ANNOUNCER: From Washington, THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP, the American original. For over three decades, the sharpest minds, best sources, hardest talk.
It's the 33rd annual MCLAUGHLIN GROUP Year-End Awards 2014, Part Two.
Here's the master of the ceremonies, John McLaughlin.
JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, HOST: Destined for political stardom in 2015.
PAT BUCHANAN, AUTHOR & COLUMNIST: Elizabeth Warren. Eleanor has a leader, and Hillary has a problem.
ELEANOR CLIFT, THE DAILY BEAST: Vivek Murthy, the newly confirmed surgeon general, founder of Doctors for America who is a brilliant leader and entrepreneur in global health issues. We're going to hear from him next year.
MCLAUGHLIN: Is Elizabeth Warren your leader?
CLIFT: I think she's bringing a very important message to the country, but I think Hillary is hearing it, too.
TOM ROGAN, NATIONAL REVIEW/DAILY TELEGRAPH: Susana Martinez, Republican governor of Mexico.
MCLAUGHLIN: Did you hear her answer?
ROGAN: I did.
MCLAUGHLIN: A perfect political answer, right?
MORT ZUCKERMAN, U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT: Jeb Bush. I’m still a great believer in what his political future is.
MCLAUGHLIN: The envelope, Tom. You see this? Oh, here it is. Let's see what we've got.
ROGAN: Tap it.
MCLAUGHLIN: Tap it?
ROGAN: Yes, lucky.
MCLAUGHLIN: Johnny Carson style. Great America. Passed away.
Destined for political stardom in 2015, British Prime Minister David Cameron. This year, he barely held the United Kingdom together and had trouble keeping his governing coalition intact. Next year, Cameron will redefine his country's relationship with the European Union, that will counter the growing threat from the U.K. independence party while keeping Britain in the E.U., a tight rope act that Cameron will pull off.
You care to comment?
BUCHANAN: Yes, I don't think he's going to pull it off.
MCLAUGHLIN: You don't?
MCLAUGHLIN: Does anyone think he's going to pull it off?
ZUCKERMAN: I don't think so. I think he has a very slight chance.
CLIFT: I’m a fan of David Cameron, but he's not a magician.
MCLAUGHLIN: That means a no?
MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is no.
OK. Destined for political oblivion?
BUCHANAN: Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, John. I think Venezuela is going to default on its debt. Almost have to.
CLIFT: Red state Democrats. They all got wiped out in November.
ROGAN: I, like Pat, (INAUDIBLE) Nick Clegg, leader of the third biggest party in the U.K. Coalition partner in the British government, but he's going to struggle in next year's election. Nick Clegg.
ROGAN: Nick Clegg.
ZUCKERMAN: I think Nancy Pelosi has seen her best days and I think she’s going to decline steadily over the next four years.
MCLAUGHLIN: Destined for political oblivion -- Harry Reid, former Senate majority leader, now in the minority, after a year on the back bencher, takes all rules -- takes all rules he created for the Senate. Reid, a former pugilist, will decide it's time to hang up his gloves and not run for reelection.
OK. Best political theater of 2014?
BUCHANAN: Joni Ernst’s ad, saying as a little girl, she used to castrate hogs and so, they ought to send her to Congress, and they did. She's a United States senator.
CLIFT: Bridgegate, still swirling around Governor Christie, and Governor Christie is always entertaining. Shut up and sit down -- when he doesn’t agree with you.
ZUCKERMAN: Nancy Pelosi.
MCLAUGHLIN: Best political theater, Kentucky Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes refuses to say whether she or whether or not she had voted for President Obama during her run to unseat Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell. She was trying to position herself as independent from Obama. Cornered, she invoked the sanctity of the privacy of voting. Great political theater.
OK, worst political theater?
BUCHANAN: I think it's President Hollande, John, getting on the motor scooter with a crash helmet going to visit his mistress and being photographed on it. He is now as Mort indicated the last show at about 10 percent approval.
CLIFT: President Obama wearing his tan summer suit, stopping in the briefing room to answer question, and admitting he had no strategy for ISIS.
ROGAN: Too many people who were using the Ferguson situation which in any level was a tragedy, for their own narrow gain.
ZUCKERMAN: Well, I still think it's the waive the whole Senate Democrat reports on CIA and what they did during the interrogation of captured prisoners. So I think that is still going to be in my judgment a real issue going forward and something that is totally out of the interest of the interest United States.
MCLAUGHLIN: Worst political theater: President Obama's primetime announcement of a unilateral immigration amnesty required for 5 million to 7 million illegal aliens. The speech was so blatantly political that no major television network carried the address. Neither CBS, ABC, nor NBC. President Obama was deprived of a huge primetime audience.
OK, most underreported story of 2014.
BUCHANAN: John, we have all seen the beheadings on television, but what is underreported is hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Christians in Syria and Iraq and across the Middle East are facing persecution, martyrdom and something approaching genocide.
CLIFT: The Republican-lead House committee that declared the administration did not commit any malfeasance in the way it handled the attacks in Benghazi. Under reported in "The Washington Post", it was on page A-14.
ROGAN: Many thousands killed in the Central African Republican. No one has really heard about it or cares except the French to their credit.
ZUCKERMAN: I think the U.S. energy boom has been underreported. We have had a huge breakthrough in the technology of fracking. It’s changed the whole world and the economy the whole world. It's changed our dependence on foreign oil. It’s changed our alliances in terms of their value to us. It's weakened the Soviet Union, Russia, to an extraordinary degree.
I don't think we have an idea of just how critical that is.
MCLAUGHLIN: Yes, something I said last week
ZUCKERMAN: Well, I try --
CLIFT: You covered it on the show. That's right.
MCLAUGHLIN: Feel free to use it anytime you want, even on my show.
ZUCKERMAN: I would have given you credit. I just didn't have time.
MCLAUGHLIN: The most underreported story was the importance of manufacturing to the U.S. economy. It accounts for one-third of our gross domestic product. The manufacturing sector is a driver for other parts of the economy. This year, a shop upturn in manufacturing index helped generate the dramatic upturn in jobs at the years' end. Where is the reporting on it? That’s what I would like to know.
Would you like to know?
BUCHANAN: Look, John, manufacturing has contracted dramatically over the last 40 years. I don't want to get into it. Let's move on.
MCLAUGHLIN: You want me to fight all alone?
MCLAUGHLIN: OK, the most over-reported story?
BUCHANAN: The post-Ferguson protest of people lying down in the streets going into Apple Store in New York, blocking bridges, all the lest of it. The cameras are what is bringing the crowds.
CLIFT: The missing Malaysian jet. A tragedy for sure, but CNN was so obsessive covering it that the network became the butt of jokes.
MCLAUGHLIN: Well, Tom?
ROGAN: The ice bucket challenge. Noble cause, but became so divorced from charity and became a popular selfie thing which is boring in the end.
MCLAUGHLIN: What is this?
ROGAN: The ice bucket challenge, people pouring ice themselves. Good cause, but it became a populace. People wanted to show up with it.
BUCHANAN: (INAUDIBLE), John.
ZUCKERMAN: But what I think climate change is one of the most over-reported stories that we have had. I don't really think it's that predictable an issue anyhow, and there are so many changes that are going on now the terms of what produces higher temperature. So, I think that's an over-reported story.
MCLAUGHLIN: Good for you, Mort.
The most over-reported story? The Republican Party's demographic demise. A coalition of single women, Hispanics, and African-Americans were supposed to prevent a Republican from becoming president ever again. But this fall, the gender gap disappeared. Republicans drew as much as 37 percent of Hispanic support in some races, and men, especially working class white men, a Democratic constituency, overwhelmingly voted Republican.
Your time has come, Pat. You ran for president too early.
OK, biggest government waste?
BUCHANAN: The $25 billion we spent building the Iraqi army which ran away as soon as ISIS attacked.
CLIFT: The taxpayer-funded suit to sue President Obama for making changes in Obamacare.
ROGAN: The fact that weapon have fantastic special forces who in limited numbers could provide a key fight against ISIS, and we're not using them.
MCLAUGHLIN: Did you hear Pat's prediction?
ROGAN: I did.
MCLAUGHLIN: What did you think of it?
ROGAN: I love all of Pat's predictions.
MCLAUGHLIN: You didn't listen to Pat's predictions.
BUCHANAN: What prediction are you talking about?
MCLAUGHLIN: A statement, whatever it is.
BUCHANAN: You think the Iraqi army.
ROGAN: We have talked about the Iraqi army many times on the show.
MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think of what he said?
ROGAN: Well, they're reconstituting the Iraqi army, so it’s improving. I agree with him, but it's improving now. It's not all lost.
MCLAUGHLIN: Did you hear that? He's qualifying your prediction.
ZUCKERMAN: Well, I think ethanol subsidies are one of the biggest wastes that we have in our whole agenda of activity.
BUCHANAN: You've never run in Iowa.
MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, this is a statement of mine. The biggest government waste is a loophole in the earned income tax credit, a so-called refundable credit, that allows you to get money even if you do not pay income taxes. It allows illegal aliens to receive it. So, people in the country illegally receive, get this, $4.2 billion a year in the payments. The biggest government waste.
OK, best government dollars spent?
BUCHANAN: Orion, the new American spaceship which at the end of the year made a spectacular orbit of the earth, and it went through the Van Allen Belt, and it was a total success. We're back, John.
MCLAUGHLIN: I never thought you would predict that?
BUCHANAN: I didn't predict it. I said it. I thought it was the best dollar spent.
MCLAUGHLIN: Since when do you support Orion?
BUCHANAN: I was always for the space program, for heaven's sakes.
MCLAUGHLIN: Were you?
CLIFT: I agree with Pat on that, but --
MCLAUGHLIN: OK, Eleanor?
CLIFT: I agree with Pat on Orion, but I must say the earned income tax credit is one of the best programs that was started for President Reagan, Republicans, Democrats alike supported it. It's not a waste of money.
Best government dollar spent is the money to fight Ebola in West Africa and it was enhanced in the lame duck session, voted on by Republicans and Democrats.
ROGAN: The joint direct attack munitions dropped on top of ISIS. Saved many lives.
ZUCKERMAN: Well, I was going to say the money we spent on the Ebola vaccine as well, because I --
CLIFT: You can say it.
ZUCKERMAN: I think it's a fantastically important thing.
MCLAUGHLIN: I'll move on.
ZUCKERMAN: I have a fall-back position just in case.
MCLAUGHLIN: Save your corrections until after the show.
ZUCKERMAN: No, this is really important.
MCLAUGHLIN: OK, let's go.
ZUCKERMAN: The partial funding of Israeli's Iron Dome, which helped that country save itself, but taught us what you can do in terms of being able to intercept missiles flying in from a hostile country.
Best government dollars spent, the $10 billion that the federal government spends annually to protect cyber attacks. Last year, there were 228,700 cyber incidents involving government computer systems. $10 billion in prevention is worth a trillion dollars in cure.
OK, boldest political tactic?
BUCHANAN: Putin loses Ukraine and then goes in and seizes Crimea and also ISIS, I hate to say it, seized Mosul right away from the Iraqi army, astonishing success.
CLIFT: Boldest tactic -- President Obama's executive order on immigration which will allow up to 5 million people work permits. These are 5 million people who live and work among us and have been here for some time, and the political group repercussions of this are not good for Republicans.
ROGAN: Hillary Clinton claiming that the reset with Russia under her watches after a success.
ZUCKERMAN: Yes, the worst political tactics have been the way we have been relating to the Soviet Union, now Russia, OK? There are all kinds of things we should do. This guy who is running Russia can create havoc for the United States because he has no fear of what the United States will do.
MCLAUGHLIN: Here is the boldest political tactic. President Obama's unilateral executive action such as the recent immigration amnesty and broad EPA regulations concerning carbon emissions that Professor Laurence Tribe of Harvard University objects to as, quote, "an attempt to seize lawmaking power that belongs to Congress," unquote.
Mr. Obama is testing the presidency constitutional limits, a bold experiment in seeing how far America will go in ceding power to one ruler.
You got that, pat?
BUCHANAN: I got that.
MCLAUGHLIN: Put it on a column.
OK, worst political scandal.
BUCHANAN: Worst scandal is clearly Bill Cosby. It's not political, but it's terrible and it's tragic.
MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I hope you listen to his wife's defense of him.
BUCHANAN: I heard.
CLIFT: Worst scandal. I have to give that to the scandal at the V.A. which costs General Eric Shinseki his job. But the new head of the V.A., Bob McDonald, I believe, yes, that’s right, former CEO of Procter & Gamble is doing a great job cleaning up that agency.
MCLAUGHLIN: You couldn't read your notes, Eleanor?
CLIFT: I looked down to read it because there is another Bob McDonnell who is the governor of Virginia, and I thought oh my goodness, I have it confused. Evidently, that's his name.
CLIFT: Bob McDonald.
MCLAUGHLIN: Yes. OK, Tom?
ROGAN: Senate Democrats selling the CIA down the river because the political winds changed.
MCLAUGHLIN: Hmm, those Democrats, huh?
ZUCKERMAN: The IRS harassment of a lot of political groups in this country I think is a scandal.
MCLAUGHLIN: Have they ever harassed you?
ZUCKERMAN: Not yet.
MCLAUGHLIN: Is it harass or harass?
ZUCKERMAN: Well, it all depends on how it comes out of the show.
MCLAUGHLIN: The worst political scandal was the Veteran's Administration scandal of falsifying waitlist at the V.A. hospital while veterans died waiting for medical care.
OK. Best idea of 2014.
BUCHANAN: Fracking. It helped to break OPEC.
CLIFT: Body cameras for cops.
ROGAN: President Obama’s decision to retain combat mission (ph) in Afghanistan into 2015.
ZUCKERMAN: Buying early on the Alibaba IPO.
MCLAUGHLIN: Alibaba, Chinese -- American (INAUDIBLE) genius.
ZUCKERMAN: An unbelievable company.
MCLAUGHLIN: The best idea was New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s decision to impose a mandatory quarantine on travelers from West Africa who had symptoms of Ebola. Christie’s mandatory quarantine was controversial and was criticized by President Obama. A Monmouth University poll shows 67 percent of New Jersey voters approved and 19 percent disapproved of Christie’s quarantine.
OK. Worst idea?
BUCHANAN: The war on cops. It’s been developing ever since Ferguson and Staten Island.
CLIFT: Worst idea, making a movie about the killing of a living head of state, which is what Sony did, inviting a hack attack that has embarrassed top executives and really exposed the company to embarrassment and ridicule and lawsuits.
ROGAN: Worst idea if President Obama’s decision to produce the immigration reform executive ruling, because it’s destroyed potential for compromise.
ZUCKERMAN: The worst idea was prematurely removing our troops from Iraq, in that part of the world.
MCLAUGHLIN: Worst idea was President Obama’s decision to turn over control of ICANN Internet Committee for assigning names and numbers to an international authority that includes Russia and China.
OK, sorry to see you go.
BUCHANAN: Sid Caesar, the funniest man of the 1950s.
CLIFT: Robin Williams, the funniest man of the 2000s.
ROGAN: Congressman Mike Rogers, House Intelligence Committee, honorable man?
ZUCKERMAN: Mike Nichols, the funniest man of all the people mentioned.
ROGAN: Mike Roger left office. He's not departing (ph).
MCLAUGHLIN: Yes, these are all, you know, general (ph) predictions, growing up predictions, salutes.
Sorry to see you go. General Eric Shinseki, the decorated Vietnam combat veteran who had the ill fortune to head up the Veterans Administration when this year’s scandal about lengthy waiting list at V.A. hospitals broke. Shinseki was an honorable man atop of the bureaucracy of disablers and miscreants.
OK, 15 minutes of fame, Pat?
BUCHANAN: RG3, the Redskins quarterback. The city is having a hard time for that one.
CLIFT: The nurse who stood up to Governor Christie and Governor Cuomo, and the governor of Rhode Island, and went out and rode her bike and said she wasn't showing symptoms and she wasn't going to cave to their ridiculous quarantine.
MCLAUGHLIN: All right, Tom?
ROGAN: Former Secret Service Director Pierson who was brought in to shake up the agency but had to leave when an intruder managed to get inside the White House.
ZUCKERMAN: The owner of the -- the new owner of "The New Republic" magazine, Chris Hughes.
MCLAUGHLIN: He's changed the magazine.
ZUCKERMAN: Yes, he has.
MCLAUGHLIN: Turned it upside-down.
ZUCKERMAN: Yes, he has.
MCLAUGHLIN: Is it going to work?
ZUCKERMAN: I would never comment negatively about anybody else’s efforts in the magazine world.
MCLAUGHLIN: A hundred years old.
ZUCKERMAN: Yes, I know. He liked it to last at least another two years.
MCLAUGHLIN: I’ll subscribe.
Fifteen minutes of fame, Wendy Davis, the Texas legislator, who has run for governor collapsed when it was discovered by "The Dallas Morning News" that her biography was wildly inflated. You got to be careful with that stuff, Pat. We told you about it.
Only last year, she was touted as a rising star in the Democratic Party.
OK. Best spin of the year, Pat?
BUCHANAN: Hands up, don’t shot -- it never happened, John, that way, in the streets -- streets of Ferguson.
CLIFT: Speaker Boehner on why he can't bring a vote of immigration. His members come to him and say oh, it's just too hard. Don't make me do it.
MCLAUGHLIN: His mimicry, you like his mimicry.
CLIFT: Yes, that was his mimicry. I’m probably not a good imitator of John Boehner, but I think people get the point.
MCLAUGHLIN: His mimicry is better than the real thing.
ROGAN: President Obama’s narrative that the Republicans are wholly responsible for the lack of progress in bipartisan governance.
ZUCKERMAN: I still love what this guy, Jon Gruber, said when he falsified his assessment of Obamacare and I quote, "I just wanted to make myself sound smarter." I love that and somebody is trying to validate a major piece of legislation.
MCLAUGHLIN: Yes, you complicated a legislation, so he was the only one who could explain it.
ZUCKERMAN: Right. And now that they find out what he's done, it's really undermined a lot of the --
MCLAUGHLIN: How do you account for the amount of money that Gruber has and made?
ZUCKERMAN: He made almost hundreds of thousands of dollars, $6 million --
BUCHANAN: Four to six million.
MCLAUGHLIN: On the healthcare.
BUCHANAN: On connected things, yes.
ZUCKERMAN: That's right.
ROGAN: No one knew what was going on. They had to watch it.
ZUCKERMAN: The whole thing is such a ridiculous story.
MCLAUGHLIN: And does this roll back on to Obama.
ZUCKERMAN: No, rolls back on to Obamacare.
CLIFT: He also was an architect of Romneycare. This is bipartisan.
MCLAUGHLIN: OK, best spin of the year. President Obama’s spin at his recent Beijing summit that China has agreed to cut his carbon admission. The spin worked. The press gave him approving headlines.
The facts are that China did not agree to cut carbon admission at all. Xi Jinping agreed to consider cutting carbon emission, possibly by 2030, 15 years from now. But no commitment whatsoever for the immediate future. Best spin of the year.
OK, the most over-rated, Pat?
BUCHANAN: Hillary Rodham Clinton and her memoir and her performance.
CLIFT: That was last year. Next year will be different.
Russian President Vladimir Putin who has basically destroyed the Russian economy and he is a pariah on the world stage.
MCLAUGHLIN: Do you find her remark to you insulting?
BUCHANAN: No, I think Putin is in trouble.
MCLAUGHLIN: No, she said you’re old hat.
CLIFT: No, I said --
BUCHANAN: She said I’m right in 2014, maybe, but not 2015.
MCLAUGHLIN: OK. I’m just, you know --
CLIFT: Pat and I know what we’re doing.
ROGAN: I don’t think Putin is in as much trouble as he should because of his psychology, but I think the real issue here is Thomas Piketty, the French economist who I think is overrated.
ZUCKERMAN: Yes, I was going to refer to the great leader of Russia whom I don’t think is underrated and I don’t think he’s overrated. He’s done an amazing job with very little, very little other than fear to help him managed his way through a very weak Russian economy.
MCLAUGHLIN: Most overrated: the Democratic liberal coalition of young people, single white woman, African-Americans and Hispanics. This liberal coalition frayed at the edges in 2010, showed signs of distress in 2012 and collapsed completely in 2014. Women have defected in droves, working class whites have left the party, and young people and Hispanics are drawing away.
OK, the most underrated, Pat?
BUCHANAN: Bashar Assad of Syria. I mean, Obama said a couple of years ago, he’s got to go. Everybody said he’s got to go. The guy is still there. Whatever you say about him, and maybe a very bad man, he is one great survivor.
CLIFT: The most underrated is President Obama, who will be credited for bringing the economy back from the depths of a recession, and the economy is about -- it is taking off. I think it’s going to do very well by 2016, and that coalition that you were talking about that’s fraying, it reelected Obama in 2012 and it will be back in 2016. Off-year elections are Republican territory. The main events, the presidential elections, still benefits Democrats more.
MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I feel somewhat better after hearing you.
CLIFT: You’re supposed to feel somewhat worse after hearing me.
MCLAUGHLIN: Well, a little balanced.
ROGAN: Qassem Suleimani who is the leader of the Iranian revolution guard corps external action force, the Quds force. He was essentially now the leader of Iraq because of his power with militias inside Iraq.
MCLAUGHLIN: Very insightful.
ZUCKERMAN: Well, I believe Mayor Bloomberg of New York was underrated, in part when you compare him to the current mayor of New York, who is doing a terrible job. Michael Bloomberg looks absolutely underrated in terms of the way that he was reviewed, even though he was well-reviewed when he was mayor.
MCLAUGHLIN: Bloomberg is going to run for president, will he?
ZUCKERMAN: Boy, I’ll tell you, he’d be terrific. However --
MCLAUGHLIN: Who says he’s too old? He’s not too old.
The most underrated is the positive impact of America’s energy boom on the U.S. economy, manufacturing and jobs and U.S. national security. The energy boom unleashed by hydraulic fracking is a global game changer. Energy independence means the U.S. no longer has to rely on Middle Eastern oil fields. It’s the most underrated phenomenon of the year.
OK. Macro prediction, Pat?
BUCHANAN: Break up of the Eurozone.
CLIFT: The two candidates who looked like they’re going to represent their party so the establishment candidates, Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton. And Jeb Bush is going to run against the base of his party, and Hillary Clinton has got to embrace the base of her party. They’ve each got two very different challenges.
MCLAUGHLIN: So, Jeb is running?
CLIFT: I -- it sure looks that way.
ROGAN: New acts of aggression on the part of President Putin?
ZUCKERMAN: I think, as a macro prediction, I think the economy is going to grow at somewhere between 2 and 2 1/2 percent for the next several years. That’s a very recovery.
MCLAUGHLIN: What is there (ph)?
ZUCKERMAN: If you want to call that a recovery, yes. It’s not a decline, but it’s not enough to really have an impact.
MCLAUGHLIN: We’ll take what we can get.
ZUCKERMAN: Yes, the job market is terrible.
ROGAN: But it is improving.
MCLAUGHLIN: All right. Hold on. My macro prediction is that America will regain its economy putting next year. Thanks to the energy boom, unleashed by record oil production in hydraulic fracking. Steady economy growth will restore American confidence and silence the doom mongers who have spent the fast five years predicting the inevitability of America’s decline.
OK, New Year's resolution.
BUCHANAN: Take a vacation which I didn't do this year, John, and finish my Nixon book.
MCLAUGHLIN: Where are you going to go?
BUCHANAN: I’m just going to go to the eastern shore?
CLIFT: Treat the 24 Republicans considering running for the president respectfully, even though I think most of them probably belong on the clown car, takes a lot of college to enter the arena of politics. You’ve got to stand up and have the courage to fail in front of a lot of people. So, I'll treat them all respectfully.
ROGAN: Retain my British accent so I can continue to hopefully do TV appearances. At the same time, build my writing portfolio on domestic politics, as well as foreign policy.
MCLAUGHLIN: Very edifying. Very.
ROGAN: Thank you, John.
ZUCKERMAN: I’m going to take up long distance running again this year. My back I think has finally healed and I’m going to run three to five miles every day.
MCLAUGHLIN: Central Park?
ZUCKERMAN: Central Park.
MCLAUGHLIN: My New Year's resolution is to keep the MCLAUGHLIN GROUP a spin-free zone, where the latest party issue talking points and line of the day are banished. In their place, you'll find honest analysis, divergent views and independent thinking.
Happy New Year. Bye-bye!