First Or The Only

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

When I was a young reporter covering the Pentagon, I had a great friend named Daniel Chappie James. He was an African American and he became a famous fighter pilot in Vietnam, where he and his wing commander Robin Olds were know as "blackman and Robin."

He achieved four star rank in the Air Force but he told me one day there would never be full equality until we no longer noticed that someone was the "first...or the only."

I thought about Chappie as I went over today's guests on Face the Nation. All of them are women -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Senators Lisa Murkowski and Maria Cantwell -- and I wondered, did anyone notice?

We don't invite guests to Face the Nation because of race and gender, we invite key players in the week's big stories, but with more and more women now in positions of power, it follows that on a given week, the key players these days may all be women.

There was a time when that made some uncomfortable -- it may still-- but they had better get used to it. Newsweek reports that girls are outperforming boys at every level from the third grade on. We'll be seeing more women at the top levels of every profession.

By now, Condoleezza Rice is neither the first woman, nor the first African American to hold her powerful post. Who would have imagined that 20 years ago?

My friend Chappie James is gone now, but he would have liked Face the Nation today. What he would have noticed is that none of our guests was the "first OR the only."

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By Bob Schieffer