AMNA NAWAZ: To delve further into the latest in former President Trump's legal woes, the debate over parents' influence in schools, and the future of TikTok in the U.S., we turn now to the analysis of Brooks and Capehart.
That is New York Times columnist David Brooks, and Jonathan Capehart, associate editor for The Washington Post.
And welcome to you both.
It's good to see you.
Jonathan, I want to start with you and pick up where Lisa's report left off, this whole issue of parental rights.
It has come to mean so much.
And I just want to start with some definitions.
So let's just talk about this debate and where it is right now and what that phrase, parental rights, means to you, how you look at this issue.
JONATHAN CAPEHART: Well, to me, when I hear parental rights, I keep thinking, what happened to the PTA, parent-teachers associations?
Why, all of a sudden, is this an issue?
And I think it's an issue, given who they're targeting, because they need a foil.
The far right needs a foil.
That's not to say that parents don't have concerns about what their kids are learning in classrooms.
It just seems like, from Governor Ron DeSantis in Florida, to Governor Huckabee in Arkansas, to the Republican-led House of Representatives, it seems like they have a problem specifically with trans kids.
And what I have a problem with is that the party of life, the party of respect for family and individual freedom has no problem putting a target on the backs of trans kids and their families.
And so, when I hear parental rights, I think parental rights for whom?
AMNA NAWAZ: David, what do you think about that?
DAVID BROOKS: Yes, well, there's a lot of crazy stuff going on in the schools, a lot of the book banning and stuff like that, the not teaching Black history and things like that.
So I want to bracket that aside and say that stuff is outrageous.
Nonetheless, there is a core problem here is that, during COVID, a lot of parents got to look at what their kids were doing because the classroom turned into the living room, and they didn't like a lot of what they saw.
And so public school enrollment is down by $1.4 million; 60-odd percent of parents say they want more control over their kids' learning.
It used to be Democrats had a solid advantage in, who do you trust in schools?
That advantage is gone.
And so there's been some sort of seismic shift on a lot of parents who are disillusioned.
Most are fine with the school.
Most hate it when politics gets in -- put in the school.
But there is a sense there's something that they want more control over.
And so that's the legit part of this.
And I think what the core problem here in reference to this bill is, parents and teachers have to be in cooperation, and there has to be trust.
And I understand the cost, but if a school is withholding, is keeping important things about their kids secret from the parents, that's going to destroy trust, and you're going to get the reaction we have seen.
AMNA NAWAZ: Can I just go back to the thing you wanted to bracket out, all those other issues?
DAVID BROOKS: Yes.
AMNA NAWAZ: But they are bracketed in.
They are under the umbrella of this issue, right?
DAVID BROOKS: Right.
And so I'm saying that you have got to go parent by parent, case by case.
And so there's a lot of clearly wedge issue stuff going on here .But there's also a lot of parents who legitimately think, the values of my school are different than my values.
I just want some representation here, or I want some say in how my kids are being taught.
And they don't feel they're getting it.
So you can have -- it's a bunch of different issues all at once, I would say.
AMNA NAWAZ: There is, when you take a broader look, Jonathan, to your point, this is all happening against the backdrop of a number of Republican state legislatures nationwide proposing and pushing through bills that do center on transgender youth, right?
This is a map just out this week from the Human Rights Campaign.
They now estimate, of all the transgender kids across the country aged 13 to 17, just that age group, more than half of them now live in a state where they have either already lost access to or could lose access to gender-affirming care.
It's over 50 percent now.
And, Jonathan, I want to turn to you on this,because that's a striking number, first of all, when you think of the sheer volume of children who are impacted by that.
But I'm wondering why you think this particular issue resonates so deeply right now.
JONATHAN CAPEHART: Because it makes people feel uncomfortable.
Let's just be perfectly frank about it.
It makes people uncomfortable.
But just because you're uncomfortable doesn't mean that you then target what makes you uncomfortable.
And by target, you're targeting kids.
You're targeting the families of those kids, making it impossible for them to get health care in their own home state, making it almost impossible for them to go out of state, criminalizing, in some cases, going out of state to get care.
All these kids and their families want are for these trans kids to be able to go to school like everyone else, learn like everyone else, and be left alone like everyone else, if possible, and to be able to learn in a classroom environment where there's neither a target on their back or they're not being denied the full history, the full curriculum that they're supposed to be taught.
The problem I have with what's been happening in the states, and particularly with this congressional bill, is that the language is so vague.
In that report, the person said, it doesn't specify names of books and things.
Well, no, it leaves it up to the discretion of whoever the person is complaining.
And so I think what needs to happen is that people need to -- those really concerned parents, not only do they need to keep rising up.
They need allies to rise up with them to add to their numbers, because there are more people who care about those children and care about their education than the rabble-rousing parents who are putting the targets on their backs.
DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I mean, it's insane that we're having the education debate we're having right now.
And so if you look at what happened, if you look at New York City schools, 41 percent of kids were chronically truant.
If you look at what's happened across American schools over the last few years -- we spent 20 years doing education reform, trying to lift scores.
All those gains were erased through COVID and over the last year or two.
That's going to alter the lives, the GDP of this country for decades.
And so we're in the middle of an education, I don't want to say catastrophe, but a real setback in the way our kids are doing.
And we're talking about this, the transgender stuff.
AMNA NAWAZ: But that's where Republicans are choosing to focus, right?
DAVID BROOKS: Right, exactly.
AMNA NAWAZ: Yes.
DAVID BROOKS: And so, as I say, I sometimes think that the parents -- this issue didn't - - surprised Republicans.
When Glenn Youngkin ran for governor of Virginia, he didn't think he was going to run on schools, but so many parents were coming to him, he ran on schools, and he ended up winning.
AMNA NAWAZ: Yes.
DAVID BROOKS: But it is still insane that this is what we're talking about, if we're going to talk about schools.
AMNA NAWAZ: We're clearly going to be talking about it for many weeks and months to come.
I do want to turn to news out of the Manhattan district attorney's office this week, though, because, just today -- we know Alvin Bragg, in the way of background, has been probing the hush money payment made to a woman who said she was having an affair with a former President Trump.
Just today, NBC was reporting that Bragg received a death threat in the mail to his office that contained a white powder.
The DA's office had a statement issued that said it was not dangerous.
But this does come on the heels of Mr. Trump and Republicans ramping up their attacks on Alvin Bragg.
Jonathan, we do not know if this letter and those attacks are -- the verbal attacks in any way are connected, but it is a really disturbing development.
JONATHAN CAPEHART: It is a disturbing development.
No, we don't know that there is a direct connection.
But let's -- come on, let's face it.
At 1:08 this morning, the former president of the United States sent out a raging social media post filled with threats of violence and invective against the Manhattan DA, one of many that he's done all week.
There's no -- we can't draw a line between the two, a direct line, but you can't separate the two.
What the former president is doing is outrageous.
The fact that Republicans won't roundly criticize him for doing so and condemning what he's doing and standing up for the rule of law is outrageous.
And I think we all need to take Donald Trump's statements about the Manhattan DA and other DAs who are going -- who are investigating him, we have to take it seriously.
He called for action in January 6, and we saw what happened.
We cannot afford to let that happen again.
AMNA NAWAZ: David, that TRUTH Social post we put up had Mr. Trump saying there could be potential death and destruction if he was indicted on these charges.
And, today, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries has said he's worried that Mr. Trump is going to get someone killed.
Are you worried about that?
DAVID BROOKS: Absolutely.
I thought I was beyond the ability to be shocked by Donald Trump.
But when I woke up this morning and read that, the only word that leapt to mind was barbaric and definitely inciteful.
If anything was inciteful, what he's done is inciteful.
And so it's just shocking.
It should also be said that there's a reason he's doing it, which is that two, three weeks ago, he had maybe a 10-point advantage on Ron DeSantis.
And now, if you look at some of the average of the polls, it's up to 25 points.
And some of that is DeSantis going down, but Trump has gone up.
And so this whole indictment talk is helping Trump politically.
AMNA NAWAZ: I want to ask you as well about the TikTok hearing on Capitol Hill.
I know you were following it all.
And there has been a concerted effort.
There were a number of, actually, hearings on the House side that same day focused on China.
How did you look at those, David?
DAVID BROOKS: Yes.
We're in the middle of a cold war with China.
And this has happened over two administrations, but especially with the Biden administration.
It's now official U.S. policy -- and I support it.
I'm just saying how stark and dramatic we should take it -- official U.S. policy to ban semi -- or the chips and the technology used to make the chips that could go into a phone, a car, a toaster, or a missile, or a drone, or A.I.
So we are now really trying to crack down on not the Chinese military, but the Chinese economy, because there's really no difference between these two things.
So that is just a very stark thing.
So, if you're wondering, were we in a cold war?
Well, we were against the Soviets.
We're now behaving like we are against China.
And I think we are with the Chinese.
And it tends to hit technology most.
TikTok, G5, chips, green energy, that's the battlefield in this cold war.
Who controls the technology?
AMNA NAWAZ: Jonathan, we have got about 30 seconds left.
Do you see it the same way?
We're in a cold war with China now?
JONATHAN CAPEHART: Well, when David puts it like that, yes.
How could I argue?
Also because of what we have seen with what China has done on the diplomatic front in the last few weeks.
The deal that China brokered between I think it was Saudi Arabia and Iran, huge deal.
I remember -- I'm old enough to remember when the United States used to seek deals like that.
Now it's the Chinese.
AMNA NAWAZ: Jonathan Capehart, David Brooks, always good to see you both.
Thank you so much.
JONATHAN CAPEHART: Thanks, Amna.