This is a rush transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume" from July 17, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JILL HAZELBAKER, MCCAIN COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Senator Obama can choose to ca mpaign in any way he'd like, but the reality is this is not designed to inform his world view. It's to further his political ambitions.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I can only give you my opinion, and I will talk to her, but the fact is that I'm glad that he's going to Iraq, and I think it's—I'm glad that he's going to Afghanistan. And it is long, long overdue if you want to lead this nation and secure or national security.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRIT HUME, HOST: And so Senator McCain was then asked do you not think that this is a political campaign event, this overseas trip of Obama's? He says "no," a position that was later subject to some clarification which brought him a little bit more in line with his spokesperson, Jill Hazelbaker.
He said that they think that while the Iraq, Afghanistan leg of it is fine, and there will be no political rallies, that all the rest of this trip through Europe is nothing but campaign stops.
Some thoughts on all this from Bill Kristol, Editor of The Weekly Standard," Mort Kondracke, Executive Editor of Roll Call, and the syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, FOX News contributors all.
He will certainly have pretty good coverage, or at least pretty extensive coverage—200 reporters have apparently applied to go on the trip. The broadcast networks decided to send their evening news anchors, which usually means that the story will get on the air.
So what about this trip—Bill?
BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I'm with Jill Hazelbaker and against Senator McCain. The spokeswoman made the terrible mistake of telling the truth, which gets her in a lot of trouble in Washington.
Certainly the European part of the trip is a campaign stop. If you go to Europe and meet with the leaders of the countries, speak to the foreign policy establishment, that is traditional.
Why is he giving a public speech in Germany? It is just weird. It's like a rally. Why do you have political rallies? Because you want the people there to vote for you, you want to excite them, or you want other people to see that a lot of people support you and excite them to vote for you.
But speaking to a foreign audience to get Americans to vote for you? I don't think this has ever actually happened.
HUME: Do you think it will work?
KRISTOL: Americans like to be liked, and they will like to see that Obama is liked.
But, it's one thing-no one begrudges him—he certainly should go to Iraq and Afghanistan. No one begrudges him going to the European capitals and meeting with world leaders and opinion leaders. I think the public speech in Germany is problematic.
MORT KONDRACKE, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, ROLL CALL: This is being covered as though he were president, that's the thing. Everybody is going there not to cover a political candidate, but, you know, it has all the trappings of a regular presidential visit, an indication-
I mean, there is some news value in that insofar as he's new and all that.
HUME: He is novel candidate in many ways, and in Iraq and Afghanistan, in the case of Afghanistan, he has never been there.
KONDRACKE: Right. There will be great visuals. So there is some appropriateness to it.
However, he has already said that whatever he learns in Iraq and Afghanistan doesn't make any difference. So it can't be really a fact- finding tour, because it's not going to change his mind. Would that it were and that he would learn something there and maybe change his mind.
And, furthermore, he got pushed into this trip to Iraq and Afghanistan by McCain, who, you know, said why don't we go together? Of course, he wasn't going to go together, but now he's going, basically, to fulfill a stature gap that he's got on foreign policy.
There is a poll that indicates that, like 72/48, people think John McCain would make the better Commander in Chief.
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I think that the coverage he's getting is beyond presidential. It's papal. I mean, a president never has all three anchors on the way with him this guy is being treated like—
HUME: I have been on foreign trips with presidents where all three anchors showed up.
KRAUTHAMMER: Yes, perhaps. But a candidate, this has never really happened.
And to get the coverage out of these capitals, this is going to be a-if you needed any evidence of how much in the tank the mainstream media were, are, this is it.
In Europe, I think it's going to be a smash hit, not just because he's "Kennedy-esque," you know, young and attractive, elegant and new, not just because he's anti-Bush, which, of course, the European public is, and because he's African-American, but because the way he sees the world is essentially European. That's the way liberals do.
Their understanding of the world is that you want to use diplomacy, soft power, international institutions, and moral persuasion, you know, speak softly and holster your stick. And that's his foreign policy, which is why I think he's compatible with the European perspective. And he will be welcomed. He is going to have a smash success.
His problem is with Israel and Jordan and the Palestinian territories. He doesn't understand the code language of Middle East diplomacy. He made a big mistake in his speech here to AIPAC in which he spoke about an undivided Jerusalem, and then he changed his position.
But it wasn't that he changed it. I think he didn't understand that in speaking that an undivided Jerusalem has a code, a significance. It means a united Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty, which, of course is no longer our position. So a few days later he was obviously informed, and he appeared to switch.
He has got to be careful. If he does live events in Israel and Ramallah, he has to watch out, because it is all about code language, which he has to learn in about a week or two.
KRISTOL: I would say on the Berlin speech, he has to be careful, both because it is an odd thing to do—no presidential candidate to my knowledge has ever spoken to a massive public rally abroad while running for president of the United States—but also, if he panders to the Europeans, he will be in trouble back here.
He's a smart guy and his campaigners are smart. And I think what he might do in Berlin is say, I have to be honest with you. I won't agree with you Europeans all the time. I'm running for President of the United States.
HUME: Do you think he will tell Europe off?
KRISTOL: I think if he were smart, he will give that speech-
HUME: He will have a "Sista Soulja" moment-
KRISTOL: Absolutely. No, it would not hurt him. And, you know, it won't hurt him to say one nice sentence about the current president of the United States, which I think it would be appropriate for him to do.
HUME: Will he do it?
KONDRACKE: I don't think he will do it. He's going to have to avoid "Ich Bin Ein Berliner," because this is obviously a Kennedy-esque moment.
HUME: Somebody said that he would be saying "Ich Bin Ein Beginner."
KRAUTHAMMER: What he is going to say is that he is European. That is exactly what he's going to say.
HUME: Up next, the Israeli-Palestinian prisoner swap. Was this a fair trade? What does it mean? An interesting story—the FOX all-stars will weigh in when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHIMON PERES, ISRAELI PRESIDENT: It's not a happy choice (INAUDIBLE). We have our commitment (INAUDIBLE) to fight for our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUME: The Israeli president there talking about a prisoner swap in which quite a large number of Hezbollah and other prisoners held by Israel were released in exchange for what turned out to be the bodies of two Israeli soldiers who were captured during the Israeli-Hezbollah fighting last year.
There you see their pictures there.
So the question arises here, what were the equities here? The Israelis, as you saw the pain of Peres' face speaking of this bargain, one he felt that his government had to make. Your thoughts, Mort?
KONDRACKE: I mean, this is such a lopsided deal, and what is most disgusting is that the Lebanese performance—tens of thousands of people turning out to welcome home a terrorist who had killed a policeman, a civilian, and then bashed in the head of the civilian's four-year-old daughter.
And he's being welcomed home as though he is a national hero, with the president there, the prime minister there, the speaker of the parliament. This is supposed to be an ally of the United States, Lebanon.
What it indicates is that Lebanon-that Lebanese politics is now owned by Hezbollah, which, in fact, it is. I mean, they went into the streets, they scared the Lebanese army back. They decided to pull back when they could.
But they have veto power over whatever the Lebanese government does. Lebanon is close to being lost.
KRAUTHAMMER: Mort's right. It's a moral and political disaster. It's a moral disaster for the reason that Mort had said.
There's a reason for 30 years no Israeli government in many wars and many prisoner exchanges ever released this guy. He is an abomination, a sadistic terrorist of a kind that is almost unspeakable. And yet he was released and returned for two bodies, not even live soldiers.
But the political aspect of this is even worse, because Olmert, the Prime Minister of Israel, went to war ostensibly to get these two guys back. He also announced at the beginning of that war, the Lebanon War two years ago, that he would smash Hezbollah and destroy its sanctuary.
All of this, of course, never happened. He never got his soldiers back, except in this awful exchange. Hezbollah was strengthened. Hezbollah is now a part of the Lebanese government and it's threat to Israel's existence and to Lebanese sovereignty.
So he's a prime minister who has a lot to answer for. A war that he lost essentially ends today with the worst of possible events.
KRISTOL: It is admirable that Israel has always had a policy of trying very hard and paying a very high price to get back soldiers who were held captive or even the bodies of soldiers who have died. And you got to sort of admire the country for its commitment to that.
Having said that, I very much agree that it's a terrible day. It's a victory for the terrorists. It's a victory for a murderer. It's a victory for Hezbollah. It is a victory for Iran. And Nasrallah, the head of Hezbollah, in his speech went out of his way to specially thank the Islamic Republic of Iran.
And I think it makes more kidnappings more likely, more terror likely, more terror likely, and it makes war more lightly. This will embolden the worst elements, not just surrounding issue. I think it makes attacks on Israel more likely, but in the Middle East as a whole.
What is the message of this? The message of this is that kidnapping, terrorism, murder, works.
KRAUTHAMMER: And in one other aspect, one of the Israelis who voted against this exchange pointed out that the release was in exchange for two dead Israelis. There is a live Israeli, Shalit, who is being held in Gaza.
So the old incentive the enemy had of keeping Israeli soldiers or kipnapees alive disappears. If he could get all of this, including a body, there is no incentive to not do the worst to a captured Israeli.
I think it sends a terrible message, and Israel will pay in the future.
HUME: That is it for the panel.
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