THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP
HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN
JOINED BY: MICHAEL BARONE,
ELEANOR CLIFT, CLARENCE PAGE,
AND BILL SAMMON
TAPED FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 19 1999
AIRED THE WEEKEND OF NOVEMBER 20-21, 1999
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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: Thanksgiving in Kosovo.
On Tuesday President Clinton winds down his week-long overseas tour with a visit to Kosovo and a pre-Thanksgiving dinner with troops stationed there. Unfortunately, there's little to be thankful for in Kosovo.
One, monoethnic, not multiethnic, Kosovo. Serbs, gypsies, and other non-Albanians, numbering in the tens of thousands, have been driven out by vengeance-seeking Albanians spurred on by the criminal KLA. The victors, it turns out, are the ethnic cleansers.
Two, terrorism rampant. The halt of NATO bombing did not stop the KLA, the Kosovo Liberation Army, and its campaign of murder, arson, and kidnapping against innocent non-Albanian civilians.
Three, winter looms. NATO bombings, indiscriminate as they often were, leveled oil refineries, hospitals, power plants, water treatment centers, sanitation facilities, the vital infrastructure of Serbia. Now the Balkan winter has set in, and 10 million Yugoslav civilians feel the angst.
Four, independence likely. Behind closed doors, U.S. officials are admitting that preserving Kosovo as a province of Serbia, something Clinton had repeatedly set as a non-negotiable goal of the war, is now undoable. Clinton has given the okay to Kosovo independence and with it ensuing instability in neighboring Albania and Macedonia, as well as elsewhere in the world, including, some believe, rebel Chechnya.
Five, Europe angry. A legitimized KLA in Kosovo threatens the region with its organized crime. "The Albanian mafia has become notorious in Europe in the last two years, as gangs from Kosovo have pushed into Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany, and Italy," writes Joseph Fitchett in the International Herald Tribune. A KLA mafia stronghold in Central Europe unnerves Europeans in the Balkans and well beyond.
Question: The Kosovo war has been described by Michael Mandelbaum in Foreign Affairs as, quote, "the perfect failure," for reasons like those just outlined. Is it the perfect failure? I ask you, Michael Barone.
MR. BARONE: No, it's by no means the perfect failure, John. Many of the things that you pointed out in that set piece are accurate. I think you're painting a one-sided picture. The fact is that troops from the U.S. and the other leading NATO countries are preventing some of the ethnic slaughter that the Albanians, left to themselves, might do. We know that the Serbians did terrible things in their turn.
The fact is, as I have said on this program at the time of the U.S. troops involvement over there, independence, even though the U.S. said it was pursuing it -- even though the U.S. said it was blocking it -- was something that was going to happen. It comes out of the logic of this whole enterprise. It is not unproblematical, but it's not a disaster.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: Well, it takes time to build a civil society. And in fact, Kosovo is in effect an international protectorate for the near future.
Secondly, there is a lot to be thankful for. The Kosovo Albanians, all the refugees, most of them have come back, and a lot of people said they wouldn't.
Secondly, Europe is footing the bill for the rebuilding of Kosovo. The U.N. is running the operation. The U.S. actually plays a very small role. We have 4,000 troops; it's 14 (percent) to 15 percent of the total. And I think this country, and the allied nations, stood up for a very important principle in going into Kosovo, and I think that principle is worth defending.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mr. Sammon?
MR. SAMMON: Kosovo is a mess now, but it was a bigger mess before. And I think are we --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Inaudible.)
MR. SAMMON: -- yeah, there was ethnic cleansing going on. There were people being murdered at a much larger scale than is going on now. And I think the only thing that we could expect from this intervention was to simply stop most of the killing, just like we did in Bosnia.
This talk about multiethnic democracy that Clinton talked about, was always a pipe dream. It's not going to happen in the short term there.
And I also don't think that there is independence in the cards for Kosovo. Before that ever happens, Milosevic will be out. No one is going to redraw the Balkan borders. That part of the world is a tinderbox, and no one is going to do it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mm-hmm. (In acknowledgment.)
MR. PAGE: John?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, but --
MR. SAMMON: And Clinton will be out of office by then.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'd like to hear from you, Clarence.
MR. PAGE: Well, I was going to say, John, let's wish Pat Buchanan was back here so you'd have somebody to stand with you on this thing. (Laughs.) No, I wouldn't call the Kosovo policy a "perfect failure"; I'd call it an imperfect success, actually.
When you consider the pessimistic predictions about what could happen -- and we all know what could have happened, the kind of chaos that would have been much worse than what was experienced; first of all, we got away without U.S. casualties. That shouldn't be the goal of a policy, but that was one thing that we wanted to watch out for. Secondly, the message was sent that the U.S. is not a police officer to the world but going to stand on the side of some kind of stability.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I think we have got a greater Albania -- Kosovo will unite with Albania -- and that greater Albania will be narcoterrorist state. Gangs are already operating there. And it's the largest heroin-smuggling point in Europe.
And I can refer you, since we don't have the time to discuss it, to an article by Joseph Fitchett in October the 1st's International Herald Tribune.
MR. PAGE: You have it in your hand.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I have it in my hand.
MR. PAGE: Right here.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And I have drawn some of the ideas from it for this particular segment. And I think you ought to read it. It's extremely sobering. And I think you particularly, Mr. Sammon, are living in dreamland. (Laughter.)
Exit: Should the sanctions against Yugoslavia be lifted now, at this Thanksgiving time, while President Clinton is over there, so that heat and clean water and electricity are available by mid-winter to the 10 million or so Serbs in proper Serbia?
MR. BARONE: Well, with some reluctance, I say no, they should not be. Milosevic is still in power. Unfortunately, the chances of getting him out of there do not look good. But this guy has been a monster, causing all sorts of trouble that could have been avoided. I think we should continue sanctions.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, what makes you think that if the United States Senate could not remove a lawless president, that the people of Kosovo, the people of Serbia can remove a lawless Milosevic? Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: Well, but we don't need to reward a lawless Milosevic. I say humanitarian relief, yes; sanctions, I agree with Michael, reluctantly, I say they stay put.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What to you think?
MR. SAMMON: As problematic as sanctions are, like in Iraq they don't really work, I think for now you have to keep them in. You have to remember that we did make an exception for some infrastructure work. We are allowing some infrastructure to be repaired, and humanitarian work. So I think you do have to keep some economic sanctions.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?
MR. PAGE: Yeah, I'm afraid so. I think we've got agreement on this -- so far, John -- that sanctions don't work, they're a bad idea, we ought to allow humanitarian relief, but we've got to keep the sanctions on officially just so our policy can be --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is that it's senseless to make ordinary Yugoslav citizens suffer for Milosevic. The sanctions should be removed.
When we come back: Buchanan and Fulani; the impossible dream or the scary nightmare?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two: Opposites attract.
LENORA FULANI (Reform Party member): (From videotape.) Pat Buchanan is not a racist, he is not a Fascist and he is not a bigot. So we're going to integrate that peasant army of his. (Applause.) We're going to bring black folks, Latino folks, gay folks and liberal folks into that army.
PAT BUCHANAN (Reform Party presidential candidate): (From videotape.) Welcome aboard. Your pitchfork has been assigned. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: With that, Lenora Fulani became the ultra-liberal half of a singularly odd political couple as she endorsed conservative Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan for president. She was also named a co-chair of his campaign. Fulani is a pro-choice, homosexual rights advocate who was the 1988 presidential candidate of the extreme leftist New Alliance Party.
Buchanan acknowledged that his decision might surprise some, given that he was on the staffs of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. What an understatement! But Buchanan did not stop there. He announced that he will meet with New York's Reverend Al Sharpton, the notoriously controversial black leader, to further expand Buchanan's Reform Coalition.
Buchanan is no longer a conservative, he's a radical, allied with the worst elements of American radicalism. And it's time for those who continue to make the absurd claim that Buchanan carries the mantle of Ronald Reagan to quiet down. Ronald Reagan spent his life as a politician battling the soulless arguments and hysterias of people like Lenora Fulani." So says the New York Post.
Question: Is it shrewd of Patrick Buchanan to join Fulani and to meet with Sharpton? I ask you.
MR. BARONE: Well, if it's shrewd for him to go to, you know, the elephant cage and the lion cage in the zoo and make alliances with them -- I mean, you're talking about some really strange folks --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now you don't mean that.
MR. BARONE: No, the fact is, Pat Buchanan has become obsessed the last couple of years, as viewers of this program know, with the trade issue. He wants protectionism, he wants to shut off immigration, and he wants to change the whole view of Americans for the last 50 years on foreign policy. It's an ambitious agenda. And he's taken his allies where he can find them, and they're in pretty odd places. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Don't you see what Buchanan is accomplishing? He's regarded as intolerant, but if he now joins forces with blacks, who can say that he's intolerant?
Furthermore, the Jewish community is, to some extent, being baited by this, is it not, because ever since Crown Heights, the blacks and the Jews in New York have not seen eye to eye, and Buchanan therefore, by allying himself with the blacks -- do you want to follow through with this train of thought?
MR. PAGE: I just want to hear more generalities flow out of you right here, John. (Laughs.) I mean, this is amazing. First of all, I haven't seen blacks being brought into the Buchanan camp yet. I see one black person being brought in!
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, it's going to infuriate the Jewish voters of New York to see Buchanan allied with Sharpton and allied with Fulani.
MR. PAGE: But all three of these individuals have already infuriated Jewish voters in New York. What's the difference?
No, let's get back to your original question --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How can they then criticize Buchanan if Buchanan is allied with the blacks?
MR. PAGE: Let me count the ways, John. I mean, let's go back to your original question --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you see my point?
MR. SAMMON: I agree. That's the only thing I can fathom that he's trying to do -- is neutralize those who say he's intolerant. But look at the price he's paying. He's aligning himself with people whose ideology is diametrically opposed to his own.
MR. PAGE: Like Ross Perot. (Laughs.)
MR. SAMMON: Right. And he's a fringe candidate. Let's face it; Pat Buchanan is a fringe candidate. He is marginalized. He is not a major player in this election.
MS. CLIFT: This is pure opportunism on the part of Fulani and Buchanan. This is where the left and the right have each gone off so far over the edge that they've fallen off and they meet.
But Buchanan is the man who wrote Richard Nixon's toast to Mao Zedong, the Butcher of Beijing -- (laughter) -- and sat there in rapt attention --
MR. BARONE: When the Cultural Revolution was going on.
MR. PAGE: That's right.
MS. CLIFT: -- and wait -- and his intellectual position -- his intellectual --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you know, I was there at the time, and I talked to Buchanan -- (laughs) -- about what he thought of that trip and why he went, and believe me --
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- you know, your characterization is so off the mark.
MS. CLIFT: Well, if you'd let me finish --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And let me say this --
MS. CLIFT: -- no, let me finish --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- let me -- I want to get to the question of whether or not this is going to help him get the Reform Party nomination.
MS. CLIFT: Well, his intellectual justification is that in diplomacy and in politics, you have to do some pretty weird things in order to accomplish great goals.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is --
MS. CLIFT: Does this help him get the Reform nomination? Maybe.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What does it do to help him get the nomination? A, it will blunt the charge that he's intolerant; B, that it will blunt the charge that he's biased; and C, it will blunt -- it will blunt what's-his-name, Ventura, who says that he is socially illiberal.
MR. BARONE: John, you can put a lot of hot air in it; you're not going to raise that balloon.
MR. PAGE: (Laughing) Thank you!~
MR. BARONE: The fact is -- the fact is, what's he doing with Al Sharpton? Here is a guy who was adjudged in a civil case in Dutchess County, New York to have lied, making charges in the Tawana Brawley hoax against a policeman or a prosecutor of the most vile sort.
What is Al Gore going to see Al Sharpton for? What is Bill Bradley going to see Al Sharpton for? What is Pat Buchanan going to see Al Sharpton for?
MS. CLIFT: Well, he speaks for a lot of people.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, apparently you don't believe Ed Koch, who feels that Al Sharpton has really cleaned up his act --
MR. BARONE: He has not cleaned up his act after the civil trial --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and is becoming much more of a mature politician.
MR. BARONE: He has not --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Excuse me! Excuse me! I'm quoting Koch correctly. But what Buchanan has accomplished here has definitely enhanced his chances of getting that nomination.
MR. PAGE: John! John! Al Sharpton is not in the Buchanan camp yet.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue three: Political potpourri. Item: Bradley's athletic supporters.
BILL BRADLEY (D-NJ, Presidential candidate): (From videotape.) It's great to have these teammates with me in this, my biggest game.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It was a supernova jock-fest at Madison Square Garden last Sunday as ex-New York Knick and presidential contender, Bill Bradley, held fundraising court with former basketball pros. "Dollar Bill" -- Bradley's pro-athlete nickname -- scored $1.5 million in that one Garden event Sunday by capitalizing on his glory days as a basketball star. Plus Bradley's 10 years with the Knicks -- he played from '67 to '77 -- may help him make in-roads with middle-age white males who remember player Bill. And Bradley's camaraderie with black athletes may help woo the critical black vote, aggressively pursued by Al Gore.
JULIUS ERVING (Former Philadelphia '76-er): (From videotape.) How he's viewed as a political entity right now is not dependent on what he did in sports, but it's a wonderful chip for him to have in his corner.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: What's this kind of exposure worth to Bradley's campaign?
I ask you, Clarence?
MR. PAGE: Well now you're getting it, John. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Millions, it's worth millions, right?
MR. PAGE: More than Lenora Fulani is going to bring to Pat Buchanan, I want to tell you!
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How about Al Sharpton, what is he going to bring to Al?
MR. PAGE: No, but you're right on the money.
You know, this is going to be news to Al Sharpton that he's suddenly in the Pat Buchanan camp, John.
But no, the fact is that you're absolutely right that Bill Bradley is trying to go after Al Gore's base. Al Gore -- right now Al Gore is strong with black voters; Bill Bradley is strong with males, especially white males. The higher up in education you go, the more Bradley supporters you've got; the lower in income you go, the more Gore supporters. So this is a good way for Bradley to penetrate. Gore, I understand, has gotten Michael Jordan's mother on his side right now -- (laughing) -- so the counter-assault is on!
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Of course this also clearly separates him from Gore, because Gore now is a policy-wonk, whereas Bradley is a regular guy. He's reinserted himself right into the mainstream of the American male, in particular.
MR. SAMMON: Yeah, this also shows Bradley is the outsider, Gore is the insider. Gore keeps setting up these endorsements with congressmen and senators, the usual suspects.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but --
MR. SAMMON: Bradley gets Spike Lee, NBA legends, Reich. He gets these headline-grabbing endorsements while -- you know, Gore's getting most of them. Bradley's playing this outsider game --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, we got to move on. Item: Hassling Hillary.
"With all due respect, the kind of baseless allegations made by Palestinian officials, including your wife, are not contributing to the atmosphere of negotiations and they should stop." So told Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat this week, reacting to a comment by Arafat's wife, Suha, last week at a West Bank clinic opening attended by first lady and putative New York Senate candidate Hillary Clinton. Suha Arafat said this, quote, "It is important to point out here the severe damage caused by the intensive daily use of poison gas by the Israeli forces in the past years which has led to an increase of cancer cases among Palestinian women and children."
Mrs. Clinton listened, showing no discomfiture. But some 24 hours later, Hillary commented on the Suha Arafat charge.
MRS. HILLARY CLINTON: (From videotape.) Everyone who supports this effort toward resolving the outstanding issues among the parties should refrain from inflammatory rhetoric, from baseless accusations."
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This tepid response drew criticism from even Clinton's most passionate supporters. Perhaps the first lady should, quote, "give up her day job," suggested New York Democratic Party Chairwoman Judith Hope, "and put a cot in her Chappaqua $1.7 million home so she can properly campaign in New York as a resident."
Others say that Mrs. Clinton impassive reaction to Suha Arafat should come as no surprise.
MRS. CLINTON: (From videotape.) So I think that the territory that the Palestinians currently inhabit and whatever additional territory they will obtain through the peace negotiations should be considered and evolve into a functioning modern state.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The same Hillary who will be donning yarmulkes and making her appeal in the synagogues of New York is the same woman who was chairing the New World Foundation, '82 to '88, when a $15,000 grant was awarded to a group called Grassroots International, with direct ties to the PLO. So writes former Clinton investigator and author Barbara Olson, who notes, "This was a time when the PLO was committed to the extinction of Israel and excelled in the arts of assassination and mayhem to press its claim."
Question: Hillary co-managed Bill Clinton's two successful presidential campaigns and Bill's gubernatorial races. She's no novice. She must have recognized the political peril of keeping silent. Why did she choose that peril? Why did she keep silent at the time that she was sitting there and then embrace Suha?
MS. CLIFT: Well, first of all, the news accounts described her as sitting there stony-faced. She didn't sit there placidly. Secondly, if she had stormed out, that would have blown up the peace process. I think she behaved in the right way. And the prime minister of Israel issued his statement, and apparently the Palestinians are not upset.
But what she's got to deal with is the fact that the combination of being a first lady and a Senate candidate may be as lethal as being a first lady and trying to reform health care. So she's got -- if she's committed to this campaign, she's got to show New Yorkers she's committed.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well.
MS. CLIFT: And I think she's very ambivalent about what she wants and how she wants to portray herself. She can't have it both ways.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Don't you think that's largely rubbish?
MR. BARONE: Well, that last point --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Particularly what she said about sitting there. She should have stood up and said --
MR. BARONE: Well, stony-faced --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- "What you are saying, Mrs. Arafat, is outrageous and poisonous," and then walked off the set.
MR. BARONE: The second half of what Eleanor said was right. The first half -- the fact is, you know, was it a deep frown, was she -- (inaudible) --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: She was characterized as looking solemn.
MR. BARONE: Well, I think she was looking solemn because she was watching -- she may have seen the Quinnipiac poll --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: She was trying to understand all of what was being said.
MR. BARONE: John, she might have also seen the Quinnipiac poll, which before showed her even among Jewish voters in New York, who went three to one or more for Bill Clinton over Bob Dole in 1996.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: She's even with Jewish voters in New York? New York City.
MR. BARONE: No, New York State, 46-46, according to the Quinnipiac poll, which is a --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Can I answer that, that in upper New York state, she's 25 percent behind Giuliani.
MR. BARONE: That's right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There are only 3 to 8 percent who are undecided voters in New York.
MR. BARONE: I think she's -- she's running 15 points behind where Bill Clinton ran in 1996. But he was in New York talking to people, and they said, my gosh, what --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to -- why did she not stand up? She's running for the United States Senate from New York.
MS. CLIFT: Well, she's the first lady, too, though.
MR. PAGE: Well, you said she's not a novice; but she is a novice, and she is the first lady, as well.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, novice. Rubbish! She's co-run two presidential campaigns!
MS. PAGE: I think her problem, though, still here, even with the statement that followed the incident, was she didn't show enough passion here to impress New York voters.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The only excuse you could make for her is she's falling between two stools; namely, running for the Senate and being first lady.
MR. SAMMON: Well, it's one thing to run two presidential campaigns behind the scenes; it's another thing to be out front on camera. And she's not a very good politician. She's clumsy. She lurches into these positions. She's not quick on her feet. Everyone talks about how smart she is. Well, she is smart in a lawyerly, strategic sense, but she --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, the problem is she is not a warm person. That's the problem. We'll be right back.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Michael?
MR. BARONE: Decatur, Illinois, school officials are not going to back down to Jesse Jackson's demands anymore.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: Bradley will accept more of Gore's debate challenges.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Bill?
MR. SAMMON: Republicans in Congress who oppose the WTO-China deal will be labeled, once again, "new isolationists."
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence?
MR. PAGE: I think Mike is right, but the Decatur situation will be settled in a way that makes both sides able to claim victory.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right.
Now stay up with this. In his State of the Union address, a little over two months from now, Bill Clinton will not only present a hyped-up legacy laundry list. But he will also propose three major initiatives, the biggest surprise of which will be the long-awaited middle-class tax cut he promised in 1992, a promise he never kept. You can use that on the air or in your column, if you want.
Next week -- "A mind is a terrible thing to waste" -- should parents pull their children out of public schools and put them into private schools?
Happy Thanksgiving. Bye-bye.
®FC¯END OF REGULAR SEGMENT
PBS SEGMENT FOLLOWS
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue four: Al for Al, he hopes.
VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE: (From videotape.) I am prepared for -- to name the CEOs of software companies in any hot spots in the world. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Vice President Al Gore took another successful stab at humor this week, when a Microsoft employee asked him how he would have fared on the George W. Bush foreign-leaders quiz.
And the revamped Gore further loosened the cord binding himself to Clinton. Gore says Clinton focuses his life solely on politics, shunning substance: "Bill Clinton sees a car going down the street, and he says, 'What are the political inclinations of that car?' I see a car going down the street, and I think, 'How can we replace the internal combustion engine on that car?'" -- so says Al in the New Yorker this week.
Question: Is Gore's admission to the New Yorker magazine, that you just heard, an authentic insight into Clinton's human dynamic and Gore's human dynamic? I ask you Bill.
MR. SAMMON: I think it is fairly accurate. But the larger point is he is trying to distance himself from Clinton but only in frivolous, superficial, esoteric ways; I mean, when it comes to substance, he is joined at the hip with President Clinton on policy and on politics.
You know, for example, you showed him out at Microsoft, and a lot of people there asked about the antitrust thing. He refused to break with the White House on that thing. He is joined at the hip with Clinton. He can't get away from him. That's one of his problems.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, isn't it correct to say that Clinton looks at everything through a political lens, Michael?
MR. BARONE: Well, yes, except for his personal life -- I mean -- which we have talked about on other occasions. I mean -- you know, Bill Clinton obviously, is very much of a political calculator. And I suspect that --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And Gore --
MR. BARONE: -- (inaudible) -- Bill Clinton probably -- (end of available audio).