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Analysts Discuss Congress’ Iraqi War Debate and Immigration Legislation

Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks discuss the Iraq war debate in Congress over the deadline for withdrawal and the immigration issue.

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    And finally tonight, the analysis of Shields and Brooks, syndicated columnist Mark Shields, New York Times columnist David Brooks.

    What do you make of that story? What do you think of this whole thing that's going on in Connecticut? And is it indicative of something larger that's going on in the country?

  • MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist:

    I'm not sure it's indicative. I think you may have two unrepresentative incumbents here.

    I mean, I think there's no question that both men, Chris Shays, the Republican, and Joe Lieberman, the Democrat, have gone against the grain of, one, their constituency, in the case of Shays, and to his party, in the case of Lieberman, because of their beliefs on it.

    And they're obviously willing to roll the dice on their beliefs, which are not popular, which are very much in the minority. I mean, Chris Shays could probably — he always has a tough race in that district, but he could probably win if he just trimmed his sails, but he's…


    He won't do it.


    … he's been there 12 times. And I've talked to him about it, and he's convinced. I mean, he is a real believer.



    What do you think about it?

  • DAVID BROOKS, Columnist, New York Times:

    Well, it's indicative of one thing. They're both independent centrists in parties that are drifting to the extremes.

    Shays is one of the few moderate Republicans left in the House; Lieberman is the most moderate Democrat in the Senate. And we saw a lot of the moderate Democrats get wiped away in the last 12 years, and I think in this election we're going to see a lot of moderate Republicans get wiped away, and the parties are going to be a little more polarized.

    And I think, if you talk to those two men, as I'm sure Mark and I both have, they're not happy with the way the war is being waged. They supported it, but they've both been there. They've both offered suggestions on how to change it.

    But as you go forward, they're thinking, "What do we do? Do we want to sign on with John Kerry's thing and get out very quickly?" And they both say no. And so they're really stuck with a war they didn't agree with the operation of, but they want to keep at it, and I think they're both principled, gutsy, gutsy guys.


    And speaking of Kerry and the Senate, there were two votes or votes on two amendments offered by the Democrats. A lot of people are making a lot out of those, what it says about the divisions within the Democratic Party this week. What do you say?


    Well, putting aside the merits of the Republican senators' position, at a time when congressional Republicans are coming unglued over immigration and voting rights, it's amazing to me, and rather remarkable — I think ahistorical — that a party chooses to galvanize and unite around an issue that claims support of less than a third of the people in the country.

    About a third of the people in the country endorse the policy. That's where they decide to stand with their president.


    You're talking about the Republicans?


    Republicans, they're breaking with the president on other issues, on immigration and voting rights, where it has 85 percent…


    But locked in…


    … but locked in on this.


    … on that.


    And, I mean, to me…

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