In March, political analyst and columnist Mark Shields gave Marymount University’s 2011 Marya McLaughlin Lecture in Media Communications. With humorous anecdotes and personal experiences from the campaign trail, he offered an insider’s look at American politics and the workings of the last nine presidential administrations.
Mr. Shields has been an analyst with the PBS NewsHour since 1987. He was the moderator of CNN’s Capital Gang for 17 years, and is now a regular panelist on InsideWashington, a weekly public affairs show that airs on both ABC and PBS. In the 1960s and ’70s – before leaving politics to write for the Washington Post – Mr. Shields held leadership positions with a number of local, state, and national political campaigns.
He told his Marymount audience, “I believe in the political process with all its flaws and all its foibles. …Politics at its best is an instrument to ensure that the strong are more just and the weak are more secure.” He noted that the United States’ two main political parties “both include people of all faiths and backgrounds, and both have a fundamental optimism and practicality.”
A former Marine, Mr. Shields touched on the subject of military service, noting that he supports the idea of a draft that would draw from all segments of society. He stated, “Once you separate those in peril from those in power, it’s a different ball game. War demands equality of sacrifice.
Unfortunately, all the sacrifice of our military involvements right now is borne by less than 1% of Americans.” When asked about the increasing importance of social media, as demonstrated in President Obama’s 2008 election campaign, Mr. Shields agreed that the new media have broadened politicians’ reach but asserted, “It’s the message and the messenger that matter most.”