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Brooks and Marcus on the Charlottesville rally anniversary, EPA and climate change

Brooks and Marcus on the Charlottesville rally anniversary, EPA and climate change
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    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Now we turn to the analysis of Brooks and Marcus.
    That's New York Times columnist David Brooks and Washington Post deputy editorial page
    editor Ruth Marcus.
    Mark Shields is away.
    Welcome to you both.
    So, we -- as we were just hearing, this weekend is the one-year anniversary of the spasm of
    racism that we saw in Charlottesville.
    David, I'm curious.
    The president, we saw what his reaction was a year ago.
    And since then, he's continued a steady stream of racially charged rhetoric, criticizing
    immigrants, linking them with crime and MS-13, criticizing NFL players.
    In this past year, is it your sense that anything has changed in that regard?
    DAVID BROOKS: No, not with Donald Trump.
    White identity politics has been his calling card for a long, long time, maybe stretching
    back generations of the Trump family.
    The Institute for Family Studies did this study asking how many people, how many Americans
    actually sympathize with what the alt-right stood for, what the people in Charlottesville
    stood for.
    And they identified three core beliefs.
    The first was, do you have a strong sense of white identity, do you have a belief in
    the importance of white solidarity, that all white people should stick together, and you
    have a sense of white victimization, that whites are often the victim of discrimination?
    And 6 percent of Americans share those three beliefs.
    And so that's pretty much a core set of people who have high -- one would say, a high degree
    of white identity, verging into racism.
    And so that's a group of people who can be whipped up.
    And then there's a large group that share one of those things.
    But, to me, Donald Trump's main failure is constantly whipping up that sense of white
    Not many even Republicans 20 years ago thought that being white was a strong part of their
    But now it's like 55 percent.
    And so he has stirred that up.
    And then the second problem is, you just can't have a party that's basically all white, because
    when you overlay our racial problems with our political problems, you get instant poison.
    And so the failure to do anything about that is by itself a gigantic problem.
    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Ruth, do you see any good news in that, in that just 6 percent -- I
    know it is -- does seem like an enormous number of people identifying with white supremacy
    -- but maybe there's a silver lining there?
    RUTH MARCUS: Well, I do see some good news in the response of the American people in
    the last year.
    The first good news was the response to Charlottesville and to the president's response to Charlottesville,
    where almost -- most people, in fact, many people in his administration, some publicly,
    recoiled at the president's assertion that there were fine people on both sides.
    I think we have seen in recent months a kind of slow-motion version of Charlottesville,
    as people have recoiled from the family separation policy and its racial overtones.
    We are better as a people, even despite that 6 percent, than our president.
    The bad news is that, as David said, the president has not been chastened -- and, as you mentioned
    -- the president has not been chastened in the last year.
    He has just continued to do what he has done all along.
    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: You mean he hasn't suffered political repercussions?
    RUTH MARCUS: He hasn't suffered political repercussions.
    And he has gone on his merry, very ugly way.
    And it's not the 6 percent that I worry about.
    It's the people who do not think of themselves as racists, people who think of themselves
    as decent people, wouldn't subscribe to those extreme views.
    But there's a way in which the president's rhetoric about S-hole countries, about animals,
    and his actions, like family separation, just legitimize and kind of encourage a belief
    in some people as lesser than others, and allowing comments like Laura Ingraham's comments
    just the other day about immigrants to be viewed as somehow more acceptable than they
    were before Donald Trump.
    And one last thing.
    The numbers bear it out.
    There was a recent poll; 57 percent of people thought race relations have got -- think race
    relations have gotten worse under Donald Trump.
    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Gotten worse.
    RUTH MARCUS: Fifty-seven percent.
    Need to point out, 37 percent thought they got worse under Barack Obama as well, but...
    DAVID BROOKS: Right.
    Well, I certainly think they have gotten worse.
    Even measuring by segregation levels in the schools, we're much more segregated at schools,
    residentially, and then the political thing that's tearing -- on the Laura Ingraham comment...
    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: This was Laura, the FOX News host who basically went on a diatribe
    the other day, saying that it is undeniable that America is changing, and it's largely
    due to demographics, and that these open borders, and the Democrats seem to celebrate it, and
    it's a catastrophe for the country.
    DAVID BROOKS: And nobody asked us.
    And she said it's legal immigration and illegal immigration.
    So it was a pure play of, we used to be white, and now we're less so.
    That -- basically, that...
    RUTH MARCUS: It's not too subtle.
    And so I suppose I'm perfectly willing to have a debate about immigration, but when
    it's constantly accompanied by racial superiority and race -- and us/them thinking, and racial
    cries, you can't even have that debate.
    And that is why Trump is so poisonous, because he really prevents us from actually having
    a debate on immigration, because if you're not -- you're basically being asked to side
    with racist tendencies.
    Let's talk a little bit about the primaries that happened this week.
    Lots of little primaries.
    This is our last big look at the electorate's interests until the midterms.
    Some of those races are still undecided, the Ohio 12 everyone's been paying attention to.
    Ruth, did you -- what did you glean out of -- out of this week?
    RUTH MARCUS: Well, the president says he's just rolled up the victories and a red wave
    is coming.
    So I just think Democrats can fold up their tents and go home.
    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: I sense some dubiousness in your voice.
    RUTH MARCUS: Slightly dubious.
    Look, as in horseshoes, almost doesn't count in winning elections.
    And so assume that -- for the moment that the Republican will win in Ohio 12.
    The problem with a Republican almost losing there, if he does, is that is a very, very
    dangerous sign in that seat, a seat that has been Republican for the last 36 years, that
    is more Republican than -- than many other seats, about 60-something seats that are in
    play in November.
    That is a very scary sign.
    And you have to be Donald Trump and only see your own victories to be ignoring it.
    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: You think the GOP is in trouble?
    DAVID BROOKS: Yes, that -- for the same reasons.
    Last time this seat was open, the Republicans won by 10 points.
    And they redistricted to make it more Republican.
    And, as Ruth said, when you have got 59 more vulnerable seats than this one, you're in
    And more important was the way this one became close.
    Republicans are doing pretty well in rural areas.
    They are still doing that.
    And the Trump base is pretty solid.
    They're always doing poorly in the cities.
    But it's the suburban counties around Columbus.
    It's the suburban counties that tended to have been Republican, that they are -- whether
    it's Loudoun County, Virginia, or in around Denver and Fort Collins or those areas, those
    used to be Republican areas.
    But they are places that are growing, that benefit from globalization, and that are pretty
    ethnically diverse.
    They are enterprising people who work in suburban office parks.
    And Donald Trump speaks to those people not at all.
    And so, to me, it's not just Trump.
    It's almost the Republican Party is losing what was the -- sort of the enterprising side
    of that party.
    And when you do that, you become a minority party.
    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: What happened to the so-called Sanders/Ocasio-Cortez slice of the Democratic
    Because they went out and tried to support a bunch of candidates.
    They didn't do quite as well either.
    RUTH MARCUS: Well, I think reports of a civil war in the Democratic Party and reports of
    a huge leftward lurch that will leave the Democrats in peril in November or beyond are,
    at least as of the results of Tuesday night, greatly exaggerated.
    A candidate who was the challenger, the sort of leftward challenger in the Michigan gubernatorial
    race, who looked like he was really a serious threat to the more establishment candidate,
    a woman, by the way, something we need to talk about, lost significantly.
    Some other more establishment candidates held on.
    So it's not that the debate in the Democratic Party has been resolved, and we're back to
    Bill Clinton, third way centrism.
    Far from it.
    But this was -- for those who worry not about purity, but about winning, and winning in
    the kinds of districts that David talked about, where you're going to have to attract, among
    others, college-educated white women, who may be kind of swingish Republican voters,
    this was good -- Tuesday night was good news for kind of moderate Democrats and good news
    for Democrats overall, because I think you have -- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez can win in
    her district.
    But she can't win in the districts that Democrats needs to win to take over the House.
    I want to shift gears for a second.
    Just the other day, the EPA was swatted down by a federal district court that argued that
    it had ignored science about a dangerous pesticide and said, reverse course.
    And the EPA under the Trump administration has, if nothing else, ignored the science
    about climate change equally, oftentimes their own science.
    And here we have an enormous slice of the country in a terrible drought.
    The West is on fire.
    There's 100 fires, I think it is, in 16 or 13 states.
    And yet the conversation about climate change and our national policy is -- it just doesn't
    seem to exist.
    DAVID BROOKS: Well, if you're an environmentalist, there's good news and bad news.
    The good news -- the bad news is, the Trump administration is trying to roll back a lot
    of regulations and change some of the laws.
    The bad news is, they're not very good at it.
    And so, just this week, one of the -- their regulations got overturned by the judge.
    I think that's the seventh or eighth major regulation that's been overturned, just because
    they're not doing it very well.
    If you expect them to be doing something about climate change, they're clearly not going
    to do it because they don't take the problem seriously.
    I would say, if we continued Obama's policies, I'm not sure it would make any difference
    to the forest fires and to the heat wave and things like that.
    This is a problem with -- I personally think we're going to have to find some technological
    solution, because I just do not see a political solution coming out of this.
    But Trump is certainly not helping.
    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Ruth, I don't mean to bring this back to the politics all the time, but
    is it simply a function of politics, that there simply isn't a constituency that cares
    enough about this to make it a front-burner issue?
    RUTH MARCUS: Pardon the pun?
    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Pardon the pun.
    RUTH MARCUS: I think it's that the Trump administration came in on a very clear deregulatory agenda.
    I think they have been a -- the courts have interfered in a lot.
    And courts can be pesky things, as the Trump administration has learned.
    But for all of his foibles, Scott Pruitt, ethical missteps -- and glad he's gone -- but
    Scott Pruitt was an extraordinarily effective EPA administrator in terms of trying to undo
    these regulations.
    Climate change didn't happen overnight.
    It cannot be solved in a single president's term.
    But one of the most frustrating things is -- and you look at this pesticide ruling,
    I think it's taken 10 years to get this pesticide ban.
    RUTH MARCUS: Think about the time it's going to take to implement the changes that we need
    to implement in order to address global warming, even if the tech -- technology will help.
    But we need to implement some regulatory changes.
    The Trump administration's efforts to slow that down just steals time that the planet
    needs at precisely the time that it's become completely clear to all of us, breathing this
    air, feeling this heat, watching these fires burn, that we don't have that -- the luxury
    of that time.
    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Lastly, and just one quick turn, David, the administration enacted some
    new, potentially tougher sanctions on Russia.
    And they last week made a very big show of cracking down on Russian meddling in the upcoming
    Does it matter that the president, as many of his critics point out, refuses to step
    up and publicly chastise Vladimir Putin?
    Does it matter that there's a difference between the administration, seemingly, and the president?
    DAVID BROOKS: Our policy is micro tough and macro soft.
    And so that what the president says ultimately matters because, on the small issues, some
    of these sanctions are pretty moderate, the latest round, pretty moderate.
    But the crucial question is, does Vladimir Putin feel intimidated from interfering in
    our elections?
    There's no possible way he feels intimidated.
    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And that's because you think the president's not saying publicly?
    DAVID BROOKS: Well, I think that's because the president seems to be on his side in a
    lot of things.
    And, B, whatever happens within the internal workings of a White House can be -- can go
    to some degree of size, but without president -- presidential action, they're not going
    to go and become a massive and important policy.
    So there will be little pricks that Putin may feel, but in terms of the big issue, is
    he's scared of us, can't be.
    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Do you have any -- what do you make of that?
    RUTH MARCUS: Sure.
    I think, in the...
    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Just a few seconds left.
    I'm sorry.
    RUTH MARCUS: It matters both what the president says and what the administration does.
    What the administration has done vis-a-vis Putin is actually -- there's some impressive,
    laudable parts of that.
    But presidential rhetoric matters, not just for the impact on Putin, but for the impact
    on other authoritarian leaders, who watch what they can get away with.
    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Ruth Marcus, David Brooks, thank you both very much.
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