"Shields and Brooks on Trump at the G-7, Democratic debates" PBS NewsHour 8/30/2019
SUMMARY: Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week in politics, including whether impeachment will have any momentum when Congress resumes, President Trump’s performance at the G-7 summit, Joe Biden’s stories, the rules governing eligibility for the 2020 Democratic debates and the candidates’ latest poll numbers.
Judy Woodruff (NewsHour): And 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, David, let's look at what we just heard from these voters in Andy Kim's district in New Jersey. You could say they are all over the map, but it is interesting, yes, it is a divided district. These voters really are divided.
David Brooks, New York Times: Yes.
And, you know, I think impeachment is just this big mess of interruption in our process of government, to the extent that we have one. And that usually is accompanied by a cultural landslide, where people are talking about the issue of Impeachment, perhaps on the front page, and the Watergate is breaking stories — The Washington Post and The New York Times are breaking stories.
And as far as I can tell, the Russia investigation has drifted to the back of a lot of people's minds. And so there is a core that still wants to do it, and there are over half of the Democratic Caucus want at least an inquiry into impeachment.
But I just don't feel the groundswell. And I do think that sense that let's have this campaign and let's get to the issues is just going to make this impeachment thing peter out.
Judy Woodruff: Mark, what do you make of people, real people's reactions?
Mark Shields, syndicated columnist: I thought Betty Wilson, the voter in Burlington, had the best summation. I want to get rid of him, but let's just get on with the election, basically.
And I think that is the prevailing attitude now. I don't think there is any question. I don't question the intensity, the sincerity, the conviction of those who seek the impeachment. But I think the practicality of that course has been disproved. And I think Speaker Pelosi has made her position pretty clear on it.
Judy Woodruff: But you do have — David, you said it.
You have now got more than half. You have got a majority of the Democrats who have now come out and said, we should move ahead with an impeachment inquiry. You have got some key committee chairs. You have got Jerry Nadler, chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
So what happens?
David Brooks: Yes.
Well, to some degree — well, there is sort of the hard-core that wants to do this. Then some people are saying, I am for the inquiry, but I am not sure I am for impeachment, which gives you — you're able to play both sides.
And then Pelosi's position has always been when the public case has been made for it. And unless there is a groundswell, I think — I don't think she would go ahead and say the public case has been made for it.
And the risks of doing it are reasonably high. We have seen that against the Clinton impeachment that backlashes tend to happen. And that might happen in this case.
Judy Woodruff: Risks?
Mark Shields: Sure. I mean, the steam went out of it, Judy.
It is not a matter of — a topic of common discussion in the country. It is not at the top of any talk show list. It just isn't. There is an intensity obviously on the part of some Democratic partisans, but it's in no way is a majority position in the country or it hasn't changed. It is not a growing position.
Bob Mueller's testimony came and it went, and it left in its wake no movement for impeachment. I think that is fair to say.
Judy Woodruff: Well…
Mark Shields: And, plus, we are on the cusp of going to Iowa. I mean, so there is an election.
Judy Woodruff: Yes.
Well, let's talk for a moment about President Trump coming off, David, the G7 meeting of world leaders last week. And I think it is fair to say this has been a tumultuous week for the President. His position on trade with China was in one place and then another and yet another.
We were hearing something different almost every day. You look back on the G7, again, the meeting in France last weekend, and it was more characterized by tension that he had with other world leaders than by any sense that anything was getting done.
David Brooks: Yes.
That's sort of par for the course for G7 summits. But I think what struck me this week was how the debate changed around Donald Trump. There has been whispering, is he mentally not as fit as he was? Are impairments rising?
That somehow seemed to rise and now become public conversation. When he said his father was with born in Germany, when your father was born in the Bronx, that's not something you normally get wrong. That his wife is good trends with the North Korean leader, when she had never met him.
I mean, there are just a lot of things coming out of his mouth. And this has always been the case, but the verbal patterns — psychiatrists are not allowed to judge people they haven't met, but there are certainly a lot of people out there raising a lot of red flags.
So, that — to me, among the tumult of — the political tumult the G7, the psychological tumult is almost one of the key takeaways.
Judy Woodruff: Do you think we are in a different place with regard to all that with the President, Mark?
Mark Shields: I don't know, Judy.
I think there is a fatigue about Donald Trump. I think there is a what is he going to do next attitude, and that, you know, what is the capacity for outrage? Have we reached those limits?
As far as the G7 summit, what hit me about it was, I can't get over how he continues to denigrate President Obama. I mean, that just — it's gratuitous.
And I had it explained to me by a Trump — longtime Trump watcher, who said, Trump knows that at that G7 meeting, they would rather have Obama than him — than rather have him.
And so he is almost driven to make up stories about President Obama, that President Obama gave away Crimea to Putin, that — you know, it's just — it's sort of a fabricated thing. And that, to me, is bizarre.
But the other thing about it is — and Adlai Stevenson once said, better we lose an election than mislead the American people.
Donald Trump lies when he doesn't have to. On the meeting of the G7 on the environment, and he skipped it, and he said, well, my — the reason he wasn't there was that he was meeting with Ms. Merkel and the prime minister of India, both of whom were at the meeting.
So it is not — it's just being — saying things that are so easily corrected and so easily proved that he is lying. And at some point, I would just think the burden of working for someone like that becomes unbearable, just unbearable. He lies to you, as a loyal staffer. He lies to the people he is dealing with.
And, you know, at some level, in politics, your word is the coin of the realm. And he is just — he's overdrawn on that bank account.