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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP

HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN

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

TAPED: FRIDAY, OCTOBER 14, 2005
BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF OCTOBER 15-16, 2005

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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Harrying Harriet.

ROBERT BORK (former Supreme Court nominee): (From videotape.) It's a slap in the face to the conservatives who've been building a legal movement. There are plenty of very well-qualified conservative judges out there and conservative scholars out there who could have been chosen. And this is a demoralizing slap at them.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Indeed, there are plenty of conservatives, and they're piling on Harriet Miers, President Bush's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court. Here's what they're saying.

"Not so distinguished." "A Harry Reid-endorsed Cheer Bear."

"A clear-cut lightweight."

"Talents not commensurate with the Supreme Court."

"She's obscure."

"A taut, nervous, anxious personality."

"A secret agent more than a scholar."

"A judicial cipher."

"The worst Supreme Court pick."

"An unqualified political hack with no experience."

"A joke."

The list of Miers' conservative naysayers goes on: Limbaugh, Brownback, Kristol, Coulter, Weyrich, Bauer, Keyes.

What underlies this animus? Is there a common denominator? Is it judicial inexperience? If so, what about the 41 Supreme Court justices who were confirmed and served with no prior judicial experience, including five greats: Earl Warren, Felix Frankfurter, Louis Brandeis, William Rehnquist, and even the very first chief justice himself, John Marshall, appointed by George Washington?

So what's the beef with the conservative Harriet-phobes?

DAN COATS (former senator, R-IN, and Supreme Court nominee adviser): (From videotape.) They had a framework in mind or a type of person in mind, and Harriet Miers didn't come out of that judicial pipeline. But so have many great justices, including some of our great chief justices, did not have that same judicial pipeline experience.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: The John Roberts Supreme Court nomination deprived the archconservatives of bloodshed, so their bloodthirst remained unsated. The archconservatives, like Buchanan, are spoiling for a knock-down, drag-out fight with the Senate Democrats. Like Dracula at midnight, they need their feed and are peevish that Bush has contrived another bloodless confirmation.

Are those statements largely true, Buchanan, or largely false?

MR. BUCHANAN: John, there's an element of truth in this. The conservatives were looking for a great constitutional conservative to recapture the court for what we believe is the right direction. We were all prepared to fight behind the president, and we knew that the Democratic Party was going to fight united against this. So everyone was prepared to go.

And we were given someone who frankly was uniquely unqualified, who was picked for one -- or several reasons. One, she was not a man. Secondly, she had never taken a stand on issues. Third, she was outside the judicial monastery, so to speak. And so she was manifestly unqualified. And it completely demoralized his forces. And frankly, by refusing to fight the Democrats, the president of the United States picked a fight with his political base.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There are no Democrats opposed to her that are visible. Harry Reid says he likes her.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, there are --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So who are the conservatives, your archconservatives, fighting with?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, here's the thing. We're fighting with the president of the United States because of his dreadful choice. Let me say about her, no one really disparages Ms. Miers herself. We're simply saying she is among the 99.9 percent in this country who are not qualified for the U.S. Supreme Court.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you sure you're not fighting Bush because of Iraq, because of deficits, because of immigration and amnesty?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, listen, I oppose the president on immigration, but there's a lot of conservatives who support him on the war, who support him on other things. This could have united his base solidly behind him for a great battle, which he was certain almost to win.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Buchanan talks about the conservatives as though the entire conservative population of the country feels like he does and the other elitist punditocracy that we mentioned here.

MS. CLIFT: Well, first of all --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But those are the elites. Those are the blue- state, if you will, conservatives, are they not?

MS. CLIFT: First of all, I want to say Pat Buchanan is not Dracula. He's not out for his blood feed.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You'd be surprised.

MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.) But this is a civil war within the Republican Party and within the Republican Party's conservative base. It's the religious conservatives versus the movement conservatives like Tony or the pointy-headed neocon conservatives. And they're having at it.

And their sense of betrayal, however, that most of the right feels at this point is reaching the scale where Republicans felt with Bush I over the "no new taxes" pledge. It is threatening to blow the party apart. And if one Republican in the Senate stands up and says they're not voting for Harriet Miers, the dominoes will fall. And, John, the Democrats have nothing to do with this but to sit back, get their popcorn, watch C-SPAN and enjoy the show. This is not their decision.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about Eleanor's basic distinction? There's a lumpenproletariat fundamentalist conservative.

MR. BLANKLEY: Sounds a little Marxist to me.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Then there is the punditocracy conservative, the Buchananites. You follow me?

MR. BLANKLEY: Yes, I understand.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, is that the division that's taking place?

MR. BLANKLEY: No --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Because the lumpenproletariat are behind her, are they not, that part of the conservative movement?

MR. BLANKLEY: No, they're already expressing themselves in the sinking overall national poll numbers for the president. This is his base that he's losing, that he's slipping into the 30s percent.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, what is it, 38 percent?

MR. BLANKLEY: This is not a civil war. This is a rebellion. And there's a big difference, because there's tremendous unity amongst conservatives across the spectrum and increasingly in-depth to, as you noxiously call them, the lumpenproletariat. I would consider them the common people of the country, the foundation of our greatness. But if you want to call them lumpenproletariats, you can. But the fact is, the people -- I've been doing talk radio shows for two weeks now, and amongst the folks I talk with, the call-ins and the hosts, they're very, very disappointed with this.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that James Dobson set the record straight? Do you think he, with his millions of followers who support this candidacy, now has it back on track? He's part of that red-state lumpenproletariat, as I describe them, conservatives; as opposed to Buchanan, the elitist snobs who are affecting a degree of intellectual sophistication, have scorned this candidate.

MR. BUCHANAN: Point of personal privilege. The Buchanan voters, the ones I did best with, made $15,000 to $30,000 a year, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I accept that, Pat, and I can live with that. (Laughs.) What would you say to this -- you see where we're going here. It isn't the whole conservative community by any means. It's probably a relatively small percentage of it.

MS. DANIEL: Well, I think there are a lot of the conservative community, like Pat, who are sort of up in arms. But I think what's interesting is everyone's focusing on God and no one's focusing on mammon with this appointment. The business community is actually quite supportive of Harriet Miers. She's represented the business community in Dallas. She understands business issues. She's dealt with Microsoft and Disney. So I think --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Microsoft and Disney.

MS. DANIEL: She's represented them in previous cases. So she's -- in fact, a lot of the Supreme Court decisions are to do with business, at least 25 percent of them to do with business cases, not -- (inaudible) -- constitutional issues. So actually, she may be unqualified on those questions, but not necessarily on some of the business cases, which --

MS. CLIFT: Well, I think she's unqualified on constitutional law. The other inexperienced judges you cited, like Earl Warren, had been elected governor of California. There's evidence in their backgrounds that they have pondered constitutional issues, and there's nothing in Harriet Miers' background to suggest that she understands or is familiar with constitution law.

MR. BLANKLEY: Let me make --

MS. CLIFT: She will be tested in the hearings, and they will --

MR. BLANKLEY: Let me make one point about --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let her finish.

MS. CLIFT: She will be tested in the hearings, if this nomination gets that far. MR. BLANKLEY: Let me make one point --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Go ahead, Tony. Go ahead.

MR. BLANKLEY: -- about business support. You know, to the extent that her qualification is she's a devout Christian, I would remind our business friends that the Sermon on the Mount is not necessarily a prescription for corporate judicial policy. And they should be guarded, because she does not have a foundation in constitutional analysis, and her faith may take her to places that corporate America might not like.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is this constitutional analysis that's so recondite and esoteric and obscure that requires this special set of skills? Do you think Byron White had that?

MR. BLANKLEY: It's 200 years --

MR. BUCHANAN: Byron White was first in his law school at Yale.

MR. BLANKLEY: It's 200 years of constitutional interpretation.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What were her grades at Southern Methodist University?

MR. BUCHANAN: Have you read the citations from her as head of the bar association down there in David Brooks's column, John? It would be polite to call them banal. I mean, this is pedestrian prose of the worst kind.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You haven't even seen the woman in action.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, no, we haven't seen --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Apparently 55,000 members of the court --

MR. BUCHANAN: Oh, for heaven's sakes. That --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- could choose her as their president.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, you mentioned people who have not served on the court. William Howard Taft was president of the United States. He wasn't running Meals on Wheels or on the Dallas city council.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why haven't you rallied around an alternative nominee? Why no name has --

MR. BUCHANAN: The president has got a choice. There must be a dozen outstanding choices -- many of them were women -- that we were waiting for. And, you know, one was an African-American woman. He could have made any one of these choices. MS. CLIFT: The likelihood --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: She has become a whipping post for your conservative dissatisfaction with George Bush. That's what she's become.

MS. CLIFT: No, no, no. Pat's not alone in this one. I mean, you cannot say that this appointment is --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Where are your Democrats who are speaking out against her?

MS. CLIFT: They're not speaking out. Why should they speak out? They're watching a brawl going on on the right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Harry Reid supports her.

MS. CLIFT: Harry Reid came out and said nice things, and he didn't say he was going to vote for her, and maybe he will. But again, this is not the Democrats' fight. This is a fight on the right. And they are correctly disappointed that the president has given them someone who is so abjectly unqualified for the post.

Now, the fact that she rose to the head -- to be managing partner in a law firm and that she was the head of the Texas Bar, that's all very commendable, and she's got plenty between the ears. But she doesn't understand constitutional law. And there's been a revolution in constitutional law in abortion law, civil rights, antitrust, everything. She's doing a crash course right now, I guarantee you.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Karl Rove has successfully split the conservative community, the punditocracy on one side and the wide mass of conservatives --

MR. BUCHANAN: This is not --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Just let me finish, okay? And the reason for that is he knows where the numbers are. The numbers are not with you and your ilk. They're on the other side.

MR. BUCHANAN: But, John, Karl Rove is an extremely bright man. He was not behind an appointment which, 24 hours after it was made, had a revolution inside the president's coalition and him in the Rose Garden trying to put it out. Politically speaking --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's the way he's put it out. MR. BUCHANAN: Politically speaking, Eleanor is right. This is of the magnitude of breaking the "no new taxes" pledge.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He has found a way to conserve conservative power, and he's done that with the red-state fundamentalist Christians --

MS. CLIFT: No, they're very --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- who don't believe in you and your set at all. Every one of those names I read is a would-be pundit. What do you have to say on this before we move on?

MR. BLANKLEY: I don't think there's any evidence that this is not reaching across the breadth of conservatism around the country. Certainly all of my experience is that his numbers are falling down. You can't change national numbers on a handful of Washington pundits.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We're going to get to the polling later. Okay, the scent of sexism.

(Begin videotape of NBC "Today" interview with First Lady Laura Bush.)

MATT LAUER: Some are suggesting there's a little possible sexism in the criticism of Judge Miers.

MRS. BUSH: That's possible.

MR. LAUER: How would you feel about that?

MRS. BUSH: I think that's possible. I think she is so accomplished. And I think people are not looking at her accomplishments.

(End of videotape.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's more than possible, says the longest- serving woman in the United States Senate, a liberal Democrat talking about staunch Republican Harriet Miers.

SEN. BARBARA MIKULSKI (D-MD): (From videotape.) All of a sudden they're saying that a woman who was able to become head of the Texas Bar Association isn't qualified. They're saying a woman who was one of the first to head up a major law firm with over 400 lawyers doesn't have intellectual heft. I find it incredibly sexist.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Critics of Ms. Miers deny the sexism rap. Even if she were Mr. Miers, they say, he would be unqualified.

Question: Is Laura Bush calling prominent conservatives like Bork and Will and Pat Buchanan sexist? MS. DANIEL: She didn't mention them by name, but I think she's getting -- (inaudible) -- to people like Pat, I have to say. And some of the commentary around her is pretty damning. It basically says she's sending gushing letters to her master. They would never have said that if she was a man. They're accusing her of having absolutely no intellectual credentials, and she does have some background for this job. I can't believe that people would have attacked her in this way if she had been a man.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, you bring up an interesting point.

MS. CLIFT: Clarence Thomas -- Clarence Thomas --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Harriet --

MS. CLIFT: Can I just insert his name here?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes, please.

MS. CLIFT: He did not have adequate credentials and he got bashed. There is equal-opportunity bashing here when someone doesn't have the resume.

MR. BUCHANAN: There is sexism here, John. The president of the United States and the first lady deliberately discriminated against 85 percent of all federal judges because of their gender; they were male. Every one of them was eliminated for consideration for reasons of sex, while conservatives were putting forward names like Edith Jones and Janice Rogers Brown and other women for this job if the president wanted them. I don't know a single conservative who said, "You must not pick a woman." President Bush said, "I will not pick a man." Who's the sexist?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, he was replacing whom? Sandra Day O'Connor.

MR. BUCHANAN: Is that a set-aside seat for women?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why not? Why not?

MR. BUCHANAN: Affirmative action is what you're talking about. We don't believe in that.

MR. BLANKLEY: Not on the Supreme Court.

MR. BUCHANAN: We believe in excellence.

MR. BLANKLEY: But, look, let me --

MS. CLIFT: The difference between affirmative action and sexism -- MR. BLANKLEY: Let me make a point.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We know where the sexism is on this show. Quickly, quickly.

MR. BLANKLEY: Let me make a point here. The charge of sexism is not only demonstrably absurd, based on the fact that conservatives have been calling for any number of women to be there, but it is offensive. And to have -- that's the typical liberal charge thrown at conservatives that we're sexists and elitists.

It's not true. And to have it coming out of the mouths of the president's spokespeople is offensive and undercutting further his support among --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If I have to rely on the American Bar Association, I'm confident that they would say that she's fully qualified. Secondly, the reasons that Bush has stated for his selection of Harriet are far more convincing to me than this utterance of you just now. But you brought something up. Okay, Harriet to George.

(Audio clip of "Stand By Your Man.")

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: "You are the best governor ever, deserving of great respect."

"Keep up the great work. Texas is blessed."

"Hopefully Jenna and Barbara recognize that their parents are cool -- as do the rest of us."

"All I hear is how great you and Laura are doing."

"I was struck by the tremendous impact you have on the children whose lives you touch. Texas has a very popular governor and first lady."

"Keep up all the great work. The state is in great hands."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Those quotes came from the New York Times under the header "Documents show Supreme Court nominee's close ties to Bush." Do those quotes, in fact, reveal a close tie between Bush and Harriet? I ask you, Caroline.

MS. DANIEL: Well, I'm sure if you look at some of Pat's kind of love letters to politicians he's worked with, you could find something equally embarrassing.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean, some sycophancy? MS. DANIEL: Absolutely. So I think this is just female sycophancy. That's the difference.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Believe me, if this were Buchanan --

MS. DANIEL: It has a cuddly toy on the top of it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- he would be having billboards drawn to salute whoever it was he's trying to get --

MR. BUCHANAN: John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He would have those airplanes carrying their banners or writing the name of the person --

MR. BUCHANAN: Let me --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You wouldn't be satisfied with e-mail.

MR. BUCHANAN: Let me answer that. This is unfair to this woman. Look, she's --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's unfair?

MR. BUCHANAN: Look, she's --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why is that unfair?

MR. BUCHANAN: Look, that's her boss. She likes the man. She's devoted to him. There's nothing wrong with this. I think this is personally intrusive and offensive.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't see it as sycophancy at all.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, look, that is a personal thing. It's like Rose Woods --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think it's conviction.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think it's like Rose Woods telling the old man, Nixon, "You did a great job, sir."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: She's deeply loyal to Bush, correct?

MR. BUCHANAN: Sure. Yeah, and you --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And Bush likes loyalty, doesn't he?

MR. BUCHANAN: But this is intrusive. This is unfair.

MS. CLIFT: But that's the problem. Read the Federalist Papers and Alexander Hamilton and the need for independence in the judiciary. I mean, this is like putting his own personal lawyer on the Supreme Court. And you should have included his remarks back, thanking her for her candor and telling her to never hold back her sage advice.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's wrong with that?

MS. CLIFT: What's wrong with that? It's what's wrong with this presidency. He only listens to a small group of people --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Maybe she has sage advice.

MS. CLIFT: -- and nobody dares tell him anything that's wrong.

MR. BLANKLEY: Look --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question; we've got to get out. Will Bush jettison Harriet?

MR. BUCHANAN: No, he will not.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: No.

MR. BLANKLEY: No.

MS. DANIEL: No, but she might jettison herself.

MR. BUCHANAN: Mmm-hmm. (Affirmative response.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, that's what I mean. Will he let her go? Is that equivalently yes, he will jettison her?

MR. BUCHANAN: No, no. If she --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will she jettison herself or will he jettison, either?

MS. DANIEL: He won't ask her to go.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will she go? I don't know.

MR. BUCHANAN: She might.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: She might. I want an answer.

MS. CLIFT: Well --

MS. DANIEL: I think she's got to be thinking about it. But having gone this far, she must have known that this would happen.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is no. You know why? Because the president is not going to capitulate to the elitist punditocracy of the conservative movement. MR. BUCHANAN: Like Limbaugh? (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You understand? He's the true conservative, and his type is the true conservative, and they have the numbers. And he knows that, because he, Bush, has political cunning.

Issue Two: Is this a Potemkin presidency? Stagecraft was used in the presentation this week of President Bush as he spoke about various aspects of the war. And he conducted a quasi-apparent interview with soldiers. There was a lot of rehearsal on both sides, and the questions, to some extent, I guess, were all canned. Were they, Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: Well, they were all prepared. And we got another peak behind the curtain, and we see how this president is orchestrated when he goes before the public. And I don't think it boosts confidence in him as a leader.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that the loss of credibility he can make up for in this, because while it's true that stagecraft is used -- and you know this, because you wrote speeches for Nixon, and you know how the advanced squad would go out and select the audience and trigger certain questions.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, we did that in campaigns many times. But this is a very big issue. It's very important. It's a small problem.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But what about the military being involved? Does that give this an extra turn?

MR. BLANKLEY: Look, White Houses routinely orchestrate public events. But we know that the military voted overwhelmingly for Bush. Everything I sense at my paper, the Washington Times, we get stuff from the troops in the field that's very positive about their commander-in-chief. I don't think this misrepresents the general attitude of the average troop in Iraq. I think it's much ado about nothing.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We'll do more on this next week.

Issue Three: Vox Populi. "In general, do you approve or disapprove of the job that George Bush is doing as president?" Disapprove, 54 percent; approve, 39 percent. What do these numerals tell you? I ask you, Eleanor Clift.

MS. CLIFT: Well, that he was crazy to shred his last remaining safety net in appointing Harriet Miers, because he's going to sink into the 30s in approval -- is sinking into the 30s in approval because he's lost the support of Republicans.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that the Miers thing is really carrying any impact with the masses who were involved in this selection?

MR. BLANKLEY: Yes.

MS. CLIFT: Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Don't you think they're concerned about the gas prices?

MS. DANIEL: It's about the economy, exactly.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Huh?

MS. DANIEL: A lot of this is about the economy. I don't think Harriet Miers comes into it at this stage.

MR. BLANKLEY: He has dropped --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you hear what she said? Don't you agree with that?

MR. BLANKLEY: No, she's completely wrong.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor places it on the -- you place it on the --

MR. BLANKLEY: Let me make a point. He has dropped from 45 to 38 or 39 percent in the last week and a half. The gas prices haven't gone up in that last week and a half. The only thing that's happened is the Harriet Miers nomination.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I paid $2.97 in Florida for a gallon of gasoline. Now, granted, it was high-octane, but that's a lot of money.

MR. BUCHANAN: I paid $3.50 in Georgetown, Delaware.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There you go. You mean to say that doesn't mean something? Plus the fact you have Iraq.

MS. DANIEL: And it's going up.

MS. CLIFT: Well, the president was losing ground before Harriet Miers. She hasn't stopped the downward slide; let's put it that way.

MR. BLANKLEY: No, she's increased it, obviously increased it. You've got to be rational about this. MR. BUCHANAN: He's getting no support, John. The president's getting no support. It's all -- he's being hammered.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, here's some more stats on George Bush. Those over age 65 -- disapprove, 59 percent; approve, 32 percent. Bush with Hispanics -- disapprove, 59 percent; approve, 36 percent. Bush with African-Americans -- disapprove, 84 percent; approve, 2 percent. Now, what do you think of those numbers? I ask you, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think Mehlman's outreach program is not working. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who is he?

MR. BUCHANAN: He's Republican National Committee outreach program, who's been dumping on Nixon and Goldwater for their southern strategy to get the black vote. And if they're down to 2 percent, he's got a problem.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If this were a parliamentary system -- I ask you, Caroline -- would Bush survive? Would the Bush government survive?

MS. DANIEL: No, he'd have to go into a German-style grand coalition to survive.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He would?

MS. DANIEL: Yeah.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that you've got enough data here to say whether or not, on the basis of this data, that Republicans will lose the House of Representatives next year?

MS. DANIEL: No, I don't think -- I think it's too far away still. I think if next year Iraq is off the agenda and the economy has picked up, I don't think that that's --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, now listen to this and see if you want to modify that opinion of yours. "What is your preference for the outcome of the 2006 congressional elections?" Get a load of this: Democrat-controlled Congress, "my preference" -- I mean, they're saying that -- 48 percent; Republican-controlled Congress, 39 percent. That's a 9 percent margin favoring Democrats over Republicans. Does that tip the balance in the Congress in 2006? I ask you.

MR. BLANKLEY: No, not particularly. I've been looking at those numbers for the years I worked with Newt up on the Hill; very often seven- and eight-point gaps. The truth is, in that question, because of certain abnormalities in the data --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, well -- MR. BLANKLEY: -- if Republicans are within five points, they're usually doing well.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's see if --

MR. BLANKLEY: This is completely inconsequential at this point.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's see if you can find the abnormality in this one -- right track, wrong track. "Do you think the nation is generally headed in the right track, or do you think that the nation is going on the wrong track?" Wrong track, 59 percent; right track, 28 percent.

MS. CLIFT: That's the highest wrong-track numbers in 10 years, since the government shutdown under your former boss, Newt Gingrich. I think we are in the zone of a transition in governmental power.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.

MS. CLIFT: And if Karl Rove and/or Lewis Libby are indicted, I think we're back in 1974 in terms of a government --

MR. BUCHANAN: I think we are --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The public cannot take out its wrath because we don't have a parliamentary system. They'll take it out on their representatives of Bush --

MR. BUCHANAN: I think Eleanor is right. We are in the zone. But I think Caroline's right. There are two mega-issues, the war and the economy. If they're going badly, the Republicans, I think, could lose it. But if they're going fairly well, I think the Republicans will hold.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: The Republicans will not only win Virginia, John. They're going to win New Jersey on November 8th.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Miers goes down. President Bush will be so miffed that he'll send Gonzales as the next nominee.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: At least one Republican senator will announce his opposition before the hearings.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Caroline.

MS. DANIEL: Bush is forced to use his veto for the first time to defend his interrogation policy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The next governor of New York will be Eliot Spitzer. Bye bye.

END.