KRUGMAN: Oh, I don't think there's anything much he can do that will inspire confidence. I mean, what he's doing in the lead in is, is using this competitiveness, which is actually a tired old buzzword. But it's -- what he appears to be doing is signaling that he's not going to go for the full-out Republican agenda of slashing spending. He's actually going to make a case for more public investment.
And we're just -- you know, I think the main thing right now is what we're not hearing. We're not hearing him signing on to cuts in Social Security, which was something that was being floated for a while.
But, you know, and actually the whole thing -- that is -- political event, actually, doesn't matter. But it's an event that forces the president to signal what he's -- where he's going.
AMANPOUR: George, you talked about the braying and the pouting. And, obviously, there's been a huge amount of -- of -- of attention to the seating plan. Do you think the seating plan, which Democrats sit next to which Republican, and the new tone of civility is going to make a difference, going to last?
WILL: Well, if it, again, drains the pep rally aspect out of it, this will be fine. But as Matt says, the whole event does not matter.
AMANPOUR: Expect that...
KRUGMAN: I've got to say...
KRUGMAN: ... the juvenility of U.S. politics in this past year or so has just been amazing. And -- and, you know, I think about the fact that so much of this talk about Obama having an anti-business agenda has been just because, "Well, he doesn't treat us with enough respect." I never thought that "Ma, he's looking at me funny" would be a political rallying cry.
AMANPOUR: Well, when you say that -- but, look, and I keep repeating this, because I find it extraordinary, given the polarization of the debate. The vast majority of the American people say that they want -- the vast majority, Democrats and Republicans, up to 83 percent, that they want the president and the White House and the Congress to work together on these big issues. Is that -- will they heed the voice of the people?
DOWD: Well, it's interesting, Christiane, because the American public's been sending that signal for many years in a row. They sent it during Clinton's presidency...
AMANPOUR: So why doesn't anybody listen?
DOWD: They said it -- because it's much easier in the polarized nature of a lot of the -- of Congress and how it operates and the media, which sort of has a tendency to cede it to the people on the far left and the far right that can yell at each other. I do think it's a good thing that maybe some of them are going to sit together, though it kind of reminds me of my daughter's second-grade class. She doesn't like somebody this; we're going to seat them together and maybe they're going to get along. But in the end, I think it's a good step.
BRAZILE: Look, senators represent their states, representatives their districts. The president represents the entire country. An -- this is an opportunity to talk above the heads of the politicians to the American people to give them some confidence about the future.
AMANPOUR: Thank you all very much. We're out of time. And the roundtable will continue in the green room at abcnews.com/thisweek, where you can also find our fact checks in conjunction with PolitiFact. And when we return, ABC's John Donvan on the challenge of saying something new in the State of the Union.