Practicing What We Preach In Iraq

Weekly commentary by CBS Evening News anchor and Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer.

When I read those stories about the military secretly paying Iraqi journalists and their newspapers to print American propaganda it made me think of a man named Garrett Morris.

Garrett is well into his eighties now and his name won't mean anything to you unless you're from Fort Worth, Texas, but he is one of the wisest men I've even known.

Thirty three years ago, my younger brother, all of 24 years old and still in graduate school, decided to run for a seat in the Texas State Legislature. He was an underdog and a friend suggested a real dirty trick to use on his opponent.

He went to Garrett for advice, and I'll never forget Garrett's answer: "Never do something in a campaign that you'll be ashamed of if you're found out, and besides that wouldn't be effective."

So why in the world, when we are trying to convince the Iraqis of the strength and efficacy of Democratic institutions would we try to do it by corrupting their press, one cornerstone of Democracy? The government writes the stories for a totalitarian press, not a democracy's press.

This administration has never had much use for reporters, and that is their privilege. But speeches about democratic values ring hollow when the speechmaker gets caught trying to undermine democratic institutions.

We can do better than that. If this is a war over values, we can best demonstrate the strength of our values by practicing them. To do otherwise, after all, is just not effective.

My brother, by the way, took Garrett's advice. He was elected that year and two times after.

E-mail Face the Nation.


Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Watch Now

New Android App

For your Android phone and tablet, download the FREE redesigned app, featuring CBSN, live 24/7 news.

The all new
CBS News App for Android® for iPad® for iPhone®
Fully redesigned. Featuring CBSN, 24/7 live news. Get the App