CBS's Schieffer Grills GOP Pols on Violence; Asks DNC Chair About 'Safety' of Dems
Host Bob Schieffer led Sunday's Face the Nation by fretting over opposition to the passage of ObamaCare: "What about the violence in the wake of the congressional action? Isolated incidents or signs of a dangerous anger?" He told viewers that he would talk to "Republican firebrands, South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint and Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann" about the issue.
Schieffer pressed DeMint on some of the threats against members of Congress: "Senator, we saw some pretty scary stuff last week....We saw members' offices that were trashed. We saw death threats....Do you think the parties have an obligation to try to tone down some of this runaway rhetoric? Is it, in fact, dangerous?" The Senator defended tea party protestors: "I've been with hundreds of thousands of tea party patriots...and I've never seen any violence or heard any bad language....it's unfair and untrue to try to paint this whole American awakening with some of the bad comments that we heard last week in Washington."
Later turning to Bachmann, Schieffer tried to portray the Congresswoman as extreme: "You said last week that health care reform was dangerous and you equated it with tyranny. Do you really mean that?...You said that you thought Barack Obama had anti-American views....what do you mean the President is anti-American?" He continued his interrogation by pointing to comments made by Sarah Palin: "[She] famously said last week that it is not time for Republicans to retreat. It is time to reload....said she wasn't talking about guns. She was talking about getting out there and using the vote. Do you think Sarah Palin has overstated it here?"
Following the interviews with DeMint and Bachmann, Schieffer spoke with Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine on the topic of violence: "What about this whole idea of this sort of runaway rhetoric? As I said to Senator DeMint, there were some kind of scary pictures that we saw on television." In part, Kaine replied by claiming that some in the GOP "think it's to their strategic advantage to keep people stoked."
Schieffer later worried: "A lot of people are going to be watching what happens back in these congressional home districts over this Easter recess. They're talking about more demonstrations and so forth....do you have concerns about the safety of Democrats out there?" In response, Kaine claimed it was "disingenuous" for DeMint say that only a handful of protestors acted badly and went on to rant: "when you, as some of the members do, say that this is Armageddon...you're sending a message to folks. When you're saying that...you want to target members and you have a map of the United States and you put a gun site on members' districts, when the elected leadership feels comfortable yelling out 'you lie' or 'baby killer,' they're stoking anger, and they need to stop it."
Schieffer only challenged Kaine briefly on the issue of stoking anger: "you all put out a fund-raising letter at the DNC, after all of this, that raised a few eyebrows because it talked about this - these run-away things, these demonstrations...Bricks through the windows and stuff. And then used it as part of a fund-raising letter. Was that inappropriate?" Kaine defended the crass political move: "I'll tell you why we did it. We did put out a fund-raising letter referring to the bricks through the window and others, but also referring to the fact that our members who voted for health reform last Sunday are being hit by onslaughts of advertising in their districts criticizing them, some with the most extreme language." There was no follow-up from Schieffer.
In addition to implying the GOP was inciting violence, Schieffer also took some time to gloat over ObamaCare's passage, noting in his first question to DeMint: "You said that this was going to be Barack Obama's Waterloo. And that if Republicans could defeat him on this, it would break him." Schieffer added: "Well, he won Waterloo, it looks like. So I guess my question to you is, what do you do next?"
In his first question to Kaine, Schieffer wondered: "Governor, you heard the Republican strategy from here on in, apparently, is to oppose, to try to repeal health care. Do you think, in fact, that that's possible?" Playing up the violent theme, Kaine remarked: "I think it's unwise. And I don't think it will happen, Bob. You know, one of the things I was struck in listening to Senator DeMint and Congresswoman Bachmann is just the incredible, just anger that's there in them."
Read a full transcript of the broadcast here.
-Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.