April 12, 2009

David Gregory channels him some Charles Krauthammer on Meet the Press to frame his question for his panel on how the President's attempts at international diplomacy are going. Of course David Gregory wouldn't say any of these things himself. Why should he when he can just quote a Fox News talking head instead? And Byron York doesn't think that President Obama should be acknowledging that the United States has been arrogant. Where would anyone have ever gotten that idea? I can't imagine. It seems a little honesty is just too much for Byron to handle.

GREGORY: The question is whether the new approach is really working, and conservative critics of the president said this was a feel-good tour of Europe. He went out there and said things Europeans want to hear, including being critical not only of his predecessor, President Bush, and his policies, but arrogance, derisiveness, dismissiveness on the part of the United States. Charles Krauthammer wrote this on Friday: "Our president came [to the G-20] bearing a basketful of mea culpas," he writes. "Obama indicted his own people for arrogance, for dismissiveness, for derisiveness, for genocide, for torture, for Hiroshima, for Guantanamo and for insufficient respect for the Muslim world. And what did he get for this obsessive denigration of his own country? He wanted more NATO combat troops in Afghanistan to match the surge of 17,000 Americans. He was rudely rebuffed. He wanted more stimulus spending from Europe. He got nothing. From Russia, he got no help on Iran. From China, he got the blocking of any action on North Korea. And what did he get for Guantanamo? France, population 64 million, will take one prisoner." Byron.

YORK: You know, the, the apology part of the tour really grated on Republican ears really for a couple of reasons. One, it was one way. When the president said the United States has been arrogant, it's been dismissive and derisive, and then he followed that immediately and said that there had been a casual and insidiousness anti-Americanism in Europe. Well, there weren't any European leaders who said, "You know, that's right, we have been anti-American, and insidiously anti-American, and by golly we're going to change." So there was, there was that fact that it wasn't, that it was one way. And the second fact was it was unnecessary. He could've said--he's obviously sending the message that the United States has new leadership, and he could've said, "We look forward to a new foreign policy of engagement with you. We want to listen to you. We want a spirit of cooperation." Everybody would have gotten the message without him buying into the "United States is arrogant" routine.

GREGORY: But the, but the other side of that, Michele, is that sort of candor is a marked departure. And if you want to bring people back into the U.S. fold with the goal of getting them to do something, that maybe that's the necessary approach.

NORRIS: And that's exactly the argument that they make. I mean, they--it's clear in talking to people when they returned from the overseas trip this year that they, they knew what they were saying, they knew that this would inflame the right, but they were looking--they, they--when you talk to them, they said they're taking the long haul here, that they are trying to establish relationships. They're very intent on re-establishing America's place in the world. And they, they say--I was at a, at a dinner with, with a West Wing adviser this week who made it clear that they want to establish an, an--sort of an Obama view of the world, and that the world will take a different view of this administration and the U.S. And in order to do that, they feel that they have to speak with candor, even if it means inflaming the right. And to that extent that it does, they think that that actually helps them...


NORRIS: ...in trying to extend a hand to Europe and to...(unintelligence).

GREGORY: Jeffrey, does that kind of candor then extend--outreach to the Muslim world, does it also then extend to the idea of talking about what's happening in Pakistan, this brutal tale of the 17-year-old girl beaten by a local Taliban commander in, in Pakistan, at a time when there's some discussion of actually sitting down and talking to elements of the Taliban? Do they not have, you know, to--does he not have to take on the, the Muslim world for treatment of women and, and others?

GOLDBERG: Look, I hope that this trip was the first of, of, of many in which he grapples with the issues of the Muslim world. And, and here maybe he's setting, he's setting a new pattern of, of talking, and, and I hope that in, in, in coming trips he, he confronts the Muslim world about some of its dysfunctions, including the, the sort of things that you're talking about in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He can do that if he's won a little bit of trust from the, from the populations of these countries.


NORRIS: And the argument they make is that candor is the only way to earn that trust. That's what they say.

GOLDBERG: You know, here, here's the thing. The ultimate point, though, is, is--and I think that Obama people say this privately, certainly--the ultimate point is, is he's going to be judged ultimately on whether he defends and advances American interests. If he uses bullying to do it, charm, bribery, however, ultimately this is just the first trip, and we'll see in a year or two whether this approach works as opposed to say a Bush approach.

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