The McLaughlin Group
Host: John McLaughlin
Pat Buchanan, Author and Columnist;
Eleanor Clift, Newsweek;
Tim Carney, Washington Examiner;
Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune
Broadcast: Weekend of January 19-20, 2013
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JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Presidential Myth Making.
President Obama arranged a 12th hour New Year's deal to elude the fiscal cliff. Republicans and Democrats both consented to the deal. Now neither party is happy with the outcome. Democrats complain that Obama caved, because the president's plan allows George W. Bush's tax cuts to become permanent for those making less than $400,000 a year.
These Democrat critics fear that Obama's second term, instead of being, quote-unquote, "bold," will be as, quote-unquote, "cautious" as his first term.
And on the right, Republicans moan and groan and say that Obama is imperious, even demeaning, in the way he deals with House Speaker John Boehner.
Hold on, says columnist Gideon Rachman. We expect too much of Obama, he says, because in the United States we subscribe to the, quote-unquote, "myth of the imperial presidency."
Other transformational Democratic presidents, such as FDR and LBJ, Rachman says, had substantial Democratic majorities in both the Senate and in the House to enact their landmark legislation. Obama, in contrast, has had to work with a narrow Democratic majority in the Senate and with an opposition party, the Republicans, in control of the House for the two years since January 2011.
Well, what about Ronald Reagan, president of the United States two successive four-year terms? On the domestic front, President Reagan enacted a major economic recovery package, followed by an overhaul of Social Security. And in his second term, Reagan gained a major tax reform.
On the defense front, Republican President Reagan, again with the help of the Democratic majority Congress, presided over a major increase in the defense budget, including strategic and tactical nuclear missile buildups that were opposed by millions of protesters here and abroad.
Also Commander in Chief Reagan gained secret aid for freedom fighters in Central America; the, quote-unquote, "contras." In his second term, Reagan negotiated a nuclear arms control treaty with our then-Cold War archenemy, the Soviet Union. It was ratified by a Democratic Senate.
Question: If Republican Reagan could work with Democrats controlling both the House and, for two years, the Senate, why can't President Obama, a Democrat, achieve more with Republicans, who control the House, and his Democrats control the Senate? Pat.
PAT BUCHANAN: John, there's a lot of myth about Tip O'Neill and Ronald Reagan working together. They did not. Ronald Reagan --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You saw the pictures. (Laughter.)
MR. BUCHANAN: They did not. Look, in Reagan's first term, you know who he worked with? He had a Republican Senate by 10 votes and he had a Democratic House that had 40 guys in it called Blue Dog Democrats and Danny Rostenkowski of Chicago. These are the guys he worked with on his economic package.
I went into the White House in 1985, John. Reagan had won 49 states. And they beat him again and again on contra aid. He fought for it. He finally got that through. We had to fight to get the MX missiles through. And in `87, when the Democrats took over the Senate --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the point?
MR. BUCHANAN: The point is, when the Democrats took over the Senate, they not only "Borked" Robert Bork; they almost got Ronald Reagan -- attempted to impeach him. The point here is we had Democrats for six years in that House we could work with, and Tip O'Neill was not the leader of that Democratic Party.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm not talking about a zero-sum game. I'm saying that, all things considered, he had remarkable success --
MR. BUCHANAN: He had --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- in dealing with Democrats.
MR. BUCHANAN: He had -- no, he didn't. He had --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: De facto success.
MR. BUCHANAN: He had successes --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You just saw the record.
MR. BUCHANAN: He had success in bringing the Blue Dogs, whose congressional districts he carried by huge margins.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.
MR. BUCHANAN: They came with him. The rest of the Democrats fought him every single year --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He nevertheless got the majority vote. He got the legislation passed. He got the deals cut.
ELEANOR CLIFT: Yeah, John is right. It doesn't matter how you put the coalition together. If you win in the end, you've won. And Reagan and Tip O'Neill both understood the value of marketing this relationship they had. They probably had a cigar together maybe two times in eight years, but they put those pictures out. And they wanted the world to know that these two Irishmen could get along. It was a very valuable marketing tool.
And you could add another example to that; President Eisenhower, who worked with Democratic leaders Lyndon Johnson and Sam Rayburn. I talked to Steve Hess, Brookings scholar, who was actually a young aide in the Eisenhower White House. He said Eisenhower was deeply skeptical of Rayburn and LBJ, but he knew that to make things work you had to have this getting along.
But the key difference here is Johnson, Rayburn, Tip O'Neill, they could deliver on Capitol Hill. This president does not have a partner in the House who can deliver.
And in the Senate, the Republicans have abused the filibuster and ground progress to a halt.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How did Nixon describe Eisenhower?
MR. BUCHANAN: Describe Eisenhower? He was devious.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He was the most devious person that Nixon had ever known.
MR. BUCHANAN: But, you know, you've got Rayburn --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Then, when he was confronted with that -- how can you say that? -- he said, well, I mean that in a positive sense.
MR. BUCHANAN: I meant it in the most positive way.
TIM CARNEY: The difference between Reagan --
MS. CLIFT: They could work together.
MR. CARNEY: Reagan was not actually -- and this is what Pat was saying -- Reagan was not actually dealing with a House majority; that there was a majority of conservative members in the House, if you add together the Republicans and the conservative Democrats. And what we've had is ideological sorting since then. The parties used to be more geographical. They were still based on old feuds in the Civil War.
Nowadays, if you're a conservative, you're a Republican. If you're a liberal, you're a Democrat. So Obama's up against an actual majority of conservative House members. Reagan didn't have to face a majority of liberals.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How do you account --
CLARENCE PAGE: You look disappointed, John.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How do you account for President Obama's failures in the area of negotiating skills? Why doesn't he have negotiating skills? Why --
MR. PAGE: He's got negotiating skills.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think he does.
MR. PAGE: Yeah, I think he does. I know he does. But you know what the problem is? What I can add to my colleagues here is that the current House is controlled by Republicans who don't want to get things done, whereas Reagan had Republicans and Democrats who did want to get things done. They wanted to turn out legislation. So Tip O'Neill and Reagan could deal, and Reagan could get some of what he wanted and O'Neill got some of what he wanted.
But the problem is the Republicans in the House now are quite committed -- well, the tea party wing is really preventing anything from being produced. And they go back home and brag about it, that they blocked up legislation --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Am I not correct --
MR. PAGE: -- that they blocked up taxing and spending.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Am I not correct in saying that Obama first delegated to Harry Reid, and when McConnell felt frustrated that Reid wasn't serious, Obama then delegated fiscal-cliff dealings to Biden?
MR. PAGE: OK.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In other words, Obama announced this was the way it's going to be, and he thought this was the way it was going to be, or he -- you know, that's his assumption going in. He's not a negotiator.
MR. PAGE: Well, he --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's a lecturer.
MR. PAGE: He is not an LBJ type who goes out there and grabs lapels and talks to everybody individually --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I don't think he likes to negotiate.
MR. PAGE: -- and pushes things through.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think he feels he has the answer. He's thought about this. This is the way it is. He's got a very high IQ. We all admit to that.
MR. PAGE: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And he's gifted in many ways. But he's got the answer.
MR. PAGE: He actually --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And you've got to conform to him. If you don't conform to him --
MR. PAGE: Actually, one of his big problems going in --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- then let Joe Biden do it. Huh?
MR. PAGE: One of the big problems going in was he would negotiate by giving away too much right away. He's trying to avoid doing that now.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, how can you say if you don't conform to him, it doesn't work, when you set this whole thing up saying that Democrats --
MR. CARNEY: He's --
MS. CLIFT: Excuse me; let me finish -- that the Democrats say he gives away too much? You've got this narrative now being advanced. The Republicans are trying to shift blame to Obama, saying he doesn't socialize enough. He doesn't pay enough attention to their tender egos.
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let Tim in.
MS. CLIFT: That is total nonsense.
MR. CARNEY: Not only is he an introvert, which can be --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who is?
MR. CARNEY: Obama.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.
MR. CARNEY: Yeah. President Obama is an introvert, and that can be a virtue. But also he too frequently goes and insults the motivations of the Republicans he's dealing with. On gun control he said, oh, well, maybe it's because you just care about people buying more guns. If there's an economic aspect -- he did this --
MS. CLIFT: He said that about the NRA.
MR. CARNEY: He did this on the health care.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Inaudible) -- opposition all the time.
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MR. CARNEY: He did that on health care, too, where he said --
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let him finish.
MR. BUCHANAN: Before 2010, Obama got just about everything he wanted because he had a liberal House --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes.
MR. BUCHANAN: -- and he had a liberal Senate.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes.
MR. BUCHANAN: And he got it.
MR. PAGE: That's why health care sailed on through. Right, Pat?
MR. BUCHANAN: He now has a --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's correct.
MR. BUCHANAN: He now has a conservative party controlling the House of Representatives, and he can't get it because it's a bloc --
MR. PAGE: He couldn't get a second stimulus, couldn't get --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question --
MS. CLIFT: The Republicans are divided. They're as divided as this panel.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No one in Washington is blameless for gridlock. But which is more to blame for the lack of political compromise, the House Republicans, the Senate Democrats, or the White House?
MR. BUCHANAN: The House Republicans and Barack Obama profoundly disagree on the direction of the country. They disagree on moral, cultural, fiscal and social issues. That's why you've got gridlock.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I don't want a divided answer. I want who is the bigger or biggest culprit?
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, Obama proposes and they reject.
MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.) See, you can't bear to say it's the Republicans' fault. The tea party Republicans are obviously the fault in the House. And the Senate Republicans bear the brunt of abusing the filibuster to the point where they've used it 385 times while Reid has been the leader. It was used once when Lyndon Johnson was the speaker, and that was for the great civil rights battles.
MR. CARNEY: Harry --
MS. CLIFT: It's a total misuse and abuse of power.
MR. CARNEY: Harry Reid should not get a free pass. Harry Reid has done -- has prevented Republicans from ever offering amendments on a lot of these important votes. His management of the Senate is imperious. And when Republicans have allowed things to move to a vote and not filibustered them, he still prohibited Republican amendments. So Reid bears at least half the blame for what's going on in the Senate.
MS. CLIFT: When Republicans allow things to proceed to a vote -- I mean, this is a democracy. It shouldn't work that way.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In his biography, Obama says that he likes -- he liked Ronald Reagan and he likes Ronald Reagan, you know, historically speaking.
MR. BUCHANAN: Transformational president.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How far removed from Ronald Reagan is he in terms of his ability to deal?
MR. CARNEY: Well, I mean, first of all, I think he's saying he liked Ronald Reagan. He wouldn't have liked Ronald Reagan had he been in the Senate at the time. But, no, I don't think he's as effective a leader at getting things done. And I thank God for that.
MR. PAGE: (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I don't like you qualifying his praise of Reagan. When he had that in the book --
MR. BUCHANAN: He called Reagan transformational.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- it sounded to me like it was enormously insightful.
MR. BUCHANAN: He called Reagan transformational and FDR transformational, both of who were.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They could deal.
MR. BUCHANAN: But John, Reagan had a House he could work with.
MR. PAGE: Well, Tim just said it.
MS. CLIFT: That's right.
MR. PAGE: Tim just said it. Tim is delighted that nothing's getting done.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I gave you the outline of the -- huh?
MR. PAGE: Tim's delighted that nothing's getting done, and so are most of the House Republicans. That's the big problem there.
MR. CARNEY: I don't want any global warming -- the taxes on coal and all that stuff.
MR. PAGE: So, you know --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean he supports status quo.
MR. PAGE: Well, that's what the House Republicans do is support the status quo. And the Senate Republicans, they have 385 vetoes, or rather filibusters. That says it all right there.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I think it was pretty clear --
MS. CLIFT: This president has already achieved monumental things; an overhaul of the health care -- universal health care for starters. The second term he's going to get immigration reform, and I think he's going to get gun control too.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think Obama --
MS. CLIFT: (Inaudible.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think he's -- now, you've seen some of his selections so far; for treasury secretary and for defense secretary.
MR. PAGE: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that he's going to -- is Lew going to, you know, be playing some kind of a role whereby he's going to be able to let Obama become more of a negotiator?
MR. PAGE: I think that's one of Lew's strengths, that he does know Congress and that this will help Obama insofar as negotiating with Capitol Hill. We'll see.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Two: Malice in Mali.
FRENCH PRESIDENT FRANCOIS HOLLANDE: (From videotape; translation provided by Mr. McLaughlin.) This afternoon, French armed forces lent support to units of the Malian army to fight against terrorists. This operation will last as long as needed.
Last Friday France invoked United Nations Security Council resolutions and then intervened in the civil war raging in the North African country of Mali. The U.N. resolutions call for, quote- unquote, "rapid deployment of foreign troops" and was passed after Islamist rebels in the country's northern sector launched a military assault on southern Mali in a bid to take over the country.
The rebel forces include al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, abbreviated to AQIM. AQIM established itself in Mali following the overthrow of Muammar Qadhafi, Libya's strongman. AQIM has established strict Islamic law in northern Mali and destroyed dozens of ancient mosques and tombs in Timbuktu, a town of 54,000 people that the United Nations has declared a cultural heritage site.
French President Francois Hollande asked the U.S. to help France's military in Mali using manpower and drones.
Question: What's at stake for the U.S. in Mali? Eleanor Clift.
MS. CLIFT: Well, clearly we and the rest of the world don't really want the al-Qaida affiliate to establish its roots there. And the government is weak. It's not a democratic government. And so Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said that the U.S. government is willing to assist the French with logistics and intelligence.
And the drones you mentioned are not -- they would not be armed drones. They would be intelligence-gathering drones. But the French have taken the lead on this, and I think so far the U.S. is standing on the sidelines pretty much cheering them on, because it's an important mission.
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, we've sent 55,000 Americans there, according to the --
MR. BUCHANAN: What are you talking about?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Huh?
MR. BUCHANAN: No, you're not. This --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Fifty-five -- what is it? Fifty-five -- 550. I'm sorry -- 550 Americans over there.
MR. BUCHANAN: But, John, look --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And they are there not as soldiers. They are there to help with equipment and so forth.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, this is --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And to clarify, they're not military.
MR. BUCHANAN: This is an area -- the Azawad, northern Mali, is an area the size of Texas. And you've got this --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's twice the size of Texas.
MR. BUCHANAN: All right. You've got this Ansar Dine there and al-Qaida in there. And the French with 500 troops are not going to recapture that place. They're going to use air power. I'll tell you, the French are getting themselves into something, because if they go there and try to take that back, they're going to be in another guerrilla war, just like they were in Algeria.
MR. CARNEY: And the lesson -- and the lesson that we learn as we go back to Libya -- and there were warnings; if we go and intervene in Libya and help the civil war along and make sure that Qadhafi is overthrown, this will increase the flow of guns into places like Mali. It will increase the flow of refugees. And it creates this instability. And the AQIM organization was spawned in part during the civil war in Libya.
MS. CLIFT: So what are you arguing? We should do nothing --
MR. CARNEY: What I'm saying is --
MS. CLIFT: -- or we should do something? (Laughs.)
MR. CARNEY: -- that this showed that when we went into
Libya, people underestimated the cost. And this is one of the costs that we're seeing here.
MR. BUCHANAN: Blow-back.
MR. CARNEY: And so as we're going and looking at what we might do in Mali, yes, we can prevent lots of bad stuff from happening, but what are going to be the long-term costs?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's your understanding of how many al-Qaida are in Mali?
MR. PAGE: Between al-Qaida and al-Shabaab, a lot; that whole region, as Pat mentioned, under their control. It's the largest al- Qaida-held territory in the world right now. And that -- there's very little interest by either the French or us in going in there and taking them out. They're going to be there for a while, and even while President Hollande was saying we'll be out in a week, in talking to his own people. When I hear people say we'll be out in a week --
MS. CLIFT: Yeah.
MR. PAGE: -- we know what happens; Vietnam, Iraq and other places.
MR. CARNEY: And the White House said that about Libya.
MS. CLIFT: But, you know, this is the balance --
MR. PAGE: Yeah, we'll be out in a week. Yeah, exactly.
MS. CLIFT: This is the balance that the administration is faced with in a lot of places. You can't withdraw and just look on and do nothing. You don't want to go in with boots on the ground. We don't want to commit to another war. So you take these half-measures.
MR. BUCHANAN: But the --
MS. CLIFT: And, you know, you don't know how they're going to turn out.
MR. BUCHANAN: One of the half-measures --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait till a couple of those Americans --
MS. CLIFT: That's appropriate.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- are killed over there by AQ --
MR. BUCHANAN: Not only that, John. Wait till they start blowing up cafes in Paris. Secondly, what they're going to try to do is get the Africans nearby --
MS. CLIFT: Well, Pat always go to apocalypse.
MR. BUCHANAN: They're going to get the African states nearby to do it. But they've got little 500-man components. That is too large a place to take with those few troops.
MR. PAGE: Right.
MS. CLIFT: Well, Panetta says that they are of no threat, the people there, to the U.S., to the homeland.
But this is the time that you have to begin to try to cut them off at the pass. So --
MR. CARNEY: And what is the blow-back going to be? Again, I think you're going to see the blow-back in Paris --
MS. CLIFT: Well, you get the blow-back --
MR. CARNEY: -- hopefully not here.
MS. CLIFT: -- in the future or you get it now. You can't just not do anything. I mean, it's fine to sit --
MR. BUCHANAN: Why not?
MS. CLIFT: It's fine to sit and --
MR. BUCHANAN: Why not?
MS. CLIFT: Because this is an ally that went in there. And we are threatened by --
MR. BUCHANAN: But as Tim said, they went in there because we threw them out of Libya.
MR. BUCHANAN: We threw them out of Libya and they went there.
MS. CLIFT: I'm not an isolationist like you guys.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well --
MS. CLIFT: You've had the luxury to sit there and --
MR. BUCHANAN: The Tuareg rebels were in Libya, and we drove them out, with all this equipment. And then Ansar Dine overthrew the Tuareg rebels, their former allies. Our guys we trained in Bamako, which is the capital. They overthrow the government there.
MS. CLIFT: Pat, I'm impressed by your knowledge of all these cities.
MR. BUCHANAN: It's a disaster.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you approve of 5,500 Americans being over there?
MR. BUCHANAN: I don't -- I mean, look, if Americans are helping the French, you've got to help the French in what they're doing.
MS. CLIFT: Exactly.
MR. BUCHANAN: But the French better watch what they're doing.
MR. PAGE: Right. The problem is that, just like with Afghanistan, we could -- by leaving al-Qaida alone over there, they wind up attacking us. And so you can't just leave them sitting out there in Mali forever. I'm sure we're going to have constant surveillance. But beyond surveillance, you've got to take some kind of action eventually.
MR. CARNEY: And we do have to wage war on al-Qaida, and that might be what we're doing there.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think --
MS. CLIFT: And those drones might eventually be armed.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know, we've heard talk that al-Qaida has kind of disappeared from the scene, and we don't have to worry that much about al-Qaida anymore. It's been mothballed. Does this give the lie to all of that?
MR. PAGE: It's not a lie, John.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Inaudible) -- operation?
MR. PAGE: It's not a lie. You're talking about al-Qaida central, what we used to call it. But al-Qaida is still alive and well in different factional groups like AQIM and al-Qaida in the Saudi Peninsula. Around the planet you've still got Islamic militant movements out there, either al-Qaida or --
MR. BUCHANAN: And you could wind up with one in Syria.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's get a little erudition going here. It's twice the size of Texas; literacy rate, 46 percent; life expectancy, 52 years. Government -- it's a republic. The chief of state is a --
MR. BUCHANAN: Formerly a republic.
MR. CARNEY: Yeah, it was a democratically elected leader who was thrown out in a coup.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It was described as a republic by the CIA in this country.
MR. BUCHANAN: They overthrew the guy.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Chief of staff, five-year term, elected; legislature, unicameral; political parties, many. I count at least 15. GDP per capita -- what do you think it is?
MR. BUCHANAN: Per capita? Probably a thousand dollars.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A thousand three hundred, Pat. You're still with it, Pat.
MR. PAGE: Well done.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Manpower fit for military service, men and women, dominantly female, about 4 million -- 4 million fit. And airports with paved runways -- how many? How many airports with paved runways in Mali?
MR. PAGE: Three? Three?
MS. CLIFT: One.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eight.
MS. CLIFT: Eight?
MR. PAGE: Eight of them. OK.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you know how many we have with paved runways?
MR. PAGE: I underestimated.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you know how many?
MR. BUCHANAN: U.S.? Probably 10. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's because (of pavement ?).
MR. BUCHANAN: John, the government has been overthrown by the military guy we trained. He grabbed power.
MS. CLIFT: Well, and Secretary Panetta said that the U.S. is not in a position to train the Mali military because it's not a democracy.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)
MS. CLIFT: They've got to have an election first.
MR. BUCHANAN: They defected to the al-Qaida --
MS. CLIFT: Right.
MR. BUCHANAN: -- all the guys we trained.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, are we doing this because of France, or are we doing it because we know al-Qaida is --
MS. CLIFT: We're doing it because ultimately there's a threat to the U.S. down the road. But France is an ally. And, yes, we're doing it because of France.
MR. PAGE: And these are --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Primarily because of France?
MS. CLIFT: Primarily --
MR. PAGE: Well, these are --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you remember what Lafayette did for the United States? What did Lafayette do for the United States?
MR. CARNEY: He helped us in the Revolution. But NATO does --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What did he do? What did he do?
MR. BUCHANAN: He was aide de camp to Washington.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What else did he do? Didn't he arrange for a visit --
MS. CLIFT: He helped --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- over to France?
MS. CLIFT: He helped with the architecture in Washington.
MR. BUCHANAN: He almost got his head cut off during the French Revolution. (Laughs.)
MR. CARNEY: NATO does not require us to help France or other allies in anything they're doing.
MS. CLIFT: It's not a requirement. It's --
MR. CARNEY: NATO has to do it -- if France is attacked, we help defend France. It doesn't mean --
MS. CLIFT: It's not a requirement --
MR. CARNEY: -- if France goes to war, we go to war.
MS. CLIFT: It's not a requirement.
MR. CARNEY: Yes.
MS. CLIFT: It's something that is felt between allies.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think we're going to gain anything from helping out Hollande?
MR. BUCHANAN: Obama doesn't want to get involved in this. You can bet on it. But I think we've got to help Hollande in terms of what we're doing right now.
MR. PAGE: And nothing gets done if the U.S. is not involved. But these are former French colonies, both Libya and Mali. They have an obligation and a cultural history that ties them to those two countries. But again, they don't do anything without the United States making a move --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know that the --
MR. PAGE: -- (inaudible) -- really a token force.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's the thin edge of the wedge.
MR. PAGE: Yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's the camel's nose in the tent.
MR. PAGE: Yes, I --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know what I mean? The camel goes in the tent.
MR. PAGE: Oh, yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And we're going to go into the Mali tent --
MR. PAGE: (Inaudible.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- with Hollande. Is that the name of the game?
MS. CLIFT: No, the camel --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The first thing that's going to occur to Americans when they see and hear this.
MS. CLIFT: The camel has been in the tent in Iraq and in Afghanistan. The camel is going to be very nervous --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you remember how we got started in Vietnam?
MS. CLIFT: -- (inaudible).
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you remember that?
MR. BUCHANAN: I certainly do -- 600 advisers, Eisenhower --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Six hundred advisers. The camel's nose.
Issue Three: Comrades? Nyet?
(Begin videotaped segment.)
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.
THEN-RUSSIAN PRESIDENT DMITRY MEDVEDEV: I understand. I transmit this information to Vladimir, and I stand with you.
(End videotaped segment.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In this candid exchange last year with outgoing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, President Obama was caught unawares, first on a microphone and then on camera.
The missile defense system referred to is the U.S. antimissile system based in Eastern Europe, reportedly being built to defend against Iranian rocket attack. The following day, Mr. Obama met with reporters to clarify what he meant by, quote-unquote, "flexibility."
Quote: "I think everybody understands that -- if they haven't, they haven't been listening to my speeches -- I want to reduce our nuclear stockpile. And one of the barriers to doing that is building trust and cooperation around missile defense issues. And so this is not a matter of hiding the ball. I'm on record," unquote.
Well, if Russian President Vladimir Putin got Obama's message, it didn't change his plans to expand and modernize Russia's nuclear weaponry; notably -- get this -- a new nuclear Borei-class submarine armed with 16 state-of-the-art Bulava ICBMs, intercontinental ballistic missiles.
The new sub has been christened Yuri Dolgoruki and is the first of eight such subs that Vladimir Putin plans to add to Russia's navy.
Question: Does Putin's defense buildup mark the beginning of a new cold war with Russia, yes or no? Clarence Page.
MR. PAGE: I'd say no. But Putin is -- he loves to play poker. And this looks like a bargaining chip to me. He's trying to get the rest of the world excited and notice that he's still there, that he's still in charge. But they can't afford to have another cold war. They couldn't afford the one they had before.
MS. CLIFT: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They can launch an ICBM from that submarine.
MR. PAGE: Yeah, they could do it back then and they can still do it, right. But this doesn't --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, this new Borei -- if that's the correct pronunciation -- submarine is really something else.
MR. PAGE: Oh, yeah.
MS. CLIFT: Well --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And it can fire as many as, I think, six --
MR. PAGE: But he needs more than one submarine in that navy, though.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Inaudible) -- Trident missile.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We're not talking about torpedoes.
MR. PAGE: He needs a lot more than one submarine, though, to get back up to a cold war-size navy.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's building a fleet.
MR. PAGE: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is the first in a fleet.
MS. CLIFT: Well, he fancies --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the story on that?
MR. PAGE: I think it's a bargaining chip.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah. He fancies himself --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, we have nuclear-powered submarines.
MR. PAGE: So I hear.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are those nuclear submarines --
MR. BUCHANAN: You have Trident -- you have Trident missile submarines and regular nuclear-powered submarines, which are attack submarines.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How many submarines are equipped with the potential --
MR. BUCHANAN: You've got about --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- of sending --
MR. BUCHANAN: I think you've got about 16 American Trident submarines. They're not all at sea at one time. But I think we've got around 60-some submarines. I may be wrong.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are we modernizing our ICBM fleet?
MR. BUCHANAN: No, I don't think we -- not at any rapid rate.
MS. CLIFT: Well, we're --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We are.
MR. BUCHANAN: Not at any rapid rate.
MS. CLIFT: We're repairing them so that --
MR. BUCHANAN: We're replacing, I'm sure.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah.
MR. BUCHANAN: But I don't think we're --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, that's not going to be front-page news in the New York Daily News.
MS. CLIFT: No. They're --
MR. BUCHANAN: But John, the point is we both have enough weapons --
MS. CLIFT: Right.
MR. BUCHANAN: -- to deter each other. Frankly, I think we're too tough on the Russians. We've got a lot of things. We've got to work with them on Iran. We've got to get all our stuff out of Afghanistan coming through there.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What else is he concerned about?
MR. BUCHANAN: He's concerned about the missiles.
MR. CARNEY: Putin pretends to be concerned that we're going to attack him, which is obviously ridiculous. Putin pretends to be concerned about American parents adopting Russian kids. You heard about this, right?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who else is becoming very powerful in the world?
MR. CARNEY: Us.
MS. CLIFT: China.
MR. CARNEY: China, yeah.
MS. CLIFT: China.
MR. PAGE: Right.
MS. CLIFT: Now, Putin --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is he concerned about China --
MR. CARNEY: I think he might be concerned --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and China's buildup?
MR. CARNEY: -- about China, but if you look at the rhetoric --
MR. BUCHANAN: He should be.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: China's buildup --
MR. CARNEY: -- it's anti-American.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- correct?
MR. BUCHANAN: He should be, because he's going to lose Siberia to China one of these days because his population is declining by a million people a year. That's what Putin ought to be worried about.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. I've heard you sing that song before --
MR. PAGE: (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- the declining population of Russia. Like what, another century?
MS. CLIFT: It'll be --
MR. BUCHANAN: No, they're going to lose 25 million more people by mid-century.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who says that?
MR. BUCHANAN: The U.N.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes or no answer: A bipartisan bill on immigration will be passed by Labor Day. Yes or no?
MR. BUCHANAN: No.
MS. CLIFT: Yes.
MR. CARNEY: No.
MR. PAGE: Yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why do you say that?
MR. PAGE: I'm an optimist. That's why. (Laughs.)
MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's the only reason? Nothing else?
MR. PAGE: Yeah, Labor Day. That's rational.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All intuition? The answer is yes.
(C) 2013 Federal News Service