Broadcast journalist Schieffer (This Just In: What I Couldn’t Tell You on TV, 2002, etc.) collects his Sunday commentaries from Face the Nation.
A few sentences about the death of Richard Nixon in 1994 launched this popular feature, which has been a fixture of the program ever since. Culled from the many hundreds written by Schieffer, 170 essays cover politics, family, history and prominent people. They have more meat than a sound bite yet remain short and pithy. Occasionally the author will come out of left field with some pleasing illumination à la Andy Rooney. At other times, he turns up the acerbity in the mode of his mentor Eric Sevareid. “Congress ran to the airport Friday,” he snaps. “They’re taking two weeks this year for Thanksgiving. I wouldn’t ask how many days you’re taking because that would be a digression.” But mostly Schieffer displays an avuncular progressivism, wondering where the good, old-fangled virtues of decency, honesty and doing no harm to the innocent have gone in our political life, while finding these values still vigorous in the nation’s citizenry. He gives credit where it is due, appreciatively noting Ronald Reagan’s understanding “that winning an argument does not have to mean destroying your opponent,” and he admits to doubts and remorse, as in his evolving opinion about the course and conduct of the Iraq war. Sometimes he simply shares his love for something, a good book, perhaps, or gently serves some advice worth the minute it takes to tell: “when I think of the stories I’ve missed, it was usually because I wasn’t listening when someone was trying to tell me something.”
Insightful nuggets that express a worldview, an ethical system and a newsman’s code of conduct.