'Special Report' Panel on President Obama's Trip to Russia

This is a rush transcript of "Special Report With Bret Baier" from July 6, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: The president and I agreed that the relationship betwee n Russia and the United States has suffered from a since of drift. We resolved to reset U.S.- Russian relations so that we can cooperate more effectively in areas of common interest.

President Medvedev and I are committed to leaving behind the suspicion and the rivalry of the past so that we can advance the interests that we hold in common.


BRET BAIER, "SPECIAL REPORT" HOST: President Obama in Moscow at a joint press availability with the Russian president is saying he trusts President Medvedev not only to listen but ne gotiate constructively and follow through on the agreements.

Today's agreement dealt with drawing down the sizable cuts in nuclear weapons, really the biggest in seven years. But how much does that make a difference in U.S.-Russian relations?

Let's bring in our panel, Fred Barnes, Executive Editor of The Weekly Standard, Juan Williams, news analyst for National Public Radio, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer.

Charles, the reduction in nuclear warheads stockpiles from 3,000 to between 1,500 and 1,600, and a reduction of delivery systems, submarines and long-range bombers, from 1,600 to roughly 500 — to 1,100, anywhere in that range — significant? What about this deal today?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: That was the deal that Obama really was lusting after as a way to come home and to wave a diplomatic success.

The problem is that any deal on offensive nuclear weaponry is either useless or a detriment to the United States, useless because it makes no difference above a certain level how many warheads you have.

We could suspend our negotiations today and say to the Russians you can construct as many warheads as you want and spend yourselves into penury, as the Soviets did, to make weapons that are redundant, that will do nothing more than make the rubble bounce, as Churchill once said, memorably. It could be a detriment because the Russians have insisted on linkage between offensive and defensive weaponry. The reason it's a detriment is because we have a huge technological advantage on defensive weaponry. We can shoot down a missile. The Russians can't.

For 25 years, the Russians have attempted to get a curve on American defensive weaponry, starting at Reykjavik, where Gorbachev attempted to swindle Reagan out of our strategic defenses. Reagan said no. Bush I said no. Clinton said no. And Bush II said no.

Obama is wavering on this, and I think it could be a real catastrophe if he concedes. He already is wavering on the missile shield in Eastern Europe. Medvedev said we agreed on linkage, and Obama himself had said it would be the subject of extensive negotiations.

Why negotiations with the Russians over a shield in the Czech republic of Poland?

BAIER: Juan?

JUAN WILLIAMS, NEWS ANALYST, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: They'll negotiate with them over the shield because, as President Obama said, it doesn't matter at this point. The Russians have so much nuclear power at this point that it would overwhelm us.

What we are really talking about here is stopping what was described in today's press conference as a stray missile coming from a third source.

And it is all about, it seems to me, in large part the fact that the Russians felt that they were not properly respected by the Bush administration over the last eight years or so.

The Bush administration properly said the Russians just aren't the players they used to be in the midst of the cold war in terms of being our antagonists or a separate sphere of influence in the world. They diminished as a military foe and as an economic rival. It never even really mattered because as an economic rival.

S what we are talking about now is President Obama going over there and saying yes, we do respect you, are we are willing to work with you, and there are important subjects.

And if you listened to the press conference today, Medvedev repeatedly said that the relationship between the U.S. and Russia is so important to all the world. It is like a matter of pride to the Russians that we take them seriously.

And on the matter of reducing nuclear arms, I agree with Charles. I think it doesn't have any great strategic significance once you get beyond a certain number.

But it does have significance if you care about what is going on with North Korea and Iran in terms of sending a signal to them that we are responsible and rational and intent on reducing and not increasing our weaponry.

BAIER: Fred?

FRED BARNES, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": I was sorry to see President Obama play along with this idea that the Russians had been bad and the Bush administration has been bad and suspicion and rivalry.

Stop a minute and think what the Bush administration did. They defended the sovereignty and democracy of some of these former satellites of the Soviet Union of Russia that want to be part of the west, want to be a part of NATO, want to be protected from Russia. That's what he defended, democracy.

President Bush promoted missile defense aimed at Iranian missile in Poland and the Czech Republic, and tried to get the Russians to help stop the Iranians from developing nuclear weapons.

What are the Russians doing? They're actually helping them, providing some technology and anti-aircraft, and so on, that would help the Iranians. That's what the Bush administration did.

And is that what we're re-setting, that they did something wrong?

Look, these guys may not be communists now, but they're former communists, and they have some of the same thuggish tendencies. That's why President Obama got nowhere on the only issues that mattered, missile defense, Iran, and the democracies in Eastern Europe.

BAIER: And to that point, Charles, Major reported that the administration officials saying that the two presidents had a frank discussion about Georgia and Russia's actions in Georgia this past year. What about that?

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, Obama still was wobbly on that, frank or not. What he said actually is we work through our disagreements on Georgia's borders. So it's a matter of disagreement — should you invade or not, should Russia detach the western half of Georgia and incorporate it as it has? It sounds as if he is pretty equivocal on this.

And when he talks about a sense of drift, it is, as Fred indicated, it is coming out of the ether, out of mutual actions. It was because less than a year ago Russia invaded a friendly, democratic neighbor, and split off the western half of that country. That's not adrift. That's aggression.

BAIER: Juan, last word. The president said he trusts Medvedev. That's not like looking into his eyes and seeing his soul, but he did say he trusts him.

BARNES: Awfully close!

BAIER: Awfully close.

WILLIAMS: Yes, but he said he trusts him to follow through on the deal. And by the way, he, in the news conference, President Obama did say that you have got to respect Georgian sovereignty, and made it very clear they have a difference there.

BARNES: Juan, thugs always want respect.

WILLIAMS: No, respect Georgia!

BARNES: No, I'm talking about Medvedev and Putin.

BAIER: Do we know anything of the important answers today when it comes to Sarah Palin that perhaps we didn't know over the weekend? Well, the panel weighs in on all of that, next.


BAIER: Does former — soon to be former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin have her eye on that house? Here is what she wrote on Facebook over the weekend — "The response in the mainstream media has been most predictable, ironic, and, as always, detached from the lives of ordinary Americans who are sick of the politics of personal destruction.

How sad that Washington and the media will never understand, it's about country. And though it's honorable for countless others to leave their positions for a higher calling and with finishing a term, of course we know by now, for some reason a different standard applies for the decisions I make.

But every American understands what it takes to make a decision because it's right for all, including your family."

We have confirmed she did, in fact, write that.

We're back with the panel about Sarah Palin who will sit down for an interview with our own Dan Springer later tonight. We will air it here on the FOX News Channel tomorrow morning — Fred?

FRED BARNES, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": I'm glad Dan Springer is getting this interview for FOX, but what she needs to do is fewer interviews, probably no interviews, and a lot more planning, because I don't think she has planned anything.

I talked to the Lieutenant Governor Sean Parnell yesterday, and he said she has just has been complaining how terrible the governorship had become, all these ethics cases brought against her, an ethics piece of legislation she had actually championed earlier when she was governor, and all these requests for records, and it was just dominating the office of governor, getting attacked by the media.

She was having a terrible life. And how do you get out of it? You resign.

That doesn't mean you have a strategy for running for office, for running for the presidency, that you have some plan that you're going to care I out now that makes sense, because if she were really thinking about running, and she may later, but if that were her chief goal, to run for the White House, she wouldn't have quit.

I mean, look at all the people, if you just go back over history, there are a lot of governors who have won the presidency. Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, and so on. They have all serve a number of terms. They were not dropouts and they didn't act like victims of the press.

BAIER: You might not be surprised, but Rush Limbaugh had a different take on this. Take a listen to this. Hold on.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I don't think this precludes her running for office down the road, the presidency in 2012, at all. I think these people saying that she is an instant target because she quit is just — that's just inside the beltway formulaic. And she's not that.


BAIER: Inside the beltway formulaic — Fred?

BARNES: Well, I'm inside the beltway.

But look, no, I do think she has a future if she does a certain thing. My advice would be to run for the House and Senate, be a legislator here in Washington, a congressman from Alaska. She would learn a lot. She is only 45. If she were in the House and then the Senate, she could run in 2020.

And look, there is one thing she has that nobody else has, and that is this magnetic, charismatic personality. She is exciting. Nobody else is.

BAIER: Juan, what about the Facebook posting?

WILLIAMS: It just invites derision. And I don't want to join in or play into her argument that the media, the inside the beltway are beating up on her.

It is just that it is so puzzling. It's so puzzling. It was puzzling Friday when it was announced. Everyone has been puzzled over the weekend. Today around Washington people saying the prospect of Obama versus Palin in 2012 after she quits in the middle of her term as governor, that's no fight. That's a rout to the Democrats.

So even her fans are somewhat puzzled.

Where is the base that is going to respond positively to this? You could say evangelicals, white, Republican males. Men love Sarah Palin more than women.

But you have to do something with the independents, and this move this weekend, given that a large number of independents are females, hasn't helped her.

BAIER: Charles, what about Carl Cameron's reporting that she is going to start being much more visible, more present on TV shows, speaking out about various issues that rile up conservatives across the country? What about that?

KRAUTHAMMER: If she thinks that this decision is a way to advance her political career, she is delusional. She could survive this. It's possible. It may not be a fatal decision, but it's not an advancement.

It is a quitting, and I think it's largely a personal decision, a reasonable one. There was a lot of heat, a lot of attacks, and she wanted out, and that's OK.

If there was a political calculation, it would have to be, if it were rational, that after the age of Obama, you know, way down the road, there are second acts in American politics. Reagan returned. Nixon returned. Clinton returned. It's possible. But she has to make herself serious. If she imagined she is going to be a Reagan in the wilderness in the '70's and lead a movement, she has to be like Reagan, who was a serious man with serious ideas, who studied, who wrote, who thought, and made himself a major figure. If she doesn't do that, she's toast.

BAIER: One-word answer — does she run in 2012?



KRAUTHAMMER: Absolutely not.

BAIER: That's it for the panel, but stay tuned for some analysis of a cosmopolitan president.

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