Weekly commentary by CBS Evening News anchor and Face the Nation host.
Even as Watergate was at the boiling point, the Nixon White House maintained it was never a distraction to the president and his people. "The press may be consumed by it," they always said, "but we have more important things to do: running the government."
Once the famous tapes came out, of course, we all knew otherwise. Nixon and his people had been thinking of little but Watergate and how to cover their tracks.
Which is why White House press secretary Scott McClellan's words about the current investigation into who blew the cover of that secret agent for the CIA had such a familiar ring. "The White House doesn't have time to let these things distract us from the important work at hand," he said.
Oh, sure. A special prosecutor is bearing down, the president's top people are being called before a federal grand jury on a regular basis — four times so far for Karl Rove — the investigation has revealed a vicious secret war between the White House and the CIA over who should take the blame for the wrong intelligence that took us to war, and it's just another day in the office?
Maybe preoccupation with all of this is why nothing seems to be going right at the White House anymore. As for this investigation, it looks like it's coming to a conclusion, but watching the White House reaction makes me wonder: Is this story just beginning?
By Bob Schieffer
Copyright 2005 CBS. All rights reserved.