Schieffer: Party leaders unable to lead on debt

Bob Schieffer comments after the speeches by President Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner

Bob Schieffer comments after the speeches by President Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner

At times during President Barack Obama's speech Monday night on the debt crisis, you could almost see the steam coming out of his ears. It was a speech that boils down to one sentence: President Obama tells the American people to "Call your Congressmen."

There was nothing really new in what the president said tonight. Instead he just laid out the reasons he thinks that this situation is so serious and why he thinks that they ought to do it his way.

When the Republicans heard that the president had asked for time to address the nation, they of course asked for time to respond.

So the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, gave his side of the debt debate, calling the "spending binge" in Washington the big reason for the crisis, and reiterating his insistence on a cuts-only approach.

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At the least, after hearing the very different approaches that these two men have outlined to try to solve this problem, if nothing else, just underlines how far apart the two sides are. They were (already) very far apart going into this evening.

This is a problem. This is a gridlock that is far from being solved. This is a very different kind of situation than we've had in recent years in Washington.

Most people in Washington will tell you that the leaders are ready to deal, that Speaker Boehner is ready to deal, that Barack Obama is ready to deal, that the Majority Leader in the Senate, Harry Reid and his counterpart Mitch McConnell are ready to deal.

But they cannot get the followers to follow the leaders.

Therein is the problem that we face today.

Watch both speeches below:

  • Bob Schieffer On Twitter»

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

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