freeSpeech: Bob Schieffer

So Congressman Foley has checked into an alcohol rehab center. And he says he was sexually abused as a kid. So what?

Whether its stealing money or something to do with sex, alcohol rehab and the 'abuse excuse' have become the hide outs of choice.

I'm sorry, that is not an excuse. Nor should we waste a lot of time focusing on that part of this story.

The real problem here is not Foley. There will always be weirdos and they can be dealt with. The disgrace is how the congressional leadership handled all this.

The top Republican, House Speaker Dennis Hastert, and his senior leaders are in a fight among themselves about who knew what and when. But the fact is, people knew about this and did nothing about it until they were forced to by public disclosure.

Congressional leaders seemed more worried about saving a congressional seat than saving a kid. Disgusting, but not surprising. Because that is what this Congress has become: an incumbent protection society, which accomplishes virtually nothing.

There is only one reason for government: to improve the lives of its citizens, but this Congress has forgotten that. To raise the money needed to get to Washington, congressional candidates have to sign off with so many special interest groups that by the time they get here, they can't compromise on anything, so nothing gets done, except to raise more money.

This sorry story is not the first sign of a new sex scandal. It is just further evidence of a Congress that has lost its way.

Bob Schieffer is broadcast journalism's most experienced Washington reporter. He is CBS News' Chief Washington Correspondent and also serves as anchor and moderator of Face The Nation, CBS News' Sunday public affairs broadcast.

Schieffer served as interim anchor of The CBS Evening News from March 10, 2005 until Aug. 31, 2006. He will be a regular contributor to The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric.