THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN PANEL: PATRICK BUCHANAN, MSNBC; ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK; MONICA CROWLEY, WASHINGTON TIMES; EZRA KLEIN, WASHINGTON POST TAPED: FRIDAY, MARCH 11, 2011 BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF MARCH 12-13, 2011
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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Intervene in Libya?
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: (From videotape.) Let me be clear again about what our policy, as determined by me, the president of the United States, is towards the situation there. I believe that Qadhafi is on the wrong side of history. I believe that the Libyan people are anxious for freedom and the removal of somebody who has suppressed them for decades now. And we are going to be in contact with the opposition as well as in consultation with the international community to try to achieve the goal of Mr. Qadhafi being removed from power.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Secretary of Defense Robert Gates' view on intervening in the Middle East. DEFENSE SECRETARY ROBERT GATES: (From videotape.) Any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should have his head examined.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Intervention. The United States has a notable history of it. In the past two decades, America has intervened militarily on foreign land and on foreign oceans -- Kuwait, Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq.
This Sunday, in fact, March 20th, is the eighth anniversary of the U.S. shock-and-awe bombing of Iraq. On March 20, 2003, the U.S. invaded Iraq under the assumption that the president of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, had weapons of mass destruction. Here is former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld describing them.
FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY DONALD RUMSFELD: (From videotape.) What happened was that everyone agreed, the U.N., that he had stockpiles and he had the ability in a matter of weeks to have weapons of mass destruction.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The ongoing press coverage of Libya has eclipsed the coverage of the ongoing war in Afghanistan. This Sunday is the eighth anniversary of the Iraq war. In the Afghanistan war, the number of U.S. troops that have been killed to date is 1,496. In the Iraq war, the number of U.S. troops that have been killed is 4,439. In the dollar calculus, the Afghanistan war and the Iraq war combined have cost the U.S. in excess of $1 trillion. One trillion is one thousand billion. One billion is one thousand million.
Question: Does President Obama have a policy on Libya? And, if so, can you describe it? Pat Buchanan.
MR. BUCHANAN: Yes, he does. He wants Qadhafi to go, but it's going to be multilateral. It's not going to be unilateral. It's going to be with the U.N. It's going to be with NATO. It's going to be with the Arab League and all the rest of it. And we're not going to lead. This is not our war.
But the dramatic thing you put up there, John, was that statement by the secretary of defense, Robert Gates, who presided over the surge in Afghanistan and the surge in Iraq. What he is saying is any American president who presides over another war like these two, in effect, unnecessary, costly, devastating wars ought to have his head examined.
Gates has learned something, I think, from history. What he's saying is we ought not to intervene massively in this part of the world again. I agree with him 100 percent. I think what he's saying, John, is those who opposed the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were right, and the interventionists were wrong. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is President Obama's policy clear enough to you on Libya?
MS. CLIFT: I think it's evolved, just as the situation in Libya has evolved. And I think the administration sees Libya as a piece of the whole, and the whole region is really what they're looking at. And I think Secretary Gates has been quite outspoken in warning about the involvement of a no-fly zone, which a lot of people have suggested might be kind of an easy way for the West to inject ourselves into Libya and come down on the side of the people. And Gates has really said that that would be an act of war, because you'd have to start by bombing the airfields.
I think it's clear that this president does not want to get America involved in what could be another war and that he doesn't want America to be in the front in a situation, in Libya in particular, where the Europeans have much more on the line than America does. And there's so much anti-American sentiment that by putting America in the forefront, you simply aid and abet Qadhafi's paranoia that this is really just a plot to steal their oil.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We have frozen, under President Obama's instruction, Libyan assets. We have also gained from the United Nations a ruling on this -- not a ruling, but a message from them, which is quite comprehensive. Do you think that's an achievement? Plus the fact that we are no longer doing business with the embassy, even though it is not a rupture of --
MS. CROWLEY: Of diplomatic relations.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- diplomatic relations.
MS. CROWLEY: Yeah. Look, to be fair to President Obama -- and I've been very critical of him on pretty much everything -- but to be fair to him, I think he's looking at the Libyan situation through a very pragmatic lens. And he's saying, which is a question that every American president should ask themselves before they commit American troops abroad, does the situation involve America's national-security interests, yes or no?
The argument on Libya could go both ways. I understand what some interventionists are calling for, that this is a humanitarian crisis. There's a moral obligation to protect the Libyan people. They are an oil producer. We have some economic interests there.
But on the other hand, there may be elements to this that we don't know yet, John, which is, over the last couple of days, the unrest in the Middle East has spread to Saudi Arabia, Iran; the unrest continues there. Those are the two big enchiladas in the Middle East and Persian Gulf region.
What Obama may be calculating is he cannot commit our resources, naval and air and otherwise, to Libya if these two other big kahunas, Saudi Arabia and Iran, really blow up. Then those resources are going to be needed elsewhere.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on, Ezra. I want to get this in.
Okay, the U.S. secretary of state.
SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON: (From videotape.) Absent international authorization, the United States acting alone would be stepping into a situation whose consequences are unforeseeable. And we're looking to see whether there is any willingness in the international community to provide any authorization for further step.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, that has moved the definition of his policy, Obama's policy, a little bit further forward. Correct? Do you see us taking a sharper definition with that injection of the secretary of state?
MR. KLEIN: There is a clear argument there that they would like to try to find multilateral support for something. What that something is remains quite unclear. I would agree with essentially everything my co-panelists have said and add only that I think you could sum up their policy in two words: Be careful. Don't get into anything you can't get out of. Don't get into anything that is far beyond what the American people are expecting.
And what scares me when I look at how we're reacting to this is there's a lot of wishful thinking on what we can do in Libya. The other day the director of national intelligence, Colonel Clapper, testified, I believe in the Senate, and it was not a favorable testimony to what people would like to believe will happen there. He said he thought Qadhafi's forces would ultimately prevail.
Lindsey Graham called for him to be fired, to resign, over that. I think it's very important that we do not try to enter any foreign entanglements based on wishful thinking. We need to know what is actually going on, not wishful thinking.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Has the Senate Foreign Relations Committee also got rather a bleak view of how long and how successful we can be, if successful in Afghanistan?
MR. KLEIN: The end -- you brought up at the beginning of the show here, we've been in Iraq for eight years. We've been in Afghanistan for more. We do not look at those conflicts now with the same bright-eyed optimism we had at the beginning. And these are not old lessons. We should be learning them all. I am not a Libya expert. I'm not saying whether we should go in or not. But we should be very careful, and we should not do things --
MR. BUCHANAN: This is --
MR. KLEIN: -- based on what we want to do.
MR. BUCHANAN: This is a defeat for the neoconservatives. It's a defeat for John McCain, it's a defeat for Lindsey Graham, and it's a defeat for Joe Lieberman, who were pushing for a no-fly zone, which ultimately would have gotten us in there taking down his aircraft. And then if he uses his tanks, they would say, "Go after the tanks" --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.
MR. BUCHANAN: -- and we'd be in there. Obama doesn't want to go in. I don't think Hillary wants to go in. Gates certainly does not want to go in. So this is a victory, I think, for the anti- interventionists or the non-interventionists --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mm-hmm. (Acknowledging.)
MR. BUCHANAN: -- over those who say, once we're in trouble, America leads, and we pile in.
MS. CLIFT: I think it's too early --
MR. BUCHANAN: Pat, the hawks are in flight.
MS. CLIFT: Well --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Is the prevailing mood in the U.S. currently isolationist? Pat, you can speak to that with some authority.
MR. BUCHANAN: Neo-isolationist.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Neo-isolationist?
MR. BUCHANAN: I think --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The mood of the country.
MR. BUCHANAN: Let me be correct. It is anti-interventionist.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's anti-interventionist. Not bad.
What do you think?
MS. CLIFT: I think it's too early to say this is a loss for John McCain and the others -- MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Come on, Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: -- because they've got AWACS over Libya. If this turns into more of a humanitarian disaster where it seems to spill into something that looks like Rwanda, where you have Qadhafi really holding on to power --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.
MS. CLIFT: -- and killing people by the tens of thousands, then I think there's still a possibility that the West may intervene. We're not at that point.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, one of the --
MS. CLIFT: But I think the situation over there is so fluid, to declare victory for one side or the other is just -- you know, I think it's foolish.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What are these AWACSes? Is that a kind of hawk, or what?
MR. BUCHANAN: No. (Laughs.) They listen.
MS. CLIFT: It's somebody who sits on Sunday panels on TV. (Laughter.)
MS. CROWLEY: It's AWACS -- surveillance technology.
No, I don't think we're neo-isolationists. I think that if American national-security interests really were at stake, the American people would rally behind the commander in chief, should he see intervention to be appropriate. But I think that the American people now are very wary about getting in bed with certain parts of the Arab world or Muslim world.
We have no idea who these opposition leaders are in Libya. A lot of them are Muslim Brotherhood. A lot of them are Islamists. The American people are saying, "Wait a minute. Barack Obama may be correct about this. Let's not side with the opposition until we know exactly who the opposition is."
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why don't we really face up to it? The nation is drifting isolationist. Yes or no?
MS. CROWLEY: I don't think so. I just said no.
MR. KLEIN: I don't know that we can --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I didn't get no out of that. MR. KLEIN: I don't know that we can say it's isolationist, given that we are currently in two other wars. I mean, we continue funding them. We have troops overseas. They're dying.
So I think that we are trying to be mindful of our capacities here. And, like Eleanor, I don't think -- I'm not ready to say we won't end up in Libya, but I think --
MR. BUCHANAN: But we're also getting out --
MR. KLEIN: -- people are right to be careful.
MR. BUCHANAN: We're also getting out.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If mind your own business is a proper phrasing of where the country is, let's mind our own business. Let's consolidate.
MS. CLIFT: No, no. The president is --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If that's where we are, it's drifting towards isolationism.
Issue Two: Walker Wins Wisconsin.
WISCONSIN GOVERNOR SCOTT WALKER (R): (From videotape.) At some point the public wants us to move forward. We have a process that was passed in the senate last night that will allow us to move forward.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Public-sector unions in Wisconsin this week were stripped of almost all of their collective bargaining rights. The Wisconsin senate voted 18 to 1 yea, and the House voted 53 to 42 yea.
Three central provisions are now Wisconsin law, directly affecting public-sector union members: One, collective bargaining; no collective bargaining for public-sector wage increases beyond the rate of inflation. Two, pension pay-in; public-sector union members will contribute more to their retirement pensions. Three, health insurance; public-sector union members will pay twice as much for health insurance coverage than they are currently paying. These stipulations mean that public-sector union members will take an 8 percent decrease in their pay. More than 7,000 demonstrators flooded Wisconsin's capitol building to protect this bill this week.
Question: How big a victory is this for Governor Walker? Eleanor Clift. MS. CLIFT: It's a Pyrrhic victory. He won in his union busting, because the way they got this through is they decoupled the budget part from the effort to strip most of the collective bargaining rights, and they passed it, you know, in the dark of night. And you had some legislators climbing through the windows in order to try to get to vote.
And the polls in the state and across the country show Americans, by two to one, really don't approve of treating unions this way. So he wins the short term, but he's energized a labor movement that has really been sleeping for the last 30 years. And I think there could be a real backlash to what he's done. He looked --
MR. BUCHANAN: It is a gigantic victory, John.
MS. CLIFT: -- totally unyielding, ideological, very different from Mitch Daniels in Indiana, who quietly did this six years ago. And Mitch Daniels, I think, is a credible presidential candidate --
MS. CROWLEY: And got re-elected. (Laughs.)
MS. CLIFT: -- whereas Walker looks like a zealot.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, is this a defining moment for Walker?
MR. BUCHANAN: It's defining for Walker and it's defining for the country for this reason. Obama got into it right up to his ears. He declared they're trying -- there's an assault upon the unions. He had his organization working it. They had massive demonstrations in the capitol, chanting, beating drums. They had the state legislators leave.
It's a big battle in the country. Everybody's watching it. No doubt Walker got himself hurt a little bit in the battle. But John, he won this thing. Mayors and governors across America are looking at this, because at the state level, pay and benefits for public employees, that's the big problem. You don't deal with that, you don't solve the problem.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: By Obama getting into it, did he hype the stature of Walker?
MR. BUCHANAN: Enormously. He brought Walker up to a level --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Because Walker prevailed over Obama.
MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that --
MS. CROWLEY: And now -- MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- a mistake on Obama's part?
MR. BUCHANAN: You've stumbled into the truth, John.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are we going to see Walker in another formulation, say, two years from now?
MS. CLIFT: Come on.
MR. BUCHANAN: He will be talked about as a vice presidential candidate if --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why stop there? Why stop there?
MS. CLIFT: Pitch your little cabal here and let the voice of reason to my left shed a little light on this.
MR. KLEIN: I'll let Monica go first and then I will give my --
MS. CROWLEY: Well, thank you, Ezra; very gentlemanly of you.
Look, a couple of months ago, in November, Governor Walker was elected on the platform of bringing Wisconsin's fiscal house in order; not just that, but in the statehouse and in the state senate, 60 percent of them got elected as Republicans on this very platform.
He is instantly now a national figure because he not only won this battle, but the lesson of Mitch Daniels is, as Eleanor points out, he did this six years ago where he essentially eliminated most collective bargaining for government unions. Six years ago, Indiana was in a shambles. Mitch Daniels has turned that state around. He restored the balance between the government-sector unions and the private sector.
The taxpayers -- this is a huge victory for taxpayers as well. Taxpayers in Indiana got protected. And you know what? Mitch Daniels soared to 60 percent job approval and he got re-elected --
MS. CLIFT: Let's get the --
MS. CROWLEY: -- and he is now a presidential candidate.
MR. KLEIN: I think that --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is Walker's victory a defeat for Obama?
MR. KLEIN: I think that is a very strange Washington way to look at it. Number one, before we start talking about Walker's victory, ask me in four years if he's won. His poll numbers are down. He massively enraged a large union, a large progressive movement. He went from being popular to being unpopular. I think Democrats won a big victory when they got health care reform passed, but it didn't help them in the next election. And I think it is very likely Walker and the Republicans in Wisconsin are going to find something very similar.
Now, where I agree with Pat is that this is a big substantive victory for not only Republicans in Wisconsin, but Republicans nationwide. If this keeps happening, Democrats lose an important source of support.
The counter to that is that it reminds -- is that it mobilized unions, reknit their connection with the progressive movement, students and others, and there is -- and brought a lot of money and attention to this issue. It reminded a lot of Americans what they like about them.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, the --
MR. KLEIN: So the question is whether or not this becomes a beginning of a restoration for unions.
MS. CLIFT: And how did we go -- how did we go in two years from being enraged at Wall Street and the hedge-market folks to blaming school teachers and snow-plow drivers for the problems that government is in? The unions in Wisconsin gave --
MS. CROWLEY: Because the states are broke.
MS. CLIFT: Excuse me. The unions --
MS. CROWLEY: The states are broke.
MS. CLIFT: Excuse me. The unions in Wisconsin gave in on the pension and the health benefits. This was about the union busting. And the way that this governor went about doing it should come back to haunt him. And there's probably going to be a recall effort in the numbers of the legislators.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to get back to my point about how the prestige of the presidency has been lowered by Obama and how his own prestige -- he got in at the state level. He lost to a governor. Is it presidential to get into the fray --
MR. BUCHANAN: John, he made a mistake --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- in a state?
MR. BUCHANAN: He made a mistake when he came out and said, "This is an assault on unions."
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right. MR. BUCHANAN: The very day he did that, suddenly the demonstrators --
MR. KLEIN: Do you think he wasn't right, though?
MR. BUCHANAN: -- go into the capitol --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, what difference does that make?
MS. CLIFT: It makes a big difference.
MR. BUCHANAN: His organization got into it. His prestige was involved. His basic contributors --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.
MR. BUCHANAN: -- were involved. They all --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is wrong --
MS. CLIFT: So the Republicans --
MR. KLEIN: What is the mechanism by which this would have been a win?
MS. CLIFT: So the Republicans --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did he rally labor and did he score points in that direction?
MR. BUCHANAN: Yes, but he did not --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did he weigh what he was doing --
MR. BUCHANAN: He didn't follow through.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- the negative and the positive, and he --
MR. BUCHANAN: Then he backed off. When it got bad, he backed off and ran away.
MS. CLIFT: The Republicans get to play politics but the Democrats don't? You don't think this was a Republican power play?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm going to let you in to answer all of this.
MS. CROWLEY: Okay.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Here is one of Wisconsin's senate Democrats speaking from his quorum-busting hideaway in Illinois, who did, in fact, bust the quorum. But the quorum was not required, as it turned out, but he lost the vote; Senator David Hansen. WISCONSIN STATE SENATOR DAVID HANSEN (D): (From videotape.) What we have done, I think, is started a movement, not only in Wisconsin but throughout this country, people standing up for workers' rights.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Republican Scott Walker accused the absent senators of dodging their democratic duties.
GOV. WALKER: (From videotape.) The fact of the matter is we live in a democracy. And to participate in a democracy, you've got to be in the arena. And the arena is not in Rockford. It's not in Freeport. It's not in Chicago. It's in Madison, Wisconsin.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does Walker look any better to you now, Ezra?
MR. KLEIN: From the clip? No. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No?
MR. KLEIN: No. What's it supposed to be --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't think he's very much in command of the situation?
MR. KLEIN: I think anybody could give a speech. I would put this question to the panel, because I think it gets to this question we're asking about Obama, which I think, frankly, is a bit of a weird question. Is Obama more or less likely to win Wisconsin in two years? I will put money now that he is more. I will say that Democrats are vastly more activated. There's vastly more money and attention there. Unions are going to get tons of money --
MS. CROWLEY: I would answer that by saying --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What kind of money do you want to put on it?
MS. CROWLEY: I would answer that by saying it depends what kind of results Walker gets --
MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah.
MS. CROWLEY: -- out of this kind of maneuver. What we saw -- John Engler in Michigan --
MS. CROWLEY: Hold on. What we have seen with track records of Republican governors who have gone in and taken on government unions, cut spending and reined in government is that those public finances turn around, the state does better creating jobs --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's -- MR. KLEIN: (Inaudible.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, wait a minute. Let's get out on --
MS. CROWLEY: And that means that actually Obama's chances are reduced in Wisconsin.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to know whether Governor Walker's political star is waning or waxing.
MR. BUCHANAN: Governor Walker, with John Kasich of Ohio and Chris Christie of New Jersey, has risen as a potential choice for vice president, depending on Ezra's point. If his polls can come back and he looks like he can win Wisconsin for the Republicans, he will be right up there --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.
MR. BUCHANAN: -- for VP.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.
MS. CLIFT: Well, those were a lot of ifs.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Waxing or waning, quickly.
MS. CLIFT: Waning. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Waning.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)
MS. CROWLEY: Waxing for sure. This is the battle, and he has won it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Waxing or waning?
MR. KLEIN: Let's see what Wisconsin looks like in a few years.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, come on, Ezra.
MR. BUCHANAN: Come on, Ezra.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Waxing or waning right now, at this moment in time?
MR. BUCHANAN: Waxing. MR. KLEIN: I think he himself looks like a zealot, and he lost the PR battle hugely. But he won a policy victory.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He looks like a zealot? He looks very controlled to me.
MR. KLEIN: I don't know what control and zealot -- I mean, lots of zealots are in control. I think we can look at other countries and say that.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A controlled zealot. Well, how do you characterize that, other than that?
I will say his star is waxing, and I think he can be seriously considered for the ticket someplace two years from now.
Issue Three: Islam on Trial?
REP. PETER KING (R-NY): (From videotape.) We must be fully aware that homegrown radicalization is part of al Qaeda's strategy to continue attacking the United States. Al Qaeda is actively targeting the American Muslim community through recruitment. Today's hearing will address this dangerous trend.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The U.S. House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee conducted a congressional hearing this week on the subject of radical Islam -- not radical Islam in the Middle East; radical Islam in the United States, namely the threat of homegrown terrorism among Muslim men residing in the United States, the same population that the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, Peter King, fictionalized in a novel the chairman wrote titled "Veil of Tears."
In his opening remarks, the chairman cited several Muslim terrorist plotters, including Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad, Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan, and New York City subway bomber Najibullah Zazi. The 18-year representative of Long Island, New York's 13th congressional district, dismissed calls to cancel the hearing.
REP. KING: (From videotape.) To back down would be a craven surrender to political correctness and an abdication of what I believe to be the main responsibility of this committee, to protect America from a terrorist attack.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Critics of the hearing said that the hearings would unfairly, quote, "stigmatize," unquote, the Muslim-American community; among those critics, Minnesota Democratic Congressman Keith Ellison. Ellison is the first Muslim congressman in U.S. history. He testified before the King committee and described a paramedic of the Muslim faith who was killed in the 9/11 attack. REP. KEITH ELLISON (D-MN): (From videotape.) Some people spread false rumors and speculated that he was in league with the attackers because he was a Muslim. But it was only when his remains were identified that these lies were exposed.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Were King's hearings inflammatory, or were they responsible and ably adjudicated? I ask you, Ezra.
MR. KLEIN: They were inflammatory, and particularly -- we want to be clear about what we're arguing here. The name and direction of the hearings, where it's not a problem to look at radicalization in America, not a problem to look at threats to the homeland, but King's hearings were about, quote, "the Muslim community." And it is appalling to suggest there's something wrong with the Muslim community in America. These people are Americans, as Representative Ellison said. King should be careful. He can have his hearings on the same topic, but he needs to be careful about who he indicts and what he is talking about.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think about that?
MS. CROWLEY: Congressman King was very careful about talking about this was not a sweeping indictment of all Muslims.
MR. KLEIN: Why did Muslims think it was, then?
MS. CROWLEY: And, by the way, we have had numerous, over the last few years, numerous congressional hearings on radicalization here in the United States. Peter King's hearings this week were not the first one.
MR. KLEIN: But --
MS. CROWLEY: According to --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let her finish.
MS. CROWLEY: According to Obama's own Justice Department, there has been a class one terrorism case involving a direct link between American citizens and foreign terrorists or terrorist groups on average every two weeks since January of 2009. The attorney general, the secretary of homeland security, Janet Napolitano, have all said that this kind of radicalization are the threats that keep them awake at night. Eighty percent of all terror convictions in the United States since 9/11 have involved radical Islamists.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CROWLEY: The threat is here, and we ought not to ignore it.
MS. CLIFT: The problem is that Peter King did not come to this with clean hands. He was one of the people who was most outspoken against the cultural center that was proposed for Lower Manhattan. And, of course, his own backing for what was once considered a terrorist group, the IRA, also made some of his passion on this issue a little suspect.
But the hearings themselves were not nearly as inflammatory as the buildup. And what everyone will remember is Congressman Ellison's very emotional testimony.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.
MS. CLIFT: And that was a good thing.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Pat.
MR. BUCHANAN: Gates will be gone a lot sooner than later.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: President Obama will not dip into the strategic petroleum reserve to ease gas prices.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.
MS. CROWLEY: Republicans will call for the immediate but temporary suspension of the 18.4 cent per-gallon gas tax, federal gas tax.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Ezra.
MR. KLEIN: The recovery is going to get shaky as the world economy's recovery gets shaky.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I predict that Leon Panetta, currently the head of the CIA, will succeed current Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and General David Petraeus will become director of the CIA.