Monday, October 19, 2015

OPINION - Shields and Brooks 10/16/2015

"Shields and Brooks on campaign finance and what we learned in the Democratic debate" PBS NewsHour 10/16/2015


SUMMARY:  Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks join Hari Sreenivasan to discuss the week’s news, including a look at the Democratic debate, campaign fundraising, and troop withdrawal in Afghanistan.

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  The Democratic candidates for president faced off in their first debate this week, and new fund-raising numbers give a closer look at which contenders are winning the money game.

For all that and more, we turn to the analysis of Shields and Brooks.  That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

So, you watched the debate, obviously.  How was the tone different from this?  It seems that perhaps FOX News set the tone in a much more aggressive and sharp way for the questioners in this round.  Is that what we’re going to see throughout the cycle?

MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated columnist:  I think that Democrats, generally speaking, felt better about their debates than probably Republicans did about theirs.

There is no question that Donald Trump brought big numbers and brought a certain level of suspense, and you kind of hold your breath at what’s going to happen to it.  But Martin O’Malley and — the former governor of Maryland, in one of his rare good moments on Tuesday night, pointed out that the Democrats had gone through an entire debate discussing issues with no personal attacks.  Nobody had been accused of being ugly or a loser, and there had been no racial stereotyping or negatives.

So I think, in that sense, there was an entirely — difference in tone.

DAVID BROOKS, New York Times:  There was a difference in tone, a difference in subject matter.  I think the Democrats actually have the advantage of subject matter, because they actually did talk about middle-class concerns, whereas Republicans are talking about weird stuff.

But the other factor is, the Republicans are actually arguing and fighting with each other.  And what I saw up there was Hillary Clinton performing extremely well, and four other guys lying down and let her, letting her have the nomination.  It’s like Bernie Sanders held up the white flag of surrender when he refused to really go after her on the character and moral issue, which is his only way in.

And the other three, I don’t know why they were there. O’Malley was the one who surprised me the most.  I thought he would come in and see the Fiorina model and come out with some sort of aggressiveness.  He had a little toward the end, but in the beginning, it was just passive.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  How do you think Sanders did?

MARK SHIELDS:  Well, I thought Hillary Clinton had the best night of her campaign.

I thought that she was in command, she was comfortable, she was spontaneous.  She came back from the break and was a little late getting to the stage, having obviously visited the ladies room, and kind of tossed a — gave the lie to the stereotype of the joyless feminist by pointing out it takes women a little bit longer to go to the lavatory.

And I just thought there was — it bordered on the authentic.  I thought she did very well. David is right. Campaigns are about differences.  And when you’re behind somebody, you better draw the differences with them, whether it’s in style, or substance, or record, or character.  And the others didn’t do that.

I thought Bernie had a — Bernie Sanders had a better night than David thinks he did, and I think it was reflected in the dial polls, which viewers watch it and their emotions and reactions are gauged.  It’s a very legitimate way of measuring people’s reaction.  People use it on speeches, presidential acceptance speeches and so forth.  He did well on that.  He did well on the focus groups.
MARK SHIELDS:  You can’t talk at the money, Hari, without talking about the concentration of big money in this campaign.

And The New York Times did a story last Sunday of 158 families in the United States that have given over half the money in this campaign.


MARK SHIELDS:  Citizens United, thank you, Justice Roberts, Justice Alito, Justice(s) Scalia and Thomas and Kennedy.  I mean, this is truly oligarchy.

And people who worry about big money having too large a voice, this has given them a megaphone.  And the golden rule operates, where who he has the gold rules.  And it is truly terrifying for those who care about democracy.

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