Monday, June 05, 2017

OPINION - Shields and Brooks 6/2/2017

"Shields and Brooks on Trump's climate pact consequences" PBS NewsHour 6/2/2017


SUMMARY:  Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week's news, including President Donald Trump's move to withdraw the United States from a global agreement aimed at curbing climate change-causing carbon emissions.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  At the end of another week jam-packed with news from Washington, it's time for Shields and Brooks.  That's syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

Welcome, gentleman.

So, what is there to talk about, Mark, but yesterday's climate change decision, the President's announcement that the United States will pull out of the Paris Climate Accord?  What did you make of it?

MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist:  In immediate impact, Judy, it probably means less in the American environment than the rules and regulations already repealed by his administration and by his EPA that were put in force, emissions controlled by President Obama.

But, in a larger sense, it belies and reveals that President's sense about the world.  The world is a dangerous, sinister place.  There's conspiracies.  Other countries are not our friends, or are partners.  Everything is transactional.  There are no fixed values.

We saw that, I thought most dramatically, at NATO, where the President showed an absolute absence of any historical understanding of American exceptionalism.  And, as one who frankly subscribes to it that three times in the 20th century the United States saved the world from totalitarianism, twice in World Wars, once in the Cold War, and 124,965 American graves around the world in cemeteries, and 94,000 still missing.

And I just don't understand.  The President knows that it was for values.  And when NATO has made mistakes, we have made mistakes.  We have been guilty of hubris.  But the world is a much better place because of the United States' leadership.  And this was an example of the United States working with other nations for a common good to preserve our planet.  And he just turned his back on it.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  What did you make of the President's decision and his argument for why he did it?

DAVID BROOKS, The New York Times:  Yes, well, I sort of agree with Mark.  It was nice to have an American century.  We were a superpower once.  And now we're headed the way of Portugal.

No, it was — environmentally, I can't get super excited about it.  I think it was a setback for the cause of addressing global warming.  But, as we have heard many times, it was a voluntary agreement.

And so this — and we have done a very good job, because of natural gas and fracking and other things, of reducing emissions over the last five years or so.  And I presume the market will still work and the emissions will still come down.

And so we — Donald Trump could have addressed his concerns about coal workers and stayed in the Paris accords.  There is nothing block.  It was totally voluntary.

So this wasn't about global warming.  This wasn't about the environment.  This was about sticking a thumb in the eye of polite society, the elites, the globalists.  This was a Steve Bannon-led thing designed to change America's role in the world.

And so, to me, the effect is much worse on the global diplomacy and the idea of a world order than it is, at least in the short-term, about climate change.  And the effects, I think, are ruinous.

You can't lead the world and stick your thumb in the eye of the world.  People — if you act extremely selfishly to other people, they will start acting extremely selfishly to you.  And that is about to happen.

And so as the idea that America could lead the world and should influence the world and should have friendship with other powerful nations in the world, that's an idea that took a big hit this week.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  But, as we famously heard him say, yesterday, Mark, the President said, I'm here to represent the people of Pittsburgh, and not the people of Paris.

MARK SHIELDS:  Yes, no, it was a nice alliterative line that didn't have much relevance in reality, Pittsburgh having supported Hillary Clinton and basically being a green city.

And I think it was a political statement.  One can say, in defense of the President, I guess, he kept his word.  He hasn't been known as a truth-teller always.  No one has confused him with George Washington on veracity.  But he kept his word on the Trans-Pacific treaty, trade treaty.  He kept his word on NATO and that he was going to belittle it, or at least diminish it.  And he kept his word here.

And I think that was probably the strongest argument inside.


Yes, I'm just struck by the fact that his is an administration driven solely by resentment.  He will side with the Steve Bannon side if that position will alienate the people he feels resentful for.  He will side with the regular Republican side and the budgetary, the more free market side if that will offend elite opinion.

It seems to be all based on some sense of resentment, a sense of social inferiority, a sense of fragile ego, him just wanting to stick the eye in the people he is resenting.

And I — more than any other time — we have talked about Trump not telling the truth a lot over the last year.  But that global warming speech to me set new standards of just being irrelevant to the facts.

We devote our lives to talking about the evidence.  We write these wonky columns about exciting things and this and that.  And what Donald Trump said about the Paris accord is — just has no engagement with reality.

The fact that somehow we're bound by this, somehow that we would be under some sort of legal liability if we didn't abide by the Paris Accords, the fact that the Chinese are given permission by Paris to do this and we're not, all that has no contact reality, and it doesn't seem like Donald Trump knows that.

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