THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP
HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN
PANEL: PATRICK BUCHANAN, MSNBC; ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK; TONY BLANKLEY, THE WASHINGTON TIMES; MORT ZUCKERMAN, U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT
RECORDED: FRIDAY, JUNE 10, 2005 BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF JUNE 11-12, 2005
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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Howard, Don't Hold back.
HOWARD DEAN (DNC chairman): (From videotape.) I hate what the Republicans are doing to this country. I really do.
The dark, difficult and dishonest vision that the Republican Party offers America.
And Republicans, I guess, can do that because a lot of them have never made an honest living in their lives.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Comments like these are getting Howard Dean in hot water. HOUSE MINORITY LEADER NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): (From videotape.) I do not agree with the statement that was made by Governor Dean -- Chairman Dean -- in characterizing Republicans.
SENATOR JOSEPH BIDEN (D-DE): (From videotape.) He doesn't speak for me with that kind of rhetoric.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This week, another volley from the chairman.
MR. DEAN: (From audio tape.) The Republicans are not very friendly to different kinds of people. They're a pretty monolithic party. They pretty much -- they all behave the same and they all look the same, and they all -- you know, it's pretty much a white Christian party.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Republicans are relishing it.
KEN MEHLMAN (RNC chairman): (From videotape.) I think that a lot of the folks who attended my bar mitzvah would be surprised to learn that we are a party of white Christians.
SENATOR ORRIN HATCH (R-UT): (From videotape.) If I didn't know how bright he was, I'd call him a raving idiot.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Is Howard's blood in the water? Pat Buchanan.
MR. BUCHANAN: I think it is, John. Look, I must say, I like Howard Dean. I think he's a conviction politician and I think he showed courage in standing up against the war when everybody thought it was popular. But he's got the George Romney problem now. He's got everybody, as we were a minute ago, laughing at him. And he's got the press sitting there with their pencils waiting for another castigation of Republicans they can write down.
I think Dean's in trouble, and I think his one survival is if his party can make serious gains in the mid-term elections. Otherwise I would not be surprised to see him go.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't see the solid message behind -- (inaudible)? He's attacking the underbelly of the Republican Party. He's saying there is a disconnect between Bush and the United States Congress and the American people.
MR. BUCHANAN: But, look, he says they never -- you know, these guys, none of them's ever worked for a living. For heaven's sake, Bush won the working America by 24 points.
MR. BUCHANAN: For years -- Eleanor, don't you agree that for years the function, the classic function of the head of the party, is to attack, to be the bad cop? MS. CLIFT: Well, it's the first time in a long time anybody's actually paying attention to a Democratic chairman. And he is forcing the party to galvanize and to rethink itself. And there are going to be some food fights along the way. And he's making people uncomfortable with some of his rhetoric. Some of the rhetoric seems over the top.
But on, you know, the white Christian party, he's in good company making that comment because Senator Danforth, a Republican and an Episcopal minister, has said the party has turned into the political arm of a religious movement. And Republican Christopher Shays says the party has become a theocracy.
But he speaks in a shorthand where he offends people. And he hasn't yet earned the trust of the country that people are going to give him the benefit of the doubt. And you can only say, "I know what he means" so often. But, look, I think he is getting attention paid and he's forcing the party to rethink itself. And he's threatening to the Washington establishment.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think he really speaks off the cuff that way without careful planning? Or do you think this is really thought through and he is doing what is supposed to be done in this bad cop/good cop situation? The good cop is Pelosi. The good cop is Biden. They're supposed to distance themselves from what they regard as bellicose rhetoric. But the bellicose rhetoric is what does the job, and it turns out the money.
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, I, like Pat, debated him a couple of times during the election year, and I found him to be a shrewd debater. He was laying out his arguments. He knew where he was going with it. So I don't think this is all off the cuff. He did have a record of being undisciplined, but I don't think all of this is undisciplined.
I think it's useful for the MoveOn.org left-wing base of the Democratic Party, that part of their base, to hear this kind of rhetoric at a time when they see the leadership of the Democratic Party sort of selling out, from their point of view, whether it's the Senate deal or voting for bankruptcy bills. So that's useful.
I think where he's hurting the party is he refuses to make the phone calls for the big bucks. And that's why the DNC is not raising money. And he simply refuses to do what every party leader has to do, which is make the phone calls and beg for dollars, and he won't do it. And that's the real thing that he's doing that's hurting the party. Other than that, it's pretty effective, I think.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think there's another problem with Howard, and that is he is deflecting attention against the negative patch that the president is going through when the best counsel is just to lift the winch and let the rope roll out so he can continue to hang himself? Instead of that, he's diverting attention to himself and to the Democratic Party. MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think that's just one part of what he's about.
You know, there is still a center in American politics, and that center is going to be alienated and solidified in its opposition to what he is saying. And I think that's the biggest political cost, in addition to which he's not raising the money for the party that they had all hoped. So the function of the chairman is not just to arouse the base and energize the base. He cannot put himself into a position where he consistently alienates the swing votes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me just raise this with Eleanor, because I know she knows the feel, the Democratic feel around the country, much better than these other three stiffs on the panel. (Laughter.) And that is --
MR. BLANKLEY: You and who else? (Laughter.)
MR. BUCHANAN: That sounds like --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Who are the other two besides you, John? Right.
MR. BUCHANAN: Howard Dean comment. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The chairmen of the party in the states, the chairmen, they like Dean. Dean is performing for them. Their ranks are demoralized. They need a fiery leader, and they like him. Am I right or wrong?
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, you're right. The rhetoric is playing to the base. But he's traveling to the red states. He is determined to rebuild the party in states the Democrats haven't gone into for a couple of election cycles. And he seems really serious about that.
On the money, he threatens the Washington Democrats because they're all dependent on corporate money. And he doesn't want to play that game. He wants to build the small donor base. And I think, you know, that --
MR. BLANKLEY: The truth is, you can do both.
MS. CLIFT: Well --
MR. BLANKLEY: Terry McAuliffe did both. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's hear Mort.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Name me the last time a party chairman got so many people, leading members of his own party, to disassociate themselves from what he said? If you think that's a definition of effectiveness, good luck. I don't think it is.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Didn't Hillary recently attack the Republicans in very strong, bellicose terms?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, she did. But her language is a lot more intelligent than what his is.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, she's a lady.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, it's not just because she's a lady.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This man's a doctor.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: It's because --
MR. BUCHANAN: John, let me tell you what he ought to do.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What doctors do you know that are not aggressive and forthcoming and outspoken?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes. Almost all of them, if I may say so.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, let me tell you what he ought to do. Agnew had this problem, and he made a number of gaffes and they were looking for him. So what Agnew did was some of what Eleanor's recommending is go up high and do blazing speeches on the Republican ideology and their record. He did it on Democrats. He made himself a national figure. But he's got to stop making himself -- Dean does -- sort of a caricature of the wacko liberal; I mean, the Michael Moore guy calling Republicans silly names. Republicans are laughing their heads off at this.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Democrats need esprit de corps, Pat.
MR. BUCHANAN: He can do it. He can do the Agnew role, which was terrific. But you do it going after the Republicans on policy and issues and things like that.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but linking him with Agnew, who took payoffs in the basement of the Old Executive Office Building -- I mean, I have a hard time making that leap.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He was the third-most popular man in America in 1969, right after Billy Graham and, of course, Mr. Nixon.
MS. CLIFT: It's 2005 now, Pat. (Laughs.) MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Are these ravings the equivalent of Dean's screech in Iowa, or is this a disciplined, politically effective message? Pat Buchanan.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, these are foot faults by Dean that he's got to stop or he's going to make himself a laughingstock.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: I think it's closer to an effective message, but I do think that he's a little loose-lipped and he should rein in his rhetoric to some extent.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.
MR. BLANKLEY: Eleanor has it precisely correct. It's basically a message, but it's a little sloppy in the execution.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: It's one of each. I mean, he reinforces the image of himself with that scream, with his language. And it becomes counterproductive, not effective.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think it's effective.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, you may be right. I don't see it, but you may be right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think it's remoralizing the Democrats.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: You may be right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They were whining and down in the dumps. And I think he's given them a "ratio entis" (ph). Do you know what that means, Pat? "Ratio entis" (ph), a reason for being.
Issue Two: Iran's Critical Election.
Next Friday, citizens of Iran will vote on who they want as president. I spent last week in Teheran, the capital of Iran, a busy spread-out city of 12 million people and an incredible number of cars and the scariest traffic in the world -- worse than Cairo, worse than Rome, with most cars manufactured, by the way, in Iran; bazaars, stylish shops, coffee houses, food courts, cinemas, art houses, and museums with some Iranian artifacts 8,000 years old, the cradle of civilization, plus stores with a full range of cosmetics from Paris, Tokyo, Toronto and Manhattan, through Dubai, brand names and locally produced prophylactics on full display in pharmacies, some labeled, quote, "a selection of fruity flavors for every occasion" -- all the trappings of a modern city, somewhat rundown, but not Havana, and not pre-Hariri Beirut -- extremely energized with lots of young Iranians in the restaurants and the coffee houses drinking their beverages laced with ice cream, Mort, during the alcohol-free cocktail hour. Women in Iran dress in black, but most with full faces exposed and head wraps drawn back from the earlier required forehead line, with the wraps now receding to mid-crown at the rate of about an inch a month and some skirts being raised at the same rate, now exposing naked ankles and naked feet.
I moved freely throughout the city, wherever I wished to go. On one occasion I attended what amounted to a campaign rally for Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.
I greeted him but got no grant for an interview before the election. His son was there, his campaign manager, and I spoke with him briefly.
The event was staged for Iran's art, cinema and theatrical community. About 10 artists stood before the audience, with Rafsanjani sitting center stage facing the people, like a king. The artist called for more creative freedom and government funding. Rafsanjani took the platform and echoed their freedom call, and then warned against western intervention into Iran's performing arts -- a clever dual position to draw votes from both the right and from the left.
Rafsanjani was president of Iran from 1989 to 1997. Three years later, in 2000, he ran for the national legislature and was humiliated, finishing 33rd -- 33rd. Now he wants to regain standing, and the way to do that is to win the paramount trophy, which means relations with the United States and the end of Iran's quasi- isolation.
What he brings mostly to the table is his ability and power to work with a Muslim conservative, the supreme ruler for life, Ayatollah Ali Khameini, who succeeded Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989.
Perhaps my biggest surprise in Iran was how effortlessly the regime was criticized, sharply, with one taxi driver telling me, among others, that he was not going to vote in protest because, as far as he was concerned, they were all SOBs and all on the take. So the turnout is expected to be small, and many will not vote for the taxi cab driver's same reason.
Question: Why is it that the reality of Teheran is so different from its U.S. image? Eleanor Clift.
MS. CLIFT: Well, I think that they do want to move into the company of nations. And I think what's going on in Iraq is actually in their best interest, and I think whatever emerges in Iraq is going to be better for Iran than it is for this country. And I would just hope that this administration cools its rhetoric and begins to try to work.
All of these candidates who are running are all running on platforms of warming relations with the U.S., and I think that's a positive sign. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What are you hearing, Mort?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, 60 to 70 percent of the Iranians are pro- U.S. It is remarkable the degree to which the public supports and favors a rapprochement with the United States.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I experienced that warmth.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: But none of the leaders are moderates -- not Rafsanjani and not any of them are. And the real power is with the guardian council, led by Khomeini (sic). And I don't think they're going to get anywhere -- Khameini, excuse me -- anywhere in terms of American relations.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We've got three names that start with K-H. One is Khomeini, who was the old-time ayatollah who died in '89. The current outgoing president is Khatami. And then we have Khameini, who is the current supreme leader since 1989.
The people have become very cynical. They've gone through a second revolution -- two revolutions, one in '79 and one in '97.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: And there's a --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The economy was a terrible disappointment to the young.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Right. There's immense corruption. I mean, Rafsanjani lives the life of an old-time Iranian pasha. It's one of the reasons why he's so unpopular. The people haven't benefited. It's the leadership that has benefited extraordinarily.
MR. BLANKLEY: Let me add another dimension to this. The United States -- Bush has said, "We'll stand with you, Iranian people, in your search for democracy," et cetera. This government has done nothing to stand with the Iranian people. We should be broadcasting in radio. We should be helping funding for opposition parties. We should be doing everything we can to help them, because you've got 50, 60, 70 percent of the public there that would like to have a more western-oriented, independent Iranian government. So I think there's been a real mistake on the part of the Bush administration in not following up on its rhetoric of "We will stand with you if you'll stand for democracy."
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's an interesting point. In point of fact, I think the administration very much wants to see Rafsanjani get in because they feel they can deal with him. He's a man of extreme cunning, but he has that Iranian DNA, which is the power to negotiate. And he's very clever. And they all are, because they have resisted these sweeps of invaders since when? Since forever.
MR. BLANKLEY: They didn't always resist. MR. BUCHANAN: Well, they didn't resist them at all. The British --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I know, but they've learned to cope with that.
MR. BUCHANAN: The British and Russians divided it up after World War -- I mean, in their entente in 1907, John; split the place apart.
But, look, here's the problem. Khatami was a tremendous disappointment. Seventy percent of the Iranian people voted for him twice. I think the United States should have made moves toward him myself because ultimately, look, Iran is going to dominate the Persian Gulf. They've got 70 million people. It's growing very rapidly. Iraq has been destroyed.
I think there's the makings of a great deal with the Iranians if you can get them to forgo nuclear weapons and forgo producing them. And the United States has got an awful lot it can give them. But, frankly, they're going to be the hegemon in the Gulf.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Your points are very well taken. But let me proceed to another compelling element of this report. Is that okay, Pat? (Laughs.)
MR. BUCHANAN: Go ahead, John.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Does Iran resent the U.S.? The answer is yes. Here's why. Iran is an ancient and proud nation, with participatory government, if not democracy itself, in place for centuries. Iranians believe that it is insulting for the U.S. to think that Iran's leaders would ever use a nuclear bomb in a first strike or even in a counter-strike.
They say history proves it. Saddam Hussein repeatedly used weapons of mass destruction, i.e. chemical weapons, against Iran's forces during the 1980 to '88 war. Iran refused to use weapons of mass destruction and retaliation to Iraq's poisonous chemicals.
Furthermore, Iran is probably the most fiercely nationalistic nation on earth, more nationalistic, I think, than even the United States. This nationalism is fed by the fact that they are Persians living in an Arab world. The mullahs are not and have not been saints by any means, and corruption has to be rooted out. But they refuse to use weapons of mass destruction. And their fierce nationalism is outraged at the thought that they would do so, and being labeled alongside North Korea and Saddam's Iraq on the axis of evil, as I was told repeatedly.
Question: Has our rhetoric against Iran become excessively bellicose and counterproductive? I ask you, Mort. MR. ZUCKERMAN: Look, Iran has been ranked by our State Department as the most active terrorist nation in the world, the highest degree of support for terrorism. They are the sole funders and creators and armers of Hezbollah, which is one of the most dangerous forces in the Middle East. So they are not innocent.
Between their commitment to develop nuclear weapons -- which they did, I might add, with the help of A.Q. Khan from Pakistan -- this wasn't something they did as a noble effort just to produce nuclear power when they're buying equipment for nuclear weapons from A.Q. Khan. I mean, whatever you heard from these people, the reality of what they have done is a much tougher issue for us to cope with.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's talk about the Hezbollah and what they told me. They told me that the state does not initiate any movement of any resources, military or money, to the Hezbollah for distribution anywhere.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.) Come on.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Furthermore, they told me that Syria was going to cave on the Hezbollah.
MR. BUCHANAN: The Israelis --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: The person who told you that, was his nose growing longer as he spoke to you?
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)
MR. ZUCKERMAN: You've got to be kidding.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, where do you think Hezbollah --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm telling you what he told me.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I know what he told you.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What they told me.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: They're lying. That's all it is.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They also told me this, that their policy is to behave towards the Hezbollah precisely as Lebanon and Beirut do. Beirut puts them in the parliament of Lebanon. They recognize the fact that they're split in two. Namely, the Hezbollah has a humanistic wing, with its great schools and great hospitals, and it has a military wing. And they want that distinction to be brought out front.
MR. BUCHANAN: Hey, John -- John --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: The Hezbollah in Lebanon have 12,000 Katusha rockets --
MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- all provided by Iran.
MR. BUCHANAN: Where do you think they --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: They get $100 million a year in support, all provided by Iran.
MR. BUCHANAN: They don't produce them in southern Lebanon, John.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: They create 50 percent of the terrorist acts in the Middle East.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How do you account --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: It all comes from Iran.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How do you account for Lebanon, which you have praised on this program, especially for its direction towards democracy? They have the Hezbollah in their parliament as legitimate members.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I'm not arguing that the Hezbollah --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why shouldn't Iran, they say, have the Hezbollah in their --
MS. CLIFT: Hezbollah has a --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why are they under any obligation to move them out?
MS. CLIFT: Hezbollah has made some --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Hezbollah is a terrorist organization, primarily.
MS. CLIFT: Hezbollah is --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know, they say be careful the way you characterize them. They're not in the same class with Hamas.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: They're worse than Hamas. MS. CLIFT: Hezbollah is making --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They also say --
MS. CLIFT: Hezbollah is making some moves to maturing to a political party, but they've got a long way to go. But, look, U.S. foreign policy, ever since the shah fell in '79, has been to contain Iran, where they're the big threat. We never wanted them to gain power. And what we have done by invading Iraq and turning Iraq into a nation that is friendly to Iran, we have empowered Iran. And we may very well come to regret that.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, the U.S. position. The U.S. maintains steadfastly that Iran, in fact, has a covert weapons development program, and the objective of Iran's overall nuclear program is to acquire the means and materials to leap from nuclear electric power to nuclear arms power.
Question: What is your intuition about what the Iranian people want? Do they want to take the terms of an attractive deal that they might be able to get, or do you think they want to experience the disadvantages of the ire of the United States and the West?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I do think, virtually across the political spectrum in Iran, they want to develop nuclear weapons. For them it's a matter of national pride and a symbol of their country. That -- I mean, I don't care who is in power; I believe they're going to pursue nuclear weapons. It's really become that much of a part of their culture, their political culture.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, it's a matter now of national pride. But here's the president's view, and I want to see whether we have the makings here of a deal. Here is what he said just last week.
PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape.) Now, our policy is very clear on that, and that is that the Iranians violated the NPT agreement. We found out they violated the agreement. And therefore, they're not to be trusted when it comes to highly-enriched uranium -- or highly- enriching uranium. Therefore, our policy is to prevent them from having the capacity to develop enriched uranium to the point where they're able to make a nuclear weapon.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can I see the chyron of exactly what the president said? "And therefore, our policy is to prevent them" -- that is, the Iranians -- "from having the capacity to develop enriched uranium to the point where they're able to make a nuclear weapon."
What that says, of course, is that making electricity from nuclear power is okay; the enrichment of uranium in order to make that is part of a fuel cycle needed to move the centrifuges. It's their fuel. And the president appears to be saying here that the cycle of enrichment can begin, but at that point, where the enrichment exceeds 90 percent in its purity for a bomb or for what the Iranians say is another scientific purpose, they have to step off the cycle. Is that the way you understand that?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I mean, basically we have bought into what Putin is saying, because the Russians are supporting the Bushehr nuclear facility with control on the fissionable material and the uranium that goes into it and comes out of it through the rods. But they all recognize that they have been pursuing fissionable material and highly-enriched uranium, and the new P-2 processors, which accelerates the development of it. And this is not consistent with what they say they're about.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but the president says we don't trust them.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They, I think --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Nor should we trust them.
MS. CLIFT: Well, and they don't trust us.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: So what if they don't trust us?
MS. CLIFT: Well, and they see that we invaded a country that did not have nuclear weapons and we did not invade a country that does have nuclear weapons, i.e. North Korea. So they would rather be in the second category.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We're out of time.
MS. CLIFT: So the incentive is there.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We're out of time, but the audience will be pleased to know that we're going to return to this subject next week. It's an important subject -- vital.
Exit question: Will there be a deal, Pat?
MR. BUCHANAN: The neocons will veto it. The Israelis will veto it. Bush doesn't want it.
MS. CLIFT: I think I'll buy his negativity.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?
MR. BLANKLEY: Of course there's not going to be a deal, because the Iranians won't compromise sufficiently on terrorism and they won't compromise on getting nuclear weapons. So there can be no deal.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think, Mort?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: As long as oil prices are at $50 a barrel, there'll be no deal. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There will be a deal. The Iranians want it. They want modernization and they want an improved economy, and they need the West for that.
Issue Three: Making the Grade.
During the 2004 presidential race, John Kerry's media image was bookish, wonkish, and standoffish. George Bush, on the other hand, was a do-more, read-less, no-nonsense Texan man of action. The election is well behind us, but the debate about who was the better man lingers.
Mr. Kerry has finally released his grades from his alma mater, Yale University. It turns out that Kerry, the blue-state, East Coast intellectual, finished Yale with a four-year average of 76. Bush, the red-state, boot-wearing everyman, also a Yale grad three years behind Kerry, had an overall grade average of 77.
Question: Mort, do you think that Bush is happy about hearing this news? Do you think he's doing a chicken dance in the Oval Office?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think Bush is content with his image. He presents himself as a guy with Cs. Remember, he said, you know, "Even a guy who got Cs can become president of the United States." He obviously did better than that and he did well at Harvard Business School. He's no dummy. A lot of people think he is, but he is no dummy.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, he beat Kerry in the electoral college.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, he's got a lot of smarts that Kerry doesn't have. Call them political smarts, for an opener.
MS. CLIFT: I suspect this is why Kerry didn't want to release his full records during the campaign, because he was afraid that it would somehow create a level playing field with the president. He thought he had this big intellectual advantage. Actually, if that came out, he might have looked more like a regular human being and it wouldn't have looked like he spent four years at college plotting to be president.
MR. BLANKLEY: What's interesting --
MS. CLIFT: Eight months too late.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.
MR. BLANKLEY: I think Eleanor may be right about him being embarrassed to have them released. But they came out of his military records, which might, had he released them, have given him some ammunition against the Swift Boat Vets. So it may very well be that his conceit about his proclaimed intellect cost him an advantage he would otherwise have had.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Didn't Nixon kind of pooh-pooh high grades, Pat?
MR. BUCHANAN: Yes, he did. He always liked B students rather than A students.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did he defend mediocrity?
MR. BUCHANAN: No, he didn't.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who was that?
MR. BUCHANAN: Roman Hruska defended that very, very well --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The senator?
MR. BUCHANAN: -- with Carswell. "We need mediocre judges. There's a lot of mediocre people."
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Forced prediction: Who will be the next chancellor of Germany? Pat Buchanan.
MR. BUCHANAN: Angela Merkel.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: Ditto.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat -- excuse me -- Tony.
MR. BLANKLEY: Dickel -- ditto -- Merkel. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, Angela Merkel.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Angela Merkel is right. Bye bye.