Preaching To The Choir

President Bush holds a discussion on Social Security, Thursday, June 23, 2005, at the Montgomery Blair High School, in Silver Spring, Md.
This column was written by CBS Evening News Anchor and Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer.
When the president went to a school in Montgomery County, not far from the White House last week to push his plan for Social Security reform, The Washington Post called it a town hall style meeting. Choir practice style meeting would have been more accurate.

Once again, the president was preaching to the choir: an invitation-only crowd. Those who disagreed were made to stand outside. The White House could not say if the audience included any actual Montgomery County residents.

Like most of the president's proposals, Social Security reform is in deep trouble. The administration blames the Democrats, and that's part of it. But I think it has more to do with spending so much time preaching to the choir.

This White House takes great pride in being resolute, in standing apart from the rest of Washington, especially those who disagree with them. But the votes were never there to pass the president's Social Security reform package, and everybody knew it but the White House. The Administration has badly misread the public mood on the Schiavo case and stem cell research, and it's backed itself into a time-wasting corner on who should be UN ambassador.

I like politicians who stand by their principles, who refuse to bend to every kick and every poll. But it is hard to get much done when you spend all your time with the choir and lose touch with the rest of the congregation.

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By Bob Schieffer