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The McLaughlin Group

Host: John McLaughlin

Panel:
Pat Buchanan, Author and Columnist;
Eleanor Clift, Newsweek;
Susan Ferrechio, Washington Examiner;
Paul Glastris, Washington Monthly

Taped: Friday, November 16, 2012
Broadcast: Weekend of November 17-18, 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: Petraeus Unbound.

GENERAL DAVID PETRAEUS (then-CIA director): (From videotape.) Thanks to President Obama for the confidence in an old soldier.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So said David Petraeus 13 months ago, September 2011, when he was sworn in as director of the Central Intelligence Agency, the CIA. Petraeus was nominated by President Obama, replacing outgoing CIA Director Leon Panetta, now head of the Department of Defense.

But Petraeus suddenly resigned one week ago over, in Petraeus's own words, a, quote-unquote, "extramarital affair." The woman in question: Paula Broadwell, who's also married, and co-wrote a 400- page biography of General Petraeus last year when Petraeus was still the top commander in Afghanistan.

PAULA BROADWELL: (From videotape.) It is a portrait of modern warfare. And I tried to show in the book how his ideas are playing out on the ground through the portraits of three battalion commanders.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Petraeus still has a stellar reputation -- a four-star general with a 37-year military career. He was chosen by President George W. Bush to oversee the surge strategy in Iraq in 2007. He was sent by President Obama to be the top commander in Afghanistan, heading ISAF, the International Security Assistance Force.

So how did this affair come to light? When this woman, Jill Kelley, a married Tampa Bay socialite, complained to the FBI that she was receiving harassing emails from an anonymous sender. She registered the complaint this past summer. The FBI investigated, and in the process discovered the sender was Paula Broadwell, and also that Broadwell had had an affair with Petraeus.

The emails to Kelley stemmed from Broadwell's apparent jealousy of Kelley's relationship with Petraeus. There is no evidence that Kelley had an affair with Petraeus. The Kelley family acknowledged that they were friendly with the Petraeus family.

By late October, under questioning from the FBI, both Petraeus and Broadwell had admitted to the affair. On November 6, election day, the FBI notified the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, of the affair. Clapper advised Petraeus to step down, and within days Petraeus did.

Question: Is there more to this affair than meets the eye? Pat Buchanan.

PAT BUCHANAN: I don't think there's a great deal more than what we already know, John. A lot of people are attacking the FBI for investigating those harassing emails, running to the source. But once the FBI did and they found out, A, that the CIA director was having an illicit affair with this woman who was sending emails and that it was David Petraeus, I think they had to follow up. They probably got the approval of Mueller, the head of the FBI, to follow up. And when they did, they were looking at documents that Ms. Broadwell has.

And I think it really is a legitimate thing to follow up on for these reasons. Petraeus -- you had a potential scandal there that would blow him up and blow him out of his career, which it did. Secondly, he's a potential target of blackmail if he's having an illicit affair. Third, there's the potential that you're compromising security here.

And fourth, with due regard to the general, who has a magnificent, sterling record, this was a juvenile act and an act of really unrealism and folly that it's hard to believe in a four-star general that he would behave like this, running along the river with his girlfriend and all the rest of it. And I think he knew, and as he said in his resignation letter, his performance and his behavior was inconsistent with the organization that he led.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's far from isolated, Pat. You know that.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Franklin Roosevelt had a mistress.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, sure, but look what happened to -- John Edwards was blown up. Gary Hart was blown up. Bill Clinton was almost blown out of the presidency. Anybody that doesn't know this is going to be the consequence of what happens to you if you get involved in this and you're running the CIA is preposterous.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

ELEANOR CLIFT: Yeah, he's not the first powerful man to do something foolish when it comes to an extramarital affair, and he won't be the last. But he is, or was, head of the CIA, and that did make him a potential target for blackmail.

When you look into this, there's not much more here, I don't believe. There's no evidence of a breach in national security. The FBI apparently acted by the book. You don't tip off the White House when you're engaging in a potentially criminal investigation.

The agent in Florida, who then worried that the investigation was being stalled and went to a Republican congressman, who went to Eric Cantor, he has an illustrious record. He helped bring down the Millennium plot. And you can't blame him either for his apparent concern that this was not being studied appropriately. So then the story got out.

And I think General Petraeus has acted honorably in resigning. I think he's going to do fine. He's going to get a book contract. He apparently wants to be president of Princeton. He'll have a year of probably giving speeches, making a lot of money. I don't feel sorry for him.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He wrote a book with that lady who wrote about him, Paula Broadwell, with Vernon Loeb, "All In: The Education of General David Petraeus."

MS. CLIFT: Right, and --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He cooperated practically on the entire book.

MS. CLIFT: Well, yes. And one of the --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now he's going to write another book?

MS. CLIFT: Well, he can write one about himself.

He's not the author of this. This is somebody writing about him. This is what happens --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, this is his --

MS. CLIFT: -- when you screw up colossally. You get all these offers. (Laughs.) That's the way America works, apparently.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The book is very, very favorable to --

MS. CLIFT: One of the reviews said it's not written by a reporter; it's written by an acolyte. And, you know, obviously she thinks very highly of him.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, is there a dark side to Petraeus? I don't see it.

SUSAN FERRECHIO: John, getting back to your original question --

MS. CLIFT: I didn't say there was a --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: His career is --

MS. FERRECHIO: You said is there more to this.

MS. CLIFT: But he can't --

MR. BUCHANAN: Hey, John --

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but he can't continue --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He was in charge of the Afghanistan command.

MR. BUCHANAN: Hey, John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He was Baghdad operations. He was the leader of
the Central Command. He's been CIA director. He was the leader of the counterinsurgency doctrine.

MR. BUCHANAN: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: NATO meritorious service medal awarded to him. He's one of the most one hundred --

MS. CLIFT: He can't continue in the job that he has with a different set of rules for himself and everybody else who works for him. He knew that. He resigned. The president accepted the resignation -- end of story.

MS. FERRECHIO: You said is there more to this. We cannot talk about this affair without talking about Libya and Benghazi. All of this was going on. He knew the FBI was investigating him for this affair while he was talking to Congress about what happened on September 11th in Benghazi. And during the initial report to Congress in early September, he told them he felt it was a spontaneous attack, not a result of terrorism, and that this had nothing to do with al- Qaida. He didn't mention that at all. And now he knew they were investigating him for an affair.

So when you say is there more to this, it does raise the question about whether there's a possible connection between what he said to Congress and what he knew the FBI was investigating.

MR. BUCHANAN: Did he --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Were they trying to shut him down in his testimony to Congress?

MR. BUCHANAN: No, no. Did he go the party line?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That is a legitimate question. Now, the man who would be doing that, logically, is James Clapper. Who is James Clapper? The national defense intelligence --

MR. BUCHANAN: DNI.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: DNI.

MS. FERRECHIO: The DNI -- director of national intelligence.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clapper didn't want him to say anything about the Benghazi rollout.

MS. FERRECHIO: Because why?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Because it was so damaging to the CIA.

MS. FERRECHIO: It's before the election. Well, because it's damaging to the presidency, and we are talking two months before an election. So it was important for him to support the president when he talked to Congress.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, the question --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So, therefore, this is an extenuation of that.

MR. BUCHANAN: No. John, the question --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He still wants to shut him down on that.

MR. BUCHANAN: No, John, the question Susan is raising is a very, very
important one. Did David Petraeus go up to Capitol Hill and copper -- in other words, doctor -- the CIA report which said it was maybe al-Qaida in Benghazi? And did Petraeus then mislead the Congress and go along with the program that this was basically a spontaneous thing that happened? And did he do it because --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It was --

MR. BUCHANAN: -- they're holding a hammer over him?

MS. CLIFT: Well --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It was far simpler than that. Petraeus wanted to protect the CIA from a rap, and that's why he did what he did. That's why he did it.

PAUL GLASTRIS: John, you asked the question, are we going to learn more? We're going to learn a ton more, because there's all these crazy conspiratorial questions --

MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.) Right.

MR. GLASTRIS: -- swirling around Capitol Hill, especially from Republicans, who see --

MS. FERRECHIO: Why --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute. Let him finish.

MR. GLASTRIS: -- some pretty obvious -- I mean, we know a lot of facts now, and there's just not a lot of mystery here. And there's really not a lot of suspicion --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What are these wicked Republicans doing?

MR. GLASTRIS: Well, they're -- look, we had, from 1968 to 1979, five ambassadors killed in the line of duty. Do you remember headlines and investigations into screw-ups? I don't. We -- only after the 1979 hostage crisis in Iran did we begin to say, oh, my God, it's a challenge to American honor and dignity if a diplomat gets hurt or killed. And we've had no ambassadors killed since 1980.

MR. BUCHANAN: But that's not --

MS. CLIFT: Well, there are some --

MR. GLASTRIS: And now somebody -- now a guy dies, which is horrible --

MR. BUCHANAN: Wait a minute.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on, Pat. Let Eleanor in.

MR. GLASTRIS: -- but it's not a scandal. It's a brave men caught in a bad situation. And I don't believe --

MR. BUCHANAN: But you're overlooking --

MS. CLIFT: There are some --

MR. BUCHANAN: You're overlooking important things.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, let Eleanor in.

MS. CLIFT: Yes, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: All right, go.

MS. CLIFT: There are some legitimate questions. And Thomas Pickering, a Reagan appointee diplomat --

MR. BUCHANAN: He's investigating.

MS. CLIFT: -- is heading an investigation. There will be a report in December. Even the most partisan people say there's no connection between Benghazi and sex. You're saying that Petraeus is having this affair to cover up Benghazi? I mean, the fantasies --

MR. BUCHANAN: OK, let me --

MS. CLIFT: -- that are evolving from this are totally insane.

MR. BUCHANAN: Let's get back to Benghazi. Let's get back to Benghazi. Here's the problem. We now learn that the ambassador and the folks in Benghazi were begging for help. There were terrorist attacks. They blew a 12-foot-hole wall in the compound. They were sending memos back saying we need more protection; we need more help. And none was forthcoming. That's number one.

The second thing that makes it an issue is why was no help sent along that night, when these guys were under attack? Seven and a half hours they were under attack? These are valid questions. And then afterwards --

MS. CLIFT: Petraeus has answered those questions.

MR. BUCHANAN: Hold it. My turn.

MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.)

MR. BUCHANAN: Afterwards they go out and they're talking about this protest that got out of control, which was a total fabrication. There was no protest.

MR. GLASTRIS: But the --

MS. CLIFT: There was something.

MR. GLASTRIS: -- attackers were telling passersby at the time that they were doing it in protest on the film. Moreover, all the intelligence to this day suggests it was not premeditated and preplanned, but opportunistic.

MR. BUCHANAN: You mean --

MR. GLASTRIS: So it was --

MR. BUCHANAN: That's what's got to be investigated.

MR. GLASTRIS: Well, it's fine to be investigated, but --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me get a different line of question here for -- try this out on Susan.

Do you think that this is more than a Petraeus lapse of judgment, his relationship with Paula Broadwell? Do you think it was more than a lapse in judgment?

MS. FERRECHIO: I think it was absolutely a lapse in judgment for him. But do you mean is more than that, beyond that? Is the FBI holding something over his head?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, first of all, is the book completely reliable?

MS. FERRECHIO: Well, you know, she certainly had, you know, tremendous access, as we've learned. She's got files on her computer with classified information. She clearly had, as she has been quoted as saying, really excellent access to everything going on in his life. So in that sense, you're probably getting a lot of details you would never get for someone who had less access.

I think the question is, is the book biased? You know, clearly she has a relationship with him. Is it a book where you're going to really see two sides of Petraeus or just, you know, as we're --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it a premier --

MS. FERRECHIO: -- (reading ?), a biography, and that's what that is? So there you go.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it a career killer for him, this whole deal?

MR. BUCHANAN: He's gone.

MS. FERRECHIO: Well, was it a career killer for Clinton when he was nearly impeached --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No.

MS. FERRECHIO: -- for Monica Lewinsky?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No.

MS. FERRECHIO: There you go.

MR. BUCHANAN: It is. I mean, any office in the government of the United States, running for Senate or president, that's out. President of Princeton? No problem.

MS. CLIFT: That's right. (Laughs.)

MS. FERRECHIO: I think he can run. He could run.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What a crime that would be to lose this man.

MS. FERRECHIO: I don't think --

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, where are you going to put him?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's a (layman ?) today.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, John, let him run for something and see. But I'm telling you, he won't run for something after this.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Two: Republicans Fry Rice.

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ): (From videotape.) We will do whatever is necessary to block the nomination that's within our power as far as Susan Rice is concerned.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): (From videotape.) I don't trust her. And the reason I don't trust her is because I think she knew better. And if she didn't know better, she shouldn't be the voice of America.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Key Republican senators are trying to preemptively block Susan Rice from becoming secretary of state. Ms. Rice is currently the permanent representative to the United Nations for the U.S. She has not yet been officially nominated for the State Department job to replace Hillary Clinton, who intends to resign, probably.

Rice is rumored to be under active and positive consideration.
But Republicans and some Democrats have been angry with Ms. Rice for saying that the attack at Benghazi that left four Americans dead was spontaneous and not preplanned.

SUSAN RICE (U.S. ambassador to the United Nations): (From videotape.) What our assessment is, as of the present, is, in fact, it began spontaneously in Benghazi as a reaction to what had transpired some hours earlier in Cairo, where, of course, as you know, there was a violent protest outside of our embassy sparked by this hateful video.

AMB. RICE: (From videotape.) We do not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this was premeditated or preplanned.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Ms. Rice made these comments five days after intelligence reports were reporting otherwise. Be that as it may, at his press conference on Wednesday of this week, President Obama voiced outrage with Senators McCain and Graham.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: (From videotape.) When they go after the U.N. ambassador, apparently because they think she's an easy target, then they've got a problem with me.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: McCain fired back at Obama.

SEN. MCCAIN: (From videotape.) If the president thinks that we are picking on people, he really doesn't have any idea of how serious this issue is.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So what do Senators McCain and Graham want? Get this: A Watergate-style select committee to investigate the administration's response to the Benghazi attack.

Question: Under the rules of the Senate, it only takes one senator to put a hold on a presidential nomination. So how can President Obama get around this? Eleanor Clift.

MS. CLIFT: He doesn't need to get around anything. If he wants to nominate Susan Rice, he's going to do it up front and he's going to fight for her. And Lindsey Graham and John McCain are a committee of two in wanting a select committee to investigate, Watergate-style, Benghazi. I don't even think most Republicans have the appetite for that.

Secondly, John McCain just did an enormous favor for Susan Rice, because he just boosted her chances that she's likely to be nominated, because the president doesn't want to look like he's walking away from a fight. This is a fight that he can win, should win early in his second term. He can't allow these two war hawks on the Hill to roll him.

And so it's tough to get a nomination through, but you've got an invigorated Democratic Party with two more seats. And if they want to filibuster her nomination, the president can make a big issue out of that. And it's not -- the Republicans aren't going to look like the winners --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Susan --

MS. CLIFT: -- going after a woman who had nothing to do with the Benghazi attack.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Susan Rice got into this on Schieffer's program, "Face the Nation." And the question is, do you think that she got her talking points for that program from the White House?

MR. GLASTRIS: She got the same talking points as the administration was giving to the House Republicans.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Through others.

MR. GLASTRIS: Well, I think it was an interagency process that created a set of talking points which she faithfully put forth on that program. And, by the way, she was not wrong. The intelligence to this day says it was not premeditated. The question -- the other question was, was it a terrorist attack? And she didn't say that it wasn't. She didn't rule that out, but she said -- she gave the best -- again, a faithful representation of what the talking points were at that time. I don't --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: She gave --

MR. GLASTRIS: There is no scandal here.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: She gave her spin, the White House spin. The Obama spin probably started there at that level, it is said now, for the unrolling of events in Benghazi --

MR. GLASTRIS: This was five days after --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- that involved four Americans getting killed.

MR. GLASTRIS: This was five days after the events. They had minimal amounts of intelligence. They were not allowed to put in things that they hadn't already nailed down. This was what they were prepared to put out five days later. It changed a number of times repeatedly after that. But at the moment --

MR. BUCHANAN: John --

MR. GLASTRIS: -- she did nothing wrong.

MR. BUCHANAN: That is nonsense. Look, the CIA guys were in a fire fight that night, seven and a half hours. Two of their guys -- the SEALs were CIA -- got killed. They came out. They reported back. You had real-time intelligence.

The CIA, according to Petraeus on Friday, said he had in his talking points that this may have been an al-Qaida operation. That's taken out. Carney and then Petraeus and then Rice repeatedly and the president say it came out of some spontaneous protest. There was no spontaneous protest. It was a terrorist attack.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that this is -- in addition to what's been said here, do you agree with that? And secondly, do you think there was an effort at a top level to protect the CIA?

MS. FERRECHIO: Well, what you're seeing now on Capitol Hill that relates to all of what you're asking is that Republicans are trying to buck this sort of trend, attitudinal trend, that you're echoing, which is nothing to see here. This was nothing. This was nothing.
So that's why McCain and Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte, who's a woman -- so not just two party to --

MS. CLIFT: Three; party of three. (Laughs.)

MS. FERRECHIO: There are others. I'm on the Hill every day, and I will tell you there's Republicans --

MS. CLIFT: You don't have a vote on the Hill, though, Susan.

MS. FERRECHIO: However, I've interviewed many Republicans.

MS. CLIFT: I have too.

MS. FERRECHIO: So it's not just three people who say if you don't have one special group investigating this, special committee, there's no way you're really going to get to the bottom of why four people were killed and why we did nothing to protect them. And now we're trying to make it look like, oh, we're just picking on Susan Rice. She went out there and said on many different talk shows --

MR. BUCHANAN: Five.

MS. FERRECHIO: -- something that was absolutely, patently false.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Also --

MS. FERRECHIO: And so now she wants to be secretary --

MR. BUCHANAN: She was scripted and sent out on five shows to put out a phony, false line that any --

MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.
)

MR. BUCHANAN: When you look back and know what they knew 12 hours later, it was --

MS. CLIFT: You know, Pat --

MR. BUCHANAN: -- utterly false, John. Who gave her the phony --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think they're going to get that special committee, similar to Watergate?

MR. BUCHANAN: Eleanor may be right on -- look, the Democrats control it.

MS. CLIFT: No committee.

MR. BUCHANAN: The Democrats control the Senate.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you mean, no committee?

MS. CLIFT: The Democrats control the Senate.

MS. FERRECHIO: The Democrats control the Senate, so --

MS. CLIFT: The Defense Department put out a time line. Petraeus has said that there wasn't enough time to get anybody there to help the people who were on the ground.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about that? Can that stop it dead?

MS. CLIFT: There will be a report in December.

MR. BUCHANAN: The Democratic Party controls --

MS. CLIFT: Let's wait on that. (Laughs.)

MR. BUCHANAN: The Democratic Party controls the Senate. I don't think you'll get a select committee. But there's a lot more -- let me tell you, if they nominate her, this will be the bloodiest battle since Robert Leffingwell, John, in "Advise and Consent" was nominated for secretary of state in that movie.

MS. CLIFT: No, it'll be the bloodiest fight since John Tower over alcoholism. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's your intuition? Do you think it can be stopped?

MR. GLASTRIS: I mean, there's going to be investigations. But when, you know, John McCain comes out during -- in the middle of when he's supposed to be sitting in on a classified briefing and goes in front of the cameras, he undercuts his side's seriousness about whether they actually want to get to the bottom of this or they want to turn this into a pseudo-scandal. And they've had -- it's another Solyndra. It's another Fast and Furious.

MS. CLIFT: This is a fight --

MR. GLASTRIS: They haven't got anything on him yet, and they think they can --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three: High Noon.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) Every voter out there understood that that was an important debate. And the majority of voters agreed with me. By the way, more voters agreed with me on this issue than voted for me.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What issue was that, sir?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) When it comes to the top 2 percent, what I'm not going to do is to extend further a tax cut for folks who don't need it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Those tax cuts are for people who make more than $250,000 a year. The party's over. December 31 is high noon. Bush tax cuts expire at midnight. Taxes go back up. Taxes had been lowered for a limited time when George W. Bush was president, and that time runs out in six weeks.

The latest budget put forward by President Obama proposes $1.6 trillion in new taxes over the next 10 years from corporations and from wealthy Americans. That's double what Republicans agreed to in closed-door talks last year.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) I don't expect the Republicans simply to adopt my budget. That's not realistic. So I recognize that we're going to have to compromise.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, now Republicans are balking. They will not let tax rates go up. But there must be a grand bargain. Republicans will support the elimination of certain deductions and tax loopholes that benefit the wealthy.

Speaker of the House John Boehner emphasized that hiking taxes on these wealthy Americans will hurt the very people who create the jobs.

HOUSE SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH): (From videotape.) We are not going to hurt our economy and make job creation more difficult, which is exactly what that plan would do.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Barack Obama has made his clearest demand since winning reelection: Taxes on the wealthiest of American citizens must go up. He says the country could suffer a, quote-unquote, "rude shock" if there is too much stubbornness in Congress over his agenda and nothing gets done. He proposes this first step.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) Step number one that we can take in the next couple of weeks: Provide certainty to middle-class families, 98 percent of families who make less than $250,000 a year, 97 percent of small businesses, that their taxes will not go up a single dime next year. Give them that certainty right now. We can get that done.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Who will blink first? How will this be resolved? Paul Glastris.

MR. GLASTRIS: Both sides have an incentive, even though they're saying the opposite, to wait till after the first of the year. After the first of the year, the tax rates go back to pre-Bush levels. In other words, they go up. That way the president gets his tax increase on the wealthy and the Republicans don't have to vote for a tax increase. They would be voting for a tax cut.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think, John, that may be what happens. But my feeling is the jolt to the economy, if all these taxes hit -- the payroll taxes and the Bush tax cuts gone and all the rest of it -- Obama will be in the catbird seat, because then he can offer the middle-class tax cut.

But I do think this. President Obama is pushing it. The Republicans will go along. They say we won't raise rates, but go ahead and take some of the loopholes and deductions, cap them or cull them or cut them, and that way you get more revenue from the wealthy. They're willing to go along.

John, one thing you ought to remember here. Some of these Democrats -- you take the guy Trumka and the other guys. They say we won this election. We're not going to let you cut Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, the programs that our party has put together. You're not going to slash those.

Obama could have as much trouble from the left wing of his Democratic Party as he does from the right wing of the GOP.

MS. CLIFT: Yes, of course, and --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Richard Trumka heads up the AFL-CIO.

MR. BUCHANAN: Right.

MS. CLIFT: Yes. The interest groups are digging in on both sides to hold the line. And the president cannot back down on getting more revenue from the rich.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why did Obama double the revenue target from $800 billion that he won in negotiations with Boehner in 2011 -- why did he double it to $1.6 trillion now?

MS. FERRECHIO: Because I think he wanted to move the number up to give him more bargaining power. I do think that both sides are going to try to work something out before the end of the year, because they are all worried about the impact on the economy, not just in January, but right now, while you're watching the stock market and others negatively react to the fact that they are fearing the fiscal cliff will be --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, he must have known that this $1.6 trillion is a far more realistic number --

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- in view of the objectives.

MS. CLIFT: That's what the --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why didn't he mention it a month ago, during --

MS. FERRECHIO: Well, for an obvious reason.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- before the election?

MS. FERRECHIO: For a very obvious reason.

MR. BUCHANAN: Because he wanted to get elected.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: President Obama will nominate Susan Rice as secretary of state. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Nope. He will back down.

MS. CLIFT: He won't back down.

MS. FERRECHIO: He will back down and not nominate her.

MR. GLASTRIS: He will not nominate her.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He will back down.

Happy Thanksgiving. Gobble, gobble.

(C) 2012 Federal News Service

END