Predictable: Ignoring American Safety Concerns, Right-Wing Media Has Uniformly Negative Response To Obama's Libya Remarks

››› ››› MELODY JOHNSON

In the wake of President Obama's remarks about Libya during a February 23 address, right-wing media have collectively expressed the same reaction: that his speech was "pathetic," "wimpy," and "toothless." However, Obama's careful remarks were made in an attempt to keep Americans in Libya out of harm's way.

Fox News Hosts And Contributors Criticize Obama's Remarks For Being "Weak"

Fox Contributor Monica Crowley Calls Obama's Libya Remarks "An Incredibly Tepid, Weak Response." On the February 23 broadcast of Fox News' Hannity, Fox News contributor Monica Crowley called the president's statement on the situation in Libya "an incredibly tepid, weak response." Crowley then went on to say that "if there are two examples that are crying out for presidential leadership, American presidential leadership, it's Iran and Libya. You've got enemy regimes of the United States, state sponsors of terror, heads of those regimes that are themselves terrorists, and yet he cannot give a clarion call of moral support to the people who are trying to overthrow these dictators? Come on." [Fox News' Hannity, 2/23/11]

Hannity: President's Response To Libya Is "Too Little, Too Late." During the February 23 edition of his Fox News program, Sean Hannity said of Obama's statement: "It's so timid, it's so late, too little, too late, so Obama." [Hannity, 2/23/11]

Hayes: Obama's Statement "Projects Weakness." During the February 23 broadcast of Fox News' Special Report, Steve Hayes of The Weekly Standard commented on the president's remarks, stating: "If you take a step back and look at the way the president made the statement, what is the take-away? This projects weakness. It suggests we're impotent." [Fox News' Special Report, 2/23/11, accessed via Nexis]

Krauthammer: Obama's Speech Is "As Weak A Step As One Could Take." During the February 23 edition of Special Report, Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer criticized the president's remarks regarding sending Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Geneva to meet with the U.N. Human Rights Council. Krauthammer referred to the council as "one of the most illegitimate and absurd bodies on the planet." He also stated that "[t]here were a couple of oddities in the statement. ... [I]t's as weak a step as one could take." [News' Special Report, 2/23/11, accessed via Nexis]

Beck: Obama "Sat Libya Out Until Today." During the February 23 edition of his Fox News program, Glenn Beck blamed the timing of Libyan remarks on oil. He stated: "Nine days in the Libyan revolution and, finally, the president speaks. He just did a few minutes ago. He sat Libya out until today. Why? Why not immediately stand up for freedom-loving youth in the Middle East? Why wait nine days? Could it be oil?" [Fox News' Glenn Beck, 2/23/11]

Peters Attacks Obama's Remarks, Dismisses Danger To U.S. Citizens Living In Libya. During the February 23 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, Fox News contributor Ralph Peters attacked Obama's Libya comments, stating: "He really doesn't understand foreign policy. ... His statement today -- it was just so mega-wimpy." When O'Reilly later brought up that the reason Obama did not address Gadhafi was in order to protect Americans in Libya, Peters stated: "That's pure spin." [Fox News' O'Reilly Factor, 2/23/11]

Other Right-Wing Outlets And Pundits Also Attack Obama's Remarks

Buchanan: Obama "Looks Like A Weak Leader." During the February 24 broadcast of MSNBC's Morning Joe, MSNBC contributor Pat Buchanan criticized the president's remarks, stating:

BUCHANAN: Why did he say anything? Why did he come out and say nothing? Basically he says things are unacceptable, but those things are going on right now. I do think he looks like a weak leader, excuse me, when he comes out and makes this, we won't tolerate this --

DONNY DEUTSCH (CNBC host): What would you like him to do, Pat? What would be the playbook?

BUCHANAN: I would like him to do nothing if that's what he's going to do, Donny. For Heaven's sakes. [MSNBC's Morning Joe, 2/24/11]

Weekly Standard Calls Obama's Remarks A "Pathetic Response." In a February 23 Weekly Standard post, titled, "Obama's Pathetic Response to Libya," Elliott Abrams called Obama's remarks "not so much a feeble response as a non-response." From Abrams' post:

The verbs the president employed in his remarks are toothless: we will "monitor" and "coordinate" and "consult." We will "speak with one voice." While he "strongly" condemned "the use of violence in Libya" the president could not bring himself to condemn the regime or its leader, the man who is imposing this reign of terror. He did say "the Libyan government has a responsibility to refrain from violence, to allow humanitarian assistance to reach those in need, and to respect the rights of its people. It must be held accountable for its failure to meet those responsibilities, and face the cost of continued violations of human rights." But at what cost? He did not say. The closest the president came to speaking of action was this: "I've also asked my administration to prepare the full range of options that we have to respond to this crisis. This includes those actions we may take and those we will coordinate with our allies and partners, or those that we'll carry out through multilateral institutions." No one knows what this means, but it presumably may mean sanctions. Maybe. Next week. Because "prepare" is not an action verb either. [The Weekly Standard, 2/23/11]

Hoft: "Obama Jumps Into Action, Makes Weak Statement." In a February 23 post to his Gateway Pundit blog, Jim Hoft called Obama's remarks a "weak statement," and referred to the president as "our fragile leader." [Gateway Pundit, 2/23/11]

But The Reason Obama's Statement Showed Modesty Was To Protect American Citizens In Libya

Obama's Speech Directly Stated That His Intentions Are To "Protect American Citizens." During the president's February 23 comments regarding the unrest in Libya, he stated: "We are doing everything we can to protect American citizens. It is my highest priority." [Reuters, 2/23/11]

CNN: "Hostage Fear A Key Factor" In Obama's Response. In an article posted at 5:43 a.m. February 24, CNN reported that "[w]hile President Obama has taken heat for a relatively muted response in the early days of the crisis in Libya, U.S. officials privately believe it was the best strategy because if Obama had bashed Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, it could have put the thousands of Americans in Libya in harm's way," and could have presented the United States with a possible hostage situation. [CNN, 2/24/11]

U.S. Officials: Obama's Condemnation Delayed To Ensure Evacuation Of Americans From Libya. From a February 23 Reuters article:

Obama, the first U.S. president to meet Gaddafi, has faced criticism in some quarters for not speaking out sooner, but U.S. officials say they have tempered their response to ensure thousands of Americans in Libya can be safely evacuated.

"We are doing everything we can to protect American citizens. It is my highest priority," Obama said at the White House.

Obama spoke as a U.S.-government chartered ferry prepared to evacuate Americans and other foreigners to the island of Malta in the Mediterranean. The U.S. government estimates there are several thousand Americans living in Libya. Most hold dual citizenship with about 600 carrying U.S. passports only.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said high seas were delaying the ferry's departure. "Citizens are safe on board. It will leave when the weather permits," he tweeted. [Reuters, 2/23/11]

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