November 6, 2000
JIM LEHRER: Now some final thoughts here and to bring Mark Shields and Paul Gigot back into it with David, David and Tom. Mark, starting with you, keeping in mind that we don't know the result yet, how do you think this campaign will be remember ed or should be remembered in your opinion?
MARK SHIELDS: Well, in spite of Vice President Gore's statement earlier in the show that we'll tell our grandchildren about the campaign, I don't think many people will be telling their grandchildren. Jim, it was a campaign that was devoid of any poetry. It was a campaign where sacrifice was never whispered. There was no mention of duty, of what any of us owes to our country, to our community. There was no call for any sacrifice from either candidate. It was a campaign about interest. George Bush talked about values, but it was basically about "this is your interest. You want it, you got it." In that sense, I think both of them missed a marvelous opportunity at a time of great prosperity to touch what is really in good in the American people and to summon us to a little bit higher level.
JIM LEHRER: David Broder?
DAVID BRODER: I have to disagree with Mark. I mean, these are not times that call for great emotion or passion or even great idealism. And what I think we saw here, with at least three candidates-- - Ralph Nader, George Bush, and Al Gore-- was three men who made the best possible cases from their own perspectives. I think if the voters do as well as these candidates, we'll have a good election.
JIM LEHRER: Tom Oliphant?
TOM OLIPHANT: I think David Broder is on to something here. I believe this election will be remembered as not an atypical open White House election without an incumbent, where two very powerful historical trends kind of bumped into each other. One, it's so hard for a sitting Vice President to get elected President. We kick them all over the lot every time this happens. And secondly, it's almost unheard of for the out party to win in prosperous times. This is not a unique situation, but it's only happened three times in the last 32 years.
JIM LEHRER: Paul Gigot?
PAUL GIGOT: I'm in the Broder-Oliphant camp on this one. I think it's been a pretty good campaign. I think the voters got a good sense of the issues on all sides, a good sense of the personalities of the candidates. Both I thought did a pretty good job of articulating their positions, certainly better than on the Republican side, since this happened in a long time, maybe since 1980. If Bush wins, I think it will be remembered, though, for how Bush persuaded a contented country that it wanted change, because 3.9% unemployment, you don't really... as Tom said, it's very hard to make the argument to change Presidents when you have kind of a fundamental.
JIM LEHRER: David Brooks.
DAVID BROOKS: I'm onto Mark Shields, he cannot stand the smallness of this election. Watching the whole race has reminded of sort of the ad campaigns for the cellular phone company rate plans; you know, my plan gives you more choices; my plan gives you free prescription drugs on weekends and holidays. It's just the smallness of the consumer orientation of the election. And, really, the two moments that shall stand out to me are the McCain moment and the Lieberman moment. Those are the two surprising things that happened. They were both passionate moments, one having to do with patriotism, one having to do with faith. And that was a sort of politics which was utterly missing from really the main characters of the campaign.
JIM LEHRER: Mark?
MARK SHIELDS: Let me associate myself totally with Mr. Brooks' remarks and add that since John McCain... I couldn't disagree more strenuously with David Broder whom I have unlimited respect for since John McCain left the race, I defy him or anybody else to any time when any candidate stood before a group, other than Ralph Nader, and told that group anything they didn't want to hear, when they said no to any interest or any organized group - I mean, that's what this campaign has been about.
JIM LEHRER: David?
DAVID BRODER: I think when Governor Bush said... it was difficult for him that he had done something really wrong and was apologetic and having gone to Bob Jones University without repudiating the anti-Catholicism that has come out of that campus, I thought that was a pretty good moment.
JIM LEHRER: Mark?
MARK SHIELDS: David, I just have to say that it was bowing to pressure that there are a lot more Catholics in the United States whose votes he was seeking than there were alumni or fallen alumni of Bob Jones University.
JIM LEHRER: Tom, do you have any magic moments?
TOM OLIPHANT: Well, actually, I always look for a moment that tells me it's time to end this thing. And I was in an ironworkers hall Saturday night, "get out the vote" meeting, and the karaoke came on. And I had to watch the Governor of New Hampshire, Jeanne Shaheen and her husband Billy doing "I've Got You, Babe." ( Laughter ) And as they butchered that song, I said to myself, "time to stop."
JIM LEHRER: Do you have a moment, David Brooks?
DAVID BROOKS: Not quite as romantic and tearful as that one, but I'd just like to go back to the Broder/Shields feud here. It's not only that they do something unpopular, but it's the questions that weren't asked. America is not just Belgium floating off in the middle of country. We're a superpower. Where does America stand in the 21st century? Where should America's power be exercised? It seems to me the larger questions of what our national identity is-- what our greatness is - issues like immigration, globalization-- those larger issues struck me as being ignored in the debate really... important debate what about Social Security and tax reform, which is really a bidding war style debate.
JIM LEHRER: Paul was shaking his head throughout your remark, David.
PAUL GIGOT: This is what we hear at every single election: "The great issues weren't engaged somehow." I mean, in fact, greater issues were engaged this time than a long time. Social Security - when was the last time we actually had an argument over that? Republicans have fled from that since Barry Goldwater lost...
JIM LEHRER: The third rail you mean?
PAUL GIGOT: Nobody would touch that. But Bush did touch that. He put
it on the table. The fact that you can argue that he didn't -- that
he didn't say -- what the math in 2050 would look like. Nonetheless,
JIM LEHRER: David Broder, was there a low moment for you, when you kind of had to cringe and turn away from this campaign for a moment?
DAVID BROOKS: Yes. I thought that at the Democratic Convention when we had the spectacle of entertainment-- not really entertainment, that's the wrong word-- of the President of the United States who had been served loyally by Al Gore for eight years and could barely bring himself to put in a plug for the Vice President, he was so busy reciting the triumphs of his own career. That to me was not a very fine moment.
JIM LEHRER: Well, on David Broder's low moment, we will leave it there. Thank you all five very much.