JIM LEHRER: That brings us finally to a finally for Shields and Gigot: Syndicated Columnist, Mark Shields, Wall Street Journal Columnist, Paul Gigot.
Paul, how would you rate the performance of our government's leaders in this moment of incredible crisis?
PAUL GIGOT: I would give them very good marks both Capitol Hill and the President. I think it's really a test on foreign policy for the President above all because he is the commander in chief. And I think Bush has done the things that you expect of a commander in chief. He has been visible, been present, been reassuring.
No question about that. Some of the criticism early that he didn't go quickly enough back to the White House, I think -- I find that nit-picking. I think he was there in the evening when he should have been for the Oval Office address. I don't know what the Secret Service was telling him about the threats that really were there for him.
And I think his rhetoric has been appropriate to the event, both in a consoling sense for the nation, especially today at the National Cathedral, and also in terms of defining the stakes as we go out in the future on this and the real risks that we have to take and the potential for conflict.
JIM LEHRER: Mark, how do you feel the President is doing?
MARK SHIELDS: Jim, I don't think the President has seized the moment. He hasn't made a connection with the people. He hasn't established a sense of command. I think Tuesday was important because it was the first real crisis of George Bush's presidency. And whether subsequent events indicate that there was a real threat or whatever, the fact that he didn't return to the White House, didn't return to Washington, and he has lacked any sense of eloquence.
David McCullough, the historian, said that great Presidents basically have a great ability to communicate and to speak. Lincoln, Wilson, Roosevelt, Reagan, and I was thinking of Reagan in the sense of January 28, 1986, when the "Challenger" went down. Ronald Reagan spoke for the nation. That's what a President has to do -- as they waved good-bye and slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God. That spoke for everybody at the time. The President hasn't established the tone.
And the problem for him is that, Paul's right, as commander in chief, that's an important part of the job, but the President is also a chaplain, is also a coach, is also someone who has to inspire and explain. I don't think he has done that and Rudy Giuliani, the Mayor of New York, so aptly described by Paula Span in the "Washington Post" as Winston Churchill in a Yankees cap, has filled that role remarkably well. And it stood in contrast.
JIM LEHRER: What about today, Paul's point about the President's remarks at the National Cathedral and also to the workers in New York?
MARK SHIELDS: I thought the New York event, I'm glad he went. It just seems he's a day late each place. I don't mean to be nit-picking on him, but the New York thing, talking at a moment like that at a place like that through rough a bull sound-- what the what do you call it?
PAUL GIGOT: Bullhorn.
JIM LEHRER: Mega horn, whatever, yeah.
MARK SHIELDS: Bullhorn - now, it just didn't seem appropriate. I thought the National Cathedral service was moving and touching and I thought he did better than he had done at any point up to that point.
JIM LEHRER: Is he nit picking?
PAUL GIGOT: Saying he was 24 hours late to go to New York, sorry, Mark I do think that is nit picking. I listened to the National Cathedral in the car, the speech in the car, following Billy Graham's -- who was eloquent I thought. It brought a tear to my eye. I thought he spoke for the nation. And some of this, people say he doesn't fill the screen.
Well, that sounds like TV criticism more than it does actually criticism of leadership. Leadership is provided in many ways. I mean ultimately the leadership is going to be defined here I think by can you marshal a coalition to do, to accomplish the goals that you want? Can you maintain the political support from within the United States and within the allies to do what you need to do?
JIM LEHRER: Would you say, Mark, that there's an additional responsibility?
MARK SHIELDS: There's an enormous additional --
JIM LEHRER: You'd agree on that.
PAUL GIGOT: Yeah.
MARK SHIELDS: Jim, if there is anything this country has to have learned that it isn't an army that fights a war; it's a nation that fights a war.
PAUL GIGOT: Sure.
MARK SHIELDS: And what other sacrifice is this President going to ask of us? I mean are any of us going to have to give up our pinot grigio or whatever else? I mean is there going to be any imposition saying this is collective? We're not just hiring these young Hessians in the volunteer force to go out there? Are we going to ask the nation to make real sacrifices other than the inconvenience of added security at the airport?
PAUL GIGOT: Well, you have to know what you want to accomplish. You have to sit down and say this is what the task at hand is. And right now we're in the process of trying to figure out exactly what the task at hand is, though we know the kind of conflict we're in.
I think as far as defining that conflict and saying these are acts of war, saying this is the first war of the 21st century, I think he has rhetorically raised the stakes for himself but also for the country and he has told the country this is serious business. That's the first act of leadership.
JIM LEHRER: Let me ask you this, Paul. Much has been said since Tuesday that this whole situation changes dramatically and permanently the priorities of the United States, all the talk about lock boxes and Social Security and tax cuts and everything that we were talking about endlessly on this program and elsewhere is suddenly off the table forever as far as this administration and for the present.
PAUL GIGOT: Forever is a long time but for the next while, absolutely. No question -- in an instant. I mean you see it on the Capitol Hill. It changed the priorities. John Negraponte, the President's nominee to be the U.N. Ambassador was going to be a fight. He slipped through the Senate.
JIM LEHRER: Voice vote.
PAUL GIGOT: Social Security surplus, both parties agree we can't possibly touch the Social Security....
JIM LEHRER: Appropriations bill. ....
PAUL GIGOT: Conventional wisdom in the city. Defense budget, no increase, very little -- nothing. Now $40 billion just like that. This makes it much easier just in policy terms for Secretary Rumsfeld to get the money he wants to not just to fight this particular war on terrorism, but also to do military reform.
JIM LEHRER: Reform the military. What is your view?
MARK SHIELDS: Two points. One, bipartisanship is demanded by the American people right now. That works to the President's advantage. The President has the leverage; he has the advantage. He is our one voice on foreign policy. So anybody on Capitol Hill who appears partisan in sniping or criticism is going to pay a political price. As long as the President isn't criticized in any political dialogue, it is a one-sided dialogue.
The President is going to prosper politically. So make no mistake about that. But will it be-- a day is a lifetime in politics, Jim and a week is an eternity. And Paul is right. There is a sense of unity now, but we will return-- George W. Bush was elected at a time of peace and prosperity. Eight months into his presidency prosperity is at risk and peace took a serious and tragic body blow on Tuesday.
PAUL GIGOT: I think it changes the dialogue as well away from that economic problem, which I think would have hurt Bush. And now that is secondary. I don't think he is going to get blamed as much for that.
JIM LEHRER: Speaking of Tuesday. A personal. Paul, you were in New York. You were in the process of finding an apartment. Tell us the story of your Tuesday morning.
PAUL GIGOT: I took the 6:00 shuttle up to New York. I had some meetings and some apartment hunt hunting in the morning.
JIM LEHRER: Remind people. You have become the editor of the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal. You were getting situated. Go ahead.
PAUL GIGOT: Supposed to start Monday. Started a little early as it turned out. But I was up there. Our offices are right next to the World Trade Center, a couple hundred yards away. I parked there at 7:30. Got my coffee, went through the e-mail, walked outside, caught a cab, curled around past the West Side Highway, curled around the World Trade Center, was probably about a half mile to a mile away, from behind and I heard this whoosh -- boom.
And that's when the first plane hit. And shortly thereafter my cab driver saw it in his rear-view mirror, jumped up said oh, my God. We both walked out and looked and we saw the gaping hole.
JIM LEHRER: And then what happened to you and your colleagues at the Wall Street Journal?
PAUL GIGOT: Well, we sort of couldn't believe what happened - like everybody else -- looking and staring. I went up to a building and tried to get a better look, and on the way up the second one hit. So none of the phones-- my cell phone didn't work. We went to a land line, called my boss, Bob Bartley and we laid out a game plan where we were going to produce the paper from our emergency, this was a long time in planning, emergency plant in New Jersey.
So I said with all the bridges and tunnels closed over the Hudson, I think I'll go north. So I went North, took a train to Yonkers, took a cab from Yonkers to White Plains, rented a car, drove to New Jersey and got there and we put out a paper.
JIM LEHRER: Well, the other personal thing, of course is that this ends, tonight ends eight years of your collaboration of Shields and Gigot. And I wanted to tell you from our point of view, it has been a great eight years, and we are going to miss you. And Mark wanted to say something nice.
MARK SHIELDS: Well, people ask me about Paul, and I said, of him, and I'll say it again. It is the highest praise that a Boston Irishman can ever deliver. He has never forgotten where he came from.
JIM LEHRER: Green Bay, Wisconsin.
MARK SHIELDS: Green Bay, Wisconsin, in the best sense, and he's not -- there is none of the pretense or the pomposity or anything that one might associate understandably with someone who's had such a spectacular and successful career. A Pulitzer Prize.
JIM LEHRER: We took great pride in that because that was last year and, yeah, yeah.
MARK SHIELDS: So, I, you know, he has been a good colleague and a fair colleague. I wish him nothing but the best in New York. He'll knock 'em dead.
JIM LEHRER: He'll knock 'em dead. Just for the record, and tell everybody, I mean the Friday night relationship ends, but we're going to be on the phone to you to appear and you will always be part of this program, Paul. And, you know, it's okay to be editor of the editorial page and appear on this program from time to time.
PAUL GIGOT: It certainly is from my point of view. You're both very generous and it has been my privilege. I think Mark is pleased that I have been his straight man for eight years.
JIM LEHRER: Anyhow, our best to you my friend and we look forward to seeing you again many, many times.
PAUL GIGOT: It has been my pleasure, really.