CBS’s Schieffer Hits Miller for ‘Extreme Positions,’ Ridicules GOP Field as ‘Kind of an Exotic Crew’

Republicans are “exotic” and “extreme,” and against science too, CBS’s Bob Schieffer contended on Sunday’s Face the Nation. “You have also taken some fairly controversial, some would say very extreme, positions,” Schieffer lectured Alaska Republican Senate candidate Joe Miller, citing “you want to phase out Medicare, you want to privatize Social Security.” Miller countered: “I would suggest to you that if one thinks that the Constitution is extreme then you’d also think that the founders are extreme.”

Next, picking up on Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s claim Democrats are “are centrist” while Republicans “are really off on the right wing fringe,” Schieffer pressed Republican Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour “about that,” highlighting Miller’s “controversial stands” before asserting: 
Isn't that going to make it harder for some of these Republican candidates to get elected because down in Kentucky you have Rand Paul, who’s got the nomination for the Senate there, talking about, well, maybe we ought to rethink the Civil Rights Acts of '64 and '65. You've got Joe Buck, who won the nomination up in Colorado, who’s talking about bicycle paths being a, might lead to UN control or something other. It seems to me that you do have kind of an exotic crew out there this time.
Barbour shot back: “Well Bob, the administration and the Democratic Congress have taken the biggest lurch to the left in policy in American history.”

As for bicycles and the UN, Schieffer was apparently referring to an early August comment by Dan Maes, Colorado’s Republican gubernatorial candidate who is running against Denver’s Mayor, not Ken Buck the Senate candidate. According to an August 4 Denver Post article, “Bike agenda spins cities toward U.N. control, Maes warns,” he was making an argument about “Denver's membership in the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives.”

The CBSNews.com summary post, on this edition of Face the Nation, also pivoted from Wasserman Schultz’s perspective: “Tea Party Making It Harder for GOP: Fla. Dem.”

Schieffer ended the show with a commentary decrying a federal judge for issuing an “injunction placing limits on stem cell research, an area that holds the greatest possibilities for medical breakthroughs since penicillin.” Without regard for the moral issues or how the latest breakthroughs have come from unimpeded research using adult stem cells (the ruling blocked only federal funding of embryonic stem cell research), Schieffer insisted “putting restraints on stem cell research is not far from those who refused to look through Galileo's telescope because they believed their doctrines and tradition had already told them what they would see.”

He painted opponents as being against gaining knowledge: “As we again try to untangle the arguments over stem cells, let us also consider this: No civilization, no society, has survived if its people came to believe they knew enough and needed to know nothing more.”

After Schieffer repeatedly marveled about Miller’s pledge to work to cut federal payments to Alaska, in return for the federal government turning land over to the state, this exchange took place:
BOB SCHIEFFER: You have also taken some fairly controversial, some would say very extreme, positions. First you say you want to phase out Medicare. You want to privatize Social Security. I have to say there are a lot of people in Alaska who are on Medicare and are getting Social Security. Isn't that position going to be a problem for you in the election, in this general election?

JOE MILLER: I would suggest to you that if one thinks that the Constitution is extreme then you’d also think that the founders are extreme...
Later:
DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: ...Americans really are going to have a very clear choice set up in November between moderate Democrats who are centrist, where the country is, and Republicans who are really off on the right wing fringe. And there's countless examples of that across the country.

SCHIEFFER: Well, let me ask Governor Barbour about that. What about that, Governor Barbour? Because you just heard Joe Miller, who may wind up as the nominee for the Republicans up in Alaska, saying he's go out and campaign on less money for Alaska, less federal dollars coming in. He has taken several controversial stands like that and, I must say, to his credit he didn't back off of them when I asked him about it this morning.

But isn't that going to make it harder for some of these Republican candidates to get elected because down in Kentucky you have Rand Paul, who’s got the nomination for the Senate there, talking about, well, maybe we ought to rethink the Civil Rights Acts of '64 and '65. You've got Joe Buck, who won the nomination up in Colorado, who’s talking about bicycle paths being a, might lead to UN control or something other. It seems to me that you do have kind of an exotic crew out there this time.

HALEY BARBOUR: Well Bob, the administration and the Democratic Congress have taken the biggest lurch to the left in policy in American history...
Schieffer’s commentary at the end of the August 29 program:
Finally today, last week two people I know were diagnosed with colon cancer, one of the deadliest of all cancers. Because my wife and I are cancer survivors, because my mother died of cancer because she was afraid to go to the doctor, I've come to know a little about the disease.

My friends have a serious illness, but there is a path to recovery that was not there not so long ago. As I talked to them last week, I was again struck by the remarkable progress science is making to give them that path. Being told we have cancer no longer means we've been given the death penalty.

Like all scientific breakthroughs, advances in cancer research began and depend on basic research -- science's ability to go not where doctrine or tradition dictates, but where research takes it.

Ironically, my friends were diagnosed about the time a federal judge issued the injunction placing limits on stem cell research, an area that holds the greatest possibilities for medical breakthroughs since penicillin.

I have the greatest respect for those who disagree, but to me putting restraints on stem cell research is not far from those who refused to look through Galileo's telescope because they believed their doctrines and tradition had already told them what they would see. Their beliefs, too, were deeply held, but where would the store of knowledge be had their view prevailed?

As we again try to untangle the arguments over stem cells, let us also consider this: No civilization, no society, has survived if its people came to believe they knew enough and needed to know nothing more.
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center