On PBS, Brooks Pines for Trump 'Apocalypse' to Inspire Bipartisanship

On Friday's regular "Shields and Brooks" segment on PBS Newshour, New York Times columnist David Brooks -- the supposedly more right-leaning half of the pairing -- oddly seemed to wish for some sort of "apocalypse" to beset the Donald Trump administration as he theorized and predicted that some "scandal" or "grievous blow" to the White House might inspire more bipartisanship in the aftermath. 

After host Judy Woodruff was surprised by his prediction of an "apocalypse," he only walked back his bizarre choice of words slightly: "Well, I -- that word came out -- I should have stuck with 'acidity.' That would have been a better word. I do think Washington -- it doesn't feel like this administration can maintain the current state. Something is going to happen, and then we're going to be in a different world with the possibility of bipartisanship."

Host Woodruff introduced the issue of partisanship as she brought up the confirmation Neil Gorsuch in the Senate over a Democratic attempt at a filibuster. She fretted:

We already have a very polarized country, House of Representatives. The feeling was the Senate maybe wasn't quite so polarized. What does this mean going forward, that they now are going to make it so much easier for, it appears, for nominees from the far left or the far right to be confirmed?

After Brooks lamented that the Senate is becoming more of a partisan body like the House, he then made his strange prediction that sounded like he was hoping for misfortune to hit the Trump White House:

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The only thing I would say to mitigate -- which I think is a decline and a degradation and a sadness -- is that I have a feeling that something is about to happen with the Trump administration. Either it will shift or something bad will happen -- a scandal or something -- and that we're in sort of a pre-apocalypse phase -- or maybe that's putting it too strongly. 

But history is about to change because I don't think this status quo can maintain. And so if we have something like an administration that really suffers some grievous blow, then Washington culture will have an opportunity to change for the better. But as of now, it's a long, slow, slide.

Woodruff responded: "Do I hear you forecasting an apocalypse of some kind?"

Brooks then added:

Well, I -- that word came out -- I should have stuck with "acidity." That would have been a better word. I do think Washington -- it doesn't feel like this administration can maintain the current state. Something is going to happen, and then we're going to be in a different world with the possibility of bipartisanship. And some Senators -- like Senator Collins and Coons and others -- are still hungering for that.

Notably, it was just over a year ago that Brooks recommended that Republicans should vote to confirm Barack Obama's nominee, Merrick Garland -- apparently before even waiting to see if Trump or Hillary Clinton won the election -- because, "if I'm a Republican" in the Senate, "I'm thinking" Garland "is the best I'm going to get." Brooks:

And if I'm a Republican, frankly, running the Senate, I'm thinking this is the best I'm going to get. And if Donald Trump is down 15 points in the summer or fall, I'd confirm this guy because Hillary Clinton, if she gets elected, who knows what the Senate will look like? It will be from a Republican point-of-view, could be a lot worse. So I think Republicans should say we'll take this guy because, from their point-of-view, he's a model of restraint.

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Friday, April 7, PBS Newshour:

JUDY WOODRUFF: We do now have a new Supreme Court justice to fill the Antonin Scalia slot, but, in the meantime, what we've seen is the Republican leadership in the Senate change the rules in order to get Neil Gorsuch over the line. There's a lot of talk right now about: What does that mean for the future? We already have a very polarized country, House of Representatives. The feeling was the Senate maybe wasn't quite so polarized. What does this mean going forward, that they now are going to make it so much easier for, it appears, for nominees from the far left or the far right to be confirmed?

DAVID BROOKS: Yeah, well, it's the 967th nail in the coffin of bipartisanship. And so it's the end of a long process. It may be the end -- maybe things will get even worse. Democrats took a big step in lower judges. We can go back to the Bork hearings. We can go back to a million different hearings. But the Senate has become gradually to look more like the House. And so I think it's a sad day, it's a pretty inevitable day. 

I think if the Democrats had won this election, they would have done exactly the same thing if they had been in a similar circumstance. The precedent was set. And I think the sad part going forward is, it used to be, if you were President, you have some incentive to try to nominate a judge who could maybe get 60 votes, who could appeal to some people in the other party. Now, you have zero incentive as long as you can control the Senate. And so we will see more -- even more partisan judges than we do now.

The only thing I would say to mitigate -- which I think is a decline and a degradation and a sadness -- is that I have a feeling that something is about to happen with the Trump administration. Either it will shift or something bad will happen -- a scandal or something -- and that we're in sort of a pre-apocalypse phase -- or maybe that's putting it too strongly. But history is about to change because I don't think this status quo can maintain. And so if we have something like an administration that really suffers some grievous blow, then Washington culture will have an opportunity to change for the better. But as of now, it's a long, slow, slide.

WOODRUFF: Do I hear you forecasting an apocalypse of some kind?

BROOKS: Well, I -- that word came out -- I should have stuck with "acidity." That would have been a better word. I do think Washington -- it doesn't feel like this administration can maintain the current state. Something is going to happen, and then we're going to be in a different world with the possibility of bipartisanship. And some Senators -- like Senator Collins and Coons and others -- are still hungering for that.

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