THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP
HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN PANEL: PATRICK BUCHANAN, MSNBC; ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK; TONY BLANKLEY, THE WASHINGTON TIMES; JONATHAN TURLEY, NBC LEGAL ANALYST
TAPED: FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 2005 BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF SEPTEMBER 17-18, 2005
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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Man-Made Insecurity.
PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape.) This government will learn the lessons of Hurricane Katrina. We're going to review every action and make necessary changes so that we are better prepared for any challenge of nature or act of evil men that could threaten our people.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: "Acts of evil men," said President Bush, addressing the nation from the French Quarter of New Orleans Thursday night, enlarging the focus beyond nature's terror to man-made terror.
Katrina left more than physical destruction in its wake. It also took a psychic toll. Katrina bespoke America's vulnerability, including vulnerability to terrorism. Three out of four Americans say the U.S. is not prepared for a weapons-of-mass-destruction terrorist attack.
PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape.) In a time of terror threats and weapons of mass destruction, the danger to our citizens reaches much wider than a fault line or a flood plain.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is the root cause of homeland vulnerability, homeland insecurity? Experts say the same problems that hampered rescuers after the Twin Towers attack repeated themselves with Katrina; namely, a breakdown in communications and lack of central coordination.
Republican chairman of the 9/11 commission Thomas Kean said, "Those are systems-wide failures that can be fixed and should have been fixed right way." Lee Hamilton, the co-chairman of the 9/11 commission, says the same thing. "I'm surprised, I'm disappointed, and maybe even a little depressed that we did not do better four years after 9/11. It says we're still very vulnerable."
Even Mr. Bush appears uncertain about whether we are better prepared now than before 9/11.
PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape.) Are we capable of dealing with a severe attack or another severe storm? And that's a very important question, and it's in our national interest that we find out exactly what went on so that we can better respond.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Has Katrina changed how the public perceives President Bush's leadership? Pat Buchanan.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, there's no doubt about it. The president has lost the aura of 9/11, the strong leader on that pile of rubble. The bumbling and the torpor of his initial response, I think, is part of his permanent legacy.
I will say this. I think the president since then, for the last two weeks, has shown leadership. He's been down there four times. It was not a great speech, but it was a good speech. I think it got the thing done. He's on top of this now. I think he's going to lead the reconstruction. And I think the president is really beginning -- coming back up the hill.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think, Eleanor? Has he got traction?
MS. CLIFT: Well, he's throwing money at the problem, what they used to accuse liberals of doing, in an effort to try to bolster his poll numbers. And I think this is not -- it's the image of incompetency that I think is going to dog him. And it's also going to spill over into how people view Iraq and how incompetently that has been handled as well. And I think the absence of Karl Rove from the scene -- he was apparently in the hospital with a bout of kidney stones at the height of Katrina -- partially explains how curiously passive the president was in responding to this disaster. And now we see the stagecraft of Karl Rove; that's back -- the setting in Louisiana and the president in shirt sleeves on the grassy knoll. I mean, that was kind of an arresting image -- arresting, if eerie.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's Rove but not Hughes. Hughes is back also.
MS. CLIFT: Probably a combination.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony, what do you think? Has he got traction?
MR. BLANKLEY: Not yet. Eleanor is partially right, actually. It is a crisis of confidence in his competence. And it's on the Republican side, that's the danger. He's slipped 12 points on the Republican side of support. And it's not just about Katrina. The Iraq war is not going as well as people would like. People don't like the way the way the economy is going. They don't like the gas prices. They all, fairly or unfairly, blame the president's competence.
Therefore, I think the most important thing he did in his speech this week was what he didn't say. He did not appoint a czar. That means implicitly he's going to be the czar. He's going to be personally responsible for making the government work in solving this problem. It's going to be a six-month or a nine-month test to see if he can get it done. If he can, then he's going to be able to recover. If it falls apart, then he's going to pay the price.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that both of the co-chairmen, the chairman and the co-chairman of the 9/11 commission, said that over the four years since it occurred, their changes have not been made?
MR. TURLEY: Oh, I think that's obvious. I mean, this is the longest learning curve in history. The president again says, "We have to learn from our mistakes." That's what we said after 9/11. And this is really costing us. I mean, we look like a village with only idiots, no elders.
And the question is why, after all this money, we can't handle a threat that gives us days of warning. If this was a terrorist attack -- it was an attack that gave us three days of warning as this thing hovered around Lake Pontchartrain. And I think everyone watching were thinking, "My God, if CNN can get there, NBC can get there, why can't we be in those streets?"
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you see any correspondence between those hours of warning, 48 or even beyond 48 hours, and what happened in August of 1991? He was warned about the attack and he stayed at Crawford; so, too, this time too. He stayed at Crawford. Do you think that that's particularly odious to the American people? MR. TURLEY: I think it is. The problem is that this was what we all gave all the money and what we re-elected the president for, his guarantee to keep us safe. And when it happened again, he was missing.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, his staff fell down on him. Look, the president doesn't watch television, but the staff should have been watching cable news. When you see all those reporters up there at the convention center screaming and yelling for 48 hours, he should have called the governor and the mayor and had the 82nd Airborne.
MS. CLIFT: Newsweek reported --
MR. BUCHANAN: One quick point. I think he's at the nadir of his presidency right now.
MS. CLIFT: Well, Newsweek reported this week, in a detailed account of what went on during those days, that aides are afraid to tell him he has to cut his vacation short, that he gets cold and snappish. And it wasn't until Dan Bartlett burned a CD of the news images out of New Orleans that the president really fully grasped what was going on. Fine that he doesn't have to watch television all the time, but occasionally he might want to tune in and see what the rest of the country is seeing.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Forty-five percent of the American people, the largest any single segment, want the spending that's going to be required for New Orleans to come out of Iraq. What do you think of that fact? And do you think that Katrina has blown away Iraq?
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, 47 percent voted for Kerry, so I'm not worried about the 45 percent.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, that was then. This is now.
MR. BLANKLEY: But I --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can you --
MR. BLANKLEY: I understand that Iraq is not popular right now. It would be very bad policy to cave on Iraq because of a momentary public disappointment.
I want to go back, though, to a very important point, because we always say, "Why did all the spending of the money in Homeland Security not work?" And there's a reason why, along with mismanagement and mistakes that were made. And it's one of the great strengths of America, which is a weakness in this time, is federalism. It's the intricate relationship between governors -- between the sovereignty of the state and the sovereignty of the president.
The president said something last night that I think is very revealing, because he said he wants the military to take the lead in the future. That's a debate that's been going on furiously in this town. The Pentagon doesn't want the lead. They don't want to be first responders.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but --
MR. BLANKLEY: And if that debate is resolved, it's going to make things more efficient, but it's a big deal.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but it's hard to believe they let people die because they're arguing over the niceties of federalism.
MR. BLANKLEY: I'm telling you the reality.
MS. CLIFT: And the faith in the military is because he has disregard for the rest of government. He only respects the military.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to get back to Iraq, Pat. Sixty-one percent of the people say the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast is far more important than Iraq. Do you think that Iraq is really taking the brunt, and an angry brunt, and the Iraq policy, of Katrina?
MR. TURLEY: Oh, I think eventually it will. I think when you look at those circles affecting what Katrina affected, you go all the way to Iraq.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And the dollar numbers.
MR. TURLEY: I think absolutely. You have members this week saying, "There's no fat." You have DeLay -- since when has Thomas DeLay ever said, "There's no fat here to cut into"? And I think you're seeing Republicans beginning to tell the White House, you know, "Something's got to give. We've got to close that pipeline to Iraq a little bit if you want to do all this in New Orleans."
MR. BLANKLEY: It's not going to happen.
MR. BUCHANAN: It's going to be a war in the Republican Party.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you mean?
MR. BUCHANAN: Over spending is one big issue. Over Iraq is going to be another. I think there's going to be a great battle coming in the GOP over national priorities. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Plus $200 billion -- he included $200 billion for this, correct?
MR. BUCHANAN: That's right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Did Bush recover his political standing with his New Orleans speech, yes or no? Pat Buchanan.
MR. BUCHANAN: George Bush is at low tide, but I think it's stopped and I think he's got a chance to turn it around.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Completely?
MR. BUCHANAN: I think he's got a chance to come back uphill. But he is at low tide.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: He has no credibility if he doesn't tell the country that he's going to withdraw his proposals to end the estate tax, which would drain the treasury further. He has no credibility on spending issues.
MR. BLANKLEY: Look, Reagan was at 37 percent approval during Iran-contra. He ended up at 65 percent. Bush can recover, but it's not certain that he will. He's going to have to perform well over the next year.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about gathering threats? Do you think the president is good with dealing with gathering threats? He doesn't watch television. He doesn't read editorials. He doesn't read newspapers. Is he living in a bubble?
MR. BLANKLEY: Every president lives in a bubble to some extent. I don't know whether his is worse than others'.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think, Jonathan?
MR. TURLEY: I think this president needs to do something significantly with how he views the news. The fact is that the president of the United States could have gotten helicopters down there, could have controlled not National Guard troops, regular troops, and said, "Let's position them. Let's get helicopters down there." And it was ignored. And this was his moment. This is the moment he told us to wait for, when we would test all the money, all the efforts done the last four years. And we ended up reproducing the disasters of 9/11.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So you don't think he has recovered his political standing.
MR. TURLEY: I think a lot of Americans will not forgive this administration. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That means he won't ever recover his political standing.
That means the Bush era is over.
MR. BUCHANAN: No, it doesn't mean the Bush era is over. It means he's -- look, a presidential era is never over. We've got 40 months of the most powerful office in the world, John. I don't think the presidency is over at all.
MS. CLIFT: He's never going to be more than a 45 percent president, if he gets that high.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, he can get an awful lot done.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He won't recover for the foreseeable future.
Issue Two: Roberts Rules.
JUDGE JOHN ROBERTS (CHIEF JUSTICE NOMINEE): (From videotape.) Judges and justices are servants of the law, not the other way around. Judges are like umpires. Umpires don't make the rules; they apply them. The role of an umpire and a judge is critical. They make sure everybody plays by the rules. But it is a limited role. Nobody ever went to a ball game to see the umpire.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The baseball metaphor was tossed out frequently during four days of confirmation hearings for Chief Justice of the United States nominee John Glover Roberts. Roberts used the metaphor to explain the modesty he sees as key to the status and function of a judge at any level. But the Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who were trying to pierce Roberts' bullet-proof character and his legal judgment and his matchless resume, saw the umpire metaphor as a dodge.
(Videotaped excerpts of statements by senators and Judge Roberts.)
SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D-MA): The hearings that are being conducted now are the opportunity for the American people to get to know Judge Roberts. No one is entitled to go to the Supreme Court. Individuals have to earn it.
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA): I guess what has begun to concern me a little bit is Judge Roberts, the legal automaton, as opposed to Judge Roberts, the man. SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D-DE): Without any knowledge of your understanding of the law, because you will not share it with us, we are rolling the dice with you, Judge.
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D-NY): So this isn't just rolling the dice. It's betting the whole house.
JUDGE ROBERTS: If these questions come before me, either on the court on which I now sit or, if I am confirmed, on the Supreme Court, I need to decide those questions with an open mind, on the basis of the arguments presented, on the basis of the record presented in the case, and on the basis of the rule of law, including the precedents of the court, and not on the basis of any commitments during the confirmation process.
(End of videotape.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: In this hearing, what was Roberts' political imperative? Eleanor Clift.
MS. CLIFT: This was "Mr. Chips Goes to Washington," and he was presenting himself as somebody who is non-threatening, Mr. Nice Guy, not only for the senators, but mostly for the broader public. And he wanted to avoid making any statement that would give a firm clue on either side as to whether he would overturn Roe v. Wade. And that's the big question.
You know, he said he's not an ideologue. He suggests he will go where the law leads him. But he is profoundly conservative. And he's a very appealing man who can put together conservative majorities on this court.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The political imperative was, of course, to get 51 votes. But there are 55 Republicans in the United States Senate, so the outcome was always certain. Was it not, Jonathan?
MR. TURLEY: Well, as long as they did not use the word "filibuster." You know, Specter said, "I find that nominees say as much as they need to say to get confirmed." And as soon as the Democrats pulled back the threat of a filibuster, then it was guaranteed that he's going to get through on a muscle vote in terms of the Republicans.
But it is amazing how smooth this guy was. I mean, it seems like he was put together by composite parts from Karl Rove -- (laughter) -- like he's behind glass, and "Break in time of confirmation," you know.
MR. BLANKLEY: You have to recognize his one great advantage was I think he had 25 IQ points on the next-smartest person in that room.
MR. BUCHANAN: Right. MR. BLANKLEY: And it showed.
MR. BUCHANAN: But here's the thing. You know, I think that's exactly right. But what the Democrats were looking for was some kind of assurance that he wouldn't overturn Roe v. Wade, and they did not get it. I think -- I agree with Tony. I think the Democrats hurt themselves. This guy is smooth and polished. But the problem is, there's more here to this man. We saw his memos. They're very witty and caustic and cutting 25 years ago.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.
MR. BUCHANAN: This guy hasn't changed.
MS. CLIFT: I don't see how the Democrats hurt themselves.
MR. BUCHANAN: Oh, they looked --
MS. CLIFT: The majority of the American people think we are entitled to know where he stands on Roe v. Wade.
MR. BUCHANAN: Look at what we just saw.
MS. CLIFT: I believe it was the chairman of the committee, a Republican, a pro-choice Republican, who tried to get him to say that Roe v. Wade set a "super-duper precedent."
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, let's look at that.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's look at that. Headliner issue, and the most contentious, was Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that established a woman's right to an abortion in the first trimester and left the abortion in the second and third trimester up to the states to decide.
Chairman Arlen Specter led off the questioning.
SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R-PA): Judge Roberts, in your confirmation hearing for Circuit Court, your testimony read to this effect: "Roe is the settled law of the land." Do you mean settled for you, settled only for your capacity as a Circuit judge, or settled beyond that?
JUDGE ROBERTS: Well, beyond that, it's settled as a precedent of the court, entitled to respect under principles of stare decisis. And those principles, applied in the Casey case, explain when cases should be revisited and when they should not. And it is settled as a precedent of the court, yes.
(End of videotape.) MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Does it really make any difference how many times Roberts says Roe v. Wade is settled law if it actually comes to deciding a future case challenging Roe v. Wade? I ask you, Jonathan.
MR. TURLEY: Absolutely not. What he was saying over and over again were legal truisms. It's like listening to Chauncey Gardner repeating back what people say to him. And they would say, "Is Roe v. Wade a settled precedent?" He'd say, "Roe v. Wade's a settled precedent.
" But even stare decisis does not prevent you from overturning a case.
MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly. He said under stare decisis. He didn't say this was wisely decided. He just said the fact that you've got to respect the precedent.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, but did you see --
MR. BUCHANAN: You could do that for Brown v. the Board of Education and Dred Scott.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you see the way stare decisis was reinforced by the chairman? Thirty-eight times it's been reinforced by the court. Doesn't that count for anything as far as precedent is concerned?
MR. TURLEY: Well, it might not. I mean, the fact is these same Democrats would not have wanted precedent to control when Hartwick v. Bowers was overturned just recently --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What was that?
MR. TURLEY: -- on gay rights, when they said you couldn't have anti-sodomy statutes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Has the Supreme Court reversed itself when there has been pre-existing stare decisis in our courts?
MR. TURLEY: Stare decisis only requires you to do it with caution and try not to do it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: These are major decisions that it has overturned?
MR. TURLEY: That's right.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, Plessy v. Ferguson --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What were they? I want to hear from Jonathan.
MR. TURLEY: For example, in Lawrence v. Texas, they overturned -- MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's that?
MR. TURLEY: That's the case where they said that state anti- sodomy laws can be -- are unconstitutional.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Something more pervasive than that.
MR. BUCHANAN: Plessy v. Ferguson.
MR. TURLEY: You go back to Plessy v. Ferguson with Brown v. Board of Education --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's that?
MR. TURLEY: -- where the court said that you cannot have separate but equal.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. That was reversed too.
MR. TURLEY: That's right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Now, does that mean that stare decisis is for the birds? It's overrated? Is it overrated?
MR. TURLEY: Well, you know, these justices are recidivists in violating stare decisis. They only cite stare decisis when they're in dissent. But they don't hesitate in most cases, constitutional cases, to overturn. On statutes, it's a different question. On statutes, there is a noticeable stare decisis element.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think we all agree that stare decisis is terribly overrated. (Laughter.) But has it become a shibboleth? What is it, just a maxim?
MR. BUCHANAN: Look at Kennedy and O'Connor. I don't know that they would have voted for Roe v. Wade, but they will not vote to overturn it. It has tremendous power.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. Also it is pig Latin the way it's pronounced -- stare decisis. They should put the 'e' on "stare" -- "sto, stare, steti, status" -- this is Latin -- "decisis."
MR. BUCHANAN: You looked that up, didn't you, John? (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why do these lawyers do that?
Okay. Biden's badgering. There was little of the unexpected in this week's hearings, but they were not without color. And Senator Joseph Biden was in full plumage.
(Begin videotape.) SEN. BIDEN: What was your position on Reagan's civil rights chairman, Clarence Pendleton, suggesting that "We appeal the decision of the Circuit Court narrowly applying it only to the admissions office"?
JUDGE ROBERTS: Senator, I was a staff lawyer. I didn't have a position. The administration had a position. And the administration's position was the two-fold position you set forth: First, Title IX applies. Second, it applies to the office, the admissions office.
SEN. BIDEN: Only to the office, right? It applies narrowly.
JUDGE ROBERTS: The question --
SEN. SPECTER: Now, wait a minute. Let him finish his answer, Senator Biden.
SEN. BIDEN: The answers are misleading, with all due respect.
SEN. SPECTER: Well, they --
SEN. BIDEN: Let me --
SEN. SPECTER: Wait a minute. They may be misleading, but they're his answers.
SEN. BIDEN: Okay, fine.
SEN. SPECTER: You may finish, Judge Roberts.
SEN. BIDEN: Fire away, Judge. At least I'm misunderstanding your answers.
JUDGE ROBERTS: With respect, they are my answers. And with respect, they're not misleading. They're accurate.
(End of videotape.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: In this hearing, did Joe Biden meet his political imperative? And what was it? Tony.
MR. BLANKLEY: I think if he had a political imperative, it was to try to send signals to the key activist groups that he was still in there fighting. But I didn't think his heart was in it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about 2008 primaries?
MR. BLANKLEY: I don't think he's got a chance.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know where the primary voters are going to be in his effort to seek the nomination for president. MR. BLANKLEY: Biden's an entertaining guy. He's not going to get elected president. And I don't think he even thinks so.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think he's setting up those primaries, Pat?
MR. BUCHANAN: I think he would like to run again.
I think he feels he was very badly treated the last time he went out, when he slipped and fell. And I think he'd like to get back into it. I think he feels it might be open.
MS. CLIFT: Right. The safe vote for anybody with presidential ambitions on the Democratic side is to vote against Judge Roberts.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We've got to get out. Exit question --
MR. BUCHANAN: (Inaudible) -- to vote for him. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Assign Judge Roberts letter grades, A to F, one for style and one for substance. Pat Buchanan.
MR. BUCHANAN: He gets A in both of them. He's going to roll through.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A or A+?
MR. BUCHANAN: A.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was it a flawless performance?
MR. BUCHANAN: It was flawless, but it wasn't what I would like to see, which would have been A+, which would have probably cost him his seat.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What are the three qualities he brought? What's the basis for your A?
MR. BUCHANAN: Intelligence. He's non-radical.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did he have equanimity?
MR. BUCHANAN: He's non-radical. He didn't make a mistake. And there's no reason --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does he have the temperament?
MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah, he's got the temperament. There's no reason to deny him the seat. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does he have the intellect?
MR. BUCHANAN: He's got it all, John.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: He's got it all, but he sure didn't share a lot of it with the American public. He's Mr. Mystery.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.
MR. BLANKLEY: He gets an A, because he looked moderate even though he's a conservative.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A on both?
MR. BLANKLEY: A, A.
MR. TURLEY: He gets an A on style, but there was no substance. I mean, this was the biggest nothing-burger in history. How you could give an A on substance -- I have no idea where the substance was found.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, I disagree. I think there was some substance there. But I think he gets an A+ on style, and I'll give him an A on substance.
Issue Three: Comic Relief.
The 40-plus hours of Roberts' interrogation were not without moments of levity. Democratic Senator Charles Schumer lampooned Roberts' steadfast regard for the Ginsburg principle of judicial hearings -- no hints, no forecasts, no previews.
SEN. SCHUMER: It's as if I asked you what kind of movies you like. "Tell me two or three good movies." And you say, "I like movies with good acting. I like movies with good directing. I like movies with good cinematography." And I ask you, "No, give me an example of a good movie." You don't name one. I say, "Give me an example of a bad movie." You won't name one. Then I ask you if you like "Casablanca." And you respond by saying, "Lots of people like 'Casablanca.'" You tell me, "It's widely settled that 'Casablanca' is one of the great movies."
I am saying, sir -- I am making a plea here that within the confines of what you think is appropriate and proper, you try to be a little more forthcoming with us in terms of trying to figure out what kind of justice you will become.
JUDGE ROBERTS: I'll be very succinct. SEN. SPECTER: You are privileged to comment.
JUDGE ROBERTS: First, "Dr. Zhivago" and "North by Northwest."
(End of videotape.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: What does it tell us about Roberts that two of his favorite movies, "Dr. Zhivago" and "North by Northwest," are decades old? Eleanor. One done in the '40s and one done before that.
MS. CLIFT: I'm tempted to call him "The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit" to just carry the analogies further. He's an establishment guy. He's a traditionalist. And he has done everything right at every step along his career to work his way up the greasy pole to get to the Supreme Court. It's a very calculated life, and it looks like it's going to pay off.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think he's like you, rooted in the past, Pat? (Laughter.)
MR. BUCHANAN: Yes, he is. He's rooted in the '50s, just like me, John. A, it tells you he's non-controversial. B, it tells you the guy is witty. C, it tells you he knows he's pulling these guys' chain and he's coming on through and there's nothing they can do about it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it also --
MR. BUCHANAN: It was a very, very funny response.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does it also bring to mind Bob Dole and Bob Dole's view of Hollywood --
MR. TURLEY: Well, actually --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and the culture wars?
MR. TURLEY: I was convinced he'd say it'd be "The Importance of Being Earnest" -- (laughter) -- because that really summed up the man's performance.
MR. BLANKLEY: You don't want to get into Oscar Wilde. That gets dangerous. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's another (boat?).
MR. BLANKLEY: By the way, it was the '50s and the '60s. "North by Northwest" was the '50s and "Zhivago" was the '60s. So they're the movies of his college years, basically, and that's what most people remember as their favorite times.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who was the director of "North by Northwest," smarty-pants? MR. BLANKLEY: Alfred Hitchcock.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What?
MR. BLANKLEY: Alfred Hitchcock.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who directed "Dr. Zhivago"?
MR. BLANKLEY: David Lean, maybe? I'm not sure.
MS. CLIFT: If he's 50 years old --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Omar Sharif was the star.
MS. CLIFT: -- he couldn't have seen those movies when he was in college. He was still in the playpen.
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, "Zhivago" --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It was about the Russian Revolution, Pat.
MR. BLANKLEY: It was very good. It was Omar Sharif.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I know it was the Russian Revolution, John. It was Pasternak, was it not?
MR. BLANKLEY: Yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does it show that --
MR. BUCHANAN: And it won the --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- these gentlemen have a sense of humor?
MR. BUCHANAN: That's what it shows. He's very witty. He knows what he's doing. And even the movies were non-controversial. (Laughs.) Everybody can say, "I love 'Dr. Zhivago.'"
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that a requisite of the American Bar Association, by the way, which approves of Roberts lock, stock and barrel, right? They give him a high rating. But is it also a requirement that a nominee have a sense of humor?
MR. TURLEY: You know what? Nothing works better in a hearing, and many of us know that, than a sense of humor. It's the one thing that can stop a rushing truck. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Pat.
MR. BUCHANAN: Roberts gets 62 votes for confirmation.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: I think every Democrat on the Judiciary Committee is going to vote against Roberts, but he's going to get at least half the Dems on the Senate floor.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really? Tony.
MR. BLANKLEY: The Pentagon will furiously resist the Pentagon's call for them to have leadership in first responders.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Jonathan.
MR. TURLEY: Katrina is finally going to give Republicans a reason to ask for the Iraq budget to come down.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will Gerhard Schroeder close the gap with Angela Merkel in this Sunday's elections for chancellor of Germany? Yes, he will close it, but not enough. Merkel wins.