THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP
HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN
JOINED BY: TONY BLANKLEY, PATRICK BUCHANAN, ELEANOR CLIFT AND DAVID CORN
TAPED: FRIDAY, JUNE 11, 2004
BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF JUNE 12-13, 2004
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THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: May he rest in peace.
BISHOP JOHN BRYSON CHANE (dean, Washington National Cathedral): (From videotape.) With faith in Jesus Christ, we receive the body of our brother Ronald for burial.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The 40th president of the United States, Ronald Wilson Reagan, died Saturday of last week, at the age of 93, after a long illness.
President Reagan served two terms. Fifteen presidents of the 43 in our nation's history have done so -- hardly more than one out of three. Of the 15, only 12 finished their terms -- slightly more than one out of four.
Question: Ronald Reagan's death last week brought with it a resurrection. What is that resurrection, Pat Buchanan?
MR. BUCHANAN: John, it was the resurrection of sort of an era of good feeling in America, a resurrection of the kind of national unity we had after 9/11, over an awful event. A disputatious and contentious and quarrelsome family came together to tell stories about --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The national family.
MR. BUCHANAN: -- exactly -- to tell stories about and anecdotes about and recollect a great and good man. And I think there was a tremendous feeling of unity and unanimity in this country about Ronald Reagan. I don't know how long it's going to last, but I think it was a wonderful week, following up on Normandy and Memorial Day and the World War II Memorial. And so I think it's a very positive feeling.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, do you think that feeling of unity, that interlude of unity, welcome as it was, was not entirely owing to Ronald Reagan; that it was owing to an appetite, a national appetite that had been generated since the last election four years ago, where the country became polarized; and since that time, that polarization has maintained itself and now is showing itself with a particular level of, shall I say, viciousness?
MS. CLIFT: Well, yeah, there was a resurrection of goodwill. And Ronald Reagan made us feel good. When he came to the presidency, he lifted the country's spirits after essentially three presidents that had ended with failure -- one resigned, one couldn't get elected, one couldn't get reelected. And so he came at a moment in history when America really needed somebody with his buoyant spirit.
And he is a former Democrat, and he reached out, and he was always seeking converts. And that is the big difference between Ronald Reagan and the president we have today. The president today would like to consign his political opponents to oblivion. And Ronald Reagan's legacy is Reagan Republicans. I don't think we're ever going to see a Bush Republican.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you see what I was trying -- I'm getting at here, with the level of discord in the country? Now it takes on a special edge because of the war, and the people want that concord and that peace, that tranquility, howsoever brief it may be, that has developed from the recollection of this great man.
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, I take the fact that there's partisanship now. I do not take the fact that the '80s were some time of good feeling. I mean, it was a vicious partisan battle. It happens that Reagan won the better part of that, with 65 percent approval when he left office in '89, but the idea that we -- there wasn't vicious partisanship going on in the '80s is a rewriting of a very tough 10 years.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think -- and welcome, by the way, David Corn, and welcome on your -- the publication in paper of your book, "The Lies of George W. Bush," which I'm sure you're going to make heavy weather of if you can get away with it on this show. (Laughter.) Do you think that this unity is transitory? And do you think that it has any benefit for the incumbent?
MR. CORN: Let me challenge the fact or the assumption that there is unity now. In the media we saw lots of goodwill and lots of laudatory statements about the 40th president. I'm not sure that reflects the general public will. There are a lot of people -- I've gotten e-mails, and when I've been on the air to talk about some of the divisive political battles that Tony referenced in the '80s, I have a lot of people calling me and writing me, saying, "Listen, we don't feel this tremendous goodwill about the Reagan presidency back in the '80s," you know. "Our hearts go out to the family. It was a terrible decade of trauma they went through." But I think -- you know, I think the comity that you speak of that has descended --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: C-O-M-I-T-Y, comity, right?
MR. CORN: Exactly. It's not comedy; comity.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay.
MR. CORN: -- you know, is overstated in terms of where the public might be at.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Boy, I don't. I think there's a remarkable outpouring of everyone saying nice things almost, except possibly taking points of difference with some of his economic policy, as some people think that he was not sufficiently available and intellectually to the poor. But we'll get into that in a minute.
Okay, Reagan economic legacy. 1980, the year before Ronald Reagan took office, the economy was in the worst recession since the Great Depression: unemployment rate, 10 percent; inflation rate, 15 percent; top federal income tax bracket -- get this -- 70 percent. It was under these conditions that Reagan announced his tax-cut manifesto.
RONALD REAGAN (former U.S. president): (From videotape.) If the tax cut goes to you, the American people, in the third year, that money returned to you won't be available to the Congress to spend. And that, in my view, is what this whole controversy comes down to. Are you entitled to the fruits of your own labor, or does government have some presumptive right to spend and spend and spend?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: in what way did Reagan radically alter prevailing economic doctrine at that time?
MS. CLIFT: Well, I'll quote Vice President Dick Cheney, who said: "Reagan taught us that deficits don't matter." And I think the casual attitude towards the rising deficits today is a leftover from the Reagan years. The difference is that Reagan apparently got something for his money, and that was he did help bring the Soviet Union to its knees. The deficits we're establishing today are going to be put on the shoulders of our grandchildren and great grandchildren, and there's no easy way to pay that off.
MR. BUCHANAN: Look, John.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, I'm obviously talking about supply side economics.
MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly. Ronald Reagan believed in a -- came to believe in an idea --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is that supply side economics?
MR. BUCHANAN: Supply side economics is that if you cut the marginal tax rates at the top level, you can get a dramatic return even in the event if you cut capital gains taxes, you'll increase capital gains, which is exactly what happened. He cut the tax rates at the top level by the time 1986 all the way down from 70 percent, John, to 28 percent. And there was a tremendous boom which began in 1983, frankly continued through the Clinton years, 17 years, 40 million jobs created --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on. Hold on.
MR. BUCHANAN: -- the greatest stock market boom in history.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Before we move on, who were the theoreticians he drew on?
MR. BUCHANAN: Theoreticians were Jack Kemp --
MR. BLANKLEY: Laffer.
MR. BUCHANAN: -- Roth -- I mean, Stockman --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Art Laffer.
MR. BLANKLEY: Art Lapper.
MR. BUCHANAN: And the fellow --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Norman Ture?
MR. BUCHANAN: Bill Steiger, who died, who cut the capital gains tax.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Jude Wanniski
MR. BUCHANAN: Wanniski is right in the middle of it. Exactly.
MR. BLANKLEY: There are others.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Before you get into this, and you're going to be allowed in, but first, Reagan's greatest economic success:
The terms of the debate under which economic argument in America was conducted were changed by Ronald Reagan. Robert Kuttner puts it well, noting that before Reagan, Republicans were the "me too" party in Washington. "`We're for Medicare too, but a little bit less. We're for cutting pollution too, but a little bit less.' After Reagan, the Republicans really defined the terms of debate, and the Democrats were left saying, `Well, we don't really like government either, but we don't hate it as much as the Republicans. And we're for lower taxation too, but we don't really want to go quite as far as the Republicans.' Not only was Ronald Reagan uniquely successful in seizing the public debate by the throat and defining the terms of discourse, but a lot of Democrats offered the electorate a kind of uncertain trumpet for their side of the argument."
Ronald Reagan recast the terms of debate under which economics were discussed in America. They are still operating those terms as the terms of the debate.
The question, the question to you is, why is it that these are still the terms of the debate? Why is it, except that it has economic inherent superiority to what the Democrats were putting out?
MR. CORN: Well, excuse me. (As to ?) the terms of those debates, you had Bill Clinton be president for eight years. And while he paid rhetorical -- rhetorical respect to the terms of those debates, as you remember and as the conservative panelists remember, they accused him of not abiding by these in the way he governed.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, wait a minute. We're talking about a basic template that Ronald Reagan changed, that is still in effect as a controlling template.
MR. BLANKLEY: He even --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute.
MR. CORN: Listen, he said I want less taxes and less government. Since then -- that sounds good to most people. At the same time, they want Medicare, they want education; they have the big Medicare prescription drug bill that the president passed even while calling for smaller government.
MR. BLANKLEY: Let me just --
MR. CORN: So the rhetorical terms exist, because it's like a Hallmark greeting card.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, but what do you think of Kuttner's statement that the Democrats, including you, are sounding an uncertain trumpet?
MR. CORN: Well, don't (lump ?) me with the Democrats. But listen, I think he's right. I think Bob Kuttner's right, and he represents the liberal wing of the Democratic party that was put off -- that is actually challenging the middle-of-the-road wing which was put off and scared -- (cross talk).
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute, wait a minute.
MR. BLANKLEY: Can the right wing get in for a second? (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute, wait a minute. Is John Kerry actually one of those who is sounding the uncertain trumpet --
MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, he's calling for a tax cut.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- that he's playing off the governing Reagan template? MR. CORN: He is saying that the Bush tax cuts are wrong and he wants --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But he will cut taxes on the middle class. (Cross talk.) You cut taxes too much, but I'll cut taxes too. That's the Republican template.
MR. CORN: It's about the level of taxation.
MS. CLIFT: Democrats are still scared by the tax issue, but the Republican revolution that Ronald Reagan started President Bush is ending, because the tax cut issue does not have the resonance today that it had when marginal rates were 70 percent.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about that, Pat?
MS. CLIFT: And what would a George Bush second term entail?
MR. BUCHANAN: Now, look. Bill Clinton --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on.
MR. BUCHANAN: -- as Dick Morris said --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to pick up your point.
MR. BUCHANAN: All right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is George Bush abandoning the template of Ronald Reagan? MR. BUCHANAN: Well, first let me say, Bill Clinton ratified, as Dick Morris writes, ratified the Reagan Revolution --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In what respect?
MR. BUCHANAN: The era of big government is over -- (cross talk) -- hold it. He took welfare -- he threw the people off welfare.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Reagan wanted welfare reform and the Democrats and the Republicans --
MR. BUCHANAN: Gave him welfare reform.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Including Clinton --
MR. BUCHANAN: Gave him welfare reform.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It is now one family and one voice.
MS. CLIFT: Reagan's --
MR. BUCHANAN: Bush is right along the line --
MS. CLIFT: Reagan's --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let Pat finish.
MR. BUCHANAN: George Bush is right along the Reaganite line. He moved from 39.6 percent tax to 35 percent. He cut other taxes. He's cut capital gains taxes. He's cut taxes on dividends. But the deficits are back.
MS. CLIFT: Reagan signed a law that liberalized abortion rights when he was governor of California, and Reagan signed a bill that was the biggest expansion of the social welfare state. Remember catastrophic health insurance? It passed, I believe, in 1988. It was repealed in 1989.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's move on.
MS. CLIFT: He talked a really good game, but he did not dismantle the social system to the -- (inaudible due to cross talk) -- a lot of you guys like to think.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's move on. Tony, work your answer in under this exit question. Will the unity surrounding Reagan's death have any impact whatsoever on the fall presidential election? And if so, to whose detriment?
MR. BUCHANAN: It will be to the detriment of Kerry for this reason: Bush has embedded himself in -- as heir to the Reagan tradition. He embedded himself in the funeral. If you think well of Ronald Reagan, and you want to know who is his heir and who should you follow if you want something like that again, the only conceivable beneficiary is Bush.
MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: I think it has zero impact, but if anything, George Bush looks like a very small figure compared to the giant Reagan we have watched the last week.
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh. So there's a stature -- a stature --
MS. CLIFT: I think there's a stature gap, a humor gap. I mean, Bush has the swagger, but Reagan had swagger with a wink in his eye.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Did you hear what she said?
MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There's a stature gap that's going to cut against Bush because it will be evident that the stature of Ronald Reagan minifies the stature of George Bush.
MR. BLANKLEY: I understand. I wrote that in my column this week, that liberals are complimenting Reagan only to try to belittle Bush.
But let me answer your question. The fact is that the combination of this break this week, plus the events that have happened in Iraq with the new government, have given a pause to the campaign rhythm and a chance for Bush to represent himself. I don't think the fact that we love Reagan is going to elect Bush, but I do think that it sets a moment that Bush can now relaunch a campaign more effectively than he was running it up until this time.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think? Is this unity? Which you practically deny. Well whatever it is, whatever you think it is -- good feeling -- is going to help Bush or is it going to hurt Bush?
MR. CORN: It will make no difference. Tony is right. The free fall that Bush was in had a pause in it because of this and other events the past week. But between now and November 2nd, there will be lots of events in Iraq and elsewhere that are going to dictate how those 3 percent swing voters will make up their mind, and they won't be thinking about the death of Ronald Reagan on Election Day.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you know the intensity and the prolongation, correct prolongation, of this week will never be forgotten. It will be active even in November. Now, will it help Bush or hurt Bush? What about the stature gap that she sees?
MR. CORN: Well, I think there is a stature gap.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will that hurt him?
MR. CORN: Well, I don't think that in and of itself will hurt him. I think what will hurt him --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It could hurt him. Do you allow for that?
MR. CORN: -- is his policies in Iraq and his economic policies.
MR. BUCHANAN: No. No. No.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is -- the answer is it will, I think, not benefit the president. But it remains to be seen whether it's going to benefit Kerry.
When we come back: Reagan the "cold warrior." Was he an impatient hawk or was he a prudent diplomat?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two: Reagan foreign policy. Ronald Reagan's reputation in some quarters as a fast-draw, shoot-from-the- hip hard-liner is not borne out by the data. Quite the contrary. Reagan exhibited remarkable prudence and, some believe, uncanny long- term vision. Case in point, September 1, 1983, a South Korean passenger jet was shot down, killing all 269 aboard, including 55 Americans. The plane was shot down by a war jet of the Soviet Union. An outcry for retaliation against the Evil Empire erupted. Presidential Counselor Michael Deaver describes Reagan's reaction.
MICHAEL DEAVER (former presidential counselor); (From videotape.) He said, `Fellas, I've heard all of this, but let me tell ya, we're not gonna do anything.' And I was stunned. Here was a guy who had the best chance in 40 years to do whatever he wanted to do to the Soviets. And then he said, `The world's gonna make a judgment about them. We don't have to. What we have to do is keep our long- term interests in mind here.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A second case in point. Muslim terrorists in October 1983 drove a suicide truck bomb into the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut. Two hundred and forty-one American troops died. What was the president's response? Over the ensuing five-month period, the commander in chief withdrew the 2,000 remaining Marines, first stationing them at sea, off the coast of Lebanon, then moving them from the theater entirely. Then, Reagan accepted full responsibility.
MR. REAGAN: (From videotape.) If there is to be blame, it properly rests here in this office and with this president, and I accept responsibility for the bad as well as the good.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: The provocations of September 11 were of greater magnitude, of course, than the Soviet shoot-down of the jetliner and the Beirut Marine barracks bombing. Given that, how would Ronald Reagan have responded to the horrors of 9/11? Would he have invaded, for example, Iraq? Patrick?
MR. BUCHANAN: We don't know what Ronald Reagan would have done. I do not believe Ronald Reagan would have launched an invasion of Iraq unless he found and discovered hard evidence that Saddam Hussein and Iraq were behind this atrocity. In the absence of that evidence, I don't think he would have gone in. I think he would have done Afghanistan exactly the way George Bush did.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, Reagan was experienced in dealing with the Soviet Union. He had four meetings with --
MR. BUCHANAN: Summits.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Four summits.
MR. BUCHANAN: I was at two of them.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You were at two of them?
MR. BUCHANAN: Mm-hmm.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And he knew how to squeeze by forcing them into bankruptcy with our immense military spending, the biggest in peacetime.
But let me move on. Let me move on here. I want to ask you whether or not you think, because he knew the Soviet Union, where there were real weapons of mass destruction in enormous numbers, and where that was contained by treaties and by inspections, whether you think Ronald Reagan, in the instance of Iraq, would have invaded Iraq. You follow me?
MR. CORN: I see you. I see you. Probably not, since at the time in the '80s he was supporting Iraq.
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, look.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, that is tangential to the main point of my question.
MR. BLANKLEY: John, let me get in.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The main question is, he knew what worked.
MR. BLANKLEY: Let me make --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He knew the treaties worked. He knew the inspections worked. And he got Gorbachev to tear down the wall.
MR. BLANKLEY: Let me --
MR. CORN: The interesting thing about Ronald Reagan's foreign policy, which is an issue that we keep debating, is that he went from being very hawkish in the first term and pushing SDI, and then in the second term, when he had these summit meetings that Pat was at, he was more of a cajoler.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.
MR. BLANKLEY: Can I --
MR. CORN: And he found a willing -- (cross talk) -- in Gorbachev, and he had a tremendous success --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He ditched the right and he went to Gorbachev because he had an immense sense of carpe diem. He saw the opportunity and he went for it, and his ideology did not get in the way. Is that true?
MR. CORN: Yes, it is.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that true with you?
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, and --
MR. BLANKLEY: Can I get a word in here just for a second?
MS. CLIFT: And I get next.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute. Let Tony speak. Quickly.
MS. CLIFT: I said I --
MR. BLANKLEY: Eleanor, you go first.
MS. CLIFT: I go first?
MR. BLANKLEY: Go ahead.
MS. CLIFT: Oh, okay. I just wanted to say I want to give Nancy Reagan some credit, also, for the president's foreign policy with regard to the Soviet Union because she understood that his legacy would only be made if he had some accommodation with the Soviets, and none other than Mikhail Gorbachev gives her credit.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay.
Tony, this is going to neglect you a little bit in two ways. First of all, I'm not going to let you answer that question now or make that point.
Here's the Group's most prestigious fan in his first term, Ronald Reagan. He invited The McLaughlin Group to the White House for spritely conversation. Here we are pictured. Note Pat's full head of hair.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Chuckles.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Then, in his second term, President Reagan came to us to celebrate the Group's third anniversary party.
PRESIDENT REAGAN: (From videotape.) "The McLaughlin Group" also serves as the most tasteful programming alternative to professional wrestling live from Madison Square Garden. (Laughter.)
Well, thank you for making that half hour every weekend something very special to look forward to. I wouldn't miss it. I can't afford to. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, do you remember that?
MR. BUCHANAN: I do remember it. That second one, I was in the White House, John, with Ronald Reagan. I was the director of communications. And I had to do everything I could to get him to come to your little party, John! (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Laughs.) You really pulled the strings, huh, Pat?
MR. BUCHANAN: I just -- I pulled everything I had, John! (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to thank you. And was that done with the expectation that you would be back? Is that -- when you finished your little adventure in the Reagan administration?
MR. BUCHANAN: Yes, that was the trade-off, that was the trade- off, John! (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Shall we grade Reagan? Here we go.
How is President Reagan graded against the nation's 39 other gradeable presidents? Here's a survey of 78 presidential historians, political scientists and legal scholars, conducted in the year 2000, and the results of their gradings of American presidents using six categories: great, near great, above average, average, below average, failure.
Greats: Washington, Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt. Near greats: Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, Jackson, Truman, Reagan, Eisenhower, Wilson. Above average: Cleveland, John Adams, McKinley, Madison, Monroe, Lyndon Johnson, John F. Kennedy. Average: Taft, John Quincy Adams, George H.W. Bush, Hayes, Van Buren, Clinton, Coolidge, Arthur. Below average: Benjamin Harrison, Ford, Hoover, Carter, Taylor, Grant, Nixon, Tyler, Fillmore. Failures: Andrew Johnson, Pierce, Harding, Buchanan.
William Henry Harrison and James Garfield are not included because they died too early in their first terms to be graded. George W. Bush is also not included since his record is not finished.
Who is missing?
MR. BUCHANAN: Polk.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Excellent. James Polk is missing. Where does he belong in these categories?
MR. BUCHANAN: Near great. He doubled the size of the country.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exactly.
MR. BUCHANAN: Sure, he took Mexico -- half of Mexico, California --
MR. CORN: He took it, that's right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Where does he occur chronologically in the series of presidents?
MR. BUCHANAN: He occurred right after --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, what's the number you assign him?
MR. BUCHANAN: The number I would assign him?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes, the number you assign him in the series, one through 40 -- or one through 43.
MR. BUCHANAN: I would say he's nine or 10.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No he isn't, Pat. Pat!
Who can tell me?
MS. CLIFT: Not me! (Laughs.)
MR. CORN: Fifteen?
MR. BUCHANAN: He's -- look, it's Van Buren, Tyler, Polk -- Van Buren, Harrison, Tyler, Polk.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's number 11, Pat.
MR. BUCHANAN: Okay. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right.
Exit: Is Reagan the greatest American president since World War II? Yes or no. Quickly.
MR. BUCHANAN: Yes.
MS. CLIFT: I'll give him near great, and I'm sure he'd be happy to be in that company.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is he the greatest since World War II?
MR. BLANKLEY: Currently he's a near great above Truman. I think in 10 or 20 years he could move --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is he the greatest since World War II?
MR. BLANKLEY: Yes, and --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. Was he the greatest since World War II?
MR. CORN: No, he's not. He was bad for the poor, he was bad for low-income Americans, and he was bad for anyone in Central America who got in the way when the military --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We have polled over 300 million academics and they all disagree with you.
MR. CORN: Well, I'll happily disagree with them. They say he's near great and they place him above Eisenhower.
What do you say?
MR. BLANKLEY: I think he's not only above Truman --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Since World War II.
MR. BLANKLEY: Not only above Truman, but he's going to join the pantheon.
MR. BUCHANAN: Of the greatest.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The pantheon?
MR. BUCHANAN: Of the greatest.
MR. CORN: He's going to join the --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean the Athens Pantheon?
MS. CLIFT: I think not.
MR. BLANKLEY: No, the Roosevelt-Lincoln pantheon.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is he is the greatest president since World War II.
We'll be right back with predictions.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Out of time. Bye-bye!
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue three: Money Talks.
Is re-naming the national airport in Washington not enough? Not according to many admirers of President Ronald Reagan. They would like to see his portrait replace that of Alexander Hamilton on the U.S. $10 bill. Hamilton was a nice guy and everything, but he wasn't president. So says Grover Norquist, who heads the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project. Hamilton was a founding father and the first secretary of the Treasury.
Well, President Bush, what do you think of putting Ronald Reagan's profile on U-S legal tender?
PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape) Look, I am -- I am going to Washington to pay honor to Mrs. Reagan and her family. I'll give a speech tomorrow, and then I will reflect on further ways to honor a great president.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Is it a good idea to put Reagan's portrait on a U.S. $10 bill? I ask you, David Corn.
MR. CORN: No.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No?! Why not?!
MR. CORN: Well, I would not put anyone's portrait on any bill who ran an administration that made deals with dictators and supported the suppression of human rights in places like Chile, Guatemala, El Salvador.
MR. BLANKLEY: Like FDR, you mean?
MR. CORN: I know -- I know --
MR. BLANKLEY: FDR in Central America?
MR. CORN: Listen, I know that's not popular to say, but there is a dark side to the Reagan years that, you know, that we haven't discussed much on this show, and for those reasons, I don't think he --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think I've afforded you every opportunity --
MR. CORN: No, no, no, no. It's not you.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Excuse me.
MR. CORN: It's a time thing, John.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay.
MR. BUCHANAN: John?
MR. CORN: It's a time thing.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In other words, we may have to have you back.
MR. BUCHANAN: FDR made a deal with Stalin. George Washington made a deal with the king of France, who was a dictator.
MR. CORN: (Inaudible.)
MR. BUCHANAN: Hold it. But Hamilton is the greatest American founder other than Washington. He led the bayonet charge at Yorktown. He's a father of the Constitution.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, please. Please.
MR. BUCHANAN: He wrote the Federalist Papers, and he was --