'This Week' Transcript: Sen. John McCain and Sen. Robert Menendez

PHOTO: ABC News George Will, Rep David Schweikert (R) Arizona, ABC News Contributor and Democratic Strategist Donna Brazile, NPRs "Morning Edition" Host Steve Inskeep, and Facebook Co-Founder and "The New Republic" owner and publisher Chris Hughes on T

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RADDATZ (voice-over): Good morning. Welcome to "This Week."

ROBERTS: So help you God?

OBAMA: So help me God.

RADDATZ: The president takes a stand.

OBAMA: We are made for this moment, and we will seize it.

RADDATZ: How far will he push in his new term?

The secretary of state takes on her critics.

CLINTON: What difference at this point does it make?

RADDATZ: And tough words as Republicans regroup.

JINDAL: We've got to stop being the stupid party.

RADDATZ: Plus, senators crossing the aisle to work on immigration reform. What's in their plan? We'll ask our headliners, Arizona Republican Senator John McCain and New Jersey Democratic Senator Bob Menendez.

Then, our powerhouse roundtable takes on all the week's politics. And is there really a controversy over this?

LENO: You know who caught her? Lance Armstrong. Yeah, that's -- he is such a stickler for the truth now.

RADDATZ: Joining us, George Will, Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, Republican Congressman Dave Schweikert, New Republic publisher and Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, and the host of NPR's "Morning Edition," Steve Inskeep.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, "This Week" with George Stephanopoulos. Reporting from the Newseum in Washington, Martha Raddatz.

RADDATZ: Hello. Great to have you with us. George is off this weekend.

So much to get to this morning, including that controversy over the Oscar-nominated film "Zero Dark Thirty" and so-called enhanced interrogation. Mark Boal, the producer and screenwriter, is here to answer critics.

But first, front and center this morning, Washington is set to tackle an immigration overhaul. The president is planning to speak about it on Tuesday, and our two headlining senators are working on a plan, as well. Let's start with Arizona Republican senator and ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, John McCain.

Welcome, Senator McCain. You have spent a great deal of time in your career working on immigration issues. When do you think you can get this bipartisan plan out? And how much can you tell us about what's in it?

MCCAIN: Well, we're going to be announcing the principles that will be guiding our translation of it into legislation. We've still got a lot of hard work ahead, but I'm very pleased with the progress. Frankly...

RADDATZ: You're announcing this week?

MCCAIN: Yeah, we'll be -- Senator Menendez and I and Senator Schumer, Senator Graham, Senator Durbin, and some -- we are -- we've been working together for some weeks now. We'll be coming forward. It's not that much different from what we tried to do in 2007. Martha, what's changed is -- honestly, is that there is a new, I think, appreciation on both sides of the aisle -- including maybe more importantly on the Republican side of the aisle -- that we have to enact a comprehensive immigration reform bill.

RADDATZ: So this is comprehensive. It's not piecemeal?

MCCAIN: Yeah, this piecemeal stuff, the way the Senate works -- very briefly -- is that you bring up one section of it, somebody has an amendment that brings up another part.

RADDATZ: We've seen a lot of that lately. We've definitely seen a lot of that. But what about a path to citizenship?

MCCAIN: That has to be also part of it. But from my perspective, also -- and I'm sure that Senator Menendez understands, as Senator Schumer and Durbin do, that my state, most of the drugs now coming across the Mexican border into the United States comes through -- across the Arizona-Sonora border. So border enforcement, also, is a very important aspect of this. We have made progress on border enforcement. There has been significant improvements. But we've still got a ways to go. But I'm confident, guardedly optimistic, that this time we can get it done.

RADDATZ: Citizenship is obviously the most controversial aspect for some of your Republican colleagues, and you've gone back and forth. In 2005, you were for it. By 2010, you wanted border security first and, quote, "certainly no amnesty," so you're solidly behind a pathway to citizenship. How do you convince some of those Republicans who are not behind it?

MCCAIN: Well, first of all, I've always been for border security. I mean, there are citizens in my state who do not live in a secure environment. We live in a pretty secure environment here, certainly in the Senate. We've got guards around and everything. There's people every night in the part -- in the southern part of my state that have drug-traffickers and people going across, the guns, that...

(CROSSTALK)

RADDATZ: So how do you convince Republicans about the path to citizenship?

MCCAIN: Well, look, I'll give you a little straight talk. Look at the last election. Look at the last election. We are losing dramatically the Hispanic vote, which we think should be ours, for a variety of reasons, and we've got to understand that.

Second of all, this -- we can't go on forever with 11 million people living in this country in the shadows in an illegal status. We cannot forever have children who were born here -- who were brought here by their parents when they were small children to live in the shadows, as well.

So I think the time is right. By the way, we just acted to avert a nuclear option in the Senate. Believe it or not, I see some glimmer of bipartisanship out there.

RADDATZ: But how about -- we've got President Obama out this week also pushing a plan.

MCCAIN: Yes.

RADDATZ: Does that help, hurt?

MCCAIN: I think it helps. I think it's important that we all work together on this. I think it can be helpful, and I look forward to sitting down. I'm sure we will, the group of us who are working on this legislation, with the president and the White House and our colleagues on the other side of the Capitol.

RADDATZ: I want to move to Benghazi, obviously, the hearings this week. Some very contentious part of those hearings. What were you really trying to accomplish in that? You knew a lot of the answers. All the senators knew a lot of the answers because of the Accountability Review Board. So what were you looking for there?

MCCAIN: Well, first of all, we don't know a lot of the answers. We don't know why the president and the secretary of state ignored the warnings. Why didn't the secretary of state, who said she was, quote, "clear-eyed" about it, not see the -- the cable that came on August 15th that said the consulate cannot stand a sustained attack on the consulate? Why wasn't Department of Defense assets there? Seven hours that went on? Two of these people who were killed...

RADDATZ: Some of those questions were answered in the...

MCCAIN: What's that?

RADDATZ: Some of the questions have come out of the Pentagon and have been answered about why it took so long.

MCCAIN: Actually -- actually, not satisfactorily.

RADDATZ: How do you think -- how do you...

MCCAIN: Why in the world, on September 11th of all days, with all these warnings, didn't we have assets there for seven hours to -- there are so many questions that -- that are unanswered.

RADDATZ: So this is not over in your mind at all? Not over?

MCCAIN: What did the president do during this period of time? There's two movies been made about getting bin Laden with every tick-tock of every minute. We still don't know what the president was doing.

But more importantly, Martha...

RADDATZ: Did Secretary...

MCCAIN: More importantly than that -- very quickly -- is what's happening all over North Africa? What's happening in the Middle East? Things are deteriorating in a rapid fashion, and it's because of a lack of American leadership.

RADDATZ: Deteriorating certainly in North Africa, a lot of presence of Al Qaida...

MCCAIN: Iraq, Syria.

RADDATZ: Let's go -- let's also talk about -- let's go to Syria. Let's talk about Syria. I actually spoke to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta last week about Syria, and he had some pretty alarming things to say. He basically said those shells that the U.S. knew they were loading, artillery shells, are still sitting there loaded with chemical weapons. Take a listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PANETTA: Well, they'd have to obviously decide whether they're going to put them on planes or try to load them into artillery, you know, weapons of one kind or another. There are different ways to deploy this stuff.

RADDATZ: Are we talking about minutes, hours?

PANETTA: I think it -- you know, it's the kind of thing that would still take a matter of hours to be able to do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RADDATZ: That's the red line for the Obama administration.

MCCAIN: Yeah.

RADDATZ: But you have really backed arming the rebels -- arming the rebels and a no-fly zone?

MCCAIN: Yes, the rebels are -- I mean, Bashar Assad is being supplied by the Russians and the Iranians, with Iranian Revolutionary Guard on the ground with weapons. Everything that the opponents of intervening in Syria said would happen if we did have now happened because we haven't. The president said it's a red line, the use of chemical weapons. Bashar views that as a green light for everything less than that. Sixty thousand people...

RADDATZ: How do you know who the rebels are? How do you know who those rebels are?

MCCAIN: ... have been killed -- I met them. I met them.

RADDATZ: You've met them all?

MCCAIN: No, but I've certainly met enough to -- to know who they are. But the sad news is that, as every day goes by, more and more jihadists gain more and more influence, and there's more and more of their presence, which is going to make the post-Bashar Assad situation even more and more complicated. The jihadists are pouring in there. So of course I know who they are.

RADDATZ: Just quickly -- tell me quickly, Chuck Hagel, does he have your backing now? You met with him this week.

MCCAIN: No, but I want to see what happens in the hearing. And I think it'd be important to make a judgment after that. I'm very concerned...

RADDATZ: Are you closer than you were before? You had specific concerns. Did he answer those concerns?

MCCAIN: Not really. We had a very -- I think a good conversation. We've been friends for -- for many years. So we'll see what happens in the hearings here.

RADDATZ: Big news this week on lifting the ban for women in combat.

MCCAIN: Uh-huh.

RADDATZ: Supporter of that or are you a little worried about the...

MCCAIN: Support. No, no, I support it. I think women are -- obviously are prepared to serve side by side with men in combat. I just want to emphasize, though, there should be the same physical and mental standards for anyone to perform certain roles and functions in the military.

RADDATZ: And they say there will be. How about Selective Service? Women?

MCCAIN: I was just going to say, I think we ought to grapple with that one. Maybe -- maybe we'll draft you first, Martha.

(LAUGHTER)

RADDATZ: OK. I'll volunteer before that.

MCCAIN: OK.

RADDATZ: Thank you so much for joining us, Senator McCain.

And we turn now to New Jersey Democratic Senator Robert Menendez, who presided over the hearings for Secretary of State nominee John Kerry and, should Kerry be confirmed, is set to become chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Welcome, Senator Menendez.

MENENDEZ: Thank you, Martha. Good to be here.

RADDATZ: Thank you for joining us. What's your reaction to what John McCain just said? I mean, obviously you've been working together on this, so you know some of how he feels about this.

MENENDEZ: With what...

RADDATZ: In terms of immigration.

MENENDEZ: Immigration, well...

RADDATZ: I don't think you've been working together on some of that other stuff so much.

(LAUGHTER)

MENENDEZ: Well, I think John said it well. I am cautiously optimistic -- and as someone who has spent years between the House and the Senate trying to get comprehensive immigration reform, I'm cautiously optimistic. I see the right spirit. I see things that were once off the table for agreement and discussion being on the table with a serious pathway forward.

Of course, it will have the enhancement of the border security. We've done already a lot with more customs agents. We have more Border Patrol. We have more physical impediment than any time in history. But using greater technology, focusing our resources in a better way is something that we'll achieve, looking at making sure employers don't hire individuals who are undocumented, thinking about future flows and how we take care of the American economy by that, but also, very clearly, having a pathway to earned legalization is an essential element. And I think that we are largely moving in that direction as an agreement.

RADDATZ: What do you want? Senator McCain said it's helpful that President Obama is out on the road. What do you want to hear from him? How committed is he to getting this done? He also wants gun control.

MENENDEZ: Well, I was at the White House on Friday with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus leadership. And the president made it very clear in that discussion that this was a top legislative priority for him in this session of the Congress and that he expects to work with all of us in an effort to achieve the goal, and he's fully committed to it, and I think that's why this week he starts the clock by the speech he's going to make out in Las Vegas.

RADDATZ: And that pathway to citizenship, does that have to be in there?

MENENDEZ: Absolutely. Latino voters in -- first of all, Americans support it, in poll after poll. Secondly, Latino voters expect it. Thirdly, Democrats want it. And fourth, Republicans need it.

RADDATZ: Shouldn't the president have invited some Republicans to that meeting in the White House?

MENENDEZ: Well, it was the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, so...

RADDATZ: I know, but isn't there a way to find some Republicans he could invite into the White House? I know there's...

MENENDEZ: I think -- you know, in fairness to the president...

RADDATZ: ... there were just Democrats.

MENENDEZ: ... in his first term, he invited a very large cross-section of Democrats and Republicans. And I think he understands the unique role that the Congressional Hispanic Caucus plays in the question of immigration reform, and that's why he wanted to hear from that leadership.

But I'm sure that those bipartisan meetings will take place. And most importantly, I am really pleased by the nature of the bipartisan meetings that we are having with a group of six senators -- three Democrats, three Republicans -- and I understand a similar process is taking place in the House. That's real movement forward.

If you think about it, Martha, at one time, pathway to earned legalization was off the table. We were talking about sending people back as touchbacks, if they had any opportunity. That's not really being discussed. We're making very significant progress.

RADDATZ: Let me move also onto Benghazi. Do you think this is over? John McCain clearly does not think this issue is put to bed.

MENENDEZ: Well, look, I think that -- I don't know how much more can be said about the realities of what happened in Benghazi. We have the Administrative Review Board. They made it very clear. Secretary Clinton took responsibility.

RADDATZ: Then what were you trying to get through that hearing?

MENENDEZ: Well, first of all...

RADDATZ: Did she make mistakes?

MENENDEZ: ... my Republican colleagues insisted on having that hearing before we could move on to Senator Kerry's nomination. And I thought it was important to hear from the secretary to close the chapter, where, in fact, she is moving forward, as she said, on those 29 recommendations by the Administrative Review Board, how do we change the lines of authority within the State Department so that it's very clear who's responsible for embassy security, how do we change our...

RADDATZ: Which they've said they've implemented most of those...

MENENDEZ: Absolutely. And that's very important, so that, in fact, there are very clear lines of division.

RADDATZ: I want to move...

MENENDEZ: And also, how -- how do we make sure that, in fact, we look at intelligence in a different context? There doesn't have to be a specific threat, but we look at the environment in any place in the world in which our foreign services are operating.

RADDATZ: I wanted to move on to Chuck Hagel, as well, and his nomination. Would you support Chuck Hagel? Is he the right man to be defense secretary?

MENENDEZ: I have a meeting with Senator Hagel this week. I look forward to asking him a series of questions about Israel, about Iran as the major sponsor of the Iran sanctions in the Senate. I am concerned about some of the comments he has made about sanctions in the past. I think it's our best peaceful diplomacy tool to try to get the Iranians to ensure that we have no nuclear weapons, which we cannot accept from Iran, and I support the president's view that it's not about containment.

RADDATZ: And do you expect he will be confirmed?

MENENDEZ: We'll see. I think that there's been enough senators who have said they would support him, but we'll see. Of course, there's the hearings. That always, you know, gives us an insight. And I look forward to his personal answers to a series of my questions.

RADDATZ: I want to go in the end here just to something very quickly happening in your home state between Newark Mayor Cory Booker and 89-year-old Senator Frank Lautenberg, who basically suggested this week that Booker deserved a spanking because he was coveting his seat. Do you agree with that? Should Cory Booker be making moves now?

MENENDEZ: You know, that election is next year. And all of the back-and-forth now is something I'm really not focused on.

RADDATZ: Is Booker being disrespectful?

MENENDEZ: You know, that's a question for Senator Lautenberg and Mayor Booker, as far...

RADDATZ: Because you're clearly not going to answer it.

(LAUGHTER)

Thank you very much for joining us, Senator Menendez.

MENENDEZ: Thank you.

RADDATZ: Up next, our powerhouse roundtable with instant analysis of Senators McCain and Menendez. Plus, will we get a Democratic Super Bowl match-up in 2016, Hillary Clinton versus Joe Biden?

And the Senate investigates "Zero Dark Thirty." The film's screenwriter is here to respond. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(UNKNOWN): Some of our peers on the other side have expressed their ambitions for your future.

(UNKNOWN): I salute you and I look ahead to 2016, wishing you much success and extending to you my highest regards.

(UNKNOWN): Madam Secretary, first, let me thank you for your service, and I wish you the best in your future endeavors, mostly.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RADDATZ: A little bit of a love-fest up there. A lot of speculation over Secretary Clinton's future even during that hearing over Benghazi. We'll get to that coming up.

Our roundtable is here -- George Will; editor-in-chief and publisher of The New Republic and Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes; Democratic strategist Donna Brazile; Arizona Republican Congressman David Schweikert; and the host of NPR's "Morning Edition," Steve Inskeep.

Welcome, everyone. And I want to start with you, George Will, on what you've just heard John McCain talking about, saying I'm going to give you some straight talk, a path to citizenship has to be included in this.

WILL: It does, and I'll tell you why. The interesting thing, Martha, is that this debate is coming to a rolling boil at a moment when for almost two years now net immigration from the south of the United States is approximately zero. We sort of solved the problem. You want to stop immigration? Have a huge recession, that'll take care of it.

Second, what no one can say who's involved in the process, but the rest of us have to say over and over again is the 11 million undocumented immigrants are not going home. The American people would not tolerate the police measures necessary to extract from our community. A significant portion of them have been here 10 years or more. Five million have had children. Those 5 million children are American citizens.

I did the arithmetic. In order to deport 11 million people would require a line of buses bumper to bumper from San Diego to Alaska. It's not going to happen. Therefore, the question is, how do you get to citizenship?

RADDATZ: Congressman Schweikert, I have a feeling you have something to say on this.

SCHWEIKERT: Well, you know -- and actually being from one of those border states...

RADDATZ: Being from Arizona, where John McCain is from.

SCHWEIKERT: And Senator McCain actually touched on this. If you go to the southern part of my state, I have people who actually live in fear for what's going through literally the back of their -- their house, their property.

So the devil's ultimately in the details. What will happen to the populations today, but what will happen to our border security for those of us who are border states? What will happen in the visa system? Will we actually have a visa system that works, that tracks those who've overstayed, and then what does the future look like?

Intel just puts up a $6 billion plant in my community, and we're having trouble finding enough electrical engineers for them. Will we move to, like, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, with a point system so we can bring in the greatest talent from around the world that will help grow our economy?

INSKEEP: Tell me if I'm wrong, though, Congressman, because it seems to me that a couple of years ago the question was if there was going to be reform or some kind of change. It seems to me now that the question is what form it will take. And when I talk with people in your party's leadership in the House, which might be the biggest obstacle, they're making moves, and some moves to prepare for this, putting people on the right committees to make sure that they're ready to move some kind of legislation.

SCHWEIKERT: Yeah. And I guess maybe, having been in my state legislature 20 years ago, we were talking about it back then. And a lot of it was always...

RADDATZ: But as John McCain also pointed out, things have changed. There was -- there was this election, so this does seem to be the time that...

HUGHES: But it also introduces the question of President Obama's capacity to lead on this. You know, we'll see with the speech in Las Vegas on Tuesday, but I think a big structural question for his second term is his ability to put forth an argument that inspires the American people, but also challenges a lot of the people who may want to block his agenda in Congress. And there's a structural question there, which -- which I think is open.

BRAZILE: You know, when the president met with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on Friday, he made it very clear that the time was right to move this legislation forward. You have a bipartisan group of senators and -- that are working on these so-called principles, the pillars of what this comprehensive immigration reform will look like.

But already we've seen under this president strict Border Patrol. But the path to citizenship has been the thorn in -- in everyone's side in terms of how do we get there? I do believe that, after the speech this week and what we see on Capitol Hill, that this -- this legislation might move very quickly, within the next two months.

RADDATZ: I just want to very quickly touch on Benghazi. It's been going on for months. There have been hearings. There have been these Accountability Review Boards. George, do you think it's over? I know Jay Carney this week said he thought the GOP was obsessed with Benghazi.

WILL: No, I think the subject's had the juice wrung out of it by saturation journalism and it probably won't go on. Mrs. Clinton played the standard Washington card of saying, "I take full responsibility," which means, "No more questions, please. We've settled responsibility, and that's all that's supposed to matter." And then you say she was buried under a tide of 1.4 million cables so she wasn't really responsible. So it's a classic dusty answer from Washington.

RADDATZ: Steve, you being the other member of the media here, is it over?

INSKEEP: Well, I don't know. Secretary Clinton raised this question, what difference does it make, the controversy that Republicans were raising? It's been suggested that that may become fodder for campaign commercials should she run for president in 2016. But it is an interesting question. It's in some ways a fair question, because the obsession is focused most publicly over what was said in Sunday talk shows.

RADDATZ: On Sunday talk shows, exactly.

INSKEEP: No one cares what's said on Sunday talk shows, Martha.

RADDATZ: Apparently -- yeah, come on.

INSKEEP: I mean, there are -- there are serious questions about the lack of security before. There are serious questions to answer here. But whether they can capture the public's imagination is another question at this point.

RADDATZ: Thanks. We're going to...

BRAZILE: Obsessed with talking points.

RADDATZ: Obsessed with talking points. There was a little obsession about the talking points. OK, more with our roundtable straight ahead. How should Republicans regroup for Obama's second term? And the president's surprising take on football. Is it too violent? Chris Hughes shares that and more from his revealing interview with the president when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KIMMEL: ... yesterday, and tens of millions more watched from home to celebrate the first lady's new haircut.

LENO: You know, during his speech at the White House yesterday, President Obama was interrupted by a fly. Did you see that? And, you know, this has happened to him before, but he's learned to deal with it. Watch what he does here.

OBAMA: I am nominating Mary Jo White to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission and Richard Cordray to continue leading the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This guy's bothering me. As a young girl, Mary Jo...

LENO: Wow!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COLBERT: An ongoing scandal, lip-gate, Beyonce-gate, the crisis in Lipia, Beyonce-ghazi. Was there a second singer on the grassy Knowles?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RADDATZ: We'll get to that "scandal" in a moment, but we're back with the roundtable -- George Will; editor-in-chief and publisher of The New Republic and Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes; Democratic strategist Donna Brazile; Arizona Republican Congressman David Schweikert; and the host of NPR's "Morning Edition," Steve Inskeep.

I want -- even though I want to talk about Beyonce, like, right now, because I just saw that...

(UNKNOWN): Really important.

RADDATZ: ... we'll get to that in a moment, but so many were also struck in the inaugural -- which now seems months back, doesn't it -- it actually just happened this week -- by the tone that President Obama took. It was very different. In fact, Speaker Boehner said this, this week. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOEHNER: We're expecting here over the next 20...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RADDATZ: I think we had him, but I'll tell you what he said. He says, "We're expecting over the next 22 months to be the focus of this administration as they attempt to annihilate the Republican Party. And let me just tell you, I do believe that is their goal, to just shove us into the dustbin of history."

Donna, is that the plan?

BRAZILE: Well, first of all, they've done a great job in basically annihilating themselves, no thanks (ph) to you, young man. But the truth of the matter is, I thought the president's speech had a purpose, it had a strategy. It was to really motivate the country that we still have work to do, to seize the moment, so long as we seize the moment together.

It's one of the first speeches that the president's given over the last two years that I could actually read and recite and memorize and really feel inspired by. I thought it was great to use Seneca and Selma and Stonewall, but talk about the progress, the history, the common thing we share as Americans, our struggle for freedom and equality for all people. It was a great speech.

RADDATZ: He wasn't exactly...

(CROSSTALK)

RADDATZ: He wasn't exactly reaching out to Republicans. He wasn't exactly reaching out to the middle. I know you're...

SCHWEIKERT: Yeah, well, I appreciate you referring to me as "young man," but the speech I heard was actually -- seemed to be to excite the base, the left side of the base. Look, where is the speech from 2008? Which President Obama do we get? Do we get the post-partisan, post-racial, the new embracing president? Or do we get a president that's pandering to the left?

INSKEEP: When you read second inaugural speeches, they tend to be historically a little more combative. They're the story of a president who's been in the middle of a fight for awhile, so I wasn't too surprised by the tone.

But I thought that the Boehner comment was quite revealing when he talked about the president trying to put us in the dustbin of history. That may very well be the president's intent for some Republican ideas, but to me it's also a clue to what Boehner is thinking. I think there are Republicans who are concerned that they're on the wrong side of history, which is why there is talk about changing immigration laws, for example, and you have Republicans pushing to find new ways to reach new constituencies and deal with the demographic problems that the Republican Party has.

RADDATZ: Should he have been reaching out to the Republicans, George Will?

WILL: Well, the post-partisan Obama of 2008 gave his inaugural speech in 2009 and, a couple weeks later, passed the stimulus bill with no Republican votes because it was simply a wish list of 30 years of Democratic longing. So I think it was a fairly perishable moment.

To me, Martha, the emblematic sentence from the speech was this. "We reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future." The president lives in a parallel universe where a dollar spent on A can also be spent on B. There's no scarcity, no choices involved. And for all the solicitude he expresses about the rising and coming generations, we're not investing in them. We're borrowing from them, because conveniently they're not here and can't object.

RADDATZ: Well, it wasn't just President Obama who changed his tone and changed his style. The Republicans, it appears, are trying to reboot, as well. The Republicans met this week in Charlotte to plot a new strategy going forward, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal saying the GOP needed to stop being the "stupid party." And he also said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JINDAL: The Republican Party does not need to change our principles. What we might need to change is just about everything else we are doing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RADDATZ: Do you need to change everything you're doing?

SCHWEIKERT: Well, what -- first of all, what I...

RADDATZ: You're the not the change guy.

SCHWEIKERT: Yeah, no, look, we may need to change the way we tell our story, but we seem to go through this every two years. In 2010, it was the Democrats that were having a -- reflecting on what had happened with the huge majority that came back and the U.S. House and the Republican side. In 2006 and 2008, the Republicans went through this. That's actually one of the beauties of our system, is every two years there's this reflection of where we're going, what we're saying.

The fact of the matter is we have a problem as a party. I believe we tell the truth. I actually believe we're much more analytical. We're accountants. Sometimes, though, being an accountant doesn't pull the heart strings, doesn't tell the story.

BRAZILE: That explains why the math has been so awful over the last 20 years.

SCHWEIKERT: Well, or truthful.

RADDATZ: But I want to...

BRAZILE: What's wrong with "we the people"? I mean, the speech was a declaration of the sentiments expressed by our framers. It was a narrative of our past, our present, our future. The problem with the Republican Party is, there's only a past. There's no present, there's no future.

SCHWEIKERT: But, Donna, where I'd strongly disagree with you, it was a speech of how we're going to bankrupt young people, how we're going to destroy the future.

BRAZILE: What program...

(CROSSTALK)

RADDATZ: I want to bring -- I want to bring Chris Hughes in, because, Chris, you had a pretty extraordinary interview with President Obama. He pointed out something that he thought was a problem with Republicans. He said in the interview that certain members of the media are hurting the Republican Party, too. He said, "If a Republican member of Congress is not punished on FOX News or by Rush Limbaugh for working with a Democrat on a bill of common interest, then you'll see more of them doing it. I think John Boehner genuinely wanted to get a deal done, but it was hard to do, in part because his caucus is more conservative probably than most Republican leaders are."

HUGHES: This was one of the most fascinating interviews -- or pieces of the interview, because it was very clear the president thinks that the American people are on his side when it comes to immigration, when it comes to gun control, when it comes to fiscal issues, and he thinks that the Republican Party is increasingly extreme. The question is, is -- is his capacity to lead the country and to organize people behind that. And whether or not he's able to do so is a difficult one which we'll only answer in time.

Another piece of the interview that I thought was really, really fascinating is we asked him about the new kind of politics, the Obama of 2008 and where that had gone. And he mentioned two things that had been a real challenge. One was institutional reforms, specifically referencing the filibuster, and, secondly, the media environment, the world in which we live, where we only really listen to the people that we agree with, the MSNBCs or the FOXs of the world, and there's a sense of...

RADDATZ: Sarah Palin even said something this week -- and she did not specifically talk about FOX -- but that we're preaching to the choir, is what she said.

BRAZILE: Amen.

HUGHES: I think that there's a growing sense that there's a need for a media -- for media outlets and media opportunities that are not necessarily centrist, but that have different perspectives and make it easy for us to hear people that we might disagree with and actually engage on the merits, rather than just recycling old ideas.

RADDATZ: Steve?

INSKEEP: There's a specific problem, as well, in that we have all trained ourselves -- or many of us have trained ourselves to go directly past anyone's argument to their motivations, and that actually is what you hear a lot on the more partisan media networks. You don't actually hear the arguments being engaged. You don't actually hear a lot of analysis. You hear a lot people saying, "Remember, whatever he says, don't believe him. Don't trust him."

And that's a danger. That's a difficulty. We face it when we're interviewing people on NPR. Why are you talking to that person on the extreme right? Why are you talking to that person on the extreme left? We hear that from listeners. Why are you putting on this person who makes absolutely no sense? And at some point you have to get a variety of voices out there and trust people to listen carefully to them and actually listen to their arguments.

SCHWEIKERT: You know, well, being one of those people who is on the conservative side, I think often you get painted as "you don't love and care for people." I desperately love people. But even in your article, Chris, there was a section there where the president's talking about sort of stabilizing debt. Well, if you actually look at what's really going on in the charts, Medicare, the Medicare trust fund may be empty in 40 months. That's loving and saving people, dealing with really uncomfortable issues like that, instead of living in a world of rhetorical, you know...

BRAZILE: But, Congressman, the problem is, in Washington, D.C., it's your way or the highway. I mean, the Republicans won't touch taxes, and the Democrats don't want to touch entitlements.

SCHWEIKERT: But that's not true. We just touched taxes. The sequestration's touching the fence. At some point, it's great rhetoric, but it's not reality.

BRAZILE: But, also, the reality is that discretionary spending is at its lowest since 1953 and that under this president we have addressed spending cuts and we are...

(CROSSTALK)

SCHWEIKERT: No, we have touched -- we have touched...

RADDATZ: Let's talk about...

SCHWEIKERT: ... discretionary, because mandatory -- Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, interest on the debt, veterans' benefits -- are where the explosion is.

BRAZILE: Aging population, of course.

(CROSSTALK)

HUGHES: But I think he's been very clear. The administration, the president in particular, has gone to the table for a grand bargain several times and it seems that the -- much of the Republican caucus in the House has not -- has not accepted some of the sacred cows that the administration has put on the table. The president again talks about this in the interview in detail.

RADDATZ: George, quick.

WILL: Again, I come back to the rule of life. A dollar spent on A cannot be spent on B. You wonder why discretionary spending is so low? Because nondiscretionary spending on entitlements is crowding out the Marine Corps, scientific research, everything else. And this is our future. We're going to be an assisted living home with an Army. That's going to be the American government.

RADDATZ: And you've given me the perfect segue with Army and Marines to talk about what happened this week, lifting the ban on women in combat. There were all sorts of headlines this week lauding what happened, supporting what happened rather openly.

George Will, you think it's a good idea?

WILL: Well, it depends on how it's implemented.

RADDATZ: They say the physical standards will not change.

WILL: Well, that's what they always say. Let me give you an example. No Child Left Behind said we're going to have 100 percent proficiency by 2014 in reading and math. And the scary thing is we might, because the only way we'll get there is by dumbing down the standards, which is actually underway. The question is, will we change the physical fitness requirements so that we don't have a disparate impact? Are we going to gender-norm the requirements?

Give you an example. You've been out, Martha...

RADDATZ: A few times.

WILL: ... in these -- in these combat zones. You're 6'4", 240-pound Marine, and you're injured, and you need a Marine next to you to carry you back to safety, and the Marine next to you is a 5'4" woman who weighs 115 pounds. It's relevant.

RADDATZ: OK, can I tell you something? You know, George, I've met a lot of combat medics who are women...

WILL: I understand.

RADDATZ: ... who rappel down, who pick up big, 6'4" Marines and take them to safety. I just interviewed a woman.

WILL: OK. That's fine. And pilots, we know that 152 women have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. We know that they're now serving on submarines, and it's all good for the military. But there are certain anatomical facts about upper body strength and stamina.

(CROSSTALK)

INSKEEP: If I may, though...

RADDATZ: OK, very quickly here, Steve.

INSKEEP: Those anatomical facts are averages. The average woman may not be fit for the Army, but the average man probably is not, either. The question is whether they're going to deal with individuals, and there are surely individual women who could pick you or I up wounded and carry us off a battlefield.

RADDATZ: It probably would not be me, but there are lots of them.

I want to look ahead now, way ahead to 2016. Perhaps four years from now, we will see Joe Biden, who we saw this week out on the parade route -- that man loves a parade -- running around shaking hands with everybody like no one else. He says he is not ruling out a run in 2016. And then there is Hillary Clinton. President Obama and Secretary Clinton did a joint interview airing tonight. Take a look at that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I just wanted to have a chance to publicly say thank you, because I think Hillary will go down as one of the finest secretary of states we've had.

CLINTON: President Obama asked me to be secretary of state, and I said yes. And why did he ask me and why did I say yes? Because we both love our country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RADDATZ: Donna, what was that, really? Was that a little preview for "This is the woman who I want to be president"?

BRAZILE: Well, I still believe it's too early to think about 2016. After all, we've got to figure out who's going to win the Super Bowl next week. But the truth of the matter is, is that Joe Biden is a natural, like Bill Clinton, we used to always say that he's a natural. He loves politics, reaching out.

But I do believe that this -- President Obama and Secretary Clinton have become real good, close friends. He's relied on her, her judgment. He trusts her advice. This is a relationship that I think has been forged during the four years that they've worked very closely together.

RADDATZ: I want to go to something in the immediate future, which is the Super Bowl, and transition to football and, again, talk about something I thought was quite extraordinary in your interview, Chris Hughes. President Obama was asked, I'm wondering if you as a fan take less pleasure in watching football knowing the impact the game takes on its players? "I'm a big football fan," he said, "but I have to tell you, if I had a son, I'd have to think long and hard before I let him play football."

I happen to be the mother of a college football player, so I read that especially carefully. I want -- I want your reaction to that, George.

WILL: The kinetic energy in the football program at Kenyon College, where your son is a football player, is different than the NFL. The most important...

RADDATZ: He seemed -- yes, he seemed more concerned about college football than the NFL.

WILL: Well, the most important letters in football are not NFL. They're now CTE, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which is the cumulative impact in brain damage of small, unrecognized, unrecorded impacts in a game that is inherently dangerous.

We have parents today,, in this bubble-wrapped childhood that we now have, parents that put -- when they put their child on a tricycle, they put a crash helmet on them. Are those parents really apt to let them play football? This is going to be a rebellion, like the president is speaking as a parent, from the bottom up that is going to say, this game is just not suited to the human body.

RADDATZ: Steve, does it get nicer, football, do you think?

INSKEEP: If the rules change and if there is this kind of upswell that you refer to, it can, but there's something deeply American about the violence of this sport. And this is what I mean by this. I think that there is a tendency -- there's a very American tendency to sacrifice for the team, for the group, for the military unit, or even for the job.

I read a book of short stories once that one of the main characters of this -- of one of the stories was an industrial worker whose face was disfigured by his work in the foundry and he thought that was just part of the deal. I think that that is a deeply American tendency. I think if you put players out there, they're going to tend to want to sacrifice for the team, and that's what makes it hard.

WILL: The next -- the next time we hear a sportscaster say of a football player, prostrate on the field, "He got his bell rung," let's say, "He got a concussion."

INSKEEP: That would change it.

WILL: This week -- this week...

RADDATZ: OK, I've got to quickly here, George, move on.

WILL: All right.

RADDATZ: Because this is so important, what I have to move on to, Beyonce. It is passion from George Will. You get George Will on sports, there's passion. Finally, Beyonce's anthem. Does it matter whether she lip-synced or not? And by the way, the Marine Corps Band wasn't playing live, either. Does it matter?

HUGHES: Look, it gives you some sense of how absurd much of our politics have been when there's probably been as much press on Beyonce -- still looked great, but that's what we're talking about.

RADDATZ: OK, quickly, Donna, you've got 15 seconds.

BRAZILE: She sounded wonderful. It was -- it was great. I loved it. I miss Aretha, though.

(LAUGHTER)

RADDATZ: Thanks to you all. A reminder, Chris Hughes will be sticking around to answer your Facebook questions for this week's web extra.

Coming up, that controversy over "Zero Dark Thirty" and so-called enhanced interrogation. Screenwriter Mark Boal and "Black Hawk Down" author Mark Bowden join us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(UNKNOWN): Can I be honest with you? I have bad news. I'm not your friend. I'm not going to help you. I'm going to break you. Any questions?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RADDATZ: A clip from "Zero Dark Thirty," the critically acclaimed drama about the operation to capture Osama bin Laden, up for five Academy Awards and also sparking controversy because of its depiction of so-called enhanced interrogation.

We're joined now by the Oscar-winning screenwriter and producer of the film, Mark Boal, plus best-selling author of "Black Hawk Down," who's just written a book about the bin Laden operation called "The Finish," Mark Bowden.

I have known Mark Boal and Kathryn Bigelow since about 2008, when "The Hurt Locker" was released. And I watched you, Mark, during the last year or so report out the story of "Zero Dark Thirty." I have no idea who you talked to. But at the very beginning of the movie, it says it is based on firsthand accounts of actual events. That's what's created the controversy, because some say that's torture, it didn't really happen that way. Did it?

BOAL: These topics are controversial. I think the controversy in a lot of ways predates the film. And I believe that we captured the essence of what happened, and so do many other people who have lived through it.

RADDATZ: Mark Bowden, I know you're a fan of the film, but you've talked about a little bit -- and you wrote a book on the subject, as well -- that perhaps it shouldn't have been told as a journalistic story.

BOWDEN: I think it's really an unfair burden of expectation to put on a feature film to call it journalistic. I mean, journalism is very detailed. You know, you try to get down in the weeds and sort out exactly what happened, and I don't think that a feature film is really the place where that happens.

RADDATZ: Mark, you call it a reported...

(CROSSTALK)

BOAL: Yeah, I mean, look, this had to be researched and reported by necessity, because when we started the project, there wasn't a lot of public information. There's still very little information about this, but I approached the research the way I would have approached the research of any article or if I was writing a book, but then there's a second stage, which is you take that research and you compile it and transform it into a screenplay. It's dramatized.

So I think there's been a little bit of confusion about those two different steps. And fortunately, most people that go to the movies understand that a movie is not the same thing as a documentary.

RADDATZ: Director Kathryn Bigelow is on the cover of Time magazine this week. She says she thinks it's a deeply moral movie that questions the use of force, it questions what was done in the name of finding bin Laden. Is that the idea?

BOAL: I think that that's a fair assessment. And it is -- it's a complicated movie. I mean, people want everything to be black and white on this subject matter, and I think what Kathryn's talking about is that it's a lot grayer and that there are deep questions that the film raises.

RADDATZ: The big controversy is that there is a Senate panel that is looking into this movie, head of the Senate Intelligence Committee Dianne Feinstein, along with Senator John McCain and Carl Levin, wrote a letter, calling the film "grossly inaccurate and misleading" in the suggestion that torture helped extract information that led to the location of Osama bin Laden. But I also want to play a clip of an interview I recently did with the former CIA director, Leon Panetta.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PANETTA: Well, it's a great movie. As far as the main subject of that movie is concerned, you know, I -- I know a lot about, you know, the kind of human effort that was involved here on all sides to deal with it.

RADDATZ: But was it factual in -- in ways?

PANETTA: I think -- I mean, I think they did a good job at kind of, you know, indicating how some of this was pieced together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RADDATZ: Why these different opinions? What does that tell you?

BOWDEN: It tells you it's a great movie, because it stirs up a lot of conversation and discussion and thought. You know, there's political truth, and then there's the truth. I think that the reason that the movie has been attacked is that there's a political narrative here that at its core argues that torture is unnecessary and ineffective and that any of the excesses of the Bush administration in the early years contributed nothing to the final outcome here of bin Laden.

The truth is that, in fact, you know, we embraced as a country very stern, cruel methods in the beginning to try to get information. And out of a lot of those interrogations emerged the name Ahmed the Kuwaiti, Ahmed from Kuwait, who was thought to be a close associate of bin Laden.

RADDATZ: Chris Dodd, head of the motion picture association, said that if there is a Senate investigation, it would have a chilling effect.

BOAL: My understanding is, there already is an investigation, and this film has been investigated by various political parties for over a year. And I do agree with that. I think that it could discourage other screenwriters or writers of any kind from making topical movies. It could discourage studios from releasing them.

Criticism is fine, and I can take criticism on board, but there is a difference between criticism and investigation. And I think that crosses a line that hasn't been crossed, really, since the '40s, when you talk about government investigating movies. So...

RADDATZ: Just some final thoughts on this. What -- what is this movie? What were you trying to do? It is, in so many ways, the first draft of history.

BOAL: For me it was an opportunity to shine a light on the last 10 years and portray the human beings at the center of the hunt for the world's most dangerous man.

RADDATZ: Mark Bowden?

BOWDEN: You know, to the extent that it helps that story enter the popular imagination and the culture and our history, it's done, you know, a wonderful service.

RADDATZ: Thank you both very much for joining us this morning.

And speaking of service and sacrifice, we now pause to honor our fellow Americans who do just that.

This week, the Pentagon released the name of one soldier killed in Afghanistan.

And now we turn to a special voice this morning, someone I recognized this week from long ago, a soldier President Obama turned to at the commander-in-chief's inaugural ball via satellite from Afghanistan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS: Mr. President, we're honored to be able to join you tonight.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RADDATZ: I last sat down with Major General Abe Abrams in 2005 when he was a colonel after a brutal year in Iraq for the soldiers and the families back home.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS: Our families are incredible. I mean, they've really -- they've gone through an awful lot. I told my wife I wouldn't do this. They go to memorial ceremonies every month.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RADDATZ: There were 169 memorials that year for the 1st Cavalry Division, but Abrams is now back on the frontlines. Reconnecting this week, he told me, "I count my blessings every day. We were honored to have the opportunity to give the president a shoutout."

That's all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. And check out "World News" with David Muir tonight. George is back next week, and we hope you will be, too.

END

Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...