The McLaughlin Group
Host: John McLaughlin
Pat Buchanan, Author and Columnist;
Eleanor Clift, Newsweek;
Rich Lowry, National Review;
Mort Zuckerman, U.S. News & World Report
Taped: Friday, August 3, 2012
Broadcast: Weekend of August 4-5, 2012
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JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: The Romney Plan.
FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY (R, Republican presidential candidate): (From videotape.) Using our energy resources, making trade work for us, getting kids the skills that they need for the jobs of today and tomorrow, making sure that we balance our budget, and helping small business. We do those five things, you're going to see America come roaring back. We're going to do it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That was Mitt Romney's five-point plan to create jobs. Governor Romney says that he will create 11.5 million new jobs if he's elected president. But President Obama says Governor Romney's stance on extending tax cuts won't help create jobs.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: (From videotape.) They have tried to sell us this trickle-down tax-cut fairy dust before. It didn't work then. It will not work now.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: On Friday, the economic numbers for July were released. Unemployment rose to 8.3 percent from 8.2 percent, with 163,000 new jobs added.
Question: So whose plan will create more jobs and whose plan is, quote-unquote, "fairy dust"? Pat Buchanan.
PAT BUCHANAN: Well, first, John, there were 163,000 new jobs created. One hundred and fifty thousand people left the labor force and disappeared. Forty-five thousand became unemployed. That's why the unemployment rate has gone up. The size of the labor force is diminishing.
Now, Barack Obama's plan, he said it worked. It is not working. There's no question about it, John -- 41, 42 months of 8-plus percent unemployment. He says that Mitt Romney's plan won't work. Now, Mitt Romney's plan, as I understand it, is very close to a plan 30 years ago of Ronald Reagan, which did work, which created something like 20 million new jobs. Now, we don't know if it's going to happen now, but it is a far better bet to bet on him, I think, than to bet on what has been failing for four years.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
ELEANOR CLIFT: Well, if we're going to hearken back decades ago, President Obama's plan is like Bill Clinton's plan, which gave us 24 million jobs and a surplus. And it's not as long ago as President Reagan. And I would point out that the private sector created 172,000 jobs. The markets reacted quite favorably.
I think the White House probably feels like it dodged a bullet. It looks like we don't have an economy that's going into a full stall. These numbers are pretty good, especially when compared to the previous few months.
And what Mitt Romney just talked about, that's not a plan.
Those are platitudes. I mean, he just -- he tosses out we're going to have better schools, we're going to lower regulations, we're going to lower taxes, we're going to increase defense spending, and all is going to be -- the blue skies will arrive. He provides no details.
And all the independent analysts that look at what he's put out so far suggest that if he's going to do all this, he's got to get money from somewhere. And if he's going to give more to the people in the top 2 to 5 percent --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mm-hmm. (Acknowledging.)
MS. CLIFT: -- he's going to take away resources from the middle class. And that's what the campaign battle is going to be about.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Rich.
RICH LOWRY: Well, first of all, Clinton -- let's be honest. Bill Clinton inherited a basic economic consensus from the Reagan years, only tweaked it around the edges. And the deficit -- the mean, nasty Republicans in Congress who actually cut and held the line on spending had a huge amount to do with that.
Now, John, this is a hugely important argument now over the economy, because Mitt Romney cannot just go out there and say economic conditions are inadequate, which is clearly true. He has to make the sale that his plan is better. And this is an attempt finally to do it.
He's talking about the middle class, which is always very important for Republicans. He's honing it down to five key points. And it is basically the Reagan approach, which was proven to have worked in the past. Get these burdens off of the private sector to the extent you can.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.
MORT ZUCKERMAN: Yes, let's add one other thing about Bill Clinton. One of the first things he did when he became president was to --
MS. CLIFT: Raise taxes.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Excuse me a second -- was to reduce the deficit by $500 billion. And part of that was through raising taxes.
MS. CLIFT: That's right.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: In part. And I'm totally in favor of that. However, he also had an extraordinary understanding of macroeconomics. I was working for him at that time. He was a genius in terms of his understanding of the --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Romney.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, I'm talking about Bill Clinton.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Bill Clinton.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: This president, frankly, doesn't know anything about this stuff. It's absolutely amazing. And I can say this from direct personal contact with him. So I think that the programs that he has put forth have definitely not worked. You can say whatever else you want about them, but the unemployment numbers have gotten worse. They're now 40-odd weeks (sic/means months) in which we had more than 8 percent.
And that's not the real number. The real number is if you take people who are only part-time employed -- involuntarily, by the way -- that real number, which is called U-6, is 15 percent, according to -- 15 percent today, four years into a recession, under this presidency.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's this personal contact with Barack Obama?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I was a supporter of his and quite active in his campaign, and indeed in the first few months, almost a year, of his --
MR. BUCHANAN: You're responsible, in other words. (Laughs.)
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I have to take -- I take --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean you visited the White House. You talked to him. You've been part of groups visiting the White House.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, that's right. And they talked to me a lot about it. And none of the programs which I proposed were adopted. Don't get me wrong.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What did those attendees at the Barack Obama sessions from the business community tell you?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, there were mostly businesspeople when I was there.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are they unimpressed by him?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: At this point, I think there is a huge gap between this administration and the business community. There's an old line, OK, that America used to boo the losers. This administration boos the winners.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: They are people -- they are people who are really attacked by them.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK, earlier in the week Romney goes Roman.
MR. ROMNEY: (From videotape.) I believe it's critical to stand by those who have stood by America. Solidarity was a great movement that freed a nation. And it's with solidarity that America and Poland face the future.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mitt Romney's overseas tour took him to London, Israel, and this week to Poland. In Warsaw, he praised Poland's free- enterprise economy as one for the whole of Europe to emulate, citing Poland's opposition to the, quote-unquote, "false promise of a government-dominated economy."
MR. ROMNEY: (From videotape.) At a time of widespread economic slowdown and stagnation, your economy last year outperformed all the other nations of Europe.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Poland's economy expanded 4.3 percent in 2011, one of the fastest in the 27-member European Union. Governor Romney's Poland visit resonates with many U.S. voters, namely the 10 million Polish-Americans living in the U.S., most of whom are Roman Catholic.
Mr. Romney in Warsaw evoked the iconic Pope John Paul II, who visited the U.S. seven times.
MR. ROMNEY: (From videotape.) Here in Poland, in 1979, a son of Poland, Pope John Paul II, spoke words that would bring down an empire and bring freedom to millions who lived in bondage: "Be not afraid." Those words changed the world.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Poland is predominantly Roman Catholic -- 90 percent. Here at home, Roman Catholics constitute 24 percent of the population -- 68 million people. In presidential elections, the candidate, Republican or Democrat, who gets the Catholic vote wins the election; e.g., in 2008 candidate Barack Obama won 54 percent of the Catholic vote, and he's president today.
Question: Will Mitt Romney's trip to Poland and his tribute to Pope John Paul II help him win U.S. Catholic votes? Pat Buchanan.
MR. BUCHANAN: It will, John. But there's been a change since we took all those northern Catholic ethnics, Nixon did, brought them out of the Democratic Party into the new majority coalition, carried 49 states. Now a significant slice of the American Catholic community is Hispanic. If it weren't for Hispanics, we'd be down to about 18 percent of the population.
It will help him, though, here -- Michigan. It will help him in western Pennsylvania and all parts of Pennsylvania. It will help him in Ohio, those swing states. Mainly, though, it's the Irish Catholics, the Italian Catholics, Polish Catholics, German Catholics.
However, they are, frankly, a shrinking, dying share of the Catholic population, where Hispanics are rising. But this will help Mitt significantly. I think his Polish part of his sojourn, I think, was really the best part. It was a tremendous triumph.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will any of this swing over to any Latino voters?
MR. BUCHANAN: I don't know that it goes with Latino voters. I think he's --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, his tribute to Pope John --
MR. BUCHANAN: He's going to lose Latino votes, somewhere between 60 and 70 percent.
MS. CLIFT: If it's going to --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the role of the Catholic voter this election?
MS. CLIFT: Well, first of all, if it's going to do all that Pat just said it's going to do, I think Mitt ought to make weekly trips back to Poland.
MR. LOWRY: Yeah, he should go back. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's wrong with that? (Laughs.)
MS. CLIFT: Nothing, but maybe that's a good idea.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you knocking the Catholic vote?
MS. CLIFT: The president has about a 10-point edge over Romney with U.S. Catholics. And to the extent there's a Catholic vote, it's a cafeteria Catholic vote. And I think if Romney was counting on the controversy over contraception to open up a wedge issue for him to win votes, I think being a woman trumps being a Catholic, frankly. So, I mean, I think this is such a minor event --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?
MS. CLIFT: -- that's barely worth registering.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?
MS. CLIFT: Yes.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?
MR. LOWRY: Well, I hate to say it. You know, it'll help at the margins with Polish-Americans. But you have -- the biggest population is in New York and Illinois, states that aren't available to Romney. Now, Pat mentioned some of the states that Romney --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes. Yes.
MR. LOWRY: -- or swing states that Romney could get. But this is very much at the margins. It was a fantastic speech. It was a great leg of his trip. And the entire trip was devoted to the notion that he -- that these alliances are based not just on shared interests, but on shared values.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think of Romney's technique in bringing up the Catholic pope -- well, obviously Catholic pope -- but Pope John -- (laughter) -- who was Polish --
MR. LOWRY: It would have been a hell of a gaffe if he brought up a Protestant pope. That would have been --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pulling it all together. Isn't that serving it up for Catholics?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, look, this was for Romney sort of his first foreign-policy travel as the nominee, and I think his visit to Poland in particular was the best part of it, and I think it helped him. It helped him with the Catholics. It helped him with the Polish people. But it's not decisive.
You know, I just think it helped him marginally. I agree with Eleanor that it was that. But it was a good step for him. And I might add, the Polish community is really not too happy with Obama anyhow, on two grounds. One is Obama referred to the camps as the Polish death camps --
MR. BUCHANAN: Right.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- when they, in fact, were the Nazi death camps in occupied Poland. And secondly, he canceled the -- transformed, anyhow -- the anti-ballistic missile defense system, which had been promised to Poland. And he argued that this was for economic reasons. And the Polish people are very upset about that.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, incidentally -- I disagree with Eleanor here -- I've never -- I've been to church and had them, from the pulpit, saying they're attacking the church and our right to, you know, form our institutions in our own way. And if they -- and a lot of them, they're much more militant, the Catholics, than they were in any election I can remember.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who did McLaughlin --
MS. CLIFT: They're working it very hard. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who did McLaughlin argue would be the vice presidential candidate chosen by Barack Obama?
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, I don't know that there's --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Chosen by Mitt Romney.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, I don't know that there's any prominent -- I mean, someone who would do really well among the Catholics.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about of Polish extraction --
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, Pawlenty --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- which was denied here on the show, but he is of Polish --
MR. BUCHANAN: Pawlenty is an ex-Catholic who became evangelical.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, he's also of Polish extraction. That's been made very clear since this program. And my pointing that out was questioned, I think, by you and by somebody else --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: This is not my field, John.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's a --
MR. BUCHANAN: Evangelical --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's of Polish extraction.
MR. BUCHANAN: Polish evangelical.
MR. LOWRY: As the Poles go, John.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Two: Cruz'in to Win.
U.S. SENATORIAL CANDIDATE TED CRUZ (R-TX): (From videotape.) Wow. We did it. (Cheers, applause.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Meet U.S. Senate candidate Ted Cruz, Texas Republican; and not just any kind of Republican, but a tea party with a capital "T" Republican. In a runoff election in the GOP Senate primary this week, Cruz beat the so-called establishment candidate, incumbent Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, 57 to 43 percent.
Dewhurst isn't exactly a moderate. He was endorsed by Texas Governor Rick Perry. But Ted Cruz has some friends of his own, notably former Governor and `08 vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
MR. CRUZ: (From videotape.) I am humbled for her incredible support in this campaign.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Cruz is a Princeton University grad, a debating champ, a Harvard Law graduate, and served as solicitor general of Texas, the top lawyer for the state for five years, 2003 to 2008. He's argued nine cases before the United States Supreme Court, and once clerked for Chief Justice William Rehnquist.
Currently Cruz is a partner at a top law firm, Morgan Lewis. His father was from Cuba. At age 41, Cruz has never been elected to public office. So how does Cruz explain his win over David Dewhurst, the incumbent lieutenant governor, a wealthy businessman who spent $19 million of his own money on this race?
MR. CRUZ: (From videotape.) Look, everyone who has a vested interest in the status quo, in business as usual, in spending and spending and spending, wants to stop anyone who wants to stop that gravy train. But I think the American people are looking for leaders that aren't going to Washington to suddenly be popular at the cocktail parties. They're looking for leaders to go to Washington and to be public servants.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This November, Cruz must still face the Democrat in the race, Paul Sadler, for the seat being vacated by the outgoing Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison.
Question: What does Ted Cruz's victory say about the tea party movement and its influence on the Republican Party? Rich Lowry.
MR. LOWRY: John, it says the most important and powerful force in the Republican Party right now is the tea party combined with a genuinely impressive candidate. We had the tea party victory in the Indiana Senate race a little while ago, but that was almost entirely a rejection of the incumbent, Dick Lugar, rather than an endorsement of the challenger.
This was all about Ted Cruz, who had to overcome major deficits. He had no electoral experience when he started, no name ID, running against a figure embedded in the Texas establishment with tons of his own money to spend. And Ted Cruz overcame that because of the tea party and because of his ability to articulate and stand for its ideals.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it clear what he's earning his living from doing now, practicing law?
MR. BUCHANAN: John, this is a --
MR. LOWRY: Solicitor general.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, this is --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Solicitor general.
MR. LOWRY: And a lawyer. And he is a brilliant guy. He'll be a major addition.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What law firm did he work with?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Morgan Lewis & Bockius.
MR. BUCHANAN: But John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Bockius is no longer there. Morgan & Lewis.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes.
MR. BUCHANAN: Right. John, this is a --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Correct?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: A major firm.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Major firm.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Absolutely. First-rate.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Ivy?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Some of them are.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, this is a first-round draft pick.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: But I don't know --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is Fred Fielding -- is he a member of that firm, Fred Fielding?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: They're principally out of Philadelphia, actually.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's where their main office is.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, this is --
MS. CLIFT: Well, he argued --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Go ahead.
MS. CLIFT: -- the gun case, the case before the Supreme Court that overturned the gun laws in the District of Columbia. He's got an impressive resume. And what I would hope is that he represents maybe a maturing of the tea party movement; that if he gets elected, which he most probably win, that he will come to Washington and not just want to be a bomb thrower, that he will work to be a legitimate legislator.
I mean, the guy is brilliant. He's got a terrific resume. He's got a nice presentation. He's low-key and he's graceful. I mean, it's the whole package. But is he going to be so right wing that he's --
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MS. CLIFT: -- discredited in Washington?
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute. Are you softening on the tea party movement? It sounds a little like it, Eleanor.
MR. LOWRY: (Laughs.)
MS. CLIFT: I'm hoping that he can turn the tea party into something more than --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, so you think it's salvageable, the tea party movement.
MS. CLIFT: I hope it is.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You hope it is.
MR. LOWRY: (Laughs.)
MR. BUCHANAN: He's got the whole package, John. He's really got -- I mean, we've got a fighting populist from Harvard Yard. It's really tough to beat that. Here is someone, I really think, given his credentials -- given his credentials -- I disagree with Eleanor -- he should take the leadership, really, of the conservative populist wing of the Republican Party, because he's got the establishment credentials. This guy could really go places, depending on how he handles himself. But if he came up here and sells out, basically, to the establishment in D.C., it'd be the worst thing he could do.
MR. LOWRY: Yeah, whatever you do, you shouldn't get Eleanor's approval.
MR. BUCHANAN: Don't listen to Eleanor. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You saw this guy on the screen. Do you think he's got the fire in the belly?
MR. BUCHANAN: Look, he's got the tickets and he -- look where he came from -- nowhere.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think there's any fire in the belly, Pat?
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, he's got a pleasant personality, which is not a bad thing, John, unlike you and me. (Laughs.)
MS. CLIFT: He presents the political force of Latinos and Hispanics coming into the Congress.
MR. BUCHANAN: He's got it all, doesn't he, Eleanor?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does he have it all, Mort?
MS. CLIFT: What you've been fighting against, in many ways, Pat.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Look, this is the kind of political talent you don't have very often in American politics. He came out of nowhere in one sense. And he has demonstrated the ability to beat, as Pat was saying before, the logical candidate, in political terms.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We've given him his marching orders. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three: Bill Back in the Act.
Bill Clinton, that is. Former U.S. President Clinton served two terms, 1993 to 2000. Now get this. Bill Clinton has been tapped by Barack Obama to nominate Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention four and a half weeks from now in Charlotte, North Carolina.
President Clinton delivers the primetime address September 5, one night before President Obama himself takes the stage to accept his party nomination for a second presidential term.
Now, the nominating address at party conventions is a role usually reserved for the vice president. Instead, this year Vice President Joe Biden will speak the same night as President Obama, immediately preceding the Obama acceptance speech.
So why Bill Clinton at all? Answer: Because Bill Clinton is popular. Sixty-six percent, a consensus of Americans, think highly of Bill Clinton. Democrats apparently believe that Clinton's nomination of Obama will remind them of what they enjoyed during Clinton's presidency -- relative peace and prosperity.
Clinton also has a special rapport with white, moderate, blue- collar voters, a demographic that Clinton himself hails from, and one that Mr. Obama has -- what shall we say? -- underemphasized.
Let me get this straight now. Obama's going to ride on Clinton's coattails into a second term. Is that right?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, that's not right.
MS. CLIFT: He's is running --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's not going to happen, John.
MS. CLIFT: He is running --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that what we're talking about here?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's what you're saying.
MS. CLIFT: He's running on the Clinton economic approach. And people have --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, he is not.
MS. CLIFT: Excuse me. And people have fond memories of progressive taxation during that period --
MR. LOWRY: (Laughs.)
MS. CLIFT: -- which gave us a surplus and 24 million jobs. At the White House, they consider Bill Clinton a force multiplier. He underscores the choice between the voters -- between the Romney approach and the Obama-Clinton approach on the economy.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: No --
MS. CLIFT: He's --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let Mort in here.
You're in pain. What are you in pain about?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, as I say, I --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: My characterization of what's going on?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- I worked with Bill Clinton for the better part of three years. He knows and does understand the macroeconomy and the economy in terms that this administration doesn't even come close to. He never would have gone ahead with the programs, in my judgment, that this administration did at the time he did it.
Now, do I think that this is going to sort of just rub off on Obama? A little bit. It's not going to be decisive, in my judgment.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, what kind of treatment is it of Joe Biden?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, let me just tell you what the treatment is. The treatment is they're going to do whatever they think is going to help him win. And if that's what they think will help him win, which I'm sure they do, that's what they're going to do.
MR. BUCHANAN: Clinton --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about the unconventional aspects of this?
MR. BUCHANAN: Clinton wants to extend the Bush tax cut. Clinton is perceived as a centrist moderate. He's a guy that can maybe inspire the people Obama can't get.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You've got five seconds, Rich.
MR. LOWRY: It'll be a misleading, demagogic, and highly effective speech.
MS. CLIFT: And Democrats will love it. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Demagogic. You mean demagogic. (Changes pronunciation.)
Issue Four: Remembering Gore.
The McLaughlin Group remembers Gore Vidal, who passed away this week. Vidal was a prolific author and intellectual who was unafraid of a fight. He had this exchange with William F. Buckley live on television during the 1968 Democratic National Convention.
(Begin videotaped segment.)
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY: (Inaudible.)
GORE VIDAL: The only crypto-Nazi I can think of is yourself. (Inaudible) -- I would only say that we can't have --
MR. BUCKLEY: Now, listen, you queer. Stop calling me a crypto- Nazi --
MR. VIDAL: Let's stop calling names.
MR. BUCKLEY: -- or I'll (stomp ?) you in the goddamn face, and you'll stay plastered.
(End videotaped segment.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Rich, you worked with Bill Buckley at the National Review. Did Bill Buckley ever talk about this exchange with Gore Vidal?
MR. LOWRY: He didn't address Gore Vidal publicly, I think, since the early 1970s. And even in private, he didn't like to talk about it. People would bring it up as though this was one of his finest moments, but it pained him, because he, this great, eloquent wit, had lost his cool. And I don't think he liked being reminded of that. But he did not -- and he also made it clear that he didn't have particularly a high regard for Mr. Vidal.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, it was pretty -- (inaudible). He called him a crypto-Nazi.
MR. BUCHANAN: Later --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right?
MR. BUCHANAN: Later there was an exchange in magazines, and Buckley went after Vidal, but Vidal was just savage going back into the background of Buckley's family, as I recall. It was really a brutal, over-the-top piece. And as I recollect it, that was -- really terminated any kind of relationship.
Vidal was a tremendously gifted writer. But John, in those days he was -- excuse me -- very flamboyant as a homosexual, given the books he wrote, "The Pillar," "Myra Breckinridge," and everything like that. Bobby Kennedy is supposed to have almost gotten in a fistfight with him when he asked the first lady to dance.
You know, he grew up in this area right down the street from me at Marywood, where Jackie Kennedy drew up. But he was an enormously talented guy; there's no doubt about it. And he -- in this sense, he was courageous, in my view. He was a devoted antiwar sort of America- first guy. He was very gracious to me when I was running in those campaigns. And he's an American talent. It's undeniable. I mean, controversial, yep.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The book was "The City and the Pillar."
Do you want to say something about him?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: No. I mean, I knew him very slightly, and I agree with what Pat said. He was a dazzling intellect and a dazzling conversationalist in every exchange that I had or witnessed. So he was a very special man in terms of what he was able to contribute to the American public dialogue. And he'll be missed.
MS. CLIFT: He was a magnificent writer. And I must say, watching that little clip, it's hard to understand. They talked over each other, just like we do here on the Group.
MR. LOWRY: Not that that ever happens, yeah.
MR. BUCHANAN: A couple of words you could pick up, Eleanor. (Laughs.
MS. CLIFT: A couple of words here and there I got.
MR. LOWRY: I thought I heard Gore Vidal say don't interrupt me. I'm not sure.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Vidal called Buckley a crypto-Nazi. Buckley called Vidal a queer, right?
MR. BUCHANAN: He said he was going to -- a queer, and he was going to plaster --
MS. CLIFT: Yes.
MR. BUCHANAN: -- his head against that wall, and it'll stay plastered. (Laughs.)
MS. CLIFT: But they didn't exchange body blows. It was all verbal. And we can relate to that, can't we?
MR. BUCHANAN: Afterwards, John -- afterwards, John, in the room afterwards, they were taking the makeup off. Vidal said, well, we certainly gave them their money's worth, didn't we? (Laughs.) And he was right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Not bad.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Inaudible.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did that --
MR. BUCHANAN: Buckley was steaming.
MR. LOWRY: Gore Vidal, he never let it go. And when Bill died, he wrote this savage obituary -- libelous, scandalous obituary. And I think it speaks well of Bill -- obviously I'm biased -- that he did not carry on this contention, and Gore Vidal did to the very end.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about the role of Richard Nixon in the life of Gore Vidal?
MR. BUCHANAN: Gore Vidal was much -- well, he was really against -- I mean, really savaged --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did he engage Nixon in a conversation on television?
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, you engaged -- you were on television with Gore Vidal, if you recall, John. And I recall a comment. He drilled you, and you were dead -- your jaw was gaping. It hung wide open as he --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was I --
MR. BUCHANAN: He compared you to Cardinal Wolsey, who had sold out his church.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute, now. What's this again?
MR. BUCHANAN: He compared you to Cardinal Wolsey, who sold out his God for his king.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There you go.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Our thoughts and prayers are with Gore Vidal's family and loved ones. May he rest in peace.
MR. BUCHANAN: With this blazing Chick-fil-A controversy, the Democratic Party putting homosexual marriage for the first time into its platform, homosexual marriage will be the culture-war issue of the fall.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wow.
MS. CLIFT: We call it same-sex marriage, Pat.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.
MS. CLIFT: Welcome to the 21st century.
MR. BUCHANAN: Call it what you like.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.
MS. CLIFT: Sarah Palin is five for five in her Senate picks in this primary season. She will be a force at the Republican Convention, whether she does it from the floor or from the parking lot.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Rich.
MR. LOWRY: Despite the heartening support for Chick-fil-A -- we've seen hundreds of thousands of people flocking to their restaurants -- private-sector and government bullying of opponents of gay marriage is the wave of the future.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: The inability of young people to get jobs has produced the lowest birthrate in this country in 25 years, and this is going to continue for a number of years until this economy turns around.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Obama administration pumped millions of taxpayer dollars into Solyndra, the solar-panel manufacturing firm. At the time, the White House knew it would be cheaper to allow Solyndra to go bust, according to a new congressional report. I predict that this will become damaging to Barack Obama's reelection.