Monday, October 26, 2015

OPINION - Shields and Brooks 10/23/2015

"Shields and Brooks on Clinton’s Benghazi testimony, Paul Ryan’s speaker potential" PBS NewsHour 10/23/2015


SUMMARY:  Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week’s news, including Hillary Clinton’s testimony on Benghazi, Vice President Joe Biden’s decision not to run in 2016, Rep. Paul Ryan stepping into the race for Speaker of the House, and new higher poll numbers for Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson in Iowa.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  So, Benghazi hearings, David, they went — I don’t know that it was 11, but it was eight or nine hours of testimony.

DAVID BROOKS, New York Times:  Right.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  What have we learned?  What was accomplished at this hearing?

DAVID BROOKS:  Nothing was learned.

We learned that the Republicans can’t stump Hillary Clinton.  She was composed, gave a lot of the same testimony she’s given before.  This thing has been going on forever.  And so nothing happened, really.  And so that’s good news for her.

She — her composure was excellent. Congressmen do what congressmen do.  And so it was a big nothing burger.  And why the Republicans remain obsessed with this, at a time when the nation of Iraq has ceased to exist, Syria barely exists, there’s turmoil spreading throughout the Middle East — if you want to attack Hillary Clinton, it seems to me she was secretary of state at a time of deterioration in actual substantive grounds.  Maybe that would be a good subject.

But there is a certain psychosis that goes through people’s minds, especially about scandals, but Clinton scandals, where they — where something smells, and they think there must be something big, and they imagine there is about to be some big revelation that will destroy their careers.  But, since 1991, that has never happened, and the critics have always overshot the mark and ended up helping the candidate.  And that’s what happened.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  They have survived some challenges in the past, the Clintons, but, Mark, nothing burger, is that what it adds up to?

MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated columnist:  I would feel better if it were just the Clintons with the Republicans. I think this has been — for the past seven years of the Obama administration, it has been an obsession that — to prove not simply that the administration is not capable or efficient or effective, but that somehow it’s evil, maybe even criminal.

And that’s what was driving this Benghazi hearing, that somehow that there was some evil plot or evil scheme or diabolical whatever.  The emphasis on Sid Blumenthal, who was a…

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Her longtime friend.

MARK SHIELDS:  Yes, longtime friend, controversial, a conspiracy buff, an apparatchik, whatever else he is, but, I mean, hardly somebody of Rasputin dimensions that they wanted to elevate him to.

And in doing so, they were forced to go public with this hearing, which they didn’t want to do.  They looked bad.  They had

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Meaning the Republicans.

MARK SHIELDS:  The Republicans looked bad.

Hillary Clinton looked disciplined.  She showed remarkable stamina.  She showed thorough preparation.  And she never went for the bait.  The bait was to get her to do what she had done in the previous hearing, to show exasperation, to display temper.

And she just — she came off it, to use an adjective, presidential.  And I just think — I just think that the Republicans ought to drop this and move on, but I think it is — I think it is symptomatic of a party that is incapable of accepting its governing responsibility.
MARK SHIELDS:  Well, I was surprised (Joe Biden not running), because I didn’t know.

Everybody who said they knew who was talking didn’t know, and everybody who apparently knew wasn’t talking.  But I didn’t know that he wasn’t going to run.

I will say this about Joe Biden.  His absence means that the happy warrior will be missing from the Democratic battle this year.  That’s what Joe — Joe Biden has personally at least 35 percent of the world’s known reserve of authenticity.


MARK SHIELDS:  And we’re looking for the authentic.

Lindsey Graham, Republican from South Carolina, who is himself a presidential candidate and an active partisan, said of Joe Biden, if you don’t like Joe Biden, you ought take a serious look at yourself, because there is something wrong with you.

He is the nicest person I have ever met.  God never made a better man than Joe Biden.  This was before Joe Biden pulled out.  This was just in an interview in Iowa a couple — a month or so ago.  So I just think it takes a lot of courage to run.  It takes a lot more courage to pull out.  And I just — I will miss him and his presence in this race.

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