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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 Mattis, the Carrier deal and Pelosi’s re-election

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Dec 02, 2016


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JUDY WOODRUFF: Now back to politics and a whole week full of Cabinet picks.

Time to turn to the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

Welcome, gentlemen.

And I know you have been paying very close attention to every one of these nominations, Mark.

And, David, so it’s James Mattis to Defense this week, Tom Price, the congressman, to Health and Human Services, Steve Mnuchin to Treasury.

David, what stands out here? What do you think of what Mr. Trump is doing?

DAVID BROOKS: I have to say, he’s exceeding expectations.

Sometimes, during the campaign, he seemed to be actively trying to misgovern. And here he seems to be to have an effective administration. They’re not all the people I would pick. But he won the election. Some of them are not only good for Trump, but genuinely good picks.

General Mattis, I think, is in that. He’s a scholarly man, a good leader, a man with subtle foreign policy views. Others are experienced, Elaine Chao, who has already been. Other people, Tom Price, are experienced legislators. And so they’re people who know their way around Washington, while I think representing the Trump world view.

And so I think, in general, for those of us who were a little skeptical of Trump, it’s, I would say, exceeding expectations.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Exceeding expectations, Mark?

MARK SHIELDS: A little skeptical?


MARK SHIELDS: Wow. That’s dialing it back.


MARK SHIELDS: Judy, I am pleased, relieved, and almost thrilled with the appointment of General James Mattis as secretary of defense.


MARK SHIELDS: General Joe Dunford is the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine, former commandant. And now General Mattis, former Marine, so you can be sure that there will be a lot of sniping from the Army, the Navy, because the Marines are the smallest force.

But why am I pleased? Everything that David said about General Mattis is true. He is a scholar. He’s independent. He’s thoughtful. He’s smart. He’s a great leader.

The Marines have a rule, unlike any other military branch I know: Officers eat last, OK? That is, no officer eats until the sergeants, the corporals, the privates under his command have first been fed.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And you speak from personal experience.

MARK SHIELDS: And nobody embodied that more than Jim Mattis. He was very much an enlisted man’s general.

And the one quick anecdote, and that is, when General Charles Krulak was commandant of the Marine Corps, every Christmas — this was in the late ’90s — he and his wife would bake cookies for the last couple weeks before Christmas. And he would get up at 4:00 in the morning with General Krulak and deliver them in little packages to the Marines who were standing duty that day, because every Marine base, every Marine post has be somebody standing duty.

And he showed up at Quantico and he asked the Marine lance corporal who was on duty, where is the officer of the day and who it is? He said, it’s General Mattis, sir. He said, no, no, it’s not General Mattis. I mean, who is the officer of the day? And he said, it’s General Mattis, sir.

And up comes Jim Mattis and a general, brigadier general, and he is on duty and he has got his sword. And the commandant says, what are you doing here? He said, well, there was a young lieutenant who was on duty today, and he has a wife and two children. And I thought it was better that he have Christmas with his family.

That’s the kind of man he is. It’s the kind of values he’s embodied. He’s independent. He’s strong. And he will be good for the country.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Wow. Well, we’re off to some high praise here.

Let’s talk about something else that Donald Trump did this week. And that is, the first public speech he made since the election, he went to Indianapolis, and announced a deal that he’s cut with the Carrier Corporation, air conditioners, furnaces, to save 1,000 jobs, not all the jobs that were going to Mexico, but a lot of them.

What kind of precedent does this set? What are we to make of it?

DAVID BROOKS: I agree with Sarah Palin on this one.


DAVID BROOKS: She wrote an op-ed today where she called it crony capitalism and a source of corruption.

And I think that’s true. The job of government is to be a level playing field where companies compete and make money honestly. And by rewarding one company over another, by getting involved in these sort of petty deals, the first thing you’re doing is encouraging rent-seeking, for companies to make money off government, rather than the honest way.

And the second thing, it’s — and especially in this administration, it’s an invitation to corruption. If you’re cutting deals with company after company, doing this kind of deal, that kind of deal, inevitably, there is going to be a quid pro quo. There is going to be under-the-table lobbying.

And it’s just a terrible precedent for our economy and for the administration.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Even with the 1,000 jobs?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, first of all, it’s a very expensive way to save 1,000 jobs.

Second of all, Carrier is owned — the parent company is United Technologies, a defense contractor, totally dependent on U.S. government interests for their well-being.

If we can’t lean on these people and negotiate a good deal with them, and where we have to pay $700,000 in tax credits to save 1,000 jobs, it’s a bad deal, even from that perspective. It’s very expensive.



Are you as worried about it?

MARK SHIELDS: No, I’m not as worried about it.

I think it is bad public policy. I think it’s a political masterstroke. I think Donald Trump raised this issue during the campaign. When it first appeared, when Carrier showed the gross insensitivity, where it was on YouTube, where they went in and told the 1,000 workers that their jobs were leaving, that the company was leaving, and it was just — it was abjectly insensitive to the workers. And Donald Trump picked that up. It was part of his prairie populism of the time, unlike his Cabinet appointments to Treasury and Commerce.

But I think, Judy, there is 1,000 people who are going to have Christmas who weren’t going to have Christmas. And were there deals cut? Sure. And have there been deals cut on crony capitalism in the past? Yes. It’s always gone to the company. And it’s been a long time.

I give Barack Obama great credit for the rescue of the United States automobile industry. It saved hundreds of thousands of jobs. But the fact is, we have had deals cut, and the jobs have ended up going elsewhere.

And I think Donald Trump, this is a masterstroke that he said he would do something, he did it, and it’s been a long time since the president of the United States has made that kind of an announcement.

JUDY WOODRUFF: What would you say back?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, first of all, there will be 1,000 people who will have Christmas. That’s true. But there will be a lot of people who will be paying for that.

Second of all, you will have a less efficient economy, so there will be less job creation. Third, when companies ship jobs overseas, they don’t like just take the factory and then move it abroad. They gradually do what is in their economic best interests, which is to scale back production here or flatline it and scale it up there.

If the economics is still favoring a job in Mexico over a job in Indiana, Carrier will still be doing it, but they will be getting a lot of taxpayer money, and we will have a sludgier economy.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Mark, this isn’t just a drop in the bucket, in the face of an enormous — enormous economic changes?

MARK SHIELDS: No, of course it is. But did he do something that positively affected people’s lives? Yes.

Is it a coherent national macro-policy? No. But as a micro-act, it’s a very positive act politically. And I think it reflects better upon him and his commitment to these people and their well-being and their survival than an awful lot that’s happened in the past.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we have been talking a lot about Donald Trump.

I do want to bring up the Democrats today, because this week in the House, David, they voted again on their leadership, Nancy Pelosi reelected to be the minority leader, but with not as large a vote as the last time. She won two-thirds against a challenge from an Ohio congressman, Tim Ryan.

What’s going on with the Democrats? You’re hearing more of them speak out and say, we don’t like the kind of campaign that Hillary Clinton ran, we have got to be worried about things that we weren’t worried about in this election.

DAVID BROOKS: I don’t think they’re that far along.

Republicans were preparing for a big defeat and then reorganization. Democrats were preparing for victory. So I don’t think the Democrats are that far along on where the party should go.

But you can see the objection to Pelosi. She’s — the top three leaders in the House on the Democratic side are all in their mid-70s. She’s some San Francisco, not exactly — if you’re trying to reach Ohio.

And is she a fresh face for the party in an era of change? Well, no. On the other hand, she’s a really good tactician and a good legislative leader. And I can see why she ended up winning, because it’s a local race. And they probably wanted somebody who could master the craft of legislation. And, plus, they all owe her to a great degree.

So, it’s a testimony to her that, even in an extremely adverse climate, it’s a testament to what people think of her skills, I would say, that she ended up winning, you know, still by a reasonably comfortable margin.

JUDY WOODRUFF: What do you make of this?

MARK SHIELDS: I think David is right in his assessment of Leader Pelosi.

The fact that she’s from San Francisco, if anything, is a help, in the sense that you want a leader who can take tough positions and not jeopardize their own survival. That’s one of the things you want in a leader.

She has been a very formidable leader. She was a great speaker. But I think for the people — and it was a considerable vote. A third of her caucus voted against her. Only 12 people came out publicly and were willing to stand up with Tim Ryan, but, in private, 64 or 63 came out and voted in the secret ballot for him.

If there had been 35 that had come out, then maybe there might have been 75 or 80 who had been so emboldened to vote outside. But she did prevail, for the reason that David cited.

In addition to that, to put the folks on Nancy Pelosi is absolutely ludicrous. The Democrats have an enormous problem. Today, as we sit here, there are five states in the United States that have a Democratic governor and two houses of the legislature controlled by Democrats. That’s the lowest in the history.

There are 12 fewer Democratic senators than there were the day that Barack Obama was sworn in. There are 16 fewer Democratic governors than there were the day. Nobody redistricts state lines than there were the day that Barack Obama was sworn in. There are 63 fewer House members. There are fewer Democratic state legislators today in the 50 states than there have been at any time in history, at any time in history.

So, Judy — ever since 1900, I should say. But I look at this and say, the Democratic Party is noncompetitive west of New Jersey, all the way to Carson City, Nevada, with the exception of the blue island of Illinois and Latino-strengthened states of New Mexico and Colorado.

Other than that, it’s red. And they’re not competitive. And to just say it’s Nancy Pelosi’s fault and that her replacement would somehow solve their problems is self-deception writ large.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, are there solutions out there, David?

DAVID BROOKS: It’s not her fault. I wouldn’t say she’s the solution, though.

And so which way does the Democratic Party go? I think it’s likely that they will go in the Elizabeth Warren direction. And that may not be stupid. There may be a populist way to tap into what Trump popped into.

But so far that has never happened. So far, when they have gone left, whether it’s Howard Dean or Jesse Jackson, they have lost the heartland. And they have lost people who are angry at government, but don’t seem to be angry at business.

And so going to the center would violate all the momentum you feel on the left, but I do think there is some case to be made for it.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Are you saying that’s what happened in this election, I mean, in the 2016…

DAVID BROOKS: Well, they culturally lost.

Part of the problem is simply Democrats as individuals, not as a political party, are moving to very few places. And so they’re clustering. And that’s just a demographic problem for the party.

MARK SHIELDS: When Barack Obama was reelected in 2012 with the majority of the vote in the country, first president since Eisenhower to win a popular majority in consecutive elections, he failed to carry a majority of congressional districts.

That hasn’t happened since 1960. I mean, so the Democrats are not competitive in large swathes of the country. They’re a coastal party. I think they have become — and I think Nancy Pelosi bears some of the burden on this — I think they have become too culturally liberal a party.

I think that there’s been a willingness to emphasize LGBTQ issues, rather than working-class issues of people in declining incomes and families falling behind and Carrier jobs leaving.

I think that’s been — that the Democrats have become a party that, quite honestly, is more emphasizing the cultural issues. And I think that’s been to their disadvantage in their national appeal.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And on that note, maybe the Democrats will have an autopsy like the Republicans had.

MARK SHIELDS: It certainly helped them.

JUDY WOODRUFF: It certainly did. It did.


MARK SHIELDS: It was a good autopsy.


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

The post Shields and Brooks on Mattis, the Carrier deal and Pelosi’s re-election appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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Shields and Brooks on cabinet picks and conflicts of interest

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Nov 25, 2016


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

And we welcome both of you on this day after Thanksgiving.

MARK SHIELDS: Thank you.

JUDY WOODRUFF: David is in Philadelphia.

Let’s talk about — we’re getting — beginning to get a sense, Mark, of Donald Trump’s administration, a little sense. He has named two more people today to the White House. What are we learning from this? What are we — what do you now understand about him that we didn’t understand before?


I mean, I would say that there’s been the small Donald, the petty, vindictive Donald, who can be rather mean-spirited, as he was on display at The New York Times editorial board meeting, where he gratuitously took out after Kelly Ayotte, the former Republican — senior Republican senator in New Hampshire, who had — after the “Access Hollywood” tape had refused to support Donald Trump and said she couldn’t get a job.

And then we see the little bit larger Donald in hiring Nikki Haley, who had, in fact, backed both Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz and in the national address, in response — the official Republican response to the president’s State of the Union, had warned the party against following the siren call of those — it was a direct allusion to Donald Trump at the time.

So he was larger in spirit in choosing her. And she certainly is a person who has demonstrated leadership and character under stress at the time of the massacre, the racial massacre at the Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston and leading in lowering the Confederate Battle Flag over the state — on the state capitol grounds.



JUDY WOODRUFF: Excuse me. I didn’t mean to interrupt.


JUDY WOODRUFF: What are you learning about Donald Trump from these appointments or announcements?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, I guess it’s — yes, of some comfort, I guess.

Sometimes, the campaign seemed to be, as Mark said, vindictive, but sort of a depraved three-ring circus. The transition period has not been that. He’s nominated people like DeVos or Haley who are competent people, who are more or less professional, experienced people.

They may not be, on substantive ground, all of our cup of tea. They are very consistent with the way he campaigned, a nationalist campaign on education policy, a campaign that is enthusiastic about school choice.

But they are more or less the sort of professional version of Trump’s ideology. And I do think there is just this animating spirit here to create a sort of nationalist, populist conservatism that will in some ways stretch the Republican Party and in some ways offend a lot of conservatives.

But I think there is an animating vision here to try to create a movement that will last post-Trump, a populist movement that may even try to span some of the dividing lines that have existed so far through large economic policies, through infrastructure policies, through a tough anti-terror policy that nonetheless keeps American troops out of war.

There’s an animating vision here, and it’s being executed, at least in the appointments so far, in some intellectually coherent way.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, a movement in the making maybe?

MARK SHIELDS: A movement in the making — I guess I don’t share David’s enthusiasm about Betsy DeVos.

I mean, 90 percent of American schoolchildren are in public schools, Judy. And the emphasis on private schools and charter schools and parochial schools is not unimportant. I don’t mean that, but we’re at 90 percent. We’re heading to 91 percent will be in public schools.

I’m not sure Betsy DeVos has ever spent a day in a public school. And I don’t — I’m pretty sure Donald Trump hasn’t. So, I do look upon the secretary of education’s primary responsibility as the quality of education that — and improving the education that every child in American public schools receives.

JUDY WOODRUFF: What about that, David? What about Betsy…


JUDY WOODRUFF: Go ahead, yes.

DAVID BROOKS: Yes. First of all, charter schools are public schools. They’re paid for publicly and they’re part of the public system. They just have a more independent structure.

And so I guess I would say, we need a reform movement. We have seen, I think, in the charter school movement started out, whatever it was, 10 or 15 years ago — it’s increasingly gotten better. Charter schools are figuring out how to do this. The charter schools that are most effective are scaling the most quickly, and so there’s got to be a continued move for reform.

At the same time, the teachers unions are pushing at that reform, has had some political successes. And so I think charter schools, choice, and frankly school standards need a champion. And DeVos has been a good pretty champion.

Now, I don’t — she’s not without fault. You have got to have two things in education reform. You have got to have some flexibility, so people can figure out what to do. But you also have to have accountable, basically what the Common Core standards were, some sort of set of national standards, so we can measure.

It’s hard for parents just to measure schools. DeVos has been really good at the flexibility. She’s not been enthusiastic about the accountability. So, she’s a complete — an incomplete operator.

But I do think — I have met her a few times. She’s a normal person, a sophisticated person, in some ways a self-effacing person. And she has been at least a champion of reform, if maybe too much emphasizing choice, not enough, in my view, emphasizing charters.

JUDY WOODRUFF: You want to come…



I mean, I just — I applaud David’s interest in, enthusiasm for charter schools. It’s a very mixed record, and particularly in Detroit, where that’s — the emphasis has been. It’s less than mixed. It’s really discouraging.

And in the final analysis, American public education — American education will be determined by the quality of American public education, and that’s public schools that are available. The charter school is a possibility, an alternative in certain circumstances, but not in most, and not in most places, and not — most parents don’t have either the time, the inclination or the aptitude to sit and go through sifting what school and what is available and what the options are.

They are dependent upon the quality of their neighborhood and local schools.

JUDY WOODRUFF: David, I want to…

DAVID BROOKS: If I could just make…

JUDY WOODRUFF: Go ahead, yes.

DAVID BROOKS: … one more point on that quickly.


DAVID BROOKS: Just, as I have traveled around from school to school, whether it’s project-based learning or an outward bound curriculum, it’s very hard to tell the difference between charters and public anymore. There’s no fine line.

They’re often adopting very similar programs, maybe with a different administrative structure. But what I’m saying is, you’re seeing reform throughout the movement, in the so-called charters, in the so-called publics, if we’re going to call them that. And that reform dynamism has to be kept going.

JUDY WOODRUFF: David, I also want to bring up with both of you the questions I think that came up day after day this last week about Donald Trump’s business connections, his business — deep business interests and how that’s going to work as president of the United States.

It came up in John Yang’s conversation just now with Jack Quinn, the former White House counsel. How do you see that developing? Do you see it as a problem? Do you see it as something that Trump is going to be able to handle? What do you see?

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I would invite viewers to go back and read a book by a guy named George Washington Plunkitt of Tammany Hall, who had a concept called honest graft, where his own public — private interest corresponded to public interest.

That’s what Trumps seems to be advocating, merging the two. It’s just bad news. And I hope the new presumed White House counsel will just say, this is not going to work. You have got to have a bright line between these two things. We’re no longer living in Tammany Hall America. And it will just lead to scandal after scandal that will end up hurting your own administration.


MARK SHIELDS: I think David is absolutely right, Judy.

I think it’s very serious. I mean, when the — you have got 70 days between the election and taking office, an enormous responsibility. And when you spend that time actually meeting with Indian business investors for a Trump apartment complex in Mumbai, when you meet with Nigel Farage and raise the question of eliminating the wind farm because it would hurt the view at Donald Trump’s golf course in Scotland and urges a change in policy, I mean, this is the man who doesn’t understand the difference between public policy, public trust and private interest.

When you see Ivanka Trump hawking the $10,000 bracelet that she wore on the “60 Minutes” broadcast from her jewelry — presidential trust is something, Judy, that’s perishable and it’s precious. And once a president loses it, it’s not a question of whether it’s conflict of interests laws or there aren’t conflict of interests laws.

The president has to have the trust, earn the trust, maintain the trust of people in order to lead. And there’s nothing that will lose it quicker than a sense that he’s in it for a quick buck.

JUDY WOODRUFF: David, do you want to add anything on that? Because I do want to move on to what is apparently — what seems to be a split inside Trump world over who is going to be secretary of state.

We saw Kellyanne Conway, who has been sort of the face of the Trump transition, tweeting openly just yesterday that they’re picking up a lot of criticism about the fact that he’s considering Mitt Romney.

What does this tell us about folks inside Trump world who may be dismayed at where Donald Trump is headed?

DAVID BROOKS: I’m looking forward to the live tweets of the Oval Office meetings in the Trump administration.


DAVID BROOKS: There’s certainly a lot of chaos and openness that they’re saying so far.

I think Trump is sort of — from what we can see from his comments, sort of attracted to the idea of a Romney. He looks the part, as Trump — looks are very important to Donald Trump.

And so — but I do think there is some sign of respectability. Personally, I think Mitt Romney would be a great secretary of state. He knows a lot. He’s a very professional — a consummate professional.

Frankly, if I were Donald Trump, I would be a little suspicious. It’s very easy to imagine he’s got his America first crew in the National Security Council. Mitt Romney’s a more internationalist. It’s easy to see him setting up a foreign policy establishment over there in the State Department that would be a rival to the White House, and maybe that’s a good thing.

But, if I were Donald Trump, it’s not necessarily what I would want in my foreign policy apparatus.

JUDY WOODRUFF: What do you think of the split?

MARK SHIELDS: Now that David has sunk Mitt Romney’s chances…



MARK SHIELDS: … separate entity over at the State Department.

To me, it’s fascinating. It’s a choice. Trump loves loyalty. He prizes loyalty, who was with him. Rudy was with him. Rudy, you will recall, was the moderate Republican mayor of New York who was for immigration rights, for gun control, for abortion rights, for gay rights.

He abandoned those positions to endorse Donald Trump after a disastrous run for president and gave a speech at the convention that sounded like a New York cab driver stuck in traffic at 4:30 in the afternoon.


MARK SHIELDS: It was a rant.

He went on, Judy, to say, if you will recall, eight years before — eight years prior to Barack Obama coming in, there were no attacks on the United States, and they all began when Obama and Clinton took office, conveniently forgetting completely the tragedy, the national tragedy of 9/11.

So, there are questions and doubts about Rudy Giuliani and his competence for the job. But there’s no question that Newt Gingrich is out for him. Kellyanne Conway is apparently advocating and championing for him. So, this is — this is a split.

I agree with David that Mitt Romney does fit the bill. He looks like a secretary of state. He looks like the chancellor of the exchequer.

JUDY WOODRUFF: A lot of people said he would look like a president.

MARK SHIELDS: He looks like a president. I mean, he really does. He’s central casting. You want a leader, Western leader, English-speaking? Mitt Romney.

JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, just a quick minute-and-a-half on the Democrats. We are going to reserve just a moment for them.

David, we’re seeing Chuck Schumer, the incoming Democratic leader in the Senate, saying, we, the Democrats, need to look at ways possibly to work with Donald Trump. And then, on the other hand, we’re seeing Congressman Keith Ellison, who is up for running for head of the Democratic Party, the Democratic National Committee say, Mark, say, no, we’re not going to be working with him, and I don’t want to hear about it.

David, are the Democrats making the right kind of noises right now? Or do we just wait and see what happens?

DAVID BROOKS: I think Schumer is right to keep the possibility open that Trump is movable on some issues, which is clearly what Obama believes, and that they can work with him on some issues, like infrastructure or something like that.

So, I think, if they could have a good six months where they work together, there will be plenty of time for fighting later on.


MARK SHIELDS: David is right. And I think the worst thing the Democrats could do is to follow the playbook that Mitch McConnell and the Republicans adopted in 2009 against Barack Obama. And that’s just total, all-out obstructionism.

JUDY WOODRUFF: To say on day one or day two…

MARK SHIELDS: Yes, that’s right, the most important thing is to defeat him for reelection.

I think that America has had enough of it. It doesn’t work. And it’s not the best of the Democratic tradition.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark Shields, David Brooks, thank you very much.

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Brooks and Marcus on why Trump’s appointments make sense

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Nov 18, 2016


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JUDY WOODRUFF: And now 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.

And happy Friday to both of you.

So, President-elect Trump, David, making these three big announcements today in the national security arena, after we heard who a couple of people are going to be around him in the White House. What do we make of these choices, starting with the ones today?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, if you thought Donald Trump was going to be swallowed up by the conventional Republican Party or by Washington, you were wrong.

He’s governing, it seems, exactly as he campaigned. And the people he selected are very much in the spirit of the campaign, sometimes explicitly referencing the policies he took on the campaign.

So, I would say, A, they are going to be very different. We’re going to have a very different administration from a normal Republican administration, let alone a Democratic administration.

Second, I have to say, they have good resumes. Pompeo, Flynn, they are — it’s not like they’re just out of the wilderness. These are people who have been around power and who probably are not going to be automatically incompetent at their jobs.

The third thing to that we say is, they have Donald Trump’s charm, which is to say they are extremely sharp-elbowed individuals, to a person. And it’s like he’s taken all the hard bosses or bad bosses in the world and so far he is bringing them all together.

And so, if they work as a team, maybe they will be a very tough team, but they could work on each other. And it could be hard to hire people under them, because these are people famous for being really hard on those around them.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Ruth, what do you make of these national security picks?

RUTH MARCUS: Disturbing on General Flynn, and less disturbing on Congressman Pompeo.

I think it’s really important for us to understand Donald Trump is the president-elect, and he is really entitled to — he has got the prerogative to pick people who will implement his policies and who have his confidence.

But I think — I don’t look at it just as the national security team. I look at it as a whole, and I’m very worried that he is picking people — he talked on election night about the need to bind the wounds of division. I think he’s picking a series of people who are potentially pouring salt into the wounds of division and who are reinforcing some of his worst tendencies, rather than buttressing him and surrounding himself with people who bring to the table both personality and capabilities that he may be lacking in.

And so I would — the three that most concern me are General Flynn, Senator Sessions, and Steve Bannon at his right hand in the White House.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Who comes from Breitbart News.


JUDY WOODRUFF: Which raises — I saw some commentary, David, saying, well, maybe there is good cop/bad cop thing going on here in the White House, where Donald Trump picks Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican Party, as his chief of staff, but then he picks Bannon, Steve Bannon, to be his counselor.

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I’m not yet putting Priebus in my good cop category…



DAVID BROOKS: … bad and other cops.

Bannon is the interesting case. He is, of course — I do not approve of his news organization or his judgments, but he is something out of a different — he is a pure populist, pure anti-establishment.

And so, for example, there was an article today, a rare interview that he gave, where he really talked about having a trillion-dollar infrastructure program. That would be a big shift in our national debate. And I think it might be a good idea. But it would get a lot of Democrats on board.

And I do think the silver lining for those of you who didn’t approve of Donald Trump is that there are a lot of policies in his canon that do mess with our categories. And that kind of big spending program would be one of them.

JUDY WOODRUFF: What do you think?

RUTH MARCUS: I’m kind of having a hard time seeing the Steve Bannon silver lining here, even with a big infrastructure program, because his Web site and his own history has been so divisive, so hurtful to people of — minorities, people of other faiths.

I think having somebody like that in the White House — I understand, to the victor go the spoils, but bringing someone like that inside the White House who you’re going to be listening to is a bad thing.

And then we’re layering on to that I think two people who are the wrong people in the wrong jobs. You want somebody who is going to be your national security adviser who is going to be temperate, who is going to be an honest broker, who is going to be able to take in information and give you sort of, this is what everybody is saying.

That is not, from the people that I have spoken to today, what General Flynn is all about.


RUTH MARCUS: And, similarly, with Senator Sessions, I was around for his confirmation hearings as judge.


RUTH MARCUS: Both in those — I know. I look so young.


RUTH MARCUS: But it’s true.

Both in those and in his performance as senator, taking — going to the Justice Department, sort of same idea. If he were up for secretary of defense, I might not have this issue. But we’re at a country that is facing enormous racial tensions, really difficult questions about criminal justice reform and tensions between minority communities and police, and here he is with a long history.

Wrong person, wrong job.

JUDY WOODRUFF: How much of a worry is that, David?

DAVID BROOKS: I do think it is a significant worry.

I mean, this past few weeks, past few months, past few years, maybe past few centuries, have been rife with racial tension. And this seems set to exploit that and to exacerbate that. I think that’s going to be one of the most likely and one of the ugliest features of the campaign.

I’m trying — as I said on the program last week, I’m trying to give a pause. The guy was elected. And, as I say, he’s been extremely consistent with his electoral campaign. He’s being authentic to what he ran on and what got elected.

And so I agree with Ruth. I think these people deserve to be confirmed. There’s nobody who, I don’t think, doesn’t deserve to be confirmed.

One other point, though, and this is about the Bannon point. He’s always had a teeny-tiny circle of trust. I can’t imagine that being in the Trump Cabinet will be a very important job. I do think this will be a White House-run administration with a teeny-tiny group of people surrounding him, including his family maybe.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, and that’s — I want to ask about that, because one thing everybody noticed is that his family is on the transition team, his children, his son-in-law, Ruth.

They were — his daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, were in that meeting yesterday with the Japanese prime minister.

Is this something — I mean, what? What are we to make of this?

RUTH MARCUS: Well, again, quite disturbing.

I do not begrudge anybody relying on their family members for advice. I do. Politicians regularly rely on family members for advice. But Donald Trump is in a unique position here. First of all, he has told us that he is going to solve — and I don’t think it’s a good solution — his problems of conflict of interests in his business by turning over the management to his children.

OK, maybe that’s adequate from his point of view. But now he’s simultaneously turning over the management to his children and bringing in his children, first three of them, to the transition, and then apparently tapping his son-in-law, married to one of the people who’s going to be managing this business and dealing with the conflict that way, to bring them into the White House. That’s number one.

Number two, in this small circle, you want a president without governing experience to be surrounded by people with experience in governing. Instead, it’s insular Trump surrounded by his family.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Does that bother you?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, what does bother me is the intermingling of the business and the public service aspect of this. And so I do agree with that.

But I do think, if the family members choose one side or the other, I would have no problem with Ivanka serving on the White House staff, frankly. But there’s a rule against it now, in theory, serving in the Cabinet, at least, maybe not in the White House, that was passed after Bobby Kennedy.

I personally think that’s a dumb rule. If a president wants to have a family member as — an executive of a small business can have a family member. I don’t have a problem with that. I actually think Ivanka would be a good influence on the administration.

But I do think as long as the — he’s so business-minded. As long as we’re constantly asking, is he trying to make a buck off this, is he trying to promote his hotel with this, then that’s just a corruption of what we think of as public service.


Well, I wanted to ask you both about the Democrats and where they stand right now, back on their heels.

But I really want to leave time here at the end for a few minutes to ask you both about our friend. You both knew her well, Gwen.

David, you were close friends.

Ruth, you have worked with her for so long.

Ruth, you go back to, what, early days at The Washington Post.

RUTH MARCUS: So, I can tell you the exact day, because it was my first day at The Washington Post, September 4, 1984.

I drove out to Prince George’s County, Upper Marlboro, Maryland, walked into the bureau, and there was Gwen Ifill with this luminous smile that David wrote so beautifully about. And we have been friends ever since.

I think — thinking, she went to The New York Times, so we covered the White House together. And I’m particularly remembering one Christmas Eve in Little Rock in 1992 after the Clinton election. I think Gwen’s editor had sent her a bottle of champagne, which we had to drink surreptitiously out of teacups, because I think the restaurant was dry.


RUTH MARCUS: And then I have to say finally that it’s actually thanks to Gwen that I’m sitting here tonight, because Mark was going to be away one day.

And Jim said, “Hey, who can — how can we broaden the circle and bring people in?”

And Gwen said, “What about Ruth?”

And I know I’m not only person for whom she went to bat and said, why don’t we expand the field of people that we use? And, so, I will miss her, and I’m thankful to her.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, she had an eye for talent. And we’re glad you’re here, too.

And, David, she was so fond of you.

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, and, well, I wrote this column.

And the way I ended it, which I think is a point that is a true one, is that nobody reminded you of her. You never thought, oh, who’s kind of like Gwen? Who’s the next best Gwen? There is no next best Gwen.

And I think what was unique about her was this combination of intense strength with intense warmth. And, you know, one of the toughest hours of TV I ever had, but maybe the best, was on “Meet the Press.” I did a show sometimes called “Imus in the Morning.” And Tim Russert did that show and David Gregory.

And he said some racist things. And I didn’t realize he had already said some racist things about her. And she was on the show, and she just was super tough on us.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Right. I remember that.

DAVID BROOKS: But then the intense warmth.

I have a photo on my phone of you and Gwen doing an exploding fist bump at the convention. And she’s laughing and she’s dancing in her chair, that warmth, that smile. And the two were so in tandem.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, our mutual friend John Dickerson over at CBS said you could read a book by the light of her smile. And I think we all agree with that.

Ruth Marcus, David Brooks, we thank you.

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Shields and Brooks on a ‘political earthquake’ and how America can move forward

Author: PBS NewsHour
Sat, Nov 12, 2016


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JUDY WOODRUFF: And we come back to the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That is syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

And let me just kick this off by saying there’s nobody I would rather spend more than nine hours with on Election Night than the two of you.


MARK SHIELDS: Thank you so much, Judy.


JUDY WOODRUFF: So, having said that, political earthquake. The earth moved under our feet, David.

How big an earthquake was it?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, it’s certainly the political shock of our lives, at least my lifetime.

It feels like almost the ’60s, sort of like political revolution, cultural revolution, aesthetic revolution, the things that now you can say and get elected president. And so it was all those things.

I’m sort of finding myself in a strange emotional territory, if I could lie on the couch here. On the one hand, Trump appalls me. I won’t be shy about that.

But having — with the elective democratic process having taken its turn, I sort of feel we have to owe some respect to the process and owe some respect to the electorate and the people who voted him, on the assumption that they have something to teach us.

And so all these people are marching in the street. There is all this hostility. I find myself — and I think this was the president’s attitude and frankly Hillary Clinton’s attitude — of respectful pause. Maybe I will be as upset at Trump as I was in another week, but what do they try to teach us? Just try to understand what the situation we’re in is.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Respectful pause, Mark?


I, Judy, believe devoutly that the national election is the closest thing we have to a civic sacrament of democracy. And I really do think that heed must be paid, and when people make a decision, those who are on the other side, including me, accept it, for that reason.

I think that probably the best analysis, of the millions of words that were written, other than David’s — David’s were really perceptive and wise.

But there’s a woman named — I don’t know her name — Salena Zito at “Atlantic.” And she said something. She said, to understand this election, critics of Donald Trump take him literally, but not seriously. His supporters take him seriously, but not literally.

In other words, so while his critics were very upset with what he said, the — his supporters really were the mood and the positions he took, rather than precise phrases or words.

I say that because now, as of Tuesday, everyone has to take him seriously, and I think that’s what we’re seeing. I think the anxiety in schools that we hear, in minority communities, those with the archbishop of Los Angeles at Our Lady of the Saints Cathedral yesterday at an interfaith service with Jewish and Muslim, and was very open and said, our children are fearful that their parents — the government is going to come and take their parents away.

And I think that’s a consequence of the election. I mean, in addition, the fact that he won, but his positions appear to prevail, and I think there have left fear in a lot of places.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, David, I was going to ask the two of you what you think, with reflection, the voters were saying. But I also — I was struck by what we just heard a few minutes ago by voters in Manassas, Virginia.

One young woman said, I guess — she said, I guess hate is now state-sponsored.

And we heard a man say — another woman say, I’m for immigrants, just the right immigrants.

What were voters saying, do you think?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, they certainly want change. We know that. They’re fed up with a lot of talk and no change.

On the issues, they preferred her. She got better marks on the economy and foreign policy. But they just didn’t get the sense she was a reformer. So they want some unnamed change.

I think they also wanted some sense of dignity, some sense of being heard. I mean, in some sense, there is something noble, in that people that was people who felt marginalized, working-class voters, A, taking over their party from basically what had been a corporate party, and then asserting their will on the country, against groups of people who were more privileged than they are, both on the left and the right.

And so there is something nice about that. I think Trump is the wrong vehicle for that. But, you know, you’re living in a town, there are no jobs in the town, you know your friends are dying of O.D.-ing on opiates or something, you’re having trouble paying your bills, you’re playing by the rules, and other people are getting benefits without playing by the rules.

Maybe you’re willing to tolerate a lot of bigotry from Donald Trump if you say, just change things, just change things.

And so I don’t — I think the voters who voted for him certainly are willing to tolerate a lot of ugliness, but maybe, if you’re in desperate circumstances, or you think the country is deeply in trouble, you’re willing to tolerate that without necessarily liking it.

JUDY WOODRUFF: What did you hear? What do you think the voters were saying?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, the first thing that bothers me are my liberal friends, or too many of them, I think who immediately run to the race card.

The fact is that it’s the most dangerous place to be on the political scale is to brand those on the other side as racist. That’s the atomic bomb. That’s the nuclear weapon of an American. Once I accuse you of racist, I have demonized you, and it means any future collaboration, cooperation between us is a sign of my moral deficiency, if I would deal with someone like that. It’s just — it’s a terrible thing to do.

I say that for a factual reason. Barack Obama carried Iowa, carried Wisconsin, carried Michigan. He not only carried Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan twice. He carried the white — a majority of the white vote in those states.

And so Hillary Clinton lost them, Donald Trump won them, and it’s a little, I think, transparent, false to say that the people are racist. These are the same voters who would vote for an African-American man and didn’t vote for the white woman Democrat. So, I think that’s dangerous.

I think, Judy, it was a revolt of working-class Americans. I think it was a revolt against us in the press. I think it was a revolt against the ruling class who were indifferent to their plight, to the fact that, for a generation, their standard of living has declined or that their children’s futures are blighted.

I thought Peter Hart and Dan McGinn, when they wrote that the people who led this revolution are foreign to Washington and New York, they don’t go to Starbucks and they don’t take their children on tours, they care about high school sports more than about pro sports, they go to Walmart, McDonald’s, and they have declining incomes, and they think their grandparents and parents built this country. They scream that they want their country back.

And I think that — I think they saw indifference from the ruling elites, both public and private, particularly private.

JUDY WOODRUFF: You said it wasn’t race.

And, yet, David, people — many people of color are saying they feel the message is directed at them.

DAVID BROOKS: Right. So, there is a racial element here. There is clearly a racial element.

And so I think that I don’t have a machine to peer into the souls of the voters. So I don’t know how much of the racial element was dominant, how much was there, something they tolerated, something they endorsed.

Clearly, for some people, it was a large element. I do not believe, having spent these last many months interviewing Trump voters, that it’s a dominant element in at least a lot of the people I spoke to. They had good reason, as Mark just elucidated, for why they were really upset with the course of the country.

Their culture, their life economically, socially, families breaking apart, drug use, it’s going downhill. And I think the two things — one, we don’t want to turn this into a children of light, children of darkness, where us college-enlightened people, educated, enlightened people are looking down at those primitive hordes. We do not want that.

That’s what — that condescension is what fueled this thing in the first place. And so I don’t think we want that.

Second, through American history, we have had populist movements that often, often, often have this ugly racial element. But, often, there are warning signs of some deeper social and economic problem. And we have rapidly increasing technology, which is making life very good for people who are good at using words, and not so good for people who are not good at using words.

And so the ugliness can sometimes be super ugly, but also a warning sign of something down below.

MARK SHIELDS: No, I agree with what David said.

I would just add, Judy, that the problem is that what Donald Trump said, if you take it literally now, is cause for anxiety and nervousness.

JUDY WOODRUFF: You mean during the campaign.

MARK SHIELDS: What he said during the campaign, I mean, is — it’s legitimate, the anxiety and the nervousness that you feel and that children feel right now, because — if you do take him literally.

He has to do something to reassure, and beyond tweeting that he either likes or doesn’t like protests. I just — the protests, the breaking of windows at this point, I mean, I just want anybody in the protest to have an “I voted” sticker on their jacket lapel before they get out there.

And I understand the concern, but please accept this democracy. And he is the president. He’s going to be the president in 75 days, or whatever. And, you know, he now has a responsibility, I think, to calm those waters and to reassure people that there isn’t going to be — there aren’t going to be Storm Troopers coming down to take their grandparents in a patrol wagon.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Very quickly, in the last couple of minutes, David, we are seeing some signals from Donald Trump or the people he has put on his transition committee, putting in the vice president-elect, instead of Chris Christie. He’s putting his children, his son-in-law on that committee.

He said today that he’s — in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that he’s thinking about keeping part of the health care reform law after talking to President Obama about it.

So, what are we to think? Maybe this is not going to be all the big moves that were hinted at during the campaign?

DAVID BROOKS: I’m obviously outraged Tiffany didn’t get a job. Maybe she will get Fed chairman or something.

I think when — the nomination of Mike Pence is more of a sign that he’s going for conventional Republicans. Until last summer, Pence was a very conventional. He was in the House, well connected with the conventional movement Republicans.

And I assume he will tap, he may be more conventional. I think Donald Trump is going to find it very hard to do the kind of massive change he wants. Obamacare is woven into the fabric of health care. It’s very hard to just rip it out, as he sort of acknowledged with The Wall Street Journal.

The Iran deal, maybe we can withdraw from the deal, but our other partners are not going to withdraw from the deal. When you get down to each of these individual things, deporting people, when you get down to each of the individual things, the barriers to change are massive.

And the simple promises he makes just don’t apply to reality. So he’s got to do some big changes, because what he was voted on. But when you think about how to do it, it would take massive expertise, which his people, believe me, do not have.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Just 20 seconds, Mark. What do you think he…

MARK SHIELDS: Well, 213 times to vote to repeal Obamacare, it’s a very easy, grandstand act.

Doing it and taking 20 million people and taking them off insurance, those with preexisting conditions, those who don’t have any other coverage, you know, that’s a reality. And it is going to be difficult, make no mistake about it. And this is where you confront reality from the rhetoric of the campaign.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The transition begins.

Mark Shields, David Brooks, thank you both.

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After the election, how can America heal its political divide?

Author: PBS NewsHour
Tue, Nov 08, 2016


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JUDY WOODRUFF: But, for now, our election night coverage continues with a team that’s going to be joining us at this table all night long.

They are New York Times columnist David Brooks, Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report, Andra Gillespie of Emory University, Republican strategist Stuart Stevens, Democratic strategist Cornell Belcher, and right here sitting next to me, Mark Shields, syndicated columnist, and joining us from New York, Jeff Greenfield, who has been reporting for the “NewsHour Weekend” throughout this campaign.

So, thank you to all of you for being here.

I’m going to turn to you, David Brooks.

You just heard the Democratic leader of the House of Representatives talk about, frankly, the problems Democrats have in states that used to be all blue.

DAVID BROOKS, The New York Times: Yes.

And it struck me that she didn’t claim they were going to take over the House, a bit of realism there from Nancy Pelosi, I think, but optimism — and maybe well-earned optimism.

It is still a party — a problem for the party that working-class voters, white working-class voters are more and more heavily Republican. One of the exciting things that happened, whether you like it or not, this year was that the white working class took over a party, and they took over a party that had formerly been a corporate party of the rich and the elites. And that’s sort of an amazing thing that happens in American — rarely in American history.

JUDY WOODRUFF: We have a problem with your microphone, David Brooks. We are going to fix that and come right back to you in a minute.



AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: Hi, Judy.


AMY WALTER: And I think this may play out in the House tonight. As we’re watching these results come in, if the results play out as the poll numbers have suggested, where the Democrats are going to pick up seats will be in places that were formerly Republican, inner-city — or inner suburbs that were very Republican for much of our history now trending more Democratic, as white college-educated voters move into the Democratic column.

As working-class whites have moved out, white educated voters have moved into the Democratic column. And, at the same time, in places like the Iron Range in Minnesota, that upper rural part of Minnesota, you could see Republicans winning there, a district that Democrats have held for many, many, many, many years.

So, it’s really like a tale of two congressional districts. Right? We’re going to swap out the suburbs for the more rural areas. This has been happening over the last 10 years, but sort of at an accelerated pace, I think, this election cycle.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Stuart Stevens, are Nancy Pelosi’s expectations reasonable?

STUART STEVENS, Republican Strategist: I think probably she is going to probably call it pretty close to what’s going to happen.

You know, the big test, I think, tonight for the Trump campaign — and it’s going to affect these down-ballot races — is what happens with white college-educated voters? This has been a strong center of support for Republicans. No Republican has lost this in modern history. Even Goldwater won college-educated Republicans.

So, if Donald Trump, who has been losing them in polls, doesn’t carry them tonight, I think it’s going to have very interesting consequences up and down the ballot in some of these races.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark Shields, what are you looking at tonight?

MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist: Well, I’m looking at the fact that we’re going to make mystery. Either we will elect the first person in the history of the country who has never held a public office or served in the military of any kind in Donald Trump, or we will elect the first woman.

And only for the second time since World War II, we have got a possibility to electing a party to the third term in the White House. It happened with George H.W. Bush in 1988, and hasn’t happened other than that.

I think Democrats have a real problem culturally. I think they have become a cultural party, and I think a little elite and somewhat condescending toward white blue-collar working Americans. And I think that the Republicans had a great opening there.

Democrats are obviously far more comfortable with coastal types than they are with people in the heartland.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Cornell Belcher, I saw you smile broadly when Mark said that.

CORNELL BELCHER, Democratic Strategist: Well, it’s interesting that Democrats are now back-to-back majorities in national elections, and somehow the problem is Democrats have a cultural problem with working-class whites.

I think Democrats do have a problem with working-class whites. But, if you look into the future, I think the larger problem is the problem that Republicans have with the ascending electorate, right?

It’s a point of diminishing returns at some point with working-class whites. Do Democrats need to do better with working-class whites? Absolutely, they do. But, without a question, when we see her re-cobble together that ascending electorate that makes up a majority in this country now, I think it’s going to be hard-pressed to say that right now Democrats are the ones with the problem.

MARK SHIELDS: Could I just dissent just briefly from Cornell? Got to set the evening, he did, early.


MARK SHIELDS: That is this. The Democrats, in spite of assembling this national coalition and this majority, are noncompetitive in the House of Representatives. They’re frankly noncompetitive.

And they’re noncompetitive in districts that are basically blue-collar, white, more conservative culturally.

CORNELL BELCHER: But, Mark, what about — doesn’t that have a lot to do, quite frankly, with gerrymandering? We have gerrymandered these districts where…

MARK SHIELDS: They weren’t gerrymandered in 2010, Cornell. That’s all.

CORNELL BELCHER: Well, no, they were gerrymandered just before 2010.

MARK SHIELDS: No, they weren’t. No, they weren’t.

CORNELL BELCHER: Yes, they were.

MARK SHIELDS: It was the 2010 census that led to the redistricting,

CORNELL BELCHER: Well, they’re even worse now. Once upon a time in this country, you did have 30 or 40 congressional districts that were — when I was working at the DCCC, you really did have a lot more congressional districts that were highly contested.

That number is shrinking a lot now. And it has to do with people like me who are helping to draw these maps precisely in a way to keep incumbents in office.


HARI SREENIVASAN: Andra Gillespie, you wanted to chime in there?

ANDRA GILLESPIE, Emory University: So, if I will jump in here, what I would say is, it’s not just gerrymandering.

We also have to consider the ways that we have ideologically sorted ourselves into partisan camps in ways that we hadn’t before. A generation ago, you had liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats. Those don’t exist anymore. So, people understand enough about parties to know which issues and which bundles fall into which party, and they have fallen into those camps.

So, the question for tomorrow is, can people reach beyond the aisles and actually talk to people who disagree with them?

JUDY WOODRUFF: Amy Walter, you’re nodding.


Well, and we’re self-sorting now more than ever. You talk to demographers, they will tell you that we’re moving ourselves into areas that relate to our own, where we’re most comfortable in sociocultural ways.

And if you look, for example, at the question — Pew has asked this question. And I think it’s fantastic. Do you want to live in a place that is a close-in area, where you can walk everywhere, but you have a smaller house, or you get a bigger house and a bigger yard, but you have to drive everywhere?

Guess what? Seventy-five percent of liberals want the close-in suburb. Seventy-five percent of conservatives want the place where you have to drive. And so, literally, people are putting themselves into different communities and separating themselves.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Jeff Greenfield, I want to invite you into this conversation.

Are the old boundaries still relevant today?

JEFF GREENFIELD, Special Correspondent: Less and less.

It’s just striking to me that the Democratic Party has been the party of the working man and later working woman since the days of Andrew Jackson. And, as late as 1992, when whites were a far bigger proportion of the electorate, Bill Clinton effectively split the white vote with his Republican opponents both in ’92 and ’96.

And one of the things that I think has happened is that the focus on mobilization, get your vote out, has, I think, had a big cost, which is that the candidates, even though they will use the rhetoric, the pieties, but, in substantive ways, do not speak to the broader country, because it has become harder and harder to speak to the broader country.

And I think, whatever happens tonight, this campaign has been a loss to the civic nature of what a campaign’s supposed to be like, because the strategy of both campaigns has been get your folks out, and the heck with the other folks.

JUDY WOODRUFF: David Brooks, if your microphone is fixed, I want to ask you to come into this conversation about whether we are making what was already a bad situation worse.

DAVID BROOKS: I was wondering why Mark was meddling with my microphone.


DAVID BROOKS: No, I think one of the things, there has been the polarization, but there’s also the heat.

And tonight is often — is a lot about the heat with which this campaign has been conducted. And what makes tonight significant is, A, the size of the margin and the nature of the concession speech and whether we’re a country — we’re certainly a divided country.

This election has been like a flash flood that wipes away all the soil and reveals the chasms that have been dividing us and exacerbates them. But whether we’re even one country after tonight — if Democrats win, how Trump reacts will be super important. If Trump wins, Democrats will be stunned. And a lot of people will be stunned. And how Clinton reacts at that moment will be superduper important.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Yes, exactly.

Andra, I want you to speak about that, because there’s been — I have been hearing conversation for days now about, what’s the reaction going to be like? Yes, the results are important, but are people even going to be able to deal with the results, whatever side you’re on?

ANDRA GILLESPIE: There have been some surveys in the past couple of weeks where people have been asked that question. And they said that they’re not going to be happy about this.

And so I think we can expect that half the country is going to wake up upset tomorrow. And that’s why it’s really important for whoever loses to accept defeat graciously, and also for the winner to accept winning graciously, and also send out a conciliatory balm to the other side.

It’s not going to be enough, sadly. And I think that it’s going to be pretty contentious going after that. But I think tonight is the night where both candidates can change the tone enough that they can actually get us through, you know, at least the next couple of months, so that we can set up a new government.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Stuart Stevens, what incentive does Donald Trump have or Hillary Clinton have to change the tone today?

STUART STEVENS: Listen, I think one of the key elements of democracy is, somebody has to be willing to lose.

And what’s been extraordinary, I think, about Donald Trump’s comments is challenging that before we even have results. It’s one thing if there is a razor-thin margin, like 2000, where you have one person winning the Electoral College ultimately and one person winning the popular vote. OK, that took 31 days. It was a nightmare for the country.

But to prejudge this and talking about a rigged system, I think, is very corrosive to the whole process. Our process is out there amongst these states with thousands and thousands of local officials, many of them Republicans, and they’re really good and decent people.

It doesn’t mean mistakes don’t happen. We are going to have 140 million, 150 million people voting tonight. There are going to be mistakes. But the system isn’t rigged. And I think that you need — to put that out is something. We need to try to heal as soon as possible.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Cornell Belcher, whose responsibility is it to try to do this healing?

CORNELL BELCHER: Leadership matters. And this shouldn’t be a partisan thing.

Look, John McCain, after losing, he called Barack Obama “my president,” right? That’s a tradition in this country right now. And I fear what’s happening right now is that we’re losing sight of that tradition in so much of the anger of our politics.

It is important, whether you’re a Democrat or you’re a Republican, that you embrace our system, because it is not rigged. And the moment our people start thinking — and I’m concerned about in the polling numbers that I’m see as well with so many more people actually thinking the system is rigged.

That’s how we lose our democracy, when people don’t believe in the system anymore and they don’t accept the outcome of our politics. What Donald Trump — because I think Donald Trump is going to lose.

What Donald Trump does tonight, I think, is going to be very, very important not just for him and his brand, but for our country.

AMY WALTER: but think about where we were. Even in 2000, that was a very contentious election. We always remember the aftermath of the election, but going into that election, George W. Bush, his overall favorable/unfavorable rating was plus-23. It’s the highest that we had seen since we’d been looking back for the last 20 years. So, he was very viewed positively.

Now we’re going into an election where both candidates obviously viewed negatively, Hillary Clinton somewhere around minus-10 or 15, Donald Trump even lower than that, maybe at 20, minus-20 or minus-30. So there’s no residual goodwill there, that at least George W. Bush had something to go on.

Neither one of these candidates have any of that to start with.

STUART STEVENS: I think this is why parties are so important at this moment, because parties have to step forward and do what the candidates sometimes find difficult to do.


JUDY WOODRUFF: All right. We are going to have many opportunities tonight to come back to all of you.


JUDY WOODRUFF: So, save those thoughts.

But we’re getting off — we’re getting off tonight?


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Shields and Brooks on rancor in the electorate and the future of the Supreme Court

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Nov 04, 2016


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

So, gentlemen, this is the last time I get to ask you this on a Friday.

Mark, how does this race look?

MARK SHIELDS: It looks terrific. I mean, it really is.

And I just want it to keep going. I don’t want it to end.


MARK SHIELDS: I wish it was like baseball. We could go into extra innings.

No, I don’t think there is any question the whole temperature, the whole atmosphere of the race changed over the last eight days, since last we were together, when — with the Comey announcement of the FBI investigation.

I think what had been sort of an assumed Clinton victory, and Democrats taking over the Senate, I think it was stopped in its tracks. And while I still think she is the favorite, and is the favorite, there is certainly a lot more doubt about the Senate today.


DAVID BROOKS: Well, I think she’s the favorite.

I have a sense that it would have happened anyway and that, at the end of the day, people were going to come home to who they were. And what’s depressed me, frankly, most about this race is, we went into this country a divided nation, and now the chasms are just solidified, so divided along race, divided along gender, urban/rural, college-educated/non-college-educated. We can go down the list.

And, basically, less educated or high school-educated whites are going to Trump. It doesn’t matter what the guy does. And college-educated going to Clinton. Everyone is dividing based on demographic categories.

And, sometimes, you get the sense that the campaign barely matters. People are just going with their gene pool and whatever it is. And that is one of the more depressing aspects of this race for me.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, and you say it almost doesn’t matter what they say.

But they’re going out, Mark, on — with some pretty rough language. She continues to say he’s unacceptable, he doesn’t have the character to be president. He is saying — continues saying she needs to be in prison.

Somebody at one of his rallies today said, “Execute her.”

We’re watching as low as it can get, aren’t we?


Well, I think there’s no question Clinton — I’m not sure David’s right. He’s 97 percent right about 48 percent of the time.


MARK SHIELDS: But, no — but on whether it would have narrowed.

I think there was a sense that she had the possibility of a decisive victory. And I think she, at that point, wanted, the Clinton campaign wanted to end it on upbeat and more positive.

The problem is, you have two candidates, Judy, we have said time and again, are personally unfavorable. So, the spotlight is unkind to each, whoever’s in that spotlight.

And when Donald Trump was in the spotlight, losing three debates to Hillary Clinton, and the “Access Hollywood” tape, it hurt him and helped her. And what happened is, that changed and sort of changed her strategy.

She was trying to shift the spotlight back to him, I think inelegantly and ineffectively, quite frankly, in the last week by bringing out the former Miss Universe and trying to do that.

The best closer, quite honestly, is Barack Obama. He’s the best closer since Dennis Eckersley or Mariano Rivera.


MARK SHIELDS: He’s just a — he really knows how to close. If you want to see somebody do it well, just watch Barack Obama. He makes a far better case for her than she makes for herself.

Donald Trump is sounding the same theme he has sounded since May or June of 2015.


And, well, it’s a campaign of hate. Obama is a campaign of at least hope. At least his first campaign was. This is just a campaign of hate. And, you know, people who don’t like Trump really don’t like Trump. And I guess I’m among them.

And we just saw in our report about the Trump voters in Pennsylvania. Did you see — when they were shouting on the road, did you see anything nice about Trump? No. Send Clinton to jail.

And so it’s just — what was it? There was a Burt Lancaster movie where he had love and hate tattooed on his hands. And there’s just a — we’re in a psychosis of what they call negative polarization, where nobody likes their side, but they really hate the other side.

And it feels like it’s just building and building. And so we have got this cycle. And I don’t know if it pops on Election Day. I hope so. But the idea that Clinton is finishing this campaign bringing Miss America or the Miss Universe to the rallies just seems wrong to me.

I do think she should have pivoted and say, I am change, I am change, because people do want some change. And to end on this negative note, I think especially for her — he has no choice — that’s his whole repertoire.

I think, for her, I think it’s a very questionable way to end the campaign.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But, Mark, doesn’t that say that her campaign is really concerned here?


And, Judy, Hillary Clinton is in Detroit, Michigan, the Friday before the election. Michigan is one of the 18 states and the District of Columbia that are the blue wall, that have voted Democratic for six consecutive presidential elections that are constituting the 242 of the 270 electoral votes that the Democrats start with.

So, no, there’s a concern. You can tell more from than polls — from polls — by the candidates’ schedules, and where they’re spending time and resources. So, no, I think there is a real, real concern.


That sort of goes back to my point about demographics. Why is she in Michigan? Because Michigan was — we all thought it would be Florida, South Carolina, Nevada, all the — New Hampshire, the states we have been talking about. But there are a lot of white people in Wisconsin and Michigan.

And so there’s another route that he has in ways we didn’t expect, because of the way the demographics are just driving this election much more than ideology was in years past.

JUDY WOODRUFF: I hear people saying, don’t the American people deserve a better election than this? Couldn’t somebody have found a way, Mark, for the candidates to talk about something uplifting, or was it always going to come down to this?

MARK SHIELDS: Boy, I don’t know.

I mean, you have two candidates who were highly unfavorable. And the idea of somehow convincing people that their perceptions, in some cases long-held, were inaccurate or incomplete, the more appealing route, quite frankly, in the campaign was to try and hit the other fellow over the head.

David is right. It would be a negative mandate. And one other point David makes that is a good one, and it’s good to recall historically, Theodore White wrote that America is Republican until 5:00 or 6:00 at night.

And that’s when working people and their families got off work, had supper, and if America is going to vote — be Democratic, it’s going to happen between 5:30 and 8:00 at night. That has been totally turned on its ear.

The working-class, blue-collar, non-college-educated base of the Democratic Party is the base of Donald Trump’s campaign this year. And the Democrats are now an upscale party.

So, each party, just its message is totally out of kilter. The Democrats have an economic message that is directed at people at the lower end. That has been their cornerstone. The Republicans has been more upscale. Now the Republicans have a very low-scale, by economic standards, base. Donald Trump has.

And it’s just total conflict, Judy. And I think it became easier, quite frankly, just to hit the guy over the head than to try and make the positive case.

DAVID BROOKS: I would say some of it was contingent on Donald Trump being Donald Trump and changing the rules of the way we talk to each other.


DAVID BROOKS: Some of that was contingent.

But a lot of it is baked structurally into our society. And so we had a lot of good things over the years that were really good for America. I think globalization has been really good for America. I think the influx of immigrants has been really good for America. Feminism has been really good for America.

But there are a lot of people who used to be up in society, because of those three good things, are now down, a lot of high school-educated white guys. And they have been displaced.

And shame on us for not paying attention to that and helping them out. And, therefore, as a result, what happened was, they were alienated, they got super cynical, because they really were being shafted. And so they react in an angry way.

Well, that’s not a shock, given the last 30 or 50 years of American history. And so, for us going forward, it’s to not reverse the dynamism of American society and the diversity. It’s to pay attention to the people who are being ruined by it, and so this doesn’t happen again.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, it means there is a lot of sorting out to do after this election.

I want to ask you both about the Supreme Court.

Mark, we have heard from Republican senators in the last few weeks that they’re, no matter — if Hillary Clinton is elected — this is an if — no matter who she puts forward, they’re going to make sure that she doesn’t get to fill that last — that ninth seat on the court.

How are we to think about the Supreme Court anymore? We have now gone the better part of this year, since Justice Scalia’s death, President Obama’s nominee can’t get through. Has this become a litmus test of the litmus test?

MARK SHIELDS: Judy, in a year of irresponsibility, this is a new depth of irresponsibility. To say that the constitutional mandate of a national election, where millions of Americans vote and pick a new president, that that president is — what that president does, and under the Constitution, of nominating judges and justices, is somehow moot, and I’m not going to pay any attention to it, that’s unacceptable.

It really is. It’s beyond irresponsible. It’s beyond reckless. It is really — I think it’s criminal. I basically do. And anybody who holds that position, I think it’s self-disqualifying for any public office.

JUDY WOODRUFF: We heard it from John McCain. And I guess, this week, there was a comment from Richard Burr, the senator from North Carolina, and others.

MARK SHIELDS: I think Senator Cruz has put on — I think Senator McCain did walk it back, but you’re right. He did say it on radio.

DAVID BROOKS: My views about this are like Mark’s, only stronger.


DAVID BROOKS: I think it’s in the Constitution. And we not only have rules in the Constitution the way it should work. The president should be able to nominate justices. But we have an etiquette around the Constitution.

And what’s happened in America is, that etiquette has been acidified away. And I hate the nuclear option of going for 50 votes in the Senate. But if they behave this way, then I think the Democrats might be justified and go to the nuclear option, because we actually have to have a government. We have to have people confirmed and put into office.

And — but it’s the degradation of the way our government is supposed to run.

JUDY WOODRUFF: I didn’t give you all any warning about this, but I want to ask it in the last minute or so that we have left.

What do you say to the American people at this point about the choice they’re making, about how much difference it makes?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, it does. We know presidents make choices. We know — we have no idea what’s going to come up on a crisis over the next four years, unexpected, internationally, domestically.

And who that president is, the judgment, the intelligence, the confidence that that president has can very well determine whether we survive, let alone prosper, as a people.

DAVID BROOKS: Yes. It’s a job. It’s a job that involves some patience, a tolerance for boredom, the ability to work friendly with other people, to herd majorities. It’s a job.

And I can’t say who I’m going to vote for, but one person is clearly disqualified for that job. And I can’t mention his name.


JUDY WOODRUFF: David Brooks, Mark Shields, we will see you on election night.

And, by the way, Mark and David will be back here, along with other guests, on election night for our special coverage. It starts at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, and we want you to join us, too.

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Shields and Brooks on the election’s ‘parity of sleaze’

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Oct 28, 2016


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

Welcome, gentlemen.



MARK SHIELDS: Hi. Hello, Judy, Judy.

JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, we have a moment of levity before we talk about something very serious, David.

And that is this announcement from the FBI that they have a new batch of emails from a laptop that belongs to Hillary Clinton’s aide Huma Abedin. Eleven days before the election, what — how much does this matter?

DAVID BROOKS: I think it matters.

We’re not going to know the substance of it by Election Day. Whatever emails were in there, whatever they are investigating, it’s hard to believe we will have some actual knowledge. But it brings Anthony Weiner back to the surface.

And the argument that Republicans could make with a lot of justices, welcome to the next four years of your life. Having a reign of Clinton without a little — a lot of scandal bubble around side is just not something we have any historical precedent for. And so this is just another.

And who you hang around with and who you associate with is going to come back to haunt you. And it’s almost perverse, in the way we have come down to sex scandals and the way this election has descended into the realm of Kardashianville. But we’re here. And so I do think a lot of others will think, there is just scandal on both sides. It’s just all sleazy.

And that’s not the substance of what we have learned today, but that’s the atmospherics of it.

JUDY WOODRUFF: What effect do you think this is going to have?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, first of all, it will have a long-term effect on politics, I think.

And that is Martin Lomasney, who was the legendary ward boss in Boston around the turn of the century and the early 20th century, said, never write it when you can say it, never say it when you can wink it, and never wink it when you can nod it.

I mean, the compulsion to put all this stuff in emails, I think, comes back, is going to haunt future campaigns. As far as right now, for the Clinton campaign, it’s a real kick in the teeth. That had been resolved. They’d gotten a clean bill of health, or at least a non-prosecution, by the FBI director 90 days ago.

And to have this revisited, especially featuring Anthony Weiner, who doesn’t have to be introduced to the nation, is a political problem. And it does just remind of the — and the problems and the difficulties that have surrounded the family for years.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, it’s a problem, even not knowing what’s in these emails, which we won’t know?

DAVID BROOKS: Right. There are two levels of media information. There is those of us who cover politics a lot and probably most people watching our shows, whether it’s on this channel or it’s any of the cables or the many networks. They have decided.

But this gets to “Entertainment Tonight.” It gets to every comedian. It gets to The National Enquirer. It gets out to the group of people who are, as they say, not information-rich voters, who are the ones who are actually deciding. And a lot of their decision is, I really don’t like this Donald Trump guy, but — so I have got to vote for Clinton.

But then they get this news about Clinton. And they’re just going on their moral instincts, and it begins to look like parity of sleaze.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Mark, do you think there are enough people out there who either — they are either undecided or they’re just persuadable at this point, or maybe they will stay home and not vote?

MARK SHIELDS: I think, Judy, that there is no question going into this week that the Democrats were very much in the saddle and very dominant, when, in Utah, which, in the last 10 elections, seven times has been the most Republican state in the union, in the last week of October, the Republicans feel it’s necessary because of the third-party challenge of Evan McMullin, that they’re worried about it being a three-way race and perhaps losing Utah.

They send the vice presidential candidate all the way out there. That tells you their playing defense. And right next door in Arizona, which has voted Republican 15 of the last 16 times, Michelle Obama is introduced by Barry Goldwater’s granddaughter to a crowd of 7,000, after Bernie Sanders got — Democrats are on the offensive.

And then you get three things that happened. You get the Obamacare raise and hikes. You get the WikiLeaks and the peek, the unpleasant peek, unflattering peek anyway, into the financial doings of the Clinton Foundation and Bill — and former President Bill Clinton, and then you get this.

And what does it hurt? It hurts, Judy, the women voters, especially Republican women voters, who, as David said, had turned off of Donald Trump, were trending toward Hillary Clinton. And I think younger idealistic Sanders voters, it may just stop them for a second, as they were turning to going to vote for Hillary Clinton, whether, gee, do I really want to do it? And I think that’s the problem for Democrats.

DAVID BROOKS: And maybe we should put in perspective.

Say, Hillary Clinton — say, she has an 87 percent chance of winning now. I think this may knock her down a point or two, and so that may reduce her chance of winning to like 80 or 75. And so I don’t think it’s like a game-changer by any stretch of the imagination.

But a point or two, if we were driving home and somebody said you have a 30 percent chance of getting into a wreck on the way home, we would think, that’s pretty bad odds. And so that — it does slightly increase the odds.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, you’re saying it’s not going to turn the race around, but you’re saying it will have an effect?

MARK SHIELDS: I just think everything was heading in her direction, and I think that it maybe freezes that.

I agree it’s not at this point a game-changer, by any means, Judy. But if Hillary Clinton won by five points or more, virtually every Republican I know believes she will carry the Senate. And if, all of a sudden, it’s a three-point, a two-point victory, it means a couple of things.

It means that the Senate is very much up for grabs and it also means that Donald Trump will be a factor in a very bloody civil war in the Republican Party after this election.

JUDY WOODRUFF: You mean whichever way this goes?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, I think, if he suffered a real defeat, a stinging defeat of 10 points, or in that area, I think he would no longer be a major figure, because nobody in the Republican Party basically wants him to be there. But he would have a claim if he loses by two.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, this has clearly been a bad week for Hillary Clinton.

David, I do want to bring up something Mark mentioned. And that is, you hear not just Democratic women, independent women, Republican women saying — and we had a discussion about it here on the “NewsHour” last night — who are really troubled by what they have seen in the course of this election.

How long-lasting a problem is that for the Republican Party?

DAVID BROOKS: I think it’s mostly Trump-related.

Of course, there’s always been a gender gap. But among — it’s — for Republicans politically, it’s sort of been manageable. And it depends on how they project themselves. In some years, they have done better.

But Donald Trump is so egregious in the way he talks about women, the way he allegedly treated women, I do think it’s more his own thing. And where you’re seeing it especially is among college-educated women. The college-educated in general in all our previous elections have voted Republican, but now they’re going massively for the Democrats. And college-educated women, in particular, like 65 percent for Hillary Clinton.

And they’re turned off of Trump both on issues, but especially on these moral positions, or the moral behavior that he’s undertaken. But I still think it’s mostly a Trump phenomenon. If you get — next time you get a Mitt Romney or somebody who’s just morally clean, I don’t think it lingers.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you think that that’s the way it will work, Mark?

MARK SHIELDS: No, I don’t.

I think Mitt Romney is the conspicuous exception. Mitt Romney was the man who stood up to Donald Trump early, hard, never wavered. We have seen this back-and-forth, Jason Chaffetz from Utah saying, I have a 15-year-old daughter. There’s no way I could support somebody like him.

Now he’s voting for him. You get this back-and-forth. I just think, Judy, I mean, the Democrats have tried the war against women in the past. It didn’t really have that much traction. But I…

JUDY WOODRUFF: Accusing the Republicans of…


MARK SHIELDS: Accusing the Republicans waging a war on women.

But when you have got a candidate who basically authors his own how-to tape on how to assault women for your own needs and wants, you know, without impunity — with impunity, and you don’t have that many people stand up and say he’s unacceptable, I think it’s a stain on the Republicans,.

And I think it could very well be a problem, not of the dimensions of ’64 and the Civil Rights Act. But I think he’s not — it’s not going to go away in a hurry.


Well, I agree it’s a stain, but I would make a generational point here that there is a big difference, especially on some of these issues and basically on ethnic diversity issues, on a bunch of issues and sensibility issues, between older Republicans and younger Republicans.

And what Newt Gingrich said to Megyn Kelly, a total insensitivity to sexual assault, that is just — I don’t meet too many Republican candidates under 45 who are that numb and that blind.

And I do think there’s different attitudes growing up in the Republican Party. I’m struck especially among social conservatives, among evangelical voters. It’s very hard to find an evangelical person under 45, let alone on some of the Christian college campuses, who has any tolerance for Donald Trump.

Of course, they’re there, but there is such a stark generational divide. So, the rising group of Republican voters are different tonally on a lot of these issues.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, it’s not just evangelical women, who we have talked about.

MARK SHIELDS: I don’t disagree with David.

But I think what’s been unleashed by this experience, by Donald Trump and by the women who have come forth, I think there’s been a spontaneous, almost public and private confessional of women everywhere at every generation about revealing to their own daughters, to their spouses, to their family…

JUDY WOODRUFF: About their own experience.

MARK SHIELDS: … about their own experience.

And I think this is out there now. I mean, it really is. And I think this is an — it’s an issue that was very private. And I think now it’s very much a part of the national agenda. And I think there is not going to be an unwillingness to address this in the future, like there has been in the past.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And in that connection, I will just mention briefly, Marcia Coyle, who is our Supreme Court reporter…


JUDY WOODRUFF: She’s a regular on the “NewsHour” — reported this week for “The National Law Journal,” a woman who just posted on her Facebook page, personally, something that happened between her and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. That is now in the news.

But it goes to your point Mark about, it’s coming forward.

Just a little bit of time before — I don’t want to leave everybody on a political note tonight, because there is something going on in this country that has to do with baseball, and it’s the World Series, and it’s the Cubs and the Indians. These are not two teams that have spent a lot of time in the finals of the Series.

So, I want to — you two love baseball. So, what do you see happening? And what do you — you have got to tell me who’s going to win.


MARK SHIELDS: Well, I can’t tell you who will win, but I will say this, Judy.

Everybody knows it’s — Teddy Roosevelt was president the last time the Cubs won the World Series, 1908. OK? And so the Cubs are kind of America’s darling. I mean, everybody’s rooting for them, and they’re trendy. They’re kind of chic.

But Cleveland, Cleveland is special. Cleveland was the second franchise and the first in the American League to desegregate in 1948.

And, beyond that, it’s taken a lot of — they are the real underdogs in this race — I mean, in this competition. So, I have a very soft spot for Cleveland.

And Jim Bouton, who wrote “Ball Four,” of the Yankees said once that, if you’re going to have a flying accident, you want it on the way into Cleveland, not the way out. I mean, that’s a terrible thing to say about a city. So, I’m rooting for them.

DAVID BROOKS: I’m appalled that you can’t pick a side.


DAVID BROOKS: I think we’re morally obligated to pick the Chicago Cubs. I have wondering who to vote for. I’m writing in Kyle Schwarber, Indiana University, proud native, great hitter, coming out of the bench.

MARK SHIELDS: Great story.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Owner of the team.


DAVID BROOKS: No, no. He’s a — the designated hitter.



MARK SHIELDS: Six hundred days, he hadn’t faced face Major League pitching, and gets the hit and…

DAVID BROOKS: Schwarber for president.



JUDY WOODRUFF: We heard it here first.


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

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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.

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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.

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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.

The post Shields and Brooks on transparency in police shootings, first debate expectations appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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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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