THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP
HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN
JOINED BY: LIONEL BARBER, TONY BLANKLEY,
PATRICK BUCHANAN AND ELEANOR CLIFT
TAPED: FRIDAY, JUNE 13, 2003
BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF JUNE 14-15, 2003
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THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: Ahmed, where's Saddam?
AHMED CHALABI (the Iraqi National Congress): (From videotape.) He is moving in an arc from Diyala, northeast of Baghdad, around the Tigris, towards the area of Tikrit and into the Dulaym areas to the west of the Tigris.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It may be the mystery news scoop of the decade. Ahmed Chalabi claims to know the whereabouts of the deposed Iraqi dictator. This is the first mention of Saddam's whereabouts since the war ended over two months ago.
Saddam tops the list of wanted Iraqis on the Pentagon's deck of playing cards. To date, 52 percent of the senior Iraqi leaders on the cards have been killed or captured. All the living ones have been systematically interrogated about Saddam's whereabouts. Isn't it odd that none of these senior officers know where he might be?
In addition, 150,000 American troops and some 30,000 British and coalition forces are on the alert for Saddam in a country that is largely flat and open, with few mountains or caves to hide in like Afghanistan. Also, tens of thousands of civilian Iraqis are on the lookout for Saddam, some to settle old scores, others to curry favor with and/or win big reward money from the U.S., like construction workers, engineers, electricians, plumbers, shopkeepers and others, who may have had hand in building any hideaway bunker where Saddam could be.
Then there is America's vaunted technology: surveillance satellites, listening devices from electronic warfare aircraft, all- seeing CIA drones, communications intercepts, all monitoring Iraq for suspicious communications and movement.
Question: Given this heavy American footprint in Iraq, how credible is it that no one but Ahmed Chalabi knows where Saddam is, Pat Buchanan?
MR. BUCHANAN: John, if you can believe it, Ahmed Chalabi was the war party's candidate for gauleiter of Baghdad. But his star has been fading seriously. The intelligence he's been providing to the United States turned out -- a lot of it -- not to be so good. Paul Bremer has cut him out of the action in Baghdad. He is trying to come back here and get back in the news. If this individual knew where Saddam was, he should tell the American troops and go there. My guess is, he is repeating reports or rumors that he has heard.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, I don't think Chalabi has much credibility. The administration relied on him in believing that U.S. troops would be welcomed like liberators, and that didn't happen. They relied on him for information about weapons of mass destruction. That proved to be faulty and phoney as well.
But having said all that, whether Saddam is alive or dead -- and there is reason to believe that he might be in the Baghdad area -- the guerrilla attacks on American troops appear to be organized. And whether they were organized by Saddam or anyone else almost doesn't matter, because the U.S. response needs to be a more aggressive nation-building in that country. And we've fallen down on that, and that has to be there. We can handle those guerrilla attacks. We have a fine Army. But we need to do better at nation-building.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to go back to my pointed question. I'm not interested in Chalabi. I'm interested in the credibility of the United States not knowing where he is. Do you think that's credible, or do you think that there is reason to believe that we do know where he is and that we don't want to tell anybody, for other reasons?
MR. BLANKLEY: I think it is credible, for the same reason that the British and the Americans didn't know where Hitler was for years after the end of World War II. The Russians knew. They took his bones away. But --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But they didn't have the limited area that we have in California; and also, a flat terrain.
MR. BLANKLEY: But they had, John -- all I'm saying is at the end of a war, the leaders sometimes disappear. Pancho Villa disappeared. It doesn't mean that the occupying power or the new government lacks credibility because they can't find one person in a whole country of millions of people.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We've had over two months to find him. We've got 200,000 people in the country.
MR. BLANKLEY: And the mad bomber here was missing for about 17 years before the FBI found him. I mean, this doesn't surprise me.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lionel Barber, maybe you can help us out to see the light here. If he were found, that would create more problems of great severity. He'd have to have a show trial. And it would have to be something like Adolf Eichmann tried. And that would mean the opportunity for him to parade all kinds of questions like: there were no weapons of mass destruction; what's the tie-in between al Qaeda and me? Isn't that correct?
MR. BARBER: John, the Americans don't know where he is; Ahmed Chalabi doesn't know where he is; the British don't know where he is. And the simple solution is to wait, hope; meanwhile, try and restore some order in this troubled country. But, as regards Saddam, whether we want to put him on trial like Eichmann, I don't think so. Simple solution: a very small bullet in the right place.
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, do you think that that is in the cards; that if we do find him, he'll be automatically assassinated in order to avoid an Eichmann-like trial?
MR. BUCHANAN: No!
MR. BARBER: John, before this war, there was a -- there were comments by the White House which were an incitement to assassinate Saddam Hussein. And I think --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Look at it this way, Pat: if he --
MR. BUCHANAN: Occam's razor: The simplest explanation, John, rather than this conspiracy you're working on, is often the best explanation. My guess is we've got leads and clues, and people are saying: I saw him alive here; I didn't see him alive there. We've probably got rumors that he's here or there. But we do not know where he is. And if we capture him, they will not kill him. I'll tell you why. Because the soldiers that capture him are not going to shoot that guy. They're going to turn him over to their commanders. And they wouldn't dare do that without talking to --
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, a lot --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I like simplicity, but I don't like naivete. Now, listen to me.
MR. BUCHANAN: All right. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If Hitler had not been found dead and he were found alive and he were put on trial, the Nazi loyalists would be there, fermenting trouble. So, too, in this case. They can't possibly --
MR. BUCHANAN: The Nazi loyalists --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- they can't possibly admit that he's been caught. They (haven't ?) because of the compounded problem it would create.
MR. BUCHANAN: No, no, you cannot -- what's the alternative? That you kill him? They will not do that.
MR. BLANKLEY: Wait, wait, wait. Let me just get one -- let me get one thought in here.
MS. CLIFT: Well, you know, I love -- (laughs) --
MR. BLANKLEY: It is vastly in America's interest to reveal to the Iraqi people that we've got Saddam, because then, any hope of revanchism is going to be dead. His followers, what remains of them, would then just disappear and -- you want to get the man, obviously.
MS. CLIFT: If they've got him hidden away somewhere, that is too good a secret to hold for very long.
MR. BLANKLEY: Our government can't keep secrets like that. (Chuckles.)
MS. CLIFT: And there is a lot of money that is unaccounted for. And frankly, I think Saddam could be out of the country, or he could be dead.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There was a report out of Iraq at the end of the week that those Iraqis who are in the know say that he is alive and his sons are alive and they're with him.
(To Mr. Buchanan.) So you don't suspect that there's any withholding of information from the American people? God, you have become naive since your Nixon days!
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, look. Ocalan, which -- that fellow in Turkey -- Tony is right; the Turks got him. They put him on trial; they locked him up for good. And the Kurdish rebellion diminished dramatically as a consequence. The leader was gone, locked up, humiliated, captured.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: From what you've seen --
MR. BARBER: There's a very big difference between Mr. Ocalan and Mr. Saddam Hussein. I mean, this is a man who is a dictator, a ruler of his country. There is no interest at all for the allies, for the Americans, to be lying or misleading anybody about this.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Unless they have him. Unless they have him.
MR. BARBER: And so why hasn't he been able to point everybody to where those weapons of mass destruction are?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Look. You and your newspaper, the Financial Times, have editorialized as powerfully as anybody, bewailing and also criticizing the falsifications that have been produced by this government. Correct? Including weapons of mass destruction as a construct, as a platform for war.
MR. BARBER: John, we've been less than comfortable with the way in which this administration and the government in Britain has justified --(inaudible).
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You have more than suggested duplicity is at work. But all of a sudden, suddenly in this particular proposition you don't question what is obviously possible, that we could have him and are monitoring him.
MS. CLIFT: Wait a second.
MR. BARBER: Maybe I'm missing something here, but I can't quite work out what possible interest --
MS. CLIFT: Right.
MR. BARBER: -- it is for the United States to be misleading the world and the people about the whereabouts of Saddam Hussein.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Because of the flow of unintended consequences that would proceed from a --
MS. CLIFT: I have a theory. I have another theory.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's get out. Let's get out. I'm obviously making no headway with this issue. Exit question. I'm a little surprised at you, Eleanor.
Exit question: Is it your felt intuition that our knowledge of Saddam's whereabouts is, A, conclusive, we have him captured; B, positive, we know where he is and he's being closely monitored by us; or C, clueless, we have no idea where to find Saddam? Which of those three?
MR. BUCHANAN: None of the above. We do have information. We're talking to half of the deck of cards. They're probably telling us, "He was here, he's not there." We don't know precisely. My guess is we've probably got some leads.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, the guy has got to be living somewhere. There are merchants. There are tradesmen.
MR. BUCHANAN: Maybe Chalabi was right! (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We cut a deal with those people. We say, "Here's half a million dollars and safe haven." You mean to say --
MR. BUCHANAN: I think they're feeding us information and it's not conclusive.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: Clueless. They're not operating with a full deck of cards. But I have another theory. Maybe Saddam never existed to begin with. Maybe this is all a fantasy. And what's your theory about Osama? Where do they have him hidden away?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?
MR. BLANKLEY: I think along that line, obviously, he is where the weapons of mass destruction are, being held by the Americans in Section -- was it 41 or something?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think we have him in a cell with a hood over his head?
MR. BLANKLEY: No, I'm joking.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A black hood?
MR. BLANKLEY: I'm joking. Obviously, we don't know where he is.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We don't know where he is.
MR. BLANKLEY: It's C, clueless.
MR. BARBER: Pat's right, clueless at the moment, but don't give up hope; as regards the deck of cards, there may still be an ace in the hole.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer, regrettably, is "clueless." (Laughter.)
When we come back, another earthquake hits California, a political earthquake.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two: All map and no road?
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: (From videotape.) We have been in touch with all parties in the region. I am determined to keep the process on the road to peace.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A suicide bombing in Jerusalem and multiple Israeli strikes into Gaza left over 30 dead and over 100 injured this week. Ten days ago, in Aqaba, Jordan, President Bush presided as the Israelis and Palestinians endorsed his road map to peace. This week, the road map is in danger of being all map and no road. But the White House maintains its commitment to the peace plan.
In an effort to repair the tattered road map, Secretary of State Colin Powell will meet in Amman, Jordan, next week with leaders of Russia, the United Nations and the European Union, the group known as the Quartet, who originally drafted the peace plan.
Question: Some observers have proposed U.S. troops in Israel and the West Bank to control the violence. The White House says no. Is the White House right?
MR. BARBER: Absolutely right. There is no case for inserting American women and men in an area which is completely destabilized, chaotic, and where the two sides are locked in a cycle of violence.
There is, however, a very strong case, supported by the Europeans and the Russians, for American engagement in this process. The violence which we've seen over the last few days is deplorable, but nevertheless, was to be expected. The key now is how to support Mahmoud Abbas, who is under tremendous pressure at the moment. The White House is dead right to sideline Arafat -- a totally discredited figure. But you need a credible interlocutor on the Palestinian side; Mr. Abbas is the man, and he needs support right now.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think Abu Abbas -- or Mazen can defeat the Hamas?
MR. BARBER: He was engaged in a very interesting set of discussions, not widely reported here in the United States, but reported in the Financial Times, about contacts between Hamas and Mr. Abbas before that, and they were making progress.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How can he possibly do it without the assistance of Arafat? And Arafat has no incentive to help Abbas because Arafat was sidelined in the selection of this prime minister.
MR. BARBER: John, because he won a very important victory just a month ago when he got Mr. Dahlan in on the interior -- on the security forces, and he has been making progress. Arafat is a very diminished figure --
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, I wouldn't blame Arafat --
MR. BARBER: -- not taken seriously by many -- any of the Arab leaders, whatever they say in public.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, I wouldn't blame Arafat for what's happening.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You wouldn't?
MS. CLIFT: No. Ariel Sharon didn't wait barely days before he staged a military incursion. He showed no restraint. He rebuffed the president's calls for restraint.
The only way to end this violence is to create an alternative path, and Abu Mazen is the beginning of that path. But he cannot succeed if he is undercut by Israeli attacks. And he cannot succeed unless we are willing to put massive amounts of money in there and show that he can give the Palestinians a better life than what the suicide bombers are giving them.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you straining to get in? I hear -- I see some kind of --
MR. BLANKLEY: I'm straining to get in, but I was politely waiting until Eleanor had finished speaking.
MS. CLIFT: It wasn't very polite, because I could feel those negative vibes the whole time! (Laughs.)
MR. BLANKLEY: Hey, look, it's the best I've done in weeks.
Look, Abbas may very well be acting in good faith. He does not have the power alone to pull back the terrorism. That requires the efforts of the Egyptians and Saudis, the Jordanians, the Americans, to be able to pull down the terrorism. If that's not done, you can only lean on the poor Israelis so often. There's only so much they can give.
MS. CLIFT: They haven't given anything.
MR. BLANKLEY: I mean, you can attack Sharon as much as anybody wants, but the fact is that if the terrorism can't be pulled down, there will be no peace. And Abbas, well-intentioned as he is, does not have the power --maybe a little bit on the Gaza, certainly not on the West Bank -- he doesn't have the power to stop the terrorism.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony, for 37 years the Israelis have been trying to suppress Palestinian militancy, and they haven't succeeded in doing so.
MR. BLANKLEY: Why -- that's why we don't have peace. But what I'm saying is that if the Egyptian intelligence service knows a lot about Hamas and --
MR. BUCHANAN: John, the president -- President Bush, John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, what Israel's response to the Palestinians is succeeding in doing is protracting the violence, howsoever self- defensive -- howsoever it is justified from the point of view of self- defense.
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, it -- look, it goes back and forth. Yeah, it --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you understand me?
MR. BLANKLEY: Vaguely, yeah.
MR. BUCHANAN: It's radicalized the whole -- look --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What makes you think that it can work in the future?
MR. BUCHANAN: All right, John. It has -- this one -- look, Sharon has overdone it. These gunships going in there -- they kill one or two people, and they wound and injure 20 people -- children, everyone. This thing has been radicalized. The president looks weak now, because he asked Sharon to pull back. Sharon has hit them five or six times already. Abu Mazen has got to get some support, but to do that, you got to pull the Israelis off these outposts.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. Quickly -- I want a couple of quick questions and answers. Should a U.N. force go in, as Kofi Annan has suggested?
MR. BUCHANAN: Not now, no. That -- there's a war going on right now between Hamas and Sharon.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Should a NATO force be brought into this situation?
MR. BUCHANAN: If you get -- if you can get peace between -- or get a cease-fire, I would accept a NATO force, but no Americans, because they're the target.
MR. BARBER: Most -- America's part of NATO.
MR. BUCHANAN: No, don't put American ground troops in there.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, Pat --
MR. BARBER: I agree. I absolutely agree. This is not the time to put American troops, British troops, NATO troops, at all. (Inaudible) --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Or U.N. troops.
MR. BARBER: Or U.N. troops.
MS. CLIFT: I disagree. (Chuckles.)
MR. BARBER: You've got to have a cease-fire before you --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You sound like Sharon, asking for the cease- fire.
MR. BARBER: No. No, I --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You've got to accept reality the way it is.
MS. CLIFT: If you -- right. Yeah.
MR. BARBER: I --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why not put a force in there now?
MS. CLIFT: Right. I agree with that.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You do agree?
MS. CLIFT: I agree with that, yes. And that is the Palestinian position. It's not the Israeli position. But a NATO force or a U.N. force ought to get in there to --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question --
MR. BLANKLEY: Let me --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly!
MR. BARBER: I'm shocked, John.
MR. BLANKLEY: If the force is just to get in between as a peacekeeper, it -- that -- it's useless. Sending in a NATO force to actually root out the mad-dog terrorists is an argument that in fact the Clinton -- former Clinton ambassador to Israel suggests, and it may be -- may make sense.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Is the road map now so tattered that it is effectively useless?
MR. BUCHANAN: It has been suspended, and if the war continues much longer, it's going to be dead.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will there be civil war in Palestine over this issue?
MR. BUCHANAN: No. Civil war in Palestine will come if they cut a deal with the Israelis.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: It's a yellow brick road to fantasy. It's meaningless.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?
MR. BLANKLEY: No --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Useless?
MR. BLANKLEY: No, not yet. It's premature to say that. You may be right, but I think there are still a number more rounds of possible success before that.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lionel?
MR. BARBER: We have to stick with the road map. The American president has put his credibility on the line. He's -- it's vital that the U.S. stay in this process, and therefore it is premature, as Tony's saying, to write it off at the moment.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He has to stay in, for reasons of Blair. He promised Blair he'd work on it and achieve it, and also Aznar.
MR. BLANKLEY: And he said he wanted to. I believe the president.
MR. BARBER: He made that promise. He resisted before the Iraq war. But the idea that Mr. Blair has so much leverage over the president that he persuaded him to do this is exaggerated, John.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I don't see it as leverage. I see this president as saying what he means and meaning what he says.
MR. BARBER: (Inaudible.)
MR. BLANKLEY: You're absolutely right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is, it's not dead.
MR. BARBER: Thank you, John.
Issue three: California earthquake -- political.
California is a America's nation-state. Its economy is the sixth largest in the world, ahead of 186 of 192 countries. Thirty-four million people live in California, the U.S.'s most populous state. Los Angeles has no natural resources and no natural harbor, yet it is the nation's leading manufacturer and leading port. It is also the entertainment center of the world.
California likes to think of itself as the America of the future, even as it watches its electricity flicker out - as the Barone-Cohen political almanac tells us - Politically, California today is solidly Democratic, way off to the left on cultural issues, secular more than religious. Most of all, California is a state that is always transforming itself. Its economy has been transformed several times over. Its population has been transformed by one group of newcomers after another. Its politics is transformed with the suddenness of an earthquake, and that is what could be happening now with the recall campaign of California's governor, Gray Davis, and if it prevails, the fascinating election that will follow, including the possible candidacies of Dianne Feinstein and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Question: Which is better for Karl Rove and George Bush, to have the recall succeed and Gray Davis ousted as governor; or for the recall to fail and have Gray Davis still in office?
I ask you, Tony Blankley.
MR. BLANKLEY: Oh, I think the conventional argument is that it's better for it to fail because they seem to think there's a chance that Bush could win California in the presidential reelection.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is he leading there in the polls now?
MR. BLANKLEY: Yes, I've seen a poll where he's a little bit ahead. I don't believe it. California going for Bush would be a surprise --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't believe that --
MR. BLANKLEY: I think this would be wonderful news for Republicans generally, to have a Democratic governor be recalled by a Democratic electorate, which is what California's is, even though chaos will ensue as far as who gets elected governor replacing him.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, not only chaos, but inheriting a $38 billion debt.
MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, I mean, I wouldn't --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You want -- you want a Republican to have that?
MR. BUCHANAN: You know who wants it?
MR. BLANKLEY: I -- I --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What?
MR. BUCHANAN: Conan the Barbarian wants it. (Laughter.) Arnold Schwarzenegger wants it. And my guess is -- John, this thing has gone like a house of fire now, and my guess is Gray Davis is going to be recalled. And the one person that could beat Conan the Barbarian is Dianne Feinstein, but she is not interested.
MS. CLIFT: Right. Yeah, I --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you watch this from afar?
MR. BARBER: From a long way.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?
MR. BARBER: I think that it's crazy.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What? To have a recall?
MR. BARBER: I knew that California had some crazy things going on there, but the idea of --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean the whole notion of a recall?
MR. BARBER: No -- well, I know about Big Stump and Big Willie and all the other things that have gone -- these -- with referendums, and stuff, and propositions. But, but, the idea that you're going to have political instability in an economy which is the fifth-largest in the world, where you have a major, a major fiscal crisis there --
MS. CLIFT: Right, and it's --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes. Yes. This political eruption is bad?
MR. BARBER: It's terrible!
MS. CLIFT: Well --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, what do you think? Quickly!
MS. CLIFT: And it's a privately funded coup to overturn a democratically elected governor. It is being paid for by Congressman Darrell Issa, who made his money selling car alarms. He's put $700,000 in. He'd like to be the candidate himself. But he's too far to the right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly. A quick final answer to this. If it came to a contest between Dianne Feinstein and Arnold Schwarzenegger, who would win?
MR. BUCHANAN: Feinstein would win.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?
MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah.
MS. CLIFT: Yes, because Issa and the right wing would have to get their candidate on, and it would split the vote with Schwarzenegger and get to Feinstein.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?
MR. BLANKLEY: In a two-way race, it would be pretty close, but if the Republicans split it, then obviously Feinstein would win.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?
MR. BARBER: Feinstein versus the terminator? Feinstein.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It would be actually Schwarzenegger because with all of this comes an anti-incumbency feeling that they need an outside figure to straighten it all out, and that would favor Arnold.
We'll be right back with predictions.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Pat.
MR. BUCHANAN: George Tenet will be the man on the hot seat in the WMD, weapons of mass destruction, scandal.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor Clift.
MS. CLIFT: Following up on that, watch for blow-back from the CIA as the White House tries to blame George Tenet for lapses on WMD.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony? Tony Blankley.
MR. BLANKLEY: In about a month or two, the Democrats are going to be very sorry they tried to question the president's integrity on weapons of mass destruction.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lionel?
MR. BARBER: Don't believe the administration's strong-dollar policy. John, it's going down, and that's going to cost you a holiday in France.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Abu Mazen will not -- repeat, not -- resign.
END OF REGULAR SEGMENT
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue four: Democrats to Clintons: "Shut up."
SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY): (From videotape.) Yesterday when I did the book-signing in New York City, I had such a good time. About a thousand people were able to come through before I had to leave.
FORMER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: (From videotape.) I think presidents should be limited to two consecutive terms. Then, after a time out of office, they should be able to run again.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If you watched any television for the last two weeks or visited a book store, you might be forgiven for thinking that it was "all Clinton, all the time." "The Clintons suck up every bit of available air. Nothing is left for anyone else." "Could someone please tell these people to shut up?" So says Susan Estrich, Democratic strategist and long-time associate of the Clintons.
Frustrated Democrats agree; Bill and Hillary, they say, are stealing the limelight from what's important: namely, the Democratic presidential candidates; and in so doing, are harming the party more than they are helping it.
Question: Is the problem here the towering Clintons, or is the problem the flat landscape?
You got that, Pat?
MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lionel Barber, do you have thoughts on this? (Laughter.)
MR. BARBER: Flat landscape. Dwarfs. Seven dwarfs being obscured by Snow White. The fact is that Hillary is positioning for a run in 2008. This is a book which is one step towards that, on that path.
And meanwhile, I guess the only thing I find a bit difficult is, why on Earth is Bill Clinton still taking some of the stage, including that line about him running for mayor, which I find very improbable, in New York City.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Running for mayor in --