Today will be Mark Shields’s last time as a regular commentator on The PBS NewsHour. David Brooks has written a nice appreciation of Shields for the New York Times. I don’t know Shields half as well as Brooks does, but I can confirm that he is one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. I’ve occasionally been a substitute panelist on shows with him over the years: on CNN’s Capital Gang in the old days, and the NewsHour more recently. He always made me feel right at home, and was kind even when sharply disagreeing (which, as I recall, we did a fair amount during the live coverage of Justice Alito’s confirmation hearings).
Shields was a hit on the lecture circuit because he is such a pro at mixing jokes, anecdotes, and insights. Once I was with some other pundit types who were marveling at how audiences loved him. One mentioned speaking at a conference where Shields had maneuvered to go last. It was only while watching him that the other speaker realized Shields had done it out of mercy.