PBS NewsHour full episode, Dec 27, 2019

PBS NewsHour full episode, Dec 27, 2019


AMNA NAWAZ: Good evening. I’m Amna Nawaz.
Judy Woodruff is away. On the “NewsHour” tonight: Iran under pressure.
The regime cracks down on protests at home, while deepening military ties overseas with
Russia and China. Then: law and disorder. The Indian government
shuts down the Internet in response to widespread protests over a controversial citizenship
law. Plus: “The Two Popes” — a new film captures
the dynamic drama between Pope’s Benedict and Francis. ANTHONY MCCARTEN, Writer, “The Two Popes”:
The stories I’m drawn to are intimate and epic at the same time. And this is a perfect
example. These are themes of, how do we find common ground between two people who are polar
opposites? AMNA NAWAZ: And it’s Friday, so Mark Shields
and David Brooks look back on a tumultuous year in politics and look ahead to the impeachment
trial and presidential election. All that and more on tonight’s “PBS NewsHour.” (BREAK) AMNA NAWAZ: An American civilian contractor
died today in a rocket attack on an Iraqi military base that houses U.S. forces. U.S. Central Command also confirmed multiple
U.S. service members and Iraqi personnel were injured. The Iraqi military said several rockets
hit an arms depot at the so-called K1 base northwest of Kirkuk. There was no immediate
word about who carried out the attack. In a separate development, Iraq’s president,
Barham Salih, is facing backlash from Iranian-backed parties over his refusal to designate their
nominee as prime minister. Salih’s rejection was in response to months of Iraqi protests
demanding more independent candidates and political reform. The latest happened today in Baghdad’s Tahrir
Square, as anti-government demonstrators marched and voiced their support for Salih’s decision. MAN (through translator): As a protester,
I see it as a heroic action by the president, because he rejected one of the candidates
by the political blocs, because he was rejected by the protesters in Tahrir Square. The political elites didn’t do anything in
the past 16 years, and there won’t be anything in the future if the same names remain. AMNA NAWAZ: Salih said that, because Iraq’s
constitution doesn’t give him the right to reject nominees for prime minister, he was
prepared to quit. We will have more on anti-government unrest
in two other countries, Iran and India, later in the program. At least 12 people died today after a passenger
jet in the Central Asian country of Kazakhstan crashed shortly after takeoff. The Bek Air
plane departed the Almaty Airport with 98 people on board, before it smashed into a
concrete wall and a building. Rescue workers at the scene tended to dozens
of injured passengers and combed through the wreckage looking for more survivors. Officials
said the jetliner had struggled to get off the ground. ROMAN SKLYAR, Kazakh Deputy Prime Minister
(through translator): Today, we found two consecutive sets of skidmarks from the tail
end of the plane on the runway, meaning the aircraft touched the runway twice while taking
off. Mostly passengers who were in the front part
of the aircraft died. Flight recorders have been found and have been brought for inspection. AMNA NAWAZ: Authorities immediately suspended
all Bek Air flights, as well as all planes of that same model, pending an investigation. In Hawaii, rescue teams located the wreckage
of a tour helicopter that had gone missing with seven people aboard. It was found in
a mountainous area on the island of Kauai. The helicopter failed to return from a sightseeing
tour of the Na Pali Coast yesterday. Coast Guard crews are still searching for signs
of survivors. The death toll from a devastating typhoon
that struck the Philippines late on Tuesday has nearly doubled to 28 people. A dozen others
are reportedly still missing. The typhoon swept across the country’s central islands,
tearing through buildings and toppling trees. Today, families in hard-hit coastal towns
sorted through mounds of debris as they carried on their recovery efforts. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
is celebrating a sweeping victory in his Likud Party’s primary election. Netanyahu defeated
his main rival within the right-wing party, Gideon Saar, to win 72 percent of yesterday’s
vote. That is in spite of being charged with corruption in three criminal cases. Today, the embattled leader hailed his win
at the party’s campaign headquarters near Tel Aviv. BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, Israeli Prime Minister
(through translator): This is a huge victory, because we have also overcome the fake polls
and the fake news, who are already now trying to dwarf the victory. This is a huge victory
because almost all the media has rallied against me, with the left parties also in this candidacy. This is the time to unite, to bring a sweeping
victory to the Likud and the right in the Knesset elections. AMNA NAWAZ: Netanyahu now heads toward a national
election in March. It will be Israel’s third national election in less than a year, after
failing to form a government in the previous two elections. Back in this country, skies cleared up in
Southern California today, following a massive winter storm that sparked traffic chaos. Heavy
snow and icy conditions forced major highways north of Los Angeles to close, leaving drivers
stranded, including some for hours, as they headed home after the holiday. Torrential rains also prompted more road closures.
The storm system, now over Arizona, is continuing to move eastward. And stocks were mixed on Wall Street today.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained nearly 24 points to close at a record close of 28645.
The Nasdaq fell more than 15 points, and the S&P 500 added a fraction of a point, to record
its fifth straight week of gains. Still to come on the “NewsHour”: Iran cracks
down on protests, as it deepens military ties with China and Russia; the Indian government
shuts down the Internet in response to a controversial citizenship law; how two life skills programs
are helping kids in the Dallas juvenile justice system; and much more. For the first time, Iran, Russia and China
are engaged in joint naval exercises in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Oman. They are
taking place as the United States continues its maximum pressure campaign against Iran. The secretary of the U.S. Navy told Reuters
that he was on alert for what he called — quote — “provocative actions.” Against this backdrop, protests inside Iran
are growing. To discuss how all these events are connected,
I’m joined by Ariane M. Tabatabai. She’s a political scientist at the RAND Corporation
and co-author of “Triple-Axis: Iran’s Relations With Russia and China.” Ariane, welcome to the “NewsHour.” ARIANE M. TABATABAI, RAND Corporation: Thank
you for having me. AMNA NAWAZ: So, we should point out Iran has
done drills before individually with Russia and with China. This is the first time all three countries
are working together. Why are we seeing these now? ARIANE M. TABATABAI: Well, there are a number
of reasons. From Iran’s perspective, as you mentioned
in the beginning, the United States has been imposing this maximum pressure campaign, a
policy that is centered around sanctions and trying to isolate Iran. So, what Iran is trying to achieve here is
to signal to the United States that it can’t be isolated. Iranian officials have said as
much today as the drill has started. They have tried to say, listen, we have the
backing of Russia and China, two superpowers, and so we can’t be isolated. For both Russia and China, it’s also a way
to flex muscle, to show to the U.S. and the international community that they are key
players in the region. AMNA NAWAZ: And we should mention too the
secretary of the Navy also said that, as Iran creates what he calls mischief here, that,
sometimes, the U.S. has to react. They have already sent 14,000 additional troops to the
region to deter Iran. He said they could send another aircraft carrier
over, if they needed to. How much of that, trying to provoke action from the U.S., is
Iran’s motivation? ARIANE M. TABATABAI: Iran is trying to raise
the cost of the maximum pressure campaign for the United States. The United States withdrew from the nuclear
deal in 2018. And for a year, Iran didn’t really do anything. It just sort of sat and
waited and negotiated with the Europeans to try to offset the cost of the maximum pressure
campaign. Now, what it’s trying to do and what it has
been doing since May of this year is to actually show that it too can take action to poke the
United States in the eye, and that whatever action the U.S. takes won’t go without a response
from Iran. AMNA NAWAZ: But the statements we have seen
publicly from Iran vs. the ones we have seen from Russia and China, there’s a little bit
of daylight there in how this is being presented. Tell me about that. ARIANE M. TABATABAI: Absolutely. It’s really interesting, actually, observing
both Russia and China trying to downplay what’s going on there. They’re obviously trying to,
again, project power to show that they’re a force to be reckoned with in the region. But, at the same time, they’re trying to reassure
Iranian rivals, Saudi Arabia, Israel, that they’re not there to take sides, that they’re
not there to kind of go against Israeli or Saudi interests. And, also, they’re trying
to make sure that the United States doesn’t see this as an offensive action. Meanwhile, Iran is playing it up as trying
to say that, look, we have these powers that are backing us, and we’re not isolated, as
the U.S. claims we are. AMNA NAWAZ: So, from Iran’s perspective, how
much of this is actually about building alliances, and how much of it is building leverage against
the U.S.? ARIANE M. TABATABAI: It’s a bit of both, though
I would be careful with the word alliance, because they don’t see their relationship
with either Russia or China as an alliance. They see it as a partnership. And they want to keep it that way, as do Moscow
and Beijing. So what the Iranians are trying to do is both build leverage and also show
to the United States that its actions won’t go without a response, while, at the same
time, making sure that they have these partnerships with other key powers. AMNA NAWAZ: So, all of this, we should note,
is unfolding against the backdrop of protests back home inside of Iran, the biggest since
the 1979 revolution, right? Is there a connection between what the regime
is facing at home and the way it’s acting overseas? ARIANE M. TABATABAI: Absolutely. I mean, at the core of all of this is the
maximum pressure campaign and sanctions really hurting Iranians and the regime as well. So
part of what the regime is trying to achieve is to build leverage against the U.S., to
raise the cost of the maximum pressure campaign. And, at home, it has to respond to a growing
dissent by the population that is just upset with the way things are going, economic mismanagement,
corruption, all of it exacerbated by the U.S. sanctions. So, Iran is really — the regime is finding
itself a little bit cornered at home and abroad. And it’s responding to both of those things. AMNA NAWAZ: Well, tell me about that response,
because, obviously, they faced similarly large-scale protests back in 2009. What are you seeing today that’s different
or the same to the way they responded back then? ARIANE M. TABATABAI: So, the protests, as
far as we know, are not necessarily bigger than what we had seen in 2009. It’s hard to estimate. It seems like it’s
much more widely distributed across the country now than it was in 2009. But the response
has been drastically different. In 2009, it took several months to get to several hundred
casualties, whereas, this time around, in November, when the protests started, in the
course of 72 hours, Iran shut down the Internet and proceeded to kill several hundred people. Now, estimates are different. But, nonetheless,
we got to a higher level of casualties fairly quickly. And the fact that they shut down
the Internet completely is also new. That’s not something Iran had achieved in the past.
And now it seems like it’s going to be a part of their way to deal with dissent at home. AMNA NAWAZ: Why do you think the response
is so different? Ten years later, why are they reacting so differently now? ARIANE M. TABATABAI: Well, I think part of
it is that they do see themselves as cornered. They see sanctions as part of — not just
as, you know, sort of a different policy. They see it as warfare, that they, in fact,
talk about sanctions as economic terrorism or war by other means, by economic means. So, they see themselves cornered. They see
themselves isolated. And they’re really concerned about the prospect of the United States helping
bring about regime change at home. And so I think that’s part of what’s going
on here, is that the concerns, the threat perception has led them to take this drastic
action in a way that we hadn’t seen in the past. AMNA NAWAZ: It’s fascinating. We will have
to stay on top of it. Ariane Tabatabai of the RAND Corporation,
thank you so much for being here. ARIANE M. TABATABAI: Thanks for having me. AMNA NAWAZ: In India, political unrest continues,
after a citizenship law passed Parliament earlier this month. It expedites a path to
citizenship for religious minorities living in India, but excludes Muslims. Today, thousands turned out nationwide to
protest the new law. “NewsHour” correspondent Lisa Desjardins takes
a closer look at the rule opponents say discriminates against Muslims. LISA DESJARDINS: Across India today, a physical
and digital clamp-down, in New Delhi, scenes of police beatings and pushback, as officers
tried to contain protests against the nation’s new citizenship law. Elsewhere, mass demonstrations, like this
one in Kolkata, were largely peaceful, though communications are spotty. The government
again shut down all mobile Internet services in several cities, all of this a clash over
the identity and a citizenship law the government says protects non-Muslim immigrants. But, to opponents, the law is a thinly veiled
attack on Muslims and a move toward making India a religious Hindu state. ABHIJIT MUKHERJEE, Indian Parliament Member
(through translator): Until they withdraw the Citizenship Amendment Act, the rallies
will continue to take place. These protests will continue. This is our right. The constitution
of the country is impartial. There is tolerance. LISA DESJARDINS: The new law focuses on India’s
Muslim neighbors, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, and non-Muslim immigrants from
those countries. It protects six religious groups. Importantly,
this comes as India is undergoing a national registration, asking every person to prove
citizenship. That means non-Muslims without paperwork can get citizenship, but Muslims
without documents may be in legal trouble. The resulting protests have left at least
23 people dead, thousands arrested, and now more charges of police violence. In Northern
India, the BBC reports that Muslim families in several towns say police attacked their
homes, destroying cars, smashing property and beating teenage boys. Security video in that region last week shows
Indian police smashing cameras during protests. India’s popular Prime Minister Narendra Modi
is known as a Hindu nationalist, and defends the law as protecting his country, but opponents
say it rips India’s multicultural fabric. IRSHAD, Protester (through translator): Our
country has unity in diversity. People of different religions live here together, and
it is known for this in the world. LISA DESJARDINS: India, home to 1.4 billion,
is wrestling with its own power and people. Let’s take a closer look at the issue now
with Alyssa Ayres. She’s a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and served
as deputy assistant secretary of state for South Asia during the Obama administration. You know, I want to first start by gauging
this moment in India. As we just had in our story, we are now seeing reports that police
themselves may be attacking Muslim homes, particularly in the province of Uttar Pradesh.
Many people know that as the home of the Taj Mahal. What do you make of these reports of police
violence? Is this a new phase, a new concern? What does this mean? ALYSSA AYRES, Council on Foreign Relations:
It is disturbing, absolutely. Uttar Pradesh is India’s most populous state.
This is the size of a country, about 200 million people. It also has a larger Muslim minority
population, about 20 percent of the state. And the reports that have been coming out
over the past couple days, with some video, suggests that police are really overstepping
the bounds of just mere crowd control. We’re seeing reports of property destruction, that
police are destroying cameras, so they can’t be seen. Again, there may be cases of crowds that get
unruly, but police should be in the business of crowd control, not trying to damage homes
of individuals. So this is a real eye-opener, I think, for a lot of people. LISA DESJARDINS: You have recently been in
India. What is your sense of the state of tension there? I mean, India is known for its multicultural
fabric, but it’s also highly flammable, that fabric. What is your sense of the tensions
now, especially between Hindu and Muslim there? ALYSSA AYRES: I think what we have seen happen
with the protests that have taken place across the country, in many different cities across
the country, very peaceful protests, as your package showed, we are really seeing Indians,
in fact, largely young Indians, stand up and say, here’s who we are and here’s who we don’t
want to be. People are standing up for a constitutional
principle of secularism. In some of the protests that we have seen in India, people are reading
out parts of the constitution. That’s an incredible thing. You see crowds of tens of thousands of people
all together focusing on the constitutional principle of secularism and equality before
the law. So there are tensions in India. There have been longstanding tensions in India between
Hindus and Muslims. But I think what this particular issue has
highlighted is that there are a large number of people in India who want to see their country
retain its secularism. LISA DESJARDINS: You have talked specifically
about young people. And I know you have followed this country
and this region for decades. How significant are these protests? It’s not the first time
we have seen large protests in India over issues. But how significant you think these
are, the scale of them, and the involvement of young people? ALYSSA AYRES: I think this is the history
of the present at the moment, right? But maybe we will know more about the scale once we
have passed through this moment. But it does seem that these protests are being
located in universities, being student-led, student-organized in many cases. And it’s
quite an inspirational thing to see young Indians standing up and saying that they want
to see their country evolve in a particular direction, and they want to see it remain
true to its constitution. LISA DESJARDINS: And secular. ALYSSA AYRES: And secular. LISA DESJARDINS: Prime Minister Modi, of course,
is someone who is sort of at the center of all of this. He ran and won, in part, on his economic and
jobs agenda. But, of course, he’s also known as a Hindu nationalist. He talks a lot about
having sort of Hindu pride and wanting the identity of India to be Hindu. What do you think these protests do for him?
Or do they cause problems, questions about what he’s doing, in terms of his political
strength in India? ALYSSA AYRES: He enjoys a single-party majority
in the lower house of Indian Parliament. So the protests don’t affect his single-party
majority. However, it has — now we have seen, at the
state level, his party has last several elections recently. So they are no longer as dominant
both at the federal government, as well as throughout many states of India as well. So we’re seeing people make different kinds
of choices in the parties that they want to lead at the center of the country for their
own states. And, in some cases, they are opting against the BJP at the state level. LISA DESJARDINS: Which is Modi’s party, the
BJP. ALYSSA AYRES: Which is Modi’s party, exactly. LISA DESJARDINS: Yes. ALYSSA AYRES: So, the other thing I would
note is that the first government that Prime Minister Modi led — he was elected in 2014
— his platform in 2014 was very focused on economic growth, good governance, in contrast
to what had been a series of corruption scandals taking place from 2011 forward, the previous
government. And his economic plans haven’t quite panned
out. India is facing an economic downturn. They’re not seeing the growth levels that
they need to employ this large youth demographic, 10 to 12 million people coming of work force
age every year. And India is facing some severe issues economically within the financial sector.
It’s trickling throughout the economy. So what you have seen with the new Modi government
is a real shift of emphasis towards the cultural, the religious, nationalist agenda. And I think
what these protests show us is that many young people in India are saying, this is too much.
This is not who we want to be. LISA DESJARDINS: Alyssa Ayres of the Council
on Foreign Relations, also an author, former State Department, thank you very much. ALYSSA AYRES: Thank you. AMNA NAWAZ: Stay with us. Coming up on the “NewsHour”: Mark Shields
and David Brooks reflect on a packed year of political news; a new film dramatizes the
relationship between the two living popes; and poet Ada Limon reminds us of language’s
capacity for nuance, mystery and radical hope. In Dallas, two programs are trying to shift
the conversation around juvenile justice. As John Yang reported this summer, one brings
young people into the kitchen; the other aims to address trauma through art. Here’s a reprise now of that story, which
is part of our occasional series Chasing the Dream, on poverty and opportunity in America. JOHN YANG: It’s a Friday night in downtown
Dallas and Cafe Momentum is buzzing. In the dining room, waiters thread their way between
tables. In the kitchen, workers churn out dishes. Watching over it all, executive chef
and founder Chad Houser. CHAD HOUSER, Founder, Cafe Momentum: Say,
you know, we will have a table for you in about 15 minutes. JOHN YANG: But Cafe Momentum is far from an
ordinary restaurant. All the waiters and a lot of the kitchen staff have recently been
released from juvenile detention in Dallas county. They’re here on year-long paid internships. WOMAN: You guys come in, you guys helping
us. We feed you guys, you guys go home happy. JOHN YANG: Eighteen-year-old De’Monica Dean,
who goes by Dee, first got in trouble in 2014 for stealing her sister’s car. At Cafe Momentum,
she does a bit of everything. DE’MONICA DEAN, Cafe Momentum: Most people
didn’t get a second chance. And the fact that I’m able to get a second chance, I got to
do it right. CHAD HOUSER: The most important thing that
we do in this physical restaurant is prove to our kids and to the community that these
young men and young women can and will rise to whatever level of expectation is set for
them. JOHN YANG: Across town, another program with
a similar mission, but a very different approach. This is Creative Solutions, a seven-week summer
arts program for Dallas juveniles on probation. Byron Sanders is the president and CEO of
Big Thought, the nonprofit that runs Creative Solutions. BYRON SANDERS, President and CEO, Big Thought:
What’s needed is, yes, work force skills, job skills, academics. But you can’t do that
if you haven’t been able to go through and deal with the hurt, deal with the pain, deal
with the lack of trust, deal with the things that have been barriers to empathy, deal with
own self-worth. Arts allows us to do that. JOHN YANG: In Texas, more than 60 percent
of juvenile offenders end up in trouble again within three years of probation or release. For Creative Solutions, that number is just
13 percent, for Cafe Momentum, 15 percent. Here in Dallas and across Texas, juvenile
justice officials are rethinking the system. Since reforms in 2007, the number of young
offenders sent to big state-run detention centers has plummeted. The focus has shifted to local programs closer
to home. University of Texas at Dallas criminologist
Alex Piquero. ALEX PIQUERO, University of Texas at Dallas:
People were really concerned at the beginning of that, because, oh, crime’s going to skyrocket.
People — all these kids are going to be on the street. You know, you’re letting out all
these kids who should be locked up forever. And we didn’t see that, in fact, just the
opposite. And that I think is what we call the Texas miracle. JOHN YANG: Darryl Beatty directs the Dallas
County Juvenile Department. DARRYL BEATTY, Executive Director, Dallas
County Juvenile Department: We, as a department, you know, we have our funds that we can do
things with. But it’s really the community and community programs that are vital to provide
the necessary services that sometimes we as a department can’t. JOHN YANG: Hours before Cafe Momentum opens,
interns sit down for family dinner, a staple in restaurants. Here, though, they usually
begin with an activity led by a staff member. Today, it’s a game of telephone to show the
importance of communication. The seeds of Cafe Momentum were planted more than a decade
ago, when Houser taught eight kids in the Dallas juvenile justice system how to make
ice cream. CHAD HOUSER: That experience was very humbling
for me. I learned that the difference between their lives and my life at their age was literally
the difference in choices that were made for them and made for me before any of us were
ever born. JOHN YANG: He launched a series of pop-up
dinners and then, in 2015, opened Cafe Momentum. The program has worked with more than 750
kids, each, Houser says, with their own unique starting line. MAR’TWAN DARDEN, Cafe Momentum: Welcome to
Cafe Momentum. (LAUGHTER) JOHN YANG: Server Mar’twan Darden, now 20,
first got caught shoplifting when he was just 13. The last time he was locked up, he came
to a realization. MAR’TWAN DARDEN: I just remember staring at
the ceiling, and just thinking, like, do you want to live like this for the rest of your
life? And, no. I was like, no, man. I have got to get it together. So when I got released, I made a promise to
myself, like, you know, I’m going to value my freedom. JOHN YANG: Creative Solutions has worked with
some 14,000 Dallas youth over almost a quarter-century, and, since 2007, Southern Methodist University
has hosted the summer program, where participants choose between creating art for an exhibit
or performing in front of an audience. Sasha Davis is Creative Solutions’ theater
director. SASHA DAVIS, Creative Solutions: They will
come. Oftentimes, there’s a brick wall, not ready to quite say or experience whatever
that thing is in their past or whatever led them to this moment, and then they will take
a poetry class and write it all down, and then something clicks. JOHN YANG: Frankie Zuniga had been incarcerated
for more than a year when he entered Creative Solutions, very reluctantly. At first, he
didn’t trust the instructors. FRANKIE ZUNIGA, Creative Solutions: In my
mind, they’re like, oh, you’re just here to get a paycheck. And, yes, I don’t care. But
over time, I’m like, dang, like, they do care. I learned to open up, and then they’re like,
here, just try this, do this dance move, try — write this, perform. And, little by little,
it, like, helped me open up. JOHN YANG: Zuniga, who now works at Big Thought,
recently got his associate’s degree, and wants to be a nurse or a physical therapist. While both Big Thought’s Sanders and Cafe
Momentum’s Houser are focusing on getting juvenile offenders back on track, they say
their ultimate goal is keeping young people out of trouble in the first place. CHAD HOUSER: I have got to continue to push
as hard as I can, to push that conversation further, so that we as a whole country, are
talking about these injustices that we are forcing on a population of children. I think
about that every day. BYRON SANDERS: We had one of our alumni ask
a really strong question, which is actually guiding a lot of our work moving forward.
He said, “Why did I have to go to jail before I got something that would change my life?” That’s the question we should all be asking
ourselves. And then we need to act. JOHN YANG: Action that may start with a work
of art or a good meal. For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m John Yang in Dallas. AMNA NAWAZ: From the impeachment trial of
President Trump, to the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, the end of 2019 leaves
a lot of unanswered questions heading into the new year. For a little perspective, and hopefully some
answers, we have got the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That’s syndicated columnist Mark
Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks. Good to see you both. MARK SHIELDS: Thank you. AMNA NAWAZ: The two biggest stories of 2010,
I think it’s fair to say, will also carry over into 2020, the impeachment and the 2020
race. David, let’s start with impeachment. It was a quiet week in Washington, by and
large, but we were still talking about impeachment because of some comments by Alaska Senator
Lisa Murkowski. She said she was disturbed by hearing Mitch McConnell say he’s in total
coordination with the White House. Did her remarks surprise you? DAVID BROOKS: Well, no, because I agreed with
them. But I couldn’t tell how disturbed she was.
It was an Alaska broadcast interview. And it wasn’t like, oh, I have got a flea under
my ankle disturbed, or was it, this is terrible, I’m going to do something about it? So that part wasn’t clear. But it’s certainly
true that — when I started covering the Senate, you had senators like Robert Byrd and Arlen
Specter, some of whom loved the Senate more than they loved their party. And the institutions and procedures of the
Senate were very valuable to them, and they knew a lot. And they were always quoting the
obscure rules. And Mitch McConnell is not of that school.
And so the Senate’s job here is to be the judge, to be the arbiter, the objective arbiter.
And he’s just saying, no, forget all that. We’re siding with the White House. And I can understand why it disturbs Lisa
Murkowski. I don’t — it should be disturbing a lot of other people. AMNA NAWAZ: You know, Mark, the New York Times
Editorial Board published this editorial late today. They called it “A Stirring of Conscience
in the Senate.” They also wrote: “At least one Republican,
Lisa Murkowski, wants the Trump impeachment trial to be more than a test of party loyalty.
Others should follow.” Do you think others will follow? MARK SHIELDS: I think others are tempted to
follow. I think Lisa Murkowski, let’s first acknowledge,
she is unique. In the past 65 years, exactly one United States senator has won as a write-in
candidate. She did that in 2010, after she lost the Republican primary to the Tea Party
candidate backed by Sarah Palin and Laura Ingraham and Mark Levin and all sorts of other
distinguished Americans. And she came back and won as a write-in. So
she stared into her political grave already. I mean, she knows. I mean, she’s not a bed-wetter
or a nervous Nellie, or whatever you want to call it, when it comes to anxiety. So, I think that that gives her a certain
independence that many of her colleagues in both parties don’t have. And I think — I think it’s significant. I
think David’s point about Mitch McConnell is an important one, that Mitch McConnell
is strictly an inside player. He can’t take it outside. In other words, if it’s a debate about outside,
Mitch McConnell loses. He’s a very formidable operator inside the Senate, sort of when nobody’s
looking in procedures and this and that. But, I mean, this is a question. Are they
going to just rush to judgment, ignore any witnesses, ignore testimony, and live by the
lie which the president is telling, that is, I want these people to testify, I have forbidden
them to testify, but I want them to testify, because I want it out in the open? Well, you can’t have it both ways. DAVID BROOKS: I do think he’s helping the
Democrats. MARK SHIELDS: Yes. DAVID BROOKS: I think it’s — I personally
it’s in the Democrats’ best interests that they get rid of this and they move onto the
campaign. So, in a perverse way, he’s helping them.
And he could be holding a long trial and keeping all the Democratic Senate candidates in Washington
through January and February. And he seems to be not inclined to do that. AMNA NAWAZ: You think this gridlock that we
have right now over the procedure of how the Senate trial, the rules for which it will
move forward — you have got Senator Schumer saying that they want to call witnesses, they
want to have additional testimony, Mitch McConnell saying, absolutely not. And now Nancy Pelosi has not yet transmitted
those articles of impeachment. They cannot begin their work in the Senate until that
happens. Does that benefit Democrats too? DAVID BROOKS: No, I don’t think it does. I think the rules favor the Republicans in
the circumstance. The majority sort of rules this thing. And they have very little leverage.
And as we discussed last week, it’s not leverage to tell somebody who doesn’t want to do something
they can’t do something. And that’s what basically what Nancy Pelosi is doing right now. AMNA NAWAZ: Can you make a prediction for
what’s going to happen next in 2020 in the impeachment trial? DAVID BROOKS: I thought it was clear all along
he would get impeached and then he would get acquitted by the Senate. Nothing has changed. MARK SHIELDS: I differ in this sense. I think that testimony only hurts. And to
the degree that there is pressure for testimony, and that people are unwilling, whether it’s
Republicans in tough races in 2020, to say they want to rush to judgment without hearing
testimony, I think any time it opens up — if Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, had something
good to say that exonerated, exculpated the president in any way, he would have said it. He’s certainly done everything else. He’s
been enough of a toady in every other respect for the president. He would be shouting it
from the rooftops. But he hasn’t said anything. I mean, so I do think — I think it’s live
and it’s real. AMNA NAWAZ: It’s live and it’s real. And it’s
certainly going to be dominating a lot of the headlines in 2020 as well. Let’s talk about the 2020 race. It feels like
we have been talking about this since 2016. We’re coming off the last debate of the year,
weeks away from those first ballots being cast in the early states. Mark, kick us off. When you look at the lay
of the land in the Democratic field right now, what are you seeing? How are you assessing
the candidates and where they are going into the new year? MARK SHIELDS: Well, doing them alphabetically
— no. (LAUGHTER) MARK SHIELDS: No. DAVID BROOKS: We don’t get beyond B. (CROSSTALK) MARK SHIELDS: I think we have to remind ourselves,
I mean, history’s — of history’s mandate. And that is that there are only three tickets
out of Iowa. We can look at it and say, someone says I’m going to run a really strong fifth
in Iowa, but I’m going to bounce back in Florida. No, you’re not. I mean, if you’re not in the
top three in Iowa, history tells us you’re not going to continue. If you’re not in the
top two in New Hampshire, you’re not going to be nominated. Nominees only come from those select groups.
So there will be an incredible paring in a big, big hurry. I guess, if you look at it, one of the things
that has surprised me is Bernie Sanders’ staying power. I mean, Bernie Sanders has raised more
money in contribution — individual contributions than Donald Trump. And Donald Trump’s raised
a lot of money. So it shows that warmth and personality aren’t
everything. (LAUGHTER) MARK SHIELDS: But, I mean — no, I mean, a
lot of Democrats are interested in ideas, ideology or positions, and Bernie’s got a
lot of all those things. AMNA NAWAZ: Yes, David, he’s consistently
stayed towards the top of the pack in all of the polls, right? And when you’re looking at this last debate,
it was the smallest debate field in terms of who made it to the stage, but still a very
crowded total candidate field. DAVID BROOKS: Right. And he’s got 18 to 20 percent of Democrats.
And his supporters are more likely to say, I’m decided. I’m going with Bernie. And a lot of them decided four years ago.
And they have stayed decided. So he’s got a very solid base of support, more than any
of the other candidates, at least more solidly loyal. The question is, does he have any of the other
supporters from the other current candidates? Are people out there thinking Buttigieg or
Sanders, Biden or Sanders? And the evidence so far is that he’s got fewer of those people.
There are a lot of people that are not thinking about him at all. Like, they have three people who they may
support, but Bernie is not one of them. So he’s got a very solid core. The question is,
can he get anybody else to join that core? And I think that’s why it still remains unlikely
he will get the nomination. But you have seen a ripple of panic go through
the Democratic establishment this last couple weeks, as they think, well, it could be him.
What do we do then? AMNA NAWAZ: We have also seen some of the
candidates start to kind of focus their fire more on some of the moderate candidates who’ve
been ticking up, seeing some minor surges, Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg. What do you think their futures hold? MARK SHIELDS: Well, I mean, Buttigieg is — understands
history. I mean, he’s running first in the Iowa, accorded
the Iowa Des Moines Register poll, which has been sort of the gold standard, certainly,
of polling over the years, in the last one. And that’s why the fire is on him. I mean, I think there’s a fear among Sanders,
Warren, Biden, whoever, that, if Buttigieg becomes the fresh new face and wins Iowa,
and then vaults into New Hampshire, it could be tough to catch him. So they’re trying to
knock him down to size before that. I mean, that was the last debate, in which
you played such a prominent role, was all about, was getting Pete, it seemed to me. DAVID BROOKS: Yes. I have been struck by the real animosity to
Buttigieg, especially among a lot of younger voters. AMNA NAWAZ: That’s striking to you. DAVID BROOKS: Yes. I mean, they’re really
ferociously hostile toward him. And I think that’s three things. One, for
a certain class of people who went to a certain sort of school, they all knew the kid who
got the Rhodes Scholarship, and they didn’t like that kid. And he’s like that kid. Oh,
he’s the guy who went to Oxford. MARK SHIELDS: Bill Clinton. DAVID BROOKS: Yes, he was a more friendly
version. MARK SHIELDS: Yes. Yes. Bill Bradley. DAVID BROOKS: Second, he is — somebody wrote
this, and I have forgotten who — that he provides the illusion of generational change
without the substance of generational change. So he is an old person’s idea of a young person.
And so he doesn’t really represent a radical break. And, third, he has tacked to the center,
and now is a moderate. And the left is out to get him for that reason. And the debate between the moderate wing,
what we call moderate — they are all liberals. They’re all pretty progressive. Like, as somebody
pointed out, the most moderate person in this race is way to the left of Barack Obama. And — but them vs. the Bernie, Warren, that
is the crucial debate of the next year, because the debates on the left are more important
than the debates on the right, right now. AMNA NAWAZ: Have we moved the needle forward
on any of that? I mean, a lot of those major issues, health
care and the economy and so on, those have been built along those fault lines, right,
the moderate wing vs. the progressive wing. Has the Democratic Party found its way forward
yet? MARK SHIELDS: No. I mean, they’re still wrestling. We heard — argued about free tuition. And
the Democratic Party is — just somehow needs a dose of practicality. I mean, there are
two million fewer Americans today with health care than there were when Donald Trump became
president because of Donald Trump’s policies, because of his administration’s policies,
steadily and specifically. The Democrats just won a major — the biggest
midterm election victory in their history in 2018, just, as I looked at it, about 13
months ago. And so what do Democrats want to do? Give up the advantage? My goodness
gracious, no, we don’t need that. We’re going to scrap this. And, to me, it makes no sense practically,
when you have them on the defensive and you’re on the right on the issue. So, no, the logic
is all to stay where they are. David, I think, puts it well, whether it’s
moderate or not. I mean, the problem with Buttigieg is that he looks too practical to
too many people. But there is a generational — I mean, older
people like him more than do his contemporaries, which… AMNA NAWAZ: Well, we should note, gentlemen,
this is the last conversation we get to have with you in the year 2019. MARK SHIELDS: What? AMNA NAWAZ: I know. So I’m going to ask a dangerous question,
which is, sometimes, when you look back over the last 12 months, it can feel like we fit
three years into one. Is there anything that stands out to you as
a greater consequence, something you never thought that you would see that happened this
past year? DAVID BROOKS: Yes. I mean, my standout is that everything happened,
but nothing changed, that Donald Trump’s numbers are just where they were. The political landscape
is basically where it was. He has not really suffered a loss in his base particularly large. And so my view is that events are not really
changing politics and partisan affiliation, the way they used to, that sociology is driving
events, and that, if you’re an urban person, you’re probably a Democrat. If you’re a rural
person, you’re probably a Republican. And we vote according to our sociological
categories these days, and events don’t knock us off those categories. AMNA NAWAZ: Mark, we have got a minute, minute-and-a-half
left. What do you think? MARK SHIELDS: Donald Trump — and this is
a visual that probably is not terribly appealing — but when it came to political coattails,
turned out to be wearing a tank top in 2019. He went in and campaigned hard, made it about
his presidency in both Kentucky and Louisiana, states he had won by 25 points and 20 points,
said his presidency was at stake, that he had to win, backing Republican candidates,
both of whom last. John Bel Edwards, the Democratic governor
of Louisiana, eked out a victory, but an impressive victory nevertheless, after he had expanded
Medicaid coverage, after he increased teachers’ salaries, and after he had balanced the state
budget from a $2 billion deficit that he had inherited from Bobby Jindal, and had the best
answer to Donald Trump, who had savaged them in the campaign. The president of the United States, God bless
his heart. And I just thought — I thought it was a brilliant,
a brilliant way of doing it. The biggest surprise to me, quite honestly,
being in Washington, D.C., was seeing the president of the United States booed at the
World Series. AMNA NAWAZ: Really? MARK SHIELDS: He’s the only president in 100
years not to throw out the opening ball of the baseball season. And now I understand
why. And anybody who thinks, oh, Washington’s a
Democratic town, people who go to the World Series, as David can attest, are, if not the
top 1 percent, the top 5 percent. I mean, this is a — it’s an expensive ticket and
it’s an expensive proposition. And to see a spontaneous “Lock him up, lock
him up” was really — it was a shock to me, and I know it was to the president. AMNA NAWAZ: It was a packed, packed year in
2019, certain to be a packed year ahead too. We’re so grateful to both of you for being
here. MARK SHIELDS: Thanks. DAVID BROOKS: Thank you. AMNA NAWAZ: David Brooks, Mark Shields, thank
you. MARK SHIELDS: Thank you. AMNA NAWAZ: There had not been a papal resignation
since 1415, but Pope Benedict did just that in 2013. At the time, his successor, Pope Francis,
could not have been more different. Now, a new film, “The Two Popes,” imagines
the relationship between the two men. Jeffrey Brown has a preview, part of our regular
arts and culture series, Canvas. JEFFREY BROWN: Rome 2013, a new pope is elected.
But the previous pope was still alive. He’d startled the world by resigning. And so, for
the first time since 1415, there were two living popes The film “The Two Popes” takes those basic
facts and some of the known details, and imagines the relationship and interaction between the
two men, the older German Pope Benedict, played by Anthony Hopkins. ANTHONY HOPKINS, Actor: Your style and your
methods are entirely different to mine. I don’t agree with any — most of the things
you say, think, or do, but, for some strange reason, now I can see a necessity for Bergoglio. JEFFREY BROWN: The younger Argentinean Cardinal
Bergoglio, who would become Pope Francis, played by Jonathan Pryce. JONATHAN PRYCE, Actor: Why do the presidents
of America and Russia and China come to you? Because, unlike them, your authority comes
from the fact that you will suffer and die in the job, a martyr to justice and truth.
For this, all people come. JEFFREY BROWN: Francis captured the imagination
of many around the world, who wondered if this first pope from Latin America might move
the church in a new direction, among them, Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles. FERNANDO MEIRELLES, Director, “The Two Popes”:
I wanted to know more about him. I think he’s one of the most important voices in the world
today, because he sees the planet as a whole thing. He sees us as a brotherhood, and not
as different nationalities or — so, while everybody’s trying to build walls, he’s trying
to build bridges. And I love that idea. JEFFREY BROWN: Meirelles, who received an
Oscar nomination for best director of the 2002 film “City of God” worked from a script
by Anthony McCarten, who’d conceived the idea for “The Two Popes,” and knew he would have
to, in his words, tread carefully. You felt that? ANTHONY MCCARTEN, Writer, “The Two Popes”:
Well, yes. I was raised Catholic, Fernando also. We’re not — we wouldn’t profess to
be tremendous Catholics, but it’s in the bloodstream. And so I knew of the delicacies of the issues.
I grew up with them. JEFFREY BROWN: So, you tell us at the beginning
inspired by true events. So, how much is — what does that mean? How much is fact? How much
is speculation? ANTHONY MCCARTEN: What this film really is,
is that we know the stated positions on both popes on all various issues. My conceit was
to then put those — that into the form of dialogue, of a debate, of an intellectual
theological confrontation. And that was the sort of eureka moment: Let’s
bring these two together, because they did come together. JEFFREY BROWN: Benedict was the conservative,
and one whose papacy became mired in scandals both in and outside the Vatican. JUDY WOODRUFF: A butler, a banker and a growing
scandal at the Vatican. JEFFREY BROWN: Francis was seen as a reformer,
open to change on social issues. FERNANDO MEIRELLES: When I first read the
script, for me, Pope Benedict was the bad guy, and Pope Francis was the good guy, maybe
because I like Pope Francis. But then, working on the process of the film
and reading more about Benedict, I just started seeing some gray areas, and I start to understand. I don’t agree much with Pope Benedict, the
traditional point of view of the church, but I understand his point. He has a point. And
so the film is not black and white. ANTHONY HOPKINS: You know, the hardest thing
is to listen, to hear his voice, God’s voice. ANTHONY MCCARTEN: On one level, this movie
is about that debate, which is larger than the Catholic Church, which is raging around
the globe between the conservative approach and the progressive one. How I began to see them over time, however,
is, I started to see their similarities, the points of commonality between them. They both
grew up under dictatorships. They both had to work a path through it. JEFFREY BROWN: And so we see the young Bergoglio,
played by Juan Minujin, trying to steer a clean course through Argentina’s military
dictatorship. His failure to protect his priests from torture
and prison would haunt him. Director Meirelles saw the parallels in neighboring
Brazil. FERNANDO MEIRELLES: All of us have friends
that, I mean, lost friends or parents or relatives because of the dictatorship. So this was another
part of this script that I liked very much, being able to revisit the spirit in Argentina.
Same thing was happening in Brazil. JEFFREY BROWN: Inner struggles and verbal
jousting, a gorgeous setting, including a full recreation of the Sistine Chapel, and
in Hopkins and Pryce, two supremely talented actors offering a lesson in their craft. What do you do as a director when you have
actors like that? What is the direction? FERNANDO MEIRELLES: Try not to bother and
let them do what they knew how to do better than me. They’re very different in the way they approach
the part. Tony, Tony Hopkins, is very technical. He studies the part and the lines for months
before he is on set. ANTHONY HOPKINS: Do you know the Beatles? JONATHAN PRYCE: Yes, I know who they are. ANTHONY HOPKINS: Of course you do. JONATHAN PRYCE: “Eleanor Rigby.” ANTHONY HOPKINS: Who? JONATHAN PRYCE: “Eleanor Rigby.” ANTHONY HOPKINS: No, I don’t know her. FERNANDO MEIRELLES: He’s really obsessed with
the lines, with each word. He changes the words. He changed the pause in the line. And Jonathan, his preparation is more trying
to understand the character, to get the feeling, the smile, the movement. So, he — like he’s
incorporating Pope Francis. JONATHAN PRYCE: Christ did not come down from
the cross. ANTHONY HOPKINS: Ah, God always grants you
the right words. JONATHAN PRYCE: Oh, no, no. A pope must go
on forever, be the personification of the crucified Christ. If you do this, you will damage the papacy
forever. ANTHONY MCCARTEN: But they’re both fantastic. JEFFREY BROWN: I can’t remember a film where
I saw so many tight close-ups. Is that because you love their faces? Or why was that? FERNANDO MEIRELLES: Because they’re so good.
And it’s amazing how you can read what they’re thinking by their eyes and by their little
movements. I love to read faces. I mean, I’m very — I
always pay attention in faces. And I wanted to read their thoughts. JEFFREY BROWN: In the end, both director and
writer of “The Two Popes” felt they were dealing with a bigger story. ANTHONY MCCARTEN: The stories I’m drawn to
are intimate and epic at the same time. And this is a perfect example. These are themes of, how do we find common
ground between two people who are polar opposites? And I think the fate of the world at any given
moment relies upon the fact that there must be common ground found. JEFFREY BROWN: “The Two Popes” is streaming
now on Netflix. For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Jeffrey Brown
from the Toronto International Film Festival. AMNA NAWAZ: We close on this last Friday of
the year with reflections from writer Ada Limon on how there may be better ways to communicate
beyond texts and e-mails. Tonight, an encore of Limon’s Humble Opinion
about the radical hope she finds in poetry. ADA LIMON, Poet: These days, it seems like
all we do is read and write, or should I say scroll and post. And while some people have rigorously stuck
to the model of sharing only perfectly framed photos of peach Bellinis or pictures of homemade
pozole, for the most part, it seems that the one thing we consistently share is our outrage. Now, I’m not saying rage can’t be useful,
healthy, even necessary, but it is not lost on me that, at the same time we’re inundated
with diatribes and rants on our news feeds, on our televisions, people have been turning,
more and more, to poetry. At a time when language is often used only
as a blunt tool, poetry reminds us that language can also be used for nuance, mystery, and
even radical hope. Poetry is a place where both grief and grace
can live, where rage can be explored and examined, not simply exploited, like the lines from
one of Terrance Hayes’ poems called “American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin.” “Something happens everywhere in this country
every day. Someone is praying. Someone is prey.” Or how Jose Olivarez explores the danger of
his own anger in the lines of his poem, “Poem in Which I Become Wolverine.” “I know my rage is poison. I know it kills
me first. And, still, I love it and feed it.” Poetry isn’t a place of answers and easy solutions.
It’s a place where we can admit to an unknowing, own our private despair, and still, sometimes,
practice beauty. In my own work, I’m always trying to lean
toward the real questions, as in my poem “Dead Stars.” “Look, we are not unspectacular things. We
have come this far, survived this much. What would happen if we decided to survive more?” I believe people are reading more poetry because
we distrust the diatribe, the easy answer, the argument that holds only one note. Poetry
makes its music from specificity and empathy. It speaks to the whole complex notion of what
it means to be human. And that is exactly what we need more of these
days: a chance to be seen fully in both our rage and our humanity. AMNA NAWAZ: On the “NewsHour” online right
now: Black holes are some of the most mysterious objects in the universe, but researchers have
made huge strides over the past 10 years in understanding them. Learn why scientists say we have been living
in a golden age of black holes. That’s on our Web site, PBS.org/NewsHour. And coming up on “Washington Week”: As impeachment
enters a new phase, will any senators break ranks with their parties? And with 2020 finally
upon us, what issues will shape the elections? That’s all on the next “Washington Week.” And that is the “NewsHour” for tonight. I’m
Amna Nawaz. Join us again here on Monday evening. For
all of us at the “PBS NewsHour,” thank you, and we’ll see you soon.

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