'This Week' Transcript:Two Powerhouse Roundtables

STEPHANOPOULOS: And interesting, Jim Messina, even the president is not willing to go quite that far yet. I sat down with him two weeks ago and he went farther than he ever had before in saying that gay marriage is a right guaranteed by the constitution, basically said he can't imagine circumstances in a state where a ban could be upheld, but still not going quite that far in enunciating the straight constitutional principle.

MESSINA: Look, I think he's been clear in his position. The country has had a discussion led by him on his evolution. I think I agree with Terry, the country has moved dramatically on this in ten years. 37 percent support ten years ago, now 58 percent, including 81 percent of young people, part of the problems Karl's party have right now with young voters is people look at them on this, on contraception and think they're completely out of touch.

I think the president in this -- on these two cases has laid out our arguments. The solicitor general is arguing the case in front of him. The president has said very clearly, we do not favor discrimination, that's why we have come out against prop 8 and we have come out against every state's attempt to regulate this.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And -- go ahead.

MORAN: One of the things that happened, Senator Portman coming out this week saying his son's gayness and that's changed his mind. Gay people have liberated themselves in this country. And there are tons of Republican legislatures in the federal government and in the state government who have sons and daughters, brothers and sister, colleague and friends who are coming out and saying, how can really you stand against us on this issue of our love and our hearts? And that is how the change is happening.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Is this movement inevitable?

NOONAN: George Will said something here a few weeks ago, he said, look, opposition is literally dying out, it is the older Americans, not the younger Americans.

One of the things that I like, by the way, about a compromise in which state by state does it, it's not only localities and keeping power local, it also takes a little time. Sometimes it's good when everything takes a little time to settle itself.

May I note by the way, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a famous court liberal, her acknowledging very recently was in I think The Times today, that the Rove Versus Wade decision, the abortion decision, had gone too far and was an overreach. That is an epic statement from an American liberal left jurist.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And that is the last word for right now. Thank you all for a terrific roundtable.

Jim and Karl are going to stick around and answer your questions for our web extra. Check it out at ABCnews.com/thisweek.

And up next, take a look at these long ATM lines in tiny Cyprus. Do they mean your 401(k) is at risk? Our foreign policy experts weigh in on that and President Obama's mission to the Middle East when we come back.


STEPHANOPOULOS: More roundtable coming up. First take a look at the President's picks for March Madness.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right Mr. President, we have a new term. Previous term you went one in three.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES: But I think we can do better.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Okay. Four new years.

OBAMA: Four new years. We'll see what we can do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Notre Dame against Ohio State. I don't know if you saw the uniforms that Notre Dame wore.

OBAMA: That's one reason why they shouldn't go anyplace.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. ULV (ph) Syracuse.

OBAMA: Good match but I like Syracuse. Mainly because Biden told me if I didn't take them, he wouldn't talk to me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who goes to the final four?

OBAMA: I think Louisville this year have the horses to go, go real far. For the championship and going back to the Big 10, I think this is Indiana's year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow. All right, thanks.

OBAMA: Great to see you.




OBAMA: We've got a terrific business-like relationship. You know, he is very blunt with me about his views on issues and I'm very blunt with him.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER, ISRAEL: Barack it's a great pleasure for me to host you here in Jerusalem.

OBAMA: And I want to express a special thanks to Sara as well as your two sons. I did inform the Prime Minister that they are very good looking young men who clearly got their looks from their mother.


NETANYAHU: Well, I could say the same of your daughters.


OBAMA: It's true. Our goal is to improve our gene pool. By marrying women who are better than we are.


STEPHANOPOULOS: A little bonding for Bibi and Barack right there. We're going to talk about that trip and a lot more coming up now on our next roundtable. Joined by ABC Global Affairs Anchor, Christiane Amanpour, Jeffrey Goldberg of "The Atlantic" magazine, thanks for joining us, you were on the president's trip this week, Rana Foroohar, the Assistant Managing Editor of "Time" magazine, and Dan Senor, formerly of the Bush administration, also the author of "Start Up Nation, the Story of Israel's Economic Miracle."

And Jeffrey let me begin with you. You were on the trip, you labeled it Operation Desert Schmooz.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Now the White House made it pretty clear from the start that people should not expect like a re-ignition of the peace process here.


STEPHANOPOULOS: But what exactly did they want to achieve, and did they meet the goal?

GOLDBERG: Well I think they did achieve their goal. Their goal was to re-introduce the President to the Israeli people. To go over the head of the Prime Minister, his new best friend, if necessary, in order to create space for future negotiations.

His goal with Netanyahu I think they also probably achieved this, was to just sort of put his arm around him. Netanyahu is in an insecure position in the Middle East. Put his arm around him and say, look I've got this Iran thing, I know you don't quite believe me. But I'm going to explain why I have this so you don't have to worry. And you certainly don't have to go off and attack Iran without me.

And that was, I think they probably achieved more than they thought they would achieve when they left.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, ABC GLOBAL AFFAIRS, ANCHOR: Well look, I think as Jeffrey said, this was, everybody wanted to see President Obama in Israel. Certainly the Israeli's had felt they had the cold shoulder for all of his first term. Was famous, the chilly relationship, which looked it sort of schmoozed up and warmed up now in this term.

But I think he's right. You know, he went to the Convention Center in Jerusalem, he talked to the students, the young people there. It was very moving. He gave a whole case as to the importance of the Israeli-Jewish relationship. How the American relationship was very close. And then he laid out Iran, peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis and did the whole conclusion.

From what Israeli officials told me, peace between Israelis and Palestinians was not high on the agenda. That was not the objective of this. It was you know, nice to say it, and very, very important. But it was about Iran. And the real question is, does this trip further what when it comes to Iran? Is it about cementing American to go to war if Israel so chooses? Is it about diplomacy?

The Israelis gave him a big cheer when he said this should be resolved --

STEPHANOPOULOS: It was interesting, we saw the Prime Minister. I want to bring in Dan Senor, but first show what Prime Minister Netanyahu said about Iran. He basically extended the timeline once again before military action would be necessary.


NETANYAHU: If Iran decides to go for a nuclear weapon, that is to actually manufacture the weapon. Then it probably, that will take them about a year. I think that's correct. But we do have a common assessment on these schedules, on intelligence, we share that intelligence. And we don't have any argument about it.


STEPHANOPOULOS: That was an interesting point he made, that the United States and Israel now in synch on the intelligence. We saw Prime Minister Netanyahu at the U.N. last year say it was six to nine months before Iran would have a weapon.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Now it's another year. So he does seem to be extending the timeline a little bit. Dancing, is that because he believes that Barack Obama in the end, is going to be willing to strike militarily?

SENOR: I think he was struck as were many, about how strong the President's language was on Iran in Israel. So last Spring at the APAC Policy Conference, President Obama said that his policy is prevention. Prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, not containment.

What he said in Israel is, we will do everything we need to do. And containment won't work. It's not a policy preference, it will not work. In a sense the President was taking on his own at home, saying containing an Iran nuclear program is unworkable. And for him to say that in Israel, on the ground, standing with the Israeli Prime Minister, was a powerful statement.

So I think it had the effect of reassuring the Prime Minister. And the fact that the President seems, as Jeffrey said, to have discarded or at least seriously subordinated the Palestinian issue. He's taken the foot off the pedal on the Palestinian track. So he's telling Israel, we're not going to pressure you on the Palestinian track. We're no longer calling settlements illegitimate, we're calling them, non-constructive. And we are actually going to sound tougher on Iran, is giving the Prime Minister the space to move --

STEPHANOPOULOS: Does that tough talk mean some kind of military action is inevitable in this second term for President Obama?

RANA FOROOHAR, ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITOR, "TIME" MAGAZINE: I really don't think so. I think a lot of people will say, if not publicly, privately, that a military intervention in Iran would be really catastrophic. Economically, politically. And I actually think that there are signs that it may be a better moment for diplomacy than we think.

Last week with Iranian New York and the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, for the first time since the Republic was founded, actually said that he was open to discussions. He didn't say that these were off the table. That he wanted to move forward with diplomacy and actually lauded the President. That's taken amongst Iranians as a big sign. And something really different.

So I think that this is a moment he's, the talk has been tough on the part of the President, but this is a moment perhaps to step back and let the Iranians move forward a little bit.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You agree with that?

GOLDBERG: I don't. I definitely think it's preferable not to have military action. I think though that we've been fooled in the past by statements from the Iranian leadership. They are moving in a definite action. One of the main worries of American military planners and Israeli planners, is that they're going to use this time, the Iranians are using this time, to install faster centrifuges in fortified bunkers.

And the real worry on the part of the Americans right now is that Iran will sprint toward a bomb in between these international inspections. In other words, they're going to collapse the time to the point where it would only take a month or two to actually cross the nuclear threshold. And this is the big worry.

AMANPOUR: So what I hear from experts on all sides is that you know what, they don't actually have to make the bomb. It is all about capability. And they may already be there. They may already not be far from there. The question is, will they take the decision to convert it to that? And as yet, obviously, there's no indication that they have.

But the Iranians can play this out for a while like this. And so can the Americans. Some really do believe that this is the only way it's going to proceed for the next several months. Keep it on this sort of cooker. This slow burning cooker, where you have diplomacy, you don't have the breakout to the weapon and you see what comes out of it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That's Iran. The boiling point already may have been reached now on Syria. And the President was questioned when he was in Israel on why he has not yet stepped in with more military aid for the opposition yet?


OBAMA: I think it's fair to say that the United States often finds itself in a situation where if it goes in militarily then it's criticized for going in militarily. And if it doesn't go in militarily, then people say, why aren't you doing something militarily? My response at this stage is to make sure that what we do contributes to bringing an end to the bloodshed as quickly as possible.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Maybe I'm over reading Dan Senor, but the words that stuck out there for me were "at this stage."

SENOR: Yeah.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And we know the President is getting pushed from several members of Congress, Democrat and Republican to take more robust military action. He's been reluctant so far. Members of his administration have been for it. And even though he was still pushing back a bit. He did leave the door opened.

SENOR: Sure in fact when I talk to government officials in the Arab world and in Israel, and I say what do you think of the U.S. foreign policy these days? The one word they say is Syria. Syria is a case study in U.S. foreign policy failure. Two million people internally displaces, a million people refugees in Turkey and Jordan, 70,000 dead. And this is a country that's allied with Tehran. So strategically it's like embarrassing. It's embarrassing for the U.S. and it's worrisome to Israel and the Gulf Arabs.

But I think one thing the President said in Israel which was encouraging to many who want action Syria. When he talked about chemical weapons, he didn't just say Syria using chemical weapons is a game changer, Syria moving chemical weapons and distributing them to the hands of terrorist groups, which is what the Israelis wanted to hear.

So I actually think he is now lowering the threshold for some kind of action.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And you see --

AMANPOUR: And it's very interesting that, because chemical weapons was the big question this last week, Tzipi Livni the new Israeli Justice Minister said publicly that they know that chemical weapons were used. The Americans are saying no. So what does that mean about a red line? And who's determining whether they were used or whether they weren't used?

And then you know, you've got this whole issue, I've just come back from Europe. The British and the French are going to lower the barrier and probably allow the Syrian rebels to be armed.

SENOR: They're further ahead than the U.S.

AMANPOUR: Way, way ahead. So is the U.S. going to be leading from behind again?

GOLDBERG: On the broader point, it's so interesting, we just marked the 10th anniversary of a militant intervention by the United States. Which had obviously huge consequences that we're living with today. This Syria case is an example of consequences of non-interventionism.

In other words, a President of the United States cannot really catch a break in the Middle East. Either you're intervening too much, you're not intervening enough, there are, we might wind up a couple years from now thinking, man, we really should have done something a couple of years earlier to stop what is unfolding in Syria from unfolding.

STEPHANOPOULOS: We face some of the same problems. We're not even really sure who this opposition is and who we would be arming.

FOROOHAR: Yeah, well when it comes to arming too, how that gets done is interesting. And I would go back to some of the successes of Obama's trip. And I think one of the big, unheralded successes is Netanyahu's apology to Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan. Because that creates an interesting new alliance.

Not just between Israel and Turkey who have so much in common really, and were really moving forward diplomatically before the incident with the flotilla two years ago. But it also creates a sort of interesting new Sunni alliance if you will, Egypt, Turkey, Qatar. So it could be as these anti-Assad countries sort of ally under one banner, that gives Syria pause.

AMANPOUR: She's right on that, the Israelis, the Turks, all of those are very concerned about this. But I also think we don't know who the opposition is, is a bit of a straw man.

GOLDBERG: Totally agree.

AMANPOUR: Because yes there are bad --

GOLDBERG: We can shape that, we can shape the opposition to a certain degree.

AMANPOUR: Right! And the fact of not being there, means we have no equity, no investment, no shaping, no nothing. We don't really know them. And the fact that all these bad guys are there is because of the vacuum that has been created by --

GOLDBERG: The consequence of non-intervention.

AMANPOUR: Exactly.

GOLDBERG: No, you make an excellent point. And I think Netanyahu is not the kind of guy, you know this, who's apt to apologize. Go around apologizing for things.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Yeah I was surprised he did it.

GOLDBERG: He's not a big --

AMANPOUR: He's a lion.

GOLDBERG: He realized that Israel and Turkey have a common, dire problem. The threat of Syrian chemical weapons.

AMANPOUR: Absolutely.

GOLDBERG: And he had to swallow his pride and say, I'm going to work with this guy on this.

AMANPOUR: Maybe he wanted to be, you know, brought down off the ledge.

STEPHANOPOULOS: We only have a couple minutes left. Rana I want to bring you in, you're an economic expert here. And talk for just a minute about Cyprus. I think the idea that that tiny nation could set off shockwaves throughout the entire global economy and affect our stock markets is kind of amazing to a lot of people.

On the other hand when you hear that one of the things that they're considering is actually taxing everyone's bank account, I think that sends a shudder of fear through everyone with a bank account.

FOROOHAR: I think it does. I mean if you look at the size of Cyprus, it's tiny. It has an economy about the size of Vermont. So it's .2 percent of the Eurozone. But what it underscores is the fact that years on into the European Debt Crisis, there's still no common way to resolve a country that's going into sovereign collapse, to get a banking system out of bankruptcy. Europeans don't know, when these things happen, what will happen.

And as you say, the first proposition in Cyprus actually would have included a tax, a one-time tax, essentially taking depositor's money, mom and pop folks in Cyprus, could lose their money. That's now presumably off the table and it looks like the Cypriots are going to be trying to hit some of the Russian offshore money that's in Cyprus.

But the bottom line is, if you live in another beleaguered country in Europe with bad public finances like Spain or Italy, you might well be thinking about going to the bank and taking your money out.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I would think that's probably right.

SENOR: And the former Chairman of Cyprus' Central Bank said, just the fact that the EU, the ECB, was floating this idea and the authorities in Cyprus were floating this idea means this is the beginning of the end of the euro. That if people have no confidence that they can deposit their funds in a bank and not get whacked, not get a haircut when there's some sort of crisis --

STEPHANOPOULOS: Back to Rana real quickly, another deadline tonight for another possible agreement.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you think we will see real reactions in our own financial markets this week?

FOROOHAR: I think that if there's no deal tonight and the beginnings of a disorderly collapse and exit from the euro on Monday, absolutely. If there is an agreement and it looks like there's a timeline for Cyprus to work this problem out. Where it doesn't cause social instability in that country, then I think we'll be okay. And nobody knows yet.

STEPHANOPOULOS: We will all be watching. Thank you all for a terrific roundtable. And when we come back, a life of service after a political standard. Fall to Grace is in our Sunday Spotlight.


STEPHANOPOULOS: The Sunday Spotlight is next. Right after the Sunday Funnies.


KIMMEL: There he is filling it out. Everybody watches him do everything. It's a lot of pressure. Obama picked Indiana, Louisville, Florida and Ohio State to reach the Final Four. He had Indiana to win but Republican's in the House blocked that and he was forced to take Fresno State.

LENO: And we're learning more and more about the new Pope, Pope Francis I, interesting, I read that he turned to the priesthood after he was dumped by his childhood sweetheart. Dumped by your sweetheart, come to the priesthood. You know what that means? We should one day expect to see Pope Taylor Swift.



FORMER GOV. JIM MCGREEVEY, R-N.J.: One has to look deeply into the mirror of one's soul and decide one's unique truth. Not as we may want to see it or hope to see it, but as it is. And so my truth is that I am a Gay American.

It's remarkable how grace works in our lives. You know when we're broken, we're beginning to understand that there's a potential to have a different value shift. To live a different way.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's what I (inaudible) so happy because he's just so uplifting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His love radiates, like, and you can tell it's genuine.


STEPHANOPOULOS: What a journey it has been for Jim McGreevey since he stepped down as New Jersey's governor back in 2004. Now with a prison ministry. That story is told in the new HBO documentary "A Fall to Grace." And we're joined now in our Sunday Spotlight by Jim McGreevey and filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi.

Thank you both for coming on. And Jim, turn back the clock, 10, 15 years. I imagine when you thought ahead to 2013, you thought a lot more about the White House than a women's prison?

MCGREEVEY: Sure. I think that was the driving impetus to think about politics and the inevitable, what I would hope to be the inevitable next step. But the blessing of 2004 and my resignation is that I had the opportunity to reassess my values, what was at my core. And a dear friend said to me, if you could do anything at this point in life, think about pursuing what your passion would be.

And I think when I was in high school and also law school, I thought about entering into the priesthood of the Jesuits then. And so I had an opportunity to reassess where I was. And to go deeper into my sense of values.

STEPHANOPOULOS: He calls it a blessing, Alexandra, you describe him as a broken man. And I guess what a rich story to show how a broken man creates a path to redemption.

ALEXANDRA PELOSI, FILM MAKER, DIRECTOR: Right, just in time for Easter. We're trying to put the idea out there that everybody deserves a second act. Everyone deserves redemption. We've all made mistakes that we're not proud of. And we all think that in this time of year it's good to talk about getting forgiveness for our sins.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But it wasn't easy to convince him to do this, huh?

PELOSI: No, he never really wanted me around. The first time I went out and I met him and his partner and I said, I'd like to make a movie about you. And they said please go away, no. But here we are two years later.


STEPHANOPOULOS: She wore you down?

MCGREEVEY: She did. And what was so special about Alexandra was the trust that she incurred with the women. Because we, at some point we actually took a vote, in the jail and said, do we want to continue this. Because Alexandra and a little handheld camera was in their faces as they talked about some of the most difficult aspects of their lives.

And she gives meaning and purpose to these women. And if any good comes out of this George, hopefully it's that you know, as we drive by those high concrete with barbed wire, we understand there are human beings behind those walls. And America's five percent of the world's population but we're 25 percent of the world's incarcerated population. We're number one, we're ahead of Russian and then Rwanda.

And so I think what Alexandra's film shows is the importance of providing treatment particularly to the 70 percent of persons behind bars who are active addicts.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You know when I first heard your story, I thought about Chuck Colson who also had a prison ministry after his own brush with political scandal. What is it about this ministry?

MCGREEVEY: It's redemptive, as Alexandra says. And for me, I remember when the dean of the seminary suggested I do prison ministry -- frankly it was a safe place for me to go. Because I didn't think I would be subject to recrimination. And then you spend time with people who are broken. And you see, the sense of goodness within them.

But you have to work with them. And I also achieve a parallel blessing, they working with me to move to a more, what I would perceive, Godly place.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And everyone can see a whole lot more of this story in "A Fall to Grace" it's going to air this week on HBO, Thursday night. Thank you both for coming in.

MCGREEVEY: Thank you.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And now we honor our fellow Americans who serve and sacrifice. This week the Pentagon released the name of one soldier killed in Afghanistan.

And that is all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Check out World News with David Muir tonight and I'll see you tomorrow on GMA.


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