Monday, November 12, 2018

OPINION - Shields and Brooks 11/9/2018

"Shields and Brooks on midterm results and GOP ‘lockstep loyalty’ to Trump" PBS NewsHour 11/9/2018


SUMMARY:  Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks join Amna Nawaz to discuss the results of the 2018 midterm elections, the staff shakeup at the Justice Department and an ‘ugly moment’ between the president and the press.

Amna Nawaz (NewsHour):  It's been a dramatic week in politics.

Thankfully, we have the analysis of Shields and Brooks.  That's syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

Welcome to you both.  Happy Friday.

Mark Shields, syndicated columnist:  Amna.

Amna Nawaz:  You may remember there was an election earlier this week.


Amna Nawaz:  Look, yesterday, Lisa Desjardins and our political team did a wonderful breakdown looking at the new Congress.  She called it a generational change, a lot of turnover, and demographic change, too.

So, David, let's start with you.  Looking forward, how do you see this new Congress being able to actually legislate?

David Brooks, New York Times:  Well, occasionally, you get a Congress or you get a class that defines a generation.

So, in 1974, they were the Watergate Babies.  Ninety-four, you had Newt Gingrich.  The Watergate Babies pushed Congress to the left.  The Gingrich people pushed it to the right.

In this, we may have a class, we may call them the Trump babies, if they can remain coherent.  And I would say it's a reasonably hopeful class for two reasons.  One, it's much more diverse and looks like the way America actually looks.

Secondly, it's reasonably moderate.  One of the things that we have seen over the last few days is, people have done an analysis of which kind of Democrats won.  And in general, the progressive, the ones endorsed by the more progressive groups, didn't do well.  Those endorsed by the centrist new Democratic groups did very well.

And so I happen to think the Democratic Party is moving to the left, but a lot of Democratic voters are not moving to the left.  And they tended to put some pretty big victories for moderates.  And that may hearken to something.

Amna Nawaz:  I'm picking up some optimism there.

Mark Shields:  Yes.

Amna Nawaz:  Mark, do you share that?

Mark Shields:  I mean, that's refreshing, optimism.


No, I think it — I think it was a — it was a significant election.

What I was most alarmed by was the President's announcement that it was a great victory for Republicans.


The Republicans lost more seats than they did under Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush, both of whom accepted the fact that the party had suffered a shellacking.

And I was particularly struck by the President's reaction at the post-press conference.  Gene McCarthy, the late senator from Minnesota, once described a mean political opponent as being the type of person who, after the battle is over, come down from the hills and shoot the wounded.

And that's exactly what Donald Trump did the next day.  He went after, named and shamed Republicans who had lost.  The lone black Republican woman in the Congress, Mia Love, he went after personally and said, Mia showed me no love, because — in that sense, I had just never seen anything like it.

The election was about Donald Trump; 65 percent of the voters said it was about him.  And his dominance of American politics to me was complete, in the sense that states, you could almost trace the — track the Republican vote for Senate or major office with Donald Trump's favorable job rating in that state, I mean, Ohio, for example.

And I think — I think the victory — David and I disagree on this.  I think it was enormous personal victory and political victory for Nancy Pelosi.  I really do.  She was the one who passed health care in 2009, almost single-handedly.  And the party paid for it in 2010.

And, ironically, in 2018, it was the issue that rode that the Democrats rode back.  And I thought she showed iron discipline by keeping the party on that issue.  And I think it's — I think it's significant.

Thirty-three or 34 women elected to the House for the first time who are Democrats.

Amna Nawaz:  Right.

So, both of you have noted that the — demographically, there were huge shifts with this new Congress.

Mark Shields:  Absolutely.

Amna Nawaz:  But they were largely in one party and not the other.  That is — that's a fair assessment.

David, what do you make of that, looking forward at our biggest and strongest two parties?  One path is clearly moving towards more representation of the general public, and one not so much.

David Brooks:  Yes.

Well, a couple things.  First, Donald Trump seems to have walled them in — walled himself in with 45 percent of the electorate.  And so he's built some pretty strong barriers.  It's hard to see people leaving and coming in.

Second, it should be said that, for all there was a blue wave or a huge surge in turnout for the Democrats, there was also a huge surge in turnout for the Republicans.  And to me, that is basically the white working-class saying, we're still hurting.

Some of it may have to with Kavanaugh hearings and things like that.  But life in rural areas is still marked by huge numbers of men outside the labor force.  You have got jobs that are part-time in the big economy.  You have still got a lot of economic strain.  And those people just came out because they're still hurting.

Now, can this party get outside that 45 percent?  I don't think so.  I think Trump has really walled themselves in, and the party is a Trump party.

And George Bush and John McCain and every other Republican spent so much capital trying to win over Hispanics, trying to represent the new American, Asian Americans, all the groups.  And in a stroke, I think Donald Trump has ended maybe two or three decades of efforts in that direction.

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