Share

The McLaughlin Group Host: John McLaughlin Panel: Major Garrett, National Journal; Eleanor Clift, Newsweek; James Pethokoukis, Reuters; Mortimer Zuckerman, U.S. News & World Report Taped: Friday, July 8, 2011 Broadcast: Weekend of July 9-10, 2011

-----------------------------------------------------------------
Copyright (c) 2011 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
-----------------------------------------------------------------


JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: True Grit.

HOUSE SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH): (From videotape.) Now is the time to deal with the fiscal problems we have in an adult-like manner; no more whistling past the graveyard.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Ohio Republican Congressman and Speaker John Boehner presides over the largest Republican majority in more than 60 years -- 240 Republicans, 192 Democrats -- in the House of Representatives.

This means that for President Obama to push through any of his legislation, he must have the support of Speaker Boehner. Recently Speaker Boehner played that critical role when he gained House Republican support for the current 2011 federal budget. That governs U.S. spending for fiscal year October 1 of last year, 2010, to September 30 of this year, 2011. This budget averted a shutdown of the federal government.

The successful passage of the FY 2011 budget was a major feather in the Boehner cap.

SPEAKER BOEHNER: (From videotape.) I'm pleased that Senator Reid and I and the White House have been able to come to an agreement that will, in fact, cut spending and keep our government open.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: The last time the Republicans took over the House was in 1994, 17 years ago, when Bill Clinton was president. If you compare House Speaker John Boehner to then-former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, how well is Boehner doing? I ask you, Major Garrett.

MAJOR GARRETT: There's lots of ways to measure that. One is the polling data. For 12 polls in Newt Gingrich's early speakership, his negatives were always higher than his positives. John Boehner's positives are relatively equal to his negatives. So he's doing a little bit better in the polling with the American public.

Congress's approval rating, though, is lower now than it was in the mid `90s. Congress is held in much higher contempt now than then. That's the broad outside-the-Beltway analysis.

The inside-Congress analysis is at this stage of Speaker Gingrich's speakership, he'd already gotten the Contract with America through, a massive legislative accomplishment, to 10 high-priority items. So he has more -- he had more legislative victories than Boehner does right now. But that was essentially the effective end of the Gingrich speakership. He had no great follow-up after that. And the Speaker Gingrich tale after that was of diminishing power, diminishing influence, and internecine fighting.

Boehner has taken a much more gradualist approach, actually removing power from the speakership, giving it more to committee chairmen, allowing legislation to move organically through the House. That has given him greater confidence, greater latitude, to strike deals like you referred to. So Boehner internally is stronger, and he's probably going to remain stronger as a speaker than Gingrich was.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort Zuckerman, do you think there is all of that, which is good perception on Major's part, but is there something more constitutionally about the two men? Who's more likable?

MORTIMER ZUCKERMAN: Well, at the beginning you would have thought that Newt Gingrich was likable. Towards the end of his regime, he was much less likable. But what he had -- and I think this is not yet evident in Boehner's approach -- he had a sort of an intellectual and policy concept that, in a sense, was implicit in that Contract with America. And he still speaks in those terms. He's an extraordinarily intelligent man about these issues. But his political skills, I think, were not, shall we say, well illustrated as his speakership went on.

Boehner, I think, is going to endure a much more popular and stronger speaker within his own party over the next couple of years, because, as Major was saying, he shares the power a lot more. Gingrich really revolutionized the way he organized the Republicans in the House, and therefore lost some of his grassroots support.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, who's the more politically ambitious?

ELEANOR CLIFT: By almost every measure, Boehner is the superior speaker. Politically ambitious, Newt Gingrich is running for president. It's not much of a campaign. I don't think we're ever going to see John Boehner run for president. But I think that's kind of beside the point.

Boehner is a man who has been in the Congress a long time. He's been edged out of the leadership, managed to get back in. He's a very crafty politician. He goes down smooth, like Scotch on the rocks. He is almost from another era. And he's smart enough to always appear reasonable in public. And he's got quite a challenge with his tea party freshmen in trying to put together a deal to raise the debt ceiling. So I think he's a deal maker and Gingrich wasn't, and so that's why I'd much rather have Boehner in this position than Gingrich.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think Boehner has a shot at the presidency?

JAMES PETHOKOUKIS: I'm unaware that he's expressed any desire to be president.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think he's got a shot at it?

MR. PETHOKOUKIS: Well, I'll wait for him to express some desire. And again, we'll see what the final results of the --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Independently of that, whether he expresses the desire --

MR. PETHOKOUKIS: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- do you think the goods are there?

MR. PETHOKOUKIS: Well, I'll tell you --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He comes from Iowa.

MR. PETHOKOUKIS: From Ohio. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: From Ohio, rather.

MR. PETHOKOUKIS: That's a great place to be from if you want to run for president. But he does have one small problem is that there's a lot of the tea party folks who are growing in power and prominence in the Republican Party. They're not quite so sure about John Boehner.

They don't like that budget deal that you referred to earlier, that 2011 budget deal. They don't think they got very much. We'll see what they get with --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is there another deal coming along that he's going to be instrumental and that they will like?

MR. PETHOKOUKIS: Listen, I think -- listen, when he became speaker, he had, I think, a rather narrow agenda, and he expressed it himself -- stop the bad stuff from happening. I think so far he's been pretty successful at it. Whether he has any -- whether the broader agenda -- and one thing tea partiers do like is that he has given a lot of leeway to some of these committee chairmen, particularly Paul Ryan to push through his budget-cutting Ryan plan, which is fantastic.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You remember the early stories on Boehner. Boehner had a problem with his lachrymose gland; not a problem, but a challenge. He would -- he wept a lot.

MR. GARRETT: Yeah.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No sign of that in recent months.

MR. GARRETT: No. And he doesn't want to be president.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's gone now, isn't it?

MR. GARRETT: The only presidential question relevant is constitutional succession. He doesn't want to be president, which is an effective tool for him. Neither does Mitch McConnell want to be president, the Senate Republican leader.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Has Boehner so declared that?

MR. GARRETT: It's internally part of his constitution. He's an institutionalist. He wants to be speaker. This is the highest priority in his life. He's achieved it.

The other big difference between John Boehner and Newt Gingrich, John Boehner was once a committee chairman. He's actually pushed legislation through the body. He knows how to make deals at the subcommittee level, the full committee level, and he believes in the House working from bottom up, not top down.

Gingrich, as Mort said, placed all the powerful writing legislation in the hands of a tight-knit group of people around the speaker. Dennis Hastert continued that. Nancy Pelosi continued that. John Boehner is unwinding that concentration of power, making the House a different place.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Exactly right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think he's got a shot.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: At becoming the president?

MS. CLIFT: No, John. (Laughs.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I don't see that, John. You may be right. I just --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, just think about it.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I just think there are other people --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: His brand of Republicanism would carry.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, but I don't think he's got either the ambition or the personality to do that, frankly.

MS. CLIFT: He likes golf too much to go on the campaign trail to Iowa and New Hampshire.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I don't know. Eisenhower liked golf a lot more than Boehner.

Exit question: Has John Boehner brought civility back to Congress? Yes or no. James.

MR. PETHOKOUKIS: I think, to a great extent. He's calmer, kind of a reasonable, rational guy. I think he's done a good job doing that.

MS. CLIFT: He's laid back, but he's representing a Republican caucus that is really hard-edged. So don't get fooled by the civility. (Laughs.) There's a lot of people there who don't want to compromise at all.

MR. GARRETT: When you bring amendments to the floor, when people have a chance to express themselves in the committee process and on the floor, they get their shot. That's what people want, their voices expressed that way. It's that that brings civility, not the other way around. You don't impose civility. You let people speak, and as they speak, they become more civil. It's a natural process. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is he a deal maker?

MR. GARRETT: Absolutely. But --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Isn't that a great advantage, just in life in general?

MR. GARRETT: In life in general, and in politics particularly.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Politics in particular.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: He also --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think about that? Am I overselling Boehner?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: A little bit. But I'll tell you, he does -- he's an engaging personality, and I think that's very important --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He grows on you.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- a very important part of deal making in all walks of life.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: When you see Boehner, don't you get the impression you're dealing with the real thing, the real Boehner?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Absolutely.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And even though you know that it's layered and layered and layered over with politics, it's still the real thing?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I happen to know Newt Gingrich fairly well. I always thought I was dealing with the real Newt. That was what worried me.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Two: Fannie and Freddie -- Capital Punishment?

The Federal National Mortgage Association, also known as Fannie Mae, and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Association, also known as Freddie Mac, were both created by the U.S. government. The two exist with the same purpose: To increase home ownership by increasing the number of mortgages issued to U.S. homeowners.

This is how they work. Fannie and Freddie buy mortgages from banks and sell them to investors as securities. That frees up capital for banks to issue more mortgages; namely long-term, fixed-interest- rate mortgages.

But critics have figured Fannie and Freddie were playing a major role in spurring the great recession. They say Fannie and Freddie bought millions of shoddy mortgages and sold them to Wall Street. When those mortgages defaulted, so did the stock market, spurring the crisis. So says former U.S. Treasury Secretary Peter Wallison.

Quote: "I believe that the sine qua non of the financial crisis was U.S. government housing policy. If the U.S. government had not chosen this policy path, the great financial crisis of 2008 would never have occurred," unquote.

Mort, Fannie and Freddie -- we're talking about two institutions, and the average American can't walk in there and take on a mortgage.

Who is their -- who do they deal with?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: They deal with other financial institutions who in turn put their mortgages with Fannie and Freddie. I mean, that's the bulk of the mortgages that are financed by them. In fact, the point that Peter Wallison is making is absolutely right in the sense that the Congress conspired with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pushed it on their own, to really loosen the standards on the basis of which people were able to buy homes, on the theory that everybody had at that point in that housing prices would never go down.

So everybody thought, instead of having 20 percent down, it got down to much lower percentages, so there was very little equity. And when the market began to turn down, these home mortgages went into default in the millions, not just in the thousands. And it literally brought down the financial market. And that is still something that we are still dealing with as we sit here today.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can you buy stock in Fannie and Freddie?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: They were public companies. I mean, that was one of the real issues, because they had -- the people who managed that company had a different incentive than just making sure that, shall we say, those loans were good loans. They were giving those loans to everybody. The Congress pressed them to do that. But then it just turned into a huge, multibillion-dollar --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They were -- it's a capitalistic enterprise. They wanted to make money.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, but it was all with government money. That's the problem. They were making private money with government money.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And they're government institutions making money on the market.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's correct.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Isn't that an oddity? MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, it is an oddity. And frankly, it turned out to be a disgrace in terms of the way it worked out.

MS. CLIFT: Can I --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why, because it was mismanaged?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, because they had an incentive to improve the stock price and not to worry about the --

(Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How did they want to go about doing that?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, they did it by making all these loans. You had short-term profits and long-term losses. It turns out that you were able to book gains in the short run, and so many of these -- literally millions of these --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, why are we talking about this? Why?

MS. CLIFT: Because Wall Street wants to make it look like Fannie and Freddie were the drivers behind the mortgage collapse, when, in fact, Wall Street led the way and Fannie and Freddie basically caught up. I think, you know, Fannie and Freddie were the product of government policy, both parties. And President Bush championed the ownership society. And pushing low-cost mortgages were part of the Republican inroad into the Hispanic community.

So this reeks of politics. But you cannot say that Fannie and Freddie led the way with all those financial instruments. Fannie and Freddie got into the act when they lost a great section of the mortgage market because Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch and everybody else was trading on these financial instruments. And the unregulation allowed them to go ahead. So they were part of the crowd, but they did not -- they did not lead the way.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think the stock is worth about three cents apiece. Any stock you buy there now, it's greatly diminished value.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: When they were taken over by the federal government, Congress said that it was going to -- they would face $25 billion with losses. I say they're going to face $500 billion, and they're already up to $165 billion.

MR. PETHOKOUKIS: The banks are paying back their money. What kind of return are we going to get on our investment in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?

MR. GARRETT: Zero.

MR. PETHOKOUKIS: Zero. That's absolutely right. MR. GARRETT: One hundred fifty billion banks so far lost to the taxpayers, direct loss to the taxpayers, $150 billion. It will be more. The Obama administration wants to wind it down. House Republicans and Senate Republicans want to wind it down. It's all a matter of pacing. It's going to be wound down. But it can't be wound down because there's so much inventory in the real-estate market that can't and won't clear.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's right.

MR. GARRETT: You're not going to clear Fannie and Freddie until you clear that market, and that market's not going to clear for five to 10 years.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: They're basically providing over 90 percent of the mortgages in America today. They're the only institution willing to loan.

MS. CLIFT: Exactly.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: But, I mean, what they did was they lost a fortune in terms of their long-term --

MR. GARRETT: Because they're a GSE --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Right.

MR. GARRETT: -- government-sponsored entity that had the implied backing of the federal taxpayer. That's because -- and that's why they were riskier than they should have been.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: James, I don't want you to think that this is a tutorial and you're excluded from it. I mean, this is a group discussion. (Laughter.) Do you feel as though you've been represented enough? Otherwise I'm going to go to the exit question.

MR. PETHOKOUKIS: (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: Go to the exit question.

MR. PETHOKOUKIS: (Laughs.) I'll defer to your judgment on that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's go to the exit question. You can work in anything else you want to say.

Should Fannie and Freddie be terminated? Should we get rid of them? Yes or no.

MR. PETHOKOUKIS: No, I think they should be wound down, privatized. And if a Republican wins the presidency in 2012, I think they absolutely will be. Certainly Republicans and conservatives feel that they're at the very heart of this entire financial mess, and I don't think that they'll be long for this world if that political situation develops. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that -- does that reflect the president's view?

MS. CLIFT: The administration --

MR. PETHOKOUKIS: President Obama's view?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes.

MR. PETHOKOUKIS: No. No, President Obama reflects Eleanor's view. And what we also haven't mentioned is very loose Fed policy for many years.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What was George W. Bush's -- what would his view be today on Freddie -- Fannie and Freddie?

MR. PETHOKOUKIS: Well, I'm not sure what his view would be, but I think it would be that there's too much emphasis in U.S. economic policy in pushing home ownership. Fannie and Freddie were a huge part of that. And also Bill Clinton also had a huge role in helping lower mortgage standards.

MS. CLIFT: Right. Both parties --

MR. PETHOKOUKIS: That also contributed to the crisis.

MS. CLIFT: Both parties stacked Fannie and Freddie with political appointees who made far too much money.

MR. PETHOKOUKIS: Which we've heard very (few ?) about political appointees.

MS. CLIFT: There's a plan on Capitol Hill presented by the Obama administration, working its way through Congress, that will wind down these government entities.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's in the --

MR. PETHOKOUKIS: (Inaudible) -- wing of the Democratic Party.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's in the public interest, Major? Should they be discontinued?

MR. GARRETT: More rental property. (Laughs.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, that's actually right.

MR. GARRETT: Seriously. I'm not kidding about that.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: A lot of people --

MR. GARRETT: The idea -- MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's what the public is showing.

MR. GARRETT: -- that home ownership can be a universal American aspiration, yes; reality, no, it can't be. And when you use government to distort the marketplace, you distort the marketplace --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There's another player --

MR. GARRETT: -- and bad things happen.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There's another player in this scene that hasn't been mentioned -- Alan Greenspan. He really pushed real estate.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, what he did was he pushed interest rates down in 2001, when we had the .com bubble bursting. He was really worried that the financial markets may begin to come apart. And then those interest rates were kept down at basically 1 percent for three or four years. That lowered mortgage rates, and everybody jumped into the mortgage market.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think they should be terminated?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, I do.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You do?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm with you, Mort.

Issue Three: Groovy Grover.

Conservatives have traditionally been stalwart supporters of big defense spending. But a conservative faction now wants to shrink the size of the Pentagon -- the deficit hawks; namely, the head of the Americans for Tax Reform, Grover Norquist.

Norquist last November sent a letter to Republican leaders calling for Congress to revoke the sacred-cow status of defense spending. Quote: "True fiscal stewards cannot eschew real spending reform by protecting pet projects in the federal budget. Any such Department of Defense favoritism would signal that the new Congress is not serious about fiscal responsibility and not ready to lead," unquote.

Norquist, two months later, in January, said shrinking the Pentagon meant that conservatives need to rethink our presence in Afghanistan.

GROVER NORQUIST (Americans for Tax Reform): (From videotape.) Too many on the right say, "Well, the Republican president said we needed to do this, and I saluted, and I haven't thought about it in 10 years." And just because fearless leader said it was a good idea is not necessarily a good reason to continue a policy. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: In next year's GOP presidential primaries, will defense spending be hands off, or will defense spending become a wedge issue that divides the contenders? I ask you, James.

MR. PETHOKOUKIS: I think they're already divided. I think Tim Pawlenty is taking a very kind of a super-hawk, pro-defense, "We're not going to cut defense spending" stance. Some of the other candidates, whether it's Ron Paul, Jon Huntsman, and we'll see who else gets in, are for shrinking the defense budget.

Listen, since World War II, we'd have an average defense budget of about 7 percent of GDP. Right now it's about 5. At the end of the Clinton era it was 3. I can easily see it getting down to 4. I think there's tremendous appetite in both parties to lower defense spending. In fact, what will Republicans offer to Democrats in return for getting entitlement reform? And they don't want to raise taxes. What they might offer is defense cuts.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: To quote South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican, he can't imagine a Republican winning the primaries running to the left of President Obama on defense policy. But I think it's really hard to see what is the emerging world view coming from this set of Republicans, because they've been freed by the fact that there's a Democrat in the White House to be critical of all these military engagements. But they haven't really defined what it is, where they would get involved, and what they would do about the current engagements that we're in.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think, Major?

MR. GARRETT: Two prisms. One is operational; draw down Afghanistan, end the war in Iraq. That saves money. The other one is repetitive systems. On the F-35, there was a dual engine; been in the project for 15, 20 years. It was killed in the 2011 budget deal. John Boehner cared about that. It was built just outside of his district. He let that stay. Individual projects like that are going to go. Operational costs will come down.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Gates had a big role in that.

MR. GARRETT: Yes, he did.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Go ahead.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yeah, I think they're going to have to try and cut the defense budget by, I don't know, $500 (billion) -- I don't know, $50 (billion), $100 billion. Five hundred billion dollars is the number that I've seen. MR. GARRETT: Over 10 years.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Over 10 years, yeah.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're OK with reducing the budget --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, I think --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- of this? Does China worry you?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: China doesn't worry me --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If we don't maintain a position of world military superiority, we are not going to be the number one in the world. Correct?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: If we let our economy go down the toilet, we are not going to be number one in the world either. And we simply can't afford this. And we don't need the kind of military strength --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If we are not number one militarily in the world --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: We would still be militarily number one.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- in our circumstances, we will still be -- we will still not be the number one world power. Yes or no?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: We spend as much money as the next 15 countries. We'll still be the number one military power.

MR. GARRETT: It's about priorities, naval power and counterinsurgency.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: With or without the military, number one superiority? Even if China --

MR. GARRETT: It's two big priorities, naval power and counterinsurgency. That's where you'll see the spending emphasis.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think we have to maintain military superiority over everyone to be the world's number one power -- MS. CLIFT: We have that --

MR. PETHOKOUKIS: But we can do that with spending --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- or China will do it.

Issue Four: Brace For Impact.

Captain Chelsey Sullenberger visited the aviation museum in North Carolina for the arrival of the U.S. Airways plane that he piloted into an emergency set-down in the Hudson River two and a half years ago, January 15, `09. That miraculous performance saved the lives of 155 people. Flight 1549 took off from New York's LaGuardia Airport. Minutes after takeoff, the plane had suffered a pilot's nightmare. Two birds flew directly into one of the plane's two engines and permanently shut it down.

Realizing this, Sullenberger had to take numerous variables into consideration in little or almost no time: Distance to commercial or private airstrips; an open highway; the estimated traffic on those sites; fuel availability; competing air traffic; maintaining stability of the aircraft in the flight; wind velocity; altitude; and, above all, staying calm.

When thinking, he looked out his cockpit window and it all pulled together -- a clean strip of the Hudson River; no marine craft, no barges, fuselages gauged by him, all lined up. It worked. The plane landed successfully in the Hudson River without major damage to the plane and without the loss of a single life.

Sullenberger's actions that day surely embodied the American spirit, which inspires our nation. The president of the Carolinas Aviation Museum, Shawn Dorsch, where the airplane is now exhibited, said this about the plane, the pilot and the performance. Quote: "This is an international aviation icon. This is on par with Charles Lindbergh's airplane or the Apollo 13 command module. It's something that has worldwide recognition and it's something that is going to be timeless," unquote.

Question: Is Captain Sullenberger the real McCoy, a genuine hero, Mort?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Oh, he's a genuine hero. I mean, that he kept his calm and kept everything in focus and brought that plane in was almost miraculous. I mean, he was worshiped for that. He is the kind of hero that Americans have been looking for in various walks of life, and he really just performed. It was absolutely amazing what he did.

MS. CLIFT: I'm surprised --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Nobody could believe that he was able to do that. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you feel that this plane ought to be in the Smithsonian?

MS. CLIFT: Well, number one --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Has the Smithsonian kind of lost where the impulse is?

MS. CLIFT: Well, number one, I'm surprised one of the political parties hasn't gotten him to run for office, because he -- John Glenn ran for the Senate after he became the first man to circle the moon. And this kind of heroism does often lead to a political career.

But having said that, the plane is too big for the Smithsonian. The Smithsonian --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think --

MS. CLIFT: These are buildings on the Mall. And frankly, John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, why don't they create one for it?

MS. CLIFT: -- if you go look at the plane, it's going to look like every other U.S. airplane. I don't know that the plane -- seeing the plane itself is going to be all that exciting.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, Lindbergh's plane is suspended in there. Have you been to the Smithsonian recently?

MS. CLIFT: Well, yeah, but Lindbergh was another era. That looks different from what we're seeing today. (Laughs.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: You go to the Reagan museum, they have a facsimile of Air Force One there. The whole thing is rebuilt.

MR. GARRETT: The icon is Chelsey Sullenberger, not the plane.

MS. CLIFT: Right. (Laughs.)

MR. GARRETT: And as someone who has a hard time parallel parking, that is miraculous -- (laughter) -- putting that plane down; and, secondarily, the inspiration of his calmness conveyed to the crew, conveyed to the passengers, who disembarked, and handled everything -- everything was handled with calm, cool collectiveness. And that, it seems to me, is the other miraculous part --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The rescue teams on the shore were also brilliant in terms of how quickly they got out there to save people too.

MR. PETHOKOUKIS: Right. And in a country where it seems like nothing's working particularly right, where people aren't competent, I mean, if they have to build a separate building for the plane, if they have to put a wax statue of Sully next to it, whatever the case may be -- put it out near Dulles, build a new structure -- I think it's something worth commemorating.

MS. CLIFT: Well, they found a nice place for it, where -- in North Carolina, I think. I'm fine with that. I think a lot works well in this country.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Out of time. Bye-bye.

END.