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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN PANEL: PATRICK BUCHANAN, MSNBC; ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK; MONICA CROWLEY, WASHINGTON TIMES; CLARENCE PAGE, CHICAGO TRIBUNE TAPED: FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 2011 BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF FEBRUARY 19-20, 2011

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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Arab Revolt.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: (From videotape.) And I also think that an important lesson that we can draw from this is real change in these societies is not going to happen because of terrorism. It's going to happen because people come together and apply moral force to a situation.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: From Algeria to Iran, Arabs are applying moral force to their situations. The protesters have generally three things in common. They are all relatively young and they are mostly jobless. They also use online social media websites like Facebook and Twitter to organize their political activity. Over 640 people have died since protests began in late December. Algeria: Median age of the Algerian population, 27 years; unemployment rate of the general population, 9.9 percent.

Tunisia: Median age of the general population, 30; unemployment rate, general population, 14 (percent).

Libya: Age, 24; unemployment, 30 (percent).

Egypt: Age, 24; unemployment, 9.7 (percent).

Jordan: Age, 22; unemployment, 13.4 (percent).

Syria: Age, 21; unemployment, 8.3 (percent).

Iraq: Age, 21; unemployment, 15.3 (percent).

Yemen: Age, 18; unemployment, 35 (percent).

Iran: Age, 26; unemployment, 14.6 (percent).

And finally, the kingdom of Bahrain: Age, 30; unemployment, 3.7 percent. Bahrain, by the way, is a key U.S. ally in the Persian Gulf. It hosts the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet. The fleet keeps the Persian Gulf open for transport from Persian Gulf countries to the rest of the world. Thirty-five percent of the world's oil passes through this Persian Gulf. The Persian Gulf is also a strategic area for the 5th Fleet to monitor Iran's activities.

Question: What explains the explosive protests throughout the Middle East, especially these 10 nations? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think it was Tunisia, John, the first thing where they saw a dictator who could be knocked off. His security forces didn't defend him. The army didn't defend him. And he was gone in a matter of days. Suddenly it goes to Egypt. This is 1848, John. As it happened all across Europe, it's happened all across the Middle East.

But I'll tell you, Bahrain is really key. It's an island of about 500,000 natives. About 70 percent are Shia, 30 percent Sunni. It's got a lot of foreign workers. And they've been shooting them in the streets on Friday after services in the mosque.

And what's going to happen there, John, I think, they're going to put that down with force of arms, because you've got the American 5th Fleet sitting in there. And if that goes, across the causeway is the eastern province of Saudi Arabia, where there are 2 million Shia and almost 90 percent of oil is produced.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I would point out, too, that in Tunisia you had that self-immolation of the young man. Recall that? Eleanor, what do you think?

MS. CLIFT: Well, as the statistics you just put up on the screen indicate, there's an incredible youth bulge in all of these countries. And they're seeing the opportunities. Because of the availability through Facebook and the Internet, they know what's out there, and they're not getting any of it.

And so I think this is really redefining what we used to call the Arab street. We used to consider those kind of fringe radicals. This is really a truly populist uprising. It's doctors. It's lawyers. It's unemployed youth. But it really is a huge swath of the population.

And it's fascinating to watch the administration, because, unlike with Egypt, I don't think they're nudging any of these autocratic leaders behind the scene necessarily to leave. The president is articulating America's, you know, core interests and our core values. But he's kind of leaving it there and letting the chips fall where they may, because I think there's really worry about what happens after the revolution in these countries, if it gets to that point.

MS. CROWLEY: Yeah, and that's always the most vulnerable moment. It's sort of now in Egypt where everything is such in flux. I think there are a lot of different dynamics going on here, and a lot of the dynamics vary country to country. So in the case of, say, Tunisia or Algeria, you do have a great thirst for economic prosperity, economic opportunity.

In a country like Egypt now, the Muslim Brotherhood has been orchestrating this from the very beginning. The Muslim Brotherhood, the original community organizers, they have been waiting 80 years for this moment in Egypt. They're not going to blow it. They're riding this. We had the ominous return al-Qaradawi, who is the godfather of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, came back from Qatar this week into Egypt; some ominous signs coming out of there.

In Bahrain, what we really have is not so much an economic revolt or even an Islamist revolt. What we have is a monarchy that is Sunni; 70 percent of the population is Shia. So you have a tremendous imbalance there. And pay very close attention to Iran, because Iran is a mischief maker in Bahrain. It's a Shia state. They want to support the Shia. But also they would like to see a Shia uprising really take hold in Bahrain to get the United States's 5th Fleet out of there.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the impact on Israel?

MS. CROWLEY: Very dangerous, because right now, look, Israel is surrounded by Iran now on all sides -- Hezbollah to the north in Lebanon and Syria, Hamas in the south with Gaza. The Egyptian situation continues to unfold but looks very dangerous. It looks like the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist influence could ride this to at least a conclusion that they can control and expand their influence. And now you've got Iran --

MR. PAGE: Or maybe not.

MS. CLIFT: Right.

MS. CROWLEY: -- playing games elsewhere.

MS. CLIFT: Or maybe not, exactly.

MS. CROWLEY: It's very dangerous.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?

MR. PAGE: Maybe not. I think that the Muslim Brotherhood --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And welcome.

MR. PAGE: Thank you, John. Great to be back. Reports of the Muslim Brotherhood have been greatly exaggerated from a lot of sources. Their actual impact -- I mean, to a large degree, they've been rather amazed trying to get ahead of the parade over there too.

I think what's more important is, and a big lesson for despots, is if you're going to have an educated populace, get them some jobs. Egypt certainly had a lot of frustrated young educated people. We saw some of them going off to join al-Qaida or the Muslim Brotherhood. But a lot of them are not ideological. They just want to have a say in how they're governed. There was really tremendous pro-democracy spirit going on out there. And that's troubling to some people here in the States, who don't want Egypt to have democracy unless they're going to elect somebody that they like.

MR. BUCHANAN: The problem is, John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think of Mr. Obama's performance thus far vis-a-vis --

MR. PAGE: I thought he got off to a slow start, but he got up to speed, which is not that unusual in these kind of situations. I mean, we didn't have anybody here in the U.S. predicting the fall of the Berlin Wall either. This has been a massive series of events that everybody said could happen someday, but you didn't know when.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, America's crisis -- MR. PAGE: And I think it kind of came together --

MR. BUCHANAN: America's crisis is a result of a direct conflict between our ideals and beliefs, which are in democracy and one man, one vote, and in our vital interests. In Bahrain, you got an American fleet there, the 5th Fleet, which is a check on Iran. If you have one man, one vote, you will get a Shia government there, and the Sunnis aren't going to allow that and the king of Bahrain is not going to allow that. And I don't think the Americans want that.

MS. CLIFT: Why is why -- which is why you see the administration playing this very carefully. They're really not out front nudging these leaders aside. On the other hand, if that leader in Bahrain topples, the administration wants to be sure they're seen on the side of history and on the side of young people.

MR. PAGE: That's right.

MS. CLIFT: And what you have is an awakening in what was before a pretty moribund part of the world when it came to politics. And now, instead of people being afraid of the governments, you have the governments afraid of the people.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, that's why the governments are starting to shoot.

MS. CLIFT: It's a stunning turnaround.

MR. BUCHANAN: The governments are starting to use live ammunition now in all of these places.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You want to point out that in Bahrain, unlike in other Muslim countries, alcohol is okay? That means our sailors are able to get a beer or a martini to freshen up.

MS. CROWLEY: Our sailors certainly can. (Laughs.) Hello, sailor.

Look, Bahrain is a relatively secular state. It is, because it's an absolute monarchy. And it is a vital interest of the United States. It's right there as a choke point in the Persian Gulf, where much of the world's oil flows. Did you know that there is an oil tanker from the Persian Gulf on its way to Japan every 100 miles? It comes right out of there. And also keep in mind that that island nation of Bahrain lies right next to -- 13 and a half miles away from Saudi Arabia.

MR. PAGE: Bahrain is more of a commercial enterprise, actually, is a more accurate description.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What I'm not getting from you, Clarence -- and this surprises me, because I know how -- MR. PAGE: I'm full of surprises, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You are? Do you want to make a list of --

MR. PAGE: Then it wouldn't be a surprise. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm not getting a sense of how serious this whole range of 10 countries enduring this is to the globe, the planet.

MR. PAGE: It's very serious. It's very serious.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I mean, are we redesigning the planet?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mentioned Israel. The problem for Israel is not war with Egypt, because I don't think the Egyptian military wants it. It is absolute, utter isolation. As Monica pointed out, they lost Iran in '79.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.

MR. BUCHANAN: They lost the Turks recently. They're losing Egypt.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.

MR. BUCHANAN: You've got Hamas to the south, Hezbollah to the north. And the king of Jordan is in trouble.

MR. PAGE: That's right.

MS. CLIFT: Well, I don't know that their isolation is significantly worse than it was before. And I actually think the Israeli leadership has been playing this pretty well. They were nervous at first, and they now seem to be understanding that this is okay, that they're going to survive, and maybe everybody can ride this out. The point is, we're not going to be able to control these forces.

MR. BUCHANAN: No, I agree.

MS. CLIFT: So celebrate the democratic uprising and then try to --

MR. BUCHANAN: I don't think I'll celebrate until I see how this comes out. (Laughs.)

MR. PAGE: Well, and that's the way Israel is playing it too. They're waiting to see how it's going to come out.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tunisia --

MR. PAGE: We don't want to make the mistake, though, of riding the wrong pony, right -- MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tunisia --

MR. PAGE: -- especially when you do have bloodshed on the streets in Bahrain.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tunisia, which was the first to blow, now they're experiencing turmoil.

MR. BUCHANAN: And flight.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: People are moving, trying to get to Italy --

MR. BUCHANAN: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and the island off the coast of Italy, which is Italian.

MR. BUCHANAN: Six thousand have left the country.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What?

MR. BUCHANAN: Six thousand have left the country. That's a real possibility.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So the sequel to what we see --

MR. BUCHANAN: It's unfolding, John. You're right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. And the relief, particularly in the economy, that these countries hope will --

MR. BUCHANAN: This is the point, John. There's two points. One is they are. They're fleeing Tunisia.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.

MR. BUCHANAN: They're frightened to death, a lot of them. And the flight from Egypt hasn't started. But how do these people --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, we've been an aftermath --

(Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We've been the aftermath of 10 countries over there.

MS. CLIFT: Also, a lot of people --

MR. BUCHANAN: How do they solve the economic problem, John? I don't know that they've got the answers. MS. CLIFT: A lot of people fled Iraq also because they didn't like what was happening. And I don't remember a lot of discussion on this group worrying about that fight.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, the Christians are gone.

MS. CROWLEY: And a lot of people now are leaving Egypt and going back to Iraq because Iraq seems relatively stable. But the whole question of democratization, we've got to hope for the best and hope that this sort of cracks open the whole Middle East with greater political and economic liberalization.

But we also have to prepare for the worst, because this neighborhood has no track record of democracy. And the only Arab democracy that exists is the one built by the United States in Iraq. And the last democratic experience we had --

MR. BUCHANAN: There is --

MR. PAGE: But --

MS. CLIFT: Iraq --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let her finish. Let her finish.

MS. CROWLEY: The last democratic vote that we saw in the Middle East was Gaza. Hamas won with 70 percent of the vote.

MR. BUCHANAN: You've got an example of a democracy, John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's this again?

MR. BUCHANAN: The biggest democracy in the Middle East is Turkey.

MR. PAGE: Right.

MR. BUCHANAN: Now, where have they gone? They used to be pro- American, pro-Israel and anti-Islamic. They're moving pro-Islamic, anti-Israel, anti-American.

MS. CROWLEY: Right.

MR. PAGE: But not anti-democratic.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think it's apocalypse now?

MR. BUCHANAN: No, I think Turkey is the best model you're going to get.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: How long will it be before tourism returns to normal and we can see the Pyramids and the camels, those lovely supercilious camels? Give me the day, the month and the year when tourists will be welcome in Egypt.

MR. BUCHANAN: When you've got a functioning democratic republic.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, when is that?

MR. BUCHANAN: I don't -- I don't know, John. I have no idea.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you want to hazard a guess?

MR. BUCHANAN: I would say you're not going to get it back this year.

MS. CLIFT: I've got friends --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Give me an enlightened conjecture.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think if you get a military regime, you could get them back in a year.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, if, if, if. Prediction.

MS. CLIFT: I've got friends who are going to Egypt next week. They are eager for tourists. And they can't wait until they have a functioning regime after elections are held six months --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think it'll be back to normal?

MS. CLIFT: I'm not going to say normal, but there are going to be -- there are tours that are going to be going into Egypt. People want to see what's happening there.

MS. CROWLEY: Well, they have to be very brave, because the reports that we've gotten out of Egypt over the last several weeks of a lot of western journalists -- CBS's Lara Logan getting brutally attacked; a lot of other male reporters --

MR. PAGE: Publicly by pro-Mubarak forces.

MS. CROWLEY: -- getting brutally attacked -- I think it's going to be quite a while before westerners return to Egypt.

MR. PAGE: The fact is, tourism is a major industry in Egypt.

MS. CROWLEY: Right.

MR. PAGE: The army over there is certainly one of the best in the region, probably the best. And they're going to do everything they can to restore tourism as quickly as they can. I think that's what you're going to see by this summer.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I would say a calendar year from now, it'll be back to normal. Issue Two: Credit Card Nation.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) We're not going to be running up the credit card anymore. That's important.

And that's hard to do, but it's necessary to do. And I think the American people understand that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The United States is equivalently living off a credit card. For the fiscal year that began four months ago and terminates eight months from now, the nation will run up deficits of $1.5 trillion in credit. So says the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the CBO, in its 190-page report, "The Budget and Economic Outlook, Fiscal Years 2011 to 2021." And get this -- that's the biggest amount of credit for a one-year period on record. It highlights the deterioration in America's fiscal outlook, even as the economy grinds forward and the unemployment rate drops slowly.

Last year the deficit was $1.4 trillion. The year before, it was $1.3 trillion. As a share of the U.S. economy, this year's deficit is 9.8 percent of GDP. It's the second-highest figure since the Second World War.

Now there's more to the status of our condition credit-wise. There is also the ongoing public debt, sometimes called the national debt. It accrues all of our annual deficits. When you add those all up, it totals over $14 trillion and increasing at a rate of $4 billion a day.

Question: Why did President Obama pass up the opportunity to give Congress a budget that includes meaningful deficit reduction? Clarence.

MR. PAGE: Because it runs counter to the stimulus spending and tax reductions that Obama has already gotten into legislation. When you say meaningful, that, of course, is a relative adjective. I think that the long-term problem that we have is not with discretionary spending. It's with Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid. And the administration isn't really ready to tackle that right now. I wish they did, but they're not.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He wants to get everybody in the boat together at the same time.

MR. PAGE: At this point, yeah; got to do it.

MR. BUCHANAN: He's playing politics. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's playing politics.

MR. BUCHANAN: Sure. The Republicans --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Don't we all? Haven't we all played politics with these --

MR. BUCHANAN: We've got a fiscal and financial crisis of a high order, John. Everybody knows it in the country. He had a deficit commission.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You want him to approach Social Security --

MR. BUCHANAN: I would like him to lead. He's the president of the United States.

MS. CROWLEY: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, stop.

MR. PAGE: (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: The talking points on the Republican side is "Lack of leadership. He punted." Of course he punted. He's not going to go out there and step on the third rail by himself.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, what's wrong with 65 years of age versus 68 years of age?

MS. CLIFT: Because -- well, the Social Security age is already going up, and the Social Security problem is the least of the problems facing the country. But what has to happen is the leaders of the two parties have to get together. And it's begun to happen in the Senate with Senator Mark Warner and Saxby Chambliss meeting.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay.

MS. CLIFT: And they have to come up with a bill that's too big to fail.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me add this to the pot before I go to you, Monica -- Wisconsin and its $3.6 billion deficit.

WISCONSIN GOVERNOR SCOTT WALKER (R): (From videotape.) These are unions that historically for years have never had anyone challenge them. They've never had anyone challenge the status quo. We're broke. We can't operate the way that we operated before.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A major showdown this week emerged between Wisconsin union workers and the Wisconsin state government. Thousands of workers, students and union supporters picketed the state capitol in Madison. They are opposed to Governor Scott Walker's legislation -- he's a Republican, remember -- that would require union workers to pay more money into their state pensions and health care plans. He also wants to curb the union's collective bargaining rights. Union members say that Governor Walker wants to bust up the union.

On Wednesday, President Obama stirred the Wisconsin pot by describing Walker's actions as a, quote-unquote, "assault on the union." On Friday, Speaker John Boehner weighed in on Facebook, saying the president, quote-unquote, "attacked Governor for attempting to rein in state spending." Then Speaker Boehner said, quote, "Call off the attack and lead, Mr. President," unquote.

MS. CROWLEY: Right on.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the story?

MS. CROWLEY: Look, the state governors are in fiscal disasters, just the way the federal government is in a fiscal disaster. They have to balance their budgets. And that's exactly what this governor and the new Republican legislature in Wisconsin were elected to do just two short months ago.

What this governor is trying to do is rein in the power of government unions and reduce the size of government overall. Guess what, John. There is no money. There is no money in these states. The party is over. And the governor is going right to the public- sector unions --

MR. BUCHANAN: John --

MS. CLIFT: The other side gets to weigh in, though.

MS. CROWLEY: -- and saying -- he has gone right to the public- sector unions and said, "There is no more money." They refuse to negotiate with the governor.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, this is a showdown --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What?

MS. CROWLEY: The unions refuse to negotiate with the governor on reduced compensation.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.

MS. CLIFT: No, no, no. That's not true.

MS. CROWLEY: So the choice is go down this road or lose your job.

MS. CLIFT: The unions --

MR. BUCHANAN: This is a showdown between -- MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute. Let her in.

MS. CLIFT: The unions are willing to yield on how much they pay for their health care and pensions and so forth. What they don't want is their right for collective bargaining to be taken away, and that's what it's about.

MR. BUCHANAN: All right, but this --

MS. CLIFT: And there is a possibility of compromise here if the governor gives up that aspect of the legislation.

But the bigger picture here is in all of these midwestern and southern battleground states, the governors, who are facing budget deficits, are using the cover of fiscal frugality to crack down on the unions, which are the only opposition --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Laughs.)

MR. BUCHANAN: All right, John, let's talk about -- let's talk about --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly, quickly. Let's go.

MR. BUCHANAN: The big issue is this is Barack Obama versus Scott Walker. He is goading the unions. He is goading the demonstrators. He's reading from Saul Alinsky's --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know why. You know why. Because Obama has to carry Wisconsin if he's going to win re-election.

MR. BUCHANAN: He's moving to the left. He's making a move to the left, and it's a mistake nationally.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But he will win --

MR. BUCHANAN: He will lose Wisconsin because of this.

MR. PAGE: We'll see. We'll see.

MR. BUCHANAN: He will lose Wisconsin.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If he loses Wisconsin, will he lose the election?

MR. BUCHANAN: Yes.

MS. CLIFT: The Republicans --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean as a diagnostic or as --

MR. BUCHANAN: As a diagnostician. MS. CLIFT: The Republicans are going to overplay their hand and they're going to do to public-employee union workers and ordinary people what they did to --

MR. BUCHANAN: Bring it on. As George Bush said, bring it on.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three: CPAC Launch Pad.

The 2011 annual Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC, was held last week. Nine presumptive presidential candidates spoke at the conference: Haley Barbour, Mitch Daniels, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan and John Thune.

But one non-presumptive candidate did appear and held forth.

DONALD TRUMP (real estate entrepreneur): (From videotape.) If I decide to run, I will not be raising taxes. (Cheers, applause.) We'll be taking in hundreds of billions of dollars from other countries that are screwing us. (Cheers, applause.) We'll be creating vast numbers of productive jobs. (Cheers, applause.) And we'll -- thank you very much. And we'll rebuild our country so that we can be proud. Our country will be great again.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Is Donald Trump serious about a presidential bid, or is this a publicity ploy? I ask you, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, certainly it's a publicity ploy. (Laughter.)

MR. PAGE: Really? I'm shocked.

MR. BUCHANAN: The question is, is he serious about it? I don't know, John. But I will say this. He is at least speaking on economic nationalism in a way that nobody else in America is. He's talking about the Chinese. He's talking about tariffs and putting those on imports into this country and rebuilding manufacturing in the country.

The message is right on for a Republican. There's no Republican out there that's got this message right now. You saw who won --

MR. PAGE: But the messenger.

MR. BUCHANAN: You saw who won on the --

MR. PAGE: The messenger.

MR. BUCHANAN: The messenger is too old. You saw who won CPAC, didn't you? Ron Paul.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Ron Paul. I saw that.

MR. BUCHANAN: It also shows there's an anti-defense or antiwar, if you will, movement inside the conservative movement, which is growing stronger. MR. PAGE: There's one problem with CPAC, though.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the best thing Trump has going for him?

MR. PAGE: That thing on top of his head, whatever that was. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, don't make fun of --

MR. PAGE: No, I --

MS. CROWLEY: No, that he's not --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the best thing he's got going for him?

MS. CROWLEY: That he's not a politician.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No. Well, that's not bad.

MS. CROWLEY: He's not a politician.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's not an incumbent. That's number one. What's number two?

MS. CROWLEY: He's a businessman.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, there's something even more important. What is it?

MR. BUCHANAN: Certitude.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What?

MR. BUCHANAN: He's got conviction and certitude.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, it's not any of that.

MS. CLIFT: He said in that speech he carries a big stick or a heavy stick. And he said that if he were president --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I can't believe --

MS. CLIFT: -- the world --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is supposed to be a political group.

MS. CLIFT: -- would not be --

MR. BUCHANAN: He's a businessman. He's successful.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is supposed to be a political group, and you still haven't given it. MS. CROWLEY: Money.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is it?

MR. PAGE: John, it's very hard to --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, it's not the money.

MR. PAGE: It's very hard to calculate the idea of Donald Trump --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Not the money. What does he have? What does he have?

MR. BUCHANAN: He's tough.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's got name identification. That's what he's got. That's invaluable. It costs billions of dollars, practically, to get that identification. He's known all over. Is that a plus for him?

MR. BUCHANAN: That is very much a plus, because you automatically go in with 100 percent name recognition. But what he does have is he's got certitude and conviction. He believes something and he says it, and that's what people are looking for.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What are the negatives?

MS. CLIFT: In a party --

MR. BUCHANAN: Where do I begin, John? (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: In a party that puts family values in the center --

MR. BUCHANAN: He's a social liberal.

MS. CLIFT: -- I think he has some 'splaining to do. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Like what?

MS. CLIFT: A couple of marriages here and there and so forth. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A couple of divorces.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, and --

MR. BUCHANAN: Some interesting statements. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I remember conducting an interview with his second wife, and she was charming. And she had wonderful things to say about him.

MS. CLIFT: Well, maybe he can just bring all the wives along with him and turn it into --

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: As a matter of fact, I interviewed the first wife.

MS. CROWLEY: Also, John, when you run for president, you have to fill out a very lengthy financial disclosure form, which he may now want to do as well.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.

MS. CROWLEY: Look --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, he's quite proud of his achievements, though, and there's not much that we don't know about him.

MS. CROWLEY: Yeah. And he's achieved a lot. But, look, he may have been the first person to address CPAC with the phrase "screwing us." But, look, the bottom line is that the Republican field is a hot mess. Okay, there's no obvious leader. Each one of the major candidates, the A-list candidates --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, we've got to get out.

MS. CROWLEY: -- has huge baggage. So it could make an opportunity for somebody like Trump.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quick exit: Should Trump run, yes or no? Yes or no?

MR. BUCHANAN: Independent.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Independent.

MS. CLIFT: It's fine if he runs, but he's not going to go anywhere. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes or no?

MS. CROWLEY: Yes. The more, the merrier. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You say yes on that?

MS. CLIFT: No, no. Well, I don't care if he runs or not. I'm saying he's not going to get the nomination. He's not going to be president. So --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes or no?

MR. PAGE: And besides that, he can't afford the pay cut.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think he should run, but it'll be a tough, hard slog. But he should run if he's really sincere --

MR. BUCHANAN: Which party?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- about the whole deal.

MR. BUCHANAN: Which party?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What?

MR. BUCHANAN: Which party?

MS. CROWLEY: Republican.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think he should run probably in the Republican.

Predictions. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Oil heads over $120 a barrel.

MS. CLIFT: I'm probably with Clarence on this. Rahm Emanuel gets his 50 percent in Chicago in the primary; doesn't have --

MR. PAGE: Plus one.

MS. CLIFT: Plus one. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.

MS. CROWLEY: The unrest in the Middle East will give a boost to the nascent presidential bid of John Bolton.

MR. PAGE: And in Wisconsin, Governor Walker is going to surge to the front ranks of Republican hopefuls for 2012. (Laughs.)

MS. CROWLEY: Right on.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I predict that the Bush name will not be hurtful in 2012 to Jeb. In fact, it will be a plus. Happy President's Day. Bye-bye.

END.