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David Brooks: “Hubris” For Trump To Think He Could Talk To Bob Woodward “And Not Get Hurt By It”

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PBS NEWSHOUR: Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week in politics, including the congressional stalemate over pandemic relief legislation, revelations from Bob Woodward’s interviews with President Trump and the political impact they may have and whether Joe Biden’s campaign message is resonating with voters. Brooks said Trump “walked right into” Woodward’s trap by allowing himself to be interviewed by the author. Brooks, however, said this mistake may not damage Trump too much as there are a lot of “low-information voters” that have “given up on politics” and are not paying attention. “The hubris to think, you could be the president and talk to Bob Woodward and not get hurt by it. Donald Trump walked right into this,” Brooks said. “There’s just a level of cynicism that’s been revealed, more than just incompetence.” “This is most revealing, I guess – is the idea that, if you had told the American people the truth, they would have panicked,” he said. “It betrays a disregard and a condescension toward the American people which is totally ridiculous.” “The thing I would like to emphasize is that a lot of voters have given up on politics,” Brooks said. “They’re what we call low-information voters. And the emphasis there is on low. They have written off politics. They’re not paying attention to any of this. They will probably never hear of the Bob Woodward revelations. And so we have a race that is locked in stasis.”

DAVID BROOKS, NEW YORK TIMES: I think, on the larger issue, the Republicans probably have this wrong. They’re treating this as a normal fiscal circumstance, where it’s important to save money and be fiscally responsible. And they point out that hundreds of billions of dollars of the last CARES package have not been spent yet. But the fact is, this is not normal circumstances. Most economists, even Republican economists, say, this is an extraordinary circumstances. At least 63 million Americans are in serious trouble. There’s hunger in this country. This is a time to be spending money out the door just to provide a cushion under people in places – in circumstances they can’t control. So, I give the intellectual fault to the Republicans. I give the political fault to the Democrats. From the beginning, they have played this more politically, compromised less, tried to get the issue more than solve the problem. And even in the final days, the Republicans proposed something like $500 billion in the Senate. The Democrats passed something for about $3 trillion in the House. If I were a Democrat, I would say, hey, people are starving out there. They’re only going to give us $500 billion, we will pass that. We will take it to conference. We will try to get it up. But $500 billion is not what we want, but it’s a lot of money, and it could help some people, and then we will have an election. We will try to do more later. So I think, even at the end of the day, they should have taken the money, because Americans are suffering. And so they took the issue, instead of at least a piece of the solution… So, a lot of the Republicans didn’t want to do anything. They thought they’d spent $3 trillion, and that was enough. And so, when they came up, they were at that point where they were at $1 trillion of additional spending. I thought Democrats should have seized on that moment. And I think they – in the – in the first round, when they – this was months ago – they – the Democrats could have come down and really worked out – maybe worked out something. But, in the second round, then, after that round fell apart, then the Republicans were like, OK, we’re done here. And what they proposed was pro forma. On the deficits, in this moment, I completely agree with Mark. This is not a moment to be thinking about deficits. And, long term, I still think they’re important. When you pass 100 percent of GDP – of debt to GDP, you’re dancing with historically dangerous territory. That’s a problem for another day. This is not – it’s not the problem for today… JUDY WOODRUFF, PBS NEWSHOUR: David, your main take, and how much do you think it will affect the public’s view of the president? BROOKS: Well, ascending levels of disgust. First, the hubris to think, you could be the president and talk to Bob Woodward and not get hurt by it. Donald Trump walked right into this. Two, the extreme cynicism of not only bumbling around in February and March, because you didn’t know how serious the pandemic was, but the confirmation that you did know, and you still thought you could talk it down, as if you can talk down a force of nature, and that this – you wouldn’t end up getting caught. So, there’s just a level of cynicism that’s been revealed, more than just incompetence. And then, finally – and, to me, this is most revealing, I guess – is the idea that, if you had told the American people the truth, they would have panicked. It betrays a disregard and a condescension toward the American people which is totally ridiculous. And so I do think there’s new stuff here, as there was last week in the Jeffrey Goldberg piece about what he said about the war dead. There’s just a continued display of mischaracter, of poor character, immoral character. We have seen it before, but it seems to escalate from time to time. As for whether it will hurt, I guess I’m with Mark. Three months ago, Joe Biden had a 7.5 percent lead in the poll, in the average of polls. A lot has happened in the last three months. Joe Biden has a 7.5 percent lead. And the thing I would like to emphasize is that a lot of voters have given up on politics. They’re what we call low-information voters. And the emphasis there is on low. They have written off politics. They’re not paying attention to any of this. They will probably never hear of the Bob Woodward revelations. And so we have a race that is locked in stasis. But the bad thing for Donald Trump is, he’s only got a few weeks left, and this was yet another week of crisis and scandal that he was not catching up. So, you don’t have too many weeks left. And this was a week that was – as far as his campaign is concerned, is wasted.

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