Should President Obama Be Vacationing During Crises?

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," March 18, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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JUAN WILLIAMS, GUEST HOST: In the "Factor Follow-up" segment tonight: President Obama's heading down to Brazil with the family for a little spring break vacation. But some conservatives say he shouldn't be relaxing; world crises are exploding in Libya, Japan, not to mention the troubled American economy and budget problems right here at home.

Do they have a point, or is this just partisan sniping from Republicans? That's a good question. So joining us from Los Angeles, Fox News analyst and radio talk show host Leslie Marshall, and here in New York, Fox News analyst and New York Daily News columnist Andrea Tantaros. Andrea, let me start with you. Newt Gingrich says we don't have a commander in chief; we have a spectator in chief. Is that right?

ANDREA TANTAROS, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Yes. I mean, that's pretty much what it is. Look, I think this guy just has a priority issue. I mean, it seems like he is operating on a different set of priorities, and this isn't the first time.

When he was trying to pass Obamacare, everyone was saying what are you doing? This isn't the No. 1 issue. Now we have got a government that needs to be funded through a budget that he failed to pass last year. Republicans and Democrats are saying, "Where is this president?"

We have got issues in Libya. Also, he wants to cut defense funding but now he wants to go into Libya. And he's heading to Rio.

Look, I'm all for the president getting rest and relaxation. It's a demanding job. I just think he has a real perception issue and he doesn't know when to stay here and not fill out the brackets, not go to Rio, not golf. I mean, come on, he should be smarter than that.

WILLIAMS: Oh come on. Anyway, Leslie, let me let you respond to this. Leslie, in fact, one of the things that really caught my eye today was you had about more than 60 senators, bipartisan group saying to President Obama in a letter we need your leadership. You should take a position on these budget negotiations rather than Mr. Serene, Mr. Calm, Mr. Cool, Mr. Aloof, lay back, I'm not in it, you guys settle it. What do you say, Leslie?

LESLIE MARSHALL, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: First of all, Juan, he's not their daddy. I mean, he is the commander in chief. He put forth a budget that the Republicans don't like. The Democrats don't even like all of it. He did say this is a beginning and they are going to have to work out the rest. That's their job to do.

Regarding going to Brazil, this was planned a long time ago. It's not just a vacation. He is there regarding oil and technology, which we will benefit from greatly and even have job creation. Let's not forget a lot of the contracts from the Gulf went to Brazil and hopefully in the future a trade deal because right now there is concern about China's currency. And also the Brazilian manufacturers are complaining about the quality or lack thereof of Chinese goods. They are made cheaply and we can benefit in the long-term from that, exporting our goods to Brazil and creating more jobs.

WILLIAMS: Let me stay with that point. That's an interesting point. Andrea, you are saying he shouldn't take the trip or should he?

TANTAROS: Look, I'm not begrudging him for the vacation.

WILLIAMS: Wait, wait, wait. She didn't say vacation. She said he went down there…

TANTAROS: OK. All right. He wants to go down and talk about investments.

WILLIAMS: That's right.

TANTAROS: With what money? I guess we'll just ask Japan to give us more money. Wait, we can't ask the Japanese.

WILLIAMS: Wait a second. Increasing exports with a growing economy in Brazil is what Leslie was saying.

TANTAROS: Yes, well, OK. He can work, but don't you think he could postpone the trip and deal with the real issues here?

WILLIAMS: Well, there are always going to be issues.

TANTAROS: I think domestic issues he has taken his eye off the ball again. I think U.S. interests need to be paramount, and I think that this guy just does not have U.S. interest at heart. He's got no discernible policy in the Middle East. He's cherry-picking which revolution to support. More and more…

WILLIAMS: All right. All right. You are changing -- wait, wait, you're changing the topic.

TANTAROS: No. It's still on leadership.

WILLIAMS: All right. If it's leadership, Leslie, come back to the leadership issue. You saw what happened today in Libya. Is he, again, abdicating leadership, which is Andrea's point? That he's a weak leader; he's not the kind of leader that says, "Here is the orders, gentlemen. Let's move forward."

MARSHALL: I'm a liberal Democrat who wanted Hillary to be my president. He was my second choice and I voted for him. I have to say when I heard him speak today regarding resolution 1973, he sounded the most presidential I have heard him speak in a long time. And I was like that's what I want President Obama. And I thought he hit it out of the park.

You know what? When we look at Japan, sending the resources, the military, the money, helping as much as we can: check. When it comes to Libya, we are with the security resolution that was passed in the U.N., as a part of the U.N. Not leading it for a change but working with allies such as Lebanon, Great Britain, France, and that's what we're doing there in Libya. That's what he said he was going to do: check.

WILLIAMS: All right. All right. So Andrea -- that's a strong case. You have made a strong case. Andrea, you just heard her say she heard a leader speak today and she's saying there are real concrete outcomes in Libya, in Japan.

TANTAROS: Look, I don't have any criticism with him on Japan. I think he is hamstrung. I think he did what he needed to do. I'm not going to beat him up on that. In Libya, though, he should have never come out. The minute he said Qaddafi must go, committed the prestige of the United States and did nothing to remove him and waited and waited and waited, he shouldn't have made that comment.

Here is what I would have liked to have heard from him. He either comes out and he says I don't want a third war. I don't want one more U.S. American boy or girl dying for this country. We have had enough. Or, I'm going to go to NATO, I'm going to use my community organizing skills, I'm going to get everyone together, and then we are going to put together a resolution. I didn't hear that.

WILLIAMS: Well, you did hear -– wait, Leslie. Isn't that what we heard today?

TANTAROS: No, we heard the Arab League pressure him, along with France and Britain.

WILLIAMS: Wait, wait. Let's ask Leslie. Give Leslie a shot here.

MARSHALL: Yes, that's what -- hey, wait a minute. Ronald Reagan said that Qaddafi was a maniac in the desert. Please. And I thought he was the God for the Republicans. The president today was clear. This is what we're going to do. This is why we are going to do it. And you know what? He was criticized because he didn't stand up sooner and wasn't clearer about Hosni Mubarak stepping down. Now that he does do it, you guys are criticizing him. Andrea, you are just picking on him no matter what he says.

TANTAROS: No. There's no -- Leslie, there is no clear picture on where he stands in the Middle East. His finger goes up and whatever the way the wind is blowing that's where he goes. Even Hillary Clinton came out and criticized him. Look, Ronald Reagan never came out and said Qaddafi must go and talked about removal without actually backing it up.

WILLIAMS: All right. So let Leslie respond. Quickly, Leslie.

MARSHALL: Bottom line, I disagree. I think he is very clear. He is on the side of democracy and he is against the side of genocide. That's why we are taking the actions we did as a part of this resolution.

WILLIAMS: All right.

TANTAROS: I think more and more -– this is the wrong job for him.

WILLIAMS: Ladies, we have to go. But let me just say, that was an example of a fair and balanced debate right here on Fox.

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