THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN PANEL: PATRICK BUCHANAN, MSNBC; ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK; TONY BLANKLEY, THE WASHINGTON TIMES; MARTIN WALKER, UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL TAPED: FRIDAY, AUGUST 17, 2007 BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF AUGUST 18-19, 2007
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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Did He Jump, Or Was He Pushed?
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: (From videotape.) And so I thank my friend. I'll be on the road behind you here in a little bit.
KARL ROVE (Former senior adviser to the president): (From videotape.) Thank you again for this extraordinary opportunity.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Misty eyes and hugs on the White House lawn this week; Karl Rove's resignation. The powerful senior adviser, some say mastermind, served President Bush throughout the six-and-a-half years thus far of his presidency. Rove is also a long-time loyal Texas friend and counselor of the president for over three decades. Mr. Bush's list of nicknames for Rove has multiplied over time. The Architect, the Boy Genius, the Turd Blossom, are three we know of.
Mr. Rove leaves the White House in two weeks, but he may not be leaving Washington, depending on whether he consents to the summons of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees' chairmen, Patrick Leahy and John Conyers. Both have stated that Congress will not give up its fight to put Rove under oath to get his testimony on the president's firings of eight U.S. attorneys.
Question: Did he jump or was he pushed, Pat Buchanan?
MR. BUCHANAN: He left of his own volition, John. Karl Rove has got a significant legacy as an individual. He has got two Super Bowl rings, two presidential victories, two victories in Texas, 2002 election.
But I will say this. He leaves with a somewhat mixed legacy in the sense that he was to be the architect of a new governing Republican coalition, and what he did was break up the old one. By this reach out to the left with the amnesty, he lost the Reagan Democrats for the Republican Party. And I think he's left the party, and the president has, worse than they found it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, he delivered the Congress to the Democrats; no realignment.
MR. BUCHANAN: I believe the war was responsible for that, and I don't think Rove is responsible for the war. And it was the second election of a president in office --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, we know he's not a Svengali if he couldn't preserve the Congress.
MS. CLIFT: Well, Rove is responsible for the politicizing of the war, which is one of his many major mistakes. Look, he got out just ahead of the edict that anybody who isn't willing to stay for the duration of the Bush term had to get out by Labor Day. That was the chief of staff, Josh Bolten's, decree. And I think he's also trying to get out from target range of the U.S. Congress. I don't think he's going to testify on Capitol Hill. I think the president is going to order him not to, just as he ordered Harriet Miers not to testify.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did that play a role in his leaving, the testimony he may have to give on the Hill?
MS. CLIFT: I think he mostly just wants to make money, and he doesn't see a particular role for him in this White House going forward. And he's not wanted, visibly, at least, in any of the campaigns. Nobody's running as a Bush Republican. So I think he goes out on the lecture circuit and makes some money.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So you see this as entirely voluntary.
MS. CLIFT: Mostly voluntary, yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was it a collective decision?
MS. CLIFT: Collective by whom?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, say, Gillespie, who's taking his place.
MS. CLIFT: Well, I mean, I take Rove at face value.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: By Cheney.
MS. CLIFT: He said he talked to the president about it last summer and thought it didn't look right if he left right after losing the Congress for the president. And so he's waited a decent interval.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, let's see what the president has -- what he's faced with. What he's faced with is handling the surge and the money for the surge in Iraq. He's depending on the Republicans in the Congress. The Republicans in Congress have grown tired -- this is the proposition -- grown tired of the person --
MR. BLANKLEY: Rove?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- Karl Rove. And they like Gillespie, and Gillespie has a lot of stroke on Capitol Hill. The president wants Gillespie in there to handle the Republicans better on Capitol Hill. What about that?
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, look, you're absolutely right that Eddie, who's a good friend of mine, is very well liked on Capitol Hill and is a remarkably able man. But I'm sure that Eddie would agree that there's no replacing Rove as a trusted adviser to the president. They go back -- Bush and Rove go back, what, 30 years. And speaking as somebody who was once a trusted adviser, you never know why they leave --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But the question is --
MR. BLANKLEY: You never know why they leave at the time. I do believe it was Rove's decision, and I think --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Has he worn out his --
MR. BLANKLEY: Not with the president.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Has he worn out his welcome on Capitol Hill? MR. BLANKLEY: Look -- no, no --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: With the Republicans up there.
MR. BLANKLEY: Yes. Yes, he has. But that's not the problem --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, this is what Bush needs.
MR. BLANKLEY: He's got Eddie Gillespie. He's got Dan Meyer. He's got some excellent people who can work the Hill. He doesn't have to have Rove leave to have his other able men work the Hill. Rove left --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The able men. If they can impress the Hill that they are at the elbow of the president, his pipeline, they have more stroke on the Hill.
What do you think?
MR. WALKER: I think you've got a point.
I think that there were no good reasons for Rove to stay and there were lots of good reasons for Rove to go, particularly since one of the biggest single failures of the Bush-Rove joint presidency has been their failure to hold the Republicans with them in this second term on Capitol Hill.
I mean, the thing about Rove was that he understood brilliantly in the 2002, the 2004 election, the way in which 9/11 had changed things dramatically on the political landscape for the media and for the public. What he got wrong was that he thought it also could have changed things on Capitol Hill, and it didn't. Congress has continued in its own partisan and often very selfish ways, and I think he's long since -- we've heard this from Dick Armey, who tells that story about being disrespected by Rove in the Oval Office --
MR. BLANKLEY: But you cannot --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let him finish.
MR. WALKER: He's worn out his welcome. He's passed his sell-by date. He's no more use.
MR. BLANKLEY: No, no. Look, let's be realistic. I agree with you that he's not popular on the Hill, but you can't overestimate the value of the most trusted man, going into the eighth year of the presidency, to lose his top guy, to be able to talk things over, who knows every nuance of how his mind works.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're saying that he's essential to the White House?
MR. BLANKLEY: I think he's extremely valuable to the president as a trusted adviser.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In history, give me an example of where there was that type of proximity historically among the presidents.
MR. BUCHANAN: Jim Farley with FDR certainly was a major figure in there. Farley stayed with him two terms, but Farley broke with him in the second term. But he was --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, what about Mark Hanna? MR. BUCHANAN: Well, Mark Hanna was a dynamic force who put --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who did he serve?
MR. BUCHANAN: McKinley. He put him in the White House.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There you go.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, he did it with money. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, they were really close.
MR. BUCHANAN: They were very close.
MR. WALKER: Harry Hopkins.
MS. CLIFT: There are figures -- Harry Hopkins with FDR. It's a personal loss for the president because he has lost a confidant. But I don't think anybody can argue that Karl Rove was doing the Republicans any good with -- his policies had worn out. Character assassination and divisiveness --
MR. BLANKLEY: Oh, look --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay --
MS. CLIFT: -- are not the order of the day going forward.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Rove shafts Hillary.
(Begin audiotaped segment.)
MR. ROVE: But I think she's likely to be the nominee, and I think she's fatally flawed.
RUSH LIMBAUGH (Conservation talk show host): What are her fatal flaws?
MR. ROVE: She's going into the general election with, depending on what poll you look at, in the high 40s on the negative side and just below that on the positive side. And there's nobody who's ever won the presidency who started out in that kind of position.
(End of audiotaped segment.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hillary spokesman Phil Singer fired back at Rove. Quote: "Mr. Rove's famed political radar is off. Senator Clinton's ratings are improving because Americans are seeing that she has the strength and experience to deliver change," unquote.
Then Hillary herself shot a fuselage at Rove. SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY): (From videotape.) Karl Rove attacked me again. I feel so lucky that I now am giving them such heartburn.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does Rove's attack on Hillary benefit her more than it hurts her? Eleanor Clift.
MS. CLIFT: I think it does. It gives her a Svengali to campaign against. And, look, he is right that she has high negatives, and nobody has won going in with high negatives. But the Clinton campaign will tell you that by the time this campaign gets underway, whatever Democrat is out there is going to have high negatives. And she knows how to fight back. She, more than anybody, has adopted Bush campaign tactics. She's disciplined. She's on message.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What offsets Hillary's negatives?
MS. CLIFT: The campaign she's running. She's disciplined. She's on message.
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, that's --
MS. CLIFT: She rolls over the opposition.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What offsets her negatives is that they're all out there. With Giuliani, for example, they're not all out there.
MS. CLIFT: There's nothing to be discovered.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And as they tumble out, and these other candidates too, perhaps --
MR. BUCHANAN: You know, but John, when Rove --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- so she doesn't stand to be hurt any more.
MS. CLIFT: No surprises.
MR. BUCHANAN: When Rove attacks Hillary, it only helps Hillary. Look, Rove, he is a partisan Republican who has a very narrow base. And anybody that likes Karl Rove isn't going to like Hillary anyhow, so he's the wrong person to go after her if you want to take Hillary down.
MR. BLANKLEY: Let me give you another alternative. When someone like Karl Rove or someone like James Carville takes a shot at the other side, you can bet that they've calculated the effect of politics. I assume that by attacking her, he's trying to strengthen her because he wants her nomination. That would be my guess.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really? MR. BLANKLEY: That would be my guess. Look, someone like Rove understands that he's hated by Democrats, that he's giving Hillary a pinata to whip on.
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MR. BLANKLEY: And there must be --
MR. BUCHANAN: John, don't you remember when we used Mr. Agnew to attack the liberal Democrat in New York to pump up Goodell -- attack Goodell?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How conspiratorial can you actually imagine it to be?
MR. BLANKLEY: This is not really conspiratorial. This is just --
MS. CLIFT: Be careful what you ask for. It's like the Democrats who thought Ronald Reagan was going to be --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Is Ed Gillespie, Rove's successor, better for Bush now than Rove with 18 months to go in the presidency?
MR. BUCHANAN: As a public presence, Ed Gillespie is superior to Rove right now because I think he's a bit of a drawback.
But I agree with Tony. As a personal guy for the president of the United States to sit beside --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, quickly.
MR. BUCHANAN: -- nobody's better than Rove.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, Gillespie?
MS. CLIFT: Gillespie. The Rove tactics have expired. Gillespie knows how to get along in Washington; makes the compromises.
MR. BLANKLEY: Eddie is much better in public. I think, for the president's benefit, he should have had both of them.
MR. WALKER: I don't think even Gillespie can help Bush on Iraq, which is going to be the next big test in September.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is Gillespie better, all things considered?
MR. WALKER: He is better, all things considered. Where he might help is he might help Bush hold his veto of Schumer's bill.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Five people on this set say Gillespie is better.
MR. BLANKLEY: No, I --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I say --
MR. BLANKLEY: I didn't say that.
MR. BUCHANAN: Publicly he's better. Privately Rove is.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, I'm talking about with his popularity with Republicans on the Hill, who are essential for Bush.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, then, sure.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, that's all I'm saying. Now, that being the case, do you think that this was an independent decision on Rove's part? MR. BUCHANAN: I do think it is. And I think Eleanor is right. I think he wants to get out now and make a tremendous sum of money defending Bush.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer to the question, as I said earlier, trying to set you straight, is it was a collective decision with all those principals involved, including Cheney.
Issue Two: Will Bush Bomb Iran?
Nouri al-Maliki, the prime minister of Iraq, met with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran, two weeks ago. The meeting, as we reported last week, took place in Tehran, and the atmosphere was described by the Iran News Service as, quote-unquote, "warm." Al- Maliki characterized the content of the meeting as positive and constructive.
This week there was another significant Iraq-Iran meeting. Iraq, represented by U.S. officials, met with Iran officials in Baghdad to discuss U.S. allegations that the Revolutionary Guard of Iran has been supplying arms to fellow Shi'as in Iraq.
So against the background of two summit meetings between Iran and Iraq, and between Iran and Iraq with the U.S. as the principal, the White House in Washington then signals this week that it will designate Iran's Revolutionary Guard as a, quote-unquote, "terrorist organization."
The Revolutionary Guard is an elite, 250,000-strong force that reports directly to the supreme leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei. Khamenei ranks as the number one ruler of that nation, above Ahmadinejad. In addition, historically this is the first time the U.S. has ever put the military force of any nation on the, quote- unquote, "specially designated global terrorist list."
Iran expert at the Council on Foreign Relations Ray Takeyh, who has appeared as a guest panelist on this program, described the move as reflecting, quote-unquote, "the incoherence of Iran policy by the Bush administration." He questioned how the U.S. could expect to hold constructive negotiations with Tehran while designating part of the regime as a terrorist organization. Others are scratching their heads, saying, "What on earth is the White House thinking of?"
Question: What is the White House thinking of, Martin?
MR. WALKER: I wish I knew. We've got three separate Iran policies. We've got the Pentagon's policy, we've got the State Department's policy, and we've got the White House policy somewhere in the middle. And the difficulty is that there's only one Iran. You can't have three policies at the same time.
The real problem here is that, first of all, if we're trying to sort of name the Revolutionary Guards as terrorists, they're already named in the current U.N. sanctions. The top three leaders of the Revolutionary Guard are already sanctioned.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But the administration thinks that sanctions are not working. They chose to do this.
MR. WALKER: Well, the second point is that they're trying to put some extra pressure in the U.N. on China and Russia. And China just had two alleged spies arrested in Tehran. They're trying to get them to put in sanctions, and it won't work.
MR. BUCHANAN: They're also doing something else, John.
MS. CLIFT: My first --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let Pat in, Eleanor.
MR. BUCHANAN: They're also -- I think Martin is right that they want to put pressure on the U.N. to increase the sanctions. But at the same time, Bush is laying down a predicate for a strike on Iran. There's no doubt about -- he's not made the decision, but there's no doubt about it. You've got -- this is a terrorist organization. Al Quds has given all those weapons that have killed Americans. Generals have charged this. The ambassadors have charged this.
Bush is painting himself into a corner where, toward the end of his administration, people are going to have to say, "Are you going to let them keep their nuclear weapons, do what they did, and do nothing, sir?" And at that point the Bush --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, the IAEA -- correct me if I'm wrong -- is now fully functioning in Iran, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and they're inspecting the nuclear sites. Isn't that true?
MR. BUCHANAN: But Iran --
MR. WALKER: Not all of them. Not all of them.
MR. BUCHANAN: It's not all of them, and Iran --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean, it's a parade route?
MR. BUCHANAN: And Iran is continuing, John, to violate a commitment it made not to enrich uranium. It continues to enrich uranium, as far as I know.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will this action make Iran more moderate or less moderate and feel more isolated, and therefore it works against us?
MR. BLANKLEY: Nothing is going to --
MR. BUCHANAN: It's headed for collision. MR. BLANKLEY: Nothing is going to make Iran more moderate that we do. I agree with Pat on everything other than that Bush is painting himself into a corner. I do agree that I think Bush is considering the option of bombing, but I don't think this action paints him into a corner.
MS. CLIFT: There is a single power center in Iraq -- in Iran -- or in Iraq, for that matter. But the president, by doing this, I initially thought, well, at least it's not military engagement. But I agree; I think it is laying the foundation for a potential excuse to have military engagement. And with the Petraeus report now a month away and the White House not at all sure what the general is going to say, this is a wonderful diversion.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think Iran would do if we were to bomb Iran, the nuclear installations?
MR. WALKER: I think this particular regime of Ahmadinejad would get down on its knees and pray to Allah in thanks and gratitude. Nothing could more unite the people of Iran behind the country than to be bombed by the Americans.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What would they then do?
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MR. WALKER: They would then unleash the Al Quds Revolutionary Guard --
MR. BUCHANAN: Right.
MR. WALKER: -- all across the Middle East against American targets --
MR. BUCHANAN: But John, this is the point --
MR. WALKER: -- and against America's allies -- Jordan, Saudi Arabia.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do they have any biological or chemical weapons?
MR. WALKER: They certainly have chemical. They may have biological. But we know they're --
MS. CLIFT: But they have good --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Is President Bush preparing to bomb Iran, as Buchanan thinks? Eleanor.
MR. BUCHANAN: Hold it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you say that?
MR. BUCHANAN: He's laying down the predicate, John. But the key thing is, he has no authority to bomb Iran in the absence of a direct attack on Americans. And Congress has not authorized it. Where are the Democrats?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think this is grounds for impeachment?
MS. CLIFT: I'm sorry -- MR. BUCHANAN: Here's the thing. If he launched an attack on them without authority, that's far more serious than --
MS. CLIFT: He wouldn't --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that crimes and misdemeanors, high crimes?
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, if he launched a war and he has no authority --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, quickly.
MS. CLIFT: He wouldn't launch an attack without an excuse. The question is, would it be manufactured? Would it be a Gulf of Tonkin or a "Remember the Maine"? And that's why the media has to be watchful, as does the Congress.
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, in fact, the leading Democrats, Congressman Lantos and others, would be quite supportive of the president if he did decide to bomb Iran.
MR. WALKER: He will bomb before he leaves office.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?
MR. WALKER: I think so.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I don't think he'll bomb.
Issue Three: Long Live the King.
Some say he's still alive, but for most of us it's been 30 years this week since the "King" has left the building. Elvis Presley, or the "King," as he was nicknamed, taught the world how to rock.
In 1970, seven years before Presley died, he sent a six-page handwritten letter to Richard Nixon, then president. Elvis said that he, quote-unquote, "admired" Nixon and that he wanted to help the nation. He asked President Nixon to name him, quote, "federal agent at large."
"The drug culture, the hippie element, the SDS, Black Panthers, et cetera, do not consider me as their enemy. I can and will do more good if I were made a federal agent at large. And I will help out by doing it my way, through my communications with people of all ages."
Presley said that he knew how to reach this world because of his entertainer status and because he was not fond of what he described as the establishment. Mr. Nixon, a hobby musician himself -- he played the piano -- invited Elvis to the White House, and Elvis met with the president in December 1970. A memo from the meeting reported on the visit. It was written by a key staffer, Bud Krogh, author of the soon-to-be-published book, "Integrity: Good People, Bad Choices, and Life Lessons from the White House." Presley kept repeating that he wanted to be helpful, that he wanted to restore some respect for the flag, which was being lost. He mentioned that he was just a poor boy from Tennessee who had gotten a lot from his country, which in some way he wanted to repay. He said that he could not get to the kids if he made a speech on stage, that he had to reach them in his own way. So he asked Nixon to be a federal agent at large. This week, some tens of thousands attended a candlelight vigil in Memphis saluting Elvis.
Question: What explains Elvis's enduring appeal? Tony Blankley.
MR. BLANKLEY: I don't know that I have an expertise on this. He obviously was a seminal force in rock-and-roll music. He had a powerful personality that attracted people across ages and ethnic groups.
MR. BUCHANAN: He's my generation, John. He's my generation.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Celebrityhood was generated by talent in his day, and not by tabloids, as is the case today.
MR. BLANKLEY: That's my point.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, look, he is in my generation. I was, I think, a sophomore in high school --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In the '50s.
MR. BUCHANAN: -- in 1954. The "King" was the greatest of them all. He made rock and roll nationally. He put it on stage. He was a phenomenon that if you had never seen --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did Nixon ever talk to you about that? You were in the White House when he --
MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah, I know. When Elvis and his gang showed up, they had to disarm them of all their guns, John. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, what did he give Nixon? He gave him a present.
MR. BUCHANAN: What did he give him, a badge or something?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He gave him a Colt.
MR. BUCHANAN: Maybe he sent it to him. He didn't bring it in the Oval Office.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think he did.
MR. BUCHANAN: I don't think they let him in with it. I know he was talking to all the secretaries. MS. CLIFT: He was a natural musical talent, but he was a white boy singing black music. And this was radical in the '50s, when a lot of America was still segregated. And he brought gospel music and soul music to a broader audience. And the little shaking around, adding a little sex in the button-down '50s, was also --
MR. WALKER: Oh, come on. It's more than this.
MS. CLIFT: -- excuse me. Ed Sullivan only showed him from the waist up.
MR. WALKER: Elvis orchestrated the emotions of two or three generations. Millions of people all around the world sort of went into despair with "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" They fell in love to "Love Me Tender."
MR. BUCHANAN: He was --
MR. WALKER: I mean, he was -- the back seat of every American car was --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that Elvis helped to ease Europe out of the -- Eastern Europe out of the grip of the Soviets?
MR. WALKER: Absolutely.
I mean, the most attractive thing about America in the Cold War was the kind of soft power of rock and roll --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Politicians don't give the image of America abroad.
MR. WALKER: No.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Historical figures don't. It's the masses. It's the popular figure.
MR. WALKER: It's the popular culture of America, which is this country's greatest weapon.
MS. CLIFT: He also proudly served in the U.S. military, and that was an important signal --
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That was the Korean War.
MR. BUCHANAN: No, no. He was 1957-58. But John, you are right. Rock and roll is seditious. It's seditious.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean, it undercuts.
MR. BUCHANAN: It undercuts the authority. That's one thing about rock and roll. And you're right; rock and roll all over Europe had an impact on those regimes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you want to comment on Elvis's jealousy of the Beatles?
MR. WALKER: Oh, well, I think that --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He told Nixon they were anti-American.
MR. BUCHANAN: How did he? It was '57 --
MR. WALKER: Elvis was a good, religious southern American boy. And when John Lennon said that the Beatles were bigger than Jesus, he was outraged by that. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Laughs.)
MR. WALKER: And, I mean, Eleanor is absolutely right. The fact that he went with no question to do his military duty, to do the draft in Germany, he was an all-American boy.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question, quickly.
MS. CLIFT: And he loved his mother. He loved his mother.
MR. WALKER: And he took drugs, like most all-American boys of the day.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on. Exit question: Should Congress set aside land on the Washington Mall for a memorial to the greats of the rock-and-roll era, including the "King"? Yes or no.
MR. BUCHANAN: I think that ought to be the Elvis Washington Monument. That's the way to deal with it. The other thing you can forget.
MR. WALKER: It would be unfair to Cleveland.
MS. CLIFT: I think let Cleveland have its glory. They have the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. That's sufficient.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's enough?
MS. CLIFT: Yeah. (Laughs.)
MR. BLANKLEY: No, nothing on the Mall, thank you.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why not a salute to the soft power of Elvis and his peers?
MR. WALKER: And to the popular culture of America that goes back all the way through Gershwin and all the rest of it -- the jazz, et cetera.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think there ought to be -- this is a serious question.
MR. BUCHANAN: A museum?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: On the Mall.
MR. BUCHANAN: A museum of culture?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, no, no -- on the Mall.
MR. WALKER: But bring them all in. Bring in Gershwin. Bring in Duke Ellington. MS. CLIFT: Yes, do it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why do we always have to have military figures or politicians?
MS. CLIFT: Put it in the Smithsonian. There's plenty of room. (Laughs.)
Issue Four: Romney Takes Iowa.
MITT ROMNEY (Republican presidential candidate): (From videotape.) When it comes to strengthening our military, I want to add at least 100,000 additional troops and provide the equipment they need in the battlefield to be safe and give them the care they deserve when they come home.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Here's the readout on the standing after the Iowa poll, if we can find it here: Mitt Romney, 31 percent; Mike Huckabee, 18 percent; Sam Brownback, 15 percent; Tom Tancredo, 14 percent; Ron Paul, 9 percent.
Do you think this -- well, let's talk about Huckabee in a minute and the question of whether this revives his candidacy. But what about Romney? Does this mean he's going to win the Iowa caucus in January?
MR. BUCHANAN: Romney is clearly the favorite. He's enormously well-organized and everything. But your point is well-taken. Huckabee has done extremely well. He and Brownback are competing for the Christian pro-life vote. As Brownback fades and Huckabee rises, Huckabee's got a shot at this thing, John. But if you had to bet right now, you'd have to bet on Romney. But Rudy went to the Iowa state fair, John. He may be coming back into Iowa.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This measures on-the-ground strength; therefore, it will hold true in January for the Iowa caucus. True or false?
MS. CLIFT: Well, yeah, I think Romney's strategy is to win Iowa and win New Hampshire. He's doing well in both places. He's not doing well in the national polls. He's hoping that if he can win these states that he gains credibility with the rest of the party. Right now he looks a little too smooth. And the contrast with Huckabee -- Huckabee is kind of a rumpled populist who says the party's in the pockets of Wall Street, and Romney is this sort of smooth corporate titan. And, you know, I think the two of them are duking it out.
MR. BLANKLEY: The polls show a lot of strength down ticket, as you just cited. I think if Giuliani gets in there, you could have sort of an indecisive caucus with everybody doing pretty well. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did he make a mistake in skipping the straw poll?
MR. BLANKLEY: No.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Giuliani? I think he did. He looked like he didn't have the strength to --
MR. BUCHANAN: If he's going to compete, he made a mistake. I mean, if he were going to be in the caucuses, for heaven's sakes, organize for the straw poll.
MR. WALKER: No, you're wrong. I mean, look, the important thing about this straw poll was that the numbers voting went down from 24,000 last time of eight years ago to about 13,000 this time, which is to say --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the point?
MR. WALKER: -- the Republican Party is in a mess. Nobody's got a mandate out of this. Romney hasn't got a big enough mandate. For the money he put in, $2 million, he didn't buy himself a big enough lead.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that your intuition, Buchanan? Romney will not carry the caucus in Iowa?
MR. BUCHANAN: I agree with it down from 14,000. I do think Romney is favored out there in Iowa.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Pat.
MR. BUCHANAN: Bush's veto threats will cause Congress to back down from confrontation and it will strengthen Bush.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: The wave of Republican retirements will continue from Congress, strengthening the Democratic hand in '08.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.
MR. BLANKLEY: Senator Martinez, chairman of the Republican National Committee, is going to be severely chastised next week, as he was the beginning this week, for attacking Giuliani and Mitt Romney on immigration.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Martin.
MR. WALKER: God help the ratings agencies, like Moody's and Standard's & Poor and Fitch. They're going to get a lot of the blame for this meltdown in the financial markets for giving AAA ratings to these mortgage-backed securities that have gone phooey. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The EU will impose controls on lobbying such as we have in the U.S., meaning no entertaining of officials. Corporations hate it.