Share

THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP
HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN
PANEL: PATRICK BUCHANAN, MSNBC; ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK; TONY BLANKLEY, THE WASHINGTON TIMES; MORT ZUCKERMAN, U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT

TAPED: FRIDAY, MARCH 9, 2007
BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF MARCH 10-11, 2007

Copyright �2007 by Federal News Service, Inc., Suite 500, 1000 Vermont Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20005, USA. Federal News Service is a private firm not affiliated with the federal government. No portion of this transcript may be copied, sold or retransmitted without the written authority of Federal News Service, Inc. Copyright is not claimed as to any part of the original work prepared by a United States government officer or employee as a part of that person's official duties. For information on subscribing to the FNS Internet Service, please email to info@fednews.com or call (202)347-1400.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: South of the Border.

GEORGE W. BUSH: (From videotape.) Should I become the president, I will look south, not as an after-thought, but as a fundamental commitment to my presidency.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: When candidate Bush uttered those words, many Latin Americans believed a future Bush administration would give a greater priority to a backyard, so termed, that the U.S. had often taken for granted.

The new president was a former governor of Texas, a state with a big Mexico border. He spoke Spanish, and his first official foreign visit was at the ranch of Vicente Fox, who was then Mr. Bush's counterpart in Mexico. The two leaders called it the, quote-unquote, "cowboy summit."

Then came the attack of September 11, with its endless pressing concerns. We hardly noticed Argentina's financial collapse later that year, or the Chavez coup in Venezuela. Both of these crises made the U.S. and its government appear indifferent, while Latin America was reeling.

But it was the invasion of Iraq that has made Mr. Bush a deeply unpopular figure in the region. Sixty-four percent of Argentineans, a consensus, 57 percent of Brazilians, 51 percent of Chileans, see American influence as negative.

Three of Latin America's key leaders are leftists: Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, Bolivia's Evo Morales, and Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega. All three look upon the U.S. as despotic.

Then there's the People's Republic. The U.S. Southern Command in Miami has been concerned about the growing Chinese presence. In testimony, officers at the command have remarked that what has allowed China an opportunity to expand its military aid and diplomacy is U.S. policy.

China has provided weapon sales to Latin America, with hundreds of Chinese military visits to the region, and vice versa. The Chinese have expressed interest in two former Soviet bases in Cuba, with Chinese President Hu Jintao visiting one of them.

Chinese companies are investing in farmlands and energy installations in Brazil. Beijing has signed a free trade agreement with Chile, with investments in Chilean copper, also gas and oil fields in Ecuador, Bolivia and Argentina, plus a $5 billion oil deal with Hugo Chavez. China has pledged $100 billion to investments for several South American countries.

To repeat, it is U.S. policies that have created this opening for China in Latin America, particularly the war in Iraq, and our endless preoccupation with it, that has triggered Latin America's rancor towards the U.S. So report variously the Financial Times, The Washington Post, and South America expert from Argentina Sebastian Paz.

By the way, Mr. Chavez travels to Argentina next week to lead anti-Bush protests.

Question: Is China truly a threat to U.S. interests in Latin America? Or is the Pentagon simply back to its old fears that there's a red under every bed? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, China is penetrating Latin America enormously for one reason. They have gotten $1 trillion in trade surpluses from the United States of America while George Bush has been in office. That's where they're getting the money.

As for Latin America, John, Mexico is vital to us. But beyond that -- look, Latin America was pro-fascist in the '30s and '40s because they were anti-American. They were pro-communist in the '50s, pro-Castro in the 1960s. They're pro-Chinese today. There's an elite down there which is consistently anti-American. We ought not to worry about it.

The fact that George Bush is increasing foreign aid to these Latin American regimes when you've got the problems at Walter Reed is preposterous. The truth is some of those folks are never going to like it. We ought to be correct with them and direct with them. But the idea that we've got to pander to Latin America in this day and age is preposterous.

MR. BUCHANAN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: The continent is in our backyard. They should be our friends. This is economic competition. The Chinese are playing it fair and square. They're looking for oil for an economy that's growing at 10 percent a year. And the ideological rigidity of this president, of this administration, keeps us out of the tourism industry in Cuba and in fair economic competition everywhere else.

This president has an affinity for Mexico -- I'll give him that -- but he hasn't translated it into any policy. He hasn't been able to do a thing. And he's running around South America like Willie Loman, "Death of a Salesman," hawking ethanol; his ethanol up against Hugo Chavez's oil. It's no competition.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Biofuels in Brazil; they've done wonderfully with that science.

How are you impressed by Latin America vis-a-vis the United States?

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, Pat's impeccably correct in the history of anti-Americanism there. I disagree with Pat a little bit as to therefore we shouldn't pay much attention. We can't -- even though we've got other responsibilities, I agree with Eleanor that Latin America is geographically in our zone, or we're in their zone as they might like to see it. And we ought to spend more attention.

Now, this isn't the first president who's not paid enough attention to Latin America. But there's no doubt that if we'd been more attentive over the last five years, I think we could have -- Hugo Chavez is not an inherently popular person. Even now he has opposition there. We should have been shaping that more than we have.

As far as China is concerned there, China is a rapacious mercantilist and they are using their dollars very aggressively, and we should be concerned about it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mandarin Chinese is being taught throughout the cities of Latin America, particularly by Chinese teachers that have been brought over to that sector, notably Bogota. And even man on the street is learning Mandarin.

Do you think we're missing the boat in this country? And what about the economics of all this?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, the economics is what is critical. And if you look at a country like Cuba, China has transformed Cuba's economy by the sale to them of not just generating plants but all kinds of electrical utilities they've given to them on credit. And Cuba has saved enough money on the oil consumption because of the better efficiency of the Chinese generators and utilities that they've been able to pay it back.

China has been a very constructive, from the Latin American point of view, economic ally. So it's only natural that they're going to have a much greater role there. This is true not just in Latin America. It's true for China in Africa. It's true for China really all around the world. And they're going to become a major mercantilist power, and they have a lot of capital that they have accumulated, in part from us. And so it's to be expected. It's not going to change.

They're not -- I don't think it's a hostile move on China's part.

MR. BUCHANAN: John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Isn't China being still very correct towards the United States in this regard, namely recognizing that Latin America is in our backyard? Now, they became extremely irritated when George Bush has -- and he's already begun to do it -- put installations in Central Asia. They didn't want those installations there. But they are engaging in military trade in Latin America.

MR. BUCHANAN: What's wrong with that?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Absolutely. As I say, it's all -- for them it's basically commerce. They're not looking to expand -- they're not looking to expand their geopolitical influence in a military sense in Latin America, or indeed in Africa. What they want to do is to control the sources of raw material --

MR. BUCHANAN: But John --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- that they need for their economy, and they have export markets where their --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think Pat is misguided in his view that we should be not allocating them anything like that medical ship that is going to go around --

MR. BUCHANAN: No, that's --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- or that we should not give them --

MR. BUCHANAN: The direct foreign aid, John --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, I do not. I do not. I think we have to do things like that. And some of them are real and some of them are symbolic.

MR. BUCHANAN: But John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But some of those countries --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: And I think we have to play that role.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Some of those countries are not Third World. They're very much First World.

MR. BUCHANAN: No, Chile's --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That would include Chile, Brazil, Argentina perhaps.

MR. BUCHANAN: But John, Chile's got an economy --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: They've got a tremendous class of people, probably 70 or 75 percent of the people, who are basically -- we would describe them as poverty.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you saying that's their problem? That's their problem?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: It's not their problem. We cannot afford to have the likes of Hugo Chavez turning around and turning that whole continent to a left-wing --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, one final question for Mort. You know Chavez.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, I do.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You've visited with Chavez.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And you know the president of Colombia.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Have you -- what are the economics? Isn't there money to be made? Isn't that a market for the United States?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The problem that we have in that market, to be honest, is that the Chinese can sell fairly good quality electric utilities, for example, at much lower prices than we're in a position to do it. We have a high-cost, high-tech economy. They have a low- cost, low-tech economy. And they're able to be competitive in that. And that's going to be true more and more.

MR. BUCHANAN: Mort --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute, Pat. Pat, you may not like giveaways, but Hugo Chavez is changing his image worldwide by the amount of oil he gives away, including right here in our country. And I could have played you a bite today of one of Bobby Kennedy's kids.

MR. BUCHANAN: No, if the oil prices go down, Hugo Chavez is finished. He's a socialist -- they're taking over that economy.

The key point, John, is last year alone a $233 billion trade surplus went to China. They got $1 trillion in reserves. They are making themselves a world power, and we are responsible because we've got a trade policy that we do. Now, as for Mort, you're wrong, Mort. Electrical equipment and computers provide China with $100 billion in trade surplus with the United States.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, you haven't said one word about the military sales by China to Latin America.

MR. BUCHANAN: I've got no objection to military sales.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?

MR. BUCHANAN: Look, as long as -- well, look, they can sell them weapons. The Russians sell weapons to Venezuela. As long as they're not being used in some sense against the United States, they've got the same right we do.

MS. CLIFT: But we are a country built on defense contracts, and we could hardly get out there and say we're the only ones allowed to arm the world. If we want things to be different, we ought to take the first step to disarm the world.

MR. BLANKLEY: Now, wait a second. Let's not be that high-minded about things. The fact is that we should -- you know, if we're going to be selling arms, we should be getting as many sales down there as possible for a number of reasons -- one, for the profit; two, for the strings that are attached.

You know, you tend to have influence in the country's military policies when you've sold them the equipment, because you're selling them the spare parts. So I much prefer to see American companies doing the arms sales to the countries in our hemisphere than China, which may someday be hostile to us.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You sound almost as guileless as Patrick Buchanan in this regard.

MR. BLANKLEY: Guileless? I?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You seem guileless. Did you see that the Chinese took out their own rocket -- their own satellite in order to --

MR. BLANKLEY: What was guileless about my saying I'd rather we be selling them than the Chinese?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you're not concerned about the military aspect.

MR. BLANKLEY: I just said I was. I thought that's what I just said it was.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you say that?

MS. CLIFT: With everything going on with Iraq and the problems we have in this country, why suddenly is China such a huge issue --

MR. BLANKLEY: Suddenly?

MS. CLIFT: -- where -- well, suddenly on this show.

MR. BLANKLEY: The awakening of China has been 50 years in the coming.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but it's hardly news today.

MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah, but John, China is growing at a rate of 10 percent a year. In the last 10 years they've grown at 140 percent. But we've got to realize, we are responsible for this.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.

MR. BUCHANAN: We are. You go down to Wal-Mart --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We created the vacuum.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- it is the trade deal, bringing them into the WTO and all the rest of it that is pouring scores of billions of dollars into China.

MS. CLIFT: They're beating us at our own capitalist game.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: What is more, they have been a major part in keeping inflation low in this country. The consumers of our country have benefited enormously from the high quality, relatively low cost of Chinese goods.

MR. BUCHANAN: And the nation -- but I'll tell you, the nations in relative strength, it's going the wrong way.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: We cannot --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: We cannot solve the problem by trade barriers.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Other foreign news: Iraq. Lieutenant General David Petraeus has taken command of the Multinational Force in Iraq. In two meetings with the press this week, he first said this.

GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS (Commander, Multinational Force Iraq): (From videotape.) I think, again, that any student of history recognizes that there is no military solution to a problem like that in Iraq, to the insurgency of Iraq.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Later General Petraeus said that the situation in Baghdad has deteriorated over the past year-and-a-half.

GEN. PETRAEUS: (From videotape.) When I left 17 months ago now, there certainly was not the kind of emptiness in some of the neighborhoods of Baghdad.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The general went on to list other deteriorations in Iraq.

Tony, exit question: Halfway through his first year in office, in early summer 2001, Mr. Bush announced his plans for reaching across the hemisphere, a big free trade zone hemisphere-wide. Will he be able to revive that vision on this trip? Pat Buchanan. And you can also answer as we go around.

MR. BLANKLEY: But you asked me.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'll begin with you, Tony. Go ahead.

MR. BLANKLEY: Absolutely not. He can't revive the plan he wanted.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does that speak volumes for what has happened to our relationship with Latin America?

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, it does. But let me just very briefly go back to your quote about General Petraeus, because you didn't have the whole clip. The whole clip was, "We know the military can't solve it, but first we have to use the military to suppress the violence to allow the political process." And then he said, "We're going to need to have the surge forces there perhaps well into next year."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I thought he said pari passu -- while one goes on, the other goes on too.

Do you care to comment on either of those two points?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think Petraeus is absolutely right in his assessment of what's going on. I think Tony is absolutely right. Petraeus said it as well. You cannot have a political process under conditions where there is a breakdown of security. That's exactly the point. That's why we sent him there.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort, we are feeding the insurgency, don't you understand, with our troops?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I don't understand. Yes, to some extent we are.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that if we were to pull back to the perimeters that the Arabs would not get in there and prevent or limit the instability through various ways?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Without question, I don't think that will be the case.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why? Why?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Because they don't want to get involved in a religious conflict.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why don't the Arabs fight their own war?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, exactly. They don't want to get involved in a religious conflict.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why doesn't anybody talk about that?

MS. CLIFT: General Petraeus is the best thing --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: We cannot get them to even train the forces in that part of the world, never mind put them --

MS. CLIFT: General Petraeus --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute. We've got a lot moving here.

MS. CLIFT: General Petraeus --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor. Wait a minute, Pat.

MS. CLIFT: General Petraeus is the best thing this administration has going for it because he has credibility. But that credibility is not going to last indefinitely. He can't come back every few months and say, "We need more soldiers; we need more time."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's already saying it.

MS. CLIFT: Right. And there's a showdown coming with the Congress. And if --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, your friends up in Congress are making such a mish-mash of this. What a disappointment they are.

MS. CLIFT: Oh, I don't know about that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, there's -- what are they doing? They've lost the Iraq debate. The Iraq debate is evaporating.

MS. CLIFT: The Iraq debate is just beginning. It's going to take a long while. But as they --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They've been outmaneuvered. They've been outmaneuvered, Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: No, they haven't.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, our friend Tony -- Tony's been right. I think we're going to have a major -- looking at it now, a major American presence will remain there at the time of the next election. But we will get -- you know when you're going to get stability? The Americans will pull out and the roughest, toughest, meanest guys with the most guns and the most guts will impose stability on Iraq. That's how it's going to happen, not some nice democratic solution.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Two: Libby guilty, four counts.

Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff, Scooter Libby, was found guilty this week by a jury of his peers -- two counts of perjury, one count of lying to the FBI, and one count of obstruction of justice.

Is that all there is? Are you going to file any further charges, Patrick Fitzgerald?

PATRICK FITZGERALD (special prosecutor): (From videotape.) I do not expect to file any further charges. Basically the investigation was inactive prior to the trial. I would not expect to see any further charges filed. We're all going back to our day jobs.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on, Mr. Prosecutor. What happens if new information comes to light?

MR. FITZGERALD: (From videotape.) If information comes to light or new information comes to us that would warrant us taking some action, we'll, of course, do that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Recantations by the accused facing jail time have occurred in the past, notably in the Iran-contra probe. Those lawbreakers have often implicated higher-ups also.

Is Fitzgerald entertaining the hope that Libby will recant and implicate? Tony Blankley.

MR. BLANKLEY: No, I don't think so. First of all, in this case, if, in fact, he was perjuring himself, it would have been on behalf of the administration or the vice president. If that's the case, he would have done that knowing that he had a higher purpose than telling the truth.

By the way, I condemn everybody who thinks that a conviction for perjury is not a serious crime. There was plenty of evidence to support it in this case. And he shouldn't have perjured himself and he ought to pay the price.

But my point is that he's not -- having done this on behalf, presumably, of a higher purpose, he's not then going to turn around and squeal on the people for whom he perjured himself in the first place.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, the Libby impact on '08. Republicans have been rocked by a series of legal and ethical sanctions -- Jack Abramoff, Mark Foley, Tom DeLay, Duke Cunningham, Bob Ney, and the recent firings of U.S. attorneys.

Question: Do Libby's four convictions reinforce the image that this White House and Republicans like Blankley are playing fast and loose --

MR. BLANKLEY: Wait a second. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- with the rules, as he does here? What impact will that have on '08? I ask you, Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, I mean, it certainly reinforces a long record of corruption or lawbreaking in the Bush administration, which isn't going to help them at all. And it may have an impact in '08. I think that is not where the real impact is going to be. The real impact is going to be as a result of what's happening in Iraq.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you see --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's going to be the key to what's going to happen in '08.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you see in '06 the impact of anything like corruption on --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Oh, sure, absolutely. It was one of the main issues. You look at all the polls; it was one of the main issues that the American public held against the Republicans, without question.

MS. CLIFT: It sheds a particular light on how the office of the vice president operated. This was the most influential vice president ever in terms of his agenda and the way that he has pushed it. And normally a sitting vice president would be running for re-election. Instead he is baggage for every Republican out there who is running.

MR. BUCHANAN: Wait a second. John --

MR. BLANKLEY: Cheney announced before he even ran the first time he wasn't running for president.

MS. CLIFT: Still baggage --

MR. BLANKLEY: No, you made the point that if it wasn't for the things that have happened --

MS. CLIFT: No, no, no.

MR. BLANKLEY: -- he would be running --

MS. CLIFT: No, I -- (cross talk) -- Tony. I wasn't saying that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Okay, look, the Republican reputation for integrity --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's that? Repeat.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- the Republican reputation for integrity and high ethics, which has always been higher than the Democrats, has been badly tarnished. But John, do you really think Scooter Libby's going to turn around and rat out a White House upon whom he's dependent for a pardon?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you really have any appreciation of what it's like to be facing a jail sentence?

MR. BUCHANAN: Look, you know, the way you get out of jail is the White House; you don't rat out the guys that can pardon you. That would be insane.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you have a good point there.

MR. BUCHANAN: Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Maybe the deal has been cut. Maybe it was wired.

MR. BUCHANAN: Why do you think Scooter Libby's lawyer did not try to prove the conspiracy to make Libby the fall guy?

MS. CLIFT: A pardon --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you remember Jerry Ford pardoning Nixon? Was that wired?

MS. CLIFT: Yes.

MR. BUCHANAN: Listen, I remember --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was it wired --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- before Nixon resigned?

MR. BUCHANAN: Let me put it this way --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, was Fitzgerald's prosecution of Libby justified? Listen to the prosecutor's rationale.

MR. FITZGERALD: (From videotape.) Any lie under oath is serious. Any prosecutor will tell you, from my days in New York and my current days in Chicago, that we cannot tolerate perjury. The truth is what drives our judicial system. If people don't come forward and tell the truth, we have no hope of making the judicial system work.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: How persuasive is that argument? Mort Zuckerman.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I don't think it's persuasive, because if you speak to anybody in the Justice Department, they will tell you that if they, in effect, went after in the courts everybody who ever lied to them, you'd be filling the whole system with people who do lie.

MR. BUCHANAN: You know -- come on, this is a major lawyer and White House official.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I'm not saying --

MR. BUCHANAN: You can't lie to the -- go to a grand jury and lie to them. I agree with Tony. This is a deadly serious --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I'm not disagreeing with that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Suppose you were a Red Cap porter --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I'm not disagreeing with that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- handling baggage.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, I think --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that porter can lie?

MR. BUCHANAN: John, I've been to grand juries. My guess is you have too. You go in there; you swear to tell the truth. And here's a lawyer, Libby. He went in there. He took an oath and he did not tell the truth. That is serious.

MS. CLIFT: He deliberately --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is all within the context of Valerie Plame. So the --

MR. BUCHANAN: I don't care what it is.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- the other angle of this, of course, is the CIA has been buffed up thanks to this ruling. True or false?

MR. BUCHANAN: That does not justify lying.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, journalists --

MS. CLIFT: Lewis Libby is not some innocent. He was Marc Rich's lawyer, for goodness sakes. He'll know how to wire a pardon. (Laughs.

)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question --

MR. BLANKLEY: Let me make a last point; this is important. The investigation that led to questioning him wasn't justified because the investigator already knew that it was Armitage who had done it. But once Libby was under oath, he had to tell the truth. He didn't, and he's paying the price.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I agree.

MS. CLIFT: He was guilty of the underlying crime in Washington. The cover-up is always worse than the crime.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Okay, why can't Bush pardon Libby now?

MR. BUCHANAN: First, it would be outrageous for him to interfere with the process. Second, it would be politically foolish.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Would it be suicide --

MR. BUCHANAN: It wouldn't be --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- for Republicans in '08?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, I think it'd be very damaging to the president right now and it would be inexplicable.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?

MS. CLIFT: A pardon would carry the implication of a cover-up, and the president would be part of the cover-up.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think he will be able to defer his going to jail until after the next -- the election in November of 1908 (sic), and there will be plenty of time afterwards to pardon him. And I think he probably will be pardoned. I'll be amazed if he isn't.

MS. CLIFT: Actually, it's 2008 now. (Laughs.)

MR. BLANKLEY: Look, I think the president's at 30 percent approval. He can't hurt himself any more. If he wants to pardon him, he can. But it's a reasonably serious crime, and I don't think he should let him off with no sentence. At some point he can commute the sentence. But I believe that it would be disrespectful of the system to give him a pardon before he's served a day.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You are all correct.

Issue Three: Spring into spring.

Spring forward, and it's happening earlier this year -- three weeks earlier. This weekend, Daylight Saving Time begins. The earlier switch-over is meant to save more energy and more money. But does it yield more costs than benefits?

PHIL BOND (information technology specialist): (From videotape.) Anything that's tied to a calendar, a clock or a schedule and that is automated could be fouled up.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Only those computers that are fewer than two years old will be able to handle the switch automatically. Anything older must be changed manually. Experts estimate that the switch-over will cost the average publicly traded company $50,000. There are 7,000 such companies in the U.S. today.

Another concern: Europe won't change over to Daylight Saving Time until March 25, two weeks from now. Canadians also have expressed outrage, particularly at the U.S. unilateral action and late notice.

Question: Is this early shift to Daylight Saving Time a payoff to lobbyists? I ask you, Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, I don't think it's a payoff to lobbyists, although I'm sure lobbyists have been involved in it. But it is a way to try and save energy. If we were like Europe and we were charging $5 and $6 a gallon so that we didn't consume as much energy the way they do and had nuclear power, we might not have done this. But we don't. And we --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Cui bono. Who gets the benefit from it economically?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The country gets the benefit in terms of the lesser consumption of energy --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Never mind the country, Mort.

MR. BUCHANAN: No, John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who are the --

MR. BUCHANAN: John, the Chamber of Commerce is behind this because you get an extra hour of daylight. People will drive out to the malls and purchase things. There will be more fuel consumed.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't get it. Somebody has got to be gaining from this economically. I want to know who it is.

MR. BUCHANAN: The retailers. The retailers.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The retailers?

MR. BUCHANAN: Yes. There will be another hour of daylight. People drive out to the mall after work.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So retailers -- you're talking corporations.

MR. BUCHANAN: Yes, companies.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, we've got corporate legislative people all over this town.

MR. BUCHANAN: Sure.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So they're up there talking to Congress?

MS. CLIFT: You know, it's light in the morning. Why not have Daylight Saving Time? I simply cannot get worked up over this. It reminds me of the people who got all worked up over fluoride in the water. Sometimes things are good and you take them on their face.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Everybody is really angelic. Wouldn't you say?

MS. CLIFT: (Laughter.) Yeah, especially Democrats.

MR. BLANKLEY: I finally agree with Eleanor. I don't care. It's fine. (Laughter.)

MR. BUCHANAN: It's fine with me, too, John. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So we all like being green.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, we do. We all like being green. We all like saving the energy that is involved. We should have done it for two months, not just for one month. We just changed -- it was originally going to be --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort, somebody's making a buck here.

MR. BUCHANON: There'll be more driving, Mort.

MR. ZURCKERMAN: Oh, please, that is not the case. The amount --

MS. CLIFT: Well --

(Cross talk.)

MS. CLIFT: -- somebody would have made a buck if it stayed the way it was.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- of energy that you will save, that --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Out of time. Bye-bye.

END.rica?

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, it does. But let me just very briefly go back to your quote about General Petraeus, because you didn't have the whole clip. The whole clip was, "We know the military can't solve it, but first we have to use the military to suppress the violence to allow the political process." And then he said, "We're going to need to have the surge forces there perhaps well into next year."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I thought he said pari passu -- while one goes on, the other goes on too.

Do you care to comment on either of those two points?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think Petraeus is absolutely right in his assessment of what's going on. I think Tony is absolutely right. Petraeus said it as well. You cannot have a political process under conditions where there is a breakdown of security. That's exactly the point. That's why we sent him there.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort, we are feeding the insurgency, don't you understand, with our troops?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I don't understand. Yes, to some extent we are.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that if we were to pull back to the perimeters that the Arabs would not get in there and prevent or limit the instability through various ways?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Without question, I don't think that will be the case.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why? Why?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Because they don't want to get involved in a religious conflict.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why don't the Arabs fight their own war?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, exactly. They don't want to get involved in a religious conflict.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why doesn't anybody talk about that?

MS. CLIFT: General Petraeus is the best thing --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: We cannot get them to even train the forces in that part of the world, never mind put them --

MS. CLIFT: General Petraeus --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute. We've got a lot moving here.

MS. CLIFT: General Petraeus --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor. Wait a minute, Pat.

MS. CLIFT: General Petraeus is the best thing this administration has going for it because he has credibility. But that credibility is not going to last indefinitely. He can't come back every few months and say, "We need more soldiers; we need more time."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's already saying it.

MS. CLIFT: Right. And there's a showdown coming with the Congress. And if --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, your friends up in Congress are making such a mish-mash of this. What a disappointment they are.

MS. CLIFT: Oh, I don't know about that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, there's -- what are they doing? They've lost the Iraq debate. The Iraq debate is evaporating.

MS. CLIFT: The Iraq debate is just beginning. It's going to take a long while. But as they --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They've been outmaneuvered. They've been outmaneuvered, Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: No, they haven't.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, our friend Tony -- Tony's been right. I think we're going to have a major -- looking at it now, a major American presence will remain there at the time of the next election. But we will get -- you know when you're going to get stability? The Americans will pull out and the roughest, toughest, meanest guys with the most guns and the most guts will impose stability on Iraq. That's how it's going to happen, not some nice democratic solution.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Two: Libby guilty, four counts.

Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff, Scooter Libby, was found guilty this week by a jury of his peers -- two counts of perjury, one count of lying to the FBI, and one count of obstruction of justice.

Is that all there is? Are you going to file any further charges, Patrick Fitzgerald?

PATRICK FITZGERALD (special prosecutor): (From videotape.) I do not expect to file any further charges. Basically the investigation was inactive prior to the trial. I would not expect to see any further charges filed. We're all going back to our day jobs.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on, Mr. Prosecutor. What happens if new information comes to light?

MR. FITZGERALD: (From videotape.) If information comes to light or new information comes to us that would warrant us taking some action, we'll, of course, do that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Recantations by the accused facing jail time have occurred in the past, notably in the Iran-contra probe. Those lawbreakers have often implicated higher-ups also.

Is Fitzgerald entertaining the hope that Libby will recant and implicate? Tony Blankley.

MR. BLANKLEY: No, I don't think so. First of all, in this case, if, in fact, he was perjuring himself, it would have been on behalf of the administration or the vice president. If that's the case, he would have done that knowing that he had a higher purpose than telling the truth.

By the way, I condemn everybody who thinks that a conviction for perjury is not a serious crime. There was plenty of evidence to support it in this case. And he shouldn't have perjured himself and he ought to pay the price.

But my point is that he's not -- having done this on behalf, presumably, of a higher purpose, he's not then going to turn around and squeal on the people for whom he perjured himself in the first place.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, the Libby impact on '08. Republicans have been rocked by a series of legal and ethical sanctions -- Jack Abramoff, Mark Foley, Tom DeLay, Duke Cunningham, Bob Ney, and the recent firings of U.S. attorneys.

Question: Do Libby's four convictions reinforce the image that this White House and Republicans like Blankley are playing fast and loose --

MR. BLANKLEY: Wait a second. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- with the rules, as he does here? What impact will that have on '08? I ask you, Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, I mean, it certainly reinforces a long record of corruption or lawbreaking in the Bush administration, which isn't going to help them at all. And it may have an impact in '08. I think that is not where the real impact is going to be. The real impact is going to be as a result of what's happening in Iraq.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you see --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's going to be the key to what's going to happen in '08.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you see in '06 the impact of anything like corruption on --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Oh, sure, absolutely. It was one of the main issues. You look at all the polls; it was one of the main issues that the American public held against the Republicans, without question.

MS. CLIFT: It sheds a particular light on how the office of the vice president operated. This was the most influential vice president ever in terms of his agenda and the way that he has pushed it. And normally a sitting vice president would be running for re-election. Instead he is baggage for every Republican out there who is running.

MR. BUCHANAN: Wait a second. John --

MR. BLANKLEY: Cheney announced before he even ran the first time he wasn't running for president.

MS. CLIFT: Still baggage --

MR. BLANKLEY: No, you made the point that if it wasn't for the things that have happened --

MS. CLIFT: No, no, no.

MR. BLANKLEY: -- he would be running --

MS. CLIFT: No, I -- (cross talk) -- Tony. I wasn't saying that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Okay, look, the Republican reputation for integrity --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's that? Repeat.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- the Republican reputation for integrity and high ethics, which has always been higher than the Democrats, has been badly tarnished. But John, do you really think Scooter Libby's going to turn around and rat out a White House upon whom he's dependent for a pardon?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you really have any appreciation of what it's like to be facing a jail sentence?

MR. BUCHANAN: Look, you know, the way you get out of jail is the White House; you don't rat out the guys that can pardon you. That would be insane.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you have a good point there.

MR. BUCHANAN: Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Maybe the deal has been cut. Maybe it was wired.

MR. BUCHANAN: Why do you think Scooter Libby's lawyer did not try to prove the conspiracy to make Libby the fall guy?

MS. CLIFT: A pardon --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you remember Jerry Ford pardoning Nixon? Was that wired?

MS. CLIFT: Yes.

MR. BUCHANAN: Listen, I remember --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was it wired --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- before Nixon resigned?

MR. BUCHANAN: Let me put it this way --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, was Fitzgerald's prosecution of Libby justified? Listen to the prosecutor's rationale.

MR. FITZGERALD: (From videotape.) Any lie under oath is serious. Any prosecutor will tell you, from my days in New York and my current days in Chicago, that we cannot tolerate perjury. The truth is what drives our judicial system. If people don't come forward and tell the truth, we have no hope of making the judicial system work.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: How persuasive is that argument? Mort Zuckerman.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I don't think it's persuasive, because if you speak to anybody in the Justice Department, they will tell you that if they, in effect, went after in the courts everybody who ever lied to them, you'd be filling the whole system with people who do lie.

MR. BUCHANAN: You know -- come on, this is a major lawyer and White House official.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I'm not saying --

MR. BUCHANAN: You can't lie to the -- go to a grand jury and lie to them. I agree with Tony. This is a deadly serious --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I'm not disagreeing with that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Suppose you were a Red Cap porter --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I'm not disagreeing with that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- handling baggage.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, I think --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that porter can lie?

MR. BUCHANAN: John, I've been to grand juries. My guess is you have too. You go in there; you swear to tell the truth. And here's a lawyer, Libby. He went in there. He took an oath and he did not tell the truth. That is serious.

MS. CLIFT: He deliberately --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is all within the context of Valerie Plame. So the --

MR. BUCHANAN: I don't care what it is.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- the other angle of this, of course, is the CIA has been buffed up thanks to this ruling. True or false?

MR. BUCHANAN: That does not justify lying.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, journalists --

MS. CLIFT: Lewis Libby is not some innocent. He was Marc Rich's lawyer, for goodness sakes. He'll know how to wire a pardon. (Laughs.

)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question --

MR. BLANKLEY: Let me make a last point; this is important. The investigation that led to questioning him wasn't justified because the investigator already knew that it was Armitage who had done it. But once Libby was under oath, he had to tell the truth. He didn't, and he's paying the price.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I agree.

MS. CLIFT: He was guilty of the underlying crime in Washington. The cover-up is always worse than the crime.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Okay, why can't Bush pardon Libby now?

MR. BUCHANAN: First, it would be outrageous for him to interfere with the process. Second, it would be politically foolish.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Would it be suicide --

MR. BUCHANAN: It wouldn't be --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- for Republicans in '08?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, I think it'd be very damaging to the president right now and it would be inexplicable.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?

MS. CLIFT: A pardon would carry the implication of a cover-up, and the president would be part of the cover-up.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think he will be able to defer his going to jail until after the next -- the election in November of 1908 (sic), and there will be plenty of time afterwards to pardon him. And I think he probably will be pardoned. I'll be amazed if he isn't.

MS. CLIFT: Actually, it's 2008 now. (Laughs.)

MR. BLANKLEY: Look, I think the president's at 30 percent approval. He can't hurt himself any more. If he wants to pardon him, he can. But it's a reasonably serious crime, and I don't think he should let him off with no sentence. At some point he can commute the sentence. But I believe that it would be disrespectful of the system to give him a pardon before he's served a day.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You are all correct.

Issue Three: Spring into spring.

Spring forward, and it's happening earlier this year -- three weeks earlier. This weekend, Daylight Saving Time begins. The earlier switch-over is meant to save more energy and more money. But does it yield more costs than benefits?

PHIL BOND (information technology specialist): (From videotape.) Anything that's tied to a calendar, a clock or a schedule and that is automated could be fouled up.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Only those computers that are fewer than two years old will be able to handle the switch automatically. Anything older must be changed manually. Experts estimate that the switch-over will cost the average publicly traded company $50,000. There are 7,000 such companies in the U.S. today.

Another concern: Europe won't change over to Daylight Saving Time until March 25, two weeks from now. Canadians also have expressed outrage, particularly at the U.S. unilateral action and late notice.

Question: Is this early shift to Daylight Saving Time a payoff to lobbyists? I ask you, Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, I don't think it's a payoff to lobbyists, although I'm sure lobbyists have been involved in it. But it is a way to try and save energy. If we were like Europe and we were charging $5 and $6 a gallon so that we didn't consume as much energy the way they do and had nuclear power, we might not have done this. But we don't. And we --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Cui bono. Who gets the benefit from it economically?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The country gets the benefit in terms of the lesser consumption of energy --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Never mind the country, Mort.

MR. BUCHANAN: No, John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who are the --

MR. BUCHANAN: John, the Chamber of Commerce is behind this because you get an extra hour of daylight. People will drive out to the malls and purchase things. There will be more fuel consumed.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't get it. Somebody has got to be gaining from this economically. I want to know who it is.

MR. BUCHANAN: The retailers. The retailers.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The retailers?

MR. BUCHANAN: Yes. There will be another hour of daylight. People drive out to the mall after work.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So retailers -- you're talking corporations.

MR. BUCHANAN: Yes, companies.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, we've got corporate legislative people all over this town.

MR. BUCHANAN: Sure.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So they're up there talking to Congress?

MS. CLIFT: You know, it's light in the morning. Why not have Daylight Saving Time? I simply cannot get worked up over this. It reminds me of the people who got all worked up over fluoride in the water. Sometimes things are good and you take them on their face.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Everybody is really angelic. Wouldn't you say?

MS. CLIFT: (Laughter.) Yeah, especially Democrats.

MR. BLANKLEY: I finally agree with Eleanor. I don't care. It's fine. (Laughter.)

MR. BUCHANAN: It's fine with me, too, John. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So we all like being green.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, we do. We all like being green. We all like saving the energy that is involved. We should have done it for two months, not just for one month. We just changed -- it was originally going to be --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort, somebody's making a buck here.

MR. BUCHANON: There'll be more driving, Mort.

MR. ZURCKERMAN: Oh, please, that is not the case. The amount --

MS. CLIFT: Well --

(Cross talk.)

MS. CLIFT: -- somebody would have made a buck if it stayed the way it was.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- of energy that you will save, that --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Out of time. Bye-bye.

END.