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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

by Jim Lehrer

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

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

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Aug 26, 2016


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


DAVID BROOKS: Do we not bleed?


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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MARK SHIELDS: That’s right.

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

MARK SHIELDS: It’s not fair. Yes.

DAVID BROOKS: It’s unfair.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To me, that’s what this…

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

MARK SHIELDS: Thank you.

The post Shields and Brooks on the alt-right and a general lack of trust in Clinton appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Aug 19, 2016


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

We welcome you.


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

MARK SHIELDS: Good to be here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: This is Manafort.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: Conway, the pollster.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: What about that, Jennifer?

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

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: Which is what the governor said.


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


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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: In a few days.

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

MARK SHIELDS: No, that’s right.

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


MARK SHIELDS: Thank you, Judy.


The post Shields and Rubin on Trump’s staff shift and Clinton’s ‘self-inflicted’ damage appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Aug 12, 2016


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


Mark Shields is away this week.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: The convention.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: There is still a constituency out there.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They got to figure out what to do with this.

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

Is there something wrong with that, David?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DAVID BROOKS: Not from foreign lobbyists.

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

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

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

DAVID BROOKS: Well, there certainly are bright lines.

I was depressed by both of them.


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

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: How did you read all that?

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

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

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

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

E.J. DIONNE: I’m sorry?

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

E.J. DIONNE: Thank you.

The post Brooks and Dionne on the GOP’s dilemma and the role of ‘common decency’ in the campaign appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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Brooks and Marcus on polls this week catching up with reality

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Aug 05, 2016


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

Mark Shields is away.

Hello to both of you.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

JUDY WOODRUFF: But, David Brooks, there presumably are some Americans who think an election like this could be rigged. Do we think that’s why Donald Trump raised that?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, his campaign — I still think he’s the wrong answer to a right problem, that the people who support him, some of them are — have some racist tendencies, and some sexist and some very ugliness.

But a lot of people support him for good reasons. And we shouldn’t totally dismiss the support there. And he did raise $82 million over the recent period. So there is some real fervent support there. And they’re people who have lost faith in the system, and they have lost faith in America, and they have lost faith in the idea that, if I do A, I will get B, that the normal chain of responsibility is working for them.

And so they — Ruth is right. They could take a look at an election defeat and decide that the whole system is rigged and their level of cynicism could go up another notch, if they’re — if that is inflamed. And that’s the danger that was Ruth was pointing to.

I do think there’s a problem here this week — because he’s not going away, because he has this base of support — for other Republicans.


DAVID BROOKS: If he would just go away, then they would have an option.

But I do think they can no longer sustain the position they have had, which is, I really have contempt for this Trump action, that Trump statement, and that Trump statement, but I still support the guy.

I think that’s becoming much more untenable for them. And they have to think of a plan B.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And that’s the question I really did want to ask both of you.

Ruth, what about that? I mean, how long can a number of these Republicans who are saying disagree with him on a number of things, but I’m still going to support him because I don’t like Hillary Clinton?

RUTH MARCUS: Well, the ones who are up for reelection are in just a very exquisitely difficult situation, because there is a group of core Republican Party voters who will punish them if they divorce themselves from Trump, but there is a group of voters in the middle who will punish them if they don’t divorce themselves from Trump.

So I’m thinking about somebody like Senator Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire, who — Trump is down 15 points in her state. She was down 10 points in a very close, difficult race against the governor there, Maggie Hassan, for reelection. What’s a Kelly Ayotte to do?

And then you have those sort of leaders of the congressional wing, who I think eventually will come up with — and you started to see it this week — come up with a plan B, much like with Bob Dole in 1996, which is to say, OK, you don’t like Trump voters, but keep us Republicans in charge to keep a check on that dangerous President Clinton who is coming in there.

JUDY WOODRUFF: In the Senate and the House.

RUTH MARCUS: In the Senate and the House.

JUDY WOODRUFF: David, I want to — I do want to turn to Hillary Clinton.

We heard Lisa Desjardins’s report sort of dissecting what Hillary Clinton said today, what she said in the past about these e-mails. Otherwise, Hillary Clinton has been a pretty quiet figure over the last week or so. She’s been the beneficiary of Trump’s problems. But how much does this lingering set of questions around the e-mails stand to hurt her?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, her best move, given what Trump has been doing in the last week or two, is just to be boring. And she has a capacity to do that. So she’s been laying low.

I do think that we’re now parsing how many e-mails, where the C was on the e-mail. And Lisa laid it out, for anybody who wants to just — what exactly happened. But I do think the damage done to her, which is lingering, is just in the idea of having a separate server, that the basic fact of the situation was that she was playing outside the rules.

She has this strong distrust of the system at large, and, therefore, she’s building walls around herself and her e-mails and her communication. And so the secretiveness and incommunicativeness that has surrounded her the last couple of decades is really the core of this scandal, not exactly how many servers she had or what she said at this press conference.

And that does certainly link…

JUDY WOODRUFF: Ruth, how do you see this?

RUTH MARCUS: I’m going to be harder here on Hillary Clinton than David was, because there is the original sin of not having a regular State Department e-mail and the separate server.

But then there is the second sin, or I would call it just political malpractice of her inability/refusal to come up with an honest, credible, consistent, non=-parsing explanation for what was going on here.

So, she took a bad situation, and she has consistently and almost every time she has addressed this situation, made it worse, instead of making it better. And it just goes to what has always been her biggest weakness, which is that honesty and trustworthiness. They started out with a problem, and they kept digging that hole.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, David, what kind of damage are we talking about for her? Have we already seen the maximum damage this issue could do to her? Could it grow?

DAVID BROOKS: I don’t think it will grow. I think we’re in the petering-down phase of it.

But she’s distrusted, and she is distrusted largely. Her favorable/unfavorable is actually getting a little better. So, I think it’s — people have factored in that she can lie, that she’s very secretive, that she’s insular, that she is not the most super likable person in the political landscape.

But, right now, it’s certainly not — and it’s keeping her numbers pretty low, by the way. I talked about how low Trump’s numbers are in a lot of these states. Hers are significantly higher, but they’re not where a Barack Obama, a Bill Clinton or George W. Bush or Ronald Reagan would be. She is still a significantly unpopular politician. She just happens to be the luckiest politician in America, running against a guy who is super unpopular.


JUDY WOODRUFF: Thirty seconds, Ruth.

RUTH MARCUS: Super unpopular and super incapable of containing himself.

So, if somebody had locked Donald Trump in a room and taken away his cell phone this week, what would we have been talking about all week? E-mails and Hillary Clinton’s interviews. Instead, we were talking about the Khans and everything else.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And there may be more to talk about next week.

RUTH MARCUS: There most certainly will.


JUDY WOODRUFF: Ruth Marcus, David Brooks, have a great weekend. Thank you both.

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Shields and Brooks on which convention was more successful, Clinton’s failure to emotionally connect

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Jul 29, 2016


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

So, gentlemen, looking back on those highlights from both Cleveland and Philadelphia, what does it make you think, Mark?

MARK SHIELDS: It makes me think that the Democrats — this was my 24th convention. And I think this was as good a Democratic Convention as I have seen since the 1976 convention, which nominated Jimmy Carter, which was — he left with a 30-point lead over President Ford.

I just thought it was a spectacularly successful convention. I don’t think Hillary Clinton’s speech was spectacular, but I don’t think she’s a spectacular speaker. But I thought their messages worked. And certainly the national security and preempting both faith and country and patriotism from the Republicans, which had been the Republican symbols for so long, was effective.


DAVID BROOKS: Yes. Well, the Democrats had the better convention by a long way. It’s rare we see the gap so big, frankly.

They controlled the debate. Donald Trump tried to set up this debate where it was going to be globalists vs. nationalists, and the Republicans were going to be the nationalists. But, if anything, the Democrats looked more patriotic and more nationalist at the end of these two.

And so that was a big win. And I agree with Mark. The whole presentation was just powerful. It’s funny. Maybe it just because I’m tired, but the further away you get, the less you know about the convention, and it boils down to a core theme, to one thing.

And so for the Republican Convention, I think of Trump’s speech and sort of the darkness, the fear of crime, the need for a strong arm really, and so that one core theme.

And then, for the Democratic one, I really think of Trump erratic. I think that was the big message that came out. The positive agenda for Hillary was a little less vibrant.

And of those two, I do think that the — right now, at least in my mind, the Democratic theme is eclipsing the Republican one. So, the Democrats won this volley, I think.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Mark, we’re hearing today that the numbers of people watching the conventions was a little bit higher for the Republican Convention.

How much do these conventions set the stage for the rest of this campaign? I think it’s, what, 101 days between now and the Election Day.

MARK SHIELDS: Well, if David and I are right, which is…

JUDY WOODRUFF: Ninety-nine percent of the time.

MARK SHIELDS: … a very long shot, then Hillary Clinton should get a bounce out of this convention, I mean a bounce in the polls. I think it’s probably conceded that Donald Trump got about a three-point bounce out of his conventions. He’s closed the gap that much.

And if she doesn’t, I mean, after what was a good convention — this is when you have the unfiltered message of your party and your candidate to the country, even a slice of the country, for four full days — then I think it’s some cause for alarm for the Democrats.

But, you know, I think what we’re looking at next, Judy, is the debates. You know, barring something major, a mishap on one side or a tragedy or a scandal, I think, you know, we’re looking at the debates, because I think that’s the kind of race it’s going to be.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And they don’t start, David, until the end of September and then into October. So, do these conventions, do they define this race going forward?

DAVID BROOKS: I think to some degree.

But now it’s my turn to rain on progressive overconfidence, because the two weakest speeches, major ones, for the Democrats were the two candidates, not that they were bad. They just weren’t up to the level of Biden’s, the Obamas, and Bloomberg’s even.

And so you have got two candidates on the Democratic side who may be making sense, may agree or disagree. They’re just not as vibrant personalities as Donald Trump.

And so, over the next month, until the debates, I expect Trump to do what he’s done very successfully, which is, whether you like him or not, he will be the dominant player here. He will be the one on offense. He will be the one serving volleys, and it may be some weird stuff about the Russians, but he will be controlling things a little more than he probably did over the last two weeks.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And is that now the way elections get decided, Mark?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, let me just dissent a little bit from David.

I think Donald Trump is obviously the more colorful, the more flamboyant, the more dominant personality. But take the Russia issue. You open up the convention, and you have got a report that the Democratic Party has been hacked by the Russians, e-mails, the e-mails of the Democratic Party, which is a headline and words that you don’t want, if you’re Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

And Donald Trump immediately takes the story and basically steps on the advantage he has and say, well, the Russians, who am I to tell Putin? You know, the Russians ought to come in and continue to hack our — and find out where the e-mails are.

I mean, it was — it was wrong, it was irresponsible, and it was unhelpful to his candidacy. In a strange way — there are a couple thoughts of David that reminded me of this — an awful lot of people don’t ordinarily have day-to-day contact with police officers.

In both Cleveland and Philadelphia, the police were enormously, enormously impressive, I mean, their temperament, to use a word that’s going to be central…


JUDY WOODRUFF: You don’t mean the police on the stage. You mean the police in the street.

MARK SHIELDS: No, I mean the police in the streets.

I mean, I really — the interaction with the police. They had to be tired. You know, they had a lot of jerks, including several in the press. And it was hot. It was hot. And they had long hours, and they were just so professional and so cool.

But it strikes me that it’s the competing pronouns that the Democrats did effectively, I vs. we. It’s we the people. And Donald Trump says nobody knows it like me, I can do it.

And I think that was a very effective construct in framing this race.


Just to pick up on the cops, we don’t really — I hadn’t really thought about it, but we all agree they did such a good job by not being overaggressive.


DAVID BROOKS: But for Donald Trump — just the political effects of that, Donald Trump’s argument is essentially it’s 1968, the cities are burning.

And if something really bad had happened in one of those two cities, that would have underlined that theme.

MARK SHIELDS: That’s right.

DAVID BROOKS: And nothing bad happened.

And so — but that doesn’t mean we’re not — it’s settled. Events are in the saddle here. If ISIS really begins a sort of continual series of weird, random attacks around the world, then that does underline the theme.

And that goes back to something I have been saying for the last couple of weeks, is, we’re not quite sure what ball game we’re playing here. If we’re playing the normal political rules, where you want to have people loving each other, compassionate, working together, being generous toward each other, being well-informed about the issues, well, if those are the rules, then the Democrats are doing really well.

But if we’re in some sort of Hobbesian state of nature, where you just want a strong man who has no compassion, who you just want a toughness, well, then that — by those rules, Donald Trump is going to do a little better. So, we will figure out what game we’re playing.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Which is what the Democrats were trying to say for three or four days — for four days, Mark, which, is, we don’t need this. We’re a strong people. We’re a good people and we don’t need some bully telling us what to do.

MARK SHIELDS: No, exactly. And the president did that, I thought. President Obama did.

In a strange way, Hillary Clinton was helped and victimized by Mr. and Mrs. Obama. I think Michelle Obama gave a speech…

JUDY WOODRUFF: Victimized? Really?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, politically, because they were just — you were talking about — I mean, Michelle Obama was probably better than Barack Obama, if you think about it.

Her speech is a masterful, masterful speech. And she delivered it in a persuasively conversational tone. You can’t say this is a political attack or a political document. It was just — so, in a strange way, she’s getting compared to — instead of to Donald Trump, she’s being compared to Joe Biden, who gave this emotional valedictory about America and his life, and both Obamas, who were dominant.

Tim Kaine reminds me of — Peter Hart, the pollster, has a question when he asks about presidential or vice presidential candidates, what kind of a neighbor would they be? And several Democrats — George W. Bush was always seen to be a good friendly neighbor who would pick up the newspapers if you were out of town or check your mail.

Tim Kaine is a good neighbor. He’s kind of the dependable, you know, friendly, helpful. And, you know, he would be over there. He would give you a hand if there were a problem at the house.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But does that help Hillary Clinton?


MARK SHIELDS: It does, because it gives Hillary Clinton — what they didn’t address at this convention is Hillary Clinton’s problems of her personality and her secrecy.

They tried through testimony. She just can’t open up herself. She can’t make fun of herself. She can’t be self-deprecating, or at least, if she can, she wasn’t, made the decision not to be. And so Tim Kaine kind of gives the warmer, human face of the Democrats.

DAVID BROOKS: But if she’s elected, this will be an issue and this will be a problem for her.

It’s important for presidents to emotionally connect, with the country in times of crisis, but also with people in Washington. If you can’t emotionally connect — and Obama is not the greatest, but he can at least do it — then people won’t be with you when the times are hard.

There will just always be a distance between you and the people around you. Now, she can clearly emotionally connect with her intimates within the zone of trust. It’s just the wall outside the zone of trust is so impermeable. And so I do think — I was really struck, like every pundit, from Mark and I on down…

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, on down, for sure.


JUDY WOODRUFF: You guys are right up there.

DAVID BROOKS: Everyone is saying, show some vulnerability, emote, emote, emote.


DAVID BROOKS: And they must have said that internally. And she’s still — she’s such a private person. She just didn’t do it.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But it almost sounds like you’re both saying — I don’t want to use the word doomed, but that the cake is baked, and she’s not going to be able to relate and open up.

I mean, but Donald Trump is relating…


MARK SHIELDS: This was a great opportunity to open up. It was on her terms. It was nonadversarial. It was in her control. And she chose not to.

I do disagree just with David on her vs. Obama inside in dealing. I think she would be far superior to President Obama, who is basically remote, aloof and not involved with — he doesn’t deal with members of Congress. And he plays golf every time with three staff members.

He never, ever thinks of including a John Boehner or anybody else, which is very easy to do. But he obviously views golf as his time, and that alone.

But she showed, while in the Senate, that ability to connect and reach across and to forge alliances. I think she will be better. But I think the problem with connecting emotionally with the people remains at large is — in a wholesale way.

DAVID BROOKS: I stand corrected. That seems true to me, what he just said.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But then you’re getting back — and we just have a minute or so — but you’re getting to the point that somebody who is good at governing may not be great at campaigning.


MARK SHIELDS: And the inverse, too. There are people who are great campaigners who aren’t…

DAVID BROOKS: Right. And we can certainly point to examples of that.

I think Mitch Daniels, the former governor of Indiana was a case of that, who was an outstanding administrator.

MARK SHIELDS: That’s right.

DAVID BROOKS: He was not a bad governor. He could be playful, but — or communicator.

I’m just saying it will — I think will be — every candidate comes into the White House, assuming if she wins, or if she does win, with strengths and weaknesses. This will be a weakness, because this was such an easy moment to show some heart.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, it was just a thrill to spend the last two weeks with — for Gwen and me to spend the last two weeks.



MARK SHIELDS: You couldn’t pass a polygraph test right now.


JUDY WOODRUFF: We just want you to go and get some sleep this weekend, like the rest of us want.

Thank you very much.

MARK SHIELDS: Thank you.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And we will see you next Friday.

MARK SHIELDS: Thanks very much.

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The one word Democrats hoped to avoid at convention — ‘emails’ — is back

Author: PBS NewsHour
Mon, Jul 25, 2016


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GWEN IFILL: With that, we turn to syndicated columnist Mark Shields, New York Times columnist David Brooks and Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report for a special convention edition of Politics Monday.

And since you’re usually in the Politics Monday chair, Amy, I guess I will start with you.

We sat here a week ago in Cleveland and talked about the chaos on the floor of the Republican Convention the first day. And it seems like we have the Democratic version of that.

AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: Don’t we?

That unity was the theme that we were going to see from the moment this convention started. Not surprisingly, they are starting off the very first day with Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders to try to quell or at least satisfy this crowd here. But it’s clear that there is a tremendous amount of enthusiasm. You know what I’m — for Bernie Sanders.

What I’m struck by was, in Cleveland, it was the establishment that stayed home and wasn’t there, but the floor was pretty united. There were some dissidents. Here, the establishment is completely united for Hillary Clinton, but the delegates are the ones who are not unified.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark Shields, as somebody who’s watched a lot of Democratic Conventions, what do you make of all this?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, I think Amy put her finger on it. This is a convention that one didn’t expect to begin with a political headline that involved the term e-mails, which is one the Democrats would like to avoid from now until November, especially with Russia in the second paragraph.

So I think that in itself is a little disturbing and unsettling. And the Bernie followers, not surprisingly, don’t follow. They are committed. And his endorsement, we will find out if he can deliver and he and Elizabeth Warren together are enough to make the case that it’s time to get in line and support Hillary Clinton.

GWEN IFILL: David Brooks, what does it tell you that the Bernie Sanders supporters, followers don’t follow and that he can say to his people — they sent out a text this afternoon saying, please don’t lead a protest on the floor. And that clearly has continued on. What does it tell us about that movement?


Well, on the one hand, revolutions always devour their own. The French revolutionaries learned this the hard way. And so, in some sense, it’s historical. But I do think something new is happening here, which is that social media is replacing political organizations, and that people who are whipped up by social media and who have a spontaneous, organic grassroots organization, that has its own momentum, its own rules, its own rhetorical etiquette, and it supersedes the stuff we’re normally used to setting here, where people are involved campaign to campaign and their ultimate loyalty to the party.

The people in the Sanders — are passionate, and their ultimate loyal is to the cause and the ideas, and not to the party.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Amy, how does Hillary Clinton put all this together? We haven’t even begun the first tight in terms of the big speakers. What’s the formula for her?

AMY WALTER: One part is to get the people who — folks in this hall do they believe speak for them, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, to come out right out of the bat.

And I also want to go to David’s points, because I think that is very important. The reality, the sort of interesting — I don’t know if it’s ironic, if I’m using that properly — about the DNC and the e-mails is that all this is coming at a time, we say this is so controversial that the DNC was sort of putting a finger on the scale, or more than a finger, an actual hand on the scale, for Hillary Clinton.

And yet the party apparatus is really pretty worthless. Bernie Sanders was able to raise money without the party. He didn’t need access to their donors. He didn’t need them to give access to the media. He didn’t need them to get access to voter files.

He was able to do that all on his own. So, Reince Priebus from the RNC, Debbie Wasserman Schultz from the DNC both finding out that the party in and of itself, as an apparatus, is really — if it’s not — I’m not going to say that it’s dead, but it certainly has not as much life in it that it once did.

GWEN IFILL: Since last we have been around the table, we now have a vice presidential pick from Hillary Clinton, Mark Shields, so what can you tell us about Tim Kaine? And will his — his presence actually on the ticket seems to have upset some Bernie supporters as well.

MARK SHIELDS: The hardest assignment over the weekend for any journalist directed by an editor was to find a Republican to say something negative about Tim Kaine.

When you have got Lamar Alexander, from Bill Bolling, the former lieutenant governor of Virginia, to John McCain, to Jeff Flake saying he’s a great friend, Pat Toomey, who hasn’t endorsed — these are people who haven’t endorsed Donald Trump — basically saying what a wonderful person Tim Kaine is, I have never seen Hillary Clinton look as comfortable in any public setting as she did on Saturday, when she announced Tim Kaine.

She has a partner in Tim Kaine with which she can be comfortable. He’s dependable. He’s unflamboyant, and he’s got her back. And he is not going to embarrass her. And I just think, in that sense, it’s a choice for the long run. It’s a not choice for the short run. It’s not just to win an election. It’s not a — I could see them as a partner if, in fact, she does win in November.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, David Brooks, how does Tim Kaine change anything in this very explosive contest between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump?

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I think he might be a key to some sort of actual electoral majority, or at least a step in that direction.

Listen, since we last met, we have seen some of the polls out of the Republican Convention. The polls are obviously volatile at this time of the year, but nonetheless there was a bump and there was a significant bump. And so it should send a little source of concern, not panic, in Democratic ranks, but there should definitely be concern, because there was a much bigger bounce than I certainly expected.

GWEN IFILL: Well, there was one poll that said there was a bounce. Another poll said…


DAVID BROOKS: Right. I think there are now a couple showing some sort of bounce.


DAVID BROOKS: And so, anyway, something seems to be working.

And the one thing I think the place this election is going to be settled is in suburban service worker office parks, people who are part of the global economy, people who are not upset by necessarily trade or immigration, things like that. And if your party comes out and looking like you’re hostile to the global economy, I think you’re going to have trouble with those people.

And Tim Kaine is very acceptable to your basic moderate independent who might be put off by Trumpianism and Sandersism.


GWEN IFILL: With the isms.

Tim Kaine also managed somehow to change his mind about the Trans-Pacific trade policy just in time to get this nomination or to get this selection.

Can he be expected to be that bridge, Amy?

AMY WALTER: Well, there are a lot of anti-TPP signs being waved on the floor.


AMY WALTER: And I think the challenge, at this exact moment, is that Tim Kaine doesn’t excite the base as much as he placates a lot of Republicans and those suburban voters. And so I think Tim Kaine is a longer-run pick.

We talked about why Mike Pence picked by Donald Trump. That was a short-term pick to fix his convention problem and his Republican problem. Hillary Clinton has a longer-term look, which is, I need to go get those suburban women, those college-educated white voters who right now are very skeptical about Donald Trump. Who’s going to win those over? I think Tim Kaine is the reason.


MARK SHIELDS: Well, in a year, quite frankly, where it’s been bizarre, whether in fact you have two candidates with negative favorable/unfavorable ratings, you have Bernie Sanders, you have Ted Cruz, you have all the Republicans, Tim Kaine, more than anything, in the phrase of Warren Harding, is a return to normalcy.

He is just so relentlessly normal. I just think there was a sense of relief in the country.


Well, we can’t wait to spend more time talking to you all tonight and for the rest of this week. Mark Shields, David Brooks, Amy Walter, thank you all.

And we ask you again tune in tonight starting at 8:00 p.m. Eastern for our special NPR/”PBS NewsHour” coverage of the Democratic National Convention here in Philadelphia.

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Shields and Brooks on the Hillary Clinton veepstakes, the latest Trump-Cruz dustup

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Jul 22, 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.

And we welcome both of you, after four interesting days in Cleveland together.

MARK SHIELDS: We can’t get enough of it.


JUDY WOODRUFF: You’re right.

So, everybody’s speculating, Mark Shields, about Hillary Clinton’s choice for vice president. In fact, we just got word a few minutes ago that maybe she is going to tweet about it in the next few minutes. We’re keeping an eye on that.

But, meantime, what should we be — what do we know at this point about what she’s thinking? Do you have insights that you want to share with us?


I have in my pocket — no, Hillary Clinton has emphasized that she is afflicted with or possessed of the responsibility gene. And that is that she takes a serious responsibility of her appointments and the people around her. And that’s probably the strongest argument that can be made for Tim Kaine, the senator from Virginia, who you tried — you talked with Hilary Rosen.

But I have no inside information. And Bill Clinton, of course, went off the reservation, as he has more than once, by recommending Tim Kaine , which probably may put him in jeopardy, because now it looks like, if she does pick him, that he somehow would — she would be bowing to the big fellow’s will or direction or influence. I don’t know.

JUDY WOODRUFF: David Brooks, what do your direct sources in the Clinton camp tell you?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, it’s interesting to watch the two candidacies go — they used to go for geographical opposites or ideological opposites.

Now they are apparently going for temperamental opposites, because Donald Trump picked a remarkably nice guy in Mike Pence. And the three people who are most often talked about with Hillary Clinton, whether it’s Tim Kaine or Vilsack or Cory Booker, they are three extremely nice people.

And we will have a tonal change between the presidential debates and the vice presidential debates which will blow your mind. They are all — especially Kaine, sunny dispositions, open personalities and extremely likable.

And so, as with the case of Pence, giving a little aurora of likability to a candidate, a lead candidate who’s a little lacking in that department.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, this is a decision, Mark. They say the choice of a vice presidential running mate doesn’t make all that much difference in the outcome, but it does tell you something about the thinking of the person who is running for president, doesn’t it?

MARK SHIELDS: Absolutely, Judy.

And remember this. The person you’re choosing is going to be 90 feet down the hall for four years. That’s a pretty intimate and close relationship, and it better be somebody you’re comfortable with, you like, you trust, you look forward to seeing, not someone you’re coming up with creative ideas on how to avoid.

I had one very prominent and partisan Republican say to me that he personally hoped that Secretary Clinton would choose Tim Kaine. And I asked why. And they said because he’d like one of the four people running for vice president to be somebody he thought could be president, which I thought was quite a tribute and testimony itself.

But it does tell you, I mean, whether you’re comfortable. I think David’s point is a very good one, that Mike Pence is a sunny conservative. I thought he had a good convention. And I think that the people that are publicly on her short list all are very congenial people. They’re not people with personality or Captain Queeg problems.

JEFFREY BROWN: David, what would you add to that?


I think I agree, especially on the plausible president point. Kaine has been obviously a governor. He’s been a senator. He’s one of the smartest rising stars in the Democratic Party. He is very plausible as someone who could sit in and be president.

Jim Stavridis is the former NATO commander who is sometimes on people’s lists, also very plausible, self-possessed, someone with sobriety. And so there’s so much strangeness in this year. These are all people who do seem relatively normal, relatively stable and warm, but not without gravitas in their own way.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, David, let me stay with you, because I was going to turn right now and ask you both about assessing the convention that we all have been watching closely over the week.

But Donald Trump actually stepped into a little more controversy today. He had a news conference. He talked about how he didn’t want Ted Cruz’s endorsement, even if Cruz offered it. And he went on to bring up, to resurrect controversy in the past when he suggested that Cruz’s father might have some connection to the John F. Kennedy assassination, comments about the looks of Ted Cruz’s wife.

What does this say to us about Donald Trump?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, he has teleprompter moments, but they always precede a relapse.

And he’s had another Trump-being-Trump relapse. And we should get used to that. He’s never going to be someone who’s normal or is on message or who is particularly charitable to anybody.

My two big takeaways 24 hours later, first, I’m beginning to think Cruz had a good convention, that if Trump goes down, Cruz is pretty well positioned to be the Republican major figure in four, six or even within two years.

The second big thing, we talked about it last night, his decision to go law and order. And at the moment, I thought it was a mistake, because I do think economic and social anxiety is the number one issue. And I’m pretty confident Hillary Clinton will be really riding that train pretty hard.

But what happened in Munich today, if there is a series of attacks like that or, God forbid, if ISIS is really sending soldiers across Europe and maybe across the world for a barrage of these things, then the political climate is revolutionized here. And maybe the Trump speech will look like a precursor to a climate that we’re all about to walk into.

So the Munich thing has to adjust the way we look back at that convention.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark, what about that?

Does — we talked about the law and order emphasis from Donald Trump’s remarks last night. Does he automatically benefit from incidents like this one today in Munich?

MARK SHIELDS: Yes. Yes, he does.

Judy, the pattern of American presidential elections is that the more optimistic candidate, whether it’s John Kennedy and let’s get America moving again, Ronald Reagan, it’s morning in America, or Barack Obama, yes, we can, always wins, or nearly always wins.

And that’s been tapped into sort of the DNA of Americans, that optimism and confidence. We are not nearly as optimistic and far less confident than we were as a people. And Donald Trump is writing a different theme, which is it’s midnight in America and that things are bad, and they’re bleak, and they’re gloomy and they’re doomy, and the only thing that is going to save you is someone with the authority and power of somebody like me.

And so I personally believe that he’s wrong on the condition of America.

JUDY WOODRUFF: About the condition…

MARK SHIELDS: We’re not being invaded by undocumented immigrants who are coming to kill police officers and commit crimes.

I don’t think that’s true. And I don’t think most Americans think it’s true, but it does reinforce his argument, as the law and order candidate, when there are acts of such reckless and terrible, horrific lawlessness as there was today in Munich.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, David, all in all, this was a good convention for Donald Trump?

DAVID BROOKS: I would say I would give it maybe a five out of 10. It was shambolically organized.

I still think the speech was relentlessly negative and probably off-key, but it did hammer home some points. And the one thing I do think Hillary Clinton really has to do in her convention is to rebut this frame that Trump has set up, nationalism vs. globalism. She cannot appear as a globalist, whatever that means.

She’s beginning to do that by talking about American greatness, but that’s the task in front of her.

JUDY WOODRUFF: What about that, Mark? What does she need to do?

MARK SHIELDS: I think she has got to be optimistic. I think she has to be — she has to reveal herself. I mean…

JUDY WOODRUFF: What do you mean? She’s been around for a long time.

MARK SHIELDS: I mean, there are people who know Hillary Clinton who tell wonderful stories about her, how likable she is, how funny she is; 99 percent of American people don’t — have never seen that side of her.

Whether it’s her guarded privacy or whatever else, I mean, there has got to be some sense that this is a human being that I can identify.

Let me argue with David, dissent with him on Ted Cruz. If Donald Trump does lose, and especially if he loses the way that David describes, being revealed as this bizarre personality, Ted Cruz is not going to be what Republicans are looking for in 2020.

Dan Coats, retiring senator from Indiana, a mild-mannered man, a former United States ambassador to Germany, former congressman, a respected member of the Senate, said of Ted Cruz after this week in Cleveland he’s the most self-centered, narcissistic, pathological liar I have ever seen. And he said, you can quote me on that.

Now, this is the kind of feeling that his colleagues have. People are going to be asking anybody at 2020 after this kind of election that David and I both expect it to be, what kind of person is this? Is this somebody we can be comfortable, somebody we can be confident in, somebody who is not neurotic or worse?

JUDY WOODRUFF: You’re talking about Ted Cruz at this point.


MARK SHIELDS: And Donald Trump.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Donald Trump agrees with him.

MARK SHIELDS: That’s right. Right.

JUDY WOODRUFF: David Brooks, what about Mark’s point about Hillary Clinton needs to show more of who she really is, something personal about herself? What about that?

DAVID BROOKS: It is true there is a contrast between the candidates.

It is absolutely true the people who work for Hillary Clinton speak of her in glowing terms and say she’s loyal, she’s thoughtful, she thinks about them, she remembers birthdays. When something bad has happened, she’s there for them.

These are not stories you hear about Donald Trump. Nobody is saying, I wish — the Trump I know is so personal and warm. Nobody says that. Even if his own daughter, when she talks — Ivanka, when she talks about her dad, it’s because she got to go see him on a work site. It’s not because he is ever at home.

But, with Hillary, there is apparently this warm side that she has never let us see, but that intimates really do talk about. But to reveal that would mean breaking through the wall of distrust that she’s encased herself in for the last 25 years.

And I’m not sure she’s — she’s never shown a personal willingness to do that, because it makes her vulnerable. And her emotional invulnerability has at once made her survive, but has hurt her politically and her likability ratings. So, I really don’t expect her to do that.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Just very quickly to both of you, there was such a vitriolic — no other word for it — hatred of Hillary Clinton, with the “Lock her up” and “Hillary to Prison” coming out of the Republican Convention.

David, quickly, is there something she can do to undo that animus, or is it just baked in?

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I don’t think she can do anything.

It will be interesting to see how much animus there is against Donald Trump and whether we have the same sort of emotional tone.

MARK SHIELDS: Yes, Democrats, if they’re smart and they’re not brain-dead, are doing two things right now.

They’re having self-deprecating humor written for them. There was no humor in Cleveland. And they are not making this a Donald Trump…


JUDY WOODRUFF: Bashing convention.


JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark Shields, David Brooks, get some rest this weekend. We will see you Monday at the convention in Philadelphia. Thank you both.

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The nomination night message Trump is aiming to hit home

Author: PBS NewsHour
Thu, Jul 21, 2016


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JUDY WOODRUFF: And from there, we go to our team of analysts here in the booth, who are with us all evening and all week and next week, David Brooks of The New York Times, syndicated columnist Mark Shields, and Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report.

So, let’s talk a little bit about what you heard.

David Brooks, Mike Pence and Donald Trump?

DAVID BROOKS: Pepto-Bismol. He calms things down.

And so he’s a very conventional conservative, very — pretty orthodox conservative, somebody who’s been involved in Republican circles forever, has such a sweet disposition. And so he takes the things Donald Trump says and he sorts them, makes them seem normal.

And one of the things the Trump campaign has got to do is try to make him seem like a normal candidate. And Pence has managed to be good at that.


AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: And he’s incredibly on message.

This is the one person you don’t have to worry about freelancing. What we have seen at this convention and what we saw from some of the other candidates who were sort of in the race for vice president, like Newt Gingrich, they’re going to go off on their, sort of riff on their own sort of tangent.

Mike Pence is going to do what the Trump campaign needs him to do, period, exclamation point. The other thing that Mike Pence does besides soothing the edges of Donald Trump, is he soothes a lot of candidates down-ballot.

You can send Mike Pence to any one of these battleground states where the Senate majority is on the line, and candidates are going to want to stand with him, even those candidates who aren’t going to show up at a Trump rally.

GWEN IFILL: Mark, you have to listen carefully to Judy’s conversation with Mike Pence to realize that sometimes he’s actually disagreeing with the guy whose ticket he’s on.

But — so when he says he’s going to go and have a heart-to-heart with him whenever they have mild disagreements, not that people care if vice presidents and presidents agreed all the time, does that mean he can make a — that he can engineer a change of heart if he feels strongly about something?

MARK SHIELDS: Probably not. That’s not the historic role of vice presidents.

They don’t have that much influence on the presidential candidate who has won the nomination and given them — the only person that has a vote in the vice presidential nomination is the presidential candidate.

But I do want to say about Mike Pence, it’s the first Reaganesque figure we have seen at this convention.

GWEN IFILL: What do you mean?

MARK SHIELDS: In the sense of Ronald Reagan was an upbeat, reassuring and civil and just appealing figure.

In the conversation with Judy, there wasn’t the adversarial. There wasn’t the chip on the shoulder. That’s not part of Mike Pence. And I thought his speech last night was quite Reaganesque in the sense of putting a smiling face on conservatism, which has been missing this week.

DAVID BROOKS: It should be said this is not like the distinction between Joe Biden and Barack Obama or Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

This is not like, oh, we have got two normal guys, they’re in the party and they have some differences. This is here and here. Ronald Reagan was an upbeat, market-oriented, outward-looking, sort of optimistic, future-oriented politician.

Donald Trump is a fear-oriented, backward-looking, closed-in politician.

GWEN IFILL: Let’s talk about a lot of other things going on tonight, because, tonight, we’re going to hear from Donald Trump, the big nomination acceptance speech.

And all day long, it’s been kind of overshadowed by what Ted Cruz did last night. They’re not talking about Mike Pence. They’re not talking about even what Donald Trump is expected to do. They’re talking about the fact that Ted Cruz kind of poked the candidate in the eye.


AMY WALTER: I have never been at a convection where as much time and energy was expended on what’s going to happen in the next election than what’s going to happen in this one.

And while Ted Cruz did it most aggressively by basically coming out to somebody’s party and, you know, just spilling the drinks everywhere, every other candidate has also gone up there and done a much more subtle way of saying, you know what, I have a different vision of where our country is going and a different vision for where the party needs to go than Donald Trump does. I’m going to stand up here and say that he’s the nominee.

That doesn’t mean they’re all lining up behind him. This last day, though, this is Donald Trump’s day. He’s not going to rescue this convention. It’s still going down in history as being unconventional and disruptive.

But he has a chance here to make a good impression. And I think the good news for him is that the bar is much lower than it was before we started this.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark Shields, what is the burden for Donald Trump tonight? What does he need to do?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, oh, sure.

Well, the burden — just one quick thing on Ted Cruz, and that is, he had a chance, like Ronald Reagan did in 1976 in Kansas City, to make the case for electing — or, you know, really separating himself as a distinct political figure. He chose not to.

And as Jeb Bush and John Kasich chose not to endorse and honor their pledge to endorse, they stayed away. He came to the room to do it, high-risk politics for him.

As far as our nominee, Donald Trump, tonight, Judy, he’s got to excite his base. He’s got to unite the country. It’s a mood for change in the country. But the problem with Donald Trump is that the change he represents, to a majority of Americans right now, is not reassuring. It’s unreassuring.

And I think that’s his job tonight, and especially to lay out a jobs program.

JUDY WOODRUFF: David Brooks?

DAVID BROOKS: First, on Cruz, if I can get my bite in, I start with the proposition that Trump is not a normal politician.

He doesn’t cross the threshold, and this is going to end very badly for him, either in November or beyond. And if you start with that premise, then what Ted Cruz did, while nakedly ambitious, was courageous and probably the right thing to do. If your party is sliding into some sort of chaotic land of hollowed out, then if you stand before history and yell stop, you will be rewarded in years and years to come, in the way that none of the others will be.

As far as Trump, he has picked law and order as his theme. And so he has got to persuade Americans that their fundamental problem is violence, and that crime and terrorism are the first things on their agendas affecting their lives, and, therefore, they need a guy like him. I’m not sure that’s true, but I think that’s more less the task he has assigned himself.

GWEN IFILL: David Brooks, Mark Shields, Amy Walter, thank all you very much.

Well, we have a lot more to talk about, if you need more, which I’m sure you do. Tune in later tonight, beginning at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time, for our special NPR/”PBS NewsHour” coverage of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

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Will Mike Pence help change the tone of the RNC?

Author: PBS NewsHour
Wed, Jul 20, 2016


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JUDY WOODRUFF: And with that report, we turn to syndicated columnist Mark Shields, New York Times columnist David Brooks, and Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report, who are also joining us around this table each night for our live convention coverage.

Welcome to all three of you. We love spending all this time with you.

Mark, is the Donald Trump we’re seeing in this reports that Gwen prepared, is that the Trump coming through at this convention?

MARK SHIELDS: Unfortunately, yes.

It was a terrific piece of reporting, but I think it is coming through, Donald Trump’s ego, Donald Trump’s vanity. It’s — I don’t think it’s necessarily flattering to him, but I think it is coming through.


DAVID BROOKS: I don’t think so. I think there is a patina of normalcy in this convention.

Like, we sit in the booth like we always do every four years. We get french fries or whatever — I get at least every four years.


DAVID BROOKS: And so it seems like, oh, we’re at another convention.

But this is not another convention. This is a party that used to believe in free trade, immigration, capitalism, compassionate conservatism, and that party is gone, at least on the podium. And the Republican Party is nominating a guy without any known principles, without any known experience, without any known ethical standards.

It’s bizarre. I mean, I’m getting more cosmically depressed the more I think — I step back from the normal patina of life here and think about what’s actually happening.

GWEN IFILL: And as Amy wrote in her column for The Cook Political Report today, the same cheesy music from the band.

AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: It is the same cheesy music.

GWEN IFILL: That’s my — that’s Amy’s opinion, not mine.


JUDY WOODRUFF: They’re going to be insulted by this.


GWEN IFILL: How different is this convention from — I mean, four years ago, we were all here, and there was Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, four years before that, John McCain and Sarah Palin. And this in some ways is exactly the same as we have always seen, and in some ways it’s so different.

AMY WALTER: And yet they feel very different.

GWEN IFILL: The party is so different.

AMY WALTER: The party is so different, in part because I don’t think there is a party.

This is Trump’s convention, and he has put his stamp all over it, and we are going to once again see him tonight and of course his big speech on Thursday. But this party is not Trump’s. And you could feel that in the hall. We talked a lot about the disunity among many members of the delegation, the fact that the hall is not filled, the fact that speaker after speaker has come up and given their version of what they see as the Republican Party.

It’s not necessarily the version that Donald Trump has. To have Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, not mention any — the most important parts of the Donald Trump messaging, the wall, immigration, trade, I think, was quite important and quite significant.

I will be very curious to see what Senator Ted Cruz says tonight. He is somebody who has yet endorse Donald Trump. And there is no indication that he is going to do that tonight. Instead, he’s going to put out his vision of the Republican Party.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And yet, Mark, a lot of these delegates really like Donald Trump and think he’s just what their party needs, what the country needs.

MARK SHIELDS: They do. I don’t think there is any question. A very healthy majority of them do.

I just have one point that I want to make about this election, this campaign, this convention. And it reminds me — just before the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the civil war — the end of the Cold War, Georgy Arbatov was a Soviet expert on the United States.

And he made a brilliant prediction. He said to the United States, we’re going to do a terrible thing to you. We’re going to deprive you of an enemy. And the organizing principle of the United States defensive foreign policy had been opposition to the Soviet Union. There is no more Soviet Union.

If you take Hillary Clinton out, there is no organizing principle for this convention. Last night, Mitch McConnell spoke, Republican leader of the Senate; 24 times, he mentioned Hillary Clinton. Five times, he mentioned Donald Trump. Twice as often, Hillary Clinton has been mentioned as has Donald Trump.

And I think it’s true in this campaign. If Hillary Clinton disappeared tomorrow and Donald Trump was a referendum up or down, he would be in trouble. And I think the same thing is true for the Democrats.

GWEN IFILL: So, Mike Pence steps up to the podium tonight. This is his big moment, even though a lot of people feel they know him. Does that make a difference? Does that begin to orient this party or orient this convention, David Brooks, or is it just going to be what it’s going to be?

DAVID BROOKS: I doubt it will make a difference. The Trump persona is sort of dominating this atmosphere.

But at least we might get an emotional break. I’m sort of struck about the emotional tone of the convention, which the first night was about loss. The second night, let’s face it, it was sort of about hatred. It’s hard to say you want to lock up Hillary Clinton without actually hating her. And it’s hard to imagine a party that is not corrupted by hatred.

And, also, it’s funny you mention Arbatov. We — they took away the Soviet Union as an enemy. We have got an ally apparently in Vladimir Putin, who we have now adjusted the platform to soften the Republican Party’s view of Vladimir Putin, so we have got sort of a soft-core Putinism going on here.

But Pence is a nice guy, a warm guy, a genial guy. And that’s not exactly the tone we have been hearing. So, I’m hoping…

GWEN IFILL: Do you think he will talk about the wall?

DAVID BROOKS: I would be — I will jump out of the…



GWEN IFILL: No. Don’t do that.


DAVID BROOKS: He will not talk about the — I would be very surprised.

AMY WALTER: What I’m really surprised that we haven’t heard about — and Donald Trump is the one that I expect to make this message the most strongly — is that all this establishment — we have been talking about disunity, disunity this whole time, but Donald Trump won this nomination.

And Donald Trump is getting anywhere from 40 to 45 percent of the vote right now. He is close to Hillary Clinton, either tied or a couple of points behind. And his message is resonating with a good group, a good, significant chunk of voters.

That’s the message that’s coming across here that’s not coming across from the establishment, this idea that they have been left behind, that the establishment still isn’t putting policies forward that address economic stagnation, the feeling they have of this loss.

And until that happens, which I think needs to happen tonight, then you know, we’re going to get that change.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark, do you agree? That’s what — what do they need to do tonight and tomorrow night to fix or to fill out what the message has been so far?

MARK SHIELDS: To be the party of open arms, rather than clenched fists.

And I think Mike Pence is a step in the right direction that way. It’s interesting. Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, others have used him as a hook for sort of speaking positively about the Trump candidacy. Mike Pence gives a legitimacy…

GWEN IFILL: Wasn’t that the plan for Trump all along?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, I don’t know.

Mike Pence is still in small print on the sign. And he had barely a walk-on cameo apart in his own announcement last Saturday. So, tonight, this is really the first chance to see and see what his role might be in this campaign.

GWEN IFILL: I saw Donald Trump Jr. today at an event in which he basically said that Mike Pence was a calming influence, and they couldn’t pick any of the other finalists because you didn’t need two Donald Trumps being another Donald Trump.

MARK SHIELDS: That’s right.


GWEN IFILL: So they seem to recognize on some point the need for a calming influence, David.

DAVID BROOKS: And someone who seems a little genial and will reassure orthodox conservatives.

There really are, I think — OK, I’m quoting Amy’s newsletter today. But there are several — I’m struck by how many different parties there are here. There is a Kasich party. There is a Cruz party. There is sort of a Trump thing.

And then there is an — even an old-guard George H.W. Bush-Bob Dole party lurking here in the corners.


DAVID BROOKS: And so Pence is not offensive to any of those parts of the parties, whereas Trump is alien.

GWEN IFILL: I have to say it’s good to hear that you are reading each other’s…



GWEN IFILL: … and quoting each other, and not just…


JUDY WOODRUFF: But they always do, don’t they?

GWEN IFILL: They do.

Thank you all very much, Amy Walter, ark Shields, David Brooks. We’re going to see you all later tonight.

And you can stay with us as well tonight, beginning at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time, for our special NPR/”PBS NewsHour” coverage of the Republican presidential convention in Cleveland.

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At a disunited Republican convention, the one thing that unifies

Author: PBS NewsHour
Tue, Jul 19, 2016


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JUDY WOODRUFF: Happening right now on the convention floor, the delegates are taking the roll call state by state, casting their votes to formally nominate Donald Trump as the Republican candidate for president.

Our Lisa Desjardins is down there.

Lisa, we heard a few mild boos a minute ago. What was that all about?

LISA DESJARDINS: That’s right.

What those boos are, Judy and Gwen, are the cracks in the Republican surface coming to bear. Some of these states have divided delegations, Judy and Gwen. And some of them are voting not majority for Trump.

Other delegations say they’re not able to cast their votes the way they want. You might have a delegation where the primary went overwhelmingly for Donald Trump, but a delegate in their own heart says, I don’t want support Donald Trump, and they’re trying to vote a different way.

So that fracture is coming to surface, as some of these delegates are trying to object to the way this roll call is being handled. I will also say, even though those boos were allowed, it’s a minority so far of the delegates, but it’s very significant.

JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, Lisa, I was reading a little bit of the noise from Ohio and a little bit from Colorado. We can explore that as the night goes on.

But, right now, we want to bring in our regulars who are joining us every night here at the convention, Mark Shields, who is a syndicated columnist and also with the “NewsHour,” David Brooks, columnist with The New York Times, Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report.

To all three of you, we’re waiting for Donald Trump to be nominated, but today has been pretty much consumed with a lot of conversation about what his wife said in her speech last night and whether there was any similarity with the speech given by Michelle Obama in 2008.

David, is this something that is going to put a blemish on the whole affair?

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I think so. It was plagiarism. I thought it was pretty clear.

I think it says a couple things. First, the staff is not that good. This is an outsider campaign. They haven’t hired the best people, the professionals, and so that showed. Whoever did it, it was a big mess-up that no professional would do.

Second, they couldn’t admit it. They couldn’t just say, OK, we messed up, we’re firing somebody, we admit it, we’re moving on, because that’s not Donald Trump’s persona.

And, third, I have a feeling that the shoe is yet to drop, that somewhere in this country, Donald Trump is sitting there, wanting to defend his wife’s honor, wanting — getting mad because people are attacking his family, and, somehow, he is going to riff on this.

And it might be Thursday night in the hall or it might be somewhere else, but there will be another little mini-bomb, when Donald Trump reacts.

GWEN IFILL: Late last night, we were sitting around here at this table and we were talking about missed opportunities on the opening day of the convention.

Is this another one, Amy?

AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: Absolutely.

And we talked yesterday about the unity, and we were talking to Lisa Desjardins right now about, is this party unified?

Right now, we’re having an instance where the campaign isn’t even unified. Part of the problem with the speech and the reaction to the speech was that the campaign started pointing fingers at each other. And it became a circular firing squad. This is the thing that David is talking about.

In professional campaigns, this is not supposed to happen. So it is one more example of a campaign that is yet to get on message. They’re going to get their take two on unity tonight, but they still have not nailed that down.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark, how do you see this?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, what happens at conventions, historically, Republican and Democratic, nobody speaks a word that hasn’t been vetted and hasn’t been re-vetted.

It isn’t spontaneous. You don’t get up there and chat. This should have been, and it wasn’t. And this was the introduction of the candidate’s wife, who is not a public person, who made a positive contribution, who was quite appealing. And it turns out that she’s — and said she had written the speech herself.

And it turns out that large segments and large paragraphs borrowed directly from Michelle Obama’s 2008 speech. And you’re right. Somebody has to go. But Donald Trump has never admitted. He refused last week to admit it was a mistake to say that John McCain wasn’t a hero.

GWEN IFILL: Here we are the night of the big nomination, when usually it’s just our candidate is so fabulous. There is nothing that could possibly go wrong.

And, instead, we have mild boos. We have people who still feel like they have been shut out of the process. Is that where this party is now, or are we just looking at something that is going to blow over?

AMY WALTER: That is the definition of this party right now. It is not a unified party. In fact, the only thing that is unifying this party — and you’re going to hear it, I think, again tonight — we heard it yesterday — is deep dislike of Hillary Clinton. Take that away, and on policy, on strategy, on direction for the country, this is a party that is just literally splintered.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And I guess that raises the question, David, is that going to be enough? We certainly heard over-the-top language about Hillary Clinton, she should be in prison and a lot other tough words about her. Is that going to be enough?

DAVID BROOKS: To unify the party?

JUDY WOODRUFF: To unify the party.

DAVID BROOKS: I don’t think so.

You have got to remember how many people are not here. It’s really striking. You hang around the press areas at these conventions, there’s usually a lot of people to schmooze with who are, like, at the Republican Conventions every year — or every four years — and you see them and you get some information from them.

The hallways are sort of empty, because those people are not here. Second, a lot of people are not in the hall. I had coffee with a delegate today who sort of had his credentials sort of ripped away. And so that’s — a little of that is happening. And…

JUDY WOODRUFF: Why were his credentials taken away?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, he said some unfortunate things in the press, I guess. And so that sort of thing is happening.

And then so there is still a lot of people — you know, President Bush apparently, reportedly, wondering whether he will be the last Republican president. So, that stuff is happening in the party.

GWEN IFILL: You know what? If they start taking away credentials, David, from people who have said unfortunate things in the press, we will be keeping an eye on you.



GWEN IFILL: We will watching you very carefully.

But, Mark Shields, is there where we are now? And is there a way for the GOP to reposition itself? We saw the governor of Ohio is off worrying about down-ballot races, as are so many other Republicans. Is that the salvation?


No, obviously, and Mitch McConnell is here tonight, who has spoken openly, and not a man known for speaking openly, about his serious problems with Donald Trump, and Donald Trump’s slurring of large groups of people, and his insulting of his opponents, his defeated opponents.

And that’s what Mitch McConnell is all about, is preserving the Senate majority and hoping desperately for ticket-splitting to reemerge. I think that — I think the delegate thing is quite overstated. I will be honest with you. I have great respect for Lisa, but the reality is delegates lost their standing and conventions lost their standing in 1972.

That’s when we went to direct primary election — nomination of presidential candidates. Donald Trump won 3,700. He is the nominee. He is the commanding figure in this party. So, someone can stand up and say, I object. Fine. God bless them. But the reality is, he really did win a compelling victory.

You could get in a car in Concord, New Hampshire, and drive all the way to Shreveport, Louisiana, and never go through a state that Donald Trump didn’t carry.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, he may be the commanding figure, but there clearly are clearly elements of the party, which is what we’re talking about here, who are not happy that he’s the commanding figure. They don’t want him being the face of the Republican party.

AMY WALTER: This is what is going to be interesting to watch for tonight.

You have not only the Senate majority leader, but you have the speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, coming up and speaking, and Kevin McCarthy.

GWEN IFILL: Who is the chairman of the convention.

AMY WALTER: Who is the chairman of the convention.

And Kevin McCarthy, who is second in command in the House. They are all very concerned about what happens to down-ballot races. Listening to how they are going to thread the needle, as they have had to do throughout this campaign, between supporting the ticket, wanting to support their nominee, making sure that turnout doesn’t go down, but also, as Paul Ryan has talked about, allowing his members to — quote, unquote — “vote their conscience.”

If they don’t want to support the person on the top of the ticket, they don’t have to, if they think it will help them.

GWEN IFILL: I think every single conversation we have had with a Republican in this booth, when we ask them about the issues, they have always turned it back to talking about Hillary Clinton.


GWEN IFILL: And that does seem to be the most persuasive argument, David, that Republicans in this room have, which is, he may not be everything we want him to be, I may not have voted for him, I may not have endorsed him until last month, but we really, really, really can’t have Hillary Clinton.

DAVID BROOKS: Yes. No, I think that’s part of it.

It’s funny. In talking to — when you run into a senator or something in the hallway here and you ask them about Trump, it’s like they want you to know they really don’t like Trump, so — but they can’t really say it, so they got this little dance they do, this body language.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And these are the ones who are here.


DAVID BROOKS: Yes, exactly, right, but sort of a squirming little thing.


GWEN IFILL: I want to see that again.

DAVID BROOKS: And then the other thing, the Republicans here, and a lot of people who are Trump delegates, they’re party institutionalists.

They believe in this party. And it would be hard for them not to be themselves and not be loyal to it.

GWEN IFILL: Well, we’re going to pick up where we left off here, because there’s going to be a lot to talk about tonight.

Stay with us, beginning at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time, for our special NPR/”PBS NewsHour” coverage of the Republican presidential convention here in Cleveland.

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The latest from Cleveland as GOP convention start nears

Author: PBS NewsHour
Sun, Jul 17, 2016

Members of the Committee on Arrangements pose for a photo on the stage at Quicken Loans Arena as setup continues in advance of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio July 16, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein - RTSIBT5

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Shields and Brooks on ‘sweet’ Mike Pence, the challenge for the Republican convention

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Jul 15, 2016


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JUDY WOODRUFF: And that brings us to the analysis of Shields and Brooks.

That is syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

Gentlemen, we’re going to be lashed at the hip, I think, next week. You’re heading to Cleveland. And we don’t know whether there’s going to be disruptions or not.

But, Mark, let’s start by talking about Donald Trump setting the table. He has now chosen his running mate, Mike Pence. What do you think? We just heard from a reporter in Indiana. What do you make of this?

MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist: I think Mike Pence was the least Trump-like of the three finalists. And in that sense, he makes sense.

He’s got conservative — solid conservative credentials, especially with social conservatives. And he’s articulate. He’s personable, he’s got national ambitions. He’s made no secret of them in the past.

I would just remind him that it’s — a successful vice president — an unsuccessful vice presidential candidate has been elected president of the United States exactly once in the nation’s history. I mean, we have got President Joe Lieberman, President John Edwards.

JUDY WOODRUFF: You said an unsuccessful…

MARK SHIELDS: An unsuccessful. Franklin Roosevelt, who lost in 1920, and got elected in 1932.

So, it’s not necessarily a road to the White House on an unsuccessful vice presidential campaign. But I think he makes sense for Trump, given Trump’s special problems.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Makes sense?


JUDY WOODRUFF: We will let you explore that.

DAVID BROOKS, The New York Times: He does have special problems.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Makes sense?


MARK SHIELDS: I think special…


DAVID BROOKS: Yes, all right.

Yes, I think so. Of the three that were available. It wasn’t like everyone was available to him, and so he picked the one who doesn’t cause him any problems.

I got to know Mike Pence. I first met him in the early ’90s. He was a talk radio host in Indiana. I think his slogan was, I’m the Rush — decaf Rush Limbaugh.

MARK SHIELDS: That’s right. It was.

DAVID BROOKS: And so he was less spicy. And his demeanor is sweet and kind.

And in the House, he was successful, because he’s a nice guy, genuinely nice guy. But if he was a decaf Rush Limbaugh, I don’t know what he is to Donald Trump.


DAVID BROOKS: He is going to — I think he will disappear, frankly. I think it’s a less important vice presidential pick than any we have had, just because Trump is his own show.

And he hasn’t promoted a rival show. He’s just going to be his own show. And Pence will appear at the vice presidential debate, but I would be surprised if we were talking too much about him for the next few months.

MARK SHIELDS: One quick point, Judy, that Trump said that he wanted an attack dog, someone who could be a pit bull or whatever.

And Mike Pence is the opposite of that. He ran for Congress in 1988 and 1990 against a longtime Democratic incumbent, Phil Sharp, in that district, and he lost twice. And after the second defeat, he wrote an article entitled “Confessions of a Serial Negative Campaigner.”

And he apologized for running negative ads and so forth. I mean, that doesn’t sound like an attack dog to me.

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, unless they wanted a Middle Western, Midwestern…


DAVID BROOKS: … something, compared to Donald Trump.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Sweet? Sweet?


JUDY WOODRUFF: But what does it say, though? We have been hearing in the last 24, 48 hours about Donald Trump maybe having second thoughts at midnight last night. There was the back and forth.

He told one interviewer: “I’m close to a decision. I want somebody on national security.”

And then he told somebody else: “No, it’s down to three.”

What do you make of this whole process?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, this is not a real campaign.

Like, there is a certain norm of the way things are done. Usually, when you announce your vice presidential candidate, there is like a professional rollout. Like, you do trivial things like updating your Web page, which the Trump campaign didn’t do for a little while.

MARK SHIELDS: That’s right.

DAVID BROOKS: And so they’re just — it’s a one-man show.

And one gets the impression everyone else around is sort of in the dark, and Trump is deciding or not deciding. And, as a result, the institutional presence that a campaign has, where decisions get made, and things get done and conventions get organized, a lot of that, it’s unclear if that’s happening.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And speaking of that, Mark, comment on how they have handled this, the Pence rollout.

But here we are, two or three days ahead of the start of the convention. We still, as far as I know, as of an hour ago, didn’t have the schedule. We don’t know who’s speaking in what order, the kinds of things that the candidates normally do.

MARK SHIELDS: Historical and traditionally, yes.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Does that matter? I mean, can he just put on a great show and that’s all that really counts, or what?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, I think the convention, whether it’s for the Elks or for the aluminum siding industry or for a party, is basically the same thing.

It has — it’s to energize the people who were there, to validate them, to unite them. And in Donald Trump’s case, I think it’s to run a normal convention, and one where he’s not in any way criticizing or censuring Republicans who aren’t there, that he rises above, shows a spirit of magnanimity.

And I think that’s it, perhaps a lot more important whether Bobby Knight stiffs him and Don King doesn’t show up and Mike Tyson is invited.


I do think that that’s one of the keys for this convention. For me I want to see at least 30 or 40 members of the Trump family actually speaking at the podium, which it seems we’re getting close to that number.


DAVID BROOKS: But I do want — it will be curious to know how organized it is, because if they can’t organize a convention, how do they organize an administration or a fall campaign?

And then the emotional tone. Conventions are like coronations, but if you watch the Trump speeches leading up in the last couple of weeks, it’s filled — it’s sour. He’s sour. He’s filled with resentment. People aren’t treating me nice. CNN has been mean.

MARK SHIELDS: That’s exactly right.


DAVID BROOKS: And so that’s not a normal convention mood. So it will be interesting to see if he can pivot and actually be happy.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And on top of that, you have these world events that we’re following, this awful attack, Mark, last night in France, with all the — so many people killed in this sort of unspeakable act by this man who drove his truck through the crowd.

And then, tonight, we’re watching and trying to understand what’s going on in Turkey. What effect do events like this have on a presidential election?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, there is a certain numbing effect right now.

It’s crisis upon crisis, tragedy upon tragedy. And, I mean, I think we’re reeling, quite honestly. And Nice was just of a different order of magnitude, the idea of driving a truck through families and people celebrating independence day at 70 miles an hour, and not slowing down.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But does it mean that…

MARK SHIELDS: As far as our politics are concerned?

JUDY WOODRUFF: That Americans want a leader who is more stable, or someone who is going to change things?

MARK SHIELDS: I think there is always — in the short run, the call for bold action over thoughtful, restrained action has an appeal.

I mean, people are enraged, they’re insecure, they’re unsure, and the sure, certain trumpet that sounds has an appeal at a time like that. I mean, it’s not like we’re on the eve of an election, and not whether Donald Trump has a program or the credentials. But he is the bold voice, as opposed to the voice of restraint and experience that Secretary Clinton purports to offer.

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I don’t think Trump would exist as a viable candidate if it’s not for this climate for the past couple of years of psychological blows the world has endured.

You start with the economic stuff, anxiety which is of longstanding nature, but you go back to the beheadings, the ISIS beheadings. These were psychologically damaging for the country. And what we felt last week — we were on the show last week. It was rough.


DAVID BROOKS: It was a very depressing week.

And then this week is worse. And what’s going on in Turkey, it’s just the world is spinning out of order. And so that implicates the campaign in two ways. This campaign is in part a debate between an ardent nationalist, which Donald Trump is sort of a European-style blood-and-soil nationalist, vs. a candidate on the Democratic side who is more of a globalist, who believes in global institutions.

And these attacks all around the world, we see the dark side of globalization. And so I do think they help Trump. And then to me, the interesting thing is, people are going to want order, as Mark said. They are going to want somebody who is going to preserve order.

Normally, that means they want experience. And that would be good for Clinton. But I think in this climate of chaos, they are going to want toughness and the sort of like this authoritarianism. And that’s sort of up more Trump’s alley.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Even when there’s no link, no proven link, yet?

For example, in France, this man who drove this truck, Mark, they still don’t have a connection between him and ISIS. It could have been the act of one person disgruntled, upset with his life.

MARK SHIELDS: No, you’re right, Judy.

But, to David’s point, it’s nationalism, too. He was a Tunisian, of Tunisian origin and descent. So, he was the other. And think this is very much — that is very much in our politics.

David raised the point about chaos in the world. This is why the convention is important and Donald Trump’s deportment, comportment are, because, I mean, because this should be an advantage to him right now, as the out-party and the one who has been preaching this message of nationalism.

But he does projected chaos. And I think to that degree this — it hurts — it will hurt him, if in fact, at the convention in Cleveland, he personally exemplifies or represents chaos or the convention itself does. I think that’s a risk, a high risk for him.

DAVID BROOKS: It should be said that the New York Times/CBS poll came out this week, and it showed Clinton and Trump tied at 40.

And what is interesting about the polls over the past couple of months, is that he doesn’t move. He’s at 40. She rises and falls, but he doesn’t move. And so a lot of this climate is, I think, more affecting her vote somehow than his vote.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And that poll — those polls, I guess — and she did slip — I guess came after the really bad week she had with the release of the e-mails.

DAVID BROOKS: Some of it was the e-mails, but I think some of it was also just the Dallas, the police killings, somehow the sense of just social unraveling, all the comparisons people were making to 1968.

JUDY WOODRUFF: She did this past week — it seems like it was forever ago, but it was just Tuesday — she did get the endorsement of Bernie Sanders, who held out for a long time, Mark. Is that — how much — go ahead.


MARK SHIELDS: I think the timing was better. If anything, she did need a lift this week.

After Comey and the e-mails and after Dallas and after Baton Rouge and after Minnesota, she needed — Secretary Clinton needed a lift, and I think Bernie Sanders’ endorsement gave her a lift. If it had come two weeks earlier, as so many Clinton folks were urging and exhorting him to do, I don’t think it probably would have given the kind of upper that she did need at that time, even in the midst of a week in which it was very much eclipsed.

But Bernie made a good case for her candidacy, basically, based on Bernie’s campaign.

JUDY WOODRUFF: I was going to say, how enthusiastic was it?


MARK SHIELDS: No, that’s it. Nobody delivers. We don’t deliver anything in this country anymore, Judy. Nobody delivers votes.

But his enthusiastic endorsement of her and the party unity are going to be important.

JUDY WOODRUFF: What do you think?

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I think the Democratic Party will be united.

I have always thought that. She has now 85 percent of his vote. By the end of the convention, it will be 90-something. It will be united. I think what’s changing is, are his issues on the forefront anymore?

And so, if we look around the world right now, are the banks really what people are fearing most, or is it ISIS, or is it…


DAVID BROOKS: Or is it racial issues that have suddenly risen to the fore?


DAVID BROOKS: And so I think some of his issues, at least for the time being, are being eclipsed, and so that changes the landscape for her.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, speaking of one of those, we have almost forgotten to mention that there was another terrible — there were shootings, we have been watching, Mark, of black men by police.

But then we had just within the last week the terrible massacre of police officers in Dallas. And then there was this quite remarkable memorial service this week. And you were telling us earlier today it may be the one bright spot.

MARK SHIELDS: It was. It was the one bright spot for me in the whole week. It was almost traditional.

It was what Americans have come to expect at a time of crisis and tragedy. And that is bipartisanship. I mean, Ted Cruz, one of the president’s archest critics, flew down on Air Force One with him. John Cornyn, the Republican leader in the Senate, deputy leader, introduced the president.

The president — President George W. Bush, I thought, gave a quite personal Dallas perspective. And the president is comforter in chief. He does it so well. The police chief of Dallas, David Brown, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump ought to be grateful that he hasn’t entered any of the races. He’s just so impressive.

And I just thought there was a sense of unity, of reconciliation, of national agreement at that Dallas ceremony.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Quick word?

DAVID BROOKS: And I have to say, that’s what real America is.

I have been on this tour of the country the last several months to San Antonio or New Mexico or Fresno or West Virginia. And it’s — the country is filled with healers, people healing the social fabric. And we get down. The news events are horrible.

JUDY WOODRUFF: We focus on the bad things.

DAVID BROOKS: But there is a day-to-day reality. And it’s actually a little closer to what President Obama was saying than sometimes the coup and some of the horrible events that do we have to cover, obviously.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, it’s a better note to end on than most of the news tonight.

David Brooks, Mark Shields, thank you both. And we will see you in Cleveland.

MARK SHIELDS: Thank you. Look forward to it.

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Shields and Brooks on Dallas police murders, Trump’s Republican problem

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Jul 08, 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 to you both, although the show, the program tonight, Mark and David, consumed with these killings of two black men by police in Minnesota and Louisiana, and then, last night, this terrible attack on the police in Dallas.

What do you make of all this, David?

DAVID BROOKS, The New York Times: Well, it’s been a crappy week.

We have had the killings. We have had, frankly, both our presidential candidates behaving reprehensibly. And so I think we’re sort of at a moment where, on the one hand, a lot of harsh truths are being exposed, a lot of people who have been silent are speaking out.

And some of that is about violence, as we have seen, against African-Americans. Frankly, some of the Trump movement, it’s members of the white working class speaking out. And that’s all to the good.

The question, to me, is, are we going to speak out in a way that is actual dialogue and conversation, or are we going to drift into tribal thinking? There’s been a lot of rancid overgeneralizations in our society, that all African men behind the wheel are dangerous, that all Muslims are somehow involved in terrorism, that all cops are somehow at war with communities.

And if we can speak in a way that’s not tribalistic, that’s not making these generalizations, then we may make something out of the current moment. But I’m not always hopeful after a bad week like this one.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark, what do you make out of all this?

MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist: Judy, I think that we all — or at least I — speaking for myself, I was overconfident, over-optimistic in 2008.

I thought the original sin of America, racism, that it was a time to celebrate, that we had done something really rather remarkable in electing an African — and we did — electing an African-American president, and that, somehow, with — this terrible chapter was behind us.

The constant in every one of these killings and tragedies this week is race. And I get the feeling, almost like 1968, that events are in the saddle. It’s not Vietnam. There aren’t 548 Americans dying every week. And we haven’t had a James Earl Ray or a Sirhan Sirhan yet to assassinate our leaders, but just a sense, whether it’s Zika, whether it’s Istanbul, whether it’s Orlando, that events are in the saddle and that things are not going to get better.

And it’s a dreary political landscape right now.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, this is a year where there has been, David, a lot of anger and recrimination in the political conversation. How do the events of this week play into that? How do you see that?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, it’s a period of bad feeling.

And when bad feeling happen, then walls go up and things close. And we’re seeing a lot of closed-ness, a lot that things that were open, whether it was open trade, open free movement of people, open conversations, some of that’s closing, or at least the impulses within a lot of societies, including in NATO, by the way, which we just heard about, between Eastern and Western Europe, a lot of walls going up and a lot of candidates proposing walls going up.

And so when people are in a period of bad mood, then they want to hunker down and protect. And that’s the exact opposite from what we need now. And let’s be frank. It doesn’t help that we have an American political debate with basically one all-white party.

And that just means we fall along very polarized lines when we fall into the normal default position of politics, that we fall along racially polarized lines. And we have to acknowledge that’s an inherently dangerous situation, given everything else that’s happening.

JUDY WOODRUFF: What about that, Mark? Are we just not equipped to deal with these issues anymore, that we have become so polarized?

MARK SHIELDS: We have become incredibly polarized, Judy.

I don’t think if it’s a consequence or reflection of the silos from which we get our information, and I don’t have to listen to the other side. I can just get my own prejudice and perspective reinforced.

But we are in a time of incredible political division, made more so by our polarized politics. And we — there used to be a great test in politics when I first started in the business, and it used to be, can you make a statement for your candidate for 90 seconds without mentioning your opponent?

That’s unthinkable in this election year, when, according to the very respected Pew poll, a majority of both Secretary Clinton’s and Mr. Trump’s supporters are basically voting against their opponent, rather than for their own candidate. And I think that’s a reflection of the condition of our politics right now.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, if you single out, if you look at Donald Trump for a moment, David, he clearly has been saying some things that have brought, I think, consternation to some. And people would say, well, there’s blame to go around.

But Donald Trump was in Washington this week, we were told, to try to bring unity to the Republican Party, to meet, sit down with members of Congress who are Republican to try to bring them on board, and it ended up, apparently, in his meeting with Republican senators dissolving into more name-calling.

I mean, what — how united is the Republican Party right now with just one week to go before their convention?

DAVID BROOKS: Not at all.

He gave a speech earlier in the week, the Star of David, mosquito speech, whatever you want to call it. This speech — Mike Murphy, the Republican consultant, said he’s always ranting, but, sometimes, he veers into full drunk wedding toast mode.


DAVID BROOKS: And that speech was incoherent in its logic and random and what one senses in him, rising resentment.

In that speech, he ripped on CNN. He ripped on whoever was in his way. And then he comes to Washington and he rips on whoever is not totally loyal to him, whether it’s Ben Sasse or Mark Kirk, two senators.

And so he’s just filled with a resentment, even at this moment of incipient triumph, at least in the nomination. And so you see Donald Trump being ever more Trumpian, and rather than being more tame and more civilized.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you see a little more unity in the Republican Party or less?

MARK SHIELDS: I think there’s a forced sense of unity right now, when Bill Flores, Republican congressman from Texas, says that very encouraging that Mr. Trump is making fewer and fewer unforced errors, and he thought that is great progress.

I agree with David about the performance yesterday before the Republican Senate Caucus in particular, when he took on Jeff Flake, the senator from Arizona, and said, you’re going to lose this year. And, of course, Jeff Flake isn’t running this year. John McCain is. They have six-year terms in the Senate. I don’t know if Mr. Trump’s aware of that.

But then beating up on Mark Kirk, who is an embattled Republican in Illinois, very difficult uphill race. And, Judy, I mean, where was Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate leader, to stand up and say, wait a minute, you’re not going to come in here, Mr. Trump, I don’t care if you are the presidential nominee, and attack and belittle and demean the senators whose support you’re supposedly seeking?

And I just — so, there is a lack of courage, there is a lack of just common decency, it seems to me, in the Republicans right now.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And, meantime, David, we know that the Democratic nominee to be, as you pointed out, has had her own bad news this week.

As you may have seen, I interviewed her a short time ago for the program and asked her about FBI Director Jim Comey’s conclusion that, no, there weren’t going to be criminal charges brought, but that she and the people around her had been extremely careless in the way they handled confidential information.

She said that is not the case, that that’s wrong. But, you know, whichever way you look at that, what are we to make of this investigation, of its conclusion? Where does it leave her as the presumptive nominee?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, I agree with both sides of Comey’s conclusion, that she shouldn’t be charged, but that, basically, the defense she has given us and for all these months was a tissue of lies, that she didn’t have one device, she sent over 100 classified things, she had multiple servers, and that her staff didn’t even look at some of the — some of the things they deleted as personal, some of the e-mails were actually business.

And so she’s told a series of falsehood. And, frankly, I thought her reaction tonight was a little off-tone, a little too defiant, when a little humility and a little contrition might be in order, given what Comey said, completely accurately.

And so, if she had real opposition, this would have been devastating for her. I don’t think it rises to the level of sort of indictable offense, but I do think it’s sobering, and should be sobering even if you love Hillary Clinton and you are a Democratic, to see someone’s claims be exposed as falsehoods so readily.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Where do you come down on this?

MARK SHIELDS: I was amazed at her answer. I really was.

I thought James Comey, the director the FBI’s decision was that she was — verdict was not innocent, is what his verdict was. And you’re absolutely right. He deemed her people and herself very careless in treating — the way they treated confidential information.

Judy, the Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, the last poll, asked questions of personal characteristics. They asked, who do you think is more honest or trustworthy? And Donald Trump, not known as an ethical giant in most circles, was the choice of 41 percent. Hillary Clinton was at 25 percent. A meager margin thought her — she was more honest and trustworthy than Donald Trump.

This is a real problem. It’s been a problem, lack of transparency and forthrightness, all the way back to the Rose firm’s billing records some 20 years ago in the White House. And I thought that there was going to be a start of almost a candor offensive, the fact that she was doing the interview with you.

And I just think it’s time for frankness and an acknowledgment that this was wrong, that they were misleading. And to me, it’s not going to go away.

The advantage she has — and it’s an inescapable advantage — Pierre Elliott Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister, ran for reelection in 1972, father of Justin Trudeau, it was a bad economy, and he said, the choice is — don’t compare me, please, to the almighty. Compare me to the alternative.

And that’s her advantage, is that her alternative is the man that David just described, Donald Trump, who every day makes it about Donald Trump. I mean, he is an egomaniac with an inferiority complex.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But picking up on that, David, the Republicans are saying they’re going to drive home this e-mail story every day between now and the election. Is that smart on their part?

DAVID BROOKS: I think so.

I mean, the untrustworthiness is a core weakness. I have to say, I think Trump manages to commit political suicide on a daily basis, and yet he doesn’t seem to die. I’m — my big takeaway from the race so far is he’s only down four points in the national polls.

And so, to me, looking at the way he has behaved, this should be a much bigger victory for — or at least a lead for Secretary Clinton, but it’s not showing up that way because of doubts about her nearly as great.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, it’s certainly something that has our attention, along with some other sad — a lot of sad things this week.

Mark Shields, David Brooks, thank you both.

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Shields and Ponnuru on the new cloud over Clinton email probe and Trump’s trade strategy

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Jul 01, 2016


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JUDY WOODRUFF: And now to our wrap of the week’s political news, from the new cloud hanging over an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s e-mail practices to Donald Trump’s latest take on trade.

We turn to the analysis of Shields and Ponnuru. That is syndicated columnist Mark Shields, and “National Review” senior editor Ramesh Ponnuru. David Brooks is away.

And welcome to you both.


JUDY WOODRUFF: Let’s start out, though, with what happened today, the attorney general of the United States, Loretta Lynch, saying that she wouldn’t do it again, wouldn’t have a meeting like the one she had earlier in the week with former President Bill Clinton.

Mark, Loretta Lynch said, wouldn’t do it again. And she said now she accepts the recommendation, she will accept the recommendation of the FBI director, won’t make any changes.

How much damage to Hillary Clinton from this?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, we will find out. That’s to be determined, but the damage to Bill Clinton’s judgment, to Loretta Lynch’s judgment, the attorney general, is considerable.

Just — you know, Ben Bradlee, the legendary editor of The Washington Post, said never do anything that you can’t imagine being reported the next day in The Washington Post on the front page above the fold. And this is a perfect example of that.

Bill Clinton, yes, he’s gregarious. His unlimited self-confidence in his ability to charm people is deserved. He’s one of the probably — most charming people ever to walk the planet. But the misjudgment of his having a meeting, a private meeting with the attorney general while the Justice Department is investigating his wife on these charges is just unthinkable.

And where was her judgment in saying, no, Mr. President?

JUDY WOODRUFF: The attorney general.


JUDY WOODRUFF: But you’re saying it doesn’t hurt Hillary Clinton?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, it will be determined.

You have given the decision now to James Comey, the FBI director, completely. If I’m not mistaken, Judy, at the time of David Petraeus, the recommendation was to prosecute him for felony, and the attorney general of the United States then, Eric Holder, intervened and said, no, this is a misdemeanor, it shouldn’t be a felony.

Now, James Comey, his independence, his integrity has been firmly established in practice by standing up to the White House of George W. Bush that appointed him. So it gives to him, and that’s it. And I don’t think anybody questions his — that he’s a partisan.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Ramesh, how do you see this affecting Hillary Clinton at this point?

RAMESH PONNURU: Well, Attorney General Lynch has said that she expects to accept the FBI recommendations.

But a source close to her told journalist Mark Halperin that she still has a chance of overriding that recommendation. I think it would be very hard in these political circumstances for her to actually overrule it.

If there’s no indictment of Hillary Clinton following this investigation, I think this incident makes it easier for Republicans to say, well, that’s because the fix was in.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But in terms of Loretta Lynch saying today, I wouldn’t do it again, I’m not going to let — you’re saying Loretta — somebody close to Loretta Lynch is saying something different. She said she’s going to accept the recommendation of the FBI. You’re saying, despite that…

RAMESH PONNURU: There are conflicting reports about how ironclad that assurance is.


RAMESH PONNURU: But, at the end of the day, the damage has already been done to Hillary Clinton. Assuming that there is no indictment, the damage is that most Americans don’t regard her as honest and trustworthy, and that’s been something that has been an anchor on her poll numbers.

JUDY WOODRUFF: You’re saying just no matter what comes out of this FBI investigation?

RAMESH PONNURU: I think that, even if there are not formal legal charge, people have concluded that she was not forthcoming.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, the other — go ahead.

MARK SHIELDS: Just one quick thing, Judy, in that it reinforces the narrative, the unflattering narrative about the Clintons, that they don’t play by the same rules as anybody else and everybody else.

And I think that’s a problem for both the president, but particularly for Secretary Clinton.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And this happens the same week that the House Republicans come out with their report on the Benghazi attack. This is the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya.

They spent months looking into this, Ramesh. And it was thought that the object of all this was Hillary Clinton. The report essentially doesn’t bring a lot of new information about her. It does harshly criticize the administration for not providing better security there, though.

RAMESH PONNURU: That’s right.

If people go into the report looking for a smoking gun about Hillary Clinton, they’re going to be disappointed. But it does provide new detail on two things, first, the security failures in Benghazi and how repeated warnings about those failures and those risks were ignored, and, second, how the administration early on after the attacks put out a public narrative about the relationship of those attacks to an anti-Muslim video that it had reason to believe wasn’t true.

JUDY WOODRUFF: What does it add up to, Mark?

MARK SHIELDS: It adds up, Judy, to a personal tragedy.

Anne Stevens, the ambassador’s sister, had an interview with “The New Yorker” this week in which she essentially said her brother took the risk knowing the security circumstances himself in Benghazi when he went there.

But I think this is a story that died on two earlier occasions. The first was when Hillary Clinton appeared before the committee. I mean, in a marathon session, she absolutely dominated them. She was far superior to her interrogators. She exposed them as shallow and partisan. And she showed great command of the facts.

The second that was reinforced by a then House Majority — House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s boast on FOX News that the Benghazi committee had knocked down her poll numbers, and that the Republican House Caucus deserved credit for having created this committee for that purpose.

So, this — I just don’t — I think the story is over.

JUDY WOODRUFF: It’s a wash?

RAMESH PONNURU: Yes, I don’t think there is going to be a huge political impact, except on this.

This is one reason, this whole Benghazi story is one reason that Hillary Clinton can’t run on her accomplishment in Libya when she was secretary of state, which at one point that they had wanted to do.

MARK SHIELDS: Pretty tough to run on Libya, yes.


Well, let’s talk about Donald Trump for a minute. He’s been speaking all over the country this week, Mark, on trade, and talking about American workers, and saying that Democrats — singling out Hillary Clinton, but saying Democrats across the board, and he also singled out the Chamber of Commerce, which is typically a friend of Republicans, and saying they’re in the tank, too, to this whole idea of free trade.


JUDY WOODRUFF: Is this a smart strategy on Donald Trump’s part?


Democrats ought to be grateful that Donald Trump has not been doing this for the past two months, that he’s been squandering his time and goodwill by attacking a federal judge’s heritage and things of that importance, of his personal — or explaining Trump institute or Trump University or whatever else.

It is, Judy — actually, it’s been a cornerstone of Republican ideology a belief in free trade. And the reality is that Republican voters now are more skeptical, as seen in exit polls this year, of free trade’s benefits, the liabilities, the loss of jobs, rather than creation of jobs, even more so than Democratic voters.

So Donald Trump is going into areas where the manufacturing jobs have been lost, where there is stagnation, where there is very little optimism about the future, where people are underemployed, and he has an explanation for it, and he stands as the anti-establishment figure.

He’s critical of Washington. He’s critical of both parties. He’s critical of the Chamber of Commerce. So, I think it’s — and, plus, it was a real speech. I mean, he did it with footnotes. He did with it a press release.

JUDY WOODRUFF: It was actually a couple of speeches.

MARK SHIELDS: That’s right. But it was like a real campaign all of a sudden, instead of Donald Trump talking off the cuff.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you see him getting some mileage out of this, Ramesh?

RAMESH PONNURU: I am a little bit more skeptical about the political utility of this line of attack on trade that he has taken, because, if you look at the polling, even though we have been hearing a lot of skepticism about trade from politicians over the last year, public opinion doesn’t seem to have shifted that much.

And Americans seem to regard trade more as a source of opportunity than as a source of danger. Those numbers have not really budged, at least the Gallup numbers, over the last decade. And I think there is an opportunity for Hillary Clinton to take a more balanced look at trade and in that fashion to win some of the voters that have voted Republican in the past.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So there’s not more motivation, though, on the part of workers who feel aggrieved by trade perhaps?

MARK SHIELDS: I do. It’s a disagreement.

I think you go to Pennsylvania, and go to Ohio, go to Michigan, go to Indiana, go to Wisconsin, and you will find, I mean, a sense of disenchantment and alienation. And I think Donald Trump taps into that. And it’s certainly far superior to what he’s been wasting his time on in this campaign.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And you see, in fact, some poll numbers in some of these battleground states coming out, the states like Pennsylvania, where we have white blue-collar workers who are apparently, a number of them, gravitating to Donald Trump.

MARK SHIELDS: That’s right. No, that’s exactly true.

RAMESH PONNURU: You have got the white-collar workers going the other ways in a lot of these polls as well, a lot of white-collar Republicans, college-educated Republicans…

JUDY WOODRUFF: Heading toward…


RAMESH PONNURU: … are more supportive of Hillary than they have been of past Democrats.


JUDY WOODRUFF: The map and the demographics are shifting in all kinds of ways.

OK, finally, this Supreme Court decision this week, Ramesh, on abortion, the court basically ruled that Texas tightening the definition of what an abortion clinic has to be, has to do at these Texas clinics, that that’s unconstitutional. Is this — do you see this becoming a political issue, abortion?

RAMESH PONNURU: Abortion is always a political issue to some degree in a presidential election.

Most voters don’t think of it as their top issue, but there are a lot of voters out there who do. What’s interesting this year, what’s unusual is that you have got a Republican nominee who doesn’t seem to care that much about the abortion issue or about the pro-life element of the Republican coalition.

So on the day that the Supreme Court made its decision, usually, the nominee would put out a statement. Donald Trump didn’t have anything to say about it. What he had to talk about instead was Senator Elizabeth Warren’s attacks on the hats that the Trump campaign has been selling. That’s what he decided to talk about instead.

JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you see the effect…

MARK SHIELDS: I think, Judy, abortion remains a constant in American politics.

Americans have grown dramatically more tolerant, more accepting of gay and lesbian rights, of all sorts of — having a child out of wedlock, sex outside of marriage, Americans. But abortion remains a divide and a division within this country. A majority of Americans believe it should be legal in most or all circumstances.

A substantial minority, over 40 percent, believe it shouldn’t be. And what you have is really a moral cleavage in the country. Americans, even 50 percent of women, according to Gallup, believe that abortion is morally wrong, even though they are accepting of it.

So it’s this terrible dilemma. And the Democrats, and especially Secretary Clinton has become probably the most aggressively pro-choice nominee of any party in our history. I mean, her position used to be that abortion should be safe, legal and rare. And the rare has been dropped. It’s now just safe and legal.

And she accepted the nomination by going to Planned Parenthood, not by going to the AFL-CIO, not by going to a school, not by going to a women’s shelter, by going to Planned Parenthood and say, this is where I want to be, this is where I’m most comfortable.

And I think it probably indicates where she feels — I mean, it’s her conviction, and I think it’s where she sees this election.

And Trump has been all over the lot. I mean, he was for late-term abortion legally. And now he — and this campaign, he has been for prosecuting and incarcerating a woman who had a legal abortion. But he’s now revamped both positions and still — I think he’s still supporting Planned Parenthood, if I’m not mistaken.

JUDY WOODRUFF: We are going to have to leave it there on this issue, as you say, perpetual in American political life and moral life.

Mark Shields, Ramesh Ponnuru, thank you very much.

RAMESH PONNURU: You’re welcome.



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Shields and Brooks on voter disenchantment across the globe

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Jun 24, 2016


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JUDY WOODRUFF: The presidential nominees also weighed in on the Brexit result today.

During a press conference at his Scottish resort and golf course this morning, Donald Trump praised Britain’s decision to leave the E.U.

DONALD TRUMP (R), Presumptive Presidential Nominee: I really do see a parallel between what’s happening in the United States and what’s happening here. People want to see borders. They don’t necessarily want people pouring into their country, that they don’t know who they are and where they come from. They have no idea.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Hillary Clinton also responded to Britain’s vote to leave. In a statement today, the former secretary of state said — quote — “We respect the choice the people of the United Kingdom have made.”

And now to the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields, and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

Welcome to you both.

This whole program up until now practically has been about the vote in the U.K., David, to leave the European Union. What do you make of this?

DAVID BROOKS, The New York Times: Well, in country after country, we’re seeing a conflict between what you might call urban cosmopolitans and less well-educated ethnic nationalism, and ethnic nationalism is on the rise.

And I agree with everything that Ivo, Richard and Margaret were saying, but it should be said — and I covered — I lived in Brussels for five years at the Maastricht Treaty, when all this was coming together — and the elites, as much as I hate the leave — the fact that the U.K. is going to leave the E.U., the elites in some large degree brought this on themselves.

There was built into the European unification project an anti-democratic, a condescending, and a snobbish attitude about popular democracy. And, secondly — and this is also true here — and I’m as pro-immigration as the day is long, but we have asked a lot of people who are suffering in this company to accept extremely, radically high immigration levels.

And we have probably overflooded the system. And so while it’s easy — and I do condemn the vote to leave, get out — a little humility is in order on the part of the establishment, frankly, that we have flooded the system with more than it can handle. And, secondly, we have not provided a good nationalism, a good patriotism that is cosmopolitan, that is outward-spanning, and that is confident. And, therefore, a bad form of parochial, inward-looking Trumpian nationalism has had free rein.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark, the elites brought it on themselves?

MARK SHIELDS: I think the forces and the advocates of globalization have been primarily obsessed with the well-being of the investor class and the stockholders and the shareholders, and been indifferent, oftentimes callous, to the dislocation and the suffering that people in countries affected by this trade, the expanded trade, the larger economy, who have been victimized by it.

And it has been a accompanied, I think, by an elitist condescension, in many cases, and it’s been taken advantage of. I mean, the shorthand today is that we saw the words of the Republican nominee in waiting, who is a part-time presidential candidate and a full-time real estate developer, you know, he won, and Barack Obama lost, I mean, by any scorecard.

There is no spin you can put on this that in any way comforts Democrats today.

JUDY WOODRUFF: If this is the case, then, David, what should we expect? Does this mean that the U.S. is going to do something similar in the election in November?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, I don’t know, of course.

JUDY WOODRUFF: I mean, not that we have to vote to leave the E.U., but…

DAVID BROOKS: Let’s consider this one of a link in a long chain of the rise of ethnic nationalism.

As I mentioned, I was in Europe in the early ’90s. And from ’45 through really ’94, we had this just big process of integration, with the international institutions. We had trade agreements. We had the European project, the fall of the Berlin Wall.

And then I remember, at the end of my stay there, Yugoslavia pulled apart. And then you had the Serbs and the Bosnians and a horrific war. And, suddenly, you began to see the nationalism rising up in a way we have seen sort of ethnic nationalism rising up in the Middle East. We have seen polarization in this country. We have seen economic segmentation.

So, we’re — if we came together for 40 years, we have been segmenting and splitting apart for all this time. And we should expect a lot more of this sort of behavior, unless we have some sort of radical change in our politics.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you see something like this happening in this country?

MARK SHIELDS: I think there is no question part of Donald Trump’s appeal is to people who have been dislocated.

This week, Peter Hart for the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania conducted a focus group of really struggling middle-class workers, blue-collar, and service industry workers, most of whom were sympathetic.

There were some Clinton supporters, but who were understanding. They felt that Trump at least was acknowledging them, that the two parties had been indifferent to their plight.

It is no accident, Judy, that the median household income in the United States is lower today than it was 20 years ago. And that has a political cost to it. And as the top 1 percent and the top two-tenths of 1 percent have flourished and prevailed, the rising tide has lifted all yachts, but an awful a lot of boats have been washed up on the shore.

DAVID BROOKS: I would just like to marry something Mark is talking and something I’m talking about, which are related, the economic stagnation.


DAVID BROOKS: But it’s also feeding into and sort of intertwining with a cultural sense of loss.

And if you look at Trump voters, for example, and certainly probably true of Brexit voters, they think immigration is a force for harm, not good. They think people like themselves, basically white people, are discriminated against as much as anybody else. They think the country has because too multicultural.

And so these two forces, a sense of ethnic loss and economic loss, are coming together. And that’s certainly a dangerous formula.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, where does that leave — go ahead, yes.


And I don’t argue with David’s numbers. But these are not knuckle-dragging people who are, you know, out of the cast of “Deliverance.” These are people who are really…


JUDY WOODRUFF: You mean the people who voted?

MARK SHIELDS: The people who are supporting Donald Trump.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Donald Trump.

MARK SHIELDS: They’re struggling to make it against enormous costs.

It’s no accident that the highest debt load of any generation in history are those graduating from college this year. The only one who were high were the ones who graduated last year. And the only ones that will be higher than that will be the ones graduating next year.

So there is. And you can look at the job picture, and it is hardly encouraging. So, when you growing at eight-tenths of 1 percent, you know, it’s one thing to be accepting of change when that change is working for everyone. And that certainly was the case in the United States for the half-century that David described from ’45 to ’95.

It was a remarkable epic and era in world history.

DAVID BROOKS: And it should be said that fear of cultural — loss of cultural cohesion is not silly either.

England is a certain thing. And America is a certain thing. And to lose that thing, because we have radically encouraged immigration, I think the dynamism is worth it, but it’s completely reasonable to think, I’m losing the country we have had for centuries.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But you talked a minute ago, David, about immigration.

It sounds as if you’re saying that Donald Trump is the only one out there speaking, Bernie Sanders to some extent, certainly during the primaries. Is Donald Trump the only one of the two presidential candidates speaking to these people?

DAVID BROOKS: I just saw a poll today. If you ask Donald Trump supporters do they think immigration is good or bad for the country, 80 percent say it’s bad.

If you ask, is the country — do they mind that they’re around people who don’t speak English well, three-quarters mind. And so there is just an — not an intolerance, but a sense that the country is getting too diverse, and that somehow they’re the losers in this process, or the country as a whole is a loser in the process, it’s a sinking ship.

And so that is, I think, at the central core of what Trump is tapping into.

MARK SHIELDS: When you’re talking about people who are struggling to get by economically, these are the ones who are competing with people who come to this country who are themselves trying to aspire to a better life.

And so they are competing, really, for the same economic positions, whether it’s a driver or whether it’s in the service industry. And so, understandably, they see them as a threat economically and culturally, as David described.

But, at the same time, we stand alone as a country of assimilation, a country of immigrants. I mean, we are not the United Kingdom. I mean, if this — if Brexit or the equivalent thereof were put to the United States, we’re talking about a third of the electorate who are nonwhite.

DAVID BROOKS: The irony, though, is that the U.K. and U.S. are probably the two best — two of the best countries in the world…



DAVID BROOKS: … pretty cosmopolitan ways.

And the one amendment I would make is, Trump voters in the primaries, the average income was $74,000, which is well above the median in this country. So, they tend to be affluent people from poor places. And so it’s a sense of collective loss, as much as personal loss, that is driving a lot of those voters.

JUDY WOODRUFF: I want to — while we’re touching on immigration, two other things I want to ask you about, Mark.

Mark, one is the Supreme Court decision this week effectively to — what means the president’s effort to at least provide some protection for those undocumented immigrants who are in this country, maybe the parents or the children of others who are here legally, the court said that is going to go back to a lower court. We will see what happens.

But it’s a big setback for the president. What does it say going forward?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, it’s a setback to his legacy.

It says that, 2013, 68 United States senators supported — voted for a solution to this problem, to let people come out of the shadows, the parents, the relatives of children who were American citizens, that they wouldn’t be worried about immigration authorities showing up and knocking on their door. And it means that his legacy is depleted, that you can only do so much by executive order, that we never got a vote in the House of Representatives.

The House of Representatives never voted on the immigration act in 2013.

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, substantively, I think it’s a setback, because so many people’s lives are now made more precarious.

As a matter of process — and process matters when we think about the Constitution — I’m glad the court did what it did. You can’t — when you change the status of five million people, say, that’s a big thing. And that, to me, is something that should be done by law, through Congress, through the executive action, through — I mean, through executive signing the bill.

It should be done in the normal constitutional process. For one man, one president to make a change in American life that big through executive action seems to be overreaching the powers of the presidency.

JUDY WOODRUFF: OK, and the a little over a minute left.

I want to ask you both about this pretty unprecedented move, Mark, in the House of Representatives, Democrats sitting on the floor for hours and hours to make a statement about gun control, that they wanted legislation called up for a vote.

In the end, they have — the House is now in recess. What did the Democrats accomplish? Was this an effective move on their part?

MARK SHIELDS: What they did, Judy, was they got incredible attention to it.

I mean, having John Lewis, a civil rights icon who had led sit-ins in civil rights, lead this brought the attention. I don’t think there is any question that there is a profound change in public attitudes in support of background checks. And I think Hillary Clinton, as the Democratic nominee, support for the abolition of assault weapons will be a political advantage in 2016.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Twenty seconds.

DAVID BROOKS: I have do have questions about that.

The people who — there may be a shift on guns, but the people who vote on the gun issue have tended to be on the NRA side. It seems to me it’s a very open question whether that’s changed at all.

JUDY WOODRUFF: David Brooks, Mark Shields, a big week of news. Thank you both.

The post Shields and Brooks on voter disenchantment across the globe appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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  • Published: 2002
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