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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN PANEL: PATRICK BUCHANAN, MSNBC; ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK; MONICA CROWLEY, SYNDICATED RADIO COMMENTATOR; LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC TAPED: FRIDAY, JUNE 19, 2009 BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF JUNE 20-21, 2009

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DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Meddle No More.

The streets of Iran this week overflowed with protesters and violence. The nation is locked in a dangerous and ongoing power struggle. A week ago, Iran completed its presidential election, and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared victor. But a crisis ensued. Ahmadinejad's main rival, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, protested.

Within three hours, hundreds of thousands of his supporters took to Tehran's streets. Their cry: Iran's theocratic regime had stolen the election and awarded the spurious win to Ahmadinejad. The election results were delivered just three hours after the polls closed, despite 46 million paper ballots to be counted by hand. The Iranian government dispatched paramilitary forces to quell the demonstration. Fifteen protesters have reportedly been killed, but Mousavi remains defiant. He is refusing to accept the results. He is calling for peaceful protests, demanding a full recount. President Obama is eyeing the situation but declines to give an opinion.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: (From videotape.) So what I've said is, look, it's up to the Iranian people to make a decision. We are not meddling.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: At week's end, Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, seemed to settle the matter by pointing to an 11 million margin of Ahmadinejad's win.

AYATOLLAH ALI KHAMENEI (supreme leader of Iran): (From videotape, through interpreter.) Islamic republic states would not cheat and would not betray the vote of the people. Those who are involved in the election process are aware of this fact, especially when there is 11 million votes' difference between two people.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Is Obama's non-interference -- no meddling on either side, neither denying nor confirming the Ahmadinejad win -- the right policy for the U.S. in handling Iran's crisis? Yes or no, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: It's not only been correct; it's been very, very presidential. He did exactly the right thing. But we have now reached a point, John, where Khamenei, the ayatollah, who initially said, "The election's over; it's a divine outcome," then he said there may be fraud; now he says the election outcome is final and he laid down the line.

Why Obama is correct is this. They are now -- if the demonstrators come out or if the dissidents continue their protests, it is no longer about a corrupt election or a stolen election; it is defiance of the state and nation. That is what the ayatollah has said.

We don't want a blood bath there, John. Thanks to the fact that Obama kept us out of there, for a week these crowds of patriotic young Iranians have exposed the corruption, the illegitimacy of the regime, and the fact that it is not deeply rooted certainly in the middle class and the young of the future.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is Obama sending a signal to the tyrants of the world that it's okay to steal elections?

MS. CLIFT: I would not put it that way. I would say that -- thank you, Pat Buchanan, for all those compliments for the president; the most I've heard from you expressed in the shortest amount of time. MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Inaudible.) You know that.

MS. CLIFT: No, I totally agree with Mr. Buchanan on this one. Given the history of American involvement in Iran, you don't want to give this regime any excuse to crack down on protesters to say that this is the West, the evil West, the outside agitators, that are creating this rebellion. I think there are cracks in the regime. I'm not saying, you know, any regime is going to fall. This could go on for years. And the president wisely understands that America has national security interests here. And whichever leader prevails -- and it looks like it'll probably be Ahmadinejad -- their stance about a nuclear program is not going to change all that much.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Couldn't Obama have sent a nuanced signal without being as expressive as Buchanan seems to think?

MS. CROWLEY: Of course. And here I disagree with both Eleanor and Pat, because I think this is a total abdication of American presidential leadership.

MR. O'DONNELL: (Laughs.)

MS. CROWLEY: We have waited 30 years for this moment in Iran. And for the president to come out in such a tepid, weak and equivocal way when the eyes of the Iranian people are pleading for some sort of statement of moral clarity from this president, as they have, as they've struggled under the jack boot of oppression, regardless of what kind of dictatorship they've been under, whether it's this or in the Soviet Union -- President Reagan was not afraid to call the enemy what it was. He called it the evil empire; called the Soviet Union such. That did not prevent him from going on forward and breaking all kinds of arms control deals with Moscow.

The same thing could be done here. And there are a number of very specific things, John, that we could do to encourage the Iranian people to do their own form of regime change.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is Mousavi as good as he apparently is?

MR. O'DONNELL: Well, look, I mean, it's an amazing accomplishment that he's still alive even at this point. But first of all --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: How long --

MR. O'DONNELL: -- I want to congratulate Pat Buchanan, and the Group, actually, for -- last time I was on the show, about a month ago -- correctly predicting the official outcome of the election in Iran. We all picked the winner on that one.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Ahmadinejad. MR. O'DONNELL: Yeah. But listen --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: By a big margin.

MR. O'DONNELL: -- when did the president of the United States become the official certifier of elections worldwide? And can you name me one election in which one American president ever commented on a foreign country whether or not their election result was accurate?

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think George Bush did -- George Bush.

MR. O'DONNELL: Did they ever do that?

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: George Bush.

MR. O'DONNELL: But I'd like to go back to Monica. I would like to hear more nonsense from Monica about -- and say it specifically, the specific word that you would like the president of the United States to say about Iran now. I want to hear the specific words.

MS. CROWLEY: As president --

MR. O'DONNELL: And then tell me what great effect they would have, because this is very funny stuff here.

MS. CROWLEY: As president of the United States -- well, I'm glad you find it so amusing.

MR. O'DONNELL: It's really funny.

MS. CROWLEY: We have millions of people pouring into the streets of Tehran who don't find it amusing at all. In fact, on Friday The New York Times, of all publications, ran a very long piece of somebody inside Iran --

MR. O'DONNELL: Tell me what --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let her finish, Lawrence. Let her finish.

MS. CROWLEY: -- saying that the American president --

MR. O'DONNELL: Tell me what the president should say.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: She did not interrupt you, Lawrence.

MR. O'DONNELL: We don't know what it's like over there.

MS. CROWLEY: You know, Lawrence, you can --

MR. O'DONNELL: Tell me what the president should say.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let her finish.

MS. CROWLEY: -- dismiss what I'm saying, but there are a lot of people who are taking their lives in their hands --

MR. O'DONNELL: Tell me what he should say -- one sentence.

MS. CROWLEY: -- in Tehran, and they are looking for a statement -- MR. O'DONNELL: Give me one sentence.

MS. CROWLEY: -- of moral clarity.

MR. O'DONNELL: Tell me what that sentence is -- one sentence.

MS. CLIFT: Let me -- let me -- let me -- let me --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'll give you a nuance. Let me give him a nuanced statement. He could say that he hopes the regime will observe the popular will.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, that's fine, John. I don't see any problem with that.

MS. CLIFT: There's no problem with that.

MR. BUCHANAN: He could have said that. But let me say this. The problem with what Monica is saying --

MR. O'DONNELL: Great. That'll change everything.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- if Obama had come out and said, "We are with those people in the streets; they are democratic" --

MS. CROWLEY: That's not what I'm saying, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Hold it. What would have happened is you would have put the USA stamp on Mousavi.

MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. BUCHANAN: The regime would have been in a fight with Obama rather than in a fight with its people. And when the Tiananmen Square occurs, if it occurs, they would have said, "The Americans were interfering."

MS. CLIFT: That's right. Let me --

MR. BUCHANAN: So you would have discredited it.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, hold on.

MS. CLIFT: Let me join in more politely dismissing what Monica has to say, and that is that you try to do what is in the best interest of the protesters. And making it seem like they are a tool of the West puts them in harm's way, invites bloodshed, doesn't do anything to advance the cause there.

Does anybody doubt what side President Obama is on? He is on the side of the popular will. He doesn't have to jam it in their face. He struck the exactly right tone. MS. CROWLEY: President Obama said --

MS. CLIFT: It's the hard-liners who wanted to go into Iraq to further democracy are the ones who now want to --

MS. CROWLEY: Obama said --

MS. CLIFT: -- incite revolution in Iran.

MS. CROWLEY: -- he did not want to meddle. And it's interesting, because he's got no problem meddling in Israel, telling them to quit the settlements. But the Iranian government, even though Obama has been neutral --

MS. CLIFT: Israel --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let her finish.

MS. CROWLEY: He's been value-neutral, because he says he doesn't want to meddle and give the hard-liners ammo. Guess what: The ayatollah and the mullahs have already attacked the United States for meddling. They're going to attack us no matter what we do. Isn't it about time we give the protesters --

MR. BUCHANAN: But Monica --

MS. CROWLEY: -- at least a signal of active concern?

MR. BUCHANAN: Monica, they know it is not --

MR. O'DONNELL: Just write him one sentence. Write the president one sentence that would help -- just one.

MR. BUCHANAN: What the mullahs are saying now, the world knows is not credible. The world knows Obama has stepped back from this, and the world knows they are confronting their own people. Why corrupt this pure movement in the streets --

MS. CROWLEY: I'm not talking about corrupting it, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- by saying, "We're with you, you guys"?

MS. CROWLEY: I'm talking about doing specific things.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: So with all things considered, has Obama taken the right course or the wrong course with Iran? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly the right course, and so far it has worked. And even if there's a Tiananmen Square, it will have been the right decision, because they will not be able to blame it on the United States. DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Has he done the same thing with China?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, George H.W. Bush sent Scowcroft and Eagleburger over there a couple of weeks after that Tiananmen Square toasting that guy. I would not send anybody to toast Khamenei. (Laughs.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Has Obama taken the same course of action on Tibet?

MR. BUCHANAN: Obama's been hands-off pretty much on Tibet.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hands-off. Hands-off.

MS. CROWLEY: And Darfur, right.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, I think -- what can you do?

MS. CROWLEY: Come on --

MR. BUCHANAN: You don't tell people to rise up when you can't help them.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What happened to the exceptionalism of the United States -- the exceptionalism? Where is it?

MR. BUCHANAN: John, we told the Hungarians through USIA, "Rise up and throw the Russians out." The tanks came in. We did nothing.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: How did it blow up on George Bush, his predecessor, in 2003?

MR. BUCHANAN: He called -- I mean, Buchanan got into the race and gave him a horrible time because of that.

MR. O'DONNELL: There you go.

MR. BUCHANAN: There you go. (Laughs.)

MS. CROWLEY: What in the world?

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Go ahead.

MS. CLIFT: American exceptionalism can be projected through soft power, public outreach, the kind of words that the president spoke in Cairo, not at the edge of a gun and not interfering in another country's election processes in a country where they would only give the leadership ammunition to crack down on the protesters -- not what we want.

MS. CROWLEY: Two weeks ago in Cairo, President Obama spoke about the virtues of democracy, democratic institutions, freedom as universal values to which we should all strive as human beings. Now he has a providential opportunity to put his money where his mouth is -- support Radio Farda. How about putting in --

MS. CLIFT: How about Radio Monica? (Laughs.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let her finish. She's the only one taking the opposite side. Let her finish.

MS. CROWLEY: How about affecting existing -- please. How about --

MS. CLIFT: Well, I'll bet Rush Limbaugh agrees with her.

MS. CROWLEY: There is a proposal that has been kicking around Congress for a couple of months now, attracting bipartisan interest to level additional sanctions on Iran in closing off their gasoline spigot. They import 40 percent of their gasoline. DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.

MS. CROWLEY: Why not squeeze them and effect some sort of change that way?

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.

MR. BUCHANAN: Who is behind --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right. In Iran, there is gasoline rationing.

MR. BUCHANAN: With due respect, that proposal, John, with due respect, comes right out of AIPAC, the Israeli lobby.

MS. CROWLEY: Come on, Pat.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence, what's your answer? Quickly, quickly.

MR. O'DONNELL: I was about to say -- I was about to say I agree with Pat Buchanan word for word, except for that last bit.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. O'DONNELL: But Pat's completely right on this.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think it's probably too close to call.

Issue Two: Paging Dr. Obama.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) If we do not fix our health care system, America may go the way of GM -- paying more, getting less, and going broke.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: He put big political chips this week on health care reform. President Obama called on the health care industry and Congress to ante up big-time. Mr. Obama's reform is built on three pilings or principles: Insurance coverage, doctor choice, and, indispensably, cost cuts.

This week Obama gave the longest speech of his 150-day presidency. He gave the speech before the American Medical Association, the vaunted AMA. This was a surprise, since 15 years ago the AMA was instrumental in zapping health care reform -- the Hillary version. Now the AMA and the health industry in general supports reform. But members want to hear more about a key feature of Obama- care, namely the president's call for a taxpayer-underwritten public health insurance program. Obama wants to insure the 45 million who don't have health coverage.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) What I am trying to do and what a public option will help do is put affordable health care within reach for millions of Americans. DR. MCLAUGHLIN: As for cost, Obama has said that health care reform is entitlement reform, meaning that it will save money on the cost of Medicare and Medicaid. But the president also says he will use savings from Medicare and Medicaid over 10 years to pay for coverage for tens of millions of people.

Some Republicans and others see the contradiction in Obama's plan, and also view it as socialized medicine.

SEN. RICHARD SHELBY (R-AL): (From videotape.) It will be the first step in destroying the best health care system the world has ever known.

SENATE MINORITY LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): (From videotape.) If the government is in the insurance business, there won't be any other insurers.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: What is Obama's primary objective in seeking health care reform? Is it to contain costs, or is it to expand coverage? I ask you, Eleanor Clift.

MS. CLIFT: Well, first of all, those two Dr. Dours you had on there would be against whatever the president proposed. Look, the administration --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, there are some Democrats who are opposed to it, silently.

MS. CLIFT: Well, they're opposed to the public option --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.

MS. CLIFT: -- because some of them get a lot of money from insurance interests, and the public option is a --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Some foul motive, right?

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, there's a little foul motive there. And they think it's a Trojan horse that, you know, will eventually lead to a complete public takeover.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Please continue with your point.

MS. CLIFT: Well, look, he is framing this as a way to cut costs, because the costs that we're -- the path we're on now is unsustainable. And it would be a nice added benefit if he could include some of the almost 50 million people who are uninsured. Those are lots of new customers for the private insurers. But they won't want all of these people, because some of them are poor. Some of them have pre-existing conditions. And so they really do need some sort of government-run option to subsidize them and take care of them. And so I imagine they'll find a way to have it. And they may not call it government-run. They're looking at language that calls it a co-op or something like that. But this is a legislative process that is still in its infancy.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Well, I think one of the reasons why health care seems to be blowing up this week is because the Congressional Budget Office, which is a nonpartisan organization, crunched the numbers, and they came up with $1.6 trillion over the next 10 years, but it would only insure one-third of that number who are currently uninsured, and that the number to cover everybody ultimately would be between $3 (trillion) and $4 trillion.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Over 10 years.

MS. CROWLEY: Over 10 years. So a lot of members of Congress, and in particular a lot of Democrats, including Blue Dog Democrats who are very worried about the deficit and blowing up the national debt, they're now saying, "Well, wait a minute. We cannot go down this road of a public option." And the latest I heard is that the Senate draft does exclude the public option, and they're going other ways like expanding coverage of Medicare.

MR. BUCHANAN: John --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You see that Tom Daschle, who was supposed to have been his health czar, has withdrawn his support for a public --

MS. CROWLEY: Right.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- a public option.

MS. CROWLEY: That's right.

MR. BUCHANAN: Monica's exactly right. And they had a big crisis meeting in the White House when these CBO numbers came out. Obama was really unsettled by this thing.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Meaning what, the --

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, you got, I mean, $1.6 trillion and only 16 million people covered. He said, "What's going on?" But the big problem Obama's got is the center of gravity is shifting. The national polls show Americans are much more concerned about the deficit than they ever were. They're over 50 percent more concerned about that than stimulating the economy. The Republicans have the bit in their teeth.

I think the question is going to come down to -- and Lawrence can talk to this -- whether Obama goes for pieces of what he wants or whether he tries to go whole hog, and this baby goes down just like Hillary-care.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know, on this 45 million figure, while it is true that they don't have insurance, it doesn't mean that they're without medical care.

MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: If you go to an emergency ward, they're not going to ask you for your insurance if you're in a motorcycle accident. MR. O'DONNELL: Well, they're going to ask for it.

MS. CLIFT: Oh, they ask for it, and then --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, they eventually do, but you're not deprived of care. So if you've got a system that now --

MS. CLIFT: But they bill somebody. They bill you.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- currently works, why do you want to change it?

MS. CLIFT: It doesn't work.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why do you want to run the risk of it?

MR. O'DONNELL: Well, you know, it does come from the two elements that you raised in your introduction, which is the expansion of coverage to people who are uninsured and the containment of costs. This has been a very, very bad week for health care reform. Monica is right; the CBO estimates have been devastating.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is that, $2.3 (trillion)?

MR. O'DONNELL: It's changed the schedule of what they're doing up there. The Finance Committee, where I used to work and was -- I was working on it when Hillary was trying to get her bill through -- in an unprecedented move, had to reschedule the introduction of their bill because they discovered it just wasn't (working ?) at all.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you see that interview with the head of the CBO? He says it's going to be a long, hard slog.

MR. O'DONNELL: The CBO's job -- the Congressional Budget Office's job is to tell you how much it will cost --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.

MR. O'DONNELL: -- and how it will work. They evaluate the actual likely function of this thing. And that's where a lot of bad news resides, beyond just the cost estimates.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Where do you come down?

MR. O'DONNELL: Well, right now it feels like Obama -- if this was the NBA playoffs, Obama's down 1-0 right now.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: That means no health care this year?

MR. O'DONNELL: No, no, no -- meaning we've got many more games to play and we'll know --

MR. BUCHANAN: But what is it going to be, the big one or the small one? MR. O'DONNELL: I think we'll know -- by the first week of August we'll know what's going to happen.

MS. CLIFT: It's going to be phased in -- whatever it is will be --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the small one?

MS. CLIFT: The small one is --

MR. O'DONNELL: He will compromise anything to get something.

MS. CLIFT: -- some expansion of care, especially down below people eligible for Medicare, and some expansion for kids' care up.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: We've got to get out.

MR. O'DONNELL: But Rahm Emanuel and Obama made it very clear they are going to compromise in whatever degree they have to to get a bill. That was something the Clintons were not willing to do.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: During the 2008 presidential campaign, Mr. Obama told Joe the Plumber he wanted to, quote-unquote, "spread the wealth around." Is the Obama policy an example of spreading the wealth around, namely, tax middle-class benefits to give coverage to the uninsured? Yes or no, Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: Frankly, it is -- as Lawrence has spoken, this is a socialist measure. There's no question about it.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, quickly.

MS. CLIFT: Well, so Medicare and Social Security --

MR. BUCHANAN: Yes, they are.

MS. CLIFT: -- are socialist too, and people seem to like that. Look, there's been a squeeze on the middle class, and a lot of people are fearful of losing their health insurance. They might be willing to pay a little extra on the gold-plated plans, let the execs pay a little in taxes, maybe a tax on soft drinks, in order to know that you have insurance that can't be taken away.

MS. CROWLEY: Obama is going to have to raise taxes to pay for this monstrosity, in whatever form it comes in, taxing your benefits or a value-added tax. And that would violate his pledge to not raise taxes on the middle class.

MR. O'DONNELL: If I'm stuck with the strict confines of your question, yes, this is redistributive.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: It is? MR. O'DONNELL: Yes, it is. But so is everything government does. It takes tax money from everyone, and benefits go out in different ways.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: How does a government plan affect the private insurance industry?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, if they have a government plan, as McConnell says, you have a government program. That's the end of the private insurers.

MR. O'DONNELL: Well, we already have a government plan called Medicare, which (has been ?) very good for the insurance industry.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does this contribute to the impression that Obama is clearly a clear and unmistakable liberal, a real liberal?

MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah.

MS. CROWLEY: Absolutely.

MS. CLIFT: I think a lot of people think that America should provide health care in a way that makes sense for most of its citizens.

If you want to call that liberal, I think he'd be proud to call it that.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, we have health care. We do have health care. You're talking about insurance.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, the more people look at this thing, the more -- they love the idea, everybody insured. But they look at the particulars, the more they recoil from it. That's what happened to Hillary-care.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do we have the best health care system in the world?

MR. BUCHANAN: Yes.

MS. CROWLEY: Yes, we do. And that's why everybody --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why tinker with it?

MS. CROWLEY: -- with resources wants to -- (inaudible).

MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who won the week?

MR. BUCHANAN: I think the Republicans won the week because of the deficit numbers and Barack Obama's numbers down and the problems with health care. It was not a good week for -- it was not a great week for Barack Obama. I think he's coming down to earth. But on issues, he's fallen in some cases below 50 percent, which is bad news.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: How about popularity?

MR. BUCHANAN: Personally, he's doing fine.

MS. CLIFT: Yes, his personal popularity is higher than his programs, because the issues he's taken on are complicated. When you try to do something, you get people angry, like Monica.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are the personal numbers vitiated by the position of the American public on some of his programs? MS. CROWLEY: I think, issue by issue, his poll numbers are coming down -- below 50 on the economy, on taxes, on the debt and the deficit. He's got a real problem.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are the Democrats a little worried?

MR. O'DONNELL: The Democrats are very, very worried. This is the first week --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?

MR. O'DONNELL: -- of extreme worry among the Democrats, yes.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wow. I can't improve on that.

MR. O'DONNELL: Because of the CBO reports on health care.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions, Pat. Be quick.

MR. BUCHANAN: Obama will be below 50 percent the first anniversary of his election.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty will do the right thing and seat Al Franken.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Oil will be at $90 a barrel by August 1st.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence.

MR. O'DONNELL: Senator-elect Al Franken will be sworn in in time to vote for Obama health care reform.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Chrysler will produce a car by the end of 2011 that will exceed 50 miles a gallon and cost less than $5,000.

Happy Father's Day. Bye-bye.

(PBS segment.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three: Lord of the Flies.

The sucker was an insect, a fly that was annoying President Obama for two swipes before he killed it in his bare hands during an interview on CNBC. The largest animal rights group -- get this -- in the world is PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. As for its views, a spokesperson for PETA said this. Quote: "I guess it can't be said that President Obama wouldn't hurt a fly. He swatted at the insect and killed the little guy instantly. He isn't the Buddha. He is a human being. And human beings have a long way to go before they think before they act," unquote.

With more than 20 million members, PETA works to increase awareness for animal rights through public education, cruelty investigation, animal rescue, legislation, special events, celebrity involvement and protest campaigns. PETA also uses fly traps that do not kill flies, but rather captures them in order to set them free.

Question: What would the dalai lama have done in Obama's place? I ask you, Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: The dalai lama would have patiently abided the fly, perhaps scooped up the fly, carried it outside, and let it go free.

What I find so interesting is that Obama is known for his Zen- like calm, and yet he was pretty brutal in that unceremonious murder of that poor creature.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think he was trying to be macho?

MS. CROWLEY: (Laughs.) No, I think -- you know, actually --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: If he were, what would he have done? He would have consumed the fly.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MS. CROWLEY: To answer that -- no, you mean eat the fly?

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eat the fly.

MS. CLIFT: With chocolate syrup?

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: If he were too macho.

MS. CROWLEY: No, he would not have eaten the fly. No, no. But what I think it says, on a serious note, Obama doesn't like to lose control in any situation. And when a situation comes to him that he can't feel that he can control, whether it's a fly or the Iranian protests, he reacts.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Here you go. Obama's a control freak.

MR. O'DONNELL: I disagree. There is no serious note in this story, none at all. I completely support the president in this particular engagement.

MS. CROWLEY: (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: On a serious note, if a fly is after you, most people's instinct would be to swat it away. But I must say, I am interested in getting one of those human fly catchers, because I do have trouble killing a fly in my house. I generally open the door, try to let him out, and others come in. So PETA does good work, but here they're opening themselves up for ridicule.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does this say anything about Obama's temperament?

MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah, he should not have killed the fly; just declare it an enemy combatant and send it to Guantanamo. (Laughs.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hey, what do you think those fly traps cost that PETA distributes?

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.) It's a couple of hundred bucks.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Follow the money, Pat. If you're not going to kill flies --

MR. BUCHANAN: Listen, when I was -- John, when you and I were kids --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and you're going to contain them in a cage, who --

MR. BUCHANAN: When you and I were kids, our parents used to unroll that fly paper and all the flies stuck to it, and then you took it out and put it in the garbage. (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: If PETA is on to a big money-making scheme by selling these humane fly traps, I'd say all the more power to them. I suspect it's not a big seller.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is Obama thin-skinned?

MR. O'DONNELL: I think it -- pardon me, but I thought it was a very reasonable action that the president took in that particular crisis.

MR. BUCHANAN: He was exasperated.

MR. O'DONNELL: I thought he handled it well.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does he want the government in any way to socialize fly control?

MS. CROWLEY: (Laughs.)

MR. BUCHANAN: No, no, no. This was individual initiative.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Another initiative?

MR. BUCHANAN: An individual initiative. DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, on insect control?

MR. BUCHANAN: No, he did it himself. He didn't wait for the government to come in.

MR. O'DONNELL: He didn't check with advisers.

MS. CROWLEY: John, what will come next is a brand new bureaucracy for fly control.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Should we blame the Republicans for this vicious attack on him? (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: No, I don't think --

MS. CROWLEY: The Republicans aren't that coordinated.

MS. CLIFT: -- this is going to get his poll ratings down to below 50 percent, like Pat Buchanan just predicted.



END.

hers see the contradiction in Obama's plan, and also view it as socialized medicine.

SEN. RICHARD SHELBY (R-AL): (From videotape.) It will be the first step in destroying the best health care system the world has ever known.

SENATE MINORITY LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): (From videotape.) If the government is in the insurance business, there won't be any other insurers.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: What is Obama's primary objective in seeking health care reform? Is it to contain costs, or is it to expand coverage? I ask you, Eleanor Clift.

MS. CLIFT: Well, first of all, those two Dr. Dours you had on there would be against whatever the president proposed. Look, the administration --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, there are some Democrats who are opposed to it, silently.

MS. CLIFT: Well, they're opposed to the public option --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.

MS. CLIFT: -- because some of them get a lot of money from insurance interests, and the public option is a --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Some foul motive, right?

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, there's a little foul motive there. And they think it's a Trojan horse that, you know, will eventually lead to a complete public takeover.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Please continue with your point.

MS. CLIFT: Well, look, he is framing this as a way to cut costs, because the costs that we're -- the path we're on now is unsustainable. And it would be a nice added benefit if he could include some of the almost 50 million people who are uninsured. Those are lots of new customers for the private insurers. But they won't want all of these people, because some of them are poor. Some of them have pre-existing conditions. And so they really do need some sort of government-run option to subsidize them and take care of them. And so I imagine they'll find a way to have it. And they may not call it government-run. They're looking at language that calls it a co-op or something like that. But this is a legislative process that is still in its infancy.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Well, I think one of the reasons why health care seems to be blowing up this week is because the Congressional Budget Office, which is a nonpartisan organization, crunched the numbers, and they came up with $1.6 trillion over the next 10 years, but it would only insure one-third of that number who are currently uninsured, and that the number to cover everybody ultimately would be between $3 (trillion) and $4 trillion.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Over 10 years.

MS. CROWLEY: Over 10 years. So a lot of members of Congress, and in particular a lot of Democrats, including Blue Dog Democrats who are very worried about the deficit and blowing up the national debt, they're now saying, "Well, wait a minute. We cannot go down this road of a public option." And the latest I heard is that the Senate draft does exclude the public option, and they're going other ways like expanding coverage of Medicare.

MR. BUCHANAN: John --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You see that Tom Daschle, who was supposed to have been his health czar, has withdrawn his support for a public --

MS. CROWLEY: Right.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- a public option.

MS. CROWLEY: That's right.

MR. BUCHANAN: Monica's exactly right. And they had a big crisis meeting in the White House when these CBO numbers came out. Obama was really unsettled by this thing.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Meaning what, the --

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, you got, I mean, $1.6 trillion and only 16 million people covered. He said, "What's going on?" But the big problem Obama's got is the center of gravity is shifting. The national polls show Americans are much more concerned about the deficit than they ever were. They're over 50 percent more concerned about that than stimulating the economy. The Republicans have the bit in their teeth.

I think the question is going to come down to -- and Lawrence can talk to this -- whether Obama goes for pieces of what he wants or whether he tries to go whole hog, and this baby goes down just like Hillary-care.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know, on this 45 million figure, while it is true that they don't have insurance, it doesn't mean that they're without medical care.

MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: If you go to an emergency ward, they're not going to ask you for your insurance if you're in a motorcycle accident. MR. O'DONNELL: Well, they're going to ask for it.

MS. CLIFT: Oh, they ask for it, and then --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, they eventually do, but you're not deprived of care. So if you've got a system that now --

MS. CLIFT: But they bill somebody. They bill you.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- currently works, why do you want to change it?

MS. CLIFT: It doesn't work.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why do you want to run the risk of it?

MR. O'DONNELL: Well, you know, it does come from the two elements that you raised in your introduction, which is the expansion of coverage to people who are uninsured and the containment of costs. This has been a very, very bad week for health care reform. Monica is right; the CBO estimates have been devastating.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is that, $2.3 (trillion)?

MR. O'DONNELL: It's changed the schedule of what they're doing up there. The Finance Committee, where I used to work and was -- I was working on it when Hillary was trying to get her bill through -- in an unprecedented move, had to reschedule the introduction of their bill because they discovered it just wasn't (working ?) at all.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you see that interview with the head of the CBO? He says it's going to be a long, hard slog.

MR. O'DONNELL: The CBO's job -- the Congressional Budget Office's job is to tell you how much it will cost --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.

MR. O'DONNELL: -- and how it will work. They evaluate the actual likely function of this thing. And that's where a lot of bad news resides, beyond just the cost estimates.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Where do you come down?

MR. O'DONNELL: Well, right now it feels like Obama -- if this was the NBA playoffs, Obama's down 1-0 right now.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: That means no health care this year?

MR. O'DONNELL: No, no, no -- meaning we've got many more games to play and we'll know --

MR. BUCHANAN: But what is it going to be, the big one or the small one? MR. O'DONNELL: I think we'll know -- by the first week of August we'll know what's going to happen.

MS. CLIFT: It's going to be phased in -- whatever it is will be --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the small one?

MS. CLIFT: The small one is --

MR. O'DONNELL: He will compromise anything to get something.

MS. CLIFT: -- some expansion of care, especially down below people eligible for Medicare, and some expansion for kids' care up.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: We've got to get out.

MR. O'DONNELL: But Rahm Emanuel and Obama made it very clear they are going to compromise in whatever degree they have to to get a bill. That was something the Clintons were not willing to do.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: During the 2008 presidential campaign, Mr. Obama told Joe the Plumber he wanted to, quote-unquote, "spread the wealth around." Is the Obama policy an example of spreading the wealth around, namely, tax middle-class benefits to give coverage to the uninsured? Yes or no, Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: Frankly, it is -- as Lawrence has spoken, this is a socialist measure. There's no question about it.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, quickly.

MS. CLIFT: Well, so Medicare and Social Security --

MR. BUCHANAN: Yes, they are.

MS. CLIFT: -- are socialist too, and people seem to like that. Look, there's been a squeeze on the middle class, and a lot of people are fearful of losing their health insurance. They might be willing to pay a little extra on the gold-plated plans, let the execs pay a little in taxes, maybe a tax on soft drinks, in order to know that you have insurance that can't be taken away.

MS. CROWLEY: Obama is going to have to raise taxes to pay for this monstrosity, in whatever form it comes in, taxing your benefits or a value-added tax. And that would violate his pledge to not raise taxes on the middle class.

MR. O'DONNELL: If I'm stuck with the strict confines of your question, yes, this is redistributive.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: It is? MR. O'DONNELL: Yes, it is. But so is everything government does. It takes tax money from everyone, and benefits go out in different ways.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: How does a government plan affect the private insurance industry?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, if they have a government plan, as McConnell says, you have a government program. That's the end of the private insurers.

MR. O'DONNELL: Well, we already have a government plan called Medicare, which (has been ?) very good for the insurance industry.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does this contribute to the impression that Obama is clearly a clear and unmistakable liberal, a real liberal?

MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah.

MS. CROWLEY: Absolutely.

MS. CLIFT: I think a lot of people think that America should provide health care in a way that makes sense for most of its citizens.

If you want to call that liberal, I think he'd be proud to call it that.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, we have health care. We do have health care. You're talking about insurance.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, the more people look at this thing, the more -- they love the idea, everybody insured. But they look at the particulars, the more they recoil from it. That's what happened to Hillary-care.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do we have the best health care system in the world?

MR. BUCHANAN: Yes.

MS. CROWLEY: Yes, we do. And that's why everybody --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why tinker with it?

MS. CROWLEY: -- with resources wants to -- (inaudible).

MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who won the week?

MR. BUCHANAN: I think the Republicans won the week because of the deficit numbers and Barack Obama's numbers down and the problems with health care. It was not a good week for -- it was not a great week for Barack Obama. I think he's coming down to earth. But on issues, he's fallen in some cases below 50 percent, which is bad news.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: How about popularity?

MR. BUCHANAN: Personally, he's doing fine.

MS. CLIFT: Yes, his personal popularity is higher than his programs, because the issues he's taken on are complicated. When you try to do something, you get people angry, like Monica.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are the personal numbers vitiated by the position of the American public on some of his programs? MS. CROWLEY: I think, issue by issue, his poll numbers are coming down -- below 50 on the economy, on taxes, on the debt and the deficit. He's got a real problem.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are the Democrats a little worried?

MR. O'DONNELL: The Democrats are very, very worried. This is the first week --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?

MR. O'DONNELL: -- of extreme worry among the Democrats, yes.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wow. I can't improve on that.

MR. O'DONNELL: Because of the CBO reports on health care.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions, Pat. Be quick.

MR. BUCHANAN: Obama will be below 50 percent the first anniversary of his election.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty will do the right thing and seat Al Franken.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Oil will be at $90 a barrel by August 1st.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence.

MR. O'DONNELL: Senator-elect Al Franken will be sworn in in time to vote for Obama health care reform.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Chrysler will produce a car by the end of 2011 that will exceed 50 miles a gallon and cost less than $5,000.

Happy Father's Day. Bye-bye.

(PBS segment.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three: Lord of the Flies.

The sucker was an insect, a fly that was annoying President Obama for two swipes before he killed it in his bare hands during an interview on CNBC. The largest animal rights group -- get this -- in the world is PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. As for its views, a spokesperson for PETA said this. Quote: "I guess it can't be said that President Obama wouldn't hurt a fly. He swatted at the insect and killed the little guy instantly. He isn't the Buddha. He is a human being. And human beings have a long way to go before they think before they act," unquote.

With more than 20 million members, PETA works to increase awareness for animal rights through public education, cruelty investigation, animal rescue, legislation, special events, celebrity involvement and protest campaigns. PETA also uses fly traps that do not kill flies, but rather captures them in order to set them free.

Question: What would the dalai lama have done in Obama's place? I ask you, Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: The dalai lama would have patiently abided the fly, perhaps scooped up the fly, carried it outside, and let it go free.

What I find so interesting is that Obama is known for his Zen- like calm, and yet he was pretty brutal in that unceremonious murder of that poor creature.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think he was trying to be macho?

MS. CROWLEY: (Laughs.) No, I think -- you know, actually --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: If he were, what would he have done? He would have consumed the fly.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MS. CROWLEY: To answer that -- no, you mean eat the fly?

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eat the fly.

MS. CLIFT: With chocolate syrup?

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: If he were too macho.

MS. CROWLEY: No, he would not have eaten the fly. No, no. But what I think it says, on a serious note, Obama doesn't like to lose control in any situation. And when a situation comes to him that he can't feel that he can control, whether it's a fly or the Iranian protests, he reacts.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Here you go. Obama's a control freak.

MR. O'DONNELL: I disagree. There is no serious note in this story, none at all. I completely support the president in this particular engagement.

MS. CROWLEY: (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: On a serious note, if a fly is after you, most people's instinct would be to swat it away. But I must say, I am interested in getting one of those human fly catchers, because I do have trouble killing a fly in my house. I generally open the door, try to let him out, and others come in. So PETA does good work, but here they're opening themselves up for ridicule.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does this say anything about Obama's temperament?

MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah, he should not have killed the fly; just declare it an enemy combatant and send it to Guantanamo. (Laughs.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hey, what do you think those fly traps cost that PETA distributes?

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.) It's a couple of hundred bucks.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Follow the money, Pat. If you're not going to kill flies --

MR. BUCHANAN: Listen, when I was -- John, when you and I were kids --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and you're going to contain them in a cage, who --

MR. BUCHANAN: When you and I were kids, our parents used to unroll that fly paper and all the flies stuck to it, and then you took it out and put it in the garbage. (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: If PETA is on to a big money-making scheme by selling these humane fly traps, I'd say all the more power to them. I suspect it's not a big seller.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is Obama thin-skinned?

MR. O'DONNELL: I think it -- pardon me, but I thought it was a very reasonable action that the president took in that particular crisis.

MR. BUCHANAN: He was exasperated.

MR. O'DONNELL: I thought he handled it well.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does he want the government in any way to socialize fly control?

MS. CROWLEY: (Laughs.)

MR. BUCHANAN: No, no, no. This was individual initiative.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Another initiative?

MR. BUCHANAN: An individual initiative. DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, on insect control?

MR. BUCHANAN: No, he did it himself. He didn't wait for the government to come in.

MR. O'DONNELL: He didn't check with advisers.

MS. CROWLEY: John, what will come next is a brand new bureaucracy for fly control.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Should we blame the Republicans for this vicious attack on him? (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: No, I don't think --

MS. CROWLEY: The Republicans aren't that coordinated.

MS. CLIFT: -- this is going to get his poll ratings down to below 50 percent, like Pat Buchanan just predicted.



END.