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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN PANEL: PATRICK BUCHANAN, MSNBC; ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK; MONICA CROWLEY, SYNDICATED RADIO COMMENTATOR; MORTIMER ZUCKERMAN, U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT TAPED: FRIDAY, JULY 17, 2009 BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF JULY 18-19, 2009

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DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Sonia Sotomayor.

JUDGE SONIA SOTOMAYOR (Supreme Court associate justice nominee): (From videotape.) I was asked no question by anyone, including the president, about my views on any specific legal issue.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama's nominee to the Supreme Court, was grilled this week for four days. During her Senate confirmation hearing, she was asked whether the White House had sought her legal views or had prepped her. Judge Sotomayor told senators that vetters in the White House never asked her views on any issue. But Sotomayor got plenty of questions from the Judiciary Committee senators on abortion and other sensitive issues, including gun rights, affirmative action and same-sex marriage. The judge also got a chance to address her now famous remarks from a 2001 speech to law students at the University of California at Berkeley.

(Begin videotaped segment.)

SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R-AL): You've said, I think, six different times, quote, "I would hope that a wise Latina woman, with the richness of her experiences, would, more often than not, reach a better conclusion."

JUDGE SOTOMAYOR: I also, as I explained, was using a rhetorical flourish that fell flat. It was bad, because it left an impression that I believed that life experiences commanded a result in a case. But that's clearly not what I do as a judge.

(End videotaped segment.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Two days later, the judge underlined the point.

JUDGE SOTOMAYOR: (From videotape.) I regret that I have offended some people.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Did Judge Sotomayor clear the "wise Latina" hurdle? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: No, she did not. Look, she has said this six or seven times. I take the woman at her word. I believe her. I don't know why she didn't come out and defend all the experience she had; she thinks -- the richness of her experience; she thought she would be an even better judge.

Instead, John, what she did is she sat there and gave this rehearsed, robotic performance, you know, not being engaged. She was like a junior in college who just wants to get through the oral exams on a pass/fail basis. She doesn't want to get high honors. And that's what she did. And, quite frankly, I think she diminished herself as a figure, because she's a very passionate, intense person. She does believe in race-based and ethnic-based advancement and promotion for purposes of diversity, and she didn't come off that way.

I think she came off basically as -- look, this is Obama's choice as a justice. And if that's what you want, fine. And here's a guy, Obama, who voted against John Roberts for the Supreme Court and appointed this lady, who really doesn't look like she fits up to Roberts's standards.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: On what level does she not live up to -- fit up to Roberts's standard? She's issued rulings in 3,000 cases. She's served at every level of the legal process. She sat through those four days showing amazing restraint as she was peppered with the same question over and over again, with breaks to check her blood sugar every two hours because she's a diabetic.

I think maybe the members of the committee should be checking their blood sugar. Maybe that's a good idea for some members of this panel as well. (Laughter.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Check up on that, will you, Mort?

MS. CLIFT: She was boring.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Did you say blood sugar or blood pressure? (Laughter.)

MS. CROWLEY: Maybe both.

MR. BUCHANAN: Boring --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: How about blood? (Laughter.)

MS. CLIFT: She was boring, which is the way these Supreme Court confirmations unfold, because they don't want to set themselves up as a target for anybody. But I think she came across as likable, and she's going to get a goodly number of Republican votes.

MS. CROWLEY: Well, Supreme --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: She could have exegeted, by the way. She could have explained satisfactorily even her "wise Latina," because if she were talking about this particular court, where you have one woman and one black and all the rest are white men, it would benefit by -- it would achieve a greater benefit by having a Latina woman.

MS. CROWLEY: Well, as --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: So she's coming in on the track of gender. She's coming in on the track of --

MS. CROWLEY: Yeah, I understand.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- also race.

MS. CROWLEY: Which is why she was selected by this president. But as a wise white woman with the richness of my experiences, I will come to a better judgment on this question than you, John. Look, she was boring. Eleanor says that confirmations like this are generally boring, except if you've got a Republican nominee sitting there or a Republican president's nominee, like Robert Bork or Clarence Thomas, and then the Democrats hit with everything they have.

I think the Republicans behaved splendidly here. There was some rigorous questioning. And the thing that struck me is that we essentially have a tale of two Sonias. We have the Sonia Sotomayor who ruled on the Frank Ricci case, the New Haven firefighters, where it looks pretty clear that, in fact, she did use ethnicity and race as a basis to judge against the firefighters, and then the Sonia Sotomayor that we saw this week in the Senate Judiciary Committee, where she is basically Alexander Hamilton in drag. She loves the Federalist Papers. She loves the Constitution; fidelity to the law. So my question is, which Sonia are we going to see on the bench?

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Look, I think the way the sort of nominating process works and the approval process works -- and it happened with John Roberts too; he gave the most innocent answers to any conceivable question, you know, when he said he's just an umpire, you know, following the rules of baseball.

You know, this is the way it works. We have a system now where every single word can get blown out of proportion, and nobody's going to play games with that kind of rule. So I have no problem with the way she handled herself. It was not interesting. It was boring.

It's the way the system works, folks, and that's the way it is.

MS. CLIFT: Exactly. In the Ricci case, she was one of three that came to that decision, and it was basically based on precedence. And the Supreme Court ruling which overturned them was a 5-4 decision.

MR. BUCHANAN: Right.

MS. CLIFT: So these are closely divided issues. And people look at affirmative action and diversity in very different ways, as Pat and I are total opposites on this issue.

MR. BUCHANAN: Right. But here's the problem, my view, with it, and where I think the Republicans did a good job in some cases. Her whole life -- I mean, she goes to Princeton; first thing she does is send a letter to HEW, "We don't have enough Hispanic professors." They bring her in on affirmative action to Yale. You know, they attack the Yale administration. She denounces the Bakke decision with a group of students. Her whole life -- according to The New York Times --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, Pat. Now, Pat, hold on.

MS. CLIFT: But that's --

MR. BUCHANAN: That's --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on.

MS. CLIFT: That's somebody wanting to bring others along with her.

MR. BUCHANAN: But is she going to rule that way in the Supreme Court?

MS. CLIFT: She's aspirational and inspirational when she speaks to other groups. And she wants to make sure others are promoted as well.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Okay.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me get this in. MS. CLIFT: Her rulings do not show any --

MR. BUCHANAN: Tell it to Frank Ricci.

MS. CLIFT: -- gender or ethnic bias.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. Okay. "No, sir."

Sotomayor also broke with the man who nominated her to the bench, Barack Obama. She said that she did not agree with the president's philosophy on what goes into a judge's judgment.

(Begin videotaped segment.)

SEN. JON KYL (R-AZ): Do you agree with him that the law only takes you the first 25 miles of a marathon and that that last mile has to be decided by what's in the judge's heart?

JUDGE SOTOMAYOR: No, sir. That's -- I don't -- wouldn't approach the issue of judging in the way the president does. It's not the heart that compels conclusions in cases. It's the law.

(End videotaped segment.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: President Obama says he would pick a Supreme Court justice with empathy. Judge Sotomayor says empathy is not a job requirement for the bench. What does she gain by this answer? Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, in the first place, I'm going to guarantee you right now that the president will never again say, "I'm going to pick judges on the basis of empathy." That was during his campaign. And what she gains is she is going to try and present herself to the Senate Judiciary Committee as somebody who's going to operate within the boundaries of the law, which is what they're looking for. And if it were a conservative, the same thing would have happened, in my judgment, in almost all cases.

MR. BUCHANAN: But Mort --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: She's demonstrating independence.

MR. BUCHANAN: But Mort --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, I don't know if it's independence. She's demonstrating that she doesn't want to get into a controversy over the nominating procedure.

MR. BUCHANAN: She comes off as Sam Alito's little sister -- a strict constructionist and, "Oh, yeah, I'm just a law-and-order type." That is not why she was picked. She's a passionate Latino woman who is a liberal. And I think, frankly, I would like to have seen more of her -- MS. CLIFT: Being --

MR. BUCHANAN: -- be herself.

MS. CLIFT: Being strong on law and order --

MR. BUCHANAN: Well --

MS. CLIFT: -- does not necessarily conflict with being a passionate Latina woman.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, these guys were saying how conservative she is. (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: When President Clinton was looking for a Supreme Court nominee, he tried to get Mario Cuomo, Governor Cuomo, because he wanted someone who had experience in politics and real-time experience, as opposed to getting everyone from the ivory tower. I mean, that's what this is about. This is bringing a diversity of experience. And she really does have it in her personal background and in her legal training and background.

MS. CROWLEY: John, you ask what she gains by answering the question that way. She gains Senate confirmation to become a Supreme Court justice. Look, she wasn't going to answer the question --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Without controversy.

MS. CROWLEY: Without controversy. She wasn't going to answer that question in any other way. But let's face it. When President Obama made that statement about empathy, that was one of his criteria for a nominee. And, look, frankly, I lack empathy for empathy on the bench. That's not what the law requires.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Too bad Monica didn't make the court. That would really be talk show fodder.

MS. CLIFT: Right. Exactly. (Laughs.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Is Judge Sotomayor a shoo-in? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: She'll get 60 Democratic votes and I think she'll get more than 10; I would guess around 15 Republican votes.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: So what does it come out to? What's the total?

MR. BUCHANAN: It would be 75-25. That's a guess.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's the definition of a shoo-in, John.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.) MS. CLIFT: That's right -- easy confirmation, with up to half of the Republicans, the sensible Republicans coming along.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What are we talking about -- between 70 and 80?

MS. CLIFT: Absolutely.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you say?

MS. CROWLEY: Yeah, I agree. The Republicans have said they're not going to try to block the vote. They're not going to filibuster. The Democrats have the votes. I would say between 70 and 75.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Republicans, they're collapsing.

MR. BUCHANAN: No, no, they shouldn't filibuster.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: They're collapsing.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: They're not. They're not.

MS. CROWLEY: No, because I know what they're doing. They're holding their powder for the next nominee, who could have much greater intellectual fire power and be a lot more liberal.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think she's going to get over 80 votes when some of the Republicans, who are really recognized for their conservative views on the law, are basically acknowledging, you know, that she is going to be an acceptable candidate. I think she's going to do very well.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eighty-two?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, I'll say over 80.

MR. BUCHANAN: The Republicans, John --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I'll say 82.

MR. BUCHANAN: She'll be good for Republicans on the court in this sense, because I think she is really the other Sotomayor and not the one we saw there. I think she's going to be passionate, intense. I think she's going to come down hard in favor of affirmative action. That's what we want. If you've got a liberal judge on the court, let them be like Wild Bill Douglas.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, liberals would hope that's the case, but she will be just like the justice she's replacing, Justice Souter.

MR. BUCHANAN: Nobody can be like Souter. (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: She can -- a reliable --

MR. BUCHANAN: Nobody is that boring; not even her in her hearings.

MS. CLIFT: -- a reliable -- in terms of his votes, he was a reliable vote with the liberals on the court. And he was no wild man. She won't be a wild woman.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: I don't think she's boring.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I don't think she's boring at all. In fact --

MR. BUCHANAN: She was here. DR. MCLAUGHLIN: I thought you said she was boring.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I didn't say she was boring.

MR. BUCHANAN: Eleanor said she was.

MS. CLIFT: Her testimony was deliberately boring.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: She wasn't boring. She was very charming in this. She was very likable.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'll up you one. I'll say 83 votes.

Issue Two: When Will It End, Mr. Chairman?

BEN BERNANKE (chairman, Federal Reserve Board of Governors): (From videotape.) We'll see the recession coming to an end probably this year. We'll see recovery beginning next year.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mortimer Zuckerman thinks otherwise. Zuckerman says, "That may be your opinion, Mr. Chairman, but the statistics don't support it." The idea that the economic recession has reached the bottom is contradicted by critical U.S. unemployment.

Mort notes in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal that job losses in June add up to 467,000 for June alone -- almost half a million. The total number of jobs lost since the recession began 20 months ago, in December 2007, is 7.2 million.

"Job losses may last well into 2010," he writes, "to hit an unemployment peak close to 11 percent. That unemployment rate may be sustained for an extended period. Add those whose hours have been cut to those who cannot find a full-time job and the total unemployment rises to 16.5 percent, putting the number of involuntarily idle in the range of 25 million. As paychecks shrink and disappear, consumers are more hesitant to spend and won't lead the economy out of the doldrums quickly enough."

Does that sum it all up?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, it certainly sums up a big piece of it, because I think unemployment is going to be a critical factor as we go forward. And even the Federal Reserve and President Obama this week also acknowledged that unemployment is going to continue to go up and it's going to exceed 10 percent. And I think it's going to go higher than the 10 percent number. It's going to approach 11 percent.

That's a huge number on top of the people who are underemployed and on top of the people who have left the labor force. That's got to be a huge downward pressure on consumption, which is the driving force in our economy. DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, how could this happen? The Obama administration has poured $787 billion into the economy to stimulate it. Mort's answer: "For a start, too much of the money went to transfer payments, such as Medicaid, jobless benefits and the like, that do nothing for jobs and growth. The spending that creates new jobs is new spending, particularly on infrastructure, and infrastructure amounts to less than 10 percent of the stimulus package today."

Question: What is infrastructure, Monica?

MS. CROWLEY: Roads, bridges, all of the shovel-ready projects that the Democrats, who supported the economic stimulus in late January and early February, promised would put people to work. The problem here is only 7.7 percent of the $787 billion that was committed to this economic stimulus has actually gone out. Virtually no shovel-ready projects are underway, have been ready; not a shovel in sight.

So the problem here is that all of this money -- and thank goodness that the Republicans had some unity on this -- not a single Republican voted for the economic stimulus package in the House; only three voted for it in the Senate -- because they knew it was a stinker. They knew that this was a pork-fest extravaganza which would do nothing to stimulate the economy. And guess what: It hasn't. Unemployment is ticking up, even though President Obama said, "If you push this through, if you pass it, we will keep unemployment to 8 percent."

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean, the Democrats wanted to take care of their own, their own goombahs.

MS. CROWLEY: Of course. This was pure payback to Democratic constituencies.

MS. CLIFT: How about a little fairness from the other side here? First of all, not enough --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: The stimulus was a lousy package. Is that what you're saying?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes. It's a lousy package.

MS. CLIFT: Not enough of this money has gotten out. And the stimulus was the result of what the political process would bear -- no Republican support and a lot of Democratic wish lists.

Unemployment is generally a lagging indicator. And I do think that the economy could recover by the end of this year. But the problem is that it looks like a jobless recovery, because we're caught between an economic downturn and a transformation in the economy where a lot of the jobs as we've known them are disappearing, and the new green jobs of tomorrow have not kicked in yet. What's especially galling is that the folks on Wall Street -- Goldman and Bank of America -- they are suddenly in clover. They're doing fine. And it's Main Street that's paying the price. And it's going to be a political problem if they don't fix this.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on, Pat. Come in after this.

Okay, more Mort. "Another $150 billion which was allocated to state coffers to continue programs like Medicaid did not add new jobs. Hundreds of billions were set aside for tax cuts and for new benefits for the poor and the unemployed, and they did not add new jobs. Now state budgets are drowning in red ink as jobless claims and Medicaid bills climb."

Question: Was Joe Biden telling the truth when he said that the Obama team failed to grasp the seriousness of the global economic crisis, Pat?

MR. BUCHANAN: I think he was telling the truth in this sense. However, I mean, Obama and them, they were saying, "It's the worst crisis since the Great Depression, worst since the Depression; nobody's ever inherited a worse situation." And now he said, "We didn't know how bad it was." They got a credibility problem.

But let me say this, John. This is a real problem for Obama, because the tide is going out on Obama. His big major things, cap and trade and health insurance, they are just about teetering on the brink because people are looking. They want jobs. What's all this spending doing? The deficit. It's not working.

The stimulus package, John -- what kind of stimulus was it?

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lousy package? Lousy package?

MR. BUCHANAN: Seven percent is spent in the first six months? It's supposed to be a booster shot.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Let me just say one thing about it. Not only did they underestimate, if I may say so, how serious the economy was. They also overestimated the effects of this stimulus package. And that's a big problem, because they bet, in my judgment, their political careers on this thing. The whole program was supposed to be about jobs, jobs, jobs. That wasn't what it was about. A very small --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Also --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: A very small proportion of it was about jobs, relative to what the challenge was.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Also you attacked the proposition that -- or you make the point that there's not enough for consumer spending.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's correct.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Consumer spending is key to the recovery.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's right.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: And consumers are not spending. Do you have any data on that?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes. Well, the savings rate has gone up from zero to 7 percent. That takes -- every dollar that is saved comes out of consumption. The estimate is that the savings rate will get up to 10 percent. That's $600 (billion), $700 billion taken out -- just a minute -- taken out of the consumer spending. And you add that to reduced investment spending and international trade, you have a trillion-dollar hole in demand. DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: And they're putting in $50 billion to meet this this year.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the remedial step, if there is one, or the next step that would be helpful?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: In my judgment, given the risks on the down side, they ought to prepare, to use the phrase, the shovel-ready infrastructure program, which has the highest multiple on the economy.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Roads, bridges.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Roads, bridges, and everything they --

MR. BUCHANAN: They said they were going to do it. Mort, they said that's what it is.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: But they didn't do it. I don't disagree with you. That was exactly the problem. They didn't do what they talked about.

MR. BUCHANAN: Where are they going to get the shovel-ready projects if no shovel-ready projects were begun?

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Also, there are, you know, state delays. There's committee after committee.

MR. BUCHANAN: They should have cut the Social Security tax, employer and employee, in half.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes.

MR. BUCHANAN: That puts money right in consumers' pockets and businesses' pockets, small business.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tax holiday?

MR. BUCHANAN: No, you just cut --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: How about a tax holiday?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, that's --

MS. CROWLEY: Yes, good idea.

(Cross-talk.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The problem is, people are saving their taxes; they're not spending. And people are wary of spending.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question -- MR. ZUCKERMAN: You've got to create jobs.

MS. CLIFT: And they're at cross-purposes with all the state governments, which are drowning. And they've used a lot of the stimulus money simply to plug holes instead of creating jobs.

(Cross-talk.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: They should have allocated the money specifically for job-creating programs.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right, for infrastructure.

MS. CLIFT: Right. They got what they could --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: And they didn't do it.

MS. CLIFT: -- out of the political process.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Oh, that's nonsense.

MS. CLIFT: It's the political process that's failed.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's nonsense. They --

MS. CLIFT: The president has not yet weighed in on this. Let's give him a chance before we declare all his legislation dead.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: All of his legislation --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does everybody agree that the first stimulus package was a disaster?

MS. CROWLEY: Failure.

MR. BUCHANAN: Failure.

MS. CROWLEY: Complete failure.

MS. CLIFT: No, I don't go that far. It's only begun to kick in. It should have been faster, but the way government works --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: It's such a small success that it's a failure.

MS. CROWLEY: This was purely a political act. It was not an economic act. It was a failure. And when Biden goes out and says, "We misread how bad the economy is," they're setting the groundwork for another stimulus.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three: Big Al. SEN. AL FRANKEN (D-MN): (From videotape.) It's an incredible honor to be here. I am truly humbled to join the Judiciary Committee.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Straight talk from the lauded SNL satirist, Al Franken, who, after eight months of counts, recounts, and finally a court ruling, Senator Al Franken has assumed his seat in the U.S. Senate. He displaces Republican Norm Coleman, who lost in a squeaker, 312 votes out of 2.4 million cast.

This week the new senator stepped right into the spotlight. On the Judiciary Committee, Senator Franken will vote on the confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor. He questioned the Supreme Court nominee on Internet regulation and on a subject she brought up -- the fictional Perry Mason, a television show that inspired her as a young child growing up in the Bronx.

(Begin videotaped segment.)

JUDGE SOTOMAYOR: I was influenced so greatly by a television show in igniting the passion that I had as being a prosecutor, and it was Perry Mason. In one of the episodes, at the end of the episode, Perry Mason, with the character who played the prosecutor in the case, were meeting up after the case, and Perry said to the prosecutor, "It must cause you some pain having expended all that effort in your case to have the charges dismissed." And the prosecutor looked up and said, "No. My job as a prosecutor is to do justice.

And justice is served when a guilty man is convicted and when an innocent man is not." And I thought to myself, "That's quite amazing.

SEN. FRANKEN: What was one case in Perry Mason that -- murder one?

JUDGE SOTOMAYOR: I wish I remembered the name of the episode, but I don't.

SEN. FRANKEN: And you don't remember that case?

JUDGE SOTOMAYOR: I know that I should remember the name of it, but I haven't looked at the episodes.

SEN. FRANKEN: Didn't the White House prepare you for that? (Laughter.)

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT): Is the senator from Minnesota going to tell us which episode that was?

SEN. FRANKEN: I don't know. That's why I was asking. (Laughter.)

(End videotaped segment.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Was this Perry Mason banter wired? What does she gain by it? Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, she gained something which I think is really important. She comes out as a very personable, likable individual on television. And, by the way, that, of course, has an obvious political impact. That's why she told the story. It makes it human. And it was a very amusing way to sort of deal with it.

MS. CLIFT: She also demonstrates where she got her interest in the law. She's also credited Nancy Drew, the books that a lot of young girls read, including myself, that gave her an aspiration. And so I think it's -- I agree. It's charming.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, as someone who read 26 Hardy Boys books, which were the opposite -- MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. BUCHANAN: But I do think this humanizes her. And let me say, even though I've been a critic of hers, I do agree that she came off as very personable as an individual, quite frankly, in contrast with some of the reports you were getting about her on the bench where she's a really tough person and occasionally engages in bullying.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think the White House told her to loosen up and tell them about Perry Mason when they heard about her interest in it?

MR. BUCHANAN: No, they probably said, "If you got that, tell it."

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: So it was wired.

MR. BUCHANAN: No, I don't think Franken was wired.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, no, no.

MR. BUCHANAN: I don't think Franken was wired.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: She was wired to tell that, wasn't she?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, no, it's real. And they said, "If it's real, tell it."

MS. CROWLEY: Yeah, this was a very cute exchange.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think it was spontaneous.

MS. CROWLEY: I'm not a fan of Al Franken or of Sonia Sotomayor, but I thought it was an adorable exchange between the two of them. And, look, Al Franken made his living before coming to the Senate as a comedian. He should be himself. I loved that. The whole confirmation is so dull for the most part. This was fun.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: He brings the total of Democrats in the United States Senate to 60.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Sixty.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, 60 is super-majority status, and that's very helpful on procedural matters.

MR. BUCHANAN: It's helpful on everything.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Huh?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Everything.

MR. BUCHANAN: It's helpful on everything. DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, no, it's not.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: In all the negotiations leading up to it.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's more helpful on appointments than it is on trying to get all 60 to vote on legislation. Do you follow me?

MR. BUCHANAN: Let's suppose Sotomayor --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: On broad-scale legislation; procedural, yes.

MR. BUCHANAN: But if Sotomayor were really controversial, he's got a hammer. He's got 60 votes. You shut down the filibuster and she's on.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does that 60 usher Republicans into deeper exile?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, on some level, of course they're going to have much less of a voice in everything. But I think particularly -- look, why did, for example -- some of the things that were put into the stimulus package, they were intended to get a couple of Republican votes. And Olympia Snowe --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: So Obama doesn't need the Republicans at all. He can do it with Democrats.

MR. BUCHANAN: It's good news --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: You always want to have it as much bipartisan as you can.

MS. CLIFT: On health --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: And some of the people, like Max Baucus --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, when did we become idealistic in this business?

MS. CLIFT: On health care, it gives you a way to overcome the procedural filibuster.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right, right.

MS. CLIFT: And then they can pass health care with 50-plus votes.

MR. BUCHANAN: Here's what it also does.

MS. CLIFT: And that's very critical. MR. BUCHANAN: What it does, it enables the Republicans to say, "They've got everything. They got a filibuster-proof Senate. They got the House by 80, 90 votes. They got the president."

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: And the economy is still at the bottom of the barrel. Right.

MR. BUCHANAN: They're totally responsible for everything.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: The national health insurance will not get through both houses before the August recess, which means it is in big trouble because the tide is going out on that legislation.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: When the health care bill hits the floor of the House before the end of the year, more than eight Republicans will support it. Eight Republicans voted for the cap-and-trade bill.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: The Democratic protests in Iran have picked up again this week. They will accelerate. They will not subside. And they will force President Obama to back away from his ill-conceived plan to engage the Iranian regime.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: With the new Supreme Court justice next year, the Supreme Court will still support the right to bear arms under state law as well as under federal law. So you will have the Second Amendment completely changed.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Honduras dilemma will be resolved by a shared authority between the two contenders for president.

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



END.

dged that unemployment is going to continue to go up and it's going to exceed 10 percent. And I think it's going to go higher than the 10 percent number. It's going to approach 11 percent.

That's a huge number on top of the people who are underemployed and on top of the people who have left the labor force. That's got to be a huge downward pressure on consumption, which is the driving force in our economy. DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, how could this happen? The Obama administration has poured $787 billion into the economy to stimulate it. Mort's answer: "For a start, too much of the money went to transfer payments, such as Medicaid, jobless benefits and the like, that do nothing for jobs and growth. The spending that creates new jobs is new spending, particularly on infrastructure, and infrastructure amounts to less than 10 percent of the stimulus package today."

Question: What is infrastructure, Monica?

MS. CROWLEY: Roads, bridges, all of the shovel-ready projects that the Democrats, who supported the economic stimulus in late January and early February, promised would put people to work. The problem here is only 7.7 percent of the $787 billion that was committed to this economic stimulus has actually gone out. Virtually no shovel-ready projects are underway, have been ready; not a shovel in sight.

So the problem here is that all of this money -- and thank goodness that the Republicans had some unity on this -- not a single Republican voted for the economic stimulus package in the House; only three voted for it in the Senate -- because they knew it was a stinker. They knew that this was a pork-fest extravaganza which would do nothing to stimulate the economy. And guess what: It hasn't. Unemployment is ticking up, even though President Obama said, "If you push this through, if you pass it, we will keep unemployment to 8 percent."

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean, the Democrats wanted to take care of their own, their own goombahs.

MS. CROWLEY: Of course. This was pure payback to Democratic constituencies.

MS. CLIFT: How about a little fairness from the other side here? First of all, not enough --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: The stimulus was a lousy package. Is that what you're saying?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes. It's a lousy package.

MS. CLIFT: Not enough of this money has gotten out. And the stimulus was the result of what the political process would bear -- no Republican support and a lot of Democratic wish lists.

Unemployment is generally a lagging indicator. And I do think that the economy could recover by the end of this year. But the problem is that it looks like a jobless recovery, because we're caught between an economic downturn and a transformation in the economy where a lot of the jobs as we've known them are disappearing, and the new green jobs of tomorrow have not kicked in yet. What's especially galling is that the folks on Wall Street -- Goldman and Bank of America -- they are suddenly in clover. They're doing fine. And it's Main Street that's paying the price. And it's going to be a political problem if they don't fix this.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on, Pat. Come in after this.

Okay, more Mort. "Another $150 billion which was allocated to state coffers to continue programs like Medicaid did not add new jobs. Hundreds of billions were set aside for tax cuts and for new benefits for the poor and the unemployed, and they did not add new jobs. Now state budgets are drowning in red ink as jobless claims and Medicaid bills climb."

Question: Was Joe Biden telling the truth when he said that the Obama team failed to grasp the seriousness of the global economic crisis, Pat?

MR. BUCHANAN: I think he was telling the truth in this sense. However, I mean, Obama and them, they were saying, "It's the worst crisis since the Great Depression, worst since the Depression; nobody's ever inherited a worse situation." And now he said, "We didn't know how bad it was." They got a credibility problem.

But let me say this, John. This is a real problem for Obama, because the tide is going out on Obama. His big major things, cap and trade and health insurance, they are just about teetering on the brink because people are looking. They want jobs. What's all this spending doing? The deficit. It's not working.

The stimulus package, John -- what kind of stimulus was it?

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lousy package? Lousy package?

MR. BUCHANAN: Seven percent is spent in the first six months? It's supposed to be a booster shot.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Let me just say one thing about it. Not only did they underestimate, if I may say so, how serious the economy was. They also overestimated the effects of this stimulus package. And that's a big problem, because they bet, in my judgment, their political careers on this thing. The whole program was supposed to be about jobs, jobs, jobs. That wasn't what it was about. A very small --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Also --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: A very small proportion of it was about jobs, relative to what the challenge was.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Also you attacked the proposition that -- or you make the point that there's not enough for consumer spending.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's correct.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Consumer spending is key to the recovery.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's right.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: And consumers are not spending. Do you have any data on that?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes. Well, the savings rate has gone up from zero to 7 percent. That takes -- every dollar that is saved comes out of consumption. The estimate is that the savings rate will get up to 10 percent. That's $600 (billion), $700 billion taken out -- just a minute -- taken out of the consumer spending. And you add that to reduced investment spending and international trade, you have a trillion-dollar hole in demand. DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: And they're putting in $50 billion to meet this this year.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the remedial step, if there is one, or the next step that would be helpful?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: In my judgment, given the risks on the down side, they ought to prepare, to use the phrase, the shovel-ready infrastructure program, which has the highest multiple on the economy.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Roads, bridges.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Roads, bridges, and everything they --

MR. BUCHANAN: They said they were going to do it. Mort, they said that's what it is.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: But they didn't do it. I don't disagree with you. That was exactly the problem. They didn't do what they talked about.

MR. BUCHANAN: Where are they going to get the shovel-ready projects if no shovel-ready projects were begun?

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Also, there are, you know, state delays. There's committee after committee.

MR. BUCHANAN: They should have cut the Social Security tax, employer and employee, in half.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes.

MR. BUCHANAN: That puts money right in consumers' pockets and businesses' pockets, small business.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tax holiday?

MR. BUCHANAN: No, you just cut --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: How about a tax holiday?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, that's --

MS. CROWLEY: Yes, good idea.

(Cross-talk.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The problem is, people are saving their taxes; they're not spending. And people are wary of spending.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question -- MR. ZUCKERMAN: You've got to create jobs.

MS. CLIFT: And they're at cross-purposes with all the state governments, which are drowning. And they've used a lot of the stimulus money simply to plug holes instead of creating jobs.

(Cross-talk.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: They should have allocated the money specifically for job-creating programs.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right, for infrastructure.

MS. CLIFT: Right. They got what they could --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: And they didn't do it.

MS. CLIFT: -- out of the political process.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Oh, that's nonsense.

MS. CLIFT: It's the political process that's failed.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's nonsense. They --

MS. CLIFT: The president has not yet weighed in on this. Let's give him a chance before we declare all his legislation dead.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: All of his legislation --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does everybody agree that the first stimulus package was a disaster?

MS. CROWLEY: Failure.

MR. BUCHANAN: Failure.

MS. CROWLEY: Complete failure.

MS. CLIFT: No, I don't go that far. It's only begun to kick in. It should have been faster, but the way government works --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: It's such a small success that it's a failure.

MS. CROWLEY: This was purely a political act. It was not an economic act. It was a failure. And when Biden goes out and says, "We misread how bad the economy is," they're setting the groundwork for another stimulus.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three: Big Al. SEN. AL FRANKEN (D-MN): (From videotape.) It's an incredible honor to be here. I am truly humbled to join the Judiciary Committee.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Straight talk from the lauded SNL satirist, Al Franken, who, after eight months of counts, recounts, and finally a court ruling, Senator Al Franken has assumed his seat in the U.S. Senate. He displaces Republican Norm Coleman, who lost in a squeaker, 312 votes out of 2.4 million cast.

This week the new senator stepped right into the spotlight. On the Judiciary Committee, Senator Franken will vote on the confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor. He questioned the Supreme Court nominee on Internet regulation and on a subject she brought up -- the fictional Perry Mason, a television show that inspired her as a young child growing up in the Bronx.

(Begin videotaped segment.)

JUDGE SOTOMAYOR: I was influenced so greatly by a television show in igniting the passion that I had as being a prosecutor, and it was Perry Mason. In one of the episodes, at the end of the episode, Perry Mason, with the character who played the prosecutor in the case, were meeting up after the case, and Perry said to the prosecutor, "It must cause you some pain having expended all that effort in your case to have the charges dismissed." And the prosecutor looked up and said, "No. My job as a prosecutor is to do justice.

And justice is served when a guilty man is convicted and when an innocent man is not." And I thought to myself, "That's quite amazing.

SEN. FRANKEN: What was one case in Perry Mason that -- murder one?

JUDGE SOTOMAYOR: I wish I remembered the name of the episode, but I don't.

SEN. FRANKEN: And you don't remember that case?

JUDGE SOTOMAYOR: I know that I should remember the name of it, but I haven't looked at the episodes.

SEN. FRANKEN: Didn't the White House prepare you for that? (Laughter.)

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT): Is the senator from Minnesota going to tell us which episode that was?

SEN. FRANKEN: I don't know. That's why I was asking. (Laughter.)

(End videotaped segment.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Was this Perry Mason banter wired? What does she gain by it? Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, she gained something which I think is really important. She comes out as a very personable, likable individual on television. And, by the way, that, of course, has an obvious political impact. That's why she told the story. It makes it human. And it was a very amusing way to sort of deal with it.

MS. CLIFT: She also demonstrates where she got her interest in the law. She's also credited Nancy Drew, the books that a lot of young girls read, including myself, that gave her an aspiration. And so I think it's -- I agree. It's charming.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, as someone who read 26 Hardy Boys books, which were the opposite -- MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. BUCHANAN: But I do think this humanizes her. And let me say, even though I've been a critic of hers, I do agree that she came off as very personable as an individual, quite frankly, in contrast with some of the reports you were getting about her on the bench where she's a really tough person and occasionally engages in bullying.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think the White House told her to loosen up and tell them about Perry Mason when they heard about her interest in it?

MR. BUCHANAN: No, they probably said, "If you got that, tell it."

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: So it was wired.

MR. BUCHANAN: No, I don't think Franken was wired.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, no, no.

MR. BUCHANAN: I don't think Franken was wired.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: She was wired to tell that, wasn't she?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, no, it's real. And they said, "If it's real, tell it."

MS. CROWLEY: Yeah, this was a very cute exchange.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think it was spontaneous.

MS. CROWLEY: I'm not a fan of Al Franken or of Sonia Sotomayor, but I thought it was an adorable exchange between the two of them. And, look, Al Franken made his living before coming to the Senate as a comedian. He should be himself. I loved that. The whole confirmation is so dull for the most part. This was fun.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: He brings the total of Democrats in the United States Senate to 60.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Sixty.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, 60 is super-majority status, and that's very helpful on procedural matters.

MR. BUCHANAN: It's helpful on everything.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Huh?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Everything.

MR. BUCHANAN: It's helpful on everything. DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, no, it's not.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: In all the negotiations leading up to it.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's more helpful on appointments than it is on trying to get all 60 to vote on legislation. Do you follow me?

MR. BUCHANAN: Let's suppose Sotomayor --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: On broad-scale legislation; procedural, yes.

MR. BUCHANAN: But if Sotomayor were really controversial, he's got a hammer. He's got 60 votes. You shut down the filibuster and she's on.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does that 60 usher Republicans into deeper exile?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, on some level, of course they're going to have much less of a voice in everything. But I think particularly -- look, why did, for example -- some of the things that were put into the stimulus package, they were intended to get a couple of Republican votes. And Olympia Snowe --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: So Obama doesn't need the Republicans at all. He can do it with Democrats.

MR. BUCHANAN: It's good news --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: You always want to have it as much bipartisan as you can.

MS. CLIFT: On health --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: And some of the people, like Max Baucus --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, when did we become idealistic in this business?

MS. CLIFT: On health care, it gives you a way to overcome the procedural filibuster.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right, right.

MS. CLIFT: And then they can pass health care with 50-plus votes.

MR. BUCHANAN: Here's what it also does.

MS. CLIFT: And that's very critical. MR. BUCHANAN: What it does, it enables the Republicans to say, "They've got everything. They got a filibuster-proof Senate. They got the House by 80, 90 votes. They got the president."

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: And the economy is still at the bottom of the barrel. Right.

MR. BUCHANAN: They're totally responsible for everything.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: The national health insurance will not get through both houses before the August recess, which means it is in big trouble because the tide is going out on that legislation.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: When the health care bill hits the floor of the House before the end of the year, more than eight Republicans will support it. Eight Republicans voted for the cap-and-trade bill.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: The Democratic protests in Iran have picked up again this week. They will accelerate. They will not subside. And they will force President Obama to back away from his ill-conceived plan to engage the Iranian regime.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: With the new Supreme Court justice next year, the Supreme Court will still support the right to bear arms under state law as well as under federal law. So you will have the Second Amendment completely changed.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Honduras dilemma will be resolved by a shared authority between the two contenders for president.

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



END.