Jaws Drop: PBS NewsHour Pundits Agree Democrats Went Extreme on Abortion

Often, when the PBS NewsHour pundits David Brooks and Mark Shields agree on something, they're creating a liberal/Democrat consensus. But the week's events altered the formula dramatically on Friday. First, they both agreed that Democrat Gov. Ralph Northam's blackface/KKK yearbook photo was appalling. Then they agreed that the notion of abortion during birth or after birth was extreme. 

After Brooks made the point that Northam's picture was published in "1984, not 1850," he admitted "frankly, I was a little more appalled by his comments earlier in the week about letting babies die on tables when they're born in late-term abortions. And that was sort of what got this ball rolling. And so I would say, these are two events that I find morally incomprehensible."

JUDY WOODRUFF: In brief, a state legislator in Virginia was talking about expanding abortion rights into the third trimester, a lot outcry about that. The governor was attempting to talk about it, as someone who was an OB/GYN, a doctor, a physician. But it made an even bigger story.

DAVID BROOKS: Yes, well, it started with Andrew Cuomo in New York, where they passed a bill with full-length abortion. And I — you can have pro-choice, pro-life — I thought Andrew Cuomo made a mistake in lighting up the tower on the World Trade Center. Abortion is a tough issue. You don't celebrate it, a full-term abortion, with lighting up a tower in celebration of your law.

Then the — there was a bill proposed in the Virginia legislature to do this, and the legislator was asked, would she — could you abort a baby just before it was in the birth canal? And she said yes. And he was trying to explain it, the governor was, with — very medically, that the — if a child comes out with some problems, then the physician and the parents would decide whether or not to resuscitate.

And, to me, that's not my understanding of the Hippocratic oath. If a baby is on a table, it's not even abortion anymore. It's a baby breathing on a table. And that's a human being, whatever you think of the pro-life issue. And so we're pushing new territory, I would say, in this debate, territory that almost no other country in the world endorses.

WOODRUFF: Where to you see this? 

MARK SHIELDS: I think David makes excellent points. I would add to this, Judy. Abortion is — Americans are collectively pro-choice and anti-abortion....

Abortion is an issue that Americans, quite bluntly, have never resolved. I mean, it remains in every Gallup poll every year the plurality Americans think abortion is immoral. They — at the same time, they do not want to criminalize it.

But I do think that, when you get into the — as we talked about in Virginia, it's infanticide, when you say, make a child — have the child born, comforted, consoled, and then decide whether in fact — is it 24 hours, 12 hours, a week?

I think — I just think the Democrats have gone from being the pro-choice party in both those instances to being the no-choice party.

Woodruff sputtered at that quip: "We should point out that what the Democrats are trying to do in a number of states is talk about the health of the mother, the life of the mother, the health of the baby. And those issues are part of this as well."

Brooks also surprised on the issue of tax rates when asked about a Howard Schultz candidacy (which he dismissed): "The only point I would make on that is that, when we had tax rates up at 70 percent, the tax revenue as a share of GDP was about 19 percent. We reduced tax rates from 70 to 33, and tax revenues as share of GDP was 19 percent. It didn't really change. And that's because people avoid when you get it up that high."

Brooks concluded: "I do not like Donald Trump and I do not like his presidency. I felt the Democrats have done their best to slap people like me in the face over the last week on a lot of different issues."

Abortion PBS News Hour
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