Share

THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP

HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN

PANEL: PATRICK BUCHANAN, MSNBC; ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK; TONY BLANKLEY, THE WASHINGTON TIMES; LIONEL BARBER, THE FINANCIAL TIMES

TAPED: FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 2005 BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF SEPTEMBER 10-11, 2005

-----------------------------------------------------------------
Copyright (c) 2005 by Federal News Service, Inc., Ste. 500 1000 Vermont Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20005, USA. Federal News Service is a private firm not affiliated with the federal government. No portion of this transcript may be copied, sold or retransmitted without the written authority of Federal News Service, Inc. Copyright is not claimed as to any part of the original work prepared by a United States government officer or employee as a part of that person's official duties. For information on subscribing to the FNS Internet Service, please visit http://www.fednews.com or call(202)347-1400
-----------------------------------------------------------------


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Katrina Blame Game.

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT): (From videotape.) We've given billions of dollars to the Department of Homeland Security. We have given as many tools as they've asked for. What in heaven's name was happening?

REP. JOHN DINGELL (D-MI): (From videotape.) FEMA used to be one of the extraordinarily respected government agencies. Today we can't say that.

HOUSE MINORITY LEADER NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): (From videotape.) When the president of the United States said to me in his office, "What didn't go right next week?" I thought that was oblivious. I thought that was in denial. And I thought that oblivious and in denial is dangerous for the country.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This week it was the Katrina blame game, played on both sides of the aisle.

SEN. TRENT LOTT (R-MS): (From videotape.) If somebody had said, "Do you pick somebody to hammer?" I don't know who I'd pick.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist fended off the attack on Bush by deflecting it to the local level.

SENATE MAJORITY LEADER BILL FRIST (R-TN): (From videotape.) I think, increasingly, people see that there was a system-wide failure at the local level, at the state level and at the federal level.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Frist expanded the Republican defense by spreading the culpability.

SEN. FRIST: (From videotape.) The House and Senate are forming a bipartisan committee, made up of senior members. This joint committee will be tasked with reviewing, at all levels of government, the immediate preparation and recovery from Hurricane Katrina.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But the investigation itself is also a subject of investigation. Top Democrats say the Republican-dominated Congress cannot investigate itself with a straight face. An independent investigation is called for.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY): (From videotape.) This is not a game. This is serious. Everyone along the Gulf Coast, and frankly everybody in the country, deserve answers. They want to know what went wrong, and they want to know what they're going to be able to count on in the future.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, at the White House, President Bush has his own plans for an independent investigation. How? Through his Cabinet.

PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape.) What I intend to do is lead an investigation to find out what went right and what went wrong.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: To no one's surprise, the Senate Democratic minority leader said, in effect, "Bush can't be serious."

SENATE MINORITY LEADER HARRY REID (D-NV): (From videotape.) I think it's the wrong thing for the president to be investigating himself. Baseball games don't work out very well when you have the man throwing the pitches calling the balls and strikes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: What accounts for the ferocity of Democratic attacks on Bush's handling of Katrina? Pat Buchanan. MR. BUCHANAN: Political opportunism, John, partisanship. They see an opening to take down a president they really can't stand. Look, there's no doubt that FEMA and the Homeland Security and the president of the United States was flat-footed on this. Those agencies deserve to be gone after.

But the Democrats are making a terrible mistake, especially Pelosi and Jesse Jackson and the Black Caucus, getting in and accusing the president of the United States of racism; they left them down there because they were black. There's a backlash building to the attacks personally on the president. The Democrats are making a mistake. They should keep it on the subject of incompetence and torpor by the agencies and slowness off the mark by the president of the United States.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Maybe they're not making a mistake, Eleanor. Maybe they're looking at the outcome of the 2006 elections next year.

MS. CLIFT: Well, if that backlash is coming, it's taking a while to build, because the numbers that are in of the percentage of people who think the country is on the wrong track is now up into the 60s.

Look, there's a lot of frustration on the Democratic side that this president has slid off of accountability throughout his presidency for a war that wasn't necessary, for a bungled aftermath of the war where he promotes everybody and gives out commendations.

And I don't think -- I agree with what Hillary Clinton said that this is not a game, that accountability should be fixed. And the administration is beginning to get the message. At least they've moved Michael Brown upstairs. I mean, as the head of the disaster management agency, to have somebody there who is a political hack with no disaster experience is an embarrassment for the country.

And it's one thing to say there was a failure at the local and state government; that's true. But the federal government is the last line of defense that we all have, and this does not increase confidence in this country for how we would handle another similar event. And there are more hurricanes on the horizon, and the possibility of a terrorist attack as well.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think voters will vent their rage and their anger against the incumbents in 2006?

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, it's much too early to tell. Look, last week on this show I said the danger for the Democrats is they're going to overplay their hand, because Bush is vulnerable both on his performance immediately after the event and, we're going to find out, on his management of FEMA, where there's going to be a lot of embarrassments for the president. The danger is -- and let me give you one polling example. Seventy-seven percent of white people in America don't buy the charge that race had anything to do with this. Sixty-six percent of black people do. That's Gallup poll this week.

When the Democrats start beating on that issue, 77 percent of the people are hearing that and saying that's wrong.

Therefore, they'll be less likely to listen to the Democrats when they make the valid charges. And there are valid charges to be made. So I think they're badly outplaying their hand.

As to whether this is going to last to 2006, the Republicans, at least initially, who are very disgruntled on the Hill, have made the decision to rally around the president rather than to distance themselves from him. But I think that the jury is still out on whether the Republicans will stick with him or whether they will wander off by themselves.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, the Republicans ought to take comfort from the fact that the polls show that 75 percent of the Republicans around the country support Bush's handling and rather like his handling of Katrina.

MR. BLANKLEY: But his overall approval amongst Republicans is down about 9 or 10 percent, which is still a solid number, but it's not a comfortable trend line for the president.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Two-thirds of the public, however, Lionel, as you well know because of your esteemed position as editor of the Financial Times, following the American situation, two-thirds of the public don't think Bush has done a good job at all. So maybe he does have a worry about 2006.

MR. BARBER: Well, Bush was certainly better than Putin in the wake of the Kursk disaster, the submarine that went down. He was, however, equally absent and not as good as Tony Blair, for example, after the London bombings. He failed to find the right words. He didn't go to the scene early enough. He didn't send Vice President Cheney in there as a statement that the federal government was behind these victims, the refugees, the waves of refugees coming out of New Orleans.

He never produced, for example, an Oval Office broadcast to the nation asking Americans around the country to support the victims in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi. And therefore, whether you're a Republican or a Democrat, he just looked detached, out of touch, not a president, a sort of middle-line manager.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, Fall-Guy FEMA. REP. PELOSI: (From videotape.) Here we are on the floor of Congress, appropriating $50 billion to an agency which has a record of poor performance and leadership without qualifications for the job. If you need any further evidence of the lack of performance, you need only look to last week.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: President Bush is fond of the FEMA director, whose name is Michael Brown. Mr. Bush called Director Brown, quote/unquote, "Brownie." And when he visited the Gulf, the president said, "Brownie, you are doing a heck of a job."

On Friday, Brownie was removed from New Orleans --

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and told to work in Washington. Director Brown said to the AP that he was being made a scapegoat, not by the president but by the press.

Question: What's the rest of this story, Eleanor Clift? Do you know?

MS. CLIFT: He was an abysmal failure, and it was revealed that he had no credentials for this job and that he may even have inflated the scant credentials that he had. And, look, what Tony said about the race issue, it's much more complicated than black versus white. It's about race and class in this country. And what Katrina did lay bare was the fact that we do have poverty in America that people prefer to pretend doesn't exist.

And if anything good is to come out of this, perhaps in the rebuilding of New Orleans, we can create some sort of federal plan where the victims could help rebuild the city, as opposed to Halliburton and Bechtel going in there and getting the big contracts. And if you believe in the grand unified theory of conspiracy, Joe Allbaugh, who was Michael Brown's boss, is lobbying FEMA for contracts on behalf of Halliburton. I mean, it all ties together for the wealthy.

MR. BLANKLEY: Look, I mean, the grand conspiracy -- let me just make a couple of points. First of all, New Orleans and Louisiana are two of the most Democratic cities and states in the country. They've been running that state since Huey Long and before that. The idea that it's Bush's fault because of the conditions in Louisiana is just irrelevant.

Now, the point on Brown, though, is an important one, because Bush is responsible for appointing him. Not only has he been not qualified, and he was not qualified going in, but he has created a reduction in morale -- and I've talked to some key people in that agency -- a reduction in morale that's led to a lot of top people, who are expert civil servants, having retired early. And that's one of the reasons it's not functioning well. But it's important to understand that the failure of FEMA is not because it's in the Department of Homeland Security but because of individual personnel failures, starting at the top with Brown.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, look, this is not only a natural disaster, however. There is a man-made disaster down there in New Orleans, let's face it; the Great Society programs, 40 years of poverty programs, a complete failure. These people were utterly, totally dependent on government and --

MS. CLIFT: Well, that's not true. They were -- these people were --

MR. BUCHANAN: In the convention center, a lot of people got out. A lot of people got out. But these Great Society programs have failed. They've created dependency. Also, in addition to that, you've got, what -- they broke loose. They're rioting, looting and shooting. And people going in to help were unable to help.

MS. CLIFT: Oh, come on, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: That's got to be explained too.

MS. CLIFT: Pat, reaching back 50 years and blaming the Great Society --

MR. BUCHANAN: The Great Society --

MS. CLIFT: These people weren't even born when those programs (came?).

MR. BARBER: Pat, the --

MS. CLIFT: They work at minimum wage, for the most part. And you know what this president managed to do? Tuck in a little provision that says the contractors that go in to rebuild New Orleans don't have to pay the prevailing minimum wage, which is $9 an hour. So whose fault is that? You're going to blame the victim?

MR. BUCHANAN: You can get the kids working if you pay them less than $9 an hour. That's what they need -- jobs.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, let Lionel in.

MR. BARBER: For the last 10 years, the Great Society has been progressively dismantled, not just by President Bush but also his predecessor, President Clinton. We've had welfare reform. The fact is that there were a substantial proportion of people down there who were helpless, didn't have their food stamps. They couldn't get out. And it was a terrible scene to see this word, refugees, a word I never imagined in the American political lexicon. So these were shocking scenes. And there was failure at the local and federal level. Having said that, the private sector has a role to play here -- reconstruction, a reviled term in the South after the Civil War. You could get reconstruction come back through the private sector -- jobs, the reconstruction of New Orleans. A crisis could be turned into an opportunity.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, how do you explain --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can we talk about the staffing of FEMA and make that point clear? Are we saying on this program that Bush populated FEMA with loyalists, and that was his criterion? It's not as if he did not know what the recommendations and the credentials were, alleged or real, of Michael Brown. Correct?

MS. CLIFT: Right. Tony --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And there were three at the top that were without qualification, according to the press.

MS. CLIFT: Tony's suggesting it's all Michael Brown's grand design. He did that with the president's blessing.

MR. BLANKLEY: I didn't. I said --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let her finish. Let her finish.

MR. BLANKLEY: I said the president is responsible for it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to hear her point.

MS. CLIFT: And it reflects the president's disdain for government. You dismantle -- starve government, dismantle the social programs, privatize everything.

MR. BUCHANAN: Government failed at all levels. It failed completely.

MS. CLIFT: It is government --

MR. BUCHANAN: We have too much government, too much bureaucracy. Individuals are going down there, going to the convention center, the government bureaucrats, whether they're Republican or Democrat. It is inherent in those agencies.

MS. CLIFT: We have plenty of inept -- MR. BUCHANAN: The 82nd Airborne cut right in there.

MS. CLIFT: We have plenty of inept local and state officials. We have one president. And if the Louisianians don't like the mayor and their governor, they can take out their anger on them. But the rest of us have got to worry about our president. And our federal government failed miserably here. You cannot defend this performance.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think we can take comfort in the director of the DHS, to whom the new number one federal officer appointed on Wednesday, 10 days after the New Orleans huge hit -- 10 days later they appointed one person to represent the federal government and he would report to Michael Chertoff, the head of the Department of Homeland Security and to no one else, meaning that he was running the show, and that this new person would be there with the commitment and the responsibility of bringing focus to the situation on all levels?

MR. BUCHANAN: John, look, I think Chertoff --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are we any better off with Chertoff than we are with Michael Brown?

MR. BUCHANAN: I don't think so. I don't think so. But, John, let's take a look at something. The New Orleans police force collapsed and disappeared. There is chaos and shooting and rioting and looting and raping in the city. Now, Chertoff was slow. The president was slow in all of that. But you better get to the heart of the matter. This society collapsed down there.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is Chertoff qualified?

MS. CLIFT: Yeah.

MR. BUCHANAN: He's qualified on paper. I don't think he's a strong --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Chertoff is a lawyer. He has no experience in operations.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think you need an administrator.

MS. CLIFT: Society collapsed when you had no food and water for days. And to blame -- you're acting like these are bad people. These are good people who got trapped in a terrible circumstance.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on. Hold on.

MR. BUCHANAN: They are. But the rioters and looters aren't.

MS. CLIFT: And the number of looters and all that were very, very small. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on, Pat. Okay. The president rises to the occasion. On Thursday, President Bush laid out a detailed, nuts-and- bolts plan to make it easier for evacuees to register and to receive benefits.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Today I'm announcing two important steps. The first step is providing every household with $2,000 in emergency disaster relief. We're also working to ensure that those of you who receive federal benefits administered by the states of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana will continue to get those benefits in the states where you're now staying.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Will the $2,000 and the provision that federal entitlement benefits will follow victims state to state quell the criticism? I ask you, Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: No, it's not going to quell the criticism. You obviously have to make provision for the people, depending on how well the money is distributed.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But this is a big step in the right direction.

MR. BLANKLEY: It's a useful step. I think the more the president performs well going into the out weeks and months, the less he'll pay a price. He's going to pay a certain price for his failures in the opening days.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the immediate problem with it, Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: Look, first of all --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It appears to be unadministratable.

MS. CLIFT: First of all, the debit cards didn't arrive, but the press releases went out. And the people on the ground for FEMA didn't even know anything about it. I mean, it was a chaotic situation.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it unadministratable?

MS. CLIFT: It appears that way, yes.

MR. BUCHANAN: I'll tell you what's going to be positive for the president, John. They got $50 billion. They're going to be pouring money in there for weeks and months and months. This is going to turn around in the president's favor because of all that money.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is going to overpower the traction that the president now appears to be gaining, at least a little bit? What is going to overpower that? Will it be the corpse body count?

MR. BUCHANAN: You've got my prediction. My prediction is, John -- and I'll give it ahead of time -- it's not going to be 10,000 dead. I don't think it's going to be 5,000. My guess is it's going to be far fewer. MS. CLIFT: I'm feeling so much better already.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, what do you want, more dead, Eleanor? (Laughs.

)

MS. CLIFT: First of all, it's going to be thousands dead. It's going to be more dead than died in 9/11. And FEMA is trying to prevent --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you take --

MS. CLIFT: -- photographers, newspaper photographers, from taking pictures because they don't want us to see it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, let's hear that point again.

MS. CLIFT: They don't want pictures taken, just as they didn't want pictures taken of the dead bodies coming home from Iraq.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There is one report that --

MS. CLIFT: This is spin-control imagery.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- guns were raised when reporters tried to get in their independently-contracted boats, flat boats, to the scene where the cadavers were. Correct?

MS. CLIFT: This is image control.

MR. BLANKLEY: The guns were controlled by the governor's Guard, not by the president's Army.

MR. BUCHANAN: What is the news --

MR. BARBER: Their use of euphemism in this is unbelievable. They're telling reporters not to use the word "refugees." They want "evacuees," the worst kind of --

MR. BUCHANAN: What is the importance of showing a dead body floating in the water?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's covering the corpses' story and the dead body story. That's legitimate news, Patrick.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, we didn't show the corpses on Normandy. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about that?

MR. BARBER: We didn't live then.

MR. BUCHANAN: I mean, what kind of ghoulishness --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is a natural disaster. This is not a war. There's no war strategy at stake here. This is a natural disaster. People ought to know about it.

MR. BUCHANAN: You've got an accident with a bus and 30 kids are killed. You do not show pictures. What happened to decency?

MS. CLIFT: I've seen the beaches littered at Normandy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If you spent more time doing leg work and less in that (phone?) mansion of yours, in the field, doing the work, you would want to get a story when there's a real story.

MR. BUCHANAN: I'd get the story. But a picture of a corpse is not a story.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We're talking about the corpse story. Let's get that clear.

MS. CLIFT: Censorship is the story.

MR. BUCHANAN: I agree, the body count --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't see identification --

MR. BUCHANAN: The body count is a story.

MS. CLIFT: Censorship is a story.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Who is winning the blame game, the Democrats or the Republicans? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: As of last we met, John, the president was completely on the defensive. Nobody was on the offensive. But now they've shifted a lot to the governor and to the mayor, and the president's in a battle. And this is breaking down into a right-left conflict. And the Democrats have hurt themselves with the race charge.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who's winning, Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: The people are winning. People are angry at all politicians. They're angry at the president, because ultimately the buck stops there.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think, Tony? MR. BLANKLEY: The Democrats had a lay-down hand to win the blame game, and now it's closer to a draw.

MR. BARBER: Closer to a draw, and Bush will recover. But really, the Democrats have to be careful not to be too negative on this.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think Eleanor is right. I think the people are winning. And the reason why the people are winning is because the press is covering the story. The press is doing a first-rate job.

Issue Two: World Reaction.

"On September 11, America found a common cause for pride in the bravery of its people. This time there is no heroism and nothing left to see but the dark side of the empire, that of a country gnawed away by money and segregation, in which those shipwrecked in the system are left behind, abandoned to the elements." Le Liberation, Paris.

"Where was the president in his country's hour of need, and why has it taken him five days to go to New Orleans?" The Independent, London.

"Third World America." The Daily Mail, London.

"The tragic cost of Bush's Iraq obsession." The Financial Times, London.

"Incredibly unprofessional." Allgemeine Zeitung, Germany.

"For Bush, the poor do not exist." Le Figaro, France.

"Was Katrina color-blind?" Der Spiegel, Germany.

"Katrina, Ordeal for a Blind America." Le Temps, Switzerland.

Tony, what we're not hearing from is al Qaeda and what they think of this. And we'll get to that in a moment. But congratulations on the book, "The West's Last Chance: Will We Win the Clash of Civilizations?" This looks like a great read. And you can speak perhaps a little bit about al Qaeda. What do you think al Qaeda's reaction is to this?

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, I mean, one can only guess. But obviously we do not look more formidable this week than we did three weeks ago.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We look vulnerable.

MR. BLANKLEY: We look more vulnerable, as opposed to formidable. And I think it's a dangerous element.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think? MR. BARBER: I think that -- I'm glad that you include some of the more measured commentary from Europe. (Laughter.) Most of those people have no idea about the division between federal and state responsibilities. And by the way, John, I'm shocked that you included that reference to the Financial Times, which actually was an American commentator on our op-ed page. It's not our editorial position.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, we see the proper reaction is made by the authorities on this program.

Issue Three: The Roberts Court.

President Bush this week named John Roberts to succeed now- deceased Chief Justice William Rehnquist. This caused widespread public surprise. And that surprise is baffling, because the elevation of John Roberts from justice to chief justice had been foretold over six weeks ago. Watch closely. This goes by fast.

(Videotaped excerpt of July 29th McLaughlin Group.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Judge Roberts will become the head of the Supreme Court -- chief justice.

(End of videotape.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There you are. Do you hear that little titter after that brilliant prognostication? You're not surprised, are you, Lionel?

MR. BARBER: Never. I mean --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is America.

MR. BARBER: You are one of the most farsighted commentators. You don't need a crystal ball, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think I have a far-darting mind?

MR. BARBER: Absolutely.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question? Is Roberts ready for the post of chief justice of the United States? Patrick.

MR. BUCHANAN: As Bush said, "Johnny, you're doing a heck of a job." Is he ready? Look, he has the intelligence, the integrity, the brilliance. He is an outstanding choice. He's not the best choice.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why?

MR. BUCHANAN: The president of the United States should have picked -- first, he should not have picked someone before William Rehnquist was even in his grave. Secondly, the choice should have been Antonin Scalia, who's got almost 20 years on the court, who's a brilliant heavyweight and the right man for the job. You passed over General Patton.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about -- Eleanor, what about the fact that we don't have any written opinions of Roberts?

MS. CLIFT: Well, Judge Scalia is 69 and Judge Roberts is 50, and so this ensures conservative continuity for decades to come.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can he run the court?

MS. CLIFT: He doesn't appear to have any management experience. But he does have a pleasing personality and he could probably put together coalitions. He's more conservative than I would like, but I think he's a good choice. And the Democrats are having an awfully hard time coming up with any opposition.

MR. BLANKLEY: John, this isn't a question of management. I think John Roberts -- I love Scalia, but he's an abrasive, aggressive figure. Roberts, from everything we know, has got exactly the right kind of collegial disposition to work the members towards having coherence, because what you need out of a chief justice is someone who can consistently start building 5-4 and 6-3 votes and establishing a consistent record. The Rehnquist court, wonderful as he's been, went back and forth on all sorts of issues. And so I think Roberts could be an excellent chief justice at the managerial level, putting aside policy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Have you been able to inject yourself into this situation? Let me --

MR. BARBER: I'm trying.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Huh?

MR. BARBER: I'm trying, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, let me give you a line of thinking. You can use this at will. You don't have to credit me in your esteemed newspaper. The court is kind of a group dynamic, and it's congenial. But at the same time, there's a lot of politicking that goes on within the court, and there are a lot of hurt feelings that also go on from one thing or another, you know, because they're together so much. Any group is that way, except, of course, your staff under your enlightened leadership at the Financial Times.

So why do you want that baggage? So you go outside the court. Now, who's the best from outside the court? Well, we know this guy is going to sail through. We're pretty much sure of that. Besides that, he knows he can cut a deal with the Democrats. He will agree to put a moderate in, and he'll probably be able to do that. They'll go for that. And they will vote Roberts in with the idea that his successor -- the successor to the lady on the court will be a moderate.

MR. BARBER: Brilliant, incisive thinking, as always, John. I tend to think that the best metaphor for the court is that they're a bit like monks in cells, somewhat detached. And John Roberts, of course, has spent time in the inside of the system, of the Supreme Court. He's a brilliant lawyer. I agree with Tony. He's clearly collegial, well-liked. And he's going to be there for a generation. So I think he's a great pick for chief justice.

MS. CLIFT: Bush isn't going to tip his hand on who the O'Connor replacement is until he's got Roberts safely confirmed. So, you know, I would like to think it will be a moderate in the O'Connor mold, but I don't think he can afford to do that, because he's weakened so politically. He needs Pat and the right.

MR. BUCHANAN: If he picks a moderate, Bush is done.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: I do believe the death count will be far below 5,000.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor Clift.

MS. CLIFT: A fraction of the billions allocated for reconstruction will actually go to the human victims of Katrina.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony Blankley.

MR. BLANKLEY: Republicans in Congress may try to take some money out of the last transportation bill and send it to the Gulf states for recovery.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lionel.

MR. BARBER: Bush's recovery will be slow, but happen. And there will be more heads to roll.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: George Bush will appoint a justice to succeed Sandra Day O'Connor, but only after Roberts is confirmed. Like O'Connor, the new justice will be a moderate and a woman.

Bye bye.

END.