THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN PANEL: PATRICK BUCHANAN, MSNBC; ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK; MONICA CROWLEY, SYNDICATED RADIO COMMENTATOR; MORTIMER ZUCKERMAN, U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT TAPED: FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 2009 BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF SEPTEMBER 12-13, 2009
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DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: 09/11/09.
FORMER VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY: (From videotape.) We've gone for eight years without another attack. Now, how do you explain that?
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Friday marked the eighth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, which took the lives of 2,973 persons: In Shanksville, Pennsylvania, 40 deaths; at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, 184 deaths; at the World Trade Center in New York, 2,749 deaths.
In the eight years since that gruesome day, there has been no repetition on U.S. soil of this kind of terrorist attack. Former Vice President Dick Cheney gives his reasoning for why this is so. FORMER VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: (From videotape.) The enhanced interrogation techniques were absolutely essential in saving thousands of American lives and preventing further attacks against the United States.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Bush administration personnel did use such enhanced techniques, including waterboarding, to gather invaluable intelligence, says Dick Cheney, from key conspirators of 9/11, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah, who endured 266 waterboardings in one month.
President Obama has outlawed such EITs.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: (From videotape.) First, I banned the use of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques. I know some have argued that brutal methods like waterboarding were necessary to keep us safe. I could not disagree more.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Former Vice President Cheney is not persuaded and doubts President Obama's understanding about what's at stake.
FORMER VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: (From videotape.) I have serious doubts, especially about the extent to which he understands and is prepared to do what needs to be done to defend the nation.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Attorney General Eric Holder recently began a criminal probe of CIA interrogators of terrorist suspects and the techniques they use in their interrogations. Will this probe of the CIA make the U.S. more vulnerable to terrorist attacks? Pat Buchanan.
MR. BUCHANAN: We will lose invaluable assets. Mr. Cheney is exactly right, John. The terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, one of the things he revealed was a huge bomb plot against Camp Lemonier in Djibouti, just like the Marines in those barracks at the airport in Beirut. That's one of the things he gave up. He gave up a sleeper- cell guy in Ohio who's now in prison for 20 years. He gave up all kinds of stuff. He gave his battle order and all their plans up, and he did it because of some brutal and nasty methods, no doubt about it; it's undeniable.
But Cheney is right. And to go after these guys down the line who were doing their duty, had no criminal motivation other than to protect you and me, it seems to be unjust. It seems to be outrageous. It seems to be foolish. Obama could have done the same thing with the report -- "These were the techniques used. We don't want them anymore. We don't believe in them. We don't think they're honorable." But to go after these guys is outrageous.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor. MS. CLIFT: Well, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed did give up those bits of information you cited. But according to the CIA memos that the vice president wanted released, there's no evidence that he revealed this information after he was waterboarded. And, in fact, the evidence points the other way, that this information came out earlier in the process when a process of trust was established. And you do have a former FBI interrogator who walked away from the case with Zubaydah because he had established trust, and they started waterboarding him and they weren't getting any information. And also Khalid Sheikh Mohammed said that some of the things he said, he made up in order to stop the pain.
So I think there's no evidence here that these techniques work. And the prosecutions that are going forward -- you know, the rule of law does matter, and they were contract agents that went beyond even the very, I would say, outlandish techniques that were approved by the Cheney administration. We might as well call it for what it is. So I think America has reclaimed some of the moral ground that it lost. We do stand for something better. We do stand for the Geneva Conventions.
MS. CROWLEY: A couple of things here.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Inaudible) -- waterboarding does not work.
MS. CROWLEY: Waterboarding works. The Washington Post just had a story about two weeks ago that the waterboarding inflicted on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah provided direct actionable intelligence that prevented imminent attacks. And after he was waterboarded and subjected to some of these other EITs, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed started giving the CIA, now considered the villain under the Obama administration, tutorials on the inner workings of al Qaeda -- the leadership, how they operate, where they were getting their financing.
Look, Cheney is right. The Bush team had a 100 percent perfect track record in keeping this country safe after the attacks of 9/11. It is absurd, reckless and irresponsible in the extreme for his successor to go after and potentially prosecute the very men who did those things that kept us safe. They should be -- we should be offering these men who did this gratitude, thanks and respect. We should not be hanging prosecutions over their heads.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: We're talking about Eric Holder, who is the attorney general, conducting an investigation of CIA interrogators who, in our belief, several on this panel, and of many others, believe yielded data that prevented anything from happening --
MS. CLIFT: No, I don't believe that. (Laughs.)
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- similar to that in the last eight years.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Right. DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about that?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Frankly --
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think Eric Holder should be conducting such an investigation?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think it's outrageous. It's double jeopardy. All of these cases were investigated by the U.S. attorney from Virginia. They were cleared of everything. There was no criminal intent, they stated, in any of this thing, which is actually right. So I don't think to go after the good guys just because they were roughing up the bad guys at this point is the appropriate thing to do.
This isn't to say that the president doesn't have the right, as a matter of policy, to say, "I don't want to do that anymore." But to go after these guys -- it's so demoralizing to the CIA. It's absolutely going to affect our ability to go after these guys. These are people who went out there at great personal risk all around the world trying to gather this kind of intelligence, and now they're going to be subject to double jeopardy. I think it is totally wrong.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort, I commend you on -- I think we all do -- on the Daily News coverage of this gruesome weekend. "Every year on this day, we are all New Yorkers.
" I think we all share your view.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, actually, this --
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What a day that was.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: It was a terrible day, and I'm sure everybody is going to remember that for as long as they live. And the president did write that article for the Daily News. And that is, I think, an absolutely perfect way to capture it. On this day, everybody feels what happened to the city of New York.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: A question now. If there were another attack, God forbid, what would happen to Obama's political career?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, I think there will be a huge reaction from the public. Look, there is something called the ticking-bomb theory. It's a conventional approach. When you have a terrorist who knows that there is a bomb that's about to go off, you are, in almost every country in the world, allowed to use enhanced interrogation techniques, which is, you have to give -- you need to get this information. We were doing things at that point -- it was all de novo. It was a murky time. Nobody knew what the rules were. Everybody was reacting. To now go after these guys, I think, is terrible.
MS. CLIFT: We did know what the rules were.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Has Obama stopped the eavesdropping? I don't think he has.
MR. BUCHANAN: Some of the things Obama has stopped. Some of the things Obama has stopped.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Has he stopped Predators from --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: We're using drones and --
MR. BUCHANAN: Predators are hitting terrorists and others, frankly.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, the renditions are limited because we have exposed where the CIA is under the Obama administration. MR. BUCHANAN: The Washington Post did it.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What?
MR. BUCHANAN: The Washington Post exposed all these countries.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does that cumulatively limit our power to control the enemy?
MR. BUCHANAN: John, I think it does. Here's what we've got, John. You've got CIA guys who are on the borderline, and they get these opinions from these lawyers and they make sure they've got them and they go after them. And Eleanor's right; some of them go too far and stuff like that. They're trying to save us. And here they are, five, six, seven years later, being called disgraceful, having to get lawyers.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are they chilled in the field?
MR. BUCHANAN: The whole agency --
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are they chilled in the field, the CIA?
MS. CROWLEY: Yes.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes.
MR. BUCHANAN: The whole agency's morale is down.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Leon Panetta --
MS. CLIFT: The administration --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Just a minute. Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, and four other CIA directors oppose this tooth and nail. They know what they have to deal with and how difficult it is to motivate these people, who are living in the shadows, protecting us, and under these circumstances face the prospect of double jeopardy.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is Obama controlled by naivete --
MS. CLIFT: This is not --
MR. BUCHANAN: It's not Obama.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- in his advisers?
MS. CLIFT: This is not Obama.
MR. BUCHANAN: It's Holder.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: It's not Holder. MS. CLIFT: It's the attorney general following the rule of law.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Excuse me. If Obama abdicates --
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let Eleanor --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: If Obama had said, "I don't want you to pursue this" -- once you say to the attorney general, "You have to look at it," then it becomes a legal matter. It's a policy matter.
MS. CLIFT: I'm sorry --
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, if he had said to the attorney general, "I don't want you to look at this; I don't want you to prosecute this," that would be an unnecessary and possibly illegal interference --
MR. BUCHANAN: It's national security.
MS. CLIFT: -- of the Justice Department.
MR. BUCHANAN: He's president of the United States.
MS. CLIFT: And these -- excuse me -- and these -- yeah, but you don't get to fiddle around with the FBI. President Nixon did. President Nixon did. (Laughs.)
MR. BUCHANAN: The president -- okay, but sometimes if it's in the national security, the president --
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let her finish.
MS. CLIFT: And there is a belief that the fact that we no longer waterboard, condone torture, that we're closing Guantanamo, that we are closing down these recruiting tools that have been used by terrorists around jihadists, saying, "America is not what she claims to be." So I think this is important in setting a tone. And you also don't want your own people treated this way. And John McCain is the most eloquent person --
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't think it's unrealistic?
MS. CLIFT: John McCain is the most eloquent person on torture, having been submitted to it, and he does not believe in it. And I'll stick with John McCain --
MS. CROWLEY: On the question of Holder versus Obama --
MS. CLIFT: -- before I'll stick with Monica Crowley on this issue. MS. CROWLEY: (Laughs.) Nobody is buying this "good cop, bad cop" routine with Obama -- "I really don't want to go down the road of prosecuting, but my attorney general is demanding it." He could easily have closed down all of this. He refused to do it.
Also, we are now in the process, under this administration, of catapulting the United States back to September 10th, where acts of international terror against us are treated as criminal-justice problems and not as acts of war. We know what that led to -- 3,000 dead Americans in the street eight years ago this weekend. Do we really want to go down that path again? I do not think so.
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MS. CROWLEY: So I think it is one of the most irresponsible things --
MR. BUCHANAN: -- if the president of the United States --
MS. CROWLEY: -- a commander in chief has done in wartime.
MR. BUCHANAN: -- wanted this stopped, he has every right, as commander in chief, protecting the national interest in saying, "I don't want this prosecution or investigation to go forward.
Here's what I want done." And if he tells the American people that, the American people will support it.
MS. CLIFT: He is looking at hired --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: (Inaudible.)
MS. CLIFT: Excuse me. He is looking at hired guns, hired by the CIA, who went way out of bounds. He is not looking at people who wrote memos or where the orders came from.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Not just hired guns.
MS. CLIFT: It is not going nearly as far as most people who voted for Obama --
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, let's go. We've got to get going here.
MS. CLIFT: -- would like him to go. It is a moderate approach -- very moderate approach.
MS. CROWLEY: Oh, my God.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question.
MS. CROWLEY: That's quite a statement.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does the Bush-Cheney team and its tough counterterrorist policy, like eavesdropping, waterboarding, renditions, preemptive assassinations with Predator drones, do these policies deserve the credit for the fact that there have been no terrorist attacks on U.S. soil in the last eight years?
MR. BUCHANAN: Every one of us would have predicted another attack after 9/11, that we were going to be hit again and again and again. We weren't. And you've got to give Bush and Cheney credit for that.
MS. CLIFT: I'll give them credit, but I don't think there's any evidence that these enhanced interrogation techniques are what yielded the information that kept us safe. And secondly, I think they do serve as a recruiting tool, a ticking time bomb in terms of creating more terrorists for the future.
MS. CROWLEY: Recruiting tool?
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that --
MS. CROWLEY: We were hit on 9/11 before we started doing any of these things. Look, fighting al Qaeda, a shadowy terrorist enemy that doesn't play by the rules and targets civilians, is not a walk in the park. The things that we did to these guys to extract information, to save Americans, happens every day at an American fraternity, for crying out loud. We are not talking about brutality here. We're talking about things that saved American lives. And politically, by the way, this is a total loser for the Obama administration, because huge majorities of the American people think that we should do whatever is necessary to protect us.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: And if you think we're going to be able to persuade people who are willing to fly airplanes into buildings in the name of their jihadist philosophy and we're going to persuade them to tell us everything that they're going to be doing, that's kind of naive.
MS. CROWLEY: Right.
MR. BUCHANAN: Let me say, Eleanor's got a point.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: And therefore, I think it did contribute.
MR. BUCHANAN: Eleanor has a point, though.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: It did contribute. It does contribute and did contribute.
MR. BUCHANAN: You've got to admit this. Look, Abu Ghraib was disgraceful. And some of these techniques, when they come out there, a lot of these Arab guys, I'm sure, they say, "Look what they're doing to us." I'm sure it is a recruiting tool. I don't deny that. The thing is, on balance, you've got to say those guys protected us.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Which one? Which techniques --
MS. CLIFT: The memos --
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute. Which techniques in Abu Ghraib?
MR. BUCHANAN: I mean what happened -- Abu Ghraib --
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Which technique?
MR. BUCHANAN: Look, Abu Ghraib was individuals -- MS. CLIFT: Sexual hazing.
MR. BUCHANAN: -- down there at midnight doing that idiotic stuff. But it disgraced this country. And those pictures inflamed the Middle East. That's why Obama rightly did not show the pictures.
MS. CROWLEY: We're talking about two different things, though, Pat.
MR. BUCHANAN: Obama would not show the pictures of all those -- what was being done. And he did the right thing there, because it would have inflamed folks.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: He did reveal the rendition locations, though.
MR. BUCHANAN: No, The Washington Post did.
MS. CLIFT: The Washington Post did.
MR. BUCHANAN: He didn't do that. But pictures -- why did Obama say, "I don't want those pictures out there"? Because he knows -- Eleanor's right on that point.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: If Obama looks soft on this matter --
MR. BUCHANAN: He looks --
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- then he would definitely be out of office in 1012 (sic/means 2012).
MR. BUCHANAN: No, look, let me say this. If we get hit or something like that and it looks like some people had information on what was going to happen and we didn't do these things, he's got a problem.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think I said 1012.
MS. CLIFT: Any president --
MS. CROWLEY: 2012. (Laughs.)
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hey, Pat, you know, I looked at you and I thought of 1012. (Laughter.) It's 2012.
The answer to my question is yes. They deserve the credit.
Issue Two: Summer of Shove.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) The time for games has passed. Now is the time to deliver on health care.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: In an address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday night, President Obama had one dominant purpose in mind: To get a health-insurance reform bill out of Congress by the end of this year. Mr. Obama also used his bully pulpit to try to sell the idea of a government-run non-profit insurance provider, which he calls the public option. But he indicated that it could be reformulated.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) It's worth noting that a strong majority of Americans still favor a public-insurance option of the sort I propose tonight. But its impact shouldn't be exaggerated by the left or the right or the media. It is only one part of my plan and shouldn't be used as a handy excuse for the usual Washington ideological battles.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: What's the significance of Obama's hard focus on the public option in his address before both chambers of Congress? Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: Actually, I didn't think it was much of a hard focus. I thought he finessed it pretty well. This was a speech he had to give, because Democrats and people who voted for him really were demoralized. And a lot of the focus has been on whether this public option would survive.
I think he really made the case to progressive Democrats that insurance reforms are important enough that if they don't get the public option, they'll have to suck it up, support the reforms. He got cheers from progressives. And I think he gave enough to the so- called Blue Dogs, the conservatives, that he rallied his base. And basically that's what it's about. They've got the numbers on Capitol Hill if they can cling together.
And the game is all about Max Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, who will finally unveil his bill next week. And I think it will mirror pretty closely what the president talked about, probably with this co-op, member-owned, non-profit component which will be the substitute for the public option.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Not government-run.
MS. CLIFT: Not government --
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Not government-run.
MS. CLIFT: No -- member-owned co-ops.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, let's go back to what she just said. How important is the public option?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) The public option is only a means to that end. And we should remain open to other ideas that accomplish our ultimate goal.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You got that? You see that dance away?
MS. CLIFT: I certainly did.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's beautiful -- a minuet.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, John, look --
MS. CLIFT: Exactly.
MR. BUCHANAN: -- Obama did exactly the right thing he's got to do. Look, the liberals are not going to kill this guy's health care simply because they don't have a public option. And he's telling them, "Look, if we can't get that, we've got to get what we can get."
I think he had an outstanding speech. I do think the question comes down to those Blue Dogs. A lot of those guys have gone home and their seats are in peril if they vote for this. He has to get rid of the public option. And I think he's got the horses there, but it's going to be a very, very tough thing to pull it all together. He's going to have to get everybody on board. It's an all-Democratic game.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, let's clarify one thing. Okay, President Obama, a question for you, sir: Who pays for the public option?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) I've insisted that, like any private insurance company, the public insurance option would have to be self-sufficient and rely on the premiums it collects.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did he leave something out? Because the pay premium is dependent upon the people paying on government subsidies --
MS. CROWLEY: The taxpayer --
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- so the government gives them to somebody and they pay for the premium. Is that correct?
MS. CROWLEY: So what are you saying? Was he disingenuous about the cost of this thing?
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes, that's what I'm saying.
MS. CROWLEY: Yes, of course. And when we talk about public option or government option, the word "public" is in there for a reason -- because of course the public is going to foot the bill for this -- a trillion dollars-plus over 10 years. That's probably a lowball estimate. And the CBO, nonpartisan organization, stated that this is going to add $220 billion to the federal deficit over the next 10 years. And, again, that's probably a lowball estimate. He did not answer how to pay for this.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you -- have you followed this whole issue of the insurance? Do you think Obama is speaking with a forked tongue?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, I don't know that he's speaking with a forked tongue --
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did he go in both directions?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- any more than any other politician is going to sell programs.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?
MS. CLIFT: Right.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Shall we say he emphasizes what he thinks is persuasive?
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you -- MR. ZUCKERMAN: The one thing that I think is fundamentally flawed about his approach is when he talks about it being revenue- neutral. Revenue-neutral is not the objective. We've got to cut the cost of our health-care program, because it's destroying the fiscal health of this country. And as Monica says, nobody knows how big the costs are going to be. We're in an era of genetics and, you know, neurology and a whole series of advancements. And that's what costs. This is a huge additional cost, just as it did with Medicaid.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the point? The point is Obama is not addressing that.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: The point is we've got to find out what this is going to do to the cost structure of this whole program.
MR. BUCHANAN: The cost --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: It's going to destroy the economy of this country.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you not in favor of the advances being made in medical science?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I'm totally in favor of it, and that's -- we've got to make sure that we pay for it. And there's a huge amount --
MR. BUCHANAN: But John, we need --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Let me give you an example: Legal costs, okay; tort liability.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: He says that there's overcharging and all other kinds of moral disorder within the ranks of the insurance industry. Do you believe that?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, I do. I'm sure that is the case.
MR. BUCHANAN: But John, he says we can --
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think that's --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think that is the case. So I think it is --
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think that there's greed there? You think that --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Greed?
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- it is the excess that he's talking about?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: We don't call it greed. We call it self- interest. It's perfectly appropriate. I have no problem with it. DR. MCLAUGHLIN: And you see it's excessive. You agree with him on that.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I do think it's excessive.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think he can make up for the deficit in his own plan by attacking the waste and mismanagement --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think there's a lot of it there, because, amongst other things, to take just medical tort liability, which costs probably $200 billion a year --
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't think he's making a whipping boy out of the insurance industry, and it's fundamentally undeserved?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Of course he is.
MR. BUCHANAN: Of course he is.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: But how else is he going to do it?
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think it's undeserved?
MS. CLIFT: Are we going to have a love-in for the insurance industry here?
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on. I want to know whether or not we should be attacking --
MR. BUCHANAN: It's not -- as soon as you start going down those costs -- "We're going to cut the cost of Medicare; we're going to cut it" -- you're right down the road to, quote, "the death panels," because you're cutting off care. You're cutting off prescriptions. You're cutting off procedures.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three: Death of a Dynasty.
(Videotape of Senator Ted Kennedy and others singing "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.")
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: So Irish. In the 1840s, the great-grandparents of Ted Kennedy emigrated from Wexford, Ireland to Boston, Massachusetts. Over the years, the great potato famine in Ireland sent millions of Irish immigrants to America, flooding cities like New York and Boston. Prejudice and open intolerance against Irish- Americans was harsh and unremitting. Storefront job postings warned, "Irish Need Not Apply."
This Irish stigma was keenly felt in Boston, where, by 1870, about one in four, 23 percent, were Irish-born residents. Irish immigrants were also targeted for their religion, Catholicism. The rise of the Catholic Church irked the WASP orthodoxy -- white Anglo- Saxon Protestant.
Irish immigrants bred resentment, and they also bred political bosses. Irish ward leaders emerged. They mobilized voters through patronage machines -- John Kelly in New York, Hugh McLaughlin in Brooklyn, Pat McGuire in Boston; also in Boston, John "Honey" Fitzgerald, the father of Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, who married Joseph P. Kennedy and was the mother of Teddy Kennedy.
Joseph Kennedy helped Franklin Delano Roosevelt win the White House. FDR reciprocated by naming Joe Kennedy ambassador to Britain. Ambassador Kennedy and Rose Kennedy, the matriarch, had nine children, including four sons: Joseph P. Kennedy Jr., fighter pilot killed in World War II; John F. Kennedy, the 35th president, assassinated; Robert F. Kennedy, U.S. senator and U.S. attorney general, assassinated; and Edward M. Kennedy, who served 46 years in the Senate and carried the torch of the Kennedy dynasty until his death from brain cancer last month.
Did you get your business start in Boston?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I did.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you experience or see any Irish-Catholic prejudice, or do you have any reason to believe that the brilliance of that set-up is understated?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I don't think it's understated, but I think it's valid. I mean, when I was there, which was in the '60s and '70s, there was a tribalism about that city, where the WASP part, the Yankee part of that community, did really not integrate with any of the others. And I think that was a real problem --
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: But they controlled the action.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, they controlled a good part of the action, not as much as they did once upon a time. But I remember, I was giving a speech at one point -- I belonged to a firm called Cabot, Cabot & Forbes.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: The guy introduced me and said, "How did a man with a name like Zuckerman join a firm like Cabot, Cabot & Forbes?" That was his intro. DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, do you think that the prejudice against Irish-Catholics, particularly in Massachusetts, but also elsewhere, that it was shattered by the Kennedy dynasty? Kennedy came along and they came from outcast, so to speak, so to speak, on the basis of what I set up there, and they became the very pinnacle of power?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I agree with that. They absolutely transformed the entire presence of the Irish-Catholic community in Massachusetts and in Boston. And I think --
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: And maybe in the nation.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, yes, I do they -- well, a little bit less so in the nation, because I don't think there was quite as much --
MS. CLIFT: Well, nationally, running for president. (Laughs.)
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I just want to say one thing. There are a lot of Kennedy grandchildren and there will be a lot of Kennedy grandchildren, and it will be interesting to see which ones take up that mantle.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, anti-Catholicism has been called the anti- Semitism of the intellectuals. There's no doubt about it that the Kennedys coming up -- the earlier, Rose Kennedy and them and Jack Kennedy -- broke a lot of barriers. But there's still anti-Catholic sentiment in parts of this country. It's not as deep or pervasive as it was, but it is still out there, John. There's no doubt about it.
MS. CLIFT: That was the story of any immigrant group that comes to this nation. And this was a beautiful transformation from all of the prejudice they faced initially to rise to the pinnacle of power in this country --
MS. CROWLEY: And that's also one of the great strengths --
MS. CLIFT: -- and Kennedy becoming president and breaking that barrier nationally.
MS. CROWLEY: Yeah. And on that subject, I mean, look, this is one of the great strengths of America. Sometimes it takes us a while, but the melting pot does come into play. And in terms of Kennedy running for president in 1960, remember, this was a huge to-do that he was an Irish-Catholic, and would he be loyal to the pope or would he be loyal to the U.S. Constitution?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: He had to give that speech in Texas, if you remember.
MR. BUCHANAN: Do you remember, John, Al Smith was killed by his Catholicism. He lost southern states, for example, that the Democrats -- you know, the solid South that the Democrats had carried for a long time. They lost Virginia. DR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Kennedys were spectacularly Irish-Catholic. Rose Kennedy --
MR. BUCHANAN: But here's why Jack Kennedy -- the best candidate, it's been said, is a minority candidate, an Ed Brooke or a Ribicoff or a Kennedy who looks and behaves like a WASP is your strongest candidate. And that's the sense -- Jack Kennedy was an aristocrat, whereas Teddy very much reverted to the Boston Irish.
MS. CLIFT: Well, and they never forgot Ireland. They never forgot their roots. And Teddy Kennedy was instrumental in forging the peace agreement in Ireland.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right. Excellent point.
Forced prediction: Will Obama get his health-care bill by year's end?
MR. BUCHANAN: He'll get something.
MS. CLIFT: Yes.
MS. CROWLEY: He will get something.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: He'll get something.
DR. MCLAUGHLIN: He will get something.
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