Monday, March 07, 2016

OPINION - Shields and Brooks 3/4/2016

"Shields and Brooks on the GOP push to stop Trump" PBS NewsHour 3/4/2016


SUMMARY:  Judy Woodruff joins syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks to discuss the week in politics, including takeaways from Thursday’s contentious GOP debate, the mainstream Republican revolt against Donald Trump, Sen. Bernie Sanders’ chances to upset the Democratic race and the fallout from the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email server.

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

And we welcome you both, gentlemen.

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

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

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

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

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Demoralizing, Mark?

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

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

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

I mean, it is dispiriting.  It’s beyond partisanship.  It’s just discouraging as a citizen, and I don’t know what we do, other than tune out to this.  I know we can’t, but I just don’t think you should encourage it by listening to this stuff.
DAVID BROOKS:  But, Judy, I would say this is bigger than just one nomination.  This is about the future of the Republican Party and really the future of the country.  For almost a century-and-a-half, the Republican Party has stood for a certain free market version of America, an America that’s about openness, that’s about markets, that’s about opportunity, and a definition of what this country is.

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

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

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

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