Laura Ingraham Tweaks 'Today' On Obama Obsession

The "Today" show devoted much of last week's coverage of Obama's European trip to obsessing over such frivolous matters as what Michelle Obama was wearing and what kind of gift the Obamas gave the Queen, so when Laura Ingraham was invited on Wednesday's "Today" show, the conservative radio talk show host couldn't resist knocking the silly coverage, as seen in the following exchange with NBC's Matt Lauer (audio available here):

MATT LAUER: So let's be fair and say that he didn't come away accomplishing what he went there to accomplish, but is it possible to say, look at it slightly differently, Laura, and say some of these things take a while to bear fruit and that perhaps some of these leaders, other leaders were reluctant to come forward with some of these things under the glare of the summit spotlight and they may be more forthcoming in the coming weeks and months?

LAURA INGRAHAM: Well I don't know, I guess that's possible. But look we, we know that Europe loves President Obama. He had adoring crowds. The press loves Obama. The question is how will this date end? Okay? The question is, to what end? Why do they love President Obama? They love his personal story, they love his wife. North Korea, China and Russia don't really care about Michelle's arms and, you know, whether they gave an iPod to the Queen, okay? They care about whether America is still going to lead, exhibit strength and doesn't just talk about these vague concepts, Matt, of global cooperation.

For his part, the one time Lauer attempted to be critical of Obama, in his over-apologizing for America, he stopped short as he claimed Obama's "apologetic" stance was just being "honest."

LAUER: Well let me take it a step further because some critics of, of President Obama say the reason the Europeans love him is, is less about respect and more about the fact that he's been somewhat apologetic, and some would call that honest, and, and, and the Europeans like this.

Right before Ingraham's appearance NBC's foreign correspondent Richard Engel contrasted the praise Iraqis had for Obama to the shoe-throwing hatred for the President who freed them from Saddam Hussein's oppression:

ENGEL: Across Baghdad, President Obama was warmly welcomed. At a barber shop, I asked Kaid Abdel-Qatar (sp?) if President Obama is turning a page in relations with Muslims? "Yes," he said, "A new chapter is what we need." Next door the baker told me, "Obama cares about Islam. We didn't see this from President Bush." During former President Bush's last visit a journalist threw two shoes at him. The reporter was sentenced to three years in prison, but many Iraqis sympathized with his anger. Yesterday a court here reduced the sentence to just one year.

The following is a complete transcript of the Engel set-up piece followed by the full interview segment with Ingraham as it was aired on the April 8, "Today" show:

MEREDITH VIEIRA: But first President Obama back home at the White House after an unannounced tour of Iraq's war zone. NBC's chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel is in Baghdad for us this morning. Richard, good morning to you.

RICHARD ENGEL: Good morning, Meredith. U.S. troops and Iraqis today are both welcoming President Obama's visit after he made a surprise stop to Baghdad's Camp Victory. At times, the room looked frenzied. Hundreds of U.S. troops clamored to take photographs of President Obama in the rotunda of what had been Saddam Hussein's favorite palace.

BARACK OBAMA: I love you back! It is time for us to transition to the Iraqis. They, they need to take responsibility for their country and for their sovereignty.

ENGEL: The President promised to stick to a plan, to pull out combat forces by August 2011.

OBAMA: We have not forgotten what you've already done. We are grateful for what you will do, and as long as I'm in the White House, you are going to get the support that you need.

ENGEL: Across Baghdad, President Obama was warmly welcomed. At a barber shop, I asked Kaid Abdel-Qatar (sp?) if President Obama is turning a page in relations with Muslims? "Yes," he said, "A new chapter is what we need." Next door the baker told me, "Obama cares about Islam. We didn't see this from President Bush." During former President Bush's last visit a journalist threw two shoes at him. The reporter was sentenced to three years in prison, but many Iraqis sympathized with his anger. Yesterday a court here reduced the sentence to just one year. Reaching out to Muslims was one of President Obama's main themes. He arrived in Baghdad from Istanbul, Turkey, once the capital of the Muslim world. With his shoes off he toured the city's famed Blue Mosque.

OBAMA: It's spectacular.

ENGEL: And Hagia Sophia, itself a symbol of reconciliation. Once a church, then a mosque, now it's a museum. The President told Turkish students he's committed to more engagement with Muslims.

OBAMA: We can't afford to talk past one another to focus only on our differences.

ENGEL: Asked how he was different from President Bush, Mr. Obama said, "Steering the U.S. is like piloting a big tanker."

OBAMA: They're not like speedboats. You can't just whip them around and go in a new direction. Instead, you've got to slowly move it and then eventually you end up in a very different place.

ENGEL: Tomorrow marks the sixth anniversary of the fall of Saddam Hussein's government. Thousands of demonstrators are expected to gather in the square where Saddam's statue was pulled down. They will be calling for all U.S. troops to leave Iraq. Matt?

MATT LAUER: Alright Richard Engel in Baghdad for us this morning. Richard thank you very much. So was the President's first trip overseas a success? Laura Ingraham is a Fox News analyst and nationally syndicated radio host. Laura, good to see you, good morning.

[On screen headline: "Conservative Criticism, Is Obama Apologizing For America?"]

LAURA INGRAHAM: Hey Matt.

LAUER: Let, let's start with the brass tacks of the trip. The, the President went with some stated goals. He wanted money from these other leaders to help with the global economic recovery. He wanted some help in Afghanistan, whatever form that might have taken, whether military or financial. Wanted to talk about nuclear non-proliferation. So give him a report card on those subjects.

INGRAHAM: Well look, first when it comes to getting all these countries to give two percent of their GDP for this global stimulus, I mean they took that off the table before they even went overseas on this big trip. So that was completely lost. This idea that we were going to, you know, bring people to the table and we were going to, you know, come up with this, this, this plan that was gonna make the world safer. I mean look, we're gonna meet with the Russians at some point in the next year. There's no clear sense that, that's going to accomplish anything. We know Russia, Matt, was set to eliminate some of these defense systems and update their defense systems and this was a conversation that the Russians started to have with President Bush. So I don't think we've, we've seen much there. Look what we do-

LAUER: So let's be fair and say that he didn't come away accomplishing what he went there to accomplish, but is it possible to say, look at it slightly differently, Laura, and say some of these things take a while to bear fruit and that perhaps some of these leaders, other leaders were reluctant to come forward with some of these things under the glare of the summit spotlight and they may be more forthcoming in the coming weeks and months?

INGRAHAM: Well I don't know, I guess that's possible. But look we, we know that Europe loves President Obama. He had adoring crowds. The press loves Obama. The question is how will this date end? Okay? The question is, to what end? Why do they love President Obama? They love his personal story, they love his wife. North Korea, China and Russia don't really care about Michelle's arms and, you know, whether they gave an iPod to the Queen, okay? They care about whether America is still going to lead, exhibit strength and doesn't just talk about these vague concepts, Matt, of global cooperation-

LAUER: Right.

INGRAHAM: -but actually backs up talk with action. And that's-

LAUER: And let me take that-

INGRAHAM: -where I think he failed. The North Korea missile test was his first test and what's happened since? The UN Security Council - a deafening silence. Now the popularity of Obama is so far not translating into a lot. But look he's well liked and you know he has succeeded, I think, in turning page. But the Europeans haven't done much yet.

LAUER: Well let me take it a step further because some critics of, of President Obama say the reason the Europeans love him is, is less about respect and more about the fact that he's been somewhat apologetic, and some would call that honest, and, and, and the Europeans like this. This is less about respect and more about Schadenfreude. They like to see a diminished United States. Would you be on that bandwagon?

INGRAHAM: Well yeah they, they like to see America on her knees, until they need America. So they love the fact that he said, "We're arrogant, Americans don't understand Europe." They love the fact that he continues to talk about, you know, America and her flaws and, and "Yeah, America, I believe in American Exceptionalism but the Greeks believed in their exceptionalism and, and Britain believes in her exceptionalism."

LAUER: But wasn't he pretty even-handed with that Laura? I think the, the part of the speech that you're referring to right now, let me read it as I throw my glasses on here. He said, quote, "In America, there's a failure to appreciate Europe's leading role in the world. Instead of celebrating your dynamic union and seeking to partner with you to meet common challenges, there have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even, even derisive." But in the next sentence he went on to say, "But in Europe there's an anti-Americanism that is at once casual but can also be insidious." So what's wrong with kind of starting from that base level of saying, "We've both been to blame in the past?"

INGRAHAM: Well it, it, that's fine, that's fine. And he did say that. There was one or two mentions of that. But I think what we didn't hear from the President is a challenge to Europe, a strong challenge, to say, "Look I'm asking my people back at home to sacrifice in this time of, of global crisis. We need Europeans to sacrifice more. We need you to make a real commitment, militarily to securing liberty and freedom in the world and we will lead, we always have and we will continue to lead. I'm not making apologize, apologies for America's desire to lead the world. We believe we have the right path forward. We're listening to you but we're leading." He got not a single French troop, Matt. Not a single French troop to join the effort in Afghanistan. Nothing! They got a paltry increase in the number of troops going to Afghanistan on this trip. For someone who is this popular and so, you know, laudatory about global cooperation and these ideals, he comes home with precious little in terms of results, in global cooperation. That's my point. Is he well liked? Absolutely.

LAUER: Okay.

INGRAHAM: Does he have a beautiful family? Yes. Does it result in actual benefits to us and the American people? I don't think so.

LAUER: Alright Laura Ingraham. Laura, it's good to have you here. As always, nice seeing you, thanks.

INGRAHAM: Thanks Matt.


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