Gov't shutdown: Time for a little finesse

Left: Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas; Right: U.S. Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio. JIM WATSON, Win McNamee/Getty Images

(CBS News) Writing the commentary is usually the last thing I do when I'm preparing for "Face the Nation" -- I want to make sure I take last-minute developments into account.

Well, I could have written this one four or five years ago -- The government has shut down, it's the other guy's fault and on and on and on.

Nothing has changed, yet this time everything is different.

This time around they're all talking, just not to each other. It's not just Republicans against Democrats; it's also Republicans against Republicans, to the point that a Republican Senator, Ted Cruz (a freshman at that), was advising House Republicans at one point on how to stand up to their leader, John Boehner.

That's beyond rare.

In a legislative body where seniority determines everything from parking places to who chairs committees, we seldom see anyone with less than a year in office having much of an impact on anything.

But Cruz, all sides acknowledge, crafted the strategy that got us to where we are.

In its wisdom, the latest Democratic ploy is an ad that pictures House Speaker Boehner as a crybaby.

What I'm wondering at this point is whether it would be more productive not to embarrass Boehner but quietly help him find a way out of this mess.

That would have to be done in the back channels and would require some finesse, which by now qualifies as an endangered species.

But who knows? Nothing else has worked. Maybe it's worth a try.

  • Bob Schieffer On Twitter»

    Bob Schieffer is CBS News' chief Washington correspondent and anchor of Face the Nation.

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