THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP
HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN
JOINED BY: MICHAEL BARONE, TONY BLANKLEY,
ELEANOR CLIFT, AND JAMES WARREN
TAPED: FRIDAY, APRIL 7, 2000
BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF APRIL 8-9, 2000
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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: The Banana Republic of Miami.
"Welcome to the independent Republic of Miami." That's how residents have begun to greet each other, in what the New York Times calls, quote, "a nation apart." Over 700,000 Cuban Americans, about a third of Miami-Dade County's 2.1 million population, dominates local politics. And the Cuban American city machine routinely puts its Cuban American constituents above the law.
Item: Mayors protest. In July Miami County Mayor Alex Penelas and city Mayor Joe Carollo joined with thousands of Cuban Americans protesting against the Coast Guard's arrest of six Cuban refugees. The horde of protesters blocked major roadways, shut down the city port, and left many injured. But most of the Cuban American miscreants got a pass from the Miami P.D.
Item: Carollo incites violence. In October Carollo went on Spanish talk radio and urged Cuban Americans to protest an upcoming concert by the Cuban group Los Van Van. At the concert a chanting mob became violent, causing near-riot conditions and throwing eggs, bottles, and D batteries at concertgoers. Carollo then billed the concert promoter for the police crowd control -- over $39,000. A suit has been brought against the city.
Elian Gonzalez, whose father flew to Washington, D.C., this week to claim him, is the poster boy of this virtual city state. Many observers have offered sympathy for the boy's plight, but Mayor Joe Carollo sees an opportunity in young Elian. Just last week Carollo gestured to the protesters outside Elian's house and declared with pride, "All this has united the Cuban American community in Miami in a way that nothing else has."
Question: How can the Clinton White House end this standoff bloodlessly, Michael Barone?
MR. BARONE: Well, I think one way they can end this standoff bloodlessly is allow this father to get free from the secret police goons that the Cuban government has sent to keep track of him and keep him toeing on Castro's line, and make actually a voluntary statement, with the possibility of expatriation to the United States. I mean, I think your view here of the Cuban American community in Miami is a little condescending, John. I mean, the fact is, yes, they have some of the rollicking politics and corruption that other immigrant groups have had. But they are also standing up for the idea that we should not send people to a totalitarian country. And that is not an intellectually trivial --
MR. WARREN: Michael? Michael?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on.
MR. BARONE: -- or ridiculous position.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We want to go in sequence here. I know you are anxious to get in James, but let's see if we can go to Eleanor first.
MS. CLIFT: Well, first of all, Castro let the father leave with the wife and the baby. And he went and met with Janet Reno, accompanied only by an American lawyer Greg Craig. So if he wants to speak out, he is as free as he is ever going to be to speak out.
Secondly, there is this honored tradition of civil disobedience in this country. And if the Miami Cubans want to keep protesting, fine. But the consequence of that is you get arrested, and you go to jail.
And the Clinton administration, Janet Reno, ought to keep tightening the screws, cite them for contempt of court. They have got to get that little boy into a neutral site, into a court hearing room, and get him reunited with his father, which is where he belongs.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How about $10,000 fines every day?
MS. CLIFT: That's not a bad idea. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony, what do you think?
MR. BLANKLEY: Look -- I mean, I agree with Michael that the father has no ability to speak honestly, whether he is here or in Cuba, because of the pressure that the Cuban government can place on his family and relatives.
In fact, talking about him being given back to his father is nonsensical because, in Cuba, they take away the children from the family. There was a line in the reporting, saying the father was a good parent and a good communist. You can't be both. You can be a good parent and a bad communist or a good -- a bad communist and a good parent. You can't be both because Communism opposes the family. That's the nature of the opposition between family and Communism. And that's what the Miami community is concerned about -- is protecting the boy from Communism.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think of this horror story about taking the child away from the parents and family? Do you believe that, that that goes on in Havana?
MR. WARREN: No. I totally disagree also with Michael. And I agree with your premise. So much of what's happened down there, the actions by the community; the outlandish statements by the mayors, including Alex Penelas, who is one of the rising starts in the Democratic Party in that state --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Still? Still?
MR. WARREN: Yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think he's cooked his own goose in this past couple of weeks?
MR. WARREN: No. No, I don't think necessarily.
But so much of what's played out has upheld the caricature that a lot of us outsiders have of a community that's isolated, insulated; a little bit deranged at times, making the comments that those mayors did. They are there to uphold the law.
MR. BARONE: Why is it "deranged" --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute. I am want to hear from him. Before we --
MR. BARONE: -- why is it "deranged" to decry a totalitarian society? Why is that considered --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, let's say the issue, Michael, is --
MR. BARONE: -- to be something outside? If we treated the civil disobedience of Dr. King's generation with that kind of condescension, we would be open to questioning --
MR. WARREN: Michael, it's a perfect --
MS. CLIFT: When -- when somebody --
MR. WARREN: -- this is a perfect example --
MR. BARONE: -- and rightly so.
MS. CLIFT: -- (inaudible) -- living in a totalitarian society or under a regime that you don't approve of, that doesn't mean that parental rights are severed in that society.
MR. BARONE: I think it casts real doubt --
MS. CLIFT: And if you take your argument --
MR. BARONE: -- on parental rights in Cuba.
MS. CLIFT: -- if you take your argument to logical conclusions --
MR. BARONE: The State owns the children in Cuba.
MS. CLIFT: -- if you take your argument to logical --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well wait, wait. Let Eleanor finish.
MS. CLIFT: -- if you take your argument to its logical conclusion, we should be raiding these countries and bringing out all the children. We could never send another child there.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Ah, I have a small point.
MS. CLIFT: This demonization is totally --
MR. BLANKLEY: "Demonization"? Do you think this is a false "demonization" of Fidel Castro?
MS. CLIFT: I believe that Cuban parents love their children and care for their children.
MR. BARONE: Right.
Yeah, but if you --
MS. CLIFT: (Inaudible) -- is not a loving father.
MR. BLANKLEY: -- and are capable of --
MR. BARONE: In Cuba, the State owns the children. And I'll tell you what this isn't. This isn't about anybody's sensitivity toward that kid. As Michael has just betrayed, a lot of this has to do with this whole issue being a surrogate for your views toward U.S. policy on Cuba. (Cross talk.) It has to do with bashing Castro.
MR. BARONE: I'm not --
MR. WARREN: It has to do with keeping the sanctions intact.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, let him finish.
MR. WARREN: This has nothing to do with what is right or wrong, Michael --
MR. BARONE: It does not have to do with the sanctions intact. In fact, Cuban Americans in Miami who are against the sanctions are for keeping Elian in the United States.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I would like --
MR. BARONE: The fact is, it's about totalitarian government. We should not have sent the St. Louis, with its boatload of Jews, back to Nazi Germany. We should not send Elian back to Cuba.
MS. CLIFT: Oh, it is about totalitarian government, and what the Miami Cubans are doing is perpetuating Castro's regime. If they didn't have a lock hold on American politicians, that embargo would be lifted, democracy would take hold --
MR. BLANKLEY: Oh, like in China?
MS. CLIFT: -- and then they would not be able to go back and recreate their Batista --
MR. BLANKLEY: Like -- as in China?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does anyone --
MR. BARONE: Democracy --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can I get in here? Excuse me. Excuse me. I've been very patient listening to all of you. I'd like to point out that the Cuban American community in Miami is far from monolithic. There are a lot of Cuban Americans -- while they're not saying so publicly, they're embarrassed by the actions against the rule of law and also against -- they feel strongly that the non-Cuban Americans down there are rightfully resentful.
I would also like to point out that if the situation were reversed and it was -- it were not the mother who died at sea but the father who had died at sea, and if the mother had been in Havana, you could be sure that Elian would have been on the very next plane the day after Thanksgiving to return to his mother.
MR. WARREN: But let's also --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So why is it that a 22-year-old who is a surrogate mother claims that her rights are stronger than the rights of the biological father?
MR. WARREN: Well, the right of the biological father should supersede here. But I think one should also note that some of the folks -- after I've, you know, derided Michael -- some of the folks who want that kid back are also seeing this as simply a surrogate for their views on U.S. sanctions.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit --
MR. WARREN: They want to provide a victory for Castro. (Cross talk.) And they want to stick it to the Cuban American community.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit: On a violence probability scale of zero to 10, zero meaning peaceful ending, 10 meaning send in the Terminator, what is the likelihood that Janet Reno will have to use force to extract Elian from his Miami relatives, Michael Barone?
MR. BARONE: Well, I think, you know, "use of force" can mean a lot of different things. Maybe about three. But it's going to be a bad end for Elian if he goes back to Cuba.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: Point-five, and frankly, to be a poor child in Cuba may, in many instances, be better than being a poor child in Miami.
MR. BARONE: Oh, Eleanor, for God's sake!
MS. CLIFT: And I'm not going to condemn their lifestyle so gratuitously.
MR. BLANKLEY: Now you're showing -- (inaudible) --
MR. BARONE: Please.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me hear from you, Tony.
MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, I think that Janet "Waco" Reno will probably be pretty careful about using violence this time around. So my guess is, it's about a one.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: About a one?
MR. WARREN: I would say about a two. But there's going to come a point, after an appeals court hearing, after the Miami relatives lose, after they get hit with fines, after they get threatened with jail, that you're going to have to send somebody in there, and there's probably going to be a little problem, probably at the airport, but they'll get him out and back to Havana in a few months.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think the likelihood of violence occurring is a .5. I think Marisleysis, the surrogate 22-year-old mother, who has already felt the stress of this and indicated it, when she contemplates what the FBI can do with helicopters and SWAT teams, and the dangers involved, she will say the son will go back to his father.
Okay, last week on mclaughlin.com we asked, "Which of the following scenarios is the most credible?" A, George Bush as the education candidate -- 72 percent. B, Al Gore as the campaign finance reform candidate -- 4, percent. (Laughter.) C, neither is very credible -- 24 percent.
On another note, we'd like to thank President Clinton for saluting the McLaughlin Group this week in a moving testimonial.
PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: (From videotape of the Radio and Television Correspondents' annual dinner.) Of course, in America, each of us has the constitutional right to silly or dumb speech. I have certainly asserted my right here tonight. (Laughter.) But I think we should take another moment to honor that essential freedom, to recognize that vital principle, by asking the members of the McLaughlin Group to stand. (Laughter, groans, applause.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Since we were not all present on Thursday night, we will now rise at the command of the commander in chief. (Entire McLaughlin Group rises to its feet.) We salute you, Mr. President, for leading us by your example.
MR. WARREN: (Shaking his finger.) And we never have had sex with that woman, Monica Lewinsky! (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: When we come back, is the U.S. Census getting too nosy?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two: Stand and Be Counted.
SEN. CHUCK HAGEL (R-NE): (From videotape.) If you feel that these questions are intrusive and violate your privacy, and you're concerned about the government having a dossier on you, then don't fill them out.
KENNETH PREWITT (director, U.S. Census Bureau): (From videotape.) But the census is really there as a service to the American people, not just to the federal government. The census is what brings schools and veterans' programs and bridges and clinics back to your community.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Nobody ever said doing a head count of 275 million people would be easy, and it's not. The really hard part for the U.S. Census Bureau is persuading people to share some of their personal information with the federal government.
At issue: It's not the short form of the census sent to five in six households, but the long form sent to one in six -- 53 questions in that long form that range from education and income level to whether respondents are employed or not, and whether they have plumbing or not.
One question asks this: "Because of a physical, mental, or emotional condition lasting six months or more, does the person have any difficulty in doing the following activities? Learning, remembering, concentrating, dressing, bathing, getting around, going outside, working at a job or a business."
Census Bureau Director Kenneth Prewitt insists all census information is kept strictly confidential.
MR. PREWITT: (From videotape.) Have you ever read a story about Elvis Presley's census answers or John Kennedy's or President Bush's? You've never read that story because no one can write that story. No individual census record has ever been shared.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Still, some public figures see a privacy issue, including the 2000 Republican presidential nominee.
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (GOP presidential nominee): (From videotape) I can understand why people don't want to give all that information to the government, and if I have the long form, I'm not so sure I want to either.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: What mischief -- this is cuing off the governor -- what mischief can the Census Bureau do with the information in the 53-question long form? Realistically.
I ask you, Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: The Census Bureau is not the mischief makers. The mischief makers are Republicans, like George W. Bush, Trent Lott and others who are egging on people to disobey the law. And it seems to me that they are in the same company with those Miami mayors.
The questions on this census were written by the Congress because they need certain information to allocate funding for programs around the country. The questions, I believe, are the same as they were in the 1990 census under President Bush.
MR. WARREN: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: These questions are politically loaded. You take the question that was used in the brilliant setup here. "If you've been incapacitated for six months for emotional disorders or psychological disorders." Okay? There's no self-verification. A person doing the census form says, "yes" and there is the data for Gore, if he were president of the United States, to advance his universal health care for people who are emotionally or psychologically distressed. Do you see the damage that can wreak?
MR. WARREN: No. The premise here is so absolutely erroneous. Among other things, these same questions were asked 10 years ago. There are five fewer questions than 10 years ago. The one added question is there because one person wanted -- on inter-generational care -- Senate majority leader then, Bob Dole.
But, for instance, when it comes to the questions about the disabled, that has everything to do with the distribution of federal and local funding for programs for the handicapped. When it comes to toilets -- everybody's upset about toilets -- that has everything to do with identifying areas of ground water contamination and water-borne diseases.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What a primitive level of reflection there is there. You fail to see what's behind a lot of these questions.
And by the way, do you remember the "dead-beat dad" question that was on an earlier census?
MR. BLANKLEY: No.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Where the females who were divorced from their husband were asked whether or not their husbands were dead-beat dads, and how that created a stereotype, which has since been blasted away by government workers who did research on it?
MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.)
MR. BLANKLEY: Look, I want to make a point. I think this is the silliest fear I've seen in politics in awhile. Now, whether the government ought to rely on all the lousy answers they're going to get from the public is another matter. But the Census Bureau owns no black helicopters. This is totally paranoid --
MS. CLIFT: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well look, let's think in terms of human rights. What does the Constitution require of the citizens?
MR. BLANKLEY: A counting of them.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A counting. You have to just tell them whether you're in the country or not. That's all. You don't have to tell --
MR. BARONE: John?
MR. BLANKLEY: No. That's what the --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- them anything else, according to the Constitution.
MR. BLANKLEY: -- that's what the Constitution requires.
MR. WARREN (?): Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, you have got statutes that support it.
MR. BLANKLEY: Yes. That's what the Constitution requires. The statutes are allowed to enhance the --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So the statutes are trying to improve on the Constitution? What kind of baloney is that?
MR. BLANKLEY: (Inaudible.)
MR. : No, no, no.
MR. BARONE: The statutes -- there is legitimate cause under the commerce clause -- (laughter) -- to ask these questions and to require people to answer them. And they probably are useful. And they can be used just as much, as Stephan and Abigail Thernstrom point out, to say, "We don't need a lot of government programs," as well to say, "We do need a lot of government programs." They are providing basic information.
I got a long form. I filled it out. I urged others to do so.
The Clinton administration, the Clinton-Gore administration, has politicized the census in the sense that they have tried to use this sampling procedure, which will allow them to jimmy the numbers to help themselves --
MR. WARREN (?): That's another matter.
MR. BARONE: -- on legislative districting.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How come you got a long form?
MR. BARONE: But the Republicans --
MR. BLANKLEY: Because you're on "The McLaughlin Group." (Laughter.)
MR. BARONE: -- it's one out of six. (Laughter.) One out of six --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How come you got it?
MR. BARONE: I don't know. I assume it's random.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hey, congratulations. You know what percentage of people --
MS. CLIFT: He has got a lot of toilets. (Laughs.)
MR. BARONE: -- you know what percentage of people have returned their long form? Thirty-eight percent.
MR. BARONE: Well, I was one of the 38 percent. But, John, the fact is --
MR. WARREN: Michael?
MR. BARONE: -- the Democrats have acted wrongly and partisanly on the --
MS. CLIFT: (Inaudible) --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question. We've got to get out.
MR. BARONE: -- but the Republicans are being foolish.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The head of the Census is a political appointee. Is the 2000 Census a Democratic -- big "D" -- census, meaning a "formula for acquiring statistics -- Eleanor, take note -- to justify an expansionist government agenda, Michael?
MR. BARONE: No. They may be trying to jimmy legislative redistricting, but it's not that kind of a thing.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: Yeah. The Census Bureau is one of the purest agencies you have got.
MR. BARONE (?): Oh!
MS. CLIFT: It doesn't worry about political -- and they are a bunch of statisticians, John.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.
MR. WARREN: The answer is no.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, they haven't been fed the questions to ask.
MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, look, Congress feeds them then questions.
I am as suspicious as the next libertarian, but this is one that's okay, as far as I am concerned.
MR. WARREN: The answer is no, and Tony's right. There won't be black helicopters swooping over your house to invade your privacy with little men from the Census Bureau. (Laughter.)
MR. BARONE: Well, it takes about 10 minutes to get over the house. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think -- as much as I hate to say it -- that you are all --
MS. CLIFT: -- right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- pretty correct. (Laughter.)
Issue three --
MS. CLIFT: Exactly.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- Beantown's Big Dig. Or is it Big Pig?
PETER SEPP (National Taxpayers Union): (From videotape.) Federal road-building projects are notorious for cost overruns. But this one has to top it all.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the most profligate highway project in U.S. history? Get this; the Big Dig in Boston, Massachusetts. To Bostonians, it's not the Big Dig; it's the Big Pig and to others the Big Pain. To federal taxpayers, it's the Big Drain.
The original price tag was $2.6 billion. That was, back in the '80s, in the planning stage. Today, it's already at $12 billion-plus. Seventy-five percent of the funding comes from the federal government; i.e., your wallet. That's $9 billion, federal taxpayer dollars, to date; all that money to put seven and a half miles of elevated highway of downtown Boston -- get this -- underground.
The bloating price tag prompted an audit by a federal task force under the auspices of the Department of Transportation, the DOT. But this week, top Transportation officials stopped the task force dead in its track. The Big Dig audit was too scathing in its condemnation. So the DOT has suppressed it and called for a tone-down. "DOT Secretary Rodney Slater said we have to make this work and hold people accountable, but not give Congress a chance to scream. It would have a very negative impact on the future of the project," unquote. So says a Boston Globe source.
But Congress is already screaming. "I don't think the federal taxpayer around the country ought to be paying for the incompetence of the Federal Highway Administration and also of some people in the state of Massachusetts," says the chairman of the House highway funding panel.
But Massachusetts Governor Paul "Mary Poppins" Cellucci is all happy talk.
GOV. PAUL CELLUCCI (R-MA): (From videotape.) This is an engineering marvel. We're two-thirds of the way through. We need to get it done.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If you use Cellucci's arithmetic, that means we have to pump another 3 billion federal dollars into the Beantown sinkhole, for an obscene total of 12 billion federal dollars -- the biggest pork project on human record.
Question: Highway trust funds are used to pay for this project. Those funds come from the federal tax on gasoline. Is it fair today to ask motorists to keep this federal tax untouched when OPEC is driving up the price of gas, only so that the gas tax can be fed to the big pig? I ask you, Tony.
MR. BLANKLEY: Look, I think there are two separate issues here. I'd like --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the answer to my question?
MR. BLANKLEY: I'd like to see a rollback of the gas tax, to reduce the cost, but --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you can't, because, you know, the Massachusetts legislators, led by the senior Senate Democratic senator, Senator Kennedy, wants all that big pig money.
MR. BLANKLEY: Yes, I understand, but as a general proposition, we need to improve our roads in this country. There's a lot of waste and corruption in the building of them, but I'm glad to see a big road project moving along to completion.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?
MR. BLANKLEY: Yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony, one --
MR. BLANKLEY: I drive cars. I love to drive on good roads. (Cross talk.)
MS. CLIFT: Well, first of all --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Have you seen any good roads around the United States of late? The big pig is sucking in all of our funds.
MS. CLIFT: First of all, the federal contribution on this has been capped. There's going to be no more federal money going into it. And second of all, this is likely to end Republican rule in Massachusetts, because Governor Cellucci was hoping to have a tax cut, and he's got to end up paying for the rest of this. (Chuckles.)
MR. WARREN: So I gather your thoughtful answer is what? To bomb Saudi Arabia and some other OPEC countries, and this antique, congested, dilapidated highway that runs through Boston won't be repaired as it should?
MR. BARONE: John --
MS. CLIFT: (Chuckles.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I cannot believe this.
MR. WARREN: You won't have the construction of lots of new development and some decent park land, which you should have?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Urban beautification is the reason why this is being done. They could have moderated their traffic patterns to accommodate the traffic congestion.
Furthermore, there are 10 disease control centers in the United States. The $12 billion that we're sinking into that rat hole, that huge rat hole, could pay for those 10 disease centers for four years.
MS. CLIFT: Well, look, they could -- (laughs) --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now if you want Ebola, or you prefer the big pig to Ebola, it's all yours.
MR. BARONE: John --
MR. WARREN: That's as logical as saying Bill Gates lost 11.5 billion (dollars) last Monday, so let's take some of that money and improve the highways.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you going to defend the big pig?
MR. BARONE: No. The fact -- but your question is as knotty as the interchange of I-93 and the Sumner-Callahan Tunnel where you get out and north you go this way and south you -- I mean, I've done this, John. This --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You favor the big pig? You favor $12 billion of federal taxpayers' money into one state?
MR. BARONE: What's done is done, John. As Eleanor points out, the money is capped.
MS. CLIFT: Right.
MR. BARONE: And Congressman Joe Moakley, the senior Democrat from South Boston, has said that they're not going to get another dime. They shouldn't get it. Let them spend it on themselves.
MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.) Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hey, good for Joe.
We'll be right back with predictions.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No time.
Will Microsoft be dismembered? Forced prediction.
MR. BARONE: No.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: Yes.
MR. BLANKLEY: No.
MR. WARREN: No.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Answer: No.
Next week: The status of political talk shows in America today.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue four: Gore's "lib" critics. Gore's flip-flop on the Elian Gonzalez case has evoked a chorus of criticism, not from Governor Bush, his GOP presidential rival, but from many, many liberal politicians and newsies.
Here's liberal Massachusetts Congressman Joe Moakley. Quote: "I was very surprised and very disappointed with Gore. Gore is wrong, dead wrong." Unquote. Also, Charles Rangel of New York, Marty Meehan of Massachusetts, and Maxine Waters of California agree -- among other liberal politicians.
Gore's friends in the media -- some say sycophants -- were likewise disgusted with Gore. ""Do you know what that is? Pure political disgraceful pandering. Shame on Al Gore," says Bill Press of "Crossfire." Plus, Mark Shields, E.J. Dionne, our own Eleanor Clift, and the insightful Garry Wills, quote, "What Gore did should make everyone reconsider." Unquote.
Question: Is Wills correct, Eleanor Clift? Are you reconsidering?
MS. CLIFT: I think what Gore did looks very opportunistic. But if you go back and look at his record, he's been an ant-Communist in the same league as Michael Barone, in terms of his rhetoric. And lastly, if he wins Florida in November, all is forgiven. (Laughs.)
MR. BARON: John, the fact is, I think your setup really here is wrong, to characterize Al Gore's stand as a flip-flop, despite Eleanor's praise -- damning by praise of me. The fact is that Al Gore was talking about this issue in January. He was saying that it should not -- the INS should not automatically assume that Elian Gonzalez's father speaks for him because he was in a Communist, totalitarian country. I think Gore's point was correct then, and his position now is a logical extension of that.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But I want the point that goes to the essence of what -- the proposition of this setup. I want to know whether this left criticism is hurting Gore or is it really helping Gore. Do you follow me?
MS. CLIFT: Oh!
MR. WARREN: Yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you with me?
MR. WARREN: As a proud, card-carrying --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's now shown to be a moderate, is he not?
MR. WARREN: As a proud, card-carrying "newsy" -- as you would put it --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Laughs.)
MR. WARREN: I might say that -- where are the Maxine Waters of the world going to go this fall? There's nowhere else. Plus, why should one necessarily be surprised? This is somebody who, as a congressmen, was one of the founders of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right. And now that he's moved more center, away from the left, because he's through the primaries, these lefties, like Eleanor, think less of him.
MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.)
MR. BARONE: Well, one of the things that's astounding here is to watch these Democratic left people sort of squeal with glee at the thought of sending a 6-year-old boy back to live in a totalitarian country. That is really kind of disgusting.
MS. CLIFT: Oh --
MR. BARONE: I can see arguing that family considerations --
MS. CLIFT: Michael, you have never heard me --
MR. BARONE: -- totalitarianism sort of thing, you are not --
MS. CLIFT: Michael, you have never heard me "squeal with glee" --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Laughs.)
MR. BARONE: I'm not referring to you.
MS. CLIFT: And I don't believe --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why not her? Why not her? Why is she an exception?
MR. BLANKLEY: She's screechy, but she doesn't squeal.
MR. BARONE: I'm talking about members of Congress there that are doing --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Members of Congress. You're exempting the newsies.