Gingrich on Bush's 'Appeasement' Remark

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," May 15, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We've heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi — tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared, "Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided."

We have an obligation to call this what it is. The false comfort of appeasement which has been repeatedly discredited by history.


ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: The White House says Bush wasn't speaking specifically about Barack Obama, but Senator Obama still responded, saying, quote, "George Bush knows that I have never supported engagement with terrorists, and the president's extraordinary politicization of foreign policy and the politics of fear do nothing to secure the American people or our stalwart ally Israel."

Other Democrats also weighed in. Speaker Pelosi and Congressman Rahm Emanuel condemned the remarks, while Senator Joe Biden of Delaware called them, quote, "B.S.," and I'm paraphrasing.

Joining us now with his.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Oh, I think he'd know.

COLMES: We know what that means.

Watch the interview: Part 1 | Part 2

Joining us now with his interpretation of what the president said is former speaker of the House and FOX News contributor and author of "Days of Infamy," Newt Gingrich.

Now, Mr. Speaker, is there any doubt that the president was including in his comments thoughts about Barack Obama? Is there any doubt about that?

NEWT GINGRICH, "DAYS OF INFAMY" AUTHOR: All Barack Obama had to say was, "I agree with the president."


GINGRICH: I don't think we should talk with terrorists, I don't think you can negotiate with radicals, and I think that the president made a very good point about 1939, and I don't think you could have talked Adolf Hitler out of being evil. That's all he had to say.

COLMES: But the issue was Dana Perino, the spokesperson for the White House, denied that the president was including Barack Obama or thinking about him in his comments. Do we believe those denials?

GINGRICH: Wait a second. What does it tell you about the level of guilt that Senator Obama must feel that he identified a reference to a 1939 isolationist nut cake senator as referring to him? I mean it strikes me the people who — well what you just saw was a revealing test of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, all of whom were offended by a description of appeasement, isolationism, self-delusion, which they thought must refer to themselves.

COLMES: Well, wait a minute. Are you telling me the White House was not at all thinking about the Democrats or Barack Obama when they said that? It was totally a nonpolitical statement, right?

GINGRICH: Well, first of all, if he was referring to anybody in particular, he was referring to Jimmy Carter who recently hugged a murdering terrorist in Damascus.

COLMES: And Barack Obama denounced his meeting with Hamas.

GINGRICH: Exactly. So Obama had a great opportunity tonight to side with the president, be in favor of strength, and say he's exactly right, appeasement did not work with Adolf Hitler. You tell me, Alan. Why would they go out of their way to pick a fight at a point where it makes them look like they're pro-appeasement?

COLMES: Well, Mr. Speaker, I think it was the president who picked the fight. You know, actually I think he was speaking about Brent Scowcroft, when asked if he — we should talk to Ahmadinejad, he said absolutely, or maybe he was talking about James Baker who said...


COLMES: ...I think we should talk to our enemies.


COLMES: I think that's who the president was talking about?

GINGRICH: Right. So if he was talking about two Republicans, Alan, why is it that the liberal Democrats are so nut cake on this thing?

COLMES: Oh, they're nut cake.

GINGRICH: Why would they go out of their way, why would they go out of their way, to identify themselves with appeasement, isolationism, ignorance of dictatorship? I mean it's almost a psychological study in guilt.

COLMES: It sounds disingenuous to act all innocent as though the president had no idea who he might be thinking of or referring to, wasn't thinking about the Democrats, was not referring to Barack Obama's comment that he would engage with our enemies.

GINGRICH: But what.

COLMES: And they had no idea that was what's going on.

GINGRICH: What if Nancy Pelosi had said, you know, I think this opposition to dealing with Adolf Hitler is so good we're going to move a resolution tomorrow commending the president for being against dealing with Adolf Hitler?

HANNITY: Hey, Mr. Speaker, let me — the sensitivity shows that they know they're vulnerable on this issue, in my view, and the fact that they were so quick to assume that it was about Senator Obama's amazing here, but we do have an Obama doctrine. We do know his position.

He was asked in a July 2007 debate, and the question was simple, would he be willing, in his first year, first administration, to meet with the leaders of North Korea, Syria, and other hostile nations without preconditions? His answer was he would be willing to do so.

On his own Web site Obama brags, quote, he is — Obama is the — only major candidate who supports tough, direct presidential diplomacy with Iran without preconditions. So I think this is a legitimate question for him.

After Hitler invaded Poland in 1939, before we were at war with Nazi Germany, do you think it would be wise — would have it been wise for us to engage in talks with him? Is that a fair question?

GINGRICH: Sure, I think a deeper question is — it's quite clear that Franklin Delano Roosevelt had no illusions because as early as 1937 he made speeches attacking the dictatorship and talking about how to defend the democracies. As you know I've written two novels now, "Pearl Harbor" and "Days of Infamy," that deal with this very period and look at what happened in 1930s and 1941.

What I'm fascinated by, Sean, is that — anybody who's watching us, if you'll just get the text of the president's speech and read it, there's no reference to Democrats, there's no reference to Senator Obama, there's no reference to American politics. This is a clear, historic statement that appeasement is bad, that dictators are evil, and that you should not try to deal with terrorists.

Now why the Democrats would decide that offended them I think tells you how guilty they feel and how vulnerable they feel...


GINGRICH: ...about a left-wing policy of weakness, appeasement and defeat?

HANNITY: Well, I also think that there's another issue here, and if he's going to meet with Assad of Syria, if he's going to meet with Kim Jong-il, if he wants to meet with Ahmadinejad — you know, what is the first question we're going to ask Ahmadinejad, the holocaust denier who repeatedly stated he wants to wipe Israel off the map? What's the first question we could ask him?

GINGRICH: Well, let me tell you. The first thing I was briefed this afternoon by somebody who pointed out that maybe as many as half of all American deaths in Iraq have been caused by the Iranians. We know that the Syrians and the North Koreans are trying to build a nuclear facility in Syria and lying about it until it was destroyed by the Israelis.

So when Senator Obama says that he wants to meet without precondition with three of the worst dictatorships on the planet, I think there's a lot to ask him about why isn't he, in fact, remarkably like the isolationist senators of the 1930s?

HANNITY: Well, you know, and it's funny because they're trying to say, well, Reagan did the same thing when he met with Gorbachev. That was after he unilaterally built up our military, moved to deploy Pershing II in Europe, pursued as the I Strategic Defense. So there's a great difference and distinction, right?

GINGRICH: Well, Reagan had a strategy for eliminating the Soviet Union which worked, and I think it's very hard to argue that Reagan gave anything to Gorbachev in those negotiations.

HANNITY: All right. We got to take a break. We'll have more with former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.


HANNITY: As we continue on HANNITY & COLMES, and we continue with former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, Mr. Speaker,, you have a newsletter, and the headline and a recent one was "Real Change or Catastrophic Defeat," and that is time for a Republican wake-up call.

In that you talked about losing Dennis Hastert's seat, a seat that Republicans had held for 76 years but for Watergate. You talked about a district in Louisiana which President Bush won by 19 points in 2004. Now we have a seat that was won in 2006, in Mississippi, that was lost by eight points on Tuesday.

What does this mean for the Republican Party?

GINGRICH: Well, I think this is — I can't imagine a more decisive and a clearer wake-up call. The country is sending a clear signal. They want to see dramatic, real change. And I outlined in that particular newsletter, and as you know it's a free newsletter that goes out every week that people can get at

And I outlined in there nine initial steps just for the first couple of weeks. This was not a complete program. In fact, this week my newsletter was on the politician's energy crisis and outlined an entire series of changes on energy.


GINGRICH: But I think Republicans have got to understand. People don't want talk, people don't want slogans, people want to see decisive, real action.

HANNITY: All right. This is an ongoing discussion we've had here. I actually think this is — if this doesn't serve as a wake-up call, the loss of three highly conservative seats. You know, these are seats that never should have been lost.


HANNITY: If they don't adapt a bold agenda the next 173 days, if they don't come up with something similar to a contract with America — energy independence, eliminate earmarks, balance the budget, offense war on terror, secure the borders, no nationalized health care — if they don't put their signatures on a piece of paper, I don't see — and organize quickly and inspire people, this could be a disastrous election for Republicans.

Can it not?

GINGRICH: Yes, I think that the first threshold for people is that they're very angry with where the Republican Party got them, and unless the Republicans send a clear signal that they've gotten the message and that they're really changing, I think people are probably going to punish them this fall.

HANNITY: Do you have any faith that they can do this or will do this?

GINGRICH: Yes. Well.

HANNITY: You have faith? No? Is that a no?

GINGRICH: No, no, no, I couldn't hear you. There was a technical.

HANNITY: Do you have any faith that the Republican leadership is going to organize a coalition and do something like this?

GINGRICH: I think it is possible, but I think it's very hard. Legislative bodies are naturally very slow and very divided, and they have a tendency to have the safest members sit around and say well, I'm not going to lose, so I don't have to change at all.

COLMES: Mr. Speaker, I was reading your speech that you gave earlier today. You said we're facing the greatest crisis in the preservation of our government since the 1850s and 1860s. We've become less capable, we're decaying toward decisive defeat, decaying also in our economy, and our education.

Why should the American people reward the political party that's been in power that has brought us the very vulnerabilities you mentioned?

GINGRICH: Well, I think if you look at the whole country, both parties have more than enough blame to share, Alan. I think both parties have been guilty in a variety of ways. I think the collapse of Detroit, for example, has been almost entirely done by Democrats. I think other problems have been done largely by Republicans, and I think the real question for America is: is either of these parties going to figure out the scale of change we need?

And is either of these parties going to offer a program of fundamental real change that enables us to move in a direction that we have reason to believe will succeed? I think both parties can share more than enough guilt for where we are today.

COLMES: We have Republicans.

GINGRICH: And I say that, by the way...


GINGRICH: a person who's been an active Republican his entire life. I don't say it with any pride. I wish my party had done a better job.

COLMES: Well, that's an honest and candid assessment. But we've had — you know, a Republican running the presidency for eight years. Up until two years ago, they ran the House and the Senate, largely result of what you did in 1994. You guys have been pretty much in charge for years and years and years.

GINGRICH: Yes, but, Alan, they completely — once I left in '90s — in '98, they completely underestimated how deep the changes have to be in the bureaucracy. When you look at the failure to react to Katrina which was a disaster, you look at the failure to react to the Census Bureau collapse, which is a $15 billion disaster, you look at the failure to react to the Department of Energy collapse in clean coal, which is an absurd disaster, again, again, you look at the failure to clean out the State Department.


GINGRICH: . which continues to be, I think, fundamentally opposed to Bush's policies.

COLMES: That's why Americans are likely to vote for somebody who hasn't been in Washington for a very long time come November.

GINGRICH: Well, they might if they — unless they learn what he wants to do.

COLMES: Well, they will. Thank you very much for being with us tonight, Mr. Speaker.

GINGRICH: Thank you.

Watch "Hannity & Colmes" weeknights at 9 p.m. ET!

Copy: Content and Programming Copyright 2008 Fox News Network, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2008 Voxant, Inc. (, which takes sole responsibility for the accuracy of the transcription. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material except for the user's personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon Fox News Network, LLC'S and Voxant, Inc.'s copyrights or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.