THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN PANEL: PATRICK BUCHANAN, MSNBC; ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK; MONICA CROWLEY, SYNDICATED RADIO COMMENTATOR; CLARENCE PAGE, THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE TAPED: FRIDAY, MARCH 14, 2008 BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF MARCH 15-16, 2008
Copyright (c) 2008 by Federal News Service, Inc., Ste. 500 1000 Vermont Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20005, USA. Federal News Service is a private firm not affiliated with the federal government. No portion of this transcript may be copied, sold or retransmitted without the written authority of Federal News Service, Inc. Copyright is not claimed as to any part of the original work prepared by a United States government officer or employee as a part of that person's official duties. For information on subscribing to the FNS Internet Service, please visit http://www.fednews.com or call(202)347-1400
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Client Number Nine.
High-priced call girls. Eliot Spitzer resigned as governor of New York on Wednesday in the wake of allegations that he spent tens of thousands of dollars on them.
Spitzer rose to power as a crusader for higher ethical standards. He earned a national reputation for his crackdown on Wall Street when he served as New York attorney general. Governor Spitzer will be succeeded by Lieutenant Governor David Paterson, who will become the first African-American governor ever of New York State. Spitzer will officially step down on Monday, March 17, at noon -- 441 days after he took office. OUTGOING NEW YORK GOVERNOR ELIOT SPITZER (D): (From videotape.) In the past few days, I have begun to atone for my private failings with my wife Silda, my children, and my entire family.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Why would Spitzer expose himself to such a risk? Pat Buchanan.
MR. BUCHANAN: Stupidity, John. Arrogance is another thing; recklessness. Here's a man who must have thought he could get away with anything; you know, bringing hookers into the Mayflower Hotel when he prosecuted hookers. He's got political enemies all over the place.
This is the only explanation for this, John. I can't understand it. He's the least sympathetic figure I've seen get into one of these messes, because he prosecuted people for prostitution and he went after the private lives of some of these guys he was getting on other things. It is really -- I mean, his performance and behavior is inexplicable and indefensible.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think it was twisted, his behavior?
MS. CLIFT: I'm not going to pass moral judgment on what he did. In fact, prostitution is legal in Nevada and --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.
MS. CLIFT: -- many parts of the world.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He could have flown there.
MS. CLIFT: But he is a prosecutor who cracked down on prostitution rings, and he's like the pyrotechnic who goes back to the scene of the crime. I agree it's arrogance. It's more stupidity than morality. And whatever drove him to do this, that's a whole subject for a psychological profile. He's a driven personality. He was raised to be perfect. Every night at the dinner table in his family, they would come with an issue of the day to discuss. So he's been on the fast track since he was a child. And, you know, why he fell off is something I don't know, and I don't think I want to know. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think it was some kind of a reckless plunge? He knew the law was against prostitution in Iraq. He knew that.
MS. CROWLEY: Right. And as Pat points out, he's been prosecuting prostitution rings. And in his statements -- I went back and looked at some of the cases that he prosecuted over time -- he railed against the exploitation of women who are caught up in prostitution. He prosecuted the prostitutes and the madames and the johns, and he talked about how these girls get sucked into drug addiction and physical and mental abuse, how they get drawn into the orbit of organized crime.
I mean, he prosecuted the stuff with such great passion that the recklessness and irrationality of the chief law enforcement officer of the state of New York, who had been attorney general, who knows better -- I mean, John, do you know what city in the entire country has more escort services per square mile than any other? Washington, D.C. So why couldn't he find a girl in Washington rather than schlep the girl across state lines on Amtrak? I mean, none of it makes any sense.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Diplomatic community? Diplomatic community here -- their needs?
MR. BUCHANAN: The journalistic community, John. (Laughs.)
MR. PAGE: It's not just diplomats, John.
MS. CROWLEY: That might be just -- (inaudible) -- though.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was there any discovery on the part of Spitzer of Mob involvement in prostitution?
MS. CROWLEY: You know, there is some bubbling, and it hasn't been widely reported yet, but there is --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is that?
MS. CROWLEY: There's some bubbling going on that the Gambino crime family, who was busted by the feds about eight weeks ago, that there is some tie between the Gambino crime family and the use of this particular prostitution ring, and that once they busted the Mob, that this escort service percolated up and that, you know, it produced the governor of New York. And they sort of stumbled on it in the course of this organized crime bust.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was this an act of vengeance that was behind -- did the Mob reach in at all and communicate anything to the FBI?
MS. CROWLEY: I don't know. That hasn't been reported yet, and I don't know anything about that.
MR. PAGE: Thank you, Mario Puzo. (Laughter.)
MS. CLIFT: Wait for the movie, John. (Laughs.)
MR. PAGE: Yeah. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, it did work its way through the Department of Justice. And -- what's his name?
MR. BUCHANAN: They picked it up on wiretaps, money laundering. This prostitution is involved, as Monica says, in all kinds of crime, corruption, abuse. People who say it's a victimless crime should look at that guy's wife.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We're going to get into the role of the banks. And the old rule was if you take out $10,000 or above, then they kind of track what you're doing more closely.
Well, it's a lot more than that that they tracked -- a lot more than that.
MR. PAGE: Well, he's still under investigation for --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And we ought to do an issue on that.
MR. PAGE: Well, yeah, you know, like, for example, structuring, which is illegal activity that one uses in order to hide money. Spitzer has been under investigation for that. We don't know yet if he might yet be prosecuted or may do a plea bargain or something like this. It's more than just prostitution involved here.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, his legal --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Have your Democratic friends said that there is a political play out of this?
MR. PAGE: A political play?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He was a super-delegate to Hillary Clinton.
MR. PAGE: If there's anything we know about these sex scandals is they're bipartisan, John. I don't know there's going to be a particular --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Democrats seem to be involved in a lot of these, more than the Republicans.
MS. CLIFT: John --
MR. PAGE: I'm arguing Republicans are involved more, so there.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)
MR. PAGE: I mean, you know, I don't have a dog in this hunt, but --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm talking raw, libidinal activity.
MR. PAGE: -- let me say men are involved in this a heck of a lot more than women. How about that? MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You've said nothing here about the other public policy question, and that's the following. The following countries have legalized prostitution, okay? You've got Australia, Brazil, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Mexico, New Zealand, the Netherlands and Turkey.
MR. BUCHANAN: So what?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think it's time for us to contemplate the legalization of prostitution?
MR. PAGE: Well, Sweden has illegalized prostitution for the johns, and this has cut back on prostitution tremendously over there. It's been a controversial thing. Some folks say --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Where?
MR. PAGE: Sweden. Some folks say that this has actually made it worse for the women --
MR. BUCHANAN: John, this is state law here.
MR. PAGE: -- in the long run. But we do see some countries going in the other direction.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, there's --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Don't you realize it was the bishops who, in the 15th century, installed the legalization of prostitution?
MR. PAGE: No. Thank you for that nugget of history, though.
MR. BUCHANAN: It's a state law.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, yes. (Inaudible) -- as far as immorality is concerned and how to contain it. What about if you had legalized prostitution in Africa? Would that eliminate a lot of AIDS? And how would you install it there anyway?
MR. PAGE: I don't know that it would. I think --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If you're putting this on an economic scale, do you think that prostitution -- we could well benefit, all things considered?
MS. CLIFT: As far as public policy is set, I would settle for the Bush administration allowing condoms to be freely distributed. I don't think we're going to legalize prostitution any time soon. And I want to point out that the legal jeopardy that Eliot Spitzer is in apparently seems to be either minor or non-existent.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you want to comment on the legalization of prostitution? MS. CROWLEY: Well, as I mentioned before, since Washington, D.C. has the highest per capita amount of hookers per person --
MR. PAGE: And the terms of --
MS. CROWLEY: -- you may get legalization. You're never going to get legalization in the United States of America, certainly not any time soon. And you know what? Those countries that have legalized it --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm talking about what do you think on the merits? What is your view on the merits --
MR. BUCHANAN: My view is --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- when you consider the social aspects, the economic aspects, the containment aspects --
MS. CROWLEY: John, when you look at study after study --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- the health aspects?
MS. CROWLEY: -- it shows not just the exploitation and the degradation of women who are in this industry, whether it's legalized or not -- drug addiction; even though the government monitors the transmission of diseases in this country, disease goes up. Addiction goes up. Abuse goes up. You see these numbers in these countries.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, I've heard that.
MS. CROWLEY: And they're skyrocketing.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I heard Larry King and the doctor who was on that, the consultant saying it's devastating for women. But I've also read some of the writings of women who have been in the profession --
MS. CROWLEY: No, but --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and they seem to emerge all right.
MS. CROWLEY: Come on, John, if you find one woman who says, "I'm not being exploited; I'm making a ton of money, and it's a great business for me," you've got 10,000 women who will argue the exact opposite.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're looking at me kind of funny. What's the matter?
MR. BUCHANAN: No, look, John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's hear it for secular public policy. You don't see the merits outweighing -- MR. BUCHANAN: No, John.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- on the side of legalization?
MR. BUCHANAN: First, it is state law. Nevada has had their Mustang Ranch and Bunny Ranch. But, look, a moral community has a right to set standards and write those standards into law. That's why we don't have free narcotics.
That's why we don't have, you know, sex with children and things like that.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But we also close a blind eye to $12 billion in pornography, and out-of-wedlock --
MR. BUCHANAN: That is the sign -- John, out of these things comes the general corruption of society. Organized crime feeds on it. Look what happened --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It seems when you get into an economic contract, we draw the line. What is that?
MS. CLIFT: Organized --
MR. BUCHANAN: Economics uber alles is what's killing this country. Look how Rudy Giuliani cleaned up New York. He got the prostitution, the X-rated movies. He got the garbage out.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That is not lawful prostitution.
MR. BUCHANAN: That is pornography.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If it were under the control of laws --
MR. BUCHANAN: You want to legalize prostitution and pornography both?
MS. CLIFT: I have never seen you guys get so worked up over an issue. (Laughter.) I must say that the fact that this is illegal is why it draws in organized crime. You can say the same about drugs. But we are nowhere near in this country to recognizing that this is human activity that's going to go on, regardless, and we ought to make it safe.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do I hear you correctly? You're saying that --
MR. BUCHANAN: Legalize it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- we would crush or we would put lines around what the Mob can do if it were legal? MS. CLIFT: Yeah, I would agree with that, yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You would agree with it.
Would you agree with it?
MR. PAGE: I would agree with that.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Would you agree with that?
MS. CROWLEY: But aren't you making --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You are so committed to your --
MS. CROWLEY: You're making -- well, no, I'm making a moral argument and I am trying to counterbalance your economic argument, because you're saying --
MS. CLIFT: This is a moral argument as well.
MS. CROWLEY: -- there's this whole underground thing that can't be taxed, right?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, now, wait a minute. What's the morality of it?
MR. BUCHANAN: You are all about money, John.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the morality of it?
MS. CROWLEY: You're saying if you make it legal, you can tax it, right?
MR. BUCHANAN: You are a libertarian, John. You are a libertarian. It's all about money.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm saying that a contract for sex is --
MR. BUCHANAN: A legal, binding contract.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- a clinical servicing for many people, and it stops there. Now, where is the moral dimension of that?
MR. BUCHANAN: Where were you raised?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Where was I raised? (Laughs.)
MR. BUCHANAN: Where's the immorality of selling sex? What happens to the family? Look at that woman, his wife.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, not so.
MR. BUCHANAN: Look at his wife. Look at his children. Look at his girls. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm arguing this more than I intended to do. But I will, for the sake of this show.
MR. BUCHANAN: I think you're all out there, John. You're way out there.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is not necessarily my POV.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)
MS. CROWLEY: Right, but you're also making a very --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I will say, you will find -- what was the last point you made?
MR. BUCHANAN: The family. Look at what happens to the family.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You will find people who say --
MS. CLIFT: If it were a legal activity, the family would not be disgraced.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- that if this is allowed, people stay together longer.
MR. BUCHANAN: You think those girls would not be disgraced if their father was out with a hooker?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, let's get out.
MS. CLIFT: If it were a legal and private activity, they would not be disgraced --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Excuse me.
MS. CLIFT: -- if it's the family you're worried about.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Should Eliot be prosecuted and lose his law license, or is the incoming New York governor, David Paterson, right; Spitzer has suffered enough?
MR. BUCHANAN: Spitzer's supposed to be an example for people. He was a prosecutor. He should be made an example of. Yes, prosecute.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let him have it?
MR. BUCHANAN: Let him have both barrels.
MS. CLIFT: His political career is over. Men are generally not prosecuted for this crime. I think he's been made enough of an example. I don't think you need an extra pound of flesh, Pat. MR. BUCHANAN: Pound of flesh? (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think? Quickly.
MS. CROWLEY: Money laundering, tax evasion, solicitation of prostitution, possible violation of the Mann Act. This guy showed no mercy against people for the exact same things when he was attorney general, prosecuted these crimes to the wall. And I think he should pay the price.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I've got something to tell you. Two wrongs don't make a right.
MS. CROWLEY: So we're making an excuse for public --
MR. BUCHANAN: It's a wrong to enforce the law?
MS. CROWLEY: So the powerful should be excused.
MR. PAGE: No, I think Spitzer --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, she's saying that to get even with him, you should prosecute him.
MS. CROWLEY: No. He violated the law.
MR. BUCHANAN: To enforce the law is all she's saying.
MR. PAGE: Well, you know, John violates the law and almost never gets prosecuted.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that he'll get a pardon if he violates --
MR. BUCHANAN: Who's going to pardon him?
MR. PAGE: John violates the law and almost never gets prosecuted.
MR. BUCHANAN: Paterson?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Paterson can't pardon him, can't he? MR. BUCHANAN: He can if he's got something on him.
MR. PAGE: Sure, as the governor.
MS. CLIFT: Well, he hasn't been convicted yet. He hasn't been convicted or even charged with anything.
MR. PAGE: If it was a federal crime, the governor can't pardon him. But I doubt it's going to go any further.
MS. CLIFT: No.
MR. PAGE: They stumbled across this.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean, no fine, no prosecution.
MR. PAGE: The feds were not after him for prostitution. They were after him for money laundering. That's why they got onto this and discovered that he was seeing a hooker on the side here.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, we don't know that. What proof of that --
MR. PAGE: John, a lot of stuff we don't know; we talk about it anyway on this show. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Mob fingered him, and maybe there was a deal with the feds and the Mob.
MR. PAGE: Well, maybe, maybe, maybe. They're investigating, like I told you earlier. But I doubt it's going to go any farther. The fact is that -- who suffered here? The wife and the family; that's who suffered. You know, how are they going to be helped by going after Spitzer and putting him away now, you know. No, let's --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean, for their sake, they ought to let him alone.
MR. BUCHANAN: No, no.
MS. CROWLEY: Come on. No way.
MR. PAGE: I think Spitzer should be sentenced to buy his wife a bigger ring than Kobe Bryant bought his wife when he was fooling around, because this is all about the family. It's not about the courts.
MR. BUCHANAN: He should be convicted and given community service, maybe working with the consequences of these prostitution rings.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is he's suffered enough. Issue Two: Ferraro's Fury.
Geraldine Ferraro is a former New York congressman. In 1984 she was vice presidential running mate of Walter Mondale. Ferraro charged this week Senator Barack Obama's campaign with premeditated character assassination.
GERALDINE FERRARO (former Democratic vice presidential nominee): (From videotape.) They went to the national press. They had two people on television, getting up there, berating me, calling me a racist. I have spent 40 years fighting discrimination. They had a campaign of over 100 negative e-mails, phone calls to my office. They actually got in touch with the CEO of the firm that they thought I was still with and urged them to fire me. I mean, it was crazy.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What caused the Obama onslaught, Ms. Ferraro says, was a speech she gave earlier in California to some 350 people. A small local people, the Daily Breeze, reported on the event and ran a quote of supposedly the exact language of Geraldine Ferraro. Quote: "If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman of any color, he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is, and the country is caught up in the concept," unquote.
Ms. Ferraro says, in effect, that her words were viciously misconstrued. She had been serving on Hillary's finance committee, a largely honorific post. But this week she resigned. The purpose of Obama's strategy, Ms. Ferraro is saying, is to mobilize and manipulate white guilt for Obama's net political gain.
MS. FERRARO: (From videotape.) I personally think that this is the last time that the Obama campaign is going to be able to play this type of a race card.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Obama responded to Ferraro.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL, Democratic presidential candidate): (From videotape.) If you were to get a handbook on what's the path to the presidency, I don't think that the handbook would start by saying, "Be an African-American named Barack Obama."
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Did Ferraro play the race card or did Obama play the race card, as Ferraro says? I ask you, Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: I don't think anybody played the race card. I think Geraldine Ferraro, who is an icon in Democratic politics, is caught in a time warp. She was the first woman to be on a major ticket. She was treated like a second-class citizen because she was the vice presidential candidate. She thought that was because of her gender. And she looks at the race of Obama and she thinks, "If this were a woman with such a scant resume, he would never be where he is." She's speaking for a lot of women of a certain age who feel a grievance that their candidate has been overtaken. And it's her unwillingness or her inability to see how wounding her words are, because she seems to dismiss Barack Obama as an affirmative-action candidate when, in fact, we all are a product of our past. Hillary Clinton wouldn't be where she is if Bill Clinton weren't president.
John McCain might not be where he is if he weren't a POW. Well, so?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think you're getting a little too psychoanalytic here, where we've got a very simple --
MS. CLIFT: Well, you asked me a question and nobody interrupted me for about 20 seconds, so I was going to use every moment.
MR. PAGE: (Inaudible.) (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's a very simple case. She's saying -- Geraldine Ferraro is saying, "I'm not a racist, and anybody who knows anything about me knows I'm not a racist."
MS. CLIFT: I don't believe anybody called her a racist on the Obama campaign.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?
MR. PAGE: Well, you're asking us to psychoanalyze when you ask us if she's a racist or not.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, I'm saying that that's what she said.
MR. PAGE: I don't know who called her a racist, but it was certainly -- Eleanor's right that her statement is behind the times. She can't tell Barack Obama from Jesse Jackson. There's a big difference. Barack Obama has run a brilliant campaign, his crew et al. He has taken a speech from the '04 convention and built more out of it than any previous speaker at a convention.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Or (that ?) is there.
MR. PAGE: And, you know, it's news to me that suddenly being black is such a great advantage. I didn't realize the revolution had come.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: She didn't say that.
MR. PAGE: Well, she did. She did. She said he's very lucky to be black right now in these times. MR. BUCHANAN: John, how did he get the speech at the '04 convention as a state senator? That was an affirmative action speech.
MR. PAGE: Well, how did Barbara Jordan --
MR. BUCHANAN: Excuse me.
MS. CLIFT: How did I get to speak? (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the point? What's the point?
MR. BUCHANAN: My point is Geraldine Ferraro is not only no racist; she told the truth. Barack Obama -- it's not the only reason Barack Obama is where he is. He ran a great campaign. She didn't say that. But the fact that he's an African-American is indispensable to his success. That's why he got 91 percent of the black vote in Mississippi. That's why he's going to roll through Philly. That's why he got that speech. That's why the press is ga-ga over Barack Obama as the first black president.
MR. PAGE: She said he's ahead now because he's black. That's a difference from what you just said.
MR. BUCHANAN: She said it's indispensable to his success, and she's right.
MS. CLIFT: If she framed it --
MR. PAGE: She didn't say indispensable. She said he's ahead because he's black. It was very clear.
MS. CLIFT: If she framed it in such a way as to say, "Isn't it wonderful that as America we have reached this point" --
MR. BUCHANAN: (Inaudible) -- have to say that?
MS. CLIFT: We don't have to. It's true.
MR. BUCHANAN: Suppose we don't think he's --
MR. BUCHANAN: Suppose he's a leftist and we don't think it's a good idea he's here.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.
MS. CROWLEY: This is such a bum rap against Geraldine Ferraro. Look, the truth is that race, gender, ethnicity all play a role in how people vote. And it's dishonest -- MR. PAGE: That's not what she said either.
MS. CROWLEY: -- to suggest otherwise. She's not a racist. What she was trying to say, and she sort of mangled it, was this. Two and a half years ago, this guy was doing local-yokel politics in Chicago. Now he is on the cusp of the Democratic presidential nomination. It doesn't happen to anybody that fast unless they have something extraordinary going for them.
MR. PAGE: It happened to Abe Lincoln that way. Abe Lincoln came from Illinois with only one term in the House.
MS. CROWLEY: But what she was saying, the two extraordinary things that Barack Obama has going for him that accounts for his ascent is his race and his natural political ability. Now, it didn't come out that way --
MR. PAGE: She didn't mention the political ability.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How do you know that?
MR. PAGE: I've just heard the statements.
MR. BUCHANAN: Clarence, let me ask you a question.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We've got a few words --
MR. PAGE: You just played it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- quoted by the Daily Drift (sic).
MR. PAGE: The Daily Breeze. That's what started this all, John.
MR. BUCHANAN: Clarence, do you think he would be where he is as a state legislator, at that convention, and where he is, if he were white?
MS. CLIFT: If he were --
MR. PAGE: If he were white, he'd be John Edwards, you know. I mean, nobody --
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, John Edwards isn't there, is he? John Edwards didn't make it.
MR. PAGE: Well, do you know why? Because John Edwards didn't have the same campaign that Barack Obama has. If he had, he might be ahead of Hillary Clinton right now.
MR. BUCHANAN: You think being black had nothing to do with him being where he is?
MS. CLIFT: I think -- MR. PAGE: We can argue hypotheticals about history; we can go on all day. Yes, I do believe John Edwards would be where Barack Obama is right now if --
MS. CLIFT: I think we have reached a point in our history where a biracial background appeals to people because they think we may get past all these divisions in society.
MR. BUCHANAN: I agree with you. That's very true.
MS. CLIFT: And that he is where he is, and that's why he has captured the imagination --
MR. BUCHANAN: Fair enough. (Laughs.)
MS. CLIFT: And she should have said that if that's indeed what she meant.
MR. BUCHANAN: But what you're saying is exactly right.
MS. CROWLEY: But the Ferraro blowup points to something else, which is that it is also true that Barack Obama has been protected from the criticism that would normally come at a presidential candidate --
MR. PAGE: This is protection?
MS. CROWLEY: -- because people are afraid of being attacked the way Geraldine Ferraro was attacked.
MR. PAGE: I think that's overblown. I think that is overblown.
MR. BUCHANAN: And let me add to that, John.
MR. PAGE: That's what I call -- that's not playing white guilt. That's playing white rage, because a lot of angry whites out there say, "Well, I can't even talk straight about race without being beat up."
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to get into this question, and that's white guilt. Do you think that all of this is a play off into white guilt -- white guilt from not one century, not two centuries, but three centuries of black oppression, right? MR. PAGE: I don't know how Pat's gotten along without showing any guilt at all. (Laughs.)
MR. BUCHANAN: I didn't do anything.
MR. PAGE: Exactly. If you haven't done anything, why are you guilty?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you have the supporters of Obama, which are affluent dominantly, I think we can say, and they are repelled by white guilt. And then you've got the blue-collars who are less so, right? So in order to touch them and to keep them quiet, he goes into the white guilt -- he comes out with the race card in order to reach them at that level.
MR. PAGE: Obama hasn't played the race card. You know, I don't agree with --
MR. BUCHANAN: I think they have --
MR. PAGE: I don't agree with Ferraro's charges. She hasn't told me who in the Obama campaign has called her a racist.
MR. BUCHANAN: What's coming, John, is blow-back. And I'll tell you what the blow-back --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Blow-back against --
MR. BUCHANAN: Against Barack Obama for this.
MR. PAGE: We used to call it backlash.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why?
MR. BUCHANAN: And it's coming from Reverend Wright. Now the Clinton people have got this Reverend Wright stuff.
MS. CLIFT: That's politics.
MR. BUCHANAN: They are going to pound that and pound that.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're talking about the IRS stuff?
MR. BUCHANAN: No, they're going to hold Reverend -- I mean, Obama's head under water until he repudiates the guy that married him, repudiates the pastor --
MR. PAGE: Reverend Jeremiah Wright.
MR. BUCHANAN: -- that he's been at his church for 20 years. You watch. That is coming. MS. CLIFT: Sure.
MR. BUCHANAN: And it's blow-back for what was done to Geraldine Ferraro and what was done to Bill Clinton.
MS. CLIFT: It's politics, and it's part of the kitchen sink.
MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly.
MS. CLIFT: You can take race out of it.
MR. BUCHANAN: There are two kitchen sinks being thrown here. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No one can understand where we are at this point in our discussion. I share your pain.
MR. PAGE: Can I help straighten it out a little bit, John? (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: At the Mississippi primary this week, Obama beat Clinton, 61 to 37. Blacks in Mississippi voted -- get this -- 90 percent for Obama. Whites in Mississippi voted -- get this -- 75 percent for Clinton. Given these numbers, is the Democratic contest now polarized by race? Clarence.
MR. PAGE: I have a two-word response, John. It's Mississippi, you know. I mean, right next door in Louisiana, David Duke would have been governor if it had just been whites voting alone. But if you just had whites alone, race wouldn't have been an issue, would it? You know, I think part of the reason why -- in all seriousness, one reason why Barack Obama is so popular is because he has offered Americans what many perceive to be a way to transcend race, a way to transcend all this tangle we're arguing about here right now.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean --
MR. PAGE: And so as long as they keep the conversation on that side, he does well. But when it does flip over to talk about white guilt and white rage and all that, he doesn't do as well.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, the answer is --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the criterion for voting for president? Is it qualification or is it to relieve the burden that we have as whites because of the oppression of blacks?
MR. PAGE: Turn the question around. Ask why do people vote for president? Some folks vote on the regular platform issues. Others vote because of gut feeling, a sense of community, all of those things that Barack Obama has also appealed to, and brought out a new bunch of voters who weren't voting before. MR. BUCHANAN: John, let me say this.
MS. CLIFT: In a Democratic primary --
MR. BUCHANAN: In the confederate states, polarization has taken place, I agree with that, south of Fredericksburg all the way to Texas; in the northern states less so, but it's happening more and more, frankly, because it's (getting in ?). But the women have voted for Hillary because she's a woman.
MS. CLIFT: In a Democratic primary, you're not a racist if you vote for Hillary Clinton.
MR. BUCHANAN: I didn't say you were. I said there's polarization.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Erin Go Bragh. Bye-bye.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three: High on Sinai.
On Mount Sinai, the Ten Commandments were given by God to Moses. Then Moses presented them to the Israelites. So says the Old Testament book of Exodus.
Question: When Moses was high up on Mount Sinai, was he also high up, meaning was he tripping, meaning doped up? Was Moses high on mind-altering drugs? An Israeli psychology professor says yes, he was. Benny Shanon claims that at least two plants native to Sinai contain psychoactive properties. So Shanon dismisses a literal interpretation of alleged Sinai events like God speaking to Moses, Moses' vision of the burning bush, and God causing thunder and lightning. Instead, Moses was high, and so were his Israeli brethren.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: If God spoke to Moses while Moses was stoned, will the evangelicals in the U.S. now get behind the legalization of marijuana? I ask you.
MR. PAGE: You're going to put that one on me, huh, John? (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the answer to that?
MR. PAGE: We're doing a lot of arguing of history today, aren't we? (Laughs.) This is what I call the Woodstock notion of Moses there. I think --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Woodstock being the gathering of potheads.
MR. BUCHANAN: I think, John --
MR. PAGE: Well, yes. There was a lot of burning bushes being seen out there, you know.