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Shields and Brooks Mull Security Debate, Supreme Court Fight

Columnists Mark Shields and David Brooks discuss the impact of President Obama and former Vice President Cheney's security policy speeches and the buildup to the president's announcement of a Supreme Court pick.

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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, was there a winner in the battle of the Obama and Cheney speeches?

  • MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist:

    Well, I think the winner, you know, straight up, down, was the president. It's tough to go against the president, especially this president, who has a capacity to marshal his argument and make his case.

    And Dick Cheney, in many respects, is a flawed messenger, maybe disabled messenger for a party that is hemorrhaging support right now.

    The only question that I've had raised by Democrats was whether this was the wisest use of the president's time, talent, and finite political — you know, his political prowess, I guess.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    The idea that, why should the president of the United States be going toe to toe with a former vice president of the United States on something like that?

  • DAVID BROOKS, Columnist, New York Times:

    Yes, but this is a huge issue. I mean, this is a big issue where the president's made a whole series of discrete decisions, and he hasn't laid it out for everybody. And this is a big issue, I think, of great concern to the left, but of concern to the country. I think it's absolutely appropriate to use the president's time.

    And I would say he emerges as the big winner because this is an unfair fight. Dick Cheney doesn't speak for the Republican Party. He doesn't speak for where John McCain, the last Republican nominee, was on this issue. McCain is closer to Obama. He doesn't speak to where George Bush was in the second term.

    I mean, my main point is that the policy that George Bush had in the second term is very, very, very close to the policy Barack Obama has right now. We have a bipartisan policy on terror these days.

    If you look at the individual issues of rendition, habeas corpus, the secret prisons, Obama has taken the Bush policy, made some adjustments, mostly minor, and then co-opted it. We have a bipartisan policy. My problem is nobody could admit that fact.

    Barack Obama can't admit to the Democratic Party that he took George Bush's policy, and Dick Cheney wants to pretend that Barack Obama has made this vast departure so he can pretend that somehow we're less safe.