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The McLaughlin Group
Host: John McLaughlin
Panel: Pat Buchanan, Author and Columnist; Eleanor Clift, Newsweek; Tim Carney, Washington Examiner; Paul Glastris, Washington Monthly
Taped: Friday, July 27, 2012
Broadcast: Weekend of July 28-29, 2012

Copyright © 2012 by Federal News Service, LLC, 1120 G Street NW, Suite 990, Washington, DC 20005-3801 USA. Federal News Service is a private firm not affiliated with the federal government. No portion of this transcript may be copied, sold or retransmitted without the written authority of Federal News Service, LLC. Copyright is not claimed as to any part of the original work prepared by a United States government officer or employee as a part of that person's official duties. For information on subscribing to the FNS Transcripts Database or any other FNS product, please email info@fednews.com or call 1-202-347-1400.

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Romney Roaming.

In his first overseas tour since becoming the Republican Party nominee in April, Mitt Romney is visiting three countries -- the U.K., Israel and Poland, strong U.S. allies all.

First stop, the U.K. and London. Mr. Romney witnessed the opening of the Summer Olympic Games. Romney oversaw the Winter Games in 2002 in Salt Lake City, Utah, as president and CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee. So he was asked on Wednesday whether the Olympics in London looked, quote-unquote, "ready" to him.

FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY (R, Republican presidential candidate): (From videotape.) There are a few things that were disconcerting; the stories about the private security firm not having enough people, the supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials. That obviously is not something which is encouraging.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He also met with top British officials, including U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron at 10 Downing Street, talking Middle East peace, among other topics. But the subject of the Olympics seemed to prickle the prime minister, who made this statement in a press conference prior to meeting with Mr. Romney.

BRITISH PRIME MINISTER DAVID CAMERON: (From videotape.) We are holding an Olympic Games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world. I mean, of course it's easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mr. Romney, after meeting with Cameron, applauded the London Organizing Committee.

Q: Is this trip helping to define the direction of Mitt Romney's foreign policy when and if he becomes president? Pat Buchanan.

PAT BUCHANAN: Yes, it is, John. But that crack about Salt Lake City being the middle of nowhere was almost a religious slur, I think.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean by the --

MR. BUCHANAN: I thought we almost had an Anglo-Mormon war going on here. But, listen, what Mitt Romney is doing is he's picked three very pro-American countries -- Great Britain, Poland and Israel. And part of his thesis is that Obama has neglected them or treated them shabbily in trying to deal with America's enemies rather than America's friends, and he's going to be a strong ally of America's friends.

But he's got a real problem here, John. I think this trip is a tremendous risk for him. Let's take the Israeli part of it. He's going to get the benediction of Bibi Netanyahu, his old buddy, maybe. But it could cost him. There are going to be people pushing him to say when he would strike Iran, would he back up an Israeli strike, what will you do in Syria. And he wants to maintain his flexibility and freedom of action. You'll recall, John, his father did not in 1967 on foreign policy and got himself into horrible trouble.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Romney and Bibi Netanyahu were both giving counsel to Bain, correct?

MR. BUCHANAN: No, they were with Boston Consulting Group before Bain.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Before Bain.

MR. BUCHANAN: Mm-hmm. (Acknowledging.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

ELEANOR CLIFT: Well, they're business buddies from way back. I think Romney went over there trying to assert that he has a special relationship with Britain and that he somehow would do better getting along with our traditional allies. And he did not get off to a very good start. He managed to insult the Brits by suggesting they can't handle the Olympics and they may not come together.

In fairness, he was probably speaking as a mechanic who oversaw the logistics and the security of a previous Olympics. But the British press has been unmerciful towards him, calling him the nowhere man, comparing him to Sarah Palin, wondering if they're in for another gaffe-prone president like George Bush. (Laughter.) He's got to be glad to get back to the gentle U.S. press.

So the trip is turning out to be exactly the opposite of what he wanted. He wanted to bask in the glow --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.

MS. CLIFT: -- of the Olympics. He's skipping the one event where his wife's horse is performing because that's too associative with rich people --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.

MS. CLIFT: -- spending money on horses. So, you know, I think the trip is backfiring.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are the newspapers that are so editorializing against him left wing to start with?

MS. CLIFT: No.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They are not?

MS. CLIFT: No. They're across the spectrum. He insulted the country. The Olympics is a moment of extreme national pride. And for a foreign challenger to come in --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think --

MS. CLIFT: -- and say the things he did, however well-meaning they were meant, is a disaster.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that using the word insult to describe what Romney did is an excess of anger or disapproval rather than it is a true estimate?

TIM CARNEY: I think they felt insulted. I mean, I read the British media, and I think they did feel insulted.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How much media did you read?

MR. CARNEY: I read something from the Telegraph. I read stuff from the Guardian. I read all the British journalists who were using -- on Twitter using the hash tag --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They were all outraged.

MR. CARNEY: Well, they were having fun with making fun of how I thought they thought Romney looked bad.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well --

MR. CARNEY: And in that regard, I wonder -- I would like to go back and look at how they reacted to Obama's --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think --

MR. CARNEY: -- various snubs.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that typically a Brit has an excess of propriety that's peculiarly known to Britain, and everyone's very polite to each other? And we don't talk that way in the United States, do we? I'm never going to hear the end of this. Go ahead.

TIM CARNEY: I think that Londoners, just like New Yorkers, are able to be fairly saucy and rude in my own experience. And I don't mean that as an insult. I'm a New Yorker too.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You've been there.

MR. CARNEY: Yes. And it was one of the least friendly welcoming cities I've ever been to --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So we're all saucy.

MR. CARNEY: -- was London.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We're all saucy.

MR. CARNEY: Yes. And I think Romney coming across, stepping in and criticizing them, it's like somebody shows up and criticizes your brothers or the way your family (runs ?). You can make that criticism, but it looks bad when you do it. And Obama has made all these missteps with London -- with England.

And I think Pat's exactly right. Romney was trying to go and say I'm not going to offend England by doing stuff like sending the Winston Churchill bust out of the White House, like giving the queen an iPod loaded with my speeches, all these missteps that Obama made. Romney was trying to contrast himself to that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Paul.

MR. CARNEY: He's failed.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Paul Glastris.

PAUL GLASTRIS: Well, I don't think you can look at it as anything but an insult felt. You know, the conservative, austerity- minded prime minister with whom Romney was supposed to have sympathy stood up and felt insulted and criticized Romney right back. So it was a very, very bad situation for Romney.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was that the end of the exchange on this matter between the two? Or later on, did it -- was it also reintroduced and Romney tried to apologize for any offense he had given?

MR. CARNEY: Yes.

MR. GLASTRIS: He came out in front of 10 Downing Street and tried to walk it back --

MR. BUCHANAN: Right.

MR. GLASTRIS: -- and tried to say fine things about the Olympics and expressed his confidence that things would go well. But, you know, as everyone was saying, the cat was out of the bag. The press had a field day with it. And remember, this is his maiden voyage in foreign policy. And diplomacy is part of what a president does, and he blew the easiest -- he missed the easiest --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, but what's the --

MR. GLASTRIS: -- fastball over the plate ever.

MS. CLIFT: Well --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the net political damage when Americans see this and they think --

MR. GLASTRIS: Very little. That's the -- very little.

MR. BUCHANAN: Very little.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Don't they make allowance --

MR. BUCHANAN: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- for the British way of speaking --

MR. BUCHANAN: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and their properness, et cetera?

MR. GLASTRIS: Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You say they can be saucy.

MR. BUCHANAN: But, you know --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But, you know, I mean, they're really
reductively a lot more proper than --

MR. GLASTRIS: If you actually ask yourself what was the purpose of the trip, it was not to please foreigners. It was to send messages to key constituents --

MR. BUCHANAN: Constituencies.

MR. GLASTRIS: -- in the United States --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.

MR. GLASTRIS: -- including evangelicals --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.

MR. GLASTRIS: -- who support Israel --

MR. BUCHANAN: Right.

MR. GLASTRIS: -- and patriotic people who hate Barack Obama and so forth.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So is there any possible gain from this as far as Romney is concerned?

MR. BUCHANAN: There is a gain. Let me tell you --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the gain?

MR. BUCHANAN: The gain is if he gets to Israel and Bibi Netanyahu says basically this guy is really with us and he's a strong supporter of ours, because the Jewish community, which gave Obama a 57-point margin --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- is very skeptical of Obama now.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes.

MR. BUCHANAN: This trip is about Broward County, Dade County and Palm Beach County.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah. And the president just signed --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Jewish, largely Jewish.

MS. CLIFT: And the president just --

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, there's a heavy Jewish concentration there --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.

MR. CARNEY: In Florida.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- and it's a swing state.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right. I know. I live there.

MS. CLIFT: And the president --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK --

MS. CLIFT: Excuse me. The president countered, signing a big aid package for Israel to counter any --

MR. BUCHANAN: I saw that.

MS. CLIFT: -- good will. Right.

MR. BUCHANAN: That's the name of the game. (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: So he -- that's right. Exactly.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK, next stop, Israel.

Israel is the country Mr. Romney says he'll visit first if elected president, in direct contrast to Barack Obama, who did not visit Israel in his first term, although, like Romney, he did so as candidate Obama in 2008. Romney meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who he has been friendly with since 1976, when both worked for the Boston Consulting Group as corporate advisers.

Next week, Poland, meeting with Prime Minister Donald Tusk, and later Polish icon Lech Walesa. Poland has agreed to accommodate part of a U.S. missile defense system, one that has raised Russian hackles. Last March, four months ago, during the GOP primary, Romney called Russia the U.S., quote-unquote, "number one geopolitical foe."

Q: How do you rate Mitt Romney's overseas trip thus far? Eleanor Clift.

MS. CLIFT: Well, it's been a failure so far. But he's only just begun. And now he is going to visit two of our strongest allies, and they're two governments where I would say President Obama's approval ratings are probably upside down. They're very Republican-leaning governments.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mm-hmm. (Acknowledging.)

MS. CLIFT: And Romney has said that he's not going to take any questions, do any press conferences. He's going to count on the American people, by inference, to somehow think that he'd be, you know, better with these constituencies he's trying to woo. I think it's marginal. And I think any time Romney spends not talking about the economy is time wasted --

MR. CARNEY: Yeah.

MS. CLIFT: -- in terms of his presidential ambitions.

MR. BUCHANAN: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think he has really taken a higher position on the stage simply by undertaking the rigor, the mental rigor -- the danger, if you will -- of the trip?

MR. BUCHANAN: The risk? John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Not the physical danger.

MR. BUCHANAN: No, it's the --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The political danger.

MR. BUCHANAN: The political risk, frankly, should have been zero in England and zero in Poland. The risk is really in the Middle East. Look, Syria is exploding. There's talk of going in and attacking their chemical weapons. You've got Iran. At what point, when the negotiations fail, does Israel attack? Will America back them up?

I think the idea of him going in there --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- and saying nothing and listening --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- and waiting till he gets home -- but he's going to be pushed to say something.

MR. CARNEY: But I think --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why -- wait. I want to ask you a question --
MR. CARNEY: Sure.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- since you're a world traveler.

MR. CARNEY: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why Poland?

MR. CARNEY: Poland. I love Poland, and --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Thanks for that.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. CARNEY: I will tell you why I love Poland.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You can build on that.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. CARNEY: I think it resonates.

MS. CLIFT: Does Poland love you?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Laughs.
)

MR. CARNEY: Poland hasn't met me yet. Poland was one of the great stalwarts in the Cold War in fighting off the Soviet Union. And so sort of the Cold War aspect of remnants of American conservatism will like that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about the placement of --

MR. CARNEY: Poland is a very Catholic country.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- the placement of missiles or missile --

MR. CARNEY: Yes. And Obama --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you remember that business?

MR. CARNEY: Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What was that?

MR. BUCHANAN: Obama shut down the missile defense in Poland and Czechoslovakia --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- when he came in.

MR. CARNEY: In order to reset with Russia.

MR. BUCHANAN: They said it was appeasing -- they said it was appeasing Russia.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me jump ahead. Does this have anything to do with his selection of a vice president? Who are we thinking of?

MS. CLIFT: Well --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who does The New York Times say --

MR. BUCHANAN: Marco Rubio is not from Poland.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- is his best selection in its news story?

MR. CARNEY: His best selection?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, for vice president.

MR. BUCHANAN: T-Paw.

MR. CARNEY: Pawlenty was what I thought, yeah.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pawlenty. Is Pawlenty Polish?

MR. BUCHANAN: No, I think he's middle -- Eastern European,
but I don't think it's --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Principally Polish?

MR. BUCHANAN: I don't know if it's Balkan or not.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What I'm having difficulty with is why Poland? Why Poland? Why Warsaw?

MR. GLASTRIS: I mean --

MR. BUCHANAN: There's a lot of Polish folks.

MR. GLASTRIS: I mean, there are a lot of --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Polish-Americans?

MR. BUCHANAN: A tremendous number.

MR. GLASTRIS: In Ohio --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm not denigrating Poland. I just want to you know. You know, you've got other --

(Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You've got France. You've got Germany. Did he deliberately not go to Germany?

MR. BUCHANAN: Why would you go to Germany?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why wouldn't you?

MS. CLIFT: Well, that's where candidate Obama went.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's probably the most powerful of all the financial --

MS. CLIFT: You don't want to do --

MR. BUCHANAN: But Obama went there --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's the financial center of the world.
(Cross talk.)

MR. BUCHANAN: Obama went there and got 200,000 people. You want to go there and get 200?

MR. CARNEY: Romney would have gotten 150 people at the Brandenburg Gate.

MS. CLIFT: The comparison would be --

MR. CARNEY: He would not have --

MS. CLIFT: The comparison would be awful.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think he regrets it?

MS. CLIFT: He could probably get -- Romney could probably get a couple of dozen people in a brat house, but that's about it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's making fun of Obama going to the Brandenburg Gate. What did you think of that?

MS. CLIFT: I'm not making fun of him. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He did.

MR. CARNEY: No, I said Romney would have gotten only 150 people at the Brandenburg Gate.

MS. CLIFT: Right. Exactly. We're making fun of Romney, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How do you know that?

MR. CARNEY: I don't know that, but I know that he's not the --

MS. CLIFT: He's not --

MR. CARNEY: He's not the character that Obama is.

MR. BUCHANAN: He doesn't fill up stadiums. He doesn't fill up stadiums.

MS. CLIFT: He's not a celeb.

MR. CARNEY: Yes.

MR. BUCHANAN: He just doesn't do that.

MS. CLIFT: He's not a celeb.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are we tracing that to Obama's color?

MR. BUCHANAN: No. Obama was a sensation worldwide when he was nominated.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He went to Cairo after about six months, his first stop, right?

MR. BUCHANAN: It was -- yeah, it was a famous speech. But there wasn't much follow-up.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. Did it cause the youth of Cairo to rise up and do what they did to that --

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, I think he caused expectations to rise that were not realized.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit Q: What nations did Mr. Romney not visit on this trip, possibly deliberately?

MR. BUCHANAN: Afghanistan, where there's more troops than anywhere else in the world right now, I believe.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's correct. What other?

MS. CLIFT: He visited nowhere, because he -- other -- there was no place else that he wanted to go, because he just wants to criticize President Obama. He doesn't want to say what he's going to do. So virtually any other country he went to would put --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Germany is far more powerful.

MS. CLIFT: But Germany -- we just made the point --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Germany is doling out money, big money.

MS. CLIFT: We just made the point that Barack Obama, candidate, went there.

MR. GLASTRIS: He speaks French.

MS. CLIFT: And you don't want to invite -- you don't want to invite a comparison. He should have gone to Paris.

MR. GLASTRIS: He speaks French.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Romney speaks French.

MR. GLASTRIS: He doesn't want people to know that.

MR. BUCHANAN: That's the last thing you want him doing. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does he not want to deal with the new socialist leader of France?

MR. CARNEY: No, it's -- Eleanor --

MR. GLASTRIS: I --

MR. CARNEY: Sorry. Go ahead.

MR. GLASTRIS: No, no. I --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Sarkozy --

MR. GLASTRIS: I think that he thought --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does he not want to associate with a socialist?

MR. GLASTRIS: I think he wants safe places with conservative governments --

MS. CLIFT: Yes.

MR. GLASTRIS: -- to burnish his image as a foreign policy player.

MR. BUCHANAN: Pro-American.

MR. GLASTRIS: And he has not been able to achieve that in the --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, do you think --

MR. CARNEY: And these are places where Obama has upset the population.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think Obama is trying to say, look, we've had this China infatuation. We've had crossing the Pacific.

MR. BUCHANAN: You mean --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's go back to our true friends.

MR. CARNEY: Romney's saying that, you're saying?

MR. BUCHANAN: Romney.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Romney's saying that, not Obama.

MR. CARNEY: Yeah.

MR. BUCHANAN: Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Romney's saying that.

MR. CARNEY: That's part of it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's go back to our true friends, where we have a seasoned friendship.

MR. GLASTRIS: There is something about Romney's foreign policy that feels very 1982. And I think there is a kind of nostalgia for that day, and that's why he's going to Poland.

MR. BUCHANAN: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think --

MR. GLASTRIS: That's why he's focused on Russia as our number one enemy, which sort of no one quite gets --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think --

MR. GLASTRIS: -- but him. And I think it appeals to, as you were saying, some of the --

MR. BUCHANAN: John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think the American people --

MR. GLASTRIS: -- remnant Cold War warriors --

MR. BUCHANAN: John, it's --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think the American people have taken the Clinton, secretary of state, and the Obama bait about going in a new direction? Or do you think they're having second thoughts now?

MR. BUCHANAN: John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We are fundamentally isolationist right now.

MS. CLIFT: If you read --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We're living in an isolationist --

MR. BUCHANAN: John, it is a --

MS. CLIFT: If you read --

MR. BUCHANAN: Two words: It is a friends first policy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Friends first.

MR. BUCHANAN: That's what Romney is saying. And these are our friends.

MS. CLIFT: And if you read Romney's book, "No Apologies," he takes his shots at old Europe too. He's not -- this is not about reversing the trend of foreign policy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm not saying reversing.

MS. CLIFT: He's --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Maybe he just wants to make sure that they realize --

MS. CLIFT: He's --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- that they are special in our
relationship with them. We go a long way back, much longer than with China.

Issue Two: Back to Iraq.

One hundred and sixteen Iraqi citizens dead, 300 wounded; bombings and shootings throughout Iraq this week. It was Iraq's deadliest week in two years. Al-Qaida claimed the ongoing horror on radical Islamist websites. Al-Qaida declares it has launched a new jihad against Iraq, vowing to retake areas it once controlled, thus pushing Iraq into civil war.

The attacks hit mostly Sunni-dominated areas with ethnically and religiously mixed populations. And get this -- these attacks have come during the holy month of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, which began last week.

Iraq's bloodshed coincides with an intensified conflict in neighboring Syria. Al-Qaida militants are passing in and out of Syria over the Syria-Iraq border.

Despite the horrific continuing assault on Iraq, al-Qaida is regarded by Iraqi officials as significantly weaker than at its peak in 2006 and 2007. Yet the nation is far from being stable. Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security adviser to President Carter, notes how the horror is multiplying itself.

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI (former national security adviser): (From videotape.) First of all, the daily killings, the struggle between the Shiites and the Sunnis, the increased Iranian influence, the resentments left by 100,000 Iraqi civilians killed -- who is it a model for?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So what's the answer to Dr. Brzezinski's question? Is Iraq a model for anyone, Tim Carney? And you may have to go a little bit into the history of how we got into Iraq and expended -- what we're going to see in a minute -- what we expended there?

MR. CARNEY: Well, the -- Iraq is different from Afghanistan in one direction, but it's also different from the West in another direction. In other words, Afghanistan, we've had a much harder problem building up a state, building up a civil society at all, because there wasn't sort of anything to build on.

Iraq, before we went in and before we did the regime change, there was a regime. There was a society, a civilization. And so we've built something more stable. We haven't been able to keep al- Qaida out, obviously.

But so then we look at future kind of regime changes -- what we do in Libya, what we do in these other countries -- and we think, well, even in Iraq, that had such a history of itself being a nation, we've had trouble building something that's peaceful and stable. Maybe this whole project of nation-building --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.

MR. CARNEY: -- is too risky.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on for one minute. Let's look at the U.S. cost in Iraq, the lives and the dollars in U.S. cost. OK, the U.S. toll in Iraq, blood, sweat and many tears in our U.S. nine-year liberation and defense of Iraq, 2003 to 2011. We have lost 4,485 American soldiers. We have spent almost $850 billion -- that's over three quarters of a trillion dollars -- on Iraq.

So how will history judge the involvement of the United States in Iraq, starting in 2003 and still ongoing, 2012? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think it's the worst strategic blunder in American history, John. Look what's happening. Al-Qaida now is trying to start a civil sectarian war to split the Sunnis in Anbar away from the main country and to get together with the Sunnis in Syria. You could have a Sunni-Shia war from Lebanon, in Syria and Iraq. It's a total disaster, and we ignited it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?

MS. CLIFT: A huge mistake, but you have to accept this is --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you oppose it at the time?

MS. CLIFT: I opposed it from the beginning. I was part of the 7 percent.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So did I and so did he.

MS. CLIFT: Initially. But now we're looking at what's going on in Syria and the fact that the Maliki regime in Iraq is aiding Assad because the Alawites are more closely aligned with the Shiites. You've got the Saudis aiding the rebels because there's Sunni access. And I think there's, you know, great apprehension that what's happening in Syria and the bloodshed in Iraq could spill out into wider sectarian wars, which we have no business being part of.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Paul.

MR. GLASTRIS: Well, what you have is an ongoing civil war in both Iraq and Syria, slow-burning, with al-Qaida at the margins, not actually being a huge force, but willing to use horrendous violence to stir up trouble and make a place for itself.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you recall a famous journalist who once said if you really want to get your ratings up as a politician, you've got to have a war? Do you remember that?

MR. GLASTRIS: I'm not sure who that was.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you remember who wrote that?

MR. GLASTRIS: I don't.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm trying to think of who wrote it. Do you remember who said that?

MS. CLIFT: No.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think it was you, John. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about that? Do you think that --

MR. BUCHANAN: There's no doubt about it, yeah.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You've got to get a war?

MR. BUCHANAN: It was Hemingway.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, it was not Hemingway.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, Hemingway talked about war and inflation are the two solutions they always turn to.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, the name will come to me.

MR. GLASTRIS: I think right now there's a good politics in ending wars.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three: Exposed, Dismissed and Punished.

MR. ROMNEY: (From videotape.) This conduct is contemptible. It betrays our national interest.

It compromises our men and women in the field. And it demands a full and prompt investigation by a special counsel.

What kind of White House would reveal classified material for political gain?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, in a keynote address this week to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, squarely accused the White House of leaking national security data to the media, notably leaks that included data about the U.S.'s involvement in cyberattack on Iran and President Obama's, quote- unquote, "kill list" of terrorists abroad, and details on how the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound was executed. He invoked the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, who had just said this to the World Affairs Council.

SENATOR DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA): (From videotape.) I think the White House has to understand that some of this is coming from its ranks.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Senator Feinstein a day later tried to walk back her remarks. Quote: "I was asked whether the White House might be responsible for recent national security leaks. I stated that I did not believe the president leaked classified information. I shouldn't have speculated beyond that, because the fact of the matter is I don't know the source of the leaks," unquote.

Mr. Romney says it's time to know.

MR. ROMNEY: (From videotape.) Whoever provided classified information to the media seeking political advantage for the administration must be exposed, dismissed and punished. The time for stonewalling is over.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Q: Is Romney exaggerating the danger to U.S. national security caused by these leaks? Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Yes. He's really on thin ice here with these overheated charges. He's essentially saying the president betrayed the country. That's an awfully tough charge to make. There are a lot of people in the Oval Office apparently when -- or in the Situation Room when the president is selecting these targets. I think we knew Lyndon Johnson, when he did much the same thing during the Vietnam era. I don't know that getting this out damages national security.

And then Mitt Romney is in London bragging about how he just met with the British intelligence agency, which wasn't on anybody's public schedule, and it is not something you disclose. So, woo hoo, he just disclosed classified material.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well --

MS. CLIFT: This is a fight that goes on --

MR. BUCHANAN: For me --

MS. CLIFT: -- in Washington a long time --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: She mentioned --

MS. CLIFT: -- and occasionally it's serious. But this time it's not.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: She mentions Lyndon Johnson in this regard, but Lyndon Johnson was very unorthodox. He had a hound dog, and he would lift the dog up bodily by the ears of the dog. Now, what kind of a person does that? I ask you. Do you have something to say on this?

MR. CARNEY: Yes, I do.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Go ahead.

MR. CARNEY: For me, the irony is that Obama has persecuted and prosecuted leakers in his own administration more than any president. In fact, he's used the Espionage Act against domestic leakers more than any other -- all the other presidents combined. He repeatedly goes after guys who leak things that he doesn't find to be helpful. Meanwhile, he's leaking these things that are in his own political interest.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Look, Dianne Feinstein said my heart stopped when I read about the Stuxnet leak. They put this malware into the centrifuges at Natanz. It caused a thousand --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In Iran.

MR. BUCHANAN: In Iran. It caused a thousand of them to self- destruct. It damaged their program. We leaked out -- they leaked out how it got in there, how it got out of there. This is a national security --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It was leaked by the White House.

MR. BUCHANAN: It is a vital weapon. Let me tell you something else.

MS. CLIFT: You don't know that.

MR. BUCHANAN: Barack Obama --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, that's the charge.

MS. CLIFT: No, it isn't.

MR. BUCHANAN: Barack Obama, John -- hold it, Eleanor. Barack Obama or Donilon, they know who leaked this stuff. This is right out of the Situation Room, the kill list.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did Obama authorize the leaking out of the White House?

MR. BUCHANAN: If he didn't, why doesn't he call in Donilon and say, did you do it? And if you didn't, run down in the NSA --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who's Donilon?

MR. BUCHANAN: He's NSA adviser.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Assad of Syria has given autonomy to his Kurdish provinces out there. If he stays with that, the Turks will intervene in Syria.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Richard Carmona, formerly George W. Bush's surgeon general, now running as a Democrat for the U.S. Senate in Arizona, will be a featured speaker at the Democratic Convention, possibly the keynoter.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tim.

MR. CARNEY: Ted Cruz is going to win the runoff in Texas over David Dewhurst to be the next senator. And in the Senate, he will be one of the five most conservatives, along with Jeff Flake of Arizona, Jim DeMint, Mike Lee and Rand Paul.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Paul.

MS. CLIFT: They're not all elected.

MR. GLASTRIS: Everyone will think the upcoming debates in October between the presidential candidates will be absolutely decisive because the race is so short -- or so tight. But it will have no effect on the outcome.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: U.S. economic stagnation, even with new stimulus, will continue through August, September and October, freezing the 44th U.S. president to one term.

Blessed Ramadan. Bye-bye.

END