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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN PANEL: PATRICK BUCHANAN, MSNBC; ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK; TONY BLANKLEY, THE WASHINGTON TIMES; CHRYSTIA FREELAND, THE FINANCIAL TIMES TAPED: FRIDAY, MAY 4, 2007 BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF MAY 5-6, 2007

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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Iraq Common Ground.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: (From videotape.) Setting a deadline for withdrawal is setting a date for failure.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: President Bush followed through on his promise. He vetoed the Democratic bill demanding that U.S. troops begin evacuating Iraq in five months. That was Tuesday. On Wednesday, Mr. Bush summoned congressional leaders of both chambers and both parties to the White House to confer on how to break the deadlock. The meeting was fruitful. PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape.) Yesterday was a day that highlighted differences. Today's a day where we can work together to find common ground.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Republicans committed themselves to the task.

HOUSE MINORITY LEADER JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH): (From videotape.) I think there's a way for us to work together to try to find common ground. That's what the American people expect of us.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So did the Democrats.

HOUSE SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): (From videotape.) We owe it to the American people to find our common ground, the right approach to coming together to find our common ground. We must strive to find that common ground.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Even Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid, the harshest critic of the president's Iraq policy, was conciliatory.

SENATE MAJORITY LEADER HARRY REID (D-NV): (From videotape.) It's not going to be easy, but it's important. And I said to the president that it's very clear that the number one issue is Iraq. That's our message to the president. We want to work with him and his people, and we will do that to the best of our ability.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And despite the ongoing Iraq acrimony, the president still seems upbeat.

PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape.) I'm confident that we can reach agreement. I know it's going to require good will, but we all care deeply about our country and care about this issue.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Why didn't the Republicans and the Democrats reach common ground during all those weeks of argument before the veto? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: Because there is fundamental disagreement on this war in Iraq, John. The Democratic Party wants to set a deadline to begin to withdraw in October and everybody out by April. Any deadline is intolerable to the president. He said he would veto it. The Democratic Party wanted to tell its base that we believe in getting out by then and we're going to vote for it. So both sides went through this.

The common ground now, however, is going to be Pelosi and Reid and the Congress are going to capitulate. They're going to give the president his $100 billion, and they may tie something like $5 billion in foreign aid to performance benchmarks, so to speak. But the president is going to win this battle, but other battles are coming down the road. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did the Democrats insist on the veto in order to establish a clear line of demarcation whereby now this war is totally and undisputedly owned by President Bush?

MS. CLIFT: Well, the Democrats are in power because they opposed the war. And you talk about the Democrats capitulating. They're going to take the time line out. Nancy Pelosi has been clear from the start that the troops are going to get the money. But the president is going to have to give in on benchmarks or something. And the president may be winning the battle from your point of view, but he's still losing the war.

And there are plenty more legislative vehicles ahead, and these votes are going to get tougher for the Republicans to take on Capitol Hill and you're going to start seeing Republicans start to flip unless things turn around dramatically on the ground in Iraq. And that looks like an impossibility.

MS. FREELAND: What I thought was really interesting was -- oh --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Go ahead.

MS. FREELAND: -- was that during the debate last night so many of the Republican potential candidates spoke on the assumption that the way the war in Iraq has been conducted has been a mistake.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What are the terms of the common ground?

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, I mean, I think Eleanor described it. They're going to turn the time line into benchmarks. Pat described correctly, as we're all hearing it, that the penalty for not hitting the benchmarks will be taking $5 billion out of the civilian foreign aid to the Iraqi government.

I'm not completely convinced that it's going to be as easy to get to an agreement as they say because Pelosi will be losing a fair number of antiwar Democrats in the House if they take the teeth out. And Bush won't vote for a bill that's got real teeth in.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who's going to certify the reaching of the benchmarks?

MR. BLANKLEY: It's going to be Bush having to certify, Bush having to go back to Congress if he's violating --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They won't take Bush's word for it.

MR. BLANKLEY: No, no, no, no. This is all --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about the independent study group?

MR. BLANKLEY: No, no, this is -- MR. BUCHANAN: No --

MR. BLANKLEY: You misunderstand. They want Bush to confess that he hasn't hit the benchmark. And if he confesses that he hasn't in order to be able to keep getting the money, then the Democrats win their little political point.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Suppose Bush says, "We reached the benchmarks"?

MR. BUCHANAN: Bush is going to --

MS. CLIFT: Well, what the Congress --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How are you going to certify that?

MS. CLIFT: -- what the Congress is going to do probably is to insert some sort of provision that there has to be an independent study group, bring back the Iraq study group, the Baker-Hamilton commission, some bipartisan group, to determine in September whether the surge is working or not working. And when that group comes back and says, "Okay, there's some progress, but not enough," that's when you're going to see the president have to reassess.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, moving the goal posts.

Only eight months ago, the president insisted that the outcome in Iraq would be a victory and nothing less.

PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape.) Victory in Iraq will be a crushing defeat to our enemies, who have staked so much on the battle there. And victory in Iraq would be a powerful triumph in the ideological struggle of the 21st century. From Damascus to Tehran, people will look to a democratic Iraq as inspiration that freedom can succeed in the Middle East and as evidence that the side of freedom is the winning side.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In the eight months since that utterance, victory morphed into success, and success morphed into this.

PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape.) Either we'll succeed or we won't succeed. And the definition of success, as I described, is, you know, sectarian violence down. Success is not no violence. There are parts of our own country that, you know, have got, you know, a certain level of violence to it. But success is a level of violence where the people feel comfortable about living their daily lives. And that's what we're trying to achieve.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So there will be a quantum of violence. Will the moving of the goal posts work, Eleanor Clift?

MS. CLIFT: Well, that's a pathetic rationale for staying, I must say. What happened at Virginia Tech, that happens probably three times a day in Iraq. And so to compare Iraq to the level of violence in this country, it's ludicrous.

But the president is moving the goal posts, and we don't hear him trumpeting freedom and democracy. If you're looking at Iraq as what freedom is all about, it's enough to give freedom a bad name.

MR. BUCHANAN: John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Maybe he's talking about inner-city homicide. If he is, the ratio is about 100 to one favoring Iraq.

MR. BLANKLEY: Look, I mean, there's no doubt that you're broadly correct that they have been less triumphal in their discussion of what success is going to be. But you've also cherry-picked a little, because for months and months he has said that you can't expect to see the end of violence. So it's not new to say the end of violence. But I agree with you that the loftier parts of it are not being talked about as much.

MR. BUCHANAN: But the big goal, John -- you know what it was -- it was a free, democratic, peaceful, united Iraq which was going to be not only an example but a magnet to Iran and to Syria and all of this. That has gone by the boards. The great democratic revolution is over. The president would like to get out with something standing where the level of violence is tolerable and the government survives. You're right; it is a great climb-down.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think he's going to be able to reach a point where the level of violence will be such that he can declare, truthfully, "Mission accomplished"?

MR. BUCHANAN: I believe that the surge is going to work in part. And the president in September -- I believe he's got to start bringing the troops home or they will lose the White House.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He now has wiggle room, does he not?

MR. BLANKLEY: No. No.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Detente Abroad.

MR. BLANKLEY: No.

SECRETARY OF STATE CONDOLEEZZA RICE: (From videotape.) The Syrian foreign minister and I had a chance, on the margins of this meeting, to talk about the need to stabilize Iraq.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In Egypt this week, at a huge two-day international conference on the future of Iraq, Condoleezza Rice held a 30-minute talk with the Syrian foreign minister. It was the first high-level meeting since the U.S. withdrew its ambassador from Damascus in February '05, 26 months ago. And, at the same Sharm el- Sheikh assemblage, Secretary Rice also broke the ice between the United States and Iran.

Like her boss, Condoleezza Rice is learning how to play a weaker U.S. hand, Mr. Bush with the Democrats and his secretary of State abroad, both striking a less unilateralist tone.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So there was rapprochement all over the place this week between the Democrats and the Republicans and abroad between the United States and Syria, and a little bit toward the United States and Iran. What do you make of it?

MS. FREELAND: Well, I think you're right that what the presidency is trying to do -- and I think what Condoleezza Rice is doing is really smart right now. If you want to think of the Bush presidency like an investor, they bet all their foreign policy on one stock, Iraq, and that is going desperately wrong.

Now they're doing something which is really smart, which is diversifying their portfolio, starting to talk to a lot of different countries --

(Cross-talk.)

MS. FREELAND: That at least gives them a chance. This is what they should have been doing all along.

(Cross-talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let her talk for a minute, will you?

MS. FREELAND: But it does -- your initial question was, "Is this going to be what the Bush legacy going forward depends on?" And I think if they can have some success, then yeah, then Bush won't be seen purely as the president who lost Iraq.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, Chrystia, as you looked at the debate last night and that lineup, did you see any of this detente, this mood, this atmospheric, this reality, gushing forward from any of those candidates?

MS. FREELAND: Well, what I did see was a realization that the Iraq policy isn't working.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: In retrospect, will the first week of May 2007 be seen, in retrospect, as the major turning point in Bush's approach to the Iraq war, yes or no?

MR. BUCHANAN: No. I think the major turning point is going to come after a lot more troubles from the Congress. And it's going to come, I believe, in September when Petraeus comes back and tells us whether the surge has worked. I believe at that point the president is going to make a major decision.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't see this as a movement away from a military strategy to a diplomatic strategy?

MS. CLIFT: It's the beginning of the Democratic squeeze on the president, but he's still stubborn enough to take down his party with him, and I think he's still holding out. I agree with Pat that September is the break point, and the president is going to have an awfully hard time continuing if the verdict is the surge doesn't work. And remember what the surge is for. It's to give the Maliki government an opportunity to perform. The Maliki government is incapable of performing. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you sense something going on in Ronald -- excuse me; Ronald Reagan -- in George Bush?; namely, that there is a shift that has taken place?

MR. BLANKLEY: No. And if --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That he's given up on the military strategy.

MR. BLANKLEY: No. If I can answer just for a couple of seconds, no, there's no diplomacy. There's a Potemkin diplomacy going on both by the Syrians and by us, because the Syrians don't want to help us solve this problem; Potemkin finding common ground between the Republicans and the Democrats, because the Democrats don't want to see the president succeed. And so this is all phoniness.

And some people get sucked in to think there's really a diplomatic solution and that the Democrats in Congress and the president can really get together. They can't. Eleanor's right on this. There's going to be a crack in September between the president and the Democrats. And the Syrian and Iranian, to the extent there is any, diplomacy will amount to nothing, because it's in their interest, in Iran and Syria's interest, to defeat us.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony cannot see the logic of anyone compromising.

MS. CLIFT: Well, the crash is --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you understanding? That's part of his mentality.

MS. CLIFT: -- (inaudible) -- the president and Republicans.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But there are elements of compromise that really jigger the imagination and jigger reality and jigger movement. And there's self-interest on both sides, and you can cut deals. Isn't that true with Syria?

MS. FREELAND: I think what you're beginning to see is conversation and dialogue, and that is the beginning of a shift. But I agree with Eleanor and Pat that there's going to be more of a shift that's going forward.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So you don't see fundamental change in Bush's outlook at this point.

MS. FREELAND: I see the beginning.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The beginning.

MS. CLIFT: It's all optics, but optics are somewhat important. But nothing substantive happened in Sharm el-Sheikh.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: My view is it is not all optics. I believe that there is real movement in the president's thinking.

Issue Two: Reagan Republicans?

Ten Republican presidential hopefuls convened at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California on Thursday night. Ronald Reagan's name was invoked 19 separate times by the GOP lineup, each trying to draw close to Reagan's stature.

MIKE HUCKABEE (former governor of Arkansas): (From videotape.) What Ronald Reagan did was to give us a vision for this country, a morning in America, a city on a hill.

TOMMY THOMPSON (former governor of Wisconsin): And the great thing about Ronald Reagan was he was a uniter.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ): (From videotape.) Ronald Reagan used to say we spend money like a drunken sailor. I received an e-mail recently from a guy who said, "As a former drunken sailor, I resent being compared to members of Congress." (Laughter.) MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Was it cruel to hold the first Republican debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: No, it was not, John. It was a very nice gesture. Mrs. Reagan was there. It was a great place. Reagan is the great hero of the Republican Party and the conservative movement.

But who won the debate, John? Let me tell you, I think Governor Romney, Mitt Romney, really helped himself in his first major public appearance. He was personable. He was articulate, had good humor. And he handled himself extremely well. And Rudy Giuliani stepped into that minefield on abortion and he did not appear like Mr. 9/11 up there on that stage. So among the big three, I think Romney goes up, Giuliani goes down and McCain had trouble.

MS. CLIFT: This was like "The Gong Show." I mean, these guys are so out of touch with America.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: One person, Rudy Giuliani, expressed some hesitation about overturning Roe v. Wade, which is abortion rights in this country. Do you think that's going to be a winning position in a general election?

MR. BUCHANAN: I think it's a loser. He ain't going to get to the general without --

MS. CLIFT: Well, and secondly, three of them don't believe in evolution. This was really --

MR. BUCHANAN: Four. Four.

MS. CLIFT: Okay, counting Pat, we've got four.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Buchanan ought to know this better than anybody, that Ronald Reagan, through Lee Atwater and others, spoke about the big tent. What we saw here was a narrow orthodoxy. And Eleanor is right; we saw very little contact with the American people.

MR. BLANKLEY: Talking about a narrow orthodoxy, the idea that the Republicans are out of contact with Eleanor Clift's view of the world hardly means they're out of contact with the general electorate.

MS. CLIFT: Well --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, that's a nice little remark.

MR. BLANKLEY: Well -- MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Where are you going with it? Quickly.

MR. BLANKLEY: I was going to say that for most of them, standing under the wings of Reagan's Air Force One is probably as close as they're going to get to flying on the real thing.

MS. CLIFT: I'll match my views on evolution up against the broader America.

MR. BLANKLEY: I agree with you on evolution, but I'm talking about taxation. I'm talking about fighting terrorism. I'm talking about fighting Iran, if necessary, to stop nuclear weapons. Believe me, your little cult of --

MS. CLIFT: Those were not the issues that dominated.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think the younger generation drew any comfort from these gentlemen that they saw on the stage, with their narrow orthodoxy?

MS. FREELAND: I think it's a really good question, and I think that's one of the things that we're seeing with Barack Obama is a real generational divide.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you also see, in the way they responded to those Internet questions that were put to them, how they dismissed them and went into their -- frequently went into their prepared canned speeches?

MS. FREELAND: Absolutely. And the Internet questions were unexpected. They were hard.

MR. BLANKLEY: They were also stupid.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And that's the younger generation --

MS. FREELAND: Well, maybe --

MR. BLANKLEY: They were remarkably stupid questions.

MR. BUCHANAN: Some of them were very dumb.

MR. BLANKLEY: "Tell me why you hate America."

MS. FREELAND: You can't say the voters are stupid. You can't call your voters stupid if you want them to vote for you.

MR. BLANKLEY: These were set-up questions by Politico. They picked the ones that were ridiculous. "Tell me how you hate America." MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're saying that Romney's performance was the strongest. You're saying what?

MS. CLIFT: No, I don't think any of them distinguished themselves. Actually, the second-most prevalent person on the stage next to Ronald Reagan was Hillary Clinton. It's the only thing that unifies this party.

MR. BUCHANAN: That's because they were asked a question about her husband coming back to the White House.

MS. CLIFT: She came up several times.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: She's a great unifier.

MS. CLIFT: That's right.

MR. BLANKLEY: Let's be fair just for a second. In these kind of debates, whether it was the Democrats last week or the Republicans this week, most people are not terribly impressive. They have 30 seconds to try to say something. And the panel we saw last week in the Democratic primary were no more impressive than this panel.

MS. CLIFT: The Democrats were stronger.

MR. BLANKLEY: But I agree with you, and I agree that Mitt Romney did the best. I don't think anybody was particularly advanced or hurt by this debate.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think of the three Republicans that raised their hands and said that they don't believe in evolution? Tancredo, Gilmore. Who was the third?

MR. BUCHANAN: No, it's Huckabee, I'm sure, and Brownback.

MS. FREELAND: Brownback.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Brownback was up there?

MR. BLANKLEY: I think --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't believe in evolution?

MS. FREELAND: I think it's very worrying for America in a globalized economy where you need to have real cutting-edge --

MR. BUCHANAN: You mean the problem of believing in God is a problem now in the global economy?

MS. FREELAND: No, not believing in scientific --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question. Last week we saw the Democratic lineup in debate. This week we saw the Republican lineup. Which lineup is the more interesting?

MR. BUCHANAN: Barack Obama is very interesting in the Democrats, but he's the --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So it's the Democratic lineup.

MR. BUCHANAN: No, no, no. I think Romney and Giuliani are interesting because they're all three new. So I'd say they're about evenly interesting.

MS. CLIFT: Romney's answer on stem cell research, trying to wiggle off the fact that he opposes embryonic stem cell research, is going to be another loser for him in the general election. He is too slick by half. But in terms of interest, it's going to be fascinating to see if the Republicans can find a candidate here who matches up with their base and who can get elected in this country. It's a challenge.

MR. BLANKLEY: Oh, I think Gravel and Kucinich and Dodd and Biden were an inspirational panel -- (laughter) -- to be the next president of the United States.

MS. CLIFT: That's only half the field.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who was the most formidable last night?

MR. BLANKLEY: I think Romney had a good night. I also think --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about McCain? No one's mentioning McCain.

MR. BLANKLEY: I don't think he's going to win in the end, and I think --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: McCain was --

MR. BLANKLEY: And although Giuliani had a difficult time on the abortion issue, I still find him formidable and impressive.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What'd you think, Chrystia?

MS. FREELAND: I think the fact that you have a woman and a black man as serious contenders for the American presidency is the most interesting. But New York is fascinated by Mike Bloomberg and whether he's going to run or not.

MR. BUCHANAN: Oh, brother. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I would say the best performance last night was rendered, seriously, by Ron Paul.

Issue Three: Beleaguered Wolfowitz.

PAUL WOLFOWITZ (World Bank president): (From videotape.) I had a chance on Monday to give my full explanation to the board, and it's available to all of you if you want to read it. We need to follow due process.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz this week made a last-ditch attempt to avert career ruin; namely, a hostile finding by the panel investigating his role arranging an unorthodox employment package for a colleague with whom Mr. Wolfowitz was romantically involved.

The World Bank fracas is now spreading worldwide, particularly in Latin America. Governments there, especially Venezuela, want to weaken further Washington's influence in the region. At the center of the storm is Shaha Riza, a talented and well-informed person on world development and Arab culture, as she exhibits here on "The McLaughlin Group."

SHAHA RIZA (World Bank): (From videotape.) The Arab world is actually grappling with two issues, modernization and westernization. And they're grappling even more with reconciling the linkage between modernization and westernization. And this is epitomized in the gender relationship that exists in that part of the world. So, on the one hand, you have all of these educated women, and on the other hand, women are not really represented in the labor force.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Is there a hex on Wolfowitz, Chrystia, considering where he was at the Defense Department? Some people think he ruined the U.S. military. Now he's over there ruining not only the United States military but the World Bank.

MS. FREELAND: I don't think there's a hex on him, but I think he probably will be forced out at the World Bank.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You do?

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, nobody is questioning her expertise. What they're questioning is the fact that he intervened to get her a big fat raise where she makes more money than Condoleezza Rice and he is romantically involved with her. They live together.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, Eleanor, you don't think that politics --

MS. CLIFT: It crosses a line.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't think politics and the Iraq war has any role, in view of Wolfowitz's participation?

MS. CLIFT: That's a backdrop. But if you're championing --

MR. BUCHANAN: John --

MS. CLIFT: -- anticorruption measures around the world, you can't be corrupt yourself.

MR. BUCHANAN: He was given by George Bush the greatest bailout he could possibly -- a golden parachute sent over there, 400 grand. He makes more than the president of the United States. And he blew it with a stupid, arrogant decision to pay his sweetie more than the secretary of State to whom she was assigned.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think Wolfowitz is a walking disaster?

MR. BLANKLEY: I think -- I editorialized last week saying he ought to be fired, because I don't care -- I happen to agree with his policies, but we cannot tolerate this kind of petty corruption and simonry, and particularly when the lead policy is to end precisely that all over the world. And the fact that he happens to be a brilliant man doesn't protect him from these petty corruptions.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Will Wolfowitz's critics succeed in hounding him from office? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: They're going to get him out of there, and he should go.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Amen.

MR. BLANKLEY: You can't hound a guilty man out.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?

MR. BLANKLEY: He ought to go because he ought to go.

MS. FREELAND: He will be forced to leave, yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wolfowitz is damaged goods. He'll step aside.

Issue Four: Jamestown Queen.

The queen of England is making her third state visit to America since she came to power over 50 years ago. She and the duke of Edinburgh are visiting to mark the anniversary of the founding of the Jamestown settlement over 400 years ago. The royals will also attend the Kentucky Derby, tour the NASA Goddard Science Center and visit the World War II memorial in Washington.

QUEEN ELIZABETH: (From videotape.) I visit the United States this week to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the landing of a small group of British citizens on a tiny island in what is now called the James River here in Virginia.

With the benefit of hindsight, we can see in that event the origins of a singular endeavor -- the building of a great nation founded on the eternal values of democracy and equality, based on the rule of law and the promotion of freedom.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Get a load of this. Queen Elizabeth says, in so many words, that the British created America's democratic heritage. Is that a valid claim, do you think?

MR. BLANKLEY: Yes, it is. Look, it's not a coincidence that the United States, Canada, India, Australia, New Zealand, all of the countries that were part of the British empire --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Have you heard of George III?

MR. BLANKLEY: -- end up as great democracies. I don't remember all the great democracies created by the former empires of Austria, Germany, Italy, Spain or Russia.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does he -- what happened to her history?

MS. FREELAND: I think that America created American democracy, actually, by overthrowing the British monarchy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How true. Hear, hear.

MR. BUCHANAN: Listen, Americans did not believe in equality at the time of our revolution at all. That is a later invention, John. MS. CLIFT: Well --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What are you trying to say, Pat?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, I'm trying to say the Jamestown colony by 1620 was a slave state.

MS. CLIFT: Right. I'll give --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Should she go to Lexington and Concord and Bunker Hill to get straightened out?

MS. CLIFT: I'll give her credit for helping establish democracy, but she has to take some of the blame for slavery and growing tobacco, too, which began in Jamestown.

MR. BLANKLEY: The British ended the slave trade.

MS. FREELAND: I'm not American, but you guys have to give your Founding Fathers credit for actually saying, "We are not going to be ruled by a hereditary monarch."

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, of course America --

MS. FREELAND: That is the brilliant American idea.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The French were the ones who founded Louisiana, and the Spanish were here too.

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, and look at Louisiana. Look, obviously America advanced the principles of republican democracy, but the British later -- that's why England is the mother of Parliament, starting with Magna Carta. The whole principles of the rights of individuals --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about Henry VIII?

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, yeah, they had their Tudor vigor, yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Sunday, John, it is "Sarky" in Paris walking away with the victory.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Tommy Thompson will be the first off the island, gone before the end of summer.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: After the election in France, the Socialist Party will have one of the worst divisional fights in its history. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Chrystia.

MS. FREELAND: Rupert Murdoch will succeed in buying The Wall Street Journal.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: For how much?

MR. BUCHANAN: Sixty-two?

MS. FREELAND: Sixty-eight.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does that meaning anything to the Financial Times?

MS. FREELAND: I think it means that more people should be reading us as a fair and objective source of business information. I wasn't going to volunteer that, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I predict that Imus will be back on the air October 1st.

Bye-bye.

onald Reagan did was to give us a vision for this country, a morning in America, a city on a hill.

TOMMY THOMPSON (former governor of Wisconsin): And the great thing about Ronald Reagan was he was a uniter.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ): (From videotape.) Ronald Reagan used to say we spend money like a drunken sailor. I received an e-mail recently from a guy who said, "As a former drunken sailor, I resent being compared to members of Congress." (Laughter.) MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Was it cruel to hold the first Republican debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: No, it was not, John. It was a very nice gesture. Mrs. Reagan was there. It was a great place. Reagan is the great hero of the Republican Party and the conservative movement.

But who won the debate, John? Let me tell you, I think Governor Romney, Mitt Romney, really helped himself in his first major public appearance. He was personable. He was articulate, had good humor. And he handled himself extremely well. And Rudy Giuliani stepped into that minefield on abortion and he did not appear like Mr. 9/11 up there on that stage. So among the big three, I think Romney goes up, Giuliani goes down and McCain had trouble.

MS. CLIFT: This was like "The Gong Show." I mean, these guys are so out of touch with America.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: One person, Rudy Giuliani, expressed some hesitation about overturning Roe v. Wade, which is abortion rights in this country. Do you think that's going to be a winning position in a general election?

MR. BUCHANAN: I think it's a loser. He ain't going to get to the general without --

MS. CLIFT: Well, and secondly, three of them don't believe in evolution. This was really --

MR. BUCHANAN: Four. Four.

MS. CLIFT: Okay, counting Pat, we've got four.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Buchanan ought to know this better than anybody, that Ronald Reagan, through Lee Atwater and others, spoke about the big tent. What we saw here was a narrow orthodoxy. And Eleanor is right; we saw very little contact with the American people.

MR. BLANKLEY: Talking about a narrow orthodoxy, the idea that the Republicans are out of contact with Eleanor Clift's view of the world hardly means they're out of contact with the general electorate.

MS. CLIFT: Well --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, that's a nice little remark.

MR. BLANKLEY: Well -- MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Where are you going with it? Quickly.

MR. BLANKLEY: I was going to say that for most of them, standing under the wings of Reagan's Air Force One is probably as close as they're going to get to flying on the real thing.

MS. CLIFT: I'll match my views on evolution up against the broader America.

MR. BLANKLEY: I agree with you on evolution, but I'm talking about taxation. I'm talking about fighting terrorism. I'm talking about fighting Iran, if necessary, to stop nuclear weapons. Believe me, your little cult of --

MS. CLIFT: Those were not the issues that dominated.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think the younger generation drew any comfort from these gentlemen that they saw on the stage, with their narrow orthodoxy?

MS. FREELAND: I think it's a really good question, and I think that's one of the things that we're seeing with Barack Obama is a real generational divide.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you also see, in the way they responded to those Internet questions that were put to them, how they dismissed them and went into their -- frequently went into their prepared canned speeches?

MS. FREELAND: Absolutely. And the Internet questions were unexpected. They were hard.

MR. BLANKLEY: They were also stupid.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And that's the younger generation --

MS. FREELAND: Well, maybe --

MR. BLANKLEY: They were remarkably stupid questions.

MR. BUCHANAN: Some of them were very dumb.

MR. BLANKLEY: "Tell me why you hate America."

MS. FREELAND: You can't say the voters are stupid. You can't call your voters stupid if you want them to vote for you.

MR. BLANKLEY: These were set-up questions by Politico. They picked the ones that were ridiculous. "Tell me how you hate America." MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're saying that Romney's performance was the strongest. You're saying what?

MS. CLIFT: No, I don't think any of them distinguished themselves. Actually, the second-most prevalent person on the stage next to Ronald Reagan was Hillary Clinton. It's the only thing that unifies this party.

MR. BUCHANAN: That's because they were asked a question about her husband coming back to the White House.

MS. CLIFT: She came up several times.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: She's a great unifier.

MS. CLIFT: That's right.

MR. BLANKLEY: Let's be fair just for a second. In these kind of debates, whether it was the Democrats last week or the Republicans this week, most people are not terribly impressive. They have 30 seconds to try to say something. And the panel we saw last week in the Democratic primary were no more impressive than this panel.

MS. CLIFT: The Democrats were stronger.

MR. BLANKLEY: But I agree with you, and I agree that Mitt Romney did the best. I don't think anybody was particularly advanced or hurt by this debate.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think of the three Republicans that raised their hands and said that they don't believe in evolution? Tancredo, Gilmore. Who was the third?

MR. BUCHANAN: No, it's Huckabee, I'm sure, and Brownback.

MS. FREELAND: Brownback.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Brownback was up there?

MR. BLANKLEY: I think --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't believe in evolution?

MS. FREELAND: I think it's very worrying for America in a globalized economy where you need to have real cutting-edge --

MR. BUCHANAN: You mean the problem of believing in God is a problem now in the global economy?

MS. FREELAND: No, not believing in scientific --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question. Last week we saw the Democratic lineup in debate. This week we saw the Republican lineup. Which lineup is the more interesting?

MR. BUCHANAN: Barack Obama is very interesting in the Democrats, but he's the --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So it's the Democratic lineup.

MR. BUCHANAN: No, no, no. I think Romney and Giuliani are interesting because they're all three new. So I'd say they're about evenly interesting.

MS. CLIFT: Romney's answer on stem cell research, trying to wiggle off the fact that he opposes embryonic stem cell research, is going to be another loser for him in the general election. He is too slick by half. But in terms of interest, it's going to be fascinating to see if the Republicans can find a candidate here who matches up with their base and who can get elected in this country. It's a challenge.

MR. BLANKLEY: Oh, I think Gravel and Kucinich and Dodd and Biden were an inspirational panel -- (laughter) -- to be the next president of the United States.

MS. CLIFT: That's only half the field.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who was the most formidable last night?

MR. BLANKLEY: I think Romney had a good night. I also think --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about McCain? No one's mentioning McCain.

MR. BLANKLEY: I don't think he's going to win in the end, and I think --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: McCain was --

MR. BLANKLEY: And although Giuliani had a difficult time on the abortion issue, I still find him formidable and impressive.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What'd you think, Chrystia?

MS. FREELAND: I think the fact that you have a woman and a black man as serious contenders for the American presidency is the most interesting. But New York is fascinated by Mike Bloomberg and whether he's going to run or not.

MR. BUCHANAN: Oh, brother. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I would say the best performance last night was rendered, seriously, by Ron Paul.

Issue Three: Beleaguered Wolfowitz.

PAUL WOLFOWITZ (World Bank president): (From videotape.) I had a chance on Monday to give my full explanation to the board, and it's available to all of you if you want to read it. We need to follow due process.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz this week made a last-ditch attempt to avert career ruin; namely, a hostile finding by the panel investigating his role arranging an unorthodox employment package for a colleague with whom Mr. Wolfowitz was romantically involved.

The World Bank fracas is now spreading worldwide, particularly in Latin America. Governments there, especially Venezuela, want to weaken further Washington's influence in the region. At the center of the storm is Shaha Riza, a talented and well-informed person on world development and Arab culture, as she exhibits here on "The McLaughlin Group."

SHAHA RIZA (World Bank): (From videotape.) The Arab world is actually grappling with two issues, modernization and westernization. And they're grappling even more with reconciling the linkage between modernization and westernization. And this is epitomized in the gender relationship that exists in that part of the world. So, on the one hand, you have all of these educated women, and on the other hand, women are not really represented in the labor force.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Is there a hex on Wolfowitz, Chrystia, considering where he was at the Defense Department? Some people think he ruined the U.S. military. Now he's over there ruining not only the United States military but the World Bank.

MS. FREELAND: I don't think there's a hex on him, but I think he probably will be forced out at the World Bank.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You do?

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, nobody is questioning her expertise. What they're questioning is the fact that he intervened to get her a big fat raise where she makes more money than Condoleezza Rice and he is romantically involved with her. They live together.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, Eleanor, you don't think that politics --

MS. CLIFT: It crosses a line.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't think politics and the Iraq war has any role, in view of Wolfowitz's participation?

MS. CLIFT: That's a backdrop. But if you're championing --

MR. BUCHANAN: John --

MS. CLIFT: -- anticorruption measures around the world, you can't be corrupt yourself.

MR. BUCHANAN: He was given by George Bush the greatest bailout he could possibly -- a golden parachute sent over there, 400 grand. He makes more than the president of the United States. And he blew it with a stupid, arrogant decision to pay his sweetie more than the secretary of State to whom she was assigned.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think Wolfowitz is a walking disaster?

MR. BLANKLEY: I think -- I editorialized last week saying he ought to be fired, because I don't care -- I happen to agree with his policies, but we cannot tolerate this kind of petty corruption and simonry, and particularly when the lead policy is to end precisely that all over the world. And the fact that he happens to be a brilliant man doesn't protect him from these petty corruptions.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Will Wolfowitz's critics succeed in hounding him from office? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: They're going to get him out of there, and he should go.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Amen.

MR. BLANKLEY: You can't hound a guilty man out.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?

MR. BLANKLEY: He ought to go because he ought to go.

MS. FREELAND: He will be forced to leave, yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wolfowitz is damaged goods. He'll step aside.

Issue Four: Jamestown Queen.

The queen of England is making her third state visit to America since she came to power over 50 years ago. She and the duke of Edinburgh are visiting to mark the anniversary of the founding of the Jamestown settlement over 400 years ago. The royals will also attend the Kentucky Derby, tour the NASA Goddard Science Center and visit the World War II memorial in Washington.

QUEEN ELIZABETH: (From videotape.) I visit the United States this week to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the landing of a small group of British citizens on a tiny island in what is now called the James River here in Virginia.

With the benefit of hindsight, we can see in that event the origins of a singular endeavor -- the building of a great nation founded on the eternal values of democracy and equality, based on the rule of law and the promotion of freedom.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Get a load of this. Queen Elizabeth says, in so many words, that the British created America's democratic heritage. Is that a valid claim, do you think?

MR. BLANKLEY: Yes, it is. Look, it's not a coincidence that the United States, Canada, India, Australia, New Zealand, all of the countries that were part of the British empire --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Have you heard of George III?

MR. BLANKLEY: -- end up as great democracies. I don't remember all the great democracies created by the former empires of Austria, Germany, Italy, Spain or Russia.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does he -- what happened to her history?

MS. FREELAND: I think that America created American democracy, actually, by overthrowing the British monarchy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How true. Hear, hear.

MR. BUCHANAN: Listen, Americans did not believe in equality at the time of our revolution at all. That is a later invention, John. MS. CLIFT: Well --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What are you trying to say, Pat?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, I'm trying to say the Jamestown colony by 1620 was a slave state.

MS. CLIFT: Right. I'll give --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Should she go to Lexington and Concord and Bunker Hill to get straightened out?

MS. CLIFT: I'll give her credit for helping establish democracy, but she has to take some of the blame for slavery and growing tobacco, too, which began in Jamestown.

MR. BLANKLEY: The British ended the slave trade.

MS. FREELAND: I'm not American, but you guys have to give your Founding Fathers credit for actually saying, "We are not going to be ruled by a hereditary monarch."

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, of course America --

MS. FREELAND: That is the brilliant American idea.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The French were the ones who founded Louisiana, and the Spanish were here too.

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, and look at Louisiana. Look, obviously America advanced the principles of republican democracy, but the British later -- that's why England is the mother of Parliament, starting with Magna Carta. The whole principles of the rights of individuals --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about Henry VIII?

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, yeah, they had their Tudor vigor, yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Sunday, John, it is "Sarky" in Paris walking away with the victory.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Tommy Thompson will be the first off the island, gone before the end of summer.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: After the election in France, the Socialist Party will have one of the worst divisional fights in its history. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Chrystia.

MS. FREELAND: Rupert Murdoch will succeed in buying The Wall Street Journal.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: For how much?

MR. BUCHANAN: Sixty-two?

MS. FREELAND: Sixty-eight.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does that meaning anything to the Financial Times?

MS. FREELAND: I think it means that more people should be reading us as a fair and objective source of business information. I wasn't going to volunteer that, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I predict that Imus will be back on the air October 1st.

Bye-bye.