June 21st, 2009
06:10 PM ET
13 years ago

Bennett: Obama's reaction to Iran 'very disappointing'

WASHINGTON (CNN) – After more than a week of political protests on the streets of Tehran and repeated criticism of the White House by Republicans on Capitol Hill, a leading conservative voice is also criticizing President Barack Obama’s response to the political upheaval in Iran.

Related: 'The world is watching,' Obama tells Iran

Obama “needs to condemn what the government is doing,” conservative radio talk show host and CNN political contributor Bill Bennett said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.

“He needs to say it in no uncertain terms. This is very disappointing, as far as I’m concerned. This was the president to whom the whole world was looking. . . . This is a president about hope, he’s about the future. This is a guy who was a community organizer. He missed it. He missed the opportunity.”

“We are last best hope on Earth,” Bennett also said. “He is the President of the United States. If he will not side with these young people against a religious autocracy that is beating the hell out of people, what is the point of being the moral leader of the free world?”

Donna Brazile, a Democratic strategist and CNN political contributor, sees the situation differently.

“I think the president has struck the right balance,” Brazile said Sunday.

“If the United States is seen as showing its so-called fist at a moment when the people themselves are speaking out, it could have the adverse effect of rallying those individuals against the United States and not against their government,” the Democrat said.

Related: Obama gives exclusive interview to Pakistani media outlet

Filed under: Bill Bennett • Extra • Iran • Popular Posts • President Obama • State of the Union
soundoff (86 Responses)

    Ah yes, and this comes to you from the
    THE WORLD sees the HYPOCRICY of the 'MORAL' minority.
    The Republicans are attuned to the fine are of DECEPTION.
    They are EXPERTs at TALKING OUT BOTH SIDES OF THEIR MOUTHS. They say one thing, but DO another.

    Blah, Blah, Blah

    Let's NOT ALLOW CNN, Faux News, ABC, CBS, NBC decide what YOU SHOULD TALK ABOUT.


    June 21, 2009 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  2. Chris

    Oh, please.

    Benett and his fellow republican imbeciles wanted to "bomb, bomb Iran" not too long ago. To bomb this very pro-western, democracy-aspiring populace. Now these hypocrites suddenly claim to be on their side?

    The age of empty sloganeering is over, Mr. Bennett. The problem with you and your hardline friends is no different than that of your theocratic equivalents in Iran currently murdering their people: Your knee jerks before your brains kick in. THINK, Mr Bennett, how easily any statement of overt US support for Mousavi or the protesters would be exploited to portray them as pawns of the West.

    In fact, just THINK, period. For a change.

    June 21, 2009 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  3. Jennifer Geddie

    Obama's response has been pitch perfect . Now the Iranian's can not accuse us of being the root of their problems or yell" the Great Satan " is undermining our form of government . The flaws of a theocratic dictatorship are showing themselves to be unpalatable to
    those who believe in freedom of worship and government by representation .

    Bennett and his cronies are suffering from sour grapes dyspepsia
    because our own people have rejected the extremism of the neocons, and because they are painfully jealous of Obama's intellect .

    June 21, 2009 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  4. David Evan

    The President of the United States is doing exactly the right thing. The Bill Bennett's of the world are doing exactly the wrong thing. It's time for the pundit's to shut up, stand with the President, and pray.

    June 21, 2009 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  5. sue

    Why am I not surprised at what Bennett had to say?
    I believe that america should follow their presidents example and not make this about them...The Iranian people do not need your president to stand up for them-they are standing up for themselves! This is about their bravery-about them standing up & speaking out.
    Instead of some crazy GOPs trying to make a comparison with the iranian peoples struggle & the struggle of the GOP (not sure what their struggle was, considering they have been running the country for 8 years...Actually their is more of a comparison between the iranian government & the ultraconservative GOP's-

    We should pray for the iranian people & their fight-but it is THEIRS! STOP TRYING TO STEAL THEIR THUNDER.

    June 21, 2009 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  6. Accountability

    The Conservative response to world affairs in the past 8 years has been such a dismal failure they have no credible basis on which to criticize Obama's approach to Iran.

    If it were up to them they would order surgical strikes on Iran, thus unifying currently fighting factions against the United States and creating yet another generation of suicide bombers and terrorists. Real smart move.....

    Thank God the Republicans have been soundly repudiated in this country for the forseeable future.

    June 21, 2009 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  7. ThinkAboutIt

    There is so much information that conservative radio talk show hosts – not to mention most of the world – do not have privvy to that President Obama does. I trust his judgment in this situation; it isn't done yet, so no one can determine whether or not our President has chosen the right path.

    BTW, remember back in the day whenever someone criticized then-President Bush, they were accused of being unpatriotic, helping our enemies and worse? Why, pray tell, is it now OK for Republicans and Conservatives to do that, ad naseum? What exactly has changed?

    Oh, I know: The Republicans are out of power and that's all they care about. Party first, country last.

    What a bunch of losers!

    June 21, 2009 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  8. CM

    It's interesting that Bennett who wrote a book on ethics could find no fault with George Bush for rushing headlong into war in Iraq, and now finds fault with Obama for taking a considered cool stand on Iran. It appears that for some of these so-called conservatives, nothing but war with other countries will suffice!

    June 21, 2009 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  9. Karen L.

    Mr. Bennett,

    I was raised overseas, so I believe I have a pretty good handle on foreign policy and the role of the United States in the world. The President is handling the Iran situation correctly. We have thrown our arrogant political weight around the world for too many years. We must allow other countries to solve their own problems. We may be the leader of the free world, but that doesn't give us a license to interfere in other countries because they have political unrest. Iran must be allowed to resolve its current political situation. Our foreign policy of the past eight years has presented the United States as the autocratic policeman of the world. President Obama's approach to foreign policy unites us with the world.

    June 21, 2009 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  10. Mark

    You don't miss anything unless it's finished, and the situation in Iran is far from over. Common sense.

    June 21, 2009 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  11. Rich

    Thank God the Neocons are no longer in power. If McCain were in it would be "We're gonna Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, ... Bomb, Bomb Iran," and the Iranian authoritarians would have their political cover to crack down on the US sympathizers. Barack is taking exactly the correct political path and it is scary to thing that these Neocons chest-thumpers are still a political force to be reckoned with

    June 21, 2009 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  12. IndyVoter

    The President is our Chief Statesman (even more influential than the Sec. of State) and he is looking out for US interests which includes being able to negotiate and lead from a position of power as it pertains to the Iranian nuclear issue six months from now when this all goes away. Once again emotions, arrogance and downright ignorance is causing some to call for the "shoot from the hip" reactionary postion, rather than a well-thought out, calculated, strategic, proactive response to this and other important issues pertaining to Iran. The President has it ABSOLUTELY right! This is conflict-resolution 101 "Don't put your foot in your mouth, you're going to need it to walk with later on".....The era of cowboy diplomacy is OVER!

    June 21, 2009 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  13. renea

    The republicans response to the president is disappointing to me. Mr. Bennett please let this president handle this situation he is the one that will be judge for what he does or donot do. Its real easy to sit and watch and try to tell the president what to do when you are not him, you are not making the situation any better by trying to oppose this president which to me is doing a good job handling this so far.I feel the only reason you want him to say something so he can say something that will be a backlash against him and the administration knowing that as a country we are all in this together.

    June 21, 2009 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  14. jerry

    What a fool! WE are the last best hope? WE are the moral leader of the world? Excuse you, Senator, but if nothing else, Iraq disproved those notions. Your big talk is just that. Even smart Republican foreign affairs specialists acknowledge the wisdom of Obama's approach. Do you really think angry words from us are going to sway Iranian leaders? Do you not get it that this swaggering American posture is exactly what much of the world hates us for? Shame on you. Get thee to the dust heap!

    June 21, 2009 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  15. Mamanomia

    Bill Bennett???...Now, that's humorous.

    June 21, 2009 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  16. Peachy Keen

    Mr. Bennett, why do u think your opinion matters? Who are you? Some guy behind a microphone, yapping away. Until you actually accomplish something on your own other than being critical of others, whatever you say means nothing. The only reason CNN even wrote this story is because you work for them. Get a life.

    June 21, 2009 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  17. Malcolm

    "We are the last best hope on Earth?" Based on what?!?! Our economy is on skids, folks are losing homes and jobs, our military is stretched thin, we are only recently reclaiming our international credibility thanks to President Obama after 8 regrettable years of idiotic foreign policy misadventures. Getting us in the Iraq mess wasn't good enough, now you want to embroil us in an internal Iranian political issue?!? And the minute something "bad" happens as a result, you'll immediately blame Obama for not minding the business of the American people. Seriously, if the Republican party does not want to be relegated to being a subject of historical study, they would be well-advised to counsel their spokespersons to "zip it" with these crass, meaningless, opportunistic gamesmanship statements and focus on real solutions to improve the lives of every-day Americans

    June 21, 2009 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  18. tell the truth

    Its funny that we have so much coverage on the alleged fixed elections in Iran and are giving that country a horrible image when our country fixes elections all the time. But no one seems to care because the same media which is government owned keeps it so well under wraps. Its like a pig telling everyone that another pig is filthy. But were all sheep so it doesn't matter. Continue telling us what to believe in mr real government in charge.

    June 21, 2009 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  19. The Truth

    That's funny,if it were not for Obama's speech in Cairo the election would not of been close anyway.
    Plus to be seen meddling in Iran's affairs,then the protesters turn against us,not there hard line govt.

    June 21, 2009 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  20. Pam

    Mr. Bennett..Could you and your repub. friends cease your constant complaining about our President. I think we're all sick of it! Please let him do his job and try to clean up the mess he inherited. We, as Americans, have enough on our plates without constantly hearing the all the negative talk from you Repub. whiners. Please just shut up!

    June 21, 2009 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  21. michael

    Its a difficult situation, I want us to support the opposition in Iran and promote justice, but interfering at the moment may be too dangerous and backfire

    June 21, 2009 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  22. Willy Brown

    A Muslim is not going to call out another fellow Muslim.

    June 21, 2009 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  23. Joan A

    Donna Brazile is right. In my opinion, Obama is doing the right thing. We SHOULDN'T get involved in this election, especially with a country like Iran.

    What would happen if Ahmadinejad stays in power? Then he'd be certain that the US condemns him as a leader. That would foster more hate and problems between US and Iran.

    June 21, 2009 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  24. Jefe

    well nobody wants a religious autocracy, right? I mean, its hard to have freedom of choice when one specific sect of one specific religion gets to choose others' lives for them, right?

    Imagine if there were religious fanatics in the United States who wanted to make people's choices for them, based on their own fanatical religious beliefs. Nobody would stand for it. At least, not any good, True American.

    June 21, 2009 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  25. Dale

    Obama is right to stay out of it. Aside from it being their country, not his, any interference by the US would add legitimacy to the Iranian theocracies claim that the protesters are being agitated by the USA.

    I am very grateful to have a wise president. That is a change.

    June 21, 2009 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
1 2 3 4