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

Shields and Brooks - NewsHour with Jim Lehrer - PBS Podcast

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

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Shields and Brooks on 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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Shields and Brooks on gun violence and how leaders responded to Orlando shooting

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Jun 17, 2016


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


Gentlemen, begin by the terrible thing that happened last weekend in Orlando, this 29-year-old man with — who had displayed erratic behavior, Mark, through much of his life. Are there any lessons from this?

MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist: I’m not sure there are, Judy.

I was — I have been amazed how polarized our nation is. Ordinarily and historically, events this tragic — and there have been none really this tragic, I guess, in just sheer magnitude — but there is sort of a uniting feeling in the country.

And that’s been missing. We can blame our politics and our politicians. And we will. But it’s — I think it reflects the country. There’s just — we live in a couple of different worlds. Republicans overwhelmingly think it’s a matter of terrorism, and Islamic terrorism, and that that’s where all the attention — and Democrats overwhelmingly respond that it’s the availability and the promiscuous availability of weapons without background checks or adequate controls.

And so I guess the — tragedies like this have historically brought out the best in the country, and I don’t think that’s happened this time. It definitely hasn’t.

JUDY WOODRUFF: We think of 9/11.

MARK SHIELDS: Think of 9/11, exactly. Think of other times of tragedy, and even Charleston.


DAVID BROOKS, The New York Times: I actually take of a cheerier view, I think.

I thought there was an amazing amount of simple, unadorned grief and sympathy for the victims and the victims’ families. And the fact a large percent of them were gay wasn’t as big an issue.

That was my perception, that people of all sides said, these were human beings, God’s creatures, who were killed. And there was an outpouring of simple grief for the people.

On the political stuff, obviously, the gun thing is divisive. But I thought most people said, well, this is both an act of terrorism and a hate crime at the same time. And it can be both. And I think that’s what really just struck me about the week is, sometimes, the divisions we have between psychology and politics and religion, those divisions don’t really make sense in practice.

And we have seen this so many times with so many different shooters. They’re the same personality type. You begin with a sense of humiliation, personal failure, personal disappointment, personal injury. That turns into a sense of grievance, that the problem is not me, the problem is the world.

Then that turns into sort of moral outrage at the evil people who are doing this. Then that gets weaponized by sort of some radical ideology that allows me to justify the violence. And then you walk down the line.

And they walk down these same series of steps, and it’s just the social isolation of young, angry men.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But when — your — to your point, Mark, when you look at the reaction of the political leadership, Donald Trump focused on terrorism, on what he likes to refer to as radical Islam, very different from the emphasis, at least, from President Obama and Hillary Clinton.

MARK SHIELDS: Yes, no question.

And while I agree with David and the points he makes, and I think they’re strong points, Judy, I would just add that the FBI is coming in for some, I think, undeserved criticism that somehow — this was a man with bad thoughts, outrageous thoughts.

We don’t arrest people in this country. We don’t incarcerate them. There is no thought control. And it is acts. And there weren’t any acts, other than reportedly his abuse of his wife, which doesn’t rise to the level of the FBI, and is local law enforcement.

But you’re absolutely right. First of all, President Obama is at his best at times like this. And it’s a terrible thing to say, but he was at Charleston, he was at Newtown, he was after Gabby Giffords. And in a strange way, it brings out the best in him.

There is a cool detachment about Barack Obama, sort of a remoteness emotionally most times. And he was — he’s so accessible in listening to the victims’ families and the survivors and how much it means to them and how genuine they feel he is.

And I thought he had a choice to go on the LGBT — there are three elements to it’s — the LGBT, obviously, the terrorism and the guns. And he thought the guns were the most available, where they may get some action. And that’s what he chose to emphasize.

As far as the others, I thought Hillary Clinton was quite measured, very calibrated, responsible, and stood in stark contrast — a little more hawkish than the president, and stood in dark contrast to Donald Trump, who squandered what is the one area where Republicans have a decided advantage, which is national security and sort of homeland security.

And he just — I mean, first of all, congratulating himself at the outset, and then insinuating in innuendo that the president was somehow involved was beyond the pale. It makes him unacceptable as a national figure.

JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you size up their reaction?

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, well, somewhat agreement.

If I had to rank them, if one ranks these things, I thought Hillary Clinton’s reaction was the best. It combined both the gun issue, the gay issue, but also the Islamic radicalism issue, if we want to use that word. And I give her credit for mentioning that.

And I do think, in acts like this, it’s not driven by religious faith, but it’s driven and shaped by a bin Ladenist, jihadist ideology. And I think the president is wrong not to say that.

I have a quote in my column today by Peter Bergen, who is a friend of — and he said, saying Islamic terror is not related to Islam is like saying the Crusades are not related to Christianity and their view of Jerusalem.

It is sort of a radical politicized version of a faith ideology. And for the president to say that, A, is not the truth, but, B, it reeks of a political correctness which ends up driving people to Donald Trump.

And so I think he should use the term. Every other world leader uses the term. We can all distinguish between the few terrorists who are radical Islamists between — and the tens and hundreds of millions of Muslims who are peaceful, law-abiding, normal human beings.

JUDY WOODRUFF: What about that, Mark?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, I disagree with David.

I think the syllable is very important. Radical Islam is the defamation of a faith, of a faith, whereas radical Islamist, yes, definitely, or radical Islamism.

But that is a profound difference. And when you start slipping into denigration of an entire faith, which obviously is the position that Donald Trump has been comfortable with, an area where he’s been comfortable in, it is not only not in the national interest. It is dishonest and it is fomenting further strife.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Or the president called it a political talking point, this insistence on Trump’s part that he use that term.

DAVID BROOKS: Yes. I am actually not comfortable with the phrase radical Islam in part for that reason. People who are faithful to the Muslim faith don’t turn into terrorists when they become more faithful.


DAVID BROOKS: But there is sort of ideology sort of attached to Islam, as there used to be to Christianity, or as there sometimes still is to Christianity or Judaism, which is a secular political ideology that cloaks itself in religious garb.

And we could call it bin Ladenism. You can call it jihadism. But it is the shaping ideology that magnetizes people like this and sets them off on the killing sprees.

JUDY WOODRUFF: One of the things that has come out of this, very quickly, is the move in Congress on the part of Democrats, Mark, to pass some kind of legislation on gun control. Do you see any possibility of a change there?

MARK SHIELDS: I think there is a change in mood. I don’t think — we’re in an election year. We’re four months away from an election.

I think there is a good development, Judy, quite frankly, in the group that’s assembled by Stanley McChrystal and the Veterans Coalition For Common Sense, Mark Kelly, to try and bring control, some sensible background checks. And I think there is where it’s going to have to come from. I really do.

But the Democrats have an advantage. Make no mistake about it. If you don’t fly, you don’t buy, which is, I think, a dangerous position in a civil liberties basis, because Donald Trump in charge of a don’t-fly list is something that should sober every American citizen in who he would put on it.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you see it going anywhere?

DAVID BROOKS: I don’t, just because past is prologue. And after all the different killings we have had, it hasn’t gone anywhere.

Susan Collins has an attempt at some sort of moderated — the senator from Maine — some sort of moderated list that she hopes some Republicans get, Democrats get behind, but the prospects in the House are slim.

And I would say, you know, I support all this legislation, but I’m not sure it would be super effective. This guy was actually looked into by the FBI. He actually had checks. And it’s just very tough to predict human behavior.


MARK SHIELDS: Judy, there is no reason in the United States for civilian circulation of assault weapons, none. It’s indefensible as a product, shouldn’t be manufactured in the United States, any more than bazookas should be or flamethrowers.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Let me ask you both about Donald Trump.

Political path ahead, David. He was in — having a lot of tense words this week with Republican leadership with Congress, with other Republicans in his own party. His poll ratings are slipping. What do you see?

DAVID BROOKS: I see mild to mass panic in the Republican Party, because he really is sliding. We have talked about it before in the last few weeks.

He was even with Hillary Clinton, and in the last three weeks, it’s just been zoom. He’s collapsing. And he’s picking fights with the Republicans. Any sense of buy-in is now just fraying. I don’t know if they are going to do anything against him.

But to me, the significance of this week politically was, would the country sort of rally around him on sort of xenophobic or anti-terror mood? And the answer so far from the polling is, no, he didn’t get any help from this week politically.

And, therefore, I think there is a real hardening against him among an awful lot of Americans, and his political prospects, at least this week, seem extremely dire.

JUDY WOODRUFF: What do you see?

MARK SHIELDS: Judy, the stop Trump movement, which the death rattle sounded, and then it seems to come back again. The old maxim in politics, you don’t beat somebody with nobody.

And there is nobody. There is no alternative. Everybody wants an alternative — not everybody, but probably a lot of Republicans. Certainly, those on the ballot in November would like to have an alternative, but there isn’t.

You put a face on that, and there is nobody there. So he will be the nominee. He’s got the strong argument: I have got more votes than anybody in the history of Republican primaries.

And, obviously, they are not going to try and take it away from him. But I’m reminded of 1972, when Democrats tried to stop George McGovern, for the very same reason. They thought he was going to lose, and it cost them seats.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Last quick points. Bernie Sanders made a statement last night. Let’s listen to it, a part of it quickly, and then I want to ask you about it.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, DemocraticPresidential Candidate: It is no secret that Secretary Clinton and I have strong disagreements on some very, very important issues.

It is also true that our views are quite close on others. I look forward in the coming weeks to continued discussion between the two campaigns to make certain that your voices are heard and that the Democratic Party passes the most progressive platform in its history and that Democrats actually fight for that agenda.

JUDY WOODRUFF: What do we make of this, David?


DAVID BROOKS: It’s marriage counseling.


DAVID BROOKS: The Sanders and Clinton people, they’re coming together. They will come together. It has to happen in stages, so healing can happen. But I would be shocked if the Democrats weren’t pretty united by the end of the summer.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Just by what he said?


MARK SHIELDS: It’s an acknowledgment, not a concession.

Bernie Sanders is indispensable to the Democrats and their well-being in taking back the Senate. He is the leader of a movement. They need him. He was a generational candidate more than an ideological candidate. And voters under the age of 45 are Bernie, and Hillary needs them. And he needs her. And it will be — will only be a shotgun marriage, but it might not be the — but it will be a marriage, believe me.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And we may be watching this at the convention.

MARK SHIELDS: Absolutely.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark Shields, David Brooks, and you will both be there to talk about it all.

MARK SHIELDS: Look forward to it.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Happy Father’s Day to both of you.

MARK SHIELDS: Thank you.

DAVID BROOKS: Thank you.

The post Shields and Brooks on gun violence and how leaders responded to Orlando shooting appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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Shields and Brooks on ‘anticlimactic’ Clinton victory, Trump’s ‘moral chasm’

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Jun 10, 2016


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JUDY WOODRUFF: A historic week for Hillary Clinton. Bernie Sanders stays in the race, but pledges his support. And Donald Trump’s campaign tries to recover from a stumble.

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

Welcome to you both.

So, let’s talk a little bit about the history. It took, what, just 240 years, but we do now have a woman as the nominee for president of a major political party.

Did you feel the history, David, this week?

DAVID BROOKS, The New York Times: Weirdly not. Maybe I’m a chauvinist or something.

But, you know, obviously, the transformation of the role of women is the biggest event of our lifetime. It’s the biggest transformation after thousands of years of human history to getting closer to equality on that front.

But Hillary Clinton, it was so long in coming, it didn’t, to me, feel like the big seismic shift, frankly, the way Barack Obama felt in ’08, I think because she’s such a familiar figure and because the social trend has been gradual in coming, that it didn’t feel like sort of this huge, momentous breakthrough moment.

And I think it’s in part because — and this maybe speaks well of the situation we’re in — it wasn’t like a feminist tide. It was a tide of her own grit, a lot of issues, the Democratic establishment. If you polled Sanders voters vs. Clinton voters, Sanders voters were more likely to think there was structural discrimination against women than Clinton voters.

And so she rode on the tide of merit, on issues, but not necessarily a feminist tide. And so this particular event didn’t feel a seismic opening, at least to me, that, say, the Obama did — thing did.


MARK SHIELDS: I’m a feminist.


MARK SHIELDS: No, Golda Meir is my guide on this. The only woman prime minister of Israel said, “that women are better than men, I cannot say, but what I can say is they certainly are not worse.”

And I think we have come to that point of equality in our politics. I have to confess that, 32 years ago, when Geraldine Ferraro was named by Walter Mondale, I was emotional. I thought of my mother. I thought of my wife. I thought of my daughter. I thought — it was just very in large part, I think, because — David said it — it was such a surprise. It was such a pioneer. And this has been.

JUDY WOODRUFF: This was less of a…

MARK SHIELDS: This was. And Hillary Clinton has been a formidable, significant political figure and actor for 25 years.

And — but there was genuine emotion in that hall. You could feel it if you watched it, when she accepted that nomination, and she obviously reciprocated it. But it was done not just as a sisterhood is powerful campaign. It was a political campaign and it was an effective one.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let’s bring it down to the politics of it.

Quite a good week for the Democrats, whether it was history or not, David. You had Hillary Clinton finished. She won California, pretty big margin. She got the president’s endorsement. She got the endorsement of the vice president. Bernie Sanders is not getting out of the race, but he now is signaling he’s going to support her.

Democrats seem to have pulled it together this week. What did you make of that?

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, California was a big one. If she had lost California, then we have a whole different gestalt. We don’t have a different nominee, but we have a different feeling to the whole thing.

And so winning California, winning very convincingly, is a reminder, for all that we have been surprised by Sanders, she did win this. She won it cleanly and in a big way over the whole course of the primary season. And so she clearly deserves to be the nominee. And the Democratic big chieftains are coming together now.

The questions I would have for Clinton are that people are coming together, and they’re uniting and they’re strong, people like Warren, but this is not a year where the establishment is doing particularly well with the voters. And so I’m not sure how much it will help her in the campaign.

And while Trump’s poll numbers are really taking a hit, hers are sort of steady and they’re not steady at a great place. In three-way races — I’m really struck by the three-way races all the sudden, where she’s at 39 or 40, and Trump is at like 35, and then suddenly Gary Johnson, Libertarian candidate, is like at a 10.

And one can see there is so much dissatisfaction with those two that if Johnson could run a good campaign, he could stick around in the double digits and really he will be a big story as we talk about the rest of the year.

JUDY WOODRUFF: How much do you think, Mark, the fact that they sort of — the White House orchestrated this, this week, in a way that they just — they gave Bernie Sanders gave the space to get out when he wants to.

MARK SHIELDS: Democrats, historically, when they form a firing squad, from a circle. This was a total exception.

It was brilliantly choreographed. In addition to the president’s endorsement, a man not noted for his self-doubt, to say that she was the most qualified presidential candidate in his lifetime was quite an admission and statement.

I thought the other part of it, Judy, was the deference and respect and space they gave — given to Bernie Sanders, that he’s paid homage, he’s paid tribute, and I think deservedly so. He lost the nomination, but he won the future of the Democratic Party.

And I think the awareness of this and the awareness of the need for him not to be a Gene McCarthy, as Gene McCarthy was in 1968 when Hubert Humphrey lost the presidency to Richard Nixon by 511,000 votes, and Gene McCarthy waited, the great anti-war candidate, until six days before the election to endorse Humphrey, when, undoubtedly, that would have made a difference in the outcome.

And Bernie Sanders is not going to play this role. I think — I think all of that was good and positive and encouraging. And the idea that the Democrats are going to have a peaceful convention, they’re on the love boat now. A week ago, it looked like a civil war, or two weeks ago.


MARK SHIELDS: And the Republicans, who looked were going to have a boring convention, now there’s a restiveness and restlessness in the ranks.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, the two of you have been saying, I think, for some weeks that you don’t think Hillary Clinton has a single message for her campaign. And, David, you were just hinting that that is still the case.

Where do you come down, Mark?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, she doesn’t.

The reality is, this is a change election year. As popular as Barack Obama, and he’s at 51 percent favorable rating, some — four out of five American voters want the country to head in the right, a different direction. They’re not satisfied with the economy. Barack Obama could not win a third term on a referendum.

He could if he was running against Donald Trump. But — so, there’s a change — you know, after two terms, there’s a desire for change in the country. And Hillary Clinton is a candidate of continuity. And that’s a problem. And her message as of now is the change of Donald Trump is so reckless and so dangerous, that I am the safe and sensible alternative.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Is that enough?

DAVID BROOKS: Oh, yes, probably.



I mean, people — I still sense people will be sick of Donald Trump and they will go for her. At least she will be competent and she will be normal. But one — it’s not sufficient for the country. It’s enough politically. But it’s not sufficient for — as Sanders even spoke this week, I was really struck by how he opened the campaign really well with a core message.

But the message just sat there. He had the same message from beginning to end, the same few talking points from beginning to end. It would have been interesting to know, if he had expanded that message or taken it the next step, a different kind of issues, if he would have done better.

But Clinton has not had those issues. And her incrementalism is not sufficient, as Mark said. And what will be interesting, if she can take some of the left-wing policies — one of the things we have seen from Trump is how ideologically flexible the country is right now, that they just want different, and they’re willing to grab from column A and column B.

Trump is a flawed messenger, but if Clinton could grab some column A from the left column and some unpredictable things from the right column that could appeal like to the family we just saw in Kai’s piece, suddenly, that’s a real message.

But, as I say, a lot of this is characterological. We just haven’t seen imagination from her over the course of her political campaign. We have seen determinedness, industriousness, but we haven’t seen the unexpected.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let’s talk about Trump. He has had a really bad week, as his campaign has gone.

Mark, he really has not backed down from the comments he made about the judge of Hispanic heritage, Mexican heritage. And you see the Republican Party struggling to try to figure out what to do about it. What shape is he in right now?

MARK SHIELDS: He’s in bad shape.

And I say that, Judy, because think about this, if you’re a Republican. A week ago, the Democrats had a terrible, terrible week. The inspector general’s reports from the State Department came through on Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail. It showed that the Clinton people had disassembled, that they had not cooperated, that they had actually made it more difficult for the investigation and had not been forthcoming.

But, in addition to that, we had the worst job creation numbers we’d had in six years. And yet Donald Trump dominated the news the whole week, and Hillary Clinton made the news and dominated it in a positive sense with her speech critical of him.


MARK SHIELDS: So, you know, Donald Trump now is going to a teleprompter, as we saw today and we saw on election night.

Donald Trump on a teleprompter is about as electrifying as the recorded message you get calling the airlines and saying, calls will be answered in the order by which they were received.


MARK SHIELDS: He loses all of Donald Trump.

JUDY WOODRUFF: David, how much damage has been done? Is he going to be able to pick himself up and keep going? What do you see?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, he will be able to pick up. There will be ebbs and flows.

But we have — he’s had so many bad weeks with no effect in the polls, but, this week, there was an effect in the polls. So, he was dropped, I don’t know, six, 10 points. There was a chunk down.

And then the flaking way of the Republicans, the Ryans and even the Mitch McConnells are beginning to grow wobbly, Scott Walker. The whole party is, like, oh, no, what are we going to do?

And I understand why Ryan is trying to hang in there. He wants unity. His theory is that, if we get unified, we will — that’s the only way we can win as a party. And his theory is, I have got a policy agenda. If I hug Donald Trump, maybe he will take part of it, but if I push him away, he will never embrace my agenda, and I care most about my agenda.

But I think that is unworkable and frankly not morally sound, that policy. It’s unworkable because you can’t share a stage with Donald Trump. He’s not a sharing guy. He’s a sole figure who doesn’t do collaboration. He doesn’t do reciprocity. He doesn’t do teamwork. And you can’t have unity with a guy like that.

I wrote in my column today it’s like trying to hug a tornado. It’s just not going to work, because you will get what we just saw. And it’s immoral, or amoral, at least, because you can’t embrace somebody who says racist things because he happens to agree with your defense budget.

The character is foundational. And Ryan is trying to paper over a moral chasm with policy. And it’s just not — it’s not the right thing to do, in my view.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Pretty tough.

MARK SHIELDS: It was tough. It was a good column. And it was — David said it well.

Donald Trump, to quote David, which I’m always reluctant to do…


MARK SHIELDS: … but he has no horizontal relationships. And I think that’s true.

Mo Udall, a wonderful congressman from Arizona, said, always beware of any presidential candidate who doesn’t have friends his own age who can tell him to go to hell and — when you’re wrong. And I just don’t see that in Donald Trump.

I mean, I see a lot of relationships and a lot of vertical relationships and good relationships with his family. But, I mean, I think, Judy, the vote for president is a very personal one. And people are going to make their decisions based on, as Heraclitus said 25 centuries ago, character is destiny, and it will be in 2012 (sic).

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, he’s going to — I guess next week, he is going to try to talk about Hillary Clinton’s character.



JUDY WOODRUFF: And we will see what he says.

Mark Shields, David Brooks, thank you both.

The post Shields and Brooks on ‘anticlimactic’ Clinton victory, Trump’s ‘moral chasm’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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Shields and Brooks on persistent violence at Trump rallies, Clinton’s new line of attack

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Jun 03, 2016

Shields and Brooks

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HARI SREENIVASAN: But, first, to the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks, our captains of civility, those who disagree agreeably.

Welcome back.

All right, so, first, there is the story we had about the longer-term kind of pattern of violence that is happening in this presidential campaign, and also the blame game that’s being played by Trump supporters and the protesters outside, right, saying — well, what about the political dimensions of this?

MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist: Well, I think, taken most immediately San Jose last night and the protest/violence at the rally, the — everything I have been able to find out, the protesters, those who are critical of Trump were the ones — certainly not all of them — but the people who were guilty of the violence, of putting police at risk, of trashing property and so forth were the protesters, the anti-Trump people.

And, politically, the consequence of this is that they make Donald Trump and his supporters into the victims, and it hurts — quote — “their cause,” if they have a cause, if it’s an anti-Trump political cause. They end up helping him, because his hope is that it creates sort of this sense of things being out of control, events being out of control.

And that’s the recipe: I’m the strong man, the authoritarian figure that you need to bring order to America.

DAVID BROOKS, New York Times Columnist: Yes, I guess I semi-halfway disagree.

I agree that the victims were the Trump supporters. That’s clear from the videos that we have seen. Whether — who it helps and hurts, I suspect it won’t have a big effect either way, but you can argue it both ways.

For Trump supporters, for people who are pre-convinced to support Donald Trump, it vindicates a lot of their world view. And so it will solidify his support.

But the only time I can really think of political violence really having a political effect was 1968 in Chicago.

MARK SHIELDS: Very much so.

DAVID BROOKS: And in that case, it was sort of intra-left, but it certainly hurt the Democrats, because there was an aura of disarray.

And so one can see among independent voters and who are just nervous about Trump as a phenomenon, the fact that there is all this violence and all this drama surrounding the whole Trump phenomenon could be nervous-making and it could drive some people. I doubt, either way, it will have a massive effect.

But it’s just a bunch of young thugs who like to punch somebody.

HARI SREENIVASAN: We have always had protests as part of the political discourse.


HARI SREENIVASAN: Every national — every four years, there is the little section for the protesters at whatever convention. This just seems different.

MARK SHIELDS: I think it is.

I mean, I think Donald Trump, it’s part of his shtick, is he plays to the audience and to those who do protest inside, and don’t — help him out, get him out of here, that is part of his routine, his political routine, and part of his political appeal.

But that in no way justifies or vindicates putting police officers at risk or attacking other people physically.

DAVID BROOKS: This is a little more like soccer hooliganism to me. It’s a group of people who like violence. They tend to be young men. And Trump happens to generate this sort of excitement that gives them a pretext.


Earlier in the program, we had a conversation about the weak jobs report, the weak recovery. And there was actually an interesting clip that I want to play from the town hall that Gwen Ifill moderated with the president in Elkhart, Indiana.

When he was asked by someone, insightfully, if there’s something that you could change, what would you change, here’s what he said.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I think the thing I would have probably done differently is, I would have tried to describe earlier to the American people how serious the recession was going to be, which is — which would have hopefully allowed us to have an even bigger response than we did.


MARK SHIELDS: I think he’s right.

If you look at the 21st century, the first eight years of the 21st century, by Barack Obama’s election, there was a net loss in the creation of private jobs in the United States. I mean, so, for him to really make the case then, what we were addressing then was the crisis, the financial crisis, people losing their homes, in addition to losing their jobs and losing their life savings, but there was something seriously wrong with the economy, and it probably — it was the time when he could make the case — or should have made the case — for a massive infrastructure, for great public works initiatives, to really generate the economy in a bigger, far more bold way than he did.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Politically, was that even possible at the time?

DAVID BROOKS: I don’t think so. I think the country cared as much as it could over the stimulus package.

I think we all knew how serious it was at the time. Everyone was in a full-bore panic in 2008, 2009. I do think they could have targeted the stimulus a little differently.

And so what we’re dealing with now is this long-term lack of people in the labor force, as David Wessel was saying. And so there’s a lot of people who just not — are not in the habit of getting up, whose skills have become rusty.

And so when you have got people who want to hire, they still can’t find anybody. And if we had taken some of the stimulus money and done some long-term investments in that, maybe that would have had some effect on the labor market, given people a few more skills.

But I have to say, overall, everyone had criticism about the stimulus, the Fed’s reaction. Compared to real-world countries, the United States got out of the recession faster and better than just about every other country.

So I think historians will look back — and we all have criticisms — and think that both the Bush administration, the Obama administration, and the Fed did a realistically decent job.


This week, a must-read was this tiny paper from Janesville, Wisconsin, I think, a gazette, right, where there was an op-ed. This is where — I think we have a quote we can put up on screen.

This is Paul Ryan finally gave his endorsement: “It’s no secret that he and I have our differences, but the reality is, on the issues that make up our agenda, we have more common ground than disagreement.”

This is somebody who was almost, looks like, kicked dragging and screaming into this word, endorsement. And at the same time, the next day, today, he comes out and says, listen, I don’t agree with what the presumptive nominee is doing and saying about a judge in a case that’s being litigated.

MARK SHIELDS: Paul Ryan obviously cares more about the House majority than he does his legacy as a disciple of Jack Kemp and the — his mentor and in many respects his idol politically. I think that’s the calculation he has made.

I mean, this is a man who is close to Mitt Romney. Donald Trump calls Mitt Romney a loser, walks like a penguin, ridicules him, just terribly offensive and vulgar stuff about him. But Paul Ryan knows that, if there’s going to be a Republican majority — or is convinced if there is going to be a Republican majority next January, that the only way to do it, he needs Trump voters to vote for Republican candidates.

So he’s made this deal, sadly for him, because he’s going to be spending the next five months — speaker of the judge case, do you agree with what Donald Trump said today in Boise, Idaho? Did you agree what he said yesterday in Hartford, Connecticut? That’s — he has got a steady diet of answering phone calls and questions about does he agree and where he does disagree.

HARI SREENIVASAN: We have heard that Karl Rove had a meeting with Trump.

Does this just mean that basically the Republicans are all just going to get in line and say, all right, this is our guy, we’re going to have to back him?

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, it looks like — it looks that way. They won’t be happen, but they will do it.

I think, morally, it was a sad day for Paul Ryan to do that. I don’t think his principles are there in what he said. I think, politically, it was also a sad day. If Donald Trump hangs in and is competitive in the fall, then maybe what Paul Ryan did will be good for the House Republicans.

But Donald Trump is the definition of downside. Lots of bad things could happen, and he could do horribly. And if he does horribly in the fall, it would have been nice if Republicans could say, we have got some distance between us and that guy.

And you could get a lot of people who would not vote for Donald Trump be a lot happier about voting for Republicans down-ballot. So, I think some distance would have been better than this plea for unity.

MARK SHIELDS: Well, I would just add one thing, Hari. And that is, I don’t think Republicans are falling in.

I think there was sort of a post his victory lap. And people — I think you have seen a deafening silence this week among Republicans. After Senator — Secretary Clinton’s speech, there was no rush of surrogates to defend him. There was no Chairman Bob Corker of the Foreign Relations Committee come out saying, this is unfair, Donald Trump makes sense.

He is very much the lone ranger on the judge. I mean, there has been nobody who has stood with him as he has accused this judge of having Mexican heritage somehow influencing his rulings in the Trump University case.

This is a man who was a federal prosecutor. There was a death contract put on him, or a kill contract, by a drug cartel he was prosecuting before his appointment to the judgeship.

He — I think Trump is basically by himself this week among other Republicans.

DAVID BROOKS: The Republicans have eyes.

Trump has had a very bad week, a really bad week, the Trump University, those comments, the riots, the Hillary Clinton speech. This is not a guy who’s sort of on the offensive anymore. And Republicans can see that. But that doesn’t mean they’re not going to say, oh, yes, I’m basically endorsing him, even if they do it from a small newspaper far away.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Let’s take a — that speech that you guys are referencing seemed like a new line of attack that the Clinton campaign has picked up on, because previous attacks — and I don’t know if this is going to be effective or not — but didn’t seem to work as well.

Let’s take a look at the video.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), Democratic Presidential Candidate: This is not someone who should ever have the nuclear codes, because it’s not hard to imagine Donald Trump leading us into a war just because somebody got under his very thin skin.


HARI SREENIVASAN: Will this work?

MARK SHIELDS: I think it will work.

I think, first of all, Secretary Clinton was better yesterday than I have seen her in the entire campaign. She seemed more comfortable doing it.

She — if you recall, John Kerry was put on the defensive in the ’04 campaign by saying, actually, I did vote for the $87 billion in aid to Afghanistan and Iraq before I voted against it.

There’s nothing like hanging someone on their own words. Mitt Romney had 47 percent people, I don’t have to worry about them because they’re dependent on the government, in 2012.

That’s what she did it yesterday. And she did it effectively. She did it with Trump’s own words. And I don’t think there’s any question she elevated the spirits of dispirited Democrats.

I think it’s an alarm, an exhortation to Sanders voters that this campaign is very important. I think it probably also reaches to California primary voters, where she’s in a — the fight of her life for California next Tuesday.

And, finally, she got under Donald Trump’s skin. So, I think, on all four counts, it probably was a very positive day for Secretary Clinton.

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I agree it was her best speech of the campaign, I thought.

And I would add a few more counts. It was very good for independent voters, because it is not an ideological left-right attack on Trump. It’s, this guy’s unstable. And that’s something — doesn’t matter what you believe. You can buy that argument.

And she did it in a way without sinking to his level. And that was something — a problem that Marco Rubio and other opponents have had. They get in the gutter with him. But she did it from a haughty, contemptuous, serious way, really. And so I thought it was quite a compelling speech.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Technically, that’s the kind of — the meta look, is, essentially, do you have to change the tone of the debate, does it have to become more coarse, does it have to become more personal?

And this is technically before they’re both presumptive nominees or leaders. But they’re not even the candidates yet, and we’re already seeing this basically go negative.

DAVID BROOKS: Well, we’re going to see that when you have two unpopular candidates, as we’re going to see.

But how you go negative and whether she would get dragged down was the real challenge. And she struck the right note. In politics, the lows are lower than the highs are highs. When somebody makes a mistake, it’s much worse than the benefits when they do something right.

And so people, voters are very nervous about politicians who seem unstable and disordered. And Trump — she’s painting Trump as unstable and disordered. And that plucks at something that genuinely has had a lot of resonance in fall elections.



No, I think it’s going to be that kind of a campaign. It’s — you want the focus on your opponent and your opponent’s shortcomings. And I think she put it squarely there yesterday.

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

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Shields and Brooks on Obama’s NewsHour interview, presidential legacy

Author: PBS NewsHour
Wed, Jun 01, 2016


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HARI SREENIVASAN: And we pick it up from there with “NewsHour” regulars, syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

It is not Friday, but we are happy to have you here.

Of those comments, what stood out to you?

MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist: What struck me was the president was making the case for his eight years in office, that the change had been improvement.

And implicit is a recognition that Donald Trump’s candidacy is not simply a rejection of President Obama’s two terms. It would be a repudiation of him. And even though, with Gwen’s baiting, he wouldn’t say his name or was very reluctant to say Donald Trump a name, I think the president recognizes that.

And I think was sort of — he is champing at the bit to get in the campaign.

DAVID BROOKS, The New York Times: First on the repudiation point, his — David Axelrod, his former strategist, made this point months and months ago, that each election, people tend to have a psychological shift to the opposite personality type.

So we went from the gut George W. Bush, to from the head Barack Obama, and now from Obama, we’re going to from the wherever Donald Trump.


DAVID BROOKS: And so they are radically different personality types. And I do think there is something for Axelrod’s point, that people always look for something different.

On the economic point, I think he’s right and wrong. He’s right about the gross numbers, that the unemployment rate is coming down, job creation has been pretty good. But it is a two-tier thing. If you look at manufacturing, especially over the last 19 months, it’s just been hit. It’s been hit by weak demand from abroad, so many countries in recession.

It has been hit by high dollar. And so those sort of industrial places in places like Elkhart, Michigan, Upstate New York, Central Pennsylvania, those manufacturing sectors have been worse off now than they were even a couple of years ago because of sort of weak manufacturing.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Mark, what about this idea there is a disconnect? Gwen brings it up. But also we had it on our Web site with different conversations that we had from the people that were in this town hall, that the president can lay out his case, and here are all the economic numbers, here are the facts, here is what your unemployment was, here is what it is now, but then you have somebody that stands up and says, you know what, I used to work at a manufacturing plant. And my job is gone. What are you going to do about it?

MARK SHIELDS: No, that’s right. Carrier air conditioning, which Donald Trump played to a fare-thee-well, quite honestly, and understandably, that they are leaving Indianapolis and going to Mexico and taking the jobs with it.

I thought he made a better case. And it’s a sense of trying to remind people, but it comes down to, how do you feel? I mean, President Obama has a surprisingly good job rating. David mentioned George W. Bush. George W. Bush in the fall of 2008, when John McCain was trying to win the Republican — another term for the Republican White House, had a 25 percent favorable rating.

The president is over 50. I mean, he’s got a higher job rating. But people don’t feel good about the direction of the country. And I think that’s real. And that’s partly Washington. It’s partly Wall Street. Things aren’t working, that nobody really cares that the top 1 percent — I think there is a whole host of factors that contribute to that.

But the president is — he is cerebral. He makes a cerebral argument. But, at a gut level, it probably isn’t as persuasive.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Is this — is this — sorry, you wanted…

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I would just say, it’s so regional.

If you go to the Industrial Midwest, yes, it feels like that. It feels bad. You go to the Bay Area, they’re just adding jobs at a great rate. You go to Nashville. Orlando is back. Phoenix is back. Houston is exploding. And so the Sunbelt is back. And the Sunbelt was so badly hit in 2008, but it’s back.

The Industrial Midwest is almost in another little downward hiccup.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Events like this, I mean, this — there was a specific reason he chose Elkhart. This was the first place that he visited after his presidency began. He wants to — this is a kind of legacy-solidifying look at how much this place has improved since I have been in office, right?

But it almost feels like, as Mark said, almost a campaign-style event to solidify the legacy. Just reminder, I was pretty good for the country.

DAVID BROOKS: Yes. It is not the right moment for that, probably.

This is a moment when pessimism is just en vogue. And he’s got numbers. He’s got numbers on his side overall, as I say, but the country is not in a mood to think it’s heading in the right track. There is almost a near consensus that we are not.

MARK SHIELDS: Those numbers are pretty impressive. It was at 19.6 percent unemployment in Elkhart when he first went there, down to 4 percent. It is, once again, as it claimed to be, the RV, the recreation vehicle, capital of the world.

But the mortgage and people who are behind in their mortgage payment or facing foreclosure, it was one out of 10 in 2009. Now it’s one out of 30. I mean, those are all improvements. Those are all — and you could say, well, it would have happened anyway, it happened in spite of.

But he took some real actions that were controversial that cost him politically to do it. And, you know, I think he’s entitled to take some credit for the improvement.

HARI SREENIVASAN: You know, there were e-mails going around today saying, you know what, the people of Elkhart succeeded in spite of the president.

MARK SHIELDS: Yes. I think that was governor, Governor Mike Pence, I think. The Republican governor is up for reelection this year.

The test to me whether the president is in good shape or bad shape is that Joe Donnelly, the Democratic senator, was there at the event. He’s up for reelection next year, not this year. But, I mean, if you really think that somebody is Typhoid Mary politically, you can think of creative reasons not to be there.

There are other subcommittee assignments that you — are going to keep you busy. But the fact that he was there with the president probably indicated to me that he felt that the president would be a help, rather than a hindrance to his own career.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Despite the fact that the president wouldn’t prefer to name Donald Trump out loud — it is almost like he is treating him like a Harry Potter character of Voldemort or something.


HARI SREENIVASAN: Donald Trump is still right in the news. And here we have a possibility where possibly two of the — the Republican and the Democratic National Committee kind of nominees could have kind of legal clouds hanging over them or at least an investigation hanging over them as they become the nominees and representatives of the party for the presidency.

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, well, the Trump thing in the news today, my newspaper had a good story on the Trump University.

And we sort of had the outlines of the story, but I think what was fresh in some of the new documents that we now have access to is the way that professors at Trump University were really pressuring people to get out their credit cards, to get multiple credit cards, to max out their credit cards, just to give all this money to Trump University, and then they left these people high and dry and deeply in debt, offering them very little in return.

So it was the machinations of scamming these people that we learned today.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Fair that Hillary Clinton says this means that my competitor, my opponent is a fraud?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, if you listen to the plaintiffs.

I mean, Donald Trump did a classic Donald Trump defense, which is to attack the judge, not — who didn’t bring the case, who’s hearing the case. The judge isn’t the plaintiff. The judge isn’t saying he was scammed or bilked. The judge happens — Judge Gonzalo Curiel happens to be of Latin descent.

Donald Trump accused him of having a vendetta because of that. He is a native of Indiana. And he — you know, this is classic, classic Trump.

But David’s former employer, The Wall Street Journal editorial page, today took him on as the politics of personal grievance, that he has an ability to personalize things, in addition to this legal case today. I think it is quite unparalleled in presidential nominees.

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

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Shields and Brooks on Obama’s historic Hiroshima visit, ‘normalizing’ Trump

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, May 27, 2016


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

Welcome, gentlemen.

So, let’s start with where the president was today, Mark, at Hiroshima. Made a speech, didn’t apologize, but he spoke of something that he said changed the world.

MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist: And it did, and he reminded us of how serious.

He spoke seriously. He is, at the core, I think, quite a serious man, and reminded that — serious words on a serious subject, a president deals in that. And it’s a reminder in the turmoil and the silliness of fatuousness of much of the campaign, that that’s what a president does. And he addressed it, I thought, in serious fashion.

JUDY WOODRUFF: What did you make of the president’s remarks?

DAVID BROOKS, New York Times Columnist: Well, first, I think it was a beautiful speech.

It was realistic about our human nature and our tendency to get into fights. And one of the nice little moments in there was when he tied the fighting of hunter-gatherers, the fighting of children on the playground to a nuclear explosion. It’s just the same sorts of territoriality, tribalism, but with bigger tools.

And so that was a nice tool and I think a characteristically Barack Obama-esque dose of realism. I was glad he didn’t apologize. I think, on balance, the decision was the right one. He elliptically avoided that. He avoided mention of who actually started the war, which was diplomatic.

And then, you know, as we heard earlier, he held out the hope of getting rid of nuclear weapons. I’m glad, as a matter of policy, he hasn’t done much about it. He’s reduced nuclear stockpiles less than the two Bush administrations did. And I think that’s just reflecting of the dangerousness of the world.

And to be honest, and this all goes the way back to the Cold War, I never got the whole reducing nuclear numbers thing entirely. Whether we have 20,000 or 10,000 or 5,000, one is bad. And so I never felt safer during the Cold War when we reduced it from 20 to 10, because if we shoot one, that’s bad.

But a lot of people put a lot of energy into this. I have quite never seen the point of it, to be honest.

JUDY WOODRUFF: They do. They do. They do.

MARK SHIELDS: Well, in the proliferation, I think it was just, more than anything, the sense of numbers and the direction that we’re trying to change in that. I really do, but by reducing the numbers.

We went from having, when Dwight Eisenhower was elected, five nuclear weapons, Hiroshima, Nagasaki weapons, to a million by the time he ended, the equivalent thereof.

JUDY WOODRUFF: At the end of the Cold War.

MARK SHIELDS: I mean, there is a limit, I guess, in how much you have to destroy the world.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, there was the long reach of politics, I guess you could say, while the president was in Japan. He commented on Donald Trump. He said that world leaders tell him they’re rattled by some things Donald Trump is saying, David.

Donald Trump responded, and criticized the president, said he shouldn’t have said that. But this all comes, David, as Donald Trump is figuring out his relationship with the Republican Party. He still doesn’t have an endorsement from Speaker Ryan. He criticized the Republican governor of New Mexico.

Where is he in his relationship with the Republican Party?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, people are getting in line to different degrees. They’re acclimatizing themselves.

And, as I mentioned last week, they’re normalizing Donald Trump, as if he’s a normal candidate. And a lot of them will say, well, the Supreme Court is what really matters, and he will pick a better Supreme Court.

And I — somebody make a good point. If David Duke was the Republican nominee, would you say the Supreme Court is all that matters? Would you support David Duke? At some point, to my mind, a line has to be drawn, that you just won’t support a certain sort of person.

But I have that a lot of Republicans are coming into view just saying, well, whatever, he’s part of the team. And Marco Rubio has sort of slid into that. Ryan and Cruz are holdouts. And Ryan is like — he’s like, do I really have to marry Henry VIII? Because it’s bad.

And then Cruz, it’s personal. Some of the things Cruz said — that Trump said on the campaign trail just got into Cruz’s — legitimately into his heart. And he is just, I can’t go there.

And so there’s a slowly seepage into Trump world, but with a few, I would say, honorable holdouts.

JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you size up his — this relationship-building exercise?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, I agree with David about Ted Cruz. Donald Trump gratuitously slanderous Ted Cruz’s wife. He libeled Ted Cruz’s father for being potentially part of Lee Harvey Oswald’s assassination of the president of the United States, suggesting that he was somehow a fellow traveler in that.

This is a libel. You don’t get over it. But I — at the same time, I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I cannot figure out any possible advantage to Donald Trump when he’s got a problem with Latinos and with women to go into New Mexico, where the nation’s only Latina woman Republican governor sits, who has not said anything negative about him, who endorsed one of his opponents, but has not been an attack dog on Donald Trump, and absolutely goes after her and is abusive to her.

And I’m just saying to myself, what is the advantage to this? And I just — I think this man may be addicted to the roar of the grease paint and the sound of the crowd, or however it goes, smell of the crowd. And those rallies bring out something in him, and he just feels that he has to — and it’s all personal, Judy.

I mean, it’s not a philosophical difference. It’s not a political difference. It’s all personal.

DAVID BROOKS: There is an undercurrent here which has been going on.

We have talked. And I do believe that a large part of Trump’s support comes out of economic distress and social dislocation. But there has always been an ethnic element to it, and how much that plays a role in Trump’s support is really impossible to measure.

His voters are not as poor as we used to say. Their incomes are in the 90s, $90,000s. And so they’re a lot of affluent voters. So, I not that they’re not necessarily economically hurting. And so maybe — if there’s a strategy there — and I think — tend to think there’s not.

I tend to think he just gets carried away by his addiction to insult. And he just goes after people. But if there’s a strategy, it’s maybe to whip up every white person in America, he think.s

I just want to mention, one other episode this week was the invocation of Vincent Foster’s suicide, which was another appalling moment. And we’re…


JUDY WOODRUFF: The Clinton White House.

DAVID BROOKS: The Clinton White House. It was a Clinton friend, friend of Hillary Clinton back, I think, at the Rose Law Firm.

And he came to Washington. Whatever happened happened, and he committed suicide. And just to invoke the conspiracy theories that still swirl around that is just — you know, the mind boggles, if we weren’t used to it.

JUDY WOODRUFF: I was going to say, yes, he was critical of Governor Martinez, but what he had to say about Hillary Clinton, at one point, he was holding his hands over his ears and saying, her scream, I can’t stand it. He called her a lowlife.

And I guess, today, he was saying, “Does she look like a president?”

How does Hillary Clinton, Mark, how does she counter that? Does she have a strategy for coming back at somebody who every day, it seems, has a new line of attack?


Well, let me, first of all, recommend Sheila Anthony, who is Vince Foster’s sister, had a beautiful piece today in The Washington Post asking, is there no limit to your shame? Do you have no sense of embarrassment?

I mean, after five investigations, the Department of Justice, the special counsel, Ken Starr, all concluded, without a question, that Vince Foster committed suicide, and Donald Trump is saying there is something fishy here.

What Hillary Clinton has going for her is a secret weapon, and it’s called Elizabeth Warren. Elizabeth Warren gets under Donald Trump’s skin. And I think she’s been the most effective adversary. I think she’s done more to unite the Democratic Party than either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders.


MARK SHIELDS: I mean, she obviously — he can’t stay away from her. He is tweeting about her.

And, you know, she had a line that absolutely drove him bats. And, in fact, I wrote it down, because I knew I would forget it. “A man who cares about no one but himself, a small, insecure money-grubber who doesn’t care about who gets hurt, so long as he makes some money out of it. What kind of a man is that? A man who will never be president.”

And I think the fact that she hasn’t endorsed Hillary is probably…


JUDY WOODRUFF: Hasn’t endorsed Hillary Clinton.


MARK SHIELDS: Hasn’t endorsed Hillary, hasn’t endorsed Bernie.

But it’s interesting. I think — I don’t think Hillary Clinton’s figured it out. I mean, Hillary Clinton was playing defense this week.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But whether it’s Elizabeth Warren or not, doesn’t Hillary Clinton, David, need to come up with some approach that works, that is an effective comeback?

DAVID BROOKS: Yes. Well, I think she does, not that anybody else has managed to do this.

Set aside the e-mail thing, but she’s just had a very bad week. If you looked at her communication style, it’s gotten almost soporific. She just can’t do the Christmas.

Trump, for all his moral flaws, is a marketing genius. And you look at what he does. He just picks a word and he attaches it to a person. Little Marco, lyin’ Ted, crooked Hillary.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Crooked Hillary.

DAVID BROOKS: And that’s a word. And that’s how marketing works. It’s a simple, blunt message, but it gets under.

It sticks, and it diminishes. And so it has been super effective for him, because he knows how to do that. And she just comes, with oh, he’s divisive. These are words that are not exciting people. And her campaign style has gotten, if anything, I think a little more stagnant and more flat.

And so the tactics, it seems to me, is either you do what Elizabeth Warren has done, like full-bore negativity, that kind of under the skin, or try to ridicule him and use humor. Humor is not Hillary Clinton’s strongest point.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But even without Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton has these other problems. David mentioned the e-mails.

How much of a problem is that for Hillary Clinton, Mark? And then, meanwhile, Bernie Sanders is still out there competing hard in California, trying to debate Trump. It was on again/off again. It looks like it’s off.

MARK SHIELDS: Well, first of all, Judy, we found out that they had not been candid, they have not been helpful, they have not been cooperative, they, the Clinton — starting with Secretary Clinton and her staff, with the inspector general, the State Department.

JUDY WOODRUFF: On the e-mail.

MARK SHIELDS: Said there were no rules broken. There were rules broken.

You know, for a candidacy and a candidate who has suffered from perceived problems of lack of transparency and lack of candor, this was a compounded act of lack of candor and lack of transparency and forthrightness.

So, yes, it’s a problem. It’s probably better that it happened on Memorial Day than happen on Labor Day or Columbus Day. But, as far as California is concerned, we get conflicting reports that the race has tightened, 850,000 new voters since the 1st of January until the 31st of March.

It should be a state — it’s a state she won against Barack Obama in 2008. It’s a state with a large minority population of Democrats, which should be her strong suit.

But, you know, I don’t think there is any question that it’s a horse race out there. Now, don’t — the Democrats shouldn’t get suicidal. Jimmy Carter lost the California primary in 1976 about to be nominated, eventually elected, by 1.3 million votes to Jerry Brown.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Thirty seconds.

What does Bernie Sanders want, David?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, he’s winning. I mean, he’s rising.

So, I don’t — you go to the rallies, he must feel good. The numbers are swinging in his direction. And he believes in a cause, he believes in a mission. It’s also psychologically super hard, especially if you’re winning, to walk away from this thing.

So, I understand why he’s still going. I think he wants to change the country and change the party. And it’s working, so why should he quit, frankly?

JUDY WOODRUFF: But we will see about California, 10 more days.

David Brooks, Mark Shields, thank you both.

The post Shields and Brooks on Obama’s historic Hiroshima visit, ‘normalizing’ Trump appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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Shields and Brooks on the NRA’s endorsement of Donald Trump and the Bernie Sanders factor

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, May 20, 2016


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JUDY WOODRUFF: And now we turn to the presidential campaign, where the party front-runners have been trading barbs this week, among other things, on foreign policy.

During a CNN interview Thursday, Hillary Clinton criticized Donald Trump’s handling of issues, saying Trump is not qualified to be president.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), Democratic Presidential Candidate: Whether it’s attacking Great Britain, praising the leader of North Korea, a despotic dictator who has nuclear weapons, whether it is saying pull out of NATO, let other countries have nuclear weapons, the kinds of positions he is stating and the consequences of those positions and even the consequences of his statements are not just offensive to people. They are potentially dangerous.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Trump shot back Thursday night at a fund-raiser for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

DONALD TRUMP (R), Republican Presidential Candidate: Today, we had a terrible tragedy. And she came up and she said that Donald Trump talked about radical Islamic terrorism, which she doesn’t want to use. She used a different term.

And I’m saying to myself, what just happened about 12 hours ago? A plane got blown out of the sky. And if anything — if anybody thinks it wasn’t blown out of the sky, you’re 100 percent wrong, folks, OK?

JUDY WOODRUFF: And then, today, there was more tough talk at the National Rifle Association’s annual convention in Louisville. Trump brought up the mass shooting in San Bernardino last year.

DONALD TRUMP: If we had guns on the other side, it wouldn’t have been that way. I would’ve — boom.


DONALD TRUMP: If we had guns on the other side, it wouldn’t have been that way.


DONALD TRUMP: And then you have the gun-free zones, gun-free zones. We’re getting rid of gun-free zones, OK, I can tell you.


JUDY WOODRUFF: Trump, who has previously supported some gun restrictions, received the NRA’s endorsement today.

Hillary Clinton, meantime, was off the campaign trail today, while her opponent, Bernie Sanders, stumped in New Mexico.

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

It’s great to have you both. Thank you for being here.

So, David, Donald Trump wins the endorsement of the National Rifle Association. Not a surprise. What does it mean for him?

DAVID BROOKS, New York Times Columnist: Well, he’s beginning to get the lay-down from the Republican base.

What’s happening is — I have had so many conversations this week, the last couple of weeks — he’s becoming normalized. A lot of people who a week ago thought he was the biggest monster since — coming out of the swamps, now think, well, you know, he’s a little more conservative than I would — or less conservative than I would like, but I think we can educate him, we can bring him along.

So, now he’s just a normal candidate. And that’s part of the general lay-down in front of him. And he has got to be thinking, man, this is easy. But it’s — it’s pretty much happening, not across the board. A lot of people are just laying low, but he’s gathering the base.

And the one thing that I think was a misstep was, he listed his Supreme Court choices this week.


DAVID BROOKS: And, to me, his fall campaign is not about winning over the Ted Cruz people. It’s about getting all the disaffected people across the ideological spectrum, including potentially some Sanders disaffected people.

And so making him on social issues and on court issues a very traditional orthodox conservative, seems to me, scares away a lot of people who are really his potential in the fall.

JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you see, Mark, what he’s doing?

I mean, he’s appealing to the NRA, saying, we’re not going to have any more gun-free zones, and then this — this — what David brings up, trotting out the names of 11 judges who he says are potential for the Supreme Court if he’s elected.

MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist: Yes, I just see this on the part of Trump — the judges, I see it a little bit differently. That is, just he’s reaching out to the base. He’s trying to reassure them, look, you know, I’m OK.

And it’s providing cover to them. Hey, look — you know, they don’t want to support him. They have got doubts about him. They’re afraid of what he might do by Columbus Day or Labor Day, to the point where he not only embarrasses and hurts Republicans, but embarrasses and hurts them for having endorsed him or stood with him.

So he’s just kind of providing cover: Well, he was going to give us the right kind of judges.

The gun-free zones I mean, this is a man of enormous flexibility. He didn’t just say that he was for an assault weapons ban. He wrote it in a book. When you write it in a book, it’s something — it’s just not off the cuff. And now he’s totally changed his position on that.

The gun-free zones, Judy, to me, it’s just — it’s irrational, that somehow packing heat, bringing a concealed weapon into an elementary school area or on a campus is going to increase personal safety.

That absolutely bizarre, boom, at San Bernardino — he can’t leave San Bernardino, for good reason. It was a political masterstroke on his part. I mean, San Bernardino, the tragedy that happened, the mass murder, what did he say after? I’m for banning Muslims of any kind from coming into the United States.

And what did it do? It was a 2-1 approval among Republican voters. And his numbers went up. So, I mean, he’s going to play that card, and that’s what he’s doing.

DAVID BROOKS: There’s a couple of other things going on here.

One is just the — like, does the president have power to end all gun-free zones around schools? School — there is a federal law that George W. — H.W. Bush passed.

MARK SHIELDS: That’s right.

DAVID BROOKS: But the schools — the localities and the states have some say in all this.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Right. Right.

DAVID BROOKS: And so he does — he doesn’t really have the power.

It’s like a symbolic issue. So much is symbolic. Even his reaction to the airplane that crashed, he — in narcissistic fashion, frankly, he chose the reality that was useful for him at that moment. And reality bends around him.

And so we don’t know what happened to that plane. But he said — and then we just saw that clip — if you disagree with me on this unknown thing, you’re 100 percent wrong. And that’s the reality force field that he creates around himself.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But he seems — as Mark was saying — and I guess you’re both making this point — he seems to be able to say whatever he believes at that moment, but then to say something different later.

And is he being held accountable by the voters? Or are his people just so enamored of what they’re hearing and what they’re seeing, Mark, that it doesn’t really matter what he says?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, I think the National Rifle Association would have endorsed a ham sandwich against Hillary Clinton.

I mean, he could have got up and said anything. This is — his past positions mean nothing. They were going to endorse him. And his past positions mean nothing to him. I think the man could pass a polygraph. I mean, he has already done this on Libya.

Just now it turns out that his position on Libya, where he’s criticized Secretary Clinton for the United States toppling — or being involved in the toppling of Gadhafi, and then leaving the country to its own resources, which proved sad and inadequate, that this was a tragedy, now it turns out that Donald Trump was all for going into Libya, for bringing full force.

Now, I think this is a cumulative thing. And maybe it doesn’t matter in the primary. I think, when you’re talking about a crisis, a national crisis — and every campaign has them — we had it in October in 2008 with the financial crisis and the collapse. And Barack Obama looked steady, looked sure-footed.

John McCain, the elder statesman, the senior guy, didn’t — wasn’t — yes, it was his party, and he was in a terrible bind with George Bush in the White House, but he didn’t look sure.

So, I don’t think that Donald Trump, this sort of reckless impulsiveness is going to wear well.

DAVID BROOKS: Well, the problem is…

JUDY WOODRUFF: You don’t? You don’t think…


MARK SHIELDS: No, I don’t.

I think there will be a time. If a question becomes, you know, what should the United States do and, you know, he says it — tweets at 6:00 in the morning, send the 82nd Airborne in, there may — I think there is a question of restraint and judgment and seriousness and maturity.

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, the problem is, this is a binary choice. This is an election of one person against another.


DAVID BROOKS: And so large majorities of Americans think that he is not honest and trustworthy. But the exact same percentage think Hillary Clinton…


MARK SHIELDS: That’s true.

DAVID BROOKS: A large percentage do not think he shares their values. The exact same percentage think Hillary Clinton — a large — or a significant majority disapprove of him, but nearly as many disapprove of Hillary.

And in a weird — he’s going down, but somehow Hillary is following him straight down. The Hillary thing is a mystery to me. She was up at 66 percent approval rating when she was secretary of state. It hasn’t been that long. She’s just fallen in half.

And so her approval ratings have just taken this long, slow slide. And so she’s at parity, basically, with him, except on the temperament issue, which is why she’s hitting that over and over.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Where he is — he’s something like 70 percent say…

DAVID BROOKS: She’s at 21 percent advantage over him.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Over him on that.

MARK SHIELDS: On the secretary of state, just in fairness to her, when you’re secretary of state, she had the support and endorsement of a lot of partisan Republicans.

And once it became obvious she was a presidential candidate — but, no, I do not argue that she has slipped. What we have is two candidates who are unpopular. Hillary Clinton, however, is seen as smart and experienced and someone who is knowledgeable. And, you know, I think the question on Donald Trump, the jury is still out on that.

JUDY WOODRUFF: You mean on…

MARK SHIELDS: On those qualities. I mean, I think they both — they have the liabilities that you mentioned and David mentioned of trustworthiness and honesty.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But they both have positives as well.

But we also need to mention, of course, that there is still another Democrat out there that Hillary Clinton is running against in Bernie Sanders, David, who was out this week still saying he’s in it until the end. His campaign put out a statement yesterday saying there are growing doubts about Hillary Clinton as the party’s nominee.

Where does this Democratic race stand? People are — should we be asking, is it really over or not?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, I think it’s over just on the delegates.

And she has won, I don’t know, 60 percent of the votes. And she’s about 9 — on the average of polls, she’s about 9 percentage points up in California. So, probably, she’s going to be the nominee. Almost certainly, she’s going to be the nominee.

But I sort of sympathize where Sanders is, because the Democratic establishment is now saying to him, you have got to get out of the race or you got to tone down your rhetoric because you’re beating our candidate.

And he can say, well, yes, I’m beating your candidate. So, if he keeps winning, and so why should he get out? Winners don’t have to get out. They can keep going. That’s like the rule.

And so he can — both because he’s doing pretty well, reasonably well, second, because he believes in not only his candidacy, but his ideas and more specifically reforms of the process. And so — and, by the way, I do not think this is going to hurt the Democratic candidate in the fall.

In 2008, 60 percent of Clinton — only 60 percent of Clinton supporters said they would vote for Barack Obama. Sanders people are much more positively inclined toward Clinton than Clinton people were toward Obama.

And by six months from now, believe me, all this will be forgotten, and I think the Democratic Party is a much more unified party.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But is there still — I mean, what do you make of the race that’s still there between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton?

MARK SHIELDS: What I make of it is this, Judy.

Bernie Sanders 12 months ago launched a quixotic, improbable campaign. He was at 3 percent in the polls. Well-known pundits and wise people sneered, even snickered at his candidacy. She was 65 percent to 3 percent.

Over the past 12 months, Bernie Sanders has filled auditoriums of 27,000, 25,000, 20,000 people regularly. He has consistently won primaries. He’s dominated the debate. He’s raised $200 million.

There are three surviving candidates, three. There is only one who is favorable in the eyes of the voters. That’s Bernie Sanders. There is only one who trounces Donald Trump by large margins. That’s Bernie Sanders.

We had four primaries in the month of May. He’s won three of them. So the idea — is there anybody on the Democratic leadership, in the party, or the White House who understands he’s done so well? And you let him get out on his terms. He wants to make his fight.

I agree with David. The numbers are very much in Secretary Clinton’s, — the likelihood of her being nominated is overwhelming, but Bernie Sanders has enlisted millions of people. She needs those people in the fall, especially young people that are — have been indifferent to her candidacy.

And that’s why — of course he’s going to make the fight and make — carry it through. And he should. And they ought to give him some space and time and respect.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But my question is, what happens to all that enthusiasm that is out there right now for Bernie Sanders? Does it just sort of shift over to Hillary Clinton? It’s not going to happen overnight, presumably.

MARK SHIELDS: At the convention, Bernie Sanders stands up, and he says, this is the fight we have fought.

We have fought the good fight. We have kept the faith. We have not finished the course, but the rest of the course is, we have to stand to stop Donald Trump from ever being elected president. We have to stand with Hillary Clinton. I will do everything in my power over the next three months to make sure that Hillary Clinton is the next president of the United States.

DAVID BROOKS: He could tone down some of the rhetoric. She has not stolen the nomination from him.


DAVID BROOKS: The process may not have been totally honest — or not totally fair. But it was — she won fair and square.

I happen to think a lot of those voters will go away. I think the fall campaign is going to be so negative, that it will drive down turnout, and the sort of people who are likely to not — to say just say I wash my hands of this are especially his young — Sanders’ young voters.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, we end up…

MARK SHIELDS: That’s why it’s important that they keep him in the tent, very much in the tent, and honor what he has done.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we have got a few more weeks to watch the primaries. They’re not over yet.

Mark Shields, David Brooks, thank you.

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Shields and Gerson on the Obama transgender decree, Trump’s campaign

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, May 13, 2016


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 JUDY WOODRUFF: Now we turn to a week in Republican politics that saw the presumptive presidential nominee confront a divided party, and one in Democratic politics that saw the underdog candidate notch another primary victory.

We analysis it all with Shields and Gerson. That is syndicated columnist Mark Shields and Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson. David Brooks is away tonight.

And we welcome both of you.

I want to start, Mark, with our lead story tonight, the administration, Obama administration, putting out a directive to public schools all over the country to make bathroom, locker room facilities available to transgender students. What effect do you see this having?

MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist: In the real world in education, I’m not sure, Judy.

Politically, prior to today, the politics were all on the side of those who had opposed the North Carolina law, which basically restricted and came up with — was sort of a bogus boogeyman, which I guess is redundant, that there were all these men putting on women’s clothes and going into restrooms to molest females.

I mean, it just — but they passed…

MICHAEL GERSON, The Washington Post: Yes, solving a problem that didn’t exist.

MARK SHIELDS: Exactly. Exactly.


JUDY WOODRUFF: That was their allegation.

MARK SHIELDS: And I really felt that way. And I think that obviously the business community reacted as one and cost North Carolina great amounts of PayPal jobs, Deutsche Bank, Google, Coca-Cola. A Bruce Springsteen concert was canceled.

So, there was a defensiveness. Now, today, this — today’s movement by the president strikes me that the silence on the part of Democrats, of Secretary Clinton’s campaign, of Bernie Sanders’ campaign, of other Democrats in leadership positions, I have yet to hear senators from the Hill or governors.

So, I’m not sure. The federal atom bomb of federal spending, talking $3 billion in the state of North Carolina, is an enormous, enormous weapon. But I’m not — the lack of enthusiastic response from Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders, I’m not sure that they see it as an unmixed political blessing.

JUDY WOODRUFF: At least at this point, we don’t know that they have commented yet. We haven’t heard of any comment.

MARK SHIELDS: They didn’t rush to the microphones. Put it that way.


JUDY WOODRUFF: Good way of putting it.

Michael, how do you read the political repercussions from this?

MICHAEL GERSON: You know, I don’t know.

This is the kind of issue that is normally handled with culture norms, and people making compromises, and, you know, meeting real needs, because there is one here. People should be treated the way they want to be treated. That’s a basic norm.

But now we have both sides politicizing this, raising it to the highest levels of stakes, likely to go in the courts, way up in the courts, resentment, conflict. It’s turned into a culture war controversy. And we take issues like this that maybe people of good will could to some agreement on, and run them through this culture war machine of our politics, and then there has to be a winner and a loser, when, in fact, I think, on this type of issue, we have a long history of maybe reasonable people reaching accommodations in their own community.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But you’re saying that’s what the White House has done by coming out with this directive today, stirring it up?

MICHAEL GERSON: I think it’s an overreach, but I think the other side overreached in North Carolina as well, and by politicizing this.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Let’s turn now to the story I guess that had everybody consumed, Mark, this week in Washington, Donald Trump.

Now that it looks like he has wrapped up the nomination, there is this dance, this effort under way to win over Republicans, especially Republicans here in Washington who still have not climbed on board, have not endorsed him.

What did that look like to you? There were meetings. There were — behind closed doors. Some of these Republicans have come over and said they will support him, but others are holding back.


House Speaker Paul Ryan being the most visible, I mean, a man who’s earned his credibility and his reputation of being a man of conviction on issues like welfare, of immigration reform, of balancing the budget, of open and free trade, of controlling entitlement spending and limiting and privatizing Medicare, met with Donald Trump, who has run against all four, emphatically and loudly against all four, and said he was a nice man.

That’s basically become the default position for Republicans who really don’t like Donald Trump very much. Is he a nice man? Lindsey Graham is discovering in him qualities of warmth that had gone undetected in their fight during the primaries.


MARK SHIELDS: And I think Paul Ryan reflects — he’s trying to provide some cover to his own suburban Republicans that might be threatened by a Donald Trump candidacy in suburban districts, where there’s a question of Trump being a liability to Republicans.

And, at the same time, he understands that you’re far better off having a united party. I think what has helped Donald Trump, more than anything else, is that the first poll that came out, the CNN poll showing Hillary Clinton with a 13-point lead, 54-41, and then every poll since then has shown the race a lot closer, especially in battleground states of Ohio and Florida and Pennsylvania even.

So, perhaps associating with him is not the political threat or liability that it might have been. And I think you will see people nudging over.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But how do you — what is the thought process going on here, Michael, on the part of some of the members of Congress especially who were just unalterably opposed to him, were supporting others, and now they are moving over to his side?


I think Ryan has laid the predicate for eventual surrender. I think the normal reaction here is to try to rally the party, to pick the lesser of two evils, to find whatever agreement you can and emphasize it.

The problem is, this isn’t a normal circumstance. You’re not dealing with a man that has some different policy views, even on big issues. You’re dealing with a man that’s not qualified for the presidency, not qualified morally because he picks on minority groups, not qualified temperamentally.

I have seen what a president looks like. It doesn’t look like this. And not qualified from background and experience, and so I think a lot of the political class is dealing with this as one of the normal issues of compromise, instead of looking at this, is he fit to be president of the United States? That’s a question they want to avoid.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But what is the — what is that — again, I’m trying to get at what the thought process is, Mark.


JUDY WOODRUFF: How is it that some members are finding him acceptable and others are still — are holding out? And Paul Ryan is holding out, but the sense is that he is going to come around.

MARK SHIELDS: The question at the office pool is, will Bernie Sanders endorse Hillary Clinton before Paul Ryan endorses Donald Trump?

But I don’t think there’s any question, after the post-session, that Paul Ryan is heading in that direction. Judy, if you’re running for reelection, it’s always easier to run on the same ticket with your presidential candidate lined up, because, for your own survival, if you break with the presidential candidate, that presidential candidate has some loyal supporters who may exact retribution on you, even though you’re running for the House or the Senate, that you turned your back on our guy and punish you.

So, it’s easier to do that. But, you know, I have to say, I think, in the case of Lindsey Graham — this is projection on my part — why he’s going soft on Donald Trump or sounding softer, is that his best friend in the world, John McCain, is up for reelection and in a very difficult race in Arizona. And Donald Trump could be a liability there. And he just feels that, somehow, if he goes easy, that this will be less of a problem for John McCain.


And I do have to say, we knew this would happen. When you get the nomination, controlling the party is powerful. But when you see it in reality, it’s kind of revolting.

Somebody like Rick Perry, who was the leading critic of Donald Trump’s character early…



MICHAEL GERSON: … talked about him as a cancer on conservatism, now angling for a vice presidential nod.

You see some — a serious person like Senator Corker, who seems to have ambitions in that administration. It’s a sad thing, in many ways, to watch what happens when political reality takes hold in these cases.

JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you — how do Republicans reconcile what appear to be changing stances on positions, on raising taxes one day, saying, no, I’m not raising taxes on the wealthy the next day, different statements on whether the wall is going to be built and how high it’s going to be?


Well, there’s two things to bear in mind. Donald Trump has no public record, OK? So, he doesn’t have policies. He’s never had policies, never been a policy candidate. He’s disdained white papers or think tanks or anything of the sort. He’s been a campaign of bumper stickers. Build a wall. Make Mexico pay for it. Take it back. Send them back. Round them all up.

That’s it. So, as a consequence, he has no — he has a very tenuous connection with the positions he’s taken. I mean, they’re not based upon votes or anything of the sort.

MICHAEL GERSON: But I think it is important. You know, he doesn’t have consistent views. When he changes his views, he doesn’t have any reason for changing his views, which is just extraordinary.

MARK SHIELDS: That’s right.

MICHAEL GERSON: But it calls attention to the fact that he was never offering policy from the first day of this campaign.


MICHAEL GERSON: On issues like jobs, on issues like immigration, what he’s arguing is that he should be in charge.



This is an essentially authoritarian appeal. The people — many people who support him are essentially giving up on self-government, saying he should take care of it, he should be in charge…


MICHAEL GERSON: … when, in fact, this is pretty weak hands to put in charge.

JUDY WOODRUFF: I want to save a little bit of time for the Democrats, Mark.


JUDY WOODRUFF: Bernie Sanders won his 19th primary this week, West Virginia.

MARK SHIELDS: Yes, he did.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Is there a chance that he could be the nominee of the Democratic Party?

MARK SHIELDS: There’s a chance, a very, very slim chance, probably not a realistic chance.

Hillary Clinton has an air of inevitability about winning the nomination. But Bernie Sanders has momentum. He’s won 11 of the last 16 contests. He’s won the last two. He has — both races in May. He’s on his way in Oregon.

You know, so he has this sense. And he made a very strong statement on Tuesday night, that Donald Trump would be elected over my dead body. We’re going to stop him.

He opposed him. So, Hillary Clinton would like to be rid of Bernie Sanders. Bernie Sanders has a constituency of young people, energy and passion that she needs desperately. She needs desperately to win and her campaign needs that infusion of sort of idealism. And I think Bernie Sanders is probably the only agent who can deliver it.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Michael, how does this affect what she needs to do between now — if she is the nominee — between now and November, the fact that he’s still in here and Donald Trump sewed it up for the Republicans?

MICHAEL GERSON: Well, we are seeing a significant — she’s won the nomination, essentially, not certainly, but essentially.

We’re seeing that a significant portion of the Democratic Party wants to humiliate her eve, though she’s won the nomination. That is a serious thing. It points out that she’s not a particularly strong candidate. Trump and Hillary Clinton are some of the least liked politicians in America.

It’s an extraordinary race. There are many people who are in the never Trump camp, but there’s also a number of people who are in the never Hillary camp. And that race could be closer than people think.

MARK SHIELDS: But Bernie Sanders, in his defense, he has — he wants his campaign to have stood for something. And it has. It certainly has.

But he wants to carry it to the fight for the platform of the party, to the positions. I don’t think it’s humiliation of her that drives him at this point. I mean, he’s been through all of this for so long, and he wants his people to have their moment in the sun.

I think it’s absolutely natural.

MICHAEL GERSON: But the alarm bells are going off. So, you have senators pressuring him to get out of the race because Trump looks stronger than they thought.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And that’s a new phenomenon.


JUDY WOODRUFF: Gentlemen, we thank you both. We’re going to leave it there.

Michael Gerson, Mark Shields, thank you.

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Shields and Brooks on Trump’s nomination triumph, and why the Democratic race isn’t over

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, May 06, 2016


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JUDY WOODRUFF: And we take a close look now at this stunner of a week in American politics with Shields and Brooks.  That is syndicated columnist Mark Shields, and “New York Times” columnist David Brooks.

Welcome, gentlemen.

So, we just heard from a feisty Bernie Sanders.  We’re going to talk about him in a minute.

But I first want to ask you about, I guess, kind of an earth quake that happened this week that many people thought wouldn’t come, the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party, David, is Donald Trump.  I won’t say if anybody in this room predicted he might not make this — reach this point, but what does it say that here he is against all odds?

DAVID BROOKS, New York Times columnist: I’d like to assure you that he will not get the nomination.


DAVID BROOKS:  You know, it says a lot of things.  It says the Republican establishment has been coasting on the fumes of Reaganite philosophy for too long which are not applicable to the day.  It says that we have some people in America who are longing for a country that is never coming back, where a certain sort of white male ideal is the top of society and that’s never coming back and they’re looking for a white male to remind them of those days.

It also says a lot of people are hurting for perfectly legitimate reasons.  They’ve seen their jobs go, they’ve seen their neighborhoods go, they’ve seen their families go, they’ve seen drug addiction, they’ve seen unemployment, and they’re pessimistic about the future and they’re willing to take a flyer on the guy.

And so, there are a lot of legitimate and illegitimate reasons why this guy is here.  I don’t think he’s a legitimate candidate or would be a legitimate president but what he’s done has to be respected to some degree.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  What would you add, Mark?  How did he do this?

MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist:  Judy, I think we missed the story, in the sense that we never examined the program sees that the Republican Party has been organized around, which is an aggressive foreign policy, a muscular defense policy, interventionists, a commitment to smaller government, and not open immigration but certainly, considerably welcoming immigration policy, and tax cuts.

And Donald Trump went right by this argument.  He basically did.  I mean, he repealed the Republican interventionist defense foreign policy and, you know, emphasized his own opposition to the war in Iraq, and echoed some of the sentiments that the president himself has.  I mean, our allies have to do more, that they have to contribute more to their own defense, and the responsibilities.

But I would say beyond that, what he did was he put government — this is Henry Olsen, the conservative scholar’s analysis, I think it’s a good one — he advocates a government that is on the side of the people who are hurting, the people David described.  I mean, he’s not going to change Social Security.  He’s going to strengthen Social Security.  He’s going to make sure Social Security is there.  He’s going to make Medicare there and at the same time, he’s going to use it to — aggressive opposition to trade policies, where these people in many cases as David mentioned have been the collateral damage.

The big picture has been good.  There are communities and families and individuals all over this country, and he spoke to them in a way that really neither party has and, you know, I think that has to be acknowledged, and just remarked upon.  It’s an amazing achievement what he’s done.

He’s transformed the Republican electorate nominating the president.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Well, David, based on what Mark is saying and you touched on this a minute ago, I mean, what is the organizing principle for the Republican Party or people who vote Republican?

DAVID BROOKS:  Well, I happen to figure the Republican Party is in a moment of cataclysmic darkness.  But it’s in a moment of pre-revolutionary moment that we’ll probably have a cataclysm in the fall for the party, and then there’ll be a moment of ferment where all sorts of different people begin to speak — trying to speak for the party and we’ll have a scientific revolution, and then some new party will have emerged in five years.  But I suspect it won’t be Donald Trump because there is no there there, there’s no policy there.  There is Trump the personality but when he goes away, that’s gone.

What interests me about what he presents to the party that could last is a weird mixture of pessimism — build a wall, pull in American roles abroad and optimism.

When you talk to the Trump supporters, they like the optimism, “Make America Great Again”, you can’t believe how great we’re going to be.  And so, there’s this weird mixture of fear and hope that he embodies as a person.

The other thing I’m thinking about is the next six months.  We’ve seen in the last week or last day in training fire on Lindsey Graham and on Jeb Bush.  He has great ability to train fire on people.  That’s going to be focused on Hillary Clinton for six months.

What is that going to do to our politics?  What is that going to do with the way she reacts?  What is that going to do to the American psyche to have probably a level of personal viciousness that we actually haven’t seen before because he does erase all the rules?  That’s going to have some permanent effect on the divisions within this country and probably at least in the short term not for the better.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  What about that, Mark?  Does it make any difference that the leading lights in the Republican Party are either clearly not with him, the two former Republican — living Republican presidents, both Presidents Bush, Mitt Romney, John McCain are not going to the convention, they’re not getting involved.  Does that matter?

MARK SHIELDS:  Yes, it speaks volumes.  I mean, these are privileged observers who know the man.  It’s unthinkable that George W. Bush, the most recent Republican president could support him.

I mean, this is a man, Donald Trump, who on the eve of the South Carolina primary, in the debate, accused George W. Bush not being simply being — having been negligent in the invasion of Iraq, or not having thought it through, but of deliberately and consciously knowing there were no weapons of mass destruction and sending Americans into combat and into death.

I mean, that is such a charge of such magnitude and such seriousness, there’s no way you could even, you know, stand in the same room with such a person which George W. Bush understandably does not want to do.

But to David’s point, what you’re going to get I think from Trump is almost — it’s the reality TV, sort of the wives of Jersey Shore, no thought goes, no matter how shallow, goes unexpressed.  I mean, Lindsey Graham said he couldn’t vote for him today.  Fine, let it go.  But he has to respond in kind.

This is a man who’s going to need, in our current political climate, 90 percent-plus of Republicans to have any kind of a chance to be competitive, and he doesn’t have them now, and, you know, I just don’t think if you’re going to continue sniping and griping and just denigrate and demean other Republicans that you’re ever going to get him.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Do you think there will be a third-party move on the part of conservatives, David?  What —

DAVID BROOKS:  No, there is not enough self-confidence to do that.  There is not enough organizational structure.  Right now, the Republicans who were non-Trump are deeply unhappy, deeply immobilized.  Morale is low, conviction is low.

So, I don’t think they’re going to do anything.  They’re just going to sit and avoid and hope to survive.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  But there are tough decisions that Republicans will be making in the weeks —

MARK SHIELDS:  It’s especially tough, Judy, if you’re a Republican running for Congress.  I mean, you know, we now have nationalized our elections to the point where people vote the same way for president they vote for Congress, and there is very little overlap.  And if Donald Trump is going to be in trouble in your district, you know, that’s a problem for Republicans.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  So, let’s talk about the Democrats, David.  We just heard from Bernie Sanders.  He didn’t show any signs of slowing down.  He’s going to fight to the last dog dies, I guess, as somebody would put it.

What do we have happening here in the Democratic race for president?

DAVID BROOKS:  Well, Hillary Clinton’s pretty weak.  I mean, the loss — I confess I was surprised by her loss in Indiana.  Usually, once it sort of gets settled, the party coalesces, but that doesn’t happen.  That is not happening, in part because he has his issues, he has his following, in part because she just hasn’t been able to rally and inspire.  And her base, her supporters, it’s almost demographically defined, not intellectually or emotionally defined.

And I — you know, she gave a speech in West Virginia this week which in some levels was a fine speech but it sounded like every other political speech you’ve heard, and the political proposals in there were fine, you know, expand community college, let’s look at job training programs, they were fine.  But they did not inspire an interest, they did not seem new, they did not seem fresh, and this is a year where freshness is really called for because of the mood of the country.

And, so, I think imaginatively, she has not risen to the moment and still has not risen to this moment.  She’s now training fire on Trump and that will probably be enough.  But in terms of inspiring people for an agenda when and if she becomes president is not really there yet in my mind.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  What do you see happening?

MARK SHIELDS:  Well, I disagree in the sense that what have been her liabilities in the primaries, and they — and Bernie Sanders has a remarkable story.  I mean, he’s got 18 primary and caucus victories when people had written him off before.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  And he’s going to win more —


MARK SHIELDS:  He’s going to win West Virginia and Oregon, according to poll information.

And so, you know, 20 heading into California.  It’s pretty — it’s remarkably impressive, 2.4 million contributors and all the rest of it.  But I think in a strange way, what have been Hillary Clinton’s liabilities, the lack of incitement, the long resume, the sort of stability and predictability could become great assets in a general election, running against this mercurial, flamboyant figure.

I mean, she’s going to — it’s going to look like, wow, that’s bedrock I think to a lot of American voters.  Even ones right now who don’t like her, don’t intend to vote for her, she is going to look like the beacon, the island in a contest if it is a Trump-Clinton race, and I think it is a strength of hers, her stability and predictability and sort of solid commitment to policy and facts and background.

I think that — I think that in a strange way what has been a liability could be a great asset.
JUDY WOODRUFF:  Could that work to her benefit?  I mean, she still has to deal with Sanders.

DAVID BROOKS:  Right.  No, I agree with Mark.  Generally, voters vote for the candidate of order, the one who seems safest, and she’s certainly compared to, you know, Mr. Thermonuclear, Self-Implosion, Donald Trump, yes, she does seem safe.

But I still think even — so she’s likely to win, obviously.  But as a president, being the status quo, being sitting on the course is probably still not what the country wants.  And, so, I do think, if I were her, I would think where can I be more daring than I have been, and who can I hire that’s more daring than I have been?

Where — because Trump has — Sanders has big ideas, Trump has ideas that are big but hollow, but all of the sensible people have really small ideas.  And I think she’s included in that, and, frankly, Paul Ryan is, too, right now.  I think a lot of his instincts are right.  But the idea is people have been constrained by the last 20 years of what we can think about.  And so, the ideas coming out of people that are respectable are just not big and daring.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Speaker Ryan has said he won’t — at this point, he’s not ready to support Trump.

MARK SHIELDS:  No, but I mean, you know, Bernie has got a big idea, free tuition at colleges.  That’s an idea sponsored by another Vermont member of congress, Justin Morrill, in 1862, in the middle of the Civil War.  And we built the University of California, one of the great university systems and that’s produced 81 Nobel Prize winners.

So, you know, we’re a time of small, timid ideas and have been.  I mean, Barack Obama had big ideas in 2009 and 2010, and the voters spoke rather resoundingly in 2010, and he has not had anywhere near a working majority in the Congress since.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Well, I covered 2010.  I didn’t cover the Vermont politician in the 1800s.

MARK SHIELDS:  No, that was free tuition.  That was Abraham Lincoln signing.  Those were two Republicans.  Those were big ideas.  You know, the gross domestic product was then?  Seven billion dollars and we did it.  Isn’t that remarkable?  And we can’t do it now?
JUDY WOODRUFF:  We’re remarkable still.

DAVID BROOKS:  How does he know all this?


JUDY WOODRUFF:  He was there!


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

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Shields and Brooks on Trump’s primary sweep, Clinton’s ‘woman’s card’

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Apr 29, 2016

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JUDY WOODRUFF: Meantime, Ted Cruz grabs a key endorsement in the Hoosier State, Donald Trump addresses foreign policy, Hillary Clinton wins four of the five primaries this week.

That is just some of the political news in a week that brings us to the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks, who is in Pittsburgh tonight.

And welcome to you both.

So, Mark, we just saw John Yang’s report on what they’re doing in Virginia, these delegates who are hoping it’s going to go, at least some of them, to a second ballot. Where does this Republican race stand? What is the likelihood of it going past the first ballot?

MARK SHIELDS: Judy, I think the likelihood of it going past the first ballot is less than remote at this point.

Donald Trump had a victory this week, in the past two weeks, actually, in which he not only carried the five states. He carried every congressional district in those five states, and he carried every county in those five states, including New York. Those states have amounted to 213 delegate votes John was reporting on.

Ted Cruz, the alternative, the establishment alternative, collected three delegates in those six states. It is — essentially, Indiana is Alamo. I think the Republicans have gone from resistance to — from maybe rebellion to a sense of resignation. And, in short order, we will see revisionism. People will start to — Republicans will start to discover virtues in Donald Trump that they hadn’t seen before.

Victory will do that.

JUDY WOODRUFF: David, where do you see this race?

DAVID BROOKS: Pretty much the same way.

Maybe there were small neighborhoods or districts or townships where Cruz won, but, yes, it was a convincing win for Donald Trump. And if he doesn’t hit the majority number, he’s going to be close enough, so it will be super hard to deny.

And one of the things we have seen in focus groups among Republican voters, even those rank and file who support Cruz or Kasich, they don’t really like the idea that if Trump comes so close, that their man would be superseded over him. And there is not much willpower among the Republicans, either at the elite or the mass level, to deny Trump if he’s close, which it looks almost certain like he’s going to be close.

The second thing that has happened is not only Trump is strong, but Cruz looks a lot weaker. And flailing about with Carly Fiorina and the alleged Kasich deal, that looks like the acts of a drowning man. And so just in terms of the moral rigor, the motivation force, the morale, Cruz is collapsing, and Trump is surging.

So, I agree with Mark.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Drowning man?


JUDY WOODRUFF: Yes, go ahead.

MARK SHIELDS: Yes, just one thing with David’s point, and that is, Bill Cohen, who was a United States senator, won three elections, never lost an election, for city council, mayor of Bangor, the House of Representatives, had a very simple formula that he — he said, I don’t care how great your ideas are, how brilliantly you articulate them. Before people vote for you, they have to like you.

And what people — we have learned is that people don’t like Ted Cruz. And I think you saw an example of it in John Boehner, the former speaker of the House.


MARK SHIELDS: Ouch — is coming out in just — at Stanford University, and saying what a miserable SOB. Never met a more miserable sob.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Lucifer in the flesh.

MARK SHIELDS: And Lucifer in the flesh.

And I just think that there isn’t. And what you saw was Ted Cruz got 10 percent of the voted in Rhode Island, 12 percent in Connecticut. Those are wipeout numbers. And then he compounded the problem by going into Indiana, where basketball is king, and talking about the ring.

Now, you can call a basket a hoop, but nobody calls it a ring. It’s comparable, Judy, to someone going to Cooperstown, New York, to the Baseball Hall of Fame and saying, I love Babe Ruth because he hit so many touchdowns.


MARK SHIELDS: And I just — I think it — you could almost feel it end at that point.

JUDY WOODRUFF: David, you think the ring comment — let me ask you about the governor of Indiana, Mike Pence. He came out and today and said he’s voting for Ted Cruz. Now, he did compliment Donald Trump at length before he said he’s voting for Cruz. What did you make of that?

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, that set new levels of lukewarmness.


DAVID BROOKS: So he’s sort of for Cruz, maybe, if you hold a gun to my head. But, yes, it wasn’t the sort of ringing thing that’s going to turn the momentum.

And, yes, I agree with Mark. Cruz had a bad week. The ring thing. The Lucifer comment really resonated with a lot of people. I thought it was a nicely understated, generous comment.


DAVID BROOKS: But, yes, it’s funny. When you go up to Capitol Hill. And I was up there two weeks ago. The senators, they still think — one of them told me Cruz has more fascistic tendencies than Trump. So, that level of unpopularity is undermining Cruz.

And Wisconsin, where he did so well, turns out to be the outlier. That was the freakish case where he had all the talk radio people, he had everybody on his side. And that looked like the breakout moment, but it turns out to have just been a parenthesis.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, if that’s the case, Mark, does this mean that the Republican Party is coming around, Republican voters are coming around to Donald Trump?


And I’m surprised, as David wrote about today, the lack of resistance. There is a sense almost of — that Donald Trump has tapped into something, and I, as a Republican candidate in 2016, sharing the ballot with him, either running for Congress or the Senate, don’t want to risk alienating. I know what a problem Donald Trump can be. He’s controversial. He’s a lightning rod. But he has tapped into something. And I don’t want to alienate his voters.

That’s what it seems. It’s almost like they’re bargaining, even though it’s with alarm in many cases, certainly with apprehension in virtually every case.

JUDY WOODRUFF: What is going on, in your mind, David? And if you can talk about it — you’re in Pittsburgh. You said — you told us you’re talking to some Republican voters there. What are you finding out?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, a lot of things I’m finding out are related to why poverty is so endemic even among the white working class and what is going on with drug use.

But with Trump, I guess what I find out is a lot of economic resistance. And I regard Trump as a sui generis candidate, as a candidate who said a whole series of appalling things. And at least the people I spoke to in the last day, they don’t see him as sui generis. It’s like, yes, he said some bad things, he said some good things. To them, he’s just a normal candidate.

And that’s true for some of them who are supporting Cruz, by the way. And so they don’t see him something as outside the category of normal politics. And the politicians, to fight a strong force against someone as compelling or aggressive as Donald Trump, you have to believe in your cause. You have to believe in what your belief system is. You have to believe in your standards.

And Republican self-confidence has collapsed. And so what’s striking to me is, they are disgusted personally. They feel he’s going to be disastrous for the party in the long term, but, for some reason, they’re incapable thinking in long-term reasoning.

And the argument I made in my column today was that this is a Joe McCarthy moment. For 20 years after, you are going to be remembered for where you stood at this moment. And Republicans should be saying I’m — even if it’s out of self-interest, I will not be on the side of that guy. I will register my disgust with that guy, so 20 years from now, my grandchildren will be able to say, he was on the right side.

But so few are doing that.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, Mark, we know a lot of Republicans are happy with the way Donald Trump is going after Hillary Clinton.

But he made a statement this week I think that got a lot of notice, where he said the only thing she has got is the woman’s card. And he said if she were a man, she would be getting just 5 percent of the vote.

Is this something Donald Trump needs to be careful about, or is this an effective line of argument for him?

MARK SHIELDS: I find it hard to believe it’s an effective line of argument for him, Judy.

He has got 69 to 16 unfavorable rating among women of both parties, so he’s got a real problem running against Hillary Clinton. He’s now in the Wall Street — Washington Post/ABC News poll, he’s running 70 percent behind her among white women.

Why do I say white women? Because every Republican — Ronald Reagan carried white women twice. Mitt Romney carried white women by 12 percent over Barack Obama. John McCain carried white women over Barack Obama. George W. Bush carried white women twice.

And so this is a real problem. I have to think at some level, because Donald Trump, whatever else he is, is not an unintelligent man, and he’s shrewd — and he’s certainly been shrewd to win this — that it must be some subliminal message he’s trying to communicate, that she’s a woman, she’s not strong, she doesn’t have the stamina.

He’s kind of talked about it. That’s all I can think of, because I don’t think that there is a constituency out there that says, my goodness — obviously, there are people who don’t want Hillary Clinton and some people don’t want a woman, but I don’t see that as a majority in the country.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, Hillary Clinton, David, has not completely locked up the Democratic nomination yet, but she is clearly well on her way.

Is he handling this the right way? She’s already indicating — I mean, her campaign is indicating this is something they are prepared to go to fight out with Trump all the way through to November.

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, this is a home run for them.

They have printed out these little women’s cards, things to signify they’re — how they are going to stand up to this.


DAVID BROOKS: And it’s a total winner for them among suburban swing voter women. It’s a total winner.

I think, for Trump, it’s not subliminal. It’s just unconscious. His attitudes toward women have been entirely consistent for most of his life, and this is an outgrowth of that. His desire to build a coalition of resentments, whether it’s ethnic resentments or class resentments or any other kind of resentments, it’s his mode.

And so resentments for men who feel that strong women somehow are displacing them in society, that’s something he’s going to play to, whether it helps him or not, because that’s his sincere moment.

Clinton is getting ready and sort of mobilizing, and all this plays nicely into her hands.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And, meanwhile, Mark, Bernie Sanders is still there. He’s still campaigning. He did lay off some of his campaign workers this week.

But he’s now talking more about what is in the party the so-called platform. What does that mean? What is it that Bernie Sanders is going to end up, do you think, getting from this campaign?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, I think, if you’re not going to win the prize, then you — and especially if you’re a movement candidate — and Bernie Sanders is very much a movement candidate — you fight for the soul of the party, is what you — you lower your — change your target. I won’t say lower it.

So, you do that by fighting. There has to be a fight. In other words, you don’t go this far, this long, this many months with this many people engaged and committed, and then just meekly fold up your tents and leave.

So, you go to the convention in Philadelphia, and you fight on the platform. I mean, you might lose. There will be a couple of planks. There will probably be on economic regulation, regulation of Wall Street, whatever. I don’t know exactly what they are, minimum wage.

And Clinton will accept some, but there will probably be a fight on others, but you wanted to have stood for something.

JUDY WOODRUFF: I know it’s early, David, but what does that mean? To win something in the platform, what can Bernie Sanders — and, again, it’s early, but what does that mean? What can he take away from that?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, he’s already got most of the planks in the ark already. She’s moved significantly in his direction on trade and on focusing on Wall Street and a series of other issues.

I think the things that he would likely focus on are two. One is to ask her to embrace free college tuition, which has been a centerpiece of his campaign. And the millennials are a centerpiece of his campaign. I don’t know if she is going to do that, but that’s something to press for, and then something on campaign finance. He’s revolutionized the way campaigns fund themselves. And so that would be consistent.

I would see those are the two things, and maybe to solidify her support for the $15 minimum wage. She’s sort of mushy on that one. But he’s had a big effect already, and he may just want a little — a few more pieces to add to the accomplishments and the trophies on the wall.

JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, 20 seconds left.

I told you both you could say something about the first woman on the coin. It was announced last week. We ran out of time last Friday.


MARK SHIELDS: Yes. And you took a cheap shot at us last week, Judy.



JUDY WOODRUFF: I’m giving you a chance to either come out for it or against it.

MARK SHIELDS: Well, I — no, I’m for Harriet Tubman. I’m also for Andrew Jackson. Andrew Jackson is getting the short end of the stick, but I want Harriet Tubman on the currency.

JUDY WOODRUFF: One word, David.


DAVID BROOKS: Jackson should go, Hamilton in, Tubman up.


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

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Shields and Brooks on Va. voting rights for felons, toning down the Trump campaign

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Apr 22, 2016


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JUDY WOODRUFF: 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, gentlemen.

So, we just heard, David, from Governor McAuliffe of Virginia. He has decided, as we just heard, to allow 200 — in effect, 200,000 ex-felons, people who served their time for a felony crime, to vote. What do you make of it?

DAVID BROOKS, New York Times Columnist: Yes, I would love to see the ideological breakdown of ex-felons.

But I think it’s the right thing to do. I have never quite understood. You know, you’re assigned a cost you have to pay for committing a crime or even a felony. You do your time, you do your parole, you do your probation, you should be able to rejoin society in full measure.

One of the weird things in our whole criminal just system is, we have got people who are 50, and 60, well past what they call criminal menopause, and they’re perfectly upstanding citizens, and they’re not the person they were at 19, and yet we continue to punish them.

And whether they’re in jail, we should be more lenient on them. If they’re out, we should make them full citizens.


MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist: I agree.

And I thought Terry McAuliffe, who is accused of being a super salesman, a huckster, whatever, I thought he was quite persuasive in his case that, especially in Virginia’s long history of denying the vote to people persistently, as part of governmental policy, given the historical record.

And once a person has paid his or her debt to society and is off parole, I mean, why not? And don’t we want them to become part of society again and the community?

JUDY WOODRUFF: I mean, apparently, there are more and more states that are doing this. And a lot of the questions…


MARK SHIELDS: Yes, and a lot of red states, too, so, you know, the whole political question.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So let’s move too the presidential contest and surprise — David, I want to ask you about Donald Trump.

The Republicans are meeting in Florida, the RNC, the Republican National Committee. Yesterday — or I guess last night, Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, in a closed-door session, said — and we — some of this was recorded, so we know that he said it — that, in effect, that what Donald Trump has been doing has been acting, play-acting, and he’s going to be changing his tune, and you’re going to see a different Donald Trump, and he’s going to raise money for Republicans.

What do you make of this?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, first, the RNC gathering, from what one can tell, it’s like the gathering of the Russian royal family in 1916.


DAVID BROOKS: They seem to have no spine, no argument. All they want is, they don’t want the show in Cleveland to be bad. And so as long as the show is good, we can have a disastrous royal candidate who will destroy the party.

And so they’re fine as long as there is no bad drama. And so they’re laying down. And Reince Priebus will go down as one of the worst RNC heads for what he — how he’s behaved this year.

Second, as for Donald Trump and what Paul Manafort said, A, it’s not credible. Donald Trump has been Donald Trump for a long, long time. He is not going to stop being himself. And that a voluble, large, loud, and sometimes obnoxious and sometimes appalling campaigner.

He’s not going to turn presidential, because he lacks the gravitas, he lacks the knowledge base and he lacks the core. And yet now he has hired this guy Paul Manafort who’s saying, oh, don’t worry, he’s not some kind of blowhard, he just a rank opportunist who’s been putting on a show all this time.

So, I don’t — I don’t — A, don’t think it’s going to work, and I don’t think it’s particularly attractive either.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark, what do you think? Is it…

MARK SHIELDS: I think it’s quite attractive. I really do.


MARK SHIELDS: Judy, I think the Republican Party chair’s responsibility, any party chair, is not to give the party a candidate. It’s to give the candidate a party.

And if the voters choose otherwise, it’s really not the chairman’s credit or fault, the voters’ decision. The voters have made their decision. And I think that’s what we’re seeing both in Florida and in the Republican Party generally. There is a sense of inevitability.

It was such a crushing victory that Trump won on Tuesday in New York. And when Ted Cruz, the would-be alternative, finishes a distant third, so far out of the race, he’s no longer a plausible candidate himself. He’s just a vehicle to stop Trump.

And it looks like Indiana is the last shot. I mean, Donald — let Trump be Trump. Donald Trump has been this unbridled person who has been — totally contradicted himself. His positions on issues, Judy, are like the footprints at the seashore’s edge. They change with the tide.

They’re there today. They’re gone tomorrow. And it obviously hasn’t bothered them. It’s a personal choice on voters’ parts. And now he’s going to make a serious policy decision — speech, rather, on gender and foreign policy. And, you know, I think we will just continue to see new Trumps from here forward.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, you mentioned a changing position. He was — one of the things that he said in the — I guess it was on “The Today Show” yesterday, David, was — he was asked about this North Carolina LGBT law, the public — using public bathrooms.

And he basically said the Republican governor shouldn’t have changed the law, that he should have left way it was. And now conservatives, Ted Cruz and others, are coming back to say, this is not the Republican position.


So, that law is so bad, now I have to praise Donald Trump.


DAVID BROOKS: And so he’s right.

I mean, he made the obvious point. Is this really a problem here? Like, are there a lot of bathrooms at North Carolina where people are scared to go in? I don’t think this is a problem. This is — this is 1980s socially conservative culture war politics. Pick some issue that seems like something changing in the sexual revolution and try to mobilize the conservative base on the basis of it. That’s what it is.

And Donald Trump, to his credit, doesn’t play that game. He has moved on, as the Republican Party should have moved on. He’s playing a different game.

And so, to his credit, he’s not playing that game. Now, it should be said, people are saying, oh, he’s socially moderate. He’s socially moderate, but not in the way liberal Republicans are socially moderate or moderate Republicans are.

He’s socially moderate in a populist way, which is a different sort of moderation, but he does end up moderate on a lot of social issues. And to his credit, he’s just not stuck in the culture war. He is not stuck in Jerry Falwell lands.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, we should note, President Obama over in London today in a news conference, Mark, no surprise, criticized the North Carolina law.

But what — you said a minute ago that Trump — or I thought you said Trump is inevitable now. Is that really…


MARK SHIELDS: I think there is a growing sense of inevitability. I mean, he’s going to sweep the Northeast. So, now you’re left with John Kasich, who’s won one state and has had two semi-weak seconds in New Hampshire and New York, and a lot of wonderful editorials, and fawning praise from many in the press. But there isn’t anybody standing between him and the nomination, except him, which he is.

On the North Carolina thing, Judy, it reminds me of the furor — remember Phyllis Schlafly leading the charge about unisex bathrooms, how they were a threat to Western civilization. She had obviously never been in an airplane.


MARK SHIELDS: Or, if she did, she must have been uncomfortable on long flights.

And this is a solution without a problem. And, politically, where Trump shows a certain shrewdness is, he’s come down on the smart — not only the right side, the enlightened side, the smart side politically. The business community has moved as one against this sort of thing.

And Governor Pat McCrory, the Republican incumbent in North Carolina, is now trailing in the latest Elon college poll Roy Cooper, the Democratic attorney general, and his job rating has fallen to its lowest point, as a consequence in large part, according to the pollsters, of this whole brouhaha.

DAVID BROOKS: Could I just pick up on the Trump evitability?


DAVID BROOKS: I think he’s evitable, not inevitable.


DAVID BROOKS: Because it’s likely…

JUDY WOODRUFF: We like it when you make up words.

DAVID BROOKS: Well, I just chopped them up.


DAVID BROOKS: He’s likely to get the nomination.

But you should go back to these delegate numbers. He still — people have factored in the New York victory. He is going to do well in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, all these states. Indiana, we’re not sure. There’s a poll that shows him up, but the polling is bad in Indiana. It’s hard to reach people because of state law.

But say Cruz does well in Indiana, and then say Cruz does well in California, which is possible. And Trump would really need a pretty significant percentage of the delegates to get over the top. And if you look at the smartest analysis of people who are breaking down — there’s a guy named Sean Trende at RealClearPolitics who is breaking it down like congressional district by congressional district.

He has him coming close, but, and best-case scenario, getting a majority of the delegates, but easily not getting, easily coming up short, and that — maybe he can buy enough delegates to get over the top but there is still a significant, even a 50/50 chance he doesn’t quite get the delegates there. And then he has to scramble.

MARK SHIELDS: I just want to say, I defer to Sean Trende on his knowledge of congressional districts and the politics.

What I said was, there was a growing sense of inevitability. I think the wind is going to out of the sails of the anybody-but-Trump movement.


JUDY WOODRUFF: Two quick other things I have to ask you. Is Bernie Sanders — he didn’t do well in the state he was born in, Mark, in New York. Hillary Clinton won by 16 points.

What does Bernie Sanders want right now, and can he get it?

MARK SHIELDS: Hillary Clinton won a smashing victory in New York. And I think she has a clear path to the nomination.

Bernie Sanders has made history. He will leave this campaign, when he does, as the major leader of a national movement. He has changed the whole ethos of the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party had argued, we have to take big money, because, otherwise, we’re unilaterally disarmed.

This is a man who, with seven million individual contributions, has outraised Hillary Clinton with $182 million, and running on issues of economic justice, of inequality, of controlling the banks. So, saying that the message of representing the small people, the message of Franklin Roosevelt, Teddy Roosevelt, the malefactors of great wealth driving the money changers out of the temples of civilization, is all of a sudden current and vital and relevant, it’s an amazing achievement.

JUDY WOODRUFF: You’re saying the Democratic Party has changed?

MARK SHIELDS: I think Bernie Sanders has given every Democrat — has robbed them of the excuse that we have to take big money, we have to sort of mute our social economic values message just in order to mollify those guys who write the big checks, that there’s an alternative move.

And I think he’s changed that dialogue and the terms of the debate.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Is that enough for him, David?

DAVID BROOKS: I agree with Mark. He has done that. It’s not enough for him. He’s not going to win the nomination. He just doesn’t have the delegates.

I do think, if he continues to fight — and I don’t think it’s likely — the way he fought in New York, he will end up hurting his own movement. It will end up seeing, oh, it wasn’t about the causes, it was about Bernie, because, A, the highly confrontational style he took in New York didn’t work.

And, B, it will really begin to do damage to their nominee. Hillary Clinton is now having to spend a lot of money in places like New York and Pennsylvania and California that she will not need to spend money in the fall, but she’s having to do that because he’s pressing her in those places.

And he will begin to — if he keeps fighting, it will really begin to drain her and it will sour the mood around him, I think.

MARK SHIELDS: I disagree. I really do.

I think she’s a better candidate when she’s in a competitive situation. I think the New York campaign was New York values. That’s the kind of thing New York races that we’re used to. Whether it was for — it didn’t bring out him at his best. He made the mistake of thinking he was going to win and saying he was going to win.

He should have played it as the underdog. But I think he has not made this a personal campaign. He’s never brought up Bill Clinton’s $500,000 speeches, 11 of them given to foreign audiences while she was secretary of state. He hasn’t charged her of being part of the 1 percent and living in a bubble.

He hasn’t — really has been on the issues of economic loyalty and on economic concentration.

JUDY WOODRUFF: We have about 10 seconds left, no time to ask you about the new currency. I think you both probably think it’s too soon to put a woman on our new bills, right, the $20, the $10, and the $5.


MARK SHIELDS: They’re not serious about this, are they?

JUDY WOODRUFF: We will talk about it next week.


DAVID BROOKS: Thanks for that, Judy.


JUDY WOODRUFF: David Brooks, Mark Shields.

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Shields and Brooks on Trump’s delegate complaints and the Democratic debate

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Apr 15, 2016


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

So, Mark, what did you make of Mr. Priebus’ comment about Donald Trump’s complaint?

MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist: Reince Priebus is right. The parties, state parties, choose the rules, establish them. Those rules have been set since last August. They’re not particularly appealing rules in Colorado. Fewer than 1 percent of the 900,000 registered Republicans of the state even were able to participate in the choice.

But those rules have been available. I mean, the irony of this whole thing to me, Judy, is that Donald Trump has run as the guy who’s going to be the tough, no-nonsense negotiator. His election sends nervous knees in Beijing and Tokyo. And here he is getting rolled by the Colorado State Republican Party, which, in the last 42 years, has managed to win the governorship with one candidate in 42 years, and twice lost the state to Barack Obama.

If you can’t and negotiate and outnegotiate and outwit, and if you’re going to get flummoxed by dealing with the state Republican Party of Colorado, I don’t know how you’re going to negotiate these tough trade deals with China and Japan.

JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you see it, David? Donald Trump just keeps hammering away at this argument that the process is — it’s rigged, it’s crooked.

DAVID BROOKS, The New York Times: Yes. Well, as others pointed out, as a businessman, he was perfectly willing to use the amoral bankruptcy laws to his own advantage. And now he’s just getting outfoxed I’m the amoral delegate laws. I think that they’re…

JUDY WOODRUFF: Did you say amoral delegate laws?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, they’re just — the laws are the way they are.

But I think, A, they’re in touch with the American tradition. We do not live in a straight-up Athenian democracy. We live in a republic. We have an Electoral College. We have a United States Senate where the two senators from Wyoming have the same power as the two senators from California.

And we have, in that tradition and that spirit, we have a delegate selection process where it’s just not a straight-up democracy, where, as Reince said, it’s — every big organization, whether it’s General Motors or the Boy Scouts, they have an organizational structure in which they make decisions.

And the people who are more invested in the organization, are more senior in the organization have more power than the people who are not. And that’s for very good reason. It’s because you want a party to have consistency over time. You want it to have a structure where people have to compromise with each other.

And basically you want it to have a series of stability, so you don’t get carried away by momentary fads and crazy demagogues. So, by some logic, this structure exists to prevent Donald Trump and people like Donald Trump, who are of the moment.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But is it smart, Mark, for Donald Trump to keep talking about this process? Because he’s not giving up on this line of…


MARK SHIELDS: I don’t think it is.

I mean, it obviously gets a great response from the crowd that it’s rigged, and this has been obviously a theme of his, that the whole system is rigged, the economic system, the political system.

But I don’t think Donald Trump does well as a victim. I mean, he’s the guy that’s going to be, you know, the new sheriff in town. He’s going to come in and kick tail and take names. And this is where he looks a little bit victimized. And I just don’t — I don’t think it works.

The rules of the parties, Judy, do have — I think there is a public interest in how they do it. I mean, the Democratic Party changed after 1968, when it was determined — a major anti-war movement emerged in that year to challenge President Johnson’s reelection and renomination, and it turned out that more than half the delegation — delegates had been chosen two years earlier.

So the process wasn’t open and not available. And they made the process more open and available. But it is still autonomous to each state how to set the rules. Colorado did a lousy job of setting the rules. And there’s no question that both South Carolina and Georgia Republicans, where Trump won convincing victories, they’re already — the delegates are conspiring to dump him as soon as they can on the second ballot.

So there is a legitimate point of view, I think, he’s raised. I don’t think it works for him politically.

JUDY WOODRUFF: You agree he doesn’t gain anything by this?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, it’s the only argument he has, so he might as well use it. It’s an effective argument.

It’s not like — if he was winning, he wouldn’t be complaining. But it’s the argument that the situation presented. So, I would point out that, as we have gotten more open in our selection process, I’m not sure the candidates are any better. Abraham Lincoln was pretty good. He was very…


DAVID BROOKS: Franklin Roosevelt.

MARK SHIELDS: That’s the old smoke-filled rooms.

DAVID BROOKS: I like smoke-filled rooms.



But you were saying it’s the only argument he can make at this point, meaning he’s behind in the delegate — and figuring out how to pick up delegates, and this is all he can do right now.

MARK SHIELDS: He has got two million more votes than anybody else. He’s won more primaries and more delegates.

I wouldn’t — I don’t think this is a time we pass the hat and hold a benefit for Donald Trump. He’s about to win New York convincingly.


MARK SHIELDS: He’s been ahead in Pennsylvania. I think the people who have been endorsing candidates have been moving in his direction. He’s stronger than he certainly was when he lost Wisconsin.


To me, it’s a confusing moment, because in the delegate process, Ted Cruz has a clear — has not a clear path, but a path where if he can deny Trump the majority on the first ballot, and Cruz is looking pretty good — the delegates keep racking up for him.

On the public votes, though, Trump is rising in the national polls. He’s going to have a whole series of wins. Cruz is dropping in national polls. He could come in third in New York and a lot of other places. And so you really have a bifurcation. The delegate race really does look like it’s leaning a little Cruz’s way, but not the vote. So, in that sense, it’s disjointed.

MARK SHIELDS: His argument is a plausible argument.

I mean, the people are choosing one way, and the delegates are going the other.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let’s talk about the Democrats.

There was a pretty wild debate, Mark, last night between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. What did you make of it? It was — it got hot at several moments.


Gone is the cordiality and mutual respect of the earlier debates. I mean, this may very well have been the last time the two candidates are on the same stage together, and they — it couldn’t be over quick enough. I think that there was an intensity in the evening.

If I could make one suggestion to both parties, is that you don’t have crowds at the debates, pep rally crowds. I think it brings out the worst in candidates, and they start playing to the room, and getting cheers and hoops and huzzahs and all the rest of it.

But, no, it was a — Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, neither one of them came upon it as particularly warm or likable. I think that’s fair to stay. I think Bernie Sanders may be the most disciplined candidate I have ever seen. I mean, he stays on message very well.

And Secretary Clinton showed herself — could take a punch and keep standing. I mean, she certainly is — there’s a toughness about her. But she doesn’t have an answer for the Goldman Sachs and the transcripts…

JUDY WOODRUFF: The speeches.

MARK SHIELDS: … and speeches and so forth.

I mean, she said let others reveal their transcripts. I don’t know any other candidates for president who get a quarter-of-a-million dollars for speaking to Goldman Sachs.

DAVID BROOKS: The Goldman Sachs thing is so typical of Hillary Clinton.

Remember the Rose Law Firm papers that showed up, like, mysteriously in the middle of the White House on the table after years? She will delay and delay and delay until it maximally hurts her, and then she will release. And she just has this pattern of secrecy.

I do not think the Goldman Sachs thing is going to hurt her in a general election. Democratic voters care about that stuff. Donald Trump would love to be partners with Goldman Sachs. Most independent general election voters want their kids to go work at Goldman Sachs. I don’t think that’s going to hurt her.

I do think — I’m sort of struck by the way Sanders has not really widened his critique. I thought one — a pivotal moment early in the campaign is when he didn’t go after the e-mails, which he — at that moment, he left — shut off an avenue.


DAVID BROOKS: And, secondly, he could really go on a class critique of her, that she’s living in a fancy house, she’s eating in fancy restaurants, she’s of the — she’s not only of the establishment. She’s of the 1 percent.

And he — that could be a very big social, but not on discreet issues like the Goldman Sachs speech, on her whole life. And he really has not widened it out and, frankly, been as aggressive as he might be.

JUDY WOODRUFF: That would be taking it to a personal level, wouldn’t it?

MARK SHIELDS: I will say this.

Bernie Sanders has been urged to do that on the e-mails. And…

JUDY WOODRUFF: To go after the e-mails.

MARK SHIELDS: Go out for that. And he made the decision not to. That wasn’t what his candidacy and his campaign was about, is what he said.

And he — to his credit, he’s — what everyone says, he has dominated the conversation, I mean, that the movement by candidates in this race has been toward Bernie Sanders’ positions, not toward anybody else’s. So, I mean, in that sense, it was a disciplined decision. And it was a — and it obviously makes it easier.

I agree with David that the Goldman Sachs transcripts are not of great interest to Republican voters who — on such things. But he could have just belted her on that. He could have run TV spots on that, and he hasn’t. He’s chosen not to go at a personal level.

DAVID BROOKS: It may be admirable, but the point that Mark said I would like to underline is the way movement of the debate is.

I mean, you look at these issues. And the big one this time was with minimum wage…

MARK SHIELDS: Minimum wage.


DAVID BROOKS: … where she suddenly flowed to $15.

I personally think a $15 minimum wage makes total sense in San Francisco, but it’s completely crazy in large parts of the country. And she has made that point. She was for $12 minimum wage. Going up to $15 is way above anything we have ever done historically. I think it would really lead to historic job losses for the least educated and least skilled.

But, nonetheless, that’s where the debate is going, and she’s sort of being dragged along on issue after issue.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you think either one of them, Mark, helped themselves materially or hurt themselves materially last night?

MARK SHIELDS: I don’t know.

I think Sanders played very well in the room. I don’t how much he played. I don’t he’s cracked into her non-white support in New York or anyplace else. I think his decision to go to Rome probably made sense to — because it plays to his issue.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Meeting at the Vatican.

MARK SHIELDS: To the Vatican.

I mean, the pope is the most — according to the most recent Gallup of 64 nations, the most admired, most popular figure in the world, and is most popular among Catholics, Jews. He’s got a majority approval among agnostics and atheists. You put those four groups together, you ought to win a New York Democratic primary.

But if the pope is not going to endorse you, you endorse the pope. And you could say this has been a Pope Francis primary, in the sense of economic inequality and economic justice being central.


JUDY WOODRUFF: … you mention that, because some people criticize Sanders for being off the trail just a few days before the New York primary.

But, very quickly, David, does all of this lead to something for Bernie Sanders? Does it help him move toward unthroning — dethroning Hillary Clinton?

DAVID BROOKS: He would have to win in New York, I think.



DAVID BROOKS: And it’s very hard to see, given where the polls are.

But it does make her look bad. I think, if you’re in your home state and you’re being pummeled in this way, it just seeps even more of the little glow out of her campaign. It’s just a dogged, dogged race for her.

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

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Brooks and Marcus on Democrats’ clash over qualifications, GOP nominee questions

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Apr 08, 2016


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JUDY WOODRUFF: Now the week’s political news: the renewed war of words between the two Democratic candidates for president, a former president’s skirmish with protesters, and how Wisconsin has altered the race for the Republican nomination.

We get analysis now from Brooks and Marcus. That’s New York Times columnist David Brooks, joining us from New York, and here on set, Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus. Mark Shields is away this week.

And we welcome both of you.

So, let’s talk about this war of words that’s been going on the last few days between the two Democrats.

David, it’s gotten — the language has gotten tougher. It’s gotten more personal. What do you make of this?

DAVID BROOKS, The New York Times: They’re like 1/100th of the Republican level so far.


DAVID BROOKS: I think that I’m most amazed that Bernie Sanders wasn’t here months ago, frankly.

You know, he made a decision early on, I think the wrong decision, to take the e-mail issue off the table and take a bunch of issues off the table and not go after Hillary Clinton. And so he really wasn’t as tough on her as he could be.

Now he’s going after her, to me, on the least promising possible grounds, that she’s unqualified. Whatever else Hillary Clinton may be, unqualified, at least by any conventional measure, is not one of them. And so I’m a little mystified.

I do not think it will hurt the Democratic Party. I think, if you look at the polling numbers, people — most — the vast majority people on both — who support either candidate would be happy with the other. And so I think you will still get a reasonably united Democratic Party.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Ruth, what do you make of this, and why do you think it’s happening now?

RUTH MARCUS, The Washington Post: So, it’s happening now because this is the stage in every protracted primary campaign where candidates are tired, nerves are frayed. Everybody kind of wants it to be over and wants the other guy to go away, or woman to go away, and to win finally.

And so these — this is the moment when these things tend to happen. And they always tend — David is right that this is really rather tame compared to what happened on the Republican side.

I mean, on the Republican side this week, you had Donald Trump accusing his main rival of having committed a federal felony by coordinating with his super PAC. So, this is pretty mild.

These things also always look worse at the time than they do in retrospect. If you look back at some of the words that occurred between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in 2008, there was a lot of angst at the time about how Hillary Clinton’s supporters would never, ever be willing to vote for Barack Obama after what had happened to her.

Back in June of 2008, only 60 percent of them said they would vote for Obama. Well, guess what? They did. He’s president. So, this is going to — we had ramp-up Thursday yesterday. Today was kind of tamp-it-down Friday.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Calm-down Friday.

But, David, you don’t see this having an effect in the fall, that this could come back to bite whoever the Democratic nominee is? We assume it’s Hillary Clinton, but we don’t know for sure.


Yes, no, I really don’t think — I think, first of all, as Ruth said, wounds get healed, especially around convention time. Everybody has a party. They feel good against each other — with each other.

And then, you know, Ted Cruz or Donald Trump or somebody like that is sitting out there, a very good unifying device for Democrats.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Ruth, what about this exchange between Bill Clinton yesterday and these Black Lives Matter protesters in Philadelphia? They brought up the crime bill, criticizing him, criticizing Secretary Clinton, his wife, for being his wife, for supporting him at the time.

Now she’s saying this is something she would change. But is this something that has traction, do you think?

RUTH MARCUS: Well, there’s a few different risks embedded in there.

One is the sort of continuing role of Bill Clinton, who is simultaneously her most powerful surrogate in chief and also Hillary Clinton’s most dangerous surrogate in chief. So, when he tends to have that finger-jabbing red-in-the-face moment, it can be a dangerous moment for Hillary Clinton.

In terms of Black Lives Matter, again, it sort of depends on the context. Compared to what? The Black Lives Matter protesters have an issue with Bill Clinton and to some extent Hillary Clinton and criminal justice reform and the 1994 crime bill. But guess what? They have the same issue with Bernie Sanders. And guess what? They’re going to have a bigger issue even in this general election with a Ted Cruz or a Donald Trump.

So, it’s an irritant, but it’s an irritant — and I don’t mean to dismiss it, but it’s an issue that Hillary Clinton has tried on the campaign trail to defuse by saying she’s sorry for mentioning super predator and she is sorry, and she regrets a piece of the 1994 crime bill went too far.

So, to me, this is another one of those things that looks like a bigger deal this week than it’s going to look in a few months.

JUDY WOODRUFF: David, what do you think?

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I think there are a couple true facts, most of which were uttered by Bill Clinton.

The one that wasn’t was that the crime bill, the Clinton crime bill, didn’t have a huge measurable effect on crime or incarceration rates particularly. It was — some pieces of legislation don’t have much effect. And that was one of them.

The second thing to be said is that there are such a thing super predators. And Clinton sort of made that point, that some people are really doing harm to their neighborhoods. And the third thing to be said is, we have too much incarceration in this country.

And so any honest appreciation of this issue contains two opposite facts. One is that there is a crime problem, and that has to be cracked down on, and second that there is racism within the enforcement community, and that there is overincarceration.

And I think Clinton — the Clintons sort of stand for those two ends of the spectrum here. And that’s probably what most voters recognize, that we have to be tough on crime, and, as Tony Blair said, tough on racism or tough on the causes of crime.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But to wrap up the Democrats, Ruth, looking like what in New York, which is coming up in another week-and-a-half, the New York primary?

RUTH MARCUS: Well, Bernie Sanders is a natural-born New Yorker, to use a constitutional phrase. Hillary Clinton is an adopted New Yorker.

But she is in a much stronger position. This is a state that she’s won, as she likes to point out, three times, in two Senate races and in a presidential primary previously. And so she is in a quite good position with New York. He’s in a less good position.

I have to say, as for New York, I can’t let the week go without mentioning that what a great week in American politics, when Ted Cruz is going to the matzah factory, to the matzah factory, and Bernie Sanders is going to go to the Vatican next week. So, how great is American politics?

JUDY WOODRUFF: He just revealed that, revealed that today.


JUDY WOODRUFF: And we’re going to get to the Republicans in a minute.

But, David, anything to add on the Democrats in New York? What do you see with the two New Yorkers confronting each other, one adopted and one home-born?

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, if Hillary lost here, it would be — that would be bad.

I think that, if she lost here, if she lost in California, that would be bad. Otherwise, she’s still basically got the math on her side and she’s rolling along.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, David, let’s turn to the Republicans.

Donald Trump took quite a drubbing in Wisconsin this week. Ted Cruz picked up almost all the delegates, I guess, in Wisconsin, and he just keeps picking up a delegate here and a delegate there. How much less inevitable is Donald Trump as the Republican nominee, or is he?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, in the corridors of cognoscenti, if any of us are to be believed, there’s been like a 180 in the conventional wisdom.

A couple weeks ago, it was, Trump is inevitable. He’s rolling through everything. Now it’s, Cruz is inevitable. There’s just a lot of chattering that suddenly it’s going to be Ted Cruz. And the basic argument is that Trump will not get a first-ballot majority at the convention. And the sorts of people who are delegates to a Republican Convention are the sorts of people who like Ted Cruz, and that given the chance on a second or third ballot, they would love to dump Trump and go to Cruz.

Magnifying the fact is events like has been happening or is about to happen tomorrow in Colorado, where the actual delegate selection process is something the Trump campaign is fumbling horrifically, and the Cruz campaign is pretty good at.

And so as we focus on the delegates, and less the raw vote totals, Ted Cruz is looking pretty. So, I don’t know — I think it’s a little overstated, because I think Cruz is about to suffer some really bad defeats. I think he is going to look a lot worse off after the Trump-Cruz civil war goes on for another couple months, but, right now, the glow of inevitability has suddenly shifted over to Ted Cruz.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you see the glow the same way David is describing it?


RUTH MARCUS: I think to use the word inevitable about the Republican race in 2016 is going to be all kind of constantly wrong.

But it’s just undeniable that Donald Trump had a very bad night in Wisconsin and a very bad couple weeks leading up to that. And those both affect this aura of — this shift in the aura of inevitability, because what we have seen with Donald Trump is underperforming, underperforming on an electoral level, right?

He won New Hampshire with 35 percent of the vote, but he lost Wisconsin with 35 percent of the vote. He is not — as the field has winnowed, he is not increasing his vote total. Probably more significant is something that David alluded to, is that he is not doing well in this tension between being possible President Trump and being real Donald Trump.

He’s not doing well alleviating the tension between professionalizing his campaign, which he’s trying to do with bringing in Paul Manafort to do his delegate selection and convention, and ad-libbing his campaign, which is what he is wont to do. And ad-libbing his way through editorial board interviews and different discussions of abortion has not served him well over the last few weeks.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, he’s been off the trail.

We haven’t really seen Donald Trump for day or so, other than that tweet today about tending to his business, David. But is there room for Donald Trump to come back and be this term we keep hearing him say, his wife wants him to be more presidential, and to get his act together when it comes to building up his delegate lead?

DAVID BROOKS: You know what? I think a lot of wives have imagined wishes for their husband’s change in behavior, but they rarely come about, certainly not in the case of Donald Trump.


DAVID BROOKS: You know, I do not think he’s going to be more presidential. He is an aggressor. He’s an attacker.

He’s been doing that since 1990, or since anybody ever heard of Donald Trump. And so he is the same thing. He’s just not that substantive. I think some of the organizational problems with the campaign could be fixed. If you look at what’s happening in Colorado, you know, people show up at the congressional districts’ delegate committee hearings, and the Trump campaign hands them who to vote for.

But the people on the list that they’re handed who to vote for don’t match the people actually on the ballot. That’s just a basic organizational incompetence.

I do think, however, he’s going to have a bunch of rebound and he’s going to look a lot better as we head to the Northeast. Ted Cruz is just not a Northeast/Mid-Atlantic candidate. And so the vibe around Trump, as he starts racking up some big wins, will probably change.

Right now, he’s probably at a little nadir, but it is significant that a big nadir could come in Cleveland. It could all come down to that first or second ballot, or the negotiations up to that first or second ballot. And there is a much higher likelihood than there was a couple weeks ago that he won’t get there.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And, of course, Trump’s people are saying that’s not the case. His delegate man came out today and said, we’re going to have it.

RUTH MARCUS: Right. They have got it locked. It’s inevitable.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But they are also hanging this phrase that Ted Cruz used back in a debate in January critical of New York values around his neck, making it a little bit harder for Mr. Cruz.

RUTH MARCUS: What a surprise that they would dredge up that phrase.

It was — New York was going to be hard, as David mentioned, for Ted Cruz. It’s not his natural territory. The Northeast is not his natural territory. Even if he hadn’t derided New York values, that was going to be difficult for him.

And so that leads to the situation we’re going to see Trump in going forward, which is, things are going to look better. He’s going to rack up these wins. But, at the same time, there is this subterranean war for delegates going on that he needs to really improve his performance on to not have more of this kind of Colorado debacle that we’re seeing.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we’re watching it, both terraneanly and subterraneanly.


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

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Shields and Brooks on Wisconsin’s sagging support for front-runners

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Apr 01, 2016

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JUDY WOODRUFF: And now for more on the run-up to next Tuesday’s primary showdown in Wisconsin, and the rest of this week’s news, we turn to the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That is syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

So, as we just heard in that report from John Yang, some really, I guess, disturbing repercussions from the change in their voter I.D. law.

And you can comment on that, but I also want to ask you about the fact that the polls, David, are showing both front-runners, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, running behind. What would it mean if they were to lose in Wisconsin?

DAVID BROOKS, New York Times Columnist: Well, they’re front-runners with amazing differences or disadvantages.

Usually, at this stage, if you have won as much as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have won, then everyone is rallying around you, you’re relaxed, you’re happy, you’re cruising. That’s not happening this time, and mostly because they have significant weaknesses.

For Hillary Clinton, there’s still the basic trust issue. The party still is a chunk to her left. To me, the big story this week is whether something Donald Trump, something has shifted. Now, of course we have been saying this for eight months: Finally, he’s done it this time.

But I do think — and I still am a little dubious about the people who think that something has shifted. But there’s a more plausible argument that air’s beginning to come out of the balloon for him.

And I think that’s because, given what all that he’s won and given what everybody, including his wife apparently, is telling him, be more presidential, he can’t control himself. He can’t control himself temperamentally with the aggressive attacks on everybody. He can’t control his own ignorance, which causes the abortion statements.

And so he is a perpetual destabilizer just at the moment when, frankly, a lot in the party were ready to submit to him. And he just can’t behave in even a modicum of presidentiality. And that could be leading to at this moment some second thoughts and some genuine weakness. We will know less now than we would know in New York and eventually in California.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Which is a few weeks away.

But, Mark, could this be a different moment in the Democratic — I mean, in Republican primary for Donald Trump?

MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist: Sure, it could, Judy.

I think, if Bernie Sanders wins Wisconsin, it’s fair to say it will have amounted to a vote against the Democratic Party establishment. If Donald Trump loses Wisconsin, it will be a vote for the party establishment, because the party establishment has just united ranks behind whom? Behind Ted Cruz, whom they can’t stand, whom they don’t like.

But he has one compelling virtue. He’s the only person who can beat Donald Trump. He’s the only alternative. So, if, in fact, the result achieves — arrives as you described it, Donald Trump losing, it will have been a rejection of Donald Trump.

There’s no issue that’s driving the Cruz campaign. There’s no — it isn’t like Ted Cruz had a cathartic experience and became this compellingly personable and gregarious candidate and likable. It will be a vote against Donald Trump.

I would pick up on one point especially that David made. Donald Trump is criminally uncurious. I think…


MARK SHIELDS: Uncurious.

I mean, whether it’s saying that the — after the 1991 Persian Gulf War, when the United States and the coalition drove Saddam Hussein’s troops out of Kuwait, that Kuwait didn’t contribute a nickel. Kuwait contributed $16 billion. Maybe they should have contributed more.

But he’s just — it’s not knowing the nuclear triad was air, sea and land. I mean, just — he’s uncurious. And I think it is a direct consequence of great wealth. Having spent my life, early part of my life raising money politically in campaigns, I found myself in the company of very rich people, whose opinions were given apple-polishing approval by the flatterers and sycophants in their court, who went unchallenged in absolutely factually erroneous statements by including me, who was just looking for money from them for my candidates.

And I really think this is it. No one told Donald Trump. Donald Trump never thought about the abortion issue. This is an issue that is such…

JUDY WOODRUFF: This is the interview he did this week on MSNBC with Chris Matthews.

MARK SHIELDS: With Chris Matthews. Chris Matthews, to his credit, did a determined job of interrogation.

This is an issue on which America has been divided for 43 years, I mean, really nationally divided. America is pro-choice and anti-abortion. And he had no idea of the division of the debates or anything of the sort. And I think this is the consequence.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you think that explains…

DAVID BROOKS: I would like to defend the intellectual curiosity of the top 1 percent.


DAVID BROOKS: No, I think it’s beyond — it’s unique to himself.

Most of us, when we appear on television or even go to a job interview, you want to do some background preparation so you won’t make a total fool of yourself, but he feels no compunction. And his knowledge base is minuscule. We have seen it in every single interview. It’s just minuscule.

But there is a consistency to Donald Trump. He can always be counted on to be cruel to those who are weak. And a woman in that situation is weak. And no moral alarm bells went off when he said that, which they would to a normal human being.

And so — but, so far, that bullying manner has been accepted by his voters because they think, well, he’s a bully on our behalf. Whether they will continue to think that, again, I think probably, but there are some smart people I know who are beginning to feel a change in the atmosphere.

JUDY WOODRUFF: What about that? What about that point, Mark? Could this be the turning point? His demise has been predicted repeatedly.


JUDY WOODRUFF: Could this time be different?


MARK SHIELDS: Yes, could it be? It will be a game-changer, Judy, in this sense. It will remove one of the essential building blocks of his stump speech, which is, he spends the first third citing and reciting his wonderful poll numbers.

How’s he going to do that? He loves to talk about himself as the all-time winner and his components as losers. But how’s he going to handle being a loser? I think, in that sense, it’s really going to be very revealing of how he handles it.

And, no, he’s just shown any lack of graciousness or magnanimity. There he is, he’s still attacking Mitt Romney, I mean, sort of abusing people. And, no, it’s just — it’s just…

JUDY WOODRUFF: But he still has more delegates than anybody else.


JUDY WOODRUFF: He has won more votes than any other Republican candidate.

DAVID BROOKS: And so there is a strong likelihood he will be severely damaged and the nominee.


DAVID BROOKS: And so it’s like…

MARK SHIELDS: New York becomes…

DAVID BROOKS: … a bit of the nightmare scenario.

But whether this will hurt him is a question of why people are voting for him. And they’re voting for him because nothing’s changed in Washington and no compromises are being done. There are some sympathetic reasons why people are voting for him. And I have struggled this whole time to understand how much — Trump voters, I want to blame them for this. And in some sense, I don’t blame them at all.

In some sense, a lot of people are disaffected. They have had severe losses in their lives, whether it’s jobs, or their kids are adrift. In some senses, they’re just sick of Washington, nothing happening. And we have had a front-row seat to that for 10 or 15 years. And so they just want a change agent.

And so some of those are symptomatic — or sympathetic. The issue of how he treats the weak or people he perceives as weak, how he takes economic insecurity and translates it into bigotry and misogyny, that’s not to be sympathized with at all. And to some extent, his supporters have to answer for that.


I do — I don’t disagree with that question. I don’t — I always resist blaming the customer. When our party wins, the voters are insightful, patriotic, thoughtful, and caring. When we lose, they’re stupid and loutish and probably racist to boot. Maybe it’s just they’re rejecting us or choosing otherwise.

I do think, Judy, that, in Donald Trump’s favor, we’re moving into an area of the country where Ted Cruz has limited, if next to no appeal. Ted Cruz doesn’t have a natural constituency in New Jersey.


MARK SHIELDS: Or New York or Connecticut or Rhode Island or Pennsylvania — maybe Pennsylvania more.

But, I mean, I just think that, if Trump can come back — but can he show — I mean, his own people, his own family, apparently, is telling him he has to be more presidential. It isn’t more presidential.


JUDY WOODRUFF: He talks about that when he’s interviewed. He says, my wife and my daughter are telling me to be more presidential. But he says, I need to fight back.



Just still not — my first point, this is why Cruz has no support in the Northeast or in California. That’s why I think Kasich should stay in the race. There is a lot of people saying you ought to clear the deck so we can get a one-on-one race, Cruz and Trump. That’s our only chance to stop him.

But in the Northeast, Cruz has no chance of stopping Donald Trump. So, Kasich has some chance to at least drain away some delegates from Trump and prevent him. But, again, looking at the math, unless there is a gigantic change of atmosphere, I think still it’s likely wounded, wounded, wounded, and the numbers on his general election just get worse and worse and worse, but looking like the nominee.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, we have to talk about the Democrats, Mark.

Hillary Clinton showed one of those rare flashes of anger yesterday. She was stopped by a protester after a speech who asked her about the charge by the Bernie Sanders camp that she is taking a lot of money from the fossil fuel industry, and she said they’re lying about it.

MARK SHIELDS: Totally, totally bogus charge against Secretary Clinton.

Open Secrets, that records all contributions and the source thereof and the occupations of the donors, reported 15/100 of 1 percent of Clinton’s campaign funds and PAC funds as well have come from the fossil fuel industry, Bernie Sanders, 4/100 of 1 percent have come from people in the field. So it’s a totally unfair charge.

You can raise questions too close to lobbyists or whatever else. And that was — it was a legitimate, legitimate reaction on her part. I think it has to be said, in Bernie’s favor, if in fact he does win Wisconsin, that will have been six out of seven of the contests he’s won.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Right. He’s just won three caucuses.

MARK SHIELDS: He did. He’s won everything since Arizona.

JUDY WOODRUFF: By the way, he stood by today again when asked about the fossil fuel contribution. He said, we’re telling the truth. It’s right.

MARK SHIELDS: No, it’s inaccurate and unfair. It really is.

And I’m surprised that the Sanders campaign, it’s — because they haven’t done this in the past.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But, David, on paper, Hillary Clinton is still the front-runner, but Bernie Sanders raised, what, $45 million in the last month, in March?

DAVID BROOKS: Yes. That’s right.

JUDY WOODRUFF: He continues to build delegates. He may win Wisconsin. What does this…


MARK SHIELDS: Competitive in New York.

JUDY WOODRUFF: What is this headed for?

DAVID BROOKS: It’s headed for New York. She had a huge lead in New York a couple of weeks ago, which has now dwindled. It’s still in the double digits, so it’s a significant lead. But she loses the state where she was a senator, that would be — that, I think, would change everyone’s eyes.

Up until that point, I don’t think it does. Sanders, we know he has a strong constituency. It’s going to show up at caucuses. Wisconsin has a strong progressive tradition going back 100 years. It’s his kind of place. And so I don’t think winning Wisconsin necessarily turns him into a more credible candidate.

MARK SHIELDS: I disagree.

He was 50 points behind in Wisconsin a year ago to Secretary Clinton. I mean, this is a victory. Everybody’s on the ballot in Wisconsin. There is no Democratic ballot, Republican ballot. You can go in and vote for Ted Cruz, or vote for Bernie Sanders, whoever. It’s a significant, significant victory. And New York…

JUDY WOODRUFF: If he wins, yes.

MARK SHIELDS: If he does win. If he does win. Make no mistake about it.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, 30 seconds, Hillary Clinton keeps at it and just keeps on letting him get under her skin? What happens between them?

DAVID BROOKS: What is her message? What is her message?

What does she — she’s a paint-by-numbers Democratic candidate with the same policy planks as every other Democratic candidate. She’s shown no creativity, no way to fill the void to counter what he offers.

MARK SHIELDS: Why do you want to be president of the United States, other than it’s something on your resume and I’m prepared for it, and this is it? What is the vision?

Bernie Sanders, to his credit, is the one candidate in the race with a message. And it’s a message that’s energized an awful lot of people.

JUDY WOODRUFF: To be continued.

Mark Shields, David Brooks, thank you. Have a great weekend.

DAVID BROOKS: Thank you.

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Shields and Brooks on Trump-Cruz wife feud, ISIS terror in Brussels

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Mar 25, 2016

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JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, for another look at the war against ISIS and the battles on the presidential campaign trail, the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

Gentlemen, welcome to you both.

So, let’s pick up from where we were in that conversation we just heard.

Mark, they did — you did have this successful capture, killing of this top ISIS leader and another one recently on the battlefield, but in the wake of these Brussels attacks, growing chorus of criticism that the Obama administration is not doing enough to go after ISIS, that you’re still seeing horrible attacks like the ones in Belgium.

Where do you — how do you assess the administration?

MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist: Well, the administration has taken on ISIS, its caliphate, that is, in Syria and Iraq, and I think it’s fair to say that they’re in retreat.

The problem is Europe. I mean, that’s a problem. It’s a soft target. It’s free and easy access. And these are homegrown terrorists here. And what the United States can do is to encourage and urge and push for the sharing of information.

But there is a whole inequality of quality of intelligence in those countries. There is an unwillingness, understandably. There’s language difficulties, and also there is a tradition. I mean, this is a continent that has lived under both Nazism and communism, and the willingness to let authorities have access to the metadata that we have done in this country with only limited resistance is a lot stronger there.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Only so much the U.S. can do, David?

DAVID BROOKS, New York Times Columnist: Well, I think there are two issues here.

First, in Syria, I think we bear a large responsibility. I think we withdrew from Iraq too quickly and it created this tremendous vacancy there that ISIS filled. I think we were too slow to recognize what was going on in Syria in the civil war, refused to arm people, refused to take down Assad, ignored the red line and then created a vacuum which ISIS then filled there.

And so that’s partly on us. The European thing — I think that has nothing to do with what happened in Brussels. The European thing, as Mark said, it’s a matter of ideas and alienated cultures. I lived in Brussels for five years. This was back in the ’90s.

If you went to those neighborhoods which are a lot of Muslim people live there, they were isolated, they were different. It was like leaving Brussels and entering a different country, and there was just little integration, social, cultural, economic, between those areas and the rest of the country and the rest of the city.

And that sort of thing just gestated, gestated, gestated. And then when the radical ideology found — they found a lot of alienated people, and they only have to tap a few young men to create something like this.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Some of the criticism, Mark, is that the administration has just not put enough emphasis on this. Yes, the president talks about it and, yes, there have been a number of limited troops, special operations troops, and there may be more going over, but it doesn’t seem to be a priority, enough of a priority for this president.

MARK SHIELDS: Well, I think the president can be accused legitimately of not having recognized the threat at the outset. And I think history will not be kind to the drawing of the red line in Syria, and for the United States.

But, A, the willingness of the United States for further action and deployment of military, even an all-volunteer military, is severely limited, Judy. And let’s be very frank. The organizing principle of this was the United States’ invasion of Iraq and the United States’ occupation of Iraq. That remains to this moment the — whether we left early, should still be there, the fact that we went in, invaded and occupied this country, and it was a tragedy and a disaster, and we have reaped that whirlwind and it remains with us.

JUDY WOODRUFF: David, even criticism this week of the optics. The president was in Cuba for this historic visit and there were some voices, well, he shouldn’t have gone to the baseball game, he shouldn’t have gone on to Argentina, how much does that matter?

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I think those criticisms are unfounded.

The president — we have a big government. We can do a lot of things at once. If the president had skipped the baseball game and gone home, what more could he have done? He has a telephone. He can make decisions. He can meetings.

It’s my basic principle that’s just political point-scoring. It’s my most fundamental basic principle. There’s never a good reason to miss a baseball game. And so his decision to do that, I fully support that.


JUDY WOODRUFF: And this was a big one.

But, Mark…

MARK SHIELDS: I disagree. I do think…


MARK SHIELDS: I think optics do matter.

I think the president could — the baseball game was probably the most important event emotionally and nationally during his trip to Cuba. I don’t think he had to be there for the wave, when the crowd stands up for that. I don’t think it’s necessary for him to wear sunglasses and so — he could have gone to the game and the rest.

Optics, a terrible word, do matter, and if you have any doubts about that, virtually every paper in the country, certainly The Wall Street Journal among them, featured the master as servant this week. On Holy Thursday, there was Pope Francis kissing and washing the feet of a refugee, a penniless refugee. That is a visual.

I agree with David the president can do anything anywhere he is, but if you were sitting in Brussels and worried about your family or your relatives or your neighborhood, the picture of him kind of grinning at the game, I think, was probably not helpful.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And it was striking among some of the reaction among the Republican candidates for president.

David, you had Ted Cruz saying, what we need to do is send more security into patrolling basically neighborhoods where Muslim Americans live.

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I have spent the last week so repulsed by Donald Trump, I had forgotten how ugly Ted Cruz could be, but he reminded us this week.


DAVID BROOKS: As I said and as everyone says, the reason we have terrorism is not because the Prophet Mohammed came down and not because there is a religion called Islam.

MARK SHIELDS: That’s right.

DAVID BROOKS: The reason we have terror is that young men are alienated and feel they can wage war and a just war against societies that are racist and xenophobic and crushing toward them.

And if you want to spread the message, a good way would be to have extra police operations directed at Muslim neighborhoods. And so Ted Cruz’s idea is probably the worst idea, well, only of the day, because we have a lot in this campaign, truly terrible idea, only saved by the fact it’s almost certain he doesn’t actually believe it. He just wants to sound like Donald Trump.

MARK SHIELDS: I think David put his finger on it.

I would say this. It’s ironic, Judy, that the Republican Party, to avoid Donald Trump, is rallying reluctantly, against their own will, around Ted Cruz. He reminded them and everybody else why they didn’t like him in the first place. This is an awful, awful position.

In fact, when the Anti-Defamation League comes out and compares it to the imprisonment and incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II, when police Commissioner Bill Bratton in New York says he has no idea what he’s talking about, there are a thousand Muslim Americans, many of them combat veterans, on the New York police force. It’s just — it was — it’s beyond stupid.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, that occupied a lot of the week, but something else that occupied a fair amount of time, at least became a war of words between the two leading Republican candidates, had to do with women.

And we’re going to take a sidebar look at that and then come back and talk to both of you.

Ted Cruz blasted his main rival, Donald Trump, today in Wisconsin.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), Republican Presidential Candidate: Years from now, when my daughters Google this, they will read these lies.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Cruz accused Trump of being behind tabloid accusations of extramarital affairs. It was the latest in the escalating war of words over women this week between the two candidates.

It all began with this ad, a photo of Melania Trump, a former model, posing for “British GQ” 16 years ago posted on Facebook by an anti-Trump super PAC ahead of the Utah primary caucuses Tuesday. Within hours, Donald Trump tweeted a response, wrongly attributing the ad directly to Cruz’s campaign, and warning him to — quote — “be careful.”

DONALD TRUMP (R), Republican Presidential Candidate: Ted Cruz knowingly, in my opinion, had this article sent all over Utah, had the picture saying, is this want you want? Essentially, is this what you want for a first lady? First of all, she would be a great first lady.

JUDY WOODRUFF: A fury in the Twitterverse ensued, as Cruz hit back, defending his wife, Heidi, and calling Trump a coward.

A day later, Trump ratcheted up the war of the wives, when he retweeted an unflattering image of Mrs. Cruz. Polls show Trump’s standing with women voters has worsened in recent months. According to the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll, 64 percent of women say they have a strongly unfavorable reaction to him. That’s 18 points higher than it was in August.

So what do we say about this? Did we ever think this was going to be the lead story out of a campaign for president of the United States?

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, that’s the first thing I was going to say. Are we really here? Is this really happening? Is this America? Are we a great country talking about trying to straddle the world and create opportunity in this country?

It’s just mind-boggling. And we have sort of become acculturated, because this campaign has been so ugly. We have become acculturated to sleaze and unhappiness that you just want to shower from every 15 minutes.

The Trump comparison of the looks of the wives, he does have, over the course of his life, a consistent misogynistic view of women as arm candy, as pieces of meat. It’s a consistent attitude toward women which is the stuff of a diseased adolescent.

And so we have seen a bit of that show up again. But if you go back over his past, calling into radio shows bragging about his affairs, talking about his sex life in public, he is childish in his immaturity. And his — even his misogyny is a childish misogyny.

And that’s why I do not think Republicans, standard Republicans, can say, yes, I’m going to vote for this guy because he’s our nominee. He’s of a different order than your normal candidate. And this whole week is just another reminder of that.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Could this finally be something, Mark, that really does hurt Donald Trump?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, we have predicted nine of his last eight stumbles, and they have yet to all materialize.

Judy, whoever did that political action committee ad has to be thrilled, because it elicited from Donald Trump the worst of his personality, the bullying, the misogyny, as David has said, brought it out.

But I think it’s more than childish and juvenile and adolescent. There is something creepy about this, his attitude toward women. Take Megyn Kelly of FOX News, who he just has an absolute obsession about, and he’s constantly writing about, you know, how awful she is and no talent and this and that. It’s an obsession.

And I don’t know if he’s just never had women — strong, independent women in his life who have spoken to him. It doesn’t seem that way. His daughter…

JUDY WOODRUFF: She has asked him tough questions in that debate.

MARK SHIELDS: She just asked him tough questions and was totally fair, by everybody else’s standards.

But there is something really creepy about this that’s beyond locker room. It’s almost like a stalker, and I just — I thought this was — it actually did the impossible. It made Ted Cruz look like an honorable, tough guy on the right side of an issue.

And, you know, I just — I just marvel at it. And I don’t know at what point it becomes, you know — politically, he’s still leading. And I would have to say he’s the overwhelming favorite for the Republican nomination.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And what was striking is that this ad, David, which presumably had very limited circulation, might have gone almost unnoticed if it hadn’t have been for what he — how he reacted to it.

DAVID BROOKS: The odd thing about his whole career and his whole language, his whole world view is there is no room for love in it.

You get a sense of a man who received no love, can give no love, so his relationship with women, it has no love in it. It’s trophy. And his relationship toward the world is one of competition and beating, and as if he’s going to win by competition what other people get by love.

And so you really are seeing someone who just has an odd psychology unleavened by kindness and charity, but where it’s all winners and losers, beating and being beat. And that’s part of the authoritarian personality, but it comes out in his attitude towards women.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And just 10 seconds.

MARK SHIELDS: Yes, I would say, in his defense, which I didn’t think I would use that phrase, his relationship with his children seems quite good, with his daughter and with his sons. And they seem like — they don’t seem like malevolent people at all. They seem like they’re very benevolent people.


JUDY WOODRUFF: Makes you wonder what their reaction is to all of this.


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

MARK SHIELDS: Thank you.

DAVID BROOKS: Thank you.

The post Shields and Brooks on Trump-Cruz wife feud, ISIS terror in Brussels appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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