THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP
HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN
JOINED BY: TONY BLANKLEY, PATRICK BUCHANAN, ELEANOR CLIFT, AND JAMES CARNEY
TAPED: FRIDAY, AUGUST 20, 2004
BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF AUGUST 21-22, 2004
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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: Oh Come All Ye Faithful.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: (From videotape.) I'm grateful for your prayers. I'm grateful for your great service and the example you set for our country. Thanks for having me today. May God bless your organization and my God continue to bless our great country. Thank you. (Cheers, applause, chants of "Four more years, four more years!")
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: At the Knights of Columbus Convention in Dallas this month, President Bush courted Catholic voters. At the upcoming GOP convention in New York, the hoopla will shake, rattle and roll through Madison Square Garden. But it isn't the hoopla that counts; the real key to the Presidential race is the swing vote, and that's the Catholic vote.
TONY FABRIZIO (Republican pollster/strategist): If you look back historically, John, successful presidential candidates have had to win the Catholic vote in order to win the presidency.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: One out of every four voters is Catholic, making this the largest single voter group in the country. In every modern presidential election, the candidate who wins the majority of the Catholic votes also wins the presidency, as noted above. The sole exception is the year 2000. Al Gore won more Catholic votes than Bush, Gore won more popular votes than Bush, but Gore lost, of course, in the Electoral College. That was an anomaly, however.
According to a June poll two months ago of 2,239 Catholic voters, 40 percent of Catholics backed George Bush, 40 percent of Catholics backed John Kerry -- who is a Catholic, by the way, in good standing -- with 18 percent of Catholics undecided. This makes Catholics arguably the largest constituency still uncommitted in the 2004 presidential race, the critical Catholic swingers.
Question: During his visit to the Vatican this spring when he met with the Pope, President Bush urged the Vatican to press U.S. bishops to speak out against Catholic politicians that are pro-choice, which includes of course John Kerry. Is this a politically effective strategy?
MR. BUCHANAN: John, the Catholic vote used to be able to be moved by issues like tuition tax credit and right to life.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about the bishops?
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, the bishops have lost their moral authority they used to have in the time of Cardinal Spellman and Cardinal O'Boyle, quite frankly. They don't have what they used to have. Most of the bishops are operational liberals, except they are nominally pro-life, and many of them are not hard-core pro-life.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So they don't influence any Catholic votes?
MR. BUCHANAN: I don't think they influence very many Catholic votes. Quite frankly, the Catholic vote has become like the American vote now. There are cafeteria Catholics who will vote predominantly Democratic and traditional Catholics, once-a-week Mass Catholics, who will vote for George W. Bush.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, do you think George Bush did the right thing in urging the Vatican officials to tell the bishops to denounce Catholics who are -- Catholic candidates who are pro-choice?
MS. CLIFT: He did the Kerry campaign a favor because a lot of people now know that John Kerry is a Catholic, and they might not have otherwise known.
And I agree with Pat; I think that American Catholics so ignore so many of the church's teachings that they poll just like everybody else on issues like abortion and gay rights.
And cafeteria Catholics pick and choose, and so does George Bush. He's with the bishops when it comes to denying birth control information in American programs overseas, and he opposes the church on issues of war.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you concur that Catholics uniformly do not cede to bishops any authority in the matter of voting; in fact, they ignore what they have to say?
MR. BLANKLEY: Not entirely. I agree with the basic proposition. Overall, Catholics' vote now looks like the average American vote. But regular attending church Catholics, people who attend at least once a week, look a lot more Republican and they tend to pay somewhat more attention to the religious issues as they are applied into politics than those who do not regularly attend. And in that sense, they sort of look like religious Jews, religious Protestants; those who attend church regularly do pay attention to these issues and are more likely to listen to their ministers and bishops on it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Churchgoing Catholics, as churchgoers everywhere, are more in tune with conservative views and therefore more in tune with Republicans, generally speaking.
MR. CARNEY: Right. The religious divide in this country is a matter of religious intensity. It's not a division between Protestants and Catholics, Jews and Catholics. It's the more intense you are in your religious faith, the more often you go to church or synagogue, the more likely you are to have conservative values and vote Republican.
I think George W. Bush made a mistake, however, because those Catholics -- and we saw 18 percent undecided, which is high, given this election -- those Catholics --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The largest group of swing vote --
MR. CARNEY: Right, and 18 percent of them are undecided in that poll. They -- the ones who are undecided are probably disproportionately less likely to appreciate the Catholic Church dictating to them how they should vote.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Correct.
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MR. CARNEY: So Bush --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean it could be a anti-Vatican vote?
MR. BUCHANAN: John, look, let me --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Anti-Vatican, in that respect?
MR. CARNEY: Well, an anti-authority vote.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, look, I go to a Latin mass on Sunday down there at Saint -- down there downtown, at 9 a.m. John Kerry --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you know any of the Latin by heart?
MR. BUCHANAN: I know all the Latin by heart. But John Kerry --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What does the altar boy say?
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.) Look -- "introibo ad altare" --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's correct!
MR. BUCHANAN: Okay, look, but John Kerry will not get a single vote down there at the Coffey (sp) center. However, if you take Catholics for choice on abortion, which I think ought mean -- they ought to be excommunicated, he will probably get all the votes of those folks. If they're liberal, as Eleanor says, on abortion, and they don't follow the church on that, they're much more likely to be for --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hey, Eleanor --
MS. CLIFT: Well, Pat, what about Catholics who support the war? That goes against the church's teaching. Should they be excommunicated as well?
MR. BUCHANAN: But look, the war is -- the war -- the pope's view on the war is not a matter of faith and morals. It's not spoken ex cathedra, the way the church view on right to life is.
MS. CLIFT: Boy, that's terrific -- (inaudible).
MR. CARNEY: What about death penalty?
MR. BUCHANAN: Death penalty is not either.
MS. CLIFT: Right.
MR. BUCHANAN: The Vatican had a death penalty up until 1969.
MR. CARNEY: It doesn't now.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about stem cell? Stem cell?
MR. BUCHANAN: Stem cell research is an issue on which I think Catholic teaching and 6th bishops will tell you -- the orthodox ones -- that you cannot support embryonic stem cell --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, but the clear majority -- I think it's 78 percent -- favor stem cell research.
MS. CLIFT: Well, it --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now -- of Catholics.
MR. BLANKLEY: Let me --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to get it back to the Iraq war, because the pope has spoken out against the Iraq war. Is that going to affect, do you think, the Catholic vote? Notwithstanding anything we've said here thus far -- does anyone have any -- do you have any intuition on that?
MR. CARNEY: No more than --
MS. CLIFT: No, I think the church has been so silent on that issue overall. They may, you know, issue a statement now and then -- the pope says something about it -- but they don't press it at all.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But we will certainly say that it doesn't hurt the anti-Iraq thinkers, does it? The fact that the pope thinks the same way they do.
MS. CLIFT: Right.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, it's -- that's right --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And the pope is an authority on matters of --
MR. BUCHANAN: But I agree with you that -- I think there's an awful lot of conservative Catholics who disagree with me and frankly disagree with the pope, and are respectful, but they are pro-war, and they don't think it's a matter of faith and morals at all.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, Jay -- you've been to them all.
MR. CARNEY: Yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You do all this close tracking. Heavily Catholic.
MR. CARNEY: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. So this could be the election, could it not?
MR. CARNEY: Most of the swing states --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Catholics have never been wrong. They go Democrat. They go Republican. They voted for Nixon. They voted for Jimmy Carter --
MR. CARNEY: And they voted for Gore.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- Jimmy Carter.
MR. BUCHANAN: They voted 22 percent for Nixon in 1960, 33 in '68, and -- (inaudible).
MR. BLANKLEY: John, the point to remember is that because they are no longer, with the exception of church-going Catholics, distinctive in their voting pattern, what you're seeing, the fact they're split 40-40, is reflecting where the country is. And that is not their Catholicism, it's other aspects of their personality that leads them to the 40-40.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. All right. That brings us right where we ought to be.
Exit question: Will Bush carry the Catholic vote? Patrick?
MR. BUCHANAN: If he does, he wins. I don't think he will carry it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, here we go; if he does he wins. I mean, that's a real command of the obvious, is it not?
MR. BUCHANAN: My guess is it will be split just about evenly between the two of them.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, one's got to carry.
MR. BUCHANAN: All right, I'll say 51-49, Kerry.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Kerry?
MR. BUCHANAN: Mm-hmm.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Interesting.
MS. CLIFT: I believe Kerry too. I mean, Gore carried the Catholic vote in 2000, and I don't think there are too many Catholics out there who were Gore voters who are now Bush voters.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?
MR. BLANKLEY: I don't actually have a clue. (Laughter.) I think it's split down the middle.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A perfect tie!
MR. BLANKLEY: And I think anybody who makes a guess is just expressing their -- with the possible exception of Pat -- their hope. I don't --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Just a minute. There's an educated guess and there's -- I want an educated conjecture.
MR. BLANKLEY: I'm as educated as I can be on the topic.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Ohhhh. James.
MR. CARNEY: I think the only thing you can say is that if all things are equal, the fact that Gore had a slight edge with the Catholic vote in 2000, and John Kerry, in an evenly divided electorate, is Catholic, that might move a few votes. But just a few.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. So it's Kerry, Kerry -- Kerry has the --
MR. BLANKLEY: I'll give you a prediction. I'll give you a prediction. (Inaudible.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony, that's four, four against you, Tony. (Laughter.)
When we come back, "Paging Dr. Frist." Is the Senate majority leader facing a revolt from within his own party?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two: Back to school.
SENATOR JOHN KERRY (D-MA) (Democratic candidate for president): (From videotape.) We're going to raise the Pell grants and the Perkins grants to make college more affordable. (Cheers, applause.)
If we do the things that build community, we're going to pay for their full four-year in-state college public education! That's what we're going to do. (Cheers, applause.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: John Kerry is on the education offensive. Americans rank education as one of the top issues in this election. Most complain about college education; they say it's far too expensive. Candidate Kerry agrees and says he has a plan to change it:
One, tax credits for tuition worth up to $2,500 per college student per year, to be underwritten by $50 billion in taxpayer money. Two, public university education free of charge if the student performs two years of public service as a tutor or a teacher's aide, or a volunteer police officer. Cost: $13 billion. And three, rolling back Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. That's what Mr. Kerry would do to pay for the tuition tax credits and for the free public education.
Okay. So much for Mr. Kerry. Now for Mr. Bush. He's been plugging his higher education plan since January's State of the Union address:
One, job training, with the president to give community colleges $250 million for vocational training, and matching graduates with suitable jobs. Two, upping federal Pell grants for those students who have completed advanced high school classes.
Question: How potent a political issue in the presidential election is the cost of college education? Eleanor Clift.
MS. CLIFT: Well, I think it's potent on the Democratic side because it fits into the Kerry theme of the middle-class squeeze, and middle-class families really are finding it hard to pay for college. Kerry's got a plan that puts real money into these programs. The president's plan has -- you know, mere millions -- (laughs) -- are not going to go very far in furthering any of this higher education rhetoric.
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, the truth is that mere billions aren't going to go very far either. (Laughs.)
MS. CLIFT: Well, I don't know about that.
MR. BLANKLEY: This is an issue that almost every politician who runs for any office has been demagoguing for the last 25 years that I can remember, both parties. It's a real problem. I just wrote a check for a son who's going off to college in the fall, and I appreciate --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How much was it?
MR. BLANKLEY: It was $40,000.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It was 40,000? Four-oh?
MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah.
MR. BUCHANAN: It's a down payment, John.
MR. BLANKLEY: But -- and I got two more kids --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: For one year of college?
MR. BLANKLEY: One year. I got two more kids coming along.
But look, the point is -- so I appreciate the cost. And there's no question that anywhere you are on the economic level, whether you're getting some aid with a scholarship or whether you have to cover it yourself, it's a big cost, even if you've got some money. So it's a real problem. But the numbers are so large that these kind of solutions -- Kerry's solution, the $2,500 only in public schools -- well, half the kids go to private schools and colleges. And they're not all glamorous schools.
MS. CLIFT: Well, there's -- (inaudible) -- public schools, and --
MR. BLANKLEY: Public schools don't have any space for any more --
MS. CLIFT: State schools? Please.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is Bush missing the boat? What is he doing for the middle class with this plan?
MR. CARNEY: Look, I think -- it is -- politically this works for Kerry. And I think were these plans implemented, they would have impact. They would help people go to college, especially in public universities, and there's a lot of appeal to the public service aspect of the plan. But as with all of Kerry's proposals, they depend on repealing Bush's tax cut for the top 2 percent of American wage earners --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Two or one?
MR. CARNEY: Two percent, I believe.
MR. BUCHANAN: Two percent, John.
MR. CARNEY: (Inaudible.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A hundred thousand, that's the two-percent range. I don't know where you are, Pat. I think you're in the 1 percent, right?
MR. BUCHANAN: No, I'm moving back to the --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think --
MR. CARNEY: Let me -- let me say -- here's the problem --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I saw you were doing -- filling in for Scarborough the other night. You know, money does not necessarily bring happiness. Someone with $10 million is not necessarily happier than a person with $9 million. Am I right or wrong?
MR. BUCHANAN: Let me talk about the education thing.
MR. CARNEY: The problem is none of Kerry's proposals -- a lot of the Kerry proposals probably cannot pass in a Congress that will be basically even between Republicans and Democrats, and massive tax increases or roll backs of tax cuts will be a hard sell.
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Have you heard of the lifetime learning credit which was passed by the United States Congress?
MR. CARNEY: Yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Two thousand dollars I think was involved as the principal figure.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, let me talk --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And I think the president feels that that's been enough to take care of the college tuition. And of course he's missing the boat -- is he not? -- because that's all used up and there's still about an 8 to 9 percent increase which (he has just described ?).
MR. BUCHANAN: John, we better -- somebody better wake up and smell the coffee. You've got a $440 billion deficit -- over 4 percent of GDP right now. Kerry's got all these tax credits and spending plans, and it's going to be paid for by the rich?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, are we backing into the Iraq war cost now?
MR. BUCHANAN: Look, John, I'm telling you --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Iraq war is draining everything, is it
MR. BUCHANAN: You have an economy which has been going up for a couple of years and you've still got a deficit of 4 --over 4 percent of GDP. You have a hellish fiscal problem, and both candidates are being irresponsible about it.
MS. CLIFT: Well, you have the hellish fiscal problem in large part because of tax cuts that people are getting that they don't really need, and you have a workforce that can't really find jobs unless they're educated. The only answer really is to provide for people to be able to go to college. Public colleges are fine.
MR. BUCHANAN: Eleanor, we're giving up our best jobs -- the manufacturing jobs for working people are going overseas.
MS. CLIFT: We're not talking about Tony's son; we're talking about ordinary working people and getting --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. Hold on. Hold on. Hold on, Eleanor. Hold on.
I want to hear what you just said. What did you just say?
MR. BUCHANAN: Look, I forgot what I just said. (Laughter, laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. What do you (have there ?).
MR. BLANKLEY: She's saying the middle-class, middle-income people shouldn't be protected. Only poor people should be protected for the cost.
MS. CLIFT: This --
MR. BLANKLEY: You and I work hard. We have to pay for our kids' education just like anybody else. The tax --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question.
MS. CLIFT: And I don't need to be funded to send somebody to private school necessarily, but a public institution the country provides for that is fine.
MR. BLANKLEY: The tax deduction to go to the hardworking middle class. Upper middle class are entitled to it, too. And you want to roll it back for anybody over what, 7,000 (dollars)?
MS. CLIFT: I'm for that, too. I'm for that, too.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Let's get to the political pay dirt here.
Exit question: which candidate's higher education plan has more appeal for the middle class, Bush or Kerry? Exit question.
MR. BUCHANAN: Even though Bush has raised the Department by Education, it's Bush -- I mean, excuse me, it's Kerry.
MS. CLIFT: Kerry. Bush doesn't have a plan for the middle class.
MR. BLANKLEY: I think generically Democrats get more out of an education issue than Republicans, so Kerry gets --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: As with health?
MR. BLANKLEY: As with health, as with Social Security. Traditionally the public is so predisposed to assume the Democrats are helpful that the issue usually works for them.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You sound resigned to a Kerry victory.
MR. BLANKLEY: No, I don't think the issue is going to be central to election decisions in the fall.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You do not?
MR. BLANKLEY: No. I think Iraq, terrorism, and the economy will.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think it is a powerful political lever?
MR. CARNEY: I think it is one of the major issues for those who will vote on domestic issues. The economy at large, education cost is part of that. And I think that, yes, Democrats have always had the advantage on this. George W. Bush expended a great deal of political capital and money to try to eliminate that advantage the Democrats have with his No Child Left Behind Act and it hasn't worked politically, and that's a problem.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think it's a bigger -- the education is a bigger issue than it had been in previous elections, owing to the phenomenal increase in college education costs this particular year.
MR. CARNEY: No.
MR. BUCHANAN: No, no.
MR. BLANKLEY: No.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I do.
MR. CARNEY: College costs have increased phenomenally for years.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I do and I think it favors Kerry, and I think we all feel it favors Kerry except you?
MR. BUCHANAN: The problem is it's eclipsed by the war. College --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: For what it is, it favors Kerry.
MR. BLANKLEY: It's a minor issue. College costs have been going up pretty steadily for the last 27 years.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue three.
MS. CLIFT: It's a huge issue for people who feel squeezed on everything.
MR. BLANKLEY: I paid $112 to go to college, a semester, at UCLA.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, and I would never guess it. (Laughter.)
MR. BLANKLEY: And it was money well spent.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I would have thought it would have been in
the millions and super millions. (Laughter.)
MR. BLANKLEY: Money well spent.
MR. BUCHANAN: It produced this genius. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue three: Dr. Frist, emergency.
SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD, Senate minority leader): Being the majority leader is a tough job. I've been there. And you're always going to be subject to criticism. I have not made it a secret that I strongly disagree with many of the decisions that Senator Frist has made.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Senator Daschle's not the only one disagreeing with Majority Leader Frist. Republicans are also unhappy with their leader, Bill Frist, M.D. Driving the discontent is Frist's inability to get the Republican majority to pass its legislation. Among the blunders: one, the gay marriage amendment botched, with Frist unable to muster even a simple majority on the amendment procedure; two, the energy bill, with its essential funds for the nation's decrepit electrical grids, still stalled, one year after the costly, $10 billion East Coast blackout; three, medical malpractice and other lawsuit reform, designed to limit astronomical legal awards, strongly supported by President Bush, but now sidelined; four, gridlock on judicial nominees, with Senate Democrats outmaneuvering Frist to obstruct seven of President Bush's federal judge selections.
Question: Is Frist facing mission impossible, meaning the GOP majority in the Senate is fifty -- slender -- is so slender that it's amazing he can accomplish anything?
MR. CARNEY: Yeah. Look, nobody in this job, John, could do much better than Bill Frist has done. His problem is that he was hand- selected by the White House and he is essentially controlled by the White House because of their patronage, and that has created a problem with him on a series of pieces of legislation, including the energy bill, where White House prerogatives -- where the White House has insisted things stay in the bill that prevented legislation from moving forward. He would be more able to cut deals, but alienate other Republicans if he weren't --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: To make your point, to make your point --
MR. CARNEY: If he had gotten there on his own, he wouldn't have this problem.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He would not.
Okay. To make your point: Karl Rove is insisting on this gay amendment vote even though he knew he was going to lose the vote, because he's trying to woo --
MR. BLANKLEY: Cultural conservatives.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- cultural conservatives and he's trying to woo the fundamentalists who did not vote in the last election, 4 million strong. Okay?
Now, Frist just yields to that. Is Frist too soft towards the White House? Why does he let Karl Rove and the White House pull his strings?
MR. CARNEY: Because he owes his job to Karl Rove and the White House.
MR. BLANKLEY: No, let me --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Ah!
MR. CARNEY: Which is not -- well, Frist is in a very difficult position.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You've been in politics long enough to know that even though the hand that fed you fed you, nevertheless you can turn around and bite that hand if it is now abusing you.
MR. CARNEY: Perhaps Dr. Frist is --
MR. BLANKLEY: John, let me explain. Look. Even though it's hard, he's had some successes, like passing the Medicare bill, that was remarkable, and he's had some failures that were inexcusable even given the numbers, particularly the loss on the tort reform case. I think on the question of gay marriage, it wasn't a question of bringing it but it was a mismanagement of the amendment process, had nothing to do with the White House, had to do with technical legislative management.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He didn't even get the --
MR. BLANKLEY: So he's done better and worse than --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, let's get out. Let's get out. How do you rate Frist on a 10-scale, 10 meaning superlative, the greatest ever?
MR. BUCHANAN: You mean like Lyndon Johnson, 10? I would say he's about a 3 or 4.
MS. CLIFT: I agree with that. He's the least experienced majority leader in our lifetime.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you down around there too, at the bottom of the barrel?
MR. BLANKLEY: No, no. I would give him about a 5-1/2 at the mechanical level and about an 8-1/2 at the public presentation/media asset level.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, that sounds about right. I'm glad they pumped all that money into your education.
What have you got?
MR. CARNEY: You know, I think his situation is hard; I give him a 7.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You give him a 7?
MR. CARNEY: Yeah.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really? I think he's down around where Pat had him. But is there any possibility that he might not last? Is there any --
MR. BLANKLEY: No. He'll get reelected.
MS. CLIFT: Unless he's not going to run again.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, this is on the choice by the Republicans.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, he's got a very, very tough, hard phalanx of Democrats, for example, who vote unanimously against Republican --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We all think, however, that he is really going to toughen up; right?
MS. CLIFT: No. Why?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What?
MS. CLIFT: Why do we think he's going to toughen up?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why not?
MS. CLIFT: Okay. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I mean, it's obvious he has to.
We'll be right back with predictions.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes or no? The next big thing will be the clear movement of the United States into isolationism. Yes or no?
MR. BUCHANAN: Yes. Come home, America.
MS. CLIFT: No.
MR. BLANKLEY: No, because reality always forces people back into engaging in the world.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the answer, James?
MR. CARNEY: Absolutely no chance. Neither candidate is an isolationist.
MR. BUCHANAN: Events.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is, cultural events and political events will so drive the country. I say it's inevitable. And Pat, your time has finally come!
MR. BUCHANAN: A little late for me.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you going to take another hiatus from The Group?
MR. BUCHANAN: We'll take a look. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Bye-bye.
END OF REGULAR SEGMENT
PBS SEGMENT FOLLOWS
BEGIN PBS SEGMENT
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue four: Alien suffrage.
Should non-U.S. citizens be able to vote in U.S. elections? Repeat: residents of the U.S. with no citizenship, should they be allowed to vote? Well, voters in San Francisco will decide that in November, when they cast ballots on whether to let people who live in San Francisco who are not U.S. citizens vote in local elections. Community movements to give non-citizens voting rights have sprung up in New York City, New Haven, Cambridge, Amherst and Washington, D.C. And in some places, non-citizens already vote in local elections; namely Chicago and several municipalities in Maryland like Takoma Park.
Non-citizen voting has a historical precedent. Indeed, 22 U.S. states and territories allowed "alien suffrage" at various times during the 1800s and 1900s. But by 1928, all states had changed their voting laws to stop non-citizen voting. Fervent anti-immigrant sentiment had swept the nation after the big waves of out-migration from Europe.
Question: Is it sound public policy to let non-citizens vote?
MR. CARNEY: I don't think it is, John. I think -- and I'm sympathetic to the reasons why these legal residents might want to; you know, because their kids go to school and they need to have a say on issues and on school boards. I'm sympathetic to that, but I think that you start -- it's a dangerous precedent to say that -- I mean, the first -- the jewel, the crown jewel of citizenship is your right to vote, and I think you need to be a citizen to vote.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Don't you want these residents to have a stake in their community, and if they vote they have a stake?
MR. CARNEY: Well, then they should go through the process to become citizens because if you are a legal resident, you are -- the process is open to you to become a citizen.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think granting this kind of power to vote, it decentivizes becoming a citizen?
MR. BUCHANAN: It dilutes the value of American citizenship, John. It is an outrage that individuals who simply come here and live here have a right to choose America's leaders. America's leaders should be chosen by Americans. I think what we're seeing is a diminution, really, of patriotism across the board when ideas like this are getting a hearing.
MS. CLIFT: Well, this is very limited voting rights we're talking about. Only local elections.
MR. BUCHANAN: In the beginning, Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: Well, it's been going on for some time and it has not expanded. These people pay taxes, their children are in the schools, and for the most part the children are citizens. I mean, I think it should be part of a step towards citizenship. I think you can make it an incentive and make that as part of fulfilling the requirement towards becoming a citizen. But I think you want these people to be included in American society. They are already here, they are patriotic citizens, and this is a way for them to be more involved in the schools.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that this might cause enclaves to develop, and so Balkanization? I mean, if it is known that in any given municipality one can vote without being a citizen, will that function as a magnet to draw others, and then you have -- well, if it happens to be a Muslim community, you have certain demands -- you have certain -- a vote, for example, to wear common dress, which may be unacceptable.
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, I mean, this is Balkanization. I mean, it's unbelievable. You start off with people who are living in areas ethnically, and then you say you get them government resources now under the Constitution --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. What's the bottom line? We're out of time. Are you against it?
MR. BLANKLEY: It's nuts.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You do not want it.
MR. BLANKLEY: Nuts.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't want it, either.
MR. CARNEY: I don't want it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You want it. Do you want it? Absolutely not. It looks like four against one, Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: Okay. (Laughs, laughter.) I'll move to Tacoma Park. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Enjoy it over there!
MS. CLIFT: Right. (Laughs, laughter.)