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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 BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF JANUARY 2-3, 2010

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ANNOUNCER: It's the 28th annual McLaughlin Group year-end awards, 2009, part two. Here's the master of ceremonies, John McLaughlin.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Destined for political stardom, 2010.

MR. BUCHANAN: Marco Rubio, future United States Senate Republican hero in the future.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I've got a Republican woman, Meg Whitman, who's contending to be governor of California, former CEO of eBay, and a Democratic woman, Maria Cantwell, senator from Washington State, who's about to take the lead on climate-change legislation in the U.S. Senate.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: I have three rising stars on the right: Number one, Carly Fiorina, who's running in California against Barbara Boxer for the U.S. Senate.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is she going to win?

MS. CROWLEY: I think she will win. In this climate, I think she has a very good shot. Also the Virginia governor, the new Republican there, Bob McDonnell; and a surprise, Jenny Sanford, who is the soon- to-be ex-wife of the South Carolina governor, Mark Sanford. They're getting a divorce. She has political aspirations of her own, and I think she could be dynamite.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: To run for governor?

MS. CROWLEY: Run for governor.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, I think the political stars of 2010 are going to be the Republican congressional leaders, who are going to have the success of a huge victory in November of next year.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The envelope, please, Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: You cleaned up pretty well there, McLaughlin.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Thank you very much.

MS. CROWLEY: You're welcome.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's a further credit to me, and put that on the list of credits.

This envelope -- this is the way I remove the thingy. And here we are. I'll read this to you as soon as I take care of it. (Laughter.) Does that remind you of anything, Pat? What does that remind you of?

MR. BUCHANAN: Carnac the Magnificent. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Where was he? Who was he?

MR. BUCHANAN: Johnny Carson.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right. Destined for political stardom in 2010: Jon Huntsman, Obama's ambassador to China. The Republican former governor of Utah, Huntsman will be drafted by the GOP at the 2012 convention to run against presumably President Obama.

Okay, destined for political oblivion. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Arnold. The terminator is terminated in 2010.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Naturally, by the extension of --

MR. BUCHANAN: He ain't going anywhere else. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He doesn't want to go anywhere.

Eleanor.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: Mike Huckabee, whose presidential ambitions have been short-circuited by his pardon of a felon who then shot and killed four police officers in Seattle.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Democratic control of the House of Representatives; and as part of that, the runner up, Harry Reid, who is going to go the way of his predecessor Tom Daschle -- out of there. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, I was just about to say Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader in the Senate, is going to lose in his re-election bid next year in November.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's move it to the White House. Destined for political oblivion: Rahm Emanuel. He's the White House chief of staff, and he will be forced to fall on his sword after Democrats in Congress suffer staggering losses, as you pointed out, in the 2010 midterm elections.

Okay, best political theater, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: The beer summit, with Sergeant Crowley and Joe Biden and Professor Gates and Obama on TV, John -- great theater.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And Gates looked good and Biden looked good?

MR. BUCHANAN: Sergeant Crowley won. I think Biden -- I agree with Monica from last week. Biden looks very, very good. He had a rough first half. He's doing fine after that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor. MS. CLIFT: Well, the year started in January, so I'm going with Blago, who -- Governor Blagojevich was impeached in January and then went on to a whole saga of reality shows. And it's great political theater too, because you got the feeling he was somehow enjoying it all along the way.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: The town-hall demonstrations this summer against the government takeover of health care. Those demonstrations are exactly what the Founding Fathers had in mind. When their representatives got out of control, the people rose up.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Sarah Palin's book tour, which she organized in small towns where she had a lot of support. It catapulted her not only to number one on the Amazon list but to the leading Republican candidate for the presidency.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Sarah, a powerhouse.

Best political theater: South Carolina's Republican governor, Mark Sanford, was reported missing over the summer. His staff said he was backpacking in Appalachia. In reality, he was having an adulterous tryst with a lady in Buenos Aires.

Okay, worst political theater, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Another South Carolinian, Congressman Joe Wilson, yelling, "You lie" at the president of the United States during a joint session of Congress. It was bad theater.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that Carolingian rather than Carolinian?

MR. BUCHANAN: Carolinian. Carolinian.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Isn't it really Carolingian?

MR. BUCHANAN: Carolingian is the French kings, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No French kings there.

MS. CLIFT: Worst political theater: The August town-hall meetings masquerading as representative America, of the real America, when they were actually taken over by a minority of a minority yelling and shouting obscenities.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: While they were also, as Tomaskes (sp) wrote in the New York Review of Books, that they were racist.

MS. CROWLEY: Oh, come on.

MS. CLIFT: There were racists.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: That was best political theater. Where are we, worst political theater? MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah, worst.

MS. CROWLEY: Worst political theater. (Laughter.) I lost my train of thought.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Have you got it back now?

MS. CROWLEY: This was --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can I help you with that?

MS. CROWLEY: Yes, yes. This was when the White House passed out those white lab coats to the doctors to use them as props to suggest that all doctors support Obamacare when, in fact, 80 percent oppose it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And then the whole story was exposed. The White House was passing out the white coats and the doctors put on the white coats.

Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Governor Paterson sending Caroline Kennedy out to pursue the Senate nomination to replace Hillary Clinton, only to have them withdraw. This is what you call political hokey pokey. He puts his left foot in his mouth, then he puts his right foot in his mouth, and then he turns himself around. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Worst political theater: Senator Harry Reid saying that opponents of his health-care proposal were like slaveholders of the Civil War era.

Okay, worst political scandal.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think it's that crowd of so-called scientists, hucksters and hoaxsters over there in East Anglia, England who really put out all this false nonsense about global warming and censored honest scientists bringing the truth, Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.)

MS. CROWLEY: Right on, Pat.

MS. CLIFT: The very small percentage of e-mails that are being investigated does not change the science.

The worst political scandal -- there are so many to choose from. I'm going with Nevada Senator John Ensign, whose parents paid off the husband of his mistress, and then the senator intervened to try to get the husband a job. It's under investigation in the Ethics Committee.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, it's not illegal, is it? MS. CLIFT: Oh, I think there's a little crossing of the lines of what are supposedly appropriate ethics in the U.S. Congress.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well --

MS. CLIFT: It's okay by you? You only wish you had parents who would pay off --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, you've got to get with the times. You've got to get with the times, Eleanor.

Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: I am with Pat on Climategate. I think that is, bar none, the worst political scandal. But I'll give you another one. It is a national deficit at $1.4 trillion and a national debt ceiling being raised to $14 trillion -- scandalous.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We've got to speed it up.

Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yeah, the financial disclosures and tax avoidance of the chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee, Charlie Rangel.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I like Charlie.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I like him too. I like him a lot, but --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Worst political scandal: Attorney General Eric Holder's reopening of criminal probes into CIA counterterrorist officials and whether the CIA interrogations amounted to torture. Very bad.

Okay, most underreported story of 2009.

MR. BUCHANAN: There's no doubt, the Arctic ice cap is shrinking. But Antarctica, many times as large, is growing and expanding. How come global warming is not dealing with that?

MS. CLIFT: Are you buying real estate up there, Pat?

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: Adopting a few penguins, perhaps?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, go ahead.

MS. CLIFT: Underreported: The full extent of the ties between the pharmaceutical and the insurance industry with members of Congress who have blocked health-care reform. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, blame capitalism.

MS. CROWLEY: Most underreported: The tea-party movement, which is a true widespread, grassroots tax revolt.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Any numbers?

MS. CROWLEY: We're going to see more of this.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The discovery of water on the moon, which was caused or discovered through an explosion that we sent in a rocket that went through the surface of the moon. And it's a huge astronomical discovery. And the interesting thing is that it prompted Joe Biden to say, "You know, we should have tried sanctions first."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are we going to see a Zuckerman building now on the moon? (Laughter.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: We're working on it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Most underreported story of 2009: The impact of the economic crisis on young Americans, including both college grads and college dropouts.

Young Americans have the highest unemployment rate, and two-thirds of them, 66 percent, voted for Obama. Their Obama allegiance has now vanished.

Okay, the most overreported story of 2009.

MR. BUCHANAN: The death of Michael Jackson and the aftermath. Enough, already.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Balloon boy. I know Pat loved it, but way overdone.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: All of the challenges facing the new president. It was as if President Obama was the first president to ever face a full plate and the first one to discover that the presidency is hard.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The Octomom. On top of six children she had in vitro, she had another octuplets, which goes to prove to you that too much of a good thing is definitely not necessarily a good thing.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The most overreported story of 2009: Tiger Woods. On the basis of journalistic ideals, that is, it was overreported, not on the basis of the public interest. The public wants to hear more and more and more.

Okay, biggest government waste.

MR. BUCHANAN: Flying Barack Obama on Air Force One to Copenhagen to lobby for the Chicago Olympics and having him rejected before he got down at Andrews Air Force Base on the way home.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that where he had his meeting with McChrystal, who came down from London?

MR. BUCHANAN: He had a meeting with McChrystal right on the tarmac. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. Was that whole thing designed to get -- to pay a face to face with McChrystal?

MR. BUCHANAN: He told him, "General, get out of my face publicly, please."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wasn't that the first time he had a meeting with McChrystal --

MR. BUCHANAN: It was the second --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and it was engineered to cover the absence of meetings before that?

MR. BUCHANAN: Second face-to-face meeting, right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I don't know what you guys are getting at, but I think the president has done his due diligence on what he should do in Afghanistan, and probably what he came out with pleases both of you.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CLIFT: Wait.

MS. CROWLEY: No, she hasn't done hers. (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: Biggest government waste: The ballooning of private contractors, 74,000 of them in Afghanistan; actually more private contractors than troops this summer.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you going to let -- (inaudible) -- give out awards in the future?

MS. CLIFT: I'd like to do both.

MS. CROWLEY: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Biggest government waste -- there's so much to choose from -- $787 billion economic stimulus, a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill, a half-a-trillion-dollar omnibus spending bill, a $100 billion auto bailout, a $3.5 trillion budget, and -- my favorite -- the impending $2 trillion health-care entitlement.

MS. CLIFT: I think you pick one. Pick one.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Beautifully stated.

Mort, quickly. MR. ZUCKERMAN: The billions of dollars of wasted contracts in Iraq and all the equipment they left behind, in literally the hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean the whole war now.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, no, but the spending that we have incurred in Iraq just on infrastructure, which proved to be more or less irrelevant, was just a huge amount of waste.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was it over a trillion?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Oh, it was over a trillion, for sure.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was it a trillion and a half?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: It was close to $2 trillion.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The biggest government waste: $3 billion for Cash for Clunkers, a one-time giveaway to car buyers and automakers. Half the money went overseas to foreign carmakers. When Clunkers ended, auto sales here dropped like a rock.

Okay, best government dollar spent.

MR. BUCHANAN: The day the Supreme Court got paid for taking Frank Ricci, doing justice to him and the New Haven firefighters, giving them the promotions that these guys earned.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Sorry, John. Cash for Clunkers, successful federal program -- (laughter) -- touched a lot of middle-American families.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There's so much there, I don't know how to untangle it.

MS. CROWLEY: Best government dollar spent: The salaries for Generals Petraeus, McChrystal and Odierno.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Best dollar spent.

MS. CROWLEY: Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Underdollar. They should receive more.

MS. CROWLEY: They're underpaid, absolutely.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The money that they spent for the beer for Skip Gates and the policeman who arrested him in Cambridge, because it prompted Obama to do another book that follows "The Audacity of Hope." It's going to be called "The Audacity of Hops." (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Best government dollar spent: The $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers. The credit drew buyers into the market, and every home sold. Retailers also get new sales, like furniture and refrigerators and appliances. So the tax credit has a multiplier effect. You know that, Pat, right?

MR. BUCHANAN: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, boldest political tactic.

MR. BUCHANAN: Sarah Palin intervenes in the 23rd district of New York and sinks the Republican candidate, Dede Scozzafava, and almost elects a Conservative Party third-party candidate. Bold.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Talking about making lemonade out of lemons.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: And the Republicans lose a seat, and somehow that's a victory.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: Boldest tactic: Mayor Bloomberg changing the rules so he could win a third term.

MS. CROWLEY: Two kids named Hannah Giles and James O'Keefe, posing as a pimp and a prostitute, went undercover and blew the lid off the corruption in ACORN, leading the Congress to pull federal funding at least temporarily for ACORN.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you understand that whole story?

MS. CROWLEY: Yes, I do. And it was the boldest political tactic of the year.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The boldest political tactic was President Obama bowing to Emperor Akihitu and to the king of Saudi Arabia in failed attempts to enlist their support for his various policies.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Not -- because the effort failed.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The effort failed, yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Otherwise okay. (Laughter.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: But it was a bold attempt. That doesn't mean it succeeded.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Boldest political tactic: President Obama's cancellation of a missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic. Russia now is with the United States. It supports sanctions on Iran if Iran does not play ball. And Obama is praised as a statesman. A great deal-maker, this Obama.

Okay, best idea of 2009, Pat. MR. BUCHANAN: Sarah Palin calling her book "Going Rogue" -- 300,000 first week.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: How many mentions of Sarah Palin have you gotten in, Pat?

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: Paying back dues to the United Nations.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: On global warming, former Microsoft genius Nathan Myhrvold came up with an idea that wouldn't wreck the global economy. If you believe there's excess CO2 in the atmosphere, pump sulfur dioxide. You can do it for the cost of one fighter jet. That's innovation.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think the leaking of the information on global climate has caused a major review of all of these issues and, one way or another, will resolve it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A good idea.

Best idea of 2009: Iran's protesters used Facebook and Twitter during their protest of Iran's government. These social networking sites permitted the protesters to mobilize and strategize their rallies. We should use them more on this set, Pat, don't you think?

MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, worst idea of 2009.

MR. BUCHANAN: The Copenhagen summit on global warming. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Injecting abortion politics into the health-care debate. Worst idea.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: The White House's decision to bring Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other top al Qaeda terrorists to New York City to stand trial.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort. MR. ZUCKERMAN: Tiger Woods using text messaging and voice mails for various of his female friends.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tiger Woods also, I would say, has the worst idea; his decision to keep mum after his 2:00 a.m. car wreck. That delay made possible a flood of reports by a string of mistresses. He should have closed that gap.

Okay, sorry to see you go. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: McLaughlin panelist Robert Novak.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well stated.

MS. CLIFT: Senator Ted Kennedy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Four towering conservative minds: Bob Novak, Jack Kemp, Irving Kristol and Bill Safire.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, Walter Cronkite and Bill Safire, two of the towering journalistic figures of the postwar period, and fortunately they didn't live to see the decline of newspapers in America. I'm sorry to see them go.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I would echo all the above. And sorry to see you go, Senator Ted Kennedy, the liberal lion of the Senate. Both Democrats and Republicans feel his absence.

Okay, 15 minutes of fame. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: The Salahis. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Salahis. Now, they were the gate crashers.

MR. BUCHANAN: They were the guests, unwanted guests, at the White House.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I agree, especially the red sari.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Tiger Woods's numerous extramarital friends.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Tom DeLay dancing for 15 minutes on "Dancing with the Stars" wearing a satin outfit and saying it's connecting him to his feminine side. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right. Fifteen minutes of fame; it has to go to Tareq and Michaele Salahi, the gate crashers of the White House. By the way, their story is going to be spun out further in the House's Homeland Security Committee. We haven't heard the end of them.

Best spin of the year. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: It's a perennial. "I'm resigning because I want to spend more time with my family." (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: President Obama in his Nobel speech at Oslo squaring the circle between having just committed more troops to Afghanistan and accepting a peace award, and doing it under the rubric of the just war. It was masterful.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It was.

Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: On that subject, best spin, that the president needed three months to get his decision to increase troops by 30,000 in Afghanistan. We got that number weeks before he made the announcement, so that suggests he was stalling until health care got a foothold in the Congress.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Best spin, Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yeah, I think -- I join with Eleanor. I think the Obama speech at the Nobel prize acceptance thing to deal with the war in Afghanistan.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Best spin of the year: President Obama blaming Bush for his problems. It worked for the first nine months, which is a pretty long time, long life in the world of spin, but now spent spin.

Okay, most honest person of the year.

MR. BUCHANAN: Ron Paul -- "Audit the Fed." He's moving with his idea after 30 years.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Libertarianism now.

Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Alan Greenspan testifying on Capitol Hill that he made a mistake in believing that the markets could correct themselves.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Clint Eastwood, who is a long-time conservative in deep-left Hollywood, said this. Quote: "We're becoming more juvenile as a nation. The guys who won World War II and that whole generation have disappeared, and now we have a bunch of teenaged twits."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Most honest, Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: President Obama, on hearing that he received the Nobel prize, said, "Who, me?"

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Most honest person of the year: Angelina Jolie. She criticized President Obama for backing away from his campaign promises about human-rights abuses in Darfur, which we're going to take up soon on this show. Okay, the most overrated. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Global warming.

MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.) Charlie Crist, who turns out was mostly an absentee governor.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Tim Geithner, supposed boy genius, just had to be Treasury secretary, has been a complete disappointment.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The leaders of most of our major financial institutions in this country.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The most overrated is freedom. When faced with economic uncertainty, people don't want freedom. When they can't see their economic future, they want the nanny state.

Okay, the most underrated.

MR. BUCHANAN: Robert Gates, the most powerful man in the Cabinet.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Nancy Pelosi, who's held together a very fractious Democratic caucus and is raising money like crazy so she can prove all you people wrong that the Democrats are going to lose the majority.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Sarah Palin. She has a lot more political and cultural power than her critics can see or admit.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort, most underrated.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Dennis Blair, who is the head of our intelligence service and has done a brilliant job.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Most underrated: The intensity of the anger in the U.S. middle class. Seventy-eight million American baby boomers will soon wake up to the fact that their net worth is shattered, and 15 million Americans will realize that their jobs are not coming back.

Okay, macro prediction. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think we're headed, John, down the road to a confrontation with Iran in the year 2010, with escalated sanctions, and maybe leading down the road to military action. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Homegrown jihadism is the next phase in the war against extremism. And the arrest of the five young men from Virginia in Pakistan -- they'd gone over there to go to a jihad training camp -- suggests how the Internet helps people self-radicalize, and it's a wonderful recruiting tool for jihad leaders.

And the promising side of that story is that their parents -- immigrants, Muslims, now American citizens -- went to the FBI to report that they were missing. And so this is a generational shift in that population. We have to nurture the older attitudes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Net is also a wonderful way for al Qaeda to communicate with its operatives around the world.

MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: I think that much of the rest of the world, from Germany to China, will be looking at a much more robust economic rebound this year, more robust than the United States, because those countries did much more targeted economic stimulus. A lot of them did tax cuts. And they handled the global recession in a much more effective way than we did.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The populist anger that we have seen this past year that has been directed against the financial world, in part by the Obama administration, is going to continue to grow and produce a lot of legislation that, in the long run, is going to really inhibit the American economy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Macro prediction. In 2008, I predicted an economic downturn. In 2009, I predicted the recession would morph into a major economic meltdown, with unemployment reaching 11 percent.

In 2010, this coming year, there will be populist protests, turnover at the polls, uprising worldwide against entrenched political and business elites. It'll be a deep popular discontent. It will be fed by the recession and will be the defining political force of the coming decade. Political incumbents had better beware. It'll be a mood of extreme anti-incumbency.

Do you agree?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, I certainly do agree. I think, as Pat was implying before, the elites of this country have no awareness, really, how strong that is. And the danger is, if you get a political leadership that really tries to stoke it up and channel it, you can, as I say, create a lot of havoc in our country. That's the part I worry about. But that it's going to be there is absolutely going to be the case.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We have now a tapestry that is formulated on Barack Obama's presidency for almost a complete year one. How is he being defined up against his immediate predecessor, George W. Bush, and/or Bill Clinton, and/or Bush Sr., and/or Ronald Reagan? Do we have any kind of an impression of him against any of those tableaus?

MS. CLIFT: Well --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on, Eleanor.

Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: No, John, I don't -- I think we've entered a brand new era. And I think Reagan's era -- he was great.

He was a wonderful president for that time. Obama has failed in the sense that he wanted to be a unifier and he has failed to be that. He's gotten down to his base. And the country may be so divided ideologically, racially, ethnically, politically, religiously, because of the culture wars, the 60 and all the rest of it, that it cannot really be united behind any single party --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean, he didn't put economy first?

MR. BUCHANAN: No, I think he tried personally, but the country is divided over what it wants to do. One part of it doesn't want health care, doesn't want stimulus. It wants the private sector built up. The other party is the party of government.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did he try to cover too many big issues at once?

MS. CROWLEY: Yes.

MS. CLIFT: Well, first of all, he won with 53 percent of the vote. So, you know, the country is not all together even when they elect a president. Secondly, the presidents who did the worst in their first year are the ones that tend -- that went on to get elected -- Reagan, Clinton. The ones who did the best -- Carter, Bush Sr. -- were the ones who lost re-election. So I don't think you can tell anything now.

But you do have an administration and a Congress struggling to get hold of this populist anger and respond to it. And what we're discovering is our system -- and it's the way the Founding Fathers designed it -- it's very hard to get that -- to build those coalitions. When you have one senator who can basically shut down legislation, it's really difficult to move forward --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, there is --

MS. CLIFT: -- with the kind of speed that the crisis situation demands.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You wanted to give us some economic news. For example, foreclosures have dropped. And is there any good news with regard to consumer spending? I believe there is a current up-burst in connection with Christmas. MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think there is a bit of improvement. We've not only stopped going down. I think we've begun to go up a little bit. I just don't know how sustainable it is. And if we don't get that under control, that's going to dominate everything.

MS. CROWLEY: Absolutely. I totally agree with him. And that's why I think, yes, he did get 53 percent of the vote, but Obama is now down at about 44, 45 percent. And it is for that exact reason. It is the economy, stupid. And for better or for worse, Obama is perceived as stepping back from the economy for the first year, focusing on health care, focusing on cap and trade, off in the weeds on those issues, and not focused on the bread-and-butter issues facing Americans, and in particular jobs.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, New Year's resolution, 10 seconds each. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Begin writing the memoir of my years with Richard Milhous Nixon.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I resolve to stay cool and calm, in the "Obama no drama" tradition, as the global-warming debate heats up, confident that I have science and the facts on my side.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort. Monica, excuse me.

MS. CROWLEY: I can't wait to read Pat's memoir about the Nixon years. I'll be the first one in line buying that book.

I resolve to try to do a World War II tour of Europe.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Great.

Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Proving that modern tabloid newspapers can still survive and flourish in American cities.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: My resolution is to keep the McLaughlin Group the most insightful, analytical and accurate political program on the air and on line.

Happy New Year. Bye-bye.



END.

LEY: They're underpaid, absolutely.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The money that they spent for the beer for Skip Gates and the policeman who arrested him in Cambridge, because it prompted Obama to do another book that follows "The Audacity of Hope." It's going to be called "The Audacity of Hops." (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Best government dollar spent: The $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers. The credit drew buyers into the market, and every home sold. Retailers also get new sales, like furniture and refrigerators and appliances. So the tax credit has a multiplier effect. You know that, Pat, right?

MR. BUCHANAN: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, boldest political tactic.

MR. BUCHANAN: Sarah Palin intervenes in the 23rd district of New York and sinks the Republican candidate, Dede Scozzafava, and almost elects a Conservative Party third-party candidate. Bold.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Talking about making lemonade out of lemons.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: And the Republicans lose a seat, and somehow that's a victory.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: Boldest tactic: Mayor Bloomberg changing the rules so he could win a third term.

MS. CROWLEY: Two kids named Hannah Giles and James O'Keefe, posing as a pimp and a prostitute, went undercover and blew the lid off the corruption in ACORN, leading the Congress to pull federal funding at least temporarily for ACORN.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you understand that whole story?

MS. CROWLEY: Yes, I do. And it was the boldest political tactic of the year.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The boldest political tactic was President Obama bowing to Emperor Akihitu and to the king of Saudi Arabia in failed attempts to enlist their support for his various policies.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Not -- because the effort failed.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The effort failed, yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Otherwise okay. (Laughter.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: But it was a bold attempt. That doesn't mean it succeeded.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Boldest political tactic: President Obama's cancellation of a missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic. Russia now is with the United States. It supports sanctions on Iran if Iran does not play ball. And Obama is praised as a statesman. A great deal-maker, this Obama.

Okay, best idea of 2009, Pat. MR. BUCHANAN: Sarah Palin calling her book "Going Rogue" -- 300,000 first week.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: How many mentions of Sarah Palin have you gotten in, Pat?

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: Paying back dues to the United Nations.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: On global warming, former Microsoft genius Nathan Myhrvold came up with an idea that wouldn't wreck the global economy. If you believe there's excess CO2 in the atmosphere, pump sulfur dioxide. You can do it for the cost of one fighter jet. That's innovation.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think the leaking of the information on global climate has caused a major review of all of these issues and, one way or another, will resolve it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A good idea.

Best idea of 2009: Iran's protesters used Facebook and Twitter during their protest of Iran's government. These social networking sites permitted the protesters to mobilize and strategize their rallies. We should use them more on this set, Pat, don't you think?

MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, worst idea of 2009.

MR. BUCHANAN: The Copenhagen summit on global warming. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Injecting abortion politics into the health-care debate. Worst idea.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: The White House's decision to bring Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other top al Qaeda terrorists to New York City to stand trial.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort. MR. ZUCKERMAN: Tiger Woods using text messaging and voice mails for various of his female friends.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tiger Woods also, I would say, has the worst idea; his decision to keep mum after his 2:00 a.m. car wreck. That delay made possible a flood of reports by a string of mistresses. He should have closed that gap.

Okay, sorry to see you go. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: McLaughlin panelist Robert Novak.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well stated.

MS. CLIFT: Senator Ted Kennedy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Four towering conservative minds: Bob Novak, Jack Kemp, Irving Kristol and Bill Safire.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, Walter Cronkite and Bill Safire, two of the towering journalistic figures of the postwar period, and fortunately they didn't live to see the decline of newspapers in America. I'm sorry to see them go.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I would echo all the above. And sorry to see you go, Senator Ted Kennedy, the liberal lion of the Senate. Both Democrats and Republicans feel his absence.

Okay, 15 minutes of fame. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: The Salahis. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Salahis. Now, they were the gate crashers.

MR. BUCHANAN: They were the guests, unwanted guests, at the White House.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I agree, especially the red sari.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Tiger Woods's numerous extramarital friends.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Tom DeLay dancing for 15 minutes on "Dancing with the Stars" wearing a satin outfit and saying it's connecting him to his feminine side. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right. Fifteen minutes of fame; it has to go to Tareq and Michaele Salahi, the gate crashers of the White House. By the way, their story is going to be spun out further in the House's Homeland Security Committee. We haven't heard the end of them.

Best spin of the year. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: It's a perennial. "I'm resigning because I want to spend more time with my family." (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: President Obama in his Nobel speech at Oslo squaring the circle between having just committed more troops to Afghanistan and accepting a peace award, and doing it under the rubric of the just war. It was masterful.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It was.

Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: On that subject, best spin, that the president needed three months to get his decision to increase troops by 30,000 in Afghanistan. We got that number weeks before he made the announcement, so that suggests he was stalling until health care got a foothold in the Congress.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Best spin, Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yeah, I think -- I join with Eleanor. I think the Obama speech at the Nobel prize acceptance thing to deal with the war in Afghanistan.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Best spin of the year: President Obama blaming Bush for his problems. It worked for the first nine months, which is a pretty long time, long life in the world of spin, but now spent spin.

Okay, most honest person of the year.

MR. BUCHANAN: Ron Paul -- "Audit the Fed." He's moving with his idea after 30 years.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Libertarianism now.

Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Alan Greenspan testifying on Capitol Hill that he made a mistake in believing that the markets could correct themselves.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Clint Eastwood, who is a long-time conservative in deep-left Hollywood, said this. Quote: "We're becoming more juvenile as a nation. The guys who won World War II and that whole generation have disappeared, and now we have a bunch of teenaged twits."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Most honest, Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: President Obama, on hearing that he received the Nobel prize, said, "Who, me?"

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Most honest person of the year: Angelina Jolie. She criticized President Obama for backing away from his campaign promises about human-rights abuses in Darfur, which we're going to take up soon on this show. Okay, the most overrated. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Global warming.

MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.) Charlie Crist, who turns out was mostly an absentee governor.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Tim Geithner, supposed boy genius, just had to be Treasury secretary, has been a complete disappointment.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The leaders of most of our major financial institutions in this country.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The most overrated is freedom. When faced with economic uncertainty, people don't want freedom. When they can't see their economic future, they want the nanny state.

Okay, the most underrated.

MR. BUCHANAN: Robert Gates, the most powerful man in the Cabinet.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Nancy Pelosi, who's held together a very fractious Democratic caucus and is raising money like crazy so she can prove all you people wrong that the Democrats are going to lose the majority.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: Sarah Palin. She has a lot more political and cultural power than her critics can see or admit.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort, most underrated.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Dennis Blair, who is the head of our intelligence service and has done a brilliant job.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Most underrated: The intensity of the anger in the U.S. middle class. Seventy-eight million American baby boomers will soon wake up to the fact that their net worth is shattered, and 15 million Americans will realize that their jobs are not coming back.

Okay, macro prediction. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think we're headed, John, down the road to a confrontation with Iran in the year 2010, with escalated sanctions, and maybe leading down the road to military action. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Homegrown jihadism is the next phase in the war against extremism. And the arrest of the five young men from Virginia in Pakistan -- they'd gone over there to go to a jihad training camp -- suggests how the Internet helps people self-radicalize, and it's a wonderful recruiting tool for jihad leaders.

And the promising side of that story is that their parents -- immigrants, Muslims, now American citizens -- went to the FBI to report that they were missing. And so this is a generational shift in that population. We have to nurture the older attitudes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Net is also a wonderful way for al Qaeda to communicate with its operatives around the world.

MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.

MS. CROWLEY: I think that much of the rest of the world, from Germany to China, will be looking at a much more robust economic rebound this year, more robust than the United States, because those countries did much more targeted economic stimulus. A lot of them did tax cuts. And they handled the global recession in a much more effective way than we did.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The populist anger that we have seen this past year that has been directed against the financial world, in part by the Obama administration, is going to continue to grow and produce a lot of legislation that, in the long run, is going to really inhibit the American economy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Macro prediction. In 2008, I predicted an economic downturn. In 2009, I predicted the recession would morph into a major economic meltdown, with unemployment reaching 11 percent.

In 2010, this coming year, there will be populist protests, turnover at the polls, uprising worldwide against entrenched political and business elites. It'll be a deep popular discontent. It will be fed by the recession and will be the defining political force of the coming decade. Political incumbents had better beware. It'll be a mood of extreme anti-incumbency.

Do you agree?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, I certainly do agree. I think, as Pat was implying before, the elites of this country have no awareness, really, how strong that is. And the danger is, if you get a political leadership that really tries to stoke it up and channel it, you can, as I say, create a lot of havoc in our country. That's the part I worry about. But that it's going to be there is absolutely going to be the case.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We have now a tapestry that is formulated on Barack Obama's presidency for almost a complete year one. How is he being defined up against his immediate predecessor, George W. Bush, and/or Bill Clinton, and/or Bush Sr., and/or Ronald Reagan? Do we have any kind of an impression of him against any of those tableaus?

MS. CLIFT: Well --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on, Eleanor.

Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: No, John, I don't -- I think we've entered a brand new era. And I think Reagan's era -- he was great.

He was a wonderful president for that time. Obama has failed in the sense that he wanted to be a unifier and he has failed to be that. He's gotten down to his base. And the country may be so divided ideologically, racially, ethnically, politically, religiously, because of the culture wars, the 60 and all the rest of it, that it cannot really be united behind any single party --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean, he didn't put economy first?

MR. BUCHANAN: No, I think he tried personally, but the country is divided over what it wants to do. One part of it doesn't want health care, doesn't want stimulus. It wants the private sector built up. The other party is the party of government.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did he try to cover too many big issues at once?

MS. CROWLEY: Yes.

MS. CLIFT: Well, first of all, he won with 53 percent of the vote. So, you know, the country is not all together even when they elect a president. Secondly, the presidents who did the worst in their first year are the ones that tend -- that went on to get elected -- Reagan, Clinton. The ones who did the best -- Carter, Bush Sr. -- were the ones who lost re-election. So I don't think you can tell anything now.

But you do have an administration and a Congress struggling to get hold of this populist anger and respond to it. And what we're discovering is our system -- and it's the way the Founding Fathers designed it -- it's very hard to get that -- to build those coalitions. When you have one senator who can basically shut down legislation, it's really difficult to move forward --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, there is --

MS. CLIFT: -- with the kind of speed that the crisis situation demands.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You wanted to give us some economic news. For example, foreclosures have dropped. And is there any good news with regard to consumer spending? I believe there is a current up-burst in connection with Christmas. MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think there is a bit of improvement. We've not only stopped going down. I think we've begun to go up a little bit. I just don't know how sustainable it is. And if we don't get that under control, that's going to dominate everything.

MS. CROWLEY: Absolutely. I totally agree with him. And that's why I think, yes, he did get 53 percent of the vote, but Obama is now down at about 44, 45 percent. And it is for that exact reason. It is the economy, stupid. And for better or for worse, Obama is perceived as stepping back from the economy for the first year, focusing on health care, focusing on cap and trade, off in the weeds on those issues, and not focused on the bread-and-butter issues facing Americans, and in particular jobs.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, New Year's resolution, 10 seconds each. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Begin writing the memoir of my years with Richard Milhous Nixon.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I resolve to stay cool and calm, in the "Obama no drama" tradition, as the global-warming debate heats up, confident that I have science and the facts on my side.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort. Monica, excuse me.

MS. CROWLEY: I can't wait to read Pat's memoir about the Nixon years. I'll be the first one in line buying that book.

I resolve to try to do a World War II tour of Europe.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Great.

Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Proving that modern tabloid newspapers can still survive and flourish in American cities.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: My resolution is to keep the McLaughlin Group the most insightful, analytical and accurate political program on the air and on line.

Happy New Year. Bye-bye.



END.