Friday Lightning Round: Obama's Berlin speech

Panel sums up this week's hot topics


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," June 21, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

CHRIS WALLACE, ANCHOR: Each week, we ask you to vote in our Friday Lightening Round poll for your favorite topic. And today, in a tremendous upset, you choose the luddite, Charles, for his pick. Charles, what is your topic?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: The origin of the word luddite. No, I actually have a topic. Obama gave a speech in Germany this week. Was it A, a stirring defense of the United States and the concept of liberty a la Reagan and Kennedy, B a mediocre mush of platitudes or, C the worst presidential speech on foreign affairs in memory, empty, self-indulgent, anachronistic and adolescent.

WALLACE: Now, before you give us, you always do, the correct answer, we want to give you a taste of the President's speech in Berlin.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I've come here to this city of hope because the test of our time demand the same fighting spirit that defined Berlin a half century ago.


WALLACE: So the answer is A, a stirring recreation of Kennedy's speech?

KRAUTHAMMER: It doesn't, it doesn't even reach the level of mush. C, is the correct answer.

WALLACE: Embarrassment.

KRAUTHAMMER: It's a bit harsh, although yes, absolutely, and D, self-indulgent, anachronistic, and adolescent.

WALLACE: A.B. -- this is complicated, asking A.B. for her choice, A.B. is saying...

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, THE HILL: I'm going with mush, option B which I think Charles wrote for me. How about you?

LOWRY: I'm going to go with C but under, only under protest because it didn't include the adjectives feeble and self-parodic.


WALLACE: What was, what was so terrible about it?

LOWRY: Well, first of all, it shows the thrill is gone, even overseas. Then the whole obsession with nuclear disarmament is really a leftover from the eighties. And then the threat of climate change, one is totally disconnected from the realities of American politics, and nothing's going to happen on that. And two is, really disconnected from the reality of global warming, because we haven't had any in the last 15 years.

WALLACE: Another big story this week, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke announced if the economy continues on its present course, if, the Fed will pull back on its easy money stimulus program by the end of the year, and although the markets were stable today, there was a big sell-off on Wednesday and Thursday. What does that tell you about the economy?

LOWRY: Well, it still shows that what has been all along a very tentative recovery. Housing is looking better. Manufacturing isn't. And when you have unemployment that's still as high as it is, and when you have inflation still astonishingly low, the market believes it's the wrong time to talk about tightening, and it's probably right.


STODDARD: Well, he actually -- the Fed Chair actually said, we'll keep with these policies going if the economy requires it, and the market's still flipped out. And that shows -- there's no -- there's not enough reassurance in a jobless recovery to calm the pessimism that still remains, years into it.

WALLACE: There's another factor here as well. And Charles, why don't you add this to it? There's also concerns about slower growth and a tightening of credit inside China which has been a huge engine of economic growth, one of the few places with big growth around the world?

KRAUTHAMMER: That is true. But that's been happening over a period of weeks. I think the fact that you had the sell-off for a couple of days, right after the Bernanke statement, I think indicates how much the economy is dependent on the heroin that Bernanke has been administering and the idea of the threat of slightly letting off on it next year was enough to send stock traders jumping out of windows.

So I think it shows you how much there is a lack of confidence and also a weakness in the economy.

WALLACE: All right. A fan favorite, winners and losers of the week.  Rich, who's your winner?

LOWRY: The winner is clearly Chuck Schumer, he's going to get a big vote, probably, for his misbegotten, I believe, immigration bill. It's going to be bipartisan. He's going to be able to say, he got toughened up on enforcement. So in other words, it becomes a perfect tool to hammer the House with. So congratulations, Senator Schumer, although he had a lot of help from Republicans.

WALLACE: And your loser?

LOWRY: The loser, I hate to throw him under the bus, but Obama's teleprompter operator who had a very rough day in Berlin, and shamefully left the President naked unto the world, giving a grand address from notes on paper. (Inaudible.)

WALLACE: I must also add the advance man who put him behind that thick glass. It looked like we were looking through the guy in the next door building. A.B., your winner?

STODDARD: LeBron James. No, I give it sadly to President Assad...

WALLACE: I agree with that.

STODDARD: ...who actually had a good week. The G-8 concluded without any mention of his ouster, and loser, unfortunately, and I always come to his defense, is John Boehner, who is now speaker of the zoo.

WALLACE: Why? Explain.

STODDARD: Well, the Farm Bill went down last night, and it was easy to spin for Republicans that it was Democrats who abandoned it after saying they would vote for the bill, but they lost more than 60 Republicans. They brought a bill that the floor convinced it would pass, and it didn't. He's not in control of his conference, and facing a debt ceiling increase and any kind of deal on immigration reform. He just doesn't -- he doesn't have control over the votes in his conference and his speakership is really in question.

WALLACE: Charles, your winner?

KRAUTHAMMER: Christina Torre, the daughter of Joe Torre, the baseball immortal who this week saved the life of a toddler falling out of a second story window by catching him. As they say in the trade, soft hands, like her father.

WALLACE: And your loser?

KRAUTHAMMER: And my loser, unfortunately, it's a guy I admire, Marco Rubio. He imagined or he thought and he promised that in the bill he proposed there would be a hard trigger, meaning that there would have to be a results oriented a trigger to get a path to citizenship.

And that was, and then the Cornyn amendment, he voted again -- he voted in favor. It was defeated and he may not end up with it, which would be a huge defeat.

WALLACE: That's it for the panel, but stay tuned to see how the broadcast of a sports event can go very wrong.

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