Dowd: People won't tolerate DC dysfunction after Harvey

The Powerhouse Roundtable debates the week in politics on "This Week."
10:02 | 09/03/17

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Transcript for Dowd: People won't tolerate DC dysfunction after Harvey
President trump there on the second leg of his tour of the region hit by Harvey. After leaving Houston, he headed 150 miles east on Lake Charles, Louisiana, where he greeted flood victims and thanked volunteers and first responders. Here to discuss the president's visit and all the week's news. ABC news political analyst Matthew dowd, who calls Austin, Texas, home. Houston city council member Amanda Edwards and presidential historian and ABC news contributor mark Updegrove, who also lives in nearby Austin. It's been quite a week. I want to talk to you, Matt. You talked a lot about the president's first visit. You worked in the white house during president bush's response to hurricane Katrina. How do you think president trump's handled the the visit? Jt I think you have seen the city, the county, and state be big in in and do I all right. I think the president learned the lesson of Katrina. You need to show up quickly and in force. Which president bush didn't do initially. I think the president has to figure out the right tone. Part of being a president is not only showing up, but actually conveying to the American public you have empathy. Compassion. You understand what is going on. I think one of the difficulties he has is he has a trust deficit. Hen this happened, it happened on a watch where he had a trust deficit. And two-thirds of the country didn't trust him. I think that is part of his problem. He has to fix that. I think everything in these kind of things is in the followup. This is like the shock and awe stage. The shock of what happened and the aweso in watching people deal with it. Did he set the right tone, mark? Yesterday? Jt I think he did yesterday, yeah. It's coming off a low, charlesville was just a couple of weeks ago. I thing that was the low for his presidency. It might have been the low for any modern presidency. I think just showing up, showing compassion, helped. The real proof is going to be in the weeks and months and years ahead as this city rebuilds. ? And councilwoman, I know this is an incredible week for you here in Houston. Thank you for being here. How was that visit receive snd we all just saw him greeting some of the victims and some of the first responders who were all very positive about his visit. Overall, are people paying attention to that or, as they do on this sad street, have too much work to do? I think you hit the nail on the head, Martha. As you look around, you see how much devastation has really taken place here, people are focused on not only trying to just try to get their lives stabilized and get over the shock of the crisis that just has manifest here in Houston and the surrounding areas. And then asking the question, where do we go from here? What do I do next? Yesterday, we canvassed areas where people were not aware that they had to tear out sheet rock. There is a huge curve of education that needs to take a place. There's a whole lot of work to do. The focus has been on the work going forward and trying to focus on how the rebuild next. And Matt, one of the things he's done is he's pulled back from his threat. It seems, of shutting down the government if they don't get a border wall. Talk if cow can about how this converges with the border wall with what happens on capitol hill. I think when you have a devastation like we have had. And a crisis like we have, it resets the the entire table politically. I think the funding will go through. It will be fairly automatic in the next week and weeks ahead. I think all the decisions he makes now, and congress makes, Republicans in congress, will be made in the aftermath of this. People will be watching this through that prism. Think all of their ideas before of how the make cuts in certain programs. They're going the be off the table in the midst of the this. I think everybody has to figure out how do they conduct themselves in a new way in the midst of a devastation, knowing full well that the problems before the dysfunction that existed in Washington before, people couldn't tolerate it before. They're going to be less patient for it today. They'll have less patience. We have seen horrible thing happen before. People come together, just as beautifully as they did in Houston. Does it last, mark? Well, I hope it lasts. This is an opportunity to unify everybody. And, you know, we're in a state where, historically tis trustful of big government. This is where big government comes into play. You have to have government come around a situation like this in order to offer solutions pip think this San opportunity for people to come to the table. We haven't seen one to this point. And -- I think part of the thing, I'm going to tell it with something mark said. This demonstrates why we need certain institutions put in place by our founders in this. All this talk about we're going to destroy the institutions. We're going to break it all down. This crisis and devtation demonstrates how our standards, how we relate to each other, the institutions to fix the problems, how necessary they are. In president trump has really said. All of you know this, the federal government get out of the way. How does he come back and say, the federal development is here to save you? He's been known to take great turns in the midst of this. I hadn't noticed that. Like DACA. Great example. A recent turn. I want to call to our attention while we're focused on what the politics have been, it's critical that we get past just the partisan politics in this situation and focus on the feeds of the people. There has been no greater and more movinging experience to see people bonding together and helping each other. Republican, Democrats, coming together. The true test of leadership, however, will be, what are we going to do for the people going forward? How do we parse through the politics and get to the needs of the people? Part of that is making sure we have adequate funding in the region to make sure people can rebuild their lives and get back to work. The needs of some of the people who live here. DACA. The dreerms. Young woman we talked to who can't decide whether she's nor nervous about the floods or getting deported. What do you think will happen? Houston has a huge population of a Ders population. Many of which are imdprapts. 85,000 dreamers. We have a tremendous amount of dreamers here. They came to this country. They were brought by their parents. They want to contribute to the community and society in which they live. That's all they want to do. What we want them to be able to do is is be part of the rebuilding. Get back the work. Not be afraid to leave their homes in an instance of crisis. Not be afraid they're going to lose their jobs because of the DACA situation. Now is not the time to raised that and destabilize an area like this region. It would undermine all the other effec efforts takinging place. Most of these homes were probably built with the help of up documented workers in Houston. Most of the cleanup will happen in a large part, for undocumented people helping. They do the job for minimum wage or just above. We have to pull back and say, now is not the time to be divisi divisive, to be partisan. So much that will happen this the chienup here is going to happen based on the back of undocumented workers. And what happens if he takes this on, mark? One thing about the president, he's always wanted to show how strong he is. And usually, that strength is exhibited in pug nasty. And combativeness. We kau yesterday, a more compassionate. More empathetic president. Sometimes, I think presidents can look strong by being compassionate. I hope you saw some of that yesterday. I hope we see more. Today is supposed to be national day of prayer. He's making enemies with China. South Korea. I hope he can -- I can kind of ups why he's tweeting about that today, Matt. Unpli. I think part of the problem we're in today is the belligerent language he's used over the last several months. I think we need to reset our entire foreign sol si and assume north E Korea is a nuclear power and how do we deter and contain them. Instead, continued belligerence. We have 40 seconds. I want to end with you. Just your thoughts this week. What you went through. What your city went through. Thank you. The people of this area have experienced a trauma hard to put into words. Thinking about boat rescues from your home. Thinking about seeing people who you think may lose their lives. Discovering people whose lives have been lost. It has definitely been a traumatic situation. The question is not always about how you fall. It's about how well you get up. And the leadership of this country can be a huge component of making sure that we get back up, that we use this situation as an opportunity to rebuild and correct things that were not right before. And so, I'm hopeful we can pierce through some of those politics and make sure that we focus on how to rebuild lives. How to touch human lives and make sure that we're stabilized in this region. Thank you so much. It was beautiful watching the the people of Houston come together. Texas. Texas. Texans all, you bet. Mother nature's fury was on full

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

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