THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP
HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN
JOINED BY: MICHAEL BARONE, TONY BLANKLEY,
ELEANOR CLIFT, AND CLARENCE PAGE
TAPED: FRIDAY, JUNE 9, 2000
BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF JUNE 10-11, 2000
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THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.
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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: Rebut or reboot?
(Music: Neil Sedaka's "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do.")
U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL JANET RENO: (From videotape.) I'm pleased that the court has ordered a strong, effective remedy to address the serious antitrust violations that Microsoft has committed.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's the government's chief technology wizard, Janet Reno.
On Wednesday U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson ordered that Microsoft be broken up, thus siding with the Clinton Justice Department. Calling the company "untrustworthy," Jackson ordered that the company be split in two -- one company to control Microsoft's dominant operating system, Windows; the second company to control Microsoft's software division.
Bill Gates, Microsoft's chairman, if defiant.
BILL GATES (chairman, Microsoft): From videotape.) Well, today's ruling really represents an unwarranted and unjustified intrusion into the software marketplace, a marketplace that has been an engine of economic growth for America.
We will be exercising our right to appeal this decision, and we're confident the judicial system will overturn today's ruling.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: White Microsoft faces obvious legal uncertainty from the breakup ruling, the Clinton administration may face unexpected political uncertainty from it.
Item: The public likes Gates -- 69 percent favorable rating to Gates, higher than Al Gore or George W. Bush or Bill Clinton. Only 34 percent support the breakup. A consensus does not.
Item: Microsoft's stock down. In the last six months, Microsoft's share price has gone from nearly 120 to 70; almost $250 billion evaporated, about half of it due to the government's suit. That loss hit Americans hard. Microsoft stock is one of the most widely held by individuals, mutual funds, and pension funds.
MICHAEL MURPHY (editor, "Technology Investing"): (From videotape.) There's a big joke around, of course, that "thank you, Janet Reno, for saving me $20 on my Microsoft Windows. How about the $20,000 I lost in my 401(k)?"
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Item: Other Internet companies scared. The technology industry is generous to both Republicans and Democrats, but they're nervous about government. As much as any given sector of the industry may dislike Microsoft, it dislikes government interference more. If Microsoft were to be broken up because it controls 71 percent of the operating system market, others could be next. Oracle, controlling 80 percent of the database market; Cisco, controlling 80 percent of the network router market; Intel, controlling 85 percent of the global computer chip market -- should they all now run for cover?
Question: What is the political upshot, if any, of the Microsoft breakup ruling, Michael Barone?
MR. BARONE: Well, I think that in the short term, John, it's probably mild. Those facts that you put up on the air are true. The public is not really favorable to this case that the Clinton administration Justice Department has brought. It may be a voting issue in the state of Washington, with 11 electoral votes, and that would work against Al Gore.
The ultimate reason -- the ultimate thing, though, it's going to depend on the economic effect, which nobody is really sure about. I mean, there are pretty good arguments that this is going to raise prices to consumers, that it's going to stifle innovation. We don't know for sure. But if it does things like that, it also raises the general question, does the government know how to grow an economy the way the private sector does? And in light of today's opinion, the answer is no, it doesn't.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And that propels itself as an issue, perhaps, into the presidential election in November?
MR. BARONE: In some vague sort of way. And, obviously, George W. Bush is less favorable to this case than Al Gore, on the basis of their comments.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So he gets a little gain if that happens.
But what do you think, Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: Well, first of all, there are also compelling reasons that if you split this company in two, you could have two powerhouses. And the fact is that Microsoft has gotten too big and bureaucratic, and this is an industry that does tend to spawn new creation everywhere.
But the political impact is that the lobbying presence of the high-tech industry, which has already quadrupled in Washington, is going to grow even more. Hungry politicians are going to court that industry. And the notion that Bill Gates has, that government has no role in this, government is going to set the rules on privacy, on taxing, and lots of areas, and that industry better get used to it. They can't just fly free.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is the Court of Appeals going to slow this rush to judgment?
MR. BLANKLEY: Well --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I mean by that, how long will the stay be?
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, I don't know. I mean, they're talking about a relatively quick appeal, but it will still be months.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, but there's already been a rush to judgment -- 78 days, as opposed to 13 years for IBM.
MR. BLANKLEY: No. Look. Look, I think there's an important political point that's been made in this, and that is that the rule of law has been enforced. There's no question it's a violation. Now, there may be some adverse economic consequences. But Henry Hyde, who may be "Mr. Conservative," laid out an argument why if you believe in free markets, you need to have antitrust, because if you don't have antitrust, you're going to have more regulation. Those are the alternatives. This is actually -- they're having the political consequences of assuring less regulation of the technology by having improper monopolies enforced.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm amazed that Hyde slipped into that hysteria. (Laughter.)
What do you think?
MR. PAGE: No, the other action is hysterical, John. We're not talking about Microsoft being taken over by the government, nor are we talking about Microsoft being penalized because they're a monopoly -- that's not illegal. What is illegal is to be predatory with your monopoly, to actually constrain competition, and that is what Microsoft has been found guilty of.
This trial at this point, if he continues to fight -- and Judge Jackson would love to see them settle this out of court, but it's Bill Gates who's being defiant, it is he who thinks he is too good to be governed by the government, if you will -- then it will probably be 2003 before you get a decision.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to hear from Michael. The point I want to put to Michael is: Do you think that the technology industry knows where the political realities are and whose side who is on?
MR. BARONE: Well, the fact is, Washington has staked out a claim to a lot of campaign dollars and other forms of support through entering into regulation of this stuff.
The weird thing here, John, is that the law, even under Judge Jackson's accelerated schedule, which I think is probably a good idea as compared to IBM --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Ninety days he wants.
MR. BARONE: -- a lot better than the IBM case that went on for 13 years till it was dropped. The law has trouble staying up with technology. The "browser wars," on which Judge Jackson found that -- adopted the Justice Department's findings that IBM behaved -- or that Microsoft behaved --
MS. CLIFT: Well, but this is --
MR. BARONE: Wait! The browser wars are over. The government can't keep up with this stuff.
MR. PAGE: Mike, that's not an excuse to enforce the law, because the law moves slowly. The fact is the law is speeding up --
MR. BARONE: Yeah, but the law --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, we've got to move.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, I want to hear from you. You wanted to say something a moment ago?
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, I just wanted to say that it's not a question of the technology, it's a question of a clear violation by Microsoft. They went and they basically blackmailed competitors saying, "You do something, we're going to cut you off."
MS. CLIFT: Right. I just want to say --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want -- I want to point something out, just one quick thing. And that is in an ad that was run in many newspapers in the United States, a full-page ad, on Friday, Gates says this: "The court rejected our request for even a single day of testimony regarding the likely consequences of the government's unprecedented breakup and regulation injunction."
On the basis of that, he's sure to get a stay, and I think it's quite possible that stay could last for two years.
MS. CLIFT: I disagree. I disagree that they're likely to get a stay.
And I think Tony's --
MR. BARONE: Oh, no, of course there will be a stay. That's ridiculous.
MR. BLANKLEY (?): There will be a stay, I think.
MS. CLIFT: I think -- well, I think the Justice Department is going to try to go straight to the Supreme Court, and there is legislation that they can do that.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In the light of what he says here, there's no chance of that.
MS. CLIFT: But I want to make a political point.
MR. BARONE: But there will be a stay. Always in antitrust cases, you have a stay --
MS. CLIFT: This is tricky terrain for both political candidates. And George Bush has been signalling that if he's president, he'll call the dogs off. But I don't think he wants to be seen as meddling in something that could end up in the Supreme Court.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I'll tell you where the edge may be, and that's, in the debates, to Gore when he starts talking about the beauties of antitrust protection for Americans. Right?
MR. PAGE: For consumers, John. Consumers. That's why you have antitrust laws, John.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. He will gussy that up the way you're trying to gussy it up.
MR. PAGE: John, it's you and me as consumers who want to buy consumer programs who are going to benefit from this breakup.
MR. BARONE: Well, the problem --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.
MR. BARONE: The problem here is that you don't exert antitrust remedies on people because they've been untrustworthy; you do so in order to improve the lot of consumers.
MR. PAGE: No, because they're constrained competition.
MR. BARONE: Nobody is certain, and the intellectually honest economists will tell you this, that the remedy is going to produce economic worth to consumers.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, exit.
MR. PAGE: Well, so far it has. So far it has. AT&T, the railroads, et cetera, the track record is very good for this type of this action.
MR. BARONE: Not in this industry under these circumstances. We have no assurance it's going to good for consumers.
MR. PAGE: These are new circumstance, Michael, but --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit. Do you think it was a solid case?
MR. BARONE: I think there's an intellectually serious argument for the government's position. I'm not sure I agree with it, but --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that your position?
MR. BARONE: I'm not taking a position on this, John.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What, are you practicing diplomacy on this program?
Exit. Assume the worst case for Bill Gates. The breakup occurs and stays in place for 10 years. Is that the end of the Gates empire, or will Microsoft rise again?
MR. BARONE: I think Gates will keep most of his net worth. The stock may go down somewhat; it may go up. No one knows. But Gates, with $64 billion, is still in the game.
MS. CLIFT: The only thing that's damaged is Gates' ego. He's going to do well financially. Those companies are going to thrive.
MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah. Look. Rockefeller did better after he was broken up than before. Gates is going to be the richest man in the world for a long time.
MS. CLIFT: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Like, the first trillionaire?
MR. BLANKLEY: I wouldn't go that far.
MR. PAGE: Under this opinion, John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's young enough to achieve that.
MR. BLANKLEY: Trillions, it won't be -- (inaudible).
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Don't forget "the miracle of compound interest." (Laughter.)
MR. PAGE: John, under this opinion, Gates can keep one company or the other; and whichever one he keeps is going to do well. They're both going to do well in the long run.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will it be the end of the empires, though?
MR. PAGE: No. It's a reconfiguration of the empire. It's going --
MR. BARONE: For Gates to divest his stock is going to be a tricky operation.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There will be management chaos; there will be the inability to control and retain computer geniuses; and C, investors will bolt.
Okay, McLaughlin.com. Last week we asked which presidential candidate's plan can best improve the performance of American schools. George Bush's plan -- get this -- 47 percent; Al Gore's plan, 31 percent; neither, 22 percent.
When we come back, sunny Al's summer of love. Can you stand it?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two: Al Gore, makeover number six.
VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE (Democrat presidential candidate): (From videotape.) For me, there has been no greater gift in my life than being a father and grandfather. I mean, a presidential campaign is really nothing compared to a 4 a.m. feeding. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's warm. He's fuzzy. He's all heart. He's the new Al. The Gore campaign trumpeted to the press, Al Gore has a new makeover, "Mr. Sunshine." No more of the negative. No more spewing venom at George Bush. In fact, "sunny Al" doesn't even mention Bush. Sunny Al talks family.
VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE (Democrat presidential candidate): (From videotape.) You can just imagine how proud I am of Tipper and the leadership that she's been providing. She's educated me about this whole issue.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Governor Bush has taken note of the latest Gore makeover. This is number six for Gore, says Bush. The fifth version, "negative Al," always on the attack. Four, "crusading reformer" a la John McCain. Three, "alpha male," a Naomi Wolf production, earth tones and work boots. Two, "underdog Al," in the trenches with Bill Bradley. Then, makeover one, "average Joe on the farm, home from 'Nam."
Just because sunny Al no longer attacks Bush doesn't mean no one attacks Bush. Sunny Al has plenty of surrogates to downpour on the governor.
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA): (From videotape.) George Bush is coming to this race with as bad a record on the environment, on children's health. And frankly, most of the things in education, where he claims his greatest expertise, were put into place before he became governor.
JOE LOCKHART: (From videotape.) He makes very broad statements. And then when you ask him a detailed question, he says he doesn't know the answer.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Gore's makeover No. 5 negative attacks worked wonders. If you doubt that, ask Bill Bradley. So will makeover No. 6 work for Gore, I ask you, Eleanor Clift?
MS. CLIFT: Oh, John, by July 4th, the press will be writing about yet another Gore comeback.
Look, this is the Hartford phase of the campaign. They have got their road show. They are not opening on Broadway yet. And if something doesn't work, you try something else. Gore has been losing a lot of ground in recent weeks to Bush, who has been appropriating that grand compassionate center. The attacks weren't accomplishing anything, so now he is trying to advance a more optimistic, positive agenda.
This is going to see-saw a lot. There's going to be lots of time for attack. And don't pretend that George W. Bush doesn't know how to attack either. Remember the primaries? (Laughs.)
MR. BLANKLEY: Gore is making a real mistake because he is establishing an image of inconstancy. And -- he is not looking at what public is judging him; they are finding him to lack conviction, lack leadership ability because he keeps shifting around.
Ed Rollins, one of the great political players in this business, said he should just pick one style and stick with it. And it may almost be too late now, as far as creating the image because now the image is set of a man who keeps changing to try to appeal.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that also demonstrated in his position on the $25 million in ads that he is now employing -- meaning that he said he was -- did he not say he was not going to do that?
MR. PAGE: Right --
MR. BARONE: He pledged to not use them unless or until the Republicans did it. The Republicans didn't do it, and he did it anyway.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He did it anyway?
MS. CLIFT: (Inaudible.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So he is inconstant there?
MR. BARONE: Unless or until.
MS. CLIFT: Well, wait a second.
MR. BARONE: Yeah. Well, he has got learn about -- (cross talk) -- (inaudible) -- country.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, let me -- do you want to make a -- (prediction ?) -- point?
MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah. He also made a very cynical political calculation -- which the ads will run in places where people aren't following what he said on the news cycle.
MR. PAGE: Well, they're only inconstant if you believe the Republican interpretation of it.
MS. CLIFT: Right. (Laughs.)
MR. PAGE: But the fact is that Gore believes that the Republicans violated the --
MR. BLANKLEY: No, that's technically not true, because Mr. Gore --
MR. PAGE: -- you know, this is all "Inside Baseball," Tony--
MR. BLANKLEY: -- no, no -- wait a minute -- no, no -- wait a minute --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let him -- (cross talk) --
MS. CLIFT: Let Clarence --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- let Clarence finish.
MS. CLIFT: Right.
MR. PAGE: Let's go to the main point though, Tony. Your conjecture that it may be too late already is good for those of us who pay attention to this sort of thing. Most of the public in their wisdom is not paying attention, that close attention and won't be until after the convention.
MS. CLIFT: You know, Al Gore --
MR. BLANKLEY: No, no. Wait a minute --
MS. CLIFT: -- Al Gore --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?
MR. PAGE: Let me finish real quick -- until after the convention and after Labor Day.
MR. BARONE: John?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: Yeah --
MR. PAGE: And then you're going to see the consistency you are so longing to see.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah. Tony Blankley may feel like he knows Al Gore real well. But the rest of the country doesn't, and they are open to these biographical ads. And as far as this soft money being spent for biographical ads, the Republicans have unleased various independent --
MR. BARONE: No, they --
MS. CLIFT: They have run ads --
MR. BLANKLEY: They haven't. The Republicans --
MR. BARONE: There is no evidence at all the Republican Party did that.
MR. BLANKLEY: The Republican Party has not spent a dime --
MR. BARONE: There's no evidence at all.
MR. BLANKLEY: The Republican Party has not spent a dime.
MR. BARONE: There's no evidence.
MS. CLIFT: Well, I don't think there is much difference between the Republican Party and groups aligned with the Republican Party. (Laughs.)
MR. BARONE: There is no evidence --
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, but I want to -- but I want to talk -- I want to correct --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's move on. Let's move on. We've just discussed -- put away the machete and take out the crocheting needles. (Laughter.)
Okay. Makeover No. 7, Slumlord Al.
TRACY MAYBERRY (tenant in home owned by Al Gore): (From videotape.) This is the same problem; that right there does not go down. And the water is foul. It's got a real nasty odor to it. It smells like soured eggs. You know, rotten eggs? All -- it will you sick when it's really hot outside.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That is the stinking Nashville property rented out by Slumlord Al Gore, as described by his unhappy tenant Tracy Mayberry. When Mayberry complained about the condition, Gore's people told Mayberry's family of seven -- mother, father and five children -- to vacate the premises, "Get out." Then Mayberry went to the press, and suddenly -- Al found himself in the act, sending a plumber and repairman to the premises immediately.
Question: Does the Mayberry episode show Gore lacks compassion, I ask you?
MR. PAGE: No, it shows he lacks attention to his property management. And this is odd for a man who personally designed his own campaign logo and is known for micromanaging. But it's a sort of event that shows anybody can let the various investments in their life --
MR. BARONE: Well --
MR. PAGE: -- fall through the cracks.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, wait, wait, wait, wait. I want to hear from Tony.
MR. BLANKLEY: This is property that has been in view of his own family home.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.
MR. BLANKLEY: And it's probably not the only piece of rental property he has. It would be more damaging though, if the networks had covered it. But enough of the evening news covered the story, yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think he's a cheapskate?
MR. BARONE: Well, John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about his charity and those records, remember that?
MR. BLANKLEY: I think there's a certain hypocrisy, yeah. He is very low in giving money to charity, until the presidential election starts, and then he started giving more.
MR. BARONE: Well, in 1997, he gave $353 to charity. Yeah.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, do you think he's -- is he a man of compassion?
MR. BARONE: Well, John, this does -- I mean, I don't know all the facts about this. The networks, which are 90 percent run by Democrats, don't want to run this stuff. But the fact is that, you know, his $353 to charity in '97 raises the possibility that he's one of those liberals -- not all liberals -- who loves humanity but hates human beings. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think he's a liberal --
(Cross talk, laughter.)
MR. PAGE: (Inaudible) -- Michael's conspiracy --
MS. CLIFT: Now, you guys are so good -- you guys are so good at playing the victims -- the poor victims of the big bad liberal media. Look, this incident is pretty tacky, but when Al Gore learned about it, he responded in the correct way --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.
MS. CLIFT: -- and he did relocate the family. He's now going to fix it. Do I believe that Al Gore deliberately didn't pay attention so he could escape a $200 repair? No. Clearly, he didn't know what was going on.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. It shows that he's a typical limousine liberal. It means that he is compassionate when it comes to spending taxpayers' money, but when it comes to taking a repair bill out of his own wallet, forget it.
MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah. Eleanor said he didn't really -- (Laughter.)
MR. BARONE (?): Surely you don't believe --
MR. BLANKLEY: Eleanor said he did the right thing when he was caught, but the test of character is what you do when no one's watching.
MS. CLIFT: When he was told. Not caught, told.
MR. PAGE: He just wasn't paying attention.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Will women buy Gore's makeover number six -- Sunny Al? Michael Barone?
MR. BARONE: I think in the long run it's not going to sell very much, because it doesn't reflect the real him. He is a very partisan guy who likes negative campaigning. There's nothing necessarily wrong with that, but it's not what voters want this year.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: He's on the right side of most issues that women care about, so yes, they're going to buy it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?
MR. BLANKLEY: You know, I don't know what women want -- (laughter). I wouldn't --
MR. BARONE: We'll ask your wife about that, Tony.
MR. BLANKLEY: But I think Gore's problems, as I said, are inconstancy. That's something that, whether you're a man or a women, should be a negative for him.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?
MR. PAGE: Well, I think that he --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly!
MR. PAGE: Okay. People aren't paying close attention right now. He still has an image of being more compassionate than Bush. That's why Bush keeps saying compassion, compassion all the time. (Laughter.)
MS. CLIFT: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think it might work. After all, some of this other makeovers work.
Issue three: Corzine's dough beats Florio. (Music from "Cabaret.") That's $35 million worth of Jon Corzine's money. In the Democratic senatorial primary, Corzine's opponent, former New Jersey Governor Jim Florio, accused Corzine of buying his victory.
JIM FLORIO (Former governor, New Jersey): (From videotape.) Money is becoming a disproportionate part of the process. As a matter of fact, if we allow it, it becomes the process.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Corzine is the former Goldman Sachs co-chairman who spent 9 percent of his estimated $400 million fortune to win Tuesday's contest, an all-time Senate primary campaign record. Corzine is unapologetic.
JON CORZINE (Winner of New Jersey Democratic senate primary): (From videotape.) I have not been in politics and spent $30 million-plus over 30 years building name recognition and establishing the perspectives that people might have. I needed to communicate.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Does the fact that 58 percent of new Jersey Democrats voted for Corzine -- I'm correcting that (read ?) -- tell you that campaign finance reform is a non-issue? Tony Blankley.
MR. BLANKLEY: No, the lesson I learn from this is that 59 or 58 percent of New Jerseyites remember that Florio raised taxes and broke his word on raising taxes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So it was an anti-Florio vote?
MR. BLANKLEY: This was an anti-Florio vote and it was an anti-tax increase vote. I don't think the public really cares about campaign finance reform and the man is entitled to spend his own money on his own campaign.
MS. CLIFT: Well, I think the public does care about campaign finance reform, if they think you're captive of special interests. If you spend your own money, the public generally says, "Go right ahead." That way you're not bought by anybody. So I think it's a non-issue for him.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that Corsine's ads demonstrated his financial independence, which is an asset, because it defines him as a candidate who cannot be bought by special interest money -- so it's McCain with cash?
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, people already knew that.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think of that?
MR. BARONE: I mean, Jay Rockefeller made that argument in West Virginia, a lot of people. But spending money doesn't automatically give you victory. Ask Al Checchi of California or Michael Huffington of California about that.
MS. CLIFT: I still think he'll be the next senator, though.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We'll be right back with predictions.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions, Michael?
MR. BARONE: Al Gore's mysteriously lost e-mails will not be found until after Election Day.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: I think they'll never be found. But the Senate will pass permanent normal trade relations for China by a wide margin before the July recess.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mm-hmm. (In agreement.) Good prediction. Tony?
MR. BLANKLEY: About a year and half ago, I was the first person, I think, to predict --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think you were.
MR. BLANKLEY: -- that Hillary was going to run for the Senate. I'm now going to be the first to predict she's going to lose, which is the scuttlebutt of the Democratic leadership on the Hill. They're worried that she's going to lose in the matchup against Lazio.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Interesting. Clarence?
MR. PAGE: Buy Microsoft. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Excellent. I predict that before they leave for the year, the U.S. Congress will vote $1 billion-plus to fight narcotrafficking -- where?
MS. CLIFT: Colombia.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Colombia! Next week, South Korean President -- get this -- Kim Dae Jung is to begin three days of talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. It's the first summit ever between the two Koreas, which were partitioned into Communist North and pro-Western South in 1945. Big news! Bye bye!
®FC¯END REGULAR SEGMENT
PBS SEGMENT FOLLOWS
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue four: You say "fay-do" I say "fah-do."
"I am going to promote Fado music all over the world. I think Fado now has become my major passion in life," so declares Bill Clinton about the poignant, melancholic Portuguese music called Fado, with its themes of regret for pasts that never were.
From Lisbon, the president traveled to Berlin, Moscow and Kiev. No sooner had Clinton returned from Europe when he headed for Japan for the funeral of former Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi -- a ceremony usually reserved for the vice president. Clinton is not through his travels yet. He goes to Okinawa in July and Brunei in November.
The president's extensive travels are setting records, and the trips are expensive. Clinton's March journey to the Indian subcontinent cost $50 million and utilized 90 Air Force jets over several hundreds of missions.
Clinton has spent more time abroad than any other president in history, visiting three times as many nations as President Reagan did in his two terms. There are, of course, benefits to meeting foreign leaders and discussing mutual problems face to face. President Clinton, however, has had a disturbing pattern of making some foreign trips where he didn't have a well thought through purpose or end game, and he has lowered the power on every aspect of the presidency, including travel, the cost of travel, and the number of guests you take with you, so says Marlin Fitzwater, press secretary to Republican Presidents Reagan and Bush.
A few pricey Clinton trips: Africa, $42 million; China, $18 million; Chile, $10 million; India/Pakistan, $50 million.
Question: Why has Clinton suddenly become a jet-setter?
MR. PAGE: Well, the semi-cynical answer, John, would be that foreign policy is easier than domestic policy when it comes to controversy domestically. But in fact, Clinton is, number one, a lame duck. Number two, a post-Cold War president, unlike Ronald Reagan. He's trying to put together new policies now regarding the subcontinent of India, Africa, et cetera. So he's got perfectly justifiable reasons for getting around.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think it's because Al Gore and Clinton realize that Clinton is an albatross to Gore so they cut a deal, and Al said, "Look, you wander around the globe searching for a legacy and keep and a low profile, and I won't criticize you." And then Clinton sped off to Andrews Air Force Base.
MR. BLANKLEY: No.
MR. PAGE: Now there's a cynical reason! (Laughter.)
MR. BLANKLEY: No, I don't think that because in fact, this world travel gets more attention than he otherwise would get if he was just sitting in the White House.
MS. CLIFT: Right.
MR. BARONE: Right.
MR. BLANKLEY: He's damaging Gore by all of his publicity.
MS. CLIFT: Right. And in fact, comparing him to Reagan, I mean, Clinton is a vigorous baby-boomer, compared to Ronald Reagan, who didn't care to travel.
And secondly, Clinton got the Charlemagne medal in Europe, which is a pretty big --
MR. BLANKLEY: You mean the charlatan medal?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Ooh!
MS. CLIFT: Charlemagne! Which Winston Churchill got, and that's a high honor.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I ask you, is Clinton abusing the travel budget --
MS. CLIFT: No.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- bearing in mind that his wife and his daughter did their Africa safari, and he had his bonding trip with his daughter to India.
MR. BARONE: No. John, you give a teenager the keys to the car and he's going to go places. He's got the keys to Air Force One. What we hope is that he won't give away the store the way he almost did in China, in his nine-day trip there in July 1998 --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So it is or it is not shameful junketing?
MR. BARONE: It's junketing.
MS. CLIFT: It's appropriate -- it's appropriate for the lone superpower in the world.
MR. BARONE: But fortunately, we did not get the kind of treaty that he wanted to get in Russia.
MS. CLIFT: It's totally appropriate. And we're off the air.