David Brooks: And the reason I think they were legitimate is this. The reason Democrats have lost presidential elections in more recent years has not been because people don't agree with them on the issues. They do tend to agree with them about health care and education, things like that.
It's because they're not sure that candidate -- John Kerry, Michael Dukakis, Al Gore -- is like them, shares their values, shares their basic life experience. The question is now asked of Barack Obama, "Is he like us?"
And whether you like it or not, the way people measure that question is through the use of symbols, whether it was Michael Dukakis sitting there in the tank, or John Kerry wind-surfing, or John Edwards' $400 haircut, people care about the symbols when they're saying, "Is that guy like us?"
So when they look at Barack Obama, the things he said in San Francisco, that raises the question, "Is he like us?"...
April 18, 2008. PBS Newshour with Jim Lehrer
Listen to the full conversation from Shields and Brooks here.
Go to the Shields and Brooks archive page, Political Wrap
Read "Obama - A 'no symbol' symbolic candidacy"