THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP
HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN PANEL: PATRICK BUCHANAN, MSNBC; ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK; TONY BLANKLEY, THE WASHINGTON TIMES; LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC
TAPED: FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2006
BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF FEBRUARY 11-12, 2006
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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Bush v. Congress.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: (From videotape.) Previous presidents have used the same constitutional authority I have, and federal courts have approved the use of that authority.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Republicans in Congress are threatening a legal showdown -- get this -- with their own Republican president. George W. Bush claims that he has constitutional power to order domestic surveillance of Americans in the name of national security, with no independent oversight of his actions.
Arlen Specter, Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is drafting legislation that will make it mandatory for Mr. Bush to get a ruling from a special U.S. intelligence court on whether his spying program is legal.
This move will put the Republican-controlled Congress on a collision course with President Bush and his staff. The White House has insisted that it is acting legally in secretly monitoring calls and e-mails that might help to disrupt future terrorist plots.
On the face of it, the Bush eavesdropping violates the law. Domestic eavesdropping for intelligence purposes can only be done with warrants from a special court. Senator Specter's threat is the latest sign that the Bush clandestine spying has divided Republicans, with many fearing that such a program poses a danger to our essential constitutionally guaranteed liberty.
Question: Many other Republicans in Congress share Arlen Specter's concern. What does Specter gain by passing this political hot potato to the court? Pat.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, Specter gains notoriety, visibility. It's where he wants to be as a civil libertarian. But the president has got no problem with this. The president is getting this reaction because he's been defiant, almost contemptuous of the Congress of the United States, because he believes devoutly he has this authority.
And frankly, John, the folks are coming at him. Jimmy Carter tried something at that funeral, which was preposterous. And what the president of the United States is saying (is), "If you fellows want to fight this out on this battlefield this year, fine; let's do it."
I think the president is going to win this. He's been hurt a little bit by the constant attacks from the media and the rest of it. But civil liberties, the leftists coming at him on national security, the president wins the battle.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: On the Coretta Scott King funeral matter with Jimmy Carter, was there any sequel to that? Did anything happen after the funeral?
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, it did. Jimmy Carter really, I think, demeaned himself by using a funeral, in effect, to try to score political points with a sympathetic audience against the president. The president's father came back and said exactly what he should have said. This was completely out of order.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who won?
MR. BUCHANAN: Oh, I think the Bush family won. And the president looked good sitting there. The Democrats pulled another Paul Wellstone funeral, only with Coretta Scott King.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, the first question. MS. CLIFT: Well, I'm going to respond on President Carter. First of all, he is speaking at the funeral of the widow of a fallen civil rights leader, who was eavesdropped upon, who was wiretapped. It was a terrible invasion into American privacy. He used the word "wiretapping" and he got a reaction. Those wiretaps were ordered by Democrats, the Kennedys. He didn't say President Bush. And in the South, Jody Powell, President Carter's former spokesman, said they have a saying, saying, "A big dog always hollers."
Why is the White House reacting so strongly? Because they know this is a sensitive area. And they've lost a bit of ground on this issue. But in the end, they don't want to compromise. They want to fight on this because, in their entire losing hand -- a war that isn't going well, an economy that's out of hand; been trying to take cuts that inflict damage on poor people -- the only thing they have is they're tougher on terrorism. They're going to play the fear card constantly.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, you've just used up your available time to talk about the key question.
MS. CLIFT: I know. Now I'm going to --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to know whether the Specter move is because he recognizes that there's no political margin for him. The Democrats are against this by 75 percent. The Republicans like what the president is doing by 80 percent. There's no margin for him. He's got to get rid of it, and this is the way he gets rid of it. Is that the logic behind this? And what is going to happen from this?
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, it's plausible he allows people to vent in the Senate. I don't think the House would pass similar legislation, so it'll never get to the president's desk, where it would easily be vetoed and sustained in the House, and probably the Senate as well.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will the court rule on it?
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, it only gets to the court if there's a case in controversy. And at this point there's nobody who is a named victim of the alleged violations, if there are some. By the way, the argument in your set-up that it's a violation of law, whether it's President Clinton, President Bush, President Bush Sr., Ronald Reagan, none of them believed that the FISA court, just like the War Powers Act, limits them. And so I don't see it getting to the Supreme Court certainly before 2008.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: FISA, by the way, is F as in Frank, I, S as in Sam, A. It has nothing to do with the esteemed Pfizer drug company. What does FIS stand for?
MR. O'DONNELL: The --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Federal Insurance -- MS. CLIFT: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance.
MR. O'DONNELL: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Intelligence Surveillance. What year -- '78, was it?
MR. BLANKLEY: Seventy-eight.
MR. O'DONNELL: Arlen Specter --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And what does that -- that's the basis for my saying it's against the law, because that's a provision of FISA.
MR. O'DONNELL: And I think Arlen Specter believes it's against the law. Arlen Specter is going to be a senator longer than Bush is going to be president. His move is a demonstration of two things: One, Specter's belief that he has to say something about this and he has to say something for history. It's not just some self- aggrandizing moment for him.
The other is a demonstration of the complete collapse of Bush power in the Republican Congress. It started last year when he not only failed to get the Social Security bill, but every single day Bush campaigned for it, Bush drove down his popularity and the bill's popularity.
He proved that what he wants in the Republican Congress is not something that the Republican Congress necessarily wants or that the people want. So there are -- there's an opportunity this year for plenty of Republicans to go against the president on many things, including his budget and everything else that he sends up there.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think he's an albatross around the neck of the Republican Party?
MR. O'DONNELL: They know he is. Yes. And they know that his war risks their majorities in the House and in the Senate. And that's why they are ordering him to draw down those troops in Iraq, which he is going to do. He has a cut-and-run strategy in Iraq. That's why he accuses the Democrats of having one. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will this go up to the Supreme Court, do you think?
MR. BUCHANAN: No, it's not. Tony is right. It's not going to get through -- I don't believe it'll get through the Senate. It certainly won't get through the House. If it got through both of them, the president would veto it. It would be all over.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, you've got a lot of Republicans that want some legal action, including DeWine, and a number of others.
MR. BUCHANAN: There's a lot of guys who do want to put distance between them. But Lawrence is dead wrong. Look at Justice Sam Alito. That's the president's choice; rammed it right through the Senate when all these Democrats were divided and against it. There's no such --
MR. O'DONNELL: You cannot legislate --
MR. BUCHANAN: There's no such thing as a lame-duck president.
MS. CLIFT: Justice Alito is --
MR. O'DONNELL: Bush can't pass a law. That's what he cannot do.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, quickly.
MS. CLIFT: Justice Alito is one vote. And actually, a lot of people on the right believe, with people on the left, that civil liberties actually are an important thing to preserve in a democracy.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: As is national security.
MS. CLIFT: And I will point out that Jimmy Carter was president when the FISA act was passed, and he was elected on a promise to clean up the reforms from the Nixon era and the J. Edgar Hoover era.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think it's --
MS. CLIFT: And our memories should not be so short.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think it's pretty clear that if it goes to FISA, it's not going to be good news for the president. That's my intuition also, based on the composition of FISA, the court. Secondly, it would be impossible, I would think, for the president to resist the ruling of the court.
Exit question: Assuming that it agrees to accept jurisdiction and rule on the legality of the NSA program -- that's the National Security Administration eavesdropping program --
MR. BUCHANAN: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- how will the FISA court come down? MR. BUCHANAN: I don't care how it came down. The president would defy them if it came down against him. He's not going to let them grab this authority. He would defy them and he would go --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, no one is above the law.
MR. BUCHANAN: He would go to the Supreme Court. And the president, with Justice Alito backing him up, would win it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And with Alito there, expanding the power of the president --
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)
MS. CLIFT: Right. Again, Alito is only one voice. John, if it gets that far, you're exactly right that the president would get his wrist slapped. And it may even begin --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes. And he's also --
MR. BLANKLEY: Let me make a cool little point here. None of us, and no one in the country that I know of, knows what the factual setting is that would give rise to such a litigation. And so you can't even guess what the FISA court would say until you know what factual circumstance is being challenged. And the facts in these cases remain largely secret. And so it's an impossible judgment to make at this point.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You are so green eyeshade, really.
MR. BLANKLEY: I'm a lawyer. I'm sorry. I follow the law when you ask me a legal question.
MR. O'DONNELL: I think it would be a close call in the FISA court. Remember, this is a court that is accustomed to authorizing exactly this kind of wiretapping, and doing so in secret. So we don't have any idea how they rule on anything. But if they did rule against the president's --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who's the chief justice of the court?
MR. O'DONNELL: He would probably win in the Supreme Court.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who's the chief justice of the court?
MR. O'DONNELL: On the FISA court?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Colleen Kotelly, a lady who was appointed by Clinton.
MR. O'DONNELL: It's a court that has never revealed its reasoning on anything publicly. You can't predict what they're going to do. MR. BUCHANAN: Well, they rejected about five wiretap requests of something.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I've already told you --
MS. CLIFT: Cheney was quoted in a private conversation this week saying, "There is no up side for us." And I think the vice president is correct.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Congress wants to get rid of it. They want to dump out of it the way Arlen Specter sees it. There's no margin for them. And if it goes -- I've already told you what I think is going to happen. I think he's going to lose, and I think he's going to have to live with it.
Issue Two: Bush Takes His Case to the People.
Sensing a contest of will with Congress over the domestic eavesdropping program, President Bush took his case directly to the people. He described a major terrorist plot against Los Angeles after September the 11th, thwarted by his administration.
PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape.) Since September the 11th, the United States and our coalition partners have disrupted a number of serious al Qaeda terrorist plots, including plots to attack targets inside the United States.
Let me give you an example. In the weeks after September the 11th, the mastermind of the September the 11th attacks had already set in motion a plan to have terrorist operatives hijack an airplane using shoe bombs to breach the cockpit door and fly the plane into the tallest building on the West Coast. We believe the intended target was Liberty Tower in Los Angeles, California. The West Coast plot had been thwarted.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Mr. Bush unveiled the plot as if its disclosure were news. Yet all of the key details had been previously published. Since the story appears to be a reshouffe (sp) item -- reheated food, as it were -- was Mr. Bush's speech a media stunt? Eleanor Clift.
MS. CLIFT: Well, he wants to frame the election this year as a test between which party will keep him safe. And so he didn't say that this was thwarted because of his eavesdropping program, but he brings it out in the midst of this controversy and leaves that implication, when, in fact, there are CIA officials quoted unnamed in the New York Times basically saying that that plot didn't get beyond daydreaming. Hillary Clinton had it right this week when she said this administration always plays the fear card. And Democrats have got to stand up to it. If they don't keep at him, it looks like they're not serious on national security.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. As Eleanor says, the president stopped short of claiming that the LA plot was thwarted by the National Security Agency, the NSA, which is doing all the eavesdropping. But the president's goal, many believe, was clearly to leave the public with the impression that the NSA eavesdropping had indeed stopped the attacks inside the U.S.
The New York Times reported extensively on NSA activity over a period of three-plus years. It was a long piece three weeks ago by four of their sharpest reporters. Quote: "The law enforcement and counterterrorism officials at the NSA said that the eavesdropping program had uncovered no active al Qaeda networks inside the United States planning attacks. There were no imminent plots inside the United States." The Times reported that this was true, despite thousands of eavesdropping referrals to the FBI from the NSA gained every month. Hundreds of FBI agents followed up with those leads.
Question: If domestic eavesdropping has done nothing to stop attacks, why are we domestically eavesdropping? I ask you.
MR. O'DONNELL: Well, to be fair to the president, the plot about the building in Los Angeles never made it to the United States. They say that arrests were made in Asia of four people involved in this. I, for one, of course, don't believe him, because we don't have the names of anybody arrested. We don't know where they are now. There's no facts to this. I am going to stay away from downtown LA.
But this guy has no credibility on these subjects. I believed -- I made the mistake of believing Colin Powell when he brought this evidence to the United Nations about what Iraq was doing. That was proven completely false. There's absolutely no substance to what this guy said about the possible attack on Los Angeles, and no one should believe him because he does not deserve any credibility on it.
MR. BUCHANAN: This demonstrates why you're going to lose this argument. That is extraordinarily potent stuff.
MR. O'DONNELL: No evidence at all.
MR. BUCHANAN: Hold it.
MR. O'DONNELL: No proof, nothing -- not a name. Where are these four people?
MR. BUCHANAN: You've got --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let Pat finish. MR. BUCHANAN: Let me finish.
MR. O'DONNELL: What prevents him from inventing the entire thing?
MR. BUCHANAN: Lawrence, we heard you. We heard you. We've got you and you've got John McLaughlin. You've got your little reporters from the New York Times running around. There's no evidence, this and that. This is nonsense. You've got the president of the United States standing up there talking about airplanes going into buildings and suggesting -- Eleanor is right; we're getting a lot of stuff from these national-security wiretaps. And who am I going to trust? Is Lawrence going to defend us or John McLaughlin? No. The president of the United States --
MR. O'DONNELL: Don't trust anyone. Don't trust the president.
MR. BUCHANAN: -- has done a great job defending this country since 9/11 from any terror attack.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, Pat, the point is that the CIA would have stopped if they had utilized Richard Clarke's recommendation before 9/11.
MR. BUCHANAN: We all know that, John.
MR. BLANKLEY: Can I get a word --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What exposed this plot -- and I disagree with him; we do know, you know, the person was renditioned to Egypt.
MR. O'DONNELL: Who?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We know who was involved. I have his name here.
MR. BLANKLEY: Can I get a half --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This has all been disclosed by the president. It was public knowledge.
MR. BUCHANAN: It's picayune compared to that picture.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: My point is, he doesn't need the eavesdropping. It was done by the CIA and it was through the cooperation of governments abroad.
MR. BUCHANAN: He will trump you with those pictures every time. Let Tony talk.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The point is not whether or not we apprehend them and discover them. The point is, who does it and whether you need eavesdropping. And apparently NSA has produced nothing in that regard. MR. BUCHANAN: And you're getting nowhere with this stuff.
MR. BLANKLEY: I have never heard a more ludicrous argument than to say that because the government has not yet released evidence of secret successes that therefore we should disband our capacity to protect ourselves. And let me tell you, every --
MR. O'DONNELL: We certainly shouldn't believe there have been any.
MR. BLANKLEY: Let me just finish the thought, just for a second.
This is my one little turn. Every politician and every journalist and every commentator who makes this point that we're not in any danger, we don't need our protections, will find themselves disproven by events at some point. And that will be the end of their careers.
MS. CLIFT: That's not the argument that --
MR. O'DONNELL: Listen, I think we're in danger, but we have no one to believe in this state of danger.
MS. CLIFT: Nobody is arguing that we should disband our surveillance. We are just asking that we should have a president who doesn't get up and say, "We had an accountability moment; it was called the election," and he gets to do whatever he wants. We have checks and balances. There is a court. You need another set of eyes on this.
MR. BLANKLEY: You've restated --
MS. CLIFT: We've had abuses in the past. We don't need more.
MR. BLANKLEY: You've restated your theories for the umpteenth time.
MS. CLIFT: Well, you've stated yours, too, Tony, and that's what it's about -- who states theirs more often and more aggressively.
MR. BUCHANAN: No, we disagree --
MS. CLIFT: And I'm going to win this one. (Laughs.)
MR. BLANKLEY: No, actually, Eleanor, the facts and the truth count for something.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know, we have -- and the Washington Post disclosed this -- we have the lieutenant general's name over in Indonesia who provided the rendition of another gentleman whose name we have, who went over in 2002 to Egypt and apparently he coughed up a couple of names, too. The general's name is Abdullah Hendropriyono. You can check it out. It's all in the newspapers.
MR. BLANKLEY: What does that have to do with anything? MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But this was done by the CIA. It was not done by NSA. NSA contributed nothing.
Exit question: Will President Bush's version of the foiled Los Angeles terrorist plot help the survival of his eavesdropping program, or will it kill it?
MR. BUCHANAN: The president of the United States is going to slaughter you guys on this issue, because you have just proved nothing, John. The NSA may be working wonderfully well. You haven't disproved that. And when he points to that big picture of a building and planes, he's got the country with him.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, there are at least 100,000 referrals to the FBI from the NSA, and they yielded nothing.
MS. CLIFT: This president has yelled "Fear" once too often, and I think the public is skeptical.
MR. BLANKLEY: You and the Washington Post and the New York Times are all relying exclusively for your information on renegade people who are leaking information. The honorable people at CIA and NSA who are not talking to the New York Times are not giving you information. So how in the world can you know what has been succeeded at when only the criminals are releasing the information?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Renegade, renegade.
MR. BLANKLEY: Releasing every bit of that information to the renegades is a crime.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: As though he doesn't suck up to every politician in town to get every piece of information he can get and publish it in his little rag, the Washington Times.
MR. O'DONNELL: I think he does a very honorable job of that. Pat said that the president has the country with him on this. He does not. He's a 51 percent president. He has about 51 percent of the country with him on this. Forty-nine percent of us don't believe what he says when he can't prove anything. He has zero credibility with half the country.
MR. BLANKLEY: Let me --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We've got to get out. I simply want to say, the longer this issue stays alive, the more it's -- time is not on the president's side, because the reporters are going to go out there. They're going to examine everything that was available on the public record long before or considerably before his speech on the public record.
MR. BLANKLEY: Let me just make one point. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Therefore, there was nothing new there. Therefore, it was a stunt.
Issue Three: Jack and George.
PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape.) I frankly don't even remember having my picture taken with the guy. I don't know him.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: President George Bush may not remember knowing Jack Abramoff, but Jack Abramoff remembers knowing President Bush. "He," Bush, "has one of the best memories of any politician I ever met. It was one of his trademarks, though of course he can't recall that he has a great memory. The guy saw me in almost a dozen settings and joked with me about a bunch of things, including details of my kids. Perhaps he has forgotten everything. Who knows?"
So wrote Abramoff, the disgraced Republican lobbyist, who bilked millions from Indian tribes. These e-mails and others were written to an editor of Washington Magazine. Abramoff raised $100,000 for the 2004 Bush presidential campaign. It earned him an invitation by Mr. Bush to visit Crawford. Abramoff turned the invitation down because of a religious observance. Quote: "It was that I would have had to travel on Saturday, Shabbat."
Question: Was it wise for Bush to publicly minimize his association with Jack Abramoff? I ask you, Anthony.
MR. BLANKLEY: No, it wasn't. But let me go back briefly to what you said in the previous moment. My little rag, the Washington Times, regularly wipes the floor with the Washington Post and other organizations that we outscoop, as we did again this last Friday regarding Putin and meeting with Hamas.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes, and I commended you on that before this broadcast.
MR. BLANKLEY: And so I'm very proud of our little rag, as you call it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Putin has said that he does not see or believe that Hamas is a terrorist organization. He had the whole story. No one else, as far as I know, did.
MR. BUCHANAN: All right. Abramoff --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's your comment on this?
MR. BUCHANAN: On Abramoff, yeah, I agree with Tony. The White House probably should have come clean and cold on exactly how many times the president met with him. I agree the president should not release the photographs, because they're desired not for reasons of information -- (laughter) -- or for getting the news. MS. CLIFT: Nice little segue, John, into the president's credibility, which is zero on this one just as it is on the other.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)
MS. CLIFT: And kudos to those little reporters at the New York Times, who dug up all those e-mails.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You got a quick thought? We've got to get out.
MR. O'DONNELL: I'm sure the photographs show Bush hugging Abramoff and talking about his children. You can't let those pictures get out.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)
MS. CLIFT: They'll get out.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is Bush being perfectly candid with the American people on this?
MR. O'DONNELL: He has no credibility on it.
MR. BUCHANAN: Oh, come on.
MR. O'DONNELL: I would say, look, the president meeting somebody 12 times doesn't mean he's his friend.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, is this going to penetrate the White House?
MR. O'DONNELL: It already has. What are you talking about? The president's out there trying to defend himself on it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Four: Take Me to Your Leader -- Ha Ha.
The 2006 midterm elections are nine months away. The party out of power, this year the Democrats, typically gains congressional seats in the midterm election of a sitting president's second term. The Democrats had hoped to capitalize on this historical trend. But the party is now moving into the midterm in a weaker state than it should be. The party has plenty of problems, foremost of which is that they are apparently leaderless. Here's the Democratic leader of the U.S. Senate, Harry Reid, when asked who leads the Democratic Party today.
Q Who's the leader of the Democratic Party today? SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV, Senate majority leader): Someone else will have to make that decision.
Q How about on domestic policy? Who's the leader?
SEN. REID: I think that's really an unfair question.
(End of videotape.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Why is Harry Reid afraid to claim the mantle of leadership of the Democratic Party, Lawrence O'Donnell?
MR. O'DONNELL: Look, there is no leader when the party is out of power in the White House and they're out of power in both bodies of Congress.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you believe that, Pat?
MR. O'DONNELL: It isn't possible for them to have someone who functions as a leader.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, here's the reason. The former --
MR. BLANKLEY: Newt was a leader --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute. What about Newt? Was he a leader, Pat?
MR. BUCHANAN: The titular leader of the Democratic Party is either Kerry or Clinton; you don't know which. But the real leader nationally is the nominee for president next time around, who's Hillary Clinton. I can understand perfectly why Reid wouldn't want to get into this battle.
MR. O'DONNELL: That's right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?
MR. BUCHANAN: Sure.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't think it looked like a weak --
MR. BLANKLEY: The reason --
MR. BUCHANAN: It might be Nancy Pelosi. But you don't get into that fight.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You've got to get in. You've got to say something.
MR. BUCHANAN: No, you don't. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Doesn't he look like he's totally enfeebled?
MR. BUCHANAN: He looked enfeebled, but he was right.
MR. BLANKLEY: He had a moment of clarity when he refused to claim leadership, because he's not been able to provide leadership even in the Senate Democratic Caucus. He's taken a number of positions where he's had to quickly back-pedal, when other elements in the caucus forced him to --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why didn't he say something like, "Look, we have many, many leaders in the party, and they are leaders in individual sectors of the syllabus of politics"?
MS. CLIFT: He could have handled it a lot better. But the problem is, the Democrats really don't know what they stand for as a party. They don't have unified positions. And I think that will --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, what are you doing about it? Are you encouraging the Democrats?
MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.)
MR. BUCHANAN: They don't have a leader. (Laughs.)
MS. CLIFT: They've got to turn the November election into a referendum on Republican governance.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: When are they going to get their act together, Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: Hopefully in time for the voters to notice.
MR. O'DONNELL: They win it by individual congressional districts. They don't need a leader to do that.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Forced prediction: Has the Islamic caricature rage run its course, or is there much further to go?
MR. BUCHANAN: This blockheaded, stupid thing by a European journalist is going to be seized upon and exploited by every radical, agitator and extremist all over the Middle East.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: They're not going to continue protesting over this, but there will be another topic. Just as Abu Ghraib has not been forgotten, this and other outrages, the perceived outrages, will fuel Islamic rage on and on.
MR. BLANKLEY: Next weekend there will be over 100,000 Muslims demonstrating at Trafalgar Square in London. It has not stopped. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's building.
MR. BLANKLEY: It's building.
MR. O'DONNELL: I refuse to comment on this because I don't think you can protect me if I say what I think.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?
MR. O'DONNELL: I fear for my life.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean, there's no one on this platform who would be willing to rush to your rescue?
MR. BUCHANAN: Denounce the cartoons for our survival, John. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think that it has begun to fade. Bye bye.