CBS Plays Nice With Biden, Suggests Obama Is Building a 'Can-Do Attitude'
Vice President Joe Biden made the rounds on the network morning shows following President Obama’s State of the Union address and CBS This Morning did its best to help the vice president protect Obama from criticism. Appearing with co-hosts Charlie Rose and Norah O’Donnell on January 29, Biden was treated to a friendly interview, and the only tough questions he received were that the Obama Administration wasn’t being liberal enough in pushing its agenda.
Perhaps the most notable point of the interview was when Rose made the softball pitch that President Obama’s acknowledgment of a wounded veteran was “trying to capture the spirit of America and build a kind of identification with this can-do attitude.” [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Rose’s only attempt to ask a skeptical question was on Obama’s use of executive orders to bypass Congress. Rose noted “so many people believe they have limited abilities and most of the big things have to be through Congress?”
Rose’s co-host Norah O’Donnell turned her attention to immigration reform and hit Vice President Biden from the left for Obama’s omission of the term “pathway to citizenship” in his State of the Union speech. O’Donnell lamented that:
Last night the president called for immigration reform again. But I noticed that he left out the phrase "Pathway to citizenship," which is a pretty big omission. He used that specific phrase last year. Does that mean you're willing to cut a deal with Republicans that would just provide legal status to illegal immigrants in this country?
Rose then brought up former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’ new memoir which was highly critical of Biden’s foreign policy record. Rose concluded that Gates believed “you were wrong on almost every major decision in the last 40 years.” Rather than challenge the vice president on Gates’ serious accusations, the CBS host just allowed Biden to refute Gates’ book without any pushback.
Instead, the veteran CBS host seemed to accept Biden’s personal testimony on foreign policy and refused to confront the vice president for the numerous foreign policy positions that have been wrong over the years including his opposition to the raid on Osama Bin Laden’s compound and the military surge in Afghanistan.
The interview ultimately concluded with a grinning O’Donnell pleading for Biden to comment on his future presidential aspirations and asked him if “Your wife, Dr. Biden, I think you might want to run for president?” Rose followed this up by conveniently bringing up Hillary Clinton and asked Biden “Will Hillary Clinton’s decision affect your decision?”
Throughout the entire segment, Rose and O’Donnell didn’t bother to ask Biden about ObamaCare, Benghazi or the state of the economy. Instead, CBS used the segment as an opportunity for Biden to push Obama’s agenda without objection. CBS This Morning’s softball interview with Vice President Biden was a stark contrast to its interview with Tea Party Senator Rand Paul later in the broadcast, with the female co-hosts expressing dissatisfaction with Rand Paul’s comments on Monica Lewinsky, and Rose interrupting Paul to insist he was wrong about the president's speech.
See relevant transcript below.
CBS This Morning
January 29, 2014
7:12 a.m. Eastern
CHARLIE ROSE: With us now the Vice President of the United States Joe Biden. He joins us from the library at the naval observatory in Washington. Mr. Vice President good morning.
JOE BIDEN: Hey Charlie how are you doing?
ROSE: Good. Let me begin with the State of the Union and what the president said. Why so much emphasis on executive orders when so many people believe they have limited abilities and most of the big things have to be through Congress?
BIDEN: Most of the big things do have to go through Congress and the president said I want Congress to do that. As a matter of fact, as I sat there with John Boehner, he and I were talking about the prospects before the president spoke about the prospects of the House moving on immigration. Last year the president asked for a move on immigration and as everybody said no it's dead on arrival. This year it looks like we may get something done. In the meantime, the president eased up some of the deportation that was under way. So the president will take action where, in fact, he thinks it will spur action in the states and federally and with the Congress or where we have to -- where we can make some progress. We're just not going to sit around and wait for the Congress if they choose not to act.
ROSE: But it seemed to me last night the president including the remarkable portrait of Sergeant Remsburg is somehow trying to capture the spirit of America and build a kind of identification with this can-do attitude.
BIDEN: Well, he is. Look. The president and I remain incredibly optimistic. Relative to the rest of the world, Charlie, and you know international relations. You travel the world. We are better positioned than any nation in the world to lead the economy in the 21st century. China, Europe. No matter where you go. America is the engine. We'll be the epicenter of energy in the 21st century in North America. We have the greatest work force in the world. And so this is about taking advantage of the assets that we have and let's move. That's why the president put me in charge of this new task force that's going to gather all these forces including companies and universities and community colleges to do the things that the American people say, look, every initiative the president put forward, the polling data you have done and everyone else have done show the American people agree with us on it. So part of this is making the case repeatedly to the American people who in turn make the case to the Congress. So this is like we did before Charlie on energy. We said all of the above. We went out and we did renewables, we went out and we did oil. We went out and we did gas, we went out and at the same time -- it's the same thing, all of the above man. We've got to move. The middle class needs access.
NORAH O’DONNELL: Mr. Vice president, I know last night the president called for immigration reform again. But I noticed that he left out the phrase "Pathway to citizenship," which is a pretty big omission. He used that specific phrase last year. Does that mean you're willing to cut a deal with Republicans that would just provide legal status to illegal immigrants in this country?
BIDEN: No, it doesn't mean that. We still think by far and away the preferable route to go is citizenship. We don’t want two-tier people in America, those who are legal but not citizens and citizens. And so what we are saying is -- and I've said to John last night -- pass something. If that's what you're going to pass, pass it. And to use the wonkish term, let the Congress get to conference and let the conference battle it out and decide what the route is. And then we'll decide whether we think its good enough. Citizenship is the pathway.
ROSE: Mr. Vice President, you’ve had a long career in the Congress and was Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and now you have former Secretary of Defense Bob Gates writing a book in which he said you were wrong on almost every major decision in the last 40 years.
BIDEN: Well, you know, Bob and I like each other. We both acknowledge each other, possess integrity as he said in his book. But we have disagreed for forty years. I thought we should end the war in Vietnam, that’s why I ran. He didn't think that. I thought Iran-Contra was a disaster. He thought it was a good idea. I thought Gorbachev was an agent of change. Remember he encouraged Reagan not to view him as an agent of change. I thought we should have war crime tribunals in Bosnia. He thought we shouldn't. I thought we should end this war in Afghanistan after taking care of al-Qaeda which we’re about to finish doing. He didn’t. The president said last night it’s time to end the war in Afghanistan. That's not Bob's position.
O’DONNELL: Mr. Vice President can I ask you then on Afghanistan because as we draw down our forces in Afghanistan, military leaders have said that they would like a force of between 9,000 and 12,000 at the end of this year. You're calling for a much smaller force. Why?
BIDEN: That is not true, by the way. I read these reports about what I call for.
O’DONNELL: How many troops should be there then?
BIDEN: My counsel is to the president privately. That’s why I think that bothered Bob a lot that the president listens to me a lot. And so I have taken no public position on that. So that's not true, number one. Number two, there is a division within even the military as to how many troops should be left behind, but the military's united on one thing, except I'm not sure Bob is. And that is, if in fact, there is no security agreement where our troops are guaranteed certain rights if they stay, the military says we shouldn't stay. So Karzai has to sign the so-called BSA, this basing agreement, in order for anything to happen. The president’s in the process of making that decision now. I keep my council to him and keep it private. And he will make a decision shortly. But here's the deal. We went there for an explicit purpose, to defeat and dismantle al-Qaeda and prevent them from returning. We did not go there to nation build. We did not go there to occupy. And the president said this war is coming to an end. We'll prepare to continue to train forces in Afghanistan of the Afghan military and have a small C.T. operation there. That is a decision to be made by the president after a consultation with the military. I don't know who's putting these numbers out but ask anyone. No one has heard me say in the Situation Room offer any specific number. I do that privately with the president.
ROSE: But you're saying the president was listening to you and not to his Secretary of Defense.
BIDEN: No, I didn’t say that. I said that Bob Gates in his book laments the president listened to me.
O’DONNELL: And then finally let me ask about your own future. Does your wife, Dr. Biden, I think you might want to run for president?
BIEDN: Does my wife want me to run for president? Is that what you said, I’m sorry?
O’DONNELL: Yeah. Does Jill want you to run for president?
BIDEN: Well, Jill and I will make that decision later down the road. It's too early to do that right now. I've got a job to do in the meantime. If I do the job well and decide to run for president will help. If I don’t do the job well and decide to run for president won’t help and if I don’t run for president it will all be okay.
ROSE: Will Hillary Clinton’s decision affect your decision?
BIDEN: No, not directly. The only reason a man or woman should run for president -- I'm sure Hillary views it the exact same way -- is if they think they’re better positioned to be able to do what the nation needs at the moment and what is the plan you have for the country and that’s the only thing to generate whether you run.
ROSE: Mr. Vice President thank you so much I didn't mean to cut you off. But thank you so much.
BIDEN: No that’s okay. I’m glad to stop talking about it.
O’DONNELL: Good to see you.
ROSE: You can come back tomorrow.