Your morning jolt: Like White House, Republicans in disarray over Egypt

Over the weekend, the New York Times described the split between Barack Obama and his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, over U.S. reaction to the Egyptian revolution:

A president who himself is often torn between idealism and pragmatism was navigating the counsel of a traditional foreign policy establishment led by Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Biden and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, against that of a next-generation White House staff who worried that the American preoccupation with stability could put a historic president on the wrong side of history.

Former U.S. House speaker Newt Gingrich in Iowa on Saturday. AP/The Hawk Eye

Former U.S. House speaker Newt Gingrich in Iowa on Saturday. AP/The Hawk Eye

But Republicans, too, have been all over the map. On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, was asked what he thought of the Obama administration’s handling of the matter. Said Boehner:

”I think they’ve handled what is a very difficult situation about as well as it could be handled.”

Yet on his second trip to Iowa this year, former U.S. House speaker Newt Gingrich disagreed:

”He warned that by publicly supporting the ouster of [Hosni] Mubarak, a longtime U.S. ally, when political winds turned against his iron-fisted rule, the White House may have sent a message that discourages other leaders in unfriendly parts of the world from cooperating with American interests.

“There are a lot of things that you say in private that you don’t say in public,” Gingrich said.

Taking an opposite point of view was Ralph Reed, the former head of the Christian Coalition and state GOP chairman, who declared that Obama didn’t dump Mubarak soon enough. From Salon.com:

“I think we should have made clear earlier than the administration did that we are on the side of the protesters,” he [said].

Then there was U.S. Rep. Tom Price, who didn’t mind Obama siding with the protestors – but faulted the president for not doing the same when Iran erupted in 2009:

”[T]he Obama administration was remarkably absent when those who have lived under that oppressive regime cried out for change. It is an inconsistency that the administration has yet to sufficiently explain.”

As it turned out, one person made uncomfortable at last week’s CPAC meeting in Washington by all the Muslim-bashing was Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform. His wife is Muslim.

From ThinkProgress:

“It’s very important to recognize that each of these faiths is completely consistent with the U.S. Constitution and a free and open society,” Norquist said, adding it’s also important “for the conservative movement to have many doors open.”

He said that the right has to “marginalize” Islamophobia within its ranks and “knock that stuff down and just make it clear that there’s no place for that in the party of Reagan.”

Referring to Gingrich’s anti-Muslim fervor, ThinkProgress asked whether there is a place for Islamophobia in the GOP 2012 presidential primaries. “I don’t think there is,” he replied.

***
After CPAC adjourned on Saturday, Politico.com issued its list of winners and losers. Georgia’s own Herman Cain appeared on the wrong roster:

The former Godfather’s Pizza CEO is in a category of his own, even among the obscure candidates of 2012. Cain, who hosted a radio show in Georgia and has never held public office, has traded on his reputation as a dynamic speaker to win attention as a long-shot presidential candidate.

Cain didn’t live up to that reputation at CPAC. He had one or two memorable lines, such as: “Stupid people are ruining America.” But one or two middling zingers do not a credible candidate make.

Given his flat performance, Cain’s going to have to work extra-hard going forward to win a place in the 2012 process.

***
Just in case you hadn’t heard, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed was on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. If you chose to sleep in, here’s the clip:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

***
Over the weekend, U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Coweta County, was passing around a C-SPAN video clip in which he asked the nation’s top intelligence chiefs whether the nation’s debt posed a national security threat.

All of them said the debt was indeed a worrisome issue. But none who testified before the House Intelligence Committee hearing suggested raising taxes to address it:

***
Finally, Doug Richards is doing some funny stuff for 11Alive on Sunday morning. But I wonder who at the state Capitol the fellow with the cigar is supposed to be:

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter, or connect with me on Facebook.

28 comments Add your comment

Tom

February 14th, 2011
9:14 am

I wouldn’t characterize Cain’s CPAC appearance as “flat”.

Truth

February 14th, 2011
9:28 am

Has the entire republican party become nothing more than a bunch of recycled losers like Gingrich and fringe candidates like Cain? When will the republican party wise up and understand that most people in this country hold moderate viewpoints on most major issues? Why do they constantly shoot themselves in the foot with the Palins, Gingriches, Cains, Tancredos, and Pauls? The last electable republican candidates were both named Bush and they were both perceived as moderates when elected.

Truth

February 14th, 2011
9:30 am

And before you jump in their with Reagan do some fact checking. Reagan was also considered socially liberal and his history backs that up.

on the case

February 14th, 2011
9:34 am

Not to worry: gingrich and palin have got things figured out over there. Remember: gingrich used to teach history and palin can see russia from her backyard—they know foreign policy! Relax, take it easy. When they get to DC, they’ll show egypt who is boss!

Sounds like a Wimpy Move

February 14th, 2011
9:44 am

The Republicans are making the same mistakes as the Democrats did when they were in control. They are too focus on staying in power and not addressing the needs of the American people. The events in Eygpt were moving at such as rapid pace that surprised everyone. The President consistently supported the deomocracy in Eygpt but wisely avoided getting America drawn in too deeply. One of the more comical aspects of the criticism is the attack on the President concerning the Muslim Brotherhood. You can’t singled them out to deny them their rights in the Eygptain democracy. White supremeist groups in America are despicable but are allowed to participate in our democracy (as long as they have not committed any criminal acts) under the rules of our Constitution. You can’t have it both ways.

Blowhards like Newt, Pawlenty and Rooney are simply out to make headlines.
Good job, President Obama!

td

February 14th, 2011
9:46 am

Truth

February 14th, 2011
9:28 am

Define “Moderate”? Give us some examples of what a moderate means.

Jay

February 14th, 2011
9:50 am

Their disarray is not just over Egypt. It’s much wider spread. The U.S. spends $2.5 billion a day on the Afghan War, and our “leadership” can’t figure out where budget cuts should come from?? They don’t have the collective brain span to worry about Egypt.

Tom

February 14th, 2011
9:52 am

Truth, you are correct……if the GOP doesn’t heed the lesson of 2010 and the momentum gained from the influx of independents and socially-moderate conservatives by the TEA movement, the same mistakes are going to be made and the pendulum will start its swing back towards the left as it did leading up to 2008.

The ‘new’ generation coming up in the GOP is much, much more libertarian (small “L”) on social issues and intently focused on fiscal conservatism and smaller, leaner, less-intrusive government.

The time for the theocrats holding the GOP hostage with their narrow focus on “fetuses and fa___ts” has come and gone. Get over it.

Red

February 14th, 2011
10:09 am

I love how the response to Obama’s inadequacies on Egypt are “well the GOP has not unified answer either”. First of all, the GOP is not in the White House. Second of all the GOP is made up of several people…just a few. We don’t elect a collective to run the White House. We elect a leader. A leader is someone who makes the gutsy calls…and answers the phone at 3am. The POTUS has to make tough choices and often quickly. They don’t have time to make ambiguous statements placating both sides in case one side loses and we have to deal with the other side.

We have lost all credibility in the region. Nations we have been very much partnered with are now doubting a US resolve. Allies in the region now see they cannot count on Obama in their time of need. Enemies see Obama as one who will not take decisive steps when the pressure is on. Enemies can now exploit the situation further.

Obama calls on democracy and changes in government. This is a fallacy in itself. Look at Iran. They actually held elections and the outcome was rigged by the world’s collective standards. Opposition peacefully marched. And they violently died. Throughout the world freedom movements called on Obama to step up and speak on behalf of freedom and fair elections. Silence came from DC. More died. Others were arrested and beaten. Opposition leaders disappeared not from their own design.

And now Obama and Biden are telling Iran to take note and follow suit. Mr. President, this is convenient since an opposition to this regime in Iran does not exist. What little is left is in jail or completely broken. You know very well this is a futile gesture. And now one by one, our allies will fall. Radical Islamist regimes will take shape.

The irony needs to look no further than a map. Obama has tried his best to drive Israel to HIS version of peace – one that gives but does not receive. Since Obama’s speeches in Ankara and Cairo, Israel has seen allies in Egypt and Turkey disappear. Lebanon is now extreme. Israel has a border to the north and south precariously spinning to danger. Obama sits back and watches it happen. His plan? Could be. Watch radical regimes unfold and force Israel to give in as the wolves gather on her doorstep. Israel has no one else to count on. Even Jordan is in danger. And Israel cannot count on the US. Thanks to Obama’s foreign policy, the region faces the greatest threat surpassing the Arab Israeli wars. The Suez could fall. OPEC, an agent of greedy royalty, will flip to hateful radical Islamists. Pragmatic businessmen were at least reasonable compared to those who hate us and will do what they can to destroy us. Thank you for this foreign policy. But we’re more concerned with Ralph Reed and Newt Gingrich have to say.

Don

February 14th, 2011
10:22 am

Red, you’ve been drinking that fox coolaid! Sit down.

Red

February 14th, 2011
10:23 am

Don – I don’t watch Fox. Don’t have cable. Don’t listen to talk radio either. Try again.

DBP

February 14th, 2011
10:31 am

“Given his flat performance, Cain’s going to have to work extra-hard going forward to win a place in the 2012 process.”

Herman messed up when he dropped his radio talk show to run for president. He seems to be the only person who doesn’t see that he has no chance.

If he feels he needs to be in politics his better bet would be to run for the Senate against the illegal alien lover Chambliss.

Red

February 14th, 2011
10:34 am

I’d love to see Cain vs. Chambliss. Cain (before he was a known entity) supported Bob Irvin against Chambliss back in 2002 GOP Primary. Unless something’s changed, he is not a big Saxby fan.

WAW

February 14th, 2011
10:41 am

way to go Kasim Reed… “tell us where we’re going and we’ll get on with it” maybe the Tea Party could get some ideas from him… let’s get it done!

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Double Zero Eight

February 14th, 2011
11:15 am

The entire continent of Africa is in a mess, not just
Egypt. We no longer have the resources or manpower
to be the “police of the world”. The president did the
right thing regarding Egypt. For once, Saxby stood
up and even agreed with the president’s handling of
the matter.

Truth

February 14th, 2011
11:44 am

I think everyone should know that Cain refused an opportunity to endorse Mike Keown during last fall’s Congressional District 2 race. In phone call from Keown, Cain said he couldn’t endorse Keown because he was fraternity brothers with Sanford Bishop. So because they are fraternity brothers Cain decided to ignore the fact that Bishop had become extremely liberal, wasted millions in earmarks, funneled earmarks to family and friends, etc….. Wait I thought Cain was supposed to be a true conservative? If he is a true conservative how could he support Sanford Bishop?

Tom

February 14th, 2011
11:58 am

Truth, did he actually come out in support of Bishop? Balking at an outright endorsement of his opponent because of his personal relationship with Bishop doesn’t qualify as a de facto endorsement of him.

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Invade?

February 14th, 2011
12:13 pm

Should the U.S. invade egypt to restore order and get better deals on oil? Gas prices are way up and the government needs to do something quick.

double

February 14th, 2011
12:16 pm

Yep! The Bush presidents had to have wars.Obama inherited the Afganistan war, and we need to get out of it.A 2% cut in SS taxes made no sense at this time.Gaddafi needs memory refreshed.Newt for president.Is ther any good news?

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Drew

February 14th, 2011
12:48 pm

Red very much summed up my thoughts about Obama and his stance on Egypt. Why Obama did not say something when Iran was going through protests, I’ll never know. However, it doesn’t make sense for the U.S. to try to intercede especially since our country is in a financial crisis and there are two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

No Dog in this Hunt

February 14th, 2011
12:54 pm

If you want gas prices to drop, get the Administration to okay the Canadian pipe extension so their oil can get to the rest of the U.S., and not stop half way. The permit was filed in 2008, and the Canadians claim it is causing the middle of the U.S. to pay about $.25 less than the coasts.

I thought Obama did great with Egypt, but Clinton would still like to be President.

Red

February 14th, 2011
1:32 pm

Those saying Obama did a good job, what exactly did he do? He stumbled all over the place trying to pick a side and waited until one side was the clear frontrunner before picking them. Then as Mubarak lost ground Obama decided to call for democracy and elections. Then clueless Clapper comes out making comments that the Muslim Brotherhood is secular??

What was so great about Obama’s position (all of them)?

Jerry

February 14th, 2011
11:15 pm

Different countries require different responses. In Iran, anti-Americanism is deep and vast among its people…including those protesting the government. Not so much in Egypt, where the economy depends heavily on Western trade.
For Obama to step into the Iranian affairs would be counter-productive it the protesters. They would have been demonize for standing with the American satan.
Yes, it would have made good soundbites for an American president to interject into Iranian politics, but whether it was Obama or a republican president, the outcome would still be the same – it would have been counterproductive. Sorry, but the US influence in some countries can only go so far.
As for Egypt, some of you can say Obama lost creditability with the Middle East leaders. But perhaps they will address the grievances of their people more seriously. And if that happens, then Obama did the right thing.

ROBOCOP

February 15th, 2011
7:43 am

If, by some wild chance, Herman Cain gets the Republican nomination for President, Barack Obama will ride to a second term by at least a 7% to 9% vote margin.