​Long story short: Courage in D.C. is in short supply


President Franklin D. Roosevelt speaks to Congress on Dec. 8, 1941, asking for a declaration of war against Japan.


As I watched the documentary on PBS this week about Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and their cousin, Teddy, I couldn't help but think about what set them apart from today's politicians.

Yes, they were very smart, but there are still a lot of smart people in Washington.

What can the Roosevelts teach U.S. leaders today?

Yes, they saw wrongs that needed to be corrected. But we still have those with good hearts.

And yes, they were good politicians, but we still have a few good politicians around here.

What set them apart to my mind was their courage. When they saw wrong, they not only tried to make it right, but they did so with no guarantee of success.

What a glaring contrast to the Washington of today, which spends most of its time doing nothing, and the rest of its time devising schemes to avoid responsibility for anything.

The latest example: When Congress approved arming the Syrian rebels, they stuck the legislation in a bill that also provided money to keep the government from shutting down. That way, if arming the rebels turns out to be a debacle, Members can say, "I was never for arming the rebels; I just voted to prevent a government shutdown."

The Roosevelt documentary was 14 hours long, spread over seven nights. A story about the courage of today's Washington would take about 30 minutes at most.

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    Bob Schieffer is a CBS News political contributor and former anchor of "Face The Nation," which he moderated for 24 years before retiring in 2015.