The McLaughlin Group
Host: John McLaughlin
Pat Buchanan, Author and Columnist;
Eleanor Clift, Newsweek/The Daily Beast;
David Rennie, The Economist;
Mort Zuckerman, U.S. News & World Report
Taped: Friday, July 26, 2013
Broadcast: Weekend of July 27-28, 2013
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JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: The Vietnam Syndrome.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: (From videotape.) Both the United States and Vietnam are participating in what will be an extraordinarily ambitious effort to increase trade, commerce and transparency in terms of commercial relationships throughout Asia.
VIETNAMESE PRESIDENT TRUONG TAN SANG: (From videotape.) Given the progress of our bilateral relationship over the past 18 years, it is time now to form a comprehensive policy in order to further strengthen our relations in various areas.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: President Obama met this week at the White House with the president of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Truong Tan Sang.
At the top of the agenda was bilateral trade between the two nations, now at $24 billion, and how to enlarge that trade volume. The summit comes as Vietnam's trade with China, still its number one trading partner, is cooling.
China's economy is in an incipient slump. At the same time, tensions have developed between Vietnam and China due to China's territorial interest off Vietnam's 900-mile coast south of China's Guangxi Province.
The United States is Vietnam's second-largest trading partner after China. Also in the region is Japan, which held parliamentary elections last Sunday, wherein Prime Minister Abe won with big numbers, having run on a policy of dramatically increasing Japan's defense spending to counter China's military buildup.
Against this backdrop, the United States and Vietnam have agreed to establish a constructive partnership on the basis of equality, mutual respect and benefit. The Trans-Pacific Partnership countries are still working out the TPP trade deal. They are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.
Question: Is Vietnam vital to President Obama's Asia pivot? Pat Buchanan.
PAT BUCHANAN: Well, it is part of it, John. But the United States economy is more than 100 times as large as Vietnam's. They want access -- they want our investment capital. They want access to the largest market in the world. We get access to this little teeny one.
Most important, they want the United States to come in and, in effect, be on their side in the great conflict for the South China Sea, where the Paracel and the Spratly Islands are both claimed by China. And there's a real possibility of a territorial conflict in the South China Sea between Vietnam and China. And they want to draw us into a potential conflict there. And it is our interest -- in our interest to stay out of that particular conflict.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think what Pat's saying is true? Maybe it's in our interest --
ELEANOR CLIFT: Well --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- to join hands with Vietnam in some kind of a retention wall against China.
MS. CLIFT: Well, Vietnam is terrified of what China is doing. They are interpreting the moves in the South China Sea as aggressive. And you've got oil and various, you know, minerals are at stake. And so Vietnam is looking around for allies. I mean, China has been an historic enemy. They have fought many wars, the last in 1979.
And so Vietnam fits very nicely into the White House pivot towards Asia. And it's a thriving economy. We need the export market. And frankly, this many decades after the war, you know, people still want to somehow justify what we did there. And you hear a lot of conservatives who don't like to admit we lost the war say, but look, you know, they're capitalists now and all the trade is going on. So I think there's some psychological interplay here as well.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, let me pick that up for you, Eleanor.
OK, lessons from Vietnam.
Fifty-one years ago, the U.S. intervened in Vietnam's civil war on the side of the south, South Vietnam. More than 58,000 Americans died in the war. The scale of this loss spawned a massive antiwar movement and deeply divided public opinion.
In 1973, former President Richard Nixon negotiated the Paris peace accords, whereby the U.S. turned over security to the ARVN, the Army of the Republic of Vietnam, under a program dubbed Vietnamization. U.S. troop withdrawal followed.
In 1975, the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon fell to the north, and Vietnam was united under a communist government. Twenty years later, the U.S. and communist Vietnam reestablished relations. Today Vietnam competes with China as a source of U.S. manufacturing, and it is a major tourist destination for Americans.
Question: What are today's lessons of Vietnam for U.S. military intervention in places like Afghanistan and Syria? I ask you, David.
DAVID RENNIE: Well, you saw the letter from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Dempsey, wrote to the Senate this week explaining why Syria -- there were options, but they were difficult, and you had to think about how you would get out of them, how those would end politically, and how much they would cost.
Every word that he wrote had Vietnam running through it. The lessons of Vietnam, I think, are -- that generation of the top military leaders today, they came of age as officers in Vietnam, many of them. And they remember the fact that you can have all of the military advantages, all of the strength and the firepower, but if you don't know where you're going politically and you don't know what your end game is, you have a military that cannot deliver. And I think those lessons are etched all through the top leadership of the Pentagon today.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was that noted very heavily by the press?
MR. RENNIE: I think people understand that that's the context. And, of course, you have the extraordinary sort of historical resonance of the secretary of state, John Kerry. He came of age as the young protester coming to the Senate and telling them that he now regretted his military service in Vietnam.
So you have a whole generation. You have the defense secretary, who was a noncommissioned officer in Vietnam. It's a whole generation steeped in Vietnam.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK. Humble pie.
The Vietnam War delivered humbling lessons to several American statesmen, notably President Lyndon Baines Johnson and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara. In tape recordings that remained secret until a decade ago, Johnson admitted that he wanted to pull out of Vietnam but couldn't find a way to do so without undermining his own political viability. So he continued to send American draftees to fight and die in Vietnam in what Johnson himself believed was an unwinnable war.
His defense secretary, Robert McNamara, prevailed upon him to do so. Under Mr. McNamara, the Vietnam War escalated from a U.S.-South Vietnam advisory role to a peak of 534,000 combat forces in the field supporting South Vietnam.
McNamara, in his 1995 memoir, described the war as a, quote- unquote, "terrible error." As for LBJ, the war crushed him physically and emotionally. He resolved his dilemma by declining to run for reelection.
As for the mood in the country, it was reflected in the words of Lieutenant John Kerry, who served two tours in Vietnam, 1966 to 1970. Lieutenant Kerry was awarded a Silver Star, a Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts. Here's a piece of his testimony on behalf of Vietnam Veterans Against the War.
THEN-LIEUTENANT JOHN KERRY: (From videotape.) How do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam? How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: President Obama escalated the U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan, and he's now poised to give U.S. military aid to Syria's rebels. So has Commander in Chief Obama absorbed the lessons of Vietnam? Mort Zuckerman.
MORT ZUCKERMAN: Well, I can't answer that question, to be honest. But the whole context is very different. What happened in Vietnam was at a time when there was a great fear of communist expansion. That was sort of the bugaboo of what was going on in American politics at that time.
There's nothing like that here. To provide weapons, for example, to Syrian rebels is not the same thing as getting a huge amount, 500,000-plus troops, involved in a war zone. And, in fact, what happens there, and particularly in the Middle East, is a lot of our allies are pushing to have at least some level of support for the rebels in Syria. So I think that is a whole different kind of dimension that you have to put into what happened in Vietnam, as compared to this.
MR. BUCHANAN: The lesson -- John, the lesson that Obama has gotten is the lesson not of Vietnam. He was a kid. It's the lesson of Iraq, what happened to the United States there; the lesson of Afghanistan. He came in determined to extricate the United States from these two wars the way Richard Nixon extricated the United States from Vietnam from 1968 to 1973. I was right there with him, John, in those days that he did it. We had 535,000 troops in Vietnam when we took office. Five years later, there were none.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but the decision to go into Iraq was just that. It was a decision. And Vietnam, if you look at it, it was an incremental involvement carried over several presidencies.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the point?
MS. CLIFT: The point is that the lessons of Vietnam are very relevant today. And this president is terrified of getting sucked into Syria, which is why his policy is mostly feckless. It's a little here, a little there. And the guiding principle is no boots on the ground. That's definitely out of Vietnam.
I mean, if you talk to Marvin Kalb, who has an excellent book out called "The Road to War: Presidential Commitments Honored and Betrayed," he looks over these presidencies from Truman through Nixon and sees the gradual involvement in war. And today -- what drove all the men then was this hubris about American power.
He has an anecdote where Dean Rusk, who was secretary of state, slapped his hand on the table next to a bottle of Johnny Red, I think -- (laughs) -- saying if America wants something to happen, it happens. And that was after the Tet offensive.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: David Rennie, what are your thoughts?
MS. CLIFT: Obama does not have that illusion.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What are your thoughts, David, on this?
MR. RENNIE: Well, I think it's clear that if Syria was a problem entirely on its own, then there would be no action at all. But why is the president thinking about acting in Syria? It's because American credibility is at stake in a much more urgent crisis in Iran.
But the president has told Iran that he will not tolerate it getting a nuclear weapon. And he also then set his red lines with the Syrians and the chemical weapons. They then seemed to use the chemical weapons, having set that red line. There was tremendous pressure on America to prove that when America says something, it means it. And I don't think you can separate what's happened in Syria from the other conflicts (in the region ?).
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What lessons do you see directly from Vietnam? Is there kind of an automatic propulsion to keep going, to inflate, to get 58,000 Americans killed, and the volume -- half a million troops over there?
MR. RENNIE: (Inaudible.) I think Eleanor's point is very well made. But, you know, that hubris, the idea of slamming the table and saying American firepower can do what it likes --
MR. BUCHANAN: That hubris is gone.
MR. RENNIE: -- nobody believes that. The remarkable thing, traveling around the country, writing about American public opinion and the war in Afghanistan --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is you.
MR. RENNIE: Yeah, me recently -- is that the American public, when they are extraordinarily respectful of the troops and welcoming the troops home from Afghanistan, they will often say explicitly we are doing this in part because we feel bad about how we treated the returning troops from Vietnam. I think that's a real hangover from Vietnam.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, the 1966 -- and I've been looking at the polls -- 70 percent supported Johnson; 80 percent supported the war in Vietnam. Look, that was a very popular war. It was 88 to 2 for the Tonkin Gulf resolution. It was very popular in `65. In `66 it became a problem. By `68 the Democratic Party was split three ways. And that's when it happened, John. But that was five years into the war.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There was widespread popular unrest for that war. The antiwar -- Vietnam --
MR. BUCHANAN: Not in `65.
MS. CLIFT: It took a while.
MR. BUCHANAN: It started in `65 on the campuses.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I can't believe your statistics at the end.
MR. BUCHANAN: Look, it was --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I lived through that.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, look, but in 1965, early on, there was no problem. Johnson won the election in a giant landslide.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question.
MS. CLIFT: Iraq was popular too. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I've got to get to the bottom of this. Should the long-term lessons of Vietnam include renewed respect for the universal principle of non-intervention in another nation's sovereign affairs, notably their civil wars? Don't intervene --
MR. BUCHANAN: All right, Mort was right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- because of the previous failures.
MR. BUCHANAN: This was part of the Cold War, not just a civil war. But as for intervention in civil wars, exactly right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So stay out of Iran.
MS. CLIFT: Right.
MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Try and do it with Israel, our close ally.
MR. BUCHANAN: There's going to be a push for a war in Iran, and it's coming this year.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: There'll be a push for it. And if this president has learned, he will not be bombing Iran; renewed respect for knowing your limitations and renewed respect for understanding something about your enemy. We went into Vietnam --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.
MS. CLIFT: -- knowing nothing about the culture, the religion, nothing.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: David Rennie.
MR. RENNIE: I don't think non-intervention is the principle. I think it's understanding the risks. And I think with Iran, I would disagree with Pat. If your choice is bombing Iran or allowing Iran to have a bomb, there is an argument for taking action.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: When is humankind going to reach a postwar -- a postwar continuing mentality that prevails?
MR. BUCHANAN: Not soon.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Not soon.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Not soon?
MR. BUCHANAN: I'll say never.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: It hasn't happened.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Never?
MR. BUCHANAN: Only the dead know the end of war, said Plato.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How miserably pessimistic you are.
MR. BUCHANAN: Plato and MacArthur.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: War is passe.
MR. BUCHANAN: You should tell it to the Syrians.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, right. (Laughs.)
MR. ZUCKERMAN: John, I hope you're right. I don't believe you are, but I hope you're right. And I think when you are sitting in the White House, you have to make decisions based not just on hopes but on realism.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I hope he realizes the quicksand that will suck him in deeper and deeper and deeper.
Issue Two: Iran's New Leader.
Ahmadinejad is out. Rowhani is in. Iran has a new president. Hassan Rowhani is a 65-year-old Iranian cleric. He won Iran's election with 50.7 percent of the vote six weeks ago, and he will succeed President Ahmadinejad in August.
Rowhani is considered an Iranian moderate whose focus is Iran's shattered economy, plus this. "We are ready to show more transparency to the world." This transparency assertion is piquing the interest of the White House, which favors, quote-unquote, "direct talks with Iran."
The two nations have not had diplomatic relations for over three decades, since 1980. Incoming President Rowhani was once Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, but he has already made it clear that Iran is not backing down on the enrichment of uranium, which Iran insists is for electrical and medical purposes.
At his first post-election news conference, Rowhani said this. Quote: "Neither threat nor sanctions are effective. The solution lies in holding negotiations and reaching a mutual trust. The solution of reaching a mutual trust is possible," unquote.
Question: Incoming President Rowhani takes office in August. How fast should President Obama move to engage Iran in negotiations with him? David Rennie.
MR. RENNIE: He should move fast, but be extraordinarily tough. He should say there must be very intrusive international inspections, because we don't basically trust this new guy any more than we trusted the last guy. They want a bomb, and we have to watch them like hawks.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't trust him any more than you do Ahmadinejad?
MS. CLIFT: He was a negotiator eight years ago.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: It is Khamenei who is in charge of the nuclear program. That's the maximum leader, so to speak. And they believe, and maybe they're right, that this is the only thing that will defend the country and their regime if they have nuclear weapons. So they're not about to give it up.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, they are -- let me tell you this, John. This fellow was elected on the fact that I'm going to get sanctions lifted; I'm going to bring Iran back into the community of nations.
I agree with David; get massive intrusive inspections on everything. But you're going to have to agree to their right to a peaceful nuclear program because the Iranians are united on that. I think we can get a deal, and I think Obama ought to go for it.
MS. CLIFT: Right. And he --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on, Eleanor. Hold on.
OK, reaction to Rowhani.
President Obama was at the G-8 summit in Northern Ireland when President Rowhani was elected last month, in June. Mr. Obama expressed, quote-unquote, "cautious optimism" that with a new election, there would be a new dialogue regarding Iran's nuclear program.
But Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was less impressed.
ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: (From videotape.) They're building ICBMs to reach American -- the American mainland within a few years.
They're pursuing an alternate route of plutonium -- that is, enriched uranium -- to build a nuclear bomb; one route, plutonium; another route, in ICBMs, intercontinental ballistic missiles, to reach you. They don't need these missiles to reach us. They already have missiles that can reach us. They're doing that after the elections.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: As for Iranian President Rowhani himself?
PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: (From videotape.) He believes -- he's criticizing his predecessor for being a wolf in wolf's clothing. His strategy is be a wolf in sheep's clothing; smile and build a bomb.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Prime Minister Netanyahu had these demands and this advice.
PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: (From videotape.) What really counts is what the Iranians do. They have to stop all enrichment of nuclear material, to take out the enriched uranium, to dismantle the illegal and shut down the illegal nuclear facility on Qom. And if sanctions don't work, then they have to know that you'll be prepared to take military action. That's the only thing that will get their attention.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: Well, nothing's going to change Netanyahu's mind. And he's right to the extent that Rowhani was the chief negotiator in the nuclear talks eight years ago. He's gentlemanly. He does things with a smile. He's more civil.
But he did campaign on taking a more moderate approach. The economy is really choked off. And there's been some movement already, because the president of Iraq, Maliki, has offered to help in the negotiations. And basically Maliki, even though we installed him, he's a puppet for Iran. So Iran probably put him up to that.
So there's some ferment going on there, and it's positive.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you optimistic or pessimistic?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, I'm neither. At this stage of the game, we're going to find out pretty quickly whether or not this is for real or whether or not this is just a ploy in order to buy time so that they can complete their program to develop the nuclear weapons.
MR. BUCHANAN: Wait a minute.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: They have --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Iranians are saying --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- stopped at nothing to get it done.
MR. BUCHANAN: U.S. --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- especially in Isfahan, which I happened to have seen, that it's for electricity and because they want to sell their oil. They've got plenty of oil, but they want to sell it. And they say they need to sell it. And that's why they installed the electricity, to make money. And Isfahan is running, and --
MR. BUCHANAN: It's Bushehr, John, is the -- look, they're not doing this for nuclear power. The point is, U.S. intelligence says they have not made a decision to go for a nuclear weapon. We have followed it. They haven't crossed any red line yet after 20 years. And there's a reason why they haven't. I don't think they've made a decision to go for a nuclear weapon because I don't know why it would be in their interest.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Rennie.
MR. RENNIE: They want to keep the option open.
MS. CLIFT: Right.
MR. RENNIE: And you would never go through all of these sanctions, you would never endure the extraordinary pain to your economy, if all you wanted was civilian electricity.
MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly.
MR. RENNIE: They're making it -- they want to get themselves in a position where, if they want to do a sprint to the bomb, they can do the sprint to the bomb.
MR. BUCHANAN: It would take a one-year --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But they also want the plutonium for cardiac usages.
MR. RENNIE: They don't need that much. You know, there is still --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I know they don't need that much.
MR. RENNIE: -- (inaudible).
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There's a level that they can go to without transgressing the wishes of Israel.
MR. RENNIE: The lesson to despots --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Where --
MR. RENNIE: The lesson to despots across the world, if they look at Qadhafi lying dead in a ditch and Saddam --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: By what right does Israel have to dictate terms --
MR. RENNIE: -- is get a bomb -- is get a bomb. That's the
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- have to dictate terms to --
MS. CLIFT: They feel that they're --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- especially when Ahmadinejad, who had those provocative things to say, or interpreted to be provocative, in the front of The New York Times, that Iran should -- that Israel should not be on the face of the earth, something like that. Do you remember that?
MR. RENNIE: Israel has the right to --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There's a new leader there now.
MR. RENNIE: Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, and it's America's closest ally in the region.
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MR. RENNIE: And we would rather it was not wiped from the face of the earth. An Iranian bomb would be an incredibly depressing prospect.
MR. BUCHANAN: Ahmadinejad --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is your magazine saying editorially about this?
MR. RENNIE: We think that the new president is -- his sweet smile is a danger. And we think you talk, but then you have to have these incredibly tough conditions.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three: By George, It's a Boy.
(Begin videotaped segment.)
PRINCE WILLIAM: (From videotape.) He's got her looks, thankfully.
CATHERINE (duchess of Cambridge): No, no, no.
(End videotaped segment.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The great Kate wait is over. The world got its first glimpse of his royal highness, Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge, the eight-pound, six-ounce baby boy born to Prince William and wife Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge.
Prince George is third in line to the British throne, now occupied by his great-grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II. Grandfather Charles and father William are first and second in line.
The news was accompanied by bells ringing at Westminster Abbey, special gun salutes, famous U.K. landmarks bathed in blue, like London Bridge, and, of course, everywhere ecstatic British throngs. And also everywhere, royal baby fever is serious business, notably in Britain, but also everywhere. Baby-related merchandise alone, like these adorable Union flag baby shoes, could boost the British economy by $380 million and upwards.
Indeed, the royal family is one of Britain's most lucrative brands, set to bring in an estimated 1.9 billion pounds -- that's "b," as in boy, billion pounds -- to Britain's economy this year alone through tourism and merchandise. And, since the advent of William and Kate, the popularity of the royals is high. Seventy-seven percent support the monarchy, compared to a low of 50 percent in the aftermath of the death of Diana, princess of Wales.
Question: Over the past two decades, the British royalty have fallen in and out of public favor, with some advocating an end to the monarchical tradition. What are the odds that this baby will one day be king of England? David Rennie.
MR. RENNIE: Better than ours. I think that they're in amazingly good shape at the moment, and part of that is the British public -- it's been said, and I think it's true -- the British, we like our royals either very young or very old. And it's when they're middle- aged and misbehaving themselves that they get into a lot of trouble. And that's what you saw two decades ago.
But now the queen, she's been on the throne, you know, more than 60 years. Her first prime minister was Winston Churchill. And so she's -- you know, she's the only queen that anyone in Britain has known.
The other extraordinary thing, being based here in America, is I thought that you went to a lot of trouble to get rid of King George, but people are pretty excited about this little Prince George. I don't really get it.
MR. BUCHANAN: George VII. Listen, William and Kate and Harry, even though Harry's a bit of a wild man -- he's a great soldier.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you mean, a wild man?
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, he had too good a time --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: With the airplane?
MR. BUCHANAN: -- had too good a time in Vegas.
MS. CLIFT: He's a young man. (Laughs.)
MR. BUCHANAN: They are extraordinarily popular with Americans. Americans were following this thing. They're all for this young couple. Frankly, they like the queen too. It's -- you know, I think Charlie's not quite as popular.
MS. CLIFT: The thing is, Diana was only 20 years old when she gave birth to William 31 years ago. And she was clearly unhappy, and that was a rocky time. But she is an icon, and she brought some beautiful genes in that family. And this young couple, they're mature. They're grounded. They drove away with him at the wheel, with the baby. You know, they weren't driven away in a limousine. They really seem to be able to relate to normal people. So, yeah, I think it's a wonderful time. And they're a great symbol for the country and great role models.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This baby is Prince George. Do you believe that Prince George will be king?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, at some point. It won't be for a while, because Prince Charles has been waiting for a long time, and so has --
MR. RENNIE: They have long-lived seniors.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yeah.
MR. RENNIE: It could be, like, 2070 or 2080 before he becomes king.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I'll tell you what. That whole family that we have seen is as telegenic a family and as appealing a family as you're ever going to see. And they have humanized the royal family in a way that I think is quite remarkable.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think it's too good to be --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: And it's added to their popularity.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think it's too good to be true?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Why is it too good to be true?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I don't know.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I hope it isn't.
MS. CLIFT: They've learned --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I don't know. I mean, this is not my field of specialty. But I can only say that they certainly have a certain kind of tone about them.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, we said this about Princess Diana. Remember her?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I know, but I'm going to --
MR. BUCHANAN: Real charisma.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- believe in the good interpretation of it all.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You remember Princess Diana.
MR. RENNIE: Yeah. And she was --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was that a low point for the monarchy?
MR. RENNIE: She was a troubled lady who was treated badly. But I think that what you're seeing now is at a time of incredible distrust for politicians, I think that the queen, in part, benefits from -- the great genius of the British royal family is that they never, ever discuss their politics. They never take a political position. I think if they keep doing that, then they'll be in reasonably good shape, because people are so distrustful of so many institutions.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: They're a unifying symbol in the country --
MR. BUCHANAN: Sure.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- like nothing else. We don't have that.
MR. BUCHANAN: It would be --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Couldn't we have a monarchy over here?
MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.)
MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, I think we took care of that question a long time ago, John.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Anthony Weiner, aka Carlos Danger, will withdraw from New York's mayoral election.
MR. BUCHANAN: Farewell, Carlos.
MS. CLIFT: Bye-bye.
MR. RENNIE: He'll do it by tweet.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: He's a goner.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Bye-bye, Carlos.
(C) 2013 Federal News Service