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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: Free Willie.

WILLIAM REHNQUIST (chief justice, United States Supreme Court): (From various videotape segments.) Senators, how say you? Is the respondent, William Jefferson Clinton, guilty or not guilty?

On this article of impeachment, 45 senators having pronounced William Jefferson Clinton, president of the United States, guilty as charged, 55 senators having pronounced him not guilty --

On this article of impeachment, 50 senators have pronounced William Jefferson Clinton, president of the United States, guilty as charged; 50 senators have pronounced him not guilty.

Our work as a court of impeachment is now done.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: With those simple words, the chief justice of the United States declared an end to the 21-day-long, first-ever in our 223-year history Senate trial of an elected and impeached president.

On Article I, perjury, not a single Democrat voted to convict -- straight-line, yellow-dog, bloc partisan voting. For the Republicans, it was a different story -- 10 defectors, almost 20 percent: Chafee, Collins, Gorton, Jeffords, Shelby, Snowe, Specter, Stevens, Thompson, and Warner.

On Article II, obstruction, again, not a single Democrat strayed from the party line -- straight partisan voting. For the Republicans, again, a different story -- five Republican defectors, almost 10 percent: Chafee, Collins, Jeffords, Snowe, and Specter.

At mid-afternoon Friday from the Rose Garden, President Clinton shared these thoughts with the nation.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: (From videotape.) I want to say again to the American people how profoundly sorry I am for what I said and did to trigger these events and the great burden they have imposed on the Congress and on the American people. This can be, and this must be, a time of reconciliation and renewal for America.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Will President Clinton get the reconciliation that he is asking for? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, Lent is upon us. And you are familiar with the Truce of God and the Peace of God in the Middle Ages, a brief period when the fighting stopped. I do think there is going to be a temporary respite from the horrible and rancorous atmosphere in town. I think both sides want it. People are exhausted by all of the bitterness and rancor; and so I think for a short period of time. But the problem is there are deep underlying differences with Bill Clinton, and so it is going to come back.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that a "res-pite"? Is a "res-pite" the same as a "res-pite"?

MR. BUCHANAN: A "res-pite" would be the same thing, John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: As -- (inaudible) -- okay.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- unless it's wrongly pronounced. (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: He struck the right tone, and it was blessedly brief.

I think the Republicans need to change the subject real bad. (Laughter.) And so I think there may be an opportunity here for the Republicans to redefine their image away from impeachment and other issues.

MR. BUCHANAN: A little recriminations -- (inaudible)? (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: But more important, I want to say Clinton got his reconciliation with history --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think, Tony?

MS. CLIFT: -- Republicans didn't even get a simple majority.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony, can we trust and believe Bill Clinton on this one?

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, no, we can't trust and believe him. But he does have it within his power, should he be speaking the truth. I think the Republicans are eager to have a reconciliation and work together because they have been dreadfully hurt by this process. But I doubt that he in fact was sincere in his confession.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence O'Donnell, how do you feel about this?

MR. O'DONNELL: Well, both sides are going to drop the subject. That's for sure. And that is the only hope that reconciliation has, is that Republicans have absolutely no incentive to keep talking about this. Democrats certainly don't. The censure resolution is dead. There will be a little action on it, when they come back, on the first day. It will end being something they just put in the Congressional Record, and that's the end of it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Reconciliation? Wait a minute.

JIM NICHOLSON (Republican National Committee chair): (From videotape.) Six years into his presidency, Bill Clinton has finally decided on a legacy. But it's not retirement security, it's not tax relief for working Americans, and it's not better schools. It's revenge; the legacy of revenge, the legacy of vengeance.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: "Clinton has vowed to mount an all-out offensive to knock off many of his foes and win back the House of Representatives for Democrats in 2000," so reports the New York Times this week.

Clinton views retaking the House as crucial to his legacy. His main targets: House managers weakened by their failed attempt to convict Clinton.

Clinton adviser James Carville says: "I am not on the forgive-and-forget battalion. It ain't over till it's over. That's number one. And number two, it will never be over. I have some unfinished business in this one." (Laughter.)

Question: Do you have reason to believe, in light of the heavy reporting all week on Clinton's post-acquittal politics of vengeance, that Bill Clinton's Rose Garden sound bite is far from being the Real McCoy? Eleanor Clift.

MS. CLIFT: Commander Cue Ball's troops are lining up. Look, this is politics; it's about winning and losing. The president would like, as any Democrat, would like to recapture control of the Congress in 2000. You're going to have Al Gore and Dick Gephardt running a very unified campaign, and Clinton's going to be raising a lot of money. But he's not going to go into Henry Hyde's district or Lindsey Graham's district. Those are safe Republican districts. They're not gettable.


MR. BLANKLEY: Well, I think the president's probably recognized that his legacy is going to be in strengthening the Democratic Party, not in solving Social Security. Therefore, it's going to be, from his point of view and his interest, to destroy as best he can the Republican Party. The centerpiece of that will be revenge, man by man, district by district, which Republicans, certainly some of the party professionals, are beginning to brace for.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are Democrats in the mood for political revenge?

MR. O'DONNELL: Well, they are in the mood for political advantage. They hate being a minority party. They will use any vote that they can use against any senator or any congressman to win back the majority. There were some incredible Republican "profile in courage" votes in the Senate. There were 10 Republican senators who voted to convict who should not have. Rick Santorum's seat is in grave danger, for example, because of that vote. These votes were incredible, and the Democrats should exploit them.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is there a lesson from history that the Republicans failed to observe, Patrick?

MR. BUCHANAN: No, no. Look.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can I tell you what this is, Pat, before you move on to your own message?

MR. BUCHANAN: The lesson --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can I tell you what this is?

MR. BUCHANAN: The lesson from history is FDR in 1938 running around trying to purge people and failing miserably. This is the stupidest thing Clinton people could have done.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'll tell you what the lesson is, Patrick. "United we stand, divided we fall." When the Republicans repudiated the House, in their coarse and unthinking manner, that is what caused the party to be where it is today.

MR. BUCHANAN: I disagree with you. I think this. I think the --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: These Democrats, to their credit, Pat, they hung together in a bondage that should give the Republicans -- fill the Republicans with both fear and shame.

MR. BUCHANAN: Look, look. The Republicans --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Your Republicans.

MR. BUCHANAN: The Republican House members covered themselves, I think, especially managers --


MR. BUCHANAN: -- with honor.


MR. BUCHANAN: And they're the one guys who can look back on this and say, "We did the honorable thing." Do you think those Democrats are going to tell their grandchildren, "I voted to let him go"?

MS. CLIFT: Yeah. The Republican managers pushed a case that was bogus from the beginning. There should have been a vote of censure in the House and be done with it. And look at the defectors, the Republican defectors in the Senate. Northeastern Republicans. That's the aspect of the party that's still in touch with the people. And two of the three female Republican senators voted against removing this president.

MR. BLANKLEY: Stevens of Alaska, Thompson of Illinois (sic). It wasn't just the Northeast, unfortunately.

MR. O'DONNELL: It was a pretty strong vindication for the House managers that one-half of the United States Senate said this president should be removed.


MR. BUCHANAN: Should be removed.

MR. O'DONNELL: How much more vindication can you want when two-thirds of the public says he shouldn't be.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well -- well, what we're pointing out here is the Senate cut off the House managers at their knees.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, if the Senate clearly --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They did not -- they were not united.

MR. BUCHANAN: That's -- look, the Senate clearly put on a sham trial. As Tony's been saying, there are more issues in their exit strategy than anything else from the beginning.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We're going to get into that in a minute. I want to get out with this: 70 million people dislike Clinton. They would love to have seen him removed from office. At least 40 million of those 70 not only dislike Clinton, they viscerally detest him. Will those 70 million people, the dislikers, the detestors, dislike Clinton the more or the less because he was acquitted? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, the old -- the real Clinton haters are probably very, very bitter. But most Americans, even those who think he was guilty and those who think he was innocent, are glad it's behind us now. It's over. We got a decision, it's done.


MS. CLIFT: You know, the Clinton haters are going to keep rummaging through Clinton's private life and it's going to keep a lot of talk shows going, but the American people, their voices have been heard. This kind of behavior is not disqualifying if you're doing a good job, and they're putting it in perspective in a way that we in the media have not been able to do.

MR. BLANKLEY: These -- okay, look. These people aren't Clinton haters; they're lovers of certain standards and values.

MS. CLIFT: Oh, come on.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well stated.

MR. BLANKLEY: And Clinton happens to personify the violation of those standards and they are rightfully outraged by the non-vindication of their values in the recent Senate proceedings.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but the rest of us are lovers of values, too --

MR. BUCHANAN: Of different ones --

MS. CLIFT: -- the values that this president stands for --

MR. BLANKLEY: Which are what?


MS. CLIFT: -- which is governing in the center, anti-gun, anti-tobacco, pro-education. I can go down the list if you'd like. That's what's keeping him in office, that's what's keeping his polls up.

MR. BLANKLEY: As opposed to honesty and integrity.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, we all hang together.

MS. CLIFT: Honesty and integrity where it counts, in public policy.

MR. BUCHANAN: Or we shall all hang separately. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Or we shall all hang separately.

MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tell that to your troops. Well, Lawrence, what's the answer to my question?

MR. O'DONNELL: Haters, by definition, are not changeable minds.

MS. CLIFT: Good --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, is it going to aggravate their hate? Is it going to relieve it? Is it going -- (inaudible word) -- the same?

MR. O'DONNELL: They can't hate him any more and nothing can make them hate him less.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think that the acquittal is going to make them hate him the more because he wiggled out of it again.

When we come back, break out the bongos.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two: Break out the bongos. Clinton is victorious. He has been acquitted by the Senate, but does he dare gloat? White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart has promised that there will be no victorious crowing, no Mardi Gras, no beating of the bongos.

JOE LOCKHART (White House press secretary): (From videotape.) I now declare, in a post impeachment era, this a "gloat-free zone."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But that promise may be impossible for Mr. Clinton to keep. Listen to what Tom DeFrank, Washington bureau chief for the New York Daily News, reports this week about Clinton gloating:

"This was much ado about nothing," the president said to an old pal, dismissing the impeachment and trial as a partisan cabal. "I beat the odds," Clinton told well-wishers. Clinton lacks remorse, say old friends and intimates. Privately, they say Clinton still doesn't get it. "It's a lot easier for him to focus on his outrage at Republicans for putting him through this for a year than his own behavior." "There's no contrition for what's done; that's all just an act. He's only sorry he got caught." He's in total denial. "The president was angry and morose after being impeached by the House in December. However, Clinton's mood has changed dramatically as it became clear that he was going to be acquitted," says a friend. "Now he is up, way up." And that may mean an irresistible temptation to gloat.

Question: Which is closer to Clinton's true feelings: The bongo drum revelry or the Rose Garden repentance?

I ask you, Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: I don't know. But he'd have to be inhuman not to feel like wanting to play the bongos right now. This has been a huge political triumph for him. He has avoided the bullet. And I understand, I mean, to have to pretend to not be happy is a difficult job.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is he not entitled to a little gloat? He vanquished your former boss -- vanquished him!

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, I wouldn't --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Then he vanquished his successor, Livingston.

MR. BLANKLEY: No, I wouldn't quite say that. In fact, Newt beat him three times in congressional elections, which is where it counts. But yeah, I think he is entitled to gloat a little bit.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, I think that the president's probably full of a lot of feelings. One is probably -- it's valid what he said there; he blames himself somewhat. I'll bet he's tremendously enraged at these Republicans. He is delighted he's got his victory. It's a combination of all of these, is my guess, and one or another comes out to his aides and then they run out and tell reporters, and that becomes the whole man in the news story.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What lesson has Clinton learned from this year of living recklessly?

MR. BUCHANAN: From this year he has learned that if you stick to it and fight, and fight, and fight, and resist and stonewall, eventually you can win.


MR. BUCHANAN: You can win! It works! (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're absolutely right! What he has learned is tenacity pays off!

MR. O'DONNELL: Stonewalling works.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Stonewalling works.

MR. O'DONNELL: That's been the lesson of every Clinton scandal. They've stonewalled them all.

Tom DeFrank's piece in the Daily News really was the definitive piece of the week. And I talked to him about it. He said that he talked -- the people he's quoting are people who talked directly to the president. They are long-time friends of the president. They are unanimous in their view that he is --

MR. BUCHANAN: Compare him --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: "I beat the odds." What do you think of that?

MR. O'DONNELL: He did beat the odds. The odds are, you get impeached for this kind of thing. He beat the odds.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, compare him to Nixon.

MS. CLIFT: Listen, the personal --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It was much ado about nothing. What do you think of that?

MR. O'DONNELL: That's demented.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That really is --

MS. CLIFT: The personal --

MR. BUCHANAN: Compare --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you hear that word? The word was "demented," Eleanor --

MR. BLANKLEY: It's deranged, not demented.

MS. CLIFT: Well, that's not true. The personal remorse that he felt was -- extends to his family. And I think they are still dealing with that, and that hit him many months ago. It is now a political fight. It has been a political fight for months. He's there, she's there, and their hatred for their enemies always outweighs whatever personal difficulties they have.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, but compare --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you hear that? That's an interesting insight.

MR. BUCHANAN: Compare how he came through--

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah. Well, hatred is often a more powerful sentiment than love.


MS. CLIFT: Oh, you Clinton-haters ought to know that!

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, wait a minute now. Are you endorsing hatred on this set? This is a family program.

MR. BLANKLEY: No, no, I'm recognizing the grim reality of it all.

MR. BUCHANAN: Compare how he came through this to what happened to Clinton (sic) -- I mean happened to Nixon -- the sense of shame and remorse that overwhelmed Nixon. I mean, this guy is right -- I mean, this guy is exactly -- he won the ball game. It's the Denver locker room.

MS. CLIFT: But Nixon committed real crimes --

MR. BLANKLEY: So did Clinton. So did Clinton.

MS. CLIFT: -- oh, come on -- that aroused both --

MR. BUCHANAN: These are --

MR. BLANKLEY: Eighty-four percent of the public thinks Clinton committed the same crimes.


MS. CLIFT: Wait a second. What Clinton did did not command bipartisan objection in the Congress, and it did not command bipartisan support in the country.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think, Pat --

MR. BUCHANAN: Republicans have higher standards.

MS. CLIFT: It was illegitimate as an impeachment effort.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think we are entering the new millennium as a banana republic -- it's power, not law?

MR. BUCHANAN: We're going to be led across the bridge into the 21st century by a perjurer president.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: By a felon! By a felon!

MS. CLIFT: Nobody proved --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Doesn't that make you feel good, Pat?

MS. CLIFT: He's not a felon.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You better get out there and do your thing! (Laughter.)

Exit: What are the odds that Clinton will maintain good conduct for the next 22 months --

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- as opposed to another outbreak of reckless deceit, Pat Buchanan?

MR. BUCHANAN: No way! (Laughs.) Look, he's going to --


MR. BUCHANAN: He will come battling back and be his old self after this period of remorse, after the peace of God is over, after Lent is done.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're allowing him a period of remorse?

MR. BUCHANAN: Forty days -- (off mike) --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't think that this was just a concoction right out of central casting today, in the Rose Garden?

MR. BUCHANAN: It was out of central casting, but it also reflects part of what he feels.


MS. CLIFT: I think he's going to be a good president for the next two years, as he has been for six years. He may --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That wasn't the question, Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I don't care what he does in his private life.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is he going to stay out of trouble, Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: I'm not going to be looking around his private life, and neither is Ken Starr.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, private life. Yeah. We're going to go through this.

MS. CLIFT: That's right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Think -- she thinks we're going through that debate again, you know -- (laughter) -- like in the Rose Garden, the last time he was there, or almost the last time, when he had all his Cabinet, and he says, "Okay, go out and defend me."

What about you?

MR. BLANKLEY: I think the question isn't whether he's going to do bad things; the question is whether it's going to be revealed to the public. And I think that there's a reasonable chance he can get through the next 22 months without a scandal breaking on him of new conduct. I'm still not convinced that all the old conduct isn't going to come back to bite him a little bit.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can he maintain good conduct for 22 months?

MR. O'DONNELL: There's no evidence that he's ever done it before in his life. (Laughter.) But the question is, as Tony put it, will he get caught again? And I guess you have to bet against that.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is no, he cannot. He is compulsive.

Issue three: Phoney exit.

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R-PA): (From videotape.) I believe that there has been a pseudotrial, really a sham trial. I think that the composite result here is that there has not been a trial.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That was the conclusion reached by Senator Arlen Specter on the impeachment ordeal of William Jefferson Clinton. Why? Because justice was mocked; so no finality, no closure, only a phony exit.

SEN. SPECTER: (From videotape.) The senators individually, and the Senate collectively, took an oath to do impartial justice. My view is that the Senate has done partial justice. So on what is really a double entendre; first, that impartial justice was not done for the House prosecutors, who really has one hand tied behind their back, and that only partial justice was done in the sense that only part of the evidence was heard.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The articles of impeachment," says Specter, "could not be proven because there never was a trial."

SEN. SPECTER: (From videotape.) The Senate declined to hear any live witnesses, which is the essence of a trial. The Constitution is explicit that the Senate has an obligation to conduct a trial. It talks about verdicts and about trying cases. And there were only three depositions taken in the case so that only part of the case was in fact heard.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Finally, this so-called trial was doomed from the start.

SEN. SPECTER: (From videotape.) The Senate proceeded under a cloud on the entire proceeding, with the presumption that there would not be two-thirds votes to convict and, therefore, "Why should there be a trial at all?"

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question, will the phony finish to this impeachment process, Lawrence, end the nation's year-long Sartrian hell; or, in other words, since the trial was "phony," no closure, "No exit," and it goes on?

MR. O'DONNELL: This, John, is closure. And it was not a trial in any courtroom sense. It was never by the Founding Fathers, intended to be. A Senate trial is not to be compared with any other kind of trial in our courts.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You heard the reasoning of the senator.

MR. O'DONNELL: The senator is wrong. He is a former prosecutor who is utterly wrong.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That the Constitution talks about verdict. It talks about a trial.

MR. O'DONNELL: It gives the Senate complete authority to run it any way it wants.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know what you're saying? You're saying that the Founding Fathers messed up.

MR. O'DONNELL: No! They --

(Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What has happened here is that this -- what we have just seen has fallen between two stools: the stool of law and the stool of politics.

MR. O'DONNELL: That's what they designed, and they designed it to be --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They didn't design it for failure!

MR. O'DONNELL: They did. They designed it to be a political trial that hangs simply on the question of is this a high crime or misdemeanor?

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, and actually --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you want to take this up? Hold on.

MR. BUCHANAN: Look, it was a sham and a farce of a trial, and Senator Specter is right, but our friend over here is right that the senators have a right to conduct a sham trial, which is what they did.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What are you talking about! They can't conduct a sham trial!

MR. BUCHANAN: They just did!

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I know they did, they de facto did, but they can't de jure do that. We have a Constitution!

MR. BLANKLEY: Wait, wait, wait --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you say about this? Will you straighten him out? And he wants to be president, for God's sake! (Laughter.)

MR. BLANKLEY: I will straighten him out, and I may vote for him, if he runs, but look -- it's fatuous when Gerry Ford said that impeachment is whatever Congress says it is. It's fatuous when people say that the Constitution is whatever the Supreme Court says. All that means is you can't appeal it. The fact is, the Constitution and our history tells us objectively with some vagueness what it is and this was not a trial by the Constitution.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, you know --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that the Founding Fathers would have vomited, seeing this? At pretending that this is a trial?

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, they had remarkable self-control, but I think that they would have found this offensive and in violation of what they --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Of what they had in mind. You are absolutely right

MR. BLANKLEY: They used the word trial. They will try --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And it will give us no closure! No closure!

MS. CLIFT: If you and the 30 percent of the Clinton haters next want to take on the Founding Fathers, have at it. That's going to be a very unpopular cause. The person who is wrong here is Senator Specter. What a mealy-mouthed vote he cast. Not proved, as any lawyer knows, means not guilty. That's the way the law works.

MR. BLANKLEY: Eleanor, you're right. You're right!

MS. CLIFT: And he -- right. And he still hasn't gotten over into the Hill --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're right in the sense that --

(Cross talk.)

MR. BLANKLEY: It was a mealy-mouthed -- it was a mealy-mouthed --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- he was an artful dodger, there's no question.

MR. BUCHANAN: His vote was wrong.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But -- what?

MR. BUCHANAN: His vote was wrong.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: His vote was wrong, but nevertheless his reasoning was clear, it was tough, he stated it in a way that everybody could understand, and it was totally --

MR. BUCHANAN: And you and I agree with --

(Cross talk.)

MS. CLIFT: Yeah. If you live in Scotland, it makes (inaudible word) sense.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to point something out to you, young lady. I want to point something out to you. I am not a Clinton hater. What I believe is that this democracy stands for values and ideals, and this Clinton Senate has corrupted them.

MS. CLIFT: And I think the senators who voted not guilty stand for values and ideals as well.

MR. BUCHANAN: Do you really think they're proud of -- those Democrats are going home tonight saying, We did the noble, honorable thing letting this character loose? (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Not one defection. Not one. It's overwhelming proof.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah. They are going to have a fine time with that boast.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions.


MR. BUCHANAN: A big Chinese missile buildup opposite Taiwan. Confrontation with the U.S.


MS. CLIFT: Pat Buchanan is going to decide whether he runs for president by March 1. And my guess, it's a go! (Laughs.)


MR. BLANKLEY: Republicans are going to combine Clinton's targeted tax cuts with an across-the-board tax cut.

MR. O'DONNELL: Hillary Clinton will try to spin the talk of her Senate candidacy into talk of vice presidential candidacy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat Buchanan will occupy his McLaughlin Group chair for not more than one month, and then he will hear the distant call of "Hail to the Chief" and "President Patrick J. Buchanan"! (Laughter.)

MR. BUCHANAN: Distant drummer. (Laughter.)




MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue four: Party of shame.

WILLIAM BENNETT (Author): (From videotape) There's great danger for the Democrats in what they're about to do. There's great danger in it because there's great shame in it.

In the short run, I suppose they may get something of a standing ovation from the public. But, you know, when you sweep something like this under the rug, it has a way of not going away. You may not see it, but you may smell it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The fetid smell that Bill Bennett is talking about is how public opinion will shift from support for the Democratic acquittal of Clinton to revulsion. The conventional wisdom is that Republicans will take the hit for the 2000 election. But Bennett's views are bolstered by polls. Eighty-four percent of the public think the president is guilty as charged. That guilty poll could readily shift into what Bennett calls "the great shame of the Democratic Party."

Question: Is Bennett right, are the Democrats the party of shame?

I ask you, Democrat Lawrence O'Donnell.

MR. O'DONNELL: Absolutely not. They did what two-thirds of the public had been begging them to do for a year. You do not get harmed in politics by doing what the public wants.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence, you know, I think we've talked about this before -- (laughter) --

MR. O'DONNELL: I think we have, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and I don't know why this is not penetrating that rind around your cortex. This is 22 months -- well, less than that -- from the election -- whatever it is, 18 or 20 months. And public opinion will shift because, I think you believe this, a lot of this guilt and this nausea is going to move not against the Republicans and the Democrats, but against Clinton.

MR. O'DONNELL: I agree with that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You do agree with that?

MR. O'DONNELL: Because Republicans have been protecting him, in a sense, in the polls, and when they feel now that they don't have to protect him --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And then they're going to realize that there was not single one of those pusillanimous Democratic senators who would vote for evidence and law, but they were protecting their own selfish party and personal political interests.

I ask you?

MR. BLANKLEY: Look -- look. I hope and wish that you and Bennett are right.

But for a year and a half, we have been talking about Clinton's comeuppance with the public. And so far, it hasn't happened, and I don't know that it ever will.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah. You put those pusillanimous Democrats up against a Bill Bennett, acting like he is the moral arbiter of the nation -- and I thought Jerry Falwell's timing was perfect this week, coming out and complaining that the Teletubbies were a gay symbol. (Laughter.)


MS. CLIFT: Really?

MR. BLANKLEY: -- (inaudible) -- to Tinky Winky. (Laughter.)

MS. CLIFT: Right. Exactly. It's really --

MR. BLANKLEY: I thought that --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You have one?

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah. My daughter has one. And my --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And what do you do when you press the tummy?

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, nothing happens. So I think I --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But I thought they say something?

MR. BLANKLEY: No, not the ones I know.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do they say, "Hug me; hug me"?

MS. CLIFT: (Inaudible.)


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think of all this? Isn't it possible that -- they could emerge as the Party of Shame --

MR. BUCHANAN: I don't think --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and they will suffer more of a hit in the year 2000 elections?

MR. BUCHANAN: No. I think -- well, politically, they won't. But I think in their own consciences, many of these Democrats know he is guilty.