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

Shields and Brooks - NewsHour with Jim Lehrer - PBS Podcast

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

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

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, May 20, 2016


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MARK SHIELDS: That’s right.

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: Right. Right.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DAVID BROOKS: Well, the problem is…

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


MARK SHIELDS: No, I don’t.

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

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


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


MARK SHIELDS: That’s true.

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

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

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: Over him on that.

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: You mean on…

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: But they both have positives as well.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, we end up…

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

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

Mark Shields, David Brooks, thank you.

The post Shields and Brooks on the NRA’s endorsement of Donald Trump and the Bernie Sanders factor appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, May 13, 2016


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

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

And we welcome both of you.

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

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

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

I mean, it just — but they passed…

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

MARK SHIELDS: Exactly. Exactly.


JUDY WOODRUFF: That was their allegation.

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

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

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

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

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


JUDY WOODRUFF: Good way of putting it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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



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

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

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


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

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

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

MARK SHIELDS: That’s right.

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


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



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


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

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


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

MARK SHIELDS: Yes, he did.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I think it’s absolutely natural.

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: And that’s a new phenomenon.


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

Michael Gerson, Mark Shields, thank you.

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

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, May 06, 2016


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

Welcome, gentlemen.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He’s transformed the Republican electorate nominating the president.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF:  What do you see happening?

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DAVID BROOKS:  How does he know all this?


JUDY WOODRUFF:  He was there!


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

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

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Apr 29, 2016

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

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

And welcome to you both.

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

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

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

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

Victory will do that.

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

DAVID BROOKS: Pretty much the same way.

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

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

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

So, I agree with Mark.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Drowning man?


JUDY WOODRUFF: Yes, go ahead.

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

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


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

JUDY WOODRUFF: Lucifer in the flesh.

MARK SHIELDS: And Lucifer in the flesh.

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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But so few are doing that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, 20 seconds left.

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


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



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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: One word, David.


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


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

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

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Apr 22, 2016


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

Welcome to you, gentlemen.

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

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

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

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

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


MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist: I agree.

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

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

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


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

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

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

What do you make of this?

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


DAVID BROOKS: And so he’s right.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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


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


DAVID BROOKS: Because it’s likely…

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

DAVID BROOKS: Well, I just chopped them up.


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: Is that enough for him, David?

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

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

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

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

MARK SHIELDS: I disagree. I really do.

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

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

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

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


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

JUDY WOODRUFF: We will talk about it next week.


DAVID BROOKS: Thanks for that, Judy.


JUDY WOODRUFF: David Brooks, Mark Shields.

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

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Apr 15, 2016


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: Did you say amoral delegate laws?

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

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

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

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

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

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


MARK SHIELDS: I don’t think it is.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


DAVID BROOKS: Franklin Roosevelt.

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

DAVID BROOKS: I like smoke-filled rooms.



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

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

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


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


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

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

MARK SHIELDS: His argument is a plausible argument.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: The speeches.

MARK SHIELDS: … and speeches and so forth.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

MARK SHIELDS: I will say this.

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: To go after the e-mails.

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

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

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

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

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

MARK SHIELDS: Minimum wage.


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

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

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

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

MARK SHIELDS: I don’t know.

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: Meeting at the Vatican.

MARK SHIELDS: To the Vatican.

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

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


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

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

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



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

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

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

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

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Apr 08, 2016


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

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

And we welcome both of you.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: Calm-down Friday.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: David, what do you think?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Apr 01, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: Which is a few weeks away.

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

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

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

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

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

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


MARK SHIELDS: Uncurious.

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

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

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

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you think that explains…

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


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

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

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

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

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


JUDY WOODRUFF: Could this time be different?


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

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

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

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


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

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


DAVID BROOKS: And so it’s like…

MARK SHIELDS: New York becomes…

DAVID BROOKS: … a bit of the nightmare scenario.

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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MARK SHIELDS: No, it’s inaccurate and unfair. It really is.

And I’m surprised that the Sanders campaign, it’s — because they haven’t done this in the past.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But, David, on paper, Hillary Clinton is still the front-runner, but Bernie Sanders raised, what, $45 million in the last month, in March?

DAVID BROOKS: Yes. That’s right.

JUDY WOODRUFF: He continues to build delegates. He may win Wisconsin. What does this…


MARK SHIELDS: Competitive in New York.

JUDY WOODRUFF: What is this headed for?

DAVID BROOKS: It’s headed for New York. She had a huge lead in New York a couple of weeks ago, which has now dwindled. It’s still in the double digits, so it’s a significant lead. But she loses the state where she was a senator, that would be — that, I think, would change everyone’s eyes.

Up until that point, I don’t think it does. Sanders, we know he has a strong constituency. It’s going to show up at caucuses. Wisconsin has a strong progressive tradition going back 100 years. It’s his kind of place. And so I don’t think winning Wisconsin necessarily turns him into a more credible candidate.

MARK SHIELDS: I disagree.

He was 50 points behind in Wisconsin a year ago to Secretary Clinton. I mean, this is a victory. Everybody’s on the ballot in Wisconsin. There is no Democratic ballot, Republican ballot. You can go in and vote for Ted Cruz, or vote for Bernie Sanders, whoever. It’s a significant, significant victory. And New York…

JUDY WOODRUFF: If he wins, yes.

MARK SHIELDS: If he does win. If he does win. Make no mistake about it.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, 30 seconds, Hillary Clinton keeps at it and just keeps on letting him get under her skin? What happens between them?

DAVID BROOKS: What is her message? What is her message?

What does she — she’s a paint-by-numbers Democratic candidate with the same policy planks as every other Democratic candidate. She’s shown no creativity, no way to fill the void to counter what he offers.

MARK SHIELDS: Why do you want to be president of the United States, other than it’s something on your resume and I’m prepared for it, and this is it? What is the vision?

Bernie Sanders, to his credit, is the one candidate in the race with a message. And it’s a message that’s energized an awful lot of people.

JUDY WOODRUFF: To be continued.

Mark Shields, David Brooks, thank you. Have a great weekend.

DAVID BROOKS: Thank you.

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Shields and Brooks on Trump-Cruz wife feud, ISIS terror in Brussels

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Mar 25, 2016

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JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, for another look at the war against ISIS and the battles on the presidential campaign trail, the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

Gentlemen, welcome to you both.

So, let’s pick up from where we were in that conversation we just heard.

Mark, they did — you did have this successful capture, killing of this top ISIS leader and another one recently on the battlefield, but in the wake of these Brussels attacks, growing chorus of criticism that the Obama administration is not doing enough to go after ISIS, that you’re still seeing horrible attacks like the ones in Belgium.

Where do you — how do you assess the administration?

MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist: Well, the administration has taken on ISIS, its caliphate, that is, in Syria and Iraq, and I think it’s fair to say that they’re in retreat.

The problem is Europe. I mean, that’s a problem. It’s a soft target. It’s free and easy access. And these are homegrown terrorists here. And what the United States can do is to encourage and urge and push for the sharing of information.

But there is a whole inequality of quality of intelligence in those countries. There is an unwillingness, understandably. There’s language difficulties, and also there is a tradition. I mean, this is a continent that has lived under both Nazism and communism, and the willingness to let authorities have access to the metadata that we have done in this country with only limited resistance is a lot stronger there.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Only so much the U.S. can do, David?

DAVID BROOKS, New York Times Columnist: Well, I think there are two issues here.

First, in Syria, I think we bear a large responsibility. I think we withdrew from Iraq too quickly and it created this tremendous vacancy there that ISIS filled. I think we were too slow to recognize what was going on in Syria in the civil war, refused to arm people, refused to take down Assad, ignored the red line and then created a vacuum which ISIS then filled there.

And so that’s partly on us. The European thing — I think that has nothing to do with what happened in Brussels. The European thing, as Mark said, it’s a matter of ideas and alienated cultures. I lived in Brussels for five years. This was back in the ’90s.

If you went to those neighborhoods which are a lot of Muslim people live there, they were isolated, they were different. It was like leaving Brussels and entering a different country, and there was just little integration, social, cultural, economic, between those areas and the rest of the country and the rest of the city.

And that sort of thing just gestated, gestated, gestated. And then when the radical ideology found — they found a lot of alienated people, and they only have to tap a few young men to create something like this.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Some of the criticism, Mark, is that the administration has just not put enough emphasis on this. Yes, the president talks about it and, yes, there have been a number of limited troops, special operations troops, and there may be more going over, but it doesn’t seem to be a priority, enough of a priority for this president.

MARK SHIELDS: Well, I think the president can be accused legitimately of not having recognized the threat at the outset. And I think history will not be kind to the drawing of the red line in Syria, and for the United States.

But, A, the willingness of the United States for further action and deployment of military, even an all-volunteer military, is severely limited, Judy. And let’s be very frank. The organizing principle of this was the United States’ invasion of Iraq and the United States’ occupation of Iraq. That remains to this moment the — whether we left early, should still be there, the fact that we went in, invaded and occupied this country, and it was a tragedy and a disaster, and we have reaped that whirlwind and it remains with us.

JUDY WOODRUFF: David, even criticism this week of the optics. The president was in Cuba for this historic visit and there were some voices, well, he shouldn’t have gone to the baseball game, he shouldn’t have gone on to Argentina, how much does that matter?

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I think those criticisms are unfounded.

The president — we have a big government. We can do a lot of things at once. If the president had skipped the baseball game and gone home, what more could he have done? He has a telephone. He can make decisions. He can meetings.

It’s my basic principle that’s just political point-scoring. It’s my most fundamental basic principle. There’s never a good reason to miss a baseball game. And so his decision to do that, I fully support that.


JUDY WOODRUFF: And this was a big one.

But, Mark…

MARK SHIELDS: I disagree. I do think…


MARK SHIELDS: I think optics do matter.

I think the president could — the baseball game was probably the most important event emotionally and nationally during his trip to Cuba. I don’t think he had to be there for the wave, when the crowd stands up for that. I don’t think it’s necessary for him to wear sunglasses and so — he could have gone to the game and the rest.

Optics, a terrible word, do matter, and if you have any doubts about that, virtually every paper in the country, certainly The Wall Street Journal among them, featured the master as servant this week. On Holy Thursday, there was Pope Francis kissing and washing the feet of a refugee, a penniless refugee. That is a visual.

I agree with David the president can do anything anywhere he is, but if you were sitting in Brussels and worried about your family or your relatives or your neighborhood, the picture of him kind of grinning at the game, I think, was probably not helpful.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And it was striking among some of the reaction among the Republican candidates for president.

David, you had Ted Cruz saying, what we need to do is send more security into patrolling basically neighborhoods where Muslim Americans live.

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I have spent the last week so repulsed by Donald Trump, I had forgotten how ugly Ted Cruz could be, but he reminded us this week.


DAVID BROOKS: As I said and as everyone says, the reason we have terrorism is not because the Prophet Mohammed came down and not because there is a religion called Islam.

MARK SHIELDS: That’s right.

DAVID BROOKS: The reason we have terror is that young men are alienated and feel they can wage war and a just war against societies that are racist and xenophobic and crushing toward them.

And if you want to spread the message, a good way would be to have extra police operations directed at Muslim neighborhoods. And so Ted Cruz’s idea is probably the worst idea, well, only of the day, because we have a lot in this campaign, truly terrible idea, only saved by the fact it’s almost certain he doesn’t actually believe it. He just wants to sound like Donald Trump.

MARK SHIELDS: I think David put his finger on it.

I would say this. It’s ironic, Judy, that the Republican Party, to avoid Donald Trump, is rallying reluctantly, against their own will, around Ted Cruz. He reminded them and everybody else why they didn’t like him in the first place. This is an awful, awful position.

In fact, when the Anti-Defamation League comes out and compares it to the imprisonment and incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II, when police Commissioner Bill Bratton in New York says he has no idea what he’s talking about, there are a thousand Muslim Americans, many of them combat veterans, on the New York police force. It’s just — it was — it’s beyond stupid.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, that occupied a lot of the week, but something else that occupied a fair amount of time, at least became a war of words between the two leading Republican candidates, had to do with women.

And we’re going to take a sidebar look at that and then come back and talk to both of you.

Ted Cruz blasted his main rival, Donald Trump, today in Wisconsin.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), Republican Presidential Candidate: Years from now, when my daughters Google this, they will read these lies.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Cruz accused Trump of being behind tabloid accusations of extramarital affairs. It was the latest in the escalating war of words over women this week between the two candidates.

It all began with this ad, a photo of Melania Trump, a former model, posing for “British GQ” 16 years ago posted on Facebook by an anti-Trump super PAC ahead of the Utah primary caucuses Tuesday. Within hours, Donald Trump tweeted a response, wrongly attributing the ad directly to Cruz’s campaign, and warning him to — quote — “be careful.”

DONALD TRUMP (R), Republican Presidential Candidate: Ted Cruz knowingly, in my opinion, had this article sent all over Utah, had the picture saying, is this want you want? Essentially, is this what you want for a first lady? First of all, she would be a great first lady.

JUDY WOODRUFF: A fury in the Twitterverse ensued, as Cruz hit back, defending his wife, Heidi, and calling Trump a coward.

A day later, Trump ratcheted up the war of the wives, when he retweeted an unflattering image of Mrs. Cruz. Polls show Trump’s standing with women voters has worsened in recent months. According to the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll, 64 percent of women say they have a strongly unfavorable reaction to him. That’s 18 points higher than it was in August.

So what do we say about this? Did we ever think this was going to be the lead story out of a campaign for president of the United States?

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, that’s the first thing I was going to say. Are we really here? Is this really happening? Is this America? Are we a great country talking about trying to straddle the world and create opportunity in this country?

It’s just mind-boggling. And we have sort of become acculturated, because this campaign has been so ugly. We have become acculturated to sleaze and unhappiness that you just want to shower from every 15 minutes.

The Trump comparison of the looks of the wives, he does have, over the course of his life, a consistent misogynistic view of women as arm candy, as pieces of meat. It’s a consistent attitude toward women which is the stuff of a diseased adolescent.

And so we have seen a bit of that show up again. But if you go back over his past, calling into radio shows bragging about his affairs, talking about his sex life in public, he is childish in his immaturity. And his — even his misogyny is a childish misogyny.

And that’s why I do not think Republicans, standard Republicans, can say, yes, I’m going to vote for this guy because he’s our nominee. He’s of a different order than your normal candidate. And this whole week is just another reminder of that.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Could this finally be something, Mark, that really does hurt Donald Trump?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, we have predicted nine of his last eight stumbles, and they have yet to all materialize.

Judy, whoever did that political action committee ad has to be thrilled, because it elicited from Donald Trump the worst of his personality, the bullying, the misogyny, as David has said, brought it out.

But I think it’s more than childish and juvenile and adolescent. There is something creepy about this, his attitude toward women. Take Megyn Kelly of FOX News, who he just has an absolute obsession about, and he’s constantly writing about, you know, how awful she is and no talent and this and that. It’s an obsession.

And I don’t know if he’s just never had women — strong, independent women in his life who have spoken to him. It doesn’t seem that way. His daughter…

JUDY WOODRUFF: She has asked him tough questions in that debate.

MARK SHIELDS: She just asked him tough questions and was totally fair, by everybody else’s standards.

But there is something really creepy about this that’s beyond locker room. It’s almost like a stalker, and I just — I thought this was — it actually did the impossible. It made Ted Cruz look like an honorable, tough guy on the right side of an issue.

And, you know, I just — I just marvel at it. And I don’t know at what point it becomes, you know — politically, he’s still leading. And I would have to say he’s the overwhelming favorite for the Republican nomination.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And what was striking is that this ad, David, which presumably had very limited circulation, might have gone almost unnoticed if it hadn’t have been for what he — how he reacted to it.

DAVID BROOKS: The odd thing about his whole career and his whole language, his whole world view is there is no room for love in it.

You get a sense of a man who received no love, can give no love, so his relationship with women, it has no love in it. It’s trophy. And his relationship toward the world is one of competition and beating, and as if he’s going to win by competition what other people get by love.

And so you really are seeing someone who just has an odd psychology unleavened by kindness and charity, but where it’s all winners and losers, beating and being beat. And that’s part of the authoritarian personality, but it comes out in his attitude towards women.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And just 10 seconds.

MARK SHIELDS: Yes, I would say, in his defense, which I didn’t think I would use that phrase, his relationship with his children seems quite good, with his daughter and with his sons. And they seem like — they don’t seem like malevolent people at all. They seem like they’re very benevolent people.


JUDY WOODRUFF: Makes you wonder what their reaction is to all of this.


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

MARK SHIELDS: Thank you.

DAVID BROOKS: Thank you.

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Shields and Brooks on blocking Trump, Sanders’ chances and Merrick Garland

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Mar 18, 2016


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

So, gentlemen, with that gentle note to end this week, David, where does the Republican contest stand?

DAVID BROOKS: I’m trembling at the loss of Sam Clovis from the ranks.


DAVID BROOKS: Trump is looking like the nominee. I mean, he had this great night. He — if he continues as he has been going right now — and my paper reported — our Upshot department reported he will get the — what he needs. So he’s looking like he can get it.

There are two ways he cannot get it. One, maybe if Kasich drops out, there are some polls that show if Cruz is one on one, he could make some inroads into Trump. And then something behind the scenes or something — fiddling with the rules. I, of course, think they should do it.

But one of the features of this year is that Donald Trump has a monopoly on audacity and he’s the only one who takes action. So, what’s interesting to me about the Republicans right now is, with the exception of Florida Governor Rick Scott and Chris Christie, they’re not flocking to Trump. They do not like the guy. They’re terrorized of the guy. They’re repulsed by the guy.

But they’re not flocking to him, but they’re not doing anything against him either. They’re just sitting there like a psychologically depleted party.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, where does that leave — so that, Mark, he just marches on to Cleveland and the nomination.


What conservative philosopher and columnist George Will called the most gifted and diversified field of Republican candidates since 1865 is now down essentially to two, to Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, the quintessential conservative who cannot be nominated and cannot win. And that’s where the Republicans are.

Donald Trump, let it be said in his behalf, has won this nomination. I mean, the people who are trying to take it away from him have won nothing. I mean, John Kasich has won one primary, half as many as Marco Rubio won, I think, contests.

So, I mean, you know, but he’s won, and he’s won everywhere. I mean, it’s been across the board. I mean, this is a — it’s been an open assault upon the establishment, and he has captured it.

So, I just think that, you know, Lindsey Graham, a man occasionally known for spreading the ugly truth, said it’s — a choice between Cruz and Trump is the choice between being poisoned and being shot. And I think that’s where sort of the paralysis that David…


DAVID BROOKS: And he chose poison.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And then he went on to choose Cruz.

MARK SHIELDS: He did. He chose arsenic over — yes.


DAVID BROOKS: That’s right.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But if Trump has won it, then, David, is there any sign of Republican — I know you said he’s not getting the big endorsements, but is it that Republicans are not listening to the voters? What’s the disconnect here?


Well, first of all, in the big Tuesday states, 40 percent of voters in most of the states said, if Trump were the nominee, they’d consider a third party. And so that’s some serious disaffection. You do not see that. Usually, people are rallying around at this point.

And, secondly, there are a lot of Republicans, including myself, who find him morally repulsive. And he’s just not — there are some things more important things than winning an election. And supporting a guy who tears at the social fabric, who insults the office of the presidency by completely unprepared for it, who plays on bigotry and fear, who is the sort of demagogue our founders feared would upset the American experiment in self-government, well, that kind of guy, you just can’t support, even if it means a defeat.

And I think a lot of Republicans feel that way, which is why you get those 40 percent numbers of defectors.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But, Mark, are the two of you saying that literally there is no — I know David said, if something happened and…


JUDY WOODRUFF: But, I mean, are you saying the odds are just very much against any…


MARK SHIELDS: Oh, no, I think the momentum is with him. I think the numbers are with him, Judy.

Judy, probably it hasn’t been totaled up yet, but a good bet is there was $20 million spent against Donald Trump in Florida, $20 million in negative campaign ads that went from calling him — one group, secretive group associated with the Koch brothers called him a wealthy draft dodger.

They have never mentioned — they never used that term about Dick Cheney, but then they called Trump University a scam and accused him of being just a scurrilous, unprincipled person. And all this, and it apparently — you know, if anything, it didn’t lay a glove on him, and, if anything, increased his numbers.

I mean, he has a constituency that is indifferent to such charges. So, I don’t know what would be revealed. I mean, there has been enough already revealed about him and understood that would kill any other candidate.



JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, with that and with the talk about a whether you call it a contested convention or an open convention, is there a scenario under which the people who voted for Donald Trump or his delegates would go along with some other plan, some other result at a convention?

DAVID BROOKS: It’s hard to imagine, unless there was something — again, he’s like Rasputin. As Mark said, he just doesn’t go away. He doesn’t die.

Unless somehow something came up that we don’t know about that — where they lost faith, where they lost heart. But at this point, it’s hard to see it. He looks very much like the nominee. And, as Mark said, we have treated this — everyone says, oh, what a crazy year. It’s so unexpected. He’s been ahead for eight months.


DAVID BROOKS: And only it’s because of the ignorance of people like me, who didn’t see that he’s ahead for eight months, so it’s a very simple storyline. He’s been ahead for eight months. He’s still ahead.

And so that’s been very stable. We all expected him to explode. The only surprise is, this has been so linear for him.

MARK SHIELDS: Yes. No, there is always the blockbuster, the screenplay that reveals something about him, that he’s got eight secret families or something of the sort.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Somebody steps out from behind a curtain.

MARK SHIELDS: Yes. No, but I just think everything is headed in his direction.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let’s turn to the Democrats.

Hillary Clinton is way ahead, David, in terms of delegates, but Bernie Sanders — and Bernie Sanders didn’t win any primaries this week, but he’s campaigning hard and he says he’s going all the way to Philadelphia, to the Democratic Convention.

What is that — I mean, what do we have here on the Democratic side?

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I think the Democratic side is even more ironed shut down than the Republican side.

I think she’s on a march. And she got has nearly twice the number of delegates he has got. And she’s just been very solid in her demographics. Now, she’s amazingly weak outside of her demographics. Among young people, he’s getting like 80 percent in some states. It’s amazing.

MARK SHIELDS: That’s right. Yes.

DAVID BROOKS: And among minorities, she’s very solid. Among middle class, among moderate Democratic voters, she’s very solid and she’s holding her people.

And I think that is what is frustrating for Sanders. She’s a fox, and he’s a hedgehog. She knows a lot of things. He knows one thing and he keeps repeating it and repeating it. He doesn’t adjust tactics. He doesn’t shift. He’s just doing that thing.

And so that thing wins over a certain demographic, young people and the left, but there just aren’t enough of those people to knock her off. And so I think she’s looking — she’s sitting very pretty now.

JUDY WOODRUFF: You see any way he could pull this off?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, again, when you have two candidates in a race, yes, there is always a possibility. I recall rather vividly eight years ago, when she was asked if she was going to get out, and she said, no, anything can happen in a race when there is two people.

Bernie Sanders has run an absolutely exceptional campaign, and continues to do. He has dominated — as Donald Trump has dominated the dialogue and the debate on the Republican side and gotten the attention, he has totally dominated the debate on the Democratic side. He has moved her on trade, on the TPP.

He has moved her on preserving Social Security. She’s now pledged to not touching a single hair on the gray hair on the beautiful head of Social Security. That had been a traditional Democratic sort of moderate position, or new Democrats, that you had to limit entitlements.

So, I mean, Bernie, he is — he has really been the driving force in this campaign. David’s right; 80 percent of voters under the age of 30 supported him in several states. And he came back. You know, I was thinking of Massachusetts, where, in 2008, Barack Obama had the support of Governor Deval Patrick and Ted Kennedy, and he still lost by 15 points to Hillary Clinton.

He almost beat her there. And he’s won a number of states. And what lies ahead, he’s quite confident. So I just — he has four million individual contributions. So, he’s given the party a lot of energy. I don’t think he’s got dreams that he’s going to be the nominee at this point, but I think he’s got — he’s leading a cause.

JUDY WOODRUFF: President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court to take the spot that Justice Scalia, the late Justice Scalia had, David, Merrick Garland, what do make of the choice, and what does it say about what the president wants on the court?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, frankly, I think it’s an excellent choice. He’s a guy with apparently an amazing temperament. He is the model of judicial restraint.

He seems to be a man of both amazing integrity and capacity to be emotionally moved. And so everything I hear about him is superlative.

And, if I’m a Republican, frankly, running the Senate, I’m thinking, this is the best I’m going to get. And if Donald Trump is down 15 points in the summer or fall, I would confirm this guy, because Hillary Clinton, if she gets elected, who knows what the Senate will look like. It will be, from a Republican point of view, a lot worse.

So I think Republicans should say, OK, we will take this guy, because he’s — from their point of view, he’s a model of restraint.


MARK SHIELDS: I agree and echo what David has said about Judge Garland.

And, Judy, the knocks on him from the liberal side is, A, he’s a white male. And, you know, you have to have somebody who’s, I don’t know what, biracial or something else.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But he’s too much of a centrist.

MARK SHIELDS: That he — and he’s 63 years old, which doesn’t seem old at all to me.


MARK SHIELDS: But — no, but the irony here is, I think the Republicans have put themselves in a terrible position. I really do.

I mean, before the body was cold of Judge Scalia, before his family had been told, Mitch McConnell tried to head off a charge from the conservative insurgents against the establishment that they weren’t sufficiently conservative enough, so they are going to earn that.

And they have taken a position basically that comes down to this. Barack Obama is the only president since World War II other than Dwight Eisenhower to twice win 51 percent of the popular vote. And what they want to say is, he’s got a three-year term for his second term.

So, by that logic, that logic, the people should decide. The 24 Republican senators who are up for reelection this year shouldn’t vote on anything between now and November, until the people have spoken. I mean, so I just really think they have taken a terrible political position, and I think it’s increasingly unpopular and eventually unsustainable.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, their defense — in their defense, the Republicans, David, are saying, well, but this is to replace Antonin Scalia, who was standard-bearer, conservative for, what, 25 years on the court.

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, but I agree with Mark philosophically. You are elected for four years and you get to nominate for four years.

Some people — Justice Marshall in the old days, under John Adams, I think it was, was nominated in a lame-duck section.

MARK SHIELDS: That’s right.

DAVID BROOKS: And so that’s the constitutional historical precedent. So, philosophically, I think Mark is right.

Politically, I can’t imagine Republicans will pay a price for it. I do not think there are a lot of voters out there thinking, oh, you have got to give this guy a hearing. I just don’t think it’s a voting issue. So I do not think Republicans will be compelled to fold on this one.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Does it matter for the court that it sits with eight members until whenever?

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, of course.


MARK SHIELDS: A closed mind is a terrible thing to tamper with.


MARK SHIELDS: No, I mean, I think it will — it puts people like Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire on the defensive. It puts Rob Portman on the defensive. Already, Mark Kirk has changed.

I just think that states like that — I mean, Chuck Grassley is looking like a tower of Jell-O at this point.


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

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Shields and Brooks on the surprisingly tranquil GOP debate

Author: PBS NewsHour
Sat, Mar 12, 2016


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HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, well, let’s continue the conversation about the week in politics.

Last night’s GOP debate could have possibly been on PBS. It was definitely a different tone, a different vibe.


HARI SREENIVASAN: Why do you think that was?

DAVID BROOKS, New York Times Columnist: Yes, Alistair Cooke as actually moderating it.



I think it was because the other candidates decided, especially Marco Rubio, that if they go after Trump the way they were, personally, just in the gutter, that they end up hurting themselves. And I think there is some evidence for Rubio to that effect.

And so it was a more Rubio-style debate. And I thought he did well, because it was a substantive debate. It was more uplifting. And he did well, but not substantially well enough to change the nature of the race, I don’t think.

MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist: Not for the first time observed that the campaigns — or campaigns are like parallel skiing.

That is, you’re competing in Ohio, while your opponents are in Tampa, Florida, or Dearborn, Michigan, and a debate brings you all together. This is the chance for you to rearrange the standing, especially if you’re behind.

And last night, there was none of that. I mean, rather than PBS, I would say it was C-SPAN subcommittee hearings on the Subcommittee on Weights and Measures. It was about that stimulating, instead of the past debates, which have been like the housewives of the Jersey Shore, and you turn them on expecting for someone to throw a household appliance at the other.

And I think — to some degree, I think David’s right. They found out that it didn’t work. It has worked for Donald Trump, but it doesn’t work to be a mini-Trump, as Marco Rubio proved. But I think, Hari, that may be the opening admission, acknowledgment that Donald Trump is going to be the nominee, because if you pass up a chance to really take a shot and to try and change the chemistry and the dynamic of the race — and you don’t get that many opportunities, where everybody is watching at the same time.

I think the failure of people to engage Trump last night, almost an admission, may be the beginning of the concession.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Let’s talk a little bit about what’s at stake coming up Tuesday with Ohio and Florida, two big otherwise general battleground states.

Yesterday, there were comments made on stage by Donald Trump saying, look, two of us have the possibility here, two of us don’t.

Is that basically the case in terms of Governor Kasich and Marco Rubio? If they don’t win their home states, do they pack up?

DAVID BROOKS: Rubio probably does.

You know, if they win their home states, then Donald Trump has to get nearly 60 percent of the remaining delegates, or nearly 70 percent of the remaining delegates, and that’s a tall order.

And so if they win there , if Kasich and Rubio win, then we’re looking at going into the convention without at least a clear nominee. If they lose, I think Rubio probably has to get out. You get the sense, just the vibe this week that the air is a little popping out of his campaign, a bad, really bad event in the football stadium, and just a lot of Republicans sort of walking away.

Kasich, on the other hand, maybe because he started lower, he’s still got some energy around his campaign. And so I think he can lose and hang in there. If it was he, Cruz and Trump, Kasich was suddenly — a lot of people might go to him.

If Trump wins them both, then he will probably win them all on Tuesday. And it’s just the biggest day of the season. And then you would have to think he’s probably the nominee.

MARK SHIELDS: Yes, John Kasich is an interesting one.

He’s run a positive campaign, the governor of Ohio, and has not got into the back and forth and the insult exchange that has dominated most of the Republican debates. For the first time, Donald Trump is running an anti-Kasich commercial in Ohio, and it will be interesting to see what John Kasich does in the next few days between now and then.

Does he take it in just passive, in pacifist fashion, or does he hit back? It’s obviously an invitation. Trump wants to win Ohio. What he has going for him right now is Urban Meyer, the coach at Ohio State, perhaps the most — football coach at Ohio State — perhaps the most popular figure in the state.

If it isn’t an endorsement, it’s certainly an embrace, a TV spot that he’s cut with John Kasich and John Kasich’s family, speaking very glowingly of qualities John Kasich’s mother had not been aware he had probably before.



HARI SREENIVASAN: Does John Kasich go into the convention — let’s — there’s probably mathematically not a way that he’s going to outscore Trump and Cruz in terms of delegates.

But when he goes into that convention, what does he do there? Is this a matter of saying, hey, it’s open and I think I’m still a viable candidate, and, by that time, people will see me as the guy that they want to nominate?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, let’s play it out.

If Trump doesn’t have a majority of the delegates, then I think there will be — and they can sort of rewrite the rules. I think there will be a period pre-nominate — pre-convention where the candidates will be going after the delegates, Republican, and saying, commit, commit, commit, commit to me.

And they are going to try, all the candidates, to win those delegates over. And then it just becomes a bidding war. And it will all be quiet. And then they will try to commit before we even get to the convention. And I suspect most of the delegates will lie and they will say, yes, Mr. Trump, I’m with you, yes, Mr. Cruz, I’m with you, too.

And so then it’s all — then we don’t know what happens. Then it’s complete chaos.

MARK SHIELDS: I don’t know how John Kasich goes after Ohio.

I mean, I don’t know where he mounts a campaign that makes him a competitor, a serious challenger for the nomination. I mean, he can certainly go to the convention, which is in Cleveland, and having carried Ohio, if he does so. That’s not unimpressive by any means.

But if Trump is within 100 delegates of the nomination, he will get them. I have seen candidates. Candidates get 100 delegates, 100 people who want to be — they know that your — chance to be the next president of the United States or certainly the nominee of your party. And they want to be in the good side of such a nominee. I have just — I have seen it in the past.

DAVID BROOKS: Maybe with 100, but Trump is a unique candidate.

There is more opposition to Trump. I have just felt it all week, so many people. You go to them, some members of Congress, some just activists.

MARK SHIELDS: I agree. Yes.

DAVID BROOKS: And you say, could you support Trump? And they say, I just couldn’t. I just couldn’t pull the lever.

And so there’s — he’s unique in that regard.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Let’s talk a little bit about the other side.

Why, Mark, is this race on the Democratic side still continuing? I mean, conventional wisdom was that Hillary Clinton would have a formidable lead, she would be the clear and distant choice, but, in cases like Michigan, not so.


I mean, when — a Sanders person pointed out to me, you take out the red states of Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, Louisiana, Georgia, Arkansas, and Bernie is doing pretty darn well. I mean, that’s where Secretary Clinton has run up the score, and done so well with large African-American votes in those states.

But Bernie — Bernie Sanders was billed as being 21 points behind in the polling. The primary polling has brought a new respectability to astrology.


MARK SHIELDS: It was so wrong in Michigan.

But I just think you have to come back. It’s not the messenger. He’s not a charismatic guy that bobby-soxers are swooning in front of. It’s the message. And you can see it. Now, for the first time, you see Republican voters in the exit polls, in addition to Democrats, saying that they oppose free trade.

They see free trade as outsourcing of jobs. They see it as offshoring, so not in their economic and family’s interest. So, Bernie — it’s Bernie’s message.


Even John Kasich was sounding like Dick Gephardt on trade and the issues. The whole debate has shifted over on that side. I think it’s also her weakness as a candidate.

She sometimes has a good message, but, on attack, we were reminded this week she’s really not good. She just attacks wildly, without focus, and I think unpersuasively.

I — the one thing I really like that she did this week was confess the vulnerability: I’m not my husband. I’m not Barack Obama. I’m not a politician like them.

MARK SHIELDS: As politically gifted. That’s right, yes.

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, just not as politically gifted as those guys.

And I think that’s a true thing, but also a nice and honest way to approach the American people.

MARK SHIELDS: That’s a good point.

HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, New York Times columnist David Brooks, syndicated columnist Mark Shields, thanks so much for joining us.

MARK SHIELDS: Thank you, Hari.

DAVID BROOKS: Thank you.

HARI SREENIVASAN: And you can get Mark and David delivered to your inbox every Friday. Sign up for “NewsHour”‘s politics e-mails by clicking the Subscribe icon on our home page. That’s at PBS.org/NewsHour.

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Shields and Brooks on the GOP push to stop Trump

Author: PBS NewsHour
Sat, Mar 05, 2016


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JUDY WOODRUFF: And that brings us to the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields, and New York Times columnist David Brooks, who’s joining us today from Santa Barbara, California.

And we welcome you both, gentlemen.

So, the CPAC conference, that was going on today. It will continue through the weekend, but let’s start with last night.

David, what do we make of what happened in Detroit?

DAVID BROOKS, The New York Times: Embarrassing, demoralizing. I have been in Waco, Texas, and out here this week, and I have seen so many Republicans depressed.

I’m used to seeing moderate Republicans say they don’t recognize their party. But now I have heard a lot of conservative Republicans say they don’t recognize their party., first the tone and temper of the debate, the things Donald Trump chose to speak about, and then just the nasty back and forth and the shallow name-calling.

It was, I think, a demoralizing debate, and for a lot of Republicans, possibly the worst outcome you could get, with Trump marching, but everybody else sort of hanging around, and a lot of internecine warfare over the future of the party, if there is one.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Demoralizing, Mark?

MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist: Judy, what strikes me about these debate is the name of Ronald Reagan is constantly invoked by just about everybody.

And Lou Cannon, who was a peerless political reporter, Ronald Reagan’s biographer, for more than a quarter of a century covered him, said of Ronald Reagan, anybody — a crowd heard Ronald Reagan, they felt good about them and they ended up feeling better about themselves.

There is no way that anybody who is not a fierce partisan or blind partisan of one of the candidates could watch last night and feel better about themselves or their country. When the front-runner for the Republican nomination to succeed to the office that has been graced by Washington and Lincoln and FDR publicly boasts about the dimensions of his private parts, you have reached a new low.

I mean, it is dispiriting. It’s beyond partisanship. It’s just discouraging as a citizen, and I don’t know what we do, other than tune out to this. I know we can’t, but I just don’t think you should encourage it by listening to this stuff.

JUDY WOODRUFF: David, does this hurt Donald Trump, does it hurt all the candidates? Who is affected, who is damaged by this, or is anybody?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, we will see.

You know, I think we will see whether — I think ultimately the debate helped him because the candidates said they’d support him in the end. One of the things we have noticed this whole campaign is, Donald Trump just has more courage. Whatever you might think of him — and I don’t think much of him, but he has more courage than his opponents.

And for his opponents to say he’s a scam artist and a con artist and a liar and reckless and would hurt the country, but I would support him, it just doesn’t make sense. And it was a lack of courage on their part to go there.

And Mitt Romney today said he would not support them. And that has to be the case. Normally, you support your party’s nominee, but with somebody like Trump, if you say all the things you say about him, you have got to say, no, I will not support him. I will go third party or I will won’t vote in the presidential election.

So that failure of courage hurts Trump. We will see if a Romney-led Republican officialdom can launch a sustained attack on Trump. I have always thought that the core attack is not to going to go after him for what they have been going after him for, which is what voters like, that he’s politically incorrect and sort of a change agent, but go after him for the fact that he’s a narcissist who thinks about himself and has betrayed all those around him.

They’re beginning to lay that case. It may be too late, but I think it’s the most effective case they have against him.

JUDY WOODRUFF: What is the case that — the most damaging case, Mark? And do you agree with David this doesn’t really necessarily hurt Donald Trump, what happened last night?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, it hasn’t up to now.

At some point, it becomes cumulative, Judy. I think where they failed to make the case, first of all, Mitt Romney, who was a — had to be an act of conscience on his part to make the statement — there was no political payoff for him. It’s to no real advantage politically or personally for him to do it, to make that statement.

The problem in Mitt Romney’s statement, first of all, was that he himself didn’t acknowledge that he had sought and accepted gratefully Donald Trump’s endorsement in 2012. But at the same time, his message is, you have been bamboozled. You’re not quite bright enough to understand this.

What they have to do is exactly what was done to Mitt Romney in 2012, and that was to show the people or at least to present the people who felt that they had been hurt by his economic activities. Remember the company that Bain had taken over and then closed the jobs, and they asked people to build the stage while they announced that they were — their jobs were going overseas.

It has to be a personal connection. You have to show the people…

JUDY WOODRUFF: You mean, whether it’s Trump University or one of the other…


MARK SHIELDS: Trump University or the small companies that have been hurt when he went into bankruptcy and put people out of business, people who lost their jobs, who lost their savings, and who been hurt.

You have to put a human face on it. And they haven’t done that. And when you just say anybody but Trump, that’s no endorsement for any other candidate.

JUDY WOODRUFF: What about the argument, David, that Mitt Romney made yesterday? He called Donald Trump a con artist. He used just about every negative term one can think of.

Is that going to make any difference?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, you have to believe that, at some point, Trump voters, like any other voters, rely on the information they have.

And a lot of the — a lot us of have — with Trump voters, they buy Trump’s version of events, which is that he’s a successful businessman and that he’s made a ton of money. But there is another version of events, which is Trump Mortgage, Trump University, Trump Steak, Trump Airline, and the bankruptcies, that he’s not a successful businessman.

He’s a marketing genius who offers no substance. And people either got pushed into subprime loans by Trump Mortgage, or they got suckered into racking up huge credit card debt to buy courses on Trump University, and they were left high and dry when those things went belly up.

And so that’s a story that I think can be told. In a country which is feeling betrayed, he is a mass and serial betrayer. And so I think that’s the line that can be used. But I have to assume all voters are information voters, and, as they get more information, they could change their minds.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But if it’s not Trump, Mark, then who is it? Which one of these other candidates? Ted Cruz has, what, won four states. Marco Rubio’s won one state. I mean, is it Mitt Romney?

MARK SHIELDS: If you want to know what — how weak the Republican field is against Donald Trump at this point, Bernie Sanders has won more states than all the other Republicans other than Donald Trump.

And one can talk about Bernie Sanders has made a marvelous insurgent candidacy, but they just — they haven’t been competitive. And John Kasich got very good reviews last night, which encourages him to stay on the stage, which is a part — nobody outside of the Kasich family sees any logical way that John Kasich can win the nomination, other than by some weirdly broken convention outside of Erie, Ohio, at the Cleveland convention that John Kasich somebody brokers.

But as long as there are the three of them, none of them has the strength. Marco Rubio, I think, is reduced in stature as a consequence of his going back and forth in this sort of junior high school locker room language with Donald Trump. And Cruz just doesn’t show to have the kind of reach beyond a certain regional appeal.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But, David, wasn’t it Mitt Romney’s recommendation that voters support, I think he said Rubio in Florida, Kasich in Ohio, Cruz in — I mean, he’s encouraging everyone to stay in.

DAVID BROOKS: Well, strategically, the idea is to get — prevent Trump from getting a majority of delegates.

But, Judy, I would say this is bigger than just one nomination. This is about the future of the Republican Party and really the future of the country. For almost a century-and-a-half, the Republican Party has stood for a certain free market version of America, an America that’s about openness, that’s about markets, that’s about opportunity, and a definition of what this country is.

Donald Trump offers a very contrasting image. It’s an image of closedness. It’s an image of building walls, of closing barriers, an authoritarian style of leadership. And so the Republican Party’s future is at stake.

And, you know, I think preserving that future in some coherent form is the number one task for the party. Ben Sasse, a senator, has said he is going to — he is advocating a temporary third party, just a conservative who could run for president. You would split the right-wing vote, the conservative voted, and you would lose the White House, but at least you would preserve some integrity of the party and maybe preserve the Senate and the House of Representatives, if you can get some conservatives to show up for the polls.

But that’s, I think, the frame in which to think, that it’s not just about one year. It’s about a long tradition in American politics which may be being replaced.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And in the short run, as David just said, Mark, that could be good news for Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders or whoever is the Democratic nominee.

MARK SHIELDS: No, it could be.

But, at the same time, I don’t write off Donald Trump by any means. If you’re one of the two candidates on the field in…

JUDY WOODRUFF: You mean if there were three — if there were three candidates?

MARK SHIELDS: No, no. I mean, if, in fact, he is the nominee running against either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, it seems most plausibly Hillary Clinton right now — Hillary Clinton has tied herself, Judy, to President Obama.

She has run as Hillary Obama. She has made an appeal to African-American voters. She has made an appeal to the most loyal of Democrats, that she represents a continuation. So, whatever happens, whatever the October surprise is of 2016, and how President Obama handles it or doesn’t handle it, her fate is tied to him and his performance and the performance of his administration over the next eight months.

So, you know, it’s not a lay-down hand, as some Democrats say, oh, there’s no way Donald Trump — Donald Trump has enlarged the electorate in a way that is impressive. I mean, yes, he’s alienated a lot of the people David’s described. He’s brought in a lot of other people to vote in the Republican primary.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And, David, what about that? There are people who have come out to vote in these primaries and caucuses who weren’t engaged in the — at least in the last few election cycles. Trump has brought them out.

DAVID BROOKS: Right. They have been displaced.

They have been displaced by the economic crisis. They feel they have been displaced by immigration. They feel they have been displaced by globalization and disrespected by the political class. And, of course, there’s some basis to that.

It’s hard to see how that wakes up into a natural governing majority, though. And I agree with Mark. If you have two people, then anybody could win. There could be a terrorist attack. There could be a recession. Nobody knows what could happen, and Trump could somehow vault into the White House.

But, given the numbers now, it’s very hard to see he could win, given the huge numbers of Americans, the vast majority of Americans who say they could not support the guy. And I still find it hard to believe that somebody as policy-thin and as knowledge-thin would very well — he might be able to wear well with the electorate that we have in the Republican primary. It’s really hard to see him wearing well with a general election electorate, which is a very different thing.

JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, Mark, in less than a minute, just quickly to Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, do you — Bernie Sanders is not getting out of the race.

Does he — is he a factor at this point?

MARK SHIELDS: Yes, he’s a factor. I mean, he’s moved — you heard Hillary Clinton today in the excerpt on…


MARK SHIELDS: On trade. He’s moved her on trade, I mean, or at least helped her to move, put it that way.

On the pipeline, the Canadian pipeline, he’s moved her on that. You know, we had today news, Judy, of job increases and wages actually going down. So we now have the top one-tenth of 1 percent, to qualify for that distinct group, you have had to have your wages increased 500 percent since Ronald Reagan was president.

And yet the median household income today is lower than it was 18 years ago. It’s just exactly what David was talking about. And Bernie Sanders turned out more people in Colorado, where he won 60 to 40, than had ever turned out before. There is encouragement for him to keep going.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, on that note, gentlemen, a lot to chew over.

Mark Shields, David Brooks, thank you both.

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Shields and Brooks on Super Tuesday

Author: PBS NewsHour
Wed, Mar 02, 2016


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JUDY WOODRUFF: And it would not be Super Tuesday without the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

Gentlemen, welcome.

No comments about hair or anything else we saw or heard in the last few minutes.


MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist: Wow. Wow.

JUDY WOODRUFF: David, we have heard about past Super Tuesdays. What are you looking for tonight?

DAVID BROOKS, The New York Times: Well, Trump is the story.

I mean, Trump is one of the biggest political stories of our lifetime. And so the fact that — well, I’m supposed to be objective, but a bigoted buffoon may get the nomination of a major party is sort of a big deal. Everywhere I go all around the world, people are fixated on this fact.

And so, if he does what the polls suggest, that’s just a major event in American political life, if he takes this gigantic step toward the nomination of a major party.

GWEN IFILL: Mark, I wonder if — we just heard the history of this and how we came to this point.

I wonder if that has something to do with where we are now. By creating a Super Tuesday that was supposed to come up with a…

MARK SHIELDS: Moderate, yes.

GWEN IFILL: … predetermined result, that it’s backfiring now.

MARK SHIELDS: I think it has.

I mean, unintended consequences, the law thereof. It was organized by Chuck Robb, the former governor of Virginia, son-in-law of President Johnson, to really stop the Democratic Party from drifting to the left. And as William described beautifully in that piece, Jesse Jackson nearly showed how it could be done and became the model.

He upset the apple cart when Michael Dukakis in 1988 was supposed — was able to run what they called a four-corners strategy by winning Florida and Texas and the state of Washington and the Northeast as well.

But it — no, it has become — the difference between Super Tuesday and the events that precede it is that all of Iowa, New Hampshire, even Nevada, they see the candidates up close. They can touch them. They can listen to them.

Now it’s strictly wholesale politics. It’s what voters conclude from what they read, see, sense, communicate about them. And I think that’s — Donald Trump has shown depth and strength in three different states, in winning New Hampshire and Nevada and South Carolina.

He’s showing a breadth now that is really rather remarkable. If he carries Alabama and Massachusetts in the same day, it’s been a long time.


MARK SHIELDS: Mitt Romney didn’t do as well on Super Tuesday, nor did John McCain, the last two nominees, as it appears that Donald Trump is poised to do.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But, David, can we really blame the calendar and Super Tuesday, because — is the argument that if Donald Trump had more time, he wouldn’t be as appealing as he is?

DAVID BROOKS: I have been saying that for eight months, so, you know, I — no, he’s…


GWEN IFILL: And you have not been proved right yet.


DAVID BROOKS: It’s coming, sometimes in eight years, when he’s out of office.

No, it’s — I don’t — you know, he’s just dominant. He’s dominant with moderate voters. He’s dominant with downscale voters. But he’s pretty dominant with upscale voters. He’s beating people among Latino voters, at least those folks who vote in Republican primaries.

He’s just amazingly dominant. And it’s fascinating. The whole world is — whole media world is hating on him, John Oliver and everybody else. It’s having no effect, no measurable effect.

GWEN IFILL: I want to just piggyback back to that, because it seems interesting to me, David, that Republicans are becoming more conservative, Democrats, according to exit polls we have already seen tonight, are becoming more liberal, and the twain isn’t meeting here at all.

DAVID BROOKS: Yes. No, that’s true, though Trump shows that there was more ideological flexibility in the Republican Party than we would have thought.

Here’s a guy who is praising Planned Parenthood, whose policies on health care are almost Sanders-esque sometimes. And so all the orthodox candidates, Bobby Jindal, gone.


DAVID BROOKS: And Ted Cruz is now the closest thing.

So, the couple races that I think are interesting to look at, obviously Texas. If Cruz loses, he’s gone. But if he wins, he hangs around. Georgia and Virginia, maybe there is some hope there we see somebody with a strong second-place finish, but, mostly, if the polls are anywhere close to correct, we’re just looking for strong second-place finishes in a couple…

JUDY WOODRUFF: But, Mark, the question people keep asking is, what else could Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio or any one of the other candidates who dropped out on the Republican side, what could they have done to have nicked or stopped or slowed down Donald Trump?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, they could have engaged him.

I mean, let’s be very blunt about it. Jeb Bush, now departed from the race, was the only candidate who showed really any courage, any directness in confronting Donald Trump and was aggressive.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But look where it got him.

MARK SHIELDS: Now, Rubio did, in an act of desperation, very well. Don’t get me wrong. He did a Donald Trump on Donald Trump, is what he did.

I mean, when we start to get into the size of hands as a question of presidents’ qualifications, I mean, then we have really descended. And we have followed — we can’t say that Donald Trump has not elevated the discourse in this.

So, no, I just — I think they gave him a ride. The rest of them were sniping at each other. Cruz was on Rubio. And they were back and forth, and at Jeb and so forth. But, I mean, nobody other than Jeb Bush took him on, and now the questions have been raised, whether it’s Trump University. It’s all been out there, Judy. That is not new information.

If somebody — the oppo research of every campaign had it, but no one wanted to bell the cat or beard the lion or whatever you want to — however you want to describe it.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Our friend Amy Walter was here last night. And among other things, she said that if Donald Trump does as well as people expect him to tonight, it will be an implosion for the Republican Party, it will no longer be what it ever was.

Do you agree with her on that, David?


I mean, we have never seen a candidate at all like him. He’s not a conservative by any principle. He’s not a policy wonk. He has no policies and proposals. He has — and he has, frankly, racial attitudes that remind you of the ugliness of an earlier era of a different country.

And so that’s just a gigantic shift for a party. And people are upset with the establishment. I realize that. But that doesn’t mean the authoritarian solution is the solution. But there has been a rising sense of authoritarianism in the American people, which has been measurable in polls for a number of years, and now it’s finding its political efflorescence.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Let’s talk about the Democrats for a minute, Mark.

Hillary Clinton is looking like she’s in pretty solid shape. But Bernie Sanders says he’s not walking away. He says he’s staying in this race until the end. He’s been running around the country campaigning everywhere. What does he represent for her at this point?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, he represents her hope and salvation.

I mean, Hillary Clinton was a great candidate in 2008, when she was beaten, when she was an underdog, fighting back against Barack Obama, who was headed as a steamroller toward the nomination. That brought out the — the Clintons do not do well in political prosperity. They don’t do well when unchallenged.


MARK SHIELDS: And she became a better candidate after she lost New Hampshire. Bernie Sanders raised $40 million last month.


MARK SHIELDS: I mean, that is phenomenal. That is almost three times as much as Hillary Clinton made — raised in the month of January.

I mean, so he represents, I think, a hope for her, in the sense that there’s a competition that continues. If he wins a couple of states tonight, which they’re holding out hope that they can, he’s certainly alive. He’s got an intense and passionate following. And I think it’s — she’s now referring to him again as her esteemed colleague, which is an indication she thinks…

GWEN IFILL: Because she’s attacking Trump instead.

MARK SHIELDS: But the reason she has got this big league is because of the Democratic Party’s equivalent of the House of Lords, which is what the superdelegates are.

I mean, if you were once the Democratic leader of the city council in Minneapolis, you’re going to be a super delegate, I mean, for no other deserving reason. And so she’s got an enormous lead among them, so leading among the House of Lords. And the question is, can you win primaries? And she’s done pretty darn well recently.

GWEN IFILL: Are Democrats hoping for and are Republicans fearing the potential for a third party, that Republicans say, we can’t have this? We have had some leaders say that already. “I will not vote for either of them.”

And then finding someone to anoint and come to the rescue — and Democrats, of course, would love that.

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I still don’t think it would happen. Obviously, Michael Bloomberg is the obvious case.

But the states are basically partisan. The parties — people are basically locked into their party ideology, even if Donald Trump is the nominee. So the idea that Mike Bloomberg or some third-party candidate…

GWEN IFILL: Mitt Romney?

DAVID BROOKS: That would be a total implosion for the Republican Party.


DAVID BROOKS: I doubt even he could carry any states, and then, even if they did, it would just get thrown to the House of Representatives. And a body made of entirely of Republicans and Democrats is not going to elect a non-Republican or Democrat. So, I think there will be no third party.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But isn’t it not really clear which part of the Republican Party Donald Trump doesn’t represent?

Because they’re — you hear very conservative Republicans saying they don’t like him, and you hear more moderate Republicans saying they don’t like him. So, who do you run to satisfy the rest of the Republican Party?

MARK SHIELDS: I — I think that’s a very legitimate question.

He is — whatever else he is, he’s his own man. He walks where he chooses to walk. He doesn’t truckle before any particular constituency in the Republican Party. I don’t care who it is. So, in that sense, it’s a strength.

The problem that Republicans, the sense of panic among Republicans in Washington is that he will be a disaster in November and take with him the Republican control of the Senate and a lot of — put in jeopardy a lot of moderate Republican House seats.

And so that’s what they’re anxious about. They think that this is not a man who is going to win a majority of the country in a presidential election in November.

GWEN IFILL: You know, winners or losers aside, how would you guys assess the tone of this campaign in the last couple of weeks?

It’s certainly nothing like we have ever seen, and I wonder if you think that’s for good or ill.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And we won’t let you repeat anything you have heard.

GWEN IFILL: Nothing.



It’s for ill. The Democratic side is fine. It’s a normal race. You have sort of moderate vs. a lefty. But the way the Republicans are going after each other and the screaming, to me, some — there was a pivot point, which is why I think this is such a big moment in American politics. It was the first debate.

Donald Trump had already attacked Carly Fiorina for the way she looked. He then turned to Rand Paul and said, “I’m not going to attack him for the way he looks, but there’s a lot to work with there.”


DAVID BROOKS: And so, at that moment, a lot of taboos just crumbled and dissolved. And we entered a new world.

As I have said on this program before, Donald Trump spent 25 years in the world of professional wrestling, and he just brought that style. And it happened to play. This is not about policy. This is about manners. He was against the manners that we have assumed to be the manners of the public discourse. And he’s dissolved them all. And it’s paid off for him so far.

GWEN IFILL: And, in the end, it wasn’t just him doing it.

DAVID BROOKS: Oh, absolutely. People had to go there.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Rubio followed him right down that path.


MARK SHIELDS: Rubio got bigger crowds and more enthusiasm, a bigger reaction when he started doing it, too.

I would compare it to the impeachment, the language. You almost had to get the children out of the room when the news came on in impeachment.

JUDY WOODRUFF: You mean the Bill Clinton…

MARK SHIELDS: Bill Clinton’s impeachment and all the surrounding events and testimony there.

But that was mercifully over. You know, it happened, and then it was resolved. And then we didn’t have — this is heroin in the bloodstream, I mean, because politics is the most imitative of all human activities, with the possible exception of political journalism.


MARK SHIELDS: And, you know, people win elections. And if you used a blue bumper sticker to win, my goodness, I’m going to use a blue bumper sticker.

And this is going to be it. Donald Trump is going to be — you know, you steal a hot stove and go back to the smoke, you’re a child molester, you’re whatever else, I mean, he’s just kind of taken all standards and removed them.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And it’s working.

MARK SHIELDS: And it’s working. I mean, that’s it. That’s why I say it’s like success is emulated.


Well, Mark Shields, David Brooks, we will be talking to you and watching you, I don’t know, eat your words or whatever.


GWEN IFILL: Thank you.

Tune in tonight for more Shields and Brooks, as I just said, plus the latest results this Super Tuesday. We will have special PBS “NewsHour” coverage at 11:00 p.m. Eastern.

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Shields and Ponnuru on Christie endorsing Trump and the 10th GOP debate

Author: PBS NewsHour
Sat, Feb 27, 2016


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JUDY WOODRUFF: And that brings us to Shields and Ponnuru. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and Ramesh Ponnuru of “The National Review.”

David Brooks is away.

And, welcome, gentlemen.

MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist: Thank you, Judy.

RAMESH PONNURU, The National Review: Thank you.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, hold that thought about the Democrats and about South Carolina. I want to ask you about that.

But, Mark, I have to start with the Donald Trump endorsement by Chris Christie today. What did you make of this, the timing of it, the fact of it?

MARK SHIELDS: Judy, the old line of Speaker Tip O’Neill, who said all politics is local, all politics is personal.

Chris Christie, who was going to be the “tell it like it is” candidate in 2016, was eclipsed totally by Donald Trump, and blames his defeat, where he concentrated all his effort, energy, attention and resources in New Hampshire, where he finished sixth, he blames it on Marco Rubio’s super PAC, which ran a negative ad on Christie as Christie was just starting to get some traction in that state which highlighted Chris Christie’s physical embrace of the president of the United States, Barack Obama, who was bringing aid to the devastated state of New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy, just prior to the election of 2012, and mentioned the nine credit lowering rating — the times that the state’s credit rating had been lowered in Chris Christie’s administration.

And he — it was really quite personal why he endorsed Donald Trump. He said he’s known him and all the rest of it. I think that’s essentially the reason.

JUDY WOODRUFF: You’re saying payback.

RAMESH PONNURU: Well, Christie spoke about Rubio negatively almost as much as he spoke positively about Donald Trump today.

MARK SHIELDS: That’s exactly right.

RAMESH PONNURU: I think that the endorsement helps Chris — excuse me — helps Trump in two ways. It also helps Christie.

But it helps Trump in two ways. One is, it signals that it’s OK for elected Republican officials to support him. And, in fact, right after he did, Maine’s Governor Paul LePage, who had endorsed Christie, went ahead and endorsed Trump too.

And the second thing it does is, it takes the coverage away from questions about his university defrauding people, away from his hiring illegal immigrants, and puts it onto his momentum, which is where he needs it to be.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Which is all about last night’s debate, which was a remarkable spectacle, Mark Shields.

I don’t know that we have seen anything — I guess we haven’t seen anything like it in this cycle.


JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you account for Rubio and Cruz finally coming out and going after Donald Trump?

MARK SHIELDS: Desperation.

Donald Trump now stands on the cusp of Super Tuesday. Just a little check of history, this in — the Southeastern Conference, SEC primaries, these are states that include Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma.


MARK SHIELDS: Oklahoma and Tennessee.

But these states were all won by the previous winners of the Iowa caucus, Mike Huckabee or Rick Santorum, by one or both of them. They’re states with large evangelical populations. There, cultural and religious candidates expect to do well.

We recall that this was going to be where Ted Cruz of Texas ran up the score.


MARK SHIELDS: And what do we find out is going on prior to the debate last night? That, in all these states, Donald Trump, the most aggressively secular candidate running in either party, is, in fact, leading.

So there had to be a sense of stopping him. The biggest winner of the night, in my judgment, were former President George H.W. Bush and first lady Barbara Bush, who honored their obligation to show up in their hometown at a time when they accepted expecting that their son Jeb would be one of the main competitors, and they still graciously showed up. And they just deserve…

JUDY WOODRUFF: We saw them seated in the back of the room.

MARK SHIELDS: They just deserve, I think, our admiration and respect.

But I just thought it was remarkable. I will just close by quickly saying Marco Rubio showed something that had been missing this entire campaign, humor. There had been no humor. It had been a humorless campaign in both sides. And I thought he really did it very well, in a natural way, comfortable in his own skin, and really put Donald Trump right back on his heels.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But it certainly was at the expense of Donald Trump.

Did Rubio damage Donald Trump last night with some of these very, very tough comments, Ramesh, about the fact that he inherited his money, what he did with so-called Trump University and on and on?

RAMESH PONNURU: Maybe even more surprising than how well Donald Trump has been doing in the Republican primaries has been that he has faced almost no real resistance in the debates or in the ad war so far.

And that ended last night, and I thought Senator Rubio did do a good job, and Senator Cruz did as well to a lesser extent, in pointing out all of the many vulnerabilities that Trump has on the questions of, does he really tell it like it is? Is he really on your side?

The question, of course, is, is it too late?

JUDY WOODRUFF: And is it? What do you think?

RAMESH PONNURU: Well, it’s the — by drowning it out with the Christie endorsement, that, I think, shows you that the Trump people thought that it was a potential problem, because it’s not as though Christie makes sense in terms of swaying voters in Alabama, Tennessee and Texas.


RAMESH PONNURU: That is because he is at risk of suffering in the polls everywhere because of this onslaught of attacks.

JUDY WOODRUFF: You’re saying they did this to move the bad performance or not the strongest performance in the debate.

RAMESH PONNURU: Yes, I think the timing of it makes the most sense.


MARK SHIELDS: Well, I think it was trying to change the story, no question about it.

But what was interesting, Judy, was that Marco Rubio, who had been terminally nervous the last time we had seen him in New Hampshire, not South Carolina, but New Hampshire, in suffering from chronic thirstiness and all the rest of it in that debate there, came on last night, and what he did was he out-Trumped Trump.

He bullied the bully. He used Trump’s tactics, got right up in his face, used mocking humor, wouldn’t let him finish a sentence, and really took Trump’s game away from Trump, and, I mean, changed himself in the process.

But it does show you Trump’s game plan is seen by even his adversaries as the winning game plan, that is, the New York values, in your face. Same to you.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So does it help? Mark, does it help Marco Rubio? Does it hurt Donald Trump? Is it too late?

MARK SHIELDS: We will find out. We will find out, certainly, the early indication on that, on Tuesday, Judy.

But I just think you had — your perception of Marco Rubio had to change. I think your perception of Donald Trump had to change last night. I mean, this was Donald Trump on the defensive saying, when he was asked about the Trump University, I have won most of those lawsuits.

Now, that hardly sounds like somebody who’s founding Amherst or Wesleyan or Notre Dame, saying with pride. So, I just — I thought he was very much on the defensive.

RAMESH PONNURU: When is the last time you heard a presidential candidate boast about being audited, as though that were a defense of…

JUDY WOODRUFF: And why he’s not putting his tax returns out.

RAMESH PONNURU: Right. Exactly.

It was important for Rubio not to just land a punch on Trump in order to take him down. It was also to address this lingering concern that Republicans have that maybe he’s not tough enough.


RAMESH PONNURU: So, I do think it doesn’t just hurt Trump, but also helps Rubio.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let me ask you about Ted Cruz, though, because this is the one other Republican besides Donald Trump who has won a contest.

MARK SHIELDS: That’s right.

JUDY WOODRUFF: He won the Iowa caucuses. Marco Rubio hasn’t won anything yet.

MARK SHIELDS: That’s right.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark, everybody’s saying Cruz has to win his home state of Texas. Do you agree with that?


JUDY WOODRUFF: What else does he need to do right now?

MARK SHIELDS: He has to win. Well, I think he has to win another state.

But you’re right about Marco Rubio. Marco Rubio has yet to win anywhere. And he’s, according to polls, trailing in his home state, where there have been already been, I found out today, 200,000 early ballots cast. And it’s hard to believe…


MARK SHIELDS: And in Florida.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Oh, in Florida.

MARK SHIELDS: Already in Florida, which is not until the 15th.

And the speculation is that a pretty sizable proportion of those are Trump votes at this point. So, Donald Trump has changed the Republican electorate. He’s increased it. He’s increased it dramatically. He’s brought people in.

And so Marco Rubio has to win somewhere. He certainly has to win in Florida, but — his home state. And I just think the same thing is true for John Kasich in his home state. If he’s not going to win his home state, I think he will get out before losing his home state, which Rick Santorum, you will recall, did in 2012 before the Pennsylvania primary, which is — it’s just an embarrassment to lose your home state.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Ramesh, where do you see the path for Cruz? And what about John Kasich?

RAMESH PONNURU: Well, because of the calendar, Senator Cruz faces this home state test before Kasich and Rubio do.

So, if he loses Texas on Tuesday, then I think that it becomes very hard for him to stay in the race. He was supposed to do well in a lot of states on Tuesday…

MARK SHIELDS: That’s right.

RAMESH PONNURU: … but especially Texas would be a problem.

The stakes aren’t quite as high for Rubio, but let’s not forget, we’re not just talking about momentum at this point. We’re talking about actual delegates. And people do start to be — need to start winning some of these delegates.


MARK SHIELDS: If he wins Massachusetts and Alabama, he being Trump, that is quite an achievement.

And he’s running ahead in both those states. Can you imagine two states more demographically and ideologically different, even to Republicans. But, I mean, so he’s showing strength at this point that the others have to disprove.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Let’s talk about the Democrats.

You just heard our report from South Carolina last night.

MARK SHIELDS: I did. Excellent report.


But, Mark, my question is, where does the Democratic race stand? Hillary Clinton right now way ahead in the polls in South Carolina. Bernie Sanders’ people themselves don’t expect him to win. They’re focusing on Super Tuesday. What is — who needs to do what at this point?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, she needs a convincing victory, but she also more than anything else has to demonstrate enthusiasm, some passion on the part of voters.

The Democratic turnout has been down, in spite of the excitement generated by Bernie Sanders among younger voters, especially in New Hampshire and Iowa. But it’s been down.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Compared to the Republicans.

MARK SHIELDS: Compared to 2008, and the Republican is up.


MARK SHIELDS: And that is an early indicator of where both parties are in any given presidential year, when there is that kind of intensity and passion on one side and the absence of it.

So, I think Senator — Secretary Clinton has to demonstrate that she is able to generate enthusiasm, intensity, passion. I think she has to win decisively there, no more four-point, five-point victories, a la Nevada.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And cutting right into Super Tuesday, which is just a few days away.

MARK SHIELDS: Yes. That’s right.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Ramesh, how do you see the Democratic — the challenge both that Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders face?

RAMESH PONNURU: Well, the problem for Senator Sanders is not just that he is so far behind in South Carolina. It’s that he is behind because he’s not doing well with African-Americans.

And that is a sign of his great weakness in these primary contests. You can’t win the Democratic nomination if you can’t get a lot of African-American votes.

The problem for Hillary Clinton is that there’s no putting Senator Sanders away. That is, I think he got into the race as a cause candidate, as somebody who wanted to make a point. And then it became possible for him maybe to win. If it stops being possible for him to win, his original rationale doesn’t disappear, and there is no reason for him to drop out of the race. He just stays in there and makes his point.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But you’re not saying we’re at that point now, are you?

RAMESH PONNURU: I’m not. but I’m saying that even if Clinton does very well in South Carolina, it just causes him to go back to protest mode.

It doesn’t mean that he’s — I think there is no reason for him to drop out because he’s angling for a Cabinet appointment in the Clinton administration, the way a normal primary candidate would be.

MARK SHIELDS: Two quick points to support Ramesh’s central point.

First is that Democrats have proportional representation. So, Bernie Sanders, with 40 percent of the delegates at the Democratic Convention, and if that’s the case in Philadelphia, what does he want? Does he want a platform? Does he want Hillary Clinton…

JUDY WOODRUFF: Because you expect him to win some contests.

MARK SHIELDS: Oh, I expect him to win.

JUDY WOODRUFF: More contests.

MARK SHIELDS: Even if it goes the best way for Clinton from this point forward, yes, I do think he will win states and he will surprise us.

But I say that because this gives him enormous leverage, and he does — and the other — second thing is, you already see Senate candidates, Democratic Senate candidates echoing and mimicking his words and his issues, talking about the economy being rigged in the very language that Bernie Sanders has used.

So he’s already having an impact and an influence far beyond what anybody expected, perhaps even himself, when this began.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Coming out of her Nevada win last weekend, Ramesh, Bernie Sanders says words to the effect, Hillary Clinton is already adopting some of what we believe, so that’s already taking place.

RAMESH PONNURU: That’s right.

She’s talked about having a public option in health care again. And that is, I think, the Sanders influence.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Ramesh Ponnuru, Mark Shields, it couldn’t get any more exciting than it is right now. Thank you both.

MARK SHIELDS: Thank you, Judy.

RAMESH PONNURU: Thanks for having me.

MARK SHIELDS: Thank you, Judy.

The post Shields and Ponnuru on Christie endorsing Trump and the 10th GOP debate appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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Shields and Brooks on Trump v. Pope and Scalia’s Supreme Court successor

Author: PBS NewsHour
Sat, Feb 20, 2016

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JUDY WOODRUFF: Tight races in South Carolina and Nevada, the intersection of politics and religion, and a congressional battle brewing over an eventual Supreme Court nominee.

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

Gentlemen, welcome.

MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist: Judy.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Good to see you.

So, David, today, it’s Apple. Yesterday, it was the pope. Who gets the better of this exchange between Donald Trump and the pontiff?

DAVID BROOKS, New York Times Columnist: Everything sacred in our world is being attacked.

I think it’s an accumulation of things for Trump. It’s — you start the week attacking George Bush and the Iraq War. You call everybody a liar. Then you have the pope thing. Then you have the Apple thing.

The question is, will fatigue ever set in? And some of the polls suggest no. In some the polls, he’s still doing solidly. But there are another set of polls. There’s a stream of polls, including the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, which suggest it’s beginning to hurt him and that he’s beginning to slide. There is some exhaustion factor.

So I don’t think it’s one thing that’s — but it’s the accumulation of bombast. And there may be this — we may be getting to the moment — and I thought he was completely unhinged in the debate Saturday night — where that begins to have some telling effect.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you see some of the magic maybe dissipating from Donald Trump?

MARK SHIELDS: Yes, I agree with David, first of all, on the debate.

My only explanation for it is, he was unnerved by the public booing. And the booing was so sustained. And this is a man who feeds off the adulation of his own rallies. There’s no way in the world you planned going into a national debate for Republicans on national television that you were going to suggest — charge, not suggest — charge that the last Republican president of the United States not only knew that there were no weapons of mass destruction, but took the country into war knowing that.

So, it was just — it was really bizarre, beyond. As far as the pope is concerned, it will come as an enormous surprise to Donald Trump that the pope has probably no idea who he is. The question was, what about someone who advocates building walls, rather than building bridges, and closes off any access or really compassion to those who are suffering from forced migration and the dispossessed?

And the pope said, that’s un-Christian, and I think by just about any definition. There is an iron rule in American politics about the clergy, whether it’s the pope or a rabbi or a minister. And that is, they should never interfere in politics, unless they — the one exception being when they agree with me and my side.


MARK SHIELDS: So I think that, after John McCain and Mexicans and Muslims and Megyn Kelly, the pope — I wouldn’t put Apple in the same category as a sympathetic institution.


MARK SHIELDS: But, at some point, the accumulation of the people he has just not only made enemies with, but denigrated, I think, becomes a weight too heavy for his candidacy.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, maybe another problem for Donald Trump, David, is the endorsement of Marco Rubio by the Governor Nikki Haley in South Carolina. Does something like that help Rubio? Does it move him?

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I think, in general, endorsements don’t matter, but in this case it matters, I think, in part because of the debate performance from a couple of weeks ago where his campaign seemed to be in decline. This helps revive the story that he’s on the rebound.

And, indeed, if you look at the polls, he’s on the rebound. To me, the most interesting story on the Republican side, unless the polls are completely wrong, Trump will probably win. But Rubio could beat Cruz for second. They seem neck and neck in most of the polls.

And if Ted Cruz comes in second in South Carolina, an evangelical-heavy state, a pretty conservative state, that says something about — that says something serious about the Cruz candidacy.

JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you see the Rubio/Cruz thing? Cruz has been — gotten in trouble, as Lisa just reported, Mark, over those TV spots he’s been running. And he has really been in a tough back-and-forth with both Trump and with Rubio.

MARK SHIELDS: Did anybody notice that they were shaking hands with their left hands? That’s how bad that was. It was really a lousy Photoshop job, in addition to being cheap and tawdry politics.

I think that, as a general rule, endorsements, unless it’s the spouse of one candidate endorsing the opponent…


MARK SHIELDS: … really don’t — people don’t quite say, I was undecided. I was either going to vote between Kennedy and Nixon, but the lieutenant governor endorsed Nixon, so I’m going to vote for him.

But it’s a very personal — but I do think Nikki Haley may be the exception. She’s one of the — she’s 4-1 favorable among Republican voters. She has a favorable rating among African-American voters, rare for any Republican in the country, let alone one in South Carolina.

And it’s just really — I think it does give him a little narrative that — with Tim Scott and Trey Gowdy, that he is on the rebound and coming back.

If, in fact, Ted Cruz, having won Iowa and finished third in New Hampshire — and it was expected that once they went below the Mason-Dixon Line, you were getting into his favorable territory — if he finishes third, I think it’s a real setback for him.

JUDY WOODRUFF: I have to ask you both about Jeb Bush, one of the so-called establishment trio. David, he had his brother the former president in there. He had his mother, Barbara Bush, as we just reported, in there. What’s going on with Jeb Bush? Is this helping him?

DAVID BROOKS: The press thought Bush was coming back until — and he’s — I think if he hangs around 10, he can stay in until Florida. He’s got the money.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Ten percent. Yes.

DAVID BROOKS: I think he’s performing well.

People have sort of closed their mind, but if he falls down to around 5 or 6, you know, then, nationally, he’s at 4, so that’s not good. And so I think he can hang around, just because I — he may feel…


JUDY WOODRUFF: Even if he comes in fourth or fifth?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, I see Mark frowning at me. And I hate to — now I have the lord judgment upon me.


DAVID BROOKS: But I still think he feels called to hit back at Trump. I think he would hate to think that he wasn’t there to hit back at Trump.

He, of course, would hurt the anti-Trump cause by getting out, but I’m sure that’s not how he feels in his heart.


That Wall Street Journal/NBC poll that David cited did an interesting thing. They did matchups if it did come down to two candidates, if it were Marco Rubio against Trump, or it were Ted Cruz against Trump. And both of them would beat Trump by 16 points, which is pretty impressive, 56-40.

So there is a real ceiling Donald Trump has. The one candidate Donald Trump did beat in a matchup was Jeb Bush. And I just think, at some point, it becomes just obvious.

JUDY WOODRUFF: You mean in a head-on-head, head-to-head.


MARK SHIELDS: Do you want to go home to Florida, where you were a successful and popular two-term governor, and lose, and especially if Marco Rubio, the mentee, gets the boost out of South Carolina, and the mentor — having finished sixth in Iowa, fourth in New Hampshire, I mean, do you really continue with another fourth in South Carolina?

I think it becomes awfully difficult, almost painful.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Let me move you quickly to the Democrats.

Nevada, they’re voting in those caucuses tomorrow. David, both of you said last week words to the effect that you don’t see Hillary Clinton has a rationale to her candidacy. Seven days later, do you still feel the same way?


She’s gone more aggressively in trying to use identity politics to trump class politics, which I don’t think is a good strategy in 2016. This is a very economic class war they’re having. And secondly, the interesting thing about what’s happening in Nevada is that it’s close. It didn’t seem that way several weeks ago.

And that’s because Sanders has done well with Latinos. And it’s interesting. There is a difference between the way Latino voters are reacting and African-American voters, especially in South Carolina. The African-Americans are still pretty solidly behind Clinton, but the Latino voters are not.

And so, assuming he does — ties or even wins, the question will be whether people in South Carolina in African-American communities, in other communities are willing to take another look at him, because there’s a lot of people who really haven’t focused on him yet.

And so, if he does win Nevada, that changes the storyline and gives him just another — just another step up of what has been a series of pretty good steps over the last six weeks.

JUDY WOODRUFF: What do you see going on with Clinton-Sanders?

MARK SHIELDS: I wish I could disagree with David.

I think that Bernie Sanders right now is in a period of momentum. And I think what’s interesting, Hillary Clinton since April has slipped in overall polling by the Wall Street Journal/NBC poll — they put up of their surveys together — with every demographic group, I mean, across the board, age, income, education, gender, nationality, but particularly among Latinos, which there is no explanation for it.

And her campaign, when New Hampshire looked sort of dreary, had boasted openly that they had a 25-point lead in Nevada, raising expectations. As far as her rationale, it’s basically it’s Hillary’s turn. She’s strong. She’s tested. We live in a dangerous world, and she’s ready, and you need somebody there who is steady and ready.

Or the third one is, do you want Barack Obama’s third term? I promise you, I will give that.

That seems to me to be the rationale for her candidacy at this point.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And she was making what appeared to be an effort to nail down her strong position on immigration, on supporting…

MARK SHIELDS: Yes. She did have one great spot — I don’t know if you have seen it — where the little Latino girl…


MARK SHIELDS: Yes. Her parents are going to be deported. And Hillary Clinton shows a kindness and a compassion, a soft side, which I think has been missing totally from her candidacy.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally, I want to come to the death of the Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

David, reflections on him before we talk about the politics of it?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, he was a joyous spirit, poker player, cigar, wine.

So, if you want to convert people to your side, you can issue court opinions, but be a pleasant spirit. And I’m really impressed by the court. We have so much polarization. They generally are friends with each other and they work hard on that. It’s a very impressive institution.

MARK SHIELDS: Yes. He — Abner Mikva, former congressman from Illinois, member of the Court of Appeals, remember, when he was nominated, he said he had served…




When Antonin Scalia was nominated to the Supreme Court, he said, great guy, just a terrific guy. I disagree with him on everything.

And I think that was it. He never let the disagreements define any relationship. And the one with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, you see the two of them laughing and thoroughly enjoying each other in an open and natural way, which is refreshing in Washington in this particular era.

JUDY WOODRUFF: I think you could see that as they were standing there today at the Supreme Court.

There may not have been disagreements that way, but there certainly are disagreements politically, David, over what’s going to happen now. The president says he’s going to nominate someone. The Senate Republican leadership is saying, well, we’re not going to confirm them. We may not even consider.

DAVID BROOKS: Yes. Well, of course they should consider. He is president. And the Constitution says the president nominates, and the Constitution is there to put rules around our struggles for power.

John Marshall was nominated by John Adams, like, after the election had already happened. And so I think it’s totally fair. And the Republicans are going to probably get away with not doing anything.

And, to me, what it will do — and I don’t know the effect of this — it will polarize the bases. It will create more conflict. It will elevate the social issues on the Republican side. It will elevate campaign finance on the Democratic side. And so it will probably have a polarizing effect on the election.

If the candidacies are strong, it would probably help a Cruz and a Sanders because of the issues that would get elevated.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Less than 30 seconds.

MARK SHIELDS: Oh, I think Senator McConnell could only have been trying to appeal to the restive, restless, angry Republican primary voters who are so disappointed in the Republicans in Congress, that they said they haven’t overturned, they have been rolled by Obama. He was going to step out.

Before the body was cold, before condolences were offered to the family, he announced that there would be — regardless, made no difference whom the president nominated. It was — and he got a number of Republicans in tough races to follow him, I mean, Senator Ayotte in New Hampshire, Senator Portman in Ohio, Senator Johnson in Wisconsin.

They’re all — they made a big mistake. That is not the American tradition. And I think it was a misstep politically.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And you get the last word.

Mark Shields, David Brooks, we thank you both.

The post Shields and Brooks on Trump v. Pope and Scalia’s Supreme Court successor appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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