David Gregory to Hillary Clinton: Might GOP Hurt U.S. Prestige and Obama on World Stage?
David Gregory is clearly concerned that if Republicans don't vote in favor of the START treaty with Russia, President Obama's international image, as well as American prestige abroad, will be damaged.
On Sunday's "Meet the Press," Gregory asked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, "Is this going to potentially be a problem with the president not being able to get what he wants on the world stage because of Republicans?" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
DAVID GREGORY, HOST: I want to talk about this showdown between the president and Senate Republicans over the START treaty. The president, in his comments to reporters, made it very clear he thinks politics is being played here, saying to reporters, "Nobody's going to score any political points to 2012." Is that the president's belief here about what's standing in the way? And in your view, is this really a, a litmus test of whether there can be bipartisanship in Washington after the election?
HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, I think the president believes strongly, and I agree with him, that this treaty is in the national security interest of the United States. And it's not only Americans who believe that. I'm, you know, very impressed by the number of leaders at the NATO Lisbon summit who voluntarily told their own press, or American press, they were chasing down reporters to say this is so much in the interest of Europe and others. So the president sees this very clearly. But I don't think he considers this a political issue. It's a question of whether we have the time and whether we can make the case in the limited time that the lame duck provides to satisfy the concerns of two-thirds of the Senate. I think we can. I think that everyone has operated in good faith. We have looked hard at this. When it came out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, it came out with an overwhelming bipartisan vote, 14-to-4. I think that the questions are being--that are being asked by Republicans deserve thoughtful answers. And everyone in the administration stands ready, from Bob Gates to Jim Clapper, the head of the--director of national intelligence, because we all see it in the same way. And we're in the tradition of both Republican and Democratic presidents, going back to Ronald Reagan, who famously said, "Trust, but verify." We have no verification without a treaty about what's going on in Russia's nuclear program. So I think whether you're, you know, already convinced or can be convinced, I think we want to get our inspectors back on the ground, and the only way to do that is by ratifying this treaty.
Well thought out, diplomatic, and reasonable answer on Clinton's part. But Gregory wasn't pleased with the obvious lack of partisanship:
MR. GREGORY: Is there an issue, though, of American prestige? The president was dealt a setback on fair trade when he was in Seoul. There was a feeling, when it comes to whether it's trade or economic policy, that America can't always get what it wants. Is this going to potentially be a problem with the president not being able to get what he wants on the world stage because of Republicans?
Fascinating to see a member of the media overtly displaying a greater level of partisan politics than his extremely powerful Democrat guest, isn't it?
Can you imagine Gregory being similarly concerned about a Republican president's image if Senate Democrats weren't convinced a treaty had to be signed during a lame duck session of Congress?
Yes, that was a rhetorical question.