Shields and Brooks on the Week in Politics

By The NewsHour, The NewsHour - September 7, 2012

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JUDY WOODRUFF: And with us once again, as they have been every night for the last two weeks in Tampa and in Charlotte, are Shields and Brooks. That's syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

So, gentlemen, I promise not to talk about your -- the circles under your eyes, if you promise not to talk about the circles under my eyes.


JUDY WOODRUFF: So these undecided voters, David, what do you make of all that?

DAVID BROOKS: I thought they made a lot of good points.

I sometimes have little patience for undecided voters, but I thought they hit a lot of issues that are absolutely crucial, lack of agenda, who can get things done, certain betrayals.

And I guess my advice would be focus on the two things we're certain -- or three things we're certain of.

First, we know there's a fiscal cliff coming in December. Which of these two gentlemen is more likely to control the Congress to getting a deal? Because there's a real possibility they will not get a deal and we will have a recession in December. That's a real possibility.

The second thing is health care. We know that, if Romney wins, he will repeal. We know that, if Obama wins, he will not. So that is a concrete thing. You don't have to be fuzzy about that. You know.

And then, third, growth agenda, who is offering one?

And I guess my own perspective on that is the Republicans have a skewed growth agenda and the Democrats have no growth agenda. So you're picking between imperfections.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark, the comments they made were striking. He didn't answer how to fix the economy. There wasn't much policy there. What did you make of what they said?

MARK SHIELDS: I found it fascinating, and it's a great reminder to all of us who opine on politics that elections are about voters. They're not about candidates. They're not about Barack Obama, Mitt Romney. They're about voters.

And voters can't be pigeonholed. I mean, those are complicated, interesting people. They don't fit in to, oh, this is where my left-handed independent will break on the issues. They're going to be strong on defense, and, therefore, they're going to be anti-tax, whatever.

They were just -- I thought what they had to offer -- I thought the most interesting observation to me was the young man who said that Barack Obama is just bruised and wounded after four years. I mean, one way to look at it is that he's gray, he's seasoned, he's survived. But that's another way of looking at it.

And the woman who felt betrayed because the president made his reassurance that, on religious freedom, religious liberty, and that he wouldn't encroach, and certainly the convention celebrated, celebrated loudly and continuously, a woman's right to choose, and with no reference made...

DAVID BROOKS: Notice nobody said, well, he had Clint Eastwood. Oh, no, he had Mary J. Blige.


DAVID BROOKS: These sort of things which we talk about a lot.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The things that we end up talking about, because...


JUDY WOODRUFF: But when you hear them say, I wanted more detail, is that -- are they going to get that on the campaign trail?


And I have sort of been a broken record on this. I don't think you have to lay out 59-point plans. But I do think there has to be a road, say on growth. What creates growth in the economy over the next two years or year? What do you believe creates growth?

Romney, I guess, believes tax cuts will create that growth. Obama, I think he believes that stimulus spending creates growth. I think he's a Keynesian.

But there's no mention of that. And he's not offering that, probably because it's politically not that popular right now. But if he does believe stimulus spending creates growth -- he has talked about his jobs bill, though, before that, to be fair.


DAVID BROOKS: But I didn't hear that in the convention or in the convention speech.

So he should say, I believe in more stimulus spending.

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