The McLaughlin Group Host: John McLaughlin Panel: Pat Buchanan, Author and Columnist; Eleanor Clift, Newsweek; Rich Lowry, National Review; Mort Zuckerman, U.S. News & World Report Taped: Friday, March 2, 2012 Broadcast: Weekend of March 3-4, 2012

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JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Five Dollars a Gallon.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: (From videotape.) Gas prices are climbing across the country. And when gas prices go up, it hurts everybody -- everybody who owns a car, everybody who owns a business.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Three dollars and 74 cents -- that's the average cost for a single gallon of gas in the U.S. now. That $3.74 is a spike of more than 30 cents over the last 30 days. Rising gas prices means less consumer money for goods like groceries, cars, houses, pharmaceuticals. That zeroing out of consumer spending brings the economy to a standstill. So why are gas prices shooting up? President Obama tells us.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) The single biggest thing that's causing the price of oil to spike right now is instability in the Middle East, this time around Iran.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The president is referring to Iran's control of the Strait of Hormuz, a water passage that controls some 20 percent of the world's oil. That could happen if Iran and Israel go to war with each other.

Mr. Obama also attributes the gas price hike to massive superpower consumption, named by him -- India, Brazil, China.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) Over the long term, the biggest reason oil prices will probably keep going up is growing demand in countries like China, India and Brazil. Nearly 10 million cars were added in China in 2010 alone -- 10 million cars in one year in one country.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: What do you think of that -- those remarks of the president?

PAT BUCHANAN: I think the president's exactly right, John. And I would say the immediate cause here is the situation with Iran and the United States and Israel. We've got Bibi Netanyahu coming to the United States. He wants this country to commit itself to go to war to prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapons capability. He's got support from McCain. He's got support in the Congress. Thirty-eight senators have signed a resolution.

It is the rising tensions in the Persian Gulf, the rising possibility of a coalition not only between Israel and Iran, but the United States and Iran, before this election. I think that it's driving up the price of oil. And it's going so high, it could threaten the economies of Europe, John.

This issue of Iran and oil and gasoline prices, they're all coming together. I think it's going to be the principal issue in the fall election.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me move that along, Eleanor, before I turn to you.

OK, presidential candidate Rick Santorum blames Obama for nixing Keystone.

FORMER SENATOR RICK SANTORUM (R-PA, Republican presidential candidate): (From videotape.) We now have $4-a-gallon gasoline. It's approach -- some are suggesting it's going to be $5, maybe more, this year. Why? Because the president's doing nothing to allay the fear of the world that America is going to try and help replace the oil that is tenuous right now in the Middle East. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Can President Obama reverse his position on the Keystone pipeline? He negated the pipeline a couple of months ago.

ELEANOR CLIFT: Well, first of all, Pat is right about the nightmare scenario. If there is military action, Israel against Iran, that might bring us $5-a-gallon gas. And so I think the president mightily does not want that to happen.

The president is not going to reverse his decision on Keystone. There's going to -- they're going to find an alternative route that's more environmentally desirable. But the Republicans are going to hammer him for it, and they're going to try to get the American people to think that stopping the Keystone is denying all this oil to the American taxpayer. And that's not right, because the pipeline is Canada's gateway to Asia. They want to build a pipeline to Port Arthur, Texas, which is a foreign free trade zone, and they want to export it. None of that oil will stay in the United States.

And so to equate the blocking, the temporary blocking, of that pipeline until a more environmentally reasonable route is found has nothing to do with the fact that gas prices are rising. In fact, we exported oil last year from this country for the first time.

RICH LOWRY: Thanks to the recession, which -- because our demand is down. Look, President Obama is right about the larger forces driving the price of gas, and Republican candidates have said a lot of stupid things on this. It's not Santorum that took the cake on that. It was Newt Gingrich, who's going around promising --

MS. CLIFT: Two-dollar gas.

MR. LOWRY: -- $2.50-a-gallon gas, which is ridiculous. But where Obama has been dishonest and foolhardy is he is going around claiming credit for increased U.S. production that is happening entirely on private and state land, while gas and oil production are decreasing on federal lands because of his policy.

And where he's foolhardy, John, is we have the shale revolution going on here, where there's no reason the United States should not be a gigantic power in the production of oil and gas. We are sitting on massive amounts of wealth, and his administration is slow-walking it and doesn't want to go and get it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does Obama's strategy entail decreasing the demand for oil so that we can go green? Is he fundamentally and was he dedicated before he ran for president --

MR. LOWRY: Of course.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- to the whole green world and concept? MR. LOWRY: Of course. And in that world view, you want --

MS. CLIFT: That's not a negative.

MR. LOWRY: -- the price --

MS. CLIFT: That's not a negative.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, wait a minute, now. It's a negative if you so decrease the volume of oil. A million barrels a day could be transmitted by the Keystone pipeline. As for whether or not it would all go abroad is another question.

MS. CLIFT: Well, that's a pretty big question.

MORT ZUCKERMAN: There is a --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I mean, that's what Obama -- I believe the Obama people are saying. But that hasn't --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, that's not true.

MR. BUCHANAN: But if it goes into the global market, it drops down prices globally, John. And so even if it does as Eleanor said, that will bring down prices. I mean, if you get extra supply -- say, 90 million barrels a day out there -- the price would drop to Newt Gingrich's level.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you remember the Solyndra disaster?

MR. BUCHANAN: Look, he --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does that give you an idea of --

MR. BUCHANAN: There's green --


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you remember what happened after the Solyndra disaster?

MR. BUCHANAN: There's green --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They came in with another, what, enormous amount of money to continue the operation. MR. BUCHANAN: John, there is green racketeering going on. That is exactly what Obama's doing.

MS. CLIFT: Green racketeering? (Laughs.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Can I say this?

MR. BUCHANAN: Green racketeering -- all these funds going out --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Green racketeering.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you want to move that around, Mort?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The fact is that our oil imports and our energy imports dropped from 60 percent of our consumption to 47 percent just in the last couple of years because we have developed these great new sources, as Rick was saying, of natural gas and oil. It is there in this country. It is being stopped.

The pipeline, I might say -- the Canadians are now thinking and have -- the prime minister has announced it -- they're going to have the pipeline go to Vancouver and they're going to export it directly to China. So we will not have a chance to get it. All of that energy is not being exported from the United States.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort, you sound pretty learned on all of this. Let's see if you're good with domestic economics. This is Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board Ben Bernanke. He gives us the good news on the economy. I'll read: "We have seen some positive developments in the labor market. Private payroll employment has increased by 165,000 jobs per month on average since the middle of last year, and nearly 260,000 new private-sector jobs were added in January. The decline in the unemployment rate over the past year has been somewhat more rapid than might have been expected" -- the decline in the unemployment.

That's the good news. Is that the total picture?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Let me just give you an idea of the way federal government statistics work. Why did we have job increases in January? Because it's what they call seasonally adjusted. This means we normally lose 2.9 million jobs in January. Instead we lost about 2.7 million jobs because of the warm weather. And they said therefore we created 200,000 jobs. This is just phony, OK?

The unemployment numbers are still very weak. The consumer numbers are very weak. The economy remains very weak. And I suspect the economy is going to continue to be much weaker than what anybody expected, given the fact that if we had the normal reaction to the kind of monetary and fiscal stimulus, the GDP would be growing at the rate of 8 percent now in normal conditions. It's growing at the rate of 2 percent. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you going to put this in a column where we can all read it? (Laughter.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think there's -- I think that is a very good insight, John. I think you're absolutely right.

MR. BUCHANAN: That's an excellent idea, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: When is this going to appear?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: It'll be out next week in a certain magazine called U.S. News & World Report. I'm glad you asked.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you going to add anything to what you've already told us -- shared with us?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I don't know. I'm going to wait and listen to your comments, and then I'll see what I add to it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, you must feel at this point quite, what, disenchanted?

MS. CLIFT: I think there are good signs out there for the economy. I agree that it's weak. I think the president is doing the right things. And I think the Republicans do not have a credible alternative vision. So I think right now --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, let's go --

MS. CLIFT: -- the president is looking pretty good.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's go right to the heart of that matter.

Exit question. Time warp forward eight months from now, election day, November 6, 2012. Will gasoline prices then be so high that they will lose the election for candidate Obama? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think that gasoline prices could be up at $6 a gallon. I think this --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In November?

MR. BUCHANAN: I think this Iranian thing is not going to be resolved before then. And if it is somehow resolved, it's going to be by some kind of conflict. So I only see gasoline prices headed north.

MS. CLIFT: President George W. Bush got hammered when gas prices went up. They fluctuate. There are speculators involved. If Israel does not attack, gas prices are not going to reach $5 a gallon.

MR. LOWRY: I agree with that. It's only in the event of an Israeli strike and continued conflict in the Middle East where you'd have Pat's nightmare scenario for the president and for the economy. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: If gasoline prices go up to $5, it'll take almost $150 billion out of the consumption that we would normally have between now and then. That will turn this economy into a much, much weaker -- (inaudible) -- and it will have a huge effect on the election. I don't know if it'll lose it for Obama. It's certainly going to have a huge effect.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is there a precedent for judging that the election would be lost by Obama by a previous election?

MS. CLIFT: I would look at --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you want to speak to that?

MR. BUCHANAN: Jimmy Carter. I believe they had gasoline prices back in 1980 --


MR. BUCHANAN: -- went up to record levels.


MR. BUCHANAN: And he went down --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was it 5 percent.

MR. BUCHANAN: He lost 44 states.

MS. CLIFT: Well, you had --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He was zonked, wasn't he?


MR. BUCHANAN: Worse than that.

MS. CLIFT: But you had a lot -- MR. ZUCKERMAN: That probably wasn't the only reason he was zonked.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who zonked him?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I don't know why I'm --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who zonked him?

MR. BUCHANAN: The Iranians grabbed the hostages.

MS. CLIFT: Right. Exactly.

MR. BUCHANAN: It was Iran then too.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Reagan defeated --

MR. BUCHANAN: Of course he did, 44 states to six.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And that's because of the price of gasoline principally?

MR. BUCHANAN: That was one of the reasons, as Mort said.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was it a (moving ?) reason? You know, Americans --

MR. BUCHANAN: The hostages --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- are very responsive to that.

MR. BUCHANAN: Hostages were being held. The Russians were on the move all over the world.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Carter was seen --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you want to close this off?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Carter was seen as a weak president.

MS. CLIFT: Two things --


MR. ZUCKERMAN: Carter was seen as a very weak president.

MS. CLIFT: Two things are going to decide this election -- the direction of the unemployment figure in late summer and how Romney, presuming he's the nominee, performs in the debates. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Two: Romney's Nail Biter.

FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY (R, Republican presidential candidate): (From videotape.) In this room are the people who knocked on the doors and made the calls and went to the polls, and it made an enormous difference. We didn't win by a lot, but we won by enough, and that's all that counts.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mitt Romney's victory Tuesday in his home state of Michigan may have been narrow, but as he said, a win is a win. Governor Romney also won in Arizona, same day, defeating Rick Santorum, the new darling of the right wing of the GOP right wing.

Prior to Tuesday's primaries, there were nine other primaries. Romney won four of those nine, Santorum four, Gingrich one. With Michigan, these 11 races have been a roller coaster. Romney's Tuesday win makes him the most recent candidate with momentum, the mo -- not the big mo; the mo.

Question: How significant was Romney's Michigan victory? Rich Lowry.

MR. LOWRY: Oh, it was very significant. He was facing seeing his candidacy potentially broken in Michigan. There would have been hue and cry for another candidate to get in the race. His fundraising might have dried up. He could have -- very well would have lost Ohio in that circumstance.

So now we're looking at a race, I think, where you're just trying -- other candidates just trying to keep Romney below the magic number of 1,144. And it's going to be very hard to do that, certainly if he has a good Super Tuesday and wins Ohio.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Super Tuesday is this coming Tuesday, and these are the 10 states holding primaries: Alaska, Georgia -- by the way, Newt Gingrich's home state -- Idaho, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia.

So which one of those is Romney is going to take?

MR. BUCHANAN: He's going to take --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Or what's going to be the equation?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think Romney's going to dominate Super Tuesday. He will not probably carry Georgia, which is Gingrich's home state. As long as Gingrich is in there, he divides the opposition against Romney. So I think Romney is going to come out of this day as the clear Republican candidate.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you agree, Eleanor? MS. CLIFT: The big prize is Ohio. No Republican has won the presidency without carrying Ohio. It's a key state, not only in the primary but in the fall. And that's -- everybody's going to focus on Ohio, whether Santorum can catch Romney in Ohio. And then Gingrich has set his own standard. He says he has to win his home state of Georgia. And Santorum has said he's going to come in first or second in all 10 states.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So is it --

MS. CLIFT: So they'll divide up the delegates. And the only thing that can derail Romney is if Santorum somehow wins a significant amount more delegates --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We are all --

MR. BUCHANAN: Romney --

MS. CLIFT: -- than Romney, which is unlikely.

MR. BUCHANAN: Romney --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We'll agree, though, that he's going to continue his mo, but it may not be the big mo, after Tuesday. Right?

MS. CLIFT: It's medium mo. (Laughs.)

MR. BUCHANAN: It's going to be the big mo for this reason, I think. I think he's going to win six states, Romney.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Name them.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think he's going to win --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Name them.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think he's going to win Ohio. I think he's going to win Vermont, Massachusetts, Virginia, the Dakota --

MR. LOWRY: Idaho.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- and Idaho. That's six.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pretty good, Pat.

Issue Three: Syria -- Casus Belli?

SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON: (From videotape.) I think that, based on definitions of war criminal and crimes against humanity, there would be an argument to be made that he would fit into that category.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The president of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, may fit the description. But the United States is not declaring that to be the case. The U.S. expects Assad to step down from power himself. Assad is currently cracking down hard on protesters who are demanding that he resign from the Syrian presidency.

The civil rebellion and Assad's crackdown on it have already lasted a year. Seven thousand five hundred Syrian civilians have been killed by Syria's military and Assad's security forces, says the U.N. The U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, delivered this U.S. message indirectly to President Assad.

SUSAN RICE (U.S. ambassador to the United Nations): (From videotape.) Your days are numbered, and it is time and past time for you to transfer power responsibly and peacefully.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The U.N. Security Council's 15 members recently reviewed the Syrian rebellion and crackdown. The council drafted a resolution calling on Bashar al-Assad to step down. The resolution was backed by the U.S. and both the 22-member Arab League and the 27- member European Union.

But the resolution never saw the light of day. China and Russia, two powerhouses, blocked the measure and called instead for a brokered deal between Assad and the rebels -- no ouster of Assad.

Question: Regarding international diplomacy toward Syria, there is a fundamental international conflict in foreign policy principles playing out before our eyes. What is the root of that conflict? Can you speak to that, Rich?

MR. LOWRY: It's sovereignty. It's humanitarian concerns versus sovereignty. For me, this is a huge strategic question, though. We really want Assad to go. He's the only Arab ally of Iran. He's funneling weapons to Hezbollah. He's complicit in the murder of American soldiers in Iraq and the murder of Lebanese politicians. So at the very least, we want this conflict to burn on.


MR. LOWRY: And if we're not going to arm the Syrian opposition, we want the Saudis, we want the Turks to do it. We do not want to let Assad off the hook.

MR. BUCHANAN: Look, John, take a look at who the opposition is. The opposition has got the support of Hamas. They've got the support of al-Qaida. They've got the support of the Muslim Brotherhood. If that opposition wins, the Christians go to the wall in Syria. This is a horrendous mess. We know the devil we got in there, but there's devils coming. In my judgment, the United States should work along with the Russians to put an end to this conflict. (Cross talk.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The issue here --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's going to prevail? Is it going to be the sovereignty of the state, or is it -- that is the Westphalia agreement -- or is it going to be humanitarian assistance?

MS. CLIFT: It's a sickening humanitarian. People are starving to death and they're freezing to death. And I think, yes, the Saudis are beginning to talk about arming the opposition. The opposition is not a bunch of angels. But I think it's inevitable that Assad is going to go. And if you don't arm them, it just prolongs --

MR. BUCHANAN: You're going to get more people killed. You're going to get tens of thousands killed.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me shoehorn --

MS. CLIFT: The U.S. is not going to arm them, but it's going to happen.

MR. LOWRY: (Inaudible.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is shoehorn time. OK, Hillary's reprimand.

SEC. CLINTON: (From videotape.) The entire world, other than Russia and China, were willing to recognize that we must take international action against the Syrian regime. It's quite distressing to see two permanent members of the Security Council using their veto when people are being murdered -- women, children, brave young men. Houses are being destroyed. It is just despicable.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Security Council, 15 members -- five of those voted on this proposition. They didn't vote, but it came to their review. What was the result of that?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: China and Russia vetoed any real action that we could take -- that the United Nations would take against Syria. And therefore, that's what she was reacting to. And, by the way --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: She said it was despicable what they did.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, it was despicable, actually, because this guy Assad is an absolute terror. OK, now, the real power there is Russia. We have got to find a way to put great pressure on Russia, because Russia is the -- (inaudible). I'm going to tell you why -- because a lot of the leadership of Russia have big personal financial investments in Syria, all organized by Assad, to keep the Russians on his side. It's a disgrace what's going on there.

MS. CLIFT: Assad's father in 1982 did the same thing. He brutally murdered, I think, 10,000 people. MR. LOWRY: Hama. Hama rules.

MS. CLIFT: What did President Reagan do then? That was 1982.

MR. BUCHANAN: Nothing. As a matter of fact, we made him an ally in 1991 in the Iraq war. His father was an ally of the United States in the Gulf War, John.

MR. LOWRY: OK. Well, this Assad is not our ally. In fact, he's allies --

MR. BUCHANAN: No, he's not.

MR. LOWRY: -- with our foremost enemy --


MR. LOWRY: -- in the region.

MR. BUCHANAN: He's not our problem either.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hey, Pat, what about --

MR. LOWRY: This is the devil we know, and he is a black, evil villain who is --

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, look, there are evil people --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is the authority of the Westphalia agreement --

MR. BUCHANAN: It's Westphalia.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- namely, the respect for state sovereignty?

MR. BUCHANAN: That's 1648, and that is right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Humanitarian assistance --

MR. BUCHANAN: People decide --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- does not overrule state sovereignty. MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah, and people have a right to decide their own religion.

MR. LOWRY: Did you oppose aid to the contras?

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. LOWRY: Did you oppose aid to the contras in the 1980s?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I'm not sure --

MR. BUCHANAN: That was our enemy in there.

MR. LOWRY: Did you?

MR. BUCHANAN: We were --

MR. LOWRY: The Sandinistas were our enemy. So is Assad. So is Iran.

MR. BUCHANAN: Why is he our enemy?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean you can have humanitarian assistance without --

MS. CLIFT: Humanitarian assistance --

MR. LOWRY: Did you support aid to the contras in the `80s?



MR. LOWRY: OK, there you go.

MS. CLIFT: Kofi Annan is now the head -- he's the envoy there, and I hope --

MR. BUCHANAN: He'll solve it.

MS. CLIFT: -- they're going to get some humanitarian assistance in, at the very least. It's definitely needed.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Four: The Lonely Centrist.

SENATOR OLYMPIA SNOWE (R-ME): (From videotape.) Well, there wasn't a lot of company, that's for sure. And I know that some would describe us as a vanishing center, you know. I (always ?) say it's the sensible center; obviously fewer and fewer within our ranks.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Olympia Snowe, the moderate Republican senator from Maine, announced this week that she will not seek reelection. The just-turned 65-year-old Senator Snowe has spent more than half of her life in the U.S. Congress -- 34 years; first, 16 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, 2nd district, Maine, and 18 years in the U.S. Senate, Maine.

Snowe says the reason for her decision not to run for a fourth term in the U.S. Senate is because the Senate is too divided and too soured to get anything done.

SEN. SNOWE: (From videotape.) But the point is, it was designed to be, you know, a consensus-building institution. And we have strayed from that, far from it. We've deferred tax reform. We've deferred regulatory reform. We've deferred an energy policy, deferred budget -- you know, we don't consider budget resolutions on an annual budget, in violation of law; balanced budget amendment. We're not doing the things that people rightly expect should be coming at this time, during this, you know, challenging economic period.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: President Obama saluted Senator Snowe in writing. It happens rarely -- a salute from a Democratic president to a Republican member of Congress. "From her unwavering support for our troops to her efforts to reform Wall Street to fighting for Maine's small businesses, Senator Snowe's career demonstrates how much can be accomplished when leaders from both parties come together to do the right thing for the American people."

Senator Snowe is seen by many conservatives as too liberal to be a member of the Republican Party. They point to her low conservative rating by the American Conservative Union, the ACU. On a conservative scale, zero to 100, Snowe has a lifetime Senate rating of 55, says the ACU.

Question: Did Obama's -- President Obama's progressive victory -- progressive -- liberal victory in 2008 set the stage for political polarization? Do you want to try that?

MR. LOWRY: Oh, yeah. I think he's hugely polarized the country. And this Olympia Snowe argument that nothing has happened is ridiculous. When you had unified control of the government, even before that, you had TARP, a huge, enormous thing. You had the bailouts of the auto companies, a huge thing. You had an enormous stimulus bill. You had an enormous health care bill in "Obamacare." And you had Dodd-Frank.

When you have divided government, things are not going to happen the way they do when you have unified government. And then you have a big election to try to decide which party is going to control.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean, the more polarization, the better?

MR. LOWRY: Yes. I mean, parties should stand for opposite and opposing philosophies -- MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK, no more mugwumps.

MR. LOWRY: -- and then clash and take it to the public.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A mugwump is a politician who sits with his mug on one side of the fence and his wump on the other.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's an old term, right?

MR. LOWRY: Can you use the term wump on TV?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, 1880s. John, but do you know what it is? There's a no man's land in the center of politics now on Capitol Hill, where the Republican right is firing at the Democratic left and the people in the center are being wiped out.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The Republican right, if I may say so, also firing at the Republican center. When she sits there in the caucus --

MR. BUCHANAN: She's in the Republican left on the Senate.

MS. CLIFT: Oh, come on.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- she -- call it what you will. The people are saying to her, why don't you vote with the party, when she is not voting with, frankly, the hard right of the Republican Party.

MR. BUCHANAN: Why doesn't she --

MR. LOWRY: What should they say?

MR. BUCHANAN: Why doesn't she vote with the party?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: They get beaten -- because she is -- you don't have to be a member of a party to support every aspect of a party's policies.

MR. LOWRY: She's obviously free to do what she wants to.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: She does.

MS. CLIFT: I agree with Mort. You shouldn't have to vote down the line with your party on every issue. And what she is reacting to is the decision made by Mitch McConnell that the party would hang together on every issue. And she happened to resign this week. I think the last straw was the vote about the measure on contraception and basically to force some of these moderate senators -- MR. BUCHANAN: Every Republican but one voted for that.

MR. LOWRY: She voted against it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, do you remember Jesse Helms?

MS. CLIFT: Excuse me.

MR. BUCHANAN: I sure do.

MS. CLIFT: Every Republican but one voted for it because --

MR. LOWRY: That's because they opposed it.

MS. CLIFT: -- Mitch McConnell whips them --

MR. BUCHANAN: All right. And every Democrat but three voted for their --

MR. LOWRY: A party leader who tries to get party unity? This is outrageous.

MS. CLIFT: And that is --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to ask Pat a history question.

MS. CLIFT: And they're voting for 1950s contraception.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Jesse Helms --

MS. CLIFT: They're crazy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- in an ad against his Democratic opponent, Harvey Gantt, 20-plus years ago --


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- quote: "There are three things in the middle of the road -- a yellow stripe, a dead skunk and Harvey Gantt." That was his opponent.

MR. BUCHANAN: That's right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's the way he characterized a centrist.

MR. BUCHANAN: A yellow stripe and a dead skunk, exactly.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think it's a fair description? MS. CLIFT: If you don't have --

MR. BUCHANAN: It's a fair -- they're dead. It's a dead moderate. (Laughs.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think it's an outrageous description of a centrist, because unless you can put together --

MS. CLIFT: Outrageous. That's right.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- both parties on main issues --


MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- you're never going to get anything done.

MR. BUCHANAN: You need one-party rule.

(Cross talk.)

MR. BUCHANAN: Single-party rule.

MS. CLIFT: You don't need one-party rule. We have two major parties --

MR. BUCHANAN: Single-party rule.

MS. CLIFT: -- and they should work together, and that's what the country wants.

MR. LOWRY: And they should both be liberal.

MS. CLIFT: And if you can't get --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Polarization now, Pat, right?

MR. BUCHANAN: Positive polarization. That's what Agnew was for.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Patrick.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think if Romney wins Ohio, it'll be virtually over for Santorum and the rest.


MS. CLIFT: If independent former Governor Angus King gets in the Senate race in Maine, he could win as an independent.


MR. LOWRY: You've got the anniversary of "Obamacare" coming up, the signing of it, and Democrats will be hiding under their desks and not talking about it because it's such a loser. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort, two seconds.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: There's going to be a conflict in Egypt between the Muslim Brotherhood and the army.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I predict that Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker will win his recall election and Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama will lose Wisconsin in his presidential bid.