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Shields, Brooks Mull the Democratic Party’s Identity Challenge

At the close of the Democratic National Convention's first night, political analysts Mark Shields and David Brooks discuss the demographic divide among Democrats, their ideological unity and the challenge for Sen. Barack Obama to represent them all.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    And to some closing thoughts here now from Mark Shields and David Brooks.

    OK, Mark, what is the Democratic Party? Is it the liberal party and the Republicans are the conservative? Where do you come down on this?

  • MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist:

    Richard just spoke a truth which Democrats don't like to address. The class picture of the Democrats is demographically quite diverse. I mean, boy, you say, isn't that terrific? I mean, the Latinos, and the African-Americans, and the whites.

    But when it comes to toeing the line on orthodoxy and party platform, I mean, just as an example, the first five speakers at the Republican National Convention not named Bush or Cheney are Joe Lieberman, Rudy Giuliani, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Tom Ridge. What do they have in common? All four are pro-choice, OK?

    Hey, listen, these people — the Democrats will say, "Oh, my God, the Republicans are very — they're narrow. They never listen to a pro-choice — they're not a big-tent party."

    The Democrats are being self-congratulatory, because on Tuesday night Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, pro-life Democrat…

  • JIM LEHRER:

    The lone pro-lifer.

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    … a lone pro-lifer — is going to be allowed to speak. I mean, for the many pro-life Democrats there are, he's the only one — you know, 16 years ago, as we remember, in Madison Square Garden, his father was banished to Siberia and denied a chance to speak.