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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP

HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN

PANEL:
PATRICK BUCHANAN, MSNBC;
ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK;
TONY BLANKLEY, THE WASHINGTON TIMES;
LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC

DATE: FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 2004


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THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.
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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Kerry Strikes Back.

SENATOR JOHN KERRY (D-MA): (From videotape.) Let me put it plainly: The president's policy in Iraq has not strengthened our national security; it has weakened it. At every fork in the road, he has taken the wrong turn and he has led us in the wrong direction. He failed to tell the truth -- he failed to tell the truth about the rationale for going to war.

This administration has consistently overpromised and underperformed. And this policy has been plagued by a lack of planning, by an absence of candor, arrogance and outright incompetence.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: John Kerry found his footing this week to attack George Bush's handling of both the Iraq War and the war on terrorism, in his first comprehensive and trenchant speech on U.S. policy in Iraq. Kerry seized the offensive, foreshadowing the content and strategy he will use in Florida's Coral Gables debate this coming Thursday night.

SEN. KERRY: (From videotape.) In Iraq this administration's record is filled with bad predictions, inaccurate cost estimates, deceptive statements, and errors of judgment -- presidential judgment -- of historic proportions. At every critical juncture in Iraq and in the war on terrorism, the president has made the wrong choice.

More than 1,100 Americans were wounded in August -- more than in any other month since the invasion. We are fighting a growing insurgency in an ever-widening war zone. In March, insurgents attacked our forces 700 times. In August they attacked 2,700 times.

The president's insistence that he would do the same thing all over again in Iraq is a clear warning for the future, and it makes the choice in this election clear: More of the same with President Bush, or a new, smarter direction with John Kerry that makes our troops and America safer.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Did Kerry gain the offensive? Is this strategy working?

MR. BUCHANAN: John, I believe it is the right strategy for Kerry. It's the necessary strategy. I do believe he's going to gain traction. Basically what he's saying is this war was a blunder and it has been mismanaged horribly.

Kerry's problems are these, though, John. He has not established himself as a credible leader as an alternative to the president. Secondly, he has not laid out an exit strategy, which I think he's got to do. But third, he is wide open to having played against him the patriotism card, the charge that while men are fighting and dying in Iraq, John Kerry is undermining the war effort and destroying American morale. That's what's coming at him.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, he laid down what I conclude to be about a five- or six-point plan in that 47-minute masterpiece address. I'm not joking. It was an extraordinarily --

MR. BUCHANAN: But, John, nobody's paying --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- concise piece of recapitulation of what he thinks about the war. And at the end of it, he calls for a phased drawdown of troops, starting after the election.

MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah, but he says he's going to --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's the January election.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- he's going to have them out in four years. That is not bold enough, I think, as an exit strategy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How long did the phased drawdown of Vietnam under your leader, Richard Milhous Nixon, take? How many years?

MR. BUCHANAN: It took four years. But if you read Novak this week, he said --

MR. BLANKLEY: And we lost. And we lost.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- he said the administration may be planning its own quick exit strategy, and John Kerry better be alert to that fact.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The exit strategy begins with Kerry, as I see it, in February of 2005. So there is a plan, Pat. This was not only an attack on Bush. This was an exposition of what to do with the situation, clearer than anything that you've seen, I think, in your --

MR. BUCHANAN: Certainly --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- (inaudible) -- from the Bush administration.

MR. BUCHANAN: Certainly clearer than you've made it here. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He'll resort to any club in the (corner?), won't he? (Laughter.)

MS. CLIFT: Well, look, nobody's advocating cutting and running. But as the situation in Iraq looks more and more like a lost cause, fresh thinking is in order. And frankly, all the rumors are is that President Bush, after the November election, is planning a bloody offensive in the cities, and he's not doing it now because he doesn't want the casualties.

Look, Kerry did give a forceful speech. After spending most of the year tip-toeing around the issue of Iraq, he went straight at Bush. And he's got to define Iraq as a diversion and not a central front in the war on terror. And to the extent he can do that, he is positioned to win this election.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: I'm amused by -- you've heard all the bloody rumors. You know, I mean, I'm sure those are rumors circulating with most of those people.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: About what?

MR. BLANKLEY: She just mentioned the bloody rumors of --

MS. CLIFT: The rumors of a bloody --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, Fallujah. You saw the front page of the New York Times.

MR. BLANKLEY: You can pick --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You read the Times, even though you have your own Washington Times?

MR. BLANKLEY: I read the New York Times every day. And I have --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It was a big story, Tony. I'm not joking.

MR. BLANKLEY: Everybody pick the rumor they want. Let me talk briefly about the question. Kerry has taken what is probably the most useful position he can take on Iraq. He's driven to this place because he has no alternative. He cannot win this campaign on the economy and health care. He's got to beat Bush on Iraq.

Now, he's taken every position under the sun. I could go into the cutting room and pull together any number of quotes about Kerry saying the opposite of what he said in the quotes you threw together. He is now forced to have to take positions that are inconsistent with what he said before. He's splitting his base, which is about two-thirds anti-war and about one-third sort of Biden-Liebermanesque kind of "We've got to see this through."

He doesn't present a sense of victory. He's making it sound like he's going to just manage the retreat. And I don't think the American public wants to manage the retreat and they're not going to elect a man to do that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, Kerry points out in that speech that the rationales for going into the war, by his count, by George Bush add up to 23.

MR. BLANKLEY: He's trying to get into -- he has been on so many sides of this issue, he's lost all credibility. Even the major media has to report all of his previous inconsistencies. Now he's trying to project his inadequacies onto the president and saying he's been a flip-flopper. It's not going to work.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Twenty-three is a substantial number.

MR. BLANKLEY: You can have more than one reason to go to war.

MR. O'DONNELL: In order to call Kerry a flip-flopper on Iraq, you must ignore every single thing we've learned about it since the president went to the Congress to get a vote on the resolution. Since then, we've learned little things like there are no weapons of mass destruction. There was no weapons-of-mass-destruction program. There was no nuclear program.

We have learned that virtually all of the rationales for going have disappeared. So anyone who voted for the resolution to empower the president to make the decision to go, who hasn't changed his or her tune several times with these revelations as they've developed, is an idiot locked onto a mindless consistency that isn't even consistent.

MR. BLANKLEY: That won't wash. In August this year, Kerry at the Grand Canyon said he would have authorized the vote. And last week on Letterman he said no, he wouldn't. He's flip-flopped in the last two months. You can't go back to two years ago.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I think --

MR. BUCHANAN: That's why --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's take up the authorization, because he gets into that in this New York University speech that he gave this past Monday. He says that he wanted the authority to go into war in order to bolster his diplomatic hand. It makes sense. It makes sense.

MR. BUCHANAN: But John -- that does make sense, but Tony has a very good point. He's been all over the lot. Nobody thinks he's a strong leader. I think, if he's got to take a position, he's got to be clear. It's got to be dramatic. It's got to make --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you hear the NYU speech?

MR. BUCHANAN: Look, it is not there yet. He's got to take a position that makes everybody forget his own position, like "We're going to get out of this war as fast as I can get us out." That's the only thing he can do.

MS. CLIFT: To the extent that Bush can make this about whether it was the right decision to go in or not, he will probably succeed. Kerry is trying to make it about the facts on the ground, the unpleasant beheadings, the loss of the cities, the lack of a cogent plan.

MR. BUCHANAN: That opens him up to an attack that he's undercutting morale.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, let's get on --

MS. CLIFT: To accuse people of criticizing American policy is the last refuge of a scoundrel when --

MR. BUCHANAN: Scoundrels often win. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Whatever it takes, Pat -- quote/unquote. (Laughter.)

Iraqi interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi visits Washington.

IRAQI INTERIM PRIME MINISTER IYAD ALLAWI: (From videotape.) I stand here today as a prime minister of a country emerging finally from dark ages of tyranny, aggression and corruption.

PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape.) You've accomplished a great deal in less than the three months since the transition to a free Iraq.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In Iraq, an American civilian contractor was beheaded on Monday. On Tuesday, a second American contractor was beheaded. The Iraqi insurgency continues to control many urban strongholds. Prime Minister Allawi claims credit for the resolution of the Najaf crisis, but the crisis was resolved not by Iraqi soldiers or U.S. soldiers or Allawi's government but by Grand Ayatollah Sistani, who is, in effect, running a parallel government.

The Institute for International Strategic Studies in London has concluded that the invasion of Iraq has played into bin Laden's hands, so that what bin Laden wants is for Bush to win. If Bush wins, bin Laden wins.

Question: Does Allawi come across as an independent national leader talking straight, in the Lakhdar Brahimi mold, or does he come across more as a Bush lap dog? Eleanor Clift.

MS. CLIFT: Not since "Baghdad Bob" proclaimed that Iraq was winning when U.S. forces were entering the city has there been such a gulf between rhetoric and reality. When Prime Minister Allawi says, "Everything is fine except for a few pockets in Fallujah," that's like saying South Dakota, Oklahoma and Wyoming are fine; it's just New York City and LA that are having problems. It's the urban centers that are in trouble. And 10,000 Iraqi civilians have died in Baghdad alone.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay --

MS. CLIFT: Mr. Allawi can't leave his house and walk the streets of his capital city.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's being guarded by five Navy SEALs.

MR. BUCHANAN: But you're unfair, John. This guy -- he's a tough guy. He's a brutal guy. But he's also putting his life on the line. He could go out any day.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the point?

MR. BUCHANAN: The point is, this is a tough guy who's trying to defend his country. Okay, he may be painting it up a little bit high, but he doesn't deserve the lap-dog charges.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. George Bush's rendition of John Kerry.

PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape.) The world is better off with Saddam Hussein sitting in a prison cell. And that stands in stark contrast to the statement my opponent made yesterday, when he said that the world was better off with Saddam in power. I strongly disagree.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mr. Bush was reacting to these words from John Kerry, delivered in the speech cited above on the day before at New York University.

SEN. KERRY: (From videotape.) Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator who deserves his own special place in hell. But that was not -- that was not, in and of itself, a reason to go to war. The satisfaction that we take in his downfall does not hide this fact: We have traded a dictator for a chaos that
has left America less secure.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: To repeat the sound bite, this is what Mr. Bush said about Mr. Kerry. Quote: He, Kerry, said that the world was better off with Saddam in power. Unquote.

Was the president's utterance a distortion or worse about Kerry's original statement? Tony Blankley.

MR. BLANKLEY: I think it's a fair characterization of the bloviations that Kerry was putting forth, because the fact is that back earlier in the year, he said anybody who didn't think that Saddam should have been removed was not responsible enough to be president. That's when he agreed with Bush, back when he was running against Howard Dean. And the only fair inference --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's wrong with that?

MR. BLANKLEY: And the only fair inference to take from what Kerry said was that, notwithstanding that he's a bad guy, it wasn't worth removing him, which means that if he had to actually make a decision, as opposed to just talk about it, that he would have left him in power. So, therefore, it would be better. I think the president --

MS. CLIFT: The issue --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me --

MR. BLANKLEY: I think the president was completely fair to characterize that stuff that way.

MS. CLIFT: Oh, please.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Just one moment, Eleanor. One moment. Is the alternative war?

MR. BLANKLEY: What, now?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: To get rid of Saddam Hussein.

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, I think that was clearly the alternative.

MS. CLIFT: The issue is --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clearly the alternative? Well, there's assassination. We certainly know about that from JFK's President Diem, do we not?

MR. BLANKLEY: Look --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Maybe that's attacking too much --

MR. BUCHANAN: John, let me say --

MS. CLIFT: The issue is not --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do we know about Allende in Chile?

MS. CLIFT: The issue is not --

MR. BUCHANAN: Let me say --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So assassination is one. Is there also a coup? Could we not have engineered a coup?

MR. BLANKLEY: If we could have, we would have. We couldn't do it. You know we had no intelligence assets in there before the war. We didn't know what was going on.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Kerry said it is not a justification for going to war.

MR. BUCHANAN: Kerry --

MR. BLANKLEY: This is the --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He did not say we'll keep him in power. We'll get rid of him through other methods or we will contain him.

MR. BLANKLEY: Basically what Kerry said --

MS. CLIFT: The issue is not --

MR. BLANKLEY: Basically what Kerry said is he ought to go to hell, but he wasn't going to send him there.

MR. BUCHANAN: I believe John Kerry is basically right. I think it's a good thing Saddam Hussein is gone. I do not think it was worth the cost of a war, with all these dead and wounded and radicalization.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's not the issue. The issue is --

MR. BUCHANAN: That's what he said --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- how he was characterized by the president.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, the president --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that a distortion or is it something worse?

MS. CLIFT: Of course it was a distortion.

MR. BUCHANAN: Look, the president laid it out there in the most negative terms he could, which he's got a perfect right to do.

MS. CLIFT: Of course --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's got a right to do it. We have free speech. You're right.

MR. BLANKLEY: You can't even agree.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's a constitutionally guaranteed right. Was it a distortion or was it something more?

MR. O'DONNELL: It's an absolutely necessary distortion to the Bush campaign, because the only reason left for the full-scale invasion of Iraq, the only reason left, is getting Saddam Hussein in a jail cell. That is exactly the same rationale for invading China, Cuba and many other countries in the world, which we will not invade.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you saying that it was a lie but it was justified because the survival of their campaign depends on it?

MR. O'DONNELL: I can't say it's a lie because I know the president doesn't read the paper, so he has no idea what Kerry actually said.

MS. CLIFT: It's an obvious distortion. And to the extent -- now it's up to John Kerry to say, "Look, I will keep my eye on the real threat, who is Osama bin Laden," and --

MR. BLANKLEY: If John Kerry --

MS. CLIFT: Excuse me -- and al Qaeda. And the notion of putting all these lives and all this treasure to remove one man, it was the most expensive coup d'etat in history.

MR. BLANKLEY: If John Kerry could ever make a simple declarative sentence, we wouldn't be debating here what he meant.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you heard the declarative utterances that we played on this program.

MS. CLIFT: You know what he meant.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They couldn't be clearer. I mean, your repetition of that is not carrying in the light of -- the more we know about Kerry.

MR. BLANKLEY: You and Pat disagree.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The problem with Kerry is he's not sufficiently well-known.

MS. CLIFT: If you want somebody with simplicity, George Bush has volumes of it.

MR. BLANKLEY: Clarity, clarity, clarity -- honesty and clarity.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, these words were written -- excuse me -- on May 7th, 1918. How many months before the war ended?

MR. BUCHANAN: Six.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Six months. Exactly right. Woodrow Wilson was president. Wilson was trying to stifle dissent. We know what that means. Former President Teddy Roosevelt had this to say about that stifling of dissent. Quote: "To announce that there must be no criticism of the president or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but it is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or anyone else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him."

What do you think of Roosevelt?

MR. BUCHANAN: I agree with that, but you have to know that anybody that comes out in the middle of a war and goes after the commander-in-chief is going to be charged with undercutting the war effort. And Kerry better realize it.

MS. CLIFT: And spoken by somebody who worked for --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that your --

MS. CLIFT: And spoken by somebody who worked for Richard Nixon at the height of Vietnam, and he would have quelled all of that dissent as well, I bet.

MR. BLANKLEY: Let me put this in historic context. During World War I, Woodrow Wilson was using the sedition laws to put hundreds, even thousands, of people in prison. That's what Roosevelt was reacting to, not poo-pooing a dissenter. He was locking them up.

MR. O'DONNELL: Let me put this in historic context. We went through this and solved it in Vietnam. We had then a peace movement led by John Kerry and others, who were speaking the truth about a lying government, a lying military run by Westmoreland and the others, lying about what the success was.

MR. BUCHANAN: Excuse me, but that was not --

MR. O'DONNELL: They won the argument and they stopped a war.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Pat, we've got to get out.

MR. O'DONNELL: They did the patriotic thing.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The human toll: U.S. military dead in Iraq, 1,042; U.S. military amputees, wounded, injured, mentally ill, all now out of Iraq, 27,800; Iraqi civilians dead, 20,900.

Exit question; quick one-word answer: Who will win the debate next Thursday night?

MR. BUCHANAN: I think Bush will win it.

MS. CLIFT: John Kerry will win it. (Laughs.)

MR. BLANKLEY: I don't think it'll be decisive either way, which will mean it'll be useful for Bush.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A draw?

MR. BLANKLEY: It won't be decisive.

MR. BUCHANAN: Kerry has to win.

MR. BLANKLEY: Kerry has to win. I think it's likely not to be decisive for him.

MR. O'DONNELL: John Kerry will win it. He'll knock Bush off-balance in the first half-hour.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really? I think it's Bush's to lose. But if Bush -- I think it's Bush's to win. Bush is going to win it, I think, on its face. Are you making faces at me to throw off my -- (laughter) -- you're trying to --

MR. BUCHANAN: I had trouble with where you were going with it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's such a trick. He's been doing this for about 15 years, when he's not, you know, working for a president or running for president. I think it's Bush's to lose. But if Kerry wins, then Bush is in deep, deep trouble.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Two: Bush versus Annan.

PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape.) Now we gather at a time of tremendous opportunity for the U.N. and for all peaceful nations. The security of our world is found in the advancing rights of mankind. These rights are advancing across the world.

U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL KOFI ANNAN: (From videotape.) Today the rule of law is at risk around the world. Again and
again, we see laws shamelessly disregarded.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: President Bush told the United Nations general assembly this week that the world was enjoying a time of, quote, "tremendous opportunity," and he praised new freedoms in the Muslim world.

In sharp contrast, Kofi Annan, the U.N. secretary general, voiced a solemn warning that international law was unraveling. But Mr. Bush pressed on with his salute to, quote, "the world's newest democracies."

PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape.) Today the Iraqi and Afghan people are on the path to democracy and freedom. The governments that are rising will pose no threat to others. Instead of harboring terrorists, they're fighting terrorist groups."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The U.N. secretary general takes a less rosy view of Iraq.

SECRETARY GENERAL ANNAN: (From videotape.) In Iraq we see civilians massacred in cold blood, while relief workers, journalists and other noncombatants are taken hostage and put to death in the most barbarous fashion. At the same time we have seen Iraqi prisoners disgracefully abused."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Last week, Mr. Annan said the Iraq
war was, quote/unquote, "illegal." The implication of the secretary general's U.N. address frames what he sees as the grievous U.S. policy mistakes, the serial failures of the Iraqi occupation authorities, and the extent to which the Iraqi disaster has handed the initiative to jihadi terrorists.

Question: Is the U.N. secretary general calling the U.S. a rogue state, an outlaw nation that flaunts international law? We know that he speaks in diplomatic niceties. But is that what he was reductively saying? I ask you.

MR. BLANKLEY: I don't know. I mean, I think he was trying to suggest that we didn't enter the war legally. That's what he was saying the week before. He may have been making some reference to the prison scandals. But the fact is, the United States government is the foundation of legitimate order in the world today, and it's the reason why most countries are able to function in a legal framework. And Kofi Annan and the U.N. and the jackals who are assembled there are irrelevant to it.

MR. O'DONNELL: He did everything he could to avoid that.

MS. CLIFT: Well, those jackals are --

MR. O'DONNELL: He tried to avoid saying that it was legal or not legal. He was being pressed by reporters. It's not something he said in a speech. He knows the difference between a rogue state and --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about in the speech? You heard the videotape bites.

MR. O'DONNELL: Well, that was the accurate speech given about Iraq at the United Nations.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, isn't that reductively making the United States an outlaw nation?

MR. O'DONNELL: No.

MR. BUCHANAN: That is outrageous, John, to compare abuse of prisoners, which all Americans condemn, with deliberate policies of murder and mayhem and massacre, which the enemies are using. That is the old moral equivalence.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think it was payback time as far as he was concerned? You remember the Republican Convention and how the United Nations was burlesqued and Tony Blankley was seen guffawing and knee-slapping with his uncontrollable laughter?

MR. BUCHANAN: It's a great hit at every Republican convention.

MR. BLANKLEY: It was carefully calibrated laughter.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit --

MS. CLIFT: The U.N. can get back at us in other ways. They're supposed to oversee the elections in Iraq in January. They have 35 people now in Iraq in a bunker.

MR. BUCHANAN: Good luck.

MS. CLIFT: And the U.S. is going to have a hard time pulling off those elections without the U.N.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, we all agree that John Kerry won the week, right?

MR. BLANKLEY: No.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue three: The Habit Doth Not Make The Monk.

When you dress for the office Monday morning, don't reach for that Grateful Dead t-shirt. And no flip-flops please. Casual dress at work is out. Dress codes are in. At last, more and more Americans prefer business dress for the workplace. Corporations are buttoning up, tying down their dress codes.

During the go-go 90's, employers loosened their collars to
attract workers when the labor market was tight. But the dot-com bust and a slumping economy turned the labor market into a buyer's market. Corporations, not workers, are calling the shots. Even workplace uniforms are on the rise -- Sears, K-Mart, Target, Bank One -- all smartly uniformed.

Question: What accounts for the return of workplace formality? Lawrence O'Donnell.

MR. O'DONNELL: Because casual dress is more complicated. You know, what do you wear with the madras shirt and what do you wear with the striped pants and all that stuff? This stuff is really simple. You just throw on this uniform and you're done.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about the untucked trend in fashion, with the shirt tails flapping outside the belt?

MR. BLANKLEY: That's kind of a Manhattan thing. I don't think it's a Middle America thing.

MR. O'DONNELL: It's also very helpful for certain waist lines.

MR. BLANKLEY: (Laughs.) Well, I need all the help I can get.

MS. CLIFT: On --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean it's a cover for the fundament?

MR. BLANKLEY: (Inaudible) -- I believe, is the phrase.

MS. CLIFT: On Air Force One, jeans are allowed only when you're returning from Crawford, Texas. So that's their rule.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is there any correlation, Pat, that you've noticed, particularly in your efforts on this program, between sartorial dress and attire and performance?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, Mr. Blankley is the one who sets the style, who's the furthest out, who's the most extreme, and who takes us out in that direction. Some of us move part way. We put a little color in the shirts occasionally. But Tony is the fashion plate here.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can we research that by having him dress up in jeans and sandals?

MR. BLANKLEY: It's not a pretty picture, but --

MR. BUCHANAN: When he came in with those -- when he had the orange socks at Halloween, John, we thought he was moving a little too far.

MS. CLIFT: I want to say, typically, as the lone woman here, you guys talk about what you wear and who makes your clothes and where you get certain things much more than any of my female friends. It's been quite a revelation to me, actually.

MR. BLANKLEY: You know, there's actually a utility to people dressing better at work. I think that sloppy dress tends to reduce the discipline in the workplace.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, you know --

MR. BLANKLEY: And I don't want to overstate it, but I think that once you start lowering one standard, other standards can slip.

MR. BUCHANAN: That's the argument --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think it helps business at saloons, meaning that if you are all formalized during the day, there is that inclination to let it all hang out at night?

MR. BUCHANAN: No, no. The best saloons ever did in the speakeasies was during the Depression, John. Everybody had the nice snap-brimmed hat on.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How do you explain that?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, you know, I think it was -- I think Tony's point is very good about a society. A society that's dressed up, I think, is more disciplined.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think you're missing my point -- I think you're making my point. When you are buttoned down during the day, you want to throw it all off at night. And that means that the prohibition couldn't last, right?

MS. CLIFT: Well, all I know is the bloggers were wearing pajamas when they uncovered the inconsistencies in the Rather memo. So some people do their best work in their jammies.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's get serious. Who won the week? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: Except for Rathergate, Kerry.

MS. CLIFT: Kerry, finally.

MR. BLANKLEY: A tie, but Kerry needs to win weeks.

MR. O'DONNELL: It was a tie.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It was a tie. Bye bye.


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