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. cecilia

    And we should listen to this dog and pony show? please explain how Bolton or Gingrich are reliable, trustworthy, or correct on any issue. They are all jokes and should not be taken seriously on any subject.

    February 8, 2011 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  2. Geoffrey

    The job of an Ambassador is to present the viewpoints of the administration he works for. Wizner offered his personal opinion and not that of the administration. It was wizner who acted amateurish. Gingrich can not even describe spanish history running up to the Reconquista and yet he claims to be a historian. As usual, Newt Gingrich needs to look in the mirror.

    February 8, 2011 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  3. will

    I think its funny for this man to call any thing amateurish. Its even more funny how people follow the leader. First palin now newt next repub in line to try and make the president look bad. If your name is newt just shutup

    February 8, 2011 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  4. James

    I find it easy for Newt Gingrich to be so critical of Obama & his administration when also setting the groundwork of his likely 2012 presidential canidancy announcement. I do agree the administration & the envoy should be on the same page but to label the administration as 'amateurish' is severe so I say BRING IT NEWT. I'll definitely be one of the many OBAMA supporters ready to challenge you & those whose who support you also!!!

    February 8, 2011 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  5. DC Insider

    Let's face it, this is just another example where Obama is in over his head. He has Gibbs spinning for him, and he is just giving the Republicans more and more cannon fodder. How many 3am calls do we have to have before we get Hillary to answer? Seriously, I am rethinking who I vote for in 2012. If it is a Democratic Primary with Obama vs. Hillary, I am going for Hillary this time all the way, without looking back. If it is an Obama vs. Palin matchup, I am staying home. If it an Obama vs. anyone mildly reasonable, I will probably vote Republican.

    February 8, 2011 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  6. Dude

    Again, it's easy to second guess, and attack when your A/S/S isn't on the hot seat! Gingrich and the other CLOWNS who call themselves politicians should just STFU!

    February 8, 2011 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  7. D. Bunker

    The only thing "amateurish" is Newter's attempt to remain relevant. Less insane GOBPers have praised the president's approach to Egypt.

    February 8, 2011 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  8. GI Joe

    HA !! Bolton is a bull in a china shop, and The Newt is just full of Bull. No diplomacy between the two of them - they would start world war 3 if it got them more money and power.


    February 8, 2011 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  9. Ryan

    Gingrich and Bolton are both idiots. Apparently, they don't seem to recollect the history of how the US trying to force diplomacy in that area of the world has played out. We have Iran, Afghanistan in the 80's, our support of Saddam. I, for one, am glad the President has decided to keep our nose out of other countries' business and not try to get us into yet another situation over there.

    February 8, 2011 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  10. Bob from Illinois

    Newt criticizing anyone as 'amateurish' is simply too delicious for words.

    And going on to quote John Bolton calling anyone else 'clumsy and out of sync', an obvious projection of his own style, is merely dessert.

    February 8, 2011 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  11. Chimp

    Amateurish? You mean like publicly offering up a critique instead of talking to person with whom you differ?
    ..and Bolton? That guy is a loon.

    February 8, 2011 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  12. Purnell

    harrumph ... that amateur in the White House doesn't know we're at War ... I have proof there are WMD in Egypt but there's just no strong male presence that is willing to invade ... that's because he doesn't understand danger ... only I understand danger and I'm the only one that can keep this country safe ... harrrumph ... I hope to be receiving a new heart soon – from a 15 year old boy .... once I get it all squared away I expect the American people will immediately vote for me to replace that amateur and make me President for life .... Liz! Liz!!! CLose the Bunker! The flying monkeys are atttacking again, LIZ!!!!!!

    February 8, 2011 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  13. Anonymous

    Any kind of jabs coming from the likes of this guy are laughable. Newt is a typical hypocritical Republicanknucklehead. {with a whole bunch of family values in his life, how many wives was that Newty?}
    You couldn't EVER fill Obama's shoes. I cringe to think of HOW Bush would have handled this, or for that matter if McMoney and Pea Brain were in there......

    The White House is handling this situation in a way better matter than any of the Repugs would. It was pointed out that they are not bashing America in the protestes and how refreshing it was not see another country burning our flag.
    I love that we have a President who has an IQ, who is accepted by other countries and respected. It is very refreshing to say the very least. They admire our President. One would be in full denial not to agree with that.

    THAT is progress Newt. All you tough guys got it all wrong.

    February 8, 2011 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  14. actionjacks

    who cares what newt gingrich thinks. he's a nobody who want's to be somebody. this guy for president, you gotta be kidding.

    February 8, 2011 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  15. Don

    First, John Bolton worried that someone is "this clumsy and this out of sync" is actually quite funny. Ambassador Bolton pretty much owns the term "clumsy" after his behavior in the UN.

    And Gingrich complaining about amateurish is equally charming. I have seen several of his "historical" analysis (Professor Gingrich?), that would have resulted in a "Gentleman's C" in my freshman survey courses.

    February 8, 2011 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  16. sameeker

    Amateurish? I suppose the repugs think he should have sent in the troops and cut the corporations in for a piece of the profits. Obama is trying to navigate a delicate situation without being too quick to incite more violence.

    February 8, 2011 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  17. Liz the First

    Why is this news? we all know everyone on the very misnamed 'right' hates everything Obama does, which i consider validation he's doing everything right. none of the people constantly criticizing him could do a tenth as well as he's doing. he has the toughest job in the world and is doing it as well as i've seen it done in my lifetime. the disloyal opposition needs to cool it and start working for the benefit of the country and not just for their own interests.

    February 8, 2011 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  18. Steve, New York City

    More amazing clueless comments from Gingrich, Palin and others. Should we practice what we preach, and allow Egypt to have "free elections?" For Islamic countries, the West seems to tolerate free elections, only when it is clear that the outcome will be pro-Western. So what should we do, Gingrich? I wouldn't take your advice on foreign policy, marriage or anything else (though you have nice hair).

    February 8, 2011 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  19. Republicans = Fascists

    Offer criticism but no solutions. Typical republican.

    February 8, 2011 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  20. jrt1098

    This President and his administration comprise the most incompetent administration in American history.
    Is there anything these people can get right ? Perhaps the reason there is so much political instability in the world is because our enemies recognize our weakness ! I thought Obama was going to fix all of this 1

    February 8, 2011 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  21. Library Lady

    The White House is handling the situation just fine. It was pointed out that for once the protesters are not burning our flag and screaming 'death to America' just that alone is progress Newt!
    How refreshing to have a President who is respected in other coutries, who is admired. It is refreshing to have a President we can send as a representive of courty without knowing he is going to blow it, a President who has a IQ, and a law degree. A President who dosen't think he is a tough guy. That is progress Newt!

    I cringe to think where this country would have been through out the crisis of finacing and home mortages, the banks, the auto makers, this nonsense war, and now this issue in Egypt. The Republicanknuckleheads would have made things way worse. You betcha'! Look where your 'star' Palin the crapper, with like 7 worshipers left, and 2 of them are her kids.

    Stop speaking when all of it is verbal vomit.

    February 8, 2011 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  22. DAW, NC

    Let's listen to Newt, he is a man of honor ?????? Bolton the same. easy to be critical of president, that is all they do.

    February 8, 2011 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  23. ToGetherWeStand

    So, Gingrich, who is totally out of touch with reality, consulted with John Bolton, who knows nothing about diplomacy, on how to deal with Egypt. Sorry, but this is like Larry consulting with Curly on how not to look silly.

    February 8, 2011 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  24. indyreader

    Newt's (and Sarah Palin's) whinging about Obama's work on the Egyptian issue is fatuous, disingenuous and calculated to do nothing but whip up the know-nothing haters more than they already are. Especially from the Palin side of the whine-fest, she herself knows nothing about Egypt, knows that her own flock is equally ignorant, and knows that she can therefore play the same old play with them as she always does: use that ignorance to generate noise. She's more of a *politician* in the slimy sense of the word than an of her naive supporters realizes. This is the way they play their game.

    As for Egypt, they are a sovereign country (something the Republicans, or at least the neo-cons, seem to have very little concept of), and so our role in determining the outcome of THEIR strife is necessarily limited.

    February 8, 2011 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  25. Oy Vey Az

    Wow ... Newt and John Bolton teaming up. What a powerhouse of arrogance these two guys are. Neither man bring lends clarity to Egypt's muddy political mess. There only objective these two crazies have is to criticize others while covering their own butts.

    February 8, 2011 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
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