THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN PANEL: PATRICK BUCHANAN, MSNBC; ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK; MONICA CROWLEY, WASHINGTON TIMES; CLARENCE PAGE, CHICAGO TRIBUNE TAPED: FRIDAY, OCTOBER 8, 2010 BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF OCTOBER 9-10, 2010
Copyright (c) 2010 by Federal News Service, Inc., Ste. 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 visit http://www.fednews.com or call(202)347-1400
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Flat Stats.
LARRY SABATO (University of Virginia): (From videotape.) The bottom has fallen out for Democrats. It's mainly due to the economy, the bad economy, and the fact that Democrats are seen as having overpromised and underdelivered.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In September, U.S. unemployment was a flat 9.6 percent -- no change from August. The market was flat. Wages were mostly flat. But the economy is not flat. The economy's transmission is in low gear -- not reverse, not idling. Jobs are scarce. Competition is stiff. And in construction and manufacturing, jobs were lost. But private employers added 64,000 payroll jobs in September. Health care gained. Hospitals gained. Business services gained.
But now brace for impact. September marks the 14th straight month that unemployment remained higher than 9.5 percent. That 14- month streak is the worst streak since the 1930s -- 80 years ago, Pat. You remember that. (Laughter.)
Question: The September jobs report is the last one to be released before the election, three weeks from Tuesday. What will these numbers mean on November 2nd for the Democrats, Pat?
MR. BUCHANAN: I think it probably means they're going to lose the House, John. That's gone back and forth. But the real problem here is this 14 straight months. The stimulus money is running out. States and the federal government are going to be cutting budgets in the coming year.
And it looks like there's only one card left to play, and that's the Federal Reserve basically buying up enormous amounts of debt, putting out dollars into the economy, which means an inflation may be coming down the road, which is why you're seeing gold and silver prices surging like crazy.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: Well, these pictures -- these job numbers put a gloomy overhang on the election. But I don't know that it's any gloomier than it was. And, in fact, there are some glimmers of hope out there for the Democrats. And you have two camps -- the glimmers- of-hope camp and the woe-is-me camp.
I'm not entirely sure the Republicans are going to take over the House. And if they do, they would provide a nice little foil for the president to run against, because if you look at what their candidates are saying, pretty extreme positions. And what's bringing the Democrats back to some extent is making the contrast with the Republican candidates that are out there. They are for tax incentives to outsource jobs. They want to eliminate the minimum wage. They want to phase out Medicare, Social Security.
And so if you can make it a contrast between two candidates, two people, as opposed to a referendum on America's disappointment with Barack Obama not being able to perform a miracle and dig us out of this worst downturn since the Great Depression, if it's a contrast, the Democrats have some hope.
MS. CROWLEY: Well, it seems to me back in 2008, when he was campaigning, he sold himself as something of a miracle worker.
Look, Democrats have controlled this Congress for going on almost four years now. They've controlled the White House for nearly two years. This is their economy. They now own it. Have you noticed that very few Democrats are out there blaming Bush for this economy? It no longer works. This is theirs.
And what voters now see is that all of the Democrats' policies -- Pat mentioned the stimulus; you're looking at cap and trade passing in the House; you're looking at Obamacare; you're looking at increased regulation, huge tax burdens coming down the pike on January 1st unless they do something about the Bush tax cuts.
You see enormous uncertainty and enormous fear out there, which is why small businesses, job creators, investors don't want to move. They don't want to invest money. They don't want to hire anybody because of this huge overhang of uncertainty, on top of the fact that this administration, this Congress, has put TNT under the national deficit and blown it up.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.
MS. CROWLEY: So now you have -- on top of all of that, you've got the overhang of enormous debt in this country. And all of that is casting a huge pall on the economy, and that's why voters, I think, in November are going to slap down the Democrats big-time.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is go-out-on-the-ledge time, right? (Laughter.) In piling it on, do you want to also take note that Gallup's recording of unemployment --
MR. BUCHANAN: Ten-point-one.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- was 10.1 percent?
MS. CROWLEY: Ten-point-one. And on top of that --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What we saw here was 9.6 percent, which was the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
MS. CROWLEY: Exactly.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you trust Gallup?
MS. CROWLEY: I do trust Gallup. And, look, two other points. When you look at total unemployment --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes.
MR. PAGE: I'm keeping count, by the way. (Laughs.)
MS. CROWLEY: -- partial unemployment --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Fifteen percent?
MS. CROWLEY: No, it's closing in on 19 percent. That includes all the people who are underemployed, working part-time, who want full-time work. And we got another report from the Labor Department just this week, John, that showed that job losses last year were much greater than anybody thought.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you going to try to relieve Obama's situation in this conversation here?
MR. PAGE: Well, Obama doesn't seem to be that frazzled by it all. What's interesting is --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, what is he --
MR. PAGE: -- I'll agree with Monica that going against Bush doesn't work. What does work is running against the Republican Congress, which is possibly looming. And once Republicans are put on the defensive as to what they would do about the economy, that's where they begin to lose. And I've even talked to Republicans off the record who say, you know, "We might be better off if we don't win the House" --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What advice --
MR. PAGE: -- that it's better to run against Obama than to run in favor of a program where they too are going to be --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You have advice for the Republicans. What advice do you have for Obama?
MR. PAGE: My advice for Obama is to run the kind of contrast campaign that Eleanor is talking about, where you talk about "Well, let's imagine what the House will look like if we have Republicans in control. Imagine what the Senate would look like."
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think he should do after November 2? Do you think he should leave the country? He's scooting over to Japan on November the 3. He's out of here.
MR. PAGE: You know, this is not a great desirable job for anybody right now to be president. But he's doing it, and he's going to --
MR. BUCHANAN: Hey, John --
MR. PAGE: -- but that's okay. Our economy is global. He needs to -- MR. BUCHANAN: The Republicans --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hurry up. We want to get to the exit question.
MR. BUCHANAN: Sure. Republicans would be better off if they did not win both houses, if you had Pelosi, Reid and Obama there going into 2012, because when Republicans get the House, if they do, John, you're going to have a tea-party war with the Republicans, and the tea-party guys want to take an ax to the budget. And the Republicans are going to say, "Hold on."
MS. CLIFT: But if --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about -- forget the tea party. What about the new entrants to the House of Representatives?
MR. BUCHANAN: That's what I'm talking about. The tea-party guys --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, they're not all tea party. There'll be others too.
MR. PAGE: A lot of them are, though.
MR. BUCHANAN: A lot of them --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They're hungry. Are they going to be satisfied with --
MR. BUCHANAN: Everybody's going to be influenced by the tea- party guys because they knocked off so many Republicans. And they're militant, and they --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right --
MS. CLIFT: Well, and if they don't get the House, there will be a bloodletting in the Republican Party as well because they blew this fantastic opportunity.
But if we have divided government, maybe the two parties will come together and inject into this economy what is needed, and that is big infrastructure programs -- infrastructure --
MS. CROWLEY: No more spending, Eleanor.
MR. BUCHANAN: Didn't we just have that?
MS. CROWLEY: We just had a trillion dollars --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about the --
MS. CLIFT: I will bet you that infrastructure will be on the agenda. And I think the Republicans would go for it. MS. CROWLEY: No way.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Will voters --
MS. CLIFT: The economy needs it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- expect positive changes in the economic outlook as a result of the November election? Pat Buchanan.
MR. BUCHANAN: If Republicans win, they will certainly expect them, but I think they will be disappointed.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: They will expect them, and that's why there's some reason to hope that the Republicans may want to do something affirmative, as opposed to just standing on the sidelines and carping.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, they're going to put all-new chairmen in.
MS. CLIFT: What does that mean? (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, that's where the committee action -- that's where it all takes place.
MR. PAGE: Yeah, right.
MS. CROWLEY: Right, like Paul Ryan would be the new chairman --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.
MS. CROWLEY: -- of the Budget Committee.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We're going to get into that. Quickly.
MS. CROWLEY: Right. No, look, the Republican Party has been painted as the party of no by the Democrats. They have actually been the party of stop. And that's why they're going to make huge gains in November, because the American people are not satisfied with the Obama agenda.
MR. PAGE: Which means --
MS. CROWLEY: It's produced no results. It's taken a bad economy and made it worse.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you --
MR. PAGE: Which means the voters don't expect great changes. They just want to change what is up on Capitol Hill now. So I don't think that people are expecting an overnight recovery. They're waiting to hear what Republicans are going to do when they have a chance to implement their ideas. MR. BUCHANAN: We're going to have a deadlock --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you resigned to all of this?
MR. PAGE: Resigned to what?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, all of this expectation of what's going to happen.
Are you resigned?
MR. PAGE: Oh, I'm always a pessimist on these things, John. (Laughter.) Remember '94? I don't think anybody predicted the Republican bloodbath that happened.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pessimism is one thing. I want to recommend to you fatalism.
Issue Two: Rearranging the Chairs.
Pollsters and pundits generally agree that the Republicans will retake control of the House of Representatives. People want lower taxes and small government, the principal reason why Republican President George Bush lost the House and the Senate in his midterm second-term elections in 2006.
G.W. spent too much money. Barack Obama has done the same, many believe. The current House lineup: Democrats, 256; Republicans, 179; for control, 218. Assuming Republicans gain control of the House, Ohio Republican John Boehner, minority leader, becomes speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. Republicans will also gain the chairmanships of all congressional committees. In the U.S. Congress, practically all of the action takes place on the committee level, and chairmanships are the key to the committee action.
Assuming all goes as widely expected, the new influential committee chairmen will be Republicans: Budget, Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, replacing John Spratt of South Carolina; Financial Service, Spencer Bachus of Alabama replacing Barney Frank of Massachusetts; Ways & Means, Dave Camp of Michigan replacing Sander Levin of Michigan; Appropriations, Jerry Lewis of California replacing David Obey of Wisconsin; Energy & Commerce, Fred Upton of Michigan replacing Henry Waxman of California; Oversight & Government Reform, Darrell Issa of California replacing Ed Towns of New York.
As chairman, Issa will be able to hold investigations and issue subpoenas to the White House and its staff, Cabinet officials and heads of government agencies to testify in front of his committee as requested.
Question: As a group, how powerful and how tough are these Republican chairmen? Eleanor Clift. MS. CLIFT: Well, there are some there, like Fred Upton, who's going to take over, I think, Ways & Means, who's a moderate Republican, and I don't think Democrats would have any great issue with him. They would probably applaud his chairmanship.
Darrell Issa is primed to make Obama's life miserable. I mean, he will investigate everything that can be found, whether it's there or not. And he will be reminiscent of Chairman Dan Burton during the Clinton years. I think he's a disaster for the Democrats, and probably for the Republicans too.
And I think Paul Ryan is a smart guy. He's got some budget plans that no Republicans will sign onto because they're too extreme. But if he's serious and you've got a serious partner in the White House, I mean, perhaps there's some opportunity for common ground there. So it's not an unmitigated disaster.
MS. CROWLEY: I think a lot of incoming Republicans will be happy to sign on to Paul Ryan's budget plans. Paul Ryan is the most creative conservative thinker that the Republicans have. He is young. He is energetic. And as chairman of the Budget Committee, I think he will be gangbusters, because he will go line by line through the Obama budget. By the way, the Congress refused to pass the budget in the last couple of weeks. They left town without a budget, an appropriations bill or a tax bill on the Bush tax cuts.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What are they operating on, continuing resolution?
MS. CROWLEY: They did a continuing resolution, yeah. The other very important --
MS. CLIFT: Not the first time.
MS. CROWLEY: -- chairmanship that you left out is Homeland Security in the House. And that will be taken over, if the GOP wins, by Peter King, who is outstanding on the Islamic terror threat and other national-security issues.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Would you call these chairmen universally tough?
MR. PAGE: No.
MS. CROWLEY: Well, I don't know all of them. But I would say, in the positions that matter -- Homeland Security, Budget, Appropriations -- yes, they are tough.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, Paul Ryan is a very important one. And he does have a deadly serious program for cutting that budget, but he's only got about a dozen Republicans signed on, because --
MS. CROWLEY: So far. MR. BUCHANAN: -- you are talking about serious, serious --
MS. CROWLEY: So far.
MR. BUCHANAN: -- cuts. And when you get right down to doing that, it's not like --
MS. CLIFT: Absolutely.
MR. BUCHANAN: -- he spent too much. You get down to the details and you're going to have blood all over the floor, and a lot of these Republicans will recoil. And the tea-party Republicans will support him, and that's where the war is coming.
MS. CROWLEY: Yes.
MR. PAGE: That big massive tea-party majority. (Laughs.)
MR. BUCHANAN: No, no. They influence everybody, though.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You seem to talk like there's going to be hysteria in the Republican ranks.
MR. BUCHANAN: No, there's going to be a war inside the Republican --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, give me a break.
MR. BUCHANAN: You think they're going to accept that budget like that?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why would they want to ruin the situation?
MR. BUCHANAN: They've got --
MR. PAGE: Because they're not that unified, John.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He can do the subpoena power. He can --
MR. BUCHANAN: But John, you talking --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Remember, it's Obama's government except for the House.
MR. PAGE: Also Obama's veto. Remember that.
MR. BUCHANAN: The deficit is 10 percent of the entire economy.
MR. PAGE: Remember Obama's veto.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, you're going to have Republicans elected on "Let's slash the deficit." And then they're going to get up there and they're going to look at what that means if you do that. And as you pointed out, Republicans don't sign on to what Paul Ryan is doing. He essentially wants to privatize Medicare, and probably Social Security as well. You can't do that without paying a huge political price. And the Republicans probably won't want to pay that price.
MR. PAGE: Just look where the big money is -- Medicare, Medicaid --
MS. CROWLEY: Social Security.
MR. PAGE: -- defense, Social Security. And it doesn't get much less popular from there. The fact is, you know, it's a great way to make enemies. If all they have is Darrell Issa there giving out subpoenas, then what's it going to look like? The party of no is now going out there becoming the party of obstruction. And remember how well that served Newt Gingrich?
MS. CROWLEY: Well, but --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think of Issa and what do you think of him as a national candidate?
MR. PAGE: I like Darrell Issa personally. He's --
MR. BUCHANAN: He's a good guy.
MR. PAGE: -- a great guy to know.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think he has a national --
MR. PAGE: He has been --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- potential?
MR. BUCHANAN: No.
MR. PAGE: Do you realize the talking car alarm, that's his voice, by the way? (Laughs.)
MR. BUCHANAN: No, John, he couldn't --
MR. PAGE: What was your question again?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What are you talking about? MR. PAGE: Darrell Issa.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're talking about the alarm going off on the car.
MR. PAGE: Yeah, the ones that say, "Stand away from the car." That's his voice -- the most famous voice in America.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is a serious question.
MR. PAGE: Yes, sir.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think of him in both his performance and his integrity?
MR. PAGE: Well, he's a man of integrity, as far as I can tell; I mean, not a lot of skeletons in the closet.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think he's national?
MR. BUCHANAN: He's an outstanding guy, John.
MR. PAGE: However, if you want to just send out subpoenas, you can do a lot of damage as far as holding up government.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You can't beat somebody with nobody. Who are the Republicans going to advance for the presidential election?
MR. BUCHANAN: John, Issa's a good guy. He's a good guy, but he's not a national figure. And you can't put him on the ticket because you're not going to win California, and that's where he's from.
MR. PAGE: Right.
MS. CROWLEY: Look, and to Clarence's point, I think the Republicans are going to make huge gains in November. I don't know whether they're going to take over one or both houses yet. But to be the party of obstructionism -- actually, what the American people are saying, "We want the GOP to be the party of stop."
MR. PAGE: That's what conservatives are saying.
MS. CROWLEY: In other words, stop the Obama agenda. No, it's the bulk of the American people.
MR. PAGE: That's what Sarah Palin and conservatives are saying.
MS. CROWLEY: No, it's the independents that are glomming onto this -- MR. PAGE: Independents? Independents are just kind of tired of the status quo.
MS. CLIFT: At some point --
MS. CROWLEY: They don't want this big spending.
MR. PAGE: They don't necessarily want you to cut popular programs.
MS. CROWLEY: Clarence, they don't want the big spending. They don't want the Obama agenda. The liberals have overreached, and the American people want it to stop.
MR. PAGE: Let them speak for themselves.
MS. CLIFT: Enough --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They don't want class warfare.
MS. CROWLEY: Correct.
MS. CLIFT: Enough of the noise. At some point, "stop" is not enough.
MR. PAGE: Right.
MS. CLIFT: At some point they're going to have to say what their agenda is. And it will be exposed as a big lie, because they're not going to cut the deficit any more than the Democrats.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, you know what's in trouble --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What are Democrats going to run on -- "Soak the rich"?
MR. BUCHANAN: -- is the war budget. You know what's in trouble is the war budget and the Defense budget, because that's where you'll get a coalition of people who says, "Stop the spending for these two wars. Do we need all these weapon systems?"
MS. CROWLEY: But Pat --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think Gates himself is experiencing some of that enlightenment?
MR. BUCHANAN: Gates is already -- Gates --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He wants to cut the size of the military.
MR. BUCHANAN: The Air Force commander in Europe says, "We've got too many bases over here." MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: After November, will there be a friendly merger between the incoming GOP freshmen -- this is his point; he thinks it's going to be hysteria and division widespread --
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and the Republican Party establishment -- or will it be a hostile takeover? Pat Buchanan.
MR. BUCHANAN: There's going to be a friendly civil war inside the Republican caucus.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Laughs.)
MS. CLIFT: I don't know how you can have a friendly civil war. I'd call it -- I think it'll be a shotgun marriage. But I will add that the antiwar party that Pat was just talking about is not going to be big enough to cut off funding either war.
MS. CROWLEY: Look, and I just want to say that the Defense budget has grown a lot slower and a lot less relative to social spending in the United States. But to answer your question, I think that the incoming GOP freshmen, a lot of them are going to have that tea-party influence. A lot of the people who signed on to the pledge are new names. But I do think you're going to have the old GOP establishment trying to throw the brakes on it, much to their detriment and much to their shame.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's your intuition?
MR. PAGE: Our Defense budget should grow more slowly, by the way.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What are you going to put in your Chicago column? I think you've got a column here.
MR. PAGE: I do write a column, John, and a blog as well. I welcome you to --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, but I think you've got a column on this subject.
MR. PAGE: On this subject -- I forgot what our original question was. Now, no, on the Republicans --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Our original question: Are the incoming Democrats going to have a friendly --
MS. CROWLEY: No, GOP.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- takeover of -- MR. PAGE: GOP. I see more peace between Democrats and Republicans than within the Republican Party. I don't think it's going to be a smooth merger at all, because you've got a strong group of tea-party folks who are going to want to flex their elbows. And they always do that in the first year. Then they've got to start raising money for re-election and they'll calm down.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is there will be a constructive takeover.
Issue Three: Democrats' Dream Ticket in 2012?
Rumors are afoot that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may replace Vice President Joe Biden on a 2012 Obama-Clinton Democratic ticket. So what does Hillary think about the rumor?
SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON: (From videotape.) I have absolutely no interest and no reason for doing anything other than just dismissing these stories and moving on, because there's just no -- we have no time. We have so much to do. And I think both of us are very happy doing what we're doing.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the likelihood of the takeover?
MS. CLIFT: They pretty much squelched it.
MS. CROWLEY: To me --
MS. CLIFT: They pretty much squelched it this week. It's humiliating to Joe Biden. And besides, if she wants to be president, she'd be much better off staying at secretary of State because she doesn't have to own the whole Obama agenda. And she's got a good shot at being named to replace --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How can they --
MS. CLIFT: -- Secretary Gates at the Defense Department when he steps down sometime next year.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How can the Democrats be certain about maintaining the presidency --
MR. BUCHANAN: They've got to invigorate the ticket, John, and that's exactly right. She brings what? She brings women. She brings white folks. She brings the folks in Pennsylvania and Ohio and West Virginia, Kentucky, that voted Barama -- Obama. (Laughter.) But here's the thing. It is too ideal not to be on the table if Obama's in trouble.
MS. CROWLEY: There is zero chance this is going to happen, for two reasons. One, no president likes to admit that they made a huge mistake in selecting a vice president. He's not going to dump Biden. But number two, Hillary Clinton is not going for second banana again. She was second banana under her husband, second banana under Barack Obama. She's not doing it again. She's going for the tough job or bust in 2012. Mark my words.
MR. PAGE: She was not vice president. She was --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And she'll be young enough to do it.
MS. CROWLEY: She's running for president.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is she, 60 years old?
MS. CROWLEY: She's about 64.
MR. BUCHANAN: She's 64, 65.
MS. CROWLEY: So she's running this time.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: She can do it and be younger than Ronald Reagan was when he ran for the first time for president.
MS. CROWLEY: You're thinking 2016. I'm saying she's running in 2012.
MR. BUCHANAN: She's going to run against Obama?
MS. CLIFT: No.
MR. PAGE: I don't think it will be necessary for Obama to make that move, so I don't think it's on the table right now. Anything is possible in the future. But she is better off waiting till 2016.
MS. CLIFT: Right. And Joe Biden is actually doing a good job. He's not a mistake.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Four: Stuxnet.
RICHARD FALKENRATH (former security advisor to President George W. Bush): (From videotape.) The theory is, among the security experts, is that this took the resources of a nation-state to create a piece of malware this sophisticated.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The new weapon is Stuxnet. It is a malicious computer virus that damages interactions between computers and industrial-control centers. It is the first of its kind, and its potential for damaging industrial systems appears limitless. This virus is so complex that its origin cannot be traced. Experts are now calling this a new age of cyber warfare.
MR. FALKENRATH: (From videotape.) The techie people who analyze this think it's one of the most sophisticated pieces of malware they've ever seen. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Stuxnet has infected systems in Iran, China, India and Indonesia. Iran has suffered the brunt of the cyber attacks. Sixty percent of infected locations are in Iran. Stuxnet has infiltrated Iran's nuclear power plant in Bushehr. Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman pointed the finger at the West. He said that for years both the U.S. and Israel have wanted to sabotage Iran's nuclear program.
But experts say that it is unlikely that the U.S. would unleash Stuxnet, assuming we have not.
MR. FALKENRATH: (From videotape.) For the U.S. government to launch a piece of malware like this against industrial systems is a very risky thing to do, because it can't really be controlled.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: History reminds us how vulnerable our society is to viral warfare. In 2007, Russia launched a simple cyber virus on Estonia. It incapacitated national banks, broadcasting centers, government agencies. They were forced to shut down.
Question: The Iran nuclear reactor has been shut down for, quote-unquote, "repairs." Did Stuxnet do it? And, if so, were the Brits responsible, the Israelis responsible, the U.S. responsible? Or was it just a vagrant hacker? Do you have any intuition on this?
MR. PAGE: If I tell you, John, I'd have to self-destruct in five seconds. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right through the chair, huh?
MR. PAGE: No, I don't know who did it, but I love to speculate. It's really great. You know, I mean, you could guess that -- I mean, China, for example, has rooms full of young cyber punks working at this sort of stuff 24 hours a day. Wouldn't it be really devious, say, to deliberately send a lot of viruses into Iran so that it would be blamed on Israel or the U.S.? I'm just speculating now. But there's all kinds of really dangerous possibilities.
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Cyber warfare is big. It's big enough so that the assistant secretary of Defense wrote an article, an essay, in Foreign Affairs talking about cyber warfare. There was no mention of Stuxnet, but it was a clear exposition of the role that the Pentagon is assigning to cyber warfare --
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- which is huge. MR. PAGE: They're on the defensive already, because they're getting millions of hits a day from mysterious attempts to try to break into the Pentagon's computer system, as well as CIA, et cetera, et cetera. And they're coming from all over the world.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, there's no doubt --
MS. CLIFT: What was different --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let Eleanor in, Pat.
MS. CLIFT: What was different about this virus is the level of sophistication. It really does feel like a glimpse into the future and what cyber warfare could accomplish. If something like this were directed against the U.S. electrical grid, I mean, the fallout would be -- would dwarf 9/11, with people getting trapped in elevators in -- I mean, we're so reliant on an electricity-fueled culture.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mmm-hmm.
MS. CLIFT: This is terrifying.
MR. BUCHANAN: The United States has a different --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.
MR. BUCHANAN: There's no doubt that we have been deliberately attempting to sabotage what's going on at Natanz, where they've got all the centrifuges for the --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is Iran.
MR. BUCHANAN: This is Iran, enriched uranium. I would doubt that we're doing the Bushehr plant.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Bushehr.
MR. BUCHANAN: And my guess would be it was probably the Israelis.
MS. CROWLEY: We are so vulnerable. My home computer this week got hit with a virus, and it corrupted the entire hard drive and shut the whole thing down.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think it was Stuxnet?
MS. CROWLEY: And it sent me back to the stone age, so you can imagine what would happen on a broader scale. Eleanor is right. I think we're most vulnerable on the electrical grid, which would literally put the United States back and put our military forces also --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Keep your eye open. MS. CROWLEY: -- which is run on electricity, very vulnerable.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Keep your windows shut, then, and keep your eye open for Stuxnet.
MS. CLIFT: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Pat.
MR. BUCHANAN: A real deadlock of democracy coming up in the spring, John; not simply this war inside the GOP. Liberal Republicans -- I mean Democrats -- are not going to come back and cut their own social programs. So I just don't know where the cuts are going to come. And I think everybody's going to be in total gridlock.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that the prediction?
MR. BUCHANAN: Yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: Democrat Joe Manchin is going to pull ahead in West Virginia on the strength of the Republicans creating an ad, sending out a casting call for hicks to play West Virginia residents --
MR. BUCHANAN: It's pulled. (Laughs.)
MS. CLIFT: -- misspelling John Deere tractors, and then filming the ad in Philadelphia. (Laughter.) The whole thing was staged.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.
MS. CROWLEY: That ad has been pulled.
Okay, on election day, three states will be holding referenda on Obamacare: Colorado, Oklahoma and Arizona. I predict that the voters in all three states will overwhelmingly vote to opt out of key provisions of Obamacare --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Inaudible.)
MS. CROWLEY: -- just like Missouri did by 71 percent.
MR. PAGE: There's another election coming right after the midterms, and I predict that neither Barack Obama nor Richard M. Daley will endorse in this mayoral race coming up because it is so divisive.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, brace for impact: I predict that Hillary Clinton will become president of the United States.
Bye-bye. MS. CLIFT: When?
MS. CROWLEY: When?