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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN PANELISTS: PATRICK BUCHANAN, MSNBC; ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK; MONICA CROWLEY, SYNDICATED RADIO COMMENTATOR; MORT ZUCKERMAN, U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT TIME: 11:30 A.M. EDT BROADCAST DATE: MAY 31, 2009

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DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: The endless debate.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: (From videotape.) I do not suggest that the debate surrounding abortion can or should go away.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Smart move, Mr. President. The abortion debate is moving. Public opinion changes. Medical science advances. Every year, the Gallup organization publishes a poll called "Values and Beliefs of the American People." The survey asks whether the respondents see themselves as pro-life or pro-choice. Today, 51 percent see themselves as pro-life; a year ago it was 44 percent.

On the pro-choice scale, today, 42 percent see themselves as pro- choice; a year ago it was 50 percent pro-choice. So in one year, the polling on the abortion issue has turned upside-down. Pro-lifers are in the ascendancy.

This eye-popping shift was also seen in a separate question in the survey. Respondents were asked, should abortion be, a, legal in any circumstance; b, legal in some circumstances; or c, illegal in all circumstances?

This year, legal in any circumstance, 23 percent; '08, legal in any circumstance, 28 percent.

Legal under certain circumstances, '09, 53 percent, unchanged from '08, 53 percent.

Illegal in all circumstances, in '09, 22 percent; in '08, 17 percent.

The abortion debate is still front and center in American politics. President Obama's speech at Notre Dame produced great controversy, largely because of his own pro-choice, pre-announced position. In his Notre Dame address, Mr. Obama urged civility in the abortion ongoing controversy.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) Each side will continue to make its case to the public with passion and conviction. But surely we can do so without reducing those with differing views to caricature.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Why did Obama talk about abortion at Notre Dame?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, he certainly had to, John, because he was invited to Notre Dame. There was a huge division and a collision at the university because the Catholic community nationwide, a huge part of it, rose up in rage and indignation that, you know, the University of Our Lady came out and invited Barack Obama who's the most pro- abortion president we've ever had.

But John, the reason these numbers are changing is sonogram technology, 3D technology, you can see not only the features of the child, what you look like, but you can see the child at a very early age.

In addition, viability is coming out. Joe Scarborough, who is a friend of mine, and host of "Morning Joe," I mean, his baby was born 10 weeks premature at about one-and-a-half or two pounds or something. And also, young people are seeing this. So the trend is really toward pro-life.

One final point, John. In the Catholic Church, the astonishing thing here was it wasn't four or five bishops. Seventy-three bishops stood up and denounced Reverend John Jenkins and Notre Dame University for what they did. As you know, that is a dramatic move because the bishops have not been active or as militant as they are today. DR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's about one-fourth of the bishops in the country.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think it is, yeah.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want a tactical reason why he spoke to abortion. What's the tactical reason. Can you think of one?

MS. CLIFT: I don't know that there's a tactical reason. I think that the feelings about abortion in this country are much more ambivalent than the politicians or commentators make them seem to be.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Or polls?

MS. CLIFT: No, the polls pick up the attitudes. The point is, though, you can be pro-life and you can also want Roe v. Wade to be the law of the land, and you don't want abortion banned in the early weeks, and you don't want doctors or women sent to jail, you don't want it criminalized.

And I think those attitudes about keeping abortion safe and legal in the very earliest stages are basically unchanged. And the Supreme Court has spoken on this. We do now have a Democratic pro-choice president. I think there will continue to be agitation on both sides, but I don't think the protesters at Notre Dame helped their cause very much because it's a serious issue.

MS. CROWLEY: Obama is the president, but he's also a very smart politician. And he's looking at these poll numbers, too. Those numbers are stunning. The changes are very statistically significant.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why the change? Why the change?

MS. CROWLEY: I think Pat's reasons are correct. I also think that as people get older, this is just a general proposition, they tend to adopt some more conservative values or conservative viewpoints, especially on some social issues. The baby boom generation is getting older. They've already had their children. And I know a couple of cases in point in my personal life, personal friends, who were always, always pro-choice. They had their children, and they changed their minds.

So there might be a great cultural and demographic shift going on that Obama's paying very close attention to.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: There is a great financial upheaval now going on, Mort. It's worldwide. This question may sound strained, but do you see any connection between these polls on pro-life versus pro- choice emanating from the condition of the economy?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I really don't. I have to say I think that's a separate issue driving people's lives. This is a very, very difficult issue, and it's a moral issue for a lot of people on both sides of it. I might tell you, the Quinnipiac poll, which is twice as a large as the poll you're talking about, even three times, shows different numbers. So I don't think one poll is necessarily accurate. I do think there is a very deep division on this issue. And as I say, both sides have a moral rooting.

I'll give you one other reason why I think he raised that issue, and I think yours is the primary one. You know, he wants to somehow or other come across as somebody who can search for common ground. This was a part of his political campaign, a part of the image that he sees for himself. And this was, I think, another example of where he thought he could reach across the divide and find a way to find, as he says, common ground.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: There are related issues that flow from this issue, too, that he wants to bring into view in his appointment to the Supreme Court. And that's, for example, parental notification. You recall how that is invasive. MR. BUCHANAN: Well, here's the problem, John, with him. Obama endorsed and said, I will sign as my first act in office something called the Freedom of Choice Act. This is a congressional act which would supersede all state laws and invalidate them all. Now, that is what really has the bishops in the church up in arms. And Barack seems to be backing away there. He says there's a conscience clause, which means in Catholic hospitals you don't have to do abortions in Catholic hospitals if you don't believe in it.

He's going to protect that. And I think he does not want this Freedom of Choice Act for the very reason Mort, frankly, and you have talked about. He's got the pro-choice community down cold. He wants to get as much of the moderate and at least some of the pro-life community, which voted for him, 55 percent of Catholics did, to stay with him. And so that's why he wants a centrist position. He's got the left.

MS. CLIFT: He called for a reasonable-conscience clause. Because what the Bush administration put on the books allows a pharmacist to not fill birth control prescriptions. And that is way too broad for our --

MR. BUCHANAN: Why can't a pharmacist do what he wants to do in his pharmacy?

MS. CLIFT: Because pharmacists are there to fill prescriptions. They are not there to decide which prescriptions they like and which they don't.

(Cross talk.)

Try that out at CVS and see how far that will go.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: How do you account for the dramatic shift in public attitudes towards abortion in the space of 12 months? What's your final answer.

Pat Buchanan, be very brief.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think Monica is close to it. I think opinions are changing among young people and baby boomers. And I think it's because of the technology and what people are seeing. This is a human life.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: There is a cultural phenomenon going on, too. If you look at the magazine racks on display at airports, see how many celebrity couples are having children, babies. Babies are in. Why are babies in?

MS. CLIFT: That's a completely different issue. Babies are in for celebrities, and babies are in for a lot of people if they can afford them and enjoy them. And hurray to everybody. But abortion still needs to remain safe and legal in the early stages. And efforts to ban it have not succeeded. And so I think the numbers still are not --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Abortions are out, babies are in. Don't you think there's a feedback from the celebrity culture, down?

MS. CROWLEY: That may be marginal. I mean, people are getting signals. Young celebrities, Brittany Spears, having children -- I mean, maybe, maybe. But I still think that the demographic shift among baby boomers and the older generation, that's accounting for the shift more than anything.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, let me just say, to open it up, babies definitely are in. And I'm totally in favor of that.

(Laughter.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, congratulations, by the way.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Thank you very much. But I do think Pat's point is right. And it's not just --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is Isabelle, right?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, no, no. Renee.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, Renee, Renee.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: But thank you very much, and I appreciate your good thoughts. Look, what Pat said, I think, really has a profound impact. When you see those sonograms and the pictures of the baby during the earliest parts of the pregnancy, it really does change your view of it. It's hard really to look at it in the same way that you did before all of this technology became available. I've go to believe -- and you see that even if you --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're touching now on another hot-button issue. The last words out of Obama's mouth was avoid caricature. Does he see those portraits of those little tiny fetuses are babies? Does he see that as below-the-belt fighting? Does he want to see those excluded? MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, I can't imagine that. I mean, I think, you know --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Go ahead.

MS. CLIFT: No, no, those are powerful images. But you can look at that and say it's a powerful image and question, you know, when does viable life begin, but you still don't want to send women to jail and doctors to jail. You don't want to ban abortion. So you know, these are not really contradictory --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is you are all correct.

Issue two: Kim the brinks man!

SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON: (From videotape.) We are very serious about trying to make it clear to the North Koreans that their recent behavior is absolutely unacceptable.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: In North Korea, open brinksmanship is back. Pyongyang is ratcheting up its threats, poking its finger in the eye of the United Nations and vexing Barack Obama.

Brinksman Kim number one. North Korea launches a long-range rocket with a trajectory over Japan with boosters coming down in the sea to Japan's east and west.

Brinksman Kim number two. That launch was timed to precede a dramatic appearance by North Korea's dear leader Kim Jong-Il in the chamber of the nation's parliament to show he remains alive, well and in power after worldwide reports of a stroke. The U.N. Security Council responds to the rocket launch with condemnation and sanctions. The tensions escalate.

Brinksman Kim number three. North Korea responds to the North Korea sanctions by quitting the six-party talks -- China, Japan, Russia, South Korea, North Korea and the U.S. And North Korea threatens to renege on its 2007 agreement, often identified as the Chris Hill agreement, by restarting its Yongbyon nuclear plant which can make arms-grade plutonium.

Brinksman number four. North Korea also expels IAEA, International Atomic Energy Agency, and U.S. inspectors and threatens to test a nuclear device unless the U.N. apologizes.

Brinksman Kim number five. Two female journalists, American Laura Ling and Euna Lee, in jail for two months, will go on trial this coming week in North Korea on charges of illegal entry and, quote- unquote, "hostile acts."

Collectively, North Korea is warning that these tensions will lead to, quote, "unavoidable military conflicts and a war," unquote. The U.S. president wants a dialogue with North Korea, but Pyongyang gives it the thumbs down. PRES. OBAMA: (From videotape.) The response so far from the North Koreans has been not just unhelpful but has resorted to the sort of language that has led to North Korea's isolation in the international community for a very long time.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Is North Korea's belligerence sincere or is it feigned? How serious is this?

Eleanor Clift.

MS. CLIFT: Well, I hope they follow Iran's lead and release these two female journalists. And I must say, the footage of the great leader there, he has been ill lately and has lost a lot of weight, has had a stroke. He doesn't look quite as fierce. And I think with the economic problems, I think the U.S. is still looking to China as our best lever to try to exert some pressure on this regime which seems to be comfortable letting its people starve. But maybe they even have a limit.

MS. CROWLEY: The North Korean belligerence is sincere. When you go back and look at that 1994 agreement that the Clinton administration brokered to try to halt the North Korean nuclear program, they began cheating before the ink was even dry on that agreement.

Now they have nuclear weapons. They have enough material for between four and six bombs. And this week, they're actually banning ships from moving around their northeast waters because they're going to test fire, the word is they're going to try to test fire some short-range missiles.

The Japanese are very concerned about this. Obviously, South Korea is very concerned about this.

The main lever that we have, as Eleanor points out, is China. China right now is not willing to put the screws to North Korea to get them to quit their nuclear program. That is the only point of leverage that Pyongyang has. They're not about to give it up.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Kim Jong-Il was sick and out of commission from a stroke for six months. Nothing happened. Everything remained in place. He came back, and he was totally empowered as he was before. Does that description, does that reality of the control that he exerts make this situation far more serious for the free world than it would otherwise? In other words, he is the single leader, and they march after him no matter what?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: You know, two British journalists got an entry into North Korea, and they did a documentary which was in the Tribeca Film Festival, which I saw. It was an extraordinary documentary. They have something called mass games. Every year, they have 15,000 gymnasts, all of whom perform as a group to show that it's the group that counts, not individuals.

And all they care about is to have Kim Jong-Il there to see their performance. The whole country is inundated and immersed in the propaganda and the PR of Kim Jong-Il. There is no second place, no third place. He runs the country completely.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me begin with this question. This is an exit question, you can add to it. Is Kim Jong-Il sufficiently empowered to launch an atomic weapon at the United States if he decides to take that action? And is there any authority inside our outside Korea that could stop him?

MR. BUCHANAN: Kim Jong-Il does not have a ballistic missile that can reach the United States, that's been successfully tested. We do know he has never tested a ballistic missile with a nuclear warhead.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about Hawaii? Could he reach Hawaii?

MR. BUCHANAN: We don't even know he can put the two together, but he can't hit the United States. But the United States should long ago have had those 30,000 troops off the DMZ and offshore and wait this guy out and not buckle under to anymore demands of his. Just let him sit and stew until he's dead.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why has this whole thing become unstable, the Chris Hill treaty or --

MR. BUCHANAN: Because Chris Hill cut a deal, and the North Koreans, as usual, reneged on it. And then they go back and they take back what they gave --

(Cross talk.)

MS. CLIFT: Diplomacy is about buying time. Chris Hill got an agreement during the Clinton administration. There was no bomb-making made. The Bush people walked away from it. They snubbed Colin Powell, who wanted to stick with that agreement, and they just went ahead and made bombs for the bulk of most of those years.

Chris Hill came in at the last minute to try to put something together, and he bought a little more time, not enough.

MS. CROWLEY: A couple of months ago when the North Koreans test- launched that ballistic missile which fell into the ocean, do you know who was on the scene? The Iranians. So the North Koreans are getting all kinds of technology and guidance from the Iranians, from the Russians and from the Chinese. Do they have the capability of hitting Alaska or Hawaii now? No. But they learned a lot from that test launch failure, John.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: One of the things they did learn is that those missiles will not, shall we say, fly unchallenged. The fact that those missiles collapsed was not an accident. It was not a technological problem. It was a counterintelligence effort on the part of certain major powers.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: How much of a free agent is Kim?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think he's totally a free agent. I don't think the man has any restraints on anything he wants to do.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think what he's doing or anything he does surprises China?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Oh, yeah. I think China is worried because they don't want to get a lot of North Koreans coming into China if there's a starvation in North Korea. That's what's going to happen. That's why they're concerned to try and keep, you know, North Korea as quiet as they possibly can.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: So it's in China's national interest to have Kim behave himself? MR. BUCHANAN: They also don't want North Korea collapsing and South Korea, the whole idea of capitalism, moving up to their border. They prefer a buffer --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I'm confused. I want to know, how serious is this threat which doesn't get that much attention?

(Cross talk.)

MS. CLIFT: The threat of an attack, on our mainland in particular, is not very serious. The danger is that he can be trading nuclear material in parts on the black market, and it could fall into the hands of terrorists. That's the real threat there.

MS. CROWLEY: And the threat is to our allies who count on us, to some extent, for security guarantee -- Japan and South Korea.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're all correct again.

Issue Three: A tight leash.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) He's warm, he's cuddly, loyal, enthusiastic. You just have to keep him on a tight leash. Every once in a while he goes charging off in the wrong direction and gets himself into trouble. But enough about Joe Biden.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: President Obama poked fun at his vice president at the White House correspondent's dinner earlier this month. Entertainer Wanda Sykes followed suit.

WANDA SYKES (Comedienne.): (From videotape.) God forbid that Joe Biden falls into the hands of terrorists. They won't even have to torture him. All they'd have to do is go, how's it going, Joe? (Laughter, applause.) He'd come out with stacks of information.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Many others draw laughs with Biden routines.

JAY LENO (Former host, "The Tonight Show."): (From videotape.) And Vice President Joe Biden honored the Mexican people by not speaking at all. (Laughter.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: These days, it seems Joe Biden always gets a laugh. Is it de trop, too much? And is it even mean-spirited? Enough already?

Maureen Dowd, New York Times columnist, believes the Biden material has been overplayed and misplayed. Quote, "Joe is nothing if not loyal, and the president should return that quality and not leave his lieutenant vulnerable to "Odd Couple" parodies."

Question: Is Biden more of an asset or more of a liability to Obama? Monica Crowley.

MS. CROWLEY: Well, what's interesting is that there's a Newsweek reporter, Richard Wolffe, who has a new book coming out about the relationship and about the campaign. And he says that actually Joe Biden, who suffers from diarrhea of the mouth every once and again, has made a lot of cracks that actually the president has not found very amusing.

And you remember that one scene after Chief Justice John Roberts bungled the presidential oath, Joe Biden made a crack about that, Obama didn't seem too amused.

Also, most recently, giving away the undisclosed location for the vice president in the event of a major national crisis.

He does have this tendency to put his foot in his mouth. And I think if it continues, the good will that Obama now enjoys actually will decline, and Joe Biden will be one of the first liabilities that they will actually identify.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's that location? What's the location?

MS. CROWLEY: Well, Eleanor reported on this.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: It was revealed by Biden?

MS. CROWLEY: At the Gridiron dinner.

MS. CLIFT: In private dinner conversation over a four-hour dinner at the Gridiron, he told of getting a tour of his new home, which is the Observatory, which is where the vice president lives, and coming upon this massive steel door behind a huge lock. And the guard, who was giving him the tour, told him that this was where Cheney often spent time when it was an undisclosed location. And inside there was all this communications equipment.

Biden relayed this in sort of an eye-rolling, humorous tone. He didn't take it all that seriously. And I don't think we should, either.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, is there more to the story? Why did Cheney spend all this amount of time there?

MS. CLIFT: Well, ask Dick Cheney about that. That was after 9/11 when he was all spooked out about his safety.

(Cross talk.)

That was a past administration. I think we're talking about Joe Biden. He does have a tendency to say more perhaps than he should. But he's very well plugged in in this administration. He's deeply experienced. And he is nowhere near the liability Monica --

MR. BUCHANAN: This is not entirely a joking matter. I think Biden, frankly, with his caution on Afghanistan was right. I don't know that Barack Obama -- and I think some of his advice is good and ought to be heard. But he's becoming something of a national joke. And he's getting into that groove that Dan Quayle was in and Governor Romney was in with the brainwashing things where everybody looks for a gaffe. And they pile on and pile on until he becomes a liability. And frankly, he's in danger of being dropped from that ticket. DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about --

(Cross talk.)

MS. CROWLEY: They destroyed Dan Quayle over one or two gaffes, and this guy gets a free pass on major gaffes.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: He wouldn't advise his family to fly on an airplane during the swine flu.

MR. BUCHANAN: That was a gaffe. That was a foolish thing to say, but I think he's in danger, frankly, of becoming something of a liability to the point where if Obama runs again he's in trouble.

(Cross talk.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I just don't see that. Yeah, these are the couple of things that happened. He's very well-regarded within the administration, within the Senate. He'll be fine.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort is right.

Predictions -- Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Next Islamist state joining Hamas and Hezbollah will be in Somalia and Mogadishu. The Islamists will take over that country completely. The militants, they will oust the moderate Islamists.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I thought they already had, Pat. (Laughs.)

Artur Davis, a politician in the mold of Barack Obama, is on his way to getting elected the first African-American governor of Alabama. That's Alabama.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: By the end of the year, up to 25 percent of all credit card loans will be in default.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Dick Cheney's approval rating will climb to 47 percent by Labor Day, 57 percent by Thanksgiving, 61 percent by Christmas.

Bye-bye.



END.

renege on its 2007 agreement, often identified as the Chris Hill agreement, by restarting its Yongbyon nuclear plant which can make arms-grade plutonium.

Brinksman number four. North Korea also expels IAEA, International Atomic Energy Agency, and U.S. inspectors and threatens to test a nuclear device unless the U.N. apologizes.

Brinksman Kim number five. Two female journalists, American Laura Ling and Euna Lee, in jail for two months, will go on trial this coming week in North Korea on charges of illegal entry and, quote- unquote, "hostile acts."

Collectively, North Korea is warning that these tensions will lead to, quote, "unavoidable military conflicts and a war," unquote. The U.S. president wants a dialogue with North Korea, but Pyongyang gives it the thumbs down. PRES. OBAMA: (From videotape.) The response so far from the North Koreans has been not just unhelpful but has resorted to the sort of language that has led to North Korea's isolation in the international community for a very long time.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Is North Korea's belligerence sincere or is it feigned? How serious is this?

Eleanor Clift.

MS. CLIFT: Well, I hope they follow Iran's lead and release these two female journalists. And I must say, the footage of the great leader there, he has been ill lately and has lost a lot of weight, has had a stroke. He doesn't look quite as fierce. And I think with the economic problems, I think the U.S. is still looking to China as our best lever to try to exert some pressure on this regime which seems to be comfortable letting its people starve. But maybe they even have a limit.

MS. CROWLEY: The North Korean belligerence is sincere. When you go back and look at that 1994 agreement that the Clinton administration brokered to try to halt the North Korean nuclear program, they began cheating before the ink was even dry on that agreement.

Now they have nuclear weapons. They have enough material for between four and six bombs. And this week, they're actually banning ships from moving around their northeast waters because they're going to test fire, the word is they're going to try to test fire some short-range missiles.

The Japanese are very concerned about this. Obviously, South Korea is very concerned about this.

The main lever that we have, as Eleanor points out, is China. China right now is not willing to put the screws to North Korea to get them to quit their nuclear program. That is the only point of leverage that Pyongyang has. They're not about to give it up.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Kim Jong-Il was sick and out of commission from a stroke for six months. Nothing happened. Everything remained in place. He came back, and he was totally empowered as he was before. Does that description, does that reality of the control that he exerts make this situation far more serious for the free world than it would otherwise? In other words, he is the single leader, and they march after him no matter what?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: You know, two British journalists got an entry into North Korea, and they did a documentary which was in the Tribeca Film Festival, which I saw. It was an extraordinary documentary. They have something called mass games. Every year, they have 15,000 gymnasts, all of whom perform as a group to show that it's the group that counts, not individuals.

And all they care about is to have Kim Jong-Il there to see their performance. The whole country is inundated and immersed in the propaganda and the PR of Kim Jong-Il. There is no second place, no third place. He runs the country completely.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me begin with this question. This is an exit question, you can add to it. Is Kim Jong-Il sufficiently empowered to launch an atomic weapon at the United States if he decides to take that action? And is there any authority inside our outside Korea that could stop him?

MR. BUCHANAN: Kim Jong-Il does not have a ballistic missile that can reach the United States, that's been successfully tested. We do know he has never tested a ballistic missile with a nuclear warhead.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about Hawaii? Could he reach Hawaii?

MR. BUCHANAN: We don't even know he can put the two together, but he can't hit the United States. But the United States should long ago have had those 30,000 troops off the DMZ and offshore and wait this guy out and not buckle under to anymore demands of his. Just let him sit and stew until he's dead.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why has this whole thing become unstable, the Chris Hill treaty or --

MR. BUCHANAN: Because Chris Hill cut a deal, and the North Koreans, as usual, reneged on it. And then they go back and they take back what they gave --

(Cross talk.)

MS. CLIFT: Diplomacy is about buying time. Chris Hill got an agreement during the Clinton administration. There was no bomb-making made. The Bush people walked away from it. They snubbed Colin Powell, who wanted to stick with that agreement, and they just went ahead and made bombs for the bulk of most of those years.

Chris Hill came in at the last minute to try to put something together, and he bought a little more time, not enough.

MS. CROWLEY: A couple of months ago when the North Koreans test- launched that ballistic missile which fell into the ocean, do you know who was on the scene? The Iranians. So the North Koreans are getting all kinds of technology and guidance from the Iranians, from the Russians and from the Chinese. Do they have the capability of hitting Alaska or Hawaii now? No. But they learned a lot from that test launch failure, John.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: One of the things they did learn is that those missiles will not, shall we say, fly unchallenged. The fact that those missiles collapsed was not an accident. It was not a technological problem. It was a counterintelligence effort on the part of certain major powers.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: How much of a free agent is Kim?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think he's totally a free agent. I don't think the man has any restraints on anything he wants to do.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think what he's doing or anything he does surprises China?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Oh, yeah. I think China is worried because they don't want to get a lot of North Koreans coming into China if there's a starvation in North Korea. That's what's going to happen. That's why they're concerned to try and keep, you know, North Korea as quiet as they possibly can.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: So it's in China's national interest to have Kim behave himself? MR. BUCHANAN: They also don't want North Korea collapsing and South Korea, the whole idea of capitalism, moving up to their border. They prefer a buffer --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I'm confused. I want to know, how serious is this threat which doesn't get that much attention?

(Cross talk.)

MS. CLIFT: The threat of an attack, on our mainland in particular, is not very serious. The danger is that he can be trading nuclear material in parts on the black market, and it could fall into the hands of terrorists. That's the real threat there.

MS. CROWLEY: And the threat is to our allies who count on us, to some extent, for security guarantee -- Japan and South Korea.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're all correct again.

Issue Three: A tight leash.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) He's warm, he's cuddly, loyal, enthusiastic. You just have to keep him on a tight leash. Every once in a while he goes charging off in the wrong direction and gets himself into trouble. But enough about Joe Biden.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: President Obama poked fun at his vice president at the White House correspondent's dinner earlier this month. Entertainer Wanda Sykes followed suit.

WANDA SYKES (Comedienne.): (From videotape.) God forbid that Joe Biden falls into the hands of terrorists. They won't even have to torture him. All they'd have to do is go, how's it going, Joe? (Laughter, applause.) He'd come out with stacks of information.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Many others draw laughs with Biden routines.

JAY LENO (Former host, "The Tonight Show."): (From videotape.) And Vice President Joe Biden honored the Mexican people by not speaking at all. (Laughter.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: These days, it seems Joe Biden always gets a laugh. Is it de trop, too much? And is it even mean-spirited? Enough already?

Maureen Dowd, New York Times columnist, believes the Biden material has been overplayed and misplayed. Quote, "Joe is nothing if not loyal, and the president should return that quality and not leave his lieutenant vulnerable to "Odd Couple" parodies."

Question: Is Biden more of an asset or more of a liability to Obama? Monica Crowley.

MS. CROWLEY: Well, what's interesting is that there's a Newsweek reporter, Richard Wolffe, who has a new book coming out about the relationship and about the campaign. And he says that actually Joe Biden, who suffers from diarrhea of the mouth every once and again, has made a lot of cracks that actually the president has not found very amusing.

And you remember that one scene after Chief Justice John Roberts bungled the presidential oath, Joe Biden made a crack about that, Obama didn't seem too amused.

Also, most recently, giving away the undisclosed location for the vice president in the event of a major national crisis.

He does have this tendency to put his foot in his mouth. And I think if it continues, the good will that Obama now enjoys actually will decline, and Joe Biden will be one of the first liabilities that they will actually identify.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's that location? What's the location?

MS. CROWLEY: Well, Eleanor reported on this.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: It was revealed by Biden?

MS. CROWLEY: At the Gridiron dinner.

MS. CLIFT: In private dinner conversation over a four-hour dinner at the Gridiron, he told of getting a tour of his new home, which is the Observatory, which is where the vice president lives, and coming upon this massive steel door behind a huge lock. And the guard, who was giving him the tour, told him that this was where Cheney often spent time when it was an undisclosed location. And inside there was all this communications equipment.

Biden relayed this in sort of an eye-rolling, humorous tone. He didn't take it all that seriously. And I don't think we should, either.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, is there more to the story? Why did Cheney spend all this amount of time there?

MS. CLIFT: Well, ask Dick Cheney about that. That was after 9/11 when he was all spooked out about his safety.

(Cross talk.)

That was a past administration. I think we're talking about Joe Biden. He does have a tendency to say more perhaps than he should. But he's very well plugged in in this administration. He's deeply experienced. And he is nowhere near the liability Monica --

MR. BUCHANAN: This is not entirely a joking matter. I think Biden, frankly, with his caution on Afghanistan was right. I don't know that Barack Obama -- and I think some of his advice is good and ought to be heard. But he's becoming something of a national joke. And he's getting into that groove that Dan Quayle was in and Governor Romney was in with the brainwashing things where everybody looks for a gaffe. And they pile on and pile on until he becomes a liability. And frankly, he's in danger of being dropped from that ticket. DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about --

(Cross talk.)

MS. CROWLEY: They destroyed Dan Quayle over one or two gaffes, and this guy gets a free pass on major gaffes.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: He wouldn't advise his family to fly on an airplane during the swine flu.

MR. BUCHANAN: That was a gaffe. That was a foolish thing to say, but I think he's in danger, frankly, of becoming something of a liability to the point where if Obama runs again he's in trouble.

(Cross talk.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I just don't see that. Yeah, these are the couple of things that happened. He's very well-regarded within the administration, within the Senate. He'll be fine.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort is right.

Predictions -- Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Next Islamist state joining Hamas and Hezbollah will be in Somalia and Mogadishu. The Islamists will take over that country completely. The militants, they will oust the moderate Islamists.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I thought they already had, Pat. (Laughs.)

Artur Davis, a politician in the mold of Barack Obama, is on his way to getting elected the first African-American governor of Alabama. That's Alabama.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: By the end of the year, up to 25 percent of all credit card loans will be in default.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Dick Cheney's approval rating will climb to 47 percent by Labor Day, 57 percent by Thanksgiving, 61 percent by Christmas.

Bye-bye.



END.