OTR Interviews

'Failure upon failure': The disintegration of the Obama presidency

From the 'red line' in Syria to Russia to the rise of ISIS and the apparent lack of success of airstrikes against Islamist State, the world has witnesses failure after failure in president's foreign policy


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," October 10, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Well, this headline is a sizzler, "The Disintegration of the Obama Presidency." "The Weekly Standard's" Steve Hayes describing President Obama's time in office as failure upon failure.

And Steve joins us. Nice to see you, Steve.


VAN SUSTEREN: Very comprehensive article. And it really picks the Obama administration apart piece by piece.

HAYES: Yeah. What I wanted to do with this piece -- and it's pretty long -- was take the longer view. I mean, we do so much day-to-day reporting. We get caught up in the news cycles. But I wanted to take a step back and say, OK, we are almost six years in, where are we in this presidency? I think it's very hard to come to any other conclusion but that we are looking at a failed presidency right now.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I went through the list. I said, OK, what did he do? He got bin Laden.

HAYES: Got bin Laden.

VAN SUSTEREN: And I should say that he did issue the order.


HAYES: Give him credit.

VAN SUSTEREN: OK, ObamaCare, that would be other part of his legacy, and the jury is out. A lot of people hate it. The jury is sought for many other people. Only other significant thing is gay marriage, but that was done largely by the states, although his attorney general didn't fight it. Other than that, go through the list and it's -- everything is -- his speech in Cairo is going to solve the problem in the Muslim world. That didn't happen. Immigration speech 2010, that didn't happen. Climate change, that didn't happen. Gitmo didn't happen. Iraq is falling apart. Transparency, we don't have any. Even "The New York Times" says he's not transparent. It goes on and on and on.

HAYES: It does. I think you can go issue by issue. Look at the world right now. He ended the war in Iraq. He, in effect, ended the global war on terror. He decided not to get involved in Syria. And, yet, here we are now doing air strikes, pinprick air strikes to save Iraq from imploding. You know, we are not actually going to get involved in Syria. It's clear that al Qaeda is back.


HAYES: This was core al Qaeda that was supposed to be defeated that we are fighting in Iraq and Syria right now.

VAN SUSTEREN: That's what he said in his 2012 -- the Democratic convention. I mean, he stated he end the war in Iraq. What's your definition of how he ended it? If it ended so abruptly that it's now a catastrophic problem, I don't consider that ending it.

HAYES: You are right. You are absolutely right. He ended it. He didn't win it. There is a big difference between the two. But is he running around the country telling people, boasting that he ended the war in Iraq. Look at the speech that he gave to announce these new air strikes. It's like he hasn't learned anything. He boasts about having ended the war in Iraq and promises that he is going to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, not learning any lessons what a lack of a U.S. presence there has done.

VAN SUSTEREN: Air strikes were some definition of his foreign policy. But the problem is that he got pushed into it because two Americans got beheaded. The American people turned against him. The American people basically directed him to do it. That was the American foreign policy. That was not his. He was looking the other way the last six months.

HAYES: During the 2012 campaign, one of the things he said repeatedly on the stump was we are going it nation-build here at home. We are going to turn our sights inward. It was clear to a lot of people at the time that the world wasn't going to cooperate. The world doesn't work that way. The United States can't just decide we want to focus on what we're going to do at home and not pay attention to the world. I think we have seen the results of what not paying attention to the world has yielded.

VAN SUSTEREN: He would say it's the Republicans. They've been up against me every step of the way.

HAYES: I think the Republicans have been up against him every step of the way. No question, if you look at polling, that Republicans share some of the blame. But go back to the beginning stages of his administration. When he passed the stimulus, in effect, he said to Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats, you take this, do what you want with it. He said he was going to listen to Republicans. He had them over for cocktails at the White House.

In terms of actually including any Republican policy ideas, he has rejected that pretty consistently all along. Mitch McConnell said to me just a couple months into the Obama presidency, if we are willing to compromise, if he will actually take some of our ideas, if he is actually talking about substantive compromise, what we are not willing to do is go and meet with him and have happy talk with him and have him campaign and govern on his own. And that's what the president has done.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, it's a very comprehensive article in "The Weekly Standard." I urge our viewers to read it.


VAN SUSTEREN: Steve, thank you.