The McLaughlin Group Host: John McLaughlin Panel: Patrick Buchanan, MSNBC; Eleanor Clift, Newsweek; Rich Lowry, National Review; Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune Taped: Friday, August 26, 2011 Broadcast: Weekend of August 27-28, 2011
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JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Que Sera, Que Sera.
REPRESENTATIVE MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN), REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: (From videotape.) Together, we are going to make Barack Obama a one-term president.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So says Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, the leader of the Tea Party Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives. And the numbers may bear that out. There are 14 months before the November 6, 2012 presidential election. President Obama finds himself in a dead heat with not one, not two, not three, but four Republican presidential candidates. So says the Gallup poll this week. Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney leads President Obama, 48 to 46, among registered voters. Texas Governor Rick Perry is tied with President Obama, 47 to 47. Texas Congressman Ron Paul is trailing President Obama by two points, 47 to 45. And Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann is behind President Obama, 48 to 44. All four readouts are within a four-point margin of error.
But there's more to the Obama bad news. The same Gallup poll shows that Mr. Obama is also losing the support of independent swing voters. Swing voters broke heavily for Mr. Obama in 2008, 55 percent, securing the presidency for him. But 2012 is a different story. Three Republican contenders are beating Obama with independents: Romney 47, Obama 44; Perry 46, Obama 44; Paul 46, Obama 43.
Question: Do these polls show that the electability of the Republican candidates is less important than the ousting of President Obama? Pat Buchanan.
PATRICK BUCHANAN: I think you're close to the truth, John. President Obama is in serious trouble as a president and a candidate, partly because a lot of the news on the economic front looks like it's even getting worse. But what these polls show is that, as Charlie Cook said, this race is becoming the Republican Party's to lose in 2012.
The polls also show that the entire Republican field, it looks like, including the controversial ones like Michele Bachmann, may be acceptable to the American people; more importantly, acceptable to the independents. Everything, though, depends on the -- depends on what happens in the economy, John, because Obama is still well liked by the American people and they still want him to succeed.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, how do you account for Obama's extraordinary weakness, as demonstrated in these polls?
ELEANOR CLIFT: Well, the American people have not given up on him. But in talking to various Democratic operatives this week, I mean, they're close to despair about whether he's going to be able to turn this around. Now, he's had low points before and he seems to be able to come back. And I think what he has to say about jobs and what he can actually do about jobs when he comes back is going to be critical.
But when you look at the opposition, I think, once the Republicans settle on a candidate, I think Democrats are thinking that that person, particularly if it's Governor Perry or Michele Bachmann or Ron Paul even, that the contrast will make the Democratic base, which has been disappointed, it will make them rally around this president.
They'll never recreate the positive energy they had four years ago. It could be negative energy to avoid a worse outcome. But we're still a long way from when this race is going to become truly engaged. So, John, don't give up on this president yet; way too soon.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hey, Ron Paul two points behind Obama.
RICH LOWRY: Yeah, I would not read too much into this. At this point, all the people really know about any of these Republicans is just that they're Republicans. So they're basically -- Ron Paul, Michele Bachmann, they're all generic Republicans. So this poll is more a sign of Obama's weakness than the strength of any of the particular candidates.
But there's another loser besides Obama from these polls, John, and that's Mitt Romney, because if he's going to get the nomination, this could depend heavily on an electability argument. So he needs to be running about 10 points ahead of the rest of the Republican field against President Obama. And if he and Rick Perry are basically in the same slot, that's not good for Mitt Romney.
CLARENCE PAGE: I agree. I agree with Rich. You don't hear me say that very often. But I've been saying all along that the problem for the Republicans right now is that their most electable candidates, namely Mitt Romney, have the least chance of getting the nomination because of just a number of negatives among Republican voters. They want Rick Perry right now. Maybe he's a flash in the pan. Maybe he's got staying power. But, you know, if I was on the Obama team, I'd much prefer running against Rick Perry than against Mitt Romney --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why?
MR. PAGE: -- because of the possibility of another Goldwater debacle like `64. I think the more people find out about how conservative Rick Perry is and what a firebrand he can be -- gives a great speech, excites the base, but I think he frightens enough independents and excites enough liberals that it would help Obama at a time when he does need help.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, what you get from Clarence --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you know what's a crucial issue in all of this?
MR. BUCHANAN: You know, what you get from Clarence and Eleanor is -- and Eleanor didn't mention Romney -- Mitt Romney has an acceptability, I think, to an awful lot of people in the center and on the right. I think, in a race with Obama right now, he would win because the country would say, "OK, we're going to take a chance with him." But the other Republicans clearly have very sharp edges which, in a general election, would be exposed, and you'd have a much closer contest.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK. Obama's albatross -- the economy? The Congressional Budget Office, the CBO, reported this week that unemployment will remain high between now and the end of 2012, right through next year's November presidential election. The CBO says the unemployment rate for October-November-December 2012 will hover around 8.5 percent.
And there's more disturbing economic news -- housing. Nearly one third of all homes are in foreclosure, 31 percent.
That's a seven-point spike from the same period one year ago. More foreclosures means fewer homes needing to be built. That means fewer jobs. Why? Because for every one house built, that produces a total of three net jobs. But with so many houses in foreclosure, new-home construction will go down, and so will jobs.
Question: Why has the public lost faith in President Obama? Is it strictly the economy, or is it more than the economy, like are the voters who voted for change not seeing the change? Rich.
MR. LOWRY: Well, Democrats are still sticking with him. I think the problem is a combination of the policies he pursued in the first two years that were unpopular with the public -- most importantly, "Obamacare" -- and the rotten stated of the economy. When we're growing at 1 percent with an unemployment rate above 9 percent, there's not much to be happy about. And you see his ratings on these key issues -- jobs, the budget, and the economy generally -- are all in the mid 20s, according to Gallup, which is just a disastrous place for him to be.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: You can buy a T-shirt that says, "President Bush wrecked the economy and President Obama can't fix it." And I think that's where we are. And this president, from the Democratic perspective, has played it much too safe. He proposes modest efforts in the hopes that the Republicans will go along with it. They say no to everything.
And I think there's a lot of pressure on him now to go big and bold and to confront the Republicans and, you know, you're with us or against us if you want to create jobs. Here's the big plan. If you don't go along with it, you're a job killer.
MR. LOWRY: But the big plan --
MS. CLIFT: Borrow some of --
MR. LOWRY: The big plan is going to be --
MS. CLIFT: -- the lingo from his predecessor. MR. LOWRY: -- more spending, which is intellectually, politically and economically discredited. It's what he's tried to --
MR. PAGE: Only among conservatives, Rich.
MR. LOWRY: It has been totally irrelevant.
MS. CLIFT: We love it. We love more spending. And pulling money out of the economy now pulls jobs out of the economy.
MR. LOWRY: We're spending $900 billion more than we did in `07.
MS. CLIFT: We have a short-term --
MR. LOWRY: If spending were the answer, we'd be in economic nirvana right now.
MR. PAGE: Let's have another Keynesian debate.
MS. CLIFT: Excuse me. We have a short-term jobs crisis and a long-term deficit problem. The deficit can wait. If Ronald Reagan were here, he'd say the deficit is big enough to take care of itself.
MR. LOWRY: So a $1.5 trillion deficit isn't enough?
MR. PAGE: Maybe not, Rich, maybe not. You know, get used to it.
MR. LOWRY: Do you want to go $2 trillion? Do you think that's the answer?
MR. PAGE: Franklin Roosevelt -- how much of the -- what percentage of the economy did he spend? I mean, the fact is that it has --
MR. BUCHANAN: It didn't work either.
MR. PAGE: It did work. It did work.
MR. BUCHANAN: Look, it never got under 14 percent unemployment till World War II.
MR. PAGE: What saved us? World War II. What is that but spending, government spending, right?
MR. BUCHANAN: After eight years. Do you want to start a war?
MR. PAGE: It's a canard that spending does not --
MR. BUCHANAN: Do you want to start a war, Clarence?
MR. PAGE: We need to put more money in the economy right now.
MS. CLIFT: Right. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right --
MR. PAGE: And you can do that peacefully, Pat.
MR. LOWRY: It's a canard that the economy was --
MR. PAGE: Deficits don't matter. Dick Cheney said that.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me in, please.
MS. CLIFT: FDR is a hero, and you can't denigrate him --
MR. PAGE: Thank you.
MS. CLIFT: -- (inaudible).
MR. LOWRY: Yes, we can. Yes, we can.
MR. PAGE: No, you can't.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK, this is not mob rule here. Let me in.
Exit question: If President Obama can bring the unemployment rate down to 8 percent by September 2012 -- next year, before the election, a couple of months -- will he have a better chance at winning re-election?
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, 8 percent would be better than 9 and a lot better than 10. Of course --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will he have a chance of winning re-election if it's at 8?
MR. BUCHANAN: I think he's got a chance now and I think he would have a better chance at 8 percent than he does now.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's at 9.2 now.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, he's going to have a better chance at 8, quite obviously --
MR. PAGE: Absolutely.
MR. BUCHANAN: -- better at 5.
MS. CLIFT: If the economy appears to be going in the right direction, he has a very good chance of getting re-elected, especially if the Republicans choose one of the candidates other than Mitt Romney or Jon Huntsman. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want -- this is what I want. And I think the question perhaps was ill put. I want to know at what level the unemployment would have to be for Obama to win re-election. It's now at 9.2.
MR. LOWRY: Below 8 he has much better than a 50-50 chance to win re-election.
But unfortunately for the country, we're not going to get below 8 by election year, 2012.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What makes you so convinced?
MR. PAGE: But even if we're moving in that direction --
MR. LOWRY: We're not going to get there with 1 percent growth.
MR. PAGE: (Inaudible.)
MR. BUCHANAN: We're not moving in that direction.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Point of order here. There's too much cross- talking.
MR. PAGE: Quite right. No, if we're moving in that direction, he's got a much better chance. And he's said so himself.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Give me a number.
MR. PAGE: He has said so.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If he goes down remarkably to 6 percent, he's got a re-election.
MR. PAGE: Well, look, the prediction -- of course, 6 percent --
MS. CLIFT: Six percent --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So it turns on the unemployment.
MR. PAGE: But campaigns are more than just the number. It's what direction the economy's moving and how well is the president perceived as working hard to move it in that direction. That's what's going to count. But he's got a year to do that, and that's the one saving grace he's got.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think if he can get it down to 7 percent, he'll be re-elected.
Issue Two: Gadhafi Falls. (Begin videotaped segment.)
LIBYAN MAN: It's a new day. Really, it's a feeling of a new day.
LIBYAN MAN: It's unbelievable. It's so happy. I cannot explain this to you in words.
(End videotaped segment.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The fighting between Libyan rebels and Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi has been raging for six months. This week it reached climax. Anti-Gadhafi rebels stormed Libya's capital city, Tripoli, with air cover from NATO planes flown by Britain, France, Denmark and Canada.
Some believe that a future Libya without Gadhafi at the helm could produce division and violence. The Libyan population is divided along tribal lines. More than 140 tribes -- get that -- live in Libya. Those tribes will now have to share political power in a country with no history, no experience of democratic participatory rule.
So preventing a tribal war could require an international force, and that force would demand U.S. boots on the ground. The president of the Council on Foreign Relations, Richard Haass, almost says so. "International assistance, probably including an international force, is likely to be needed for some time to help restore and maintain order. President Barack Obama may need to reconsider his assertion that there would not be any American boots on the ground. Leadership is hard to assert without our presence."
What do you think of that reasoning by Richard Haass, Pat?
MR. BUCHANAN: I disagree with Richard Haass. He wasn't even in favor of intervention. Now he wants to put American troops on the ground. They'd be targets for the al-Qaida and all those negative elements. If they're going to put troops on the ground from some international force, it ought to be the Brits and the French or the Europeans that weren't in the war. Put them on the ground and keep us out of this affair. NATO won the war for the Libyans, but NATO could not have won it, quite frankly, John, without the United States support all the way. This thing has exposed NATO as a paper tiger. But it ought to send in the peacekeepers.
MS. CLIFT: Oh, I don't --
MR. PAGE: Well, at least NATO did more than usual in this case, especially France. Without the air cover, you would not have seen Gadhafi overthrown -- MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you know that there were -- in the four countries listed in NATO, none of them -- the United States didn't get one.
MR. PAGE: We weren't one of them. Isn't that conspicuous? You know, for all everybody's talking --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about that?
MR. PAGE: Well, Obama did it right, you know.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Or was it Kucinich who did it right?
MR. PAGE: He helped --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And is he a little afraid about --
MR. PAGE: Where is Dennis Kucinich? Where are you getting that from, John? I mean, Kucinich was nowhere in this.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, the lawsuit.
MR. PAGE: The fact of the matter -- yeah, well, right. People were talking impeachment and blah, blah, blah. Now it looks like it's working. But the fact is he did not get the U.S. more deeply involved.
Pat is right on this. We've got a point of agreement here. This is the most dangerous time for Libya or any other country, you know, in this kind of a situation where you don't know where the leadership is going to come from. Why would we want to put American troops right in the middle of all this chaos?
MR. LOWRY: Let me address this idea --
MS. CLIFT: I disagree that it exposes NATO as a paper tiger. NATO's involvement was the turning point there.
MR. BUCHANAN: Without the U.S.
MS. CLIFT: Well, yeah, but the U.S. did not play a role in the forefront.
MR. LOWRY: John, can I address this whole idea --
MS. CLIFT: Excuse me. It vindicates the president's post-Iraq model of engagement.
MR. LOWRY: No, it doesn't.
MS. CLIFT: Yes, it does.
MR. LOWRY: No, it doesn't. MS. CLIFT: And the transitional council actually has handled themselves pretty well. It's a small country, 6 (million) or 7 million people. They've got oil wells. I think they've got a very good shot to be a functioning country.
MR. LOWRY: The problem --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?
MS. CLIFT: I'm optimistic.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There's no leader over there. There's no political leader.
MR. PAGE: They're working on it.
MS. CLIFT: It's not over, certainly not over till they find Gadhafi.
MR. LOWRY: John, let me address -- can I address the whole leading-from-behind thing? That was -- could have been a catastrophic mistake, because the rebels --
MS. CLIFT: But it wasn't.
MR. LOWRY: -- the rebels were fraying. The NATO coalition was fraying. They were losing political support. They were losing weapons. It was foolish, if we were going to go in, not to give all the air support right from the beginning and really try to see it through as quickly as possible. Now, it turned out OK, and Gadhafi is gone.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, it turned out OK.
MR. LOWRY: And that's wonderful.
MR. PAGE: You sound disappointed, Rich.
MR. LOWRY: But that's not the best way to do it. No, I'm glad that bastard is gone.
MR. PAGE: Well, maybe another theory works sometimes, you know.
MR. LOWRY: I'm glad he's gone.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think we got more out of this --
MR. LOWRY: But we should have -- if we're going to be in it, let's really be in it.
MR. PAGE: This is our new model. We don't have to really be in it. That's how we get into quagmires.
MR. LOWRY: We're lucky. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on.
MR. LOWRY: It could have been a quagmire.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think we're getting -- we're getting --
MR. PAGE: You don't know how it's going to end until you start it --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, Clarence, hold it. Will you, please? We're getting more out of the issue than is there.
MR. PAGE: I said my peace.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three: Genesis Week -- the Earth Shakes.
WOMAN: (From videotape.) All of a sudden you felt the floor rumbling from under your feet. And when I stood up to go see what it was, the whole building just shifted like that and shook.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Richter scale climbed to 5.8 percent last Tuesday at 1:51 p.m. East Coast time. Buildings in Washington, D.C. felt the quake, including the White House. President Obama was hundreds of miles away on a 10-day respite in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. He conferred with top aides from a golf course, including Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and National Security Adviser Tom Donilon.
The epicenter of the quake was a very small town in Virginia with the name Mineral and a population of 424, located 90 miles from Washington. The town of Mineral is located five miles from a nuclear power plant. When the quake occurred, the nuclear power plant automatically shut down.
In the United States as a whole, there are 104 nuclear reactors operating in 31 states. All of the reactors are similarly equipped to shut down automatically in emergency circumstances. The 104 reactors provide almost 20 percent of the U.S.'s electricity.
Question: What's the future of nuclear power after Japan's earthquake and its nuclear-reactor horror? And more recently Germany, Italy and Switzerland, they all declared that they will build no more nuclear reactors.
MR. BUCHANAN: It depends on --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will the U.S. phase out nuclear? Yes or no.
MR. BUCHANAN: It depends on the country, John. The United States will not phase out nuclear. The North Anna plant in Virginia survived this thing easily. Generators went on, no problem; even Three Mile Island, nobody killed. There are some countries, like Russia, with Chernobyl, that handle it horribly and have got real problems. There are sort of green countries like the Germans who will give it up. Others, like the Koreans, the French, the Japanese, the Americans, we depend on it. We do a good job with it. It's useful. It can be a problem.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.
MR. BUCHANAN: But you don't give it up unless you give up technology.
MS. CLIFT: A determination to give it up is one thing, but they're all going to phase it out. And unless people can really retrain their appetite for oil, nuclear power is going to be around for a long time, and it's going to be part of the energy future in this country, unquestionably.
MR. PAGE: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK, genesis week. The winds blow.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: (From videotape.) I cannot stress this highly enough. If you are in the projected path of this hurricane, you have to take precautions now. Don't wait. Don't delay. We all hope for the best, but we have to be prepared for the worst.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The total wealth of the eastern seaboard in the path of the Hurricane Irene amounts to -- get this -- $3 trillion. So says Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody.
Question: On Friday, President Obama announced that he will cut his vacation short and return to Washington. Should -- and my question is, should Congress also do the same? Not a week from Tuesday, but this coming Tuesday.
MR. LOWRY: No.
MS. CLIFT: No.
MR. LOWRY: There's no reason for Congress to do that. You know, Congress just got out of town and all of a sudden everyone talked about getting it back. For what ends? I mean, they're not going to pass anything. What can they do? Do you want to put them in the -- maybe there's a populist case for putting them in the path of the hurricane. But it makes no sense to have Congress --
MR. PAGE: A point of agreement again, Rich, by the way. (Laughs.)
MR. LOWRY: Yeah. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Isn't it fitting that we do not enhance the appearance of vulnerability if Congress is not here? MR. PAGE: You know what Congress needs to do?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And if the president is here, somehow that establishes that --
MR. PAGE: You know what Congress needs to do, John? You know, and you ask people out on the streets of America, and they'll tell you, Republicans and Democrats need to stop their partisan bickering and work together for the good of the country.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think --
MR. PAGE: You hear this over and over again.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In an emergency --
MR. PAGE: If they can't do that, they don't need to be back here.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In an emergency situation such as this, I think the American people want to feel that their government is intact and in Washington.
MR. PAGE: When it's not an emergency, too, we want to feel that.
MR. LOWRY: Republicans and Democrats can wander around with flashlights in the Capitol.
MS. CLIFT: I would agree with you that Washington is not showing the sense of urgency that the jobs crisis in this country demands.
MR. PAGE: Thank you.
MS. CLIFT: But calling back Congress is not going to accomplish that. That supercommittee that's got to come up with a deal, I guess I'd like to see some photographs of them working.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I noticed President Obama is coming back.
MS. CLIFT: Well, yeah. He lives in Washington now.
MR. PAGE: Right.
MS. CLIFT: He's coming back a day early.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He was going to come back later in the -- later this coming week, on about Tuesday, right?
MR. BUCHANAN: Martha's Vineyard didn't work that well, John. MR. PAGE: He lives over the store.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Meaning what?
MR. BUCHANAN: It was a disaster, a political disaster, on Martha's Vineyard, him riding around on his bicycle. We've got earthquakes here, hurricanes here; economic reports are terrible. And he's up there partying.
MR. PAGE: Not a disaster.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Isn't that a reason for Congress to come back too?
MR. BUCHANAN: Stay out of the city.
MS. CLIFT: If President Obama can hold back the hurricanes, that would make him an entirely different political candidate.
MR. LOWRY: Well, he did --
MS. CLIFT: I don't think he's up to that.
MR. LOWRY: Well, he did say he was going to make the tides recede.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Four: Long Live the Dream.
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.: (From videotape.) I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live up to the true meaning of its creed.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Forty-eight years ago this Sunday, civil-rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered the famed "I Have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial. Forty-eight years later, Washington will host the official dedication of the new Martin Luther King Jr. memorial. It will be the first major monument of a non-president on Washington's National Mall. The effort to create the memorial was 15 years in the making and will cost some $120 million in private donations.
HARRY JOHNSON (CEO, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Fund): (From videotape.) The memorial to Dr. King is the first on the National Mall to celebrate a man of color, hope and peace. And you can see this location is powerful.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The "I Have a Dream" speech was delivered almost 45 years ago, before America elected its first black president, Barack Obama. PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) It's been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But some believe that racial equality still has yet to flower in the U.S.
Item: Unemployment. White Americans, 8.1 percent; black Americans, 16.2 percent.
Item: Net wealth. White Americans, $113,000; black Americans, $5,700.
Item: Incarceration. Of the 73 percent of white Americans in this country, less than 1 percent are in jail. Of the 14 percent of black Americans in the country, nearly 5 percent are in jail.
Item: Education. Rate of college graduations for white Americans, 60 percent; rate of college graduations for black Americans, 40 percent.
Question: How old was Martin Luther King when he passed away?
MR. BUCHANAN: I think he was about --
MS. CLIFT: Thirty-eight.
MR. BUCHANAN: -- 37, 38 years old, John.
MS. CLIFT: Thirty-eight.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Thirty-nine years old.
MR. BUCHANAN: OK, 39 years old.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did he --
MR. BUCHANAN: But I was at that speech, John.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did he also say some things that led people to believe that he was clairvoyant in the sense that he thought or he knew he was going to die?
MR. PAGE: Well, that last speech he gave, he said, you know, "I might not get there with you, but we'll get to the promised land."
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about that? What about that?
MR. PAGE: He knew his life was being threatened. There were people out to kill him. And so he had quite a few apocalyptic references in his final speeches. So that was his fierce urgency of now. He had to get things done. MS. CLIFT: He used to joke --
MR. LOWRY: That's right. But people miss that about him.
MS. CLIFT: He used to joke with his aides that he knew they would take a bullet for him. And he said, "Don't worry, I'll give you a great eulogy and a great sendoff." He talked about death a lot. I mean, it sort of followed him.
MR. LOWRY: Something people miss, on top of everything else, is the tremendous physical courage to just keep going under the kind of threats that he was under, with the FBI offering no help, and, in fact, you know, the opposite.
MR. PAGE: Yeah.
MR. BUCHANAN: Right.
MR. LOWRY: So really an amazingly brave man.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Somebody submitted this question. I want you to hear it. "America has a black president, an African-American attorney general, a black Supreme Court justice, and has had an African- American secretary of state," Condoleezza Rice. "It is time to stop focusing on statistics showing how blacks have fared compared to whites, and instead look at why some blacks are so successful while for others severe problems remain."
So instead of looking at black progress interracially, we need to start looking intraracially. Why do some blacks excel while others struggle?
MR. PAGE: Well, she's saying what Henry Louis Gates and a number of other black folks, intelligentsia, have said. The gap between blacks who are well off and those who are not doing well at all is now wider than the gap between blacks and whites. That's the big difference between now and Dr. King's day. And that's what drags down the overall statistics you were talking about.
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why are some blacks doing well and other blacks doing less well?
MR. BUCHANAN: I'll give you the answer, John.
MR. PAGE: Because -- well, a number of reasons, some of them having to do with politics and government, others having to do with the social deficits in the community.
MR. BUCHANAN: In a word, John, it is the collapse of the black family outside the black middle class. Seventy-one percent of African-American children are born out of wedlock, so they're born -- MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You've got five seconds.
MR. BUCHANAN: -- far, far behind.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Pat.
MR. BUCHANAN: For the first time, the Federal Reserve will be a major issue in the political campaign because of Ron Paul and Rick Perry.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: Labor will not help bankroll the Democratic Convention in North Carolina because it's being held in a city that doesn't have a single union hotel. And they're showing their disappointment in the president.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Rich.
MR. LOWRY: If Rick Perry is the Republican nominee, there'll be an independent candidate in the race.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.
MR. PAGE: Contrary to Karl Rove, I think Sarah Palin is not going to enter the race.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The U.S. GDP growth rate will be below 2 percent for the next eight months.