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Shields and Brooks on Brown v. Board legacy, tea party outlook

May 16, 2014 at 6:42 PM EST
Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks join Judy Woodruff to the discuss the week’s news, including the 60th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of education ruling, Karl Rove’s comments about Hillary Clinton’s health and the outlook for the tea party.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: And to the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

Welcome, gentlemen.

So we just heard Gwen’s discussion. It is 60 years after the Brown vs. Board of Education ruling.

And we know, Mark, that, yes, there has been — there have been dramatic changes in the aftermath of that, but we also know — and we have got a graphic to show this — that much of the — some of the country, maybe even much of the country is still segregated.

Here, you see — this is a chart showing the difference between 1968, 2011, big drop in the percentage of African-American students attending majority black/Latino schools in the South, where segregation was most prevalent. You know, here, it’s a drop, from 78 to 34 percent. But we see drops in the Midwest and the West.

But, Mark, is it surprising that in the Northeast, the percentage of African-American students has risen?

MARK SHIELDS: I don’t know if it’s surprising, Judy.

I think that Sheryll Cashin — first of all, remember this on that decision. It was 9-0. If you want to see a great politician at work, that was Earl Warren. Thank God you had a governor, someone who had actually been through the process. He assembled that 9-0 coalition, which gave it its moral and political momentum behind that decision.

But, Judy, I think Sheryll Cashin put it very well in her discussion with Gwen and the other panelists. And that is that it’s a question of place, not race. We’re talking about income inequality. We’re talking about property inequality. And that’s essentially what leads to school patterns and school populations.

DAVID BROOKS: I suspect they would have been surprised if we had gone back and asked, what do you expect over the next 50 years, I suspect they would have thought there would be a little more progress than we have experienced.

And I think that’s because there was a supposition, from my reading of the history books, is that once you took away some of the legal barriers, that some of the social barriers would fall more quickly than they have.

And this is measurable not only in the school segregation, but even in social interaction. When you measure how many people are having real interactions with people of different races, it’s surprisingly — we have made surprisingly little progress, especially — maybe in the first few years after Brown or the Civil Rights Act, but in the last couple of decades, it’s been surprisingly slow.

And that’s in part because birds of a feather do flock together. People do tend to residentially segregate, in part because of some of the discrimination, but in part I think because of a loss of emphasis on integration that there was especially in the ’70s and ’80s, a little less emphasis on integration, a little more on multiculturalism and things like that.

And you just have got to keep pushing and pushing. Maybe among people under 20, we’re going to begin to see a shift in that, but progress has been surprisingly slow.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Pushing how? What kind of pushing?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, we’re in new regime, a non-affirmative action regime based on race, I think. We’re entering that regime.

But you still have to push based on other things, based on — companies, universities, schools, I do think, have to pay attention to this, and not only getting people in, but once in, ensuring those social interactions are there and there’s not segregation in the cafeterias.

MARK SHIELDS: No, but segregation is encouraged by colleges. It clearly is, and not simply by race.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Student housing.

MARK SHIELDS: By student housing, and cultural housing and all the rest of it.

I do want to point out, Judy, that of all the gender, racial subgroups in the country, the highest per capita, those enrolled in college is black women. Black women enrolled in colleges and universities at a higher level than white women or Asian men, Asian women, white men. Black men are enrolled at a hiring level per capita than white men.

We have quadrupled the number of black college graduates in just less than a generation. So there is good news, and I just think occasionally we have to pause and reflect on the good news.

JUDY WOODRUFF: On the gender aspect.

MARK SHIELDS: Well, and on the racial aspect as well.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.

Well, complete change of subject, and that is presidential politics 2016, David. We saw both President Clinton — former President Clinton, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton come out swinging this week after Karl Rove, who, of course, was former President George W. Bush’s top political strategist, suggested that Secretary Clinton might have had brain damage from a fall she took while she was still in government.

DAVID BROOKS: He didn’t use that phrase, but he said that she was in the hospital, and we should get to the bottom of all this.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But is this the kind of exchange we’re going to see? In fact, President Clinton said to Gwen in an interview, he said, we can just expect this from Republicans.

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, well, a couple of things going on.

First, I hope Rove was just speaking off the cuff, because it was pretty stupid, what he said, and inaccurate, and it was stupid. The response was interesting, because there has been, among the professional people who — like us who watch this thing for a living, there have been some whispers from people who pretend to know what they’re talking about that maybe she won’t run.

And I guess that’s still kind of true. But the way the Clintons came out swinging makes it look like they’re going to run. And so that was interesting. And then if you are going to have a race in a Democratic primary, picking a fight with Karl Rove is a pretty good thing to do and the Koch brothers. That all works pretty well.

So I think we learned they may be a little more forward-leaning about this whole deal than anybody who thought they weren’t. And I do think, I still think that I’m less bullish on her chances to get the nomination. I think it’s likely she will get the nomination if she runs, but I’m a little less bullish than a lot of other people around here, because I do think the party has moved to the left, the de Blasio mayor’s race in New York, even the Baraka race in Newark, where the more leftward candidate probably won.

I do think the party has shifted a little away from her, and so I think there’s some shot that she — it’s not going to be a cakewalk for her.

MARK SHIELDS: Thirty days in the hospital. Wrong. Three days in the hospital.

And that she was wearing glasses that were only given to people who had traumatic brain injury — that was Karl Rove. Now, you may not have seen the stethoscope and you may not have seen his bedside manner before, Dr. Rove, making house calls like this.

(LAUGHTER)

MARK SHIELDS: I — it’s a little bit called like putting heroin in the bloodstream. You put it — you let out a libel or a rumor and then you just kind of let it go. Oh, where did it come from? And then somebody hears it a couple of months later, sunk into the sewer.

It’s symptomatic of the Texas candidate. There was a congressman in Texas — he may very well have been a Karl Rove client — who had a very difficult opponent and he said, I’m going to accuse my opponent of being romantically and sexually involved with a barnyard animal.

And his campaign manager said, you can’t do that, Congressman. We have no evidence, no proof. No, I know we don’t have any evidence to prove it. I just want to see him deny it.

And that’s what this is. This is that kind of a charge. It was stupid and I think it did help the Clintons. But it does tell you something about the high level we can expect in 2016 in the campaign.

DAVID BROOKS: The one thing, though, it will not be an issue if she runs.

Running is arduous.

MARK SHIELDS: Yes.

DAVID BROOKS: And if you can run, your health is fine, and so, if she’s running and she can do it the way every candidate has to do it, her health will not be an issue.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark, what about David’s other point that maybe Hillary Clinton, assuming she does decide to run, may not have that easy path to the nomination?

MARK SHIELDS: I don’t inevitability is a winning campaign strategy. And that’s basically right now what the strategy is.

Everybody’s for Hillary. Why? Because everybody’s for Hillary, and because she’s leading in all the polls. I think there is a restlessness and a restiveness in the Democratic Party against the Obama administration, although unspoken in large part, about the fact that all of the people who brought this country to its knees in the Wall Street crisis continue to go to dinner parties and fly off in private jets and get welcomed at the White House, and they pay fines.

We have basically monetized financial crime. You just pay a check. Nobody goes to jail. And I think there’s an anger. And Elizabeth Warren is probably the catalyst for that, the most logical point for it. Somebody will pick that up.

Mrs. Clinton may very well try to move in that direction, although, coming as a senator from New York, it would be a departure.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And we have an interview with Senator Warren on the NewsHour Monday night.

MARK SHIELDS: I wanted to promote that.

(LAUGHTER)

JUDY WOODRUFF: You were putting in a plug.

So, just in a few minutes left, the Tea Party, David, they won one of these Senate primaries in this midterm election season, but they don’t seem to be as strong as in the past. Whatever you want to call it, the mainstream, the establishment of the Republican Party seems to be doing better. What’s going on?

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I think in somewhat — especially in this case in Nebraska this week, the lines were very muddy between who was establishment and who was Tea Party.

The Tea Party candidate who won, Sasse, he’s a Yale Ph.D. And the other, Tom Cotton, has a Harvard Law degree.

MARK SHIELDS: Yes.

DAVID BROOKS: Mike Needham, who runs the Heritage Fund — Heritage Action, he’s from new — so these are not classic outsiders, I would say.

But I do think the party has become more nervous of losing seats. The voters — it’s mostly — it’s less over ideology and more over approach. It’s can you come into Washington and do politics, do governance, as opposed to being sort of a FOX News commentator when you get here?

And so I do think the side of the party that says, you know, let’s pass legislation, and they’re plenty conservative, but they tend to have the momentum right now. And I think the government shutdown that Ted Cruz led was a major turning point, which is not to say that his campaign won’t be formidable when he runs for president.

MARK SHIELDS: Ted Cruz and Mike Lee were staunch supporters of Ben Sasse out in Nebraska winner, the winner. And their message was, we need reinforcement to fight the entrenched leadership here in Washington.

Sasse, to his credit, kind of — had a foot in each camp.

JUDY WOODRUFF: This is in Nebraska, the winner.

MARK SHIELDS: In Nebraska. And he did it quite adroitly.

I think the Tea Party had its most important victory, and we can see it every day, and that was in Kentucky. Mitch McConnell went hat in hand and asked Rand Paul for his endorsement, and so to avoid any trouble. And Rand Paul, who is now a national figure and a major leader of his party, endorsed Mitch McConnell, and probably thereby secured the fact that McConnell would be renominated.

But that’s how important the Tea Party is, that Mitch McConnell, who opposed him in 2010, when he ran, is now his supplicant, in his debt.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Neither one of you two is a supplicant. We’re going to have lots more occasion to talk about the Tea Party and the establishment.

We thank you both.