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The McLaughlin Group

Host: John McLaughlin

Panel:
Pat Buchanan, Author and Columnist;
Eleanor Clift, Newsweek;
Susan Ferrechio, Washington Examiner;
Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune

Broadcast: Weekend of December 29-30, 2012

Copyright © 2013 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.

ANNOUNCER: It's the 31st annual McLaughlin Group year-end awards, 2012, part two. Here's the master of ceremonies, John McLaughlin.

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: Destined for political stardom in 2013. Pat.

PAT BUCHANAN: Senator-designate Tim Scott of South Carolina, the first African-American senator and Republican senator from Dixie since Reconstruction.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

ELEANOR CLIFT: Senator Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts, who will have a seat on the Banking Committee. So there's a new sheriff in town as the Dodd-Frank regulations begin to get written, or continue to get written and are implemented.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Susan.

SUSAN FERRECHIO: I also agree with Pat on Tim Scott. He's got great communication skills. He comes from a humble background. He's going to shake up the Senate, being a different kind of member there. And I think he will articulate the views of the tea party, who have lately been drowned out in Congress. So he's going to be a good addition for the Senate.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm going to ask you for the envelope in a moment, Susan.

CLARENCE PAGE: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: Since I figured somebody would guess Tim Scott before I'd get to him -- (laughter) -- I'm going to say Senator Joe Manchin from West Virginia, who' flipped on the gun issue, a lifelong NRA member. He's carving out that kind of middle-ground politics that I think America is looking for right now. And I think we're going to hear more from him.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Good. We'll all be waiting for that.

MR. PAGE: Right on.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. What's his name?

MR. PAGE: You heard it here first. Joe Manchin.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Joe Manchin.

MR. PAGE: Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK, Clarence.

MR. PAGE: The senator from West Virginia.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Thanks for the tip.

The envelope, please.

MS. FERRECHIO: Here you go.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Thank you, Susan.

Let's see what we've got here. Carmac or what?

MR. BUCHANAN: Carnac the Magnificent.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Carnac. Carnac the Magnificent.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, we've got here destined for political stardom in 2013 -- this is definitely Carnac -- Venezuela's Hugo Chavez.

MR. PAGE: Ta da.

MR. BUCHANAN: Stardom?

MS. CLIFT: Stardom?

MR. BUCHANAN: You'd better get the vice president, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: His candidacy may be terminal, but Chavez's populist legacy will live on and become legendary. Chavez posters will soon replace Che Guevara as emblems of Latin Americans' social revolutionaries. Put that in your column, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK, destined for political oblivion. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: President Bashar al-Assad of Syria -- (laughs) -- if he's not gone by the time this show airs. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Sarah Palin, mama grizzlies and the tea party. I don't think the new senator from South Carolina can save the tea party in Washington.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Susan.

MS. FERRECHIO: Well, sadly, Mitt Romney, not only because he lost the election; because he went out with the same kind of comment that got him in trouble in the first place, talking about giving people -- Obama winning over voters because he gave them gifts; kind of hurt the party on his way out after losing the election.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: You beat me to the tea party, but as the old saying goes, populist movements are like bees. They sting and then they die. I think the sting of the tea party is over.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's a good axiom.

MR. PAGE: Thank you, sir.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that yours?

MR. PAGE: I think it's H.L. Mencken, actually. But I'll take it. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it in the glossary of maxims?

MR. PAGE: I'll look it up. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK. I like it.

Destined for political oblivion in 2013: Vice President Joe Biden. He's reached his high-water mark in politics, even if he runs in 2016 for the presidency.

MR. BUCHANAN: He's been named to head up the whole gun thing.

MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm telling you. That's not going to --

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- (inaudible) -- alter this prediction. His political style is seen, unfortunately for him, as too acerbic for broad appeal. Maybe he should talk to his wife about running for president. His wife is terrific.

MS. CLIFT: He may or may not run for president, John, but a lot of people love Joe Biden. He's an authentic voice. And Democrats in particular love him. Maybe you've got a problem, but --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm talking about his wife as a candidacy.

MR. PAGE: Oh. His wife?

MS. CLIFT: Jill is --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why not?

MS. CLIFT: Because she's shown no political ambition.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK.

MS. CLIFT: She teaches at a community college and she has a fine career.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK. Best political theater of 2012. Pat.
MR. BUCHANAN: I hate to say it, but I think it was the Democratic convention in Charlotte. It was a real bell ringer of a convention -- very entertaining.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I second that. But I loved Clint Eastwood interviewing the empty chair. That was classic. (Laughs.)

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You really thought that he had it all together?

MR. PAGE: You're talking to Eleanor now. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He was fooling around with a chair.

MS. CLIFT: It was improvisation that, you know, maybe only Democrats could love. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Susan.

MS. FERRECHIO: I'd say the fiscal cliff fight, because it's keeping the media pack on Capitol Hill completely entertained with dueling press conferences and back-and-forth negotiations every single day. It's definitely a lot of kabuki theater right now and very little substance.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: I think you're right about that. But my big political theater of the year was watching President Obama and Chris Christie there at Hurricane Sandy. It was a pivotal political moment this year, the most memorable scene. And for a country looking for people who can work together across party lines, it was a new symbol.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And ruinous for him?

MR. PAGE: Oh, I don't think it's ruinous for Christie at all. I know that's the conventional wisdom.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, no, no.

MR. BUCHANAN: Mitt Romney.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Not Christie -- ruinous for Romney.

MR. PAGE: Oh, for Mitt Romney. Oh, for sure, yeah.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Romney was nowhere to be seen.

MR. PAGE: Oh, yeah.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And he had been -- he had the big mo, or
the mo, going in.

MS. CLIFT: No. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK, best political theater: U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice's attempt to disentangle herself from having injected herself into the political campaign by spinning the Benghazi attack. Her post-election charm offensive made matters worse, and she ended the soap opera with a letter withdrawing from consideration as secretary of state.
Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: And that's good political theater? (Laughs.)
OK, worst political theater is my friend Clint Eastwood, I'm afraid, and the empty chair -- (laughs) --

MR. PAGE: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, wait a minute.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- that blotted out --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Some people liked that.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, it was OK. I mean, it was interesting, but --

MS. CLIFT: It was not good --

MR. BUCHANAN: -- it blotted out --

MS. CLIFT: -- for Republicans. (Laughs.)

MR. BUCHANAN: -- all the film of the great things Mitt had done.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

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

OK, worst political theater. I'm more serious -- the Senate Republicans voting down the U.N. treaty on people with disabilities after Senator Bob Dole made an appearance pleading for passage in his wheelchair. And they just ignored -- they said hello and they ignored him. I think it was --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Excellent point.

MS. CLIFT: -- shame.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Susan.

MS. FERRECHIO: I'm going to say again the fiscal cliff, because fun to watch but frightening for taxpayers and damaging to the financial markets.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can you get off that shtick now?

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MS. FERRECHIO: But it's true. It's taking over everything --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I mean, how much time do you spend --

MS. FERRECHIO: -- right now on Capitol Hill.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It is?

MS. FERRECHIO: Absolutely.

MR. PAGE: I agree with you. The fiscal cliff is the worst -- they know what they've got to do. They just don't want to do it because it's unpleasant -- you know, raising taxes, cutting spending. But I call it the fiscal bluff.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm going to give you the worst political theater. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg blaming Hurricane Sandy on global warming. Come on, guys.

MR. PAGE: He's right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You build houses on the shoreline, you're going to get flooded when there's a combination of high tides, storm surge and wind, even by a Category 1, the weakest category, like Sandy. You're going to get flooded.
You got it, Pat?

MR. BUCHANAN: Seems to me I heard that last week from myself. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK, most underreported story of 2012. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: How the big media went into the tank for Barack Obama.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hmm. Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: When you have 100-year storms every couple of years, you've got a problem. The most seriously underreported story is the threat of climate change.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, dear.
Susan.

MS. FERRECHIO: Federal government raid of the Gibson guitar factory. They confiscated half a million dollars' worth of merchandise because this small business took some wood that was the incorrect level of thickness.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Interesting.

MR. PAGE: Worst political theater: How the right turned Benghazi tragedy into theater of the absurd. That's what it was.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you reading that now?

MR. PAGE: I'm reading it because I wanted to get it right and concise.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, well, listen to me now. Watch this. Underreported story of 2012: The bright side of Mexico -- the bright side of Mexico, particularly its economy. You called Mexico one time a failed state on this program. Now in the midst of a manufacturing rebound, with exports up to 14 percent, up from 11 percent, creating jobs, boosting GDP, and drawing Mexican immigrants from the United States back home.

OK, the most overreported story of 2012. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: The election of 2012, primary and general election, and the fiscal cliff. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Political gaffes. "I like to fire people." "You didn't build that." "Corporations are people too, my friend." And the -- what is it? -- "The private sector is doing just fine."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Susan.

MS. FERRECHIO: The Republican primary -- too many debates, too much coverage, just oversaturation.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: Overreported story -- the secessionist movement after the election. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The most overreported story of 2012: Facebook, anything to do with Facebook, from Zuckerberg's wealth to the IPO to the IPO's dismal results to Facebook's privacy policies. You name it -- Facebook is so overreported.

OK, biggest government waste. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Obama gives stimulus billions of dollars to fat- cat friends with green energy companies like Solyndra.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: War in Afghanistan.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Overreported.

MS. CLIFT: No, no -- biggest government waste.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Biggest government waste -- stealing my material.
Clarence.

MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.)

MR. PAGE: You skipped --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Susan. Sorry.

MS. FERRECHIO: Government junkets. The Government (sic/means General) Services Administration spent $800,000 for a conference in Las Vegas.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: Tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The biggest government waste, as we just heard, is the war in Afghanistan. The cause was to transform Afghan society into replication of the West -- a noble cause, but an unattainable one. Afghanistan is a failure, after many deaths, countless more shattered lives and an immense waste of money and national prestige.
OK, best government dollar spent. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: I'm going to say the National Weather Service, which, like it or not, gave us about a week's head start and head- start warning that Sandy was coming, and probably saved thousands of lives when you consider the hurricane in Galveston, which nobody knew about in 1906, killed 6,000 people.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Best government dollar spent: "Obamacare."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Susan.

MS. FERRECHIO: NASA -- Mars Rover, incredible technology, water purification, solar energy, and on and on and on.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know I'm interested in that, huh?

MS. FERRECHIO: All brought to us by NASA.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The moon.
Clarence.

MR. PAGE: The so-called Detroit auto bailout. Whatever you want to call it, it saved jobs.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Best government dollar spent: The ongoing investment in the Iron Dome antimissile system by the U.S. and Israel. It's setting a standard for reliability that was demonstrated in the recent Gaza fighting. Iron Dome is also known as the rocket swatter. And as a result of Iron Dome's interception success, missile defense systems will get a boost in defense budgets worldwide.

Pat, boldest political tactic.

MR. BUCHANAN: Michigan legislature passes, incredibly, a right- to-work law in the home of the United Auto Workers -- astonishing.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Astonishing for the governor too.

MR. BUCHANAN: It's astonishing for the autoworkers. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.
Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: President Obama's implementation of the DREAM Act through an executive order.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Susan.

MS. FERRECHIO: I thought it was Obama's class warfare during the election. It helped him win.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: The Obama campaign's ground game, getting those campaign offices opened out there. It was risky, and it worked.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Boldest political tactic: Tibet; Tibet citizens setting themselves on fire by the scores, self-immolating, to attract wavering world attention to what they see as China's repressive rule -- boldest political tactic.

OK, worst political scandal. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Worst political scandal. I would say General Petraeus -- (laughs) -- (inaudible) -- to his girlfriends. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, it brought down -- look, they almost brought down the entire Central Command down there in Florida over, with due respect, two young ladies. And it was a horrendous scandal; destroyed the career of one of the most famous American generals, certainly, of the 21st century.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Conduct unbecoming a gentleman.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, I'll leave it with what General Petraeus said.

Go ahead, Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah. I've got to agree. But I must say, I'm waiting for the book. I'm sure he will write a book.
I have Petraeus too, but my backup was DSK, who would have been the president of France if he hadn't chased a hotel chambermaid around the room in New York. That was just settled in a civil suit. He had to pay up big.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Susan.

MS. FERRECHIO: I would have to say Benghazi -- failure of the Obama administration to protect our diplomats, and then a ridiculous attempt to cover it up.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mmm -- dynamite.
Clarence.

MR. PAGE: The cover-up has yet to be proved.

MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.) Right.

MR. PAGE: But Petraeus has to win. I mean, here's a career that was just going so spectacularly well, and just overnight another one of these sex scandals that's just questionable how bad it was for anybody outside of their families and the immediate people.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Worst political scandal of 2012 is Operation Fast and Furious, the BATF undercover operation which flooded Mexico with some 2,000 illegal weapons; 1,400 still unaccounted for, but soon to be in the hands of the drug cartels. The Justice Department operation makes the U.S. government one of the largest suppliers of assault rifles to the drug cartels.

OK, best idea of 2012. Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: I was going to go with secession, John, but I'm going to go instead --

MR. PAGE: (Laughs.)

MR. BUCHANAN: -- with what you had, the Iron Dome missile defense for Israel. It clearly worked. It prevented an invasion of Gaza.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I'm going to go with the Democrats' characterization of the dinosaur ideas of Republicans about women as war on women -- brought out the women's vote in favor of Obama; huge.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Susan.

MS. FERRECHIO: I think for Republicans it was Herman Cain's 9-9- 9 plan. Here was this business guy, this pizza shop owner, who rose to the top of the heap during the Republican primary by capturing everyone's attention with this 9-9-9 plan that really had a lot of appeal for people. And I think if he didn't suffer from a big scandal, you know, that would have had some traction.

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

MR. PAGE: Best idea is common-sense gun reform, reform that most NRA members agree with -- smaller magazines, better background checks, and changing the rubric from gun control to gun safety.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you have a gun?

MR. PAGE: Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What kind of a gun?

MR. PAGE: Well, it's a 30-ought-6.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mm-hmm. (Acknowledging.) Just keeping a record of those things.

The best idea of 2012 was Hillary Clinton's decision to turn down the White House's request that she go on weekend television talk shows following the Benghazi attack. Secretary of State Clinton left that to -- that honor to Susan Rice, who proceeded to strangulate her career.
OK, worst idea of 2012. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Worst idea is Jill Kelley's decision to get her FBI friend to look into those nasty emails she was getting from some woman up here in D.C. named Paula Broadwell -- finished off. It caused the whole scandal.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Worst idea: Romney's call for self-deportation of illegal people in the country.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Susan.

MS. FERRECHIO: Newt Gingrich's proposal to establish a moon colony. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You didn't care for that? Was he serious about that?

MS. FERRECHIO: I think it was.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. BUCHANAN: That's very good, Susan. (Laughs.)

MR. PAGE: Former Congressman Mel Reynolds, who had to be given a pardon by Bill Clinton to get out of jail, now is running for Jesse Jackson Jr.'s old seat -- not a good idea.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are we convinced there's nobody on the moon?

MS. FERRECHIO: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Worst idea of 2012: Apple's idea to put new
mapping technology, called Apple Maps, into its iPhone 5 in order to compete with the sales of Google. While the sales of iPhones were strong, the Apple Maps were a bomb. People got lost.

OK, sorry to see you go. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Neil Armstrong, American astronaut, first man on the moon, American hero.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: The print edition of Newsweek.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor -- Susan.

MS. FERRECHIO: Representative Allen West, who lost his reelection bid. He's a bold and articulate conservative who was not afraid to buck the leadership.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: You beat me to Allen West. He was always such fun to cover.

MS. CLIFT: Right. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Sorry to see you go, Tony Blankley -- Reagan White House veteran, former aide to House Speaker Newt Gingrich, editorial page editor of the Washington Times, author, columnist, and McLaughlin Group regular. Sorry to see you go.

OK, 15 minutes of fame. Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: Paula Broadwell, author of the bestselling Petraeus biography, "All In."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I will supplement that with Jill Kelley, the Florida woman who got caught up into the love quadrangle or quintangle, however big it got.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What, are we all feeding at the same trough here? (Laughter.)

MS. CLIFT: Oh, yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can't you give that a rest?
Susan.

MS. FERRECHIO: I say Sandra Fluke. I mean, how long can you go on about free birth control when the economy is crashing and there are so many other important issues to talk about?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Sandra Fluke. Who's she?

MS. CLIFT: Georgetown.

MR. BUCHANAN: Georgetown law student.

MS. FERRECHIO: She's a Georgetown law student --

MR. BUCHANAN: (Inaudible) -- on the last show, John.

MS. FERRECHIO: -- who testified about the need to have the government provide her with free birth control.

MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly.

MR. PAGE: And who Rush Limbaugh helped make famous by calling her names.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, he called her a name.

MR. PAGE: One or two.

MS. CLIFT: She's what we call an activist.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Four -- four letters in the name.

MS. CLIFT: And she'll be around for a good long while.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Fifteen minutes of fame: The boson -- the Higgs boson, the God particle. The discovery completes the standard model of physics and explains the mechanism from which mass comes into existence. Does that disprove or prove God's existence? Either way, its 15 minutes are up.

OK, best spin of the year. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Hamas celebrates a victory in Gaza, John, after 1,500 direct hits in eight days. And the world believes it was a great victory.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Vice President Biden -- "bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Susan.

MS. FERRECHIO: President Obama's entire reelection campaign. To me it was one big spin. And it was successful, but it was all spin.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really? All of it?

MS. FERRECHIO: Pretty much.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: Mitt Romney saying he cares about 100 percent of the American people.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Best spin of the year: The spin that al-Qaida is on the run -- unless by on the run you mean charging at our diplomatic missions with assault rifles blazing and RPGs, mortars, firing.

Are you with me, Pat?

MR. BUCHANAN: Again, I think I heard that last show. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: From you?

MR. BUCHANAN: Best comeback.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You really are -- (inaudible).

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK, the most honest person of the year. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Ron Paul. He tells it like it is, and always has.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We're back to Ron Paul?

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.) He had a good year, OK? (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How about his relative?

MR. BUCHANAN: Rand Paul's got a very promising future.

MS. CLIFT: Bob Costas on guns. He spoke out after the Kansas City Chiefs football player killed his girlfriend, used a gun; sort of kicked off the discussion we're having about guns -- long overdue.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Susan.

MS. FERRECHIO: I'd say Mitt Romney. His election campaign was honest, and the public didn't like it, and so they picked the other candidate.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Simple as that.

MS. FERRECHIO: Mm-hmm. (Acknowledging.)

MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.)

MS. FERRECHIO: "Obamacare," all these things he talked about, the way we need to change the tax code. People didn't like to hear that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Romney almost won. If he had shown up in New Jersey at the hurricane, he probably would have had even a better shot at it.

Clarence.

MR. PAGE: Rick Perry, when he said that those who don't care about students who, through no fault of their own, are in the country illegally, have no heart. And it just about killed his campaign.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Most honest --

MR. PAGE: That's what you get for being honest.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Most honest person of the year -- this is long overdue -- John Boehner, Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, who said, quote-unquote, "Let's be honest. We're broke."

Most overrated. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg. He goes public with it and it loses half its value in a matter of weeks.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's (on the list ?) for me.

Go ahead.

MS. CLIFT: Karl Rove and Crossroads GPS. I think his donors
got something like a 2 percent return on their investments. He didn't have a lot of winners.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, dear.
Susan.

MS. FERRECHIO: Political consultants in general. They make an astronomical amount of money, and they're almost always wrong.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?

MS. FERRECHIO: Yes. Their records are terrible.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean representing both parties?

MS. FERRECHIO: Absolutely.

MS. CLIFT: Actually, half of them are right every year. (Laughs.)

MR. PAGE: I was going to say Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry, but I have to say the whole Republican lineup of candidates last year.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Most overrated: The many predictions that the world will end on December the 21st. Have you heard about that? Well, here we are, so that didn't happen. So a lot of predictions are erroneous.

OK, the most underreported. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Most underrated is --

MR. PAGE: Underrated.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think it's the Koch brothers. I think this whole movement, from Wisconsin and Walker and Michigan and right to work -- I mean, when I was in journalism, right to work was dead outside these 18 or 19 states. Now it's in the Middle West and in industrial states -- astonishing. And the Koch brothers have done a great job.

MS. CLIFT: I don't think they're -- I don't think they're underrated. They're drowning the political system with money. (Laughs.) That's what they did. They bought off the Senate in Michigan.

MR. BUCHANAN: They bought them all off, did they, Eleanor? (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: Yes, they did.
Underrated: Donald Verrilli, who was the U.S. solicitor general who defended "Obamacare" before the Supreme Court. Everybody said he did a terrible job and they laughed. He presented it as a tax. The Supreme Court bought it. He gets a lot of credit.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who collected --

MS. CLIFT: Donald Verrilli is the name.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did Obama or Romney get more money for the election last year?

MR. BUCHANAN: I think Obama did in the end, did he not?

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but that's -- the more relevant figure --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Don't you think --

MS. CLIFT: -- is the outside groups that poured money in.

MR. PAGE: Yeah.

MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. Do you think you're OK with disapproving of money in an election?

MS. CLIFT: I think there's way too much money in the election.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why?

MS. CLIFT: Because of the Citizens United decision, which opened up the floodgates. It's destructive.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's a form of free speech.
Did you know that?

MS. CLIFT: I don't believe that money --

MR. PAGE: You're chewing up our speech time, John. (Laughs.)
(Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (It's proved ?) it doesn't work.

MR. BUCHANAN: Move on, John. Let's move on.

MR. PAGE: Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (It's proved ?) it doesn't work.

MR. PAGE: What about our free speech, John?

MS. CLIFT: It does work, unfortunately.

MR. BUCHANAN: Move on.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Susan, what about money in elections? Oh, go ahead.

MS. FERRECHIO: Well, to keep with our most underrated were the freshman class in the House, who everyone has pooh-poohed and said they're just fading out. I think they did more to move the Republican Party to the right than anyone since the mid 1990s.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The freshmen in the class --

MS. FERRECHIO: The freshmen.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- the ones who just arrived.

MS. FERRECHIO: Yes. They helped change --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In the Senate and the House?

MS. FERRECHIO: -- change the politics in the House.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How about the Senate?

MS. FERRECHIO: And slowly, but they are also having influence there.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does Mitch have a problem with Kentucky?

MS. FERRECHIO: If Ashley Judd runs against him? That's hard to say. Celebrity can sometimes really change politics.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Have you got something for me, Clarence? Quickly.

MR. PAGE: I know I said the Republican candidates were overrated, but Jon Huntsman is underrated. He's just in the wrong party.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Jon Huntsman.

MR. PAGE: Yes.

MS. FERRECHIO: Oh, I think he's -- (inaudible).

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, I've seen his daughter --

MR. PAGE: Yeah, great Democrat.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I've seen his daughter on a television show, and she's very good.

MR. PAGE: (Inaudible.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Most underrated: The malign impact of evolution -- underrated. We mistakenly think of it as advancement, but archaeological studies of paleolithic skeletal remains in ancient Europe show almost no evidence of violent death, raising the intriguing prospect that war and murder may not have existed in homo sapiens. Therefore, the less evolution, the better.
What do you think of that?

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.) I was partly -- (laughter) -- I was partly agreeing until you turned left. (Laughs.)

Next prediction, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly, quickly. Macro-predictions.

MR. BUCHANAN: Obama and Netanyahu will clash this spring or summer over whether we go to war on Iran.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: President Obama has injected a new urgency into the gun safety issue, and I think it is the next big civil rights movement in this country to make people free of the overriding horror of the kind of events we've seen too often.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Especially recently.

Susan.

MS. FERRECHIO: I say gun reform and immigration will be quickly dispatched with next year, and the actual issue that will dominate Congress will be tax reform and entitlement reform.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.

MR. PAGE: Climate change will gain even higher credibility this year.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: China is out. Europe is in. 2013, interest in Europe will undergo a renaissance -- not the Eurozone, but the European Union, the European culture and civilization -- London, Rome, Paris, Dublin, Berlin, Vienna, Barcelona, Athens, Moscow. The Asia pivot is out. The Europe pivot is in. Got it, Pat?

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.) I don't believe it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: New Year's resolutions. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Get at least one book on Nixon done this year. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Another one?

MR. BUCHANAN: One. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Get cracking on my memoir, and also continue to jog so I can stay healthy and continue to do combat. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Susan.

MS. FERRECHIO: Ensure that everything I put on Twitter is completely accurate.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You going to do a memoir?

MS. FERRECHIO: No.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?

MS. FERRECHIO: Nope.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: Write a book that responds to Pat Buchanan's last book.

MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.) Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: My New Year's resolution is to not have such a heavy foot when I'm accelerating vehicles.
We try to give it to you straight. We look forward to see you during the new year.

Bye-bye.

(C) 2012 Federal News Service

END