President-Elect Obama Receives Criticism From Far-Left

This is a rush transcript from "America's News HQ," November 24, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BILL HEMMER, HOST: He had one of the most liberal voting records in the Senate, and the far-left enthusiastically supported his nomination. But now that he has won the White House, President-elect Barack Obama is losing some of that support. Many of the lefties are displeased with some of the signals coming out of Chicago.

What's up with that? FOX News contributor Kirsten Powers wrote a column about it today in the New York Post, and a darn good one, too. Nice to see you.


HEMMER: Who's got their knickers in a twist here?

Video: Watch Bill Hemmer's interview

POWERS: Well, I don't know, left-wing bloggers and some of the anti- war groups actually, which I would say between the two of them, the anti- war activists probably have the most legitimate beef. They really were instrumental to his win, as you know, in Iowa caucuses during the primaries.

HEMMER: They're upset that he's proven to be a moderate? They're upset because he is showing centrist tendencies?

POWERS: Well, they are upset with the foreign policy team, as it's expected to be, which is filled with people who voted for the Iraq war and, you know, not choosing any people who had opposed the war, and, you know, who were fairly hawkish people, you know, separate from the war and I think that they were hoping.

HEMMER: So, you think their claims are legit then?

POWERS: I think their claims are legitimate up to a point. But what I wrote in a column is that I think there is no reason to believe that Barack Obama is going to change his position on the war, because while all these people did support the war, they've all recanted. You know, they've either said it was a mistake or they have said it's been such a mess that we need to leave.

HEMMER: OK, that's one category.

POWERS: So, none of them were really pro-war.

HEMMER: Let me get this one at a time now. What is not liberal enough about the economic team that was proposed today in Chicago?

POWERS: Well, I think they're not ideological as the way that they're seen typically.

HEMMER: Meaning they are socialist or Marxist, or what?

POWERS: Meaning that they are not progressive enough perhaps. You know, Timothy Geithner and Larry Summers, they are free traders. If you look at the people who worked for Obama on his campaign, Austan Goolsbee who is his economic advisor and will be in the White House, he's a free trader and Jason Fuhrman, as well, is a free trader. And so, these are people who are very, very centrist in terms of the spectrum.

HEMMER: So, they're just giving the person that they expected. Let me get on to Eric Holder for attorney general, what's wrong with him?

POWERS: The complaint about him is that he was, early on, right after 9/11 — well, for one thing, he didn't think that the detainees should be - - get the Geneva Convention protections. He did — I think it's an unfair criticism, frankly. You know, what he said was they should be treated humanely following the guidelines of the Geneva Conventions, but that, legally, the Geneva Conventions did not apply to them. That was his argument. The left does not like that, obviously.

HEMMER: Robert Gates, perhaps, stays on as secretary of state. What's wrong with him?

POWERS: Robert Gates, you know, he worked for George Bush, I guess, is the problem. Look, I think, most people think that Robert Gates has done a pretty job and that Barack Obama has said that he wants to have people from the other side of the aisle in his cabinet, and that he would be perfectly appropriate for that.

HEMMER: I've got more people here. Joe Lieberman was not dethroned last week. Does that tick them off?

POWERS: Well, they were very upset about that. And I think that a lot of people on the left were angry at Joe Lieberman. I certainly wasn't happy with him during the presidential election when he campaigned for John McCain and went to, as you know, he went to the convention and criticized Barack Obama and a lot of people felt that that crossed the line. And I think they wanted him thrown overboard, and not only was he not thrown overboard, but Barack Obama intervened to make sure that he would stay in charge of that committee.

HEMMER: It's probably a sign of unity and it seems like that the team has been pushing for him, working for him for a long time.

POWERS: I think so, yes.

HEMMER: But some felt that his biggest challenge to govern, anyway, was going to be fending off the left, that this may be proof of it, as you write.

POWERS: Well, I think this was always the problem that comes in whether you're conservative, whether you're Democrat or Republican, the conservatives are always fighting off the far right and the Democrats are always fighting off the far left. You know, these are people who are very ideological and they want things to go in a certain direction.

HEMMER: Go back to 1993, you got to work for the Clinton White House, first term, you learned a valuable lesson. What was it?

POWERS: Well, what I learned is that, you know, just because I believe something doesn't mean the rest of the country believes something. And the example that I used was the case (ph) in the military. I thought that, I wanted Bill Clinton to live up to the promise, and that, as you remember, he got in to a lot of trouble and he had to make a decision to really kind of fudge it and I wasn't happy with the decision that he made. But, in the end, I concede that that's what he had to do and it wasn't a good idea for him to have taken it on right out of the box in his first days.

HEMMER: Lots to learn. Good article, by the way.

POWERS: Thank you. Thank you, Bill.

HEMMER: Check it out at New York Post. Kirsten Powers, nice to see you.

POWERS: Thanks.

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