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)
  1. Kevin -- Evansville, Indiana

    Bill thank you for summing it up. If I wanted to elect some hot-headed guy who wouldn't think before launching into first knee-jerk tirade, I would have voted Republican. Instead, I wanted someone with a little more finesse and nuance. Quite possibly, your unwanted endorsement of one candidate would destroy his political viability. Keep in mind, the sable-rattling (on both sides) is what's keeping the religious autocracy in power.

    June 21, 2009 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    We have a president who is competent in foreign policy-for a change. We don't know everything to begin with and having a knee-jerk reaction will harm the people who are protesting. The timing for a "firmer" reaction will declare itself.

    June 21, 2009 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  3. Bob

    One should point out that the individual that many of the Iranians are protesting for, (Mousavis), was one of the perpetrators involved in the Iranian hostage crisis. He is not a chanmpion of freedom as depicted in the media. He was party to an international crime and no friend of the United States. Let the Iranians fight for the freedom to select the anti-American of their choice on their own soil. I have no sympathy for their plight.

    June 21, 2009 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  4. bruce

    President Obama can do no wrong. The perfect leader.

    June 21, 2009 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  5. Chad

    Obama is weak. He is no leader, he's a follower. Sad.

    June 21, 2009 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  6. Terry,VA


    Obama will sit on the fence until a poll comes in. If his liberal buddies comes down on the side of sucking their thumbs, that is what he will do. He is weak on foreign policy. As an example, watch the destroyer that is tracking the North Korea ship that probably has nuclear materials on it. Don't follow unless you (Obama) are willing to do anything other than suck your thumb. We will watch as you track and back down like the thumb sucker you are.

    June 21, 2009 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  7. MikeinTexas

    Excuse me? Who exactly is Bill Bennet and where does he get off on ANY kind of foreign policy advice. I guess old gambler Bill missed George Will comments this morning.

    First, old Bill needs to get elected...to anything.
    Second, even if he was elected, no one would listen to his bunk.
    Third, Republican's should just jump in the hole they've been digging. Its deep enough now, guys.

    June 21, 2009 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  8. P. D.

    Oh for goodness sakes! What does Bennet propose we do? Already the Iranian Government is accusing the West and England for interfering. Bennet and his Republican buddies will stop at nothing to try and score political points. Many Consevatives have applauded Obama's reaction. George Will and Pat Bucahan have said Obama has struck thr right tone. Give us a break.

    June 21, 2009 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  9. Ron

    Once again, it shows that patriotism takes a back seat to politics. People like Bennett could care less about the people in Iran. They could care less about America being the "moral" leader. All they care about is taking a shot at the opposing party.

    Doesn't he understand that the Iranian rulers are looking for a diversion to their situation? Someone to blame? I say, be quite- democrats and republicans- and let the light shine solely on the Iranian government. Don't create a diversion. You can do more damage to them sitting back and letting them destroy their government than you can in calling attention away from it.

    June 21, 2009 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  10. Melanie

    Why are we listening so much to what the Republican Party says?....and why does it seem that EVERYONE is trying to help President Obama do his job?...I would assume that the President is more privvy to sensitive information than anyone else....He is an intelligent person......So why does it appear that CNN and others encourage feedback to see "how" the President is "doing" it almost appears as if the intent is to undermind the Presidents capabilities...He is not a little boy...I hate to inject race.into the equation..however, it must really suck to be the first African American anything....to be subjected to being under ther microspcope ..It's like he's the black customer walking into an Asian establishment andbeing followed around the store.......it just really bothers me that everyone else is trying to do his job and criticizing him for not doing what is on "their" agenda...I'm growing very tired of the Republicans being disgruntled and sore losers that they have to reject what this man does..It has only been five months since inaugurartion...This country need sto grow up....

    June 21, 2009 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  11. Jackson

    Who is Bill Bennett again? And why is he not in an elected position if he knows everything?

    June 21, 2009 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  12. Who cares

    This coming from a man, Bill Bennett, that commented that if you aborted more black babies you'd reduce crime. I really don't need to hear Bill Bennett's opinions. If it were up to him President Obama and his family would have been aborted.

    June 21, 2009 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  13. Srikant Varma

    Bennett is dead wrong. How can we claim that we have a new attitude towards the region as a country if we start issuing statements that would be considered directly meddling in another country's affairs?

    In fact, we would provide the iranian ruling elite an excuse the blame all of the protests on the great Satan, the US, if we do not control ourselves and make self-righteous statements.

    June 21, 2009 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  14. Cathy inAZ

    I for one do not care what Bill Bennett has to say. The president is striking the right tone. The Iranian government already blames us for what is wrong in their country, the President is condemming the violence against the demonstrators. The people of Iran have long memories, we do not need another repeat of 60 years ago!

    June 21, 2009 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  15. John S

    Bill Bennett needs to open his eyes to the reality of what Obama's words and deeds actually mean. Obama's played this one right. Conservatives are proving, yet again, why they should be as far removed from foreign policy as possible.

    June 21, 2009 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  16. Stay at home, Joe

    You can continue deleting my comments but I will continue to post them.

    We need to stay out of this mess. Regardless of which side wins this dispute, Iran is and will be run by an anti-American celeric regime. They have no love for us. This problem is of their making and we need stay clear of their problems.

    This situation will mostly end in a military coup' and a dicatorial government that is firmly militant against American and our allies. Becoming involved in the Iranian uprising, even simply giving it our voice of support will backlash on America.

    So I say Stay at home, Joe. America is not the world's police and we can not continue to waste the lives of youth in foreign lands, fighting to give freedom to people who will not fight their own battles and will turn on us in a heart beat.

    Bring our boys home from Iraq and from Afghanistan.

    June 21, 2009 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  17. Wendy

    Bennett and the other right wing nut jobs need to keep their big mouths shut! The US is NOT the WORLD POLICE!! Would Bennett have liked to see other countries interfere when BUSH stole the election from GORE!?

    June 21, 2009 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  18. News flash

    News flash to CNN and to the party of no. You lost, you screwed up the country, shut up!

    June 21, 2009 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  19. normajean

    Isn't it amazing how many people like Bennett have all the answers and the Democrats and the president haven't a clue. President Obama, up to now has done exactly what the experts say he should do.There is a time to comment and a tiime to remaiin silent. I prefer to think that Obama and his savy associates are working very hard to do the right thing at the right time without the aid of assorted pundits. In other words,"shut up and let him do what he was elected to do."

    s, .

    June 21, 2009 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  20. Jeff, Huntington Beach, CA

    Naturally... all the "hawks" want to start something they and theirs will not partake in, let alone finish. It is also interesting that the party who brought us George W Bush in what was a contested election, decided by the Supreme Court would get all self righteous about the election in Iran. Rather hypocritical, but it is always easier to see the log in another's eye than to admit the log in your own. It is also a ploy of the self righteous, religious right and it's cronies to spin something to their advantage. The most unfortunate result of these actions is the rest of the world who we should really attempt to coexist with on this small planet of ours see our hypocrisy for what it is and we lose our so called "moral standing."

    Some of you... get mad if you like but it is what it is. The truth hurts and unfortunately, the stakes are very high so stop playing your small, self serving politics and consider how it appears where we are really coming from. The stakes are too high for your small, petty bickering.

    June 21, 2009 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  21. Dr. John

    Before any Republican speaks out on President Obama's foreign policy, they should take a serious look at where 8 years of neo-con foreign policy has gotten us in the Middle East. We have an absolute quagmire in Iraq, Osama Bin Laden is still alive and well, the Tailban has re-established a stronghold in Afghanistan. Maybe President Obama knows something that the Repubs don't. Oh and in the last election, the majority of the American people rejected Republican foreign policy.

    June 21, 2009 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  22. jd

    They just don't get it, do they? If the United States government (or any Western civilization, for that matter) responds in full to the conflict in Iran, the Iranian government will seize the opportunity to blame the citizens' uprising on the "evil west". Goodness knows what will happen then, but one thing is for sure: the violence will escalate to entirely new and horrific levels, and may evolve into a devastating international conflict.

    There is an incredibly delicate balance with this issue; if either side tips too much, too quickly, the consequences will be dire and, possibly, irrevocable.

    June 21, 2009 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  23. rainbowgirl

    This is obviously Republican false spin. President Obama DID condemn what the government is doing. He issued this statement: "the Iranian government must understand that the world is watching. We mourn each and every innocent life that is lost. We call on the Iranian government to stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people. The universal rights to assembly and free speech must be respected, and the United States stands with all who seek to exercise those rights." Republicans are just making stuff up, again.

    June 21, 2009 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  24. jd

    And just to add: if anyone has been following Twitter, they would know that the Iranian people APPRECIATE the silence that Obama has shown, and that they hope he will continue to keep his distance.

    June 21, 2009 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  25. Dave

    It was Bush Jr's endorsement of Ahmadinejad's opponent that handed Ahmadinejad the presidency, thus undoing decades of progress. It was a huge tactical error, and quite a blunder really.

    Now we have another republican naysayer who is telling us that we need to endorse Ahmadinejad's opponent, which would of course only make Ahmadinejad stronger.

    The party of "no" is nothing but a liability. There is no such thing as a conservative republican. Vote Libertarian.

    June 21, 2009 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
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