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 21, 2008 BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF MARCH 22-23, 2008
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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Who Would Jesus Vote For?
On Easter Sunday, Christians rejoice in the resurrection of Jesus Christ; namely, that Christ rose from the dead. The evangelists tell us that Jesus remained on earth for 40 days before ascending into heaven.
Now, if Jesus were on earth today, whom would he vote for? Perhaps Jesus' most famous homily is the Sermon on the Mount, recorded by Matthew, one of Christ's 12 closest followers, an apostle. Christ listed eight exhortations in this homily, now called Beatitudes.
ACTOR (depicting Jesus Christ): (From videotape.) Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Christ's sermon continues. Quote: "If anyone hits you on the right cheek, offer him the other as well. If someone wishes to go to law with you to get your tunic, let him have your cloak also. If anyone wants to borrow, do not turn him away. You have heard how it was said, 'You will love your neighbor and hate your enemy,' but I say this to you. Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you."
Question: Christ says, "Blessed are the peacemakers." Let's relate that to the Iraq war. Is Barack Obama more likely to bring an end to the Iraq war, as a peacemaker, than Hillary Clinton is? Pat Buchanan.
MR. BUCHANAN: Barack Obama is more likely, I think, than Hillary Clinton is to bring the American troops home at an earlier date and on a fixed schedule, although he may not. But that, John, is not going to end the Iraq war. What he could do is end the American involvement in the Iraq war. But just like Vietnam, when we came home, the real killing and the real slaughter began. The same thing could happen in Iraq. And frankly, the threat that that's going to happen is what I think is going to inhibit Barack Obama, that and the generals saying, "You can't do it," from meeting the timetable he has laid out for withdrawing.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you know who Samantha Power is?
MR. BUCHANAN: Samantha Power said, in effect, John -- exactly; she's the fired foreign policy lady who called Hillary a monster. She said Barack is putting out this timetable, but we all know basically that he's not going to be able to meet it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you know what she told Gideon Rachman of the Financial Times?
MR. BUCHANAN: Yes. He had --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Obama will decide what to do about Iraq depending on the situation at the time. So how can you say he's more of a peacemaker than anyone else?
MR. BUCHANAN: Because I think Hillary Clinton said she would do the same thing, but I think McCain says we're going to be in there maybe 100 years and there's going to be more wars.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: First of all, I bet John McCain will shave back 100 to 50 years; it's politically advantageous. Secondly --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean, he's a pragmatist.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.) MS. CLIFT: A 100-year war is not going to be a good political position.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Bad.
MS. CLIFT: It's a bad political position. But, look, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have virtually identical plans of bringing home the combat troops. And Samantha Power may have spoken out of school, but she spoke the truth, and that is that when you craft a plan in an election year without access to what the generals are saying privately and without knowing what the conditions are, you're not going to make any hard and fast promises.
But I think it's safe to assume that the Democrats are much more likely to put this country on a path towards exiting Iraq and without enlisting Jesus on their side, because that is dangerous when you bring in spiritual beliefs to enhance your temporal policies.
MS. CROWLEY: Well, you will recall, though, that several months ago, when there were still a lot of Democrats running for the nomination, that they were all asked in a debate whether or not they would see it realistically that they would have all U.S. combat troops out of Iraq by the end of their first term, 2012, and not a single one of them -- not Barack Obama, not Hillary Clinton, none of them -- could commit to that. It's already --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: 2012.
MS. CROWLEY: 2012. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs, assembled the Joint Chiefs of Staff and they went in the last couple of weeks and warned Obama and Hillary to stop with this commitment that they're going to be able to withdraw according to the plans that they have put in place, because you never know what the situation on the ground is going to be. Even though Barack Obama is running on this platform, if he is confronted with military advice that says, "You cannot withdraw at the accelerated pace that you have proposed," he will not do it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Loving one's enemies is fine, but let's remember that Jesus wound up crucified.
MR. PAGE: Indeed. Love, but carry a big stick. Right?
MS. CLIFT: Right.
MR. PAGE: Well, I think, really, people are not voting for an immediate pullout or a prolonged staying in. They're voting for what's the default position going to be of the candidate who gets elected. In other words, once you get into office and you face the realities of what is going on, all things being equal, do you move to continue -- do you move to pull us out or do you move to stay in? And I think Barack Obama shifted the balance, because Hillary Clinton, when she voted in favor of authorizing the invasion, she showed, "Hey, I'm going to show you how tough I can be." Barack Obama has pulled her back, because most Democrats want the default position to be withdrawal.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Didn't Barack Obama say that he was eager to engage in diplomacy with adversaries?
MR. PAGE: Yeah.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And does that give him an advance on the peacemaking --
MR. PAGE: Does that scare you, John?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, it gives him an advance on the peacemaking scale.
MR. PAGE: Yeah. Yeah.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But Hillary responded by saying --
MR. PAGE: He said, "If you want to deal with your enemies, talk to them."
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: She said, in effect, "I would not imprudently agree to seeing any head of state without adequate preparation beforehand" --
MR. PAGE: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- whereas Obama had given the impression that he would rush into negotiations.
MR. PAGE: He said without preconditions.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Don't you think that in that round, Obama won?
MR. BUCHANAN: I think Obama has -- not necessarily. When he said no preconditions, you're going to have the ads in the fall. The Raoul Castro ad will be down there in Cuba; Ahmadinejad ad will be in New York with Obama at the table with these two guys without precondition.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay -- MR. PAGE: You know what? (Inaudible) -- knows how to make ads too. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. More from the Mount. "Be careful not to parade your uprightness in public to attract attention. Otherwise you will lose all reward from your Father in heaven."
Question: Is this an admonition from Jesus to keep religion out of politics?
MR. BUCHANAN: No.
MS. CLIFT: I spoke with a gentleman named John Green, who does religious studies with the Pew Survey, and he pointed out to me that Jesus set himself apart from the authorities and was very critical of power. And it seems to me there is a lesson there that if you want to do good works, you don't necessarily align yourself with either political party so that you have leverage to further your agenda.
MR. BUCHANAN: He did not exactly hide his own beliefs, John -- not only hide them; he preached them from the mountaintop. And he challenged the Pharisees and he went into the Temple and threw the money-changers out, and he called people "brood of vipers" and things like that. And he died for his beliefs and he died on the cross for mankind. So what are you talking about?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about Hillary? Is Hillary, in your mind's eye, a peacekeeper?
MR. BUCHANAN: No --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A peacemaker?
MR. BUCHANAN: I think Hillary's a politician.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: First and foremost?
MR. BUCHANAN: First and last. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is she noted to be ruthless with her opponent?
MS. CROWLEY: Yes.
MS. CLIFT: She's also a Methodist, and the Methodists are known as the religion with heart. They embrace a lot of the social reform movements. The Salvation Army came out of Methodism. And so it's an easy transition for Hillary, the passion for her religious beliefs to do good, to translate that into the political arena.
MS. CROWLEY: That quote from Jesus was an admonition to humility. Now, if you're a humble person, then politics is not the calling for you, especially presidential politics. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean that politicians have difficulty hiding their uprightness?
MS. CROWLEY: None of them are humble, especially those who are running for president. And it's also interesting to keep in mind the infusion of politics in religion and how any of these candidates represent their personal faith.
You've got John McCain, who's sort of an old-school guy who's reserved in his religious faith. He doesn't wear it on his sleeve. Hillary Clinton doesn't either. But remember that politics, especially presidential politics, is brutal, relentless and ruthless, which is fundamentally incompatible with Christianity.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Don't you think that Jesus hit it right on the nose when he said, "Render to Caesar that which is Caesar's and to God that which is God's"? Isn't that a great clarification?
MR. PAGE: He certainly avoided some kind of a war with Caesar that was not necessary, you know.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Isn't that a political answer too?
MR. PAGE: Well, the important thing, there is no political agenda to Christianity. There's a moral agenda. That's the difference. That means --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you tell Benedict XIII about that?
MR. PAGE: -- both parties are supposed to follow that agenda.
MR. BUCHANAN: He told the secular leaders of the Jewish community that they were misbehaving; they were behaving wrong. And he castigated, frankly, what was the political leadership of the time in terms unlike anybody --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What were they called?
MR. BUCHANAN: The Pharisees and the Sadducees.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about the Sanhedrin?
MR. BUCHANAN: The Sanhedrin was it. That was the main --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Here you go. Exit question: Republican presidential candidates were asked at a November debate if Jesus would support the death penalty. I'm asking the group the same question. Would Jesus support the death penalty? Pat Buchanan.
MR. BUCHANAN: I would say yes. He necessarily had to suffer the death penalty. Ten of his apostles suffered the death penalty, John. And he said to the good thief on the cross, "Amen, amen, I say to you, this day you shall be with me in Paradise. " What that means is he did not put that high a premium on this life as he did on the next life. Therefore, death was not the eternal evil to him that it may be to you.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What an incredible --
MS. CLIFT: That's a lot --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What an incredible interpretation and explanation for us that is. Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: That was quite a rationalization. (Laughs.) And I think --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Get Ripley here.
MS. CLIFT: -- your personal religion is not in favor of the death penalty, if I --
MR. BUCHANAN: Mine is.
MS. CLIFT: Yours is not. No, it is not.
MR. BUCHANAN: No, it is not ex cathedra.
MS. CLIFT: And I --
MR. BUCHANAN: You're interpreting -- the Vatican had the death penalty until 1969.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: Okay, so you're pre the reform of the church.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, what's the story on the death penalty?
MS. CLIFT: (Inaudible) -- reform of the church. I think if Jesus were here today, he would not be with the death penalty. And a lot of Christians struggle with the death penalty, because they -- and I think we see that in our political life, because there's still divisions over it. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth is definitely Old Testament and that with Jesus you could disapprove of the death penalty?
MS. CROWLEY: It is Old Testament. But remember, in Christian theology there's the concept of the just war and there's also the concept of self-defense. I speak as somebody who is for the death penalty, but I don't believe that Jesus, if he were around today, would be for it, because remember, he suffered the death penalty, but it was coming from a higher authority. It wasn't government-executed.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Also, our sociologists are telling us in the bulk that it has no deterrent value.
MR. BUCHANAN: Oh, for heaven's sakes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Buchanan thinks it does.
MR. PAGE: It does not have deterrent value compared to --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think that it has no provable differentiation between it and lifetime --
MR. PAGE: Exactly. Life without parole on the polls show about the same thing.
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MR. PAGE: But, you know, I wonder, what does the death penalty mean to a man who can raise people from the dead? Anyway --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Jesus would not --
MR. BUCHANAN: Hey John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Jesus would not enforce the death penalty.
Issue Two: Saint Hillary.
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY, Democratic presidential candidate): (From videotape.) My faith has sustained me. It has informed me. It has saved me. It has chided me. It has challenged me. And I don't know who I would be or where I would be had I not been given that gift of those, you know, years of tutelage through my faith.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hillary is Christian. Her Protestant denomination is Methodism. The name Methodist comes from the word method. Method is the first of three pillars of Methodism's architecture: One, methodology; two, tradition; three, reason.
The United Methodist congregation ranks number three in U.S. church memberships; Roman Catholics first, 44 percent, 69 million Catholics in the U.S.; Southern Baptist, second, 10 percent, 16 million Southern Baptists in the U.S.; Methodists third, 5 percent, 8.5 million Methodists in the U.S.
In her youth, Hillary was inspired by a Methodist pastor, Reverend Don Jones. He became Hillary's lifetime confidant, both for spiritual and political counsel. Reverend Jones is a political progressive; i.e., liberal. He introduced Hillary to liberalism, taking Hillary and other young Methodists to hear Martin Luther King Jr. During the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky playout, Reverend Jones was on hand for Hillary's spiritual support. Jones says that Hillary's religion is what drives her politics and what drives her service.
REV. DON JONES: (From videotape.) She is one of the most committed Christians I know. There is a continuing thread through her life about caring for the poor, for the disadvantaged, and her attempt to play a role in achieving social justice.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Hillary's political liberalism, is it faith-based? Monica.
MS. CROWLEY: Well, keep in mind that Hillary Clinton was a Republican, a Goldwater girl, until the time she got to college. At that point she became a liberal. So I don't think it's faith-based. I think it's purely ideological.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did she give an antiwar speech at Wellesley?
MS. CROWLEY: She did, during the commencement.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How does that coincide with her Goldwaterism?
MS. CROWLEY: Well, no, no, she had this epiphany, this liberal epiphany, when she was in college.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: When she was in college.
MS. CROWLEY: So I'm saying it's not driven by her religion. It's totally ideological and philosophical.
MS. CLIFT: The desire to do social good is definitely rooted in her religion. And she writes in her autobiography that Methodism is a religion of the heart and of the head and that she wants to do good works, but she wants to be reasonable about them and pragmatic.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, I think she's a social-gospel liberal.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah.
MR. BUCHANAN: And that's what she is, John, and there are a lot of them. And around the turn of the last century, it became a great movement. Frankly, it flourished and flowered with all these progressive ideas and things. I think she's -- MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about health care? Isn't that proof positive that she --
MR. BUCHANAN: I think she's in that tradition in believing the state does good works for people.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you want to say nice things about Saint Hillary?
MR. PAGE: I want to say nice things about Saint Hillary. I think that transition she made was not unusual for our generation, and we're about the same age. They're in their early 60s. A lot of us admired Goldwater for his idealism. I broke away when he voted against the Civil Rights Act of '64. That was my epiphany. But a lot of folks, in fact, who are in SDS started out in politics as high school kids interested in Goldwater.
But, you know, what's interesting here is she has had ample opportunity to go out and make a lot of bucks and not get involved in social action or helping people, but she chose public action. I think my only quarrel with her is how she goes about it sometimes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In her visible compassion towards the dispossessed, does that undermine her image as a commander in chief?
MR. PAGE: I don't know if it undermines it. I think that she's shown herself to be somebody who's committed with a strong will --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think Hillary's tough?
MR. PAGE: -- who cares --
MS. CLIFT: She's been the most tough --
MR. PAGE: She is tough.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: She's quite a combination, is she not?
MR. PAGE: Would you be able to put up with all the abuse she's gone through?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Legislatively --
MR. PAGE: Or maybe you have, actually. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Legislatively, she's soft, so to speak; I mean, she's tender and aware and she wants to help the poor. MR. BUCHANAN: If she's --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But she's tough --
MR. PAGE: Also she's been very helpful to the military families in New York.
MR. BUCHANAN: If she weren't tough, she would not survive.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What?
MR. BUCHANAN: If she weren't tough, she would not survive what she's gone through, which ranks almost on what Richard Nixon went through -- not as much, but almost. She has taken a horrendous beating, and I admire the way she's come through and come back again and again.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that she radiates integrity?
MR. BUCHANAN: I think she's a pol.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But does she lie?
MS. CLIFT: Oh, come on.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does she not, or does she?
MS. CLIFT: I want to say --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I haven't heard her lie. I have heard her elude.
MR. BUCHANAN: It's Easter, John. It's Easter. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I have heard her lead you down a different path.
MS. CLIFT: There is omission and there is massaging. There are all kinds of things people do in public life. But Frank Luntz, the Republican pollster, once said the first woman president has to be a combination of Jack the Ripper and Mother Teresa. (Laughter.) And she comes pretty close.
MS. CROWLEY: You know what? I have a real problem, too, with this exclusivity, with liberalism and Christianity. There is the Christian right for a reason. There are millions of conservatives in this country who also happen to be Christians, who say, "Yes, help the poor, but understand that God helps those who help themselves." And so there's a whole Christian philosophy that is conservative. So instead of just talking exclusively about liberalism helping the poor and so on, there's a conservative philosophy that dovetails with Christianity too. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In line with that --
MR. PAGE: I don't know how Christianity suddenly became a right- wing faith, if you will, because I grew up, certainly, in a very liberal church, the same one Dr. King came from, which had that kind of mission to it. But, you know, these are not values that are either liberal or conservative.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In line with all of this, and particularly what you said, there are also limousine liberals. What does that mean?
MS. CROWLEY: Well, that means liberals who claim to care for the poor as long the poor isn't me.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean, they're really avaricious underneath. Is that right?
MR. BUCHANAN: No, no, no. It means, John, they love the poor but they're riding in limousines up to Elaine's at night.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but they're giving their money to help, and I'll settle for that.
MR. BUCHANAN: They're taking my money and giving it to the poor.
MS. CLIFT: It's better than the right-wing Christians who are concerned about personal salvation but don't really see it as elevating the community.
MS. CROWLEY: That's unfair. That's not true. And a lot of conservatives give to charity too.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How powerful was that endorsement that we just saw of Hillary's religion?
MR. BUCHANAN: I don't think he's well-known, John. I think she's --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you have to be well-known to be believed?
MR. BUCHANAN: No, you can believe it. But he seemed like, frankly, an old fellow that was just saying she's a great gal.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you know what he was saying?
MS. CLIFT: He was her --
MR. BUCHANAN: He's like you a little bit, John. (Laughs.)
MS. CLIFT: He was her youth minister. And anybody who's followed the life of the Clintons knows that he's been significant in her life since she was an adolescent. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: On a probability scale, zero to 100, what is the probability that one year from now, Easter 2009, Hillary will preside over the White House Easter egg hunt? Pat Buchanan.
MR. BUCHANAN: One in four.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: If she gets the nomination, it's 80 percent. If she doesn't, it's zero. (Laughs.
MS. CROWLEY: (Laughs.) Fifty percent.
MR. PAGE: I go 50-50 on the nomination, and if she gets it, 50- 50 on winning. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is 55 percent.
Issue Three: Saint Barack.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL, Democratic presidential candidate): (From videotape.) I was not raised in a particularly religious household. My father, who I didn't know, returned to Kenya when I was just two. He was nominally a Muslim, since that's the village in which he had been born was a Muslim village. But by the time he was a young adult, he was an atheist; my mother, whose parents were non- practicing Baptists and Methodists.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: At age 27, Barack Obama chose as his place of worship the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. One of the five historic commitments of the UCC is multiracial and multicultural accessibility. Jeremiah A. Wright, Senator Obama's pastor, describes Barack Obama in terms that reflect the faith of the UCC congregation.
REV. JEREMIAH WRIGHT (former pastor, Trinity United Church of Christ): (From videotape.) But a man who does not compromise his belief, a man who believes that Muslim, Jew, Christian, atheist, nonbeliever, black, white, all are God's children and all can live together and work together. That's the Barack that I've known for 20 years.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's a powerful endorsement. What's wrong with it?
MR. PAGE: What's wrong with that endorsement? Nothing except the controversy that surrounds Jeremiah Wright on the part of people who don't really know him very well, especially those who don't know Chicago.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did Obama accept the endorsement? MR. PAGE: Well, he accepts -- he has not denounced Jeremiah Wright. He has denounced controversial statements that Wright has made.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Like what?
MR. PAGE: There's a difference. Oh, well, you know, a number of things in regard to America being a racist country and America's actions leading to 9/11, this sort of thing, which folks on the right don't care for. If you don't show unblemished patriotism all the time --
MR. BUCHANAN: He said the chickens came home to roost.
MS. CLIFT: This old video --
MR. BUCHANAN: For heaven's sakes, Americans are going to object to this.
MS. CLIFT: This old video has mysteriously surfaced in the last week.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What, that video?
MS. CLIFT: No, old video of Reverend Wright saying rather inflammatory things that have put Barack Obama --
MR. BUCHANAN: John, I find this --
MS. CLIFT: -- on the defensive. And there's a lot of pressure on --
MR. BUCHANAN: I find this astonishing -- astonishing.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on, Pat.
MS. CLIFT: Excuse me -- a lot of pressure on Obama to further disown him and to distance himself from his statements.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, you know, we've seen -- excuse me -- Geraldine Ferraro stomped to death for nothing, and this fellow said the chickens came home to roost on 9/11. He said "G.D. America." It was a rant of hate. And Obama has disassociated himself from the sentiments, but he's going to have to renounce and reject this fellow or he's not going to win this election.
MR. PAGE: Well, you know, how often do you have to renounce and reject?
MR. BUCHANAN: What were you doing to Geraldine Ferraro last week?
MR. PAGE: Okay -- MS. CLIFT: Have you renounced and rejected the Catholic priests that have --
MR. BUCHANAN: What?
MS. CLIFT: Have you renounced and rejected the Catholic priests that have disappointed you over the years?
MR. BUCHANAN: You mean the ones involved in this gay stuff? You're dead right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, they're not necessarily gay.
MR. BUCHANAN: It's little kids.
MR. PAGE: First of all, a reality check here.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Inaudible.)
MR. PAGE: You need to hear this too. Jeremiah Wright doesn't work on Barack Obama's campaign. You know, Geraldine Ferraro was a fund-raiser for Hillary Clinton. There's a difference.
MR. BUCHANAN: He's been listening to it for 20 years, Clarence -- 20 years. He married him.
MS. CROWLEY: And not condemning the guy --
MR. PAGE: Look, he can defend himself. I'm just saying this is the first campaign I've seen with people going after candidates' preachers. This is a new game that we're working on now.
MR. PAGE: I want him to defend himself. I'm just saying that we're getting into an area that's making people kind of tired of politics.
MS. CROWLEY: No, I know, but his incendiary comments that the U.S. government was responsible for the HIV virus to wipe out the black population, okay, in addition to all of the 9/11 --
MR. PAGE: And Obama doesn't believe that.
MS. CROWLEY: And Obama sat there for 20 years and listened to it without condemning it.
MR. PAGE: There's a difference between listening and believing everything you hear from the podium.
(Cross-talk.) MR. PAGE: I've been to Reverend Wright's church, and I appreciate the fact that he makes people think. I don't agree with a lot of stuff he says either, but I appreciate hearing the way he combines intellectual provocation with that old-time religion.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We've got to get out. We've got to get out.
MS. CLIFT: Amen, Clarence. Amen.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Congratulations on the book, Eleanor.
We'll talk about it next week, "Two Weeks of Life," about your wonderful husband and his passing from us.
MS. CLIFT: Religious rhetoric among the candidates will increase. A lot of religious groups are unaffiliated in this election.
MS. CROWLEY: John McCain will pull even in the national polls with both Senator Obama and Senator Clinton.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?
MS. CROWLEY: Yes.
MR. PAGE: One-hundred-twenty-dollar-a-barrel oil by summer. Happy vacationing.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How early this summer?
MR. BUCHANAN: The roads will be empty, then, Clarence.
MR. PAGE: By summer. Thank you. There'll be more room for you and me, Pat. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: China's inflation will expand to 10.1 percent before September 1st, 2008, this year, a 3 percent increase since January of this year.
Happy Easter. Bye-bye.
Issue Four: Saint John.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ, Republican presidential candidate): (From videotape.) I was raised in the Episcopal Church and attended high school -- it was called Episcopal High School. I have attended North Phoenix Baptist Church for many years. And the most important thing is that I am a Christian. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Senator McCain's presidential campaign says that he has been attending the North Phoenix Baptist Church since the mid '90s, about 15 years. McCain stresses that he is a man of faith, but he also wishes to preserve his privacy in his relationship with his God.
SEN. MCCAIN: (From videotape.) My religious belief is clear. I am a man of faith. But I also have to tell you that I believe that my relationship with God is a private one. And I'm not ashamed of my religious beliefs or my faith, but at the same time, I believe that that relationship is generally a private one.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: In the Republican primary debates, Senator McCain consistently described his religion as Episcopalian. He didn't reveal that he is actually a Baptist until he was campaigning in South Carolina. What accounts for this religious asymmetry?
MS. CROWLEY: You know, a lot of people go on these spiritual journeys and they switch from one religion to another and they find what's right for them. You know, the fact that he said he was a Baptist as he was campaigning in the South probably had some benefit.
MS. CLIFT: His wife is a Baptist, and it is her church in Phoenix that he has been attending. So that's legitimate. But there's also some political expediency.
MR. BUCHANAN: And the Episcopalians got in some problems, John. They've been split right down the middle. He probably doesn't want to get into that argument.
MR. PAGE: McCain is a traditional presidential candidate who does not wear his religion on his sleeve. It's a relatively recent development. Even Ronald Reagan, who had lots of support from religious people, was not a guy who put his religion out there in front.