While awaiting President Barack Obama’s remarks on Wednesday concerning national security as the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, ABC News chief anchor, former Clinton staffer, and Clinton Foundation donor George Stephanopoulos couldn’t help but repeatedly gush over the President’s supposedly “forceful rhetoric” on ISIS following the Paris terror attacks.
Turning to chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl, Stephanopoulos proclaimed that “we’ve seen more forceful rhetoric from the President this week” to which Karl agreed by noting that he stood next to French President Francois Hollande on Tuesday and emphasized “that ISIS will be defeated” and to “make no mistake” they “we will win [and] they will lose.”
After paraphrasing the President, Karl observed that it was “[m]uch tougher rhetoric...but still no significantly different strategy towards defeating ISIS.” Moments later, Stephanopoulos circled back to Karl with his original White House talking point:
And Jon Karl, even as the President's rhetoric has become more forceful this week, still no wholesale change in strategy and resisting the kind of moves called by others, including his former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, to impose a no-fly zone in Syria.
Later on before tossing back to network affiliates (as the President was running behind schedule), the Good Morning America and This Week host made a third attempt to drive home the argument to viewers that the President is in a position of strength on ISIS (and not consumed with interest in belittling any and all opposition):
And the President has also continued to speak out strongly, including yesterday with Francois Hollande, the French President, against the idea of those who are saying that we should put a pause button, put a hold on Syrian refugees coming into the United States.
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Meanwhile, the CBS News Special Report featured Saturday’s CBS Evening News anchor Jim Axelrod expressing his concern to national correspondent Chip Reid at the White House that Obama somehow came across as too strong and powerful on ISIS compared to Hollande:
In your view, did the President and — do you feel that he was receiving any sort of criticism coming out of that meeting for the way he appeared next to President Hollande in terms of sort of just the strength of position and articulation of his position about ISIS?
Trying to pull an answer together, Reid gave one that arguably pushed back on Axelrod’s assertion of Obama as tough on the issue:
Well, he certainly had some very strong words, calling ISIS barbaric and making very clear that they need to be destroyed, but, you know, he has had strong words about ISIS before, and some of the criticism has been that his actions don't match his words, and after suggesting yesterday that he does have other plans in the works, people are very curious to see what he does have in the works.
The relevant portions of the transcript from the ABC News Special Report on November 25 can be found below.
ABC News Special Report
November 25, 2015
11:49 a.m. Eastern
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: And Jon Karl, we've seen more forceful rhetoric from the President this week.
JONATHAN KARL: That’s right. We saw him standing next to President Hollande from France saying that ISIS will be defeated. He acknowledged that this group poses a serious threat to all of us but he said make no mistake, we will win, they will lose. Much tougher rhetoric, George, but still no significantly different strategy towards defeating ISIS.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That’s right. The President has still ruled out ground troops, will not use U.S. ground troops in the fight against ISIS and the French have also done the same and the U.S. strategy, the coalition strategy complicated by the shoot down of that Russian plane in Turkey.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And Jon Karl, even as the President's rhetoric has become more forceful this week, still no wholesale change in strategy and resisting the kind of moves called by others, including his former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, to impose a no-fly zone in Syria.
KARL: He's been explicit in saying that what he wants is an intensification of the strategy, not a change in strategy and even that intensification doesn't necessarily imply more U.S. effort. What they have talked about here at the White House is getting our European allies to be more forceful as a member of this coalition, going after ISIS in Syria, but you don't see any talk of anything more aggressive from the United States and the President has been explicit in ridiculing the idea of a no-fly zone. He points out that ISIS doesn't have an air force. This is one of the key planks of Secretary of — former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and something many Republicans have called for, but the President's made it clear that is not something that he sees as advisable and certainly not something that he's going to do.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And the President has also continued to speak out strongly, including yesterday with Francois Hollande, the French President, against the idea of those who are saying that we should put a pause button, put a hold on Syrian refugees coming into the United States.
KARL: And they've pointed out, by the way, that the French have not put a pause on Syrian refugees. President Hollande has made it clear that France will go forward with their plan to allow some 30,000 Syrian refugees to come into France. The President has his plan to bring in some 10,000 to the United States and has made it clear despite any calls from Congress, including some calls from some in his own party that that should be stopped, he says that there is already thorough screening of all Syrian refugees coming into this country, far more than any other foreign travelers to the United States. They are not a threat, and he says it is our moral obligation to welcome at least some of the Syrian refugees in the United States.