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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN PANEL: RICH LOWRY, NATIONAL REVIEW; ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK; MONICA CROWLEY, SYNDICATED RADIO COMMENTATOR; CLARENCE PAGE, THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE TAPED: FRIDAY, JUNE 26, 2009 BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF JUNE 27-28, 2009

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DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Obama's Realignment?

PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA: (From videotape.) It's been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: So claimed the 44th president of the United States on election night eight months ago. Change certainly did come to America that night -- 365 electoral votes, Obama; 173, McCain. The ratio: Better than 2 to 1, an electoral landslide. That's change. That's mandate.

But is it realignment? Realignment is a sweeping shift in political dominance that continues for a number of years -- up to a generation, in fact -- generally defined as about 25 years; a generation, that is.

Is Barack Obama's presidency a realignment? Do his legislative initiatives of the past 150 days substantiate a realignment? You be the judge.

First, the enactments: Economic stimulus, $787 billion; budget plan, $3.4 trillion; bailouts, GM, Chrysler; Wall Street rescue, TARP -- T-A-R-P; credit card reform; tobacco; new regulations; gay partners of federal employees; some insurance benefits -- health insurance, children, $33 billion; higher fuel efficiency standards; stem cell research expanded funding. Those are enactments.

There's also the "OWL," the Obama Wish List: Health reform, $1 trillion; energy legislation, cap and trade, wealthy Americans plus corporations, higher taxes on; regulatory overhaul, financial sector; Free Choice Act, employees' card check for unions -- install it; "Don't ask, don't tell" policy, gays in the military -- repeal it.

Question: The classic meaning of a political realignment is that citizens switch party affiliation. They realign from one party to another. Is there any evidence of that in these 150 days? Rich Lowry.

MR. LOWRY: Well, the Republican Party is at a low ebb. But, look, they got shellacked in '06 and '08 for understandable reasons. They're associated with corruption, associated with an unpopular war and all the rest of it. I'm hoping they won't be corrupt in associating with an unpopular war forever.

And a lot depends just on how Obama performs. People wanted to give him a try. They thought he was fresh. He was new. He was exciting. But we'll know more very soon. And it just depends on whether his domestic agenda is passed, one, and is perceived to succeed, two. We just don't know yet.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: On an unpopular war, were you hinting at Obama's support for the Afghanistan action?

MR. LOWRY: No, no, no -- Iraq. People had -- they were sick of Iraq and they were sick of President Bush.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think Afghanistan could become his Iraq?

MR. LOWRY: Possibly. I doubt it, though. It would take massive opportunism on the part of Republicans and conservatives to turn against that war the way the left did against the Iraq war. So I don't see it happening.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, duration might be the way to do it, or it might come into play. Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Well, Obama's election marked the end of really 30 years of conservative/Republican dominance of ideas that began with the election of President Reagan. Before that, you had the dominance of Democratic New Deal ideas that were brought into power by FDR.

And what Obama is doing is he's using government to address national problems in the same way that FDR did. And if it works, I think he does usher in 30 years of Democratic dominance. But there are --

MR. LOWRY: Big if.

MS. CLIFT: -- a lot of ifs out there. I totally agree with you. But he's got to deliver.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, praise for Obama from John McCain.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ): (From videotape.) The president's had great legislative success.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Also a warning from John McCain.

SEN. MCCAIN: (From videotape.) But I think he's mortgaging our children and our grandchildren's future in an incredible fashion. The spending is completely out of control. We now own banks, other institutions, even automobile corporations.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Is Obama, as McCain states, mortgaging the future in order to deal with the present economic crisis? Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Softball question. Thanks for the puff ball, John. (Laughter.)

Yes. I mean, the litany of things that you laid out, with massive government intervention into all of these sectors and the huge expansion of the federal government here with the banks, the auto industry and so on.

What you're seeing now in the polls -- and I don't think you saw this in the November election; you didn't see a full-on realignment. And now, with all of this spending and all of this intervention, the voters that will make the difference one way or the other are independents. And what you're seeing now among independent voters is a heck of a lot of concern about the explosion of the national deficit as well as the national debt. They're not willing to go down this path. And even you see some pulling back now on support of health care reform because the spending is just too out of control.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: So the independents are bloating in number; they're not receding. That sounds like a dealignment. MS. CROWLEY: Well, it -- well, no, I'm not sure, because you don't see a change in percentages per se. But when you ask about a permanent majority, a permanent Democratic majority, to the extent that that's what we're looking at in a realignment, that is not the case.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think you --

MS. CROWLEY: But the administration is certainly trying to create that through --

MR. PAGE: Well, maybe I can help.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think you do see a shrinkage --

MR. PAGE: I think I can help you on this.

MS. CROWLEY: They're trying to create it through illegal immigration, reunionization of America, and also expanding the base that is dependent on the federal government.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: It does involve the shrinkage in numbers, though, if you have this pull-back from the independents.

MR. PAGE: Well, in fact, John, that pull-back -- actually, the pull-back from both parties --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes.

MR. PAGE: -- toward the independents has been going on for 30 years. And that is indicative of something that Obama is doing. He's not thinking in terms of shifting everybody to the Democratic Party. He's really energizing the middle, those swing voters, making the left more attractive, redeeming the word "liberal" and the whole idea of government involvement. And he's not actually expanding that many permanent bureaus, like, you know, Bush created the Department of Homeland Security. Obama is expanding Medicare, for example --

(Cross talk.)

MR. LOWRY: Wait a minute.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Before we move on, let's hear --

MR. PAGE: Well, let me explain a little something here --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, go ahead.

MR. PAGE: -- because I know you're going to jump on me saying, well, of course it's expanding government.

MS. CROWLEY: Of course it's expanding government.

MR. LOWRY: Let me jump on you on something else first.

MR. PAGE: He's expanding one of the most popular programs in our government, Medicare. And he's trying to get a public option that would cover everybody.

MR. LOWRY: Yeah.

MR. PAGE: And that is the sort of --

(Cross talk.) MR. PAGE: He's not getting push-back on that.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, he'll settle for about 16 percent.

Okay, let's hear what Newt Gingrich has to say about this.

FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER NEWT GINGRICH: (From videotape.) This is a big-spending, big-government, big-politician, big-bureaucracy administration.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does that sum it up?

MR. LOWRY: Yeah. A couple more "bigs" might have been even better.

MS. CROWLEY: (Laughs.) Right on.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: So you hear what he said.

MR. LOWRY: Going to what Clarence was saying, his numbers among independents are evening out. It's getting close to 50-50 approval. So he's not energizing that center any more, necessarily.

MR. PAGE: Well, you know why? Because the price tag is coming out. That was inevitable.

MR. LOWRY: Exactly.

MR. PAGE: Whatever you've got to pay for, people are going to say, "Wait a minute. I don't want to pay for it. I want it all free."

MR. LOWRY: And that's why he didn't pay for any of this.

MR. PAGE: But, you know, you've still got to sell it --

MR. LOWRY: That's why he didn't pay for a dime.

MR. PAGE: -- just like Franklin Roosevelt had to sell Social Security and these programs that we now take for granted today.

MR. LOWRY: But this is why --

MR. PAGE: And that's what a realignment is all about.

MR. LOWRY: This is why Obama is going to regret the stimulus, because it stoked this concern about the deficit that's going to be a drag on the much more important and enduring issue, which is health care.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You also failed to mention the possibility, real possibility, of inflation. MR. PAGE: Well, we saw this happen in the early '90s.

MR. LOWRY: Inflation is going to go up no matter what.

MS. CLIFT: He's not going to regret the stimulus, because the stimulus has actually prevented us from sliding into a depression.

MR. LOWRY: No, it hasn't.

(Cross talk.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, let her talk. Let her talk.

MS. CLIFT: We are still digging our way out of a very serious economic crisis.

MR. PAGE: Yes, we are.

MS. CLIFT: And Obama is spending a lot of money, and it's the one vulnerability, it's the one area that Republicans have found where they can exploit people's fears about spending.

MS. CROWLEY: Oh, come on.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.

MS. CLIFT: The responsibility --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let Monica in.

MS. CROWLEY: Okay listen --

MS. CLIFT: No, the responsibility of this president for the deficit -- a third of it is the economic cycle. A third of it is Bush's tax cuts -- $1.8 trillion over 10 years.

MS. CROWLEY: Here comes Bush.

MS. CLIFT: The bill that came -- excuse me. The bill that came in --

MR. PAGE: Who left us with the deficit? Who created the deficit?

MS. CLIFT: The bill --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: When in doubt, Eleanor, talk about George Bush. (Laughter.)

MS. CLIFT: The bill that came in on health care --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly. MS. CLIFT: -- is $1.6 trillion over 10 years.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know Bush's --

MS. CLIFT: Which would you rather have, Bush's tax cuts or health care?

MS. CROWLEY: All right. Okay --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: So this is all Bush.

MS. CLIFT: Two-thirds Bush.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Bush continues to run this country.

MS. CROWLEY: Bush left a $1 trillion deficit.

MS. CLIFT: He did.

MS. CROWLEY: That was horrifying enough. That doesn't give Obama the license to blow it up --

MR. PAGE: Yes, it does. (Laughs.

)

MS. CROWLEY: -- and quadruple --

MS. CLIFT: Yes, it does.

MS. CROWLEY: -- the deficit.

MR. PAGE: He's doing it.

MS. CROWLEY: Absolutely not.

MR. PAGE: But, you know, this reminds me of back in '92 when Ross Perot and others sensibly talked about how we're mortgaging our children's future. By 2000, we balanced the budget. You know, you can --

MS. CLIFT: The lesson --

(Cross talk.)

MS. CLIFT: The lesson --

(Cross talk.)

MS. CLIFT: Excuse me.

MR. PAGE: I'll be happy to tell you.

MS. CLIFT: Excuse me. The lesson of history is that when you're in a deep recession/depression, you spend to get out of it. And that's what's going on.

MR. LOWRY: When has that ever worked? When has that ever worked?

MS. CROWLEY: None of this spending has worked.

MS. CLIFT: He's been in office --

MR. PAGE: In six months? Oh, thanks, Monica. (Laughs.) DR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, all right.

MR. LOWRY: When has that ever worked?

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Cool it.

MR. LOWRY: When has big spending to get out of a recession ever worked?

MR. PAGE: Franklin Roosevelt.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question. We have to get out.

MR. LOWRY: When? When did it work? In World War II, when all the unemployed men were drafted --

MR. PAGE: That's government spending, wasn't it?

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Excuse me. Excuse me.

MR. PAGE: Wasn't that government spending?

MR. LOWRY: A conscription is different from spending. Come on.

MR. PAGE: Okay, you don't like the draft. I don't either. But that is how we got out of the Depression -- government spending.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, this is mob rule -- mob rule.

Exit question: Has Obama realigned the course of the federal government? Has he realigned the course of the federal government? Yes or no?

MR. LOWRY: Not yet fundamentally. That's what health care is about.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: But it's in progress.

MR. LOWRY: If he gets health care, then we're on a Euro- socialist path.

MS. CLIFT: Call it what you like. You can call Medicare --

MR. LOWRY: Euro-socialism. (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: -- and Social Security Euro-socialist. (If) he gets health care, it's going to be huge. And he is redefining the role of government in society. And the American people want it. Every poll shows --

MR. LOWRY: No, they don't. No, no.

MS. CLIFT: Oh, no. It shows they do. DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.

MR. PAGE: You know something?

MR. LOWRY: (Inaudible.)

MS. CROWLEY: They do not want the extreme path that Obama is on. Poll after poll shows that his support is slipping. His poll numbers are coming down issue by issue, because especially independents -- and there was a big Gallup poll this week that showed they didn't anticipate how far left and how liberal a president he would be. The spending that he's already put in place, none of it has worked. We're up to 9.4 percent unemployment after Obama said, "The stimulus will keep us down to 8 percent."

(Cross talk.)

MR. PAGE: Let the debate begin, as it has. I was (checking ?) this in October that support is going down for Obama. But the fact is, there is certain socialism that Americans like -- Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid. And that is what you're seeing. And if it was such a bad idea, why is the insurance industry so afraid of competition with a public option? Because they know the public option --

MR. LOWRY: Because they know the government will --

MR. PAGE: -- would win, because the public would prefer it.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is --

MR. LOWRY: Medicare does not charge doctors and hospitals --

MR. PAGE: That's why you want to decry the socialism, but it is a very popular idea.

MR. LOWRY: -- what the real price for (this stuff ?) is.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think he has realigned government.

MR. PAGE: Thank you.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think it's going to take decades to turn it around. And he reminds me of LBJ.

Issue Two: Crying In Argentina.

SOUTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR MARK SANFORD (R): (From videotape.) But the bottom line is this. I've been unfaithful to my wife. I hurt her. I hurt you all. I've spent the last five days of my life crying in Argentina. DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mark Sanford, the Republican governor of South Carolina, announced this week he had been having an affair for the last year with a woman in Argentina.

His announcement capped a tumultuous week for the rising GOP star. First, reports surfaced that Sanford had left South Carolina without telling anyone where he had gone. His wife said last weekend she had not heard from him, even though it was Father's Day and the couple has four young boys. His staff then said he had gone hiking on the Appalachian Trail. That didn't stand up.

When Sanford returned on Wednesday, he announced he had not gone to Appalachia, as he had told his staff, but instead had flown to Argentina to be with his mistress. At his emotional news conference, he apologized to his family, his staff and his constituents.

GOV. SANFORD: (From videotape.) I hurt a lot of different folks. And all I can say is that I apologize.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: And Sanford resigned from his post as chairman of the Republican Governors Association. Sanford had been considered a presidential contender in 2012.

Question: Who outed the governor, Mark Sanford? I ask you. You've been very forceful on this show. What's your answer to that? (Laughter.)

MR. PAGE: Maybe the same person who outed Fanne Foxe and Wilbur Mills. (Laughs.

) This was not the first American pol to fall to an Argentine lover here, you know. But, no, I know newspaper reporters had something to do with it. I think some investigative work went on when Sanford disappeared.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think it's as innocent as that?

MR. PAGE: Well, I don't know who their source was as far as, you know, originally tipping them off. But it is --

MS. CLIFT: I suspect the e-mails. I suspect the e-mails got out. He used the official South Carolina state website or his office website. And I think you also have a pretty angry wife here in the picture, and they apparently had been separated for a period of time. I guess she asked him to move out of the house.

But I must say, as a wise talk show woman, I feel some empathy for him. I mean, that press conference was not --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you saying more than you're saying?

MS. CLIFT: No, I'm saying that press conference was not your usual scripted affair where you take responsibility but you don't really take responsibility, and the wife standing stoically by the side. This guy was practically -- he was coming apart. He was fighting back tears. It was not a press conference that --

MR. LOWRY: That's Sanford. He's a very forthright guy and he's --

MS. CLIFT: -- you would have advised him to have.

MR. LOWRY: Yeah.

MS. CLIFT: And it tells me that if he can't manage an affair and manage the state of South Carolina, he has no business being a presidential candidate. So bye-bye, Mr. Sanford.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Should he resign? Should he resign the way Spitzer did, Eliot Spitzer, another governor? MR. LOWRY: He should. And it's not the affair. It's the dereliction of duty that was involved. It was the lies that were told to the public, one way or the other, over this. He should go.

MS. CROWLEY: You know, he --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: I don't think he should go. Why should he go?

MR. LOWRY: For the reasons I just outlined. You're a governor of a state --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Spitzer was also violating the law, because his involvement was with a prostitute, and prostitution is illegal.

MR. LOWRY: Right. But this is a governor going missing. This was the chief executive of a state. No one knows how to get in touch with him. That's a dereliction of duty.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you've got an additional crime in the case of Spitzer. You've got something more going on. There's no crime here.

MR. PAGE: There may have been public money involved.

MS. CLIFT: He may have spent public money.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Where's the crime?

MR. PAGE: There may have been public money involved in this affair. That's being investigated. But I think, John, you know, we're talking about in an era now in which especially the Republican Party has set a high bar for this sort of thing --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: If this were occurring in Paris, there would be no --

MR. PAGE: Oh, here we go to Paris again, John. Do you want to move to France here?

MR. LOWRY: (Laughs.)

MR. PAGE: You're in good old America here, fella.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is there something at work in our culture that reflects on this too hard?

MR. PAGE: I think the question of confidence --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to hear -- let's hear from Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Yeah. I mean, look, we are, I think, as a culture trying to strike the right balance between forgiveness and accountability when it comes to our public officials. Mark Sanford comes from a very socially conservative state, South Carolina. So it will be up to the people of that state to decide whether or not they want to forgive him and allow him --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know that he was -- you know Sanford was outed the same way Spitzer was outed.

MS. CROWLEY: In what sense, that somebody got hold of some incriminating e-mails?

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, who was there -- well, I mean, there are all kinds of possibilities.

MS. CROWLEY: But listen, John --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: The press is reporting that Bill Clinton was there three weeks before with his entourage -- with his entourage.

MS. CROWLEY: So Clinton was in Argentina and Sanford -- oh, and --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't think they talk in Argentina?

MS. CROWLEY: (Inaudible.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't think in Buenos Aires they don't thrive on gossip?

MS. CLIFT: Do they use fluoride in the water, John?

MS. CROWLEY: Mercury is in retrograde on that one, John.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you live in a nunnery?

MS. CLIFT: No, I don't. But I don't care --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Should Sanford follow Spitzer's precedent and resign as governor? Yes or no. And just give me a one- word answer.

MR. LOWRY: I'm sticking with my answer. Yes.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes or no?

MS. CLIFT: I think he'll probably be forced to resign.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that a yes, he should resign?

MS. CLIFT: Probably yes.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will he recover?

MS. CLIFT: (Inaudible) -- public money. DR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's a separate question.

MS. CROWLEY: I don't think so, because he looked so shaken and stunned in that press conference. I think he needs time away --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: He didn't resign. He was asked whether he was going to resign. He muted the question.

MS. CROWLEY: Right. And it will be up to the people --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Should he resign?

MR. PAGE: Like former Governor Blago, he should leave before he gets kicked out.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: I don't think he's going to get kicked out and I think he should not resign.

Issue Three: Lautenberg's List.

WAYNE LAPIERRE (president, National Rifle Association): (From videotape.) People should not be put on secret lists and denied their constitutional rights.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: The U.S. government maintains a terrorist watch list, better known as the no-fly list. The list was created by the Bush administration after the attacks of September 11 eight years ago. The no-fly list contains 400,000 names.

In the last five years, nearly 1,000 people on the list attempted to buy guns. About 900 of those were approved after individual background checks by gun store management. Those checks trumped the no-fly list.

New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg wants to change that. This week he proposed a bill that would stop the sale of guns of all 400,000 on the terrorist watch list. In a written statement, Lautenberg attacked the gun lobby, namely the NRA. "The special- interest gun lobby has so twisted our nation's laws that the rights of terrorists are placed above the safety of everyday Americans."

Not so fast, Senator. There may be a problem. A report by the Justice Department's inspector general finds that 24,000 of the 400,000 people on the terrorist watch list were on the list in error, including this eight-year-old boy.

(Begin videotaped segment.)

Q Are you a terrorist?

BOY: I don't know.

(End videotaped segment.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Chris W. Cox, the NRA's number one lobbyist, points to these reported 24,000 names as proof that banning gun sales to those on the list may not be justified. In a statement, Cox expressed his frustration. "To deny law-abiding people due process and their Second Amendment rights based on a secret list is not how we do things in America."

I want to invite that young man to do this show.

MR. PAGE: Indeed -- a rising talent.

MR. LOWRY: He'll listen to you, John.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is Frank Lautenberg's suggestion, his prescription, unconstitutional on its face?

MR. LOWRY: No, not on its face. It is constitutionally problematic because you have a constitutional right to buy a gun in a way you don't have a constitutional right necessarily to board a plane.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exactly.

MR. LOWRY: But I think there'll be a way to work this out.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think, Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: Reasonable gun restrictions are a good idea, and they're not unconstitutional.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: He wants all 400 (thousand).

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but the Democratic Congress is not going to take on this issue because the NRA is too powerful, and they've got too many other things to do. So it's not going anywhere, regardless.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean, they're craven. The Democrats are craven.

MS. CLIFT: I didn't say they're craven. They're politicians.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: They control both houses of Congress, and they're so craven they will not say this is unconstitutional.

MS. CLIFT: There are no votes to overturn NRA rules.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now that we know the Democrats are craven.

MS. CROWLEY: I will say that the Democrats are craven, yeah. (Laughs.) Look, there are two things going on. First, liberals like Lautenberg will take any opportunity to put the Second Amendment in a vise. And number two, you've really got to pay closer attention to who is on these watch lists, these terrorist watch lists, and get these erroneous names weeded out and get it narrowed down to actual terrorist suspects.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly. We're almost out of time.

MR. PAGE: This is true, but it's easy to apply to be taken off the watch list. The big problem is people who have the same names as somebody who legitimately is on the list. And it's not that big of an inconvenience to go and apply -- get approved to go buy a gun and go buy your gun, just like you would to board an airplane.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think it's worthy of constitutional challenge and probably it's unconstitutional.

Michael Steele is chairman of the Republican Party. Will he hold that post one year from November?

MR. LOWRY: No, he will not. DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: It depends on the results of the November election.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: November -- oh, really?

MS. CLIFT: Yes. (Laughs.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: He will be? He will be in the post? What do you say?

MS. CROWLEY: No, I don't think so.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: He'll be out?

MS. CROWLEY: Yeah.

MR. PAGE: I'm going to say he is, just to --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm going to say he will be.

Don't forget to follow us on Twitter. Bye-bye.

(PBS segment.)

Issue Four: Compassion Centers or Drug Dens?

WOMAN: (From videotape.) It helps my nervous system to calm down so that I can do basic things like that.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: The lady is from Rhode Island, and she's talking about the medical relief she gets from marijuana. The question is, where did she get the marijuana? Rhode Island this week became only the third state to legalize the sale of marijuana for medical usage. Like New Mexico and California, Rhode Island will now have licensed marijuana sellers or, quote-unquote, "compassion centers."

State lawmakers overrode the veto of the Republican governor, Donald Carcieri, who said, quote, "The increased availability, along with a complacent attitude, will no doubt result in increased usage and will negatively impact the children of Rhode Island," unquote.

The bill's sponsor, a cancer survivor himself, Democratic State Representative Tom Slater, weighed in on his victory.

STATE REPRESENTATIVE TOM SLATER (D-RI): (From videotape.) Who knows? Next time you talk to me, I may be smoking a marijuana cigarette.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: If there is a national health care reform bill, should it include the federal legalization of marijuana for medical usage? I ask you -- let's see -- Rich. MR. LOWRY: No, it shouldn't. I prefer a state-by-state approach. I support what's going on in states like Rhode Island. I think it is, in places like California especially, kind of a back-door decriminalization, which I think makes most sense. If you're going to address this from a public health perspective, you would end the marijuana prohibition and crack down further on cigarettes. And that's basically what's happening.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: Well, it really is becoming not even a back-door end of prohibition. It's virtually front door. The Supreme Court recently said even San Diego County and another county out in California that didn't want to go along with allowing drug clinics to open, marijuana clinics, has to go along with the state law. And this is the kind of thing that I think will show, you know, state by state, where -- every state where there's been a referendum, legalization for medicinal marijuana, has one. And it's something that is becoming more and more acceptable. And a lot of it is generational.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think Obama ought to get behind the legalization of marijuana for medical usage, inasmuch as it might drive down health costs?

MS. CROWLEY: I don't think so. And I don't think he wants to pick that fight.

There are so many other fights involved with health care reform -- it's such a huge, sprawling, complex thing that this is the last thing that President Obama needs. And I don't think you're going to see a lot of congressional Democrats going for it either.

MS. CLIFT: The only political figure who could dare to take this on is Governor Schwarzenegger in California, and he's kind of broached it. But even he understands there's so much political peril. But --

MR. PAGE: He has suggested taxing marijuana, legalizing it and taxing it.

MS. CLIFT: Absolutely. And it makes so much sense. And it would also take a lot of the criminal element out if you legalized it with marijuana that's coming across the border from Mexico. And why shouldn't the California farmers make some money? It's a great crop. (Laughter.) But we're not there yet. We will be there at some point.

MR. LOWRY: Sounds like a representative from the marijuana bureau. (Laughs.)

MR. PAGE: Sounds like an ad, you know.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Your magazine was founded and edited beautifully by William F. Buckley. He favored the legalization of medical marijuana, did he not?

MR. LOWRY: Yes, he did. Well, he went even further. He favored the legalization of drugs entirely. But medical marijuana -- I have a dear colleague on my staff, Rick Brookhiser, who had cancer, and said the only thing that would relieve the nausea was marijuana. So this does have a legitimate medical use for some folks.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Has the magazine taken a position on it?

MR. LOWRY: Yes. We favor decriminalization of marijuana.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You do?

MR. LOWRY: Yes, sir.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about Walter Cronkite? Doesn't he favor it too? MR. LOWRY: That I don't know.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: I believe he does. What about George Shultz, the former secretary of State?

MS. CLIFT: I think he does too. Maybe this is the one issue where Democrats and Republicans can agree. But it still isn't going to happen because there's too much emotion on both sides.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: How about Milton Friedman, the exalted economist?

MR. PAGE: Yeah.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: He favors the decriminalization, the legalization of medical marijuana, does he not?

MR. PAGE: He did.

MS. CLIFT: Yes, but he's not a voting member of the Senate.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, does that move us all?

MR. PAGE: Well, not everybody, but a lot of it is generational, John. You know, us boomers are coming along who kind of normalized marijuana back in the '60s.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: The drug policy alliance has probably flowered with another array of prominent people, correct?

MS. CROWLEY: Yeah, there are a lot of prominent names out there supporting it. I think really the question is, how do you stop marijuana just simply being used for medical purposes and not flowing into other areas? Because it is widely considered a gateway drug.

MR. PAGE: But that's kind of like saying --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that marijuana has --

MS. CROWLEY: How do you limit it to just that and not keep it from spreading to children?

MR. PAGE: That's kind of like saying how do you stop kids from drinking beer and wine? You don't. But it's still against the law.

MS. CROWLEY: But I think that's a legitimate question, which is why --

MR. PAGE: Of course.

MS. CROWLEY: -- it's coming up in the states. MR. PAGE: And that's why it's better to control it by legalizing it and regulating it and taxing it than by letting the underground do all of it.

MS. CLIFT: You regulate it and you make it very expensive.

MR. PAGE: You got it.

MS. CLIFT: That's the answer.



END.

, his staff and his constituents.

GOV. SANFORD: (From videotape.) I hurt a lot of different folks. And all I can say is that I apologize.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: And Sanford resigned from his post as chairman of the Republican Governors Association. Sanford had been considered a presidential contender in 2012.

Question: Who outed the governor, Mark Sanford? I ask you. You've been very forceful on this show. What's your answer to that? (Laughter.)

MR. PAGE: Maybe the same person who outed Fanne Foxe and Wilbur Mills. (Laughs.

) This was not the first American pol to fall to an Argentine lover here, you know. But, no, I know newspaper reporters had something to do with it. I think some investigative work went on when Sanford disappeared.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think it's as innocent as that?

MR. PAGE: Well, I don't know who their source was as far as, you know, originally tipping them off. But it is --

MS. CLIFT: I suspect the e-mails. I suspect the e-mails got out. He used the official South Carolina state website or his office website. And I think you also have a pretty angry wife here in the picture, and they apparently had been separated for a period of time. I guess she asked him to move out of the house.

But I must say, as a wise talk show woman, I feel some empathy for him. I mean, that press conference was not --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you saying more than you're saying?

MS. CLIFT: No, I'm saying that press conference was not your usual scripted affair where you take responsibility but you don't really take responsibility, and the wife standing stoically by the side. This guy was practically -- he was coming apart. He was fighting back tears. It was not a press conference that --

MR. LOWRY: That's Sanford. He's a very forthright guy and he's --

MS. CLIFT: -- you would have advised him to have.

MR. LOWRY: Yeah.

MS. CLIFT: And it tells me that if he can't manage an affair and manage the state of South Carolina, he has no business being a presidential candidate. So bye-bye, Mr. Sanford.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Should he resign? Should he resign the way Spitzer did, Eliot Spitzer, another governor? MR. LOWRY: He should. And it's not the affair. It's the dereliction of duty that was involved. It was the lies that were told to the public, one way or the other, over this. He should go.

MS. CROWLEY: You know, he --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: I don't think he should go. Why should he go?

MR. LOWRY: For the reasons I just outlined. You're a governor of a state --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Spitzer was also violating the law, because his involvement was with a prostitute, and prostitution is illegal.

MR. LOWRY: Right. But this is a governor going missing. This was the chief executive of a state. No one knows how to get in touch with him. That's a dereliction of duty.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you've got an additional crime in the case of Spitzer. You've got something more going on. There's no crime here.

MR. PAGE: There may have been public money involved.

MS. CLIFT: He may have spent public money.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Where's the crime?

MR. PAGE: There may have been public money involved in this affair. That's being investigated. But I think, John, you know, we're talking about in an era now in which especially the Republican Party has set a high bar for this sort of thing --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: If this were occurring in Paris, there would be no --

MR. PAGE: Oh, here we go to Paris again, John. Do you want to move to France here?

MR. LOWRY: (Laughs.)

MR. PAGE: You're in good old America here, fella.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is there something at work in our culture that reflects on this too hard?

MR. PAGE: I think the question of confidence --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to hear -- let's hear from Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Yeah. I mean, look, we are, I think, as a culture trying to strike the right balance between forgiveness and accountability when it comes to our public officials. Mark Sanford comes from a very socially conservative state, South Carolina. So it will be up to the people of that state to decide whether or not they want to forgive him and allow him --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know that he was -- you know Sanford was outed the same way Spitzer was outed.

MS. CROWLEY: In what sense, that somebody got hold of some incriminating e-mails?

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, who was there -- well, I mean, there are all kinds of possibilities.

MS. CROWLEY: But listen, John --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: The press is reporting that Bill Clinton was there three weeks before with his entourage -- with his entourage.

MS. CROWLEY: So Clinton was in Argentina and Sanford -- oh, and --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't think they talk in Argentina?

MS. CROWLEY: (Inaudible.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't think in Buenos Aires they don't thrive on gossip?

MS. CLIFT: Do they use fluoride in the water, John?

MS. CROWLEY: Mercury is in retrograde on that one, John.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you live in a nunnery?

MS. CLIFT: No, I don't. But I don't care --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Should Sanford follow Spitzer's precedent and resign as governor? Yes or no. And just give me a one- word answer.

MR. LOWRY: I'm sticking with my answer. Yes.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes or no?

MS. CLIFT: I think he'll probably be forced to resign.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that a yes, he should resign?

MS. CLIFT: Probably yes.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will he recover?

MS. CLIFT: (Inaudible) -- public money. DR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's a separate question.

MS. CROWLEY: I don't think so, because he looked so shaken and stunned in that press conference. I think he needs time away --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: He didn't resign. He was asked whether he was going to resign. He muted the question.

MS. CROWLEY: Right. And it will be up to the people --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Should he resign?

MR. PAGE: Like former Governor Blago, he should leave before he gets kicked out.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: I don't think he's going to get kicked out and I think he should not resign.

Issue Three: Lautenberg's List.

WAYNE LAPIERRE (president, National Rifle Association): (From videotape.) People should not be put on secret lists and denied their constitutional rights.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: The U.S. government maintains a terrorist watch list, better known as the no-fly list. The list was created by the Bush administration after the attacks of September 11 eight years ago. The no-fly list contains 400,000 names.

In the last five years, nearly 1,000 people on the list attempted to buy guns. About 900 of those were approved after individual background checks by gun store management. Those checks trumped the no-fly list.

New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg wants to change that. This week he proposed a bill that would stop the sale of guns of all 400,000 on the terrorist watch list. In a written statement, Lautenberg attacked the gun lobby, namely the NRA. "The special- interest gun lobby has so twisted our nation's laws that the rights of terrorists are placed above the safety of everyday Americans."

Not so fast, Senator. There may be a problem. A report by the Justice Department's inspector general finds that 24,000 of the 400,000 people on the terrorist watch list were on the list in error, including this eight-year-old boy.

(Begin videotaped segment.)

Q Are you a terrorist?

BOY: I don't know.

(End videotaped segment.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Chris W. Cox, the NRA's number one lobbyist, points to these reported 24,000 names as proof that banning gun sales to those on the list may not be justified. In a statement, Cox expressed his frustration. "To deny law-abiding people due process and their Second Amendment rights based on a secret list is not how we do things in America."

I want to invite that young man to do this show.

MR. PAGE: Indeed -- a rising talent.

MR. LOWRY: He'll listen to you, John.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is Frank Lautenberg's suggestion, his prescription, unconstitutional on its face?

MR. LOWRY: No, not on its face. It is constitutionally problematic because you have a constitutional right to buy a gun in a way you don't have a constitutional right necessarily to board a plane.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exactly.

MR. LOWRY: But I think there'll be a way to work this out.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think, Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: Reasonable gun restrictions are a good idea, and they're not unconstitutional.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: He wants all 400 (thousand).

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but the Democratic Congress is not going to take on this issue because the NRA is too powerful, and they've got too many other things to do. So it's not going anywhere, regardless.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean, they're craven. The Democrats are craven.

MS. CLIFT: I didn't say they're craven. They're politicians.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: They control both houses of Congress, and they're so craven they will not say this is unconstitutional.

MS. CLIFT: There are no votes to overturn NRA rules.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now that we know the Democrats are craven.

MS. CROWLEY: I will say that the Democrats are craven, yeah. (Laughs.) Look, there are two things going on. First, liberals like Lautenberg will take any opportunity to put the Second Amendment in a vise. And number two, you've really got to pay closer attention to who is on these watch lists, these terrorist watch lists, and get these erroneous names weeded out and get it narrowed down to actual terrorist suspects.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly. We're almost out of time.

MR. PAGE: This is true, but it's easy to apply to be taken off the watch list. The big problem is people who have the same names as somebody who legitimately is on the list. And it's not that big of an inconvenience to go and apply -- get approved to go buy a gun and go buy your gun, just like you would to board an airplane.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think it's worthy of constitutional challenge and probably it's unconstitutional.

Michael Steele is chairman of the Republican Party. Will he hold that post one year from November?

MR. LOWRY: No, he will not. DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: It depends on the results of the November election.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: November -- oh, really?

MS. CLIFT: Yes. (Laughs.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: He will be? He will be in the post? What do you say?

MS. CROWLEY: No, I don't think so.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: He'll be out?

MS. CROWLEY: Yeah.

MR. PAGE: I'm going to say he is, just to --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm going to say he will be.

Don't forget to follow us on Twitter. Bye-bye.

(PBS segment.)

Issue Four: Compassion Centers or Drug Dens?

WOMAN: (From videotape.) It helps my nervous system to calm down so that I can do basic things like that.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: The lady is from Rhode Island, and she's talking about the medical relief she gets from marijuana. The question is, where did she get the marijuana? Rhode Island this week became only the third state to legalize the sale of marijuana for medical usage. Like New Mexico and California, Rhode Island will now have licensed marijuana sellers or, quote-unquote, "compassion centers."

State lawmakers overrode the veto of the Republican governor, Donald Carcieri, who said, quote, "The increased availability, along with a complacent attitude, will no doubt result in increased usage and will negatively impact the children of Rhode Island," unquote.

The bill's sponsor, a cancer survivor himself, Democratic State Representative Tom Slater, weighed in on his victory.

STATE REPRESENTATIVE TOM SLATER (D-RI): (From videotape.) Who knows? Next time you talk to me, I may be smoking a marijuana cigarette.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: If there is a national health care reform bill, should it include the federal legalization of marijuana for medical usage? I ask you -- let's see -- Rich. MR. LOWRY: No, it shouldn't. I prefer a state-by-state approach. I support what's going on in states like Rhode Island. I think it is, in places like California especially, kind of a back-door decriminalization, which I think makes most sense. If you're going to address this from a public health perspective, you would end the marijuana prohibition and crack down further on cigarettes. And that's basically what's happening.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: Well, it really is becoming not even a back-door end of prohibition. It's virtually front door. The Supreme Court recently said even San Diego County and another county out in California that didn't want to go along with allowing drug clinics to open, marijuana clinics, has to go along with the state law. And this is the kind of thing that I think will show, you know, state by state, where -- every state where there's been a referendum, legalization for medicinal marijuana, has one. And it's something that is becoming more and more acceptable. And a lot of it is generational.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think Obama ought to get behind the legalization of marijuana for medical usage, inasmuch as it might drive down health costs?

MS. CROWLEY: I don't think so. And I don't think he wants to pick that fight.

There are so many other fights involved with health care reform -- it's such a huge, sprawling, complex thing that this is the last thing that President Obama needs. And I don't think you're going to see a lot of congressional Democrats going for it either.

MS. CLIFT: The only political figure who could dare to take this on is Governor Schwarzenegger in California, and he's kind of broached it. But even he understands there's so much political peril. But --

MR. PAGE: He has suggested taxing marijuana, legalizing it and taxing it.

MS. CLIFT: Absolutely. And it makes so much sense. And it would also take a lot of the criminal element out if you legalized it with marijuana that's coming across the border from Mexico. And why shouldn't the California farmers make some money? It's a great crop. (Laughter.) But we're not there yet. We will be there at some point.

MR. LOWRY: Sounds like a representative from the marijuana bureau. (Laughs.)

MR. PAGE: Sounds like an ad, you know.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Your magazine was founded and edited beautifully by William F. Buckley. He favored the legalization of medical marijuana, did he not?

MR. LOWRY: Yes, he did. Well, he went even further. He favored the legalization of drugs entirely. But medical marijuana -- I have a dear colleague on my staff, Rick Brookhiser, who had cancer, and said the only thing that would relieve the nausea was marijuana. So this does have a legitimate medical use for some folks.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Has the magazine taken a position on it?

MR. LOWRY: Yes. We favor decriminalization of marijuana.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You do?

MR. LOWRY: Yes, sir.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about Walter Cronkite? Doesn't he favor it too? MR. LOWRY: That I don't know.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: I believe he does. What about George Shultz, the former secretary of State?

MS. CLIFT: I think he does too. Maybe this is the one issue where Democrats and Republicans can agree. But it still isn't going to happen because there's too much emotion on both sides.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: How about Milton Friedman, the exalted economist?

MR. PAGE: Yeah.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: He favors the decriminalization, the legalization of medical marijuana, does he not?

MR. PAGE: He did.

MS. CLIFT: Yes, but he's not a voting member of the Senate.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, does that move us all?

MR. PAGE: Well, not everybody, but a lot of it is generational, John. You know, us boomers are coming along who kind of normalized marijuana back in the '60s.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: The drug policy alliance has probably flowered with another array of prominent people, correct?

MS. CROWLEY: Yeah, there are a lot of prominent names out there supporting it. I think really the question is, how do you stop marijuana just simply being used for medical purposes and not flowing into other areas? Because it is widely considered a gateway drug.

MR. PAGE: But that's kind of like saying --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that marijuana has --

MS. CROWLEY: How do you limit it to just that and not keep it from spreading to children?

MR. PAGE: That's kind of like saying how do you stop kids from drinking beer and wine? You don't. But it's still against the law.

MS. CROWLEY: But I think that's a legitimate question, which is why --

MR. PAGE: Of course.

MS. CROWLEY: -- it's coming up in the states. MR. PAGE: And that's why it's better to control it by legalizing it and regulating it and taxing it than by letting the underground do all of it.

MS. CLIFT: You regulate it and you make it very expensive.

MR. PAGE: You got it.

MS. CLIFT: That's the answer.



END.