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Democracy Now! Interviews Right-Wing Journalists Bill Kristol and John McLaughlin at the DNC

July 27, 2004

We speak with conservative television host John McLaughlin, host of the McLaughlin Group and Bill Kristol, one of the chief spokespeople for the neocon movement and editor of the conservative publication The Weekly Standard. [includes rush transcript]

There are some 15,000 journalists who are here in Boston to cover the convention. This week we are going to be taking a critical look at the media. One of the people that we ran into yesterday was the conservative television host John McLaughlin, Host of the McLaughlin Group. He has been very critical of the Bush administration’s invasion and occupation of Iraq.

  • John McLaughlin, host of the The McLaughlin Group.

Shortly after we spoke to John McLaughlin, we saw one of the chief spokespeople for the neocon movement, Bill Kristol, editor of the conservative publication the Weekly Standard. Interestingly a few weeks ago, Kristol told the New York Times that he might end up as a neoliberal defined as 'neoconservatives who had been mugged by reality in Iraq.' Though Kristol wouldn’t stop for an interview we managed to catch up with him as he quickly left the FleetCenter.

  • William Kristol, editor, Weekly Standard.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you think conservative and liberal lines are breaking down right now? I mean, you came out opposed to the invasion. You are covering a convention with a Democratic nominee for president. Do you think there’s much difference between the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates?

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I should point out to you that I could have the Democratic Convention as well as the Republican Convention. In the interest of objective journalism, as I am sure you are an objective journalist, with regard to whether there’s a breakdown, I think have you to distinguish various positions from the President. Kerry takes the position that he voted in favor of the basic war resolution on the assumption that it would proceed in an orderly fashion in accordance with International Law, in accordance with an ongoing relationship with the United Nations and a variety of other features that he believes have been violated by this President. So therefore, I don’t see the cleavage between—I see a definite cleavage between his position and the President’s position. I think that can be maintained.

AMY GOODMAN: Mm-hmm. And which side do you feel closer to?


AMY GOODMAN: Yes. Yourself.

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: I feel that this is a question that requires a longer answer than I can give you right here. We’ll have to go back to the floor. But I feel that the prosecution of the war and the aftermath of the war have been unenlightened. We go to war when there is no alternative to war. We don’t go to war because we have a vision for the Middle East. We must have an immediate and imminent, immediate danger to our vital national security. Absent that, we are really not entitled to go to war except in the extreme humanitarian conditions. That is not characterized much as war as it is an incursion in order to relieve tolerable human suffering.

AMY GOODMAN: Would you say the majority of Americans were opposed to this war?

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: Right now, I think the majority of Americans feel that the war was a mistake.

AMY GOODMAN: And do you feel that message is coming from the floor of the Democratic Convention?

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, definitely. Definitely. In fact, the former president said that because of the way this war has been handled, that we have lost our reputation around the world. And I think that’s quite valid. I did quite a bit of traveling and I have observed. And it falls upon, it falls upon the new administration whether it’s the president incumbent or his successor to repair that damage. It remains to be seen whether the American population feels and it’s because the damage is so severe, so widespread, and so dangerous that a new administration is required. Thanks so much for this opportunity to chat with you.

AMY GOODMAN: Well thank you very much.

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: Wish you well.

AMY GOODMAN: That was John McLaughlin and shortly after we spoke with him, we saw one of the chief spokespeople of the neo-conservative movement, Bill Kristol, Editor of The Weekly Standard. Interestingly, a few weeks ago Bill Kristol told The New York Times he might wind up as a neo-liberal, defined as "a neo-conservative who had been mugged by reality in Iraq." Although Bill Kristol wouldn’t stop for an interview, we managed to, well, catch him on the run, as he was leaving the Fleet Center.

AMY GOODMAN: Mr. Kristol, a quick question?


AMY GOODMAN: Quick question from the press?


AMY GOODMAN: I want to ask if you feel that the neo conservatives have been betrayed by President Bush?

WILLIAM KRISTOL: No, no, not at all.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you feel that you could conceivable support John Kerry under certain circumstances?



WILLIAM KRISTOL: [inaudible] — pretty responsible on foreign policy so far in his campaign. I would still probably vote for Bush.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you like about him? Kerry?

WILLIAM KRISTOL: [inaudible]—without U.N. authorization, decreasing the size of the army — pretty centrist on foreign policy.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you think he would increase the army? Do you think peace activists, anti-war activists are wrong in their assessment of John Kerry?

WILLIAM KRISTOL: I don’t know. That’s a good question. Honestly, I don’t know.

AMY GOODMAN: The end there, Bill Kristol saying he doesn’t know if anti-war activists were wrong in their assessment of John Kerry.

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