'This Week': Powerhouse Roundtable

Donna Brazile, Cokie Roberts, Matthew Dowd, and Bill Kristol on fallout over the Senate nuclear option.
3:00 | 11/24/13

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Transcript for 'This Week': Powerhouse Roundtable
washington work regardless of who's in the white house. Or who controls the senate. You'll regret it. You may regret it a lot sooner. This war has escalated. This war on both sides. We're approaching a slippery slope that will destroy the very unique aspect of this institution called the united states senate. Big change in the senate this week, no more filibusters for presidential appointees. Or lower court judges. Let's debate that now with our roundtable. Bill kristol is back. Along with our abc team, cokie roberts, donna brazile and matthew dowd. Donna, let me begin with you. They call it the nuclear option in the senate, becaus it's such a massive change in senate rules. YOU HEARD senator McCain right there, it is going to change the way the senate works, shouldn't be done. I disagree of course with senator McCain. With all the conversation this morning with the nuclear deal with iran. This is mel bra mattic with the senate. The truth of the matter is, george, is that senate democrats have gone back and forth and back and forth with republicans for the last two years to try to come up with an agreement that was consistent to continue to allow the administration appointes and the judicial appointees and, you know, they just couldn't keep this deal, so senator reid, at the urging of his caucus, decided that this was time to go ahead and have a deal where simple majority rule. So, the president will be able to get his nominees through and the senate will be able to function. The senate can't function? I thought it was quite remarkable for harry reid to say the senate isn't functioning. He's the majority leader. Doesn't he have the responsibility of the senate not working? He doesn't have the votes. They tried right after this to bring up the defense bill, it's not functioning. Like any member of the senate, can put a hold on any nominee, I mean, all it's going to do is going to make everybody madder and make it worse rather than easier to. To me, this isn't the problem. This is a symptom of the problem. There's a virus going around in washington, d.C., A virus of hypocrisy. Harry reid was against it before he was for it. President obama was against it before he was for it. In the end, what's happening is what happened in the country at large. I was looking at the data, 80 senators from 25 years ago were from swing states. The problem in washington, d.C., you can't have the same rules today as you did before. You can't have the same rules in chess as you have in mixed martial arts. That's the situation we're in. It's reflecting the situation that we in the country. Bill kristol, I wonder if it's going to intensify the polarization we have already seen and essentially start to move us toward parliamentary government. When a party is in charge, they're going to get their way. I think so. I think we're being too nice here. Harry reid agreed with mitch McCONNELL THAT THIS WOULD NOT Happen in this session. So, he's simply breaking his word because republicans were not confirming every judge as quickly as the administration liked. And were holding up some branch appointees. A lot of them. 168 filibusters. In the history of the country. 82 under president obama. A lot of those filibusters were because harry reid in fact introduced the bill with amendments and it's called a quote filibuster. The fact that harry reid -- reid's behavior asthma jorty leader has been pretty amazing. They don't bring it to the floor. They don't take up stuff at the house. But there are more than 200 nominations sitting there not confirmed. That is dysfunctional, certainly. But, matt's point is the real point, the senate is just reflecting what's going on in the country, so you have -- in THE 1990s, AS RECENTLY AS THE 1990s, MORE THAN A THIRD OF THE Senate voted in the middle. And now, you don't have one member of the senate whose voting record is somewhere between the most conservative democrat and the most liberal republican. The founding fathers and what they say, we also must keep in mind that the founding fathers warned against day in and day out, about the power of political parties and the power of parties to tear apart party and the political parties and it's very difficult. As I say, you can't have the same rules in chess when you're going to be fine as you have in mixed martial arts which is where the situation is today in washington. We had a new abc news poll come out this week, president obama continues to drop on his struggle with obama care. The president's approval rating is 42%. Marking the low of his time. For the first time, less than a majority of americans see him as honest and trustworthy. And now, a full 70% of the country says we're on the wrong track. I think, donna, there were some hope, this was going to break the gridlock. This is likely poison the well on everything else the president wants to do. We go back to bipartisan on steroids? The fact is, congress is already mad as hell, they're not interested in getting a lot done. I think the president is going to continue to push them, push them on immigration, push them on the farm bill, and with all of the budget agreements coming to a deadline, he'll have to see if he can bring some of the middle together, the truth is, washington, d.C., Is dysfunction. The republicans like gridlock. Because they have no other agenda. It's not been brought to the floor of senate, republicans aren't responsible for gridlock in this situation. They're not responsible for gridlock? Bill? The house op representatives -- this was passed with 39 democratic votes. 39 democratic -- john boehner will not allow the democrats to have vote. Where we are today, george, the president, in 2007, 2008, ran on the idea that he was going to bring the country together and we're going to get past the gridlock, the vitriol the rules have to change in the senate because it's become so polarized we can't get anything done. The president's job approval numbers aren't coming back. I have seen this movie before. I have seen this movie before. September 2011 and october 2011, when many of you said that the president couldn't come back because his numbers had dropped. The president will come back. Because -- I think much more likely to happen is the republicans sink father as well, so that both sides just keep -- the public gets furious -- is furious with both sides. The average of all of the polls, congressional prufl is at 8.5%. The status quo remains. I want to say, talking to a friend, the republican congress isn't that popular? No, it's not. If you're republican running in feeling pretty good right now. A competitive house seat, you're feeling pretty good right now. If you go around the country -- what happened is, in a couple of republican primaries, very interesting things in both alabama and louisiana, where the business community came in and basically said, we don't want all of these crazy people in the house of representatives and managed to nominate people who were -- expand medicaid bill. We only have a couple of minutes left. I don't want to let this moment pass without looking back at the events of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of jfk. Matthew, I was actually surprised at how much this resonated across the country 50 years later. Well, I think, first being an irish catholic american, it's a moment in time that all of us, we still have the pictures of jfk, are still in bars everywhere we go, it was a moment in time, where there was this hope and in one moment for many people in this country, including the kennedy family, there was a complete loss of innocence, if you trace back people's perceptions of where they wanted to go and what hope they had, you could almost trace it back to that date. Cokie, this hit home. Your father was the democratic leader in the house when john kennedy was serving. I think we have a picture of your family actually in the oval office just weeks before. Yes. Both of my grandmothers happened to be in the area at the same time. That's my parents and my two grandmothers with jack kennedy ON NOVEMBER 1st, 1963, AND HE Was dear to them. He was very charming. He said, where are the photographers? I can't find the photographers. Then he found one to take that lovely picture. Matt is quite right. It was the time of such hope. And such possibility. The country, the economy was booming. We had never lost a war. It was -- and young people being called to serve. And then, it just all sort of went dark. Not surprisingly, bill kristol, 50 years later, it also sparked a political debate. John kennedy a conservative or liberal? He was a hawk and believed in a strong defense. The speech he was going to give IN DALLAS ON NOVEMBER 22nd, WAS Calling for tax cuts across the board to get people to get the economy moving again. In those two respects he would have been a little bit more comfortable in the republican party today than the democratic party. You know, another catholic family with john f. Kennedy, robert kennedy, martin luther king, of course, in our household we have bill clinton and barack obama. But he inspired a generation to change the country. He inspired people to tear down the walls of discrimination. Lyndon johnson implemented much of his vision. He was such an inspirational figure. It's interesting. This is a moment when you don't know where the myth begins and the reality begins. It got mixed up in people's minds. They're still sorting it all. Thank you all very much. When we come back -- facebook's mark zuckerberg on his new mission to washington

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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