Share

The McLaughlin Group Host: John McLaughlin Panel: Pat Buchanan, Author and Columnist; Eleanor Clift, Newsweek; Tim Carney, Washington Examiner; Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune Time: 11:30 a.m. EDT Broadcast Date: Weekend of April 7-8, 2012

-----------------------------------------------------------------
Copyright (c) 2012 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: America Eastering.

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN: (From videotape.) I've spoken of a shining city all my political life. But I don't know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind, it was a tall, proud city, built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds, living in harmony and peace. That's how I saw it, and see it still.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A shining city on a hill. This vision of Ronald Reagan has been termed American exceptionalism. French political philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville so named it almost two centuries ago. In his four-volume study, de Tocqueville described America's ethos as built on liberty, individualism, egalitarianism and populism, and an economic philosophy that is largely laissez faire.

Question: On this Easter, is the U.S. today renewing itself, resurrecting itself, so to speak? Do we look like Reagan's shining city on the hill, Pat?

PAT BUCHANAN: I don't think so, Pat. I don't think it's morning in America right now, and I don't think many people do. We're still the greatest country on earth, the greatest economy, greatest military, a mighty power. But we can't defend our borders. We can't balance our budgets. We can't win our wars. Our culture is an embarrassment, if it's not a national disgrace. I think our politics are very poisonous today. We're divided.

I think the United States, quite frankly, is the greatest nation in history, but I do believe it's in a period of inexorable decline, just like western civilization is, when you see what is happening in Europe. And I don't think it's pulled out of that in the last four years. And the unity that was promised both by Bush and Obama has not been achieved.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, serious crimes are down. Longevity is up. People are living to be advanced old ages. The problem today is obesity, not being underfed. There are some good things going on in America. Is it renewing itself?

ELEANOR CLIFT: Well, listening to Pat, I'm tempted to turn the slogan from the right back on him and say love it or leave it. (Laughter.)

The Republicans today, I think, would have difficulty relating to Reagan's vision of a country teeming with people from everywhere, because their policies on immigration have been really rather nativistic.

And secondly, the Republican mantra seems to be somehow to blame Obama for this imagined decline. And I look at Robert Kagan, who is a conservative thinker and writer. He advises Mitt Romney. He advised John McCain. He has an essay out called "The Myth of American Decline" that President Obama has been touting.

And you look back in history. In the `50s, when the Russians put Sputnik up, we worried that was the end of our superiority. In the `60s, after the Vietnam War, this country didn't feel so great about itself; the `70s, when OPEC was knocking us around a bit; and the `80s, when we looked at Japan and thought that they were going to really take over the world.

None of that came true. This is a resilient country. We're not in decline. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Robert Kagan. It's a small book, "The Myth of America in Decline," if you can get it as a book from a bookstore; great book.

TIM CARNEY: Well, I was going to stay, I think Obama hasn't learned from sort of the myth of Japanese exceptionalism from the 1980s. And when he talks about -- he does this sort of "win the future" talk, as if there's an America and we're all in it together, and we can't let China beat us in solar panels. We can't let Germany beat us in exports.

And so all the de Tocqueville stuff you talk about, about laissez faire and individual liberty, Obama is using sort of nationalism and worry about America's place in the economy as an excuse to do more government management of the economy in the form of corporate welfare, in the form of more export subsidies. And that's one of his big things now; more green energy subsidies.

So Obama's idea of national American exceptionalism is that we're going to out-corporate-welfare China and Germany.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that the way you read Obama?

CLARENCE PAGE: Well, John, there's two visions of the future of the country. There are those who say it's five minutes before midnight, and there are those who say it's five minutes before dawn. My friend Pat sees us in dire straits right now. I see us as on the verge of transition and reawakening, renewal for a new generation.

The world is changing. America is changing. But we're a very resilient country. We're a very innovative country. I think the kind of innovations you're talking about with Obama's programs, he's trying to draw some kind of a compromise between our need to move beyond fossil fuels, for example, into this new global economy, into trying to modernize our educational structure right now.

As Charles Murray's new book shows, a high school diploma is no longer enough to get you into the middle class. And yet not everybody belongs in a four-year college. We need to do more with folks who are in between.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK, the U.S. mystique.

Item: Manifest Destiny; originally, U.S. expansion across the continent, an expansion inherently wise and also inexorable.

Item: Neutralism, declaring the U.S. to be neutral, not responsible for actions of belligerents in wars.

Item: Sovereignty. The U.S. has supreme independent authority over its territory. Item: War. The U.S. has the power to wage war and has been preoccupied with war for over a century -- Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Korea, World War II, World War I.

So where is America today? The international stage is populated by superpowers: China, Russia, India, and, owing to their nuclear arsenals, the U.K., France, Israel, Pakistan, North Korea.

So how is the U.S. positioned today? Are we number one, or are we one of nine? Are we the U.N. enforcer? Are we the world's CIA? Do we stop others from becoming number one? Does the nuclear warhead count matter?

Question: In the light of this mystique, how would you describe President Barack Obama's policy for the U.S.? Eleanor Clift.

MS. CLIFT: I would call it pragmatic idealism. He picks his spots. He is certainly not a dove when it comes to military engagement. He took on Libya and strikes in Yemen. And the drone strikes have set a whole new pattern of military engagement.

But because military power and economic power are so intertwined, I think there is a sense that we are the lone superpower. But there are other emerging powers out there who are really beating us out when it comes to the economy --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Would you call --

MS. CLIFT: -- which is why I would say that Obama's right --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat --

MS. CLIFT: -- to worry about being competitive about everything, from solar panels to getting people educated with brain power.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Could you call him an interventionist, a selective interventionist?

MR. BUCHANAN: Sure. I don't disagree. I think President Obama has done a pretty good job on foreign policy, quite frankly. But, John, again, take the long view. The United States at the end of World War II, we had 12 million men under arms. We put together this mighty NATO alliance. We defeated the Soviet empire in 1991. We basically ruled the world.

Since then, you've seen America in retreat. We're coming out of Iraq. We're coming out of Afghanistan. We're reducing in Korea. We're coming out of Europe. We've got a 10-percent-of-GDP budget deficit. And the attacks are being made, not on the entitlements, but on the military.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mm-hmm. (Acknowledging.)

MR. BUCHANAN: The United States is in retreat. Take a look at the European countries, at all those great empires, Britain and France and the EU. They're disintegrating as countries. None of them's got a birthrate to enable them to survive. They're all being invaded. The EU is disintegrating.

(Cross talk.)

MR. CARNEY: I think this is amazing.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why is it amazing?

MR. CARNEY: I think it's amazing hearing Pat Buchanan worrying about us being less of an empire around the world.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Laughs.)

MR. BUCHANAN: (I'm talking about ?) unilateral retreat -- (inaudible) -- on our own in 1991 instead of all these stupid wars.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Don't you understand?

MR. CARNEY: But Obama is -- hopefully Libya will be the end of it. Hopefully he will be as selective. I do worry, though, that his foreign policy is going to be the same as Bush's, where we are going to not take this neutrality, but this world's policeman. In fact, as long as you don't have a nuclear weapon -- if you have a nuclear weapon, we leave you to yourself.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What he's responsible for, in many ways, is enhancing the world's global trading system. So we have GATT, G-A-T- T. We have the World Trade Organization. This global trade system is keeping others going, and it's renewing ourselves. You agree with that.

MR. PAGE: I think that's bipartisan, though.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And that's a huge achievement --

MR. PAGE: That's bipartisan.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- to move that forward.

MR. PAGE: We are in a global economy. And economically, I think both parties recognize that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And he handles that well, does he not? MR. PAGE: He handles it well. You don't hear complaints even from Obama's worst critics about his foreign policy, frankly, because --

MR. BUCHANAN: John --

MR. PAGE: -- (inaudible).

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Even he threw him half a compliment.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, you lost half of your industry in the last 20 years. It's been exported because of free trade.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but you can't --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: China and Brazil are an American creation. That's what they are, through the global trading system.

MR. BUCHANAN: We created China is exactly right.

MS. CLIFT: That's not all Obama's fault, although the Republicans would --

MR. BUCHANAN: It's the Republican Party.

MS. CLIFT: -- like to make it seem that way.

But to go back to Reagan's shining city on the hill, much of the world still looks to us to come in and fix problems. And I think -- look at Syria. I think there's still -- there's pressure to go in there and save the Syrian people. Obama has resisted. So you've got to pick your spots. But I think it's still correct that --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Don't forget --

MS. CLIFT: -- the world looks to America as --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Don't forget -- and it's not only hard power. It's soft power. America has soft power. Do you understand that?

MR. BUCHANAN: But John, we are hated in the Islamic world because of these interventions and bombings and killings. It has done nothing for us. And you've got the rise of Islamism --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question --

MR. BUCHANAN: -- all in these areas which we're supposed to liberate.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Interesting point.

Exit question: Has America done more to spread peace and prosperity than any other power in human history? Yes or no. MR. BUCHANAN: Undeniably. It's the greatest country in history.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I'm not going to dispute that. But when Obama took office, he came after an administration that invaded two Muslim countries, and the Islamic world really did hate us. And he's done some fence mending.

But you've got to get along with the rest of the world, especially when there are more of them than there are of us.

MR. CARNEY: Yes. And we've spread it mostly, again, as an example, a shining city.

MR. PAGE: Hey, I'm not going to sit here and deny we're the best, but we make mistakes too. You know, that's what we've got to remember. And unfortunately, we too often learn from the previous mistakes how to make the next ones. And I think this is why -- this is a time when we need to be more cautious about our involvement with other countries, while the world, at the same time, is still looking to us for leadership.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is yes, through freedom, capitalism and global trade. We did it more than anybody.

Issue Two: Listen to Reason.

The Washington, D.C. National Mall recently was the site of an assemblage that named itself, quote-unquote, "Reason Rally." Twenty thousand atheists showed up to celebrate nonbelieverhood, reason. This self-described Woodstock for atheists was co-organized by David Silverman, the president of American Atheists, an organization that protects the civil rights of atheists.

Here's President Silverman urging atheists to come out of the closet.

DAVID SILVERMAN (president, American Atheists): (From videotape.) The message is that if you can come out, you can come out. And if you can't come out, at least you'll know you're not alone. And maybe sometime soon you'll be able to come out of the closet to your family.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Of the 535 members in both chambers of the U.S. Congress, currently there is one -- that's one -- declared atheist. His name is Fortney Hillman Stark Jr., aka Pete Stark. Pete is a Democrat from California who has served consecutively since 1973, 40 years. He's now in his 20th term. His district, the 13th, is Alameda County, California's Bay Area. Congressman Stark wins the election every two years with a bold mandate, if not a landslide. In the last election, 2010, he was reelected with 72 percent of the vote.

Question: The Secular Coalition for America claims that 28 atheists are in the U.S. Congress, though the coalition does not name names. Why are those atheists all still in the closet except for one, Pete Stark? I ask you, Tim.

MR. CARNEY: Well, I think that Americans realize that we don't really have the ability to hold our politicians accountable. I mean, Congress, you get these districts where you win with 73 percent. And so, for a lot of Americans, one thing that does keep them accountable is the idea that there are repercussions for your actions.

I think that a lot of people think that if you don't believe in an afterlife, if you don't believe in eternal implications for what you do, that if you could just get away with stealing and ripping people off, and as long as you don't get caught, you're fine, I don't think somebody would trust somebody who didn't believe in an afterlife with so much power over them. So I think it is an important consideration.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think you have to a theist to believe in an afterlife?

MR. CARNEY: Yeah. I mean, I think -- yes, you do.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I don't think you do.

MR. CARNEY: You think you can believe -- who controls the keys?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And also, don't confuse immorality and morality --

MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- with atheism.

MR. CARNEY: No. And --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You can be perfectly moral --

MR. CARNEY: But it's hard to trust --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You can be obviously moral and you can be accepted as being a truly moral person and be an atheist. Correct?

MR. PAGE: Right. I think we need to talk about public perceptions. Religiosity is still a strong enough force in American politics --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you sure? Are you sure? MR. PAGE: -- that people -- if you want to talk about why we don't see more out-of-the-closet atheists in Congress, yeah, it's because you lose votes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think if you are an admitted atheist and you come out of the closet, you're not going to be reelected.

MR. PAGE: Well, what's important here, John, is --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Except for Pete Stark.

MR. PAGE: -- that it's coming out of the closet in recent years, I believe, because of Christopher Hitchens and various other bestselling authors writing about it very boldly. People say, oh, you don't necessarily break into flames if you announce that you're an atheist. And so especially some young people, it's become chic to say you're an atheist, whether they're really sincere about it or not.

MS. CLIFT: My late husband was an atheist. My late husband was an atheist.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And publicly so -- publicly so.

MS. CLIFT: Well, publicly.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tom told me he was an atheist.

MS. CLIFT: Yes, but --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And it was in a -- it was a group like this.

MS. CLIFT: Yes, but he didn't like his mother to know, who lived in Cleveland and played the organ in the Catholic church every morning. (Laughs.) So there are some people that you feel more comfortable. I think there's a false assumption that if you go to church and you profess a religion that somehow you get a pass when it comes to morals and ethics, when, in fact, you can go to a website called HappyAtheistForum.com and they are saying that atheists need to change their image.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mm-hmm. (Acknowledging.)

MS. CLIFT: And they are seen as sort of this gloomy bunch, when, in fact, they believe you should build a hospital instead of a church and you should help people in the here and now --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are they politicized --

MS. CLIFT: -- as opposed to praying to some hereafter.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Isn't that a public -- political group? MS. CLIFT: No, they're not political. But I've been to -- I went to a number of events with Tom, humanist events. There were a lot of former clergy in their numbers.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?

MR. BUCHANAN: John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK, the believers.

ARIS, A-R-I-S, stands for the American Religious Identification Survey -- ARIS. It works with a sample of more than 54,000 American adults.

ARIS says traditional religions in the U.S. have lost a sizable number of members, 1990 to 2008.

So here's a snapshot of where our religious bodies stand as a percent of the U.S. total adult population. Methodists comprise 5 percent of the U.S. adult population; Lutherans, 3.8 percent; Presbyterian, 2.1; Episcopalian, Anglican, 1.1 percent. In the Catholic Church, immigrants sustain membership, but the U.S. church still fell to 25.1 percent of the population. The survey also found that those with no stated religious preference grew from 8.2 percent in 1990 to 15 percent in 2008.

By the way, many Catholic Hispanic immigrants joined the U.S. Catholic population, but the Catholic population nevertheless dropped 1.1 percent, despite the Hispanic influx. Do you want to speak to that?

MR. PAGE: Well, you're seeing not just Hispanics but Africans, many immigrants are populating our churches now at a faster rate than the old-school families whose younger folks are drifting away from organized religion. This is giving the church new life in America, I think, and it's affecting --

MR. BUCHANAN: John --

MR. PAGE: -- a lot of our perceptions of the (future ?) America.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, the immigrants -- if it weren't for immigrants, the Catholic Church would have lost one fourth of its membership in the last half century. Catholics are 25 percent of the population, John, but only one fourth of them attend church regularly. One in every 10 Americans is a lapsed Catholic.

You mentioned Methodists, Lutherans, Episcopalians, Presbyterians; used to be the dominant force in America. They're 12 percent of it. Protestants, who were 99 percent of the country, are now at 50 percent and falling.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.

MR. BUCHANAN: Atheists are about 16 percent. MS. CLIFT: People are shopping around.

MR. BUCHANAN: It's a change --

MS. CLIFT: People are shopping around everywhere.

MR. BUCHANAN: Sure.

MS. CLIFT: They're changing religions. They're looking for choice. It's like at Starbucks.

(Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let Tim in.

MS. CLIFT: There are all these different varieties.

MR. CARNEY: I think you'll see the Catholic numbers turn around, because you go to mass -- go to St. Mary's, where Pat goes; go to St. Bernadette's or St. John's, where I go, and you see a lot of families, like mine, with three, four, five, six, seven, eight kids.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit --

MR. CARNEY: So --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: When will America have --

MS. CLIFT: You're in the minority.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- its first out-of-the-closet atheist president? Kindly give me the year. Pat Buchanan, quickly.

MR. BUCHANAN: It would be after 2050, after mid-century.

MS. CLIFT: After the demographics change. And I think religious identification --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: When is that?

MS. CLIFT: -- is not going to be --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: When is that?

MS. CLIFT: Well, after 2050. I'll go for 2080. I won't be around to be accountable, so --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh. You're -- (inaudible) -- yourself.

MR. CARNEY: By 2080, everybody will be named Carney, Cuccinelli or Mohammed, so I don't think -- it'll have to happen before the growing Catholic bubble takes over the population. MR. PAGE: 2074. I'm not sure if that's a presidential election year, but sometime around there. But one thing -- you know, church attendance is going up among the more educated folks. This is an interesting demographic.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is 90 years from now, the turn of the century.

Issue Three: The War on Drugs.

A shocker -- the president of Guatemala, a Central American country, has proposed an extremely controversial agenda item for the upcoming summit: Drug legalization. Drugs and drug violence are plaguing much of Central and South America. So listen carefully. The president of Guatemala has proposed a regional court to try drug traffickers and to decriminalize the transport and consumption of drugs and getting economic compensation from the United States for drugs seized in the U.S.

On compensation, he said, quote, "For every kilo of cocaine that is seized, we want to be compensated 50 percent by the consumer countries," unquote. The U.S. has a, quote-unquote, "responsibility," he says, to reimburse drug producers, because the U.S. has one of the highest rates of drug use on the planet. Legalizing drug use is a thorny issue itself, and some say outlandish for a U.S. president running for reelection.

The U.S. State Department said the U.S. is, quote, "willing to listen," unquote, to a drug legalization debate at the summit, but that, quote, "For us, frankly, legalization is not the solution," unquote.

The U.S. war on drugs has been going on since 1971, first declared by someone Patrick Buchanan worked for, President Richard M. Nixon, who resigned from office later. So has the war on drugs been swept under the rug, and is it a failure? Patrick.

MR. BUCHANAN: Yes. Look what's happening in Mexico. Mexico is at war with these cartels. You've got Latin America. All of these areas, John, have really been huge amounts of criminality because of the demand in the United States for drugs. We've criminalized an awful lot of people in this country. But the problem is, you've got horrendous alternatives. You legalize drugs and you let a significant part of your society, especially young people, be destroyed. You fight the war on it and you create all these criminals.

You've got -- as I wrote in my book, John, you've got Milton's solution or Mao's solution. Milton Friedman says legalize them all and forget it; that solves it. Mao says we kill everybody, the drug dealers and the drug users; he solved it. But we're not going to do either one. I think we're going to limp along.

But eventually my guess is that people who say legalize are going to win.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: By the way, I put in there that Nixon resigned, which is kind of smirky on my part, but what's the reconsideration going on of Watergate?

MR. BUCHANAN: I think Watergate -- what people are looking at is, I mean, there was no doubt something was done wrong at Watergate, but was it a coup d'etat by the people who wanted to overthrow Nixon after his 49-state victory?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?

MS. CLIFT: OH, please. And who would that be? That would be -- (laughter) -- a cadre of liberals? (Laughter.)

MR. BUCHANAN: That's exactly -- we know who did it. (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: The Mondale mafia? (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And I worked for Nixon too and I have a lot of respect for him.

MR. PAGE: Don't forget drugs, John. (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: He did a lot of good things, but wiretapping --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, great; opened up the China corridor.

MS. CLIFT: -- people and criminalizing --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.

MS. CLIFT: -- using the FBI --

MR. PAGE: Don't forget drugs, John.

MR. CARNEY: Can I say something about drug legalization?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Outlawed over-the-counter allergy medicines like Sudafed. You know, how far is this going? MR. CARNEY: And we legalize -- I mean, alcohol, thanks be to God, is perfectly legal in this country, but it's much worse than marijuana. And you talk about drug legalization.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, we're talking about heroin and coke.

MR. CARNEY: Yeah. I mean, so marijuana -- I think legalizing it, decriminalizing it, is a no-brainer. And then heroin and coke --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you do with heroin and coke? That's in the category --

MR. CARNEY: Yeah. And that --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- that this gentleman talked about.

MR. CARNEY: And that, I think, you definitely need drastic reform. I saw a number today that a thousand people a week are dying in Mexico because of drug violence, OK? Or a thousand a month.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So you want to maintain the penalties against drug use --

MR. CARNEY: No, but you have to change --

MR. BUCHANAN: Tim represents the younger generation, and I think he probably represents the future on the --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you mean? They're all potheads? (Laughs.)

MR. BUCHANAN: No. I mean, we were very hard line on drugs and it's not working.

MR. CARNEY: It's not working at all. Even the drug czar says it's not working.

MR. PAGE: And every time --

MS. CLIFT: You're not going to destroy any more people if you legalize --

MR. PAGE: Every time --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who wants to sit next to a drug --

MR. PAGE: -- it's put to a vote -- John, every time it's put to a vote --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- (inaudible)? Who wants to go through that kind of a -- MR. PAGE: Every time it's put to a vote, it gets more support, especially legalizing marijuana for medicinal use.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.

MR. PAGE: And I think that's the first --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The District of Columbia --

MR. PAGE: -- (inaudible) -- we're seeing fall.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- is permitting that within the District. Do you know that?

MR. PAGE: I know that, John. I can run down through all the states if you want. But the fact is, step by step, we're moving in that direction. First you'll see legalization for medicinal purposes. Then you'll see legalization of marijuana. As people become more comfortable with that, they will -- you'll see these other harder drugs become regulated, because that's really what we're talking about here.

I mean, cigarettes are more addictive than heroin. And I can speak to that, at least for the cigarette part.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you want to say about it --

MR. PAGE: The fact --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- that you were the victim of a habit?

MR. PAGE: -- is it is more addictive. But it's legal.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: There will be no war with Iran before November -- before January, as a matter of fact -- because Obama and the U.S. military don't want it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: President Obama will take the opening suggested by George Clooney and press the Chinese to put pressure on the government in Khartoum to stop shelling in the south --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mm-hmm. (Acknowledging.)

MS. CLIFT: -- and get that oil flowing.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mm-hmm. (Acknowledging.) Thank you, George Clooney. MR. CARNEY: The pressure from inside Syria and from corners in the U.S. for the U.S. to involve on behalf of the Syrian rebels will grow.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mm-hmm. (Acknowledging.)

MR. CARNEY: But Obama will not do it, in part because China and Russia don't want us to.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Five seconds, Clarence.

MR. PAGE: By the time the Supreme Court rules on "Obamacare," we'll see public approval rise as people see more --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mm-hmm. (Acknowledging.)

MR. PAGE: -- parts of it that they like.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And this is going to help it.

Commander in Chief Obama will advance the withdrawal deadline of U.S. troops from Afghanistan by a minimum of 12 months; that is, by December 2013.

Bye-bye. Happy Easter.

END.