New York Times columnist David Brooks called the current presidential campaign the most dispiriting he has ever covered during his visit to Nebraska.
Brooks, a conservative columnist for the Times, delivered a lecture Tuesday night as part of the E.N. Thompson Forum on World Issues at the Lied Center in Lincoln.
Prior to the speech, Brooks sat down with reporters at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln Student Union.
Brooks said he has been traveling the United States, attempting to listen to those supporting Republican Donald Trump. Brooks sees a connection between political disenchantment and the campaign of Trump.
“A lot of people who support him think, he’s a blowhard, he talks too much, makes a fool out of himself, but he’s my only ticket to change,” according to Brooks. “So, they’re willing to tolerate a lot of his weaknesses, because they just need a change.”
Brooks, who said “My head would explode” when asked about what a Trump presidency might look like, said Trump has shifted the political argument from small government versus big government to an open society versus a closed society.
Brooks said Democrat Hillary Clinton has had trouble capitalizing on Trump’s unfavorable ratings, because she has too many unfavorables of her own. Brooks said Clinton could be more popular if she trusted anybody.
“She’s brittle. She’s untrusting. She dislikes the media intensely, which her husband does not,” Brooks said. “She dislikes most Democrats. Her zone of trust is super small. And, as a result, it’s very hard to relate to her.”
Brooks said Clinton is also hurt by the perception she embodies the pinnacle of the East Coast elite.
Though conservative, Brooks opposes Trump and praised the stance taken by Sen. Ben Sasse, who has consistently opposed Trump, refusing to back him even after he won his party’s nomination.
Brooks believes Sasse will be vindicated.
“I presume that Donald Trump will still lose. I think that’s still 75% likely,” Brooks said. “I think, when the political defeat happens, politically Sasse’s position will look like the right position and then I think substantively I personally don’t think Donald Trump is fit to be president and I think that will become the 90% view after he loses, even among Republicans.”
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]
AUDIO: NY Times columnist David Brooks delivers a lecture in the E.N. Thompson Forum on World Issues. [50 minutes]