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Panel on Obama's Trip to Afghanistan

By Special Report w/Bret Baier, Special Report w/Bret Baier - December 3, 2010

Friday, December 03, 2010

Special Guests | Chris Stirewalt, Nina Easton, Charles Krauthammer

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," December 3, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: One year ago, I ordered additional troops to serve in this country that was the staging ground for the 9/11 attacks. All of those troops are now in place.

And thanks to your service, we are making important progress. You are protecting your country. You're achieving your objectives. You will succeed in your mission.

(CHEERS)

We said we were going to break the Taliban's momentum and that's what you are doing. You're going on the offense, tired of playing defense.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: President Obama with a surprise trip to Afghanistan today talking to the troops, expressing gratitude, giving holiday wishes and saying that the U.S. will continue to push on in Afghanistan with the mission.

There was an expectation and the White House briefed reporters there would be a face-to-face meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. However, White House officials said because of the weather they could not get the helicopters over to Kabul and they didn't have a face-to-face meeting. Then there was going to be a video teleconference, that didn't happen either, but they did talk by phone.

This visit happens on a day when bad jobs numbers came out. The numbers are these -- 9.8 percent unemployment. The rate is the worst in seven months and 19 straight months it's been above nine percent now -- that's the longest since the Depression.

When you add underemployment, it's at 17 percent -- that includes part- time workers who want to be full time and also people who gave up looking for work.

All of this on one day and we're going to talk about it all with the panel, Chris Stirewall, Fox News Politics editor digital, Nina Easton, Washington bureau chief of Fortune magazine, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer.

Charles, there are cynical people out there who note this is the fourth time President Obama has been out of the country for the fourth time the employment numbers were released. The White House says this trip was planned for a long time. But still he didn't talk about unemployment today.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I'm sure it's entirely a coincidence. It's also the fact that the president likes to do stuff on his anniversaries. For example, he signed the START treaty or initialed it earlier in year on the one-year verse of the day he gave a speech in Europe about denuclearizing the world.

This visit comes a year and two days after announcing the escalation in the war in Afghanistan. He sees himself of world-historical and he see history starting and ending on the days he does stuff, and he honors his own anniversaries. So I think that was a larger issue here. But if he wanted to be a year on he could have gone on Wednesday and been home for announcement of the employment numbers.

But nonetheless, it's good that he goes. The troops need to see the commander in chief. And in some ways it makes up for the fact, although not entirely, that he doesn't keep the nation in on the war. He doesn't make the kind of speeches a president has to make, FDR did, that presidents have done in the middle of a war and it's a serious war. You want to address the country. He does it sporadically, and it's not surprising that there is so much unease and opposition to war that a president does not speak about often in public.

BAIER: Let's talk quickly about the Afghanistan trip and then come back to unemployment. He did not meet face to face with Hamid Karzai. There are these WikiLeaks document dump that includes some diplomatic cables about how concerns diplomats are about Karzai's leadership of the country.

NINA EASTON, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, FORTUNE MAGAZINE: The bad weather was actually the best part of the trip for President Obama. That was good luck on his part, because he did not need to be seen face-for-face with Hamid Karzai right now.

Not only WikiLeaks, which show this is the third-most corrupt country in the world according to some figures, behind Somalia, where you see bribes and payoffs for political office and so on -- that's who we're fighting for. You also have Hamid Karzai a few weeks ago how grateful he is to the Iranians for the bags of cash they're bringing in the country.

So this is not, and I think to Charles' point, he does, the president is losing traction on making the case for the war because this is what the public sees. The public sees this corrupt regime and our troops fighting, in the public's mind, on behalf of this corrupt regime. We're also seeing here at home, the homegrown terrorists. Afghanistan was a link to terrorism and now we see terrorism here. He is supposed to make the case in 10 days and he's really got to work at that.

BAIER: Chris?

CHRIS STIREWALT, FOX NEWS POLITICAL EDITOR-DIGITAL: He has a serious problem with his base. The challenge for the president right now and basically what is going on is this. In 10 days what they're going to say is when we said 2011 we were kind of kidding. We were being too optimistic about 2011 withdrawal from Afghanistan. We really meant 2012, 14, 15, some another date down the road.

And liberals who are already very upset with the president and think he is not tough enough on taxes or this or that, they're in an angry mood. When the president comes out two weeks hence and says we'll be in Afghanistan longer than you expected, he will be in a difficult and unenviable political position, and that is reliant almost completely on Republicans to support the foreign policy endeavors, and that's not where the Democratic president wants to be.

BAIER: On the unemployment numbers, here is what the vice president said today to reporters about the news.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: There is no denying that the report is disappointing because we were quite frankly hoping for stronger job growth. The bottom line is that while we made progress with creating jobs it's not enough. There is too much pain out there, there's still millions of people out of work and trying to make do without a paycheck and without the dignity and respect that goes with a job.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: Republicans were quick to pounce, Nina, the incoming House Speaker John Boehner saying the last thing our economy needs right now is a job-killing tax hike. Democrats pointed to these numbers and said this means unemployment benefits should be extended.

EASTON: More spending. In some ways I wish the president in the trip made a stop in Berlin. In Germany, unemployment is at seven percent and that country is leading the European Union out of a recession. Keep in mind this administration, how much pressure they put on Germany to spend. The resisted that, Angela Merkel, the chancellor, resisted that, and now they have this thriving economy.

There were disputes between the two countries about how much government spending, federal spending rally does create jobs. And we have to ask the question, did that create those jobs?

BAIER: How much does this affect tax extensions and employment benefits?

KRAUTHAMMER: I think it accelerates it. I think the president for all the rhetoric he has about how he doesn't want to raise the taxes, only on the middle class. He wants to raise it on the rich. He needs it for deficit reduction. He knows if the economy is weak in 2012, he loses. And he also knows despite the rhetoric putting taxes on those creating jobs, upper income, including small business, is a catastrophic error. Although he will argue against it, he wants across the board increase for his advantage. And therefore I think he will agree to it easily and in fact he'll get other stuff in return from the Republicans.

For him, it's win-win.

BAIER: Chris?

STIREWALT: Well, from the looks of Joe Biden today I would say he would rather have been in the Hindu Kush with President Obama in a sandstorm than sitting in the room talking about those numbers. These are terrible for their bargaining position. These are terrible for everything -- for the narrative change that they are trying to affect right now.

And yes, I think it strengthens both sides' chances of getting what they want, Democrats getting a 13-month, $58 billion extension of long term unemployment benefits, and Republicans are getting these tax cut established across the board for at least another year.

BAIER: Both things add significantly to the deficit.

STIREWALT: Quite so.

continued...

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December 03, 2010

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We'll look at whether Republicans and the White House are any closer to reaching a deal on tax cuts.

Exclusive Interview With President Obama

• Part 1: Obama on health care

• Part 2: Obama on foreign policy

• Read the transcript

Special Report Online

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Join our live-streaming webcast and chat, for the reactions you didn’t hear from the panel, and a chance for you to weigh in with your thoughts and questions LIVE.

Connect with Special Report MyspaceFacebookTwitterEmailAudio PodcastPanel Podcast All-Star Panelists -- Monday, December 6 Charles Krauthammer

Krauthammer writes a syndicated column for The Washington Post. He is also a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard and The New Republic, and a weekly panelist on Inside Washington.

A.B. Stoddard

A.B. Stoddard, an associate editor and columnist at The Hill newspaper, has covered the U.S. Congress since 1994. She is also a regular contributor to The Hill's Pundit's Blog. Stoddard was awarded a first place 2010 Dateline Award by the Society of Professional Journalists for her columns on President Obama's first year in office.

Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online, LA Times columnist and contributor to USA Today. A Fox News Contributor, he is a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and the author of the #1 NYT bestseller, Liberal Fascism. His syndicated column appears in over 100 newspapers nationally. 

 

 

 

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: One year ago, I ordered additional troops to serve in this country that was the staging ground for the 9/11 attacks. All of those troops are now in place.

And thanks to your service, we are making important progress. You are protecting your country. You're achieving your objectives. You will succeed in your mission.

(CHEERS)

We said we were going to break the Taliban's momentum and that's what you are doing. You're going on the offense, tired of playing defense.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: President Obama with a surprise trip to Afghanistan today talking to the troops, expressing gratitude, giving holiday wishes and saying that the U.S. will continue to push on in Afghanistan with the mission.

There was an expectation and the White House briefed reporters there would be a face-to-face meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. However, White House officials said because of the weather they could not get the helicopters over to Kabul and they didn't have a face-to-face meeting. Then there was going to be a video teleconference, that didn't happen either, but they did talk by phone.

This visit happens on a day when bad jobs numbers came out. The numbers are these -- 9.8 percent unemployment. The rate is the worst in seven months and 19 straight months it's been above nine percent now -- that's the longest since the Depression.

When you add underemployment, it's at 17 percent -- that includes part- time workers who want to be full time and also people who gave up looking for work.

All of this on one day and we're going to talk about it all with the panel, Chris Stirewall, Fox News Politics editor digital, Nina Easton, Washington bureau chief of Fortune magazine, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer.

Charles, there are cynical people out there who note this is the fourth time President Obama has been out of the country for the fourth time the employment numbers were released. The White House says this trip was planned for a long time. But still he didn't talk about unemployment today.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I'm sure it's entirely a coincidence. It's also the fact that the president likes to do stuff on his anniversaries. For example, he signed the START treaty or initialed it earlier in year on the one-year verse of the day he gave a speech in Europe about denuclearizing the world.

This visit comes a year and two days after announcing the escalation in the war in Afghanistan. He sees himself of world-historical and he see history starting and ending on the days he does stuff, and he honors his own anniversaries. So I think that was a larger issue here. But if he wanted to be a year on he could have gone on Wednesday and been home for announcement of the employment numbers.

But nonetheless, it's good that he goes. The troops need to see the commander in chief. And in some ways it makes up for the fact, although not entirely, that he doesn't keep the nation in on the war. He doesn't make the kind of speeches a president has to make, FDR did, that presidents have done in the middle of a war and it's a serious war. You want to address the country. He does it sporadically, and it's not surprising that there is so much unease and opposition to war that a president does not speak about often in public.

BAIER: Let's talk quickly about the Afghanistan trip and then come back to unemployment. He did not meet face to face with Hamid Karzai. There are these WikiLeaks document dump that includes some diplomatic cables about how concerns diplomats are about Karzai's leadership of the country.

NINA EASTON, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, FORTUNE MAGAZINE: The bad weather was actually the best part of the trip for President Obama. That was good luck on his part, because he did not need to be seen face-for-face with Hamid Karzai right now.

Not only WikiLeaks, which show this is the third-most corrupt country in the world according to some figures, behind Somalia, where you see bribes and payoffs for political office and so on -- that's who we're fighting for. You also have Hamid Karzai a few weeks ago how grateful he is to the Iranians for the bags of cash they're bringing in the country.

So this is not, and I think to Charles' point, he does, the president is losing traction on making the case for the war because this is what the public sees. The public sees this corrupt regime and our troops fighting, in the public's mind, on behalf of this corrupt regime. We're also seeing here at home, the homegrown terrorists. Afghanistan was a link to terrorism and now we see terrorism here. He is supposed to make the case in 10 days and he's really got to work at that.

BAIER: Chris?

CHRIS STIREWALT, FOX NEWS POLITICAL EDITOR-DIGITAL: He has a serious problem with his base. The challenge for the president right now and basically what is going on is this. In 10 days what they're going to say is when we said 2011 we were kind of kidding. We were being too optimistic about 2011 withdrawal from Afghanistan. We really meant 2012, 14, 15, some another date down the road.

And liberals who are already very upset with the president and think he is not tough enough on taxes or this or that, they're in an angry mood. When the president comes out two weeks hence and says we'll be in Afghanistan longer than you expected, he will be in a difficult and unenviable political position, and that is reliant almost completely on Republicans to support the foreign policy endeavors, and that's not where the Democratic president wants to be.

BAIER: On the unemployment numbers, here is what the vice president said today to reporters about the news.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: There is no denying that the report is disappointing because we were quite frankly hoping for stronger job growth. The bottom line is that while we made progress with creating jobs it's not enough. There is too much pain out there, there's still millions of people out of work and trying to make do without a paycheck and without the dignity and respect that goes with a job.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: Republicans were quick to pounce, Nina, the incoming House Speaker John Boehner saying the last thing our economy needs right now is a job-killing tax hike. Democrats pointed to these numbers and said this means unemployment benefits should be extended.

EASTON: More spending. In some ways I wish the president in the trip made a stop in Berlin. In Germany, unemployment is at seven percent and that country is leading the European Union out of a recession. Keep in mind this administration, how much pressure they put on Germany to spend. The resisted that, Angela Merkel, the chancellor, resisted that, and now they have this thriving economy.

There were disputes between the two countries about how much government spending, federal spending rally does create jobs. And we have to ask the question, did that create those jobs?

BAIER: How much does this affect tax extensions and employment benefits?

KRAUTHAMMER: I think it accelerates it. I think the president for all the rhetoric he has about how he doesn't want to raise the taxes, only on the middle class. He wants to raise it on the rich. He needs it for deficit reduction. He knows if the economy is weak in 2012, he loses. And he also knows despite the rhetoric putting taxes on those creating jobs, upper income, including small business, is a catastrophic error. Although he will argue against it, he wants across the board increase for his advantage. And therefore I think he will agree to it easily and in fact he'll get other stuff in return from the Republicans.

For him, it's win-win.

BAIER: Chris?

STIREWALT: Well, from the looks of Joe Biden today I would say he would rather have been in the Hindu Kush with President Obama in a sandstorm than sitting in the room talking about those numbers. These are terrible for their bargaining position. These are terrible for everything -- for the narrative change that they are trying to affect right now.

And yes, I think it strengthens both sides' chances of getting what they want, Democrats getting a 13-month, $58 billion extension of long term unemployment benefits, and Republicans are getting these tax cut established across the board for at least another year.

BAIER: Both things add significantly to the deficit.

STIREWALT: Quite so.

continued...

< 1 2> adsonar_placementId=1499753;adsonar_pid=150758;adsonar_ps=-1;adsonar_zw=612;adsonar_zh=140;adsonar_jv='ads.adsonar.com'; Show Transcripts

Choose a category

The Grapevine The GrapevineBrit Hume's CommentaryAll-Star Panelist Interviews

Latest Transcript

December 03, 2010

Please click on a date for previous transcripts:

Loading Datepicker Monday on Special Report

We'll look at whether Republicans and the White House are any closer to reaching a deal on tax cuts.

Exclusive Interview With President Obama

• Part 1: Obama on health care

• Part 2: Obama on foreign policy

• Read the transcript

Special Report Online

Every Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. ET After the Show

Join our live-streaming webcast and chat, for the reactions you didn’t hear from the panel, and a chance for you to weigh in with your thoughts and questions LIVE.

Connect with Special Report MyspaceFacebookTwitterEmailAudio PodcastPanel Podcast All-Star Panelists -- Monday, December 6 Charles Krauthammer

Krauthammer writes a syndicated column for The Washington Post. He is also a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard and The New Republic, and a weekly panelist on Inside Washington.

A.B. Stoddard

A.B. Stoddard, an associate editor and columnist at The Hill newspaper, has covered the U.S. Congress since 1994. She is also a regular contributor to The Hill's Pundit's Blog. Stoddard was awarded a first place 2010 Dateline Award by the Society of Professional Journalists for her columns on President Obama's first year in office.

Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online, LA Times columnist and contributor to USA Today. A Fox News Contributor, he is a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and the author of the #1 NYT bestseller, Liberal Fascism. His syndicated column appears in over 100 newspapers nationally. 

 

 

 

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: One year ago, I ordered additional troops to serve in this country that was the staging ground for the 9/11 attacks. All of those troops are now in place.

And thanks to your service, we are making important progress. You are protecting your country. You're achieving your objectives. You will succeed in your mission.

(CHEERS)

We said we were going to break the Taliban's momentum and that's what you are doing. You're going on the offense, tired of playing defense.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: President Obama with a surprise trip to Afghanistan today talking to the troops, expressing gratitude, giving holiday wishes and saying that the U.S. will continue to push on in Afghanistan with the mission.

There was an expectation and the White House briefed reporters there would be a face-to-face meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. However, White House officials said because of the weather they could not get the helicopters over to Kabul and they didn't have a face-to-face meeting. Then there was going to be a video teleconference, that didn't happen either, but they did talk by phone.

This visit happens on a day when bad jobs numbers came out. The numbers are these -- 9.8 percent unemployment. The rate is the worst in seven months and 19 straight months it's been above nine percent now -- that's the longest since the Depression.

When you add underemployment, it's at 17 percent -- that includes part- time workers who want to be full time and also people who gave up looking for work.

All of this on one day and we're going to talk about it all with the panel, Chris Stirewall, Fox News Politics editor digital, Nina Easton, Washington bureau chief of Fortune magazine, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer.

Charles, there are cynical people out there who note this is the fourth time President Obama has been out of the country for the fourth time the employment numbers were released. The White House says this trip was planned for a long time. But still he didn't talk about unemployment today.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I'm sure it's entirely a coincidence. It's also the fact that the president likes to do stuff on his anniversaries. For example, he signed the START treaty or initialed it earlier in year on the one-year verse of the day he gave a speech in Europe about denuclearizing the world.

This visit comes a year and two days after announcing the escalation in the war in Afghanistan. He sees himself of world-historical and he see history starting and ending on the days he does stuff, and he honors his own anniversaries. So I think that was a larger issue here. But if he wanted to be a year on he could have gone on Wednesday and been home for announcement of the employment numbers.

But nonetheless, it's good that he goes. The troops need to see the commander in chief. And in some ways it makes up for the fact, although not entirely, that he doesn't keep the nation in on the war. He doesn't make the kind of speeches a president has to make, FDR did, that presidents have done in the middle of a war and it's a serious war. You want to address the country. He does it sporadically, and it's not surprising that there is so much unease and opposition to war that a president does not speak about often in public.

BAIER: Let's talk quickly about the Afghanistan trip and then come back to unemployment. He did not meet face to face with Hamid Karzai. There are these WikiLeaks document dump that includes some diplomatic cables about how concerns diplomats are about Karzai's leadership of the country.

NINA EASTON, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, FORTUNE MAGAZINE: The bad weather was actually the best part of the trip for President Obama. That was good luck on his part, because he did not need to be seen face-for-face with Hamid Karzai right now.

Not only WikiLeaks, which show this is the third-most corrupt country in the world according to some figures, behind Somalia, where you see bribes and payoffs for political office and so on -- that's who we're fighting for. You also have Hamid Karzai a few weeks ago how grateful he is to the Iranians for the bags of cash they're bringing in the country.

So this is not, and I think to Charles' point, he does, the president is losing traction on making the case for the war because this is what the public sees. The public sees this corrupt regime and our troops fighting, in the public's mind, on behalf of this corrupt regime. We're also seeing here at home, the homegrown terrorists. Afghanistan was a link to terrorism and now we see terrorism here. He is supposed to make the case in 10 days and he's really got to work at that.

BAIER: Chris?

CHRIS STIREWALT, FOX NEWS POLITICAL EDITOR-DIGITAL: He has a serious problem with his base. The challenge for the president right now and basically what is going on is this. In 10 days what they're going to say is when we said 2011 we were kind of kidding. We were being too optimistic about 2011 withdrawal from Afghanistan. We really meant 2012, 14, 15, some another date down the road.

And liberals who are already very upset with the president and think he is not tough enough on taxes or this or that, they're in an angry mood. When the president comes out two weeks hence and says we'll be in Afghanistan longer than you expected, he will be in a difficult and unenviable political position, and that is reliant almost completely on Republicans to support the foreign policy endeavors, and that's not where the Democratic president wants to be.

BAIER: On the unemployment numbers, here is what the vice president said today to reporters about the news.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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