Jim Lehrer talks to Mark Shields and Paul Gigot about Pat Buchanan, Jack Kemp, and other matters Conventional.
JIM LEHRER: Now to some reaction to all of this from our analysis team of Shields & Gigot, syndicated columnist Mark Shields, 'Wall Street Journal' columnist Paul Gigot. Pat Buchanan, good Republican soldier.
MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist: Good Republican soldier. Pat Buchanan this year won three out of the first four Republican presidential contests--Alaska, Illinois, New Hampshire--I mean, Louisiana, New Hampshire. And whatís, whatís amazing is if the Pat Buchanan we saw with Margaret, that smiling, engaging Pat Buchanan, up beat, had been the case in Arizona, it might have been a different outcome. I mean, you can see his legacy in this campaign. The talk about stagnating wages and middle class incomes dropping that you hear echoed in the convention hall, Jim, came straight from Pat Buchananís playbook. They didnít come from anybody else.
JIM LEHRER: But were you surprised, Paul, that we just listened to his reaction to what happened last night, all the moderates on the platform, he wasnít--he hasnít been asked to talk--he just kind of said, well, yeah, wish I--wish I could have spoken, but thereís no anger there, no nothing.
PAUL GIGOT, Wall Street Journal: A week ago I would have been surprised, but he made his conversion with his Sunday night speech in which he basically seemed to decide that he was not going to be--he was going to endorse the ticket, and he was not going to be blamed, therefore, if the ticket had lost because he had been in opposition. I think heís positioning himself to be loyal this time, and if the ticket does lose, then perhaps he can compete in the year 2000.
So heís keeping his options open within the Republican Party, which probably makes the most sense.
JIM LEHRER: One other quick thing, Mark. Much is being made about Jack Kempís statements about affirmative action and immigration. Should this be seen as a major change in position by him?
MARK SHIELDS: Theyíre saying itís not a major change in position, they, the Kemp folks. But thereís going to be a lot of attention on this because Jack Kemp has been a self-described and legitimately self-described Lincoln Republican, Mr. Civil Rights, and all the rest. There will be obvious focus, but this is going to be a difficult marriage. Itís a shotgun marriage between him and Bob Dole on economic matters, on social matters, cultural matters, less so, but I think weíll see a lot of fly specking on this one.
JIM LEHRER: Fly specking?
PAUL GIGOT: Well, thereís not a lot of other news around, so youíre looking--itís almost like a ritual hazing the vice president goes through. Well, do you agree with the nominee or donít you, and thereíd be bigger headlines, frankly, if he said he disagreed with Bob Dole on some of these things and made a big issue of it. When you join a ticket, you salute. You donít join the ticket and then say itís my ticket. So itís not--Iím not surprised that he would be--I donít know how much heís changed really on affirmative action.
I interviewed him about a month ago on this California affirmative action initiative, and he was for it. He just said it shouldnít be our emphasis, it shouldnít be our lead item. We need economic opportunity, and that of course is now the main message of the Dole campaign, so perhaps he feels most comfortable even on affirmative action.
JIM LEHRER: . This is Bob Doleís night. He gets nominated.
MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist: It is Bob Doleís night, and in listening to the panel of historians and Richard Ben Cramer, youíre driven to the conclusion that Bob Dole in his lifetime, Jim, has been in a lot worse spots, a lot more difficult positions than being just 15 points behind in a presidential race in August.
JIM LEHRER: That Cramer story was something, wasnít it, Paul?
PAUL GIGOT, Wall Street Journal: Yeah. Heís just terrific. That book--it is impossible to read that book, which I have read, and not feel great admiration for Bob Dole as a human being and what he had to endure and the way that it molded character, not in the sense that he warrants empathy or sympathy, but just in the way it molds tenacity and determination.
JIM LEHRER: Yeah. And the context that Cramer put it in was not so much that what had happened to him in World War II but the man he was to whom it happened.
MARK SHIELDS: The biggest, strongest, fastest, handsomest kid in Russell, Kansas, with a great plan. A generation, Jim, I mean--a generation characterized by sacrifice, endured the Depression, won the war, responsibility, duty, community against the baby boomer generation, which is one of self-discovery, sensitivity, and all those kinds of things.
JIM LEHRER: And stay tuned.
PAUL GIGOT: Iíll get you. (laughing)