Share

"THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP" HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN PANEL: MORT ZUCKERMAN, U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT; ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK; MONICA CROWLEY, SYNDICATED RADIO COMMENTATOR; MICHELLE BERNARD, INDEPENDENT WOMEN'S FORUM BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF JULY 5-6, 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 -- United We Stand.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

This July 4th weekend, we as a nation salute the Declaration of Independence. It was signed 232 years ago. The purpose of the Declaration of Independence was to make clear to the world why the colonists were separated from Great Britain and why that separation was honorable and just.

Thomas Jefferson emphasized in his text of the Declaration that the people have the right to change their government if and when that government becomes repressive. His chief argument is that government proceeds from, quote, "the consent of the governed," unquote. If the government loses that consent, it then lacks the authority to govern.

The 56 signers also agreed that "These united colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain is and ought to be totally dissolved, and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do," unquote.

The first to sign the Declaration was the president of the Continental Congress, John Hancock. After scripting his big and bold signature, Hancock said, quote, "We must be unanimous. There must be no pulling different ways. We must all hang together," unquote. On hearing these words, Benjamin Franklin is said to have replied, quote, "Yes, we must indeed all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately."

Question: Citizens of the original 13 colonies identified themselves not as Americans but as Virginians or Vermonters. The concept of national identity hardly existed. So how severe was this in the early days? How severe was sectionalism as a problem? And what did it focus on? Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, we had -- they had the advantage, in a sense, of having a common enemy. It was really the way Britain responded to these colonies that really brought these colonies together. They had vastly different political theories, vastly different economic interests. They had many competitions at various levels. But ultimately it was the struggle against England that really brought them together and kept them together.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What separated them?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Even after the success against England, though, they had very different forms of government. You had Alexander Hamilton on one side. You had Jefferson on the other. So you had very, very different views of what the government ought to be and what kind of a government. But they did hang together.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What separated them?

MS. CLIFT: Self-interest. And it's always in our government been a struggle between self-interest and national unity to confront common problems. And to bring this into the modern era, we are in the midst of a presidential campaign, which is really all about unity as opposed to the divisive policies and partisanship of the past.

I think a new politics is struggling to be born. The old politics is still alive and well of character assassination. There'll be plenty of that. But I thought it was telling that, at Tim Russert's memorial mass, that the two presidential candidates made a point of sitting together. And I thought that was a show of unity in Tim's memory that I appreciate and the country appreciates.

MS. CROWLEY: You know what's amazing about America? The more things change, the more they stay the same. And those Founding Fathers had squabbles like crazy. And the first dirty politics, the first negative campaigning, that was Thomas Jefferson against John Adams. In fact, the only Founding Father who really stayed above it all was George Washington, who self-limited himself to only two terms and set the precedent going forward.

But all of these colonies, which later became states, they all had separate interests -- as Mort points out, economic interests. The southern states had interests with regard to tobacco and slavery. The northern states had separate interests regarding maritime trade and so on. And they all had these competing interests coming forward. But they did have that common enemy that brought them together.

You'll notice, though, that when it came time to verify the Declaration of Independence, it was unanimous save one colony, which was -- save one state, rather -- which was New York, which abstained.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think that exhausts this subject -- trade, tariffs, slavery -- as far as sectionalism was concerned?

MS. BERNARD: Well, also, the rights of women -- property rights. Did married women or even single women have the right to own their own property? So the issues go on and on. And what is so interesting is that, in one way or another, these are all issues that still divide the nation today. Slavery is no longer permissible in the United States, but we do have a problem with race relations. Race still is a divisive issue. How to deal with Britain at that period in time -- today we're talking about it in the context of the war on terrorism and the war in Iraq. These are all issues that we still deal with.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm glad that you brought this up, because today we have disunifiers.

The Iraq war. Race -- has Barack Obama leveled the playing field? Poverty -- 33 million Americans live below the poverty line. Abortion -- Roe v. Wade still is a contentious subject for many. Federal entitlement programs, like Social Security -- their explosive expansion. Health care -- growing more and more unaffordable; trade and budget deficits -- spending through the roof; low savings rates and massive consumer credit card debt; foreign debt over $10 trillion; uncompetitive educational system and skyrocketing college tuitions; ongoing worries over nuclear proliferation; global warming.

Very, very troubling, that list. But there is -- but there are oddities. For example, 66 percent of Americans -- that's a consensus -- they oppose the Iraq war. So the Iraq war, a so-called disunifier, has actually united two-thirds of Americans. True or false? MS. BERNARD: It is true. It is true that it has united two- thirds of Americans, but it is still a very divisive issue.

It is going to play a very critical role in our 2008 election in terms of, you know, we have John McCain saying that we will be in Iraq for 100 years; we have Barack Obama saying he wants to withdraw troops as soon as possible. And for that reason it will continue to be a very divisive issue, and very important as we go on to discuss national security, terrorism, and who is best situated to govern our country in the future.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort, what shatters the illusion that the old times were better than the new times? What shatters that illusion?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, frankly, we've made phenomenal progress in this country on so many issues, including the more equitable distribution of the bounty of this country. We have made enormous progress in terms of race relations. We have made enormous progress vis-a-vis women. This country has emerged as the dominant power in the world. We have made incredible progress. There's no other country in the world, in my judgment --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Also --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- that has made as much progress as we have --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We had over --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- in a short amount of time.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We had over 600,000 Americans lose their lives in the Civil War.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Listen, we've had, and we will continue to have, undoubtedly, those kinds of terrible events in our history in which the lives of people are going to be lost in the pursuit of something. But the fact is we have improved the lives of more people than any other country in the world by a big margin.

MS. CLIFT: We have a political system where we're able to fight out these issues, except we are now at a point where the American public is wondering whether that political system can function at all. And I think we've seen extraordinary anger in the country at the political class. (Cross-talk.)

MS. BERNARD: But if you compare us to other countries, this is the greatest democracy in the world. When we have elections, people don't get murdered.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: And that's always been the case. There have always been periods -- the Depression. People had very different views on how to deal with the Depression. We have very different views on how to deal with our present problems. But as you say, that is a democracy, and we do work it through.

MS. CLIFT: But the public anger in a democracy will begin to force change. And I think that's why we are at a pivotal point. In terms of living back then, I would just cite the fact they didn't have any anesthesia. And if you watched the John Adams series on HBO and you saw his daughter being operated on for breast cancer -- no anesthesia; just the knife -- I mean, you realize that health advances are --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I would point out that technology has brought us together. Do you care to elaborate on that?

MS. CROWLEY: Oh, absolutely.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What am I talking about?

MS. CROWLEY: Plus we're beyond outhouses, which is --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the technology I'm thinking of?

MS. CROWLEY: Oh, the technology, medical technology.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: TV, radio help unite the sections of the country.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The interstate highway system, airlines.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Have we cleared the hurdle of the power of the federal government vis-a-vis the states? Isn't that a harmonious arrangement we have now? Isn't that encouraging?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: By and large, yes. Because of the nature of how the economy has developed and how our society has developed, we look more and more to the central government to resolve a lot of difficulties. And it works.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can you imagine how they were tip-toeing through this, feeling their way? MR. ZUCKERMAN: But we have a system, frankly, a system of government, that can be paralyzed because of the way we've divided power. So it's not always --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What does that mean?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: It means, for example, we haven't been able to address the issue of health care. We haven't been able to address the issue of energy. We haven't been able to address the issue of --

MS. CROWLEY: Is that owing to the structure of the country?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: It's because we have not been able to form a government which is responsible for these issues, which --

(Cross-talk.)

MS. CLIFT: The Founding Fathers --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Under the British system, you have both executive power and legislative power in one party.

MS. CLIFT: The Founding Fathers --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you an Anglophile? Are you recommending something here? (Laughter.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I moved here from an Anglophile country, so I'm more American than almost anybody I know.

MS. CLIFT: The Founding Fathers built in a lot of checks and balances. And right now we're struggling on the issue of offshore drilling, which the president and John McCain has overturned long-held beliefs in this country that that should be off-limits to oil drilling. And they're saying now it should be up to the states, and they should be given financial incentives. Frankly, as a citizen of the country, I think I have some say over whether we drill for oil off the coast of Florida.

MS. CROWLEY: But you know what? Getting back to the question of gridlock, a lot of voters actually like gridlock. They don't appreciate the government into every corner and aspect of American life. And that's why so many voters split ticket. They'll vote Republican for president and Democrat for the Congress. They like that inability of the government to actually go ahead and --

MS. CLIFT: Actually, they want the government to act now.

MS. CROWLEY: They want the government --

(Cross-talk.) MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We're talking about whether or not we are evolving as a nation and as a species. We've had no real serious -- not serious, but high-casualty war since World War II. Is that not due to the nuclear bomb --

MS. CLIFT: I think Vietnam was a fairly high-casualty war.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and the fact that we have mutual assured deterrence? Figure that out. Are you with me?

MS. BERNARD: I am with you. I hear you, John. (Laughs.

) Nobody wants war. Nobody wants war.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that because the nuclear bomb is a threat in the background, providing the kind of deterrence that we need in a crazy way?

MS. BERNARD: Well, it is not the kind of deterrent that we would think it has been in the past. Look at Iran. Iran is a huge problem for us. If Iran gets nuclear weapons, it will be a huge problem for the United States, for Israel, and the rest of the world.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, Iran did not use weapons of mass destruction against the Iraqis when they had that eight-year war, and they had the chemical and biological weapons to do it.

MS. BERNARD: That's true, but that's --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's not get ahead of where Iran really is.

Exit question: Eighty percent of Americans think that our country is on the wrong track -- 80 percent. Are America's best days behind it? You've answered this already. Do you want to be satisfied with that?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, I'm not satisfied with it. I actually think they're unhappy with where we are now, but it doesn't mean that the best days of this country are behind us. They don't like the government.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: A new president, especially a President Barack Obama, would put a new face on America for the world. And I think the problems that we have can be fixed by leadership. We need leadership.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor is saying that the complaint is against our politicians.

MS. CROWLEY: Right, right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It is against our -- they're complaining about the economy. But fundamentally the American people are optimistic about this country. Is that true? MR. ZUCKERMAN: Absolutely.

MS. CROWLEY: Absolutely. And that's always been the case since day one in this country. Americans are pioneering. We've got the pioneering spirit. We're optimists by nature. And every age has had its serious problems. This age is not exempted from that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you saying that the --

MS. CROWLEY: And every age that has come next has been better than the one that preceded it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The bloom is not off the American Dream?

MS. CROWLEY: It is not off the rose.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is the bloom off the dream?

MS. BERNARD: No. America is the greatest nation in this world, and we will continue to move forward.

MS. CLIFT: Except the polls show that many people feel that the next generation's living style will not be up to the par of their parents. So we do have a certain decline in standards.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, where do you come down on the issue? Are we pessimistic or optimistic?

MS. CLIFT: Look, I think there's so much excitement about the election, that shows an optimism. I'm optimistic --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean, Obama alone generates all the optimism.

MS. CLIFT: Yes, John. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: When we come back, are the Republicans facing a negative realignment vis-a-vis the Democrats? And could it last for decades?

(Announcements.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Two -- Is George W. Bush, quote-unquote, "radioactive"?

REP. TOM DAVIS (R-VA): (From videotape.) The president is the face of the party. He is absolutely radioactive at this point.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Bush radioactive. Former National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Davis is frustrated and very gloomy. REP. DAVIS: (From videotape.) We're seen as an appendage to President Bush. And between the unpopular war, you take a look at the gas prices, the housing costs and everything, we are being tied to that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In the House of Representatives, three seats held special elections this year. In the last six months, Democrats have picked up three long-time Republican seats. The GOP on March 8th lost an Illinois seat to a Democrat. Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert had occupied the seat for 22 years. Hastert resigned in November. In May, Republicans lost a Louisiana House seat that had been in Republican hands also for 22 years, since 1986. And most recently, Republicans lost a Mississippi special election. That seat had also been held by Republicans for 14 years.

Question: How toxic is the Bush legacy for all 173 Republican House members up for re-election and 23 of the 49 Senate Republicans? Monica Crowley.

MS. CROWLEY: Here's what Republicans have to do going into November -- Number one, pray. (Laughs.) Number two, if the president offers to come to your district and campaign for you --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Run for your life.

MS. CROWLEY: -- opt for the cardboard cutout of President Bush rather than the actual guy. And they also have to run -- they have to get back to conservative principles. They have to talk about reducing the size of government, lower taxes, fighting the war on terror, continuing that on the offense, talking about a national energy strategy in a very real, tangible way, because gas prices are dominating the conversation; and also talk about the need to appoint conservative judges.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me go ahead with this exit question and you can fill it in with your own point now. Exit question -- Is it too soon to conclude the following about the Bush-Cheney legacy? One, they destroyed the GOP congressional majority; two, tanked the value of the dollar; three, created unprecedented red ink in the federal budget; four, drew us into a quagmire in Iraq; five, left us with a recession and inflation; six, then skedaddled out of town.

The question is, is it too soon to conclude that the foregoing constitutes the Bush-Cheney legacy? Zuckerman.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, I mean, I think you probably have weighted the case just slightly, John. (Laughter.) I don't know why I think that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What are the redeeming features?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, I mean, the one thing that you have to imagine, okay, is that -- MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Imagine? It doesn't exist.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, excuse me -- that the terrorist threat is something that might have been a lot worse had he not been as forceful as he was. And the thing that I think astonishes everybody about this administration is not their policies but how incompetent they were in administering their policies.

MS. CLIFT: Well, the notion that the terrorist threat would have been worse if he had not acted the way he did does not excuse a war of choice in Iraq that was then needlessly and poorly managed. And also you left off the list "shredded the U.S. Constitution." I thought your list was pretty good. (Laughter.) And that's why President Bush has a 29 percent approval rating.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Treat it as the abridged version, the executive summary.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: He has a higher disapproval rating than Richard Nixon did in the last week of his presidency.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about -- Truman was the lowest, though, I believe.

MS. CLIFT: Well, by two points. He was at 27. I think --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, that's a lower figure.

MS. CLIFT: Well, he has time. (Laughs.)

MS. CROWLEY: That was a pretty loaded question, John. And I do think it's too soon to pass judgment on the Bush-Cheney legacy. They still have a couple more months in office. Anything could happen. But --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you talking about Israel?

MS. CROWLEY: This is -- well, a number of things could happen. The economy could improve. And, by the way, we're winning the war in Iraq now --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is there any other way for the economy to go?

MS. CROWLEY: -- which even the left-wing media that opposed the war, like the Associated Press and so on, now admits we're winning in Iraq.

MS. CLIFT: Can you describe what "winning" is? "Winning"? What does that mean? MS. CROWLEY: The violence is down dramatically, Eleanor. There's political reconciliation happening like mad in Iraq.

MS. CLIFT: And all those refugees --

MS. CROWLEY: That doesn't mean that it's not reversible, but the progress is in the right direction. And I will say that in terms of the Bush-Cheney legacy, there is some time to go, and it's too early to pass judgment.

MS. BERNARD: Well, here is something positive that I hope we would all agree on about the Bush-Cheney legacy, despite all the negatives that you just listed, which are all probably correct. President Bush has brought education to the forefront of our national discussion. For the first time in a very long time, people are talking about what happens in our K-through-12 system and how we prepare the future for a 21st century workforce.

MS. CLIFT: (Inaudible) -- No Child Left Behind.

MS. BERNARD: But we are having the discussion. We have never had this discussion before. It is a national discussion. It is an important one to have, regardless of how you feel about No Child Left Behind. And also, to President Bush's credit, for the first time, I think, in a very long time, we are actually talking about women's rights as human rights in the Middle East. We have had these discussions with Saudi Arabia, with Egypt, with Pakistan, with Iraq, and even in Iran. And I credit the administration for doing that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think those are redemptive features. I also think Mort's point is quite helpful, helpful to redeem, and that is we haven't had a terrorist attack of the kind of significance that brought us all to our knees with September the 11th.

We'll be right back with predictions.

(Announcements.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, one of the other legacies of the Bush administration is the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. But this means that we are not going to have the Federal Reserve increasing the federal funds rate over the next -- over the rest of this year.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What are you talking about, the greatest downturn?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: We are going to have the most serious recession since the Great Depression. I've said this before on this program. It's going to be the -- MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You haven't gone that far, have you?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Oh, yes, I have. And I believe it. And I've said it and I've written it. Absolutely.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: The ban on gay marriage on the California state ballot will fail. I'm not sure about Florida yet. Those are the two states involved.

MS. CROWLEY: The so-called truce between Israel and Hamas over Gaza will last two months or less.

MS. BERNARD: Barack Obama will accept the Democratic nomination on August 28th, on the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Good. I'm glad you salvaged some positive outlook here -- (laughter) -- in this sea, in this ocean of negativity.

I predict that Guantanamo Bay will be closed by July 4, 2009.

Have a happy and safe Fourth of July weekend. Bye-bye.

END.

resident and John McCain has overturned long-held beliefs in this country that that should be off-limits to oil drilling. And they're saying now it should be up to the states, and they should be given financial incentives. Frankly, as a citizen of the country, I think I have some say over whether we drill for oil off the coast of Florida.

MS. CROWLEY: But you know what? Getting back to the question of gridlock, a lot of voters actually like gridlock. They don't appreciate the government into every corner and aspect of American life. And that's why so many voters split ticket. They'll vote Republican for president and Democrat for the Congress. They like that inability of the government to actually go ahead and --

MS. CLIFT: Actually, they want the government to act now.

MS. CROWLEY: They want the government --

(Cross-talk.) MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We're talking about whether or not we are evolving as a nation and as a species. We've had no real serious -- not serious, but high-casualty war since World War II. Is that not due to the nuclear bomb --

MS. CLIFT: I think Vietnam was a fairly high-casualty war.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and the fact that we have mutual assured deterrence? Figure that out. Are you with me?

MS. BERNARD: I am with you. I hear you, John. (Laughs.

) Nobody wants war. Nobody wants war.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that because the nuclear bomb is a threat in the background, providing the kind of deterrence that we need in a crazy way?

MS. BERNARD: Well, it is not the kind of deterrent that we would think it has been in the past. Look at Iran. Iran is a huge problem for us. If Iran gets nuclear weapons, it will be a huge problem for the United States, for Israel, and the rest of the world.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, Iran did not use weapons of mass destruction against the Iraqis when they had that eight-year war, and they had the chemical and biological weapons to do it.

MS. BERNARD: That's true, but that's --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's not get ahead of where Iran really is.

Exit question: Eighty percent of Americans think that our country is on the wrong track -- 80 percent. Are America's best days behind it? You've answered this already. Do you want to be satisfied with that?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, I'm not satisfied with it. I actually think they're unhappy with where we are now, but it doesn't mean that the best days of this country are behind us. They don't like the government.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: A new president, especially a President Barack Obama, would put a new face on America for the world. And I think the problems that we have can be fixed by leadership. We need leadership.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor is saying that the complaint is against our politicians.

MS. CROWLEY: Right, right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It is against our -- they're complaining about the economy. But fundamentally the American people are optimistic about this country. Is that true? MR. ZUCKERMAN: Absolutely.

MS. CROWLEY: Absolutely. And that's always been the case since day one in this country. Americans are pioneering. We've got the pioneering spirit. We're optimists by nature. And every age has had its serious problems. This age is not exempted from that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you saying that the --

MS. CROWLEY: And every age that has come next has been better than the one that preceded it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The bloom is not off the American Dream?

MS. CROWLEY: It is not off the rose.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is the bloom off the dream?

MS. BERNARD: No. America is the greatest nation in this world, and we will continue to move forward.

MS. CLIFT: Except the polls show that many people feel that the next generation's living style will not be up to the par of their parents. So we do have a certain decline in standards.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, where do you come down on the issue? Are we pessimistic or optimistic?

MS. CLIFT: Look, I think there's so much excitement about the election, that shows an optimism. I'm optimistic --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean, Obama alone generates all the optimism.

MS. CLIFT: Yes, John. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: When we come back, are the Republicans facing a negative realignment vis-a-vis the Democrats? And could it last for decades?

(Announcements.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Two -- Is George W. Bush, quote-unquote, "radioactive"?

REP. TOM DAVIS (R-VA): (From videotape.) The president is the face of the party. He is absolutely radioactive at this point.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Bush radioactive. Former National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Davis is frustrated and very gloomy. REP. DAVIS: (From videotape.) We're seen as an appendage to President Bush. And between the unpopular war, you take a look at the gas prices, the housing costs and everything, we are being tied to that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In the House of Representatives, three seats held special elections this year. In the last six months, Democrats have picked up three long-time Republican seats. The GOP on March 8th lost an Illinois seat to a Democrat. Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert had occupied the seat for 22 years. Hastert resigned in November. In May, Republicans lost a Louisiana House seat that had been in Republican hands also for 22 years, since 1986. And most recently, Republicans lost a Mississippi special election. That seat had also been held by Republicans for 14 years.

Question: How toxic is the Bush legacy for all 173 Republican House members up for re-election and 23 of the 49 Senate Republicans? Monica Crowley.

MS. CROWLEY: Here's what Republicans have to do going into November -- Number one, pray. (Laughs.) Number two, if the president offers to come to your district and campaign for you --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Run for your life.

MS. CROWLEY: -- opt for the cardboard cutout of President Bush rather than the actual guy. And they also have to run -- they have to get back to conservative principles. They have to talk about reducing the size of government, lower taxes, fighting the war on terror, continuing that on the offense, talking about a national energy strategy in a very real, tangible way, because gas prices are dominating the conversation; and also talk about the need to appoint conservative judges.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me go ahead with this exit question and you can fill it in with your own point now. Exit question -- Is it too soon to conclude the following about the Bush-Cheney legacy? One, they destroyed the GOP congressional majority; two, tanked the value of the dollar; three, created unprecedented red ink in the federal budget; four, drew us into a quagmire in Iraq; five, left us with a recession and inflation; six, then skedaddled out of town.

The question is, is it too soon to conclude that the foregoing constitutes the Bush-Cheney legacy? Zuckerman.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, I mean, I think you probably have weighted the case just slightly, John. (Laughter.) I don't know why I think that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What are the redeeming features?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, I mean, the one thing that you have to imagine, okay, is that -- MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Imagine? It doesn't exist.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, excuse me -- that the terrorist threat is something that might have been a lot worse had he not been as forceful as he was. And the thing that I think astonishes everybody about this administration is not their policies but how incompetent they were in administering their policies.

MS. CLIFT: Well, the notion that the terrorist threat would have been worse if he had not acted the way he did does not excuse a war of choice in Iraq that was then needlessly and poorly managed. And also you left off the list "shredded the U.S. Constitution." I thought your list was pretty good. (Laughter.) And that's why President Bush has a 29 percent approval rating.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Treat it as the abridged version, the executive summary.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: He has a higher disapproval rating than Richard Nixon did in the last week of his presidency.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about -- Truman was the lowest, though, I believe.

MS. CLIFT: Well, by two points. He was at 27. I think --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, that's a lower figure.

MS. CLIFT: Well, he has time. (Laughs.)

MS. CROWLEY: That was a pretty loaded question, John. And I do think it's too soon to pass judgment on the Bush-Cheney legacy. They still have a couple more months in office. Anything could happen. But --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you talking about Israel?

MS. CROWLEY: This is -- well, a number of things could happen. The economy could improve. And, by the way, we're winning the war in Iraq now --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is there any other way for the economy to go?

MS. CROWLEY: -- which even the left-wing media that opposed the war, like the Associated Press and so on, now admits we're winning in Iraq.

MS. CLIFT: Can you describe what "winning" is? "Winning"? What does that mean? MS. CROWLEY: The violence is down dramatically, Eleanor. There's political reconciliation happening like mad in Iraq.

MS. CLIFT: And all those refugees --

MS. CROWLEY: That doesn't mean that it's not reversible, but the progress is in the right direction. And I will say that in terms of the Bush-Cheney legacy, there is some time to go, and it's too early to pass judgment.

MS. BERNARD: Well, here is something positive that I hope we would all agree on about the Bush-Cheney legacy, despite all the negatives that you just listed, which are all probably correct. President Bush has brought education to the forefront of our national discussion. For the first time in a very long time, people are talking about what happens in our K-through-12 system and how we prepare the future for a 21st century workforce.

MS. CLIFT: (Inaudible) -- No Child Left Behind.

MS. BERNARD: But we are having the discussion. We have never had this discussion before. It is a national discussion. It is an important one to have, regardless of how you feel about No Child Left Behind. And also, to President Bush's credit, for the first time, I think, in a very long time, we are actually talking about women's rights as human rights in the Middle East. We have had these discussions with Saudi Arabia, with Egypt, with Pakistan, with Iraq, and even in Iran. And I credit the administration for doing that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think those are redemptive features. I also think Mort's point is quite helpful, helpful to redeem, and that is we haven't had a terrorist attack of the kind of significance that brought us all to our knees with September the 11th.

We'll be right back with predictions.

(Announcements.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, one of the other legacies of the Bush administration is the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. But this means that we are not going to have the Federal Reserve increasing the federal funds rate over the next -- over the rest of this year.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What are you talking about, the greatest downturn?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: We are going to have the most serious recession since the Great Depression. I've said this before on this program. It's going to be the -- MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You haven't gone that far, have you?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Oh, yes, I have. And I believe it. And I've said it and I've written it. Absolutely.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: The ban on gay marriage on the California state ballot will fail. I'm not sure about Florida yet. Those are the two states involved.

MS. CROWLEY: The so-called truce between Israel and Hamas over Gaza will last two months or less.

MS. BERNARD: Barack Obama will accept the Democratic nomination on August 28th, on the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Good. I'm glad you salvaged some positive outlook here -- (laughter) -- in this sea, in this ocean of negativity.

I predict that Guantanamo Bay will be closed by July 4, 2009.

Have a happy and safe Fourth of July weekend. Bye-bye.

END.