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Shields and Brooks Debate Iraq War, Karl Rove and Guantanamo

Political analysts Mark Shields and David Brooks discuss the president's trip to Iraq, a House vote on a timetable for withdrawing troops, and debate over the detention center at Guantanamo.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

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

    And speaking of Congress, Mark, the big vote today in the House on the Iraq war and the debate yesterday and today that led up to it, something important happen?

  • MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist:

    I don't really think so. I think something less important than strikes the eye, Jim. I think that, ultimately, what Iraq will be decided upon by the American voters in November is what's happening in Iraq.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    On the ground?

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    On the ground. And, I mean, we learned in the New York Times today that attacks, sectarian violence is up, the number of insurgents is up. And they're homegrown; 93 percent of them are Iraqis. You know, just so many indicators…

  • JIM LEHRER:

    So what was going on, then? Why this debate?

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    Well, what was going on was an attempt by the Republicans — and they seized the moment. They'd their first good week in about, you know, a year, and it was perfect timing. The capture of Zarqawi, the elimination of him, coupled with the completion of the cabinet five months after the election in Iraq, and to get a debate to try and put the Democrats on the defensive on this issue.

    The biggest problem they have — yes, four out of five Democrats voted against the Republican position, 95 percent of the Republicans voted to stay the course. The problem is: Most people don't want to stay the course.

    I mean, if you look at the Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll, you know, almost two-to-one margin voters don't like the policy and don't think staying the course is the answer.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    So do you agree with Mark's analysis that it was, first of all, not very important — it's politics — and not necessarily good politics for the Republicans? Did I paraphrase you correctly? MARK SHIELDS: You did a nice job, Jim.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Thank you, Mark.

  • DAVID BROOKS, Columnist, New York Times:

    It was better than the original. Yes, I actually do agree.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Oh, my. Well, next question, Mark…

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