'This Week' Transcript: Economy Panel

Transcript: Economy Panel

ByABC News
June 12, 2011, 5:00 AM


AMANPOUR (voice-over): This week, under fire.

WEINER: I'm deeply ashamed of my terrible judgment and actions.

AMANPOUR: Congressman Anthony Weiner seeks treatment as his own party leaders tell him to seek the exit. The lies, the disgrace, the shocking behavior, and this just the latest in a long line of political men behaving badly. What's happening in the halls of power?

Then, more pain, little gain.

OBAMA: We are in a tough fight.

AMANPOUR: Anxiety about jobs and fear the recovery is going nowhere.

PAWLENTY: Now, if that was recovery, then our president needs to enter economic rehab.

AMANPOUR: We'll ask whether either party has a plan to get Americans back to work.

ANNOUNCER: Live from the Newseum in Washington, "This Week" with Christiane Amanpour starts right now.


AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program. And we have a lot of news to report and discuss today, including the latest on the war in Afghanistan and the race for the White House.

But first, some headlines since your morning papers.

ABC News has obtained the first pictures of the key Al Qaida operative killed in Somalia yesterday. Fazul Abdullah Mohammed was the mastermind of the 1998 bombings of the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and became Al Qaida's top leader in Africa. He was shot by Somali security forces in Mogadishu.

And here in the United States this morning, a picture so many people have been waiting to see, the smiling face of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in her first photo since being shot in the head at point-blank range in early January. Giffords has been steadily improving, but her spokesman says the congresswoman still has a long way to go. She has trouble speaking complete sentences and expressing complex thoughts.

Still today, there's good news to report. We learned that Giffords could be released from the hospital within a few weeks to continue her rehabilitation on an outpatient basis.

And in Washington, Democrats are in a holding pattern at this hour awaiting Congressman Anthony Weiner's next move. His sexting scandal is drowning out the party's message on jobs and the economy. And congressional leaders are getting anxious.

For the latest, we turn to senior political correspondent Jon Karl. Jon, bring us up to date.

KARL: Christiane, with virtually the entire leadership of the Democratic Party turning on him, Anthony Weiner has decided to seek psychological treatment and take what he is calling a short-term leave of absence from Congress. This comes after party leaders who for days have privately been urging him to resign went public with those demands.

Nancy Pelosi said in a statement, "Congressman Weiner has the love of his family, the confidence of his constituents, and the recognition that he needs help. I urge Congressman Weiner to seek that help without the pressure of being a member of Congress."

And the chairwoman of the Democratic Party said late yesterday that his behavior was sordid and unacceptable.


WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: It is with great disappointment that I call on my colleague, Representative Anthony Weiner, to resign. The behavior he has exhibited is indefensible, and Representative Weiner's continued service in Congress is untenable. This sordid affair has become an unacceptable distraction for Representative Weiner, his family, his constituents, and the House. And for the good of all, he should step aside and address those things that should be most important, his and his family's well-being.


KARL: Democratic leaders expect that Weiner will ultimately get that message and resign, but no indication he's doing it yet. And, Christiane, there is nothing they can do to force him out short of a vote of the full House to expel him. And at this point, nobody expects that to happen.

AMANPOUR: Jon, thank you so much.

And Congressman Weiner, of course, has deep roots in the Democratic Party. He's married to Hillary Clinton's top aide and was widely expected to be the next mayor of New York. Instead, he's paralyzed his party at a crucial moment.

So let's bring in our roundtable now, George Will, Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, who's also vice chair of the Democratic National Committee, Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan, who served as Ronald Reagan's wordsmith-in-chief, and ABC's senior White House correspondent Jake Tapper.

Thank you all for being here. George, is it over for Weiner? I mean, let's cut to the chase.

WILL: No. But with absolute predictability, this being a modern enlightened age, we've arrived at the medicalization of this crisis, says I'm going in for treatment. For what, no one can say. But we also reach a point these days where they say, "I didn't do it. My disease made me do it." So presumably...

AMANPOUR: But interesting you say no.

WILL: Well, his next move would be to say that I cannot -- because I have a disease, I cannot be expelled because that would violate the Americans with Disabilities Act. There are lots of...


WILL: There are lots of -- when a political obsessive such as this faces expulsion from politics, it's not the loss of a job, it's the loss of identity. It's personal annihilation. He's going to dig in.

AMANPOUR: Well, Jake, you've been obviously covering it closely, and you mentioned, of course, that Nancy Pelosi has never done this to a fellow Democrat. So can he hang on?

TAPPER: He can, legally, as George says.

AMANPOUR: Legally, yes.

TAPPER: You have to be -- you have to be expelled. And his case to make is he has not done anything to violate the law, at least not that we know about as of right now.

As Jon mentioned, Pelosi and other Democratic leaders, including Steve Israel, who's a good friend of his, and also congressman from New York, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, all week have been pushing him, "You have to step down, you have to resign. We can't go into a third week with this dominating the headlines. We want to talk about the Republicans' Medicare plan. We want to talk about the economy."

And Friday morning, Weiner told Pelosi that he was checking into treatment, and she's like, "We're going to have to go public now. You're really not getting the message."

AMANPOUR: And as Jake said, can't go on for the Democrats with having their message diluted. How bad or good is this for the Democrats?

BRAZILE: Well, first of all, right after a very important victory in New York, Democrats were ready to go back to Capitol Hill on the attack, attacking the Republicans on the budget, on Medicare. And all of a sudden, we're talking about a member's private parts.

At the beginning, I think everybody gave him the benefit of the doubt. After all, he's a strong advocate for middle-class values, middle-class issues, but his effectiveness as a lawmaker is now diminished by this scandal, by the fact that he cannot go back and get on the House floor and rant against the Republicans, rant against the budget.

Look, his constituents deserve a full-time member who is focused on jobs and the economy, not somebody focused on whether or not he exposed himself or overexposed himself to someone on the Internet.

AMANPOUR: And given the paralysis, gridlock, whatever one wants to call it in Washington these days on the big issue, you've also written quite strongly that this really smells of an epic decadence.

NOONAN: Yeah, I think all of these stories as they come along, it feels like every six months now, have a feel about them of almost end of Roman Empire decadence. And they're no good. They don't make America look good in the world. They are not good for our kids, these things. And I feel like the Republicans and the Democratic leadership ought to quietly come together and decide, "No more. This is over. When it happens, we're going to put up our hands and say, 'Stop, it ain't good for the country.'"

AMANPOUR: So let's pivot, then, to the substance. Let's go to the substance of -- of the politics. You've also written about Mitt Romney. You think that one should really take a considered look about him. What is he, in terms of frontrunner or not, right now?

NOONAN: Oh, I think, according to some polls, he is. I think the recent economic troubles of the administration, the very bad statistics coming out about the country, are helpful for him.

I think in the past 10 days, he had a good start, you know, a reasonable announcement and, I think, a reasonable case that he could make that he would be a sane alternative. You know? I think he's got a certain credible personal and professional economic story to tell. So I think he is a possible.

And this is -- I'm thinking it for the first time after the past year in which nobody mentioned him, he didn't live in the Republican imagination. It was all Mitch Daniels, Chris Christie, all that stuff. So it's interesting.

AMANPOUR: So I want to bring up the very amusing picture on the front of The Economist this week. Let's just bring it up. You've got a picture of sort of squabbling Republicans, in terms of their vying for -- for the nomination, and also you've got Obama standing there, saying, "And yet, I could still lose."

What is going on in the White House right now, Jake, in terms of concern about this very matter, that there's no clear sort of giant to take him on, and yet, policy and the economics might do that?

TAPPER: I think there's an understanding that there will be a giant, and whether it's Mitt Romney or -- George and I have talked about this -- probably more likely Tim Pawlenty, because Romney really alienates a lot of the Tea Party conservatives, and Pawlenty -- there's a real opening for him there, assuming Palin doesn't run.

I think there's an understanding that there will be a formidable Republican opponent. The way they say it is President Obama, you know, he got every break he could possibly get in 2008 and still 47 percent of the country voted against him. They do not expect that 47 percent opposition to go down. They think it will go up. This could be a 1- or 2-point race, and a lot of it hinges on the economy.

And right now, the president does not have a strong economic message. You saw the highest disapproval number for him when it comes to the economy, 59 percent of his presidency. That is a disastrous number, and it could really spell trouble for his re-election.

WILL: In the first quarter, housing values in this country went down 4 percent. Another 10 percent decline on housing values will mean that one-third of all the Americans with mortgages will be underwater, that is, they will owe more on their homes than their homes are worth. That is terrifying to people. You add that to the jobs numbers and Goliath, as The Economist calls the president, Goliath is very vulnerable.

AMANPOUR: Well, let's talk about Pawlenty quickly, and then we'll get to what you wanted to say, but he made a speech today on the economy. Let's just put up a little bit of what he said. I want to get your reaction to that.


PAWLENTY: Let's start as a nation with a big, positive goal. Let's grow the economy by 5 percent, instead of the anemic 2 percent currently envisioned. Such a national economic growth target will set our sights on a positive future. It'll inspire the actions needed to reach it.


AMANPOUR: So I know you're considering Pawlenty as a real viable candidate. Do you think, though, that's a bit fanciful? I mean, a lot of economists have said that 5 percent today is -- I mean, it's great, it would be great, but not really possible.

WILL: A man's reach should exceed his grasp, and that certainly does. Steady 5 percent growth probably won't happen. Also, his pledge to get federal spending down to 18 percent of GDP is very hard to do with an aging population and a welfare state that exists to transfer wealth to the elderly.

That said, he's avoiding the austerity trap. He's avoiding the green eyeshade, root canal kind of politics that Ronald Reagan avoided. Reagan said we're going to get out of this mess with growth. At this point, by the way, in the Reagan recovery, after '81-'82, the economy was growing at 7 percent.

BRAZILE: Well, I don't know if we'll ever get back to 5 percent. One would hope that we could get back to 5 percent. We haven't seen 5 percent steady growth since John F. Kennedy. And the only countries now with -- producing 5 percent, 6 percent are the BRICs, Brazil, India and China.

So the goal right now -- the president must get Congress to focus on raising the debt ceiling, going forward with some kind of budget solution so that we can stop having these endless conversations on deficit, deficit, deficit.

The biggest deficit we face in this country today is a jobs deficit. And there's no evidence that the Republican practice of cutting the budget will in somehow create a new round of employment for -- for growth to really occur in this country.

NOONAN: I think there's something powerful in the fact that Pawlenty -- other candidates are saying, "Cut, we'll get growth. Lower taxes, we'll get growth." In an interesting sort of way, he's saying growth is the thing. And once we know that, then there are a number of things we've got to do, like cut -- limit regulation, et cetera. So he's just sort of turning the picture a little bit.

I do think for any Republican right now what is the emerging theme is -- of Obama, he was handed a lot of bad stuff by history, two wars, recession, the big crash, the Great Recession, but he made it worse.


NOONAN: That's what's coming. Oh, my goodness. If you look at...

BRAZILE: Fifteen months of consecutive job growth? Fifteen months. So we had a bad month, 55,000 jobs or less created. A month where we had the disaster in Japan, we had natural disasters, and of course we saw energy prices rise.

The one thing that the Republicans have been doing since day one is downplaying the success that we've seen with some of the economic stimulus that the Democrats put in place.

AMANPOUR: So, listen, we're going to get to the...

NOONAN: The bullet have been shot, and we have unemployment of 9.1 percent or 9.2 percent. The big overall, overarching indicators are not good and not optimism-making.

AMANPOUR: So we're going to get to the policy of the economy in a short while, but I want to ask you again about another candidate who is meant to be the candidate of ideas, and that's Newt Gingrich. We saw what happened to him this week. Let's just put up what he said in response to his campaign basically walking out on him.


GINGRICH: There's a fundamental strategic difference between the traditional consulting community and the kind of campaign I want to run. Now, we'll find out over the next year who's right.


AMANPOUR: George, who's right?

WILL: We'll find out over the next week who's right. When you combine egomania with indiscipline in the way that he does, you get a man who thinks all previous metrics for running politics in this country don't apply, because I'm so different. Well, as I said, we're going to find out. And we've never seen anything like the catastrophic rollout of this campaign.

AMANPOUR: Jake, do you think -- he's this week re-launching -- this weekend, in fact, in California, he's going to be at that debate on Monday. Does he have a hope?

TAPPER: Anyone has a hope, but I've spent a lot of the -- much of the last few days talking to the senior campaign staffers who walked out on him, and they believed in him. They think he would be a great president. But the campaign they say was in complete disarray. He and his wife spent, Callista, spent too much time selling his books, promoting his documentary films. There was one time they were trying to get him -- get Gingrich to go down to South Carolina for a Memorial Day parade. He wouldn't do it unless a film premiere would be set up. That was not set up. And so they did not go down to South Carolina. Instead, they went to the Kennedy Center to take in the opera.

AMANPOUR: All right. And you'll continue, I hope, this conversation in the green room. That will continue, and we will be back after a break with all of the politics of the economy and the policy that's needed to put Americans back to work. Our expert economic panel is coming up.




OBAMA: We still face some tough times. We still face some challenges. We're going to pass through some rough terrain. There are still some headwinds that are coming at us.

STEWART: No (bleep). All right. A little rough terrain, a little headwinds still coming at us. Fine, we're Americans, we're strong.

OBAMA: It's just like, if you had a bad illness, if you got hit by a truck, you know, it's going to take a while for you to mend. And that's what's happened to our economy.


STEWART: How -- how do we go from "There's a little bit of headwind" to "We got hit by a truck"?


AMANPOUR: If Jon Stewart doesn't seem convinced, none of my guests here do, either. They think that that was funny, and he is not alone, because a new ABC News-Washington Post poll shows that 90 percent of Americans describe the state of the economy as not so good or poor. What's more, 57 percent believe the economy has not even started to recover.

No surprise. Look at this. You can see here how long it took the jobs picture to improve after previous recessions over the past 36 years. Now, fast-forward to the current crisis, job losses being deeper and longer lasting. If job growth continues at this pace, it could take until 2016 to return to pre-recession levels of employment.

So how do we jump-start this process? Joining me now, Republican Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama, the ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee, Robert Reich, the former Clinton administration labor secretary and current professor at the University of California at Berkeley. And once again, ABC's Jon Karl.

So that comedic set-up had you all laughing. What is the reality? Has one been hit by a truck? Is it a headwind? Let me ask you first. You've dealt with labor and -- and the job market. Is this cyclical? Or is this a real structural hole?

REICH: Christiane, the central problem is on the demand side. Seventy percent of the U.S. economy is consumers, and consumers are hit with the equivalent of a truck. I mean, their housing prices are dropping like mad. Their wages, adjusted for inflation, are dropping. Their jobs are disappearing, and almost everybody knows somebody or has somebody in their own family or themselves are worried about losing a job.

Under these circumstance, consumers are pulling in. They are not spending. And if they're not spending, then jobs are not going to be created. There has got to be -- in fact, the jobs program we need is a way of putting money back in people's pockets and creating jobs even directly (inaudible)

AMANPOUR: So we sort of know, but is there a plan -- is there a plan to get Americans back to work, not long term, but now?

SHELBY: Well, I believe that stimulus basically doesn't work, for the most part. We've tried that. I think what we've got to do is create the conditions, tax reform, which we could do and we haven't, incentives for manufacturing. We've lost millions of jobs in manufacturing. And say this a new day. We've got to do it. We've got to be buoyant about where we're going. We've got to grow this economy. The market grows the economy. Government -- we've grown the government, but we haven't grown the economy, and we better be mindful of that.

AMANPOUR: You're shaking your head. You know, obviously, the debate right now is about how much government intervention. Even people who don't want to see government intervene say that sometimes that's what a government has to do in an emergency.

REICH: Look, Christiane, I really -- I deeply respect the senator and the senator's position, but it's just sheer logic. When consumers and private-sector investors are pulling in because there is not enough economic activity, because consumers are scared, because consumers are 70 percent of the economy, then government has got to fill the gap. I mean, we've done this for the last 75 years.

KARL: But look what we've tried. I mean, look what the administration's tried. We've done $800-plus billion in economic stimulus. We've done tax cuts, the big, you know, tax cuts passed in December. And the Fed has kept interest rates at virtually nothing.

REICH: Yes, but there's...

KARL: And there aren't many tools left.

REICH: Look it, the scale of the crisis was much larger than anybody anticipated. This was the worst since the Great Depression. Exempt the first $20,000 of income from payroll taxes for the next year. Redo the bankruptcy code so people can declare bankruptcy on their primary residence and, therefore, have enormous bargaining leverage with their lenders if they are trouble. Have a WPA, a direct employment program.

KARL: But do you really think a new spending plan is going to pass muster in Congress? I mean...


AMANPOUR: It won't politically, will it?

SHELBY: First of all, no -- I don't believe any new stimulus is going to pass in Congress. I don't think it has any credibility. We have seen what the past stimulus did, for the most part. What we need to do is create some certainty, some conditions for people to invest, to grow, to have some confidence. There's not a lot of confidence in the economy right now all over America.

AMANPOUR: Can I just talk about this idea of jobs, which is the all-important one? You just heard Donna Brazile and Peggy Noonan arguing about whether there had been economic growth and whether jobs were being created. And Donna was saying for the last 15 months there has been. And I asked Austan Goolsbee on this program last week about the jobless recovery that some economists are talking about, and he got very angry. This is what he said.


GOOLSBEE: It is not a jobless recovery. That is an incorrect phrase. After the last recession, in this comparable period, post-recession, we had lost 100,000 jobs. We've added more than 2 million jobs. There's a major difference between a jobless recovery and a very deep hole that we're climbing our way out of. And that is what -- the position we're in.


AMANPOUR: Deep hole? Jobless recovery? Is he right? They have added jobs.

REICH: Look, 2 million jobs have been added, Christiane, but so many jobs have been lost that we still have 13.5 million Americans without work and another million who are too discouraged even to look for work. This is not business as usual. The president has got to come up with a jobs plan. Even if it doesn't get through a Republican Congress, he's going to be fighting for it and fighting for Americans. You can't go into an election year with this kind of unemployment...

AMANPOUR: Are you surprised that he's not...

REICH: ... and not have something substantial.

AMANPOUR: ... more sort of passionate on -- out in public about this?

REICH: I tell you, I am surprised about the silence coming out of Washington, deafening silence. Republicans talk about, again, with due respect, Senator, I mean, the same, old, cut taxes on the corporations. Corporations have $1.9 trillion dollars they are sitting on right now that they are not spending.

AMANPOUR: Why is that? Why are they not spending? This is something that...


SHELBY: People -- people are not spending because they're concerned, they're scared, whether they're a small medium-sized business or whether it's an individual. They see the real numbers out there, not numbers that people are hyping on either side of the aisle, but the real numbers.

They see anemic growth. And they see maybe problems in the future for their children. So that's why they're not spending and why -- and, also, a lot of uncertainty in America. There's a lot of money that's been on the sidelines right now that could have been invested, but we need certainty for investment. We need regulations that we know that are going to be there, or fewer of them. And we need a tax policy that means something.

KARL: I mean, a lot of uncertainty is coming from Congress and from the White House. I mean, there's uncertainty about, are we going to default on our debt? Where's the debt ceiling coming (ph)? There's all-consuming right now. There's uncertainty about taxes. Are the tax cuts going to be renewed? Or are we going to have to see tax increases to pay for all this debt? There's even uncertainty on the health care bill. I mean, is the Supreme Court going to overturn it?

REICH: Yes, there is that uncertainty. But, look it, the deficit fight, the deficit is important over the long term. But, right now, the issue is not the deficit. The issue is not the debt ceiling. The issue is jobs. And they're not the same.

Senator, what's wrong, if I may ask, what's wrong with a new WPA program or a Civilian Conservation Corps for the 6 million unemployed who've been unemployed for more than six months? Why not put them to work?

SHELBY: Well, first of all, I think we should do that, but we should do -- work it in the private sector. WPA did not bring us out of the depression. The war did. We look back at the stimulus, nearly a trillion dollars gone down the drain. We've got to create the conditions of certainty to get people to have confidence to create jobs.

AMANPOUR: Can I ask you...

REICH: But the war brought us out of the Great Depression because of that spending; 120 percent of the national economy was spending.

AMANPOUR: You've also got an issue, obviously, that those who are producing and manufacturing are doing so not necessarily having to hire more workers because of the increasing technologization of the workforce. A, is that going to be structural problem going forward? And, B, is this 8 percent or 9 percent the new normal of unemployment in this country?

REICH: Christiane, there is a deeper structural problem. Even if you did all of the necessary stimulus, and spending, and had an exemption program for the first $20,000 of income from the payroll tax, did the WPA, you still have a deep structural issue, and that is, when so much of the nation's income and wealth now go to the top 1 percent, the vast middle class doesn't have enough purchasing power to keep the economy going. And we can't rely only on exports.

Now, that's going to take time to do something about. I hope Republicans are as concerned about inequality of income as some of the rest of us. But we're not going to get it by lowering tax -- marginal taxes on the rich. We have to do the opposite.

SHELBY: We're talking about real income tax reform to give people incentives to create jobs and give them confidence to create jobs. But if you look at history, it's the free markets that's going to create and turn this economy around. The government stimulus will never turn the economy around.

KARL: Well, there's a political reality on the tax reform, which is -- you know it's not going to happen before the next election. I mean, the White House -- you know, what I'm hearing is we will see a white paper come out with this plan for corporate tax reform, lowering rates, cutting loopholes, reducing loopholes. But, you know, even the people most enthusiastically pushing this say there's just no way in this political environment it gets down.

AMANPOUR: All right. I'm afraid that's the last word.

SHELBY: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: We'll continue this conversation, because it is number one on America's agenda.

And up next, the Sunday funnies. And we discuss women, politics and power in the era of men behaving badly.


AMANPOUR: And now, the Sunday funnies.


FALLON: It's been a crazy few days. First, Weiner admitted that he tweeted out that photo of his crotch and John Edwards was indicted for covering up an affair, or as Arnold Schwarzenegger put it, "Thank you, God. This is the best week ever."

FERGUSON: It is a great day for America, but it is not a great day for New York Congressman Anthony Weiner. These are the kind of days you live for, when you have a job like me. It's like when Cheney shot his lawyer in the face. That was like, "Oh, yeah!"

LENO: President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner have agreed to play a round of golf together. Oh, please. Imagine two them at the end of that golf game? Boehner will be crying over his score, and Obama will be giving three explanations as to why his score is actually better than it appears.


AMANPOUR: And up next, sex, power and politics, and one intriguing question: If women ran the show, what would they do?


AMANPOUR: The country watched transfixed this week as disgraced Congressman Anthony Weiner finally confessed to some pretty sleazy behavior. In politics these days, it's an all-too-familiar story. Here's ABC's John Donvan.


DONVAN (voice-over): What can he say, really, at a moment like this that hasn't been said before? Because you put together the words of Clinton and Hart and Gingrich and Sanford and Edwards and Arnold and Spitzer and Lee and Vitter and Ensign, and on and on, and the congressman really had the whole transgression, accusation, negation, concession, confession script written out for him in advance, from caught to mea culpa, from round one, denial, when he said...

WEINER: My system was hacked. I was pranked.

DONVAN: Was he not invoking this?

CLINTON: I did not have sexual relations with that woman.

DONVAN: Or this?

EDWARDS: The story is false. It's completely untrue and ridiculous.

DONVAN: Or this?

SCHWARZENEGGER: I realize that it is campaign trickery, and it is dirty campaigning.

DONVAN: And when he did fess up, finally, with tears...

WEINER: I'm deeply sorry for the pain this has caused my wife, Huma, and our family.

DONVAN: Had we not seen that before, too?

SANFORD: I hurt you all. I hurt my wife. I hurt my boys.

DONVAN: Of course, the "wife by your side" factor shapes what you say. Wife by side...

SPITZER: I apologize first and, most importantly, to my family.

DONVAN: Wife not by his side.

GINGRICH: I have made mistakes in my life.

DONVAN: And this wife, in an earlier chapter, actually went out there alone.

SHRIVER: You can listen to all the negativity and you can listen to people who have never met Arnold, or you can listen to me.

DONVAN: Though in the end, of course, only last month, he was out there alone.

SCHWARZENEGGER: We both love each other very much. We're taking one day at a time.

DONVAN: Now, maybe if some of these guys hadn't been so quick to judge the transgressions of others...

CRAIG: It's a bad buy, Bill Clinton. You're a naughty boy.

DONVAN: ... maybe it wouldn't always have to end like this.

CRAIG: It is with sadness and deep regret that I announce that it is my intent to resign from the Senate.

DONVAN: And, in fact, it doesn't always end careers if you can pull off the hail Mary "I messed up" bad speech, which roughly goes like this.

HART: I've made some mistakes. I've said so.

ENSIGN: This is how dangerous the feeling of power and adulation can be.

WEINER: This is a weakness, a deep weakness that I have demonstrated. And...

CLINTON: I must put it right. And I am prepared to do whatever it takes to do so.

DONVAN: When you consider the fact that he's running for president, he's got a TV show, he was re-elected, he is an elder statesman, there may well be second acts to those men who find the right words. You wonder, of course, would women politicians get the same second chance? But then they don't seem to get in this sort of hot water, do they?

I'm John Donvan for "This Week" in Washington.


AMANPOUR: And, no, they don't. You'd be hard-pressed to find a sex scandal involving a female politician these days, which begs the question, what if there were more women in politics and in positions of power? Would they change the way business is done from Wall Street to Washington and beyond?

We decided to explore that issue this morning with Torie Clarke, the former assistant secretary of defense for public affairs in the Bush administration, with Cecilia Attias, the former first lady of France who was married to president Nicolas Sarkozy, and she is the founder of Cecilia Attias Foundation for Women, and ABC's Claire Shipman, author of "Womenomics: Write Your Own Rules For Success."

So this is a great moment to discuss something that we always try to discuss. What would parity mean? We're not trying to say that if it was all women and not men the world would be different. We're trying to understand, would there be a difference in attitude, in behavior, in results?

So let me start with you. You think this might be actually a good moment for women, this scandal?

CLARKE: I do. In politics, in the public sector, often women are seen as more honest, more sincere, those -- harder-working, all of which I think is true, so this may be an opportunity for more women to step into those positions. But I'm thinking -- you know, yes, we want parity in so many ways. Where we don't want parity is that when they get to those positions and they get the power and adulation that Senator Ensign was talking about, we don't want them to behave in the same way. So I want parity of a certain kind, and I'm very hopeful that women do achieve more of these positions, they're not going to engage in the same kind of behavior.

AMANPOUR: It is interesting you say that, because there has been a study done in the Netherlands about power and suggesting, by polling, you know, perhaps women might behave that way if there were as many of them in power. But I want to ask you because you've written a book specifically about this, and there is a lot of research that talks about what the effect on society is of more women in various areas of power.

SHIPMAN: It's interesting, Christiane, because one woman I've really been watching is Christine Lagarde, the French finance minister, who may soon be the head of the IMF. And she has been talking about this for a number of years. She's been sounding the alarm about the perils of too much testosterone in a room.

And it's true. What you find -- there are half-a-dozen major studies that show the more women you have at a company, the more senior women, the more money it makes. There are studies -- there was a recent study that was done from 2000 to 2009 about women hedge fund managers. They doubled the rate of success of their hedge funds compared to male-managed hedge funds. And they manage this way. They don't manage -- the hedge funds don't go up and down.

There's also an economist at the University of Michigan who has studied diversity and decision-making and has found that, in every business decision, diversity leads to better decisions. In other words, a group of all white men are not going to reach the best decisions.

AMANPOUR: Well, you mentioned Christine Lagarde. Before I get to you, I just want to put up a sound, because I did actually interview her a few months ago, and I actually asked her about this very notion. I said, does it make a difference? You are a woman. You've been in positions of power. Does it make a difference, being a woman in a position of power? And she said yes. And here's why.


LAGARDE: We inject less libido, less testosterone.

AMANPOUR: Less libido?

LAGARDE: Yes, we don't necessarily project our egos into cutting a deal. I honestly believe that there is a majority of women in such positions that approach power, decision-making processes, and other people in the business relationship in a slightly different manner.


AMANPOUR: Her point was, there's no sort of zero-sum game when it comes to negotiations.

ATTIAS: But to raise that point, don't you think we have, first, to go back to the grassroots? To get the women to those positions, we just have to facilitate their life before. I mean, when you are...

AMANPOUR: Make it easier for them?

ATTIAS: Of course. You have -- when you're a woman, you have three lives. You're a woman, you're a mother, you're a worker. OK, so we have to try to help them to be able to get to those positions. And that's why I think we have to take the problem at the very beginning, at the very start.

AMANPOUR: Precisely.

ATTIAS: Yes, if not, if you have some kids and you want to have the kids, you have to -- I mean, it has to be easier for you to get back to work afterwards. So we have to go, first, the first step. That means make life easy for women and then to be able to get to those responsibilities and...


AMANPOUR: Which a lot of the foundations are trying to do. But let me ask you, Cecilia, you were the first lady of France. And it's obviously -- as we've seen and we know -- and I've traveled there a lot -- a country with very different attitudes about sex and politics and what's private and what's not. And we've seen the issue of Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

I want to ask you, after the first shock of that in France, have attitudes there -- are they starting to change? You know, the French were very angry, as you know, about him being walked in public, him with the handcuffs. But women now are beginning to say, hang on a second, this is giving us a chance to speak out against this kind of thing.

ATTIAS: I don't think it's Dominique Strauss-Kahn case that changes it, the mentality in France. That change -- for us, we are not used to see people in court. We're not allowed to have pictures, videos, or whatever, images of court. OK? So that was very shocking for French people.

What has been changed today is that, of course, there is as much women -- you know that we have a low a few years ago, but of the parity. The parity laws, that means as much women of -- and men in the government. Alain Juppe, who was prime minister at that time, of what we call the Juppete (ph). That means half-women, half-men in his government. It didn't work. It didn't work, why? Because we were choosing the women because she was a female, not because she was good.

So I think the mentality has to change. And, I mean, the world is half-women, half-men. And the government has to be the reflect of the world. And, I mean, the CEOs -- when you think in the Fortune 500, there is only 15 women.

AMANPOUR: Right, and down from what it was.

ATTIAS: Absolutely. So the mentality is changing now, because you have -- I mean, the instant news, so you know instantly what's going on in the world. So -- and the laws have to protect the women.

AMANPOUR: Right. Now, I'm fascinated by what you are saying about how it's not just about parity and equality for the sake of it, but it means economic success.

SHIPMAN: And this is why, you know, we all laughed a little bit when we heard Christine Lagarde talk about libido, testosterone. This is real. I mean, they have done studies now -- Cambridge University did a fascinating study about the fact that bond traders, when they were making risky decisions, had higher levels of testosterone.

There's something about a group of men and testosterone, you know, making risky decisions that's very real. Governments around the world recognize this. There's a reason why Norway mandates 40 percent of board members need to be women. England is moving in that direction. France has just done that. There's a real...

AMANPOUR: Board -- boards on top companies.

SHIPMAN: Boards, corporate boards. I mean, there's a real sense that we need a balance in decision-making.

CLARKE: Don't you think, in a very practical sense, very often I know -- I've got two boys. Very often, men will compete for the sake of competition. It almost doesn't even matter what happens. And you can see guys within a company competing with one another all the time, often to see who can get to the top of the food chain, versus women more often will say, "I'm going to get in there and let's get this done." And you go from first person singular to the plural.

AMANPOUR: So an analyst, in fact, a researcher has said that the short hand of this is that women run for office to do something and men run for office to be somebody.

CLARKE: Absolutely. I think that is absolutely right. And you just listen to different members of Congress and how they talk. Very often -- and I've studied this, because I'm always studying the information aspects of this -- the female members of Congress (inaudible) this is what we're trying to get done. This is where we want to be five years from now versus a male member of Congress -- and you can track this -- will say, "Here's what I want to do."

AMANPOUR: If we travel aboard and go to Africa, one of the things that stunned me is Rwanda, obviously, had that terrible genocide some 16 years ago, and since then has been resurgent basically on the backs of the women. Half or more of the parliament is women. More than half of Kagame's cabinet is women. And in every indicator -- health, economics, everything -- they're doing better than the rest of their area.

CLARKE: And this is where I think the information age can be extraordinarily helpful. Whereas 10, 15, 20 years ago it was easy to ignore there weren't enough women in the boardroom or it was easy to ignore bad behavior or turn a blind eye to it. In the information age now, nothing is hidden, absolutely nothing is hidden.

AMANPOUR: And, Cecilia, in societies they say that the health of the community and the country you can measure by the health of the women, whether it's real health or financial health.

ATTIAS: Yeah, absolutely. But I want to add something to what you were saying. In Africa, it's like that, but look at Spain. Spain, half of the government is women. In Spain, I mean, in all levels, you have women. But if you see domestic violence in Spain, it's one woman dying every three days of domestic violence. So there is...

AMANPOUR: So it's about the laws probably, right?

ATTIAS: Yes, it's about the laws. So I think we have to really think about those laws that protect women, and then they will be able to achieve.

SHIPMAN: But don't you have a sense, also, that I think that this -- I thought that what Peggy said was so true. This does feel, in some sense to me, like the last gasp of something, these last five or six months, with example after example. Your question you asked at the beginning, would women in power do the same thing? No. We might have other problems, if we were, you know, lawmakers...


CLARKE: ... wouldn't have the time, because we're too busy doing all this...


ATTIAS: But don't you think it has been that for centuries? Don't you think it was -- look, Felix Faure, our French president in 1899, died in the arms of his mistress. Don't you think it's a problem...


AMANPOUR: You've watched your own husband on the campaign trail and how women approached him.

ATTIAS: Absolutely. I mean, they're very much attracted by power. And so women giving their phone numbers to him, even if I was just next to him. I mean, don't you think it's a problem that -- I mean, it's for centuries.

SHIPMAN: I do...


ATTIAS: Now we know about it.

SHIPMAN: What's interesting, too, is that -- how do men feel about women in power? The opposite, by the way. They don't like powerful women. So I don't think women -- but I also think there's just less tolerance now. Women -- we're running companies in large masses. We don't have a lot of seats in Congress. But we are there in the middle, and we're there in upper management, and the power we have is masses of women now means this is not tolerated. I just think we're in a different era.

ATTIAS: I think we really have to -- I mean, they have to accept who we are and to accept our behavior. I mean, we're doing a session in my foundation in the New York forum next week. And, I mean, we had so much trouble to find men CEO accepting to talk about that. I mean, it was such an issue.

AMANPOUR: And this is a conversation that can go on and on.

ATTIAS: I know.

AMANPOUR: And when we come back, a turning point at the Pentagon and in America's nearly 10-year war in Afghanistan. We know that troops will soon be coming home, but just how many? This week, the debate heats up.


AMANPOUR: And now to the war in Afghanistan. We know this much. President Obama will soon reduce the number of American troops there. But just how many? It's the subject of fierce debate in Washington, where Democratic leaders want to withdraw more troops than the Pentagon recommends. And it is, of course, a matter of deep concern on the front lines of the war zone.

Martha Raddatz recently traveled to Afghanistan and filed this report.


RADDATZ (voice-over): The calls from politicians and pundits in Washington for a substantial and rapid drawdown of U.S. forces echo only faintly in the rugged mountains of eastern Afghanistan. Soldiers and Marines from top generals and to front-line troops worry that much work remains to be done here.

RODRIGUEZ: I think in certain selective areas that, you know, we'll be here for a while.

RADDATZ: Lieutenant General David Rodriguez is just completing a tour, running the day-to-day operations of the war. He says American troops will be required for quite some time.

RODRIGUEZ: I can see people here past 2014. So it will take a while for the Afghans to really build the capacity enough that they can do it on themselves.

RADDATZ: We recently visited a small outpost in the Peche Valley that had been under mortar fire just before our arrival. We were with Major General John Campbell on his last battlefield tour along the treacherous border with Pakistan.

(on-screen): In all the mood, how do you convince people that you should keep going here?

CAMPBELL: Well, I'd tell them to take a look at the progress we've had over the last year. I tell them to take a look at we haven't had another 9/11 since we've had forces on the ground here. I think that's key. It takes time with this counterinsurgency fight.

RADDATZ: The counterinsurgency efforts may, indeed, be working here. There's lots of progress to be seen. But counterinsurgency takes lots of troops, lots of time, and lots of money.

VOLESKY: With men like you, Afghanistan has nothing but a great future.

RADDATZ (voice-over): Recently promoted to brigadier general, Gary Volesky was in Iraq during some of the worst fighting there. That insurgency was eventually tamed and security turned over to local forces and essential government. He says the same needs to happen here.

VOLESKY: What we have to do is partner closely with our Afghan counterparts and get them more capable and pull that government to the people and build that institution. And I see it happening every day.

RADDATZ: The soldiers in the trenches are eager to go home, but they, too, think there's more to be accomplished. Three local schoolchildren were wounded in the recent mortar attack here.

DE LA ROCHE: We need to stay for them, because a lot of those kids that grow up, we want to give them an opportunity to live without fear for -- just walking to school, for example, and that can change a country.

RADDATZ: And at the other end of the chain of command, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who is stepping down soon, assured NATO allies on Friday that the U.S. is in no hurry to make major cuts in combat forces.

GATES: I can tell you there will be no rush to the exits. The vast majority of the surge forces that arrived over the past two years will remain through the summer fighting season.


AMANPOUR: And Martha Raddatz joins me now.

Martha, we know that the top levels of the military are comfortable with somewhere around 5,000 to 10,000 leaving this summer, but the White House, Capitol Hill, Democrats, they want a lot more. How is this going to play out?

RADDATZ: Well, I think you'll see us going back to 2009, when the debate was about, how do you fight this war? Is counterinsurgency the best strategy? As I said in the piece, it's very expensive. It takes a long time.

Just last November, General David Petraeus said we're really at the beginning of the timetable for a successful counterinsurgency, which is 9 to 10 years. The American public does not have the patience for leaving huge numbers...

AMANPOUR: And top administration officials don't -- I mean, the vice president doesn't want that. The national security adviser...

RADDATZ: Senator John Kerry -- there is going to be a lot of pushback on this and a lot of debate. And you've president Barack Obama, who just decided to go in and kill Osama bin Laden, he is far more seasoned in the national security arena, so I think you can see a lot heavier pushback to the military.

Obviously, the military wants to stay. They want to see this through. They're there on the ground. They're losing buddies every day. But I do think you'll see a bit of a clash here.

AMANPOUR: Let's go again to Secretary Gates, who issued a very uncharacteristically blunt warning to the NATO alliance...

RADDATZ: Yes, he did.

AMANPOUR: ... historic alliance between the United States of America and Europe, saying that if they didn't pull their weight, this whole thing was going to collapse. Let's just run a little bit of what he said to the Europeans.


GATES: The blunt reality is that there will be dwindling appetite and patience in the United States Congress and in the American body politic writ large to expend increasingly precious funds on behalf of nations that are apparently unwilling to devote the necessary resources or make the necessary changes to be serious and capable partners in their own defense.


AMANPOUR: So, Martha, obviously we all know the United States does much of the heavy lifting in NATO. But here's the question. How can Secretary Gates expect the Europeans to be serious about Libya, which he didn't want to go into and which they're pulling all their weight, even about Afghanistan, when they can see the United States wants to get out? I mean, how does he make that argument now, when the U.S. is showing that it wants out?

RADDATZ: Well, I think the argument is we're in together, we're out together. If the U.S. starts gradually pulling down, he wants the allies to start gradually pulling down. Unfortunately, these statements were made as he's going out the door. There's been pretty much dead silence from the allies about this speech, so we'll have to see whether it really has an effect.

AMANPOUR: Martha, thank you so much.

RADDATZ: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: And we'll be right back with "In Memoriam."


AMANPOUR: And now, "In Memoriam." We remember all of those who died in war this week. The Pentagon released the names of 18 soldiers and Marines killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

We'll be right back.