Week In Politics: Hillary Clinton Emails, Donald Trump NPR's Melissa Block speaks with regular political commentators, E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post and Brookings Institution, and David Brooks of The New York Times. They discuss the latest with Hillary Clinton's emails, the Donald Trump phenomenon, economic issues and minimum wage increases.
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Week In Politics: Hillary Clinton Emails, Donald Trump

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Week In Politics: Hillary Clinton Emails, Donald Trump

Week In Politics: Hillary Clinton Emails, Donald Trump

Week In Politics: Hillary Clinton Emails, Donald Trump

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/425978745/425978746" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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NPR's Melissa Block speaks with regular political commentators, E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post and Brookings Institution, and David Brooks of The New York Times. They discuss the latest with Hillary Clinton's emails, the Donald Trump phenomenon, economic issues and minimum wage increases.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And let's turn now to our Friday political commentators, E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post and David Brooks of The New York Times. Good to see you both.

DAVID BROOKS: Good to see you.

E.J. DIONNE: Good to see you.

BLOCK: More headlines about Hillary Clinton's emails are not something that her campaign wants, of course. She was in New York City today for a speech about the economy. She was talking about getting away from the culture of what she calls quarterly capitalism, offering proposals to foster long-term growth, not short-term profits, but, again, largely drowned out by this complicated story of her emails again. David, how damaging do you think this is or isn't for her campaign?

BROOKS: Well, I don't think she's going to be kicked out of the race because she sent classified emails. I've sort of assumed she did. She was in the business of being secretary of state. There is a lot of classified material. She had all the stuff on a private server. She said she didn't send any classified materials, but that's really hard to believe. How she would - how could she go about her job if she didn't really do that? You know, I guess the calls are going to be for her to hand over the server, and I guess I do think she should do that. But the American people have looked at this and it hasn't particularly hurt her in the polls, at least so far.

BLOCK: E J, what's your take here?

DIONNE: Well, first of all, you see the damage of this leak, leak, leak today when all the attention was on these emails and not the speech she gave about long-term - we need a long-term thinking in capitalism, not just short-term trading. And so she had a whole proposal there earlier this week. She had a proposal on profit sharing. I think what you're going to see over time is Clinton sort of getting more direct with the Republicans in Congress and saying, look, these leaks appear to come from the committee. And it was a very strange day. It started out as a criminal investigation of Hillary Clinton. Then The New York Times had to change the story - no, it was just a criminal investigation on classification. Now it's not a criminal investigation at all. And it's really, I think, at bottom, a fight between the State Department and others over a few emails whether they should or should not be classified. And I think her only path is to do something like what happened under her husband, where over time the story became not about Bill Clinton, but about Ken Starr the prosecutor, Bob Barr and some of the other people who were pursuing him. And I think she's going to have to ratchet it up and say why are they spending tax money to investigate me to influence the campaign? And we'll see whether that works or not.

BROOKS: Yeah, I guess I think that the leaks are...

BLOCK: David - David, you're raising your eyebrows (laughter).

BROOKS: (Laughter) Well, the leaks are a secondary issue. How it comes out on the newspaper and what order it comes out, that's a secondary issue. The primary issue is character-logical - if that's a word. It's a matter of...

BLOCK: It is now.

BROOKS: It is now. If it's on NPR, it's a word.

DIONNE: It's a good word.

BROOKS: It's about her character. You know, she had played by different rules. She had her own server. She didn't do the normal things normal people normally do and there looks like a cover-up in the way she's deleted some of these emails. I'm sure a lot of them are personal. I sort of get that. But it's about the nature of her person. And so that's why I think handing over the server's ultimately the only way to get out from under the...

DIONNE: Could I just say quickly - I agree. It would have been way better if she had not had her own server. I think that was a mistake. And I think at a personal level - I was talking to a couple of supporters of Clinton this afternoon who basically said when you listen to her speak, she sounds way more passionate when she's talking about a policy proposal than when she talks about the personal stuff about her family and the like. And she does need to get much better than she is right now at talking about herself in that way because she does have an image issue or she's just got to turn around and say, I care a lot about policy that's good for you. But I think the best thing would be for the committee to have her come up and testify in the open, which she's been demanding. And that could settle a lot of these questions.

BLOCK: I want to turn our attention to the Republican side of the presidential race. We have heard a barrage of insults. It's been a field day for late night comedians and also for ALL THINGS CONSIDERED hosts like me.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

LINDSEY GRAHAM: Run for president, but don't be the world's biggest [expletive].

DONALD TRUMP: And then I watch this idiot Lindsey Graham on television today...

RICK PERRY: A cancer on conservatism...

TRUMP: Rick Perry should have to have an IQ test before getting on the debate stage.

GRAHAM: I think Donald Trump is a political car wreck.

TRUMP: What a stiff, what a stiff.

BLOCK: So, E.J. and David, we heard Donald Trump there trading insults with his rivals, Senator Lindsey Graham and former Texas Governor Rick Perry. Besides the sideshow aspect of this, David Brooks, what are we learning about the Republican electorate from Donald Trump's candidacy and his relative buoyancy in these very, very early polls?

BROOKS: A bunch of self-hating Republicans. All he's doing is attacking Republican candidates and he's zooming in the polls, so, you know, I think - I assume that the bubble will burst, that the exhaustion factor will set in. I confess, I've been assuming that for a couple weeks now and it hasn't really happened.

BLOCK: (Laughter) You may have to rethink your hypothesis. What do you think?

BROOKS: I know, but, you know, he's going to run out of candidates to attack. I mean, he'll hit Ben Carson and it'll be done - Rick Santorum - but eventually I do think there will be an exhaustion. I do think he's somewhat of a summer reality show. People like the fact that he's part of reality TV, that he goes after the establishment. They like the fact that he's obnoxious. There's always a market for that. And there's the little anti-immigration stuff. But, you know, the party that nominated Mitt Romney, are they really going to move to Donald Trump? I mean, it's a - still a kind of a straitlaced party. I think they'll be fine.

BLOCK: E J, Donald Trump has said he thinks he can win the Republican nomination. He has not, though, ruled out running as an independent if he says he - he is not being treated fairly by the Republicans. How likely a scenario do you think that is?

DIONNE: Well, I do want to say that in Trump's America, David and I would have to come on every week and call each other losers and morons. And I think...

BLOCK: That'd do wonders for our ratings.

DIONNE: But maybe we should try it - but...

BROOKS: Those are just thought bubbles right now.

(LAUGHTER)

DIONNE: Also the - I think the last two weeks have been approved by the Democratic National Committee. I mean, the tape you played was wonderful. I think that Trump has something over the Republicans. He has two things over the Republicans. One is this threat to run third-party. Perot didn't elect George H. W. Bush, but Trump could give Hillary Clinton a landslide. It's very clear that the bulk of his support comes from conservatives. And so he's using that as a threat against Republicans. The other thing he has going for him - and that was the Lindsey Graham story, the story with Rick Perry - all these Republicans used to love him, you know, and they didn't attack him when he was a birther. They're only attacking him now. And yes, he's saying outlandish things, but he used to say outlandish things. So I think he's going to keep rummaging around his files and showing all the requests Republicans made of him in the past. And it's a good way to put the rest of them down.

BLOCK: I want to spend a bit of time talking about the growing movement to raise the minimum wage around the country. David, you write about this today and you basically say be careful what you wish for. The laws of economic gravity, in your words, have not been suspended. What do you mean?

BROOKS: Well, there are a bunch of studies saying you can the raise minimum wage and you don't cost jobs. But there are also an equal number - if not equal - if not more studies saying they do and that if you raise the cost in labor, you're going to price - especially low-skill workers, single moms out of the labor force, you're going to create a lot of losers and winners. The Congressional Budget Office, which is a reasonably good objective standard here, said raising the minimum wage would get 900,000 people out of poverty. It would also destroy 500,000 jobs. So my point was just there are costs here. And if you raise it to $15 - as New York State seems to be about to - in low-wage areas like upstate New York, it seems to me you're going to push a lot of people out of jobs, exactly the sort of people we want to get into the labor market so they can move on and achieve middle-class status. One study I read on - from the University of San Diego - or California, San Diego said that two years later, a lot of those low-skill workers are much less likely to achieve middle-class status because they can't get in the labor market at all.

BLOCK: And, E J, briefly, the last word goes to you.

DIONNE: In 1968, we had the highest minimum wage in real terms in this country. The growth rate was 4.97 percent. The unemployment rate was 3.6 percent. If the higher minimum wage is for us, why are those numbers the numbers that we had? I want to challenge David. He admires George Osborne, the conservative chancellor of the Exchequer in Britain. Osborne just called for an increase of - in minimum wage. Yes, it's a good idea, David. You should join your friend Mr. Osborne, and I just engage in innocence by association.

BLOCK: OK, to be continued. E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post and Brookings Institution, David Brooks of The New York Times, have a great weekend.

DIONNE: Thank you.

BROOKS: Thank you.

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