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. Carroll

    I'm mean who cares what Gingrich says? There are the republicans stuck in the past and not thinking forward on their own. I don't think of regan in glowing terms or when he was the old president.

    February 7, 2011 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  2. Chris

    Well Mr. Gingrich the american people seem to disagree with you considering Obama's average approval rating of all polls is still 50% and hasnt budged since last month.. Moron

    February 7, 2011 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  3. socalretiree

    Newt is campaigning for president and we know he plans to criticize everything his opponent the President does. Where was he for the 8 years Bush was in office when Bush mistakenly launched a triillion dollar war in Iraq under false pretenses, destroyed the budget surplus and brought our economy to its knees, Did he once criticize Bush as amateurish or incompetent? Newt , if this is your best shot, step aside and let someone else run.

    February 7, 2011 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  4. Barry from Wisconsin

    Newt, the paragon of virtue who has never held anything remotely resembling a foreign policy post says the administration is amateurish.

    Hopefully his drivel will be relegated to where it belongs – in the dustbin. Palin sometimes makes more sense that Newt.

    February 7, 2011 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  5. sara

    Well Newt, you have aged. You remind me of the head of the USSR back in the 70's, his name will come to me. You see I have also aged. You and Palin both show so much disrespect towards our current President, it is shameful. Just because you can say it, doesn't mean you should.

    February 7, 2011 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  6. KathyC in Minnesota

    Jeez Louise!

    According to Newt, Sarah, and the rest of the Republicans, President Obama cannot do anything right!!

    Maybe they all need to
    SHUT UP!!!!

    February 7, 2011 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  7. Alex Santana

    This is from a guy who has lied and cheated on his wife? It amazes me that these GOP guys forget their own past. Cheney mouthing off now after shutting up for 8 years...Gingrich thinking anyone cares what he has to say...Ed Rollins all over the tube, and this after his dalliances...unbelievable...and they wonder why Bush was not welcome in Europe...were they not awake for his 8 year term??

    February 7, 2011 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  8. 2tired2care

    Well Newt would certainly know about being amateurish.

    February 7, 2011 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  9. KJ

    It is too bad that Newt continues to view the world through rose colored glasses!

    February 7, 2011 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  10. Karma6338

    Shut up, Newt. Nobody likes you.

    February 7, 2011 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  11. JeffMathers

    What do you expect from Gingrich? He holds no political office and is campaigning. Why don't you ask him about his very public affair? That is unbecoming a leader.If a man can be loyal to his wife, he shouldn't be put in a position of public trust.
    Reagan the great truth teller? What about his guns for arms with Ollie North as the fall guy? He was an actor, and a lot of people bought his crap. This was the beginning of "feel good" political leaders...Tom Hanks as your president.

    February 7, 2011 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  12. Dr. W P

    Really?? Does ANYONE listen to this windbag?? This is a man who served his very ill wife in the hospital with divorce papers as he was cheating on her, AND pursuing the impeachment of Clinton for cheating as well!! He is the poster-child for hypocrisy!

    February 7, 2011 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  13. Julest

    What a pathetic attempt at trying to knock down our President. Gingrich has nothing himself to run as for president, so he just blah, blah, blah. Once a cheater, always a cheater...he will not get the women votes if he ever made it that far.

    February 7, 2011 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  14. Bill

    The fact that Wisner spoke out of turn doesn't make the Obama administration amateurish. They may be more tolerant of differences of opinion than Newt is.

    Right wing Republicans are to democracy what pubescent boys are to sex. Very enamored of it in the abstract, but scared to death of it in reality.

    February 7, 2011 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |

    ""Reagan did what he believed in when he thought it was right"

    Didn't Reagan say "trust but verify"... so where are the WMD's Newt?

    Trust but verify... while you said you'd cut the budget all your party is working on is cancelling Obamacare and trying to stop womens right to choose.

    You... like Sarah Palin are just digging your own hole... thank you.

    February 7, 2011 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  16. Cascadoux

    This man is a FLUFFER. Those like him come around, only to stoke the fire. To give head to things that are as fake as their concern for America, and Americans at large. They ought to be shunned, but then again, this is America, and they have a right to do so. Sadly, some of us are gullible, and surrendering all abilities to recognize when we are being hoodwinked. The "truth" as they see it, is a means to an end, power. He had his time, and what do we have to show for it?

    February 7, 2011 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  17. Joe citizen abroad

    John Bolton is the definition of "clumsy and out of sync." He was a bull in the china shop of diplomacy. We're lucky he didn't break anything during his brief tenure.

    February 7, 2011 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  18. Ron in Asheville, NC

    Hmm. It might depend on what you're looking at. The administration has had to scramble, as is always the case in situations like this, and as a consequence not everyone has been on exactly the same page. But I tend to agree with Sen. Graham that overall it has been awfully well handled.

    And (Graham didn't say this) it became clear in the language the protesters used in addressing themselves to Obama that his very presence was one of the reasons they felt they COULD protest and have a chance of being successful. (I also suspect, by contrast, that they were implicitly saying they wouldn't have had that same hope with prior US administrations.)

    Now the question is to produce something stable and meaningful out of the opening that they have created.

    February 7, 2011 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  19. George Guadiane - Austerlitz, NY

    The idea that Newt Gingrich thinks he is qualified to call PRESIDENT Obama amateurish is preposterous.
    That pusillanimous slime makes me laugh. He's not really qualified to judge anyone else's judgment. Didn't he resign because he showed such poor judgment?

    February 7, 2011 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  20. Daniel

    This coming from a guy who remained silent during the amateurish George W. Bush administration. Does Gingrich think we are fools?

    February 7, 2011 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  21. Steve

    If today's Republican lie is that Obama is amateurish, he must be doing well on the international stage as well as here. Gingrich has no credibility. Also, the recent attempts to portray Regean as something other than an idiot are also very telling. Jane Wyman on why she divorced Bonzo: "Ronnie never let not knowing anything stop him from having an opinion".

    Then there's the one about the Egyptian Crisis as being a consequence of the Neo Con agenda....

    February 7, 2011 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  22. Paul Ernest Show

    If Newt Gingrich is getting his diplomacy lessons from John Bolton, the world is in danger. Look for Third world war if he runs for president. Bolton's judgment is as extreme as the terrorists we have been fighting.

    February 7, 2011 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  23. Frost

    Newt can suck the big one..he's a big coward who was never gutsy enough to be president, so he's throwing tomatoes from the shady side of the crowd.. what a complete loser.. typical republican.. always full of criticism for the dems, but always short on ideas on how to fix things. Newt.. go home and shut the hell up.

    February 7, 2011 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  24. MrJaz

    Of course Gingrich would know exactly what to do... unless he would actually have to do it.

    February 7, 2011 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  25. mike

    Hey newt you pin head you don't get it Obama does not want the united states to put there two cents in with egypt why so the people of that country are insured that we have nothing to do with this process of removing murbark as for the muslim brother hood what do you think in your little pin head mind do you think you are going to do to them stop them from not being a part of the process are you that stupid if this is what the people of egypt want then so be it you can't be at war with the whole world

    February 7, 2011 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
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