Obama Deflects Blame for America's Economic Woes

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," August 12, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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JUAN WILLIAMS, GUEST HOST: In the "Unresolved Problem" segment tonight: President Obama trying to shift the blame for the economic chaos in last week's S&P credit downgrade.


PRESIDENT OBAMA: This downgrade you have been reading about could have been entirely avoided if there had been a willingness to compromise in Congress. It was a self-inflicted wound. That's why people are frustrated. Maybe you hear it in my voice. That's why I'm frustrated, because you deserve better. You guys deserve better.


WILLIAMS: With me now to analyze, liberal columnist Sally Kohn and joining us from Baltimore, Georgetown professor Chris Metzler. Chris, let me begin with you. Do you really think that he is personally frustrated and says, you know, I feel it in my voice, it's emotional. Do you buy this? Do you think that is genuine or is the president playing on just general anger at Washington and now positioning himself as an outsider who is blameless?

CHRIS METZLER, PROFESSOR, GEORGETOWN: Well, he is the ultimate insider in this particular case so I don't buy a bit of that "I feel your pain." Perhaps what he should have done is asked Bill Clinton to give him some lessons on how to feel pain. That was flat, it was weak and the fact of the matter is the problem is his lack of leadership. He has provided -- he has presided over outsourcing jobs and he now has outsourced leadership in Washington. So it is his fault. He is the commander in chief. He didn't take leadership in this particular case, and that's why we find ourselves where we are. Don't blame Standard and Poor's. They didn't bring up the debt. They didn't do any of those kinds of things. Shift the blame where it belongs: on the president of the United States.

WILLIAMS: Let Sally get in here.


WILLIAMS: Sally, now you are hearing people say, "Why is he shifting the blame? Why is he talking about everything from what's going on in Europe to tsunamis in Japan and earthquakes? Why doesn't he take some responsibility?"

SALLY KOHN, LIBERAL COLUMNIST: You know, I'm surprised to hear both you and Mr. Metzler say that because he has actually taken on a lot of the responsibility. What actually happened in the debt crisis was a president who abandoned everything that he and his party stand for to say, "Look, in the interest of this country I'm going to reach across the aisle, I'm going to agree to cuts that I think are actually bad for this economy, bad for job creation in order to try to bring the Republicans along to get a deal."

The S&P downgrade had nothing to do with the deficit talks because there was a deficit agreement that was passed and they still did the downgrade. Clearly they know what we all know, which is these cuts lead to cuts in jobs. That, unfortunately, is what Republicans have wanted all along. They want to see the economy tank to hurt his chance at re- election.

WILLIAMS: Sally, you are not addressing the larger topic here. It's not just about what happened in terms of the deal. It's about people saying you wanted stimulus spending, did it lower the unemployment rate? It's about people saying you have been in office now for two and a half years and we don't see this economy getting better. To the contrary, Americans are worried that the economy is getting worse.

KOHN: Look, I'm not defending a lot of what President Obama did. I think you know that about me. I think he should have done a bigger stimulus bill. I think part of the problem with the president out of the gate was he had this idea that, you know, look, we shouldn't talk just about numbers. These are real Americans who are really hurting right now, and this should have been a moment where we all come together as a nation to do what's needed. There is a playbook for how to recover from these disasters, these financial disasters. It's called the New Deal; it's called major spending that recoups where the private sector isn't spending. But unfortunately he tried to woo Republicans and they want to see him crash and burn.

METZLER: Oh, my God.

KOHN: That's their sole desire.

WILLIAMS: So you're saying the left is upset with Obama and doesn't buy that he's the one that's frustrated and blaming Republicans. The left is also upset with Obama.

KOHN: Yes, entirely.

WILLIAMS: Chris, I hear you mumbling and jumbling over there in Baltimore. What do you think of what Sally is saying?

METZLER: Well, you know, I absolutely believe that liberals live in a parallel ultimate universe here. There are a couple of problems here. No. 1, the president, if he in fact was such a leader on this why did he not come out and say you know what? Congress, this is what I want. I will veto anything else. What he has consistently done throughout his entire administration is really outsourced leadership. And I think what he has done is he has given Republicans probably one of the best campaign slogans that we can put forth. "You deserve better." Absolutely, we deserve better than a failed leader, Mr. President. Thank you for giving us that. We deserve better than you…

WILLIAMS: Hold on, hold on. Go ahead, Sally.

KOHN: On some level I agree with what Christopher is saying.

WILLIAMS: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. You agree?

KOHN: The president should have taken a stronger line. He should have said I'm the president. I was elected by the people to do these things, and I'm not going to worry about pleasing the Tea Party. I'm not going to worry about pleasing the new Tea Party caucus in Congress. I'm going to do what is right and necessary. I'm not going to worry about pleasing Wall Street, for instance. But he didn't do that. So in that sense, I do think that the president -- some of these wounds are self-inflicted. But let's also be clear. The American people feel that the entire political system has failed them. And as much as they don't like him right now, they dislike Republicans and Republicans in Congress more right now.

WILLIAMS: Right. There's no question -- there's no question.

KOHN: So, it's not shifting the blame.

WILLIAMS: It's interesting, if you look at the polls, the Congress is at historic lows in terms of its approval, and especially Republicans.

KOHN: They deserve it.

WILLIAMS: But here's the thing. Here's the odd part of this discussion here tonight on "The Factor" that Sally and Chris are talking past each other because Chris is upset from the right, Sally, you are upset from the left.

KOHN: A lot of us are.

WILLIAMS: Everybody is angry at President Obama. I mean, left and right.

KOHN: And this is the thing. I think the president -- we talked about does he feel pain? The difference and the thing that really could be admired from the left about the Republicans right now, they are willing to exact political pain. They are actually willing to sink the economy to hurt it. He wants to be everybody's friend.

WILLIAMS: And he's not willing to do it.

METZLER: Republicans are not willing to sink the economy. That's nonsense.

KOHN: He wants to be everybody's friend. They've said their No. 1 priority is not getting him re-elected.

METZLER: Republicans are not willing to sink the economy. That has nothing to do with it. Had he led, we wouldn't be in this particular situation. So don't you dare try to put the blame on the Republicans.

WILLIAMS: Chris, Sally, thank you both. We have got to go.

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