PBS NEWSHOUR: Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks join Judy Woodruff to discuss the latest news, including public opinion of the nationwide protests over police treatment of black Americans, President Trump’s response and use of force to dispel protesters and the reaction of prominent military leaders to his handling of the situation.
DAVID BROOKS: I sort of think of it as a hurricane that's happening in an earthquake. The earthquake started in 2014 with Ferguson, with a lot of terrorist killings, then with the election of Donald Trump. And we saw ravines open up in our society. We saw divides in politics. We saw racial divides, economic divides, obviously.
And into this comes first a pandemic, just pouring water and exposing all the divides, and then this killing, this murder, which exposes them more. And then you get this generational turnover. You have had a generation of people under 35 who've seen the financial crisis, who've seen a bit of the war in Iraq maybe, but who've seen nothing on global warming.
And so this is a generation that is fed up. And, frankly, a lot of people in the African-American community are fed up. The word I keep hearing is exhausted.
And so I do think, when you calculate the depth of the ravines that are being exposed, with a generational change, with a sense of America finally turning to race as maybe the central storyline in our history or our story right now, these are just big, epic shifts.
And I do think it's like one of those big shifts that happen periodically in American history, '68 or 1890 or 1830. And I think we're in the middle of something — I agree with Mark. I think it's not just a moment. It's a climactic shift...
Yes, I look at the polls.
And we never used to get polls where it was 50 — where it was above 55 percent for anything. We were completely an evenly divided country. And now we had a poll, PBS/Marist poll, 67 percent disapproving of the way Donald Trump is reacting to this moment, 67 percent reaction to the lockdown.
We had 67, 77 percent. Again and over the course of the last three months, we have had polls in the 60s and 70s. It looks to me like we're a less divided country than they were, Joe Biden opening up now an eight-point lead on the average polls.
So, I mean, the dumb thing to say is, we're moving left. And the pandemic and this event have just underlined the inequalities in America. And whether you like it or not, I just think that's the reality, if you look at the evidence...
I do. I mentioned the polling.
But, listen, he's been a bully for a long time, but he was a bully over Twitter, and maybe he was a bully to the press. But now he's using U.S. troops to be a bully.
I think what set General Mattis off was just watching the military, which is a fine, unprofessional and unpoliticized — I mean, professional, but unpoliticized organization, suddenly turned into a prop in a campaign video. And I think that turned his stomach, as it should turn all our stomachs.
But I think what mystifies me — and it goes back to what you were talking about with Mayor Garcetti — is, you have a president who's taken this authoritarian line of domination, be dominant, unleash vicious dogs and dangerous weapons.
And that's not only just talk anymore. And it swings through the Republican Party and Senator Tom Cotton's tweets about no quarter given. We're going to dominate our fellow citizens, as if they are enemy.
And then I think it bleeds down to the police and the videos we have already seen tonight. It's a theme that is coming from the top, from the White House, a theme of brutalism, of mental brutalism. And it affects people.
And what we have seen coming out of the White House has been a more dangerous contagion than even with all the outrages of the past.