As Mark Shields steps away from his regular role on PBS NewsHour, his partner on the show, David Brooks, shares his thoughts:
Mark, like many who came of age in the 1950s and 1960s — including Joe Biden — was imprinted with the idea that politics is a deeply noble profession, a form of service, a vocation….
Evidence that government worked was all around. The G.I. Bill had worked, though mostly for whites. Mark had served with Black Marines because Harry Truman had the courage to integrate the military. Mark saw the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, the Fair Housing Act of 1968….
To this day Mark argues that politics is about looking for converts, not punishing heretics. You pass bills and win campaigns by bending to accommodate those whose votes can be gotten.
He went on to work on and run political campaigns, for people like Bobby Kennedy and Ed Muskie. He came to deeply respect those he worked to elect, including presidential candidate Mo Udall: “Just a great human being.” Vice-presidential candidate Sargent Shriver: “He had the best relations with his family of any candidate I have known. His kids revered him.”…
He comes from a generation that highly prized egalitarian manners: I’m no better than anyone else and nobody is better than me. Like Biden, condescension is foreign to his nature. As everybody at the “NewsHour” can attest, he treats everybody with equal kindness. He also comes from a generation in which military service was widespread, along with a sense of shared sacrifice.