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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, JULY 27, 2007 BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF JULY 28-29, 2007

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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Clinton versus Obama.

Democratic presidential contenders squared off on Monday on issues including health care, the war in Iraq, gay marriage and public education. The format was original and invigorating. All of the questions came from user-submitted videos on YouTube.

DEBATE QUESTION: (From videotape.) Would you be willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries? MR. MCLAUGHLIN: As the first responder, Senator Barack Obama said yes.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL): (From videotape.) I would. And the reason is this, that the notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them, which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration, is ridiculous.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Directly following Obama, Senator Clinton said no on promising to meet Iran's Ahmadinejad, Syria's Bashar al-Assad, Venezuela's Chavez, Cuba's Castro, North Korea's Kim Jong Il.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY): (From videotape.) Well, I will not promise to meet with the leaders of these countries during my first year. I will promise a very vigorous diplomatic effort, because I think it is not that you promise a meeting at that high a level before you know what the intentions are. I don't want to be used for propaganda purposes. I don't want to make a situation even worse. But I certainly agree that we need to get back to diplomacy, which has been turned into a bad word by this administration.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Then on Tuesday, Senator Clinton shot another fuselage over Obama's bow.

SEN. CLINTON: (From videotape.) I thought that was irresponsible and frankly naive to say that you would permit a meeting with Chavez and Castro and others within the first year.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wednesday night, Senator Obama fired back at Clinton. His missile: Clinton's 2002 vote in favor of going to war with Iraq.

SEN. OBAMA: (From videotape.) What is irresponsible and naive is to have authorized a war without asking how we were going to get out. And I think Senator Clinton still hasn't fully answered that issue.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Obama also emphasized that his position is not the Bush-Cheney doctrine, suggesting that Hillary's is the Bush-Cheney doctrine.

SEN. OBAMA: (From videotape.) If we are laying out preconditions that prevents us from speaking frankly to these folks, then we're continuing the Bush-Cheney policies. And I'm not interested in continuing that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Which is worse, to be naive about casting a vote to go to war or to be naive about diplomacy? You get the point, Pat?

MR. BUCHANAN: I do exactly, John. And you make a very good point there. Hillary Clinton won the face-off in the debate, and she was being cheered and applauded as being presidential, and he had sort of a puppy-like enthusiasm for meeting dictators. But when she said he was naive and irresponsible, he came back and said it is more naive and irresponsible to give a blank check for war to George W. Bush without an exit strategy. He scored very, very heavily. I think he won the exchange with this problem, John.

The point you made with all those pictures up there -- Ahmadinejad; he's going to talk to Castro -- if Obama is nominated, that is one of the best TV ads I can think of. Here's who Obama's going to meet with without preconditions in his first year. You had Ahmadinejad, who denies the Holocaust; Fidel Castro in south Cuba -- I mean, in south Florida. So I think, in the long run, if Obama is nominated, it's more damaging.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, before you hyperventilate any more, just let me say that you know the sherpas do the groundwork, and it's up to the leaders, in their judgment, to go in and attack those issues that are sharpened up for them.

MR. BUCHANAN: Here's the thing, John. What you miss is the phrase is "without preconditions." That's the mistake Obama made in the debate.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: On the contrary, the Bush-Cheney doctrine is to establish preconditions, and it's a frozen situation. That's what he's saying.

Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Look, it's a phony debate. There is no daylight or very little daylight between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on foreign policy. This is a ginned-up debate. Hillary Clinton saw an opening and she went after it. And Barack Obama very skillfully came back.

I think that it feeds into the narrative that Barack Obama is too young and inexperienced. But he also scored points here, because he's new politics and he very skillfully tied Bush-Cheney-Clinton on the war. So, you know, I don't think there's a clear winner here. I think this is an ongoing effort to frame the debate.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He also echoes the 9/11 commission, the eminent James Baker, and Lee Hamilton, which they said the fundamental structure under diplomacy is to meet with your enemies, deal with your enemies. True or false?

MR. BLANKLEY: Look -- yes, it's true that's what they said. But there are plenty of examples. Kennedy meeting with Khrushchev in Vienna played it badly. Khrushchev misinterpreted Kennedy's weakness. We had the Cuban missile crisis because of that; then Clinton meeting with Arafat, failing that, and that undermined -- created a second intifada. So a badly misconceived summit is much worse than none at all. But as far as the politics of it is concerned, I think that Obama has helped himself in the primary. But whoever gets to the general, Hillary, if she makes it, is in a stronger position because she's obviously the wiser one on this issue.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does Hillary look like an establishmentarian in her responses here, a typical -- and she is a pillar of postwar establishmentarianism in foreign policy? Is that true?

MR. O'DONNELL: Well, you know, I was in South Carolina for that debate. And in the room, in the debate chamber, I had the feeling that Obama won that exchange. In the spin room, there was no question about it; the press all agreed, we all agreed, that Hillary won the exchange in the debate. And she probably did, at that first stage in the country, win that round.

But I agree with Eleanor in how sharply Obama found a way to come back, found a way to link it to Iraq. Ultimately, though, Hillary has had the final word on this. She said late in the week this whole thing is silly, and she's right, because, as Eleanor says, there's virtually no difference between their positions.

MR. BUCHANAN: She gave him an opening, Larry.

She gave him that opening, which he came out with the second day and he clocked her. And she said it's silly. Why? She wants to shut it down.

MR. O'DONNELL: But I think --

MR. BUCHANAN: I agree; Obama is winning inside the Democratic --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's that again?

MR. BUCHANAN: Obama's winning inside the Democratic Party.

MR. O'DONNELL: It's a tie. It's a tie inside the party.

MS. CLIFT: It's a tie. The bigger issue here is that Hillary Clinton personally made that statement about Barack Obama being irresponsible and naive. The fact that she feels the need to go out and sort of try to take him down shows that the campaign rivalry is accelerating.

MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly.

MR. BLANKLEY: It's not necessarily the need. It could have been seen as the opportunity. I mean --

MS. CLIFT: Opportunity, whatever.

MR. BLANKLEY: -- because it looked to her team like a good hit and get the blood yourself.

MR. BUCHANAN: But somebody else should do it, not her. The candidate shouldn't go out there and attack someone that's lower than she is. You never do that.

MR. O'DONNELL: You saw a very sharp exchange from each one of them. It's actually good news for both campaigns --

MR. BUCHANAN: But that's what he wants. He's got to have --

MR. O'DONNELL: -- that they both have the ability --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who was the cleverer? MR. O'DONNELL: I don't think there was a winner in this thing.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He spun it around.

MR. O'DONNELL: No, but he was coming from behind. He may have caught up to her -- maybe.

MS. CLIFT: And she found --

MR. BUCHANAN: He came back --

MS. CLIFT: She found the initial opening.

MR. O'DONNELL: Right, she found the spot.

MS. CLIFT: I think they both showed themselves to be --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But she had to sacrifice something. You remember, the establishmentarians, bipartisan as they were, are the ones that got us into the war.

MS. CLIFT: But Hillary --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They voted for the resolution.

MS. CLIFT: Hillary Clinton has skittered away from her initial vote for the war. And secondly, she would have a very different foreign policy than President Bush.

MR. O'DONNELL: But the most important thing is --

MR. BUCHANAN: Now Obama --

MR. O'DONNELL: -- she is the one who was fastest on her feet in a live TV debate.

MR. BUCHANAN: First. First.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who has the more --

MR. O'DONNELL: And she will continue to be --

MR. BUCHANAN: Her second day was a mistake. I'll tell you, here's why it benefits Obama. He is now in a head-to-head fight and battle with Hillary, which he's got to get, because he's behind.

MR. BLANKLEY: But look --

MR. BUCHANAN: It was in her interest not to get into --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who's got the more room to grow? MR. BUCHANAN: He does now.

MR. BLANKLEY: Not necessarily at all. Look, I think they both played to their strengths.

MR. O'DONNELL: Yes.

MS. CLIFT: Exactly.

MR. BLANKLEY: She played to her strength, experience -- although she has no experience, but claiming to. He plays to new vision, new times, change the old order. So they both played to their strengths.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: At the end of the debate, Anderson Cooper had on a poll, and Hillary scored eight, lowest of them all, and Obama won it.

Exit question --

MS. CLIFT: It wasn't a poll. It was a focus group, I think.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What then?

MS. CLIFT: I think it was a focus group.

MR. O'DONNELL: Yeah, it was.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, was it? Focus group from within the YouTube community.

MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Who got the better of this exchange, Hillary or Obama? I think we know what your --

MR. BUCHANAN: No, no. Hillary got the better of the exchange in the debate, but Obama came back and won the second round.

MS. CLIFT: You know, again, I think it's a phony debate. They both performed well in their own corners, respective corners. I'm going to give it a draw.

MR. BLANKLEY: Oh, I think net it strengthened Hillary, because I think she's going to get the nomination. And she gave the right answer for the general election.

MR. O'DONNELL: I think it ends up a tie. I really do. I think Hillary wins the first round of this thing and I think Obama catches up to the point where it doesn't do him damage. And so that ends up being a tie. But it mostly, mostly, reflects badly on the current administration's frigid policy in relation to these kinds of questions. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I agree with you. I think you summed it up well --

MR. O'DONNELL: That's what I'm here for, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- which is a deviation we want to encourage. (Laughter.)

Issue Two: Gonzales Agonistes.

Alberto Gonzales, President Bush's beleaguered attorney general, was back on Congress's griddle this week, and the outcome was not a pretty sight.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D-NY): (From videotape.) He tells the half-truth, the partial truth and everything but the truth.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA): (From videotape.) Because he just doesn't tell the truth.

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT): (From videotape.) I am not willing to accept a simple statement of "Trust us." I don't trust you.

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R-PA): (From videotape.) I do not find your testimony credible, candidly.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: On how many occasions has Gonzales misspoken or misled Congress? Do you know, Pat?

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Patriot Act?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, look, he's in very real trouble. He has no real credibility left, John. But what he still has left is he's got a stubborn president who's loyal to him, who doesn't want to put him over the side, who thinks that would be a disaster for him, and who couldn't get his new attorney general through. So he's got some longevity.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why doesn't Gonzales do better covering his tracks? I mean, you know --

MS. CLIFT: He's either very canny or he's simply inept. And I'm going to go for the second explanation. And I wonder what the bond is between this president and this attorney general.

This last exchange, it clearly looks like he is lying. And the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Pat Leahy, has given him a week to change his testimony if he should reflect upon it and realize he's committed perjury. I mean, this is -- they're really getting into a constitutional showdown here over this attorney general.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, smoking gun.

In March 2004, Alberto Gonzales visited his predecessor, Attorney General John Ashcroft, at night in the hospital, in bed, half asleep and groggy from recent surgery. With Gonzales was Andrew Card, then Bush chief of staff; and, with him also, acting Attorney General James Comey.

The purpose of the visit was to get Ashcroft to sign off on an extension of the probably illegal existing program permitting the wiretapping of phone conversations and recording them without a warrant. Comey was opposed to the extension, as were the others. There was disagreement. But Gonzales denied there was disagreement over that eavesdropping program. ATTORNEY GENERAL ALBERTO GONZALES: (From videotape.) There's not been any serious disagreement about the program.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He repeated that denial again this week. Also this week, the head of the FBI, Robert Mueller, contradicted Gonzales' account that there was no disagreement.

(Begin videotaped segment.)

REP. MELVIN WATT (D-NC): You had some serious reservations about the warrantless wiretapping program.

ROBERT MUELLER: Yes.

(End videotaped segment.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: James Comey, the acting deputy attorney general, also contradicted Gonzales's story.

JAMES COMEY (former acting deputy attorney general): (From videotape.) I was very upset. I was angry. I thought I had just witnessed an effort to take advantage of a very sick man.

MR. MUELLER: (From videotape.) I don't dispute what Mr. Comey says.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Is this the smoking gun that will do Gonzales in?

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, it's a gun, and there's some smoke coming out of it. (Laughter.) But -- but --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who's holding it?

MR. BLANKLEY: But the problem for the Democrats, and arguably for the Republicans too, is that there's no one who can pull the trigger because it's the executive branch that has to prosecute it, and the president is certainly not going to.

I have to say that the Democrats sort of have to like this, because every day you've got Gonzales stories in the news, you're hurting the Republican Party's reputation. You see very few Republicans in Congress who want to defend him. But as you said, Gonzales has a constituency of one, and Bush is sticking with him.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why doesn't Bush cut him loose?

MR. BLANKLEY: I assume it's out of loyalty. He's been --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Loyalty or self-preservation?

MR. BLANKLEY: No, loyalty. MR. BUCHANAN: Loyalty --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who do you think told Gonzales to go to the hospital and extract from Ashcroft an agreement on eavesdropping without warrant?

MR. BLANKLEY: I have no idea, but it doesn't matter. Even if the president did that, he can certainly do that. The only problem Gonzales is in is he seems not to have said the truth to Congress on that matter. But as far as -- the president can tell an assistant to talk to one of his other employees, of course.

MS. CLIFT: Well, they --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you get the drift of my question to Anthony?

MR. O'DONNELL: This is very harmful to the president -- very harmful. I know the president thinks that it's completely up to him and he's not going to call for the resignation. Pat used the word stubborn. That's the problem. This creates an additional component to the imagery of stubbornness around the president, initially formed for the public by the Iraq policy.

This now sits beside the Iraq policy as yet another characteristic about this president that drives this White House into problems they can't get out of.

MR. BUCHANAN: There's a difference --

MS. CLIFT: And they have a history of cover-up that goes back to Texas, when Mr. Gonzales managed to get the then-Governor George Bush out of jury duty in order to conceal his DUI conviction.

MR. BUCHANAN: Right. But there's a difference between principled resolve and stubbornness.

MR. O'DONNELL: Right.

MR. BUCHANAN: And I believe that the president on this one is just being stubborn and determined. He thinks it's partisan. "They're savaging my guy, and I'm not giving him up."

MR. O'DONNELL: And that plays very badly.

MS. CLIFT: How could it be partisan? The Republicans are savaging him too.

MR. BUCHANAN: I'm not -- I was making the case from his standpoint.

MR. O'DONNELL: It plays very badly to a public that is worried about his stubbornness in relation to Iraq. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, we have the face-off -- monumental face-off, I think, history-making face-off -- between the White House and Congress. Do you believe, Pat, that this is an historic face-off that we are beginning to see take place between these two institutions?

MR. BUCHANAN: No. I do think this, John. On this issue -- on one issue I do support the president of the United States. You cannot let Congress drag up Karl Rove and Bolten and Harriet Miers and all your people and put them up there and question them. That is a violation of the separation of powers. On that one, the president will defend it, and I bet he will win.

MS. CLIFT: It's a --

MR. BUCHANAN: As for Gonzales --

MS. CLIFT: It's a violation --

MR. BUCHANAN: -- Gonzales is -- you know, he's under --

MS. CLIFT: It's a violation of constitutional oversight if the Congress doesn't look into the apparent --

MR. BLANKLEY: (Inaudible.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute. Wait a minute.

MS. CLIFT: -- (lies ?) of various administration officials about a critical national security program.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want Pat to answer that. What about Congress's responsibility for oversight into the conduct of the presidency under particularly these circumstances?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, they do. But here's my case. The U.S. attorneys -- Congress has nothing to do with appointing them or firing them.

MS. CLIFT: He's gone way beyond that.

MR. BUCHANAN: Hold it. Well, on that issue, I stand with the president. They've got a perfect right to bring up Gonzales, and if Gonzales perjures himself on something, to send it to the Justice Department. The problem is, the solicitor general will respond to the president and he won't prosecute.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The problem is that Bush is giving them the Italian salute. That's what he's doing.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. BLANKLEY: Let me answer your question, because I've been arguing for months that the White House and Congress are moving towards a constitutional fight in the courts, whether it's going to be --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think it's going to take place? We're talking history here.

MR. BLANKLEY: I don't think on Gonzales. I think it's more likely to be on Iraq-related legislation, either appropriations or authorization.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The problem is, it could become precedent in these situations that the Congress kind of walks away with its tail between its legs. MS. CLIFT: They can't.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you mean, they can't?

MS. CLIFT: They have to keep pressing on this.

MR. O'DONNELL: They're too far out there on the subpoenas.

MS. CLIFT: Right. And it could even lead to talk of impeaching this attorney general. It may never happen, but it's --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: When does it become counterproductive politically for Congress to continue to pursue this?

MR. BUCHANAN: They're at 14 percent.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What?

MR. BUCHANAN: Congress is at 14 percent. Look, take the contempt citations of these guys. The president of the United States has told the U.S. attorney, "Don't prosecute them."

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but Pat --

MR. BUCHANAN: They're going to have to go into court themselves, and Congress will lose.

MS. CLIFT: The country is not for having an attorney general who looks like he perjured himself and who is not leading a department.

MR. BUCHANAN: The country has --

MS. CLIFT: And you have bipartisan agreement on that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit: Will Gonzales last the weekend? Yes or no, Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: He's home free.

MS. CLIFT: I'm afraid he will.

MR. BLANKLEY: Yes. I see no reason why not.

MR. O'DONNELL: The president seems to be determined to give this gift to the Democrats --

MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He keeps on giving.

MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. O'DONNELL: -- keeping him in office. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I have a feeling he won't be around. I think it might take place, but not be announced till next week. I'll be amazed if the president continues this situation. Did you see --

MR. O'DONNELL: Well, there's no one in Congress who thinks this man should be the attorney general -- no one, absolutely no one.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, not only Congress --

MR. O'DONNELL: No one will go on television and defend him in the Senate -- no one.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three: Complete Victory.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: (From videotape.) Iraq is central to the war on terror. And against this enemy, America can accept nothing less than complete victory.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: First it was victory, then it was success, then finishing the job, and now our mission in Iraq -- we're back to victory, and complete victory.

Question: Has President Bush now come full-circle in his Iraq policy, back to complete victory? And, if so, if he's declaring that now, does that tell you that there's no give in the situation?

MR. O'DONNELL: I don't think it's easy to read any give in the president on this subject. But for that to come in the same week where his secretary of Defense has had to acknowledge to the junior senator from New York that, yes, we are doing plans that the secretary of Defense is supervising on how to withdraw troops from Iraq, that comes at the same time that he's talking about complete victory.

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, but that's a contingency that obviously is planned. But let me answer the question, because I think there are two reasons why Bush has gone back to the word victory. One, he's been advised that his base expects to hear him say victory if they're going to continue to support him.

MR. O'DONNELL: (Laughs.) That's the 26 percent?

MR. BLANKLEY: And two, and two, there's enough --

MR. O'DONNELL: Twenty-seven?

MR. BLANKLEY: -- good news militarily coming out of Iraq now to raise the expectations of those of us who support the war to think there may be yet a chance of victory.

MS. CLIFT: Applying the word victory --

MR. O'DONNELL: Which page of the newspaper is that on, the good news from Iraq? I missed that today. MR. BLANKLEY: Oh, it's all over the news if you actually look carefully.

MS. CLIFT: Well, American deaths are slightly down this month. I think that's the one thing --

MR. BLANKLEY: No. We've got the Sunni tribal leaders --

MS. CLIFT: Excuse me.

MR. BLANKLEY: -- are taking back Anbar. We're taking back the province north of that. There's a lot of success going on.

MS. CLIFT: Another 20 years and we'll be home free. Look, applying the word victory --

MR. BLANKLEY: No, I always said five to 10. We're on track.

MS. CLIFT: -- to Iraq is rhetorical nonsense.

MR. BLANKLEY: It's not nonsense.

MS. CLIFT: And you'll notice he does not define victory. He does not define victory.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me change the subject. Do you want to recount the letter that Hillary wrote to the new secretary of Defense and what he did with it and what happened to it?

MS. CLIFT: She basically asked the Pentagon what they were doing in terms of planning for an eventual exit from Iraq. And she got a letter back basically calling her un-American for even raising the question.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: From Edelman.

MR. BLANKLEY: Edelman.

MS. CLIFT: An assistant secretary.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Then she wrote again, and the secretary of Defense answered her directly. Did you note that?

MS. CLIFT: Well, he has written a very contrite letter, basically apologizing for the earlier response --

MR. BUCHANAN: John --

MS. CLIFT: -- and answering her letter, but still saying he stands behind the deputy.

MR. O'DONNELL: Saying they do have plans to withdraw, that he is managing the plan to withdraw troops from Iraq.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The secretary of Defense says that the contingency plans are drawn.

MR. BUCHANAN: Sure. Contingency plans are drawn. But, look, Hillary Clinton's on Armed Services. She's got every right to ask the question. She should not have been insulted by this neoconservative character who made a stupid mistake. And the secretary of Defense, I think, handled it very well, because he's an excellent diplomat.

MR. BUCHANAN: This secretary of Defense had a crying attack by reason of his giving a talk for a deceased Marine. Now he's apologizing to Hillary Clinton. What do you think Dick Cheney makes of this spectacle?

MR. O'DONNELL: (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: Well, I --

MR. O'DONNELL: Well, Dick Cheney doesn't tell me what he thinks of these things.

MS. CLIFT: I would point out that the person who wrote the letter that was insulting used to work for Dick Cheney.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Ah.

MR. BUCHANAN: But, you know, John, wait a minute. This is unfair. Look, the guy that was killed was the Lion of Fallujah, who was just a great human being and a great --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, I --

MR. BUCHANAN: It was very moving, and that was very natural. And I think it shows, when he writes to Hillary, that it's very diplomatic. And it's a smart move, in my judgment. Both of them were fully justified.

MS. CLIFT: And I would also add that everybody who dies in Iraq is worth crying over. And I do think the secretary of Defense is trying to find an honorable way out. I think he gets it, to use the vernacular of the day.

MR. BLANKLEY: He's trying to find a way out.

MS. CLIFT: Trying to find a way out.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, no one's answered my question of what Cheney thinks of it.

MR. O'DONNELL: Well, look, the secretary of Defense did, in his public display in that memorial, he did, in fact, add to the sense of sadness felt in this country about this war. And that's not the emotion Cheney is interested in trying to add to. He's trying to add to this country's resolve to fight this war.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He thinks that the secretary of Defense is off- message.

What political figure won the week? Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Hillary Clinton.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor. MS. CLIFT: I think Clinton and Obama, and Democrats in general.

MR. BLANKLEY: Clinton.

MR. O'DONNELL: Hillary with her letter.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Obama. He had a further distance to go and he went it.

Bye-bye.

(PBS segment.)

Issue Four: Unidentified Flying Objects.

Stratford-upon-Avon, the English town, 110 miles from London. One hundred-plus bystanders this week stood looking up at the night sky transfixed in wonder. Five bright objects hovered against the inky darkness.

Tom Hawks, an eyewitness, says, quote, "I saw these lights appear. They came over our heads in formation. Three had formed a triangular shape. Then another one came hurtling towards the rest. As it neared them, it suddenly slowed and stopped altogether. The objects were there for about half an hour. It was very eerie. They didn't make a sound and stayed still before moving slowly beyond the horizon. No stars in the sky; just them. It was the most extraordinary thing I've ever seen," unquote.

Such incidents have been on the increase in Great Britain, but this is the first time a large number of witnesses have been present.

Isn't it edifying that they went for Stratford-on-Avon and they skipped the millennium wheel? That's taste for you on the part of these aliens, wouldn't you say?

MR. BLANKLEY: Went to Shakespeare's hometown.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Shakespeare's hometown.

MR. BLANKLEY: But your future is not in the stars but in yourselves, right? Your fate. So maybe there's some connection there.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. Well, what about -- do you suppose they're terrorists?

MR. O'DONNELL: No, I'm not worried, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're not worried.

MR. O'DONNELL: Not worried at all. MR. BUCHANAN: It's -- (inaudible) -- for missile defense, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I want to make sure there's not one more thing we have to worry about.

MS. CLIFT: Well, I'm sure there's a good scientific --

MR. BUCHANAN: (Inaudible.)

MS. CLIFT: -- good scientific explanation. But maybe they are from another planet that didn't pay sufficient attention to global warming, and they're out scouting a new place.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's your level of credibility, Pat -- quickly -- one to 10 on there being extraterrestrial objects that are --

MR. BUCHANAN: Big zero.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Zero?

MS. CLIFT: I might have a .5.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Point-five?

MS. CLIFT: I think there could be something out there.

MR. O'DONNELL: I'm with Buchanan on science.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'll give it a one.

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, I think there's a 99 percent chance that there are, but about a 1 percent chance they could ever get here.

END.