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. TrueNorth

    Brazille is an Obama apologist. So predicable...get someone else who can think on their feet.

    June 21, 2009 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  2. Indy

    And what good would it do to the demonstrators if the US came out more forcefully in their support. The conservatives will only brand them more as tools of the West and against Iran. What the chants that were heard during Khamini's Friday sermon about the Iranian election? All against the West. This need to be kept as internal Iranian matter to be dealt with within Iran. The last thing the reformists need is an America's bear hug. That would be the death of them. This struggle within Iran is about Iran's own way of life and politics. It is not about if they are pro west or not. The west should not make itself part of this struggle. The Republican need to stop their pity attack on Obama because they have nothing else worthwhile to say.

    June 21, 2009 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  3. Bud in NC

    Aww. Poor Billie's feelings have been hurt. Every one stop what you are doing and send poor Billie a note of condolance. Right now!

    Let's hope the President goes to Billie and appologizes and asks what he should do. I am sure if the President says he is sorry, then Billie will take up a gun and go over and lead the attack. He is a REAL man you know. I have heard squeeling piglets down on the farm make more sense.

    Is this the Bennett who has gambled away millions in Vegas? Or is it his equally insane brother?

    June 21, 2009 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  4. S Yalof

    Well first off I ust admit I have been a huge supporter of Obama, and up until this weekend I thought he was doing a remarkable job considering what he inheritted. But I'm astounded at his silence over the last few days. As the whole world watches police men breaking into peoples homes at night and civilians being killed in the streets by their own law enforcement officers, can someone please tell me WHERE IS OBAMA !!! Is he the leader of the free world or is he the lead panderer to a totalitarian regime. what we have seen these last few days is very similar to watching the gestapo in the 1930's, except we can see it for real on the internet. How can anyone expect to negotiate anything with dictators who are lying to the whole world and there own people. For all of our sakes I hope president Obama wakes up or who knows where we'll be in 5 years from now !!!!

    June 21, 2009 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  5. Concerned Citizen

    Just how full of beans can a man be? The best thing the US can do is stay out of this internal conflict.

    June 21, 2009 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  6. Michael

    I'd be more willing to trust Mr. Bennett if he were an authority on the Middle East; seeing as he isn't, though, I'll go with the people who have actual experience with the area, and Iran in particular, who've said that the President's cautious approach is warranted, especially given our history with Iran.

    June 21, 2009 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  7. New Yorker

    Obama says, "The world is watching." So, what is that suppose to mean?
    The world watches the people of Darfur, the world watches the people of Burma, the world watches..... and what does the world do? I guess it depends on who has the courage to do something. Let's see if Obama will DO anything other than ride the fence as he spouts more rhetoric.

    Yeah, "The world is watching."

    June 21, 2009 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  8. GOP = 21st century dodo

    "We are the last best hope on Earth"

    That may have been true at one time, but your party mangled and mutilated that notion until it ultimately turned into the grotesque Bush Doctrine.

    We WERE the last best hope on Earth, Mr. Bennett.

    June 21, 2009 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  9. matthew

    bennett should win the presidency and put his opinions to practice, otherwise he is just another
    hot air neo con

    June 21, 2009 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  10. John

    This is Iran's problem not ours. There is zero reason to involve ourselves in this. We have created bigger problems of our own.

    June 21, 2009 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  11. Sam H.

    Obama missed nothing. What Obama did was not give the Iranian regime an opportunity to use the U.S. as an scapegoat for its issues and fan nationalistic flames to counteract the democratic movement of its people. Almost every great and successful democracy was created by the will of its own citizens and without outside interference to dictate the change. Although my heart goes out the people of the opposition and I do hope they are successful in bringing about change, I know that their fate lies in their hands.

    June 21, 2009 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  12. Warren

    I think President Obama has made the correct, measured ,response. For him to endorse those involved in the protests at this point might
    have the same result as if Al Queda had come out in support of Obama or Bush had given endorsements to Republican candidates in the 2008 Election...a negative result for the endorsee.

    June 21, 2009 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  13. annie against biased news

    Yet war monger obama is killing women & children in Afganasitan. Remember his campaign promise to pull out.

    June 21, 2009 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  14. Richard

    Please, why doesn't the Republican congress and their supporters just shut the hell up. I'm getting tired of hearing from these people. President Obama is bang on when it comes to Iran just as he is with the rest of the Middle East. Why should he give more amunition to the hardliners in that part of the world?

    The Rebulicans should just go away and hide in their little corner until they come up with something constructive to say or do. I've heard nothing, nothing at all that suggest they know anything about what the American people want. I guess they can't recall that they lost last November and will lose more in 2010.

    June 21, 2009 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  15. Mike

    Whatever happened to leaving partisan bickering to domestic issues? Or at the worst, debating foreign policy differences after the fact? The GOP is just bound and determied to criticize every single thing that Obama does and says, for no other reason than partisan politics. This garbage started with Newt Gingrich in 1994 and has just gotten worse. Did the Dems do this to Bush after 9/11, or afte he went into Iraq? No, they supported the president until it was apparent his policies weren't working and had been based upon lies.

    The Iranians are just hoping for comments like Bennett and the rest of the GOP, so they can say the US is causing the protests.

    Wasn't Teddy Roosevelt the Republican who said speak softly and carry a big stick? That's what Obama is trying to do, but the right wing wackos want to swing the stick and bellow at the same time.

    June 21, 2009 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  16. Independent

    That's right!!! He's the president of the United States, not the world, so shut up !!!!

    June 21, 2009 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  17. Norman

    Republican warhawk response. Maybe this president has a brain and is waiting to see what happens in iran before opening his mouth like our last braindead so called leader.

    June 21, 2009 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  18. Bertina

    I think that Bennett and the rest of the republicans should shut their mouths and quit trying to bait President Obama. They are trying to instigate so they can point fingers later. If they are so smart, they would be the president. The people don't want their agenda. McCain is digging himself into a deeper and deeper hole and the FOX bunch can just jump in with him. I would be ashamed to say I was employed by FOX. They are the phoniest, spinning bunch I have ever seen.

    June 21, 2009 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    why cant we let people run their own country

    June 21, 2009 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  20. dennative1

    mo wonder the repus lost. mccain after saying bomb iran & now he wants us to tell the people were with them? do you think these people are stuipd or wait you want to put things on hold.. isn't that the stupid stunt you pulled during the election... man i have been waiting for repus to come up with sometihing besides games

    June 21, 2009 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  21. David

    I agree with Bill. Obama missed the boat completely on this one–talk about a lack of leadership. Unfortunately, Obama is living in a world wherein he believes that if he doesn't criticize the leadership in Iran that he, and he alone, can talk them out of nuclear weapons. What he doesn't realize is that by not acting, he has shown how weak he truly is. Just look to North Korea who is threatening to fire a missile at Hawaii. Why? Because they know that BHO won't do anything about it. In fact, the only people BHO has been critical of is Israel and the United States. But every other regime on the face of the earth gets a free pass. Thanks for your 'leadership' Obama!!!!

    June 21, 2009 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  22. Norman

    Republicans are such arrogant fools. This is why the world hates us.

    June 21, 2009 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  23. Mr. D

    The last best hope on earth????? How arrogant.

    June 21, 2009 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  24. kathy

    All anyone needs to do is look at our history of meddling in Iran, our support for democratic elections as long as the winner is someone we like and our world-recognized effort to "bring democracy" to Iraq to know that we are toxic. I'm sure the Iranians don't look to the U.S. for affirmation.

    June 21, 2009 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  25. Amazed

    What little national credibility Bill Bennett had just went out the windown as he rode his one-trick-pony a little too far. Let's ponder who has more knowledge and understanding of Iranian affairs, Bill Bennett or Fareed Zakaria?

    Most realize that intellect and facts are not strong suits of Bennett's party, but are there no bounds to his absurdity?

    June 21, 2009 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
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