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Karl Rove On The Iran Deal, President Obama, and Hillary Clinton

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Karl Rove joined me on Thursday’s show:




HH: Joined now by Karl Rove, the Architect. Mr. Rove, welcome back to the Hugh Hewitt Show, always a pleasure to talk to you.

KR: Thanks for having me.

HH: I hope you had a happy Easter, and I hope you weren’t ungenerous as the President said. And he’s worried about Christians being ungenerous.

KR: Yeah, well, I had a great Easter, thank you for asking. I was mystified by that comment. I think most of all, it shows the narcissism of this man. I think if it had been expressions about issues or proposals or legislation or controversies, he would have explained what he meant. But I took it as comments that the took as aimed at him. So this was all about President Obama. So much seems to be with him.

HH: Well, a lot of people are mystified by the President. One of your close working associates during the Bush years, Vice President Cheney, joined me two days ago. Let me play a little bit of what the Vice President said to me about President Obama.

HH: Is he naïve, Mr. Vice President? Or does he have a far-reaching vision that only he entertains of a realigned Middle East that somehow it all works out in the end?

DC: I don’t know, Hugh. I vacillate between the various theories I’ve heard, but you know, if you had somebody as president who wanted to take America down, who wanted to fundamentally weaken our position in the world, reduce our capacity to influence events, turn our back on our allies and encourage our adversaries, it would look exactly like what Barack Obama is doing. I think his actions are constituted in my mind those of the worst president we’ve ever had.

HH: Your reaction to Vice President Cheney’s comments, Karl Rove?

KR: Well, I have a minor disagreement with Vice President Cheney. I think it might be the second-worst so far after James Buchanan. After all, we got plunged into a Civil War because Buchanan was so incompetent. But President Obama has got two years more, and maybe he can surpass Buchanan in his ineptness.

HH: You don’t think he can get us into a civil war, do you, Karl?

KR: No, but I think he can leave us dangerously weak, in a dramatically changed environment. Not only after 9/11 do we face non-state actors like al Qaeda and Islamic State, but we also face state actors like Iran. And we could find ourselves at the end of the next two years in a very precarious position against both sets of adversaries.

HH: Now Karl Rove, what is his motivation? This is what I go back to with everyone, because I do not understand. Today, Ayatollah Khamenei said sanctions have to come off the first day or there’s no deal, and the head of the defense ministry in Iran said there will never be inspections on our military bases. Both of those mean there is no deal, in my view. But the President hasn’t said that?

KR: Look, I think the President in this instance is desperate for a legacy. He desperately wants an accomplishment, which is why he seemed to be willing to throw over all of the red lines that he had laid down several years ago. Remember, Hugh, I’m sure you remember it, he said there’s reason for the Iranians to have the underground facility at Fordow. There’s no reason for them to have the new reactor at Arak which has only one purpose, and that is to construct plutonium. And there’s no reason at all that they should have advanced centrifuges. And in the deal, they get all three. Now with credit to the administration that they say there’s going to be a redesign of the facility at Arak to remove its ability to produce plutonium, but there’s a long way between, as you say, between them promising and delivering, because clearly, our understanding of these things, or at least the administration’s explanation of their understanding of the contours of this agreement are very different from what the Iranians are saying.

HH: And given what the Supreme Leader said and his defense minister today, isn’t it smart to walk away, because if you go back under those conditions, you have essentially conceded them.

KR: Look, absolutely. Absolutely. And that’s what the Iranians are counting on. They’re counting on the President being so desperate for a deal that no matter what he thinks he’s supposedly negotiated with them, they get to write the final description, and they get to write the terms in their own way. I mean, look, this guy has weakened us every step of the way. Remember, he started this by failing to seize the moment when he had a chance to really deeply influence the Iranian regime, and that was in 2009 when the Green Revolution broke forward and brought tens of thousands of people into the streets of Tehran protesting the regime’s theft of the election. And all around the world, the leader of France, the leader of Germany, the leader of Great Britain, everybody turned in denouncing the actions of the Iranian government and stealing the election. And for 30 long days, the voice of the United States was muted because the president of the United States refused to come out and condemn what the rest of the world was condemning. That was when he lost his moral authority on the streets of Tehran and put us behind the eight ball from which we’ve never recovered.

HH: Karl Rove, every likely Republican presidential candidate who has come on this show, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Jeb Bush, yesterday Carly Fiorina, have all denounced this deal in no uncertain terms. I don’t think I asked Ben Carson about it, so I can’t say that he didn’t, and Rand Paul has not yet come onto the program, hasn’t found time this week. So what is the consensus position? What do you think is the necessary position for any serious Republican presidential contender to take vis-à-vis this deal?

KR: That this deal is bad, that it must be reviewed by the Congress, that the Congress ought to defeat it, and that if the President bypasses the Congress, then they will, this agreement will have force only so long as he’s in office.

HH: Then that, I agree with that, and I’d like to see them actually issue a joint statement. Now as to Secretary of State Clinton, she has remained silent on this as she prepares to announce next week, probably on the 14th, the buzz is. Can she accept this deal and have a credible campaign for the presidency?

KR: I don’t think so, and this is one of the interesting things. I refer to this in my column today in the Wall Street Journal. It’s going to be difficult for her to divorce herself from the President’s foreign policy disasters, because she was there for four years, and these policies, particularly the Iran policy, was set in motion. This is not, you know, they weren’t going one direction between 2009 and 2013 when she was the Secretary of State, and they’re now going a different direction. They were moving down this course when she was there. She is part and parcel of this. In fact, she is part and parcel of all these major failures. You know, she was the person who so famously resetting our relationship with Russia. Now we face the prospect of the Russians, after having gobbled up the Crimea, after having deeply infiltrated Eastern Ukraine in order to mute the central government there, we face a summer in which they could conceivably make a move in the Baltics, which are NATO members.

HH: Isn’t Jake Sullivan, who’s the architect of this deal along with Wendy Sherman, Hillary Clinton coined and put into circulation?

KR: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And you know, lest we forget all of his many sins, Jake Sullivan is also the fellow who is, I think, at the heart of the effort to send out the National Security Advisor, excuse me, the U.N. Advisor, the U.N. Ambassador, to go out on five television programs and say the attack on the Benghazi facility was the result of a video that nobody turned out to have seen in the Middle East.

HH: So will, last question, Karl, will the media hold Hillary to the Rand Paul standard, which is aggressive, almost relentless questioning without an answer opportunity provided?

KR: You know what? I love your youthful idealism.

HH: (laughing)

KR: It’s, I’ve got to tell you, we’ve known each other a long time, and the fact that you’ve never lost that optimism that things could be treated, that everybody could be treated fairly and that the press will give them a hard time as they give us a hard time? You know, I love it. I love that energy.

HH: Karl Rove, always a pleasure, from the Wall Street Journal, Fox News contributor extraordinaire, it’s Karl Rove.

End of interview.


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