THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP
HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN
JOINED BY: MICHAEL BARONE, TONY BLANKLEY,
ELEANOR CLIFT, AND DAVID CORN
TAPED FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 1999
AIRED THE WEEKEND OF SEPTEMBER 25-26, 1999
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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: Standing Pat.
PATRICK BUCHANAN (columnist, presidential candidate): (From videotape.) Katie, the key thing he said was that I did not think that the war against Hitler and Tojo was a noble cause. That's a vicious and a damnable lie, and I'm really astonished that John McCain would not come on this morning and face me and make the charge to my face.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who is Pat calling a liar? Arizona senator and presidential candidate John McCain, that's who. Tuesday night at a book signing in Chicago, McCain lashed out at Buchanan's new book, "A Republic, Not an Empire."
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ): (From videotape.) It's evident to me that by his own rhetoric Pat has left the Republican Party. I believe that defeating Hitler's Germany and Tojo's Japan was a noble cause, and I wouldn't want any Republican or any American to believe otherwise.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's a dispute that is heating up the airwaves and the fax machines at newsrooms all across the country. Buchanan fought back with a press statement the very next day:
"My own uncle, Regis Crum, was at Kasserine Pass in Sicily, under Patton, and at Anzio, where he received a Silver Star -- and wounds, from which he never fully recovered. For John McCain to suggest that I thought that the great cause for which my four uncles and Shelly's dad and millions of veterans fought and bled was ignoble is baseless, false, and contemptible."
Regarding Senator McCain's reference to Tojo, Buchanan said this:
MR. BUCHANAN: (From videotape.) Let me first hold up right here, from the U.S. Pacific fleet -- it is a citation for heroism and valor under fire, for Shelly's father, who was a flight surgeon on the carrier Cabot (sp) under kamikaze attack. You know who signed that citation? Rear Admiral John V. McCain. Shelly's dad was proud his whole life of how he had served the Navy. He was honored to have been honored by a great man like John McCain's grandfather. And to suggest that I think that the butchers who attacked and murdered our men in their beds at Pearl Harbor should not have been defeated and crushed, and that that was not a noble cause is, as I say -- it is a vicious and a damnable lie.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question -- the "Shelly" that Pat refers to, of course, is Shelly Buchanan, Mrs. Buchanan.
Here is what McCain said about Buchanan in a statement McCain released on Wednesday: Quote, "He" -- Buchanan -- "uses statements and beliefs that we should not have fought against Hitler's Germany and Tojo's Japan."
Does McCain misrepresent Buchanan, Barone?
MR. BARONE: John, I think the passage that John McCain is referring to there, perhaps a little inartfully, is the passage where Pat Buchanan in his book is making the same case that Charles Lindbergh, Joseph P. Kennedy, or Senator Robert A. Taft made in 1940 and '41: that, in effect, we can live with Hitler; he's not a good thing, but we can -- it's better than going to war. And Pat does endorse that view in his book.
What I found more disturbing in the book is the passages where Pat Buchanan sets out where various ethnic or religious groups have backed policies. And then at a couple of paragraphs or pages later, he suggests that they're putting the interests of the United States second to the interests of other countries. I think that kind of argument is poison. You should attack policies, if you disagree with them, on the merits, as Pat Buchanan often does in his effective prose. Let's leave the ethnic groups out of it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: Well, in making his case for isolationism, he argues that the U.S. could have avoided getting into the Second World War at various points before Pearl Harbor and before Germany declared war.
I think that John McCain is correct to call him on the suggestion that this involvement was unavoidable. If ever there was a case for a foreign entanglement, it was the Second World War.
And frankly, if Pat Buchanan wants to be in the White House, I don't think this kind of appeasement is what we are seeking in a president. He's going to have his views scrutinized and dissected, just as he has done to other figures in public life.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What does Pat actually say in the book?
MR. BLANKLEY: Oh yeah, I mean, I think, unfortunately, Senator McCain probably didn't read the book. My guess is some staffer summarized it for him. And a lot of people, including journalists, have not read the book.
What Pat is talking about, it's a minority view, revisionist scholarship; we've seen similar works in English scholarship in the last few years. I think it's dumb of Pat to have introduced it into the political setting because you can't mention the word "Hitler" without getting yourself in trouble in American politics. He should have known better.
But I also think that an awful of people who are opposed to Pat are now taking this as an opportunity to take some unfair shots at him.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The British historian he lifts from is Allen (sp) John Taylor, who was a towering historian and shares Buchanan's view that the West made -- or Britain and France made a singularly bad judgment in telling Poland that it could support Poland, because that threw Russia into the war. Pat wants to have Russia battling it out with Germany, thus weakening Russia --
MR. BLANKLEY (?): Yeah, I mean I think he -- look --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and preventing what has been 50 years of Russian Communism. But Hitler was destined to go east, and the bad judgment made on the part of the West was to fail to realize and to canalize, according to Chamberlain, the other historian whom he quotes --
MR. : Wait, wait, wait --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Just let me finish, because I think Pat deserves to be heard for what he says, which is a "might have been" speculation; what might have been and how it would have affected the course of history. But Pat never says in the book that we should not have fought the war. He doesn't get clear to say that. He said in a "might have been", speculative --
MR. : Well --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Just let me finish! Speculative world, if France and Britain had canalized and let happen Hitler's movement to the east, it would not have involved many other countries and it would have weakened Russia and it would have saved millions of Jewish lives. Are you aware of what I'm saying?
MR. CORN: I've read the book, just like you have, too. And the interesting thing, when he talks about Jewish lives, he talks about lives in western European nations, not in Germany. His thesis is, if Britain and France had not gotten in the way of Hitler he would have just turned east and left western Europe --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No -- well, he says that Chamberlain --
MR. CORN: -- would have left western Europe alone.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Chamberlain started the bad chain of events by telling Poland that France and Britain would come to its defense, and they had no intention --
MR. CORN: What basically -- but he's saying --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- nor the power to do so.
MR. CORN: He's saying the West had no interest in getting in there and preventing Hitler's rise of fascism or spread eastward if it did not affect them directly. And that's --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you saying --
MS. CLIFT: Right. And --
MR. CORN: And not until Japan attacked the United States does he believe we had any reason to get in the way of Hitler.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay.
MS. CLIFT: The thing is, if you -- if you -- if you accept what you just said about Pat's views, the problem with it is that it shows a real cavalier disdain for what was happening to Poland, to Jews in Poland, and to the Jews in Germany.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, that's nonsense, Eleanor. That's just absolute nonsense.
MS. CLIFT: That's the problem. That's the problem --
MR. BLANKLEY: The point is, John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat is lifting from several, quite a few, authorities. It's not Kennedy, it's not --
MR. BARONE: Well, A.J.P. -- John, A.J.P. Taylor, in his long, coherent --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's not Joe Kennedy, Jr., it's -- Taylor. If you want to attack Buchanan, you got to attack Taylor.
MR. BARONE: I'm happy to attack Taylor, who took a number of different views on this in the course of his lifetime and used to just extemporize his speeches on the BBC. He's --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Inaudible due to cross talk) -- on the BBC radio and television. He taught at Oxford.
MR. CORN: He was a provocateur.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He was also a columnist for the Manchester Guardian and he deplored isolationism, I might add.
MR. CORN: He was also quirky in other ways, but the fact is that Pat Buchanan is getting us into a lot of counter-factuals, here, where we don't really know.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Maybe Barone is.
MR. CORN: Well, the fact is that Kennedy, Taft and the other isolationists, Lindbergh in 1940, '41, have the excuse, at least, that they didn't know fully what Hitler was. Pat Buchanan doesn't really have that excuse. The fact is that he can say that he was getting --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Look. You don't see Lindbergh and you don't see Kennedy in Buchanan's book being quoted as authorities for his geostrategy.
MR. BARONE: He does quote --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Or his geostrategical might-have-been.
MR. CORN: Well, his might-have-been. The idea that -- the idea that --
MR. CORN: Well, yes it does. Why can't we hypothesize the might-have-been? --
MR. CORN: Well, we can. We can. But he's not just hypothesizing, speculating. He's putting forward the argument that it would have been better not to get involved before the Pearl Harbor invasion. And that's --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Not true.
MR. CORN: And that's how he's defending -- he's defending the America firsters, and --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I didn't read that in there.
MR. CORN: Well, that's how I read it and that's how most people are seeing it.
MR. BARONE: Oh, yes. Oh, I would read it that way, too.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Apology time.
MR. PATRICK BUCHANAN: (From videotape.) And come forward and do the honorable thing and make an apology to my wife and to me.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: "No, we've got nothing additional to say. We've made our point quite clear," so stated a McCain spokesman to a McLaughlin staffer on Thursday. Question -- again, here is what McCain says about Buchanan in a statement McCain released on Wednesday. Quote: "He, Buchanan, uses statements and beliefs that we should not have fought against Hitler's Germany and Tojo's Japan." But those sentiments appear nowhere in Buchanan's book, so should McCain apologize? Eleanor Clift?
MS. CLIFT: I don't think that John McCain owes him an apology, and I think Pat Buchanan should understand the sound-bite culture. It's very hard to have a nuanced debate about an academic point that he's trying to make when you're talking about Hitler and the Jews.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Should he apologize?
MR. BLANKLEY: Of course he should, if only on the Japanese issue, where it's unambiguous that the he misstated Pat's position.
On the Hitler one, it's a little ambiguous. You could interpret that both ways. I think he does owe him an apology, although he probably should demand one from his staff for having misinformed him.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, he's an officer as well as a gentleman.
MR. BLANKLEY: He is.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And one can understand that, as a senator, he doesn't have to apologize under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, but as an officer and a gentleman, should he not apologize for misrepresenting what Buchanan says in his book?
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, I think that this has started into a very ugly personal movement in the campaign on all sides, not just for these two men, but other players.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why; to get Pat out of the race, to marginalize him; and not only that, to render him illegitimate as a thinker?
MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah. I think it's turning ugly, and a lot of people should take a step back more deeply.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you say? Should he apologize?
MR. CORN: I think McCain should say, "You know, I've gone back, I've read the chapters that we're talking about, and I see that you divide World War II into a good war, which is after the Japanese attack, and a bad war, which is before the Japanese attack, and I should have stuck with just the earlier period in criticizing it." That's what a gentleman would do.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is not the central proposition of that whole part of the book -- and by the way, it is quite a masterful treatment that the United States is not an empire, it is a republic; and very well-suited for our particular time, when you have NATO reaching in with its interventionism, and the United States reaching in, horribly so in Kosovo, with its interventionism.
MR. CORN: I agree with you. I think --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did he not say this should be a fight between Germany and Stalin, between Hitler and Stalin? Isn't that what he wanted?
MR. CORN: That's exactly what he wants.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And he saw a series of events leading up to that.
MR. CORN: He said we shouldn't care about what's happening internally in Germany or what Germany does to the East, to Poland and Czechoslovakia; it's not our business.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you talking -- are we in Holocaust talk here now? Because what Pat says is, if it had happened in the "might have been" way that he describes, it would have saved millions of lives that were lost in Holland and six other countries.
MR. CORN: What would it have done for Germany. And he also says that the U.S. would have had diplomatic pressure to exert on Hitler --
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, look.
MR. CORN: Let me finish.
MR. BLANKLEY: No, no --
MR. CORN: That the U.S. would have had diplomatic to exert on Hitler, to stop the Holocaust, if they had stayed out of the war.
MS. CLIFT: In this country --
MR. CORN: I think that's foolish.
MS. CLIFT: In this country --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, you think it's foolish.
MR. CORN: Hitler would have listened to Washington in what to do about the Jews? Come on. Come on. That's crazy.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Chamberlain and other historians don't particularly agree with you. Chamberlain's appeasement.
MR. BARONE: Chamberlain was very much --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The revisionist view on Chamberlain's appeasement is that the appeasement bought time for London to get prepared for entry into the war and, from that point of view, was not bad. Trying to save Chamberlain's reputation today.
MS. CLIFT: In this country --
MR. BARONE: John, I think the fact is that John McCain is right about what Pat Buchanan was saying about what the United States ought to have done in 1940 and '41, that it should have stayed out of that war in the hopes -- now, we don't really know what's in Hitler's mind. And in fact, at one point Pat Buchanan says that he doesn't know for sure what's in Hitler's mind. Hitler was allied with Russia until June 22nd, 1941. So for much of that period, they were linked together.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know what you're confusing? You're confusing Pat's hypothetical "might have been" with the real course of events.
MR. BARONE: I'm not confusing --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat is saying, under the real course of events, of course we should have fought this war to the limit!
MR. BARONE: No, what he says is that -- he says when we were attacked in -- December 7th, 1941, and when Germany declared war on us in December 11th, 1941, we should have fought completely. And it should be said, in Pat Buchanan's defense, that --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, more Buchanan. More Buchanan.
WILLIAM KRISTOL (The Weekly Standard): (From videotape.) Buchanan, I think, is leaving the Republican Party. It's a good thing for the Republican Party; it is a good thing for conservatives. And I think that conservative Republicans --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What does Patrick Buchanan think about what many believe is Mr. Kristol's ongoing attempt to drum Buchanan out of the Republican Party?
MR. BUCHANAN: (From videotape.) Well, let me tell you about Mr. Kristol. He runs that little dinky magazine that's been subsidized by Rupert Murdoch, that pretends to be conservative.
And these little boys have been on Pat Buchanan's case for a long time. The reason they are outraged, I'll tell you, is because they fear that Pat Buchanan may move to the Reform Party and take the conservative movement with him.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is Pat Buchanan, Tony, speaking the truth about why Kristol and company, in other words, the neo-conservative conformist orthodoxy that is conducting an inquisition on him -- (laughter) -- Kristol and company say what they say? Is he right? Is it because they just want to silence him because he is interfering with the election of George W. Bush?
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, look, I think that Kristol and his people think that there is a majority governing party without social conservatives. I think he is wrong. I think Reagan understood that you look for every piece of vote you can get to build a coalition. I don't like Buchanan walking away from the Republican Party; I don't like Kristol trying to purge people out of the Republican Party.
MS. CLIFT: Tony, first of all --
MR. BLANKLEY: You need a coalition of all the conservatives and moderates to have a Republican Party in this country.
MS. CLIFT: First of all, it's really nice to have Pat Buchanan back as a panelist this week. He is getting -- (laughs) -- (laughter) -- as much air time as anybody else.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think that's -- you think this all has been contrived by Pat in order to keep himself up there?
MS. CLIFT: Look, I think that Kristol and a lot of Republicans find Pat Buchanan's views abhorrent in a number of areas. I grant them sincerity on that.
But what is also going on here is the "good riddance" strategy: They are going to try to turn him into David Duke, as he goes out the door, and hope that they taint him so much that Ross Perot --
MR. BLANKLEY: And they are making --
Q -- rethinks his strategy of --
MR. BLANKLEY: -- and they are making a big mistake --
MS. CLIFT: -- (inaudible) -- party.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?
MR. BARONE (?): Tony, it's wonderful --
MR. BLANKLEY: They are making a big mistake if they think the Republican Party to be a governing party by -- (inaudible) -- to drive in --
MR. BARONE (?): Well -- so, Tony --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay.
MR. BARONE: Tony, just a minute.
MR. BLANKLEY: -- (inaudible) -- it's a wonderful --
MR. BARONE: Just a minute.
MR. BLANKLEY: -- it's a wonderful -- we'll be watching and searching --
MR. BARONE: The fact is you talk about the social conservatives, Pat Buchanan is leaving a party which has an anti-abortion plank, in which Bill Kristol and the Weekly Standard crowd are in favor of limiting abortion.
MR. BLANKLEY: I --
MR. BARONE: He is going to a party called the Reform Party --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I love --
MR. BLANKLEY: I heard it. I --
MR. BARONE: -- which most of the members are against abortion restrictions and want to have this go up.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I love noncorformist intellectual honesty. For example, in the current issue of Foreign Affairs, we find the lead article by Michael Mandelbaum. Do you know who he is?
MR. BARONE: He was a former adviser to Bill Clinton who has been against him on many issues.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Where does he teach?
MR. BARONE: He teaches here in town, I think.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Johns Hopkins. And he is also now at the Carnegie Foundation.
His lead article is called "The Perfect Failure": "Kosovo's consequences were just the opposite of what NATO intended: suffering Kosovar civilians, regional instability and a fuming Russia and China." That's not the ongoing view in this city, of course.
MR. CORN: Of course not.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's quite a noncorformist view.
MR. CORN: It's a non-issue --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It also happens to be Pat Buchanan's opinion.
MR. CORN: I think Pat in his book brings forward a lot of interesting questions and issues --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay.
MR. CORN: -- but he's dragging it down --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, why do you want to shut him up?
MR. CORN: I don't want to shut him up. I'd love to hear him talk.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right.
MR. CORN: He's fomenting a circular firing squad amongst conservatives. What could make me happier?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now I want to pursue the point of nonconformism in writing, because the second lead article has this for a title: "Does China Matter," with Gerald Segal writing it. This is what he says:
"No, it is not a silly question, merely one that is not asked often enough. Odd as it may seem, the country that is home to a fifth of humankind is consistently overrated as an economy, a world power, and a source of ideas. Economically, China is a relatively unimportant, small market. Militarily, it is less a global rival like the Soviet Union than a regional menace like Iraq."
MR. BARONE: Well, John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: "And politically, its influence is puny. The Middle Kingdom is a middle power. China matters far less than it and most of the West think, and it is high time the West began treating it as such."
MR. BARONE: Well, John, John, if you read farther in that article --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quite a brilliant article.
MR. BARONE: John, if you read --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Very, very unorthodox, would you not say?
MR. CORN: Right. I work for a magazine that specializes in being unorthodox.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you want to stop him from speculating in this unorthodox, nonconformist way?
MS. CLIFT: Who's stopping Pat? He's everywhere on the airwaves! (Chuckles.)
MR. BARONE: John, I'm not interested in stopping anybody. If you read -- I would point out, if you read farther down in Gerald Segal's article, as I have, he talks about the danger -- the potential military danger from China in 10 years. He does not describe that as "puny" by any means. And I think that says that we all ought to be concerned --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it a non-conformist, out-of-the-mainstream view of China? Bill Clinton --
MR. BARONE: I'm very happy to have non-conformist views on all sorts of subjects. I think if Pat Buchanan wants to re-argue the years 1940 and '41 and say, as Charles Lindbergh and others did, that we should not have adopted the policies of aiding Britain and other policies at that time --
MS. CLIFT: You could --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Surely you feel --
MR. BARONE: -- he's going to be in political trouble.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You feel a certain affection, do you not, for those intellectuals who want their freedom and they want their preferences historically, from their point of view?
MR. BLANKLEY: I think it's out of that kind of dissenting expression of opinion that you get a healthier majority opinion eventually. So you need vigorous contrary dissent.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So you also can learn from the mistakes of the past --
MR. BLANKLEY: Exactly.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- like Kosovo.
MR. CORN: And then you debate it. I mean, that's the thing. There's a lot in Pat's book -- when he goes on about how America is a European nation and we should worry about immigration, I think that's a wonderful issue to debate.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: One final point: Several years ago --
MR. BARONE: And let's not have the debate take place on the ethnicity of the arguments or the religious background of the arguments; let's talk about these issues on the merits.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Several years ago, sitting in your seat was Patrick Buchanan. Abe Rosenthal had -- wrote a tough column about Patrick Buchanan being an anti-Semite. The four of us on the panel then, with The four of us on the panel then, with him sitting there -- (off mike) -- my question, "Is Patrick Buchanan an anti-Semite?" And four of us said no.
I want to put that question now. Do you think that Patrick Buchanan is an anti-Semite?
MR. BARONE: I don't want to accuse anybody of being an anti-Semite. I think some of his statements have invited that, and I would defer to William F. Buckley's treatment of his --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that as far as you'd care to go?
MR. BARONE: Yes, sir.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A little weak sistered, wouldn't you say?
MR. BARONE: I would not.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: I agree with Michael. I don't think that's a weak comment. I think Pat uses language -- he uses code language --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Code language?
MS. CLIFT: -- in way to appeal to the extreme right wing, and then he gives us that little mischievous cackle and a wink, as though it's all a game.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does that make him an anti-Semite?
MS. CLIFT: No, he's a appealing to a certain aspect of the American public who knows --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Do you think he's an anti-Semite?
MR. BLANKLEY: I've never read or heard a word from him that would suggest that.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think he's an anti-Semite?
MR. CORN: I think he is a tribalist that sees the world as a clashing competition between tribes, and he makes intemperate and hateful remarks that lead people to draw those conclusions.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think he's an anti-Semite?
MR. CORN: You know, in his heart, I don't know what's deep down there. But I think he has said statements that allow people to draw that conclusion.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: My own view is that Patrick Buchanan is not an anti-Semite.
When we come back, Senator Pat Moynihan says Al Gore is inelectable. Is that kiss-off the kiss of death?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two: Moynihan's Bombshell.
SEN. DANIEL PATRICK MOYNIHAN (D-NY): (From videotape.) Nothing is the matter with Mr. Gore, except he can't be elected president.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's the rationale -- inelectability -- that influential New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan gave Thursday for his endorsement of Democratic presidential candidate Bill Bradley. That makes three senators on board Bradley's train, compared to 16 for Gore.
Question: Is Moynihan right? Is Gore inelectable? This will have to be a round robin. Michael?
MR. BARONE: I think it's possible for him to be elected. He's way behind, but America may pour (sic) more attention to Pat Moynihan than it did in '92, when he nominated a man -- supported a man of great character, Bob Kerrey.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So he is electable?
MR. BARONE: Conceivably, yeah.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Conceivably.
MR. BARONE: Yeah.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Here we go again with you, Michael. Will you lay it on the line? (Laughter.)
MR. BARONE: I said yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: Senator Moynihan thought that Bill Clinton was inelectable because of his problems. He was wrong then. He could very well be wrong again.
But boy, that was a lacerating quote. Very, very cutting.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, if Bradley wins in New Hampshire, does that make Gore inelectable?
MR. BLANKLEY: No, no, no. Clinton lost in New Hampshire, went on to win.
Gore is very much electable. He's a very formidable candidate. He's had a very bad several months, but he can be -- he can get elected president.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly!
MR. CORN: Sitting vice presidents are always electable.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So --
MR. CORN: He has a lot of power, institutional support behind him. You can't write that off.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Of course Al Gore remains electable -- of course.
We'll be right back with predictions.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions, Michael?
MR. BARONE: There will be charges of fraud in the Reform Party's nomination process.
MS. CLIFT: NAACP suit against the gun manufacturers expands to include the Spinal Cord Foundation and teachers' unions.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?
MR. BLANKLEY: Oil prices are going to keep going up, maybe above 30, could be inflation by the springtime.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: David?
MR. CORN: Warren Beatty gives a speech this week saying that he will not take himself out of consideration for president.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hey, brave prediction. And congratulations on "Deep Background," your excellent novel.
Baltimore, 65 percent black. In November Baltimore votes for its mayor. The winner will be a 36-year-old electric guitar player in a local band. His name is Martin O'Malley, a lawyer, and he is white.
Next week: the People's Republic of China's 50th anniversary. Does China matter? Bye-bye!
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PBS SEGMENT FOLLOWS
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue three: The atypical hero. Chicago loves Sammy. Fans went wild when Cubs slammer Sammy Sosa hit number 60 last Saturday, breaking the record for most home runs two seasons in a row. But it's not only the homers that make Sammy loveable -- it's the man himself.
Sosa's success comes at a curious time in American culture when the nation is exploring the more extreme sides of "guyness." Sosa stands in stark contrast to these dominate archetypes. Observes columnist Abraham McLaughlin, "Immaturity is one such guy extreme, as typified today by slipshod parent Adam Sandler in the Hollywood hit `Big Daddy.'"
Do you think it's fair to say that Sammy Sosa cuts right across that and exhibits maturity? And if so, how?
MR. CORN: I think he's a real mensch. I mean, he takes care of his community back home --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He brings his children to the ballpark. He's a good father, right?
MR. CORN: Yes. He's no Mike Tyson!
MS. CLIFT: Well --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, there's another extreme -- hold on, Eleanor -- identity confusion. You'll love this, Eleanor. Men are struggling to find their identity; they don't know what it is. So writes a big-selling feminist writer, Susan Faludi.
MR. BARONE: I think men are struggling to find Susan Faludi's intellect.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Laughs) Why do you say that?
MEMBERS OF THE GROUP: Ooooh!
MR. CORN: Catty, very catty.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that Sammy knows who he is?
MS. CLIFT: I think Sammy has had some life experience that a lot of spoiled men haven't had, and that is that he worked as a shoeshine boy growing up. And he was asked whether he had trouble dealing with the pressure of the home run race, and he said, "A lot more pressure being a shoeshine boy."
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think? Proud father? He's public about the way he feels, his adoration for his mother and --
MR. BLANKLEY: John, I mean, from --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I mean, he's got good identity underpinnings, does he not?
MR. BLANKLEY: I mean, from everything we know about him, he's an admirable man, and it's wonderful that people are paying attention to him.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All. Let's continue this paean of praise. What --
MR. BARONE: John, he's done a lot for the Dominican Republic and helping out, which, by the way, is one of the powerhouse growth places in the Caribbean -- 7 percent growth.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Here's another characteristic of men today Eleanor will love. Swagger is another alleged characteristic, exhibited by World Wrestling Federation athletes notably, whose egos are boundless. Do you think there's any swagger in --
MR. CORN: His modesty, especially last year, when he was in that high drive race with Mark McGwire, I think was overwhelming and really put him in good stead.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Finally, violence. Men today bond viciously, it is said; they run a ferocious pack. So says, "The Fight Club," a new film that has Hollywood abuzz.
Any sign of that, would you say?
MR. BARONE: This guy seems to be a really admirable athlete, a guy who has kept himself in shape --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, when he's really happy, he hops like a rabbit. Have you seen that?
MR. BARONE: I have not. I missed that one.
MR. CORN: And he blows kisses all the time!
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is kind of --
MR. BARONE: I think we should let Eleanor for once say something! You know, she can talk about men too.
MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.) I just want to say that Bill Bradley has mused that he wishes the Democratic Primary fight could be like the home run fight. The trouble is that there's always another season in baseball. There are no second chances for Al Gore or Bill Bradley.