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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP


 


HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN


 


JOINED BY: TONY BLANKLEY, ELEANOR CLIFT,


RICH LOWRY, AND LAWRENCE O'DONNELL


 


TAPED FRIDAY, JULY 16, 1999


AIRED THE WEEKEND OF JULY 17-18, 1999


 


.STX


 


 


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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: Barak's peace track.


 


ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER EHUD BARAK: (From videotape.) Both sides have suffered enough. It's about time to find a way to nurture mutual respect, a kind of partnership, and to make peace together.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Peace -- that's Israel's new prime minister, Ehud Barak, wants. Less than a week into his term, Barak convened with Yasser Arafat, whom Barak's predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu, failed to meet with for seven months, due in part to the then-pending May election.


 


Like Barak, Arafat also wants peace.


 


CHAIRMAN YASSER ARAFAT (Palestinian Authority): (Through interpreter, from videotape.) It's time to put an end to the cycle of violence and confrontation. It's time for the new dawn.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: At the summit with Arafat in the Gaza Strip last Sunday, Barak promised that Israel would live up to the principles of last October's Maryland peace accords, and that means giving up land in the West Bank. But Barak also said he will not move settlers from that disputed land. How can he do both?


 


The Barak-Arafat meeting came amidst a flurry of diplomatic trips abroad. But Barak found time even to say cordial things about Syrian President Hafez al-Assad, who was then in Moscow -- get this -- negotiating the purchase of $2 billion of Russian weaponry, mostly MiG-29 fighter planes.


 


This week Barak was on to Washington, D.C., to meet with the president. Clinton is still hunting for a legacy, and his participation as a key player in the revived Middle East peace process could fit that need. But surprisingly, Barak seemed to want to circumscribe Clinton's role.


 


PRIME MIN. BARAK: (From videotape.) I think that the United States can contribute to the process more as a facilitator than as a kind of policeman, judge, and arbitrator at the same time.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: America's role in the Middle East peace talk as a facilitator -- what kind of a shift does this signal, Tony Blankley?


 


MR. BLANKLEY: Well, it -- for the last couple of years, we've been more than a facilitator. We've been more active players -- now, Clinton says, because Netanyahu wasn't active enough.


 


I find this whole performance by Barak kind of interesting. He's coming out of the gate extremely confident. He's telling America what role to play. He's meeting with all the leaders. He's setting a time schedule for when he's going to finish all these negotiations. It strikes me that as able as he is, he may be overjudging how much he can accomplish.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?


 


MS. CLIFT: In good times, the U.S. doesn't have to prod and push. And the wind is at Barak's back. The president clearly would like a breakthrough. And two of the men you pictured, Yasser Arafat and Syrian President Assad, they are old men. The old men know that their successors will take years to acquire the kind of status and stature that you need to forge peace. The old men are going to have to do it now.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think that facilitator business was jointly contrived, the U.S. and Israel. And I think that it had a signal impact. Who were they sending a signal to?


 


MR. O'DONNELL: Well, Barak needs to send that signal to his right in Israel, which is always accusing very cooperative prime ministers who cooperate with Washington and being puppets to some extent. And so it's very important for him to get that message --


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, that's a good answer, but it's not the right one.


 


MR. O'DONNELL: No, I thought it was the answer --


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Inaudible) -- sending a signal to Arafat. They were saying to Arafat: "Okay. You have enjoyed the United States playing the rough -- cop, rather, with Netanyahu. Forget that. That's over. You have got to deal directly now with Barak."


 


MR. LOWRY: Well, John, what's happened here is the atmospherics have changed -- Barak is going to make nicer noises -- but the fundamentals have not changed at all.


 


And the administration is going to be sorely disappointed, if it isn't already, if it thinks Barak is going to be much easier to push around than Netanyahu. No Israeli prime minister -- it doesn't matter who he is -- is going to give us all the West Bank, is going to let the refugees return, is going to give up an inch of Jerusalem. Barak will be just --


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, isn't -- what you say --


 


MR. O'DONNELL: (Inaudible) -- pushed around. He doesn't have to be pushed around. This is a prime minister, unlike others, who got elected to make peace. That is his mandate. He will not have to be pushed around to do that.


 


MR. BLANKLEY: And interestingly, he got elected with the strong assistance of Clinton's campaign team.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What you say is largely true, Rich, but there is this difference about Barak: Barak is bold. And what he wants to do is jump ahead, more or less ignore the milestone set at Wye, and go right to the final peace talks.


 


MR. LOWRY: Well, right. That's what Netanyahu wanted to do, too, John. But this whole process --


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But he can get away with it.


 


MR. LOWRY: -- this whole process is a little screwy. The hardest thing for Israel to do is to make those troop withdrawals and give up the land. It's like pulling teeth. And he shouldn't do it gradually; he should do it in one fell swoop when everything is decided. And that is what Barak wants to do, and the administration should support that.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. Take a look at this, and I want to know whether this complicates the peace process. This is Mr. Clinton in Florida, talking to the Democratic National Committee about his upcoming visit with Mr. Barak: "I am eager as kid with a new toy, for the meeting I am going to have with the new Israeli prime minister this weekend"; "I am eager as a kid with a new toy." Some have interpreted that to mean that Clinton is saying that Barak is a play thing.


 


MR. O'DONNELL: No, no, no. He is saying we --


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Arab press is interpreting that way.


 


MR. O'DONNELL: -- everyone knows he has days left in his administration, wants to get this done in the next 18 months. And you know, Yasser Arafat perhaps has days left in his life. He wants to get it done, too.


 


MR. BLANKLEY: This is an unfair shot at Clinton.


 


But what's fair is that Clinton and his wife have become the Laurel and Hardy of Middle East diplomacy. First, Clinton says the Palestinians should be able to go anywhere they want. And then Hillary goes back and says Jerusalem's going to be the only -- the state for -- the capital of the country.


 


MS. CLIFT: You know, to suggest that --


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, I want to --


 


MS. CLIFT: -- wait a second.


 


To suggest that they are --


 


MR. BLANKLEY: And they both made a hash in their opening statements.


 


MS. CLIFT: To suggest that they are Laurel and Hardy makes you one of the "Three Stooges." (Laughter.) That is ridiculous.


 


MR. BLANKLEY: Well, maybe it's Gracie and --


 


MS. CLIFT: They are --


 


MR. BLANKLEY: Maybe Burns and Allen; would you prefer Burns and Allen?


 


MS. CLIFT: The U.S. president is still an advocate for peace in the Middle East. The Middle East can't proceed without American backing.


 


MR. BLANKLEY: But a stumbling advocate.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me get in here.


 


MR. BLANKLEY: Stumbling advocate.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Barak said he's not going to move the settlers. But the settlers are on land that belongs or has been assigned to the Palestinians. The answer to that is, there is a moratorium in place, but those settlers are probably in the bulk going to stay right where they are even after the peace settlement.


 


MR. O'DONNELL: He will move some settlers. That's what he's going to have to do. And the other side is going to have to agree to take less than what it has always sworn it needs.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question. Will a final Palestinian-Israeli peace agreement be signed before Clinton's second term expires? This is Palestinian-Israel. It doesn't include Syria, doesn't include Lebanon. I ask you, one word.


 


MR. LOWRY: No.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No.


 


MS. CLIFT: I would never use the word "final," but the Middle East is always good for some breakthroughs, and there will be at least one.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Palestinian-Israel, that's all. Yes or no?


 


MR. BLANKLEY: It requires reasonable conduct on both sides; no.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No.


 


MR. O'DONNELL: There's a 60 percent chance. I hope so.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is yes.


 


When we come back: It might work in Arkansas, but will Hillary's "humility tour" work in New York, or will New Yorkers see through her?


 


(Announcements.)


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two: Show me the money.


 


REP. BILL ARCHER (R-TX): (From videotape.) Even after we've taken care of Social Security, Medicare and our defense and domestic needs, the American taxpayer is still paying more in income taxes than the government needs to spend. That's not right. Americans shouldn't be working for Washington; Washington should be working for Americans. And cutting taxes is the only way to tip the scales and put them back in favor of the taxpayers.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's Chairman Bill Archer of the House Ways and Means Committee telling us what should be done with the new $1 trillion surplus that President Clinton unveiled last month; give 85 percent of it back to the American people. On Wednesday, Archer's committee passed his $864 billion tax cut on a straight party-line vote.


 


The highlight tax cuts and cancellations. One, income tax.


 


REP. ARCHER: (From videotape.) A 10 percent across-the-board tax cut for all American taxpayers who pay income tax.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Two, marriage penalty.


 


REP. ARCHER: (From videotape.) So our plan reduces the unfair marriage penalty tax for 42 million Americans.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Three, estate or death tax.


 


REP. ARCHER: (From videotape.) We bury the death tax.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Four, capital gains, individual and corporate.


 


REP. ARCHER: (From videotape.) It also includes major capital gains relief.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Five, alternate minimum tax.


 


REP. ARCHER: (From videotape.) We defuse the ticking time bomb of the alternative minimum tax.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The White House was quick to fault the Archer plan.


 


PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: (From videotape.) We should save Social Security and Medicare, meet our responsibilities to the next century before we go off talking about a tax cut.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But Archer has his answers and his numbers for each of Mr. Clinton's objections.


 


REP. ARCHER: (From videotape.) In fact, we have the ability to save Social Security, fix Medicare, pay down the debt and give the tax relief that will be in the bill that I am announcing today. And this chart clearly shows that. If you look at the Social Security surplus, which is walled off at $1.9 trillion, we can save Social Security with a number of plans. That leaves in the Social Security surplus an extra $600 billion for Medicare or to pay down the debt.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Whom do you believe on the numbers and the merits, Archer or Clinton? Rich Lowry.


 


MR. LOWRY: Well, John, I don't think the numbers or the projections are that important. All these projections 10 years out are baloney. No one's going to know what's going to happen. What's more important is the way you look at this money, and the way Archer is framing it is that this isn't just a surplus. This -- these are excess revenue payments. This money doesn't come from nowhere; it comes from hard-working Americans who have taken risks, who have sweated to earn this money and if we have a -- $3 trillion worth of money flowing into Washington, at least a trillion of it should be kicked back to American taxpayers.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You live in New York. Is it your feeling that the public does want a tax cut?


 


MR. LOWRY: I'll tell you. One of the reasons that tax cuts have not played well for Republicans recently is the public doesn't believe it. You know, you have Bob Dole talking about a tax cut, never running any ads in support of it, so they'd never think it's going to happen. So the tangible benefits the Clinton Talks about are much more -- (inaudible due to cross talk).


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you saying that because politicians don't fulfill their promises on making the tax cuts happen, that it's taken the luster off the tax cuts?


 


MR. LOWRY: Exactly right. They think it's just so much hot air and that's why it's so important for Republicans to fight on this. The Archer bill is basically a negotiating position where Republicans should fight on this one.


 


MS. CLIFT: Chairman Archer and Tony Blankley must have been watching old Laurel and Hardy movies together -- (laughter) -- if they believe that there's this much money out there. It's a totally irresponsible tax plan. The 10 percent across-the-board tax cut would give 30 percent of -- what it would give back, it would give to the top 1 percent --


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, what's wrong with that? (Laughter.) Do you know what the top 1 percent pays in terms of the total tax revenue?


 


MS. CLIFT: John, you're big enough to take care of yourself. (Laughter.)


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How about -- how about 95 percent? Comes from that 1 percent!


 


MR. BLANKLEY: Look, let me --


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why should they be deprived of a cut?


 


MS. CLIFT: Yeah, buy the economy is doing very well. You can't argue that the economy needs stimulating.


 


MR. BLANKLEY: Look, why --


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Inaudible) -- Eleanor.


 


MS. CLIFT: There's such a thing as overstimulation which would overheat the economy --


 


MR. BLANKLEY: Oh, okay.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh.


 


MR. BLANKLEY: Wait, wait. Let's get back to --



MS. CLIFT: -- (inaudible) -- and raising interest rates, and --


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, we got your point.


 


MR. BLANKLEY: Let's get back to the question. There's really not much difference in the calculation of where the money comes from. The difference is in how much savings are going to be in various Medicare calculations. The real question is, how much of the agreed-upon sum of money is going to be given to tax cuts -- Clinton's already up to 250 billion himself -- and how much to spending? He wants to spend more. Republicans want to spend less. I think there's going to be a lot of negotiation and compromise, but Clinton and the Democrats are going to be higher than you'd expect.


 


MS. CLIFT: Well, there's a big difference between two-fifty and eight. (Laughs.)


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are we overtaxed? You live in California. Are we overtaxed?


 


MR. O'DONNELL: I know you feel -- you're feeling overtaxed, John --


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are we overtaxed?


 


MR. O'DONNELL: -- but the fact of the matter is that every "overtaxed" complainer is actually making more money in this tax structure than they have ever made at any other time in their income stream --


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hey, yeah, that's an evasion of my question --


 


MR. O'DONNELL: -- in their lifetime income stream.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's an evasion of my question.


 


MR. O'DONNELL: This tax cut is absurd. It affects the top 5 percent --


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: As Archer said --


 


MR. O'DONNELL: -- and it does nothing to the bottom 90 percent.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Rubbish, rubbish. Read the tax plan.


 


MR. O'DONNELL: (Laughs.)


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I know you're so busy out in California, you won't to read anything --


 


MR. O'DONNELL: And by the way, none of this is going to happen.


 


MS. CLIFT: Right.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- you won't read anything --


 


MR. O'DONNELL: Don't spend a lot of time reading it, because none of it is going to happen.


 


MS. CLIFT: Right.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. Let me --


 


MR. LOWRY: The logic of your position is that if people make money, it's just -- automatically go to the government --


 


MR. O'DONNELL: I believe in progressive income taxation, and I believe -- (inaudible due to cross talk) -- reforms.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hey, Rich --


 


MR. LOWRY: The tax burden, under the Archer plan -- Larry, under the Archer plan, the tax burden does not change.


 


MR. O'DONNELL: I think we should have higher tax brackets.


 


MR. LOWRY: Larry --


 


MR. O'DONNELL: I think we should have brackets that go up over a million, 10 million, 100 million, and we don't.


 


MR. LOWRY: Larry, if you're making more than 200,000 -- the people who make over $200,000 today, they pay about 25 percent of all the taxes in the country. That will stay the same under Archer.


 


(Cross talk.)


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to ask Rich --


 


MR. LOWRY: Yes, it will. Yes, it will.


 


MR. O'DONNELL: (Inaudible due to cross talk) -- cuts.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to see if I can get some wisdom out of you on the subject of overtaxation.


 


MR. LOWRY: (Laughs.) You'd better try hard, John.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The surplus itself shows we're overtaxed.


a


MR. LOWRY: Of course it does.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If people send in more money than is used by the government, it ought to go back.


 


MR. LOWRY: The government does not need this money, and it will not be saved. It will not be spent to pay down the debt. Washington always spends the money. Republicans are trying like mad, the leadership, to stop their own appropriators from wasting this money.


 


MR. O'DONNELL: It doesn't always spend the money. That's why there's a surplus. If Washington always spent the money, there would be no --


 


MS. CLIFT: The surplus is a mirage to begin with.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The total national --


 


MR. LOWRY: The surplus is all projected, Larry; it's not sitting there now.


 


MS. CLIFT: The surplus is a mirage to begin with. The Congress can't live up to the budget caps they set. They keep breaking them, and it's taken --


 


MR. BLANKLEY: They haven't broken them. They have not broken them yet. Now they may break them --


 


MS. CLIFT: They're going to break them


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You realize that, Tony --


 


MR. BLANKLEY: They haven't broken them yet.


 


MS. CLIFT: They're going to break them, Tony.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on. Let's get to the core issue. The total national income in peacetime that goes to taxes is at an historic high today, 20.1 percent. When Reagan instituted his tax plan --


 


MR. BLANKLEY: Eighteen.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- it was about 19.1, and that's when he made the tax cut. Does that now show that that is an egregiously large amount of the percent that's going to taxes?


 


MR. BLANKLEY: This thing is ultimately a political question, and that's the calculation that politicians are making. I think Republicans think that the good politics is a bigger tax cut, but some new spending --


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will Clinton veto a tax cut along the Archer lines, including Roth -- Roth is at 792 (billion dollars), Archer's at 864 (billion dollars) -- if it reaches his desk?


 


MR. LOWRY: Clinton will veto a tax bill once, then he'll end up signing something with partisan support, around 500 billion.


 


MS. CLIFT: The across-the-board tax rate is dead. There will be a tax cut. The standard deduction will probably go up. There will be prescription drugs -- so Democrats will get spending, and Republicans will get some of their tax cuts.


 


MR. BLANKLEY: If the package, tax package, gets about 10 Democratic senators' vote, which I think around a $600 billion package could, then the president may ultimately have to sign that.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (To Mr. O'Donnell.) He's coming in at 600 (billion). He's coming in at 600 (billion). Where are you coming in at?


 


MR. O'DONNELL: Neither one of those packages has any chance of getting 10 Democratic votes in the Senate. Both of them would be vetoed instantly; no capacity to override that veto.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is at least a $600 billion tax cut.


 


Issue three: "Getting To Know You."


 


HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: (From videotape.) And I am starting a listening tour of New York. I expect to meet with, and hear from, a lot of New Yorkers and to have a chance to learn even more about what's on their minds. (Strains of "Getting To Know You.")


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Royalty is running for office, more like a queen than a politician. That was first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton this week, who spent her time, quote, unquote, "listening" in Westchester and Long Island.


 


But in Manhattan, Hillary reverted to the politician; she raised cash. And she was double-talking like a politician, too. Take this famous remark she made a year ago last May, about a Palestinian state.


 


MRS. CLINTON: (From videotape.) Well, I think that it will be in the long-term interest of the Middle East for Palestine to be a state.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That remark disturbed Jewish New Yorkers, a powerful overwhelmingly Democratic constituency. So earlier this month, Hillary sang a different tune, "I personally consider Jerusalem the eternal and indivisible capital of Israel with the United States' embassy located in its capital, Jerusalem."


 


Hillary's "indivisible" Jerusalem stance may get her Jewish votes in Manhattan, but her remarks were "untimely," as one senior U.S. official put it. Why? Because the final status of Jerusalem may be the most sensitive and inflammatory issue in the Middle East peace talks. Palestinians want at least a piece of Jerusalem as the capital of the sovereign state that Hillary endorsed.


 


Besides that faux pas, pragmatist Clinton also flip-flopped on her failed 1993 massive government health-care plan, saying now that she has concerns over cuts to New York teaching hospitals that her plan had called for.


 


Question: Will Hillary's changing of tune hurt her, Tony Blankley?


 


MR. BLANKLEY: Yes. No one changing of a tune is going to make a lot of difference, but she has a lot of tune-changing to do because she has a whole record as an adult of taking liberal positions that are too liberal for New York. And she is going to have to make a lot of changes, and collectively she is going to lose a lot of credibility.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why did the media coverage of her sour?


 


MR. O'DONNELL: It hasn't soured. The New York Post is going to go after her every single day because Rupert Murdoch doesn't want to her to win. But the coverage --


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And that is par on the Washington Post, your newspaper.


 


MR. O'DONNELL: -- but the rest -- (laughs) -- the rest of her coverage is actually quite favorable. She is doing a great job as a campaigner, and these flip-flops, which are not terribly dramatic, are far smaller than the flip-flops her husband has done as president.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Rich?


 


MR. LOWRY: No individual flip-flop really hurts her that much, but it does play into the opportunism charge, which is that here she is, she's running in a state where she doesn't live, she's saying things she doesn't really believe, and she's running for Senate not to represent New York so much as it is to represent her own views and get her own national -- place on the national stage.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?


 


MS. CLIFT: Excuse me! What does she not really believe? What does she not really believe?


 


MR. LOWRY: Jerusalem -- do you think she believes Jerusalem?


 


MS. CLIFT: I -- I --


 


MR. BLANKLEY: I'll tell you --


 


MS. CLIFT: Wait! Wait! Wait!


 


(Cross talk.)


 


MR. LOWRY: Eleanor, is she going to defend her health care plan?


 


MR. BLANKLEY: She doesn't believe in the welfare bill that she says she supported. She fought the Republican welfare bill tooth and nail --


 


MS. CLIFT: She says that she encouraged her husband to sign that.


 


MR. BLANKLEY: The final passage.


 


MS. CLIFT: She is a realist.


 


MR. BLANKLEY: She was opposed to the bill --


 


MS. CLIFT: Second of all, her approval --


 


MR. LOWRY: Do you think she should campaign on her health care -- on her health care plan?


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We've got to get out.


 


MS. CLIFT: Second of all, her approval rating among American Jews is 73 percent.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We've got to get out.


 


MS. CLIFT: AIPAC, the leading Jewish lobbying organization, endorses, supports the idea of a Palestinian state. There are people out there who understand reality, and Mrs. Clinton is one of them.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Excuse me, we've got to get out. I just want to point out that in the polls, Hillary is trailing Giuliani by six points, after having led Giuliani in January six months ago by 11 points.


 


Exit question. Be quick. Assign a letter grade from A to F to Hillary's senatorial exploratory maiden voyage.


 


MR. LOWRY: I'd give her a B. She has genuine star power. But the problem is, the more she listens, the more her numbers go down.


 


MS. CLIFT: A-plus. And Giuliani may not even run against her! (Laughs.)


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.


 


MR. BLANKLEY: B-plus.


 


MR. O'DONNELL: A-plus, but it might not be enough to win it.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A-minus.


 


Issue four: Breaking away.


 


SEN. BOB SMITH (R-NH): (From videotape.) The Republican platform is a meaningless document that has been put out there so suckers like me, and maybe suckers like you out there, can read it. I've decided to change my registration from Republican to Independent.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Please, Bob, no sugar-coating. That's how Bob Smith, the New Hampshire Senator and presidential candidate, split from the Republican Party this week to run as an independent. Could that spell trouble for GOP front-runner George Walker Bush? An independent candidate certainly didn't help Bush's dad, George Herbert, in '92. Back then, challenger Ross Perot won 19 percent of the popular vote, mostly by siphoning off conservative votes from Bush Senior.


 


Question: Should Bush worry about Smith or any other independent third-party candidate?


 


I ask you, Rich.


 


MR. LOWRY: No, he shouldn't worry about Smith per se, he should worry about what it says about the mood among some conservative activists. Bush's positions aren't the problem, but I think activists want to see him fight -- to get involved in the tax fight.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor? Quickly.


 


MS. CLIFT: Smith could be the pebble that starts the cascade; what does Gary Bauer do, what does Pat Buchanan? On the other hand, he may just be a pebble! (Laughs.)


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?


 


MR. BLANKLEY: Yes, inside or outside of the party, right now no opposition to Bush is getting any traction. As long as that maintains, as long as Bush's campaign runs well, it doesn't matter.


 


MR. O'DONNELL: Smith is nothing to worry about, but you always have to worry about the Reform Party and what Ross Perot is going to do.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, but -- this is all true, what you're saying, but Bush has a worry, and his worry is Forbes. Forbes is already -- Forbes spent in the last presidential election $38 million, which is, I guess, the war chest of Bush today, which is why Bush recently said this:


 


GOV. GEORGE BUSH (Candidate for Republican presidential nomination): (From videotape.) I'm competing in a primary against somebody who can write one check. And I'm mindful of what happened in 1996. And I'm not going to let it happen to me.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's talking about Forbes and what Forbes did to Dole. Do you think he's on the right track in rejecting government matching funds?


 


MR. O'DONNELL: He is on the right track, and it has to be scary to Forbes, who does not, in fact, have an unlimited amount of money. He may well spend less this time around because he knows he's a loser.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We'll be right back with predictions.


 


(Announcements.)


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Rich?


 


MR. LOWRY: Republican Senator from Virginia John Warner's never really supported Republican candidates against his fellow Senator Democrat Chuck Robb. Recent votes show he may be tilting towards Robb again. Look for tensions between Warner and Republican Candidate George Allen.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?


 


MS. CLIFT: Gore's going to draw a contrast with Governor Bush on the environment, pointing out all the grandfather clauses that Bush put through to allow the polluters to pollute the air in Texas.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?


 


MR. BLANKLEY: The Archer tax bill will pass in a very close vote next week, lose about five Republican votes, pick up about 10 Democratic votes.


 


MR. O'DONNELL: The hottest new show of the fall TV season will be the "West Wing," a drama about the White House on NBC.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Slobodan Milosevic will be executed by his own police or military, somewhat as Nicolae Ceausescu of Romania perished.


 


Bye-bye.


 


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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue five: The shot seen around the world.


 


It was historic. Like Kerri Strug's Olympic Gold Medal vault, Brandi Chastain's winning penalty kick in the Women's World Cup Final is also now etched in the minds of America, especially her daughter's. The event culminated years of grueling work and perseverance. It is more than just a moment in American history, fans say, it is a watershed in history. The victory and the month-long tournament leading up to it cross the outside limits of women's sports achievement. Forty million American viewers watched on TV, double the record audience for a soccer game set by the '94 men's team.


 


The momentousness was unmistakable. From the first ball kicked, there was an awareness among members of the U.S. team that they wanted to leave a legacy, and so they have. "This tournament is the most emphatic statement yet that the traditional masculine model for professional sports is slowly and irrevocably changing," so says Mark Sapenfield (sp) of the Christian Science Monitor.


 


Attending the game was the president himself. Clinton immediately credited Title IX, the 1972 federal law mandating public colleges grant equal funding for men's and women's sports.


 


Question: Is this description of the significance of this World Cup victory overstated, do you believe, Eleanor?


 


MS. CLIFT: No. I think a generation of girls has grown up competing with men, understanding that the sweat is good. And these women are going to be fans. They are going to support women's sports. And they are going to move through the society in all sorts of ways. "The McLaughlin Group" of the future, John, will look very different. (Laughter.) (Laughs.)


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes. You know, 40 million viewers, is that hard to get when you have tight bodies on a field?


 


MR. O'DONNELL: We haven't gotten 40 million viewers here yet, John. We do very well.


 


But Title IX, this is one of liberalism's noble achievements, and it doesn't have a lot to claim at this end of the century; but this is.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you know that there's mountain motorcycling and mountain climbing done by women and young women, and that has nothing to do with Title IX?


 


MR. BLANKLEY: That's because it doesn't happen -- well, those things -- you are not going to get 40 million people watching them because they don't happen in a stadium.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Isn't there more at work than Title IX here?


 


MR. LOWRY: Yes; you know, absolutely. Well, this was good for girls soccer; it was even better for sports bras.


 


But we should not draw any lessons about Title IX from this. Title IX is a ham-handed federal quota program for college sports.


 


Let's look at Providence College. They have a 41 percent male student body. Fifty-four percent of student athletes are male. According to Title IX, that's too many. They had to cancel their highly ranked baseball program this year. That makes no sense.


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will this boomlet fail?


 


MR. BLANKLEY: I hope so. I prefer men's --


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You hope so?


 


MR. BLANKLEY: -- I prefer men's senior golf. (Laughter.)


 


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I thought it might be chess at the Union League Club. (Laughter.)


 


 


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