'This Week' Transcript: Odierno and Chiarelli

GERSON: And that is the wisdom of the authors of the 14th Amendment. They essentially wanted to take this very, very difficult issue -- citizenship -- outside the political realm. They wanted to have an objective standard, birth, instead of a subjective standard, which is the majorities at the time. I think it's a much better way to deal with an issue like this.

HARRIS: In fairness, one argument you could make, Michael, is that immigration reform is never going to happen unless this issue is really at a boil, and so perhaps that's what Lindsey Graham is doing. OK, let's turn this up to a boil and--


GERSON: -- cynical approach, to essentially take an issue this sensitive and this symbolic, and use that as way to leverage other political reform. I think that would be really cynical.

PACKER: And I think a question -- something I'm looking for is how many Republicans and conservatives like Michael are going to stand up on this. Because what we've seen over the last year and a half on issue after issue is the more extreme tendencies in the Republican Party have been the loudest and have dominated the party's public posture. And few Republican leaders have been willing to distinguish themselves from it, because they pay a price.

AMANPOUR: You've just written an article in the New Yorker this week about what you call the broken Senate. What exactly do you mean? We've got a quote from the article and then I want you to explain what you basically found there. That the Democratic class of 2008 arrived with President Obama, expecting to usher in a dynamic new era. Instead, their young Senate careers have passed in a daily slog of threatened filibusters and secret holds -- when a senator anonymously objects to bringing an appointment up for a vote, which requires unanimous consent."

PACKER: Historically, the Senate has been the slower-moving of the two houses. The famous and maybe apocryphal story is that Jefferson asked Washington, why do we need a Senate? And Washington said, why did you pour your coffee from the cup into the saucer? And Jefferson said, to cool it. And Washington said, that's why we need the Senate, to cool the hotter, more impulsive passions of the people's chamber.

But right now, the Senate is -- it's gelatinous, it's stagnant. It -- I spent weeks sitting in the press gallery and wandering the halls and talking to senators. I sort of approached it as a newcomer. What goes on here? What are the customs, what are the rules? How do people treat each other? How much time do they spend having lunch together? How much time do they spend fund-raising? What I learned was, everything happens there except deliberation. And this is supposed to be the world's greatest deliberative body.

AMANPOUR: And yet, quite a lot of legislation, quite a lot of big bills and laws have gone through.

GERSON: I think you can argue with something like the health care reform that the Senate did exactly what it was supposed to do. It passed the bill, but it moderated it in some key ways, that I think took care of some of the worst excesses. That's what the Senate is supposed to do. And I think that some of these other issues like cap-and-trade and immigration, the reason they're not passing is not because the Senate is dysfunctional. It's because we don't have a national consensus on those issues.

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