David Brooks: Given Current Impeachment Poll Numbers, "I'm Not Sure What Will Have Been Achieved" | Video | RealClearPolitics

David Brooks: Given Current Impeachment Poll Numbers, "I'm Not Sure What Will Have Been Achieved"


PBS NEWSHOUR: Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week in politics, including public opinion and legal debate in the impeachment inquiry into President Trump, the shifting race among 2020 Democrats and what we’re thankful for during this holiday week.

JUDY WOODRUFF, PBS NEWSHOUR: So, the impeachment process, we are seeing the Judiciary Committee marching ahead, David.

There's a hearing next week where they are going to talk to constitutional scholars about impeachment. The committee sent a letter to the White House saying the president has until next Friday to say whether he's going to call witnesses and provide evidence.

Meantime, the president is out on the campaign trail saying the whole thing is a witch-hunt, and he's not going to cooperate.

And is he making some progress, because we're seeing the polls show some slipping in support for impeachment?

DAVID BROOKS, NEW YORK TIMES: Yes, especially in swing states.

And so I think the contrast for the coming week will be that the Democrats will be ever more treating this like a legal matter, and Donald Trump will be ever more treating it like a political matter, and them trying to close it in on the exact events and him trying to widen it, see, this is just what they have been doing at me. They have been — this is an attack on you.

And they will both win. And the impeachment now numbers are just like every other numbers in our politics, completely divided right down the middle, and with nobody moving on either side.

And so I suspect Trump will see this as a tremendous way to get his base, and Democrats will see the same way. And we will march forward. And eventually it'll end. And then we will turn our attention the Democratic Party, and I'm not sure what will have been achieved...

WOODRUFF: So are you saying — and I'm going to turn to David on this. Are you saying that this is not about impeaching him and removing him from office by the Congress, but doing it — but damaging him enough so that it happens at the polls next November?

BROOKS: Well, that's not the way it's supposed to be.

It's supposed to be a legal thing to see if he did high crimes and misdemeanors.

I don't — I agree, I think Donald Trump is in serious trouble, more than — more than most of my Democratic friends do. That having said, in swing states, The Times had a poll that gave everybody anxiety on the Democratic side about two weeks ago showing Trump winning all these swing states.

And we have, surprisingly, shockingly little data on how he's doing in swing states or how impeachment is doing in swing states. The one thing we do have is a poll that Marquette did in Wisconsin, which was 40 percent support, 55 percent oppose.

And so if that's the way the swing states are reacting, then that's not a good thing, because this is not going to be about looking at how the whole country views this. This is about how those swing voters are viewing it.

And whether the Democrats want to go and do Watergate style or Watergate length set of hearings, it seems to me that's highly problematic.

I think there's a case, as we discussed last week for bringing in Mike Pompeo, and trying to ask him some questions. But the Democrats so far seem loath to do this because they want to rush this thing. And so that — that's just a big philosophical difference. Do they go big and try to engineer that, or do they say, let's just get this over with?...

WOODRUFF: But, David, I mean, there has been a little bit of shifting in the presidential landscape on the Democratic side this week, Elizabeth Warren slipping a little bit in the polls. And we have seen some critical stories about Kamala Harris' campaign.

Where are we? Michael Bloomberg is in there spending a lot of money to get his name and message out.


It could — well, what we're seeing is, we in the pundit class often put people in buckets, which are based on ideology. And voters are not quite in the buckets that we think they're in.

And so we had the Warren-Sanders bucket, and then we had the moderate bucket. And — but people are moving straight from Warren to Buttigieg. There's a lot of people — votes between one of those two. And they're somewhat similar. They're analytical, a little academically, and so they said, let's get a technocrat. Let's get an expert with plans.

And I think a lot of people, at least the ones I talk to, like Elizabeth Warren. They just think she's poisoned herself with Medicare for all. And they just say, we can't go for that. So let's go for Buttigieg.

And Buttigieg is doing well, just a slow, gradual rise.

The Kamala Harris thing, I think, is just remarkable. My newspaper had a story on the deconstruction of that campaign, where they spoke to 50 current and former members of that campaign who were willing to go off the record criticizing the campaign and the candidate. That's just amazing.

And they had the resignation letter from a senior official. And it was as poorly structured a campaign as I have heard of. Like, they had — part of the headquarters was in Baltimore and part of the headquarters with her sister in California.

Like, who structures anything like that? So, that's just a remarkable incident. And it's hard to see how she turns around, if her machinery is so bad...

WOODRUFF: So, we are in Thanksgiving week. And I can't let you get away without asking both of you, what do we have to be thankful for?

BROOKS: I'm thankful that this is — we didn't begin our career in the Trump era.

We got to see what real politics is normally like.

Actually, I have been thinking about the quality of Thanksgiving that we give this year. We have been having a very healthy exercise in the country of going through our history on racial injustice, on treatment of the Native Americans. And so we have laid open the sins which have to be laid open.

But I think it's still possible to love your country equally, even after being aware and paying a lot of attention to these sins.

And so giving thanks to be born and — or grown up or living in what, to me, is still the most lovable, amazing country on the face of the Earth is something you can still say, even after looking at the history of slavery, the history of genocide and all the other stuff.

It's possible to have a mature love for your country.

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