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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP

HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN

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

TAPED: FRIDAY, APRIL 20, 2007
BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF APRIL 21-22, 2007

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THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.
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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Hearts With Sorrow.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: (From videotape.) It was the worst day of violence on a college campus in American history. And for many of you here today, it was the worst day of your lives. Laura and I have come to Blacksburg today with hearts full of sorrow.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Once again, America is in shock; another public homicidal rampage. A lone gunman has committed the worst mass shooting in American history. The place: Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Virginia Tech, a sprawling campus of 25,000 students in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Blacksburg, Virginia. The toll: Nearly 60 casualties, with 33 students and teachers shot dead, including the killer.

The shooter: Cho Seung Hui, a 23-year-old English major who moved to the United States with his family, father, mother and sister, from South Korea 15 years ago. Immigration status: Permanent U.S. resident. Cho lived on the Virginia Tech campus. Throughout the week, the stunned family, students and faculty mourned together in an ocean of grief.

Question: There is a school of thought that Americans are not as shocked by these murders as by previous atrocities because we are becoming numb to violence. Is there evidence to buttress that viewpoint? Well, we can start with the death toll in Iraq and daily suicide bombings there, plus Columbine and the Amish school shooting, all drenching the TV screen.

What about that, Pat Buchanan? Are we getting numb so that this atrocity doesn't mean as much as it should?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, this atrocity was so huge, John, that it really impacted the nation. But we have had horrors like Oklahoma City and the ones you mentioned, people shot in post offices and McDonald's, cut down dozens of people.

But one of the problems here, why we get them repeated, John, is that this guy, this assassin, this murderer, got exactly what he wanted. He got to tell his story in his words, the two-gun avenger in his face on national TV and world TV. He immortalized himself.

Those kids down there in Blacksburg are going to be forgotten in a couple of weeks or a month, and he's going to be as remembered as Lee Harvey Oswald and Dylan of Columbine. And that's one reason, I think, John, you keep getting these things is they seek a certain reward, these losers and loners full of rage and resentment. And we, because it is news, we give it to them.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that these killings have kindled a sense of national vulnerability?

MS. CLIFT: Well, I think initially there was a little nervousness that this was an act of terrorism, that maybe this was the Manchurian candidate somehow come to our shores. Well, that was quickly disabused. This man was from South Korea, but he'd been in this country since he was 8 years old. And this could have been an American.

We have seen this movie many times before, and there's a predictability about it. And the easy access to guns is part of the American tragedy. And President Bush laments what happened. He let the assault weapons ban lapse two years ago. He has allowed laws to relax about gun ownership during his tenure. So I think our attitude towards guns is part of what happened here.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think we've become complacent towards violence?

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, I take your point as a general proposition. I think there is a numbing effect. It's happening in Iraq. I've talked to Iraqis who tell me that the response to the constant killing is a certain numbness. We don't have it here at the pace and intensity as Iraq. And clearly this week Americans were not numb to what happened in Virginia. It was an intense emotional response around the country. I was at a number of meetings with just folks who you couldn't be at a lectern and talking and not talk about it because it was so intensely in the air.

As far as the broader issues, we have this commonplace. Every time we do have a terrible event, everybody brings out their hobby horses and whatever issues they want, whether it's a culture of violence or not enough guns or too many guns. Everybody loads up these tragedies with their own political agendas. And nothing ever happens, of course.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The crime rate is being raised around the country, and it's escalating -- crime is escalating in Iraq, but also killings in Iraq. We've lost 3,300-plus Americans there, which, on a ratio basis of what we've lost in Virginia Tech, is about 100-to-1. And the average age of the Americans dying in Iraq is about 23 years of age, for 26-and-a-half percent of all those killed. So that's about 850, as I am computing it in my head now, or recomputing it.

So isn't there a sense of helplessness that's descended on the scene, the ease with which this killer was able to do it, even to the point of sending out a videotape in between the killings?

MR. O'DONNELL: Well, it was a high-tech exercise. I don't really see a connection between our reaction to Iraq violence and this. This nation has mourned this event. I saw people in California with no relatives involved who were crying about this. People know how to feel this.

What's interesting to me in the introductory piece is that the president found a way of making this historic. The way he chose to make it historic was to say this was the largest killing that occurred in the history of this country on a college campus.

John McLaughlin got it right in the introduction. He said it was the largest case of gun murder in the history of this country. It was a high-tech killing because the magazines that he was using in his automatic weapon were illegal during the Clinton administration.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're talking about --

MR. O'DONNELL: The magazines. He would not have been able to buy them if George Bush and the Republican Congress did not allow them --

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, let me make two --

MR. O'DONNELL: -- to become sold to mentally ill people like this.

MR. BUCHANAN: Okay, look, the Civil War, John, our country was one-tenth the size it is now. We killed 3,000 --

MR. O'DONNELL: That's a war, Pat. That's a war, a declared war.

MR. BUCHANAN: Keep quiet a second.

MR. O'DONNELL: It's a totally different --

MR. BUCHANAN: Three thousand Americans every single week for 200 weeks. If there had been a guy on that campus, which was gun-free thanks to the legislature of Virginia, if there was a guy on that campus, an off-duty cop with a hidden gun, he could have taken that guy out.

MR. O'DONNELL: Let me tell you who was on that campus. There were kids on that campus who were brave enough and big enough to stop one person with a gun unless it was an automatic weapon that could spray the bullets -- just spray them, Pat. That's why they couldn't stop him.

MR. BUCHANAN: He didn't spray them.

MR. O'DONNELL: He sprayed them.

MR. BUCHANAN: Who stopped him? Men with guns came on the campus, the good guys.

MR. O'DONNELL: That's right. But if he had --

MR. BUCHANAN: If they had been on campus, there wouldn't have been that problem.

MR. O'DONNELL: If he had to squeeze one bullet at a time --

MR. BUCHANAN: He did.

MR. O'DONNELL: No, he didn't.

MR. BUCHANAN: It is not a --

MR. O'DONNELL: You hold that trigger and it sprays.

MR. BUCHANAN: You don't know anything about guns.

MR. O'DONNELL: That's what he was doing.

MR. BUCHANAN: That's a semiautomatic weapon.

MR. O'DONNELL: He was spraying the bullets.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on, please.

MR. BUCHANAN: This is ridiculous.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, campus lockdown.

MR. BLANKLEY: It wasn't an automatic weapon.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Should we change campus security so that universities will be like airports, controlled access points, magnetometers, screening, even removing shoes?

STEVEN HEALEY (St. Edwards University security official): (From videotape.) The openness is essential to the business of education in this country. And so we absolutely have to maintain that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Not necessarily. Many believe that universities must limit outside threats by closing the open door of academia.

ADAM THERMOS (Strategic Technology Group): (From videotape.) We cannot stay in this state of mind today. We are past 9/11. We are past Columbine. We have learned nothing.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: To fulfill this thinking, do we need a law banning handguns from colleges, Pat --

MR. BUCHANAN: You've got that --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- even though Virginia Tech had a strict gun ban?

MR. BUCHANAN: John, there is a law in Virginia -- that's what I'm telling you -- that bans guns, concealed guns, on campus. He violated it. If the law-abiding guys had a gun, they could have stopped this.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but Virginia is for gun lovers. You're allowed to buy one gun a month.

MR. BUCHANAN: Every 30 days.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, every 30 days. I mean, why does anybody need to buy a gun every 30 days?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Should we have a federal law banning guns on college campuses?

MR. BLANKLEY: Let me --

MS. CLIFT: You know, we probably already do. But the point is --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Sixteen college campuses have such a ban.

MS. CLIFT: The point is, we've already criticized President Bush and the Republicans. The Democrats have been rather quiet on gun control too, because this is a gun culture we live in and they believe they have lost seats about it. So it is a --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's hear from Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: Let me get a point in.

MS. CLIFT: -- pro-gun climate on Capitol Hill.

MR. BLANKLEY: We should not lock up the universities. From time to time a maniac comes along and does something. If he'd wanted to set fire to a dormitory with a can of gasoline, he could have killed hundreds of people. Maniacs can find a way to kill people; McVeigh with fertilizer in a truck.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me --

MS. CLIFT: You don't have to make it easy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will you please relinquish when you hear my voice?

Question: Is there anything in the Second Amendment that says that foreigners like Cho should have a right to keep and bear arms? Do you know the answer to that?

MR. BLANKLEY: Usually --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is there anything in the Constitution that says he should have a right to bear arms?

MR. BLANKLEY: Usually I think the courts have interpreted that once you're legally in the country, you're entitled to the constitutional provision.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's not true. Only Americans can have guns under the Constitution.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, how would your law have saved a single --

MR. BLANKLEY: I think you're being literal.

MR. BUCHANAN: How would your law have saved a single guy down there at Virginia Tech since this guy illegally brought his gun onto campus, illegally discharged it, and murdered people? How would you have saved anybody?

MS. CLIFT: There are disturbed people in every society. But America makes it especially easy to be able to acquire weapons that are not meant for sportsmen. They are only designed to kill people.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If campuses are transformed into closed facilities with everything but drawbridges and moats --

MS. CLIFT: That's not going to happen.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- will that harm the university experience? I ask you, O'Donnell.

MR. O'DONNELL: Well, one of the oldest university experiences in the country has that capacity. The Harvard Yard is enclosed by brick, and they can actually close the gates, and do at night. But most campuses, it's impossible. These have become pretty big cities, these 24,000-person campuses. And so you can't expect anything like that.

What you have to look for is, as a society, exactly how difficult, how difficult do we want to make it for madmen like this to get guns? And right now what we're saying is we'd like to make it as easy as possible.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can we talk about the responsibility of the administration of the campus in question? The campus counselor was notified. The campus police were notified. The local police -- was it Blackstone?

MR. BUCHANAN: Blacksburg.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Blacksburg. They were notified. He was tested for psychiatric problems. Two of his teachers notified the administration. Do you think that the administration was unnecessarily cautious in handling this and taking -- is it your view that the administration -- right now the administration appears to be going downhill as far as their defense of themselves in this situation. Is that your intuition? And should they --

MR. O'DONNELL: I think they did a great job. I think they were very conscientious. It's a story of a lot of people converging here.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why did they not stop this?

MR. O'DONNELL: They did everything they could possibly do.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why did --

MR. O'DONNELL: What were they supposed to do, put him in handcuffs? He hadn't done anything.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why didn't they evict him from the college?

MS. CLIFT: It's very difficult to know where the signs lead when you cross over from somebody who is not only suicidal but also --

MR. BLANKLEY: Let --

MS. CLIFT: -- homicidal. Excuse me. I get to finish too. Eight of his professors had actually banded together and they had sort of a buddy system, they were so afraid of this guy. And they'd gone to the administration twice. But again, where do you draw the lines? I think now you're going to see --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I gave you the list of --

MS. CLIFT: You're going to see -- well, yes, it would be nice if they actually saw what a threat he was. And I think you are going to see on college campuses threat assessment groups grow up with police, with counselors --

MR. BLANKLEY: Let me get in here a second.

MS. CLIFT: -- to try to assess this.

MR. BLANKLEY: Look, the privacy rights that have been -- and the rights of people who are mentally insane but not necessarily committing a crime, so we can't lock them up -- we used to lock people like this up until 1965, 1970. We opened the insane asylums. And there's a good argument for it, because most --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, let me ask you this.

MR. BLANKLEY: -- because most of them are not, in fact, dangerous. Now, it's easier, though -- if you want to protect society, it's easier to reround up the maniacs than reround up 200 million guns.

MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me ask you this final question on this, in the interest of public policy. Should there be a federal law that protects -- draws a cordon around college presidents to permit them to discharge a student who appears to be a psychotic or so irregular in his behavior that he's become dangerous to his fellow students without fear on the part of that college president of being challenged by frivolous lawsuits?

MR. BUCHANAN: They are challenged all the time. You cannot take away certain constitutional rights to sue. And I don't think the federal government can do it. But John, the point is, this guy should have been in an institution. He should never have been able to --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You've got the problem of -- you've got the privacy issue which protects him to some extent.

MR. BUCHANAN: Look, John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why can't we build a shield law, a shield law for college presidents?

MR. O'DONNELL: (Inaudible.)

MR. BUCHANAN: Look, I agree, there are -- well, you can tort reform and all these other things to get these guys off the campus, exactly.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Is the answer to the security question not improving hard security, like the airport screening variety, but improving soft security, the human systems that exist to monitor and report, then to isolate aberrant behavior? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think you've got to do a lot more, quite frankly, to find and get these people and get them out of there. But let me tell you, he would have killed people on the job he went to after he left Blacksburg. This guy was a time bomb waiting to murder people.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't want to see anything like airport security.

MR. BUCHANAN: No, I don't want to see that on campuses.

MS. CLIFT: I remember when they first installed metal detectors in the local high schools here in Washington, and I was horrified at first. And then I recognized that they were a welcome addition. You can't do that on college campuses, however.

But let's keep this in perspective. Mass killings are still very rare.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, look --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the answer to the question?

MR. BLANKLEY: The answer is probably no change in law and practices; a rare, thankfully, event. And I don't think we should pay the price in giving up privacy rights for people. I don't want to have any institution passing around medical reports of people randomly who have not committed any crime. So I think we have to pay the price in freedom of once in a while a maniac getting hold of something and killing people.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The point of the question was, should we go the direction of soft security and not hard security and concentrate on people and not on objects, even at our airports, as the Israelis tend to do and others? Do you follow me?

MR. O'DONNELL: He could not possibly have killed those people with a knife. It could not be done. We will not do -- Tony's right; we'll do absolutely nothing, because the thing to do is real gun control, and the political class in this country will never do it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, that's the tendency of Americans to go after the object instead of going after the --

MR. O'DONNELL: The object did --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- instead of focusing --

MR. O'DONNELL: Give him a knife and see how far he gets.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I've read those statistics. But also I think the research on whether or not a gun-free culture reduces murders -- well, even there you get into a problem because --

MS. CLIFT: We're not talking about --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- you've got all kinds of other characteristics in play, including the human being.

MS. CLIFT: Well, we're not talking about a gun-free culture. We're talking about stiffer laws so people have a harder time getting them.

MR. BUCHANAN: You've got them --

MS. CLIFT: Excuse me.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let her finish, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: All right.

MS. CLIFT: Excuse me. Now you can buy an AK-47 online for $399.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about that, Pat?

MS. CLIFT: And maybe you know all about that.

MR. BUCHANAN: You've got the toughest gun laws in the world right here in Washington, D.C.

MR. O'DONNELL: Republicans --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let him finish.

MR. BUCHANAN: Let me finish. You've got the toughest gun laws in the country in Washington, D.C. Has that ended gun crime? No. The killers got guns. The robbers got guns. The burglars got guns. The free people don't have them.

MS. CLIFT: That's the NRA line. Lots of free people have guns too, and nobody's talking about taking away their rights.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Two: International Fallout.

As the homicidal horror at Virginia Tech unfolded, it wasn't just Americans reacting with horror and with disgust. News outlets from around the globe brought the tragedy home to millions of international viewers. In the United Kingdom --

BRITISH NEWS ANNOUNCER: (From videotape.) Details are emerging rapidly this lunchtime about the massacre in Virginia.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In Germany, across the Arab world, banner headlines on the front pages of newspapers and magazines from South America to Asia. And governments reacted as news of the mass killings spread; sympathy from South Korea.

CHO BYUNG-JE (South Korean Foreign Ministry): (From videotape.) The Korean people and the Korean government would like to express our heartfelt condolences.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Moralizing from the prime minister of Australia.

JOHN HOWARD (prime minister of Australia): (From videotape.) We took action to limit the availability of guns, and we shared a national resolve that the gun culture that is such a negative in the United States would never become a negative in our country.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's ignore Prime Minister John Howard's sanctimony. Foreign countries with stricter gun laws will blame our, quote-unquote, "gun culture." But those killed in the Virginia Tech attacks included victims from all around the world. Their killer was also a foreigner. The killers at 9/11 were foreigners, but most of the dead were Americans.

So are these two tragedies more a reflection on the rest of the globe than America? Are Americans entitled to feel that they are being victimized as a consequence of their open society, which welcomes foreign visitors and immigrants? I ask you, Pat Buchanan. Quick answer.

MR. BUCHANAN: Look, no, the Koreans are a very law-abiding people, for one thing, John. And 9/11 is utterly different. That was a deliberate mass murder by foreigners attacking the United States.

MS. CLIFT: The world is aghast at the way we are drenched in gun violence, and they're right. And I think the Australian --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it a bum rap because these crimes were committed by foreigners?

MS. CLIFT: No, absolutely not. They could have been Americans. We've had many crimes here committed by Americans.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you see the point of the question?

MR. BLANKLEY: I understand the point. I don't agree with it. The propensity to violence is inherent in humans, not in any particular group. I would point out that right now London has a higher crime rate than New York. I'm sick of Europeans expressing that America is a violent country. Europe has been the most violent continent for 2,000 years.

MS. CLIFT: They don't have guns.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.

MR. O'DONNELL: Timothy McVeigh was not a foreigner. The shooter from the Texas tower was not a foreigner. The Columbine kids were not foreigners. It has nothing to do with that. Eleanor is right. The Australians are right. We are wrong.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it nevertheless a bum rap for foreigners to bill us as being victims or proponents of a gun culture?

MR. O'DONNELL: We have a fetishistic gun culture in this country that leads to these things inevitably.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But the foreigners -- the volume of the deaths caused by these crimes exceeds any volume of any combination of other mass murderers in our history, 9/11 and Virginia Tech.

MS. CLIFT: We have 240 million guns in this country. And the number of gun deaths, unnecessary gun deaths, every year would dwarf any figures that you just cited.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer to my question: It is a bum rap and it's a dirty rap.

Issue Three: Gonzales Grilled.

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALBERTO GONZALES: (From videotape.) I've already said that I misspoke. It was my mistake.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Alberto Gonzales, America's embattled attorney general, this week resisted growing calls for his resignation, despite a series of damaging blows from hostile lawmakers in the much-awaited Senate hearing.

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT): (From videotape.) The Department of Justice should never be reduced to another political arm of the White House. Today the Department of Justice is experiencing a crisis of leadership perhaps unrivaled during its 137-year history.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Democrats allege that Mr. Gonzales drew up the list that designated which of America's 93 federal attorneys should be sacked. The basis for the eight firings was in part whether the attorneys were, quote-unquote, "loyal Bushies," terms used in one of the Bush administration's e-mails last month.

Democrats also allege that some firings took place for the partisan reasons of Karl Rove, who has refused to testify under oath and in public before the Senate. Gonzales reiterated his central proposition, which he said legally justified the resignation.

ATTY GEN. GONZALES: (From videotape.) U.S. attorneys serve at the pleasure of the president.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Why is President Bush sticking so tenaciously by Gonzales? This is an exit question. What do you think, Pat? Why is he?

MR. BUCHANAN: Deep personal loyalty.

MS. CLIFT: He's passing the buck to Gonzales, who is expected to volunteer to resign.

MR. BLANKLEY: I don't know that he is tenacious. A lot of people in the White House are making a lot of negative noises. I'm not sure how long the White House will stick with him.

MR. O'DONNELL: Because whenever a problem like this erupts in the Bush administration, Bush and Karl Rove are experts at making it worse.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You are all correct.

Will Gonzales resign? And, if so, when? Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: By Memorial Day.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: By the end of the month, maybe by the end of next week.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: I think he's going to try to hold on. I'm not sure whether he can.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence.

MR. O'DONNELL: Pat Buchanan's right; by Memorial Day.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: By May 1st he will resign.

Bye-bye.

(PBS segment.)

Issue Four: CrackBerry Addiction.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The BlackBerry is currently the nation's leading wireless e-mail hand-held. BlackBerry subscribers, it seems, can become totally dependent on the device -- so dependent, in fact, that they are unable to cope without it.

Last Tuesday night, BlackBerry North America suffered a service failure lasting 12-plus hours. Subscribers panicked.

BLACKBERRY USER: (From videotape.) The best way I would describe it is like being put on an island, a deserted island by yourself, and you have no access to the outside world.

BLACKBERRY USER: (From videotape.) I felt totally cut off. I'm totally dependent on my mobile device, on my BlackBerry device. And I was very uncomfortable and very vulnerable.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know a lot about addictions, Lawrence --

MR. O'DONNELL: Yes, I do.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- with all due respect. What gives the addictive power to the BlackBerry? And what did you think of that gentleman? He feels vulnerable without it.

MR. O'DONNELL: I understand. I have to confess, I've had lust in my heart for a BlackBerry for years, and I've never acted on it because I don't trust myself with it. I feel like I would be one of these people who felt like they were on the desert island when the thing went down.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why don't you yield to this lust as you usually do?

MR. O'DONNELL: Well, I also want to be able to play hard to get, and the BlackBerry doesn't allow you to deny that you knew the message was there, you know, for several hours.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why is it that the computer industry, the BlackBerrys and the others like them, try to get all functions of humankind on the computer? What do you think of that? You know, when your doctor's appointments are, when you're going to give a raise to Susan, when you have to give the chauffeur also time off?

MR. BLANKLEY: When I give my chauffeur time off, I don't need a BlackBerry for that. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The industry lore on this is unbelievable. You can't function without a computer.

MR. BUCHANAN: Tell me, John, when did you give a raise to anybody? (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you know, I have philosophic principles that guide my actions.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: I also think it's fair to point out this is a Luddite coven right here. There isn't a single BlackBerry among us. And I --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And we want to keep it that way.

MS. CLIFT: We want to keep it that way. The less we know --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you want to keep it that way?

MR. BLANKLEY: Absolutely.

MR. BUCHANAN: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about you?

MR. BUCHANAN: I don't have that lust.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No shame at all?

MR. BUCHANAN: No. I have different lusts, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you have shame?

MR. O'DONNELL: I don't want to be more in touch with you than I am.


####
Well, I gave you the list of --

MS. CLIFT: You're going to see -- well, yes, it would be nice if they actually saw what a threat he was. And I think you are going to see on college campuses threat assessment groups grow up with police, with counselors --

MR. BLANKLEY: Let me get in here a second.

MS. CLIFT: -- to try to assess this.

MR. BLANKLEY: Look, the privacy rights that have been -- and the rights of people who are mentally insane but not necessarily committing a crime, so we can't lock them up -- we used to lock people like this up until 1965, 1970. We opened the insane asylums. And there's a good argument for it, because most --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, let me ask you this.

MR. BLANKLEY: -- because most of them are not, in fact, dangerous. Now, it's easier, though -- if you want to protect society, it's easier to reround up the maniacs than reround up 200 million guns.

MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me ask you this final question on this, in the interest of public policy. Should there be a federal law that protects -- draws a cordon around college presidents to permit them to discharge a student who appears to be a psychotic or so irregular in his behavior that he's become dangerous to his fellow students without fear on the part of that college president of being challenged by frivolous lawsuits?

MR. BUCHANAN: They are challenged all the time. You cannot take away certain constitutional rights to sue. And I don't think the federal government can do it. But John, the point is, this guy should have been in an institution. He should never have been able to --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You've got the problem of -- you've got the privacy issue which protects him to some extent.

MR. BUCHANAN: Look, John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why can't we build a shield law, a shield law for college presidents?

MR. O'DONNELL: (Inaudible.)

MR. BUCHANAN: Look, I agree, there are -- well, you can tort reform and all these other things to get these guys off the campus, exactly.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Is the answer to the security question not improving hard security, like the airport screening variety, but improving soft security, the human systems that exist to monitor and report, then to isolate aberrant behavior? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think you've got to do a lot more, quite frankly, to find and get these people and get them out of there. But let me tell you, he would have killed people on the job he went to after he left Blacksburg. This guy was a time bomb waiting to murder people.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't want to see anything like airport security.

MR. BUCHANAN: No, I don't want to see that on campuses.

MS. CLIFT: I remember when they first installed metal detectors in the local high schools here in Washington, and I was horrified at first. And then I recognized that they were a welcome addition. You can't do that on college campuses, however.

But let's keep this in perspective. Mass killings are still very rare.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, look --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the answer to the question?

MR. BLANKLEY: The answer is probably no change in law and practices; a rare, thankfully, event. And I don't think we should pay the price in giving up privacy rights for people. I don't want to have any institution passing around medical reports of people randomly who have not committed any crime. So I think we have to pay the price in freedom of once in a while a maniac getting hold of something and killing people.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The point of the question was, should we go the direction of soft security and not hard security and concentrate on people and not on objects, even at our airports, as the Israelis tend to do and others? Do you follow me?

MR. O'DONNELL: He could not possibly have killed those people with a knife. It could not be done. We will not do -- Tony's right; we'll do absolutely nothing, because the thing to do is real gun control, and the political class in this country will never do it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, that's the tendency of Americans to go after the object instead of going after the --

MR. O'DONNELL: The object did --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- instead of focusing --

MR. O'DONNELL: Give him a knife and see how far he gets.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I've read those statistics. But also I think the research on whether or not a gun-free culture reduces murders -- well, even there you get into a problem because --

MS. CLIFT: We're not talking about --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- you've got all kinds of other characteristics in play, including the human being.

MS. CLIFT: Well, we're not talking about a gun-free culture. We're talking about stiffer laws so people have a harder time getting them.

MR. BUCHANAN: You've got them --

MS. CLIFT: Excuse me.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let her finish, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: All right.

MS. CLIFT: Excuse me. Now you can buy an AK-47 online for $399.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about that, Pat?

MS. CLIFT: And maybe you know all about that.

MR. BUCHANAN: You've got the toughest gun laws in the world right here in Washington, D.C.

MR. O'DONNELL: Republicans --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let him finish.

MR. BUCHANAN: Let me finish. You've got the toughest gun laws in the country in Washington, D.C. Has that ended gun crime? No. The killers got guns. The robbers got guns. The burglars got guns. The free people don't have them.

MS. CLIFT: That's the NRA line. Lots of free people have guns too, and nobody's talking about taking away their rights.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Two: International Fallout.

As the homicidal horror at Virginia Tech unfolded, it wasn't just Americans reacting with horror and with disgust. News outlets from around the globe brought the tragedy home to millions of international viewers. In the United Kingdom --

BRITISH NEWS ANNOUNCER: (From videotape.) Details are emerging rapidly this lunchtime about the massacre in Virginia.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In Germany, across the Arab world, banner headlines on the front pages of newspapers and magazines from South America to Asia. And governments reacted as news of the mass killings spread; sympathy from South Korea.

CHO BYUNG-JE (South Korean Foreign Ministry): (From videotape.) The Korean people and the Korean government would like to express our heartfelt condolences.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Moralizing from the prime minister of Australia.

JOHN HOWARD (prime minister of Australia): (From videotape.) We took action to limit the availability of guns, and we shared a national resolve that the gun culture that is such a negative in the United States would never become a negative in our country.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's ignore Prime Minister John Howard's sanctimony. Foreign countries with stricter gun laws will blame our, quote-unquote, "gun culture." But those killed in the Virginia Tech attacks included victims from all around the world. Their killer was also a foreigner. The killers at 9/11 were foreigners, but most of the dead were Americans.

So are these two tragedies more a reflection on the rest of the globe than America? Are Americans entitled to feel that they are being victimized as a consequence of their open society, which welcomes foreign visitors and immigrants? I ask you, Pat Buchanan. Quick answer.

MR. BUCHANAN: Look, no, the Koreans are a very law-abiding people, for one thing, John. And 9/11 is utterly different. That was a deliberate mass murder by foreigners attacking the United States.

MS. CLIFT: The world is aghast at the way we are drenched in gun violence, and they're right. And I think the Australian --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it a bum rap because these crimes were committed by foreigners?

MS. CLIFT: No, absolutely not. They could have been Americans. We've had many crimes here committed by Americans.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you see the point of the question?

MR. BLANKLEY: I understand the point. I don't agree with it. The propensity to violence is inherent in humans, not in any particular group. I would point out that right now London has a higher crime rate than New York. I'm sick of Europeans expressing that America is a violent country. Europe has been the most violent continent for 2,000 years.

MS. CLIFT: They don't have guns.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.

MR. O'DONNELL: Timothy McVeigh was not a foreigner. The shooter from the Texas tower was not a foreigner. The Columbine kids were not foreigners. It has nothing to do with that. Eleanor is right. The Australians are right. We are wrong.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it nevertheless a bum rap for foreigners to bill us as being victims or proponents of a gun culture?

MR. O'DONNELL: We have a fetishistic gun culture in this country that leads to these things inevitably.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But the foreigners -- the volume of the deaths caused by these crimes exceeds any volume of any combination of other mass murderers in our history, 9/11 and Virginia Tech.

MS. CLIFT: We have 240 million guns in this country. And the number of gun deaths, unnecessary gun deaths, every year would dwarf any figures that you just cited.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer to my question: It is a bum rap and it's a dirty rap.

Issue Three: Gonzales Grilled.

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALBERTO GONZALES: (From videotape.) I've already said that I misspoke. It was my mistake.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Alberto Gonzales, America's embattled attorney general, this week resisted growing calls for his resignation, despite a series of damaging blows from hostile lawmakers in the much-awaited Senate hearing.

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT): (From videotape.) The Department of Justice should never be reduced to another political arm of the White House. Today the Department of Justice is experiencing a crisis of leadership perhaps unrivaled during its 137-year history.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Democrats allege that Mr. Gonzales drew up the list that designated which of America's 93 federal attorneys should be sacked. The basis for the eight firings was in part whether the attorneys were, quote-unquote, "loyal Bushies," terms used in one of the Bush administration's e-mails last month.

Democrats also allege that some firings took place for the partisan reasons of Karl Rove, who has refused to testify under oath and in public before the Senate. Gonzales reiterated his central proposition, which he said legally justified the resignation.

ATTY GEN. GONZALES: (From videotape.) U.S. attorneys serve at the pleasure of the president.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Why is President Bush sticking so tenaciously by Gonzales? This is an exit question. What do you think, Pat? Why is he?

MR. BUCHANAN: Deep personal loyalty.

MS. CLIFT: He's passing the buck to Gonzales, who is expected to volunteer to resign.

MR. BLANKLEY: I don't know that he is tenacious. A lot of people in the White House are making a lot of negative noises. I'm not sure how long the White House will stick with him.

MR. O'DONNELL: Because whenever a problem like this erupts in the Bush administration, Bush and Karl Rove are experts at making it worse.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You are all correct.

Will Gonzales resign? And, if so, when? Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: By Memorial Day.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: By the end of the month, maybe by the end of next week.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: I think he's going to try to hold on. I'm not sure whether he can.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence.

MR. O'DONNELL: Pat Buchanan's right; by Memorial Day.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: By May 1st he will resign.

Bye-bye.

(PBS segment.)

Issue Four: CrackBerry Addiction.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The BlackBerry is currently the nation's leading wireless e-mail hand-held. BlackBerry subscribers, it seems, can become totally dependent on the device -- so dependent, in fact, that they are unable to cope without it.

Last Tuesday night, BlackBerry North America suffered a service failure lasting 12-plus hours. Subscribers panicked.

BLACKBERRY USER: (From videotape.) The best way I would describe it is like being put on an island, a deserted island by yourself, and you have no access to the outside world.

BLACKBERRY USER: (From videotape.) I felt totally cut off. I'm totally dependent on my mobile device, on my BlackBerry device. And I was very uncomfortable and very vulnerable.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know a lot about addictions, Lawrence --

MR. O'DONNELL: Yes, I do.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- with all due respect. What gives the addictive power to the BlackBerry? And what did you think of that gentleman? He feels vulnerable without it.

MR. O'DONNELL: I understand. I have to confess, I've had lust in my heart for a BlackBerry for years, and I've never acted on it because I don't trust myself with it. I feel like I would be one of these people who felt like they were on the desert island when the thing went down.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why don't you yield to this lust as you usually do?

MR. O'DONNELL: Well, I also want to be able to play hard to get, and the BlackBerry doesn't allow you to deny that you knew the message was there, you know, for several hours.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why is it that the computer industry, the BlackBerrys and the others like them, try to get all functions of humankind on the computer? What do you think of that? You know, when your doctor's appointments are, when you're going to give a raise to Susan, when you have to give the chauffeur also time off?

MR. BLANKLEY: When I give my chauffeur time off, I don't need a BlackBerry for that. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The industry lore on this is unbelievable. You can't function without a computer.

MR. BUCHANAN: Tell me, John, when did you give a raise to anybody? (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you know, I have philosophic principles that guide my actions.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: I also think it's fair to point out this is a Luddite coven right here. There isn't a single BlackBerry among us. And I --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And we want to keep it that way.

MS. CLIFT: We want to keep it that way. The less we know --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you want to keep it that way?

MR. BLANKLEY: Absolutely.

MR. BUCHANAN: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about you?

MR. BUCHANAN: I don't have that lust.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No shame at all?

MR. BUCHANAN: No. I have different lusts, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you have shame?

MR. O'DONNELL: I don't want to be more in touch with you than I am.


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