Matthew Dowd: Shutdown 'complete abject failure in moral and any kind of inspirational leadership'

The Powerhouse Roundtable debates the week in politics and looks back on the president's first year in office on "This Week."
14:37 | 01/21/18

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Transcript for Matthew Dowd: Shutdown 'complete abject failure in moral and any kind of inspirational leadership'
January 20, 2017 will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again. The crime and the gangs and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential, this America carnage stops right here and stops right now. Has it only been one year since president trump's inaugural? We'll talk about his impact. Joined by Matthew dowd, Julie pace, mark later, Megan McCain and Carl finny. In past shut downs in 2015 one side really wanted the shut down. This time that's not the case. Matt, both sides feel relatively comfortable where they are right now. You played some tapes during some of the other interviews. You could play a series of tapes there's so much hypocrisy in all sides. In the end the president is the president. He has the house and senate. To me this shows fundamentally about Washington and this president is a complete abject failure of any kind of leadership. This deal could be done. If the five of us got together by the time this left this table we could have had a deal because of what the American public wants. The idea we've come to situation where we can't get past what 80% the country wants shows a failure in leadership. It seems like the president was receptive to what he was feeling, but he's hemmed in on the house side. This is the great frustration of Democrats and Republicans in the president's party. They go to the white house to meetings. He is open to a large deal that would cover spending, border security and DACA. Then something happens. Either staffers who take a harder line on immigration get to him. He starts watching cable news coverage and hearing how his base might feel and he backs a way. That has made this a really difficult negotiation. Republicans don't want to send something to the president he won't sign. They're never quite sure how to hour what that looks like. Inside the white house there seems to be division. We have two separate issues. We have the DACA disagreements and immigration disagreements. Then you also have the fundamental principle. Back in 2013 president Obama called it extortion and said he was going to fight that kind of extortion for his success ors in office. Here we are with a government shut down over a nonrelated policy issue. Senator Schumer clearly switched positions on that. Worried at all this idea the Democrats are supporting illegal immigrants will start the cut? No. Let's remember how we have got here. We got here because we don't have a budget. We got here because the Republicans control everything. They have couldn't pass a budget. We've come down to the buyer and basic deadline. It's president trump who ended the DACA program and said congress fix it. We could have had a deal a week or so ago. Part of problem this erratic nature of the president seems to be why we can't seem to get a deal. As they were saying they thought they had a deal and then it turns out did general Kelly walk in the room who is maybe the real president on this one said no we can't accept that deal. Are they going to be able to work it out in the house with the Republicans? When you control everything, this is historic where one party controls everything and they cannot get a deal done. This is the guy who'supposed to be the "Art of the deal." There does an peer to be a growing group of Democrats and Republicans in the senate want a deal. This is a lose lose situation all aye kosz the board for Democrats and Republicans. It's as simple as when you're preventing the troops from being able to watch championship football no American will get behind it. Democrats are trying to force DACA negotiations. It's interesting where we have president trump who ran on the hard line that Mexicans are rapists and criminals. Now he seems to be hedging in the middle on DACA. The fact Democrats can't come to the middle is shocking to me. I think Democrats have come to the middle. Again, how we got here Republicans wasted their time on a tax bill that a majority of Americans benefits the wealthy. They wasted a lot of times on trying to repeal the affordable care act. Does it surprise you when you see chuck Schumer talking about chaos in this scenario and the clip you played earlier about the hypocrisy? When I see Eric Trump saying I think this is good for us, I do question the motives. I think they may think politically this is a good thing. If you look at the people marching -- No one thinks this is politically a good thing. That is what Eric Trump said. In the end it's a pox on everybody. It hurts the party in power. I was thinking about some of the things the preside has said. One of the things he said I alone can fix this. It seems I alone with blow this up. Without the president the deal would be done. Without the president in the middle of this Democrats and Republicans came together. Is that exactly true? Let me bring this to you, full funding for the wall, if that is true, after a year of president trump saying Mexico is going to pay for the wall? It is stunning. You heard representative Gutierrez say we'll pay for the wall. Mexico won't have to pay for it. They're doing it because they feel on the DACA issue they're on solid ground. Democrats disagree with this point publicly. They're looking at the politics right now. This is an 80% issue. 87. They look at the fact liberal Democrats are the most motivated grouping group right now. They have don't want to take a position on DACA that damp evens that enthusiasm. Wouldn't the wall be a big win for the president? Absolutely. Why not take it? I think he's going T take it. Can you also get the chain immigration and Visa lottery? The five Democrats who voted to keep the government open all moderate Democrats from states the president won. They know the politics back home trying to explain why they shut down the government. Will those numbers grow? I don't think so. They control everything. I believe in the 2018 election it's going to be Republicans -- the Republican party is going to have to explain why they deserve to stay in charge. I agree it's bad for both. Again, you make the argument you controlled everything and you still couldn't get a deal and still couldn't get a budget. Democrats tried to say let's do funding for the military. Mcconnell shut it down. Republicans spent so much time pushing policy that is are so unpopular. I know we're talking about the politics. To me the morality of this thing is awful. The morality of what's going on. We have 800,000 kids who were given a promise by our government. That's right. We're taking the promise back. Not only we have the military suffering, but also the CDC is suffering in the midst of a flu crisis and a symbolism that you mentioned, the statue liberty and Ellis island is shut down. If that doesn't tell you about the lack of moral leadership, it should. It's kind of a met tore it happens on the weekend of the anniversary of president trump's inauguration. We're a year in Megan. Historic low approval ratings. What's interesting to me he's still holding on to his base intentionally. I have know anecdotal doesn't go too far. I have spent a lot of time in Arizona and you can't really go anywhere without seeing someone in a Maga hat. It doesn't matter what he does. They're going to stick with him. The country is divided. We saw all those women in the streets yesterday. Yes. Ec Emily's list has 26,000 women who contacted them about running for office. One of the things we saw is Democrats are winning in places against us and in places where people said there's no way you could possibly win largely driven by women and quite frankly by black women. The shut down is I am symbolic -- I was thinking about the Muslim ban and what a disaster that was. It is the incompetence and inability to lead and the insecurity people are feeling that I think have led to some of these numbers. This is not the guy -- you're right he's got a core base of support no matter what they're with him. There's an increasing number of people that thought this is not the guy which thought. The president has made good on his promise of disrupting. Absolute. What's the signature moment for you? The day he fired James Comey. I remember sitting in our ap booth and it encapsulates so many of the dynamics of this administration. The announcement and explanation was bungled. It has really created this dynamic inside the white house. They know this is a moment perhaps more than what happened during the campaign potentially with contacts with Russia that could get people in trouble. It's that single moment that got Robert Mueller appointed special counsel. One of the moments I took I think and you showed a clip. The moment that symbolized the entire presidency was his inaugural speech which was one of the most unique, divisive depressing speeches. From that moment when he had a 46% approval rating it only reflected that. He arrives today with a 36% approval rating. He started at the lowest point and ended at the lowest point. His leadership has not done anything to expand his base beyond the third of the country. I think the tax cut and jobs act. We're still two to three weeks away from 90% Americans having more money in their paychecks every week. 2 million Americans have got bonuses, raising. We have auto manufacturing coming back from Mexico to Michigan. Mark, I have a question -- He was also the first sitting president to go to the March for life and speak at fit. It shows he's keeping his promises to his base. I was worried he was going to govern like a New York liberal. It surprises me. He has not been a New York liberal. Charlottesville for a couple reasons. I think it shook the conscious of this country. We've been talking about how things are changing and moving so fast. It was something that I think shook everybody and woke people up a little bit out of a fog to recognize the very deep divisions in this country. One of the things I thought was dawas -- even though I was terribly disappointed in the president because he made it clear to me he was not a president for all Americans. I think it was a moment a lot of Americans recognized it's not just this is a present administration we can see with our own eyes isn't true but we feel in our own heart isn't true. He not going to be truthful about white is he Prem si and slavery. Country more divided to day than a year ago? Absolutely. The stock market is at record highs, unemployment is down, the president has kept some of his promises, but he's at the the lowest point than any president in this first year. That is going to have to be the last word today. Thank you very much.

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

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