The McLaughlin Group
Host: John McLaughlin
Pat Buchanan, Author and Columnist;
Eleanor Clift, Newsweek/The Daily Beast;
Guy Taylor, Washington Times;
Mort Zuckerman, U.S. News & World Report
Taped: Friday, October 4, 2013
Broadcast: Weekend of October 5-6, 2013
Copyright © 2013 by Federal News Service, LLC, 1120 G Street NW, Suite 990, Washington, DC 20005-3801 USA. Federal News Service is a private firm not affiliated with the federal government. No portion of this transcript may be copied, sold or retransmitted without the written authority of Federal News Service, LLC. Copyright is not claimed as to any part of the original work prepared by a United States government officer or employee as a part of that person's official duties. For information on subscribing to the FNS Transcripts Database or any other FNS product, please email email@example.com or call 1-202-347-1400.
JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Crisis or Catharsis?
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: (From videotape.) One faction of one party in one house of Congress, in one branch of government, shut down major parts of the government, all because they didn't like one law.
HOUSE SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH): (From videotape.) I have to say I'm disappointed in the actions of the United States Senate this morning by rejecting the bill passed by the House last night. The bill we passed in the House last night would have funded the government through December. My goodness, they won't even sit down and have a discussion about this.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: For the first time in 17 years, the federal government is shut down -- not completely, but in many significant and sensitive functions. Republicans refuse to concede. They want a one- year delay in the "Obamacare," quote-unquote, "individual mandate" to buy health insurance.
Democrats refuse to concede. They want "Obamacare" to be unconditionally funded. The result: 800,000 federal workers are idled and public services are suspended. Both sides are now bracing for a backlash, and the blame game is on.
So why no compromise? Because of what's at stake -- namely, a shift in the balance of political power in 2014 after next year's midterm elections. We now have a Democratic president, a Democratic Senate and a Republican House.
President Obama, a Democrat, is refusing to negotiate with House Speaker Boehner, a Republican, because Mr. Obama thinks that voter anti-shutdown backlash will boost the current Democratic majority in the Senate next year, and possibly result in the Democratic taking over of the House of Representatives.
Republicans think a one-year delay in the individual mandate will mean healthy individuals will defer buying insurance, and those with preexisting conditions will rush to sign up. This in turn means higher insurance premiums in 2014 for everybody.
Winning this battle, with its unforgettable shutdown, gives the winners of it an advantage in the 2014 midterm elections. So the shutdown has put us in the middle of a power game.
Question: Who will end up taking the rap for the government shutdown -- the Republicans, the Democrats, or will it be a pox on both your houses? Pat Buchanan.
PAT BUCHANAN: John, tell me how Barack Obama can blame the Republican Party for shutting down the government of the United States when three times the Republicans in the House have voted to fund every department, every agency and every program of the government except for one, when the House has repeatedly voted, tried to open up the museums, tried to vote for NIH and all these other things?
The Democrats are the ones, you know, shutting down the government. But they are succeeding to a degree in the PR battle, because, by about four to three, people blame the Republican Party here.
However, I think Obama's being damaged. Obviously moderate Republicans are being damaged. I think Harry Reid is coming off as a very crusty and not so nice old man. But I do think, in the whole battle, when it ends, John, I don't think it's about 2014. Obama --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Obama -- go ahead.
MR. BUCHANAN: Obama wants to be seen as strong because he was weak on Syria. And I think he sees a political victory here, breaking the Republican Party. And he's got a real chance to do it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Gallup says Obama's disapproval rating has risen 2 percent and his approval rate has dropped 1 percent. His job rating now stands 50 percent disapprove, 44 percent approve.
You don't have to comment on that, but what's your comment to the principal question?
ELEANOR CLIFT: Nice try, Pat, trying to dress up what the Republican Party is doing.
I want to correct something in your setup. The president is not refusing to negotiate because he's trying to ramp up Democratic support for 2014. He's refusing to negotiate because the Republicans are trying the dismantling or the delay of his signature program, a law that has been passed, signed, upheld by the Supreme Court.
You don't do this in the democracy as we have known it -- try to rewrite the last election, undermine a law that's already been passed by tying it to a government shutdown.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mm-hmm. (Acknowledging.)
MS. CLIFT: The politics so far are working very well for the Democrats, because the Republicans have made this all about their extreme and reckless tactics, not about "Obamacare." Speaker Boehner is, as we're sitting here today, frantically looking for a way out. If the Republicans could do anything to lose their advantage --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mm-hmm. (Acknowledging.)
MS. CLIFT: -- in holding the House next year, they've done it. And if Ted Cruz becomes the face of the Republican Party, the Republicans will not have a majority in the U.S. Senate for the foreseeable future.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, we'll separate this all out for the election that's about, what, less than a year away, and divorce it from that, because politicians don't think in terms of who's going to take over the government or who's going to win the election. They don't think about that. They think about high-minded things, like President Obama. Right?
MS. CLIFT: Well, they don't want a gun to their head, as the president has said many times over. He's not going to negotiate --
GUY TAYLOR: However --
MS. CLIFT: -- under these terms.
MR. TAYLOR: -- the Republican Party was able to excite its base in a way not seen in years in 2009, going into the 2010 midterm elections.
And the risk they're playing with now is that they could do this again and they could use -- that the American voters will forget the nasty politics that have gone on here and remember that the GOP took a principled stand against Obama's program.
The other thing that's going on right now, though, is that things are developing very quickly with the government shutdown, because we've opened a can of worms here that we don't know where it's going to go.
MS. CLIFT: That's right.
MR. TAYLOR: The Republican leadership is probably involved in a bait-and-switch narrative this week, where they're going to try and turn this into a discussion about how the Democrats want to raise the debt ceiling. That won't play well for Obama going forward.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.
MORT ZUCKERMAN: Well, I think both parties are fighting on the edge of a cliff. And when you're on the edge of a cliff, as The Economist said, you don't ask who's right. That's what they aren't doing. But you ask, what the heck are we doing at the edge of a cliff, having this kind of a fight?
We are in a terribly vulnerable position as an economy and as a country right now, but particularly as an economy. And if this thing goes on for too long, we could really plunge the economy into a much, much worse place. So I think it's a plague on both their houses, on one level.
Secondly, what you have is a situation here where there's no presidential leadership. If you had Reagan as president or Lyndon Johnson as president, you would never have had this. Reagan used to have Democrats in for lunch every time he had a free lunch. He had six of them every time. He had relationships across the table.
Not only does Obama not have relations with the Republicans. He doesn't have relations with the Democratic leadership. And I can say that from direct personal --
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but the --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Wait a minute -- because I can say that from direct contact with the leadership of the Democratic Party in the House. They are very, very dismayed. He never helps them. He doesn't know how to deal with them. He doesn't know how to deal with the Republicans. And that's what they say.
MS. CLIFT: Excuse me. The Democrats were not trying to undermine Reagan's signature tax plan after he won reelection and after it had passed both houses of Congress.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, they --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK.
MS. CLIFT: This is a very different tactic --
MR. BUCHANAN: They just undermined the MX missile --
MS. CLIFT: -- on the part of the Republicans.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right.
MR. BUCHANAN: -- and contra aid, again and again and again. Simply because something is law -- the Fugitive Slave Act was a law. Was it wrong to defund that?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK, let me advance this.
MS. CLIFT: Comparing health care for the American people to the Fugitive Slave Act is something even Pat Buchanan cannot get away with.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Please relinquish.
MR. BUCHANAN: Subversive Activities Control Board.
MS. CLIFT: Oh, come on, Pat.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK, service providers check -- service providers check, what the shutdown means for federal agencies and for you and for me.
The agencies -- who goes home? The government says, quote- unquote, "non-essential workers" will be furloughed. Half of the Pentagon's 800,000 civilian workers will go on furlough.
At the EPA, the Environmental Protection Agency, only 1,069 of its 16,200 workers stay on the job. At the Census Bureau, all data collection stops. Also small businesses in urgent need of federal loans will have to wait. So will homeowners who want a federal mortgage.
National parks, some 368 of them, closed; national zoos closed; the Smithsonian and other national museums closed; national monuments, including the famed and very popular Lincoln Memorial, off-limits -- closed.
Who stays on the job? Active-duty military serving at home and abroad stay on the job. The Justice Department; most of it is considered essential. Of its 114,000 staff, 97,000 stay on the job. Workers in federal prisons, national security, border protection, hazardous waste removal, food inspection, air traffic control, the TSA, the Transportation Security Administration, and law enforcement are seen as essential. These workers stay on the job. So do postal workers. The mail gets delivered, whether rain or snow; no shutdown for them.
Social Security checks will be delivered. Weather forecasters will still forecast. Amtrak stays on the rail. Who else stays on the job? The U.S. president and U.S. congressmen and U.S. senators. The good news: The IRS canceled its auditing appointments. The bad news: The IRS continues to collect taxes.
Will average Americans feel the shutdown effects? Eleanor Clift.
MS. CLIFT: Absolutely. People who are trying to get into clinical trials can't get into clinical trials. That's been suspended. You have blood drives being canceled because people are furloughed. They're not there. People are not getting their paychecks.
This has lots of ripple effects, and not always from people that we hear from. And the Republicans have started a very cynical approach -- passing bills, or trying to pass bills, that will reopen areas of government where they're feeling the heat.
MR. BUCHANAN: No, that's outrageous.
MS. CLIFT: And the Democrats are --
MR. BUCHANAN: That's outrageous, Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: The Democrats --
MR. BUCHANAN: That's outrageous.
MS. CLIFT: It's not outrageous. You don't get to pick and choose --
MR. BUCHANAN: They asked --
MS. CLIFT: -- your parts of government that you like.
MR. BUCHANAN: You've talked. Let me talk a second.
MS. CLIFT: I get to finish a sentence.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, look, the National Institute of Health has a cancer treatment program for children, and the Republicans tried to open it up and Harry Reid said no.
MS. CLIFT: The Republicans shut it --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He said, "Why would I want to do that?" "Why would I want to do that?"
MR. BUCHANAN: He wants to maximize the pain in order to maximize his political gain. That is exactly what Obama is doing. It is a sinister and sadistic -- (inaudible).
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Raw and crude politics.
MR. BUCHANAN: It really is. When you --
MS. CLIFT: It's transparent on the part of the Republicans --
MR. BUCHANAN: Look what they --
MS. CLIFT: -- that they want to --
MR. BUCHANAN: Look what they did to the veterans' memorial. They shut it all up.
MS. CLIFT: Sure.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK.
MS. CLIFT: Did you see the Republican congressman yelling at the Interior employee, blaming him?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why did they shut down the memorial?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Could I --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK.
MS. CLIFT: The Republicans --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Could I --
MS. CLIFT: -- could end this with one vote.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're going to be -- this is going to --
MS. CLIFT: All they have to do is fund the entire government.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is going to be addressed to Mort. You're crowding him out, Eleanor.
OK, the U.S. is in shutdown partially. How is that playing overseas? Here are some of the headlines.
La Nacion, Argentina: "Shutdown: Dreaded Paralysis in Washington."
La Stampa, Italy: "USA Closed for Lack of Funds."
Sudwest Presse, Germany: "U.S. Administration Stands Still."
And take a look at this photo of Mount Rushmore and two American tourists walking away from its national park on the front page of De Standaard in Belgium, with the caption "Washington Petrified."
Question: To what extent is this shutdown sullying superpower USA abroad? Mort.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, it certainly is having an effect on the prestige and the credibility of the United States. There's no doubt about it, because this is a government that is not functioning. And I have a feeling that this is something that is going to again diminish us.
I have an even greater concern for the fact that it's going to reduce the confidence of a lot of people in this country over the effectiveness of our government, and it's going to affect an economy which is already hanging by a thread. So I think this is a very serious issue if it goes on for much longer.
MS. CLIFT: It's totally --
MR. TAYLOR: I believe --
MS. CLIFT: It's totally needless.
MR. TAYLOR: -- it's a very serious issue right away, though.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's that again?
MR. TAYLOR: There's a way this plays overseas. It adds to the narrative of America in decline, one, philosophically, OK. But, two, right now President Obama has canceled his trip to two regional summits in Asia --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Right.
MR. TAYLOR: -- where the Chinese president will take center stage over the next two weeks. So -- and it's not because Obama -- the money is not there this week for Obama to do this. But he's got such divisive politics in Washington that he has to pay attention here. It suggests that he's weak going into the last three years of his presidency, and there is a real-time impact of what will happen with the Chinese influence over our region.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah. The Republicans --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is he exaggerating the impact?
MR. BUCHANAN: No, he's exactly right. They canceled four visits. But let me say this. He's also made an excellent point earlier, which is, look, these things have a short shelf life, John. Remember the battle over gun control? That was going to kill the party. This is going to last a while, and then it's going to be over a year before the next election. And what happens will depend on whether "Obamacare" is seen as a train wreck or is seen as a good program --
MS. CLIFT: That's right.
MR. BUCHANAN: -- (inaudible).
MS. CLIFT: And you've got millions --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let Eleanor in.
MS. CLIFT: You've got millions of people signing up, and the websites are crashing.
MR. BUCHANAN: They say it's going to be great.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question --
MS. CLIFT: But they're going to fix that.
MR. BUCHANAN: Sure.
MS. CLIFT: This is a program that --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question --
MR. BUCHANAN: Why didn't they fix it in the first three years?
MS. CLIFT: Because even Apple can't fix something like that in one day.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you comparing Obama to Apple?
MS. CLIFT: No.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Excuse me. Exit question. As things stand now --
MS. CLIFT: "Obamacare" is going to be a huge success, Pat.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: As things stand now --
MS. CLIFT: You wait and see.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- President Obama and Senator Reid are emphasizing that they won't budge, not an inch, not on the budget, not on the targeted bills the House is sending up, not on negotiating these along with the debt ceiling. Will that prove to be more bluster than reality? Pat Buchanan.
MR. BUCHANAN: I don't think Obama can negotiate now. I think he's got to stand firm because he's got a reputation for capitulating.
MS. CLIFT: The president has negotiated. He's not going to negotiate as long as they keep government shut down and threat of not raising the debt ceiling on the table. He's not giving in. And I think Boehner is looking for a way out, as well he should.
MR. TAYLOR: I think we all would like to say that there's going to be a negotiation this week. But the bottom-line reality -- and no one here will disagree with me -- is that we don't know for sure. And that's why government shutdowns are very ugly.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you have to conjecture, reasonable conjecture based on your career in journalism.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)
MR. TAYLOR: I think that they will reach a negotiation of some kind this week --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Of course they will.
MR. TAYLOR: -- and the shutdown will end.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I would hope so. I mean, I don't know that. I don't think -- I think this week is an optimistic interpretation, but I would say no later than next week, because this country is really suffering, and suffering at home. And the economy is really very, very fragile. And this kind of blow to the confidence in the government is going to have a big effect on the economy. And that's a very bad thing to happen.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So you're estimating that this is going to go into detente when?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Sometime within --
MR. BUCHANAN: Detente, no.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- the next 10 days.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Within the next 10 days.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yeah.
MS. CLIFT: Before the --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I agree with you, Mort.
Issue Two: Bibi, Don't Hold Back -- Tell Us What You Really Think.
ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: (From videotape.) Rouhani doesn't sound like Ahmadinejad. But when it comes to Iran's nuclear weapons program, the only difference between them is this. Ahmadinejad was a wolf in wolf's clothing. Rouhani is a wolf in sheep's clothing, a wolf who thinks he can pull the eyes -- the wool over the eyes of the international community.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cannot stomach Iran's new president, Hasan Rouhani. President Rouhani addressed the U.N. General Assembly last week and insisted that Iran's nuclear program was peaceful.
IRANIAN PRESIDENT HASAN ROUHANI (through interpreter): (From videotape.) Any use of nuclear weapons is a violation of the U.N. charter and a crime against humanity. Doctrines justifying such use are unacceptable.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The news that President Obama himself had spoken to Rouhani on the telephone one week ago for 15 minutes before Rouhani departed for Iran. That came as a surprise and ended 34 years of silence and acrimony between the U.S. and Iran.
Afterwards, President Obama described the phone call.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) President Rouhani has indicated that Iran will never develop nuclear weapons. I have made clear that we respect the right of the Iranian people to access peaceful nuclear energy in the context of Iran meeting its obligations. So the test will be meaningful, transparent and verifiable actions.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: President Rouhani tweeted about the Obama call, expressing optimism over U.S. support for Iran's peaceful nuclear program, closing his tweet with, quote, "Have a good day, Mr. President," unquote.
Well, this week at the U.N. it was Prime Minister Netanyahu's turn to have a good day, Netanyahu-style.
PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: (From videotape.) You see, Rouhani thinks he can have his yellow cake and eat it too. And he has another reason to believe that he can get away with this, and that reason is called North Korea. Like Iran, North Korea also said its nuclear program was for peaceful purposes. Like Iran, North Korea also offered meaningless concessions and empty promises in return for sanctions relief.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The prime minister also met with President Obama at the White House. On his way to the Oval Office, Mr. Netanyahu told reporters that he was on a mission to, quote, "tell the truth in the face of the sweet talk and onslaught of smiles," unquote.
Question: Given the prospect that Rouhani may indeed be a wolf in sheep's clothing, as Prime Minister Netanyahu says, should President Obama still negotiate with Rouhani? Guy Taylor.
MR. TAYLOR: John, I think that President Obama should go forward with trying to negotiate with Rouhani. I think, though, that what you have to look closely at here is -- correct me if I'm wrong -- the U.N. General Assembly met two weeks ago, not last week. And here Benjamin Netanyahu shows up a week later, when the world is not paying much attention anymore, and gives this forceful speech.
So he's obviously been back-burnered and sidelined in this.
What is interesting is, if you read between the lines of what Netanyahu said when he was at the White House, right after meeting with Obama, he suddenly used language where he said that Israel could live with an Iran that has a nuclear program, as long as it's not military.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who said that?
MR. TAYLOR: Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think of that?
MR. TAYLOR: I think that that was a concession by the Israeli government.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That was a big breakthrough, wasn't it?
MR. TAYLOR: I don't think it was a big breakthrough. It was a statement that --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They don't want -- well, you tell me. Was that a breakthrough?
MR. TAYLOR: It just suggested that Israel is in the game and also behind the possibility of negotiations, because --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Don't --
MR. TAYLOR: -- just to finish -- Benjamin Netanyahu does not want to be -- speaking of wolves, he does not want to be seen as the lone wolf gunning for war with Iran right now.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you agree with all of that?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think it was a major concession, by the way. But I think the fear that the Israelis have is that, once they have nuclear capabilities and they're developing fissionable material, they won't be able to control it being transferred into a military purpose.
So the whole issue is how do you keep that under the right kinds of constraints? And from Israel's point of view, it's an existential question, because they literally can be blown away with one -- look, the Iranians are developing rockets, long-term rockets, that have only one purpose -- to carry nuclear warheads. By the way, they're going to have a range to carry them to the United States as well. So at some point we may also be --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: But having said that -- excuse me a second -- having said that, this is an absolutely existential question for Israel. Their entire existence is going to be at issue. If these people get nuclear weapons, they launch one -- all they need is one, one rocket that gets launched, and it's the end of Israel.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort, you know the reason why this change of attitude, which is fundamental and radical on the part of the Iranians, exists. They want to sell their oil. They want to sell it.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Excuse me. They can sell their oil without nuclear weapons and without nuclear development.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, their economy is in the tank.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: It's exactly the opposite. They have more oil than any other country in the world needs for their own need. They've got plenty of oil to sell. So the only reason they're doing this is not to sell oil, believe me.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, they have all kind of (binders ?) against the sale now.
MR. BUCHANAN: But John --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Now they do, OK, yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Inaudible.)
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I agree.
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And they want to sell. They're suffering over there.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I agree with that. The sanctions are the only thing that is putting pressure on them to put some kind of controls on their nuclear program.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, let's get back to the bomb.
MS. CLIFT: But the fact --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let him --
MR. BUCHANAN: Look, there's no doubt that the Iranians have the technical ability right now and they have the scientific knowledge. They do not have the capacity to build a bomb. In 2007, 2011, national intelligence of the United States, all agencies, said with high confidence they have not made a decision to build the bomb.
We can get into all those plants and make sure they have no 90 percent uranium, have not enough 20 percent uranium.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can we get into those plants?
MR. BUCHANAN: We are in --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You remember Stuxnet?
MR. BUCHANAN: The IAEA is in there right now.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: On a Geiger counter probability scale from 0.001 to 1,000 milliroentgens per hour, with .001 meaning little more than natural background radiation and 1,000 meaning a nuclear detonation, what is the likelihood we'll wake up one morning to headlines that Iran has tested a nuclear bomb -- 0.001 to 1,000?
MR. BUCHANAN: I would say no chance in the next 18 months.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You've got to give me a digit.
MR. BUCHANAN: No chance in the --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Digit, digit.
MR. BUCHANAN: Zero the next 18 months -- 18 months.
MS. CLIFT: Very low Geiger count. And the fact that Netanyahu is curbing his rhetoric shows that Obama's in the driver's seat now, which was very different from before the president was reelected, when Netanyahu thought Romney was going to be in the White House, was full of bluster.
MR. TAYLOR: Benjamin Netanyahu's --
MS. CLIFT: He's really curbing his bluster.
MR. TAYLOR: -- visit, despite the concession that I was pointing out a minute ago, I think, helps Obama's position. Netanyahu gave a great gift to the administration this week by saying, hey, let's sober up. I'm not against negotiating, but let's go into it with eyes wide open.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: 0.001 to 1,000? We come in at here 500. What's your answer?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: If you go beyond 18 months, I would say the odds are at least 900 out of 1,000. Sooner or later they're going to develop a bomb. That's what they've been about for years, and that's what they're going to continue to do.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three: Wall to Wall Walrus.
What is that dark stripe? It's walrus, as in wall-to-wall walrus, all packed together, 10,000 strong, on one beach. These walrus are on a barrier island in Alaska, 700 miles northwest of Anchorage.
Why are these poor walrus packed like sardines? Because the ice is melting. Ice floes that float on the surface of the Arctic Ocean are where Pacific walrus would normally hang out and hunt and produce baby walrus, in much smaller groups.
But the ice floes are disappearing rapidly. So instead, the walrus are flocking to the beach and whatever ice is left over after our manmade filthy exhaust and emissions heat up the planet, some believe.
Those walrus are not packed together because they like it; the slightest trigger, like a polar bear suddenly appearing on the prowl or a low-flying plane, that can cause deadly stampedes that crush the young, more fragile walrus.
Question: Is the fate of the walrus what we can all look forward to someday, namely, clinging to little bits of land as the water levels rise and drown us all? Pat Buchanan.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, there's no doubt the Arctic icecap has been slowly shrinking, although this year they had a record expansion of it. And people are all blaming this on global warming, John. That's one of the parts of the agenda.
But I will say this. Look, there has been no global warming for the last 15 years, and all the scientists and the rest of them never predicted. But are there going to be problems as a consequence of what happened? Have there been problems? Sure.
MS. CLIFT: Climate change --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: To reinforce what you said -- hold on, Eleanor -- Arctic ice grew from 1.82 million square miles in 2012, a record low, to 2.35 million square miles this year. That's a 30 percent increase in one year. Measurements were taken by the National Snow and Ice Center in Boulder, Colorado.
Now, where does that leave the whole proposition of global warming?
MS. CLIFT: Climate change is well under way, and scientists are now talking about mitigating it. You know, we're not going to be able to reverse it. And when Al Gore was in Washington and he did his movie, "An Inconvenient Truth," it featured polar bears looking for patches of ice, just like these walrus.
MR. BUCHANAN: Walrus needs to eat. (Laughs.)
MS. CLIFT: Yeah. It's happening. And if you're in one of these coastal communities -- Miami, New York -- you can look forward to a future --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.
MS. CLIFT: -- beyond our lifetime, maybe, but those areas of the country are going to be under water.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How much did Gore make selling that channel?
MS. CLIFT: I hope a lot.
MR. BUCHANAN: He made --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?
MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.)
MR. BUCHANAN: -- $100 million.
MR. TAYLOR: I don't think --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: $100 million? Maybe Gore should get back into politics.
What were you going to say?
MR. BUCHANAN: Sure. (Laughs.)
MR. TAYLOR: I was going to say that it doesn't matter whether you blame Al Gore or you blame Republican climate-change deniers. The fact that somehow the science behind climate change has become a political issue is one of the saddest realities of our times. You're going to have trouble lining up scientists, legitimate scientists, who would ever come on this program to argue that it's not real, OK. Climate change is here. It's been around. It's been talked about for 20 years.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's talking about the --
MR. TAYLOR: To pretend that --
MR. BUCHANAN: John, there are skeptics.
MR. TAYLOR: -- the oceans are not rising --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Guy is talking about the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Now, they say in their latest report -- they admit that the IPCC -- that some of its computer models for predicting climate change may, quote, "overestimate" the response to increasing greenhouse gas and other anthropogenic forcing. So they --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: They acknowledge it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- have retracted some of the things they've said.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: They've retracted it somewhat. But there's no doubt but there is climate change, and it has had some effects. Maybe the speed of it is being a little bit exaggerated, not deliberately, but it's there. And we just don't know yet how bad it's going to be or how long it's going to go.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You live in New York.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I do.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is provision being made for this?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: The climate change in New York is really unbelievably problematic, you know. You can't walk in Central Park without having to put on a shirt.
MR. TAYLOR: Yeah, but New York is one of the -- relative to the rest of the world, New York is considered a cleaner city.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: It is.
MR. TAYLOR: I landed in Beijing --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Absolutely.
MR. TAYLOR: -- this past year.
MR. BUCHANAN: But John --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Absolutely.
MR. TAYLOR: And within two hours my nose hairs were --
MS. CLIFT: The severity --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: New York has --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Arctic ice grew -- grew. Do you understand?
MR. BUCHANAN: That's what I told you, John. But --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So where does that leave your debunking of climate change?
MR. BUCHANAN: That's the point of it. When I was in Iowa, I asked why it's so hilly in the north and plain in the south. The Ice Age, they said. They used to have an Arctic icecap across the middle of this country.
MR. TAYLOR: Yeah, but, Pat, take a look.
MS. CLIFT: So what does that --
MR. TAYLOR: OK, climate change is about more extreme climate.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, and --
MR. TAYLOR: What you're saying about climate change is not very thoughtful.
MR. BUCHANAN: There are thought leaders who are skeptics also.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Out of time. Bye-bye.
(C) 2013 Federal News Service