Unlike the rest of Sunday morning public affairs programming, CBS' Face the Nation has distinguished itself over the years by airing for just 30 minutes, compared to the hour-long programs on the other broadcast and cable news networks. Depending on how you feel about the amount of bloviating that goes on in the second half of these programs by the folks who define the term "pundit," that might not be a bad deal.
So host Bob Schieffer understandably was psyched when his bosses at CBS News announced in December that Face would go the hour route, giving him equitable face time with Chris Wallace, George Stephanopolos, Candy Crowley and David Gregory on Sunday morning television.
On April Fools Day, the new 60-minute edition of Face the Nation was broadcast — but not in the Tampa Bay market, where local affiliate WTSP at 11 a.m. switched over to a scintillating infomercial for Hoover's Extract Carpet Washer.
On the portion of the program that was broadcast in Tampa, Biden was asked about the hot mic that caught President Obama telling Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that he'd have more flexibility after the November election, an exchange that conservatives have denounced.
Mitt Romney called it alarming, questioning in an op-ed what else Obama was going to be flexible about after the election.
On CBS, Biden noted the irony of hearing about "flexibility" from a man who some say has performed Olympic-caliber contortions in his policy positions, then attacked him for attacking Obama regarding Russia.
VP BIDEN:.. and the second thing is Governor Romney's answer I thought was incredibly revealing. He acts like he thinks the Cold War's still on. Russia is still our major adversary. I don't know where he's been. I mean we have disagreements with Russia but they're united with us on Iran. The only way we're getting... one of only two ways we're getting material into Afghanistan to our troops is through Russia. They are working closely with us. They've just said to Europe if there is an oil shutdown in any way in the Gulf they'll consider increasing oil supplies to Europe. This is not 1956.
The former Massachusetts governor has repeatedly tried to find fault with Obama's foreign policy, even though it hasn't differentiated very much from that of George W. Bush.
And a growing amount of critics think Romney has gone too far afield in some of the foreign policy issues he criticizes the president about.
Last week a group of national security experts advising President Obama’s re-election campaign published a letter in Foreign Policy asking Romney what exactly he would change in Obama’s foreign policy strategy:
You have said you would have left tens of thousands of U.S. forces behind in Iraq. Would you have done so against the wishes of the Iraqi government and people, with no legal protections?
Those questions came from Obama supporters. But Romney's own advisers have increasingly taken issue with some of his stances, such as saying he would never negotiate with the Taliban.
As the Wall Street Journal wrote last week, another of Romney’s top foreign policy aides, Robert Kagan, has pointed toward the president's diplomacy in Asia as one of the White House’s chief foreign policy accomplishments.
Two of Romney's economic advisers, Glenn Hubbard and Greg Mankiw, have also urged him to back off from some of his rhetoric about China re its currency.
Meanwhile, the second half of the new hour-long Face The Nation included interviews with GOP presidential candidates Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul.
Paul said he hadn't thought at all about endorsing Romney, saying that he is "trying to save the Republican Party from themselves."