The McLaughlin Group Host: John McLaughlin Panel: Patrick Buchanan, MSNBC; Eleanor Clift, Newsweek; Mortimer Zuckerman, U.S. News & World Report; Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune Taped: Friday, July 29, 2011 Broadcast: Weekend of July 30-31, 2011

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JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Too Big to Fail.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: (From videotape.) I urge Democrats and Republicans in the Senate to find common ground on a plan they can get support -- that can get support from both parties in the House, a plan that I can sign by Tuesday.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK, the economic status. In the second quarter of this year -- April, May, June -- the U.S. economy grew at a rate of 1.3 percent, very far below the expectation. Yet even more serious is the downward revision of our first quarter, the recovery -- January, February, March -- from 1.9 percent to 0.4 percent. That's four tenths of 1 percent growth. Question: Are these statistics a bigger worry than the debt- ceiling prevailing argument? Pat Buchanan.

PAT BUCHANAN: They're equally big worries, John, despite the fact that the president had an $800 billion stimulus; the Fed had tripled the money supply. We've had three deficits of almost $5 trillion. The economy is completely dead in the water. That argues for a stimulus, a Reaganite stimulus or an Obama stimulus. But there's no more tools in the toolbox here.

On the other side, you've got a deficit problem, you know, of $10 trillion in deficits, which argues for austerity -- spending cuts, tax hikes. So you've got -- the two are in total conflict. The president's inherited an economy, John, that I think the only way this thing is going to go forward is through the old stagflation of the old post-Nixon era.


ELEANOR CLIFT: Well, they've got to raise the debt ceiling, even if it takes the president invoking the 14th Amendment to the Constitution and doing it under his own authority. They've got to do that, because the consequences of that -- the numbers you just put up on the screen would look rosy compared to what this economy would look like if we default. We'd take the whole world global economy with us. But --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who believes we're going to do that?

MS. CLIFT: I do. I know Michele Bachmann doesn't. Maybe you're in her camp. But I think defaulting on our debt would cause interest rates to go up. Say bye-bye to your 401K. It would have all kinds of negative implications.

But the sluggish economy, I think, is in part because Washington doesn't work. And businesses are retracting. Consumers are overly cautious. Everybody is treading water, waiting to see what's going to happen. And Pat's right; there are not a lot of tools in the toolbox left anymore.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think of this debt crisis?

MORTIMER ZUCKERMAN: Well, I think it's a very serious crisis, because, in a sense, it's perhaps a longer-term problem than is the short-term problem of the --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it on artificial respiration? Are they keeping it alive deliberately, to keep something else away from -- for example, these stats, the stats that I just put on the board, are buried, and everyone's talking about the crisis with the debt ceiling.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, it is -- MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that a calculated distraction to keep something else off the front page? Do you follow me?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Let me put it this way. I don't think it makes sense for somebody to shoot off his foot and then say his leg's hurting him. You know, that's what that would be the equivalent of.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But who believes that that's going to carry? You know, the deal is right there on the table. All they have to do is take it. Somebody is holding on.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But are they holding out on principle, or are they holding out because of political calculation?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, it's --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Maybe for next year.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: It's both. It's both for sure.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There's an election coming up.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Of course.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does it help Obama --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Why do you think --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- to be so tenacious to his point of view?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Why do you think Obama wants to make sure that we don't have to look at this again next year? Because he knows it's going to make his economy worse.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, the argument is he's keeping these stats off page one by everyone being diverted to this. Do you understand?



MR. ZUCKERMAN: But every issue like this is --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He could calculate a way out of the debt crisis.

(Cross talk.)

MR. BUCHANAN: The stats have exploded into the headlines. MR. ZUCKERMAN: Everything is on page one at this stage of the game. Let me tell you why the stats are so critical -- because almost 20 percent of the American working force is really unemployed.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's the story.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: And they know it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's the story.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That is the story.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But this is not the story --

MR. BUCHANAN: It'll be the headline tomorrow.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: It'll be the headline --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I wonder. I wonder.

MR. BUCHANAN: It's huge.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: It's not going away.

MR. BUCHANAN: It's huge.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This other thing is going to be kept alive artificially --

MR. BUCHANAN: They're both --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- to keep these stats submerged.

MR. BUCHANAN: They're both gigantic stories, John.

MS. CLIFT: It's a media conspiracy?

CLARENCE PAGE: Whether you submerge the stats or not, the public can feel it.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's right.

MR. PAGE: And that's what counts politically. They can feel more of an effect -- MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But when they read it, when they read it, that's 0.4 percent.

MR. PAGE: It's not being buried, John. The fact is the debt ceiling is important. And you know why? Because the business community, prosperous folks out there like my good friend Mort over here, they want some stability. (Laughs.) They want some predictability out there. And right now all we've got is question marks all over the place here as to whether or not that 40 percent of our budget --

MR. BUCHANAN: You're going to downgrade the credit rating of the United States.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: We have a dysfunctional government.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's that?

MR. BUCHANAN: You're going to downgrade the credit rating --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: We have a dysfunctional government.


MR. BUCHANAN: -- of the United States.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: We have a dysfunctional government --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who thinks that that's going to take place?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- that's going to have to address a lot of critical issues.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, that is --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean the illusion of dysfunctionality.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, I don't know that it's an illusion.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In fact, they're hammering it out. But anyway, it's an artificial argument.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: It's not --

MS. CLIFT: John, do you --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: It's not an artificial issue.

MS. CLIFT: John, do you have tea in that cup? Have you joined the tea party? That is their position, you know.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, no, no. I'm not associating myself with the tea party at all. MR. BUCHANAN: Hey, John, the downgrade --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm just saying --

MR. BUCHANAN: The downgrade --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- that this is a clever way of submerging these awful stats that we just put on the board.

MS. CLIFT: They're not submerged.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, the downgrade of the debt is coming.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK, what's the biggest problem?

LAWRENCE SUMMERS (former Harvard president): (From videotape.) I think the biggest problem the country has right now is not the budget deficit. The biggest problem the country has right now is the jobs deficit.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Unemployment is the biggest problem the U.S. faces today. So says former Obama economist Larry Summers. The unemployment rate now stands at 9.2 percent. Fourteen million Americans are out of work. Six (million) of the 14 million have been out of work for at least seven months. These figures account for why a majority of Americans, 52 percent, believe that the president is not doing enough to create jobs.

Question: How many jobs are needed to be created to restore full employment by the end of this decade, 2020? I ask you, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Ten (million) to 15 million, because we've got a labor force that is growing. At the same time, you've got something like 24 million people who are unemployed or underemployed. Half of those have got to get back to work. So I would say -- I would say close to 20 million jobs are going to have to be created, John, in the next 10 years.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think this --

MS. CLIFT: Well, 20 million jobs is what Clinton created in his eight years. And George W. Bush had actually negative job growth. And when this president took office, we were still losing jobs, I think, at the rate of 800,000 a month for those first several months.

This job growth is extremely weak. Nobody is happy about it. But the awful truth is there isn't a whole lot that this government can do about it. Maybe you have some secret ideas, but --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, they're not secrets, quite frankly. There are a number of things that could have been done. Quite frankly, they should have been done at the beginning of the downturn, and -- MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Like what?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Like an infrastructure bank, and get huge infrastructure programs under way. Those are job multipliers, not just job savers.

Too much of the money was diverted by the Congress to the cities and towns, which basically helped the public-service unions. These did not save jobs, OK?

MS. CLIFT: The president --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Let me just finish my thought here. You have a real crisis on our hands. We all do, OK? There is a huge unemployment number. The jobs here are breaking up this economy and breaking up families in a way that we have not seen in our lifetimes; I mean, maybe you, coming from another century, may have seen it. I did not.

MR. BUCHANAN: But John --

MS. CLIFT: The president --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So this is the most important story.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Absolutely.

MS. CLIFT: The president --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The jobs are the most critical issue facing this country today.

MR. BUCHANAN: You're talking about --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Larry Summers is absolutely right on that.

MR. BUCHANAN: You're talking about, though -- and I don't disagree -- you're talking about a gigantic stimulus package. We just had $800 billion. And everybody else is talking about cutting $3 trillion out of the budget.

MS. CLIFT: The president is pressing for that infrastructure bank. He's also pressing for trade deals. And they are all being blocked by a Republican minority that is obsessed with cutting spending.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: He -- MS. CLIFT: It is completely misplaced priorities.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: He did not ask for it when he needed it a couple of years ago. And today --

MS. CLIFT: He got what he could get.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- what you get, to deal with Pat's problem --

MS. CLIFT: He got what he could get out of the political system.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: We could argue that.

MS. CLIFT: It wasn't enough.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: But what you have now, you have to have short- term stimulus and long-term deficit cuts.

MS. CLIFT: I agree.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: So if you get that program balanced, you can get through this crisis, but not the way we're doing it.

MS. CLIFT: We'll have to elect --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me get this in here, Eleanor. Excuse me.

MS. CLIFT: Wait -- Mort for speaker. If you could bring that off, you've got my vote. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Harper's Magazine, Clarence -- this is directed at you -- says being unemployed -- this is Harper's Magazine --

MR. PAGE: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- being unemployed raises a woman's risk of early death by 37 percent and a man's risk by 78 percent. Is long- term unemployment a health crisis?

MR. PAGE: Unemployment is unhealthy for children, adults and other living things. The fact of the matter is --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It shortens your life span.

MR. PAGE: The fact of the matter is our whole economy -- our whole quality of life is dependent upon the economy. And this is what makes it such a salient political issue that tends to override all others, because the ability of people to either have or maintain the American dream is wrapped up in this, not to mention basic survival.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It doubles the odds of a premature death.

MR. PAGE: Right. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think of that?

MR. PAGE: Well, you know, look around.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So if anybody thinks the unemployment thing is just a figure --

MR. PAGE: I hope nobody thinks that, because it's not --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, think of the radiational effect that has on the population.

MR. PAGE: The only people I can think of who might benefit --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's such a downer. It's such a downer.

MR. PAGE: The only people who --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And it's going to be -- it could be what ruins his effort to be re-elected.

MR. PAGE: Is that what the argument is, John? I mean, everybody agrees unemployment is bad. The argument is over what to do about it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The question is whether or not --

MR. PAGE: And that's where we have this clash and gridlock.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- it's going to crowd him out of a second term, the unemployment.

MR. PAGE: Well, it's not just him.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: What's the impact of this economic trend on President Obama's re-election in 2012 -- I gave you the answer -- 15 months from now, Pat?

MR. BUCHANAN: I think currently it is disastrous on the president because he's got this debt crisis. And now this looks like he's going to have a terrible economy going into an election year, and usually that means you don't get re-elected.


MS. CLIFT: Well, short term, the president is winning the politics, because comparatively he looks better than the crowd on Capitol Hill. But he's vulnerable. Any president who's got an unemployment rate over 7 percent is vulnerable.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort. MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, yeah. I mean, I think the unemployment is much worse, and the American public knows it. Every family is affected. Everybody knows somebody who is affected by it. I think that is the biggest issue facing this country in economic terms and in political terms. Nobody could win an election with an unemployment rate that is really about 18 percent, not 9 percent.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you see that revision in January, February and March of this year --


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- just put out?


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is it, 0.4 percent?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yeah. That's for one of the months -- for the quarter, excuse me -- down from 1.9 percent. But that tells you we've created virtually no net jobs, when you have an economy that's growing that slowly.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why is there such --

MR. PAGE: (Inaudible.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute. Why is there such a gulf between those two statistics?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The way they worked it --

MR. BUCHANAN: Between .3 and .4? There's no gulf. It's -- the economy's flat in the water.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, the original statistic was 1.7.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Those statistics --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It then dropped to 0.4.

MR. BUCHANAN: I know it has.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Four tenths of a percent. It's a big drop. Why that big cleavage?

MR. BUCHANAN: That is a huge -- that's a very good question, John. That's an enormous change -- MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do we have any problem with the Bureau of Labor Statistics or with the Commerce Department?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I actually think the Bureau of Labor Statistics tends to try and make the job numbers look as good as possible when they come out. When they have to do the --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean, when they're bad, they try to make them look good.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Look as good as possible. When they do the revisions, they find out a lot of the assumptions they made simply were inaccurate. For example, they estimate how many jobs it created by companies that started. They estimate a certain number of startups, as they call them. Then they find out, "Guess what, folks, they didn't have that number of startups." It's a statistical effort to make (this ?). And they've overstated those job --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who's controlling their effort to do that? Is that just the instinct of federal workers?

MS. CLIFT: They're not political. They're not political appointees.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: They are political.

MS. CLIFT: They're bureaucrats. They're professionals, and they're doing the best they can. This is no more a conspiracy than the media conspiracy that you seem to see --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you know, this is politics.

MS. CLIFT: -- of keeping statistics off the front page.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And it's not helpful for his re-election. So a call comes from the White House. "Can't you use a different language to describe this?"

MS. CLIFT: Well, if you find that --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: "Can you modify your terms?"

MS. CLIFT: If you find that call --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: "Can you touch it up?"

MS. CLIFT: -- from the White House, you've got a front-page story.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?

MR. PAGE: Or a best-selling thriller coming up, because -- MS. CLIFT: Right. Exactly.

MR. PAGE: No, let's deal with --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, come on, you know the political scene.

MR. PAGE: Let's deal with reality here, though. What counts is not the numbers right now but the numbers next year going into the election, especially that last three, four months. It's got to get some inertia built up, which we don't have now. Every election is about either change or more of the same. He won on change. He's got to run now, like FDR in 1936, saying, "Happy days aren't here again, but we're on the right path."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Two: The Wealth Chasm.

America is free and America is brave, but America is far from equal. The Pew Research Center released a study this week that says that the wealth divide between white Americans and black Americans is very big and has widened to the largest gap in 25 years.

Here's the breakout.

Item: Net wealth -- white Americans, $113,000; black Americans, $5,700. Ratio: 20 to 1.

Item: Net wealth lost during the ongoing recession -- white Americans, 16 percent lost; black Americans, 53 percent of wealth lost.

That news came on top of the current unemployment numbers. The national unemployment rate for white Americans is 8.1 percent; for black Americans, 16.2 percent.

President Obama, the nation's first black president, is doing nothing about this, some believe. One of these so believers is Princeton Professor Cornel West.

CORNEL WEST (Princeton University): (From videotape.) I think he does have a predilection much more toward upper middle-class white brothers and Jewish brothers and has a certain distance from free black men who will tell him the truth, both about himself as well as what's going on in black communities, brown communities, red communities and poor white working-class communities.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: West calls President Obama, quote, "a black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats," unquote.

Also, Professor West announced this week that he and talk-show host Tavis Smiley will begin a national poverty tour next month to sharpen the nation's awareness of what they call the failings of the president. African-Americans at large agree with West and Smiley. The president has dropped by more than 20 points with African- Americans, from 77 percent last year to just over 50 percent this year. Why? Jobs.

By the way, in 2008 the black vote for President Obama was history-making. Ninety-six percent of blacks voted in favor of the Obama-Biden ticket over the McCain-Palin ticket.

Question: What explains the disparity between net wealthy for whites and net wealth for blacks? Clarence Page.

MR. PAGE: Well, first, let's distinguish between wealth and income so people aren't confused, because wealth includes income, property you own, your entire estate. The biggest factor is real estate. We're talking over the last 25 years, from the mid `80s, when we saw the real fruits of the `60s, with the doubling of the growth of the black middle class, we just began to acquire some wealth; you know, houses and other properties in an appreciable sense.

Then in the `90s and the last decade of the housing bubble --


MR. PAGE: Yeah, and also about a third of the market over the last decade or so with these subprime loans, a lot of black folks took a harder hit on that than white folks did. So that was why you saw this widening of the gap here in recent years.

What can Obama do about it? I think, knowing Cornel West, he'd like to see some direct payments of some kind. (Laughs.) That ain't going to happen. The fact of the matter is Obama politically is on the right course, which is a color-blind approach aimed at helping people based on income and opportunity, to try to help people across racial lines, knowing that a disproportionate amount of need is in the black community, so the black community will be helped. But that's a great debate.


MR. BUCHANAN: Amen. You know, the Hispanic community lost 66 percent of its wealth.


MR. BUCHANAN: And the reason, John, is the subprime mortgages wiped these folks out of their prime asset, which was houses. It went down. Take a look at the states where the subprime disaster hit -- California, Nevada, Arizona and Florida; the Hispanic community extremely heavy. Then you go around the cities and Clarence's point about homes is important. But the white community itself lost $20,000 per family, John. And I know that's a smaller amount, but everybody's being hammered. And I think Clarence is right when he said, you know, you ought to try to do policies for everyone.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The national --

MR. PAGE: You've said Clarence is right more times on this show than I can recall.

MR. BUCHANAN: I may retract one of them. (Laughs.)

MR. PAGE: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Here's something for your column, Clarence. National Urban League Policy Institute -- National Urban League Policy Institute, a respectable institute --

MR. PAGE: Very much so.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- the black middle class has been set back 30 years by this economic crisis today.

MR. PAGE: In terms of household wealth --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Thirty years.

MR. PAGE: -- that's arguable, yeah.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How do you recover from that?

MR. PAGE: Well, you know, we've recovered from worse, actually. (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. PAGE: I mean, I'm optimistic, actually, and so are black folks. I should point out Ellis Cose's new book, "The End of Anger," talks about how, for the first time -- and Pew backs this up -- black folks are more optimistic about the long-term future in America than white folks --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who wrote the book?

MR. PAGE: -- the first time that's happened.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Ellis Cose.

MR. PAGE: Ellis Cose, who wrote a book 20 years ago --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: C-O-Z-E (sic). MR. PAGE: -- about the anger in the black middle class.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But we're talking long term. Short term, we're all in trouble.


MR. ZUCKERMAN: Let me just say one thing. The housing crisis is not limited to any particular community.

MR. PAGE: Right.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: During the Great Depression, housing prices from peak to trough went down by 31 percent. So far this time, housing prices have gone down by 33 percent, and they're still going down. We're not through that crisis. It's a huge crisis that affects everybody because, as you say, it is the largest asset. The home equity is the largest assets on the balance sheet of the average American family, and it's being wiped out.

MS. CLIFT: Well, the implications of this politically -- I mean, Karl Rove has written a piece saying that 100,000 fewer votes from African-Americans in North Carolina could wipe away the gains that the president needs. And Hispanics in that same Pew survey, they are the hardest-hit group by the recession, and that comes at the same time they have the most -- the growing clout as a political force. So will they be more politically engaged next year? And again, the Democrats really need them.


MS. CLIFT: And they're everywhere. They're not just in a handful of states.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- these statistics -- the statistics that we put up on the board on the disparate wealth of black and whites are so worrisome that Barack Obama ought to put out a policy for black America -- a policy agenda for black America.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that -- would that be a bad move, a good move or a risky move --

MR. BUCHANAN: That would be a terrible move --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- or both?

MR. BUCHANAN: -- for this reason -- a terrible move for this reason. The white working class has been hammered completely. Again, as Clarence said, their aspirations and their hopes for the future are going down. They're the most alienated of any group of Americans right now. They're behind the whole tea party movement. If you do something, for heaven's sakes, do it for all Americans.

MS. CLIFT: The 400 top earners in this country make as much money as the whole bottom 60 percent. And that's black, white and Hispanic.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So that's where the gap is.

MS. CLIFT: It's a huge disparity, and it's great unfairness. And the folks on Capitol Hill --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think you're minimizing the gap between blacks and whites on this. I think you're minimizing it.

MR. PAGE: You can't minimize it.

MS. CLIFT: The gaps are everywhere in our society, and they're all disturbing.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: November 12th, 15 months from now, will African-American voters be as energized as they were in 2008 to vote for Obama?

MR. BUCHANAN: McCain got the same share of the black vote as David Duke did in Louisiana -- 4 percent. Obama will get 90 percent of the African-American vote, but it will not be as energized. It will not come out in the numbers and enthusiasm that it did.


MS. CLIFT: Not as energized, but they'll be energized enough, because what will happen over the next year, a lot of them will take personally, just as liberals will.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They won't be energized. They'll stay home.

What about you?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, I think they'll vote, perhaps not in the same numbers as they did the first time around, for Barack Obama.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Over 90 percent?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I don't think it'll be 90 percent. But he'll get -- I think he won't get the same kind of percentage of support, but it'll be very close. MR. PAGE: I think it'll be over 90 percent, but the turnout won't be as great.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's right.

MR. PAGE: Obama's unlikely ally here is the Republican field right now, depending on who gets nominated.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three: Norway's Agony.

JENS STOLTENBERG (prime minister of Norway): (From videotape.) The combination of the bomb explosion here with the shooting at the youth camp of the Labor Party, the -- (inaudible) -- Labor Party, that makes this really, really a serious attack.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Norway last week was the scene of gruesome terror. A lone-wolf terrorist carried out both a bombing and a shooting-spree attack that killed 76 people. The perpetrator is Anders Behring Breivik, a Norwegian citizen.

First, Oslo. Breivik detonated a bomb outside government buildings that killed eight people. Breivik then traveled 25 miles to a summer camp organized by the ruling party of Norway, the Labor Party, and opened fire. Sixty-eight people were killed at the island summer camp, bringing the total of Norway citizens murdered to 76, mostly, of course, children.

A 1,500-page manifesto written by Breivik was published online shortly before the attack. Breivik blasted the ruling Labor Party for allowing Muslims to immigrate to Norway.

Question: Is Anders Breivik Norway's Timothy McVeigh or Norway's Jared Loughner? I ask you, Clarence.

MR. PAGE: McVeigh. Really, they -- unlike Loughner, Breivik had a philosophy. He plagiarized part of his manifesto from the Unabomber. He used McVeigh's methods. He views himself as part of this larger movement, and it's a race-based sort of thing. And it's difficult for them to determine if he's legally insane or not. Loughner's kind of obviously out of it. But this fellow is chillingly cogent when he's been questioned at all. So it's -- I'd say that would be a more appropriate comparison.

But the real issue here is the larger issues of the multiculturalism debate, immigration, et cetera, that's been tearing European politics apart.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about our immigration policy and whether it conceivably feeds into an endangerment of the population if it is regarded as and is existentially too lax? Are we -- you know about multiculturalism now being attacked, particularly in Great Britain and elsewhere. Do you have any thoughts on this? MR. ZUCKERMAN: It's a huge issue in Europe. And frankly, Muslim immigration is a huge issue in Europe, in France. And it's been that way. When I was a student in France, it was a huge issue back then. It's a huge issue in Germany with the Turks. They have 3 million Turks who live in an isolated community. It's one of the reasons why Germany would never accept Turkey into the European Union. So it is a very, very critical issue to European politics.

MS. CLIFT: This is a seminal moment for the right-wing parties throughout Europe, because they have really been exploiting fears about immigration and fears of their culture being submerged by all of the immigrants. And now they're really rushing to distance themselves from this fellow. And I think people are doing the same kind of self- examination we did after the shooting of Gabby Giffords is the kind of inflammatory rhetoric. Is that appropriate in politics?


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That was Jared Loughner.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, there has been an explosion of these right- wing populist parties. This guy got in contact with the True Finns, who just had a tremendous victory. A new party has just come up in Sweden. But it's all over Europe, John, to the point where, however, Merkel herself has condemned multiculturalism as a failure. Sarkozy echoed her. Cameron did. This is a gigantic --


MR. BUCHANAN: -- issue. He's tried to ignite a civil war, though, in Europe, between old Europe and new Europe.

MR. PAGE: Right.


MR. PAGE: They don't do multiculturalism right, by the way, when they talk about -- they're talking more about a Bantustan situation where they say, "Well, you live over there, we'll live over here, and not bother each other."

MR. BUCHANAN: But these folks aren't assimilating --

MR. PAGE: That's not the way to do it.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- is one of the problems.

MR. PAGE: Exactly.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think our immigration policy is based on public consensus? MR. BUCHANAN: No, it's not. The Americans have opposed immigration ever since the Immigration Act of 1965.

MR. PAGE: Except for (your family ?).

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who's right -- the politicians --

MR. BUCHANAN: Or the elites?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- who do the enactment or the public?

MR. BUCHANAN: The public is right, and the elites are pushing the immigration down their throats.

MS. CLIFT: Well, I think probably just about everybody on this set is the product of an immigrant class at one point.

MR. PAGE: Either voluntary or involuntary. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, how far back? How far back?

MS. CLIFT: My parents came from an island in Europe. I'm first generation.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Which one of the islands, Scotland or Ireland?

MS. CLIFT: The island of Fohr, with an umlaut over the "o."


MS. CLIFT: And it's reminiscent of this little Scandinavian country, Oslo. I was just in Oslo. The cops are not armed. It's the sleepiest, quietest place. You wouldn't think that this kind of horror could happen.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Iowa straw poll, August the 12th. Who wins?


MS. CLIFT: Michele Bachmann.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Rick Perry.

MR. PAGE: I'm going to stick with Michele Bachmann. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Michele Bachmann.