On CBS, John Dickerson Defends His 'Destroy the GOP' Column

January 23rd, 2013 1:24 PM

On Wednesday's CBS This Morning, John Dickerson stood by his Friday column for Slate where he concluded that President Obama "can only cement his legacy if he destroys the GOP." Dickerson answered conservative critics of his piece by claiming that he "wasn't trying to give advice. I was trying to highlight, in a very stark way, what seems like an impossible-to-avoid conclusion about this second term."

The liberal CBS News political director also repeated many of the points he made in a follow-up column for Slate on Tuesday [audio clips available here; video below the jump]:

JOHN DICKERSON: We know the President wants to be transformational and not just bounce along in his second term. We also know he doesn't have much time before he's a lame duck. He's picked a controversial agenda for a second term; and, most important, he's decided, essentially, to write off trying to cajole and schmooz the House GOP.

Anchor Charlie Rose raised the controversy over the Friday article near the end of a segment with Dickerson: "You wrote a piece in which you said the President has decided that accommodations didn't work, and that his only remaining option is to pulverize. Some conservatives have jumped back at you. So, what do you say to the criticism that they're making?"

John Dickerson, CBS News Political Director; Screen Cap From 23 January 2013 Edition of CBS This Morning | NewsBusters.orgAfter acknowledging that "there was some pretty aggressive language in the piece," the political director made his denial about giving "personal advice" to Obama. He continued with the points from his most recent Slate column and added that the President was seemingly following the path towards "destroying" the Republicans:

DICKERSON: So, given all of those facts, what does an ambitious President try to do?..and the only solution I could come up with is that he gets aggressive. That seems to be the only option. I wrote this before the inauguration. Now, he's given a speech that suggests that's exactly what he's going to do.

This is actually the second time Dickerson has defended his Friday Slate column on the air. Mere hours before the inaugural ceremony on Monday, the CBS News political director made some of the same points that he made in his Tuesday column during the network's live coverage:

DICKERSON: ...This is not a speech full of specifics....This is about themes. But in it, the President will be making a case for what he won. This is a part of his new tone in...his second administration, which is a more aggressive tone. And in dealing with Congress, one final note: it's not so much that he doesn't think schmoozing will work because they're not nice people. He just thinks that a deal made with Republicans in Congress in the House specifically will not get through the House. And that he has to be more aggressive because only aggression will get deals made.