The McLaughlin Group
Host: John McLaughlin
Pat Buchanan, Author and Columnist;
Eleanor Clift, Newsweek/The Daily Beast;
Mort Zuckerman, U.S. News & World Report;
Michelle Bernard, The Bernard Center
Taped: Friday, August 23, 2013
Broadcast: Weekend of August 24-25, 2013
Copyright © 2013 by Federal News Service, LLC, 1120 G Street NW, Suite 990, Washington, DC 20005-3801 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, LLC. 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 Transcripts Database or any other FNS product, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-202-347-1400.
JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Dream On.
Fifty years ago this month, a Baptist minister named Martin Luther King delivered what many believe to be the most inspirational speech in American oratory. Dr. King's 1963 address came against the backdrop of the Birmingham, Alabama march against anti-black racism, that toxic combination of legal segregation and second-class status for African-American citizens.
The brilliance of King's nonviolent protest movement was his combination of lofty, almost utopian ideals matched to concrete political goals. King's supporters marched for the right to sit at a lunch counter, to swim in a desegregated municipal pool, to pick any seat on a bus, or to attend an integrated school.
That was then. This is now. Reverend King would be amazed by the transformation over the past 50 years. Today America has its first black president, and African-Americans routinely hold top Cabinet posts, like secretary of state, attorney general, national security adviser.
Top corporations like Merck, American Express, McDonald's and Xerox have had or have now black CEOs. Oprah Winfrey is America's second black billionaire, following in the footsteps of publishing mogul Robert L. Johnson.
African-Americans are among the country's top sports stars and entertainment celebrities in fields once restricted by race, swelling the ranks of black millionaires.
Yet, in other ways, America is far from King's dream. Racial divides persist in income, educational achievement and poverty.
Question: Are we less conscious of race today than in 1963, more conscious of race today, or are things about the same? Pat Buchanan.
PAT BUCHANAN: I think we're probably more conscious right now, John. But I was at the March on Washington. I was up there in the Lincoln Memorial when Dr. King gave that address. And that was a moment, really, when the -- of the cresting of the civil rights movement. It was right within the same year, after Oxford, Mississippi, they had the violence down there; keep black students out. George Wallace had stood in the schoolhouse door in June. And King -- it was the March for Jobs and Freedom.
But that didn't produce the Civil Rights Act. What produced it, John, was the death of John F. Kennedy a couple of months later, when he was assassinated, and Lyndon Johnson's presidency and building on that movement to pass the Civil Rights Act, and then Selma produced the Voting Rights Act.
But let me say this, John. There was a down side in that decade, too. SNCC was no longer, after a while, led by John Lewis, but H. Rap Brown and Stokely Carmichael. You had the riots in Watts in 1965; `67, Detroit and Newark. Dr. King was shot in 1968. A hundred cities burned, including Washington, D.C.
I was in Nixon's campaign. And by the fall of that campaign, John, the whole issue was even eclipsing Vietnam. It was law and order and America. And at one point Nixon and Wallace together had almost 70 percent of the national vote.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
ELEANOR CLIFT: Well, that was quite a trip through history. Thank you. But Nixon and Wallace together culminate in the southern strategy, where you take political exploitation of the plight, if you will, of blacks in the South. And when Lyndon Johnson signed the civil rights bill, he said we've lost -- Democrats have lost the South for generations; probably been more than one generation.
So I think when we look back, some of the egregious violations against African-Americans in this country have been resolved. But there are lots more, maybe more subtle, inequality that continues.
And that initial march, I think it was for jobs and freedom. It was also for jobs and justice. And jobs and justice are the two areas where the most disparity exists between whites and blacks.
And when we recreate the march next week in Washington, you'll have three presidents there. They're all Democrats. I'm sorry President Bush -- one of the President Bushes isn't going to be on that stage, because this really shouldn't be a Democrat-versus- Republican issue. It's an issue for all Americans.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The question was, are we less conscious of race today than in 1963, more conscious of race, or are things about the same? So we're talking about race. We're not just talking about blacks and whites.
MS. CLIFT: Well, it's --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So if you're measuring by race as an indication, we're more race-conscious today. In 1960, the Census Bureau measured four races, plus other. In 2010, it measured 14 categories plus other.
MS. CLIFT: Well, I think, in many ways --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So race consciousness --
MS. CLIFT: In many ways we're less race-conscious. We have to be, because more people have diverse backgrounds.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.
MS. CLIFT: We've got more intermarriage. We've got more people of mixed heritage. I mean, I think that's commonplace. And I think most people celebrate that diversity.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think? Is it a result of diversity of population, race consciousness?
MORT ZUCKERMAN: I think it's because we have learned to live together a lot better than we were doing at that point, when that march took place. I also happened to be there.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you can --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: And it was an inspiring moment.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it virtue on our part?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I don't know whether it's virtue.
I think that it's the fact that more and more Americans understand what America is about, which is a land of equal opportunity. And I think this is something that has really improved dramatically since those days.
And so I think that it's a huge step forward, frankly. I feel that there is much more mobility in the society, upward mobility in the society, much more acceptance of people of different ethnic backgrounds, different racial backgrounds. I think it's all to the good. I'm not saying it's perfect. We still have a ways to go. But I think we've made great progress, and I think it's overdue.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Census measures Irish-American, Italian- American, African-American, et cetera, et cetera. Does that dilute the overconsciousness of black -- (inaudible) -- white?
MICHELLE BERNARD: It doesn't -- no, it doesn't dilute it. Talking to me, for example, as an African-American, what I will tell you is I don't -- the Census saying African-American or Irish-American or Scottish-American, whatever, it doesn't matter. When I walk down the street and someone sees me, the first thing they're going to see is a black woman. If they look at you or they look at you or they look at you, they're not going to say there's a Jewish American; there's an Irish-American. You see race, and we identify with it.
And, quite frankly, the election of Barack Obama, I think, was one of the greatest political events I will ever see in my lifetime. But the country has become more race-conscious in terms of color and in terms of ethnicity since he was elected. The national debate on race, in light of the jury verdict in the Trayvon Martin case, absolutely demonstrated it.
Our discussions about immigration reform and the place of Hispanics in American culture absolutely demonstrate that when it comes to race, when it comes to ethnicity and people of color, we have a long way to go. Are black men lynched every day like they were in 1963 -- in the 1960s and 1950s? No. Is Alabama now still "Bombingham?" No. In that sense, things have changed, and that change is wonderful. And so many of us, myself included, still believe in America and America's promise. But we've got a race problem here.
MR. BUCHANAN: Hey, John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you Jamaican-American?
MR. BUCHANAN: John, you --
MS. BERNARD: I consider myself a Jamaican-American. I consider myself a full-blooded American. I believe in --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm an Irish-American.
MS. BERNARD: I believe in --
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MS. BERNARD: I have Scottish blood in my veins. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Buchanan's half-German.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, you're confusing --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: His mother was German.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, you're confusing --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's a German-Irish American.
MS. BERNARD: And he's --
MR. BUCHANAN: You are confusing ethnicity and race.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, I am?
MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah, whether you're Irish or Polish; I mean, Danish,
what Eleanor is. Race is a category; I agree.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's ethnicity?
MR. BUCHANAN: Ethnicity is Irish or German or Italian. Race is black or white or --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: She's a Jamaican-American. Is she a black American?
MR. BUCHANAN: She's black. She's black. But -- or Asian or Hispanics or basically whites and blacks. That's what it is. And I'm inclined to agree. There is greater and greater awareness of the issue of race and greater and greater contentiousness, because, quite frankly, whites are no longer 90 percent of the population, the dominant group.
And so there's tremendous amounts of competition and conflict, and it's risen up increasingly since the Trayvon Martin thing; I agree with you. And unfortunately, I think, as we are all becoming minorities, I don't think it's going to get any better.
MS. CLIFT: But the contentiousness is really among a rather small group, I think, of white Americans, who feel like their position in the society is being threatened. The younger people, younger white Americans, do not look at it that way.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Absolutely.
MS. CLIFT: They look at this as a multicolored world that they've been born into.
MR. BUCHANAN: The older Americans were once young Americans. (Laughs.)
MS. CLIFT: And they're OK with it. But older Americans have a shorter trajectory here, I'm sorry to tell you, Pat. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Which two groups does Gallup survey rank at the bottom in terms of relations?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: In terms of relations?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.
MR. BUCHANAN: Relationships?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I would say the blacks and Hispanics is one of those two groups. There's --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's correct.
MR. BUCHANAN: Both of them.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Sixty-eight percent say their relationship is very or somewhat good, a full 19 percent below how the same poll respondents rate the relationship between whites and Asians.
MS. BERNARD: Look, if you've got -- if we've gotten to a point in time, which we saw in the last election, and more recently with states like Texas and North Carolina doing everything that they can to suppress the vote of African-Americans and Hispanics, we've got a race problem.
And so obviously, you know, if you look at that poll, it's telling us what we already know. There are people in power, particularly in the South, in the red states, that feel that people of color are taking something from them that they believe inherently belongs to them.
MS. CLIFT: People don't --
MS. BERNARD: And now they've got to compete with us.
MS. CLIFT: People don't give up power easily.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think college admissions should be based on diversity?
MS. CLIFT: Yeah. I mean, I think lots of factors go into diversity, and I think race can be one of them. And I think --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Sixty-seven percent opposed it.
MS. CLIFT: -- the Supreme Court so far agrees with that.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Sixty-seven -- you're in the minority. Only 28 percent favor of it.
MR. BUCHANAN: It should be based on excellence, John.
MS. CLIFT: As long as the Supreme Court agrees with me, I'm fine.
MR. BUCHANAN: Just like the NFL. Whoever is the best player plays, and whoever does best academically should be advanced. What's wrong with that?
MR. BUCHANAN: Do you think --
MS. BERNARD: Here's a question I have. One of the things I always say, because I think you can measure diversity in a lot of ways, but I think there's an argument to be said that the greatest affirmative-action program that there is in the country is being born white. There is a natural assumption, when you're applying to institutions of higher education, that you are excellent or you are more superb or more brilliant than others.
MR. BUCHANAN: With due respect, whites are the only group you can discriminate against --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait till you hear --
MR. BUCHANAN: -- legally in America now.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, wait till you hear this piercing question. You ready?
MR. BUCHANAN: I'm ready.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Are attitudes lagging behind the social reality when it comes to the transformation of American society since Reverend King's speech?
MR. BUCHANAN: Things are far, far better in terms of everybody's economic uplift. All boats have risen. But what Michelle said --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So more --
MR. BUCHANAN: What Michelle said is correct. There's a real recognition and a growing intensity and contentiousness, I think, of feelings between the races in the last five years.
MS. CLIFT: And you're right to the extent, but those feelings of intensity are really a very small group of people who feel that they somehow have lost, that the advance of --
MR. BUCHANAN: Tell it to Reverend Sharpton.
MS. CLIFT: -- that the advance of minorities in this country has somehow caused them to lose something.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: More --
MS. CLIFT: Most people do not feel that way.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: More progress has been made than people realize. Yes or no?
MS. CLIFT: I'd go for yes. Sure. Why not?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, absolutely.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Absolutely.
MS. BERNARD: The president of the United States of America is a black man. So the answer is absolutely yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is yes.
Issue Two: Obama's NSA Overhaul.
(Begin videotaped segment.)
Q: I wanted to ask you about your evolution on the surveillance issues. Even as recently as June, you said that these -- the process was such that people should be comfortable with it. And now you're saying you're making these reforms and people should be comfortable with those.
So why should the public trust you on this issue? And why did you change your position multiple times?
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Well, I think it's important to say, Carol (sp), first of all, I haven't evolved in my assessment of the actual programs, in light of the changed environment where a whole set of questions have been raised, some in the most sensationalized manner possible, where these leaks are released drip by drip, one a week, to kind of maximize attention and see if, you know, they can catch us at some imprecision on something.
In light of that, it makes sense for us to go ahead, lay out what exactly we're doing, have a discussion with Congress, have a discussion with industry, which is also impacted by this, have a discussion with civil libertarians, and see, can we do this better?
(End videotaped segment.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That was President Obama facing skeptical questions about his four-point reforms he announced regarding the National Security Agency and its domestic surveillance programs.
Edward Snowden, the NSA ex-insider, revealed much about how the NSA conducts its espionage. So President Obama has offered these four reforms.
One, the 2001 Patriot Act -- oversee it; namely, Section 215 of the act, which the NSA interprets as giving it its power to monitor Internet and phone records of Americans; work with Congress for improved oversight of Section 215 and the Patriot Act, debating and discussing it.
Two, FISA -- Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Revise the act to require that a civil liberties advocate participate in FISA court proceedings when a secret surveillance warrant is issued.
Three, intelligence agency transparency. The NSA and agencies like it should be more candid with the public about ongoing domestic surveillance.
Four, outside expert review. A panel of experts currently empowered to review the impact of technology on security, on privacy and on foreign policy, then issue its interim report on this technology by October, and a final report by December.
Question: How would you describe President Obama's change of position since June, when he said, quote-unquote, "the right balance was struck between privacy and security," and his new reforms balance them both out? Are the president's views regarding privacy evolving, or is this a massive presidential about-turn, a flip-flop? I ask you, Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: I don't think President Obama wanted to be the Democratic president that expanded the national-security state. And the various disclosures that have come out since he made those initial statements in June saying he was OK with the balance have indicated that the, you know, spying, if you will, on Americans is more widespread than we all initially thought. And so I think he's open to reining this in.
Those are all reasonable steps you outlined.
I imagine, you know, Congress is looking at a way. But I still think he's not going to back away from basically continuing the programs that his predecessor put in place because of the times we live in and that national-security brief he gets every morning.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it possible that he didn't know the extent of the reach of the NSA and that, you know, not to be uncharitable to him, he was not particularly interested in it until it became this full-fledged issue?
MS. BERNARD: I would venture to guess that he absolutely knew the full reach and extent of everything that was happening.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think so.
MS. BERNARD: I think so. And I think, on a lot of foreign policy matters -- which I do not disagree with, by the way -- I don't think there's much difference between President Obama and George Bush. I think, in this sense, what we've seen in terms of his reforms and his openness to transparency is probably something that is political.
There's a USA Today/Pew poll that showed that people under age 29 are absolutely appalled by what happened. And let's figure, you know, we've got midterm elections coming up soon. We've got a presidential election in 2016.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK.
MS. BERNARD: And Democrats need young people to vote for them, and youngsters do not like what happened. They think that it was appalling.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK, the big flip-flop. Just to refresh our recollection, this is what President Obama said two months ago, on June the 7th. This was prior to his NSA reform announcement.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) In the abstract, you can complain about Big Brother and how this is a potential, you know, you know, program run amok. But when you actually look at the details, then I think we've struck the right balance.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, given what we know about surveillance and the NSA's behavior in it, do you think the right balance between privacy and security has been struck?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, I certainly do. I actually happen to be in favor of this kind of a program, because I think of what would happen to this country if we had a half a dozen terrorist attacks every year. And that seems to me to be the kind of --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think Obama knew all the details of what they do?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: By, and large, yes, I think -- well, maybe not everything, OK, but I think he knew, based on the reports that he must have been getting, just exactly the number of cases --
MR. BUCHANAN: I don't think so, John.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Just a minute. There were -- they estimated that something like 54 --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't think --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- different terrorist attacks were, in fact, interdicted by the knowledge that they gained from this. He had to be informed on all of that.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't think that Snowden was the catalyst?
MR. BUCHANAN: He was the catalyst.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, I think he absolutely was the catalyst.
MS. CLIFT: Right.
MS. BERNARD: Absolutely.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Inaudible) -- this man said, the president said, before Snowden appeared.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, look --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And he obviously knew all of the circumstances. Would he have said what we just played?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: As I say, there was a rationale for it. You're president of the United States. One of the things you're responsible for is the security of the country. And if you find that 50-odd terrorist attacks were, somehow or other, stopped by this, it's a perfectly natural response for him to say I think that program makes sense for us.
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, are you dismayed by some of the revelations that have flowed from the Snowden revelations?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I am dismayed by some of them, but I still think this program makes sense.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Inaudible.) (Laughs.)
MR. ZUCKERMAN: And I think his reforms that he's talking about --
MR. BUCHANAN: John, look --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- make sense.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You want it both ways, Mort.
MR. BUCHANAN: Hey, John, look, what happened here is -- I don't think Barack Obama was -- I think he knew about the general program.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He was disinterested in it.
MR. BUCHANAN: He is a bystander president. He was not deeply engaged in it. And what happened is, when all this stuff started breaking, the young people and other people, all of a sudden it looked like almost a majority are saying, hey, the government's gone too far, and Barack Obama is politically inclined, so he's moving and moving and moving. He's been moving away from it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There's another angle.
MR. BUCHANAN: He's going to keep the basic program, as Eleanor said.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Maybe he didn't want to know about it.
MR. BUCHANAN: He doesn't care about --
MS. CLIFT: He's a constitutional lawyer.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Just a moment. Just a moment.
MR. BUCHANAN: He doesn't care about a lot of things in-depth.
MS. BERNARD: No, he does. I think you're absolutely wrong.
MR. BUCHANAN: He didn't know about Benghazi. He didn't know about the IRS.
MS. BERNARD: I think he absolutely cares.
MR. BUCHANAN: He didn't know about any of it.
MS. BERNARD: He is the president of the United States.
MS. CLIFT: He shouldn't have about the IRS.
MS. BERNARD: I think he has been -- I think he has been strong, as strong as he can be. He has carried on a lot of the Bush administration policies in terms of foreign policy.
And young people -- this is where we agree -- in terms of politics, that this is not change we can believe in; we don't like this.
MR. BUCHANAN: So he moved.
MS. BERNARD: So he moved. But these four changes are meaningless.
MS. CLIFT: He's moved two tiddlywinks --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What voting group is the most upset by this?
MS. CLIFT: He's moved two tiddlywinks.
MS. BERNARD: Youngsters.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why?
MS. BERNARD: Youngsters, because they don't like the reach of our government.
MR. BUCHANAN: They're libertarian.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They use the technology, do they not?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's right.
MS. BERNARD: They're libertarian.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And they're afraid, what, the extent to which the NSA can go trawling through what they put on their computers.
MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly. They're libertarian.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, I think they --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. They're libertarian.
MS. CLIFT: And there's great --
MS. BERNARD: They're libertarians. But they're young.
MS. CLIFT: And there's great misunderstanding. I mean, people think -
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, yes.
MS. CLIFT: -- that there's actually reading of their private emails.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's not happening.
MS. CLIFT: Nobody cares about their private emails. That's not happening. So --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We can feel good about this.
MS. CLIFT: Yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And the three guys -- there are three mature men who left the security apparatus precisely for the same reason that Snowden did. They get no recognition at all.
MR. BUCHANAN: Because they didn't rat everybody out.
MS. CLIFT: Well, yeah.
MS. BERNARD: Yeah.
MS. CLIFT: Well, they're --
MR. BUCHANAN: They didn't rat the country out.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, do you have to rat out in order to get --
MR. BUCHANAN: They shouldn't have. They behaved honorably. And this kid didn't.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But we have confirmation of what Snowden said through the mouths of these three people --
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- who have since talked to USA Today.
MR. BUCHANAN: After they left the government.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: When you look into it --
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, and they're not hiding.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- there's not this great crisis that some people are trying to make it into. There were 2,700 different kind of violations, of which only 900 out of 240 million were the ones that shouldn't have been done.
MS. CLIFT: A lot of young people are upset that Chelsea Manning has gotten the number of years that she's apparently getting.
MR. BUCHANAN: Chelsea Manning?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three: Egypt -- No Middle Ground?
SENATOR PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT): (From videotape.) My committee handles foreign aid. We will hold back money unless there is a showing that they are taking steps -- very positive, very direct steps -- to restore democracy.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: President Obama declared last week that while he's not ready to suspend the $1.5 billion in foreign aid to Egypt, he is prepared to do so if circumstances warrant it.
Well, leading Senate Democrats may do it before he does. Senator Patrick Leahy chairs the committee through which U.S. funds for Egypt must flow. Unless Mr. Obama can convince the Senate otherwise, aid to Egypt will halt. That threatens a rupture in the U.S.-Egyptian strategic partnership that has been in effect since the historic 1979 Camp David peace accords.
Before last week's crackdown, the Obama administration urged Egypt's military to allow the pro-Morsi street protests to continue. This alarmed regional allies like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan. They sent emissaries to Washington to urge the White House to give its unequivocal backing to General Abdul al-Sisi, Egypt's top military leader.
Their reasoning is this: The struggle in Egypt is a Manichaean battle between Islamic radicalism and secularism, and only one side can win. Our regional allies believe President Obama has been searching for a nonexistent middle ground between the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt's secularists.
After the crackdown, which left hundreds dead, thousands injured, and deposed President Mohamed Morsi, now in detention, threats to cut off aid have come from the European Union and the United States. But Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, notably Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates have pledged an outlay of $12 billion, nearly 10 times America's military aid to Egypt, to support the interim government.
Question: Is the U.S.-Egyptian relationship at an historic turning point? And, if so, what should President Obama do? Mort Zuckerman.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think the president should not, not cut the support for the military in Egypt. They are our most important ally, and it's the most important country in the Middle East. And we will lose the support of a lot of our other friends if we walk away from Egypt. They have done a tremendous amount of work with and for the United States.
This is dramatically in our interest, even though we disagree with what they're doing. But compare the military to the Muslim Brotherhood; we're coming out way ahead in terms of our interests and in terms of the quality of government they're bringing to Egypt.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There's another angle there. You remember what Eisenhower said? Beware the military-industrial complex.
He's talking about the complex over here. We make all the munitions that that billion and a quarter is buying.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Correct?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes.
MS. CLIFT: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So this affects American business directly, does it not?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: It can, yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does that give another turn to this wheel of decision-making that Obama is operating?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: You can look at it that way. But I will tell you that Egypt has been our most important ally. And they are our most important friend to our other allies, like Saudi Arabia, like the Arab Emirates, who are basically going to say if we can't rely on the United States, we can't rely on them at all.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Our most important ally is Israel.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Not in the Arab world, let me tell you that. (Laughs.) I mean, that isn't the issue.
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, you're specifying this in the Arab world.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, of course.
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's what the Middle East is. That's the Arab world.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, what about the Saudis?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: The Saudis? The Saudis are amazingly upset about the possibility that we might do this. They -- and not only the Saudis. All of the Arab emirates, all of the Arab countries who are our allies --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm talking about our alliance with the Saudis.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I'm talking about that. I can tell you that for sure, and rightly so.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, they've got a relationship with the Egyptians.
Look, forget the democracy. Excuse me. This is a showdown between the Muslim Brotherhood and the army. One or the other is going to prevail. They're both, if you will, dictatorial. You choose. We have to choose the military. They bottle up the -- they bottle up the guys in (Gazi ?). They work with us in the Sinai. They're the only protection, if any, of the Christians. You've got to pick these guys and stick with them.
Now, Leahy says we cut off the aid. Sure, you cut it off, and pretty soon we're going to have to renew the aid. So why cut it off?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Pat.
MR. BUCHANAN: In the wake of two black-on-white murders just this week, John, racial tensions deepen.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: Immigration reform bill gets a boost because Catholic priests are taking the issue into the pulpits.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: The weak economy, in terms of employment and unemployment, is going to continue to be the dominant issue for the rest of the year.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Michelle.
MS. BERNARD: School choice is going to be the education issue of the 21st century, the most important issue.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Russia's demographic demise will soon be seen as a total falsification. Twenty-three years ago, the birthrate was 1.2. Today it is 1.7, midway between Western Europe's 1.5 and America's 1.9. No wonder Putin seems a little cocky. Russia has more babies than Western Europe.
(C) 2013 Federal News Service