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Analysts Discuss GOP Debate, War Funding Bill Veto

Political analysts Mark Shields and David Brooks discuss the GOP presidential candidates' first debate, as well as President Bush's veto of an Iraq war funding bill that included a timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

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

    Mark, first, in general, what did you make of the Republican debate?

  • MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist:

    Well, after hearing Ronald Reagan lionized, eulogized, canonized, I can only pray that the next Republican presidential debate is independent at the presidential library of Harry Truman, but I think it's revealing that all the candidates, not simply because they're at Simi Valley at the Reagan museum, leaped over the 20 years back to Ronald Reagan, to talk about him and his presidency, forgetting that there had been two men named Bush there since, basically ignoring them, not even going out of their way to praise the No Child Left Behind, the tax cuts of George W. Bush.

    And I think what it says, it's a statement about the problem the Republicans have. In 1988, when George Herbert Walker Bush won the presidency against Michael Dukakis, he was, in effect, winning Ronald Reagan's third term. And there's nobody in the Republican Party or of the Republican Party that thinks that George W. Bush could win a third term or anybody is going to win a third term as part of it. So they've got to be agents of change without being disloyal.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Do you agree?

  • DAVID BROOKS, Columnist, New York Times:

    I do think there's a problem with Reagan nostalgia in the party, which is not to say — I believe Reagan was a great president, great for his time, but his time is not our time. It was a ways ago.

    And his time specifically was a time when liberalism was still on the march, in the late '70s, when he was elected. And then the Soviet Union was still on the march, in some sense, so it was a classic time of big government versus small government. And those were the threats.

    But now the threats are very different. The threats are threats of sort of these decentralized processes that transcend borders, whether it's globalization or international terror. And it seems to me that's just a big different set of problems. And you've got to come up with a different set of solutions, and the nostalgia for Reagan really doesn't help with that.