CBS’s Bob Schieffer Compares Democrats to Conciliatory Abe Lincoln

Well, the federal government has been reopened and the debt ceiling has been raised, but to hear CBS’s Bob Schieffer tell it, you would think the United States just made it through another civil war. On Friday’s CBS This Morning, Schieffer compared the recent shutdown haggle to America’s bloodiest war.

The chief Washington correspondent was on the program to discuss the aftermath of the partial government shutdown when he made this comment: “I think the model for Democrats right now is Abraham Lincoln in his second inaugural address when he said, ‘With malice toward none and charity for all, let us go forward now,’ and so forth.” [See video below the break.]


Mr. Schieffer, this was not the Civil War. There was no blood shed. This was a partial government shutdown in which about 800,000 federal workers were furloughed for 16 days, and they will now receive back pay. What’s more, our country avoided a default and any economic consequences that might have come with it. In fact, the S&P 500 closed at an all-time high yesterday.

There is no need for a long period of national healing. This shutdown was not nearly as tragic as the Civil War. But you have to wonder, also, why Schieffer wants to cast Democrats in the role of Abraham Lincoln. If Lincoln’s second inaugural address is the model for Democrats, that would make them the healers and unifiers. Republicans, by extension, would be the defeated Confederates who tried to split the country in two. That’s not fair to the GOP. Republicans may differ from Democrats on policy, but they desire national unity just as much as Democrats.

Below is a partial transcript of the segment:

CHARLIE ROSE: Bob, is the president going to be part of this? I mean, he has this practice of leaving it up to Congress to do the negotiating, and this is taking place in the Congress, but will he have a role and influence?

BOB SCHIEFFER: You know, I think he has to be a part of it, Charlie. He's got to be the guy who gets this thing going. And I'm not saying he does that by holding a bunch of news conferences and that sort of thing, but, you know, he might do worse than to call some of these Republicans on the phone behind the scenes when the cameras are off and say, you know, why don't you come by here and let’s see if we can't figure something out that’ll help both of us here. I mean, that’s the way we saw these people who, you know, made Washington work, like Lyndon Johnson in the past. That's the way they operated.

ROSE: And encourage those people who are out front, like Trent Lott and others, even though he’s not in Congress but has influence, to back them up in terms of the fact that they're out there criticizing their own party.

SCHIEFFER: Yes. I mean, I think the model for Democrats right now is Abraham Lincoln in his second Inaugural address when he said, “With malice toward none and charity for all, let us go forward now,” and so forth. The thing now is to concentrate on how to get this stuff done. Nobody was helped by this. Approval rating for the Republican Party is lower than it has ever been. The president's approval rating is under 50 percent. Nobody gained from this thing but I think there was something to learn and my hope is that the people who count around here did learn something. 

Paul Bremmer
Paul Bremmer is a Media Research Center News Analysis Division intern.