THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN PANEL: PATRICK BUCHANAN, MSNBC; ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK; TIM CARNEY, WASHINGTON EXAMINER; CLARENCE PAGE, CHICAGO TRIBUNE TAPED: FRIDAY, MAY 27, 2011 BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF MAY 28-29, 2011
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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Erin Go Bragh.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: (From videotape.) My name is Barack Obama -- (cheers, applause) -- of the Moneygall Obamas. And I've come home to find the apostrophe that we lost somewhere along the way.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama this week crossed the Atlantic to attend a G-8 summit in Europe. The first stop was Dublin. Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny greeted the president and the first lady.
President Obama and his entourage then traveled by motorcade the 87 miles to Moneygall to visit the home of a distant relative of five generations ago, Barack Obama's great-great-great-grandfather, whose name was Falmouth Kearney. In Moneygall, Obama tried his own hand at Irish blarney rhythms, coupled with three words of authentic Gaelic.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) Remember that whatever hardships the winter may bring, springtime's always just around the corner. (Cheers, applause.) And if they keep on arguing with you, just respond with a simple creed: Is feidir linn -- yes, we can.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Were there compelling reasons for the state visit to the Irish people, or was this mostly a campaign event, Pat?
MR. BUCHANAN: Look, I think it was terrific. The Irish are one of the few people on this earth that really like Americans. He goes over there. He's got ancestors there. Jack Kennedy did it. Other presidents have gone over there, John. I think it's a terrific thing.
Ireland's got some problems, as you know. It's one of the countries over there that's got some real debt problems. I think it's terrific, and it's a good way to begin the trip. And I think it's a very crabbit question of you to ask that in such a negative way. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I'm Irish.
MR. BUCHANAN: I've got a little of that in me too, John. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: That's right. Watching that footage, I was thinking the real Irish love this president a little more than the Irish- Americans on this set. I think there are three of you. (Laughs.)
There are warm bonds between our country and Ireland, and I think it was a boost for the Irish and it's a boost for the president. And there are a lot of Irish-Americans, and it's important to have their ethnicity celebrated. And it's kind of wonderful that Obama can go back and trace -- this is on his mother's side -- to find this relative and to see where he comes from, his roots. And so I think -- I don't have any complaints.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Timothy Carney.
MR. CARNEY: Yes, he's my cousin. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute. He went to see his great-great- great-grandfather -- I mean, the place where he lives.
MR. CARNEY: Yeah, it's not --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's your connection between him and -- what's your name? MR. CARNEY: My name is Carney. In Ireland --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: C-A-R-N-E-Y.
MR. CARNEY: Yes. In Ireland it was spelled C-A-T-A-R -- anyway, they're from the same name; different part of Ireland, though.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Same name.
MR. CARNEY: From the same --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think you're related to his great-great- great-great-grandfather by similarity of comparison.
MR. CARNEY: Probably, yes. And I'm glad -- like Pat, I'm glad he went to Ireland. I think conservatives have lots of good criticisms of Obama, but when he does these foreign trips, I sometimes think his conservative critics get silly and start criticizing every little thing he does. So I'm with Pat.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're with Pat on that.
MR. CARNEY: Yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Give him a break?
MR. CARNEY: Yeah.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you want to bill him for --
MR. CARNEY: I want --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's a political settlement.
MR. CARNEY: No, I would rather bill him for all the fundraisers he does. He does these things where he travels to L.A. and gives a little speech and then sits down with all these rich Hollywood types. He bills it to the taxpayers because he gave a small speech on economic policy.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This relates to 2012, no?
MR. PAGE: It doesn't hurt.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And he's trying to appeal to the -- by the way, here's the U.S. ancestral breakdown: German, 15 million, 16.5 percent; Irish, 36 million, 11.9 percent; English, 28 million, 9 percent; American, 18 million, 5.9 percent; Italian, 17.5 million, 5.8 percent; Polish, 10 million, 3.3 percent. Are you surprised at any of that? You're a Chicagoan. MR. PAGE: Absolutely. And believe me, John, in Chicago, St. Patrick's Day, the whole town is Irish. Even when we had a black mayor, he was Irish on St. Patrick's Day. And so am I, by gosh and by gorah. I'm delighted to see -- (laughs) -- President Obama visiting Ireland. It doesn't hurt him a bit with his base, and also nationwide. It's one of the most politically -- historically politically savvy groups in the country.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't think he should tell the Democratic National Committee to pay for this transit of him in the motorcade from Dublin to where he went, Moneygall?
MR. PAGE: Oh, he can ask whatever he wants to. I think he deserves it. (Laughs.) But, you know --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So don't bill it as a campaign stop.
MR. PAGE: It's so hard to divide the politics from being president, because --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK.
MR. PAGE: -- they're one in the same.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: London calling.
President Obama and the first lady attended a Buckingham Palace state dinner in honor of the Obamas, hosted by the spry 85-year-old Queen Elizabeth II. Mr. Obama met with U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron and delivered a speech to the U.K. Parliament.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) I come here today to reaffirm one of the oldest, one of the strongest alliances the world has ever known. It's long been said that the United States and the United Kingdom share a special relationship.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Thursday-Friday, France. President Obama attended the G-8 summit with Stephen Harper, Canada; Nicolas Sarkozy, France; Angela Merkel, Germany; Silvio Berlusconi, Italy; Naoto Kan, Japan; Dmitry Medvedev, Russia; David Cameron, U.K.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) We committed to working together so that we can find an approach and a configuration that is consistent with the security needs.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: What are the tensions between the United States and Great Britain today, Pat? MR. BUCHANAN: Well, the tension between the United States -- well, Britain is on sort of an austerity program right now. Also the British and the French want the United States to be a little more aggressive in Libya, which they've been very out front on, quite frankly.
But with the G-8, he's got some problems with the Poles. The Poles are concerned about giving up the anti-missile defense with the Russians. So there are a lot of problems. But the real problems these folks got is, John, they've got Greece, they've got Ireland, they've got Spain, these other countries that are in real danger of going down, quite frankly. You've got the IMF involved there. And the Americans have got their own debt problems.
I'll tell you, if you take a look at this, if you take a look at the G-8, you're looking at a western world which is somewhat contracting and whose real power, relative to the rest of the world, I think, is clearly diminishing.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but the question was about U.S.-U.K. relationship, and I think this was about putting the special back into the special relationship. And I think the footage of the president and David Cameron, the British prime minister, in their shirtsleeves playing ping pong with some 16-year-olds, and they got beat, but there seemed to be a warmth. And so -- and I think they're both confronting similar economic problems. But the president was able to persuade NATO to send some helicopters in to the Libyan fight, and I think the president is -- it's kind of tough love.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.
MS. CLIFT: He's making the Europeans take on the burden of Libya, even though they don't like it. And he got them to pony up $20 billion for Tunisia and Egypt.
MR. BUCHANAN: He's repairing some damage from that Churchill --
MS. CLIFT: It was a good trip.
MR. BUCHANAN: -- statue thing and all the rest of it. The perception is that Obama, because his father is Kenyan and he's anti- colonial, he's got no use for the old British empire and that he has a cool relationship with the Brits, and that's written about in the American press. And I'm sure this was in part an effort to heal that up.
MS. CLIFT: It doesn't go back --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on.
MS. CLIFT: -- to the Kenyan father, though.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let Tim in here. MR. PAGE: Mostly written by Dinesh D'Souza --
MS. CLIFT: Right. That's right.
MR. PAGE: -- which was also reprinted in the British press.
MS. CLIFT: Exactly.
MR. PAGE: But the Tories make a bigger deal out of that than anybody else because of their historical memory. But I thought it was very significant that Sarkozy and Obama got together on Friday to apply pressure on Qadhafi in Libya. That was a positive sign. This is the direction things are going.
MS. CLIFT: And --
MR. CARNEY: I think the Libya thing is a cost of -- I don't see how France and England didn't learn our lesson from Iraq and Afghanistan. I feel like the French maybe feel they got left out of Iraq and Afghanistan. It doesn't make any sense.
Obama's sort of leading from behind here. The argument sometimes looks like he's just -- he's teaming up with these other guys, who want to do their own Muslim-world peacekeeping type stuff.
MR. PAGE: The fact is, they don't move in the Middle East without us leading down there.
MR. BUCHANAN: But, you know --
MR. PAGE: And our big problem --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let him finish.
MR. PAGE: -- is trying not to be as deeply involved or committed, because we've already got two wars to worry about.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Give me a grade on Obama's performance in Europe this week, A through F.
MR. BUCHANAN: I think he -- I mean, I think he gets an A+ in Ireland. I think he did an excellent job in Britain.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: An overall grade.
MR. BUCHANAN: I give him an A.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: An A.
MS. CLIFT: An easy A.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Easy A. MR. CARNEY: B.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A B? Why?
MR. CARNEY: I'm a tough grader. (Laughter.) And I don't see -- I don't see much of substance. And, you know, they all used to talk free trade when they'd go over to Europe, and now they're all so deeply mired in bailouts. Something bold needed to happen.
He didn't -- I mean --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, what came out of the conference?
MR. CARNEY: Well, that's what I'm saying.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, what bold are you looking for? (Laughs.)
MR. CARNEY: I'm saying maybe we could all start believing in the free trade we used to talk about; stop bailing out banks, stop bailing out countries, and maybe stop intervening in places like Libya.
MS. CLIFT: And maybe start celebrating that Chrysler paid back all of its government bailout --
MR. PAGE: Yea. (Claps.)
MS. CLIFT: -- and that the bailouts worked in this country.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: When you see the president of the United States and his --
MR. CARNEY: C is average. B is above average. I'm not giving him a failing mark here.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- (inaudible) -- with the queen and the dinner and all of that, aren't you proud of him and her?
MR. CARNEY: I guess he kind of messed up on the toast.
MR. PAGE: Oh. Oh. Impeach him. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I mean, the overall impression. How do you think it goes over in the world?
MR. CARNEY: I think it goes over fairly well.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But you still give him a B.
MR. CARNEY: B is above average.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you give him? MR. PAGE: G-8s are notoriously non-eventful. This one was very eventful and significant. I thought he did very well. I definitely give him an A.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: On the substance of the meeting, do you think anything came out of it?
MR. PAGE: Well, you know, it's often hard to tell. But I think what we were talking about with Libya, as well as NATO --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: These are side benefits.
MR. PAGE: -- there was progress made.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: These are side benefits. They were discussed right at the meeting too. Correct?
MR. PAGE: Yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This was a matter of established agenda in the meeting.
MR. BUCHANAN: Right. But you know why we're in Libya. Frankly, Sarkozy started this thing because he's in trouble politically with his right and he's trying to make himself a big, tough warrior.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I give the presidential couple an A.
Issue Two: Pawlenty's In.
FORMER MINNESOTA GOVERNOR AND 2012 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE TIM PAWLENTY (R): (From videotape.) We need a president who understands that our problems are deep and who has the courage to face them. President Obama doesn't. I do.
I'm Tim Pawlenty, and I'm running for the president of the United States.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tim Pawlenty made it official this week. Pawlenty is the recently retired Republican eight-year governor of Minnesota. He wants to be next year's Republican candidate for president. Here's why.
MR. PAWLENTY: (From videotape.) President Obama won't even address the major spending and deficit problems in the country. He has no plan for reforming Social Security. He has no plan for reforming Medicare. He has no plan for reforming Medicaid to speak of.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pawlenty has a major advantage in the Republican presidential primary race; namely, where he's from -- his heartland, Minnesota. Pawlenty was born, raised in and served as governor of the state of Minnesota. And Minnesota has produced towering figures in American politics, culture and jurisprudence: Warren Burger, Sinclair Lewis, J. Paul Getty, Eugene McCarthy, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Walter Mondale, William and Charles Mayo, and Bob Dylan.
Also, Minnesota is a border state of Iowa. Iowans know Minnesotans, and Minnesotans know Iowans. So Pawlenty's Minnesota background, particularly as governor, gives him an edge in the Iowa caucuses and Iowa's presidential primary. Together, these races add up to the king maker. The king then goes on to win more caucuses and more primaries, collectively fingering the party's favorite for the November 2012 presidential election.
By the way, here's a mini-bio of former Governor Tim Pawlenty: Age, 50; wife, Mary; two teenage daughters, Anna and Mara; University of Minnesota, B.A. and doctor of laws; practicing attorney, 15 years; Minnesota state legislature, house of representatives, 10 years; Minnesota house majority leader, four years; state of Minnesota, governor, eight years, 2003 to 2011.
Question: Can Pawlenty win Iowa? Tim Carney.
MR. CARNEY: Absolutely. And I'm very happy that he began by going to Iowa and attacking ethanol subsidies, especially because he used to favor them. That takes guts to go in and do that. His being from a border state is good. Of course, Michele Bachmann entering could complicate it. But if the ethanol thing is a cue and he really is going to go and battle the special interests, like Barack Obama pretends to do, I think he could really catch a lot of attention and he can win Iowa.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who's that lady?
MR. PAGE: Michele Bachmann.
MR. CARNEY: Michele Bachmann.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Michele Bachmann, the alpha female?
MR. CARNEY: And she, too, is from Minnesota, and she --
MR. PAGE: She was born in Iowa. She makes a big deal out of that.
MR. CARNEY: She was born in Waterloo.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that right?
MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah.
MR. CARNEY: And she can tap into the evangelical base and the tea party base better than he can. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about these geographical problems that she has, you know, where --
MR. PAGE: Geographical problems?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- places are located. Do you know what I'm talking about?
MR. PAGE: Oh, you mean knowing where places are located. (Laughs.
) Well, if you want to give a quiz --
MR. BUCHANAN: She has historical problems, I think.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What?
MR. BUCHANAN: She had historical problems. I think she said the Founding Fathers ended slavery, but that came a little bit later.
MR. PAGE: Yes. Yes. Right.
MR. BUCHANAN: But she is a very --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Didn't she locate something in Maine or New Hampshire that's not there?
MR. BUCHANAN: Oh, yeah, it was some wrong state. But let me say this.
MS. CLIFT: It happened in Massachusetts, not New Hampshire.
MR. BUCHANAN: She's a real threat.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you holding her down for that?
MS. CLIFT: I think her sweep of historical knowledge and the history of the country is lacking. But she is Sarah Palin with organizing skills. And if she gets in, she will be a factor, certainly in Iowa. She will give Pawlenty heartburn.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Which one is --
MS. CLIFT: But she is not nominatable, I don't believe. And so Pawlenty can still -- he can go the distance. She can't.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Which one is more the alpha female? You've heard the alpha male.
MS. CLIFT: I have.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The alpha female. Is it more -- MR. BUCHANAN: Palin or Bachmann?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Or Bachmann.
MS. CLIFT: Palin is the alpha --
MR. BUCHANAN: Alpha.
MS. CLIFT: -- because Bachmann --
MR. BUCHANAN: But John, let me say this --
MS. CLIFT: -- defers to her. (Laughs.)
MR. BUCHANAN: Bachmann, I'll tell you what she can do. Bachmann can -- if she beats Pawlenty in Iowa, she finishes him off, quite frankly. I do agree that Pawlenty can win the presidency of the United States if he can get the nomination. I think if he loses Iowa, unless he comes in very close to number one, I think he's gone.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Who has the best chance to win in Iowa? You've got the lineup pretty much in your head.
MR. BUCHANAN: I think --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you want to get that far ahead of the game?
MR. BUCHANAN: I would say Bachmann-Romney, frankly.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?
MR. BUCHANAN: Bachmann or Romney. Yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Not Pawlenty?
MR. BUCHANAN: No, not Pawlenty.
MS. CLIFT: Winning Iowa -- is that what you're saying?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Winning Iowa.
MS. CLIFT: I think Bachmann or Pawlenty wins Iowa. I don't see Romney winning Iowa. He wins New Hampshire. I think this is going to be a contested nomination. I don't think Bachmann finishes off Pawlenty in Iowa. Iowa is so discounted; they haven't picked a winner for some time.
MR. CARNEY: Pawlenty in Iowa.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pawlenty in Iowa.
MR. CARNEY: Yeah. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?
MR. CARNEY: I mean, more likely than anybody else.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?
MR. CARNEY: Yeah -- one in three chance.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That means they can all topple in line.
MR. CARNEY: Yeah. And then Romney wins New Hampshire.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Iowa controls.
MR. PAGE: Pawlenty is very popular in Iowa. But I expect a possible surge by the tea party folks, of whom Bachmann is a clear favorite. If she doesn't have any competition there, her opposition could be divided enough that she could get the -- she could win Iowa.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is Pawlenty.
Issue Three: District 26, New York.
REPRESENTATIVE-ELECT KATHY HOCHUL (D-NY): (From videotape.) We had the issues on our side. Did we not have the right issues on our side?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Kathy Hochul, a Democrat -- I repeat, a Democrat -- this week was declared the winner in a special election in New York's 26th congressional district. She beat out Republican rival Jane Corwin, 48 percent to 43 percent. The special election was held to fill the seat of former Republican Congressman Chris Lee, who resigned after shirtless pictures of him were leaked to the media.
Hochul pulled off the upset in a traditionally Republican district, even though Republican Jane Corwin outspent Democrat Hochul, $4 million to $2 million. Hochul ran political ads connecting her challenger, Jane Corwin, to the Republicans' plan to reform Medicare.
REP.-ELECT HOCHUL: (From videotape.) And now she wants to cut Medicare.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That Republican Medicare reform plan was crafted by the chairman of the House Budget Committee, Paul Ryan. Under the Ryan plan, Medicare pays for a portion of the premium for insurance that is sold by private insurance companies. Ryan calls it, quote- unquote, "premium support."
After the election, Ryan accused the Democrats of demagoguery.
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN (R-WI): (From videotape.) If you can scare seniors into thinking that their current benefits are being affected, that's going to have an effect. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate, the Senate, voted down the Ryan plan, 40 aye votes to 57 nay votes. Five Republican senators sided with the Democrats: Scott Brown, Massachusetts; Susan Collins, Maine; Lisa Murkowski, Alaska; Olympia Snowe, Maine; and Senator Rand Paul, Kentucky.
Tim Carney, what else happened in that race? I'm thinking about a man by the name of Jack Davis.
MR. CARNEY: Yeah, he was a Democrat who was running as sort of a pretend tea party candidate.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What happened?
MR. CARNEY: He brought in 9 percent. And he'd been up higher. He brought in 9 percent.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did he do that with a purpose in mind?
MR. CARNEY: I mean, yeah. I think he was --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is a convinced Democrat, right?
MR. CARNEY: He was trying -- yes, he was --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And he ran as a tea partier, and tea partiers --
MR. CARNEY: And they had done --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- are, to a great extent, Republican, are they not?
MR. CARNEY: Yes. They had done that in other districts during the 2010 general election.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why did he do that?
MR. CARNEY: It was a strategy they had tried in other districts. It was the first time it kind of worked.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that 9 percent -- if he had not done that --
MR. CARNEY: Well, no, I don't think -- I think he would have --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This was a stratagem on the part of delivering this Republican seat to the Democrats. MR. CARNEY: I don't think you can say every one of his votes would have gone to Corwin.
MS. CLIFT: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How many would you say would have gone to him?
MR. CARNEY: I don't know. I think it would have been --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, what would have --
MR. CARNEY: It would have been a 51 -- the fact that he was --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What was the plurality?
MR. CARNEY: The fact that --
MR. BUCHANAN: Four points.
MR. CARNEY: It was four points.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Four points. Now, he would easily have delivered that with his nine.
MS. CLIFT: John --
MR. CARNEY: The fact that --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He pulled out of the race. He's a phony tea partier, and he goes in.
MS. CLIFT: John, give it a rest. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you follow the logic?
MR. PAGE: Yes, I do. But playing math is not politics, John. The fact is that is a traditionally Republican district. This is the third loss of a New York Republican.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So what? There's another reason why --
MR. PAGE: So what? That's what determines the message here.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- it went Democratic, and it has nothing to do with the --
MS. CLIFT: It was --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- merits of the candidate.
MS. CLIFT: It was a proxy race for 2012, and it basically has highlighted the fact that the Medicare proposal the Republicans have on the table is creating -- MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor --
MS. CLIFT: -- political problems.
MR. CARNEY: The Democrats --
MS. CLIFT: The American people don't want --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- it was a clear set-up and --
MS. CLIFT: -- shrinking premium support.
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and Davis set it up.
Exit question: Is the Republican defeat in New York's 26th a wakeup call for the Republicans, who backed Paul Ryan's proposal to reform Medicare? Pat Buchanan.
MR. BUCHANAN: As Sarah Palin says, you betcha. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: Pat's right on that one, and so is Sarah. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tim Carney.
MR. CARNEY: It's the same as Social Security five years ago, where Republicans put up a plan. Democrats don't have to put up an alternative and they just attack, demagogue, demagogue. They should have learned their lesson.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.
MR. PAGE: Especially because Republicans used the same strategy to try to block Obama's health care reform. Definitely Ryan's plan has lost momentum, and they've got to find some way to get it back.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is it doesn't prove anything about Ryan's acceptability or non-acceptability. It has to do with Davis inserting himself into the race with the idea of upsetting the outcome.
Issue Four: Gas Bloat.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) In many places, gas is now more than $4 a gallon, meaning that you could be paying more than $60 to fill up your tank.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Three dollars and eighty-three cents per gallon, practically four bucks. That's what the average national price for a gallon of gas has bloated to this week. Last year the price of gas per gallon was a dollar cheaper, $2.80 per gallon. Today, three out of four Americans say high gas prices are causing their families financial hardship. About 50 percent of all Americans say gas prices require them to make major changes in their lives, including cutting back on their annual vacation.
Who's to blame? Who else? Barack Obama, they say. Sixty-one percent of Americans believe that President Obama's policies are to be blamed for the nation's painful gas costs. To this, Mr. Obama says, "Hold on. Relief is on the way."
PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) I believe that we should continue to expand oil production in America. We should increase safe and responsible oil production here at home.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The president has issued executives orders to do just that.
Item: Alaska National Petroleum Reserve; sell drilling leases to drill for oil on the 23 million-acre piece of land, not to be confused with ANWR, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Item: Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic Ocean; Mr. Obama wants to extend existing leases to conduct offshore drilling.
Item: Drill now; give incentives to oil companies to drill more and drill faster.
Item: Atlantic Coast; review the environmental dangers of speeding up shoreline drilling. But New Jersey Democratic Senator Bob Menendez says, in effect, much ado about nothing; the money saved is not worth the potential environmental risk. Quote: "The Department of Energy has projected that drilling all our coasts, even the Jersey shore, would only reduce gas prices by three cents in 2030," unquote.
Question: What about that senator and his view that it's only going to yield very little? Do you agree with that?
MR. PAGE: Well, Menendez is probably right. But, you know, Obama's going through the proper motions. A president must appear to be doing something. But he told the truth when he said there's really not much a president can do to directly affect gas prices, whether you're a Republican or Democrat. But no president gains any points by telling the people that truth without at least going through the motions of, you know, drilling leases, et cetera, et cetera. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Also leases take a long time.
MR. PAGE: Well, yeah.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What Bush accomplished in his administration of a few years ago, three or four years ago, are just coming alive now --
MR. PAGE: That's right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- because leasing --
MR. PAGE: Over the long haul you can affect it, but, you know --
MR. BUCHANAN: Let me tell you the problem --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's very time-consuming.
MR. BUCHANAN: Here's what's the problem over the long haul is you've got countries like China and India and others that are booming, and they're consuming more and more oil. And you take all the oil- producing countries in the world, and any number of them have been flat-lined. And some of them, their production is declining. So you've got this enormous demand that's growing, John, and production that's declining. Ultimately they're never going back to $2-a-gallon gas.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why is the demand rising so quickly, so highly, so significantly, in China? Why?
MR. CARNEY: Their economy is developing, and --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Meaning what?
MR. CARNEY: Meaning people are getting richer. And the way people get richer is --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, there's another factor. What's the other factor there?
MR. PAGE: They're buying cars.
MR. CARNEY: The way people get richer is by using energy.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: China subsidizes gasoline costs.
MR. CARNEY: Yes. But Obama, he -- I mean, his being blamed for the oil prices is silly except that he's pretending to be super- president who gets to solve every problem. Really he's got to get government out of the way and stop the regulations on refining -- MS. CLIFT: They pay more for China for a gallon of gas than we pay here. We still have comparatively low prices. And this morning --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: China's subsidizing the cost of gasoline. Do you understand?
MS. CLIFT: I know, but --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Our government does not subsidize the cost of gasoline.
MR. PAGE: We ought to be taxing it.
MS. CLIFT: But it's what the consumer pays is what drives the politics. And I -- this morning on the radio they were telling people to go over the Bay Bridge to the beaches, to leave before 7:00 or 10:00 at night because there are going to be 12,000 more cars because gas prices have suddenly taken a dip and they're lower. So where does that fit into your scary narrative?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence, you've got the last word.
MR. PAGE: (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Sorry. Quickly.
MR. PAGE: Buy now, before prices go up again --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Buy now.
MR. PAGE: -- before prices go up again. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: By the gas -- you mean, fill up the tank now?
MR. PAGE: I think --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean $3.89 is good.
MR. PAGE: Prices will come down. We just don't know when. That's the thing.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK. I'm more optimistic.
Qadhafi will be out of office by July 4th. Yes or no?
MR. BUCHANAN: He'll be gone.
MS. CLIFT: I agree. He'll be gone.
MR. CARNEY: No, he'll still be there.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why do you say that? MR. CARNEY: (Laughs.) I think he will. I think he's hanging on. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's a reason?
MR. PAGE: I'm going to say he'll still be there. He's like Castro.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence is right. He will still be there.
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