This week on Q&A, our guest is Mark Shields, a syndicated columnist and political analyst on the PBS “NewsHour.” He discusses his early days in politics and shares stories of his role as a legislative assistant to Senator William Proxmire (D-WI) and his work on the presidential campaigns of Senator Robert Kennedy (D-NY) in 1968 and Senator Edmund Muskie (D-ME) in 1972.
He talks about the profound impact the assassination of Robert Kennedy had on his life and his eventual transition into journalism as a columnist for the Washington Post. He salutes Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill and Gerald Ford as examples of politicians who were “strangers to self importance.”
Our guest reflects on the use of humor in his writing and suggests that 2012 was the worst presidential campaign he covered because candidates Obama and Romney both appeared “not to like politics” very much. He says that John McCain’s 2000 presidential primary campaign was his favorite because of the candidate’s openness and willingness to speak with voters.
Mark Shields received a degree in philosophy from Notre Dame in 1959. He served in the United States Marine Corps for two years, and then worked for Senator William Proxmire (D-WI) before joining Senator Robert Kennedy’s presidential campaign in 1968 and Senator Muskie’s in 1972. He wrote for the Washington Post from 1979 to 1981. He joined the PBS “NewsHour,” which was called the “MacNeil-Lehrer Report” in 1987. He has one daughter and lives in the Washington, DC area.