David Brooks on VA Dem Turmoil: "A Lot Of Male Bad Behavior, Maybe We Should Have Only Women Leading"

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Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks analyze the week in politics, including chaos at the highest levels of Virginia government, the effectiveness of congressional investigations, the Supreme Court’s abortion ruling and the legacy of Rep. John Dingell (D-MI).

Brooks weighed in on the blackface controversy surrounding Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and Attorney General Mark Herring (D) and allegations of sexual assault against Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D). He called the Fairfax case the "most serious," but that we should not rush to conclusions without investigating first.

"Men turn out to be a problem. There's a lot of male bad behavior. Maybe we should have only women leading our states. That might solve these problems," Brooks said Friday on PBS NewsHour.





"I'm always very slow to call for resignations. It makes everybody feel good. But I really believe in investigating. And so somebody should be investigating that one," he said.

Brooks said that although what Gov. Northam did was "appalling and hateful" there should be a "path to redemption" for him.

"On the Northam case, you know, what he does — we spoke about it briefly, because the news had just broken last week — that what he did was appalling and hateful," the NYT columnist said. "And yet I do think, in a lot of these cases, that there should be some path to redemption. And that path should involve an apology. It should involve a lifetime or decades or years of service in the cause."

The scribe also declared that it is not white people who are in a position to "offer forgiveness," but the "African-American community."

"Frankly, to be honest, it's not white people who are in the position to offer forgiveness," Brooks said. "The African-American community is the one that was wronged by this. And so it's trying to work with them and sort of humble oneself before them that I think is the ultimate court here."

Brooks observed that for a lot of members, a Congressional career is not a series of legislations, but a "a series of confrontational moments at a hearing that were televised."

"I was reading Kamala Harris' memoir last week. And she describes her Senate career not as a series of legislations, but as a series of confrontational moments at a hearing that were televised," he said.

Transcript, via PBS NewsHour:

AMNA NAWAZ, PBS NEWSHOUR: Virginia and the country weigh the transgressions of the state's top leaders in a moment of reckoning. And, in Washington, Democrats flex their new power in the House, starting with investigating the president, bringing us to the analysis of Shields and Brooks.

That's syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

Welcome to you both. Happy Friday.

So, let's start in Virginia.

I want to bring up a couple of tweets real quick, because we have had late-breaking news on this. There has been a second allegation of assault against Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax, leading to former Governor Terry McAuliffe to now call for Fairfax's resignation.

He says the allegations are serious and credible and he doesn't believe Fairfax can effectively serve the people of Virginia.

I should note other lawmakers have now joined that call for him to resign.

And Fairfax has also issued a statement in response, calling the allegations an obvious — sorry — "vicious and coordinated smear campaign" orchestrated against him, and he says he will not resign. ... What did you make of this, David? Did you think it was a stampede?

DAVID BROOKS, NEW YORK TIMES: A bit.

Men turn out to be a problem. There's a lot of male bad behavior. Maybe we should have only women leading our states. That might solve these problems.

I think there are two different cases here. The Fairfax case, the Justin Fairfax case, is suddenly looking to be the much more serious of the two to me, that there's multiple — two women making allegations, with some suggestion that there is contemporaneous evidence, that he assaulted them.

And so that, to me, it turns out, is the most serious one to me. I would say he's in the post peril. He might have done an actual crime. So, there, I think — I'm always very slow to call for resignations. It makes everybody feel good. But I really believe in investigating. And so somebody should be investigating that one.

On the Northam case, you know, what he does — we spoke about it briefly, because the news had just broken last week — that what he did was appalling and hateful.

And yet I do think, in a lot of these cases, that there should be some path to redemption. And that path should involve an apology. It should involve a lifetime or decades or years of service in the cause.

And Northam, frankly, his record on civil rights is quite good. And so whatever hateful thing he may or may not have done as a med student, it's not evident in his adult behavior. And I do think that that mitigates toward some sense of leniency. Then maybe he can spend the rest of his governorship continuing good work, heightened because of what he did as a young man.

So, to me, to throw — to destroy a reasonably good career, whether you — for — over this thing is probably not — we do not have a surplus of good people in public life...

When I mentioned the road to redemption, frankly, to be honest, it's not white people who have the — who are in the position to offer forgiveness.

The African-American community is the one that was wronged by this. And so it's trying to work with them and sort of humble oneself before them that I think is the ultimate court here.

And that would be a good role for any governor in any state to do something like that...

NAWAZ: Speaking of investigations there, it's been a busy week for them, David, launching oversight investigations into the Trump Organization, threatening subpoenas.

They came out at a quite a pace. Is it sustainable? Are they sending a message? What's going on here?

BROOKS: Yes, I wonder about the word investigation.

Are we investigating, or are we having just television shows? And Matthew Whitaker was on — was in the hearings today. The guy is going to be out of office probably in a few days, because Bill Barr is going to be — become the actual attorney general.

So, what exactly was the purpose of that show? And these days, when you get one of these televised hearings, they're not investigations. They are shows. And I'm struck by how Congress has shifted that way.

I was reading Kamala Harris' memoir last week. And she describes her Senate career not as a series of legislations, but as a series of confrontational moments at a hearing that were televised.

And I think, for a lot of members now, that is what being in Congress is. And so sometimes you get real investigations, but I'm dubious that we're going to see a lot of actual investigating.

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