THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP PANEL: PATRICK BUCHANAN, MSNBC; ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK; MONICA CROWLEY, WASHINGTON TIMES; MORTIMER ZUCKERMAN, U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT TAPED: FRIDAY, APRIL 1, 2011 BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF APRIL 2-3, 2011
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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Libya Diary.
ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN (NATO secretary general): (From videotape.) NATO allies have decided to take on the whole military operation in Libya under the United Nations Security Council resolution. NATO will implement all aspects of the U.N. resolution -- nothing more, nothing less.
The Libyan intervention was originally shouldered by coalition forces -- the United States, France and Britain. This week the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO, took over command. A Canadian will head the mission -- Lieutenant General Charles Bouchard.
Canada and seven additional nations will now contribute air and/or naval support. Alphabetically: Canada, seven CF-18 bombers; Denmark, six F-16 fighter jets; Greece, one frigate ship, four military bases; Italy, 12 warplanes; Norway, six F-16s; Romania, one frigate; Turkey, five warships, one submarine; the U.S., eight warships, three submarines, two guided missile destroyers, plus F-15 and F-16 fighter jets. Non-NATO nations also have offered jets: Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Sweden.
When NATO took control this week, a prominent official in the Libyan regime fled to the U.K. -- Gadhafi's foreign secretary, aka his secretary of state, Moussa Koussa. British Foreign Secretary William Hague confirmed it Thursday.
WILLIAM HAGUE (British foreign secretary): (From videotape.) The Libyan foreign minister, Moussa Koussa, arrived at Farnborough Airport yesterday from Tunisia. His resignation shows that Gadhafi's regime, which has already seen significant defections to the opposition, is fragmented, under pressure, and crumbling from within.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Secretary Moussa Koussa had worked for Libya's foreign service for over 30 years. He was joined within hours by Ali Abdussalam Treki as the highest-ranking officials in the Gadhafi government to defect. Treki was Libyan foreign minister in the 1970s and just finished his term as president of the United Nations General Assembly last September.
Question: Has President Obama stated a clear goal for Libya and a clear exit strategy? Pat Buchanan.
MR. BUCHANAN: No, he has not, John. He is all over the lot. Initially we were told that we were going in to protect civilians against a purported atrocity about to happen in Benghazi. And so we attacked Libyan soldiers and killed them in enormous numbers over a crime they had not yet committed.
But the real objective here is regime change now. That's why you're firing cruise missiles at various towns and cities, at Gadhafi's compound. That's why you're killing his soldiers. That's why you're enraging these tribes. And, quite frankly, they're the key to this, John. These tribes, if they break with Gadhafi, the two biggest tribes, if they break with him, he is a goner.
And so the regime change is the objective the country has gotten, but it's going to take a while to get there, and it may take an awful lot more killing. And once you are there, what do you have? I mean, you have a Libya which is no army, no government. The rebels can't win this war. They had the fastest retreat in history. I think the president has got himself into something and he doesn't know exactly how we're going to get out.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, the president's goal is Gadhafi must go. Is that correct? MS. CLIFT: Well, it was a humanitarian mission at the outset. And then there's a political goal that's embraced not only by the president, but the president of France and the prime minister of England have all said the same thing, that Gadhafi must go, and to accomplish that by continuing to degrade Gadhafi's military. But more appropriately, I think, the cracks are coming in the regime in Tripoli by the two defections that you cited.
And while the rebels are a ragtag band and I don't think they're going to be able to win on the ground, Gadhafi's army is fourth-rate at the best. And I think that a representative of one of his sons was reportedly in London talking about a possible, you know, exit plan for the family.
So I think this is a work in progress, and I think that it could end successfully, but it might not end anytime real soon. And I think, in the 24/7 cable news culture, the president is going to hear an awful lot of overwrought commentary about loss of stature and about stalemate.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mm-hmm. (Acknowledging.)
MS. CLIFT: So this is far from over.
MS. CROWLEY: Very early on in this mission, we heard from the president and the secretary of defense, Robert Gates, that this mission would just take place over a series of days, not weeks. Now it's weeks, not months. And I think any time a president goes out with this kind of prediction, that kind of prediction comes back to haunt presidencies. We've seen it over and over again.
And I think what we're experiencing now is mission creep. And it's mission creep because initially it started as sort of a convoluted policy for humanitarian reasons, and now we have a full-on aerial-to-ground assault rather than strictly a no-fly zone.
They talked early on about "Gadhafi must go." You can't have a successful end game to this mission unless Gadhafi goes, because there are two worst-case scenarios for us. One is that Moammar Gadhafi hangs on to power and becomes entrenched in power. Now we've got a protracted stalemate. Now we're engaged over the long haul.
The second worst-case scenario is that Gadhafi does go; you get a power vacuum in Libya to be filled by God knows what. We don't know how this is going to end, but what we do know is that, over the last 40 years, the main opposition to Gadhafi has been the Muslim Brotherhood. We also know that over the last few years, al Qaeda, other Islamist groups, have been operating in the eastern part of Libya.
So, yes, there are some genuine reformers in this mixed bag of rebels, but if there is a power vacuum and nobody is prepared to really sort of guide this mission out of the current military operation, you could get a situation in Libya far worse than what we had with Moammar Gadhafi.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is there a lot of enthusiasm for regime change -- i.e., "Gadhafi must go" -- among the allies?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, if they are going to do anything at all about their principal mission, as they publicly stated it, which was to protect a certain part of the population, the only way they're going to be able to protect that part of the population over any period of time is for Gadhafi to go. So to separate the two of them made no sense from the very beginning. And they all know that.
The question is, how do you get Gadhafi to go, and under what circumstances and how quickly, if you can, because we saw when the rebels had to retreat 100 miles in one day. They made one advance and they were completely outmaneuvered and outgunned by Gadhafi's forces; that you do not have a force on the ground that's going to be able to defeat Gadhafi or his forces.
So I think we're faced with that situation. If we want to do anything, we've got to get rid of Gadhafi. That's going to take a lot more than what we have talked about.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, what it will take is more Moussas leaving his high command --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: If that happens --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- because if that happens, he's not going to be able to run a government. If that happens --
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- he's either got to go or he'll be killed.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: But it is a tribal society.
MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: And he's got a number of tribes who support him. They have no other place to go. MR. BUCHANAN: But the point is --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: He may lose some of his people. I don't think you will be able to destroy the effectiveness of his government.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the end game, Mort?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: The end game -- the only end game that I can see is to find some way to get Gadhafi out. And I don't see how we do that without further military involvement.
MR. BUCHANAN: Hey, John, there's another reason why he's got to go. If you leave him in there, his method of fighting back is to blow up airliners over the Atlantic Ocean. You will have a terrorist in power with real reason to get us back in that fashion.
Secondly, Mort is exactly right. This is a deeply tribalized society, and Gadhafi's power base rests on these various tribes who are with him. That is why we're doing all this bombing, because we're destroying the assets and the people of these tribes who basically just want to retain what they got. And eventually, if you break them, they will go and say, "You've got to get out of here, because everything we've got is going up in flames."
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, the only way it can be engineered is by stripping him of his high command.
MS. CROWLEY: Defections.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If he's stripped of his high command, he's not going to be able to do much harm --
MS. CLIFT: Well, and you can --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- outside his own country.
MS. CLIFT: And you can do that --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: But you can't --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He has a pro-Gadhafi element in his society, which is big.
MR. BUCHANAN: His high command are his sons, and they may be convinced at some point, "Look, we are going to die here or we get out of here."
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that a succession possibility?
MS. CLIFT: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: His sons aren't going to take over. They may leave with him. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I mean, if he -- if he quits --
MR. BUCHANAN: If --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If he resigns, will the sons take over?
MR. BUCHANAN: This is the problem.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do the sons have any standing?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: No.
MR. BUCHANAN: This is the problem. If he quits, there is nothing in place to take over, and that's when people are going to say --
MS. CLIFT: The family --
MR. BUCHANAN: -- "Where are the Marines?"
MS. CLIFT: The family is a package deal, and the sons are young and they want to live. And there are financial incentives. And I think that's what the allies are counting on to put the squeeze on Gadhafi.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, all of the sons --
MS. CLIFT: And that would be the happiest ending we could find.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All of the sons' bankroll has been taken along by the international community. They've taken control of that. They're not eligible for a dime right now.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: They had $35 billion in the United States alone --
MS. CLIFT: In one bank.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- that we have taken control of.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: And we're not talking petty cash here.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, that includes the offspring.
Exit question: In Libya, has President Obama bitten off more than he can chew? Yes or no? Pat Buchanan. MR. BUCHANAN: Yes, he has, because he doesn't know the end game. And the end game may require boots on the ground in Libya. And whose boots are they going to be?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: I think he's handling it quite well. There may be boots on the ground eventually. They will not be American boots. The allies will have to pony up for that one if that's where this is headed.
MS. CROWLEY: He seems very reluctant to talk about regime change, lest he look too much like President George W. Bush. But that's what we're engaged in here, because he knows that any other outcome is going to be very bad for the United States. But I don't think they're prepared for any of the outcomes, John. And this administration has not talked about Libya in the greater context of what's going on in the broader Middle East.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about NATO just dropping a bomb right on Gadhafi's compound?
MR. BUCHANAN: They did that.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: They've tried that.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you mean, they've tried it?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yeah.
MR. BUCHANAN: They put a cruise missile right on his head.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: It was a cruise missile.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, I'm talking about --
MS. CLIFT: He wasn't there.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- our overhead flights.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Listen, anything is possible. I don't think that that -- let me put it this way.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What happens in the international community --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I suspect that he will not be --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- if that occurs? MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- letting you know where he's sleeping from night to night.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is Libya a sovereign state --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, it's a sovereign state.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- right now?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Of course it is.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK. At what point does Barack Obama have to seek a declaration of war?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's a good question.
MS. CLIFT: Oh, we're nowhere near that.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: And I don't think we're -- I don't think we're anywhere near that position.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, I do not.
MS. CLIFT: No. No.
MR. BUCHANAN: He's fighting an illegal war.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: At what point does he have to cross before he -- in anticipating that he has to get a declaration from Congress?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: My recollection is that he had something like 30 or 60 days in which --
MR. BUCHANAN: Sixty days.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it 60 days?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Sixty days.
MR. BUCHANAN: But this was --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And then he can prolong it to 90.
MR. BUCHANAN: No, John, this was an attack on a country that didn't attack us, didn't threaten us. He's fighting an illegal and unconstitutional war. And Congress --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: At this time?
MR. BUCHANAN: And Congress will not stand up to him except for people like Dennis Kucinich. MS. CLIFT: He's not --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What did Lyndon Johnson do?
MS. CLIFT: He's not doing anything --
MR. BUCHANAN: He got the Tonkin Gulf resolution.
MS. CLIFT: He's not doing anything --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. When did that become necessary?
MR. BUCHANAN: 1964.
MS. CLIFT: He's not doing anything that previous presidents did when they engaged in this sort of limited military action. And (he has ?) U.N. sanctions. So you can scream all you want about it being --
MS. CROWLEY: That is true.
MS. CLIFT: -- an unauthorized war. He is on firm legal ground --
MS. CROWLEY: That is true.
MS. CLIFT: -- and political ground.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But he cannot get away with assassinating -- the equivalent of assassinating a head of state of a sovereign state --
MR. BUCHANAN: That's what he tried to do.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- without a declaration of war.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Oh, no.
MS. CLIFT: No, no, no. That's not --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: They are going to do it. We've got --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think we're going to do it.
MR. BUCHANAN: Reagan tried to kill him.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: If they have any way of doing it, they will do it. And, by the way, they should do it.
MR. BUCHANAN: Reagan tried to kill him, John. MS. CLIFT: And he got his daughter instead. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think it's too early to tell whether he's bitten off more than he can chew.
Issue Two: The Right to be Wrong.
ALICE RIVLIN (debt commission member): (From videotape.) We've got to get past this squabbling over the federal budget for this fiscal year. That's just a squabble.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Republicans and Democrats continued to squabble this week over the 2011 fiscal budget. The federal government is running on a temporary spending bill which will expire on April 8, next Friday. If Democrats and Republicans don't reach an agreement by then, that will lead to a federal government shutdown, the first shutdown in 15 years. The parties have squabbled over spending cuts, how deep and what to cut. The White House this week said both parties now agree on the first question -- how deep? Thirty-three billion dollars deep.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney is optimistic.
JAY CARNEY (White House press secretary): (From videotape.) We believe that there is ample reason to be optimistic that common ground can be found, as long as all sides roll up their sleeves and get to work.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But the tea party says these spending cuts are not enough. House tea party caucus leader Michele Bachmann wants the budget bill to include language to defund "Obamacare." If "Obamacare" is not defunded, Bachmann says, she will not vote to pass the whole multitrillion-dollar budget that keeps the entire federal government running. And repeat -- Chairwoman Bachmann heads the tea party caucus.
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN): (From videotape.) I will not, because I'm going to fight on this issue, because the American people want us to. Sixty-two percent of the American people, Greta, more than at any other time since "Obamacare" passed, want us to get rid of this bill.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: In addition to removing all funds to implement "Obamacare," what else does the GOP want defunded in this budget? Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: They want to defund Planned Parenthood, public radio, Pell grants, and the U.S. Institute of Peace. And they're especially interested in attaching what's called a rider that would render neutral various EPA requirements. Actually, that one may survive, because a lot of Democrats don't like those requirements as well.
But "Obamacare" is not going to -- not going to be defunded. That one will not survive. And I think Planned Parenthood, public radio and Pell grants are going to be fine as well. And I think the U.S. Institute of Peace limps along. And Michele Bachmann won't vote for the final budget, and the tea party caucus in the House really isn't all that big. So they can yell and scream. I think the guys have made a deal on Capitol Hill, and the tea party is going to be angry.
MR. BUCHANAN: This is about -- look, $33 billion is basically 2 percent of the deficit and it's 1 percent of the budget. That's what we're talking about for this year, $1.65 trillion deficit.
But I think what you're getting here is they're getting about as much, I think, as they can get unless they want to shut down the government; Boehner and these guys are. And I think they're going to have to accept that, and the tea party folks are going to be happy. But you get two more bites at the apple. You get the big budget coming up for 2012 and you've got the debt ceiling.
MS. CROWLEY: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute. Are you saying that our current- accounts deficit -- current-accounts deficit -- is $1.65 trillion?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Trillion dollars. That is correct.
MR. BUCHANAN: It is the budget deficit for this year alone.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Ending when?
MR. BUCHANAN: September 30th.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. What is the public debt?
MR. BUCHANAN: The public debt is different from the national debt.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How much is the public debt?
MR. BUCHANAN: The national debt --
MS. CROWLEY: Fourteen trillion.
MR. BUCHANAN: -- is $14 billion.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Fourteen what?
MS. CROWLEY: Trillion. MR. ZUCKERMAN: Trillion.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Fourteen trillion. What did you say, billion?
MR. BUCHANAN: The public debt is --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, no. It's trillion.
MR. BUCHANAN: -- $10 trillion. The national debt is $14 (trillion) because part of the debt is held over there by the Social Security trust funds, and it's just an accounting thing.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, what is the real total?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Fourteen (trillion dollars).
MR. BUCHANAN: The public debt is the important one. That's $10 trillion. That's what you go bankrupt on.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And there's an additional $6 trillion on top of that.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Four (trillion dollar).
MR. BUCHANAN: There's $4 trillion over there in West Virginia.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, that's the size of our collective -- so to speak, our collective debt. Does that cause you any pain or suffering?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Pain or suffering? Of course. It's going to cause this country --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's a form of taxation, or what?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: It's going to have a huge cost to the country, and in not too many years, because we are going to have to raise interest rates in order to continue to fund these deficits. And rising interest rates is going to affect the entire economy and everybody's standard of living.
We are living on the edge of a precipice here. And everybody who understands fiscal economics --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- knows how bad it is.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- it grows by what it feeds on.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes. It compounds itself. We have done nothing about it. MS. CROWLEY: Right.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: We have a larger fiscal deficit than we've ever had in the history of this country.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: And we're doing nothing about it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, since you're so --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: And we have a political system that doesn't work.
MS. CLIFT: But nipping away at a --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let Monica in.
MS. CROWLEY: OK. This is why, when you talk about a $1.65 trillion annual deficit, a $14 trillion national debt that grows by the day, when you talk about these numbers, cutting $33 billion or $60 billion, these are very paltry sums. That's why, look, the conservatives who --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Paltry sums to cut.
MS. CROWLEY: Paltry sums. This is just -- this is spit in the bucket, right?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: It's a start.
MS. CROWLEY: But here's the key. Paul Ryan, who's the Republican chairman of the House Budget Committee, on Tuesday is going to unveil the Republican proposal for the 2012 budget. That includes serious non-defense discretionary spending cuts. It includes tax reform and serious structural entitlement reforms. That's the conversation that we should be having.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK, let's take a look at the stats, Mort, since you're so good at the numbers.
The good news: The unemployment rate is down to 8.8 percent from 8.9 percent. Two hundred sixteen thousand jobs were produced in March.
More good news. Item: The market up, the Dow nearing 12,500, the highest level in two years. Item: Manufacturing up nearly 3 percent.
Item: Personal income up 0.3 percent.
The bad news. Item: Consumer confidence down almost nine points.
Item: Home sales down 16.9 percent; 51,000 fewer homes sold in February.
Item: Home prices down 13.9 percent, the sharpest one-month drop on record.
Do you want to address yourself notably to the real estate?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes. Well, I'll address myself to a lot of these numbers, because even the good numbers -- you have to look at them in the context of the most stimulative monetary and fiscal and bailout policy we've ever had in this country, and this is the most anemic recovery, even in those numbers, that we've ever had coming out of a recession.
And with the key numbers involved here, namely the weakness in the consumer spending, the weakness in the housing market, the weakness in consumer confidence, we are still looking at a very weak economy, as I say, despite the largest fiscal deficit and the most stimulative monetary policy in history.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In the history of this country.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, by far.
MR. BUCHANAN: In world history.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Now, let me just say one other thing. The relationship of household debt to household income, which traditionally is around 70 to 80 percent, OK, and has been that way until the last couple of years, went to 136 percent. Household debt way overshadowed household income. It's now down to 117 percent.
To get it down to tolerable levels, we're going to have to have another deleveraging of $6 (trillion) to $7 trillion. That's going to keep this economy very slow for a number of years.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK, exit question. We're in recession. Will it be double dip? Yes or no; only one word.
MR. BUCHANAN: Yes.
MS. CLIFT: No. (Laughs.)
MS. CROWLEY: Yes -- stagflation. MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes.
MS. CROWLEY: Stagflation.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: McLaughlin is yes.
Issue Three: Barack Tweets.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: (From videotape.) Let me say that I have never used Twitter. My thumbs are too clumsy.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: President Obama claimed over a year ago to be a poor tweeter. But the president has certainly educated those thumbs. Only Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, the Canadian teenage pop sensation, and Britney Spears have bigger Twitter audiences than Barack Obama's 7 million followers. That puts the president in fourth place, directly ahead of celebrity actor Ashton Kutcher.
The president is not only popular, but influential. According to Twitterlizer, an analytics company specializing in social media, the president ranks as the seventh-most influential tweeter anywhere. That means the president is frequently mentioned in Twitter conversations and his tweets are retweeted by other tweeters.
The 2008 Obama campaign used Twitter as a key component of their social-media strategy. It helped raise over half a billion dollars online.
President Obama sent out about 1,600, what, tweets.
MR. BUCHANAN: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right?
MR. BUCHANAN: I think that's overdoing it, but go ahead.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you mean, it's overdoing it?
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.) I think --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm telling you what that --
MR. BUCHANAN: I think you should use it more selectively. He's got a very valuable political weapon here, but I think he should use it more selectively. But it's an extremely valuable weapon. If you can get that many small messages into people's minds, say, once or twice a week in a campaign, it's very effective.
MS. CLIFT: The youth culture puts out -- they tweet dozens of times in a day. That is not an excessive amount of tweeting that the president is doing. And he has people do it for him, Pat. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.
MS. CLIFT: You know, he's getting out his message in a very effective way.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Whose money is being used --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: One of his problems has been to get his speeches down to 140 characters --
MS. CROWLEY: (Laughs.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- believe me. So this is not his strength.
MR. BUCHANAN: You're telling me he didn't do all of those tweets? (Laughs.)
MR. ZUCKERMAN: (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: She says that he's got people doing this --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Of course.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- tweeting for him.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Of course.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And my question is, whose money is paying for that -- the taxpayers' money?
MS. CLIFT: I would hope so, because they --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And you would approve -- you approve of that?
MS. CLIFT: Sure. They work in the White House.
MR. BUCHANAN: White House communications.
MS. CLIFT: It's like getting out his -- it's getting out his message.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Getting out his message.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, let's see, now.
MS. CLIFT: He's tweeting about policies.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, we did that as communications director in the White House. We'd send it by mail, though, instead of tweeting it.
MS. CLIFT: Carrier pigeons in those days. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You'd do what?
MR. BUCHANAN: Sending out the president's message, sending out the talking points, all these things. We would get them out.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, who says he's doing that?
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, he's getting his message out. What else is he doing?
MS. CROWLEY: That's what he's doing. Look, I just started tweeting last week; a little late to the party, I know.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Have you tweeted the president?
MS. CROWLEY: Please follow me on Twitter.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Have you tweeted the president?
MS. CROWLEY: I've referenced him with his Twitter handle.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why don't we put him on notice now --
MS. CROWLEY: This is --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- to keep his eye open for your tweets?
MS. CROWLEY: Well, he should. (Laughs.) Maybe he'd learn something.
This is very effective. This is something Obama used to great effect during the 2008 campaign.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Absolutely.
MS. CROWLEY: He was on Facebook. He was on Twitter. He got to the kids that way. He got to the college students. He was able to mobilize them, whereas John McCain was campaigning in smoke signals. The Republicans have a lot of work to do to get up to par in using this new media to get their message out.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's the one group --
MS. CROWLEY: And it grows exponentially, the audience groups.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, why --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's the one group where Obama has retained a lot of his political support.
MR. BUCHANAN: Among young people and African-Americans, right. MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yeah, the millennials.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why would someone want to put up their name to receive and become one of his followers?
MR. BUCHANAN: They might like the president.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: They might like him.
MS. CLIFT: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, what about the sense of importance --
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, yeah, and to get a tweet --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- of letting it be known that you got a tweet --
MR. BUCHANAN: -- from the president of the United States --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Absolutely.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Have you got a tweet from the president?
MS. CROWLEY: That's why I say he shouldn't overuse it, because everybody will know, as Eleanor said, he's not doing it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't think it's ego on the part of the person who wants to be tweeted by the president?
MR. BUCHANAN: No, I think people -- I mean, to get communicated to by the president of the United States --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. It's their ego. They want to say, you know, "I just had a tweet from the president."
MR. BUCHANAN: You kind of liked to go on the presidential plane, didn't you, John? (Laughs.)
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I get tweeted by my creditors, you know. I mean --
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)
MS. CLIFT: His online fans will learn when he officially announces for president before those of us in the mainstream media.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's got 7 million followers.
MS. CROWLEY: Yes; not as many as Lady Gaga, who just crossed the 9 million mark this week.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about Justin Bieber? MS. CROWLEY: That's what I aspire to, the 9 million followers.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, Justin Bieber has more.
MS. CROWLEY: He's got, what, about 8 million.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who, Justin Bieber?
MS. CROWLEY: Yeah.
MR. BUCHANAN: But what a fundraising vehicle, John.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: He's amazing.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who, Justin Bieber?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Justin Bieber has a following among younger girls the likes of which that you have not seen since you were young, John.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you were born in Canada.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yeah, absolutely.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So you know the scene.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I'm another one of those Canadians who came and have a lot of young women following me. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Pat.
MR. BUCHANAN: I think American bombing and air strikes will force Gadhafi out by Memorial Day. But I do think the chaos that results and the killings back and forth will cause Europe and the United States to have to intervene militarily and put boots on the ground.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Where will Gadhafi go?
MR. BUCHANAN: I think they're going to try to kill him.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, if they don't kill him, where is he going to go?
MR. BUCHANAN: I think Zimbabwe is a nice place. (Laughs.)
MS. CLIFT: Well, peacekeepers on the ground after Libya -- after Gadhafi leaves, I think, is not a bad outcome. That's a good outcome. I think Turkey is going to really step up and become more of a dominant player in the evolving Middle East as a secular Islamic democracy. And I think they become the role model for the emerging governments in that area.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mm-hmm. (Acknowledging.) And you notice how they're moving in Latin America, Turkey.
MS. CROWLEY: A few weeks ago, the new intelligence chief in Egypt, who's part of this new interim government, paid a very quiet visit to Damascus, Syria. This does not bode very well, and it looks like the new Egyptian government, where the Muslim Brotherhood is running the show, is trying to reach out both to Hamas and Hezbollah.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: We will, I think, underwrite the only solution to Libya, which is they'll divide the country in two, and we'll protect the country that's with us until we see what other ways we can find to get Gadhafi out.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Out of time. Bye-bye.