Tag Archives: David Brooks

Year ‘without form’ comes to end

New York Times columnist David Brooks has this way of offering unique perspectives on issues and moments that make me think: Dang, I wish I had thought of that!

PBS NewsHour host Judy Woodruff asked Brooks this past Friday to sum up the year that’s about to pass into history. He called 2021 a “year without form.” I guess that was his way of saying he has difficulty describing it in a concise manner.

It was a year of continued suffering around the world from the pandemic that has taken on a new, unpredictable and potentially dangerous new life.

A new president took office in January and in the spring, Joe Biden promised we would be celebrating our “independence” from the pandemic by the Fourth of July. It didn’t happen. We are farther today than we were then from that independence.

Then again, maybe we are closer than we think. Vaccines are coming out. More Americans are partaking of them. Just maybe we can turn the corner for good soon on the virus that has killed more than 800,000 Americans.

Six days into 2021 we witnessed an insurrection. The House has convened a select panel to get at the root cause of it and find solutions to prevent a recurrence. That work remains to be finished. It has been ongoing for most of the year.

Meanwhile, the immediate past president continues spewing The Big Lie. His followers continue to swallow the swill that pours out of his pie hole.

All this went on during the year.

I am going to hope that 2022 takes on a form, let alone a positive form, as we continue down along journey together.


Well done, Mark Shields

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I want to hail the end of an era in journalism.

It occurred this evening when Mark Shields said “goodbye” to viewers of PBS’s NewsHour, where Shields served for 33 years as half of a Friday evening give-and-take on the political news of the week.

His friend, New York Times columnist David Brooks, served alongside Shields for 19 of those years. The men expressed their mutual admiration and respect for the work they did together on public TV’s premier news broadcast.

I want to share just a brief thought about Shields … and about Brooks.

They reminded me weekly that politics can be a civil and respectful exercise. Shields comes from the liberal/progressive end of the political spectrum; Brooks hails from the center/right end. They would joust on occasion, expressing differences in opinion, context and perspective on issues. However, they did so with grace, class, decorum and mutual respect.

Shields announced earlier this week he would be stepping away from his role as one-half of an indispensable team of thinkers.

I want to share the broadcast he did tonight with Brooks and with NewsHour moderator Judy Woodruff. Shields and Brooks celebrate a lifetime in American politics РYouTube

And while I’m at it, I want to share a column that Brooks penned for the New York Times.¬†Opinion | Mark Shields and the Best of American Liberalism – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

Public television is a national resource. It has been depleted just a bit today by the departure of Mark Shields from the PBS NewsHour.

Well done, Mark Shields. Thank you for the wisdom you shared.

This is what happens when we ‘elect a sociopath as president’

The first few minutes of this video speaks volumes to me — and it should to you — about how badly Donald Trump has blown apart the government response to the pandemic that has erupted around the world.

David Brooks, the conservative New York Times columnist, said it eloquently on the “PBS NewsHour.” This is what we get when we “elect a sociopath as president” of the United States.

Brooks expresses “rage” at what he saw this week from the president and the administration he was elected to lead.

Then there’s Mark Shields, the syndicated columnist and the progressive half of this erudite tandem, who talks about Trump’s desire to leave a cruise ship adrift off the California coast rather than let it dock in Oakland. Why? Because it would it increase “my numbers” relating to those infected by the coronavirus. Trump, said Shields, is concerned only about how it affects him, and he said that Trump not only “lacks empathy,” he has an “empathy void.”

Take a look at this video. It’s only about 11 minutes long, but it lays bare the fundamental failure of the current president of the United States and his inability to muster anything resembling presidential leadership in a time of national crisis.

Whether to impeach and risk a stunning setback

David Brooks and Mark Shields are two of the more thoughtful, insightful and provocative commentators anywhere.

Brooks is a conservative columnist for the New York Times; Shields is a liberal syndicated columnist. Both men are regulars on PBS NewsHour, appearing on Fridays to offer their analysis of the week’s events.

I am posting this segment to illustrate how Brooks (more or less) summarizes my own view of the notion of impeaching Donald J. Trump.

Brooks appears to believe that Trump deserves to be impeached. Trump has asked a foreign government for help with his re-election effort. He has violated the constitutional oath he took when he became president of the United States.

Brooks, though, is leery of the result. He takes care to note that impeachment is a “political” exercise. Its intent is to remove a president from office. He doubts that even if the House of Representatives impeaches the president, the Senate won’t follow suit. He said that it’s a tall order to get 20 Republican senators to flip to the Democrats’ side and vote to convict Trump of a “high crime and misdemeanor” in a Senate trial.

Have a listen. Indeed, listen carefully to what these men have to say.

We need some reasonable discourse. Not more hysteria.

The nation appears to be heading down a dark corridor full of traps and tricks.

Biden should channel G.W. Bush?

Mark Shields is well-known to watchers of PBS’s “NewsHour” as a regular commentator and pundit who, along with his pal David Brooks, regularly assesses the week’s political goings-on.

Shields had some good advice for Vice President Joe Biden: Don’t talk too much when trying to explain yourself over questions regarding how you “invade others’ space” by getting too touch-feely.

Biden entered the 2020 presidential race amid questions and complaints from those who said he was a bit too, um, ebullient in his treatment of them.

Even now, the former VP tends to over-talk himself while explaining his actions. Shields had a reasonable option for Biden to consider: Model your response after former President George W. Bush’s manner in dealing with some of his own past behavior.

Shields noted (and it’s in the video attached to this blog post) that when Bush ran for president in 2000, he was dogged by questions from the media about his drunk driving arrest, how he drank too much alcohol and about how he found religion and sobriety at the age of 40.

Bush developed a pat answer, Shields said, which was: “When I was young and foolish, I was young and foolish.”¬†

Shields said that the future president recited that mantra with such regularity and frequency that reporters got tired of asking him about it. The issue effectively faded away during the course of the 2000 campaign.

Good advice to follow? Oh, sure . . . but only if the media still lack the staying power to keep harping on an issue that can be explained in a single sentence or two.

No plans to ID the latest shooting suspect

David Brooks is one of my favorite conservative columnists.

He writes for the New York Times and is a regular weekly contributor to PBS’s “NewsHour” and can be heard on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” evening news broadcast.

He said something today on NPR I want to endorse in a full-throated fashion. Brooks said in a discussion with E.J. Dionne, the Washington Post columnist, that he dislikes it when the media identify individuals suspected of mass shootings.

I agree. Wholeheartedly.

Thus, I won’t identify the young man arrested today after the Santa Fe High School massacre near Galveston. I didn’t ID the Sutherland Springs, Texas, shooter, or the Parkland, Fla., gunman, or the Las Vegas sniper, or the Orland, Fla., terrorist. And on and on …

Brooks’s rationale for asking that the media not ID these individuals is that he believes giving these individuals publicity emboldens future madmen from committing copy cat crimes.

Bingo, Mr. Brooks!

I’m in your corner.

Yes, I have posted the names of some of history’s more notorious assassins: Lee Harvey Oswald, Sirhan Sirhan, James Earl Ray. Of those three, only Sirhan is still living. I see these individuals in a bit of a different light than the mass murderers who commit the heinous crimes that have become all too common place in contemporary society.

I accept fully David Brooks’s reason for seeking to refuse to give these alleged losers any more publicity than they deserve.

Which is none. Zero. Zip.

PBS discussion sheds great light on campaign ’16


I feel compelled to begin this blog post with a disclaimer.

I am a freelance blogger for Panhandle PBS, the publicly funded television station based at Amarillo College here in the Texas Panhandle.

There. That said, I now want to say that the discussion that was broadcast Friday evening was one of the most intelligent I’ve heard yet about the state of the race for the presidency.

This discussion featuring liberal syndicated columnist Mark Shields and conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks covered three critical points:

The Republican primary campaign, the Democratic primary campaign and, in a related matter,¬†President Obama’s¬†nomination of Garland Merrick to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Shields and Brooks occasionally spar when they appear each Friday on the PBS NewsHour. They disagree on substantive matters from time to time. They were in agreement on several critical issues, though, this week.

Hillary Clinton will not be denied the Democratic nomination; Donald Trump is the likely Republican nominee; Judge Garland deserves to have his hearing before the U.S. Senate.

The most interesting aspect of what was said, though, came in the discussion of Trump and Garland.

Shields noted that Trump has won everywhere. He smoked what is left of a once-huge GOP field¬†in Florida, Shields said, where opponents spent millions of dollars in negative TV ads. They didn’t make a dent in Trump’s juggernaut. Whatever it is that Trump has mastered, he has turned it into an unbeatable — so far! — formula for political success.

As for Garland, Shields also believes that the Republican leadership in the Senate is going to pay a price for refusing to consider the judge’s appointment to the Supreme Court. Brooks agreed that Garland deserves a hearing — and deserves to take his seat on the court — he doubts there will be hell to pay in the campaign for Republicans.

Both men also believe that Garland is the best candidate for the court the Republicans are likely to get — particularly if Trump is the GOP nominee for president. Trump will lose the election to Hillary Clinton, who then will be free to appoint someone of her liking — and could present that nominee to a Senate led by Democrats.

And so it will keep going throughout this crazy election cycle.

You’ve got to relish — and share — intelligent discussion whenever you hear it.

That’s what I’m doing here.

* * *

If you’re of a mind, please accept my invitation to look at my blog at PanhandlePBS.org; it’s called “A Public View” and it focuses on public affairs programming aired on Panhandle PBS.





Predicting the Iowa caucus result is fraught with risk

Close view of a collection of VOTE badges. 3D render with HDRI lighting and raytraced textures.

David Brooks is a brave man.

Or perhaps he’s nuts.

The New York Times columnist said two things on Friday. One is that he has been “consistently wrong” about this year’s presidential campaign. The other is that Donald J. Trump is going to “underperform” at the Iowa caucuses which occur Monday.

I choose not to go there. The campaign to this date has been fraught with peril for those of us who believed — it’s silly, I know — that Trump would have imploded long ago. He hasn’t. Trump has ridden on the backs of voters who are sick of the “status quo,” and want “change, by God.”

Trump is promising it, without a clue as to whether he — as president — even has the power to bring the kind of change he’s promising.

My favorite Trump promise so far is that when he’s president, “department store employees are going to wish customers Merry Christmas.” Yeah, go figure that one out.

Brooks also believes Sen. Bernie Sanders is going to have a “turnout problem” in Iowa, meaning that the strong young-voter support he’s getting in those crowded auditoriums won’t manifest itself in the caucus rooms. Why? Young people don’t vote with the same fervor as their elders.

How, though, in the world does one predict an outcome in either party?

I give Brooks lots of credit for sticking his neck out once again.

I’m keeping my powder dry until after the last caucus polling station reports in.



What would ‘W’ do?

UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 16: U.S. President George W. Bush waves upon arrival at RAF Aldgerove in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on Monday, June 16, 2008. Gordon Brown, U.K. prime minister said Britain is pushing the European Union to impose new sanctions against Iran, including freezing the assets of its biggest bank, to pressure the nation to give up its nuclear program at a press conference with Bush in London today. (Photo by Paul McErlane/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Mark Shields comprises one-half of a talk show tandem that appears Friday nights on public television.

He and the other half, David Brooks, were spot on in their analysis of the political talk arising from the Paris terrorist attacks one week ago.

Shields, a noted liberal columnist, noted how President Bush responded immediately after al-Qaeda monsters hijacked those four jetliners and inflicted the terrible carnage on U.S. soil on 9/11.

“He went to a mosque,” Shields noted, and said “we are not at war with Islam.”

Shields and Brooks — the more conservative member of the “PBS NewsHour” duo — then both¬†described the white-hot rhetoric we’re hearing today from politicians of both parties as being un-American and unpatriotic.

President Barack Obama has sought to make the same case that his immediate predecessor made. Yet the Republicans who 14 years ago saluted President Bush’s stance contend that the current incumbent, a Democrat, is “soft,” that he isn’t serious about this war against radical Islamic terrorists.

George W. Bush was the first leading politician to declare that the current war against terror must not be seen as a war against a religion. Barack H. Obama is the latest one to say the same thing.

Yet we hear other leading politicians talking about shadowing people of a certain religious faith. One of them, Republican candidate Donald Trump, hasn’t yet told us whether he¬†would intend¬†to track U.S. citizens who also happen to be Muslim, which if that is the case is categorically in defiance of the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of religious liberty.

This is what this current discussion has revealed.

George W. Bush had it exactly right. His political descendants have it exactly wrong.


Republican calls out fellow Republicans


David Brooks isn’t a squishy liberal.

He’s no fan of progressive political policies. He believes in small government. He is, in my mind, the personification of what could be called a “traditional conservative” thinker.

He writes a column for the New York Times and is a regular panelist¬†on National Public Radio and on the PBS NewsHour — which in the minds of many of today’s new found conservatives would categorize him as a RINO … a Republican In Name Only.

Well, his recent NYT column lays it out there. Conservatives have gone bonkers, Brooks writes.

Here’s a bit of what Brooks writes: “By traditional definitions, conservatism stands for intellectual humility, a belief in steady, incremental change, a preference for reform rather than revolution, a respect for hierarchy, precedence, balance and order, and a tone of voice that is prudent, measured and responsible. Conservatives of this disposition can be dull, but they know how to nurture and run institutions. They also see the nation as one organic whole. Citizens may fall into different classes and political factions, but they are still joined by chains of affection that command ultimate loyalty and love.

“All of this has been overturned in dangerous parts of the Republican Party. Over the past 30 years, or at least since Rush Limbaugh came on the scene, the Republican rhetorical tone has grown ever more bombastic, hyperbolic and imbalanced. Public figures are prisoners of their own prose styles, and Republicans from Newt Gingrich through Ben Carson have become addicted to a crisis mentality. Civilization was always on the brink of collapse. Every setback, like the passage of Obamacare, became the ruination of the republic. Comparisons to Nazi Germany became a staple.”

To be fair, much of what ails the GOP can be laid at the feet of Democrats, who fail to heed the warnings of their own bombast. Each party’s leader feel the need to play to their respective “base.” They seemingly neglect the great unwashed middle, comprising people who aren’t far left or far right, but instead see value in both ideologies.

I believe it was Colin Powell, another fine Republican, who once lamented that the extremes of both parties were talking past those in the middle who want their voices heard, too.

For now, though, the Republicans are controlling both legislative chambers of Congress. They want to take back the White House. They are seeking the clean sweep of the two government branches by bellowing¬†at the top of their lungs that the nation is going to straight to hell and it’s because of the Democrat in the White House, Barack H. Obama.

It is doing no such thing.

Brooks laments the Republican “incompetence.” He writes: “These insurgents are incompetent at governing and unwilling to be governed. But they are not a spontaneous growth. It took a thousand small betrayals of conservatism to get to the dysfunction we see all around.”