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

Shields and Brooks - NewsHour with Jim Lehrer - PBS Podcast

by Jim Lehrer

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


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

Author: PBS NewsHour
Mon, Jul 25, 2016


polimon

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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?

DAVID BROOKS: Yes.

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…

(CROSSTALK)

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

GWEN IFILL: Yes.

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.

(LAUGHTER)

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.

GWEN IFILL: Right.

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.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark?

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.

JUDY WOODRUFF: All right.

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.

The post The one word Democrats hoped to avoid at convention — ‘emails’ — is back appeared first on PBS NewsHour.



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

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Jul 22, 2016


shieldsbrooks

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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.

(LAUGHTER)

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?

MARK SHIELDS: I do.

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?

DAVID BROOKS: Yes.

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.

(CROSSTALK)

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…

(CROSSTALK)

JUDY WOODRUFF: Bashing convention.

MARK SHIELDS: Yes.

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

The post Shields and Brooks on the Hillary Clinton veepstakes, the latest Trump-Cruz dustup appeared first on PBS NewsHour.



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The nomination night message Trump is aiming to hit home

Author: PBS NewsHour
Thu, Jul 21, 2016


sandbanda

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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.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Amy?

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.

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.

The post The nomination night message Trump is aiming to hit home appeared first on PBS NewsHour.



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Will Mike Pence help change the tone of the RNC?

Author: PBS NewsHour
Wed, Jul 20, 2016


poli

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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.

JUDY WOODRUFF: David?

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.

(LAUGHTER)

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.

(LAUGHTER)

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

(LAUGHTER)

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…

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

GWEN IFILL: No. Don’t do that.

(CROSSTALK)

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.

(LAUGHTER)

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.

GWEN IFILL: Right.

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…

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

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

(CROSSTALK)

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

GWEN IFILL: They do.

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

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

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At a disunited Republican convention, the one thing that unifies

Author: PBS NewsHour
Tue, Jul 19, 2016


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

Our Lisa Desjardins is down there.

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

LISA DESJARDINS: That’s right.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is this another one, Amy?

AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: Absolutely.

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark, how do you see this?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DAVID BROOKS: To unify the party?

JUDY WOODRUFF: To unify the party.

DAVID BROOKS: I don’t think so.

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: Why were his credentials taken away?

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

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

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

(LAUGHTER)

DAVID BROOKS: Yes.

GWEN IFILL: We will watching you very carefully.

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

MARK SHIELDS: Yes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GWEN IFILL: Who is the chairman of the convention.

AMY WALTER: Who is the chairman of the convention.

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

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

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

AMY WALTER: Right.

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

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

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

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

(CROSSTALK)

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

But…

GWEN IFILL: I want to see that again.

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

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

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

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

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The latest from Cleveland as GOP convention start nears

Author: PBS NewsHour
Sun, Jul 17, 2016


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

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

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Jul 15, 2016


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: You said an unsuccessful…

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: Makes sense?

(LAUGHTER)

JUDY WOODRUFF: We will let you explore that.

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: Makes sense?

(CROSSTALK)

MARK SHIELDS: I think special…

(CROSSTALK)

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, all right.

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

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

MARK SHIELDS: That’s right. It was.

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

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

(LAUGHTER)

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

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

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

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

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

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

(CROSSTALK)

DAVID BROOKS: … something, compared to Donald Trump.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Sweet? Sweet?

MARK SHIELDS: Yes.

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

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

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

What do you make of this whole process?

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

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

MARK SHIELDS: That’s right.

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

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

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

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

MARK SHIELDS: Historical and traditionally, yes.

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

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

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

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

DAVID BROOKS: Yes.

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

(LAUGHTER)

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

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

MARK SHIELDS: That’s exactly right.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Yes.

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

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

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: But does it mean that…

MARK SHIELDS: As far as our politics are concerned?

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

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

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: Yes.

DAVID BROOKS: It was a very depressing week.

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

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

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

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

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

MARK SHIELDS: No, you’re right, Judy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(CROSSTALK)

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

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

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

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

(CROSSTALK)

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: What do you think?

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: Inequity.

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

MARK SHIELDS: Yes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: Quick word?

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: We focus on the bad things.

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

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

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

MARK SHIELDS: Thank you. Look forward to it.

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

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Jul 08, 2016


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

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

What do you make of all this, David?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And it’s a dreary political landscape right now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

MARK SHIELDS: We have become incredibly polarized, Judy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

DAVID BROOKS: Not at all.

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

(LAUGHTER)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: Where do you come down on this?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DAVID BROOKS: I think so.

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

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

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

Mark Shields, David Brooks, thank you both.

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

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Jul 01, 2016


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

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

And welcome to you both.

MARK SHIELDS: Judy.

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

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

How much damage to Hillary Clinton from this?

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

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: The attorney general.

MARK SHIELDS: Yes.

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

MARK SHIELDS: Well, it will be determined.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, the other — go ahead.

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

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

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

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

RAMESH PONNURU: That’s right.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: It’s a wash?

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: Yes.

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

MARK SHIELDS: Right.

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

MARK SHIELDS: Yes.

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

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: It was actually a couple of speeches.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: Heading toward…

(CROSSTALK)

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

MARK SHIELDS: Yes.

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

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

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you see the effect…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mark Shields, Ramesh Ponnuru, thank you very much.

RAMESH PONNURU: You’re welcome.

 

 

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Shields and Brooks on voter disenchantment across the globe

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Jun 24, 2016


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

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

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

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

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

Welcome to you both.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.

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

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

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

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

MARK SHIELDS: Yes.

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

(CROSSTALK)

JUDY WOODRUFF: You mean the people who voted?

MARK SHIELDS: The people who are supporting Donald Trump.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Donald Trump.

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

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

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

It was a remarkable epic and era in world history.

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

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

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

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

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

If you ask, is the country — do they mind that they’re around people who don’t speak English well, three-quarters mind. And so there is just an — not an intolerance, but a sense that the country is getting too diverse, and that somehow they’re the losers in this process, or the country as a whole is a loser in the process, it’s a sinking ship.

And so that is, I think, at the central core of what Trump is tapping into.

MARK SHIELDS: When you’re talking about people who are struggling to get by economically, these are the ones who are competing with people who come to this country who are themselves trying to aspire to a better life.

And so they are competing, really, for the same economic positions, whether it’s a driver or whether it’s in the service industry. And so, understandably, they see them as a threat economically and culturally, as David described.

But, at the same time, we stand alone as a country of assimilation, a country of immigrants. I mean, we are not the United Kingdom. I mean, if this — if Brexit or the equivalent thereof were put to the United States, we’re talking about a third of the electorate who are nonwhite.

DAVID BROOKS: The irony, though, is that the U.K. and U.S. are probably the two best — two of the best countries in the world…

MARK SHIELDS: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

DAVID BROOKS: … pretty cosmopolitan ways.

And the one amendment I would make is, Trump voters in the primaries, the average income was $74,000, which is well above the median in this country. So, they tend to be affluent people from poor places. And so it’s a sense of collective loss, as much as personal loss, that is driving a lot of those voters.

JUDY WOODRUFF: I want to — while we’re touching on immigration, two other things I want to ask you about, Mark.

Mark, one is the Supreme Court decision this week effectively to — what means the president’s effort to at least provide some protection for those undocumented immigrants who are in this country, maybe the parents or the children of others who are here legally, the court said that is going to go back to a lower court. We will see what happens.

But it’s a big setback for the president. What does it say going forward?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, it’s a setback to his legacy.

It says that, 2013, 68 United States senators supported — voted for a solution to this problem, to let people come out of the shadows, the parents, the relatives of children who were American citizens, that they wouldn’t be worried about immigration authorities showing up and knocking on their door. And it means that his legacy is depleted, that you can only do so much by executive order, that we never got a vote in the House of Representatives.

The House of Representatives never voted on the immigration act in 2013.

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, substantively, I think it’s a setback, because so many people’s lives are now made more precarious.

As a matter of process — and process matters when we think about the Constitution — I’m glad the court did what it did. You can’t — when you change the status of five million people, say, that’s a big thing. And that, to me, is something that should be done by law, through Congress, through the executive action, through — I mean, through executive signing the bill.

It should be done in the normal constitutional process. For one man, one president to make a change in American life that big through executive action seems to be overreaching the powers of the presidency.

JUDY WOODRUFF: OK, and the a little over a minute left.

I want to ask you both about this pretty unprecedented move, Mark, in the House of Representatives, Democrats sitting on the floor for hours and hours to make a statement about gun control, that they wanted legislation called up for a vote.

In the end, they have — the House is now in recess. What did the Democrats accomplish? Was this an effective move on their part?

MARK SHIELDS: What they did, Judy, was they got incredible attention to it.

I mean, having John Lewis, a civil rights icon who had led sit-ins in civil rights, lead this brought the attention. I don’t think there is any question that there is a profound change in public attitudes in support of background checks. And I think Hillary Clinton, as the Democratic nominee, support for the abolition of assault weapons will be a political advantage in 2016.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Twenty seconds.

DAVID BROOKS: I have do have questions about that.

The people who — there may be a shift on guns, but the people who vote on the gun issue have tended to be on the NRA side. It seems to me it’s a very open question whether that’s changed at all.

JUDY WOODRUFF: David Brooks, Mark Shields, a big week of news. Thank you both.

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

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Jun 17, 2016


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

Welcome.

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

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

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: We think of 9/11.

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: David.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MARK SHIELDS: Yes, no question.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you size up their reaction?

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, well, somewhat agreement.

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

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

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: What about that, Mark?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, I disagree with David.

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

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

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

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

MARK SHIELDS: Exactly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you see it going anywhere?

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: Quickly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: What do you see?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(LAUGHTER)

DAVID BROOKS: It’s marriage counseling.

(LAUGHTER)

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: Just by what he said?

DAVID BROOKS: Yes.

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

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

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

MARK SHIELDS: Absolutely.

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

MARK SHIELDS: Look forward to it.

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

MARK SHIELDS: Thank you.

DAVID BROOKS: Thank you.

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

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Jun 10, 2016


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

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

Welcome to you both.

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

Did you feel the history, David, this week?

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

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

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark?

MARK SHIELDS: I’m a feminist.

(LAUGHTER)

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: This was less of a…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: Yes.

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

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

Where do you come down, Mark?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, she doesn’t.

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: Is that enough?

DAVID BROOKS: Oh, yes, probably.

(LAUGHTER)

DAVID BROOKS: Yes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MARK SHIELDS: He’s in bad shape.

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.

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

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

(LAUGHTER)

MARK SHIELDS: He loses all of Donald Trump.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: Pretty tough.

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

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

(LAUGHTER)

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

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

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

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

DAVID BROOKS: Yes.

MARK SHIELDS: OK.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And we will see what he says.

Mark Shields, David Brooks, thank you both.

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

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Jun 03, 2016


Shields and Brooks

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

Welcome back.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MARK SHIELDS: Very much so.

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

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

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

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

MARK SHIELDS: Oh, yes.

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

MARK SHIELDS: I think it is.

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

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

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

HARI SREENIVASAN: OK.

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

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

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

HARI SREENIVASAN: Mark?

MARK SHIELDS: I think he’s right.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HARI SREENIVASAN: OK.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DAVID BROOKS: The Republicans have eyes.

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

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

Let’s take a look at the video.

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

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

HARI SREENIVASAN: Will this work?

MARK SHIELDS: I think it will work.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HARI SREENIVASAN: All right.

MARK SHIELDS: Yes.

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

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

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

Author: PBS NewsHour
Wed, Jun 01, 2016


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

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

Of those comments, what stood out to you?

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

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

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

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

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

(LAUGHTER)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Industrial Midwest is almost in another little downward hiccup.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(LAUGHTER)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, May 27, 2016


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

Welcome, gentlemen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: At the end of the Cold War.

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

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

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

Where is he in his relationship with the Republican Party?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(CROSSTALK)

JUDY WOODRUFF: The Clinton White House.

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

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

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

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

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

MARK SHIELDS: Yes.

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: Really?

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

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

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

(CROSSTALK)

JUDY WOODRUFF: Hasn’t endorsed Hillary Clinton.

(CROSSTALK)

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

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

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

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: Crooked Hillary.

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

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

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

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: On the e-mail.

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

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

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: Thirty seconds.

What does Bernie Sanders want, David?

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

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

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

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

David Brooks, Mark Shields, thank you both.

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



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