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Before McCain’s Speech, Shields and Brooks Weigh its Likely Impact

Analysts Mark Shields and David Brooks offer insight on the points Sen. John McCain will make and reflect on the Republican convention before the Arizona senator steps up to the podium.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    And now thoughts from Shields and Brooks about all of this, John McCain.

    Mark, what are your thoughts about this remarkable exchange here with Bob Timberg, and Mr. Butler, and Orson Swindle about the meaning to John McCain of that five-and-a-half years in prison as now extrapolated as something that is discussed as a candidate for president of the United States.

    Your thoughts about that?

    MARK SHIELDS, syndicated columnist: Well, first of all, can I get a plug in for Bob Timberg's wonderful book…

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    … that was a great piece Jeffrey did, "The Nightingale's Song," which is not only McCain, it's Bud McFarlane, John Poindexter, Ollie North, and now Senator Jim Webb, five Annapolis graduates. And I commend it. It's a great piece of…

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Beautifully written.

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    Beautifully written…

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Marvelous stories.

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    … wonderfully researched…

  • JIM LEHRER:

    I agree.

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    … and lyrically presented.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    I agree.

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    But what I found — John McCain's own military experience and prisoner of war experience makes him a special person in the Senate in many respects. He came to the Congress.

    And the first act he really did, in terms of national events, was taking on a very popular Republican president who wanted to send American troops — and did dispatch American troops into Beirut. And Sen. Fritz Hollings said at the time, "There are too many to die, too few to fight." And John McCain agreed with that.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    And, remember, Fritz Hollings was a big Democrat and John McCain…

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    Big hawk.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    … and a hawk, right, but a Democrat nonetheless.

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    That's right. And they both found themselves on the same side.

    And, you know, so John McCain has become a figure of importance on national security debates. I mean, he spearheaded to a great degree the United States entry into Iraq and his — you know, says now it was a catastrophic — and he calls it a colossal failure of intelligence going into Iraq.

    So, I mean, it's mixed, Jim. I mean, I don't think it's clear. What was impressive was to see those with whom he had served in that POW camp campaign for him. I mean, you know, old men go door-to-door in New Hampshire for him, including Bud Day and others who — with the Medal of Honor around their neck.

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