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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP

HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN

PANEL: PATRICK BUCHANAN, MSNBC; ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK; TONY BLANKLEY, THE WASHINGTON TIMES; MORT ZUCKERMAN, U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT

TAPED: FRIDAY, OCTOBER 13, 2006
BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF OCTOBER 14-15, 2006

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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: You Make Me "Il."

PAK GIL YON (North Korean ambassador to the United Nations): (From videotape.) I'm very much proud of our scientists and the researchers who have conducted such a very, very successful nuclear underground test.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: North Korea sent tremors throughout the world last Sunday. It announced that it had exploded its first nuclear bomb in an underground site some 250 miles northeast of Pyongyang.

The detonation was weak, registering a low 4.2 on the Richter scale, with only one kiloton of explosive force, so anemic as to leave some scientists to believe that the blast was not really atomic, or if it were, the trigger detonating the plutonium was faulty.

President Bush deplored the test and said the U.S. reserves its options.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: (From videotape.) The United States remains committed to diplomacy. The United States also reserves all options to defend our friends and our interests in the region against the threats from North Korea.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: No radiation has been detected from the site of the tests. So is this the mouse that roared? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, this could have been a failure, just like their Taepo Dong II rocket launch July 4th was a failure. But North Korea is deliberately openly defying the Bush doctrine that says, "No axis of evil nation will be allowed to acquire the world's worst weapon."

I think this is a dramatic move in history, almost as dramatic as the Russian explosion of a bomb. Japan's going to have to consider whether to go nuclear. South Korea is going to have to consider it. The Iranians are watching how Bush deals with this. And the United States has got to consider whether or not it wants to keep 25,000 or 35,000 troops in South Korea as nuclear hostages to North Korea.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Well, I don't think anybody is seriously arguing this was a hoax. It may have been partially successful. They used old plutonium that they achieved during the presidency of Bush I. And they didn't use the really good stuff that they've developed since the current Bush has been in office. And so I think they would have liked a larger explosion.

But what we have now is a lot of finger-pointing, with the Bush people claiming that this was all Bill Clinton's fault when, in fact, they had enough plutonium for one to two bombs when Clinton was in office. They now have enough plutonium for eight bombs. And it's very serious, because if you have enough plutonium for eight, you're going to be tempted to sell, test, maybe use. And I think that this regime cannot be trusted. I think this is a very serious moment in the world's history.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How was this explosion connected to our elections three weeks from Tuesday, Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, it's not connected on the part of North Korea.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you sure of that? MR. BLANKLEY: I'm quite confident that they don't form their policy on that.

I want to make a more fundamental point, because this is an example of something that has been going on since 1946, or whenever the Soviets got it. No American president, no United Nations and no world diplomacy has been able to stop determined countries, whether it's Russia, France, Israel, India, Pakistan, now presumably North Korea, soon Iran, from getting a nuclear weapon. And it's now getting to the point where we're taking increasing steps toward the abyss.

And the idea of figuring out which president failed -- they've all failed and the whole world has failed. And it's a tremendous danger that this process continues on. And you have, supporting the failure, the nonproliferation bureaucracies and agencies and treaties that have existed for decades that are engaged in process rather than results. And so everything gets measured by are you moving the process along, and then every few years another country gets it. It's a tremendously dangerous process.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me give you the logic that someone seems to defy you of how this is related possibly to the American elections. Kim sees that Bush is way behind. It would take a miracle for him to win the elections. And Kim thinks that it's quite possible on Bush's part to unleash something against him in order to re-establish himself, i.e. Bush, as the great American leader who provides for our security by a preemptive strike.

MR. BLANKLEY: I think this is --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Just a moment. Therefore, he wants to show Bush that he has nuclear power and to deter Bush from bombing North Korea. Now, do you want to address yourself to that logic?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I'm struggling to address myself to it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you follow it?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yeah, I follow what you're saying. I think that is, shall we say, slightly far-fetched. What isn't far-fetched is the fact that North Korea has sold every bit of military technology they've had from the time they've had it. And the real danger is that they will sell this technology to somebody, and they'll sell it to anybody who has the money. And there is no way of controlling that. That presents a growing danger to everybody.

Now, Japan, for example, and South Korea are not going to develop the bomb as long as they believe the United States will provide cover for them. That is the one thing that I think is implicit in this.

MR. BUCHANAN: How long will they believe that, Mort? MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We went into --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That is a big question, okay, but --

MR. BUCHANAN: How long --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- for the moment, Japan certainly believes --

MR. BUCHANAN: How long --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- that we are providing nuclear protection.

MR. BUCHANAN: How long will they believe the United States nuclear umbrella is over them, that we will strike North Korea with nuclear weapons if North Korea uses nuclear weapons first? If I were Japan, I would be taking a look at my (hole/hold ?) card.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, we have a new --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Japan --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- (inaudible) -- over there who is committed to refortifying --

MR. BUCHANAN: But he said again, "We are not going to go to nuclear weapons."

MR. ZUCKERMAN: What he said was -- he used the word this would be a grave threat. That phrase "grave" is a term of art, and everybody knows what that means in the world of diplomacy. So we have put the language out there. And with all due respect, on this issue, I really think the United States will stand firm.

MS. CLIFT: The president has said it's intolerable, unacceptable, and the process goes ahead in both countries. I think this president has very little credibility on this issue.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What steps can be taken --

MS. CLIFT: The problem is --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- diplomatically to resolve this situation? I'm sorry, Eleanor. Go finish your point.

MS. CLIFT: If they do sell or convey this to al Qaeda, then I think that is the line in the sand --

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, we won't know that --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Right; it's too late.

MS. CLIFT: They ought to know that that would probably invite a nuclear reaction. MR. BLANKLEY: What does "They ought to know" mean? That's the --

MS. CLIFT: They'll know it if you talk to them.

MR. BLANKLEY: Oh, they'll tell us, "We're going to sell it to al Qaeda"?

MS. CLIFT: No. They'll understand what happens if they do.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The real issue here is China. China is the only country with real sway over North Korea. And China does not want North Korea to disappear. They're a buffer for them. And so the issue, in terms of the U.N., was whether or not we would try and literally board any ship that was coming to and from North Korea. That is considered an act of war unless it's justified by the U.N. And China has refused to take that step. And that's the only way we are going to have real control --

MR. BUCHANAN: China is scared to death --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- over the dissemination of it.

MR. BUCHANAN: They're scared to death of a collapse in North Korea.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's correct.

MR. BUCHANAN: It leads, one, to masses, hundreds of thousands of North Koreans in China; two, a unified Korea of 60 million people --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Right.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- which could turn hostile to China. They prefer a client state, like they've got right now.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Absolutely. That's exactly right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that this situation has united Japan and South Korea and even China?

MR. BUCHANAN: No, Japan has taken a tough line. They're with us. South Korea is going down the engagement road because it doesn't see any other. I can understand it.

MS. CLIFT: No --

(Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: One at a time. Eleanor. MS. CLIFT: It has united everyone to a certain extent. And the next step is to get the toughest sanctions that we can, which will not be very effective. But at some point you've got to engage North Korea. And I'm waiting for Jim Baker to arrive with his proposals after --

MR. BLANKLEY: Let me make one --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What may he try to propose?

MS. CLIFT: He's going to talk about broader engagement everywhere -- Syria, Iran. And he won't say it out loud and it won't happen right away, but North Korea eventually.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: China sent their deputy foreign minister to the leader of North Korea, and he would not see him. He sent him back saying, "If we talk," he said, "it'll widen the gap between us and China." I mean, that's just how extreme this guy is.

MR. BUCHANAN: You've got to talk to these guys.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: North Korea --

MR. BUCHANAN: You have to talk to them, because at the end of the road we don't want a nuclear weapon. If that means talking directly, we ought to do it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Should we tell North Korea that we will not attack North Korea?

MR. BUCHANAN: Sure, I'd give them security guarantees.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, what's the second step then?

MS. CLIFT: The administration --

MR. BUCHANAN: We ought to talk to them. I would engage with them. I would recognize them and everything. We don't want a war with North Korea. There's nothing in it for us.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Suppose North Korea says, "If you give us that assurance, we will denuclearize and we will obey the IAEA."

MR. BUCHANAN: I'd take it. We took it with Libya.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the third step?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: What do you mean? They cheated on the last agreement we had with them.

MR. BUCHANAN: I know it.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: How are you going to control -- MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Look, Pat --

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, what is the alternative?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat's doing very well. What's the third step in this series? The third step is --

MR. BUCHANAN: The third step is get the American troops out of South Korea. Get these paranoids not thinking we're coming after them, agree to engage, agree to recognition, agree to security guarantees --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, you forgot one thing.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- and tell them one thing.

MS. CLIFT: Sign a peace treaty to end the Korean War.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute.

MR. BUCHANAN: Tell them one thing: "If there is a weapon detected, given to al Qaeda, or explodes anywhere that is an ally of yours, it is all" --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The whole deal is off.

MR. BUCHANAN: Not only "The deal is off." "You are off."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, what about --

MR. BLANKLEY: How about --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about supplying them with two new reactors --

MR. BUCHANAN: I have no problem with that either.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- if they dismantle theirs?

MR. BUCHANAN: I have no problem with that either.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No problem with that?

MR. BUCHANAN: No.

MR. BLANKLEY: Let me give you a --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think that would cut it? You think he wants a deal?

MR. BUCHANAN: I don't know, but we ought to try it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think he wants a deal?

MR. BUCHANAN: Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you know that what we're doing in Macau, by cutting off his money supply, is killing him?

MS. CLIFT: I have another idea. MR. BLANKLEY: How about getting --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute.

MS. CLIFT: North Korea is the last vestige --

MR. BLANKLEY: She's talked three times so far.

MS. CLIFT: Oh, poor Tony.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Stop counting Eleanor's interventions.

MS. CLIFT: North Korea is the last vestige of the Cold War. How about signing a peace treaty? You know, the Korean police action that we call it is still technically going on.

MR. BLANKLEY: Let me give you --

MS. CLIFT: That might help with the paranoia.

MR. BLANKLEY: Let me give you one fact about the reality going on on that peninsula.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Help us.

MR. BLANKLEY: According to a poll this week, 60 percent of South Koreans want their government to go nuclear. Now, the government doesn't want to do it, but the people in that part of the world are terrified. They don't think you can cut a deal with these people.

MR. BUCHANAN: Right.

MR. BLANKLEY: And they want to start protecting themselves -- not us; they want to protect themselves.

MR. BUCHANAN: I would agree --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you see how this has united Japan and South Korea?

MR. BUCHANAN: The South Koreans are right. And frankly, so are the Japanese. Look, it's one thing to have China have weapons. It's another to have those rogues.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you want to say something?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, I --

MS. CLIFT: I want to make one more point, as long as we're talking about public opinion and China. The young people there like the fact that North Korea is nuclear, because they don't think North Korea would use it against them. And they like the fact that it checks U.S. power. MR. BLANKLEY: How many of these Chinese people did you meet with? (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: I interviewed them -- half a billion, Tony. Did you ever hear about polling?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Here you have about as clear a threat to the West as you could possibly imagine, and it is a perfect example of how the U.N. doesn't work, because Russia and China will not step up to the plate, no matter what happens. And this is going to be a perpetual problem for us.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think we should talk directly to the North Koreans?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, I think it --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Bilaterally.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, not bilaterally.

MS. CLIFT: Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They require bilateral talks.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Whatever they require -- the only country that has real influence on them is China. And we have to find a way to get China to work with them. And that's why we're doing the six-party talks.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The only country that has real influence is the United States, ultimately.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: China is the only one -- China provides them with food, with all kinds of support, for the reasons that Pat said.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is China encouraging the United States to talk bilaterally to North Korea?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is yes.

MR. BUCHANAN: Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit: Will diplomacy work with Kim Jong Il? Yes or no.

MR. BUCHANAN: It can work.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It can work. Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: It can work. And even this administration as much said this week there is no military option.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: Only Chinese diplomacy, backed by coercion, might work. Other than that, diplomacy will not work.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Without China, our diplomacy won't work. We cannot make it happen on our own, period -- no ifs, no ands, no buts.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Our diplomacy will work on its own, with the support of the other members, those who are participating in the discussions. Furthermore, the three steps outlined by Buchanan, under my prodding, would be the way to go.

When we come back, is the Iraq debacle finally drawing the fire from the military?

(Announcements.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Two: Course Correction.

PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape.) If the plan is now not working, the plan that's in place isn't working, America needs to adjust.

I completely agree.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It was a watershed moment for Iraq policy. Staying the course is out. Correcting the course is in. And the degree of correction is like north versus south.

General George Casey, the U.S. top commander in Iraq, gave the reason for the reversal.

GEN. GEORGE CASEY (Commander, Multinational Force Iraq): (From videotape.) We shouldn't try to sugar-coat this. The levels of violence over the last few weeks are as high as they have been.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Brits also want to pull out. Get this: Great Britain has a new army chief, General Sir Richard Dannatt. This new number one in the British army says that U.K. forces are making the security problem in Iraq worse.

General Dannatt also takes issue with Tony Blair. Blair wants troops to stay until Iraqi forces can take over. Dannatt says no. Quote: "We should get ourselves out sometime soon, because our presence exacerbates the security problems." And Dannatt says this includes security problems in London and security problems all around the world.

Question: Are America's generals coming to similar conclusions? I ask you, Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: They're not saying it out loud, but the generals have testified on the Hill and talked about the probability of civil war. And I think the president is suggesting that they have not asked for more troops.

But, look, the safety net is getting prepared, and I think Jim Baker is going to deliver it to the White House. And there's not a lot of things you can do. The Biden plan -- Senator Joseph Biden -- sort of federalism plus, recognizing that these are three distinct ethnic groups and basically dividing them, is one way to go. Or you can take what John Murtha is saying, John Kerry, some of the Democrats, Russ Feingold, basically redeployment in an orderly amount of time.

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, just to correct -- MS. CLIFT: And the third option would be to put more troops in, and that's not going to happen.

MR. BLANKLEY: Just to correct Eleanor's mischaracterization of what the generals said when they testified, they didn't say the probability of a civil war; they said the possibility of a civil war. There's a big difference.

Regarding your quote of the new general, he qualified it, saying it was taken out of context, and that, in fact, he wanted to -- he thought if we stay for two or three years more would be fine. So we're getting partial and misrepresentative statements --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't really believe that Tony Blair has enough power left to turn that man around.

MR. BLANKLEY: I think it's worth having the record accurate before you take --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I didn't see any retraction in what he said.

MR. BUCHANAN: But the real situation, John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I didn't see any retraction there.

MR. BLANKLEY: I just told you what the --

MR. BUCHANAN: John, let's talk about reality. At least Eleanor was dealing with reality. There's one option we've got, which is putting more troops in. We are not going to do that. We are not going to stay the current course, because we are losing the war if we're not winning the war -- if we're not losing it. So you've got to do something new and different, and the president is going to have to do it after November. And my guess is it's going to be a withdrawal of American forces.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, the president can do this: Roughing up Rummy.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, do you bear any responsibility for what has gone wrong in Iraq, or is it all General Casey's fault?

DONALD RUMSFELD (Secretary of Defense): (From videotape.) Oh, this is a question that gets asked every time there's a press conference. You know, "Give me all your (sevens ?). Tell us what you've done wrong." Why do we have to keep going through this? Of course I bear responsibility. My Lord, I'm secretary of Defense. Write it down. Quote it. You can bank it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The current supreme allied commander of Europe and a United States four-star general, James Jones, is quoted in the Bob Woodward book, "State of Denial." Jones is talking to his friend, Marine Corps General Peter Pace, who is now chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Jones says to Pace, "Military advice is being influenced on a political level," unquote.

And Jones goes on to say that the Joint Chiefs have, quote, "surrendered," unquote, to Mr. Rumsfeld. "You should not be the parrot on the secretary's shoulder," Jones cautions Pace, when Pace was about to become chairman.

Later, at NATO headquarters, General Jones told two visiting senators, quote, "The Joint Chiefs have been systematically emasculated by Rumsfeld." On a recent trip to Washington, General Jones did not dispute the book's accuracy. So says Washington Times columnists Bill Gertz and Rowan Scarborough.

Question: Is it your felt intuition that Bush and Rumsfeld are still on speaking terms? Or is he increasingly -- that is, Bush -- communicating with Rumsfeld through a third party? I ask you, Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, first of all, I'm always impressed with people who have to tell the courageous statement to an author after they've left office rather than to have stood up while they had responsibilities in office. So I'm always dubious of these sort of statements.

But regarding the relationship of Rumsfeld to Bush, while I have no first-hand knowledge of how they talk intimately, it's my sense that Bush is Rumsfeld's primary champion. And obviously they must have good working relations.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, I think there is a good dialogue with Rumsfeld and Bush, and especially with Rumsfeld and Cheney, because that is a long-standing relationship.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, that's a different relationship.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I understand. But Cheney can push --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to know whether Bush is in any way estranged from Rumsfeld.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, it would be a miracle, it seems to me, if Bush doesn't look at what's happened and say something went wrong. And he naturally is going to say, "What did my secretary of Defense do?"

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Bush is fond of Condi Rice and respects Condi Rice. Condi Rice's phone calls were not accepted by Rumsfeld, according to Woodward. MR. ZUCKERMAN: Absolutely. But, you know, look, Rumsfeld seems to have had a difficult time with the previous secretary of State, as well as with the current secretary of State. And yet Rumsfeld is still in office. He and Powell did not get along very well, obviously. And he really -- I mean, I think there's --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The book "Fiasco" by Ricks also helps to substantiate what we just heard here.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Look, I don't think there's any question at all --

MS. CLIFT: Look, Rumsfeld has made --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I don't think there's any question at all but that something has gone fundamentally wrong. Who appointed Bremer, who was really the total disaster of all appointees?

MS. CLIFT: Okay, Rumsfeld has made --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: And Rumsfeld had a clear hand in that.

MS. CLIFT: Rumsfeld has made --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: By disbanding the army.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: And de-Ba'athification and the dismantling of the Iraqi police. It was a disaster.

MS. CLIFT: Rumsfeld has made -- excuse me. Rumsfeld has made many mistakes, but the fault for this lies in the Oval Office, with the president and with Dick Cheney.

Rumsfeld did not pull this off on his own. And secondly --

MR. BUCHANAN: But Rumsfeld --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on.

MS. CLIFT: -- after the election, when they begin to bail out and extricate us from this, Rumsfeld may well be part of the shakeup to salvage the last two years of his presidency.

MR. BUCHANAN: If Rumsfeld goes, it will be like the Clark Clifford move in the Johnson administration. It will signal a change of direction. That direction will be starting out.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think Rumsfeld deserved those kinds of adjectives that were thrown at him here today?

MR. BUCHANAN: I think Rumsfeld's a very tough, capable guy.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Very capable. Very capable.

MR. BUCHANAN: And I do agree with Tony on this. If these guys are going to --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think the adjectives were unjustified?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, I mean, look --

MS. CLIFT: Very capable? It's a bigger disaster than Robert McNamara in Vietnam. Let's not shower him with adjectives that are wonderful.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I've had the occasion, because of a group called the Defense Business Board, to see how he works. And I have to tell you, in terms of the -- all it deals with is the management of the Pentagon, and that guy is an extraordinarily talented man --

MS. CLIFT: They hate him.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- in terms of the --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't think he's -- MS. CLIFT: They hate him.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Just because they hate him doesn't mean -- everybody doesn't have to like everybody.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He has not systematically eviscerated the military.

MR. BUCHANAN: The problem is, John, the policy has failed.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: He has dominated the military, without question. And the military deserve to be dominated.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, exit question: On a Douglas MacArthur straight-talk probability scale, zero to 10, zero meaning zero probability, 10 meaning metaphysical certitude, how probable is it that a senior American active-duty general of similar stature to MacArthur will publicly endorse British Army Chief Dannatt's views before the election?

MR. BUCHANAN: There is nobody of the stature of MacArthur in the world right now. But it's going to be almost zero, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that a zero?

MS. CLIFT: I wish. But I'll give it .1.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's not a zero?

MR. BLANKLEY: It's a zero, yeah.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that a zero?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: They're going to do it indirectly, as they did with Woodward's book. I mean, that's the way it's going to come out.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They will not surface, though, the way MacArthur did.

MR. BUCHANAN: MacArthur wouldn't have gone to Woodward.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: It's not the tradition of the American military to do that. We have a civil leadership of our military, and they won't do that. But privately they're going to express all of those reservations.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is a generous one.

Issue Three: Family Values.

"The term has been a registered trademark of the GOP for years, a bludgeon against Democrats who, by implication, oppose families and have no values. Like most political language, it's a code. Family values means the pol in question has God on speed-dial, and the pol can be counted upon to oppose gun control and the so-called homosexual agenda and abortion, while pushing schools to teach, as Tina Fey once put it, Adam and Eve rode to church on dinosaurs.

"For all its policy implications, though, family values has always had a larger meaning. It was an implicit promise to white, non-ethnic, rural or suburban-dwelling, church-going Christian moms and dads that the party would always do the right thing."

So wrote Leonard Pitts in his column in the Miami Herald last week.

On a political damage scale, zero to 10, zero meaning zero damage, 10 meaning metaphysical damage, annihilation, how much damage has the Foley affair and the annihilation of family values for any future utility to the Republican Party, perhaps the worst effect from a Republican point of view? It's gone.

MR. BUCHANAN: No, in the short it's a four to five, because it looks like Foley was up there; they had a nest of Foleys in there and it was a cover-up. It's a four or five for the election.

MS. CLIFT: Family values and Republicans has become a laugh line. And a new book by David Kuo, "Tempting Faith" -- he worked in the White House -- about how they used to joke about the fundamentalists, calling them nuts, will further alienate the evangelical community.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is family values now totally dead, gone, kaput for the Republicans?

MR. BLANKLEY: No. I agree with Pat. In the short term, in the next month, it's a three to four. In the long term, it's a one.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I don't think the family values issue is over with. That's absolutely an overstatement.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it a credit for the Republicans anymore?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Of course it will be. They have identified --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think it will revive?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Absolutely, it will. It's a long-term situation in this country. In the short term, as everybody says, it's going to --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How long will it be dead? A year? Two years? Five years? MR. ZUCKERMAN: I don't think it's dead even now.

MR. BUCHANAN: They're not like you, John. They don't run. Christians don't run like you.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Laughs.) You mean, leaving their wounded in the field?

MR. BUCHANAN: You're gone in 10 seconds.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We'll be right back with what's left of predictions.

(Announcements.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions, Pat, fast.

MR. BUCHANAN: Hastert and the rest of the Republican leadership gone in January, regardless what happens in the election.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: North Korea will test another nuclear device before Bush leaves office.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: Senator Allen of Virginia survived vicious ad hominem attacks on him, and he'll win re-election.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: By how much?

MR. BLANKLEY: Four and a half, five points.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Based on new intelligence, our counterterrorism forces are going to concentrate on second-generation Muslim youth to protect America.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OPEC notwithstanding, the Saudis will continue their high oil production rate or even jack it up, thus keeping gas prices low.

Bye-bye.

(PBS segment.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Four: It's the Economy Still, Stupid.

PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape.) I believe that we'll maintain control because we're on the right side of the economic issue and the security issue.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Despite the sea of troubles threatening to capsize Republican control of Congress in elections three weeks away, there is one bright spot on the GOP horizon -- the economy. But, of course, the Democrats want you to think that we're heading into a recession because of plunging home prices and high oil prices. Well, baloney.

Item: Energy prices plummet.

Item: Interest rates level off.

Item: Housing soft landing likely.

Item: Unemployment down.

Item: The incredible shrinking deficit.

Question: Despite this plethora of positive news, a Washington Post/ABC poll shows, by a 17-point margin, voters trust Democrats over Republicans to handle the economy. What gives? Can you speak to this, Mort?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yeah, what gives is the fact that the vast number of people who are in that poll are saying, "Hey, we're not doing very well. Somebody's doing well, but it's not us." Their real wages and real salaries have not gone up. People are working longer and borrowing money, but their real wages and salaries --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about all those indicators? They're all good.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The question is, who benefits from it all? And what is happening is that the benefits of this economy have skewed to corporate America and to the high-income people.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, we've lost 3 million manufacturing jobs, but we've added 2 million in health services. Health services don't pay as much.

MS. CLIFT: When the numbers come out about the profits of the big oil companies later this month, that'll be another indicator of who's doing well in this economy and who isn't.

END.