Friday Lightning Round: Obama and congressional Democrats

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," January 17, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: We're back with the panel on the Friday Lightning Round. Your vote, the top pick, the president and congressional Democrats, we'll start there. Jason, the president had congressional Democrats over to the White House for a meeting. There is some mending to do on a number of fronts.

JASON RILEY, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Sure. Sure. We're going to expect this. A lot of tight races out there come November, particularly in red states where Obama is not popular. And that's why I think you see in recent weeks Democrats wanting to desperately change the subject. Income inequality, minimum wage, traffic cones on the George Washington Bridge, anything will do because ObamaCare has been such a disaster and the Republicans opponents are really using it effectively against him in these early ads in the campaign.

BAIER: State of the union preview to come. Do you think this meeting was a Podesta touch?

CHARLES LANE, EDITORIAL WRITER, WASHINGTON POST: Could be. They have been trying all kinds of new options to get along better with the Democrats on the Hill, their own party. I think one thing that the president has essentially promised or apparently promised is he's going to do more fundraising for them over the course of this year. I think the leading indicator is the retirement of George Miller, veteran liberal Democrat is getting out of Congress. He's 66 years old. He would be in position to be a chairman and very powerful if they ever took the House back. He's quitting, which tells me he doesn't think they're going to ever take the House back.

BAIER: Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I think the leading indicator is Obama's numbers, which are under 40 percent. If you are a red state Democrat you're going for re-election this year, Obama is toxic. If he shows up in your state, the Democratic senator usually is rearranging the shoes in his closet. He just can't make it so he doesn't show up at the event. ObamaCare itself is a political disease – political disease, if you are running as a Democrat. And on the Iran issue, I think that is really going to be a majority of the Senate, it could be a super majority that will override the president on that execrable Iran agreement.

Keystone XL pipeline, when will this decision be made? Here is John Kerry one year ago and Secretary Kerry today.


JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: With respect to the keystone, Secretary Clinton has put in place a very open and transparent process and we hope that we will be able to be in a position to make an announcement in the near term. We are currently engaged in the environmental impact statement analyses. An analysis will be made with respect to the national interest ultimately. And we're just not at that point yet, haven't received it. They haven't finished it. My hope is that before long that analysis will be available.


BAIER: I mean, Charles, the near term was last year. This is a long analysis period.

KRAUTHAMMER: And the excuse is rubbish. We have already had at least three studies, all of which has shown it's not going to have a bad impact. Everyone knows this is a stall on the part of the president. And apart from the fact that the policy is ridiculous, there are no serious arguments against it, the delay is insulting our very close ally, Canada. Canada has an option. It can go west and ship all this stuff over to China, which would buy it in a minute, and we're leaving them hanging for half a decade.  It's disgraceful.

LANE: Canada is a very nice country populated by very nice people, and what the foreign minister said today is about as close to an outburst of fury as you're ever going to hear from a Canadian. And meanwhile, the oil is moving by train, some of which of it had been blowing up. I wonder if that's covered in the environmental impact statement as well. This will get resolved maybe after the election.

BAIER: Jason?

RILEY: If we don't set up the pipeline, someone else will. The oil will flow. The only question here is whether the U.S. economy and job seekers in this country will benefit. It will either flow west to China or south to the Gulf.

BAIER: Alright, a quick winners and losers. Winners first.

RILEY: My winner is Major League Baseball for their new instant replay rule or expanding it. I think the worst thing for a fan is watching an important game turn on a bad call. My loser is the FBI, which the Wall Street Journal reported this week is going to issue a report that finds no criminal wrongdoing in the IRS snooping of conservative groups. I think that's shameful.

BAIER: Chuck?

LANE: My winner, somewhat out of left field, but fascinating, is Terry Lynn Land, who is the candidate in Michigan on the Republican side for Senate dismissed as a possible winner. She's ahead in the poles -- two poles this week and in the Real Clear Politics average. Who knows, that seat could go red in November.

BAIER: Loser?

LANE: My loser, surprise, is Edward Snowden, on this basis. Yes, he shook up the world. But if this tepid speech by President Obama is the most change he's going to get, it ain't much.

KRAUTHAMMER: Winner again for about the fifth time in a couple of months is Iran. The foreign minister said the west has surrendered, and it did, in the deal. The loser of the week is the U.S. Senate and the country. Tom Coburn is going to leave office early. He's been a terrific senator.

BAIER: That is it for the panel, but stay tuned as one late night show tells us how we can make our food taste better. Plus, SR Bing Pulse highlights.

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