Media conservatives: Obama's goal is to be "liked" by allies

››› ››› SARAH PAVLUS

Conservative media figures have suggested that President Obama's actions during his recent trip to Europe and the Middle East were motivated by a desire to be liked, rather than by U.S. interests.

Numerous conservative media figures have suggested that President Obama's actions during his recent trip to Europe and the Middle East were motivated by a desire to be liked, rather than by a desire to promote the best interests of the U.S. For example, discussing Obama's April 3 speech in Strasbourg, France, on the April 7 edition of CNN Newsroom, Hill columnist and Republican strategist Cheri Jacobus said, "I think he's more concerned with his personal popularity and being personally liked -- which he is now in Europe -- than about the strength of the United States." Other examples include:

  • During an April 6 interview with former New York City Mayor and Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani on Fox News' Your World, host Neil Cavuto said, "But, you know, when you were mayor, I guess you didn't care whether people liked you or not. You were like a bull in a china shop. But the rap against this president is that he likes to be liked, and it's important globally that the United States, in his view, be liked."
  • On the April 6 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, during a discussion of Obama's remarks that day to the Turkish parliament, Fox News contributor Mary Katharine Ham said: "Well, I hate to go back to the campaign talking points here, but he is an American liberal from Hyde Park who has a little bit too much of this blame America vibe going on. I don't think it does a lot of good. There's one thing to change the face and sort of change the rhetoric and the way he speaks is different, certainly, and people think he's very popular. But where are the dividends? He has to make sure that he's looking out for American interests." Host Bill O'Reilly responded, "Look, these speeches are written. He goes over them line by line. He -- Barack Obama's an academic. He knows what he's saying. Why, Mary Katharine, would he even go there?" Ham answered: "Because he thinks that being liked is the point."
  • On the April 7 edition of his Fox News show, Sean Hannity commented, "Do we need to be liked? I mean, is that -- is that the goal, that we want, you know, the socialists and the elites in Europe to like us, and that somehow we're going to apologize for removing an, you know, an evil dictator, Saddam Hussein? That's basically what [Obama is] doing. He's on an apologizing for America tour."
  • During the April 7 edition of Fox News' Special Report, Weekly Standard executive editor and Fox News host Fred Barnes said: "Look, this trip was all about selling Obama. He's pretty good at selling himself. You know, he got a lot of adulation in Europe, which is easy when you don't push them. I mean, Bush pushed them to do things that they didn't want to do. And Obama was pretty easy -- oh, OK, they didn't send combat troops, but, you know, he didn't seem to be much bothered by that. And they loved him. You know, particularly when you criticize America in Europe, they love it. The Europeans love it when you say you've -- Americans dissed the Europeans, you know. They love that."

From the April 7 edition of CNN Newsroom:

TONY HARRIS (host): And [Democratic strategist] Peter [Fenn], if you would, let me -- let me jump in -- yeah, let me jump in here, because Cheri, I get the criticism that -- and I've heard a lot of criticism over that first statement from the president. But it seemed to me the president was trying to say that no one has been perfect here on other side of the Atlantic. And what I haven't heard discussed much by critics of the president in this regard is this part of the statement. Let's roll that part of the statement.

OBAMA [video clip]: In Europe, there is an anti-Americanism that is at once casual but can also be insidious. Instead of recognizing the good that America so often does in the world, there have been times where Europeans choose to blame America.

HARRIS: OK. And you see what I'm getting at here, Cheri. Are there --

FENN: He's very balanced --

HARRIS: -- are any of these countries under -- Peter, hang on for just a second. Are any of these countries, in your opinion, under the illusion now from the president's trip and his willingness to sound this tone, that we are somehow a weak nation now?

JACOBUS: I think it was inappropriate for the president of the United States to go over there with that type of an attitude. He did not have to give a speech like that. He didn't even have to make a sweeping generalization.

You lead by example; you lead by strength. As you know, he asked for help in Afghanistan. Belgium is sending 35 military trainers -- trainers over, and Spain is sending 12. That's all we're getting.

So I think he's more concerned with his personal popularity and being personally liked -- which he is now in Europe -- than about the strength of the United States. They're two very different things.

He even got -- it's gotten so bad that he had to go out there and say, I am not naïve. When the president of the United States feels that it's necessary to proactively claim that he is not naïve, I think -- I think we're in a sticky situation.

From the April 6 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:

CAVUTO: But, you know, when you were mayor, I guess you didn't care whether people liked you or not. You were like a bull in a china shop. But the rap against this president is that he likes to be liked, and it's important globally that the United States, in his view, be liked. And I don't know whether Europe collectively just likes Democrats more.

GIULIANI: Oh, they do. Of course they do.

CAVUTO: But -- but --

GIULIANI: The philosophy is much more similar.

CAVUTO: Right.

GIULIANI: Europe tends to be more of a social democracy. The Democratic Party in the United States reflects more of that social-democratic view. Although --

CAVUTO: So maybe he could parlay that love into something, whereas Republicans could not.

GIULIANI: Well, I -- Europe is one thing; North Korea is a different thing.

CAVUTO: Right.

GIULIANI: North Korea -- you don't want love from North Korea, you want respect. And that's what you want from --

CAVUTO: Can you negotiate with a nut, though, Mayor? If the guy is just a nut, if he's just insane --

GIULIANI: You've got to negotiate from a position of great strength. You cannot negotiate with a nut without preconditions. That was part of that debate going back a long time ago between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. You can't negotiate with a dictator and a tyrant without preconditions. You can negotiate with a reasonable person.

From the April 6 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

JUAN WILLIAMS (Fox News contributor): I think he was identifying -- he's trying to identify with people. That's why he says he has Muslim relatives. He's lived in a Muslim country -- Indonesia. He's trying to say I understand. And he's changing the face of America to the world.

Remember, George Bush said many of the same things about America not being at war with Islam. But coming from Barack Obama, I got to believe -- and I think you do, too -- that the Islamic world is going to hear it differently.

O'REILLY: Maybe. Look.

WILLIAMS: But his outreach has a better chance of succeeding.

O'REILLY: There's no -- there's no question, Mary Katharine, that the Islamic world likes --

HAM: Right.

O'REILLY: Barack Obama better than President Bush.

WILLIAMS: Yeah.

O'REILLY: OK, fine.

HAM: Yes.

O'REILLY: But before it's all over, they may hate Barack Obama.

WILLIAMS: Yeah.

HAM: Right.

O'REILLY: We get hit again, Barack Obama's going to have to wipe out a few countries. OK?

HAM: Well, like --

O'REILLY: So, let's put that right where it should be. But I'm going to ask you the same question I asked Juan. What good does it do to go to Turkey and to say, you know, we had some problems in the 19th century that weren't really good. What does that accomplish?

HAM: Well, I hate to go back to the campaign talking points here, but he is an American liberal from Hyde Park who has a little bit too much of this blame America vibe going on. I don't think it does a lot of good. There's one thing to change the face and sort of change the rhetoric and the way he speaks is different, certainly, and people think he's very popular. But where are the dividends? He has to make sure that he's looking out for American interests. And so far --

O'REILLY: But why do you think he did that?

HAM: -- the only thing --

O'REILLY: Look, these speeches are written. He goes over them line by line. He -- Barack Obama's an academic. He knows what he's saying. Why, Mary Katharine, would he even go there?

HAM: Because he thinks that being liked is the point.

O'REILLY: So -- so --

HAM: And I'm not sure he's working strategically towards --

O'REILLY: -- so to put America in a bad light other, people like you for doing that?

WILLIAMS: No.

HAM: Well, the Europeans do, certainly. That's part of it. And I hate to generalize here, and liberals, God bless them -- they enjoy apologizing for America, because we're powerful --

O'REILLY: Well, there's something to that.

HAM: -- because we're a leader in the world.

From the April 7 edition of Fox News' Hannity:

WILLIAMS: So you think that Barack Obama is seen the same way that George W. Bush is seen in the Arab world?

S.E. CUPP (columnist): No, unfortunately he's not right now --

WILLIAMS: No.

CUPP: -- because he's bending over backwards.

WILLIAMS: Oh, stop. No, no, no.

CUPP: But eventually --

WILLIAMS: I'm just telling you --

CUPP: -- eventually --

WILLIAMS: -- George Bush -- you know, I don't have nothing against President Bush. In fact, I consider him a friend. But I'm going to tell you something. In terms of the way the world perceived America under Bush's administration, we were seen as aggressors, and he made a mess of [inaudible] relationships.

CUPP: But what he's doing right now is not winning him any favor in that -- in that part of the world.

WILLIAMS: All right. Why do you say that?

CUPP: It's not working.

HANNITY: Let me -- let me bring Jason in here. Do we need to be liked? I mean, is that -- is that the goal, that we want, you know, the socialists and the elites in Europe to like us, and that somehow we're going to apologize for removing an, you know, an evil dictator, Saddam Hussein? That's basically what he's doing. He's on an apologizing for America tour.

JASON SEHORN (former NFL player): I've wondered how many times we're going to have to hear people say, "But the other countries will now look at us differently."

How concerned are we really with other country's perception of us? Shouldn't we be more concerned with the perception of our own country from within? Should we be more concerned with how we look at ourselves, how we perceive how life is here in America, instead of what we think other people perceive of us in other countries, especially Europe, of all places?

CUPP: Right.

SEHORN: And on top of that, I think it's quite obvious that the true Muslim world knows we're friends to them. We've done -- we've helped them out of many wars, many instances. The extremists may not believe that, and they never will. So there's no sense in talking to them.

From the April 7 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:

BARNES: I'm not holding my breath that they're going to come around on those things. They just don't want to do them. Look, I want to comment on what President Obama said in Iraq --

BAIER: In Iraq.

BARNES: -- in praising the soldiers. Now that is -- remember, what he said was, his phrase was they had -- they brought about an extraordinary achievement. I mean, this is by far the closest thing he's ever said to actually saying we were successful in Iraq and succeeded. It was a victory.

Obviously he wasn't going to give President Bush any credit, but he did give the soldiers "extraordinary achievement." Well, indeed, he's right. Maybe someday he will get around to calling it a success as well.

Look, this trip was all about selling Obama. He's pretty good at selling himself. You know, he got a lot of adulation in Europe, which is easy when you don't push them. I mean, Bush pushed them to do things that they didn't want to do. And Obama was pretty easy -- oh, OK, they didn't send combat troops, but, you know, he didn't seem to be much bothered by that.

And they loved him. You know, particularly when you criticize America in Europe, they love it. The Europeans love it when you say you've -- Americans dissed the Europeans, you know. They love that.

The other thing that was -- where he may have helped, in Turkey, by making sure Turkey stays in the United -- in, rather, NATO. He may have helped in Iraq, you know, telling President -- Prime Minister Maliki, look, you've got to really cool this friction that's going on and violence between the Sunnis and Shia that has picked up a little bit. And that may be successful.

In Iraq, though, you know, Obama likes to sell himself to constituencies, and the military is a very important constituency that Bill Clinton lost, George Bush had, and Obama's going after it.

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