Shields and Brooks on transparency in police shootings, first debate expectations

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JUDY WOODRUFF: Now to the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

Welcome, gentlemen.


JUDY WOODRUFF: So, we turn to the lead story tonight and for the last few nights, David, two more shootings in Tulsa and Charlotte, North Carolina, by police of black men. We’re still getting the information. We know the Tulsa policewoman was charged with manslaughter.

What are we to make of this, the fact that these keep happening?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, first of all, the videos are just harrowing and have an effect on, I think, all of us and an effect on the national mood.

It’s just this is a man losing his life. This is a wife losing her husband. These are cops in the middle. And you can feel the pressure building on them as they don’t know — quite know what to do. Beyond that, we don’t really know that much.

I do think these things — these particular situations are always going to happen. And it seems to me there are two issues here, one, getting justice in the individual case or these individual cases and all the individual cases, and then, second, which is to me more serious and the more political subject, is, we do know there is tremendous racial disparities in searches, in arrests, in all sorts of police activities, maybe not in police killings.

Harvard Research shows there is not much racial disparity there, but just about in every other police activity, there are these huge racial disparities. And when we see the protests, at least the legitimate parts of the protests, that’s the problem.

And so some — I think it’s useful to separate these individual cases — and we don’t know what happened here yet — from the larger problem, which is indisputable. And finding a solution to that larger problem is really the political issue.


And can we focus on the real problem, Mark, when we have these — when feelings run high, emotions run high, understandably?

MARK SHIELDS: Yes, I’m not sure. I don’t think really we have so far, certainly. I mean, there’s — I agree with David. This is so incredible — it’s wrenching and it’s sobering.

And my own perspective on it has changed since Senator Tim Scott, the African-American Republican from South Carolina, took to the Senate floor, a card-carrying conservative, an authentic conservative man, ran as such, got elected and reelected as such, and said — spoke about his own experience of being stopped seven times by police officers for the principal offense of, as he put it, driving a new car in the wrong neighborhood, or even being stopped by Capitol Police and demanded to show his I.D.

It does give you an idea that this is a real problem understanding fully the pressures that David talked about and the risks that police officers do take.

But I guess, when I look at this, Judy, most of, I mean, I — I just think about where we are as a country. And I’m not sure at this moment.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, that’s pretty — I don’t know what one says to that.


I mean, I think, you know, as we go around the country — I was in Nashville last night. I met with some cops. I was in Chicago last week. And you find that a couple things happen. You find a lot of police forces that are actually doing better, I think, at community policing, getting integrated with the communities. San Antonio, Texas, does a fine job.

And then — but then, in say, the Chicago case, there does seem to be some evidence of a Ferguson effect, of the cops being — not wanting to be on those videos, and then pulling back. And then you get the spike in the murder rate as a result.

And so these are just super hard issues. And, on the one hand, there’s clear bias in the way African-Americans are treated. On the other hand, I used to be a police reporter. When cops are out there, even if they have a gun in their hands, they do not feel safe. They feel like they’re scared.

And so these situations are harrowing on all sides.


MARK SHIELDS: Tulsa does show, I think, the value of transparency, which we are not seeing…

JUDY WOODRUFF: They put the video out almost immediately.

MARK SHIELDS: They put it out. And it was there in the case of Terence Crutcher. And the district attorney moved quickly, and started the process of resolution.

North Carolina is — the only video we have seen so far is that of the widow. So, you know, there seems to be a lack of — or an absence so far of transparency.

DAVID BROOKS: Yes. It seems to me the arguments for not releasing the video seem weak to me. And they really should release it.


JUDY WOODRUFF: And we saw — well, the family is saying they have seen the video, and they are not saying it’s definitive, but they want it made public.

And, David, Hillary Clinton put out a statement. I guess she tweeted that the video should be made public. She’s going to Charlotte this weekend.

What do we know about these candidates at a moment? This comes in the middle of the election. We’re just a couple of days away from the debate. She’s made some sympathetic comments. Donald Trump initially made a sympathetic comment about the victim in Tulsa, but then, I guess, last night made a speech and talked about we need to support the police.


So, just politically — and this is not what I support, but what I think realistically is the effect of this. I think it helps Donald Trump. I go back to 1968. Richard Nixon was helped by riots, if you want to put it that way. And Trump’s campaign, from the convention speech on, has been really predicated on the argument that Americans are under violent threat, and that there is chaos and that our social order is being undone.

And if there’s not just the shootings, but the riots and the unrest, I think, at least for a certain segment of the population, that will undergird and support his argument, his perceptions of what America is. And I do think, if there’s any political effect of this, that air of disorder will end up helping him a little.

JUDY WOODRUFF: You agree it helps him?

MARK SHIELDS: I think it’s a pretty established principle in American politics that looting during a campaign helps the self-identified law and order candidate.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, not all the protests involve looting.

MARK SHIELDS: No. No — but when there is looting, is my point.

I think that North Carolina is a test case in many respects. North Carolina had the reputation among Southern states for being so progressive under the governorships of — particularly of Terry Sanford and Jim Hunt, exceptional national — state leaders and national leaders.

And now, since — in the last year, since the legislature and its bathroom laws and other effects, it’s seen its own reputation tarnished. It’s lost the National Basketball Association all-star game, a matter of pride in a basketball state, lost the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, which is an identifying icon of North Carolina life.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Then some voting rights controversies.

MARK SHIELDS: It’s lost — the voting rights controversy.

It’s lost jobs and business expansion. But I think this — Charlotte had the self-identified reputation of being the Atlanta, the new Atlanta, too busy to hate, and all the rest of it. And I think this is a blow. And I don’t know how it plays out politically in the national election.

I think Secretary Clinton, it’s — I’m not sure what the rewards are of going to Charlotte. There is a risk if looting followers, if there isn’t — there’s peace and tranquility, and she’s seen as a unifying figure, then that’s a positive.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But, David, we are, we said, just a couple of days, hours away from the first debate.

Let’s talk about it. What do we see, what do we feel at this moment? There are expectations. How different are they for these two candidates and what are they?


First, it’s easy to overestimate the effects of the debates. We all have 1960 in our head. But, historically, they produce maybe a one- or two-point bump. And so George Bush lost a lot of debates. A lot of losers have won a lot of debates, and it hasn’t shifted the election.

I’m very taken with an article in “The Atlantic Monthly” by James Fallows, where says, when you watch the debate, you should turn off the volume.



DAVID BROOKS: But when you — you might lose us, but — unless you just want to look at our faces.


DAVID BROOKS: But when you think of pivotal debate moments, it’s often a visual image. And that’s certainly true with Donald Trump.

What he does is, he has exercised dominance displays throughout the Republican race. And it’s really his physical nature that helped him sort of stare down Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. And a lot of the moments are — either — Al Gore sighing — they’re not the words that come out of their mouth. They’re the visual posture they display that people are evaluating.

And even though they don’t matter as much, I do think if Trump can seem normal, he will have normalized himself a little maybe for some voters.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But that’s — you’re saying that’s a lower expectation, a lower bar.

DAVID BROOKS: To seem normal, a normal human being, yes, not mentally ill, yes.

MARK SHIELDS: To return to my sports metaphor, I think, like a good basketball coach, the Clinton people have worked the referees this week. They have made the point that this is — he’s not to be held to some minimal standard, if he shows up and isn’t profane or obscene or obnoxious, that this is a debate for the presidency, that we’re measuring the qualifications of these people.

So I think, in that sense, I think it has worked. He has been put on notice.

I think she has a great advantage going in, not simply that she has debated Barack Obama five times, 90 minutes of Bernie Sanders five — he never has — he’s never gone one on one with anybody. He’s been able to choose his spots, and go in and speak in wall posters and bumper sticker slogans.

You can’t do that for 90 minutes. You can’t just talk make America great again, build a great wall. This is a — it’s a test of some substance.

She knows exactly all the policy. She just has to not try and prosecute the case. She has to try and win and tell people why she wants to be president, what difference it’s going to make in their lives, two things, not 23 things, what two differences they’re going to make, what two improvements.

So, I really think that she has an advantage. He has a great advantage, Judy, in the sense that he’s enormously comfortable with the camera, he’s enormously comfortable on stage.

And Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett’s great sidekick, had a marvelous statement. He said never underestimate a man who overestimates himself. And that’s — Donald Trump meets that definition completely.


JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you see — David, how do you see expectations for Hillary Clinton? What standard does she have to meet?

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, the coolness standard.

If she loses this election, it will be for one reason, because she loses millennials. And they’re not going to vote for Trump, but they could vote for Gary Johnson and somebody, Jill Stein. And so she has to win over millennial.

And this might be one of the few times she gets a lot of voters, at least live or later online, to actually look at her. And she has to somehow resonate with the people that Bernie Sanders and Barack Obama touched so deeply.

JUDY WOODRUFF: How does she do that?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, some of it may be college — some of it may be just the vulnerable style.

This is a generation that’s grown up with — on social media. And they’re used to a style of social communication that’s more casual. And she has not been that. Her fund-raising style is like Cher and Barbra Streisand. It’s not like — it’s really reaching the young. Her policy style is very 1960s Democrat, sort of traditional.

And she has not, either stylistically or substantively, broken in with the current issues, either stylistically, or the concerns a lot of young people have about TPP and all that kind of stuff, about the openness of trade.

And so, somehow, millennials has to be her central focus.

MARK SHIELDS: She’s running against somebody who’s substance-free, substance-free.

I mean, so I think there is a certain responsibility on filling in the empty spaces, which are large in the case of the Republican nominee.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, the two of you are going to be with us all night Monday night starting at 6:00 on “NewsHour.”

MARK SHIELDS: With the sound…



JUDY WOODRUFF: And a little bit of news here at the end.

We’re told that NBC is reporting both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will meet on Sunday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, so a little bit of foreign policy in the middle of all this.

We can’t wait to see you Monday night.

MARK SHIELDS: Thank you, Judy.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Thank you, both, Mark and David.

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