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"THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP" HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN PANEL: PATRICK BUCHANAN, MSNBC; ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK; MICHELLE BERNARD, INDEPENDENT WOMEN'S FORUM; PETER BEINART, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS TAPED: FRIDAY, JULY 11, 2008 BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF JULY 12-13, 2008

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DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One -- Getting To Know You.

Russian President Dimitry Medvedev, the successor to Vladimir Putin, met for the first time with President George Bush at the Group of Eight G8 summit in Japan this week. Bush had a positive impression of Medvedev.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: (From videotape.) I found him to be a smart guy who understood the issues very well. But I will tell you that he's very comfortable. He's confident. And I believe that when he tells me something, he means it.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question -- Is Bush buttering up Medvedev, Pat Buchanan? And, if so, why? MR. BUCHANAN: Well, I think he's doing the right thing. I think we've had too much in-your-face confrontation with Putin. We've got a new Russian president. I think you give him the benefit of the doubt. You try to draw him in and, frankly, treat him like the president of Russia. And that can only benefit the United States, John, because, in my judgment, the relationship between the United States and Moscow is probably just about the most important from the standpoint of U.S. vital national interests, and we have not been doing a good job in the last five years.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What did Buchanan fail to mention, Eleanor -- oil?

MS. CLIFT: Well, there is oil, but there are also those little missiles that the Bush administration is inserting into Eastern Europe, which the Russians don't like. But I thought the president was being gracious. He did resist saying he had looked into his eyes and determined what his soul was like. (Laughter.)

But, you know, it really almost doesn't matter, John, because President Bush is such a lame duck and Medvedev is basically a stand- in for President Putin. And I think everybody is waiting until we have a turn in administration. And all President Bush has to do is not create any more damage before he leaves office. And I'm hoping he's up to that.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: On this very subject -- okay, Medvedev on Bush.

"We will have six months with the ongoing Bush administration, and we'll try to intensify our dialogue with this administration." Medvedev says that Russia and the United States are in agreement on Iran; namely, that nuclear enrichment for civil uses is acceptable, whereas weapons-grade nuclear enrichment is unacceptable.

Question -- Is it not surprising but comforting that Dimitry Medvedev says Russia and the United States are in agreement on Iran? I ask you.

MS. BERNARD: Well, it's interesting, because, you know, we have Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. She's in Prague this week. And it just so happens that while she's in Prague, Iran decides that they're going to start, you know, firing off missiles and sort of testing the international community's resolve against Iran.

So it will be interesting to see if the new Russian president is, in fact, Putin II. You know, he does not want the United States to install the sort of anti-missile defense system in Chechnya, as we would like to see. But I think the president is doing the right thing. We're trying to act at least as diplomatically as possible with Russia. And as they say, time will tell. DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, there are differences, of course, Peter, as you know. Medvedev said this. Quote -- "There are certainly other issues with respect to European affairs and missile defense where we have our differences. We would like to agree on these matters as well. And we also feel very comfortable in our dealings with George. However, there is no particular progress. We continue to exchange opinions," unquote.

Well, that may be true for Medvedev, but his Russian Foreign Ministry, who likes to not necessarily do business with George, is quite uncomfortable, notably on the build-out of the U.S. missile installation in the Czech Republic. If it goes forward, the Russian Foreign Ministry said this week, quote, "We will be forced to react not with diplomatic but with military technical methods," unquote.

What do you think of that?

MR. BEINART: I think, if you go all the way back to German unification, time and time again the Russians have said, "Over our dead bodies will we allow Germany to be unified, Germany to be in NATO, NATO to expand into the Czech and Poland, NATO to expand into the Balkans," and now the missile defense. And they've rolled over on every one, because the truth is they don't have the ability to project power anywhere near Eastern Europe anymore. On the countries right on their border, they still have some leverage. But the truth is, they're barking and they have no bite.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: So it's a hollow warning.

MR. BUCHANAN: They have bite.

MS. BERNARD: It is. It's political posturing.

MR. BUCHANAN: They have bite, John. The bite they have is they provide most of Western Europe with natural gas. They're buying up the Libyan natural gas. They're going to have tremendous leverage there. I happen to believe --

MR. BEINART: They need that money, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: I believe the missile system -- the Poles are holding us up in order to let us install 10 anti-missile missiles. I think this anti-missile system is a terrible idea in terms of what it gains for security but deeply antagonizes not only Putin and Medvedev, but also the Russian people --

MS. CLIFT: I agree.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- who feel we're getting into their face.

MS. CLIFT: I agree. It's a several-billion-dollar boondoggle, and it's all about loyalty among Republicans to the Reagan legacy. The system doesn't really work, and we're creating unnecessary problems with this country of Russia, which is just trying to find its place on the world stage, finding the greatness that it thinks it deserves.

(Cross-talk.)

MS. CLIFT: It's an unnecessary provocation.

MR. BEINART: It's a very strange place in foreign affairs where Eleanor and Pat are agreeing with one another. (Laughter.

)

MS. CLIFT: Actually, it isn't.

MR. BEINART: I know. The Cold War's been over for a long time now. I don't think missile defense will work particularly. I agree with the theology. I'm not sure it's necessarily worth the money. But I think when you look practically at what the Soviet Union is going to do about something in the Czech Republic, as opposed to in Georgia or on its borders, I think, in reality, they're not going to do that.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, on the Iran --

MR. BUCHANAN: They're going to --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold it, please, Pat. On the Iran missile scare, the fact that Russia does a lot of business in Iran, the fact that Russia is putting up nuclear plants in Iran, does not the Russian presence in Iran kind of either stabilize that condition, or does it not make the threats of both sides ring hollow, that nothing's going to happen?

MS. BERNARD: Well, I mean, what it says to me is that the claim of the Russian government that they don't want this missile defense shield up because it is against Russia versus Iran and that Iran is not a threat, I think, is a bogus -- it's a bogus claim. To me it rings hollow. All of this is political posturing. And I don't want to say anything too negative about the new Russian president, because time will tell, like I said earlier. But it seems to me that he is Putin II.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does Russia's presence in Iran complicate, if not defeat, the military option?

MR. BUCHANAN: No, it does not. The military -- I don't think the military --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why not?

MR. BUCHANAN: Look, the Russians are in Bushehr. They're building that. We're not going to kill Russians. The Russians don't want Iran to have nuclear weapons, but they're not as afraid of Iran, frankly, as we are or the Israelis are. But if we're going to move, the Israelis are going to move. Let me tell you, Russia --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you have any idea how much business Russia is doing in Iran?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, they do a lot of business.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: A huge amount of business.

MR. BUCHANAN: They do 10 times as much as we used to do ourselves.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think they want us or anybody bombing Iran?

MS. BERNARD: Absolutely not.

MR. BUCHANAN: No, they don't want that. They don't want that. But they don't want Iran to get nuclear weapons either, because they're very close to them.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but the military option is not a good one for Iran for lots of reasons beyond Russia. I mean, first of all, it would -- Iran has cards to play. They just sent off a couple of missiles, and look what happens to the price of oil. They could choke off the transport in the Straits of Hormuz. They could bring the world economy to a standstill. I mean, they have cards to play in an asymmetrical situation that can trump any bombs that George Bush can drop on his way out of town.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question. The U.S. and Russia do not agree on the deployment of a defense missile shield in Eastern Europe, notably Poland and Czechoslovakia, or the Czech Republic. Will Bush and Medvedev clash over this issue? And how serious will that clash be? We know what Peter thinks. What do you think?

MR. BUCHANAN: I don't think it'll be a serious clash because I think the Russians know -- I do agree with Peter -- they can do nothing about it. But it is in your face. It is, in my judgment, unnecessary. And I don't know that the thing is going to be that effective. You've got 10 missiles there and a radar in Czechoslovakia defending Poland, which doesn't want them, and it's holding us up in order so we can emplace them. I would -- frankly, if I were the next president, I would say to the Poles, "We're not going to site them there."

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, you are so 2003, really. (Laughter.)

Eleanor. MS. CLIFT: I think the Russians may well fold. But they may get the last laugh, because this system is most likely unworkable. It's billions of dollars. And it is a Cold War relic.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?

MS. BERNARD: I think the Russians will fold.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You do?

MS. BERNARD: I do.

MR. BEINART: You know, the Russians freaked out about missile defense in the 1980s, too. It wasn't going to work then either. They have this irrational fear of these missile defense systems that the American scientists know actually probably won't matter.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think you are all at least 2005 or 2006. (Laughter.) Russia is a lot stronger today, and Russia is in the process of trying to reimperialize, Pat. Put that in one of your columns. (Laughter.)

When we come back, the generational split among black Americans -- old generation, confrontation; new generation, compromise.

(Announcements.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Two -- I'm Sorry, So Sorry.

REV. JESSE JACKSON: (From videotape.) In this thing I have said in a hot-mike statement that's contributed as a distraction, I offer an apology for that, because I don't want harm nor hurt to come to this campaign. It represents too much of the dreams of so many who paid such great prices.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Reverend Jesse Jackson delivered this apology after this unfortunate remark about Barack Obama was caught on a live camera and microphone.

REV. JACKSON: (From videotape.) Barack has been talking down to black people. I want to cut his -- (deleted) -- off. Barack, he's has been talking down to black people.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question -- Does this contretemps help or hurt Obama? Michelle Bernard.

MS. BERNARD: Oh, I think this is -- I said earlier this week, Jesse Jackson is the gift that just keeps giving for Barack Obama. I think this is absolutely nothing but good news for Barack Obama.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why? Why? MS. BERNARD: Because he is the presumptive Democratic nominee. If he wins the election, his challenge will be not only to represent African-Americans, but he will be representing the entire nation. He represents a completely different generational shift from what we saw coming out of our 1960s civil rights black leadership in the sense that he has no fear about going out in public and talking about the importance of personal responsibility, not only for the nation as a whole, but for the black community. And that is completely different than Jesse Jackson.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, let's nail this thing down. And here's a sample of what Jackson apparently sees as Obama's disparaging the black community.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESUMPTIVE DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: (From videotape.

) If we're honest with ourselves, we'll admit that too many fathers are also missing. Too many fathers are MIA. Too many fathers are AWOL -- missing from too many lives and too many homes. They've abandoned their responsibilities. They're acting like boys instead of men. And the foundations of our family have suffered because of it. You and I know this is true everywhere, but nowhere is it more true than in the African-American community.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question -- Does it frost Jackson, Jesse Jackson, that someone like Obama, who fits the stereotype blacks once labeled as an "Oreo" -- a black on the outside, a white on the inside -- that an "Oreo" should be the beneficiary of the long civil rights struggle, which Jesse Jackson spent his lifetime fighting for? Peter Beinart.

MR. BEINART: Who knows what Jesse Jackson is thinking? But that's a completely unfair depiction of Barack Obama. The genius of Barack Obama is that he moves seamlessly between the African-American world and the white world in a way that even Bill Clinton couldn't possibly match.

And the tragedy of this experience is that you know who's spoken very eloquently for many, many years about personal responsibility in the black community? Jesse Jackson. He of all people should recognize, in fact, that what Barack Obama is saying is not contrary to the message of the civil rights movement. It is in keeping with that message.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's nail it down a little bit more for the sake of Jackson. The question is this. Jackson's point of contention is this. This is the exit question. The point of contention is that instead of Obama solely lecturing African-Americans on parental duty, particularly fathers, he should also give equal attention to the large and, many believe, prejudicial incarceration rate for blacks, their lack of economic opportunities and other public policy issues that limit choices for black males. Why doesn't Obama hit that as hard as he hits individual parental responsibility? That's what Jackson is complaining about.

MR. BEINART: Barack Obama doesn't talk about jobs and health care? He talks about it all the time. If you want him to talk about the fact that there are too many people in prison, then you're asking him to do something that will lose him the election. That is politically -- no serious political strategist --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, oh. So he's -- (inaudible).

MR. BEINART: He's a man trying to win the presidency, John.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's exactly what Jeremiah Wright says he is. He will do whatever is necessary to win.

MR. BEINART: He's a practical politician.

MS. BERNARD: He has been saying this forever.

MS. CLIFT: This is a generational shift. Jesse Jackson Jr. put out a statement basically saying, "Dad, time to leave the stage." There is a disconnect in terms of style and tactics from the older civil rights generation to the generation that Obama is from and that he's trying to attract.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does Jackson have a legitimate point?

MR. BUCHANAN: No, he doesn't.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why?

MR. BUCHANAN: I'll tell you why, John. Here's why. What Barack Obama is saying is a message that needs to be heard. It's the Bill Cosby message. It is "Look, this is our responsibility. These are our families. The white society is not responsible for our kids dropping out of schools or using drugs or going on welfare. We are." What Jesse Jackson says is, "The white community is responsible, and they've got to solve our problems."

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Isn't this the oddity of the century where a Barack Obama is a conservative and Jesse Jackson is a liberal?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, Jesse Jackson used to talk this way.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Isn't that an oddity?

MS. BERNARD: It is an oddity, but I want to go back to the point you made about whether or not Barack Obama is an "Oreo," because if Barack Obama is an "Oreo," then every member of this generation of African-Americans is an "Oreo," because we stand on the shoulders of the people who fought for our rights. And all of us say that you cannot blame "the man" or white racism for everything that ails the black community.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: But what about changing public policy where it needs to be changed?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, public policy isn't the problem. MS. CLIFT: As a former --

MS. BERNARD: If I could finish my point, when Jesse Jackson came out and said when he gave his, quote-unquote, "apology" the next day was, "Barack Obama should be demanding more government programs for African-Americans." And that's wrong.

MS. CLIFT: And Jack White, a former Time Magazine writer, says that it's disorienting for the black community when "the man" might be the guy in the Oval Office. And so everybody's making some adjustments here. But Barack Obama is handling his role beautifully, and that is to relate to America as a broad population.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three -- McCain in the Gaffe Grinder.

Another gaffe this week, this time from one of Senator John McCain's senior advisers, Phil Gramm, who played down the economic woes facing Americans.

FORMER SENATOR PHIL GRAMM (R-TX): (From videotape.) You've heard of a mental depression. This is a mental recession. We've never had more natural advantages than we have today. We've sort of become a nation of whiners.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: McCain quickly drew a red line separating himself from Gramm.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ, presumptive Republican presidential nominee): (From videotape.) Phil Gramm does not speak for me. I speak for me.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did McCain have to be so definitive because of the following remarks made five months ago?

SEN. MCCAIN: (From videotape.) There is no one in America that is more respected on the issue of economics than Senator Phil Gramm. So I'm honored that you are here, Phil.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: McCain was then asked whether there was a place for Gramm in the McCain administration.

SEN. MCCAIN: (From videotape.) I think Senator Gramm would be in serious consideration for ambassador to Belarus.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clever on McCain's part, but Obama may have been cleverer.

SEN. OBAMA: (From videotape.) America already has one Dr. Phil. (Laughter.) We don't need another one when it comes to the economy. We need somebody to actually solve the economy. It's not just a figment of your imagination. DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question -- McCain once said that he didn't know much about economics. Is the combination of that admission, compounded with the Gramm fiasco, plus Obama's witty and sarcastic exploitation of it, altogether a mortal blow to John McCain's candidacy? Peter Beinart.

MR. BEINART: That's a little bit too strong, but I don't think that much too strong. I mean, I think this is devastating.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Economy is the number one issue facing America.

MR. BEINART: John McCain cannot win the presidency unless he wins the economy. This reminds me of Jimmy Carter's "malaise" comment. When you start blaming the American people for the fact that the American people are struggling --

MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. BEINART: First of all, it shows the McCain campaign cannot get its act together. It's been terribly managed from the beginning. They've got surrogates going all over the place.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What should McCain do now with regard to this economic problem that he has?

MR. BUCHANAN: Hey, John --

MR. BEINART: Something he's not capable of doing, which is speaking compellingly himself about the economy. (Laughter.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's got to get rid of his current staff, economic staff, and get some new people in there who can give him the look, at least --

MR. BEINART: The big problem is himself.

MR. BUCHANAN: I'll tell you why this is deadly, John. This is deadly because McCain, to win, has got to have Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio, two of those three. Those people can't stand NAFTA. And he was up there trying to court them at the same time Gramm says, "It's a figment of your imagination and it's a mental recession you've got." I don't see how McCain can do it. The way he could do it is get rid of --

MS. CLIFT: This is deadly.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Before you go completely bananas about the negatives of McCain on this issue, bear in mind that June was his best fund-raising month. He got $22 million. Did you know that?

MR. BEINART: Barack Obama got that in an hour. MS. CLIFT: Yeah, and that was Barack Obama's worst month.

MR. BEINART: He got that in an hour.

MS. CLIFT: This is deadly for McCain because this is an election that's going to turn on the economy. And he has been good friends with Phil Gramm for 25 years, and what Gramm said is a window into the thinking of a lot of Republicans, mind you.

MR. BUCHANAN: I'm afraid it is.

MS. CLIFT: And I'm not sure that McCain is that much out of touch, but he sure looks it.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: McCain has minueted from the left to the center and over to the right.

MS. BERNARD: Yes.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know the whole list of items in that category, right?

MS. BERNARD: Yes.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that Obama is fading a little because of that?

MS. BERNARD: (Laughs.) No.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you see any signs of that at all?

MS. BERNARD: Obama fading? No, I absolutely --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Because McCain continues to hurt himself --

MS. BERNARD: Yeah. Look --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- or because Obama has --

MS. BERNARD: It's Christmas in July for Barack Obama this week, particularly between Jesse Jackson and Phil Gramm's statements. It's like talk about death for surrogate for John McCain. I mean, he has a compelling story to tell, but when it comes to the economy and also making the American public feel that Republicans understand your pain, the message has been completely lost. They need to get rid of the surrogates and teach John McCain how to speak in a compelling manner.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: We'll be right back with predictions.

(Announcements.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Pat. MR. BUCHANAN: The Republican Convention is going to have an exciting side convention. I think Ron Paul's crowd is coming out. They could have 6,000 to 10,000 there of a Campaign for Liberty; a big rally Tuesday of the Republican Convention. I don't think Ron Paul is going to endorse the Republican candidate.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: With Ted Kennedy in his last term in the Senate, the new populist liberal lion in the Senate will be Virginia Senator James Webb.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Michelle.

MS. BERNARD: I think that we will continue to see the House Democrats bring legislation forward and that people who previously supported Barack Obama -- namely, Hillary Clinton -- will continue to take opposite votes of what Senator Obama does.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Peter.

MR. BEINART: The person who's getting more and more public talk in terms of Barack Obama's vice presidential nominee is Al Gore.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Interesting. The Russian-Georgian inflamed and potential flash-point standoff on the region of Abkhazia on the Black Sea will be settled by the two nations, with Georgia pertaining sovereignty but Abkhazia itself almost totally autonomous.

Bye-bye.

END.

RNARD: Oh, I think this is -- I said earlier this week, Jesse Jackson is the gift that just keeps giving for Barack Obama. I think this is absolutely nothing but good news for Barack Obama.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why? Why? MS. BERNARD: Because he is the presumptive Democratic nominee. If he wins the election, his challenge will be not only to represent African-Americans, but he will be representing the entire nation. He represents a completely different generational shift from what we saw coming out of our 1960s civil rights black leadership in the sense that he has no fear about going out in public and talking about the importance of personal responsibility, not only for the nation as a whole, but for the black community. And that is completely different than Jesse Jackson.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, let's nail this thing down. And here's a sample of what Jackson apparently sees as Obama's disparaging the black community.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESUMPTIVE DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: (From videotape.

) If we're honest with ourselves, we'll admit that too many fathers are also missing. Too many fathers are MIA. Too many fathers are AWOL -- missing from too many lives and too many homes. They've abandoned their responsibilities. They're acting like boys instead of men. And the foundations of our family have suffered because of it. You and I know this is true everywhere, but nowhere is it more true than in the African-American community.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question -- Does it frost Jackson, Jesse Jackson, that someone like Obama, who fits the stereotype blacks once labeled as an "Oreo" -- a black on the outside, a white on the inside -- that an "Oreo" should be the beneficiary of the long civil rights struggle, which Jesse Jackson spent his lifetime fighting for? Peter Beinart.

MR. BEINART: Who knows what Jesse Jackson is thinking? But that's a completely unfair depiction of Barack Obama. The genius of Barack Obama is that he moves seamlessly between the African-American world and the white world in a way that even Bill Clinton couldn't possibly match.

And the tragedy of this experience is that you know who's spoken very eloquently for many, many years about personal responsibility in the black community? Jesse Jackson. He of all people should recognize, in fact, that what Barack Obama is saying is not contrary to the message of the civil rights movement. It is in keeping with that message.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's nail it down a little bit more for the sake of Jackson. The question is this. Jackson's point of contention is this. This is the exit question. The point of contention is that instead of Obama solely lecturing African-Americans on parental duty, particularly fathers, he should also give equal attention to the large and, many believe, prejudicial incarceration rate for blacks, their lack of economic opportunities and other public policy issues that limit choices for black males. Why doesn't Obama hit that as hard as he hits individual parental responsibility? That's what Jackson is complaining about.

MR. BEINART: Barack Obama doesn't talk about jobs and health care? He talks about it all the time. If you want him to talk about the fact that there are too many people in prison, then you're asking him to do something that will lose him the election. That is politically -- no serious political strategist --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, oh. So he's -- (inaudible).

MR. BEINART: He's a man trying to win the presidency, John.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's exactly what Jeremiah Wright says he is. He will do whatever is necessary to win.

MR. BEINART: He's a practical politician.

MS. BERNARD: He has been saying this forever.

MS. CLIFT: This is a generational shift. Jesse Jackson Jr. put out a statement basically saying, "Dad, time to leave the stage." There is a disconnect in terms of style and tactics from the older civil rights generation to the generation that Obama is from and that he's trying to attract.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does Jackson have a legitimate point?

MR. BUCHANAN: No, he doesn't.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why?

MR. BUCHANAN: I'll tell you why, John. Here's why. What Barack Obama is saying is a message that needs to be heard. It's the Bill Cosby message. It is "Look, this is our responsibility. These are our families. The white society is not responsible for our kids dropping out of schools or using drugs or going on welfare. We are." What Jesse Jackson says is, "The white community is responsible, and they've got to solve our problems."

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Isn't this the oddity of the century where a Barack Obama is a conservative and Jesse Jackson is a liberal?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, Jesse Jackson used to talk this way.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Isn't that an oddity?

MS. BERNARD: It is an oddity, but I want to go back to the point you made about whether or not Barack Obama is an "Oreo," because if Barack Obama is an "Oreo," then every member of this generation of African-Americans is an "Oreo," because we stand on the shoulders of the people who fought for our rights. And all of us say that you cannot blame "the man" or white racism for everything that ails the black community.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: But what about changing public policy where it needs to be changed?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, public policy isn't the problem. MS. CLIFT: As a former --

MS. BERNARD: If I could finish my point, when Jesse Jackson came out and said when he gave his, quote-unquote, "apology" the next day was, "Barack Obama should be demanding more government programs for African-Americans." And that's wrong.

MS. CLIFT: And Jack White, a former Time Magazine writer, says that it's disorienting for the black community when "the man" might be the guy in the Oval Office. And so everybody's making some adjustments here. But Barack Obama is handling his role beautifully, and that is to relate to America as a broad population.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three -- McCain in the Gaffe Grinder.

Another gaffe this week, this time from one of Senator John McCain's senior advisers, Phil Gramm, who played down the economic woes facing Americans.

FORMER SENATOR PHIL GRAMM (R-TX): (From videotape.) You've heard of a mental depression. This is a mental recession. We've never had more natural advantages than we have today. We've sort of become a nation of whiners.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: McCain quickly drew a red line separating himself from Gramm.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ, presumptive Republican presidential nominee): (From videotape.) Phil Gramm does not speak for me. I speak for me.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did McCain have to be so definitive because of the following remarks made five months ago?

SEN. MCCAIN: (From videotape.) There is no one in America that is more respected on the issue of economics than Senator Phil Gramm. So I'm honored that you are here, Phil.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: McCain was then asked whether there was a place for Gramm in the McCain administration.

SEN. MCCAIN: (From videotape.) I think Senator Gramm would be in serious consideration for ambassador to Belarus.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clever on McCain's part, but Obama may have been cleverer.

SEN. OBAMA: (From videotape.) America already has one Dr. Phil. (Laughter.) We don't need another one when it comes to the economy. We need somebody to actually solve the economy. It's not just a figment of your imagination. DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question -- McCain once said that he didn't know much about economics. Is the combination of that admission, compounded with the Gramm fiasco, plus Obama's witty and sarcastic exploitation of it, altogether a mortal blow to John McCain's candidacy? Peter Beinart.

MR. BEINART: That's a little bit too strong, but I don't think that much too strong. I mean, I think this is devastating.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Economy is the number one issue facing America.

MR. BEINART: John McCain cannot win the presidency unless he wins the economy. This reminds me of Jimmy Carter's "malaise" comment. When you start blaming the American people for the fact that the American people are struggling --

MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. BEINART: First of all, it shows the McCain campaign cannot get its act together. It's been terribly managed from the beginning. They've got surrogates going all over the place.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What should McCain do now with regard to this economic problem that he has?

MR. BUCHANAN: Hey, John --

MR. BEINART: Something he's not capable of doing, which is speaking compellingly himself about the economy. (Laughter.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's got to get rid of his current staff, economic staff, and get some new people in there who can give him the look, at least --

MR. BEINART: The big problem is himself.

MR. BUCHANAN: I'll tell you why this is deadly, John. This is deadly because McCain, to win, has got to have Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio, two of those three. Those people can't stand NAFTA. And he was up there trying to court them at the same time Gramm says, "It's a figment of your imagination and it's a mental recession you've got." I don't see how McCain can do it. The way he could do it is get rid of --

MS. CLIFT: This is deadly.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Before you go completely bananas about the negatives of McCain on this issue, bear in mind that June was his best fund-raising month. He got $22 million. Did you know that?

MR. BEINART: Barack Obama got that in an hour. MS. CLIFT: Yeah, and that was Barack Obama's worst month.

MR. BEINART: He got that in an hour.

MS. CLIFT: This is deadly for McCain because this is an election that's going to turn on the economy. And he has been good friends with Phil Gramm for 25 years, and what Gramm said is a window into the thinking of a lot of Republicans, mind you.

MR. BUCHANAN: I'm afraid it is.

MS. CLIFT: And I'm not sure that McCain is that much out of touch, but he sure looks it.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: McCain has minueted from the left to the center and over to the right.

MS. BERNARD: Yes.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know the whole list of items in that category, right?

MS. BERNARD: Yes.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that Obama is fading a little because of that?

MS. BERNARD: (Laughs.) No.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you see any signs of that at all?

MS. BERNARD: Obama fading? No, I absolutely --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Because McCain continues to hurt himself --

MS. BERNARD: Yeah. Look --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- or because Obama has --

MS. BERNARD: It's Christmas in July for Barack Obama this week, particularly between Jesse Jackson and Phil Gramm's statements. It's like talk about death for surrogate for John McCain. I mean, he has a compelling story to tell, but when it comes to the economy and also making the American public feel that Republicans understand your pain, the message has been completely lost. They need to get rid of the surrogates and teach John McCain how to speak in a compelling manner.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: We'll be right back with predictions.

(Announcements.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Pat. MR. BUCHANAN: The Republican Convention is going to have an exciting side convention. I think Ron Paul's crowd is coming out. They could have 6,000 to 10,000 there of a Campaign for Liberty; a big rally Tuesday of the Republican Convention. I don't think Ron Paul is going to endorse the Republican candidate.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: With Ted Kennedy in his last term in the Senate, the new populist liberal lion in the Senate will be Virginia Senator James Webb.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Michelle.

MS. BERNARD: I think that we will continue to see the House Democrats bring legislation forward and that people who previously supported Barack Obama -- namely, Hillary Clinton -- will continue to take opposite votes of what Senator Obama does.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Peter.

MR. BEINART: The person who's getting more and more public talk in terms of Barack Obama's vice presidential nominee is Al Gore.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Interesting. The Russian-Georgian inflamed and potential flash-point standoff on the region of Abkhazia on the Black Sea will be settled by the two nations, with Georgia pertaining sovereignty but Abkhazia itself almost totally autonomous.

Bye-bye.

END.