The McLaughlin Group
Host: John McLaughlin
Pat Buchanan, Author and Columnist;
Eleanor Clift, The Daily Beast;
Guy Taylor, Washington Times;
Mort Zuckerman, U.S. News & World Report
Taped: Friday, June 20, 2014
Broadcast: Weekend, June 21-22, 2014
Copyright © 2014 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-202-347-1400.
JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Iraq 911.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: (From videotape.) American combat troops are not going to be fighting in Iraq again. We do not have the ability to simply solve this problem by sending in tens of thousands of troops and committing the kinds of blood and treasure that has already been expended in Iraq. Ultimately, this is something that is going to have to be solved by the Iraqis.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Commander in Chief Obama announced this week that he will send 300 American advisers to Iraq to help the embattled Iraqi government plan operations to thwart the advance of ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
Since launching an offensive in late May, ISIS has taken control of Iraq's second-largest city and advanced to within 40 miles of Baghdad. Its goal is to create an independent Sunni-dominated country spanning parts of Syria and Iraq, governed by strict Islamic law.
Mr. Obama also called on Prime Minister al-Maliki to create a national unity government that includes minority Sunnis and Kurds, as well as Iraq's Shiite majority, as a prelude to retaking control of western Iraq. The alternative: Iraq could descend into civil war, pitting its rival religious and ethnic groups against one another in a bloody conflict like that in neighboring Syria.
For a long-term answer, Mr. Obama might have asked his vice president, Joe Biden. In 2006, then-Senator Biden proposed a partition of Iraq into three semiautonomous regions -- one for the Sunni-dominated west, one for the Kurdish north, and one for the Shiite-dominated south and east, but all within the same nation-state.
Given the latest flare in violence, achieving that political resolution may be difficult. But if al-Maliki can create a national unity government that promises more autonomy to Iraq's minorities, the Iraqi army may be motivated to retake Mosul. Sunni tribal elders may turn against Islamic radicals, as they did in 2007 when al-Qaida in Iraq dominated Anbar Province.
With American intelligence assistance and targeted strikes, a possibility Obama held out this week, pending congressional consultation, ISIS might then be driven out of Iraq.
Question: How realistic is this scenario? And is Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki the leader to make it happen? Pat Buchanan.
PAT BUCHANAN: John, I don't think they can put Humpty Dumpty together again, to be very honest. The American troops there and American air power can keep Baghdad secure from the Sunnis and from ISIL coming down from the north, but I don't think the government has the competence or ability to unite the people or get folks behind them. I don't think their army's got the capacity to march out and to capture Anbar and the Sunni Triangle and Kirkuk and Kurdistan again.
So I think, de facto, you have a partition there. And the United States of America -- you just heard Barack Obama say so -- is not going to put in what would be required, scores of thousands of American troops, to bring this country together militarily.
Now, should the country -- do you think they'll decide to come together diplomatically? I doubt it. There's too much blood been shed. People have got their own measures of independence. The Kurds do. The Sunnis do. I think the reality is it has been broken apart, and nobody's going to put it back together.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is the goal to establish an independent Sunni state?
MR. BUCHANAN: I think the goal of the Sunnis, all of them, including ISIL, is to be out from under Maliki and his regime, which they despise and detest. And they are supported in that by the Saudis, Qatar, the Gulf states.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If it is the goal, it won't work.
ELEANOR CLIFT: Well, anyone who grew up with the Vietnam generation, when you hear you're sending advisers in, you immediately get nervous. But I think it's pretty clear that the president is doing the least that he can do to try to assist in repelling ISIS from Baghdad. And the truth is that the Shiite military is probably going to be able to repel ISIS on its own from Baghdad. And if you look at the areas that ISIS has taken in Iraq, they're largely the Sunni heartland.
And I agree with Pat. You've got basically a de facto partition that has already taken place. In fact, it began when President Bush was in office. Remember all the ethnic cleansing that went on then? Baghdad used to be a very integrated city. It's now 80 percent Shiite. Maliki doesn't care about the Sunni areas. There's a lot of desert area, and the cities full of Sunnis. And the Kurds are perfectly happy in their part of the country.
But they are now jockeying to form a government. Maliki won the most seats in the election. He still stands a pretty good chance of emerging on top. And, you know, they don't have to love each other. They just have to quit actively killing each other. And if they don't decide to do that, I don't think -- American military power is not going to be able to prevent their civil war.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Guy.
GUY TAYLOR: I think we've forgotten, John, that Maliki has been in power already since 2006. He's had 12 years to form a unity government. It hasn't happened. The policy in Washington for that time has been to discreetly arm him and pump more weapons into the hands of his dictator-style government that has enraged Sunnis in Iraq.
The idea of a partition that was thrown around by Joe Biden and Leslie Gelb a decade ago may be a good idea then. At this point we have to look at what that partition would mean. The oil wealth for Iraq is being exploited by American, British and Chinese companies in the south, in the Shiite-controlled area. The other potential oil wealth area is in the north, in Kurdistan.
What the Sunnis control at this point is a stretch of desert without massive oil potential, without any oil potential.
How are you going to break that wealth up evenly in a partitioned state that only inflames the divisions more than they already are?
The reason that the momentum -- well, Democrats in the Senate years ago tried to embrace this plan, in 2006. The reason there was never momentum for it was because polls at the time found the majority of Iraqis didn't want it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.
MORT ZUCKERMAN: Well, I think we're in a very, very serious situation here, because there are great strategic interests of the United States, in my judgment, at risk here. One of them is the whole issue of oil. And that is something that could really affect not only that region, but it could affect all the western economies. So we just can't stand by and let this whole thing unravel in a way that really does threaten that whole region and its ability to work with us.
So there are no easy answers to this thing. I don't think that it's going to be possible to reform all of these governments. It's just -- the conflict is so deep and so long, it's hard for me to imagine how the Shiites and the Sunnis get together. There is not going to be an easy solution here, no matter what. And it's going to go for a long time.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK, Cheney's history gloss.
A broadside from former Vice President Cheney and his daughter Liz appeared on top of the opinion page in Wednesday's Wall Street Journal. Quote: "In 1983, President Ronald Reagan said if history teaches us anything, it teaches that simple-minded appeasement or wishful thinking about our adversaries is folly. It means the betrayal of our past, the squandering of our freedom," unquote. "President Obama is on track to securing his legacy as the man who betrayed our past and squandered our freedom," unquote.
Question: Is it unprecedented for a former vice president to criticize a sitting president like this? Is it below the belt? Eleanor Clift.
MS. CLIFT: Oh, I don't think he should be critiqued on that level. I think we should ask, though, why somebody who was so colossally wrong in 2003 expects to have any credibility today. His major beef with the administration is that they didn't keep a residual force in Iraq after the war ended at the end of 2011. Well, why didn't they? Because Iran was so empowered by the stupid invasion of Iraq that Iran told Maliki I don't want Americans in there. And Iran has much more sway over this government --
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MS. CLIFT: -- that our service people --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on, Pat.
MS. CLIFT: -- died for over a period of years. So I think Cheney is just off on some other planet.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Inaudible.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on, Pat.
MS. CLIFT: And he's going to get his comeuppance from his own party. Listen to Rand Paul.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK, here's Dick Cheney's verdict on Barack Obama. Quote: "The tragedy unfolding in Iraq today is only part of the story. Al-Qaida and its affiliates are resurgent across the globe. According to a recent RAND study, between 2010 and 2013, there was a 58 percent increase in the number of Salafi jihadist terrorist groups around the world. In the face of this threat, Obama is busy ushering America's adversaries into positions of power in the Middle East. President Obama seems determined to leave office ensuring he has taken America down a notch," unquote.
Is he accusing President Obama of dereliction of duty?
MR. BUCHANAN: No, he's accusing him of failure. But the truth is, if the world Dick Cheney and George W. Bush and the neocons brought to this country and put in place is coming to a disaster, the disaster is occurring on the watch of Barack Hussein Obama. I don't think Obama's responsible for it.
I do think the country agrees that we ought to get out of Afghanistan. We ought to get out of Iraq. We ought to stay out of Syria. We ought to stay out of Ukraine. But there's no doubt this is all coming down on his watch, John. But I think it's -- I think it's odd that they would try to blame Barack Obama for something he didn't start and something (he tried to end ?).
MS. CLIFT: It's not odd. It's opportunistic. (Laughs.) He sees an opening to try to vindicate again the biggest strategic blunder that an American administration has made in memory with that invasion of Iraq. Where does he think all these jihadists got created?
MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly, John.
MS. CLIFT: The U.S. invading a Muslim country --
MR. BUCHANAN: (Inaudible.)
MS. CLIFT: -- started it all.
MR. BUCHANAN: It's going to be a cake walk. It's going to be a cake walk. They'll welcome us with flowers. You know, it's going to be a -- (inaudible) -- for the world.
MR. TAYLOR: It might be offensive that this came from Dick Cheney, somebody who basically profited immensely off of the American military adventurism in Iraq. There were, however, some interesting points in the Wall Street Journal op-ed that he did with his daughter, and one of them was this idea of spreading black-flag-waving al-Qaida killing-in-the-name-of-God jihadism. That's really running through the middle of the situation in Iraq right now.
And I will tell you, this administration has had a rhetorically soft posture, a difficult time explaining this. What they have done, though, is they have done an aggressive drone campaign over the last five years, remote-controlled missiles, to kill suspected terrorists.
MR. BUCHANAN: Have they killed more than they created? Have they killed more than they created?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We've got to move on.
MR. TAYLOR: That's a good question.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on. Hold on. This is the way The Wall Street Journal played it up. This is the top of the page, and it's devoted to Dick Cheney and his daughter Liz, Wednesday. It couldn't have been bigger. And it's probably a quasi-endorsement from the Journal. Would you agree with that?
MR. BUCHANAN: Look, Dick Cheney -- I respect the guy. I like him. He's a friend. He believes in what he did. He believes it was right. But from the beginning, John, I thought it was wrong. And I think it's being proven out.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK, exit question: In an interview on CNN with Larry King four years ago, Vice President Joe Biden said Iraq should be one of the, quote, "great achievements of the Obama administration," unquote. Is that still the case? Yes or no. Pat Buchanan.
MR. BUCHANAN: That was naive and utopian then and remains so now.
MS. CLIFT: Well, the president campaigned saying he's going to end wars. He ended the war. We're not going to start it up again. I wouldn't call it a great achievement, but I -- you know, I wouldn't --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Guy Taylor.
MS. CLIFT: -- I wouldn't lay the whole failure at Obama's feet.
MR. TAYLOR: Campaigning and saying you're going to end the war and actually ending a war are two different things. They're big responsibilities.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Right.
MR. TAYLOR: They come with pulling troops out of a region. There could have been some force left, whoever you want to blame. And we shouldn't be just responding by we got our troops out; let's pump more weaponry into Iraq and harm the Iraqi government.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think the American people want us to stay out?
MR. TAYLOR: I think the American people want us to stay out, but I also think the American people want us to -- want the government to look at what is the real national-security interest of being here. What can we do to help? And I credit the administration for having the discipline to try and push back let's immediately militarize this.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know the repercussions in our economy and the world economy because of the rising price of oil.
MR. TAYLOR: Of course.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know it's not going to help our economy. It's going to hurt our economy.
MR. TAYLOR: I'm worried about that as well.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you worried about that?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, I am worried about that. But I would go back to this question that you raised before in different terms. Frankly, the role of the president, if I may say so, is to deal with the national interest of the country. Whatever the campaign was, you know, two years ago or six years ago is not the issue. He's the president of the United States. He has to protect the long-term national interests of the United States.
We are now putting at risk one of our most important areas in the world, and that involves, of course, the world of oil. So we -- this is something you just can't walk away from because you had a campaign, or even because the American public doesn't want it. This is the role of the president.
MS. CLIFT: He's not walking --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did the --
MS. CLIFT: He's not walking away from it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did the president, when he appeared at the U.N., suggest that the role of the president of the United States was far bigger than the way you've explained it?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He did?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: When he was there?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A far bigger role.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes. Of course. I mean, look, we all know what happens during campaigns, OK, during political -- this is now becoming a big political fight. We blame Dick Cheney? We blame the Republicans. It was a huge mistake, what we did before, obviously.
Right now we're in where we are. That whole part of the world is a huge player in the world of energy and energy supplies. We cannot walk away from it.
MR. BUCHANAN: But if there is --
MS. CLIFT: He is not walking --
MR. BUCHANAN: -- a blame game --
MS. CLIFT: He is not walking away from it.
MR. BUCHANAN: -- it suggests there is a disaster.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What?
MR. BUCHANAN: If there is a blame game going on between the parties, it suggests this is a gathering disaster. And that is exactly right. And, no, I don't have a cure. I don't know who's got the cure for how we get rid of that Shia caliphate --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's going to become a pocketbook issue. You know that.
MR. TAYLOR: How much of a blame game is it? When Cheney's op-ed was followed up by another op-ed by Rand Paul, really representing the libertarian wing of the GOP. And Paul is making argument against Cheney and basically an isolationist-style foreign policy --
MR. BUCHANAN: It's an anti-interventionist --
MR. TAYLOR: -- which is in line with what the administration --
MR. BUCHANAN: It's anti-interventionist.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK. Issue Two: The Fog of War.
FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON: (From videotape.) We want to know who was behind it, what the motivation of the leaders and the attackers happened to be. There are still some unanswered questions. It was, after all, the fog of war.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: U.S. Special Forces captured one of America's most wanted this week, Ahmed Abu Khattala, a leading suspect in the 2012 Benghazi murders of Ambassador Chris Stevens and diplomat Sean Smith, and Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glenn Doherty. Khattala was subject to rendition, captured in a daring covert operation, and is now being questioned on board the USS New York en route to the United States, where the attorney general, Eric Holder, says Khattala will be tried in a civilian court.
Last year, Khattala was charged with three federal crimes in connection with the Benghazi attack -- murder, aiding terrorists, and a weapons offense. More charges are likely to be added.
Question: Is this a high-stakes trial for the Obama administration? Mort Zuckerman.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yeah, I mean, at this point. Who knows what's going to come out of this thing? This does not look good. Again, the whole way this whole thing was handled did not inspire the confidence of the country. Now to have all of this come out, I think, is going to be a very serious issue.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think, Pat?
MS. CLIFT: The way the arrest was handled does not inspire the rest of the country? I thought it was a pretty daring raid --
MR. TAYLOR: (Inaudible.)
MS. CLIFT: -- where they captured him.
MR. TAYLOR: It took months to get him.
MS. CLIFT: Yes. And so after two years of the right grousing about Benghazi, Benghazi, now they're saying the capture was timed to coincide with Hillary's book tour.
MR. TAYLOR: I think it's (a big trial ?).
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but the point -- and they want him to go to Guantanamo.
There have been zero convictions of terrorists coming out of Guantanamo. We have several high-profile terrorists in American jails for life.
MR. TAYLOR: Look --
MS. CLIFT: It's appropriate that he gets tried here.
MR. TAYLOR: Great.
MS. CLIFT: This is --
MR. TAYLOR: But if it only amounts to a circus trial -- if the administration wants to make it into one, there are far higher-profile people in U.S. custody at Guantanamo, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of another 9/11 attack, that has still not been tried. He's being held and is maybe going to be tried in this kind of fumbling military-style tribunal. So why not focus on that trial right now?
MS. CLIFT: Why not focus on the guy we just caught?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How is it that Khattala was walking the streets as an ordinary civilian for several, what, weeks --
MR. BUCHANAN: Excellent question.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- before he was apprehended?
MR. BUCHANAN: More than that. He was being interviewed by reporters and things. One of the arguments they give is, look, they wanted to find a time when this guy was isolated and alone, and they could take him out without losing the guy and they could grab him without, you know, alerting the Libyan government, all the rest of it. But it took something like 18 months to do it.
But I think this. What they're going to get out of him is a lot of information. And I don't know that it's going to be a problem for Hillary Clinton, but there's a possibility this guy could say we plotted this; we did that. There wasn't any video anywhere around there. And it can only be bad news or nothing news for Hillary Rodham Clinton's ambitions.
MS. CLIFT: Bringing him to justice is not -- I don't think it affects Hillary one bit.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Inaudible.)
MS. CLIFT: And if it answers questions, puts things to rest, that's all to the good for her.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is Khattala in control of the narrative?
MR. BUCHANAN: Not anymore. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't think so?
MR. BUCHANAN: On that boat? (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean they're going to get something out of him?
MR. BUCHANAN: I think they've been talking to him for a long time, and he's probably pretty tired right now, John.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Tired. Such a nice word.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Considering all the possible outcomes of an open trial, on balance, is the apprehension of Ahmed Abu Khattala a net positive, is it neutral, or a net negative for Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential ambitions -- you're free to develop that a little bit -- to turn her ambitions --
MR. BUCHANAN: Neutral to -- it cannot be beneficial. It's neutral to negative, depending upon what this fellow has to say; I mean, if he comes in and has nothing of relevance to say about people not coming to the aid and all the rest of it. But it's -- the only possibility is that it's negative.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We're considering --
MS. CLIFT: I can't imagine he's going to testify that people didn't come to the aid. I mean, what would he have to say about that?
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, I mean, the point is, he might have said --
MS. CLIFT: It's --
MR. BUCHANAN: -- we planned the attack and we did this, and says all these things we should have known about.
MS. CLIFT: And everybody just sat on their rifles and just let us go in.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why don't you comment more on the Hillary component?
MS. CLIFT: I think Hillary is going to persevere through this just fine. And in terms of it being a show trial, we have the blind sheikh in jail. We have the shoe bomber. We have the Times Square bomber. Most Americans don't even remember these trials. This is -- this is an appropriate use of American justice.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does she have poll worries? The latest Wall Street Journal/NBC poll shows as many people say they would never vote for Hillary as they say probably or definitely would vote for her if she runs for president. Is that a serious hurdle?
MS. CLIFT: She only needs 50 plus one.
MR. BUCHANAN: She's sinking.
MS. CLIFT: She's going to be fine.
MR. BUCHANAN: She's sinking in the polls, John, and has been sinking for months.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are the polls on her side?
MS. CLIFT: She looks like she has a pretty clear field for the Democratic nomination, and maybe some other --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is she --
MS. CLIFT: Who are the Republicans going to put up? That's going to be a much more interesting primary race, it seems to me.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is she a deeply polarizing candidate?
MS. CLIFT: She is a deeply credible candidate.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is she a shoo-in, in your regard, in your view?
MS. CLIFT: I think a Democrat is a shoo-in next time because of the way the Republicans have handled -- (inaudible) -- innovation.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly. Quickly.
MR. TAYLOR: It will be nice to see the Benghazi subject go into a trial in a court and not -- hopefully not be politicized to the level it has been under investigation in the House of Representatives over the last two years.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Dream on.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think Hillary Clinton is about as slam dunk a candidate for the Democratic Party as you could ever imagine at this stage, number one. Number two --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean she's going to win the election.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: She's going to win the nomination. We don't know whether she's going to win the election.
We don't know who the Republican is going to be. But I will say this. She will attract millions of people into her tent to vote for her because she will be the first woman to be nominated by either major party, and that's going to have an enormous people for a lot of people in this country.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mmm hmm. (Acknowledging.)
MR. ZUCKERMAN: And she is a very credible, very talented lady.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We've had universal insight already.
Issue Three: Jay Walks.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was treated to music from his favorite band as he entered the briefing room for the very first time.
JAY CARNEY (outgoing White House press secretary): (From videotape.) Now, that is some good rock and roll -- (laughter) -- as if you didn't know. Well, thank you for that.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mr. Carney's last day at that podium was Wednesday. The announcement of his leaving came as a surprise last month, made by President Obama himself, who suddenly entered the White House press briefing room to proclaim that Carney was, alas, moving on.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) In April, Jay came to me in the Oval Office and said he was thinking about moving on. And I was not thrilled, to say the least. But Jay's had to wrestle with this decision for quite some time. He has been on my team since day one -- for two years with the vice president; for the past three and a half years as my press secretary.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And there was a hug between Barack and Jay. Mr. Carney said he had no immediate career plans. On Wednesday of this week, he thanked the White House correspondents, with whom he often wrestled.
MR. CARNEY: (From videotape.) Finally, I just want to say thank you to all of you here. This has been an extraordinary experience, and I have loved every minute of every day, even the many minutes of many days I've spent in this room. As I think most of you now understand and believe, it's always a pleasure, no matter how hard it can get in here, how hot it can sometimes be and contentious it sometimes is.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Then a final wave to the press corps.
Question: As Jay Carney slips back into oblivion, does he take his chair on the McLaughlin Group, from which he left to go to the White House, in order to restore his ego?
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Or should he? Should he?
MR. BUCHANAN: John, I think Jay Carney did a tough job. He did a workmanlike job. It was very rough. It's not like the days of Jim Hagerty and Pierre Salinger in the old days when you had older journalists. It was much more respectful.
It's a very rough situation. It's been that since Ron Ziegler, our friend, was in the Nixon White House. And it's very tough on these guys. And I tend to agree with Eleanor. Some of the best were -- Jody Powell was one of the best. He's no longer with us. And Mike McCurry was outstanding, I think; and Marlin Fitzwater and some of those folks. They've been very good.
And it's a very tough job. And I admire the guys who can go out there and take it, because I was offered a post like that and I lasted about 24 hours with Richard Nixon in New Hampshire. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you know of any press secretary who did a biography of his boss? (Inaudible.)
MR. BUCHANAN: I think Ron Nessen -- Ron Nessen. Did he write a book on Ford? I think. Did he, Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: He probably did, yeah. But who could say anything negative about Jerry Ford? Everybody loved Jerry Ford -- (laughs) -- even though he was never finally elected president. I think he had the widespread admiration from the press corps, definitely.
MR. BUCHANAN: I think Larry Speakes wrote a book, but it was about his experiences and Reagan, yeah.
MS. CLIFT: And to say something about Jay, I can't remember a single gaffe that he made. And that is really something, when he's up on that tightrope every day --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, but he --
MS. CLIFT: -- with the television cameras. And he kept his cool most of the time.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He did the show somewhat regularly, and he went from here at the request of the vice president. He worked for the vice president four years before he went to work for the president.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's right.
MR. BUCHANAN: Biden.
MS. CLIFT: That's right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Five years?
MR. BUCHANAN: Four years for Biden, yeah.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, four years for Biden. So that was a great --
MR. BUCHANAN: Preparation.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: He had the right temperament. He's very knowledgeable. He had a wonderful temperament, you know. It was very hard to -- for him to get involved in a fracas with the press, and vice versa. So he was the right person for that job at the right time.
MS. CLIFT: And I don't know that he slips into oblivion. I mean, he's been --
MR. BUCHANAN: No.
MS. CLIFT: -- he's been rumored that he might be named --
MR. BUCHANAN: Ambassador to --
MS. CLIFT: -- as ambassador to Russia.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, he brought that up --
MS. CLIFT: I don't think that's going to happen, but --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean the Russia --
MS. CLIFT: Yeah.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, he brought that up at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast.
MS. CLIFT: He speaks --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And he said that he turned it down.
MR. BUCHANAN: Oh, he was offered it?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He was offered it.
MR. BUCHANAN: My goodness.
MS. CLIFT: Wow. Well, that's impressive that he turned it down.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Inaudible.
MR. TAYLOR: Major -- it's a major loss for this administration. He's one of the few people in the strategic communications team at this White House that knew what they were doing, period.
MS. CLIFT: He was a reporter for Time Magazine, so he had --
MR. TAYLOR: How you replace that and where it goes from here for the next two years --
MS. CLIFT: Josh Earnest is a fine replacement, and he's already got the respect of the press corps. So let's give him a good chance.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, let's remember, Richard Nixon built that briefing room. Remember, the old thing was in the West Wing of the White House. You know, it was all there and had those old guys sleeping in there and playing cards --
MS. CLIFT: Right.
MR. BUCHANAN: -- and drinking. And Nixon built that thing in the old White House swimming pool, which Jack Kennedy, I think --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, unfortunately --
MR. BUCHANAN: -- or Lyndon Johnson made famous. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Unfortunately, he didn't (buy off ?) the press corps.
Forced prediction: Should the Redskins and will the Redskins change their name?
MR. BUCHANAN: No, they will not.
MS. CLIFT: Yes. Double yes.
MR. TAYLOR: Yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Double yes?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes. They'll have no choice. They're going
to change the name.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, but not soon.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, I'm not predicting that.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: At a future date.
(C) 2014 Federal News Service