Monday, July 03, 2017

OPINION - Shields and Brooks 6/30/2017

"Shields and Brooks on GOP's health care bill gridlock, Trump tweet backlash" PBS NewsHour 6/30/2017


SUMMARY:  Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week's news, including the difficulty Republican leaders are having getting enough support for the Senate health care bill, including tense relations between the White House and Congress, plus the political reaction to President Trump's tweets about two cable news hosts.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  Well, speaking of the tweets, David, we have seen some eyebrow-raisers.  We have heard some gasps.  But I guess the president's tweet yesterday morning about the “Morning Joe” MSNBC cable hosts, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, where the president tweeted very personal insults, low I.Q., face-lift, and so forth, it seemed to reach a new low.

Do we learn anything new about this President at this point?

DAVID BROOKS, New York Times:  Well, one of the nice things, if we can find a silver lining here, is, it's possible for everybody to be freshly appalled, that we are not inured to savage, misogynistic behavior of this sort.

And I saw a lot of people around.  And I certainly felt in myself a freshness, a freshness of outrage.

And I must say, when I hear Roy Blunt say it's unhelpful to himself, well, that's true, but it's more than unhelpful to Donald Trump to tweet in this way.  It's morally objectionable.  And I do wish more Senators would say that.  Lindsey Graham and Ben Sasse have said it, but a lot of others, oh, it's just not helpful.

It's more than that.  And the issue here is the corruption of our public sphere.  And that's what Donald Trump does with these things.  And it makes it harder for us, our country, to ever get back to normal, when these things are corrosive to just the way people talk to each other.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Corruption of the public sphere, Mark.

MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated columnist:  I think David is guilty of understatement.

No, I think he put it very well.  This is hateful and it's hurtful.  Judy, I don't know what a parent or a grandparent is supposed to say to a 10-year-old or a 12-year-old who said anything comparable to this and was sent — banished to their room or whatever else for it, I mean, that the President of the United States can talk this way, and there are no consequences.

The irony is that he's more engaged on the back-and-forth with Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski on this than he has been on health care or any other issue.  He obviously — this is what matters to him.  And it's just that classic — not to be sectionally biased, but it's sort of a New York bully approach to life, I mean, that you say anything, you do anything, because the important thing is winning.

And I just — you know, I don't know what else there is to say, other than you want to put yourself through a car wash after you listen to the President talk this way.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Are there consequences, David?  I mean, I heard what you said about some senators are just saying, well, it's not helpful, but other senators are going further and saying, this is really wrong.

But are there ever consequences?  Do we just go on like this?

DAVID BROOKS:  Yes.  Well, we will see if people eventually get disappointed and get tired.

I do think if it — one of the things that may begin to offend people is potential mafioso behavior.  One of the things we heard this morning in the op-ed piece in The Washington Post by the two hosts was that the White House sort of threatened sort of extortion, that, if the show becomes more Trump-friendly, then a National Enquirer investigation into their relationship will be spiked.

And that's sort of mafioso, extortion behavior.  That's beyond normal White House behavior.  It's beyond political hardball.  It's sort of using your media allies, The National Enquirer and the Trump administration, to take down enemies.  And that's not something we have seen in America since maybe Nixon, or maybe never.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  It's true, Mark, we haven't seen anything like this in a while.

MARK SHIELDS:  We haven't.

But I think David's point about extortion certainly strengthens the position of James Comey, that threats and extortion or a hint of extortion is part of the modus operandi.

To Republicans …

JUDY WOODRUFF:  I mean, we should say the White House is denying it.

MARK SHIELDS:  The White House is denying it.  Jared Kushner, I guess, is denying it, or perhaps somebody else through him is denying it.

But the fact that there's negotiations going back and forth or communications on this subject, you do this and we won't print an injurious and harmful article in The National Enquirer, one of the great publications of our time.

But, Judy, I remember when Republicans used to get upset and angry at Bill Clinton because he didn't wear a suit and tie in the Oval Office.  And Donald Trump, who is supposed to be this great deal-maker, I mean, Joe and Mika Brzezinski have a morning show which is a show that watched very much in this area, but it doesn't have a great national audience, and probably 1 percent of the people.

And he [Trump] just made them a national — everybody now knows about this show.  It's probably increased their ratings, juiced them up.  So I don't understand where — if anything, it's but counterproductive in every sense.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Well, it is true, David, that this is — it's hard to find you said there may be a silver lining in fresh outrage, but beyond that, I'm not sure where it is.


And, you know, the big question for me is, do we snapback?  Do the norms that used to govern politics reestablish themselves after the Trump administration, or are we here forever?

And I hope, from the level of outrage, that we have a snap back.  But the politics is broken up and down.  And Trump may emerge from a reality TV world that is much more powerful than we think.  And there is the prospect that this is where we are, which is an horrific thought.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Horrific thought.

MARK SHIELDS:  Yes, it is that.

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