Saturday evening, a friend suggested that I watch the midnight rerun of Judge Jeanine Pirro's Fox News program for her interview segment with a Democrat and a Republican about this weekend's closing of 22 embassies overseas in response to terrorist threats.
Ryan Clayton was the Democrat whose arguments blaming George W. Bush's administration for the current level of threats in the Middle East were so weak that he was reduced to childishly reminding viewers that 9/11 happened on George W. Bush's watch (as if we didn't know, and as if eight years of previous Clinton administration weakness were irrelevant). Clayton has an interesting history, which I will note at the end of this post. The Judge Jeanine segment follows the jump.
Ms. Pirro has some fans who have already put the segments from last night's show up on YouTube. The one with Clayton and Republican Tony Sayegh is here, and the interview itself begins at 0:40. Here is the transcript from that point on (bolds are mine):
Jeanine Pirro: With me Democratic strategist Ryan Clayton and Republican strategist and Fox News Contributor Tony Sayegh. All right, good evening, gentlemen.
Ryan, I'm going to go right to you. The Muslims have always wanted us out of the Middle East. So here we are, poof! Gone! Did they get their wish, Ryan?
Ryan Clayton: Well, y'know I have a lot of family that lives in the Middle East actually, and, um, prior to the Bush administration, uh, living in places like Jordan or Abu Dhabi was, you know, okay. You could be there, you could be an American, it was okay to walk on the street.
But after the President George W. Bush administration, uh, which really just trashed our, uh international reputation, it's a lot harder to live in places like that. And I think what we're finally starting to see is some of the results –
Pirro: Ryan, are you telling me –
Clayton: – of his broken foreign policy.
Pirro: – that this is Bush's fault too? You are not allowed to say that on my show. Bush is not the one –
Clayton: It's the truth.
Pirro: – who's at fault. By the way, President Obama's the one who got us into a third war, said he'd close Gitmo and then didn't, and keeps sending them all of these F-16s and everything else. So, Ryan, let's focus on the question. They want us out and we've never in the history of this country closed as many embassies and consulates as we have now. It's like we're turning tail and running. Yes or no?
Clayton: Well, the temporary closing of American embassies in the Middle East is really what a President would do in the face of such of a threat. Y'know, I mean if, if we were told that there's an imminent threat or an imminent danger, what you would expect the American president to do is to close those temporarily to protect the lives of Americans serving abroad. And that's exactly what Obama has done in this case. It's the right thing to do. I don't know why all these Republican operatives are trying to stir up trouble –
Pirro: Stir up trouble?
Clayton: (unintelligible in crosstalk) ... before anything bad can go wrong.
Pirro: I wish Obama would get involved in some of the trouble like sending people over to secure Americans on that rooftop in Benghazi.
But, Tony, talk to me. Isn't this proof that, uh, y'know the Muslims are getting exactly what they want?
Tony Sayegh: Well Judge, when President Obama was elected, he went to Cairo, he gave a speech. This is of course his first trip. It was called the apology tour. On that trip to the Middle East, he of course skipped over Israel. He went to predominantly Muslim countries.
In that speech he asked for what was called "a new beginning." And I'm sure in Harvard and academia and among progressive like Ryan, that seemed like it was a smart move to win us friends in the Muslim world. Well guess what?
Pirro: Did it?
Sayegh: Not at all. It showed a softer line. And what have we seen since the time President Obama's become President? A nuclear Iran, Syria unleashing mass carnage and chaos among its people. We're not responding. Russia's dictating Middle East policy. We've totally taken a back seat to the Russians and the Europeans for the first time in the history of the United States, protecting our interests in the Middle East. We've undermined our biggest ally, Israel, by saying they should go back to the '67 borders. And what did we do in Egypt? We threw out Hosni Mubarak, the only stabilizing force –
Pirro: We threw him under the bus.
Sayegh: -- who was our ally for decades.
Pirro: Got in Morsi, and now he's out. But Ryan, let me ask you a question. Isn't it true that this apology tour and not responding to Benghazi, and, y'know, all of these weak, paper threats, has emboldened some of these, some of these Al Qaeda and, uh, its affiliates in, in the Maghreb, in, in North Africa?
Clayton: Well I think what, y'know, national security advisers for many years now, uh, such as Richard Clarke and other folks that have had a real eye on the situation in the Middle East say, is that when we go over and we bomb countries into rubble, and we bomb them back to medieval times, that creates a lot of people that get very angry at us. And so it's essentially a terrorism factory, what we've been doing in Iraq and in Afghanistan and throughout the Middle East. And if we keep blowing things up there and blowing people up there –
Pirro: Okay –
Clayton: There gonna be a lot of angry people at us.
Pirro: Okay, what about the drone strikes? Isn't it Obama who's doing the drone strikes? Isn't it Obama who said he was gonna close Gitmo and never did? Isn't it Obama who, who said that, uh, who expanded the NSA? But (looking towards Sayegh in-studio) let me have you in.
Tony Sayegh: Judge, he upped the drone strikes. President Obama has actually been more aggressive in the use of drones than President George W. Bush.
Pirro: Ryan, according to your thinking then, it's got to be the, President Obama's fault!
Clayton: Well, what I want to ask Tony is, do you want us to stop the drone strikes, then? I mean, I would agree with that, and I actually supported that?
Tony Sayegh: Not at all. I would say that the only successes the President has had in foreign policy has been the continuation of the successful policies Bush policies, like drone strikes, like using the intelligence that we got from enhanced interrogation to capture and kill Osama bin Laden. And –
Pirro: Let Ryan go. I want to hear this.
Clayton: And what I would say is when you break the Geneva Conventions and you start torturing people and you start blowing up people in other parts of the country with drone strikes, you're essentially creating a terrorism factory. That is what people who are actually involved in national security say. (continues, but not intelligible)
Tony Sayegh: Well take that up with President Obama, Ryan.
Pirro: You can't have it both ways, Ryan!
Tony Sayegh: Can we bring this back to Benghazi realy quick? I-It's a very important matter to remember. We've still not done anything to respond to the Benghazi attacks. We know that Ansar al-Sharia was responsible for it, he, they took the credit for doing it.
What did we learn from Al Qaeda? After 9/11, when we investigated it, we realized that the embassy bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam were the canaries in the coal mine. And then the, the USS Cole bombed in the Port of Aden. They knew when America didn't respond then, that they could do it again. We've not deterred any, uh, uh, Al Qaeda-related threats on our embassy. And that's why you have to close 22, because of the threats.
Pirro: Ryan, last word, real fast.
Clayton: Well, you know what I want to say is that the number one terrorist attack on American soil happened under the watch of the last Republican president, George W. Bush, when we were attacked.
Tony Sayegh: That's a really low blow, Ryan. You should be a little more dignified about it.
Clayton: It's the truth. It's the truth.
Pirro: All right, I told you this wasn't about George Bush.
Tony Sayegh: It happened (unintelligible) of Bill Clinton. That's when it happened.
Pirro: And maybe next week, we'll talk about –
Tony Sayegh: Iran wasn't nuclear under George Bush.
Pirro: Ryan and Tony. Love you both.
Clayton: Thanks for having us.
Little did I know until doing a bit of research for this post that Clayton is the guy who had to be "escorted from the theater" during the October 2012 premier of Hating Breitbart in Washington DC. Clayton reportedly "got up and started screaming in the middle of the film." Matthew Balan of NewsBusters was among those who attended, and reported that "Clayton somehow thought it was appropriate to add his own commentary track and laughed like a hyena at various points."
Clayton actually appears in Hating Breitbart, during which "he talks about the need for civil discourse in society," but also is shown shouting "bogus allegations of cocaine use and soliciting male prostitutes at Breitbart in 2011."
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.