The McLaughlin Group

Host: John McLaughlin

Pat Buchanan, Author and Columnist;
Eleanor Clift, Newsweek;
Mort Zuckerman, U.S. News & World Report;
Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune

Broadcast: Weekend of August 25-26, 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 or call 1-202-347-1400.

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Arriba Mexico.

MEXICAN PRESIDENT-ELECT ENRIQUE PENA NIETO: (From videotape, through interpreter.) What the Mexican state needs to do first is to focus its strategy, to have a better police force, a larger police force. We need to specialize these security forces to fight the crimes that generate the most violence -- homicide, extortion and kidnapping.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Meet Mexico's new president, Enrique Pena Nieto. He will be sworn in as president this December.
Nieto is 45 years of age and was the endorsed candidate of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, the famous and the infamous PRI. The PRI was in power for 70 years until 2000, 12 years ago, and has resurrected itself through Nieto's presidential win.

Mexico is a republic with 31 individual states, very much in the pattern of the United States of America. One of those states is itself called the state of Mexico. It is not to be confused with the nation of Mexico, a republic. Nieto has been governor of the state of Mexico for the last six years, 2005 to 2011. Nieto is married to a soap opera actress. She's a full-blooded Mexican and is well-known.
He will soon be the president of the Republic of Mexico. He was opposed by Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who ran against Nieto in the just-completed Mexican election. He came in second. Obrador was the endorsed candidate from the Democratic Revolution Party, PRD. Obrador says Nieto's win was bought. Nieto's party is the PRI and has a long history of election fraud.

Bought or unbought, Nieto won the election with 38 percent, beating Obrador by seven points with 31 percent. Obrador filed his challenge with Mexico's federal tribunal that is now investigating what Nieto did by the election. The tribunal says it will either ratify or reverse the election by September the 6th.

Question: What's the good news coming out of Mexico today? You can also predict who's going to win the election, but I don't want to talk about that. I want to talk about the good news coming out of Mexico.

PAT BUCHANAN: Well, you know, John, there's a famous old saying about poor Mexico, so far from God and so near to the United States. But the truth is, the fact that Mexico is near to the United States is one of the reasons, primary reasons, that Mexico, if you set aside -- and you can't really set aside that horrible drug war with all those cartels and the Zetas and the others -- that Mexico is really coming along as a major state. Some people are predicting that it could overtake Brazil. I think they've got a per capita income a third that of the Americans.
There are a number of reasons for this. One of them is NAFTA, frankly. A lot of our factories went down there. A lot of their products --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Building cars.

MR. BUCHANAN: Also you've got the remittances from the Mexican workers in the United States; all of these things. And there really is a success story about Mexico. And we don't read about it, because what we're reading about is people shooting each other on the international bridge at Juarez.


ELEANOR CLIFT: Well, they've discovered oil in recent years. That helps. And secondly, you're right about American jobs that have moved south of the border. And the middle class in Mexico is really coming along quite nicely. And then you have -- the recession in the U.S. has kind of stopped the immigration flow. In fact, more Mexicans are going back to their home state, home country, because conditions are better there.

But, I'm sorry, I can't really talk about Mexico without getting into the drug war. In the last dozen years, since the PRI has been out of office -- and I don't think it has anything to do with or without the PRI -- but 50,000 people have been killed as a result of these drug wars, many of them brutally tortured before they were killed.

I mean, that's the equivalent of numerous 9/11s. And what that has done to the psyche of the people there -- and they are yearning now for law and order. But the drug cartels are so powerful. They basically have slaughtered justices. They've intimidated a lot of journalists and police. And I wish this gentleman well. I hope he can -- he says he's going to fight the drug war differently.

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

MS. CLIFT: He hasn't quite said how.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it causing any drug production or use in the United States?

MS. CLIFT: Well, in Mexico they look north and they say the problem -- it's our problem. The drugs are being bought with American money, and the drug wars are being fought with American guns. And, you know, frankly, they're right. We bear a lot of blame for what's going on there. And we -- it's not an overt policy, but if the same thing happens over and over and you look the other way, then policies have something to do with it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are they moving cocaine into the United States, quite far north in the United States?

MS. CLIFT: Yes. Yes. We should be legalizing drugs and taxing them.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're talking cocaine?

MS. CLIFT: That would be -- I'm talking heroin, marijuana, whatever the drug store is that comes out of Mexico. And because Colombia -- we've had success there. Basically Colombia, the drug war has been contained.

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

MS. CLIFT: Now Mexico is the alternative, and they really are the hot spot when it comes to this.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me turn this ahead and then go to you, Mort.

OK, Mexico's issue number one. Pena Nieto, if sworn in as president of Mexico, will inherit the brutal drug war that has claimed over 50,000 dead. For Mexican voters, their biggest issue is Mexico's ongoing violence that saw an 11 percent increase in deaths this year alone.

Pena Nieto's answer, quote-unquote: "Strategy adjustment," meaning instead of focusing solely on big cartel bosses, expand the current policy.

Mr. Nieto's new plan still involves the military, but adding to it, a 40,000-member force controlled by civilian authorities, aka the gendarmerie. They will fight the violence with the military.

Mexican violence is so horrific that the El Manana newspaper, located in Nuevo Laredo in northern Mexico, publicly announced it would stop covering violent crime. Why? Two grenade attacks on its offices in the last two months. Nuevo Laredo is the battleground for the notorious Zetas drug cartel.

Question: Why are the cartels targeting journalists?

MORT ZUCKERMAN: Well, because they don't want to be exposed in any way and they don't want to have the pressure of the journalists on the public authorities to do something about the cartels and about the crime. So they're basically -- these cartels are really an enormous force in that country and --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, but the cartel leaders don't want their pictures in the paper.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, that too, but they also -- what they want to do is they want to intimidate everybody. By the way, they're well on their way to doing that. The cartels are so powerful in such large parts of Mexico that you really have to wonder about the viability of that state.
That's why he was elected. This was something that I think was a clear statement that they want to do something about it. And it is terrifying large swaths of the American -- of the Mexican public. And, needless to say, it has grave consequences for us, because they are the principal suppliers of the drug trade to the United States.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know the mayor of New York quite well.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Has the mayor of New York talked to you about Mexico at all in connection with drug usage in New York City --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No. I mean, he --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- or availability?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Look, it is a big problem in almost every American city. Where it comes from, Mexico is only part of the answer. Colombia is another part of the answer. But it is a huge, huge problem with that country because they do not have an effective public authority to combat it. The corruption is unbelievable. The arms that they have are unbelievable.

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

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The violence is unbelievable. And they haven't yet found the answer.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's take a look at Mexico's geography. Try this.

Size: Three times the size of Texas, 4,350 square miles. Neighbors: The United States and Guatemala. Population: 113 million versus the U.S., 312 million. Independence: 1810, about 80 years before us. Government: Federal republic. Gross domestic product per capita: $15,100 versus U.S., $47,000. Inflation: 4 percent versus the United States, 1 percent. Unemployment: 5 percent versus the U.S., 8.2 percent. Literacy rate: 86 percent Spanish versus U.S., 99 percent English.

Question: How many of America's 312 million population are actually Mexican citizens? Do you happen to know that?

CLARENCE PAGE: No, I don't. What is that number, John?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I have no idea.

MR. PAGE: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you know?


MS. CLIFT: Pat knows.

MR. BUCHANAN: I'll tell you. I would -- first there's -- who are Mexican citizens, there's 12 million illegal aliens in the country. Probably two thirds of those are from Mexico, so they would be Mexican citizens. However, there are some Mexican citizens here who are legally, who are trying to become Americans. So I would put it at about 12 million.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Twelve million?


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I would put it at between 8 (million) and 10 (million). How's that?

MR. BUCHANAN: I think you're --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I said I didn't know.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think I'm a little short.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I didn't know, but I -- and I don't know.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think I'm a little short, because we've got something like 40 million immigrants in the country, but many of them become citizens -- have become citizens, John.

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

MR. PAGE: May I say something about the drug trafficking? Because this drug war really got started, ironically, when President Calderon cracked down on drugs, and --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He is currently --

MR. PAGE: He's the past president.

MS. CLIFT: He's the past president.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, wait a minute, now. Has Nieto -- Nieto has taken over?

MR. PAGE: Nieto's coming in, yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's coming in.

MR. BUCHANAN: December.

MR. PAGE: Different party.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Calderon is still in there --

MS. CLIFT: Current president.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- for a couple more -- one more month.

MR. BUCHANAN: Till December.

MR. PAGE: Right, OK.

MR. BUCHANAN: December.

MR. PAGE: OK, right. But the irony of it is that by taking out some of the gangs, they just opened up turf for other gangs to fight over, and it's just moved from city to city over these -- what, since around 2005. And you've got complete instability at a time when Mexico is having economic growth.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Refresh me on Barack Obama's meeting with Calderon.

And wasn't that an extraordinarily cordial meeting?

MR. BUCHANAN: You know, it was. It was a meeting at the White House, as a matter of fact. Some of my friends were deeply apprehensive about it.


MR. BUCHANAN: Well, there's a real feeling, John, that, look, the Mexicans look upon the United States, much of it -- Texas, for example -- as their lost territories. Fifty-seven percent of Mexicans --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Louisiana Purchase?

MR. BUCHANAN: No, the American Southwest in the Mexican war. We took the whole thing from Mexico. Many of them believe that's their natural home and that they have the right to come here. And this is one -- quite frankly, I think it's going to be a real problem down the road.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the area? What's the percentage of real estate we're talking about?

MR. BUCHANAN: James K. Polk, John, took -- he secured Texas. We already had it all the way to the Rio Grande; the entire American Southwest, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada. And we took California as well. And then we bought the Gadsden Purchase --

MS. CLIFT: Pat, they're not --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is this --

MR. BUCHANAN: -- eight years later.

MS. CLIFT: They're not coming --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute.

MS. CLIFT: They're not coming to take our territory. In fact, these two economies are really intertwined. I mean, they're dependent on us for tourism, for trade. And frankly, you know, it's really nice to have a friendly country --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We manufacture American --

MS. CLIFT: -- on our border.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- cars down there. We do their -- they're putting cars together down there.

MR. PAGE: Yeah, the Maquiladora.

MR. BUCHANAN: They assemble them.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, the Maquiladora. That's the border area on both sides, correct?

MR. PAGE: That's right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Some of that is very rough territory, particularly outside El Paso. You cross that bridge. I mean, they're really rough over there.

MS. CLIFT: Well --

MR. BUCHANAN: But, John, that's -- you've got the big point there. Look, until this narcotics problem is solved, Mexico is a state in danger of becoming a failed state.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think we're putting sufficient screws on Mexico to clear up the border --

MR. BUCHANAN: Look, I mean, I agree with Eleanor on this. The problem here --

MR. PAGE: I think we need to --

MR. BUCHANAN: -- is the demand --

MR. PAGE: -- (inaudible).

MR. BUCHANAN: -- the demand in the United States for narcotics.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, I'm talking about something more than that. I'm talking more than diplomatic courtesy.

MR. PAGE: No, no. I mean military. We need to work together with them, which we are doing. And this new president has promised --


MR. PAGE: As part of his rearrangement, he wants to have a close relationship --


MR. PAGE: -- with our military. But that's very problematic. Just as Pat's afraid of Mexicans coming up here, they're afraid of too many of us coming down there --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Correct me on this --

MR. PAGE: -- especially military.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Correct me on this, anybody. But another point is that the Mexicans that used to come into this country, particularly in Arizona, they've slowed down to a trickle. And, in fact, there are Mexicans --

MR. PAGE: (Inaudible.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- who are going back to Mexico.

MR. PAGE: Economically -- that's always true of immigration. People go where the jobs are. Right now this is where the jobs are not.

MR. BUCHANAN: The problem is here, John --

MR. PAGE: So many are going back.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- what's different with the old immigration is we've got this massive welfare state and folks simply coming into the country who qualify for all manner of programs. That's why they stay, and that's the benefits they receive.

MS. CLIFT: Actually -- actually --


MR. BUCHANAN: And that's why they're not going back.

(Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's when things were bad at home, but now things are good at home. Don't you understand, home being Mexico?

MR. BUCHANAN: It's not as good as it is in the good old USA.

MS. CLIFT: Actually, a lot of them are paying taxes and not getting any money back, and they're not the big drain on this huge social welfare state, Pat.

MR. PAGE: That's --

(Cross talk.)

MR. BUCHANAN: Why do you think the country, our country, is bankrupt?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think the future is brighter for Mexico --

MR. PAGE: Don't blame the Mexicans for that, Pat. We bankrupted ourselves.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to know whether the future from Mexico looks brighter than the future in the United States.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, it doesn't.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How's that?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: John, not even close.


MR. ZUCKERMAN: It does not.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Not even close?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Not even close.


MR. ZUCKERMAN: Look, they have tremendous problems in that country of education. They have a hugely corrupt government now. They're --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Filth ?)?


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Ghettos ?)?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: They're beset -- well, he'll change it. That's one of the reasons why he was elected. They're beset by this whole issue of drugs.

MR. BUCHANAN: What Mort is saying, John, is they're even worse off than we are.


MR. PAGE: The fact is, we are --

MS. CLIFT: Everybody's doing just fine. (Laughs.)

MR. PAGE: We are intertwined, though.

MS. CLIFT: Right. We are intertwined.

MR. PAGE: As far as that corruption problem --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you can ride that -- the audience should ride that cloud of optimism wherever it will lead you.

Issue Two: Saint Hillary.

SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON: (From videotape.) It's particularly urgent that we highlight religious freedom, because when we consider the global picture and ask whether religious freedom is expanding or shrinking, the answer is sobering. More than a billion people live under governments that systematically suppress religious freedom.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Religious freedom country by country is routinely monitored by the State Department. The department sees freedom to worship as a fundamental human right. Sociologists and psychologists tell us that religious freedom is linked to economic development, tolerance, social cohesion, democracy.

The secretary adds that some governments are not protecting their religious minorities. Some governments pass repressive laws against them -- lashing, prison, even execution. And religious extremists themselves worldwide threaten social stability.

The State Department currently identifies eight countries of particular concern. Alphabetically they are Burma, also called Myanmar, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Uzbekistan.

Secretary Clinton takes note that the Middle East, with its newly formed governments spawned by the Arab spring, may empower Islamist extremists. Egypt's new president, Mohamed Morsi, has assured Mrs. Clinton that, quote-unquote, he intends to be "the president of all Egyptians," unquote, Christians and Muslims, with on favoritism.

SEC. CLINTON: (From videotape.) The Egyptian people will look to their elected leaders to protect the rights of all citizens and to govern in a fair and inclusive manner. And so will we.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question, true or false. The secretary of state says, in effect, when it comes to freedom of religion, the world is sliding backwards. Is she correct in that?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, it certainly is true in some parts of the world. I mean, it's certainly true in the Arab world, in the Muslim world. We see what's happened in Egypt. It's not just in Egypt. It's a part of that whole array of countries. But Egypt is one of the great countries and one that has now really fallen under the sway of the Muslim Brotherhood. And nobody knows where that's going to go. They were able to replace the senior leaders of the military. It's an example of a level of power and political sophistication that we're going to find is going to be a real problem for us as we go forward.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it true that the Syrian Catholic and Orthodox leaders have sided with Assad --

MR. BUCHANAN: Mm-hmm. (Affirmative response.)


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and they are -- and there is worry that they may be executed --


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- if Sadat -- if Assad falls?

MR. BUCHANAN: They sided -- the Copts sided with Mubarak --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The Copts --

MR. BUCHANAN: -- also, John.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The Copts were --

MR. BUCHANAN: The problem here is what you have is a great Muslim awakening all across that world. Some 48 countries have a Muslim majority or a huge Muslim minority in there. And it's the Sunnis, I think, who are on the move, and you've got a great conflict. Seventeen million Christians --

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

MR. BUCHANAN: -- between Egypt or Iran and Afghanistan, all of them are in danger, John. Intolerance is the mark of a rising faith.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How many --

MS. CLIFT: First --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How many weeks are we from the presidential election?

MR. BUCHANAN: Of the United States?


MR. BUCHANAN: You've got about 12 weeks till the presidential election.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think any of this is connected with the presidential election if, in fact, there is a Syrian massacre of Copts, et cetera? C-O-P-T-S.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, there's a -- well, if there's a Syrian massacre, it will not be the regime. It will be by the fighters over there.

I don't think that will happen before November at all.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, because we have been slow, if that's the right word --

MR. BUCHANAN: The Syrian dictator --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- judiciously slow, some would say, in assisting --

MR. BUCHANAN: John, the --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- the so-called reformers --

MR. BUCHANAN: John, the Syrian --

MS. CLIFT: I don't think there's --

(Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute.

MR. BUCHANAN: The Syrian dictator is protecting --

MR. PAGE: You sound like -- (inaudible) -- so-called (shots ?) over there.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- is protecting the Christians and he's protecting the Kurds and the other minorities, who are terrified of a Sunni regime.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah. What's happening in Syria is not only about protecting Christians. There are all sorts of people involved. And I think the president is wise not to be committing U.S. troops on the ground, certainly, and more direct resources. And I don't think there's any clamor for that.

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

MS. CLIFT: I'm not as negative about Egypt. I think the new president, Morsi, has resigned from the Muslim Brotherhood. He's saying all the right things.

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

MS. CLIFT: The Christians were persecuted, I believe, under Mubarak. I don't think there's anything -- anything worse that is happening. I'm not saying it's all wonderful, but I think they're making --

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

MS. CLIFT: -- some attempts to be more inclusive. And, you know, we're still fighting about separation of church and state in this country.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, this --

MS. CLIFT: And we've been at it for 200 years.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's get some clarity on that.

MS. CLIFT: So let's give them a little --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK, the U.S. Constitution in the 1st Amendment says this about religious freedom. Quote: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press or of the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for redress of grievances," unquote.

Question: Is the U.S. model a model for the world, or can a state have an official religion and still promote religious tolerance? I ask you.

MR. PAGE: Well, we saw in Iraq how difficult it is to try to impose our constitutional system on another culture that's not ready for it. And that -- and, believe me, it would be even more of a problem with a lot of other countries. But, I mean, that's certainly our American ideal, and it's something that more cosmopolitan members of the Islamic world community are leaning toward.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does any --

MR. PAGE: I think there's a lot of diversity.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does anybody disagree with any of the propositions of the amendment to the Constitution that I just read?


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You take exception to it?

MR. BUCHANAN: The Constitution of the United States is not for export, John. It's for the Americans. It came out of a particular time.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, are you OK with it as it stands now for the American people?

MR. BUCHANAN: I think I'm OK with it now, John. But --

MR. PAGE: For the American people? Yeah. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you want to tighten it up any?

MR. BUCHANAN: You can't apply that to other countries, John.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but --

MR. BUCHANAN: Look at England of Henry VIII and the Spain of Torquemada.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute, now.

MR. BUCHANAN: They didn't have official religions.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How many wives did Henry actually --

MR. BUCHANAN: It's not the wives.

MR. PAGE: Six.

MR. BUCHANAN: It's what happened to the Catholics over there.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, how many did he kill?

MR. BUCHANAN: He had six wives --

MR. PAGE: (Inaudible.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Catherine of Aragon. Who else?

MR. BUCHANAN: He didn't kill Catherine of Aragon. He killed Boleyn, Anne Boleyn.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Anne Boleyn. Who else? Give me the other two.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think Jane Seymour might have gone.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was there a third?

MR. BUCHANAN: There's one more, and that --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the name?

MR. BUCHANAN: I can't remember. I think one of them outlived him. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Buchanan, you always come up short.

Issue Three: Batman the Capitalist.

The latest Batman movie is still going strong, despite dropping from its number one position. Now it's number three.

The movie has already grossed more than $389 million and arguably is today's main American cultural icon.
Batman stands for order, justice and honor. And yet there may be another attribute. Batman is a capitalist, the savior of the free market. "The Dark Knight Rises" takes place in Gotham City, and Gotham City is a portrayal of the world at large, the real world.

The ultra-wealthy playboy Batman is pitted against the movie's villain, Bane, who is a self-identified radical. Bane stages a popular uprising against the city's stock market and against the investment class. Mob violence and chaos result -- what Batman must battle.

The movie is a bold apologia for free-market capitalism, confronting tyranny and violence of radical leftists, whether those of the French Revolution or those of Occupy Wall Street.

Question: Is "The Dark Knight Rises" a social commentary on our times? And, if so, what does that documentary tell us? Mort Zuckerman.

MS. CLIFT: It's not a documentary.


MS. CLIFT: It's Hollywood.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Reductively a documentary.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I know it's not a documentary. (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: All right. I was going to say -- (laughs) --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A true (rip ?) of reality. (Laughter.)

MS. CLIFT: All right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can you speak to -- she thinks --
(laughter) -- (inaudible) -- outside the studio.
Go ahead.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Let me put it this way. The Hollywood movie industry is interested in large box office. The gross is the be-all and the end-all of that community. This kind of a story has a much better appeal than coming out in favor of, you know, whatever. So this is the temper of our times. There is a great deal of hostility to, quote-unquote, "the 1 percent" or the people who've done well. And this movie takes --

MR. BUCHANAN: You know, John --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- that into account.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- conflict is the essence of drama, and drama is what gets people in. And one of the great dramas is sort of the wild populist on one side and the defender of capitalism on the other. And, of course, most of the great -- a lot of the great movies by leftists, however, have been on the other side of that; the average individual rising up against, you know, intolerance, wealth and all the rest of it. This is one for our team, John, yours and mine. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Sociologically speaking, this is what I see on this card. We saw it during the Great Depression -- the rise of authoritarian political movements of left and right, the great isms -- communism, fascism. Anyone who thinks ideology is a so 20th century and is so passe may have a nasty awakening.

MR. PAGE: You know what else arose during the Great Depression? Superman, the iconic figure of the larger-than-life individual who's able to go out there and bend steel with his bare hands; do anything, in other words. I think that this current Batman -- and this is a reiteration of the Batman we've known in the past -- as well as Bane, which goes back to the early `90s -- he was a businessman, formerly played by Arnold Schwarzenegger -- but anyway, it was a different version of him in an earlier Batman movie.
But I think, in the wake of the whole Occupy Wall Street and all, the writers -- and this movie said, well, look, Bruce Wayne has always been a 1 percenter. He's always been, you know, the super-wealthy guy. But he can't be bad. So there's a conflict here going on. And so what you see is --

MR. BUCHANAN: So you have to have -- you have to have --
(inaudible) -- villain.

MR. PAGE: -- Anne Hathaway plays a Catwoman who is part of the 99 percent, and she resents Bruce Wayne until toward the end of the movie. And I don't want to give away the ending, John, but I think that it really makes capitalism look good in the end. It becomes an apologia for the whole --

MS. CLIFT: Well, Bruce Wayne, who is Batman's alter ego and is the rich person here who has this good side where he's fighting evil --

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

MS. CLIFT: -- I guess you could, if you really were inclined, think of him as Mitt Romney.


MS. CLIFT: But I must say, I watched the film and it never occurred to me at any moment that it was a defense of capitalism.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, well, we can get the --

MS. CLIFT: In fact --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We can get the definitive answer from Mort Zuckerman over here.

Is this like a warm bath to you, to see this movie --

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- in view of the fact that you are --


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- an arch-capitalist? And I say that with admiration.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: In the sense that being on this show is like taking a cold shower, yes, that's a warm bath.


MR. ZUCKERMAN: But that's as far as I would go.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Pat, be quick.

MR. BUCHANAN: With the U.N. having pulled out basically of Syria, I think the Syrian civil war is going to go on. It's going to spread into Lebanon. And I think one of the next targets of the militants will be our friend in Jordan.


MS. CLIFT: By the time voters go to the polls in November, they'll be saying praise the lord about "Obamacare."


MR. ZUCKERMAN: The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has managed to displace the one alternative power source, which is the military. We are going to see a very, very big transformation in the government of Egypt.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence Page.

MR. PAGE: We're not going to hear much specific from Mitt Romney on defense or foreign policy till the debates, which is going to be a very late time for him to clean up controversy before the election.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mexico's president-elect, Enrique Pena Nieto, will be declared to have been validly elected by the current commission judging the case.

By the way, who's going to win the debate?

MR. PAGE: Oh, the debates?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it going to be Romney?

MR. PAGE: Barack Obama.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Barack's going to win?

MR. PAGE: Is there any doubt?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You want to put any money on that?

MR. PAGE: (Laughs.) I don't want to -- (inaudible) -- your expectations.