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

Shields and Brooks - NewsHour with Jim Lehrer - PBS Podcast

by Jim Lehrer

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

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How did President Trump fare in his first day on the job?

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Jan 20, 2017


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JUDY WOODRUFF: So, what to make of this day one of the Trump presidency?

Here with me now are NewsHour regulars syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks, and from our politics Monday team, Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report. Also joining us, Barry Bennett. He was campaign manager for Ben Carson in the Republican primaries. He then served as an adviser to the Trump campaign.

From George Washington University, politics scientist Lara Brown. Karine Jean-Pierre, she was a senior adviser to MoveOn.org during the 2016 elections. And Matt Schlapp, he is chair of the American Conservative Union. He joins us from downtown Washington.

We can see the Capitol behind you, Matt.

So, let me start with the NewsHour regulars, Mark Shields and David Brooks.

David, I will start with you.

What is the main takeaway from this day?

DAVID BROOKS: I feel underdressed.



MARK SHIELDS: You have got that blue-collar Republican look.

DAVID BROOKS: It’s the new populist moment.


DAVID BROOKS: The story of the day was the really unabashed populism and nationalism of the Trump speech.

And so I’m left with two big questions: How big is this nationalist moment? It’s been spread around the world. Theresa May just gave an anti — how they’re going to withdraw from Brexit, the U.K. Le Pen is looking good in France. Putin is riding high.

There’s an international movement. A lot of sort of dismiss as sort of a product of a receding bit of history, but maybe it’s the 21st century. And maybe Trump is riding something, and he will be able to marshal a left-right populist movement. That’s a possibility we should be open to, especially because the anti-populists, people who believe in global trade and global movements, have no guts, no articulation, and really no opposition.

And then the second thing, how is he going to turn this into policy? How does an outsider who runs against Washington actually rally Washington to launch his agenda? That’s just a gigantic challenge.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark Shields?

MARK SHIELDS: In 1940, there were 137 million people in the United States of America and — 132 million — and there were 600,000 more factory jobs than there are today.

There were eight million more factory jobs in this country than when Jimmy Carter was president of the United States. So, Donald Trump represents a real grievance, a real constituency.

But what I could not get over in the speech today — and I don’t know what the global impact or meaning is, but I do know that it was unlike any inaugural address I have ever heard. It was a call to arms to those already enlisted in his army. There was no attempt to reach across the divide. There was no attempt to heal wounds. There was no attempt to reassure or allay fears of those who were apprehensive and not supported him.

So, in that sense, it was almost unique, at least in the speeches I have heard. And it was an unbridled attack upon those presidents spoke of who were — in William’s piece who were sitting on the dais with him, having praised the Obamas in one sentence for being magnificent, and then saying that this small group who have profited in Washington have been indifferent, and almost cruelly so, to the rest of the country.

So, I just stand in the midnight in America, American carnage, which is, I think, soon-to-be canceled TV series, but I just have never heard language quite like it or a tone quite like it in an inaugural address.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Matt Schlapp, since you’re so well-dressed, I’m going to call on you next.


JUDY WOODRUFF: What did you hear? What are you taking away?

MATT SCHLAPP, Chairman, American Conservative Union: Boy, I just — what I would say to Mark is, is that I think one of the things that was ironic is, you had Donald Trump up on that dais, who hasn’t been a Republican for very long, and who is basically a function of the fact that both those parties and many of those party leaders and some of those former presidents didn’t listen to the American people.

President Obama will leave office with higher approval ratings, but still two-thirds of this nation believe that we’re on the wrong track. And I think the demonstration of the economic pain and the unrest and unease about what’s happening overseas is high.

And, really, what struck me about the address, about the speech is that he is connecting to the political moment. The political moment is not about morning. It’s about — a little bit about M-O-U-R-N-I-N-G, and the fact that there is nothing wrong with a Republican connecting to the fact that a lot of Americans are hurting.

Now, I agree you have to offer solutions and you have to be optimistic and you have to lead them someplace, but it’s important to listen to them and to connect to them. And that’s why Donald Trump is the president.


AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: Yes.

And to Matt’s point, there was a lot of Donald Trump on the campaign trail where he seemed to switch positions. We really didn’t know — and I still think we don’t know — where exactly his ideological core is.

But there was one thing that was consistent throughout. It’s the same message we saw today in his inaugural speech was the message that we saw on the campaign trial, was the message that we saw at the convention. That has never changed at all.

It’s what won him the nomination, when nobody thought he was going to be able to do that. And it’s what won him the presidency, when, quite frankly, even going into the election night, nobody really believed that he was going to be able to win this.

And so he is taking that same message and he is going to bring it to the White House with him. This was something that he truly, you know, as I said, has stuck with throughout the course of his campaign. And he believes that, if he succeeds, other people are going to join.

The reaching out is not about reaching out to say, well, I’m going to take other people’s opinions and views. It’s, I’m going to do so well, I’m going to be so — we’re going to make America so great, that people who oppose me now are going to have to come on board.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Is that what’s going to happen, Karine Jean-Pierre, somebody who worked against his election?

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, Democratic Strategist: Yes, look, it was — and I said this before — it was very disappointing.

It was a right-wing nationalism speech. It was very reminiscent of the RNC convention speech, when he accepted his nomination, had that dooms and glooms type of feel. And I think the most disappointing part of it was, there are people here who are genuinely fearful because of the type of campaign that he ran and the people that he insulted.

And he didn’t do anything to mend those wounds. And, as president, that’s what people look to our leader to do. And I think he missed a really important opportunity as we were going through the peaceful transfer of power.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Barry Bennett, missed an opportunity?

BARRY BENNETT, Former Trump Campaign Senior Adviser: I don’t think so.

I think beauty is in the eye of the beholder here. His supporters, me included, we don’t want to half-a-loaf, right? We want him to fight. And today was the beginning of a fight. It wasn’t the end of a campaign.

We’re going to see from the left the protests are big and energetic, and they are going to be so tomorrow. But we want him to fight back. And I think what we saw today was, Monday morning, the fight is still going to be there. And that’s what we — I think the country needs.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Should people be fearful, as Karine was just saying?

BARRY BENNETT: I don’t think so, no.

JUDY WOODRUFF: You shake your head no.


I mean, I think no. There are people here illegally. They should be fearful that they’re here illegally, because, you know, they should be deported. Or, you know, the law says they should be deported. But, I mean, if you’re here illegally, of course you’re not going to be deported. That’s silly. That’s fear-mongering.

JUDY WOODRUFF: We are looking at — we have been interspersing our conversation with pictures of that inaugural parade still going on an hour after sunset here in Washington, but it’s still going on, members of the Trump family seated at that reviewing stand just literally right in — built right in front of the White House.

We’re watching that. We’re keeping half-an-eye on the parade, but we also really want to hear what everybody here has to say.

Lara Brown, it is dark at the White House, but Donald Trump is going to bring light to America.


LARA BROWN, Director, George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management: Well, I think that that’s precisely the problem.

Maybe he is going to continue to bring the fight to Washington, but there was no acknowledgment that he had won. His party has won. One of the most important aspects of an inaugural speech is to actually end the campaign, to move beyond the campaign, to bring about a sense of reconciliation and unity with all of those who fought fiercely against you.

And I think there is also this other piece where he failed to recognize his moment in history. He didn’t acknowledge past presidents, those who are sort of lions in the pantheon of presidents, whether it’s Thomas Jefferson, or Abraham Lincoln, or George Washington. He didn’t notice or witness the ceremony as being important in history.

You know, Bill Clinton, who came to office with only 43 percent of the popular vote, began his speech by talking about how this speech takes place in the dead of winter, but that part of the words and the faces of the people are about forcing the spring, that there is a sense of renewal. And Trump didn’t provide that.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Matt Schlapp, and we should say the reason you are dressed up is because you are going to one of the inaugural balls. And I failed to point that out earlier.



MATT SCHLAPP: No, I think it — Judy, I think it’s because they think people like me live like Thurston Howell III.


JUDY WOODRUFF: What about Lara Brown’s point, though, that we didn’t hear from the new president…


JUDY WOODRUFF: … a connection to history, to his place in the grand pantheon that is the history of the United States?

MATT SCHLAPP: Look, if you want poetry, there was another candidate for you.

Donald Trump was the candidate of very blunt, realistic talk. And I think, if you look through what politicians tend to do — and, obviously, I worked for President George W. Bush in the White House, with Barry Bennett’s wife, I might say.

And there is definitely thought, great thought that goes into these speeches. But so many times, what the voters — what the voter hears and then what they see in their lives, there can be a bit of phoniness, obviously, to politics.

And I think what Donald Trump did, I think what everyone on the panel is failing to understand is that I think the biggest part of the speech was that he broke it down in very basic terms for them, and he made a pledge to them. He said he’s going to fight for them, and he’s not going to let them down.

Boy, it’s not a small pledge. This is a high bar, to me, which is he’s going to change, literally change society and change the way government does these things. And I think that it was bold for him to do that.

And I think there was a lot of people — I will tell you, I talked to a lot of people out on the street today, and they just like the fact there is an authenticity and a directness. We will see how it works over the years, but I think it’s very promising.

JUDY WOODRUFF: David Brooks, bold and authentic.

DAVID BROOKS: Utopian. He’s going to eradicate disease. He literally said that.

So, I think it was authentic. And I do think it was bold, a bold — boldest mostly on its attack on the Republican Party. It’s a party that has always — never believed in zero sum thinking. It started as the Whig Party, which was based on the idea in part that labor and capital didn’t have to fight. There was enough for all of us in the growing pie.

The Republican Party, through all its permutations, has basically believed in that. Since the Cold War, it’s believed in growth abroad is good for growth at home, democracy abroad is good for democracy at home.

That’s not an America-first philosophy. That’s not the zero-sum philosophy that we heard from Donald Trump. That’s not the combative philosophy we heard from Donald Trump.

So, it’s a stark and a bold attempt to reshape his own party. Whether he can successfully do that, I’m, frankly, dubious about. And whether he can successfully effect change in government, when he’s so anti-institutional and not even willing to embrace the institution of the presidency, it’s — again, I’m dubious about.

But bold, I give him credit for.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark Shields, just quickly, did you hear signs, signals — did you signals today that Donald Trump will be able to make the changes he says he’s going to make?

MARK SHIELDS: No, I didn’t.

I didn’t see anything unifying or uplifting in this speech. And I think that successful inaugurals in the past — I mean, they may be writing a new chapter, but I didn’t — I thought that was missing from the speech.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But you’re saying that’s what we should be judging the speech on?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, I think you have to view the speech as identifying yourself in history, acknowledging who you are, acknowledging humility, acknowledging the importance of the country and its diversity and its strength through that diversity, and your appeal to the people who didn’t support you and your pledge to them.

And I just — to me, it’s politics 101. I mean, he was playing to his base. He’s continuing to play to his base.

And if Matt isn’t too busy going to his nighttime affairs, he could tell us who the candidate of poetry was in 2016.


MARK SHIELDS: Was that Rick Perry? Did I miss it? Or was it Scott Walker? I missed it.


JUDY WOODRUFF: I wish we — do you want to answer that, just quickly?

MATT SCHLAPP: It wasn’t Hillary Clinton. It definitely wasn’t Hillary Clinton.


JUDY WOODRUFF: We will bring you back on. You can answer that. I won’t put you on the spot.

We have only got about a minute left.

Amy, I’m hearing two very different sets of views here about what Donald Trump accomplished or didn’t today.

AMY WALTER: If his goal was to — and it’s been his goal from the entire course of this campaign. He has a vision and a message about shaking up Washington. He’s going to do things differently. He’s not going to do it in a traditional manner. He doesn’t care about the trappings of this.

And you either believe that or you don’t believe that. And he will be successful based on a Washington working for him, despite the fact that he doesn’t think Washington works.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we have how many days, 365 times four, to talk about what he accomplished today and what he may accomplish in the future.

I want to thank each one of you, Mark Shields, David Brooks, Amy Walter, Lara Brown, Karine Jean-Pierre, Barry Bennett, and Matt Schlapp.

You all get a chance to come back and weigh in one more time — or many more times on this.


JUDY WOODRUFF: Thanks very much.

LARA BROWN: Thank you.


The post How did President Trump fare in his first day on the job? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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Shields and Brooks on Russian intrigue in American politics, Obama’s farewell

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Jan 13, 2017


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

And welcome to you both. There is so much to talk about, but let’s start with talking about the president-elect and Russia.

We had the news today — on top of all the confirmation that the Russians interfered in the U.S. election, today, we learned — and we talked about earlier it on the show — David, that General Michael Flynn had phone conversations with the Russian ambassador in December, several of them.

Tonight, we’re learning that the Senate Intelligence Committee is going to expand what was already an investigation into the Russian interference into in election to look at any contacts between the Trump campaign and the Russians and the Clinton campaign, although the main focus is Donald Trump.

What do we make of all this?

DAVID BROOKS: I was first struck by David Ignatius’ comment earlier in the program that they just could be trying to be destabilize the United States across the board. And that’s a — I hadn’t heard that thought before and it’s a live possibility.

Putin is someone who has been undermining the norms of what we consider the world order since he got into power and in increasing success. What’s interesting about the Trump administration is how bitterly divided they are in their attitudes towards Putin.

Steve Bannon and General Flynn have warm feelings. Putin has been — and with a lot of the groups, the conservative groups, the more extreme conservative groups that underlie Trump, he’s a bit of a hero because he speaks for traditional values, he’s against the global institutions.

They see him as someone who has been on the defensive from an aggressive E.U., an aggressive NATO. And there is a lot of sympathy there, actually.

And then, if you look at the more establishment Republicans, they see him as what I just described, subversive of the world order. And so to me the question will be, will Trump and Bannon control policy toward the foreign policy, or will everyone else basically?

And my money is on everyone else, because I think Trump’s attention span is super low. I don’t think he has the expertise to actually run a foreign policy. And at the end of the day — and I think this is a major story of the Trump administration — he’s going to want the affirmation of the establishment, as he always has.

The reason he had Clintons at his wedding because he wants that affirmation. When he gets the chance to have it, I think he will bend gradually in that direction.

JUDY WOODRUFF: How are you looking at all this?

MARK SHIELDS: Donald Trump is to traditional values what I am to marathon running.


MARK SHIELDS: It just doesn’t — it doesn’t fit.

I have to say, Judy, I am perplexed, and I think an increasing number of Republicans are perplexed and actually nervous about Donald Trump and Russia, nervous in the sense that he is gratuitously giving Democrats the national security advantage, that they’re standing up for the country.

We have testimony of General Mattis, the nominee for secretary of defense, asserting that the objective, the stated objective and the mission of Vladimir Putin’s Russia is to destabilize the North Atlantic Alliance, and he, who believes in NATO and believes it’s been one of the great alliances in modern history, that Putin represents a threat to this, that Russia today is nothing but a propaganda arm, that General Flynn went to celebrate its anniversary, sitting at Putin’s table for money, paid to show up.

So, I mean, these questions, essentially, they have just given it to the Democrats to stand up and say, wait a minute, where do you believe in this country, plus the suspicions, and real, about in fact the involvement of Russia in this election.

The question, the real moment of truth is going to arrive very shortly, a couple of weeks, when sanctions arrive on Donald Trump’s — President Donald Trump’s desk passed by a Republican Congress. Is he going to oppose those sanctions? What’s he going to do?

I just think it’s inexplicable and irrational, his policy on Russia.

DAVID BROOKS: I would say it’s a theory. He has got a theory of it, which is the theory of UKIP in the United Kingdom, the theory of Le Pen in France, which is that the global establishment has basically failed people, and that, all around the world — it’s a little like Marxism in reverse — global movement is arising that’s against these institutions which have failed people.

And Putin is part of that movement. And that’s the theory of the case. I don’t think it’s true, but they do have a theory of what is happening. And I don’t know if they will be able to enact it.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But David’s argument a moment ago, Mark, is that the establishment is going to win out because Donald Trump, he said, just can’t organize a foreign policy.

MARK SHIELDS: I don’t know.

That, of course — you know, the White House, as Warren Harding said, and I think accurately, is an alchemist. We find out the strengths, the weaknesses and the smarts and the dumbs of whoever those occupants are under the pressure of the presidency.

I don’t see — I was encouraged as a citizen by the selection of General Mattis, by the nomination of him, by the command of subject matter he displayed, and his independence, independence of thought. And so…

JUDY WOODRUFF: And we saw that from several of the…

MARK SHIELDS: We did. We did.

JUDY WOODRUFF: … choices.

MARK SHIELDS: Less convincing from some others. Mike Pompeo, who had been an advocate of waterboarding as a House member, has backed off and said, oh, Donald Trump would never — if he ever heard Donald Trump on the stump, Donald Trump was a champion of water-boarding and more, as he put it.

But, nevertheless, he did establish that rule of law.

JUDY WOODRUFF: David, just quickly, you did see a number of these Cabinet choices, and you’re referring to that, put some distance between themselves.


And I think it was — I agree with Mark. It was a good week, I think, for the country and, frankly, for the Trump administration. A lot of us expected a lot of extremely confrontational hearings this week. And that really didn’t happen. They sailed through, by and large.

And that’s because they did distance themselves. They behaved like responsible — even Tillerson, who was probably the weakest, because he just doesn’t know that much about foreign policy.

But he apparently in the private meetings with the senators has made a good impression on people. He’s a professional. He’s obviously a very intelligent, polished man. And so the other — I hate to praise Trump so much, but I have always wanted administrations to admit, yes, we have differences.

There’s always been this locked uniformity, oh, we all think alike and that, if we disagree, it’s somehow a scandal. But, yes, people have differences. And Donald Trump didn’t emerge from the orthodoxy of the Republican Party. And so there’s going to be bigger differences than normal.

And if they can have those differences out in the open, I actually think it would be kind of a good thing.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And you’re right. He tweeted today, this morning, early, that he thought it was a good thing if they spoke for themselves.

But back on Russia, quickly, Mark, the civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis of Georgia in an interview today with Chuck Todd at NBC said that Donald Trump is not — he doesn’t view Donald Trump as a legitimate president, he said, because the Russians interfered with the U.S. election. He said the results don’t represent legitimacy.

MARK SHIELDS: It’s a legitimate argument, that Russia’s involvement in our election, it’s open to question whether, in fact, it was influential, determinate.

The fact that they tried and were involved and tried to influence and subvert our democratic processes is indisputable.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, you’re saying it’s not settled?

MARK SHIELDS: I don’t — no, but I do think that there is a certain irony and perhaps a little payback in the fact that John Lewis, a certified icon of the civil rights movement, questions the legitimacy of the man who questioned the legitimacy and led the fight, falsely, unfairly, and repeatedly questioned the legitimacy of Barack Obama as president.

There is perhaps a little sense of getting even here.


DAVID BROOKS: Whatever happened to when we — they go low, we go high?

No, I think if you’re going to question the legitimacy of somebody, you better have some evidence. And John Lewis is obviously a hero. But the bias that, when we have an election result, has to be that the election results is legitimate.

And whatever the Russians did, it didn’t probably affect the outcome. If we actually have some evidence to counter that, then you can say it’s a legitimate — but the bias has always got to be to respect the process, to respect the voters and to assume, if they make a call, that some deference has to be paid, unless there is evidence.

And as I understand it, John Lewis, none of us know whether the Russian activity, which was malevolent, had any huge significant determining effect.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Two more major things I want to ask both of you about.

The first one is what Donald Trump said, Mark, this week about his business interests. He said he’s basically turning everything over to his sons, that it will be a kind of a blind trust. Did he go far enough?

MARK SHIELDS: Of course he didn’t, Judy.

He said after eight years, he will grade his sons, and if they didn’t perform well, they’re fired, sort of an offhand line, but showing that he did have a continuing interest.

There’s never been a sense of public service about this man. And I don’t think there is in this alleged arrangement. It’s anything but a blind trust. It’s a seeing-eye trust.


It’s a blind trust. I’m giving it to my closest relatives.


DAVID BROOKS: It’s not really serious.

JUDY WOODRUFF: He said he’s not going to talk to them about it.

DAVID BROOKS: Yeah, right.


DAVID BROOKS: He has a different model.

I mean, most — the way the laws are envisioned, they are for people who work in the government — or work in a private sector, and then they cut it offer and they go to public service. And that’s how you’re supposed to do it.

But he has a pre-modern monarchic family structure. His business is a monarchy with family members all around. His administration is a monarchy with family members all around. So the laws are just not going to apply to him. And he will wind up with some corruption problems, probably.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Last question is about the man who Donald Trump is succeeding as president, Mark, and that’s President Obama. He gave a farewell address in his hometown of Chicago this week. It was a call to citizens to pick up their, I think, clipboards, he said, and get involved.

MARK SHIELDS: And get out of their bubbles. I thought that was one of the more — that, in fact, we have become bubbles, whether, as David has pointed out in the past, sorting ourselves into neighborhoods, or places of worship, or campuses, or occupations.

And the venue just amazed me, why he would do a speech of this seriousness and importance in a crowd of 18,000. I understand it was Chicago and all the rest of it.

But it is a reminder that the difference today from eight years ago, the sense of hope and pride in the nation, an unrealistic hope, and perhaps unrealistic self-congratulations on his election. But he leaves at close to 60 percent approval, at a time when confidence in public institutions is at its lowest, in private institutions.

So he is a major figure going forward. And he’s 15 years younger than the man who succeeds him, and he promises to be engaged, far more than going to write his book or just go into a paint lesson.

JUDY WOODRUFF: What did he leave you with?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, I think we saw in the speech an outstanding man.

And he leaves this presidency with the respect of almost everybody as a human being. I think he will get very high marks, as he mentioned in the speech, for the handling of the financial crisis, the auto bailout, all that stuff. We’re in much better shape than we were. I think his foreign policy will be regarded more failure than success, in part because of reasons we heard earlier.

And I think, from a progressive point of view, to have a Democratic Congress and a Democratic White House, and to have spent the time on Obamacare, which had real benefits, 20 million insured, but not on inequality, was a major cost to the Democratic Party, costing them their majorities, but also a bit of a cost to the country, because it didn’t address the fundamental issues that led to Donald Trump and that led to a lot of unhappiness, just the continued widening inequality.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And inequality, you’re referring to?

DAVID BROOKS: Income inequality, social inequality, all the things that really have shaped this whole election year. It is a fact that these problems, this sense of fragmentation and segmentation happened and were exacerbated, got worse under President Obama’s…

JUDY WOODRUFF: He has seven more days in office.

And we thank both of you, David Brooks, Mark Shields.

MARK SHIELDS: Thank you, Judy.

The post Shields and Brooks on Russian intrigue in American politics, Obama’s farewell appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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Shields and Brooks on Trump’s ‘disdain’ for the intelligence community

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Jan 06, 2017


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

Happy new year, gentlemen.

MARK SHIELDS: Happy new year, Judy.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Good seeing you in 2017.

So, let’s start by talking about this intelligence report.

Mark, the entire intelligence community is behind it. They’re saying without a shadow of a doubt, in so many words, they are confident the Russians tried to interfere in the U.S. election and they developed a clear preference for Donald Trump.

What are we to make of this? Does it change the way we look at this election?

MARK SHIELDS: I don’t know if it changes the way we look at it, Judy. It certainly changes the way we look at the United States’ relationship with Russia, I think, and in this sense, that the intelligence community said it made these findings with high confidence.

Ever since the weapons of mass destruction era and the decision on invading Iraq, the intelligence community has been very, very careful to avoid high confidence. That’s saying, we really believe this to be true. They have been more tentative.

There was no question. They were unequivocal and emphatic. Every American ought to be angry, ought to be concerned that an unfriendly nation, a nation that has cooperated with us certain places, but doesn’t wish us well, sought to sabotage American democracy, American confidence in our own democratic institutions, and to influence the outcome of the election.

That’s a cause of concern and worry and anger. And I would hope that we would respond, not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans, to make sure it never happens again.

JUDY WOODRUFF: David, how should Americans look at this?

DAVID BROOKS: I agree with that, with anger, with shock.

We have sort of gotten used to the idea, because of the news leaks before this report. But the idea that Russia felt emboldened and apparently fearless to go into our election and manipulate our own election process, whether successfully or not, is a sign that they are outside the norms of normal society.

There’s always statecraft. There’s always disinformation. But this is a step up, a Russia that feels completely free to do this, a Putin who feels completely free to do this, without fear of penalty, and so far paying little penalty.

Partly, it’s motivated, I think, by animus toward Hillary Clinton, as we heard earlier in the program, things she said in 2011, 2012, partly, frankly, a desire, a belief that feeling Donald Trump will be tougher on ISIS.

But the thing that should most concern us is a shift in American foreign policy. We have had a bipartisan belief in American foreign policy based on the post-World War II institutions that believed in democratic global world, which Russia and the Soviet Union was often seen as hostile to. And most Republicans and Democrats have always basically believed in this world order.

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin and maybe Marine Le Pen do not agree with this basic structure of the world. They seem to have no respect for the institutions that were created after World War II, and they see a potential alliance of populists around the world who would fight Islam and restore a certain semblance of traditional values.

And so we could be seeing a pivot in American foreign policy that may be on the mind of Donald Trump, certainly seems to be on the mind of Steve Bannon, his ideologist. And this is a piece of that larger shift.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Mark, Donald Trump, the president-elect, does have his own reaction to this report.

I mean, you know, joining in with what David’s saying, I mean, he started out by calling it a political witch-hunt. And then after he was briefed about it, he said — he made a very short comment and said, in so many words that, well, it didn’t affect the outcome of the election.

MARK SHIELDS: As usual, he takes the big picture. In other words, I won, and anything that in any way diminishes or tarnishes my personal victory, I reject.

His disparagement, make that disdain, openly, for the American intelligence community and its work is damaging to national security. I mean, the intelligence community, for the security of our nation, for the well-being of our nation, for the economic prosperity of our nation, competitiveness, depends on sources in other places.

And other nations depend upon our intelligence. And here we have the president-elect dismissing, disparaging, disdaining openly because it somehow, in his way — his perspective, diminishes his victory, is just astonishing.


DAVID BROOKS: It’s happening on three levels, like, this story.

There is the big strategic level, which I described. Then there’s the Donald Trump ego level. And his ego is like a comet the size of Jupiter just traveling through the solar system, and we all have to be affected by its gravitational pull. So all of American foreign policy has to remind us that Donald Trump really did win this election all by himself, and nobody else could have helped, and so it was all me, me, me.

And that seems to be the center of his views. And then the third is, this is a guy who’s going to be taking over a public office, presidency of the United States. He is going to have a system built around him. He will have employees.

And he, as a public servant, will work with other public servants, presumably the intelligence community. But he seems completely uninterested in being part of this system which our founders set up. And so he seems to still be a lone wolf insulting his future employees.

And, believe me, woe to you who insults the intelligence community, if you’re president. You do not want to get on their bad side, because, A, they leak a lot. B, you actually need them to learn about the world. And he seems to be on purpose alienating the resources he’s going to have to draw upon.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And, as we just heard from John Kerry, Mark, the world is a more complicated place than it’s maybe ever been.

He talked about the number of different places that the U.S. now has to worry about its relationship with. And, right now, we’re at this critical point where we’re changing from one administration to the next. It’s always, I guess, a fraught time, but it just seems especially so this time.

MARK SHIELDS: Well, it does, and I think, in part, because of the reasons David announced, observed earlier, that the changing sort of organizing principle of postwar world and the United States. And we know, I think, probably more keenly and more acutely, the limits of our power.

If I could just add one thing to David’s observation earlier. And that is, Judy, I have lived through an awful lot of transitions from an election to inauguration. It is a period during which president-elects follow a pattern. They become more popular. What they do is, they submerge partisanship. They reach across the line. They do all sorts of symbolic things to unite the nation.

This president-elect has done just the opposite. He continued his rallies, apparently for self-gratification. He fired up his true believers. He continued to disparage and belittle his defeated opponent openly.

And toward what end? There’s been no symbolic reach. He’s had interviews, I guess, with Heidi Heitkamp, the Democratic senator from North Dakota. But there’s been no sense of any strategic sense of where the country is going or what it’s about.

Here he is tweeting about Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ratings on “The Apprentice?”

JUDY WOODRUFF: This morning.

MARK SHIELDS: He’s interfering? He’s making 12 calls into Ohio to defeat John Kasich’s Republican state chairman in the Republican state committee vote.

This is pettiness. And this is — this shows just no largeness of vision. And it’s really distressing.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And, yesterday, David, in conjunction with this, he tweeted another criticism, I guess, of the Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer. He called him the head clown in talking about the way the Democrats are handling Obama.

I did interview the vice president yesterday, who looked right into the camera and said, grow up, Donald.

You know, is that the kind of comment that’s likely to make a difference, do you think?

DAVID BROOKS: The vice president?

JUDY WOODRUFF: The vice president.


DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I’m sure Donald Trump is growing and maturing as we speak.

You know, I — we have gotten used to analyzing presidential statements in a certain way. Like, what is the policy implications? And we take them all very seriously, because, when a president speaks, as Mark said a couple of weeks ago, that usually means a lot.

But I have come to think we have to treat Donald Trump’s tweets like Snapchat. It’s just something that is going to go away. And it flies out of some region of his brain and it goes out into the ether. And usually it’s on the realm of media.

Even in his tweets of Russia, he was attacking CNN and NBC for their coverage. He’s a media commentator a lot of the time, even with Schwarzenegger. And so it will exist, and it will fill conversation for a moment. And then, like Snapchat, it will just go away.

And so I think, until he can give us something real, it’s sometimes best to just let them go with the wind.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, when he calls Chuck Schumer the head clown, Mark, we just ignore it, or…

MARK SHIELDS: Judy, what does it help? How does it possibly help? He’s going to need Chuck Schumer.

Chuck Schumer is a proud and able and dedicated and skillful leader, and you don’t want him as an opponent. You don’t want him as a sworn adversary. And he’s a formidable figure legislatively. Why do it? It’s gratuitous.

On the Joe Biden interview, of all sad words of tongue and pen, these are the saddest that might have been. We went through an election where we had the two least-liked nominees in the modern history of American polling.

And you could not watch the interview — and I commend you for it last night — with Joe Biden without saying, I like this guy. I mean, he is a thoroughly likable man. And when he says, grow up, I mean, it wasn’t said — there was nothing mean about it. It was just — it was absolutely what a grownup would say.

This was a grownup talking. And the way I thought he talked about Democratic values was missing in the campaign of 2016, sorely to the Democrats’ disadvantage, it was just a — it was a marvelous — I commend it to anybody who missed it for any reason to watch it online.

JUDY WOODRUFF: One of the things I talked to the vice president about, David, was Obamacare and what the Republicans are going to do about it.

The administration is saying they’re afraid that they can’t make any changes unless they make bad changes to it. What do you see going on with it?

DAVID BROOKS: First, on the interview, I was struck by the way he kept emphasizing the Democrats did not campaign on the dignity of the working class.



DAVID BROOKS: The policies of the Democratic Party have always been in cultural consonance with the culture of the working class. And, somehow, they missed that. And I thought he was very honest.

But also on the part of the interview — you saw a man who has been in governance, as he said, since he was 27. And when you’re in governance, you understand the limitations and the complexities of governance. It’s hard.

And on Obamacare, I’m not sure the Trump administration has thought in any complex way about how to repeal and replace. Repealing first and then replacing later doesn’t strike me — and a lot of the Republican health care experts I talk to — doesn’t strike them as just a workable thing to do.

You repeal some of the things, like maybe the — some of the premium supports that are in Obamacare, and then you replace it with something later, that seems likely in the short term to create exactly the sort of death spiral and destabilization that we’re all worried about.

And so it seems to me and it seems to a growing number of Republican senators, including Bob Corker and John McCain, that you have got to repeal and replace at the same time. You have to have a plan, or else you’re just creating a recipe for chaos.

And it’s not clear how much either the House leadership or the Trump administration has thought that through how exactly how it’s going to work.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Just 10 seconds, Mark. We will be watching.

MARK SHIELDS: What’s the big rush, Judy? What’s the big rush on the health care plan?

It’s been eight years. So they have had a lot of ideas. I mean, Paul Ryan said that. They have got ideas everywhere. They have no idea what they’re going to do. Repeal is low-hanging fruit. They have done it. They have done it 60 times. They will do it 60 more. They have no plan.

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

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Brooks and Corn on Obama’s active final weeks and the Trump-Putin ‘bromance’

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Dec 30, 2016


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HARI SREENIVASAN: Next, to the analysis of Brooks and Corn. That’s syndicated New York Times columnist David Brooks, and “Mother Jones” Washington bureau chief David Corn.

All right, David Brooks, let’s start some of the unilateral steps that President Obama has taken just in the last few weeks. We are talking about everything from the Russian sanctions to the U.N. Security Council condemnation — or allowing the U.N. Security Council to go forward in the condemnation of the Israeli settlements, preserving large swathes of land.

As the paper of record, The New York Times, said, is this about boxing Trump in?

DAVID BROOKS: I guess a little. But what can be done by a president can be undone by a president.

What’s sort of remarkable is that, especially in the Israel and the Russia cases, you have got a U.S. citizen, Donald Trump, siding with a foreign leader against the U.S. president.

There is a reason why president-elects have tried to remain mute during their transitional periods, relatively, because you just don’t want to be for somebody — some other country against your own government, and especially when you’re about to take the helm of that government.

And there will be a lot of permanent people who are just going to be stuck there who are now in a war between the president-elect and the guy they’re currently serving.

HARI SREENIVASAN: David Corn, does this violate the spirit of that smooth transition that both gentlemen had that photo-op in the White House?

DAVID CORN: Well, President Obama is still president until January 20, and the world keeps turning.

Now, the Republicans wanted to call his presidency over last February, when he nominated Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. The U.N. sanction vote came up. It wasn’t scheduled by Obama. And a lot of people think he should have responded to the Russian hacking of the U.S. elections weeks ago, months ago.

So these happened on his watch. There’s nothing wrong with him dealing with it. The Trump side now seems to be whining that he’s violating the smooth transition and trying to delegitimize Trump. But coming from Trump, who pushed the racist birth conspiracy theory for years against Barack Obama, I think Obama has been very much a gentleman. And he has a lot of reason to just not even bother to deal with Trump.

HARI SREENIVASAN: How different is this from previous presidents on their way out? Is it fairly traditional to leave an exclamation point at the end?

DAVID CORN: Well, it’s kind of.

And I think, depending what is happening — when George W. Bush left, he left Barack Obama two raging wars. And the biggest fight he had was inside his own government about whether or not to pardon Scooter Libby. And he was sort of consumed fighting with Dick Cheney about that, and didn’t do a lot I think externally.

And I think he was focused on trying to, from a national security perspective, bring Obama and his people up to speed, so they could take control of these wars.

Bill Clinton had the controversy with pardons when he was walking out the door, Marc Rich and others, that certainly tarnished his reputation. But I think Obama is just doing what he should be doing at this point.

HARI SREENIVASAN: David Brooks, it almost seems like there is a first 100 day strategy and at the end of four or eight years the last hundred days, to do all the things that you wish you could have done, but this is on your way out.


That is not abnormal. If you look at regulations that come out of White Houses, even Republican White Houses, there is a ton right at the end as they try to jam everything in at the end. That’s reasonably standard.

But there certainly is a pattern of administrations that have good transitions, George W. Bush to Barack Obama, and administrations that have really bad transitions, I would say Eisenhower to John F. Kennedy.

I would say this is beginning to look like a bad transition, as they begin to argue even at the presidential level, which is more or less unprecedented.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Let’s start talking a little bit about Russia.

Will the sanctions that we have imposed keep the Russian hackers out?


It’s so disproportionate. They interfered in our elections, and we like penalized a few of them. Whatever they’re doing underground, we don’t know. No, this is going to be a big issue.

And I have to say the Obama — the Trump position is, A, mystifying, but, B, doomed. He has a nice little Putin romance going on right now. I think we’re going to get out the hankies, because this is going to turn into an ugly relationship within a year or two.

The things that make them similar — their machismo, their expansionary braggadocio — is going to turn them I think into bitter and dangerous enemies. We will look back on this moment where we thought Putin and Trump were sort of close as a moment of bitter irony, when they get into a schoolyard display against each other, amping up each other’s worst tendencies and putting the two countries in some sort of scary position.

That’s just my feel of how things are going to get in the next year.

DAVID CORN: That may be the best-case scenario.

I don’t necessarily see things going that way. I still am mystified, to use your word, about why Trump is out there tweeting praise of Vladimir Putin these days, and still kind of denying and dismissing whether the hacking happened or the seriousness of it.

And people out there keep asking, what is behind this bromance? Before the election, I reported on a story about a counterintelligence officer from another service sending reports to the FBI saying that his sources in Russia were saying that Moscow tried for years to cultivate and co-opt Donald Trump.

I’m not saying that happened. I’m saying I hope the FBI took a strong look, because it is really hard to believe that a president-elect would be so callous in how he approaches this issue and so dismissive of the seriousness of it.

And so maybe he will turn on Putin, as you suggest, but maybe there is something else there in which he is enamored with Putin for some reason that we really don’t understand yet.

HARI SREENIVASAN: What about the president-elect’s position that we have got to move on, these are all essentially ploys to try delegitimize my win?

DAVID CORN: Well, I think he should be delegitimized for many reasons.

And his response to this hacking is also cause for delegitimization. But to say we should move on, when the bedrock of American democracy, the sanctity of our elections, has been messed with, just raises suspicions.

It would be so easy for him to say the obvious thing: This is terrible. We’re going to look into it. And then we’re going to try to prevent this from happening again in the future.

But his denial of it happening or its seriousness shows that there is something really amiss from his end of it.

HARI SREENIVASAN: David Brooks, what happens in that conversation with intelligence officials that Donald Trump said he is going to take in order to get to the bottom of this or get to a common set of facts? It’s already a fairly tense relationship with the intelligence community.

DAVID BROOKS: Of course I don’t know what’s going on in that meeting on in the mind of Donald Trump.

But I do know one of the things President Obama was struck by was how much time he spent on cyber-security as president. It was one of the big surprises as president. And one of the things he said was that, in the years ahead, the next president will be spending even more time.

And cyber-security isn’t a thing that goes away after this election. It’s a constant flow. And Russia has a very sophisticated, advanced attack on U.S. businesses and U.S. government and U.S. institutions. And it’s not like Donald Trump is going to be walking away from this. He will be spending a lot of time on it, if he’s any sort of normal president.

DAVID CORN: Well, maybe, but we don’t know.

He keeps dismissing the seriousness and even tweets out or puts a statement saying, you know, computers, it’s kind of complicated. You know, a lot of things happen.

It remains to be seen what he is serious about on any policy level.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Well, speaking of policy level, one of the things that we saw was that the U.N. Security Council was allowed to go forward with the condemnation of Israeli settlements, that the United States didn’t use its veto power.

Right move?

DAVID CORN: I think it’s a policy that’s very defensible, in that, right now, the settlements are a complete obstacle or a threat to a two-state solution.

Now, I think Netanyahu and the far right of Israel don’t believe in a two-state solution, and they just can’t come out and say it yet. Now, Donald Trump’s designated ambassador to Israel has said that quite clearly.

But if there’s no two-state solution, then Israel is on the path to being an occupying nation without full political rights for all its inhabitants. And, you know, there have been other Israeli leaders who have talked about the prospect of a form of apartheid in Israel.

So, I think the Obama position and the majority position of American Jews and a lot of Americans is a two-state solution. Settlements get in the way of that. If they’re not stopped soon, there is no prospect for that type of solution.

DAVID BROOKS: Now we disagree.

I think it’s a completely indefensible policy. Settlements are an obstacle to peace and to a two-state solution. There’s no question about that. They are about the fifth or sixth most important obstacle right now.

The fact that there could be an ISIS West Bank, the fact that the Palestinian government in Gaza doesn’t even acknowledge Israel’s right to exist, the fact of constant terror, delegitimization campaigns in the Palestinian schools, these are all much bigger facts.

And for the Obama administration to focus on this one fact, almost, not to the expense, but to diminish some of the others which are much more important, is to cast all the blame on Israel and to take the U.N. policy toward Israel, which has been longstanding, and sort of surrender to it.

Netanyahu, Bibi Netanyahu, froze the settlements and offered to go toward a two-state solution. The Palestinians didn’t take him up on it. Historically, we have had a series of these offers. And the settlements themselves are not the keystone here.

And it seems to me myopic and bizarre that at the last moment, the Obama administration would surrender the whole balanced array of policies that are obstacles to peace and focus on the one that is most detrimental to Israel.

DAVID CORN: Well, I think John Kerry’s speech was not just about settlements. It was about the whole large path to peace and what’s been happening to it.

And it was one of the — I think one of the most thorough policy statements that you have seen from any secretary of state on a contentious issue. So, I think that it’s not just myopia.

The vote obviously was not scheduled by the administration. I’m sure they would rather it had not happened. But I think they also wanted to send a clear signal, because they don’t believe Netanyahu is serious about a two-state solution. And the rapid expansion of the settlements is something that actually could be stopped, and may not even be up for negotiation, but would be a good unilateral move on Israel’s part.

HARI SREENIVASAN: What about the choice of David Friedman as the ambassador? What does that do to the situation?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, that just shows how polarized the whole situation has become, because the Obama administration has focused the onus on Israel and the settlements.

And then the Trump potential administration apparently is pro-settlement, and almost against a two-state solution. So we have got two polar opposite Israel policies, which really break what had been a pretty decent bipartisan consensus that we have got to have a two-state solution, we sort of know what the border is going to look like, we sort of know what East Jerusalem is going to look like.

And no administration has ever said, as the Obama administration sort of implied, that Israel wouldn’t have access to the Western Wall, to the East Jerusalem. And that was also in the resolution. And all administrations have not really gone on the U.N. train.

And so what we’re seeing is a complete bifurcation to two wrong Israeli policies.

HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, finally, staying in the neighborhood, does it matter that the U.S. is not a part of whatever this cease-fire in Syria is at the moment?

DAVID BROOKS: I think it matters, in that, if you withdraw from the game, you’re out of the game. And we have withdrawn from the game. And we said Assad has to go. He’s going to stay. So we’re out of the game. And they don’t have to deal us in when it comes to finding a solution.

But that was our choice. That was our choice to withdraw from that particular game.

DAVID CORN: We were behind two cease-fires this year, one in February that lasted a few months, and one in September that lasted about a week.

We have no idea how long this is going to last. There’s a great possibility that some on the rebel side will start fighting amongst themselves, because some of the rebel groups, the more fundamentalist, are not part of the cease-fire.

So, if there is anything that stops the fighting and stops the civilian casualties, that’s a good thing now for a pause. But I’m not very optimistic this is going to last.

And I do think John Kerry has tried awfully hard to work with Russia and others to have a lasting, significant cease-fire.

HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, David Corn of “Mother Jones,” David Brooks of The New York Times, David and David, thank you very much.

DAVID CORN: Happy new year.

DAVID BROOKS: Thank you.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Happy new year.

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Shields and Brooks on Trump’s unprecedented transition

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Dec 23, 2016

shields and brooks

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

Gentlemen, welcome.

So let’s start out talking about two major foreign policy waves, I guess you could say, that Donald Trump is making today, David. He directly intervened with the White House as they were deciding how to handle this U.N. resolution on Israel. There is now an open rift with President Obama. This is different, isn’t it, from the way we see a transition normally work?

DAVID BROOKS: Certainly, the country can’t have two presidents at once, so the tradition has been to hang back if you’re the president-elect and wait for your time in office. Trump is not a hang-back kind of guy.

And he has shifted — President Obama has shifted American policy in a much more critical way in Israel with the settlements than the previous presidents. But we’re about to get a head-snapping shift the other way. President-elect Trump’s ambassador to Israel is further to the right than almost anyone in Israel, further to the right than Bibi Netanyahu on the settlements, and almost opposes the two-state solution, doesn’t he?

So, we are about to see a tremendous shift in American policy toward the Middle East.

JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you see this, Mark? Are there consequences of this or is this going to be something we look back on and say, well, that’s what happened?

MARK SHIELDS: No, I mean, I think Donald Trump is sui generis. I mean, he is acting by president or tradition. He’s acting as Donald Trump has throughout his entire public career of, what, a year and a half, and that is to be impulsive, be spontaneous, keep his opponents or adversaries off balance. That’s his approach. He is not into nuance, that is not his strength.

And the president said this week, he’s entitled to his own policies and but just hope that it’s deliberate and thoughtful. And this strikes me as anything but.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, in addition to Israel, what we were sitting here talking about nuclear policy because Donald Trump tweeted, as far as we can tell, out of the blue yesterday, David, that the United States needs to beef up its nuclear arsenal. He did an interview with Mika Brzezinski of NBC this morning and I’m just reading the quote here. He said, “Let it be an arms race, we will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all.”

So, what does this say?

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, one of the things I think about with Donald Trump is what are his words actually attached to? With a normal president like President Obama, he says a word, and that’s because there has been some thought that he’s done and there had been policy papers and there’s been aides and there’s been advisors and then there is a connection to an actual set of policies. And so, the words like have roots into actual stuff.

With Trump, I’m not sure the words have roots. They are emanations of his psyche, but has he thought it through? Is there an argument, is there a policy implication?

Even in this nuclear thing, he says we should be stronger and expand. What does that mean? So, what is concrete in what he’s saying?

And I think as we interpret him and frankly as the world learns to interpret Donald Trump, are these just words that are enigmatic things floating on air or are they actually shifts in policy and will they change moment by moment, day by day without any underlying connection to the actual stuff of governance? I don’t know.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark, we’re talking about nuclear arms policy. This is something that in the past, it was something that people spent time thinking about before statements were made. You know, you said a minute ago, you think he’s keeping everybody off balance. Is this a deliberate strategy?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, I think that’s part of it. The points David make I think really deserve reflection and consideration. I think Donald Trump, we have to understand, has not had experiences like any other president we’ve ever had. He’s never been accountable to anybody, save Donald Trump.

I mean, he has no investors. He has — he has debtors, but he doesn’t have a board of directors. He doesn’t have a corporate structure he’s had to answer to. So he’s been able to kind of wing it at every stage.

I just don’t think he understands — the point David was making is when a president makes a statement, Judy, it is studied around the world, the nuance and was there an emphasis here, and what was in the last statement that’s missing — perhaps overly done, maybe overly analyzed. But because the president’s words are pretentious, they really carry with them enormous significance and are usually reflective of great consideration and even arguments within that one side is wanted, one particular paragraph or sentence, while the other said, no, that shouldn’t be in there.

So, I just think that Trump — he has not made the transition, it seems to me, from candidate to even president in waiting. He has been a sore winner. He continues to in his rallies to berate Hillary Clinton. That sense of gracious, generosity or larger vision has eluded him so far.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But, David, some — not but — and some people, David, have looked at what he’s doing and they said, this is really part of a strategy. Keep people off balance, keep them guessing about what you’re going to do.

DAVID BROOKS: I think that’s a rationalization for just the way he is. But it does have the effect of keeping people off balance. I’m not sure that’s necessarily a good thing.

And to bring us back to the nuclear thing, keeping people off balance with nuclear weapons is not a good thing at all.


DAVID BROOKS: And — so I would say, given, as Mark describes, sort of — he’s not part of a process. And so, I think there are two things that could happen as a result of this.

One, it’s possible to imagine him having relatively little influence on his own government because he will be off in his own world and the agencies and the permanent bureaucracy will just go on and do its merry way. There is a lot of passive aggressive behavior in all governments. It’s very hard to get things done.

But at the same time, because he’s not tied down, there could be a lot of erraticness and he could get caught up, just the macho thing, especially, let’s say Vladimir Putin, or somebody like that, and then more and more erratic with, you know, potentially, some sort of nuclear weapons attached.

MARK SHIELDS: It was even suggested to me, apropos the point David was making, that Republicans and Democrats have been adversaries for a long time on foreign policy. But, I mean, it could be a common interest at some point in sort of uniting in solidarity. I mean, we’ve had every president, Judy — I mean, John Kennedy began in 1963 with a nuclear test ban treaty banning, you know — agreeing with the Soviets to ban all testing in the atmosphere or space or underwater. I mean, that has been the guide of every president.

I mean, Ronald Reagan who came in as the leader of the toughest Soviet bloc, the evil empire — I mean, ended up as really a possible arms reduction advocate, a champion of it. When Mikhail Gorbachev — you know, I mean, it’s been the policy of both parties, presidents of both parties, and just to see something like this cast aside as an aside, as his own people are going on the air last night explaining what he actually meant was to stabilize or modernize.

Then, he goes on with Mika Brzezinski this morning before the show and says, no, no, what he said originally he meant. I mean —

JUDY WOODRUFF: An arms race.


JUDY WOODRUFF: And we’ll outlast them all.

So even he’s got — he seems to have a lot of support among Republicans and even Democrats for his position on Israel, nuclear — nuclear is something different.


JUDY WOODRUFF: I want to ask you about incoming Trump administration potential conflicts of interest. Story in the “Wall Street Journal” this week, David, about Tom Price, the congressman from Georgia having done stock trading in the last few years and health medical companies, he’s going to be overseeing these policies — he was voting observe these policies as a congressman, he will be overseeing that at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Carl Icahn named as an informal to the president on business regulation. He’s somebody who’s got enormous business interest.

And then there’s the story about Eric Trump, his son and the charitable organization. Do we — how do we even get our arms around all this?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, to me, it’s mostly about public trust. Do — can you trust people to do their public service roles in a pretty much straight-up, honorable way on the merits of the issues? And I happen to think most people go into government do it for the right reasons and they really do things as they see them on the merits of the issues.

But it doesn’t help if there’s the appearance and it doesn’t help if the standards by which we separate public and private life begin to erode. And that generally was the course — you leave private life behind when you go into public life, because you’re not just a person. You’re inhabiting a role that the Constitution gave you.

And I’m not sure Trump has had that distinction between private and public life in his head. And so, I think there’s likely to be an erosion of just that standard, that different standard, consciousness, and I think it’s likely we’ll see what we haven’t seen in the last eight years and even the last 12 or 16 of private enrichment in office and scandals where people have to resign and things like that, because just once the standards go, behavior tends to go.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But, Mark, are his supporters prepared to accept a different standard for Donald Trump?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, no, I think part of Donald Trump’s appeal is that he’s a guy that does cut corners, that he’s the guy that does get deals and maybe does break a speed limit. I think there was sort of a roguish, rascally, but I get things done even if I break the rules.

But I do think, you know, the words of Jefferson echo even today, when a man assumes a public trust, he must assume he is public property, and that’s exactly what’s the case here. I mean, Tom Price, I don’t know he had time to make votes on the floor, he had such an active stock portfolio and in areas that he was legislating on. I mean, so that will be a subject of hearings.

But Donald Trump’s statement that Carl Icahn, because he’s not taking a salary doesn’t have a conflict of interest — I’m sorry. I mean, Carl Icahn has major oil interests. He urged and recommended the appointment of the EPA administrator, and, you know, he was championed for him.

Of course, there are conflicts of interest. It doesn’t come down to a salary. It comes down to your own enrichment. And is there a difference? Is there concept in Donald Trump’s mind of public policy that there is a public interest that is separate and distinct from personal interest?

I don’t know if there are people around him, who — certainly they haven’t been throughout his career, who are saying this is in the greater public interest. It just doesn’t seem to be part whether in his personal behavior, personal comportment, doesn’t seem to be a strong commitment or value of public service.

JUDY WOODRUFF: We seem to keep coming back, David, to this question of what he was used to in the private sector and what now he faces in the public sector.

DAVID BROOKS: Right. He’s one thing. Some people are very different in different circumstances. He’s not. He’s one thing.

And he’s been one thing. Remember, we were talking about he’s got to moderate his campaigns. So, it’s worked for him, at least by his lights. So, I imagine he’s going to be this way all straight through. I can’t imagine a 70-year-old guy is going to change.

And so, he’s going to be this way and we’re going to have to cover it and the world is going to have to — I keep coming back to the world literally — how much of this is actual literal and how much is a marketing guy who treats words as tools for money? And so, we’re going to have to adjust and not react a lot of the time and think that something’s substantively actually happening.

JUDY WOODRUFF: All right. Gentlemen, we wish you a merry Christmas, happy New York and happy Hanukkah and every holiday that’s coming. Thank you both.

DAVID BROOKS: Thank you.

MARK SHIELDS: Thank you.


MARK SHIELDS: Thank you, Judy.

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Shields and Ponnuru on the ‘dark cloud’ of Russian cyberattacks

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Dec 16, 2016

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JUDY WOODRUFF: And now to the analysis of Shields and Ponnuru. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and Ramesh Ponnuru of “The National Review.” David Brooks is away.

Welcome to both of you.

Let’s start out, Mark, by talking about this back and forth. Every day, there’s a new piece of information about it did between what Donald Trump is saying about whether the Russians were involved in this hacking of the Democratic National Committee and what the CIA and now the FBI, President Obama weighed in today on this. What are we to make of all this?

MARK SHIELDS: I think what we’re to make of it is, to me what’s fascinating is not what Donald Trump is in no particular position to know, but what’s most alarming to me is Donald Trump will become president of the United States, he won the election. This is not about who won the election. He will become the 45th president the 20th of January.

It is about whether the sovereignty and self-determination of the United States was compromised by an organized at the highest Russian levels, which means the imprimatur of Mr. Putin, espionage, sabotage of the American democratic system. And there is an office in this country that’s higher than that of president and it’s patriot, and John McCain is filling that right now, and John McCain is saying, these are questions that must be answered, that these are questions that demand an answer.

And the idea, as Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate majority leader, says, sending it to the Intelligence Committee is a way of sending it to limbo because we had — we spent $40 million in five years in the Intelligence Committee investigating torture at Abu Ghraib, we have yet to get a report about it. That’s a nice way of saying, oh, it’s national security, we can’ t talk about it. We will not get a 9/11 Commission. But I think John McCain and the Armed Services Committee with Jack Reed, the Democrat, with Lindsey Graham and others, and Tim Kaine in a pretty damn good committee, I think you will get an honest hearing and we need it.

The idea people are so concerned about a $500,000 contribution to the Clinton Foundation changing and influencing American policy somehow indirectly and incurious about Russia’s involvement and sabotaging an American election is unforgivable to me and irrational.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Ramesh, do you think this will be investigated thoroughly?

RAMESH PONNURU: I think this controversy is expanding in all directions. You’re going to have an investigation. You’re going to have a report from the administration.

During the a press conference, President Obama said there would be a report tying loose ends, tying it all together before he leaves office. And then you’re going to have the hearings over the configuration of Trump secretary of state nominee, Rex Tillerson, where I believe the number one topic and probably number two topic as well is going to be the administration’s intentions toward Russia.

Trump is going to be our third president in a row coming into office wanting friendly relations with Russia. But, of course, this incredible backdrop now is going to color everything.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, Mark, getting to what both of you are saying, this does leave a cloud — a dark cloud hanging over the question of our democracy. I mean, if another nation, unfriendly, to put it I guess in the best terms, can come in and leak and get information and have it leaked at will, what does that say about our system of government?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, I mean, it says — no, I mean, it says that, A, we’re vulnerable to such attacks and, B, that we’re manipulated and could be manipulated by Russia. I mean, Russia, this is not a one-off for Russia. I mean, Russia’s done it already in Germany and Italy and democracies in Western Europe and Eurasia.

I mean, and it’s — and they’re good at it. Let’s be very blunt, it’s not a major investment of time or money. It is of talent and skill, and they have been very good at it.

But, Judy, I mean, the question is — obviously, it’s on everybody’s mind — is why did they just reveal John Podesta’s and the Democratic National Convention and Debbie Wasserman Schultz —


MARK SHIELDS: — and the Democratic campaigns, and only attempt, according to reports and the best evidence, to get into one Republican staffer’s email who had long since left the committee? And if, in fact, they did have Republican — why that wasn’t leaked? So, it does raise questions about where Putin’s affections and loyalties lay in this election.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Ramesh, the president was very careful about the way he spoke about it today. He mentioned in his news conference, but a lot of people are just — are saying they’re now convinced that the Russians, Vladimir Putin was trying to hurt Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump.

RAMESH PONNURU: Well, yes, that does seem to be the view, at least based on the latest reporting of the U.S. government.

I think, though, that one of the things that President Obama was trying to do is to not allow that to be the conversation that consumes the Democrats as they figure out what happened in this election. He also made a big point of talking about the mistakes the Democrats made, although was careful about that, too, since he didn’t want to personally criticize Hillary Clinton.

If the Democrats obsess about the Russian role in this and they take their eye off the ball of some of the reforms they need to undertake themselves.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But it does — again, as both of you were saying, the suggestion is if, indeed it is known, if they conclude at the end of the investigation the Russians were behind this, something is going to have to be done. President Obama said he told Vladimir Putin, Mark, to cut it out, but beyond that we don’t know —

MARK SHIELDS: No, something has to be done, there’s no question, and whether it’s revealing Putin’s own financial situation, his wheeling and dealing, embarrassing him, whatever form of retaliation.

I thought what was most interesting, Judy, was Donald Trump’s official response which was an attack upon the CIA.

Now, Donald Trump has never spent time in Washington, so he’s never been to Langley, Virginia, where the whole CIA headquarters. He would find on the wall of stars 113 names of American CIA operatives and employees who died defending this country.

And one of them, Hugh Redmond, was 19 years a prisoner in Shanghai where he was tortured by the Chinese communists. I should not get ahead of myself because Donald Trump doesn’t like people who were captured. He likes people who weren’t captured.

But, I mean — but these are patriots, these are people who work hard and no president coming in should ever disparage or demean or denigrate the heroic efforts these people go to, to keep us safe.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Ramesh, Mark mentioned Rex Tillerson who is the choice by Donald Trump to head the State Department. There are going to be these hearings, his confirmation hearings. What do you think is going to come out of that? Do you think he’s going to sail through knowing what we know now about his close connections with Mr. Putin?

RAMESH PONNURU: My suspicion is he will not see this process as one of sailing through. I think there’s going to be tough questioning. I do think he comes with some real advantages. I think the Republicans, who, of course, have a majority in the Senate, tend to think well of businessmen, successful businessmen which he certainly is. He’s got the support of some leading Republican foreign policy establishment figures. Apparently, former Vice President Dick Cheney is making calls on his behalf.

But absolutely, there are going to be these questions about the Russia policy. I was saying how Trump will be the third president in a row coming in wanting friendly relations. It didn’t work out for the previous two.

So, one has to ask whether this is an ambition that makes sense for our country right now.

JUDY WOODRUFF: What else about Mr. Tillerson, Mark, and then the other I guess prominent appointee this week is former Texas Governor Rick Perry to run the Energy Department. We’re just about finished now filling out the Trump cabinet, at least those he’s nominating, to take these positions.

Do you think we have a pretty good sense of where Donald Trump wants to take the country from looking at it?

MARK SHIELDS: I don’t, Judy. I think Mr. Tillerson in all likelihood will be confirmed for all the reasons that Ramesh addressed. He’s got a strong — Bob Gates recommended him. He’s got Jim Baker and Condi Rice weighing in and it appears the Republican establishment is certainly. He doesn’t need Dick Cheney’s support now as much as the Gates-Rice-Baker backing.

But that aside, there is always a presumption in favor of a president and the cabinet because the president gets to choose the cabinet is. They don’t last — unlike a judge who’s appointed a life time, that this greatest group may attach to.

Rick Perry, irony of ironies, who can forget 2011 in Auburn Hills, Michigan, as every Republican does in a presidential debate talked about all the agencies he was going to get rid of them, you recall there was Education and there was Commerce and that third one — whoops — and it was Energy. But here he is and instead of getting rid of it — maybe he’s going to get rid of it.

But the irony, the man who called Donald Trump a cancer on the conservative movement, who had to be excised, is now nominated by Donald Trump showing what a big person Donald Trump is to be his secretary of energy.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The last thing I want to talk to you about is Syria, President Obama, Ramesh, was asked about this today. We see Aleppo, which is the rebel stronghold finally all but completely falling today to the Assad regime. President Obama says, yes, I take responsibility. I take responsibility for everything that happens on my watch, what — I mean, how do you read the Obama administration and the story of what’s happened in Syria?

RAMESH PONNURU: I don’t see how this is anything other than a black mark on the Obama administration’s record. Of course, there is a temptation for Americans to think that everything that happens in the world is somehow, you know, our responsibility, our fault or our credit. But here we have a situation where the administration pursued a policy that by his own admission today was ineffective and where his continual, even now he wants to work with the United Nations while admitting the Russians are going to prevent the United Nations from doing anything.


MARK SHIELDS: The villains of the piece remain Assad himself, Putin, Iran, al Qaeda, and ISIS. I mean, you’re talking about the death. But the failure of the United States to be able to lead any kind of movement, to save the humanitarian tragedy, to avoid and rescue the innocent suffering there is a failure, is a real failure.

I mean, it is — Aleppo will be in the same category as Dresden. It will be remembered as a humanitarian disaster. But the president gets responsibility, the Congress are the cowardly lions in this.

I mean, they talk a big game and none of them steps up. Very few. I mean, there was Jeff Flake and Tim Kaine who were willing to lead an authorization of military force, but the others talk a good game. And as far as the “no fly” zone, there wasn’t the will to impose it, let’s be honest, and there wasn’t the leadership.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And I was struck the president said today, every day, he thinks about, you know, what more he could have done and in particularly, I was struck by he spoke about the children who have died in Syria.

Well, it’s great to have both of you here. Ramesh Ponnuru and Mark Shields, Friday night. Thank you both.

MARK SHIELDS: Thank you.



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Shields and Brooks on Trump’s understanding of presidential power

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Dec 09, 2016


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

Welcome, gentlemen.

So, let’s talk about the Trump Cabinet.

We know that Rudy Giuliani’s out, took himself, they said, out of consideration. But we have got several names, Mark, of people who are in at Labor, at the EPA, HUD, Housing and Urban Development, Small Business, and they all seem to be people who don’t necessarily agree with what the mission of these agencies has been during the Obama administration.

What are we to make of them?

MARK SHIELDS: We have to make of them they’re very personal choices by Donald Trump.

Ben Carson is a world-renowned pediatric neurosurgeon, 400 surgeries a year. Surgeon General? No. Housing and Urban Development. And he’s owned several houses. He’s lived in a house.


MARK SHIELDS: I don’t know what the other qualifications are.

Particularly interesting to me was, after he met — the president-elect with Al Gore, probably the most prominent environmental voice in the entire Democratic Party, he then chose the Oklahoma attorney general, Scott Pruitt, to be director of the Environmental Protection Agency. I think protection is a key word there.

And when you think of pristine preservation of America, you immediately think of Tulsa and Oklahoma.


JUDY WOODRUFF: Be careful, my birthplace.


MARK SHIELDS: I know it’s your birthplace, Judy. But let’s be very frank about it. It hasn’t — it’s not a vanguard state. It’s not a forefront state in environmental protection.

It’s a state that has been very big on fracking, that has had 907 earthquakes in the last year, which is more than they had in the last 35 years, under fracking, a 3.0-magnitude.

And I would say, if he’s not a denier of climate change, then Attorney General Pruitt is certainly a serious skeptic.

So, I don’t know if there’s a pattern here. Maybe David can figure it out.


DAVID BROOKS: I rise to the defense of Oklahoma.


JUDY WOODRUFF: Thank you. I’m glad to have one of you.

DAVID BROOKS: And it’s exactly the sort of coastal condescension toward the beauties of Tulsa that has created the Trump phenomenon in the first place.

First, agencies and these issues, whether it’s environmental or labor issues, they have — it’s a tradeoff. And Democrats in environmental agencies tend to favor — be more sensitive to environmental harm. And Republicans tend to be more sensitive to business harm.

And so I don’t know if they’re going against the mission of the agencies. It’s just a different set of priorities, and it’s legitimate.

Trump has picked the more extreme versions of all Republicans so far, the more aggressive. And I think the thing to watch out for is, I could totally paint a scenario where Trump runs an authoritarian regime. I can totally paint a scenario where he has no control over his own government.

And that’s in part because of his attention span problems, but in part because running an agency is very hard. Cabinet secretaries often have no control over their agency. And it becomes doubly hard when you’re really out of opinion with the people who actually work in the agency.

And it becomes triply hard, as I think may happen, a lot of people will leave the government. There are a lot of people in a lot of these sorts of places that are weighing, do I really want to serve here?

And I have certainly heard from people who say, I really don’t. Yes, I’m a career person, I respect the political process, but I just don’t feel comfortable working here anymore.

MARK SHIELDS: It’s a reasonable point.

I do want to say one thing about the secretary of labor. I just wish once, when they pick a secretary of labor, they would say, gee, who’s the best boss in America? Who has great relations?


JUDY WOODRUFF: He runs two, what, food companies.

MARK SHIELDS: He runs — no, and he’s been — his relations with workers are not a hallmark of his career. He’s been very successful in maximizing profit. But there is no particular encomiums to him about…

JUDY WOODRUFF: We should say, his name is Andy Puzder.

MARK SHIELDS: Andy Puzder — to his relationship with his workers.

Aaron Feuerstein, who was head of Malden Mills at Lawrence, Massachusetts, when the mill burned down, the first thing he did was to keep all his employees on the payroll for 60 days while he rebuilt on the spot. He didn’t take the insurance or go offshore.

Or Dan Price in Seattle at Gravity Payments, who cut his own salary by 90 percent to give everybody a 70 percent — $70,000 minimum wage. I mean, just once, I would like to have somebody who says, I really do care about workers.

And Puzder has been very successful franchising Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., but there’s no particular record of his consideration or concern for workers.

JUDY WOODRUFF: David, the other point that was made about Linda McMahon, who was chosen for the Small Business Administration, she’s a billionaire with her husband. They were wrestling — professional wrestling entrepreneurs.

And then the question is, there are now four or five billionaires in the Trump Cabinet. Do we think that’s just the way it’s going to be?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, he likes his fellow billionaires, assuming he is one.

I do think, generally, populist movements don’t — are not against billionaires. They are not against self-made billionaires in particular. They’re certainly not — the Trump movement is certainly not hostile to professional wrestling.

What they tend to be suspicious is professionals and what they see as the managerial class. So, if he picked a lot of people who went to Harvard Law School, worked in the academy, worked in the media, then I think his supporters would be restless.

But they’re not — they’re sensitive to people they think are looking down upon them, basically the professional class. And so I don’t think it’s entirely inconsistent that — or out of spirit of his movement to have these Linda McMahon-type people.


MARK SHIELDS: Ike had nine millionaires and a plumber in his Cabinet, Martin Durkin, the president of a plumbers’ union.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Eisenhower.

MARK SHIELDS: Eisenhower did.

It is. And the — Goldman Sachs is probably over-represented, considering it was part of the vast conspiracy with Hillary Clinton to rob the United States of its sovereignty, according to candidate Trump. And now he’s finding that they’re a personnel supplier for his administration.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The other thing we saw a little bit more of this week, David, was this continuation of Donald Trump tweeting criticism of Boeing aircraft over the cost, what he says may be the cost overrun for the new Air Force One, and then getting into a spat with a local union president in Indiana who had said, you know, you’re not really going to be saving as much jobs at the Carrier Corporation as you said you were.


A friend of mine who’s a political strategist in town said to me, you know, half my conversations are about the dissent of fascism in America, and maybe that is going to happen, and then half are normal policy discussions about how to reform health care.

And so the Trump administration could go off in both directions. We could be seeing something entirely new, something entirely authoritarian, something that looks more like Ukraine or Russia than anything we’re used to seeing here.

And these tweets are to me one of the telltale signs of whether we’re going off in that direction. If he’s just tweeting about a union guy, then he’s just being the bully we have seen. But if he uses the power of the presidency to back up some of those tweets and he’s really, really coming down with a hammer on people he doesn’t like using the power of the presidency, then we’re seeing something very new and very different.

And it’s too soon to tell whether he is going to start doing that, but that, to me, would be an indicator of something very troubling, if he does that as president.

JUDY WOODRUFF: What do you see?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, cyber-bullying, the emphasis on bullying here, going after Chuck Jones, the president of Local 1999 of the Steel Workers, is punching down.

It’s somebody in a powerful, omnipotent position punching somebody who’s a lot less important, and putting them not only as the object of ridicule, but open threats that Chuck Jones has received as a consequence of the president doing this — president-elect doing this.

And he just doesn’t seem to grasp or understand, Mr. Trump, the majesty and the power of the office.

And I think Bob Dallek, the presidential historian, very respected, said that this behavior is beneath the dignity of the office. And it really is. And I don’t think he grasps it and understands it, the Boeing thing being one example, where you can move stock by just an idle comment.

But it’s intimidating. It’s silencing. It’s a chilling effect. And it’s decidedly unpresidential.

JUDY WOODRUFF: David, go ahead.

DAVID BROOKS: To a lot of people, it just seems like an active presidency, like he’s being active on behalf of the American people.

And I do think, oh, the Carrier thing, I hated it as a policy matter, but at least he’s hammering — he’s saving jobs. He’s doing stuff. Obama never did any of this stuff.

People have a different conception of what the presidency should be.

MARK SHIELDS: But it isn’t Carrier. I’m talking about tweeting.


MARK SHIELDS: I’m talking about tweeting against an individual and holding that individual — like Jeff Zeleny of CNN, terrific reporter, holding him up to ridicule for doing his job.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, and in connection with that, I want to ask you quickly, we did a segment, Hari did an interview about this earlier in the show, Mark, about the — we call it fake news. And we were just sitting here saying that doesn’t do justice to what’s been going on.


JUDY WOODRUFF: It’s lies that are out there.


JUDY WOODRUFF: Michael Flynn — General Michael Flynn, who has been chosen to be the president’s national security adviser, his son was actively tweeting, repeating some of these stories that were completely false about a pizza place in Washington being a place where there was a pedophile ring going on involving Hillary Clinton and her chief of staff.

A man from North Carolina — this was all in the news last week — comes to Washington with a gun, shoots it inside. This is a family place.

MARK SHIELDS: It’s a family place, where — Comet Ping Pong, where — pizza — where my 10-year-old granddaughter, Frances, I attended her 10th birthday party there recently in the back room with the ping-pong. It very much of a family — it has great pizza. It’s a very popular place.

It’s a total fabrication. It’s worse than a fabrication. It’s a slur and a libel. This — Alex Jones is involved in this, the radio personality, talks about Hillary Clinton murdering young children.


MARK SHIELDS: I mean, it just has to be confronted.

And I thought Marc Fisher did a great job in The Washington Post, and he with his interview with Hari, in shooting it down. But if you have got to spend all your time shooting this stuff down, Judy…


Somebody wrote a story about me where I allegedly called for Donald Trump’s assassination. And it was a long 1,500-word, very carefully written piece of reportage, where I allegedly gave an interview to a radio station that doesn’t exist.

And it was like being in a different, alternative — alternative universe in a novel, like some other novel, when, suddenly, the effects come back and hit me in real life.

And what’s troubling is the professionalism with which it’s done and how distrust of the media then leads to this extreme naivete, where people will believe anything.


JUDY WOODRUFF: We’re all used to people stretching the truth in what we do in journalism, but it’s just — it’s beyond the pale.

Just 40 seconds left, Mark. John Glenn, we lost a great American hero yesterday. What did he represent to this country?

MARK SHIELDS: Twenty-three years as a Marine jet pilot, combat pilot, 149 missions in two wars, first American to orbit the Earth, at a time when the United States was feeling — more than that, it gave the country a lift.

And, most of all, all he was about, he was everything that he seemed to be and more. He was the genuine article.

The thing, Judy, to remember about John Glenn is that he had had the ultimate in praise and national attention. He was an icon. All he wanted to do — he didn’t need validation. He didn’t need an ego fix. All he wanted to do was public service. And he did it. And he was a great senator and a great American.

DAVID BROOKS: Just Midwestern decency, yes.


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

And we remember John Glenn.

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Shields and Brooks on Mattis, the Carrier deal and Pelosi’s re-election

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Dec 02, 2016


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JUDY WOODRUFF: Now back to politics and a whole week full of Cabinet picks.

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

Welcome, gentlemen.

And I know you have been paying very close attention to every one of these nominations, Mark.

And, David, so it’s James Mattis to Defense this week, Tom Price, the congressman, to Health and Human Services, Steve Mnuchin to Treasury.

David, what stands out here? What do you think of what Mr. Trump is doing?

DAVID BROOKS: I have to say, he’s exceeding expectations.

Sometimes, during the campaign, he seemed to be actively trying to misgovern. And here he seems to be to have an effective administration. They’re not all the people I would pick. But he won the election. Some of them are not only good for Trump, but genuinely good picks.

General Mattis, I think, is in that. He’s a scholarly man, a good leader, a man with subtle foreign policy views. Others are experienced, Elaine Chao, who has already been. Other people, Tom Price, are experienced legislators. And so they’re people who know their way around Washington, while I think representing the Trump world view.

And so I think, in general, for those of us who were a little skeptical of Trump, it’s, I would say, exceeding expectations.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Exceeding expectations, Mark?

MARK SHIELDS: A little skeptical?


MARK SHIELDS: Wow. That’s dialing it back.


MARK SHIELDS: Judy, I am pleased, relieved, and almost thrilled with the appointment of General James Mattis as secretary of defense.


MARK SHIELDS: General Joe Dunford is the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine, former commandant. And now General Mattis, former Marine, so you can be sure that there will be a lot of sniping from the Army, the Navy, because the Marines are the smallest force.

But why am I pleased? Everything that David said about General Mattis is true. He is a scholar. He’s independent. He’s thoughtful. He’s smart. He’s a great leader.

The Marines have a rule, unlike any other military branch I know: Officers eat last, OK? That is, no officer eats until the sergeants, the corporals, the privates under his command have first been fed.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And you speak from personal experience.

MARK SHIELDS: And nobody embodied that more than Jim Mattis. He was very much an enlisted man’s general.

And the one quick anecdote, and that is, when General Charles Krulak was commandant of the Marine Corps, every Christmas — this was in the late ’90s — he and his wife would bake cookies for the last couple weeks before Christmas. And he would get up at 4:00 in the morning with General Krulak and deliver them in little packages to the Marines who were standing duty that day, because every Marine base, every Marine post has be somebody standing duty.

And he showed up at Quantico and he asked the Marine lance corporal who was on duty, where is the officer of the day and who it is? He said, it’s General Mattis, sir. He said, no, no, it’s not General Mattis. I mean, who is the officer of the day? And he said, it’s General Mattis, sir.

And up comes Jim Mattis and a general, brigadier general, and he is on duty and he has got his sword. And the commandant says, what are you doing here? He said, well, there was a young lieutenant who was on duty today, and he has a wife and two children. And I thought it was better that he have Christmas with his family.

That’s the kind of man he is. It’s the kind of values he’s embodied. He’s independent. He’s strong. And he will be good for the country.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Wow. Well, we’re off to some high praise here.

Let’s talk about something else that Donald Trump did this week. And that is, the first public speech he made since the election, he went to Indianapolis, and announced a deal that he’s cut with the Carrier Corporation, air conditioners, furnaces, to save 1,000 jobs, not all the jobs that were going to Mexico, but a lot of them.

What kind of precedent does this set? What are we to make of it?

DAVID BROOKS: I agree with Sarah Palin on this one.


DAVID BROOKS: She wrote an op-ed today where she called it crony capitalism and a source of corruption.

And I think that’s true. The job of government is to be a level playing field where companies compete and make money honestly. And by rewarding one company over another, by getting involved in these sort of petty deals, the first thing you’re doing is encouraging rent-seeking, for companies to make money off government, rather than the honest way.

And the second thing, it’s — and especially in this administration, it’s an invitation to corruption. If you’re cutting deals with company after company, doing this kind of deal, that kind of deal, inevitably, there is going to be a quid pro quo. There is going to be under-the-table lobbying.

And it’s just a terrible precedent for our economy and for the administration.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Even with the 1,000 jobs?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, first of all, it’s a very expensive way to save 1,000 jobs.

Second of all, Carrier is owned — the parent company is United Technologies, a defense contractor, totally dependent on U.S. government interests for their well-being.

If we can’t lean on these people and negotiate a good deal with them, and where we have to pay $700,000 in tax credits to save 1,000 jobs, it’s a bad deal, even from that perspective. It’s very expensive.



Are you as worried about it?

MARK SHIELDS: No, I’m not as worried about it.

I think it is bad public policy. I think it’s a political masterstroke. I think Donald Trump raised this issue during the campaign. When it first appeared, when Carrier showed the gross insensitivity, where it was on YouTube, where they went in and told the 1,000 workers that their jobs were leaving, that the company was leaving, and it was just — it was abjectly insensitive to the workers. And Donald Trump picked that up. It was part of his prairie populism of the time, unlike his Cabinet appointments to Treasury and Commerce.

But I think, Judy, there is 1,000 people who are going to have Christmas who weren’t going to have Christmas. And were there deals cut? Sure. And have there been deals cut on crony capitalism in the past? Yes. It’s always gone to the company. And it’s been a long time.

I give Barack Obama great credit for the rescue of the United States automobile industry. It saved hundreds of thousands of jobs. But the fact is, we have had deals cut, and the jobs have ended up going elsewhere.

And I think Donald Trump, this is a masterstroke that he said he would do something, he did it, and it’s been a long time since the president of the United States has made that kind of an announcement.

JUDY WOODRUFF: What would you say back?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, first of all, there will be 1,000 people who will have Christmas. That’s true. But there will be a lot of people who will be paying for that.

Second of all, you will have a less efficient economy, so there will be less job creation. Third, when companies ship jobs overseas, they don’t like just take the factory and then move it abroad. They gradually do what is in their economic best interests, which is to scale back production here or flatline it and scale it up there.

If the economics is still favoring a job in Mexico over a job in Indiana, Carrier will still be doing it, but they will be getting a lot of taxpayer money, and we will have a sludgier economy.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Mark, this isn’t just a drop in the bucket, in the face of an enormous — enormous economic changes?

MARK SHIELDS: No, of course it is. But did he do something that positively affected people’s lives? Yes.

Is it a coherent national macro-policy? No. But as a micro-act, it’s a very positive act politically. And I think it reflects better upon him and his commitment to these people and their well-being and their survival than an awful lot that’s happened in the past.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we have been talking a lot about Donald Trump.

I do want to bring up the Democrats today, because this week in the House, David, they voted again on their leadership, Nancy Pelosi reelected to be the minority leader, but with not as large a vote as the last time. She won two-thirds against a challenge from an Ohio congressman, Tim Ryan.

What’s going on with the Democrats? You’re hearing more of them speak out and say, we don’t like the kind of campaign that Hillary Clinton ran, we have got to be worried about things that we weren’t worried about in this election.

DAVID BROOKS: I don’t think they’re that far along.

Republicans were preparing for a big defeat and then reorganization. Democrats were preparing for victory. So I don’t think the Democrats are that far along on where the party should go.

But you can see the objection to Pelosi. She’s — the top three leaders in the House on the Democratic side are all in their mid-70s. She’s some San Francisco, not exactly — if you’re trying to reach Ohio.

And is she a fresh face for the party in an era of change? Well, no. On the other hand, she’s a really good tactician and a good legislative leader. And I can see why she ended up winning, because it’s a local race. And they probably wanted somebody who could master the craft of legislation. And, plus, they all owe her to a great degree.

So, it’s a testimony to her that, even in an extremely adverse climate, it’s a testament to what people think of her skills, I would say, that she ended up winning, you know, still by a reasonably comfortable margin.

JUDY WOODRUFF: What do you make of this?

MARK SHIELDS: I think David is right in his assessment of Leader Pelosi.

The fact that she’s from San Francisco, if anything, is a help, in the sense that you want a leader who can take tough positions and not jeopardize their own survival. That’s one of the things you want in a leader.

She has been a very formidable leader. She was a great speaker. But I think for the people — and it was a considerable vote. A third of her caucus voted against her. Only 12 people came out publicly and were willing to stand up with Tim Ryan, but, in private, 64 or 63 came out and voted in the secret ballot for him.

If there had been 35 that had come out, then maybe there might have been 75 or 80 who had been so emboldened to vote outside. But she did prevail, for the reason that David cited.

In addition to that, to put the folks on Nancy Pelosi is absolutely ludicrous. The Democrats have an enormous problem. Today, as we sit here, there are five states in the United States that have a Democratic governor and two houses of the legislature controlled by Democrats. That’s the lowest in the history.

There are 12 fewer Democratic senators than there were the day that Barack Obama was sworn in. There are 16 fewer Democratic governors than there were the day. Nobody redistricts state lines than there were the day that Barack Obama was sworn in. There are 63 fewer House members. There are fewer Democratic state legislators today in the 50 states than there have been at any time in history, at any time in history.

So, Judy — ever since 1900, I should say. But I look at this and say, the Democratic Party is noncompetitive west of New Jersey, all the way to Carson City, Nevada, with the exception of the blue island of Illinois and Latino-strengthened states of New Mexico and Colorado.

Other than that, it’s red. And they’re not competitive. And to just say it’s Nancy Pelosi’s fault and that her replacement would somehow solve their problems is self-deception writ large.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, are there solutions out there, David?

DAVID BROOKS: It’s not her fault. I wouldn’t say she’s the solution, though.

And so which way does the Democratic Party go? I think it’s likely that they will go in the Elizabeth Warren direction. And that may not be stupid. There may be a populist way to tap into what Trump popped into.

But so far that has never happened. So far, when they have gone left, whether it’s Howard Dean or Jesse Jackson, they have lost the heartland. And they have lost people who are angry at government, but don’t seem to be angry at business.

And so going to the center would violate all the momentum you feel on the left, but I do think there is some case to be made for it.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Are you saying that’s what happened in this election, I mean, in the 2016…

DAVID BROOKS: Well, they culturally lost.

Part of the problem is simply Democrats as individuals, not as a political party, are moving to very few places. And so they’re clustering. And that’s just a demographic problem for the party.

MARK SHIELDS: When Barack Obama was reelected in 2012 with the majority of the vote in the country, first president since Eisenhower to win a popular majority in consecutive elections, he failed to carry a majority of congressional districts.

That hasn’t happened since 1960. I mean, so the Democrats are not competitive in large swathes of the country. They’re a coastal party. I think they have become — and I think Nancy Pelosi bears some of the burden on this — I think they have become too culturally liberal a party.

I think that there’s been a willingness to emphasize LGBTQ issues, rather than working-class issues of people in declining incomes and families falling behind and Carrier jobs leaving.

I think that’s been — that the Democrats have become a party that, quite honestly, is more emphasizing the cultural issues. And I think that’s been to their disadvantage in their national appeal.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And on that note, maybe the Democrats will have an autopsy like the Republicans had.

MARK SHIELDS: It certainly helped them.

JUDY WOODRUFF: It certainly did. It did.


MARK SHIELDS: It was a good autopsy.


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

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Shields and Brooks on cabinet picks and conflicts of interest

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Nov 25, 2016


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

And we welcome both of you on this day after Thanksgiving.

MARK SHIELDS: Thank you.

JUDY WOODRUFF: David is in Philadelphia.

Let’s talk about — we’re getting — beginning to get a sense, Mark, of Donald Trump’s administration, a little sense. He has named two more people today to the White House. What are we learning from this? What are we — what do you now understand about him that we didn’t understand before?


I mean, I would say that there’s been the small Donald, the petty, vindictive Donald, who can be rather mean-spirited, as he was on display at The New York Times editorial board meeting, where he gratuitously took out after Kelly Ayotte, the former Republican — senior Republican senator in New Hampshire, who had — after the “Access Hollywood” tape had refused to support Donald Trump and said she couldn’t get a job.

And then we see the little bit larger Donald in hiring Nikki Haley, who had, in fact, backed both Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz and in the national address, in response — the official Republican response to the president’s State of the Union, had warned the party against following the siren call of those — it was a direct allusion to Donald Trump at the time.

So he was larger in spirit in choosing her. And she certainly is a person who has demonstrated leadership and character under stress at the time of the massacre, the racial massacre at the Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston and leading in lowering the Confederate Battle Flag over the state — on the state capitol grounds.



JUDY WOODRUFF: Excuse me. I didn’t mean to interrupt.


JUDY WOODRUFF: What are you learning about Donald Trump from these appointments or announcements?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, I guess it’s — yes, of some comfort, I guess.

Sometimes, the campaign seemed to be, as Mark said, vindictive, but sort of a depraved three-ring circus. The transition period has not been that. He’s nominated people like DeVos or Haley who are competent people, who are more or less professional, experienced people.

They may not be, on substantive ground, all of our cup of tea. They are very consistent with the way he campaigned, a nationalist campaign on education policy, a campaign that is enthusiastic about school choice.

But they are more or less the sort of professional version of Trump’s ideology. And I do think there is just this animating spirit here to create a sort of nationalist, populist conservatism that will in some ways stretch the Republican Party and in some ways offend a lot of conservatives.

But I think there is an animating vision here to try to create a movement that will last post-Trump, a populist movement that may even try to span some of the dividing lines that have existed so far through large economic policies, through infrastructure policies, through a tough anti-terror policy that nonetheless keeps American troops out of war.

There’s an animating vision here, and it’s being executed, at least in the appointments so far, in some intellectually coherent way.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, a movement in the making maybe?

MARK SHIELDS: A movement in the making — I guess I don’t share David’s enthusiasm about Betsy DeVos.

I mean, 90 percent of American schoolchildren are in public schools, Judy. And the emphasis on private schools and charter schools and parochial schools is not unimportant. I don’t mean that, but we’re at 90 percent. We’re heading to 91 percent will be in public schools.

I’m not sure Betsy DeVos has ever spent a day in a public school. And I don’t — I’m pretty sure Donald Trump hasn’t. So, I do look upon the secretary of education’s primary responsibility as the quality of education that — and improving the education that every child in American public schools receives.

JUDY WOODRUFF: What about that, David? What about Betsy…


JUDY WOODRUFF: Go ahead, yes.

DAVID BROOKS: Yes. First of all, charter schools are public schools. They’re paid for publicly and they’re part of the public system. They just have a more independent structure.

And so I guess I would say, we need a reform movement. We have seen, I think, in the charter school movement started out, whatever it was, 10 or 15 years ago — it’s increasingly gotten better. Charter schools are figuring out how to do this. The charter schools that are most effective are scaling the most quickly, and so there’s got to be a continued move for reform.

At the same time, the teachers unions are pushing at that reform, has had some political successes. And so I think charter schools, choice, and frankly school standards need a champion. And DeVos has been a good pretty champion.

Now, I don’t — she’s not without fault. You have got to have two things in education reform. You have got to have some flexibility, so people can figure out what to do. But you also have to have accountable, basically what the Common Core standards were, some sort of set of national standards, so we can measure.

It’s hard for parents just to measure schools. DeVos has been really good at the flexibility. She’s not been enthusiastic about the accountability. So, she’s a complete — an incomplete operator.

But I do think — I have met her a few times. She’s a normal person, a sophisticated person, in some ways a self-effacing person. And she has been at least a champion of reform, if maybe too much emphasizing choice, not enough, in my view, emphasizing charters.

JUDY WOODRUFF: You want to come…



I mean, I just — I applaud David’s interest in, enthusiasm for charter schools. It’s a very mixed record, and particularly in Detroit, where that’s — the emphasis has been. It’s less than mixed. It’s really discouraging.

And in the final analysis, American public education — American education will be determined by the quality of American public education, and that’s public schools that are available. The charter school is a possibility, an alternative in certain circumstances, but not in most, and not in most places, and not — most parents don’t have either the time, the inclination or the aptitude to sit and go through sifting what school and what is available and what the options are.

They are dependent upon the quality of their neighborhood and local schools.

JUDY WOODRUFF: David, I want to…

DAVID BROOKS: If I could just make…

JUDY WOODRUFF: Go ahead, yes.

DAVID BROOKS: … one more point on that quickly.


DAVID BROOKS: Just, as I have traveled around from school to school, whether it’s project-based learning or an outward bound curriculum, it’s very hard to tell the difference between charters and public anymore. There’s no fine line.

They’re often adopting very similar programs, maybe with a different administrative structure. But what I’m saying is, you’re seeing reform throughout the movement, in the so-called charters, in the so-called publics, if we’re going to call them that. And that reform dynamism has to be kept going.

JUDY WOODRUFF: David, I also want to bring up with both of you the questions I think that came up day after day this last week about Donald Trump’s business connections, his business — deep business interests and how that’s going to work as president of the United States.

It came up in John Yang’s conversation just now with Jack Quinn, the former White House counsel. How do you see that developing? Do you see it as a problem? Do you see it as something that Trump is going to be able to handle? What do you see?

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I would invite viewers to go back and read a book by a guy named George Washington Plunkitt of Tammany Hall, who had a concept called honest graft, where his own public — private interest corresponded to public interest.

That’s what Trumps seems to be advocating, merging the two. It’s just bad news. And I hope the new presumed White House counsel will just say, this is not going to work. You have got to have a bright line between these two things. We’re no longer living in Tammany Hall America. And it will just lead to scandal after scandal that will end up hurting your own administration.


MARK SHIELDS: I think David is absolutely right, Judy.

I think it’s very serious. I mean, when the — you have got 70 days between the election and taking office, an enormous responsibility. And when you spend that time actually meeting with Indian business investors for a Trump apartment complex in Mumbai, when you meet with Nigel Farage and raise the question of eliminating the wind farm because it would hurt the view at Donald Trump’s golf course in Scotland and urges a change in policy, I mean, this is the man who doesn’t understand the difference between public policy, public trust and private interest.

When you see Ivanka Trump hawking the $10,000 bracelet that she wore on the “60 Minutes” broadcast from her jewelry — presidential trust is something, Judy, that’s perishable and it’s precious. And once a president loses it, it’s not a question of whether it’s conflict of interests laws or there aren’t conflict of interests laws.

The president has to have the trust, earn the trust, maintain the trust of people in order to lead. And there’s nothing that will lose it quicker than a sense that he’s in it for a quick buck.

JUDY WOODRUFF: David, do you want to add anything on that? Because I do want to move on to what is apparently — what seems to be a split inside Trump world over who is going to be secretary of state.

We saw Kellyanne Conway, who has been sort of the face of the Trump transition, tweeting openly just yesterday that they’re picking up a lot of criticism about the fact that he’s considering Mitt Romney.

What does this tell us about folks inside Trump world who may be dismayed at where Donald Trump is headed?

DAVID BROOKS: I’m looking forward to the live tweets of the Oval Office meetings in the Trump administration.


DAVID BROOKS: There’s certainly a lot of chaos and openness that they’re saying so far.

I think Trump is sort of — from what we can see from his comments, sort of attracted to the idea of a Romney. He looks the part, as Trump — looks are very important to Donald Trump.

And so — but I do think there is some sign of respectability. Personally, I think Mitt Romney would be a great secretary of state. He knows a lot. He’s a very professional — a consummate professional.

Frankly, if I were Donald Trump, I would be a little suspicious. It’s very easy to imagine he’s got his America first crew in the National Security Council. Mitt Romney’s a more internationalist. It’s easy to see him setting up a foreign policy establishment over there in the State Department that would be a rival to the White House, and maybe that’s a good thing.

But, if I were Donald Trump, it’s not necessarily what I would want in my foreign policy apparatus.

JUDY WOODRUFF: What do you think of the split?

MARK SHIELDS: Now that David has sunk Mitt Romney’s chances…



MARK SHIELDS: … separate entity over at the State Department.

To me, it’s fascinating. It’s a choice. Trump loves loyalty. He prizes loyalty, who was with him. Rudy was with him. Rudy, you will recall, was the moderate Republican mayor of New York who was for immigration rights, for gun control, for abortion rights, for gay rights.

He abandoned those positions to endorse Donald Trump after a disastrous run for president and gave a speech at the convention that sounded like a New York cab driver stuck in traffic at 4:30 in the afternoon.


MARK SHIELDS: It was a rant.

He went on, Judy, to say, if you will recall, eight years before — eight years prior to Barack Obama coming in, there were no attacks on the United States, and they all began when Obama and Clinton took office, conveniently forgetting completely the tragedy, the national tragedy of 9/11.

So, there are questions and doubts about Rudy Giuliani and his competence for the job. But there’s no question that Newt Gingrich is out for him. Kellyanne Conway is apparently advocating and championing for him. So, this is — this is a split.

I agree with David that Mitt Romney does fit the bill. He looks like a secretary of state. He looks like the chancellor of the exchequer.

JUDY WOODRUFF: A lot of people said he would look like a president.

MARK SHIELDS: He looks like a president. I mean, he really does. He’s central casting. You want a leader, Western leader, English-speaking? Mitt Romney.

JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, just a quick minute-and-a-half on the Democrats. We are going to reserve just a moment for them.

David, we’re seeing Chuck Schumer, the incoming Democratic leader in the Senate, saying, we, the Democrats, need to look at ways possibly to work with Donald Trump. And then, on the other hand, we’re seeing Congressman Keith Ellison, who is up for running for head of the Democratic Party, the Democratic National Committee say, Mark, say, no, we’re not going to be working with him, and I don’t want to hear about it.

David, are the Democrats making the right kind of noises right now? Or do we just wait and see what happens?

DAVID BROOKS: I think Schumer is right to keep the possibility open that Trump is movable on some issues, which is clearly what Obama believes, and that they can work with him on some issues, like infrastructure or something like that.

So, I think, if they could have a good six months where they work together, there will be plenty of time for fighting later on.


MARK SHIELDS: David is right. And I think the worst thing the Democrats could do is to follow the playbook that Mitch McConnell and the Republicans adopted in 2009 against Barack Obama. And that’s just total, all-out obstructionism.

JUDY WOODRUFF: To say on day one or day two…

MARK SHIELDS: Yes, that’s right, the most important thing is to defeat him for reelection.

I think that America has had enough of it. It doesn’t work. And it’s not the best of the Democratic tradition.

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

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Brooks and Marcus on why Trump’s appointments make sense

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Nov 18, 2016


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JUDY WOODRUFF: And now to the analysis of Brooks and Marcus. That’s New York Times columnist David Brooks and Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus. Mark Shields is away.

And happy Friday to both of you.

So, President-elect Trump, David, making these three big announcements today in the national security arena, after we heard who a couple of people are going to be around him in the White House. What do we make of these choices, starting with the ones today?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, if you thought Donald Trump was going to be swallowed up by the conventional Republican Party or by Washington, you were wrong.

He’s governing, it seems, exactly as he campaigned. And the people he selected are very much in the spirit of the campaign, sometimes explicitly referencing the policies he took on the campaign.

So, I would say, A, they are going to be very different. We’re going to have a very different administration from a normal Republican administration, let alone a Democratic administration.

Second, I have to say, they have good resumes. Pompeo, Flynn, they are — it’s not like they’re just out of the wilderness. These are people who have been around power and who probably are not going to be automatically incompetent at their jobs.

The third thing to that we say is, they have Donald Trump’s charm, which is to say they are extremely sharp-elbowed individuals, to a person. And it’s like he’s taken all the hard bosses or bad bosses in the world and so far he is bringing them all together.

And so, if they work as a team, maybe they will be a very tough team, but they could work on each other. And it could be hard to hire people under them, because these are people famous for being really hard on those around them.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Ruth, what do you make of these national security picks?

RUTH MARCUS: Disturbing on General Flynn, and less disturbing on Congressman Pompeo.

I think it’s really important for us to understand Donald Trump is the president-elect, and he is really entitled to — he has got the prerogative to pick people who will implement his policies and who have his confidence.

But I think — I don’t look at it just as the national security team. I look at it as a whole, and I’m very worried that he is picking people — he talked on election night about the need to bind the wounds of division. I think he’s picking a series of people who are potentially pouring salt into the wounds of division and who are reinforcing some of his worst tendencies, rather than buttressing him and surrounding himself with people who bring to the table both personality and capabilities that he may be lacking in.

And so I would — the three that most concern me are General Flynn, Senator Sessions, and Steve Bannon at his right hand in the White House.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Who comes from Breitbart News.


JUDY WOODRUFF: Which raises — I saw some commentary, David, saying, well, maybe there is good cop/bad cop thing going on here in the White House, where Donald Trump picks Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican Party, as his chief of staff, but then he picks Bannon, Steve Bannon, to be his counselor.

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I’m not yet putting Priebus in my good cop category…



DAVID BROOKS: … bad and other cops.

Bannon is the interesting case. He is, of course — I do not approve of his news organization or his judgments, but he is something out of a different — he is a pure populist, pure anti-establishment.

And so, for example, there was an article today, a rare interview that he gave, where he really talked about having a trillion-dollar infrastructure program. That would be a big shift in our national debate. And I think it might be a good idea. But it would get a lot of Democrats on board.

And I do think the silver lining for those of you who didn’t approve of Donald Trump is that there are a lot of policies in his canon that do mess with our categories. And that kind of big spending program would be one of them.

JUDY WOODRUFF: What do you think?

RUTH MARCUS: I’m kind of having a hard time seeing the Steve Bannon silver lining here, even with a big infrastructure program, because his Web site and his own history has been so divisive, so hurtful to people of — minorities, people of other faiths.

I think having somebody like that in the White House — I understand, to the victor go the spoils, but bringing someone like that inside the White House who you’re going to be listening to is a bad thing.

And then we’re layering on to that I think two people who are the wrong people in the wrong jobs. You want somebody who is going to be your national security adviser who is going to be temperate, who is going to be an honest broker, who is going to be able to take in information and give you sort of, this is what everybody is saying.

That is not, from the people that I have spoken to today, what General Flynn is all about.


RUTH MARCUS: And, similarly, with Senator Sessions, I was around for his confirmation hearings as judge.


RUTH MARCUS: Both in those — I know. I look so young.


RUTH MARCUS: But it’s true.

Both in those and in his performance as senator, taking — going to the Justice Department, sort of same idea. If he were up for secretary of defense, I might not have this issue. But we’re at a country that is facing enormous racial tensions, really difficult questions about criminal justice reform and tensions between minority communities and police, and here he is with a long history.

Wrong person, wrong job.

JUDY WOODRUFF: How much of a worry is that, David?

DAVID BROOKS: I do think it is a significant worry.

I mean, this past few weeks, past few months, past few years, maybe past few centuries, have been rife with racial tension. And this seems set to exploit that and to exacerbate that. I think that’s going to be one of the most likely and one of the ugliest features of the campaign.

I’m trying — as I said on the program last week, I’m trying to give a pause. The guy was elected. And, as I say, he’s been extremely consistent with his electoral campaign. He’s being authentic to what he ran on and what got elected.

And so I agree with Ruth. I think these people deserve to be confirmed. There’s nobody who, I don’t think, doesn’t deserve to be confirmed.

One other point, though, and this is about the Bannon point. He’s always had a teeny-tiny circle of trust. I can’t imagine that being in the Trump Cabinet will be a very important job. I do think this will be a White House-run administration with a teeny-tiny group of people surrounding him, including his family maybe.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, and that’s — I want to ask about that, because one thing everybody noticed is that his family is on the transition team, his children, his son-in-law, Ruth.

They were — his daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, were in that meeting yesterday with the Japanese prime minister.

Is this something — I mean, what? What are we to make of this?

RUTH MARCUS: Well, again, quite disturbing.

I do not begrudge anybody relying on their family members for advice. I do. Politicians regularly rely on family members for advice. But Donald Trump is in a unique position here. First of all, he has told us that he is going to solve — and I don’t think it’s a good solution — his problems of conflict of interests in his business by turning over the management to his children.

OK, maybe that’s adequate from his point of view. But now he’s simultaneously turning over the management to his children and bringing in his children, first three of them, to the transition, and then apparently tapping his son-in-law, married to one of the people who’s going to be managing this business and dealing with the conflict that way, to bring them into the White House. That’s number one.

Number two, in this small circle, you want a president without governing experience to be surrounded by people with experience in governing. Instead, it’s insular Trump surrounded by his family.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Does that bother you?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, what does bother me is the intermingling of the business and the public service aspect of this. And so I do agree with that.

But I do think, if the family members choose one side or the other, I would have no problem with Ivanka serving on the White House staff, frankly. But there’s a rule against it now, in theory, serving in the Cabinet, at least, maybe not in the White House, that was passed after Bobby Kennedy.

I personally think that’s a dumb rule. If a president wants to have a family member as — an executive of a small business can have a family member. I don’t have a problem with that. I actually think Ivanka would be a good influence on the administration.

But I do think as long as the — he’s so business-minded. As long as we’re constantly asking, is he trying to make a buck off this, is he trying to promote his hotel with this, then that’s just a corruption of what we think of as public service.


Well, I wanted to ask you both about the Democrats and where they stand right now, back on their heels.

But I really want to leave time here at the end for a few minutes to ask you both about our friend. You both knew her well, Gwen.

David, you were close friends.

Ruth, you have worked with her for so long.

Ruth, you go back to, what, early days at The Washington Post.

RUTH MARCUS: So, I can tell you the exact day, because it was my first day at The Washington Post, September 4, 1984.

I drove out to Prince George’s County, Upper Marlboro, Maryland, walked into the bureau, and there was Gwen Ifill with this luminous smile that David wrote so beautifully about. And we have been friends ever since.

I think — thinking, she went to The New York Times, so we covered the White House together. And I’m particularly remembering one Christmas Eve in Little Rock in 1992 after the Clinton election. I think Gwen’s editor had sent her a bottle of champagne, which we had to drink surreptitiously out of teacups, because I think the restaurant was dry.


RUTH MARCUS: And then I have to say finally that it’s actually thanks to Gwen that I’m sitting here tonight, because Mark was going to be away one day.

And Jim said, “Hey, who can — how can we broaden the circle and bring people in?”

And Gwen said, “What about Ruth?”

And I know I’m not only person for whom she went to bat and said, why don’t we expand the field of people that we use? And, so, I will miss her, and I’m thankful to her.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, she had an eye for talent. And we’re glad you’re here, too.

And, David, she was so fond of you.

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, and, well, I wrote this column.

And the way I ended it, which I think is a point that is a true one, is that nobody reminded you of her. You never thought, oh, who’s kind of like Gwen? Who’s the next best Gwen? There is no next best Gwen.

And I think what was unique about her was this combination of intense strength with intense warmth. And, you know, one of the toughest hours of TV I ever had, but maybe the best, was on “Meet the Press.” I did a show sometimes called “Imus in the Morning.” And Tim Russert did that show and David Gregory.

And he said some racist things. And I didn’t realize he had already said some racist things about her. And she was on the show, and she just was super tough on us.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Right. I remember that.

DAVID BROOKS: But then the intense warmth.

I have a photo on my phone of you and Gwen doing an exploding fist bump at the convention. And she’s laughing and she’s dancing in her chair, that warmth, that smile. And the two were so in tandem.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, our mutual friend John Dickerson over at CBS said you could read a book by the light of her smile. And I think we all agree with that.

Ruth Marcus, David Brooks, we thank you.

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Shields and Brooks on a ‘political earthquake’ and how America can move forward

Author: PBS NewsHour
Sat, Nov 12, 2016


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

And let me just kick this off by saying there’s nobody I would rather spend more than nine hours with on Election Night than the two of you.


MARK SHIELDS: Thank you so much, Judy.


JUDY WOODRUFF: So, having said that, political earthquake. The earth moved under our feet, David.

How big an earthquake was it?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, it’s certainly the political shock of our lives, at least my lifetime.

It feels like almost the ’60s, sort of like political revolution, cultural revolution, aesthetic revolution, the things that now you can say and get elected president. And so it was all those things.

I’m sort of finding myself in a strange emotional territory, if I could lie on the couch here. On the one hand, Trump appalls me. I won’t be shy about that.

But having — with the elective democratic process having taken its turn, I sort of feel we have to owe some respect to the process and owe some respect to the electorate and the people who voted him, on the assumption that they have something to teach us.

And so all these people are marching in the street. There is all this hostility. I find myself — and I think this was the president’s attitude and frankly Hillary Clinton’s attitude — of respectful pause. Maybe I will be as upset at Trump as I was in another week, but what do they try to teach us? Just try to understand what the situation we’re in is.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Respectful pause, Mark?


I, Judy, believe devoutly that the national election is the closest thing we have to a civic sacrament of democracy. And I really do think that heed must be paid, and when people make a decision, those who are on the other side, including me, accept it, for that reason.

I think that probably the best analysis, of the millions of words that were written, other than David’s — David’s were really perceptive and wise.

But there’s a woman named — I don’t know her name — Salena Zito at “Atlantic.” And she said something. She said, to understand this election, critics of Donald Trump take him literally, but not seriously. His supporters take him seriously, but not literally.

In other words, so while his critics were very upset with what he said, the — his supporters really were the mood and the positions he took, rather than precise phrases or words.

I say that because now, as of Tuesday, everyone has to take him seriously, and I think that’s what we’re seeing. I think the anxiety in schools that we hear, in minority communities, those with the archbishop of Los Angeles at Our Lady of the Saints Cathedral yesterday at an interfaith service with Jewish and Muslim, and was very open and said, our children are fearful that their parents — the government is going to come and take their parents away.

And I think that’s a consequence of the election. I mean, in addition, the fact that he won, but his positions appear to prevail, and I think there have left fear in a lot of places.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, David, I was going to ask the two of you what you think, with reflection, the voters were saying. But I also — I was struck by what we just heard a few minutes ago by voters in Manassas, Virginia.

One young woman said, I guess — she said, I guess hate is now state-sponsored.

And we heard a man say — another woman say, I’m for immigrants, just the right immigrants.

What were voters saying, do you think?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, they certainly want change. We know that. They’re fed up with a lot of talk and no change.

On the issues, they preferred her. She got better marks on the economy and foreign policy. But they just didn’t get the sense she was a reformer. So they want some unnamed change.

I think they also wanted some sense of dignity, some sense of being heard. I mean, in some sense, there is something noble, in that people that was people who felt marginalized, working-class voters, A, taking over their party from basically what had been a corporate party, and then asserting their will on the country, against groups of people who were more privileged than they are, both on the left and the right.

And so there is something nice about that. I think Trump is the wrong vehicle for that. But, you know, you’re living in a town, there are no jobs in the town, you know your friends are dying of O.D.-ing on opiates or something, you’re having trouble paying your bills, you’re playing by the rules, and other people are getting benefits without playing by the rules.

Maybe you’re willing to tolerate a lot of bigotry from Donald Trump if you say, just change things, just change things.

And so I don’t — I think the voters who voted for him certainly are willing to tolerate a lot of ugliness, but maybe, if you’re in desperate circumstances, or you think the country is deeply in trouble, you’re willing to tolerate that without necessarily liking it.

JUDY WOODRUFF: What did you hear? What do you think the voters were saying?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, the first thing that bothers me are my liberal friends, or too many of them, I think who immediately run to the race card.

The fact is that it’s the most dangerous place to be on the political scale is to brand those on the other side as racist. That’s the atomic bomb. That’s the nuclear weapon of an American. Once I accuse you of racist, I have demonized you, and it means any future collaboration, cooperation between us is a sign of my moral deficiency, if I would deal with someone like that. It’s just — it’s a terrible thing to do.

I say that for a factual reason. Barack Obama carried Iowa, carried Wisconsin, carried Michigan. He not only carried Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan twice. He carried the white — a majority of the white vote in those states.

And so Hillary Clinton lost them, Donald Trump won them, and it’s a little, I think, transparent, false to say that the people are racist. These are the same voters who would vote for an African-American man and didn’t vote for the white woman Democrat. So, I think that’s dangerous.

I think, Judy, it was a revolt of working-class Americans. I think it was a revolt against us in the press. I think it was a revolt against the ruling class who were indifferent to their plight, to the fact that, for a generation, their standard of living has declined or that their children’s futures are blighted.

I thought Peter Hart and Dan McGinn, when they wrote that the people who led this revolution are foreign to Washington and New York, they don’t go to Starbucks and they don’t take their children on tours, they care about high school sports more than about pro sports, they go to Walmart, McDonald’s, and they have declining incomes, and they think their grandparents and parents built this country. They scream that they want their country back.

And I think that — I think they saw indifference from the ruling elites, both public and private, particularly private.

JUDY WOODRUFF: You said it wasn’t race.

And, yet, David, people — many people of color are saying they feel the message is directed at them.

DAVID BROOKS: Right. So, there is a racial element here. There is clearly a racial element.

And so I think that I don’t have a machine to peer into the souls of the voters. So I don’t know how much of the racial element was dominant, how much was there, something they tolerated, something they endorsed.

Clearly, for some people, it was a large element. I do not believe, having spent these last many months interviewing Trump voters, that it’s a dominant element in at least a lot of the people I spoke to. They had good reason, as Mark just elucidated, for why they were really upset with the course of the country.

Their culture, their life economically, socially, families breaking apart, drug use, it’s going downhill. And I think the two things — one, we don’t want to turn this into a children of light, children of darkness, where us college-enlightened people, educated, enlightened people are looking down at those primitive hordes. We do not want that.

That’s what — that condescension is what fueled this thing in the first place. And so I don’t think we want that.

Second, through American history, we have had populist movements that often, often, often have this ugly racial element. But, often, there are warning signs of some deeper social and economic problem. And we have rapidly increasing technology, which is making life very good for people who are good at using words, and not so good for people who are not good at using words.

And so the ugliness can sometimes be super ugly, but also a warning sign of something down below.

MARK SHIELDS: No, I agree with what David said.

I would just add, Judy, that the problem is that what Donald Trump said, if you take it literally now, is cause for anxiety and nervousness.

JUDY WOODRUFF: You mean during the campaign.

MARK SHIELDS: What he said during the campaign, I mean, is — it’s legitimate, the anxiety and the nervousness that you feel and that children feel right now, because — if you do take him literally.

He has to do something to reassure, and beyond tweeting that he either likes or doesn’t like protests. I just — the protests, the breaking of windows at this point, I mean, I just want anybody in the protest to have an “I voted” sticker on their jacket lapel before they get out there.

And I understand the concern, but please accept this democracy. And he is the president. He’s going to be the president in 75 days, or whatever. And, you know, he now has a responsibility, I think, to calm those waters and to reassure people that there isn’t going to be — there aren’t going to be Storm Troopers coming down to take their grandparents in a patrol wagon.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Very quickly, in the last couple of minutes, David, we are seeing some signals from Donald Trump or the people he has put on his transition committee, putting in the vice president-elect, instead of Chris Christie. He’s putting his children, his son-in-law on that committee.

He said today that he’s — in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that he’s thinking about keeping part of the health care reform law after talking to President Obama about it.

So, what are we to think? Maybe this is not going to be all the big moves that were hinted at during the campaign?

DAVID BROOKS: I’m obviously outraged Tiffany didn’t get a job. Maybe she will get Fed chairman or something.

I think when — the nomination of Mike Pence is more of a sign that he’s going for conventional Republicans. Until last summer, Pence was a very conventional. He was in the House, well connected with the conventional movement Republicans.

And I assume he will tap, he may be more conventional. I think Donald Trump is going to find it very hard to do the kind of massive change he wants. Obamacare is woven into the fabric of health care. It’s very hard to just rip it out, as he sort of acknowledged with The Wall Street Journal.

The Iran deal, maybe we can withdraw from the deal, but our other partners are not going to withdraw from the deal. When you get down to each of these individual things, deporting people, when you get down to each of the individual things, the barriers to change are massive.

And the simple promises he makes just don’t apply to reality. So he’s got to do some big changes, because what he was voted on. But when you think about how to do it, it would take massive expertise, which his people, believe me, do not have.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Just 20 seconds, Mark. What do you think he…

MARK SHIELDS: Well, 213 times to vote to repeal Obamacare, it’s a very easy, grandstand act.

Doing it and taking 20 million people and taking them off insurance, those with preexisting conditions, those who don’t have any other coverage, you know, that’s a reality. And it is going to be difficult, make no mistake about it. And this is where you confront reality from the rhetoric of the campaign.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The transition begins.

Mark Shields, David Brooks, thank you both.

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After the election, how can America heal its political divide?

Author: PBS NewsHour
Tue, Nov 08, 2016


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JUDY WOODRUFF: But, for now, our election night coverage continues with a team that’s going to be joining us at this table all night long.

They are New York Times columnist David Brooks, Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report, Andra Gillespie of Emory University, Republican strategist Stuart Stevens, Democratic strategist Cornell Belcher, and right here sitting next to me, Mark Shields, syndicated columnist, and joining us from New York, Jeff Greenfield, who has been reporting for the “NewsHour Weekend” throughout this campaign.

So, thank you to all of you for being here.

I’m going to turn to you, David Brooks.

You just heard the Democratic leader of the House of Representatives talk about, frankly, the problems Democrats have in states that used to be all blue.

DAVID BROOKS, The New York Times: Yes.

And it struck me that she didn’t claim they were going to take over the House, a bit of realism there from Nancy Pelosi, I think, but optimism — and maybe well-earned optimism.

It is still a party — a problem for the party that working-class voters, white working-class voters are more and more heavily Republican. One of the exciting things that happened, whether you like it or not, this year was that the white working class took over a party, and they took over a party that had formerly been a corporate party of the rich and the elites. And that’s sort of an amazing thing that happens in American — rarely in American history.

JUDY WOODRUFF: We have a problem with your microphone, David Brooks. We are going to fix that and come right back to you in a minute.



AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: Hi, Judy.


AMY WALTER: And I think this may play out in the House tonight. As we’re watching these results come in, if the results play out as the poll numbers have suggested, where the Democrats are going to pick up seats will be in places that were formerly Republican, inner-city — or inner suburbs that were very Republican for much of our history now trending more Democratic, as white college-educated voters move into the Democratic column.

As working-class whites have moved out, white educated voters have moved into the Democratic column. And, at the same time, in places like the Iron Range in Minnesota, that upper rural part of Minnesota, you could see Republicans winning there, a district that Democrats have held for many, many, many, many years.

So, it’s really like a tale of two congressional districts. Right? We’re going to swap out the suburbs for the more rural areas. This has been happening over the last 10 years, but sort of at an accelerated pace, I think, this election cycle.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Stuart Stevens, are Nancy Pelosi’s expectations reasonable?

STUART STEVENS, Republican Strategist: I think probably she is going to probably call it pretty close to what’s going to happen.

You know, the big test, I think, tonight for the Trump campaign — and it’s going to affect these down-ballot races — is what happens with white college-educated voters? This has been a strong center of support for Republicans. No Republican has lost this in modern history. Even Goldwater won college-educated Republicans.

So, if Donald Trump, who has been losing them in polls, doesn’t carry them tonight, I think it’s going to have very interesting consequences up and down the ballot in some of these races.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark Shields, what are you looking at tonight?

MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist: Well, I’m looking at the fact that we’re going to make mystery. Either we will elect the first person in the history of the country who has never held a public office or served in the military of any kind in Donald Trump, or we will elect the first woman.

And only for the second time since World War II, we have got a possibility to electing a party to the third term in the White House. It happened with George H.W. Bush in 1988, and hasn’t happened other than that.

I think Democrats have a real problem culturally. I think they have become a cultural party, and I think a little elite and somewhat condescending toward white blue-collar working Americans. And I think that the Republicans had a great opening there.

Democrats are obviously far more comfortable with coastal types than they are with people in the heartland.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Cornell Belcher, I saw you smile broadly when Mark said that.

CORNELL BELCHER, Democratic Strategist: Well, it’s interesting that Democrats are now back-to-back majorities in national elections, and somehow the problem is Democrats have a cultural problem with working-class whites.

I think Democrats do have a problem with working-class whites. But, if you look into the future, I think the larger problem is the problem that Republicans have with the ascending electorate, right?

It’s a point of diminishing returns at some point with working-class whites. Do Democrats need to do better with working-class whites? Absolutely, they do. But, without a question, when we see her re-cobble together that ascending electorate that makes up a majority in this country now, I think it’s going to be hard-pressed to say that right now Democrats are the ones with the problem.

MARK SHIELDS: Could I just dissent just briefly from Cornell? Got to set the evening, he did, early.


MARK SHIELDS: That is this. The Democrats, in spite of assembling this national coalition and this majority, are noncompetitive in the House of Representatives. They’re frankly noncompetitive.

And they’re noncompetitive in districts that are basically blue-collar, white, more conservative culturally.

CORNELL BELCHER: But, Mark, what about — doesn’t that have a lot to do, quite frankly, with gerrymandering? We have gerrymandered these districts where…

MARK SHIELDS: They weren’t gerrymandered in 2010, Cornell. That’s all.

CORNELL BELCHER: Well, no, they were gerrymandered just before 2010.

MARK SHIELDS: No, they weren’t. No, they weren’t.

CORNELL BELCHER: Yes, they were.

MARK SHIELDS: It was the 2010 census that led to the redistricting,

CORNELL BELCHER: Well, they’re even worse now. Once upon a time in this country, you did have 30 or 40 congressional districts that were — when I was working at the DCCC, you really did have a lot more congressional districts that were highly contested.

That number is shrinking a lot now. And it has to do with people like me who are helping to draw these maps precisely in a way to keep incumbents in office.


HARI SREENIVASAN: Andra Gillespie, you wanted to chime in there?

ANDRA GILLESPIE, Emory University: So, if I will jump in here, what I would say is, it’s not just gerrymandering.

We also have to consider the ways that we have ideologically sorted ourselves into partisan camps in ways that we hadn’t before. A generation ago, you had liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats. Those don’t exist anymore. So, people understand enough about parties to know which issues and which bundles fall into which party, and they have fallen into those camps.

So, the question for tomorrow is, can people reach beyond the aisles and actually talk to people who disagree with them?

JUDY WOODRUFF: Amy Walter, you’re nodding.


Well, and we’re self-sorting now more than ever. You talk to demographers, they will tell you that we’re moving ourselves into areas that relate to our own, where we’re most comfortable in sociocultural ways.

And if you look, for example, at the question — Pew has asked this question. And I think it’s fantastic. Do you want to live in a place that is a close-in area, where you can walk everywhere, but you have a smaller house, or you get a bigger house and a bigger yard, but you have to drive everywhere?

Guess what? Seventy-five percent of liberals want the close-in suburb. Seventy-five percent of conservatives want the place where you have to drive. And so, literally, people are putting themselves into different communities and separating themselves.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Jeff Greenfield, I want to invite you into this conversation.

Are the old boundaries still relevant today?

JEFF GREENFIELD, Special Correspondent: Less and less.

It’s just striking to me that the Democratic Party has been the party of the working man and later working woman since the days of Andrew Jackson. And, as late as 1992, when whites were a far bigger proportion of the electorate, Bill Clinton effectively split the white vote with his Republican opponents both in ’92 and ’96.

And one of the things that I think has happened is that the focus on mobilization, get your vote out, has, I think, had a big cost, which is that the candidates, even though they will use the rhetoric, the pieties, but, in substantive ways, do not speak to the broader country, because it has become harder and harder to speak to the broader country.

And I think, whatever happens tonight, this campaign has been a loss to the civic nature of what a campaign’s supposed to be like, because the strategy of both campaigns has been get your folks out, and the heck with the other folks.

JUDY WOODRUFF: David Brooks, if your microphone is fixed, I want to ask you to come into this conversation about whether we are making what was already a bad situation worse.

DAVID BROOKS: I was wondering why Mark was meddling with my microphone.


DAVID BROOKS: No, I think one of the things, there has been the polarization, but there’s also the heat.

And tonight is often — is a lot about the heat with which this campaign has been conducted. And what makes tonight significant is, A, the size of the margin and the nature of the concession speech and whether we’re a country — we’re certainly a divided country.

This election has been like a flash flood that wipes away all the soil and reveals the chasms that have been dividing us and exacerbates them. But whether we’re even one country after tonight — if Democrats win, how Trump reacts will be super important. If Trump wins, Democrats will be stunned. And a lot of people will be stunned. And how Clinton reacts at that moment will be superduper important.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Yes, exactly.

Andra, I want you to speak about that, because there’s been — I have been hearing conversation for days now about, what’s the reaction going to be like? Yes, the results are important, but are people even going to be able to deal with the results, whatever side you’re on?

ANDRA GILLESPIE: There have been some surveys in the past couple of weeks where people have been asked that question. And they said that they’re not going to be happy about this.

And so I think we can expect that half the country is going to wake up upset tomorrow. And that’s why it’s really important for whoever loses to accept defeat graciously, and also for the winner to accept winning graciously, and also send out a conciliatory balm to the other side.

It’s not going to be enough, sadly. And I think that it’s going to be pretty contentious going after that. But I think tonight is the night where both candidates can change the tone enough that they can actually get us through, you know, at least the next couple of months, so that we can set up a new government.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Stuart Stevens, what incentive does Donald Trump have or Hillary Clinton have to change the tone today?

STUART STEVENS: Listen, I think one of the key elements of democracy is, somebody has to be willing to lose.

And what’s been extraordinary, I think, about Donald Trump’s comments is challenging that before we even have results. It’s one thing if there is a razor-thin margin, like 2000, where you have one person winning the Electoral College ultimately and one person winning the popular vote. OK, that took 31 days. It was a nightmare for the country.

But to prejudge this and talking about a rigged system, I think, is very corrosive to the whole process. Our process is out there amongst these states with thousands and thousands of local officials, many of them Republicans, and they’re really good and decent people.

It doesn’t mean mistakes don’t happen. We are going to have 140 million, 150 million people voting tonight. There are going to be mistakes. But the system isn’t rigged. And I think that you need — to put that out is something. We need to try to heal as soon as possible.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Cornell Belcher, whose responsibility is it to try to do this healing?

CORNELL BELCHER: Leadership matters. And this shouldn’t be a partisan thing.

Look, John McCain, after losing, he called Barack Obama “my president,” right? That’s a tradition in this country right now. And I fear what’s happening right now is that we’re losing sight of that tradition in so much of the anger of our politics.

It is important, whether you’re a Democrat or you’re a Republican, that you embrace our system, because it is not rigged. And the moment our people start thinking — and I’m concerned about in the polling numbers that I’m see as well with so many more people actually thinking the system is rigged.

That’s how we lose our democracy, when people don’t believe in the system anymore and they don’t accept the outcome of our politics. What Donald Trump — because I think Donald Trump is going to lose.

What Donald Trump does tonight, I think, is going to be very, very important not just for him and his brand, but for our country.

AMY WALTER: but think about where we were. Even in 2000, that was a very contentious election. We always remember the aftermath of the election, but going into that election, George W. Bush, his overall favorable/unfavorable rating was plus-23. It’s the highest that we had seen since we’d been looking back for the last 20 years. So, he was very viewed positively.

Now we’re going into an election where both candidates obviously viewed negatively, Hillary Clinton somewhere around minus-10 or 15, Donald Trump even lower than that, maybe at 20, minus-20 or minus-30. So there’s no residual goodwill there, that at least George W. Bush had something to go on.

Neither one of these candidates have any of that to start with.

STUART STEVENS: I think this is why parties are so important at this moment, because parties have to step forward and do what the candidates sometimes find difficult to do.


JUDY WOODRUFF: All right. We are going to have many opportunities tonight to come back to all of you.


JUDY WOODRUFF: So, save those thoughts.

But we’re getting off — we’re getting off tonight?


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Shields and Brooks on rancor in the electorate and the future of the Supreme Court

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Nov 04, 2016


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

So, gentlemen, this is the last time I get to ask you this on a Friday.

Mark, how does this race look?

MARK SHIELDS: It looks terrific. I mean, it really is.

And I just want it to keep going. I don’t want it to end.


MARK SHIELDS: I wish it was like baseball. We could go into extra innings.

No, I don’t think there is any question the whole temperature, the whole atmosphere of the race changed over the last eight days, since last we were together, when — with the Comey announcement of the FBI investigation.

I think what had been sort of an assumed Clinton victory, and Democrats taking over the Senate, I think it was stopped in its tracks. And while I still think she is the favorite, and is the favorite, there is certainly a lot more doubt about the Senate today.


DAVID BROOKS: Well, I think she’s the favorite.

I have a sense that it would have happened anyway and that, at the end of the day, people were going to come home to who they were. And what’s depressed me, frankly, most about this race is, we went into this country a divided nation, and now the chasms are just solidified, so divided along race, divided along gender, urban/rural, college-educated/non-college-educated. We can go down the list.

And, basically, less educated or high school-educated whites are going to Trump. It doesn’t matter what the guy does. And college-educated going to Clinton. Everyone is dividing based on demographic categories.

And, sometimes, you get the sense that the campaign barely matters. People are just going with their gene pool and whatever it is. And that is one of the more depressing aspects of this race for me.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, and you say it almost doesn’t matter what they say.

But they’re going out, Mark, on — with some pretty rough language. She continues to say he’s unacceptable, he doesn’t have the character to be president. He is saying — continues saying she needs to be in prison.

Somebody at one of his rallies today said, “Execute her.”

We’re watching as low as it can get, aren’t we?


Well, I think there’s no question Clinton — I’m not sure David’s right. He’s 97 percent right about 48 percent of the time.


MARK SHIELDS: But, no — but on whether it would have narrowed.

I think there was a sense that she had the possibility of a decisive victory. And I think she, at that point, wanted, the Clinton campaign wanted to end it on upbeat and more positive.

The problem is, you have two candidates, Judy, we have said time and again, are personally unfavorable. So, the spotlight is unkind to each, whoever’s in that spotlight.

And when Donald Trump was in the spotlight, losing three debates to Hillary Clinton, and the “Access Hollywood” tape, it hurt him and helped her. And what happened is, that changed and sort of changed her strategy.

She was trying to shift the spotlight back to him, I think inelegantly and ineffectively, quite frankly, in the last week by bringing out the former Miss Universe and trying to do that.

The best closer, quite honestly, is Barack Obama. He’s the best closer since Dennis Eckersley or Mariano Rivera.


MARK SHIELDS: He’s just a — he really knows how to close. If you want to see somebody do it well, just watch Barack Obama. He makes a far better case for her than she makes for herself.

Donald Trump is sounding the same theme he has sounded since May or June of 2015.


And, well, it’s a campaign of hate. Obama is a campaign of at least hope. At least his first campaign was. This is just a campaign of hate. And, you know, people who don’t like Trump really don’t like Trump. And I guess I’m among them.

And we just saw in our report about the Trump voters in Pennsylvania. Did you see — when they were shouting on the road, did you see anything nice about Trump? No. Send Clinton to jail.

And so it’s just — what was it? There was a Burt Lancaster movie where he had love and hate tattooed on his hands. And there’s just a — we’re in a psychosis of what they call negative polarization, where nobody likes their side, but they really hate the other side.

And it feels like it’s just building and building. And so we have got this cycle. And I don’t know if it pops on Election Day. I hope so. But the idea that Clinton is finishing this campaign bringing Miss America or the Miss Universe to the rallies just seems wrong to me.

I do think she should have pivoted and say, I am change, I am change, because people do want some change. And to end on this negative note, I think especially for her — he has no choice — that’s his whole repertoire.

I think, for her, I think it’s a very questionable way to end the campaign.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But, Mark, doesn’t that say that her campaign is really concerned here?


And, Judy, Hillary Clinton is in Detroit, Michigan, the Friday before the election. Michigan is one of the 18 states and the District of Columbia that are the blue wall, that have voted Democratic for six consecutive presidential elections that are constituting the 242 of the 270 electoral votes that the Democrats start with.

So, no, there’s a concern. You can tell more from than polls — from polls — by the candidates’ schedules, and where they’re spending time and resources. So, no, I think there is a real, real concern.


That sort of goes back to my point about demographics. Why is she in Michigan? Because Michigan was — we all thought it would be Florida, South Carolina, Nevada, all the — New Hampshire, the states we have been talking about. But there are a lot of white people in Wisconsin and Michigan.

And so there’s another route that he has in ways we didn’t expect, because of the way the demographics are just driving this election much more than ideology was in years past.

JUDY WOODRUFF: I hear people saying, don’t the American people deserve a better election than this? Couldn’t somebody have found a way, Mark, for the candidates to talk about something uplifting, or was it always going to come down to this?

MARK SHIELDS: Boy, I don’t know.

I mean, you have two candidates who were highly unfavorable. And the idea of somehow convincing people that their perceptions, in some cases long-held, were inaccurate or incomplete, the more appealing route, quite frankly, in the campaign was to try and hit the other fellow over the head.

David is right. It would be a negative mandate. And one other point David makes that is a good one, and it’s good to recall historically, Theodore White wrote that America is Republican until 5:00 or 6:00 at night.

And that’s when working people and their families got off work, had supper, and if America is going to vote — be Democratic, it’s going to happen between 5:30 and 8:00 at night. That has been totally turned on its ear.

The working-class, blue-collar, non-college-educated base of the Democratic Party is the base of Donald Trump’s campaign this year. And the Democrats are now an upscale party.

So, each party, just its message is totally out of kilter. The Democrats have an economic message that is directed at people at the lower end. That has been their cornerstone. The Republicans has been more upscale. Now the Republicans have a very low-scale, by economic standards, base. Donald Trump has.

And it’s just total conflict, Judy. And I think it became easier, quite frankly, just to hit the guy over the head than to try and make the positive case.

DAVID BROOKS: I would say some of it was contingent on Donald Trump being Donald Trump and changing the rules of the way we talk to each other.


DAVID BROOKS: Some of that was contingent.

But a lot of it is baked structurally into our society. And so we had a lot of good things over the years that were really good for America. I think globalization has been really good for America. I think the influx of immigrants has been really good for America. Feminism has been really good for America.

But there are a lot of people who used to be up in society, because of those three good things, are now down, a lot of high school-educated white guys. And they have been displaced.

And shame on us for not paying attention to that and helping them out. And, therefore, as a result, what happened was, they were alienated, they got super cynical, because they really were being shafted. And so they react in an angry way.

Well, that’s not a shock, given the last 30 or 50 years of American history. And so, for us going forward, it’s to not reverse the dynamism of American society and the diversity. It’s to pay attention to the people who are being ruined by it, and so this doesn’t happen again.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, it means there is a lot of sorting out to do after this election.

I want to ask you both about the Supreme Court.

Mark, we have heard from Republican senators in the last few weeks that they’re, no matter — if Hillary Clinton is elected — this is an if — no matter who she puts forward, they’re going to make sure that she doesn’t get to fill that last — that ninth seat on the court.

How are we to think about the Supreme Court anymore? We have now gone the better part of this year, since Justice Scalia’s death, President Obama’s nominee can’t get through. Has this become a litmus test of the litmus test?

MARK SHIELDS: Judy, in a year of irresponsibility, this is a new depth of irresponsibility. To say that the constitutional mandate of a national election, where millions of Americans vote and pick a new president, that that president is — what that president does, and under the Constitution, of nominating judges and justices, is somehow moot, and I’m not going to pay any attention to it, that’s unacceptable.

It really is. It’s beyond irresponsible. It’s beyond reckless. It is really — I think it’s criminal. I basically do. And anybody who holds that position, I think it’s self-disqualifying for any public office.

JUDY WOODRUFF: We heard it from John McCain. And I guess, this week, there was a comment from Richard Burr, the senator from North Carolina, and others.

MARK SHIELDS: I think Senator Cruz has put on — I think Senator McCain did walk it back, but you’re right. He did say it on radio.

DAVID BROOKS: My views about this are like Mark’s, only stronger.


DAVID BROOKS: I think it’s in the Constitution. And we not only have rules in the Constitution the way it should work. The president should be able to nominate justices. But we have an etiquette around the Constitution.

And what’s happened in America is, that etiquette has been acidified away. And I hate the nuclear option of going for 50 votes in the Senate. But if they behave this way, then I think the Democrats might be justified and go to the nuclear option, because we actually have to have a government. We have to have people confirmed and put into office.

And — but it’s the degradation of the way our government is supposed to run.

JUDY WOODRUFF: I didn’t give you all any warning about this, but I want to ask it in the last minute or so that we have left.

What do you say to the American people at this point about the choice they’re making, about how much difference it makes?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, it does. We know presidents make choices. We know — we have no idea what’s going to come up on a crisis over the next four years, unexpected, internationally, domestically.

And who that president is, the judgment, the intelligence, the confidence that that president has can very well determine whether we survive, let alone prosper, as a people.

DAVID BROOKS: Yes. It’s a job. It’s a job that involves some patience, a tolerance for boredom, the ability to work friendly with other people, to herd majorities. It’s a job.

And I can’t say who I’m going to vote for, but one person is clearly disqualified for that job. And I can’t mention his name.


JUDY WOODRUFF: David Brooks, Mark Shields, we will see you on election night.

And, by the way, Mark and David will be back here, along with other guests, on election night for our special coverage. It starts at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, and we want you to join us, too.

The post Shields and Brooks on rancor in the electorate and the future of the Supreme Court appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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Shields and Brooks on the election’s ‘parity of sleaze’

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Oct 28, 2016


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

Welcome, gentlemen.



MARK SHIELDS: Hi. Hello, Judy, Judy.

JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, we have a moment of levity before we talk about something very serious, David.

And that is this announcement from the FBI that they have a new batch of emails from a laptop that belongs to Hillary Clinton’s aide Huma Abedin. Eleven days before the election, what — how much does this matter?

DAVID BROOKS: I think it matters.

We’re not going to know the substance of it by Election Day. Whatever emails were in there, whatever they are investigating, it’s hard to believe we will have some actual knowledge. But it brings Anthony Weiner back to the surface.

And the argument that Republicans could make with a lot of justices, welcome to the next four years of your life. Having a reign of Clinton without a little — a lot of scandal bubble around side is just not something we have any historical precedent for. And so this is just another.

And who you hang around with and who you associate with is going to come back to haunt you. And it’s almost perverse, in the way we have come down to sex scandals and the way this election has descended into the realm of Kardashianville. But we’re here. And so I do think a lot of others will think, there is just scandal on both sides. It’s just all sleazy.

And that’s not the substance of what we have learned today, but that’s the atmospherics of it.

JUDY WOODRUFF: What effect do you think this is going to have?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, first of all, it will have a long-term effect on politics, I think.

And that is Martin Lomasney, who was the legendary ward boss in Boston around the turn of the century and the early 20th century, said, never write it when you can say it, never say it when you can wink it, and never wink it when you can nod it.

I mean, the compulsion to put all this stuff in emails, I think, comes back, is going to haunt future campaigns. As far as right now, for the Clinton campaign, it’s a real kick in the teeth. That had been resolved. They’d gotten a clean bill of health, or at least a non-prosecution, by the FBI director 90 days ago.

And to have this revisited, especially featuring Anthony Weiner, who doesn’t have to be introduced to the nation, is a political problem. And it does just remind of the — and the problems and the difficulties that have surrounded the family for years.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, it’s a problem, even not knowing what’s in these emails, which we won’t know?

DAVID BROOKS: Right. There are two levels of media information. There is those of us who cover politics a lot and probably most people watching our shows, whether it’s on this channel or it’s any of the cables or the many networks. They have decided.

But this gets to “Entertainment Tonight.” It gets to every comedian. It gets to The National Enquirer. It gets out to the group of people who are, as they say, not information-rich voters, who are the ones who are actually deciding. And a lot of their decision is, I really don’t like this Donald Trump guy, but — so I have got to vote for Clinton.

But then they get this news about Clinton. And they’re just going on their moral instincts, and it begins to look like parity of sleaze.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Mark, do you think there are enough people out there who either — they are either undecided or they’re just persuadable at this point, or maybe they will stay home and not vote?

MARK SHIELDS: I think, Judy, that there is no question going into this week that the Democrats were very much in the saddle and very dominant, when, in Utah, which, in the last 10 elections, seven times has been the most Republican state in the union, in the last week of October, the Republicans feel it’s necessary because of the third-party challenge of Evan McMullin, that they’re worried about it being a three-way race and perhaps losing Utah.

They send the vice presidential candidate all the way out there. That tells you their playing defense. And right next door in Arizona, which has voted Republican 15 of the last 16 times, Michelle Obama is introduced by Barry Goldwater’s granddaughter to a crowd of 7,000, after Bernie Sanders got — Democrats are on the offensive.

And then you get three things that happened. You get the Obamacare raise and hikes. You get the WikiLeaks and the peek, the unpleasant peek, unflattering peek anyway, into the financial doings of the Clinton Foundation and Bill — and former President Bill Clinton, and then you get this.

And what does it hurt? It hurts, Judy, the women voters, especially Republican women voters, who, as David said, had turned off of Donald Trump, were trending toward Hillary Clinton. And I think younger idealistic Sanders voters, it may just stop them for a second, as they were turning to going to vote for Hillary Clinton, whether, gee, do I really want to do it? And I think that’s the problem for Democrats.

DAVID BROOKS: And maybe we should put in perspective.

Say, Hillary Clinton — say, she has an 87 percent chance of winning now. I think this may knock her down a point or two, and so that may reduce her chance of winning to like 80 or 75. And so I don’t think it’s like a game-changer by any stretch of the imagination.

But a point or two, if we were driving home and somebody said you have a 30 percent chance of getting into a wreck on the way home, we would think, that’s pretty bad odds. And so that — it does slightly increase the odds.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, you’re saying it’s not going to turn the race around, but you’re saying it will have an effect?

MARK SHIELDS: I just think everything was heading in her direction, and I think that it maybe freezes that.

I agree it’s not at this point a game-changer, by any means, Judy. But if Hillary Clinton won by five points or more, virtually every Republican I know believes she will carry the Senate. And if, all of a sudden, it’s a three-point, a two-point victory, it means a couple of things.

It means that the Senate is very much up for grabs and it also means that Donald Trump will be a factor in a very bloody civil war in the Republican Party after this election.

JUDY WOODRUFF: You mean whichever way this goes?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, I think, if he suffered a real defeat, a stinging defeat of 10 points, or in that area, I think he would no longer be a major figure, because nobody in the Republican Party basically wants him to be there. But he would have a claim if he loses by two.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, this has clearly been a bad week for Hillary Clinton.

David, I do want to bring up something Mark mentioned. And that is, you hear not just Democratic women, independent women, Republican women saying — and we had a discussion about it here on the “NewsHour” last night — who are really troubled by what they have seen in the course of this election.

How long-lasting a problem is that for the Republican Party?

DAVID BROOKS: I think it’s mostly Trump-related.

Of course, there’s always been a gender gap. But among — it’s — for Republicans politically, it’s sort of been manageable. And it depends on how they project themselves. In some years, they have done better.

But Donald Trump is so egregious in the way he talks about women, the way he allegedly treated women, I do think it’s more his own thing. And where you’re seeing it especially is among college-educated women. The college-educated in general in all our previous elections have voted Republican, but now they’re going massively for the Democrats. And college-educated women, in particular, like 65 percent for Hillary Clinton.

And they’re turned off of Trump both on issues, but especially on these moral positions, or the moral behavior that he’s undertaken. But I still think it’s mostly a Trump phenomenon. If you get — next time you get a Mitt Romney or somebody who’s just morally clean, I don’t think it lingers.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you think that that’s the way it will work, Mark?

MARK SHIELDS: No, I don’t.

I think Mitt Romney is the conspicuous exception. Mitt Romney was the man who stood up to Donald Trump early, hard, never wavered. We have seen this back-and-forth, Jason Chaffetz from Utah saying, I have a 15-year-old daughter. There’s no way I could support somebody like him.

Now he’s voting for him. You get this back-and-forth. I just think, Judy, I mean, the Democrats have tried the war against women in the past. It didn’t really have that much traction. But I…

JUDY WOODRUFF: Accusing the Republicans of…


MARK SHIELDS: Accusing the Republicans waging a war on women.

But when you have got a candidate who basically authors his own how-to tape on how to assault women for your own needs and wants, you know, without impunity — with impunity, and you don’t have that many people stand up and say he’s unacceptable, I think it’s a stain on the Republicans,.

And I think it could very well be a problem, not of the dimensions of ’64 and the Civil Rights Act. But I think he’s not — it’s not going to go away in a hurry.


Well, I agree it’s a stain, but I would make a generational point here that there is a big difference, especially on some of these issues and basically on ethnic diversity issues, on a bunch of issues and sensibility issues, between older Republicans and younger Republicans.

And what Newt Gingrich said to Megyn Kelly, a total insensitivity to sexual assault, that is just — I don’t meet too many Republican candidates under 45 who are that numb and that blind.

And I do think there’s different attitudes growing up in the Republican Party. I’m struck especially among social conservatives, among evangelical voters. It’s very hard to find an evangelical person under 45, let alone on some of the Christian college campuses, who has any tolerance for Donald Trump.

Of course, they’re there, but there is such a stark generational divide. So, the rising group of Republican voters are different tonally on a lot of these issues.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, it’s not just evangelical women, who we have talked about.

MARK SHIELDS: I don’t disagree with David.

But I think what’s been unleashed by this experience, by Donald Trump and by the women who have come forth, I think there’s been a spontaneous, almost public and private confessional of women everywhere at every generation about revealing to their own daughters, to their spouses, to their family…

JUDY WOODRUFF: About their own experience.

MARK SHIELDS: … about their own experience.

And I think this is out there now. I mean, it really is. And I think this is an — it’s an issue that was very private. And I think now it’s very much a part of the national agenda. And I think there is not going to be an unwillingness to address this in the future, like there has been in the past.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And in that connection, I will just mention briefly, Marcia Coyle, who is our Supreme Court reporter…


JUDY WOODRUFF: She’s a regular on the “NewsHour” — reported this week for “The National Law Journal,” a woman who just posted on her Facebook page, personally, something that happened between her and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. That is now in the news.

But it goes to your point Mark about, it’s coming forward.

Just a little bit of time before — I don’t want to leave everybody on a political note tonight, because there is something going on in this country that has to do with baseball, and it’s the World Series, and it’s the Cubs and the Indians. These are not two teams that have spent a lot of time in the finals of the Series.

So, I want to — you two love baseball. So, what do you see happening? And what do you — you have got to tell me who’s going to win.


MARK SHIELDS: Well, I can’t tell you who will win, but I will say this, Judy.

Everybody knows it’s — Teddy Roosevelt was president the last time the Cubs won the World Series, 1908. OK? And so the Cubs are kind of America’s darling. I mean, everybody’s rooting for them, and they’re trendy. They’re kind of chic.

But Cleveland, Cleveland is special. Cleveland was the second franchise and the first in the American League to desegregate in 1948.

And, beyond that, it’s taken a lot of — they are the real underdogs in this race — I mean, in this competition. So, I have a very soft spot for Cleveland.

And Jim Bouton, who wrote “Ball Four,” of the Yankees said once that, if you’re going to have a flying accident, you want it on the way into Cleveland, not the way out. I mean, that’s a terrible thing to say about a city. So, I’m rooting for them.

DAVID BROOKS: I’m appalled that you can’t pick a side.


DAVID BROOKS: I think we’re morally obligated to pick the Chicago Cubs. I have wondering who to vote for. I’m writing in Kyle Schwarber, Indiana University, proud native, great hitter, coming out of the bench.

MARK SHIELDS: Great story.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Owner of the team.


DAVID BROOKS: No, no. He’s a — the designated hitter.



MARK SHIELDS: Six hundred days, he hadn’t faced face Major League pitching, and gets the hit and…

DAVID BROOKS: Schwarber for president.



JUDY WOODRUFF: We heard it here first.


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

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Shields and Brooks on the danger of our ideological divide

Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Oct 21, 2016


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JUDY WOODRUFF: But, first, for the second time this week, we get the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That is syndicated columnist Mark Shields, and New York Times columnist David Brooks, who’s joining us tonight from Houston.

And it’s so exciting. We get to see you twice this week.


JUDY WOODRUFF: The first time, Mark, of course was after Wednesday night’s debate, the final debate between these presidential candidates. What has changed since then?

MARK SHIELDS: I think the third debate, Judy, I think there was an awareness Donald Trump is not an unintelligent man. And he understood, I think, two things after the debates, A, that Hillary Clinton had beaten him in three debates.

She was better prepared. She outflanked him tactically. She got him to go for the bait on things like choked when meeting with the president of Mexico. And also there has to be the understanding that this was — because he was trailing, has been trailing in the polls, this was the last great chance where two campaigns collide, they’re on the same stage, he could challenge, change the terms of the debate. He didn’t.

And he, I think, almost as a consolation, has tried to divert the debate that he’s losing to a discussion, I mean, a reckless and dangerous discussion, about the legitimacy of the American elections, something that’s never been challenged before by any major party candidate.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Where do you see things right now, David?

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I do think there is an acceptance, I don’t know if in Donald Trump’s brain, but certainly in the Republican Party, about the fact that he’s going to lose, or the likelihood that he’s going to lose.

And the question becomes, how do people react to that? Two weeks ago, I was in Idaho, and I ran into a guy who said, well, obviously Trump is going to win because everybody I know is voting for him. And I tried to persuade — argue with this guy, well, if you look at the polls, he is actually not leading.

And this guy just wouldn’t accept that. That was not part of his lived reality. And you got the sense a guy like that, if Trump does lose, will be very angry and disbelieving and may be sensitive to the idea that the election was rigged.

Yesterday, I was in Mississippi. And there, there was a quietude, a passivity. I don’t know all the stages of grief, but acceptance is one of them. And there was a level of acceptance in a lot of the folks I spoke to there. I suspect that the latter group is the larger part and that, even if he does protest the election in some way, there will be some acceptance that he lost fair and square.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark, how much fallout is there over Trump’s unwillingness to say that he will accept the results of the election, whatever they are?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, I think, first of all, Judy, it puts other Republican candidates in a terrible position.

I mean, you have noticed the parade, the cavalcade of Republicans attesting to their belief in the ballot box, the belief in legitimacy and validity of American elections. Republicans are on the ballot on November 8. They’re going to win or lose by 100 votes or 200 votes in some cases. Do they want the legitimacy of that election tested?

So, I think, in that sense — but just enlarging upon what David — the point David made, it’s not restricted to the Trump people who don’t believe. There are Democrats who don’t believe that — there is a cleavage and a divide in this country like I have never seen before.

If you’re on the other side from me, you’re not simply wrong or ill-informed or mistaken. We don’t share the same country, the same values. You may not be the same kind of an American I am.

I think it’s really dangerous and it’s an enormous challenge for the next president.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, David, you’re seeing that out there on the trail, if you will, where you have been traveling around the country.

I want to ask you, though, about Trump’s continued, I don’t know — how do you describe the state he’s in? He goes to the Al Smith Dinner in New York City last night. This gets a lot of coverage today, where he — instead of doing the sort of self-deprecating jokes that people traditionally do, he really continues to go hard after Hillary Clinton.

Does it matter at this point that he’s still angry?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, angry is what he does.

I have to say, I read all the coverage, expecting to be appalled by his speech and cheered by Clinton’s. I thought they were both pretty bad. I thought they were both a little too harsh.

His was worse, but hers wasn’t funny or particularly well-delivered. So, it’s going to be a dreary couple of years of comedy acts, no matter who is elected.

I do think that his attacks, the line that she hates Catholics, is just tone-deaf and it’s just inner bitterness that is coming to the surface in unattractive ways. And I do think, starting with the — not only starting, but continuing with the claim that he won’t accept the — automatically the results of the election does fundamentally undermine the etiquette we have built up in our society.

Our system is not only based on rules, but a series of self-restraints that we won’t be as barbaric as we could be in competing for power because we know if we’re all barbaric as we could be, the whole country and the whole society falls apart.

And my critique with conservatives who say, well, I really hate the guy, but I need to vote for him because of the Supreme Court, the problem is that the moral foundation of the society, the way we interact with each other is more fundamental than the Supreme Court.

And if that gets polluted and that gets destroyed by somebody who’s just brutalistic and savage, then it doesn’t matter who’s on the Supreme Court because we have lost our country. And so I think their argument that the Supreme Court is worth it is basically the wrong argument when he’s behaving this way.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Pick up on that, Mark.


No, the Al Smith Dinner, first of all, it’s a marvelous occasion. It’s really where people, candidates do come. And, Judy, you have covered enough campaigns. One of the first things every press secretary assures you is, the boss has a wonderful sense of humor, because not to have a sense of humor is considered flagrantly un-American.

And I remember George W. Bush at that dinner in 2000 standing up and saying, look at this audience, designer dresses and white tie and tails, the haves and the have-mores. Some people call you the elite. I call you my base.

So, he was laughing at himself that he was the candidate of the well-off or whatever else. And I think Trump just missed this completely. But I agree with David that there was too much of an edge even in Clinton’s remarks. But Trump just missed the whole thing, and it was — it’s a tone-deafness that’s — it’s unsettling.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let’s talk a little bit, Mark and David, about what Hillary Clinton is saying out on the trail.

She isn’t hitting as many campaign stops as he is, but, David, we see today she is talking to voters about — she is saying things like, think about the future of the country. What sort of future do you want, what sort of country do you want? She said at one point, you live your life. I will do the worrying.

Does it sound like she’s already winding this thing down?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, there is a lot of let’s go for the landslide talk out of the Democratic Party, which a normal — the normal rules of campaigning, that’s a no-no.

You want your people to come out. You don’t want them to think, oh, we got this one in the bag. And so they may be trying to run up the score just to renounce the whole idea of the Trump idea. I get that.

But it’s come out in the WikiLeaks. And it’s been evident. And Mark and I have been talking about it at each debate. It’s not clear to people outside the campaign and even, as we learned from WikiLeaks, inside the campaign, what the core passion is.

What are — the core, animating thing that she would go to the mat for? And I still think that’s true. And in her rallies this week, it’s still evident that she doesn’t have a core rally, except for denying Donald Trump — a core passion, except denying Donald Trump the presidency.

I hope she finishes with something, because, in the likelihood that she wins, something to coast off of to sort of give herself a sense of priorities for the next few months and then the first 100 days.

JUDY WOODRUFF: You know, Mark, that’s a critique that you and David have been making for some time.

MARK SHIELDS: Repetitively.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Competitively. You have been making it repetitively, competitively.

MARK SHIELDS: I have anyway. David makes it freshly.


JUDY WOODRUFF: But some version of it, you both have been critical of her for not having a theme to her campaign.

Do you just at this point assume we’re not going to hear it, or…

MARK SHIELDS: Yes, I don’t think it’s there. I don’t think the lift of a driving dream or whatever, the Obama lift, the Reagan lift, I just don’t — I don’t think it’s there.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Stronger together doesn’t…

MARK SHIELDS: Stronger together is, I think, a preposition and a comparative adjective, but it’s not really an action verb or what it is.

I do think it makes sense for the Democrats to — that Trump has done a favor for them as far as turnout, because there isn’t that kind of enthusiasm and passion for her candidacy. And by his question of legitimacy, the idea that your vote does count, that it does matter, because, if it’s close, he’s going to raise questions about it.

So I think, in a strange way, he’s become the turnout agent for Democratic voting on November 8 by his questioning of the legitimacy and saying he’s going to challenge whether — the constitutionality of the vote. So I think, in that sense, it works.

But I don’t think we’re going to get that — not going to take us to the top of the mountain.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, is he doing her that favor?


JUDY WOODRUFF: Go ahead. Go ahead, David.

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I would say I ran into a guy in Louisiana, in New Orleans, because I’m going to the fun places, too.

And he said he was going to vote for neither of the candidates, just because he was so appalled, until that Trump reference to not respecting the election results. And then he decided to go for Clinton, because he said, listen, this guy’s got to lose badly. We have got to at least defend that principle.

And so I do think that what he said sort of over — did overshadow everything he said in the debate and will drive up some of Clinton’s margins potentially.

JUDY WOODRUFF: There is so much talk in this country about how divided the country is still going to be, Mark, after this election.

Is there anything these candidates can do, either the candidates at the top of the ticket, Paul Ryan, or any of the other candidates can do to begin to address that, or do you just wait until the election is over and hope it works out?

MARK SHIELDS: You hope that there will be a sense of resolution.

I think Democrats ought to be concerned, Judy, that the party, in this election, has become almost prideful about the college-educated vote that it’s getting, the support that Hillary Clinton is getting against Donald Trump.

And, understandably, white working-class voters or working-class voters have felt abandoned, have felt, in many senses, disparaged by the political leadership of the country. And they have been the core historically of the Democratic Party, whether it’s Norma Rae or Joe Hill or the great stories of fighting for the underdog.

And I think the Democrats, I would hope that Hillary Clinton and the Democratic leadership wouldn’t be quite as smug about saying, oh, we have got the college-educated, aren’t we something, and understand that the anger and the sense of outrage and hurt that these people are feeling, many of whom are supporting Donald Trump, is legitimate and real.

And they feel abandoned by the Democratic Party, by Washington and certainly hurt by Wall Street.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, David, no matter what the outcome, the Democrats are due for some soul-searching, along with the Republicans?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, everybody.

I mean, I certainly hear a lot of people say that Trump not only incited some bad things. He also exposed some things. He exposed pain in the country that a lot of us didn’t have the full extent of, some of the divisions and chasms in the country.

And so that’s been an education which Donald Trump has given us, to his credit. And, secondly — and maybe it’s just what people say to me, but I hear a lot of desire for a snap-back, that we have had so much vulgarity, so much throwing away of any standards of decency, that there has been a lot of people coming forward and say, no, let’s — on matters of how we talk to each other, on matters how we respect each other and relate to each other, let’s not only stop doing this, let’s snap back and address the problems that we have all been suffering under during this election campaign.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Wouldn’t that be a welcome thing?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, David, the coarsening of the culture didn’t begin with Donald Trump. He’s accelerated it, but it did not — we have coarsened our country over the last generation.

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

The post Shields and Brooks on the danger of our ideological divide appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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