Is 'Obama Boom' Over in Europe?

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," May 25, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: While we cannot stop every injustice, there are circumstances that cut through our caution. When a leader is threatening to massacre his people and the international community is calling for action. That's why we stopped a massacre in Libya. And we will not relent until the people of Libya are protected and the shadow of tyranny is lifted.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: President Obama delivering a speech today, in front of parliament, in London. We're back with the panel. He's speaking about Libya there, Charles, what about that?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, the British obviously are unhappy with our non-action, pulling back after the initial action in Libya. They said so a lot in private, a little bit in public. They didn't say anything about it in the public now. It was a meeting where you didn't want to raise that in public -- but it's clear it's a source of friction.

But look, we are now set in the stalemate. There are not going to be any dramatic moves. There will be a staying on course, hope that the pressure increases and ultimately it will succeed. But there was no news on that, except for the fact that the British acted in a fairly correct way in not airing any unhappiness over the American position.

BAIER: Has, Chuck, the way the way the president phrases Libya changed in your opinion over the past few weeks?

CHARLES LANE, WASHINGTON POST: I found there is a sort of, a more Churchillian Obama that comes out when he starts talking about Libya these days. Maybe it's just being in England. But he's got one problem. Ya know he said when a leader is threatening to massacre his people, the idea was you would go into Libya and deter others from doing that. And look, Syria, they are massacring more possibly than were massacred in Libya. And he doesn't have any answer for that. I think, ya know, he's trying to say, well you have to pick your spots and so forth. To me he sounds contradictory on that point.

BAIER: Steve?

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: What's fascinating is he addressed head on the criticism that the United States hasn't been leading enough. And I think he did in a way that hid the United States behind Europe. And that's precisely what happened with respect to Libya at the beginning. You had France and England leading the way, the United States waffling, the president not actually doing anything, occasionally having some tough words to say, but not following.

But it's interesting that that is the way he chose to frontally address this question of the U.S. role in the world and U.S. leadership by coming together with Europe and essentially falling behind Europe.

BAIER: Chuck, this is leading to the G-8. And what about this trip overall? I mean, is it positive imagewise, for the president?

LANE: I'm just struck by the contrast between the trip in 2008, when he was a candidate and it was almost as if he were on a victory tour, he was received by the huge crowds and so forth. And the mood today in Europe vis a vis Obama, which is much more skeptical. He has been attacked in the press there for, quote/unquote "executing" bin Laden. I think there's a great disappointing and gnashing of teeth because Guantanamo is still open. He has not got terrific relationship with the chancellor of Germany.

And I think lot of the sort of Obama boom is over in Europe. Probably because the Europeans didn't reckon with the fact that once he became president he was gonna have to acknowledge some realities, that a lot of the stuff he ran on, he just wasn't going to be able to do, and that also some of the things his predecessor was doing were actually not avoidable.

BAIER: Charles?

KRAUTHAMMER: Well what's interesting to me is how unimportant the visit is. How there's no real news. In fact the entire idea of the G-8 is completely obsolete. The only reason we expanded the G-7, which was the western industrial democracies to add Russia was in the Yeltsin days, where we thought it was a way to coax them into a democratic alliance of sorts. Obviously under Putin, it's not a highly industrial society, it exports oil, and gas, and caviar and not a lot else. And it isn't a democracy for sure. So why do we have a G-8? I think it's a kind of a going through motions. And that's all that this trip, I think, ultimately is going to amount to.

BAIER: There is a lot of apprehension over in Europe about not only the Euro but the status of their economy, and that will factor in heavily over the next couple of days.

KRAUTHAMMER: And I'm sure there is worry about American debt. I mean clearly, we are being rather reckless. Europe is a way to see into our future, into what is gonna happen, and we are not acting in a responsible way, at least the party in power is not exploiting all these issues and not looking seriously at debt.

BAIER: That's it for the panel. But stay tuned to see if president Obama can hold his own overseas.

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