Roundtable: The Week in Politics

Paul Gigot, Maggie Haberman, Mark Leibovich, and Tavis Smiley.
8:59 | 07/14/13

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Transcript for Roundtable: The Week in Politics
Thanks very much. With that, let's welcome our roundtable. Mark leibovich, author of this town, brand new book on tuesday, creating controversy in washington. Maggie abraham, and tavis smiley of pbs. Let me begin with you, you were out there all week long with spitzer. And this poll he was probably referring to. I guess this shouldn't be a surprise. He's a well-known man. He is leading the race for comptroller. 42-32 over scott stringer. And more than two-thirds of democrats saying he does indeed deserve that second chance. Is that what you saw on the streets? No. It is not what I saw on the streets. But I do think it's what we're going to see at the ballot box. If nothing else comes out, and stringer can't make a credible case, nobody knows him, he's a nice man, I know him, he's not a known commodity. Spit -- spitzer is. It's largely won on name recognition. I think what you saw, he did do that in the debate. He will eat stringer alive. What did you see in the streets? People were standing back and not believing what we were see. We weren't, candidly. But people will remember the better parts of his record. I think the public does believe in redemption. It hurts anthony weiner. It's hard for to have a path forward. Do you? I think I do. Much to my regret. If you are going to run for office -- you have to seek forgiveness. You have to be contrite. I don't hear any contrition. I think he's sorry about the fact he committed a crime as chief law enforcement of the state. I don't hear anything about the way he abused his power. Accusing people and not bringing criminal charges. Trying to force people out. I think he damaged aig by forcing out good management and letting it go to people -- he's facing a lawsuit from the former head of aig. And we will see wall street rise up and try to stop it. He almost never brought cases that went to trial. He used his power through leak and the media to be able to try cases in public. But when he went to trial, he lost. That's not the way you should behave as somebody who the voters have entrusted with discretion in power. But the voters are forgiving of personal failings. They are. I think that what turns us off is hypocrisy, not mistakes. These are bad mistakes on the part of these two men. I believe, since I've made mistakes in my own life choice, the some of the man is not the sum of the man. We make mistakes. Here's what troubles me. It seems in new york and around the country, there are only a handful of people who are qualified to be high-quality public servants. As if there aren't more citizens who should put themselves up. What concerns me is the dearth is paucity of citizens who should put their names in the hats. As if they are the only guys to save the city. That bothers me. Anthony had a huge war chest left over from his congressional race. And spitzer has a huge fortune and the name recognition. We have seen the cycle of rise and fall and rehabilitation and instant front-runnerness if you throw your hat into the ring, it's tight and small. One of the larger lessons I have learned about washingt the neutral sheen of notoriety takes over. Neutral sheen of notoriety. I actually -- the -- all publicity is good? No. I don't think so. If I were smart enough, I would have thought about that. The right or wrong becomes secondary to the winning and losing to the actual fame itself. That's one of the sub texts of your book, this town. This is really something. It's not even out yet, it comes out on tuesday. Yeah. You've created an avalanche of headlines. We're going to see them up on the screen right now. All kinds of reaction to this, a washington takedown, the preenipreen ing egos of this town, the rolling swamp of washington. You're creating conversation. I read the book. It's a fascinating look at the ashington.Cc1: You're not afraid to prick a lot of egos. Although it seems you're a little bit uncomfortable with it even as you're doing it. I'm not uncomfortable, but I'm transparent that I am a member of the media, I'm attached to a major news organization. I love politics. I cover it willingly. I don't have the luxury of being a foreign correspondent who can dive into town and burn down the village. These are people I know, and i will have to talk about my role in it. I don't think I'm uncomfortable. When you have been a journalist as long as you have in washington, you get used the social awkward nns and being able to take shots. What is your big take after looking at the circus of the last few years, what's the blowback? The blowback is weird. There's so much anticipation around this thing, and no one's read it until hopelly now. It's leaked out, and people will be able to buy it. The big takeaway is I'm not picking on any one individual or any one institution. Picking on everybody. It's the whole machine. It's a profile of a city in the 21st century at a time when i think self-service has replaced public service as the real play. And I think that, look, people fundamentally are disappointed in washington. I don't think they have the full appreciation for the full cinemagraphic carnival this has become. What I found fascinating, i have read the excerpts from it, what I found fascinating is the extent to which the american public doesn't know the coziness between the two parties. What we see on tv, on "this week," or abc, or anywhere else around the dial, is this notion that democrats and republicans go at it all the time. What you unveiled and revealed is what happens when they hang out. I would say that one of the great misconceptions is washington is hopelessly divided. It's hopelessly interconnected. Democrats, republicans, the media, k street. It has become what senator coburn calls a permanent feudal class of people who are doing very, very well. The rest of the country -- the insiders, and putting you both on the spot. Sitting next to maggie of politico. Your publication comes in for the microscopic criticism. Here's one of the things that mark writes, politico is prone to trafficking, suggestive notions, driving the conversation. It gets picked up on cable and blogs, I'm hearing talk about. And something that's getting buzz to the point where the coverage is a viable possibility, something out there, which is exactly what we're doing with your book. The criticism of politico? I think that was a wet slap as opposed to a punch. I'm proud of politico. I like mike allen a lot. I think we have made driving the conversation and winning the morning as part of our ethos. I don't think that comes as a surprise. I don't think mark thinks that's a surprise. I want to thank mark for reminding americans that washington is a roiling swamp with a feudal class. We write about that just about every day at the wall street journal. And to get to tavis's point, one of the things both parties have in common is both parties spend other people's money. Washington would be a lot less important, and journalists would have to cover it less if washington were smaller. Which would be better for everybody. Yeah, again, you're all making my point very effectively. No. I do think, right, I think, again, it's the point that everyone is doing extremely well. Whang people miss, and washington has been very unpopular, people have always run against washington,. What's really changed over the last couple of decades is just the flood of money into the city. The city has become the most prosperous city in the united states. It's home to seven of the top ten most wealthy countries in the united states, the area. And just the media, the saturation of new media has made fame a very easy thing to attain. It's made second acts much easier, it's made wealth much easier, and frankly, no one

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