The McLaughlin Group
Host: John McLaughlin
Pat Buchanan, Author and Columnist;
Eleanor Clift, Newsweek;
David Rennie, The Economist;
Mort Zuckerman, U.S. News & World Report
Taped: Friday, May 10, 2013
Broadcast: Weekend of May 11-12, 2013
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JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Immigration Hurdles.
An overhaul of the nation's immigration law was front and center this week in the United States Senate. The 844-page immigration bill was brought forward by Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. Joining him were the seven other members of the self-denominated gang of eight, four Democrats and four Republicans.
On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee began considering the bill, with all of the proposed changes, over 300, to the original 800- page document. The amendments were filed by individual senators, prodded by hundreds of lobbyists.
As proposed, the bill would beef up border security and create a system to track visas of temporary workers and visitors, penalize employers who hire illegal immigrants, and grant the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants already in the U.S. a chance to gain legal status, and after some hurdles, citizenship.
This path to citizen for the not-yet-legals is one of the major sticking points and has many, most conservatives, up in arms. Case in point: A new study from the Heritage Foundation, a prominent think tank, estimates the bill's path to citizenship, more often called amnesty, for 11 million illegal immigrants would cost U.S. taxpayers $6.3 trillion.
The study argues that new immigrants over a period of 50 years would benefit from entitlement programs, including health, education, Social Security and others, amounting to $9 trillion, while contributing only $3 trillion to the U.S. economy; thus the $6.3 trillion gap.
Here's Jim DeMint, the former U.S. senator from South Carolina, and head of the Heritage Foundation.
FORMER SENATOR JIM DEMINT (R-SC, Heritage Foundation president): (From videotape.) That the average unlawful immigrant household will receive nearly three dollars in benefits for every one dollar in taxes paid under this amnesty provision.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Heritage's price tag was immediately blasted by Republican Senator Rubio, who attacked the legitimacy of the study.
SENATOR MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): (From videotape.) Let me just say the study is not a legitimate study. It's based over 50 years, number one. It overestimates the number of people that are going to be counted in the system. It includes 4 million kids that are already living here now.
A quarter of the costs are for, you know, traffic and police and firefighters and parks and roads, public services that are already being provided. Another quarter of the costs are on Social Security and Medicare, programs that, as currently structured, if they're not reformed, won't even exist in 10 years, much less 50. So the bottom line is I think the study, as everyone has pointed out, is deeply flawed.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Why is Senator Rubio so vexed by the Heritage Foundation study? Pat Buchanan.
PAT BUCHANAN: Because his entire career has been bet on this immigration bill, John. The Heritage Foundation study obviously is going to appeal to a tremendous number of conservatives. It will make them come -- go further, harder against the bill than they are right now.
And I think Marco Rubio's problem, John, is he's got himself on the side of amnesty and a path to citizenship, and you've got others, like Senator Cruz of Texas, who are taking the other side. There's going to be a war inside the Republican Party.
This bill will probably pass the Senate, but when it gets over to the House, I think it's going to be torn to pieces and I think the bill is going to fail. And Marco Rubio has bet his presidential hopes on this particular bill. And it started off very strong, but it is now moving the other way against him.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Six hundred billion dollars in new taxes.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, the -- John, the whole thing is -- the key thing is if you drop amnesty out of this bill, it's gone.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
ELEANOR CLIFT: We call it a path to citizenship, and it's earned, and it's over a period of no less than 13 years, which is not a giveaway in most people's minds. People who are assailing this as amnesty want to kill the bill and want to kill the bill in any form that it is. And I think Senator Rubio appropriately rejected this report. He's not alone. Most conservatives have pushed back very hard. Only the fringe of the fringe -- (laughs) -- are saying that this is a legitimate report.
MR. BUCHANAN: If Rubio's got your support, he's fine.
MS. CLIFT: The math is bogus. The math is bogus. It doesn't embrace dynamic scoring, which is something Republicans have always championed. And it asserts that the average IQ of immigrants is 10 points less than native-born Americans, and that will take generations to resolve. You know, where that comes from, I don't know. But that enough discredits this report.
So Rubio does see this as a ticket to the presidential sweepstakes, but he also sees it as a way to save his party, because if the Republicans can't come to terms with immigration reform, they're going to be condemned to marginalization for the foreseeable future.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: David Rennie, welcome. Do you think that this bill is loaded with pork, $150 million worth of pork?
DAVID RENNIE: Look, I think you can attack the pork for -- I mean, you're talking about the pork that people are saying is there for the pro-immigration groups. Frankly, I think there's a lot of pork for people who build border fences and arm border guards for the other side.
But I think on Senator Rubio, the reason that he was indignant, and correctly so, is that this supposedly conservative study actually painted this extremely pessimistic, unconservative view of America, because what it was basically saying is these immigrants are going to cost America a fortune, because if we give them the right to work legally, our betting is that for the next 50 years they're going to sit on welfare. They're not going to try and get jobs. They're not going to start companies. They're not going to try and improve their lot in life. What is that? The conservative vision of how immigrants function in America.
Senator Rubio knows from his own background that immigrants start businesses, that they're entrepreneurial, the kind of people who cross the world to come to America. They want the American dream, not to sit on welfare.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort, sections of this bill authorize $150 million over the next five years for groups like La Raza, Casa de Maryland and the American Immigration Lawyers Association to receive discretionary grants under the law, ostensibly to provide immigrant services. Is that pork?
MORT ZUCKERMAN: I don't think it's pork. Obviously it's one way of trying to help a whole population deal with the legal issues that they're going to have on their quest for citizenship.
But I want to go back to the other issue. There's no doubt but that the benefits that people of that income level and education level are significantly higher than the amount of income they bring in to the government. It's just going to be costly. It's certainly going to be true in health care. It's going to be true in terms of other kinds of compensation like unemployment compensation. And we really have a surplus of people who, in a sense, are, shall we say, less educated. We need people who are more educated.
I am not opposed to this, but I think we should understand health care and retirement and all. There's going to be a lot of additional costs, because if you look at the way the cost structure works in terms of revenue minus benefits, OK, you have a gap.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, there's --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute. Wait a minute.
MR. BUCHANAN: There are figures for this.
MS. CLIFT: Corporate America needed these workers real bad. And corporate America, agriculture -- our crops will rot in the fields if these people were not here.
MR. BUCHANAN: But Mort has a point. The average immigrant coming in as -- they start the first two years or so -- consume something like $30,000 a year in benefits and pay something like $10,000 a year. Now, if you take it out 50 years -- I mean, that's very hard to do.
But there's no doubt, given the extraordinary generosity and magnanimity of the welfare state with 50 million on food stamps, that folks coming in here poor and unmarried with kids, I mean, draw on the system and do not contribute cash to the system.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, and their children go to college and they create businesses and they do all kinds of things. You can't go out 50 years and condemn a whole bulk of people --
MR. BUCHANAN: Who's responsible for the mammoth deficits we have?
MS. CLIFT: -- (for ?) continued poverty.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Forget 50 years. Just take 10 years. I'm not saying it shouldn't be done, but you have to be aware that we are going to be incurring a lot higher costs compared to revenue than we were originally anticipating. It's built in. It applies today to that same population and --
MS. CLIFT: I thought they weren't paying taxes now.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let David in.
MS. CLIFT: And they will be paying taxes. I don't see where the balance sheet is as unbalanced as you think it is.
MR. RENNIE: But you're not -- this bill is not saying let's open the gates and let a new 11 million uneducated immigrants arrive and start handing them benefits. It's saying that these people are already here, and because they're in the shadow economy, they're not paying taxes. They're not paying Social Security.
If we give them a legal path and they're going to volunteer to pay their back taxes, these are the people that are going to step up and want to be identified because they want to enter the mainstream economy and start paying taxes, start paying Social Security. Their kids are responsible for the fact that America has --
MR. BUCHANAN: And they have a right --
MR. RENNIE: -- a high fertility rate.
MR. BUCHANAN: They have a right to bring in their dependents as well coming into this country.
Look, I mean, Mort's point is this. Look, there's no doubt about it; you bring in some kid who's graduated or got a Ph.D. from Harvard and he's from China, he's going to start contributing an enormous amount to the economy from day one. You bring someone, comes across the border, walks across. He's poor. They have a lot of grit and guts. But initially he and his family are going to consume.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but if you look at it only --
MR. BUCHANAN: They're not going to contribute on net.
MS. CLIFT: If you look at it only as an economic proposition, that person who comes in, we also need them in our fields picking crops. The businesses -- the magnet of -- the attraction of people coming into this country is jobs.
MR. BUCHANAN: Why don't they raise the pay of people picking the crops so Americans will do it?
MS. CLIFT: You try to figure that out. Get your buddies to raise the pay. I don't see how that happens.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the majority on this panel, absenting myself? I mean, is it worth the money?
MS. CLIFT: Yes.
MR. BUCHANAN: I'm -- well, I'm against -- look, I think you get amnesty for 12 million and you will get another 12 million in no time whatsoever.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What happened --
MR. BUCHANAN: It happened in the Reagan White House. We gave amnesty to 3 million. We got 12 million more.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What happened to the Statue of Liberty? "Give me your tired, your poor."
MR. BUCHANAN: Emma Lazarus.
MS. CLIFT: She's still there. She's still there.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: "Masses yearning to be free." What's happened to that mentality?
MR. RENNIE: But this isn't a charity case. We shouldn't see it as a charity case. I mean, I'm amazed by how --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, she was not talking about charity cases.
MR. RENNIE: Well, in some cases she was, and good for her. But I'm amazed at how -- I mean, I'm the non-American on this panel, but I thought America was about immigrants coming to this country and living the American dream --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, that's what the Statue of Liberty --
MR. RENNIE: -- and working hard and starting businesses.
MR. BUCHANAN: You've had periods of vast immigration, 1890 to 1920. Then you had zero immigration almost for 40 years so you can Americanize these folks, put them in school, educate them, bring them up --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you've heard of the -- you've heard of the H1 visas, haven't you?
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, listen, this bill has a million new immigrants coming in per year, not to mention --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We'll be back -- we will be revisiting --
MS. CLIFT: We're not going to shut the gates.
MR. BUCHANAN: Why not?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We're going to revisit this several times.
Issue Two: The $30 Trillion Deal.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: (From videotape.) And tonight I'm announcing that we will launch talks on a comprehensive transatlantic trade and investment partnership with the European Union.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Within two weeks after the president uttered these words in his State of the Union address, it was announced in a joint statement that the European Council and the European Commission had adopted, quote, "internal procedures necessary to launch negotiations on a transatlantic trade and investment partnership," unquote.
The prospect of an EU-U.S. free trade agreement, FTA, was described by EC President Jose Manuel Barroso as a, quote-unquote, "game changer." It would create, quote-unquote, "the largest free trade zone in the world." Mr. Barroso says that major effort and political will would be needed to make EU and U.S. rules and regulations compatible.
On Monday of this week, two congressmen, Erik Paulsen, Republican of Minnesota, and Richard Neal, Democrat of Massachusetts, jointly said that, quote, "members on both sides of the aisle were excited to hear the president mention the importance of trade during his State of the Union address, and they welcomed his notification to Congress that he intended to launch negotiations towards the TTIP, the Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership," unquote.
The congressmen want the relationship between the United States and Europe to become stronger. Here's their formula for enlarging investment opportunities. One, eliminate the tariffs that tax companies. Two, liberalize cross-border trade using the advantages of the Internet. Three, expand access, namely government procurement markets. Four, build bridges between the regulatory approaches of Europe and of the U.S.
Doing the above would add at least $135 billion to the American economy each year, or $1,000 for each American family. So says the Center for Economic Policy Research in London. The congressmen point out that TTIP is a golden opportunity to generate jobs here in America and in Europe.
Trade officials on both sides of the Atlantic say that the political window to negotiate a free trade agreement between the U.S. and the EU will not be open long. In the past, Europeans have resisted a transatlantic trade agreement. Nevertheless, both sides are optimistic.
Question: I should say that I was led to this by the action taken by the two congressmen. Then I discovered that Lexington, in a two-week-old The Economist Magazine, speaks to this transatlantic tipping point, as you described it. I understand you wrote the piece under the pseudonym Lexington.
Tell us about the liberalization of global trade that will set in as a consequence of this.
MR. RENNIE: Well, look, to some people it may sound dull. To some people it may sound scary. But actually, this is one of those deals that really is -- it should be a no-brainer. I mean, most trade deals, you worry that, you know, maybe if we open our markets to China or to these countries in Asia, they have these cheap workers. They will undercut American jobs.
That's not how it works. Europe and America, you know, they have high wages on both sides. They both worry about environmental rules on both sides. And the trade across the Atlantic is gigantic. I mean, the trade with China gets all the headlines because it's growing so fast. But actually, the trade across the Atlantic between Europe and America is far, far larger than the trade between the United States and Asia. It's a third of all global trade.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What kind of money are we talking about?
MR. RENNIE: We're talking tens of billions -- we're talking a trillion dollars a year, I think, is the aggregate trade. It's a third of all global trade crosses the Atlantic. And these are the things that just should not be slowed down by -- you know, Ford Motor Company makes cars on both sides of the Atlantic. At the moment they have to design a different seat belt for both sides, a different bumper for both sides.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're talking --
MR. RENNIE: That makes no sense.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're talking about a third of the trade volume in the world.
MR. RENNIE: All global trade. A third goes across the Atlantic.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And you're talking about that being divided between the United States and Europe.
MR. RENNIE: If you add what comes out of this country to Europe and then what comes out of Europe back to this country, add that together --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is the --
MR. RENNIE: -- you get a third of all global trade.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is the state of play right now?
MR. RENNIE: The state of play is both promising and frustrating. The promising part is that, after years of kind of small-ball sort of timid thinking on both sides, the people at the very top of European governments, even countries like France, which are very wary of free trade, they need growth. They're drowning in debt. If they don't get growth, they're never going to get out of this debt trap. And this is one of the ways to have easy growth, so that the people at the very top, they're up for this. But they have to --
MR. BUCHANAN: John, let me tell you --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What are the political -- just a moment. What's the political window?
MR. RENNIE: It could be pretty short, because you have to have -- you know, elections are going on all the time in Europe. You know, Europe's in a very bumpy state. But the people at the very top, if they can stay on the big picture of what's at stake --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We're 18 months --
MR. RENNIE: -- (inaudible).
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We're 18 months from our next election.
MR. RENNIE: That's a reasonable window. The Americans talk about doing it on a single tank of gas.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think of these two congressmen advancing this for serious thinking on the part of both the administration and on the part of Congress?
MR. RENNIE: I think it makes sense. For a Democrat it makes sense, because the labor unions, normally they'd worry about low-cost competition.
That's not Europe's threat. The Republicans, they know that business interests are desperate for this stuff. Everyone wants to grow their markets.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you know we have Mort Zuckerman sitting right here?
Where do you stand on this issue, Mort?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I actually think it's one of the very few major- league economic programs that would benefit the United States and Europe. We need the larger markets. It's not going to be easy for some of the (countries ?), but this is the one way that I can think that both economies could grow between them and among them, and --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think it's a pipe dream?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, I think politically it's a pipe dream, but economically it's not a pipe dream.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think about these two congressmen advancing it as a serious matter?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think it is a serious -- it's a very serious matter. The question is, can you get it through the House?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think of the backing of the president behind the idea? He introduced it.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think it's a terrific idea, because it really literally will explode the opportunities for these two economies to work together and to really grow both of their economies.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, since --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: You would be able to spread your costs over a much larger sales base, be much more competitive.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Since the -- wait a minute. Since the State of the Union, a couple of months have elapsed. But he had someone inside the administration keeping it alive. Who was that?
MR. RENNIE: The key figure in terms of persuading President Obama late last year that the Europeans might be ready to do a deal is a guy called Michael Froman, who is one of his chief economic advisers.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He just got a new job.
MR. RENNIE: His new job is in charge of negotiating foreign trade pacts for the U.S. So that sends a pretty optimistic signal that the president wants to make this -- wants to make a real go of this.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So the president is a believer.
MR. RENNIE: The president is --
MS. CLIFT: Of course. He introduced it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And he has an apostle behind him, so to speak.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah.
MR. RENNIE: Exactly. And he has big people like Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany. She has told him this time the Europeans are serious. And President Obama listens to Angela Merkel.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Where do the French stand on this?
MR. RENNIE: At the very top, they say they're in favor. The problem is lower down you have the usual French concerns about, you know --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who is the big mover over there that can do something with this?
MR. RENNIE: Angela Merkel.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Angela Merkel.
MR. RENNIE: Angela Merkel is in charge of Europe right now.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Merkel has got to be the one. And if she's in favor of it, there's a chance, because all of Europe is dependent upon Germany and Angela Merkel. And if she moves in that direction, they can't oppose it.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, there's no big reason why this shouldn't fail, but there are lots of little reasons. It can get pecked to death by ducks. The Europeans don't like our bio-engineered food. It's hard to come to agreement on the accounting rules. And so this is going to be a battle when it should be a no-brainer. These are two friends, old Europe, and the U.S. is now well into middle age.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, wait a minute.
MS. CLIFT: We ought to be able --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I've got a question for you.
MS. CLIFT: -- to come together on this.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I've got a question for you, Pat. I think you'll like this. He raises the point in his piece that crucially there is China. This is a reason why to go forward.
MR. BUCHANAN: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Europeans tell Americans they wish to unite as standard setters for fear of becoming standard takers in an economic order controlled by emerging giants, one of whom, of course, is China.
MR. BUCHANAN: If you're going to have a free trade --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: China will compel us to move in this direction.
MR. BUCHANAN: If you're going to have a free trade deal, you do it with the Europeans. They're comparable with --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm not talking about doing it with China.
MR. BUCHANAN: Let me talk about --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm saying that China will --
MR. BUCHANAN: John, let me talk about the trade deals. In the last 20 years, the United States has run 10,000 billion dollars in trade deficits, OK? We run deficits with China, the EU, Japan, Canada. We lost one third --
MR. RENNIE: Trade with the EU is balanced. The trade with the EU is balanced.
MR. BUCHANAN: We lost one third of all our manufacturing jobs in the first 10 years of --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you hear him correct you just a moment ago?
MR. BUCHANAN: We lost 55,000 factories.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you hear him correct you?
MS. CLIFT: It's win-win with Europe.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What were you saying?
MR. BUCHANAN: What were you saying?
MS. CLIFT: It's win-win with Europe.
MR. RENNIE: The trade with the EU is balanced. There's no gigantic deficits.
They're basically balanced with the EU.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, look, this is a life preserver for Europe, which is sinking, John. I'm not all that against this.
MS. CLIFT: But they're sinking us.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You've been saying that Europe is sinking for the last three years.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, look, it's in the headlines now. They finally caught up.
MS. CLIFT: But they're sinking us, and so it's in our interest to give them a life preserver.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question.
MS. CLIFT: It saves us too.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Thus far -- quickly. Thus far this year, President Obama has spent most of his political capital on gun control, immigration and Benghazi. Should he refocus his insight and his efforts on this monumental U.S.-EU free trade agreement?
MR. BUCHANAN: He doesn't have to. He can get --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes or no. Yes or no.
MR. BUCHANAN: He can get Froman and people like that to do it.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, it's --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Froman. Give me a break.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Froman could propel him with his terrific intellectual background.
MR. BUCHANAN: Obama doesn't know anything about it.
MS. CLIFT: It's an inside --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's got a Ph.D.
MS. CLIFT: It's an inside game. The trade rep can handle it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.
MR. RENNIE: Yeah, of course. This is not a bailout for Europe. This is Europe offering to buy more American stuff. How could you hate that?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I agree.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think --
MS. CLIFT: (Inaudible.)
MR. BUCHANAN: (Inaudible.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We're all in agreement --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think Obama --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- except Buchanan.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Obama has to have an economic --
MR. BUCHANAN: I'm not against this thing, John.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, it doesn't sound like you're for it.
MR. BUCHANAN: No, as a trade deal --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're suspicious of everything.
Issue Three: Benghazi-gate?
GREGORY HICKS (former U.S. deputy chief of mission, charge d'affaires in Libya): (From videotape.) I think it's the saddest phone call I've ever had in my life. He told me that Ambassador Stevens had passed away.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Diplomat Gregory Hicks is a State Department veteran of 22 years. He testified to Chairman Darrell Issa's House oversight Committee this week that is investigating the events in Benghazi, Libya on the night of September 11, 2012, seven months ago, when the U.S. consulate was attacked. Armed militants set fire to the compound and killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens.
Second in command was Gregory Hicks, and he was stationed in Tripoli, 400 miles away. On Wednesday of this week, in six hours of testimony, Mr. Hicks described point by point the actions that unfolded that night, including frantic phone calls -- Tripoli, Washington, Benghazi -- and the frantic brainstorming on how to execute a rescue mission.
Hicks described the chosen plan: A four-man Special Operations team flown from Tripoli to Benghazi. But Hicks said that the team, led by Lieutenant Colonel Gibson, was intercepted and told by higher- ups in Washington to stand down.
MR. HICKS: (From videotape.) Lieutenant Colonel Gibson was furious. I had told him to go bring our people home. That's what he wanted to do.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mr. Hicks also said he personally briefed via phone Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the night of the attack.
Question: How much have the Benghazi revelations done to erode Hillary's credibility?
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: You know, I think it's a serious problem that we're going to have to look into. I don't think it's really undermined her credibility. In some fundamental sense, these decisions were not made by her, to the best of my understanding of the way the story broke. But there's something wrong in terms of the way it happened and the way that these representatives and diplomats were just left hanging. And ultimately we lost four of them.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, the problem is this. The initial report from the CIA about what had happened was very, very accurate. There are extremists. Ansar al-Dine people may be involved. And they all -- I mean, and they sent that over to State.
And we now learned at the end of this past week that State apparently scrubbed out almost all mention of terrorists, of al-Qaida and the rest of it, and focused heavily on the video having caused it. And it turned into a lie. And that is the problem now.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but the question --
MR. BUCHANAN: And it was turned in there -- somebody said we did it for the benefit, basically, of the building's leadership.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We've got to explain this a little bit. The video he's referring to is the video that was done by --
MS. CLIFT: It was a YouTube --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- an anti-Islamic.
MS. CLIFT: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, if you want to see more on this, then you should read -- who's the panelist from the show from the National Review?
MS. CLIFT: Rich Lowry.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Rich Lowry did a splendid piece on this in yesterday's New York Post, describing what this video is about. It's extremely vulgar and extremely distasteful.
MS. CLIFT: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But he --
MS. CLIFT: But there are indications --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He made the point you can't pin it on that video.
MS. CLIFT: Right. That's right.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: No --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It doesn't stand up as a reason.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Nobody believes that the cause of this was the video.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, then it's a falsification presented by the administration.
MS. CLIFT: Well, we're talking about how --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Obama was awakened early in the morning.
MR. BUCHANAN: Susan Rice.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He gave a brief statement on it, saying practically nothing, on the East Lawn. Then he took off on a plane to Las Vegas. Was that what happened?
MR. BUCHANAN: Susan Rice went on national television --
MS. CLIFT: That's not an issue. (Laughs.)
MR. BUCHANAN: -- on five shows and said the video did it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The issue is he didn't want to talk about it.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yeah.
MR. RENNIE: But this is spin, not murder. This is not dereliction of duty. It's spin, and it's ugly, and it will get uglier still. But it isn't that. We haven't discovered this week that they could have sent a team that would have saved their lives.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you see the --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: (Inaudible.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you see the rather oddball show done by "60 Minutes" with two people, the president and the secretary of state, for about pretty close to an hour? Did you see that show?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I missed that show.
MS. CLIFT: That was when Hillary had announced she wasn't going to serve a second term, and it was sort of valedictory on both their parts. I don't know what that has to do with your discussion about Benghazi.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Because my recollection is it occurred in the wake of what we're describing here.
MS. CLIFT: Well, that's a real conspiracy theory, John.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Pat.
MR. BUCHANAN: Before the year is out, Hillary Clinton will be called to testify again on Benghazi before a select committee of Congress.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: I don't think she'll answer the call. But if she doesn't run for president, the Democrats have a strong bench, beginning with -- strong bench of women, beginning with New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and California Attorney General Kamala Harris.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: She's got to answer that call or she'd ruin her own political career.
MR. RENNIE: By the end of this year, Syria will have melted down. That'll be what we're talking about.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: The Congress is going to pass major legislation to provide additional cybersecurity on all of the stuff that's going on on the Internet.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What does that mean?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: It means it's being ripped off in every kind of conceivable way, and --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So Congress is going to get off its butt.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's right. And they should.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I predict that next year Republicans will become the majority in the United States Senate.
Happy Mother's Day. Bye-bye.
(C) 2013 Federal News Service