'This Week' Transcript: Powell and Dudley

ISSA: It's for either the attorney general using the special prosecutor or the FBI to do the independent investigation, get the on-the-record testimony from people such as President Clinton, now we discover, and make a decision. It's not for members of the House, Republican or Democrat, but it's also not for the White House to whitewash their own actions.


TAPPER: Matthew, the White House's explanation of this basically is, there's no crime here, there's nothing unethical, it's politics as usual. But does that hurt the Obama brand?

DOWD: Well, it is politics as usual. I don't think this should be prosecuted. I think most people think this goes on every day. The only question here is how competent they are in doing their politics. They weren't even able to promise something -- an unpaid thing to get him out of a race, so I don't know if that raises any degree of competence.

But I think this issue is -- is -- it is -- it is a political issue. And it does hurt his brand, because he came to Washington and said, "I'm going to change things. I'm going to do things differently. I'm not going to be like Bush and Cheney. We're going to do a whole new politics. We're going to bring people together. We're not going to do all -- we're not going to politicize things."

And then all of a sudden, their excuse now in this thing, "Everybody does it, so we do it." That's a problem for his brand.

TAPPER: George?

WILL: Politics is a transactional business. Candidates go to voters and say, "You vote for me, I'll do this for you." That's what we do in this business, and there's nothing wrong with it. That's called democracy and free government.

Obama was seriously trying to act as the leader of his party to get what he thought was the -- he was wrong -- to get the strongest candidate in the race in Pennsylvania. Nothing the matter with this. And the -- for Republicans, of all people, to try and resuscitate that Frankenstein monster of the independent counsel is preposterous.

DOWD: And there -- the interesting thing to me about it, too, is if they were successful, they would be faced with the fact that they'd probably lose this race in the general election. If they had been successful getting Sestak out, if Arlen Specter was the Democratic nominee. Sestak is a much stronger Democratic nominee in the fall and will likely keep the seat. That's what's funny. If they had been successful, they probably would have lost the seat.

PAGE: And that's the marvelous irony of it all. I mean, the system actually worked in this case. The question of whether Sestak was actually offered or whether this was a trial balloon kind of floated in a conversation -- hey, did you ever think about being on an unpaid advisory position in the Obama administration? You know, that kind of hair-splitting is what you would get down to if somebody really did try to prosecute this case.

But what's really important here is that, you know, Obama gets criticized just as much for not being political enough, for not being hardball enough. Anybody who knows his biography knows that the very first time he ran for office in Illinois, there was behind-the-scenes work done to eliminate his competition from the ballot. It worked. He got in.

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