Transcript for Roundtable II: This Week in Politics
I'm so happy to be joined by secretary clinton. This is her last foreign trip that we're going to take together. It's fitting that we come to a country that she's done so much to support. I could not be more grateful not only for your service, hillary, but also for the powerful message that you sent about the importance of women and men everywhere embracing and promoting democratic values and human rights. Shuttling diplomacy this week, hillary clinton, we'll talk about that now on the roundtable. Matthew dowd, david sanger, joe klein, peggy noonan. David, let me begin with you. The skirmish between israel and hamas over gaza. You wrote that it in many ways it was a warm-up in a potential conflict between israel and iran. That's right. As you saw the hamas missile attack on israel began, israelis trying to figure out what capability that iran had. Because it was iranian missiles slipped in gaza. Those were the one reaching towards jerusalem and tel aviv. They weren't enormously successful in that they didn't do that much damage. Iron dome program turned out to be pretty effective not only in shooting down missiles but determining missiles that they shouldn't even target. Because they were heading to sea or no population. That was a message to the iranians, if that thought they would manage to get these missiles into the gaza or into lebanon in the stealth cuban missile crisis, in fact, they would be significantly less effective. On the other hand, the iranians also learned a few lessons from this. They learned what the israeli capability was. The big question going forward the big question going forward is, could this help diffuse the possibility of a confrontation with iran in 2013? The u.S. Has now said along with its allies it wants to start the negotiations up again. That's coming up. Joe klein, in the meantime, every side seemed to claim a victory in this cease-fire. Hamas has eclipsed the palestinian authorities. No, they represent palestinians in gaza. I sat down with the leadership of hamas in the west bank. They've got elections coming this week. The west bank for the first time -- I have been doing israel for about 30 years now, and it's the first time that you have had a really effective, responsible palestinian government on the west bank. Gdp has been growing by 15%. Fatah's done very well on the ground. I think that if you capture their wallets, their hearts and minds will follow. But I do believe that, you know, everybody is claiming victory. I think it was a defeat for everybody. It's going to be a continuing struggle between hamas and israel and gaza. I think -- by the way, I think that egypt's role in this, president morsi's role was really a wonderful sight for future, it tells us that the muslim brotherhood who control egypt are going to be a major force throughout the region are going to be moderates and are going to try to -- with a price. That's real concern. To follow-up on something that joe said, everyone is happy that there was a cease-fire.Think, actually, the wrong lessons are going to be learned by both sides. What's going to eand up in this process, israelis now want a military conflict and the palestinians who want to confront israel, they'll be emboldened for different reasons. The big problem is, fear exists on both sides. I wrote about this this week as well as the fiscal cliff. I don't think either side can see a future where conflict doesn't exist. The conflict has now given their lives meaning. If they take away the conflict, israel doesn't have a meaning. And the palestinians don't have a meaning. I feel some people actually started to see what was going on in the past week, in the middle east and started to actually turn away, thinking, nothing here will ever change. This will never go away. I sense among regular folk, a certain, even as interesting diplomatic things are going on, I sense a certain despair that this will never end and that's not acceptable. Ruth marcus, both the president and secretary clinton have stayed away from this until these final moments. She was able to come in and broker a cease-fire with the help of egyptian president. Broker a cease-fire, a nice way to close out your tenure as secretary of state. It's only a cease-fire, it's not a solution. Gaza is going to be a chronic problem. And I think that joe's exactly right. The most interesting aspect of this episode was, president morsi who played a positive role which wasn't clear that he was going to play with respect to the cease-fire, and then turned around and exacted the price of seizing power. Note the state department's response. No judicial review of the decision. That's right. This puts president obama right back in this situation that many of his predecessors found themselves in. He's at this point, tied to president morsi, because if you can get a muslim brotherhood president of egypt to intervene in a case like this is enormously valuable. If it requires him to do what the united states did for 30 years with president mubarak, which is to just look the other way, at home, that's going to be the dilemma that every previous american president has been in. Hamas is facing the same political situation in gaza that morsi is facing in egypt. Morsi's looking at the extremists, the people who were in the streets rioting over that video in cairo. And in gaza, there are extreme elements, sending the rockets across and there was -- you know, I was not optimistic. You can't be optimistic but there were negotiations going on between hamas and israel. Through kind of third parties and then israel killed the guy who was doing the negotiations for hamas. Hamas has to decide whether it wants to be with extremists or whether it wants to be with the other muslim brotherhood organizations in the region. I want to turn back to the debates here at home. More fallout from the elections. Matt, you wrote an interesting piece this week talking about the myths of the election of 2012. You wanted to take on, this wasn't about the brilliant tactics of the obama campaign, whether it was the early advertising their ground game, it wasn't a real choice election. This was a referendum of president obama that he won. If the republicans take away the wrong lessons from this they're going to repeat this and fail again in the next presidential election. Campaigns and politics are always about big, grand movements, they're about the country. About where the country is. If you take a look at where the country has been heading for 20 years, there has been a slow progress by percentage of the growth of the latino population, people who are unaffiliated on religion, there's been a slow progress of single women not married. They presented themselves in the election and basically barack obama matched more closely that electorate than mitt romney. If you looked at the job approval, it was 51% or 52% on election day, and that's what he ended up with, but I think that if the republicans are going to learn from this, they have to figure out a brand and a candidate that matches where the country is and the electorate where it is today and not think they can change it in order to go backward. And peggy, one thing they'll have to absorb, this election in the end wasn't that close. President obama, 330 electorate votes. They're still counting the popular vote. Yeah, I think -- I mean, from the beginning, it's struck me as this isn't just the re-election of a president, this is the rebuffing, if that's the right word, of the republicans. Look, I think there are many lessons to be learned over this election. There was a not ideal candidate. It was not an ideal campaign, et cetera. But yes, america, in america, something is always being borne. It's always changing. Dem graphically it's changing. At the end of the day, elections are actually about ideas, they're about the stands that each party takes. Republicans do have to sit down and say, what are we doing and it? We have seen the reemergence of mitt romney this week. A smiling mitt romney. I want to show it out there with his family. Ruth, both peggy and matt talking about the kind of rethinking the republicans will have to go through, but there has been a temptation with losing party, to pile on the candidate and blame it all on him. He's the guy, he's the one who lost it for us, it wasn't our fault, that would be the wrong lesson to take. I think there's a danger for democrats, resting on their laurels. Yes, the country is becoming browner, wedge issues aren't as wedgy as they used to be. But the republican party unless you believe it's the stupid party which I don't is just as capable of changing and modernizing itself for the times. If the republican party updates its message, it's got a very attractive bench of candidates for 2016. It could end up surprising democrats. Yeah, I disagree with matt. I think the presidential election is always a choice. Always. I think that congressional elections can be referendums. In this case -- could mitt romney have won it? No, because the republican party's message was that we're the party of rich folks, and he by the very nature of who he was, doubled down on that message. The republican party has to go back to being the party of the middle class. Lot of young conservatives are doing creative thinking about how you do this in a policy sense. They're doing some creative thinking about how you're doing this in a policy sense. If the republican party were in favor of some form of revenue increase, and also, the most effective thing that romney did in this campaign was to talk about the need of government reform. When he talked about the fact that there were 45 different job training programs, none of which worked by the way, that is a place where the republican party has traditionally been and where it needs to go now. I want to follow-up on that, I think the republicans, if you're a choice between big government and big business, the big government party is going to win most of the time. The republican party in my view, has to go back to a much more populous image and brand, much like teddy roosevelt, he takes on wall street as well as he takes on washington simultaneously. The part of the problem that mitt romney had, he was a creature of wall street and big business. If they don't feel the republican party represent main stream, until they're fighting for those folks they're not voting for them. Not troubled. Romney's economic programs reflected the concerns of wall street, as opposed to the concerns of regular folk coming up. Look, as I look at the past 30 years of republican politics, the modern conservative movement come up with reagan in the reagan era, it represented regular, normal, in-the-middle americans, it was actually not the party of the rich. Everybody thought that was the democrats were the party of the rich, limousine liberals. The republican party didn't used to be that. It's got to be back to what it really was 30 ars. David sanger, you would think that would lead republicans let's get the tax increase off the wealthy. You would think it would. I don't think they want to run on this again in four years. It would end up as a perhaps a repeat. But the democrats also have to find themselves a different agenda here. A little bit hard to remember that right after a victory for president obama. But history suggests that it would be very difficult to have democrats elected three times in a row. The last time a party held on three times in a row was in 1988 with george h.W. Bush. The second problem they're going to face, president obama, did not tell very much about what his second term was going to look like. We all know that second terms have a way of sort of wandering off. He came in four years ago with some big ideas that he never mentioned again. Moving to zero nuclear weapons, big changes in energy. He did not talk about those and the interesting question in my mind is, from the inaugural on, is he going to bring those back? Yeah, and I think that the president -- joe wrote about this, is there are these immense divisions that still exist in the america, there's young versus old, white versus brown and black. There is single women versus married won. All of the patterns of r playing out. Huge divisions. If the president is going to be successful and the democratic party successful, it's how do you heal and how do you bridge all of these divisions in the country? He was voted against overwhelmingly by huge segments of society that are going to have to say over the generations. Can I raise one word that's not been mentioned at all in all of this that's crucial going forward? Obamacare. The president has a real opportunity here to reach out to republicans in a number of different ways. Put malpractice insurance on the table. Governors don't want to sign on to it. Right. Make it a national or regional program and then if you have obama care, the question of what age medicare begins at, becomes kind of moot. Because everybody has health insurance. That would take grace, forward. I'm not sure we're reopening obama care to do picks on. I think the president's opportunity is really in entitlement reform. He doesn't have to run for re-election. He wants to -- the squealing re going to hear in the next couple of weeks is going to be he. Thank you all very much. Fantastic discussion. After the show, matt is going to be play fact or fiction with your tweets about the 2012 campaign.
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