Share

THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP

HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN

PANEL: PATRICK BUCHANAN, MSNBC; ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK; TONY BLANKLEY, THE WASHINGTON TIMES; LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC

TAPED: WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 20, 2006
BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF DECEMBER 30-31, 2006

-----------------------------------------------------------------
Copyright (c) 2006 by Federal News Service, Inc., Ste. 500 1000 Vermont Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20005, USA. Federal News Service is a private firm not affiliated with the federal government. No portion of this transcript may be copied, sold or retransmitted without the written authority of Federal News Service, Inc. Copyright is not claimed as to any part of the original work prepared by a United States government officer or employee as a part of that person's official duties. For information on subscribing to the FNS Internet Service, please visit http://www.fednews.com or call(202)347-1400
-----------------------------------------------------------------


ANNOUNCER: It's the 25th annual McLaughlin Group year-end awards, 2006, part two. Here's the master of ceremonies, John McLaughlin.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Destined for political stardom. Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: Nicolas Sarkozy, the next president of France.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A gentleman, right?

MR. BUCHANAN: He's a man, yes.

MR. BLANKLEY: Whether he's a gentleman, we'll find out. (Laughter.) MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I'm going to go with the new secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, who said he didn't give up a job he loves as president of Texas A&M College to be a bump on a log in Washington. He is in a position to do what the Iraq Study Group couldn't do, and that is help lead this president out of Iraq.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He said it was the best job he's ever had, that Texas presidency, Texas A&M.

Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: Segolene Royal may be the next president of France.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is what confused me in the beginning. I thought he was saying that.

MR. BLANKLEY: No.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Please continue.

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, she's the Socialist candidate, and I think she's got a very good chance of being the next president of France.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And destined for political stardom.

MR. BLANKLEY: Which would give her some stardom, even in France.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence.

MR. O'DONNELL: Charlie Rangel, who will be the chairman of the Ways & Means Committee in the House. He's been waiting his whole political career for this. And he will be -- despite all the publicity about Nancy Pelosi, he will be the most powerful person in the Congress.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And she left him on that committee.

MR. O'DONNELL: She had no choice. Charlie Rangel's been in line to be chairman, once the Democrats take over, for years. And he will exercise that power wisely and strongly.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Destined for political stardom in 2007: Virginia's senator-elect, James Webb. He will emerge as the focus and spokesman for the nation's expanding antiwar mood.

Okay, destined for political oblivion. Patrick. MR. BUCHANAN: Nouri al-Maliki, I'm afraid. And you can sing "Auld Lang Syne" to Fidel and Saddam.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who's going to take al-Maliki's place?

MR. BUCHANAN: I think someone supported by Mr. Hakim.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, what is that?

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.) I'm not sure who they're going to decide on. But Sistani --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who's going to decide?

MR. BUCHANAN: Sistani and Hakim will decide --

MR. BLANKLEY: A Shi'ite not affiliated with Sadr and affiliated with al-Sistani.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: If he knew who the next leader of Iraq was going to be, that would be helpful for the president. So pass it along.

I got former Speaker Denny Hastert. He was an accidental speaker to begin with. He was a place-holder who lasted 10 years. We're not going to be talking about him anymore.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: Nick Lampson and Tim Mahoney. They replaced Tom DeLay and Mark Foley, two very Republican districts. You won't even have heard of them and they'll be gone.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence.

MR. O'DONNELL: Karl Rove, whose political wizardry has driven the Bush administration to this low point in the polls. He'll get a final turn in the spotlight as a witness in the Scooter Libby case, perhaps, if that case goes to trial. He won't be heard from after that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Destined for political oblivion: Outgoing Florida Governor Jeb Bush. It's very unfortunate, because Jeb has extraordinary political aptitude. His ratings are now in the 60s leaving government. The nation will not again elect a Bush to the White House. The dynasty is kaput.

Okay, best political theater. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: The mass demonstrations in Beirut after the assassination of Rafik Hariri resulted in the removal of the government -- basically resulted in the removal of Syrian troops and the Cedar Revolution; great theater. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: President Clinton versus Chris Wallace on Fox News. President Clinton accused Wallace of performing a conservative hit job. Wallace was doing his job. It was win-win for both of them. Clinton inspired Democrats to stand up to the right-wing conspiracy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clinton told him, "Wipe that smirk off your face." Did you hear that?

MS. CLIFT: I heard that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Good theater, huh?

MS. CLIFT: Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: I'm picking YouTube as the venue for continuing political theater. We've already seen it in this election cycle. We're going to continue to see that political theater being played out on YouTube on these --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Like what?

MR. BLANKLEY: "Macaca" -- I mean, one after the other. You're going to see political theater unwillingly --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean, breaking --

MR. BLANKLEY: -- unwillingly portrayed against politicians, yeah.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- breaking news.

Lawrence.

MR. O'DONNELL: The series of Senate campaign debates that Tim Russert ran on "Meet the Press" in most of the contested states; really good, solid debates.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Best political theater: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez at the United Nations. He blessed himself, he said, to ward off "El Diablo," the devil. And the devil, he said, was George Bush. And Bush had been at the U.N. rostrum the day before and left, Chavez said, "sulfurous fumes."

Okay, worst political theater.

MR. BUCHANAN: That was exactly it -- Hugo Chavez at the U.N. saying, "El Diablo was here and the sulfur smell survives." That was the worst political theater. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was it as good as Khrushchev?

MR. BUCHANAN: Huh? You mean, banging his shoe? It was -- no, it wasn't as good as Khrushchev.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think banging the shoe was superior to this.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think banging the shoe was superior.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Dick Cheney shooting his friend on a hunting trip. You can't --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In the face with pellets.

MS. CLIFT: In the face with pellets; and to be bipartisan, the discovery of $90,000 in the freezer of Congressman William Jefferson. (Laughter.) That's pretty bad theater as well.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Worst political theater.

MR. BLANKLEY: The Muslim demonstrations against the Danish cartoons. It had a countereffect to what they were hoping for, beginning to rally the West to the danger of radical Islam.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence.

MR. O'DONNELL: Rush Limbaugh's grotesque and false imitation of Michael J. Fox as Michael appeared in the commercials.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's either Lawrence's or Dick Cheney shooting his friend in the face with pellets on a hunting trip accidentally.

Okay, worst political scandal. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Let's see; Abramoff, Foley, Cunningham. Take your pick -- (laughs) -- all three; the Republican culture of corruption.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: All of the above, and then the House Ethics Committee votes unanimously that everybody behaved disgracefully in the Foley scandal. And what did they do about it? Nothing. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: The Foley/Hastert scandal, which cost the Republicans, by themselves, the House, is a double scandal -- Foley's pedophilic conduct and Hastert's failure to do anything about it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence.

MR. O'DONNELL: The high crimes of the Abramoff scandal are the worst things that the Republicans were actually up to in the House. But the timing of the Foley scandal was the most politically devastating.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The worst political scandal, as noted here, the sprawling web of Republican corruption -- Abramoff, Robert Ney, Michael Scanlon, Tom DeLay, David Safavian, Duke Cunningham. And there's more to come later on; small fish and big fish.

Okay, most underreported story of 2006. Patrick.

MR. BUCHANAN: The current account deficit, John, which is going to make the American dollar into the next North American peso. It's up around 7 or 8 percent of your gross national product.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: The Lancet report on the deaths of Iraqi civilians, which was meticulously researched by Johns Hopkins --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Six hundred and fifty thousand?

MS. CLIFT: -- 655,000. Now, that's my serious story that was underreported. But on the lighter side, the dream candidate, Barack Obama, smokes. Not many people know that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How much does he smoke?

MS. CLIFT: I don't know how much.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A cigarette a week?

MS. CLIFT: Any is enough.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: The Paris police union's report that they are facing an intifada from the Muslim suburbs of Paris, almost not reported at all. This is from the Paris police union itself.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence. (Inaudible.) Lawrence. MR. O'DONNELL: The horrible crisis in Darfur, which is reported but does not get the coverage that it deserves, given the magnitude of the tragedy. George Clooney has brought his efforts to get attention to it. But other than that, it is hard to get coverage of that crisis.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The most underreported story: Globalization and its negative impact on the middle class. That impact will soon spread to include not only manufacturing jobs but also skilled white-collar jobs.

Okay, the most overreported story of 2006. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Bird flu will kill us all, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Where did that -- that evaporated as a story.

MR. BUCHANAN: It's gone. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: TomKat's wedding.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: The waiting for the Baker-Hamilton report. There was the biggest buildup to the smallest dud.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence.

MR. O'DONNELL: The Duke lacrosse team criminal case. Let it just run its course. We don't have to be following it every day.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Most overreported story: 2008 presidential mania, the wannabes. We just got through the 2006 election cycle; 2008 can wait at least until the 4th of July. Give us a break already.

Okay, biggest government waste, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Four hundred billion dollars for a war Secretary of State Powell says we are not winning.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I agree with that. It's the Iraq war. Pick any part of it or all of it. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The position of the administration on that is we're not winning but we're not losing. You know it's impossible in any human activity to be either winning, not winning -- be not winning or not losing or winning and losing at the same time. You know that.

MR. BLANKLEY: No, I don't know that at all.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Something has to be going. It cannot be in a state of pure stasis. You know that.

MR. BLANKLEY: No, there can be a perfect balance between positive and negative events happening.

MS. CLIFT: It's called a quagmire.

MR. BLANKLEY: No, that would have been the case in 1943 in World War II, in 1863 in the Civil War.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The biggest government waste -- I'm sorry I brought that up -- $2 billion a week for the war in Iraq, right?

MR. BLANKLEY: The biggest waste is the Agency for International Development, which is incapable of developing anything internationally. It's a huge waste of money. They failed to build bridges in Afghanistan and around the world -- miserable. They should close down the program.

MR. BUCHANAN: Shut it down. Good for you.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think that's -- don't you think that's slightly excessive?

MR. BLANKLEY: No, it's too modest.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Natsios was selected, the former head of AID, to go over there to be the special envoy to Darfur. Am I right? Now, are you saying that he is painted with that brush? I don't believe that.

MR. BLANKLEY: I'm saying the bureaucracy that exists there is incapable of functioning.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Five hundred billion dollars to date. Is that what you're talking about?

MR. O'DONNELL: There's no greater waste than spending on a war that was a mistake.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And the cost of thousands of lives, American lives, and scores of thousands of injuries.

Okay, best government dollar spent. Pat. MR. BUCHANAN: The salary of the U.S. pilot that took out Zarqawi, who was a murderous devil who has ignited this ongoing Shi'a- Sunni war.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: The cooperative venture with Russia to find and buy up and secure loose nukes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: That's a very good one. Mine is the increased spending on brain trauma injury treatment for our returning vets. By the way, that was a program that was championed by now almost former Senator Allen.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence.

MR. O'DONNELL: Taking out Zarqawi was a pointless event when it happened, as I said on this show.

The best dollar we spend is still Social Security. It has done more to eliminate poverty in the elderly than anything else that's come along. It's a very successful, efficient government program.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Best government dollar spent: Funding the Iraq Study Group, a relatively minor investment. It opened a needed debate on Iraq.

Okay, boldest political tactic. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Kim Jong Il's July 4th rocket shoot. He fires off seven rockets. The big one goes off 45 seconds and blows up. One of them almost hits Siberia. It gets world attention for Kim Jong Il and North Korea.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And what does China do?

MR. BUCHANAN: China was ticked. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: China writes them out a big check. For some reason he has quieted down. It's because of China.

MR. BUCHANAN: It's because China said, "We control your oil and gas, and cut it out."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There's a lesson there for all of us -- buy them out.

MR. BUCHANAN: Don't mess with the Chinese.

MS. CLIFT: Boldest move: Barack Obama doing a tease for the NFL. And his next boldest move will probably be to run for president. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: Karl Rove's micro-targeting strategy --

MR. O'DONNELL: (Laughs.)

MR. BLANKLEY: -- an effort to overcome, with technical means, governing flaws of the Republican Party. It was a bold effort. It worked well, but not well enough.

MR. O'DONNELL: (Laughs.) It worked well.

Joe Lieberman for getting up off the mat when he was defeated in the primary and going as the independent Democrat and winning that race.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Boldest political tactic. Here's the backdrop: Keith Ellison is an incoming Democratic representative. He's from Minnesota. He's Muslim. And he's the first Muslim, first ever elected to the U.S. Congress. Ellison will take an oath of office next month with his hand on the Koran.

We'll be right back with more 2006 predictions.

(Announcements.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, best idea of 2006. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Seven hundred miles of security fence along the Mexican border.

MR. O'DONNELL: (Laughs.)

MR. BUCHANAN: Hillary votes for it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did she?

MR. BUCHANAN: Sure, she and Schumer.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Banning trans fats in New York restaurants.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What he said is going to come back and haunt Hillary. You know that, that kind of a vote.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: Hillary's running a general election campaign. MR. BLANKLEY: The decision by the World Health Organization and the EPA to start using DDT again to kill mosquitoes to fight malaria, which was taken off of the market as a result of Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring," and millions of children in Africa died because of it. Thank goodness we're using that DDT again.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So you're a DDT rooter.

MR. BLANKLEY: I'm a DDT man, yeah.

MR. O'DONNELL: Jack Murtha's idea that we redeploy the troops in Iraq, pull them back, which, by the end of the year, was largely endorsed by the Iraq Study Group and Jim Baker.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Best idea of 2006: YouTube. You can upload and download over 100 million videos (there on view ?). Google bought YouTube for one and a half billion dollars. Maybe it was over two and a half billion dollars. It has the potential of changing politics and science and journalism and gossip and social manners in unpredictable and wild ways, Pat. Check it out.

Okay, worst idea of 2006.

MR. BUCHANAN: Israel's decision, after two of its soldiers were captured, to smash Lebanon rather than go in and clean out Hezbollah -- horrible mistake, disaster for Lebanon, injured Israel's reputation; has enhanced the prestige of Hezbollah all over the Middle East.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that now the IDF is taking the rap on that?

MR. BUCHANAN: The IDF -- the commander, the chief of staff of the Israeli air force, is the guy that ran this operation. It was a horrible, horrible mistake, worst in Israel's --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The IDF had been neglected over the years.

Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Worst idea: Contact O.J. Simpson and get him to write a book -- (laughter) -- "How I Did It" -- "If I Did It." It cost Judith Regan her job at HarperCollins.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: Worst idea was keeping Denny Hastert as speaker after the Foley scandal broke and his negligence was manifest. If they got rid of him that week, the Republicans would probably still hold the House.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence. MR. O'DONNELL: Worst idea is increasing troops, the American troop presence in Iraq by significant numbers. It's supported by about 12 percent of the American public. And if John McCain clings to that, his candidacy could go down.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Worst idea: World Cup French soccer captain Zinedine Zidane head-butts Italian player at the World Cup, gets removed from the match, and so the French team loses their best kicker and the French team loses the match.

Okay, sorry to see you go. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Jack Palance, Wilson the gun fighter in "Shane" -- great actor, great patriot; and my old friend, Milton Friedman.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Senator Lincoln Chafee, who lost his bid for re- election. You've got to love a Republican who wrote in Bush 41's name rather than vote for Bush 43.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, Chafee's, of course, still alive and flourishing.

MS. CLIFT: I didn't take this as a death. I said he lost his bid for re-election.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you've got an interesting --

MS. CLIFT: He's probably got a much happier life.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- twist. It is a death of sorts.

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, I took the category the same way as Eleanor. It's a political departure -- Governor Ehrlich of Maryland, such a great governor. He probably would have had a chance to be on the national ticket; so good, even The Washington Post endorsed him as the Republican candidate for governor of Maryland. Sorry to see him leave politics for a while.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence.

MR. O'DONNELL: I'm with Eleanor -- Lincoln Chafee, who replaced his father in the Senate when his father died. That seat has been held by a Chafee for decades, and the Chafee presence in the Senate will be missed.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In the political arena, Caspar Weinberger, Lyn Nofziger, Lloyd Bentsen, political professionals all, wholly dedicated to their high calling and their arduous craft.

Okay, 15 minutes of fame. MR. BUCHANAN: O.J.'s book, "If I Did It." (Laughs.) It was on the bestseller list for 12 hours.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Ned Lamont, the antiwar candidate, who up-ended Joe Lieberman in the Democratic primary and put the country on notice that there was a segment of people who really don't like this war.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: Ned Lamont, who now has to get back on the waiting list to get into the restricted Greenwich country club.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence.

MR. O'DONNELL: Mark Foley, who the country had never heard of, an obscure Florida congressman who helped hand the House over to the Democrats.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Fifteen minutes of fame: John Yoo, Y-O-O, Berkeley professor. His theory of unitary government gives Mr. Bush unlimited power, unlimited, as commander in chief. 2007 will be the year when Yoo's theory ends up on the rubbish heap of history, where it belongs.

Okay, best spin of the year.

MR. BUCHANAN: Mark Foley's attorney. He came out and read a statement by Mark saying, "I am a gay American. I am an alcoholic. I was abused by my clergyman. Nevertheless, I take full responsibility."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Best spin: "We're not winning, but we're not losing." As you said earlier, what does that mean? I think it means quagmire, stasis, sideways. It's not a strategy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There's no stasis in those situations -- none.

MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony. MR. BLANKLEY: Democratic Party's claim in the campaign season that they were going to end corruption and special-interest involvement in Washington. It worked briefly. They will be proven wrong, but it was great spin while it lasted.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence.

MR. O'DONNELL: The best spin out there is being done by Kevin Sheekey, who is Mayor Bloomberg's political mastermind, who has created the Bloomberg for president media boomlet that's out there, without any real help from Bloomberg himself.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't think that Bloomberg created that in his heart?

MR. O'DONNELL: I don't know what's in Bloomberg's heart. But I know Kevin Sheekey, his political guru, is pushing it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think he's the best candidate in the field now -- not candidate, but he would make the best prospective president?

MR. O'DONNELL: Strongest independent candidate.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What does that mean?

MR. O'DONNELL: It means you can win in this country if you're a billionaire who wants to run for president. Ross Perot showed that. If Ross Perot hadn't turned crazy by the end of the campaign, he could have won.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Perot got, what, 23 percent of the vote?

MR. BUCHANAN: Nineteen.

MR. O'DONNELL: Perot beat Clinton in some states.

MR. BUCHANAN: He got 7 percent in '96.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What'd he get?

MR. BUCHANAN: He got 19 in 1992, 7 in '96.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Best spin of the year: Bush officials say that if we withdraw from Iraq, disaster will follow. We heard the same canard about Vietnam and we withdrew.

MR. BUCHANAN: And disaster followed.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Asian dominoes did not fall. Today we have permanent normal trade relations with Vietnam and we regard Vietnam as a friendly country. Okay, the most honest person.

MR. BUCHANAN: I'm going to give it to Robert Gates for that single moment when the senator asked him, "Are we winning in Iraq?" and Gates said, "No, sir."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Indiana Senator Evan Bayh, who said he was dropping out of the '08 presidential race because he can't win. He didn't say it was for family reasons. He was honest.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: Eric Cantor, Republican congressman from Virginia, who promised that he would support Roy Blunt in running for whip. His own members were urging him to break his word and run. He would have won. He could be in leadership. He gave it up to be honest.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence, quickly.

MR. O'DONNELL: The group of retired generals who came out against the Bush policy in Iraq.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Most honest person of the year: David Walker, head of the Government Accountability Office. In testimony before Congress and on television, Walker speaks candidly and honestly and solitarily about the cost of the war and reconstruction.

Okay, the most overrated. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: James Baker and Lee Hamilton, ex equo. (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: Karl Rove, who, days before the midterm election, claimed that he had the math and all the polls were wrong.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: Barack Obama, who is today's most overrated politician.

MR. O'DONNELL: Ned Lamont, who I personally overrated and thought could beat Joe Lieberman after first thinking Lieberman would beat him, but then Lieberman came back and won.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Abu Musaab al-Zarqawi. We were told that taking him out would be a colossal setback for insurgents. Well, we took him out in 2006, this year, in June. Zarqawi was killed by a U.S. bomb. Since then, attacks have only escalated.

The most underrated, Pat. We have about half a minute.

MR. BUCHANAN: Howard Dean really hasn't gotten credit for his 50-state strategy, which quite frankly worked. MS. CLIFT: Right. That's exactly my nomination. Kudos to Howard Dean.

MR. BLANKLEY: Hillary Clinton, who people are saying can't win, et cetera. I think she's in a powerful position.

MR. O'DONNELL: John Kerry, who, despite conventional wisdom, is not out of the running for the 2008 nomination.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Laura Bush and her influence on her husband's policies and politics.

We'll be right back.

(Announcements.)

Okay, macro predictions. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Because of the collapsing dollar and the problems in the American economy, it is the recession of 2007 which will make it another -- how do they pronounce it -- annus horribilis for George W. Bush.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The queen of England said that -- annus horribilis.

MR. BLANKLEY: About the Windsor castle.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What year?

MR. BUCHANAN: It's about -- that was the death of Diana, 1996.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Well, looking ahead for the next two years, with the Democrats starting investigations looking into various aspects of the Iraq war and reconstruction, I think there will be at some point a constitutional confrontation over subpoenas, with the White House not wanting to comply.

And secondly, I think a lot of people are going to be leaving the Bush administration because they don't want to be there when the ship goes down. And they're going to have a really hard time filling some of those jobs with the Democratic Senate and confirmation taking months and the administration winding down. It's not going to be pretty within the Bush administration. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: Unless diplomacy works, and it doesn't look like it's going to, I think there's a high likelihood that President Bush will bomb Iran in 2007.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Unlikely?

MR. BLANKLEY: Likely, highly likely, in the absence of successful diplomacy, which he's trying at but which seems to be failing on all fronts.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence.

MR. O'DONNELL: There's no chance of him doing that. And when we do leave Iraq, which will probably not happen under -- it certainly won't happen under this presidency -- all hell will break loose. But if we manage the aftermath of the terrible disaster that occurs after we leave, if we manage that aftermath correctly, then American presidents will be able to visit Iraq a couple of decades from now just as safely as they visit Vietnam.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I don't think Gates will go for that idea of bombing.

MR. BLANKLEY: He's not president.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I don't think he's going to be overruled.

Erosions of civil liberties, religious fundamentalism also, have created a backlash. Personal freedom will now be in demand. Our culture and our politics will be modified by an attitude of favor towards libertarian thinking. This translates into political support for moderates and liberals. Authoritarianism is on its way out. The shackles are off, Pat. The mirth revolution is underway, along with the libertarians.

MR. BUCHANAN: Authoritarianism is not dead. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Libertarianism is on its way. Take note.

Okay, New Year's resolutions. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: I'll try to get finished and published my history tome of the British empire, "Churchill, Hitler and the Unnecessary War."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Now that Tony's down to his fighting weight, congratulations, Tony, on losing your evil twin. (Laughter.) I'm going to be nicer -- maybe.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: With the exception of Eleanor, I'm going to get tougher on Democrats. I've been too nice this year.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.

MR. O'DONNELL: I will write no books, but I'll try to read one of Pat's. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: More mirth in my new year. That's my New Year resolution. Mirth is underrated and so is unadulterated exuberance. Laughter is healthy and needed, so I'm going to seek more.

Happy New Year.

Gerald Ford, the 38th U.S. president. Was his pardon of Richard Nixon in 1974 the real reason why he lost the '76 election to Jimmy Carter? The McLaughlin Group, next week.

END.