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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP

HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN

PANEL:
PATRICK BUCHANAN, MSNBC;
ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK;
TONY BLANKLEY, THE WASHINGTON TIMES;
LIZ MARLANTES, THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR

DATE: FRIDAY, JANUARY 21, 2005


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THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.
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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Freedom -- America's DNA.

George W. Bush, 43rd president of the United States, delivered his second inaugural address in Washington on Thursday with three major elements: First, Wilsonian idealism.

PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape.) It is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.

This is not primarily the task of arms, though we will defend ourselves and our friends by force of arms when necessary. Freedom by its nature must be chosen and defended by citizens and sustained by the rule of law and the protection of minorities.

America in this young century proclaims liberty throughout all the world and to all the inhabitants thereof. Renewed in our strength, tested but not weary, we are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Two, apocalypticism.

PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape.) We have seen our vulnerability and we have seen its deepest source. For as long as whole regions of the world simmer in resentment and tyranny, prone to ideologies that feed hatred and excuse murder, violence will gather and multiply in destructive power and cross the most defended borders and raise a mortal threat.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Three, religion.

PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape.) That edifice of character is built in families, supported by communities with standards and sustained in our national life by the truths of Sinai, the Sermon on the Mount, the words of the Quran, and the varied faiths of our people.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: The leitmotif in this speech is freedom. But is there also throughout an implicit interventionism? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, where Woodrow Wilson said he was going to make the world or we were going to make the world safe for democracy, Mr. Bush says we're going to make the whole world democratic; we are going to end tyranny. He has asserted a right to intervene in the internal affairs of every single country on earth in every region of the world. It is a formula for perpetual conflict and permanent war, which is the death of republics. And I believe the president -- it is utopian, and I think it is going to result in very early conflict between this rhetoric and reality, especially when he sits down with the Chinese premier.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does it comport with the founding fathers?

MR. BUCHANAN: It stands the farewell address of President Washington on its head. And when John Quincy Adams --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In what sense?

MR. BUCHANAN: In the sense that he argued for non-intervention in wars and quarrels that are none of our business. As Quincy Adams says, John, you know, "America goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy. We are the champions of freedom everywhere but the vindicator only of our own." Bush is going to be the vindicator of freedom everywhere.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, does that sum up your views?

MS. CLIFT: More than sums them up -- grandiose rhetoric but totally divorced from reality. Where is he going to get the resources to carry out this grand mission? He's bankrupted the country. There's no money in the treasury. The military is way overextended. And then he uses all of this flowery rhetoric, idealistic rhetoric, never mentions Iraq. I mean, the analogy would be Lyndon Johnson, at the height of the Vietnam War, giving a speech about spreading democracy and never mentioning Iraq (sic). I mean, what kind of bubble does this man live in?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, I'm unfortunately in difficult company today, because I share --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you don't know that. We haven't heard from Ms. Marlantes.

MR. BLANKLEY: -- because I share much of Pat's view. Look, I buy in and I've bought in to the president's view that in the Middle East that the governments there are so dysfunctional that it's a breeding ground for terrorism, and it's realistically in our interest to try to transform that. And I continue to think that that's the most plausible policy.

If that was all he had said in the speech, I would be a strong endorser of it. But he's taken it a big step further in talking about any tyranny, any non-democratic government anywhere is now going to be our responsibility to engage, not necessarily militarily, but to engage. And I think that's utopian. It's unsustainable. There are plenty of authoritarian governments that are not a threat to us. There are some that are. We've got a big enough job focusing on the governments that are creating danger to us in the Middle East and other -- perhaps in parts of Indonesia and other places. To now expand it to the planet is simply unsustainable.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did it hold --

MR. BLANKLEY: And I think he's going to have to, in the coming months, focus down the application of these nice principles to a more realistic zone.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did it hold your attention?

MR. BLANKLEY: Yes, it held my attention. (Laughter.) It was an effective speech. I mean, my jaw had dropped, so I noticed that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Were you trained at Oxford?

MR. BLANKLEY: Pardon me?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Were you trained overseas, Great Britain?

MR. BLANKLEY: I was born there. I went to school partially there. But, no, I --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you know the principles of a speech -- the exordium, the peroration --

MR. BLANKLEY: I don't know. Look --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and those ones in between?

MR. BLANKLEY: Look --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was there any structure to it, or was it a collection of aphorisms?

MR. BLANKLEY: No, look, it's a 17-minute speech. I think it was effective because -- we've all paid tremendous attention to it, so obviously, at the primary level, as a function of getting our attention, by God, it got our attention.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Would not any inaugural, under these circumstances today, do so?

MR. BLANKLEY: No. No. No. If he had given a slightly different speech, we would have barely noticed it.

MS. MARLANTES: Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did it hold your attention?

MS. MARLANTES: Yes. It was classic Bush in the sense that it was unapologetic and it was radical, I think. And I agree, the fact that we're all talking about it does say something. Second inaugural addresses tend to be bland laundry lists for the most part, when you go back and look at them.

Yes, it was divorced from reality in many ways. And that is something that, in the sort of second- and third-day commentary, seems to be coming out quite a bit, particularly, I think, when you look at questions like how we're actually conducting the war on terrorism. If spreading democracy is our fundamental driving premise, that conflicts very much with some of the things we have to do to conduct the war on terrorism, like work with Saudi Arabia. So I think there are a lot of questions that are coming out.

But I do think that you have to give Bush some credit for having the vision thing that his father famously lacked, for example. And I do think -- I've been thinking this week in particular, in contrast to the Democrats right now, who have not seemed to have the same sort of coherent vision or driving way to explain their policies, I think Bush has effectively done that. He put forward a theme. And he may have overreached, but it's a theme that ties together a lot of things that he's trying to do.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the theme?

MS. MARLANTES: Freedom. He said it 29 times. (Laughs.)

MR. BUCHANAN: John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did it hold your attention throughout?

MS. MARLANTES: It did. It did. I do think --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think it lacked structure? Do you think it would have been better with structure?

MS. MARLANTES: As has come to be the case with all of Bush's speeches, for me at least, the domestic part falls flat compared to the foreign policy part.

MS. CLIFT: You know, it was a bunch of big words that don't mean a whole lot.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean abstract words?

MS. CLIFT: Right, exactly. And every time he says democracy, what he's really talking about is regime change in Iran, which seems to be the next thing on their radar screen.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did it strike you as a collection of patriotic maxims?

MR. BUCHANAN: Yes, it did, John. But let me tell you, he has a purpose here. And the purpose was -- and I don't fault him for not mentioning Iraq. I don't think Nixon mentioned Vietnam in his first inaugural. What he is doing is he's saying, in effect, "Look, there's a lot of bloodshed and there's controversy and bitterness. We're losing guys in Iraq. However, this is in a great and noble cause. It is ending tyranny on the Earth. It is a war of generations."

It is almost Lincolnian in that sense; you know, a new birth of freedom worldwide. Where FDR took down fascism, Reagan took down communism, we're going to end tyranny worldwide. So it puts that in that context. That, I think, is his strategic objective. I think it succeeded. But he went so far beyond that.

MS. CLIFT: It's such extreme hubris --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, what's the answer to my question? Was there kind of a vagrant, implicit interventionism throughout? Did you sense any of that?

MR. BUCHANAN: It wasn't vagrant. It was purposeful. (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: It was clear.

MR. BLANKLEY: He used words like "persistent," like having -- he's going to clarify for non-democratic governments their shortcomings. He's talking directly to people who are dissenters and in the minority.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean, it's a taunt.

MR. BLANKLEY: It was explicit.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was it a taunt?

MR. BLANKLEY: You know what's interesting is he read the book by Natan Sharansky.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes.

MR. BLANKLEY: Sharansky had been in a Soviet gulag.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes.

MR. BLANKLEY: He's told the story to a lot of people -- I've heard the story -- that he sat in the gulag hearing Reagan's words. That inspired him. I think clearly that Bush was inspired by Sharansky's statement, because they've met and he's read Sharansky's book. When we met with the president, one of the first things we said is, "Have you read Sharansky's book?"

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You'd better tell us the central proposition of Sharansky's book. Or would you like me to do that?

MR. BLANKLEY: You go ahead.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The central proposition is that democracy is available and sought after by everyone, including Iraq. They really want democracy. And in Russia, notwithstanding the fact that we tend to believe that they want a benign autocrat there, the people do -- no, they want democracy.

MR. BUCHANAN: More important, it is the panacea.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It is a panacea.

MR. BUCHANAN: "This is the road to world peace. This is what mankind has been seeking. We have the answer. And if we pursue this road, we will get to it."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And there is no substitute for it -- no substitute.

MS. CLIFT: He's basically saying --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Any other government -- the implicit suggestion is no other form of government will do.

MS. CLIFT: He's basically saying the war on terror can only be won if we can spread democracy, because that's the only way they won't --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think he could have done better if he had structure to it, rather than it being a collection of altogether related but not one flowing --

MS. CLIFT: I don't mind talking about --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There was no real theme other than the abstraction of freedom.

MS. CLIFT: I don't mind talking about liberty and freedom, and I don't think Democrats should fall into the trap of criticizing the rhetoric. The problem is that the rhetoric is totally disparate from any reality in terms of our relationships with Saudi Arabia, with --

MR. BLANKLEY: Let me make one point.

MS. CLIFT: -- with China, with Pakistan, with everybody.

MR. BLANKLEY: The speech was educational. It was meant to be educational. The whole speech was a justification, which I agree with, for Iraq. Unfortunately he took it beyond Iraq. But his whole point was, the reason we're fighting and changing and influencing democracy is because it's realistically in our self-defense. I buy that argument for Iraq and for the Middle East. But his mistake, I think, was to broaden it to the entire planet.

MR. BUCHANAN: Our liberty is dependent upon other countries being free. That has never been the case in American history. We have always been free. The rest of the world has always had despotism.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think the president is a troublemaker?

MR. BUCHANAN: No, I think the president -- he is a visionary. He is an idealist. But I think he is --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But do you think the vision is skewed?

MR. BUCHANAN: He's Woodrow Wilson on amphetamines.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think so?

MR. BUCHANAN: Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?

MS. CLIFT: It's what conservatives used to criticize liberals about, that liberals were the utopians. I mean, he has now created a utopia that no liberal would dare dream.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Since the subject of Woodrow Wilson has been brought up, do you think this will be true of George Bush 50 years from now? George Bush's character and policies have been the subject of acrimonious debate. But even those who have doubted his wisdom have recognized him as one of the pivotal figures of American and world history. Do you think that will be true of Bush?

MR. BUCHANAN: I think Bush believes it will be true, and I think it may be true. Bush is becoming an historic figure, but I think he's going to be a tragic figure just like Wilson.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?

MS. CLIFT: And pivotal --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was Wilson that tragic?

MR. BUCHANAN: Certainly he was. He was a failure. He died an unhappy man. He didn't get his League of Nations. He didn't get his Versailles Treaty.

MR. BLANKLEY: But he defined American foreign policy for a century and he defined the American self-image and its place in the world.

MR. BUCHANAN: And 20 years after Wilson, everybody thought he was a hero.

MS. CLIFT: Pivotal does not --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about the Versailles Treaty?

MS. CLIFT: Pivotal -- excuse me.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's another one of his --

MR. BUCHANAN: It was rejected by the Senate because of his obduracy.

MS. CLIFT: Excuse me. Pivotal --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, but the Versailles Treaty proved to be a real bad treaty.

MR. BUCHANAN: It was a total disaster.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A bad treaty.

MR. BUCHANAN: It was a total disaster.

MS. CLIFT: If we can get back to the present --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And he wanted the Versailles Treaty signed. He tried to save it.

MS. CLIFT: If we can get back to the present and away from Wilson.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, I'm not making your for you. But I don't think we could describe him as a tragic figure.

MR. BUCHANAN: Oh, I think Wilson is considered generally a tragic --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think so?

MR. BUCHANAN: Sure. But 20 years after his death -- Tony is right -- you came up to World War II and people were saying, "If we'd followed Wilson, if we'd gone into the League of Nations, if we'd done this, this wouldn't have happened."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that the president sounded like a CEO? Do you think he's conducting his office like a CEO?

MS. CLIFT: He sounded messianic and he had all these biblical phrases.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Messianic.

MS. CLIFT: And he sounded like he has turned from a war on terror to becoming the moral guardian of the world. And it's really scary to much of the world.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean a man sent by God to restore America and reign righteously for all mankind?

MS. CLIFT: Yeah. And the notion that he is a pivotal figure -- being pivotal doesn't necessarily mean you have a positive influence on history. I could name a few other characters who are pivotal who I wouldn't admire.

MS. MARLANTES: I'm not even sure he's going to be pivotal. I don't think we can necessarily say that now, because I think so much of it is going to ride on what happens in Iraq. And we really don't know yet.

MR. BUCHANAN: That's going to be pivotal anyhow.

MS. MARLANTES: Well, not --

MR. BUCHANAN: It goes one way or the other.

MS. MARLANTES: It doesn't even --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think -- excuse me for one minute -- that what happened in Wilson's career professionally -- I mean, while he was president -- is comparable in scope or range or magnitude to what's going on today? Or was it a altogether larger world for Wilson?

MR. BUCHANAN: I think that was a much larger world. That was all of western civilization. What came out of that, Versailles, were the Nazis and Mussolini and Lenin.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, we're almost at the end of this lecture. What do you want to say here?

MS. MARLANTES: Well, I was just going to say that I think, in the same way that I think Bush's legacy is very much going to hinge on what happens in Iraq, I think the speech was very much about Iraq. I think it was a mistake in the sense that now we're all talking about what does this mean for China or Russia or whatever. But really I think the speech was aimed at a public that is very nervous and very sour on Iraq at the moment.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that the international community is going to be any more hospitable to the foreign policy of George Bush as a result of this speech? Or do you think it will have the counterreaction?

MS. MARLANTES: I think it was primarily -- let me say, I think primarily it was aimed at a domestic audience first. I think you look at the polls on Iraq right now and they're terrible. The public is -- the majority now disapproves of the way Bush is handling the situation.

MR. BUCHANAN: The British --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on. Let her finish.

MR. BUCHANAN: The British --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let her finish.

MR. BUCHANAN: Go ahead.

MS. MARLANTES: And so I think that this was an attempt to shore up support and remind people why we're there, and again -- this is something the administration has had to do all along -- to put Iraq within the framework of the war on terror.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to ask you again, is this speech a plus or a minus for the United States as far as a more hospitable acceptance of the United States by the current world community, that tends to hate not so much the United States but George Bush and his administration? Did he do himself a favor?

MS. MARLANTES: My guess will be that he did not, because I think it will be interpreted as another example of arrogance.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think in answer to that question?

MS. CLIFT: It's a clear negative. And the analogy is not to Woodrow Wilson but to Lyndon Johnson.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?

MR. BUCHANAN: The British press is what I was trying to tell you, John. All the newspapers today are completely mocking -- "George Bush will end tyranny worldwide."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do they talk about?

MR. BUCHANAN: "Nukes for you, Iran" -- all this.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are they talking about Abu Ghraib?

MR. BUCHANAN: No, not Abu Ghraib. They're talking about Bush's world vision to end tyranny, and they're mocking it.

MR. BLANKLEY: Look, I think the speech will not go down well with the leaders. It may go down very well with some people. And I think part of his audience were the young students in Iran, people who are under suppression around the world. That's part of the audience he was talking to.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will you answer my question? What is it collectively? Is it a plus or a minus?

MR. BLANKLEY: No, I said it's a minus with the governments. Keep in mind, he's going to Europe next month and that will give him a chance to discuss the application of these theories.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, let's sum it up. Exit question: In the pantheon of inaugural addresses -- you know the meaning of pantheon.

MR. BUCHANAN: Yes. It's the house of the gods, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Where does this address stand on a scale of zero to 10 -- 10 being the center of the pantheon, great, soaring, lofty, unforgettable, zero meaning outside the pantheon, abstract, boring, structureless, eminently forgettable, in the dumpster -- zero to 10, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: You've got to break it down, John. This is a historic --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We've got to get a collective opinion.

MR. BUCHANAN: It's an historic speech. In that sense I would give it an eight or a nine. It's going to be remembered. It's going to be talked about for a long time. But as a speech itself, I would give it a three or a four.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I'm going to split the difference and give it a five. I think the words are eloquent, but it's not buttressed by reality. And unless reality changes dramatically over the next four years, these will be words that will come and go.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And haunt him?

MS. CLIFT: Haunt the country maybe, but not haunt Bush.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you're still giving him an eight.

MS. CLIFT: Nothing haunts Bush.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eight as a speech? Eight as a rhetorical exercise?

MR. BUCHANAN: These words will be thrown back up at George Bush for as long as he lives.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, that sounds like it's a pretty severe negative, Pat. What is it, a three you gave him?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, I mean, it's historic, though. There's no doubt about it.

MR. BLANKLEY: Look, I think stylistically it's a four or five. I think that its effect, if he follows up on it, could be an eight or nine. If he doesn't follow up on it, it's about a three, because the speech alone is simply a series of statements. If he acts on it, if it's policy, then it's a very big deal.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Liz.

MS. MARLANTES: I give it a seven for many of those same reasons. I give him a seven for the vision thing and because it was a radical articulation of a policy that has certainly gotten everybody's attention. I do think it was divorced from reality in many respects.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think it was that radical?

MS. MARLANTES: The foreign policy part.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Inaudible.) I had hoped it would be more directed than it was to the international community because of our severe problems there. And in view of that, I can't give it above a four.

When we come back, will Condoleezza Rice move the balance of power from the Department of Defense to the Department of State?

(Announcements.)

Issue Two: Steamed Rice.

SEN. RICHARD LUGAR (R-IN): (From videotape.) Sixteen yeas, two nays. The committee votes to report the nomination to the Senate floor.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Condoleezza Rice was easily approved this week by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in her bid to become the first female African-American secretary of State. But the lopsided 16-2 vote belies the intense scrutiny she received on issues ranging from whether she exaggerated the danger of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to whether the U.S. should negotiate with Iran.

(Videotaped excerpt of confirmation hearing.)

CONDOLEEZZA RICE (SECRETARY OF STATE-DESIGNATE): If the Iranians are prepared to verifiably and irreversibly get rid of their nuclear program, then that will be a very good day. And I think it would certainly change the circumstances that we are looking at.

SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D-DE): I wish we had a court reporter who could play back what you just said.

MS. RICE: I really --

SEN. BIDEN: What's the answer? Would you make a deal or not?

MS. RICE: The answer, Senator, is I'm not going to get into hypotheticals till I know what I'm looking at. That's the answer.

SEN. BIDEN: Well, you're in a hypothetical with China. You make a lot of deals with China. Their human rights program is horrible.

(End of excerpt.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The testiest exchange was between Ms. Rice and California Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer.

(Videotaped excerpt of confirmation hearing.)

SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D-CA): I personally believe -- this is my personal view -- that your loyalty to the mission you were given to sell this war overwhelmed your respect for the truth. And I don't say it lightly, and I'm going to go into the documents that show your statements and the facts at the time.

MS. RICE: I have to say that I have never, ever lost respect for the truth in the service of anything. It is not my nature. It is not my character. And I would hope that we can have this conversation and discuss what happened before and what went on before and what I said without impugning my credibility or my integrity.

(End of excerpt.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat -- I'm not going to give you this question. I'm going to give it to you, Liz. Did you grow to like Condoleezza Rice more as a result of seeing this testimony, or did you grow to dislike her less, or what?

MS. MARLANTES: Oh, that's a tough question. I wish you'd given it to Pat. I think she -- I think it was a tough couple of days. I think it was tougher than she was expecting. I do think that Democrats are concerned about a certain sort of group-think, that she's too close to the president. And there was the sense that they wanted to press her on that and see whether she would be able to function as an independent voice in that role.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think she's in sync with Cheney and with Rumsfeld?

MS. MARLANTES: There's no indication that she's not, really. She tried to mollify them a little bit on that point. But, again, I think there's a sense that this is going to be a very different kind of secretary of State, given that she's so close to the president and so close to the executive office.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean, we have a ventriloquist and a dummy here, and the ventriloquist is George Bush?

MS. MARLANTES: I wouldn't necessarily say it that way. I mean, I think there are some advantages from the president's point of view to have a secretary of State --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is she going to deviate at all from George Bush, as Colin Powell did?

MS. MARLANTES: This is the concern of Democrats. They think not.

(Cross talk; laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you know whether -- are secretaries of State prone to do anything else but agitate mostly and defend and be an advocate for their department? But in addition to that, do they speak with a certain amount of distance when necessary from the White House?

MS. MARLANTES: Well, I think there are some advantages to having a secretary of State who is more in tune with the White House.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did Cordell Hull? Do you remember him?

MR. BUCHANAN: Sure, I do -- Cordell Hull with Roosevelt. He was really not paid much attention to. Sumner Wells --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is the point of the Democrats? Is it justified? Why shouldn't she be the ventriloquist's dummy?

MR. BUCHANAN: They want -- and I think there's nothing wrong -- they would like a Colin Powell who's a secretary of State who has an independent point of view, who can also represent the building, but when the president finally decides, will be a loyal soldier. I think that's a good idea --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did your esteem for her go up or go down as a result of this?

MR. BUCHANAN: She has not evolved into a secretary of State yet. She's still a staff person.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: My esteem went up for her --

MS. CLIFT: Well, I'm not --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- the way she defended herself and the manner in which she did it.

MS. CLIFT: I'm not her audience, but I don't think she won anybody over on Capitol Hill. There is a Stepford quality to this woman. She is a born staffer. She's going to serve the president, and she --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who is leading whom? Is she leading him or is he leading her?

MS. CLIFT: I don't think she has a fixed ideology. I think she takes orders. And I think she lines up with Cheney and Rumsfeld.

MR. BLANKLEY: All these ad hominem attacks -- of course the Democrats want her to break with the president.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is not an ad hominem attack.

MR. BLANKLEY: A dummy --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Just a moment, please.

MR. BLANKLEY: A ventriloquist's dummy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Please. Don't you distort my speech. I would never call a woman a dummy.

MR. BLANKLEY: You said the ventriloquist's dummy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Certainly not on television.

MR. BLANKLEY: Aren't we on TV? Look --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.

MR. BLANKLEY: -- of course the Democrats were taking their shots. They have a couple of shots at her there. They took them. They got on the record for all the things they complain about. They don't like her because she's going to work with the president instead of against the president.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three: Can You Hear Me Now?

AIRLINE PASSENGER: (From videotape.) It's kind of the one place you couldn't be reached.

AIRLINE PASSENGER: (From videotape.) I think it could make for a very loud flight.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Using cell phones on airplanes is currently prohibited. The Federal Communications Commission, the FCC, is considering lifting the ban, however. And airline passengers are alarmed. Sixty-eight percent of all flyers, a clear consensus, want the cell phone ban to stay in place.

Since 1991, cell phone usage has been barred. The Federal Aviation Administration, the FAA, promoted the ban because allegedly cell phones could interfere with airplane navigation. But today there are new technologies, and no hard evidence exists to back up the old concern.

If the FCC and the FAA decide to lift the ban, it would be up to the individual airlines to consent to in-flight cell phone use. Investigation results into lifting the ban are due in December of this year.

Question: The safety issue is not completely resolved by it not interfering with navigation or with control of the plane. You could have safety problems if one passenger or passengers objected to the use of cell phones to the point where there were fistfights. And therefore the airlines could then say no cell phones on the flight.

MR. BUCHANAN: Cell phone rage you're referring to, John?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Correct -- (laughter) -- which is outdistancing road rage in many locations. What do you think of that? Do you think cell phones should be used, Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: I think the analogy is smoking. Smoking is legal but it's not legal on planes. And I think that --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No cell phones?

MS. CLIFT: I say no cell phones, except if you're being hijacked. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: At least on long-haul flights, when you're trying to sleep.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but if you're being hijacked --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about the camera --

MS. CLIFT: -- it's okay to call the ground.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If you're shifting from one leg to another outside the restroom and somebody takes your picture. What is -- you know, that kind of thing. Or if you're sleep -- (makes face) -- you know? (Laughter.)

MS. CLIFT: I don't know, John. I can't imagine you --


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HLIN: You think so?

MR. BUCHANAN: Sure. But 20 years after his death -- Tony is right -- you came up to World War II and people were saying, "If we'd followed Wilson, if we'd gone into the League of Nations, if we'd done this, this wouldn't have happened."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that the president sounded like a CEO? Do you think he's conducting his office like a CEO?

MS. CLIFT: He sounded messianic and he had all these biblical phrases.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Messianic.

MS. CLIFT: And he sounded like he has turned from a war on terror to becoming the moral guardian of the world. And it's really scary to much of the world.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean a man sent by God to restore America and reign righteously for all mankind?

MS. CLIFT: Yeah. And the notion that he is a pivotal figure -- being pivotal doesn't necessarily mean you have a positive influence on history. I could name a few other characters who are pivotal who I wouldn't admire.

MS. MARLANTES: I'm not even sure he's going to be pivotal. I don't think we can necessarily say that now, because I think so much of it is going to ride on what happens in Iraq. And we really don't know yet.

MR. BUCHANAN: That's going to be pivotal anyhow.

MS. MARLANTES: Well, not --

MR. BUCHANAN: It goes one way or the other.

MS. MARLANTES: It doesn't even --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think -- excuse me for one minute -- that what happened in Wilson's career professionally -- I mean, while he was president -- is comparable in scope or range or magnitude to what's going on today? Or was it a altogether larger world for Wilson?

MR. BUCHANAN: I think that was a much larger world. That was all of western civilization. What came out of that, Versailles, were the Nazis and Mussolini and Lenin.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, we're almost at the end of this lecture. What do you want to say here?

MS. MARLANTES: Well, I was just going to say that I think, in the same way that I think Bush's legacy is very much going to hinge on what happens in Iraq, I think the speech was very much about Iraq. I think it was a mistake in the sense that now we're all talking about what does this mean for China or Russia or whatever. But really I think the speech was aimed at a public that is very nervous and very sour on Iraq at the moment.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that the international community is going to be any more hospitable to the foreign policy of George Bush as a result of this speech? Or do you think it will have the counterreaction?

MS. MARLANTES: I think it was primarily -- let me say, I think primarily it was aimed at a domestic audience first. I think you look at the polls on Iraq right now and they're terrible. The public is -- the majority now disapproves of the way Bush is handling the situation.

MR. BUCHANAN: The British --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on. Let her finish.

MR. BUCHANAN: The British --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let her finish.

MR. BUCHANAN: Go ahead.

MS. MARLANTES: And so I think that this was an attempt to shore up support and remind people why we're there, and again -- this is something the administration has had to do all along -- to put Iraq within the framework of the war on terror.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to ask you again, is this speech a plus or a minus for the United States as far as a more hospitable acceptance of the United States by the current world community, that tends to hate not so much the United States but George Bush and his administration? Did he do himself a favor?

MS. MARLANTES: My guess will be that he did not, because I think it will be interpreted as another example of arrogance.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think in answer to that question?

MS. CLIFT: It's a clear negative. And the analogy is not to Woodrow Wilson but to Lyndon Johnson.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?

MR. BUCHANAN: The British press is what I was trying to tell you, John. All the newspapers today are completely mocking -- "George Bush will end tyranny worldwide."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do they talk about?

MR. BUCHANAN: "Nukes for you, Iran" -- all this.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are they talking about Abu Ghraib?

MR. BUCHANAN: No, not Abu Ghraib. They're talking about Bush's world vision to end tyranny, and they're mocking it.

MR. BLANKLEY: Look, I think the speech will not go down well with the leaders. It may go down very well with some people. And I think part of his audience were the young students in Iran, people who are under suppression around the world. That's part of the audience he was talking to.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will you answer my question? What is it collectively? Is it a plus or a minus?

MR. BLANKLEY: No, I said it's a minus with the governments. Keep in mind, he's going to Europe next month and that will give him a chance to discuss the application of these theories.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, let's sum it up. Exit question: In the pantheon of inaugural addresses -- you know the meaning of pantheon.

MR. BUCHANAN: Yes. It's the house of the gods, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Where does this address stand on a scale of zero to 10 -- 10 being the center of the pantheon, great, soaring, lofty, unforgettable, zero meaning outside the pantheon, abstract, boring, structureless, eminently forgettable, in the dumpster -- zero to 10, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: You've got to break it down, John. This is a historic --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We've got to get a collective opinion.

MR. BUCHANAN: It's an historic speech. In that sense I would give it an eight or a nine. It's going to be remembered. It's going to be talked about for a long time. But as a speech itself, I would give it a three or a four.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I'm going to split the difference and give it a five. I think the words are eloquent, but it's not buttressed by reality. And unless reality changes dramatically over the next four years, these will be words that will come and go.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And haunt him?

MS. CLIFT: Haunt the country maybe, but not haunt Bush.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you're still giving him an eight.

MS. CLIFT: Nothing haunts Bush.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eight as a speech? Eight as a rhetorical exercise?

MR. BUCHANAN: These words will be thrown back up at George Bush for as long as he lives.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, that sounds like it's a pretty severe negative, Pat. What is it, a three you gave him?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, I mean, it's historic, though. There's no doubt about it.

MR. BLANKLEY: Look, I think stylistically it's a four or five. I think that its effect, if he follows up on it, could be an eight or nine. If he doesn't follow up on it, it's about a three, because the speech alone is simply a series of statements. If he acts on it, if it's policy, then it's a very big deal.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Liz.

MS. MARLANTES: I give it a seven for many of those same reasons. I give him a seven for the vision thing and because it was a radical articulation of a policy that has certainly gotten everybody's attention. I do think it was divorced from reality in many respects.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think it was that radical?

MS. MARLANTES: The foreign policy part.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Inaudible.) I had hoped it would be more directed than it was to the international community because of our severe problems there. And in view of that, I can't give it above a four.

When we come back, will Condoleezza Rice move the balance of power from the Department of Defense to the Department of State?

(Announcements.)

Issue Two: Steamed Rice.

SEN. RICHARD LUGAR (R-IN): (From videotape.) Sixteen yeas, two nays. The committee votes to report the nomination to the Senate floor.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Condoleezza Rice was easily approved this week by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in her bid to become the first female African-American secretary of State. But the lopsided 16-2 vote belies the intense scrutiny she received on issues ranging from whether she exaggerated the danger of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to whether the U.S. should negotiate with Iran.

(Videotaped excerpt of confirmation hearing.)

CONDOLEEZZA RICE (SECRETARY OF STATE-DESIGNATE): If the Iranians are prepared to verifiably and irreversibly get rid of their nuclear program, then that will be a very good day. And I think it would certainly change the circumstances that we are looking at.

SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D-DE): I wish we had a court reporter who could play back what you just said.

MS. RICE: I really --

SEN. BIDEN: What's the answer? Would you make a deal or not?

MS. RICE: The answer, Senator, is I'm not going to get into hypotheticals till I know what I'm looking at. That's the answer.

SEN. BIDEN: Well, you're in a hypothetical with China. You make a lot of deals with China. Their human rights program is horrible.

(End of excerpt.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The testiest exchange was between Ms. Rice and California Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer.

(Videotaped excerpt of confirmation hearing.)

SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D-CA): I personally believe -- this is my personal view -- that your loyalty to the mission you were given to sell this war overwhelmed your respect for the truth. And I don't say it lightly, and I'm going to go into the documents that show your statements and the facts at the time.

MS. RICE: I have to say that I have never, ever lost respect for the truth in the service of anything. It is not my nature. It is not my character. And I would hope that we can have this conversation and discuss what happened before and what went on before and what I said without impugning my credibility or my integrity.

(End of excerpt.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat -- I'm not going to give you this question. I'm going to give it to you, Liz. Did you grow to like Condoleezza Rice more as a result of seeing this testimony, or did you grow to dislike her less, or what?

MS. MARLANTES: Oh, that's a tough question. I wish you'd given it to Pat. I think she -- I think it was a tough couple of days. I think it was tougher than she was expecting. I do think that Democrats are concerned about a certain sort of group-think, that she's too close to the president. And there was the sense that they wanted to press her on that and see whether she would be able to function as an independent voice in that role.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think she's in sync with Cheney and with Rumsfeld?

MS. MARLANTES: There's no indication that she's not, really. She tried to mollify them a little bit on that point. But, again, I think there's a sense that this is going to be a very different kind of secretary of State, given that she's so close to the president and so close to the executive office.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean, we have a ventriloquist and a dummy here, and the ventriloquist is George Bush?

MS. MARLANTES: I wouldn't necessarily say it that way. I mean, I think there are some advantages from the president's point of view to have a secretary of State --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is she going to deviate at all from George Bush, as Colin Powell did?

MS. MARLANTES: This is the concern of Democrats. They think not.

(Cross talk; laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you know whether -- are secretaries of State prone to do anything else but agitate mostly and defend and be an advocate for their department? But in addition to that, do they speak with a certain amount of distance when necessary from the White House?

MS. MARLANTES: Well, I think there are some advantages to having a secretary of State who is more in tune with the White House.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did Cordell Hull? Do you remember him?

MR. BUCHANAN: Sure, I do -- Cordell Hull with Roosevelt. He was really not paid much attention to. Sumner Wells --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is the point of the Democrats? Is it justified? Why shouldn't she be the ventriloquist's dummy?

MR. BUCHANAN: They want -- and I think there's nothing wrong -- they would like a Colin Powell who's a secretary of State who has an independent point of view, who can also represent the building, but when the president finally decides, will be a loyal soldier. I think that's a good idea --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did your esteem for her go up or go down as a result of this?

MR. BUCHANAN: She has not evolved into a secretary of State yet. She's still a staff person.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: My esteem went up for her --

MS. CLIFT: Well, I'm not --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- the way she defended herself and the manner in which she did it.

MS. CLIFT: I'm not her audience, but I don't think she won anybody over on Capitol Hill. There is a Stepford quality to this woman. She is a born staffer. She's going to serve the president, and she --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who is leading whom? Is she leading him or is he leading her?

MS. CLIFT: I don't think she has a fixed ideology. I think she takes orders. And I think she lines up with Cheney and Rumsfeld.

MR. BLANKLEY: All these ad hominem attacks -- of course the Democrats want her to break with the president.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is not an ad hominem attack.

MR. BLANKLEY: A dummy --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Just a moment, please.

MR. BLANKLEY: A ventriloquist's dummy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Please. Don't you distort my speech. I would never call a woman a dummy.

MR. BLANKLEY: You said the ventriloquist's dummy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Certainly not on television.

MR. BLANKLEY: Aren't we on TV? Look --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.

MR. BLANKLEY: -- of course the Democrats were taking their shots. They have a couple of shots at her there. They took them. They got on the record for all the things they complain about. They don't like her because she's going to work with the president instead of against the president.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three: Can You Hear Me Now?

AIRLINE PASSENGER: (From videotape.) It's kind of the one place you couldn't be reached.

AIRLINE PASSENGER: (From videotape.) I think it could make for a very loud flight.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Using cell phones on airplanes is currently prohibited. The Federal Communications Commission, the FCC, is considering lifting the ban, however. And airline passengers are alarmed. Sixty-eight percent of all flyers, a clear consensus, want the cell phone ban to stay in place.

Since 1991, cell phone usage has been barred. The Federal Aviation Administration, the FAA, promoted the ban because allegedly cell phones could interfere with airplane navigation. But today there are new technologies, and no hard evidence exists to back up the old concern.

If the FCC and the FAA decide to lift the ban, it would be up to the individual airlines to consent to in-flight cell phone use. Investigation results into lifting the ban are due in December of this year.

Question: The safety issue is not completely resolved by it not interfering with navigation or with control of the plane. You could have safety problems if one passenger or passengers objected to the use of cell phones to the point where there were fistfights. And therefore the airlines could then say no cell phones on the flight.

MR. BUCHANAN: Cell phone rage you're referring to, John?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Correct -- (laughter) -- which is outdistancing road rage in many locations. What do you think of that? Do you think cell phones should be used, Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: I think the analogy is smoking. Smoking is legal but it's not legal on planes. And I think that --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No cell phones?

MS. CLIFT: I say no cell phones, except if you're being hijacked. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: At least on long-haul flights, when you're trying to sleep.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but if you're being hijacked --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about the camera --

MS. CLIFT: -- it's okay to call the ground.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If you're shifting from one leg to another outside the restroom and somebody takes your picture. What is -- you know, that kind of thing. Or if you're sleep -- (makes face) -- you know? (Laughter.)

MS. CLIFT: I don't know, John. I can't imagine you --


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