'Power structure' must change to stop sexual harassment, Matthew Dowd says

The Powerhouse Roundtable debates the week in politics on "This Week."
14:43 | 11/19/17

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Transcript for 'Power structure' must change to stop sexual harassment, Matthew Dowd says
I provide advice to the president. He'll tell me what to do. If it's illegal, guess what's going to happen? You say no. I'm going the say, Mr. President, it's illegal. Guess what he's going to do? Say what would be legal? We'll come up with options. That's the way it works. It's not that complicated. America's top nuclear commander, John hide this weekend, in the wake of the first hearing in decades on the president's authority over nuclear weapons. We're going the try to get to that later. Our chief political analyst, Matthew dowd. Stephanie cutter. La la lanhee Chen. Megan Murphy. And Cecilia Vega. We should try to keep it out of politics? Impossible. One of the questions you canned multiple people is is this a watershed moment. An honest answer is, I don't know. There have been watershed moments that I thought in American history turned out not to be. We thought electing Barack Obama would be a watershed moment for civil rights and race in America. There was a pushback. We thought matter shed moment was when women got the right to vote in the early 1900s. There was a big pushback on that. I think we're in a situation where, until the power structure of America and the world changes, because this is all about power, it won't change until that power structure chairng changes. Until more women, more nonwhites, more nonchristians, are involved in power in the country, this will not change. A lot of power in the hands of the voters. You saw the interview with Marc short. One of the white house answers to the president's problems was the people spoke last year. You sound like me going after him on does the president believe Roy Moore's accusers? We were asking that day in and day out all week long. Sthat a question that has not yet been answered by this white house. It's one, I'm sorry, that has to be answers. And we have to hear from the the president himself. We're talking about a watershed moment. Not only is the white house not saying defen actiinitively whether that endorsement of Moore stands. We have not heard the white house speak out in message to women yet. I don't think the questions end until we hear that from them and from him. Part of the reasons is questions keep coming. The president wasn't shy about sending out the the tweet about Al Franken. He sent out a tweet about Al Franken. But we saw Marc short trying to slip the question. They say they is questions about Roy Moore's conduct. But pointing out these allegations are 38 years later. These questions are not going to go away. Not only because of what we have seen. How this is gripping the the national consciousness. And the president's own behavior and what he's done and his real refusal to come forward and take responsibility for hat he tid. I believe here we're in a watershed moment. I know so many women, and women around this table who have women saying, I'm not going to stand for this conduct. I'm going to tell my story. So many women I work with that have had the same erk peer yenss. We're not going to be able to put that back in the closet. Women will continue to come forward against people like Roy Moore. The people in the media. 1992 was called the year of women. In the wake of the Anita hill story, democratic women elected to the senate. There's an open question on what happens on the ballot this year. There is an open question. Part of it was answered when we saw the election in is a have a. And state elections all across the country. More women are running. More women are winning. There's a reason for it. We're skirting around whether Donald Trump will take responsibility for his own actions. I don't think we should hold our breath for that. But one silver lining is, it has empowered women to stand up for themselves. The entire me too movement is in part inspired by Donald Trump's election. Inspired by it. But we have this election December 12th in Alabama. What happens? You know, I -- I don't know what happens. Polls have Doug Jones ahead. What ultimately happens is it's a lose-lose for the president and Republicans. I wanted to bring that to lanh E lanhee. If you're the Republicans, you prefer the certainty of smaller majority than this hanging over your head for the next six months. Even if it comes before the tax bill? I think so. You can deal with 51. You can say, we know the horse trading we have to do to get to the votes we need. If you have Roy Moore, you're answering questions about Roy Moore for the next six months. If he doesn't win, you're not answering those questions. You can move on to what do we need to do to get things done? As opposed to, do you believe Roy Moore's accusers? Do you believe the testimony? You're going to have ethics investigations. You don't want to get nto that. It's more than six months. The worst possible outcome of the Alabama election for the Republicans is if the Republican wins. Because they have to deal with it in the immediate aftermath. Deal with it throughout the 2018 midterms. And then in a presidential election in 2020. It hangs over them through the course of this. They would be much better off with the Democrat. Think in the whole conversation. I think there's part of the the problem is, there's this entire con inflating of all of the things. We put Al Franken together with Roy Moore with Donald Trump. With Harvey Weinstein. I think we have to have the ability, all have done bad things. All of them. But all of them have not done equally bad things. Some of them's response to it has been to blame themselves, Al Franken blamed himself, took accountability. He had to in the midst of it. Others have blamed the women and continued to call them lie yars. To me, the first step in the process of how do we get through this, we have to believe the women. Until we stop calling them lie yars, we're not getting through it. Yet, that's what we see. The white house answer, tough it out. Don't admit anything. But this is a worst case scenario for this white house right now. This is literally the very last thing they want to be talking about. It sounds like the campaign all over again. I'm asking Sarah Sanders, if it's okay to investigation Al Franken, sit okay to investigate the president of the united States and the more than 12 women who have accused hi they want to be talking tax reform. Here we are, this entire show so much of it dedicated to sexual misconduct and president trump is right in the middle of that. Let's be clear. This is not difficult. These are sensitive issues. Tort rouse issues for the women involved. For people to come out, Republicans and Democrats alike, to condemn this behavior is not difficult. They should speak with a unified voice. This is not a democratic issue. Not a political issue. Not partisan issue. We're this a situation where the president of the United States has not come out and forcefully defend man accuse of sooefrl sexual predation against children. That's where we stand right now. It cannot stand. He'll have to come out and say something. This is not the country we live in. I think most voters know that. A lot of rethinking for Democrats too. K Kirsten Gillibrand saying we should rethink the Clinton situation? Is it your view he should have stepped down at the time, given the allegations? I will -- yes. I think that is the appropriate response. But, I think things have changed today. And I think underthose circumstances, there should be a very different reaction. Gillibrand drew fire from the Clinton camp. But she's not alone. She's not. It's a tough question. It's something I struggled with. I worked for Bill Clinton for eight years. My formative years in my 20s. And I think -- I think, number one, everybody would agree that Bill Clinton paid a price for what he did. He was impeached by one house. He was tried by another. But his presidency was tarnished. Think for a lot of us in that time, those working for him especially, rationalized it because we thought we were doing so much good in the white house. Transforming the economy. Adding jobs. Expanding access to health care. Those were incredibly important things. Looking back, what would have happened if he had resigned? Would we have a different conversation right now? Probably. I think part of it, George, you know, Stephanie, you know, I have been critical of bill Clint frn the beginning. I didn't vote for anymore -- him in '92 or '96. I think until we take off our Jersey and say, some things are not about our Jersey. Some things are not about the tribe we're in. In '91, the Republicans gave up their values to get Thomas on the court. They called Anita hill a nut and a liar. In order to get the things Stephanie said, in order to get those things, they decided the ends justify the means. Tainted person was better to get what they wanted. Donald Trump voters did the -- many did the same thing. The GOP did the same thing. Get a person in, we'll get what we want. Until we take off our Jerseys and say, enough is enough, there are some things we have to stand for. That's on the front pages of the newspapers in Alabama this morning. This is a referendum. At some point, there that has to be a breaking moment. Where we stop rationalizing. Stop taking sides. We're sitting here but talking about not one but two presidents who faced allegations about that. If that's not a breaking moment, what is? Think it has to come from the top. We talk about changing the culture in politics. We've been involved with things have been accepted that should not have been. How does that change? It changes when the culture changes from the top. It's got the be people like the president, like the speaker of the house. People in leadership positions. Men in leadership positions stepping up. I'm for trainings and sensitivization. That's not going to cut it. This is a moral question. And we also have to have our moral leaders. The idea that many evangelical leaders supported Donald Trump and now support Roy Moore because they have an "R" by their name. They have given up the message of the gospels. They have done that, totally diminishes their moral voice if the country and we need it the. How can the white house address it? It's a lose-lose. He's facing allegations from 12 women. You're saying, you have not answered these questions. On the other side, what can he say? He has no moral voice. The president has no moral voice to speak on this at all because he has -- he has caught this virus. He's got the virus. The only way to get through it is to stand up and take full accountability for it. He may not be able to escape it. He promised to sue the women who made the allegations. Still waiting for it to be field. Yet he's being pseudofor defamation by one of them. If that case is not dismissed, he'll have to testify. Look, we say time and time again, the president has lost moral credibility. We still have moral voice and authority. We show it in how women have supported each other. Have come forward on this. This is our moment, not his, in this respect. We need to regain the moral force to go forward. We need to educate. Mentor, try to change. This is to the just politics. I wish it was. It's ever industry. It's mine, it's yours, it's Hollywood. It's hotel workers. Maids. It has to come from the top and the bottom. Empowering women and men at every rung of the social ladder when they see bad behavior to be able to speak out. It's in the lgbt community as well. This will be the water shed moment. If people feel this abuse, bul bullying, harassment will no longer be allow period. The only way it will work is if men lock arms with women. Do you feel it in the work place? In terms of working as a journalist? Yes. Um, in some ways, yes. You do. Perhaps not as explicit as an Al Franken photo. Think in the way people speak to you. In the way people, the tone people use with you you notice a different tone they use with our male colleagues. Perhaps in -- in some cases in terms of job opportunity. You certainly see it. I agree. Over the course of your career, as you become more comfortable in your own skin and competence, you can take it on more. I feel differently now taking that on. You look at young women starting out their careers, they have T hos of questions. How do I handle this? Do I speak up? Am I penalized? Do I make mist a problem if I raise this? We have to answer them with a unified voice, no, you're not going to be penalized. We'll make sure of it. Men lock arms with women. It's up credibly important. I can't believe how many times have said, yeah, something may have MAPD I just didn't want to come forward. You look at your career as women that you just tolerate it, frankly. You look the other way. You just thought this is one person. I can -- put my head down. I want to advance just as much as that man. Just as much as my women colleagues. That has to stop. We Vo to step forward and provide the guidance to women coming up behind us. I wish it hadn't happened. I wish there were so many times I had spoken out instead of putting my head down and going forward. Just the beginning of the conversation. We'll be right back.

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

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