For Schieffer, GOP ‘Too Far to the Right’ and Too Obsessed with Birth Control While Obama Presidency Succeeding

CBS’s Bob Schieffer, on Sunday morning’s Face the Nation, pressed Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie over how Republicans have moved “too far to the right” to win before cuing up Maryland’s Democratic Governor, Martin O’Malley, to agree while fretting “we’ve spent the last couple of weeks here talking about running against birth control for goodness sake” – as if the media have nothing to do with that. Schieffer twice falsely credited President Obama for having “backed away” from requiring religious institution cover birth control.

Schieffer also marveled over Obama’s presumed success and so wondered: “How do you go after Barack Obama, though, right now? I mean, the stock market is up. It looks like the unemployment is going down. David Axelrod in his campaign said the other day Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive. It’s going to be a tough job for you, is it not?”

(Last Sunday, February 19, Meet the Press host David Gregory touted how “I see this bumper sticker,” which, he insisted, “we’ve heard everybody talk about,” that proclaims “GM’s back on top, and Osama bin Laden is dead.”)

Audio: MP3 clip

While O’Malley is trying to impose a whole range of tax increases on the citizens of Maryland, including the income and the gas tax, Schieffer failed to ask if that might hurt any economic recovery, yet scolded Christie for his proposed ten percent income tax rate reduction to be enacted over three years starting in 2013: “Can New Jersey really afford that right now?”

(A year ago – February 27, 2011 -- on the very same program Schieffer implored Christie: “You have a reputation as a straight talker, I think. Do you believe that the budgetary problems across this country can be resolved without raising taxes?”)

Back to this Sunday, a baffled Schieffer ruminated:

We’ve spent the last couple of weeks here talking about running against birth control for goodness sake. I mean, I admit, I mean, I believe the President made a serious political mistake when he tried to say to the Catholic Church, you have to buy birth control pills for the folks that work in your hospitals and your schools and so forth. But he backed away from that. And yet, the Republicans keep pushing. They say that’s not enough. That you’ve got to be totally against the birth control.

Of course, Schieffer was unable to identify any candidate who is saying “you’ve got to be totally against the birth control.”

Then with O’Malley, he repeated the claim Obama “did back away” on the birth control mandate, and proceeded to again express bewilderment that’s not good enough for Republicans: “But is that going to be an issue, this whole idea of birth control, is that going to be an issue in this campaign?”

Next, Schieffer cued up O’Malley to denounce Republicans as extremists: “Well do you think it’s good for the President if Republicans try to concentrate on social issues?”

From the Sunday, February 26 Face the Nation on CBS:

BOB SCHIEFFER, TO CHRIS CHRISTIE: Do you think Rick Santorum and, well, the candidates in general, are pushing your party too far to the right to make the nomination worth anything when you get to November?
...

BOB SCHIEFFER: But what I’m wondering about is his concentration on social issues. Al Simpson, who used to be a Senator from Wyoming, and has a way of putting a point on things.

GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE: Sure does. I like him.

BOB SCHIEFFER: He said the other day, well, here’s what he said about if you go too far on these social issues.

ALAN SIMPSON: I am convinced that if you get into these social issues and just stay in there about abortion and homosexuality and even mental health they bring up, if we’re going to do that -- and here’s a party that believes in government out of your life, the precious right of privacy, and the right to be left alone. How then can they be the hypocrisy of fiddling around in these social issues? We won’t have a prayer.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Do you agree with that?

GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE: I don’t. Because I don’t think there’s been this enormous emphasis on it. Listen, we’ve gone through a couple of weeks where Senator Santorum has made some comments....But what people care about the most is getting a job, being able to put food on the table, being able to pay their mortgage. Those are the things they care the most about. Those are the issues Governor Romney is facing head on right now. And will take the President on the fall over.

BOB SCHIEFFER: But I wonder how you get the focus back to that if you do because, I mean, you know, we’ve spent the last couple of weeks here talking about running against birth control for goodness sake. I mean, I admit, I mean, I believe the President made a serious political mistake when he tried to say to the Catholic Church, you have to buy birth control pills for the folks that work in your hospitals and your schools and so forth. But he backed away from that. And yet, the Republicans keep pushing. They say that’s not enough. That you’ve got to be totally against the birth control the way some of, I mean how-

GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE: But I don’t think, I don’t think, you know, most Republicans have said that. I certainly was asked about this, this in just a week.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, that’s certainly what Santorum has been pushing.
...

BOB SCHIEFFER: How do you go after Barack Obama, though, right now? I mean, the stock market is up. It looks like the unemployment is going down. David Axelrod in his campaign said the other day Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive. It’s going to be a tough job for you, is it not?
...

BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you about something you’ve proposed in your state, a ten percent across the board tax hike. Can New Jersey really afford that right now?

GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE: Yeah, a tax cut.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Tax cut, yeah.

GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE: A tax cut. Yeah, we can afford it now because we’ve made a lot of very hard decisions the last two years....Imagine New Jersey, Bob, people getting their taxes lowered every year for three years? People will become disoriented by that, given the history.

...

To Martin O’Malley:

BOB SCHIEFFER: What do you make of Rick Santorum’s remark this week that the President is a snob because he wants everyone to go to college? He said this morning there are a lot of people who are plumbers and have other jobs that are also good Americans. I mean, I don’t quite get what that was about. Would you, what’s your take on that?
....

BOB SCHIEFFER: You know, even some Democrats, and I talked about this with Governor Christie, believe that the President made, just from the standpoint of practical politics, a mistake when he came out with a plan that was interpreted to say that the Catholic Church had to buy birth control pills for people who worked in Catholic hospitals and so on. He did back away from that. But is that going to be an issue, this whole idea of birth control, is that going to be an issue in this campaign?
....

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well do you think it’s good for the President if Republicans try to concentrate on social issues?

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