Shields and Brooks on the election's 'parity of sleaze'

Politics

JUDY WOODRUFF: Back to politics now, and to the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That's syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

Welcome, gentlemen.

Mark.

(LAUGHTER)

MARK SHIELDS: Hi. Hello, Judy, Judy.

JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, we have a moment of levity before we talk about something very serious, David.

And that is this announcement from the FBI that they have a new batch of emails from a laptop that belongs to Hillary Clinton's aide Huma Abedin. Eleven days before the election, what — how much does this matter?

DAVID BROOKS: I think it matters.

We're not going to know the substance of it by Election Day. Whatever emails were in there, whatever they are investigating, it's hard to believe we will have some actual knowledge. But it brings Anthony Weiner back to the surface.

And the argument that Republicans could make with a lot of justices, welcome to the next four years of your life. Having a reign of Clinton without a little — a lot of scandal bubble around side is just not something we have any historical precedent for. And so this is just another.

And who you hang around with and who you associate with is going to come back to haunt you. And it's almost perverse, in the way we have come down to sex scandals and the way this election has descended into the realm of Kardashianville. But we're here. And so I do think a lot of others will think, there is just scandal on both sides. It's just all sleazy.

And that's not the substance of what we have learned today, but that's the atmospherics of it.

JUDY WOODRUFF: What effect do you think this is going to have?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, first of all, it will have a long-term effect on politics, I think.

And that is Martin Lomasney, who was the legendary ward boss in Boston around the turn of the century and the early 20th century, said, never write it when you can say it, never say it when you can wink it, and never wink it when you can nod it.

I mean, the compulsion to put all this stuff in emails, I think, comes back, is going to haunt future campaigns. As far as right now, for the Clinton campaign, it's a real kick in the teeth. That had been resolved. They'd gotten a clean bill of health, or at least a non-prosecution, by the FBI director 90 days ago.

And to have this revisited, especially featuring Anthony Weiner, who doesn't have to be introduced to the nation, is a political problem. And it does just remind of the — and the problems and the difficulties that have surrounded the family for years.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, it's a problem, even not knowing what's in these emails, which we won't know?

DAVID BROOKS: Right. There are two levels of media information. There is those of us who cover politics a lot and probably most people watching our shows, whether it's on this channel or it's any of the cables or the many networks. They have decided.

But this gets to "Entertainment Tonight." It gets to every comedian. It gets to The National Enquirer. It gets out to the group of people who are, as they say, not information-rich voters, who are the ones who are actually deciding. And a lot of their decision is, I really don't like this Donald Trump guy, but — so I have got to vote for Clinton.

But then they get this news about Clinton. And they're just going on their moral instincts, and it begins to look like parity of sleaze.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Mark, do you think there are enough people out there who either — they are either undecided or they're just persuadable at this point, or maybe they will stay home and not vote?

MARK SHIELDS: I think, Judy, that there is no question going into this week that the Democrats were very much in the saddle and very dominant, when, in Utah, which, in the last 10 elections, seven times has been the most Republican state in the union, in the last week of October, the Republicans feel it's necessary because of the third-party challenge of Evan McMullin, that they're worried about it being a three-way race and perhaps losing Utah.

They send the vice presidential candidate all the way out there. That tells you their playing defense. And right next door in Arizona, which has voted Republican 15 of the last 16 times, Michelle Obama is introduced by Barry Goldwater's granddaughter to a crowd of 7,000, after Bernie Sanders got — Democrats are on the offensive.

And then you get three things that happened. You get the Obamacare raise and hikes. You get the WikiLeaks and the peek, the unpleasant peek, unflattering peek anyway, into the financial doings of the Clinton Foundation and Bill — and former President Bill Clinton, and then you get this.

And what does it hurt? It hurts, Judy, the women voters, especially Republican women voters, who, as David said, had turned off of Donald Trump, were trending toward Hillary Clinton. And I think younger idealistic Sanders voters, it may just stop them for a second, as they were turning to going to vote for Hillary Clinton, whether, gee, do I really want to do it? And I think that's the problem for Democrats.

DAVID BROOKS: And maybe we should put in perspective.

Say, Hillary Clinton — say, she has an 87 percent chance of winning now. I think this may knock her down a point or two, and so that may reduce her chance of winning to like 80 or 75. And so I don't think it's like a game-changer by any stretch of the imagination.

But a point or two, if we were driving home and somebody said you have a 30 percent chance of getting into a wreck on the way home, we would think, that's pretty bad odds. And so that — it does slightly increase the odds.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, you're saying it's not going to turn the race around, but you're saying it will have an effect?

MARK SHIELDS: I just think everything was heading in her direction, and I think that it maybe freezes that.

I agree it's not at this point a game-changer, by any means, Judy. But if Hillary Clinton won by five points or more, virtually every Republican I know believes she will carry the Senate. And if, all of a sudden, it's a three-point, a two-point victory, it means a couple of things.

It means that the Senate is very much up for grabs and it also means that Donald Trump will be a factor in a very bloody civil war in the Republican Party after this election.

JUDY WOODRUFF: You mean whichever way this goes?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, I think, if he suffered a real defeat, a stinging defeat of 10 points, or in that area, I think he would no longer be a major figure, because nobody in the Republican Party basically wants him to be there. But he would have a claim if he loses by two.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, this has clearly been a bad week for Hillary Clinton.

David, I do want to bring up something Mark mentioned. And that is, you hear not just Democratic women, independent women, Republican women saying — and we had a discussion about it here on the "NewsHour" last night — who are really troubled by what they have seen in the course of this election.

How long-lasting a problem is that for the Republican Party?

DAVID BROOKS: I think it's mostly Trump-related.

Of course, there's always been a gender gap. But among — it's — for Republicans politically, it's sort of been manageable. And it depends on how they project themselves. In some years, they have done better.

But Donald Trump is so egregious in the way he talks about women, the way he allegedly treated women, I do think it's more his own thing. And where you're seeing it especially is among college-educated women. The college-educated in general in all our previous elections have voted Republican, but now they're going massively for the Democrats. And college-educated women, in particular, like 65 percent for Hillary Clinton.

And they're turned off of Trump both on issues, but especially on these moral positions, or the moral behavior that he's undertaken. But I still think it's mostly a Trump phenomenon. If you get — next time you get a Mitt Romney or somebody who's just morally clean, I don't think it lingers.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you think that that's the way it will work, Mark?

MARK SHIELDS: No, I don't.

I think Mitt Romney is the conspicuous exception. Mitt Romney was the man who stood up to Donald Trump early, hard, never wavered. We have seen this back-and-forth, Jason Chaffetz from Utah saying, I have a 15-year-old daughter. There's no way I could support somebody like him.

Now he's voting for him. You get this back-and-forth. I just think, Judy, I mean, the Democrats have tried the war against women in the past. It didn't really have that much traction. But I…

JUDY WOODRUFF: Accusing the Republicans of…

(CROSSTALK)

MARK SHIELDS: Accusing the Republicans waging a war on women.

But when you have got a candidate who basically authors his own how-to tape on how to assault women for your own needs and wants, you know, without impunity — with impunity, and you don't have that many people stand up and say he's unacceptable, I think it's a stain on the Republicans,.

And I think it could very well be a problem, not of the dimensions of '64 and the Civil Rights Act. But I think he's not — it's not going to go away in a hurry.

DAVID BROOKS: Yes.

Well, I agree it's a stain, but I would make a generational point here that there is a big difference, especially on some of these issues and basically on ethnic diversity issues, on a bunch of issues and sensibility issues, between older Republicans and younger Republicans.

And what Newt Gingrich said to Megyn Kelly, a total insensitivity to sexual assault, that is just — I don't meet too many Republican candidates under 45 who are that numb and that blind.

And I do think there's different attitudes growing up in the Republican Party. I'm struck especially among social conservatives, among evangelical voters. It's very hard to find an evangelical person under 45, let alone on some of the Christian college campuses, who has any tolerance for Donald Trump.

Of course, they're there, but there is such a stark generational divide. So, the rising group of Republican voters are different tonally on a lot of these issues.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, it's not just evangelical women, who we have talked about.

MARK SHIELDS: I don't disagree with David.

But I think what's been unleashed by this experience, by Donald Trump and by the women who have come forth, I think there's been a spontaneous, almost public and private confessional of women everywhere at every generation about revealing to their own daughters, to their spouses, to their family…

JUDY WOODRUFF: About their own experience.

MARK SHIELDS: … about their own experience.

And I think this is out there now. I mean, it really is. And I think this is an — it's an issue that was very private. And I think now it's very much a part of the national agenda. And I think there is not going to be an unwillingness to address this in the future, like there has been in the past.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And in that connection, I will just mention briefly, Marcia Coyle, who is our Supreme Court reporter…

MARK SHIELDS: Exactly.

JUDY WOODRUFF: She's a regular on the "NewsHour" — reported this week for "The National Law Journal," a woman who just posted on her Facebook page, personally, something that happened between her and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. That is now in the news.

But it goes to your point Mark about, it's coming forward.

Just a little bit of time before — I don't want to leave everybody on a political note tonight, because there is something going on in this country that has to do with baseball, and it's the World Series, and it's the Cubs and the Indians. These are not two teams that have spent a lot of time in the finals of the Series.

So, I want to — you two love baseball. So, what do you see happening? And what do you — you have got to tell me who's going to win.

Mark.

MARK SHIELDS: Well, I can't tell you who will win, but I will say this, Judy.

Everybody knows it's — Teddy Roosevelt was president the last time the Cubs won the World Series, 1908. OK? And so the Cubs are kind of America's darling. I mean, everybody's rooting for them, and they're trendy. They're kind of chic.

But Cleveland, Cleveland is special. Cleveland was the second franchise and the first in the American League to desegregate in 1948.

And, beyond that, it's taken a lot of — they are the real underdogs in this race — I mean, in this competition. So, I have a very soft spot for Cleveland.

And Jim Bouton, who wrote "Ball Four," of the Yankees said once that, if you're going to have a flying accident, you want it on the way into Cleveland, not the way out. I mean, that's a terrible thing to say about a city. So, I'm rooting for them.

DAVID BROOKS: I'm appalled that you can't pick a side.

(LAUGHTER)

DAVID BROOKS: I think we're morally obligated to pick the Chicago Cubs. I have wondering who to vote for. I'm writing in Kyle Schwarber, Indiana University, proud native, great hitter, coming out of the bench.

MARK SHIELDS: Great story.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Owner of the team.

MARK SHIELDS: No.

DAVID BROOKS: No, no. He's a — the designated hitter.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Oh, oh, OK.

(LAUGHTER)

MARK SHIELDS: Six hundred days, he hadn't faced face Major League pitching, and gets the hit and…

DAVID BROOKS: Schwarber for president.

JUDY WOODRUFF: All right.

Yes.

JUDY WOODRUFF: We heard it here first.

MARK SHIELDS: OK.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark Shields, David Brooks, thank you.

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