Gingrich on Tense Relationship Between White House, McChrystal

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," October 5, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: And tonight in "Your America" now that the 2016 Olympics are off President Obama's plate, the world awaits his decision on future troop deployments to Afghanistan and one person who is eager to get that answer is General Stanley McChrystal who is reportedly in President Obama's doghouse.

Now according to The London Telegraph, McChrystal's blunt comments about the need for more troops on the ground in Afghanistan have outraged the White House.

So will he ultimately be granted the support he says he needs to win this war in Afghanistan?

We're joined now by the former speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, who along with his wife, Callista, hosts a brand-new DVD, "Rediscovering God in America II".

Video: Watch Sean's interview

And by the way, your wife is going to be joining us later, your better half. Good to see you.


HANNITY: A rare New York appearance. This is troubling to me. McChrystal writes a report in late August, says if we don't get more troops on the ground we risk failure. The only reason we know this is it got leaked to The Washington Post. McChrystal then says he's only spoken to the commander-in-chief twice in, what, 100 days. And now they're lashing out at the general.

GINGRICH: It's — you know, it's very strange. I saw what General Jones, the national security adviser, said the other day, if the White House had not cleared McChrystal's speech in London, why was he giving it?

I mean the whole point of having a chain of command is for the chain to command. And it seems to me that — I don't know who leaked the report in August, it didn't help McChrystal, it didn't help President Obama, but surely since the president knew that McChrystal was going to be in London, did the president arrange for him to come to Copenhagen to meet, surely the White House should have known that he was giving a speech and that they should have known what the speech was.

So if that speech had not been cleared, there's a real, I think, failure of responsibility in the White House to not have the appropriate relationship with the general.

The second point you made I think is equally troubling. To be commander in chief, you have to actually be in the chain of command. You're not only in the chain of observation, you're not in the chain of oratory. You're supposed to know enough to be in command. When you have an active war underway with young Americans getting killed, you have an obligation in this day and age to talk both to General Petraeus and to talk to General McChrystal.

And I think it's very unusual that the lack of face time, the lack of genuine communication that we're being told about between President Obama and his generals.

HANNITY: Well, especially when the general is saying we risk failure. Now that would get my attention if I were the commander in chief.

GINGRICH: By the way, the British — the new top general in the British army said exactly the same thing. And he came out and said if NATO and the United States — NATO as a whole including the United States, do not increase forces, we are risking a disaster in Afghanistan.

This is somebody who is not part of the American political system, he's not reporting to the American president, but I thought it was very sobering that he felt even more strongly than General McChrystal has stated that we are in a really serious situation.

And if you'll notice, the casualties we're starting to take are from very small outposts that are overextended that have inadequate capabilities to defend themselves appropriately.

HANNITY: With this lack of decisiveness it seems like we're putting our troops in jeopardy, emboldening an enemy, they now know that the president is not acting, seems precarious to me.

All right, this is a huge week for health care. I mean.

GINGRICH: Enormous.

HANNITY: We've got, what, three bills in the House, two bills in the Senate that are trying to sort of make their way through the process.

GINGRICH: We're exploring something here and I want to go out on a limb for a minute because we're exploring this from several senators but we were given indications today — David Merit from the Center of Transformation was briefing me — that the bill which was passed by the health committee — health, education, labor and pensions — has been changed significantly by the staff since it left the committee.

Now if we're in a world where senators vote over here and then two months later a totally new bill shows up that isn't the bill the senators voted on, there's something really profoundly wrong going on in the U.S. Senate.

We also know the Senate Finance Committee had no bill. They were marking up off of ideas. Now maybe it's because I'm from the House of Representatives, but the idea that you legislate implies legislation?

HANNITY: You got to write it up.

GINGRICH: You have to write it up.

HANNITY: Got to be scored.

GINGRICH: I really do think we're going to have to adopt new and much stricter rules for the way the Congress legislates because the system, frankly, is becoming sick where you end up with a 26-year-old staffer at 3:00 in the morning with a word processor rewriting legislation on their own.

HANNITY: Yes. Well, it seems — how do you reconcile these bills? When you —

GINGRICH: I'll tell you what's going to happen. You're going to have Harry Reid, the Democratic majority leader from Nevada, you're going to have Max Baucus, you're going to have the chairman of the health committee. They're going to get into a room.

They're each going to have two or three staff people. They're going to argue for several hours. They're going to make some deals. They're going to write a bill. They're going to bring it to the floor and they're going to say, "Here's the new bill," which means basically three senators and six or eight staff people are now writing the Senate's legislation.

HANNITY: But they — even though President Obama promised us transparency there was an opportunity in the Senate last week that they put this bill online for 72 hours. Did you hear what Max Baucus' response was? He said, well, it would take me two weeks to get the bill online.


HANNITY: Now, if it takes you two —

GINGRICH: The bill doesn't exist.

HANNITY: Well, if it takes you two weeks to get it online — if you can't — I could upload it in 30 seconds.

GINGRICH: This is — no, because the bill doesn't exist. You're missing the point here. You think there's a bill.

HANNITY: All right. So there's no bill.

GINGRICH: This is the case.

HANNITY: And it's not going to be scored. By the CBO.

GINGRICH: This is the case where somebody could make a pretty good movie, "Hunting for the Bill."


HANNITY: Yes. That's your next project. I like it.

GINGRICH: But it's really bizarre.

HANNITY: All right. Let me ask you this, I don't care if it's national defense or the stimulus or the economy, but what Barack Obama is doing scares the living daylights out of me. And I mean this — I don't say this is frivolous way, I think he is hurting the economy in a profound way.

I think he is, deep in his soul, more radical than any one anticipated. I believe he's a socialist, I don't — the idea that we would Mirandize enemy combatants on the battlefield and sit down with a Holocaust denier is frightening to me.

How bad do you think he is?

GINGRICH: I think we do not yet know whether he's capable of learning and changing or whether in fact he is so committed to a left-wing world view that he is literally out of touch with what's going on.

But as you know, when you have 9.8 unemployment instead of 8, there is something profound that is wrong that is going on in this country right now.

HANNITY: We appreciate it.

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