CNN's Begala: 'If Barack Obama Cured Cancer,' GOP 'Would Attack Him'

June 5th, 2014 5:51 PM

On Thursday's New Day on CNN, during a discussion of President Obama's decision to release five high-risk Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo Bay in exchange for hostage Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, without even notifying Congress first, liberal CNN commentator Paul Begala took a gratuitous swipe at Republicans as he cracked that, "if Barack Obama cured cancer, the Republicans would attack him for putting oncologists out of work."

At about 8:30 a.m., after conservative commentator Cheri Jacobus gave her view of the Bergdahl prisoner trade, noting that Democrats have also been critical of the President, co-host Chris Cuomo turned to Begala and posed the question:

What's the other side on this issue of whether this is a group of both sides coming after the White House? Or is it just a political football being run by the Republicans?

Begala, who on Wednesday's show asserted that it was an "enormous problem" that President Obama broke the law that required him to inform Congress 30 days before releasing prisoners from Guantanamo, began by suggesting the White House may have had good reason for not doing so:

Yeah, look, there are legitimate, important questions about this, as you know we talked about this yesterday, Chris. I certainly thought the President should have informed the Congress. Now, he's starting to make the case as to why he wasn't able to.

Referring back to a segment from earlier in the show, he added:

Both the intelligence that the two CIA officials you interviewed gave us that perhaps there were threats to his life if this leaked. Also the question of exigent circumstances, maybe he was sick. So there's a legitimate debate there.

The liberal commentator then moved on to attack Republicans:

Then, off to the side, off to the far right side, there's the politics. Everything Barack Obama does, he will be attacked for. President Bush released 520 detainees -- released or transferred to third countries -- 520 detainees from Guantanamo, not a peep from the right. It is true.

Begala concluded:

Look, if Barack Obama cured cancer, the Republicans would attack him for putting oncologists out of work. So you just, it goes with the territory of being Barack Obama. You're going to have some people in the Republican Party who attack anything you do. 

Jacobus then jumped in to challenge him:

That's so unfair, Paul. In this case, that's very, very unfair. Bipartisan or non-partisan, I think everybody at first -- the President was hoping they could get a bump from this. I think the American people, Republicans and Democrats would have cheered had this all been on the up and up. It appears it's not. Susan Rice has been put out there a second time saying the same things that aren't quite accurate. She should stay off TV, they should keep her off TV.

After co-host Kate Bolduan questioned, "What's not accurate about what Susan Rice said?" Jacobus continued:

She goes out with the talking points and saying this was all on the up and up. This is a case where this guy served honorably when there was enough evidence to the contrary.