David Brooks Feels for Obama on PBS: 'You Have to Feel Sorry for Him'

On Friday's PBS NewsHour, both "conservative" David Brooks and liberal Mark Shields thought this was a tough, tight election for Barack Obama. Shields said "it becomes a race about disqualifying, a campaign about disqualifying your opponent. And that's not attractive or appealing. It's not hope and change. It's blood and guts."

But Brooks really felt Obama's pain: "So the president is obviously going to try. He is going to have. And to some extent, you have to feel sorry for him. This is in large degree not his fault. Things are happening way beyond his control. I don't believe a president has control over a quarterly economy in any case."  He added:

But the European situation is certainly not his fault. The Chinese slowdown is not his fault. And the Europe thing cannot be underestimated. There was a study by some economists this week that, say, Greece leaves the euro peacefully. Well, that reduces growth to our 1.7. Say it brings Spain and Italy, and it as much messier. Then it is even worse. Obama has really very little control and he's sort of a victim of this myth that presidents control the economy quarter to quarter.

At least Brooks didn't see the point of further "stimulus" spending: "listen, we are borrowing a trillion dollars a year, we're borrowing 40 cents on the dollar. Do we really think if we borrow a $1.1 trillion a year, somehow, that is going to magically transform the economy? I'm a little dubious."  So why not place some of the blame on Obama?

Brooks did surprise for not hitting the idiot button too hard on Donald Trump over his appearance in Las Vegas with Romney:

I do think there is a positive side to the blessing. The negative side is obvious. He's a bit of a buffoon. But the positive side is there are a lot of people, a lot of entrepreneurs, a lot of immigrants who go to Trump University, who buy Trump books, who like the idea of Trump Tower. He is a symbol for a lot of Americans of social mobility, of starting a business and making it. And so I do think he brings an audience, an important audience around.

Brooks didn't think Bill Clinton as a former president should be campaigning, and likes that George W. Bush has not. Mark Shields offered his liberal swagger on how much better Slick Willie is than the Donald:

Donald Trump is a disaster, an unmitigated disaster. The same national survey that asked favorable/unfavorable of the two men, Bill Clinton was 67/29 favorable, Donald Trump was 29 to 67 unfavorable. And that is the assessment of him.

He talks about the birther thing, Judy. And one out of four -- that is the most I have ever seen -- believe that the president wasn't born in the United States. These are people -- this is an expressed belief. Nobody really believes it. It's because they loathe Barack Obama, they believe it.

It is the same way that when somebody is against the science of global warming, it's like they don't like it because they don't like the remedies of global warming, so they reject it. That is what this is. He is not appealing to anybody. He is raising an issue that does Mitt Romney disservice.

The problem is, this is a campaign where all holds are barred for money. And you will go anywhere to get money, Donald Trump, Donald Trump in Las Vegas, Sheldon Adelson, $2 million. That's the price he paid with a day of stories about birther.

Campaigns & Elections 2012 Presidential PBS News Hour David Brooks Mark Shields Barack Obama
Tim Graham's picture