A Forgettable Victory

It was on Thursday last that white house officials and congressional leaders emerged from eight days of closed-door negotiations and announced with great fanfare that they had finally reached agreement on a budget to run the government.

At both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, this was hailed as a great achievement.

At the White House, the president and the Democrats fell over each other in self-congratulations as Republicans traded compliments at the capital.

Between backslaps, each group summed it up as a victory for the American people. Well pardon a smart aleck question, but victory over what? Congressional sloth and ineptitude and White House monkey business?

Congress has been here since January and done virtually nothing.

And the president? Well, he has been busy but why all the celebrating? Because they finally did behind closed doors what they should have been doing all year in public.

Should we be heartened that in the rush to go home and campaign for themselves they closed a deal so haphazard that neither side was really aware of the details of what they agreed to and still don't know, apparently?

In a CBS News poll last week, three quarters of the American people could not remember a single thing this congress had done.

Well, that's understandable, but it's not all bad. Most of what has been going on around here is best forgotten.

Commentary by Bob Schieffer
©1998, CBS Worldwide Inc., All Rights Reserved
  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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