JOURNAL EDITORIAL REPORT

Do Democrats have a backup plan if Hillary Clinton's candidacy implodes?

Latest controversy has some doubting Hillary in 2016

 

This is a rush transcript from "Journal Editorial Report," March 7, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

STUART VARNEY, GUEST HOST: This week on the "Journal Editorial Report," supporters scramble to defend Hillary Clinton as questions grow over her private email use. But do Democrats have a backup plan in case her presidential ambitions implode?

Plus, Benjamin Netanyahu makes his case against a nuclear pact with Iran. But as a key deadline looms, can Congress keep the administration from cutting a bad deal?

And the future of ObamaCare now in the hands of a sharply divided Supreme Court. So what's next if the subsidies don't survive?

Welcome to the "Journal Editorial Report." I'm Stuart Varney, in this week for Paul Gigot.

Well, she's reportedly set to launch her presidential bid as early as next month, but revelations this week that Hillary Clinton used a private email account to conduct official business during her four years as secretary of state is reportedly adding to concern in some liberal circles that putting a Clinton on the ticket in 2016 may not be the Democrat's best move. So just how much legal and political trouble could Hillary be facing? And do Democrats have a backup plan if her candidacy runs aground?

Let's ask Wall Street Journal columnist and deputy editor, Dan Henninger; editorial board member, Dorothy Rabinowitz; and "Best of the Web" columnist, James Taranto.

To you first, Dan.

Days after the revelation, I'm still shocked that she did this kind of thing. Why on earth would a woman with that experience do something like that?

DAN HENNINGER, COLUMNIST & DEPUTY EDITOR: Well, because the Clintons as usual think that the rules apply to everyone else but not to them. And they make them up as they go along.

I think the thing to address here is -- Stuart, the really kind of bloodless political calculation, as she, famously said what difference does it make? Is this going to hurt her? Look, Bill Clinton went through eight years of the presidency with all of these sorts of things happening and he got re-elected. It didn't hurt him. I think what that taught us was that the powers of the presidency are enormous. Once you're in that Oval Office, you can get away with virtually everything. But you have to get in there first. If we had known everything about Bill Clinton before he was elected president, I think it would have been very difficult for him. So Hillary Clinton suddenly has all of this landing on her, just as she's about to announce for the presidency. And at the margin -- look, you want tremendous enthusiasm for a presidential candidate and it's eroding for her. This is a serious, serious political problem for the Democrats.

VARNEY: James Taranto, come on in. How worried are the Democrats? And do they have a plan "B"?

JAMES TARANTO, BEST OF THE WEB COLUMNIST: Well, do they have a plan "B" is a very odd question because normally it's not a question at this stage of whether there's a plan. What's the Republican's plan "A"? There is none. There are a bunch of candidates contending in a primary. And people say that the Republicans are the ones who usually pick the next guy in line. Yeah, they do but they usually do it after the primaries. So I think there's a lot of unease or there should be a lot of unease among the Democrats about this coronation that the party seems to have gone along with in deference to the Clinton machine. We have seen a lot of defenses as well, but some of them are rather mild defenses that -- you know, people -- I think they're trying to decide what to do here.

VARNEY: James, here's the key question. How many senior Democrats are now looking elsewhere other than Hillary Clinton?

TARANTO: Not very many, openly. But I suspect behind closed doors they are talking about it and worried about it.

VARNEY: Dorothy, I'm going to run a sound bite from Hillary Clinton as she appeared before Emily's List and then I want your comment.

Roll tape.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(APPLAUSE)

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Don't you want to see more women running for Congress who will follow in the footsteps of Barbara Mikulski and champion equal pay and equal opportunity?

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: And I suppose it's only fair to say don't you someday want to see a woman as president of the United States of America?

(APPLAUSE)

VARNEY: I was dying to roll that tape for your reaction.

DOROTHY RABINOWITZ, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER: Yes. Well, there's the key because what we're facing now is a huge question: What will the electorate do faced with this big test? Will you pick someone who represents our first chance at the presidency? Will women of America do this? Will it be driven by gender politics? And will gender become the force that racial politics was in the last election? So the question is, this is the presidency of the United States, and what we know about Hillary Clinton, which we did not know about, as Dan said, about Bill Clinton, going back to the first huge ethics scandal, the Travelgate, there's no time to represent everything that went on in this horrendous moment in the Clinton administration. It went on forever. And this produced her famous comment, the great right wing conspiracy.

VARNEY: Did she just play her best card --

RABINOWITZ: Yes.

VARNEY: -- which is the woman presidency.

RABINOWITZ: She --

(CROSSTALK)

VARNEY: Was it a desperation move?

RABINOWITZ: No, I think it's -- I think it's simply just ended. It is a part of her to believe that she is going to run this. The question again is, the American electorate, are they going to make this choice that we are going to vote for somebody entirely because of this political correct point we need a woman in the White House, the presidency of the United States with this history?

HENNINGER: Look, we are a long way from the nomination. The Democrats have to be worried whether there's more to come, either from the email scandal or the Clinton Foundation. How many time bombs are out there waiting to go off on the road to this coronation?

VARNEY: Yeah. A lot.

(CROSSTALK)

VARNEY: Well, I'm speculating. I would suggest a lot, given the history of the Clintons.

James, come in please.

TARANTO: And there's one other problem with the woman president card, as you put it, which is that one of the groups among which Mrs. Clinton is unpopular that views her skeptically, is the progressive left-wing wing of the party. Well, their favorite is Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is the same sex as Mrs. Clinton.

VARNEY: That is true, James. Now, what about the time line for her declaration going for the presidency? Is that going to be affected by the fund-raising scandal and the email scandal, James?

TARANTO: Well, we have heard -- we heard a week or so ago that she was going to announce in April. We haven't heard anything to contradict that. I'm not sure what she'd gain by postponing an announcement other than perhaps it allows her to lie low and avoid questions. But I don't know that she's benefiting from lying low and avoiding questions. I would guess she announces in April, as we have heard. Unless she decides at some point there's a tipping point and she's not going to run at all.

VARNEY: Why am I absolutely convinced we will return to this subject on numerous occasions in the future?

(LAUGHTER)

HENNINGER: Because it's the Clintons.

(LAUGHTER)

VARNEY: So right.

When we come back, an impassioned plea from Benjamin Netanyahu as a deadline looms for the Iran nuclear agreement. Did the Israeli prime minister change any minds on Capitol Hill? And can Congress move quickly to keep the administration's deal making in check?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: The greatest danger facing our world is the marriage of militant Islam with nuclear weapons. To defeat ISIS and let Iran get nuclear weapons would be to win the battle but lose the war. We can't let that happen.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NETANYAHU: The days when the Jewish people remain passive in the face of genocidal enemies, those days are over.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VARNEY: A defiant Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the United States Congress Tuesday and made his case against the nuclear agreement currently in the works with Iran, a deal the Obama administration is hoping to seal before a March 24th deadline and without congressional scrutiny.

We're back with Dan Henninger and Dorothy Rabinowitz. And Wall Street Journal editorial board member, Mary Kissel, joins us.

Dan, did Benjamin Netanyahu change any minds?

HENNINGER: Oh, I think he probably did change some minds. He came here and made a very serious case against the Iran deal. And at the moment, you know, for instance in the Senate, you have Senator Bob Corker, who introduced a bill saying that the Senate needs to be able to vote on -- to approve this deal once it's announced. And he now, in the past days, has gotten 64 members of the members who have signed on. That means there's a lot of Democrats who decided that they want to sign off on this bill. And I think part of that is the result of Prime Minister Netanyahu expressing the seriousness of what we're committing ourselves to in this deal with Iran.

VARNEY: John Kerry is in the gulf and it seems like Arab governments now agree with Netanyahu.

HENNINGER: Well, the "Wall Street Journal" had two very interesting stories this past week on this subject in which they are publicly saying the Saudis, the Qataris, United Arab Emirates, that they feel -- Egypt -- they're being thrown under the bus by the United States in this deal with Iran, a sworn enemy. Why is the U.S. elevating Iran in their region in such a dangerous way?

VARNEY: Before we leave this speech, I do want to show you one brief item that occurred within the speech. It is former Speaker Nancy Pelosi. I think she turned her back on Prime Minister Netanyahu.

There you have it. She's turning her back. That happened several times.

I'm rolling this videotape quite deliberately before I invite Dorothy Rabinowitz to pass judgment on what we have just seen.

(LAUGHTER)

Dorothy, it's yours.

RABINOWITZ: Well, it's only a foreshadowing of the very strange comment former Speaker Pelosi made, which she that she was moved to near tears by the Israeli president's condescension and by his failure to respect his American audience. I kept thinking, as she said that, you know, she should understand how Americans have been feeling, if that's her worry. The condescension, the failure to respect the intelligence of your audience has been the prime part of the Obama administration. And I kept thinking all the way down the list, the prayer breakfast in which he compared the crusades with the greatest horrors of the 20th century, Islamic fundamentalists. You can keep your doctor, if you want it.

(LAUGHTER)

And on and on and on. Nothing but embarrassment. And then let us conclude. We have the president of Israel coming before Congress, grateful to receive at last some huge glow of truth, which has been in scarce supply in Washington. And that is what you saw on the faces of those Congress people, the recognition that they are listening to the real thing. Democrats and Republicans. I watched that speech many times.

So we can say -- ask yourself this. He comes to America to put forth this enormous danger all of the world is facing from a nuclear-armed Iran and what is the White House busy doing, something you have heard all week? They are busy in this extraordinary opera, this pettish aria of disgrace directed.

VARNEY: Dorothy, I do hope I never cross you.

(LAUGHTER)

That's a fact.

Mary, bring us up to date with Congress. What's going to happen? Dan's told us that Senator Corker has 64 votes in the Senate to make sure that any deal with Iran goes through Congress.

HENNINGER: 67 would be veto proof.

VARNEY: 67 would be veto proof.

Where does it go from here, Mary?

MARY KISSEL, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER: There's never been a significant arms control agreement without congressional approval, a major deal. Congress, remember, also imposed a series of sanctions on Iran. So Congress wants to be involved. There's a bipartisan coalition, as Dan explained, that needs to be involved. I think will be involved. I think Netanyahu's speech put the Democrats in a difficult position. This was a methodical, powerful accounting not just -- it didn't just expose Rouhani as really not a moderate, but also laid out how Iran has a vast nuclear infrastructure, how they've hidden that infrastructure, how the sunset would legitimize them as a nuclear power. All of these facts are going to make it very, very difficult for Democrats to approve the kind of deal that Obama is doing.

VARNEY: 30 seconds, Dan. Wouldn't it be true to say that Prime Minister Netanyahu alerted everyone to the danger and Congress really did listen?

HENNINGER: They did listen, but I think Nancy Pelosi's behavior has done some political damage to the Democrats. National security will be a voting issue and she's making it seem as though the Democrats are not interested in taking it seriously.

VARNEY: All right.

Now when we come back, all eyes are on the Supreme Court and two justices, in particular, as they weigh the future of ObamaCare. So what's next for those eight million people if the subsidies don't survive?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VARNEY: A sharply divided Supreme Court heard oral arguments this week in a case that could determine the future of President Obama's signature health care law, with the fate of federal subsidies for almost eight million Americans appearing to rest in the hands of just two justices.

We're back with Dan Henninger and James Taranto. And Wall Street Journal editorial board member, Joe Rago, also joins the panel.

James, to you first, if I may.

Wrap up those oral arguments, please.

TARANTO: I think we learned three things from the oral arguments. First, we have no idea where John Roberts, the chief justice, stands on this. His questions were completely unrevealing of his inclinations.

Second, the four Democratic nominees to the court have all made up their mind, we're defending -- we're aggressively defending the administration's position and we're making arguments that the administration itself was not making, arguments that have been made in various press commentaries.

And third, we learned that one of those arguments, an argument involving federalism, the relationship between the federal government and the states, has some appeal to Justice Kennedy, who's the second potential swing justice here. Although, it's an argument that cuts both ways. The liberals want to argue that it means they have to accept the administration's interpretation of the law, but I think it could also point the way for another constitutional challenge to ObamaCare.

VARNEY: OK.

Joe Rago, two questions. Number one, what does it mean if the subsidies are struck down and, "B," do the Republicans have a plan if the subsidies are struck down?

JOE RAGO, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER: Yeah, the big question for Republicans right now is whether they're going to try to repair some of the damage that Democrats are potentially going to create or just allow this damage to grow. So if you look at the subsidies, ObamaCare's rules and mandates artificially increase the cost of health insurance. The subsidies are supposed to offset some of that. If the subsidy goes away, what Republicans are saying is, all right, look, the problem is the rules and mandates. Let's get rid of those. They're calling it the freedom option. And then saying let's restore some kind of subsidy, not an Obamacare subsidy, but a reformed one to make a down payment on some of these health care changes we'd like to see in maybe the next administration.

VARNEY: But if that's the Republican plan, wouldn't it have to go through Congress and, therefore, be subject to the presidential veto?

RAGO: It would be subject to the presidential veto. But look, if the subsidies are overturned, you're going to have a lot of disruption, a lot of turmoil in the health care markets. And President Obama will really need something from Congress. Maybe they can strike a deal. Not putting any money on it. But you are seeing some kind of development of a coherent Republican alternative.

VARNEY: Interesting.

Dan, the governors of the states, if the subsidies within those states are struck down, do the governors have a plan? Do they have a new approach?

HENNINGER: They definitely do not have a new approach. I mean, they're going to be relying on the Republicans in the Congress to come up with an alternative to ObamaCare.

The politics of this are just going to be overwhelmingly difficult for the Republicans if it's turned down. Remember that ObamaCare rollout, how bad that was for the Democrats. You're talking about an insurance system. It's complicated. You're talking about subsidies and things like that. And people, who have insurance under ObamaCare, if it's overturned, will immediately turn to the Republicans and say, what do I do in the next week?

(CROSSTALK)

HENNINGER: And I think they have not shown themselves able to manage much of anything well, politically, in the last five years. And the question is are they going to be able to take on this huge political challenge --

(CROSSTALK)

HENNINGER: -- as Joe has been describing it?

VARNEY: Sure. If the Supreme Court strikes down these subsidies, it is essentially taking away something which has already been given on a mass scale. And that's a very difficult thing to do.

HENNINGER: Well, the Republicans need both a substantive answer to this and they need a really good political answer.

VARNEY: James Taranto, one more time. Would you hazard a guess after listening to the oral arguments -- I know I'm putting you in a difficult position. Would you hazard a guess at how this decision comes down?

TARANTO: No, because --

(LAUGHTER)

-- Chief Justice Roberts was completely -- was completely Delphic. He gave no clue of where he was going. The best I could do is quote something he wrote in the 2012 case, NFIB v. Sebelius, that upheld Obamacare against the constitutional challenge. He said, "It's not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political decisions." Now, that would tend to militate in the direction of, if Congress passed a statute that has senseless and disastrous consequences, it's not up to the Supreme Court to reinterpret the statute in order for the whole law to make sense. But --

(CROSSTALK)

VARNEY: Tough to interpret there.

TARANTO: -- I don't have much confidence in that as a prediction.

VARNEY: OK, Jams.

All right. We have to take one more break. When we come back, our "Hits & Misses" of the week.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VARNEY: Time now for "Hits & Misses" of the week.

And, Mary, you are first.

KISSEL: I'm going to give a big miss to Netflix, the biggest cheerleader for government Internet regulation. This week, the CFO came out and said that the company was hoping that there might be a non-regulated solution to the non-problem of the Internet. The problem is, Stuart, is that when you invite the government in to help, you're always asking for trouble. And I think that Netflix should have known better.

VARNEY: Good one.

Joe?

RAGO: Well, Stuart, Congress in its wisdom bans sledding down Capitol Hill. Now, this is allegedly to prevent lawsuits. But you can see some politician coming out, like Dean Wermer in "Animal House," saying no more fun of any kind. This week, Washington had a snow day. Hundreds of kids defied the ban, came out and slid down the hill. So this is a hit for rebellion against petty government control.

VARNEY: See, this is why I like this show. You deal with Hillary. You deal with ObamaCare. You deal with Netanyahu. And then, sledding down the hill on the capitol.

RAGO: That's right.

VARNEY: In the capitol, I should say.

All right, Dan?

HENNINGER: Needless to say, a miss for Barack Obama.

(LAUGHTER)

VARNEY: All right.

HENNINGER: We all know about the energy boom. Well, the United States is now producing so much oil there will soon be nowhere to store it. Storage tanks are literally overflowing with oil. Now you might say why don't we sell it overseas where they need oil? Guess what? There's a federal law that forbids selling this kind of oil. And there is no way Barack Obama will turn around that law.

VARNEY: So that is a miss to Barack Obama?

HENNINGER: For not helping the United States exports. Why not? Maybe we can bottle this stuff and drink it.

(LAUGHTER)

VARNEY: And remember, if you have your own hit or miss, be sure to tweet it to us at JERonFNC.

That's it for this week's show. Thanks to my panel and to all of you for watching. I'm Stuart Varney. You can catch me weekdays on "Varney & Company" on the Fox Business Network. Paul, back next week. And we do hope that you can join us then.

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