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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN PANEL: PATRICK BUCHANAN, MSNBC; ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK; MONICA CROWLEY, WASHINGTON TIMES; MORTIMER ZUCKERMAN, U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT TAPED: FRIDAY, DECEMBER 4, 2009 BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF DECEMBER 5-6, 2009

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DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Think Pakistan, Not Afghanistan.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: (From videotape.) As commander in chief, I have determined that it is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan. These additional American and international troops will allow us to begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Commander in Chief Barack Obama delivered his well-leaked message on Afghanistan this week. A couple of the details of the plan provided endless debate, most of it unfruitful, and particularly the really important strategic element of the presser has been thrown into eclipse; namely, the nexus between Afghanistan and Pakistan and how dominant a position Pakistan must hold among our strategic priorities.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) Our success in Afghanistan is inextricably linked to our partnership with Pakistan. In the past, we too often defined our relationship with Pakistan narrowly. Those days are over.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Afghanistan is important because of its long strategic border with Pakistan. Pakistan, the president says, holds the greatest stakes. Why? Because Pakistan has the bomb.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) The stakes are even higher within a nuclear-armed Pakistan, because we know that al Qaeda and other extremists seek nuclear weapons.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Does al Qaeda want a nuclear weapon? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: Certainly. If al Qaeda could get one or some of their elements could get one and bring it over here in a ship or something like that, they'd love to do that.

But, John, the incoherence of the president's speech is astonishing. He said we're sending 30,000 troops to Afghanistan, which pleases General McChrystal; it's his victory. And then we're going to start pulling them out in 18 months.

Now, this sent a message to Pakistan, which is the Americans are going in, and then they're going to pull out, which would mean the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban. That would be a sanctuary against them.

Secondly, when those Marines go in there and the Army guys go in there under General McChrystal and start fighting, they're going to be driving the Taliban toward Pakistan at the same time we're saying we're withdrawing in 18 months. So the president has kicked the can up the road, John.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on for one minute, Eleanor.

Okay, more on Pakistan's nuclear bomb.

If the Taliban-al Qaeda were to have nuclear weaponry, would they use it? Answer: Yes.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) We have every reason to believe that they would use them.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question. They would use them, says the commander in chief, who is also the head of the CIA, so to speak. He has all of that information. They would use the bomb. So the planet's most vulnerable location for nuclear theft is Pakistan. Is that true? MS. CLIFT: Yes, but that's not the only place to get nuclear material. There's lots of loose nukes around the old Soviet Union. And I think what al Qaeda is more likely to get is some sort of suitcase bomb, not a classic bomb that drops from the sky. So I think it is a real threat.

And, you know, President Bush talked about al Qaeda plotting as he delivered his speeches, and President Obama used the same language. And I must say, if that were President Bush speaking, I would have said he's trying to scare us, because Bush went to that well too often.

But this president is going through a methodical review. He's listened to all sides. And I think he has made a considered judgment that we need to be in Afghanistan. And I think he was listening to more than Stanley McChrystal; Hillary Clinton, Admiral Mullen from the Joint Chiefs, and the Defense Secretary Gates. I think they're all aligned with this rather tougher strategy.

And while all the attention has gone to the so-called exit date, Gates called it an inflection point. You know, my friends on the left think it's a false promise in that it's mostly political, and Pat Buchanan thinks it's a version of cutting and running. It's actually a very clever political ploy.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Before we go on to Monica here, okay, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton -- let me pick that up -- she was in Pakistan six weeks ago with $1.5 billion in foreign aid if Pakistan were to chase down al Qaeda; the al Qaeda-Taliban, in fact, partially Taliban, in Pakistan's tribal area. This is what she said.

SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON: (From videotape.) Pakistan doesn't have to take this money. Let me be very clear. You do not have to take this money. And if Pakistan doesn't want the money, we're not going to impose it on you.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: The strings that she placed on that money was that they would search out the al Qaeda and Taliban in their tribal areas.

MS. CROWLEY: Yeah.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did they oblige?

MS. CROWLEY: Well, over the last six months, we have seen a lot more progress on behalf of the Pakistani government to really go on the offense to try to root the al Qaeda elements within their own borders and to go after the Pakistani Taliban, which is actually different from the Afghan Taliban.

We do know that al Qaeda has been in pursuit, hot pursuit, of nuclear weapons at least for the last 15 years. That's why the president did emphasize Pakistan. And frankly, that is pretty much the only reason why we are in Afghanistan. Afghanistan by itself is not strategically important to the United States. Let's face it, it's basically a pile of rocks. We are there because we need a relatively stabilizing military presence across the border from Pakistan.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: If the bomb is what's in question now, front and center, why is he limiting himself to 30,000 troops? I mean, if that were true and we were really worried about it, wouldn't we be pouring all of our resources -- I ask you this -- all of our resources into a battle right now to secure the bomb over in Pakistan if it's insecure in any way?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: What we're trying to do is to contain al Qaeda and the Taliban. The Pakistanis are going after those people in Pakistan where there is a danger that they might threaten Pakistani possession of the bomb. So this is not the American role, frankly, at this stage of the game. It is the American role to try and make sure that the Taliban don't get so strong in Pakistan that they threaten the regime. And that is, in fact, what we are doing, and that is the single best rationale for why we should be in Afghanistan.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, your point is --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I want to say one more thing.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: And that is, you can't just say that Afghanistan is just geography or a pile of rocks. I have to say I disagree. It was from that pile of rocks that people launched the 9/11 attack on us. It was a terrorist base.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, your point is very well taken. The president of the United States said what's at issue here is the security of the United States, of the allies, of the whole world. We have vital national interests over here, the safety of the American people. And then he says we're going to put in 30,000 troops and pull them out in 18 months. That is inherently non-credible. Your point: If this is that vital --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- why doesn't he tell General McChrystal, "General McChrystal, why don't we have 100,000 troops?"

MS. CLIFT: That's not what he said. He didn't say, "I'm going to put them in there and I'm going to pull them out in 18 months."

MR. BUCHANAN: Start pulling them out.

MS. CLIFT: Start pulling them out; that's a very flexible statement.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: I don't --

MS. CLIFT: And President Bush --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, okay, we don't want to argue that point --

MS. CLIFT: President Bush --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- because it's been argued to death and it's unfruitful. Okay, if Pakistan can get its act together, why can't President Karzai of Afghanistan do the same thing? Here's his answer as to why he cannot.

AFGHANISTAN PRESIDENT HAMID KARZAI: (From videotape.) Afghanistan has a central government. It's not a federal government.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Afghanistan has a central government. It does not have a federal government. Does that get him off the hook?

MS. CROWLEY: Well, barely. I mean, look, I think one of the mistakes that this administration has made is that it has continually bad-mouthed President Karzai, because they would have preferred Mr. Abdullah or somebody else to replace President Karzai.

Afghanistan, unlike Iraq, has no real tradition, at least not for the last couple of decades, of a real strong central government. And that's one of the reasons why we're really up against it there.

Getting back to your point about nuclear weapons, I just want to raise the point of Iran. We're so focused on Pakistan, as we should be; they already have about 100 operational nuclear weapons. But think about it this way. We're going to have 100,000 troops to the east of Iran in Afghanistan, 100,000 troops to the west of Iran in Iraq, and we could -- and I will be the first one to give the president his props if he does this, to use that as leverage against the Iranians.

MS. CLIFT: Two small points --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think China can help us in any way, China being tight with Pakistan?

MS. CROWLEY: With Pakistan. Maybe on the Pakistan-Afghanistan problem, but not on the Iran.

MS. CLIFT: Two small points. All the talking about President Karzai did serve to put some pressure on him. And the deadline is also to let him know that America might walk away from this battle. As somebody put it, he could find himself strung up from a lamp post.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit --

MS. CLIFT: Second of all, President Bush --

MR. BUCHANAN: But, you know, the --

MS. CLIFT: President Bush had a surge that --

MR. BUCHANAN: (I don't care about ?) Bush.

MS. CLIFT: I do. He had a deadline when he announced the surge. MR. BUCHANAN: You say --

MS. CLIFT: This is not irresponsible.

MR. BUCHANAN: Obama says the whole world depends on this, and you say now we're saying we can walk away if we want to. It's incoherent, Eleanor.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question --

MS. CLIFT: That's the pressure you have on Karzai.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: I don't think you have to put that much emphasis on that date. I think he's free to move that around.

MS. CLIFT: Right. Exactly.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Will Afghanistan become Obama's Vietnam, meaning the U.S. will take casualties without winning that war in Afghanistan?

MR. BUCHANAN: Because he is topping out at 100,000, John, and maybe 100,000 can't win; maybe you've got to keep on fighting. He's got a real deadline in mid-July of 2011 as to whether he keeps going in or he comes out.

MS. CLIFT: That's right. He's got exit ramps and he can reassess. He's not going to let it turn into Vietnam.

MS. CROWLEY: It could be very well be, and here's why. Either a war has to be fought or it doesn't. And the president's so-called strategy this week tries to split the difference. There are inherent contradictions in this policy between surge and withdrawal and winning it and ending it. And those inherent tensions could undermine the whole effort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, amongst other things, it might be a Vietnam in this sense. It'll divide the Democratic Party, because the liberal left wing of the Democratic Party is very much opposed to what he's doing. So you could have a different kind of political upheaval here in that sense.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: 2012 will be the year of the re-election of Obama if he -- hopefully, from his point of view, if he runs. And I think he's going to withdraw the troops before that date occurs.

Issue Two: Jobs Pain.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) I'm glad you all could join us today for this job forum here at the White House. We've got leaders from just about every sector of the economy. REP. JEB HENSARLING (R-TX): (From videotape.) Unfortunately, we all know the sad news that, under this administration and this Congress, our nation has the worst, worst unemployment rate in a generation. Over three and a half million of our fellow countrymen have lost their jobs since President Obama has come into office.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: The president this week hosted a, quote-unquote, "job summit" at the White House. One hundred and thirty invitations were extended. The invitees were divided into six discussion groups: One, green jobs; two, small-business growth; three, government- infrastructure spending; four, U.S. export volume expansion; five, business competitiveness; six, workforce training.

Question: Was the summit productive, Mort, or was this a snow job?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, you know, it's partly political, obviously, but I think it did help to have a dialogue about some of these issues. I was in the infrastructure panel, actually, and we had some good ideas there, including setting up a national infrastructure bank, which, it turns out, I think this administration is looking at very favorably.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is that?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: It means you've got to take the infrastructure spending, that it goes through the Congress, where we build a lot of, as they say, bridges to nowhere, or you have a $350 million unirail that Harry Reid manages to get from Las Vegas to Disneyland, or you get a certain congressman who -- and I said this to him; I said, "You know, I want to be a congressman, because as soon as I do, I'm going to get my own airport." That was John Murtha, if you remember.

I mean, these are the kinds of things that have undercut any kind of legitimacy for it; so to take it out there and have it rationally based, where it's based on the maximum economic benefit for the country, and put that money and give the banks --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why don't they --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- the capability of raising money and guaranteeing state and local projects.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why don't they put professionals in charge of that entity?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: But that's the exact idea. You're absolutely right. They do want to put professionals --

MR. BUCHANAN: Try to get that from Congress. (Laughs.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The problem is you have to get it out of Congress. Pat's absolutely right. The Congress, this is one of their great honey pots, okay?

MR. BUCHANAN: Sure.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: But it's absolutely, at this point, particularly because there is a serious risk that we're going to have a long-term high level of unemployment, you've got to begin planning of this thing, making sure it's all ready to go. And this is the single --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: How can he squeeze Congress to give him what he wants? That is, to populate the panel with professionals who are in construction, in engineering, et cetera?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, that's going to be the challenge. Who's going to make the decisions? Right now each congressman puts their own little piece of pork into the deal. They trade off, one against the other. And what you do is you dilute the effectiveness dramatically.

MR. BUCHANAN: But Mort, be realistic. MR. ZUCKERMAN: And that is what exactly is --

MR. BUCHANAN: You can't get that from the Congress of the United States. That is their honey pot.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I agree.

MR. BUCHANAN: And they're not going to say, "Mort, why don't you take over whether I get an airport or whether I get a building named after me?"

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay --

MS. CLIFT: But there will be legislation next year. (Laughs.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: We are at the point here, if you have two or three years of 8 to 10 percent unemployment, you're going to have a very different view in the Congress.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's find out what Mort has to say about this -- the non-invited to that conference.

So who wasn't invited to the big summit? Two major organizations that represent small-business interests and who have emerged as loud opponents of the president's economic agenda and his health-care reform effort -- they were both snubbed -- the National Federation of Independent Business and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the nation's largest business lobby.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs did not appear interested in discussing who was invited and who was not invited to the job summit at the White House.

(Begin videotaped segment.)

WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY ROBERT GIBBS: Can we get on to something semi-pertinent?

Q No, I mean, this is pertinent. You guys think the Chamber of Commerce --

MR. GIBBS: No, I don't think it is.

(End videotaped segment.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: How damaging was it for Barack Obama's image that he did not invite the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, with its enormous reach both in this country and throughout the world, and the National Federation of Independent Business to the White House job summit? Why? MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think it was relatively undamaging. I don't think it really affected it very much. I've got to tell you something. There were a lot of business people there. There were a lot of people representing -- there were mayors. There were various union interests. There were various professional interests.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: CEOs?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: A lot of CEOs, for sure. So it's not as if business people weren't represented there. But these particular organizations, I don't think it was critical to the deliberations of this --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What was the common --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: And let me just give you one -- the small- business thing. One of the critical recommendations there was that you dramatically expand the Small Business Administration and their ability to finance small business, because credit is frozen for small business.

MS. CLIFT: I want to --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does small business lead the way? I'm going to go to you, Eleanor, in a moment.

MS. CROWLEY: Yes.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does small business lead the way in bringing more money in?

MS. CROWLEY: Small business has always led the way in terms of job creation. What we know now is it's fresh small business. It's startup small businesses that generate the most job creation. Upwards of 70 percent of new jobs are created by those startups.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You hear that, Eleanor?

MS. CROWLEY: And so --

MS. CLIFT: Yes. And a lot of the people who were at the White House --

MS. CROWLEY: Wait. Excuse me. I'm very glad that Mort was there, but I do think that it was a real, real mistake for President Obama not to include those major businesses, because, look, President -- business organizations -- President Obama has the fewest number of advisers around him over the last 100 years of American presidents who have made a career -- made their livings in the private sector. Less than 10 percent of his economic advisers have been in the private sector. Again, I'm glad that Mort was there, but when he's surrounded with people from academia -- MS. CLIFT: The lack of people --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on.

MS. CROWLEY: -- pardon me -- academia and the public sector --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Finish the point.

MS. CROWLEY: -- he's not getting advice on how to create private-sector jobs.

MS. CLIFT: A lot of the --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Doesn't he look punitive in that?

MS. CLIFT: No.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Doesn't he?

MS. CLIFT: No. First of all, a lot of the people who were at the White House have never been to the White House. They came from all over the country. And it was an honor, and it was also wonderful networking, and a lot of good idea exchanges.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't think the Chamber --

MS. CLIFT: The Chamber of Commerce --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- would have brought that type of people in?

MS. CLIFT: The Chamber of Commerce has been an unrelenting opponent of this president, particularly --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh.

MS. CLIFT: -- on climate change.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, so this is get-even time with Obama.

MS. CLIFT: Excuse me. And a number of the Chamber's clients have resigned. Prominent companies have withdrawn because the Chamber --

MR. BUCHANAN: John --

MS. CLIFT: -- is not keeping with the modern times and acknowledging that we need to shift to a green economy.

MR. BUCHANAN: John --

MS. CLIFT: Their position is well-known. The fact that they were not there is not damaging. I agree with Mort on that.

MR. BUCHANAN: John --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah, what happened, these fears that I think the NFIB guy or the Chamber guy would walk out on the White House lawn and say, "Health care is what's killing this economy," and they didn't want to take the risk. I think Mort's right. As long as you've got a lot of executives in there, a lot of business guys in there, you're covered. DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three: Sorry, So Sorry.

"I have let my family down, and I regret those transgressions with all my heart. I've not been true to my values and the behavior my family deserves."

Question: Americans crave cleaning-living star athletes. What are they getting? Kobe Bryant, Barry Bonds, A-Rod on steroids, Michael Vick, sprinters doping at the Olympics, and now Tiger. Will Americans stop idolizing athletes? I ask you, Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: That was quite a rogues' gallery you just ticked off there. And there are others.

Look, I think we're always going to idolize movie stars and rock stars and athletes, and I think that's actually pretty sad, because there are so many truly extraordinary, heroic Americans; for example, the American troops that are on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq and elsewhere, firefighters, police officers, teachers. Those are the folks that we should be idolizing, and not folks like Tiger Woods.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, this is a tragedy, because I think one guy, Tiger Woods, was terrific. I think Tiger Woods, he's handled himself better than any athlete I've seen. He's a role model for little kids. Parents say, "You can grow up and be like Tiger Woods." And this, I think, is really --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you speak of him in the past tense. You don't think he can recover? Do you think he can recover?

MS. CLIFT: Oh, I think he can recover. I think he's got fantastic talent. And, look, he's human. I'm not condoning what he did, but I'd like to let him work it out with his wife.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Suppose the galleries of ladies continue. Then what happens?

MS. CLIFT: Well, I think --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the break point?

MS. CLIFT: All the sponsors are sticking by him. And if this is having affairs, I think they've --

MR. BUCHANAN: You didn't say that about Governor --

MS. CLIFT: -- had that before in public life.

MR. BUCHANAN: You didn't say that about Governor Sanford. (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: Governor Sanford walked away from his job. MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is there any larger question --

MS. CLIFT: This guy's got to perform on the golf course.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is there any larger question here? Is there any correlation between the current recession and extramarital relations?

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I don't think so, actually. My experience -- let me just -- I have to answer this.

MR. BUCHANAN: Is there a study out, John, that we've missed? (Laughs.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: There is a study out on this.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Just a minute. Just a minute. Most of the people I know who are doing well have more extramarital affairs. I don't know; it's not related to --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: The ones that are doing well.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes. They're the ones who have more of the extramarital affairs.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Oh, yeah.

(Cross talk.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Going back over the years --

MR. BUCHANAN: It's your friends, Mort. (Laughs.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- 1982 was a heavy year with regard to extramarital relations.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I'm not familiar with that. That's way before my time, John.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, wasn't that during a recession -- '82?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes.

MR. BUCHANAN: Deep recession.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Deep recession. MR. BUCHANAN: Worst since the Depression.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: So we can lay some of this off onto the general social condition?

MS. CLIFT: For the frugal-minded in a recession, I would like to point out that having extramarital affairs is not free, and we're watching Tiger Woods pay the cost.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Four: Crasher Gate.

The House Homeland Security panel this week began its investigation of how Tareq and Michaele Salahi gained entrance to a White House state dinner. But the White House social secretary did not show up to the hearing, despite being asked to do so. That's because the White House invoked executive privilege and blocked her appearance.

Here's what happened.

VALERIE JARRETT (senior White House adviser): (From videotape.) There are only rare instances where members from his administration, the White House, have actually appeared before Congress. We don't think that this rises to that level.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Is this a bum rap against the Salahis or an okay rap? Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Oh, I think it is not a bum rap. I think it is an okay rap. You don't come to those very special events unless you are very clearly invited. I mean, it is amazing that they had nobody checking them at the gate. It is amazing that they went through this evening. But it is absolutely -- and the security issues here became really paramount.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, nobody distinguishes themselves in this thing. The Secret Service then suspended three of their agents for just basically waving them through. You could call it profiling. They looked at these people. They were beautiful people. They looked like they belong. So, come on in.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: She was a beautiful person. He wasn't a beautiful person.

MS. CLIFT: Well, he was dressed right. He was dressed right.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Okay, he was wearing a rented tuxedo.

MS. CLIFT: And then the White House doesn't look good either, because in the past there's always been someone from the social secretary's staff at the gate checking off names. And the social secretary had let go the person who did that during the Bush administration, decided she would discontinue the practice. And so that was --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think the most offensive thing was not having a metal detector there when they --

MS. CLIFT: Oh, they had that.

MS. CROWLEY: They did.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Were they --

MS. CROWLEY: They all went through magnetometers. So, yeah, no, that was in place. DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Including the Salahis.

MS. CLIFT: Oh, sure.

MS. CROWLEY: They all went through, yeah. But I find it incredible that of all of things that we could have a constitutional crisis over -- bailouts, requiring Americans to buy health insurance, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to New York -- this is what it's over? It's over the White House social secretary invoking executive privilege?

MS. CLIFT: I don't think we're having a constitutional crisis.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about that? What about that?

MS. CROWLEY: Desiree Rogers is the White House social secretary. She's not going to testify, even though both Republicans and Democrats would like to bring her to Capitol Hill to testify. She clearly failed here. She was a guest at that dinner. She's had spreads in Vogue Magazine. She sort of fancies herself as her own kind of celebrity. She should have been on the job instead of --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's not fair. That's not fair.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me raise this point, and that is, Mrs. Salahi is -- I guess they both are scheduled to do an on-camera continuing appearance for another television program. So the producer said, "We've got to get a stunt like the kid in the balloon." Remember that? And this stunt will drive people to see the show --

MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- they're going to introduce.

MR. BUCHANAN: This was a knockoff of balloon boy, John. You're exactly right. "D.C. Housewives," I think, was the name of the show they were working on.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes.

MR. BUCHANAN: But let me say this. I do agree with the White House in protecting her from having to go up to the Congress of the United States. But she should walk into that press room, because they are throwing the Secret Service under the bus. Maybe they deserve it. But she failed in her job.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who do you think they did the deal with at the White House to make all of this transfer as a total stunt, and then reveal it as a stunt?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, if anybody colluded in this stunt inside the White House -- DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, somebody must have okayed it. Is that Emanuel?

MR. BUCHANAN: No.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, no.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Would Emanuel be --

MR. BUCHANAN: You saw Emanuel in that picture.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- yielding to a producer of the show?

MR. BUCHANAN: The worst picture Emanuel's ever had taken was that one they're putting --

MS. CLIFT: The White House staff was not in on this.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: How do you know that?

MS. CLIFT: How do I know that? Because that would be political suicide --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Would they dynamite the state dinner? (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: -- smuggling in gate-crashers.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: In other words, the whole sequence of events, as we know it today, was anticipated and desired as a stunt to bring people to the --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, no.

MS. CLIFT: Why would the White House staff want to --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: If the White House staff had been involved, none of them would have taken a picture with them. That much I can tell you. (Laughs.)

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: You don't put yourself in with the local criminals, you know.

MS. CROWLEY: Certainly not the president or --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that --

MR. BUCHANAN: Rahm would kill somebody that did that and brought them in there. So would Obama.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who's conducting the hearing on Capitol Hill? MS. CROWLEY: Homeland Security, I think.

MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah.

MS. CROWLEY: Homeland Security Committee. And here's why --

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is the big question here? The big question is whether there's penetration of the White House.

MS. CROWLEY: Of the White House. And let's not forget, there was a foreign head of state standing next to the president of the United States. So, of course, we're all concerned about the security of the president and the vice president, but also there was a foreign head of state. The prime minister of India was standing there, and he cannot be too pleased about all of this.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Ron Paul gets his audit of the Fed.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: General Petraeus, by sitting in on Obama's speech, will not be a candidate for the Republicans in 2012.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Interesting.

Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Home prices will resume their decline, starting next year.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Ben Bernanke will be approved as chairman of the Federal Reserve Board.

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: The independence of the Federal Reserve Board will be maintained, despite the legislative challenge against it.

Bye-bye.



END.