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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 21, 2005

BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF OCTOBER 22-23, 2005

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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Saddam Stands Trial.

"I'm the president of Iraq, and I don't acknowledge the court or the aggression that brought it. I demand to know who you are. I do not recognize this so-called court. What is founded on injustice is itself injustice. I seek to expose a fraud. I am not guilty. I'm innocent -- innocent."

Beside Saddam, seven co-defendants are also on trial. Early in the proceedings, these co-defendants declared, with Saddam's approval, that a proper tribunal requires that they wear conventional head dress. The judge accepted the correction and concurred, so the head gear was put on. Iraqis reacted to the televised trial with vengeful joy, anger, and a demand that the tribunal include a verdict on George Bush and that it come first. "I want Saddam killed, and I wish they would bring me his blood to drink." "Kill him slowly. Execute him, because he executed innocent people." "They must judge Bush first. Saddam should be judged after occupying Americans leave."

On Thursday, a lawyer for one of Saddam's co-defendants was kidnapped. On Friday his corpse was found dumped near a Baghdad mosque.

Question: If this trial were run by American legal norms, the prejudicial pretrial publicity alone would be grounds for a change of venue. President Bush pronounced Saddam guilty of crimes against his own people, and Bush said it many times.

So is this a show trial with a preordained verdict, or is Saddam entitled to a presumption of innocence? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, I don't think there's really a presumption of innocence here. I do believe Saddam Hussein is a thug and a mass murderer.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, we all believe that.

MR. BUCHANAN: He's going to get what he deserves. But it is a show trial; you're exactly right. It is the victors' justice over the vanquished. We have occupied the country. Our guys are helping provide a lot of the evidence here. This fellow is going to be convicted, and they're going to decide what they ought to do with him. But so was Nuremberg in a way similar to that, where you had the Soviet Union -- Vishinsky prosecuting the Nazis for waging an aggressive war when they got into bed together with the Nazis to wage the war.

So there's a lot of these elements in anything like this, John. But the guy is going to get what he deserves.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, he's focusing on Saddam. What he should be focusing on is what is projected to the world by this trial from this so-called democracy. Isn't that correct?

MS. CLIFT: Well --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And Nuremberg played by the rules, did it not?

MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is this playing by the rules?

MS. CLIFT: It's entirely appropriate that Saddam joins the pantheon of world criminals. And I also think it's important for the Iraqi people to see the magnitude of the evil that he accomplished while he was running the country and to get that onto the historical record.

Having said that, it's also important that this trial be seen as fair by the Iraqis and fair throughout the Muslim world. And I actually don't think they're clamoring in Iraq to have it moved to Switzerland or some neutral place. But I do think they want to have a sense that Saddam gets his say and that there's a parade of witnesses that carefully lays out the crimes that he committed against the Iraqi people. I actually -- I think this is a positive thing.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I don't think my point is getting through. The point is to project to the world that Iraq is a developing democracy and it's playing by democratic rules. Is this doing that? It would appear not. Why don't they move the trial to The Hague?

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, because it's a trial by the Iraqi national legal system, which is obviously a new and developing creation.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's not new at all.

MR. BLANKLEY: Yes, this is a new legal system they're creating under the constitution.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you said --

MR. BLANKLEY: And the constitution was passed last week. So obviously this is not an ancient -- based on ancient law from Iraq in the prior regime. But, look, I doubt -- I have my doubts as to whether the average Iraqi is quite as filled with our sense of a fair trial. I think people are either for him or against him based on how they felt they treated him. I think the world will probably see a reasonable presentation of objective evidence and a trial run by Iraqis. And that's not an outrageous first effort at showing democracy, in my opinion.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The BBC carried the evaluation of the judicial merits of this trial, whether there was anything resembling due process. And he said, in effect, it was a farce; there's no due process here. Do you agree with that?

MS. DANIEL: No, I don't think it's a farce. I think there is a concern that it's not been sanctioned by the United Nations or by some outside body. But nevertheless, I think the real concerns about the trial is it's spotlighting what's happening in Iraq right now. It's the security implications. People are behind bullet-proof glass in the court. People can't hear it properly. The microphones weren't working. Some of the documentation about what he was being tried for wasn't properly handed over to the defense.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eight hundred pages. MS. DANIEL: Yeah. So you have to say there are concerns about the handling of the trial in those cases. That doesn't make it a farce.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But it is a preordained verdict, is it not?

MS. DANIEL: Yes, but I don't think that means --

MR. BLANKLEY: How do you know that?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There's no presumption of innocence. That's a joke, isn't it?

MR. BUCHANAN: John, his enemies are going to judge him. His enemies are going to prosecute him and his enemies are going to judge him. Is that a fair trial?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So it's equivalent to a lynching.

MR. BLANKLEY: But John -- no, wait a second.

MR. BUCHANAN: It's a show trial.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Show trial.

MR. BLANKLEY: John, wait a second.

Presumption --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was the Eichmann trial a show trial?

MR. BUCHANAN: Yes, it was a show trial. They had him in a cage there and they put all this stuff against him.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They preserved the laws of proper justice.

MR. BLANKLEY: You misunderstand the nature of presumption of innocence. It's a legal obligation of the prosecution to make the case. You may very well suspect that people may, by their natural wits, believe a person is guilty before the trial. That doesn't mean that there's not a presumption in the legal sense of obliging the government to make the case.

MS. CLIFT: The alternative would be to have a truth-and- reconciliation court, where everybody would come up there and sort of confess their sins. But Saddam Hussein is way beyond that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the impact of the kidnapping of the lawyer and the slaying of him? The lawyer for one of the co- defendants.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, the sense of it is -- look, what they're saying is, "You've got our guy and you're going to lynch him. And if you're a participant in it, we're going to take you out." What they ought to do, John, in my judgment, is what the Brits did to Napoleon, which was basically --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't think --

MR. BUCHANAN: -- send him in exile.

MS. CLIFT: The implication is that this trial will not settle the violence in Iraq any more than last weekend's referendum.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is this trial counterproductive? Should he have been assassinated at the time he was caught? Could that be defended as a proposition? MR. BUCHANAN: I don't think you want to murder somebody you've taken prisoner. But I do think they might be better off had they not held the trial right now.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Or moved the venue?

MR. BUCHANAN: No, I agree with Tony there. But the problem is you've got a brand new regime trying an old regime which operated under different rules.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, it is a carnival in many respects. For example, at one point the co-defendant said, "We should be wearing proper head gear at the kind of trials that we have." And the judge says, "I stand corrected. Go out and get the head gear." So who's running the trial?

MR. BLANKLEY: But wait a second. The Michael -- we have plenty of trials here that are circuses; the Michael Jackson trial, plenty of them. That doesn't mean --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, come, come.

MR. BLANKLEY: -- that justice isn't -- I think this looks like a pretty good start to a difficult challenge.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But it's not old Bailey. (Laughs.)

MS. DANIEL: Yeah, I don't think it matters that there are -- I read a report about how the Arab media had seen the trial, and they said --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What?

MS. DANIEL: How the Arab media had seen the trial. And they said that although in the West everyone reported the fact that Saddam Hussein had waved his finger and said, "I don't recognize the court," but the Arab media apparently picked up on the fact that for four hours Saddam Hussein was sitting there quietly, listening to the evidence against him. And they were as struck by that as we were by the fact that he was waving his finger.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that Saddam is winning the public relations war?

MS. DANIEL: No, I don't think he is.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No way?

MS. DANIEL: No.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There's nobody on this planet that thinks that Saddam is innocent, correct? MS. CLIFT: Right.

MS. DANIEL: No, I think that's always going to be -- he always has his supporters, but --

MS. CLIFT: The only way he wins is he looks pathetic in that baby crib.

MR. BUCHANAN: You know, Milosevic, though --

MS. CLIFT: It's hard to think that he was ever any great threat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Milosevic is winning the PR war in --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.

MS. CLIFT: Not Milosevic.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- in the --

MS. CLIFT: Oh, I see.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right. And this is precisely what the U.S. government wanted to avoid, correct?

MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly. That's what they don't -- you don't want -- look, you have an American-style trial and Saddam will demand they bring Rumsfeld and that the Americans helped him out when he was doing all this. The Americans gave him this; the Americans gave him that. That's what we don't want.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does anyone believe here that he --

MS. CLIFT: It's also true. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- that there was justification for assassinating him at the time of capture? Do you, Buchanan?

MR. BUCHANAN: No. Look, if you capture --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you believe that?

MR. BUCHANAN: Look --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is there justification for it?

MR. BUCHANAN: Oh, there's obviously justification for killing him.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why not do it that way and get rid of it?

MR. BUCHANAN: Not if you capture a POW. You don't shoot him if you've got him and he's unarmed. I don't believe in doing that. MS. CLIFT: I don't think there's justification unless he was an ongoing threat, and he clearly wasn't at the time. There was no moral or ethical --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think that -- when this trial runs its course, do you think it will add up as a plus to the democratic government of Iraq or a minus?

MS. DANIEL: It depends on how it's handled. If it's handled effectively, then yes, it would be a plus.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you happen to see any signs that it's going to be handled well? It looked to me like the judge was taking his orders from Saddam.

MS. DANIEL: I think it's going to be a long trial.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He let him get away without even mentioning his name.

Okay, the human toll: U.S. military dead in Iraq, including suicides, 1,983; U.S. military amputeed, wounded, injured, mentally ill, all now out of Iraq, 47,400; Iraqi civilian dead, 117,100.

Exit question: If Saddam was still in power, would there be 30,000 insurgents in Iraq today and al Qaeda in Iraq today? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: No way.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No way. Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: No. He kept his boot on that country, for good or for ill. And the good part was he kept the terrorists out.

MR. BLANKLEY: And if we weren't in there, Saddam would be in there. And then, by then, the sanctions program would have broken down. He would have restarted his weapons-of-mass-destruction program and been a greater threat to the region and the world. So I'd rather have a handful -- the insurgents there than Saddam in power.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's pretty hypothetical, isn't it? (Laughter.)

MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. BLANKLEY: You set up a hypothetical. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think? Would there be 30,000 insurgents and the al Qaeda the way it is now, using it as a training ground -- not only a haven?

MS. DANIEL: Definitely not.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Definitely not.

MS. DANIEL: Yeah.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So which is the lesser of two evils -- to have Saddam in power or to have what we have today, plus the turmoil and uproar and presenting it to Iran on a silver platter?

MR. BUCHANAN: It was a mistake, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A mistake?

MS. CLIFT: Yeah.

MR. BLANKLEY: It was not a mistake. We had --

MS. CLIFT: The containment policy -- MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A mistake?

MS. CLIFT: The containment policy was working. Invasion was a mistake.

MR. BLANKLEY: The containment policy --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mistake?

MR. BLANKLEY: Of course not. Containment of him was not working. We have an incipient democracy. We had 63 percent vote on the constitution last week. We have a reasonable chance of having a success in Iraq.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Thank you, General Blankley. A mistake or not, Caroline?

MS. DANIEL: No.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Two: CIA Leak Gate.

PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape.) If someone committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So, has anyone in the White House committed a crime in the leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame's undercover status? Scooter Libby may have. He's chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney. Libby has indicated that he never leaked the CIA name to New York Times reporter Judith Miller.

But Miller, released from jail after 85 days of refusing to testify, told a grand jury that she and Libby talked about CIA agent Valerie Plame three times. The special prosecutor investigating the case is said to be skeptical of the claims of both Libby and Karl Rove, President Bush's ubiquitous strategic guru.

Asked at a Rose Garden event whether he was distracted by the Rove-Libby situation, President Bush deftly said that he was focused on his major presidential responsibilities, with no distractions.

PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape.) I've got a job to do to make sure this economy continues to grow. I've got a job to make sure that there's a plausible reconstruction plan for the cities affected by Katrina. There's some background noise here; a lot of chatter, a lot of speculation and opining. But the American people expect me to do my job, and I'm going to.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Indictments in the case, if there are any, are expected to target perjury, obstruction of justice and false statements, all under the umbrella of concealment; i.e., cover-up.

Question: Does Fitzgerald have any surprises up his sleeve? Eleanor Clift, what do you hear? MS. CLIFT: Well, we don't know whether he's going to narrowly frame the indictments that pretty much now everybody expects, whether it will be narrowly based on perjury and obstruction of justice, making false statements, or whether he's going to go for a wider conspiracy to manipulate evidence and to lead the country into a war based on manipulated evidence. And if he does that, it is 1974 all over again. President Bush will not resign --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Just to clarify --

MS. CLIFT: -- but he will be seriously weakened, and the administration really will implode.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, just to clarify, this thing started out with a violation of the rule that you can't reveal the identity of a CIA agent or classified information. That seems to have receded. And what is focused on now is a cover-up. It's a pattern of direct concealment. So he's going to focus on perjury and related charges. Is that the way you see this?

MS. DANIEL: Yeah, I think it is. And if you look at Fitzgerald's reputation as a prosecutor in Chicago, this is what he's done before. He --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Fitzgerald.

MS. DANIEL: Patrick Fitzgerald, the prosecutor. He's gone from small-scale sort of criminal offenses to a wider indictment to the political system. He's done that with Governor Ryan in Chicago. He's doing that with the city of Chicago now. He targets basically politics as usual.

So the concern here is that he's moving from the original investigation into what happened with the CIA leak to a wider question of how people were handling classified information. He was asking about Scooter Libby's role in handling classified information. That's much broader.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is the scandal leading or getting closer to the Oval Office, do you think, Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, of course, the nature of a surprise, to answer the first part of the question, is that it comes unexpectedly. So I don't --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, that's why we're here. We want to provide a surprise-free environment.

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, right. So --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And I've been doing that with my masterful predictions for years. MR. BLANKLEY: Okay. But the fact is that nobody knows where he's going on this. And the speculation is more likely that if he's going anywhere, he's going on obstruction of justice and perjury. I think the idea that it's going to get to the Oval Office is the fantasy of people who hate Bush.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, we know it's in the vice president's office now.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think it's going --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We know that.

MR. BLANKLEY: We know it's in his staffer's office. You don't know it's in the vice president's office.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, that's the vice president's office.

MR. BLANKLEY: No, it's not.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, logically speaking, it is.

MR. BLANKLEY: You don't want to be responsible for your aides, and the vice president is not going to be --

MR. BUCHANAN: I think it's going further, John, in this sense. I tend to agree with Eleanor. I mean, to be just perjury and obstruction of justice in the Valerie Plame thing -- and there's no real crime because nobody deliberately outed a CIA agent -- that's very narrow. But you hear that he may be cooperating with McNulty, who's investigating the whole AIPAC thing.

And you hear -- again, it's on the web -- that they may be looking into the forgery of those Niger uranium documents, John. And the whole idea may be that he's going to put together a conspiracy to leak national security secrets in violation of law to build a case for war. If that's coming, that'll be very, very big and it'll be spilling out over a long period of time.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Is it your felt intuition that Karl Rove will be indicted and that Scooter Libby will be indicted? Patrick Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: I would say definitely yes to Libby, and I'm not sure --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, none of us are sure, Patrick.

MR. BUCHANAN: I would say probably Rove and certainly Libby.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I agree with that. And I think there are going to be a handful of others. I don't think it stops with those two.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Like whom?

MS. CLIFT: Well, other names have been speculated. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean, part of the White House Iraq group?

MS. CLIFT: I don't feel comfortable damaging their reputations. Well, Ari Fleischer has been rumored as possibly --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why did Ari Fleischer disappear? (Laughter.)

MR. BLANKLEY: I guess you didn't feel that uncomfortable. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Have there been any sightings?

MS. CLIFT: Well, it's been in the press. I'm not breaking --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Have there been any sightings of Ari Fleischer?

MS. CLIFT: He was on the plane --

MS. DANIEL: (Inaudible.)

MS. CLIFT: He was on the plane when the secret document discussing Valerie Plame was --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: On July the 8th.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah. And so his name has been in the public domain, so I'm not breaking news.

MR. BLANKLEY: I can't speak for others, but for me, I think -- for me it would be irresponsible to speculate on names of people who are going to be indicted when there's no evidence that we have of it. And so others may not feel obliged not to, but I'm not going to speculate on ruining a man's reputation if I don't have any basis for it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, we're talking about Rove and we're talking about Libby.

MR. BLANKLEY: Well --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think you're ruining their reputation if you speculate at this point --

MR. BLANKLEY: I think a lot of people are speculating in a slanderous way about people. Now, if it turns out they get indicted, then we can talk about it objectively.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I think --

MR. BLANKLEY: But I'm not going to speculate about anybody's --

MS. CLIFT: This is a White House -- MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think we all ought to congratulate Tony. We all feel edified by that, right?

MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I mean, quite surprisingly, you've edified us.

MS. CLIFT: This is a White House that has slandered all kinds of people.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think? Do you want to speculate on this, or do you think it's beneath you and --

MS. DANIEL: Well, I think even people inside the White House are speculating about what's going to happen with Karl Rove and --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, what's your speculation?

MS. DANIEL: Well, the fact that Karl Rove has appeared four times before a grand jury is clearly not a great sign. So I think --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think Rove will be indicted.

MS. DANIEL: I think there's a strong chance of it, yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And what about Libby?

MS. DANIEL: And I think there's also a strong chance about Libby, yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think you've got it exactly right, Caroline.

Issue Three: Miers' Paper Trail.

WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY SCOTT MCCLELLAN: (From videotape.) The role of a judge is very different from the role of a candidate.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That was the answer the White House gave to questions over a survey Harriet Miers filled out during her 1989 campaign for Dallas City Council. The question was, "Do you support a constitutional ban on abortion?" Miers answered, quote, "Yes, except to save the life of a mother," unquote.

The news produced a chorus of criticism from liberals, many of whom joined the chorus of conservative critics.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D-NY): (From videotape.) The questionnaire doesn't clear up things. It rather makes them even more confounding when it comes to Harriet Miers.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Get this: Conservatives, like Buchanan, found nothing in the Miers statement to quell their concerns. Conservatives say they are still not convinced she'll tilt the high court to the right.

Question: Can Miers have it both ways? Can she personally oppose abortion but still view Roe v. Wade as settled law? Caroline Daniel.

MS. DANIEL: Well, John Roberts seemed to be able to get away with that. He's a Catholic. One would assume that he'd be pro-life. And yet he went on to say that it was settled -- or at least came close to saying it was settled law.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know who advertised his Catholicism? That was Anthony Kennedy. He didn't advertise it, but he made no secret of it. And he led people to believe that he would overturn Roe v. Wade simply by the fact that he was so pronounced in asserting his Catholicism. Do you see? And it was quite the opposite. He did not move to overturn.

MR. BUCHANAN: John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In fact, he votes consistently to preserve Roe v. Wade the way it is.

MR. BUCHANAN: John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, that has bearing on this, does it not?

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, but the question you pose -- there's so many things you could say negative about Ms. Miers. The one thing you can't say was that quote there, because it was a constitutional- amendment ban that she was asked whether she was for. You can say, "The Constitution as it exists has settled law, but I want to amend the Constitution to change it." That, back in the '80s, was the point of that question in the circular. It was a constitutional ban. So it was about an amendment to the Constitution to end abortion, which was a big issue 20 years ago.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, you can be pro-abortion and favor overturning Roe v. Wade. That is why this issue is about judicial philosophy. The issue is about whether Roe v. Wade was rightly decided, not whether you're pro-choice or pro-abortion. That's why Bork, who -- I don't know Bork's stand on abortion per se. I do know his judicial philosophy, and he would overturn an unconstitutional ruling.

MS. CLIFT: Well, these questions aside, Harriet Miers did not have a good week this week. I mean, her round of courtesy calls on Capitol Hill, she leaves senators less impressed with her after she meets with them.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why? Why?

MS. CLIFT: Because she cannot or will not discuss constitutional law. And it appears that she does not have the grasp of constitutional law that is necessary for a Supreme Court judge, plus the fact she had a private meeting with the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, a Republican, and they came away with different interpretations of the meeting. And Senator Specter is coming as close as a committee chairman can to signaling the White House to please spare us from this embarrassment.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What are the odds that Bush will withdraw the nomination?

MR. BUCHANAN: I think the odds are about one out of three it will be withdrawn before the hearings; maybe two out of three after the hearings, and one out of three she'll be confirmed.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I've seen nominations pulled that are in a lot less trouble than this one. I don't know how it's going to be orchestrated, but it's hard for me to envision her on the bench.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, she's very loyal to Bush, and you know that Bush preserves those loyalty bonds both ways.

MS. CLIFT: Not when it starts to hurt him.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Loyal up, loyal down.

MS. CLIFT: No, I don't agree.

MR. BLANKLEY: I think it's about four out of five chance that she will not be on the Supreme Court.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Four out of five?

MR. BLANKLEY: I don't know whether it happens before the hearings, during the hearings or after the hearings.

MS. DANIEL: I think she could easily blow it at the hearings, but I think he's got to let her try and defend herself in public. Otherwise her career is going to be -- her reputation is already going to be ruined. And she has to have a chance to defend her image in public.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is all very interesting, but the odds are four to one that he will stay with her and she will stay on to go all the way.

Predictions. I'll start. The Democratic nominee for president in 2008 will be Hillary Rodham Clinton. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: That's courageous. John, in Latin America you've got Castro and you've got Hugo Chavez. Bolivia has got an upcoming election in December, and I think those two may be joined by a populist radical leftist named Morales.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really? Is that a sign of future tendencies? MR. BUCHANAN: Real trouble. I think it's real trouble. One of the reasons is they've got a lot of gas exploration down there, and there's a real move to nationalize.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it going to spread to other nations?

MR. BUCHANAN: I think it's already spreading through the Andean region.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: There goes my trip to the Andean region.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: If there are high-level indictments next week, Harriet Miers will be collateral damage, because the president will be so weakened he will not be able to sustain her nomination. And right now his stubbornness is the only thing that's keeping her afloat.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: When the third-quarter profits come out, the oil companies' profits are going to be so eye-poppingly high that there's going to be a rush in Congress to tax in some way what they'll be judging as gouging. And even many Republicans may very well be joining that pack.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think it's gouging?

MR. BLANKLEY: No, I think it's the marketplace. But the public overwhelmingly thinks it's gouging.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Caroline.

MS. DANIEL: George Bush, in an attempt to change the subject from Harriet Miers, decides to appoint the next chairman of the Federal Reserve and appoints Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why would he want to take somebody out of the Council and move them over to the Fed when he has to figure out who can replace him and Bernanke is doing a good job there?

MS. DANIEL: He could use it as an opportunity to shake up his whole economic team.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who is the --

MR. BUCHANAN: I think Bush is going to appoint his accountant to the Federal Reserve. (Laughter.)

MS. CLIFT: He's good with numbers, right? (Laughter.) MR. BUCHANAN: "Best mind I know on economics."

MR. BLANKLEY: That adds up, Pat.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The problem with getting a positive vote on the confirmation with Miers is that Bush's ratings are slipping. And those in tight senatorial races will want to put distance between themselves and Bush, and they will use the Harriet Miers vote in the Senate --

MR. BUCHANAN: Like Santorum?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- to vote against her.

MR. BUCHANAN: Like Santorum?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Like Santorum and also DeWine and a couple of others. And that will mean that she'll go down. Bye bye.

END.