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The McLaughlin Group

Host: John McLaughlin

Panel:
Pat Buchanan, Author and Columnist;
Eleanor Clift, The Daily Beast;
Mort Zuckerman, U.S. News & World Report;
Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune

Broadcast: Weekend of December 21-22, 2013 

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ANNOUNCER: It's the 32nd annual McLaughlin Group year-end awards, 2013, part one. Here's the master of ceremonies, John McLaughlin.

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: Biggest winner of 2013. Pat Buchanan.

PAT BUCHANAN: Cardinal Bergoglio becomes Pope Francis I, the most famous and popular man in the world.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

ELEANOR CLIFT: Wall Street topped 16,000 and markets are doing fine. And I'm glad the pope is pointing out all the inequality that represents, because Main Street is still waiting for its turn.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MORT ZUCKERMAN: Vladimir Putin, the ruler of Russia, who outmaneuvered the United States in virtually every strategic corner of the world.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

CLARENCE PAGE: Most exciting political race of the year, Bill de Blasio, mayor -- new mayor of our biggest city.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The envelope, please, Mort. Thank you, Mort. Is this your Johnny Carson routine?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I can't tell you what's in there, John. You've got to read it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Carnac the Magnificent?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Magnificent, yes, but not Carnac.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Carnac knew only the questions. Johnny had the answers, right?

MR. PAGE: Yeah.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: God bless his soul.
The biggest winner of 2013 is Russian President Vladimir Putin.

MR. PAGE: You win, Mort. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He resolved the Syrian crisis largely by a brilliant op-ed in The New York Times that ended the military action against Syria. And in December, Putin snatched Ukraine away from the West just before Ukraine signed a trade pact with the European Union, boosting Russia's international prestige. Biggest winner: Vlad.

OK, biggest loser of 2013. Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: Barack Hussein Obama and "Obamacare."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: You've got a small point there, Pat. (Laughter.) But I -- the president still has his job. I think the biggest loser is the president of Egypt, Mr. Morsi, who was deposed in a military coup and hasn't been heard from since.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: I think the -- well, the Republicans' lack of a coherent strategy to deal with the "Obamacare" setbacks is an even bigger loser than President Obama.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I've got a tie -- the city of Detroit, which went bankrupt, and the average American working-class individual, whose real wages have declined at a time of relative prosperity.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The biggest loser is the concept of red lines. Obama drew them, then smudged them, then erased them completely. It will be a long, long time before any president invokes red lines to signal prohibited behavior.

OK, best politician. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Hasan Rouhani, the prime minister of -- the president, rather, of Iran.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I give it to Pope Francis, because he loves people, and that really is a key ingredient if you're going to be a politician.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you stuck in that track, or what?

MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MS. CLIFT: Stuck in what track?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pope Francis.

MS. CLIFT: He deserves all the plaudits we can all give him.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Hillary Clinton, who kept herself out of the dispute of "Obamacare," and therefore preserved all that she needs for the next presidential campaign.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: Well, I give it to Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey for walking a tightrope between different factions, if he doesn't get bogged down by some little bridge scandal by the end of the year. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Excellent, Pat -- I mean, Clarence.
Best politician is Vladimir Putin. He moved Ukraine away from the West. He wrested control over the Syrian crisis away from Obama.
No other statesman played his hand so deftly in 2013.

OK, worst politician. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Mayor Rob Ford of Toronto, probably. And the silver goes to Anthony Weiner, your friend. (Laughter.)

MS. CLIFT: Pat, I have to agree with you on that. But I would add Ted Cruz to the list, because in his short year as a senator he's managed to offend virtually all the Republicans in the Senate, which was really tough, because they're his party.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, I'm putting my vote in for the San Diego mayor, Bob Filner. I think 17 women have now basically asserted that they've had sexual harassment moments with him. That is no small achievement for a public figure.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: (Laughs.) Well, I -- well, I think Rob Ford wins the international prize. I'll give Ted Cruz the domestic award. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The worst politician is Egypt's former president, Mohamed Morsi. The army gave him an ultimatum to quit the Muslim Brotherhood and reconcile with the political opposition. Morsi refused. The army ousted him. And Morsi is now on trial. Worst politician.

OK, the most defining political moment. Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: August. The American people rise up and say no to Barack Obama's war on Syria.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: The 16-day government shutdown.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I would say President Obama, his red line that he drew; his public assertion of that red line. And then he walked away from it, undermining his credibility both at home and abroad.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Very well stated, Mort -- (ripped from me ?), though.
Clarence.

MR. PAGE: I think Democrats ending the 60-vote filibuster rule in the Senate is emblematic of the state of gridlock in the city.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The most defining political moment is Obama's on-air apology for misleading Americans into believing him when he promised they could keep their health insurance.

OK, turncoat of the year. Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: Edward Snowden.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's it?

MR. BUCHANAN: That's a pretty good name. (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: That -- yeah, that pretty much says it all.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I would add Marco Rubio to that, who championed immigration reform and then campaigned against the bill that he helped create.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, if you're talking raincoats, as a turncoat, I would put Anthony Weiner as the man of the year.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well stated.

Clarence.

MR. PAGE: Governor Lincoln Chafee went from Republican to independent to Democrat, his latest change this year.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, let's try some originality. Listen closely. The turncoat of the year is French actor Gerard Depardieu. In January, Depardieu relinquished his French citizenship in favor of a Russian passport to avoid new wealth taxes imposed by the socialist government of Francois Hollande. You got me so far, Pat?

MR. BUCHANAN: Uh-huh. (Acknowledging.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That hiked Depardieu's tax bracket from 41 percent to 75 percent. So he went to Russia.

OK, the most boring.

MR. BUCHANAN: He didn't go to Russia. He went to Belgium.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, he went to Russia.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, he might have gone to visit. (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: He doesn't (look ?) Russian.

MR. BUCHANAN: So would you if you were taxed 75 percent. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Read the whole story.

MR. BUCHANAN: OK.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The most boring.

MR. BUCHANAN: Harry Reid.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Harry Reid?

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that it?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, yes.

MS. CLIFT: I feel compelled --

MR. BUCHANAN: There are some Republicans in there too. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I feel compelled to defend Harry Reid. He's a good legislative mechanic. He's not the best --

MR. BUCHANAN: OK, I agree.

MS. CLIFT: -- front man on TV.
Most boring is the 40-odd attempts to repeal "Obamacare."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MS. CLIFT: Going nowhere.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: It was Ron Paul droning on for hours and hours and hours.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: Ted Cruz droning on for hours and hours until he got to "Cat in the Hat." That was the high point.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, here's more wisdom for you. The most boring are reports that on international tests, Americans fall behind on math and science. What you don't hear is that America ranks number two in the world, top 10 countries, for economic innovation. So there.

OK, most charismatic. Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: Will and Katherine, the duke and duchess of Cambridge, and the new papoose. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: OK. U.S. Senator Cory Booker from New Jersey, who went from Newark mayor to becoming the only elected black senator in a body of 100, basically on the strength of his use of social media. He's got a great Twitter following -- millions.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well stated, Eleanor.

Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, internationally it's Pope Francis. But domestically it's Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's good too, Mort.
Clarence.

MR. PAGE: I give it to the late Nelson Mandela, whose strength as a charismatic leader lasted even after he passed.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Very well stated.

The most charismatic is World Trade Organization director -- watch this, Pat -- General Roberto Azevedo. He has resurrected the WTO back into relevancy after taking the lead in negotiating the Bali package. It includes a trade facilitation agreement that will make it easier to flow goods around the world. Next success for Azevedo: The 12-year-old Doha Round of negotiations. Good work, Roberto. Check out the story in Politico.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can you stand the excitement?

MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.) I know.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you realize the importance of the WTO?

MR. BUCHANAN: I know it. I --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: See that. Your vision is so narrow.

MR. BUCHANAN: I opposed its creation, John. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Inaudible.)

OK, bummest rap. Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: The big lie that the tea party shut down the government. They never voted to shut down the government.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: The big lie -- or the bummest rap: Susan Rice doctored the talking points on Benghazi; had nothing to do with it.

MR. BUCHANAN: Who did? (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MS. CLIFT: She didn't. (Laughs.) CIA, Pat.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The question -- the stop, question and risk (sic/means frisk) in New York, that that is a racist policy, because it --

MR. BUCHANAN: You mean stop and frisk?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Stop and frisk, excuse me -- because it was disproportionately focused on minorities, who were the ones who were the most vulnerable to the crime that it was trying to prevent.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Bum rap.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Bum rap.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: Accusation of a Benghazi cover-up on the part of the administration; just hasn't held water.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The bummest rap is the rap that Apple evades $9 billion a year in U.S. taxes by keeping its earnings overseas. Apple CEO Tim Cook was hauled before a Senate committee, which finally acknowledged that Apple is in full compliance with U.S. tax law. Senator Rand Paul warned that CEOs who have not done anything illegal should not be dragged before Congress. Paul is right.

OK, fairest rap. Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: Fairest rap?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Fairest rap.

MR. BUCHANAN: The charge that Barack Obama did not tell the American people the truth and the fact that his credibility has sunk as a consequence. It is deserved.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, you paused an awfully long time. Were you just thinking of the fairest rap?

MR. BUCHANAN: No, I was thinking of another category.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're supposed to prepare for this show.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Fairest rap.

MS. CLIFT: I would phrase it slightly differently. I think the president underestimated the difficulty of remaking basically a sixth of the U.S. economy. But "Obamacare" will eventually be a huge success --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MS. CLIFT: -- and as much a part of American life as Medicare.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I'm glad I'm following --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, let's keep it rolling, quickly.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I would say the absolute incompetence of the website for "Obamacare" that basically revealed the unbelievable incompetence of the Obama administration in dealing with this issue. That's the fairest rap.

MR. PAGE: Let me sum it up.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that the fairest rap?

MR. PAGE: Let me sum it up. The fairest rap is that Barack Obama thought that "Obamacare" was going to sell itself once it was passed. That was the biggest mistake.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Close, but no reward. The fairest rap is the Republican rap that "Obamacare" should have been delayed for a year. The major embarrassment is not with the rollout, October 1st rollout of the law, coupled with Obama himself delaying key features of the Affordable Care Act. They proved that the GOP was right. The law should have been delayed. Fairest rap.

OK, best comeback. Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: The Egyptian army. They came back -- (laughs) -- and overthrew the Muslim Brotherhood --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- and seized power.

MS. CLIFT: Clever.

Speaker Boehner, finally, in the last days of the congressional session, rising up against the right-wing forces, saying it's ridiculous that they have this veto and hold on his party.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Secretary of State John Kerry, who came from being a relatively innocuous senator to being a real force in the Obama administration as the secretary of state.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well stated.

Clarence.

MR. PAGE: Good for -- I say former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, who I thought was lost on the Appalachian Trail, but now he's in Congress. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK, brace yourself, Eleanor. The best comeback goes to the NRA, which appeared on the ropes after President Obama decided to push for gun control after Adam Lanza's Sandy Hook Elementary School murder spree. The NRA, buttressed by 2 million new members, handed Obama a political defeat.

OK, most original thinker. Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: The scientific team that found the Higgs boson, the God particle, John; the missing particle in --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right, right, right.

MR. BUCHANAN: OK.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. That's it? (Laughter.)
Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Jeff Bezos, who envisions drones delivering packages from Amazon to our front door, and who also purchased The Washington Post. And I look forward to how he's going to reinvigorate a favorite property --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.

MS. CLIFT: -- of this country.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Pope Francis, who has brought the Catholic church into the 21st century in a brilliant and widely appealing way.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: Google's driver-free cars. Just don't ask me to ride one.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The most original thinker is Michael Fumento, an investigative writer and attorney living in Colombia. Fumento has painstakingly documented the unfulfilled and erroneous predictions of climate-change computer models. Now a growing list of scientists reject the so-called consensus that manmade climate change is real. Fumento's patient debunking of the prevailing orthodoxy makes him the most original thinker of 2013.

OK. Most stagnant thinker. Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: The neocons compare the freeze on Iran's nuclear program to Neville Chamberlain at Munich again.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I'll give you an amen on that.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: And I would add the Republican governors who are refusing to expand Medicaid and are hurting their own constituents.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Thank you, Eleanor.

MR. BUCHANAN: Those (lousy ?) governors. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Amen chorus over there.
Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I would -- the tea party would be my candidate here, because I think they've just repeated themselves to the point where nobody's listening to them outside of their own constituency.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, they're coming back, Mort.

Clarence.

MR. PAGE: Senator Rand Paul for plagiarizing WikiLeaks in a speech.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Most stagnant thinker is a joint award to Rahm Emanuel and Ezekiel Emanuel. The two Emanuel brothers were so fixated on the passage of "Obamacare" in the first term that they let President and First Lady Michelle Obama make false promises about Americans keeping their insurance and doctors. Stagnant thinking -- the Emanuel brothers.

OK, best photo op. Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: Obama at the Mandela funeral flirting with that Danish pastry while Michelle gives her thousand-yard stare.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: The Danish pastry was the prime minister of Denmark. (Laughs.)

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Have you seen her picture?

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but Pat needs a little educating in how to talk to women.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.

MS. CLIFT: OK. I like the photo op on Air Force One of President Bush showing photos of his paintings to Hillary Clinton. I like that kind of bipartisanship.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Very -- (inaudible).
Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I love the photo of the president with the Danish prime minister, which I have to say --

MS. CLIFT: Good, Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- really, really helped -- it kept me going for a couple of days after that. There's hope for all of us.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you see the full-length one on page one of the --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, I saw them all.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- New York Post?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I saw the full --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: Reunion of Governor Chris Christie and Barack Obama on the beach in May. It was, what, 2012 redux.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I have to go along with this. The best photo op is the picture of very chummy President Obama taking a selfie with Danish female Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt at the memorial service for Nelson Mandela while First Lady Michelle Obama glares at both. Check out the New York Post website for the series of pictures that depict the unfolding drama.

OK. The enough, already award. Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: Alec Baldwin's serial battles with the paparazzi in Greenwich Village. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Excellent.

Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Tea party.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that it?

MS. CLIFT: Enough, already. Yes, tea party. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, Eleanor, that's quite -- (inaudible).

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who was finally sentenced to four years in prison after God knows how many years of ripping off everything, and everything Kardashian. Those are the two categories.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Kardashians.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, absolutely.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I've had enough of them.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: Anthony Weiner's political career. May it stay buried this time.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The enough, already award goes to global warming, the theory that now masquerades under the pseudonym of climate change. Even its most honest supporters now admit that there has been no increase in the earth's surface temperatures for 15 years. It's time to admit the theory is flawed.

OK, the worst lie. Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan, period.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you mean by that?

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you mean?

MR. BUCHANAN: Eleanor will understand. (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: That was the president's oft-stated comment when he was referring to people who already have insurance. And it was -- it did not prove to be fully accurate. (Laughter.)
I will give my --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Don't overstate it.

MS. CLIFT: I would give the lie to director of international intelligence James Clapper, who told a congressional committee that the NSA was not collecting data on millions of Americans. He later had to apologize for what he called his least most untruthful answer. In other words, he lied.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, but he's a (normal ?) guy. Did you see that one-hour interview with him?

MS. CLIFT: On "60 Minutes"?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I don't know where it was, but it was one hour. It wasn't an interview. He was giving a prepared talk, and you may have found it on -- you may find it on CNN.

MS. CLIFT: Well, he admitted he lied.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The number one, you have to add you can keep your health insurance and your doctor, both of which, I think, qualify. But there's one other: Rand Paul, who said, and I quote, "extending unemployment benefits is a disservice to the recipient, because it causes them to become part of the perpetual unemployed."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: Without being redundant, I've never used performance- enhancing drugs and I never will. Lance Armstrong.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wow.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Wow, yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (He's ?) still kicking that around.

The worst lie is that wind energy is environmentally friendly. Wind turbines kill thousands of birds, including rare and endangered species like golden and bald eagles. Also, the broad environmental impact of these birds and bats, (their kills ?) on insect population growth, the environment is little understood.

OK, capitalist of the year. Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: The Ayatollah Khamenei, whom I just discovered, John, has $95 billion salted away, which he has control of. He's done a great job.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Capitalist of the year, JPMorgan Chase, a $13 billion fine, which is for their practices that they used in capitalizing on derivatives and home mortgages. It's -- unfortunately it's chump change to them, and they can deduct a lot of it. But finally, some of the big banks and investment companies are getting punished, belatedly.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're beating up on capitalists all the time, Eleanor.
Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: George Mitchell, the fracking pioneer from Texas who died this year at the age of 94. He is credited with pioneering the economic extraction of shale gas through the process of fracking, which has done as much to change the entire world as any other businessman I know.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: Jeff Bezos for suckering up in the media into taking his drone delivery plan seriously.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: 2013's capitalist of the year award goes to the world's richest woman, Christy Walton. The Wal-Mart heiress has a net worth of -- get this -- $35.4 billion. Her late husband, John Walton, was a former Green Beret and son of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton.

OK, honorable mention. Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: Vladimir Putin, John, who has made dramatic moves, not only in the Middle East but worldwide. He's trying to make himself the leader, basically, of conservative traditionalist, nationalist forces against cultural and moral imperialism, as represented by the United States of America of Barack Obama.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I'm totally overdosed on Putin. And it makes me want to point out that Michelle Bachelet just won an extraordinarily strong victory for a second term, not consecutive, in Chile. And she ran against a woman from the right. And it was the first time in this very machismo country that two women faced off against each other, and the socialist won.

But actually, my real honorable mention is the victims of violence in this country, from the Boston Marathon to the Washington Naval Yard to the 28 school shootings that have happened in the year since Sandy Hook. So maybe the NRA has come back, John, but that's not good news.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, it was a tough year. (Inaudible.)

Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Stephen Harper, the prime minister of Canada, who has run that government and led that country in the most extraordinary way, being able to resist the creeping effects of a weakened American economy, which is directly to the south, and has a huge impact on Canada. And he's done a major job at keeping that country together in terms of all the problems and tensions between the French- and the English-speaking people.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's also a fan of the McLaughlin Group. True or false?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That might be so.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They see it in Canada, do they not?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, they do.

MR. PAGE: I'm glad to hear something more positive than Toronto Mayor Rob Ford coming out of Canada right now.

But my honorable mention goes to Pope Francis, because he really revived the moral dimension of the income-inequality debate, which needs more attention in this country. Globalization and other economic forces have put new pressures on the working class, and now increasingly the lower middle class in the country.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, if he's all that good, why do you only give him honorable mention?

MR. PAGE: Because Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban just for advocating education for girls, is staying on a global crusade that I think is going to make a real difference.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So she's superior to the pope.

MR. PAGE: In my view, in this year, on that scale, yes.

MR. BUCHANAN: You've had Putin superior to the pope all day long.

(Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor's on the right track. The honorable mention goes to Secretary of State John Kerry, who, in his first year in the job, has achieved a breakthrough in starting nuclear talks with Iran, helped defuse the Syrian crisis as a prelude to a January 22nd, 2014 peace conference, jumpstarted Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, and is actively mediating the Ukrainian standoff between pro-Russian President Yanukovych and pro-European protesters.

It's good to have someone in the job who understands that diplomacy involves more than globetrotting handshakes and photo ops. I think you'd agree with that, wouldn't you, Pat?

MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah. But, listen, John, there's one point. Look, John Kerry and Barack Obama, whatever you say, helped cause the Syrian crisis. They were running around talking about attacks and threatening bombings and red lines. And they had to climb down from that. And they were rescued thanks to your man of the year, your winner and all the rest of it, Vladimir Putin.

MS. CLIFT: I don't think you can call this administration causing the Syrian crisis. That is a civil war within the country.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Inaudible.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The statement by the president that he was drawing a red line and walked away from it has undermined his credibility all through the region. We've lost the alliances, such as they were, with the Saudis and all the Sunni countries. We have a real problem that is brewing, in part because they no longer have confidence in the leadership of the United States.

MS. CLIFT: And chemical weapons are being destroyed.

MR. BUCHANAN: He had no right -- he has no right to issue a red line, which means we're going to go to war if the Syrians do something. Congress has not authorized any war on Syria.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did we give any award to the new head of state in Iran?

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, Pat did.

MR. BUCHANAN: I got Hasan -- I said the best politician is -- listen, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. Well, I was paying attention to it, but somehow that flew right over my head. (Laughter.)

MS. CLIFT: I don't think -- pulling back from using lethal force, I do not see as a bad thing. I give the president kudos in the end for the way that the Syrian confrontation has worked out.

MR. PAGE: (Inaudible.) That's OK in my book.

MS. CLIFT: That's right. Exactly.

MR. PAGE: Right on.

MS. CLIFT: Thank you, Clarence.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's in your book too.

MR. PAGE: You got it, pal.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, but who's responsible for the pullback?

MR. PAGE: The pullback?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.

MR. PAGE: The most interesting man in the world, the Dos Equis man, Vladimir Putin. (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The editorial -- the editorial in The New York Times, the op-ed in The New York Times.

MR. PAGE: Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It suddenly broke in half, didn't it?

MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It broke the situation in half.

MR. BUCHANAN: Send a tape of this show to Putin, John. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Dedicated to him?

MR. BUCHANAN: Send it to him.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will you sign the letter?

MR. BUCHANAN: I'll sign it, yeah.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK. Well, we'll think about this. Maybe it should be a joint signature from everyone.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK, person of the year, Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: Xi Jinping of China. He has declared a Monroe doctrine in the East China Sea and the South China Sea and the Yellow Sea and the Taiwan Straits, claimed every island there, is imposing an air defense identification zone, which could lead to trouble with the Japanese, the Americans and the South Koreans, the Philippines and the Vietnamese.
This is historic, John. He is trying to push the United States back away from the first chain of islands in the Pacific.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Interesting.

Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Secretary of State John Kerry, who, through his travels and his willingness to take risks and pushing at the White House and demanding, really, that he press ahead on important agendas, has opened up two potential areas for big breakthroughs, one with Iran and one in the Middle East between the Israelis and Palestinians.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well stated.

Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Every under-25 techie who invents a new app -- and this has become a part of a new technological revolution that is transforming America in directions that we can't even anticipate, but it's already had huge effects on the way the business world and the private world conducts itself.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.

MR. PAGE: Sixteen-year-old Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban, survived, because she's campaigning for education for kids. She is -- for girls. She's exciting a new generation that's coming up now.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In Afghanistan.

MR. PAGE: Around the world.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: 2013's person of the year is obviously Vladimir Putin. He seized the world's spotlight on the Syrian crisis and drew Ukraine back into the Russian orbit -- both stunning demonstrations of the relevance of Russia as a world power and a relative decline of American influence.
On that note, Merry Christmas and happy holidays. Bye-bye.

(C) 2013 Federal News Service 

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