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To The Moon and Beyond

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

And finally today: When was it — a couple of years ago that the president said this was the century we should go to Mars?

I'd forgotten all about it, but as I got back from vacation last night and was going through last week's papers, there it was, the story that said, for the first time in 30 years, our scientists are hard at work planning a flight to the moon, not just a quick trip but to build an outpost where humans can live as they prepare for that trip to Mars.

Now, that gave me some pause. We can't figure out how to get those thousands of trailers standing empty in Arkansas down to New Orleans down to house the people who lost their homes during Katrina, but we're designing housing for the moon?

We can't seem to make those levies that broke the last time strong enough to withstand the next really bad hurricane, but, according to that story in The Washington Post, our scientists are now deep into studies on the effect of moon dust on the humans who will draw that lunar duty?

It's more than a matter of priorities, it seems to me. When you think back on how the government bungled the original response to Katrina, or the wrong intelligence that took us to Iraq, and even that crazy deal, safe or not, that had all of us unaware an Arab company was about to take control of our key ports, you have to ask, has the federal bureaucracy grown so big and so cumbersome that no one really knows what it's doing at any particular point in time?

That leads me to the harder question: If we really had to go to the moon, could we still find a way to get there?

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By Bob Schieffer