Shields and Brooks on Trump-Pelosi feud, 2020 Democrats

Shields and Brooks on Trump-Pelosi feud, 2020 Democrats


JUDY WOODRUFF: And now we turn to the analysis
of Shields and Brooks. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and
New York Times columnist David Brooks. Hello to both of you. So, we are trying to work our way through
a conversation with each one of these candidates. Mark, there are now, as we said, 23 of them. We talked to Eric Swalwell tonight, Kirsten
Gillibrand last night. I’m not going to say they are one-issue candidates,
but they are — in his case, you heard him talk about gun control, Kirsten Gillibrand
emphasizing women’s issues. What are you hearing from them? Is it smart for them to seize on one issue
or not? MARK SHIELDS: Well, we will find out whether
it is. It just strikes me that abortion, as an issue,
has been… JUDY WOODRUFF: What she’s talking about. MARK SHIELDS: That’s where Kirsten Gillibrand
is probably most prominently identified — is an issue where those who seek serious and
large change find themselves on the political defensive. And I think it’s fair to say that it’s hard
to imagine anybody running a winning national campaign on enlarging and making statutory
abortion legal in all circumstances or, for that matter, a Democratic Party which is essentially
unwelcoming to those people who are — have reservations or are pro-life, but agree on
every other issue. Essentially, we had Bob Casey in his fifth
term from Pennsylvania, the United States senator, wouldn’t be welcome and not receive
party backing, basically. JUDY WOODRUFF: What is coming through to you? DAVID BROOKS: Yes. When I look at these candidates, I’m first
struck by how the self-esteem movement was obviously very effective. (LAUGHTER) DAVID BROOKS: Because, when I look at the
presidency — I have interviewed a lot of presidents since Reagan, really. And the one thing I come away with after every
single interview was, I could never do that job. Like, it’s a really hard job. And Eisenhower — if I were Eisenhower, I
would think, yes, I could do that. I have run a war. Franklin Roosevelt was governor of New York. Ronald Reagan was governor of California. George H.W. Bush had served in every position
almost imaginable. But why these people think they could be president
of the United States is a little mystifying to me. But maybe they’re right. The second thing I look for is a unique selling
proposition, like an actual route to the White House, why you’re called to run, not — why
it’s not just about you getting a little more famous, but why there’s been some call on
you to run. And for Elizabeth Warren, I can see it. She’s got a set of policies and plans that
are sort of unique. It’s a unique selling proposition. Biden’s got broad experience. Bernie Sanders has an outlook. With a lot of the candidates, a lot of the
23, I don’t quite see a unique selling proposition or politically even a route to victory. JUDY WOODRUFF: Hmm. Well… MARK SHIELDS: Well, no, I don’t argue with
that. I mean, I just say, the uneasy consensus on
abortion in this country seems to me be in favor of the status quo, which is rape, incest
and the life of the mother. And that — to me, if you start to change
that, which I think Republicans are finding right now, when you have got the Republican
national chair disavowing it, and the Republican Senate majority leader disavowing the latest
change, the most zealous changes that the Republicans are making, I think it tells you
something about the politics of that issue. DAVID BROOKS: It’s weird that 50 percent of
the country is sort of in the middle on abortion. MARK SHIELDS: Yes. DAVID BROOKS: And Gillibrand says no Democratic
candidate should get support if they’re in the 50 percent, which is like a guarantee
of permanent minority. JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, well, let’s talk
about something that’s consumed us for the last couple of days. And that is what was a fight, a battle between
the president and Democrats in the Congress over subpoenas and documents and so forth
that has turned into this very personal feud, Mark, between Speaker Pelosi and President
Trump. And here is just a little bit of what the
two of them have been saying about each other over the last two days. MARK SHIELDS: OK. REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): We believe that the president
of the United States is engaged in a cover-up. DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States:
I don’t do cover-ups. I’m the most transparent president probably
in the history of this country. So, get these phony investigations over with. REP. NANCY PELOSI: I pray for the president of
the United States. I wish that his family or his administration
or his staff would have an intervention for the good of the country. The White House is just crying out for impeachment. That’s why he flipped yesterday. DONALD TRUMP: I’m an extremely stable genius. She’s a mess. Look, let’s face it. Crazy Nancy, I will tell you what, I have
been watching her. And I have been watching her for a long period
of time. She’s not the same person. She’s lost it. I think Nancy Pelosi is not helping this country. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Mark, it’s gotten very
personal. MARK SHIELDS: It has gotten very personal,
particularly on the president’s part. And it just struck me, when Nancy Pelosi used
the term intervention, that’s a serious — that is a — that’s an attempt, a collective attempt,
a cooperative attempt, a collaborative attempt on the part of family and friends to intercede
and to present to a person they think is suffering from an addiction or some sort of condition
that that condition is out of control, and with the idea of seeking remedy and seeking
repair. And I don’t think she used the term lightly. And I would add to that, when you get General
James Mattis, who has been totally silent… JUDY WOODRUFF: Former defense secretary. MARK SHIELDS: Former defense secretary. He left, and he now is cautioning this president
on Iran. He is cautioning him, the United States, on
the use of military power and arguing that diplomacy is important. When you get the former secretary of defense,
whom the president upbraided and insulted, Rex Tillerson, going to the Congress, and
really raising serious questions about the president’s… JUDY WOODRUFF: He testified this week. MARK SHIELDS: Testified that the president
was unprepared, ill-prepared for the summit in Hamburg with Secretary — with Mr. Putin,
and left the United States at a disadvantage, I think that this a larger message here than
just political back and forth. I think there’s a serious concern about this
president and this presidency. And, Judy, the first rule I learned covering
American president politics is, beware of the presidential candidate who does not have
friends of his or her own age who can tell him when he’s wrong and to go to hell. And, right now, there are no grownups left
in the White House. Donald Trump has Mr. Kushner and Mr. Miller
as his two confidants. JUDY WOODRUFF: How serious do you see this? DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I mean, it irks me that
they’re both questioning each other’s mental competence, basically. You can question policies. You can question a lot of things, but to say
someone is basically in mental decline, it just — it just strikes me as a little too
personal. Donald Trump was — is in the Hall of Fame
of the World Wrestling Federation. And he’s taking it to the World Wrestling
Federation levels of confrontation. And do I think he knows what he’s doing? Well, at some level, I do think he does. The question is, in that stage play, when
he confronted all the Democrats, was it him going crazy because he’s so self-obsessed? Yes. But was — is there also some craftiness to
it? Yes. I think it’s politically the right move for
him. If you look around the world, what’s rising
is hostility to elites? Modi gets elected. Australia, Brexit, Netanyahu, it’s just all
over the world. And you can win, you can be forgiven a lot
of sins, if you oppose coastal elites in our country, urban elites. And he’s riding that train. And Nancy Pelosi is a good foil for that. And, politically, I do think there’s some
— it’s not crazy what he’s doing. JUDY WOODRUFF: Well… MARK SHIELDS: Can I just disagree with David,
OK? And that’s this? I don’t think it is shrewd. I mean, remember what they were discussing. JUDY WOODRUFF: I’m sorry, you don’t think
it’s… MARK SHIELDS: I don’t think it is shrewd. I don’t think it’s clever. What they were discussing is the infrastructure
of the United States. If there’s one issue on which there is agreement
that the country that was number one on all infrastructure, roads, highways, airports,
ports, rail just 15 years ago, and is now number nine, and we’re falling apart — we
have got an $836 billion back-load. We haven’t raised the gasoline tax in 26 years. And there’s something with the economy just
maybe needing a goose very well next year. I mean, this begs to be done. It’s something that the country desperately
needs. And he walks away from it. He walks away from it and just ignores it,
when, in fact, he could have a political success and a public success. DAVID BROOKS: I would say, first of all, the
fact that he walked away from it shows he cares about more himself than the country. MARK SHIELDS: Yes. DAVID BROOKS: That, I agree with. MARK SHIELDS: OK. DAVID BROOKS: But I don’t think it’s wrong
to think that voters are driven more by animosity than by, what have you done for me? If you can whip up animosities in this climate,
or at least among some voters, then you have got a route to victory, rather than saying,
oh, I did something really good for you, you should be grateful, you should reward me. Those kind of soft and uplifting emotions
are a little alien right now from politics. JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let me just say, speaking
of whipping up animosities, I just want to show you just this, again, a short clip. This is something that the president tweeted
a version of this. His personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, had spread
this on Twitter and then pulled it back. This is a doctored and then a real version
of Nancy Pelosi speaking this week. I just want to show you a bit of it. REP. NANCY PELOSI: And then he had a press conference
in the Rose Garden with all this sort of visuals that obviously were planned. And then he had a press conference in the
Rose Garden with all this sort of visuals that obviously were planned. JUDY WOODRUFF: So — and, I mean, we have
seen this happen in social media. It’s what’s going on right now. But to know that the president’s lawyer — the
president was pushing another version of Pelosi. They pulled together some clips where Pelosi
was speaking in a sort of halting way and had it on FOX Business Channel. I mean, what are we seeing here? MARK SHIELDS: We’re seeing, Judy, the lack
of any moral center or compass in a president and a presidency. I mean, when — they’re going to ask — the
grandchildren are going to ask, what did you stand for, grandpa, what did you do? I mean, when Roosevelt brought a country that
was on its knees and its back, back to its feet, when Ronald Reagan won the Cold War,
I mean, when Lyndon Johnson brought civil rights to the country, this is what he’s going
to say? I doctored up, I made my opponents look bad,
I put out phony tapes on them? I mean, this is beyond — this is an indignity
to the office, and it’s a disgrace, really, to the country. DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I agree with that, but
it’s sort of the times. We’re sort of the old legacy media. The “NewsHour,” The New York Times, The Washington
Post, we’re legacy media. But the one thing legacy media has is, we
have basic standards below which it’s unimaginable to sink, like making up stuff. JUDY WOODRUFF: Absolutely. DAVID BROOKS: And if you do make an error,
you correct it. And so that’s just the job we do. It’s the normal thing, part of our world. The Internet comes in, and there are some
things on the Internet that are great, that live up to the standards that we’re used to
as professionals, and some things that are not. And you have got to make the distinction between
those above the line and those below the line. But that distinction between above the line
and below the line seems to get washed away on the Internet. And it doesn’t help that the president doesn’t
seem — even seem to acknowledge the idea of the line. JUDY WOODRUFF: It’s the Internet. It’s social media. It’s also some work being done on cable — on
cable news. MARK SHIELDS: That’s right. JUDY WOODRUFF: I just want to quickly, finally,
come back to what has apparently gotten under the president’s skin, David. And that is the Congress under Pelosi — the
House — she’s saying, we’re not going to move directly to any sort of impeachment proceeding,
but we are going to continue to gather facts. Are we seeing that train move inevitably down
the track? It’s the question I was asking Congressman
Swalwell. DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I think we are, actually. I think she’s right to slow-walk it. But if you look at the shift at where Democratic
voters are, the Democratic voters in recent polls have shifted much more to, we need to
impeach. That is certainly where the basis is. The Democratic candidates, the presidentials
out in the field are moving in that direction. So I think we’re probably going to move in
that direction. Again, I worry it gives Trump his only argument,
that they’re out to get me and they’re wrong, and it’s hyperpartisan, my tribe, then their
tribe. It’s the argument he likes to have. And I do think he is sort of goading them
into it. JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you think the House is — can
the House stop what’s going on right now? I mean, are we just inevitably moving in the
direction… MARK SHIELDS: I don’t think — I don’t think
inevitably. I mean, I think — I think those who were
sure that we’re inevitably moving, were sure that the Mueller report was going to do it,
that Michael Avenatti, who has his own serious problems right now, was going to be the witness
that brought everything down, that Michael Cohen, God bless his soul, who’s now in federal
detention — correction, was going to do it. So, I’m not sure the inevitability of the
case against President Trump. I will say this, that Nancy has been vindicated. Nancy Pelosi has been vindicated by two court
decisions this week, that required Deutsche Bank to turn over its financial records. JUDY WOODRUFF: That’s right. MARK SHIELDS: And so maybe those who say that
the courts were too slow may be wrong, I mean, if the courts do act quickly. And you have got New York state, which is
going to make available the tax returns to the U.S. House. So, there are — on a number of fronts. If the president in fact stonewalls these
decisions and refuses to do it, then I think that he makes — starts to make the case himself
for his own impeachment. JUDY WOODRUFF: A lot of shoes are dropping,
maybe more shoes. MARK SHIELDS: Maybe as many as Imelda Marcos’
shoes. (LAUGHTER) JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark Shields, David Brooks,
thank you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *