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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN PANEL: PATRICK BUCHANAN, MSNBC; ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK; MARK TAPSCOTT, WASHINGTON EXAMINER; CLARENCE PAGE, CHICAGO TRIBUNE TAPED: FRIDAY, JULY 10, 2009 BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF JULY 11-12, 2009

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DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Russia Reboots.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: (From videotape.) We've made meaningful progress in demonstrating through deeds and words what a more constructive U.S.-Russian relationship can look like in the 21st century.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: On Monday in Moscow, President Obama met with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, the first summit in seven years with the Russians. The goal this time was to build a detente, an openness or glasnost, the word used by Mikhail Gorbachev in his 1986 glasnost with Ronald Reagan. The centerpiece of the current reboot: An agreement that both countries will cut their nuclear warheads by one-third, from 2,200 warheads to 1,600, roughly. But both nations are cautious.

RUSSIAN PRESIDENT DMITRY MEDVEDEV (Through interpreter): (From videotape.) Despite of the fact that in several hours we cannot remove the burden of all the problems, we have agreed that we will go forward without stopping.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Chief among the, quote, "burden of all problems," unquote, is perceived encroachment. Both America and Russia are militarily involved in each other's backyards.

Obama, like his predecessor, George W. Bush, wants an anti- missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic, the backyard of Russia. And Dmitry Medvedev and his predecessor and current prime minister, Vladimir Putin, has exported Russia's military presence to Latin America, our backyard.

With Medvedev, it's a fleet of 1,600 naval officers and three warships conducting exercises off the Venezuelan coast late last year. And earlier this year, Russia also exhibited its interest in using Venezuela and Cuba for bases for strategic bombers. And Russia is now supplying $150 million in military helicopters to Bolivia and $4 billion -- repeat, $4 billion -- in military hardware to Venezuela. Both Bolivia's Morales and Venezuela's Chavez are tight with Russia and with each other.

Question: What advantage does this mutual nuclear warhead agreement give to the U.S.? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: Not much at all, John. And I hope we're not going to cut delivery systems. I'm less worried about warheads.

Let me say this. You've got that -- what you put up there is the Russians are clearly reacting to what we did in the 1990s. Reagan, of course, called it the evil empire and was being patted on the back in Red Square. We had a tremendous relationship. We've moved NATO into their front porch and into their backyard. We've tried to cut them out of the oil of the Caspian. We've put missiles in Eastern Europe, anti-missile missiles. We've helped dump over governments in Ukraine and Georgia and tried to do it in Belarus. They are reacting very hostilely to what the United States did in the 1990s and under George W. Bush.

I give Barack credit. I think he's been open. He's got an authoritarian he's dealing with in Putin, a tough customer who feels that Russia was really had in the 1990s. So I think Barack is on the right course. But I don't put too much stock in this agreement.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, Russia is also modernizing its submarine fleet, so maybe the savings that it incurs by getting rid of warehousing the old missiles -- MR. BUCHANAN: This is --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- which they have to keep up in some kind of usable state, they save that and they put it right into submarines.

MR. BUCHANAN: You're exactly right, John, in the sense that this is great news for Russia, because they'd have to maintain all these land-based, sea-based missiles. They don't have the money. We do.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Well, it's also great news for us, because there's a lot of loose nukes floating around the old Soviet Union and Russia, and that can only pose the danger of getting into the wrong hands. And President Obama didn't give away anything. We still have enough, you know, warheads to destroy the world many times over. And they are expensive to keep up.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Sixteen hundred.

MS. CLIFT: They're expensive to keep up in this country too. And last time I checked, our economy wasn't doing so well. But what this agreement mostly gives him is some moral high ground, because he's got his eye on trying to keep Iran from going nuclear, and it's very difficult to try to persuade other nations not to become nuclear powers when you're sitting atop the huge arsenal. So it gives him some bragging rights going forward towards his goal, however unrealistic it may sound today, towards a nuclear-free world.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that Obama changed Russia's thinking, Medvedev's thinking, about NATO expansion?

MR. TAPSCOTT: Not one iota. The problem with this is not the numbers -- 1,600, 2,000 nuclear missiles. It doesn't really make that much of a difference in terms of the numbers. What makes the difference is are we maintaining what we have, however many we have? We aren't. They are.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?

MR. TAPSCOTT: Absolutely.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean, we're not servicing these old warheads?

MR. TAPSCOTT: We do not research. We haven't conducted a test to make sure that they still function, I think, in nine years.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: And didn't we have a security problem with one of them being flown out --

MR. TAPSCOTT: On a B-52. DR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and discovered later?

MR. TAPSCOTT: Yes, yes.

MR. BUCHANAN: Six of them, John.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can you add to this tale of woe?

MR. PAGE: We've had several security problems there, John; that's right. But I think there's an advantage to us in that we too can save some money on these systems. We've always had more nukes than we needed. And the real threat posed by Russia to Western Europe is not what it used to be, to say the least.

All this posturing that Russia is doing with Venezuela, kind of doing their replay of the Cuban missile crisis without the nuclear warheads, is largely designed to try to increase their leverage with us.

It was interesting to me that Obama wasn't greeted in the streets with big crowds in Moscow like he was in Paris or London or Berlin, because Russians see him -- "Hey, one more American president coming over here to fleece us."

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay.

MR. PAGE: "What's in this deal for us?" is what they're thinking about. And that's what's important, because we need Russia to help us with Iran right now.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that their Latin American presence, what was described in that brilliant set-up --

MR. PAGE: Brilliant, indeed, John.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- do you think that that's motivated only by playing tit for tat with the United States? Or are the Russians concerned, as we are, with the growing Chinese presence in our hemisphere?

MR. PAGE: They can play it both ways, as they always have. They're very concerned about China. At the same time, they're concerned about us getting too big for our breeches. And they don't want those missiles in Poland and the Czech Republic.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is there any concern about --

MR. PAGE: So they say, "Okay, let's put some missiles in the Caribbean and see how you like it," just like the '60s again.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: This game can be moved a little further. Is there any concern by Russia of China's presence in -- maybe that's an overstatement -- it's desires on Siberia, where there is oil? Do you understand me? MR. BUCHANAN: Yep.

MS. CLIFT: It's a race --

MR. BUCHANAN: John --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: And they therefore want to restrain China --

MR. BUCHANAN: Russia is using --

MS. CLIFT: It's a race for resources, and it's about oil. And I think it's fascinating that the American government is standing up in opposition to the coup in Honduras, even though the displaced president is a buddy of the Venezuelan president.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right. We're on Chavez's side.

MR. PAGE: Yeah.

MR. BUCHANAN: John --

MS. CLIFT: But it takes away Chavez's argument that we're somehow over there with the CIA doing things that we've done in the past. So I think it's smart diplomatically.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, to your point, you are exactly right. Russia is losing population at the rate of 750,000 to a million people a year. You take the Russians east of the Ural Mountains all the way over to the Pacific; there's a few million of them out there. That's the last great storehouse of oil, timber, gas, gold, all the things you can think of.

The Chinese are moving in there, crossing the border as immigrants, moving into that area. That is going to be one of the great collisions. And the fact that Russia is fooling around in Latin America, where it's got no interest, is tit for tat.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you want to pick up any of this, Mark?

MR. TAPSCOTT: It's not China, though obviously Russia has to be concerned about China. It is simply because superpowers always play in each others' backyards, and that is what this is about.

MR. PAGE: The Uighur crisis as well.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: High noon for Iran.

The other big international news this week: Time is ticking for Iran. G-8 leaders gave Iran until September to, quote-unquote, "compromise on its nuclear program or face greater sanctions." PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) We're not going to just wait indefinitely and allow for the developing of a nuclear weapon. So my hope is that the Iranian leadership will look at the statement coming out of the G-8 and recognize that world opinion is clear.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Was President Obama's stern warning to Iran made possible because of Ahmadinejad's disputed election win and the ensuing Iran state brutality? Eleanor Clift.

MS. CLIFT: Well, the European allies were actually more outspoken in condemning the Iranian government. And so I think it was easy for President Obama to get what you call the stern warning from a consensus of these nations. But they stopped short of calling for sanctions. And so I think he's still leaving the door open, as he put it, if Iran wants to walk through the door and engage. The outstretched hand is still there on the part of the Americans.

MR. BUCHANAN: They're not going to be able to get U.N. sanctions. I don't think the Russians or Chinese are going to go along. There is legislation, as you know, John, in the Congress of the United States -- very, very tough stuff which would cut off gasoline or punish companies that sold gasoline to Iran. Forty percent of their gasoline is imported. My guess is they're going to push in that direction.

I don't know why Obama's doing this, because I don't see how the Iranians can say, "By September we're going to get going." I think that's a deadline and a mistake.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. President Obama, what do you think about Vladimir Putin?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) I think this is a very smart, very tough, very unsentimental person.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Vladimir Putin is unsentimental. (Laughter.) There's news there, huh?

MR. TAPSCOTT: Unfortunately --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that was an appropriate balance of diplomacy with accuracy?

MR. TAPSCOTT: I think it was unfortunately an indication of the fact that, in some critical areas, President Obama does not have the kind of experience and ability to take the kind of position that is needed --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, now, wait a minute.

MR. TAPSCOTT: -- to put somebody like Putin --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: George W. Bush -- MR. TAPSCOTT: -- on the spot.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: George W. Bush looked into Putin's eyes and he said that --

MR. BUCHANAN: He saw his soul. (Laughs.)

MR. TAPSCOTT: Yes, indeed.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, President Obama, what do you think about Dmitry Medvedev?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) I found him to be straightforward, professional. He is clear about the interests of the Russian people, but he's also interested in finding out what the interests of the United States are.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question to you, Clarence: Do you think that's a good balance between diplomacy and precision on the president's part in his description of Medvedev?

MR. PAGE: For the time being, I think Obama is kind of holding his position right now in regard to these Russian leaders.

I thought it was interesting his outreach to Gorby, earlier presidents, kind of like Gorbachev --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean, glasnost?

MR. PAGE: Yeah, sort of isolated out there, you know. But here Obama is bringing him back in.

MS. CLIFT: Well, I thought --

MR. BUCHANAN: He made a mistake, John, when he said Putin's got one foot in the Cold War. (Laughs.) That may be true, but you don't say something like that.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's right. He did say that. Good point. Exit question --

MS. CLIFT: I don't know if that's a mistake. I mean, I think he did everything he could --

MR. BUCHANAN: You don't say that about a foreign leader. (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: Well, he did everything he could to build up Medvedev. And I think he acknowledges there are two powers, because he did meet with Putin as well. So he's dealing with two people. He clearly would prefer to deal with Medvedev, who doesn't come directly out of the KGB.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: On a reset scale, zero to 10, zero meaning zero reset -- computer frozen solid -- and 10 meaning total reset, hard drive clean -- rate how much Obama changed the U.S. relationship with Russia.

MR. BUCHANAN: Three.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Three?

MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah. I don't think it's very extensive.

MS. CLIFT: I put it between five and six, I think, because he does want to end the old Cold War and doesn't want to start a new Cold War. But it's still pretty chilly over there. DR. MCLAUGHLIN: He was pretty skillful, though, wasn't he?

MS. CLIFT: I thought it was.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mark.

MR. TAPSCOTT: Five, but it's headed to four and probably worse.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: I'm more in that four to five bracket as well. I don't think it moved us that much. But, you know, he showed that we are consistent in this country, even if our leaders change.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: The correct answer is five. You two closest to me are correct. (Laughter.) It was a reboot --

MR. BUCHANAN: Buchanan is too pessimistic.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- but it was not a reset.

Issue Two: Sarah's Way.

ALASKA GOVERNOR SARAH PALIN (R): (From videotape.) With this announcement that I'm not seeking re-election, I've determined it's best to transfer the authority of governor to Lieutenant Governor Parnell.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Two seminal decisions last week from Sarah Palin, Alaska governor: One, she will not seek re-election for 2010; two, she will resign as governor effective in two weeks, the 26th. Three days after her announcement, the governor was asked whether the 26th of July would, in fact, turn out to be the end of her political career. Palin was philosophical, even fatalistic.

GOV. PALIN: (From videotape.) You know, politically speaking, if I die, I die. So be it.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Was Sarah Palin hounded from office by the Democrats? Was she driven out? Did she do the only thing that was feasible? I ask you, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah, I think basically she did do the only thing that was feasible. I don't think she handled it well. Her problem is this. She's $500,000 in debt answering these silly --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why? Why?

MR. BUCHANAN: -- ethics charges which the Democrats keep throwing at her.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: How many suits were brought against her? MR. BUCHANAN: There are 16 or 17 charges. They've thrown out, I think, all but one of them.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, I believe there are 30 suits that were brought against her, and only two have any validity.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, none of them have any validity. But frankly, she's got five kids. One of the kids has Down Syndrome. She's got to help raise her grandchild there.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: How much money has she spent on lawyers?

MR. BUCHANAN: Personal things. It's $500,000. And what she did -- they're hassling her in the legislature, and what she's saying is, "Look, this lieutenant governor gets a leg up to nomination and election. He can do the job."

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who can tell me what her total assets are, her net worth?

MS. CLIFT: It's going to be a lot more than it is, now that she's penning a $7 million book deal. Don't cry for Sarah.

MR. BUCHANAN: She's got -- they're very mean to Sarah.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: She has $1.2 million in net worth, and that includes her husband's business holdings.

MR. PAGE: Does that include her --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: So take away $700,000 --

MS. CLIFT: She's about to cash in on the lecture circuit, presumably.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does she have any other feasible alternative except --

MS. CLIFT: Sure. She could have finished the job that she was elected to do.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: How could she finish the job when she's being kept hounded by suits from your party?

MS. CLIFT: I think the Republicans are not her friends in Alaska either.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: But they're not bringing suits against her.

MS. CLIFT: And, look, you know, she made the right decision for her pocketbook. I don't know that she made the right decision for her political future. But she will be a sidekick for right-wing conservative candidates, but she will not be invited to campaign for the Republican who wants to be governor of Virginia or the governor of New Jersey.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can you account for what --

MS. CLIFT: She is radioactive in parts of the Republican Party.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, I won't describe it as vehemence, but there is vehemence against this woman. Can you describe why it exists?

MR. TAPSCOTT: That was civil.

MS. CLIFT: This is analysis.

MR. TAPSCOTT: That was civil compared to what --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: I know, but it was passionate enough. Why are they so worked up about this woman?

MR. TAPSCOTT: Here's why. Here's why. You said her net assets are $1.2 million. You missed the biggest, the most important net asset. She connects with America, common-sense conservative America, like nobody has since Ronald Reagan. And that --

MS. CLIFT: Twenty percent of the country. (Laughs.

)

MR. TAPSCOTT: -- terrifies --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: She's blue collar. She is blue collar.

MR. TAPSCOTT: She is common-sense conservative.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did she go to a state university?

MR. TAPSCOTT: Yes.

MR. BUCHANAN: Idaho State.

MR. TAPSCOTT: So what?

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: We have a big cultural difference between the aristocratic -- that group within the Democratic Party --

MR. TAPSCOTT: The literati cannot stand her.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: The elite --

MR. BUCHANAN: She is middle America, John.

MS. CLIFT: Hey, I --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's hear Pat. Let's hear Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: She is middle American. She is attractive. She's a woman. She's pro-life. She's a pace car babe, rodeo queen, John. That's why they love her.

MR. PAGE: She's also not alone in those demographics. You know, I come from --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: She --

MR. PAGE: John, I want to speak up for middle Americans that went to state schools. And I come from John Boehner's district, the original Middletown, Ohio. And I want to tell you, I've got so many Republican women friends back there who, after the Katie Couric interview, called me to say, "Where's our Barack Obama headquarters?" It was incredible. There was this flip. And I'm hearing the biggest criticism of her coming from Republicans. I mean, Democrats enjoy her. I hear of them talking about how they hope she does run again.

MR. BUCHANAN: But Clarence, at the end of the campaign, she's the only one who's getting out 10,000, 15,000 people --

MR. PAGE: Oh, yeah. And that's fine.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay --

MR. BUCHANAN: -- bringing them out for McCain.

MR. PAGE: That's fine. I mean, she's like Newt Gingrich. She's a great fund-raiser.

MR. BUCHANAN: Newt can't get crowds like that. Nobody gets crowds like that.

MR. PAGE: I think Newt would have a better chance of getting to the primaries than she would, and you don't see him running.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's see if we can rattle your cage a little more. Don't underestimate Palin.

In the August issue of Runner's World, Palin describes her 35- year passion for outdoor running. The 4,100-word interview reveals a lot more about Sarah Palin than just her athleticism. If she goes for a day or a week without running, what does she learn about herself? "I feel so crappy if I go more than a few days without running. I have to run. No matter how rotten I feel before or during a run, it's always worth it to me afterwards. Sweat is my sanity."

What has running taught her about politics? "Same thing it's taught me about life. You have to have determination and set goals. And you don't complain when something's hurting, because no one wants to hear it. You get bummed and burned out sometimes, in running and in politics. But if you're in for the long haul and you're in it because you know that it is a good thing, then you get out there and you do it anyway."

Could the governor beat President Obama in a race? "What I lack in physical strength, I make up for in determination and endurance. So if it were a long race that required a lot of endurance, I'd win."

Question: What accounts for Palin's running addiction? Mark, can you speak to that?

MR. TAPSCOTT: That is the perfect analogy for Sarah Palin. She is in it for the long run. Her muffed resignation situation is simply a pulled hamstring from which she will recover. DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know, her mother and father were runners too.

MR. TAPSCOTT: Yes, indeed.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Her father ran in a marathon. And they don't like to lose either.

MR. TAPSCOTT: Middle-class America understands sweat.

MR. PAGE: I'd like to see her and Obama go one on one.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: She has the DNA, hasn't she?

MR. BUCHANAN: Yep.

MR. PAGE: I'd like to see her and Obama go one on one.

MR. BUCHANAN: It shows competitiveness, John, real and authentic -- not synthetic like so many politicians in Washington.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know, this is quite fascinating. You know, she doesn't want to run with anybody because she doesn't want to talk. She wants a solitary moment.

MR. BUCHANAN: That's exactly right.

MR. PAGE: Oh, she wants to talk to people she wants to talk to.

MS. CLIFT: As somebody --

MR. PAGE: She picks her interviewers very carefully.

MS. CLIFT: As somebody --

MR. BUCHANAN: Look, Eleanor's a marathoner.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: She runs alone.

MS. CLIFT: As somebody --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on.

MS. CLIFT: As somebody who has been running for probably longer than Sarah Palin, who feels crappy if she doesn't run for more than probably two days, I identify with everything she said. But it doesn't comport with the way she walked away from her job as governor. You can decide not to run again, but quitting is not a good platform to run for president.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you do with 30 lawsuits --

MS. CLIFT: But if she becomes -- DR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- that have come from Democrats --

MR. PAGE: It's not that many lawsuits, John.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- that have led to $500,000 --

MS. CLIFT: Excuse me. They're not going to go away, first of all. And second of all, if she ever does become president, I hope she does walk away and quit. (Laughs.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three: Embrace the Legacy. Overlook the Lunacy.

The song is "We Are the World," and it may very well be the crown jewel not only of Michael Jackson's entertainment legacy, but also -- get this -- his political legacy. "We Are the World," Jackson's universalist world view, if you will, similar to that of Thomas Jefferson, a belief in the inalienable connection of all people.

Harry Belafonte explains to Larry King how Africa became the focus of Michael Jackson's artistry and the reach of his one-world outlook.

HARRY BELAFONTE (singer): (From videotape.

) Well, for a long time, I have been watching the continent of Africa wither under the devastation of famine and drought, and literally hundreds of thousands of people were dying. I turned to artists and said, "We have a job to do." And when Michael decided to step to the table, he brought the greatest gift of all. He and Lionel Richie wrote the song.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: By the way, Michael Jackson's total contributions, by my staff's addition, is about $300 million -- page after page of people and his own foundation; pretty impressive.

In 1985, "We Are the World" reached number one on the music charts in 20 countries. It raised $50 million for the African relief effort. In today's currency, "We Are the World" would have yielded $100 million in aid for Africa.

Question: Was Jackson a trend-setter in using his music for humanitarian relief effort? I ask you, Mark.

MR. TAPSCOTT: The federal government spends $100 million before lunch. Unfortunately, it's like a snow flake. It's here and then it's gone.

MR. PAGE: But he did start a trend, though.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you saying more about the solution of what should be done? Because there are those who think that the aid for Africa is excessive and the law of diminishing returns has set in, and there should be a different policy towards Africa.

MR. TAPSCOTT: There absolutely should be a different policy in Africa. African governments are the reason Africa needs help.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think -- well, I do say this. Michael Jackson and Bono and all these other people in Hollywood, I think they are doing good work. Maybe they're doing it to get publicity. But when they take all this money they earn and they give it for good causes, whether it's abroad or at home, I say you give the guys credit.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, another well-known American speaks about Africa; less inspired by the African continent, more saddened by it. President Obama this week visited the nation of Ghana, with its 24 million citizens, the same population of Texas but about half the size of Texas. Ghana, on the west coast of Africa, the Atlantic Ocean, and about halfway up, with an annual GDP per capita of $1,500 -- that's per year -- about 200th in rank out of 230 nations. Religion: Almost 70 percent Christian, 16 percent Muslim.

This is President Obama's fourth visit to the African continent and his second as president, the first being the June trip to Cairo. He visited Africa this week to encourage democratic governance and food independence.

When Obama talks about Africa, he becomes melancholy and worse. Quote: "I remember the first time I took Michelle to Kenya, shortly before we were married. Michelle was bursting with excitement about the idea of visiting the continent of her ancestors. And we had a wonderful time. But during our travels, Michelle also heard, as I had heard during my first trip to Africa, the terrible sense on the part of most Kenyans that their fates were not their own. On the flight back to Chicago, Michelle admitted she was looking forward to getting home.

"There are times, when considering the plight of Africa -- the millions wracked by AIDS, the constant drought and famine, the dictatorships, the pervasive corruption, the brutality of 12-year-old guerrillas, who know nothing about war, wielding machetes or AK-47s -- I find myself plunged into cynicism and despair."

Do you want to speak to that, Clarence?

MR. PAGE: Well, yeah, I know that feeling that Michelle had when I first went over to Africa back in the '70s. I felt very similarly. I think African-Americans tend to have kind of a fantasy view of Africa, sort of a Disneyfied or Alex Haley view.

When you've been over there for a while, first you're struck by the realities that Obama was talking about, these negative aspects. The longer you're there, the more you realize every country is different. Leadership is the problem. It's not productivity.

And when Obama talks about food independence right now, he's not talking about the same kind of thing that Michael Jackson and Bono and all were doing. He's talking about independence. In other words, don't give them a fish, teach them to fish, because outside aid can actually compete with development of their own markets and their own agriculture and all. So you want to try to help them to be independent.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is Palin washed up? Yes or no. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Nonsense -- chief Republican surrogate in 2010. DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I agree with that. Nobody's ever washed up in political America. (Laughs.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mark.

MR. TAPSCOTT: No. Liberals, get used to it. She's around for the long run.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: Great future in TV talk. She's an experienced interviewer.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Not politics.

MR. PAGE: She'll never get past the primaries.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, wait till the financial crisis kicks in and affects the middle class. She's going to have a future.

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



END.

essimistic.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- but it was not a reset.

Issue Two: Sarah's Way.

ALASKA GOVERNOR SARAH PALIN (R): (From videotape.) With this announcement that I'm not seeking re-election, I've determined it's best to transfer the authority of governor to Lieutenant Governor Parnell.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Two seminal decisions last week from Sarah Palin, Alaska governor: One, she will not seek re-election for 2010; two, she will resign as governor effective in two weeks, the 26th. Three days after her announcement, the governor was asked whether the 26th of July would, in fact, turn out to be the end of her political career. Palin was philosophical, even fatalistic.

GOV. PALIN: (From videotape.) You know, politically speaking, if I die, I die. So be it.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Was Sarah Palin hounded from office by the Democrats? Was she driven out? Did she do the only thing that was feasible? I ask you, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah, I think basically she did do the only thing that was feasible. I don't think she handled it well. Her problem is this. She's $500,000 in debt answering these silly --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why? Why?

MR. BUCHANAN: -- ethics charges which the Democrats keep throwing at her.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: How many suits were brought against her? MR. BUCHANAN: There are 16 or 17 charges. They've thrown out, I think, all but one of them.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, I believe there are 30 suits that were brought against her, and only two have any validity.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, none of them have any validity. But frankly, she's got five kids. One of the kids has Down Syndrome. She's got to help raise her grandchild there.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: How much money has she spent on lawyers?

MR. BUCHANAN: Personal things. It's $500,000. And what she did -- they're hassling her in the legislature, and what she's saying is, "Look, this lieutenant governor gets a leg up to nomination and election. He can do the job."

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who can tell me what her total assets are, her net worth?

MS. CLIFT: It's going to be a lot more than it is, now that she's penning a $7 million book deal. Don't cry for Sarah.

MR. BUCHANAN: She's got -- they're very mean to Sarah.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: She has $1.2 million in net worth, and that includes her husband's business holdings.

MR. PAGE: Does that include her --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: So take away $700,000 --

MS. CLIFT: She's about to cash in on the lecture circuit, presumably.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does she have any other feasible alternative except --

MS. CLIFT: Sure. She could have finished the job that she was elected to do.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: How could she finish the job when she's being kept hounded by suits from your party?

MS. CLIFT: I think the Republicans are not her friends in Alaska either.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: But they're not bringing suits against her.

MS. CLIFT: And, look, you know, she made the right decision for her pocketbook. I don't know that she made the right decision for her political future. But she will be a sidekick for right-wing conservative candidates, but she will not be invited to campaign for the Republican who wants to be governor of Virginia or the governor of New Jersey.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can you account for what --

MS. CLIFT: She is radioactive in parts of the Republican Party.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, I won't describe it as vehemence, but there is vehemence against this woman. Can you describe why it exists?

MR. TAPSCOTT: That was civil.

MS. CLIFT: This is analysis.

MR. TAPSCOTT: That was civil compared to what --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: I know, but it was passionate enough. Why are they so worked up about this woman?

MR. TAPSCOTT: Here's why. Here's why. You said her net assets are $1.2 million. You missed the biggest, the most important net asset. She connects with America, common-sense conservative America, like nobody has since Ronald Reagan. And that --

MS. CLIFT: Twenty percent of the country. (Laughs.

)

MR. TAPSCOTT: -- terrifies --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: She's blue collar. She is blue collar.

MR. TAPSCOTT: She is common-sense conservative.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did she go to a state university?

MR. TAPSCOTT: Yes.

MR. BUCHANAN: Idaho State.

MR. TAPSCOTT: So what?

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: We have a big cultural difference between the aristocratic -- that group within the Democratic Party --

MR. TAPSCOTT: The literati cannot stand her.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: The elite --

MR. BUCHANAN: She is middle America, John.

MS. CLIFT: Hey, I --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's hear Pat. Let's hear Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: She is middle American. She is attractive. She's a woman. She's pro-life. She's a pace car babe, rodeo queen, John. That's why they love her.

MR. PAGE: She's also not alone in those demographics. You know, I come from --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: She --

MR. PAGE: John, I want to speak up for middle Americans that went to state schools. And I come from John Boehner's district, the original Middletown, Ohio. And I want to tell you, I've got so many Republican women friends back there who, after the Katie Couric interview, called me to say, "Where's our Barack Obama headquarters?" It was incredible. There was this flip. And I'm hearing the biggest criticism of her coming from Republicans. I mean, Democrats enjoy her. I hear of them talking about how they hope she does run again.

MR. BUCHANAN: But Clarence, at the end of the campaign, she's the only one who's getting out 10,000, 15,000 people --

MR. PAGE: Oh, yeah. And that's fine.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay --

MR. BUCHANAN: -- bringing them out for McCain.

MR. PAGE: That's fine. I mean, she's like Newt Gingrich. She's a great fund-raiser.

MR. BUCHANAN: Newt can't get crowds like that. Nobody gets crowds like that.

MR. PAGE: I think Newt would have a better chance of getting to the primaries than she would, and you don't see him running.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's see if we can rattle your cage a little more. Don't underestimate Palin.

In the August issue of Runner's World, Palin describes her 35- year passion for outdoor running. The 4,100-word interview reveals a lot more about Sarah Palin than just her athleticism. If she goes for a day or a week without running, what does she learn about herself? "I feel so crappy if I go more than a few days without running. I have to run. No matter how rotten I feel before or during a run, it's always worth it to me afterwards. Sweat is my sanity."

What has running taught her about politics? "Same thing it's taught me about life. You have to have determination and set goals. And you don't complain when something's hurting, because no one wants to hear it. You get bummed and burned out sometimes, in running and in politics. But if you're in for the long haul and you're in it because you know that it is a good thing, then you get out there and you do it anyway."

Could the governor beat President Obama in a race? "What I lack in physical strength, I make up for in determination and endurance. So if it were a long race that required a lot of endurance, I'd win."

Question: What accounts for Palin's running addiction? Mark, can you speak to that?

MR. TAPSCOTT: That is the perfect analogy for Sarah Palin. She is in it for the long run. Her muffed resignation situation is simply a pulled hamstring from which she will recover. DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know, her mother and father were runners too.

MR. TAPSCOTT: Yes, indeed.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Her father ran in a marathon. And they don't like to lose either.

MR. TAPSCOTT: Middle-class America understands sweat.

MR. PAGE: I'd like to see her and Obama go one on one.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: She has the DNA, hasn't she?

MR. BUCHANAN: Yep.

MR. PAGE: I'd like to see her and Obama go one on one.

MR. BUCHANAN: It shows competitiveness, John, real and authentic -- not synthetic like so many politicians in Washington.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know, this is quite fascinating. You know, she doesn't want to run with anybody because she doesn't want to talk. She wants a solitary moment.

MR. BUCHANAN: That's exactly right.

MR. PAGE: Oh, she wants to talk to people she wants to talk to.

MS. CLIFT: As somebody --

MR. PAGE: She picks her interviewers very carefully.

MS. CLIFT: As somebody --

MR. BUCHANAN: Look, Eleanor's a marathoner.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: She runs alone.

MS. CLIFT: As somebody --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on.

MS. CLIFT: As somebody who has been running for probably longer than Sarah Palin, who feels crappy if she doesn't run for more than probably two days, I identify with everything she said. But it doesn't comport with the way she walked away from her job as governor. You can decide not to run again, but quitting is not a good platform to run for president.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you do with 30 lawsuits --

MS. CLIFT: But if she becomes -- DR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- that have come from Democrats --

MR. PAGE: It's not that many lawsuits, John.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- that have led to $500,000 --

MS. CLIFT: Excuse me. They're not going to go away, first of all. And second of all, if she ever does become president, I hope she does walk away and quit. (Laughs.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three: Embrace the Legacy. Overlook the Lunacy.

The song is "We Are the World," and it may very well be the crown jewel not only of Michael Jackson's entertainment legacy, but also -- get this -- his political legacy. "We Are the World," Jackson's universalist world view, if you will, similar to that of Thomas Jefferson, a belief in the inalienable connection of all people.

Harry Belafonte explains to Larry King how Africa became the focus of Michael Jackson's artistry and the reach of his one-world outlook.

HARRY BELAFONTE (singer): (From videotape.

) Well, for a long time, I have been watching the continent of Africa wither under the devastation of famine and drought, and literally hundreds of thousands of people were dying. I turned to artists and said, "We have a job to do." And when Michael decided to step to the table, he brought the greatest gift of all. He and Lionel Richie wrote the song.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: By the way, Michael Jackson's total contributions, by my staff's addition, is about $300 million -- page after page of people and his own foundation; pretty impressive.

In 1985, "We Are the World" reached number one on the music charts in 20 countries. It raised $50 million for the African relief effort. In today's currency, "We Are the World" would have yielded $100 million in aid for Africa.

Question: Was Jackson a trend-setter in using his music for humanitarian relief effort? I ask you, Mark.

MR. TAPSCOTT: The federal government spends $100 million before lunch. Unfortunately, it's like a snow flake. It's here and then it's gone.

MR. PAGE: But he did start a trend, though.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you saying more about the solution of what should be done? Because there are those who think that the aid for Africa is excessive and the law of diminishing returns has set in, and there should be a different policy towards Africa.

MR. TAPSCOTT: There absolutely should be a different policy in Africa. African governments are the reason Africa needs help.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think -- well, I do say this. Michael Jackson and Bono and all these other people in Hollywood, I think they are doing good work. Maybe they're doing it to get publicity. But when they take all this money they earn and they give it for good causes, whether it's abroad or at home, I say you give the guys credit.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, another well-known American speaks about Africa; less inspired by the African continent, more saddened by it. President Obama this week visited the nation of Ghana, with its 24 million citizens, the same population of Texas but about half the size of Texas. Ghana, on the west coast of Africa, the Atlantic Ocean, and about halfway up, with an annual GDP per capita of $1,500 -- that's per year -- about 200th in rank out of 230 nations. Religion: Almost 70 percent Christian, 16 percent Muslim.

This is President Obama's fourth visit to the African continent and his second as president, the first being the June trip to Cairo. He visited Africa this week to encourage democratic governance and food independence.

When Obama talks about Africa, he becomes melancholy and worse. Quote: "I remember the first time I took Michelle to Kenya, shortly before we were married. Michelle was bursting with excitement about the idea of visiting the continent of her ancestors. And we had a wonderful time. But during our travels, Michelle also heard, as I had heard during my first trip to Africa, the terrible sense on the part of most Kenyans that their fates were not their own. On the flight back to Chicago, Michelle admitted she was looking forward to getting home.

"There are times, when considering the plight of Africa -- the millions wracked by AIDS, the constant drought and famine, the dictatorships, the pervasive corruption, the brutality of 12-year-old guerrillas, who know nothing about war, wielding machetes or AK-47s -- I find myself plunged into cynicism and despair."

Do you want to speak to that, Clarence?

MR. PAGE: Well, yeah, I know that feeling that Michelle had when I first went over to Africa back in the '70s. I felt very similarly. I think African-Americans tend to have kind of a fantasy view of Africa, sort of a Disneyfied or Alex Haley view.

When you've been over there for a while, first you're struck by the realities that Obama was talking about, these negative aspects. The longer you're there, the more you realize every country is different. Leadership is the problem. It's not productivity.

And when Obama talks about food independence right now, he's not talking about the same kind of thing that Michael Jackson and Bono and all were doing. He's talking about independence. In other words, don't give them a fish, teach them to fish, because outside aid can actually compete with development of their own markets and their own agriculture and all. So you want to try to help them to be independent.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is Palin washed up? Yes or no. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Nonsense -- chief Republican surrogate in 2010. DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I agree with that. Nobody's ever washed up in political America. (Laughs.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mark.

MR. TAPSCOTT: No. Liberals, get used to it. She's around for the long run.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: Great future in TV talk. She's an experienced interviewer.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Not politics.

MR. PAGE: She'll never get past the primaries.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, wait till the financial crisis kicks in and affects the middle class. She's going to have a future.

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



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