Why The Iraq War Goes Ignored

U.S. Army troops guard a checkpoint in the Mansour district in western Baghdad, Iraq on Sept. 4, 2007.
AP Photo/Wisam Sami

Weekly commentary by CBS Evening News chief Washington correspondent and Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer.

A new Pew Foundation poll shows more than one-third of the American people are closely following this campaign. I'm not surprised; this campaign is creating interest in a way that we haven't seen in years.

But here is what really bothers me: Twice as many people, 12 percent, had more interest in the death of movie actor Heath Ledger than were following developments in Iraq.

Only 6 percent said they were closely following the war news. Only 28 percent knew the U.S. death toll on the war has now risen to nearly 4,000.

There are reasons. The elections and the shaky economy and the fact the war zone is quieter now has pushed the war off TV and the front pages, and for many it has become "out of sight, out of mind."

With an all-volunteer military made up of only one-half-of-one-percent of us making the sacrifices in this war, it's easy for the rest of us to forget war still goes on.

Certainly, there have been few reminders from the campaign trail. John McCain says it is still winnable. But he hasn't said what winning it will take.

The Democrats haven't said much beyond we have to withdraw at some point. As long as Iraq is relatively quiet, the candidates would rather not talk about it (It puts people in a bad humor). But it is still there.

And we can't ignore it forever. It won't let us.

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By Bob Schieffer
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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.