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Shields and Brooks on fighting Islamic extremism, Giuliani on Obama

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    This week: the debate in Washington over how to talk about the Islamic State militant group, Jeb Bush lays out his approach to foreign policy, and a Texas judge temporarily blocks President Obama's immigration action.

    We look at it all with the analysis of Shields and Brooks, syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

    Welcome, gentlemen. Great to have you.

    All right. So, David, let's start with the summit the White House held on confronting — they called it confronting violent extremism, looking at how do you prevent terrorist acts from happening in the first place, local communities. The criticism the White House got was they're bending over backwards, they're going out of their way not to use the term Islamic extremism.

  • DAVID BROOKS:

    Right.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    What do you make of it?

  • DAVID BROOKS:

    Well, are we allowed to called the Islamic State Islamic?

    They are. In some sense, it's a stupid debate, because is it true Islam, is it perverted Islam? The fact is, religion is all interpretation. God doesn't come down here and tell us exactly what he means. We have interpretations within Christianity, within Judaism and within Islam. If you call yourself a Muslim, you're a Muslim.

    They have different interpretations, but it's all interpretations. So, one is a perverted or a sick form of Islam. A lot of people fortunately have a much more peaceful form of Islam, but it's all an interpretation of a faith. What's the real one? It's all a matter of interpretation.

    I think they should probably call it Islamic extremism. It is Islamic extremism. The second, I think, and more important issue is how we diagnose the problem. And there are three elements to this sort of terrorism, as we just saw in the segment about that Egyptian young man.

    First, there's economic and political dysfunction. So that young man wanted to be a personal trainer and he couldn't. So he was alienated from that and marginalized from society. But, second, there's a spiritual ardor. A guy wants to be a hero. The guy wants to be seen as strong and a hero, like that young man.

    And, third, there's theological conviction. And Islamic State has theology to it, real, substantive theology. We're comfortable talking about the economics and the politics because we live in a secular society and we're comfortable talking about that stuff.

    But if we don't talk about the spiritual call that they feel and the theological content, then we're missing the core of the thing. And if we're going to fight it, you can't just say we're going to give you a higher standard of living. You don't need to go to the Islamic State. That isn't going to work. You have to have a spiritual, better alternative.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    How do you see this, Mark?

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    I think, Judy, that I think the president was right.

    It is wrong to say that this is a religious movement as such. David makes the point, I think validly so, that this is a splinter group from this religion. Most of the victims of the Islamic State have been Muslims. Most of the opponents are Muslims.

    But it does have a theological component to it. That's its farm system. That's from whom it's drawing. It's a battle of nomenclature. I think there was a reluctance on the part of the administration to ever say it. They have said it. The president was very clear.

    But at the same time, you want to make a distinction. This is 26 percent of the world's population. And you just don't want to give the impression, the misimpression, that this is a war against Islam. It isn't. It's a war against these people who come and call themselves the Islamic State and who do come from Islamic groups. But I think you have to grant it is a perversion.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Mark has a point, doesn't he?

  • DAVID BROOKS:

    Well, no, I think it's a perversion because they're so inhumane.

    What's the Pascal phrase, they try to be higher than the angels, they end up lower than the beast. And so that's clearly what is happening to them. They have turned themselves into monsters. But there was lot of monstrosity in the wars of religion in the 15th century in Europe. They were certainly religious wars.

    And so I do think you have to take the religion seriously, that these people are — it's not like they can't get what we want. They want something they think is higher than what we want. Their souls are involved. And I'm saying you have to conceive of them as moving, as acting in a religious way.

    And you have to have religious alternatives. And they are driven by an end times ideology. They think there's going to be some cataclysm battle and Mohammed will come down. And if you ignore that part of it, write it off as sort of marginal, that they are being produced by economic dysfunction, I just think you're missing the main deal.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Well, this is one we're going to keep talking about.

    But, Mark, while we're on the subject of Islamic State, foreign policy, let's talk 2016. Jeb Bush clearly running or seems to be clearly running for president, gave a major foreign policy speech this week. His team said he's laying out how he thinks about it. How much is he constrained by his brother's record on foreign policy?

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    Enormously. He probably would like to be the heir to his father's, I think who has probably an admired foreign policy and respected foreign policy, the last president to go before the Congress and get support, go before the Security Council of the United Nations and get support and to do what he said he was going to do in the Persian Gulf War.

    And it was a unequivocal American victory and a great coalition was assembled, the antithesis of his brother. Jeb Bush is basically saying, I'm Bush. I'm not my brother. It was a bumbling, fumbling introduction, Judy.

    He wasn't agile. He wasn't comfortable with the subject. He's fortunately running against two people, Scott Walker, who is a governor of Wisconsin, whose idea of foreign policy is beat Ohio State, and Chris Christie, whose trips to Chinatown and Little Italy have qualified him for foreign policy.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Ooh.

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    I mean, no, they are total novices.

    But it wasn't an impressive debut. And it was marred not by announcing and emphasizing Jim Baker or Brent Scowcroft, revered advisers from earlier times are counseling him, but Paul Wolfowitz, the architect, advocate and engineer of the United States' war against Iraq and really the leader of the weapons of mass destruction lobby, is in the front.

    To me, that just a serious, serious mistake.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Not an impressive rollout?

  • DAVID BROOKS:

    Well, he definitely has a problem.

    Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard had a piece on a poll they did. They asked Americans, does this candidate represent the future or the past? And Bush was heavily, he's the past. And so he does have a big mountain to climb. Hillary Clinton, oddly, was 50 percent future, 48 percent past. So, even though she's been around, people sort of think she's — something new there.

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    Gender-intensive.

  • DAVID BROOKS:

    Exactly.

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    Yes.

  • DAVID BROOKS:

    Yes. And so Bush has this problem.

    And I thought the speech — I wasn't quite as underwhelmed as Mark. I don't know how you rate underwhelmed-ness. But I do think it was sort of lacking in some of the innovation and substance, the willingness to take a risk and offer something new.

    I think what's heartening is that — we can have different views about Paul Wolfowitz. I think he's a much more complicated character than sometimes he's portrayed. But most of the people that Bush went to are people like Bob Zoellick, Richard Haass of the Council on Foreign Relations. It was pretty much the A-team on the Republican side.

    They're very responsible. And we would feel safe with men and women like that at the helm. And so he's like going right down the middle of Republican foreign policy, nothing too remarkable either way.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    But you're troubled by it.

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    I'm not troubled.

    I just — I thought — it's a rush, Judy. No one's going to get to his right. That was what this speech was about politically. And secondly was, I'm going to get Romney supporters. He's in a hurry. He's a man in a hurry to get donors and to get backers. And I think he's trying to fill up the vacuum. I don't think he's ready for prime time. That was not…

  • DAVID BROOKS:

    He's nobody's idea of a perfect orator. That's for sure.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    I have a question about Hillary Clinton.

    But before I do, you mentioned Scott Walker. At one of the Scott Walker events this week, former New York Mayor, David, Rudy Giuliani made a statement that has gotten a lot of attention. He basically — he talked about President Obama and said, "He wasn't raised like we were," talking to the group. He said, "He doesn't love this country as we do."

    It's gotten a lot of attention. Do we — how big a deal is it?

  • DAVID BROOKS:

    Well, it's — you know, it's unacceptable. You can't say that. He doesn't know that. It's not true. It's self-destructive.

    There's sort of, I don't know, who to blame, I don't know, somebody like that. There's almost sort of a Mort Sahl, Richard Pryor ethos where the person who says the most shocking thing is the best person. And sometimes on the stump, that seems to happen in partisan rallies. And Giuliani said something that I'm sure, like, shocked the bourgeoisie, but it's unacceptable. And I hope it doesn't define the Republican race.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    You see it stopping there?

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    Judy, I think this — has to be signaled, has to be stated, and has to be called out.

    Rudy Giuliani's language is unacceptable. This wasn't given at some shadowy end-of-the-road, secret handshake to get into the room with sort of a paranoid fringe group. This was 60 people, major fund-raisers and donors, Republican, at the 21 Club, a bistro, a signature bistro in New York City.

    And to this group of people, he basically said the president doesn't like America. And this is — I go back to John McCain, who in 2008, when this was a hot issue, had the courage to confront a Republican audience in Lakeville, Minnesota, when they made this charge and said, no, that is untrue. President Obama is an American. He cares about this country. He loves this family, and I like him, but I disagree with him on the issues.

    This is going to be an arms race about who hates Barack Obama and who can say he's less of a patriot. Rudy Giuliani, who had six draft exemptions and got a judge to write a request to have him reclassified 2A so he didn't have to serve in Vietnam, for him to start grading patriotism is unacceptable. And it's going to take the Republican Party right down the road to defeat.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Well, there were several Republicans who denounced it after he said it.

  • DAVID BROOKS:

    Yes. I think that's incumbent upon Republicans to do that, just to police the party.

    As Mark says, it's self-destructive. It's not only bad taste, bad manners, bad morality. The country doesn't want that kind of thing, I don't think.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Question about Hillary Clinton. We haven't talked about her in a while. She's not a candidate yet, but everybody thinks she will be.

    Mark, she's — there's a major story out this week about her, the Clinton Foundation receiving enormous amounts of money from foreign governments. Is that the kind of thing that could hurt her candidacy?

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    Yes.

    Hillary Clinton is a beat now, just like foreign policy is a beat, Congress is a beat. Major newspapers, including David's, have people, good reporters, excellent reporters assigned to Hillary Clinton. And it comes up this week. And The Wall Street Journal had 60 major corporations had given $21 million that — who have lobbied her when she was secretary of state, who she had tried to help, as secretaries of states do in their foreign dealings.

    So her being on a first-name basis with big money and particularly Wall Street puts pressure on her, I think, to establish her economic independence from those groups in the campaign.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    How do you see it?

  • DAVID BROOKS:

    Yes, I think it will hurt. I think there will be things that will shock people that maybe we don't even know yet, because there just was a river of money flowing through to foundation and through the speeches.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    You mean in the specifics?

  • DAVID BROOKS:

    Yes. We will find things and we will think, oh, really?

    And I think people will be shocked by the dollar amounts that are there and they will ask about quid pro quos. And so I do think it will be a problem, especially because this is a party that's become more populist, and has become more organized against finance and against the dominance of finance.

    And Hillary Clinton clearly has to show she's different. And she can come out and move left on economic populism. But if the paychecks are coming from those sources, it will at least be an issue.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And so far — we will see what more her campaign, her team has to say about it.

    Mark Shields, David Brooks, have a great weekend.

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    Thank you.

  • DAVID BROOKS:

    Thank you.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Thank you both.

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    Thank you, Judy.

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