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, OCTOBER 31, 2008 BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF NOVEMBER 1-2, 2008
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DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Home Stretch -- Finally.
Obama, 53 percent; McCain, 38 percent. Obama by 15. Pew.
Obama, 52; McCain, 41. Obama by 11. CBS/New York Times.
Obama, 52; McCain, 44. Obama by 8. ABC/Washington Post.
Obama, 50; McCain, 43. Obama by 7. Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby.
Obama, 48; McCain, 42. Obama by 6. Hotline.
Obama, 51; McCain, 46. Obama by 5. Rasmussen. Obama, 50; McCain, 45. Obama by 5. Gallup Traditional.
Obama, 47; McCain, 44. Obama by 3. Fox.
Question: What's the outlook, Pat?
MR. BUCHANAN: The outlook is probable Obama victory. McCain is closing in Florida and North Carolina, and he may have won Missouri or he's winning Missouri. But he's in big trouble in Virginia, John. He's in big trouble in Colorado. He has not secured Ohio. And he must be 10 points behind in Pennsylvania, which he needs to win. He can do it, but it is a long, long, long shot.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you have thoughts on that, Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: If he loses Pennsylvania or Virginia or Colorado, it's over for him. Barack Obama has run as a transformational candidate, and part of that transformation is transforming the electorate. We don't know exactly who and how many are going to show up, but the early voting indicates that we're going to have a turnout of a dimension that we haven't seen before in this country. And that signals an Obama victory that is significant, and it could be a landslide.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, these are good polling numbers for Obama, but will they be negatively affected by the issue that emerged late in the week? On Friday, Barack Obama evicted three reporters from his plane. All three were from newspapers that had just endorsed John McCain for president -- the New York Post, the Washington Times and the Dallas Morning News.
The editor of the Washington Times, John Solomon, commented on the eviction. Quote: "This feels like the journalistic equivalent of redistributing the wealth. We spent hundreds of thousands of dollars covering Senator Obama's campaign. I hope the candidate that promises to unite America isn't using a litmus test to determine who gets to cover his campaign."
Ryan Rusak, a Dallas Morning News editor, said he was not surprised at Obama's action. Quote: "Senator Obama has not done a press conference in more than a month, but he's given 'exclusive,'" quote-unquote, "interviews to Jon Stewart, Rachel Maddow and Mario Lopez."
Obama spokesman Bill Burton defended the press expulsion decision, saying -- get this -- quote: "We are accommodating these folks in every way possible."
What do you think of this story?
MS. CROWLEY: (Laughs.) Yeah. And you know what the other part of his quote was? "There are still some seats available on Biden's plane." Oh, yeah, sign me up for Biden's plane. That's what I want. This is an outrage. This is unbelievable what he's pulling here. What you didn't say is that he took away those seats from the New York Post, Washington Times and Dallas Morning News, all of which endorsed John McCain, and gave those seats to reporters from Ebony, Essence and Jet magazines.
Bill Burton right there said -- he went on to say that "We're interested in still convincing swing voters." Well, I don't know any swing voters reading Jet magazine. Why don't they just be honest about it --
MR. PAGE: Just the black Republicans out there.
MS. CROWLEY: -- and say they want to reward certain reporters and they want to retaliate against others who are supporting John McCain?
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think of this action?
MR. PAGE: Well, Monica, I didn't hear that outrage when Sarah Palin hasn't given any news conferences and --
MS. CROWLEY: She's actually more accessible --
MR. PAGE: -- very few one-on-ones.
MS. CROWLEY: -- now than Barack Obama and Joe Biden put together. She's giving more interviews than the two of them.
MR. PAGE: And that's saying so much, isn't it? It's going from zero to three.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's return to the question. Was the ban on the reporters an act of retribution for their newspapers' endorsement of McCain? Eleanor.
MR. PAGE: The answer is it doesn't matter.
MS. CLIFT: You call it media self-interest. There are only a limited number of seats evidently on the plane. There's enormous interest in covering him, and they're giving those seats to people who are going to send the message out to where they want. And, look, the Republicans are now blaming the media, which is what losers always do. Newt Gingrich is running around the country giving paid speeches where he accuses the media of being Pravda. But once the election is over --
MS. CROWLEY: Yeah. And? (Laughs.)
MS. CLIFT: -- the Republicans will start blaming each other. Blaming the press -- MR. BUCHANAN: John, if this were Newsweek thrown off the plane, we'd be pulling Eleanor down from the ceiling.
MS. CLIFT: Of course.
MR. PAGE: You raise a very good point, Pat.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think it's a singularly undemocratic thing to do?
MS. CLIFT: Self-interest.
MR. BUCHANAN: I think it is political retribution against the press. It's been done by a lot of folks. But it is foolish for a uniter. It is foolish for Obama, especially to fill the seats with three magazines which are really going to pump him up. It's a foolish mistake.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it a dangerous mistake?
MR. BUCHANAN: It's not dangerous, because I don't think it's going to make a hill of beans of difference except to the press.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why? Because the press lets it roll right by.
MR. BUCHANAN: Because Eleanor doesn't -- you didn't kick Eleanor off your plane.
MR. PAGE: After you've spent months trying to drum up hatred against the media, now you want the media -- or the public to feel sorry for three newspapers kicked off the plane? It's kind of a switched --
MR. BUCHANAN: If John McCain had done it, what would --
MS. CROWLEY: Right.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was it a rookie error? Was it a rookie error?
MR. PAGE: It was an inside baseball story. The voters don't care. They're not going to change their votes because of how the press --
MS. CROWLEY: John, you're asking if it's a rookie --
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: If they give it some thought, they might want to think about it twice.
MR. PAGE: Oh, they don't care, John. They don't care.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Go ahead.
MS. CROWLEY: You just asked if it's a rookie error. I think it's an error of arrogance and hubris. This is a guy who's running on his ability to unify and bring everybody together, and he's going to work with the Republicans once he's in office? Well, I mean, he can't even work with newspapers who disagree with him and are supporting the other side. How long is he going to reach out --
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think Obama is going to run it on the basis of shutting out people? MS. CLIFT: Obama has --
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is he going to run the White House press bureau that way?
MS. CLIFT: Obama has run a superb campaign that has reached out, and he's not going to make the mistake the Republicans made when they were in charge for eight years. If we're talking about media accessibility here, I don't think George W. Bush did a whole lot during his campaign.
MS. CROWLEY: Can we bring out two other examples here --
MS. CLIFT: Excuse me. And look at all -- excuse me. And look at all the people who were purged from covering the White House during the Bush administration, including Eleanor Clift with Newsweek and Maureen Dowd of The New York Times, whose credentials were suspended.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, but I think those were personally -- and Joe Klein too -- they are excluded.
MS. CLIFT: Right.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: But these are newspapers. These are --
MR. BUCHANAN: It is selective judgment, John. You're exactly right -- selective punishment, taking away the newspaper's seat. It's not just the reporters. Sometimes people say, "Look, that was a rotten job that reporter did; put him on the zoo plane." Okay? And this one is collective punishment for the newspapers.
MS. CLIFT: Well, maybe they --
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is Obama going to use the White House to settle his claim?
MR. BUCHANAN: He is showing us exactly what they're going to do to the White House press corps.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Settle old scores. Is that what he's going to do?
MS. CLIFT: Explain what the zoo plane is.
MR. BUCHANAN: It's the third plane. (Laughs.)
MS. CLIFT: It's a subsidiary plane. And I'm sure that they can have seats on that plane, along with a lot of other publications.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really? You mean after the election is over?
MS. CLIFT: A lot of publications -- look, even if -- DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean, shut out the offensive newspapers and just get them out of the picture?
MS. CROWLEY: Right.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that what they want to do?
MS. CLIFT: No, no. Put them on the second or third plane.
MS. CROWLEY: We're moving --
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, but this is going to endure. He's already told the decision is final and it will endure through the election.
MS. CLIFT: And if --
MR. PAGE: This reminds me of when JFK canceled his Washington Post subscription. I mean, who cares?
MR. BUCHANAN: Herald-Tribune.
MR. PAGE: I'm sorry?
MR. BUCHANAN: Herald-Tribune.
MR. PAGE: Herald-Tribune. That's right. I mean, who cares?
MS. CROWLEY: We're missing a really big point.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, hold on. Hold on, please.
MS. CROWLEY: We're missing a really big point. The executive editor of the Washington Times also went to point out a very clear distinction, that the editorial page that endorsed John McCain is different from the news department. What Barack Obama did here is exclude the news reporters that have been following him for almost two years now at great expense to these newspapers.
Listen, you've had the press piling on Joe the Plumber, a private citizen who asked an innocent question --
MR. PAGE: Not anymore, he's not.
MS. CROWLEY: -- of the presidential candidate. You have the Democratic operation in the state of Ohio going through his divorce records, past records, and so on --
MS. CLIFT: Excuse me --
MR. PAGE: He's got a lien against his house, right?
MS. CROWLEY: -- and making a point about the press being used on behalf of Barack Obama. MR. BUCHANAN: They are.
MS. CROWLEY: And now we have the Obama team themselves using the press as a weapon.
MS. CLIFT: Okay, Monica just made up in verbiage for everything that was cut off from the publications covering the Obama campaign in what she just -- her statement.
MS. CROWLEY: All true.
MS. CLIFT: Secondly, Joe the Plumber --
MS. CROWLEY: All true. Point out where I'm wrong, Eleanor. I laid out a series of facts.
MS. CLIFT: Here's where you're wrong.
Joe the Plumber has a publicist and an advance person now, and he is exploiting the situation --
MS. CROWLEY: He didn't --
MS. CLIFT: -- as only in America one can do.
MR. BUCHANAN: Eleanor, after you guys went after him -- he needs a lawyer after you went after him.
MR. PAGE: Poor Joe. Poor Joe.
MS. CLIFT: He's not a victim. He's not a victim.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Excuse me. Excuse me --
MS. CLIFT: Neither are you, and neither are the Republican newspapers.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Despite Obama's good polling numbers, there are hurdles for him to clear. The first hurdle is, of course, the numbers.
First, polling. It's not science. It's art. Harry Truman versus Thomas Dewey, 1948, proved it. Going into the race, Dewey was ahead by five points. Then the Truman surprise. He defeated Dewey by 4.5 points.
Second, Democrats' 65-year losing streak. In the past 65 years, Democrats have sought the presidency 16 times. Of those 16 times, the number of Democrats who have won the popular vote is two -- Lyndon Johnson against Barry Goldwater in '64; Jimmy Carter against Jerry Ford in '76.
The two out of 16 make the odds against Democrats winning awesome, eight to one. So whom do the Democrats put to break the losing streak? Answer: The number one liberal in the United States Senate, a black American whose middle name is Hussein.
Third, LIVs -- low-information voters. Seventy-five million strong, LIVs show up at the polls but are uninformed on the issues, with little taste for politics, whether in newspapers, TV, radio, the Net or conversations. Question: Which of these hurdles -- the expulsion of reporters, the Democratic losing streak, odds of eight to one, or the LIV -- which one is the most difficult for Obama to clear? I ask you, Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: The hurdle that he has to clear is the still significant number of undecided voters out there. And if they haven't decided by now -- I'm not sure how many they are and I'm not sure they're really undecided. I think you have to say that they're going to break for McCain. He could get 80 percent of those undecided voters.
Depending where they are, he could win some of these states that are now tossups. I still don't see it changing the outcome of the election, but I do think that is one of the "x" factors out there, along with the size of the electorate and the kind of turnout that we get.
MR. BUCHANAN: The biggest remaining hurdle, John, is there remains in the minds of the American people -- and you see it because of the gradual move away from Obama slowly toward McCain -- is the question marks over Obama. He is new. The Republicans made a good case that this guy may not be in the mainstream economically or socially or culturally. But it's not a big enough question mark. And Barack Obama removed many, many of those doubts in the three debates.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's his biggest hurdle, Clarence?
MR. PAGE: Well, I think Eleanor's right about those undecideds out there. This is where you're going to hear talk about the Bradley effect, whether it exists or not.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's that?
MR. PAGE: The Bradley effect, of course, is called that because Tom Bradley got fewer votes than the polling indicated and he lost.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Twenty-six years ago. Surely we've moved beyond that and it's some of its impact.
MR. PAGE: Well, yeah. That's why the debate continues about the Bradley effect. But the place where you see it is not in people lying to pollsters. It's people who don't answer the pollsters. In other words, they say they're undecided or they don't answer at all, but they do vote. And when they vote, you see this hidden vote that was not measured before. And that's where you're going to see, I think, Eleanor's right, as much as 80 percent of those undecideds could go to McCain, because he's just more familiar or he's white or whatever reason.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Given the divergent results pollsters are reporting this year, which poll is the most credible? Name a poll people can trust. Pat Buchanan. MR. BUCHANAN: Real Clear Politics average polls. It puts Obama ahead six or seven. It averages all of these polls you mentioned, some outlyers --
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, that's not a poll. That's an average of polls. I want to know what poll.
MR. PAGE: It's a poll of polls.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What kind of garbage is that?
MR. BUCHANAN: Take Newsweek poll and cut it in half.
MR. PAGE: He's setting you up, Pat.
MR. BUCHANAN: Newsweek has a 13-point lead. Cut it in half.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it IBD/TIPP?
MS. CLIFT: Yes.
MR. BUCHANAN: No.
MR. PAGE: I knew he was setting you up. I knew it was a set-up. I knew it was coming. (Laughs.)
MR. BUCHANAN: I would go with -- I would take Gallup Traditional and Gallup New and split the difference.
MR. PAGE: Right. I agree.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, quickly.
MS. CLIFT: I'm with Pat on all of that; all the traditional polls. And Newsweek has been doing polling now for quite a long time, and it's a reputable poll. (Laughter.) And so does New York Times and The Washington Post. They're all in the --
MR. BUCHANAN: They've got Obama at 49 states. (Laughs.)
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you running for office?
MS. CLIFT: No, the question is, they measure leads anywhere from -- for Obama anywhere from two points to 13 or 14 points. But you've got to look at state by state. Those are the polls that really matter. The battleground states, that's where the --
MS. CROWLEY: If you're asking for a national poll, the most reliable last time around was the IBD/TIPP poll.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes. MS. CROWLEY: And that shows about a three-point spread right now.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you hear Buchanan? He says Real Clear Politics, which is a fine website, quite reputable.
MS. CROWLEY: He weaseled out. He weaseled.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: They average all the polls. They give you the average, and that's the polls. It's the best poll. (Laughter.)
MR. PAGE: Well, that makes sense, John.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Piece of work.
MR. PAGE: And also 538.com also is like RealClearPolitics.com. They have an average of the polls. They use a little different algorithm. But everybody -- all these polls are good for the sampling they use.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about trigonometry? Does that come into play too, besides --
MR. PAGE: Trigonometry is dead, John, like Latin, I'm sorry to say.
MR. BUCHANAN: It's differential calculus.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: How about the pons asinorum? Is the pons asinorum still around?
MR. BUCHANAN: Differential calculus. The pons asinorum? Yeah, it's right here, John, on this set. (Laughs.)
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Buchanan hit it right on the nose -- Real Clear Politics average of the polls.
Okay, more hurdles.
Fourth, votes are fungible, not saleable. In fact, Americans feel off-put if they think anyone is buying their vote. Obama has set a new all-time record for fund-raising, a total of $605 million in his campaign war chest. That's compared to McCain's $359 million.
During the primaries, McCain and Obama both agreed to public financing. But Obama reversed that pledge when he became the presidential nominee. This week Obama aired a 30-minute infomercial on seven networks during primetime. The total cost: A cool $4 million. Money talks, but what does it say?
Fifth, the company he keeps. One, Reverend Jeremiah Wright.
REV. JEREMIAH WRIGHT: (From videotape.) Not God bless America -- God damn America.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Obama attended Reverend Wright's services at 11:00 a.m. Sunday mornings twice a month, 20 years, almost 500 times. And Wright officiated at Obama's wedding and baptized his children.
Two, Tony Rezko, political fixer, influence-peddler and real estate developer in Chicago. Obama has returned $150,000 in Rezko- tied funds. Rezko is now a convicted felon on multiple counts of bribery and fraud.
Three, Bill Ayers, professor at the University of Chicago, one of the founders and former member of the '60s-era Weather Underground, a left-wing radical organization that bombed the U.S. Capitol and other government buildings. Later Ayers helped launch Obama's political career. Four, Rashid Khalidi, professor of Arab studies at Columbia University, friend of Obama's from Khalidi's teaching days at the University of Chicago; former spokesman for the PLO in the '80s and '90s, when the Palestine Liberation Organization was in militant exchange with Israel's Urgun. Obama's relationship to Khalidi has led some to believe that Obama's support of Israel is questionable, despite his assertion that his commitment to Israel is, quote-unquote, "sacrosanct and non-negotiable."
Six, the so-called Bradley effect.
We've heard about the Bradley effect. Question: What's the impact of Obama's association on the voters in this election? Clarence.
MR. PAGE: Which one has the biggest impact out of all of those or the Bradley effect?
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does any of it?
MR. PAGE: Does any of it? Well, all of it has an impact, but I think that probably Reverend Wright has probably had the most impact. But he's old news too. I mean, it's not like many people haven't heard about Reverend Wright; they've made up their minds.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: How about Khalidi?
MR. PAGE: Khalidi seems to be a bum rap, because, okay, he's somebody that Obama knew, and he openly talks about it. He was a professor there at the same school. But, you know, John McCain was head of a group that gave money to Khalidi, the International Republican --
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: One hundred K?
MR. BUCHANAN: It was with the democracy thing, you know.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was it $100K?
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, yeah --
MR. PAGE: Over $100,000.
MR. BUCHANAN: But, you know, that's that group for the democracy endowment.
MR. PAGE: Right.
MR. BUCHANAN: But, John, the associations of Obama have been the one big albatross and anchor that could have sunk him. The issue has been completely mishandled by Republicans. They've run away from it. They went back to it. They said, "We should do that; maybe we shouldn't." But that could really have dropped him down because of that question mark I mentioned that hung out over Obama for so long. If they had really driven this home, I think they could have made him unacceptable change.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let her in.
MS. CROWLEY: The 2003 tape of Rashid Khalidi's farewell party, where Barack Obama attended along with Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, is being suppressed by the Los Angeles Times. If, in fact, it wasn't a Jew-bashing event and Barack Obama has nothing to hide, then he should clear the air and demand that the Los Angeles Times release this tape. He could make this go away like that.
MR. PAGE: They reported it. They reported it. They're not suppressing anything.
MS. CROWLEY: They did not release -- they did not report a transcript and they did not release --
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, they're not releasing the tape.
MS. CROWLEY: Right. And Obama --
MR. PAGE: They're not releasing the tape, but --
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: The report is they may have constructed the entire article out of the tape and they didn't have any -- and that's not exactly the best practice.
MS. CLIFT: Except for a few Republican diehards who think Obama is a secret Jew-basher, if that's the terminology you're using --
MS. CROWLEY: Well, why doesn't he clear the air and request that the tape be released, Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: These associations --
MS. CROWLEY: Easy. Easy.
MS. CLIFT: -- are being disregarded by the majority of Americans, who see the country facing two wars, a tanking economy, a planet in peril from climate change, and they want somebody to get in there. And I must say, through much of America, Obama is seen as a breath of fresh air. Only on this show, after he's described, do I feel like I have to take a shower.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Laughs.)
MR. BUCHANAN: The press has been covering for Obama. As soon as Obama goes out and makes an explanation, that's it; you can't bring it up again. These associations -- MR. PAGE: Well, that's gratitude.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, I expect --
MR. BUCHANAN: They would have sunk the Republican and they would have sunk a conservative if they were on the other side.
MR. PAGE: We wouldn't know about it if it weren't for the LA Times. We wouldn't know about Rezko if it wasn't for the press. We wouldn't know about these things if the press wasn't reporting them.
MS. CROWLEY: Here is the point. Here is the point.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.
MS. CROWLEY: The point is that this is an overwhelming Democratic year. John McCain has been pushing a millstone up the hill this whole time. The question is, why isn't Barack Obama more than three points ahead? And the reason is because people fear, based on all these associations -- we have yet to see a normal friend -- that perhaps he might be a closet radical. When he talks about spreading the wealth around, is he a closet socialist? People have --
MR. PAGE: Well, give yourself credit. Give yourself credit now.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is --
MR. PAGE: Keep those numbers down for Obama.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor's got to remember --
MR. PAGE: He's answered the questions. With all the negative campaigning -- (inaudible) -- Fox News every night.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: The press, in the bulk, is in the tank for Obama. That's why we're giving him the examination we are. And I think I'm going to get a letter of gratitude. You know why? Because I would want these things aired and get them cleared away, as we've done here.
Yes or no --
MR. BUCHANAN: You will not be riding on Obama's plane, I guarantee you. (Laughter.)
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three: United We Fall, Divided We Stand.
If Barack Obama does win the presidency, it means total Democratic rule -- a Democratic White House, a Democratic Senate and a Democratic House of Representatives. Government unification -- good public policy? The scholars say no. Good public policy flows far more out of a disunified government than a unified government. A disunified government would mean Republican John McCain wins and the Senate and House stay Democratic. If Obama wins, it is bad for public policy.
JONATHAN RAUCH (National Journal): (From audiotape.) You would get unified government, which you had in the middle four years of the Bush administration, with, I think, bad results from the electorate's point of view, and what you had in the first two years of the Clinton administration, again, with bad results from the voters' point of view.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: The policies referred to are, respectively, health reform and Social Security reform. So argues Jonathan Rauch of the National Journal. Most major legislative actions in America history were passed under a two-party rule; notably the welfare reform of the 1990s and the tax reform of the 1980s. There's also the problems of blame.
MR. RAUCH: (From audiotape.) There's a real risk that the Democrats would be setting themselves up for kind of owning all the nation's problems while the Republicans get to walk away. So they might want to be careful what they wish for here.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: There's also the problem of unchecked liberalism. If Democrats gain control, they will need essentially every vote in their party to get anything passed in Congress, which means running the country from the left, with a national population that is fundamentally right of center.
Is this wisdom or is it falderal? Pat.
MR. BUCHANAN: It's falderal, John.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why?
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, first off, say, Jack Kennedy got through the great tax cut of Kennedy with a unified government, whereas Reagan had a divided government. Lyndon Johnson's Civil Rights Act was a unified government; New Deal, unified command; Medicare, unified government; Social Security, unified government.
Divided government has done good things; I think Taft-Hartley, 1947, I believe, over Truman's veto, excellent legislation. You can have good government both ways, John. Frankly, I do believe in government responsibility and accountability. So if Barack Obama wins, maybe they ought to have the right to run the thing the way they want to, and then we can pass judgment on them --
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, the idea is that if it's all Democratic, Republicans on the Hill are going to sit a lot of things out, you know.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah. But, look, I can't match with his historical memory; few people can.
MR. PAGE: Are you saying Pat's old now?
MS. CLIFT: No, I'm not saying -- he's well-schooled. Those Jesuits did a good job.
But, look, disunified government has basically led to paralysis and gridlock and a lot of anger in the country. Rightly or wrongly, they're blaming the fact that Congress can't get anything done. And I think for everything there is a season, and I think that this is a time for the Democrats to show what they can do. If they screw up like the Republicans did when they had the majority, they'll pay the price. But I think there are significant problems that need to be addressed, and it's a good thing that one party has a commanding governing majority. MS. CROWLEY: The opposite political argument to that, though, is when a lot of voters take a look at their choices on the ballot, they're going to ask themselves, "Do I really want this liberal trifecta of Obama in the White House and these rampaging, huge Democratic majorities in the Congress?"
MS. CLIFT: "Rampaging, huge." My goodness. (Laughter.)
MS. CROWLEY: You've got 250 --
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: The elephants are coming. (Laughter.)
MS. CROWLEY: Two hundred and fifty Dems in the House --
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Go ahead, quickly.
MS. CROWLEY: Two hundred and fifty Dems in the House, maybe 60 Dems in the Senate. Yeah, they will be rampaging, and especially if they've got a Democratic president. So I think the political argument here is -- and there are a lot of split-ticket voters in this country who say, "Okay, I'll go for a Republican president, Democrats for Congress," or vice versa. And so we may not see the kinds of huge Democratic majorities in the Congress that people are anticipating.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is voter preference -- is voter preference for a divided government deep-seated?
MR. PAGE: It's not something that turns elections, really, although I think some very good points have been raised by everybody. Say you get a President Obama; he's going to have two years to prove himself and not, well, screw up in the sense that the Clintons did in their first couple of years, which resulted in losing Congress.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do voters see it, contrary to Buchanan, as a check and a balance on the government?
MR. PAGE: Well, people understand that concept. But does it turn elections? I think --
MR. BUCHANAN: They want a check and a balance.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that what they see in a divided government?
MR. BUCHANAN: They want -- I agree with Eleanor. I think the country sort of now wants, "Look, get somebody up there; get it done," just like FDR. "If he makes a mistake, we can throw them all out." But you've got to give him a mandate.
MS. CLIFT: And I don't think people vote on the basis of divided government. A vote for president is a very personal thing. It's really a projection of how you see yourself, how you see the country. DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Forced prediction: Who will win the election on Tuesday?
MR. BUCHANAN: The undecideds will decide this weekend. (Laughter.)
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is that?
MS. CLIFT: Obama-Biden, Eleanor Clift. (Laughter.)
MS. CROWLEY: Pat Buchanan gave a totally weasely answer right there.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)
MS. CROWLEY: John McCain by half a point.
MR. PAGE: It'll be too close to call. Supreme Court will decide, and Scalia will win. (Laughter.)
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Too close to call. It really is too close to call.
Happy Halloween. Bye-bye.