Gingrich says Obama administration 'amateurish' on Egypt
February 7th, 2011
08:08 PM ET
11 years ago

Gingrich says Obama administration 'amateurish' on Egypt

(CNN) - Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich said he's "concerned" about the Obama administration's handling of the situation in Egypt and what he sees as a divide between the White House and diplomat Frank Wisner.

"I think the fact that they appointed a very able diplomat Frank Wisner and within two days were publicly contradicting him is you know so amateurish," Gingrich told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King. "I was with John Bolton (former ambassador to the United Nations) last night. He said it's inconceivable that they would be this clumsy and this out of sync. I mean just with themselves, forget the Arab world. They can't even get the White House and their special envoy to be on the same page."

Wisner was sent to Egypt by the United States to negotiate directly with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on the transition, and on his return said Mubarak should remain in office, at least for now, in order to hand over authority in an orderly manner.

At the White House press briefing Monday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said that Wisner does not speak for the administration.

"His views on who should or shouldn't be the head of Egypt don't represent the views of our administration," Gibbs said. "The views of our administration are that those are the decisions that will be made by the Egyptians."

But the envoy's remarks were not entirely out of line with those of other officials who have noted that there are "certain legitimate legislative hurdles" that must be overcome by Mubarak and could take some time to accomplish.

Gingrich also said he's worried that the United States might reach out to the Muslim Brotherhood, an opposition Islamist umbrella group in the country.

"I think this is absolute total misreading of history. The Muslim Brotherhood is a mortal enemy of our civilization, they say so openly," Gingrich said.

The Brotherhood, officially banned but still tolerated by the Egyptian government, is already in negotiations with other – but not all – opposition groups and Egypt's new vice president, Omar Suleiman. The Brotherhood was removed from the U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations in the 1970s and, at least in Egypt, has renounced violence.

The likely 2012 presidential candidate reiterated his "end of February and to March" deadline to make a decision and turned the discussion to former President Ronald Reagan, whose centennial birthday celebration he attended Sunday.

"Reagan did what he believed in when he thought it was right," Gingrich said. "I frankly try to study Reagan and (Margaret) Thatcher and (Abraham) Lincoln because I think they were the great truth tellers of modern politics, sometimes when telling the truth people in the establishment go nuts because it's not the truth they want to hear."

Filed under: 2012 • Egypt • Newt Gingrich
soundoff (279 Responses)
  1. ThinkAgain

    So easy to criticize, Newt! When was the last time you were at a high-level military or security briefing!

    Just because Palin opened mouth and proved she's an idiot doesn't mean you have to remind us again that you're an idiot, too.

    February 7, 2011 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  2. Tired of the nonsense

    Wow. Very stupid remarks from an idiot like Gingrich.

    And who takes him seriously?

    February 7, 2011 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  3. Nick San Diego

    I used to respect you, but just shut up and go away. Take Palin with youYou're the only one who takes your Presidential aspirations serious.

    February 7, 2011 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  4. Ken in NC

    Newt G. and his "Cronnies" have shut down the government once. He needs to sit down and shut up now. They had their chance and they screwed up our country and then they left Bush in charge to finish us off.I hope I never see another Republican in any position of power again.

    February 7, 2011 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  5. Jeetu

    I am not sure Newt is any shape to criticize the Obama Administration. His oen record does not show any professionalism either. Therefore, he should keep his opinions to himself and do something good by finding a job which he has not held for quite a long time.

    I would like to see him explain us as to what he would do in such a volatile situation as Egypt at this time.

    Differences in opinion among several members of Obama Administraion is a strength and not a weakness as this allows them to consider various options and select the best one.

    Perhaps Newt should practice some these things himself and his party.

    February 7, 2011 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  6. Jack

    It is a great hypocrisy that Mr. Gingrich is talking about great truth tellers on one hand and on the other ...cheating on his wife !! What type of individual is he? Shame on you Newt, you can't even handle your own personal life, what makes you think you can handle Egypt now?

    February 7, 2011 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  7. jules sand-perkins

    Gingrich may be wrong about the Muslim Brotherhood in relationship to our administration's course, but Gingrich expressed my concerns exactly, except for his using the word "amateurish."
    I think that Obama does exactly what he intends, and he is quite a pro when he does it. I also think that our President's plans are more solidified than he has yet told us.
    I keep saying that we should remember Iran after the removal of the Shah.
    And don't forget the Alamo.

    February 7, 2011 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  8. Tony in Maine

    Incredible. The Newt's intellect towers above his nearest competitor – amoeba.

    Go away Newt. You bother me.

    February 7, 2011 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  9. Dan

    That's funny coming from a man belonging to the party that handed us the two biggest buffoons in political history....BUSH AND PALIN.

    February 7, 2011 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  10. GonzoinHouston

    Newt quit the House after his first significant setback. When the going got tough, he cut and ran. Since then he has done nothing but criticize without offering alternatives. Hopefully he'll be gone after the first couple of primaries.

    February 7, 2011 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  11. Frankie

    Unfortunately, Newt, your truth and Reagan's truth are not in sync either. Reagan was not a true Conservative. He often extended his hand across the aisle to get things done, unlike you and your contemporaries. And so far it is a verifiable fact that Obama lowered taxes in his first two years. Reagan raised taxes every year of his presidency. By the end of his terms, the deficit was at that time the highest deficit in America;s history. Now that Reagan has reached what would have been his 100th year, the Conservatives are waving him around like the flag. Take a good look at him, guys. He wasn't the Conservative you're touting him to be.

    February 7, 2011 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  12. Dennis in AZ

    Former Spkr Gingrich was only saying this Administration does many things by the seat of their pants. He told the same story about Pres. Bush–and he wasn't wrong in either case. I noticed the Egyptians turned on the State media to start broadcasting propaganda against the US right after he asked Mubarek to step down. Then, the national postition seemed to be a Kerry-esque flip-flop on when Mubarek should step down, but it was already too late. Those who would believe TV in Egypt already got their fodder for more America-hating. Someone should pass along that when you're shooting craps–you only get one role per turn.

    February 7, 2011 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  13. w l jones

    It appears I had trouble running the speakers job what would happen to me if were running the whole country. Bless to be the more knowledge I attain the more I get lost on what to say or do.

    February 7, 2011 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  14. GaryB

    Any time you use John Bolton as an example of an effective diplomat, you pretty much lose all credibility.

    February 7, 2011 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  15. Debbie from Arizona

    I'm pretty sure Mr. Gingrich isn't privy to the conversation between President Obama and Mr. Wisnor, so he is, as usual talking out of his backside. This man is a big fat joke and his opinion on this matter is worthless, as are all of his opinions.

    February 7, 2011 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  16. realworld

    Does Gingrich think Palin should take over immidiately? In reality, Reagan pushed to cut Social Security, then in 1983 agreed to a $165 billion bailout of it. He vowed to cut spending and taxes. He did initially cut taxes, but then raised taxes 11 times, eating up half of those cuts. The federal deficit rose from $700 billion to $3 trillion under him. The 1983 payroll tax hike went for Social Security and Medicare. People like Gingrich forget their hero raised taxes to pay for government run health care. He signed the largest corporate tax increase in history. Their favorite conservative?

    February 7, 2011 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  17. Connie

    Wow – Newt Gingrich and John Bolton actually have the nerve to call anyone "amateurish" in terms of diplomacy? Whatever political strengths either of these guys have, diplomacy is at the bottom of the list.

    February 7, 2011 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  18. David, CA

    And Newt's reaction is that of an attention seeking scumbag trying to get some talking points for his eventually pathetic presidential run.

    February 7, 2011 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  19. kwasi Adusei

    always easy to crticize, talk is cheap

    what will he do different?

    February 7, 2011 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  20. Newt Gingrich Republican Stooge

    How would republican handle Egypt: Invade the country, allow it to be looted and leave with both our country and Egypt broken. It's the republican "contract to destroy the world."

    February 7, 2011 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  21. Henry

    Newt again. Before I knew who said this, I already figured it.

    February 7, 2011 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  22. W.N. Sanabria, Escondido, CA

    Newt Gingrich talking about truthtelling is akin to Joseph Stalin talking about democracy. He may have heard the concept, but he's clearly not a practitioner.

    February 7, 2011 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  23. Chuck Harold

    Odd how CNN uses the passive voice in its front page headlines ("President called amateurish"), suggesting that a reasonable person has made the charge. In fact, such statements are made by unreasonable GOPers such as Palin, Limbaugh or, in this case, Gingrich. (The more accurate headline should be: "Right winger says something predictable about a non-right wing prez.") The partisan nature of the statement becomes a side note. It is as if Hillary Clinton were calling the prez names, or a straight news person (say Diane Sawyer or Brian Williams) making a hefty claim. Why is this? I think CNN is trying to show how "fair" it is by throwing the occasional tea bagger who might happen upon the CNN site some red meat. Why bother? Trying to appeal to people who are unfair by their nature is taking a leak into the wind.

    February 7, 2011 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  24. They ought to change from the elephant to the hippo...

    And YOU sir, wouldn't know the truth if you fell over it! You hypocritical lying sob... YOU'D say anything to try to get power...

    February 7, 2011 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  25. john

    I am quite frankly tired of people trying to make President Obama act like Reagan. He is not Reagan and should never be, he is President Obama and should be a new President elected into office. It seems to me people want Obama to be a follower than a leader. That is not who we elected. So I say President Obama be you and not Raegan, Clinton or Lincoln, you must set your own President on this country and not be a follower or someone elses hero.. Be the peoples HERO of the 21st century...Thank you Obama 2012

    February 7, 2011 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
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