"Shields and Brooks on Trump declaration, Bernie Sanders’ 2020 bid" PBS NewsHour 2/22/2019
SUMMARY: Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks analyze the week in politics, including how Congress is reacting to President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency over immigration, the 2020 candidacy of Bernie Sanders and whether democratic socialism is becoming mainstream.
Judy Woodruff (NewsHour): From that to what we reported earlier in the show, House Democrats gearing up to fight President Trump on his emergency declaration.
It's time now for analysis on this and more from Shields and Brooks. That is syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.
Hello to both of you.
Mark Shields, syndicated columnist: Judy.
Judy Woodruff: So, let's talk about — Mark, what the Democrats announced today.
They said that they were going to do this, but they officially put word out today that they are going to vote on Tuesday basically to just negate, cancel what the President is trying to do, declare a national emergency to find money to pay for a wall on the southern border.
Is this a smart move?
Mark Shields: Is it the smart move? Well, it will pass the House. There are 226 co-sponsors right now.
And if Nancy Pelosi does something well — she does lot of things well, but she knows how to count. And the question is how many Republicans. There's one at this point, Justin Amash of Michigan, but others who will come over.
Judy Woodruff: Only one at this point?
Mark Shields: At this point, that's right.
So, then it moves to the Senate. I mean, it's a — I think it's a moment of some truth, reality for Republicans. I think Susan Collins of Maine has already indicated her own opposition to the President's position. I think Cory Gardner of Colorado, who is up in a tough race next year, may be another. There may be others as well.
So, I think our system works best when there's a vitality and an energy in all branches. And I don't think there is any question that this is protecting the institution. I mean, when the President goes ahead and appropriates money that was denied by both the Democrats and the Republicans in the conference most recently, you know, I think it's a question of prerogative and responsibility and authority.
Judy Woodruff: So, David, do the Democrats have a real shot at blocking what the President wants to do?
David Brooks, New York Times: No, no, because they would have to get a veto-proof majority. Even if they get it out of the Congress, Donald Trump will veto it.
I think it may also pass the Senate. I forget. There were six or seven who — at least when he declared the emergency, six or seven Republicans said, I don't really think it's a good idea. And I think they may wind up voting against it.
If you're going to vote against Donald Trump about anything, this is the easiest, because you can say, well, it's not really about ideology. It's not about the wall. It's just about Congress. And it's about the way we — it's about the Constitution.
They all took an oath to swear allegiance to the Constitution. And the Constitution says that Congress originates, has the power of the purse. And if the President can just spend money on what he wants, that's really not our constitutional system.
Why don't more do it? If it was an anonymous vote, it would get 90 votes. They all think that. But there's a weird — you know, you bug them about this, there's a level of supine passivity, like a learned helplessness, where they don't even — it doesn't even cross the mental barrier that, well, maybe I should buck the President on this one.
I don't know.
Judy Woodruff: You're talking about the Republicans.
David Brooks: Yes. You would have to do studies on maltreated pets or something, like, why don't they get up and do something?
But it's not even in their brain register. It's just, I'm used to — I go along right now. I just go along. And it's not even a conscious choice anymore.
Judy Woodruff: Doesn't have anything to do with reelection or anything like that?
David Brooks: Well, of course it does. But that's the animal instinct at play.
But I think the voters of Ohio or wherever else would understand an occasional vote against the President. It doesn't doom your career. There is not, frankly, an issue on which a lot of people are going to be voting on. It's a procedural issue. But it's a defense of the Constitution.
Judy Woodruff: But, Mark, no chance if the President were — he says he's going to veto. No chance that they could override the veto?
Mark Shields: No, it would be the first veto of the President's administration.
But I don't see the two-thirds being there. There may be a reach in the — possibility in the House, if enough Republicans do screw up the courage to do so.
But I just think the Mark Sanford experience, Judy, just haunts Republicans, it terrifies them. They look over their shoulder, they see shadows on the wall in the sunshine. Mark Sanford, the former Republican governor and congressman from South Carolina, whom the President just absolutely kind of trashed and endorsed his then — up to then previously unknown opponent in the Republican primary, and Mark Sanford went down to defeat.
David Brooks: I there's one other little element, the reason they don't leap, is that they have no power now.
Mark Shields: OK.
David Brooks: They have already given away their power. They gave away their power to their leadership, to Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell.
And so that they gave that away long ago, so the idea they could seize power is a big mental leap for them. And so they're doubly bound into this learned helplessness.