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Inauguration, Transition and Bush Farewell Top Week’s Political News

Columnists Mark Shields and David Brooks look ahead to Inauguration Day, discuss Barack Obama's dinner with conservative columnists and analyze President Bush's attempts to shape a legacy.

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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, four days, there's going to be a new president. What are the anticipations and expectations that you have in your head right now?

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    Oh, Jim, I mean, it's — you can't be in Washington anywhere in or near the beltway — inside the beltway — without feeling excitement and electricity and anticipation. It is just remarkable.

    I guess my hope is that the weather is — warms up. It's brutally cold now in our city. And I hope as well that President Obama, if the weather isn't warmed up, even if it is, will speak briefly.

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    He speaks so well there's a temptation always to speak long. But I hope he speaks briefly.

    But I think it's just a remarkable, remarkable time in the country. And I think it is shared across party lines. Fifty-nine percent of Republicans now like Obama. I mean, that is rather remarkable.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Remarkable time in our country, David?

  • DAVID BROOKS:

    It is. Even as the economic mood goes down, the political mood really does go up.

    And I'm personally very excited about it, and excited about the day, but even excited about the mood that has already happened. I mean, Obama talks about changing the tone. He really has. Republican senators are saying they hear more from Obama than they did from Bush. He's had conversations with conservatives, with liberals.

    And he's demonstrated he's not a guy who is partisan. And I really…

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Not partisan?

  • DAVID BROOKS:

    And I really think — you know, he's a Democrat.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Sure.

  • DAVID BROOKS:

    And, so, his beliefs…

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    He better be.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    … after all this.

  • DAVID BROOKS:

    Here's what I…

  • JIM LEHRER:

    He better be.

  • DAVID BROOKS:

    Yes.

    Well, he told me was switching parties.

  • DAVID BROOKS:

    Now, what I mean by that, with some people, when you disagree with them, you get the sense that it's like a little status battle, that their side is a little better than your side.

    And he has absolutely none of that, in part because he is so self-confident. But there's no status. It's not a cultural war. Like, with the Clintons, there was a little cultural war, with the Bushes. There was a little status. You know those Democrats, you know?

    But, with him, there is absolutely none of that. And, therefore, disagreement doesn't carry a lot of the emotional baggage that it might otherwise.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Yes.

    What about the expectations saying — there's already stories now, oh, the expectations are so high, there is no way in the world that the country cannot be anything but disappointed with Barack Obama, because the expectations are so high.

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    Boy, we will find an angle, won't we?

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