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Shields and Brooks - NewsHour with Jim Lehrer - PBS Podcast by Jim Lehrer

Shields and Brooks - NewsHour with Jim Lehrer - PBS Podcast

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Catch the most recent appearances by NewsHour political analysts syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

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Shields and Brooks on the danger of our ideological divide

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Oct 21, 2016


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JUDY WOODRUFF: But, first, for the second time this week, we get the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That is syndicated columnist Mark Shields, and New York Times columnist David Brooks, who’s joining us tonight from Houston.

And it’s so exciting. We get to see you twice this week.


JUDY WOODRUFF: The first time, Mark, of course was after Wednesday night’s debate, the final debate between these presidential candidates. What has changed since then?

MARK SHIELDS: I think the third debate, Judy, I think there was an awareness Donald Trump is not an unintelligent man. And he understood, I think, two things after the debates, A, that Hillary Clinton had beaten him in three debates.

She was better prepared. She outflanked him tactically. She got him to go for the bait on things like choked when meeting with the president of Mexico. And also there has to be the understanding that this was — because he was trailing, has been trailing in the polls, this was the last great chance where two campaigns collide, they’re on the same stage, he could challenge, change the terms of the debate. He didn’t.

And he, I think, almost as a consolation, has tried to divert the debate that he’s losing to a discussion, I mean, a reckless and dangerous discussion, about the legitimacy of the American elections, something that’s never been challenged before by any major party candidate.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Where do you see things right now, David?

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I do think there is an acceptance, I don’t know if in Donald Trump’s brain, but certainly in the Republican Party, about the fact that he’s going to lose, or the likelihood that he’s going to lose.

And the question becomes, how do people react to that? Two weeks ago, I was in Idaho, and I ran into a guy who said, well, obviously Trump is going to win because everybody I know is voting for him. And I tried to persuade — argue with this guy, well, if you look at the polls, he is actually not leading.

And this guy just wouldn’t accept that. That was not part of his lived reality. And you got the sense a guy like that, if Trump does lose, will be very angry and disbelieving and may be sensitive to the idea that the election was rigged.

Yesterday, I was in Mississippi. And there, there was a quietude, a passivity. I don’t know all the stages of grief, but acceptance is one of them. And there was a level of acceptance in a lot of the folks I spoke to there. I suspect that the latter group is the larger part and that, even if he does protest the election in some way, there will be some acceptance that he lost fair and square.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark, how much fallout is there over Trump’s unwillingness to say that he will accept the results of the election, whatever they are?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, I think, first of all, Judy, it puts other Republican candidates in a terrible position.

I mean, you have noticed the parade, the cavalcade of Republicans attesting to their belief in the ballot box, the belief in legitimacy and validity of American elections. Republicans are on the ballot on November 8. They’re going to win or lose by 100 votes or 200 votes in some cases. Do they want the legitimacy of that election tested?

So, I think, in that sense — but just enlarging upon what David — the point David made, it’s not restricted to the Trump people who don’t believe. There are Democrats who don’t believe that — there is a cleavage and a divide in this country like I have never seen before.

If you’re on the other side from me, you’re not simply wrong or ill-informed or mistaken. We don’t share the same country, the same values. You may not be the same kind of an American I am.

I think it’s really dangerous and it’s an enormous challenge for the next president.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, David, you’re seeing that out there on the trail, if you will, where you have been traveling around the country.

I want to ask you, though, about Trump’s continued, I don’t know — how do you describe the state he’s in? He goes to the Al Smith Dinner in New York City last night. This gets a lot of coverage today, where he — instead of doing the sort of self-deprecating jokes that people traditionally do, he really continues to go hard after Hillary Clinton.

Does it matter at this point that he’s still angry?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, angry is what he does.

I have to say, I read all the coverage, expecting to be appalled by his speech and cheered by Clinton’s. I thought they were both pretty bad. I thought they were both a little too harsh.

His was worse, but hers wasn’t funny or particularly well-delivered. So, it’s going to be a dreary couple of years of comedy acts, no matter who is elected.

I do think that his attacks, the line that she hates Catholics, is just tone-deaf and it’s just inner bitterness that is coming to the surface in unattractive ways. And I do think, starting with the — not only starting, but continuing with the claim that he won’t accept the — automatically the results of the election does fundamentally undermine the etiquette we have built up in our society.

Our system is not only based on rules, but a series of self-restraints that we won’t be as barbaric as we could be in competing for power because we know if we’re all barbaric as we could be, the whole country and the whole society falls apart.

And my critique with conservatives who say, well, I really hate the guy, but I need to vote for him because of the Supreme Court, the problem is that the moral foundation of the society, the way we interact with each other is more fundamental than the Supreme Court.

And if that gets polluted and that gets destroyed by somebody who’s just brutalistic and savage, then it doesn’t matter who’s on the Supreme Court because we have lost our country. And so I think their argument that the Supreme Court is worth it is basically the wrong argument when he’s behaving this way.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Pick up on that, Mark.


No, the Al Smith Dinner, first of all, it’s a marvelous occasion. It’s really where people, candidates do come. And, Judy, you have covered enough campaigns. One of the first things every press secretary assures you is, the boss has a wonderful sense of humor, because not to have a sense of humor is considered flagrantly un-American.

And I remember George W. Bush at that dinner in 2000 standing up and saying, look at this audience, designer dresses and white tie and tails, the haves and the have-mores. Some people call you the elite. I call you my base.

So, he was laughing at himself that he was the candidate of the well-off or whatever else. And I think Trump just missed this completely. But I agree with David that there was too much of an edge even in Clinton’s remarks. But Trump just missed the whole thing, and it was — it’s a tone-deafness that’s — it’s unsettling.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let’s talk a little bit, Mark and David, about what Hillary Clinton is saying out on the trail.

She isn’t hitting as many campaign stops as he is, but, David, we see today she is talking to voters about — she is saying things like, think about the future of the country. What sort of future do you want, what sort of country do you want? She said at one point, you live your life. I will do the worrying.

Does it sound like she’s already winding this thing down?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, there is a lot of let’s go for the landslide talk out of the Democratic Party, which a normal — the normal rules of campaigning, that’s a no-no.

You want your people to come out. You don’t want them to think, oh, we got this one in the bag. And so they may be trying to run up the score just to renounce the whole idea of the Trump idea. I get that.

But it’s come out in the WikiLeaks. And it’s been evident. And Mark and I have been talking about it at each debate. It’s not clear to people outside the campaign and even, as we learned from WikiLeaks, inside the campaign, what the core passion is.

What are — the core, animating thing that she would go to the mat for? And I still think that’s true. And in her rallies this week, it’s still evident that she doesn’t have a core rally, except for denying Donald Trump — a core passion, except denying Donald Trump the presidency.

I hope she finishes with something, because, in the likelihood that she wins, something to coast off of to sort of give herself a sense of priorities for the next few months and then the first 100 days.

JUDY WOODRUFF: You know, Mark, that’s a critique that you and David have been making for some time.

MARK SHIELDS: Repetitively.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Competitively. You have been making it repetitively, competitively.

MARK SHIELDS: I have anyway. David makes it freshly.


JUDY WOODRUFF: But some version of it, you both have been critical of her for not having a theme to her campaign.

Do you just at this point assume we’re not going to hear it, or…

MARK SHIELDS: Yes, I don’t think it’s there. I don’t think the lift of a driving dream or whatever, the Obama lift, the Reagan lift, I just don’t — I don’t think it’s there.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Stronger together doesn’t…

MARK SHIELDS: Stronger together is, I think, a preposition and a comparative adjective, but it’s not really an action verb or what it is.

I do think it makes sense for the Democrats to — that Trump has done a favor for them as far as turnout, because there isn’t that kind of enthusiasm and passion for her candidacy. And by his question of legitimacy, the idea that your vote does count, that it does matter, because, if it’s close, he’s going to raise questions about it.

So I think, in a strange way, he’s become the turnout agent for Democratic voting on November 8 by his questioning of the legitimacy and saying he’s going to challenge whether — the constitutionality of the vote. So I think, in that sense, it works.

But I don’t think we’re going to get that — not going to take us to the top of the mountain.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, is he doing her that favor?


JUDY WOODRUFF: Go ahead. Go ahead, David.

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I would say I ran into a guy in Louisiana, in New Orleans, because I’m going to the fun places, too.

And he said he was going to vote for neither of the candidates, just because he was so appalled, until that Trump reference to not respecting the election results. And then he decided to go for Clinton, because he said, listen, this guy’s got to lose badly. We have got to at least defend that principle.

And so I do think that what he said sort of over — did overshadow everything he said in the debate and will drive up some of Clinton’s margins potentially.

JUDY WOODRUFF: There is so much talk in this country about how divided the country is still going to be, Mark, after this election.

Is there anything these candidates can do, either the candidates at the top of the ticket, Paul Ryan, or any of the other candidates can do to begin to address that, or do you just wait until the election is over and hope it works out?

MARK SHIELDS: You hope that there will be a sense of resolution.

I think Democrats ought to be concerned, Judy, that the party, in this election, has become almost prideful about the college-educated vote that it’s getting, the support that Hillary Clinton is getting against Donald Trump.

And, understandably, white working-class voters or working-class voters have felt abandoned, have felt, in many senses, disparaged by the political leadership of the country. And they have been the core historically of the Democratic Party, whether it’s Norma Rae or Joe Hill or the great stories of fighting for the underdog.

And I think the Democrats, I would hope that Hillary Clinton and the Democratic leadership wouldn’t be quite as smug about saying, oh, we have got the college-educated, aren’t we something, and understand that the anger and the sense of outrage and hurt that these people are feeling, many of whom are supporting Donald Trump, is legitimate and real.

And they feel abandoned by the Democratic Party, by Washington and certainly hurt by Wall Street.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, David, no matter what the outcome, the Democrats are due for some soul-searching, along with the Republicans?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, everybody.

I mean, I certainly hear a lot of people say that Trump not only incited some bad things. He also exposed some things. He exposed pain in the country that a lot of us didn’t have the full extent of, some of the divisions and chasms in the country.

And so that’s been an education which Donald Trump has given us, to his credit. And, secondly — and maybe it’s just what people say to me, but I hear a lot of desire for a snap-back, that we have had so much vulgarity, so much throwing away of any standards of decency, that there has been a lot of people coming forward and say, no, let’s — on matters of how we talk to each other, on matters how we respect each other and relate to each other, let’s not only stop doing this, let’s snap back and address the problems that we have all been suffering under during this election campaign.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Wouldn’t that be a welcome thing?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, David, the coarsening of the culture didn’t begin with Donald Trump. He’s accelerated it, but it did not — we have coarsened our country over the last generation.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark Shields, David Brooks, thank you both.

The post Shields and Brooks on the danger of our ideological divide appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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Shields and Brooks on Trump assault allegations, Clinton leaked email insights

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Oct 14, 2016


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JUDY WOODRUFF: And with that, we turn to the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and “New York Times” columnist David Brooks.

Welcome, gentlemen.

Well, what a week. And it keeps coming. David, these allegations against Donald Trump, some of them we can’t even describe in full here on this program. He said — they’re very graphic, he says they didn’t happen, these are all lies.

Is this just more of the same or have we reached a new low?

DAVID BROOKS, The New York Times: I guess we’ve always reached a new low, Judy, every Friday. So, we’re on a weekly basis. His case would be better if he hadn’t bragged about doing exactly what he’s alleged to have done.

And so, you know, when you get five or six of these people coming out, some of whom said things contemporaneously, I don’t know if it’s dispositive, but it’s kind compelling. And the fact that we’re talking about a major presidential candidate behaving this way in 2016, it’s kind of astounding. And the fact that the guy is still walking and the guy has a lot of support among a lot of decent people, I don’t know what the word s. And so, you just — just gobsmacked, British would say, surprised out of your wits end that we’re here.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Gobsmacked, Mark?

MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist: I’ve never been gobsmacked, but I know David — David has been — I just have to say, Judy, it amazes me that anybody with anything approaching this background, the tape alone would run for president. I mean, given —

JUDY WOODRUFF: You mean the “Access Hollywood” tape.

MARK SHIELDS: Yes, the “Access Hollywood”. I mean, irrespective of these charges, charges are quite serious, but I mean, I had one Republican reminded me today, well, how did Dennis Hastert accept the speakership with that in his background? So — but I don’t know what point you start to think that you’re invisible or just bulletproof.

And that — I have to say that the singular impressive moment of the week to me was Michelle Obama. It was — because she took it out of a — sort of a “men should be ashamed” or whatever, into a — and women are victims — into a very I thought human terms and spoke about the pain and the outrage that she felt.

And if you are talking about somebody as unassailable critic, she is, A, the most popular political figure in the country. She is the best known mother and mother two of daughters, wife, professional woman and happens to be African American. But I just thought authentic in the air that’s been synthetic in so many respects, and we hear about campaigns and what’s going on. I just thought that was an authentic moment, I thought it was a defining in this campaign.

DAVID BROOKS: And sign of national malaise that we’re all dragged into because of the conversation we have to have. And I will say —

JUDY WOODRUFF: That we have to talk about.

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, and I will say one other thing, you know, oppo research gets a bad name. You shouldn’t go after your opponent, you shouldn’t go dig them up, but if Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush or John Kasich have decent oppo research, and had unearthed this in the primary, it would have spared the country a lot of turmoil. And their own party, a lot of self destruction.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, you think they should have been doing this.

DAVID BROOKS: Well, things should come up. They had a lot of candidates in that race, once Republicans had a lot of decent choices, they could have looked away from Trump to somebody they could have stomached and it would have been fine. But now, and you watch a lot of Republicans who just feel — you feel like they’re lock in.

And then you feel other Republicans in morally incoherent state. Last week, a couple of senators calling for Trump to step down, and he didn’t step down. And now, they’re saying, we’ll vote for him, which is morally incoherent. If you want them step down, you can’t vote for the guy to be president of the United States.

And then you have a lot of people saying, I’ll just play it cool. I’ll just be with him. I’ll be good Republican, and then when he goes away, I’ll just be fine.

That is not the case. This is not like supporting Barry Goldwater in 1964. This is like supporting Joe McCarthy and you will not be fine. And a lot of the people are just hanging around on the fence or alienating both sides by being somewhere in the middle will not be recovering so easily, I do not think.

JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you explain their calculus?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, I think — I think the people who switch last weekend after the “Access Hollywood” tape, are ones who are in the most trouble politically. I think it was politically —

JUDY WOODRUFF: You mean because they waited?

MARK SHIELDS: First of all, if I’m a Trump supporter, loyal supporter this is hour of maximum peril. And these are the people who picked up the knife and plunged it into his back when he was really hurting, I won’t forget that as a Trump supporter. If I’m one of the people like Mitt Romney or Ben Sasse of Nebraska who early on said this man is unacceptable, I have a legitimate question and say, wait a minute, what was it that finally tipped it? I mean, you know, it wasn’t the judge, it wasn’t libeling Mexican immigrants, it wasn’t libeling prisoners of war and their courage or whatever else? I mean, nothing else he did, libeling women throughout e, but this did it because he became politically radioactive at that point?

So, I think — I think in that sense, I’ve already seen it in a poll, congressional poll where Republican member who had changed, two to one margin, constituents in a post-weekend poll, regarded it as act of opportunism rather than political courage. So, I think David’s categories are right. It is a difficult thing to do, but if in fact he loses and they lose the Congress, Republicans lose the Congress, and I think that’s the key, if that happens, then association with him will have been regarded as a permanent stain. Not standing up to him and calling him for what he has done.

DAVID BROOKS: This is sort of psychological question, what happens, say he loses what happens the next day? Is there all the Trumpians saying, no, we were robbed, we are robbed, we are sticking with our man, we’re going into some sort of revolt? Or is it, like, I was a loser and I’m putting that behind me.

My intuition about the psychology is the latter is more likely. That people are just going to throw Trump to history, and then lot of the sense that mass revolt, this is not legitimate, this is not legitimate, I don’t think that’s likely to happen.

MARK SHIELDS: Could I just a little dissent there?


MARK SHIELDS: I think reaction is, Judy, whether the Republicans see themselves as congressional party or presidential party. If Donald Trump loses badly, OK, and Republicans lose the Congress, lose the Senate, lose the House, which is for this first week people are talking about, Republicans are even talking about it. If that were to happen they say, in 2018 we’ll come back because the natural sequence of things, Republicans then return to majority.

This is what Democrats went through, 1980, 1984, 1988, the Democratic presidential candidates won total of 17 states in three presidential elections cumulatively. But they kept the Congress. So, insulated the congressional party they said just the candidates’ fault. If the Republicans, you know, take a whipping across the board, we’re doing something wrong, not just the presidential level but the congressional level, then I think you’ll see the soul-searching.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But I want to ask you both about what happens to the country. I know we’re still 3 1/2 weeks away. But what happens to the country after this election, David? I mean, there are people at Trump — Trump himself is saying, this thing is rigged, it could be stolen. People are booing the press. They cheer him on when he says the country, there’s a big conspiracy.

How do you put anything together? I already hear from people saying how is the country going to be put together after this?

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I will say Hillary Clinton wins, there are two scenarios. One, that there’s such a vicious hatred that nothing going to happen. But I happen to think she was mediocre secretary of state, but I thought she was an excellent senator and very good at working around the aisle. McCain, Lindsey Graham, John Barrasso, she was good.

And so, I see possibility whatever is happening out there in the country, I think there will be a — people may check out for a little while because they will be so exhausted, so down, including a lot of Trump people. That she may have an opportunity, at least elite level to be effective in some way if she picks issues that sensible Republicans can sign on to.

And they’re going to want to put a window — or a curtain between what just happened and what they are going forward. So, you could paint an optimistic scenario. So, I’m clinging to that against all odds.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But Trump voters are going to want to listen to her, Mark, if she were elected?

MARK SHIELDS: You know, what’s going to — I think David’s point is a good, Judy. I don’t know. I hope so. I hope that’s the case, I think it comes down — I mean, Hillary Clinton highest moment in public life was in the United States Senate. I mean, she was good at it.

She made 130 trips to New York on first 18 months. She went to subcommittee meetings. She insisted on sharing the spotlight. She turned down the Sunday — I mean, she was really good. She recognized that this was a collaborative, collegial. And you know, we hope that that — will be some response to that.

You know, I think it comes down to the — it comes down to how she does it. I think it comes down to some degree how President Obama handles the transition.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we are — I don’t want to jump in too much, but we still have days to go before this election is over.

MARK SHIELDS: Yes, we do.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But we’re taking about Hillary Clinton, another — David, another WikiLeaks dump this week from what apparently the Russians hacked from the Democrats, from Hillary Clinton’s own campaign manager, John Podesta. Is there anything consequential there that we’re seeing in these day after day of e-mail dumps?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, I was shocked to how boring it was. Usually, if you’re in the height of campaign, they are setting up private e-mails, ripping into so-and-so.


DAVID BROOKS: Exactly. There is some stuff like the Catholic — lot of people who are Catholic think there’s — become Catholic, they don’t want to become evangelicals. They’re living in cities so they become Catholics. Catholics are systematic thinkers. You would say it’s like — it’s not like something horrible.

You know, they’re saying like Bill de Blasio, the mayor of New York, is kind of annoying and overbearing and Governor Richardson from New Mexico can be a bad guy or sort of pain in the rear.

But by the standard of what I expected, to get the inside of a campaign, it’s pretty mild. I think Clinton people should be lot more imaginative.


MARK SHIELDS: I think, Judy, if there weren’t what’s going on with Donald Trump’s campaign, I think it would be a big story. I think it’s hard to make the case reading those e-mails that Hillary Clinton is a candidate of change. She’s very much an establishment candidate. She’s a status quo candidate.

The open borders, open trade, the hemisphere would have been — would have sent some signals and shock waves. But — and there’s a certain moral arrogance I think, especially on the — looking down their nose at Catholics and Evangelicals. I think that comes through.

The thing about John Podesta, ten years of his e-mails, he’s incredibly discrete. I mean, that’s one of the reasons he’d be able to survive, but no candidate comes through to vote Hillary Clinton on her inability to apologize, it’s been a problem. She has not effectively, believably apologized for the e-mail, the personal e-mail server to this moment.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And there was a draft that was leaked of the speech that she might have given where she would have been a little bit more direct but she didn’t give that version. We’re still sorting it out.

DAVID BROOKS: And the key point, which is why Trump is still in the race, it does indeed make her look like very pinion of the establishment which happens to be true. So, there are lot of people who are supporting Donald Trump not because they like sexual abuse but they just think the country needs some big, big change, that she’s not, they’re willing to swallow a lot, it turns out.

JUDY WOODRUFF: David Brooks, Mark Shields, we’ll see you next week. Thank you.

And tune in next Wednesday at 9:00 p.m. for our coverage of the final presidential debate. Mark and David will be with us.

And in the meantime, you can watch all the presidential and vice presidential debates dating back to 1960. Pull up a chair and that’s at our new website, watchthedebates.org.

LLOYD BENTSEN, Former Vice Presidential Candidate: Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.

GERALDINE FERRARO, Former Vice Presidential Candidate: I almost resent, Vice President Bush, you’re patronizing.

MITT ROMNEY, Former Presidential Candidate: Whole binders full of women.

MICHAEL DUKAKIS, Former Vice Presidential Candidate: I have proposed death penalty during all of my life.

ANNOUNCER: Interact with all the general election debates on our website watchthedebates.org.

The post Shields and Brooks on Trump assault allegations, Clinton leaked email insights appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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Shields and Gerson on the 2005 Trump tape, Russian hacking and the upcoming debate

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Oct 07, 2016


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JUDY WOODRUFF: It’s also the moment we turn to the analysis of Shields and Gerson. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson. David Brooks is away.

Gentlemen, welcome.

So, there was a lot of news that we learned about late this afternoon that has to do with this campaign.

But, Mark, I do want to start quickly with a question about Georgia. The very fact — and you heard to some of the voters we talked to — the very fact that a state that Mitt Romney won by eight points four years ago, where it’s close — I mean, it’s still uphill for Hillary Clinton, but it’s close because of what we talked about.


No, it is. Defined — the interviews defined the enthusiasm gap. It isn’t just on one side. It’s on both sides. There’s minimal excitement. And, for Hillary Clinton, I think what came through in your piece is, it’s not a question of the percentage of the African-American vote, in addition trying to get 30 percent of the white vote, but it’s numbers.

She could get high percentages, but if you don’t get numbers in the turnout — but the hope, obviously, is that Georgia can move eventually, if not this time, into the category of Virginia, North Carolina, states that have changed, Colorado and Nevada.



I think that the Republican fear is exactly the Virginia example. When Barack Obama won it in his first term, it was the first time Virginia had gone Democratic since 1964.

MARK SHIELDS: That’s right.

MICHAEL GERSON: And now it’s not even close. It’s because — Hillary Clinton is ahead by about eight points in Virginia.

The state has gotten more diverse, more Hispanics and Asians, more college-educated people. It’s gone in a certain direction that I think Republicans fear for a couple of these states that region.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, as we said at the outset, there’s been a blizzard of news late this afternoon, Mark, starting with the Obama administration naming Russia, saying high officials in Russia were behind these hacks against the Democratic Party and other Democratic figures.

Then you had WikiLeaks coming out soon after with information about John Podesta, who is Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, and some e-mailed exchanges over nuclear energy, and then the Washington Post story, which I think I want to start with that, essentially releasing the audiotape — and you heard it in John Yang’s report — showing — videotape showing Donald Trump’s lewd remarks about women about 10 years ago.

MARK SHIELDS: Judy, let’s get one thing straight. This is not locker room talk. This is not a preteen, adolescent finding dirty words.

This is a 60-year-old man being obscene, obscene toward — in discussing women, boasting, bragging in the worst and most offensive way.

And I just think the political implications are profound. Senator Kelly Ayotte, Republican in New Hampshire, has said she would vote for Donald Trump, but will not endorse him. In a debate this past week, she was asked, do you consider Donald Trump to be an appropriate role model for the children of New Hampshire? “Absolutely” was the end of her answer, was immediately pounced on. She apologized. Cut a spot.

Every Republican candidate in the country who is in a competitive race is going to be asked in the next week, whether in a debate or where else, by opponents or by the press, do you consider Donald Trump to be an appropriate role model for the children of our state?

And it just — as far as the women’s vote you just reported on in Georgia, it makes it so, not simply difficult. It makes it almost impossible for somebody with self-respect, who has a mother or sister or a daughter, you know, somebody like this in Abraham Lincoln’s chair.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Michael, how do you assess this?

MICHAEL GERSON: Well, I think the problem here is not just bad language, but predatory language, abusive language…


MICHAEL GERSON: … demeaning language.

That indicates something about someone’s character that is disturbing, frankly, disturbing in a case like this. And I think evangelicals have a particular problem right now. I mean, they are the people who argued, many of whom, leaders, argued that character counts during the Bill Clinton years.

And now character apparently doesn’t count at all. So, I think there’s a deep tension here.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And Trump’s response was to say, well, Bill Clinton has used far worse language than you heard here on the golf course, he said.

MARK SHIELDS: Yes. That’s a hell of a defense. And the other thing he said was just more disparaging remarks he made earlier that it was just entertaining or amusing.

But Michael makes a central point here. The Republicans have, with some pride — George W. Bush won the White House by promising to restore dignity to the Oval Office. And they were or presented themselves as the family — the party of family values.

It is impossible to say that today about the Republican standard-bearer in any way. And I just have to say that we’re forgetting moral values. We’re just — we’re talking about the Supreme Court. Character doesn’t count. The only thing that counts is the Supreme Court, apparently.

MICHAEL GERSON: And there will be a question on Sunday night, certainly.

There are women in the audience who are going to be asking questions during the debate. There will be a question saying, why should I support this disgusting boor?

JUDY WOODRUFF: Yes, we’re told — we learned today this is a group of uncommitted voters in the Saint Louis area who have been put together by the Gallup Organization.

But, Michael, turning to the other — one of the other stories of this afternoon, the administration announcing after four months of saying they weren’t ready to say whether it was Russia officially behind these hacks — they’re now saying it was Russian — top Russian officials who were hacking the Democratic National Committee.


This has all the appearance of a foreign power trying to undermine structures of legitimacy of an American election. That is a serious matter.

I would — if I were the media, I would be wary of using anything that came out of these document dumps which serves the purpose of a foreign power. But, at the very least, Americans have to discount this. This is an attempt to hijack and change American democracy by a foreign power. It can’t be accepted.

MARK SHIELDS: Yes, I mean, I agree.

The presidential option of economic sanctions are on the table and, you know, what the retaliation will take. But I would say it’s the end of the reset with China. That’s for certain. And the conclusion, the statement that only…

JUDY WOODRUFF: Reset with Russia.

MARK SHIELDS: With Russia. Excuse me.


MARK SHIELDS: Only — only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized, said the director of intelligence and the Homeland Security Department. This is pretty profoundly serious.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And seemingly hand in hand, or at least the timing is — may be more than coincidental. WikiLeaks released the John Podesta e-mails. So, he’s, of course, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman. He’s run his own lobbying firm in Washington for a number of years. And we haven’t really seen much of that yet, but it’s supposed to be having to do with nuclear energy and…


No, it’s — New York Times had a big story last year, front-page story, about the sale of that uranium company that was authorized by the United States government to Russia, with Russia controlling it. And the allegations are that there were contributions made to the Clinton Foundation which were kept from the Obama White House.

Now, whether in fact that’s confirmed, that’s pretty serious. That’s going to cause some real tensions, understandably, if that’s the case, within the Democratic family.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And I’m sure reporters are going to continue to pore over this.


JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Michael, we have got — we do have the second presidential debate coming up Sunday night in Saint Louis.


JUDY WOODRUFF: It is a different format.

Is one or the other — we have talked about all the news that may or may not be asked about. But does this format benefit one or the other of these two people?


This is a format that doesn’t reward aggression. It rewards empathy, explanation. Those are not Trump strong points. He has not done a run-through, a full run-through of this, according to his own campaign, in private.

He had an event in New Hampshire last night which was supposed to be like a — this sort of event, and he did terribly. It is quite possible that he will have a second miserable performance.

And I don’t think that will make Republicans denounce him broadly. It will mean just that the balloon is out of Republican morale completely. And they will start looking at 2020, knowing that they don’t have a competent candidate.

JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you see this debate?


MARK SHIELDS: Half the questions will be from the audience…

JUDY WOODRUFF: Moderators.

MARK SHIELDS: … and half from the moderator, and from people.

The problem with these debates like this is that you can’t really prepare for them, because the questions are so individual and personal or even idiosyncratic.

Now, it does — Secretary Clinton has a lot richer and deeper experience in doing these, obviously, than Donald Trump.

But the people at home, you can’t — I can’t attack you, Michael, if we’re doing a town meeting or a town format. You have to answer the question that is asked.

And what people at home are gauging, Judy, is, how does this candidate respond to the questioner? Do they show respect to the questioner? Do they try to understand why the questioner is asking that? Do they respond to the question?

That is really what — I mean, is there empathy? Is there a human connection between the two? It’s where Barack Obama beat Mitt Romney in 2012. He lost the voters on who was a stronger leader, who had a vision for the future, but on who cares about people like me, he trounced Mitt Romney. And I think that will be a gauge of this Sunday night.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, it sort of faded into the back of the news today, Michael, but it was just three or four nights ago that we had the vice presidential debate between Mike Pence and Tim Kaine. A lot of conversation about that in the day or so after it, but did that have a lingering effect on this election of any kind?

MICHAEL GERSON: Very marginal temporary moral boost for Republicans, who were looking for any good news after a pretty disastrous week.

But when you analyze it, Mike Pence could only defend Donald Trump in some circumstances by projecting an image of himself, as though he were — that Trump held his views on Russia or his views on Syria. And that’s really not true. So, it was a weird way to defend the person at the top of your ticket. And I think that was noticed.

MARK SHIELDS: It’s a good point.

I thought Mike Pence, upon reflection to me, came across a little bit like your favorite aunt who refuses, in spite of first-person evidence that grandpa has been drunk and disorderly in public, that, says, no, no, grandpa would never do that, even though grandpa is being taken off in handcuffs.


MARK SHIELDS: I mean, Donald would never say those things about our good neighbors to the south.

MICHAEL GERSON: When he did.

MARK SHIELDS: Yes. Donald would never say that about our good co-religious Muslim friends.

And I think the Democrats did a terrible disservice, the Clinton campaign did, to Tim Kaine. Tim Kaine had the earned reputation of being one of the most respected and well-liked, and not cheap partisan members of the United States Senate. And they turned him into an attack dog.


MARK SHIELDS: He didn’t come across authentic. It wasn’t good. And it was — it just really — I think, for short-term benefit, I think they tarnished the brand, which is an awfully good brand.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Last thing I want to ask you two about very quickly is the Libertarian candidate for president, Gary Johnson.

He — if this is a close election, Michael and Mark, he could — his — whatever he gets could make a difference. We have seen him this week talking more about foreign policy and saying he — it’s OK not to have an opinion about it.

Just in 10 seconds, how much of a factor is he?

MICHAEL GERSON: Marginally hurts Hillary Clinton, but probably not a big factor.

MARK SHIELDS: Less today than he did last week, and perhaps less tomorrow than he did today.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark Shields, Michael Gerson, we thank you both.

And we hope you will be sure to join us right here on this Sunday for special live coverage of that presidential debate. It starts at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

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What Pence and Kaine need to do in their only VP face-off

Author: PBS NewsHour
Tue, Oct 04, 2016


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GWEN IFILL: For more on tonight’s debate, we’re joined now by syndicated columnist Mark Shields, Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report, and Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson.

Hey, Amy, did you notice something I just noticed with Donna Brazile, which is, when she was asked about something that Bill Clinton said, which is widely interpreted to be a gaffe, she responded by saying Tim Kaine will respond that tonight?

AMY WALTER: Tim Kaine can help clean that up.


AMY WALTER: Cleanup in aisle six.


AMY WALTER: Bring Tim Kaine over there.

Look, both of these candidates were brought on, Tim Kaine and Mike Pence, were brought on to be stabilizers for Hillary Clinton and Donald for Trump, for different reasons, for Donald Trump, literally a stabilizer, in that both his personality and his ability to talk to that core conservative base that Matt Schlapp was talking about, so to make them feel better.

And Tim Kaine was there to sort of stabilize the Hillary Clinton — not expand her base, but hold on to a lot of her base, and also to prove to be a very different kind of candidate without the baggage that Hillary Clinton comes with.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark Shields, how do you see the mission of these two men at — the second man on the ticket in both cases tonight?

MARK SHIELDS: Obviously, as said earlier, not to make any mistakes, but most of all, Mike Pence has a tougher task.

He does — stop the bleeding or however you want to put it. It’s been a terrible week for the Trump campaign ever since the first debate. He’s been assigned the task of being the explainer-in-chief. He’s had to clean up in the past after Mr. and Mrs. Khan. He said, we honor Gold Star parents. I mean, he said that to a partisan crowd.

He’s time and again had to sort of right the wrongs. And I think that is his — to try the change the narrative as much as he can.

Tim Kaine, it’s interesting. The happiest I have ever seen Hillary Clinton in any public setting was the day that she chose Tim Kaine. She was beyond giddy. She was just happy. And she had somebody she could totally depend upon as a partner. And I think it was the best decision of her campaign, in the sense of, you couldn’t get a Republican to say anything bad about him.

In Washington and the toxicity, to have somebody like Tim Kaine — and so I think his job, again, is going to be the explainer, or defender, or whatever, but to — I would just remind people, Tim Kaine in 2007 at Virginia Tech. And I have never seen anybody handle a public situation…

GWEN IFILL: After the shooting.

MARK SHIELDS: Just after the tragedy of 32 people being murdered by a deranged person with a gun. And I have just never seen anybody handle it better.


Michael Gerson, so, vice presidential debate, do they ever help, or are they more likely to hurt?

MICHAEL GERSON, The Washington Post: Well, it’s interesting. They’re often memorable. They’re seldom consequential, don’t really determine the outcome.


MICHAEL GERSON: And this is a strange one, though, in a certain way. These are not strange men.

It’s a strange circumstance, where the republic might be better served, and a lot of people might agree that both tickets could be flipped and actually have more appealing candidates.

GWEN IFILL: They say that about the Libertarian ticket, too.


So, that could be — that’s interesting, because it’s an indictment of sorts of the system, that our primary system has chosen two of the least popular politicians in America. But the selection, the people they selected as vice president are actually very respected in their party, knowledgeable people, so, you know, the selected candidates better than the elected candidates, maybe.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Amy, when all is said and done tonight, we don’t know what’s going to happen, does the election, does the direction of this election change after tonight?

AMY WALTER: Well, remember, in 2012, after Barack Obama’s first — after the first presidential debate, he was widely panned for having an off night. And you saw Democrats panic. And the polls started to dip.

And it was Joe Biden’s job to go in and basically reassure Republicans — I mean Democrats — reenergize Democrats, keep them — keep their chin up. That’s what Mike Pence will have to do tonight as well, is to reassure a lot of those Republicans who are worried, as well as go on the offense, something that Donald Trump didn’t do well in the first debate.

I actually think this — while it might not be consequential, I think we might see a much more aggressive debate than we’re expecting, because Mike Pence really does have to put Kaine and the Hillary Clinton campaign back on its heels. And so this may not be the nice, genteel, lovely sort of experience that people are expecting.

GWEN IFILL: Briefly, which one is better equipped to do that job, that Swiffer job, that cleanup job tonight?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, Pence has the tougher task, whether, in fact, he can do it.

It’s more immediate and urgent that he do it than Kaine do it.

MICHAEL GERSON: Yes. No, I agree with that.

I talked to some of the people that prepared Pence today. And they need to explain, because they have to respond to charges, but then not give get into the quicksand of just explaining, because that would be a loss.

JUDY WOODRUFF: We are going to be all watching closely. You will all be here with us in just about two-and-a-half-hours from now.

And we ask all of you watching, tune in at 9:00 p.m. Eastern for our special live coverage of the vice presidential debate.

And, online, you can follow along at PBS.org/NewsHour for more in-depth analysis.

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Shields and Brooks on Trump’s ‘solitariness’ and Clinton’s fight for millennials

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Sep 30, 2016


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HARI SREENIVASAN: And that brings us to the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

Gentlemen, here we are. Monday night, you were here after the debate.

And now my first question isn’t about a significant policy discrepancy. The entire news cycle has been concerned with whether or not he paid taxes and also how he is treating a beauty queen, or how he treated her and how he is still treating her.

MARK SHIELDS: You’re right, although I don’t think they’re bookends. I don’t think they’re of equal value or significance.

I think that his disdain for paying taxes and his self-identification as a smart person for not doing so reveals any absence, a total absence of civic-mindedness, citizen responsibility.

I mean, the idea of John Kennedy’s ask not what you can do for your country — ask not what your country can do you for, but what you can do for your country, is just so alien to that.

But the attack on Alicia Machado fits a pattern. I mean, this is a man who, as Tony Schwartz, who wrote “The Art of the Deal,” the ghost writer of it, and made Trump really a central figure in America with that book, wrote — he said, every time he’s criticized or caught for any of his lies, he doubles down.

And that’s exactly what he does. And usually in the pattern with Mr. and Mrs. Khan, the Gold Star parents, and with Judge Curiel, is to pick on someone who doesn’t have the resources, the stature, the voice that he does, and try to overwhelm them.

HARI SREENIVASAN: David, we’re working on a story for Sunday on kind of the impact on the Latino vote in Florida, for example.

And we even saw, since the debate, increase in search registration, searches in predominantly Latino areas, according to Google. Is this going to matter, the fact that he has called this Miss Housekeeping? Did that resonate? Did that connect?

DAVID BROOKS: If the vote can go any lower.

It might affect turnout potentially. But his support in the Latino community wasn’t super high. And his support isn’t super high. So, it may go lower. But maybe it can’t.

But to me, the crucial fact of this story — well, first, we should just step back and be aware of its bizarreness, that we are a month away from electing a president and one of our candidates is up in the middle of the night tweeting about an alleged sex tape.

MARK SHIELDS: A 70-year-old grandfather.

DAVID BROOKS: Yes. Yes. It’s just another day in paradise as far as this election goes. And so we should just continue to remind ourselves of that bizarreness.

But, to me, the significance of the tweets in the morning or in the middle of the night were the solitariness of the guy. Now, most campaigns, they’re a campaign. It’s a team. An administration is a team. And there is a front person and an ultimate insider, but it’s a team effort, and decisions are made and strategies are discussed and decisions.

But he’s alone in the middle of the night upending his whole campaign with this, I don’t, impulse-driven tweetstorm. And that to me is the most unnerving part of the whole thing, let alone the low-class nature of the thing, is that he’s unorganizationable. And it’s just — it’s been his secret of his success, but it’s hard to imagine a president acting that way.

MARK SHIELDS: Could I just add one thing to what David said? And I agree with the point he made.

The discussion on the debate on Iraq, all right, 2.8 million Americans have served in uniform many multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last 15 years; 6,890 have died, been killed. And as Donald Trump discussed that war, it was all about him.

It was about his alleged discussions, his discredited argument that, in 2002, as a real estate mogul in New York, in private, off-the-air conversations with Sean Hannity, he had opposed the war.

It turns out the war wasn’t about the United States or those who fought it or those people there in that area who suffered through it. It’s about Donald Trump. And it comes back to that. It is — a really successful presidential campaign is always about the voters. It’s about their hopes, their lives, their futures, their country.

And that’s the only chance you have to lead a country if you do win. And this is all about him.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Clinton’s campaigning today in Florida, a large Cuban American community.

And earlier this week, there was a story led by “Newsweek” and other outlets also talked about how Donald Trump had business interests that were trying to do business in Cuba. And this was during a time when there were economic sanctions, and this might be a violation of those rules.

Does that matter to that community there?

DAVID BROOKS: Yes. Well, the short answer is, I don’t know.

The second answer is that the Cuban issue, I think, has been dissolved by what’s happened over the last four years. And it hasn’t particularly hurt Barack Obama in Florida to take the position he’s taken. And so it may hurt him on some, but I have trouble believing that anybody not — the Cuban American population that is super Republican was already pretty super Republican.

To me, the violation of U.S. law with the Cuba thing is symptomatic of one thing about Donald Trump. And I’m a big fan of capitalism, but capitalism unrestrained by any moral system and any sense of moral restraint, that you’re just about money and you’re just about selfishness, is a very destructive and corrosive thing.

And so whether it’s bragging about not paying taxes or just trying to make money any way you can regardless of the law or regardless decency, or stiffing your contractors, that’s sort of — we the devolution of what capitalism can become when the human beings who do it don’t have some other moral system to go to, to sort of check selfishness. And that’s what we see.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Hillary Clinton is working hard to try to win millennial voters back from third-party candidates.

You think that perhaps the Libertarian candidate would have pulled more from Donald Trump than from her, but why is she not connecting?

MARK SHIELDS: She’s never connected. Bernie Sanders cleaned her clock among younger voters.

There is not the sense of either rebellion or inspiration or vision. I mean, you can check off all the boxes. She’s good on the issues. She’s good on student loans and so forth. But it’s an important segment. I mean, this was a key segment to — element. They represented one out of five voters, voters between the ages of 18 and 29, in 2012 for Barack Obama.

They represented more votes really in actual terms than did voters over the age of 65. And they didn’t turn out in 2014, and the Democrats got murdered in the off-year. And the over-65 represented 9 percent more than did the 18-to-29-year-olds.

So, it’s not a question simply of reaching them and converting them. It’s energizing them and getting them to the polls.

If I may just add, Gary Johnson, who got the endorsement this week of The Chicago Tribune and The Detroit News, I mean, when he couldn’t name a single — he couldn’t name the Dalai Lama or Pope Francis or Justin Trudeau or anybody that he liked or admired as a foreign leader, may well have hurt the case for normalization of marijuana.


MARK SHIELDS: He just — I think he hurt himself as a candidate — I really do — with this group and anybody else.

HARI SREENIVASAN: David, how much of this is the fact that the first-time voters perhaps don’t remember the impact that a third candidate or a party can have?

In the year 2000, these folks were maybe in elementary school.

DAVID BROOKS: It would be interesting, if the polls are super tight at the end, whether Johnson would begin to fade. I suspect that he probably would.

But she just doesn’t speak the language of millennials, not that Trump does, and he’s even worse. But one thing young people have a lot of, it’s future. And they want to feel some sense of lift and idealism about the future. And they want to be called. And just saying, oh, I will give you free college, without any sense of lift, without any sense of transformation of society, which Sanders did offer, then it’s just not speaking the language of hope and inspiration, idealism, which hopefully people of all ages respond to.

And that’s the part of a campaign that’s been lacking for her.

HARI SREENIVASAN: You mentioned the endorsements from The Chicago Tribune, but the USA Today took an unusual step.

Lots of papers are taking their steps. They’re making their case for one candidate or another. Do these endorsements matter, considering how upside-down world this cycle seems to be? Or are we just saying my Facebook feed says this, this is what I should do?

MARK SHIELDS: As an alumnus of editorial writing, of course they do. Everybody sits on the edge of their seat.

I’m not sure that people are saying, well, I want to see what The Arizona Republic said. But when you get papers like The Arizona Republic, which, in its history, has never endorsed a Democrat, The Dallas Morning News, the last Democrat endorsed was Franklin Roosevelt in 1940, the Cincinnati Enquirer was Woodrow Wilson 1916 — and I read it at the time.


MARK SHIELDS: I think it has a cumulative effect, because the theme that runs through them is not an embrace of Hillary Clinton and the Democratic platform.

It’s a rejection. I mean, it’s going on the record in just categorical terms that he’s unacceptable as a presidential candidate.

DAVID BROOKS: Yes. I would say signed columns have a big impact, but unsigned editorials…



HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, let me squeeze in one non-election-related.

This week, we saw a very strange thing from Congress. This was the first veto of President Obama’s first entire eight years, and it was about whether or not families should be able to sue Saudi Arabia, 9/11 families, and then it was overridden by Congress.

And then, the day after that, we get people getting up to that podium saying, well, we have to kind of look at this again.

MARK SHIELDS: I have been a defender of Congress for a long time.

And after they took off seven weeks and come back here to pick up clean shirts and their checks, and now, before taking six weeks off, they vote on this, and by 99-1. The next day, Mitch McConnell says, the president made me do it. You know, these are unintended ramifications. I really — he should have been stronger, like we’re puppets of the president.

Just in that sense, it was an incredible scene to watch.



DAVID BROOKS: Substantively, I do side with the administration on this.

We just can’t have a foreign policy where every individual gets to sue a foreign government and run our own foreign policy through the court system. And so Obama is right on the merits.

It’s tough to vote against the 9/11 families. But the president didn’t make them sign a bill that he opposed. And I agree with Mark on that one.

HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, David Brooks, Mark Shields, thanks so much.

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Predictions for the first debate in an unpredictable election year

Author: PBS NewsHour
Mon, Sep 26, 2016


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GWEN IFILL: We get some pre-debate analysis now with Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report, syndicated columnist Mark Shields, and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

There is so much to dig into from all of that, folks.

I want to start with you Mark Shields.

What does Hillary Clinton, what do — does Donald Trump have to accomplish tonight?

MARK SHIELDS: Hillary Clinton, at the end of the debate, what you want viewers to say, yes, she’s smart, she’s knowledgeable, but she’s not a bad egg, you know?

You want that sense of a personal identity, a reality come through to give us a peek, a view of her soul, her heart. And if the people — not a bad egg is a pretty high compliment in American politics, given the toxic atmosphere in which we currently dwell.


MARK SHIELDS: That’s what I think she’s looking for.

Donald Trump — Donald Trump defies gravity. I have no idea. I have watched these things since Hector was a pup. And I honestly — remarkable. I don’t care, Pants on Fire, four Pinocchios, it makes no difference.

And so I guess he has to be Donald Trump. It’s gotten him so far. He’s going to dance with the girl who brung him.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Amy, you have been watching almost as long as Hector.


AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: Yes, I was at the Lincoln-Douglas debates. Were not televised.


JUDY WOODRUFF: What do you think they need to do?

AMY WALTER: Well, I think a lot of this depends on the terrain in which the debate is taking place.

And for Hillary Clinton, she wants it to be on — she wants to be on the offense, and that means putting him on the defense early on about the two issues that are the most problematic for him, his temperament and his judgment, right?

So if the debate is on those issues, who has the temperament to be president of the United States, who has the experience to do this job, that’s great terrain for her. If the debate is where Jack Kingston is talking about — and I think this is where Donald Trump wants to take it — about change, about shaking things up, going against the status quo, that’s a very difficult place for her to be.

And that’s where this election — like, where this election wants to go and where this election is going. Where the election wants to go, slightly more voters than not see this as an election that they want to make a change. And for Hillary Clinton to win, they have to believe that that change is much too dangerous.

GWEN IFILL: David Brooks, what if these 100 viewers tune in for a reality show tonight, get a debate instead?


DAVID BROOKS: The Earth would spin off its axis, and we would all fall out of our chairs.


DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I don’t think that’s going to happen.

I do think it is more like a reality show. It’s drama. And especially the undecided voters, you know, they’re not interested in somebody’s — the third plank of the health care plan. This is not going to be Plato’s symposium, not that it’s been that so far.

This is not even about what they say. It’s about who they are. And we had a character debate. And they are going to have to display some character traits.

Does she seem normal? Does she seem warm? Does she seem empathetic? Does she seem one of us?

Does he seem in command? Does he seem basically stable?

These are low bars, maybe, but I do think it’s — people are — it’s a visual medium. It’s a visual confrontation between two people who sort of contemptuous of each other. How do they handle that body politic is as important as any words that actually come out of their mouths?

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, given that, Mark, how much does it matter whether Donald Trump is preparing? We keep hearing he doesn’t like to prepare, he thinks that that doesn’t really matter. And yet Hillary Clinton has been seriously preparing every day for a while.

MARK SHIELDS: I don’t know why the Clinton people keep telling us how long she’s been preparing. That really just kind of reinforces this process-driven character.

We know she knows the issues incredibly well. We know that he doesn’t know the issues incredibly well — doesn’t know the issues well. And it’s not hindered him thus far.

I agree, the temperament is a question. You do want to get under his skin. I would have Elizabeth Warren sitting in his eyesight, who obviously bothers him. And, you know, I would try and say that the Republican I admired and worked most closely with in the Senate, that Hillary Clinton did and has written, was John McCain, and I think he is a hero, unlike my opponent, who doesn’t think John McCain is a hero, to remind him, through what he has said, of the embarrassing things he’s said, the Khans, the McCain, his incitement to violence.

I think that’s — I would put him — trying to put him on the defensive.

GWEN IFILL: Well, not only that, but also there has been a lot of discussion leading up to this debate, Amy, about lies and truth and consequences.

Is that something — for instance, we just heard Jack Kingston make a comment, even talking to Judy, about 13 servers that she had. She didn’t have 13 servers, but they just slide the stuff into the conversation.

AMY WALTER: It’s devices she had vs. servers. Exactly. How does that work?

GWEN IFILL: Yes. How does that work? And does that matter to people if truth gets told or called?

AMY WALTER: Right now, Mark is totally correct. When you ask people in the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, who do you think is the more honest and trustworthy, Donald Trump wins that question.

Now, it’s not like a lot of people believe both of them — either are honest and trustworthy, but comparatively, he wins that, and especially among some of the groups that she needs to get, like white voters.

But I think the question — and you know this better than anybody, having to moderate a debate — but these candidates have both made so many contradictory statements, he more than her, over the course of this campaign.

And I think the way to start the fact-checking is not by having a crawl underneath saying, what he said was incorrect, was, you said this, you said this, you said this, and you said this. Which one of those things is your position on this issue? Rather than trying to saying, that is actually a lie. No, you’re not telling the truth.

GWEN IFILL: I see, string it all together.

AMY WALTER: String it all together.

DAVID BROOKS: Yes. I would just underline Mark’s humility about this, especially for Mark — no, for all of us.


DAVID BROOKS: He is tied. This is a tied race.

How that exists, I have no idea. And so the normal rules of Newtonian physics suggests it shouldn’t be that. So, somehow, the rules…

GWEN IFILL: In fact, Hillary Clinton said as much the other day. Why are I 50 points ahead?


DAVID BROOKS: Excellent question.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, it does depend on the poll you’re looking at. But you’re right. You’re right.

DAVID BROOKS: So, she may be ahead by two.

But this is a very close race. And why that is happening and how he’s been able to do this — so it’s very hard to predict the debate because none of the rules are applying.

The one word I would pick out is the word is cruelty. I think the time he actually has been hurt were the Khans, is, he has appeared cruel. And if he appears cruel, then I do think we will begin to see something shift here.

AMY WALTER: Can I make one point about the laws of physics?

I actually think that this is what the laws of physics at this time and place in politics suggest we should always have a two- or three-point race. What is happening in this race and the reason that it has gotten this close is that Republicans have now accepted Donald Trump.

When the race was — there was a big gap, it was because so many Republicans were staying on the sidelines. So, what this is telling us about politics in the 21st century is that we’re aligned much more by our jerseys than we are by anything else.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Mark, less than a minute.


JUDY WOODRUFF: We awake tomorrow morning, six weeks to go in this election, will things have changed?

MARK SHIELDS: They are going to say, geez, Shields, Brooks and Walter really nailed it.


MARK SHIELDS: That is what they will say.

GWEN IFILL: We will say it.

AMY WALTER: They’re already saying it.

MARK SHIELDS: That’s right. That’s what we will say.


MARK SHIELDS: No, Judy, what is confounding, and I hope will get resolved tonight, is 70 percent of Hillary Clinton’s voters believe she would be a good president.

Barely half of Donald Trump’s voters believe he would be a good president. They’re voting — the majority of whom are voting against Hillary Clinton. So, the change element that Amy addressed is so significant.

I mean, they are angry. They feel abandoned. They feel all sorts of things. And the fact that Donald Trump can’t name the NATO countries, whatever else, or the five presidents of the first half of the 20th century, make no difference to them.

So, I think it is, as David put, temperament, if he does come across as cruel, mean-spirited and a bully. I mean, don’t forget, it’s the first time a man has debated with a woman for president.

GWEN IFILL: Thank you, Mark Shields, David Brooks, Amy Walter, kind of a mega-Politics Monday.


GWEN IFILL: Join us at 9:00 p.m. Eastern for special live coverage of the debate.

And tune in online for in-depth analysis, where the “NewsHour” team will put what the candidates say in context. That’s all at PBS.org/NewsHour.

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Shields and Brooks on transparency in police shootings, first debate expectations

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Sep 23, 2016

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JUDY WOODRUFF: Now to the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

Welcome, gentlemen.


JUDY WOODRUFF: So, we turn to the lead story tonight and for the last few nights, David, two more shootings in Tulsa and Charlotte, North Carolina, by police of black men. We’re still getting the information. We know the Tulsa policewoman was charged with manslaughter.

What are we to make of this, the fact that these keep happening?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, first of all, the videos are just harrowing and have an effect on, I think, all of us and an effect on the national mood.

It’s just this is a man losing his life. This is a wife losing her husband. These are cops in the middle. And you can feel the pressure building on them as they don’t know — quite know what to do. Beyond that, we don’t really know that much.

I do think these things — these particular situations are always going to happen. And it seems to me there are two issues here, one, getting justice in the individual case or these individual cases and all the individual cases, and then, second, which is to me more serious and the more political subject, is, we do know there is tremendous racial disparities in searches, in arrests, in all sorts of police activities, maybe not in police killings.

Harvard Research shows there is not much racial disparity there, but just about in every other police activity, there are these huge racial disparities. And when we see the protests, at least the legitimate parts of the protests, that’s the problem.

And so some — I think it’s useful to separate these individual cases — and we don’t know what happened here yet — from the larger problem, which is indisputable. And finding a solution to that larger problem is really the political issue.


And can we focus on the real problem, Mark, when we have these — when feelings run high, emotions run high, understandably?

MARK SHIELDS: Yes, I’m not sure. I don’t think really we have so far, certainly. I mean, there’s — I agree with David. This is so incredible — it’s wrenching and it’s sobering.

And my own perspective on it has changed since Senator Tim Scott, the African-American Republican from South Carolina, took to the Senate floor, a card-carrying conservative, an authentic conservative man, ran as such, got elected and reelected as such, and said — spoke about his own experience of being stopped seven times by police officers for the principal offense of, as he put it, driving a new car in the wrong neighborhood, or even being stopped by Capitol Police and demanded to show his I.D.

It does give you an idea that this is a real problem understanding fully the pressures that David talked about and the risks that police officers do take.

But I guess, when I look at this, Judy, most of, I mean, I — I just think about where we are as a country. And I’m not sure at this moment.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, that’s pretty — I don’t know what one says to that.


I mean, I think, you know, as we go around the country — I was in Nashville last night. I met with some cops. I was in Chicago last week. And you find that a couple things happen. You find a lot of police forces that are actually doing better, I think, at community policing, getting integrated with the communities. San Antonio, Texas, does a fine job.

And then — but then, in say, the Chicago case, there does seem to be some evidence of a Ferguson effect, of the cops being — not wanting to be on those videos, and then pulling back. And then you get the spike in the murder rate as a result.

And so these are just super hard issues. And, on the one hand, there’s clear bias in the way African-Americans are treated. On the other hand, I used to be a police reporter. When cops are out there, even if they have a gun in their hands, they do not feel safe. They feel like they’re scared.

And so these situations are harrowing on all sides.


MARK SHIELDS: Tulsa does show, I think, the value of transparency, which we are not seeing…

JUDY WOODRUFF: They put the video out almost immediately.

MARK SHIELDS: They put it out. And it was there in the case of Terence Crutcher. And the district attorney moved quickly, and started the process of resolution.

North Carolina is — the only video we have seen so far is that of the widow. So, you know, there seems to be a lack of — or an absence so far of transparency.

DAVID BROOKS: Yes. It seems to me the arguments for not releasing the video seem weak to me. And they really should release it.


JUDY WOODRUFF: And we saw — well, the family is saying they have seen the video, and they are not saying it’s definitive, but they want it made public.

And, David, Hillary Clinton put out a statement. I guess she tweeted that the video should be made public. She’s going to Charlotte this weekend.

What do we know about these candidates at a moment? This comes in the middle of the election. We’re just a couple of days away from the debate. She’s made some sympathetic comments. Donald Trump initially made a sympathetic comment about the victim in Tulsa, but then, I guess, last night made a speech and talked about we need to support the police.


So, just politically — and this is not what I support, but what I think realistically is the effect of this. I think it helps Donald Trump. I go back to 1968. Richard Nixon was helped by riots, if you want to put it that way. And Trump’s campaign, from the convention speech on, has been really predicated on the argument that Americans are under violent threat, and that there is chaos and that our social order is being undone.

And if there’s not just the shootings, but the riots and the unrest, I think, at least for a certain segment of the population, that will undergird and support his argument, his perceptions of what America is. And I do think, if there’s any political effect of this, that air of disorder will end up helping him a little.

JUDY WOODRUFF: You agree it helps him?

MARK SHIELDS: I think it’s a pretty established principle in American politics that looting during a campaign helps the self-identified law and order candidate.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, not all the protests involve looting.

MARK SHIELDS: No. No — but when there is looting, is my point.

I think that North Carolina is a test case in many respects. North Carolina had the reputation among Southern states for being so progressive under the governorships of — particularly of Terry Sanford and Jim Hunt, exceptional national — state leaders and national leaders.

And now, since — in the last year, since the legislature and its bathroom laws and other effects, it’s seen its own reputation tarnished. It’s lost the National Basketball Association all-star game, a matter of pride in a basketball state, lost the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, which is an identifying icon of North Carolina life.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Then some voting rights controversies.

MARK SHIELDS: It’s lost — the voting rights controversy.

It’s lost jobs and business expansion. But I think this — Charlotte had the self-identified reputation of being the Atlanta, the new Atlanta, too busy to hate, and all the rest of it. And I think this is a blow. And I don’t know how it plays out politically in the national election.

I think Secretary Clinton, it’s — I’m not sure what the rewards are of going to Charlotte. There is a risk if looting followers, if there isn’t — there’s peace and tranquility, and she’s seen as a unifying figure, then that’s a positive.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But, David, we are, we said, just a couple of days, hours away from the first debate.

Let’s talk about it. What do we see, what do we feel at this moment? There are expectations. How different are they for these two candidates and what are they?


First, it’s easy to overestimate the effects of the debates. We all have 1960 in our head. But, historically, they produce maybe a one- or two-point bump. And so George Bush lost a lot of debates. A lot of losers have won a lot of debates, and it hasn’t shifted the election.

I’m very taken with an article in “The Atlantic Monthly” by James Fallows, where says, when you watch the debate, you should turn off the volume.



DAVID BROOKS: But when you — you might lose us, but — unless you just want to look at our faces.


DAVID BROOKS: But when you think of pivotal debate moments, it’s often a visual image. And that’s certainly true with Donald Trump.

What he does is, he has exercised dominance displays throughout the Republican race. And it’s really his physical nature that helped him sort of stare down Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. And a lot of the moments are — either — Al Gore sighing — they’re not the words that come out of their mouth. They’re the visual posture they display that people are evaluating.

And even though they don’t matter as much, I do think if Trump can seem normal, he will have normalized himself a little maybe for some voters.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But that’s — you’re saying that’s a lower expectation, a lower bar.

DAVID BROOKS: To seem normal, a normal human being, yes, not mentally ill, yes.

MARK SHIELDS: To return to my sports metaphor, I think, like a good basketball coach, the Clinton people have worked the referees this week. They have made the point that this is — he’s not to be held to some minimal standard, if he shows up and isn’t profane or obscene or obnoxious, that this is a debate for the presidency, that we’re measuring the qualifications of these people.

So I think, in that sense, I think it has worked. He has been put on notice.

I think she has a great advantage going in, not simply that she has debated Barack Obama five times, 90 minutes of Bernie Sanders five — he never has — he’s never gone one on one with anybody. He’s been able to choose his spots, and go in and speak in wall posters and bumper sticker slogans.

You can’t do that for 90 minutes. You can’t just talk make America great again, build a great wall. This is a — it’s a test of some substance.

She knows exactly all the policy. She just has to not try and prosecute the case. She has to try and win and tell people why she wants to be president, what difference it’s going to make in their lives, two things, not 23 things, what two differences they’re going to make, what two improvements.

So, I really think that she has an advantage. He has a great advantage, Judy, in the sense that he’s enormously comfortable with the camera, he’s enormously comfortable on stage.

And Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett’s great sidekick, had a marvelous statement. He said never underestimate a man who overestimates himself. And that’s — Donald Trump meets that definition completely.


JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you see — David, how do you see expectations for Hillary Clinton? What standard does she have to meet?

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, the coolness standard.

If she loses this election, it will be for one reason, because she loses millennials. And they’re not going to vote for Trump, but they could vote for Gary Johnson and somebody, Jill Stein. And so she has to win over millennial.

And this might be one of the few times she gets a lot of voters, at least live or later online, to actually look at her. And she has to somehow resonate with the people that Bernie Sanders and Barack Obama touched so deeply.

JUDY WOODRUFF: How does she do that?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, some of it may be college — some of it may be just the vulnerable style.

This is a generation that’s grown up with — on social media. And they’re used to a style of social communication that’s more casual. And she has not been that. Her fund-raising style is like Cher and Barbra Streisand. It’s not like — it’s really reaching the young. Her policy style is very 1960s Democrat, sort of traditional.

And she has not, either stylistically or substantively, broken in with the current issues, either stylistically, or the concerns a lot of young people have about TPP and all that kind of stuff, about the openness of trade.

And so, somehow, millennials has to be her central focus.

MARK SHIELDS: She’s running against somebody who’s substance-free, substance-free.

I mean, so I think there is a certain responsibility on filling in the empty spaces, which are large in the case of the Republican nominee.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, the two of you are going to be with us all night Monday night starting at 6:00 on “NewsHour.”

MARK SHIELDS: With the sound…



JUDY WOODRUFF: And a little bit of news here at the end.

We’re told that NBC is reporting both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will meet on Sunday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, so a little bit of foreign policy in the middle of all this.

We can’t wait to see you Monday night.

MARK SHIELDS: Thank you, Judy.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Thank you, both, Mark and David.

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Shields and Brooks on Trump’s ‘birther’ lie, Clinton’s ‘deplorables’ effect

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Sep 16, 2016


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JUDY WOODRUFF: Next, to the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

Welcome back, gentlemen.

MARK SHIELDS: Thank you, Judy.

JUDY WOODRUFF: We’re together in person. It’s good to see you.

Mark, let’s start with the birther lie. It’s the only way to describe it. Donald Trump talked about this for years. Today, he did finally say that he believes the president, President Obama, was born in the United States.

But then he turned around and said Hillary Clinton started all this. Where does this leave this story about the birther controversy?

MARK SHIELDS: I’m not absolutely sure.

But I think it’s important to establish right at the outset that he wasn’t only the loudest and the highest-profile and the most persistent and the most well-publicized birther, he, Donald Trump. He lied. He lied consistently and persistently.

And, today, without explanation or excuse, he just changed his position and tried to absolutely falsely shift the blame onto Hillary Clinton. And this was an appeal to — he debased democracy. He debased the national debate. He appealed to that which is most ignoble or least noble in all of us

And I think — I would like to put to rest right now one of the great theories of the Clinton, Bill Clinton, years. Bill Clinton was accused of being a skirt chaser, a draft dodger, trimming the truth. And we were told by all sorts of conservative religious leaders, politically conservative religious leaders, then, character, character was the dominant issue. That’s why you had to oppose Bill Clinton and support his impeachment.

We have a man running right now for president right now who’s without character. He’s AWOL. He and character are mutually exclusive. And the silence, with rare and conspicuous and admirable exceptions, with Mr. Moore of the Southern Baptists and Mr. Mohler, is — is just deafening.

We found out that character is not an issue. The Supreme Court turns out to be the defining issue.


DAVID BROOKS: Well, I agree.

What struck me was that, especially reading the comment, the statement from the Trump campaign, which we heard summarized by Trump himself earlier in the broadcast, you know, we’re always used to spin.

Usually, there’s some tangential relationship to the truth, but a corroding relationship to the truth, frankly, as politics has gone on over the years.

But now we’re in a reverse, Orwellian inversion of the truth with this. And so we have a team of staffers and then the candidate himself who have taken the normal spin and smashed all the rules.

And so we are really in Orwell land. We are in “1984.” And it’s interesting that an authoritarian personality type comes in at the same time with a complete disrespect for even tangential relationship to the truth that words are unmoored.

And so I do think this statement sort of shocked me with the purification of a lot of terrible trends that have been happening. And so what’s white is black, and what is up is down, what is down is up. And that really is something new in politics.

And the fact that there is no penalty for it, apparently — he’s doing fantastic in the last two weeks in the polls — is just somehow where we have gotten.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, it does come, Mark, as the polls are tightening.

And it’s to the benefit of Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton has slipped. Donald Trump is up. He’s ahead in some of the battleground states. What are we — I asked both of you last week what you think is going on. I mean, do you — is there some new evidence or explanation for what’s happening?

MARK SHIELDS: I mean, I don’t know if this is a precise explanation, Judy, but certainly I think it’s a valid possibility that, as he has become — he doesn’t punch out the cleaning lady, he doesn’t abuse parking lot attendants on camera, therefore, he’s now presidential.

The fact that he hasn’t tweeted without — with a couple of exceptions, that he is working off a Teleprompter, which he at one point wanted to outlaw and prohibit, and somehow is talking about — about policies, not talking policy. He is talking about the possibility of policy.

You know, I — then he becomes somehow more acceptable to people, And I think particularly to Republicans. He was getting a high 70 percent of Republicans. Now several most — or recent polls have showed him getting in the high 80 percent of Republicans. And I think that accounts for his surge or lift.

DAVID BROOKS: Well, he’s running against a candidate who doesn’t know why she wants to be president, at least that she can express to anybody else.

And so, as we have been saying for 18 months, this is a change year, what change is Hillary Clinton offering? And so, if you want change, you have only got one option. And so as he becomes only moderately terrible, he becomes acceptable, and I think grudgingly acceptable to most people, not enthusiastically acceptable, but grudgingly acceptable.

And we’re now at a point he’s doing well in Ohio, he’s doing well around the country. He’s almost tied nationally. But I think we’re now at the point where one adequate debate performance by him and suddenly he almost becomes either even or even a slight front-runner.


DAVID BROOKS: And this is at a time, it should be remembered, when, according to the last Washington Post poll, 62 percent of Americans said he’s not qualified to be president. So both these things are happening at the same time.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Which raises some questions.

But this has happened. And, by the way, we should mentioned again, it now is clear it’s just going to be Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, that these other candidate, Gary Johnson and Jill Stein, will not be involved.

But, Mark, it also comes as Hillary Clinton’s has had some problems, the basket of deplorables comment from a week ago. Some people have said that is going to be something the Trump people will hang around her neck for the rest of the campaign. Is that the kind of thing that just is damaging and it keeps on being damaging?

MARK SHIELDS: Sure. Sure it is.

I can recall, as you do, David does, in 2008, when — at a fund-raiser, when the front-runner said people in small Pennsylvania towns who had lost hope and lost jobs cling to their guns and religion. And his opponent said Americans deserve a leader who will stand up for them, not a leader who looks down on them.

That was Barack Obama who said that, Hillary Clinton who took advantage of it, won the Pennsylvania primary. These things happen at fund-raisers, Judy. Mitt Romney, Palm Beach, stand up and says, 47 percent of Americans, I can’t tell them to take responsibility for their own live. They expect a job. They expect a paycheck. They expect health care. They expect food.

Telling people what they want to hear, that’s what Hillary Clinton was doing last Friday night, telling a New York liberal crowd that, you know, the people on the other side were xenophobic, they were racist, they were homophobic, Islamophobic, you name it.

And it — I will tell you, what bothered me the most — and Donald Trump took advantage of it, and understandably — she had done the same thing in 2008, when she took advantage of it — what bothered me the most was irredeemable.


MARK SHIELDS: You don’t — America is built on redemption. People came here because things weren’t working out.

My generation, the old, oldest fart generation, OK, 13 percent of us were in favor of same-sex marriage 15 years ago, now 41 percent. On civil rights, America changed has dramatically and profoundly. We believe in redemption, not just because you’re a liberal, because you’re an American.

And that — when you write off people and blame the customer, that is really bad.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But, David, Barack Obama stayed in a race, overcame that, was elected president.

Is this more damaging for Hillary Clinton than — clearly that was damaging, too, but…

DAVID BROOKS: Right, that was damaging, too.

There’s two elements here. One is snobbery. And as Mark says, it’s just us rich people talking to each other about those poor people. And that never works.

And then there’s the sociology element. They both — it’s bad sociology. They should leave the sociology to us amateurs.


DAVID BROOKS: But, third, the irredeemable is what leapt out at me.

And the person who was at the Emanuel Baptist — AME Church in Charleston, they believe the guy who shot and killed their close friends was redeemable, but she thinks millions of Americans aren’t?>

And that speaks and I think it plays, because there is a brittleness there. And I don’t know if there is a brittleness within. I sort of doubt it. I think she’s probably a very good person within. But there has been a brittleness to her public persona that has been ungenerous and ungracious. And it plays a little to that and why people just don’t want to latch on.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, and, David, your comment a minute ago about Hillary Clinton, and both of you have been saying this in one way or another for a number of months, hasn’t given a rationale, a reason to vote for her for president.

Mark, do you still feel you’re not hearing that from Hillary Clinton?

MARK SHIELDS: Judy, I mean, by a 10-to-1 margin in swing states, battleground states, they have outspent Donald Trump on television.

And their message has been relentless. It’s been in his own words. It’s been true, things he’s said. They have run up all the negatives they can run up Donald Trump. They have told people this is a man who’s a bully, he’s mean-spirited, he’s narrow-minded, he’s all of these things, he’s not to be trusted, not to be believed, and here’s the evidence of it.

And yet, among 18-to-34-year-olds, a key element in Barack Obama’s winning, his coalition, she’s at 27 percent favorable, 56 percent favorable. It isn’t just a matter of policy. She has adopted Bernie Sanders’ positions on student loans and so forth.

There’s got to be something there. There has got to be a connection as to what she wants to do, how she’s going to be a better — and it’s going to be a better America and why it makes a difference.

DAVID BROOKS: Yes. And it’s too late for her to be likable. She’s not going to win that.

But she can at least say, OK, you don’t like him, you don’t like me, but here’s my change. Here’s my change. And just four things, here’s my change. And I’m going to burn down the house on this. But somehow that clarity of message has not been there.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And there were some economic numbers, census report, David, that came out this week that said the poverty rate has improved in this country. Middle — people who are earning middle incomes, their salaries have gone up.

And yet, you know, you still see, as we saw in John Yang’s report from Ohio, many Americans aren’t feeling that.

DAVID BROOKS: Yes. The numbers were fantastic.

The poorer you are, the better your increase, basically. And the decline in the poverty rate, decline in inequality, the numbers were just fantastic. And I think two things are going on here.

One, it’s not touching everywhere. Obviously, if you’re in a coal or an industrial area, you’re still not feeling it. Second, the incomes are still, on average, lower than they were in 1999 in real terms. But, third, we are over-reporting the negativism in this country, that we are — every — if it’s not bad, then we don’t talk about it, because somehow that’s a betrayal…


JUDY WOODRUFF: It’s more newsworthy. Yes.

DAVID BROOKS: And the negativity is exaggerated, compared to what you actually see in the diversity of the country.

MARK SHIELDS: That’s a good point.

Judy, cheers to John Yang on that wonderful piece on Trumbull County, Ohio, where, 15 years ago, one out of four jobs have been lost in the past 15 years. And he explained just exactly what has gone to the Rust Belt of America.

But let’s just say good news. This is good news. The rising tide lifts all yachts. It’s row boats and dinghies. And poverty is down, and income up, the highest, Judy, in 49 years. Something — maybe the president deserves a little credit. Maybe policies are working and America, it isn’t midnight. It could be dawn.

Mr. Trump, cheer up. Eventually, the news will get worse.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Mea culpa, the news business focuses on the negative. It makes better stories.

Thank you both, Mark Shields, David Brooks. See you next week.

The post Shields and Brooks on Trump’s ‘birther’ lie, Clinton’s ‘deplorables’ effect appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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Shields and Brooks on high stakes for debate moderators, a dead heat in the polls

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Sep 09, 2016


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JUDY WOODRUFF: But, first: the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

Welcome to you both. It’s good to see you again.

Let’s talk about the presidential campaign.

David, we saw the two candidates together at the same place this week, but not at the same time, at this televised forum that NBC sponsored. What did you make of it, of their performance and what they had to say?

DAVID BROOKS: I thought they both lost. I thought America lost. Humanity lost. A little piece of my soul died. I thought they…


DAVID BROOKS: I thought they both did poorly.

I thought she was evasive and cross and looked like she was imperious and was angry to be challenged. She had plenty of information, but not a lot of relatability and not a lot of humanity and not a lot of vision for foreign policy.

He, if anything, was a little worse. He is, and as he has wont to do, said about six ridiculous things. The admiration for Putin is of long standing. But to me, the thing that really made me think was his claim that in Iraq we should have left a core of people to take the oil.

Now, that is — first of all, it’s impractical, but it’s also moral idiocy. Maybe you’re selfish and you think, oh, I got some oil and I got some guns, I should take it. But if you go through any realm of education, which is what we try to do with people, you learn that that’s called imperialism, that’s called plunder. It’s morally wrong. It ruins your credibility.

The idea that a big country is going to go out and send troops into some country to take their resources, and then the rest of the world is going to somehow trust us is just a ridiculous notion.

And so he says things that are just plainly ridiculous. But — so that’s why was so depressed.


JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Mark, humanity lost as a result of this encounter or this performance this week?


MARK SHIELDS: Judy, I wasn’t — it wasn’t Lincoln-Douglas.


MARK SHIELDS: And most importantly of all, I think David’s point about the oil is well-taken. I think it’s valid and I think it’s true.

That is not the United States. That is pillaging. That is the worst form of imperialism that he’s describing. It would mean leaving thousands of Americans there to protect the oil drilling. I mean, it just is — it’s indefensible on logistical, moral and political grounds.

But that aside, I think what it did — and you have moderated debates. I have never moderated a debate, Judy, for good reason. But I think it’s raised this — Wednesday night, partially because of the unflattering press reaction to Matt Lauer’s performance, has raised the stakes for the moderator, who is now put on notice, all of them, that they are not entitled in 2016 to sit there while somebody makes a statement that is factually untrue and is — can be proven false, as Mr. Trump did when he, in fact, said that he had always opposed the United States’ war in Iraq.

And I just think that — it’s tough to be a moderator. But I think that, given this campaign and the questions about the integrity and honesty of the candidates, and the great doubts about them, I think that is now part of the job description.

JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you see that question about the role of the moderator, David?

DAVID BROOKS: Yes. I watched the debate, and I didn’t think Matt Lauer did that terribly. I thought a lot of people who were Clinton partisans saw that she did bad, and they decided to blame him, which is what normally happens when one candidate does badly.

As for the role of the moderator, I guess I would say in moderation. If the moderator corrects a fact or two, that would be fine. If it turns into an argument between the moderator and the candidate, that is not what we want.

And the final point to be made, just in terms of cognitive science, the idea that when you correct a fact, you erase that fact from people’s memories is the reverse of the truth. When you correct a fact, what you do is you further lodge that fact into people’s minds, and they remember the error.

And we have had all these fact-checking services on TV in the print, three Pinocchios, liar, liar, pants on fire award, and we have not entered a more factual era of American politics. We have entered a less factual era. So, there’s just that blunt fact that it doesn’t work.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Mark, is this really all about the fact that Hillary Clinton didn’t do as well as her supporters wanted her to do?


I mean, I think there are people, obviously, who criticized Matt Lauer on that basis. And I’m not trying to pile on Matt Lauer.

But I think the difference, Judy, between a debate and what we saw Wednesday night is that a debate, as you know and our viewers know, is a simultaneous occurrence, when the two are there at the same time, and they can respond in real time to each other.

And I think that, you know, we get 90 million people at a presidential debate. There is no question that, in 1980, Ronald Reagan had been portrayed as a war-monger, somebody who couldn’t do anything off a script. And the one debate with President Jimmy Carter, he stood toe-to-toe and reassured people that he wasn’t bound and determined to start World War III on the spot and could make a coherent statement.

So, I mean, there is a lot more to a debate than there was on Wednesday night. And, in 2004, I think it’s pretty obvious that John Kerry won the three debates on debating terms, but in the final analysis, George Bush was reelected because voters chose “I like” over “I.Q.”


MARK SHIELDS: And that’s what one gets, is a sense of their personality, the character, how they treat each other, how they treat the moderator.

So I think that’s why — I think it upped the audience for the next debate.

JUDY WOODRUFF: David, what about — in this race, the polls have tightened. What do you attribute that to?

DAVID BROOKS: I don’t know.

After the stock market drops 300 points, then the stock market analysis invents some story to go along with it, oh, there was a correction. And so what we tend to when the polls tighten is, we invent a story to go back for it.

And they have tightened. They have tightened from maybe a seven-point Clinton lead to a maybe a two- or three-point Clinton lead. And so they have tightened. But I have not seen Donald Trump run a better campaign. I have not seen Hillary Clinton run a worse campaign.

So, it could just be — and one — as one travels around the country, one is just constantly barraged with the upsetness. People are just dispirited. And it could be in that general air of dispiritedness, you settle toward parity, because they’re dispirited about everybody.

And that would be my only theory. But I have not noticed one candidate or the other radically altering their performance that explain a loss or a rise.

It should finally be said, Trump’s numbers are pretty flat. The variation tends to be in the Clinton numbers.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark, how do you see that? Do you have an explanation for what’s going on?

MARK SHIELDS: Yes, I do. I have an explanation, because I think that’s part of our responsibility, to come up with explanations, whether they’re valid or not.


MARK SHIELDS: No, I think, Judy, Americans don’t like powerful figures who punch down, that is, who pick on someone less powerful and less able to speak for themselves than they are.

And I think Donald Trump was guilty of that on a sustained basis after the convention, the time of the Democratic Convention, on his abuse of a federal judge whose parents had emigrated from Mexico, and in particular his picking on and really abusing Mr. and Mrs. Khan, the Gold Star parents.

He hasn’t done that recently. And that reaches the bar of presidential in behavior. But the problem is, this is a change election. Americans don’t like the way Washington operates. They don’t like Washington. They don’t like the way things are going. They like the president, but they do not like Washington, D.C.

And Hillary Clinton has become the status quo. By a 2-1 margin, voters believe that Donald Trump would change business as usual in Washington, but by almost as large a margin, they believe that Hillary Clinton would be better in a crisis and less of a decisive margin she cares about people like them.

So, you have got this change election where he is a change — represents change that is really unappealing, that is threatening to people. And I think that’s the election.

But there’s no question that she has not come across, as thus far — she started to open up this week with the press and letting them in. But if you think about personal Hillary Clinton, you have got to go back to the primary day in 2008, when she showed such vulnerability, appealing vulnerability, and when she reached out to the girl who was being bullied during the Iowa caucuses this year.

Other than that, she’s been a private sort of issues paper and position paper. And I don’t think that’s going to be enough.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, just quickly, character issues or questions, David, thrown back and forth between these two candidates almost on an hour-by-hour basis.

Yesterday, The Washington Post editorialized it’s time for the press to lay off Hillary Clinton’s e-mails. What about that, A? And, quickly, B, the story this week about Donald Trump’s foundation giving money to the Florida attorney general that was looking at whether to investigate Trump University? How do we assess all of this?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, for him, there is a virtue in shamelessness. He admits that he’s in the influence-buying game. And he was clearly trying to buy influence.

So, at some level, since he’s so shameless, he gets less of a rap than Clinton, who denies she’s in the game, though she clearly is.

I happen to think those — the e-mail story and the other stories are sort of baked in the cake. It actually would be interesting at this point if they actually talked about something that the next president is going to do, like health care reform will have to be done.

There are actually a whole series of policy issues. It would be interesting if one of them came out and said, well, the health care, the Obamacare has to be fixed, and here’s exactly how I’m going to do that, and they made that an emphasis. I actually think that would go over big because people are — as I said, are so dispirited by the contentless post-policy tone that has marked this campaign.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Would that make a difference, Mark? The candidates have been talking — they have been giving a speech here and there about policy and putting some papers out. I certainly — I know Secretary Clinton has.

MARK SHIELDS: No, Secretary Clinton has, Judy.

I think Mr. Trump’s are in the works, and we can look for them before Halloween.

But, I mean, David put his finger on it when she said Donald Trump is shameless about it. He said — he was asked why he contributed to both Democrats and Republicans, said, when I want something, I get it, and when I call them, they kiss my ass, which is not found in Bartlett’s under most presidents’ famous quotations.

And I just think that does belie a cynicism and probably comports with the cynicism that voters feel right now. They don’t believe Washington. And he’s not being punished for it or paying a penalty for it.

And, you know, I think that remains a problem. Whoever wins, you have got to give a sense of what two things you’re going to do specifically to make things better. And I don’t think even the partisans of both candidates could say right now what two specific things their president would do in his or her first 90 days.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Just in the last 45 seconds, David, a passing this week of someone who was an icon in the conservative movement, Phyllis Schlafly, 92 years old.

She left an important mark, didn’t she?


She came of age and personified the era when the cultural war and the Sexual Revolution issues rose up and dominated American politics, whether it was issues of gay rights or gay marriage, abortion.

And she sort of exemplified that and created a new right that really fueled the Republican Party. I happen to think she passes at a time when those cultural wars, Sexual Revolution issues are fading from the scene, and the coming generation has basically settled them, and not necessarily in a Phyllis Schlafly direction.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark Shields, in 10 seconds a word about Phyllis Schlafly?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, she — Phyllis Schlafly was that, and she was more. She almost became a political kingmaker.

I mean, her endorsement, her support was sought eagerly and coveted by the leading Republican presidential candidates. And she had an enormous influence.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark Shields, thank you very much.

David Brooks, have a great weekend, both of you.

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Shields and Brooks on immigration and whether Clinton should lay low

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Sep 02, 2016


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HARI SREENIVASAN: We turn to the week in politics, which included, yes, a surprise campaign detour to Mexico.

And that means we turn to the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks joining us this week from New York.

All right, Mark Shields, start. Let’s go with Mexico for topic one.

This is the surprise trip, Donald Trump, not so surprising, but really a shortly planned trip to Mexico that he took. Now, first the moment itself. He came across looking presidential.


Peter Hart, the Democratic pollster, said that Donald Trump could win this campaign if he had one sane month. And I think an awful lot of Democrats were quite nervous on Wednesday afternoon, when this sort of thoughtful, almost statesmanlike Donald Trump showed up at a joint session with the president of Mexico.

He listened. It was the longest he had ever been on camera without speaking that I can recall, and almost came across, I don’t want to say presidential, but it was flirting with that, until, of course, he returned to his native land, in Phoenix, totally altered and contradicted that impression with his stem-winder of a speech, basically saying we’re going to round up anybody who’s an undocumented immigrant in this country.

HARI SREENIVASAN: David, what about that, both the moment and when he came back, the policy?

DAVID BROOKS: Yes. First, I would point out he has had a sane month, but it’s been spread over 70 years.

But he had that moment. He can utter a sane moment for that time in Mexico, but, when he came back, tonally, he just returned to himself. To pay tribute to Donald Trump, he’s incapable of being a phony.

And one of the things he does express is the true belief, or at least his belief, that America is besieged, besieged by foreigners who threaten us with crime, with terrorism, with cultural decay, with job loss. And that is how he got into this race. And that is what he’s expressing in Phoenix.

And the substance of what he said in Phoenix was actually quietly almost moderate, I think, but the tone is much more important. And the tone is the same old hostility to immigration. And that will be politically determinative. The only people in America who really cotton on to that kind of message are a certain section of the Republican Party. It has really very little appeal outside of it.

MARK SHIELDS: Let me just pick up on one thing David said, Hari, and that is, FOX News poll this week, not exactly a liberal organ, asked the following question: What about undocumented immigrants who are currently working in the United States, do you favor deporting as many as possible or do you favor setting up a system for them to become legal residents?

By a margin of 77 to 19, Americans favor legal status, rather than deporting. And the includes 66 to 29 percent Republicans believe that we ought to have legal status.

So, David, I think, makes a reasonable point. And that is, Donald Trump must believe this, because it’s not a rational political position, if he’s interested in being elected.



HARI SREENIVASAN: Go ahead, David.

DAVID BROOKS: I would just add that, if you look at the substance of what’s being said both by Clinton and Trump, you can very easily predict where we are going to end up on immigration.

We are going to secure the border. We’re not going to build a wall, but we will secure the border. We will legalize in some form or another the people who are here. And we will shift a little more to a skills-based system than a family reunification system.

That’s the basis of what is going to happen. And within all the violence and all the Sturm und Drang of a campaign, substantively, the parties are sort of heading in that direction.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Mark, how different is the position that he’s taken now, or at least in the last week, vs. what Mitt Romney said or vs. what really the policy is today?

MARK SHIELDS: Mitt Romney’s, of course, was self-deportation. And Trump obviously includes that as one of his planks.

The difference is not simply in tone and emphasis. I mean, this has been the centerpiece. Mitt Romney — it became an issue in 2012, but it wasn’t the defining issue of the campaign.

This was the defining issue for Donald Trump, by his own volition, when he came in. He made this an issue, not that immigration had not been a controversial issue in the country, but he made it the centerpiece of his candidacy.

And he has consistently spoken in disparaging, pejorative, ugly terms about undocumented — there’s no undocumented immigrants who graduated as valedictorians of their school or joined the United States military and served the country well. He treats them all as though they’re criminal suspects.

HARI SREENIVASAN: David Brooks, I heard your doubt on the building of the wall and who is going to pay for it. Really, that has become one of those, not just slogans, but he repeats it at every speech, every opportunity he gets, not so much in front of the Mexican president, but certainly when he came back.

And you’re saying, no, we won’t actually build that wall?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, you know, this isn’t exactly dog whistle politics. It’s just whistle politics.

If you look at the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, when they ask people, what are your top issues you care about in this country, well, economy comes up very high. National security comes up very high. Even the deficit has come up reasonably high.

Only 6 percent list immigration as one of their top three issues. It’s not a major issue. And the reason it’s worked for Trump is because he’s playing identity politics. He’s playing us vs. them politics, basically native whites against foreigners.

And so the wall is not really a wall. I think most people know he’s not going to actually going to build a wall, and certainly Mexico is not going to pay for it. It’s a way to say, I’m for us, against the encroachments of them.

And in times of economic stress, or among people who feel economic stress, there’s unfortunately a susceptibility of that kind of identity politics.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Mark, let’s talk a little bit about the ground game that the two candidates have. We had a report on it from Lisa Desjardins and Dan Bush earlier this week.


HARI SREENIVASAN: A pretty significant disparity in what Hillary Clinton already has established, certainly in key battleground states. The Trump campaign said that they’re going to — I think they have plans to open 98 more. But do these offices in these states matter?

MARK SHIELDS: They do matter in this sense. If it’s a close race, the idea of being able to contact and turn out your supporters, that is, to identify them and in many cases to persuade them, to find out what it is that they are interested and doubts about or questions they do have.

I would just point out, in 2008, Barack Obama had a rather spectacular ground operation in the field campaign. And in four different states, in Iowa, in North Carolina, in Florida, and Nevada, he won the election on early voting, that is, the people who voted before Election Day.

John McCain actually got more votes on Election Day, the 12 hours, the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, in which people voted. But he had built up such a number, had Barack Obama, that it was enough of a cushion that he could carry those states and win the presidency.

So, yes, it is important, and it’s especially important in a close race. And in the state of Florida, Adam Smith of The Tampa Bay Times today reported, and a very respected political writer, that, in the state of Florida, Donald Trump has one field office.

Mitt Romney had 48 in 2012. Hillary Clinton has 50 as of today, and Donald Trump has only one. So, this is one area where his campaign is not really competitive.

HARI SREENIVASAN: David Brooks, the Trump campaign would probably say, well, we’re doing pretty well, considering we only have one.

DAVID BROOKS: Well, that’s true in the polls.

And I do think, if you look at the ground game, I think it’s the effect, the marginal effect on the race is probably 2 percent, 3 percentage points, which is significant, given there will be 50 states, and a certain number of them in most elections are going to be close. I think TV ads are about the same.

So, we’re shifting sort of on the margin here, at least in a normal race. This race has been far from normal. And I think, basically — I will quote Peter Hart, too — he wrote a memo today, which I think was making the very effective point, is, the majority of people have decided they don’t want to vote for Donald Trump. They just have to know they can live with Hillary Clinton for four years.

And so, if she can prove that she’s livable with, then she’s probably going to probably rack up a big victory. But she hasn’t done that. Her popularity ratings are sinking right now. And I’m not sure they’re sinking because she’s campaigning too little or too ineffectively or because she’s campaigning too much. I sort of suspect the latter, and that she would do better if she was even quieter than she is now.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Let’s talk a little bit about that quietness since the bump that she got after the conventions and some of the criticism that Donald Trump got after going after the Khan family, right?


HARI SREENIVASAN: But she’s largely in August been taking the time to raise money. And she has sort of stayed out of the spotlight.

MARK SHIELDS: And raise money, she did, what, $140 million for her campaign and the Democratic Party.

And two events struck me. I mean, she basically has been in Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, the Hamptons, the tony suburbs of New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco. One event was a $250,000-per-person entry price. I mean, those are boxcar numbers. Another was $200,000 for an individual to get in.

And I think that the question of what she does as a candidate, I mean, I think she’s effective in small groups. I think she’s effective when she shows empathy and a personal side. But she doesn’t have the benefit of the doubt on the question of trustworthiness and transparency. And they have been anything but transparent on this question of emails.

And emails — I think the one great moment she had unscripted in this campaign were the Benghazi hearings, when, for 11 hours, she stood there and sat there and took and answered and took on and basically vanquished her Republican interrogators on the House side.

But, since then, there is sort of a closing down and a lockdown, it seems to me, and a lack of transparency. So, there is — I think this raises further questions about her trustworthiness.

HARI SREENIVASAN: David Brooks, even today, we had more information from the FBI about notes about the interview that they had, the long interview, and sort of a summary of their findings.

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, as far as we know what came out today, nothing really transforms our version of the story.

There is carelessness, but it’s mostly reiterating the pattern of closedness, which has been going back 20 years, the pattern of insularity, the pattern of secrecy. I don’t know where that comes from. It’s almost psychological at this point. I don’t know if it has to do with her marriage, her upbringing, whatever it is. She’s just not an open and transparent person.

But one of the things she has been doing in the last few weeks is preparing for the debate. And I do think she understands that the Olympics sort of changed the culture. The country was super, super into the election. And then the Olympics came along, and something uplifting came along, and people were saying, hey, I can watch something on TV that I enjoy watching.

And I do think interest in the campaign has waned a little since then. And it may not lock in, especially for low-information undecided voters, until that debate. And so, if she’s spending a lot of time trying to make herself an attractive and presentable personality in that debate, that may not be the stupidest thing she could do with this period.

MARK SHIELDS: I would agree.

I think she has an advantage going in the debate, in that she has debated, and she’s a good debater, and she’s debated under high-pressure one-on-one situations. Donald Trump has never been in a one-on-one debate, where, for 90 minutes, you’re one of the two people on the firing line.

The second thing is, to disadvantage for Hillary Clinton, is because she is such a good debater, because she is so knowledgeable and thoroughly prepared on all matters policy, she’s going to go into this as the overwhelming favorite.

And that’s what happened to Al Gore in 2000. He took George W. Bush lightly. It’s what happened to Barack Obama in the first debate in 2012. He took Mitt Romney too lightly. And I think she and her campaign are guarding against this possibility.

HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Mark Shields, David Brooks, thanks so much.

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Shields and Brooks on the alt-right and a general lack of trust in Clinton

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Aug 26, 2016


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HARI SREENIVASAN: That brings us to the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

Let’s start with your reactions to what you saw, this group of voters.

MARK SHIELDS: It’s always great to hear the voices of real voters.

I mean, they’re — you know, we see polls, and it’s 57 percent, we figure everybody’s monolithic. And yet you get — what you get is, you get the texture in the conversation like that.

And I found Alison really almost compelling, the woman who had voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and really felt that she and the demographic of, I guess, white American voters had been neglected and forgotten.

I just — in the past eight years, and Democrats’ attention to other agendas. And I just — I found the voices just really revealing. And most of all, it shows the lack of enthusiasm about this election. When 51 percent of Republicans, according to Gallup poll, and 42 percent of Democrats say they wish their party had nominated somebody else, I think it was reflected in Judy’s session.

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, first, I disagree with Mark. I think we are real voters.


DAVID BROOKS: Do we not bleed?


DAVID BROOKS: But, yes, I’m really shocked. Like a lot of people one runs across, a lot of people in that focus group were — just couldn’t imagine a Trump presidency, but found Clinton distrustworthy.

And then say she wins — and according to the upshot out of my newspaper, it’s like an 88 percent chance or something like that. But say that we go to an inaugural or we go into an administration with someone the country fundamentally doesn’t trust.

And what does that do to the morale of the country? And is there a way she can become more trustworthy, where she can reintroduce herself in some way, maybe after an election, not in the heat of a campaign? Somehow, it just seems so dispiriting, if she does win, that we would go through four years where people feel this personal distrust for the commander in chief.

That can’t be good for the country, if it stays like that.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Today, there was even a tepid endorsement by Bush adviser Paul Wolfowitz, saying that he would vote for Clinton, but really it just came down to this choice between the lesser of two evils. It seems so much that these campaigns right now is positioning about not that our candidate is not so great. It’s just that the other candidate is worse.


But the last endorsement in the world that Hillary Clinton wants at this point is the man who made the case publicly to go to war in Iraq and admitted that the argument was — consensus argument was on weapons of mass destruction, because that was what everybody could get behind.

So, the cause — cause for going to war was just, you know, a contrivance. So, it’s not — Hillary Clinton probably doesn’t want to be reminded of her support for that venture. And I think she probably now has enough Republican foreign policy endorsements.


HARI SREENIVASAN: Also this week, we talked a little bit about the rise of the alt-right movement, the white supremacist movement.

We have got this week one candidate calling the other a racist, and then him responding back that she’s a bigot. Where are we here?

DAVID BROOKS: Yes. Well, I guess we’re getting it out in the open.

I happen to think Donald Trump’s campaign began with an act of ethnic signaling, or more. When the San Bernardino thing happened, and he wanted to ban Muslim immigration into the country, entrance into the country, that is — that was blanketing an entire ethnic group or an entire religion. And that’s bigotry.

And so that was the thing that exploded his campaign. And there have been just signals all along the way between alt-right and the Trump campaign.

And it just seems to me there is always a danger in every party to be taken over by some radical, angry fringe, the John Birch Society for the Republican Party in the 1960s. Hubert Humphrey was — spent — and Eugene McCarthy and other people spent a lot of time trying to get the communists out of the Democratic Party in the 1940s.

There was a famous confrontation in Minnesota where Humphrey’s suit was wet — was — he was spit upon so much, it was soaking wet. And parties have to control themselves so some vicious element doesn’t take over.

And the Republican Party has not controlled the alt-right movement. And, therefore, it has come into the movement. Trump has welcomed it in with a wink and a nod.

And it is a long-term problem for the party. It is a long-term problem that you’re basically an all white party. And so that’s just a core problem that Trump has now exacerbated and blown up.

HARI SREENIVASAN: I mean, Secretary Clinton might have not called him specifically a racist, but she’s basically pointed instance after another after another where — and this is during a week where Donald Trump goes out and tries to lure African-American votes, Latino votes.

MARK SHIELDS: To be very blunt, I will state my case.

Donald Trump has gone to, on a consistent basis, the meanest corners of the American soul, appealed to the basest and darkest side of all Americans. He began his presidential bid publicly by charging falsely, by alleging libelously that the president of the United States wasn’t an American: My people are out there. They’re finding all of this stuff.

He began his candidacy with, they’re rapists, they’re murderers, they’re coming here for that purpose, speaking of Mexican immigrants to this country.

David said about the Muslim ban. He’s going to build the wall. I mean, it’s — everything about it has been dark and mean-spirited.

But let me just say one caveat. And I thought Hillary Clinton delivered the speech well. She wasn’t strident. But this is the worst course for her to win a campaign, because you win a campaign this way — and he’s not a dog whistle. He’s a canine choir, OK, of dark impulses.

But you win a campaign this way, and you have agreed upon nothing about where we are as a people, what we ought to do next, what we ought to think about as the great challenges facing our country in the next generations.

All you have greed upon is that the person is unacceptable. And your political honeymoon, your presidential honeymoon basically ends on Tuesday — about midnight of election night. There is no agreement on who we are as a people, what we ought to do as a people.

So, I would just say, if this is where we’re going in this campaign — it’s obviously where he is and where he continues to go — but if she goes that way, and just to drive him down further, it’s going to be a terrible, terrible result.

DAVID BROOKS: I also do think one has to — and she wasn’t too guilty of this, I don’t think.

One has to continually distinguish between Trump and the Trump supporters. And it’s too easy to say, oh, they’re all a bunch of racists.

MARK SHIELDS: That’s right.

DAVID BROOKS: Which is — we don’t know. And it’s probably — it’s not true in our experience.

MARK SHIELDS: It’s not fair. Yes.

DAVID BROOKS: It’s unfair.

And so I think my answer has always been, he’s the wrong answer to a right question, that a lot of people feel a lot of anxiety. They feel they have lost dignity, they have lost a role.

And, sometimes, in those cases, they do go to a little ethnic tribal fear. But the way to ease that fear is not to say, oh, they’re all a bunch of racists. And she’s not guilty of that, but it’s something that is floating around in the conversation.

MARK SHIELDS: Well, she did a pretty good job of separating, tactically and strategically, the Republican Party, the Paul Ryans, the Bob Doles, the John McCains, that he’s an aberration, he’s an anomaly.

I thought that was a well-crafted part of the speech.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Let’s talk a little bit about immigration.

If you’re a Trump supporter, you call it a pivot. If you’re a critic, you say this is a flip-flop, but what to make of this particular change in his stance?

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, well, the change — the fact that he’s changing stance is not surprising, because the man has a severe problem with impulse control.

The fact that he was consistent for a little while is the odd situation for him. The only thing he’s been consistent upon is narcissism so far. And so this was him responding to different audiences.

And so a new campaign team comes in, and they look at a bunch of poll numbers, and they see he’s not doing well, and he’s especially not doing well among moderate Republicans. They are not doing well among Latinos. And so there is this very crude pander both on him saying he will be great for African-Americans, and then on the immigration, the pander.

And the crudity of it is what is so striking. Here’s a guy who actually — to the extent that people really did like him, or do like him, it’s because he speaks his mind. And to throw that away on such a blatant flip-flop is a sign not just that he made some strategic pivot or something. It’s a sign that he has attention span problems, and that he has — he just wants to please whatever audience he happens to be in front of at that moment.

And there is just not a lot of competency he has shown.

MARK SHIELDS: The defense of Donald Trump consistently has been, look, he may be a bully, he may be a blowhard, but at least you know where he stands, he’s not your typical politician. You get — he is who he says he is.

And he turns out not to be who he says he is. He began the campaign, that was the raison d’etre for his candidacy was building the wall, and rounding up these 12 million undocumented immigrants, or illegals, as he called them, and banishing them to the outer darkness of the netherworld, or wherever.

And now — now the ban on all Muslims was just a suggestion, he says. Now he’s backing off on this. So, what is it? To me, I’m always skeptical about motives, but I have to look at it and say, Mitt Romney carried white women by 56 to 42 over Barack Obama for his vote.

He’s getting murdered among white women right now, especially college-educated white women. Why? Because he is who he is. And it’s an embarrassment to say you’re for Donald Trump. You can’t do it. You can’t look at your kids in self-respect.

So, to make him somehow, I think — make them less uncomfortable in somehow supporting him, I think it’s a vote to try and appeal to the moderate Republicans David’s talking about to come home. It’s OK. He’s really not as bad as we thought he was or he seemed to be. See, he’s really moderating.

To me, that’s what this…

DAVID BROOKS: In this cosmos of Trump bashing, I feel like I want to say some nice thing about Donald Trump.

And the Wollman ice rink in Central Park, which he built, is a fantastic ice rink.

MARK SHIELDS: It is. And he built it when it wasn’t being built. That’s right.


HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, let’s try to get through a couple of non-Trump-related topics then.


HARI SREENIVASAN: Bernie Sanders’ new political organization about the revolution had a bit of a rocky start. A bunch of his aides decided to leave en masse because they were concerned about the direction that it was going and who was leading it.

Does this mean the end of the revolution, or is this just a step?

MARK SHIELDS: This means that putting together an organization after a campaign based on a campaign is always difficult. It’s frequently attempted, rarely pulled off.

But I don’t think there is any question that constituency is still there. This is very much a change election. This is a change — you heard it in Judy’s piece. People want a change. This is not a status quo election.

The problem is that Trump, we mentioned him, represents a change that is chaos to people and scary.


And with Sanders, when you get an outsider, you’re not going to get — you’re usually not going to get a lot of competence. What you want are insider’s competence with an outsider’s perspective. And that’s a rarity. Usually, when you get somebody who has not been in the system, just putting together organizations, a lot of the management stuff has not been their bailiwick.


MARK SHIELDS: Howard Dean did a pretty good job after 2004.

HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, syndicated columnist Mark Shields, New York Times columnist David Brooks, thank you both.

MARK SHIELDS: Thank you.

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Shields and Rubin on Trump’s staff shift and Clinton’s ‘self-inflicted’ damage

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Aug 19, 2016


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JUDY WOODRUFF: It’s Friday, and so we turn to politics, and the analysis of Shields and Rubin. That is syndicated columnist Mark Shields and Jennifer Rubin, the opinion writer for The Washington Post. David Brooks is away this week.

We welcome you.


JUDY WOODRUFF: And good to have you back, Mark.

MARK SHIELDS: Good to be here.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, let’s talk about this upheaval in the Trump campaign, phases one and two. We have a new — Mark, a new campaign manager. We have Paul Manafort out after some stories about his work in Ukraine.

We know that one of the new folks coming in is from Breitbart News, Stephen Bannon. What do we make of all this?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, first of all, Judy, every campaign is ultimately, inevitably a mirror reflection of the candidate.

The criminality and paranoia of the Nixon campaign began with Richard Nixon. The discipline and, I would say, the insularity of Jimmy Carter’s campaign began with Jimmy Carter. And I think that’s true of every campaign.

This is a year unlike any year, when voters are so angry with Washington. They think Washington is awash in money, that money buys influence, buys access, puts the fix in.

So, what does — Donald Trump, who has an advantage over Hillary Clinton of 3-1 on someone who would change Washington, he hires the ultimate insider, the guy who gets, according to reports, various reports, got $12 million in cash for representing the pro-Russian, pro-Putin interests and parties in Ukraine.

JUDY WOODRUFF: This is Manafort.

MARK SHIELDS: Paul Manafort, the ultimate insider. So, now Paul Manafort is gone, amidst charges that this is just Washington as usual, the worst kind.

And who does he bring in? He brings in Stephen Bannon, who’s never run a campaign before, who has done a good job of running a Web site. It’s been very successful. And he lines himself up with Roger Ailes, Roger Ailes, the recently deposed chief of FOX News, the bete noire of every liberal in the country, many of whom are sort of lukewarm toward Hillary Clinton, and who has just left amidst a flurry of serious allegations about sexual harassment of women and misconduct.

So, I don’t know. I mean, it just — if personnel is policy, these self-inflicted wounds on the part of Trump are just, if not mortal, they’re seriously damaging.

JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you see all this, Jennifer?

JENNIFER RUBIN, The Washington Post: Well, I think several strands of the campaign came together all at once.

One is this very odd relationship, maybe not even relationship, that Donald Trump has with Vladimir Putin and the number of advisers around him who are overtly pro-Russian, who have made money in Russia. So, that’s one strand.

The next strand is, there is no campaign. As you were saying, there is no one really running the store. There is something more to a campaign than the candidate showing up and giving a speech. There’s ad buys, there’s ground game, there’s all sorts of elements.

And I see none of that. And, apparently, Mr. Manafort didn’t do that. Maybe he tried and Donald didn’t let him. Maybe he didn’t know how to do that. So, that’s the second strand.

A third is, he’s behind. And the national polls, I think, underestimate the trouble he’s in.


JENNIFER RUBIN: He is trailing in virtually every poll in every battleground. And now we have new battleground states. They’re called Georgia and Arizona, which is unheard of.

So, that’s another strand that kind of came together this week. And I think the last thing is, how is this new mix going to work? Donald Trump throws people out and he pairs people together. Kellyanne…

JUDY WOODRUFF: Conway, the pollster.

JENNIFER RUBIN: … Conway is a very polished, very buttoned-down pollster, not a campaign chief, but a pollster, matching with this fellow who ran not just a right-wing Web site, but one that really made its money and attracted a very anti-Semitic, anti-minority clique called the alt-right. These two people are supposed to work together in some cohesive campaign? I don’t see it.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, Mark, this is all happening. The evidence that we’re seeing is, Donald Trump gave a speech in North Carolina last night where he said — for the first time, he said: I misspoke. I didn’t say what I should have said in some instances.

He didn’t say what he was talking about. He said: If I have caused people some pain, I regret that.

Today, he was touring the flooding in Louisiana. Are we seeing a different Donald Trump now?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, I mean, he certainly admitting that somehow he may have hurt somebody’s feelings, in sort of the contrived, counterfeit apology, that if I in any way offended you by burning down your house and killing your dogs, then I’m sorry.

I mean, this is a man that we saw at the opening called John McCain, an authentic hero, he said he wasn’t a hero because he had been captured. This is a man who accused Ted Cruz’s father of colluding with Lee Harvey Oswald just days before Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated President Kennedy, I mean, a man who has made just incredibly outrageous, offensive, vulgar, obscene charges, and who ridiculed a respected reporter with a physical affliction, and over and over again.

So, I mean, this is something new that we’re seeing in Trump. He’s giving — he gave a better speech, I think, this week than he’s given. I mean, it was a coherent speech. It had echoes of Nixon ’68. And I don’t mean that in a pejorative sense. It really did.


MARK SHIELDS: But he’s not as good on the teleprompter as he is spontaneously.

I think the roar of grease paint the sound of the crowd really gets him. And I think, if he is going to give teleprompted speeches, he is not going to get that same reaction that really gets his adrenaline going.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Jennifer, some of what the campaign has been saying is, this is going to let Donald Trump be Donald Trump. So, is that what you see going on here?

JENNIFER RUBIN: Well, maybe Donald Trump is schizophrenic, because, on one hand, he’s reading off a teleprompter. On the other hand, I think we have come to know the real Donald Trump, who is irreverent, who is rude, who is aggressive, who loves that interaction, that spontaneity.

So I think they have to figure out whether he’s going to be something in between, or one on one day and another on the next.

And Mark raises something, I think, that is important. And that is, there gets to be an incoherence about that campaign. His supporters love him because he was outrageous and frankly said a lot of things that they thought were politically incorrect, which others might think of as racist or misogynistic.

But the rest of the voters are very skeptical of him. Does he lose both sides now, or does he gain supporters?

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let’s talk about the other side of the campaign, because, Mark, Hillary Clinton is out there. She’s ahead, as we have said, in the polls in most of the battleground states.

Do you see the kind of enthusiasm for her out there that we have been looking for throughout this campaign? And then you had another reminder this week about the email issue, that she told the FBI that she got the idea for using personal email from Colin Powell. He now says, yes, I suggested it, but I never suggested she use her own server.


Judy, this has been a campaign of self-inflicted wounds on both sides. From 2000 to 2014, Hillary Clinton was in the United States Senate, candidate for president and then secretary of state. She was mercifully and happily divorced from the Clinton Foundation, which was raising money from all sorts of sources, many of whom couldn’t take a frisk.

There were people with an agenda totally alien and hostile to anything that Hillary Clinton’s ever stood for, and some people who were rather shady characters. She leaves that job as secretary of state and plunges into the foundation. She goes right into it.

So, now she’s afflicted with that. She’s stayed with that. She gives speeches for $600,000 — six-figure speeches and won’t reveal the text of what she’s done, again, self-inflicted. And you point out the email server, the private email, all self-inflicted.

So the perception of her as somebody who plays too close to the edge, who has rules especially for her, who has — because of her righteous and moral impulses and beliefs is somehow exempt from ordinary rules and is overly secretive, I mean, that persists. And it didn’t come from Donald Trump and it didn’t come from Republicans. It came from her.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Jennifer, we did have Bill Clinton saying yesterday that he’s going to — he would step down from the foundation if she’s elected president and that they won’t be taking any more money from foreign sources or corporate sources, he said.

JENNIFER RUBIN: This is the proverbial closing the barn door after the horse is out and gone and probably died, because he’s been out for so long.

Why did they have those donors all along, as Marks points out? It was influence peddle, from an objective eye. People who wanted to be in close with the Clintons, who knew that she was going to be running for office, gave to her foundation, paid her and her husband for speeches. It’s the typical pay-to-play kind of game.

So, now to say, now that we have taken all the money and we have gotten what we wanted, which is to get into office, we won’t take any more, I’m not all that impressed. And I don’t think the American people will be either.

I do think, however, she is the luckiest person on the face of the earth, because not very many people are going to focus on that part of this week, with Donald Trump doing his usual chaos routine.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, can she keep going like this, Mark, with — you have said self-inflicted wounds.

MARK SHIELDS: Judy, this is a year, if it’s the fundamentals, it’s a year of change. Voters want change, and they don’t want continuity. She’s the candidate of the status quo. It’s a third Democratic term.

But all the focus, Donald Trump, instead of being the candidate of change, is the candidate of chaos, the candidate of crisis, And, I mean, just — basically, he goes to Louisiana today, which was certainly good. And what does he say when he’s there? He says: Great place. I have had a great history with Louisiana.

I mean, this is a man who is in stage four self-centeredness. And so he draws the spotlight to himself, and it helps her.

JUDY WOODRUFF: What about that, Jennifer?

I mean, I was going to ask both of you. Donald Trump is there with Mike Pence, his running mate. President Obama hasn’t been there yet. He’s still on vacation. Hillary Clinton put in a call to Louisiana’s governor.

Is this the kind of thing that politicians should be jumping to go do right now at this point or staying away from?

JENNIFER RUBIN: This is the dilemma, of course, that George W. Bush faced with Katrina. He kind of played it halfway and got vilified because there was a shot of him looking down at New Orleans from the sky.

I think the president is right to stay away for a few days. He’s going to go on Tuesday. I think it is an incredible strain on the first-responders, on security folks, on all the people who should be spending 110 percent of their time on helping the people.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Which is what the governor said.


And for a candidate who has no ability to do anything about it — you can understand a president who wants to see things, wants to assess how bad things are, wants to get a feel for things. But these people are just there to have their picture taken.


MARK SHIELDS: I thought the president should have — somewhere between his 312th and 313th round of golf, should have put on a suit and tie and spoken to the press.

The president is not only the commander in chief. He’s the consoler-in-chief. And I think just — just to tell, express the sympathy, support and what we were doing as a people, by television, to the people of Louisiana, not to go down. I think Jennifer is absolutely right, not to interfere with that or upset things down there.

But I just — I think that’s something that a president has to do and should do at that time. And I think the president, he doesn’t like to be forced into these things. And I think he resisted it. And I think now he looks like he’s going down in response to the criticism.

JUDY WOODRUFF: In a few days.

Well, this campaign doesn’t get any less exciting, less interesting.

MARK SHIELDS: No, that’s right.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark Shields, Jennifer Rubin, thank you both. Have a great weekend.


MARK SHIELDS: Thank you, Judy.


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Brooks and Dionne on the GOP’s dilemma and the role of ‘common decency’ in the campaign

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Aug 12, 2016


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JUDY WOODRUFF: And now back to the world of politics, and to the analysis of Brooks and Dionne. That is New York Times columnist David Brooks and Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne.


Mark Shields is away this week.

So, let’s pick up, gentlemen, with where I left off a few minutes ago with Robert Costa of The Washington Post.

David, what a week for Donald Trump. I guess we all thought maybe things were going to slow down, but first there was the comment about the Second Amendment that — seen by some as a threat to Hillary Clinton, and then the ISIS comments.

How do we interpret how Donald Trump is communicating with everybody?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, this isn’t a decision he is making. It’s a condition he possesses.

And we’re not used to talking about the psychological mental health of our candidates. And in some things, I think it’s not fair to talk about his mental health, in terms of how he operates with his kids in his private life, but there is a such a thing as public psychology and political psychology.

And in public, he obviously displays extreme narcissism, but most of all, he displays a certain manic, hyperactive attention. And so if you graph a Trump sentence, every eight-word verse, he’s like associative thinking.

And there is a term in psychology called the flights of thought, where one word sets off an association, which sets off an association. And as one psychiatrist said, compare his speeches to Robin Williams’ monologues, but without the jokes, but with insults.

And so he’s not in control of his own attention, I don’t believe. And, therefore, you get these rambling, weird sentences. You get things he patently shouldn’t be saying. And then even this, I’m being sarcastic about the sarcasm, I’m obviously being sarcastic, and then maybe a fifth a second later, he said, but not that much.

So he is contradicting himself within 12 words. And that’s a condition.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, E.J., how are we to understand this, as people trying to understand this election?

E.J. DIONNE: Well, I have been thinking about it, that there is the English language and then there’s the Trump language.

And in the Trump language, words change their meaning day by day depending on his own political needs. I won’t go into the learned psychological explanation that David gave, but there are a lot of people now talking that way about him.

But, politically, he doesn’t seem to care much about what he says. He gauges the effect. Sometimes, in the middle of a speech, he will change his direction if the audience doesn’t like him.

And I had a very instructive trip this week to York, Pennsylvania. It’s a conservative county, Southern Pennsylvania, not far from here. And one of the most interesting conversations I had was with Allison Cooper, the editor of The York Dispatch.

And talked about how people in this very Republican area — York City is Democratic, but the county is very Republican — are people who care about manners and decorum. And she spoke about — what she said is, common decency is a core part of who people are.

And I think in this campaign, we have talked about soccer moms, we have talked about angry white men, and I think you’re starting to develop common decency voters who are just reacting to what Trump says.

A Republican county commissioner I talked to up to there said that she’s been active with veterans. And after what Trump said about the Khan family and what he said about the Purple Heart, she said, I can’t vote for him.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The convention.

E.J. DIONNE: And so something deep is happening, and it has nothing to do with ideology or even party.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And, meanwhile, David, we’re trying to understand. As we just heard Robert Costa reporting a few minutes ago, leaders in the party are betwixt and between trying to figure out, how do they deal with this?

He’s saying, I’m going to go my own way. They know they’re not going to separate from him. But how do we — again, how do we understand the state of his campaign?


Well, Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo points out that, in today’s polling, if you just take the states where Clinton is up by 10 points or more, she has got 273 electoral votes, enough to win. And so that’s 10 points more.

Can we imagine a state where he moves the numbers in Wisconsin by 10 points? That would be a huge and unprecedented gain at this stage. And so it’s looking very bad for him.

And so the Republicans have to figure out what to do. And so a lot of them are writing open letters, but even more are saying things privately, let’s get the RNC to defund the campaign. We just cut them off. And that either drives him crazy and he quits, or else at least we have got more money for our own people.

And to me, that’s sort of interesting. Just take away the morality. I think the morality is, you cut off funding, but just on political grounds, do you think, well, if we spend the money on Senate campaigns, at least we can shore those up.

But the blunt fact is, if Trump completely collapses, and gets 38, 40, 42 percent of the vote, then the tsunami is so big, it probably sweeps out a lot of the congressional races, no matter what they spend on locally. So, where to put the money is an interesting question.

E.J. DIONNE: And Republicans are in a real catch-22, a lot of their candidates, because they know that if they get too close to Trump, they could lose a lot of voters in the middle, my common decency folks, but if they cut him off too aggressively, the Trump constituency is still a very big part of the Republican base.

JUDY WOODRUFF: There is still a constituency out there.

E.J. DIONNE: And if they lose those votes, they’re in trouble.

And that’s why I think you’re seeing timidity and uncertainty on the Republican side, because they don’t quite know what to do with Trump.

DAVID BROOKS: And I would say, it was interesting, even after the Second Amendment comment, and all that, his poll numbers were flat this week. In fact, he narrowed a little with Clinton. It’s possible we’re seeing a floor and that he can’t — he can say all sorts of crazy things, but he’s not getting above or below where he is.

JUDY WOODRUFF: If the question is, what are the options for Republican leaders, the options are what? Just to wait and watch and see what happens?

E.J. DIONNE: I think that the way — partly, it depends on individual candidates.

There are candidates in states where they know Trump is going to do very badly, and they’re already running away from Trump. There are other candidates who are, as I said, worried about this mix of votes they’re going to get. I think, more and more, you’re seeing — Republicans for Clinton is a real deal. The Clinton Republican is kind of the Reagan Democrat of this election at this point.

And I think more and more the leadership is going to look at the threat to the Senate. The Senate is very shaky, their control there right — on the numbers right now, and say, it’s not worth propping this guy up, we have got to let him go and support our candidates.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Meantime, David, it wasn’t an especially great week for Hillary Clinton, in that she did — today, we saw she put out her tax returns for the last year, adding to, I guess, a number of years.

But what the Trump camp continues to say is, wait a minute, we still want to see those e-mails. And, in fact, there were a couple of leaks this week that make it look like there was something going on between the Clinton Foundation and Hillary Clinton’s staff at the State Department.

DAVID BROOKS: And it looks like they were soliciting money and then exchanging access.

And so I think that Clinton’s overall past is not a surprise. And this is contrast, say, the Obama coterie. The Obama coterie doesn’t get in mini-scandals. The Clintons’ coterie gets in constant mini-scandals. And it’s never decisive. They never break their, end their political careers, but there’s just the whiff of scandal. And this goes back to the Rose Law Firm. This goes back for decades.

And this is just part of their pattern, where what they’re doing is probably not disqualifying. If we got rid of everybody in Washington who sold access for donations, then the town would be empty. But it’s unseemly.

And so I think it rises to the level of unseemly, unseemliness, which confirms a lot of the mistrust people have.

JUDY WOODRUFF: How much of a problem is it for her?

E.J. DIONNE: Well, just to say, I don’t think we have the evidence yet that they sold access for contributions.

And the Justice Department decided not to look into this. Nevertheless, I think the existence of the Clinton Foundation is a problem for her. My notion is that if she were ever elected president — and if I were she, I would announce it ahead of time — I would announce that for the duration of my presidency, this is going to become the Eisenhower-Kennedy Foundation.

Let’s pick the two popular presidents when Bill and Hillary Clinton were kids or were young. Let David and Susan Eisenhower, Caroline Kennedy be trustees. Just push this aside, because you can even borrow from Prince, formerly known as the Clinton Foundation.

But you just don’t want these stories coming out continually, even if there is nothing actionable in terms of the law. And I would just kind of push this aside, because you have never had a chance where a former president — they all have these foundations of one kind of another — actually has his spouse in the White House.

They got to figure out what to do with this.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But, meantime, you do have — there was this instance where Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff at the State Department went up to New York and was involved in important meetings at the Clinton Foundation.

Is there something wrong with that, David?

DAVID BROOKS: I think minorly. Apparently, she paid her own way.

I think minorly. As I say, the way life works, not only in Washington, but in every business that I have ever heard of, is that a friend wants something and you want them to give money to a good cause, and so, you know, people join boards of directors to make some professional connections.

There is no pure line between those things. So, would it be better if there was a pure line in some ideal world? Would it be better if the Clintons didn’t have a predilection for blurring every line that they could? That would be better.

But, again, I think it’s the width, but I don’t think it’s — I can’t get super angry about it, to be honest.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And, E.J., you’re saying it’s — you don’t see anything there that is actionable, actionable?

E.J. DIONNE: I don’t think we have seen anything actionable yet.

What the Clinton people are saying is, look, every big foundation of this sort deals with aides, or other problems in the world, always have interactions with the State Department.

But, as I say, people are going to keep asking these questions as long as the Clinton Foundation is around and as long as she is in public life. So, I’m against Trump’s wall with Mexico, but they need some kind of wall here to protect themselves and to kind of push these stories away.

DAVID BROOKS: It would be a good experiment to know how much money they would actually raise as the Truman-Kennedy foundation. It might be $1.29 a year, but…

E.J. DIONNE: Lot of love for both Ike and JFK.

DAVID BROOKS: Not from foreign lobbyists.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But, meantime, there are Clinton e-mails still out there. And we expect they are going to be out in the — leaked out into the public arena between now and the election.

Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump said something about their economic plans this week.

David, do we learn anything from this? What’s the bright line between the two of them?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, there certainly are bright lines.

I was depressed by both of them.


DAVID BROOKS: I think the country, the economy has some new, genuine challenges.

We have had incredibly laggard growth. Productivity increases have been meager and terrible. Hundreds — millions of people have dropped out of the labor force. These have all happened this century. And to me, what both Clinton and especially Trump did was have economic plans built for 1973, as if we’re going to have labor-rich manufacturing jobs come back.

Labor-rich manufacturing doesn’t exist anymore. Manufacturing jobs are white-collar, Silicon Valley programmers or highly-skilled technicians. They are not going to employ lots of people. And so we had two economic plans that had, in my view, very limited growth agendas.

Infrastructure is good, but not it. Very limited productivity agendas, and really nothing to help people who are out of the labor force. So, they were so unimaginative. They were sort of grab bags, in Clinton’s case, of either the normal policies that Democrats have been proposing 20 years, or, in Trump’s case, a mixture of weird things that are left over from supply-side and populism.

JUDY WOODRUFF: How did you read all that?

E.J. DIONNE: I saw — I thought there was more growth and sort of forward-looking stuff in the Clinton plan than David was.

I was particularly struck that she began her speech by talking about the inventiveness of companies in Michigan and how they were taking advantage of change. And it reflected this issue that Democrats have to deal with. They want to sort of talk about how things are a lot better than they were eight years ago — and they really are — but if they say that too much, they look out of touch with all the people who are hurting, whereas Trump, I thought, if you listened carefully, he’s giving the words to the workers and money to the rich.

The tax cuts that he has sort of make Reagan look like a — you know, almost like a Democrat. I mean, these are steep tax cuts for the wealthy, getting rid of the inheritance tax, the estate tax, which would be particularly good, as Hillary Clinton loves to point out…

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, he’s trimmed some of the taxes…

E.J. DIONNE: I’m sorry?

JUDY WOODRUFF: He’s trimmed some of the tax changes he’s talked about.

E.J. DIONNE: He trims it, but it’s still a huge tax cut, with nothing, no talk of compensation for the deficit or anything else.

And Hillary had fun saying that this is really good for Trump’s family and his friends, but it’s not clear who it’s going to help.

I don’t know what the net of this exchange is, but I think you’re seeing is, Clinton is not going to leave blue-collar voters to Trump. She is fighting for them. And a lot of what she’s done in the last two or three weeks has been to try to shore up her position in those swing states with a lot of blue-collar voters.

JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, well, we do get a chance to talk about the economy again. And we wanted to talk about the wonderful American results at the Olympics, these young athletes who are performing so well. But we’re going to save that for another time.

E.J. DIONNE: Simone Manuel, Katie Ledecky, Simone Biles, they can all run in 2032.


And that’s a great lead, because we have got the Olympics coming up.

David Brooks, E.J. Dionne, thank you very much.

E.J. DIONNE: Thank you.

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Brooks and Marcus on polls this week catching up with reality

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Aug 05, 2016


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JUDY WOODRUFF: And that brings us to the analysis of Brooks and Marcus. That’s New York Times columnist David Brooks and Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus.

Mark Shields is away.

Hello to both of you.

So, we’re going to get to Hillary Clinton and the e-mails in just a moment.

David, let me start with Donald Trump and the rough week that he’s had. How do you size it up? I don’t know even know where to begin, whether it’s with the Khan family or something else. What do you see when you look back at this week for Donald Trump?

DAVID BROOKS: Let’s stick with the top 150 gaffes, and that will limit our time.


DAVID BROOKS: I think the significant thing is the shift not so much in Trump’s personality — he’s been doing this kind of stuff a lot — it’s concentrated maybe this week — but the shift in the polls.

I think, finally, if you have 47 bad weeks in a row, on week 47, people begin to notice. And so this is the first time — we have been saying, he goes too far, this will really hurt him, and nothing has hurt him.

But now he’s really been hurting, and nationally, not only in a post-convention bump for the Democrats, but I think some evidence of sustained support. National, Clinton is up by 6, 7 points, if you average all the polls together.

But I think the significant thing is, if you begin to look at the state polls, and what’s Trump’s support in these crucial states that he has to win, the Wisconsins, the Michigans, the Pennsylvanias, the Colorados? And he’s at like 36, 38 percent in a lot of these states, New Hampshire, too.

And if he’s that low, and you’re trying to imagine him rising 13 points by Election Day, that’s super hard to imagine in all these different states, unless something really big happens. So this is the week, I think, that the polls really shifted, and the whole nature of the race shifted as a result.

JUDY WOODRUFF: and Ruth, we know it’s early, but these polls numbers don’t look good. What led to this for Donald Trump?

RUTH MARCUS: Donald Trump led to this for Donald Trump.


RUTH MARCUS: He took a bad week last week, when Hillary Clinton had an excellent convention, and he — it seems like ages ago now — made that good convention even more problematic for him by talking about the Russian hacking into — encouraging Russian hacking into her e-mails.

Then he had a week — and like David, you don’t know where to start. I have never seen a week in politics where a candidate, in the course of a single week, inflicted more damage on himself than normal politicians do in the course of not just a regular campaign, but in the course of an entire career.

He picked fights with everybody. He picked fights with a baby. He picked fights with the speaker of the House. He found himself splitting from his own vice president. And he just doesn’t — we have talked for a while about Donald Trump and the pivot, and the whole Republican Party has been waiting for pivot.

And I’m stealing a line from my colleague Alexandra Petri here, but waiting for pivot with Donald Trump is like waiting for Godot. It’s not going to come.

And David is exactly right. This is the week when the polls started to catch up with the reality. And I think what’s happening here is we’re not in the primary campaign anymore. We’re really in the general election season.

And these missteps, to be kind about them, really do start to have a cumulative impact.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, David Brooks, are these the kind of missteps that can’t be undone? Is that what you’re saying?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, I do think they’re not missteps in a way, because they’re not errors. They’re him.

I do think we have seen — we have seen this all along from him, two things, one, incapacity for empathy. So, a normal person looks at Mrs. Khan and sees a woman in deep pain and has an instinctual response of respect and admiration for what she has endured and sympathy. And you respond in a certain way.

But he’s shown an incapacity for that for a long time. And then the second thing is just an incapacity to control his own attention and to say things that are just inappropriate for a politician or inappropriate for a human being. And so you get these trains of thought that go on where a word sparks off a thought, that sparks off a thought, that sparks off a thought.

And it gives the impression of someone really not in control of their own attention span. And so these are characterological. And I think that is what sent the shivers through the Republican Party. And it’s become the subject of the debate this week, not did he make a mistake, but is this in a sense who he is?

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Ruth, a lot of people may be coming to that conclusion, but there are still others who are sticking with Donald Trump.

RUTH MARCUS: Sure. Like he told us, he could — Donald Trump supporters are Donald Trump supporters, and they have stuck with him through a lot of things.

As he told us, he could shoot somebody in the middle of Fifth Avenue, and it wouldn’t dissuade them. But those — you can win the Republican nomination with 10 million voters, 13 million voters. You cannot win the general election. You need 65 million voters for the general election. That’s his problem.

When you take an electorate where he’s alienated big chunks of it, right, African-Americans not for Trump, a huge swathe of the Hispanic community not for Trump, women, who make up more than half of the electorate — this week, we don’t even talk about it, because it was so minor. He made these dismissive comments about sexual harassment. If his daughter was sexually harassed, well, she should just find another career or another job, that’s the way to deal with it.

When you start alienating all these people, you are left with a shrinking pool of voters to win an election with.

And I want to say one thing about winning the election, because among the many things that — I know why the Republican Party has shivers up its spine. What put shivers up my spine with Donald Trump this week was his suggestion that, if he does lose, that the election will be rigged, because I don’t think there is evidence of that. And that is not the American way of losing elections.

When Al Gore lost the election and the Supreme Court ruled against him in 2000, he issued a gracious statement about how it was the time for healing. Donald Trump in 2012 was tweeting about the need for revolution when Mitt Romney lost.


RUTH MARCUS: And so I’m very nervous about what could happen, not just if Donald Trump wins, but if he loses.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But, David Brooks, there presumably are some Americans who think an election like this could be rigged. Do we think that’s why Donald Trump raised that?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, his campaign — I still think he’s the wrong answer to a right problem, that the people who support him, some of them are — have some racist tendencies, and some sexist and some very ugliness.

But a lot of people support him for good reasons. And we shouldn’t totally dismiss the support there. And he did raise $82 million over the recent period. So there is some real fervent support there. And they’re people who have lost faith in the system, and they have lost faith in America, and they have lost faith in the idea that, if I do A, I will get B, that the normal chain of responsibility is working for them.

And so they — Ruth is right. They could take a look at an election defeat and decide that the whole system is rigged and their level of cynicism could go up another notch, if they’re — if that is inflamed. And that’s the danger that was Ruth was pointing to.

I do think there’s a problem here this week — because he’s not going away, because he has this base of support — for other Republicans.


DAVID BROOKS: If he would just go away, then they would have an option.

But I do think they can no longer sustain the position they have had, which is, I really have contempt for this Trump action, that Trump statement, and that Trump statement, but I still support the guy.

I think that’s becoming much more untenable for them. And they have to think of a plan B.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And that’s the question I really did want to ask both of you.

Ruth, what about that? I mean, how long can a number of these Republicans who are saying disagree with him on a number of things, but I’m still going to support him because I don’t like Hillary Clinton?

RUTH MARCUS: Well, the ones who are up for reelection are in just a very exquisitely difficult situation, because there is a group of core Republican Party voters who will punish them if they divorce themselves from Trump, but there is a group of voters in the middle who will punish them if they don’t divorce themselves from Trump.

So I’m thinking about somebody like Senator Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire, who — Trump is down 15 points in her state. She was down 10 points in a very close, difficult race against the governor there, Maggie Hassan, for reelection. What’s a Kelly Ayotte to do?

And then you have those sort of leaders of the congressional wing, who I think eventually will come up with — and you started to see it this week — come up with a plan B, much like with Bob Dole in 1996, which is to say, OK, you don’t like Trump voters, but keep us Republicans in charge to keep a check on that dangerous President Clinton who is coming in there.

JUDY WOODRUFF: In the Senate and the House.

RUTH MARCUS: In the Senate and the House.

JUDY WOODRUFF: David, I want to — I do want to turn to Hillary Clinton.

We heard Lisa Desjardins’s report sort of dissecting what Hillary Clinton said today, what she said in the past about these e-mails. Otherwise, Hillary Clinton has been a pretty quiet figure over the last week or so. She’s been the beneficiary of Trump’s problems. But how much does this lingering set of questions around the e-mails stand to hurt her?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, her best move, given what Trump has been doing in the last week or two, is just to be boring. And she has a capacity to do that. So she’s been laying low.

I do think that we’re now parsing how many e-mails, where the C was on the e-mail. And Lisa laid it out, for anybody who wants to just — what exactly happened. But I do think the damage done to her, which is lingering, is just in the idea of having a separate server, that the basic fact of the situation was that she was playing outside the rules.

She has this strong distrust of the system at large, and, therefore, she’s building walls around herself and her e-mails and her communication. And so the secretiveness and incommunicativeness that has surrounded her the last couple of decades is really the core of this scandal, not exactly how many servers she had or what she said at this press conference.

And that does certainly link…

JUDY WOODRUFF: Ruth, how do you see this?

RUTH MARCUS: I’m going to be harder here on Hillary Clinton than David was, because there is the original sin of not having a regular State Department e-mail and the separate server.

But then there is the second sin, or I would call it just political malpractice of her inability/refusal to come up with an honest, credible, consistent, non=-parsing explanation for what was going on here.

So, she took a bad situation, and she has consistently and almost every time she has addressed this situation, made it worse, instead of making it better. And it just goes to what has always been her biggest weakness, which is that honesty and trustworthiness. They started out with a problem, and they kept digging that hole.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, David, what kind of damage are we talking about for her? Have we already seen the maximum damage this issue could do to her? Could it grow?

DAVID BROOKS: I don’t think it will grow. I think we’re in the petering-down phase of it.

But she’s distrusted, and she is distrusted largely. Her favorable/unfavorable is actually getting a little better. So, I think it’s — people have factored in that she can lie, that she’s very secretive, that she’s insular, that she is not the most super likable person in the political landscape.

But, right now, it’s certainly not — and it’s keeping her numbers pretty low, by the way. I talked about how low Trump’s numbers are in a lot of these states. Hers are significantly higher, but they’re not where a Barack Obama, a Bill Clinton or George W. Bush or Ronald Reagan would be. She is still a significantly unpopular politician. She just happens to be the luckiest politician in America, running against a guy who is super unpopular.


JUDY WOODRUFF: Thirty seconds, Ruth.

RUTH MARCUS: Super unpopular and super incapable of containing himself.

So, if somebody had locked Donald Trump in a room and taken away his cell phone this week, what would we have been talking about all week? E-mails and Hillary Clinton’s interviews. Instead, we were talking about the Khans and everything else.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And there may be more to talk about next week.

RUTH MARCUS: There most certainly will.


JUDY WOODRUFF: Ruth Marcus, David Brooks, have a great weekend. Thank you both.

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Shields and Brooks on which convention was more successful, Clinton’s failure to emotionally connect

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Jul 29, 2016


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JUDY WOODRUFF: And with that, we turn to the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

So, gentlemen, looking back on those highlights from both Cleveland and Philadelphia, what does it make you think, Mark?

MARK SHIELDS: It makes me think that the Democrats — this was my 24th convention. And I think this was as good a Democratic Convention as I have seen since the 1976 convention, which nominated Jimmy Carter, which was — he left with a 30-point lead over President Ford.

I just thought it was a spectacularly successful convention. I don’t think Hillary Clinton’s speech was spectacular, but I don’t think she’s a spectacular speaker. But I thought their messages worked. And certainly the national security and preempting both faith and country and patriotism from the Republicans, which had been the Republican symbols for so long, was effective.


DAVID BROOKS: Yes. Well, the Democrats had the better convention by a long way. It’s rare we see the gap so big, frankly.

They controlled the debate. Donald Trump tried to set up this debate where it was going to be globalists vs. nationalists, and the Republicans were going to be the nationalists. But, if anything, the Democrats looked more patriotic and more nationalist at the end of these two.

And so that was a big win. And I agree with Mark. The whole presentation was just powerful. It’s funny. Maybe it just because I’m tired, but the further away you get, the less you know about the convention, and it boils down to a core theme, to one thing.

And so for the Republican Convention, I think of Trump’s speech and sort of the darkness, the fear of crime, the need for a strong arm really, and so that one core theme.

And then, for the Democratic one, I really think of Trump erratic. I think that was the big message that came out. The positive agenda for Hillary was a little less vibrant.

And of those two, I do think that the — right now, at least in my mind, the Democratic theme is eclipsing the Republican one. So, the Democrats won this volley, I think.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Mark, we’re hearing today that the numbers of people watching the conventions was a little bit higher for the Republican Convention.

How much do these conventions set the stage for the rest of this campaign? I think it’s, what, 101 days between now and the Election Day.

MARK SHIELDS: Well, if David and I are right, which is…

JUDY WOODRUFF: Ninety-nine percent of the time.

MARK SHIELDS: … a very long shot, then Hillary Clinton should get a bounce out of this convention, I mean a bounce in the polls. I think it’s probably conceded that Donald Trump got about a three-point bounce out of his conventions. He’s closed the gap that much.

And if she doesn’t, I mean, after what was a good convention — this is when you have the unfiltered message of your party and your candidate to the country, even a slice of the country, for four full days — then I think it’s some cause for alarm for the Democrats.

But, you know, I think what we’re looking at next, Judy, is the debates. You know, barring something major, a mishap on one side or a tragedy or a scandal, I think, you know, we’re looking at the debates, because I think that’s the kind of race it’s going to be.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And they don’t start, David, until the end of September and then into October. So, do these conventions, do they define this race going forward?

DAVID BROOKS: I think to some degree.

But now it’s my turn to rain on progressive overconfidence, because the two weakest speeches, major ones, for the Democrats were the two candidates, not that they were bad. They just weren’t up to the level of Biden’s, the Obamas, and Bloomberg’s even.

And so you have got two candidates on the Democratic side who may be making sense, may agree or disagree. They’re just not as vibrant personalities as Donald Trump.

And so, over the next month, until the debates, I expect Trump to do what he’s done very successfully, which is, whether you like him or not, he will be the dominant player here. He will be the one on offense. He will be the one serving volleys, and it may be some weird stuff about the Russians, but he will be controlling things a little more than he probably did over the last two weeks.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And is that now the way elections get decided, Mark?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, let me just dissent a little bit from David.

I think Donald Trump is obviously the more colorful, the more flamboyant, the more dominant personality. But take the Russia issue. You open up the convention, and you have got a report that the Democratic Party has been hacked by the Russians, e-mails, the e-mails of the Democratic Party, which is a headline and words that you don’t want, if you’re Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

And Donald Trump immediately takes the story and basically steps on the advantage he has and say, well, the Russians, who am I to tell Putin? You know, the Russians ought to come in and continue to hack our — and find out where the e-mails are.

I mean, it was — it was wrong, it was irresponsible, and it was unhelpful to his candidacy. In a strange way — there are a couple thoughts of David that reminded me of this — an awful lot of people don’t ordinarily have day-to-day contact with police officers.

In both Cleveland and Philadelphia, the police were enormously, enormously impressive, I mean, their temperament, to use a word that’s going to be central…


JUDY WOODRUFF: You don’t mean the police on the stage. You mean the police in the street.

MARK SHIELDS: No, I mean the police in the streets.

I mean, I really — the interaction with the police. They had to be tired. You know, they had a lot of jerks, including several in the press. And it was hot. It was hot. And they had long hours, and they were just so professional and so cool.

But it strikes me that it’s the competing pronouns that the Democrats did effectively, I vs. we. It’s we the people. And Donald Trump says nobody knows it like me, I can do it.

And I think that was a very effective construct in framing this race.


Just to pick up on the cops, we don’t really — I hadn’t really thought about it, but we all agree they did such a good job by not being overaggressive.


DAVID BROOKS: But for Donald Trump — just the political effects of that, Donald Trump’s argument is essentially it’s 1968, the cities are burning.

And if something really bad had happened in one of those two cities, that would have underlined that theme.

MARK SHIELDS: That’s right.

DAVID BROOKS: And nothing bad happened.

And so — but that doesn’t mean we’re not — it’s settled. Events are in the saddle here. If ISIS really begins a sort of continual series of weird, random attacks around the world, then that does underline the theme.

And that goes back to something I have been saying for the last couple of weeks, is, we’re not quite sure what ball game we’re playing here. If we’re playing the normal political rules, where you want to have people loving each other, compassionate, working together, being generous toward each other, being well-informed about the issues, well, if those are the rules, then the Democrats are doing really well.

But if we’re in some sort of Hobbesian state of nature, where you just want a strong man who has no compassion, who you just want a toughness, well, then that — by those rules, Donald Trump is going to do a little better. So, we will figure out what game we’re playing.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Which is what the Democrats were trying to say for three or four days — for four days, Mark, which, is, we don’t need this. We’re a strong people. We’re a good people and we don’t need some bully telling us what to do.

MARK SHIELDS: No, exactly. And the president did that, I thought. President Obama did.

In a strange way, Hillary Clinton was helped and victimized by Mr. and Mrs. Obama. I think Michelle Obama gave a speech…

JUDY WOODRUFF: Victimized? Really?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, politically, because they were just — you were talking about — I mean, Michelle Obama was probably better than Barack Obama, if you think about it.

Her speech is a masterful, masterful speech. And she delivered it in a persuasively conversational tone. You can’t say this is a political attack or a political document. It was just — so, in a strange way, she’s getting compared to — instead of to Donald Trump, she’s being compared to Joe Biden, who gave this emotional valedictory about America and his life, and both Obamas, who were dominant.

Tim Kaine reminds me of — Peter Hart, the pollster, has a question when he asks about presidential or vice presidential candidates, what kind of a neighbor would they be? And several Democrats — George W. Bush was always seen to be a good friendly neighbor who would pick up the newspapers if you were out of town or check your mail.

Tim Kaine is a good neighbor. He’s kind of the dependable, you know, friendly, helpful. And, you know, he would be over there. He would give you a hand if there were a problem at the house.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But does that help Hillary Clinton?


MARK SHIELDS: It does, because it gives Hillary Clinton — what they didn’t address at this convention is Hillary Clinton’s problems of her personality and her secrecy.

They tried through testimony. She just can’t open up herself. She can’t make fun of herself. She can’t be self-deprecating, or at least, if she can, she wasn’t, made the decision not to be. And so Tim Kaine kind of gives the warmer, human face of the Democrats.

DAVID BROOKS: But if she’s elected, this will be an issue and this will be a problem for her.

It’s important for presidents to emotionally connect, with the country in times of crisis, but also with people in Washington. If you can’t emotionally connect — and Obama is not the greatest, but he can at least do it — then people won’t be with you when the times are hard.

There will just always be a distance between you and the people around you. Now, she can clearly emotionally connect with her intimates within the zone of trust. It’s just the wall outside the zone of trust is so impermeable. And so I do think — I was really struck, like every pundit, from Mark and I on down…

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, on down, for sure.


JUDY WOODRUFF: You guys are right up there.

DAVID BROOKS: Everyone is saying, show some vulnerability, emote, emote, emote.


DAVID BROOKS: And they must have said that internally. And she’s still — she’s such a private person. She just didn’t do it.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But it almost sounds like you’re both saying — I don’t want to use the word doomed, but that the cake is baked, and she’s not going to be able to relate and open up.

I mean, but Donald Trump is relating…


MARK SHIELDS: This was a great opportunity to open up. It was on her terms. It was nonadversarial. It was in her control. And she chose not to.

I do disagree just with David on her vs. Obama inside in dealing. I think she would be far superior to President Obama, who is basically remote, aloof and not involved with — he doesn’t deal with members of Congress. And he plays golf every time with three staff members.

He never, ever thinks of including a John Boehner or anybody else, which is very easy to do. But he obviously views golf as his time, and that alone.

But she showed, while in the Senate, that ability to connect and reach across and to forge alliances. I think she will be better. But I think the problem with connecting emotionally with the people remains at large is — in a wholesale way.

DAVID BROOKS: I stand corrected. That seems true to me, what he just said.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But then you’re getting back — and we just have a minute or so — but you’re getting to the point that somebody who is good at governing may not be great at campaigning.


MARK SHIELDS: And the inverse, too. There are people who are great campaigners who aren’t…

DAVID BROOKS: Right. And we can certainly point to examples of that.

I think Mitch Daniels, the former governor of Indiana was a case of that, who was an outstanding administrator.

MARK SHIELDS: That’s right.

DAVID BROOKS: He was not a bad governor. He could be playful, but — or communicator.

I’m just saying it will — I think will be — every candidate comes into the White House, assuming if she wins, or if she does win, with strengths and weaknesses. This will be a weakness, because this was such an easy moment to show some heart.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, it was just a thrill to spend the last two weeks with — for Gwen and me to spend the last two weeks.



MARK SHIELDS: You couldn’t pass a polygraph test right now.


JUDY WOODRUFF: We just want you to go and get some sleep this weekend, like the rest of us want.

Thank you very much.

MARK SHIELDS: Thank you.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And we will see you next Friday.

MARK SHIELDS: Thanks very much.

The post Shields and Brooks on which convention was more successful, Clinton’s failure to emotionally connect appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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