This is a rush transcript of "Special Report With Bret Baier" from April 7, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
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OBAMA: Every mission that's been assigned, from getting rid of Saddam, to redu cing violence, to stabilizing the country, to facilitating elections, you have given Iraq the opportunity to stand on its own as a democratic country.
That is an extraordinary achievement, and for that you have the thanks of the American people.
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BAIER: President Obama making an unannounced stop in Baghdad, meeting and talking with, you see there, about 500 troops at Camp Victory, also meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki and the Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.
It ends this trip that has been a whirlwind, a lot of stops. Let's bring in our panel about all of this — Fred Barnes, executive editor of "The Weekly Standard," Mara Liasson, National Political Correspondent of National Public Radio, and Syndicated Columnist Charles Krauthammer.
Mara, let's start with you.
MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: I think the trip has been a mixed bag for the president. I think it's been wildly successful on one level, which is on the tone and the optics and the atmospherics. He certainly has made a contrast.
He will have a different approach to Europe than George W. Bush did. He is wildly popular there. And in terms of popularity being a tool that he might in the future be able to use as leverage with Europe's leaders, not just its people, maybe that's a good thing. It's certainly not a bad thing.
Now, in terms of what he actually got, he didn't find a way yet to use his popularity as leverage to actually get what he wants. He didn't get European troops committed to Afghanistan, didn't get more stimulus spending, and he hasn't gotten what I think is the biggest prize of all, European help to get tougher on Iran.
Now, maybe he has laid the groundwork by being so deferential and cooperative now that he'll get them to come along to our side on these issues later, but so far, not yet.
FRED BARNES, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": I'm not holding my breath that they will come around on those things. They just don't want to do them.
Look, I want to comment on what President Obama said in Iraq —
BAIER: In Iraq.
BARNES: — in praising the soldiers. Now that is — remember, what he said was, his phrase was they brought about an extraordinary achievement. I mean, this is by far the closest thing he has said to saying we were successful in Iraq and succeeded. It was a victory.
Obviously he wasn't going to give President Bush any credit, but he did give the soldiers "extraordinary achievement." Well, indeed he's right. Maybe someday he will get around to calling it a success as well.
Look, this trip was all about selling Obama. He's pretty good at selling himself. He got a lot of adulation in Europe, which is easy when you don't push them. I mean, Bush pushed them to do things that they didn't want to do. And Obama was pretty easy. Ok, they didn't send troops, but he didn't seem to be much bothered by that.
And they loved him. Particularly when you criticize America in Europe, they love it. The Europeans love it when you say Americans dissed the Europeans, you know. They loved that.
The other thing, where he may have helped in Turkey by making sure Turkey stays in NATO. He may have helped in Iraq, you know, telling Prime Minister Maliki, look, you have to really cool this friction that's going on and violence between the Sunnis and Shia that has picked up a little bit. And that may be successful.
In Iraq, though, you know, Obama likes to sell himself to constituencies, and the military is a very important constituency that Bill Clinton lost, George Bush had, and Obama's going after it.
BAIER: Charles, with that Iraq stop, even though he campaigned really against the war in Iraq, these statements today, does it change any perspective or is this a photo op? What's you thought?
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: He is commander-in-chief, and he knows he's responsible, and he will be held responsible for the future of Iraq.
I think what he did was necessary, but in a way it was a way to undo what he did in Europe, where he referred to Iraq in one of his speeches as a distraction. If you have a loved one who died in Iraq or who is know risking a life in Iraq, and your commander-in-chief is calling the effort a distraction, it's a bit of a blow.
And I think overall he did increase his own popularity in Europe, but that's easy to do if you do it at the expense of your country.
To various degrees of directness or obliqueness, he held America guilty for a range of offenses, a partial list of which includes arrogance, having caused the financial crisis, torture, genocide, racism, Hiroshima — he didn't even leave that one out — Guantanamo, of course, an insufficient respect for the Muslim world.
And as we say, what did he get in return? On Afghanistan troops, nothing. On stimulus in Europe, nothing. And on Guantanamo, what did he get? The French offered to take one prisoner. Now, you'd think that is an attempt at Gallic humor. It was a serious offer. I guess the guy that comes out of Guantanamo will have to leave his swim buddy behind.
BAIER: Mara, you haven't weighed in this week as we've talked about the Bush bashing, or what has been characterized as that by the president on these stops. What's your thought about that?
LIASSON: I think that there is a certain time to do it. I think this is probably the only time he can do it, because, very soon — he wanted to make the statement and send the message that he is different from Bush, he is starting a whole new approach to things. And certainly in Europe, that's a very popular message to send, because Bush was extremely unpopular and Obama is hugely popular.
I think that at some point these problems do become his own. I think certainly Iraq is his, and he recognized that. He didn't go to Iraq and trash George W. Bush.
But pretty soon they become his own. What I think is interesting—
BARNES: How about now, Mara?
LIASSON: I don't know about now, and I'll tell you why. If you look at the polling, people do not blame him for the economic crisis, even though people think that at some point he will own the economy. They don't blame him for these problems yet. They will at some point, but it has not started yet.
BARNES: They do know he is not George Bush, and it's gratuitous and tacky for him to be taking these swipes at George Bush. He doesn't need to do that.
BAIER: While the president was in Turkey today, he made news on one of his favorite topics, global warming.
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OBAMA: We have to make sure that our actions are responsible. So on the international issues like climate change, we have to take leadership.
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BAIER: But where is the administration heading on this issue? The panel discusses next.
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OBAMA: This is going to be a big, big project and a very difficult one and a very costly one. If you say to a power plant you have to produce energy in a different way, and that costs them money, then they want to pass that cost on to consumers, which means everybody's electricity prices go up, and that is something that is not very popular.
When it comes to climate change, George Bush didn't believe in climate change. I do believe in climate change. I think it's important.
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BAIER: Well, if you talk to Bush administration officials, they say that statement was just wrong, that the former president, George W. Bush, started talking about climate change and dealing with emissions back in 2001 and made serious moves to address that.
The president there talking in Istanbul about global warming and what his administration is going to do. We're back with the panel-Charles?
KRAUTHAMMER: The difference is the Bush administration wanted to impose unilateral limits on what we do as we decide as a sovereign country.
The problem is the Obama administration wants to engage in negotiations now in Munich that are going to end up in Copenhagen at the end of the year, where the countries of the third world, over 120 of them, are demanding huge reductions in carbon emission by the rich countries, almost up to 50 percent, which would constitute the largest transfer of wealth from rich to poor countries in the history.
It still doesn't include China and India. And it would impose enormous costs on the American consumer.
That's why I think it doesn't have a chance. Even if adopted in Copenhagen, it will not pass the U.S. Congress by any means. The same way that Kyoto was rejected unanimously in the late 1990's in the Senate, it would happen again, although it wouldn't be unanimous.
BAIER: 95-0 in the Senate, Mara, for Kyoto, and President Obama saying today that we should have signed on to Kyoto, and he's advocating stronger effort in Copenhagen.
LIASSON: He is, but it's going to be very hard to get. As Charles explained, one of the biggest reasons we have global warming is because two huge countries developing countries are becoming middle class countries, China and India, and they're consuming tremendous amounts more of fossil fuels than they used to.
And I think that President Obama is nothing if not a very astute political analyst. And he just told you the reasons why this isn't going to pass Congress, because look what has to happen. If you say to a power plant that you have to do expense things, they will pass that on to consumers and it's not going to be popular. There is it.
And I think that in Obama original budget, before Congress changed it, there was the actually something that was a little too complicated than I would have liked, but it was this cap-and-trade system, and they said that it would pay for his middle class tax cut, his make work pay tax cut.
Well, Congress took that out. They took out cap-and-trade. They don't want to do it this year. They don't want to do it under the reconciliation process, where you only have to get 50 votes. And they made temporary his middle class tax cut.
Congress doesn't have an appetite for this, this year. They have a lot on their plate, a lot put on by the president. It's just not going to happen.
BAIER: But while he continues to talk about how tough it will be, he continues to talk about it, that his administration is pressing forward on it.
LIASSON: I think they will press forward, I just don't think this year you're going to hear about it. And maybe at some point in the future, I don't know when, he'll press forward with it in some manner.
BARNES: I think we are going hear a lot about it this year. I think they are going to make an effort to try and pass cap-and-trade.
It's good to see that President Obama is not for Kyoto now that it's dead.
BAIER: It expired.
BARNES: It expired, and it hadn't worked in Europe anywhere, where all of the European countries signed on.
But it is good, one thing, it's good to hear him talk about, and it's the consequences of a cap-and-trade system or some cap on energy — on carbon emissions in this country.
Usually they just talk about how wonderful it will make the world. But it will drive up energy prices. He used the word "skyrocketing" energy prices once during the campaign, and, obviously, have a very adverse effect on the economy.
There are a couple of other consequences he didn't mention, though, and one is, of course, by any calculation that I've ever seen, even if that passes and our carbon emissions are reduced, it's not going to have any effect on global warming, or it will be minuscule.
One if of the arguments is that the U.S. has to do it anyway because China and India will follow through and they'll do it. No, they won't, they have no intention to, because they're lifting people out of poverty by what they're doing now.
BAIER: There's also still some scientific arguing about global warming.
That's it for the panel, but stay tuned to see the latest example of the old saying, a picture is worth a thousand words.
BAIER: Finally tonight, a lot of political pundits, television commentators, and reporters of all stripes have weighed in on the president's overseas trip. But one particular image from the journey apparently needed some extra scrutiny.
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STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE COLBERT REPORT": By the end, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev were goofing around with the President during a photo session behind sourpuss Chinese Premier Hu Jintao.
I guess it's not as funny when you're carrying everyone else's debt.
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BAIER: That's it for this "Special Report," straightforward news in uncertain times.
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