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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP

HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN PANEL: PATRICK BUCHANAN, MSNBC; ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK; TONY BLANKLEY, THE WASHINGTON TIMES; MARTIN WALKER, UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL

TAPED: FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2006
BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF SEPTEMBER 30-OCTOBER 1, 2006

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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Iraq Blowback.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: (From videotape.) We'll stop all the speculation. You can read it for yourself.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What you can read for yourself are the key elements from a National Intelligence Estimate, NIE, on trends in global terrorism. An NIE is an authoritative report based on intelligence compiled from 16 government agencies.

The NIE says, quote, "The Iraq conflict has become the cause celebre for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of U.S. involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement." The report adds, quote, "Jihadists are increasing in both number and geographic dispersion." The report looks to the future. Quote: "If this trend continues, threats to U.S. interests at home and abroad will become more diverse, leading to increasing attacks worldwide."

In a different emphasis, the NIE states how the jihadist recruitment might be slowed. "Should jihadists leaving Iraq perceive themselves and be perceived to have failed, we judge fewer fighters will be inspired to carry on the fight," unquote.

Taking all of the NIE into consideration, Democratic Senator Carl Levin, ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a one-decade alumnus of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee, distilled the essence of the report.

SEN. CARL LEVIN (D-MI): (From videotape.) It's our intelligence agencies which confirmed what the administration has long denied, that the Iraq war itself is fueling the spread of terrorism in this world. So not only has the Iraq war distracted us from the fight against terrorism; it has made the fight even tougher.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: How serious is the Iraq bad news in this NIE assessment? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, John, it's very serious. And it's grave, as a matter of fact. But the thing is, it's unexceptionable and it's undeniable, in my judgment, for this reason. Look, there's no doubt about it; the American invasion of Iraq and the march up to Baghdad has inflamed the Arab and Islamic world from Marrakesh all the way to Malaysia. We knew that.

There's a gigantic insurgency that has risen up from almost nothing to the point where it's really got a possibility of taking down the regime there, of taking down the government. So that is clearly true here.

But the president is also correct in this. If the United States turns around and walks out and that government goes down, you will have an enormous victory for the insurgents and the terrorists and the jihadists all over that region. And what is now a gathering disaster could turn into a cataclysm.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: The report is serious substantively and politically; substantively because it reveals how bad the situation in Iraq and how this administration has known that this report was prepared in April. It also notes that these judgments about how a western country invading an oil-rich Muslim country will fuel Islamic radicalism was in an NIE report before the war took place. So it really raises the question of the judgment of starting this war to begin with. Politically, it undermines the president's argument that being in Iraq makes Americans safer. These are 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, and they're basically saying the president is not being truthful when he runs around the country campaigning on the fact that his policies in Iraq have made us safer. He is lying.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does that convince you, Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: No, not entirely. Look, I've said from the beginning -- I wrote in my book that obviously when we engaged Iraq, we aroused opposition. That happens when you engage in any war. You know, and so that is unremarkable.

Now, there wasn't peace and quiet before, and radical Muslims have been aroused from all kinds of events, from us skedaddling out of Lebanon in '83 to all the various events of the last several years.

But the other piece of -- that's backward-looking. The other piece of it, which is good news for the president as far as the debate is concerned, is forward-looking. There the same study that the Democrats and the Bush opponents are applauding says if we get out and the jihadis think they've won, that this will be a catastrophe, as Pat says.

So I think this helps -- for those who didn't know this already, and as I say, it's a common place -- it helps the criticism of Bush going into the war, but it helps Bush's policy and goes against the Democrats' skedaddle argument looking forward. So it's a mixed bag.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think, Martin?

MR. WALKER: I think it's a statement of the blindingly obvious. People who haven't realized that this has been the case, that the American venture, Anglo-American venture in Iraq, has been arousing more and more jihadist opposition, simply have not been paying attention.

But there are two points that I think are really important. The first one is, one of the reasons why this jihadist opposition is getting bigger and bigger is because they see America losing. They see America floundering. They see America not having any coherent response to this kind of guerrilla warfare, this insurgency warfare. And, in other words, it's going to feed upon a sense of success and of an American embarrassment.

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, as MacArthur said, there's no substitute for victory, which is why we need more troops to win this war.

MR. BUCHANAN: Eleanor is right on one thing.

MR. WALKER: The second point, Pat, is that this is already out of date. The information in which this NIE was drafted, was being collected in the last quarter of last year, at a time when the main problem -- MS. CLIFT: Yeah, it's gotten worse since then.

MR. WALKER: No.

MS. CLIFT: Yes, it has.

MR. WALKER: The thing that's changed -- the main target of the jihadists in Iraq is no longer the American troops. It's increasingly other Iraqis.

MS. CLIFT: What has changed --

MR. WALKER: It's fomenting the Sunni-Shi'a split.

MS. CLIFT: What has changed is the Maliki government has not taken hold, and there's a real question whether it can even hang on. And without that government, the rationale for creating this democracy is gone.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, let me --

MS. CLIFT: Nobody is for skedaddling. They're for figuring out what to do other than staying the course and spending $8 billion per month.

MR. BLANKLEY: If you don't stay the course, you don't stay the course. Whether it's cut and run or cut and walk, the Democrats obviously --

MS. CLIFT: You reverse the course. You figure out what's going to work. This is not working.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Democratic hit job?

The NIE report is five months old. It's dated April '06. The president took sarcastic notice of this.

PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape.) Now, you know what's interesting about the NIE. It was an intelligence report done last April. And here we are, coming down the stretch of an election campaign, and it's on the front page of your newspapers. Isn't that interesting?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Is the sarcasm justified? Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, of course it is. This is typical. It's been happening for years; two months before the election, the leaks out of the CIA and the military and the State Department and the books that come out.

However, what's more interesting is the way it was cherry-picked, the way they took not even a whole sentence. They took a clause of a sentence and put it on the front page of The New York Times, because the second clause, after the semicolon, was good news for the president. So, yes, it's typical.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's wrong with Tony's logic here?

MS. CLIFT: Well, because the real political hit job is against the American people, who haven't been given the full facts. This is the most secretive administration since your pal, Richard Nixon. And the administration released 10 percent of the report, and I don't believe they released the parts of the report that are the most damning. So if we're going to talk about selective quoting, I think the administration has a burden here as well. MR. BUCHANAN: John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Would there be any complaint from the president if he had released the report at an early date so that the American people will see both sides of the Iraq issue? He held the report, the president did, and then we find --

MR. BUCHANAN: Not only is the president exactly right. Tony is right. These books are coming out. The president of the United States is going at the Democrats directly as the party of cut and run. Clinton is up in arms and red-faced.

What is happening, John, is this thing is turning into an us- versus-them election. And I think the president wants to do that.

MR. BLANKLEY: Let me make --

MR. BUCHANAN: I think Clinton's trying to do it too.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But why wasn't the president candid in April?

MR. WALKER: Because the president doesn't want to run on Iraq. The president wants to make this election about terrorism.

MR. BUCHANAN: Security.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does the election matter?

MR. BLANKLEY: There's another point to be made. NIEs traditionally aren't released to the public.

MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly.

MR. BLANKLEY: I can remember all through the Reagan years; I don't remember seeing a single one leaked or officially released, because you give something away when you let the world know how we analyze events.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, the press is at war with Bush. I mean, The New York Times and The Washington Post -- you can throw in the Allen thing -- are really at war to take down the Republican Party as I have not seen it --

MS. CLIFT: Oh, that is the most paranoid --

MR. BUCHANAN: -- in a long time. It's not paranoid.

MS. CLIFT: That's paranoia. The press is finally doing its job. The American people are entitled to know the truth, not the --

MR. BUCHANAN: What are they hyping, Eleanor? MS. CLIFT: This is the administration that says the press exists in a reality-based universe, and they create their own reality and we have to respond. Now we're --

MR. BUCHANAN: You're after them.

MS. CLIFT: We're pulling the curtain back on their reality.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There is another NIE assessment in the pipeline. This one focuses exclusively on Iraq.

REP. JANE HARMAN (D-CA): (From videotape.) I have not seen it, although I hear its contents are grim. I understand it is stamped "Draft." That is so it doesn't have to be sent up to Congress, and that is so we do not learn in real time what the deteriorating situation in Iraq is to our intelligence community.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: California Democratic Representative Harman is right. There is another National Intelligence Estimate, one solely assessing the Iraq war. The White House does not deny the existence of the report, but it does deny delaying it.

Question: Congresswoman Harman, is she right in demanding the release of this? Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, first, no, based on what I said before; NIEs should not be released. Two, I don't know whether it's actually a draft or whether it's finished and ready to go. If it's only a draft, then it can't be released.

But I'd like to make a point about Congresswoman Harman, because I've always admired her. I've editorialized, supporting her for being a very responsible Democrat --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you put it in your book?

MR. BLANKLEY: -- on the Intelligence Committee. No. But in the last year, she was threatened with being taken off the committee if she didn't start partisanizing intelligence. And we're seeing now examples of this. The Black Caucus and Pelosi both did that. And if you look at how she's been turning from being a responsible person --

MS. CLIFT: I cannot believe that you, with a straight face, can accuse them of politicizing intelligence when we are in a war --

MR. BLANKLEY: I'm telling you --

MS. CLIFT: -- based on intelligence that has been politicized by the president on down.

MR. BLANKLEY: She has been threatened by her leadership if she didn't get partisan. And the only thing you have to do is look at the way she talked until about a year ago. MS. CLIFT: The Iraq war is --

MR. BUCHANAN: John, she is wired into the intelligence community very deeply. And I'm sure the anti-Bush folks in the intelligence community are feeding them this stuff. This is all about the election in November.

MS. CLIFT: And after the election --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, isn't she right, though?

MR. BUCHANAN: My guess is she's exactly right. They're telling her, "Ms. Harman, we've really got hot stuff here."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think the American people, in order to make judgments about the public policy of Iraq, ought to be in possession of this information post haste?

MR. WALKER: I think they certainly ought to be in possession of the preamble to these National Intelligence Estimates, but not of the actual body of the text, which can have sources in there. It can have sensitive information which can lead to the exposure of people.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That can all be cleansed.

MS. CLIFT: That can be redacted.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That can be scrubbed.

MR. WALKER: And it should be. But what's happening in this country right now is what happened to Tony Blair a couple of years ago when the whole issue of the politicization of intelligence blew up in Britain and it destroyed Tony Blair's political career. And the threat now is it's not just going to be involved in losing a war; it can destroy the entire --

MR. BUCHANAN: This is what happens when you start to lose a war. This is what happens. This is happening because the perception is we are losing this war.

MR. BLANKLEY: All right, let me --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Please relinquish when I'm demanding it.

Okay, fathom this: A new poll of Iraqi civilians -- Iraqi civilians -- the question is, "Do you approve or disapprove of attacks against U.S. forces?" Approve, 61 percent of Iraqis. In addition, the U.S. military presence in Iraq, another poll, "Is it a stabilizing force or not?" Twenty-one percent say yes, it's stabilizing; 78 percent said no, it's not stabilizing.

MR. WALKER: We've really liberated those folks, haven't we?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think we've lost the hearts and minds of the Iraqis?

MR. WALKER: I think we lost them a couple of years ago, frankly. I think we lost them pretty soon after Baghdad fell, when we couldn't even stabilize that city.

MR. BUCHANAN: This is going to cost us the hearts and minds of the American people when they see numbers like this. I'll tell you, John, I can't think of any numbers that would more incline them to say, "It's time to go." MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you feel that way, Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: I think that we are paying an enormous price in this country in terms of the lives of young men and women and in terms of financial resources. But the Iraqi people, tens of thousands have died. Their electricity is in worse shape than it was. We have a responsibility not to leave Iraq in worse shape than we found it. We are at that point right now.

MR. BLANKLEY: Let me just make a point. I can understand why the Iraqi people would express themselves in that way, and I assume that's an accurate portrayal. They say, "What could be worse than what we have got now?" Well, the fact is --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: For approving attacks on Americans by 61 percent?

MR. BLANKLEY: But the fact is that if they could see the future without us there, those numbers would flip around.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question, exit question: Chairman Mao said that guerrilla fighters swim in the sea of the people. If 61 percent of the people approve of attacks on U.S. forces fighting the Iraqi guerrilla insurgents, does this mean that there's no way we can defeat the insurgency in Iraq? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: I don't believe we alone can defeat the insurgency. I've always felt that if it's going to be won, the Iraqi people are going to have to win their own freedom and independence and democracy themselves or they're going to lose their own war.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you mean that --

MR. BUCHANAN: America cannot --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you go ahead, Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: The record of western countries defeating insurgencies is dismal. I think what has to happen is the Iraqi government has to be given certain benchmarks to meet and we have to say we're not going to be there forever and create some sort of an exit plan over the next year or two.

MR. WALKER: We've got to start realizing it's a political problem. It's not a military problem. The difficulty here is that we've got this wonderful U.S. military. It's a hammer, and so every problem looks like a nail. This isn't a military problem. It's essentially political. It's not just Iraq.

MS. CLIFT: Political benchmarks is what they have to meet.

MR. WALKER: It's the entire Islamic world. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, the government is defective over there. It's a little chaotic, and it may lack leadership from the current head of state. Number two, the president is unwilling to put in troops, more troops, the number of troops needed, which probably is in the vicinity of 100,000.

MR. WALKER: Could be as many as that, yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And thirdly, there's no political solution in sight. And there's nobody that he can deal with. It's a Sunni-Shi'a insurgency now.

MR. BLANKLEY: That is not entirely true. The leadership of both the Sunnis and the Shi'as, including Sistani, are still committed to trying to avoid the civil war.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you committed to the proposition that this war can be won by the American forces over there?

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, in conjunction, obviously, with the Iraqis. But I've argued for a long time -- a lot of people have -- first we've got to provide the kind of security that makes the political process feasible. And we've never --

MR. WALKER: Three years too late, Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: No, we've undermanned it from the beginning.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I don't see the elements there, and I don't see them coming.

Patrick, congratulations on this newest achievement, "State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America." How's it doing?

MR. BUCHANAN: It's doing very well on The New York Times, John. We're going to make the list the fifth week in a row.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, you are the rallying cry for the others on this panel. Now he's got one book out. Have you got more than one book out?

MR. BLANKLEY: My paperback came out this week.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But it's still only one book.

MR. BLANKLEY: One book. I'm starting the research on my second one.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, you know what the requirements are. How many have you done now -- nine?

MR. BUCHANAN: Eight. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eight books; a beacon to us all.

Martin?

MR. WALKER: Twelve now.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Twelve books?

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. WALKER: Afraid so.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor? One.

MS. CLIFT: Three, working on four.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Excellent.

Issue Two: Alpha Bill.

FORMER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: (From videotape.) I tried and I failed to get bin Laden. I regret it, but I did try. And I did everything I thought I responsibly could.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The week began with a bang -- former President Bill Clinton head to head with Chris Wallace of Fox News.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: (From videotape.

) I worked hard to try to kill him. I authorized the finding for the CIA to kill him. We contracted with people to kill him. I got closer to killing him than anybody's gotten since.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The former president leveled an attack directly at the interviewer and the interviewer's employer.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: (From videotape.) You did Fox's bidding on this show. You did your nice little conservative hit job on me. And you've got that little smirk on your face. You think you're so clever. But I had responsibility for trying to protect this country.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Is this a contest of "We didn't find him better than you didn't find him"? Do you follow me?

MR. WALKER: I do. We made it Clinton saying he made a better job of not getting Osama bin Laden than the Bushes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Laughs.)

MR. WALKER: Not a proud claim.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?

MR. BUCHANAN: John, let me say this. It was an authentic moment. Frankly, it's like Nixon's last press conference. The guy came out and said what he thought. He's angry. He's ticked off. He thinks they've really ruined his reputation on this issue. And he believes he did a good job. He was very honest.

Politically, though, it was a disaster for the Democrats and I think for Clinton. When you're in a fight with Chris Wallace as the biggest heavy hitter in the Democratic Party, you've made a mistake.

MS. CLIFT: Chris Wallace was within his journalistic bounds. But this struck a nerve with Clinton. And he was also ready for the fight. He liberated Democrats to be more assertive about --

MR. WALKER: Exactly. This is the guy --

MS. CLIFT: -- standing up to the president. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on.

MS. CLIFT: Second, he's laying the groundwork for Hillary's campaign. And third, he had some legitimate points to make. The Bush White House did virtually nothing after they took office. And the Republicans put out this line, "Clinton had eight years to get bin Laden; poor little Bush only had eight months."

MR. BLANKLEY: Let me --

MR. BUCHANAN: You move the issue onto the Republican turf, first and foremost, and you damage your lead guy. The Republicans love it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on. Let's pick up where Eleanor left off.

Okay, steamed Rice.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: (From videotape.) They ridicule me for trying. They had eight months to try. They did not try.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The secretary of State responded to Mr. Clinton. "Flatly false," she asserted -- that they did do something over the eight months.

Can you speak to that?

MR. WALKER: Yes, I can. The new book that's come out by Bob Woodward refutes Secretary Rice.

MR. BLANKLEY: It rebuts. It doesn't refute.

MR. WALKER: It rebuts what she said. It contradicts her.

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, as opposed to disprove.

MR. WALKER: It contradicts her. It claims that. It cites George Tenet of the CIA.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's that again?

MR. WALKER: It cites George Tenet of the CIA and Cofer Black.

MR. BLANKLEY: Who'd been covering --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Cofer Black, the authority on this matter.

MR. WALKER: Who was counterterrorism, saying that they were given the brush-off by Condi Rice --

MR. BLANKLEY: Look --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let him finish. MR. WALKER: -- when she was national security agent when they tried to put it forward. Equally, it's also a matter of record that when Dick Clarke, the antiterrorism czar, on the first day that Condi Rice came into office, when the Bush administration came in, he handed her a memo advising her to have --

MR. BLANKLEY: Look, let me just get a word in here.

MR. WALKER: -- (inaudible) -- on al Qaeda. And nothing happened.

MR. BLANKLEY: In a book like this --

MR. WALKER: Factually, therefore, Clinton was correct.

MR. BLANKLEY: Woodward is -- he didn't talk to Bush, didn't talk to Rice or Cheney. He talked to these guys, these guys who marred their record while in office are now trying to cover their back sides by all this reporting.

The fact is that I agree with John's question that neither president showed himself to have succeeded in anticipating the problem.

MR. WALKER: I would agree with you.

MR. BLANKLEY: Bush failed for eight years -- for eight months, and Clinton failed for eight years.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If what Martin says is true, does that mean that the real culpability for the failure of the United States to anticipate 9/11 rests on the shoulders of Condoleezza Rice?

MR. WALKER: I think --

MS. CLIFT: Kudos --

MR. WALKER: -- the Clinton administration and the early Bush administration both failed to tackle the bin Laden, the al Qaeda problem.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But she kept the terrorism czar within the National Security Council, who had formulated a plan, which she said was flatly false --

MR. BLANKLEY: She claims he didn't formulate a plan.

MS. CLIFT: She did not --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's not true. It was produced on television on video. It was an eight-page plan --

MR. BLANKLEY: That's not a plan -- eight pages. That's a memo. MS. CLIFT: Excuse me. Kudos to Jon Stewart, who went back to Condoleezza Rice's testimony before the 9/11 commission where she said, "We didn't get a plan; we got a detailed set of proposals."

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, well, that's a difference between --

MS. CLIFT: Oh, come on.

MR. BLANKLEY: A strategic plan is a massive document. A five- page memo is not --

MR. BUCHANAN: The bottom line is, Clinton --

MS. CLIFT: They didn't act on it for eight months.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to hear from Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: The bottom line is Clinton failed for seven years and Bush failed for eight or nine months.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to know how damning this is of Condoleezza Rice.

MR. BUCHANAN: It's very damaging for Condi.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it more damning than the damnation that the president has received for not acting in August when the CIA went to him in Crawford, Texas?

MR. BUCHANAN: Look, I think Condoleezza Rice has a real problem on this thing, and so does Bill Clinton.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: "Bin Laden determined to strike in the United States." The Bush administration -- the president, Condoleezza Rice, everybody else -- ignores that. That is --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who won --

MR. BUCHANAN: Who won the week?

MR. BLANKLEY: Can we have a moment of reality here?

MS. CLIFT: That's reality.

MR. BLANKLEY: This memo was given to her on the first day in office, January 21st, 2001.

MS. CLIFT: It indicated the seriousness.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let him finish.

MR. BLANKLEY: When a White House sets up in the first days, people are throwing in hundreds of memos, all saying, "Look at this, look at this." The idea -- to compare that with Clinton's seven years not paying attention to the problem is ludicrous.

MR. WALKER: The USS Cole blown up.

MR. BLANKLEY: Under Clinton's watch.

MR. WALKER: I mean, terrorism had to be high on the agenda.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Who won this pre-election political skirmish between the Republicans and the Democrats? MR. BUCHANAN: Bush did, Bush and the Republicans, because they've drawn Clinton and the whole gang in on their issue.

MR. WALKER: You're wrong. Clinton won.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let her go.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, Clinton won, because their issue is falling apart in front of the American people's eyes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So you believe Clinton was very effective.

MS. CLIFT: Very effective, absolutely.

MR. BLANKLEY: The problem is the Democratic base is already aroused. Clinton coming out and jazzing up the base doesn't help them. But Clinton coming out jazzes up the conservative base. So on net, we've got more aroused conservatives now.

MR. WALKER: No, I think the whole Republican shock about this is they finally realize that with Bill Clinton, you've got the war room campaigner out there again, reminding the Democrats that you have to be in war room mode in this kind of political situation.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think he has taken neutered little animals, the Democrats, the way they've been behaving on this issue, and he screwed their courage to the sticking place.

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, he screwed something. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And I think that's a win. I think it's a net win for Clinton and the Democrats.

We'll be right back with predictions.

(Announcements.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Forced prediction, due to change without notice: Will the Democrats win the House of Representatives in six weeks?

MR. BUCHANAN: Yes.

MS. CLIFT: Yes.

MR. BLANKLEY: Right now the Republicans are not losing the net 15. That could change.

MR. WALKER: Yes, and they could take the Senate too.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes, but they will not take the Senate. Bye-bye.

(PBS segment.)

Issue Three: Snow Shovels.

TONY SNOW (White House spokesman): (From videotape.) These are not going to be speeches where I go out and start railing against Democrats. What I'm going to do is talk about the president's record and what he's done.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony Snow is the president's official spokesperson. For the first time in U.S. history, Snow, the White House spokesman, is traveling the country doing public speeches to elect Republican candidates to Congress.

Question: Is this political desperation on the part of the administration? Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: No. They got themselves a media star and they want to use him for the party, and the press secretary is in a brand new role ever since at least Jody Powell.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is there any risk for Snow?

MS. CLIFT: I don't think so in today's partisanship. I mean, he'll probably go back into the partisan media. But I think much more dangerous was the fact that Condoleezza Rice, as secretary of State, campaigned for Bush in 2004. That's a much more negative break from tradition.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: As the official spokesman, he's supposed to be a conduit of factual information to the American people. That's what they look for.

MR. BLANKLEY: No, look, Tony is an extraordinary asset for the White House. They'd be fools not to get him out on the road.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?

MR. BLANKLEY: Absolutely.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think, Martin?

MR. WALKER: I think two things. First of all, it's going to increase his lecture fees when he goes back on the road in two years' time. (Laughter.) And secondly, there's "Snow" business like show business. We've got an absolute blend now of the media, politics, show business, celebrities. It's all one big mix.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean by that that commerce rules, right?

MR. WALKER: I'm afraid so.

END.