Friday Lightning Round: ISIS in Iraq

Panel sums up this week's hot topics


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," June 20, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: I guess what I would say to Republicans who are worried about this is, what is the alternative? Is the alternative a commitment of American service personnel indefinitely in countries like Afghanistan and Iraq? They are welcome to make that case.


CHRIS WALLACE, ANCHOR: White House spokesman Josh Earnest defending President Obama's go slow policy for reengaging in Iraq. And we are back now with the panel for our Friday Lightning Round. With the lightning advance of ISIS in Iraq, President Obama's foreign policy maybe under attack like never before. I want to put up this poll. In a Wall Street Journal poll this week, approval of Obama's handling of the foreign policy hit a new low of just 37 percent. Kirsten, how fair is the criticism?

KIRSTEN POWERS, COLUMNIST, USA TODAY: Oh, I think it is fair, but I think we all have criticisms maybe coming from different directions, and that is the problem for Obama. And I think that it would drop even further if he was to get more engaged in Iraq, because Americans did not want to want us to be in Iraq and they frankly don't want us in Afghanistan. So this criticism that he is getting from Republicans saying, oh, is this going to happen now? Will we not get a status of forces agreement in Afghanistan? You have to remember the president is accountable to the American people who did not want us to be in Iraq and who don't want us to have a really long term commitment in Afghanistan either.

WALLACE: Julie, a Republican aide on Capitol Hill was quoted today it as asking the question, what's the difference between Iraq and Afghanistan, and the answer was about five years. Is there concern at the White House that, you know, we got out of Iraq, now we are back in. We are getting out of Afghanistan, maybe that's going to fall apart, too?

JULIE PACE, ASSOCIATED PRESS: I think what the White House would argue is that they're hoping at least that they are going to get a status of forces agreement with the Afghans to keep American troops there for two more years and perhaps training and counterterrorism missions for two more years to eventually stave off what we're see happening in Iraq. The question that a lot of critics will say though is doesn't this just extend that period of time and give the Taliban, give extremists a deadline for when they can then come in and have a similar situation as Iraq.

WALLACE: Charles, let me remind you, this is a lightning round.




KRAUTHAMMER: Just checking on the meteorological facts. The reason his numbers are low is because he pursued a foreign policy of deliberate retreat. The country doesn't want war. He responded to that. But between war and retreat there is a huge distance. And the result of that you can see all around the world. He said he would raise our standing in the world. Everywhere in the world -- Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Ukraine -- America and its allies are in retreat and are suffering as a direct result of his policy. End the lightning.

WALLACE: The House Committee on Veterans Affairs held a hearing today in which they were discussing the bonuses that V.A. managers get. It turns out the VA gives out $400 million a year in performance bonuses and that while, as we now know, thousands of vets were waiting to get in to even be able to see a doctor, 65 percent of the senior workforce got bonuses for their good work. Kirsten, 100 percent of senior managers met their goals.

POWERS: Yes. It doesn't look good. And I think there is nothing wrong with giving performance bonuses. Obviously, it gives you an incentive. But I think the fact that they were not able to see that all of these people weren't doing their job raises some serious questions.


PACE: It's just the latest in dignity for this agency that has had some problems. And to think that had you problem waiting for weeks people running these hospitals were getting bonuses I think is really infuriating.


WALLACE: Because of the way they were handling the wait times so efficiently supposedly. Charles?

KRAUTHAMMER: It's the perfect example of the difference between private sector where people are ultimately held accountable, and the public sector where they ultimately, generally are not.

WALLACE: Finally, winners and losers, Kirsten?

POWERS: Loser is the IRS, who I think actually may be up for loser of the year. We will see at the end of the year.

WALLACE: It's a long year.

POWERS: They are doing -- they're, I think, in the lead. And then Paul Ryan is the winner for his cross-examination of the IRS commissioner. I think he was sort of channeling a lot of the anger that Americans feel towards that sort of arrogant attitude.

WALLACE: Because you guys are going so fast now, do you think Paul Ryan is going to run for president?


KRAUTHAMMER: Wait, I'm coming up.


WALLACE: I'm going to leave you a little time.

POWERS: I think there is a good chance, yes, absolutely.

WALLACE: Julie, winner and loser.

PACE: My loser, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki. Not only is his country descending into horrific sectarian violence, but the U.S. and his fellow Iraqi politicians are just moving away from him and it seems hard to imagine how is he going to hang on to his job.

WALLACE: In addition of which grand ayatollah of his own religious sect said today, hey, we need a new government here.

PACE: He does not have a lot of supporters right now. My winner is the U.S. World Cup team. A great victory over Ghana earlier this week and, fingers- crossed, maybe a second victory this weekend.

WALLACE: Over Portugal?

KRAUTHAMMER: Over Ghana? Where were we? Loser of the week is Hanley Ramirez, shortstop for the Dodgers. His pitcher Clayton Kershaw was pitching a perfect game. There are only about 20 or so of those in 110 years of baseball history, which means everybody up, everybody down. Well, the one ball that was hit to Hanley, he threw it away, no perfect game.  Such is life.

WALLACE: But he still got a no-hitter?

KRAUTHAMMER: Yes, but a no-hitter is run of the mill. A perfect game, as you would know as a baseball fan.


KRAUTHAMMER: Winner.        


KRAUTHAMMER: Abu Khatalla, the guy that we picked up in Libya. Here is a guy, a terrorist involved in the killing of -- the cruel hunting and killing of our ambassador. He is apprehended by the U.S. and he is now in the tender hands, instead of the military, of the Justice Department. There is not another country in the world that would have done that to him. He is a lucky man. Such is life in America.

WALLACE: See you after the show at the ballgame tonight.

KRAUTHAMMER: Maybe we will see a perfect game.

WALLACE: Maybe we will see a perfect game.

WALLACE: Hanley Ramirez is not going to be playing.

That's it for the panel. But stay tuned to see how far a cable news channel will go to promote a big interview.

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