Monday, January 15, 2018

OPINION - Shields and Brooks 1/12/2018

IMHO:  Trump's remarks were a snapshot of his subconscious, therefore more truthful.  He likely really thinks he is not a racist, but in reality he IS.

"Shields and Brooks on Trump’s ‘s***hole’ comments, ‘Fire and Fury’ fallout" PBS NewsHour 1/12/2018


SUMMARY:  Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week’s news, including racially charged remarks reportedly made by President Trump about immigrants, the continuing fallout from a tell-all White House book, whether the President deserves credit for new economic numbers and more.

Judy Woodruff (NewsHour):  The first year of the Trump presidency has been marked by moments of controversy and remarks that regularly drew some sharp criticism.

This week brings perhaps one of the most striking examples yet, and again spotlights Mr. Trump’s views on race.

That brings us to the analysis of Shields and Brooks.  That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

Welcome, gentlemen.

Mark Shields, syndicated columnist:  Judy.

Judy Woodruff:  So, it’s a tough subject, Mark.  We have been talking about it for much of this program, interviewed the ambassador from Haiti earlier.

What’s your takeaway from what happened in that meeting yesterday with the President and the members of the Senate?

Mark Shields:  Judy, first of all, revealing, and revealing at several levels.

I have no doubt the President said it.  There were six Republicans in the room.  Lindsey Graham has confirmed it basically to two other Republicans, Jeff Flake of Arizona and Tim Scott, his colleague from South Carolina.

Everybody else has gone mute on the subject, showing moral cowardice, when addressing this.  Even Mitch McConnell, the voluble Senate majority leader, is mute.  And so it’s really sort of tragic.

It’s one thing, Judy, when Donald Trump uses Pocahontas to attack or taunt one senator, Elizabeth Warren.  This, quite frankly, is beyond that.  I mean, this is racial.  It’s racist.  It is.

And for Paul Ryan to call it unhelpful or unfortunate, this shows the moral cowardice of the Republicans in response to it.  I mean, this is a man who thrives on being divisive, insists on being divisive.

We now have the lowest unemployment rate in 17 years, good economic news, as you reported earlier in the show, and yet he remains mired in the mid-30s, where a great majority of people do not think he’s honest, do not think he’s level-headed.  And it’s a tragedy for country, for the relations, and most of all an indictment, a serious indictment, of this presidency.

Judy Woodruff:  How are you reading, David, what happened, what he said?

David Brooks, New York Times:  Yes, well, I think it’s pretty clearly racist.

It fits into a pattern that we have seen since the beginning of his career, maybe through his father’s career, frankly.  There’s been a consistency, pattern of harsh judgment against black and brown people.  And so he’s at it again.

And I guess I’m reminded first just the way it’s rotting the Republican Party.  This is the one thing Republicans — they can tolerate a lot of things in Donald Trump, but the white identity politics, the racial politics, that’s just a cancer.  And that’s the one thing they can’t tolerate, but they are — seem to be tolerating.

My other thought is, we have been with this guy so long, we forget what, like, a normal, admirable political leader or human being looks like.  And so a normal, admirable human being is curious about the world, and is sort of interested in different cultures.  El Salvador, Haiti, Nigeria, they’re interesting.  Has compassion for people from around the world.

It’s hard to live in this country and not have admiration and compassion for the immigrants who come here from Africa, from El Salvador, from Haiti, and like the ambassador we just saw.  That story — you meet that story every week.

And so to not have any of that normal human compassion or curiosity go through the guy’s head is part of the deeper character flaw here that we have apparently learned to tolerate.

Judy Woodruff:  So, David says it’s rotting the Republican Party, Mark.  What — is it doing damage to the country?

Mark Shields:  Yes, it is, Judy.

Whoever the next President is — I assume that President will be elected in 2020 — faces a formidable task of repairing relations, of repairing the United States’ reputation, of just healing wounds both at home and abroad.

Just to add one point to what David made — and I agree with it — before I became a leading pundit and David’s colleague here…


Mark Shields:  … I used to do political campaigns.

I worked for Senator J. William Fulbright, former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in his last campaign in 1974 in Arkansas.  He was a man who was not falsely modest.  He’d been president of the University of Arkansas at the age of 34, a Rhodes Scholar, and the Fulbright scholarship program was his creation.

And in talking one night about Presidents with whom he had served, not under, whom he had served — with whom he had served, six, and he said, of John Kennedy, he said, “Whenever I went to the White House when John Kennedy was President, I was proud as an American that he was my President.”

I cannot believe that anybody, irrespective of how partisan they are, how devoted they are to the Republican side, could say that they feel proud that Donald Trump is the President, or their President, or our President.

I think it does damage to the country, does damage to the office, and it does damage to the national spirit.

David Brooks:  Yes.

And for the Republicans, (A) for all the evangelical leaders, the treatment of the refugee, and the poor, the outsider, that’s not — the Bible is not ambiguous about that.  And Donald Trump is certainly against that spirit.

[B] For the party, there’s a more specific problem, which is they have become a pretty anti-immigrant party.  And there are decent, normal human beings and admirable people like Senator Tom Cotton who wants to sharply cut immigration.  And they think they can divide their views on immigration, which are purely policy views, from the white identity, racial undertones that Donald Trump has now permanently — or not permanently — but has taken into this party.

And that is not possible.  If you want to restrict immigration, which is a legitimate point of view — I disagree with it, but it is a legitimate point of view — somebody like Tom Cotton has an extra burden to rise up against what Donald Trump said, to show, hey, restricting immigration is not synonymous with bigotry.

And if he doesn’t do that, then whatever his policy views will always be tainted by the sense that there’s an aroma of bigotry around it.

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