'This Week' Transcript: Economy Panel

AMANPOUR: And as Jake said, can't go on for the Democrats with having their message diluted. How bad or good is this for the Democrats?

BRAZILE: Well, first of all, right after a very important victory in New York, Democrats were ready to go back to Capitol Hill on the attack, attacking the Republicans on the budget, on Medicare. And all of a sudden, we're talking about a member's private parts.

At the beginning, I think everybody gave him the benefit of the doubt. After all, he's a strong advocate for middle-class values, middle-class issues, but his effectiveness as a lawmaker is now diminished by this scandal, by the fact that he cannot go back and get on the House floor and rant against the Republicans, rant against the budget.

Look, his constituents deserve a full-time member who is focused on jobs and the economy, not somebody focused on whether or not he exposed himself or overexposed himself to someone on the Internet.

AMANPOUR: And given the paralysis, gridlock, whatever one wants to call it in Washington these days on the big issue, you've also written quite strongly that this really smells of an epic decadence.

NOONAN: Yeah, I think all of these stories as they come along, it feels like every six months now, have a feel about them of almost end of Roman Empire decadence. And they're no good. They don't make America look good in the world. They are not good for our kids, these things. And I feel like the Republicans and the Democratic leadership ought to quietly come together and decide, "No more. This is over. When it happens, we're going to put up our hands and say, 'Stop, it ain't good for the country.'"

AMANPOUR: So let's pivot, then, to the substance. Let's go to the substance of -- of the politics. You've also written about Mitt Romney. You think that one should really take a considered look about him. What is he, in terms of frontrunner or not, right now?

NOONAN: Oh, I think, according to some polls, he is. I think the recent economic troubles of the administration, the very bad statistics coming out about the country, are helpful for him.

I think in the past 10 days, he had a good start, you know, a reasonable announcement and, I think, a reasonable case that he could make that he would be a sane alternative. You know? I think he's got a certain credible personal and professional economic story to tell. So I think he is a possible.

And this is -- I'm thinking it for the first time after the past year in which nobody mentioned him, he didn't live in the Republican imagination. It was all Mitch Daniels, Chris Christie, all that stuff. So it's interesting.

AMANPOUR: So I want to bring up the very amusing picture on the front of The Economist this week. Let's just bring it up. You've got a picture of sort of squabbling Republicans, in terms of their vying for -- for the nomination, and also you've got Obama standing there, saying, "And yet, I could still lose."

What is going on in the White House right now, Jake, in terms of concern about this very matter, that there's no clear sort of giant to take him on, and yet, policy and the economics might do that?

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