In comments made in various forums this week, several potential Fox News presidential candidates were critical of the Obama administration's handling of unrest in Egypt. While discussing Egypt, former ambassador John Bolton told a CPAC audience, "I don't think the president cares that much about foreign affairs." Rick Santorum said that Obama was sending mixed messages to U.S. allies and enemies abroad. On This Week, Newt Gingrich confirmed previous comments in which he'd called Obama's response "timid, confused, and amazingly amateurish."
This all stands in sharp contrast to House Speaker John Boehner, who, when asked by David Gregory on Meet the Press, said that the Obama administration had "handled what is a very difficult situation about as well as it could be handled."
From remarks Bolton delivered at CPAC:
BOLTON: The threat of this rising radicalism in the Middle East endangers a whole range of critical American interests. And even in Egypt itself, let's not forget the Coptic Christians. Ten percent of the population, 8 to 10 million people, imagine what would happen to them under strict, radical Islamic Sharia law. Imagine what would happen to their freedom of religion and freedom of conscience. They haven't done any better than anybody else in Egypt under Mubarak's rule, but they will do a lot worse if the Muslim Brotherhood takes control.
All of these interests, our strategic relationship with Israel, our concern for our own economic stability, given the amount of oil and natural gas that royal families running regimes in the Middle East produce, these are not hypothetical or abstract. These have a direct connection to our daily life, to our hope for economic recovery. And the idea that we should not be concerned about these developments in the Middle East is just ignoring the reality of the effect they could have on our economy.
But we have a president in office who doesn't seem to understand what these connections are, which is not hard to understand. I don't think the president cares that much about foreign affairs. I think it gets in the way of nationalizing our health care system, which is what his real priority is. [Media Matters, 1/12/11]
From remarks Santorum delivered at CPAC:
SANTORUM: Well, there are real consequences to what Barack Obama did, and we're seeing them play out on the world stage today. We saw it just in its nascent stage in its early part of his administration when we turned our back on the Poles and the Czechs. And we turned our back on the Israelis. When we turned our back on the Brits. We've turned our backs on almost every one of our allies over the past year and a half, two years. But probably the worst situation was when we turned our backs a year and a half ago in Iran.
SANTORUM: A year and a half later, there are protesters in the street, another corrupt, tyrannical regime, this time in Egypt. This time, a friend of the United States. And what does the president of the United States do? He sides with the protesters.
Now, I'm not suggesting that we shouldn't have sided with the protesters, but what message are we sending to countries around the world who are friends of ours? That when things get tough, we walk away. And what message on the other side are we sending to our enemies? That when things get tough, we'll be with them. [CSPAN, 2/10/11]
From today's edition of CNN's This Week:
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR (host): First of all, you did criticize President Obama's handling of this crisis in Egypt, and you called it "timid, confused, and amazingly amateurish."
GINGRICH: Well, let me just give you one example. When you appoint a very senior diplomat to be your special ambassador, he makes a statement in Munich about what we're doing, and three hours later, the White House is directly contradicting him. That was a level of --
AMANPOUR: What would you have done? What would you have done specifically in the big-picture questions of, you have an ally for 30 years, and then you have people power on the streets?
GINGRICH: Look, I had lunch with George Schultz, who was Ronald Reagan's secretary of state, at the Reagan Library for the hundredth birthday last Sunday. Secretary Schultz said, when you have a situation like this where you've had an ally for 30 years, you stay relatively quiet publicly, and you say to him to privately, "The time has come for you to leave. We are prepared to do what it takes to get you to leave. We'll find a way for you to leave with safety for you and your family. But this is over."
But he said you do it quietly, because every other potential ally in the world is watching you, and if they see you publicly abandon somebody who's been with you for 30 years, they wonder, "Why should I trust the United States?"
From today's edition of NBC's Meet the Press:
GREGORY: I want to talk about Egypt. This is a developing story, and you heard Rick Santorum -- former senator, might run for president -- voicing that view of some Republicans that we were hasty here, and that the United States walked away from a stalwart ally and we don't really know what the consequences will be. Is that your view?
BOEHNER: Well, Egypt's been a strong ally of the United States for the last 30 years. And this is clearly a very complex situation. But when people are crying out for freedom, when they're crying out for democracy, I think our country has a responsibility to listen.
GREGORY: And do you think President Obama did it efficiently, effectively?
BOEHNER: I think they've handled what is a very difficult situation about as well as it could be handled.