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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN PANEL: PATRICK BUCHANAN, MSNBC; ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK; MONICA CROWLEY, SYNDICATED RADIO COMMENTATOR; MORT ZUCKERMAN, U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT TAPED: FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2007 BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF DECEMBER 1-2, 2007

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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Is the Tedium Over at Last?

In just one month, Republicans in Iowa will vote for which of eight candidates they want to head their party's presidential ticket. There is still no clear Republican front-runner for the presidential nomination. A sense of urgency, even tension, is now in the GOP air. That tension was felt at their televised debate this week, particularly on the issue of immigration, which consumed the heated first one half-hour of the two-hour session.

The issue of safe-haven cities for illegal immigrants, city sanctuaries, where illegals can find refuge and protection, brought Romney and Giuliani into a testy faceoff. (Begin videotaped segment.)

ANDERSON COOPER (CNN): Governor Romney, was New York a sanctuary city?

FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY (Republican presidential candidate): Absolutely. It called itself a sanctuary city. The mayor actually brought a suit to maintain its sanctuary- city status. This just happens to be a difference between Mayor Giuliani and myself, and probably others on the stage as well, which is we're going to have to recognize in this country that we welcome people here legally. But the mayor said, and I quote almost verbatim, which is, "If you happen to be in this country in an undocumented status" -- and that means you're here illegally -- "then we welcome you here. We want you here. We'll protect you here." That's the wrong attitude.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Giuliani swiftly returned fire.

FORMER NEW YORK MAYOR RUDY GIULIANI (Republican presidential candidate): (From videotape.) But Mitt generally criticizes people in a situation in which he's had far the worse record. For example, in his case there were six sanctuary cities. He did nothing about them. There was even a sanctuary mansion. At his own home, illegal immigrants were being employed -- (applause) -- not being turned in to anybody or by anyone. So I would say he had a sanctuary mansion, not just sanctuary cities.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Which is worse in terms of lack of due diligence -- Romney not asking for green cards, or Giuliani not asking his business partner and long-time friend, Bernie Kerik, about taking kickbacks and bribes before recommending Kerik to head the Department of Homeland Security?

Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, Romney had a good debate, and that folks working on his loan is something that happens to everybody. It's not his responsibility.

The mayor of New York has a very grave situation. He himself delightedly enforced a sanctuary-city policy where illegal aliens arrested by cops could not be asked their status of illegality. They were forbidden to do that.

Also, with regard to Kerik and the other scandals that have hit Rudy, they've hit him at a terrible time, one month before the Iowa caucuses. They've stopped any momentum. He was very much off his game at the debate. And I think that Rudy Giuliani has run into very, very serious problems, and he is declining as the front-runner. And frankly, I think Romney not only had a good debate, but Romney -- I think you have to begin to consider him the favorite for the nomination. Just maybe one other thing could interfere with it, and that's a defeat in Iowa by Huckabee.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, don't take the bloom off the Giuliani issue. We're going to get into that in a moment. We're talking about his use of statistics and alleged facts.

Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Look, green cards is a public policy issue. The other issue about Kerik does go to Giuliani's character. But Mr. Romney reeks of inauthenticity. And the way these two went after each other, in the most mean-spirited way, about immigration, they both looked petty. They hurt each other. And the demolition derby that they set off could well open the path for somebody like John McCain, who frankly was just about the only contender on the stage who showed a measure of dignity in that debate.

And in terms of immigration, it's one of the few times I feel sorry for President Bush. He tried to do the right thing on this issue. He didn't have the political clout to pull it off. But these characters are branding the Republican Party in a way that's going to hurt the party for decades, the way Pete Wilson did in California, turning California nice and blue, and it used to be a toss-up state.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Look, the number one issue among conservatives is not social issues at all. It's illegal immigration. And in this exchange, Rudy Giuliani looked the most vulnerable. All of these Republican candidates now have gotten hip to how important illegal immigration is as an issue among their base. Even John McCain, who was for the president's proposal that Eleanor cited, even he's gotten tougher about border security.

So on this issue, and coming right out of the gate on this debate, Giuliani looked vulnerable. And from that point on, he sort of recovered from it, but barely. And I agree with Eleanor on the point about Rudy coming at Romney on a personal basis. You saw those focus groups of conservatives. They did not like that at all. They like it when Rudy and the other Republicans go after Hillary Clinton in that sort of attack-dog mode, but they don't want them going after each other like that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you saying that New York City is a sanctuary city?

MS. CROWLEY: When Rudy Giuliani was mayor, yes, it was. And it's coming back to haunt him.

MR. BUCHANAN: Still is. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you have to say, Mort?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, number one, the only person, in my judgment, who came out of that whole debate on immigration with any degree of humanity and style was Huckabee when he said basically, you know, the children of people who may be here illegally do not deserve to be maltreated and mistreated by this country. We're better than that. And I thought there was some degree of humanity in the way he responded.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think he hedged on the Jesus issue? (Laughter.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Did he hedge on the Jesus issue? No, I don't think --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know what the issue was.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What would Jesus have done?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Right.

I thought he handled it --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can you shed any light on that?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: It's my field, actually, so I thank you for asking me. (Laughter.)

Look, I do think he showed a wonderful sense of perspective and humor with a question like that when he basically said, "And he's not running for office."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Jesus would not have run for office.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: He would not have run for office. I thought that was quite wonderful. And that's part of what makes him appealing. I agree; I thought Romney came across as a slick salesman. I found him totally inauthentic. There were so many times when he was dodging and bobbing and weaving, you know, really trying to calculate wherever it was he thought he could get the maximum number of votes. But I do think that Huckabee came across and he was the winner in the debate.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute. Romney said declaratively, "I made a mistake. I made a mistake. I erred on the abortion issue and the other issues." Doesn't that give him some authenticity?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: If you believe --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why are you so tough on him?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: If you believe that -- okay, if you believe that there was a point in his life where he realized he made a mistake, rather than figuring out he's no longer running in a liberal state like Massachusetts but is running nationally --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't give him any credit at all. Okay.

MR. BUCHANAN: You know, Mort, look --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on, Pat. Hold on.

Okay, Giuliani unraveling? (Begin videotaped segment.)

MR. COOPER: Politico broke a story a few hours ago questioning your accounting of taxpayer dollars as mayor. They say that as mayor, the report says you took trips to the Hamptons and expensed the cost of your police detail to obscure city offices. One, is that true? And, if so, was it appropriate?

MR. GIULIANI: First of all, it's not true. I had 24-hour security for the eight years that I was mayor. They followed me every place I went. It was because there were, you know, threats; threats that I don't generally talk about. Some have become public recently. Most of them haven't. And they took care of me, and they put in their records and they handled them in the way they handled them. I had nothing to do with the handling of their records. And they were handled, as far as I know, perfectly appropriately.

(End videotaped segment.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That was derived from Politico.com. What's Politico?

MR. BUCHANAN: Politico.com, John, is a website. And there's a lot of fine reporters who left The Washington Post, and they're grouped into this thing and they've got a three-year contract to see if the thing works. But it broke a story. Now, this story, I think, is somewhat phony. It says that Rudy went out to the Hamptons to visit his girlfriend, which he did. His security detail was with him.

However, they buried the cost of the security detail into this fund of lawyers for the poor and these other things. So it looks like a little finagling to cover it up back there then. I don't know that it's serious. But it's serious in this sense. It brings up the fact that Rudy was gone with a woman when he was married. And that may not hurt him in New York, although the News and the Post played it up very big. It will hurt him badly in Iowa and among the Christian conservatives and others.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, when he visited her, he had the cops escort him to visit her.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, the cops had to escort him.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And he said there were death threats.

MR. BUCHANAN: The cops had to --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What was that all about?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, he got death threats all the time. But the cops had to escort him. What he did, he took it and financed it --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, why didn't he put it in the proper column -- MR. BUCHANAN: Well, you're right. But I don't think that's --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- instead of hiding it behind these --

MR. BUCHANAN: It would not be -- they held that out --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- obscure entities?

MR. BUCHANAN: They held that out, and somebody dropped this on him. That's where Rudy's right. This was a hit.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Giuliani uses facts and statistics to make his arguments about his successes as mayor of New York. Facts and statistics have become the core of his presidential campaign, in fact. But The New York Times has revealed at length -- this was in the Friday edition -- Giuliani's statistics and accounts are often erroneous, and the direction of error is consistently in his favor. Spinning is said to be okay if it means presenting the facts in the most favorable light. But spinning definitely does not include distortion. Distortion is lying.

Question: Is it true to say that character questions about Giuliani exist due to his distorted statements, many of them as listed by the Times and the New York Post and Politico.com and Politico itself, the printed newspaper, the sense of entitlement to public resources to carry out an affair, his blind eye to the shortcomings of colleagues like Kerik? Do these show that Giuliani is arrogant when it comes to power and raise serious questions of character so that Giuliani now is in a political danger zone? Yes or no?

MS. CLIFT: Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat Buchanan.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes or no to a question that is a leading question, as they say?

MS. CROWLEY: Loaded questions, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it true or untrue?

MR. BUCHANAN: It is true.

MS. CLIFT: Anybody who lived in New York until 9/11 saw Rudy Giuliani as a dictator and somebody who you would not want to ascend to national office. Nine-eleven changed all that. And so far his 9/11 leadership on that one day has trumped concerns about his personal life, plus the fact that the Republicans seem to think that he's the best candidate to beat Hillary Clinton.

MR. BUCHANAN: But, you know, this has come -- Eleanor, that is behind the times. This is coming at a time -- his car is moving off into a ditch at the very wrong moment, John. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you see this unraveling even more, now that the --

MR. BUCHANAN: They're piling -- all this stuff is floating out at an opportune time for the enemies of Rudy Giuliani.

MS. CROWLEY: Right. And that is the point, because --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think it shows arrogance for power?

MS. CROWLEY: Wait a minute. Because Rudy Giuliani is beginning to slip in the polls, not unlike Hillary Clinton on the other side of this race, this is the moment where it could tip. We are four weeks away from the Iowa caucus. This -- I agree with Pat; this was a hit job. So you have to ask yourself, who benefits from this story coming out now, two hours before the Republican debate this week? Who on the other side needs to change the subject?

MS. CLIFT: No, it's Mitt Romney.

MS. CROWLEY: The junior senator from the state of New York. This story is five years old, John. Come on.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think Hillary is responsible for this?

MS. CROWLEY: No, I'm saying that Rudy Giuliani put a lot upon himself.

MS. CLIFT: The likely culprit --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort, this is your strong suit. Follow the money. Is there any money involved?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, there's no money involved.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There is money. There's money for -- $650,000 is what is said to be --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- what Rudy spent on these various expenses.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: John, he had a security detail 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for eight years.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, why doesn't he declare it? Why does he hide it?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That is an open issue. He's not hiding it, okay?

MS. CLIFT: He doesn't.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I mean, he isn't hiding it. But, look, let's go to the statistics.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know that there are --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Let me go to the statistics issue. What they are attacking him for -- look, there are a lot of problems with Rudy Giuliani, but he was absolutely successful as a mayor in terms of diminishing the crime rate, diminishing the whole welfare program, which was completely out of control, and giving the city the feeling that this city could be governed.

When he came into office a year before, 60 percent of the people of New York said they would leave the city in a day. Now everybody wants to come back to the city. So he did a job. I'm not saying it was perfect. The second term was much worse than the first. And he --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why is there no slack for him? People either love him or hate him.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Because he's a very difficult person. He's not the most likable person in the world, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you want him as president of the United States?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I'm not going to make my comment right now. There's one man I would like to be president of the United States --

MR. BUCHANAN: John, he was --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- and it is the mayor of New York, but it's the current mayor of New York.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know what it is said he needed those cops for to follow him on their motorcycles all the way down to the Hamptons? So that they could keep away a divorce complainant seeking a divorce so that she wouldn't take pictures of him with her --

MR. BUCHANAN: That is absurd.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about that?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I'm shocked, actually, because we were trying to get those pictures for the New York Daily News.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think it was death threats or he was eluding Ms. Hanover?

MR. BUCHANAN: John --

MS. CLIFT: I'm going to jump in and defend -- I'm going to defend Rudy Giuliani. This shouldn't be about his personal life. And I think we're --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There is taxpayer money involved here. Follow the money, Eleanor.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, that is unfair. MS. CLIFT: I've followed the money --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, look, in the bracket you're in, because of doing this show --

MS. CLIFT: I've followed the money in other areas of his governance, where he did a very good job.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Who, if anyone, gained political momentum coming out of this latest Republican debate? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: Ron Paul was one. I think Romney was another because he held his own, and he is the front-runner in the early primaries. I think Huckabee did well; I agree with you. But I agree with Mort. Look, this is a very unfair shot. It's an excessive shot at Rudy. But there's no doubt it hurts him because it focuses on the personal stuff.

MS. CLIFT: Right. And if anybody has an interest in taking him down now, it's Mitt Romney, not Hillary Clinton. But in terms of momentum, I think Mr. Huckabee came out again looking like a --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think Iowa is Huckabee's now?

MS. CLIFT: -- looking like somebody who's --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think he's wrapped up -- Huckabee's wrapped up Iowa?

MS. CLIFT: I wouldn't say he's wrapped it up, but he could well win Iowa. But then what? I don't think he's --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you predicting that?

MR. BUCHANAN: No, see --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you predicting a Huckabee win or not?

MS. CLIFT: Why not? Sure.

MS. CROWLEY: No, I'm not. I am predicting a Mitt Romney win. I think he came out with the most momentum. I disagree with Mort on this. I think he looked much more comfortable in his skin. He was far less rehearsed and scripted this time around. He comes out the winner.

MR. BUCHANAN: If Romney wins --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you hear what she said? She said he's practically pastiche.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, if Romney wins Iowa, he wins the nomination. MS. CLIFT: Look, if --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who?

MR. BUCHANAN: If Romney wins Iowa, he wins New Hampshire; he'll win Michigan and he'll win South Carolina.

MS. CLIFT: If Al Gore --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I disagree with that. I think Huckabee was the winner of this debate. I think he's going to narrow the gap. He'll be either first or a close second to Romney, and people will be focusing on Huckabee as the winner. And I disagree with you, Pat, because there's another state that you left out, which is before February the 5th, and that's Florida. And Giuliani is going to win Florida.

MR. BUCHANAN: He's going to go oh for four and win the first race? Are you kidding?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I'll bet you he wins Florida right now, and I'll bet you the amount of money that I get paid for this show. That puts me into a whole new tax bracket.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Laughs.)

MR. BUCHANAN: If Romney wins Iowa, I'll take your bet on Florida.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Okay.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It was Huckabee, but Romney held his own. And I think it was a bit of a loser for Rudy.

Issue Two: Promises, Promises.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: (From videotape.) I pledge to devote my effort during my time as president to do all I can to help you achieve this ambitious goal. I give you my personal commitment to support your work with the resources and resolve of the American government.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Israel's prime minister, Ehud Olmert, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and President Bush met this week at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Olmert and Abbas signed what historians will doubtless call the Annapolis Declaration. It pledges two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace.

In the fine print of the Annapolis Declaration is a clause that hands to the U.S. the ownership of the peace process. The U.S. will monitor and judge the parties' commitment to the U.S.-U.N.-EU-Russian quarter road map launched four years ago.

The U.S. role as the solitary judge of performance in fulfilling the new road map should please the Israelis. When Israel accepted the '03 road map, it insisted that the U.S. would be the sole monitor and judge. Ariel Sharon, then prime minister, wanted to exclude the European Union, United Nations and Russia, who were less supportive of Israel than Washington. Sharon succeeded. But that plan, the '03 road map, never got off the ground anyway.

Question: Iran has already pledged to disrupt the peace process through Hamas and Hezbollah. Are the talks doomed from the start? Mort Zuckerman.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, I don't think they're doomed, even without Hamas and Hezbollah. And I think they're a real threat to the possibility that these talks might go anywhere. These talks are going to be very, very difficult. It took them three months for the Israelis and the Palestinians to get together. They couldn't agree on a general statement of what the issues were. They only have a year, under the glare of publicity, to see if they can resolve all of them. So I think it's going to be very difficult.

Nevertheless, this is just the beginning. It's not the end. And if the president just gives a peace process to his successor, he'll be doing very well.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Were all of the Arab states, or more properly the Muslim states, in the region there, including Syria, with the exception of Iran?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Do you think that this peace process, which came out of the blue, was designed for the reasons that we all suspect, namely, that the president has to do something with his legacy, and also Condoleezza Rice? But is it also de facto kind of rimming off everybody except Iran? Does it play a role in isolating Iran?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think there's no doubt but that that is a part of it, because what you had is a visible gathering of all the Sunni countries and a number of the Arab countries basically saying, "We are still basically working with the United States." And Iran was on the outside, as was Hamas and Hezbollah.

But, having said that, the principal motivator of this meeting was the relationship that Abu Mazen, the leader of the Palestinians, and Olmert, the leader of the Israelis, have established over the last three months in private meetings. That was what generated --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How much --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- generated the sense that --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How much of this whole undertaking that took place at Annapolis, how much of it is owing to separating out Iran --

MR. BUCHANAN: No, John, let me tell you --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you follow me on this?

MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah, I do. You say they're getting them all together against Iran. What this is about is a Nobel Prize for Bush --

MS. CLIFT: Oh, please.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- and for Olmert and for the Palestinians. MS. CLIFT: Not happening.

MR. BUCHANAN: The hope is that it will be. But all three are too weak to deliver an agreement.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean, this is going to be Nobel Prize quartet?

MR. BUCHANAN: They're all going for a great achievement at the end of their careers.

MS. CLIFT: But they're --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, Olmert's warning. I'll let you in in just a minute.

In Jerusalem later in the week, Ehud Olmert said this: "The day will come when the two-state solution collapses and we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights. As soon as that happens, the state of Israel is finished. The Jewish organizations which were our power base in America will be the first to come out against us, because they will say they cannot support a state that does not support democracy and equal voting rights for all its residents."

Question: What is Olmert saying beyond what we are seeing here? You --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I'll be honest with you. I don't know what in the world he is saying, to be honest with you.

MS. CLIFT: I know what he's saying.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's saying, "We've got to do it now."

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I know what -- listen, I agree that they have to do it now. But the alternatives that he describes are not the only two alternatives in the future if it doesn't work.

MS. CLIFT: He's saying demography is destiny, and if they don't establish a Jewish state and a Palestinian state, they will be overrun.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean that the rate of growth of the population --

MS. CLIFT: That's right. And the fact that this conference came off is a tribute to Condoleezza Rice. She personally pushed for it. It may not bear fruit. But frankly, the next administration, especially if it's a Democratic one, if she really is putting her heart and soul into this, they ought to give her a job in the next administration. This has to continue. MS. CROWLEY: Olmert was talking about the state of Israel being finished. The state of Israel is going to be finished for another reason, and that is that, in this whole process, there is little to no incentive for the Arabs to do a deal with Israel now. Why? Because Iran is building nuclear weapons with which to annihilate Israel. You've got Syria maybe also developing nuclear weapons with help from the Iranians and the North Koreans. You've got their terrorist proxies in Hezbollah and Hamas --

MS. CLIFT: Israel is not going to be finished.

MS. CROWLEY: -- increasing power -- hold on -- increasing power right on the border.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Whose proxies? Iran's proxies.

MS. CROWLEY: And now they control Lebanon and Gaza. While Israel's enemies are on the upswing, John, there is no incentive for them to make peace.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, but don't you understand what they've done with this? They've created the Sunni wall.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, what --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Everybody is inside that wall except Iran.

MS. CROWLEY: The Sunni Arabs have made a clear distinction in their minds between Iran going nuclear, and they're worried about that --

MR. BUCHANAN: One small point, John, one small point.

MS. CROWLEY: -- and the Arab-Israeli problem, without which --

MR. BUCHANAN: One small point, John.

MS. CROWLEY: -- they cannot survive.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, let me make a small point. What Olmert is talking about, if we don't get a two-state solution, there'll be a one-state solution in Palestine, in which case you would have an apartheid situation. But no Israeli is going to have a one-state solution and annex all those --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, another perspective.

"The Middle East peace process may well be the most spectacular deception in modern diplomatic history. Since the failed Camp David summit of 2000, and actually well before it, Israel's interest in a peace process, other than for the purpose of obtaining Palestinian and international acceptance of the status quo, has been a fiction that has served primarily to provide cover for its systematic confiscation of Palestinian land and an occupation whose goal, according to the former IDF chief of staff, Moshe Yaalon, is 'to sear deep into the consciousness of Palestinians that they are a defeated people.'"

Henry Siegman is the director of the U.S. Middle East Project at the Council on Foreign Relations, and he led the Jewish-American Congress for 16 years.

Question: Is the crux of the problem that Israel has no stake in a lasting peace agreement, as Henry Siegman says?

MS. CROWLEY: I will tell you, his statement is absurd. And I will tell you the crux of the problem. This peace conference is going to end up like all the previous ones for one simple reason. As long as you have one party that refuses to admit that the other party has a right to exist, John, there is no process, because there's no peace.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort, speak to this, will you? Then Eleanor. MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, no, I actually don't think what he is saying is true at all, and the record is completely different from it. I mean, the Israelis --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Israel wants the status quo. That's what he's saying.

MR. BUCHANAN: Not Israel.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, but he said more than that. He said that Israel has never wanted to develop two separate states. I mean, look what happened in 1967.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, with the partition of Israel, they accepted that the U.N. -- or the Israelis accepted it. The Palestinians didn't. In 1967 they offered the same thing. They got the three --

MR. BUCHANAN: John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We have to get out.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: There have been many times where the Israelis have offered a Palestinian state and it's been rejected because, as Monica said, the Palestinians have never accepted an Israeli state.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: By the way, he wrote, of course, a much longer piece that appeared in the London Review of Books. I recommend it.

Out of time. Bye-bye.

(PBS segment.)

Issue Three: Santa, You Fatso.

Does Santa Claus put his own name on his Christmas list? Let's assume he does. So what does he say about himself? Has he been bad or good? How about when it comes to eating? Santa is very overweight. And more people than ever are like Santa, overweight and beyond -- obese.

The holiday season is traditionally the get-fat season. One British shopping center is making sure that their Santas set a good example and are getting in shape. Under a fitness professional, Santas are pushing up, pumping up and lifting up, breaking sweat at a 30-day Santa boot camp.

Question: Where do we get the idea that Santa Claus is fat?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: You're asking me? (Laughs.) Are you looking at me? MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There was a poem written in 1823.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Really? Wow, I didn't know that.

MR. BUCHANAN: But what do you expect, John? You've got about --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Something about a belly like jelly.

MR. BUCHANAN: You've got a bachelor living at the North Pole with a bunch of elves. Of course he's going to eat a lot and get fat.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you object to the fact that he's a bad example for our younger people who are suffering from an obesity crisis?

MR. BUCHANAN: No. You look at him and you say you don't want to be like that guy.

MS. CLIFT: I can't imagine any young person is looking at Santa Claus as a model of what they want to look like. (Laughter.)



END.