Shields and Brooks on immigration ban court defeat, Democrats’ confirmation hearing opposition

Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week’s news, including the decision by a federal appeals court to deny the Trump administration’s request to reinstate an immigration ban, President Trump’s comments attacking judges and the contentious battles in the Senate over Cabinet nominees.


Lamar Alexander limited questions of Betsy De Vos to 5 minutes.

Americans have seen the last four presidents as illegitimate. Here’s why.

It’s tempting to see the entirety of Donald Trump’s story as unprecedented, but when he is sworn in today as the nation’s 45th president, he will be our fourth consecutive leader to assume the office with a segment of the electorate questioning his legitimacy. On that score, Trump doesn’t represent a new crisis for American democracy but rather an escalation of one that’s been building — one that we’ve all played a role in creating and that he has deftly exploited to his advantage.

After the 1992 election, Senate Minority Leader Bob Dole said President-elect Bill Clinton did not have a mandate to press ahead with any sweeping changes because he’d obtained only 43 percent of the popular vote in a three-way race.

.. There was no disputing the mandate conferred upon Barack Obama by his resounding 2008 win, so the questioning of our first African American president’s legitimacy swirled around the underhanded, racially motivated and absurd allegations — peddled by our current president-elect, among others — that Obama wasn’t a natural-born citizen. Newt Gingrich spoke for many in 2010 when he accused the president of being beyond the American mainstream, pursuing instead a “Kenyan, anti-colonial” worldview.

.. Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations, unlike those that came before them, had to navigate in a political environment shaped by

  • the close of the Cold War,
  • the rise of instantaneous, doomsday-style political fundraising,
  • the emergence of a highly balkanized and ubiquitous 24/7 media, and
  • the disruption of traditional politics by the Internet and social media.

.. It is much easier to get people to send you $20 if you accuse the president of being a threat to the American way of life instead of an honorable man with whom you happen to disagree on a certain topic.

.. Fox News launched in 1996 to challenge the cautious objectivity of CNN

We need to prepare for abnormal being the new normal, politics-wise

Trump’s ascension to the White House feels more like the beginning of something than the end of it to me.  The instability of our long-standing institutions, coupled with the creeping anxiety caused by a steady drumbeat of terrorist attacks — the latest coming in Istanbul on New Year’s Eve — and a sense that the American Dream is fading away, creates a political climate in which nontraditional politicians promising the world hold massive appeal.  In short: I think we’ll see more Trump-like figures in politics, not less. And that a return to some sort of normal never really comes.

.. As the 2016 election showed, pollsters’ ability to accurately determine what the electorate will look like is weaker than at any time in recent memory. There are lots of technical reasons for that difficulty — and lots of smart people in the polling industry working to figure out solutions. But for now, best to proceed with caution when it comes to polls and what they do or don’t tell us.

Partisan Bias in Factual Beliefs about Politics

Partisanship seems to affect factual beliefs about politics. For example, Republicans are more likely than Democrats to say that the deficit rose during the Clinton administration; Democrats are more likely to say that inflation rose under Reagan. We investigate whether such patterns reflect differing beliefs among partisans or instead reflect a desire to praise one party or criticize another. We develop a model of partisan survey response and report two experiments that are based on the model. The experiments show that small payments for correct and “don’t know” responses sharply diminish the gap between Democrats and Republicans in responses to “partisan” factual questions. The results suggest that the apparent differences in factual beliefs between members of different parties may be more illusory than real.