Monday, September 12, 2016

OPINION - Shields and Brooks 9/9/2016

"Shields and Brooks on high stakes for debate moderators, a dead heat in the polls" PBS NewsHour 9/9/2016


SUMMARY:  Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks join Judy Woodruff to discuss the presidential candidates' performances on NBC's “Commander-in-Chief Forum,” as well as that of the forum moderator, plus possible explanations for a tightening in the presidential polls and more.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  But, first, the analysis of Shields and Brooks.  That's syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

Welcome to you both.  It's good to see you again.

Let's talk about the presidential campaign.

David, we saw the two candidates together at the same place this week, but not at the same time, at this televised forum that NBC sponsored.  What did you make of it, of their performance and what they had to say?

DAVID BROOKS, New York Times:  I thought they both lost.  I thought America lost.  Humanity lost.  A little piece of my soul died.  I thought they…


DAVID BROOKS:  I thought they both did poorly.

I thought she was evasive and cross and looked like she was imperious and was angry to be challenged.  She had plenty of information, but not a lot of relatability and not a lot of humanity and not a lot of vision for foreign policy.

He (Trump), if anything, was a little worse.  He is, and as he has wont to do, said about six ridiculous things.  The admiration for Putin is of long standing.  But to me, the thing that really made me think was his claim that in Iraq we should have left a core of people to take the oil.

Now, that is — first of all, it's impractical, but it's also moral idiocy.  Maybe you're selfish and you think, oh, I got some oil and I got some guns, I should take it.  But if you go through any realm of education, which is what we try to do with people, you learn that that's called imperialism, that's called plunder.  It's morally wrong.  It ruins your credibility.

The idea that a big country is going to go out and send troops into some country to take their resources, and then the rest of the world is going to somehow trust us is just a ridiculous notion.

And so he says things that are just plainly ridiculous.  But — so that's why was so depressed.


JUDY WOODRUFF:  So, Mark, humanity lost as a result of this encounter or this performance this week?


MARK SHIELDS, syndicated columnist:  Judy, I wasn't — it wasn't Lincoln-Douglas.


MARK SHIELDS:  And most importantly of all, I think David's point about the oil is well-taken.  I think it's valid and I think it's true.

That is not the United States.  That is pillaging.  That is the worst form of imperialism that he's describing.  It would mean leaving thousands of Americans there to protect the oil drilling.  I mean, it just is — it's indefensible on logistical, moral and political grounds.

But that aside, I think what it did — and you have moderated debates.  I have never moderated a debate, Judy, for good reason.  But I think it's raised this — Wednesday night, partially because of the unflattering press reaction to Matt Lauer's performance, has raised the stakes for the moderator, who is now put on notice, all of them, that they are not entitled in 2016 to sit there while somebody makes a statement that is factually untrue and is — can be proven false, as Mr. Trump did when he, in fact, said that he had always opposed the United States' war in Iraq.

And I just think that — it's tough to be a moderator.  But I think that, given this campaign and the questions about the integrity and honesty of the candidates, and the great doubts about them, I think that is now part of the job description.

Geesh... David, tell us how you feel.

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