"Shields and Brooks on Trump and race, Democrats’ 2020 values" PBS NewsHour 8/2/2019
SUMMARY: Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week’s political news, including President Trump’s personal attacks on Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland and other lawmakers of color, the significance of a wave of Republican congressional retirements and how the 2020 Democrats fared in the two-night debate in Detroit.
Judy Woodruff (NewsHour): That brings us to the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That's syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.
Hello to both of you.
So let's pick up on Yamiche's reporting, David.
All this comes after President Trump has been going after Congressman Elijah Cummings, going after Baltimore, calling it rat-infested, this just a few days after he went after four congresswomen of color, the Squad.
Some people are saying the President's being racist. He says, "I'm the least racist person in the world."
How do you see it, and what are the consequences?
David Brooks, New York Times: I think I disagree with the President on that one.
You just look at who he's attacking. It's one African-American or one person of a color after another. It's not dog whistle anymore. It's just straight-up human whistle.
And so it is just pulling at this racial thing over and over and over again. And I don't know how it how much it affects people. I really don't know. I know people don't like political correctness. And when he does that, I think people really get a charge out of that.
But going to clearly racist tropes goes well beyond it. We're walking into Father Coughlin territory. We're walking into George Wallace territory. We're walking into very ugly territory.
And if this is what this election is going to become about, then it becomes, I would think, hard for people of conscience, whether they like Trump's economic policy or not, to wind up with him in however many months Election Day is.
Judy Woodruff: Ugly territory, Mark?
Mark Shields, syndicated columnist: Ugly territory, Judy.
It reached the point where, when it was reported that Congressman Cummings' house had been broken into, the President tweeted, "Too Bad," Elijah Cummings, the crime in Baltimore.
This was too much for Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor, former U.N. ambassador, who said, this is — she took the President to task.
Judy Woodruff: Republican.
Mark Shields: Republican, as did Congressman Adam Kinzinger of Illinois.
No, the President — you think of the founder of that great party, the Republican Party, words of Lincoln, with malice toward none, with charity for all, let's bind up the nation's wound, the task we're about.
This is just the opposite. This is salting the wounds. This is sowing division, and all for a very narrow political purpose. I do think that it reaches a point of diminishing returns, because, at some point, you're just not proud to say you're for Donald Trump.
You can say, oh, he's my guy, or he fights my fights, or he's on my side, but Americans want their President to be a comforter in chief and a consoler in chief, as Ronald Reagan was at the Challenger crisis, or in tragedy, or Barack Obama was after the Charleston church shooting.
That's what a President — to unite, to comfort and to bring out — he's the only voice that can speak to us, all of us, and for all of us, and he obviously doesn't want to speak to all of us or for all of us.
Judy Woodruff: But, David, you still have, as you heard in Yamiche's reporting from Ohio, people saying that they don't think it's racist, that they like the fact, as you suggested, that he speaks out.
David Brooks: Yes, well, they do like that fact.
The one thing I have noticed — I was at two conservative conferences over the past month. And they were pretty Trumpy, I guess. And they were 95 and 99 and maybe 100 percent white. And so, if you're conservative worlds, you're just not around minorities anymore. You're not around people of color.
And then you say, well, shouldn't you get some people of color on stage just to hear viewpoints? And they say, well, we don't want — like, I don't see color.
And if you're living in this country, with the culture of this country and the history of this country, you have got to see color. And you have got to affirmatively try to get different people in the same room. And it's just become a habit on the right to not care about that.
And this wasn't always the case. And this is how Trump is influencing the party, and, frankly, how the party is influencing Trump. In the world — in the age of the Bushes, in the age of Jack Kemp, there was really aggressive efforts to try to diversify the party, with some success.
And now that's not even tried. And it's not only Trump. It's up and down the whole apparatus.
Judy Woodruff: And last night, Mark, as we have reported, Will Hurd, the only black Republican in the House of Representatives, announced he's not running again from Texas.
Mark Shields: He did, Judy.
I think it's the seventh this week — sixth this week, ninth overall.
Judy Woodruff: Total of nine, yes.
Mark Shields: And I think there's a couple of factors at work.
I mean, what David mentions is one of them. The Republicans are becoming increasingly a white party. And Will Hurd, who is a former CIA professional and a high-qualified person, but prior to his retirement, or announce that he wasn't going to seek reelection; Susan Brooks of Indiana, who's been tasked for seeking women candidates for the Republican Party, and Martha Roby of Alabama announced their retirement.
And I think what's significant about it is this. Ronald Reagan's last term, half the members of Congress who were women were Republicans, 12 out of 25. Now there are 102 women in the House of Representatives; 89 of them are Democrats, 13 are Republicans.
Two of those 13 have just announced they're retiring.
Judy Woodruff: Are not running.
Mark Shields: I mean, so you see it's a white male party. And that has — that's a finite demographic.
Judy Woodruff: So, you're — I mean, you're both talking — what are the consequences of this, David?
David Brooks: Of course, I think electoral ruin, though people have been saying that for a long time.
And there was a book called "The Emerging Democratic Majority" that was probably 15 to 20 years ago from John Judis and Ruy Teixeira, who took a look at the demographics that were Republican, and they were all fading. And they predicted Democratic reign by now. And that hasn't happened.
And that's because a lot of Latinos, as they assimilate, they become white. And so — and so they are voting Republicans. And whites have swung overwhelmingly to the Republican side.
It's a short-term boon, like the country is 76 percent white, but it's a long-term catastrophe. And that's just talking politics. It's a short-term moral catastrophe for the party.
Judy Woodruff: But in the short run, Mark, this could be good politics for Donald Trump?
Mark Shields: It's hard for me, Judy. They're maximizing a minimum, I mean, is what they're doing.
There's not an inexpensive ceiling on the Trump coalition. It means getting every possible Trump voter out. There's no persuasion. It's all an organization effort. There's not — they're not reaching across the aisle and saying, we want to get you, come join us, we agree on 80 percent.
I mean, this is just mining down, is what it is.