Congressman King Schools Soledad O'Brien on Obama's 'Apology Tour'

CNN's Soledad O'Brien on Monday felt the need to defend Barack Obama from criticism that his policies are at least partially responsible for the recent anti-American hostilities transpiring in the Middle East and other parts of the globe.

During a heated debate with Congressman Peter King (R-N.Y.) on Starting Point, O'Brien got a much-needed education on the President's "apology tour" (video follows with CNN transcript and commentary):

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, HOST: Let me play a little bit of what you said on Friday. You talked about the president going on an apology tour. I want to play a little chunk of that.



KING: President Obama's policies in summer of 2009, he took his apology, I believe have not helped the United States. They have weakened our position in the Middle East. They have provided -- sent a very mixed message, a confusing message. Combine that with the way he treats Netanyahu and Israel, and the pulling troops out of Iraq without getting status of forces agreement, the apologies.

You put it all together and I think what we saw this week is in many ways a logical result of all that.


O'BRIEN: Let's talk about that last line. What we saw this week is in many ways a logical result of all that. Are you saying that the president is responsible and his policies responsible for the death of American ambassador to Libya?

KING: I'm saying the president's policies have sent a confused message. For instance, take Egypt. Here is a country getting $1.6 billion in aid, annual aid, from the United States. You have President Morsi for the first day, the entire day of our embassy being under attack, did virtually nothing to protect us and was actually putting out statements in Arabic where he was sympathizing with the demonstrators and those attacking the American embassy.

What it's done is it's created a climate, it's created an attitude in the Middle East where our allies don't trust us, where those who are undecided are starting to hedge their bets and turn against us. For instance in Iraq, the president talks about how he pulled out troops out of Iraq. The fact is he was given a glide path in Iraq. He pulled the truth out without get establish of forces agreement, leaving any troops behind. Now Iran is emerging as a major power in that region where if we had our troops there that would not happen.

O'BRIEN: But you've been talking about an apology tour. As you know that matches the framing of other people.

Donald Rumsfeld says he's made a practice of trying to apologize for America, he's talking about the president.

Mitt Romney has said I will not and never apologize for America. I don't apologize for America.

Tim Pawlenty back in February was saying, Mr. President, stop apologizing.

Where do you see an apology? You called it an apology tour. You said the apologies. What apologies are you specifically talking about?

KING: I would say when he was in Cairo in 2009, when he was basically apologizing for American policies, saying American policies sometimes have gone too far --

O'BRIEN: Never once in that speech, as you know, which I have the speech right here. That was -- he never once used the word apology. He never once said I'm sorry.

KING: Didn't have to. The logical -- any logical reading of that speech or the speech he gave in France where he basically said that the United States can be too aggressive --

O'BRIEN: That was on April 3rd in 2009. Right. But that's not apology. People --

KING: It is. I do consider it -- we're apologizing for -- we have nothing to apologize to the Muslim world at all. We have not sacrificed our ideals.

He was overseas criticizing American officials and the CIA and others when he says that we lost our ideals. These are the people who kept us safe for eight, nine years against Islamic terrorists.

O'BRIEN: Everybody keeps talking about this apology tour and apologies from the president.

KING: It is.

O'BRIEN: I'm trying to find the words I'm sorry, I apologize in any of those speeches. Which I have the text of all those speeches in front of me. None of those speeches at all, if you go to which we check in a lot, they all say the same thing. They fact check this.

KING: I don't care what fact check says.

O'BRIEN: There are fact checks. You may not care, but they're a fact checker. I'm reading the speeches.

KING: No. Soledad, what I'm saying is any common sense interpretation of those speeches, the president's apologizing for the American position. That's the apology tour.

That's the way it's interpreted in the Middle East. If I go over and say that the U.S. has violated its principles, that the United States has not shown respect for Islam, that's an apology. How else can it be interpreted?

O'BRIEN: I think plenty of people are interpreting it as a nuanced approach to diplomacy is how some people are interpreting it. So I don't think that everybody agrees it's apology.

KING: I don't interpret it that way.

O'BRIEN: Clearly.

KING: More importantly, our enemies don't interpret it that way.

O'BRIEN: I don't know that that's necessarily the case. I think that's what we're trying to figure out.

KING: I think it is. That's where we have an honest difference of opinion.

Yes, she really said "a nuanced approach to diplomacy."

With that in mind, here are some excerpts from the President's June 4, 2009, Cairo address. You decide if they are nuanced or apologies:

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We meet at a time of great tension between the United States and Muslims around the world -- tension rooted in historical forces that go beyond any current policy debate. The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of coexistence and cooperation, but also conflict and religious wars. More recently, tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations. Moreover, the sweeping change brought by modernity and globalization led many Muslims to view the West as hostile to the traditions of Islam.

Sound like an apology to you or "nuance?" How about this, which reads to me as an apology for the Iraq War:

OBAMA: Let me also address the issue of Iraq. Unlike Afghanistan, Iraq was a war of choice that provoked strong differences in my country and around the world. Although I believe that the Iraqi people are ultimately better off without the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, I also believe that events in Iraq have reminded America of the need to use diplomacy and build international consensus to resolve our problems whenever possible. (Applause.) Indeed, we can recall the words of Thomas Jefferson, who said: "I hope that our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us that the less we use our power the greater it will be."

Again - apology or "nuance?" And how about this:

OBAMA: And finally, just as America can never tolerate violence by extremists, we must never alter or forget our principles. Nine-eleven was an enormous trauma to our country. The fear and anger that it provoked was understandable, but in some cases, it led us to act contrary to our traditions and our ideals. We are taking concrete actions to change course. I have unequivocally prohibited the use of torture by the United States, and I have ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed by early next year.

Or this: "In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government."

Or this: "The struggle for women's equality continues in many aspects of American life."

So, was this speech, as King said, a fine example of Obama's "apology tour," or was O'Brien correct in stating it's a "nuanced approach to democracy?"

(HT Ann Coulter)

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