HH: Juan Williams of Fox News joins me. Juan, the President was just over talking to Wolf Blitzer, and saying hey, you know, the Russians, maybe we’ll go that way. Is this a Marx Brothers movie, or is it an administration?
JW: You know, they’ve screwed this up. I mean, you know, I just heard you talking with Jonathan Alter, Hugh, and he said Obama did the right thing by going to the Congress. And the only way I could agree with that is to say he’s listening to the American people, who feel he should go to the Congress. But the fact is that the vacillation, the fact that he built up the expectation he was going to act, then blinked and didn’t act, and has now opened us to, I guess, it’s 300 million plus generals trying to decide the war strategy, that’s just, that is a comedy. That is the Marx Brothers.
HH: It is, and it’s also ridiculous in the eyes of our enemies. I mean, this is all about what the Ayatollah Khamenei and Putin think about him, Juan. And what do you think they think about the President now?
JW: Well, I just think they think they can run over him. They think that he’s a weakling.
HH: Do you agree with them? Do you think he is?
JW: No, you know what, I think this is a president who was elected to get us out of war. Americans, at this point, you know, they’re just tired of it. And you know, Hugh, you see this among conservatives as much as you do among liberals. People just know it’s been ten years plus in Afghanistan and Iraq, and they’re just tired of it.
HH: Do you think that Khamenei and Putin thought W. was a weakling?
JW: No, they thought he was a boob. They thought that they could do what they wanted, or that they could use him. And I don’t think that’s true, by the way, just to be clear for you. But I don’t think they had a lot of respect for him. And you know, I mean, after he said that business about seeing Putin’s soul and all that, you know, I don’t think it worked.
HH: After the surge, I think they would not mess with him in the way that they are messing with President Obama. Now the question is what should Congress do, Juan? I’ve urged the Republicans, and Tom Cotton and Jon Kyl will be along on the program to reiterate, they have to vote yes on this because of Khamenei and Putin. But the Democrats are going south. Manchin’s going south, and the President spent an hour with the Congressional Black Caucus today, because they’re restive. Is Pelosi going to be able to hold her members?
JW: This is tough, and you’re exactly right. I’m just looking at a Fox News poll that came out, and it indicates that he has a record high disapproval right now among Democrats, 25%. I mean, you know, and these are people who just don’t have a negative thing to say about President Obama. And you see it in terms of the Congressional Black Caucus that you mentioned. But I think that ultimately, when you put it to them in terms of one, you’re going to undermine this President, your fellow Democrat, and two, what about the humanity of allowing people to use chemical weapons, to use gasses and other devices that are just torturous to watch people die in this manner, don’t you understand what will happen in terms of Iran, in terms of North Korea, in terms of terrorist action? That is a vital U.S. interest, and that’s why this action is necessary. This is not about getting involved in somebody else’s civil war. We’re not trying to solve the world’s problems in the Middle East. We are protecting America, because if we don’t act now, there could be a bigger fight down the road. So we are preventing future wars by taking this action today.
HH: Juan, you’re channeling George W. Bush.
JW: I’m all for it. That’s right, Hugh.
HH: That, you’re like a speechwriter for W.
HH: That’s exactly what his argument was, but the left mocked him, and the Democrats deserted him. And they destroyed the support for the effort in Iraq. And then the President, President Obama, cut and ran from Iraq. And now, this is why it’s so hard to sell a Republican on this, is there’s some of them that are just saying these guys absolutely screwed the national interest for four years under W., why should we come to their aid now. Now that’s not right. They should come to the aid of the country. But surely, you understand their reaction.
JW: Well, I think that was a very interesting way that you drew that picture, because I think most people would say there was a big problem there with weapons of mass destruction that didn’t exist, and people felt they had been duped by Colin Powell, by George W. Bush and on and on. And I think that’s the heart and soul of the ghost of the votes that again, many of the Democrats wished they had not cast to authorize President Bush to take military action.
HH: But Juan, do you really believe people think they were duped? Bill Clinton bombed Saddam in ’98. Everyone thought there were WMD there. Many people now think the WMD in Syria came from Iraq. And in fact, given the cross-border cooperation in the aftermath of the insurgency, who knows? I don’t know.
JW: Well, I don’t care where it came from, but you know, there’s not much dispute in the intelligence community in Washington about it. I mean, I think there are conspiracy theories always out there.
HH: Yeah, I don’t care about them. But I’m asking you, do you feel like W. lied to you?
JW: No, I didn’t say that. I think that there was, though, a clear and consistent…I mean, gosh, Hugh, you were around. You remember Colin Powell was holding up that…
HH: Yeah, they were wrong.
JW: …United Nations and all that.
HH: They were wrong. Something happened. People, everyone thought there were WMD. There weren’t WMD, but that’s not…
JW: okay, but all right, but that was the…
HH: But that’s not being duped.
JW: …critical piece of evidence that took us there, and we couldn’t get out.
HH: But we did get out, because the President cut and ran, and we’d won.
JW: Oh, okay, all right.
HH: But that’s not being duped.
JW: Here we go, back to politics.
HH: No, I’m arguing, I’m trying to make the case for the President’s robust use of authority to protect American interests. And that president doesn’t have a last name. It’s the president. But the Democrats undercut Bush, and now the Republicans don’t want to help prop up Obama, and that’s because of the polarization that your side worked on American national politics. You guys did this.
JW: Well, I think Republicans know a lot about the politics of obstruction and polarization, but I must tell you that one of the things I noticed in this Fox poll is that 57% say that the President, Obama, has yet to explain to them why he wants to go in. I was kind of surprised at this, because you know, given that I’m here in Washington, I think I’m hearing the President, the White House staff, John Kerry, the Secretary of State, Denis McDonough, the chief of staff, you know, I think the President’s all over the TV. But apparently, even from the remarks he made in the Rose Garden in that Labor Day weekend to the press conference he gave last week, 57% of Americans say President Obama hasn’t explained himself yet. They believe in about similar numbers, that he has the authority to do this without Congress, even though they want him to go to Congress. But I think that makes it much more of a doable task, if you will, Hugh, for him to sit down and speak to the American people tomorrow about this not being, interfering in somebody else’s civil war, this being about a vital American interest in preventing future warfare.
HH: Well, we will hope he pulls that off tomorrow night, Juan Williams. Thanks for joining us from Fox News. Follow Juan on Twitter @TheJuanWilliams.
End of interview.