For the past several decades, David Brooks has made a living out of out of whitewashing the atrocities we've seen from his party, and finding a way to pretend that there is always some equal and balancing offense that Democrats or those on the left have committed to counter any criticism of Republicans. Sadly for Brooks though, the arrival of Donald Trump -- who just tossed out all of the dog whistles for blow horns, and who is so incompetent that even Brooks can't find enough lipstick to put on that pig -- has made his job of playing the "both sides" false equivalency game next to impossible.
That didn't stop Brooks from continuing to pretend that there are members of the Republican party who might finally do the right thing and stand up to Trump -- or impeach him, depending on what's in Mueller's final report -- on this Friday's PBS Newshour:
Judy Woodruff: Hello to both of you. So, there's a lot of news tonight. It's Friday, as we have seen on a lot of Fridays, David.
The special counsel, Robert Mueller, and not only he, but the Southern District of New York, the prosecutors there, have made public what they call filings that detail activities by people who are close to the president, specifically Michael Cohen, who's his former lawyer. And later on, we had another filing about Paul Manafort.
We have been listening, trying to — rapidly reading through this. What do we think it adds up to? What does it tell us?
David Brooks: First, these guys are not very good cooperators. If you're going to cooperate, cooperate.
But Manafort is going to jail probably for the rest of his life, and Cohen is getting a healthy sentence, because he sort of semi-cooperated, something like that.
But I think what we're seeing is the pace ramp up on a lot of fronts. They are clearly interested, and they're more contacts than we knew with Russia in 2015 with the campaign, the so-called synergy they apparently found, and then especially the business dealings, Trump's dealings in Moscow.↓ Story continues below ↓
And my instinct is that there's going to be a lot more investigation into business than there is into Russia collusion. There's just a lot more there.
And the other sense you get is a lot of Republicans are looking at this White House, and they are seeing an administration under a lot of judicial and legal threat and a lot under political threat, and they see a White House Counsel's Office that is denuded of authority and people.
And then what they call the membrane around Trump is failing. And the membrane is the group of people they put around Trump to protect him from themselves. And over the years, the Hope Hicks of the world and maybe in the next few days the John Kellys of the world are going and gone.
And so you see a Trump unprotected from himself. And you're beginning to see a lot of Republicans who are looking seriously at 2019, with a lot of Fridays like this one, and Trump really hurting himself and maybe not serving out the term.
Who is going to impeach him? Republicans? Not a chance in hell. And good luck getting Trump to step down. That's not happening. And Hope Hicks and John Kelly were some sort of moderating force with Trump? Really? If that was "protecting him from himself," I'd hate to see what he looks like unleashed.
Mark Shields responded with a dose of reality when it comes to whether or not any Republicans will stand up to Trump.
Mark Shields: I have yet to see that kind of independence on the part of Republicans. I have seen the concern there, but it's Donald Trump's party. It really is. I mean, there's no question. It's the Mark Sanford experience of 2018 that has burnt into the mind and the consciousness of every Republican who is looking at 2020.
That is the idea that Donald Trump, with just the snap of a finger or an unfortunate or unflattering comment, can cost you renomination in your own Republican primary. Sanford had been a governor, been a member of the House, and just by Trump's kind of dismissive comments, lost the primary.
And it made no difference that his party ended up losing the general. That's where the concern is. I do not see that streak of independence, other than by those who are leaving. I have yet to see it among those who are looking to 2020.
To which Brooks responded by admitting none of them are going to stand up to Trump publicly. It doesn't matter what they say behind closed doors if they're scared to death of Trump going after them, along with his allies on Fox and hate-talk radio that Brooks describes here:
David Brooks: But in private, it took them a while to really digest the election results and what it meant that Democrats control the House.
And then — and so what you see is that there's going to ramp up the political pressure. The Southern District may be more important than Mueller. You just got a legal — and then there's more fear, worry, almost mania, in the White House, as they feel all the safety guardrails coming out.
And so they really don't know what's going to happen. And to me, the including thing — the crucial thing over the next year — or a crucial thing — is how the base Republicans react if there are indictments, if there is a political catastrophe, if people start leaving the White House in droves.
The Republican base is still very pro-Trump. On the talk radio circuit, they're getting rid of anyone like Mike Medved, who is a radio — right-wing conservative radio jockey who is not pro-Trump. They're replacing him with pro-Trump.
"The Weekly Standard," a magazine I used to work at, it may be closed because it's not sufficiently pro-Trump.
So what you see is the Republican base going so pro-Trump, at the exact moment when it's possible the wheels are coming off the whole thing.
So in other words, his base isn't going anywhere. They don't care what he does and won't believe any criticism of him anyway because they all get their news from Fox, right wing radio and wingnut web sites. So, Republicans aren't going to do jack because they're scared to death of their base who still loves Trump.
Don't hold your breath waiting for Trump to leave office David, unless it's a scenario like the one painted by Jennifer Rubin, where he slides out the door at the last minute just so he can get a pardon from Pence. Otherwise, he's not going anywhere.