ABC This Week: We discuss Nixon, Iraq and Terrorism

On ABC This Week with George Stephanopoulos, with Martha Raddatz filling in, our journalist panel discussed the U.S. military intervention in Iraq, the advance of terrorism and the 40th anniversary of President Nixon’s resignation. My panel included: LZ Granderson, Matthew Dowd, Cokie Roberts.

The “This Week” powerhouse roundtable reflects on President Richard Nixon’s downfall.
The “This Week” powerhouse roundtable on President Obama’s response to the crisis in Iraq.

Today on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” ABC News’ Matthew Dowd and Cokie Roberts, ESPN’s LZ Granderson, and journalist and author Sharyl Attkisson discuss all the week’s politics.

A rush transcript of “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” airing on Sunday morning, August 10, 2014 on ABC News is below. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated. All excerpts must be attributed to ABC News “This Week with George Stephanopoulos”
Jonathan Greenberger is the Executive Producer and Robin Sproul is the Executive in Charge. The program airs Sundays on the ABC Television Network (check local listings). Visit the “This Week” website to read more about the show at:


The roundtable is here now. ESPN’s LZ Granderson who is also a CNN contributor; Sharyl Attkisson, investigative journalist and author of the new book Stonewalled; ABC’s political analyst Matthew Dowd; and Cokie Roberts. Welcome to you all.

And Matt, let me start with you. The Baltimore solution, it’s not an easy thing to implement. Do you think it gets to the root of the problem?

MATTHEW DOWD, ABC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, having grown up in Detroit with 10 brothers and sisters, my mom always said nothing good happens after 10:00 at night, so don’t be out anyway. And that was 40 years ago.

I worry about this. Obviously the parents and everybody wants to protect their children in the midst of violence and violent crime in these cities, but I worry about we’ve tended now towards a much more militarized police force. It’s not only now they have more rules, more ability to pick up, more ability to frisk, all of those things, but we also now are empowering them with the tools that we only used to use for the military — trucks, guns, all those sorts of things. And to me is this is a responsibility of parents, obviously, which we’re not necessarily dealing with it. I worry about giving too much power to the police force.

RADDATZ: And LZ, does it really say stop and frisk anybody? Are you worried that it goes to that?

LZ GRANDERSON, ESPN: Well, absolutely. I don’t understand how in country in which we’ve seen vigilantes running around enforcing their own laws shooting unarmed black people — we just saw the NYPD choke hold a man to death in New York — how you can pass this curfew suggesting that it’s OK for police officers to stop someone who may look young and ask for their ID and think nothing bad is going to happen.

ROBERTS: Oh, but come on. They do look young because they are young. And it’s very interesting, the people who are for this curfew are the moms. The moms are absolutely for it, because they want their kids to be safe. And if — you know, if the streets were in this kind of situation in my neighborhood, the National Guard would be there.

So I just think that it is giving them — the moms in unsafe situations the ability to try to keepÉ

RADDATZ: But Sharyl, can you make the moms more responsible, and the dads I’ll throw in there?

SHARYL ATTKISSON, JOURNALIST : I think it’s a tough situation, which I tend to defer to local community to work out.

As a parent, I would have a problem with the curfew. I kind of liken it to truancy. I was in Tampa some years back when they would pick up kids off the street that looked young, they looked like they should be in school and they didn’t criminalize them, they returned them to the parents or to a supervised setting. If it’s something like that and it works for them, great. If it doesn’t work for them, I think it’s up for them to figure that out.

RADDATZ: LZ, I want to turn — we’re going to be all over the place here, because there’s so much happening. But I want to turn to the NCAA decisions and what effect do you think this will really have — the O’Bannon certainly. Is amateurism dead?

GRANDERSON: Well, if there is a gender (inaudible) right now I think that would the main peg that just got removed, right, and the whole thing is going to come tumbling down.

The fact of the matter is, is that sports — sports journalists have been clamoring about what they see is the immorality of the NCAA for years. And now there’s — there’s now law, it’s now a decision that’s been brought down by a judge now that gives sports even more ammo. And as the media presses more, eventually you’re going to find a congressman or congresswoman who is going to want to take this issue up on the Hill, because they’re trying to get reelected or they need something to get behind. And it’s going to really force the NCAA’s hand.

RADDATZ: And then quickly, I want to just ask quickly because we’ve got to move on and we’re going to talk about Nixon in a minute, I want you talk about that. Tony Stewart, there was a very tragic accident, the racecar driver, he killed another driver after the car spun out. And he’s going to be back driving 12 hours later in NASCAR.

GRANDERSON: If NASCAR wants to have a good look, it would not allow that man to get back on the road. Not to say that what happened he did on purpose, but it just is not good optics for your sport.


I do want to turn to Richard Nixon. Forty years ago, Richard Nixon resigned. Cokie Roberts, hard to believe. You were already a reporter at the time.

ROBERTS: Well, you know, it’s interesting. Actually I — we had covered all the Watergate, the lead-up to the resignation, for the actual resignation I was living in Athens, Greece. My husband and I were reporters there. And watching that from afar was really quite something.

But what it did teach us in a very important way was the tremendous strength of the American system. And I remember a congressman coming afterwards and saying you know the commander-in-chief of the United States armed forces was forced to leave office and not one soldier left his barracks to defend him. And of course it never occurred to us that something like that would happen, but it was very important lesson.

DOWD: To me — first of all, the reason I’m in politics is because of that — I was 12-years-oldÉ

RADDATZ: And probably a reason Sharyl is an investigative reporter.

DOWD: I was fascinated by it. I watched the hearings when I was in vacation in Michigan. I loved it.

I think that we’re still dealing with the aftermath of that 40 years later. We now are — we lost a sense of leadership. We don’t trust leadership. We moved from skepticism, which I think is very good, to cynicism. And much of that movement in our country and our political leadership happened in the midst of Watergate.

I think the advancement of journalism, the transparency that was created at the time was great. But we’ve also lost a sense of idealism in our political leadership in Washington that we’re still dealing with.

RADDATZ: Sharyl.

ATTKISSON: I think that we’ve gone backwards since that time when we really felt empowered as journalists. And I like to think as what would happen today during a Nixon type scandal, Nixon would basically refuse to turn over tapes to congress, his aides would refuse to testify to congress or would take the fifth or would lie to congress with fair amount of impunity. Woodward and Bernstein will be controversialized on social media by special and political interests.

RADDATZ: Well, this is all very depressing–

ATTKISSON: — Facebook accounts. And then at the end, Nixon would go on a popular late night comedy show during which time he would humorously refer to his attackers as people that were political witch hunters who believe in Area 51 type conspiracies.

RADDATZ: Well, I am going to just hope that people like you will keep pounding investigative journalists and get something done.

LZ, final thought on Richard Nixon’s resignation. You weren’t born, but–

GRANDERSON: Actually, I was 5.

RADDATZ: OK. OK. Barely.

GRANDERSON: I was alive. Barely, but I was around.

You know, the thing that I find fascinating is that we’re still focusing on Watergate, which unfortunately overshadows all the wonderful things that he was able to do especially on foreign policy. He created the EPA, you know, which I’m sure Republicans now hate, but the fact of the matter is that was a good thing particularly at that time.

And as we’re having a conversation about legalization of marijuana, he started the war on drugs. He was the one that put marijuana in the subject one characterization that marijuana now has. And as we’re debating whether or not it should be legalized, it all goes back to Nixon.

RADDATZ: OK. And we’ll go back to foreign policy, because coming up next military action in Iraq, how will it impact the legacy of the president who ended the war?



BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don’t think we’re going to solve this problem in weeks, if that’s what you mean. I think this is going to take some time.


RADDATZ: That was President Obama yesterday, talking about military action in Iraq before heading to Martha’s Vineyard for a working vacation.

And we’re back now with the roundtable.

Matt Dowd, I was struck by something Peter Break — Baker wrote in “The New York Times” this week, that “Obama becomes the fourth president in a row to order military action in that graveyard of American ambition.”

DOWD: Well, to me, this is — the decisions that have been made on previous presidencies, especially the presidency which I served with, President Bush, in 2002 and 2003 and our entree into Iraq, we’re going to — not only is President Obama going to be dealing with, but the next president is going to be dealing with it.

This what — this is, to my view, if you broaden this, this is exactly what happens.

We have a humanitarian crisis. We have a global crisis. It’s when we don’t align moral objectives with long-term strategic goals.

It’s the paradox of presidential leadership where you have to not only be — have idealism, but realism.

And we’ve had presidents in a row that basically had idealistic ideas. President Bush was very idealistic. But he — he approached the global stage in the aftermath of this unrealistically.

And I think President Obama was dealt a bad hand but has played it badly. When we have a presidential foreign policy that is not strategic, it’s ad-hoc.

And it’s an inept president on a global stage and we’re the last superpower?

It doesn’t work.

ROBERTS: Well, we’re not acting like a superpower, that’s the problem. And so that, you know, I — I agree with Hillary Clinton, as you quoted her earlier, saying well, if we had gotten into Syria when the rebels were begging us to come in and saying here we are, trying to secure our freedom, where is America, then you wouldn’t have had this group filling the vacuum.

RADDATZ: The president was very defensive about not getting a status of forces agreement, not having troops remain. And he basically said, oh, if they were there, they would just be…

ROBERTS: Right. Run over.

RADDATZ: — more targets.


RADDATZ: But isn’t the reason we did not know that ISIS was…


RADDATZ: — making such a rapid advance is because we didn’t…

ROBERTS: That’s right.

RADDATZ: — have people on the ground.

ROBERTS: Absolutely.

RADDATZ: They’re not there to just walk around and show their guns.

ATTKISSON: And I would argue it may be time for someone to develop, in the United States, a policy that’s bigger than going from country to country and treating them like they’re small paradigms that are independent of one another.

What is our global, or if not global, regional strategy?

Is it to contain terrorism, al Qaeda and Islamic fundamentalists?

Is it to beat it back to different areas?

And how are we going to accomplish that?

We don’t have that strategy.

We’ve never developed it.

And there are people inside the government who believe we ought to have such a thing.




RADDATZ: LZ, I’m going to — I’m going to go to you as a person who doesn’t cover foreign policy, but as a person who’s watched…


RADDATZ: — and has seen what happened — has happened this week and over the years in Iraq.

What do you think?

GRANDERSON: I think the more we have this conversation and the more that we don’t say two words — religion and oil, the further away we get from the real problem.

I think part of the reason why we don’t have the same sort of influence in the Middle East than we all think that we should have is because we’re making so many decisions not based upon real humanitarian effort, but because it’s in the best interests of America.

And what’s the best interests of America?

Oil. We don’t talk about that enough. And I think that’s what the American people…


ROBERTS: Because that’s become much less…


DOWD: To me, this is what happens when — in the history of our country, when done well, foreign policy done well, is we don’t get overly involved in regional conflicts. We use regional conflicts — our involvement in regional conflicts is temporary, not permanent, and we do it in a sa — in a strategic sense.

The whole involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan and the wars that are involved have not been either strategic…


DOWD: — and they’ve not been temporary.

RADDATZ: A one word answer — does this consume the president for the rest of his term?

ROBERTS: Yes, I think so.




RADDATZ: OK, thank you.


RADDATZ: Thanks, everyone.

And next, a personal note about U.S. troops in Iraq after this from our ABC stations.


RADDATZ: It has been nearly three years since the U.S. pulled its troops out of Iraq and President Obama declared the war over. I was with U.S. soldiers on the last U.S. convoy out of Iraq on that December day in 2011, after covering the war since the beginning.

And I was with the U.S. commander on the last helicopter out of U.S. military heada — headquarters after the Americans officially handed it over to the Iraqis.


RADDATZ (voice-over): It was a somewhat somber day — no celebrations, just a simple ceremony at U.S. military headquarters’ Camp Victory, clearly named prematurely. But on that day, there was nothing but pride and hope for the future.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your sacrifice has helped the Iraqi people begin a new chapter full of hope for prosperity and peace.

RADDATZ: Deanie Dempsey, wife of the current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, cried talking to me that day. It was the first time she had seen this country where her husband, son and daughter had all served.

DEANIE DEMPSEY, WIFE OF JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN MARTIN DEMPSEY: It’s pretty amazing. What the American culture has done to help this country is nothing short of miraculous.

RADDATZ: We flew above Baghdad after the ceremony with the last commanding general of U.S. forces in Iraq, General Lloyd Austin, pointing out his old headquarters and how different the city looked from 2003, after the initial shock and awe invasion.

(on camera): The sight of Baghdad.


RADDATZ (voice-over): And I was with our soldiers for the final ride out of the country, with a memory of those who did not make it home, those 4,487 Americans who gave their lives in this war, was still fresh.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There’s a lot of soldiers that made the ultimate sacrifice in that unit. And when we cross in today, you know, like we’re finishing up for them.

RADDATZ: But as dawn broke and we crossed into Kuwait, there was great relief that the war was behind them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We made it! Whewww! Whewww!

RADDATZ: And yet, I look back on what I said that day and what many others were feeling, that the relief might only be temporary.

(on camera): The war is not over for the Iraqis. Iraq remains a very dangerous place and there is a huge threat of sectarian violence and also al Qaeda coming back in.

(voice-over): Because war never goes the way you expect it will go, even when you say it’s over.


RADDATZ: In fact, General Austin, who I said good-bye to Baghdad with from that helicopter, now heads Central Command and is overseeing the air drops and the air strikes.

And now we honor our fellow Americans who serve and sacrifice.


RADDATZ (voice-over): This week, a two star general, Harold Greene, joined the ranks of thousands who have given their lives.


RADDATZ: That’s all for us today.

Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us.

Check out “WORLD NEWS WITH DAVID MUIR” tonight.

Have a great day.

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