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. twiddly

    Newt, like Palin, is simply criticizing just to criticize. No matter what Obama does, about anything, they will criticize.
    It is meaningless blather.

    The brotherhood openly says they are "the mortal enemy of our civilization"? What crap! They have renounced violence.
    The rightwing nutjobs just repeat silly hearsay and make no attempt to ascertain the truth.

    February 8, 2011 07:13 am at 7:13 am |
  2. david b.

    Newt will not run, he is simply looking for attention. He can't allow Sarah and the boys to get all of it. Take a look at the Newt crowd and figure out what they are all about. Newt is done and want just go away.

    February 8, 2011 07:26 am at 7:26 am |
  3. Joseph Agunbiade

    Thanks, you think you can do better Gingrich? You are a liar.

    February 8, 2011 07:26 am at 7:26 am |
  4. sharon

    You and Sarah Palin are two peas in a pod. Name calling, fearmongering, and ignorance spew from your mouths. Do you honestly think the American voter is so stupid as to put either of you in the White House???Fortunately there are a lot of Americans who remember your disastrous term as Speaker of the House and your girlfriend so bellow all you want and because the news,especially Fox, needs to fill in 24/7 they quote anyone, even you. And because venom spews from your mouth as well as Palin, you are right up Fox's ally!!!!

    February 8, 2011 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
  5. Dawn Tarr Ada, Ohio

    So Newt would you propose that we should continue to prop up a political puppet who by the way is a dictator, so the US can continue to control the country, all the while their citizens suffer. It is their business. It is their country. President Obama is handling it just as it should be handled.

    February 8, 2011 07:39 am at 7:39 am |
  6. Indiana Greg

    John Bolton was one of the worst ambassadors this country has ever produced and is hated around the world. Newt Gingrich would do well to listen to others if he wants credibility outside the gang of idiots that brought us the debacles in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    February 8, 2011 07:45 am at 7:45 am |
  7. Jerry in NC

    Hey Newyt! When was the last time YOU ran a country????? It's so easy to sit back on the outside and criticize and second-guess. If it was up to you and that Palin ditz, we'd have tanks rolling down the streets of Cairo right now, huh?

    February 8, 2011 07:45 am at 7:45 am |
  8. john bolton

    John Bolton – really? Newt is deluded as always... John Bolton was a joke. As far as the US and Egypt is concerned, things are going to play out as they need to. Our track record with influencing events there can pretty much be summed up as wasting blood and treasure over the course of a decade or so to prop up a past enemy as friend, then Congress incredulously wondering why the deficit is so high over the next election cycle. Leave Egypt well enough alone and remember far enough back that Newt is just a philanderer who's out to polarize politics and sell books.

    John Bolton – that's rich.

    February 8, 2011 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  9. beevee

    Mr. Gingrich should shut up and let the administration do its job in dealing with the situation in Egypt. it is people like him who behaving arrogantly that malign our image in world view.

    February 8, 2011 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  10. Jimii

    once again proof that when you aren't the one who has to make the decisions it is easy to act like you have all the answers. Dems & Republicans in office agree this is a very sensative situation. Gingrich is an opportunist who can easily take shots because nothing he says matters. Eygpt is a VERY sensative situation and for politicians like him who act as if it is ours to control they are ridiculous – this is a situation that we must be very sensative in not pushing OUR AGENDA too strongly because there are so many opposing forces and if the people believe we expect Eygpt to be our pawn this situation will turn out terribly for us. It is very easy for Newt to play Monday QB.

    February 8, 2011 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  11. Ben

    As much as I hate to say it, Newt is on the money with his assessment.

    An ambassador does, in fact, represent the administration in all of their dealings abroad. That's what an ambassador does. It is, literally, in the job description. And to appoint someone as an ambassador for a specific situation, and then say that they don't represent the government is just ridiculous. The President and his administration, and more specifically Hillary Clinton, should be briefing Ambassador Wisner on exactly what the official policy and stance of the US goverment is. And if the assessment coming back from the ambassador is contradictory to that, then he should either be replaced, or the government should reassess it's position.

    Our State Department is a mess right now. I don't know if that is a reflection of our President, or just his Secretary of State, but something needs to be done about it.

    February 8, 2011 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  12. darla

    Coming from someone who reneged his "contract with America" by shutting down the Government during the Clinton years. He sure is the one whose Amateurish behavior as a speaker is willing to make the American people pay to spite the sitting President. Because despite his and his congress effort to destroy the then sitting President Clinton. President Clinton will still be going to the history books as one of the best President America has ever had beside JFK. And no matter how the Right tries to flaunt and build the Reagan myth and naming everything after him JFK A LIBERAL PRESIDENT WILL ALWAYS STILL BE THE MOST POPULAR PRESIDENT IN HISTORY.

    February 8, 2011 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  13. Nawsh

    Regardless as to who's in office it is very easy for wannabees like Gingrich and Palin to offer their comments on how the situatuion should be or not be handled-It's really amazing that these two people are experts on all world affairs as they suddenlly arise. Palin has already showed her cards on world geography while Gingrich conjures up the spiirts of dead Presidents-let them lie in peace and form your own closed minded opinion. Neither has any familiarity with the people, culture and politics of Egypt. TRUTH BE TOLD- FOCUS ON JOB CREATION HERE IN THE US IF YOU WANT TO IMPRESS THE AMERICAN PEOPLE-IT'S THE JOBS STUPID!!

    February 8, 2011 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  14. Emma

    no you are New't.........You will NEVER be President!

    February 8, 2011 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  15. LegendRx

    Who is this guy and what dose he know about the truth? Newt Gingrich, the master of deceit. LOL!

    February 8, 2011 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  16. Sandra

    Gingrich is one to call names. He and Bolton both are the kings of temper tantrums. And by the way it is not the first time White Houses and their envoys or messengers. What about Bush and his generals?
    You can tell both of them are running for president. God help this nation if either one is elected.

    February 8, 2011 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  17. t.marino

    Oh....the most corrupt man on earth has something to say after the mess him and his ilk created. His gall and arrogance is astounding. What a piece of dog excrement.

    February 8, 2011 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  18. Tom

    OMG, Newt is blasting the President!!! If it was up to him, we would have invaded Egypt.

    February 8, 2011 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  19. Jack in Florida

    Newt, your time has passed......move on and let some new Republican blood be the mouth piece..

    February 8, 2011 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  20. David

    Funny... this is coming from the same opinionated blow-hard who spouted his superficial and damaging knowledge of the Middle East after 9-11.

    February 8, 2011 08:05 am at 8:05 am |
  21. jamarsu

    Does anybody listen to this guy? Does anybody even remember him?

    February 8, 2011 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  22. DemFL

    And look at the CLOWN these words are coming from. Not even in office anymore and still trying to meddle in other country's business. Newt, go hop on a plane and fix the Middle East for us. I sure you and JOhn have a solution to all our worldly problems.

    February 8, 2011 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  23. chutchin

    Well hey's some truth you might not want to hear. Shut up. Your time in the spotlight has come and gone. Go write another book or something and try to remember the actual date that you published it...

    February 8, 2011 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  24. militantdem

    Speaking of "Amateurish" – and CORRUPT, look who is "Speaking".....

    February 8, 2011 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  25. chill

    Anyone taking guidance from a neo-con like John Bolton doesn't have standing to discuss ametuerish. Wisner was sent to deliver a message and is not a special envoy in the sense that Holbroke or Mitchell were. Neo-cons and apparently Gingrich appear to think we get to choose leaders for other countries and people throughout the world to suit us. Doesn't sound like democracy to me.

    February 8, 2011 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
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