Roundtable on Obama's White House Visit

Roundtable on Obama's White House Visit

FOX News Special Report With Brit Hume - November 10, 2008




HUME: And so the president and his guest to the sound of countless shutters snapping walked down the colonnade and into the Oval Office. They were talking, as you could hear, but you couldn't make out what they were saying, and that was all we heard them say today.

And so we'll need to do a little tea leaf reading here with our panel, Fred Barnes, Executive Editor of "The Weekly Standard," Mara Liasson, National Political Correspondent for National Public Radio, and the syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, all are FOX News contributors.

There has been a lot of talk about what this meeting probably was like. Your thoughts, Fred?

FRED BARNES, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": You really liked that walk, didn't you?

HUME: That was enjoyable! To see these guys together is a novel thing.

BARNES: I know. I agree. I thought it was terrific.

You know, I have a good idea that President Bush is going to touch on -- did touch on foreign policy threats. You know, one of the things I know he believes in is that when Obama -- forget about what Obama said during the campaign, but that when he gets into office and gets his daily intelligence reports --

HUME: Which he is already getting briefings.

BARNES: --which he is starting to get now, he is going to take a different view of the world, and that will shape his foreign policy more than anything he said during the campaign.

Now, I think that's what President Bush believes and will want to spur him along that way. And I suppose he did some of that.

The other thing is, you know, the Bushes are very gracious and decent people and are great hosts. And I suspect the Obamas had a pretty good time there.

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Yes, look, I think foreign policy is one of those areas where Obama isn't going to want to and doesn't have any plans to do anything in the drastic change department.

There are things he wants to do differently over time, certainly- -you know, maybe pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq faster than somebody else would have wanted.

But I think pretty soon you're going to see the last phase of the Bush administration foreign policy look a lot like the first phase of the Barack Obama foreign policy, mostly because Bush foreign policy has changed. It has changed over eight years and has gotten a lot closer to what Barack Obama was saying it should be, more multi-lateral.

HUME: It was interesting that sometimes during the campaign he was calling for things that were already happening.

LIASSON: That were already happening, yes.

But I also think just one other thing about this transition--this transition, by all accounts, so far, and it is very, very young, has been incredibly seamless and has been working the way that academics tell us a transition should work--maximum cooperation from the outgoing administration.

There was a new law passed in 2004 that actually lets the FBI speed up security clearances. They're using that to get the Obama people what they need.

And so far, it's working pretty well. No b's and o's will be removed from the keyboards.

HUME: This raising an interesting question, Charles, and I don't want to force your hand here, but what person on earth has more in common with Barack Obama and what he faces right now than George W. Bush? I would say no one.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, it is unique in the world and almost historically unique.

I mean, he faces economic issues not quite, of course, at the level of FDR, but a serious crisis which will allow him to do a lot. In fact, he will have a lot of freedom of action. In a crisis American's allow a president a lot of experimentation.

It is a little bit of an exaggeration to say he is being handed over two wars. It is not exactly World War II or Korea, when Eisenhower took over, where we were not doing well at all.

He is being handed a war in Iraq almost won that simply has to be managed in a way that we don't ruin it, and Afghanistan, which is going to be a chronic issue for this administration and the next administration, and, I think. the one after that.

HUME: So if you had to speculate about what this meeting was like and how the two men reacted to each other knowing what you know, what would you think?

KRAUTHAMMER: All of this stuff that you hear in the campaign goes away. I think Obama has a lot he wants to learn from the president about what the threats are out there in the world, what the actors are.

For example, Bush has spent a lot of time on the phone video with a lot of Iraqi leaders so he knows how they operate. Obama will be in a lot of difficult negotiations with the Iraqis. Nobody will know how to do that and what the interlocutors are like than Bush.

But I think even more interesting than having been a fly on the wall at the meeting today would have been at the meeting that Obama had on Friday when the head of the director of national intelligence Mitch McConnell-I think it was on Friday or Thursday.

HUME: Thursday was his first briefing.

KRAUTHAMMER: I have spoken over the last years occasionally with people who have come into high positions in intelligence or in national security, and almost all of them will tell you that at the first briefing their hair stands on edge when they get an idea of the density of the threats out there.

I think probably now less than a couple of years ago, I think the environment is safer. And I think Obama will also be impressed, either in the briefing or with Bush, on what the Bush administration has put in place, a lot of it clandestine, to fight and prevent the threats.

HUME: We did a little piece on that earlier in this broadcast.

KRAUTHAMMER: Exactly. And I think he will have a larger appreciation of what he is going to inherit. A lot of stuff that Democrats have railed against he will appreciate having as president.

HUME: Remember, I guess, it's fair to recall that the relationship that developed almost immediately between Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon following the Nixon election on Vietnam and some other issues.

BARNES: It's not just the Iraqi leaders that Bush has special knowledge of. But he has particular ways of dealing with Putin and Sarkozy, and--

HUME: Who can you count on and who can you not?


HUME: And who will stab you in the back by telling you think privately and another thing publicly. He will get to know all that.

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