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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 Trump’s ‘solitariness’ and Clinton’s fight for millennials

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Sep 30, 2016


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DAVID BROOKS: If the vote can go any lower.

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

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

MARK SHIELDS: A 70-year-old grandfather.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Does that matter to that community there?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

The post Shields and Brooks on Trump’s ‘solitariness’ and Clinton’s fight for millennials appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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Predictions for the first debate in an unpredictable election year

Author: PBS NewsHour
Mon, Sep 26, 2016


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

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

I want to start with you Mark Shields.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GWEN IFILL: I see, string it all together.

AMY WALTER: String it all together.

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


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

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

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


DAVID BROOKS: Excellent question.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


MARK SHIELDS: That is what they will say.

GWEN IFILL: We will say it.

AMY WALTER: They’re already saying it.

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

The post Predictions for the first debate in an unpredictable election year appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Sep 23, 2016

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

Welcome, gentlemen.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

And so these situations are harrowing on all sides.


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

JUDY WOODRUFF: They put the video out almost immediately.

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: You agree it helps him?

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

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

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: Then some voting rights controversies.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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



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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, the coolness standard.

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: How does she do that?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MARK SHIELDS: With the sound…



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

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

We can’t wait to see you Monday night.

MARK SHIELDS: Thank you, Judy.

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

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

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Sep 16, 2016


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

Welcome back, gentlemen.

MARK SHIELDS: Thank you, Judy.

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

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

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

MARK SHIELDS: I’m not absolutely sure.

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

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

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

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

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


DAVID BROOKS: Well, I agree.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

JUDY WOODRUFF: Which raises some questions.

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

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

MARK SHIELDS: Sure. Sure it is.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

DAVID BROOKS: Right, that was damaging, too.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DAVID BROOKS: Yes. The numbers were fantastic.

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

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


JUDY WOODRUFF: It’s more newsworthy. Yes.

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

MARK SHIELDS: That’s a good point.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Sep 09, 2016


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

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

Let’s talk about the presidential campaign.

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

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


DAVID BROOKS: I thought they both did poorly.

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

DAVID BROOKS: I don’t know.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MARK SHIELDS: No, Secretary Clinton has, Judy.

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

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

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

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

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

She left an important mark, didn’t she?


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

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

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark Shields, thank you very much.

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

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Shields and Brooks on immigration and whether Clinton should lay low

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Sep 02, 2016


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



HARI SREENIVASAN: Go ahead, David.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MARK SHIELDS: I would agree.

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

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

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

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

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

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Aug 26, 2016


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


DAVID BROOKS: Do we not bleed?


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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MARK SHIELDS: That’s right.

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

MARK SHIELDS: It’s not fair. Yes.

DAVID BROOKS: It’s unfair.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To me, that’s what this…

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

MARK SHIELDS: Thank you.

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

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Aug 19, 2016


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

We welcome you.


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

MARK SHIELDS: Good to be here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: This is Manafort.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: Conway, the pollster.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: What about that, Jennifer?

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

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: Which is what the governor said.


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


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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: In a few days.

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

MARK SHIELDS: No, that’s right.

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


MARK SHIELDS: Thank you, Judy.


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

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

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Aug 12, 2016


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


Mark Shields is away this week.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: The convention.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: There is still a constituency out there.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They got to figure out what to do with this.

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

Is there something wrong with that, David?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DAVID BROOKS: Not from foreign lobbyists.

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

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

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

DAVID BROOKS: Well, there certainly are bright lines.

I was depressed by both of them.


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

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: How did you read all that?

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

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

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

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

E.J. DIONNE: I’m sorry?

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

E.J. DIONNE: Thank you.

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

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Brooks and Marcus on polls this week catching up with reality

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Aug 05, 2016


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

Mark Shields is away.

Hello to both of you.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: In the Senate and the House.

RUTH MARCUS: In the Senate and the House.

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

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

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

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

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

And that does certainly link…

JUDY WOODRUFF: Ruth, how do you see this?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


JUDY WOODRUFF: Thirty seconds, Ruth.

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

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

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

RUTH MARCUS: There most certainly will.


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

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

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Jul 29, 2016


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: Ninety-nine percent of the time.

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

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

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

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

DAVID BROOKS: I think to some degree.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

MARK SHIELDS: That’s right.

DAVID BROOKS: And nothing bad happened.

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

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

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

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: Victimized? Really?

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

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: But does that help Hillary Clinton?


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

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

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, on down, for sure.


JUDY WOODRUFF: You guys are right up there.

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


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

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

I mean, but Donald Trump is relating…


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

MARK SHIELDS: That’s right.

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

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

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



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


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

Thank you very much.

MARK SHIELDS: Thank you.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And we will see you next Friday.

MARK SHIELDS: Thanks very much.

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

Author: PBS NewsHour
Mon, Jul 25, 2016


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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


GWEN IFILL: With the isms.

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

Can he be expected to be that bridge, Amy?

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Jul 22, 2016


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

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

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


JUDY WOODRUFF: You’re right.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MARK SHIELDS: Absolutely, Judy.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

What does this say to us about Donald Trump?

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

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

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

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark, what about that?

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

MARK SHIELDS: Yes. Yes, he does.

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: About the condition…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


MARK SHIELDS: And Donald Trump.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Donald Trump agrees with him.

MARK SHIELDS: That’s right. Right.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


JUDY WOODRUFF: Bashing convention.


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

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The nomination night message Trump is aiming to hit home

Author: PBS NewsHour
Thu, Jul 21, 2016


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

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

David Brooks, Mike Pence and Donald Trump?

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GWEN IFILL: What do you mean?

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

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

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

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

Donald Trump is a fear-oriented, backward-looking, closed-in politician.

GWEN IFILL: Let’s talk about a lot of other things going on tonight, because, tonight, we’re going to hear from Donald Trump, the big nomination acceptance speech.

And all day long, it’s been kind of overshadowed by what Ted Cruz did last night. They’re not talking about Mike Pence. They’re not talking about even what Donald Trump is expected to do. They’re talking about the fact that Ted Cruz kind of poked the candidate in the eye.


AMY WALTER: I have never been at a convection where as much time and energy was expended on what’s going to happen in the next election than what’s going to happen in this one.

And while Ted Cruz did it most aggressively by basically coming out to somebody’s party and, you know, just spilling the drinks everywhere, every other candidate has also gone up there and done a much more subtle way of saying, you know what, I have a different vision of where our country is going and a different vision for where the party needs to go than Donald Trump does. I’m going to stand up here and say that he’s the nominee.

That doesn’t mean they’re all lining up behind him. This last day, though, this is Donald Trump’s day. He’s not going to rescue this convention. It’s still going down in history as being unconventional and disruptive.

But he has a chance here to make a good impression. And I think the good news for him is that the bar is much lower than it was before we started this.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark Shields, what is the burden for Donald Trump tonight? What does he need to do?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, oh, sure.

Well, the burden — just one quick thing on Ted Cruz, and that is, he had a chance, like Ronald Reagan did in 1976 in Kansas City, to make the case for electing — or, you know, really separating himself as a distinct political figure. He chose not to.

And as Jeb Bush and John Kasich chose not to endorse and honor their pledge to endorse, they stayed away. He came to the room to do it, high-risk politics for him.

As far as our nominee, Donald Trump, tonight, Judy, he’s got to excite his base. He’s got to unite the country. It’s a mood for change in the country. But the problem with Donald Trump is that the change he represents, to a majority of Americans right now, is not reassuring. It’s unreassuring.

And I think that’s his job tonight, and especially to lay out a jobs program.

JUDY WOODRUFF: David Brooks?

DAVID BROOKS: First, on Cruz, if I can get my bite in, I start with the proposition that Trump is not a normal politician.

He doesn’t cross the threshold, and this is going to end very badly for him, either in November or beyond. And if you start with that premise, then what Ted Cruz did, while nakedly ambitious, was courageous and probably the right thing to do. If your party is sliding into some sort of chaotic land of hollowed out, then if you stand before history and yell stop, you will be rewarded in years and years to come, in the way that none of the others will be.

As far as Trump, he has picked law and order as his theme. And so he has got to persuade Americans that their fundamental problem is violence, and that crime and terrorism are the first things on their agendas affecting their lives, and, therefore, they need a guy like him. I’m not sure that’s true, but I think that’s more less the task he has assigned himself.

GWEN IFILL: David Brooks, Mark Shields, Amy Walter, thank all you very much.

Well, we have a lot more to talk about, if you need more, which I’m sure you do. Tune in later tonight, beginning at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time, for our special NPR/”PBS NewsHour” coverage of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

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Will Mike Pence help change the tone of the RNC?

Author: PBS NewsHour
Wed, Jul 20, 2016


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JUDY WOODRUFF: And with that report, we turn to syndicated columnist Mark Shields, New York Times columnist David Brooks, and Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report, who are also joining us around this table each night for our live convention coverage.

Welcome to all three of you. We love spending all this time with you.

Mark, is the Donald Trump we’re seeing in this reports that Gwen prepared, is that the Trump coming through at this convention?

MARK SHIELDS: Unfortunately, yes.

It was a terrific piece of reporting, but I think it is coming through, Donald Trump’s ego, Donald Trump’s vanity. It’s — I don’t think it’s necessarily flattering to him, but I think it is coming through.


DAVID BROOKS: I don’t think so. I think there is a patina of normalcy in this convention.

Like, we sit in the booth like we always do every four years. We get french fries or whatever — I get at least every four years.


DAVID BROOKS: And so it seems like, oh, we’re at another convention.

But this is not another convention. This is a party that used to believe in free trade, immigration, capitalism, compassionate conservatism, and that party is gone, at least on the podium. And the Republican Party is nominating a guy without any known principles, without any known experience, without any known ethical standards.

It’s bizarre. I mean, I’m getting more cosmically depressed the more I think — I step back from the normal patina of life here and think about what’s actually happening.

GWEN IFILL: And as Amy wrote in her column for The Cook Political Report today, the same cheesy music from the band.

AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: It is the same cheesy music.

GWEN IFILL: That’s my — that’s Amy’s opinion, not mine.


JUDY WOODRUFF: They’re going to be insulted by this.


GWEN IFILL: How different is this convention from — I mean, four years ago, we were all here, and there was Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, four years before that, John McCain and Sarah Palin. And this in some ways is exactly the same as we have always seen, and in some ways it’s so different.

AMY WALTER: And yet they feel very different.

GWEN IFILL: The party is so different.

AMY WALTER: The party is so different, in part because I don’t think there is a party.

This is Trump’s convention, and he has put his stamp all over it, and we are going to once again see him tonight and of course his big speech on Thursday. But this party is not Trump’s. And you could feel that in the hall. We talked a lot about the disunity among many members of the delegation, the fact that the hall is not filled, the fact that speaker after speaker has come up and given their version of what they see as the Republican Party.

It’s not necessarily the version that Donald Trump has. To have Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, not mention any — the most important parts of the Donald Trump messaging, the wall, immigration, trade, I think, was quite important and quite significant.

I will be very curious to see what Senator Ted Cruz says tonight. He is somebody who has yet endorse Donald Trump. And there is no indication that he is going to do that tonight. Instead, he’s going to put out his vision of the Republican Party.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And yet, Mark, a lot of these delegates really like Donald Trump and think he’s just what their party needs, what the country needs.

MARK SHIELDS: They do. I don’t think there is any question. A very healthy majority of them do.

I just have one point that I want to make about this election, this campaign, this convention. And it reminds me — just before the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the civil war — the end of the Cold War, Georgy Arbatov was a Soviet expert on the United States.

And he made a brilliant prediction. He said to the United States, we’re going to do a terrible thing to you. We’re going to deprive you of an enemy. And the organizing principle of the United States defensive foreign policy had been opposition to the Soviet Union. There is no more Soviet Union.

If you take Hillary Clinton out, there is no organizing principle for this convention. Last night, Mitch McConnell spoke, Republican leader of the Senate; 24 times, he mentioned Hillary Clinton. Five times, he mentioned Donald Trump. Twice as often, Hillary Clinton has been mentioned as has Donald Trump.

And I think it’s true in this campaign. If Hillary Clinton disappeared tomorrow and Donald Trump was a referendum up or down, he would be in trouble. And I think the same thing is true for the Democrats.

GWEN IFILL: So, Mike Pence steps up to the podium tonight. This is his big moment, even though a lot of people feel they know him. Does that make a difference? Does that begin to orient this party or orient this convention, David Brooks, or is it just going to be what it’s going to be?

DAVID BROOKS: I doubt it will make a difference. The Trump persona is sort of dominating this atmosphere.

But at least we might get an emotional break. I’m sort of struck about the emotional tone of the convention, which the first night was about loss. The second night, let’s face it, it was sort of about hatred. It’s hard to say you want to lock up Hillary Clinton without actually hating her. And it’s hard to imagine a party that is not corrupted by hatred.

And, also, it’s funny you mention Arbatov. We — they took away the Soviet Union as an enemy. We have got an ally apparently in Vladimir Putin, who we have now adjusted the platform to soften the Republican Party’s view of Vladimir Putin, so we have got sort of a soft-core Putinism going on here.

But Pence is a nice guy, a warm guy, a genial guy. And that’s not exactly the tone we have been hearing. So, I’m hoping…

GWEN IFILL: Do you think he will talk about the wall?

DAVID BROOKS: I would be — I will jump out of the…



GWEN IFILL: No. Don’t do that.


DAVID BROOKS: He will not talk about the — I would be very surprised.

AMY WALTER: What I’m really surprised that we haven’t heard about — and Donald Trump is the one that I expect to make this message the most strongly — is that all this establishment — we have been talking about disunity, disunity this whole time, but Donald Trump won this nomination.

And Donald Trump is getting anywhere from 40 to 45 percent of the vote right now. He is close to Hillary Clinton, either tied or a couple of points behind. And his message is resonating with a good group, a good, significant chunk of voters.

That’s the message that’s coming across here that’s not coming across from the establishment, this idea that they have been left behind, that the establishment still isn’t putting policies forward that address economic stagnation, the feeling they have of this loss.

And until that happens, which I think needs to happen tonight, then you know, we’re going to get that change.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark, do you agree? That’s what — what do they need to do tonight and tomorrow night to fix or to fill out what the message has been so far?

MARK SHIELDS: To be the party of open arms, rather than clenched fists.

And I think Mike Pence is a step in the right direction that way. It’s interesting. Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, others have used him as a hook for sort of speaking positively about the Trump candidacy. Mike Pence gives a legitimacy…

GWEN IFILL: Wasn’t that the plan for Trump all along?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, I don’t know.

Mike Pence is still in small print on the sign. And he had barely a walk-on cameo apart in his own announcement last Saturday. So, tonight, this is really the first chance to see and see what his role might be in this campaign.

GWEN IFILL: I saw Donald Trump Jr. today at an event in which he basically said that Mike Pence was a calming influence, and they couldn’t pick any of the other finalists because you didn’t need two Donald Trumps being another Donald Trump.

MARK SHIELDS: That’s right.


GWEN IFILL: So they seem to recognize on some point the need for a calming influence, David.

DAVID BROOKS: And someone who seems a little genial and will reassure orthodox conservatives.

There really are, I think — OK, I’m quoting Amy’s newsletter today. But there are several — I’m struck by how many different parties there are here. There is a Kasich party. There is a Cruz party. There is sort of a Trump thing.

And then there is an — even an old-guard George H.W. Bush-Bob Dole party lurking here in the corners.


DAVID BROOKS: And so Pence is not offensive to any of those parts of the parties, whereas Trump is alien.

GWEN IFILL: I have to say it’s good to hear that you are reading each other’s…



GWEN IFILL: … and quoting each other, and not just…


JUDY WOODRUFF: But they always do, don’t they?

GWEN IFILL: They do.

Thank you all very much, Amy Walter, ark Shields, David Brooks. We’re going to see you all later tonight.

And you can stay with us as well tonight, beginning at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time, for our special NPR/”PBS NewsHour” coverage of the Republican presidential convention in Cleveland.

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