Brooks and Marcus on recording the police, Clinton’s campaign launch
JUDY WOODRUFF: Potential Republican candidates talking guns, with the leading Democrat expected to jump into the race for 2016, and that police shooting in South Carolina raises questions about use of force.
For this and more, we turn to the analysis of Brooks and Marcus. That's New York Times columnist David Brooks and Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus. Mark Shields is away.
Welcome to you both.
RUTH MARCUS: Hi.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, that disturbing video we just watched again, we have seen it all week, raising questions about how the police are using force against everyone, but particularly minorities, black men. That's really been the subject, Ruth and David.
David, is this an issue that's going to be around and discussed for the foreseeable future? I mean, do you see this lasting on into the campaign this year and next year?
DAVID BROOKS: Yes. I'm not sure it will be a national presidential issue, but it is certainly going to be a national issue, just not affecting the campaign.
But it's national because the relations between the African-American community and local police forces has been a sore spot and a source of tension for decades. And to me, one of the immediate debates is over cop cams, whether policemen themselves should be wearing cameras. And I confess, I can't make up my mind on the subject.
On the one hand, if they do wear the cameras all the time, which some — is happening in a lot of jurisdictions, it's a blow for truth. You get these guys who are abusing their authority and in some cases apparently shooting people in the back. We can see what's happening.
On the other hand — and in addition, memory is so bad, the witness testimony is so bad often that we would see the truth or some version of the truth. On the other hand, a lot of the what cops is do a not violent arresting of a felon. It's mediation in a troubled situation. And it's going into a home in a case of domestic violence.
And in that case, you want the cop to be approachable and trustworthy. And I find it's very hard to have a conversation if somebody is wearing a camera. You want to have an intimate conversation. And so I think it would be a gain for truth, but sort of a blow for intimacy.
And cops have to get better connected to the communities. And so this is sort of a tension as the technology gets more widespread.
JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you see that resolve?
RUTH MARCUS: I think I only have one hand on this one.
RUTH MARCUS: I think that body cameras are a very good idea. I think they can be unobtrusive enough that you don't really pay attention to them in those situations where you do want a calming influence.
But I think they can be — we saw this week how valuable and powerful that video is. But the real value is not just to have ascertain the truth, when memories are faulty, at best, and sometimes people just don't tell truth, at worst, but also as a restraining influence on officers.
If we all knew that we had cameras following us all the time, I don't know about you guys, but my behavior might be better.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, does this — do we now have the kind of discussion that is just going to be reenergized every time there's another police shooting like this?
DAVID BROOKS: Yes. Well, that's been the case, and for the good. We should have this conversation. And based on what we just saw this week in South Carolina, there's probably a lot more of this going on than we were aware of.
RUTH MARCUS: And David said, correctly, that this has been a source of tension for decades, but I think this conversation that we have had this year since Ferguson has really been a wakeup call for the white community about the degree of resentment and tension and harassment that many citizens experience that they don't, that I don't when I'm — don't feel scared or harassed when I'm, rarely, stopped by police.
JUDY WOODRUFF: When you're pulled over by a policeman, right.
RUTH MARCUS: And, also, it's been — I thought this week, in addition to the news out of South Carolina, there was actually good news out of Ferguson, where we saw two additional African-Americans elected to the city council. It's now half African-American.
The participation rate, voter participation rate was like 30 percent, which sounds low, but it's way higher than it was. If we can get the white community to understand the real frustrations that African-Americans feel, if we can get the African-American and minority communities to participate in their governance, we can end up with a better country as a result of this national conversation.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, speaking of — you brought up elections. Let's broaden that way out and talk about the presidential.
Just in the last, I guess, 24 hours, David, we have learned not only that Lincoln Chafee, the former Rhode Island governor and senator, is forming an exploratory committee to look at the Democratic nomination, but Hillary Clinton, we understand, is going to announce on Sunday. Where does this leave the Democratic race?
DAVID BROOKS: Well, obviously, I think Lincoln Chafee is inevitable.
DAVID BROOKS: I think he's a juggernaut. No one will stop him.
DAVID BROOKS: No. He's not.
Hillary, it is going to be fascinating to see. She is going to do it very gradually, very slowly, and which is wise, but she's got a lot of interesting choices to make. The first choice is whether to be interesting at all. She wrote a book and just now she's released an afterward to that book which was not exactly that interesting. So is she willing to take a risk or is she going to sort of coast?
Second, how is she going to deal with some of the splits in the party that have emerged since her husband was in office? Economically, the party has shifted left. It's shifted a more anti-Wall Street direction. How does she handle that?
And just it seems like — and from her perspective, I'm sure, like a small step to the White House. She has sort of got pretty open ground. But I have watched so many politicians who seemed to be front-runners just have a defensive strategy and not take risks and not really earn it. And they have faltered. And she's sort of in the unfortunate position of being a monopoly player, which is, she has got no real competition to keep her sharp.
Now, the one thing we do know about her is, she's a super hard worker and she's super smart. So, she will probably overcome these. But how she does that will be interesting.
JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you size it up? And what does she need to do?
RUTH MARCUS: Well, first of all, want to say that I don't think most monopolists regret their monopoly position.
RUTH MARCUS: It's a — you can have an argument about whether it would toughen her up to have real competition. And I'm sorry. Lincoln Chafee doesn't rise to that level, nor do the others who are talking about or entering the field.
If you have a choice between having somebody pummel you every day and a nice, stately march to the nomination, you would choose the nice, stately march. And let me say, Hillary Clinton is going to get enough grief both from Republicans, the Republican Party, and from us in the media, that she will be fine in getting toughened up.
I think I agree with what David said about her challenges. But I do think that there's really — I would put it into two categories. One is to sort of soften this air of entitlement and inevitability. And the second is to present her theory of the case, other than, I'm really well-prepared for it, which she is, of why she should be president.
And that's why I actually thought her epilogue was very interesting, because she's used it to tie together an argument about those two things. And she did it with the interesting point of her grandma-hood. And she…
JUDY WOODRUFF: She talked about her daughter, Chelsea, having a baby.
RUTH MARCUS: It softens her. It makes her human. I got a little misty imagining being a grandma myself, not too soon.
And also it gave a theory of the case about how she wants to make sure that other children growing up in America have the same incredible opportunities that baby Charlotte does. And so there's a risk in looking — in emphasizing age, but I actually thought it was an interesting epilogue.
DAVID BROOKS: My grandma juice is not flowing that much, so…
RUTH MARCUS: Well, no.
JUDY WOODRUFF: You were not impressed?
DAVID BROOKS: I wasn't. I liked Charlotte, the story. I liked — I understand…
RUTH MARCUS: Well, you're not a suburban woman in her demographic, and I am. So there you go.
DAVID BROOKS: Internally, I am.
DAVID BROOKS: But every — open opportunity for everybody is — it's anodyne. In my view, that's what every candidate runs on. How hard is she going to press it?
I don't expect — this is the afterward, to be fair. But, you know, the party's moved to the left. Inequality's gotten more stubborn than the last time she ran. And so how hard is she going to push some of that? Her advisers, the natural Democratic economists, have moved. They're not where Bill Clinton was. They're not even where Barack Obama was when he took office.
Does she move with them? And just there's a lot of interesting choices.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But when is she going to have to answer those questions, Ruth?
RUTH MARCUS: In the very intimate conversations with thousands of reporters watching in living rooms in Iowa and New Hampshire.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But do we think voters, ordinary — I mean, ordinary Americans are going to be asking her these questions?
RUTH MARCUS: Well, she is going to — no. They are not going to be saying, what is your position on TPP, or do you think that one of — one of the interesting questions — and you're totally right, David — that she is going to have to explain where she is.
And the party's moved. We have had a financial crisis since she ran. She is going to have to open herself up to questions from us. One really interesting issue is going to be trade. Another is going to be the push by many sectors of the Democratic Party, not to put Social Security on a more sustainable financial footing by trimming benefits or increasing taxes, but by expanding Social Security benefits.
And that's going to be, I think, a new emerging Democratic Party litmus test. So it is going to be fascinating to watch her. But she needs to, in addition to those discrete issues, wrap it into — all politicians' prescriptions are anodyne — but into a larger theory that allows people to connect with her.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And just quickly, David, you don't think it's a detriment that she doesn't have a tough — or any primary serious opposition?
DAVID BROOKS: Well, I agree with Ruth. If you were the candidate, you would rather have no opposition.
But I do think it makes you a better candidate. We have covered these campaigns. The candidates get so much better over time when they're forced to debate. And she will — I actually think there's a chance that somebody could emerge. I don't know who that will be. And maybe it's too late. But I just think there's a market there.
Just one final word. There are two things that I think any candidate has to show. One is imagination, something new. And I don't think she's — she's shown many great virtues as a candidate — or a public figure. Imagination, not always so much.
Second, how is she going to get anything passed? And this is true for Republicans and Democrats. Do you have an agenda that can get 61 votes in the United States Senate? That's important, because we have had no legislation for five years. That's just incumbent on every candidate, to have an explanation for that.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And maybe we will hear some of that on Sunday.
So, the other person who threw his hat into the ring, jumped into the pool or whatever we're calling it, is Rand Paul, Ruth, this week.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Where does he fit on the Republican spectrum?
RUTH MARCUS: Libertarian-ish, but not as much as Libertarian as he used to was.
RUTH MARCUS: And that's, I think, the really intriguing part of Rand Paul and perhaps his downfall, which is think he — I have always thought — I have thought he is a very interesting figure in the Republican Party, one of the few who can really address the fact that, as he has said, Republicans — as Domino's pizza saying that their crust was no good, the Republicans need to re-improve the taste of their pizza.
And he has offered the opportunity, with talking about surveillance and talking about secure — drones and things like that, to attract millennials. However, that looked a lot more attractive a few years ago than it does now, with the emergence of ISIS and the emergence of more foreign threats. So I kind of think, not the right moment.
JUDY WOODRUFF: What do you see?
DAVID BROOKS: I agree.
The party is less libertarian than it was three years ago, both on domestic and foreign affairs. Second, on a matter of his personality or personal presentation, his whole shtick was authenticity. And an authentic figure cannot be a trimmer. And he's become — tried to make himself more mainstream and more acceptable to parts of the party, but has chipped away at the edge of authenticity.
So, he's caught in a tragic bind there. As a libertarian, he can't get elected. As a trimmer, he's a trimmer, and he's stuck there.
RUTH MARCUS: And there is where I might need to say shush to you, because there's one other thing about Rand Paul.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, I was going to say, when he's been challenged by reporters on positions and whether they have changed or not, he's gotten a little upset.
RUTH MARCUS: And when your defense of that is not that you're sexist, but that you're equal opportunity short-tempered, that's not a successful presidential rollout.
RUTH MARCUS: And I do have to say, perhaps he is short-tempered with everybody, but I have really bristled watching him trying to say shush to women reporters interviewing him.
JUDY WOODRUFF: That may not be a strategy.
DAVID BROOKS: Yes.
No, you have to be — if you're president, you're a national anchorman for — or anchorwoman for…
RUTH MARCUS: Oops. Whoops.
DAVID BROOKS: … for four years. And people have to like you, and you have to come off well. And if you don't, you have got a problem.
JUDY WOODRUFF: OK.
David Brooks, Ruth Marcus, we thank you.