THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP
HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN
JOINED BY: MICHAEL BARONE, ELEANOR CLIFT, RICH LOWRY AND LAWRENCE O'DONNELL
TAPED: FRIDAY, JUNE 14, 2002
BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF JUNE 15-16, 2002
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THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: The Dirty Bomber.
ATTORNEY GENERAL JOHN ASHCROFT: (From videotape.) We have captured a known terrorist who was exploring a plan to build and explode a radiological dispersion device, or dirty bomb, in the United States.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That terrorist is an American citizen of Puerto Rican extraction and one-time Chicago gang member named Jose Padilla, also known as Abdullah al Muhajir. Padilla was allegedly part of an al Qaeda plot to bomb U.S. targets and worked with al Qaeda on so- called dirty bombs that release radioactivity. Some see Padilla's capture as a victory for U.S. intelligence.
STEVE EMERSON (terrorism expert): (From videotape.) I think this was a major success, a major coup for the intelligence and law enforcement community, showing that the FBI and CIA can work wonders when they work together.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Others see no such major success; rather, a hand-off from Pakistani intelligence, who had previously arrested Padilla, and another reminder that Osama bin Laden is still on the loose and his al Qaeda network is still planning to strike.
Question: Padilla was captured at O'Hare Airport as soon as his flight arrived from Zurich on May 8th, but it was not announced until this week, five weeks later. Why so long, Michael Barone?
MR. BARONE: Well, my sense, John, is that he was -- they made the -- government made the announcement when they decided to transfer him to military custody as an enemy combatant, and that apparently -- at that point, apparently, they decided to make a public announcement about it. We have made announcements about other people that have been detained militarily, as in Guantanamo.
And there's clear authority in Supreme Court rulings -- Ex Parte Quirin, 1942, the German saboteur case -- that even U.S. citizens can be held as enemy combatants if the government has evidence that they are actively fighting the United States. So there's precedent for it.
Obviously, it's a procedure that can be abused, and we've got to keep a lookout to make sure that it's not. But I don't think it is being in this case, from what we know.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, what do you think?
MS. CLIFT: Well, it was awfully politically convenient to suddenly announce this great cooperation between the FBI and the CIA just when the Congress is looking at the president's proposal and noting that his grand reorganization doesn't touch the two agencies most culpable for the failures in intelligence that led up to 9/11. So it was very politically convenient.
And then you also have the attorney general, in an extraordinary act of grandstanding, from Moscow, where he was traveling, with apocalyptic language that the White House then, in a rather stunning rebuke, has spent the rest of this week climbing down from. The administration is not going to be able to get away with this one, declaring an American-born -- a Brooklyn-born boy an enemy --
MR. BARONE: Well, he's an adult.
MS. CLIFT: -- an adult -- an enemy combatant, holding him indefinitely, without legal representation, without any charges, where even the deputy secretary of Defense, Paul Wolfowitz, has said this was nothing more than loose talk. The administration is really going to have to come up with some evidence here, or they're going to have to let this guy go.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Rich Lowry?
MR. LOWRY: Well, look, Eleanor, if you treat him as a(n) ordinary domestic criminal, you can't interrogate him the way they're interrogating him now, because he can invoke his Fifth Amendment rights. You'd probably have to let him go eventually, because you do not have enough to make a criminal case against him.
And this is what's happening. This is the post-Moussaoui model of counterterrorism. It's preemptive. It means you can't build the case very carefully, but you move fast, and you detain these guys as enemy combatants, which they are. And there's -- as Michael pointed out, this is -- there's no constitutional problem with this whatsoever.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Welcome, Lawrence. What do you think?
MR. O'DONNELL: Well, it -- Eleanor's right. It was a very convenient timing for the announcement of this thing, and this administration needed an announcement like that. It's hard to believe that Ashcroft was out on his own when he was saying those things, but the administration did quickly realize we've got to tone this down, because what you -- to have the attorney general go out there and say, "They're here, and they're working on nuclear weapons here," without us then being able to do anything other than say we're holding on to one of them --
MR. BARONE: I think he said radiation, rather than nuclear weapons.
MR. O'DONNELL: -- you've got nothing other than panic left in the streets.
MR. LOWRY: What he said -- what he said --
MR. BARONE: I think he said radiation --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Radioactive devices.
MR. BARONE: Radioactive devices.
MR. O'DONNELL: It's not a distinction that anyone in Manhattan cares about. You're talking about killing masses of people with what is, in effect, nuclear fallout.
MR. BARONE: Well, the fact is there are people out there that would very much like to do that, and may have more capability of doing that than want to. We have now learned, because it's been reported in the press, that the radiation devices are not nearly as dangerous as nuclear devices, but they could inflict serious harm on Americans. They could fence off limits historic or --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about -- I'm aware of the cesium-137 and the americium-35 and so forth and the cobalt-60. But what about the radiation effects? And he said that thousands would be killed when the radiation kills them. They're not immediately killed because of the explosion. That doesn't do it. What about that?
MR. LOWRY: There's a higher cancer risk. And this is -- Michael's right. This is mostly a weapon of fear and economic terror, because you'd have to shut down a large swathe of the city after one of these went off.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You saw the estimate of trillions of dollars in costs.
MS. CLIFT: Well, the attorney general used the phrase "mass deaths and injury." Well, I've since gotten educated on this, too. I don't think we would see mass immediate deaths.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.
MS. CLIFT: These are more weapons of mass disruption than they are destruction. And they would make areas uninhabitable. They would deal the economy a severe blow.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question.
MS. CLIFT: That's partly why the administration is backing down, because they will send this economy into a real tailspin if they don't quit with the fearmongering.
MR. BARONE: Well, I think you're right in which you stated that Ashcroft tends to overstate this somewhat, but let's --
MS. CLIFT: Somewhat!
MR. BARONE: The fact is there is a potential of serious damage to the United States.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, the question is whether there is a smell here.
Exit: What is Padilla? A trophy the FBI should be justifiably proud to have bagged or a patsy in a public relations stunt? Michael Barone.
MR. BARONE: Well, it's not clear that the -- whether it was the FBI or other agencies that got this information, but I think getting him --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: More the former --
MR. BARONE: -- was a positive, from what we know now.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?
MS. CLIFT: More a patsy than a trophy. And it's not only the ACLU that's going to be at the barricades on this one, but conservative Republicans who don't want the government taking their guns are not going to like the way this case is handled, either.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?
MR. LOWRY: He's a trophy, John. And Democrats have to decide whether they want the FBI to be more aggressive and catch these guys and put them away before they commit terrorist acts or not.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?
MR. O'DONNELL: It's great to see the jury system abandoned and Rich Lowry able to conclude who the criminals are. We have to -- we've given up the presumption of innocence in this country. I guess I'll go along with that. But I cannot give up my presumption of ignorance. I don't know whether he's guilty or not. And I have to admit it --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think it's primarily a PR stunt?
MR. O'DONNELL: I have no idea. He could be the most dangerous man on Earth, and he might not be, and I don't know.
MR. BARONE: Lawrence, were the German saboteurs' cases wrongly decided, in your view?
MR. O'DONNELL: No. But I didn't decide them the day they got them, okay? The day they were pulled in, I didn't say, and no one of reasonable mind would say, "Those German saboteurs are absolutely guilty." I don't need to know anything more --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I don't think --
MS. CLIFT: Wolfowitz is an even bigger hawk than you are, Michael, and he's the one who says this is loose talk. And there were a number of things he was talking about --
MR. LOWRY: But he -- (inaudible) -- connections, Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: Lots of people may have tenuous connections.
MR. LOWRY: Every executive in American history has had this power to determine who's an enemy combatant.
MS. CLIFT: It's amazing to me you're so willing to give up your constitutional rights.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is this gentleman has nowhere near the ability to blow up a dirty bomb, number one. Number two, it's PR value more than anything else.
When we come back, the new Bush doctrine: Strike first, ask questions later.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two: The Bush Doctrine.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: (From videotape.) The war on terror will not be won on the defensive. We must take the battle to the enemy, disrupt his plans and confront the worst threats before they emerge.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Strike first; ask questions later. That's the new security doctrine of the Bush administration. Preemptive strikes mean no warning, kill or be killed, "defensive intervention," in euphemistic military-speak. Containment and deterrence? Yesterday's formulae, Cold War policies premised on the assumption that an enemy would never initiate an attack on the U.S., because of fear of devastating reprisal. But this Mutually Assured Destruction -- MAD -- doctrine can no longer be relied upon in the face of new threats.
PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape.) Deterrence, the promise of massive retaliation against nations, means nothing against shadowy terrorist networks with no nation or citizens to defend.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: NATO Secretary-General Lord Robertson, however, disagrees: "We are a defensive alliance, and we remain a defensive alliance. We do not go out looking for problems to solve."
NATO is not the only one worried. Listen to what China thinks. "The Bush administration is now displaying not only a lack of the kind of discretion a global power should demonstrate, but also its unwise ambition to abuse its power in its push for hegemony." So says China's official daily newspaper.
Question: What's the riskiest element of this new policy? Eleanor Clift.
MS. CLIFT: Well, first of all, I think what the president is mostly doing is trying to create an intellectual rationale for whatever he plans to do with Iraq.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Invade Iraq?
MS. CLIFT: Yeah. But expanding it into a doctrine is risky because why does the U.S. get to be the only country that is allowed to take on this kind of doctrine? Why not India? India thinks of itself as a superpower with nuclear capability. Why don't they go right some wrongs around the world? This is not a doctrine that you can apply without running into huge criticism from our friends.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about miscalculating the level of threat? For example, at what point does the United States bomb Japan in anticipation that Japan is going to strike Pearl Harbor, so to speak? Do you understand the miscalculation that could occur in preemptive strikes? Do you care to speak to that?
MR. LOWRY: Well, look, John. I think we're only going to apply this doctrine when we figure out we face a real threat, as we do with Saddam Hussein. There are two important elements of that West Point speech. One is the doctrine of preemption, which goes to the problem of weapons of mass destruction. You cannot wait for your enemies to get, you certainly cannot wait for them to use, their weapons of mass destruction. You have to preempt them first.
The other important element, John, was the human rights language, which was a simmering bomb under your friend, the Saudis; under the Syrians; under the Iranians; under the whole current geopolitical order in the Middle East. And I think it's a sign that over the long term, the administration wants to change that order in the Middle East.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He makes one good point in that exposition, and that is, modern weapons have consequences that are intolerable if an action occurs. You follow me? So, what are your observations on this --
MR. O'DONNELL: Well, you know, if you go through the whole speech, he's talking about the possibility of preemptive military action -- he didn't say preemptive strike, he said preemptive action -- when necessary. So it can be read as less than what we're making of it. It can be read as, if we have a certain kind of intelligence, we'll send in bands of Navy SEALs, we'll send in a battalion. It can be anything. And so to take it -- to assume it to be some sort of tactical nuclear weapon or something like that is to take it beyond the scope of the speech.
MR. BARONE: I think that's -- that's right. That right. I mean, the Cold War world, we had more or less a symmetry with the Soviet Union. Deterrence could work there. Now we have asymmetries with rogue powers like Iraq. And what this is an attempt to do is to justify the use of our country, changing that asymmetry around so that it works in our favor.
And there's another thing to note here, John, that's very important. House Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt gave a speech, three days after President Bush spoke at West Point, on foreign policy at the Woodrow Wilson Center. And the Gephardt speech basically supported going against -- war with Iraq. He said we should try other means as we can, but we'll go to war with Iraq if we must.
MS. CLIFT: There --
MR. BARONE: He supported preemption. He supported military transformation. This is really a bipartisan policy of preemption at this stage of the game.
MS. CLIFT: Well --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN; Let me move on here.
Okay: "Defensive" a la "Rummy." Lord Robertson says NATO is a defensive entity. So Mr. Rumsfeld tells us what "defensive" really means.
SECRETARY OF DEFENSE DONALD RUMSFELD: (From videotape.) One needs to calibrate the definition of "defensive," because literally the only way to defend against individuals or groups or organizations or countries that have weapons of mass destruction and are bent on using them against you, for example, and you know you can't defend at every place at any time against every technique, then the only defense is to take the effort to find those global networks and to deal with them, as the United States did in Afghanistan. Now, is that defensive or is it offensive? I personally think of it as defensive.
Question: Is Rumsfeld confused? I ask you, Rich Lowry.
MR. LOWRY: Well, it wasn't the most clear statement ever. It was a little tangled.
But let me get at what he's getting at here, John. During the Cold War, we used our nuclear weapons to deter a superior conventional force in Europe, which was the Soviets. Now rogue states are trying to do the same thing to our conventional forces. And this is not just theory. If you remember the rash of stories two or three weeks ago about the U.S. military being reluctant to go after Iraq, one of the reasons is, is because they know Saddam has bio and chem weapons and that he would use those against our troops in the field, which makes it a much more difficult proposition. So there you have a real-world example of a rogue using weapons of mass destruction to partly deter United States power.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wouldn't it have been better if deterrence and containment were stated -- restated by the president as the controlling doctrine of this country, and that a strategic component of that doctrine is preemptive strike? The answer is yes.
Exit question: Are we safer or less safe learning to love the bomb and using it when we need it? I ask you.
MR. BARONE: Well, I don't think we're talking about using nuclear weapons here, John.
The answer to your other question is "no," not the "yes" you gave.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?
MS. CLIFT: I think the unsettling thing about the administration's approach is it's essentially we're going to do what we want to do and we don't have to consult any of the allies that have been with us for 50 years. That's what makes Europe nervous.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think about learning to love the bomb, or loving the bomb and being willing to use it?
MR. LOWRY: We're safer, John, because we're learning to really dislike their bombs and their attempts to get the bomb.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?
MR. O'DONNELL: We might be safer looked at from our own viewpoint; but Eleanor's absolutely right, this is a risky proposition when you apply it to the subcontinent. For India or Pakistan to watch us in this posture is a very risky thing.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You make an excellent point. It's a very bad setting to be talking about the dominance of the preemptive strike in this new era.
MS. CLIFT: We --
MR. LOWRY: Well, no one's talking about nuking Iraq.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, but we are talking about a --
MR. LOWRY: No one's talking about nuking Iraq. It's a totally different --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It was presented in terms of dominance, and it should not be the dominant and controlling doctrine; it should be containment and deterrence. And preemptive strike --
MR. LOWRY: Well, we can topple -- John, we can topple Saddam Hussein and prevent war on the subcontinent at the same time.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's see how it's properly done, in another "McLaughlin Y-2-0 Moment" marking the 20th anniversary year.
The date: April 1986, 16 years ago. The place: Tripoli and Benghazi, Libya. The event: U.S. warplanes bomb military barracks and airfields in Libya. The strike is in retaliation for a Libyan- linked terrorist bombing of a West Berlin discotheque that killed an American.
Ronald Reagan describes the strike as preemptive to discourage future Libyan attacks. So, preemptive strikes don't start with President Bush.
The "Group" reacts to the retaliatory and preemptive strike of Ronald Reagan:
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE SEGMENT)
JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think are the long-term consequences of the Reagan administration's strike at Libya? Will the long-term consequences be positive or negative?
KENNETH WALKER: I think negative, John. I think it does violence to diplomatic and legal institutions in the world and in this country. There can't be much doubt that we were trying to take Qadhafi out, there. That's against international law. We were trying to overthrow his government. That's against international law. We justify, by this policy, this -- under this rationale, the Nicaraguans are fully entitled to cross into Honduras. Indeed, they're justified in attacking the CIA in Virginia!
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: R. Novak.
ROBERT NOVAK: It's positive because it shows we're not a pussy, which was in doubt for a long time.
And the second point I never got to make, because Germond interrupted me, was that it is less of a red flag in the Middle East than anybody thought it was going to be.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Jack? Positive or negative long-term consequences?
JACK GERMOND: I have no idea. This is such a can of worms that there's no way in the world to know.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're abstaining.
MORTON KONDRACKE: I'm abstaining too. I want to --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Ohhh, this program has lost its character.
MR. KONDRACKE: All right. If we --
JACK GERMOND: Kick him out!
MR. KONDRACKE: If we get him and we get him soon, then it's positive. If we don't get him soon, then it's maybe negative.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think what this has done is provided enormous shock value to the international community. It has brought things to a head, and my gut feeling is that the long-term consequences will be positive.
(END VIDEOTAPE SEGMENT)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There's Ronald Reagan for you, the correct use of the preemptive strike as part of the doctrine of containment and deterrence.
Issue three: Kerry for president?
Will it be another term in the U.S. Senate for Massachusetts' John Kerry, or does he have his sights set on a 2004 presidential run? His competition for re-election to the Senate this year is virtually non-existent. So Kerry has focused on attacking national Republican policies -- education, unions, the environment -- with a campaign documentary aired last weekend at the Massachusetts State Democrat Convention.
The press has picked up the beat and done major stories on John Kerry in the past few weeks -- notably, The Washington Post, the New Republic and The Boston Globe -- all of which profiled the 58-year-old Vietnam War hero.
Question: Should Kerry be elated or should he be terrified to become the media front-runner? I ask you, Lawrence O'Donnell.
MR. O'DONNELL: Well, being the front-runner has worked well lately, for Bill Clinton, for George W. Bush. They were considered front-runners from the start.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Which was -- give me one --
MR. O'DONNELL: I'm glad to see the media finally catching up with me. (Laughter.) I said on this show last year that John Kerry was the front-runner in this thing. Look, he's got $3 million in the bank for his Senate campaign, which he does not have to spend, because he's unopposed in Massachusetts. He is a neighbor to New Hampshire. He's going to be the front-runner in New Hampshire. He has more money than any other Democrat right now in that field. The others aren't even raising money for a --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And by being front-runner, he can raise more money.
MR. O'DONNELL: He can raise more money.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's got a little momentum going. What's the down side on being a front-runner?
MR. O'DONNELL: Well, the down side is that you become the target when you're the front-runner.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're right -- (inaudible).
MR. LOWRY: But as long as the campaign is being effectively ignored because of the war on terror and other things --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who's targeting him? Is Daschle now going to target him?
MR. O'DONNELL: No.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is Gore going to target him?
MR. O'DONNELL: No. He is Gore's biggest problem. When Gore gets into this --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is Lieberman --
MR. O'DONNELL: -- his biggest problem is going to be -- well, Lieberman says he's not getting in if Gore's getting in, and Gore's getting in.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is Hillary Clinton going to target him?
MR. O'DONNELL: Hillary Clinton's not in this thing and not going to --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If Gore wants -- don't you agree that if Gore wants the nomination, he gets it?
MR. O'DONNELL: No, because the party is pretty much finished with Al Gore. He's going to have to convince this party -- I didn't think that was the case on election -- after the election. But he has soured the party on himself.
MS. CLIFT: Look, John Kerry probably will win --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: John Kerry probably will win New Hampshire. Richard Gephardt probably will win Iowa. The shoot-out is going to be South Carolina. But Kerry's a very credible, competent candidate, and he's got two hurdles. One, his personality -- he's seen as kind of stuck- up and arrogant. But hey, that's pretty common on Capitol Hill. I think that's kind of bogus. And secondly, can a Massachusetts liberal get elected? Will the party discount that? I think those are two early --
MR. BARONE: John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. He also defeated the attractive- personality candidate, Weld, in Massachusetts.
MR. BARONE: Well, but "Democrats win in Massachusetts" is not exactly headline news. And I think the fact is that John Kerry is one of several Democrats with a chance to win the nomination. I think Al Gore, if he enters the race, starts off as the clear front-runner. Lawrence is right that a lot of Democratic activists say bad things and are grouching about Al Gore.
MR. O'DONNELL: (Laughs.) They sure do.
MR. BARONE: He's still way ahead with the voters, and he has more foreign policy experience than any of the other Democrats do.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And he's a war hero. He's a war hero!
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: John Kerry's the war hero! That's what I said! John Kerry's a war hero, and people don't like -- in the United States don't want weakness today. They want somebody who can pull the trigger.
MR. LOWRY: John, Al Gore is the front-runner, and there's a sneering contempt for him among political insiders.
But look, you know, he won the popular vote, as I'm sure Eleanor will remind us.
MS. CLIFT: I'll remind you! (Chuckles.)
MR. LOWRY: And he's a substantive guy, and if he keeps --
MR. O'DONNELL: None of the money people want to go to Gore. That's his problem.
MR. LOWRY: And if he can keep the big money --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question --
MR. O'DONNELL: People who finance the campaigns are staying away --
MR. BARONE: He -- (inaudible) -- money to get --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Rate Kerry on a contender scale, zero to 10, zero meaning Mike Dukakis, he doesn't have a prayer; 10 meaning FDR or JFK. Michael Barone.
MR. BARONE: Well, FDR wasn't a lock for the nomination, and Dukakis --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I didn't say nomination. I said contender.
MR. BARONE: Dukakis got 46 percent of the vote. He wasn't that much of a dud. I'll give John Kerry a four.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A four.
MS. CLIFT: I'll give him a seven.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Seven.
MR. LOWRY: I'll give him a six; if he spends the Heinz money, a seven or eight.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Six.
MR. O'DONNELL: Oh, as a contender, he's got at least an eight. I mean, he doesn't have the nomination locked, but he's, you know, THE front-runner right now for the nomination.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence is right. He -- as a contender, he's an eight.
We'll be right back with predictions.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Michael?
MR. BARONE: Tony Blair will not have a referendum on the euro this fall.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: Democrats will contrast Bush's rollback of air pollution rules with the ways he's protecting the state of Florida environmentally to help his brother.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mm-hmm. And the Florida versus California situation.
MS. CLIFT: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes.
MR. LOWRY: The Dallas meeting does not quell the scandal and crisis in the church, because more bishops need to lose their jobs.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Because of moving priests around?
MR. LOWRY: Well, it's just not enough to beat your breast and apologize.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. What have you got?
MR. O'DONNELL: If there ever is an independent commission to investigate how the government handled terrorism prior to 9/11, it will reveal less and take longer than the congressional committees investigating.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I predict a clean sweep by the Democrats in the golden state of California. All top seven state elected offices will be won by Democrats.
Next week: Soaring prescription drug costs will become a major November election issue, and we'll treat it. Bye-bye!
END OF REGULAR SEGMENT
PBS SEGMENT FOLLOWS
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue four: Futbol.
(Audio of soccer announcer: GOOAAALLLL!!!! GOOAALLLL!!!!)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Every four years, from Sao Paulo to Stockholm, from Durban to Dublin, a worldwide fever grips hundreds of millions of people. It is a fever spawned by soccer; it gets in the blood and strikes at hearts and minds everywhere. The World Cup -- a month- long, round-robin tournament with the planet's best teams playing not for money but for national pride. The prestige of nations rises and falls with World Cup victories and World Cup losses. A particularly big loss can plunge a national psyche into bottomless depression and endless silent rage. World Cup fever causes workplace absenteeism and crowd congestion around TV sets in bars, pubs, saloons at all hours. Fever victims have been known to alternately weep, sing, undress, fight. Once a country finds itself seized by this malady, hysteria rules.
How is it that the U.S. stays immune to the contagion, unmoved by the prospect of a breathtaking nil-nil dust-up featuring Senegal and Uruguay, howsoever breathtaking that dust-up may be? Why is the U.S. "odd man out" in the world's ongoing love-affair with soccer?
Question: Is it a question of time, meaning that as today's youth, many of whom have grown up on a soccer field since the age of five, mature, we will become a nation of soccer fanatics? Is that the question and how do you address that?
MR. O’DONNELL: That's what's happening in my family. My daughter Elizabeth has now been on the soccer field for three years. And so, now I'm interested in it, and I never paid any attention to it before that. And now, there's no more exciting spectator experience.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So, it's a question of time. I think that's very true, but I don't think it's entirely true. I think there's another component. And what will cause a catapulting of soccer in the national athletic psyche?
MR. LOWRY: If our national team were much better and were competitive to win the World Cup, I think you'd see more interest. But, you know, a lot of people play pool at bars, but that doesn't mean you want to watch it on TV. And the fact is we have better sports to watch. You know, football, baseball, hockey --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Baseball -- baseball is slow. Overrated.
MR. LOWRY: In other countries -- well, in a lot of other countries, this is all you have.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If we had city teams, Seattle. If we had Atlanta --
MR. BARONE: We do have city teams --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: See, I'm talking soccer. City teams --
MR. LOWRY: Yeah, we do. We do.
MR. BARONE: We have city teams. There's soccer league.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But what kind of standing do they have?
MR. BARONE: Well, the answer is --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do we have -- we have a Boston soccer team? Do we have a New York soccer team?
MR. BARONE: John, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles -- we've got this women's soccer team with some of these players that are very well-known.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We have to identify with a team.
MR. LOWRY: We have soccer teams all over the place, John.
MR. BARONE: There are soccer teams. I don't know. I played soccer starting in the fourth grade, and I must say it still doesn't do it for me as a spectator sport on TV that much.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think it has to be an indigenous American sport? Like lacrosse. That was developed in this country, right?
MR. BARONE: Well, I mean, curiously, we have a whole set of indigenous American sports -- football and baseball --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did they all catch on? Did lacrosse catch on? You play lacrosse?
MR. BARONE: Not very often, John. (Laughter.) Not once in a lifetime, so far.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Golf we got from Great Britain.
MR. BARONE: Eleanor plays lacrosse.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tennis we got from Great Britain.
MR. BARONE: Eleanor plays left field in lacrosse. She's good at it.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It isn't a question of developing it here, because what we developed here hasn't particularly worked, whereas golf has really caught on. But look how long it took us to produce a Tiger Woods. Right?
MS. CLIFT: Yeah. And golf is now the popular sport among a lot of young people. But, you know, I don't have high hopes for soccer, frankly. I have three sons. They're all grown now. They all played soccer. I don't think one of them watches a soccer game on TV.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?
MS. CLIFT: There's not enough scoring.
MR. LOWRY: Yeah, I played soccer, too. It doesn't make a difference.
MS. CLIFT: It's boring.
MR. LOWRY: It's a great Little League game because you don't need much talent. You can just sort of run -- put on shorts and run around.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, there will be World Cup fanatics in the United States in the fullness of time. (Laughter.)