This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," March 14, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, U.S. PRESIDENT: March is Women's History Month, a time not only to celebrate the progress that women have made but also the women throughout our history who have made that progress possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Well, that was President Obama, the radio address that's also, of course, broadcast on the websites from the White House. And this is the president leaving in the motorcade to go golf on Saturday afternoon. About that, the president of the Media Research Council said this, "If George Bush reacted this way during an international catastrophe -- wholly irrelevant radio addresses, golf outing for the 61st time, the left wing media would require medically induced sedation to keep them in check."
What about the imaging around the golf, the radio and internet address, the imaging from the White House? We're back with the panel. Mara?
MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Well what I think this tells us more is really just about the partisan climate in Washington, because Brent Bozell, who's a conservative media critic, said that. And I'm sure if George Bush did something like that, the left wing media would say, "boy if a Democratic president did that, we'd be really beat up." So everybody sees it through their own lens.
On this one, I feel like he on Friday -- first of all, he was woken up in the middle of the night, Friday morning or whenever the quake hit at 4:00 a.m. or something. He spoke quite emotionally about it at his press conference on Friday when he was asked a question about the Japanese reporter. And the president can communicate on many platforms and on many ways.
And to me, if he wants to go play basketball to blow off some steam and stay healthy, I don't have a problem with it. He -- it isn't like he is ignoring it. The U.S. is doing a lot. And he explained what we were doing on Friday. You could have a whole other discussion about Libya, which is different, but in terms of the imaging this weekend, I, for one, really don't have a problem with it.
BAIER: OK, golf this weekend? Steve?
STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Well it's interesting. I've been -- I haven't been very critical of him on this golfing. It is something that a lot of people have been, but basically my view has been, if the guy needs to take a four or five-hour break when he's the president of the United States, he needs a break, ya take a mental break -- I get it. I've defended him on that.
This is crazy. Like what he's doing now is insane. I mean Libya's melting down, it's part of a broader meltdown in the Middle East. You've got this humanitarian disaster in Japan, possible nuclear problem as we were talking about and you've got, you know, budget issues here that are not getting solved, and for which his own party is calling on him to be much more involved and much more hands on.
LIASSON: Yes, but he can do all that -- and still golf.
HAYES: Really, can he do it from the golf course?
LIASSON: Yes-- no. He can get involved in the budget debate and show more leadership and still golf on the weekends. In other words those two things are not mutually exclusive.
HAYES: Let's say that you are right hypothetically. Let's say that you're right for the sake of argument. The question is, what does it say about his image? I mean what does this do to his image? And the image is, whether it's fair or not, I think it's fair, but if you are, ya know, in Libya and you're going out and you want to fight for your own freedom and the president of the United States is not providing a no-fly zone, basically is taking a nonchalant attitude to what is going on there and is out golfing, it sends the wrong message.
LIASSON: But that's a policy problem, not an image problem.
HAYES: It sends the wrong message.
BAIER: Okay well let me just really quickly play a sound bite from today on Libya before we get to your comments on this weekend. Go ahead --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: It is going to be very important for to us look at a wide range of options that continue to tighten the noose around Mr. Qaddafi and apply additional pressure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: "Tightening the noose around Qaddafi," we are seeing every indication on the ground that the noose is not tightening, and in fact, Qaddafi is taking his forces out to other regions of that country.
CHRIS STIREWALT, FOX NEWS POLITICS EDITOR DIGITAL: Yeah, he is the hangman. Qaddafi, I think, as the administration itself said in the form of former retired General Clapper, he is going to win. He has resources, he has the troops, and there's not much that it seems like the United States of the world is willing to do about it.
I think the problem for the president -- I think first of all, golf is good. It teaches character, teaches humility. The president should play golf, it's a good for people to do. But, I think the problem for President Obama is he has chosen a policy of strategic disengagement on seemingly everything, whether it's the budget, whether it's Libya. He did it in Egypt, he did it on everything else. He says, I step back, I allow you to work out your own solution and then I'll bless whatever solution comes out at the end. He did it on healthcare to a large part and the stimulus. It's not mine to do, it is mine to pass judgment on in the end.
It's disengagement. And you're right, the optics stink, and for Americans who increasingly see him as disengaged it's a problem.
BAIER: 10 seconds, Mara. I mean, gender equality is an important issue. But in the wake of all of these big issues do you change the radio address? The internet address?
LIASSON: Yeah, on that one I think that's fair. The internet -- the radio address is a chance where you can get the country's attention focused on giving money to Japan or whatever else you might want them to do. On that one, I think it's fair. But I think it's a policy problem, not just an image problem.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)
BAIER: That is it for the panel. But stay tuned for a former member of the Washington bureau commenting on some good news.
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