRIL 23, 2004
BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF APRIL 24-25, 2004

.STX


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THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.
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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: mission creep. America's role in Iraq -- military and political -- is bloating, maybe now even with a life of its own.

Item: reviving the draft.

REP. CHARLES RANGEL (D-NY): (From videotape.) Sooner or later, they're going to say, "We need another 100,000." And someone's got to say, "Well, just where the hell do you think you're going to get them?"

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: New York Congressman Charles Rangel answered his own question by introducing bicameral legislation with Senator Ernest Hollings to bring back military conscription. The 135,000 troops in Iraq are not deemed to be enough, they say -- especially now, with 2,070 troops from Spain, Honduras and the Dominican Republic pulling out and the chill that both the pullout and the general insecurity of the area has exerted on NATO and U.N. possible involvement. So, bring back the draft.

Item: more money for Iraq.

SEN. CHUCK HAGEL (R-NE): (From videotape.) Every ground squirrel in this country knows that it's going to be 50 (billion dollars) to $75 billion in additional money required to sustain us in Iraq for this year.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: On top of the $165 billion already in place for Iraq. The currently circulated estimate of a minimum of $60 billion additional funding brings the total figure through December '04 to $225 billion, the estimated -- Wolfowitz won't nail down the real figure -- price tag for the nation building and military occupation of Iraq.

Question: does America need the draft?

Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: Not only don't need it, it would be a terrible idea. You would bring into the service people who don't like this war and don't want to be in the service, which would be destructive of morale. You've got a pool of young people about three or 4 million strong. You can only take some, in which case it's automatically going to be unfair. The draft would be a terrible idea. You can get the troops another way, John: by raising pay and benefits. But I'll tell you this, you cannot police a world empire on an army of 480,000 men. Either the empire's going to go or something's going to give.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You do agree Iraq needs more troops?

MR. BUCHANAN: Sure, but I don't think you need a draft for that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: We already have a draft. It's on those who have volunteered for the National Guard and the Reserve. They're being coerced into extending their stays in Iraq.

A formal draft we will not get, especially not in an election year, but it's useful to talk about it because it exposes who is fighting this war, who is making the sacrifice. Only the soldiers, and they're chiefly from lower- and middle-class socioeconomic groups. And this president and this administration has not asked anybody else to sacrifice anything, putting it all on the credit card and all on the backs of those young men and women. It's a disgrace.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think a draft could come after the election, Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: No, and it's worth pointing -- well, in the future I don't know, you know, 20 years from now. But --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, I mean before --

MR. BLANKLEY: No, not imminently and not planned for. Note, by the way, that the draft is being called for by two people who basically opposed the war. The congressman called for the draft a year ago January. I remember because we did an editorial about it. So this is nothing new for him. What they're doing is they're trying to scare opposition up against the war by using the word "draft," "draft," "draft." The president, Rumsfeld, they have -- and anyone who has talked with anybody in the administration or the Pentagon, you know that they are adamantly against having a draft. You can probably expand the volunteer military, without changing standards, by 100(,000), 150,000, without any dramatic changes, maybe a little bit of money.

By the way, you're talking about only poor people. As you know, just this week an NFL football player who turned down a $3.5 million contract to join the Army died fighting in the Rangers in Afghanistan.

MS. CLIFT: I said chiefly. Chiefly.

MR. BLANKLEY: So this is not just fighting for hire.

MS. CLIFT: Can I rebut that?

MR. BLANKLEY: These are not mercenaries, they're patriot citizens.

MS. CLIFT: Excuse me. Chiefly. The people who are sending them to war, only one member of Congress has a son serving in this war. And that tells you that the sacrifice is not being shared. Also, Senator Chuck Hagel, I don't believe opposed the war, and he spoke out this week --

(Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence?

MR. BLANKLEY: He almost opposes it.

MR. CLIFT: (Inaudible) -- he's not your kind of Republican.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let us --

MR. BLANKLEY: He is opposing it --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Excuse me! Excuse me. Let us move on.

This is being made out to be partisan talk, the talk about draft. Do you think it's partisan talk, or do you think it's real talk?

MR. O'DONNELL: Tony's right, it's purely symbolic talk. Charlie Rangel has made it very clear he doesn't actually want a draft. It's an unusual thing for someone to introduce legislation to do something that they actually don't want to do. He's trying to make the point that Eleanor has made here about who is actually going into this military and how are they going to deal with the need for more troops if they need more troops. But he actually doesn't want the thing. This will never come to a vote in either body. It won't come to a vote in the committee of either body. So it's purely symbolic and it's not going to happen.

By the way, if it did, if someone tried to legislate a draft today -- I just had the pleasure yesterday of being at a Columbia Law School lecture by Jack Greenburg about what would happen in a military draft now. Would yo have to draft women? Would the law require you, would the Supreme Court require you to draft women? You would have political madness break loose if you ever tried to legislate a draft.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Enough about the draft.

We are all agreed that more money is needed. The burn rate for the military in Iraq right now is $4.7 billion a month, and that does not include the construction of a nation over there, the reconstruction costs. Now, can we say we're agreed that $60 billion is needed but it will not be handled before the election, for obvious reasons?

MS. CLIFT: Yes.

MR. BUCHANAN: That's exactly right, John. I don't think it will be. I think they'll put it over.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But we are agreed that it's necessary.

Okay. More mission creep.

Item: Not coming home. Twenty thousand troops have been told they will stay on for at least three more months, contrary to an earlier Pentagon promise to bring them home after serving over one year in the blistering heat, at the bloody sites, in the dusty cities and the desert sands.

Item: Images of the fallen.

SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D-DE): (From videotape.) These young men are heroes. This is the last, long ride home. These young men and women are heroes. And the idea that they're essentially snuck back into the country under the cover of night so no one can see that their casket has arrived, I just think is wrong.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Pentagon has been very concerned about photographs and videotape of caskets bearing the remains of U.S. soldiers. They don't want the people to see these images, some say, lest they begin to question the duration and legitimacy of the war. Journalists are banned from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, where the corpses arrive, and all the other points of transit of the coffins.

But last weekend, a Seattle newspaper defied the ban and published this photo on its front page, taken at Kuwait International Airport by a woman, a civilian who worked for a military contractor. The photographer and her husband, also an employee, were both promptly fired.

And now, owing to a Freedom of Information action by thememoryhole.org, over 350 pictures of poignant, flag-draped coffins at Dover have been posted on the Net.

Is the ban on press photos at Dover essentially censorship? If so, is it warranted? I ask you, Lawrence.

MR. O'DONNELL: Well, it's a little bit of censorship, and it's not warranted. But it also doesn't matter, because those photographs we're looking at are official military photographs taken by official military photographers. They couldn't be more respectful, they couldn't be more reverential, and they couldn't be more powerful as imagery.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why not release them?

MR. O'DONNELL: They should of course be released. This is paranoia run deep in the Bush administration of the highest --

MR. BUCHANAN: No, no, no. The question is who --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hey, wait a minute. Can you develop that?

MR. O'DONNELL: There's a completely paranoid notion in the Bush administration that the exhibition of these photographs will somehow take the American political mind down some endless swirl into the abyss of "Iraq is hopeless."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, that --

MR. O'DONNELL: Of course we know that people are dying there. The newspapers are running photographs of everyone who's dying.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But what about -- is it censorship?

MR. BUCHANAN: John, it's military control --

MR. O'DONNELL: It's not technically censorship, no.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Military censorship obtains when there is a question of location of troops, the number of troops --

MR. BUCHANAN: There is a rational reason for -- let me give you the rational reason for it. Look, when these people are shot and killed, and the bodies are brought to the mortuary, and they're taken to Dover, the military treats them with respect, as we saw. If you allow photographers, paparazzi, anybody to go into these places, they will exploit it for the purposes of damaging military morale. The military should control the pictures.

I agree with you. When they're good pictures, they should put them out.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, it's --

MR. BLANKLEY: Let me have a thought here. I wrote a column last year saying I thought that the president should go to the funerals and embrace this. I agree; I think these photographs should be seen.

I think they're wrong in thinking that this is going to lose support. As long as the public believes in the validity of the reason we're fighting, this will, if anything, strengthen it. It certainly loosen it. In World War I, the British were shown and described vivid details of the conflict in the trenches, and it did not sap morale.

MS. CLIFT: Well, we --

MR. BLANKLEY: The problem is whether the public thinks we're doing the right fighting or not.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, we do have a backdrop in this country of people questioning whether this war was necessary. And the administration claims that they want to be respectful and they're protecting the parents' privacy and the families of these people coming home, when in fact what they don't want us to see is the assembly line, the nature -- it's public relations.

MR. BUCHANAN: Look what CBS is doing to Princess Diana, what --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the most -- yeah.

MR. BUCHANAN: Look what they're doing to Princess Diana. They're showing this broken woman at the very moment of her death. That is awful.

Now most journalists won't do that. But the danger that some will gives the military every reason to protect the dignity of these fallen heroes.

MS. CLIFT: This is not Princess Diana.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Anything -- (inaudible) -- can become abusive. Isn't that a ridiculous reason for excluding --

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, who controls the pictures, then? Who should control them?

MS. CLIFT: They can --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, the Pentagon should control them.

MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly. Okay?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But the paranoia, as O'Donnell has probably correctly described, should not be allowed to govern the --

MS. CLIFT: It's paranoia and public relations. (Laughs.)

MR. BLANKLEY: I don't think it's -- it's not fair to call it paranoia. It's a reasonable apprehension. I think they're wrong in their judgment, but it's a --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony, you know why they're doing it. It's political -- hiding things.

MR. BLANKLEY: I said that. But it's not a paranoia, it's a reasonable judgment that it won't support the war --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the most significant thing that happened in Iraq this week? (No response.) Shall I tell you after this long pause? (Laughter, cross talk.) De-Ba'athification has been reversed, the product of the ill-advised thinking of Bremer and Chalabi. And we have now three generals back in the Army, and we have also some professors back in the schools, et cetera.

MR. BUCHANAN: No battle for Najaf.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What? No battle --

MR. BUCHANAN: No battle for Najaf.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is that? At best a draw for General Kimmitt?

MR. BUCHANAN: No. What the military says -- what it says is we're moving toward a hearts-and-minds strategy, as against crush them where they are.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, what it says is that frontal assaults -- as I described here last week, the use of military power will be counterproductive.

MR. BUCHANAN: So you go to hearts and minds! (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Frontal assaults by the military is counterproductive, and it caused an equal and corresponding force against it. So they decided against it.

MR. BUCHANAN: Wait for --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They've come to their senses.

MR. BUCHANAN: Wait to -- for Fallujah.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, the human toll: U.S. military dead in Iraq, 709; U.S. military medical evacuations, 20,100 -- an estimate; Iraqi civilian dead, 14,300 -- an estimate.

Exit: Will the administration be able to get away with stonewalling any new funding requests for Iraq until after the presidential election? Yes or no? I think we've already answered this.

MR. BUCHANAN: Yes, sir.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They will.

MS. CLIFT: They'll beg, borrow and steal from other accounts, just as they did with the $700 million they took from Afghanistan to begin the war planning for Iraq.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why don't the Democrats on Capitol Hill insist on a reckoning now?

MS. CLIFT: Because they don't control Congress.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why did they let Wolfowitz --

MS. CLIFT: Senator Biden was terrific this week. He confronted the administration.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why did they let Wolfowitz stiff them the way he did this week?

What's the answer to the question?

MS. CLIFT: They're all Republicans! (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will the administration get away with it until after the election?

MR. BLANKLEY: You know, I'm not 100 percent sure they're going to try to get away with it. They may in fact surprise us all and go for a supplemental appropriation.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute, now. Do you know more than you're saying?

MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.)

MR. BLANKLEY: Sometimes I do. (Laughter.)

MR. BUCHANAN: He's one of the few here!

MR. O'DONNELL: I share some of Tony's suspicion there, and they absolutely will not get away with it. There will be a number advanced by Senator Robert Byrd, who's the leading Democrat in the Senate on appropriations. He will present what he believes the number to be that this is going to cost. It may even be presented by the Democrats in an amendment to the appropriations bill, which Republicans will then have to vote on.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will they let journalists onto Dover base?

MR. BUCHANAN: No, and they shouldn't.

MR. O'DONNELL: No.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why not?

MR. O'DONNELL: The military gets to control who comes on military bases.

MR. BUCHANAN: Because we don't let the military -- the military controls -- (cross talk) --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We're not talking about photojournalists, we're talking about scribe journalists.

MS. CLIFT: Right. You don't have to --

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, look --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let him finish, Eleanor.

MR. BUCHANAN: Here's what the -- look, the military should control this totally. If they say, come on on, and you can photograph these --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, come on, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let the journalists on the base.

MR. BUCHANAN: All right. Well, then you let them on, but you prepare it before they come on.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Of course! That can be done.

MR. BUCHANAN: Okay. Well, that's --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And no photos except those that we distribute. (Laughter.)

MR. BUCHANAN: That is not paranoia. That's decency.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What? What I'm saying?

MR. BUCHANAN: No --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Letting the journalists on the base? Right again. (Cross talk.)

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughter.)

MR. BLANKLEY: Now that's paranoia.

MS. CLIFT: That's news --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right again.

The answer to the question: Of course they'll be able to put it off until after the election.

MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: When we come back, is the Woodward book a net-plus or net-minus for George Bush's reelection bid?

(Announcements.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Two: Woodward's Wallop.

Of late, the Bush administration has been under wicked fire. First came Richard Clarke's explosive book, "Against All Enemies." Then, his interview on "60 Minutes." Then, the 9/11 Commission and its revelations. Then the vortex of violence in Iraq.

And now: "Plan of Attack," Bob Woodward's account of the Bush Administration in the run up to the Iraq war.

Item: Cheney's Fever. (Reading.) "Colin Powell detected a kind of fever in Cheney. The vice president was beyond hell-bent for action against Saddam. It was as if nothing else existed."

Item: Cheney's Fiefdom. "It was a separate little government that was out there -- Wolfowitz, Cheney's Chief of Staff Scooter Libby, Undersecretary for Defense Policy Douglas Feith and Feith's 'Gestapo Office,' as Powell privately called it."

Item: Tenet Settles Bush's Doubts. After a December 2002 presentation on WMD intelligence from the CIA deputy director, the sainted John McLaughlin, quote: "Bush turned to Tenet. 'I've been told all this intelligence about WMD and this is the best we've got?' From the end of one of the couches in the Oval Office, Tenet rose up, threw his arms in the air. 'It's a slam dunk case!' Bush pressed. 'George, how confident are you?' Tenet leaned forward and threw his arms up again. 'Don't worry, it's a slam dunk!'"

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: what does "slam dunk" mean in the context of this meeting?

Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Well, it's a basketball analogy and presumably it means that the weapons of mass destruction are there, that the CIA knows where they are, and that they're going to find them. And the president actually gets the best of this exchange because it looks like he's actually asking some questions, but I must say Mr. Tenet has looked a lot less certain in his public testimony about the certainty of weapons of mass destruction. But he's smart enough to know that if he wants to keep his job, he has to take the heat for President Bush.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, in the --

MR. O'DONNELL: "Slam dunk" is --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute. In the historical scheme of things, the president's biggest problem is that he went into Iraq without provocation because there was no WMD. So what happened in this episode was what?

MR. BUCHANAN: In this episode? Well, this episode makes it look like Tenet says they are there, but the president --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tenet? Tenet takes the rap?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, not that he takes the rap. Tenet has told him they're there.

MR. O'DONNELL: One-hundred percent of the rap. That's a scene, and that scene is why the Woodward book is on the Bush campaign website as recommended reading, because that scene says --

MR. BUCHANAN: Right.

MR. O'DONNELL: -- look at how sharp this president is. They give him this stuff, he's not really satisfied with it, and then the CIA director gets up and twice says to him, in effect, I guarantee you they are there, don't worry about it, it's going to be -- that they're going to be there.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Now, the gloss put on this particular usage of the words "slam dunk" by the CIA is quite different than the gloss that we have put it on this show, which is the obvious gloss. Their gloss is that this was not a reference to the validity or the quality of the evidence on the weapons of mass destruction; this was the recognition that the president could go forward with a speech on this matter --

MR. O'DONNELL: (Laughs.) Oh! Oh!

MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- just a moment -- and that the speech on this matter would be efficacious, it would be forceful, it would be persuasive, and it would be clear.

MS. CLIFT: Well --

MR. O'DONNELL: That's not what Bob Woodward wrote.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me finish. So "slam dunk" means means it's going to be a great speech, sir, don't think about it anymore.

MR. BLANKLEY: No, no. Look --

(Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's what they are saying.

MR. O'DONNELL: That is not what Bob Woodward wrote. Bob Woodward's scene is a beautifully done scene by a great dramatist of Washington scenes. It says precisely --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.

MR. O'DONNELL: -- that the CIA director is telling you on his own credibility --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Where did Woodward get --

MR. O'DONNELL: -- his personal credibility, the weapons are there.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Where did Woodward get that account?

MR. O'DONNELL: There were a number of people in the room. Any one of them could have given it to him. He probably has it from two people who were involved in it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, how about one first?

MR. BUCHANAN: Nobody's denied it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How about one person? Who would that be?

MR. O'DONNELL: Well, the president certainly could have given him that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The president gave it to him?

MR. BLANKLEY: He told --

MR. BUCHANAN: John?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that the others would echo what the president said necessarily?

MR. BUCHANAN: John?

MR. BLANKLEY: Not necessarily.

MS. CLIFT: But they wouldn't disagree.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Not necessarily?

MR. BUCHANAN: John, you've got a description of the guy throwing his arms up there.

MR. BLANKLEY: No. The reason --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who was in the room? Cheney was in the room. Rice was in the room.

MR. BLANKLEY: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Andrew Card was in the room. Who else was there?

MR. BLANKLEY: I don't know. I wasn't in the room. But in point of fact, all of those people's staff were briefed. Woodward would often talk to principals and to the staff of principals. You have a pretty good circle of people who he went to. And obviously, if you think Woodward is a legitimate journalist, and we all of course do --

MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. BLANKLEY: -- than you have to believe that that's his best journalistic --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, hold on here, hold on. Woodward uses people and people use Woodward. Am I right or wrong?

MR. O'DONNELL: Everybody in a Woodward book, and I've been in one of them in a small way -- everyone in it is trying to use Woodward, to sell him their version of the story to their own glory. And Bob's job, which is very difficult, is to play god and decide which one of these spinners is the angle I'm going to go with. And so the books are never completely accurate. He picks some people's versions here and other people's versions there.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. Now, why --

MS. CLIFT: Well --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, I have a question for you. Why doesn't the president, under these circumstances, with that kind of an interpretation of "slam dunk" -- namely, that this really means that the weapons of mass destruction are there -- why does he not dismiss George Tenet?

MR. BUCHANAN: Why should he? This exonerates the president of the United States. The --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why should he not?

MR. BUCHANAN: Hold it. Let me tell you. This exonerates the president of the United States totally and completely. He's got the CIA director saying they're there. And Tenet is going to be kept on board right on through November because --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why? Why?

MR. BUCHANAN: -- you don't want him outside --

MR. O'DONNELL: Because the testimony --

MS. CLIFT: Okay.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why? Why? What?

MR. BUCHANAN: You don't want him outside attacking you.

MR. O'DONNELL: Right. Exactly.

MR. BUCHANAN: He shouldn't take the dive. You don't want him taking the dive. You put him out --

MR. O'DONNELL: You want him on the payroll when he's testifying to that 9/11 commission.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about keeping the other members of the CIA also where they are and reasonably happy?

MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly.

MS. CLIFT: Yes. But you know --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right, well, he can leave under circumstances that are decorative.

MS. CLIFT: But if you read --

MR. O'DONNELL: Look, he's testifying to the 9/11 commission. You want him on the payroll, still reporting to the president, when he's doing that.

MS. CLIFT: If you read further in the book you see how uncertain they are about the evidence. They sit around and they decide who can give the most credibility to it. They choose Colin Powell because he's got ratings in the 70s. They were never confident about that evidence going forward, and they embroidered it and that does come across in the book. But you got to read a little further.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. The book is rich with data, and we can't exhaust it here. But did you take note of the fact that the president did not ask the secretary of Defense whether we should go into Iraq?

MS. CLIFT: He didn't ask anyone other than his -- basically -- flunkies: Andy Card, Condoleezza Rice and Karen Hughes. And he --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're missing one. You're missing the chief one, Eleanor. He asked the vice president.

MR. BUCHANAN: Cheney.

MS. CLIFT: Well, he didn't have to ask the vice president. He knew the vice president was pushing for this --

MR. BUCHANAN: He didn't. (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: -- 72 days after 9/11.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who called the shot?

MR. BUCHANAN: He didn't have to ask Wolfowitz, John. (Chuckles.) Those guys wanted to -- half of them wanted to go to war before they came into the Bush White House.

MS. CLIFT: That's right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exactly.

MS. CLIFT: But he --

MR. BUCHANAN: They were on board for war in 1998.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right. All right.

MS. CLIFT: Check with the Almighty.

MR. BLANKLEY: He's the president of the United States. Abraham Lincoln didn't ask for permission --

MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly.

MR. BLANKLEY: -- to go into Virginia.

MR. BUCHANAN: Everybody --

MR. BLANKLEY: Presidents make the decision when they judge they're ready --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know sophistical your statement is. The president of the United States, as happened in the Bay of Pigs, he seats his Cabinet down, and the other elders of the administration, the seniors, and they hammer it out, again and again and again.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Then they meet the following day and the following day, hammer it out again and again.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, John --

MR. O'DONNELL: That's what happened --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That is not letting somebody else call the shot. It's being totally informed.

MR. BLANKLEY: And Bush had been talking, as his opponents claim, about -- and thinking about Iraq since he got into the government.

MS. CLIFT: And not one thought --

MR. BUCHANAN: John --

MR. BLANKLEY: And it wasn't until March of 2003 that he went to war.

MS. CLIFT: And -- excuse me. And not one --

MR. BUCHANAN: John, Lincoln's entire Cabinet opposed resupplying Fort Sumter, and Lincoln said, "Go ahead."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question --

MS. CLIFT: Well, George Bush didn't spend one thought on the day after; it was all about going to war. And that also comes through in this book. It's been a disaster ever since the statue fell.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Has anybody analyzed, by the way, the possession of the Clark book by the White House for three months, probably the last quarter of 2003, in relation to the appearance of the Woodward book? Has anybody done that?

MR. BUCHANAN: I didn't know --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In other words, they knew the content --

MR. BUCHANAN: They probably didn't know what was in the Woodward book --

MR. BLANKLEY: I don't think anybody cares about these books --

(Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, but my question -- that relates to the exit question. Now try to get the nuance here. (Laughter.) Did President Bush and his aides use Woodward more than Woodward used the president and his aides?

MR. BUCHANAN: Nobody uses Woodward more than Woodward uses anybody. (Laughs.)

(Laughter.) Woodward wins every time.

MS. CLIFT: Look, I think Woodward is a fine journalist, but he is more stenographer than judge and jury. And this administration knew that, and they played him very well.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly! We have only two minutes. I mean two seconds.

MR. BLANKLEY: I think the book works reasonably well for the president.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think it's -- do you think of it as a draw? Between the two --

MR. BLANKLEY: But Woodward gets another successful book.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?

MR. O'DONNELL: Everybody in a Woodward book is trying to use Bob Woodward every second that they talk to him.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is, it's too close to call. (Laughter.)

We'll be right back with predictions.

(Announcements.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Forced prediction. The IMF says that the U.S. economy will grow by a great 4.6 percent this year. Yes or no?

MR. BUCHANAN: Slightly beneath it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: I'll go with the IMF. They've got a better calculator than me.

MR. BLANKLEY: Yes, and it'll create more than a million jobs.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes or no?

MR. O'DONNELL: No, it will not.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How much will it grow by?

MR. O'DONNELL: And definitely not before the election.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Over 4 (percent)? Over 4 (percent)?

MR. O'DONNELL: No, less than that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is yes, it will.

Next week: Is the oil at the U.N. scandal a tempest in a teapot, or is it a tempest?

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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue three: Brain branding.

ALEXANDRA GOLBY, MD (neurosurgeon, Brigham and Women's Hospital): (From videotape.) It's the ultimate focus group. It's unedited impression of what people may be thinking.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The ultimate focus group: a brain scan showing political mindset.

MARCO IACOBONI, MD (professor, UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute): (From videotape.) There are some dynamics in terms of the mental processes of Democrats and Republicans when they see the pictures of Kerry and Bush and Nader.

Scientists at UCLA took 11 volunteers, Republicans and Democrats, and fed them into imaging machines. The scientists monitored the volunteers' brains' reactions to political advertisements.

The results. Item: Feeling versus thinking. When volunteers saw an ad for their own party's candidate, the emotional part of their brain lit up. When they saw ads for the other party's candidate, the rational part of their brains lit up. Conclusions? Voters feel for their own candidate, and they think about the other guy.

Item: Soft-headed Democrats versus hard-headed Republicans. Democrats' brains become much more emotionally disturbed than Republicans' brains by TV images of violence, like the old Lyndon Johnson political ad against Barry Goldwater that featured a nuclear explosion, the daisy ad.

One thing the scientists could not determine: whether or not these brain scans have any real political utility.

Question: What would they find if they scanned the brains of the panelists on this set? Like you, Tony. What would light up your brain? Gourmand Magazine? (Laughter.)

MR. BLANKLEY: Being a hard-headed, right-thinking Republican, I'm sure that it would not be Kerry's ads that would excite me.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, would it be George McGovern that would light up your brain?

MS. CLIFT: I suspect Democrats that watch these campaign ads get red with anger or blue with -- Democrats turn blue, Republicans turn red, in keeping with the -- (inaudible word) -- colors.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, I know what would lighten up your brain.

MR. BUCHANAN: The old "Nixon the one" ads.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No! (Laughs, laughter.) Smoot-Hawley Act. (Laughter.) Right?

MR. BUCHANAN: Smoot-Hawley tariff. That's right, John. (Laughs.)

MR. O'DONNELL: Apparently UCLA literally has more research money than it knows what do to with.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. O'DONNELL: For them to be spending a dime on this is very sad.

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, it's federal grants, but it does sound like junk science.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What lights up your brain? What lights up O'Donnell's brain? Paris Hilton? (Laughter.)

MR. O'DONNELL: There's nothing like "The McLaughlin Group" for that.

MR. BUCHANAN: Arnold Schwarzenegger. (Laughs.)

MR. O'DONNELL: Right.

MS. CLIFT: What about Jack Kennedy? I think he'll work on Democrats and Republicans.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So no utility to this? This is a con job for an imaging company?

MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.) Yes.

MR. O'DONNELL: Con job. Big con job.

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