Monday, December 12, 2016

OPINION - Shields and Brooks 12/9/2016

"Shields and Brooks on Trump's understanding of presidential power" PBS NewsHour 12/9/2016


SUMMARY:  Names of President-elect Donald Trump's Cabinet picks continue to emerge on a daily basis.  Judy Woodruff sits down with syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks to discuss whether Mr. Trump's Cabinet choices are antithetical to their own agencies, the president-elect's relationship with the press, his predilection for tweeting his complaints and “Pizzagate.”

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

Welcome, gentlemen.

So, let's talk about the Trump Cabinet.

We know that Rudy Giuliani's out, took himself, they said, out of consideration.  But we have got several names, Mark, of people who are in at Labor, at the EPA, HUD, Housing and Urban Development, Small Business, and they all seem to be people who don't necessarily agree with what the mission of these agencies has been during the Obama administration.

What are we to make of them?

MARK SHIELDS, syndicated columnist:  We have to make of them they're very personal choices by Donald Trump.

Ben Carson is a world-renowned pediatric neurosurgeon, 400 surgeries a year.  Surgeon General?  No.  Housing and Urban Development.  And he's owned several houses.  He's lived in a house.


MARK SHIELDS:  I don't know what the other qualifications are.

Particularly interesting to me was, after he met — the president-elect with Al Gore, probably the most prominent environmental voice in the entire Democratic Party, he then chose the Oklahoma attorney general, Scott Pruitt, to be director of the Environmental Protection Agency.  I think 'protection' is a key word there.

And when you think of pristine preservation of America, you immediately think of Tulsa and Oklahoma.


JUDY WOODRUFF:  Be careful, my birthplace.


MARK SHIELDS:  I know it's your birthplace, Judy.  But let's be very frank about it.  It hasn't — it's not a vanguard state.  It's not a forefront state in environmental protection.

It's a state that has been very big on fracking, that has had 907 earthquakes in the last year, which is more than they had in the last 35 years, under fracking, a 3.0-magnitude.

And I would say, if he's not a denier of climate change, then Attorney General Pruitt is certainly a serious skeptic.

So, I don't know if there's a pattern here.  Maybe David can figure it out.


DAVID BROOKS, New York Times:  I rise to the defense of Oklahoma.


JUDY WOODRUFF:  Thank you.  I'm glad to have one of you.

DAVID BROOKS:  And it's exactly the sort of coastal condescension toward the beauties of Tulsa that has created the Trump phenomenon in the first place.

First, agencies and these issues, whether it's environmental or labor issues, they have — it's a tradeoff.  And Democrats in environmental agencies tend to favor — be more sensitive to environmental harm.  And Republicans tend to be more sensitive to business harm.

And so I don't know if they're going against the mission of the agencies.  It's just a different set of priorities, and it's legitimate.

Trump has picked the more extreme versions of all Republicans so far, the more aggressive.  And I think the thing to watch out for is, I could totally paint a scenario where Trump runs an authoritarian regime.  I can totally paint a scenario where he has no control over his own government.

And that's in part because of his attention span problems, but in part because running an agency is very hard.  Cabinet secretaries often have no control over their agency.  And it becomes doubly hard when you're really out of opinion with the people who actually work in the agency.

And it becomes triply hard, as I think may happen, a lot of people will leave the government.  There are a lot of people in a lot of these sorts of places that are weighing, do I really want to serve here?

And I have certainly heard from people who say, I really don't.  Yes, I'm a career person, I respect the political process, but I just don't feel comfortable working here anymore.

MARK SHIELDS:  It's a reasonable point.

I do want to say one thing about the secretary of labor.  I just wish once, when they pick a secretary of labor, they would say, gee, who's the best boss in America?  Who has great relations?

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