Code Pink Expresses Concern Over Obama Policy Shift

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," December 5, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: President-elect Obama made it very clear in one of his debates that he would meet without preconditions with leaders of rogue countries, like Iran and Syria, and while many blasted him for this comment, our next guest probably welcomed this diplomatic approach. Now liberal antiwar group Code Pink is concerned the soon-to-be president is shifting too much to the center and even points to some of his cabinet picks as being too hawkish.

Joining us now from Code Pink is Medea Benjamin.

Is that an accurate summation, Medea, of your position?

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MEDEA BENJAMIN, CODE PINK: Yes. Yes, I would say that's accurate. We're concerned about his cabinet positions. We're concerned about everybody from Hillary Clinton to Bob Gates to John Jones. We don't think they represent the kind of change that people voted for.

COLMES: Well, I would disagree with you. As a matter of fact, I've been pretty angry at some conservatives who have been pre-critical of Obama before he's even stepped into office. I'm going to say the same thing to the left. I mean, at least give him an opportunity to govern.

He's — you know, this Team of Rivals idea, the fact of the matter is that he has people — he's got a Bush holdover in Gates. He's got — brought the Clintons in. Having this kind of diversity is change, compared to what we've had over the last eight years.

BENJAMIN: Well, we certainly want to give him a chance to fulfill the things that he promised during his campaign, like bringing the troops home from Iraq, and direct talks. I mean, we were very excited when he talked about direct talks.

But we are concerned that the people that he has picked really don't represent diversity when you look at...

COLMES: But he's diversifying opinion.

BENJAMIN: ... who is the voice of antiwar — it's not diversity.

COLMES: Sure, it is.

BENJAMIN: You don't is have the whole spectrum. Where is the antiwar spectrum there? Who represents...

COLMES: How about the president-elect of the United States? How about the fact that he says he's the one where the buck stops, he's the one making the final decision? And he's got a variety of people with a variety of opinions, to whom he can listen. And then you've got to trust that the person we elected will represent the people who elected him.

BENJAMIN: Well, I think that our hope is that he does — he is the one that sets the policies and that he doesn't have them set by people who were not elected, like Hillary Clinton, who if the American people wanted her voice to be the one that was the prominent voice on foreign policy, they would have voted for her.

She, unfortunately, supported the war in Iraq all too long, voted for it. And she also made fun of Barack Obama when he talked about direct talks.

So yes, we want him to fulfill his promises. We're excited about his presidency, but we as the progressive antiwar movement feel that we have to continue to push when he does become president.

MARK STEYN, GUEST HOST: Medea, evidently you don't share Henry Kissinger and Karl Rove's enthusiasm for the new Obama foreign policy team. In a sense, do you feel that the progressive antiwar movement got suckered by the Obama campaign?

BENJAMIN: Well, I wouldn't say we got suckered. I mean, we are excited about his being the president. We are excited about a lot of his campaign promises.

We would have liked a cabinet that, at least, had people who represented the antiwar voices, so we are disappointed about that. And it really — I think we have to take him at his word when he said that he expects people to be out there organized, mobilized, the same people that got him elected, to be pushing him, and we intend to do that.

STEYN: Now, originally, his plan was to bring all the troops home from Iraq in 16 months. When is your best guess, based on this particular team, that the troops are going to be home from — from over there?

BENJAMIN: We'd like to hold him to that promise of 16 months. We think that's something that the American people were excited about. Again, that's why they voted for him, as opposed to somebody like Hillary Clinton, and we're going to hold him to his promise.

STEYN: But it's not — it's not going to happen, Medea. I mean, they're talking already. Army planners are planning for 30 to 70,000 troops in Iraq after 2011. I mean, on the subject of the war, this is pretty much the Bush third term, isn't it?

BENJAMIN: Well, we hope not. I think with the economic crisis, the American people would much rather see that $12 billion every month be spent on all of the things that we need here at home.

So I think, between the public sentiment and pressure from the grass roots, we hope to get Barack Obama to stick to his campaign promise of bringing the troops home in 16 months.

STEYN: John McCain famously said, "Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran," singing to it the tune of the Beach Boys. Barack Obama didn't. Do you think there might be the same shift in Iran policy as there has been on Iraq?

BENJAMIN: Well, he did — Barack Obama did talk about direct talks, and again, we want to hold him to that position.

I think the American people are excited about a diplomat being in the White House instead of what we had with George Bush. We're horrified by John McCain's comments of bomb bomb bomb Iran. It just was not funny. And we're looking forward to those direct talks without preconditions taking place.

STEYN: Well, we'll see how that shapes up. Medea Benjamin of Code Pink.

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