What is a president for? An eloquent answer

Today's commentary is more of an indulgence than comment really, but when we invited Governor Jerry Brown to be on "Face the Nation," I couldn't help but think back to a morning in 1979 when California's young governor was thinking of challenging a sitting President for the Democratic nomination .

A kid with a lot of almost-red hair sat down with him on a log in the hills above Sacramento and talked about why he would want to do that.

"Let me ask you, what's your assessment of the first half of the Carter presidency, as you kind of put it there?' asked Schieffer. "Do you think the president has been a good manager as he said he was going to be during the campaign?"

"Well, I don't think presidents function as managers, they should function as a leader," replied Brown.

"We don't think of Churchill or DeGaulle or Roosevelt as managers of the White House or of the government, but rather as strong individuals who stand clearly for a particular vision about their countries, and can set themes and priorities and inspire people to follow their leadership.

"And in those terms, obviously, we've seen over the last few years, drift, confusion and a good deal of lack of confidence," Brown said.

I still like Jerry Brown's concept of what the presidency ought to be - but Jimmy Carter got the nomination.

Later, of course, he lost the presidency to Ronald Reagan.

My one disappointment that day was that Bachelor Brown was linked romantically to singer Linda Ronstadt in those days and I had hoped to meet her!

As the interview concluded, I realized someone had been eavesdropping behind a tree, but when I went to investigate she disappeared into the woods - and we never found out who it was . . .

  • Bob Schieffer On Twitter»

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

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